Forgive Me God – There Will Be Potholes In My Legacy

As we unravel the fabric of our personal story, we are left with a mixed bag. This is the time for a spiritual guy like me to come clean – to make amends for unruly behavior. The urgency to make things right stems from an aging process that leaves me feeling vulnerable when I look at the landscape of my life. I need closure from the times in my life when I “missed the mark.”

My children have heard my “sordid” stories because I used them as teachable moments for behaviors to avoid. I typically tried to provide “real-life” stories about my misdeeds and those of others as a way of promoting character-building qualities. This concept failed quite miserably, because my kids followed in my footsteps anyway.

When I was a young teenager, my parents departed for a business trip. I was left behind in the care of my older brother. Like most teenagers, I yearned for the day that I would turn sixteen so that I could move through the rite-of-passage of getting behind the wheel of an automobile. For me, that day didn’t come fast enough and those keys hanging near the front door presented a serious temptation. Without considering consequences (a typical problem for kids), I took off on a joy ride with my friend Chrissie. I was feeling very adult-like until we cruised through a neighboring town as a police officer was traveling toward me in the opposite direction. Chrissie spotted the cop and freaked out. I responded by over-turning onto a side street and nearly ending up in the front yard of a nearby house.

The officer spotted my brilliant move and pulled me over. After asking me the question I didn’t want to hear, “Son, can I see your license?” we were escorted to the local police station. My brother came to the station where we were released into his custody. “Wait until Mom and Dad get home,” Rick kept repeating. I wanted to hide under a rock and stay there indefinitely. I wrote a long “how could I have done this” letter prior to my parents return. I even included various punishment options within the letter’s body. When my parents returned home they received the news from my brother. Although they were not as angry as I expected, they indicated that I was to appear in court to respond to my behavior. I remember that fateful day when my father and I made our way to the county courthouse where I was vigorously lectured by the judge and then released to my father because I said that I would never to stupid tricks again.

Chrissie was a chatter-box, so the news of our adventure permeated the halls of our high school. We instantly became risk-taking, law-breaking heroes. It is interesting how teenagers can reframe things and make behaviors appear so awesome, even back in the days of my youth. I still have my high school yearbook which is full of quips about the “adventure,” “the ride,” and the good-natured teasing about my anti-social behavior.

That same school year, I took Latin because my parents thought it would help me with all those long medical terms. For some inexplicable reason, my Latin class was inhabited by all the “jocks” from every imaginable sport (no girls allowed). Things were complicated by the fact that the teacher was a first year rookie who was also the head cross-country coach. Mr. P. was known by many in the class for his coaching skills. No classroom introductions were necessary. The class period was split due to a lunch period which was squeezed into the middle of Latin.

The split-class option with lunch posed various sneaky “boys will be boys” possibilities. We brought red Jell-O back from lunch and conveniently placed it on page thirty two of Tony P.’s Latin book. I think this translation page was about Caesar’s Gallic wars. I remember Mr. P. retorting in his nasal tone, “Boys, your not being very funny at all.” On another occasion, we tortured our poor teacher by taking the onions out of our hamburgers and putting them in the radiator of the classroom before he arrived. Then we waited… As the aroma permeated the air, Mr. P. responded with, “Boys, I don’t think that was a very wise thing to do.” In spite of our antics, we actually formed a very positive relationship with Mr. P.

In the mid 1990’s, more than thirty years after the fact, I learned how potent a legacy I had left behind. At that time, I worked as Director of Guidance and Counseling for a midwestern high school. I was charged with the responsibility of helping formulate a new comprehensive guidance plan for our school. In order to accomplish the task, a colleague and I visited various exemplary school models throughout the state – one of them which happened to be my old alma mater. As I visited my school as an alumni, memories of my past began to envelope me. When we entered the counseling department office, we were greeted by retired counselors who were volunteering as part of their retirement package. When I mentioned my name and that I had attended the school decades ago, the gentleman laughed. The counselor replied, “We have heard of you and your antics along with some of your classmate’s behavior.” “Throughout the years, your story has repeatedly been mentioned by alumni and the Latin teacher.” I said, “This is quite amazing. “Is Tony still teaching here?” “He certainly is and you will find him in the teacher’s lounge.” the volunteer remarked.

