Do not pray for an easy life, pray for the strength to endure a difficult one.– Bruce Lee
Saturday/Creative Day: Last week, I was very sick. This week we went to pick up my son’s playhouse for his birthday and to get groceries for the first time since having COVID. 10 years ago I felt tired hiking Half Dome in Yosemite, now I feel tired going back to grocery shopping with my two kids, I never imagined how tiring errands would be with kids, my kids have been more rewarding than I imagined, but also more exhausting than I ever imagined. It took me 7 years to learn how to discipline kids “properly” or “functionally” at least, so it could have been easier had I more knowledge, but here we are now I have my daughter’s special needs diagnosis and treatment and a basic ability to discipline kids and how to play with kids, so we are learning how to live together, how to make school work and I don’t regret having my life mostly spent teaching and taking care of my kids for now. If I regret anything it’s not having my own place with the money I made working, which I did a lot before the kids, but here I am now.
Sunday/Faith Day: Last week I lost all hope in my father meeting me half way as a good family member to support me emotionally, I don’t think of him as a good person any more. I don’t know if I will feel better once we have time apart, but I’m afraid not, because I’ve always felt irritated by the way he treats me and I’ve dismissed my own feelings because people say you should respect or care for your parents, but I’ve grown tired of not liking the way he disrespects me up to whatever limit I set and across the limits as well, I’ve started to think that it doesn’t matter what other people think I should think about my dad if they don’t have to live with him. I don’t know if he is eccentric, demented or just different than me, it’s an uncomfortable ambiguity, I know he likes to live in a weird way, I know that he had different values than I do, but I don’t really know if it’s unsafe for him or just less neat than I would like things… a lot of elders start blurring that line and it’s hard to say what is messy vs what is unhealthy vs what is self neglect/abusive conditions…. it’s hard because you care for your family and want the best for them, but your best isn’t their best, so they want to keep old sauces because “it’s not really bad” then they have moldy food and you hope it’s because they don’t want to clean the fridge yet, then all their stuff smells moldy and you clean it, then you wonder how many times you will have to clean their stuff without them participating in maintaining a system to try to prevent mold and you can’t help but notice they don’t help you make it easier. Essentially their dirt spills over and they are giving your kids moldy toys as presents and you don’t want to offend them, but you don’t want to smell their dog urine and step over their dog poop and try to demold the gifts they give you and fight a battle with cockroaches when they are on the cockroach side and not your side. Loss of faith becomes more of a way of being then a simple lack of faith, it’s a negative amount of belief in the other person to be reasonable, live in reality, care enough about you to keep the shared space livable in a normal sense. I don’t have faith in my dad getting better, but I have faith in myself to do my best to either keep the kid’s space clean or move out eventually. It’s my 11 year anniversary with my husband so we went out to eat (me and the kids) and to the zoo, but my husband moved out of state for work and so it’s one of the only anniversaries we spent separated and I was sad about it until the actual day when being with the kids cheered me up. My husband is looking for a place for us right now and I am kind of homesick for having the kids together with him again, familysick? And kind of family poisoned by spending too much time with my dad in a row…
Monday/Unity Day: Last year I wrote “I don’t like the family tension but I can refuse to feed into it more than what it is on it’s own.” I’m still doing my best with that. Last week I cleaned mold off the bottoms of shelves. This week I was very tired, I started doing a handful of normal people things to try to work back into our “normal” lives. School with the kids was exhausting, I got mad at my dad for bothering me about the kids whining a pretty standard amount and that was exhausting, hate is exhausting, I just don’t know how not to hate my dad anymore. If I knew how to not hate him I’m sure I would just to be less exhausted by hating the things he says, the mess he leaves, the way he undermines me as a parent and a person… I was thinking it wouldn’t be better when we got better, but hoping it would. It hasn’t so far.
Tuesday/Self-Determination: Last week sick with the Coronavirus. This week unsure between if I am sick or well, trying to get back into things we did before. My son started his writing practice book and I noticed he jumped from working on letters to a writer. I’m proud of him, even though it’s a bit draining working on writing with him. I’ve put off making more spelling flashcards for my daughter and that makes me sad, but it is what it is. I’ll get to it soon. My daughter has been drawing a lot and writing books, I’m very proud of her for making her dreams materialize in that way and being pushy enough that the things she wants to do generally happen, where as I let many of the things I would want go by because I’m not an advocate for my own happiness as much as I am for my kids.
Wednesday/Collective Work Day: Last week we stayed home sick, this week we returned to the beach it was a double birthday, we did karate class, but didn’t have our normal instructor. The ocean was beautiful, I forget because it’s our local habit to complain about our small number of beaches, but what we do have is beautiful. My son swam and my daughter had a great time playing with new kids and her friends, she loves new people so the beach is a great place for her because it has travelers and new kids constantly. It’s nice to feel the calm wonder of the ocean, but also nice to see people we know. Our group is large enough to be more chaotic then I like, but it’s good for the kids to have enough friends to play group games and it’s interesting to see the various social dynamics that develop between kids based on temperament and interests. When I come home I feel supported, which is not home I feel around my own family… I keep wanting it to be, but I don’t have a solution or even hope of one anymore.
