Showing posts with label vanishing threshold. Show all posts
Showing posts with label vanishing threshold. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Micro & Macro Mission Statements


What's the mission statement for your garden?
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Mine?
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I want to look out every window of my home, and unprompted, exclaim, 'OH WOW'.  Everyday, many times each day, and night.  
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Of course that is too small, micro.  Macro, I must have something coming into bloom every 2 weeks, all year.  Little maintenance, no irrigation, fragrance, pollinators, and views I choose, the sky framed to my amusement, etc...
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Before the internet, cell phone, digital camera, I demanded of my garden a roll of 36 slides, taken any day of the year, each slide worthy of a magazine/catalogue/book cover.  The brain wave, for taking any garden picture.


Yesterday, above.  Shooting my front garden, in the Bay Terrace, Laura.  Days of sorrow & tears, in moving, I refuse to allow to take away a single moment of the many joys, grace, & life victories pouring forth, in moving.  


Tears were not dry on my cheeks, from shooting the pics top/bottom, before time to celebrate, above, milestones for the move.
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Beloved/I had quite the day, zooming in 2 cars follow the leader, sometimes 1, against 'major' deadlines, downtowns/parking meters/back roads/storms/lawyers/judges/morons/saints/banks etc, like a Doris Day/Rock Hudson film.  
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After my vinegar/water spilled in his car, already frustrated he was beyond perturbed, then I discovered his huge commercial project blue prints were more than wet with 'my' vinegar/water, holes were eaten thru his blueprints.  The more perturbed Beloved got the harder I laughed.
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(Really 'my' vinegar/water only spilled because of his driving.), Beloved had to head out-of-state to that huge commercial job, now full of vinegar/water holes, good to give a man something to remember you by.  Called him on the phone to stay.  No.  Then came the weather.  No.  Weather came bigger.  No.  Roads closed, and it was already rush hour in Atlanta.  
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Guess who was toasting with champagne?
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Of course he was.
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Need to let you know about the vinegar/water, you'll probably be drinking it soon.


In my new garden, I know, epiphanies/metaphors will arrive, specifically, to place my loved garden properly.  
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Faith.  Trust.  Grace.
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Trinity of strength. 
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Top/bottom pics are separate photos, I doubt I'll ever get over the luxury of taking as many pics as desired.  During the days of slides, sometimes, I had to wait for developing because I had no money.  Importance of each slide being fabulous was imperative.
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Garden & Be Well,    XO T

Friday, May 15, 2015

Howard Slatkin: Tete-a-tete

My new house, 115 year old American farmhouse architecture, has a large formal dining room with a corner of windows.  Not a large arena within the room, but I knew from the 1st walk thru the corner would be a favorite spot.  Less than 24 hours later I made an offer on the house.
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Howard Slatkin, below, nailed it for my dining room corner, below.
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The daily 'look', below.

howard slatkin dining room

And, arranged, below, for my favorite, a tete-a-tete.

Dining room in NY apartment of Howard Slatkin. Habitually Chic®

Though I haven't moved in I know where my guest will sit.  1 window has a fabulous view, the other 'needs work'.  Alone, it's obvious where I will sit.  Ok, both views 'need work', at least one is completely vernacular.

Lunch on a Russian table, New York dining room of Howard Slatkin, from his forthcoming book "Fifth Avenue Style" from Vendome Press. Photo by Tria Giovan.
Solitary luncheon is the most common, but I had excellent mentoring in dining alone.  Miss Louise, my beloved grandmother-in-law, long a widow, always chose a beautiful setting for herself, alone, and for our many dinners together, tete-a-tete, of course.

"Casual" window-side dining in Howard Slatkin’s fantasy of a Fifth Avenue home.

