I finally decided to spend a tiny bit of money on Illustrator, and I made an !art! of my current feelings.
There it is. And yes, it’s a messy upload and there’s a watermark, so it’s not the full art. But that’s because I’m not used to sharing my art and
I’m afraid of it getting stolen. I don’t need any new drama to deal with like that right now.
Anyway, I volunteered to help out with my local parks and I got asked to do a write-up on why I love them. So here’s my write up!
The parks are where I go to be alone, but it’s probably where I feel the least lonely. They’re such lovely pieces of land – the plants, the animals, and the people I pass on the trails all bring me joy. There isn’t a better feeling to me than being out there, and I’m incredibly thankful to all stewards of that land, past and present.
With COVID, I was feeling really lonely – obviously that was a major life shift and I wasn’t able to easily just go out and see loved ones anymore. I started going on near-daily walks in the park and just the feeling when I returned was wonderful. Folks walking by would wave or smile, and the birds and plants and animals made me feel less alone. There’s just something comforting about being out in quiet well-loved woods.
Maybe I’ll share more of my art/better uploads of it in the future.
I suppose life is always up in the air; my life feels particularly up in the air right now. That’s not really a complaint, as years of therapy for OCD in particular have taught me to live with the maybe’s. It’s really just an observation, something I’m sitting with. What other choice is there? I find a lot of beauty in uncertainty, as much as it does cause me stress at times – depends on what I’m uncertain of.
There are so many creative endeavors I want to pursue. My wonderful houseplants are, I suppose, an endearing creative outlet for me; I get to care for lovely living things while arranging them to beautify my home, and it brings me much joy and acts as a bolster to my mental health. I gave my plants their first actual shower the other day (yes I literally put them in the tub and turned on the shower) and I like to play music for them and sing to them sometimes. There’s evidence that stuff really helps them. I also saw recently someone dances around the house with their plants to mimic wind, and I’ve started doing that a bit. I love to dance.
I suppose there’s this bit of my creative side that wants to make in order to be known. I want to show myself, be vulnerable; at the same time I have no desire to be vulnerable. I feel like I have a history of being too generous with others and not generous enough with myself. I’ve been the one to do a lot of emotional work.
I’m thinking of myself like a little fruit fly. If I zig-zag to land on every surface, sure I could hit a sweet flower – but I could also hit a sticky trap. I’m trying to not force a landing on “what I should do next” but rather just be okay with the uncertainty.
I’ve been doing the so-called “little things.” Making myself nice dinners; going to the farmers’ market; making art; daydreaming.
It has taken all of my self-control not to buy a 42nd houseplant! I just can’t handle learning the care of a brand new plant baby right now. Especially when I have some work to do:
I need to give my crispy wave fern diluted fertilizer. It’s becoming pale because there’s not enough nutrients in its home.
I’d like to figure out what’s going on with my peacock plant. It’s suddenly gotten really droopy, and it has been watered and the humidifier’s running. It also got coffee yesterday.
I’ll re-seed the wheatgrass and clean up some dead plants/do some pruning.
It looks like my spider plant needs a good watering.
The three air plants need a full soak watering. They got misted a few times over the week since my apartment’s air is dry.
The celery appears to need some sort of treatment, possibly neem oil. Suddenly the leaves don’t look right – little white dots and they’re off color. I’m guessing spider mites but I can’t understand yet how that could’ve happened.
I’d like to consider moving the little baby jade propagate. Now that it’s warm I’ll bet it wants to grow. I have to read up on what it might need at this little baby stage.
I have so many creative ideas bouncing around in my head; I swear, plant care and having plants around helps my brain work.
🌹 I could make lo-fi music. I even have some song titles in my head, and I know how to record and stuff. I could learn to mix; I have the time!
🌹I could sell plant propagates in cute thrifted containers. I saw someone doing this at a craft market recently and I thought it was a lovely idea. They were selling all succulents. I’d probably focus on all varieties of pet-safe plants.
🌹I could somehow share the art I’ve been making.
🌹I could continue work on the children’s book I’m writing with my dad. If only I could convince him to do the illustration…
🌹I could learn how to screen print. I’m pretty sure there are local classes.
🌹I could write a play. I’m not really a big theater fan and yet I always loved Shakespeare. And there are a few choice plays that I adore.
🌹I could do some gardening out on my building’s shared lawn. I wouldn’t plant anything edible because I’m not the one in charge of lawn care and I don’t know what chemicals are used, but some native flowers would be nice. I did seed-bomb it earlier in the spring.
