office My desk. Rain clouds. Early evening. A memory.

I don’t know why I was scared to tell anyone, but I was. I thought that maybe, just maybe, if I didn’t talk about it, it would go away.

Well, it didn’t. I was going to have to admit the truth. So one winter afternoon in the middle of a torrential El Niño rainstorm . . .

My sister-in-law just told me my nephew is reading my blog, so I want to send this out to him.

He’s a skier and an all-around outdoorsman who lives with his family in Colorado. Actually, they used to live in Puerto Vallarta in a charming house a few steps from the Bay of Banderas. You know the kind of place . . . tropical breezes and sunset views over the ocean. But hey—-he missed . . .

This beautiful tub was great to sink into after a day like today!

Sweet isn’t it?

My morning had gone something like this:

Dave got up at the crack of dawn and headed to the Bay Area to do his astrophysicist thing, leaving the little woman (moi) . . .

I was pouring over Saveur Magazine, trying to come up with some ideas for Dave’s birthday dinner when I read an article about a meal in Lebanon.

Dave’s family lived in Lebanon for a year, so the title caught my eye. I was moved by the idea of friends told to gather “whether there was a cease-fire or not”, their way guided by votive candles, lighting the blacked-out street and stairwell.

I think of my friends sometimes as those votive candles, lights that guide me through dark moments, and the article made me want to give them the same experience as the author—who turned out to be Carolyn Forche.

In the clear light of day, however, I realized I would need a staff to prepare such a feast. With twenty-nine trees to plant and two huge boxes of bulbs from White Flower Farm sitting on the . . .

In the garden later that evening, I looked up again, thinking how the miners must not be able to get enough of light and sky. I hoped for a long while the mining companies would stop using their workers as disposable machines, that these men would now be afforded light, justice and dignity.

Then I went back to my ordinary tasks—planting the lettuces—but with more gratitude than usual.

. . . rain of the season.

I’d just finished washing up the supper dishes and had settled into the rocker by the window, my favorite chair. Actually, it’s everyone’s favorite chair around here, including the cat Dudley. I picked up my book and wondered for a minute where Dudley was. I chalked his absence up to the weather. He must be out hunting, I thought. It’s been so warm.

Another wise person I find myself turning to right now is Parker Palmer. In a small book Let Your Life Speak (small book/big ideas), he writes about how the Quaker saying “Let your life speak” has guided him. At first he interpreted the saying to mean he should do REALLY IMPORTANT THINGS. Think Martin Luther King or Gandhi. Only later he came to understand that he should actually listen to his own life, not force it to say what he thought it should say, not force his life to serve his ego. This, Palmer says, is the only way to find a true vocation, and vocation, he points out, comes from the same Latin root as voice.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the words what now.What now that I’ve realized my dream of living close to the land and having my own vegetable garden? What now that Dave and I are “empty nesters”? What now do I want to contribute ? What dreams have I set aside that I should resume?

These questions nag at me as I go about my tasks on the ranch—weeding, harvesting, preparing for the fall rush of . . .

Garden ShedIt’s one thing to have a bit of chaos in the garden. It’s grand to find wildflowers and native grasses popping up among your carefully planted scabiosa (a personal favorite) and salvia clevlandii.

It’s another thing to find chaos in your garden shed. Creating order is my specialty and creating order related to gardening is my love.

Years ago, before I was a professional organizer, I worked for a professional flower grower. I laugh today when I think about how I convinced the nationally famous grower to hire me. When she inquired . . .

Perhaps the abundance of eggplants won’t survive the first frost of autumn, but the abundance of eggplant recipes I’ve collected over the summer will.

This beautiful vegetable seems to be a cultural universal. So far, I’ve cooked Indian, Afghan, Palestinian, Greek, Italian and French eggplant recipes. All that remains are the wonderful Asian versions. Anyway . . .