Momma Dun Raised Me Right

      My mother is a tightwad. Growing up it would occasionally drive me crazy.  Now, as an adult with my own financial goals and my own set of bills, that I have still been unable to find someone to cover for me, I have adopted some of those same behaviors.  Earlier this year, I started planning a trip to NYC for J and I and quickly abandoned it (not forever) because I wasn't mentally prepared to give away so much of our hard earned money.  At the same time that I made that decision I'm thinking things like, "You only live once!", "You can't be buried with your money.", and "Carpe Diem!!".  Nonetheless, my frugality got the best of me and I chose no at least for now.
      A a few weeks ago J returned from a trip to Florida with a friend and while there he decided that we need to get a kayak or canoe.  At first I see dollar signs.  I don't state any objection but rather ask if he has looked at any or knows the price range.  He begins his research and I begin to think.  Inevitably, J convinces himself we don't need a kayak and I react completely opposite to how I expect to act.  I take us to a couple of shops to just "look" at kayaks for fun knowing that if Justin really wanted one but was just refraining from getting one to save money that seeing them would bring him back around to purchasing one.  That day we picked our kayak and accessories and I went back two days later and purchased it.  The whole purchase cost us a sizable amount of money.  My response, both internal and external, was pure excitement and joy!  I kept looking for the stress of parting with that much money to creep in or the regret to poke its head around the corner but it never did.  This was truly remarkable for me.
      I thought about this reaction for several days trying to figure out what it was about the purchase that left me feeling stress- free and excited whereas spending that money on a vacation choked me with stress.  The kayak, I realized, is an avenue for many memory creating opportunities and quality time spent together in nature for Justin and I. Additionally, he can take it out alone, a perk of the kayak we chose, or he can take other friends out. Thus, creating other fun memories.  I think this is why it never once stressed me to drop all of that money.  The kayak will provide us with so much more than a one time vacation would and for many, many years.  The other neat thing about the kayak is that it's our thing.  Our friends aren't necessarily looking to purchase a kayak and come along with us.  This was a present to ourselves as a couple to enjoy together.  In fact, we purchased it as our present to each other for our second wedding anniversary which passed last week.  This actually started a new tradition for us.  For future anniversaries instead of purchasing presents for each other we are going to get something for "us" as a couple since that's what we are celebrating anyway!

Its nice to know that my ingrained frugality can take a break when it truly deserves to...another quality of my mother.  The USS Lily Pad embarked on its maiden voyage two weeks ago and will hopefully have many more fruitful trips over the years!


Everything Belongs

       About two or three weeks ago Justin and I paid a visit to his parents house out in the country of Carencro, off of a properly titled road named Wilderness Trail.  His mom, Peggy, is a big inspiration to me for my gardening and natural endeavors.  She has a large vegetable garden, an herb garden, about 3-4 other grouped gardens, around 10-15 bird houses, a rabbit named Petey Pie (my 4 year old niece may have played a hand in naming her), a bird named Polly, several fish, and probably close to 100 potted plants.  While we were there, Mrs. Peggy showed me a mockingbird nest under the patio on her shelving unit of plants (pictured to the right) just a few feet away from where we, adults and children, were hanging out and relaxing.  Within the nest lay four eggs colored teal with brown spots.  My initial response was excitement, but then waned into concern.  I don't know a lot about birds but I've always heard mockingbirds were pretty aggressive and here we all were standing around the nest just asking for the mom to show us who's boss!  I voiced my concern to Mrs. Peggy and she simply said, "Oh no girl, that bird knows me.  She's always coming around and she lets me get close to the nest even when she is around."
    This past weekend Justin and I visited again and I was wondering how the little eggs were fairing.  To my excitement (I don't use that term lightly here- I was REALLY excited), the babies had hatched!  I wanted to see the birds, but again a little fear crept up inside of me.  I had seen the momma mockingbird bringing nesting material and food back to the nest several times while we sat outside so I knew she was around and watching.  Again, Mrs. Peggy laughed my anxiety away and we checked out the hungry birds.  They were really living the luxurious life if you ask me.  These birds are nestled between tons of potted plants in the shade where most predators wouldn't be brave enough to venture to with the amount of human activity occurring.

     I was really surprised by my reaction to the birds nest being so close.  Growing up we are taught this idea of taming nature.  Nature belongs in the city park or on a camping trip but not under the covered patio two feet away from the playing children and toddlers, right?  With my undoubted love for nature- which I've always fostered to varying degrees growing up- I was even ready to tame the processes of Mother Nature to where I saw fit.  I hope that with time I can foster the integration of my cultural and daily life with the natural world around me.  Maybe one day I'll see a bird and be able to tell Mrs. Peggy, "Don't worry, she knows me!"


Rowdy Neighbors!

Does it mean I live in the country if these are some of my neighbors?

