Endless time

How is everyone doing? I am on day 30 of being safe at home. That is a lot of days and it doesn’t look like it will be changing anytime soon. Summer festivals are dropping like dominos. My favourite ones are done so there’s that. But I am looking forward to summer anyways. With endless time on my hands, I’ve planned a couple of vegetable garden beds using insanely large plastic storage containers, I have a couple of six foot and four foot bins. The plan is to grow root vegetables, so we will see how that goes. At the side of my house I grow sweet peas, I think I will grow green peas and beans instead. I just hope the snowing will stop because I long to sit on my deck and enjoy flowers.

As it warms up I think my baking will slow down. Hot houses and hot stoves are not a good match. Meanwhile, I have been a machine with little projects. I have made green onion cakes, pasta, pizza dough, cookies and cinnamon buns. I am loving it! It has opened up new friend chats as we talk about proving dough and weighing flour. It is weird what I find fun now.

Speaking of fun… Beverly Clearly turned 104 on the weekend. I read a lot of her books when I was in elementary and jr. high. In grade six I read The Luckiest Girl of hers and passed it around the class for others to read. I must have read it a dozen times before I went to high school. I have thought about the characters in the story a lot over the years, so I decided to borrow it from the local library (online because the EPL is currently closed). Can I just say, I was still enthralled with this story and surprised at how well it stood up. The story takes place in the 1950’s but aside from clothing, telephones and hanging laundry, the rest felt pretty current, or at least current enough. The big takeaway is the character development and archs. I think Clearly was an under-appreciated author and was lumped into the children’s category as if that was a slight on her work. It has made me seek out other books I read way back then and see how they hold up.

I am quite impressed with 11 year old me. 11 year old me had an argument with the Mrs. Erickson, the librarian, about how I should diversify my reading repertoire and read new authors and finish what I start. I said why do I have to finish books I don’t like? I still won’t finish a bad or boring book. With the millions of great books out there, why spend time on something that won’t hold my interest? I am looking for more books from my youth like Mom, the Wolfman and me by Norma Klein and Lizard Music by Daniel Pinkwater to see if they can still capture my attention.

I overheard my son chatting with his girlfriend about how his parents (me and hubs) read to him and his sister every night. AND BIG BOOKS TOO! (Big books?) He mentioned some of the ones that stood out, like Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain, The Trumpet of the Swan by E.B.White, The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, Holes by Louis Sachar and the Harry Potter Series by J.K Rowling. We read to them long after they could read to themselves for a couple of reasons. Obviously emotional connection was the number one reason, but critical thinking had to be number two. We would discuss books at dinner and talk about why characters made certain choices or why the author did. When my kids were reading on their own, I would also read the same story so I could talk to them about what they were reading and thinking. These were some of the greatest conversations. It’s why I want to join book clubs and why I am always disappointed in the book clubs I join. People tend to want to go to book clubs for socialization. I want intellectual conversation. I don’t tend to last long especially when people don’t even read the book before the meeting.

So far I have read 11 books for the year. (It’s funny how the number 11 still shows up daily for me). My goal is 40 by December. I will likely reach that goal. But I am looking for a book that hooks me as soon as I read the first page. Any suggestions? I don’t want to have to slog through 100+ pages before I get into it. So don’t suggest those books. I like family generational epics like the Rice Mother by Rani Manicka or Commonwealth by Ann Patchett. I like a good memoir too like Educated by Tara Westover or Spoiler Alert the Hero Dies by Michael Ausiello. Bonus points if it is available in the EPL (Edmonton Public Library) data base. I am in a bit of a fragile state so sad or scary really need to be left on the shelf.

Let me know what you are reading and stay healthy friends!

Lyndon

There is nothing I enjoy more than learning something new. Except maybe experiencing something new. Actually, they could be considered the same thing. I registered for a class that started in October and runs every month. I, of course, attend the second last class because I didn’t know about the others. I caught up by reading the synopsis and do the readings. I felt ready to attend. The class is about connecting with nature.

I feel I am already pretty connected. I love watching wildlife, I understand how to find it. I live in an area that has coyotes living a couple blocks from me. I watch bald eagles circle overhead. I often see moose and deer on my way to work. Geese are everywhere in my neighbourhood and I can identify different songbirds.

Fauna taken care of.

Flora has always been a passion of mine. If there was a situation where I needed to forage, I wouldn’t get scurvy plus, food would be fairly tasty. I enjoy gardening. I love the feel of the dirt between my fingers and the smell of crushed leaves on my hands. Eating what you harvest is particularly satisfying. Give me a chair in the middle of the woods or garden and I am happy.

