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Growing Up, Growing Older, Growing Wiser: Growing

Posted by on 02 Jul 2017 | Tagged as: fun, garden, Giving, good things

I have always been a gardener, I think — I love to be IN gardens, I love to TALK “gardens,” and I love to CREATE gardens.

There is a strange shift, however, when one moves away from “gardens” with annuals and shorter-lived perennials to plants that could conceivably be enjoyed by people two or three HUNDRED years away. There is a sense of hopefulness and eternity when one plants a tree, or a rose bush. There is a sense of purpose when one cultivates fruit trees alongside carrots or strawberries.

When I was a child, we ALWAYS had a vegetable garden (at least after I turned 7, we didn’t have a garden in Puerto Rico, or when we lived on base anywhere that I know). My grandfathers (2 out of 3) always had a vegetable garden, and my Grandad made sure that there were gorgeous flowers as well.

As a young adult, I grew things in pots, and at a couple apartment complexes, had permission to take a small bit of land at the margins, too.

One of the first things we did when we moved to this land, was to plant trees… apple, pear, plum, cherry, peach, dogwood, fig, medlar, chestnut. Many of the trees were planted to provide shade for the land that had previously been forested, knowing that as they grew they would create an oasis of cool green during our typically dry summers. We didn’t restore the “natural” landscape, but carved out a small space for favorite specimens from around the world. We left the back yard “mostly” natural…

My sons grew up knowing plants. I taught them the healing properties and health benefits of the plants in our yard including the native plants and weeds! They still know how to prune, when to harvest, proper preparation for cooking, and a lot about planting and maintaining gardens from one-season crops to tender perennials/hardy annuals to permanent plantings.

I had planned to have the yard to a point by now when I could safely get about even with a wheelchair, but as we know that didn’t happen! Instead, I am rethinking many things about the less-permanent plants, and attempting to re-establish both irrigation and garden beds. Growing older has meant that I cannot garden as intensely as once-upon-a-time, but I hope I am starting to show the children of the next generation that with planning and a lot of hard work at the beginning that gardening yields huge rewards.

I have learned much from the plants (and the animals) in my small world: take your time, don’t cut corners if they yield an inferior or less-durable result, rest as you need (still working on this), sometimes “things happen” and like it or not plans must change, gardens are best enjoyed with other people, and one needs to be patient – you don’t rush genius! I am still working on that last bit as well!

As a teacher, I have a lot less time and energy to garden. But I bring my gardener’s mind and experience into the classroom. Remembering that children are growing, but so are adults. We are not “finished” products yet! The garden continues to grow, to evolve, to become “more” — and so will we.

Bright blessings from our garden on this cool, overcast Salish Sea morning!

Occupy the New Year: A Challenge

Posted by on 30 Dec 2011 | Tagged as: caring, citizenship, Family Matters, Gardens and Life, Giving, good things, Making a Difference, Peace Making, Politics and War, social justice, Uncategorized

This is a good time to dedicate ourselves to making the world a better place. Rather than focusing on self-centered goals at this time for resolutions (lose weight, clean out the garage, exercise more), why not choose one specific project that will help many people?

For example, this is an election year. If you are eligible to vote but aren’t registered, register! If you find yourself feeling powerless, assert your power: write to your elected officials, volunteer in a campaign (whether for a politician or a cause, you can help spread the word about something you are passionate about, even from behind the scenes and even if you are not eligible to vote), attend rallies and opportunities to meet the candidates. Do you attend your school district’s board meetings? Some things they do are mundane, others affect how the school interacts with the community. Do you know who your school board members are? Or your public (utility-port-library…) district’s board members? Do you know what budget or project issues they are discussing?

Obviously, no one person can keep track of everything or participate in everything. But every person can keep track of something, and participate in some way, whether eligible to vote or not. Not everyone can attend rallies, not everyone can write letters, not everyone can run for office. But everyone can be creative and realistic about volunteering time and talents!

