Wednesday, February 24, 2010

I interrupt this week with an important announcement from my dog

Because we all need more cuteness in our lives, Wink is offering herself up to you as a cheerful antidote to one of the darkest of months: February. I take too many photos of her with my iPhone, and never share them. The stash is getting too big and thus, they must go forth and cheer you all on. Of course, there are messages from Wink that go with them. Think of them as life lessons. For free!

Ahem. Throat clearing.

Everyone needs an adventure. Have one. Heck. Have two!
Wink likes adventures

Don't be afraid to take control of a situation. You might just find you enjoy it. Especially with the wind blowing through your hair. Fur. Hair. Whatever.
Bet you didn't know Wink can drive

Take care of yourself. Go to the groomers once in awhile. And don't be afraid of bows. Bows FTW!
Wink got a haircut. Green bows!

Get a full night's sleep. It keeps you young.
Tucked in

Revel in a hobby.
Wink's favorite hobby

Always keep your eye on the ball. Even when reveling in your hobby.
I'm guarding this ball. Even if I'm sleeping.

Work hard and don't be afraid to kick it frog-style and marvel at the scenery.
Resting frog style

We all have bad hair days. It happens.
I'm not sleeping!

Wink just sent you a lick. Did you get it?

Monday, February 22, 2010

Thoughts on the women’s downhill and living with pure joy

the answers
There’s a look I can’t forget on Julia Mancuso’s face: pure happiness, excitement and thrill, and this is before she flew out of the gate at the top of that hill at the Olympics this year in Vancouver. She was thrilled to be there. She was full of joy. And she kicked that hill’s ass as she swept down at lightening speeds, eventually taking home a silver in the women’s downhill.

The women skiers in this year’s Olympics have been inspiring me. And enlightening. While many people watch for the sport, I find myself analyzing athlete’s theory. Most were intense and focused, hard core as they prepared to jump out of the gate. Staring hard ahead, gritting of teeth. Some you could tell were hesitant, or scared as they skied that icy hill. These overly intense or hesitant women, in the end, didn’t win.

Occasionally the cameras caught Lindsey Vonn in her preparation mode, doing her visualization. Eyes closed, body contorting, she was visualizing in her head the course and her successful maneuvering of each curve and bump. When I saw this, I knew exactly what she was doing. Smart lady! At the starting gate, she was focused but again like Julie, that joy of life exuded from her and the speed was intense as she took those corners and jumps with grace. At the end of the hill, her smile and laughter made all of us at home smile along with her. Pure joy—and gold.

I’ve been thinking about these different styles and which ones were the most successful and which ones left them without a medal. When you do what you love with pure joy of life, of course you will win. If you stress and force it, the pressure will get to you. Sometimes the letting go of the stress and pressure is the hardest thing of all, but allowing yourself to feel the joy of what you do is what will lead to your eventual success. Eyes wide open, taking in the moments, feeling your success at each step: what great life reminders.

I’m in an in-between stage right now. Between seasons, from old to new clients and projects, between phases of projects. I trust myself enough to enjoy this time and to experience it with eyes wide open. It certainly hasn’t always been that way, this trust, but watching the women’s downhill confirmed what I was already feeling. When you do what you love with intent and joy, it manifests as success.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Two things I forgot to show you

Sure, you've seen photos from display gardens, plant combinations, new must-have items for your garden. But there are two things I recently acquired at the Seattle show I haven't shown you. First up: look who got an autographed photo? Ooh la laaaa.
It's Ciscoe Morris, the most upbeat gardener I think I've ever experienced. His catch phrase is "ooh la la" and of course, he signed that on the photo.

And then there's my new bumper sticker, expressing a mantra I wish more Portlanders were aware of.
stop topping trees

Every time I see a horribly pruned tree I cringe. And they're notorious here in North Portland. Someone with a chain saw thinks they're an expert and BAM, off go the tops of trees. It's the worst kind of pruning you can do, and pruning that weakens the tree, producing more quick-growth branches that are likely to break off and do damage to houses and property. Most importantly, it can weaken the root system. Stop. Topping. Trees.

