Tag Archive: Nature

Growing things

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Fire oasis :)

My fingers are numb, and I’m walking like a bent zombie thing. I wake up every morning and pop Tylenol, cursing mildly because I want Aleve but I promised family I wouldn’t take it anymore (I’m on blood thinners, and apparently this is more than mildly unhealthy to do). I make that groaning growling noise old people always make when getting out of a chair, and stumble to find the coffee.

I’m sore, beat, achy, and ouchie. And I’m so happy. Because I am getting stuff done, you see. I’m not blooming where I’m planted (I hate that!), but I have been planting blooms, and larger things. This year we made the big dirt fire area into an actual fire “pit,” although pit is not the right word. How about oasis? Can there be a fire oasis? It’s not fancy, but it means the world to me. Oh how we’ve bickered through it all, and discussed, and dreamed. And then we just made it happen. Well, I made it happen, and my husband was a wonderful sport with an equally sore back!

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“Before” picture. We still had a lot of fun with fire back then.

When it was finally done, I should have rested. I should have helped John plant the vegetables, something he’d put on hold while I went slightly berserk for a few weeks. I should have started writing the book I’m plotting out in my head. Oh do I have “shoulds.” So naturally, I started another project, the beginnings of what will someday (soon) be a zen/fountain area. I lined the space with rocks, filled with mulch, placed a few plants. And when that was done, I noticed how much I hated the bushes by the side of the house that were blocking the view of the fire oasis from the deck. I began to trim them. A lot. I overdid it but I felt victorious as I limped inside, which was getting to be a regular thing. The next day, I yanked three of the bushes out with some sort of crazy fury. And a shovel.

As I started on the fourth and last bush, something inside my back decided the mild warnings weren’t cutting it and sent a serious message. I begged John for help, and he got the last one out for me. Mind you, these were big things, even after the huge haircuts I’d given them the day before. And John was just trying to work on his vegetable garden in peace. I think this was the day I went inside and begged him to get me one of those old oxycodone pills I’d kept since my back surgery several years ago while I forced myself to be still, but the frenzy is all blurring together now.

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Yes, that’s a gnombie. And an unplanted electric dog fence. #howweroll

The next day I moved the heavy edging blocks into place and built a nice garden area on that side of the deck, mirroring the other side. I moved 25 of those things, and yes I counted through the pain. I also didn’t worry too much about leveling anything, because ouch, screw it. And the day after that I was out buying replacement plants, nothing too tall of course, we must be able to see my fire oasis from everywhere. Then home to plant, a little more mulch, and… Next project!

A landing in the yard by the deck stairs. Someday (soon is likely) it will lead to all the pathways I’m going to make. It was a bigger project than I planned, and my math skills failed me. My wonderful husband spent part of last Saturday running to the store with me for more gravel, and then later by himself for more sand. At some point, he gently tried to tell me one more time about his vegetable garden, and I finally snapped out of this crazed thing I was/am in enough to say oh, crap, I kind of suck, sorry. Then I went and mulched the “island” we’d created last year. And the next day I devoted to helping him by cleaning out the veggie garden area and making a much better looking spot for his new worm growing project among other things. See, the good news is John is also always making big plans, so as annoying as I may be, surely he has to understand at least a little!

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The dogs grooving on our hard work.

Yesterday we finished the landing. John was much more involved, and I think full of forgiveness because I finally helped him like I should have all along. Of course, there’s more to do, more more more. This morning I announced to him that my back was really pissed at me and I planned to do no heavy lifting when I got home from work. I may or may not have been lying.

See, the one thing I can’t seem to get enough of is this crazy hard work/progress sweat. It stings my eyes, curls my short hair into some sort of bad 80s perm look, smells ranker than the middle school locker room, and feels… amazing! I look around in wonder at what just a month or two ago was just a mess of dirt and some crappy bushes, and I think, wow. I think holy shit. I made this. I mean, John made it too, but I’m sort of glowing in the I can do it mode of someone who only ever dug holes to play in the mud before this. I’m a steward, I’m growing things and growing myself, and no wonder I’ve been acting like a crazed lunatic, it’s addicting as hell to create and nurture.

