Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Tenderness, Gentleness, Loving With A Heart Wide Open, and Staying The Course...

“When the road gets dark - And you can no longer see -
Just let my love throw a spark - And have a little faith in me.”

~ John Hiatt ~

Tenderly, gently, several times a day I take my wee little Babs in my arms out into the yard. The four other dogs now run in and out the dog door into the yard, but at 15 Babs, deaf and blind, relies on me to be her caretaker, her guide, and I pick her up after putting her on a long leash and carry her outside, kissing her, and nuzzling her, and rubbing her head and telling her that she is the most beautiful girl in the world. She is so attached to me and we are so much on the same wavelength that when I hear her little sounds and hear her moving about -- she is right next to me in her own little space with a gate so that she cannot wander about and hurt herself -- I jump up and take her in my arms and away we go.

I am very gentle with her, and though she cannot see or hear me she knows that I am coming. She twirls all about and wags her tiny, curly little tail so hard she tickles me and makes me laugh, and I scoop her up and kiss all over her face. I call her my little Peapod, or my tiny Princess. And when we get in the yard and I put her down, we have our little routine. I am like the center of a merry-go-round. The leash is long and she goes round and round and round in circles until she finds her spots to do her business, and when she gets outside and I put her down she is so frisky, like a horse let out in a field and leaping and kicking his legs with joy. She loves snuffling in the grass, and sometimes we just go round and round even after she has done her business because she is trotting around, pushing her nose deep into a pile of leaves and just enjoying the outdoors. When she has had enough her whole demeanor changes and I know she is ready to go in, and the amazing thing is that she now knows her way back to the bottom of the porch steps and while still on a leash with me not much more than a foot away from her, ready to catch her if she stumbles, most days she will trot right over, stop, and wait to be picked up. When I pick her up she wiggles and waggles and her curly little tail goes back and forth and back and forth like pugs will, reminding me of a windshield wiper.

When Babs came to me she was 12, considered a senior and already deaf. She went blind gradually, but she's still healthy. I just had all five dogs fully vetted, and they take these little chews everyday that are not cheap but are full of glucosamine and all manner of things for senior dogs and even wee little Babs has a spring in her step now she hadn't had before. I will keep giving it to all five of my seniors because it makes them feel better.

There are many people who won't take a "senior" dog and I almost feel sorry for them, the people that is. I have never known so much love as these tender little creatures give me, they just seem to know that you have given them a home when no one else wanted them. They seem grateful somehow, and they are full of so much love that I will always have them. Every day with my elderly dogs (my youngsters are 10 and 11!), I thank God that I have been blessed enough to have one more day with them. It makes me cherish them all the more.

Loving with a heart wide open, loving deeply, truly, isn't always easy, and it is little understood by a great many people today in this fast food world where such a large percentage of the population wants everything right now, and if they have to wait, or deal with imperfection, or a little dog that is deaf and blind, it seems too much trouble and they just don't want to be bothered. Some of the best people that I have ever met are involved in animal rescue. There are a great number of dogs in the pug rescue I am involved with who are ill, disabled, or on "hospice." They are cherished, loved, and given the best of care by their foster parents, a good many of them in a "permanent foster situation," and more loving, generous, and open-hearted people I have never had the privilege to know.

I had a very interesting conversation with a friend just yesterday who felt concerned about me and thought I should "get on with my life," because the one I love has been gone three years for work, we have been able to have very little contact due to the nature of her job, and this friend felt it untenable to wait for someone, never knowing when I would see her again. She and I had the most extraordinary relationship I have ever had in my life for the five years before she left, and there is not one day that she is not with me. She is the first thing I think about in the morning and the last thing I think about at night. She is always in my heart, and even though it's been three years I feel that there is an invisible cord that connects us. I thought about what my friend was saying and this is what I came up with. I think it's true for many others, and I think of the men and women who are waiting for their loved ones gone for such long periods in this terrible war, unable to be in contact, and yet with a love that runs so deeply that there is no question about the tenderness and strength of their love. I hold those dear ones close and pray for them everyday.

I said, "I love this woman, with my whole heart and soul I love this woman. I would wait for her until the end of time because what else is there when you have truly found your lifetime love?" That is not something that I say lightly, but I feel that it is true. In that moment it came to me that what I felt was a sense that this love was like the hot springs, welling up deep from inside the earth, so warm that you can sit with snow around you and the water is always warm. My love runs that deep and it is that warm and it will be that welcoming when once we are reunited, and I know we will be.

