Not the end of the world….

(I had many photos to share but WordPress doesn’t seem to allow that any more….)

“The Real Work”
It may be that when we no longer know what to do
we have come to our real work,
and that when we no longer know which way to go
we have come to our real journey.
The mind that is not baffled is not employed.
The impeded stream is the one that sings.
~~ Wendell Berry
“Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.” ~Picasso

July 7, ‘14
I came to a place more than a month ago where I emotionally ‘hit the wall.’ Moments after the crash, which felt physical, as if a sudden traffic accident, my phone rang – a friend, calling out of the blue….
I was still gasping for air from the sudden impact of hitting the wall. I answered the phone not knowing who it was because I’d also misplaced my glasses and couldn’t read the screen on my phone. From the ringtone, the caller had to be one of 4 people, all welcome, any one of whom I could talk to about my present state of mind. I told him about my sense of having crashed after hitting an immovable object at for
He told me that it wasn’t the end of the world.
I asked; just because it feels like the end of the world doesn’t mean that’s actually true?
No. This is not the end of the world.
I needed that reality check; for awhile, to me, it felt like the end of the world.
While I’ve been healing from the crash, sorting out the debris and making decisions about what goes where, what stays, what goes etc. I’ve been truly gladdened by my gardening efforts and another commissioned floor cloth. Once more, time after time, I’m reminded that Process is our/my most important product.
Garden: For such a tiny plot of land, I’m growing many things. The tomatoes are my focus, followed by Kale, carrots, beets, 2 hills of stringbeans, 1 burgeoning zucchini plant, 1 burgeoning butternut squash plant, 1 burgeoning cucumber plant, lettuce, arugula, parsley, 3 pepper plants and a few Swiss Chards. The season for peas is over and from the 15 seeds I planted in a window box container, I got 2 meals-worth peas. I also got a lot of knowledge about growing peas. In the future, I will grow them in the ground so the roots can go deep and the vines grow high. The 2 meals worth of peas tasted great. I cooked some but ate the rest straight from the pod.
The tomato seeds I planted and cared for since they were tiny wisps of seedlings are now muscular and assertive plants with thick and high stalks , healthy green leaves and many flowers and baby tomatoes. Having had such good luck growing tomatoes last year I planned to grow 5 plants in deep containers and hopefully have enough to put some by for the winter. I was unable to give away all of the seedlings I didn’t need, so they’re planted in the ground in the border garden I created at the edge of the sidewalk that surrounds my side of the house. There are also several ‘volunteers’, tomato plants growing in with the peas, that have sprung out of the compost from last year that I stirred into the soil for this year’s crop. So, plus the 5 growing Big Boys in containers I have 8 more Big Boys growing in the ground, all healthy and strong and also bearing flowers and fruit.

Sunflowers: For many years I’ve planted sunflowers in the hopes that by the end of August I’d have sunflowers for my birthday. For many years, my hopes have been dashed with the exception of a few scraggy sunflowers 3 years ago when I lived on Culvert St.
I’ve learned how to foil squirrels from digging up and eating the seeds by first sprouting the seeds and planting the sprouts when they’re strong. Apparently the squirrels aren’t as interested in sprouts and this method has worked well – so far. I have sunflowers planted in patches alongside the house where they get maximum sun and in many other areas in the garden where there’s a spot for them. I’ve planted a half dozen near the cucumbers in hopes that the cucumber will grow up the stalks. It’s too soon to tell if that will actually work, but I like the idea and will be watching with interest.
Raspberries: the raspberry patch growing in the front of the house is thicker this year and with the amount of small berries that are showing already, I may have as good a crop as there was last year. Early in the spring I cut out all the plants and trees growing in that patch to make room for raspberries so not only does it look neater, it’s also made room for more brambles and more berries. There was a lot of milkweed growing in the raspberry patch and I left those, hopefully they’ll be discovered by bees and Monarch butterflies. Across the sidewalk, on the other side of the front garden, I have a small patch of blackberries that will be soon ready for picking.