As I entered the teacher’s lounge with my co-worker, I immediately sat down to have lunch. After we ate, I looked around the room to find Tony. I asked a teacher where he was sitting and as I moved toward his table I noticed the older version of my teacher. I introduced myself, but it was unnecessary. Tony grasped my arms and immediately began laughing. It was his last year of teaching and we sat at that table and he reminisced with his colleagues about a story that has touched so many lives.

Forgive me God – there will be potholes in my legacy! All of my memories constitute the nature of who I am. They remind me of my humanity and the ways in which I touched the lives of others for better or worse. I have one story. I don’t have the choice to take parts back. I just hope that in the end that I am appreciated for the sum total of all its parts.

Low Maintenance Organic Landscaping Using Blueberry Plants

Introduction
You have always wanted a great looking landscape to brighten the yard. But who has time to spend every free minute caring for the yard? With some planning and a little know how it is easy to cut down on the drudgery of yard work. Having an easy care landscape means you must develop a realistic plan. Trees and shrubs give substance to a landscape and flowers provide excitement and surprise. You can enjoy the fruits of near effortless edibles including blueberries and strawberries. Blueberries are a low maintenance plant. They have few pest and are native to North America. They require a soil pH of 4.6 to 5.1.

Take a look at your landscape
Knowing the physical characteristics of your site, the soil, climate, topography, and exposure is a vital part creating and maintaining a low maintenance landscape. Choose well adapted plants to design a functional, attractive layout for your yard.

Some factors like climate you have no control over and it affects your whole yard. Other factors you have some control over, Like the amount of shade which can differ widely in different parts of the yard. Growing plants can be a breeze if you have deep, fertile soil rich in organic matter. But even if you don’t (very few of us do) you can still have a productive low maintenance yard. You can decide to improve your soil by adding organic matter or using raised beds and adjusting the soil pH if needed. You can also look for plants that are adapted to your soils existing conditions. Raised beds can provide ideal growing conditions for a variety of vegetables, bushes, and flowers. Where the soil has poor drainage raised beds can solve that problem.

Test your soil. Your local extension service can provide a test for a sample you supply. Test results will tell you the soils fertility, pH, and organic matter content. Getting your soil in shape before planting will go a long way toward promoting healthy, trouble-free plants in the future.

Reduce maintenance on tough to mow slopes by replacing turf with a mixture of low care flowers and shrubs such as low growing easy maintenance blueberry bushes and using a mowing strip. For example, North Country blueberry plants grows 18 to 24 inches tall or North blue blueberry plants that grows to a height of 20-30 inches could be good selections.

Lawns
Reduce mowing chores by replacing some of the lawn with shrubs, trees or ground cover. Eliminate grass growing under or along fences and walls and low branching trees. The kind of grass you grow has a lot to do with how much maintenance it requires. There are grasses that do not grow tall and thus require minimal mowing.

For example, No mow grass ultra low maintenance grass. Eliminate hours of lawn mowing and lawn maintenance each month with Pearl’s Premium grass. Pearl’s Premium grows slowly above ground. Below ground, it can put down 12″ roots, tapping into naturally occurring moisture and nutrients. This type of grass will reduce watering requirements and a lot of mowing. Mow only when it needs it not on a regular weekly or bi-weekly schedule.

End edging forever- For the busy person trees, shrubs and flower beds can quickly turn into a night mare. The shaggy edges that form between planting and the lawn area can give any area an unkempt look and be a real pain to trim. Mowing strips are the solution. A mowing strip is a flat band of brick or flat rock that sits flush with the soil surface and you just mow over the area eliminating the need for the hand or string trimmers to cut the grass at the edge of the of the bed. You just let one wheel ride on the strip and the other on the lawn.

Ground cover
Utilizing ground cover can help to change a bare or dull part of your yard into a beautiful, low maintenance show area. Low growing ground cover plants can serve you well in some areas. For example in our yard we had a rock area that we could not mow and looked ugly. We let low growing ground cover plants grow over this area to transform it into a beautiful area that required essentially no care. You might consider RUBY CARPET a ground cover blueberry plant. The height of the ruby Carpet plants grow to be 4 to 6 inches at maturity and spread outward to create the Red Carpet. Ruby Carpet is selected for form, color and resistance to dryer soil conditions than most blueberry plants.