In the United States, while corporations are adept at purchasing face time and favors with politicians, the people still have a great deal of influence, if they choose to wield it.

A democracy functions best when all the people make their wishes, dreams and needs known.

I have friends who volunteer at the food bank, who volunteer in schools, as firefighters, for political causes… each one of these people makes a difference in the lives of many others in the community. And in the process, their work expresses their values.

How will you choose to occupy your time in the new year?

How will you express your values in the world?

How will your life this year make things better for other people?

I am thinking over my possibilities. I will definitely continue volunteering at my local school as I have time and energy… is there one more thing I can add? I lack monetary security that would let me donate money to organizations and causes I believe in. Perhaps I can use my writing ability more productively to support them. I always vote, but I think this year I will write to one of my elected officials on a cause I am passionate about (education!). I also hope to have a productive garden this summer, and to donate some of the foods we grow to the local food bank. I want to be more consistent in keeping in touch with some of my friends who aren’t in the same spheres as my daily life. Keeping my resolutions to a reasonable list is the hardest part. But I think I will stop there so I don’t feel overwhelmed.

LATE Blog Action Day…

Posted by on 29 Oct 2011 | Tagged as: blog action, caring, economy, environment, food, Gardens and Life, Giving, good things, Green Living, Uncategorized

I was so distracted by the trip I took this month that I completely forgot to post for Blog Action Day (which was on October 16).  So here is what I would have said, had I been less distracted, and more alert.

Food is good.  Next to air and water, it’s an essential.  And yet, too many people around the world, and in my own country which is known for abundance, have too little to eat.

It’s not just that they can’t afford the food, sometimes it is that food that nourishes is simply unavailable, as in many places where drought, flood and other weather problems have destroyed the crops or livestock on which people depend. It may be that there is abundant growth in the fields, but not food crops: many farms have switched to corn and other plants that are used in fuel rather than as food. And, it may be that the food that is grown locally is shipped elsewhere, around the world, so that the local people don’t have access.

Could it be that there is really too little food for our world? We just passed the 7-billion-person mark. That’s more than twice as many people now alive on earth than there were when I was born. About 1.5 billion new people since my children were born. Check out the BBC’s online app “What Number are You?” I read today that by mid-century there will be as many people just in urban areas as were in the entire world about 100 years ago. That is, to me, a startling, alarming idea. People in cities generally lack the ability to grow food at all — they must rely on outside sources, so they are more vulnerable to fluctuations in supply, and more vulnerable to unscrupulous sellers who charge premiums on the foods that are available for sale.

What can we do to provide food for more people? We are learning – too late – that when the climate changes we have very little ability to prevent weather-related crop losses. We are learning – too late – that when cropland is converted to industrial zones or suburbia it is very expensive and sometimes impossible to go back. We are learning – too late – that the more people there are on earth, the harder it is to keep fuel costs (both monetary and environmental) down, and the more expensive food and other necessities become.

We are also learning that sometimes the old ways (pre-industrial) work best: Ranchers are returning to free-range practices that restore and preserve grasslands; farmers are returning to no-till (very labor intensive) and organic farming practices which can restore and maintain soil structure and health; urban people are beginning to think about living locally, eating what is in season rather than importing foods from around the world. We are learning that good food, healthy food needs to be available from an early age, so that children learn to eat and prepare healthy food and to avoid or minimize consumption of less-healthy food. We are learning that sometimes less can be more, when we eat foods closer to their natural state without added sugars and salts we tend to be healthier.

I don’t have answers, or even any real suggestion this year. I do have a desire to make this world livable for my children and the rest of the planet. What can I do in my own life to promote healthy food for more people? When I grow food in my garden I can give some of it away to the food bank, necessary now more than at any other time in my life. When I prepare foods for my family I can use in-season, less-processed foods (which are both less expensive and healthier). When I participate in public debate about land use I can advocate for both open spaces and public gardens so more people can grow part of their own food. I can support organizations that help people in weather-stricken areas to eat for now and reclaim their croplands as soon as possible.

