Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Let Us Give Thanks.....

I wanted to start this post off by saying what I was thankful for this year. All I could come up with at first was that I was thankful that I had not punched anybody in the face this week.
I feel like I fell into a deep dark well and I'm reaching up for a hand to pull me out and there is no one there. The water just keeps rising....

Then I remembered Joyce....

We went to see Gerry's mom this week. She is in a long term care facility, nursing home, old people prison. She is also in a prison of her mind. She had back surgery in 2003, oxicodone was prescribed for pain, then more and more opiates, narcotics, prescription drugs were added to counteract the effects of that pill, and before you know it, there were literally plastic grocery bags full of mind and body debilitating prescription drugs. At one time she was being given 14 pills a day!

The doctors like to call it Alzheimer's. I like to call it malpractice, resulting in drug induced dementia.
It is a pitiful destruction of the most amazing person that has ever come into my life.

And so, instead of being snarky, because I really am not in my happy place at the moment, I thought I would just take a breath and be thankful that Joyce Broome came into my life. She is the kindest, gentlest, most thoughtful person I have ever known. She was the kind of person that took time to listen to you, she looked right at you and paid attention, then thought carefully before responding. And her responses were always wise and considerate. I went to her so many times with problems, sadness, worry, and also joy and celebratory things and she was always there for me. She helped me raise a baby while I worked full time and traveled all over the place. Her influence on my child runs deep and I am grateful for it. Wesley will be a better person for having had Joyce for a grandmother.

Joyce was there for all of us. Every birthday, anniversary, Easter, Halloween, Christmas, we all got cards, a gift, a special treat. For Easter she would make every child and grandchild an Easter basket. For Christmas, she made all of us stockings and would spend days laying out all the things for each person on the guest bed, making sure all were equal and unique for each child. She got so into it, she had to trade the stockings for big burlap sacks. Each had our name on it and they were given out one at a time at the end of gift giving. What I would give to dig into that big burlap sack once more.

Joyce showed me how a mother should be, how a person should be, for that matter. Not that I always remember, I don't seem to be remembering much of what she taught me at all these days. But being with her this week, looking into her big brown eyes, still filled with kindness and curiosity, it reminded me of who she was and how much she filled up the hearts of each of us.  Even with her not able to form coherent sentences or take care of her own basic needs, she smiles. She reaches out her hand, her eyes twinkle, she searches for a memory, and she smiles. If only I could fill just a portion of her shoes. Impossible.....

I miss her terribly and I wish I could just spend one night on the sofa like we used to, talking until late in the night, laughing, crying, sharing. She made me a better person, and so for that, on this Thanksgiving, when I am not so much in the mood for this ridiculous holiday retail hell, I give thanks for my mother in law and the lessons she taught me. May I strive to be just a bit more like her.

Sunday, November 22, 2015


Well, the owner only kept us waiting for 12 days while she made up her bloomin' mind, and she chose someone else.......
I'm just not going to write much, because you know how I can be here on my blog.....
Thank you everyone for cheering us on, lighting candles, sending good vibes. It was great to have you there. Not meant to be I suppose
..... this year has just sucked.
.....and I have a cold I can't get rid of

Thursday, November 19, 2015

We want to be farmers

As many of you know, Gerry and I have been looking for a place for quite some time now. We finally made the decision to put our house on the market and go for it seriously, not just dreaming of a day....

We recently found a place, a perfect piece of land to spend the next 20 or so years of our life,
growing, nurturing and being good stewards of the land. 22 acres with apples and pears and blueberries. Fertile land that a man and woman put their lives into, land they loved and cared for, land that earned them a decent honest living and fed their community good organic food. He has passed and she is heading on to a new adventure. She wants caretakers for the farm she so loved with her partner. We want to be those caretakers. And so we have made an offer to purchase this amazing farm. Our lives will be forever changed if we are chosen and we will see our dream become a reality.

We made an offer last weekend. And so we wait. Other offers are coming in, the seller loves this land and must be sure of the people she entrusts the farm to. We only hope that she believes in our dream as we do. The fate of our future lies in the hands of one woman's decision. So scary.....

There is a beautiful stream below the house for quiet meditation after a hard day working the farm. A place to plan, to rest, to see the possibilities of this land.

There are quiet woods to walk in.

