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My vision is to create a business from my garden, so that I can afford to leave my job, have the garden as income, and paint and write. I also want my customers to read the story of my garden, look at pictures, and get an idea of the process of the work of the garden.

Thursday, July 29, 2004

I am home on vacation this week, and I have had to work on letting go of some no-win ideas for myself. Such as thinking that I was actually going to do something creative--even start something, at least. The truth is, I haven't got time in my life to do the things I want to do, and I need to make peace with that.

I travelled downriver Monday morning to work with my AA sponsor on helping her with her computer, and a project she needs to work on. I went to the meeting late, but she wasn't there. I drove over to her house, and she wasn't there. I waited for her at her house for a while, and she didn't show up. So I left a note and drove back home. Three hours were gone. She did eventually call me, and she had gone to the meeting late--we must have just missed each other, and when I was driving over to her house, she must have gone another route. She saw that I wasn't there, and she waited a while, then went for a walk on the towpath. When she got home, she got both my note and the two phone messages I left for her. We made a date for the next day.

I did manage to start writing on Monday. I wrote for exactly one hour. That's all I could handle.

Tuesday, I went downriver, met her at the meeting, sat through the meeting, and went back to her house to work with her on the computer. I discerned that the problems she was having was because she was using a software word processing system that was basically incompatible with the people to whom she was e-mailing the results to. I talked her into buying the MS Office package for her mac, and we went to the store to get it, came back, I installed it, and for the next couple of hours got myself up to speed on MSWord 2004, which is significantly different than MS Word XP, which is what I have at work. I copied and pasted her work into the new program, worked on the layout, and it was much better and she was happy.

I didn't get home until 5:30, and I had to chair a meeting, a previous commitment, for the month of July, so off I went and got home at 9 pm.

Yesterday I had made a date with a new and promising friend, and went over to her house for lunch. I saw that she was in another economic strata from me, and, since she wanted also to come over to my house to visit that day, I became very anxious. Instead of being honest and telling her that I was nervous because I felt that she would reject me because of my lower economic status, i told her I was an alcoholic.

I guess I thought that if she saw my decrepit stone house, and overgrown, weedy garden, since, unlike her I do not have a landscape gardener, and unlike her, I do not have the time (she is newly retired), she would reject me. Now she is a woman of many good qualities, and she does not seem like a snob. However, my husband and I have a bit of the bohemian still residing in our attitudes towards things, and I wasn't sure that our budding friendship could withstand her taking a long, cold look at how we live. We had cleaned our house thoroughly on Saturday, but no matter how you clean the house, we can never overcome the rust, the dust, the cracked cement outside, the peeling paint. Why don't you just fix it up, you might say. Believe me, we have been working on our place for seven and a half years. Much of the time, we have not been able to put the money into the place that it needs. Such is the case today.

Anyway, I showed her everything--the chicken coop, the painting studios, the house, the garden, and hoped for the best. I know in my heart that anyone who used to work for a large tobacco corporation for twenty-five years, who was successful enough to have all the trappings of a material life, might have a really strong heart to accept us the way we live. And we live well, but we are not part of the world that has in-ground pools, beautiful appliances, current-style cars, etc.

And I am now, in this stage of my life, trying to accept that I may never have money, may never be able to retire, and I have to say that I am doing the best I can. It was a big risk for me to receive this woman's invitation, and perhaps I should have kept my mouth shut when the fear came up, and not tell her I was a recovering alcoholic, but I did, and she responded very well. It didn't save me from whatever judgement she makes on my surroundings. But I am glad I went, I am glad I invited her over, and she is now free to accept me or reject me. And I am trying to work all this out. Everything I struggled with yesterday comes from my primary character defect, which is me telling myself, "I am not enough." Even with awareness of that defect, even with showing up for an invitation, I still know in my heart that it is very hard for most people to overlook class, and befriend someone of another, lower class.

When I am with artists, or with fellow recoving alcoholics, there is a transcendence of class, for the most part. Or there can be. But when I am with people such as this woman, it is harder for that to occur. It may be me, you might think, who needs to overcome. And I do. And I am trying to. But the fear is still there. Fear of rejection, that I am not enough. And that mey be the case, for her. I may never find out. Maybe in another situation I will not be compelled to take care of myself in such a dramatic as declaring that I am an alcoholic. Even in this case, it may have done some good, as she volunteered that her own father had gone to AA. Who knows.

