Journey 81: Sunday Peace

sunday peace door

On this gorgeous spring day peace, at a soul level, was the theme. I spent part of the day with my mom and sisters, chatting and visiting a local flea market. I just browsed today, not finding anything that caught my heart strongly.

Returning home mid-afternoon, I discovered Greg had been at work on the green door that slides open, allowing passage into the backyard garden. I call this garden gate my Peace Door, for my desire is that all who enter through that door will experience peace and joy as they are surrounded by beauty and whimsy. Greg had a sign made that he attached to the door today: “Peace to all who enter in”. I am so thrilled! I have looked and looked for such a sign to greet visitors to the garden. He had the sign custom made to fit over one of the frosted window panes. It looks amazing and peace floods my soul just reading the blessing.

sunday peace sign

The warm temps and bright sunshine called to me and I remained in the garden, pulling a few early weeds, tidying up beds, inspecting for signs of awakening. I found them. To my delight, signs of life were everywhere in the garden. Green shoots are pushing up through the ground. The ornamental grasses have slender bright green stalks appearing. And the young lemon balm leaves released their citrusy scent as my fingers brushed against them.

sunday peace day lilies

sunday peace german chives

I recently purchased anti-gravity chairs for the brick patio. Last year I searched for them as end of the season clearance items, but orange chairs were all I could find. I passed. Last week, I found the chairs in a light brown color and for $20 less than the clearance chairs! I have been anticipating reclining back in the garden, soaking up sunshine. This afternoon, I did just that. With a garden hat shielding my eyes, I sank back with a deep sigh of contentment, eyes closed, listening to the twittering of birds. The drone of city traffic slipped further and further away and peace settled over me like a bright billowy cloud. What bliss. I foresee many happy and relaxing moments ahead, enjoying the comfort of those chairs.

sunday peace anti gravity chair

sunday peace anti gravity chair 2

I am grateful for Greg’s gift. He not only had a sign made that expressed my desire for the backyard garden, my own Rivendell, but he also spent his afternoon installing it and then checking and maintaining my Peace Door. There truly is a peace that passes all understanding. I choose to experience that peace, no matter what else is going on. I choose to offer that peace, to all I encounter and especially to those who spend time in my garden. “Don’t let people pull you into their storms. Pull them into your peace.” says Kimberly Jones. Join me in my peace. Join me in my garden.

sunday peace

Journey 38: Hope of Spring

Hope of spring dandelion

With the temperature in the low 70’s today, it seemed as if spring was stirring, even though the date, February 7, would deny that. Sunshine and a warm breezy afternoon offered an invitation to be outdoors, which I readily accepted.

Gathering gardening tools and my heavy gloves, I headed into the backyard to take advantage of the unseasonable weather (we broke a record today for high temperature) and bring some tidiness to the flower border and the apothecary garden. The first thing I saw as I entered the yard was a dandelion in bloom. What a sweet harbinger of spring!

Hope of spring messy garden

And what a blissful couple of hours spent doing one of the activities that I most enjoy. Gardening is therapeutic for me, a way to expend energy and move my body while absorbing the beauty and peace in nature. Even with the brown plants, the garden is beautiful and restorative to my body and soul. Using loppers and long bladed shears, I cleaned up the hosta garden and the southern border, cutting back dead vegetation and pulling a few courageous blades of grass. The garden slumbers now, yet soon the border will be alive with colorful perennials pushing up through the soil.

hope of spring marco

Before moving to the herb garden, I pulled a canvas chair from the garage and sat in the sunshine, head tipped back, eyes closed. Birds twittered all around me and the breeze felt fresh on my face. The cats, sensing my whereabouts, joined me in the garden, playing among the dry ornamental grasses, and taking turns sitting on my lap. When I returned to work, the youngest, Marco, stole my chair, curling up to nap in the sunshine.

hope of spring cleaned up garden

The apothecary garden gave me such joy last summer and in the fall, bountiful clippings of herbs which I dried and have used over the winter. As I cleaned up the area, cutting back plants that are dry and brown above ground, they released their aroma into the air. I removed my gloves so that the scents transferred to my hands. I stopped often to stretch my back and bring my cupped hands to my nose, inhaling spicy basil, pungent rosemary and tangy lemongrass. That gave me an idea. I collected the clippings in a bucket, eyeing my fire pit.

