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Posts Tagged ‘labyrinth’

We took Jim off to the airport in St. Louis on Wednesday so he could catch a more or less early flight to Wisconsin on Thursday morning.

I drove home in the rain on Thursday morning and it proceeded to continue raining off and on until today.  This beautiful Sunday dawned crystal clear and frosty, but now the sun is shining, the bees are out foraging and the crocuses are blooming.

All told we received over 7 inches of rain in those three days, and that made the yard impressively wet.  Ruby really didn’t see any reason she should go Out There in All That Mud, but I knew that her bladder and bowels needed to empty, and so I insisted, much to her dismay, I might add.

I did go out and take a few pictures in the rain.  I’m sure it must have been an amusing sight if anyone had seen me juggling my  umbrella and the camera in the downpour.  The wonderful Fuji digital that I use may be old and starting to have wonky switches, but it still works and I did not see any good coming out of drenching it in the name of documenting the deluge.

Yesterday afternoon, the labyrinth looked like this:

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Today, less than 24 hours later, it presents a very different mien.

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I did zero in on one very wet clump of crocuses that was courageously trying to convince everyone that it really is spring, even though we have yet to cross the vernal equinox.

DSCF6583Those game little flowers are a whole lot happier today.  And amazingly enough, they did not drown.

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In case you are wondering what the bees are finding to forage for, there are crocuses (obviously).  But there are also bluets up, and the henbit is going to be in full bloom by tomorrow.  The witch hazel is in full bloom too, and so the honeybees are busy replenishing their stores.

 

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I walked the labyrinth this morning.

I’ve been doing that a lot lately; taking new rocks in, mostly.   Several years ago I joined the Labyrinth Society’s 365 Club.   The goal was to walk a labyrinth every day for a year.   I started out strong, but after about a month and a half I stopped doing it.   It seemed that what should have been a meaningful spiritual exercise was becoming rote and routine, and I didn’t really like that result.   So I stopped trying to make the 365 day goal.

Maybe I will try again this year.   I don’t know.

I do know that I have been very inspired by Twylla Alexander’s labyrinth journey.   She made a commitment to walk one labyrinth created by a woman in each of the 50 states.   She recently completed this journey, or at least the first part of it.  The second part is to write a book about it.   Her break in the journey turns out to be a pause to create her own labyrinth.  Many of the women whose labyrinths she walked are going to send her a rock for her labyrinth.

My labyrinth was one of the ones she chose, and her visit was special.   One of the results was to rekindle my relationship with my own labyrinth.   I also decided to refurbish the inner circle.    Today I was taking a couple of new denizens in, and while I was at it I took the rock I had chosen to send her along.   While I was making this pilgrimage, a sort of prose poem came to me.

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About Life’s Journey

Sometimes you walk alone; sometimes you have company.   Both ways are good.

Often there is a path for you to follow; but sometimes you have to create your own.   These both are valuable experiences.

Love is all around you; never forget that it is infinite.

When you are looking for answers, leave no stone unturned.

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You never know what is hidden on the other side of an interesting but not THAT remarkable rock.

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It is good to look at things from more than one angle.

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Always try to finish what you start; but be willing to be interrupted for beauty, friends, and rest.   Procrastination is not always a bad thing.

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Now, I have procrastinated long enough.   I must go dig my potatoes, and work on establishing order in the rain garden.

 

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It has been a long slog, but the remodel of the inner circle of the labyrinth is finally complete.

The whole thing started only a week ago even though it feels like it was a month of Sundays.   As you may recall, the weed/grass situation vis-a-vis the special rocks in the inner circle was becoming impossible.   After due consideration, we decided that “something” needed to be done.   Neglecting many other projects, not the least of which is getting the Dragon’s Teeth re-situated and the rain garden weeded, I proceeded to dive headlong into the revamping of the inner circle.

Let no one think that this remodelling project was the only thing accomplished in the interim.   No massages were cancelled, and I kept the laundry done, the dog walked, the cats fed, and the garden watered and tended while all the following was going on.   And in addition, Jim went off to work for his final few days at the Commissary.

So, to recap, I began be removing the rocks from the inner circle.

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As soon as the land was cleared, I began digging a shallow ditch around the circle where all those rocks used to be.

