Ramblings

One of Those Days

Ever had one of those days where nothing seems to go right, a day where everything, in fact, goes the opposite of right? A day that deteriorates to comic proportions, everything about it unraveling until it becomes almost predictable. Every joke’s on you.

It seems almost surreal, doesn’t it, like a conspiracy of the universe to destroy you? Karma is pissing on your head. Practice deep breathing and visualization, stress management techniques and transcendental meditation. Practice aggressive passive aggression. Stay calm in the face of cacophonous calamity. It could be worse, right? The universe can only nod its head in your direction, an unwavering affirmative to your inquiry and thanks for asking. It could be worse and so it is. Care to wager again, double or nothing perhaps?

Laughing helps, but there’s a point where laughter becomes hollow and painful, a point where laughter makes the hurt worse. At some point the body and mind become numb, survival mechanisms kicking in and flooding your neural circuitry with endorphins to lessen the anguish. It could be worse becomes it’s not so bad. Turn that frown upside down and buck up buckeroo.

There’s always tomorrow.

Having a bad day? (by Missy13d69 on Flickr) – CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

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Aloe Vera Love

aloe flowerI originally bought this little Aloe plant when I was a sophomore in college more than 20 years ago. I remember going down to the local Westside Santa Cruz Nursery and picking out two little succulent plants—a Euphorbia trigona that eventually grew about five feet tall (and I have no idea what happened to), and this little Aloe vera. I wanted to create an indoor plant haven in the breakfast nook area of the house my friends and I had just rented. Every plant placed in that space flourished wildly, and that sunny little breakfast nook soon became known as the jungle room. Every plant in the jungle room was so happy. I even had a coffee plant that flowered and produced about 20 coffee beans, something I’ve never been able to recreate.

Fast forward about five years. I was beating a hasty retreat, having purchased a van and dedicating myself to the lifestyle of a nomadic surf bum, I was finally moving out of that house and liquidating many of my assets. Not trusting this particular collection of roommates, I started giving away many of the plants in the house to responsible non-alcoholic types, including the enormous  Yucca I had brought to college with me.  I wanted to take the Euphorbia to live with me in my van, but its length and spines made it impractical in that small space. So I decided to take my Aloe vera with me instead. After about 2 weeks living in my van it became apparent that the environment was too extreme for the Aloe. It was not happy with the daily temperature swings, and a couple times it had baked in the direct midday sun, a definite no no for an Aloe vera. After only a couple weeks it already looked wilted and sad, shrinking a little everyday instead of growing. I realized I had to give it away if I wanted it to live, so I gave it to a friend that lived close to the Boardwalk. She planted it in sandy ground, in a protected little corner of her yard, and the plant grew with renewed vitality.

A couple years later, when I was no longer living in my van, I was presented with a gift from the same friend, a little Aloe vera pup she had dug out of her yard and potted. I have been doting over it carefully ever since, and it has grown large and impressive for an Aloe vera. It flowers 2-3 times a year, and usually produces about 7 seeds that never sprout. I have a large container full of frozen aloe leaves in my freezer, which has become my way of preserving the leaves broken off during the tumult of life.  I had loved something and let it go, and a little piece of it had made its way back to me.

I’d like to think it loves me too.

Posted for the DP Weekly Writing Challenge: Memoir Madness

Zig Zag

“Nature abhors a straight line.” – William Kent (via)

While nature provides many shapes that are pleasing to the eye, such as the parabola, the spiral, and the ellipse, the straight line is far less common in the natural world. It is human’s folly to try to impose such rigid regularity onto our constructs and architecture.

The zig zag is also a pattern that is seen regularly in nature, and sometimes it seems like an attempt at at straight line before the invisible artist that shapes the universe changes it’s mind.

Posted for the DP Weekly Photo Challenge – Zig Zag

Expect the Unexpected

Carl Sagan“Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.”
― Carl Sagan (via Goodreads)


In sixth grade science students are still learning the basics of the scientific process, which in our curriculum involves six steps: problem, hypothesis, materials, procedure, data, conclusion. We really try to hammer home all these parts in sixth grade, so that in seventh and eighth they can begin designing their own experiments with control and experimental sets and carefully measured data.

When we start any lab we alway start with the problem, which is a question that the students hope be able to answer by the end of the lab. Then comes the hypothesis, which is the prediction (educated guess) to the question they’ve asked. We ask them to write down what they think is going to happen and why.