I think my dear little dogs know that too. Even though the four of them that can and do use the doggie door all day to go out into the wide wide world that is our huge back yard, at the beginning of the day they won't go without me. My sweet little Sampson, my velcro pug, sleeps with me, and he is snuggled against me. We are back to back. I throw a big quilt over my comforter that he sleeps on top of, but once I settle in on my side, he come up, circles around as dogs will to find just the perfect spot, and snuggles up to me, his back to mine, and often his tiny head in the crook of my neck. He immediately starts snoring, and wee little Harvey, my other male pug, sleeps right next to me in his bed on the floor. Moe comes in and lies down in his spot and eventually Coco, my chubby little cupcake comes in and snuggles with Harvey. In the morning they are quiet as little mice, but if I so much as flutter an eyelid they are all up like a shot, practically doing back flips because it's time to go out. I have four pairs of eyes staring at me, and as we go down the hall the parrots starts screeching, "Good Morning, good morning, GOOD MORRRRRNNNNINGGG! This little crew just tickles me to death, and we start our morning routine, and I feel full of love, blessed, and full of gratitude that I can share my life with these whom I love so deeply.

With love, you stay the course. In love, your heart beats in unison with the one you love, even if you are not thinking consciously of the rhythm that beats inside you both, that rhythm carries you through the day. When my four get me up in the morning the first thing I think about is little Babs, in her safe space, and I go scoop up her wiggling, wriggling, tail wagging tiny little self, click on her leash, and out we all go. It takes an hour or more when I get up to get all of the dogs out and in, in and out, give everyone treats, get all of the parrots fresh food and water, talk to each of them, and every single parrot kisses me good morning, and goodnight, and those that can sing and talk to me do. I turn public radio on for them, and they listen to it all day long. They are very cultured parrots!

By the time I make my coffee and sit down the dogs have eaten and gone back to sleep. Just as I am fully awake I hear a chorus of puggy snores, Big Dog Moe sleeps silently in his bed to the right of me, and Harvey in his bed to my left, his little paws straight out and right together over the edge of his bed looking very like he is praying as he goes to sleep. Coco is in her bed snoring loudly, her face all smooshed up so that you can hardly see where her face stops and the bed starts. Babs is just six feet away in her little area and she too is snoring. She sleeps most of the day now, but I always listen for her, and when she needs me I am there, just as I will be when the one I love comes home.

I love tenderly, gently, with an open heart, and I stay the course. I always will. What else is there? For me, there is no other way.

I wish you all the tender love that wraps you in it's warm embrace. I pray that you each know the gentleness that is possible for all of us if we live with a heart wide open, I pray for us all, always, every day. I pray, I love, I will never stop.

Be gentle with yourself. Love yourself. That is where it all begins. It is the most important love of all. We cannot give from an empty well. May your cup runneth over...

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Yes I Can!!!

This is the message of the day...

C'mon... say it with me...

A new entry is coming tomorrow, but I wanted to leave you a little message today...

Gentle love, and Say Yes! You can DO it!
(No matter what it is!)


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Dirt In The Dark, Seeds Galore, Old Fashioned Gardening, and "My People..."

This is not going to be a glamorous entry...

"Dirt In The Dark"

Well, you see, the thing is that I have been lightheaded all day, flitting about in a fit of joy over the big mound of topsoil, amended with compost and all manner of good things, that got dumped in my driveway today. Just imagine my utter glee at having my whole driveway taken up with dirt! No! I'm serious! I was delighted! I am such a little kid these days. MY house, MY garden, MY ship! MY DIRT!

It is lush and luscious and fairly crumbles in your hand like soft cake and I really wish you could see it. I tried taking numerous pictures but I forgot to go out and take them before dark. Well, you know, what with this and that, this pug and that pug, and going through piles of seeds, and dreaming a lot and a little, and beginning to plot the garden as this dirt will be moved to the pink-gated garden tomorrow morning, and, woe is me, there really isn't enough of the gorgeous dirt and it was too pricey anyway, so I have a wonderful gentleman coming out tomorrow morning to check the areas out and see how much more soil I need. As his dirt looks as gorgeous as this and he charges considerably less, I hope we strike up a grand relationship and I'll have my very own dirt man from here on out. There's a lot of gardening that needs to be done here. You need a good dirt man, yes you do.

Then, the seeds. Well, I order a lot of seeds from a lot of places, a lot of heirloom seeds, and my preference is to order from small family owned companies. For the last several years the bulk of my seeds have come from the most fabulous seller on eBay for bulk seeds that are CHEAP. I don't know how they do it, but they are Groco Seeds and see what was in this package that just came...

There are 77 (Count 'em, 77) packets of seeds in here and some have seeds in the thousands. And most of these packets were about 77 cents apiece. This way I can have an enormous variety to plant and to share (I plant rather like "The Whirling Dervish of Seeds," with huge cottage gardens my heart's desire.). Sharing seeds and plants is what I dream about. I'm an old fashioned gardener who missed her time and would like to see a resurgence of the time of the "Market Bulletins" and "Passalong Plants." These are my people. I long to know these kinds of people and start the old fashioned traditions again.