Blueberries make a beautiful delicious Landscape
When planting blueberries as part of your landscape you should consider combining them with other plants that thrive in acid soil such as azaleas, rhododendrons and camellias. The following are some example of plants you can consider.

Legacy blueberry plants grows 4 to 5 feet tall and can create 4 seasons of interest in your landscape. Spring brings white flowers that develop into shiny green fruit which turn bright blue in the summer. Smooth, glossy-green leaves look attractive all spring & summer in the fall they produce beautiful orange-red leaves.
Sunshine blue is a short plant that is very suitable for growing in a landscape or in containers.
Ornablue grows about 3 feet tall and is considered to be the best ornamental of its size and stature.
North Country grows 18 to 24 inches tall and is an outstanding blueberry plant for landscapes and container growing.
North blue, grows to a height of 20-30 inches. It is good for landscapes and container growing. It’s large glossy, dark green leaves turn dark red in the fall making it of good ornamental value.
Patriot grows 3 to 5 feet tall and is also an excellent container and landscape variety. It is also a very good producer of fruit.
For tall hedges you want to use for privacy use the faster growing, upright varieties such as Jersey, or Ozark Blue. To make solid hedges or screens, place plants 2½ to 3′ apart.
Rabbiteyes grow tall so they can make excellent plants for areas you want to screen off for privacy. Tifblue is considered among best rabbiteyes.
Blueberry plants grow slowly, and grow about a half-foot a year on mature branches. The plants are multi-stemmed with new shoots often developing from the base.

Eatable landscaping
Recently edible landscaping has received more attention. Part of the reason is because of the well documented health benefits and another is because of the economics of growing your own fruit and vegetables. Raised beds can provide an excellent controllable space to grow blueberry bushes and vegetables. Anyone who has eaten really fresh produce knows a food-producing garden is worth the effort. It is surprising that it hasn’t caught on earlier. It’s such a brilliant way of taking advantage of the little bit of land that many of us have but usually use strictly for ornamentals. Blueberries make a beautiful delicious Landscape. Blueberry plants can serve as ornamentals while also being grown as a food source.

Border plantings and along Walkways
You can plant shrubs along the borders of your property that can serve several purposes. Serve for privacy, eliminate grass growing under or along fences and the related mowing problems, serve as perimeter border to define your property boundaries while at the same time beautifying you landscape. If you use eatable bushes such as blueberry bushes you are can grow blueberries for your health and enjoyment. Ornablue blueberry plant can serve this purpose well and is considered to be the best ornamental varieties of its size and stature.

Border plantings along walkways or surrounding a planting bed can work well, choose Sunshineblue, Ornablue or Northcountry. These can be planted along with dwarf rhododendrons or compact azaleas. All three of these blueberry bushes will grow well in Kentucky. Ornablue is considered to be the best ornamental variety of its size and stature. Northcountry will grow well all the way up to growing zone 3. The Sunshine blue blueberries we planted on our properties in Kentucky and Tennessee have turned out to be pretty much evergreen bushes the year around. Rhododendrons and azaleas can be planted along with blueberry plants to blend into borders or serve as a prickly hedge.

Choosing Blueberry Plants to grow
Purchase your plants state-inspected reliable nursery. Bare root plants are usually sold by most nurseries unless you pick the plants up at the nursery. you obtain plants to be planted in the spring or fall. What is important is to plant them when they’re dormant, either well before or well after they start new growth of leaves, blossoms and berries.

Usually two-year-old potted or bare-root plants are sold by nurseries and are your best purchase. Older plants may give you a harvest sooner, but they are generally not cost-effective because of their added expense and can be harder to establish. Younger plants need to be grown under nursery conditions before they can be planted in the field.

From Fields to Flats, The Changing Landscape of Sound Investment

Celtic Wisdom: A Captivating Spiritual Legacy

The lyric melody of celtic music is captivating to the senses. At the very least, it can lift our spirits and lighten our hearts. At best, it can assist us in transcending our limitations and connecting with a higher consciousness. Music in general has the singular power to bring about an immediate attitude adjustment. For that reason, music is sacred in all spiritual traditions. Constant chatter gives way to interior reflection as the music plays. There is a spiritual component to celtic music that mirrors the essence of celtic wisdom. As music attracts and transforms us, the celtic experience of nature with fully attentive senses is also considered spiritually sacred.

