yard life

September 24th, 2015 § 0 comments § permalink

We rent a room on land, which happens to be attached to a little patio and big wild yard. Over the past year I have done countless experiments back there – nest composting, cardboard mulching, a weaksauce veggie patch, wild salad foraging, seed saving, spider husbandry, frog chorus appreciation, smothering vine annihilation – truly I could go on.

Overall, it is an exercise in my favorite type of gardening: Gardening By Deletion.

My foreign-born husband periodically gets to “be American” and rumble through the weedy expanse with a lawnmower, maintaining a large loop path. Along the path, I have attempted to exhume the “good plants” out from under the pokey vines that levitate out of the underbrush and coil around all and any available appendages.

Any plant with an interesting leaf or bark gets freed up so it can show what else it can do. They use the window of unburdening to bloom right quick, show off a seasonal color change, push out some tender buds. In doing so, they qualify for continued assistance in warding off hangers-on. A plant shall also be spared if it has delicious leaves or flowers.

A plant makes it onto kill list primarily if it smothers or has grabby seeds. There are few things more annoying than coming back from the yard covered in little barbed hitchhikers that cannot be laundered and only come out if meticulously picked at one by one.

Sometimes, however, it is hard to stick to my own deletion rules. Here is one plant, with whom I have had a kill/save relationship for over a year, and I do not even know its name. Lets call it Grabby Butterfly Weed.

We have A LOT of it, and during the winter, it coats our sleeves with barbed seeds from even the slightest of brushing-bys. PED_yardlife00

…But this time of year, it is swarmed with butterflies, bees and a gajillion other critters.  Wasps build their nests in their lower stems, where they blend in with their dried leaves.  Teenage lizards blend in perfectly with the top leaves. All major thumbs up.

PED_yardlife02

So the moral of this story is that sometimes I just have to trim back something before it goes to seed instead of ripping it out entirely. There might be a metaphor for life in there somewhere?

Finally, I have no idea what this plant is – anyone know its name? Another metaphor?

consuming and producing reality

September 9th, 2015 § 4 comments § permalink

Yesterday I caught a radio interview with former Marketplace host Tess Vigeland on Leap, her book about “leaving a job with no Plan B.” My heart swelled with camaraderie as she unfolded her story of jettisoning a perfectly good career for the unknown and starting over as a grown–ass woman.

My identification was absolute while she described the layers of realization that led up to making a radical life change, the elation and freedom immediately following that change, and the industrious repurposing of skills for new and nimble contract work.

The beaming smile cracked a bit, however, as she delved into the unanticipated sense of purposelessness that accompanied long-coveted downtime between jobs, and then the unavoidable identity crisis when it sinks in that you have voluntarily rescinded hard-earned expert status in your field.

I forget how the interview ended. Something about financial planning.

My loss of social capital is not something I ever wanted to fess up to. I feel it is impolite to mention my fragile ego on Facebook. According to Instagram, my life after leaving New York is full of only the greenest pastures.

Lately I have become a big fan of yogis on social media. There are a few that really knock my socks off with their hollowback forearm stands, but truly my current tip-top favorites are: a formerly obese girl who is saving up for skin reduction surgery, a muslim girl who practices in athletic hijab, and a mother of five with a colostomy bag.

How I produce social media and how I consume it are completely at odds. I produce a highlights reel of my best moves, my tastiest meals, and the cleanest vistas. But what I seek out for fuel are the works-in-process – the half done art projects and the dramatic relationship updates. I want to know if and how the scars are healing.

Recently, I have been making stop-time videos of my home yoga practice. After two years of undiagnosable and shapeshifting pain, this fledgling home practice has become an essential compliment to the injections, pills, and herb-filled hot soaks that beat back at locking, chronic pain. I now see food itself as medicine, and know that stress is a luxury for the well. I do the videos because they help me correct my form.

This would be a great space to engage a social network. There are people all over the world doing some version of the same thing – a sangha right there in the inter-ether.  Yet I have only been willing to share 15-second snippets that star me as a casual-if-mediocre yogi, lazing about on my floor.

In reality, it’s a rather big part of my day, and it happens in the middle of a chaotic and messy room, with new additions, subtractions and distractions all the time. For the record, and in the interest of full disclosure, I will include here one morning’s full clip, edited only to include explanatory text:

So, back to Tess and the leap…I am feeling more responsible for full disclosure out here. I didn’t just sail off into the sunset like I would like some to think. As Liz Lemon would say, “Arrrgh…things! Are! Happening!”

Where am I?

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