Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Yoga update

So after a couple of months of doing this lukewarm yoga thang three or four times a week, I definitely notice a difference. I have hit that wonderful, glorious point where it hurts not to exercise. If I don't go to yoga, I feel it in my back and legs, and my sore left shoulder is much stiffer. But if I go to yoga, no matter how stiff I am going in, I feel better looser and stronger and lighter. That's progress. As an old lady of 48 I am still stiff at night, but I know better how to fix that now.

I don't want to go. But at night I lay out my yoga clothes (they get soaking wet each class so I have to wash them every day) and in the morning, I wake up, put on my yoga clothes, get Lily to the bus, and just go to yoga. I often find myself on the mat doing a ragdoll or a downdog wondering, how did I get here? When did I get here?

The first 15 minutes are awful, usually; I'm stiff, weak, tired, I can't stay in the poses, my brain is really crazy, my hamstrings ache, and I want it to be over. We do about 45 minutes standing and 45 minutes lying down. That also includes some inversion time. It's a pretty typical routine; rarely are there surprises in the order of poses, and it's easier for my mind to wander now because I don't have to pay as strict attention. But it still surprises me when we come to back bends and start the prone/supine positions. I think, wait, we're halfway through? And often, like today, all of a sudden it's 90 minutes later and I am finishing up shivasana, corpse pose, and I'm thinking, how did I get here?

The other day I was late and missed class, so I went for a bike ride instead. I couldn't believe how much easier it was! I am stronger and more flexible and I have more lung capacity. Last Friday I knew I couldn't go but I couldn't imagine not doing yoga that day so I took out my mat and did a half hour on my own. It felt nice. But then we were away for the weekend and I didn't get any exercise, and then on Monday Lily was sick for the day. And oh, did I pay on Tuesday morning!

Adventures in gardening

Dave was a bit annoyed recently because our local said subscribers could no longer ask about plants. But not much later he reported that a new freecycle list had started, called ChlorophyllPV, but it only had three subscribers. A day later there were more than 70. And he's been happily responding to all the offers of shade plants for our poor, devastated front yard.

Devastated because when our power went out last fall we had to have a trench dug from one end to the other in order to get at the cable coming in from the street. But it was a great way to get rid of some of the hated pachysandra, and it sparked our brain cells. After our electric was fixed our electrician came back for several diseased hemlocks, which we allowd him to chop down to use as firewood. He left the branches for us to chip. Next we got a visit from an organic, naturalistic landscaper, who is working on a plan for us as we speak. And he mentioned grinding the dozen stumps on our yard, which turned out to be pretty pricy but totally worth it, except that now we have great deep holes all over our yard instead of stumps. Then a guy came in and chipped up the branches.

And now, our shade plants. This weekend Dave raided his mom's garden and the back of our car was filled with hostas, and a hydrangea. Then he arranged for me to go to a couple of ChlorophyllPV folks and pick up their shade offerings, including lilies of the valley, sweet woodruff, aretemia (?), myrtle, and I don't know what else. Yesterday the lily-of-the-valley lady showed me where to from, and I kinda hacked at it until she stopped me and showed me what to do. I'm an amateur, I said apologetically, and she hung around and encouraged me as I dug up her plants, four or five shopping bags worth.

I told the second plant-giver right at the top that I was an amateur and that I was here for my husband, and she happily gave me a tour of her lovely yard, apologizing all the while for the messiness. I guess it was a bit messy, because she'd been away for several months, but I really like that kind of messy. She kept saying, do you want myrtle? How about some lily-of-the-valley? Would you like loosestrife? I knew Dave hadn't wanted the loosestrife and I had just gotten the lily OTV the day before. But I took the myrtle, only to realize we have quite a lot of it. Oh well. She gave me more stuff, including forget-me-nots, and showed me how to dry the little seed pods and plant those. I got four or five shopping bags from her too.

So after Dave came home tonight, around his usual five, we donned insect repellent--why do I always get inspired to do this gardening thing in the early evening?--and braved the elements to dig up about three or four feet around half of one of our enormous oaks out by our mailbox. Any gardening I do right now is as close to the street as I can get it, because it's the part that everyone sees--we're on a cul-de-sac and we have a trailhead at the end of our road, so there's a lot of walkers--and I want to discourage people from allowing their dogs to poop on our yard. I have found quite a lot of that stuff out front, and I think the better the yard looks the less likely someone will be to allow their dog to wreck it.

At any rate, tonight I pitched up around about a third of the oak and we got a couple of wheelbarrows of mulch from a pile our neighbors dumped last year. Yes, I asked, and we'll probably pay half of the next load, something like that. And then Dave planted some hostas, interspersed with some of the lilies-of-the-valley. I think it'll look nice when it's all filled in and blooming, and for now, at least it looks a little cared for.

In case it wasn't obvious, I am not a gardener. I am an amateur. But we got this place and more than not wanting it to look like a construction site, I want to enjoy my yard. I like being outside, I like being around plants and soil and yes, even the bugs--in small doses. And if I can learn something about gardening and plants in the meantime, so much the better. I have no idea what I'm doing, but what's emerging is, I'm doing the next right thing. I'm taking this one step at a time, and that seems to be working pretty well.

Still to come: a truckload of top soil or loam to fill in the holes, and shape the hill by the front door. And maybe some more mountain laurel to go on that hill, and who knows what else. And weeding in the front along the street, and maybe eventually putting down more mulch and planting other interesting shade-loving things. And of course, mulching around the other four or five oaks.