But mostly there is the land. We have thought of so many possibilities as we have walked this farm. What ifs:  what if we partnered with the garden store where I work, offered organic gardening workshops, bee keeping workshops, pollinator garden workshops...... what if we invited artists and musicians and had special events when the farm is at its best, what if we expose more and more people to organic gardening, supply restaurants quality produce, work at farmer's markets, invite school classrooms. What if we built a greenhouse and I could supply seed starts to the store where I work. We could have a winter garden, we could set up a hydroponic system. An herb garden for teas and soap making and remedies. So many many ideas are swimming in my head. If we can only get an acceptance.

If this land chooses us, we have an exciting future ahead of us. We are so ready for this change. If we don't get it, we go back to and start our search all over again. It is so stressful, to say the least. I have one of those stress colds I get when I have to deal with things that involve my life but other people are in control of. It is so difficult to be in a position where someone else is in complete control of the outcome for something you want so bad. It is such a helpless feeling. We have made the best offer we can afford, we wrote a heartfelt letter, telling of our intentions. We did our best. Now our future is waiting in competition with other people that also want this farm.

If you have any connections out there in this Universe, please put out some prayers for us. We want this so bad. It will be a hard battle to lose. Fingers crossed everyone!!!!

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Where did it go?

 Quick as a wink, October is gone. I hardly noticed it's leaving and now we are into November.
I spent most of October traveling, I went to the beach, then the mountains, then the beach again.
My first trip to the beach was for Mrs. Brunson's funeral. I was barely packed and got a call that another mom of childhood friends had died. She was best friends with Mrs. Brunson. They died the same day, same hospital. Funerals were on the same day, same preacher, same song, almost the same sermon, same people attending. One at 11am the other at 2pm.

What a was surreal, to say the least. I saw childhood friends that I had not seen since high school. It was odd seeing them, the expectations before the funeral caused much anxiety.

I literally laid in bed at my mom's house the night before the funerals and wondered what it would be like to get in my car, drive to the beach and walk into the ocean..... just keep walking...... of course I would never do it, I just thought about what it would be like. I was a hot mess, yes I was.

Attending two funerals in the same day was difficult. To add to the misery, it was the anniversary of my dad's passing, twenty two years ago. So many memories, ghosts from the past. All of that, dealing with my mom's head games, and missing Wesley had me in a near coma.  Seeing people you were friends with as a child, that you haven't seen since high school is so weird. They were sort of the same as they were as children, older, but not that much had changed. All I have to say about that is I'm glad I got our of Myrtle Beach. I faired better for it.

The funerals were beautiful. I have an odd fascination with funerals lately. I have attended so many here lately that I have started observing them from a state of detachment. The ones I have been to have not been ones where I am grief stricken and sad beyond reason. They were people I knew, but not loved ones taken from me too early. I am sad for the living left behind more than the one that has died. I watch them deal with the process of burying their loved one. The funerals I have been to have either been in a room at a funeral home or at a church. I like the church ones best. I like churches. There is a peace and a comfort there. A familiarity. The music, the shiny pews with comfy seats, the organ, the stained glass windows, the smell of the funeral flowers, the alter where the preacher performs. Ah yes, actors on a stage, all of them, those preachers. It's really an interesting process. I don't fear it as I used to.

After I got back from funeral week, I went to Asheville to help get the new store ready. Already posted about that so I'll move on :)

One of the songs at the funerals was called "All is Well With My Soul". Those words stayed in my head the whole weekend. I like that phrase. After Gerry and I went back to the beach, I did feel like all was well with my soul. The ocean has such power to heal a troubled mind. Always has for me. Gerry and I went back to the beach for his birthday. I sat in an empty movie theater on my birthday, we went to the beach for three days for his.... just sayin'.....  I just pretended I was still celebrating my birthday. I have done that in the past too. Works for me, somehow, haha.

I love North Carolina. I have lived in the Carolinas all my life and I still discover new places when we travel here. We stayed at Carolina Beach, which I have not been to since Wesley was in kindergarten and we went on a school field trip. Its a great beach, the streets and beach are lined with  small cottages and shops instead of high rise hotels and amusements. Its very charming and nice in the fall and winter when the tourists stay inland.

We had great seafood in quaint restaurants on the waterfront, walked on a cloudy beach, warm with a misty rain from time to time. We explored Fort Fisher, which was a sad battlefield during the Civil War, so many died and suffered at this place, you could feel the ghosts. The south lost......

I still look like I am heavy with sadness in photos I see of myself. Gotta do something about that...

