Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Getting to know you.

Today, for only a short while, I was in complete bliss. I have driven by a local nursery a few times over the past couple of weeks, and I have been dying to go there. Now, why do I hesitate to use this type of phrasing? These are a grouping of words, formed into a phrase, of which we often don't give much thought to.

I decided to look up the phrasing, or the form of the word die, in which it is used. For my help I used It said that in this form, die is used as a verb; to desire or want keenly or greatly: I'm dying for a cup of coffee. Now I can go back to using the word, and have less worry about I am truly saying. I know that for some time, and obviously a little still today, words related to death stung me like a bee. When someone would use the word in casual conversation I would suddenly lose my train of thought, or the ability to follow theirs. I also often took the word's use quite personally. It often seemed to amaze me how insensitive people could be. I don't mean this in a purposeful way, just that they should have been better aware of what they were saying to me.

These days even my kids will make mention after someone has used words, or phrases, which brings our thoughts to the issue of death. They sometimes get angry that someone would say such things in my presence. I know that they are wanting to be sensitive to my feelings, and by doing so, they are able to discuss their ever evolving feelings about Michael's death, and about death in general.

Well, I appear to have been off on a tangent. Or, maybe the topic of gardening allowed me the opportunity to venture off in this way. Like many things in my life, I find gardening to be quite healing and therapeutic. I spend so much time looking at the various plants available at the nursery. I bring one plant over to another, stand back, consider how they will do next to one another, and what they will do for the aesthetics of my space, and of my mind.

All of the plants that I selected today are very different from the plants I had at home in San Francisco. Today I tried to select plants that could not only survive in hot weather, but flourish as well. I wanted plants that had small splashes of color. The non flowering large leaf plants on the right, in the first picture, are Plumeria Temple Trees. One will have beautiful white flowers, the other red. These are the type of flowers often used to make leis, or to set floating in a pond or pool. Just beautiful, and fragrant flowers. In some countries the plumeria is sometimes associated with ghosts and graveyards. They are often planted in cemetaries in the Philippines and Indonesia, and associated with temples in Hindu and Buddhist cultures. And here's something for Bev, plumeria flowers are most fragrant at night in order to lure sphinx moths to pollinate them. The flowers have no nectar, and simply dupe their pollinators. The moths inadvertently pollinate them by transferring pollen from flower to flower in their fruitless search for nectar.

I don't know the name of the pink flowering plants on the left, but was taken by the thick succulent branches and leaves, which lead up to the exquisite pink & white flowers

The other two that I combined into the small and wide pots were placed together because of the exotic look they had. The flowering plant, Lobelia, has deep red flowers that bloom throughout summer. It's leaves are green, but with touches of red to purple in them. The big leafy purple plant did not have it's name listed either, but I found it so pleasing, and calming.

This is one of my favorite plants, Aeonium arboreum 'zwartkop.' In other words, dark purple foliage. I love the deep chocolaty purple color. It is also called the black rose plant, but it is obviously not a rose, but rather a succulent, evergreen perennial.

And, last but not least, is the Cyperus Papyrus, also nicknamed the Lyon's Tail, is what sits next to my Buddha. It's an interesting plant, in that it originates from Egypt, and was used to make papyrus obviously, but it's long reeds were also used to make boats. I myself found the plant to appear light, and elegant. I also loved it's simplicity.

Well, tonight was a night of tangents. I didn't expect to go into such detail about my chosen plants. I think I did this for my own sake. I would like to really know more about the plants I choose to use, their names, and understand how they need to be treated. Perhaps this is what we all want, and deserve, from each other. I want people to stop, take notice of me, and try to understand who I am. I want to be able to do the same in kind.


  1. Don't know if you are familiar with flower remedies, but found this at

    Red Frangipani (Frangipani plumeria rubra)
    The essence of awakening. Reunites us with the true source of our being which lies beyond the spiritual dimension. Brings joy and new levels of perception and confidence.

    Searching for plumeria temple tree, frangipani PR was the latin name given. Maybe yours, maybe not.

    It is far past my bedtime, but I can't sleep... looking up latin plant names is way better than trying to find something to watch on hulu. :)

  2. Hi Megan, I love this info. I also appreciate what others do when they can't sleep. These past few days I have been up until 2 or 3 am. Tonight I will spend it reading all about plant remedies. And, yes, that is the plant I have. No flowers for awhile, but definitely something to look forward to. I just realized that I had written that one would flower in pink, but in looking at the tag, it is actually the red one. I now need to do a bit of editing.

    Thanks for your comments. And I'm off to hulu land for tonight's entertainment.

