Saturday, April 26, 2008

Writerly Thoughts While Wandering Through The Garden On A Saturday Morning...

"They always called it Magic and indeed it seemed like it in the months that followed -- the wonderful months -- the radiant months -- the amazing ones. Oh! the things which happened in that garden! If you have never had a garden you cannot understand, and if you have had a garden you will know that it would take a whole book to describe all that came to pass there."

~ Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden ~

One of my most favorite and certainly one
of the most magical roses in the garden ~
'Veilchenblau,' ('Violet Blue'), is an old
rambler found in the 1800's. They are
once bloomers, in the spring only, but
they are blooming now and such glory,
an astounding array of color and fragrance,
purples to violet to blue to a dark violet at the
end of the cycle. The yellow stamens and
streaks of white increase their glory and
delicacy. Simply Divine!

A garden is a magical place, transformative, a place of rest, respite, and renewal, but it has also been, for me, a great teacher.

In one of my favorite books -- I have them all -- by Elizabeth Lawrence, considered the garden maven of the south, and now, sadly, deceased, she left me with a line that I shall never forget. She was talking about the garden of course, and it served me well there, but it changed the shape of my writing, and is something I continually work toward. She wrote, "If it's miffy, let it go."

In the garden she was speaking of plants, the ones we are in love with and determined to plant because we want them so desparately. For me it shall ever be the ephemeral Himalayan Blue Poppy which will not grow in our hot climes here in the coastal south, but I have tried every way I know how. I've studied microclimates and often been amazed that something that wasn't supposed to grow here did in fact come into bloom if I carefully placed it in just the right spot. Microclimate gardening is fascinating because on any one plot of land you can plant something that ordinarily wouldn't grow there, but maybe there is some shade that lends a cooler patch and surprisingly your longed for flower will delight you by showing up after all. This only really works if you are a gardening zone off in one direction or another, not if you are in a significantly different zone where the climate is of such great contrast that you are fooling yourself, downright delusional, something along the lines of snow in Hades. You'd best forget it and just move on!

So what Lawrence called miffy were those plants we struggle, against all odds, to plant. Accept your zone, and plant the multitude of wonderful plants that will flourish in it. You will have much less work, worry, and sorrow not to mention a garden you will love and be proud of. If it's miffy, let it go.

I brought that idea into the cottage, sat down at my writing table, and gave a piece of writing a good going over. One has to be like a great Samurai warrior in the Zen sense about their own work if they are to have a piece that is clean and tight and has a good chance of publication. I'm not saying I always achieve that, but it's what I work toward. In the past I have held tight to certain passages or chapters because I had an emotional attachment to them, but upon a more careful read I realized I was just dreaming, being sentimental. If it's miffy, let it go. And in the trash that chapter went, or sections were red-pencilled, or too many frilly adjectives changed or deleted, and the work was all the better for it.

"Try to keep a garden beautiful to yourself alone and see what happens -- the neighbor, hurrying by to catch his train of mornings, will stop to snatch a glimpse of joy from iris purpling by your doorstep. The motorist will throw on brakes and back downhill just to see those Oriental poppies massed against the wall. Nature is always on the side of the public."

~ Richardson Wright ~

My lovely old fashioned purple "flags," or what
we today
call irises. I planted these from seed
in the side garden that I look out upon from my
kitchen windows. I have had show-stopper
expensive iris in my day, but I have found the
most joy from these simple, fragrant, purple
flags. You can't see it in this picture but delicate
white roses grow between and through the flags
and they just fill you with a kind of silent awe.

Too, the insects in the garden have taught me a great deal. Take the butterfly, for instance. A butterfly knows just which plants will yield the nectar they need to live. They don't waste their time going to every single flower or flowering herb on a plot of land. Insects are very efficient going about their business, they don't waste time.

Some of us, as writers, decide that we want to be a novelist, or a poet, or whatever might be the dream genre for us, but in reality, our gifts may lie in another area. I've done it too. I've written quite a lot of poetry (pitiful for the most part); novels that never sold, trying to be too artistic for their own britches, and quite a lot of them ending in suicides (It was a dark period in my life and I suppose they were at least cathartic. It was good that I wrote them, for me, but I sure learned that novels were not my forté. Spare the world. Miffy, they certainly were.). Non-fiction is my genre. I have written for magazines and newspapers for thirty years. I write memoir. I write poetic non-fiction. I have kept journals all of my life and been a journal writing teacher for 30 years. This form suits me best.