We walked around on the boardwalk and took a bunch of instagrams. It was absurd really, if someone were watching us they would have seen two people spending way too much time looking at their iPhones instead of each other. We are a nation obsessed with those little objects.... but we did get some fun photos for memories later. Gerry has seen most of his life go by, looking at it all through the lens of a camera. It is what it is, I suppose.

This was a restaurant called Fishy Fish. The food was great, we sat outside and watched the rain and the boats come into the harbor.

Mind and body relaxing more and more as the sea air and the misty rain healed our souls. Gerry has been sad too, his little girl gone. That has been painful to witness as well.

And then there is the pain of two months without Wesley in our life. She seldom calls, no letters, no emails, and texts briefly when she has time and/or she has a problem.  For someone that claims to be a writer, she sure doesn't write much!  She has left a big empty space that nothing can fill. Some days are better than others. But there are days when I feel I have no purpose at all. Other days, I go to work and laugh with my coworkers and have fun with them. For Halloween, instead of being with my daughter, I dressed up with my friends at work and made this best of it. Gerry had to shoot a football game. I was bummed out, we always had so much fun on Halloween, I didn't even decorate the house or carve a pumpkin. First time in over twenty years.

Gerry and I go and do fun things together.  I'm at work more and more. I'm packing to move. But still, being a mom is so all consuming, when you stop being one every day, its an emptiness like nothing else. I have to force myself to be happy for her. And I am happy for her, truly. I love that she got brave and moved to California, she is in a beautiful place and has had a great adventure. It just sucks for me :(

At work, I have been asked to be in charge of Christmas merchandising. I reached way back in my brain and started preparing google docx filled with plans and schedules and target customers and dates for promotion. It feels good to be using tools I learned so long ago, and we will have a great Christmas selling season at the store. I cut some tree saplings yesterday in our woods that we will use to hang glass terrariums, tied with pretty ribbon and filled with moss and things found outside. The theme I have planned is a nature inspired Christmas. I haven't bought a lot of decoration, we will use things we find in nature, pine cones, grapevine, berries, twigs, moss, rosemary. It will be pretty. This is my wheelhouse. I got this!

I feel like I have crawled inside myself. I don't see many of my friends these days. Too much going on for a nice lunch or a coffee, or a gallery visit. I used to have more time in my day.
Where did those hours go.....

Monday, November 2, 2015

Hydroponic harvest

 I harvested my first crop of hydroponic lettuces this weekend. I grew a Tom Thumb variety from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, and the results were spectacular! I got 18 lettuce heads about the size of a small melon, very green, very sweet and tender.

This past week was my one year anniversary at the store and I finally got to do a hydro grow. We have had several young guys working at the store that were very enthusiastic about the hydro systems and I sort of had to stand in line to get to try one out. One by one, they have all moved on so I finally gave it a go.

Also, I was afraid it might be more complicated than I cared for. Turns out, it was as simple as working in the yard growing vegetables, I just had less hungry mouths competing for my crop. No bugs, rabbits, deer, moles, etc. Just a small invasion of thrips that were easily dealt with using a bit of neem oil. In three weeks I had a full harvest.

I now have arugula seedlings starting, whoop! My plan is to try and keep a full rotation of greens throughout the winter and see how it goes. Gerry and I hope to have a system like this in our house one day, if we ever find a new place.

 The system I used is called an AeroFlo and it is very simple to use. Water is filled in a reservoir, this one was 15 gallons, a pump is in the reservoir and the water is pumped up into the three tanks here. I used another small pump to keep water circulating and nutrients moving through. The nutrients were added once a week, ph tested and plants misted weekly. That was it.

Three weeks later, with almost no effort at all, I had these beauties!

 Harvest was simple. The seedlings grew in soil-less seed plugs, so just a quick snip at the base was all it took. No dirt, no bugs to wash off, not one single hole in a leaf.

I harvested on Oct. 31 and so we had a healthy trick or treat offering at the store for customers and co-workers.  I made a blue cheese dressing with some amazing Amish blue cheese and used organic sour cream and mayonnaise. I toasted some walnuts with butter and cane sugar, curry powder and smoked paprika, delicious!  I added some organic red grapes, one of my co-workers brought in banana muffins, and so we had a really nice salad bar for Halloween.  This was a great experience and I was able to share with several customers that came in, and I believe I may have sold a few people on the idea of growing indoors. One of these days, this might be how all of us have to grow our food if we keep screwing with Mother Nature!

