knee deep in weeds

notes on an imperfect life

Ladies Mantle

“Ladies bathed before noon, after their three o'clock naps, and by nightfall were like soft teacakes with frostings of sweat and sweet talcum.”
― Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

Related to the rose, Ladies Mantle is said to have magical healing properties. She grows close to the ground and surrounds herself with tiny, yellow, star like flowers. It is said that you can find both bravery and fortitude from within, when she is present. She reseeds herself freely and finds a way to flourish in the tiniest spot of soil. She sparkles after a good downpour and last forever in a cut bouquet.


a rare treasure

“People could surprise you. Not just their kindness, but also their sudden ability to express things the right way.” 
― Elizabeth Strout

a long conversation with a dear friend leaves me full of gratitude.
to be heard is such a gift.
but to listen to her wise words, to be privy to her wisdom. . .
that is a rare and beautiful treasure.

have a beautiful weekend


the guest house

"Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it."
— Rumi

The week is full of self-made barriers and I do my best to bury myself within the garden. I divide perennials, plant some herbs, move a rose and plant a bed of cosmos. I poke pole bean seeds into holes around two tepees, and sow what I know is way too much zucchini. I hill the potatoes and pick rhubarb and contemplate how I am still here, tending this yard, and question if it is by choice or a barrier I have built.

I am thankful for the sun on face, record breaking heat, and the need to water for it soothes my soul. I discover teeth holes in the thick, black hoses in the vegetable patch. “These must make grand chew toys,” I tell him as he patches them. For now I coil the heavy hoses up on the fence when I am finished, but that will get old come summer so I start looking for one of those roll up things online.

Mother’s Day comes and goes without much fanfare. I think of my mom and hear from all my kids. The dog and I sit on the futon outside on the patio for most of the day. I read and watch the birds while he patrols the yard, keeping it free of squirrels. The two of us even nap a bit. He seems to sense my mood and does not leave my side much. The day is melancholy and I do my best to be kind to myself. Finally I go in and take a long, hot bath, eat the last piece of rhubarb blondies, and head to bed.

I speculate about why it is that some days are just so hard. Why fighting depression is an evasive saga at times, taking over my life. But I am learning not to fight it, but rather just allowing it to be, with kindness and curiosity. I take note of the feelings inside of me, labeling them without judgement. I pinpoint the heaviness behind my eyes and within my heart and don’t question it. For when I am able to do this I find their grip eases and the bleakness does not last as long.

“This being human is a guest house. Every morning is a new arrival. A joy, a depression, a meanness, some momentary awareness comes as an unexpected visitor...Welcome and entertain them all. Treat each guest honorably. The dark thought, the shame, the malice, meet them at the door laughing, and invite them in. Be grateful for whoever comes, because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.”
― Rumi

Morning breaks and I feel a bit more like myself. I make a latte, tuck a treat into my pocket and head outside where the dog is already waiting for me on the futon. Together we watch the yard come to life. He noses around my pocket until I give over the treat, and then rests his head in my lap as we both drink in a new day. It is not long before a squirrel threatens the peacefulness of the garden and he is off. I get up, grab my empty latte mug and come inside, grateful that there are things I want do today. . .


what we ask of the world

“How do we become who we are in the world? We ask the world to teach us. But we have to ask with an open heart, with no idea what the answer will be.”
― Pam Houston, Deep Creek: Finding Hope in the High Country


the dog and i slip out just as the light is fading
he heads off to sniff and do his evening rounds
while i follow the light, spellbound


with no agenda other than where it might take me
i allow the earth to open up my senses
and just like that, i am lost in her beauty





happy birthday, Baker

‘It's just the most amazing thing to love a dog, isn't it? It makes our relationships with people seem as boring as a bowl of oatmeal.’
John Grogan

Today is Baker’s first birthday. This makes him roughly 15 in human years. He is a true teenager, one who is on the verge of dating and driving, testing his boundaries, and figuring out just where he fits in the pack. He runs amok, barks at anything that moves, is obstinate when he doesn’t get his own way, pouts at times, loves junk food and falls into bed each night and sleeps like a log.

In this first year he has:
chewed and pawed his way though our basement door
eaten several parts of stuffed animals
gone through a dozen tennis balls
snatched food off the table and the cupboard
broken out of his kennel twice
chewed numerous socks and shoes
oh, and phone cords
helped himself to my morning latte
and hogged the bed

During this first year we have learned:
to pick our stuff up, all of it
scoot our chairs in, after leaving the table
to share the bed
that he is tall, tall enough to reach the cupboard
to throw a tennis ball, I use one of those throw things, dad free-hands it
that long walks do us all good and are a cure-all for almost anything
and that metal kennels are more durable than the soft ones

We have all experienced unconditional love, and we have learned how to share: snacks like bowls of popcorn, the occasional Gold Fish cracker and French fries, are top on his list. And while I am sure he would share his treats, we pass and settle for the laughter and love he brings into our days.

We have also come to understand that petting a dog does wonders for the soul during a hard day.