There are 2 books everyone should run out and buy if they are serious old-fashionedy type gardeners. I've mentioned them numerous times before and likely will continue to do so. First of all because they are fabulous, and secondly because my mind kind of wanders and I forget I already wrote about them 13 times (or maybe 77.).

The two books are:

Passalong Plants
by Steve Bender
and Felder Rushing


Gardening For Love:
The Market Bulletins

Elizabeth Lawrence

I have to have these books with me at all times and if I don't I panic and buy new copies. Well, new to me. Now that I can get them used on amazon or eBay I buy new/used copies and I just bought both of the above in the last weeks. Having just moved my copies are buried in a sea of boxes of books and it is GARDENING SEASON and there's no way I would start without Steve, Felder, and especially Elizabeth.

Before I go any further, so as not to forget, what with my mind going hither and yon these days, I have to mention the one seed catalog I will never be without, and while it is now online, I get the paper catalog each year and read and study it like I'm about to get two simultaneous PhD's in Horticulture and Botany which I will study for the rest of my days, a little loosey goosey at times, but still in all as serious as I can be and with great enthusiasm! The catalog is J.L. Hudson, Seedsman. On the front of the catalog as well as the website you will read this:

"We are a public access seed bank - not a commercial seed company. You will find that our presentation of information and how you access our seedbank is a bit different from ordering seeds from the usual on-line commercial enterprise.

Our purpose is the preservation of botanical biodiversity, the propagation and dissemination of rare, threatened and endangered plants, research into the biology of seeds, and the preservation of vanishing knowledge of the uses of plants - called "ethnobotany" or "ethnobotanical knowledge". To this end, we propagate and distribute rare seeds from every continent; native plants from around the world, including flowers, vines, trees, cacti, culinary herbs, heirloom vegetables, ornamentals, hardy perennials, medicinal plants, and tropicals. We also distribute many unusual books about edible plants, medicinal plants, American Indian, Australian, and African ethnobotany, books on seed saving, source lists, and more.

The catalog is encyclopedic in scope, you will find thousands of things here you've either never heard of or searched for forever, never thinking you'd actually find it. I spend hours reading this catalog. You will find the online catalog by clicking the above link, but truly, if you are a serious gardener, order the paper catalog and prepare yourself to swoon!

Now back to Steve, Felder and Elizabeth. I happened upon the book Passalong Plants by Felder and Rushing because I read about it somewhere eons ago and instantly fell in love with it. I read garden books like other people read novels, and this book is my all time favorite garden book EVER. It is so funny your sides will hurt from laughing at their outrageous stories, you will learn an incredible lot that you never even knew you needed to know, and if you are a Southern gardener, you will be treated to the touching stories of passalong plants, a long time tradition in the south. In fact, in the south we have plants that have disappeared elsewhere, simply because the tradition of passing along seeds and cuttings from neighbor to neighbor, friend to friend, and family to family over the years has kept these plants growing and in circulation in the south. Now these plants are being cultivated in other areas because our old grannies and Aunt Nellies and Mrs. Joneses down the street saved seeds and cuttings and shared them.

Which brings me to my beloved (and countless other gardener's beloved) Elizabeth Lawrence. Deemed "The Garden Maven of the South" Lawrence wrote a great many books on gardening. One she didn't finish before she died, and the great garden writer, Allen Lacy, whom I also love, ended up with the enormous task of taking on the job of putting "The Market Bulletins" together from a huge box of manuscript, letters, correspondence Elizabeth had through decades, and much more. You see, once upon a time there was a day when...

Imagine being a farm wife in war times or other hard times when to get a little money for yourself you sold things from your garden or farm. Seeds, plants, cuttings, fresh eggs, vegetables and so much more. At that time each state put out "Market Bulletins" and you could put a little ad in there for what you had to sell or trade and what you were looking for. More than seeds and plants were exchanged, friendships were made that lasted for lifetimes. Those were the days of letter-writing (sigh), not e-mail. I feel grief-stricken not to have experienced this, and I would dearly love to get it going again, but it's such a big commercial world out there with so many people selling so many things and nobody to speak of writing real letters anymore. (I imagine myself to be one of the last great letter-writers, and much to my embarrassment wrote diatribes in a publication I produced from the early to mid 90's called "The Contemplative Way: Slowing Down In A Modern World," to the effect that I would NEVER go the way so many were going and fall prey to the internet and E-MAIL. Well, just look what happened to me. I can't remember when I last wrote a letter, and not the kind filled with love and seeds and a bit of this and that like I used to in days gone by. But I would dearly love to see that turn around.)

And so here I am with my very own dirt, if I can call it that, although I'm fully aware that I don't own dirt or anything else that is part of Mother Earth, even if I have to buy the right kind of soil to get started gardening here. Gracious! I can start a compost pile again here this year! And just imagine! Manure tea! I have a friend who is a soil scientist. Imagine that! A soil scientist! I just wish she could see my dirt! (Hi Sue!)

