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!!

The Lightly Frosted Garden in January

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Tree textures: curly willow (Salix) and Doug fir (Pseudotsuga).
It is not a bad thing—at least in my mind—to wake up to a frozen world outside.
Just a few of my many houseplants in my office/plant room.
With the cold comes sunshine and I can embrace them both so long as the heater is working.
Pieris japonica ‘Valley Valentine’.
With a warm coat and several layers of clothing you’re likely to find me outside now looking around.
Spiderweb frozen in time on a Camellia sasanqua ‘Yuletide’.
Ok, maybe this is a gentle time during the winter for us and I have to admit that I’m more inclined to giggle at the things I’m seeing rather than groaning about the wet muddiness of it all. (That is if I am not cursing the cold. I’m not perfect.)
Clematis cirrhosa ‘Freckles’.
Seeing the blue sky all day warms my heart. I adore the color blue and all that it represents.
Even the ivy that’s considered an invasive plant seems somewhat more tame and delicate with a dusting of the cold frozen dampness.
An Epiphyllum I grew from seed.

Indoors the houseplants are still growing. I sit beside them working while I too bask in the warmth from the heater and I take advantage of the lights intended for their growth.

Some old homes don’t have a lot of windows to let the light in, but I make do.