March: In like a lion, I’d say. But, houseplants keep me sane.

You know that old proverb, “March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb.”

I suppose that’s especially true here in Ontario because March straddles winter and spring.

It tends to offer harsh or inclement weather, exactly like the kind of snow squalls we’re experiencing today.

This is what I’d call a lion! Unpleasant weather in the beginning of the month.

As the saying goes on to state, it’s then supposed to become milder and more palatable weather by the end of March.  I’ll believe it when I see it. 😉

In the meantime I’ve been fussing over my houseplants. I get to this point in winter where the season has lost its charm. The snow’s not pretty any longer, and I’m sick of shovelling.

More importantly, there’s too much of it on top of my garden, which makes me think I won’t be outside walking around barefoot anytime soon! Likely mid-May.

But back to the houseplants, I have more than many, and less than some.

When I closed my business I scaled back on the amount of greenery around the house, which is a good thing in hindsight, considering there’s only so many spots for plants, but I’m not above buying another, or accepting a cutting from a friend.

The plants I’ve kept are getting me through winter. Especially this winter!

They take my mind off of the pandemic and help to keep my focus on being a nurturer of sorts, instead of paying too much attention to things in the outside world that I cannot change.

Winter can be bleak and dark and monochromatic, which means I long for the greenery and lush scenery of spring and summer. Isn’t it just good for the soul to drink in nature? Winter means less drinking for us, but for plants, ironically it means more.

I take each of my plants to the sink. I water them until they can’t absorb another drop. That way the whole root ball gets a drink, meaning healthier plants. It takes a bit more time, but I’ve got that in spades right now til I’m back at work.

In winter, with the oil furnace blasting dry heat, I find plants dry out much more quickly than they do in the summer when there’s more humidity in the air.

The sun is also lower in the sky right now, so more sunlight comes in the windows, that is when the sun isn’t hiding behind snow-laden clouds.

Some of my larger plants like the amaryllis get a trip to the bathtub.

I give them a big drink and let them drain out so as not to have a mess on the table where they normally live.

That way too, I can mist the foliage and give them a chance to feel like they’re in their natural habitat once in a while, instead of my very dry winter house.

Though all the plants seem to thank me for the good care I offer as they continue to thrive in this completely alien environment in which they find themselves, some will even offer gratitude in the form of a flower. Then I know I’ve done right by them and enjoy the blooms of winter, which are possibly more precious than the perennial flowers whose blooms I’ve come to expect each year out in the garden.

I can’t imagine a house with out houseplants. Even just a pot of herbs for cooking. Basil will thrive in a bit of sunlight and you can pinch some to offer fresh flavour all year long.

And seriously, not having at least one plant would be akin to not having art on one’s walls! Boring, flat and without personality. Their life adds depth to ours. They help clean the air and offer a way to excercise our need to nurture something. 🙂

In closing, I’d love to hear about your houseplants.

I’m also happy to help with any questions on how yours can thrive too, if they happen to seem a little sad this time of year and you’re not sure what to do.

With the March lion out there today, I’m not surprised if some plants aren’t beside themselves jumping for joy. 😉 But this too shall pass… In the meantime, stay safe & warm, everyone.

Happy indoor gardening, for now!

 

Musings on human nature and life before Facebook

A few weeks ago I accepted a friend request on Facebook from a person I haven’t seen in over 30 years. I hesitated in doing so wondering, do I really want to go there? However, I did notice he’d become ‘friends’ with a few people I know and like, so against my better judgement I thought why not? I accepted.

My hesitation really got me thinking. Why did I hesitate?

One conclusion I came to may have to do with my age and the pre-Facebook world in which I grew up. Back then it was normal for a lot of people to melt away out of one’s life. Once one left school, pursued careers, got married, moved away, or whatever, some people were never to be heard from again, and quite frankly in some cases, is that such a bad thing?

However, in today’s social media world it’s a different story. We share photos of our trips, meals, kids, cars, cute animal photos, (gardens mostly in my case), with people, some of which if we were to be completely honest, we wouldn’t cross the street for to say hello.

I think many of us, especially bloggers and writers do have something to say because we honestly want to share our art or knowledge in the hope that it may be of some benefit to others. But is that what we do on Facebook? Is it something else?

There is an insidious side to social media.  It isn’t written about nearly enough, especially given the fact that it plays such an important part in people’s lives. When you think about it, social media could be a character in a book.

To further that, I’d be willing to bet (without proof I admit, but with some knowledge of human nature, as I’ve always been keen on what makes people tick) that the majority of people on social media, Facebook in particular, are ‘friends’ with people who they do not actually consider a real friend for whatever reason, be they a boss, a colleague, an in-law, some toxic person from their past, or whatever the case may be.

Now sharing one’s life in pictures and posts seems innocuous enough, and it’s great to keep in touch with family or anyone considered a real friend who lives far away.