Another mentor, Mary Kistner, along with her beautiful table settings, taught me her favorite tea recipe, Earl Gray mixed with fresh mint from the potager.  She always had a 2nd teapot too, filled solely with a mix of her many types of mint, with just finished boiling water poured over.  Discussing the merits of the 2nd teapot was a delight, everytime.
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My corner will have mostly vintage wicker.  An excuse has arrived to allow, yet another, dropleaf gateleg antique table into my stable.  The hunt has begun.
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More Pins from Howard Slatkin on my Edwardian pin board created for my new house.  Howard has a focus with his interior design, too many decorators do not have.  People.  Howard Slatkin focuses his interiors and gardens for people to have conversations, laughter, share stories, gossip, create lives well lived, beyond material goods.  His gardens are fascinating, they put a tete-a-tete above all, always.
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Garden & Be Well,    XO Tara
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Pics Howard Slatkin.  Closing on the new house soon, choosing interior colors next week.  Movers are hired but many trips with antique ironstone/china, lamps, art, a few chairs for 'scope of the imagination' to be had, 3 dropleaf tables to site front-middle-back of the house, will be toted in my little van, alone.  Put together a box for the kitchen, enough to get me thru this 'camping' phase of 3 weeks before movers arrive.  My favorite vintage ivory linen tea towels, 3 types of tea, oversized Spode 'gardeners' tea cup, and oversized Spode mug, coffee, you get the idea, enough for a tete-a-tete right away in that dining room corner.
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Of course I'm bringing 3 wicker waste baskets, a bucket with brush/comet, garbage bags, paper towels, cleaning rags, broom/dust pan, a little radio to listen to classical music on NPR, things for the charwoman.  Me.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Dots Connected: Agriculture, Water, Government, Gut Biome & Banking

Vintage ironstone, below, what do you see in the scene?  Decades, I saw, 'boring'.


Now, I see prayers of thanks, honoring the gift of Nature from Providence, its methods of provision, and more than simple survival, spiritual.  We are included in the cycle, as surely as the daffodil in spring.
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Spring's platter, honoring flowers of the guild, attracting widest variety of pollinators to the fruit trees, increasing yields by 80%.  Survival of man, pollinators, livestock, communities, nations.
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Commercial agriculture & livestock steps outside the circle of stewardship.  Water is poisoned, soil is killed, communities die, a nation's congress is bought.  ( Is 'sold' more correct?  Thank you to my dear readers sending missives elucidating where I am wildly wrong.  Why be a little bit wrong?)
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Fascinating science arriving about our gut bacteria, its role in our health.  From The Daily Mail, May 11, 2015, "

Everything you think you know about diets is WRONG: Counting calories is a total waste of time, it’s bacteria in your gut that make you fat and finally, cheese, alcohol and chocolate can all help"


"Professor Spector believes it’s down to the bacteria in our gut. He has found that the type and variety of our gut bugs have an astonishing influence on many aspects of our health.
‘Microbes are not only essential to how we digest food,’ he says. 
‘They also control the calories we absorb and provide vital enzymes and vitamins, as well as keeping our immune system healthy.’, full article.
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Following the money, a group of small farmers gathered almost a decade ago, brainstorming ways to keep money from leaving their county, discovering as time passed the idea had to grow from county to state to region.  This is hilarious, you already know where this is going, I'm sure of it.  
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The Atlantic,

Planning for Rural America's Economic Future

In Pottawattamie County, the agricultural sector is proving that innovative regional strategies can start anywhere.
"It has worked to train the next generation of farmers and to help existing farms with small-business coaching. Now, the county even collaborates with nearby Omaha, Nebraska, to help attract and keep corporations in the region instead of engaging in an economic border war across state lines, a development that too often plagues regional economic development.".
Continuing, "Part of the strategy to keep money in-state was to shift the type of farming that southwest Iowans engaged in from large industrialized farms to smaller operations that grew food that local people could eat. From this initial series of meetings was born the Southwest Iowa Food and Farm Initiative. The group has grown to a roster of more than 50 farmers, O'Brien says, with a smattering of local food-policy councils."  Full article.  
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From the 1960's Wendell Berry has written about the decimation of family farms, their way of life supporting more than a family, entire towns, conglomerated into states, and for most of USA's history, an entire country, agricultural.  More about USA's agricultural founders & its influence upon our form of government, read, Founding Gardeners, by Andrea Wulf.
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Back to the platter, 
Until post WWII people, world wide, knew Nature, its workings literally & metaphorically,  as survival to health of the body, spirit, and financial security.  
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Losing the connection, less than a century ago, science is proving Nature of more importance to our good health than our good actions with diet & anti-bacterial soap, working sedentary office lives, not in tandem with the seasons of the soil.
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Further, trying to financially stabilize & grow a dying rural USA, improves health for people, agriculture, livestock, water, soil.  A banking system as beneficial as local farming must be chosen.  
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Ellen Brown, takes banking the way I take agriculture, for the people, organic, honest, public banks.  She's a money farmer.  Without good banking matching good agriculture/livestock, the system is weak, money flowing away from communities.
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Ellen Brown, "Connecting the Dots – 05.06.15
At what point are you willing to challenge your own notions of what’s really going on? Can you even imagine that the mavens of the Money Power would threaten human survival to serve themselves for even bigger personal profits? Ellen’s guest, researcher Dane Wigington, has a trove of data to suggest that they would. And they do so in the form of geoengineering, a covert tool allegedly being used to control natural systems for private profit. We also hear commentary from Matt Stannard about the economics of the Baltimore uprising and from Marc Armstrong about America’s only publicly-owned depository bank, the Bank of North Dakota, which just issued its latest annual report — it’s another record-setting winner!
Listen here."
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California is currently turning water into a government resource/commodity, soon, your state will too.  A relief to discover there is new science, & engineering, about water.
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Ellen Brown, 