We can try, like the man who, in my youth, was on all the t.v. shows like Ed Sullivan and Johnny Carson and others, the man who got white plates spinning on top of poles and he would get one going, run and start another and another and run back to the earlier ones, give them a spin, and start more. In the end he had an amazing number of plates going and, I'm certain, nearly made himself crazy. I can imagine him being drug off to "the loony bin" crying out, "One more plate, just one more plate." We run around like that too sometimes, wanting to write in every genre even though we know we are weak in some. Some people do manage it, but many more are simply not realistic. At least master one genre before moving on to another, if I may put forth an opinion. Imagine joining an orchestra and trying to learn to play five instruments at once. If you can manage it at all you will likely be weak in all of them because you haven't had the time to concentrate on one.

Be like the butterfly. Stay with the flowers that provide the most nectar.

"Making a garden is not a gentle hobby for the elderly, to be picked up and laid down like a game of solitare. It is a grand passion. It seizes a person whole, and once it has done so he will have to accept that his life is going to be radically changed."

~ May Sarton, Plant Dreaming Deep ~

Last time I showed you a close-up photo of my dearest
rose, 'Crépuscule,' in a vase in the house. This is the rose
growing up over the little roofed area outside the cottage
that inside holds the fireplace. Last year the roof was
covered with these roses and I cut them back in the fall
about half size. They are glorious and so fragrant. This
lovely rose is not only my favorite rose, but in the class
of my most beloved roses of all, the Noisettes. She can
grow up to 12' tall and is best grown in the south.

As I walked around in the garden with my camera yesterday, to my great delight, in a very barren area that I had tried to cultivate as best I could last year -- digging and digging and adding good soil and compost, but it was a place that felt like concrete under my feet and I did worry -- I boldly planted lilies, and perennial hibiscus, and a few other bulbs, plus quite a lot of annual seeds. I plant like the Whirling Dervish of Seeds and prefer a good old, blowsy, cottage garden. The bulbs tried, to no avail, to straggle up, and a few puny annuals did come up, kind of sad looking, and I sighed and mumbled to myself something like, "What in the world were you thinking, you idiot?" and other sorts of things we say when we feel like a complete failure.

Well, lo and behold, this year the lilies are sprouting up, the tiny iris are coming up, a hibiscus, little seeds are sprouting from last year's planting, and while it may not be the raging success I hoped for, this year I have great hopes for it's future.

What all this made me think of, in terms of my writing, was how often we are so afraid to venture into the unknown that we do not try at all. At the first sign of what we feel is failure, we give up the ghost. Sometimes we need just plant the seeds and give them time to grow. I have foxgloves coming up in my garden this, the third year, from the planting of the seeds. This year the leaves are enormous. When we think of some of the great works that are considered classics today we must remember that the writers of those works often took years and years to write them. Imagine James Joyce writing Ulysses. Whew. What an undertaking. Do you think he didn't have doubts along the way?

One has to have a great sense of spaciousness about writing. Don't imagine your writing will support you (... maybe never, which is the most likely, and not for a long time, if it does...), and take the pressure off of it by supporting yourself some other way. Then writing has room to breathe. When you feel intense pressure to succeed with writing alone just to have food in your belly, you're going to end up with a whale of a bellyache.

I think of my great muse, and late in her life, my great friend, May Sarton, who had published, starting with poetry, when she was 25, steadily, and had a small loyal audience but was not acknowledged as she would have liked, and said, at 45, "I'm just going to go off and write and let them come to me." She did just that. She moved to an old house on a village green in New Hampshire and spent her days alone, save her beloved dog and for a time a parrot, and wrote everyday. She also gardened every day. May was a passionate gardener.

May wrote her breakthrough novel, Mrs. Stephens Hears The Mermaids Singing, which was at the time quite shocking because in 1960 you did not write "coming out" novels, but she also became an icon in the women's movement for doing just that. Then she turned a page in her book and wrote a memoir about moving to Nelson called Plant Dreaming Deep. I love that book so much that I have read it so many times it simply fell apart and I bought another copy.

Many think that Plant Dreaming Deep was a journal based on the fact that the book that followed, Journal Of A Solitude, catapulted her to the kind of success she had hoped for, still a relatively small but growing audience, and she was off and running. Until the day she died she wrote journals of her life, first in Nelson and then in York, Maine, where she moved because she grew weary of people showing up on her doorstep feeling that they knew her.

