19 May 2009

Learning Patience Through a Garden Retrospective

I'm not a very patient person. I've never pretended to be. This ongoing litany of gardening projects, however, has helped me to cultivate me a dose of patience.

Gardening grounds me. I'm learning to wait from season to season to see how plants emerge, unfold and fit together. I'm learning to embrace labours that have no finite beginning and end.

When you're in the thick of it, you think that things have to happen immediately. When you step back and reflect, you realize that 3, 6 or 12 months is often a short amount of time to have completed all of this gardening change.

In 2006, this is what the front of our house looked like. We moved in that past fall and were excited to see what the garden would hold. Thank goodness for online photosharing because I hadn't saved this anywhere, but given that the irises are up, this was taken late May/early June (two weeks later than the rest of the images in this series.

Front Garden 2006
Front Garden 2006

What a mess! But, a lush mess nonetheless. What you can't see is that most of the green is a wild violet that we've spent the better of two years trying to eradicate. The pine tree in the middle was a intentional victim of the foundation waterproofing later that year.

One year later, the garden is bare. Very, very bald and naked by the foundation. We've pulled some things we didn't like. Maybe we added a plant here and there.

Front Garden 2007
Front Garden 2007

Another year passes and the garden sees more change. The evil wild violet is nearly gone, so now the bottom part of the garden near the road is empty. We've put in some plantings near the foundation that really haven't grown yet so they look puny. I love Lady's Mantle, Wifey love moss, so we've planted some of that.

Front Garden 2008
Front Garden 2008

We also really wanted a fence, not only as a nice little hardscaping feature, but we to let our dog out to roam freely in the backyard. I designed the fence and had it custom built. The basketball net is big and pops. It isn't supposed to be a landscaping feature, but it is. Something for me, something for the kids.

Now entering our fourth summer, more change abounds.

The foundation plants were all wrong so we ripped the three Emerald Gaiety euonymus out. In their place, we've planted three false cypresses and are plagued by "mini plants need to grow" syndrome. I finally got a Japanese Maple (see it poking out around the maple) and the mock orange that is now entering its 3rd summer is getting quite big and may actually produce some heavenly flowers this June.

Front Garden 2009
Front Garden 2009

We also decided that our garden was quite lackluster in the spring. I've begun to plant tulips and daffodils to put on a show. My limit is about 30-40 bulbs per year because digging them in, and amending clay soil, while trying to obscure all activity from squirrels isn't fun.

Front Garden from a Different Vantage 2009

It's looking lush and spring like. Well, that was two weeks ago when I took this picture. Now there's weeds. Lots of weeds taking over. Thank goodness I don't mind weeding, sorta.

11 May 2009

Where All the Good Fishes Go

Picking out Treasure

We said good bye to Treasure this weekend. She was Bella’s easter fish. Treasure was a member of our family for less than a month because she got sepsis and died.

The fish hadn’t been doing well for about a week or so. It wasn’t swimming and had difficulty breathing. Wifey did some internet research which enabled us to make a diagnosis.

On Saturday, we knew it would be time to say goodbye to the fish. We discussed it with Bella and we decided to flush her. Well, in actual fact, Wifey would be in charge of the actual transferring the fish from one bowl to another and giving Treasure the ceremonial flush back to the ocean.

It didn’t happen quite as we intended.

Wifey and I had a quick errand to run. Treasure was looking real bad and the time was near. Since we really needed to do this errand (which I cannot now remember what it was so I guess it couldn’t have been all that important after all) and didn’t want to get into what was anticipated to be a long fish funeral, I hurried us along and said we’d deal with it when we got home.

We left, ran the unmemorable errand, and returned. Only when we got home Treasure was no longer in her bowl. She had disappeared. Gone. Vanished.

It took me a moment to connect the disappearance of the fish to my daughter. In our absence, Bella had peered into the bowl and took it upon herself to scoop up her pet and end Treasure’s suffering. Only there wasn’t any ceremony. Or a goodbye. There was just a plastic baggie and a kid who doesn’t connect her head to her heart too well. A kid who took this action solo.

As we were the crappy Mommies, in our absence, our daughter had euthanatized her fish.

My heart tugged for her. I was amazed that she had opted to take this on by herself. I didn’t even want to be part of the fish’s death and had nominated Wifey to deal with it. If I couldn’t handle it, how was Bella going to? We didn’t want Bella to feel directly responsible for Treasure’s death.

We wrapped Bella in a hug and tried to insert a little goodbye with a few kind words for Treasure. We tried to use metaphor that Bella had stopped Treasure’s suffering and she was now enjoying a swim in the great ole’ fish pond or the big wild ocean.

We were trying to distance her from the grim reality of the situation. But Bella’s a realist. She knew that her fish wasn’t going for the trip of her lifetime.

That’s when Bella took the opportunity to educate us on the water and sewage treatment process.

Clearly, Treasure was not swimming in the ocean. Treasure was floating in a pond of poopy water that we’d make clean and one day drink again. She watches “Dirty Jobs” and knows all about sewage treatment. I, on the other hand, now know more than I ever wanted to.

01 May 2009

The Looking Glass Forgot to Tell Me About This

My mother took me to see a psychic. This was years ago. The psychic spent an hour telling me about my future and wrapped it up with five minutes reading my palm. None of the things she prophesized, to my recollection, have come ever come true.

But the highlights from the palm reading stick with me.

I will have one, perhaps two, children. She oscillated on the specific quantity and finally settled on somewhere between one and two. The only certain thing is that there would definitely not be more than two.

One mark represented the intersection of my life with Wifey. A notation of soul mate met and partnered with.

The proliferation of x marks on my hand tells the story of a life to be lived with many ups and downs, highs and lows. All of those crosses enabled her to tell me that my existence is going to be hilly, rocky and not in the least bit dull.

There are moments where I crave a simple mundane existence. Where I’d love to not have checklists, projects, drama and child antics. When all of that dissipates and regulates, if only for a day, I’m not able to just be in a non-chaotic life. It’s discomforting. In the absence of full, I want nothing more than to get tossed back into the ebb and flow of the daily tide. When back in that current, I want nothing more than stillness.

This week the children’s birth mom came back into the picture.

She found us two years ago through the internet and has been in and out of my life. She calls us repeatedly a few times in a short time period, asks about the kids, we hold her off and then she disappears for months. This cycle repeats itself. This week marks cycle four.

Only, there is something different about it this time. Something more pressing. This time she asked to speak with them.

Perhaps we’re tired of lying to the kids. Perhaps we’re worried that the time we can shelter them from this is limited. Perhaps we know it’s only a matter of time before they find their entire extended birth family on facebook or twitter.

So we’ve decided to let them know we’ve been contacted and let them make the decision about what they want to do. Do they want to write a letter, talk on the phone, or see their birth mom?
I thought that when this moment came I’d feel threatened as their Mom. I’m not. In the least.

What I am concerned about is what this will do to them and the family balance that’s been created in our house. I’m worried that this could destroy them. That our kids could regress to the hurt beings they were before and we’d have to spend years undoing that - again. I’m worried that they’re going to feel conflicted. I’m worried that she’ll not be the person they constructed in their minds and will be sorely disappointed.

I’m just, well as any parent would be, anxious, concerned, protective and fearful. And yet part of me is hopeful that this could be a good thing for them.