Categories
Good Nature

Planting

Where I live, there’s a month – six weeks, if we’re lucky – when most of the days have perfectly blue skies, and soft breezes that sweetly dance over blooming flowers and trees, and temperatures that hover between comfortable and just warm enough. That’s our Spring.

During that time, it’s easy to forget that Summer is Coming. And so, as my husband and I blissfully enjoy the temporary glory of the perfect weather, we plant.

This year, our backyard garden contains tomatoes, and cucumbers, and squash. There’s also the oregano from last year that survived the winter, and more basil to replace what didn’t. We’ve added kale, and mint, and strawberries, and we are excitedly watching a couple of leftover brussel sprout plants that we thought were goners but are now thriving, seemingly invigorated by our recent snowpocalypse.

I say “we” as though I’ve been actively part of the planting process. In truth, it’s been my husband’s work. My role is advisor, and admirer, and supporter. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I am the Garden Cheerleader, helping on occasion with the weeding and watering but careful not to overdo so as not to antagonize my allergies. Still, it is a partnership, a combined effort and project, one in which we both proudly share.

We are fortunate to have a backyard for our garden. It’s possible to grow vegetables in other locations, however, if you set things up in the right way. That’s the premise behind an organization called The Million Gardens Movement, which is “…dedicated to mobilizing a million people to grow their own food and reap the benefits of gardening.”

The Million Gardens Movement offers kits (Little Green Gardens) to people in need, making it possible for them to grow a small but significant garden almost anywhere – a windowsill, for example. A $10.00 donation provides a kit to one family. Additionally, The Million Gardens Movement provides guidance and education about gardening, supporting people everywhere as they grow their own food.

If you’d like to know more, check out their website: https://milliongardensmovement.org

Here’s to the gorgeous glory days of Spring and the hopeful inspiration that comes from planting for the future.

Categories
Neato Science

Wow

Yesterday, I learned of two very cool, kind of mind-blowing events in the world of space travel and science.

The first is a newly-released photograph of a black hole. A photo was released in 2019; this is a follow-up image. What’s special about this newest photo, aside from the fact that an image of a supermassive black hole is pretty wow in and of itself, is that it reveals the activity of the magnetic fields surrounding the void.

Scientists who analyzed the image discovered that some of the magnetic fields are doing what’s expected, meaning they loop around the black hole, influenced by enormous gravitational pull. Other magnetic fields, however, are pointing away from the center. This is the surprising part.

These magnetic fields must be incredibly strong to be able to compete against and resist the black hole’s overwhelmingly strong draw. This knowledge is not only fascinating; it creates brand-new perspective about what’s going on out there, billions of miles away. Who knows what other discoveries could come from this new information?

The second piece of news I learned yesterday is that a small piece of fabric from one of the wings on the Wright brothers’ plane is on Mars right now, waiting to fly again. It’s attached to the underside of a solar panel on the space helicopter, Ingenuity, that traveled to Mars with the rover, Perseverance.

Perseverance landed on Mars on February 18 and is currently doing its Mars investigation work along with prepping for Ingenuity’s launch. The goal is for Ingenuity to fly in early April. If everything goes as planned, it will make a total of five short aerial trips on Mars. And on those trips, the first of their kind on another planet, it will carry a tiny piece of material from the first airplane flight here on Earth. The thought of it gives me goosebumps.

Here’s to scientific discoveries and historic parallels and all the moments of wow they provide.

Categories
Life

Earrings

For me, it’s little things that best define the daily differences between Before Pandemic and now. Earrings, for example.

Before Pandemic, I worked in a “business casual” environment. Each morning, as I dressed in my office-appropriate attire, earrings were part of my ensemble. On the few occasions when I forgot them, I felt incomplete.

Now, and for most of the past 12 months, I rarely wear earrings. It seems unnecessary.

It’s true that putting on a pair of earrings could add a touch of sparkle to my comfy pants and sweatshirt of the day. If I wear earrings, however, I might feel it necessary to also wear shoes and lipstick. I might then decide to use a hair dryer to blow-dry my hair and start worrying about my raggedy, unpolished nails.

You can see how this could easily get out of control.

I do still like my earring collection and sometimes wear a pair, but it’s a deliberate choice, done in specific circumstances. Last week, for example, on my Errand Day, I traded out my comfy pants and slippers for a pair of blue jeans and sneakers and then added my kitty cat earrings for a bit of fun. Before Pandemic, the kitty cat earrings were reserved for weekends; they weren’t professional enough for business casual. I was happy to give them a moment in the weekday spotlight.

Perhaps, in the not-so-distant future, I’ll go back to wearing blouses and blazers, dress pants and skirts. If so, my earrings will once again be part of my daily wardrobe.

