what’s eight weeks?

I have said it before and I am sure I will state it again:

I could never live anywhere that did not have the four seasons.

I am too restless for a mere two.

Summer in the Northeast is pretty much ten weeks.

Ten weeks of guaranteed heat, of no hectic school schedule.

That is what summer is for me: not feeling cold, not having school.

That first week school is out and the one prior to it revving back up again; don’t count.

Bumping up next to school demands sullies it.

So that leaves eight weeks.

Eight weeks as wide and welcome as blue skies over a waving meadow.

I have the added blessing of working for a public school so that means no work schedule as well.  I am a substitute teacher so it also means no pay.  We just call hot dogs and watermelon diner about twice a week and drink less wine to cope.

To help pay for our beach vacation we took the day after school was let out I worked nearly full time in June.  To many, that is like saying: I got out of bed in the morning in June.  So what?  But with four daughters still at home, a home I have to keep in order or I turn into captain scary crazy pants, I only allow myself to work part time since going back to work.

Ergo: working everyday all during the week drained the life force out of me.  And of course, keeping in how this world always works, this June had several extra stressers thrown in.  My continual motion, my ceaseless brain trying to organize, my seized-up then sputtered out Adrenalin glands, were all functionally poorly by the end.

Our vacation of four days in Maryland was very much needed, but I still had residual out-of-wack inner man issues.  I felt horrible for my struggling to relax and enjoy when everyone else was.  I should naturally too. The accusation of:

“There are billions of people right now who could not even fathom what a vacation is, much less have the luxury of escaping a beautiful home to travel to another beautiful place to stay”.

This is absolutely true of course.

However, my personal guilt over the validity of this, was very misplaced. It did not have to do, in reality, with the turmoil I was feeling.  I will have to tackle my privileged Western guilt for another day, I suppose.

So we returned. The unpacking and the buying of groceries done. I had those eight weeks staring me in the face.  I will be honest: I still had this invisible stifling pressure bearing down on me, like a swimmer going deeper and deeper down in the water.

I knew I needed a game plan of how to handle NOT having a game plan, if that makes sense.

This is what I concluded would be the most beneficial way for me to deal with eight weeks of warm freedom:

*Wake early to write every morning after coffee outside with chickens and the dog

* Work in the garden every evening after dinner and daughters are organized to do their dinner duty

* Spend that time between my am and pm bookends of writing and gardening maintaining the house, keeping animals alive, raising daughters, maintaining a relationship with the husband, keeping up with others in my life via texting and prompt text reply, emailing, and actual face-to-face interaction, usually over food and alcohol.

* A few times a week volunteer at the local library

* Allow myself to see how I can serve at church

 

That is pretty much it.

My writing/gardening is strictly weekdays.

My in between writing/gardening that allows home maintenance feels like a luxury of unprecedented time, that calms me more than I can say.

My volunteer times are at set times and days, otherwise the pressing, draining need that are the nature of volunteer organizations will drain a person until they burn out.

This leaves ample room to allow my relationships with others to expand, unfurl, send out runners, like cucumbers in July.

Not to say I only keep up relationships in the summer, that would be odd. But it is undeniable that it is easier and therefore more pleasant in the summer. It repairs the damaged widening riff of my winter silence.

Without breathing room for relationships human existence gets dwarfed, sometimes to the point of blight-ridden and shriveled so much so he or she no longer even looks like their real selves.  For the believer in Christ, this is especially damaging as the spiritual relationship with the Father, Son, Holy Spirit, is the springboard in which all our other relationships stay healthy, life-giving, bear good fruit.

Really, isn’t that what we all love about Summer so much?

It is the season of good fruit.

I’m no artist, but I love painting outside signs for my garden.

The fact that they soon get covered in nature and will be completely rotten in a few years, takes the pressure off to make it look like something I bought; lets me not be bothered by the fact it looks like something an elementary student did.

Cheers.

 

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WANT_five minute friday

thirsty roots

that is what i see when i meditate on the word “want”

and John 7:

“Christ calling out in a loud voice: if anyone is thirsty let him drink and I will pour out rivers of life”

i’ve been spending my evenings and weekends planting instead of doing laundry and scrubbing the shower out, like I should; but i can’t help myself because it’s june in upstate new york and we just got ourselves a new sprawling, left to sleep for too many years, property

the most important thing about planting are the roots

they start to shrivel as soon as they are removed from the cocoon of soil they have been secretly thriving in since a seed

they need water, or course, but the gardener knows is what is in the soil that dictates how  the roots will sink and spread and unfurl. That will  make all the difference between “thriving” and just “not dead”

the very best soil?

it has nothing to do with the store bought product of miracle grow

it has everything to do with dead things not really being dead, thanks to the unseen world of micro organisms, giving off a bad smell as it gives life to that thirsty, thirsty root

our culture is amazing in the amount of comforts it produces for us to meet our every want

our culture is tragic in how very, very thirsty most men, women, and children are

the need is the same:

what was dead

now living again

giving life

in the secret places of our inner man

remember this:

the process is not

nice

shiny

pleasant smelly

feel good:

letting Christ HEAL you, RESTORE you, SAVE you;

it always starts in the hard ugly parts we don’t want to go to

it is always offensive, maybe even sickening to us

but it is the only way

because He alone can make the dead alive and meet your unquenchable thirst

stop resisting the hard

the foul,

the need to look away

in your private life

He does not look away from you or think you foul

He will set you free from it

In exchange:

you will start to slowly unfurl

start being set free

start thriving like you were meant to do from the very beginning

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Stop.