At 55, with my new little house, the magical world I am creating outside, many gardens in the planning and making and pugs here, there, and everywhere, I find myself, today, more excited about the pile of dirt in my driveway and the huge package of packets of seeds here than if someone put a bucket of money in my lap. This is real. This dirt, these seeds, the flowers, herbs, vegetables and fruits to come (not to mention a whole lot of odd, artsy, and wonderful things out there into the mix).

There is a wonderful piece of a poem that I don't remember that keeps coming back to me these days. I read it in one of my beloved May Sarton books, and she was quoting it from someone else. I shall try to find out the author and share the whole poem, or if anyone knows it, please write in here and tell me. The lines are...

"Be they near, or be they far,
would I where my people are."

I think in finding this place and beginning the long journey of turning this whole place into a series of gardens, one of the most important things that I will cherish will be the people I meet along the way. The last few years I have even struck up friendships with some backyard gardeners who raise a little of this or that and sell some seeds or cuttings on eBay, "Seed money" I'm sure that goes back into their gardens by buying other plants or seeds that they need. I have purchased plants or seeds from some of these women or men who have sent dear letters with carefully packaged seeds or cuttings, and I have relished each one.

I hope you are growing a garden, wherever you are. You can grow a little garden in pots on a porch in an apartment 10 stories up. The only limits to gardening are those you put on yourself. Start the adventure, and if you can think of a way to help revive the old Market Bulletins way of communicating, why, blogging seems a good way to me to do just that. What do you have to share from your garden, or sell, or trade? Soon I'll have some things to share from mine. Many of this year's seeds are going to friends and family. This is one tradition I won't see die in my lifetime.

Never underestimate dirt. It's the root of everything on the planet. You wouldn't have a bite to eat without it.

I am having a love affair with dirt...

Maitri, simply dazzled by it all...

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Pinkedy Pug's Posterior, The Pink Picket Fence, and More...

Coco, the elderly "Pinkedy Pug," with
the pink striped posterior!

There's no reasoning with a pug. They do what they want to do, they don't do anything that doesn't benefit them in some way -- oh, say, something with a treat involved -- they can be stubborn while at the same time so charming with their funny little faces that you can't resist them, and even the workmen here were completely disarmed by the pugs, so that when Coco wanted to help paint the fence they just weaved around her precariously with paint buckets and brushes waving about in the air, trying not to trip over the little old chubby girl who seemed always to be underfoot, posterior to the picket, so to speak. Big Dog Moe tried to help, but when he saw that there was a pug involved he made it clear that he was not about to lower himself to the ridiculous doings of the pugs and went inside to take a nap. If you look real close, however, you can see one front paw with pink paint on it. I tried to get a closeup but the picture was too blurry...

(Note: Suspicious front right pink paw...)

When the new picket fence started to get painted I was wild with glee. Oh! All of the flamingos coming are going to think they died and went to heaven. (There are always flamingos, and gnomes, along with mermaids and other magical creatures in my gardens.)

When one has a vision, and sees it being made manifest, the bright colors, the garden areas in the making, soon to have the soil made rich and fertile for the planting to begin, it does something to you. I remember that old quote, "If you can dream it, you can make it so." And so I am.

Sampson went in to check out the pink garden fence, but
he is far too fastidious to have gotten near the paint, and
looked askance at Coco who was just wiggling her chubby
little self about, filled with joy and the pinkedy stripes,
and Sam said something that I thought was rude to her.
He thought he should have been an only pug, and has
never understood why we took in a boatload of them!

And finally, with the fence painted, and the purple gate in
place, the sheer magic of the place ever unfolding, I looked
out over my little paradise with such joy. They say it's
never too late to be what you might have been. And I add,
"It's never too late to create what you've always wanted
to create." Hence, "Mermaid Cove". And I am thrilled!

A perspective shot down to the shed. The garden area
inside the fence is 16x20'. And with the built in flower
boxes along the porch, I'll get a good start in this year.

In the end, you never really finish what will someday be a very large garden. This year I have had restored and painted what are the "bones" of the garden, even if I can't or won't get to those areas for the next 2 or 3 years. You establish the bones, and start with one area, doing all you can there for the first couple of years or so. I chose the area closest to the house to begin, since I walk out onto my deck many times a day the gardens on this side will be created first, even though I know I will continue to add and refine even as I move on to other areas. I want you to see something for the sake of perspective...

You've seen close-up pictures of the Magic Ship and the
newly painted lime and pink garden shed. But as you
will see they are at the far back of the property and
there will be a lot to cover before I get back that far.
But as I look into the distance the color delights me so
that I can keep going and going and going like the
Energizer Bunny! I can also look around the yard
and imagine my way into the garden areas to come.

