What Careful Soil Testing Revealed About My Level of Patience

Soil testing in my garden accurately measured the level of my patience.

Listen to me read this post:

Dave tested his soil and found out that it was very low in phosphorous. He went to a seed plant, bought some, and added phosphorous to his garden. Now his potato plants are three feet tall.

“Do you want to borrow my kit?” he asked and so I did. I went out to the garden and dug down about four inches into what I considered to be the most depleted soil in the garden plot. I brought a trowel full of soil into the house to dry overnight.

The next morning and according to instructions, I mixed one part of the soil with five parts of water, swirled the mixture gently in a jar, and waited for the dirt and water to separate out a bit so that I could retrieve a small, fairly clear sample.

Dave’s phosphorous-filled garden soil produced beautiful vegetables.

The instructions included with the kit said that this separation could take as little as half-an-hour (Perfect!) or as long twenty four hours. “Twenty four hours!” I cried out in disbelief and felt the impatience start to gnaw. The next morning the soil still hadn’t settled to the bottom of the jar and the water was murky as heck. Still, I took a sample using the eyedropper provided and filled the plastic tube to the fourth line with the muddy water.

I was testing for phosphorous first hoping this might get me three feet tall potato plants like Dave’s.

Carefully separate the two halves of one of the capsules. Pour the powder into the tube.

Step 2 of the phosphorous test sounded pretty easy. I retrieved a conveniently coloured-coded blue capsule, grabbed each end and gave it a gentle twist. This caused a bend in the plastic, but the capsule didn’t open. Next I tried to snap the capsule in half at the spot where the two halves had been originally joined. Again, the capsule bent but didn’t open.

Finally, I took out a cutting board, placed the mangled blue capsule on it, and started stabbing at it with the pointy end of a sharp kitchen knife. This made a hole large enough for me to expand the opening by twisting the knife blade farther into it. By now, the only thing about the misshapen capsule that resembled its former self was its colour.

I held the capsule over the tube which held the water sample, turned it over, and spilled most of the powder on the kitchen counter. I muttered a phrase of which my mother would not have approved and spooned as much of the powder as I could off the counter and, bit by bit, into the tube.

After placing the colour-coded cap on the tube, I gave it a gentle shake, and placed the tube in its holder. Almost immediately this experiment determined two things:

  1. Our garden soil contains almost no phosphorus.
  2. My husband is in charge of opening any remaining capsules needed for testing.

Following this single test, we went away for a week. I put the jar containing the dirt and water mixture in the fridge hoping that the soil would settle and the water would rise while we were gone. When we returned home I flung open the fridge door to see my jar of test water as muddy as before. Impatience visited again. “It’s been a week!”

Still, I thought I might as well use the sample to try another test. I filled one more tube with murky water and asked my husband kindly to open an appropriately colour-coded capsule.

Cap the tube and shake thoroughly.

I got a bit dizzy but the motion really relaxed my muscles. Then I realized that the instruction’s author was referring to the tube. Shake the tube thoroughly. After I regained my balance, I did.

Allow colour to develop for 10 minutes.

Ten minutes. That sounds about right. I set the timer on the stove and counted down. When the timer went off, the water had not changed colour.

“I bet the cold fridge killed whatever was supposed to show up in this test!” I proclaimed with no science to back my theory. Science doesn’t matter these days. No one with a different education knows more than me. What matters is what I believe in my gut and I believed that the soil sample was ruined. I’d have to gather a new sample and wait twenty four hours before doing anymore testing.

And so I tossed the soil and water mixture into the garden with disgust and rinsed out the jar. Then I saw that the liquid in the tube had turned green. Soil testing proved that our soil is full of alkali and I am full of, among other things, impatience.

Speaking of patience…

I received a note in my mailbox recently to inform me of an upcoming inconvenience. The brief notice closed with this:

Thank you for your patients!

Editors always notice things like this. Mostly I think it’s funny but I don’t laugh too long because it’s also humbling. I’ve made my fair share of mistakes when writing and I plan to continue.

This topic reminds me of my second year of university during which I did not give a hoot about academics. Obviously. One morning, I wandered into my English class to see that the professor had scrawled across the whiteboard a very embarrassing phrase I’d misused in my most recent essay. Mercifully, she didn’t reveal the identity of the student who produced that phrase which, in turn, produced a lot of laughter.

Partly because of this experience, I laugh shortly and correct gently.

If you’re writing something, a piece as short as a newsletter or a project as long as a memoir, I can help. I work as both a content writer and as an editor.

