February “Vacation” Week

Jim, my husband, teaches sixth grade. Will, my son, is in fifth grade. This is February vacation week for both of them, but I think Will is actually having a bit more of a vacation experience than Jim.

Jim is renovating our pantry/laundry center/storage of miscellaneous items room. You know the room. You may have one yourself. It’s not exactly a showpiece.

Jim started vacation week with a weekend dash to Connecticut to visit his mother. He didn’t ask those of us who remained at our posts to prep for his “vacation project” but we decided to pitch in any ways. Even after I convinced him to do half this project now and half during his April vacation, it felt like what he had planned for phase one was a bit ambitious, as in no time for eating or sleeping.

One child and I spent Sunday taking all the food out of the pantry, sorting it by categories, and putting the sorted boxes in our playroom. Several other children, who will remain nameless, spent the day rooting through the boxes for the food necessary to sustain themselves through an arduous day of sleeping in and having friends over.

When Jim arrived home on Monday morning, he went right to his work zone. Within hours all the miscellaneous stuff I hadn’t sorted was deposited in our living room. After all, the playroom was already full. Jim also demolished the pantry floor and most of the pantry shelving too. He was a man with a mission.

We call our pantry “Jim’s office”. When he wants to have a tete a tete within any of us, he calls us into the pantry with the words, “Please step into my office.” This is his undisputed headquarters. Why? Because St. Jim does the laundry.

The room was under designed for our group. Before Monday, it contained a teeny tiny table for laundry sorting, shelves too narrow for anything but a modest volume of food, and a multi purpose area whose life story would be entitled “A Place who does too Much.” We had only two small children when we designed and built the house. At one point this past weekend, there were eight young adults in residence. You do the math.

The aesthetics of Jim’s office were none too hot either. The pantry was assembled on a shoestring budget. Asbestos tiles seemed like a real splurge. On Monday morning, I noted Jim’s glee as he tossed one splurge after another out of the pantry and onto a trash heap.

Monday night found Jim spackling the sheet rock holes left when he pulled off the shelving. This was in preparation for repainting the room Tuesday. I supervised his spackling for a very few moments then joined the rest of the family in front of the TV for some Olympic knitting. It was convenient that snacks could be reached without leaving our seats. I tried not to wig out that people had been messing with my sorting systems. The box of chocolate foods was moved closer. That kept me quiet.

Tuesday was a haze of paint fumes, wiring problems, trips to Jim’s favorite hardware store, and pleasant searches for breakfast, lunch, and dinner ingredients. The big drama of the day was a small flood at midnight. One child, who will remain nameless, suddenly realized that life on this planet would not continue unless a certain piece of her wardrobe was washed and dried immediately. The washer and dryer that had been moved for construction reasons were pushed back towards their original position, but not quite. Sadly, a drainage pipe disengaged from the out take pipe and the pantry flooded. More laundry was created while mopping the newly exposed plywood sub floor.

I have no idea what will happen today. Jim has come through our office once to check that we haven’t suffered any power outages. Apparently the main house has experienced some problems. I thought it best not to ask for details.

Jim’s mania for doing everything himself should not come as a surprise to me. He comes by it honestly. I met Jim when we were both eleven. He was the new boy in my fifth grade class, having just moved from Jamestown, Rhode Island to Mansfield Center, Connecticut where I grew up. It took me until I was seventeen to get his attention, but it was worth the effort.

The first time his family’s Do It Yourself ethic came to my notice was Thanksgiving vacation of my senior year in high school. Jim came to my house, late for a date, with some strange story of being held up because his father and uncle had everyone in the family fixing a septic system problem by carrying five gallon buckets of you know what up into the woods behind his house. My mind boggled. Still does, actually.

My family of origin was the exact opposite. No one fixed anything. Until then, I had not realized what a shiftless bunch of relatives I had. Once I met the Sheehans it was inescapably obvious that we were a pampered group. For starters, my mother had an ironing lady, cleaning lady, painter on retainer, lawn person, team of builders, and a stone mason. Jim’s mom had herself.