California Water Wars: Another Form of Asset Stripping?

"Tapping Underground Seas
Another untapped resource is California’s own “primary” water — water newly produced by chemical processes within the earth that has never been part of the surface hydrological cycle. Created when conditions are right to allow oxygen to combine with hydrogen, this water is continually being pushed up under great pressure from deep within the earth and finds its way toward the surface where there are fissures or faults. This water can be located everywhere on the planet. It is the water flowing in wells in oases in the desert, where there is neither rainfall nor mountain run-off to feed them.
study reported in Scientific American in March 2014 documented the presence of vast quantities of water locked far beneath the earth’s surface, generated not by surface rainfall but from pressures deep within. The study confirmed “that there is a very, very large amount of water that’s trapped in a really distinct layer in the deep Earth… approaching the sort of mass of water that’s present in all the world’s oceans.”
In December 2014, BBC News reported the results of a study presented at the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union, in which researchers estimate there is more water locked deep in the earth’s crust than in all its rivers, swamps and lakes together. Japanese researchers reported in Science in March 2002 that the earth’s lower mantle may store about five times more water than its surface oceans."  Full article here
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Back to the platter.
  
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A lot of writing in this post, more eloquently drawn, above, in my vintage ironstone platter.  Yet, I did not go into the realm of Providence, sure, all my words inadequate, the platter says it all.
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Garden & Be Well,    XO Tara
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Don't know what a guild is for fruit trees?  More, here.  

Friday, April 24, 2015

Conservatory in the Gloaming





My Conservatory, below.  Rescued materials for over a decade, stored in my garage.
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New materials, gravel flooring, stone steps, electrical, carpentry, a tin roof.
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With few resources, extreme determination, I have a Conservatory.
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In the gloaming, the Conservatory is more than alive, it is dryads dancing.  How was I to know?
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Gloaming approaches, below.


Shooting from my French doors at the breakfast room terrace, below, last nite.  Last moments of chiaroscuro gloaming.
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The ache of this desire.  Ephemeral.
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There is more Dark Matter in the universe than what we know of our universe.  Have known this bit of science, on faith, since childhood.  My dad said so.  Georgia Tech engineer, Air Force test pilot, I was born at Wright Pat, NASA rocket scientist, astronaut trainer, space capsule designer, then the ease of Space Shuttle payload avionics, and fun of payload robotic arm, overnite stints in MER, Mission Control became 'everyday' systems watch while the Mission Evaluation Room has active engineering for any system failures, until his death in his late 70's.   Missile guidance systems were his Air Force Reserve 2 week active duty work while we had the white sand beach of the Officers Club, built ca. 1930, between Fort Walton & Destin.
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I don't believe in Dark Matter, I know it exists.
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In the gloaming, is the closest I get to physically experiencing it.  As if Providence gives us a pin prick in its cloak.
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What does this have to do with my Conservatory?  In the gloaming, is the best time for my Conservatory.  People prattle on about 'spring' in a garden, glories of fall foliage, yesyesyesyes, they are beyond words, and I have that in my garden.  Rarer than those glories, are a Conservatory in the Gloaming.


During the gloaming, my century old tongue/groove walls, below, glow reddish.





In the gloaming, and past the gloaming, my conservatory, above, takes me anywhere I want to go.


Beloved brought me a bouquet of Cotton, above, roots still attached.


During daylight, my conservatory, above.