And so now the Pinkedy Pug and the rest of us are going to take a nap. We will drift off listening to the beautiful songs of the wild birds, and tinkling of the windchimes, and every single day I thank God for this magical place I call my home. There will be a lot of work to do in the time ahead, but oh! what joy to be able to do it.

Stay tuned. You will see the garden areas planted this year in stages as they grow with notes on what is planted and more.

Take care and follow your heart toward the creation of your dreams. You might have to adjust them a little (I used to live on twenty acres in the Blue Ridge Mountains with a huge greenhouse, now I am creating my own little paradise in an old neighborhood. The 6' tall privacy fence helps a lot, as well as the child inside of me who is finally coming out to play.).

Put on your garden clothes. We could use some help here!

Maitri, who will likely be stripedy herself before it's all over...

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Sam and I Have Been Wondering About A Few Things ~ Or ~ It's Best To Think Serious Thoughts With A Pug On Your Head...

I can't think a single, solitary, meaningful thought anymore
without a pug on my head. Whatever would I do without
Sam the Man? I don't want to know...

Above is Sampson, the pug who sleeps on my person. He is my velcro pug. He keeps me safe, sane, and moving forward on the worst of days, is a great kisser, and sometimes sleeps with his little head on mine putting me to sleep when I can't sleep. Sam is a "rescue." The thing is, I think he came to rescue me.

I have had many deep thoughts of late. Where have I come from? Where am I headed? What do I want to bring with me from the past into the future? In what ways do I want to create a whole new reality?

(A tiny pause here while I take my wee little "Pea Pod Pie," my tiniest, oldest, deaf and blind pug Babs out to potty. She is the only one who needs to be carried out on a leash. The other dogs have now figured out how to used the dog door out into the big fenced yard and it is a revolving door around here.)

Back in, eating a banana, and still sipping my latte, listening to the parrots in the other room singing and chittering along with NPR's Saturday Opera program which they seem to love. Just their cup of tea. I'm more a Garrison Keillor "Prairie Home Companion" kind of gal myself. We'll be listening to that tonight, the four dogs that surround me, that is. Currently Sampson is asleep on the right arm of this overstuffed chair, leaning into me. Big Dog Moe is asleep on his bed on the floor just to my right, and Coco and Harvey are snuggled into their beds just to my left. All are snoring softly, and the combination of their snores and the parrots singing along with the opera is something to hear (I'm not sure what, and I'm fairly certain that few others could appreciate what I'm hearing just now. You know, the kind of thing that only a mother could love...).

Oh, but it is a simply gorgeous spring day, and the windows all throughout the house are open and ceiling fans on, and the wind chimes of every shape and size on the bright green deck with purple doors are blowing gently in the breeze creating the most beautiful music wafting in with the fresh air. Birds are at the feeders, squirrels everywhere, and my beloved pileated woodpecker has been eating at my kitchen window feeder to my great delight. And Oh! Wonder of wonders! My friend Jeff gave me two bluebird houses that are nailed to two different trees and when I saw a bluebird going into one this morning I nearly fainted.

It is spring! It is here! And this week peat moss, topsoil, manure, bone meal, and all manner of organic components will be going into the garden areas. Time to order my friends in organic gardening -- ladybugs, red worms for the soil, praying mantis casings so the wee little mantises can hatch out and do their work in the garden. I have seeds piling up here and rooted cuttings and I'm just itching to get out and start planting. Sam thinks sleeping on my head is a better idea. I say, "Here's a shovel buddy, pugs can help too. Why Coco helped the men paint the fence pink and came in with pink streaks on her behind and side. At least she doesn't mind helping." I call her "The Pinkedy Pug," and I guess she'll be pink-streaked until those hairs fall out. I say it lends character. Some would say that we are all peculiar characters here, not that they'd say it to my face, but word gets around, you know. Ahem...

I will be updating the blog again in a day or two with new pictures of evolution of Mermaid Cove and the new pink picket fence with the purple garden gate that Coco helped paint. Until then, enjoy the spring weather, open the windows and let the fresh air in, celebrate Life!

Blessings to each and every one of you...

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Book of Your Own Sacred Truth...

"Remember this always: The living of your own life writes the
book of your most sacred truth, and offers evidence of it."

Neale Donald Walsch
Tomorrow's God

It is not lost on me that there are those out there that wonder why an interfaith minister would have a back yard that looks like it came out of a Dr. Seuss book. If I was on the outside looking in I might wonder that myself, but I believe that the root of love, the root of kindness, and so very, very many other things that are lacking in this world come from a lack of joy. Joseph Campbell wrote, "Follow your bliss." I am following mine even as I meditate, pray, and have a magical ship in my back yard painted purple, orange, and pink.

