Confronting Worry

The best advice I was given in 2012 was over the phone, either in the hospital or just after arriving home with our 2 1/2 month-old. I told a friend that I was worried about —-. She said, Oh girl, don’t borrow trouble. I never realized that is what I was doing.

Months later, that phrase has rescued me from all those unborn ideas from an imagined and horrific future. It’s a horrible state to be in, worry is.

Worry can only exist in the absence of knowledge. Conversely, so can faith. You know that freak-nasty mass of hair that collects in shower drains? Well, that’s the best image I can think of to illustrate the relationship between fear and worry; worry and isolation (real and imagined); worry and pretty much all negativity. Tangled up in each other and collecting other bits of gloom. Imagine picking the hair mass loose with a bobby pin and then swallowing it. That’s basically what worrying gets you. A tummy full of foul thoughts, which leads to more bad thoughts, which leads to physical manifestations of badness.

Worry sneaks in sometimes disguised as Caring. It whispers, If I worry, it’s because I care. I thought this was true until recently. I think I worry because I’m too lazy to trust or to think or to make a decision. I worry because I’m afraid of dealing with loss or hurt. And I am afraid of this. When I am most afraid, it’s because I am already worrying. When bad things happen, you can’t always run away. If you don’t puke first, you just stand there and deal with it. Worry is a poor man’s care. When I care, I act. When I worry, I contract inside myself and my imagined, borrowed world. Boo.

Over at, Heather writes earnest and interesting blogs and she recently wrote about mindfulness and how it translates from the Chinese as present in heart. It’s a beautiful thought (and blog post). It made me think of praying. If you think praying is all about the words you say, then I offer a supplemental idea: what if it’s simply being present in heart before your higher power? That’s how I think of it. Maybe words get you there. Maybe song. Maybe silence or trees. I just know that when I speak, I don’t always know what to say except for the worries. If I silence the worries, but remain present in heart, well, that’s better. No hairballs, no borrowed troubles. Just the nitty-gritty, what’s really going on. Literally.

Speaking of silencing worries, remember with me that it, like all strains in the negative family, is contagious. Don’t let it spread; put it to bed.



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Filed under love, pain, things that might be obvious to most people but take me awhile to figure out, Uncategorized, words

Garden Project & New Chicks!

Enjoying the sunny and mildly cool weather this morning while admiring my front garden project. For the last two weeks I fought against the regime of grass and weeds who took over in an unexpected December coup d’etat. (The grass was so thick, you couldn’t see most of the plants.)

The existing veggie plants can now freely grow, and I’m awaiting newly planted seeds to sprout for a staggered harvest. As I stood there sipping my peppermint and red raspberry pregnancy tea with my Great Dane sunbathing beside me, I felt a peaceful sense of accomplishment. I also thought back to times when I wanted a garden, but just hadn’t made the effort. Now I have several beds with a couple of years of gardening under my belt. And while I’m doing this, my husband is off getting these guys:

Five new Americauna chicks! We wanted some more laying hens and this breed produces the blueish/green eggs that are so fun to get. Our older Americauna just started laying and a few of our other hens have picked up again with the milder weather. I love fresh eggs! Gathering, eating and sharing them!

It blows my mind when I think back to three-four years ago when all this was mere thought and dream. Props to my husband Glen, who has no limits to his aspirations, and is exceptional at getting projects rolling. I tend to deliberate (to a fault) and put off actually starting things until I learn about them. But there is no teacher greater than experience. I’m constantly amazed by what can grow here in Central Texas and I love challenging the limits.

If you’ve been wanting to grow some of your own food, the best thing to do is start. People tell me all the time they want to garden. Why is it so hard to get started? It doesn’t need to be a difficult or costly project.  You need a sunny spot–a front or back porch, balcony or yard plot. Many vegetables can be grown in containers if you get good soil and have some sun. I’ve found sufficient information on every veggie I’ve grown on the internet. Just make sure you look up growing in your area. Climate affects the growing season and I’ve found dramatic differences in even cities three or four hours north/south of Austin. Every person with an urban garden/farm/homestead says the same thing–just start.