My Conservatory in Better Homes & Gardens magazine, above.  Built this with Susanne Hudson for our garden display at the Penny McHenry Hydrangea Festival, Douglasville, GA.
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Cannot encourage you, enough, to build your own Conservatory.  Mostly for the Gloaming.
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Garden & Be Well,    XO Tara
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Have been in many national magazines, cable TV, PBS, CBS, NBC, lecture stages across the country,  and know, none of those venues can give you what I am trying to pass along in a little blog post.  Curious?  Hopefully enough to finally build your own Conservatory.  



Monday, April 20, 2015

Garden Sanctuary: Tabernacle

I planted Chinese Snowball, Viburnum macrocephalum, for the blooms.  Below, in my garden yesterday.
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Instead, discovered Chinese snowball is a top member of the Ministry of Stewardship.


A small garden, Chinese Snowball was pruned into a tree.  Who knew a bare multi-trunked tree with canopy on top is prime location for song birds to rest from predators, bring their lunch, and a place for my painter to sit & smoke cigarettes on hot Southern summer days, some times my choice of office for making calls?


This, above/below, is why to have a garden.  Reminds me of doing math homework in high school.  Every other problem had the answer in the back of the book, letting you know you've done a multi-stepped task right.    One of my chief delights, and accomplishments, on this Earth, is what has been done in my garden with Chinese Snowball.  And I didn't do it, Providence did.
 

Subsidiary focal points, above/below, graced.


Selfish, adoring my first Chinese snowball, I planted another, below.  Shot this one while standing in the street.

At her feet, the potager, below.  Is there one word encompassing the few moments a tree has as many blossoms on her arms as at her feet?  Is this my tabernacle, given by Providence?   Ruth always said something provocative in spirit when she shared at meetings for friends/families of alcoholics.  And, invariable at every meeting for years, she spilled her cup of coffee.  Elderly, of little breath, it was a delight every time those nearest rushed in to help.  Total feminine power, but barely enough strength/air to walk.  
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Ruth's funeral was standing room only at her little Southern Baptist church in a field, 1950's long low rectangular, red brick construction.  Seated near the front, with a meadow view, tears, and the preacher droning.  Alone in grief, until he said something riveting.  Ruth's body was a tabernacle.  Now, that was a curious thing, and I had zero idea what he meant.  I looked it up.  Not my job to tell you what it meant, it's for you to look up and know it from your spirit.  (Blessedly have my inherited unabridged Webster's 10" thick, don't you?)
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  How did Nature become so dissected from the bible?  These moments of petals, throughout the year, with various shrubs/trees/groundcovers, are all tabernacle moments.  A Life force beyond my skills/knowledge/efforts.  Humbling.  In this beauty, death, regeneration, Providence skips merrily, the next day always another tabernacle.  


Leaving the street, and stepping into my garden, below.


Look closely, below, at that window.  It is my office window.  When the Chinese snowball is well finished 'tabernacling' the tree beside it, Crape Myrtle will begin bloom.


My lot is 8500sf, a lot less than a quarter acre.  Do you sense this?  Neither do I.  In the public realm, below, of my garden, do you see that many houses nearby  Neither do I, they are there, and this is reality, as is the tabernacle.  I built it.  My intention?  No clue.  Providence found me.


After much thought, years, I figured out why my garden lives so big, it's the sky, above, I own it.


My garden frames the sky, and in return Providence gave it entirely to me.  A gift you can take for yourself.  It's Tasha Tudor's favorite line of poetry, "...Take joy"  
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Garden & Be Well,      XO Tara
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Took these pics without my glasses.
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Shooting my office window, I began to tear, but quickly remembered a friend's wisdom, "Make no major decisions after dusk and before dawn."  Moving, leaving my garden is rending my heart.  During the day I'm so excited about my new garden, at nite the chattering monkeys in my head.  Tearing up shooting the pic, no energy for another crying jag, I realized it was moments after dusk, and I would ignore the urge, did, and laughed.  


Monday, April 13, 2015

Leaving a Garden


Why pics in my garden are not perfect, but better.  It's more important for you to see, 'real'.  Why?  You must be able to walk into your garden, any day of the year, and be able to take a roll of 36 slides, each worthy of a magazine cover.  A major national magazine.  Allowing for a bit of primping, those pics must be worthy of an international book cover.
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Ready to play in my league?
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This morning, below, shot less than 5 minutes ago.  Walking to give the chickens a treat.