I wonder if part of the loveliness of caring for plants is how easy it is to feel happy for them. It can be hard to be proud of other humans who are thriving, especially when you’re just surviving – it takes practice. But it’s easy, at least for me, to be happy when my celery grows a new shoot, or my parlor palm grows taller, or new spiderettes appear off my spider plant. It doesn’t matter what mood I’m in, those things make me happy and proud. I suppose that’s why plant care is such a labor of love; we can give them so much, and although they do it quietly they give us so much in return. They give us fresh air, calming colors, beauty and life all their own. Unlike with people, I don’t feel like my plants take from me. Of course, they literally do – they take my water, the food I give to them, carbon dioxide that I breathe out. But this is symbiosis. I’ve been hard-pressed to find that with people, although I do have it with a select few folks. And so for now I live happily among the houseplants.
You’ll read here: 🌱 Gettin’ thrifty when you’re out of money and have plants that need planting/container planting on a space & money budget 🌱 Chamomile, tulsi, basil, sage 🌱 Slug buddies 🌱 Container planting tips from a friend
Container Planting on a Spacial & Monetary Budget
Well – I helped out with a super fun planting event earlier this week and got to take home a couple of the extra plants that there wasn’t enough space for! I feel very lucky – but I’m out of money, soil, and planters at my place. So I had to get thrifty with rehoming some chamomile, some sage, some holy basil, and some un-holy basil (ha ha).
My friend taught me a useful way of container planting:
DRAINAGE. Make sure your container has drainage holes and space for the water to seep out.
BOTTOM LAYER. At the event we used peat as the bottom layer because it drains easily. At home, because I don’t have the space or money for a big bag of peat, I use rocks. When I’m out of rocks, I get thrifty with what I do have – more on that below.
UPPER LAYER(S). Good quality organic soil. I use potting soil from my favorite local nursery and spice it up with some organic powdered fertilizer. I also have added some perlite to it.
Now, as mentioned, I was out of money, out of new soil, and out of planters with proper drainage. So I opened up my hall closet and took stock of what I had available: and I found a forgotton stack of mini seedling ‘greenhouses’ that I was able to repurpose into a mini window garden container with drainage!
I took what would be the bottom of the seedling ‘greenhouse’ and filled it with perlite. This was to mimic where I would use rocks if I had any left or space between the bottom of a pot and the ground if outside, for drainage.
I inverted what would have been the top of the ‘greenhouse,’ the part that has holes for humidity control. This was to become the pot itself, where the soil and plants go.
Luckily the plants I have are pretty small, so I didn’t need a super deep container for them to live in.
Soil time. I had some old soil stuck in a jar, which I fished out, loosened, and gave a little buck-up with my organic pet-safe fertilizer.
When that wasn’t enough soil, I went and used some of those packed-peat pellets you get with cute mini grow kits, like these Save the Bees kits I have yet to plant.
Planting time! In this container went the sage and the two types of basil; the chamomile had already been planted separately.
While planting the regular basil, I found a little friendly slug! Their little antennae just get me every time. It wasn’t easy to photograph, though, as it was on the move.
But you can just see it on the very-root-bound roots of the newly freed basil plant there.
Now – we shall see if this DIY planter situation works, if these plants need more light, different soil, or whatnot. I’m historically not great with herbs, but I’m excited to try this out. Especially with the loneliness I’m feeling in my life currently – friends who I love are moving, getting married, making changes, and I’m changing too – a new challenge is a blessing.
I hope any challenges in your lives, readers, are blessings to you.
I had a very lovely with my best friend of 20 years. My basil plant is starting to appear healthier, my sunflower seedlings are growing, and I got a few new plants (houseplants 33, 34, and 35) – i miei gorgoni, or my gorgons.
The gorgons are three airplants: a “caput medusae,” a “capitata peach,” and a very teenie-weenie “crocata.” Now, I didn’t/don’t know much about air plants – I was gifted some when I was younger but my dad takes care of them now – so it was time to do some research.
Peep my cat doing her own research:
My first research method is, as always, ASK THE PLANT LADY YOU GOT THE PLANTS FROM. So I asked her about caring for these little dudettes and she said:
Soak 20 minutes once a week, making sure the tips definitely get drenched – those are the bits most likely to dry out
Let them dry out, upside-down, a few hours before putting back in their pot so they don’t rot out from the roots
They don’t need to be planted in any kind of soil
Some of that I vaguely knew, but I wasn’t sure and it never hurts to ask. The next curiosity was about the names/species. All three are in the well-known genus Tillandsia which is basically synonymous with “air plant.”