This class’ intent is to create a more abundant garden by connecting with nature. It leans on the ‘woo woo’ side of spirituality but I also connect with that. I am embracing the fact that I am an empath who is very intuitive. So – now you know.

This class talked about connecting with your garden. Apparently, when you speak to your plants they will perform better and you will receive an abundant garden. I have read studies on the power of music etc. Talking to people does marvellous things, so why not plants? It requested that I photograph my tree every day. Talk to it and touch it. I was to journal my experience. There were zero expectations about what I might experience and zero expectations to complete this. All I was told was “give it a try”. Cool, I am open to trying new things.

I did this for one week. Monday through Sunday. I forgot Friday. I was home from work sick. I made a habit of stopping by my tree every day after work. Decompressing before I entered the house. So technically,  I did it for 6 days. I promised my Edmonton Tourist peeps on Instagram and Facebook that I would report back. I received feedback that confirmed I am not alone in talking to my plants. But honestly – this is the first time I had ever done it. I promised to share my experience.

Day One: I have to admit I felt a little kooky for standing in front of my giant tree in the front yard. Its the only tree I have where I wouldn’t have to trudge through snow to get to. I can stand next to it without being knee deep in the frozen stuff.

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The sun was setting and the light was pretty. It was cold but, so what? I approached it and said ‘Hello Tree.” I thanked it for providing shelter from the wind and sun. I took my glove off and touched a limb I could reach. The bark was smooth but more importantly, I felt something. It was warm tingles flowing through me. The energy I feel when I am happy or on the right track. I thanked it again and was surprised I felt pretty darn good.

Day Two: I had completely forgotten about this project until I drove into my driveway. OH YEAH! I stepped out of my car and walked towards my tree. “Hello, Tree! How was your day?” I didn’t hear anything but I removed my glove and reached for the limb again. The energy moved rapidly into my arm and quickly enveloped me. Something told me to ask its name. Obviously, I didn’t get a name but I did get an image in my mind’s eye of fluttering. Almost like butterfly wings. I didn’t know what that meant or if it was anything at all but I wrote it down. I thanked the tree and went inside.

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Day Three:  Day three was an emotionally hard day. I had some personal stuff I was thinking about and focusing on work hasn’t all that fun. I felt pushed into a situation at work that annoyed me so I needed to deal with that the next day. Basically, coworkers frustrated me a bit. I pulled into my driveway and boom, I got excited because MY TREE! This time I didn’t even need to touch it before I felt the energy radiating from it. I thanked it for sharing the energy and touched its limb. I spoke to it telepathically and asked it its name. This time I heard (not with my ears but that gut feeling) “You name it.” Fine, I shall call you Lyndon, partly because you are a Linden tree and partly because Y is a thing for me. I have a Y in my name, I put one in my daughter’s name, it’s a special thing for me. The tree did not react to Lyndon, but why should it? It doesn’t need a name. After I named Lyndon, I turned to look at the bushes in my yard. I felt like I was neglecting them. So I walked up the garden path and gently touched them and thanked them for their time in my garden.  Honestly – I know this sounds kooky but here I am doing my homework. From my experience posting the first photo on Instagram, I have learned the great gardeners out there all have relationships with their plants so I am not that strange.

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Day Four: This was a bad day. I had a medical procedure done and I felt terrible. I was an emotional disaster and was happy to be home. I stood in front of my tree and cried a little. I didn’t say hello or thank you, I just accepted the energy from Lyndon. It flooded over me and I honestly felt better. I touched the limb and thanked Lyndon for being there for me. I stood there with my hand on the limb for a good ten minutes. I meditate daily and this felt the same way. It just felt good to be connected to my tree in silence.

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Day Five: I didn’t leave the house. I was a mess from the previous day. Hindsight tells me I should have gone to say hello to Lyndon. But I didn’t.

Day Six: Not a work day but I was going out to run some errands with the hubs. I knew I would be home late and I didn’t want to forget about my gratitude session with my tree. SO, I stood before it while the car was being backed out of the garage. I apologized for not visiting the day before. I thanked it for being understanding and always there. I held the limb for a while and the energy flowed through me again. I have to say I am quite surprised that I feel this good after I take a moment in gratitude, I don’t think its about the tree but more about being thankful for the tree. I thought about Lyndon on the way to our destination. I also thought about the importance of connecting more with my garden. If nothing else, its good for my mind. I feel refreshed afterwards.