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This process didn’t take nearly as long as I was afraid it would.   I spent a couple of afternoons on this phase.   It was quite ironic that I was already generating dirt that needed a place to live within literally hours of having moved the pile of dirt that was formed from just such projects in the past onto the root cellar.   However, that particular project resulted in some low places that needed fill, and so my labyrinth dirt went towards accomplishing that.

After the ditch was dug and leveled, I put a nice layer of road base into it.  Last Saturday morning, the day after his “last day of work”, Jim went off to Lowe’s and acquired rebar and quickcrete.   The rebar was cut to appropriate sized pieces, wired together, and placed in the ditch.

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It is propped up on nice little flat rocks so that the concrete will flow in and around under the rebar, thus making the resulting pour strong and stable.

Note the little cement mixer.   There is an amusing little story about that:   Lo these many years ago on a fine spring morning, my dear spouse looked at me and said, “I’m going to run some errands.”

This was no big surprise, errands are run on a regular basis around The Havens, but on this occasion he was gone a very long time.   Eventually, he returned home in a state of elevated mood and informed me he needed to take the truck off to pick up something he had purchased.  It seems that as he was driving past the Civic Center he saw a sign for a “Tool Sale” and decided to look in on this seductive event.

What had caught his roving eye was a small cement mixer, for which he promptly forked over a little more than $100.   I need not tell you that I had no concept of why it might be a good idea to have a cement mixer.   In all my childhood experience, whenever cement needed to be mixed, it was done with a shovel in a wheelbarrow, and whatever was good enough for my Daddy was good enough for me.

“No really,”  my spouse informed me with great pleasure and excitement.   “It’ll come in handy, you’ll see!”

It wasn’t that much money, didn’t make it impossible to pay our bills that month and he was so happy about it.   I didn’t give him a hard time.

I have to say that that cement mixer has never seen a year since when it was not used for some project or other.   He sure as heck was right about it coming in handy, and last Saturday was no exception!

We started off the project with 15 bags of quick-crete.   This is basically concrete mix in an 80 pound bag.  We knew we would need more than that, but that was as much weight as Jim cared to put on our little pickup, and we figured after we got that poured we would have a pretty good idea of how much more mix we would need.  Laboriously, Jim moved each bag to the wheelbarrow and moved it to the mixer, then lifted it up and poured it in.   Adding water, the little mixer turned and turned and the concrete mixed up nicely.

Then Jim tilted the mixture and poured it into the trench, while I pushed it around with the hoe so it didn’t over flow.   While he went through that process again, I spent quality time with the trowel smoothing out the pour and agitating it to bring the fines to the top so we would have a nice surface.

Eventually, we got to the part of the circle where the bench and the pile of rocks was.   At that point, it was not possible to tilt the concrete directly into the trench.  We brought our mortar board out and poured it onto that.   From there, it was my job to shovel it into the trench and smooth it while Jim was mixing the next batch.   We came to the end of the 15 bags, and decided it was time to take a break.

We estimated that we had made it about 2/3 of the way around, and so we thought we would need 8 more bags.   Just for insurance, Jim decided to buy 9, figuring that if there was left over we would be putting it into the garden retaining walls in the next few days.  Jim took his break on the drive over to Lowe’s.   I forget what I did while he was gone, but it didn’t involve a lot of sitting around.

He got back with the second load, and we proceeded to pour some more.   It only took another couple of bags to get to the point where we could pour directly into the trench, much to my poor arm’s relief.   (For the record, my forearms are still sore from that little section of shoveling wet concrete.)

Ironically, our estimate was off.  It turned out we needed ONE more bag to complete the pour, and so off Jim went to procure that bag.   As he made the trip, I placed the direction rocks into the wet concrete and generally admired the job.   It seemed obvious in retrospect that we would need 25 bags to complete the job, because clearly it was going to take EXACTLY one ton of concrete to form the inner circle.   In short order, the buyer returned and we finished the job.

After we cleaned up our tools, I documented the finished circle, still wet and curing.

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One of the things I decided about this project was that I was going to document my rocks.   So, the following morning we set up a portrait studio over by the sauna, and I proceeded to transport all the special rocks to that location and shoot them individually, along with a tag that indicated where they were from.  Each photo was also assigned a number.

Here is an example of the result.

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It was during this process that I discovered that my ability to write numbers in order was impaired.   I have one rock whose number is 43.5 because I forgot to list it until I was far down the list.   I also found myself re-numbering rocks when I turned a page and read 117 as 111 and so labeled several rocks with the same identification number.   But I got it straightened out, and it was actually important because when I placed the special rocks back onto the circle I made a map of where they got put.