Mardi Gras Stir Fry

BEFORE: A few veggies from the garden.
Look at the size of that squash!!!

AFTER: Veggie stir fry...yummy!



Several years ago I left the church that I grew up in.  For me it was a long time coming and I found great relief in finally following my heart and instinct.  I have greatly missed one thing that church provides the space for and encourages: meditation.  Since meditation, for me, had always occurred in conjunction with a religion in a religious setting, I didn't know how to find and develop a space for contemplation after my beliefs changed.  Of course, I've read yoga and zen articles that tell you how to meditate or Buddhist thoughts on the topic but I was still unable to do it.

To a certain extent, my life is sort of a living meditation.  I work a job that I enjoy and perform well.  I come home and tend to the garden, cook, or read. I don't have the typical distraction of a TV (although the computer tends to take its place) or the hectic life style of a parent.  I intentionally try to keep my life simple and balanced.  Attempts are made to find life lessons in most things I do.  Yet, I still yearn for the sitting contemplation of my past but with a different focus then before.

One day a couple of weeks ago I decided to lug my flea- market blue chair to the very back corner of the property to position it right under a canopy of oak tree limbs.  At the time, I wanted to enjoy the lovely spring weather, watch the wildlife flutter around the property, and distance myself from the highway in front of our house.  I have continued to spend about thirty minutes in my chair each day.  I've begun to notice subtle changes in nature that take place daily and have started recognizing different plant and bird species- just in two weeks.  The biggest change that I've noticed, though, is in myself.  Reflecting on the external processes continuously leads me to reflection and contemplation on the internal of myself.   The quiet sitting and thinking has lead me to recognize disturbances within myself that I didn't know were there.  Its lead me to consider relationships in my life, past and present, and the positives and negatives those relationships provided.

Along the way, I've made a handful of true, soul-stirring friendships.   Some of these friends are still in my life actively, others passively.  The most striking piece for me though, is the grieving I've done for friendships that can no longer be what they once were.  People change, life changes, and that requires friendships to change sometimes.  Its a hard process to accept this simple truth when its someone that you felt so connected to at one point or another.   It wasn't until I found myself sinking into meditation on my little piece of earth, that I even realized one can grieve over friendships lost or changed.  It simply never occurred to me.  That's the beautiful thing about being still and listening.  Not to be confused, the feelings I experienced weren't regret or frustrations.  I simply allowed myself the space and time to realize and accept the passage of things that once were in my life in a distinct way and now are not in my life in the same way.

My longing for a spot and way to meditate has finally been met through a happy accident and a longing just to enjoy nature.  I should have recognized long ago that Mother Nature would be my passage way to contemplation again but I guess I'm not that bright!  For now this is my new found form of meditation.  Eventually, it will change because contemplation isn't a static experience.  It requires you to ebb and flow along with it and adapt to the changes it requires of you.  I'll deal with that issue when it arrives.


Mini Veggies

 I love watching the vegetables grow in the garden.  i find it both beautiful and intriguing!  Here's a few more pics from the garden that I took yesterday.

Oriental Eggplant blossom

Oriental Eggplant growing

Baby Jalapeno!

Lots of basil

Mini squash


Updated Photos of the Garden

I purchased this lavender plant a few weeks ago from the Hub City Farmer's Market.  It's grown a lot since I potted it and it smells wonderful!  In the background is my favorite little blue chair I got from an antique store/ flea market.
I just purchased this transplant last week from a guy people call "The Professor".  He grows and sells transplants and fresh veggies from home for a killer price! Most of the transplants are $1 and his veggies are cheaper then at the grocery store.  You can even pick a gallon of blackberries for only $10- that's only $2 a pint!  This particular bell pepper will actually be purple when fully grown!  The Professor had some already full grown peppers and they are beautiful!

This is a very small sampling of our blackberries!  I can probably pick 2-4 cups a day of berries right now, if I had time, and there are just as many red berries that will be ripening soon.  It's been great having the huge production this year.  I've made a few desserts with them and have been putting them in my salads for lunch frequently.  The best part is being able to "gift" freshly picked blackberries to friends and family.  I can even show them the little cuts I got on my hands from the thorns from picking their berries that morning. That's a labor of love!

Figs in waiting!  Our fig tree has loads of unripened figs just soaking up the sun and waiting for their time to shine!  We may put some kind of netting or a fake owl in the tree to deter birds from eating the sweet fruits.

A peak at the front beds of the house.  You can see Frank the Frog defending the garden, the varigated liriope, the nandina bushes, and the newest addition to the garden, caladiums! 

Front to back: Garlic chives, Roma tomato plant in wire hoop, jalapeno plant, a very dry rain barrel, wood pile.

The tomato plant is hard to see behind the freshly planted, sprawling chives but the plants are doing very well! 

Green beans! This is one of several plants producing beans.  I will be snapping those suckers off today and preparing a delightfully fresh dish with them!