I've been enjoying all the wonderful blooms from the garden lately, and the beginning vegetables. Picked these lovely sweet peas (love them because they only last a day or two, and they only bloom for a short while but are so lovely!). This year, I'm trying to find my asparagus.
We'd let the garden from years past get overrun. (Truth? I planted 5 horseradish plants and it took over). Successive helpers continued rototilling it until I had bits of horseradish, probably 200 plants coming up all over.
It took a man 2 days to dig them all up last year. I have still a few that pop up, but they are manageable.
So now I'm discovering my asparagus! I had some beautiful purple giant ones coming up before, and I've seen 2-3 so far this year. My famous saying is: My Garden Isn't Dead. It's Sleeping.
So, when I was picking sweet peas this morning, I got the little asparagus tip too. It will make it to my dinner plate tonight…
Hope you are enjoying your Memorial Day. Remembering all the things we get to have and experience because others stepped up and made the sacrifice. Can't say thank you enough. Our
flag is sometimes tattered, like our gardens that are barren and overrun with weeds, but if we continue to remember those sacrifices and never lose the passion in our lives, the bloom of new life will always return.
|Sitting with Mr. Turner and Bonnie McClung Chappa, 2006|
I am coming up on a big reunion this summer. We were the first graduating class of Gunn High School in Palo Alto. I was one of the twelve students selected to be on a committee to set up our school. We chose our mascot, set up the Student Government, made all sorts of decisions and selected some we wanted the student body to vote on when we started in the fall.
Prior to attending Gunn, our class was split in two. Some went to Palo Alto High, and some went to Cubberly. We started our new adventure as Juniors, with a Sophomore class beneath us. By the time we graduated, Gunn had all three years in place.
There were lots of firsts that occurred, and now looking back some 50 years, I can hardly believe the time has gone so fast. It's been fun chatting online with friends I knew way back then, reconnected with at various reunions over the years as our careers took off and our families grew. Some of us went on to do great things in politics and business and other fields.
Sadly, there are nearly twenty of us who have moved on to their next life, or so I believe. I've written about two of my classmates before. Naomi Solomon, who was our Valedictorian and who was giving a speech to a group of women during a breakfast fundraiser to help women re-enter the work force the day of 9-11. I watch her name come up on my TV screen nearly every year. In 2015, there was a rainbow shown over the city as her name was broadcasted and read.
Another one of our students worked for the U.N. in Algeria, “I take a little piece of California with me back to Algeria – this was one of the greatest years of my life,” he told me at our reunion ten years ago. Brought his whole family over so we could meet them. Chad was killed in the terrorist bombing in Algiers in 2007, a year later.
Growing a novel is like working the garden. Fertile soil yields all the nutrients needed to feed a good story, with room for twists and subplots. No matter how fast I wish it to go, each story takes as long as it takes to develop, for the roots to grow and take hold. Very much like putting young plants out when they are leggy from their careful start, into the unforgiving real world of the garden. There is a pause, a few days or perhaps a week or two, and then the new shoots come, as the plant matures and begins to thrive. It grows organically, out of the ICU and into the regular population.
Gardening teaches me patience. Sometimes working on stories is like trying on clothes in a cramped dressing room, other times it's like a time travel to a different time and space. My characters are somewhat a mystery to me as they reveal themselves, even though I've thought out in advance what I want them to be. They stray….or as was said so well, life finds a way.
I used to love watching my baby chicks hatch. The eggs were blue and green, pink and violet. I usually chose the colored ones to let the hens hatch, but the outside of the shell didn't always determine what color or breed of chick would be contained inside. It was always a surprise to see what nature decided should be born into that egg, and then to watch it grow. I had usually three or four roosters so the cross-breeding was fun with some spectacular results.
This year I did the no-no of planting all my corn, all three varieties (two yellow sweet and one ruby red sweet) together. I've been told this isn't wise, but I decided to test those rules. Will I have half red and half yellow corn? Yellow corn with red sprinkles? Or red corn with yellow dots? I'll let you know.
My potatoes are up. My peas are beginning to vine and climb up the fence, as are my early beans. I've clipped off the first fruits of my squashes, and the heads of snapdragons so the plant will be bushier and yield more fruit, more flowers later on. Sacrifice some for later bounty. Work to weed for the blessings that come from the garden health. Add the ladybugs and praying mantis and let them multiply. My eggplant hasn't grown a bit, telling me I was too early with it. A couple of my tomatoes are like that too. The lettuce loves this early summer, as does the dinosaur kale, cabbage and onions. My dogs have caught several moles but we have a huge gopher in the rear yard they cannot get to. I keep forcing onion bulbs down his hole and he keeps shoving them out. I'm hoping he'll tire of the game and move on somewhere else before he discovers my corn, and especially my potatoes.
|My collage True Love Heals in the Gardens of the Heart|
Like a quilt, or tapestry, the different varieties of the garden grow at different speeds, just like my characters and my stories. When it takes shape and gets polished, which is where I'm at today, it starts to get very exciting. But there's always the element of wonder, even to myself as the writer, what will happen.
Just like gardening, it is work, but it also is a calling.
What do you learn from the garden?
I think our family had given up hope that Don and I would have children. The pointed questions had stopped. Now we heard, “So, what's new, anything?” I was attending Court Reporting school in San Francisco, and had a part time job typing medical dictation for a doctor's group near U.C. Their ultrasound machine had just been repaired and they needed a guinea pig, so I drank the gallon of water and hopped on the table. My boss walked in and asked me if I had news I wanted to tell him, and I didn't have the faintest idea what he was talking about. He confirmed that the little thing less than the size of an olive was going to be my first born. Our son.
Happy Mother's Day to all of you, and to all of you who are honored to help a mother celebrate her special day by saying thanks.
My freshman year in college I attended Lewis & Clark College in Portland. There were a lot of firsts that year, the biggest one being my first year living away from home for more than a camping trip or church ski event.
Thinking ourselves so incredibly grown up, my roommate and I were daring ourselves all sorts of things. For the most part, we did them. I took off my bra in my International Affairs class and tossed it at the person I was required to. This was all done when the professor, the legendary Carlin Capper-Johnson, who had been a close personal friend of Winston Churchill, was out of the room.
I wore a nightgown to a concert.
I think Melissa had to moon someone from a friend's room overlooking the entrance to our dorm. We both marched ourselves down to the infirmary and got birth control pills, because we were on a mission of another sort too. Both of us had very mixed results.
We'd lay on our beds and look up at the ceiling and wonder who we'd fall in love with, who we'd marry, what our life would look like. We'd listen to Rod McKuen and think about finding someone that would love us so deeply, and never go away.
I spent an evening with the guys of Sandpipers (Guantanamera), who came to perform at the spring concert, and had to crawl back into my room at night. I got the job of cleaning the basement that Saturday because someone turned me in. But it was magical! I hear that song so often these days, and wonder what happened to them all. They were nice guys.
In high school I met Joan Baez at a friend's house in Palo Alto. The dreamer in me thought I could sing just like her. I love the music of Sweet Sir Galahad came in through the window in the night when the moon was in yard…I can't tell you how many times I've sung this in the shower. Probably 2000 or more. And here's to the dawn of their days… Just love the lyrical expression of this singer. Made me take up guitar for about 2 minutes… But the voice in my heart is still there, even though I can't sing like that. I still want to…and do you think I'll fail at every single thing I try.
Sweet Sir Galahad went down with his gay bride of flowers, the prince of the hours of her lifetime.
And here's to the dawn of their days….
Ah, those days when I was barely over twenty, when I had my whole life ahead of me, looking through clouds, looking for that thing that's hardest to find, looking for love even then…