As the sun began to sink toward the horizon, I finished my tasks for the day and returned to the brick patio. One of the things I enjoy doing with dried herbs is making my own potpourri and burning it on a small briquette of charcoal. The earthy, fresh scent that rises into the air with the smoke fills my home. I have never burned dried herbs outdoors. Making a small framework within the fire pit, using a few small branches, I added the herb clippings and set the pile ablaze. Because of the breeze, I used the mesh cover on the fire pit. The spark leapt into life, creating a homey crackling fire, and fragrant smoke roiled into the air. I settled into my lawn chair with a contented sigh and watched the result of my work burn away, gifting me as it did so with an amazing scent.

hope of spring herbs

As the sun dropped below the level of the privacy fence, a bright red spot of sunlight appeared in a gap between boards. I was intrigued with the illusion of twin flames, one within and one without the fence, beacons of light and hope. What a beautiful finish to the day. Tomorrow, which promises to be just as warm and sunny as today, I will trim back the ornamental grasses, in preparation for their new growth this spring. I bought a new power tool today, an electric hedge trimmer, just for this task. I can’t wait to try it out!

hope of spring two fires

Day 211: Complete the Pathway on the South Side

pathway curve e

I’m very thrilled with the completion of the garden pathway, on the south side of the backyard. This was a two day project, with the majority of the work taking place yesterday. It was an ideal day to work in the yard….cool, overcast, breezy. I’m very grateful to have accomplished so much yesterday since today my area has been blessed with a steady downpour. In spite of the rain, I added the finishing touches and called it for my first!

The southern flower border was completed last week, and I love the look of it! The pathway, and plantings, ended at the edge of the border and there was an unfinished gap between the Peace Gate and the border. It was time to bridge the gap. With Greg’s help, the remainder of that section was cleared of grass, the pathway dug to a depth of three inches, and the ground on either side prepared.

My first job was to plant ground cover in that narrow space between the pathway and the fence. That task didn’t take long. Next, I gathered an assortment of containers. I had envisioned the area between the pathway and the house as a space for potted plants and flowers. There is a length of concrete there that could not be removed, which left a narrow strip of ground to plant in. I chose to cover the whole area with cedar mulch and place the containers there, to brighten that area.

pathway through the door e

I purchased a variety of succulents and flowering plants, all half price as we are nearing the end of the season. It was fun to pot these plants, using so many different types of containers. I had originally thought I would buy more buckets and metal containers, but I had so many other types of flower pots that I decided to make use of those. These flower pots have found their way to me via yard sales, store sales, and my favorite means….my mom, who picked up several for me at the Recycling Center. I focused on warm colors for the flowering plants, in shades of yellow, red, and pink, and added white begonias for contrast.

pathway interior e

The focal point of the container section is a vintage pot that has been in my family for as long as I can remember. My mom always kept a mother-in-law’s tongue plant in the green and white patterned pot. I have fond memories of that flower pot. Each time we moved, it moved with us. At some point, when I reached adulthood, my mom passed the container on to me. I’ve used it over the years, planting a variety of flowers in it each summer. As I planned the container garden, I knew this old favorite, full of portulaca, or moss roses, would become the centerpiece. I get my resourcefulness, and much of my creativity, from my mom. It seems a fitting tribute, in my garden.

pathway vintage pot e

Lastly, dark brown mulch was brought in, thanks to my friend Tim. He and Greg helped me to fill the new pathway and top off the existing paths with the rich brown mulch. I like the contrast between the two colors of mulch. Outside the sliding door, which I’ve christened the Peace Gate, we set two large rocks. When the rain has moved on, tomorrow or Friday, I will place a few more rocks there and perhaps hang baskets of flowers on either side of the door.