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Birds’ eye view

Did I mention the birds? They love us so much. Sunday John asked me, over coffee on the deck, if I’d seen any hummingbirds yet this year, and I said no, not yet, and five minutes later I heard this noise, which I rudely compared to our largest dog Snoopy passing gas, and there it was,  feasting at the feeders John had hung with homemade nectar. I couldn’t get a picture, but I succeeded in scaring it off. By the time John came out with more coffee five minutes later, two more hummingbirds had visited, and I knew what their chirps sounded like. How had I not noticed that sound all these years?

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Hops and hummingbirds and Buddha :)

Anyway, there’s a lot of metaphors I could put here, which is what I usually do. But the truth is, taking care of nature feels exactly like taking care of nature, and taking care of myself feels like that too. I’m always all too aware that I have lost the chance to raise my daughter, and I think maybe all of this madness has come from rediscovering that I have a lot to offer to the world. I am nurturing, something I’d allowed myself to stop even trying for far too long. I’m good at it, and I’m loving it. Someday maybe I’ll show her all the things I’ve grown into since she left.

In the meantime, there’s some pathways to build!

Yes, that says "live worms" - cracks me up!

John’s veggie garden. Spray paint says “live worms” – cracks me up!

Watering the weeds

my gorgeous gardenia

My friend Mollie called this the world’s tiniest gardenia. But I planted it, and it sure looks huge to me!

People that know me know that I’m what you could call a “recovering doormat.” They also know that I’ve had to work very hard at getting and staying emotionally stable while learning that it’s okay to feel stuff. I spent most of my life thinking I needed a reason, an excuse, and allowing other people (let’s just call them bullies) to tell me my feelings were wrong. I thought I was crazy for even having them.

It hurts me that… No, you’re wrong. Here’s why.

I want to tell you I’m mad… No, you have no right to be mad.

Well, you get the picture. I have stuff buried all over in this blog and poetry place about my mid-life epiphany that I’m allowed to have feelings even if they have no reason whatsoever. And so are you, by the way! So now, these days, when people try to tell me I’m wrong, I actually notice it, think about it, see it for what it is (bullying and control) and then I say to myself, Self, move on. This isn’t someone who will respect you, nurture you, or even make you smile. It’s harder when it’s a relative, but life is short, and my time really is precious to me.

I spend a lot of that time lately weeding the garden. It’s not only healthy for me to be outside moving, but the results are a beautiful space full of balance and color. The weeds I toss into a heap, and that heap goes into a container, and that goes away to wherever the city takes yard waste, with my blessing. Sometimes when I’m rushed I only have time to just water everything, and when I’m watering weeds, I think about life. Yes, I think about life all the time, it’s just this happens to be about weeds. Watering weeds feels wrong to me. All that energy going to something that is trying to take over my lovely space. Energy that could go to my flowers and plants, or the veggies my husband John is growing.

That’s what it’s like trying to fix things with someone who can’t respect your feelings. Sometimes, you just need to put the hose away and stop trying to make flowers out of weeds. Yank them out and toss them in the pile. Then, look at the space you’re creating, smell the flowers, and enjoy the hell out of caring for what you love. My garden is thriving, it’s really my first year feeling this crazy passion for it, and I can’t seem to stop working on it. The birds come and eat at our restaurant and frolic in the bath, and the dogs roll in the grass, and I look around with my husband and I say, Look at what we’ve created here! It’s the same in my heart. I’m not into blooming where I’m planted, but I do love taking charge of my garden. Happy Spring!


