Wednesday, January 27, 2010

and The Grammy goes to...

We leave in the morning to fly to Los Angeles for four nights of Grammy Awards shindigs.  No, we are not nominated, but I am honored to serve as a Trustee on the national Board of Trustees of The Recording Academy, the organization whose membership votes and bestows the awards.  Tickets to the fabulous events are a nice perk at the end of a year of countless hours of meetings, trips and committee work.  So Chris and I gussy up and listen to incredible music and drink killer martinis for four nights. 

What this has created in my life is a convergence of deadlines right on top of a trip out of town.  I am applying to be a part of the Texas Commission on the Arts touring roster, to get my French music out there into museums, schools and concerts more often.  That process has been a bear.  We are attending the Folk Alliance Conference in February and had to get all kinds of promotional materials created and to the printer before we leave tomorrow.  Our phone started ringing like crazy for bookings this spring and summer.  I had to figure out what the heck to wear to three very dressy affairs.  You get the picture.   

And where did this leave my sweet gardening blogging project - in the proverbial dust.  True confession time - I haven't picked up a hose or a trowel or put on my gardening gloves since Saturday - that's four full days.  People often keep a journal to track their body's reaction to certain foods to identify what might be causing ailments and allergies.  Through this process I am tracking my daily activity choices and noticing my response.

After four days of nonstop work I can say that I am not sleeping well, have lost that magical relaxed vibe I was so proud of, started resenting my work, have been snapping at my sweet husband...If there was any doubt, I have now proven to myself that a little bit of earth and sun everyday really is a miracle worker in my life and psyche.

Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do (like go schmooze at red carpet events) but I am counting the days until I get back to my overalls and my bamboo.   

Saturday, January 23, 2010

The March of The Bamboo

I am beginning to realize that there is no way I'm going to have time to actually work in the garden everyday, write about it, get in the meditation and exercise that I'm also embracing and make a living and be the volunteer queen.  So, I may not get to the writing part, but rest assured I am out there in the elements, moving my body, getting to know the natural world around me, and staying closer to my spiritual home base through all of this.  I just might miss a few days of blogging now and then. 

It is getting easier all the time to leave the computer chair and grab my gardening gloves.  My body craves it, my spirit demands it and so far my affairs are in as much order as they ever were and my joy is on the rise.  So I'll keep opening my arms to it. 

The army of bamboo that has been marching closer and closer to the house has finally gotten my attention.  That stuff is relentless.  My ultimate plan is to yank up the roots all the way to the back line of our property, dig a trench, fill it with cement and try to hold the line.  I love the privacy that it provides, but I hate its aggressiveness - what a bully.  I hope to work with it because I don't think I'll ever be able to get rid of it completely.  Besides, my good friend David loves a good outdoor project and has offered to lend his wisdom, guidance, sweat and back to the cause - so bring it on.   

I'm trying to cut it back enough to even see the dimensions of our yard and what we're dealing with.  It's easy enough to chop down, but then I have to cut it up into smaller pieces to shove them in a brown recycling bag.  I've learned that it is ten times easier to do that when they are freshly slaughtered and still green.  If I let them lie around for a few weeks they are dry, brittle and much harder to deal with (hmmmm....sounds like my hair in menopause).  So, that's been my project this week.  I spend an hour and you can't even tell that I made a dent in it.  I try to remind myself that it's all about the journey and not the destination; easier said than done.  

This picture gives you a sense of it but doesn't capture the enormity of the challenge.  The prone cedar tree is a story for another day.  As you can see, we don't have a perfectly manicured suburban lawn.  You know my theory - as grows the garden, so goes my life.  You should see my nails.  

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Ring Around the Moon

This happens a lot.  When I finally find time to write, it is after midnight and I have missed the "date window" so my little blogs don't line up in a neat little row.  Of course I began this with the Virgo perfectionism goal of having an entry for every day of the year.  But I am one of those living things that I am learning to be more patient and flexible with.  I am bound to have hibernation periods, my foliage is going to die for awhile, I'm going to show some signs of stress when it gets too cold or too hot. 

Alas, I am finding time to get outside everyday even if I don't write about it.  Today I clipped a few things with my trusty new Home Depot Titanium clippers and then sat on the porch playing Scrabble on my iPhone.  I got to experience a mystical ring around the moon as it was rising.  I also tried to cut back my aloe vera plants that took a real hit in the freeze.  I was dripping with aloe juice and gave my porch a very healing bath when it was all said and done.  I wished that I had a bad burn so that it wouldn't go to waste.   

Without this shift in priorities I probably wouldn't have done any of those things.  My desk might be cleaner and my laundry might be done, but I would have missed that ring around the moon.  

Disclaimer - I didn't think to get a picture tonight, so this shot is from a website

Monday, January 18, 2010

Virgo Dirt

I am a happy woman.  I have been outside digging, raking leaves and hauling stuff away for several hours the last couple of days.  I am energized, relaxed, excited about my visions for the spring.  My body is feeling stronger and I do not resent the work that awaits me when I come back in to my office.     

How can it be so simple?  Why didn't I do this ages ago?  Why do we resist when that little voice is saying "I know what you need.  Just listen".  