I walk outside at twilight, carrying wee little Babs, the spunky little deaf and blind near fifteen year old pug. The picture below was taken a couple of years ago. Her eyes are now cloudy and white but she is still spunky and determined. When the vet came last Friday to see all five dogs I got upset when Babs was hollering to beat the band and carrying on. My beloved vet, of near 20 years, said, "She's just mad. Really mad..."

Wee tiny Babs, the littlest, feistiest

pug in the house...

I look at what I am creating with awe and wonder. When I have completed (...although of course this kind of thing is always a work in progress...) this magical world in the main, I will sit by the large pond that will be dug this summer in the center of the huge yard filled with koi and beautiful water plants under the shade of huge old trees, and I will pray, I will meditate, I will hold many in my heart, and then I will look up around me and smile. I will pray for those that I hold dear, every day, that they, too, might follow their bliss, wherever they are, and find happiness too, even if on a park bench at their lunchtime break at work, or reading a good book on the subway on the way to work, perhaps sharing a good meal with dear friends, or working in a community garden in the inner city.

There are so many ways to find joy in our lives, and finding it, revelling in it, is food for the spirit. As I have said about the teaching of maitri, it isn't just about compassion and loving-kindness, it speaks to the fact that we cannot have compassion and kindness for another unless we first have it for ourselves. We cannot give from an empty well. I am filling my world with color and life and whimsy and magic. I was a little girl who spent much of her life afraid for many reasons. Perhaps the little girl in me is coming out to play at 55, and from that release of pain, of finally letting go of the last vestiges of that timidity, that fear of the world, is springing the joy than only the innocent can feel. As I go deeper in my spirituality the colors become brighter. I think one day I will sit on the magic ship and meditate and talk to God. What a wonderful juxtaposition between our material world and the spiritual one.

So yes, I am a writer, an artist, a minister, a teacher, a healer, and a cattywompus goofy woman who is, in many ways, for the first time in her life, letting go and having fun. It's about time, and it shall carry on and grow. Just wait until I get my chickens and goats. I love the idea of free ranging chickens and fresh goat's milk. Healthy and good for the planet. I think God would like that.

We all do what we can in our own way. We take care of our own lives, we pray for the hearts, the souls, the well-being and happiness of others, and we tend the dogs, the birds (inside and out) and all of the natural world around us. We commune with Mother Nature, and I, as an interfaith minister, have an altar that is outdoors and amidst the bounty of the earth, the flowers, vegetables, and herbs, and the many feeders for the wild ones, will be statues of Buddha, of St. Francis, of angels and goddesses, perhaps a Medicine Wheel and a labyrinth.

In my small world I celebrate it all, and I paint it pink, purple, lime green, and orange while I'm at it. And I shall continue on, creating rainbows of color, and cherishing each moment and all that is holy on my little plot of land, with a heart wide open. I am now...

Maitri, having fun...

Saturday, March 13, 2010

To Live For A Moment In Unison With The Dream...

"The dream was always running ahead of me.
To catch up, to live for a moment in unison

with it, that was the miracle."

~ Anaïs Nin ~

The Mermaid Cove Mermaid surveys
dreams in the making...

Finally, one has to just sit back, breathe, and enjoy the dream, just where it is. Yes, there is so much more you want to do, but if you are always running, striving, never stopping to enjoy the dream realized, not just the dream to come, you will never fully live and enjoy your life. And if you don't stop to relax and look and float in the joy, the bliss, the absolute jubilation in the moment that exists when your dream begins to take shape, you will never truly appreciate what you have, what you are accomplishing. It's good to have breaks in the creation of a dream and savor what is there, what you have already done. So today I shall share a little of that with you.

For privacy's sake I will not show pictures of the front of my magical little cottage. As anyone who knows me can tell you I am an extremely private person and it satisfies and comforts me to think that people will pass my little abode and think "nice little house" without ever imagining the magic that is happening behind the six foot privacy fence that encloses a vast area of land with a creek behind it and a magical mermaid paradise. Behind the ordinary is the extraordinary.

I will tell you that if you drove down my street you would see a white brick sort of ranch house but is it an odd shape and not, as the insurance man said, quite what you'd call a traditional ranch, (Well it's ME, duh...). But I will tell you that the front door, shutters, and fancy iron porch posts were all an old forest green, looking quite the worse for the wear, and the attached garage door was a worn, sad looking white. No more. Oh no. That was one of the first things I knew had to change.

I did not know that I would have to put a whole new roof on (shrug...) but it does look wonderful, and now the shutters and iron posts are painted a deep adobe pink, the front door a bright sky blue, and the garage door that same blue with the little ornate area above it adobe pink with the inner lining sky blue. From the street it looks like a different house. Hanging all around the porch are six baskets of flowers, two on either side of the front door eaves and one on each end; purple pansies, burgundy pansies, and gorgeous pink and white trailing geraniums. I shall have to try to get a picture of the flowers against the shutters and posts and garage door without revealing the rest.