  3. Ah, hulu; we have a love/hate relationship. Tuesday was the very very intense ashes scattering day with matt's mother and some family. A 2 1/2 hour drive for me, down roads we used to travel all the time together, looking for hiking spots. All in all, a very intense, and at times, traumatic, day for me. by 10 pm, I just wanted to laugh, check out a little. Took me a long time to convince myself it was okay, after the events of the day, to do something as profane and silly as watch tv. Three hours of searching netflix and hulu - nada. started watching a couple of movies and some tv shows only to find them boring or stupid or just so not funny. I often spend far more time searching for something decent than I do actually watching anything. That just makes me grouchy, which was really not the point. I will concede that I have always been hard to please in the realm of comedy. (you might even hear matt laugh as you read that statement.) Perhaps there should be a list of "things online that will possibly make recently widowed people laugh a little bit." My current suggestion (via my stepson) - Zombieland. Not too much gore, and it was kind of sweet.

    The last month or so, I have been exhausted all day, pretty much just shoving myself through the daylight hours, but as soon as it gets dark, I am wide awake. I have been known to make pie or cake or something at 1 am, or start a batch of jam. Last week, it was batch after batch of pastry cream to make fruit custard pies. then I ran out of people to give pies to. Maybe I need to get a camera and a lamp for 1 am bat and moth sightings...

    I also went outside a few times last night checking for Northern Lights, which were supposed to be visible here in the Northeast on tuesday and wednesday. Did you see any bev?

    I bet you'll find a lot of insomniac folks roaming the hotel at 2 am during camp this weekend. is the leading, most scientifically organized flower remedy company in the states, at least in my experience. Their site will give you a good overview. Among other things, they use flower remedies in prisons, and in natural disaster relief, especially in developing countries. All sorts of neat stuff.

  4. Okay Megan, so you got my attention with the Zombieland recommendation. I've been meaning to watch it. Michael and I love our zombie movies. My recent favorite was Fido, a 50's era satire about people and their pet zombies. In regard to the pies, what a serious problem, too many pies, not enough people eaters. I say sell the pies! Turn your insomnia into cash!

  5. Oh - I will put fido on the list! Matt and his son jake are big zombie fans. Matt got me to watch Shaun of the Dead, calling it a comedy... hmm. I was hesitant for Zombieland, but Jake knows how much gratuitous violence I can handle, so I trusted the recommendation. I had been working on a sweet zombie love song last spring, wherein the zombie hesitates to eat the woman because his momma told him it would make him chubby, and the oblivious woman admires his physical restraint, thinking he loves her for her mind (he's only in it for her brains). Good song, good song.

    I know - selling pies. Would love to. I can't get my home kitchen commercially certified, what with all the dog and cat hair floating around. but I think some people don't bother with such legal roadblocks as being commercially licensed.....
    I've been thinking maybe a bed and breakfast, specifically for people with family in one of the hospitals in this neighborhood. Then I would have people to feed on a regular basis, and none of us would be on "normal" time.

  6. Dan - I love that the flowers attract Sphinx moths - tricky flowers! This year, I planted a lot of different flowers for hummingbirds and butterflies and they are definitely visiting them!

    megan - If you love to bake - a couple of suggestions. A chef friend who decided to retire from being a restaurant chef after her baby was born, started a business making baked foods especially for people with good allergies - gluten-free stuff, etc.. Also, when I was down in Brookings, Oregon at a health food shop down there, they had cookies made by a local person -- ones that were for various kinds of food allergies. I think this is a rather untapped area of baking in many parts of the country. The other thing is that, as you may already know, there are often facilities that you can use that are licensed for commercial food preparation. Where I used to live in Ontario, one of the churches was properly licensed and rented out its kitchens by the day to people who wanted to produce food for sale. For those who want to give it a whirl on a smaller scale, this is a perfect arrangement. If things really take off, then you could see about renting time in a larger "real" commercial kitchen, or getting set up somewhere as a commercial kitchen yourself. Anyhow, I'm with Dan on this - maybe you should find yourself a real niche market for baked goods and go for it. I think there is nothing like that unbridled "energy" that we widows often have. Just recently, I met a woman whose young son died. She and I got talking about how much energy and anger we had to work off. She started a cut flower operation 4 years ago - powered almost entirely on the same kind of energy that seems to keep me going. My solution -- harness that energy in some way and put it to some use.