I notice that much of the comfort of this work for me is in the smell.  Dirt is nectar for my soul.  Perhaps it's because I am a Virgo (earth sign) with five planets in Virgo.  But I also think it has to do with my childhood.  I grew up in the country in upstate New York.  My entire childhood played out in the acres that surrounded us - five that my parents owned and many more that were undeveloped adjacent to our property.  My first profound spiritual experience occurred while lying in a field of violets in the spring.  I felt the certainty of my connection to God/Life/Love, and I have carried it with me ever since.  Fall was spent raking leaves and leaping into the piles; winter days found us sledding down the hill by the barn; we passed the summer evenings playing kickball on freshly mown grass and the days splashing around in the creek down the hill.  I spent hours reading in a treehouse up in a 150 year old elm and marveled at the return of the irises every April.   My favorite place to lay and dream was under the grape arbor - it was dark and cool and secret and dripping with huge, succulent, purple grapes. 

My life choices brought me to this place - a rectangle of land with a blue house in the middle of a very large city in Texas.  We chose property that is still a bit wild and untamed.  There are huge live oak trees and too much bamboo and overgrown corners that need attention.  The butterflies love it, a family of Great Horned Owls chose to teach their babies to fly here a few years ago, all the cats in the hood hang out in our garden (the coolest litter box around), and the child explorer/dreamer in me is waking up by spending time out there - just messing around without a plan.    

So today I bought a grape vine at Home Depot to plant this spring.  I think I'll create another place to lay and dream.  

Saturday, January 16, 2010

High Tech Gardener

I put technology to work today and set an alarm on my iPhone to remind myself to put the computer on standby and get outside. The alarm went off and I of course pushed it another hour. I did go out though and finally took down the Christmas lights. I love decorating the house, both inside and out, but it feels good to get back to the space and simplicity that return when it's all packed away again.

This time of year I can see all the way down to the roots on most of my plants. The showy green growth and flowers are gone and I can find the foundation of my garden. I'm beginning to plan for the spring. Maybe I'll move some things that need more space, perhaps I'll keep other plants trimmed so they don't get as huge as they usually do. Just because the Esperanza can get 8 feet tall, do I have to let it? It looms over other lovely plants, casting a shadow that robs them of their light. There is a trumpet vine that we share with the neighbors along our driveway. Since there is no structure for it to grow on it falls over on itself and doesn't flower like it could with more support. This would be a good time to cut it all the way back and install a simple chicken wire fence for it to climb on in the spring. Voila, a little more privacy too!

I wish it was this simple to decide what to cut back in my own life and where to give myself more support so that I can "bloom and grow" like the edelweiss in the famous song. Maybe it is simple. I could start by cutting back on television (okay, I'm addicted to West Wing reruns - which I usually start about 1 AM) and support myself with more rest (the hour I spend at The White House with Martin Sheen).

In keeping with my vow to let technology serve me, I came in and exercised with our new Wii Fit after my time in the garden. I'm turning into such a high tech earth mother health nut.

(The picture today is our home when it's decked out in all its glory.  Happy New Year, a little late)

Friday, January 15, 2010

Rocked by The Mother

I returned from our week in paradise with a raging sinus/bronchial infection, so I wasn't able to jump right back in to my garden or my blog.  It was hard to drag myself out of bed to take care of the unpaid bills and unanswered emails much less get out there in the cold, damp Austin air or locate any words worth writing in my congested head.    

While we were away Austin was hit by a hard freeze.  Our housesitter did a good job saving the lettuce and the potted tropicals, but there are telltale signs of the stress all around us. The cactus, aloe plants, airplane plant, Christmas cactus and ginger, droopy and beaten, seem to be saying, "Thanks a lot.  While you were oohing and aahing over that poinsettia tree and drinking Pina Coladas, we were freezing our buns off here and were left to fend for ourselves, unprotected!"  No one takes care of your children like you do and I have all the requisite mother guilt after grabbing six days for myself.  I've learned from years past that some of them will still come back and for those that don't make it, there is a wonderful nursery a mile away just waiting for me to adopt one of their babies for a very reasonable fee.

Waking everyday to feast my eyes on the Caribbean and being rocked to sleep by the wind in the palms each night reinforced this path that I am on.  Some fundamental part of me is nurtured by nature and I have drifted away from Her.  I follow the trail of tasks and projects that feed my body and other important longings - to serve the community, to connect with friends and family, to do meaningful work - but I sometimes end up feeling lost in the wilderness.

I don't have to fly away to a tropical island to find my way back.  Sure it helps to have uninterrupted days of endless ocean, warm sun and three dimensional stars.  But I can be rocked by Mother Earth right here, and let that rhythm help me find my center again. 

I opened the book "Heart Steps - Prayers and Declarations for a Creative Life" by Julia Cameron today - looking for inspiration.  These are her words.  

All of Life is My Mentor   

I honor the wisdom of life.  I learn from Life in all its forms.  The tree teaches me.  The sparrow and the wren sing my songs.  I am open to the lessons Life brings to me from the earth.  I learn from the wind, from the sun, from the small flowers, and from the stars.  I walk without arrogance.  I learn from all I encounter.  I open my mind and my heart to the guidance and love that come from the natural world. 

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Christine Unplugged

A front blew through last night while we sang and rang in the New Year so today I picked up the sticks that were littering the yard.  A simple task for a tired woman, but even that felt good.  Perhaps my sleeping problem the last couple of nights is less about the full moon and more about my body being in shock from the unusual amounts of sunshine and fresh air it's suddenly receiving!  My internal clock doesn't know what time it is anymore. 

I said my goodbyes to our little south Austin farmland this evening.  Tomorrow we begin our journey to Belize to make music with Jerry Jeff Walker and stay with him and his wife Susan in their island home, so I won't be writing for a week or so.  Well, you might find me curled into a chair on the veranda drinking in the Caribbean air and putting pen to paper, but I won't be rushing to find a computer to post it to you back here in blog land.  There's a time and place for commitments, and this week it's time to commit to total unplugged down time.  Here I go.