The act of life


 “Why do we make gardens? The act seems so extravagant, so illogical. Don’t we have enough hard work in our lives already? Are we looking for more?

Why on earth do we bother?

It takes a kind of courage. You have to learn to cherish. You have to dare, to take the risk, to bother, to care.

To make a garden, you have to be able to love and to see yourself as capable of nurturing.

It takes patience, too. If the garden is to thrive you must commit yourself to it for years, for the creation of a garden takes place over time. Like a child, a garden has needs that have to be met, whether we feel like it or not, day after day.
You have to have confidence. You have to take charge and be responsible. You have to act upon the garden.

And you have to let it act upon you. Because it will act upon you. And will knit you together with the rest of the world. It will not let you stand apart.
The challenge is hard, but it is irresistible. To get dirty, to get involved. To act and be acted upon. That is life. If we stop accepting that challenge, we stop living.”

~Simone Martel, Expectant Gardener ~

Life is never simple and situations are not always yes or no. It is always more complex and layered. Many times, there is a maybe or it depends to consider. Even once all the facts are laid out, it is still rarely a black or white answer or solution. Think of nearly any situation and topic in life, and you will find shades of gray.

Whether the issue is politics, health or gardening, you will find a variety of opinions and view points. With each person believing their view point is in the right, I am amazed that we can make progress. At times, we spend so much time fighting and arguing, that I think we waste time. We are so focused on being right or pointing fingers, that we miss the opportunities to really address the problems. It’s like we can only see black or white, and ignore the all shades of gray.

As I was deciding what to write to accompany my garden photos, I found the above Simone Martel quote on gardening. Her last few lines about life and gardening caught my attention.

“…And you have to let it act upon you. Because it will act upon you. And will knit you together with the rest of the world. It will not let you stand apart. The challenge is hard, but it is irresistible. To get dirty, to get involved. To act and be acted upon. That is life. If we stop accepting that challenge, we stop living.”

It made me think about all the craziness in the world today. It made me think about my own garden. It made me realize, life includes many shades of gray.

Let me explain.

Whenever there is a problem, whatever it may be, it is like a weed in the garden. We have to pluck it out. We have to destroy it. We have to abolish it. We do that and think, problem solved. Then, the weed comes back. And sometimes, with even more force in numbers.

We get frustrated. We want to burn the whole dang garden down and rip out all the plants. We want to start from scratch all over or just give up. This is the world acting upon us. It is life. Sometimes it is good. Other times it is bad, really bad.

Regardless, we cannot stop though. For when we do, like Martel said, we stop living. Life will never be perfect. (I dream and wish it could be though.) No matter what, there will always be weeds. There will always be that one jerk (ore more). There will always be something going wrong.

That doesn’t me we quit gardening/living, and hide from the world’s problems. Our job as humans, is to figure out how to react. How can we make the situation better? How can we help? How do we solve the problems, at least in our part of the world. Those answers are never easy though. And like I said earlier, they are rarely black or white. It is in those shades of gray where we find answers though. It is in those shades of gray where we find compromise.

When we get down on the ground with our trowels, we may discover why and where the weeds come from. If we pluck out the weed and not the root or the conditions causing the weeds to grow, the weeds will come back. Over and over, we will fight the same weeds. Only when we work on the conditions, will we stop the problems.

And like a garden, only when we give it attention, time, love and nutrients, will our gardens grow.

The problem is…not all of know how to garden (or want to learn), especially when it includes shades of gray.

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For Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge ~ Black & White

 

 

 

Facts and memories ~ what you recall


Photography is a way of feeling, of touching, of loving.

What you have caught on film is captured forever…

it remembers little things, long after you have forgotten everything.

~ Aaron  Siskind ~

Our memories can be selective and based upon our perspective. Some details are easily forgotten while others cling to our minds. We relive feelings, both good and bad, as we recall a moment. And if we close our eyes – we can almost taste or see a particularly memorable event when thinking of it. Unfortunately, all those perceptions may not be the same as someone else.

This difference doesn’t necessarily mean one person is lying though. It just means they saw it a different way or at a another perspective.

I have said on many occasions, that if you have two people and one situation, you will have three stories. Each person will have their perspective of course, and somewhere in the middle generally lies the simple, unfiltered facts.

It makes sense when you think about it, and often, I think this difference is best described by comparing it to photography.

Take a look at the three iPhone macro photography shots of some peppers from my garden. Each picture is different. Yet, they are the same peppers. And I would bet, that if you gave these peppers to another photographer, they would capture yet another view. In fact, there are probably countless ways to photograph the same thing.

This factor makes life incredibly fun, and yet frustrating. From cooking to politics, people can find vast variety when looking at the same things. Some may find one idea/picture/song/etc motivating and uplifting while another finds the same boring and offensive. And then, there are probably even more views somewhere in the middle. Essentially, no one sees things the same way. As unique human beings, this should be expected though. We all think, feel, and love differently. Therefore, our perspectives will almost always vary.

The magic with photography (and several other mediums of art) is that our perspective is captured. Through our pictures, we freeze time. We paint a view of our feelings. We create a sense of texture.  We open a window to those who were not there. We invite a peek into our minds. That moment is now fact, forever, and we created it. It is no longer our perception alone, but the perception of all those who ssw our work. To me, that is empowering.

I can replace bland with beauty and boring with wonder. I can invite people to places that they would have likely ignored. I can spread magic into hearts that have grown tired. Overall, I can (hopefully) reveal just how amazing life and the world can still be, and make someone regain a little hope and motivation to continue. Because, maybe from their perspective, it just hasn’t looked that good.

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 For Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge ~ Macro.

September is suicide prevention month in the Army, and I guess this was on my mind. Yet, I didn’t realize it until the last couple of paragraphs.

