plants and resurrection

this morning i did what i have been putting off for over a month now-i repotted the house plants!  we have 3 aloe plants and an avocado plant that needed to be repotted.  i used to have tons more plants, and i am planning on getting more, but cats….cats and plants are mortal enemies, and sadly enough the plants usually lose in the ongoing war.

the aloe plants are having babies all over the place.  in the biggest aloe, her name is mother jo, she had 8 tiny babies!  vera jo had 4 babies and unknown had 2.  they were in dire need of new soil and a bigger home.  it was time to separate mothers and babies, but they are close enough so there hopefully won’t be too much trauma or separation anxiety.  for those of you out there who think it is strange to attach human emotions to plants, you have obviously never sat with plants much.  the more you talk to them or sing to them the bigger they grow and the more fruit they produce.  the scientist side of me says this is a result of close contact with carbon dioxide.  the sage in me says it is because they are living breathing creatures and they are a part of the natural cycle and they thrive when loved like every other living creature.  either way, it is the same end-love your plants they will love you back!

i did not plant a garden this spring, which makes me feel a bit uncool.  i love to garden and i love having fresh food for my family and friends.  i just did not have it in me to do one.  next year will be different.  the spring of 2012 was the best garden i have ever grown.  we planted cucumbers, tomatoes, bell and jalapeno peppers, and watermelon-which was the only thing that did not survive.  we had 10 cucumber plants, all of them fruited tremendously!  we would end up donating at least 20 cucumbers the size of a normal sized man’s forearm every week.  we planted 10 cherry tomato and 10 heirloom tomato plants and they all fruited abundantly but homegrown tomatoes don’t last from the garden to the door around here.

my daddy was an avid gardener.   he was always working in his lawn and garden.  he would have tomatoes, corn, peppers, onions, herbs, carrots, and random other veggies.  he also had a lemon tree that provided fruit that lived inside the house.  when eli was a little bitty boy he would follow my dad around, his pawpaw was one of his most fav adults in the world, and would go behind him in the garden to pick veggies.  my dad would give eli a basket and tell him to pick all the tomatoes that were red.  eli’s basket was always empty bc he would just eat the tomatoes.  my daddy would just laugh.  eli would also pull out the radishes and eat them covered in dirt.  my daddy loved taking eli into the garden and watch him love the veggies that were planted and nurtured by his own hands.  there is something right about that.

when my daddy got sick and his spinal stenosis grew worse he couldn’t do most of the things he was used to doing.  he was a welder by trade and you must be able to use your arms and hold them steady.  the stenosis was prominent in the c1-c3 area of the spine, so it pinched the nerves that run down the arms.  my dad could no longer work.  he lost his job and his house that he lived in for years and years that he had put blood sweat and tears into was foreclosed on and he was forced to move into a gov subsidized apartment which was a disgrace to him (my dad judged himself based on his work and the amount of money he was able to provide to his family.  this is a common trait among men my dad’s age).  so he left the house and the garden behind.  he planted some tomato plants in pots and kept them out on the porch, but it wasn’t the same.  he was not able to move his hands well enough to garden anyway.

my daddy committed suicide.  the spinal stenosis was not the only health issue my dad faced.  he had active hep c, which he contracted back in the late 60’s from sharing needles, his pancreas was no longer producing insulin due to diabetes, his heart was starting to act up.  physically he was in constant pain.  he had lost his home, his mom, his wife, his dog and his garden in a 6 month period of time.  all he saw was a decline in health for the future.  it was not going to get better.  it was going to get worse.  so he did the whole death thing on his own terms.  it makes sense to me.

we had my dad cremated.  it was what he wanted.  i took the majority of his ashes, my sister and his sisters took some.  he had told me several times where he wanted his ashes to go, and he knew i would make sure to do what he wanted.  we put some at the site of his parents graves, his wife’s grave, the family farm and the family cemetery.  then in 2012 the boys, amy and i took a trip to maine.  we made a special stop in tennessee to sprinkle the majority of my dad’s ashes there in the smoky mountains where his grandfather was born.  i am still going to take some to about 20 miles north of san francisco to the site of a hippie commune he lived in for about 2 years.  the rest stay in an urn in the middle of the house, until it is time to grow things.

every time that i have a new plant or grow food, i put some of my dad’s ashes in the dirt.  i see it as a way of allowing him to continue to garden and grow things.  he is still a part of the circle and always will be.  


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