Thursday/Cooperative Economics Day: Last week letting out a lot of festering disappointment. I wanted to get some stuff done around the house, cleaning or repair work, but I didn’t. I was physically tired from going from the least active I’ve ever been back to my normal amount. I felt great Wednesday, but Thursday it hurt everywhere, or especially my legs, neck, chest, shoulders, face, eyes, head… I didn’t regret anything though, it was a really enjoyable day at the beach a new child played with the big blocks and we had karate class, I don’t know what happened between when our group didn’t exist and now that we do, looking back it was the theatre teacher, before we had her we didn’t move beyond a certain spark of kids activities, for some reason she kindled that into our flame and when we lost her we didn’t go out. She is a really special and supportive person, she makes you feel like no matter how big the job is or what your dream is, you can really do it and starting today. I miss her, but the group is okay as a whole, we have people who make you feel like that, two, but they together don’t carry the same force of hope that she did, she was a light house in the darkness of indecision and procrastination, she didn’t tell you what to do, but she lit up the shadows of your own darkness to show you what lies hidden in your soul/being and she didn’t ask you to do more, but she let you know somehow that you can and should live your life on the edge of what’s possible. She inspired me to greatness when I would have been content eating a themed dinner like tacos or something else good and ending the day there. But after being inspired I found I didn’t know how to handle personal ambitions vs my home life and it kept me going that the personal ambitions were not personal, but for our community to rise together, to find better ways, to remember to make time for what already is at our finger tips. Now I’m learning how to do the paperwork end and that’s fine, but I miss our theater teacher, she was very inspirational and fun, so everyday with her would be fun, she really rose from whatever bad things were going on to make the day special, I don’t really know how to do that, but I do whatever I can do, which is something different. I’m a consistent person when I can be, I guess I provide the same energy as the rock wall I built yesterday or the edges of a garden, the energy of stability and limit and designated places, where as our theatre teacher was more like a shooting star, something you don’t see often, something you remember even if it’s not for a long time you are together.
Friday/Creativity Day: Last week I was sick and the days are passing in a blur. This week we are better and I was able to go to my friends house, it felt very nice seeing her, it was grounding to see those people who care about us. We planted corn, and peas, her garden is an interesting place, it’s built on a rental home so that it is temporary, but it’s still full of love. I worked on a rock wall left half way finished and making a new planter, removing some broken glass and rubbish, trying to level the path down from the top to bottom of the hillside. We buried a bucket of bokashi into the soil, it was cool after taking out all the leaves and mass from pumpkins to be putting back into the soil. It was a nice day of the kids having fun and spending the day in a flow state, it was nice to see my friends have their house set up in a cozy and pretty way after seeing them move, it’s the only time I’ve really seen others move and settle in vs myself. Sometimes I don’t really settle into a place well since we moved a ton when I was growing up. I enjoy being myself around these friends since it’s been a year we have been hanging out they all know me pretty well. Kind of overspent on garden stuff at night. Ran an errand to Home Depot for my dad it felt like an olive branch, I do want things to be the best they can between us, I just don’t think that bar is going to be a high one.
Last Year to This Year
Last Year: I wanted to do a small garden fountain in a pot, I just got that done, it took just about a year… last year I had my husband and chickens living with me and took for granted how they added joy in my life. This pot was my whole garden at first when I lived in an apartment, it’s where I kept my lost babies urn, until that became lost too (I think my husband threw it away…) and now it’s a mosquito fish pond here in the front garden.
This Year: I don’t keep chickens anymore because my dad complained a lot about their poop, but this year the front of the house is covered with dog poop instead. It has been both difficult and rewarding living alongside my dad’s mess. On one hand I am permitted my garden projects that are messy, and on the other I can’t quite keep things within my comfort zone with the added housework.
2017 Outside Garden Pot to Grow Carrots, then Inside Garden Pot to grow Sweet Potato. I worked some OT for the pot rather than pay with money, it always felt a little more special because of that. It was a barter.
2022 After adding a pathway through the front area I wanted to do more and imagined a fountain area. I used thin weed cloth, which got totally overgrown, and pebbles that got all scattered around. I want to do pebbles again, but I want to lay concrete, mortar, or waterfall foam so that the pebbles won’t get scattered by wild chickens in our area. I put a stronger weed cloth in and cleaned out the pot.
The plans I had called for moving an old rock wall further back and moving the chocolate bamboo further back. Some bamboo died in the process, but that became a small toddler fence at my friend’s home.
This garden is where we grew pumpkins last fall (plus sunflowers and morning glories). It’s been slow going to work with the rocks and ginger and raspberry and level the hillside under bramble from Uluhe/Old World Forked Fern.