Thank goodness for the Sheehan family’s talents and willingness to roll up their sleeves and help with any task. Jim’s father and uncle wired our house. They showed Jim how to do all the plumbing. The two men also taught him how to frame, roof, insulate a house, do finish carpentry and execute all the other tasks associated with building a house . Basically they were on unpaid retainer for several years. The women in the Sheehan family also pitched in by endlessly sweeping the construction site and helping me shingle the outside of the house. We never could have done it without them.

Nowadays, it’s a little hard to get Jim to slow down his project mania. Once it was a necessity. Now, I point out, it’s an option. The house is wonderfully livable. The office building is fabulous. Jim remains unconvinced that there can be a pause in projects. His favorite conversation is what to do with the kitchen when he blows out the south wall of the house and makes it bigger by 120 square feet or so. Meanwhile, I would rather knit than clean a bigger house.

Good news! I have just seen Jim and Will go by the office windows on their way somewhere. Will reports they are going to a movie! Its 1:30 pm and they are going to the movies! After 26 years of marriage, Jim is having a unSheehan moment!

Flower Essences that get the Party started!

The specific terrain, season, community of surrounding vegetation, micro climate as well as the bio-region where a Flower grows affect a Flower and its Flower Essence.

Plants grown under similar conditions in similar micro climates often have Flower Essences that share common strengths.

I hope to eventually write about many different micro climates and the Flower Essences from these places. First, I thought I would look to some Green Hope Farm early spring bloomers for examples of these two principles.

People, myself included, often ask why Green Hope Farm is rooted in this chilly spot. This blog is going to suggest at least one reason: Our harsh climate results in Flower Essences with strong healing vibrations because the Flowers themselves have to be strong to survive our extreme weather. This is a general principle about Flower Essences made here.

Winters here typically include temperatures to 30 below zero. There is virtually no geographic barriers between us and the north pole. The winds that blow across our gardens in the winter literally bring us arctic cold. Snow insulates the plants but during winters when there is little snow and the usual cold, the plants have to survive without the protection of the snow. Our Flowering plants have to be very tough to survive. These survival skills are part of their vibrational gifts to us.

Flowering plants in our climate also must accommodate radical shifts in temperature as well as extreme cold. Lows of 30 below and highs in the 100’s mean plants must adapt to a temperature swing of over 130 degrees in order to survive. Consider how different this is than a Caribbean climate where the temperature swing is about 40 degrees. Consequently, the Flowers from Green Hope Farm and their Essences embody an incredible flexibility and adaptability. This is a second general principle about Flower Essences made here.

Let’s consider in particular the Flowers that bloom here during the coldest months of late fall, winter, and early, early spring and see what specific gifts they offer as Flower Essences.

Onto a winter landscape, certain Flowers break forth into vibrant, bold blossom when everything else appears dead. Some of the Flower Essences that we make from these early blooming dynamos include Daffodil, Magnolia, Maple, Bloodroot, Forsythia, Wild Ginger, Hepatica, February Daphne, Witch Hazel, and Snowdrop.

When a Flower blooms while other plants are dormant, it reveals different strengths than Flowers that bloom when everyone else blooms. Those community bloomers offer gifts about harmony and compatibility but the first Flowers of the season are all about courage, will power, independent thinking, and a determination to express themselves no matter the circumstances.

These early bloomers also have enormous faith in life and its onward flow. We can know this because they bloom in defiance of winter, confident that seasons of new life will follow their lead. They willingly break new ground and believe in life’s irrepressible force even when everything appears dead. They put their money where their mouths are and are not afraid to have their Flowers seen or their acts of faith accounted. They are willing to celebrate when other Flowers might say there is nothing much happening to celebrate. They are some of the most cheerful and optimistic of Flowers. Their quality of unapologetic self expression makes them the one’s that would start the toasts at a wedding or funeral, if they could but step up to the mike.

