The book of Galatians

Again, I have no authority to teach you anything from the Bible, I hope you might find something useful from it, and if you disagree with my interpretation that’s OK! “…the gospel I preach is not of human origin.” —Galatians 1:11

I was given the order in which to read the Bible my a priest friend of mine. He said some books tend to reflect each other and juxtapose each other. Once and a while I understand what he means. Reading Leviticus like we did last week, then moving on to Galatians is a great example. In Leviticus the Israelites learn laws they must follow to get close to God, and at that point they can only go through a holy teacher. But in his letter to the Galatians, Paul teaches us that following strict rules is not the way. That we have access to God ourselves through prayer and that the teachings of Christ (loving your neighbor and loving God) is what we must remember instead of the strict rules from the Old Testament. .

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To The Jungle…

…As monks will seek in contemplation’s cell
An increment of quiet holiness,
Prolonged novena,- so the Winter gives
A blameless idleness to active hands
And liberates the vision of the soul.
Darkness is greater light, to those who see;
Solitude greater company to those
Who hear the immaterial voices; those
who dare to be alone.

-Vita Sackville-West
The Garden; 1946

 

In winter, one tries to distract oneself with projects.  I have begun another novel (I just finished my second).  This one takes place in a jungle- somewhere, I haven’t quite placed it.  I’ve been watching documentaries on South Africa, South America and I threw in one about the Galapagos while I was at it.  I’ve also been listening to a lot of African music and much of Yo-Yo Ma’s silk road project-which takes its listener all over the world and back.  So I don’t quite know yet- and I may just shelf it all together.  Right now, I’m praying for focus since I have another story I shelved a year ago.  To which do I devote my time?   Perhaps spending so much time with my orchids is putting this foreign jungle in my head.  Should I shake it? or let it be?
But the orchid set in rock and rooted in trees – like nature’s intention: their white, moth-like flowers cascading…
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I had a dream last night that my spring bulbs were coming up.  However, I feared not all would not make it.  Then Vita’s voice reassured me by repeating a little known fact: some take two years to really get going.   But what about my hellebores?  Have they begun… I woke up on my way to find them – waking to the harsh reality that I will not find them for another nine weeks.  So again, I must find a little delight indoors.

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I was delighted yesterday when I saw my chocolate oncidium had shot up a flower spike and will bloom soon.  I have not seen its little dark purple flowers (above) for a year now.  It is called “chocolate”, because their intoxicating fragrance is just like chocolate with a hint of sweet vanilla.   Oncidiums are much like Phalaenopsis where they must be watered once a week and they require a similar atmosphere and light.

The Dendrobium Nobile also require water once a week, sometimes twice a week depending on how dry it is.  They also require a lot of sun and humidity.  But in order to bloom they need a six week drought period.  Mine bloomed two weeks ago…

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If you have more than one orchid, watering can be a dreadful task-especially if you have to fertilize or if you are using special water.  In my case, I use distilled.  Distilled water is an extra expense and one not to be wasted.  In order to conserve as much as possible I pour a quarter of the gallon-perhaps more, into a large bowl.  First I let my tillandsia soak a bit (but that is another post).  One by one I bring my orchids to their bath; oldest to newest.  Why in this order?  Because my newest are still being monitored for disease.   I water them last in order to keep them isolated from my healthy orchids.   After you’ve had them in your possession for two-three months and you don’t see any evidence of pests or disease, the order will not matter.
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So I will set them in the bowl, and taking a tinier bowl or cup, I’ll lift water onto the roots (only) until they are thoroughly soaked.  I will then let the orchid drain and put it back in its decorative pot by a window.  After watering, some experts recommend you place a blooming orchid exactly in the position you found it so it will not twist its flowers – they will do this to find light.

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It’s simple once you have a little routine established.  I have a friend who is mother to forty orchids-all phalaenopsis.  She places them all in the bath tub and gives them a “bath” literally.  It’s really what is easiest for you.  She and her orchids don’t seem to mind the chlorine water we have here in Detroit.   I’m sure most orchids can handle regular tap water so make it easy on yourself if you’d like.   They are easy to care for and their blooms last for months – really a great way to occupy yourself until spring.  Perhaps in the meantime they will inspire me to finish what I’ve started in my novel.  Back to the jungle I go…

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A Peculiar Fight For Turgidity

The tame, too smug, I cry;
There’s no adventure in security;
Yet still my little garden craft I ply,
Mulch, hoe, and water when the ground is dry…

-Vita Sackville-West
The Garden; 1948

 

 

The other day I was looking up odds and ends when I came across a word I have never heard.  It’s a word that has been rolling around in my mind for days as we are in desperate need of it.  Turgid, or swollen in reference to plants means they have a healthy amount of water hydrating their cells.  Imagine a plant whose leaves are plump and stand upright they way they ought to.  That is turgidity.