The last year I planned a wedding, married my love, moved 3 times–the last during my first trimester of pregnancy, and now am readying for a child. So when it comes to gardening and home projects, I love finding environmentally friendly materials for free or cheap. We have found LOTS of excellent materials by scavenging.

All of these plant pots were free, including two of the plants and about 30 others not shown here. TIP: Our local gardening centers have a place for recycling their pots. Some of them are plain and not pretty at all, such as this big black one up front, but it is durable and deep. Growing in it are two beets and a turnip. These root vegetables won’t grow in the shallow, decorative pots available in most stores. I’ve also found some cute pots in these bins, including a gold-colored one, which is waiting for the perfect plant-mate.

This winter our garden includes spinach (my fave!), bok choy, broccoli, turnips, cilantro, red and green swiss chard, three kinds of lettuce, snow and green peas, three kinds of kale, raspberry sorrel, an Asian variety of lettuce, red cabbage, carrots and celery. Garlic, shallots, onion, strawberries and artichoke are planted, but won’t be ready until later in the spring and summer. Most of these I started from seed, but a few I bought as transplants. The easiest way to start a garden is to get some pots or a plot, some good soil, and grab a few organic transplants from your local garden store. They  should only sell what grows well in your area by season. FYI: Vegetables differ from flowers in this sense. Centers will sell annual flowers at the beginning of their season and when they go on sale, it often means their season is almost up. So ask if what you’re about to buy will last or reseed itself. If you’ve ever bought flowers on sale and thought you killed them after only a few weeks, they might have been on their deathbed, anyway.

Happy spring planting!

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I mean, thank God.

I love reading things like this from writers:

“Sometimes I felt like, ‘Things are going great and I’m loving this,’ ” she says. “Some days it was just terrible. I’ll listen and think, ‘This is shit, what was I doing?’ Sometimes I’ll be in a moment of shame, and then I’ll try this, or maybe this, and then the next day I’ll think that it’s better than I thought. Feelings aren’t fact.”

–Annie Clark of St. Vincent, interview with Spin Magazine, Sept 2011


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Peaches, Wine

I’ve been enjoying this refreshing twist on summer wine using seasonal fruit. Inspired by a poem and my recent wedding.

I simply peel and cut up half a fresh peach and place it in a wine glass. Then top with a favorite chardonnay.  If you let it sit 10 minutes or longer, the peach will begin to infuse the wine, especially the sweeter and riper the peach. By the end of the glass (or two) the peaches taste even better!

One of the poems read during our wedding is by Li-Young Lee, a favorite contemporary poet of mine. My aunt and wedding decorator extraordinaire painted an excerpt from this poem on brown paper bags of peaches scattered around the tables at our rehearsal dinner. Seeing that tiny detail is the first time my eyes watered during the official happenings. Here is the poem:

From Blossoms

From blossoms comes

this brown paper bag of peaches

we bought from the boy

at the bend in the road where we turned toward   

signs painted Peaches.

From laden boughs, from hands,

from sweet fellowship in the bins,

comes nectar at the roadside, succulent

peaches we devour, dusty skin and all,

comes the familiar dust of summer, dust we eat.

O, to take what we love inside,

to carry within us an orchard, to eat

not only the skin, but the shade,

not only the sugar, but the days, to hold

the fruit in our hands, adore it, then bite into   

the round jubilance of peach.

There are days we live

as if death were nowhere

in the background; from joy

to joy to joy, from wing to wing,

from blossom to blossom to

impossible blossom, to sweet impossible blossom.

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Filed under Food & Drink, Summer

Glory at the Train Yards

One of the coolest things I experienced this year is the Railroad Revival Tour, which is the reason I’m back blogging about it.

This was more than a concert. It was a rich experience and the very idea of it excites me. When artists collaborate, a little fire ignites somewhere within me, which was only heightened by the fact that it happened on vintage rail cars traveling across the southwest with three of my favorite bands. Beyond this, the heart and intention of the tour is something I believe in and is one of the biggest reasons I listen to the music I do. It is the pursuit of understanding and a reminder to revel all the moments one can.

“Today’s mass transit is built for speed and volume, which suits our modern lifestyle, but sometimes the notion of landscape and discovery is left behind. The RRT is an effort to re-imagine that landscape, the experience of the journey, and to re-discover what happens in between destinations.

