Saturday, August 31, 2013


I'm not sure what I actually see in this photo. When I look out my living room window, I see this grouping of trees but there, in the distance, is this oak tree that has formed this weird, circular area in the very middle of it. It seems odd to me...not just that there is something missing in the center but that for some reason, the entire center has formed this perfect circle...a portal of sorts. But to where exactly? And why? And do I actually see it...this "empty" space or are my eyes fooling me? After all...I realize that we each can look at the exact same thing and see something totally different. Everything is up to personal interpretation.

And then there is the recent problem with my eyesight that plagues me. I have had diabetes for awhile now and even though I take very good care of myself and exercise and eat properly, there is always that nagging thought in the back of my mind "that some day I might lose my eyesight". I have seen it happen to other people that I know who are diabetics and it is not an easy thing to have happen to you, especially when you consider yourself an artist and need your eyes for so many things. We all need our eyes but it seems like a cruel joke for an artist to lose eyesight. Or a gardener who loves to pull weeds!!

I first noticed that there was something wrong with my eye a few months ago but I passed it off as just some blurry vision or dry eyes. I even thought that maybe I just needed a new prescription in my glasses. Maybe that was all it was. But then one day while driving up the freeway, I noticed that if I shut my left eye and just used my right eye exclusively, the entire fast lane of the freeway disappeared, including the cars that were there if I opened up my left eye. Back and forth, open and close, until I was sure that there was some "blank spot" in my vision. A scary thought, to be sure. I thought I might be experiencing macular degeneration or something more serious. So, I made an appointment with a specialist and he diagnosed me with a condition called Common Serous Retinopathy, which is basically a water bubble in my retina and it is brought on by stress produced from the hormone know...that nasty hormone that makes your mid-section larger.

So, I have been slowly trying to eliminate stress in my life but it seems like it just keeps following me around. I can't seem to leave it in the background unfortunately. My Mom has been in the hospital two times in the last couple of months and she continues to lose weight and require more care than she did previously. What is that term...the Sandwich Generation? That's exactly where I seem to be at the present time...caught the middle. get back to my "portal". I imagine, when I look at this, that it is a place that I can go or that something else can come through. And that it was sent here just for me to use. I have never seen anything like this before anywhere that I have been. I used to lay in my claw-foot bathtub in my previous home and stare out at the trees and I always saw a myriad of things in those trees. There were faces looking back at me. I saw complete heads and American Indian headdresses. Men with long hair and beards. I even started taking my sketch pad in the bathtub with me so that when the faces "appeared" as I gazed out the window, that I could just pick up my pencil and jot down what I saw. And always they appeared in exactly the same place every time. Sometimes when the seasons would change the faces would take on a different appearance because the leaves would fall off. But I could always make out some sort of picture from what was in my vision of the trees outside my window.

I wonder if other people have this happen to them when they gaze outside their windows? When I was in high school I used to lay outside on the lawn or on the deck and see faces or animals in the clouds. Lots of people have done this, I'm sure. I also used to concentrate on breaking up the clouds that would appear in the sky. I would focus on a single cloud as it was travelling in the sky and I would squint my eyes and think to myself "dissolve" and invariably the cloud would totally disappear. Now, maybe it was going to dissipate anyway but it felt exciting to think that I just might have the power to blast a cloud into thin air. You know what they say don't you? THE POSSIBILITIESARE ENDLESS!

And so...each day when I sit in my recliner in the living room and I'm facing the window with the view of the trees, I imagine the possibilities of the places I could travel if I stepped into the portal and transported to another realm. On the other side I could be anyone I wanted to be. I could be any place that I wanted to be. I could time travel to another galaxy if I wanted. Most days I am happy to just dream about where I would like to be. But some days I close my eyes (I don't think I fall asleep!) and I am another life altogether, in a different body, carefree!

Today is your day.
You're off to Great Places!
You're off and away!

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself,
Any direction you choose.

You're on your own.
And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy
Who'll decide where to go."

                 Dr. Seuss

"Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple".     Dr. Seuss

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Pockets of Tranquility

"You owe it to everyone you love (including yourself) to find pockets of tranquility in your busy world." 

Georges Bernanos

What is it about a garden that brings such joy, such peace, such tranquility to a person? Is it just the fact that something is alive, vibrant and healthy or is it something altogether different than that? I have been in all sorts of gardens to know that it isn't always the fact that the garden is teeming with color that makes it magical, at least for me. In fact, Autumn is typically my favorite time of the year yet things are going dormant and turning colors; basically dying. But just being in a garden space or out in nature brings such a peaceful feeling to me that it is hard to beat.

Just today while doing the daily watering of my garden I was thinking to myself (as I do on a daily basis in my garden) just exactly what my garden represents to me. There amongst all the plants that I have purchased at different garden centers were the plants that I brought with me two years ago from my first house. Those plants had special meaning to me and it was imperative to me when we moved that they make the move also. For me, there wasn't even a question as to "if" I was going to transplant them or not. They were like my children and there was no way that I was going to leave them behind.

The lilac bush that my grandmother gave to me which always bloomed on my birthday in April came. The Virgina Creeper, samples of almost every iris that I had, the maple trees that were starting to really take hold yet graced me with the ability to dig them up and bring them over here also came along. And they are still thriving. When our favorite poodle Misty died unexpectedly on Easter Sunday before we moved, we planted a Weeping Cherry tree to help us remember how much we missed her and all the tears we weeped after she passed. This year I planted a Weeping Cherry tree on our new property and even though it is not the original tree, it reminds me to remember Misty. It is a place-holder.

Today, as I watered the plants in the early morning, I glanced at the trees that my friend Bob gave to me years ago. I said hello to the Virginia Creeper passed down to me from my grandmother. She used to have it as a living wall between her house and her neighbor's. Now I do the same. It is gently creeping up a fence on the perimeter of our yard and one day in the near future it, too, will form a living wall blocking out views of the neighbor's yard. And I remembered how beautiful it looks when Autumn arrives and the reds and oranges that the leaves turn before dropping their leaves and going dormant for yet another Winter. 

As I made the rounds of my garden today, bending every once in awhile to pluck a weed out of the garden or to dead-head a plant here and there, a smell drifted past me. It was a very familiar fragrance. I turned and there it was: the rose that I brought home with me from my grandmother's home when she passed away. I have babied that rose for years and years and still it's fragrance and appearance remind me of her. Planted alongside the rose is a walnut tree that will have to be transplanted this Winter. It, too, came from my grandmother and is the baby of the original walnut tree that must be 30 feet tall by now at my old home. One day, there will be a giant walnut tree on this property and it, too, will remind me of its origins.

Plants are what connect us I have decided. They connect us to each other, they remind us of  the person that first introduced us to the plant, they bring us closer to those we love when we can smell and see them growing. Some of my succulents have been passed down to me from my Aunt. Some plants I have received from my cousin because the deer eat them in his unfenced yard. Always, they weave a direct connection in my mind back to the source of where they came and for me, that always leads me to a place of tranquility, to a place of love, to a place of remembering. 

The connections run deep for me in my garden. And it is my hope that when I am gone that the plants that I have passed along to my friends and family, will help them remember me. When they water, they can quietly say "hello Teri...I'm glad that you are here with me in thought". Thanks for the memories, garden! 

"The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quiet, alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of nature."    Anne Frank