That's the interesting thing about writing this kind of book, which is the kind of book I am also writing. It is based on my life. Everything I say is true, but you edit for privacy, or you give of yourself what you are willing to give. No, Plant Dreaming Deep was indeed a memoir, and May never had any notion of continuing on with non-fiction, as she considered herself first and foremost a poet, and then a novelist, but the reaction to Plant Dreaming Deep left people feeling not only that they knew her, but that they had a personal relationship with her, so much so that they would just come up and knock on her door which unnerved her no end.

She wrote the first of her long line of journals, Journal Of A Solitude, because she wanted to set the record straight. She hadn't lied about anything, but the memoir seemed to idealize the woman writer alone in such a way that May felt that she had to write a more realistic portrait of her life. In the first real journal, she wrote about the life of a solitary writer -- the rages, the tears, the bone loneliness one encounters, as well as the joys of the work, the garden, seeing friends on occasion, and more -- and it helped, but people kept showing up and eventually she left Nelson for Maine to really have the solitude she needed, and she spent the rest of her life there.

She still wrote poems, and novels, but the journals were her mainstay, and she was 75 before true fame would come, and her last book was published posthumously in her early 80's in 1995. She was a writer through and through, and she wrote until the end, through illness, frail, and in the last weeks when we spoke on the phone her voice, normally loud, vibrant and expressive, was barely a whisper. She was the most courageous woman I have ever known because she followed her star against all odds, and success came very slowly, but she never quit. It reminds me of the wonderful quote by Winston Churchill, "Never give in, never give in, never give in."

We live, today, in a world where everything is fast and if it doesn't come fast enough it is cast to the wayside and something else is tried and cast aside, and fast food is the mainstay of a large part of society's diet. The life May lived is rarely seen today. She gave up a lot for what she believed in, it wasn't easy, but still in all, she wouldn't have traded it for the world. Never give in, never give in, never give in. Righto Winston. Cheers dear May.

I've thought of this recently when listening over and over to a wonderful interview produced by Sounds True with Natalie Goldberg (Author of Writing Down The Bones, the most successful book on writing ever.) and Julia Cameron who also became famous, after writing professionally for many long years, when she wrote something contrary to anything she'd ever written. Julia had written movies, television shows, novels, but when she wrote, The Artist's Way it turned her career on it's ear. No one was more shocked than Julia.

In the interview Natalie said that she had dreamed of fame, as we all do as young writers, but when Bones came out she realized that people thought they knew her, but they didn't really know her at all, they thought her to be the person they had conjured up reading her book. She said she learned that she had to find the fulfillment she was looking for another way. In the end we do the work and we let go. Our lives are what they are and we write the very best that we can and then we go plant tulips. What else is there to do?

"The English cottage garden has very soft, irregular lines to it's borders. The plants blend in with each other. It looks as though it just grew there."

~ June Clark ~

A very sweet corner in the wild cottage garden.
A delicate pink rosebud rests it's head in the
white yarrow, with red roses blooming behind...

With all the grand rose bushes it is often a tiny corner, like the one above, that moves me the most, and makes my heart feel very soft and tender. I have always loved tiny things. I love dandelions and wildflowers that you can't even pick because they are matted, close to the ground. There is just such a patch at my daughter's house whose flowers are bright pink. If they weren't renting I'd dig up a patch and plant it here. It has spread over a good sized piece of land and is just lovely. Then, there are her neighbors who have a stunning stand of bamboo growing up against their house, and God help me, if I don't snatch some of that it will be a miracle (I'd ask for permission of course!). I've got bamboo growing all over my kitchen, and some in my beta fish bowls. I have tall curly bamboo that has grown enormous in large cobalt blue wine bottles on each side of my kitchen window. I collect odd little things and they are everywhere. I also collect words.

Oh, I have my favorites but I have learned not to sling them hither and yon, all over the place, in a piece of writing. I like the shape of words, the look of the actual letters as they fit together in a tight little package, and I mostly love colorful words. I read the Oxford English Dictionary and my beloved Roget's The Synonym Finder like some people read novels. I am in love with synonyms. One day I came across "flapdoodle," and I was so tickled I laughed out loud and was gleeful all day long. It's synonyms are: nonsense, bosh, rubbish, twaddle, balderdash, stuff and nonsense, fiddle-faddle, and fiddlesticks. Now just tell me those don't make you giggle.