I can do little things. If we all do little things, together, we can make a big difference in the health of the rest of the world.

Sometimes, a little bit of publicity can save a life

Posted by on 07 Oct 2011 | Tagged as: caring, citizenship, Giving, good things, health, illness, Uncategorized

And if my half-dozen readers aren’t “a little bit” I don’t know what is!

I was alerted to a pressing need for a bone marrow donor through Seth Godin’s blog.

Here is the post that caught my attention: Eliminating the impulse to stall.

And here is the website for Amit Gupta who desperately needs a donor.

If this finds a donor for Amit, or raises awareness of the pressing need for donors of all kinds, then my blog has done its job today.


Amit found a donor and has had the surgery. Now he needs to recover and get used to being healthy again. I hope the transplant “takes” and that Amit will have a long and happy life.

Taking care of little things

Posted by on 09 Apr 2009 | Tagged as: caring, citizenship, Giving, good things, Making a Difference, Uncategorized

I make a conscious effort to cause the least amount of pain to others that I can. I know sometimes I fail. And I know that the worms trapped on pavement that I toss back onto the soil after a rain probably aren’t grateful, if they are even aware that their situation has changed…

But I am certain it is important to do what one can.

I have a friend who is a veterinarian, who often helps animals whose owners “dump” them when they become too old or too ill or injured. Animals that still have a lot of living and love in them. Right now, there is a pomeranian puppy who needs surgery on a leg, but no funding. His name is Rascal. My friend is trying to save his leg, but it will be without a working knee even if she can save it.

She can’t afford to pay his costs this time, so I am making a small donation. Thought I would do what I can to help get him the help he needs. He will be up for adoption when he is well enough.

Wayward Creatures Relief Agency
2845 Wrights Valley Rd
Chewelah, WA 99109

A webpage for Rascal is at:

Next Steps

Posted by on 20 Jan 2009 | Tagged as: caring, citizenship, economy, friends, fun, Gardens and Life, Giving, good things, hope, Making a Difference, parenting, politics, Politics and War, poverty, social justice, teaching, Uncategorized

Well, after the partying is done and the confetti is swept up, after the last tourists have returned to their homes and life in D.C. resumes its normal frenetic pace, the president, his administration, congress and the people need to get on with life. The rest of us… we need to get on with life, too.

We were all urged, during the president’s first official speech after his swearing in, to be willing to go the extra mile, to do more, to demonstrate that, while the citizens of the United States have many good things, they are also tough enough to do the right thing. Like my grandparents, who were young adults during the Great Depression, we need to focus on the really important things in life, pull together and support each other, and do what we can.

I don’t know about you, but I was motivated by this. I had been putting off finishing the readings for my homework this week — and finishing the short paper that is due tomorrow. I decided that, blurry vision or no (I have an eye infection that makes it hard to process what I am seeing), I could do this. So I did. The readings are done, the paper nearly so (just tying up loose ends).

What else can I do? I will meet in a couple days with a student I normally see on Monday because the holiday meant we didn’t have a chance to work together and I don’t want to go two full weeks. I will meet for a snack with a friend on Friday. I will spend some time tomorrow looking for my address book so I can send out some new year’s notes. Connecting with people seems to be a good thing to do right now.

And next? Try to figure out a way to study for the next set of tests I will take… contact the school to be sure I am on the right track with my studies. Get my financial aid form filled out as soon as our current year’s taxes are complete. Clean out the closet, finding the clothes that I no longer wear that may yet be useful to others. Get the rest of the bookshelves up on the walls so I can walk around the house in bare feet again — the boxes of books are a bit in the way. And pick up the knitting needles and the rest of that large skein of yarn…

These sound like such baby steps. But they are important, to my productivity and to my family and friends, and to the people in my community. I am not likely ever to make a direct difference in the life of somebody in Africa or Asia, or even on the other side of Washington state, but perhaps if this corner of the world is a little better because of my actions, then the rest of the world will follow.