I can happily state that I’ve made real friends here in cyber space, mainly through blogging, with several people. Without the internet age I’d never have met them.

But there are also those people who are called ‘frenemies’. They’ll never ‘like’ your post or pictures and are only ‘friends’ out of curiousity, or to keep an eye on what you’re doing, or they may need your help with something down the road. I can spot them a mile away and put as much effort in to avoiding them as I do Covid.

But that aside, social media and blogging too, has also become a marvellous way to learn about and witness the good in our society, but it’s opened our eyes especially to the under-belly, that hasn’t been exposed much up until the last 10 years. We’re much more informed about the many atrocities happening out there, that lets face it, information priveliged, white-owned, mainstream media doesn’t normally divulge. With that in mind, my post and point of being back in contact with a guy we may have went out on a date with once long ago in our teens seems trivial, but it’s not.

I mean, Facebook, if you enjoy the absurdities in life like I do, has turned into one never-ending home movie. A lot of people offer all kinds of selfies, which when you think about it, is an absurd, sad grab for attention. It’s the narcissistic elephant in the room.

Is anyone really interested in seeing how cute someone’s pet rat is? One that belongs to a person you don’t really even know. Is it going to lessen one’s life if we don’t know about his/her pets?

And thinking back I have to ask. Did anyone really want to go to someone’s house for dinner (back in the 70’s) knowing the evening would be capped off by watching home movies where someone’s Aunt Mabel is on a trip in the 1950s visiting piles of stones with historic plaques on them? I doubt it.

I’m Gen X, according to people who create these labels, and back then, and even before my time it was the thing to do.

I remember several adults joking about home movies and how they’d make up any excuse not to have to attend one of these evenings. I’m talking about reel-to-reel days, when home movies were a real cliché in society, and people like my parents actually lived it and made fun of it.

So, has Facebook become that ‘home movie’!? It’s a different age but I’d still argue that the more things change, the more things stay the same.

But in this age things are a little different when you consider the fact that many are addicted to social media and to getting  some attention. Maybe in part because perhaps we’re a little afraid we’re being left out. And why is that?

Is Facebook now the lens through which any acquaintance from long ago can view us, or we them, decades later, so our egos can feel good about where we’ve ended up?

Not in all cases of course, but it does mean those people who we would have normally have lost touch with in ‘real life’ can now witness how wonderful our lives are, and without them being a part of it. Not everyone is like that I know, but we all know some people who are exactly of that mindset.

There are people who really over-share their life online. Maybe I’m old fashioned, but I see a lot of this online and it’s called ‘too much information’.

Has Facebook, and Twitter too, also ironically created this selfish society, full of raging people hiding behind keyboards writing viscous things to someone they don’t even know, and who wouldn’t have the courage to say such things to face-to face?

Further to that, isn’t that a big part of the problem in todays world, this look-at-me selfie society in combination with a lack knowing how to think instead of being told what to think?

I do feel in some ways social media has created some of those monsters in society, (for example, the people who attacked the Capitol building in Washington), in addition to it becoming a mirror that at the same time reflects them? That’s some serious irony.

Wise old owl?

Now, I’m speaking from the perspective of a happily married middle-aged woman. Maybe I sound a little smug to some, and truly don’t mean to, but I have no pretence about myself at this age. I’ve got grey hair, things aren’t that firm any longer. Oh well! I’ve done/seen things, and have known people in life that have lead me to believe that at this point in the game, I’ve nothing left to prove to anyone except myself.

I’m awfully grateful for these life-lessons, both good and bad. I’m grateful to have less ignorance now, with some credit given to social media, on just how many people in society are suffering, and for so many unjust reasons. A post for another time, and I digress.

All of the above thoughts take me back to that person who requested we be ‘friends’ on Facebook, a few weeks ago. It turns out my original hesitation to accept his invitation was correct. Always go with your gut feeling!

I can’t say if he thought I’ve been waiting around for him to get in touch for the last three decades, but whatever the case may be, he very quickly started sending me messages with innuendos, along with what I’m going to call ‘bathroom selfies’.

Bathroom selfies are the kind one takes, (I suppose), in front of the bathroom mirror with one’s cell phone, (which incidentally is something I don’t own), and it’s one of these photos that he chose to send me via Facebook Messenger.

In addition to the photo, he wanted me to comment on how good his body still looks! I know some of you are experiencing an eye-roll right now. 😉

Essentially, he was trolling for compliments. What an ego! I find it so absurd and ridiculous on so many levels, especially considering my age, with the added fact that he’s older than me.  I truly believed that part of life, and men like this, were purely in the past. In any case, it’s good he couldn’t hear me laugh out loud which is what I did after being astounded that this kind of person actually exists. Talk about cliches!

I should have unfriended him right then and there, but decided to play nice.