This was our first sunflower bloom, both the kids were happy. This garden exists in a living way, because it’s my daughter’s garden, it’s a play area, a learning area, a science area, a healing place to relax. I’ve learned that we belong to the garden more than it to us, but I’m happy we “own” the lot, so that my kids will be able to see what happens in each garden when they are much older. I never had a garden, nor a continuity of a garden, I’m sure it’s a good thing in your heart to see a garden, and know how it has looked over time. Drawing plans for it, and making them happen has made me feel like I have the power to build a better life (though it has been slow and hard).
Our “terrain” is lava rock so there isn’t any top soil, everything that has to get leveled is one rock at a time, everything that is dug is digging through rocks, then plant soil needs to be brought in.
So I use the rocks to build walls as I move them, but the process of digging them, moving them, stacking them, adds time to all the garden processes, then the weeds we get need to get cut back, but I’ve started laying thick weed cloth so that the weeds either don’t grow on pathways or at least are much smaller because growing through the cloth does keep their size down significantly when they do grow on top or through.
As I become more and more landscaper and less “gardener” I learn to mulch pathways so that I can walk to maintain the plants, this row of hedges came from a gift cutting and I grew it over a year or two? Then I clipped my own cuttings and some day we will have privacy after the last type of hedge plant failed to grow fast in our area… So I’m proud of these plants because that was the first time I had success with cuttings and actually my daughter grew the first “mother” plant.
Two months ago we installed this small play nook so my daughter had somewhere to be while I kept working on the front garden. Plastic is king for our area since the rain won’t ruin it and the mold can be washed off…
It took me about a year to get this far with this front garden, but there were a lot of improvements, in safety taking down the old wall that was unstable and putting up this one that is pretty stable, expanding the space so it isn’t clastiphobic, adding weed cloth and mulch does a lot towards making weeding faster even though weeds still come across or through to some extent, having a clear path makes it easier to apply ant or slug bait because you have a sense of where your perimeters between cultivation and ornamentals are. The copper tape has helped with slugs, but they do still crawl across when things create a pathway for them. As far as I know the mulch has neither worsened nor helped with slugs. I can envision that the bamboo growing back and the Mexican Sunflower hedge getting fuller will be really beautiful and help separate the garden from the front street.
Last year I wrote these project goals:
> Butterfly Garden Project 2022: Looking at the front garden plan trying to break down steps, 1. building the wall by the hedges to move the rock pile in the way of the bamboo as well as to define the front area. ✔️ 2. planting the bamboo
behind (in front of) the rock wall ✔️. 3. defining the area for the bamboo to grow into. ✔️ 3. weeding the garden beds/bamboo bed. ✔️ 4. putting down weed cloth and securing it in the paths. ✔️ 5. gathering and placing stone (mulch) in the pathway. ✔️ 6. planning a near by place for compost. ✔️ 7. trench for electrical. ⚒️ 8. placing fountain pot. ✔️ 9. Fill and assemble fountain. ✔️/⚒️ 10. Adjusting fountain possible water plants… ✔️ find a place to return outdoor toys… ✔️
> Butterfly Garden Project Update 2023: 1. Finish Fountain Feature, 2. Ask About Electrical from Lamp Post, 3. Start Milk Weed Starts.
Live – Lift – Love
Live – There were a lot of beautiful moments this week, it is a lot easier to feel that way when you are no longer sick. I’m settling into my own life again, I’m happy to be not fighting with my family even if they aren’t supportive we aren’t fighting, I’m happy to have a lot of love and support from my friends and I’m happy to have cooperation from my kids, they are starting to act like my team members and not my enemies… Especially teaching martial arts makes me feel alive, but so does the ocean, I’m trying not to cut out the things that I enjoy in life. It has helped a lot to write/blog because I notice in a deeper way what I really like, what I don’t like, and how I feel about things.
Lift – Teaching martial arts two parents said thank you and one checked out the Youtube practice video to maybe practice at home, so that was significant because those that practice at home will take home another level of skills and learning than those that don’t. Simply because without the home practice people tend to forget the blocks ext. I don’t always have interested students, but sometimes I do and that’s an honor to be the bridge between what kids WANT TO and what they CAN, I like to be that bridge when I can.
Love – I love my friends here, I ran into two at the cherry blossom festival and my kids got to play with theirs at the park and it was kind of special to see them in a new place. I’ve made more friends in 2 years since moving out of the city than I had combined in 35 years of living in the city. It was fun seeing one of my friends working selling her jewelry, I had been wanting to see her at work for awhile and it was just a surprise to see her work, it’s very pretty and the arrangement was very pretty as well. I’m so proud of the three jewelry making friends I have now, I would never do that or have a business, just like some people would never teach martial arts at the beach… We are different people, but we are learning to live our best lives together I think. I haven’t asked them, but I feel like they are in that state of being where you want to find your best life and working on changing what needs to change bit by bit to find a way forward.