Marveling at Growth: Caos, Caotico

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It’s feeling a bit chaotic right now. That’s ok with me, but it’s draining if I don’t get enough sleep.

When I feel like this, I tend to smile to myself and my mind switches into Italian to keep from going cray cray.

I open my mouth wide and slowly say, “Caos, caotico.” Knowing I’ve been to the area of ancient Sicily once called Chaos, I remind myself that somewhere in the past, they cared enough about this state of affairs, to name a place after something we tend to deeply fear.

The writer Luigi Pirandello was born there. “I am a child of Chaos and not only allegorically but in reality because I was born in a countryside, located nearby entangled woods, named, in Sicilian dialect, Cavusu by the inhabitants of Girgenti [Agrigento].”

Since visiting that area myself, I tend to think about it, centering in on the idea of it whenever I feel like I’m spinning off balance with too much to do. Instead of getting stirred up by the feelings of chaos and unrest, I sit down calmly at its center and wait for it to pass. Caos. (Chaos.) Caotico. (Chaotic.)

Caos. Caotico. This is my manta.

A favorite vintage Murano glass vase.

At home there is still much planning, sorting and moving to do to make room for other things—mostly plants. Recently, I removed an old cabinet to make room for a large glass tank for my ferns. I’d placed the cabinet there with my ex maybe 17 years ago, and it was cathartic to change things around. Am still not sure how to get rid of the cabinet, but I’m working on it.

Removing things is not my forte, but I’m motivated to keep improving things around here. I can’t take in any more “free” things when folks need help. Part of me just wants to get a small dumpster right now, but I’m going to hold off on that until later. Luckily it’s not that bad, I just really am impatient to have things completed.

The vintage vase above is a large one and a favorite. I hid it outside in the Seed Studio—away from Felix. He loves to break large items made of glass. I think at 5 years old, he’s improving, but I’ll stash this above the fridge soon—just in case.

Seedlings of Sempervivum calcareum ‘Mrs Giuseppi’. I received the seeds during my stay with Panayoti Kelaidis last year.

Between stashing plants, protecting plants, and even dividing some of the hardiest of perennials, I’m trying to sow seeds, sort seeds, clean seeds, and shop for a few for next year too. This is all part of why I want the whole house to be more tidy and organized. It just makes life easier.

I love this time of year though when life shifts from being exhausted from the current year, to being excited about the crops to come. It’s part of the cycle of life and I enjoy this state-of-mind between now and March. This is my time to shine—a sort of golden hour in the dark of winter.

Fall color in the garden at Rancho Cistus, the home and garden of Sean and Preston at Cistus Nursery.

But it’s not winter yet. It can just feel like it is, and that’s also part of the experience of the seasons.

Some days are warm, some days are cold, and I never seem to wear the right clothing. Funny how owning a Jeep is some kind of comfort. I look forward to driving it again in some snow. It was life-changing last year, and honestly, kind of fun.

The book I’ve wanted since I saw it in Georgia at the Begonia Society Convention. It finally arrived!

Along with a pile of books from the library, this gem arrived this week. I’ve long wanted to see a copy, and was able to when I was in Atlanta, so I set about trying to find one online, and I did!

Rekha Morris also spoke while I was there, and it was great to go to her talk. She is a retired professor of art history so listening to her presentation in a dark room reminded me a lot of being back in school.

Standing behind North Falls, in Silver Falls State Park.

The real growth this week was being able to hike 8 miles in relative peace and quiet at Silver Falls State Park. I walk a 4-mile loop once or twice a week in town, and I went on one hike with Evan a few years ago, but overall, hiking has not been my friend since I had the swelling incident after climbing up Mt. St. Helen’s almost 20 years ago.

Our only great hiccup was the number of people either wearing incredibly strong fragrances, or else those who’d washed their clothing in incredibly strong smelling detergent. When I’m outdoors and I choke when someone walks by, you know it’s strong stuff. I react strongly to cigarettes and pot too, but not as badly now as Evan. Luckily we only had a few folks smoking joints on the trail. The fragrances though, wow.

I don’t remember folks smelling so strongly of it when I used to go out into the woods, but I wasn’t as sensitive to it back then.

Glowing in the cold morning along the trail. Forest bathing looks good on me, but it looked great on everyone we passed along the train this Thanksgiving.

That day I did great. I was a bit sore the next, and today I’m still feeling a bit stiff. Overall, the damage was not bad. By Monday I should feel better. It’s mostly my shins, but I can work to ease it from happening as badly next time.

I am more hopeful now than ever—and thankful too. This hike was exactly what I needed.

Evan and some very large Doug firs aka Pseudotsuga menziesii.

Internally I continue to improve and feel better. I’m happy to be alive.

After the hike we returned to the city, I was dropped off, I cleaned up after being outside all day, and then Evan came back to have dinner with John and I.

It was a holiday and we celebrated.

An unknown Philodendron purchased from a collection when the owner had to move.

The houseplants keep needing my love and attention and on top of the work I have to do, I’m sorting them and moving them over and over. The goal now is to get them situated and then paint some more walls before taking photos of them again. I need to change up the house a bit.

I need to redo the bathroom too, but that’s a big project in an old home with only one bathroom. Sigh.

Part of me thinks that the spouse on the spectrum may need to go on vacation for that, but we’ve not yet crossed that bridge.

