How to Pick Berries

1. As you hang laundry, discover that the blackberries/tayberries are ripe. 

2. Eat one but then show restraint and hang the rest of the load.

3. Go inside for a bowl and a camera and only return with your camera. 

4. Take appropriate documentary photos of the berries

5. Start watching the bees and practice some photography, say shutter speed and auto tracking.

6. Marvel in the different sounds of the different bees and ask some to slow down a tad so you can watch them.

7. Wander around the garden with the camera for 20 minutes or so, photographing whatever takes your fancy. 

8. Discover that the bluebell seeds are ready and pick them to sprinkle in additional patches. 

9. Find yourself out front in one of the aforementioned patches, photographing things and finally remember you were ‘picking’ berries.

10. Get a bowl and begin picking berries, momentarily pretending as berries ‘fall’ into your mouth that you’re sorry that some are just too ripe to make it to the bowl. Dutifully save some for your wife.  

Recharging and Detoxing

I am the kind of person that cannot sleep in and who finds it hard to fall asleep unless I am so exhausted my thoughts cannot even keep me awake. I go to yoga because it feels good but because I get a reprieve from my busy brain. You might think that this says creative and driven, but when the thoughts that spring me from bed each morning are ‘I have to…’ rather than ‘I want to…’, I know that it is overstimulation and burn out. 

When we were camping, I realised something a few days in. I was heading down to the showers and I felt like I was on a time limit, even though no one was giving me one. We didn’t have time specific plans that I needed to be back for and I thought at first that I was still in work mode. Only when I was walking back did I realise that I’ve lived constantly with a mobile phone since I moved here 10 years ago. I used to be able to roam the woods during the summer at summer camp without a phone and have time off completely unplugged. We had radios for emergencies and planning across the camp but when you had time off, you were radio free and able to drift for two hours, the night off, or weekend without checking in before the expected time. People knew when to expect me places and no disasters arose from not being contactable 24/7.

 Riotflower's Realm 
I need to claw back the autonomy from the traceability that we have come to expect and rely on. I also need to shake the feeling that I am always behind or trying to catch up. A few things I am going to be doing over the next few weeks or months:

1. Getting back off facebook. I slipped on for planning something in May and have felt obligated to check it a few times a week since. 

2. Saying NO to the ‘I need to…’ and ‘I should…’ thoughts even if they’re ones I place on myself. Aside from chores, I will not do the things I feel like I need to do (if I feel like I ‘have to’ blog or make a particular thing by a specific time, then it’s probably an indication that it is not bringing me joy but becoming an unnecessary burden).

3. Leave work on time whenever possible and leave it at the door. 

4. Sleep or rest when I feel like my body wants it. If my brain will not calm, I will do gentle yoga or lay down and read. Taking care of myself after work or on the weekends is not ‘failing’ to do something productive. This is a deeply engrained habit/thinking pattern I’m still working to undo from my Ph.D.

5. Reduce the clutter-stimulation in my world: no social media (read instagram), googling or mindless scrolling of pinterest before 8am, or after 6pm. Times may be adapted. Do not play phone games that stress me out, while also working to not be wound up about whatever games I am playing. 

6. Use airplane mode on my phone more often. Evenings when I am home, during the day at work (mentioned to Honey first so she knows I am not in danger if trying to contact me), and perhaps all weekend? 

7. Work towards the goal of separating books from my phone or iPad, or at least seeing it as a digital book reader (airplane mode should help).

Blooming Aloe

In the middle of June (19th), as I stood washing dishes, I noticed a snakelike head (or rather, more asparagus-like) amongst the leaves in our large aloe plant. When my brain caught up, I realised it was finally flowering! I received this plant as a very small baby around (2008 or 2009) and it has given off many baby shoots as it slowly grew. We diligently re-potted them and since 2012 it has sat in the kitchen windowsill. It must now be at maturity (said to take around 4 years) and settled into its current location.   

This is the bloom on 2nd July. 