Take for example a Flowering shrub that likes to be both seen and heard, Witch Hazel. This lovely Flower is part of our New Beginnings Flower Essence combination and is available as an individual Essence from our research list. Witch Hazel blooms in late, late fall when nothing else is blooming and the leaves are off the trees. Its Flowers are wild streamer curls of bright yellow. When its seed pods ripen in the dead of winter, these pods explode with a loud pop and the seeds go flying across a snowy landscape. When I was a small girl, my grandfather took me into the woods to listen for the noise of the Witch Hazels’ popping. Combined with its magical name and mysterious presence as a strong smelling potion in the cupboard behind bathroom mirror, Witch Hazel became an unforgettable presence in my life. And well it should be, because it helps remind us to never give up!

Witch Hazel Flower Essence embodies the courage of its blossoming. It encourages us to believe in new life and new beginnings even when things look their most dead. It encourages us to make new plans, sing a new song, and create a new life right there on the ashes of the old.

This is what the early bloomers and their Flower Essences are all about. Our Red Maples light up the hedgerows with their fiery red blossoms set against a leafless woodland. Daffodils rise out of near frozen terrain to sing their bright yellow song. Our Magnolia tree bursts into pearly pink blossoms with a sea of Bloodroot flowering beneath. Wild Ginger uses its inner juice to put on a mesmerizing display of Flower power on a near dormant woodland floor. All of these Flowers call us into the flow of life even when our life has been a wintry landscape and things have been pruned back. They sing ‘Let’s Get this Party Started” and in their Flowering and Flower Essence, they show us the way.

These Flowers know they can do anything. They don’t need moral support or company to express themselves. They don’t believe the party is over or not going to happen just because everything looks dead. They know they have something worth saying and they say it. Because of the wintry landscape, their self expression may be difficult and require much effort, but it also lifts up the landscape more too. These Flowers bloom when their micro climate needs their colorful self expression most.

In every way, their Essences help us do likewise.

Why? It is their destiny to bloom in a harsh wintry landscape when no one else is showing signs of life. Their electrical patterns are their songs in the world and when these patterns become Flower Essences, they give us the music so we can sing too.

PS Bloodroot blooms when the woods are almost entirely dormant. Its white Flowers are a startling contrast to the brown woodland floor. Interestingly enough, Bloodroot Flower is the cover of our new guidebook. I love how this Flower wanted to be the one to get the party of this Guidebook started!

Elementals Deliver the Goods

When I first started to garden with the Angels and Elementals, Green Hope Farm Flower Essences were just a twinkle in an Angels’ eyes. Meanwhile, I was so excited by my experiences with the Angels and Elementals that I wanted to tell anyone who was interested (and many who were not) all about my adventures in the garden.

To share my joy, I decided to give workshops on gardening with the Angels and Elementals. Because of logistics, many of my far flung workshops were one or two day affairs, but with local interested folk, I had the chance to set up classes that met over the course of a number of weeks. The classes worked particularly well because I could explain something, like how I plotted out a garden design with the Angels during one class and then in the next class, everyone could report back how their own design process had unfolded. Lots of excellent questions arose and people shared great stories. By the time each series of classes ended, we had all changed, grown from each others experiences and become new friends.

I noticed early on that it helped the Angels and Elementals build a stronger working relationship with everyone in a class when there was a particularly skeptical person in the group. This grounded people’s experiences of the Angels and Elementals in a different way. The kindness and playfulness that the skeptical person received from the Angels and Elementals over the course of the classes revealed the Angels and Elementals’ unconditional love for all of us and their deep desire to work with ALL of us more consciously. It was also clear that the Angels and Elementals never took any skepticism to heart or even very seriously, but actually enjoyed setting up events that would move a skeptic into the believer camp.

