Wednesday, May 30, 2018

More of the university gardens.

In addition to the hummingbird statues, we enjoyed just walking around the gardens and then out along the river. We walked about 4 miles that day and have made a commitment to walking some every day possible. The garden entrance has some lotus ponds, which had a variety of white and pink blooms.
A robin posed for me on this iron sculpture of roses.
The gardens are divided into areas, including a kitchen garden with herbs, vegetables and fruits.
There are ponds scattered throughout, including some with brightly-colored koi and others with large turtles. Later, as we walked along the river, we passed dozens of snapping turtles, sunning themselves on logs in the water.
I believe this is Quan Yin, the boddhisatva of compassion who represents the divine feminine. Yet another thing in the gardens, along with the carved wood hummingbird, that I had to refrain from stealing.
A juvenile squirrel caused its mother some turmoil, racing away and having to be corralled again. When we approached, they both darted up the trunk of a tree and then froze, pretending to be invisible.
In the children's section was a fairy garden, with tiny houses tucked in amongst the rocks and plants.
Nearby was an enormous iron grasshopper.
The kids' area included an exhibit of insect-eating plants. Because what child isn't fascinated by plants that can eat bugs? Okay, fine, I'm fascinated by it, too.
 No idea about this sculpture but it had some vaguely Celtic carvings and also reminded me of something you might see in Central or South American ruins. Maybe an altar of some sort.
Crape myrtle trunks. I planted a few crapes at my house and look forward to when they develop this beautiful peeled look.
Another young squirrel foraged near us while we sat on a hanging bench swing. When it finally found a nut, it ran up to snack in the branches above.
Back out by the lotuses again. May we all stay rooted in the earth and flower in the light.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Good luck birds.

Surgery plan in place and a couple of weeks to wait, we decided to take part of our weekend to visit the new hummingbird exhibit, "Joyful Flight," at the university gardens.
Artists were provided with a wooden hummingbird form and could paint or decorate it as they wanted. Scattered around were signs with hummingbirds facts. For instance, a hummingbird's wings move 38-78 beats per second (more when diving).
This one looked a little melancholy in spite of its admonition to love life. Like me right now, I guess - I do love life, and I'm also sad.
I loved this ceramic-covered bird. It's hard to see but the pieces of ceramic that cover it are carved in patterns.
The sign for this one identifies it as a king, but when I saw it, I said, "Oh, I like the queen hummingbird!" I'm sticking with my interpretation.
This metallic-covered version includes spoons, chains and other odds and ends. The placement near an old truck and gas pump is perfect.
This bird was by a little pond. Weighing less than a penny, they are fast and can be aggressive. Indeed, I've watched tiny bold hummers duke it out over territory and mates and buzz my head when the feeder runs low. Hummingbirds will even use their long, sharp beaks like little shivs and stab each other in the throat when fighting. Now that's fierce!
At one with the trees around it on one side of this bird,
and decorated with delicate vines and birds on the other. Not all were decorated differently on either side and I appreciated the effort.
A modern bird, covered in CDs. As good a use for discarded discs as I've ever seen.
Another hummingbird fact - proportionally, they have the biggest brains of any bird. They can remember flowers they visited and often return to the same feeders each year.
This hummingbird speaks to the hippie in me, living life on its own terms. I especially liked the yarn fringe on his cap.
Cosmic hummer. A friend told me he'd be conversing with the Cosmos on my behalf so this is clearly his bird. In some traditions, hummingbirds are seen as healers, appearing to people in need.
Possibly my favorite, a hummer of carved and colored wood. I'd put this one in my garden if I could. Representing both fearlessness and lightness of being, these hummingbirds were a timely message for me. I will need all the courage and joy I can get for the months ahead.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

May 9, a story in two parts. Part 2: And then this happened.

No sooner had we started driving away from the graduation lunch, my cellphone rang. Anyone who knows me knows that, in true introvert style, I never answer my phone. I figure that's what voicemail is for. But this call I took, because I knew I needed to. It was the radiologist who'd performed the stereotactic needle biopsy the morning before, to say he was very sorry, they weren't expecting the results they got, but I have invasive breast cancer.
I won't lie, I was gobsmacked. I'd been told that the mammogram showed new calcifications that had a 20% chance of indicating the relatively safe and contained DCIS, and that small possibility I was prepared for. Not the invasive ductal carcinoma even the radiologist was surprised by. And yes, I admit I ran through the "how is this possible?" questions in my head. I'm thin, I eat a healthy diet, I avoid processed foods, I exercise, I don't drink heavily, I don't use drugs, I don't smoke. But you know what? If I've learned anything in my life, it's that fair's got nothing to do with it. Asking "why me?" is nonsensical. After all, why not me? My husband and sister and I came home and cried, and then wiped away our tears before my younger son and his fiancée stopped by to pick up his gift and have a celebratory drink with us. It was his day, and I wasn't going to spoil it.
On Mother's Day, my son and his partner invited us over for brunch and afterwards I told them what I knew so far. And then came home to call my older son and tell him. Those were hard conversations and it pains me to make my kids sad and scared. But they needed to know and also to be reassured that I plan to do everything I can to get well. So that's where it stands. I had an MRI Monday morning and have made myself a little crazy reading the path reports and learning how extensive it is. The oncology team will review my case tomorrow and then we meet with my surgeon next Tuesday to talk about what options I might have.
In the meantime, please send some good thoughts my way.
"Well, life has a funny way of sneaking up on you
When you think everything's okay and everything's going right.
And life has a funny way of helping you out when
You think everything's gone wrong and everything blows up
In your face." 