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Day Seven: I had no plans to go anywhere. So I put shoes on and went outside to greet my tree. “Good Morning Lydon!” Then we held hands. “Thank you for being there for me.” We stood in silence for a while and I thought about how I take this beauty for granted. Actually how I take all my garden for granted. I apologized to everyone and thanked them for their presence in my garden because even covered in snow, they bring energy and interest into my space. I love the way they feel. So Thank you garden.

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I journaled every day for a week and am supposed to do this for a month, until the next class. At the time we were assigned this project, I suspected it was about gratitude. I wasn’t wrong, or at least I don’t think I am wrong. I am just supposed to report back. Do I feel different in a week? Absolutely. I feel connected to Lyndon and am grateful for the energy it shares with me. I look at my garden differently and its only been a week.

That Barenaked Ladies song has been running through my head the past few days, “Its been one week since you looked at me  Cocked your head to the side
and said I’m angry
Five days since you laughed at me saying
Get that together come back and see me
Three days since the living room,
I realized it’s all my fault, but couldn’t tell you
Yesterday you’d forgiven me
But it’ll still be two days till I say I’m sorry”

Don’t leave it, be grateful. I learned a lot about living things being there for you. Its okay to lean on them, ask for energy/love and say sorry when you need to. I don’t think it matters if it Flora, Fauna or Homosapians. Ask for what you need, give when you can.

It’s only been a week. A lot of learning happened.

 

18 for 18: Adult Night at the Muttart

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There is this new trend, or maybe it is just new to me, Adult Night. There was a time where I was looking for family things to do. Now that my kids are adults themselves, I find the less I am around children, the better it is for me to focus on different things. I get very distracted by children, especially clever and hilarious ones. So an evening without them in the room allows me to see beyond and allow the silence in my head to relax me.

I was looking for a new class or something I hadn’t done before and I came across a meditation class at Edmonton’s Muttart Conservatory. I meditate as a daily practice and today marks my 440th consecutive day. I thought experiencing a different way to practice might be interesting. I like learning from other’s perspectives. This class was held on a scheduled Adult Night. Every Wednesday from 5-9 pm the Muttart Conservatory closes its doors to children. I added this to my 18 for 18 list early on, knowing I wanted to experience this. I am glad I made the list, I was tired and didn’t feel like going out but I made myself accountable to the list. So here I am.

I arrived at 5 and had decided to purchase an annual pass. I hadn’t been here since I was a child but had fond memories of going with my family at Christmas to see the Feature Pavilion. It changes with the seasons. An Adult pass is $45.00. Visit 4 times and its paid for. I anticipate visiting on Adult nights and want to go to the concert series this summer. So having an annual pass makes sense for me and ensures I return. I like to get value for my money.

I had time to visit a pavilion before the meditation class began. I decided to go clockwise and began with the Arid Pavillion.IMG_9038

I attended Catholic School as a kid and remember this pavilion from a field trip. The Crown of Thorns plant made quite an impression on me. But I couldn’t find it this visit. I was too busy watching my time so I didn’t miss the start of the meditation session.

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I arrived at 5:30 for the session to begin. The website information was different than the information the instructor gave. I was led to believe this was a 30 min session with 4 sessions that evening so people could come and go. It was one long session where people joined us. I wasn’t prepared for two hours of mindful meditation. Mostly because it involves the instructor talking. When I meditate, I want to sit in silence. However, she also led us on a meditation walk in the Temperate Pavillion. The sites and sounds were like an Edmonton Spring. We have had some extreme cold here this winter so this was a welcome visit.

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The method for the meditation walk was extremely slow. Slower than walking a Bride down the aisle, slower than walking in a crowd. It is akin to walking with a toddler who is just learning. Tiny even deliberate steps. I have severe arthritis in my knees and found this to be an effort to walk this slow, but it was calming and peaceful. It kept me mindful of my steps and breathing, which is the purpose of mindfulness. I can see me revisiting this method especially after a particularly stressful or busy day at work.

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We returned back to the classroom for what I call Savasana or corpse pose. I continued to sit in my chair because of my mobility issues but it was more my speed. The instructor read a short essay from a Buddhist monk that I found to be calming.

At 6:30 we were given a 30-minute break. Who needs a break from resting? I thought that was odd. But I decided to leave and not return for more mindfulness. I had already meditated for 2 hours that day. Time to experience life rather than contemplate it.