Some words I fall into as if they were soft clouds, some I have to tug and pull to get them into the sentence because I know it is the right word but I'm not happy about it. I am a metaphorist and can run one right off the page if I don't reign myself in and I do have trouble with that.

These things seem like tiny matters to most people, mere molehills, but they are mountains to me. It's all in one's perspective.

Yes, I want those tiny pink flowers but I'll have to hunt them down somewhere in an abandoned field. I travel with garden tools in my little joy-mobile, a 1994 Mitsubisi mini mini van. I have cut armloads of wisteria in bloom from vacant forgotten places. Writing is like that too. Sometimes it comes easily, and sometimes we have to dig it up with a shovel. I am a great spelunker. I will go deep into a cave to find the Holy Grail, the word that makes the whole paragraph POP! I am a very odd person, but the parrots and the dogs don't seem to mind it. It's not easy living with a writer.

If you haven't been able to follow this section at all please don't worry. I am allowing myself to just meander through my mind, tiptoe through the tulips as it were. That's what weekends are for, isn't it?

"Let me work all day in my garden, the next day ramble in the fields and woods, with a little reading, and the third day I can give myself to literary pursuits with a new freshness and vigor."

~ John Burroughs, The Heart Of Burroughs Journal

One of the most sumptuous, fragrant, favored
old roses in the garden, 'Madame Isaac Pereire.'
This picture is a little lighter than the rose which
is a deep pink with magenta. So hard to get the
colors just right! She is extremely fragrant and
many say she smells of raspberries. Madame
is a Bourbon rose and was found in the 1800's.

Beauty matters, even a jumble of colorful yarn in a basket, the roses on the early morning rose walk, my cockatoo's lofty white feathers tipped with yellow as she preens and molts and they drift to the floor. Tis the season. There are feathers everywhere. They are sacred to me. I have vases full of them and will lay them on little altars of sacred objects. A writer has her passions.

I collect vintage things. Vintage quilts, vintage velvet rugs with roses all over them and fringe around the edges. Most of my furniture came from vintage/junk shops. No expensive antiques for me, I want things that look like they might have been in my grandmother's little 1940's house. I swoon over those enamel tables and live for the day I can have the space for a Hoosier Cabinet. Perhaps that is why I love reading books that are of that period.

One of my favorite writers is Gladys Taber. Her best books were the ones she wrote from the 1930's to about 1960 about Stillmeadow, a country house on forty acres in Connecticut that she lived in with her best friend Jill after Gladys divorced and Jill's husband died. (She wrote up to the time she died in the early '80's and did some lovely work, but it's the Stillmeadow books I read and reread.) They took their three combined children, bought a falling down farmhouse that they worked on themselves, and raised cocker spaniels, with puppies everywhere, and an Irish setter for good measure, with a Victory Garden growing abundantly out back. I love those books.

I also loved to read about the way they cooked back then. A cup of lard in this or that, you know, things that would make people's hair stand on end today. The closest I've come to this kind of cooking in recent times was the hilarious show on the Food Network that ended nearly a decade ago. It was called "The Two Fat Ladies."

These ladies were, shall we say, past middle-aged, rode a motorcycle with a sidecar, only one of them was really fat, and she was very joyful about it, and they both had a wicked sense of humor. They too cooked like the old days, food that makes our mouths water today as we eat our lettuce leaves and drink purified water. Welsh Rarebit, lard or pounds of butter in everything, nothing without a sauce. Yes, I adored Jennifer (The thinner one who drove the motorcycle, smoked and drank outside when they weren't cooking, and who was the reason the show closed, as she died. But ah what a grand life she lived.) Clarissa, who rode in the sidecar and was the larger lady of the two and an extremely intelligent woman, a "Barrister" I believe (they were British), and went on to do other things, but I bought the set of videos from the show and when I get really depressed I watch them and laugh and laugh. It must have been wonderful to live in the times when people had no idea that the food "wasn't healthy," and cooked and ate with wild abandon, often living into their 80's or beyond. Food today depresses me. I was meant to live in the forties and eat without having a clue what I was putting in my mouth, but it tasted divine and I would have been SO happy.