Stewardship of this garden began, horrendously, ignorant of stewardship.  Waiting for denial to pass, decades, Providence, nevertheless, allowed the garden to steward me.
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This is where I fly.
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Terrible phone conversation last nite with my sister.  Selling my home after 30 years, she asked, "Will you dig up all your plants and put in grass?"
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No, I responded, simply.
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If the next owner wishes to, that is their privilege.
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Here, this spot in my garden, pics above/below, a double axis, same path shot from opposite directions.  Merely 1 pivot point in my garden where I find relationship to Earth, myself, others, Providence, stewardship.  The more you go inward the more you outwardly connect.
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Lawn?  Fertilizers, weed killers, fungicides, all toxic to the water supply & mychorizzal fungi, earthworms, pollinators.  Mowing, watering, no shading of the house in summer.  Wrapping little strips of green meatballs and dead mulch.  High maintenance, literally, and figuratively.


More, my sister chastised me deeply for where I will be moving.  I listened, not responding.
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I am moving into my beliefs.  Yoked tightly with Providence.  Flying.  Ships were not built for harbor.  Sailing.
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"But here’s the deal: I know that life is an inexorable pull toward love, beauty, passion, delight, longing, disquiet, hunger, wildness, appetite, generosity, compassion, creativity and hope in a future beyond our limited present. "  Terry Hershey

A story from Terry Hershey,  " His dream started when he was in college. Jeffrey Coale wanted to own a restaurant. Training in cooking and restaurant management helps, but so does money. So Jeffrey Coale went at it methodically. He worked for a number of years as a government bond trader on Wall Street. At night, he attended classes at the French Culinary Institute.  He quit trading and took a job as an apprentice chef at the Louis XV restaurant in Monte Carlo. Next, he returned to New York to work at the Alain Ducasse restaurant. Wanting to refine his understanding of the wine side of the business, he then took a dream job as an assistant wine master at Windows on the World, at the top of the World Trade Center North Tower, in August, 2001.  Meanwhile, Mr. Coale, 31, sifted around for a location for his restaurant. He had looked at several properties in Greece and New York.
“He left really good money to make $10 an hour at Windows,” said Leslie Brown, his sister. “But Jeff never settled for something. He always followed his passion.”
Jeffrey died on 9/11.
Tragedy? Yes.
Someone wrote that there are many tragedies in life, but dying young while living a passionate life is not one of them. As Paul Harvey would say, “here’s the rest of the story…” After Jeffrey’s death, reflecting on that devotion, two friends switched to jobs that better suited their own true interests. Two other friends broke off unsatisfying relationships. In memory of Mr. Coale, they are going to follow their passions.
Maybe that’s where we get stuck. We’ve been invited to fly… but somewhere along the way we’ve been told that…
…we are not enough
…we are small and not sufficiently gifted
…we are carried by the winds of public opinion
…our identity is owned by shame
…we owe it to someone to be perfect
…we seem at the mercy of our grief or our rage"  Terry Hershey
.  Packing & staging & taking loads to the thrift store, in my library, I pulled yet another book for thrift store.  Bought years ago from the same thrift store, bag-of-books-$1, I hadn't read it.  The author's name popped, Terry Hershey.  Reading it now.
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In the coop, below, this morning.  After the massacre a couple of months ago 4 heirloom chickens remain, below, Alpha girl, marmalade, and her side kick Beta.  Horrifically injured during the massacre, I don't know why they survived, to thrive.  More, Alpha girl taught me a few things about alpha's. Gravely injured, 'alpha-dom' must be-will be maintained.  Body language, eye language, attitude kept Alpha girl alpha.  Unless I had witnessed this libretto I would not have believed it.

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 "Don't let it be forgot, that once there was a spot, for one brief shining moment that was known as Camelot."
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My Camelot, my garden, is within.  It travels with me.
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Yes, there is grief in this particular layer.  Deep.  Enough to keep me from flying?  Hardly.  Not flying would be fear.  Consistent foe, I've learned to silence, with a simple question, 'What would I do tomorrow if I were not afraid?'
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I first sought a beautiful garden, a place of grace & atonement.  More was given, than sought.
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Garden & Be Well,    XO T
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Lawn?  Too lazy for lawn & selfish.  My hunt is beauty.  Oh my, the riches of this hunt.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Fast Company: Science, Brains, High Ceilings

In a subdivision, along the side of the house, I've done this design, below, dozens of times.  It's a formula that never tires.  Allee of trees, shrubs, path, and done.
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Yet, why does this condensed space, typically between 2 houses, live 'large' ?