Based on what I can find, this species comes in two cultivated varieties – one that flowers yellow and one that flowers orange. The orange cultivar is apparently one of only a few that forms an orange flower. Both cultivars are apparently fragrant once they flower, which should be lovely! I read about these here and here.
Based on images, this dudette is going to have foliage similar to the bromeliad I took from a school event back in high school. I’m excited for this; if I can get the care right, I’ll see a beautiful spiral-tower red flower come out of my medusae.
I didn’t see consistent naming convention for this one; based on what I’ve found I’m guessing it’s a cultivar, T. capitata ‘Peach’. According to Air Plant Supply Co., during bloom “the leaves blush beautiful shades of peach and pink with spectacular purple blossom” – exciting!
More research will come with time as I live with & care for these plants.
For now, some other weekend-in-May thoughts:
Reminder: You can’t make someone love you. You can’t make someone appreciate you. You can only love and appreciate yourself.
And bonus photo: a buckeye butterfly my best friend & I encountered:
I’m down today and I need to tell myself that I can let myself be hurt by things people have done to me. It doesn’t have to be “it wasn’t that bad” or “____ had it worse.” I deserve to acknowledge my hurt because I haven’t gotten anywhere ignoring it or pushing it down.
Two things I struggle with: 1. Fearing – and thus feeling – my emotions 2. Assigning an absurd amount of meaning to my emotions.
Fearing my emotions: in some ways, I’ve felt this was justified. I was an angry kid and sometimes I acted out because of overwhelming anger. But what I realize now that I’m older is that it wasn’t my anger itself that made me act out – it was that I didn’t know any healthy ways to address my anger. And, though many of my reasons to be mad were justified, adults in my life would try to explain away my anger. Trying to explain away an emotion does nothing but make it come back stronger an hour later. Because I didn’t let myself feel or felt guilty about the feelings, I started throwing things instead of throwing tantrums.
In a society that tells you “You’ll know when he’s the one,” how can we not over-assign meaning to what we feel? I never understood that assertion because time and time again I’ve “known” things that turned out not to be the case – thanks, OCD brain. Also, divorce rates are high, so that’s bullshit. There are all sorts of reasons why that’s bullshit; don’t get me started.
But anyway, how do I deal now? I share this because a few folks I was talking with earlier found this coping mechanism I use really helpful. When an emotion comes up – be it anger, sadness, joy, loneliness, whatever – I don’t sit there trying to figure out why I feel the way I do or what it could mean. I just feel the feeling.
What’s that look like?
I want to address, of course – this doesn’t apply if someone’s approaching you on a dark street corner and you feel afraid! But in a way I guess it does – you don’t need to rationalize that fear, right?
I do not always need to rationalize my feelings. I can feel them and if there’s a non-urgent, compassionate (and self-compassionate), useful way and reason to address them outside of myself, I can do that too.
I’m realizing that I am, and usually have, refused to take anything but the best for myself in my life. And that’s beautiful. And I hope I can expand that mindset while holding on to my compassion and gratitude.
I went on yet another woodland excursion the other day, and what a time I had. I’ve not once regretted heading out to the woods. Or to the ocean. Or playing music. Or singing along. Even when I’ve thought I didn’t have the energy. I hope for you, reader, that you have or find something in your life that brings you that kind of joy.
So while out in the woods, I followed a small relatively quiet trail farther than I’ve ever taken it. I got to revel in the gurgling sounds of a little creek with little waterfalls, and I saw a rogue windchime out there! Normally I’m not into adding unneeded extravagance to natural landscapes, but something about this windchime, out there on a quiet still day, painstakingly hung there and hurting no one, was… beautiful.
The whole scene was the stuff of my dreams, down to the old cobblestone bridge and the clay cliffs. In fact I’m working on painting it.
On my return from a sunny afternoon in the woods I drank the stinging nettle tea I’d started steeping that morning, and look at this mountain-dew-esque color! Exquisite (although Mountain Dew is not exquisite).
My woodland walks are my wonderful time for myself. I’ve noticed that I’m much grumpier when other do their own thing when I haven’t given myself space to do my own thing. And I’ve also noticed that when I am taking time and energy for my own creative and comforting efforts, I get very annoyed when people take out their own lack-of-making-time-for-themselves on me! It’s all about taking & making space for yourself.