Sadly, I am not much of a vegetable gardener. My ex-husband was a grand vegetable gardener. I grow flowers and herbs in the main, but I have grown tomatoes, and my beloved rainbow chard. So beautiful in it's neon colors and delicious too! I grow lots of rosemary and love to make rosemary roasted vegetables, drizzled with olive oil and fresh stems of rosemary on top. Divine, even with no sauce.

Dear Lord, I've run amuck. (Synonyms: frenziedly, crazedly, berserk, maniacally, like a nut, like a screwball, like a madman, wildly.) Yes, that pretty well sums me up. People imagine me to be very serious. I'm a real cut up when I'm not mournfully depressed, but I do take pills for that.

Yes, I love Glady Taber, I miss The Two Fat Ladies, I long for fresh garden vegetables and food that has a whole list of things in it that we don't eat anymore, and I swear, I will simply refuse to go into any restaurant that puts calories on the menu. The very nerve. "Murder!" as Gladys would have said, and we can just about imagine what Clarissa and Jennifer would have thought.

"Nobody sees a flower -- really -- it is so small -- we haven't time -- and to see takes time like to have a friend takes time."

~ Georgia O'Keefe ~

One of my favorite little flowers
in the garden. I just adore these
tiny magical flowers. They are
Oxypetalum 'Heaven Born,' and
are actually a member of the
milkweed family.

I love Georgia O'Keefe. I've read every book about her I can find, and own many of them. I've been to her museum in Santa Fe, saw the pink cliffs in Abiqui where she lived and saw her house there, and, one grand day, with my friends and to their horror, I loaded my pockets with seedpods from her hollyhocks. Well, they were hanging over the fence. To me, that makes them fair game. And they grew to nearly 15 feet tall. We were all in shock. They loved it here in North Carolina, but they never looked as beautiful as they did against the adobe walls in Santa Fe. I cried when we left that house. It wasn't the season to collect seeds. I feel sorrowful just thinking about it.

As a writer I am inspired by the works of many artists in many genres. I take inspiration from them in my writing, and in my own fiber work. I think we have to be open to everything as writers, and not just things that we are comfortable with. We cast our nets upon the waters and pull in all kinds of things, many which we have no idea about what they are, and we do some research and throw any living things back, and find something like a starfish and then, just then, that starfish could be inspiration for a whole book.

Natalie said something in the interview she did with Julia Cameron and if I've heard it before I don't remember. She said, "Once I know the title of a book, I can write the book." That's exactly the key for me. A book may have been rumbling around inside of me for some long time, I may have thought a whole book out over a year or two, but once I know the title, well, I have written two books in 6-8 weeks. That was just the first draft of course, but that's how explosive a title can be. Or a starfish. Or a jar of vintage buttons, which I collect.

I look at my glass containers full of a rainbow of old ornate buttons and feel like I'm looking into a gazing ball. I can look for long periods of time and all of a sudden I am writing like mad. I've got a title for a book that has something to do with buttons, but I'm not going to tell you what it is. Writers are like that too. Secretive. (Which reminds me, just now, of a quote that I love by Charles Dickens and feel is probably the most apt description one might ever have of me.... "Secret, and self-contained, and solitary as an oyster.")

"Earth laughs in flowers."

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson ~

A barrel of newly planted flowers that will
bloom from spring through fall here in our
warm coastal region greets people who come
to the cottage at the end of the sidewalk...

I have been writing this entry for two days. I just took a break to put the parrots to bed, get the dogs out and went up on the landing to clean up Sampson's -- well, there's no polite way to say this -- poop. Sam the Man came to me from the rescue last September. He had been badly abused and I was told that he had "abandonment issues" and would stick to me like glue. That he does. I call him my velcro pug. I adore him, he sleeps with me, and I smoosh his face with kisses which he bears with grace while trying desparately to hold on to some modicum of dignity.

However, I wasn't quite prepared for the poop and believe you me I have tried everything anyone even remotely suggested to fix the problem to no avail. He will pee 23 times outside with the other dogs, and come in, and, when no one is looking, and I never seem to catch him, he will go upstairs and poop on the landing. He is a stealth pooper. I'm not happy about it but I'm used to it. When you live with 12 animals you're going to have some poop to clean up, as well as other nasty business, but I couldn't love this dog more and God only knows what horrors he went through. I just say, "Oh Sam," and shrug my shoulders, get paper towels and rug cleaners and Lysol and have done with it.