Linking up the listening, writing, generous soul over at Kate’s place for another Five Minute Friday. Go over to read more

OR

get brave and write your own. I promise it won’t hurt.

{My Mac laptop is slowly dying on me all! So sorry for the no link, I barely was able to get this post out without crashing}.

Cheers.

Unexpected soft spots of color

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Unexpected soft spots of color.

This sentence sums up how I decorate.

My garden and my home.

But I am not really going to talk about decorating because Martha Stewart and Pintrest have got that pretty well covered don’t you think?

Every gardener knows that the majority of plant life is green.

Green is good.

Green is life.

But green on green on green is not so beautiful, especially once the dazzling show of yellow, pink, purple Spring buds and flowers has faded gently away.

It takes years for a gardener to figure out the rhythm of plant life cycles and then how to plan, select, plant, and nurture bulbs, perennials, annuls, herbs, and produce accordingly. And if you are an upstate New Yorker like me, you have less than 20 weeks a year to unfold it all.

I have yet to perfectly master it all {lack of funds and time being the main culprit} but have found that a handful of unexpected pretty objects, well weathered, quirky, pleasing in shape and color, break up my tangled jungle that is a blur of green on green on green.

Every housewife knows that Country Living or Real Simple magazine spreads are about as realistic an ideal as calling Batman in an emergency.

It would be nice, but c’mon!

I stopped reading magazines altogether, even in the dentist waiting room, because it makes me so annoyed. That’s right: I would rather read up on the signs of early mouth cancer!

However, once I chucked out unrealistic ideals I was still left with the conundrum that my house is always going to be slightly messy, with minor but un-going structural damage, yet I still need some order and some beauty without being a psycho about it.

There are a few square feet in our 2000 square feet home that I keep sparse:

Unexpected Soft Spots Of Color.

Pretty things, creative things, good things against the easy backdrop of natural wood that fills our home

It keeps the blur of:

crumbs

papers

books

clothes

licked cleaned chocolate pudding lids

& cat hair

that swim about in rest of the house in a temporary background, at least psychologically.

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Right now you may be thinking:

Wow! You are pretty smart.

You, young lady, have certainly gotten it all figured out.

Or maybe you are thinking:

Hey! I thought you said you were not going to talk about decorating.

Don’t I recall some cynical comment or two about Martha Stewart and Pintrest?

The thing is: in my quest for decorating and gardening equilibrium, that maybe I do have a good handle on-

I still struggle every single day to find inner peace in my life.

And really who cares about pretty gardens and cute window seats if the people who planted the gardens and live in the homes can’t handle what life throws at them?

It reminds me a lot of taking care of the outer man to the detriment of the inner.

All this outer is fading away, like the wild flowers, but our souls we will carry for eternity. Not only our own, but everyone we interact with.

Everyone in our home.

And don’t we all know too well that the condition of our inner man effects those we live with and love the most.

Taking photos this morning in my garden, with all that lovely green sparkling in shiny drops from last nights storm in early morning light, I was thinking about just this.

Does gardening and photography really matter in the light of panic attacks and anger?

Jesus often told parables using agriculture metaphors, as did the prophets.

The outer form can’t help but reflect what is going on in the inner.

Which makes sense because the one who created the soul for eternity also created the daisies that grow for a few days in the ditch alongside the road.

So while trying to catch the light that is filtering between my over grown forsythia and falling on a single delicate strand of spider web that survived last night storm I realized how peaceful and content I am at this moment.

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I know well, that if my life is a simple blur of work- I become a blur of choking emotions.

I forget though.

Then I resolutely go about getting those carved out soft spots of creativity to color my life.

That have nothing to do with making money.

Nothing that will factor into my formula to do and accomplish.

Nothing that most people get or care about it.

Let’s not get whimsical here.

It’s work.

Beating back the black hungry vultures of questions and accusations that whisper:

“this is a waste of time”

“you should be…”

I think about my husband at work.

My children at school.

Other mothers at work.

And I feel like an out of touch, entitled, lazy, teenager bumming away their Summer vacation.

Always, always, I am a woman torn.

I debated taking the additional time it takes to load these photos on the PC. And then the extra, extra time to blog about it. Not even having a clear picture what it is! For a minute scratch of space of the internet next to no one reads. {Just being honest}.

I fought through it.

I remembered again:

the outer form can’t help but reflect what is going on in the inner.

My real need is not photography or blogging or gardening or decorations in small spaces.

