Not random but various.

Not infrequently the feeling of unreality comes upon me: It doesn’t compute that I am living a full life without my husband. He has not lent his strength to the shovel, or played music while I made dinner, or given me an opinion about one single thing. For three years. Really?? My mind does its best to go along with my body as it sleeps alone, and wakes up alone, walks alone, and makes always unilateral decisions. But occasionally it says, “Wait a minute! I’m confused… Who are we…? I don’t like change!”

I think that’s part of the reason I act as though every little thing I think and do must be documented here or in my bullet journal, or my garden journal, or a letter to someone. I am watching myself, noticing that this strange woman does get up every day so far, and worships, and comes up with new ideas for the garden; she has friends who act as though she is as normal a person as can be.

Of course I mostly go with that assessment without thinking about it. My, do I have friends! They are the greatest. Since Mr. and Mrs. Bread gave me a new Chapel Birdfeeder for my birthday, I also have blue jays enjoying my garden like never before.

Book friends! Several women readers at church have started a reading group. They read Jane Eyre first, but I didn’t join their ranks until this spring when they are giving themselves six weeks to read Work by Louisa May Alcott, a book I’d never heard of. How can I even finish Middlemarch and write about it, much less finish Work? It does seem that I am testing the limits of this new life I am creating, and I act at times like a silly crazy woman. Would I rather spend time on Work or housework? I don’t even know!

My friend “Mr. Greenjeans” and his wife gave me a tour of their garden the other day, and quiche afterward. He is an encyclopedia of plants and loves to experiment with exotic seeds in his greenhouse. This year he has potato towers that have an upper storey that will be for melons!

I was interested in his mystery tree, which he thinks sprouted from one of the seeds in a packet that was a South American mixture. I was thinking “Africa” when I went home and searched online for some tree from that part of the world that had these green-tipped narrow trumpet flowers, and the same kind of leaves. I couldn’t find anything. (My friend Father C. in Kenya said they have this tree, but he doesn’t know the name, and his pictures didn’t look very similar.)

Soon Mrs. Greenjeans clarified that the source was likely South America, not Africa.

Update: Lucky for me Anna in Mexico saw my post and in her comment below she identified it as nicotiana glauca or Tree Tobacco, originating in Argentina.

My farmer friend has also been successful in growing several seedling trees of Red Mahogany Eucalyptus, which makes great lumber, and the Australian Tea Tree, which puts on a gorgeous display of white blooms, and from which he explained how I could make tea tree oil, if I would accept one of the trees he was offering me. But I took home a lovely columbine instead, which I know can find a small place in my garden.

Mr. Greenjeans also makes dough at least half the time for our Communion bread baking teams at church. For some months I have tried to pick tiny pink specks out of the dough as I am rolling it; today I heard that they are from Himalayan salt that he uses! So now I am happy to see them.

I was able to do all these kneading-rolling-cutting things because my sprained finger is finally better! Here is our team leader putting some prosphora into the oven this morning:

Team Leader and my friend (Nun) Mother S. have invited me to go walking or hiking a few times lately. Once we went to the same park I last visited the day of Jamie’s birth, the day after my husband’s funeral! Because of a downed tree blocking the trail …


… we weren’t able to take the shady route by the creek, and the sun was hot, so I lent Mother S. my hat.

Not as many wildflowers caught our attention in May as three years ago in March, but I did find a few.

Back home in my garden, the red poppies have opened, later than the pale yellow by a month. My skirt blew into the frame for contrast.


The last time I walked by the creek – at least a week ago! – I cut these roses, which because of the way they naturally fall over a fence are curved all funny and do not work very well in a vase, unless you put them on the top of the hutch the way I did, so that they hang down above my head as I sit here at the computer. Sweet things!

Last weekend son Soldier and his family were here, which made for a splendid couple of days. Liam is nearly six years old. He reads everything, and I saw him poring over a few books from my shelf…. That was a new thing, and a little sad, because he never asked me to read to him, but he did help me cut up my snowball clippings. He is good with the loppers or rose pruners.

P1000485Tomorrow I’m showing one elderly lady from church my India pictures. The next day I’m visiting my friend E. who is 102 now and who gave me the knitting needles that her mother-in-law gave her when she got married! This weekend my friend O. has engaged me to feed his cat Felafel while he is on a trip, and give him thyroid pills in tasty pill pouches. I met Felafel tonight and he is very friendly and agreeable.