  7. additional note for megan. (-:

    I should mention that the chef friend didn't just do baking, although that was her favourite thing. She would make various food for allergic people - not everyone with allergies knows how to bake or cook various things. This woman would get a list of all the allergy foods and then do some research to find recipes that did not use those foods, then make the foods especially for each customer. The cookies in Brookings, Oregon were a different thing-- just nice big cookies that were made with different ingredients such as rice flour, etc.. They were not cheap either! I bought a couple and they were terrific. Anyone would have loved them, but especially a person allergic to typical things like peanuts, wheat flour, etc... Nicely wrapped with funky stickers. Seemed like such a cool idea to me.

    Oh, and here's one more for you! When I was in Salt Lake City a year ago last April, my friends noticed a "dog bakery" near a restaurant where we had lunch. We stopped in and I bought several cookies for my dogs -- pumpkin, salmon, all sorts of neat flavours. My dogs *loved* them. Again, these were *not* inexpensive. For just about everything, there is a market if you can come up with a super product and then find a way to market yourself and the thing that you make.

  8. What a beautiful picture of your family. I'm sure it must be difficult dealing with your loss; time does heal all and you'll always have those precious memories. I enjoyed your site and will visit often.

  9. I actually *almost* started a gluten free bakery here a couple years ago. I don't have any food allergies, but I have friends who do, and there was a big hole in the market for good, locally made treats. I was collaborating with the owners of a new wine and specialty food shop to use their kitchen, but I couldn't find start-up funding, and I've noticed that after over two years, they still haven't finished renovations on the place, and aren't open. That one was not meant to be.

    but - I do make awesome GF things, and I used to have some food allergies, so I am good at working around things. Plus, though I get irritated with Flops, I do like a puzzle. My landlady was recently dx with celiacs, and she is Not A Good Cook. There is a third floor apartment that isn't being used right now, and I keep thinking I should offer to renovate the kitchen and use it as the bakery. GF stuff is supposed to be made in a completely GF environment, but not everyone is that sensitive.

    I've been thinking about a birth and death catering service - though not a name I could really market! When people have babies (a large number since matt died), I make food and cakes two or three times a week, and drop them off on the porch.... ninja food delivery. I usually set them up with a crockpot and have them leave the empty pot outside; I leave a full one in exchange. I don't need to talk to them, and they don't want or have the energy to talk to me. I like being invisible that way. Someone dropped food off for me the first few weeks, and though I couldn't eat it, I very much appreciated the love involved, and the acknowledgment that I did not have the energy to entertain anyone, even for the five minutes they dropped something over. birth and death ninja catering. Not exactly Snappy. The GF market is big here though - very very few sweet things made locally.

  10. Hey, Dan, we're hijacking your comments again! (-:

    Megan, these all sound like good ideas worth working on. Maybe this idea of the ninja catering shouldn't focus just on birth and death but extend to other areas -- stress, etc... as a lot of people are just so stressed by their jobs, caring for other people, etc.. that they could use some good food to keep them going. Maybe you should toss around ideas for how the service would work, what you could make, potential markets, possible names, etc... If the market hasn't been filled in your area, get your foot in the door first before someone else does. I wonder if there is a start-up fund for women in your region. A few years ago, when I was living in Ontario, the provincial government had a program where women could get interest-free loans with about a 2 year grace period before you had to pay - to help women with their start-ups as the banks were kind of hostile to lending to women back then (I think that may have changed since then). The only "strings attached" had to do with taking a short series of workshops on things like preparing a financial plan, accounting, etc... so that the applicants would have enough business knowledge to handle that side of their companies. Maybe there are also some kind of angel funds. If you could come up with a really good concept, you might be able to raise some necessary funds through "kickstarter" ( If you don't know the website, look it up. Really neat way to raise start-up or project funds for a project, business, etc... There are starting to be quite a few "food business" start-ups, services, etc.. appearing on there and they seem to get funded. In any case, good luck if you decide to give something a try. Remember -- harness all of that untamed widow power!! (-:

  11. the hijack continues....

    A couple years ago, I did the angel funds route, and the women's start up program, but it was just when things really started to tank, financially, in this country, and no one wanted to fund anything.
    It has been on my mind, though, starting a small, pretty casual catering business. Hadn't heard of kickstarter though, will check it out.

  12. Also the private chef/cook thing sounds appealing to me - cook while no one is home, clean up and get out before they get home from work. Nice. No talking. And, no kitchen licensing, as it is their own place.

