Thursday, July 19, 2012

where do we go from here?

The universe has been sending challenges our way this month; that's my view of it, anyway. I like to see things that way; it keeps me feeling as if there is something I can do. Doing something is very important to me; I like to act. I don't like it when I think that there's nothing I can do in a given situation. Doing something makes me feel that I can change the things I don't like. And so I act. I try to fix things.

But maybe the universe isn't just sending a message to those in danger; maybe it's sending a message to me, too. Maybe there isn't anything I can do; maybe I can't make things change, and maybe I can't make change a requirement of my happiness and peace of mind.

That's my lesson, and it's a hard one. It's one I don't want to learn; it's one I don't even want to consider learning. But I can't go around saying that the universe is telling us stuff and not listen to what it is telling me.

Even though it is true that someone I love is in danger unless changes are made, I can't make those changes happen. That's not a new revelation; the danger has been present for years, and my inability to change things has been shown to me over and over again. But it escalated this month; and I desperately want to be able to make those changes happen. The danger is so real, so present, and so visible to me; I can't believe that there is any other way of looking at it.

And that's when my reality clock started ticking . . . I've been on the other side of righteousness.

Nearly a year ago, a friend of mine needed me to change. She very clearly stated her terms, and I couldn't (wouldn't) make the changes she wanted me to make. These changes were very important to her; she did not want to remain friends with me unless I made them. I accepted her decision, and we parted ways. I don't regret not making those changes; she was asking me to be someone I didn't want to be. I thought her conditions were unfair, and I was hurt and angry that she didn't want me in her life unless I would be the person she wanted me to be. Why couldn't she just accept me the way I am? What's so terrible about me the way I am? Why should I have to be what she wanted me to be in order to be friends?

And now I must ask those questions of myself.

There aren't any guarantees, are there? While a dangerous lifestyle certainly increases the risk of getting hurt - or dead - pain, death, and disaster can also be random events, impacting even the most careful of us. No matter how well we arrange our world - no matter how much we do - things happen. I can't keep the people I love safe, I can't make them change, even when the changes I want are probably good ones. And I can't not love them, even when I don't like the choices they are making.

Open arms. Today, I will live with open arms.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Waiting for the cows to come home

Our town has a rich agricultural heritage; farming and ranching are big here, and have been since the town's beginnings.

We're surrounded by cattle ranches; cattle graze on the hillsides year-round, and once a year, a few of them get to come into town for a symbolic cattle drive from the highway to the fairgrounds. We live along their route; it's a short walk down the street, and how could I be this close and not go take a look?

The cattle drive was scheduled to start at 10:00 am, so I set out a few minutes early to make sure I wouldn't miss it. It's not a very big cattle drive, I knew it would go by quickly; it's symbolic, remember?

There were lots of people walking down the street; most of them had kids with them. Thre were a few school-age kids, but mostly, they were toddlers. My kids are fully grown now, so I was kidless; at moments like these, I can't help thinking that I need grandkids. Not to rush my own kids, I had fun chatting with other peoples' kids, but it would have been fun to have a cute little grand baby or two in tow.

The cows were late; around 11:30 they finally came into view. Bored, whiny kids who were missing their naps suddenly snapped to attention: Cows! Horses! Cowboys! Cowgirls! 

It was big excitement for about 10 minutes, and then it was over. But it was worth it. I had a great time, and the looks on the kid's faces were priceless. 

I figure a new generation of cowboys and cowgirls were created this morning; I fully expect to see some of the toddlers in attendance driving cattle in 15-20 years.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Iron Irises

A couple of years ago, my sister gave me a box containing a couple of dozen iris corms from her garden. We were still working on our garden and I didn't know where I really wanted them to go, so I planted them in a corner that wasn't yet occupied and forgot about them.

They thrived, and outgrew their corner.

I was advised to divide them; just dig up the clumps, cut off the "daughter plants" from the "mother plants" (what a thing to tell a mom who is this close to having an empty nest) and plant the daughters in their new location.

Sadly, the mother plants were to be thrown away; my iris mentor said I should toss them in the compost heap and congratulate them on job well done. I wasn't totally comfortable with that idea, but I promised to follow her instructions and be a good iris grower.

Little did I know how promiscuous those iris mothers had been. Or how ruthlessly I would deal with them after carefully digging up and dividing the first few clumps.

Each and every one of those original irises had managed to produce a bumper crop of daughters; 15-25 each would be my conservative estimate. After carefully separating and trimming the first 25 daughters from their mothers, I realized (with a certain amount of horror) that I was now looking at a pile about the size of that original box of iris corms. If I were to continue dividing and planting, I would have enough irises to plant our entire yard, which is already pretty well planted, thank you very much. I had prepared two small sections of the hill for these irises; sure, there's more hill that I could prepare, but I was beginning to see myself in a bizarre version of The Sorcerer's Apprentice if I didn't do something drastic.

And then I thought of the ditch.

We have a good-sized ditch running across the back of our yard; last spring, I cleared the weeds from it, but we hadn't planted anything there, because there really isn't any way to irrigate it, and California gardens thrive on irrigation.

My iris mentor had told me that there was a chance that irises could survive without irrigation in my yard; this year, we will find out. I stopped dividing and begun digging up great clumps, which I wheel-barrowed over to the ditch and planted, more or less. Let's just draw a curtain over that scene and say that they were not coddled.

So, I say, "Let the Iron Iris Contest Begin!"

If these don't survive, I have no doubt that there will be many new contenders in a couple of years.