Thanks for reading. Take care and keep safe. ~ Lori

It’s My Own Damn Fault

HealEmotionalPainThe sweet taste of blame

Following a relationship-dissolution in my mid-twenties, I decided to participate in a few counselling sessions to help me deal with my grief and shame. The kind counsellor wanted to start by talking about my childhood. Together, we remembered things I’d forgotten or hadn’t considered to be that momentous. Until those sessions my childhood was just what it was. I never thought that my upbringing was anything but normal. Of course, I understand now that no one has a typical childhood. Everyone’s is different.

Listen to me read this post:

At the time, though, it was very sweet to look back on how my parents had “wronged” me and hurt me. I’m not sure the counsellor intended this, but I left each session thinking, “This situation and pain isn’t my fault! If it weren’t for my parents, I wouldn’t be in this mess right now!” My declaration was partly true in that if it weren’t for my parents, I wouldn’t be anywhere right now.

152115 (2)
My mom, Sylvia, on her wedding day at nineteen.

Back then I really enjoyed being given permission to criticize the upbringing my parents provided. I hadn’t really gone there before and I liked the ride. It was exhilarating until the blame slowly formed into a hot ball of anger that sat burning in my stomach. Then I knew I’d ingested too much delicious blame.

The rule of 35

Occasionally I hear people talk about how they were mistreated as kids by their parents. I have no doubt that their stories are true and their pain is real. I also believe this kind of thinking sprinkles salt into wounds that should be allowed to heal.

Is there a cure for some of these old hurts? The good old hard work of forgiveness is the best remedy, but it’s not quick and needs to be done repeatedly. One injection of forgiveness is often not enough. We have to keep getting booster shots to keep our hearts open.

Mom Dad Me 1969
Mom, Dad, and me in 1969. Don’t I look delightful?

A remedy I developed for myself is the rule of 35. Here’s how it works: If we’re 35 years old or more, we have to stop blaming our parents. We’ve had time to do the necessary repair work and we’ve had time to move on. Any dumb decisions we make at or after 35 are completely and wholly down to us.

Mom and Me
Mom and I at the hospital. Mom was twenty-one.

And if you’re a parent (disclaimer: I’m not) and your kids are over 35, you can’t take responsibility for their failures or their successes. It’s been too long since you raised them and too many other factors have steered their life’s course. Your past actions and influence are pretty watered-down by now. You did your best. You’ve grown and your children have grown, too. We can remember them, but the people in those old family photos don’t exist anymore.

Uncertain and impossibly young

Speaking of old family photos, I recently saw some photos of my parents as newlyweds. That handsome couple looked impossibly young and very uncertain. Indeed, they were young in those black-and-white pictures, nineteen and twenty-one.

The past is an open cage out of which we can walk anytime. ~ Ajahn Brahm

Seeing my parents so young and so obviously trying to please their own parents, I realized they didn’t have all the answers. Heck, they didn’t know anything. I know this because at nineteen, I didn’t know anything. How can I blame these kids for doing what they thought was best or, at worst, doing the only thing they knew how to do?

Richard and dog photo
My dad and his dog.

My parents brought to their marriage and child-rearing their own pasts and their own pain. It’s up to me, though, as an adult to not continue the legacy. The fault-finding ends here.

 It’s my own damn fault

 I love Jimmy Buffett’s 1977 hit ”Margaritaville” in which the narrator finally takes responsibility for all the decisions he’s made that have ended him up where he is now. There’s optimism in this happy-sounding but ultimately sad song.

The lyrics outline a healthy progression from apathy to self-acceptance in three steps.

Some people claim that there’s a woman to blame:

  1. But I know it’s nobody’s fault.
  2. Now I think, hell, it could be my fault.
  3. Now I know it’s my own damn fault.

Sure, the song’s main character is still at the bottom of a well, but it seems the cover is off and he can see the light of day. I think he might just climb out yet with responsibility and acceptance forming the rope ladder.

Lost Shaker

Yes, it feels terrible to admit to ourselves that we’ve made poor decisions and behaved badly. No one enjoys it but if you’re alive, you’ve probably made a choice or two you’d like to go back and change.

I heard a Buddhist teacher on YouTube say something like this: The past is an open cage out of which we can walk anytime. I don’t know about you, but depending on the day, I need to walk out of that cage several times between sunup and sundown.

Our freedom lies in shouldering responsibility, picking it up and saying, “Yes, this is mine. It doesn’t belong to anyone else.” The chains fall off when we accept, not dodge, the fact of our mistakes.

Our personal history only holds as much importance as we imbue it with. If we think our past hurts control our lives, then we’re stuck. If we can instead think, “Yes, that’s a part of me but it’s a small part and it doesn’t matter that much anymore,” the cage door of the past swings open and we’re free to walk out.