Boxwoods and Gravel

Creating a patio/terrace/deck garden room, below, again, I wonder, "what makes this small space live so large?"



Inside, below, with a vanishing threshold into the garden, I ask myself, "Why does this room live so big?"


Nicky Haslams Country House - WSJ.com#slide/2#slide/11#slide/7

Years spent wondering why my little garden, surrounded much-too-closely with neighbors at every view, lives so entirely large.  More, how does a small space live large AND feel like it's living on another continent in a different era?
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Seriously, years.  College degrees in engineering & horticulture, decades of reading garden/architecture books, decades attending garden lectures/symposia, with zero mention of small space gardens living large.
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Slow, but the answer arrived.  The sky.  All of the above Garden Designs use the SKY as an element.  Garden Design frames the sky.  Better, you own the sky.  No matter where the sky goes near your home, you own it.
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Another word for 'sky' in Garden Design?  Ceiling.
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This is going somewhere important, stay with me.
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High ceilings, in real estate, cost more money.  Across cultures/era/continents humans pay a premium for high ceilings.  Why?  Science, now, has an answer.

"... participants were more likely to judge a room beautiful if it had a high ceiling compared with a low ceiling. But the greater insight emerged when Vartanian and collaborators studied brain activity. They found heightened activity related to high ceilings in the left precuneus and left middle frontal gyrus—two areas associated with visuospatial exploration. The left precuneus, in particular, has been found to increase in cortical thickness after spatial navigation training.
So another part of the appeal of high ceilings seems to be that they capture our visual attention and engage our desire to observe our surroundings. Vartanian and company ruled out other explanations based on the imaging data, including the possibility that high ceilings simply put us in a good mood. That idea didn't pan out because participants looking at high and low ceilings showed no fMRI difference in brain regions related to pleasure, emotion, or reward."...
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Garden Design, using the sky, wields a potency to our brains we cannot produce ourselves.  Amusing.  Another tidbit from Providence, the first Garden Designer, and best.  
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Garden & Be Well,  XO Tara
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From Fast Company, the full article:

Why Our Brains Love High Ceilings

Not just for bragging rights.
One of the first things a realtor will point out to prospective home buyers or apartment tenants is a high ceiling. To many of us, anything above the standard eight-foot ceiling is a big selling point. In recent times, home buyers have tended to pony up for the amenity of nine-foot ceilings; in the abstract, when added heights aren't adding to mortgages or rents, people prefer their ceilings 10 feet high.
Part of the appeal of high ceilings is no doubt related to a general preference for space, but the behavioral and brain evidence suggests there's more to it than that. Some research from a few years back ties high ceilings to a psychological sense of freedom. And new neuroimaging work shows that a tall room triggers our tendencies toward spatial exploration.
"You can imagine that our enjoyment of rooms with higher ceilings could be due to these two processes working in tandem," psychologist Oshin Vartanian of the University of Toronto-Scarborough tells Co. Design. "On the one hand, such rooms promote visuospatial exploration, while at the same time they prompt us to think more freely. This could be a rather potent combination for inducing positive feelings."

A Liberated Mindset

A few years ago, marketing scholars Joan Meyers-Levy and Rui Zhu wanted to see whether the height of a ceiling had any impact on the way a person thinks. So they recruited test participants for a number of different experiments and modified the study rooms so that some had 10-foot ceilings and others had (false) eight-foot ceilings. Meyers-Levy and Zhu also hung up Chinese lanterns so participants would look up and, consciously or not, process the ceiling height.
Working in a high-ceiling environment (left) put participants in a freer, more abstract mindset than did a low-ceiling setting.Via Journal of Consumer Research
Across several experiments, the researchers found evidence that high ceilings seemed to put test participants in a mindset of freedom, creativity, and abstraction, whereas the lower ceilings prompting more confined thinking.
In one test, for instance, participants in the 10-foot room completed anagrams about freedom (with words such as "liberated" or "unlimited") significantly faster than participants in the eight-foot room did. But when the anagrams were related to concepts of constraint, with words like "bound or "restricted," the situation played out in reverse. Now the test participants with 10-foot ceilings finished the puzzles slower than those in the eight-foot rooms did.
Another experiment asked participants to identify commonalities among a list of 10 different sports. Those in the high-ceiling group came up with more of these themes, and had their themes judged more abstract in nature, compared with participants in the low-ceiling group. Meyers-Levy and Zhu suspect this outcome emerged from the psychological freedom that comes with taller ceilings—a mindset that might also enhance creative thinking.
Altogether, they conclude in a 2007 issue of the Journal of Consumer Research, the research "shows that, by activating freedom-related or confinement-related concepts, ceiling height can be an antecedent of type of processing."