(Alanis Morrisette)

Sunday, May 13, 2018

May 9, a story in two parts. Part 1: Graduation.

Let's face it - graduations are a little dreadful. Long and boring, with an often mind-numbing speaker. This particular graduation had the added irritant of some rich guy getting an honorary (aka fake) doctorate, which I consider an insult to everyone who has worked their tails off to earn an advanced degree. But I still cry when someone I love is graduating. This time it was my younger son, wrapping up his four years at the University.
I teared up when they played Pomp and Circumstance and the graduates filed in, and again when they turned the tassels on their caps to show they'd graduated, and yet again when his name was called to cross the stage. Afterwards all of us who were there to watch his graduation drove to the restaurant he'd chosen for a late lunch and a round of margaritas - his fiancée, both sets of his parents, our older son and my sister.  I sat directly across from my ex-husband's wife and we chatted about the possums who've been visiting our yard and about graduation traditions, while next to me I could hear my husband talking with my ex about their shared love of old sports cars. I was hit by the loveliness of having the sort of pleasant blended family that allowed us to all celebrate this son's milestone together, without a hint of awkwardness. I was thankful that my sister had made the seven-hour drive for the occasion. And also thankful that my older son, who is on summer break after his first year of optometry school, put his research project on hold to make the equally long drive to be there.
After photos outside, we all parted ways. My sons and their father had to go retrieve my older son's truck which had gotten stuck in the mud the night before. My husband and I had done our bit the night before, when I received a 1 am phone call from the boys asking if we could come pick them up as they'd been unable to get a tow truck to agree to make a middle-of-the-night run to the wildlife management area where they were stranded. It was 2:30 in the morning before we crawled back into bed. In spite of the fact that both my sons are in their 20's, Mom is who they call for help. And I love that. As we pulled out of the restaurant parking lot, I thought about how I'd seen both kids through college and felt a wave of pride, gratitude, and relief.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Another month down.

I'm running a little behind....

But here we are, now four months in, and still a complete success:

   April         Year to Date      Category                              
      $0                       $0                   Clothing                                                   
      $0                       $0                   Shoes                             
      $0                       $0                   Accessories                                       
      $0                       $0                   Cosmetics         
      $0                       $0                   Kitchen items                 
      $0                       $0                   Gadgets/electronics 
      $0                       $0                   Furnishings
      $0                       $0                   Books 
      $0                       $0                   Shrubs/trees
      $0                       $0                   Non-necessary household goods 

As you can see, I originally only excluded shrubs and trees because I had three pots out front that needed flowers and I usually fill them with annuals. And I wanted to put in an herb garden. The herbs count as food, so that's easy. I use them regularly in cooking and growing my own is cheaper than buying them fresh through the long warm season. So I did that this weekend - put in basil, parsley and dill in the raised bed, and rosemary and oregano in pots on the deck. But I scouted around my yard and found some thriving perennials to divide and transplanted them into the pots. It was a major victory for me to enter a garden center - my personal kryptonite - and walk right by all the colorful flowers for sale without buying anything but the herbs.
I've been watching a few videos on minimalism and found one interesting idea about shopping. In addition to the usual questions about "Do I have a place for this?", "How long will this last?," "How does this purchase align with my goals?" and so on, the guy suggested asking "How will this new thing serve me in a way that nothing I already have does?" Well. That changes everything. Interestingly, I had been thinking that maybe after the year was up, we might start buying, one plate or bowl at a time, interesting pottery to replace our dishes. But when I ask myself that question, the answer is clearly, "It won't." I may have a place for new dishes, a new pottery dish may last, it may even align with my goal of having fewer but lovely household items, but it definitely does not serve me in a way the perfectly fine dishes I already own do not. And when I think about it that way, it also doesn't align with my goals of allocating money toward larger goals like travel and retirement.

I tell you, this whole no-shopping challenge is making me think deeply about spending and goals and values in a way that all the decluttering I've done over the years has not. And I'm only a third of the way in!