Yesterday, I did something rather peculiar.   It hasn’t really rained here for weeks and the trees are beginning to droop.   Everything is looking rather dull and dry.  Even my precious maple my husband planted as my Mother’s day gift is looking sad.

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Anyway, I was doing my daily watering of the garden when it struck me how dehydrated my neighbor’s lilac bush looked.  Its bright green leaves had lost their luster and they drooped and sagged with drought.

My neighbor rents.  They keep to themselves mostly.  We hardly speak.  But through my keen observation I know they rarely look at that end of the house.  They do the bare minimum to take care of the old plants surrounding the property.  Funnily enough, the rose bushes and iris’s looked quite healthy and turgid, but the grand lilac bush of many years was struggling.

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(Above: My neighbor’s neglected rose bush rests its arm on their old meter.)

A thought came to my mind as I stood watering my own plants, and a sly smile creep upon my face.  Stealthily I crept over and threw my hose under its dehydrated branches – turning it on full blast.  I left it there for a moment while I meandered about, falsely pondering my own precious flowers.

Despite my efforts to be cool however, I imagined her watching my every move from her kitchen window wondering what the hell I was doing, and wishing I’d mind my own business.

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(Above: My neighbor’s lilac the morning after I gave it a douse of water.  As you can see it could use a little more.)

But I believe her lilac bush is my business.  It’s all I see out my kitchen window and its large green leaves distract from the poorly painted black and white motif of their asbestos siding.  I thought for sure it might die and they would neglect to tear it out for years – leaving it in the ground to rot and turn brown; much to my sorrow.
I refuse to look at death out my window when I can prevent such a disaster.  So I must utilize the hose and sprinkler for now until the rains come again.  Bring on turgidity please!!

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The Daylily: “The Lord Loves A Working Man”

They used to be regarded as a common old plant, almost a weed, when we grew the type which spread everywhere and was only a pale orange thing, not worth having…

Now there are many fine hybrids, which may come as a revelation to those who have not yet seen them.
They will grow in sun or shade.  They will grow in damp soil, even by the waterside if you are so fortunate as to have a stream or a pond in your garden, when their trumpets of amber, apricot, orange, ruddle, and Venetian red will double themselves in reflection in the water.  They will grow equally well in an ordinary bed or border.  They are, in fact, extremely obliging plants,  thriving almost anywhere.

-Vita Sackville-West
The Joy of Gardening; 1958

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I was more than a little distraught yesterday as I looked about my garden and nothing seemed to be blooming in abundance.  Abundance enough for me to cut a few flowers to use as a center piece for my Father’s Day table.   The Lilacs, I know, appropriately bloom on Mother’s Day.  It’s an easy find because I wait all year for those purple fragrant blooms.  But what for the father?  The roses have taken a little break it seems, and the hydrangeas are not quite there.

Without hope, I rounded the forgotten east corner of our yard and spotted them.  The orange trumpets that live but a day.  I’ll admit it was probably the first time I rejoiced at their sight.  They are too often forgotten by me.  A third rate flower as they seem in my mind.

However, I saw them and remembered years past when I, newly married and exhaustingly playing “Suzy homemaker”, would cut the blooms to beautify my table setting before the flowers shut themselves up for all eternity.

Seemed a waste of energy really.  I almost resented them for their lack of resourcefulness.  But that is nature, it often doesn’t make sense but it is miraculous and awe-inspiring all the same; to exert one’s energy and strive for perfection for just a day; for just a life.

In many ways we are like this.  Preparing a meal for the entire family for this day: Father’s Day past and present.  Us, the hosts and hostesses of the world; exerting all our energy and striving for perfection for just one little party.  Or rather it is like the father who works hard everyday so he can provide for his family.  Is that living?  I say yes.  Perhaps that is our only purpose; to exert and exhaust our energy for one eternal goal: survival for all.

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By our old house on the lake, daylilies grew in abundance.  So much so, that now, I truly believe if you hold one of the orange trumpets to your ear you might just hear the sounds of motor boats, jet skies and crashing waves, or perhaps the call of the kingfisher and the wings of swans as they flap across the sunset with their reflections below them.

So with this memory, and a new found appreciation for their hard work, perhaps I will rethink my forgetfulness.  I fixed myself a small bouquet; a rather handsome collection, much like our hardworking fathers.

I have a new appreciation for the Daylily today, like a new appreciation of a father whose obliging qualities are gradually recognized by their ever maturing children.  It is an obliging plant after all.  So, I’ll leave you now with the words of my own father who announced this wisdom as he went off to work every morning: “The Lord loves a working man”.

Indeed he must.

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