People romanticize my life here which is why I think it's important to tell the truth. There are days I am so depressed, having nightmares and flashbacks from my childhood, not sleeping, and even with the meds am curled up in my big chair with dogs all over me and perhaps a parrot or two, and cover myself with old faded quilts, and do nothing. I am a devoted hearth-tender but a lousy house-keeper. I'll leave you to figure that one out but it makes perfect sense to me. Mind, I have my standards. The dishes get washed at least every three days. Usually. I am mad about getting the trash out even though I've got clutter here and there. I collect things and have a hard time throwing anything out. But the cottage is warm and cozy and colorful and I am joyful, with the heart of a child, most of the time, and I have a heart the size of the full moon, and am a nurturer by nature. The nicest compliment I ever got was from my friend Joseph when I lived in Boulder, Colorado for awhile several years back. He came up from Santa Fe and spent Thanksgiving week with me. He said coming into my house was like going into your grandmother's, all warm and cozy. I beamed like a lit-up Christmas tree.

"Now it is summer, and as usual, life fills me with transport and I forget to work. This year I have struggled for a long time, but the beauty of the world has conquered me."

~ Leo Tolstoy ~

This amazing yellow shrub rose makes one
swoon as it blooms like mad, whole bouquets
on one stem. This is the rose that you saw in my
kitchen when a branch broke off in a storm. For
2 weeks it was like a garden in the kitchen with
buds continually opening and coming into full
bloom. Sunshine on my kitchen counter...

And that's not all that's on my kitchen counter. As I said, I have bamboo everywhere, but the wonderful thing, to me, is that I have raised cuttings of peach colored impatiens and marvelous fuschia rooted cuttings all along my kitchen windowsill. These are plants here that mainly live as annuals outdoors in summer. People told me that there was no way I could winter over the impatiens especially. Well, I have the mother plant, and a whole overflowing hanging basket of impatiens raised from tiny cuttings in a sunny window between two bird cages in the living room, and many more little rootlings waiting to be planted. I'm about to plant all the fuschia in a basket. I take great joy in this.

I have spent a lot of money on plants only to let them die. Now I will buy fewer plants and nurture them through the dark cold winter months only to bloom like crazy both in the house and for another season outside.

We've only to give things a chance really, to not listen to people who tell us something is impossible when we believe in it with all our hearts. If it's miffy, let it go. If it stands a chance, fight like hell to save it, go for your dreams. Tilt at windmills. Reach for the unreachable star. I know that sounds corny, but I believe it, I really do, and I have bright peach impatiens here to prove it!

"In order to see the birds it is necessary to become a part of the silence. One has to sit still like a mystic and wait. One soon learns that fussing, instead of achieving things, merely prevents things from happening."

~ Robert Lynd ~

This rose is indescribably beautiful and as I planted
60 roses here, and all of my records were lost in a truly
devastating computer crash, where everything was plotted
out, every rose named and information kept, I am still
searching for the name of this one, but by summer's
end I will know. I have a vast library of garden books,
especially books on roses. But as the Irish essayist,
Robert Lynd wrote in the quote above, "One has to sit
still like a mystic and
wait." This rose grew so slowly
that I didn't think she would make it. Last summer there
were only a handful of blooms, but this year, there are buds
galore and the blooms simply leave one speechless with awe
over their beauty as birds sing in the nearby trees and the
heart opens wide...

Yes, I live with my heart wide open as well, and if I get bumped and bruised and hurt a little along the way, I also experience so much joy and wonder and wonderful things that many people miss when they live closed off, trying to protect themselves, that it's worth everything. I'm an odd duck but I'm very loyal and very much in love with a woman I haven't heard much from in two years. She is in another part of the world doing her work, and I would wait for her until the end of time. I rarely leave the cottage but I am very friendly and I love (most) everybody.

I think I live with animals, however, because despite the poopy situation, and the bird doo doo, animals are packages of unconditional love, and there's many a morning I wouldn't get up if a bevy of four-legged creatures were not staring me straight in the face, and Henry, my grey parrot, calling out, "Good Morning, good morning, good morning!" I may drag myself up groggily, but you wake up pretty quickly when you've got 4 dogs to get out, bring in, give treats to, and feed, and then rush in for the six parrots, don't forget the beta fish, and by then you're wide awake, if lurching about on a bad foot at odd angles. I sit down at my desk amongst them all, with piles of books around me, several different fiber pieces in the works here and there, and meditate on the foam in my latté while smiling and feeling happy and content as the dogs flop down and go back to sleep, and the birds splash about in their bath bowls bathing, singing, talking, eating, and just living their merry little lives. The fish don't say much but we have a deep communion between us. Vincent and Yeats are deep thinkers. We philosophize without saying a word out loud. And trust me, they know, they really know. I've learned a lot from those fish.