For me tonight, that looks like [quietly] blasting Lady Gaga and Flock of Seagulls and prancing around with my bass guitar, playing it badly and singing. And writing this post. May you have as blessed an evening.
I enjoy the greater amount of time I have now to enjoy my own hobbies and spend time with myself. But when I end up spending too much time on my own, I feel depressed and anxious and sapped of energy and like I don’t want to do any of my hobbies! It can be a hard balance to strike, and I wish I had some advice for how to strike it.
I’ve found that the advice we’ve all heard a thousand times at this point, label what you are feeling and then allow it to be there, is the only thing I know to help me. Like, I don’t feel like this is my best writing right now – and that feeling is there, and I’ll let it be there and just continue to write because it feels good to write even when it’s not good. Even when no one reads it (in case you didn’t know, I really don’t write to be read. I just write to write and appreciate when people read.)
I have this restlessness in my heart lately. It’s a kind of restlessness I’ve felt on car rides and beachside occasions and sunny summer bike rides all across my life, but that I never gave myself the time and space to leave there, to let be. Usually I filled it with something, whether that something was impulsively starting a romantic relationship, feeding my insecurities, or trying to fit the outline of someone else. It’s a feeling not that my life isn’t where it should be, not that I’m unhappy; it’s this feeling that I truly am interesting, I am special, I have talents and inspirations and motivations that I deserve to follow, even if it seems scary or difficult or open-ended.
I wonder if that restlessness is why I feel frustration with folks I care about when they’re engaging in their passions and not engaging in their relationship with me. Because I have passions that I want to engage in more, maybe.
And that’s where it comes back full-circle in that I treasure my time enjoying my passions alone, and I treasure a certain amount of time with certain others. I’m still trying to strike the balance.
There are also the shadows of things that have upset me in the past, shadows of the way I was raised or words said to me that hurt like a physical blow. They don’t bug me most of the time, but in difficult moments they still hide in my mind and torment me a bit. And I think, again, that advice is sound – to let those feelings be there, to realize hey, this still bothers me! , to set my boundaries, and to go on.
Garlic mustard is a non-native plant of the brassicaceae family that has taken over much of the woodland floors in western Pennsylvania. It actually has a beautiful fragility to it; it’s very easy to weed out by the root and boasts teenie white flowers. And because it’s invasive and aggressive, I and friends of mine and local herbalists pull the plants out on our weekly walks. This is something I normally find a displeasing behavior, but the plants are edible and useful and so I save as many as I can for use in my kitchen, which makes me feel less guilty.
Anyway: at some point the other day my thoughts converged between garlic mustard and mental compulsions.
I think these two disparate things can be considered in much the same way. Nonchalant at first, unassuming and seemingly inoccuous, they can quickly take over a woodland floor or a mind. And with understanding, attention, and compassion they can be culled.
I was discussing with my therapist earlier today how some of my ruminations or intrusive thoughts/guilt have become so ingrained that even though they’ve completely changed parts of my routine, it has become hard to recognize them. I’m just now learning to disengage from them; instead of attaching excess meaning to a thought or ruminating on it, I’ve begun being able to (1) identify it as a stressor and (2) disengage from it. This is similar to my recent having been taught the nature of garlic mustard, a plant I’ve certainly hiked past time after time without knowing it’s tendency to take away from native & ntauralized plants around it.
I don’t believe any plant (or thought), as a thing, is evil – another connection between garlic mustard and the intrusive compulsion. And with regard to plants and living beings I will go into more detail on this in an upcoming post on invasive species. As for thoughts, our minds are connection machines – am I evil and heartless because deep in slumber I have a nightmare where I murder someone? No, I’d say not. But ruminating on the consideration that I might be evil because I had such a mental image is exhausting and changes nothing. Disengaging from thoughts and ruminations becomes important right here.
I’m glad I’ve learned to disengage from many of my thoughts now, and much like the garlic mustard plant I give thanks to my ability to think – I may have an overactive amygdala, but I can still be grateful for the times it’s activity has helped me and my ancestors survive.
Well, technically. I sort of foraged with two friends a few months back but it was less about foraging and more about learning/experiencing the woods that day. But today, thanks to my city’s lovely parks program putting together guided walks with an herbalist, I did my first foraging and flower-eating!
Well, okay, I’ve eaten flowers before. But not flowers I’d picked myself.
