Writing Afresh as Summer Wanes


The pace of days is different now. Late summer glides into autumn as easily as I slide my summer-tanned feet back into warm wool slippers. My eyelids close and I feel chilled air on my skin.

I’m fruit, crisp, ripe on the vine.

Iris domestic (red form) at Rancho Cistus. I just potted up a few flats of seedlings from this plant in the garden.

Waiting much longer for harvest seems an impossibility. My birthday comes soon, and I will be older.

I may begin to rot if I wait much longer. Let’s pick all the fruits of our labors, retreat with them down below ground, into the dark, into ourselves, exploring spirits, dreams, stories—and the silence of the cold.

Soon enough there will be laughter and warmth around tables. Fire will burst forth in homes, and we’ll curl up like grubs, in our own underground. It’s inevitable, and I’m not one to resist the call of the wild, the rewards of each season, the cycle of friendship, family, and life.

Stachys albomentosa ‘Hidalgo’ at Secret Garden Growers. We’re working on making a few more.

The sun rises at 6:30am and sets before 8pm. I feel the clipped days right now. My eyes strain to see as I drive again in the dark. Sweater shopping is underway. There is a sense of urgency. The air smells different each day.

Figs from a clone of the tree members of my Sicilian family brought to the United States over 100 years ago. I know the current owner of one our family homes in SE Portland and was able to take cuttings of it a few years ago.

We’re entering the days of umbra and penumbra. Shadows lengthen and I feel a craving for books and words.

As a girl I read constantly, daily, unceasingly. Nowadays, I’m often too busy, but my life is changing, and I am too.

My priorities are shifting back as I continue to receive treatment for my blood condition. My mind is unwinding and I feel the water rocking me gently as I write again. There is a stillness and a calm as I meditate with ease.

My heart is beating slower, stronger.

Nerine filifolia at work out in Canby. Time to divide the stock plants.

I take deep and looooooooong breaths. Breathe. And for me, I mean it.

While still sensitive to smoke and wildfires, my chest is yet open, and my mind is a treasure chest of memories and feelings.

As I move in the greenhouses and garden, I remember things, movements reveal strings to memories. I’m feeling feelings left unfelt.

Seemania (aka Gloxinia) ‘Little Red’ out in Canby this week. I love this John Boggan hybrid.

I experience them all—then cut the cord, and let the memories drift away.

Like saying goodbye to an old friend, sometimes I hold them close for too long, kissing them hard, and I straighten out to see myself holding a plant I once loved, but it’s faded and gone.

The fading bloom from a Leucanthemum x superbum ‘Esther Reed’ at Secret Garden Growers. We will have more available soon.

In spring, we emerge, reborn, and fresh again.

Our feet will emerge again, soft and pink.

It Only Took 30 Years…


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…