I wrote back, not really believing I could appeal to his better nature but willing to see what would happen if I tried. It turns out this guy hasn’t changed after all these years because he doesn’t have a better nature. Same old same old.

Suffice to say I replied to his silly message stating that I was happily married, and not sure why he sent this, thanks but no thanks, and please don’t send me anymore photos.

As you can imagine, that didn’t go over well. He wrote back telling me to get over myself. That I was too high-and-mighty! Who the hell did I think I was?  I couldn’t take a joke, yadda yadda yadda. Then he unceremoniously unfriended me, which actually saved me the trouble! 🙂 Pure victim-blaming from a guy who didn’t get the reaction he wanted. If I don’t want to view him, there must be something wrong with me, right?

Wrong!

Not exactly a #Me-too moment, (which like many women, I have actually experienced), but certainly this guy is toxic all the same, one who by the way, now looks like a bit like Charles Manson…. Scrawny, shaved head, and with a personality to match, or lack-there-of, one that hasn’t matured a bit since the 1980s. (Meow is what my Mother would say to that, ha ha).

I did however show the photo to my husband. Yes we had a good laugh!!

We laughed at that guy’s expense and I don’t feel one bit of remorse, even tho’ I’m actually a nice person. But I’m not on this earth to appease some guy from the past’s a fragile sense of self. Sorry, not sorry. And like I said, it’s these absurdities in life where I find the most humour.

In closing, I’ve now left Facebook. Good riddance.

I have emails, snail-mail addresses, and phone numbers of people who I know really care about me, and who I want to stay in touch with. It’s been a week now, and in addition to making fun of this fellow on Facebook, I’ve come to understand just how true it really is that everyone is a teacher.

I learned finally, (having been on the fence about Facebook for some time), that it’s not something I need in my life to make it better. In fact I’d say it’s just the opposite. So I offer my thanks to that guy for showing me this once and for all.

I also hope at the very least, that if anyone out there is hesitating whether or not to accept some ‘friend’ request from someone like that; listen to your inner voice or gut feeling. That toxic person may very well feel just as entitled to over-share if given the opportunity.

February thoughts, folklore, Imbolc offerings, and social media.

Theo van Hoytema – February 1915
Public Domain

February! We’re one step closer to spring! 🙂

Like most gardeners, what usually gets me through any ‘normal’ winter involves plotting and planning the next steps in the yard, (divide and conquer), and thoughts of spring bulbs shooting up from the ground, even when they’re surrounded by pockets of snow hanging about on the lawn and in shadier nooks of the property.

February 1st marks the festival of Imbolc, or St. Brigid’s Day. It’s a celebration to mark the beginning of spring, a cause for celebration if ever there was!

Imbolc’s possible origin may come from the Old Irish word, imb-fholc, ‘to wash/cleanse oneself’, referring to a ritual cleansing.

Smithsonian American Art Museum, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Brigid, patroness of poetry, smithing, medicine, arts/crafts, cattle, and Spring, shares many mythological traits with St. Brigit of Ireland.

The saint, with the same name as the goddess is likely derived from the Proto-Celtic *Brigantī “high, exalted”, and they both share today with Imbolc, which generally speaking, is about a new year and new beginnings.

I thought about that ‘ritual cleansing’, today. I’ve considered how the past year has affected me, at least psychologically, and maybe what we all need right now is some sort of ritual cleansing, no matter how small the act, to rid ourselves of the negativity heaped on us all during the past few years, and especially 2020.

Like many people, the pandemic and the politics (of anger) have proved to be a major distraction against any ‘creativity’ with which I’d normally involve myself. That includes writing, photography, and making wee nature sculptures. Sure, I’ve made some little fairy houses and furniture, but I can’t seem to focus too long on any one activity.

I thought at first I may be experiencing some sort of depression or melancholy, and inhaling too much of the angst in this world has deprived me of the oxygen normally sustaining any creative pursuits.

Because of that, of late I’ve stopped watching the news so often. I don’t want to be ignorant of what’s going on, but I don’t think being obsessed by it has been helpful either.

The melancholy may in part be true, but winter affects me in general, but being aware of that now, I tend to get outside more often for fresh air and some excercise, which really helps. I’d love to hear how others are feeling affected by all of this, and how you’re coping with it. I’ve used art as therapy for most of my life, but have hardly posted anything here of note in the past 6 months, with writer’s block seeming to win the day everytime I sit down and try to type.

I’ve felt many flashes of inspiration, when the snow is falling, or when I see a bird or animal, or find an interesting bit of history I’d like to share, but when it comes down to putting thoughts into words, along with any photos, garden related or not, everything I want to post about seems so trivial and unimportant when I consider what’s going on in the world now; how so many people are suffering.

So instead I’ve been sitting on my hands.

Even though I’m an introvert, I really like people and set out to understand what makes them tick.