I am having the pictures printed out, and I will make a notebook with a page for each rock.   The page will list its number along with information on who procured it for me if it was a gift, and any little story that revolves around it.   That way, in the future, other people will be able to understand what is special about each rock without having to extract the information from me personally.   This also guards against any memory losses I might have.

As I was taking rocks off the labyrinth, I was gratified to be able to remember the details on most of them.   Despite that, there were several “Mystery Rocks” that turned up during the process.   I did not toss them out because of that.   My decision was to replace them back in the circle close to the location where they were unearthed.   Maybe in the future the clouds will clear and I will remember where they came from.

Anyway, it took me two days to get them all back into place, what with the mapping project and having to actually do massages for clients in between working on the project.

But this afternoon, I finished the job.   It really looks good.

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Here’s a close up of the North West end of the inner circle.

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Eventually, the concrete will weather a bit and not be so blindingly white.

I have to say that the whole project has made me realize just how incredibly blessed I am with family, friends, and strangers contributing rocks to the inner circle.   Without them, I wouldn’t have Antarctica, the bottom of Sydney Harbor, the Great Sandy Desert, or the floor of the Arctic Ocean.   I feel very honored indeed.

The only thing left to do is to create the notebook and redraw the map.

But first, I have to go walk Ruby.

 

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Labyrinth remodel

We built the labyrinth in 2001.   I have written several posts about that, but I think the description in this post is probably one of the better ones.

Don’t get me wrong, now, but when I conceived the idea of having a labyrinth on the place I really had no idea what I was getting into!   It really is a lot of work, especially when you realize the maintenance requirements.  If I had it to do over again, I might decide on a different plan of attack.   The outline in rocks was fairly easy to accomplish.   Keeping it so that people can walk the path is not so easy.

We mow the paths on a regular basis using a 21″ manual mower.   This is a size that is not all that popular here in the Midwest, where people tend to have acres of lawn to mow and do it on big John Deere riding lawnmowers.   I imagine if I lived in a city the little mower might be more readily available.   At any rate, we quickly learned that trying to weed eat the rock edges was tedious and ate up weed eater twine in a most impressive way.   So the labyrinth usually looks like this in the summer.

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Okay.   The bride and groom were a one-time phenomenon.

Believe it or not, there is a path in there, and if you start at the beginning you do indeed make it to the center without getting lost.  The labyrinth has many moods.

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So, take a moment to imagine the inner circle with that amount of plant material.  We tried weed eating it exactly once.   The special rocks flew around in a most impressive way and we decided that this was a losing proposition.  So, without some sort of grooming method my much vaunted special rocks would be invisible unless you excavated.  I admit to spending a certain amount of time each summer trimming back the weeds in the inner circle by hand so I can enjoy my trip around the world when I sit in the center of the labyrinth.  For a long time, with a lot of effort, it looked somewhat like this.

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As those of you who frequent the blog know, I have been really busy for the last couple of summers, going on cruises to Alaska, taking classes, meeting my new grandbaby, etc etc ad nauseum.   The inner circle languished un-groomed.

Another “problem” that arose was my aging brain started suffering memory lapses.  When I only had 10 or 15 special rocks, it was easy to remember where they were from.   When the numbers grew, identification began to get more haphazard.   One way I dealt with this was to take a portrait of each special rock as it came on the place, along with an identifying label.

Please don’t even ask me about the keyword project for the photos on the computer.   Finding the portraits of the special rocks is an exercise in determined scanning through the thousands of images I have.   I’m going to get to work on that keyword thing right away, just as soon as I finish scanning the 29,000+ slides my father took that I am supposed to be cataloguing.   All of a sudden, I am so tired I can’t even contemplate doing anything.   I think I will go sit on the couch and mutter for a while.

Okay, back to the subject at hand.  For several years I have been contemplating a change, hoping to figure out a way to keep the weeds from growing up amidst the rocks.   Consultation with the spouse resulted in a decision to completely revamp the inner circle.   I have removed all the rocks, assiduously identifying and labelling every single one of them, except for the complete mysteries which I have NO IDEA where they came from or who gave them to me.   Actually, there are quite a few of those, but not as many as you might think.  Next, I am digging a trench around the circle, which the spouse and our young laborer are going to fill with concrete.   Then I will replace the special rocks on the new concrete pad and then they will remain visible.