So today I learned about:
garlic mustard (*see my upcoming post on invasive species!*)
knotweed (my friend actually taught me about this on aforementioned woods trip prior)
dandelion (the same friend has also taught me some tricks with dandelions)
plantain (not the plantain you’re thinking of)
I really enjoyed the taste of bittercress; I had to stop myself from eating a piece that I’d picked to press in order to remember it’s shape (I ended up losing the piece along the journey home, ugh). Violet flowers also tasted alright. Motherwort was bitter but not so bitter that I was unhappy, and I was told it’s good for cardiovascular support and it’s a nervine.
I think my biggest excitement is stinging nettle. Apparently there are histamines that give you the “stinging” reaction if you handle stinging nettle for too long or without being gentle – and it turns out the stinging can be medicinal! It can promote circulation which, if you have a sac of fluid in your knee six years post-op and numbness, which I do, is nice to know because it can help reduce my swelling! I was quite literally told that I could tap myself in the knee with the leaves and let it sting me. I’m looking forward to this.
And as someone who wants to forage responsibly and for others to do the same, here’s a tip I learned: When plucking nettle, [gently] pluck just above the next leaf layer the same way you would pick basil to make it bushier.
Now, I don’t feel even remotely experienced enough yet to share much about these plants; rather I just want to share my excitement that these things grow in my very own local park! Where there are no pesticides sprayed! And where I may or may not know spots where people don’t walk their dogs where plants are pee-free…
I will share what I made with what I foraged today, though!
New Planties: Crispy Wave Fern, Willow (yes, a whole-ass tree), Zinnia, another Friendship Plant
Seedlings! Both Indoor & Outdoor
Here I have a couple of pollinator see packs. The tiny one is a strawberry plant, and that will be staying inside simply because I don’t have any outdoor space where I teenie weenie pot like that would stay safe. The other two are sunflowers and daisies; I actually have some other sunflower seeds that are going directly in the ground outside tomorrow!
As for these two medium-sized seed potting kits, there’s also not anywhere outside I’d feel super safe keeping them – except for doing exactly what I plan to do, which is creating a way for these little dudes to hang from our big strong maple out front. I’m hoping to make some hemp string hangers for them!
I’m not into bombing – unless it’s seed bombing. These little seed bombs (clay + compost/dirt + local native plant seeds + water) starting to actually sprout while still in the container!
Making them was a blast, and throwing them about has been a blast as well. Hopefully I’m blessed with a beautiful alleyway full of wildflowers this season.
Last but not least for the seedlings – some basil seeds have been laid beneath their elder basil brother!
No sprouts yet, but peep my new yoga gnome thanks to my absolute favorite Pittsburgh nursery (Cavacini’s) – who sort of offered me a part-time position, by the way.
The folk at the counter overheard me talking plants to my family and said “ah you brought your own plant lady!” And later they said “I’m so glad you’re gnome people.” I’m very into gnomes and so is my dad, honestly.
An Artistic Endeavor
This isn’t the artistic endeavor I came here to talk about, but: if I made tee shirts that said “I’m just foraging” or something for people to wear like at the park or something… I don’t know. That’s just in my head.
Anyway – a while ago I started working on a self-portrait based on one of my favorite photos of myself. I didn’t finish it but I’ve decided to scale up and do a canvas painting alla the Andy Warhol fingerpaint of late. I’m feeling the Sunday depressies today (even though it’s Saturday) but I hope my energy’ll be up later and I’ll work on it.
A Curly Girl Success Story
I wanted to be sure to drop this here because (a) I want to be able to replicate it and (b) it took me F O R E V E R to find something that worked to return my hair to how I remember it being at it’s healthiest, so maybe this could work for you if you’re struggling to find a routine for your curls!
So, the morning curl post-cowash* refresh:
Filtered water spray soak – like, I got it basically dripping with a spray bottle full of Brita water
Mielle Hawaiin Ginger organic leave-in conditioner squished in, up to the roots
Denman brush – first just a regular brushing, then brushing from under the roots for volume
Let air dry in the warm weather!
*I had cowashed the day before; this routing was done on none-shampooed, non-apple-cider-vinegared, dry hair.
I’ve been using SheaMoisture intensive hydration conditioner with manuka honey and mafura oil to cowash lately. Occassionally when my hair is super dry I use I AM hydration elation instead. I have not shampooed in weeks, I use a 1:3-ish ratio of apple cider vinegar to filtered water to wash/clarify. My hair is also cut into relatively short layers.