 

It’s My Own Damn Fault

HealEmotionalPainThe sweet taste of blame

Following a relationship-dissolution in my mid-twenties, I decided to participate in a few counselling sessions to help me deal with my grief and shame. The kind counsellor wanted to start by talking about my childhood. Together, we remembered things I’d forgotten or hadn’t considered to be that momentous. Until those sessions my childhood was just what it was. I never thought that my upbringing was anything but normal. Of course, I understand now that no one has a typical childhood. Everyone’s is different.

Listen to me read this post:

At the time, though, it was very sweet to look back on how my parents had “wronged” me and hurt me. I’m not sure the counsellor intended this, but I left each session thinking, “This situation and pain isn’t my fault! If it weren’t for my parents, I wouldn’t be in this mess right now!” My declaration was partly true in that if it weren’t for my parents, I wouldn’t be anywhere right now.

152115 (2)
My mom, Sylvia, on her wedding day at nineteen.

Back then I really enjoyed being given permission to criticize the upbringing my parents provided. I hadn’t really gone there before and I liked the ride. It was exhilarating until the blame slowly formed into a hot ball of anger that sat burning in my stomach. Then I knew I’d ingested too much delicious blame.

The rule of 35

Occasionally I hear people talk about how they were mistreated as kids by their parents. I have no doubt that their stories are true and their pain is real. I also believe this kind of thinking sprinkles salt into wounds that should be allowed to heal.

Is there a cure for some of these old hurts? The good old hard work of forgiveness is the best remedy, but it’s not quick and needs to be done repeatedly. One injection of forgiveness is often not enough. We have to keep getting booster shots to keep our hearts open.

Mom Dad Me 1969
Mom, Dad, and me in 1969. Don’t I look delightful?

A remedy I developed for myself is the rule of 35. Here’s how it works: If we’re 35 years old or more, we have to stop blaming our parents. We’ve had time to do the necessary repair work and we’ve had time to move on. Any dumb decisions we make at or after 35 are completely and wholly down to us.

Mom and Me
Mom and I at the hospital. Mom was twenty-one.

And if you’re a parent (disclaimer: I’m not) and your kids are over 35, you can’t take responsibility for their failures or their successes. It’s been too long since you raised them and too many other factors have steered their life’s course. Your past actions and influence are pretty watered-down by now. You did your best. You’ve grown and your children have grown, too. We can remember them, but the people in those old family photos don’t exist anymore.

Uncertain and impossibly young

Speaking of old family photos, I recently saw some photos of my parents as newlyweds. That handsome couple looked impossibly young and very uncertain. Indeed, they were young in those black-and-white pictures, nineteen and twenty-one.

The past is an open cage out of which we can walk anytime. ~ Ajahn Brahm

Seeing my parents so young and so obviously trying to please their own parents, I realized they didn’t have all the answers. Heck, they didn’t know anything. I know this because at nineteen, I didn’t know anything. How can I blame these kids for doing what they thought was best or, at worst, doing the only thing they knew how to do?

Richard and dog photo
My dad and his dog.

My parents brought to their marriage and child-rearing their own pasts and their own pain. It’s up to me, though, as an adult to not continue the legacy. The fault-finding ends here.

 It’s my own damn fault

 I love Jimmy Buffett’s 1977 hit ”Margaritaville” in which the narrator finally takes responsibility for all the decisions he’s made that have ended him up where he is now. There’s optimism in this happy-sounding but ultimately sad song.

The lyrics outline a healthy progression from apathy to self-acceptance in three steps.

Some people claim that there’s a woman to blame:

  1. But I know it’s nobody’s fault.
  2. Now I think, hell, it could be my fault.
  3. Now I know it’s my own damn fault.

Sure, the song’s main character is still at the bottom of a well, but it seems the cover is off and he can see the light of day. I think he might just climb out yet with responsibility and acceptance forming the rope ladder.

Lost Shaker

Yes, it feels terrible to admit to ourselves that we’ve made poor decisions and behaved badly. No one enjoys it but if you’re alive, you’ve probably made a choice or two you’d like to go back and change.

I heard a Buddhist teacher on YouTube say something like this: The past is an open cage out of which we can walk anytime. I don’t know about you, but depending on the day, I need to walk out of that cage several times between sunup and sundown.

Our freedom lies in shouldering responsibility, picking it up and saying, “Yes, this is mine. It doesn’t belong to anyone else.” The chains fall off when we accept, not dodge, the fact of our mistakes.

Our personal history only holds as much importance as we imbue it with. If we think our past hurts control our lives, then we’re stuck. If we can instead think, “Yes, that’s a part of me but it’s a small part and it doesn’t matter that much anymore,” the cage door of the past swings open and we’re free to walk out.