Hello again . . .

A few months ago, the world changed and shifted.  New characters in my lifebook appeared and others tiptoed off.  Some “laid off” habits were laid off themselves, unable to keep up with full-time work, a feeding garden, four cats, friends and family.

And in return, Tiny Tim’s Garden now supports 24 corn plants, 19 tomato plants (Ida Gold, heirloom Brandywine, green zebra, organic cherry, silver fir, sauce tomatoes (from the annual seed swap) Polar), a squillion squash (mostly winter:  Red Kuri, Carnival, Organic acorn, blue Hubbard, Organic Spaghetti, but there are organic zucchini and yellow summer squash for grilling).

Peppers?  Yes, I grew starts of Corni de Toro (an Italian cooking pepper) an ancho and an early jalapeno, then augmented them with organic pepper starts from Windy Meadows Farm and Cascade Cuts:  Orange and mucho nacho and a serrano pepper.  But I let the Bee’s Friend and California poppies explode, so they suffered in shade and silence until about two weekends ago–Weekends are another story, perhaps even another post.  Now I hope for several peppers, not dozens, and an entry into my garden diary–start more, let them stay in the house or the garden, and get them pickled!.

Again, this year we are sporting feeding garden sculptures.  Our friend Dave, who lives with us, threw together two slender, elegantly tipsy bean teepees for the runners like Kentucky Blue Pole Beans or slender Emerile beans from Renee’s Garden Seeds.  At this date, they’re beginning to bulge pretty pink flowers, though their bush bean first cousins have flowered and offer crunchy sweetness to the Gardner, right off the bush.

Crunch sweetness makes me think of the new back garden, a raised bed next to the greenhouse and sitting smack dab against our neighbor James’ fence that Bruce build two years ago.  Dave devised a wall climbing fence, and the garden peas and golden snap peas cling, grow, and are trained back down to earth–one of those truly delightful jobs, like gingerly lifting errant tomato plants to their rightful higher place.  ‘Without my watching,” muses the Gardener, “they would not grow so well.”

Gardening makes me slow down and care more deeply.    I open cat food cans and wrestle with bags of dry food because it’s unthinkable to let our invited guests go hungry.  Same principle applies to gardening, I think, and generally it’s an insanely huge ROI–return on investment.

I’ll tell you more next post . . .love from me,  Tiny Tim, and all the creatures large and small who are part of this garden.

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Gratitude Journal Day Four

Supremely grateful for new job

Grateful I can reach out to the people of India about the rape through the Internet

So glad and grateful for Alan giving me the opportunity to be his Building Manager

Kate Atkinson and Jackson Brodie–lovely reading


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Today’s Gratitude: January 8, 2012: Mistakes I’ve made

I’m on Day Three of my gratitude challenge, and feeling “lighter” and more observant, possibly.  Last night, I did a gratitude alphabet, categorizing things I’m grateful for by their name.  It was a winsome activity, and once I got started, ideas just flew into my brain.  Aquariums!  The Beatles!  Sleep Number Beds! Germinating seeds!  Freezer Jam!

Other things I’m grateful for aren’t objects or people, they’re feelings and experiences.  Where would I be if people hadn’t shown me compassion or if I hadn’t been able to show compassion to others?  While owning and operating  four restaurants with my husband stretched my nerves, gave me grey hair and turning me into a screaming harridan, I am so proud of what we accomplished, the people we hired, the customer relationships we made.  Only last Saturday I went to the WWU bookstore to exchange a sweatshirt, and the cashier looked at me and said, “Benita?”  It was Mauriann B., who’d worked at a title company and had always been so nice to me.  She recognized my voice, and I remembered her last name and the years kind of fell away.  Her life has changed powerfully and happily, as mine has.

How would I know that if I hadn’t made mistakes?

You see, growing up and well into my adult life, I’ve always felt I was two people.  The first person had to be what I thought people expected me to be or what I thought would make them “like” me.  That person spent a lot of energy on all kinds of activities that left the second person exhausted and unhappy because the second person wasn’t “like” the first person at all.   For example, I love to read.  Give me a good book and I will lose myself for hours in a great story.  However, for the last twenty odd years, I have allowed myself to be too busy to read, and I consider that a mistake, because I love language and stories so much.  Every time I sit down and open a book, I don’t feel like I’m stealing time from something or someone – it’s ok to give that time to me.

However, now that I’m more  “integrated” I am reading a huge amount, and have begun writing, my own stories, too.  Here’s another example:  When we sold the four restaurants, I demanded that we start another business immediately and we did, partnering with someone we thought was a friend in an HVAC business.  At the end of six months and $39,000 later we were asked to leave our own business, and three years after that, we had to pay over $5,000 because our former partner had defaulted on a bill–and we hadn’t taken our name off the account.

Mistake????? Uh huh.  Learning and gratitude for many things related to this story?  Oh, yes.  Bitterness?  All gone.  It was just money, and since I pushed the situation into existence, I look at the person I was at the time and forgive myself.  I understand what prompted me to take the HVAC business on when instead I could have gone back to college, started writing sooner, all of that.  I’m definitely wiser, and definitely more forgiving.  Twelve years ago, we sold the stores, I was an exhausted porcupine.  Now, I’m as contented as one of my own cats.

Tiny Tim

I’m also grateful for being allowed the time to grow into this wisdom, as well as for (knock wood) abundant, stable good health.  Our personal life is also stable.  No drama, no arguments, not even nagging.  We’re mates, for sure, something I never observed in my parents, who divorced when I was six and kept arguing until my father’s death when I was 21.   This doesn’t happen at our home because we’re timid or bored, but because we have nothing to argue about now.  It’s a marriage, not a power struggle, and that feels so wonderful!

Again, my gratitude comes from recognizing mistakes I made in the past and reaping the benefits of choosing to do something different.  Sometimes it’s felt like I was holding my nose and jumping off an impossibly high diving board.  Sometimes it’s a sudden recognition that I’m living the change I choose.  Give me a mistake that I can learn from, and I will show you a happier Benita!


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