Our children are watching us! Are we teaching them how to take charge of less-than desirable situations and make the best of them that we can? Or are we teaching them how to complain and wait for rescue (remember the princesses in Shrek III)? We don’t have to solve everything today, or overnight, we just have to make a start.

The next steps are the first steps.

Supporting our Youth

Posted by on 25 Nov 2008 | Tagged as: celebrations, children, education, Giving, good things, Interesting Websites, Making a Difference, reading, school, social justice, Uncategorized, writing

I LOVE the way WITS (Writers in the Schools), based in Houston, Texas, supports and promotes literacy and writing. I periodically visit this blog that has a poem written by a child each day. There is so much talent, so much sharing that goes on! It makes my mama/teacher/writer/human heart glad.

Today only (Nov 25) there is a contest for people that will give an gift certificate to a random reader who mentions a poem they have enjoyed reading on the WITS blog.

WITS – A Poem a Day

Finding one’s voice is a major goal of growing up. WITS provides children with an opportunity to learn from published authors and participate in activities that help them develop their voice.

Want to get involved but don’t live near a WITS program? This is an idea that might encourage you: find a local school — or a library — with a need for adults to read with children, a need for people to listen to children read. Half an hour a week… or every other week. Take some time. Make a Difference.

Stidkid #1 and the Big Brass Band

Posted by on 16 Oct 2008 | Tagged as: children, citizenship, education, Family Matters, fun, Gardens and Life, Giving, good things, Uncategorized

Well, it’s not the best title, it was actually four trumpeters and their conductor from the student orchestra. They played a couple lovely baroque fanfares for an event downtown that promotes after-school activities.

Not sure what the piece was, will try to remember to ask the kiddo tomorrow. He’s the one on the left, btw, the teacher is on the right.

I am proud of my child for many reasons, the music is, of course, beautiful. But this was an extra activity, with no extra benefits — something to enhance the community. THIS is the sort of citizen we need in our world. Someone who helps in the ways they can, in the local sphere, to bring pleasure or assistance to others.

Well done, stidkid!

Blog Action Day — Poverty

Posted by on 15 Oct 2008 | Tagged as: blog action, citizenship, economy, editorial, education, Family Matters, Gardens and Life, Giving, good things, Green Living, health, hope, Interesting Websites, musings, parenting, Peace Making, politics, Politics and War, poverty, social justice, Uncategorized

Okay, I have posted a few links in the days leading up to today. As I was thinking about what to write, I decided to talk about what poverty is (and what it isn’t). And a little bit on abundance. This is my own perspective/opinion, if it helps you, great — if not… would love to hear your opinions, too.

I think that poverty is partly defined by what one lacks, and is also partly a matter of perspective. I’ll start with the second point first: in our area, most families have at least two cars, few students get free or reduced lunches, and at least in my acquaintance most people have health insurance. So a family with only one car, whose children receive free lunches and doesn’t have health insurance appears poor. But in another community I have lived in that isn’t that far away, few people own more than one beat-up car, no one has health insurance and nearly every child gets a free school lunch. In that community, the family with two cars that has to pay full price for school lunches appears well off. Obviously, if everyone around you doesn’t have enough to eat then you are all poor…

Perspective can cause you to “feel” rich, or to “feel” poor.
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Blog Action Day -2

Posted by on 14 Oct 2008 | Tagged as: blog action, caring, citizenship, economy, Gardens and Life, Giving, good things, hope, Making a Difference, Peace Making, politics, Politics and War, poverty, Uncategorized

I think I have linked to this site in the past, but it’s a good illustration of the spread and impact of poverty around the globe.

It’s not just “over there” — it’s here, and there, and there, and there, and here…

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