Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Making it through the winter: a new series

Oh, this gray rainy weather is tough. I noticed the other day that while it was noontime, at the height of the day, it was so dark out I had to turn all of the lights on. Dark, gloomy, cold and stormy. And so it is for many of us in the Northern Hemisphere, and especially for us up north. Triply so for Northwesterners, where our dark days seem to go on forever. Are you still reading my gloomy post?

I had thought the Australia trip would ward off my winter gloom, but I can feel the SADs inching up on me. Fortunately, I have a whole arsenal of activities and rituals I do to keep them at bay, and it's time to kick them into high gear.

For those of us who are gardeners, the dark days of winter give us time to do other things than work in our gardens and play outside. I'd love to hear what you do to keep your mood up in the winter, and if you're a gardener, how you spend this time dreaming of spring.*

Here is my first installation on Making It Through Winter....

Ritual of tea to brighten dark winter days

Ritual. There's something about being a gardener that brings out the witch in me. Tending to the earth, connecting to it, and practicing a daily (okay, okay: it's more like weekly) meditation of weed pulling puts me in a place of calm. Weed pulling gives me a time to work through things in my head, or just clear my head of workday worries, deadlines and creative projects I'm noodling through. Establishing a wintertime ritual to help replace this calms me.

Mexican Mango Chili Mate

One of these rituals is tea making. There's the witchlike steam, potion building, and elixer stirring. The beauty of the color of the tea in a beautiful cup. A cup that is only used for tea drinking. This is a Mexican Mango Chili Mate from Capital Teas in Washington DC. The cup is a bowl and plate from my friends at Lonesomeville Pottery. If my blog had scratch'n'sniff you'd be in herbal, spice, floral heaven. It really does smell like majik.

Majik tea ritual

*I'm writing this as a series gathering my thoughts on making it through our winters, especially for gardeners. I may use this content, and your comments, in an upcoming column I'm writing for PQ Monthly. PQ Monthly is a new monthly print magazine/daily online news launching in February. I'm excited to be their garden/home/living columnist, and will share more information here as that unfolds.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Ye Olde Meme

A long time ago, in a galaxy known as Ye Early Blogging Times, there was "tagging" and these things called "memes." In these times, most people wrote personal blogs, or as they were known then, web logs. I haven't done a meme in a long time, but in my desire to try to kickstart my writing here once again—dammit to hell trying to figure out the content and purpose of this blog—I'm thrilled to have been tagged by Gazelles on Crack!

I have to answer her questions, personal as they might be. Ready? Here we go.

What is your #1 best memory - the one that will always make you smile?
While I may smile both with laughter and with fear on this one, it's an early morning earthquake in Southern California. My bedroom had a linoleum floor, and my crib had wheels. Needless to say, when that room began rockin', my crib began rollin'. And I stood up for the ride. I couldn't have been that little, because I can remember. Standing up, laughing and holding onto the crib's edge, while my mother in her nightgown chased me around the room. I don't think she was laughing though.

If you could do anything (career wise), and money was no object, what would that be?
Honestly? I really love what I do. But I think I'd be an artist. I'd build things, make things, tinker with things, paint things. There might be some welding equipment in there too. But it would all be from my own eye and crazy vision.

What is the most awesome place you've ever visited?
I just visited Australia for the second time, and it was awesome. With animals like kangaroos, and beaches that take your breath away, what else is there to say? Here is a photo of each of those things taken last month. Awesome.
Emerald beach
Hangin at the beach with the Roos

What is your go-to comfort food?
It used to be homemade mac-n-cheese. But these days, it's a big bowl of steaming soup. With lots of lime juice, ginger, green onions, mushrooms and maybe tofu. I like the steamy facial you get at the same time as you slurp the hot soup. On cold days, it's the best.

What's your guilty pleasure (that you're willing to admit to in a public forum?)
This time of year, it's really long hot showers under my rain showerhead. Long showers. Like until the hot water runs out. Such the bad environmentalist. But sometimes that's what it takes to feel warm again in our cold, wet winters. In our summers? My guilty pleasure is laying in the summer sun and working on my tan. Sometimes even without sunscreen on.

Favorite way to relieve stress?
To prevent it, I work out. Hard. At the gym or by running. I do a morning spin class 3+ times a week, and on other days, run or take a yoga class. If I work out in the morning, it keeps me calm and stress free throughout the day. If I end up feeling stressed anyway, working in the garden or being outdoors helps me disconnect and come back to my center.

Favorite book?
I've gone through different phases in different times of my life, including a love affair with all of Tom Robbins' classic books in the early 1990s. Hello, Jitterbug Perfume and Still Life With Woodpecker. But I think if there's anything I continually come back to, it's the classic witty prose in The Portable Dorothy Parker. I would love to have a drink with Dorothy. What a bitterly delightful woman.

Favorite movie?
Moulin Rouge. Everything about it. The art direction, the costumes, the music, the cast: I know the soundtrack word for word. Did you know Wink's middle name, Satine, was for the main character in Moulin Rouge? Satine, in her white dress, so elegant.

What are you good at that hardly gets recognized?
I'm an early adopter. Technology, trends, you name it. Hello. What year did we organize the first pie-off? Hello. And I just received a happy five year anniversary note from Twitter. I've been on it five years.

What did your 10-year-old self want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a piano teacher. Because that's what I knew. I may still be a teacher in my lifetime, it just won't be piano. I don't know yet what I will teach but I know I will.

What's holding you back?
I've learned this past year that the only thing holding me back is myself. The world, my friends, is our oyster.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The amazing year of 2011

Lest you think 2011 was a horrible year, since my last post was about the loss of our sweet Wink Satine, I have something to show you about last year, because sometimes pictures really do say a thousand words.

This was me at the beginning of 2011:

This is me at the end of 2011:

Photos from ILiveHerePdx

It was an incredible and amazing year, and I've been going round and round how to tell you some stories. Stories of intention, authenticity, fun, making space, and incredible adventure. Here's a taste of adventure for you:
More to come....