In the meantime, the days are getting longer, and the weather’s getting warmer. I’ll soon be switching from sweatshirts to t-shirts. Fortunately, my comfy pants can be worn all year long.

Categories
Life

Better

Yesterday, I was reminded of something Dr. Maya Angelou once said.

“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”

It seems like logical advice, the kind of thing that shouldn’t have to be said. Yet, it can sometimes be hard advice to follow – maybe not the “do the best you can” part, but certainly the “do better” part.

It’s tempting to think of the process of change as a straight line from A to B. In reality – at least, based on what I’ve seen – it is more like a preschooler’s messy scribble, full of ups and downs, criss-crossing lines and circles.

Changing – getting from A to B and, eventually, to G and K and beyond, forces us to acknowledge past mistakes (innocent as they may have been). We must face our failures. Speaking from personal experience, doing so can be painful, humiliating, exhausting.

Changing also requires us to accept the frightening proposition that we must think and act differently, even if what we must think and do instead may not be clear. For somebody like me, who likes to know where I’m going before I buckle my seatbelt, it can be difficult to let go of the familiar while simultaneously agreeing to take a new, potentially undefined (potentially imperfect) path.

To truly do what Dr. Angelou recommends requires a conscious choice and, sometimes, a great deal of trust. It may be more comfortable and less troublesome to just let things stay as they are, to focus only on the “do the best you can” part. It may be tempting to tell ourselves that change isn’t needed; that the way things work, or feel, or fit right now is okey-dokey.

Yet, if we don’t resolve to do better when we have the opportunity to do so, we’ll never know what is possible. We’ll know what is, but not what could be.

Which reminds me of the words of the poet Erin Hanson:

“There is freedom waiting for you,
On the breezes of the sky,
And you ask, ‘What if I fall?’
Oh but my darling,
What if you fly?”

Categories
Holidays Nature

Green

The Lake Isle of Innisfree
by William Butler Yeats

I will arise now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made;
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet’s wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart’s core.

Categories
Pets

Goat

Mollie, our older dog, is a picky eater. She likes her food served in a certain way, at a certain location, and there are some things she simply won’t eat regardless of how hungry she is.

Charlie, our younger dog, is the opposite. He’ll eat most anything, and he’s always ready to eat. Dog food, people food, cat food, scraps of paper, pieces of plastic, Kleenex, pillows, backyard grass, sticks, leaves…everything is fair game. He does prefer food, but he’ll eat whatever he finds.

Of course, I don’t want him to get sick, so I’m constantly watching, picking up tiny bits from the floor, moving things out of his reach, pulling things out of his mouth. Nevertheless, I’m sure he’s ingested some things he shouldn’t have. It’s impossible to completely Charlie-proof the world he lives in.

We thought we adopted a puppy all those months ago. Maybe we actually adopted a goat.

Categories
Life

Weird


Last night, at 2:00 a.m., it suddenly became 3:00 a.m.

That’s weird, but what’s even weirder is that the time jump didn’t happen for everybody. Only some people.

In case that’s not weird enough, in about seven months, it will happen again, except in reverse. At 2:00 a.m. one night, it will suddenly become 1:00 a.m. Again, however, only for some people.

So, for part of the year, for a portion of the population, there’s an hour floating around out there, waiting to be called into action. Then, when it’s no longer wanted, it’s sent away. It doesn’t actually disappear; we (some of us) simply choose to either acknowledge or deny its existence.

Because of this choice, we (some of us) spend a couple of days (sometimes longer) adapting to the implications of the change. Things get a little blurry as our bodies and minds get used to more sunlight, or less sunlight, when we go to bed and when we wake up. Some of us do weird things like forgetting stuff we usually know or getting unreasonably irritated at minor problems or falling asleep in the middle of the day. It can be challenging for adults; for young children, the experience can be especially intense.

Billions of years ago, before humans even existed, the thing we now call “time” was happening without us. The journey of the stars and planets through space, the progression of life and universal action, has never depended on us or even required our involvement. However, we invented a way to measure it, a mechanism for defining it. We gave it context and meaning.

I suppose that’s why we’ve (some of us) accepted the existence of an hour that doesn’t really count, like the free space in the middle of a Bingo card. It’s there; it contributes to the outcome. But, it’s arbitrary. It can be used in different ways, depending on what we choose to do with it.


Here’s to all of us who lost an hour of time last night. The weirdness is real.

Categories
Good People

Leader

Anytime I think of great leaders – business or otherwise – Herb Kelleher is one of the first names that comes to mind.