Monday, July 19, 2004

We've had so much rain lately, just an incredible amount. Luckily, I have created many raised beds, and the drainage is pretty good. That is one thing I believe in, with gardening. To work on the soil, so that organic matter is incorporated, whether you till, or practice no-till, adding organic matter to the soil, be it compost, aged manure, mulch (which eventually composts down and is pulled into the soil by the earthworms) or amendments (such as blood meal, greensand, lime, bone meal. We do have some leaking in the chicken coop, which is on our list. The house is in good shape, as is the barn. But at times, the volume of rain was alarming. The other day, on my way to a therapy session, I had to pull into a mall parking lot, because I couldn't see for the volume of rain. I sat in my car, with thunder and lightening all around, and watched the water rise in the parking lot as if it were a creek. I feared it would come up to the floorboards of the car. Also, the car has a leaky window, which we had already had to have fixed a while back, but apparently, not well enough, as I needed to stuff paper towels in the little door handle niche on the side of the door that was catching the heavy amount of drops falling into the car.
We still didn't get out to see Michael Moore's film. We did go to a friend's pot luck supper, and I brought a beautiful salad with nasturtium blossoms sprinkled throughout, to make it look festive. I also made a peach cobbler. Met some new people, and saw a few we already knew. I love Stephanie's parties--they are so casual and comfortable, with good food, and lots of children. There has been a baby boom in her circle of friends, and there were plenty of baby carriers with little pudgy munchkins parked all around the deck and the living room.
A lot of the people ride horses. We used to, but finances and in my case, not able to overcome my fear of horses, brought us to a place where we decided to stop. I wish I could persuade my husband to go back to it, because he really did well, and it gave him a lot.
One of the people present has a large farm, with a big pond, and she teaches riding to many of the people there. Every year she and her husband have a "white party," and you have to wear white. It is in the daytime, and it is a pretty picture to see across the distance of the property, all the white-clad people. One is supposed to bring some kind of "snooty" food, and I was thinking of making swans out of choux-paste.
In one of my past lives I worked at Macy's New York in the Executive Dining Room. I was hired as a waitress, at a time when I was toying with the idea of becoming a chef, and the Executive Chef of the food production at Macy's gave me a job as a pastry chef. I was supposed to create little pastries for the Fountain Restaurant, which offered a tea every day. I also made products for the Cellar, such as carrot cakes, and puff-pastry-wrapped rounds of brie. It was a lot of fun, and we all fooled around in the kitchen, all the gay guys and me. The chef, the sous-chef, and the maitre-d, were all gay, and they were a never-ending source of amusement, ribaldry, and games. We also had two other waitresses, and when the Executive Chef made me the pastry chef, I suddenly got some other privileges, such as eating with the chefs and the maitre-d after the executive lunches were over. Previously, as per the caste system in place, I had to eat lunch before the executive lunches, and sat with the other waitresses and the dishwashers. We didn't get the really good food, but when I was given the new job, the food also became better. We ate what the executives ate. One of the waitresses was very resentful towards me, and really became quite mean. It seemed that the quality of the food was a big deal for her, and I tried to talk with her, but was rebuffed.
I remember this, because I was thinking of the cream-puff swans. The Executive Chef taught me how to make them, and I thought they might be fun to bring to the White Party. I hope that talking about the swans doesn't mean my blog has degenerated into total trivia.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

1. Lilies: oriental or asiatic
2. No-till or till?  Philosophically I prefer no-till, although I still use a garden fork to loosen soil
3. Bare hands or garden gloves? Start out with gloves, but get impatient
4. Garden tchotchkes, no or yes? Aspire to have some beautiful stone statues, someday
5. Clay or sand? I have heavy clay soil, and am constantly adding organic matter
6. Shrub roses or hybrid teas? My husband is the rose maven, only shrubs for him
7. Hollyhocks: single or double? This year some beautiful white ones came up as volunteers
8. Foliage: gray or glaucous?
9. Hemerocallis: flava or fulva? Haven't a clue.
10. Impatiens: double or single? Hate them all.
11. Calendula or tagetes?
12. Arborvitae or juniper?
13. Spaded edge or "edging"?
14. Asters or mums?
15. Reflecting pool or coursing waterfall?
16. Morning glory blue or forget-me-not blue?
17. Lettuce: leaf or cos?
18. Hyacinth bean or red runner bean?
19. Orange or pink?
20. Garden bed shapes: formal or informal?
21. Garden bed planting schemes: informal or formal?
22. Hydrangeas: lace-cap or mophead?
23. Spirea japonica: dried flowerheads standing over the winter or in bloom?
24. Japanese beetle drowning medium: kerosene or dishsoap solution?
25. Garden stroll time: dusk or dawn?