I went to Culina the restaurant in the Conservatory that receives rave reviews from Avenue. I think pretentious vegetarian food needs to be called out. The food was fine but I was disappointed. I ordered Shepherds Pie. I received a vegetable medley in gravy (?) topped with sweet potato. I prefer my Shepherds Pie to be traditional. If it isn’t, say so on the menu. The salad was too oily for someone who prefers dressing on the side. This place was full of ladies-who-lunch out for a women’s night because wine was $25 a bottle. I looked at the selection and passed. A single bottle is too much for a single person. Younger me would have felt out of place. While I was the only person dining alone, I wasn’t dressed trendy enough. Business casual was too casual. All I could think was, Avenue Magazine has a distinct set of followers of which I am not one of them. I tend to hang out with people who are comfortable in their own skin, not sitting somewhere hoping to be seen.

I sincerely doubt I will dine there again with so many other opportunities to try delicious cuisine in Edmonton.

After dinner, I turned right and went to the Tropical Pavillion.

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It was getting dark and the pavilion was lit up with soft lighting. Lovely but difficult for photography.

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The humidity was lovely. The room was filled with the sound of water and I thought birds, but I could be mistaken. I stopped to enjoy the orchid house.

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One of my favourite things about Muttart is the way they showcase artists. There was an exhibit in the centre with a No Photos signs. But I took my time to enjoy the installation. The very centre of the Conservatory is a glass fish installation – this was lovely from below.

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I finally made my way into the Feature Pavilion that changes with the seasons. Currently, it is set up for Chinese New Year. Early March it changes again.

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Red and yellow in a garden is one of my favourite combinations.

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It was beautiful. I sat and looked around for a while.

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I can see myself visiting Muttart Conservatory everytime they change the feature pavilion. My next visit will be mid-March. I’ll keep an eye out for classes and concerts but mostly, I want to come here and sit on a bench to read. That sounds like my idea of heaven.

 

Next time…

 

Today as I sit looking out my dinning room window, sipping my coffee that is brewed to perfection, I look out in my back yard to discover the birds have found the feeder placed for them for winter. They come in flocks having told their little friends of the abundance of food for them in my yard. Their excitement is obvious as they flutter in place to find a spot to perch and feast. Now with the snow having arrived earlier this week, finding food becomes a harder job for these littles creatures, so the banquet of seed that my feeder provides is welcome.

The irony of this is not lost on me. I sit with my coffee in the silence of my dinning room, gazing out into my back yard watching them jockey for position. I have a tremendous fear of those little feathered creatures. Their little beady eyes and tiny beaks frighten me. The fear of them coming to close or actually touching me is more than I can bear.

When I was 10, my parents took me to London. We walked forever but when we came to the steps of St. Paul’s we paused. Just like the song from Mary Poppins, there was a Bird Woman feeding the birds. The difference was, she was not selling bags of food for tuppence. My dad became excited for me as he pointed out the Bird Woman. Proof that magic happens. I stood and watched the woman with her arms out stretched. She held food in her hands and the birds would land on her and feed. She was covered in birds. My brother was amazed at her gift to talk to the birds, he also had a gift with animals. One day at the beach he walked up to a Gull and picked it up. The Gull trusted him and never tried to fly away. Eventually the bird tired of his attention and nipped him gently as if to say “I need to go now”. I remember thinking my brother was the bravest person alive. Now as I stood before this Bird woman, I knew it wasn’t bravery, it was magic. She had a soft gentle manner that could reach the minds of the birds and they trusted her. Just like the Gull trusted my little brother.

My grandfather had a love for birds. He would build birdhouses and feeders. Placed them in his yard and tried to attract special rare birds, not just the sparrow which is so abundant around here. I saw him once hold out his hand and a bird came to eat from it. He tried to get me to do the same but fear held me back.

These moments came flooding back to me this week. I met a woman who took a “Staycation”, a vacation at home. She made a point of going to the bird sanctuary so her staycation would feel like a vacation. She brought her penny whistle. She would listen to the cadence of the bird calls and answer back in the same fashion. She stayed in the same spot in the trees and just kept communicating back and forth with the chickadees. Soon the little birds started coming to her. She had no food for them, just her whistle. Birds started landing on her bag and she would answer their calls. Soon they were hopping on her. She talked about the fear she felt inside but managed to remain calm on the surface. She felt their sharp little claws clinging to her hands. Then one little bird flew up and hovered in front of her face. She was so frightened she closed her eyes and stayed perfectly still untill she could no longer feel the air moving in front of her face. Once she closed her eyes, the birds left. She felt tremendous disappointment and then immediately wished she looked that bird in the eye.

Fear does that to a person. It can fill you with the regret of doing something different. Fear also can give you the confidence to do it differently the next time.

Now that I look out over my yard I see the little birds have left for now. They will be back with friends now that they know where the seeds are kept. There will be a next time for them. My next time is coming up soon. I know how I will do things differently. Introspective does that for me.

Next time won’t escape me.