Also, if you are looking at the house from the street you can see nothing of what is in back because the six foot high privacy fence starts on the sides near the front of the house and encircles such a large area in the back it could be a vast ocean on which a magic sailing ship might sail the ocean blue (I plan eventually to have the earth plowed all around the ship and plant thousands of forget-me-nots so the ship will actually look as if it is sailing on water. I will also include any and all blue flowers that I can find. What magic! What delight!) Can you not just see it sailing from behind it's hidden cove out onto open waters?

The ship was a rotting mess when I found it. A dingy grey with blue trim, rotting boards, a sad wreck of a ship, but I could only see the possibilities, the incredible magic thing it could be. It was power-washed, all the old and rotting boards removed and replaced, the staircase up to the ship built and when the workmen saw the colors I chose they said something along the lines of, "You're kidding right?" (It's best I leave out most of what they said. Ahem.) But eventually Scott and Vern, my two loyal workers, got into the spirit of the thing, wondering what crazy thing I might do next.

When you walk out the side door from my studio you walked out onto what is a very well built and sturdy as a rock deck. I fell in love with it when I saw it, old trees overhanging it, looking out into the woods, but it just wasn't me. It was a flat grey showing many years of use and could in no way be called attractive. Before I told the workmen I wanted to paint it they said, "Okay, what color is the deck going to be?" And Vern said, "And what color are the doors going to be." Ha ha ha, they knew me by now. Having refurbished and painted my glorious ship that once seemed like the dream of a madwoman, by the time they painted the shed across from the deck they got into the spirit of the thing and started having fun. Here's the shed before I go any further, and by the way it was painted the same color as the originally painted boat, a dingy grey with flaking blue trim and an old nasty roof. It got a new roof too and then got painted. I wanted it to match the ship, and as I go around the yard I use some of the same colors and add in some of the other colors so that there is a flow to the landscape. Here is the shed now opposite my deck...

You can see part of the picket fence
to the left of the shed...

Well, as I said, I am a gardener with more than a little whimsy in my soul, and I have, as Anne of Green Gables would have said, "Great scope for the imagination." I wanted a picket fence garden, and Scott and Vern got right on it...

There is a gate in the front and the whole area has been
weeded and cleaned out. This week the garden dirt will
arrive and whoa nelly! the planting will proceed apace...

Coco, checking on Scott and Vern's work on the garden gate.
It was at first a little cattywompus and they did
some work
on it. Frankly, she doesn't trust them any
farther than she
can throw them, and a 14 year old
grumpy pug is not
someone to mess with...

If you are coming down in from the huge yard where the ship is at the back, this is what you see walking toward the house...

All of the windows down the side of the house are my
studio windows. The natural light in the studio is
breathtaking and the fresh air divine!

There was nothing along the house but a beautiful red camellia bush next to the steps, the ground hard, barren, old broken bricks and trash looking pretty nasty. Scott and Vern cleaned it up and built flower boxes from treated lumber...

Scott is standing inside a ramp that they built because
earth was so choppy and uneven I might have broken
neck out there. It is now so incredible I fairly float
out into
the yard...

And yes, you knew that deck was not going to stay a dingy grey with dirty old white doors. I wanted the deck, because it is really big, and in the middle of woods and gardens, to be a beautiful green to blend in with nature, but one can't have everything the same color, so the deck became a green nature deck and the doors into the house were painted the same orchidy purple as the ship and the shed which is just opposite the deck...

This is Coco my cupcake pug surveying her new paradise

from the freshly painted green deck. You can see what it
looked like around the deck before the flower boxes

were put in...

And of course, ahem, the purple doors...

The door with the doggy door goes into my
studio. The other door goes into the garage.

You see one windchime. There are now seven

different types of windchimes all down both

sides of the deck. It is like angel's music when

the breeze blows and all of those studio windows,

down 2 sides of the studio, are open, the fresh
rinsing the house clean, the whole room,
air and
light and music. I adore my little house...

Finally, with money running out for the current building, creating the bones of the first portion of the renovation and building of a garden paradise where only rock hard grass-less dirt had been, the metal corrugated garden shed, just opposite the boat, HAD to be painted. Can you guess what colors???

Corrugated shed primed for the bright colors to come.
You'll note that there was always a pug keeping an eye

on the workmen. Well, you just can't be too careful,

not with these randy hooligans!

And then the shed was painted. Oh what fun!

The pink ties in with the ship and the building was painted
a bright lime green. The green is so much richer and brighter

than would show up in the picture, but yes, to say it's rather
Seussian is not far off. I think Dr. Seuss would have loved it.

Currently I feel like a cross between The Mad Hatter,
in her Wonderland, and The Cat in The Hat!