He has worked his way deep into our hearts and our home; made our little family whole agiain, and blessed us beyond measure. Today we will celebrate with extra treats and a trip to the dog park. There will be snuggles all around. Face licks from him, and ear kisses from us.

Not a day goes by that I don’t think of Basil who we lost a year ago, almost to the day. I thank him for turning me into a true dog person. He opened my heart to the privilege of what it feels like to love a dog and have them return that love tenfold. He and Baker would have been great friends.

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‘Dogs invite us not only to share their joy but also to live in the moment, where we are neither proceeding from nor moving toward, where the enchantment of the past and future cannot distract us, where a freedom from practical desire and a cessation of our usual ceaseless action allows us to recognize the truth of our existence, the reality of our world and purpose--if we dare.’
Dean Koontz




acknowledging life

“So, who was I now? I was old enough to wear wrinkles and scars, but young enough to feel stronger and smarter because of them”
― Elise Hooper, Learning to See

it is not enough to just breath
but rather to acknowledge my full range of emotions:
anger, love, joy, fear, doubt, sorrow, trust
none of them are wrong
only proof i am alive


wisps of the past

The smell of moist earth and lilacs hung in the air like wisps of the past and hints of the future.
- Margaret Millar


she stood behind the bush, allowing their sent
to fill her with memories, too much of a rule follower to
break off a stem to take home with her . . .


hi dad

“A picture is a secret about a secret, the more it tells you the less you know.” 
― Diane Arbus

sometimes the world speaks and i am awake enough to listen . . .


i pull over to capture these two photos;
one a few weeks ago, one just last week.
i think of my dad; who was a railroad man,
and a fisherman. he often told use where the tracks led
and more often than not, had an aluminum boat
tied down on the top of his truck.

hi dad . . .


writing things down

“Your whole house smells of dog, says someone who comes to visit. I say I'll take care of it. Which I do by never inviting that person to visit again.”
― Sigrid Nunez, The Friend

it is an ordinary week until it isn’t. there is garden work,
new treats for the dog, walks, and rowing.
life seems to have taken on an easy going
rhythm, full of unencumbered love and sweetness,
”oh, there you are,” i tell myself . . .

we celebrate his 36th birthday for two full days.
we celebrate with too much food,
too much hard cider, and his favorite cookies.
i bask in their laughter, falling into bed each night
tired and happy.

i laugh as they take selfies and do my best
to take it all in.
my love for all of them so easy now,
if that makes sense.

the boys ignore their mother when i tell them
to look at me. i can’t hear what they are talking about, but allow them to
ramble, to sink into brotherly behavior and a sense of humor only they share.
the girls follow my cue, and i can’t help but feel
that they are the finishing pillars on a frame that completes
a meaningful picture; standing strong with these men they love.

“You write a thing down because you’re hoping to get a hold on it. You write about experiences partly to understand what they mean, partly not to lose them to time. To oblivion.”
― Sigrid Nunez, The Friend


have a lovely rest of your week . . .

happy

“When spring came, even the faults spring, there were no problems except where to be happiest.”
- Ernest Hemmingway

I stand by the flowering quince almost daily with my camera.

I also crawl on the ground among the forget-me-nots.

While he does his very best to not smash the flowers.


purpose

“Here is a test to find out whether your mission in life is complete. If you’re alive, it isn’t.”
― Lauren Bacall

i come to understand that the buzz and the turbulence of the online world does nothing for my creativity.
lately the double tap has rendered me indifferent, and aloof, feeling like i am
untrue to both myself and to others. i back away, only to suffer from
enough curiosity that i can’t help myself, and so i return off and on throughout the day.
yet, the connection i feel is illusive and i am encumbered by the sheer number of it all.it

years ago, when i started blogging, a close friend asked
me why? why did i think others were interested in my daily life;
interested in what i was eating, or reading, or what the dog and i were up too?
i really could not answer her with a logical purpose, as i had
no commercial intentions, nor was i seeking an avenue to promote
myself in any manner.

i do it for me, i finally told her; explaining that writing about a simple moment,
or my day, fed my soul. and my camera was like meditation for me, lifting me out
of dark places, shining light into my heart. but why make it public? she asked.
i couldn’t really come up with an answer that satisfied either of us.

today i would have a clear answer for her:
i come here most days to explore this space in some way; it is an extension of my home.
i read past post, look at the photos of Baker as a pup, or Basil, who is gone now.
I bask in summer flowers, as it rains buckets outside, or sit on the dock at the lake
remembering sunsets of summers past. i come here to rest, to meditate, to feed my senses
with memories, and to give gratitude.

i find i rearrange this space to fit my mood and to meet my purpose, as my focus
morphs and redirects, just as my life does.
after all these years it seems i have only one thing figured out: my job is not to control, but to be aware. . .
and i do that best with my camera and a few words, scribbled here.
it gives me purpose.

today i would tell her . . .

i am here to heal, to grow, and for proof of a life that doesn’t always seem to fit.
i am here to document that life with curiosity, great love and gratitude.
I am here to take chances, learn trust, have faith, and feel.
i am here for myself .

Be faithful in small things because it is from them that your strength lies.
- Mother Teresa