Ceiling Brain Scans

The new neuroscience study, led by Vartanian, had test participants look at 200 images of rooms while in a brain scanner. Half of the pictures showed rooms with high ceilings, half with low (below). Participants had an easy job: indicate whether they considered the room "beautiful" or "not beautiful." (The data actually came from an earlier study that looked at why our brains like curvy architecture, but were reanalyzed through the lens of ceiling height.)
Courtesy Oshin Vartanian
Little surprise, participants were more likely to judge a room beautiful if it had a high ceiling compared with a low ceiling. But the greater insight emerged when Vartanian and collaborators studied brain activity. They found heightened activity related to high ceilings in the left precuneus and left middle frontal gyrus—two areas associated with visuospatial exploration. The left precuneus, in particular, has been found to increase in cortical thickness after spatial navigation training.
So another part of the appeal of high ceilings seems to be that they capture our visual attention and engage our desire to observe our surroundings. Vartanian and company ruled out other explanations based on the imaging data, including the possibility that high ceilings simply put us in a good mood. That idea didn't pan out because participants looking at high and low ceilings showed no fMRI difference in brain regions related to pleasure, emotion, or reward.
The findings, reported in a recent issue of the Journal of Environmental Psychology, should be considered preliminary given the study's limitations. For one thing, the test couldn't control for factors besides ceiling height that might have led to "beautiful" ratings, such as the lighting or color scheme or curved design. And, of course, people weren't physically standing in a room with high ceilings, which could change the experience.
Higher ceilings activated the precuneus (left) and middle frontal gyrus—brain areas associated with spatial explortation.Via Journal of Environmental Psychology
But Vartanian says the research—in conjunction with the earlier work linking ceiling height and freedom—does add to our understanding of why people find high ceilings worthy of a real-estate premium.
"The combination of psychological and neural data can help us formulate a more complete picture of what is driving our choices," he says. "Knowing that people's preference for rooms with higher ceilings might be driven by the ability of those spaces to promote visuospatial exploration helps partly explain why people opt to live in such spaces, despite the fact that they cost more to purchase and maintain."


Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Ted Talk & Paid to Farm: Weight of Our Brain vs. Microbiome

“The three pounds of microbes that you carry around with you might be more important than every single gene you carry around in your genome...”  Rob Knight

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 "And we've just over the last few years found out that the microbes in different parts of the body are amazingly different from one another. So if I look at just one person's microbes in the mouth and in the gut, it turns out that the difference between those two microbial communities is enormous. It's bigger than the difference between the microbes in this reef and the microbes in this prairie. So this is incredible when you think about it. What it means is that a few feet of difference in the human body makes more of a difference to your microbial ecology than hundreds of miles on Earth."

You're 99.99 percent identical in terms of your human DNA to the person sitting next to you. But that's not true of your gut microbes: you might only share 10 percent similarity with the person sitting next to you in terms of your gut microbes. So that's as different as the bacteria on this prairie and the bacteria in this forest."


At Home with Bill and Giuliana Rancic. Furniture from Restoration Hardware. The long covered patio is divided into a dining area and a sitting area. | Traditional Home. http://www.consumeraffairs.com/homeowners/restoration.html

"It turns out that our first microbial communities depend a lot on how we're born. So babies that come out the regular way, all of their microbes are basically like the vaginal community, whereas babies that are delivered by C-section, all of their microbes instead look like skin. And this might be associated with some of the differences in health associated with Cesarean birth, such as more asthma, more allergies, even more obesity, all of which have been linked to microbes now, and when you think about it, until recently, every surviving mammal had been delivered by the birth canal, and so the lack of those protective microbes that we've co-evolved with might be really important for a lot of these different conditions that we now know involve the microbiome."