"My garden all is overblown with roses, My spirit all is overblown with rhyme..." ~ Vita Sackville-West ~

Oh the clematis! I adore clematis and have
quite a number of them planted amongst the
roses here and there. This is the stunning
purple classic 'Jackmanii,' and it is growing
up through a classic old rose not yet in bloom,
the utterly beautiful and divinely fragrant
'Zepherine Drouhin.' And it grows just under
my kitchen windows. I love having the windows
open with the fragrance wafting in. Paradise!
Wherever a rose grows we are given a preview
of Heaven to come, and oh, what an other-
worldy experience it is.

My life seems full of otherworldy things. Now don't go all funny on me, but I seem to have, ahem, gifts. I'm not a psychic and I'd never do anything for money, but I know things, feel things, intuit things, and I use pendulums and am spot on. I love them. I use stones and crystals in the metaphysical sense and for healing (myself only). Pendulums are not scary things, and I always pray before I use them. I don't use them for ill will or wantonly, but I take their guidance and the answers I get are always right. I can't believe I'm writing about this. I never discuss this with anyone.

On my desk I am surrounded by beads and stones, feathers and dream-catchers, totems and pendulums, dried roses and rose petals (Mary's flowers...), Buddha and Kwan Yin, and statues and homages to the Goddesses, and while I have been a Buddhist since my 20's (I'll be 54 this week) I still pray to Mary and the saints and certainly believe in God. I am a deeply spiritual woman who doesn't go to church but keeps Catholic rosaries and Buddhist malas and spiritual books around me at all times.

I am, as all of us are, both a puzzle and just an ordinary woman. Perhaps there is no other-worldly (Except, perhaps, the pugs. Pugs are not dogs. You have to have them to realize this. Moe is a dog. Babs, Sampson and Coco are, well, my friend Joseph who has had them calls them alien beings. I just call them snuggle bugs and smoosh buckets full of love. Mainly they are couch potatoes who eat, sleep, and poop on the landing. (Only one, but I'm not mentioning any names.)

Yes, I am just an ordinary woman. Odd, but ordinary.

"The sun shone down for nearly a week on the secret garden. The Secret Garden was what Mary called it when she was thinking of it. She liked the name, and she liked still more the feeling that when its beautiful old walls shut her in no one knew where she was. It seemed almost like being shut out of the world in some fairy place."

~ France Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden ~

Meidiland rose, 'Colette' with wisteria, whose
blooms have just passed, draped above, just
outside the front door to the cottage. I shall slip
inside now to my own magical fairy place...

It's time for me to head back into the cottage. It's been a long walk and a lovely time. If you've hung in with me this long I thank you and maybe you'd best take an aspirin. I may be a little hard to follow but I mean well. Now I'm off to read the synonym finder, put my feet up, and enjoy the silence, well, near silence. The birds are asleep, as is Moe. The pugs are snoring, but that keeps me company. It's seldom lonely here...


This entry would not have been possible without
the diligent efforts of Sampson and
who sat on my feet and wouldn't
let me
up until I finished!


ronggo said...

An interesting read, nice to meet you :)

Anonymous said...

You are a delight. Thank you for sharing your life and words. --Wildhearted said...

What a lovely glimpse into your thoughts and your garden. I feel like I stepped into spring for a few minutes there. :o)

streamliner aka. peanut said...

so nice to see a buddhist friend having a blog here! will definitely make an effort to read your blog when i finish my exams later.. =)

Mee mOe said...

its funny because I just gathered seeds off my Moms clematis just the other day, she has, I think every color, beautiful pictures, I can only imagine what the they'd look like in person...have a good day !!!

Angel said...

This is a beautiful blog, and sorely needed after a long Kansas winter!

Take care,

maline said...

How I wish I have a garden to grow beautiful flowers like you!

Speedcat Hollydale said...

This post is simply put, "AMAZING!"

Very well done :-)

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