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Work Week

I got home late last night from a week working in Asheville, NC. I went up as part of the design team for Fifth Season to help set up our newest store. It is going to be a really great place to shop once the doors are open for business. I stayed at an air bnb with three other women, so I got up super early each morning to get the shower first. The plus to this was every morning I saw the sun rise over the mountain peaks and the town of Asheville in the distance went from twinkling dawn lights to pink sky and then the day began. Not a bad way to spend a week. We worked hard, but had some nice meals, got a lot accomplished and had a lot of laughs.

I started this job one year ago with the hopes that it would work into something fun and creative and it has. I am still the lowest man on the totem pole, lots of egos and power hungry folks in front of me, but it's been my experience that if you stay the course, you outlast those types and then you can prove your worth. I'm not interested in the ego struggles anymore, so I just keep my head down, work hard and try to smile and laugh and make the work fun. It's much more enjoyable than wanting to be the important one in charge. Much less ass kissing has to be done that way, ha!

The store will have a coffee bar, coffee courtesy of Carrboro roasters, beer on tap, wine, kombucha,  and healthy small plates.  It's going to be a fun place to hang out.

The outdoor nursery has a beautiful fountain. The tables made from reclaimed wood will display planters, outdoor plants and garden decor. There will be live music on weekends, the store is participating with local artists and will have art on display, and they hope to really support and become a vital part of the community.

There is a brew room where you can come and rent a kettle to brew your own beer, there will be classes on home-brew and workshops.

The first shipment of plants came in the first day I was there and it was mind blowing trying to check all of that in. It seemed like the boxes of plants went on forever. It took the better part of a day to get them unpacked and checked in. Everything brown you see in the background was a box of plants or a plant with brown wrapping, and where the green plants are, there had been even more boxes of plants.    Soooooo many......

Our small house was on the side of a mountain and had spectacular views. These houses were on steel beam stilts and seemed really precariously perched to me. Don't think I would want that for a permenant residence! But the sunrises were spectacular.

Our morning commute to the store was very pretty. Our first morning driving in this sweet little bear cub ran across the road in front of us and we almost hit it with the car. Where was mama bear!?!?!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Dreams of dying

I woke from a dream about Doris Brunson Thursday morning. I dreamed she was very old and she was with her mother, there were tubes going into her nose, her mother was holding her hand and telling her she was going to die.

Doris Brunson was the mother of my best friend when I was a little girl. Beth and I played with our barbies, she was going to marry Peter Tork and I was going to marry Davy Jones (The Monkees, remember?). We had sleep overs and Mrs. Brunson took us to school every day. We were the best of friends for a long time. Then high school... Beth was the smart girl, National Honor Society, scholarships, awards, clubs kinda girl. I wanted to go out dancing at the discos and buy clothes and I worked. I didn't study, I didn't practice piano. Her mother was more strict than mine. We grew apart. But I have thought about her from time to time and remember our friendship fondly. He mother was kind and I imagine had a pretty good idea what was going on behind the closed doors of my house. When we were a part of the initial integration of schools, Beth was the first person I knew to invite a black friend home. Carol. The neighbors talked. I was proud to know her.

My mom sent an email Thursday night saying that Doris Brunson had died..... I have not thought about this woman in years and the day before she died, I dreamed of her. I can't shake that from my mind.....  So I am heading back to the beach for two funerals on Saturday.

22 years ago, my dad was buried and now I will sit through two funerals on the anniversary of that date. A dear friend of my mom and step father also died this week, also a mother of childhood friends. Mary's son taught me to swim. Her funeral is just hours apart from Mrs. Brunson's. I feel like I should be there out of respect for my childhood friends and their beloved mothers.

I don't want to go. My dad died twenty two years ago today and the pain of his loss just never goes away. They say time heals, but it does not heal the pain of a girl losing her daddy. I think of him and miss him every single day. I don't know how I will get through these funerals, but I'll put on my big girl pants and manage I suppose. It will for sure be a mind fuck, being with my mom on this day. The long ride home on Sunday will ease my mind, those cotton fields and farm stands and the leaves just turning their golden fall colors. And I will remember the countless times I rode in the backseat of our car, snuggled under an old quilt as my dad drove with his right hand, left hand holding a cigarette, flicking the ashes out of the cracked window, singing along to whatever country music 8 track tape there was playing, the corners of his eyes crinkled in a smile.

Always a smile......
     life is for the living ya'll, so get out there and live, its a short visit.