My real need is peace.

Just like everyone else on the planet.

It is what every religion promises to give because it is what everyone craves every single day.

Small surprising creative spaces in my life give way to unexpected peace.

It has to stay small though, or it disappoints, then curdles into something nasty.

I know too well from my twenties, that if I make my life all about finding Me Moments I become that spoiled toddler who throws tantrums precisely because she gets what she wants, how she wants, when she wants, much too often.

My husband, my children, the watching world, are not in need of a creative wife, mother, neighbor.

My husband, my children, the watching world, are not in need of a perfect performing achieving wife, mother, neighbor.

No.

What these people in my life, and those is your own, need is:

to be singularly drawn, and slightly mystified at how lightly we take the heavy things of this world because we have peace, and that allows us to love others well.

I believe that is what kept drawing people to Jesus, after the shock and awe of the miracles wore off.

Because He being the Prince of Peace for mankind is the greatest miracle of all.

What a horrible shame if I, who may talk about Jesus and strive to live like Him, carry none of His Peace.

Unlike outer morality, and learned inner theology, there is no formula or lists to check off for peace.

And so I flounder.

Until…

He shows me, in a small quiet surprising way how to simply be.

Season by season.

Moment by moment.

I often picture it like that favorite teacher everyone has from elementary school who would stop, put an gentle arm around, whisper what’s wrong?, then take that extra time to help you, when you were sitting in your chair, close to tears so frustrated and embarrassed that you could not get it; and no one else in the classroom even knew.

It is always a restful surprise and all it takes are “ears to hear” and “eyes to see”.

May you find your personal peace today that will invite others to sit along too.

Cheers.

DSCN0760P.S.

Like most of my rambling posts it was drawn from another blog post that I read and have been chewing on for a few days.

If anything here resonates in your inner man, go over here to Tresta’s space. I also recommend the book she mentions, C.S. Lewis’s The Weight of Glory.

Post Cheers.

playing in dirt: Shadow Shot Sunday

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I have spent the last two Saturdays doing just that.

It has been a very long, dark, winter.

I have pretty much used up all the possible available space on our suburb lot tilled and filled with flowers.

Yet, our side yard has for the last couple years boasted of a tiny little tilled vegetable patch.

This year we decided that we were gonna “go big or go home” and till up nearly the entire side yard plot

{if the next owners don’t like it…they can fill it in with sterile weed free grass like everyone else in the neighborhood}

Here’s the picture roll with plenty of lovely shadows:

Enjoy.

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step 1: rent a rotor-tiller...let the muscle half do the the grunt work

step 1: rent a rotor-tiller…
let the muscle half do the the grunt work

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAstep 2: build some raised beds with a “helper” who asks questions about every 3 seconds

step 3:add your own kitchen compost, dried cow manure, peat moss & top soil all while getting a workout

step 3:add your own kitchen compost, dried cow manure, peat moss & top soil all while getting a workout

step 4: add strawberries donated by generous mother in law

step 4: add strawberries donated by generous mother in law

 

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Step 5: add 3 rows of pea seeds

Step 5: add 3 rows of pea seeds

 

step 6: feel the soil under your hands, under your nails, smell it, and feel satisfied

step 6: feel the soil under your hands, under your nails, smell it, and feel satisfied

 

This took all day.

But what a great day…i love weekends spend outside with dirt under nails with my family rather than shuffling through stores buying stuff we don’t need.

This project is one of those few pursuits that both me and Mr.MS enjoy to do together…that in itself makes it worth it.

I will say that the added soil and 3 boards of lumber and four brackets cost us $50!

Every time I am forced to buy retail I am astounded and a little sickened at the rising costs.

The longer days around here not only signal more time outside, but longer evenings spent in rosy pink-orange sunset.

Looking at my gardens with a glass of wine in one hand and my camera in the other.

My last offerings:

a broken garden deco turned mosaic garden stones...the babe could not believe her ears when i said " yeah smash this up!"

a broken garden deco turned mosaic garden stones…the babe could not believe her ears when i said ” yeah smash this up!”

 

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my sudden inspiration for a circle herb garden  in the center of our veggies patch

my sudden inspiration for a circle herb garden in the center of our veggies patch

 

wine-ing in the garden

wine-ing in the garden

 

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And finally the day ends on the deck with quilts and pillows above our head airing in the Spring air

And finally the day ends on the deck with quilts and pillows above our head airing in the Spring air

 

Then we go in to start dinner…

Linking up today with the talented and international crowd at Shadow Shot Sunday!

Click to find out more about it or join up, because there is so much beauty in shadows.

Cheers.

 

 

 

We dig summer: August break 2012

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sunset in the garden…

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silhouettes in the garden…

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My participating in "August break"  has multiplied into taking a break from my summerly volunteering of our church's  VBS {vacation bible school} week long teaching program

Which  equals three out of four daughters gone every evening this week

that equals calm evenings with just the babe and Mr.MS

 

click on the August break badge above to check out the flickr group

Cheers.