In honor of his birthday today, here’s my interpretation of some of his most meaningful lessons.

Treat others as more important than yourself.

Tell the truth and trust that doing so will inspire the right kinds of action.

Trying something new can help you find solutions. It can also be a lot of fun.

A job title can tell you what a person gets paid to do. It shouldn’t be confused with who they are.

Business is full of serious decisions and hard work. Leave some room for laughter.

Herb passed away in 2019, but his legacy lives on. Here’s to a leader who showed us what “walking the walk” is all about.

Categories
Life

Blooms

The way I remember it, March 11, 2020, was a tipping point.

Not the tipping point. The past 365 days have been strange, unusual, unprecedented (ugh, that word), and it makes sense that there’d be more than one tipping point. But, I specifically remember March 11, 2020.

On that day, the actor, Tom Hanks, announced that he had Covid-19. If it had been another celebrity, perhaps I wouldn’t have been as shocked, but Tom Hanks? The actor who’s played an astronaut and an airline pilot and a castaway and Mr. Rogers? The guy who’s in 90% of my flypaper movies (you know, the movies that stick with you, make you pause and settle in and watch again, even if you’ve seen them many times before)? That Tom Hanks?

When he made his announcement, there were approximately 1270 cases in the U. S., and the U.S. death toll was at 38. As I remember it, there seemed to be a lot of debate over whether we needed more caution or could proceed with life as usual.

At that point, the numbers told an abstract story for most of us, something we should pay attention to but not something that affected us personally. There were warning flags, changes in supply chains and office protocols and travel plans. And, of course, there was sympathy for the people who were sick, empathy for the loved ones of those who’d died. Nevertheless, we (I) wanted to believe that we’d be safe, as long as we washed our hands and stayed home most of the time.

But then, Tom Hanks made his announcement. America’s Dad was sick.

That same evening, not long after the Tom Hanks news broke, the NBA announced the indefinite suspension of the 2019-2020 season due to a positive Covid-19 test of a Utah Jazz team member. I’m not a sportsy person and don’t watch basketball, but I had the news on and therefore learned of the NBA announcement right away.

That announcement, in tandem with the Tom Hanks info, shattered my illusion of invincibility. I suspect it did the same for other people. Covid-19 was no longer something that was happening in the background. It could happen to anybody; it could affect us all.

Sitting in my living room, watching the news, I heard an imaginary creak and a crash, the sounds of the familiar world leaning and then falling over, landing in a heap on the floor.

Now, here it is, one year later. March 11, 2021. The numbers are so much higher; the question of whether caution was (is) warranted has been answered. Most of us have gone from being abstract observers to having personal experiences of pandemic loss and illness and terrible change. Many have gained unwanted perspective and dark wisdom, lessons from 365 days of unprecedented (ugh, that word) circumstances. It is easy to focus on the awfulness; there is so much readily available.

However. But. And.

There’s now something new, something that didn’t exist 365 days ago. We have vaccines, along with more information, better knowledge, tools and resources. We have a little bit of hope, made possible by time and action and awareness.

I wouldn’t say we’ve hit a tipping point toward the positive just yet. We’re bobbing in the waves, ready for that moment when it all turns. It’s still so delicately balanced; a slight push could tilt us backward. But, we’re ready. The shift could happen soon.

This morning, I spent a few minutes enjoying the blooms on the trees in my backyard. Delicate pink and white blossoms, soft green leaves; symbols of Spring.

I don’t remember noticing them last year. I’m grateful for them today.

Categories
Good People

Warmth

There’s an organization that makes and distributes coats to people experiencing homelessness. It’s called Empowerment Plan.

The coats were designed as part of a school project by a college student named Veronika Scott. When designing the coats, Veronika sought input from people who were homeless. The result is a weather-resistant garment made from upcycled material. Importantly, the coat can be easily converted into a sleeping bag. It can also be converted to a bag that can be carried over the shoulder.

Empowerment Plan doesn’t only provide warm and useful coats, however. Veronika realized that there was a need for more. And so, the Empowerment Plan program was developed to assist people in escaping homelessness.

Empowerment Plan coats are made by parents from homeless shelters in the Detroit, Michigan area. Approximately 60% of a program participant’s time is spent in paid coat production work, with the remaining 40% dedicated to educational, therapeutic, and other services addressing each participant’s individual circumstances. The goals are to assist participants in achieving financial stability and to prepare them for other employment opportunities once they complete the plan. According to Empowerment Plan, none of the participants have fallen back into homelessness after completing the program.

If you’re interested in learning more, the Empowerment Plan website is https://www.empowermentplan.org/about.

Here’s to warmth made possible through empathy, innovation, and human connection.