So there you go, the beginning of the dream. There will be much more to come but just now I am living in unison with the amazing amount of magic that has been created here in roughly six weeks. This next week a truckload of dirt will be delivered for the garden and we will add in manure and compost and bone meal and all manner of wonderful things to enrich the soil and thousands of seeds have arrived or are on their way, plus a few rooted cuttings, such as three Hibiscus Syriacus, 'Bluebird,' cuttings, and my 3 precious Confederate Roses, famous southern flowers, actually a hibiscus (Hibiscus Mutabilis) and please click on the link above to really appreciate this amazing plant. The flowers look like huge roses and go from red to pink to white in their growing cycle...

This image is from the link
in the paragraph just above.

And so in the weeks and months to come you can read here all about the adventures of the making of Mermaid Cove -- the gardens, the mermaids who just do seem to keep gravitating here, and an odd woman surrounded by pugs and parrots and Big Dog Moe, as we revel in our dreams made manifest, or manifesting as we go along...

Warm Regards and Deepest Blessings to All...

An aside... "Maitri at Mermaid Cove ~ Finding Joy Where You Are" is a book in the works and will be published in 2011. It will follow my journey here, as well as hopefully inspire others to bloom where they are planted, and follow their hearts wherever they lead them...

Thursday, March 11, 2010

I'm Late, I'm Late, For A Very Important Date (Blog Entry!)...

"I'm late, I'm late, for a very important date!"
~The White Rabbit, Alice In Wonderland" ~

Well dearie me (blushing like mad!). I had promised to get an entry up with the rest of the pictures so far for the new Mermaid Cove Garden, sanctuary and more, but so much has happened this week that I not only haven't had time to write it but we are at the tail end of the work to be done and I wanted a complete entry of the process. There are many more things that I want to include. In the making of a garden it is important to first, no matter what size the garden, establish "the bones" of the garden," central areas around which I can build separate garden areas. The last pieces here are the end of the bones of the beginning, the first year's projects, hence, it made more sense to do it all at once.

As I am a serious gardener with a penchant for creating English cottage gardens, with a wide variety of heirloom flowers, flowering bushes and trees, and plenty of herbs, I plan to expand my Potager (French Kitchen Garden) by beginning to create a small vegetable garden this year, and expanding from there. I will also be taking a course to achieve my Master Gardener status, as I have, for a longtime, studied gardening in many forms and studied botany as well as horticulture. I would like others to share their wisdom via comments which will include helpful hints, blogs related to gardening, and other blogs or sites that include a wealth of tips for your gardening zone wherever you are in the world.

So you see I have been deep in thought about how to handle all of these things, and dealing with workers who were supposed to be finished by now but couldn't because of the rain, and shopping for and putting up bird feeders EVERYWHERE. There is much more to come. Bear with me while I get it all together!

So I am very sorry that that whole thing hasn't come together yet, but it's coming. And I hope it will be worth the wait. It takes awhile to create a magical wonderland.

Warm regards and deepest blessings to all...

Sunday, March 7, 2010

SNEAK PEAK! The Making of Mermaid Cove, OR, I Bought A Ship That Just Happened To Come With A House...

"Now the ship had gone down hard by an island in the midst of the main, and the winds and waves bore me on till, by permission of the Most High, they cast me up on the shore of the island, at the last gasp for toil and distress and half-dead with hunger and thirst. So I landed more like a corpse than a live man, and throwing myself down on the beach, lay there awhile till I began to revive and recover spirits, when I walked about the island, and found it as it were one of the garths and gardens of Paradise. Its trees, in abundance dight, bore ripe-yellow fruit for freight, its streams ran clear and bright, its flowers were fair to scent and to sight, and its birds warbled with delight the praises of Him to whom belong Permanence and All-might. So I ate my fill of the fruits and slaked my thirst with the water of the streams till I could no more, and I returned thanks to the Most High and glorified Him, after which I sat till nightfall hearing no voice and seeing none inhabitant. Then I lay down, well-nigh dead for travail and trouble and terror, and slept without surcease till morning, when I arose and walked about under the trees till I came to the channel of a draw well fed by a spring of running water, by which well sat an old man of venerable aspect, girt about with a waistcloth made of the fiber of palm fronds. Quoth I to myself. "Haply this Sheikh is of those who were wrecked in the ship and hath made his way to this island."

The Arabian Nights ~
translated by Sir Richard Burton

I am working on a long entry with lots of pictures that will be up later today. Moving into my house has been a wild adventure and I am building a magical world with mermaids everywhere, a Magic Ship, cottage gardens in the making, and I would like to share them with you all. It will be a long entry that will take awhile to write, so I wanted to give you a sneak peak.

Happy is the woman who was shipwrecked and has made her way to the island.

More to come...