Day 22: write a natural poem


Her body swings in the short pink dress
That shows the heavy curve of her hips
And invokes the raw powers of gravity
Beckoning even the most glowering eye
And in her easy way she notices
Without noticing and smiles
At the succulent promises of summer

~ Liesl Dineen 2015


Day 16: Write a science poem



She takes a breath, as deep as she can

And as her muscles contract she pushes

From places she only knows in dreams

Things are happening around her, noises, movement

But she is the push, only the push

And the sweat and the shaking

Somewhere inside her head she knows

The science of it all, the words

Somewhere there’s a plan that she wrote herself

But she no longer speaks that tongue

She is an island of becoming

And can only feel the waves

That push her faster and faster

Toward her making and her unmaking

And into the greatest mystery

That science and man will always

Fail to explain


~ Liesl Dineen 2015

Life after death


Life after death

In spite of the gardeners
Who scour and spray with fervor

In spite of the gardeners
Who growl furiously and stab with their spades

In spite of the gardeners
Who resume the killing with every new dawn

The crabgrass sprouts and the weeds erupt
Sprinkling themselves on the manicured lawn

The crabgrass sprouts and the weeds erupt
Infiltrating the graveyard with unassailable proof of life after death


~Liesl Dineen 2015

July 17

1405651069Crepe Myrtles

The crepe myrtles of summer are erupting now
Buried in layers of implausible pinks
Offered freely to the bees, who devour madly
And to the hummingbirds, silent and exact

Their branches bend wearily toward the dusty ground
And I worry they will break from the burden
Until I realize that they are mothers too
And they will never break

~ Liesl Dineen

July 6


The cardinal came to see me
He didn’t notice the dog
Standing stock still, vigilant for rabbits
Until he’d already caught her eye
Smooth landing became push-off
I never got to say Hello

~ Liesl Dineen 2014


Once upon a time

My bones are made of words

And I am made of stories
Of grimmest fairy tales
And epic odysseys
Of horror and thriller
And mystery too

I bleed in ink on pages
And sleep in paragraphs
I need to tell you what happened
When you were only told
That they all lived happily
Ever after

~ Liesl Dineen 2014

Day Twenty-six



From the Napowrimo Facebook page:

Write a poem in two sections about two completely different things. Have the title link both items in a surprising way.

Today I have my favorite color on my mind. How many references can you find?


Tucked deep in the corner
Of the old overgrown porch
She sits in a haze
Listening to the drip drip drip
Of rain leaving wisteria
Feeling each drop echo
Through the bruises on her skin

Amid sprays of glorious larkspur
The almost-king stood in Tyrian robes
Awaiting the kneeling and the crown
Keenly aware of the costs
The dye made of sea snails
The amethyst offerings
And the love he would never know

~ Liesl Dineen 2014

Day Nineteen


3205899Today’s prompt over at napowrimo.net was to pick an unusual seashell name from a list and use it as inspiration (and in the poem). I chose Unequal Bittersweet, bittersweets being clams from what I can gather on the Internet, and readily found on the Carolina coast I like to visit. And the name itself is poetry, isn’t it?

I’ve been missing the beach, because it really is where I learned to breathe. And so I took a somewhat spiritual walk today.




Unequal Bittersweet

She walks deliberately
Where water meets sand
Leaving behind bare footprints
Which disappear in seconds
Her jeans rolled up but damp
She’s never been good at resisting waves
It’s home, the beach, her heart’s habitat
This is where she learned to really breathe
The belly breath of ocean rhythms
She follows the shoreline
Looking at the washed up shells
And sometimes picks one up
Her gritty fingers polishing whorls and curves
But she releases all of them in time
Apologizing silently as she lets them fall
Remembering little hands
Carrying white handled plastic pails
That filled quickly with the most ‘mazing shells
Each a greater treasure than the last
She brought them home, every one
Souvenirs of time and place
Metamorphosed now to artifacts on shelves
Unequal bittersweet remembrances
And as she combs the past she knows
That she is becoming seashell
Losing vital soft insides
And destined before long
To lie hardened on the sand and wonder
If anyone will ever pick her up again

~Liesl Dineen 2014

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