I began to look forward to the skeptics declaring themselves, because once that happened, fun stuff would begin to occur.

Here is one of my favorite skeptic conversion stories.

During the first class of a series, when I explained the role of Elementals in the manifestation of all form, a woman in the class announced that she didn’t believe in Elementals and thought it was ridiculous that anyone did. I explained to her that from my experience, the Elementals loved a challenge and would take particular delight in demonstrating their existence to her. I suggested she ask the Elementals for exactly what she wanted to manifest and then wait and see if they would deliver.

Without missing a beat, the woman told the class that she wanted an entire garden without paying for any of it. Those were her stakes. The Elementals had to send her a garden or she would walk.

I couldn’t wait to see what would happen. The Elementals manifest what we ask for in the most unpredictable ways and through the most unorthodox channels.

The next week this woman blew into class bursting with excitement. She couldn’t wait to tell us what had happened. There had been A LOT of manifestation in her life.

The first thing that occurred was she received, unsolicited, an enormous collection of garden seeds from a woman who had just ordered them but no longer wanted them.

Then someone called to offer her a dump truck load of well composted manure, free of charge and again unsolicited. The farmer was happy to dump the load right where she wanted it, no delivery charge.

Then another person called, out of the blue, and said she had an entire perennial garden that she needed to get rid of and did this woman want any or all of the plants.

In less than a week, she had been given the entire garden she wanted.

Her life turned on a dime. After this experience, she became very interested in Angels and Elementals. She began to paint beautiful paintings of Angels and Elementals. Her work with these new companions became more and more conscious. Their journey together led her professional life towards deeply satisfying work that combined her Angel paintings with work to alleviate third world poverty.

Lucky me. She keeps me posted on all her wild Angel and Elemental stories and I have three of her pieces of Angel art in my life including a much loved collage of a perky “CAN DO” Angel.

The Dish

It looked like last night was the night my Knitting Olympics glory would begin.

The dish guy was supposed to arrive between 1 and 5 pm yesterday to end our Olympic woes with the installation of a second auxiliary dish that would provide us with local NBC coverage. Soon I would be knitting while other more qualified folks were bobsledding.

Several prerecorded telephone messages told me to expect the dish guy momentarily. The dish guy would be a new acquaintance. I know all the Sears technicians. We greet each other as old friends. Our stove has cost Sears a small fortune in repair costs because Jim had the foresight to buy the repair plan before we broke the unbreakable glass top three times and melted the innards another six times. The stove has had a more exciting life than many humans and really deserves a name. Maybe “The Inferno”?

But the dish guy was someone new. I could only hope he would like climbing up the greenhouse windows to get to the dish zone on the roof, especially after his journey up our dramatically rutted dirt road.

As darkness fell on Green Hope Farm, the dish guy still had not surfaced. I was off the hook in my full blown supervisory role as Jim was home from work. I was pleased yet a bit worried that we would soon get a prerecorded message that the technician would be coming tomorrow not today. After all it WAS pitch dark outside!

A live person from dish headquarters called to see if the technician had arrived yet. Was a live human going to break the rescheduling news to us? The moon had now risen as a bright orb, but it seemed unlikely that it would provide enough light for the dish installation. The lady at HQ said not to worry. The technician would proceed in the dark.

There is nothing like a dish installation in the dark!

6:11 pm Jim joins the technician in the free climb to the rooftop location of our dish jungle. Jim is in charge of illuminating the work site with a large flashlight.

7:47 pm Progress! The technician comes inside while Jim pushes some wire through the wall into the house. For many long minutes the technician yells “A little bit further. A little bit further. A little bit further.” I won’t tell you what movie it all reminded me of.

8:38 pm Jim comes in to run hot water over his frozen hands. He and the technician have bonded. Jim knows all about the dish industry and has discovered he once worked with the technician’s girlfriend’s mother.

