The horse's pasture to the East...

Wednesday, June 3, 2015


Several years ago, perhaps because I was lazy or because resolutions were one of those things I tossed aside a few weeks in to the new year, I decided to choose one word as my goal rather than a list. At the time I thought I was being terribly clever. I was saving time. No more agonizing over lists that made me feel like a looser from the beginning. I would choose a word, post it in three places so I see it everyday and move on without a care in the world. I was footloose and fancy free. Only I wasn't.  

I started with a word like BREATH. The next year it was SMILE. And it went on like that, one year after the next. It also turned out that I spent more time on selecting that one word than I ever did on writing sentences . Focusing on one word and following through, making it fit in to the context of my life was hard, truly and genuinely difficult. How do you interpret a word like BREATH? Something we do without thinking about every minute of every 24 hours for the entire time we inhabit our body. 

Oh, the agony. I was, unintentionally, becoming a philosopher. When you focus on one word and try to follow through on it every day it becomes a profound experience, almost a religion. One year it was FOCUS, the next LAUGH. You see the pattern don't you? It was a true yin and yang. I was trying to balance myself one year at a time. COMMIT, JOY and ... wait. Let's go back to that word, COMMIT. 


, transitive
  1. To do, perform, or perpetrate: commit a murder.
  2. To put in trust or charge; entrust: commit oneself to the care of a doctor; commit responsibilities to an assistant.
  3. To consign for future use or for preservation: We must commit the necessary funds for the project.
  4. To place officially in confinement or custody, as in a mental health facility.
  5. To put into a place to be disposed of or kept safe: committed the manuscript to the flames.
  6. a. To make known the views of (oneself) on an issue: I never commit myself on such issues.
    b. To bind, obligate, or devote, as by a pledge: They were committed to follow orders. She committed herself to her art.
  7. To refer (a legislative bill, for example) to a committee.
, intransitive
To pledge, obligate, or devote one's own self: felt that he was too young to commit fully to marriage.
Origin of commit
Middle English committen, from Latin committere : com-com- + mittereto send.

And that's the simple form of the definition. Some of the definitions I found went on for pages. Still, it was a word I used a few years back. It came along after FOCUS. And I've kept copies of all of the words on my bulletin board over my desk and on the wall in my studio too. Each time I add another word I string together a set of ideals that become increasingly challenging to stick to.

COMMIT was a word I used with my sons when they were growing up. If you say you're going to do something, understand that you're in it for the long haul. In kid's language that's usually a semester commitment to something like baseball or soccer. If you sign up for it you can't back out even if you don't like it. (the one exception to that was football. I went to watch a first practice and a second. These were little kids and the so called coach was working those kids until they passed out or threw up. Huh uh. No way. A game should be just that for children, a game. None of this para military crap. Making a child dangerously ill during practice in August in Kansas was unacceptable. ) A commitment was a promise to complete a task and that included learning how to push yourself through something that wasn't what you expected until you found a better choice or solution. Finish for your own sake as well as the person or animal, team or project's . "Make it so!" if you want to get Trekie about it.

You're wondering what this has to do with gardening or with this month's focus (don't you love the way these words start showing up in the story?). A COMMITment is a way to reach a goal. When I set things up with the idea of reaching a forseeable future I always do a better job of following through. It's my way of giving some definition to my right brain life style. It's one of those Zen things again; be child like and impulsive/exist in the adult world and pay the bills. Balance which was BALANCE one year too. Now you're really seeing that pattern aren't you?

I find the places I feel I'm weak in and reinforce myself for a year, make it a habit. This year's word is CONNECT, last year's was JOY. And, for me, it's working. I researched ways to deal with depression, to find a way to see JOY in something everyday. Writing it down, saying it out loud, practicing smiling in front of a mirror, learning how to laugh at the small stuff and it's all small stuff! 

This year my word, CONNECT, has taken me in directions I didn't expect. In the process of opening my world view more I've ended up clearing my personal space of people with a negative approach to the world. I've been told that I have " no self esteem" and " no self confidence", that I'm "selfish" and "thoughtless", careless of other's feelings because I ended relationships that were based more on the negative than the positive. Not an easy barrage of negative accusations to deal with (How interesting!). The up side is the people I've reconnected with, the support, sleeping better, being more focused and understanding more about the importance of starting here at home, making that a better place to be first. 

Be very clearly ME, and then find my goal outside of that state of being. CONNECT myself to my past, my present and to ideas for the future. Even better, CONNECT all of the words from past years and begin to make sense of becoming a life long philosopher. I'm thinking maybe a pipe, a faded velvet bathrobe, perhaps a small beard on my chin may be just the thing for my new self definition. Ah, but back to gardening...

Back to the process of keeping my hands in the earth, watching seeds turn in to tiny sprouts, sprouts in to plants and plants in to a harvest. ReCONNECTing myself to a more natural rhythm, understanding that change is better from the inside out (and one year the word was CHANGE). 

Something I learned this week: put a teaspoon of epsom salts, mixed in to the soil, under each pepper and tomato plant. Works for roses too. They all need extra magnesium, something the soil is sorely lacking here. As soon as the plants begin to show blossoms, mix a tablespoon of epsom salts in to warm water in a one quart sprayer and lightly spray each pepper and tomato plant. Repeat ten days later. Your yield will be higher, fruits larger and healthier with fewer pests. And you are still growing an organic garden. 

A RECIPE: The perfect salad. There are endless variations on this theme. That's where the word perfect comes from. All of the vegetables I planted this year have greens I can use in a salad, ie. beets, mustard, several different lettuces, kohlrabi, radishes (a great vegetable to start children with because you can harvest in just three weeks), turnips and so on. Combined with the raspberries and strawberries that are just coming in to season I can make a different salad every night with a side of eggs or cheese, a sprinkle of nuts or roasted or glazed tofu. And all of this for the cost of $2.50 per seed packet compared to $5 or $6 per five ounces of each of those greens, an obscene savings. We can have salad from the garden for weeks! And if I let the plants bolt and seed out we have harvestable seeds for the next year. Not too damn shabby!

Dressing: anything you like. Your imagination can take you just about anywhere with this one. I like the classic olive oil and balsamic vinegar with freshly ground pink sea salt and pepper, but you could also add in any commercial dressing you like (Nancy's Organic dressings are really good. Newman's Organic dressings are tasty too.) Dressing is one of the places you can play.

Do you have left over veggies from other meals in the fridge? Add those on to your salad. You can even give them a quick sauté to crisp them up, maybe with a light glaze of Organic Tamari Sauce. Add a handful of sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds, well you get the idea. Dinner is like this all season long,a really nice way to eat especially if you're outside doing things until sunset, later and later as the summer goes along.

This week we're putting in the sweet potatoes, a vegetable that can be planted late and still yield for your garden harvest. I've been experimenting with growing my own sprouts from a couple of potatoes. Sheesh. We're going to have more vines than we know what to do with, so I'm putting them in flower pots and along fences. I'll let you know how that works out as the season flows along.

Gardening this intensely, especially when we don't know where our year is taking us since the land is changing hands and it officially becomes a protected preserve, is a toss up. It's a commitment with an unknown outcome, a connection to the earth that may end up in someone else's kitchen. 

But still, here I am, finishing the task, taking it to whatever the end result is. 

Who knew how challenging and complicated this one word life style could be!

I am, ever yours, Nancy, head back and laughing at the way things go!

PS. And horses? Five rows of different kinds of carrots were planted. Can't wait to see how they go. Carrots and I have a tendency to duke it out. We shall see. Life is good!

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