I took this taste test as a result of an email I received from someone and for some reason today, I can't seem to create a link here. Oh well. I'm still learning. You can get to it in a roundabout way by clicking on Prairie Point link to the right.
Didn't yet get to see Michael Moore's film. I went to a gathering of former and current colleagues, including my old boss on Saturday, and was having such a terrific time that I didn't get home until too late to go out again to see the movie. I am sure it will be around for a bit in local cinemas.

Garden is beautiful--flowers, veggies, last night's heavy rain left some things flattened, but other things are very happy with the good soaking.

I talk alot about my AA meetings here, one of the reasons is--in case there is someone who might be concerned about their own drinking. To give a bit of a look as to how the meetings operate, and the hope I experience there.

Sometimes I get up at 5:00 am and leave the house by 6 so that I can drive to my favorite meeting, which is near where I work. I did that this morning, arriving a little late, but so happy to see the person who was speaking when I came into the gymnasium of the parish house, to a group of about 40 people.

The speaker means a lot to me. When I went to that meeting over two years ago, I felt like I was in a crisis with my marriage. I know that I was killing myself with my anger and resentment, and I needed help. When I sat down in my chair at that first meeting there, the quality of the sharing by the members touched me, and broke through my defenses and I started to cry. This man got up and brought over to me a box of kleenex. A small gesture, but it showed who he was.

This morning I heard him share his story, he spoke for about thirty minutes. Whenever I see him at meetings, I listen very carefully whenever he shares. Today, the tears came again, when he talked about his spiritual life. He said, "My spiritual dilemma today is that my God is not big enough."

I interpreted that my own way, of course, and to me it says, that when I become immersed in my own fears, I am limiting my conception of God. That I feel my powerlessness, but do not recognize the power of God to be taking care of me.

I have to tell you that two years plus after that first meeting, my relationship with my husband is on a much better keel. This man helped me so much with that, also. (And his is not the only one I listen to. There are many, many people who share their experience, strength and hope at meetings, and who offer to the room their solutions. I take what resonates with me, and I leave the rest.) At one meeting, he talked about his relationship with his wife (they have had together a bunch of children--one of whom was killed by a drunk driver, when this man was about ten years sober). He talked about "exalting your partner." When he said this, I had an epiphany. It rang out in the room like a clear bell. When had I ever exalted my partner? When had any aspect of my relationship not been about me, my feelings.

Two years and a few months later after coming to that first meeting, I can say I am a different person. I am practicing exalting my partner. I am letting him be who he is, and trusting that he knows what he needs to know to live his life, without my interference. And I love him more than ever.

Two years and a few months later, I am also feeling like a more competant person in the world. The reason being, that my higher power is bigger than it once was. It encompasses the counsel of other people, and my meditation group. It includes the beauty of nature, and something mysterious in me that is like a small child, wanting to connect with other human beings. I am more capable of love today, for others, and for myself.

The Course of Miracles says that "there is nothing to fear." I know that I am on my way to learning that. And by continuing to attend meetings, to show up for all those who are still suffering, and for my own suffering, I am becoming happier in my sobriety and in my life.

Friday, July 09, 2004

We are planning to go and see Michael Moore's film tomorrow evening.

I am going to visit my remaining editorial co-worker at his apartment tomorrow, and others who are coming are my old boss, who was "let go," in March, and my co-worker Kelley, who was "let go" in June. Also two people who left of their own accord, who also worked in editorial but have been out of the company for one year, in the case of Patty, and two years, in the case of Sheila. A reunion, of sorts. Then I will go down to my AA sponsor's house and dig up some lilies that are growing in a ditch, and measure some old doors she wants me to look at.

We were in need of a new back door. Our wooden door swells up in the summer heat, and we can't really close it, and I was getting concerned, especially as we went away last weekend and couldn't fully close the door. Somethings unsettling happened recently in the neighborhood, and our house isn't visible to our neighbors, especially the back door. So I was ready to go to Home Depot or Lowes and buy a new steel door, something that wouldn't expand and shrink with the seasons.

But my husband responded to my concerns and shaved the door enough so now we can close it and lock it. Now I just have to find the keys to the lock, and we are all set.

The garden is almost finished with the planting, I still have a few flats of summer lettuce and basil to plant, then I am done. DONE!!! Just the harvesting and mulching, and now to enjoy the summer. Creative time, for me.