For Soul Saturday I’ll make a koliva because my goddaughter Kathie’s 3-year memorial is near. And Holy Spirit Day, the day after Pentecost, is the same as Memorial Day this year; we have a prayer service at a cemetery. It’s quite a week, busy with various good things. And this is really me!

15 thoughts on “Not random but various.

  1. Dear Gretchen, I am thankful that you were able to offer your prosphora preparation services. I believe that God listens to the prayers of prosphora bakers.  I am also thankful that Mother S can share some of your adventures with you. I am sipping camomile tea at 4:30 in the morning and trying to focus my mind on the miracles in my life and not the worries.  You are in my prayers, dear. Would you have time for tea on Saturday?   Love, Christie

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Gretchen – that mysterious plant is Tree Tobacco (nicotiana glauca). It is a roadside weed here in Baja, but it is originally from northern Argentina. I love it! We have one in our yard – a volunteer. I have tried transplanting these (from the roadside into our garden) but they don’t transplant well, at least not in our area.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Anna! Just before you commented, Mrs. Greenjeans wrote to clarify that it was a packet of South American seeds that was suspected of being the source – not African – so that all lines up now!

      And it’s really good to hear from you!!


  3. That columbine is gorgeous! From my childhood, I remember a beautiful little pale yellow and pink columbine plant that grew in a niche at the conjunction of two vertical brick walls that formed part of the north facade of a duplex 2 doors down the street from my house. It was completely ignored, and survived the sub-zero Butte, Montana winters. I love columbines, but I don’t think I could grow one in the summer heat of my town…


    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m sure the feeling of unreality you have is magnified by widowhood but for myself I find that now, in my seventies, I also find myself wondering how this can still be the me that was all those other ages.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I once read the observation (and of course can’t recall the source) that as we age, we only become more fully and more truly the person we once were as children. One of my blogging friends who’s gone on to pursue other interests had an image of a young girl in her sidebar, and a line or two about how she was in the process of growing younger each year: that is, becoming more completely who she was born to be. I love that, and see hints of it here.


    1. Linda, I often think of a line I read on your own blog, about your being “a shadow of your future self.” Your thoughts here elaborate on that idea, perhaps…

      When the question is asked, What is your “true age”? or “How old do you feel?,” I have often responded that I experience myself as being all the ages I have ever been: my cumulative self involves some amount of re-creating after a big change such as I’ve experienced, but it must necessarily be built on and incorporate all that’s gone before.

      Your comments are sweetly encouraging. Thank you!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. The columbine gift is a beautiful one and I hope it thrives in your garden. I agree with Granny Marigold’s comment above about feelings of unreality. Sometimes, when I think back over my life, I marvel at the things I did and the woman I’ve become, by God’s grace. We cannot prefigure the future at all.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Interesting this blog of yours at this time. It is Memorial Day Monday. Here in Oklahoma we tend our loved ones gravesites. I really appreciate this practice. We can validate our feelings. And talk openly about our Darlings. My friend is taking her granddaughter with for the first time since she was a child. It gives her the opportunity to talk about her departed family including my friends husband. I was speaking with my new neighbor in our gardens yesterday, I realize I still feel the loss of my better half intensely. I still talk to him out loud. I told our parakeet, Peta-Pie, that I did not think Papa would have liked Vanna White’s dress tonight on Wheel of Fortune. Love you

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Do you have fresh flowers from your garden on your dining table every week? The roses are wonderful. I usually put the flowers on a big white bowl with water.


    1. Beginning a few weeks ago, I think we have had fresh flowers pretty regularly. I often forget to make it a priority to find some to bring into the house — I don’t have a “cutting garden,” and many of my ornamentals don’t easily display their beauty after cutting — but it certainly adds to the ambience to have flowers indoors!


  9. Your posts make me want to say something profound sometimes. But in truth, I just happen to love the way you traverse simple and complex things of life. But as for being alone, I do not know that form of aloneness yet, and my imagination would only be a faulty perspective at the most. But I am glad you still speak of it, perhaps you should always have times of speaking of it. Three years…

    Liked by 1 person

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