Later on during the conclusion portion students are usually asked to reflect back on their hypothesis and decide if they were right or not. Often times they feel that if they have gotten the hypothesis wrong then they have somehow failed the experiment, but this is totally backward. It is through the observation of the unexpected that scientific knowledge is advanced. If the experiment goes exactly according to plan and the hypothesis is totally correct, then we have learned nothing. It is only by observing what we don’t expect that we learn anything at all.

Of course the sad part is most people only see what they want to see, which is what they expect to see. When you expect the unexpected you may actually learn something new, so search for the unexpected, not only in the science lab, but in all aspects of life. Expect the unexpected.

Science experiments can be truly amazing! (by George Thomas on Flickr – CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Floraphilia

flora (ˈflôrə) noun; the plants of a particular region, habitat, or geological period

phile: (combining form) denoting fondness, esp. an abnormal love for a specified thing.

I live in California. I grow plants and take photos. I run a school garden and teach Science. I am a floraphile.


 

Screen shot 2014-07-13 at 10.08.18 AMThis is the tagline for my Tumblr, which is where I post about my adventures as a plant fanatic. It started from a New Year’s resolution in 2012, and this Tumblr essentially jumpstarted my floundering creative potential. It started out with me just sharing other people’s photos of plants, and then I soon began taking my own photos. Then I got a better camera and started taking better photos. I tried to capture the photographic evidence of the beauty I witnessed in my own garden. I wanted that sense of calm and serenity I feel in the garden to be delivered through my photographs. Not sure if I can succeed in this, but I keep trying.

Just the act of creating my own content soon led to other things. Soon the writing began. Then a workshop, an online course, a novel in progress, a slew of potentially mediocre short stories. Then this wordpress blog happened because I needed somewhere to put all these extra words. Frankly, the wordy posts I had been composing about my plants hadn’t exactly proved popular on Tumblr, and every time I posted a short story at least ten people immediately unfollowed me. I have a sneaking suspicion that many Tumblr users refuse to read anything longer than fifty words, but I’ll be damned if they don’t like a pretty picture of a succulent. So now, I’ll just have to subject the blogoshpere of wordpress to all my rants, raves, and unfortunate literary transgressions. I apologize in advance.

This is a collection of some of the photos from my garden that I posted this week.

Originally posted on flora-file.tumblr.com

The Book Hoarder

I’ll admit it–I am a borderline hoarder. I keep things I know I probably won’t need, thinking that in some convoluted wrinkle of fate it will come in handy during a future crisis. In truth, I’m afraid the ironic tendency of the universe will cause me to need any item I  dispose of, most likely moments after the recycling truck takes it away forever. Some items have travelled with me through numerous moves, and though I don’t need it currently, I just might someday, and then who will be laughing?

But books are different. Back during my impressionable twenty somethings I used to love to go to used book stores and peruse the shelves for esoteric and thought provoking books that I didn’t necessarily want to read, but I wanted people to think I read. Sometimes I actually attempted to sit down and read the books, but for some reason or another never finished. I usually read just the introductions or maybe the first chapter so I could sound like I knew what the book was about, in case anyone asked. I wanted to seem all philosophical and well read without actually putting the time in to read. My problem is I am a pretty slow reader and I have ADD. Sometimes I read so slow that I get distracted in the middle of the sentence and have to start over. I can’t read fast enough to keep my own attention.

I bought the books because I was always told that writers must read a metric ton to find inspiration and to learn the craft. I was also told that if you want to be a writer then you should buy books written by other people to support the business. I liked to imagine what my own book would look like on the shelves. At one point I had milk crates full of these used literature and philosophy books that I schlepped around with me so I could put them on my bookshelves and look at them. I have sold and donated boxes of my books in recent years, but not all of them. Some I have held onto. Some I still hold the illusion that I will sit down and read someday, which is why I haven’t gotten rid of them yet. I was curious what books I hadn’t sold, so I went into the garage and looked.

So without further adieu, here are twelve plus one of the outrageous, audacious, and courageous books I found hoarded away in my garage. I will include a jacket blurb, and just what in the hell I was thinking when I bought it in the first place. (more…)

Is it today yet?

Yesterday is uncertain,
distorted by memory and the
unreliability of eyewitness reports.

Tomorrow is unpredictable,
a glittery bauble dangling
like a carrot on a string.

Today is all we are assured,
so pay attention and
make it count for something.

Is it today yet?

…Time… (by ĐāżŦ {mostly absent}) on Flickr – (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Today’s rant was a piece of philosophical nonsense that had snuck its way into a story I was writing. I was about to erase it into the ether of the delete key when I decided that it sounded slightly poetic. Rather than delete I should post it as a sappy poem here instead.  But the question remains.

Is it today yet?