9:05 pm Test run of new dish and old dish combo fails. Old dish must go. Back on the roof, the men are ripping off shingles, drilling more holes, tossing the old dish into the gardens below.

9:43 pm repeat of 7:47pm

9:52 pm I have abandoned my supervisory role reading a book by the fire. I am asleep.

10:15 pm The dish is cranking. Just in time for some prime-time Olympic coverage. Jim settles in to watch. Now if only I could get him to knit.

A Progress Report on my Knitting Olympics

The Winter Olympics started last Friday. As you may or may not recall, this meant I was supposed to grab my knitting needles and begin my wildly ambitious knitting project as the torch was lit, thus beginning my own parallel Knitting Olympic event right there in front of the television.

What actually happened?

I did not see the torch lit nor have I seen a moment of Olympic action. Sure, I’ve gotten reports about what’s happened so far. The Y chromosome requires memorizing and reciting sporting results and there are three Sheehans with the Y chromosome keeping me updated. So I know Apollo fell in his favorite event and Bode came in fifth in the downhill. But live coverage? Did I see these moments? Nope. We have a problem Houston. Actually, we have several problems.

Problem number 1
We live on a quiet dirt road. This means the cable company passed on providing us service. The hills that surround us mean we can’t get the local NBC station even with our gigantic unsightly 1980’s type antennae. We do have a mini dish but the dish company is not allowed to give us their New York or West Coast feed for NBC because we might miss the local ads on the local NBC affiliate we can’t get and not be out there buying local products. We have written many testimonials about not being able to get the local feed to no avail.

Last week, my husband called to beg for Olympic mercy. Jim hoped someone would believe our sad tale and agree to flip a switch at headquarters. But no, the dish people said the only solution was to install a SECOND dish that would get the local NBC affiliate. More good news! They couldn’t come to install the dish until today, day five of the Olympics. I expect the installers sometime this afternoon. I look forward to adding to the forest of ugly technology on the roof of our home.

Problem number 2
My project choice was ridiculously ambitious but sadly, not out of character. I decided to knit Willy a log cabin afghan during the Olympics. The last log cabin afghan I knit was for Ben. I planned to have it as a gift when he graduated from college. I started it at the beginning of his senior year. He got the afghan 18 months post graduation. One might think I would have done the math and decided to knit Willy one of the twenty five squares needed for the afghan. But no! I told him I was going for it. So far, I have one half log cabin square, knit while watching a Gilmore Girl rerun.

This basic overreach reminded me of other moments when my enthusiasm has been somewhat unrealistic. Say the time I called Jim at work on a Friday afternoon and asked him to build me a tool shed that weekend. He asked how big a tool shed I was hoping for. I said 16’X24’ with a second story. He sweetly said “That’s a barn not a tool shed.”

I am sure he loved spending October, November, and December of that year out in the elements. There was a particularly special moment when he and his brother were trying to put up the ridge pole in a gale force wind and both of them almost blew off the second floor of the barn. Ahh the memories!

Problem number 3
Who are we fooling about what kind of TV viewing is going to be going on once this dish is in place? I don’t remember the last time I was in charge of the remote and so much channel surfing happens during any viewing experience that its a good thing I look at my knitting and not the television. Watching the screen causes motion sickness.

The Y chromosomes in the family, who understand and have custody of the remote, have already informed me that they think sappy life story pieces on the athletes have ruined the Olympics. These are the things I like best. When the dish is installed, I will be watching their idea of sports coverage. Actual sports in action. Really, how pathetic when I could be watching docudramas about why that little old lady from Michigan became a world class curler.

So e-mail me the story lines of the Olympic docudramas because I will either be out in the snow helping the dish guy drill holes in our home or watching some sort of hockey game/ nordic combined event/ ESPN sports update/ UConn basketball game happening simultaneously.

As a community of Flowers, Angels, Nature Spirits, Dogs, Cats and even some People, Green Hope Farm can be a funny place……and I love telling you all about it!