List of the coolest things about this tour:

The tickets:

1) The iridescent script doesn’t come through in photograph. Coolest tickets I’ve ever bought.

2) Tickets doubled as a bus pass for the evening of the concert. (No parking at venue. We biked it.)

3) Back of the ticket reads  “This ticket entitles you to a free mp3 download of live music recorded at this and other RRT events.” (Beats the feeling of getting ripped off from an online mass ticket seller when your $20 ticket ends up costing you $45 due to fees and dues and secret sins.)

3) The Venue: Rockin’ out at the train yards added originality to the already magical ambiance.

4) The train: Vintage rail cars are infinitely cooler than a tour bus backed up in alleyway or parking lot. Also, see reason #3.

5) The BANDS! (in order of official appearance):

Old Crow Medicine Show  is so much fun to watch as well as hear. The words down home comes to mind, as well as fun. They like to have fun, you can see it.

2) Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros evoked an overall feeling of community. Led by Alexander (who channeled John Lennon), their show was interactive with few boundaries between musicians and fans. Felt like we all were sitting out at a campfire somewhere, just hanging, singing, experiencing the night.

3) Mumford & Sons were solid performers, professional and full of energy, they delivered on every song. And by delivered, I mean they rolled it up, put it in the pan,  and baked a cake of musical delights that we feasted on. The marching band from Austin High School played a song with them, and they showcased a new one, Below My Feet. My calves were sore from dance-jumping, and Timshel evoked tears.

Members from the three bands played on every set, and the entire evening (and I suspect the entire train trip) was a collaborative contained chaos. For the finale at each of the train stops, all members of all the bands sang and played Woody Guthrie’s This Train is Bound for Glory. And it was glorious, indeed.

It was an uplifting and thrilling show, and I smiled  and sang to myself as Glen and I biked through the throngs and into the night toward our beast of a van parked somewhere beyond the sight and sounds of the train yards.

Read a sweet RRT blog post describing a day in the life of a railroad revival tourist here.


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Catalog August 2011

I’m a rattlesnake babe, I’m like fuel on a fire,
so if you’re gonna get made don’t be afraid
of what you’ve learned

A familiar song I heard for the first time today is Furr by Blitzen Trapper. Go listen. It’s bril.

Remember the Counting Crows album August and Everything After? Classic. And this month is a great one to give it a listen, if you happen to be traveling across town in traffic, or across the state in one last summer escape. Or cleaning up your house and baking rosemary potatoes for dinner with friends, as I am. I cannot wait to write some blogs. And catch up reading my blog feeds! I’ve missed the blogosphere, and although seeing many wonderful friends recently was encouraging, I miss reading what those weirdos are thinking when they are alone in their respective rooms, chewing and typing out little bits of brain product.

A few things I’m thinking today:

  • Married life is awesome.
  • I have to go wake up my husband.
  • I have a husband!
  • Listening to music on headphones is an intimate and important joy in my life. It’s a different experience than listening in the car or on speakers.
  • The movie The Help is true to the heart of the book and I recommend it to everyone. The book, too. It’s even better.
  • While in Abilene, I got to see all my nieces and nephew and they are so funny and precious, all in their own way.
  • While in Abilene, I got to see all my family and friends and they are so funny and precious, all in their own way.
  • The days go by so quickly, and I keep thinking about the several people I want to phone. And I keep getting busy and sidetracked and it’s already been several days. I’m pretty sure procrastination houses all the regrets of my life. Procrastination and hesitation. Man, what a show-stopper.
  • I’m a rattlesnake babe, I’m like fuel on a fire,
    so if you’re gonna get made don’t be afraid
    of what you’ve learned
  • This is a really exciting time in my life. For obvious reasons, wedding and marriage, and for some less perceptible. More to come.


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Short Prose

I’ve got several things in my queue to catch up on (RRT!), but check out these thought-provoking short prose  pieces from a contest for The Gulf Coast, a literary journal based at University of Houston. Each is 500 words or less and totally manageable for your Thursday mid-day blog break.

Animals Do Not Commit Delusional Acts by Lillian-Yvonne Bertram (Winner)

Tennessee Apology by Benjamin Glass (1st Runner Up)

Picnic by Robert Thomas

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