Have a nice weekend, y'all.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

I am having a magnificent summer, and the pain of visiting my Dad and his wife is very present, but still, I am enjoying a new freedom and a new happiness.

The cicadas are gone, so too their magical sound. But life is still replete with magic, and I am now seeming to encounter people who are magic.

I met a woman this weekend, while visiting friends on a mountaintop. At first she was all covered, big floppy hat and wide dark glasses, and that annoyed me right away. But we sat and talked, and she told some stories, and I knew that this was a woman of great consciousness, whose husband died a year ago, and whose son was released from prison and who has been able to find a job working as a personal assistant for someone in the entertainment industry. She herself was a student of buddhism, and told me how she had been planted on the mountaintop four years ago, when she was carrying a large pot of hot soup, tripped, and hurt her back so much that she couldn't move for months. And to this day is often in pain from the fall. She practices yoga and meditation, and I loved meeting her.

Later we took the dogs to the lake, and my friends' dog, a golden retriever, mistook my dog for a duck, because Sable starts barking and biting the water when she goes in for a swim, and the other dog, twenty pounds heavier, tried to push Sable under a few times. For a minute I stood helpless, watching my spirited dog going under and under, and finally my husband jumped in the water and separated the dogs.

Across the lake there was a man and a little child sitting on a bench. They left the bench and walked around the lake to where we were, and this little girl, Jolene, was an angel from another world. I can only describe that earnestness of make-believe as she gathered herbs and weeds in a bowl, stirring it with a stick and offering us some soup she had made. I fell in love with her. And I fell in love with everyone--my friend, her husband, the neighbor's teenage daughter, the neighbor, everyone.

We walked through enchanted forests to another lake the next day, and let the dogs go in one at a time.

Thursday, July 01, 2004

Big yellow moon last night, and lots of japanese beetles in the garden. They are loving my baby quince tree, so I went with a can of soapy water and they easily fell in to their deaths.

I harvested last night for customers--baby zucchini, sweet peppers from the greenhouse, tat tsoi, marobi santoh, mizspoona, all of these curious japanese greens that I love to steam up in the bamboo steamer and eat with a pat of butter and some salt. Luckily I have a couple of customers who just want me to bring what I have, and they love the challenge of cooking what I bring. Otherwise, I would never be able to eat all I am growing, and would end up giving it all to the chickens. I give them plenty of greens, as it is, for when I get my orders ready for my customers, I have to pull off all the bug-eaten, outer leaves, and when I have a whole bunch of orders, I end up with a bucket of "de-shir-eed" greens.

Still in pain over family stuff, but matched with more serenity. It's not clogging up my mental capacities. I have done my work--working the steps of Alcoholics Anonymous to take an inventory on my character defects that are causing me pain, and telling them to my sponsor, thereby following her direction how to let go my obsessions. Or my defects. One of the big ones I uncovered, and that has been a theme all through my life is: "I am not enough." When the defects are uncovered in an inventory, the next step is to "become entirely ready to have God remove our defects of character." Awareness is how that happens for me, and then the next step, the seventh step is: "Humbly ask Him to remove our shortcomings."

And for me that means literally getting on my knees and asking for God's help with whatever I am feeling, if it is "I am not enough," asking to have that defect removed.

The funny thing is, when I have the awareness that that thought process is operating in my life, it is really easy then to stop it. Al-anon teaches me to put the focus on myself, and I have always interpreted that to mean: "do something good for myself," such as take a long, hot shower, go for a walk with the dog, and slow down and appreciate all I have, etc.

AA teaches that "pain is the touchstone of spiritual growth," and it is by letting the painful feelings emerge that I can get on my knees and ask my higher power, or God as I understand Him to show me what His will is for me and then I ask for the power to carry it out.

But I must talk about this stuff. I must. Living in my head alone, making my own decisions, without input from others, when I am just reacting to the pain in other people's lives, and their hurtful attacks on me, I will not make the right decision. I need to get fresh voices, for I am carrying the baggage of a life of feeling "not enough." And I need to check my motives, is my ego taking a trip here, do I need to be "right?"

The Course of Miracles says, "Would you rather be right, or happy?"

And people remind me that I don't know what is best for other people. I barely know what is best for myself. I know truly in my heart, that I need to stay sober, and to reach out to other alcoholics. I need to continue to break my isolation, tell my secrets, to people who have the serenity that I want.

And for today, I have a job, I have a garden, I have an ongoing, evolving relationship with my husband, my stepdaughter and her husband, my friends, my neighbors, my AA sponsor, my sister, some of my brothers, my dog, my higher power.

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