one conscious breath

Meditation happens the moment we realize our focus has drifted from the present. In that split second realization, when we are in the now, the mind loosens.  It rests.  It shakes off the troubles of the past and worries of the future. 

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As I sit here typing this, my mind moves backward and forward. Back into what I did yesterday and forward into the things I need (want) to accomplish this evening. In the spirit of New Year’s resolutions and intention setting, consider tucking a thought into the back of your mind that will trigger a stillness of the mind.  Something that has the possibility of bringing about a quieting and slowing of the jumpiness of the mind.  For me the thought is, “back to the breath, Kelly, back to the breath.”  This brings me out of a swirl of thoughts into a stillness and settledness.  That doesn’t mean that normal thought activity does not carry on soon thereafter.  It does. But, for those moments, resting of the mind can and does happen.  

Weeks 11 through 14 in the garden have found me planting turnips, kohlrabi, darkifor kale, shishito peppers, leeks and a few more lettuces.   Some from starter plants, but mostly from seed.  The leeks did not germinate and needed to be re-seeded, but the others have sent up tiny shoots.  I also filled in among the cells a few more radishes while admiring the frothy tops of carrots planted weeks ago.

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The tomato plants are not faring well with the bacterial blight and what also appears to be a plant- parasitic insect called a root-knot nematode feeding on the roots of at least one of the tomato plants.  The tomato plant where it was feeding had to be removed.  I underplanted two more tomato plants near the two mature ones expecting the mature ones will need to be pulled soon.  Finally, below is a shot of a couple things I brought home, scallions and russian kale.   

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I hope 2014 brings about a chance to experience mindfulness and stillness in your day even if it is in the form of one conscious breath.  That is and would be a beautiful thing.    

beauty and blight

Week nine in our garden has brought beauty and blight.  The beauty is seen in the photo below of the left side of our garden. Plants look healthy, green, and vibrant. Hidden from this photo are the two squash plants I removed that succumbed to fungus. Typical of south Florida gardening especially when heat and humidity hang on into the growing season.  Blight (an airborne bacteria that destroys plants) is beginning to take over the tomato plants so carefully grown from seed.  The photo on the right shows a young tomato plant in the foreground I began with a starter plant in the early weeks of planting.

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Growing season begins around October 1st in this climate zone.  The garden started slowly in the first few weeks while I planted seeds and starter plants.  While there are fungal issues and blight spreading, that does not detract from the many vegetables that are growing well.  Scallions, lettuces, kale photo copy 4, cucumbers, radishes, carrots, beets, and romanesco, to name a few, are growing well.  (Resembling cauliflower, romanesco is an edible flower and part of the cruciferous family.)  

Planted yesterday, the carrot seeds will start to show bright, frothy tops in about four weeks.  The photo on the lower right shows carrots started from seed after five weeks.  

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 Below is a photo of one of our prettiest plants beginning to bear fruit.  

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It is a large, gangly tomato plant standing around six to seven feet tall at its highest point.  We’ll see if it survives the blight.  I suspect it will.  

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If you have vegetables sitting in your crisper and are not sure what to do with them, try sautéing them lightly in olive oil, add salt and pepper to taste, maybe a squeeze of lemon and a small pinch of red pepper flakes for heat.  If root vegetables are on hand, try roasting them.  Cutting each vegetable into roughly the same size, toss with olive oil, salt and pepper on a large baking sheet.  Roast until tender in an oven 350 to 400 degrees.  Roasted vegetables can easily be made into a comforting soup.  Blend the roasted veggies with a little broth.  Season to taste.  Make it a meal and garnish with croutons, drizzle with oil.

Any meal preparation can be done with mindfulness, no matter how simple or how complicated.  Try breathing diaphragmatically (deeply into the belly.)  Our breath is a gateway to mindfulness.