A Philodendron giganteum received in a trade. I finally have a nice start of the plant above to send back to this Instagram friend, but I’ve waited a bit too long…

So not a lot of rest going on around here—and it feels chaotic—but there’s wild and fun growth and change! So many positive and good things are happening. I just need to keep checking things off of my list and keep going to bed early.

I need to be ready for whatever comes next!!

It Only Took 30 Years…

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This blog has been criticized in the past for being too personal, and to be honest, it was started because I couldn’t work, was too disabled to work, and I longed to be working outside, to be free, and to be healthy. My feelings and personal life were bound to leak in. And yet, somehow, creating this blog has led to many opportunities over the years.

Yucca rostrata ‘Sapphire Skies’ in the garden at Secret Garden Growers. This plant was selected from seed by my other employer and mentor Sean Hogan. It is so great to work in a community that appreciates the skills and accomplishments of one another.

I wanted to live with dignity. I had spent a long time working hard to receive an education, to find flexible employment, and to be creative. It’s been a slog keeping it all together. There is A LOT of ugly that I’ve had to pass through. Through it all, I’ve become stronger and wiser.

Felix was a bit chilled this last weekend when it was cooler. He enjoyed having the frost cloth made available to him.

Several weeks ago my life changed in a big way. I didn’t immediately announce anything here, and it will take nearly 6 more months until we see the full changes, but I’m happy, and my body is changing.

Finally, I’ve been given the right pill to help that which ails me. It’s a new medication. “ORLADEYO® (berotralstat) is a plasma kallikrein inhibitor indicated for prophylaxis to prevent attacks of hereditary angioedema (HAE).”

So far, it’s helping me. 

Streptocarpus UA Tiramisu.

It is difficult to not be angry about losing so many opportunities, and to have faced challenges I failed at, and to not like what illness has done to me physically, but I ran out of anger 11 years ago.

Eucomis ‘Sparkling Burgundy’ look great when planted in a large open bed with tons of sun.

My immunologist let me know that she’d be resubmitting a request for me to receive the new pill for my condition. It’s a very expensive treatment, and up until now, I was never ill enough for anything other than anabolic steroids and other meds that have acted like bandages.

I didn’t expect that I’d be approved immediately. Over the years, we’ve tried, and always had to resubmit, and I gave up any expectations.

So just to stay calm, I planned my trip ahead of time not knowing what would happen.

I wonder who the crazy lady is who lives here with all of the plants in her window…

I have a blood disorder and it causes me to swell, a lot. It has wrecked havoc on my life since I was 18 but it wasn’t diagnosed until I was nearly 30. No treatments have really helped, but we were able to reach the point where I could work in horticulture more and more. This has not been easy though.

Pelargonium ‘Xochi’ is a stunner.

There are no savings to take a month off, but I’m working like crazy so that I can go on a plant vacation soon. Right now, I’m adjusting to the new medication and I’m walking a lot at night to process how I feel. These last few months I’ve been flooded with emotions. I’ve had a lot of medical appointments leading up to this, all in the hopes that I’d gotten worse so we could prove somehow that I needed help.

We’ve been doing this for years, and it is not a process I’d recommend. This time, though, I got help.

Aristolochia fimbriata in the garden.

Overall though, I feel calm now. Swelling in all of us sets off alarm bells. I’m not dealing with that daily anymore. I’m taking one day at a time. I’m living in the present. I am enjoying a calm and quiet mind.

Yes, one of those Monstera deliciosa ‘Albo Variegata’ plants. I’m selling a few of these that I never got around to unloading after my LAST trip to California last fall. This is the most lovely one.

Each day now I’m just kind of letting things flow and I’m not pushing hard. I’m focussing on eating a large dinner so that the new pill won’t make me ill, and I’m sleeping a lot more. I am soooo tired.

I have fought so hard, and it has been a very lonely and isolating experience.

xGlokohleria rosea given to me by my friend Derek.

There is time up ahead to spent with my dad, I’m getting the garden under control before I leave, and I’m making plans with friends. I love and adore those who’ve been by my side for so long. They’ve helped me so much, and so often.

Seemania ‘Little Red’ aka Gloxinia ‘Little Red’.

At work I’m paying attention to the plants, but I’m also trying to notice if there are any changes I’m experiencing that I should tell my medical team about. No one is certain how this will change my other conditions. I’m hoping my lungs are better, and that some of the circulatory issues improve, but we need to wait and see.

In the meantime, I’m trying to buy more clothing and take care of me. I don’t know what I will do next.

“You shall not pass!!” Felix blocking Alfie from crawling up into his personal private area in the Seed Studio.

Spending time with the cats at home is kind of what I focus on now. I’m working so hard so I can travel and live my life, but I miss the cats a lot when I am not here.

This last weekend Felix, Alfie and I started to sort out the Seed Studio a bit for an HPSO Open Garden this next weekend. (It is Saturday and Sunday from 10-3 if you’re local.) I’m not at all ready for it, but I will do it anyway.

I seriously cannot believe that I’m at this point in my life.

I have cried so many times about not getting the medical help that I needed, and now, here I am, at 48, finally getting some help. They made the process for approval very easy and I was told that they were aware stress could cause problems for my health, and that they wanted to alleviate that.

Seems like something I would have loved to have heard for decades.

Me on a good day. Not all days right now feel this good. But this day, it was nice.

It only took 30 years, but here I am, unsure of what I’ll want to do next, but at least I have finally been given the medical opportunity I’ve waited so long for…