Ted Talk, full transcript, above quotes, here.  Ted Talk, video, for talk, above.

pavers

More about children raised on farms healthier than those not, here.
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"The Government is Spending More to Train New Farmers Than Ever Before

Both veterans and under-resourced communities are top priorities."
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Did you know the age of the average USA farmer is... 58.3 years old?
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 “The USDA is very concerned about the continued aging of the American farmer,” Auburn says. “This program is part of a department-wide push to … keep the land under stewardship by people who care about it. It’s to have people interacting with their communities and to keep rural communities and economies healthy. It’s to have people out there interacting with consumers, who are increasingly interested in who it is who’s growing their food and how it’s grown.” 
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Education includes, "...raising poultry, sheep, and goats.
Annie Donoghue helps run the program along with her husband and project director, Dan Donoghue, and seven other partner organizations, which include USDA’s Agricultural Research Service in Fayetteville, Arkansas, the Farmer Veteran Coalition, the University of Missouri, and the National Center for Appropriate Technology.
Arkansas’ program offers free online courses in both English and Spanish, as well as hands-on, in-person public trainings and Armed to Farm boot camps for veterans, where participants learn the basics of poultry production, skills such as poultry-house building and even how to find appropriate markets for their businesses.
The program has been popular, as veteran-targeted education about this segment of agriculture was scarce. “There really wasn’t a lot of information for this group interested in poultry or small-ruminant production,” says Donoghue. “This program provides an opportunity for these veterans to consider careers in agriculture.”
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Wendell Berry has been writing about the loss of farmers, farm habitat, farm communities, and collateral loss of human health & knowledge gained from agricultural living since the 1960's.  He says,  "Works of pride, by self-called creators, with their premium on originality, reduce the Creation to novelty — the faint surprises of minds incapable of wonder.
Pursuing originality, the would-be creator works alone. In loneliness one assumes a responsibility for oneself that one cannot fulfill.
Novelty is a new kind of loneliness.

Wendell Berry (Photograph: Guy Mendes)
There is the bad work of pride. There is also the bad work of despair — done poorly out of the failure of hope or vision.
Despair is the too-little of responsibility, as pride is the too-much.
The shoddy work of despair, the pointless work of pride, equally betray Creation. They are wastes of life.
For despair there is no forgiveness, and for pride none. Who in loneliness can forgive?
Good work finds the way between pride and despair.
It graces with health. It heals with grace.
It preserves the given so that it remains a gift.
By it, we lose loneliness:
we clasp the hands of those who go before us, and the hands of those who come after us;
we enter the little circle of each other’s arms,
and the larger circle of lovers whose hands are joined in a dance,
and the larger circle of all creatures, passing in and out of life, who move also in a dance, to a music so subtle and vast that no ear hears it except in fragments."
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Finally, the work of Andrea Wulf, Washington Post, review of, 

Founding Gardeners: The Revolutionary Generation, Nature, and the Shaping of the American Nation

           " In this lively and deeply researched history, Andrea Wulf (best known for her prize-winning chronicle of 18th-century English gardening, “The Brother Gardeners”) examines the botanical pursuits of America’s first four presidents. Those men were, it turns out, obsessive gardeners, but gardening was much more than a preoccupying hobby. It was central to their vision of the American republic. Jefferson and Co. believed that the agrarian life would safeguard the new republic’s virtue and that the future of America lay with the independent farmer. As Washington summed up, “Our welfare and prosperity depend upon the cultivation of our lands.”
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More about connecting the dots of agriculture & health, here.
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Connection of agriculture & horticulture?  It is our generation, post WWII, separating them.  Prior civilizations knew they were inherent to survival, no separation.  What does this mean?  Agriculture crops can yield 80% more with proper pollinator habitat.  That, is money in the bank.  More, Berry lovingly narrates the decimation of land, family farms, rural communities across USA as industrial agriculture with its machines & chemicals have waged war against an unwitting opponent, us.
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Garden & Be Well,    XO Tara
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Pics via my Pinterest: Changes Board .    Need to get the Farming article, top of this post, further afield.  Anyone needing a grant, the article has great links.  Changes Board?  Collecting pics of good gardens needing a slight tweak.  Will use them in my Garden Design classes.