So, here is the project in mid-turmoil.   Notice all the little paper labels.

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The trench is 1/6 dug, and I really ought to be out working on that rather than sitting here at the computer.

However, I have a couple of little stories about the cataloguing that I have to tell.   I found the group of rocks that my SIL collected during her choir tour.   Luckily I had actually made portraits of them so I was able to tell Finland from Sweden from Russia.   There was a big mystery about what happened to Estonia, but it turned up over on the East rock later on.   I think it was one that got flung by the dog or a rabbit and when it was discovered out of place on the path while someone was mowing it got placed willy nilly on the circle.   I was glad to see it.

Another rock that disappeared was the cool pebble from Cape Town, which arrived with a fossilized kelp hold fast attached to it.   This weathered loose, so I blithely laid it back on the rock and put the rock on the circle.   During the course of this project, when I found the Cape Town rock’s companion, which came from Victoria Falls, I immediately wondered where the Cape Town rock was, as it was perched where I expected to find it.   I excavated through the weeds and grass, and did not find it.   Very disappointed, I finally gave up on it.  But when I was engaged in removing the base rocks, Cape Town turned up and … SO DID THE HOLD FAST FOSSIL.   Amazing.   Before I replace it on the circle I intend to use some sort of industrial glue to reattach the hold fast.

The third small rock missing in action was the River God’s ear stone.

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Ha!   It also turned up, in the middle of the path a few feet away from it’s proper location, upside down.   I found it when I was raking away the pile of hay that resulted from the scalping the grass got after all the rocks had been moved.

And so, all rocks are present and accounted for.   Now all I have to do is finish the trench.   And before I put the rocks back I am taking a portrait of each and every one of them, with their labels, and I will be printing this out for a notebook, which will include the information about who brought me the rock and where it is located on the inner circle.   Just in case something happens to me and the next proprietor of the labyrinth wants to know.

Man.   I need to get to work.

 

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I hardly know where to start with this post.

I am now certified as having satisfactorily completed my continuing education project.   That involved the commitment of a couple of grand to pay for the class in Neuromuscular Reprogramming that I just finished at the beginning of May.  It also required me to travel to California for a weekend each month for four months.   It was grueling, and gave me a new respect for the business Road Warriors who travel all the time.   Very few of my flights occurred without delays of some sort.

The class was well worth my time.   Neuromuscular Reprogramming is a technique of body work that achieves absolutely amazing results.   I am exultant and my clients are very pleased.   One of the side effects has been a huge increase in my business.   There isn’t a day of the week that I don’t have at least four massages scheduled.   Pretty good for the bottom line.

The side effect of that is that Jim has decided to retire from the work force as of June 28.   He won’t be able to start collecting Social Security until September, but that simply does not matter due to the increase in my income.   He will thoroughly enjoy being home for the summer and able to do his own projects.

One of those projects will be installing our new solar panels, which arrived this week.   I can hardly wait for them to be on line and watch the electric bill shrink to nothing while our carbon footprint diminishes as well.

The flower gardens are quite beautiful right now.   This is a view of the path in the Hosta Dell.   Don’t look too closely or you might notice all the weeds that took the opportunity to ensconce themselves while I was running back and forth to California.

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Of course, the vegetable garden has been a big project. We’ve been eating wonderful salads out of it for over a month, and it recently presented us with over 6 pounds of snow peas, which we blanched this morning and have in the freezer. I also picked a pile of spinach, which is already in the freezer.

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There is a sink full of broccoli raab that needs to be dealt with.  I will get around to that this afternoon, after I plant the veronica and the pink iris that one of my friends brought be yesterday.

So by now I’m sure you are wondering why I would title this “Labyrinth News.”

Simply this.   Back in November a most delightful woman named Twylla Alexander paid me and my labyrinth a visit.  She blogged about it here.  Her vision was to visit a personal labyrinth constructed by a woman in each of the fifty states.   I think she only has two states left to visit!   That is quite the journey, and during the course of it she has connected the owners of all the labyrinths she visited via email.

Now we are all agog over the near completion of her project, and hoping that we will be able to have a little cyber party to celebrate her accomplishment.   Well, and ours, of course!   And so, I make this post and I am hoping that it is possible for folks to upload pictures into the comments section.   I invite someone to attempt to do this.  If it works, then I will make a dedicated “Labyrinth Party Post” for us all to use.

Watch this space….

 

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