  13. Hope Dan doesn't mind! ;-)

    A sort of personal chef on demand idea sounds good to me. A friend of a friend had a business like that for a few years. I think his schtick was that he used produce grown on his farmstead and all organic ingredients, but really, I think you could take any one of a number of angles. Healthy meals for people on the run; specialty cooking for those with a lot of food allergies; organic chef; or what have you. I think there's a market for a lot of different specializations, whether it's making desserts for people with complicated allergies, or in-home food preparation. Just do some market research and plenty of costing, etc... a bit of testing on your friends, etc... Start off small and let it grow. Main thing, in my opinion, is to not let yourself be sandbagged by self-doubts. I think there is a natural tendency for many of us to sabotage our own success through coming up with too many reasons for something not to work, instead of believing that it *will* work. In the past, I was quite guilty of that myself, but a couple of years ago, I turned over a new leaf and now everything feels possible to me. I just work very hard to follow through with what I want to do. Most times things actually do work out -- not without some serious effort, of course -- but if it's a good idea, then it will probably fly.

  14. Okay ladies, I think I might need to start charging rent. And since I wasn't available all afternoon, or evening, to get in on the baking business, let me just say, go for it Megan. Anything that brings you joy, and bring you money, can't be bad. What a great business it would be if people could call you and order food to be delivered to someone in need. I know that people often want to send food during difficult times, but some don't cook, or have the time. Having someone, like yourself, who could cook and deliver the food without any need to stay and chat would be good business.

  15. I can send pie in lieu of rent!

    You actually described that far more succinctly than I have been able to do, Dan. Thank you.

  16. megan - I think Dan really defined your baking-cooking business idea in a few words. The trick will be to come up with a good name that helps to communicate your service. Something that describes the care that is part of the service (We Care, or iCare Catering, or something-or-other bakery, or whatever). You should bat your idea around with friends or cyber-friends - take a think-tank approach and try to come up with a good concept, name, product line, etc... That will help you to go forward. In business, I've often heard it said that, if you can't define your business in one sentence, go back to the drawing board and work until you can. This does seem like a great idea for a biz. It would also lend itself to having a website where people could peruse through products and choose what they want to send -- in a way similar to sending gift baskets. If you need help with anything like that, let me know as I've done a bit of that kind of thing for friends with businesses and could probably give you some ideas or help. I very much agree with Dan - if this is something you think you'd enjoy doing, then I say, go for it Megan.

  17. this has been on my mind a lot today, with your thoughts and encouragements. People who can serve without needing to speak - quite rare, in my experience. Matt and I were talking about this before he died, how, in many of my careers/volunteer things, I have been the "silent backbone" type person, making things run smoothly, and invisibly. I still don't eat much, but I need to cook, and I've run out of new parents to feed. I've started talking with a friend of mine who runs a weekly dinner delivery service out there near-ish you dan, for thoughts and logistics. I was thinking the menu website idea too, bev - a pull down check box menu type thing. I have very little energy, frequent episodes of sobbing, and my organizational skills are nil these days, so I will need to make myself keep it small and non-complicated, and go very slowly. I should watch Like Water for Chocolate again, for all that sobbing-into-the-food-magic.

    It is very weird for me to be interested in anything, and borderline surreal/insane (of the "what part of me still lives in a world where it matters that bats are cool" way, if you remember that danjacking, bev). I know I don't need to explain why here, and I am grateful for that. but at least this work/service is within the realm of birth/death/huge transition, and that makes it easier for me. I am fortunate that I don't need it financially at the moment, so I can move slowly.

  18. megan - the thing with making plans is that there's no reason that you can't explore an idea before going ahead with it. Although we may not actually be ready to go ahead with a plan, that doesn't mean we can't think about it, toss the idea around for something to do, work out logistics, etc... Far before I bought this old house in Nova Scotia, I was thinking about where it would be, which town would be best, what kind of property to buy, what I'd do once I arrived here. Once I bought the house (and that happened over the net without ever coming to the house), I ordered in some books on restoring really old houses, wiring, etc.. and spent the last month in AZ thinking about and looking forward to arriving here a couple of months in the future. One thing I think we all have a hard time with is playing with ideas without shooting ourselves down. For example, I've been considering the idea of opening a gallery somewhere around here in another year or two. At this point, it's just an idea - something to think about over the winter - play with the idea without being at all committed at this point. Just because I think of something, doesn't mean I have to do it. Likewise, I don't have to think of arguments against the idea -- why not just let my imagination run wild and see where it goes. Anyhow, you may or may not be ready to start your business just yet, but that doesn't mean you can't start playing around with the idea *now* if that gives you pleasure and doesn't make you anxious. If you're anxious, try to figure out why, and tell yourself not to worry -- you won't get yourself into this business until you're feeling ready enough. Anyhow, as mentioned, if you want any help with the internet idea part, when you get to that point, let me know as I've done some of that kind of thing for friends and might be able to give you some help with it. And yes, whatever you do, just go slowly... at your own speed... there's no need to rush. Keep it fun to think about. (-: