Saturday, May 31, 2014

It’s all about the details...

Every man's life ends the same way. It is only the details of how he lived and how he died that distinguish one man from another. ~ Ernest Hemingway

I have been working from home this beautiful Saturday morning and it’s time for me to get dressed and head out into the world for errands and whatnot. I just put on one of my custom made necklaces by the amazingly talented Kay Adams and smiled at the peppermint candy beads that she added to this bat necklace… Why? Because she knows that I love Christmas, she simply gets me, and she knows that it is all about the details. I’m sure Hemingway wasn’t talking about shoes or jewelry but he understood that details are everything in how we live our lives.   Cultivating our own personal details is extremely important. They are little reminders of our identity. 

Here are some other custom pieces she's made for me.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Gardening 101

“Gardening” can be intimidating. Regardless of where you are in the process, there is always room for improvement. The great thing about gardening is that you can make mistakes, learn from those mistakes, and still enjoy the process. It’s probably a fine time to emphasize that this is true of cultivating our own lives as well as cultivating plants and flowers. This might begin to read a bit cheesy but if you’ve ever been lost, you know what I mean.

We have to keep tilling, seeding, fertilizing, mulching, weeding and pruning. Unless you have an exotic rose bush, this might seem easy to do as an experienced gardener of which I am not. I learned, as many gardeners do, through trial and error. Believe me; I have made my share of mistakes. Here are a few tips that I have found to be helpful.

  1. Take care of your investment—YOU! If you’re not in a good place, get out. And for goodness sake, find a good therapist. I can’t emphasize this enough. Don’t underestimate talk therapy. Rediscovering yourself takes time and a good therapist will only encourage you to be the best version of you.
  2. Just as plants need space to grow, so do you. Space can be physical (an apartment, a house, a room! Virginia Woolf wrote an entire essay on this. Sandra Cisneros wrote a beautiful poem “A House Of My Own”) or it can be symbolic space (a journal, a block of time to go for a walk, a therapist’s office!).  As my life changed, I left a house and land to move into a small apartment. This is where I started gardening in pots. I knew nothing about gardening so the first plant I picked, I picked from what I affectionately call “the death and dying” section also known as the discount plants section. The plant I picked up was colorful but creepy. I learned it was a bromeliad, a tropical plant which I wasn’t actually aware of at the time. It turns out that bromeliads are “undemanding and easy to grow” a quick Google search tells me. I don’t recall searching for any care instructions at the time. I decided to wing it (the opposite of how I typically approach my life). I loved the bloom. What I didn’t realize is that bromeliadsbloom a single time… then they die. Great. Sigh. But wait! I did a bit of research and knew to look forward to “pups”, growing buds at the base of the leaves. These pups are ready to be separated when they are about half the size of the mother plant and should be removed by cutting with a sharp knife or clippers as close to the mother plant as possible. I had no idea that I would be performing surgery. Nevertheless, I ended up with three pups after the mother passed away. I would be lying if I wrote that this didn’t break my heart but with the pups came new flowers and new pups; and, all Goths know that Death is part of Life.
  3. Not all plants require the same amount of fertilizer or water. I learned that I’m a “slow processor” so when I am hurt or upset, it takes me quite a while to understand why.
  4. Pay attention to your climate. The USDA Hardiness Zone Map divides North America into 11 separate zones with each zone being 10°F warmer (or colder) than the adjacent zone. I require a great deal of indirect sunlight. I lived in Massachusetts for a while and could not hack it. It was overcast and dreary. My little Goth heart needs sunlight… just not direct sunlight. I always use a parasol when I go for walks which I enjoy doing in town to look at the various Victorian style homes and in my favorite garden cemetery, Hollywood Cemetery.
  5. As I mentioned before, know that sometimes it is trial and error. I think I’ll pick up on that another day.  

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

...a dark and stormy set of umbrellas...


It was a dark and stormy night (literally!) I was an unintentional storm chaser on the way home… it’s a fine time to fall down an umbrella/ parasol rabbit hole.  Here are a few:

Lulu Guinness
Luckily, I snapped a picture of the first lily bloom of the season last night when I arrived home.
Wine-color Lily purchased in 2009

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

...a garden and a library...

"If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need." ~ Cicero
My own secret garden
About this time five years ago, my journey completely changed. Even though I knew it was going to be for the better, Buffy's "Where do we go from here" played in my head over and over and over. I was scared because yet again I would have to reinvent my life and dig deep to rediscover myself. I use the *re's* because I had done this before and I swore I wouldn't do it again, but here I was living an inauthentic life.

Amy Tan writes, "I did not lose myself all at once.  I rubbed out my face over the years washing away my pain, the same way carvings on stone are worn down with water".

At some point it was easier just to go with the flow which was counter to my counterculture. I first noticed the surfacing of my inner child (former 15 year old goth girl me) in a piece of furniture. I bought a mirrored dresser, a little too old Hollywood glam with a wink of French baroque. I don't quite remember what was next but soon came changes to my hair. I dyed it black, something I had wanted to do since youth but had been cautiously warned not to do. I had gone through the rainbow but once I dyed my hair black, I never again changed the color (with the exception of a few purple highlights last year). And even after the changes started, they continued into independence and owning my own house which some have affectionately termed a Haunted Museum with knickknacks displayed everywhere. My Haunted Museum includes an extensive library and my very own place for gardening.

The books were a given; I'm an English professor. I started revisiting my old favorites and incorporating them into my syllabi. Dracula, stories from Anne Rice, other gothic horror. I rediscovered old friends with the help of my inner-child screaming at me to be the best ME possible. Gardening began in my apartment. My place before my house. I started with small pots of succulents which grew (literally) into me growing a Japanese maple in a large pot. By the time I moved in my house, my thumb was green and my heart had returned to black (in a fun gothy-goth Yay I'm Finding Me Again kind of way).

Being goth in my youth had never been depressing. I was a pretty happy goth even when death was all around. But that's a story for another day. I still find the macabre enjoyable and a bit funny. I think goths are supposed to mock themselves a bit. This blog is about growing, not just plants but becoming the girl I was always meant to be- my authentic self.