But that is the way my Thursday phoneography posts it seems. I pick a picture and just write and see where it takes me.

I hope this post finds whoever it is supposed to. May you find some comfort and know, you are not alone.

 

The Garden Project Update


In May, I shared the creation my garden project. Now, all the garden boxes are in place. The vegetables have been planted. Some flowers have been added for decor around the yard and the watering has begun. So, I thought it was time to show you some of the progress. Below is a slide show that give you a view of the progression over the past month.

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As you can see, we have growth happening! We have also had to start fighting the beetles from eating our progress. They seem particularly drawn to the gerber daisy leaves and the hibiscus plants. Therefore, I have started a war with them. So far it is a tie.

I have to admit that I really like watching nature bloom in my back yard. The first seeds that were planted were zucchini seeds. They were in the first prototype garden box we built. So they have a good two weeks (or more) of growth on all them over the other seedlings. They also got a box full of Miracle Grow soil. These two factors have seemed to help them greatly. As you can see below, the zucchini pants (four) are massive. In the firs shot the little seedlings is not even over the wood trim of the container garden. In the next shot, they are huge. If you look at the garden box to the left, you can see that the zucchini are taller than the 42″ wire tomato plant guides. I think I need to start researching different zucchini recipes.

The other garden boxes did not get full Miracle Grow soil though. After doing some math, I wound up getting some top soil delivered. It was just too expensive to fill six garden boxes with 12 $12-bags. So the remaining bags got a mix of top soil, Miracle Grow soil, and regular Miracle Grow-treated waterings. Fingers crossed, the garden will continue to blossom well.

This whole project has been a lot of work. Thanks to my dad and boyfriend, the three of us have shaped our little corner of the earth. Through pouring sweat, aching backs, disappearing money, countless bug bites, and even a little blood, we have become part of nature’s glory.

On days off, I really enjoy walking around the yard to check out Mother Nature’s progress. (With shout outs to my dad too who is the full-time grounds keeper. I really couldn’t keep this all alive without him!) It’s amazing to watch a little seed bloom into such grandeur, and to know we helped it. The therapeutic value of the garden is powerful too. This is not a new thought though. Gardens have been known to have that power and have written about often. Below are a few garden/gardening quotes that you may find interesting.

The best place to seek God is in a garden. You can dig for him there.”

~George Bernard Shaw, The Adventures of the Black Girl in Her Search for God, 1932~

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Gardening is cheaper than therapy and you get tomatoes.”

~Author Unknown~

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Gardens are a form of autobiography.”

~Sydney Eddison, Horticulture magazine, August/September 1993~

I would have to agree with those quotes. They are very on point for my life.

Another thing I have enjoyed about the garden has been the access to numerous photo opportunities. Below are a few of my favorite iPhone shots and my actual submission pieces to Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge ~ Nature.

If you want to see more shots of the garden that I took with my actual cameras, just click over to my photography blog post.

And if you come back next Thursday for Sally’s Macro Challenge week, I will show you my little garden lizards. I did a full photo shoot with them as they were quite adorable and tolerant of my presence. I took so many shots that it looks like a full blown modeling session. 🙂

I also need to show you how we turned a Dish Network pole and dish into a a bird bath! But that is another post. I have rambled enough for now.

Enjoy your day you lovely readers of blogs! And don’t forget to hop over to Sally’s page, Lens and Pens by Sally. Check out her challenge and join in on the fun.

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For Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge ~ Nature.

 

 

The Garden Project


I adore gardens. At my last house, a rental, I tried to make a few flower beds. I spent days digging and pulling up weeds. Then after spending some good money, I planted and pruned and weeded. They looked really good and I was excited. However, it didn’t last.

After a month or so, it was a complete waste. The deer and armadillos were so plentiful there, they ate everything. I mean EVERYTHING! I may as well have strapped dollars to the tree for the animals to eat. Therefore, I never planted anything at that house again that was not in a pot on the back porch.

Now that I have purchased my own home, I want to try a garden again. This time though, I am starting in the fenced in backyard and with vegetables. I can’t say that I have actually seen any deer in our neighborhood, but I am sure they are there. It is a wooded area after all. However…I just hope that between the fence and the dog and my prayers, my garden project will not be futile.

Anyway, I thought I would do something with the sloped part of my yard above my retaining wall that is really not good for anything but annoying, slanted mowing. So I bought some 4’x4′ garden boxes to fill the area. I thought the boxes would give the garden some kind of order (my military side demand’s this) and design (my girly side needs this).

Of course, none of my projects are ever easy. I couldn’t just pick a flat area, throw a box together and then fill it with dirt, and then say, bam-we have a garden. No. That’s boring. I chose to do six boxes on the sloped rectangular hill, which has required us to dig the boxes into the hill on one side and then build them up on the other.

For the build up, I decided to use some of the abandoned bricks that the former owner left piled behind the shed. (See, now I am recycling too!)

The hardest part has been making all the boxes flow together. We had to make sure each box is level of course, but at the same time, they have had to be at same height as the other boxes and the same distance from the retaining wall. The measuring and leveling of wood, dirt and clay has been exhausting.

It has now been weeks since this project started. Between two jobs, workouts, visits to my horse, special events and the basic demands of life, the project has been limited to a few scant hours here and there.

I have had help though. My dad and boyfriend have labored away with me and helped me when the unlevel bricks have taunted me to the point of madness. Clearly, I do not have future in professional landscaping.

Anyway, we are down to one box to level. The remaining five are in place, have gravel for drainage, and are ready for soil and plants. (Well, I do have one filled box that was our prototype.) This weekend I am getting some soil delivered and the boxes will be filled. Then we can start planting and watch it grow!

z bud

Our first little test plant (zucchini) appeared in our prototype box already!

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For Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge ~ Nature.