13 May 2012

Breakfast Together Twenty-Seven Years Later

The other week I attended a breakfast honoring all the new Eagle Scouts in our Scouting District. Seated at the table with us was a man with his wife and son. Turns out Ron S. and I graduated from the same big suburban high school in 1985. Neither of us recalled the other. We laughed and said we’d have to dig out our year books. 

As we sorted out the garage this week, deciding what to trash, donate or move with us Mr. W unearthed the plastic tote with our yearbooks. Yes, we’ve schlepped these book with us on every move (expect to Germany where they stayed in government storage stateside). Silly as the only time we look at them is when we pop open the box and skims through them each time we move. I pulled out the book for my senior year, flipped the pages and there smack next to my photo, the last two on the page, sat Ron S. Not a glimmer of recognition at seeing his youthful face. Yeah, it was the same guy I ate breakfast with, but as far as I know our paths never crossed twenty-seven years ago. 

What funny twist and turns it took for Ron and I after we crossed that graduation stage those many years ago (I with about sixteen moves and having lived in five states and Europe) to end up in Portland, Oregon having breakfast together. 

me 1985

06 May 2012

Bloom Where You're Planted

When I lived in Germany eighteen years ago a friend gave me a magnet that says, “bloom where you're planted”. Since then that magnet has hung on fridges in eight different homes. In each place I know I’ve blossomed and I hope at the same time I’ve planted seeds that helped someone else blossom too. 

Six weeks ago I started taking a permaculture class, some call it urban homesteading, with my friend MJ. My purpose was twofold – to see in action and learn better how to create the vision I have for my two acre property and to become better friends with a woman I greatly admire. Both those points were accomplished, but little did I know when the class started what all would transpire over those few weeks.

Midway through the course Mr. W and I got word his job was transferring him to a new city. This move would take me from the Pacific Northwest to the high desert, a climate I am physically and socially unfamiliar with. I will be living in suburbia possibly on a lot as large as a half acre which though big by suburban standards is much smaller than my current environment. As each class unfolded I learned topics I could apply to my yet unselected new home: water catchment systems (which will be very necessary in the new place), bee and animal keeping on small lots, strategies for working with close neighbors and more. We explored our instructors lot, every inch bursting with something useful or beautiful or both. I know my new home will be a fairly generic suburban lot, but I can envision the space transformed.

I could be overwhelmed, being transplanted again, but instead I am calm. Putting down roots doesn’t have to happen overnight. As our instructor said when she the look of dismay on some of the students faces, “you don’t need to transform your space all at once. Pick a small patch of lawn to remove, plant a few things then later expand it a bit. Piece by piece a lot can be changed.”

The last night of class I took pictures of the instructor’s property. The last spot I photographed was a somewhat triangular shaped bed, running about six feet on two sides with a curvy hypotenuse. The straight sides lined a public side walk and the driveway. The bed is filled with artichoke, germanium, some rhubarb, an apple tree and several other plants.

“I can do that,” I said to MJ as we looked over this bed. “In my new place, I can start with a useful corner.”

She smiled. “I like that, a useful corner.” 

I fingered a leaf and breathed slow and deep because I know it is true, one can bloom wherever you are planted. 

a useful corner