I love to read about people, especially artists and writers from the early to mid 20th century, but I’ve never been one who requires people around me all the time like some extroverts might.

Perhaps because I have so much going on in my head, which has in the past, energized my creative bents, I don’t have that need, and find parties and big social affairs draining. After all, my studio is called Wall Flower Studio!

I’m totally freaked out by Covid19. I only go out if I have to, which means the bank, the grocery store, gas (not so often because I’m home so much), and when out, I do everthing I can, (while trying not to appear rude) to stay at least six feet away from people. This can be challenging however when others seem oblivious to the danger Covid poses, or are perhaps they’re handling the pandemic by ignoring its existance altogether… I’m not judge, jury or hangman, but will continue to keep my distance whenever possible.

Eduard Marmet, CC BY-SA 3.0 GFDL 1.2, via Wikimedia Commons

But, even I have my limits with all of this homebody business. I can’t wait to go on a trip to anywhere, or to a big, loud, busy shopping mall & spend some money, buy a new pair of shoes, and do some serious people watching.

Until then, I’ll continue to (happily for the most part), read and research the many topics of interest I’ve been digesting for the book(s) I’ve been trying to work on during the past few years.. I”ll get there eventually!

Perhaps the reason I’ve been finding it difficult to write, and address my feelings about the past year, and overcome them, is in part because I, (like many of you) feel powerless to do anything of value that might bring about positive change, especially under lockdown conditions.

I certainly don’t mean to depress anyone. I’m just happy that this is all finally spilling out of me after months of trying to pin down the exact feelings on how I’ve been handling events beyond my control, which truth be told, is something I’ve never been good at..

I suppose supressed feelings, along with a side order of inaction, are my best defense, with the addition of browsing the interent, baking cookies, shovelling snow or cleaning my house, which by the way is immaculate right now, and yet nobody can come over and see.  😉

However, in a  strange way, what’s really helped take my mind of the pandemic, (as long as I avoid political/pandemic posts), is Twitter.

I’m on the fence about social media, ( and somedays I want to dump Facebook especially), and in a postive way it brings people & ideas together who might otherwise never find one another. But in the same vein, it’s proving to have a destructive side, too.

I’m appalled at the misinformation & far-out conspiracy theories people are engaging in and accepting as fact; ones that harm and erode democracy around the world. Or the people who justify their hate and ignorance while participating in racially motivated entitlement and violent acts against others like it’s was some sort of religious rite.

I’m also ambivalent about social media. I see people sharing way too much personal information, which goes against privacy concerns I have about how all of our information is extracted and used.

But, having said all this, I do think in some way Twitter has helped me continue to dabble in writing during a time where I’ve felt it difficult to even post Happy New Year on my blog, (which I do retroactively wish all of you!) I might not think this of Twitter down the road, but for now, it’s been a positive outlet at this time.

Every day thousands of people join forces on Twitter behind different #hashtags. (I’ve explained the purpose of hashtags in a previous post, so I won’t get into that, but suffice to say, it’s a way for people to share common ground, artistic ideas and interesting bits information.)

In a sense, my whole week is built on these hashtags. Here’s a sample of some I’ve come to look forward to:

#MythologyMonday, #FairytaleTuesday, #WyrdWednesday, #FolkloreThursday, #FaustianFriday, #SuperstitionSaturday, #Caturday, and #ShakespeareSunday.

Each hashtag is self-explantory, but to make them even more interesting, every week involves a different theme on those hashtags. One can share tidbits about a theme with like-minds and learn from others on topics that interest them, too. For example, #MythologyMonday might be about horses one week and Witches or Norse goddesses the next.

Sometimes I’m keen to share a line or two on the subject matter I’m familiar with; one that will fit in the box of characters allowed by Twitter. Other times I have to investigate and research the daily theme, which means spending time locating a quote, picture or painting, (in the public domain), that fits with the subject matter of that day.

One might say this Twitter excercise is completely shallow and an effort to practice avoidance of the outside world, but I think of it as an enjoyable practice and perhaps a bit of self-presevation in defiance of the world we’re all living in right now.

I’m glad to have spurted all of this out. I feel better for having written at all to be honest, like it was some sort of ritual cleansing. To put my thoughts out there and just accept them for what the are at this moment in time is an act of cleansing. And really, isn’t that a big part of any art? To convey and communicate ideas that one may be feeling/thinking/experiencing?

So, if you made it this far, I thank you! If, like me you feel a need  for a writing outlet that’s not too suffocating or overly taxing at the moment, wander on over to Twitter and find a hashtag or two that suits your interests!

I’m looking forward to better times for us all and do know they’re coming, along with more progress with my book, and spring flowers in the garden.

Hang in there everyone. The prize will be all that more sweet once it actually arrives. There are better days ahead.. Be well & stay safe!