Botanic Inspiration and Childhood Programming

I grew up with plants in every room of the house. I have certainly said before that I see plants as one of the top crucial design elements. Based on my lifelong love of camping and the time we spent outdoors, I would even be prepared to say that plants come right after basic furniture (you know, a roof over your head, a place to sit or sleep).

As an adult, I have been slowly building my plant collection. As a student this began as the standard spider plant and palms, but around five years ago, I felt the need to begin collecting the plants that signify a home to me. For me, the first step was a snake plant. For Honey, that was an umbrella plant. We obtained both from clippings from other plants.

We have a several other plants in our small collection, but my inspiration is still my mom and dad’s home. I snapped these photos of just their living room and kitchen when I was over. I left the shelves of plants in the back room and the deck plants to imagination. I look forward to welcoming a large philodendron and some pregnant onions into our care in the future.

When my parents got work done on the house in the early 90s, they replaced the window sills in the kitchen, living room and back room with much deeper sills that would hold large plant pots. I think this is probably one of the best renovations ever!

Here are a few photos of their plants for inspiration…

Large window sill full of plants in the kitchen

One kitchen sill

Large window sill full of plants and citrus tree

Indoor citrus tree

When I was little, I was eating a grapefruit and the seed inside had begun to germinate. We planted it. We also planted an orange at one point. I am not sure which one this is, but it is a citrus tree! They have the pot on casters so it is easy to roll onto the deck for the summer.

Burro's Tail succulent

Large aloe plant on window sill

the large aloe

Aloe flower in the kitchen

the aloe’s flower at the top of the 3 foot spike

Pregnant onion plant

an amaryllis 

Pregnant Onion flower

the pregnant onion’s flower spike (just as tall as the aloe’s)

Orchid flower

Lucky bamboo

lucky bamboo they are ‘babysitting’ (permanently?) for a friend

Peace lily and other plants on large window sill

living room window sill

Banana plant

a pot of small banana trees

Large adopted plant

my dad adopted this plant when his workplace closed. It was a scrawny little vine with a leaf or two and he didn’t want to leave it behind. It was quite happy to be adopted!

Oxalis plant with Jade

Oxalis with Jade

Oxalis sharing a pot with a jade plant (pot sharing is something I have yet to figure out)

Large snake plant

one of the large, very old, snake plants scattered around their house. They are at least 30 years old. There is another on the floor in the shot below.

Philodendron houseplant

the philodendron (and a ghost lens reflection) in their living room.

That’s the end of the plant tour! I hope to have a similar collection some day!

Bring a Smile With You

When Honey and I were planning our wedding ceremony with the minister, we could not find a reading that resonated with us. We searched the internet high and low for something that would show joy, reflection, presence and celebration of the natural world. During one search session, after hundreds had been read and dozens more considered then rejected, Honey grabbed the keyboard and wrote a poem. It flowed from her fingers, it flowed from her soul, and in less than 15 minutes or so, she read me a poem that brought tears to my eyes. It was beautiful and perfectly represented who we are and what we wanted.

We used that gorgeous poem and have it tucked into our wedding album. Reading it again just now, I can say that it retains its power and made me tear up again.

Over the winter in 2013, I headed upstairs to the spare room with an intense need to paint. I had a piece of pallet wood waiting and then spent a while playing with the base colour on the board. It went from sky to deep ocean, to woodlands, and settled in to the current background. You can’t really see the depth in the colour when you look at it, but I feel it. After that colour play, I knew that we needed a reminder of Honey’s poem. I found myself using the same lettering that I had used countless times in jr. high and high school- on jeans, backpacks, posters; anything that could be painted!

Bring a Smile with you

It took us until the fall of 2014 to get around to buying the hardware for the back of the board, and until May to hang it up! Somewhere along the way we just got so focused on keeping going over the winter and didn’t know where the board would be best enjoyed. As the days lightened, I knew it needed to go in our living room above the kitchen door.