The sun is out, and I have some pruning to do. Wisteria, elderberry, and time to finish up the rose pruning. But don't worry: there's no topping of trees going on here. Ooh la la!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Love is a many splendored thing

Love is patient and kind, yes, but love also goes with you to Lowe's, Home Depot and Fred Meyer on Valentines Day in search of garden stakes, pea netting, bone meal, and organic potting soil. Love then helps build the 8 foot long bed of sugar snap peas, and pots up the strawberries in a hanging basket. And all the while discussing living in a hetero normative society, the aspect of race when it comes to gardening and farming, the beauty of being strong and able to do the work that we do in our garden. But most of the time me complaining that Lowe's has a row full of garden statuary and crap but not basics like pea netting or a good hand saw. Seriously.

This is our 15th Valentines Day together and I can honestly say it gets better every year. Love is love is love is love. Happy Valentines Day blog readers!

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

On gardening in daily bits

just waking up
I worked in the garden this morning. It's cold out there, but things are waking up even early now in February, and it's so quiet and still, except for the birds.

I sat for awhile with my coffee and toast with strawberry jam, and took it all in. Steam billowed from my coffee, and the cries of a seagull, laughing, echoed in the fog while it came in for a landing on the neighbor's roof.

I've often thought of the massive cutback and clean up of this time of year in the garden as a chore. But as I worked last weekend, I realized that it was more fun to take my time, to be in the moment, to really look at the dirt as I cleared the leaves and debris, and to examine the structure of the plants as they stood as their bare selves.

I saw so much more.
I saw the moss and lichen growing on the north facing branches of the trees.
lichen and moss

The hyacinths stretching to get more sun as they emerge from the soil. The rose branches that were brown and would benefit from a hard prune. I worked slowly, and methodically, and when I stretched out my spine and stood back, I saw the garden structure, the opportunity, the beauty of what we've created over the last 12 years here, and I was grateful.

This work isn't a chore. It's my meditation, my exercise, my mind's rest. It's my creative muse and creation of beauty. My connection to nature, to wildlife, to my part of Portland and living in the Northwest. It's part of my being.

So I'm trying to do more of it, on a daily basis, in little spurts and bits. This morning I cut back the hardy fuschia, the huge stand of Matilija poppies, sedum, globe thistle, asters, and the David Austin rose. I found beneath it all the new sedum forming little rosettes and begging to be divided, tufts of black mondo grass standing strong and in all of it's dark, true-black glory, and the red veined sorrel forming early leaves.

black mondo grass

By the time I was done, my half full cup of coffee on the back porch was stone cold, as were my toes. But a quarter of my side bed was cleared, my blood was rushing, and I had worked through my mental list of tasks, client needs, and began some creative musing for a new client's book layout.

My creativity and connection to self comes easily in the garden. Without the chatter of the radio, twitter, facebook updates, e-mails or text messages. While I may have one leg in that world, I will always have one leg in the garden. And hopefully, more and in these inspiring daily bits.

dew on euphorbia

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Garden inspiration when I need it most: reflections on the Seattle Flower and Garden Show

The Seattle Flower and Garden Show did not disappoint. Just the opportunity to hover above and among hyacinths in full bloom, and inhale, exhale, deeply inhale? Golden moment. I think that's one of the joys of garden shows during this time of year. We gardeners get our fix and the fire inside of us that's been slumbering for the winter begins to rekindle and light back up.

Going to a big show like this shows us crazy fun gardening that's not really replicable, but bits and pieces of it that we can take home and use for inspiration. I was glad to not see rows of stiff tulips and hot tubs, but instead designed gardens including chickens, edibles, recycled pieces, worm composting, and even goats: I tend to think Portland is ahead of the curve in a lot of these things. It's fun to see our passion and aesthetics reflected back to us though.

I came away with some some things I was really inspired by, or things that made me smile. Those are good signs. Some of them were...

Great contrast in pots using glass...
glass mulch, float and succulent combination

A pick up truck retrofitted as an edible planter, complete with a chicken in the front seat.
pick up truck front

A living rug...
living carpet

A tiny chair on tiny moss on tiny pebbles...
tiny chair on moss

A rain chain made from recycled blue bottles...
rain chain from recycled bottles + goat

Moss covered recliner chair, sedum pillow, and popcorn...
popcorn and recliner

Glass fiddlesticks...
glass fiddlesticks

I could go on and on but there are more photos in my flickr set here if you'd like to peruse.