I love the way the pathway leads the visitor past the entry and into the yard. The gentle curve of the path defines the flower border and leads the wanderer to the meditation area. As the flowers mature and fill in, the path will not be visible in its entirety. I hope it beckons and invites exploration.

I stood in the rain, before the closed Peace Gate. I rang the bird bell beside the gate, even though no one was on the other side to let me in. I rang it because I like the sound of the bell and how it announces a visitor. As I slid the door open, an image from The Wizard of Oz flashed into my mind, the scene where Dorothy opens the door of the fallen house and suddenly, the world is radiant in brilliant colors. On this gray day, I too slid open a door, and was greeted with an explosion of happy colors. There wasn’t a yellow brick road to lead me into the garden, but there was a path of dark brown mulch that invited me to enter. Enter I did, and walked slowly down the path, to the meditation area. Turning, I could look down the length of the flower border, to the container garden, to the Peace Gate. I know my smile reached my heart. Bliss.

pathway from meditation area 2e

Day 156: Ultra Detox Bath Soak


Today’s first is something I’ve been wanting to try for months, but the opportunity just hadn’t shown up yet. Tonight, after a busy day, it seemed the perfect time. My first was to experience Dr. Mark Hyman’s Ultra Detox Bath.

This relaxing bath is part of Dr. Hyman’s daily practices during the 10 Day Detox Diet. During my 10 days, I followed the other practices but didn’t get to do this one. Here is the recipe:

Fill a tub with hot water

Add 2 cups Epsom salts, ½ cup baking soda, and 10 – 20 drops of lavender oil.

Light candles, play soothing music, dim the lights

Add one stressed human

Soak for 20 – 30 minutes

The Ultra Detox Bath combines Epsom salts (magnesium sulfate), baking soda (alkalinizing), and lavender oil (cortisol and stress reducing aromatherapy). This delicious ritual creates profound relaxation and detoxification. Soaking in the steaming water gives one the triple benefit of mind and muscle relaxation and whole body detoxification.

One of the reasons I’ve not done this yet is that I don’t have a bathtub. I have a large, step in shower, which is great for getting ready in the mornings. My daughter, Adriel, lives a block away from me. I can see the back of her house from the front of mine. I haven’t wanted to intrude or be there using her bathtub when she or Kelly are home. But tonight, I knew no one would be home, and Adriel not only offered the use of a tub, she graciously offered the use of her deep soaking tub in the master bathroom.

I have to say, I was excited! I gathered up the necessary ingredients, except I lacked Epsom salts, and bagged up several white candles. I just needed to pick up Epsom salts. A quick stop at Walgreens and I was ready to detox in the bathtub! Arriving at the house, I found Adriel had left the tv in the master bedroom tuned in to a music channel. I lit candles and started the hot water pouring into the deep tub. I added the baking soda and the Epsom salts. I paused, inhaling deeply. Was Epsom salts supposed to smell so good?

Checking the label, I discovered I’d purchased Epsom salts with Eucalyptus. Since I don’t believe anything happens by mistake, I considered this a happy occurrence. Adding 20 drops of lavender oil made the bath water and indeed, the whole room, smell wonderful. Sinking into that tub of fragrant, hot water was bliss. Eyes closed as I sank back, I took several slow, deep breaths and allowed my muscles to relax, and my mind to clear of chatter.

The next 30 minutes were wonderful. I sipped cold water. I listened to music. I meditated. And finally, I just allowed myself to be.  I was Cindy, soaking quietly in a tub of hot water, happy to be. Nothing more was needed in that moment. At the end of my bath I was deeply relaxed, content, and I trust, detoxed!

I appreciate Adriel allowing me to use her home and tub tonight. I might want to offer her a monthly fee in exchange for use of that marvelous tub. And it just might be possible that in the future I could be seen padding across the street and vacant lot that separates our houses, hair up, wearing a bathrobe and flipflops, on my way to soak!