Floorcloth, Sunflowers on Blue:

7’.5” x 5’
This is one of the largest floor cloths I’ve ever done. It will cover and entire area in an existing pantry in a dark corner where there’s little natural light. I’m in hopes this will brighten up that corner, a bit. My client likes a similar floorcloth that I designed for myself years ago so I’m now doing one for her using the stencils and leaf patterns I made for me. Every now and then on this larger version I’ ve made larger sunflowers to make the overall pattern more interesting. I saved myself a lot of trouble and bought a quart of pre-mixed blue paint for the background and also bought a paint roller to save the time it would take to apply it with a 4” or 5” brush. At this point, it’s mostly done – after a few hours working on some details. I’ve found it easier to work on it flat on the floor – kind of a reverse Michaelangelo…. I’ve read of his discomfort with having to work many hours painting on a ceiling and know of my own discomfort from so much time working on the floor.
When I read the Wendell Berry poem a few days ago I had a moment of Acceptance and understanding that gave me a measure of peace and comfort.
I don’t know where I’m going or what I’m doing and accept that where I am and what I’m doing is my real work, my real journey. My mind is certainly baffled, and I can testify to the fact that it’s highly ‘employed’. The song from my impeded stream is loud and clear and offers me much hope.

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5 Responses to Not the end of the world….

  1. beetleypete says:

    Hi Gretchen. I was able to view a small picture of your painting at the bottom of the e mail, and it looks very good.
    I was sorry to hear about your ‘wall-hitting’, and I can understand a little of how you feel. Back in 2012, my Mum died, I retired from work, and moved 130 miles away from London, all over a period of less that three weeks. For some time, I was also ‘lost’, and had little idea what to do, or where I was going. It has taken those two years to give me some focus back.
    I was sorry we couldn’t see a photo of you sunflower cloth, as that was one of my favourites.
    Very best wishes from England, Pete.

  2. I don’t see you should have prob posting photos on WP. I have image on desktop then go to WP dashboard, posts, add new, add media, upload file (from desktop list) insert into post.

    Have done a little “on the side of the apartment” gardening. Seems like you are not having problem but I never plant tomatoes with the rest as they attract every pest around which hurts the other plants which in my experience have fewer pests with no tomato plants around. A very good home made organic pesticide I used was to put 3 cigarette butts in a water spray bottle and let set a day or two until water color of tea. Kills the bugs and spray every few days keeps them away and nicotine does not affect leaves or fruit. Also always kept sunflower stalks tied to tall sticks throughout growing.

    World over? Crash? Completed my 4th week of radiation for prostate cancer Friday. More to go and other treatment too. Hell, I am determined to rise above it . Shuckins – I’ve got plans with which I can allow no interference.

    I would like to see floor cloth samples. Please send Perhaps guest post my blog. Lemme know.

    • Thank you so much for your comment.

      I’m not having too much trouble with any kind of pests in my garden this year. I planted marigolds around my tomatoes and keep the base of the stalk free of leaves. I’ve read somewhere that nicotine is one of the best insect repellents around and appreciate your recipe. I also read somewhere that nicotine ashes are a good insect repellent on squash vines, so have been emptying ash trays into the base part of the vines every few days and it seems to work so far as I have yet to see the signs of squash borers.

      As you with your ‘crash’ I’m constantly determined to rise above mine. I’m sorry that you’ve been battling prostate cancer and glad you’re doing so well. All in all, we both seem to have much to be grateful for and the will to keep doing the best we can with what we have and keep on surviving crashes. I wish you the best.

      I’ve attached a Word document that has photos of many floorcloths I’ve done in the recent past. It’s not very professional, but then again, I’m not a professional floorcloth person, just an artist who can sometimes make a few bucks doing a floorcloth for a person who enjoys them. Or as a gift to a friend.

      On Sat, Jul 19, 2014 at 10:07 AM, Process; our most important product wrote:


  3. Did you send these pics? If so I must have missed email.

  4. Kathy says:

    Gretchen, sorry to hear you had an emotional wall-hitting. Hope things are doing better now. Blessings to you.

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