To walk the hills and valleys of the earthly landscape, mindfully, is a spiritual act. In our own lives, an appreciation of the world outside the walls of our home or office offers us an opportunity to reconnect to something that is more beautiful and glorious than our usual, limited perspective of the world.

The complexity of modern life and perhaps the lure of materialism all contribute to the estrangement we often feel from our spiritual selves. We look outside of ourselves for answers or solutions and rarely consider entering the silence within.

Interior meditation is a practice embraced by several spiritual traditions and it requires that we turn away from our hectic pace to give it a try. Start by endeavoring to awaken your awareness through the simple act of stepping outside. Can you remember a moment in time when the beauty of the world took your breath away? Was it a snow-capped mountain, a sunset masterpiece or an animal in the wild? Recall how you felt during this awe-inspiring encounter.

If anything, a true perspective on life was restored and we remembered that life is a precious gift. Treat yourself to a walk very soon. Focus on whatever it is that catches your attention. Try not to think, instead quiet your mind and engage in appreciation. You may be surprised at what you learn.

The world can be a very alienating place; we need a sanctuary where we can restore our souls. For matters of personal responsibility, we need to be out in the world yet, it is equally important to step off the beaten path, still the coursing thoughts in our mind and reflect on spiritual truth.

Celtic tradition points to the connectedness of life. Not only do we affect each other through our thoughts and actions, but we affect the living earth. We all have something to offer, this is our birth right. As we look up at the stars, listen to the waves as they crash ashore and feel the sand underneath us, we are active participants in this connectedness.

We can learn from spoken truth as readily as we gain knowledge from the miracle of a seed sprouting into visible life. The old Irish saying: “isn’t the hand of a stranger, the hand of God?”; supports this notion of connectedness. Therein lies our true destiny. In this life, it is incumbent upon us to nurture our own soul growth, be of service to others and leave the little patch of earth we call home better than we found it.

However, if we are trudging along through life and ignoring the promptings of our soul, how authentic is our path? Working towards harmony within ourselves and with each other, as we acknowledge that we are part of something much larger, is the road to inner peace, and it is within our grasp. We are personally responsible for our own happiness in this life. We possess all that we need to achieve our dreams, survive day-to-day and live life to the fullest. We began to connect with this power the moment we decide to journey within our own interior silence.

We may be unable to singlehandedly end violence, pollution and discord, but we can clean up our own act. Celtic tradition tells us that ancient wisdom already exists within us. One does not have to come from a line of celts to possess this wisdom; it’s available to all.

The celtic way is but one of the paths to follow. For those of you with celtic lineage, this path may speak truth to you on a very deep level. A famous Irish Saint, St. Brigid, was known for her love for the land. By entering a sanctuary, be it outside or in the next room, we are able to examine our life, transcend our limitations and tap into that ancient wisdom within.

Dedicate this day to a new beginning in your life. Consider it an opportunity to implement a change. What self-imposed or self-imagined limitation do you wish to transcend? Build upon your self-improvement by remaining fully engaged with truth, reality and what it is you must work through to arrive at a better place. Remember, that which is worthwhile and valuable in life is not given to us – we must do the footwork and put in the time to advance ourselves on the path.

It is through the presence of balance in our life that we experience harmony. Listen to the complaints that you might speak only to yourself throughout the day; herein lie the clues to the possible extremes that keep you off balance. Clarify to yourself, what it is that constitutes your personal truth. What feels authentic? What feels strained? What would you change if you could? Contemplate your unfulfilled desires. What is holding you back? Procrastination? Time? Money? Cast aside these concepts of lack and limitation and begin, simply begin.

Release the need to be validated by the world. Step out into the open air, breathe deeply and chart your own course. Refuse to be constrained by rigid opinions; be they your own or those belonging to others.

Dare to walk in the direction of your dream as impossible as it may appear from the perspective of your present circumstances. You are not alone. Your life is connected to all there is or ever was. The path of celtic spirituality is best initiated outside, in view of the sunrise, while the leaves still cradle morning dew, like precious jewels. Begin your personal journey in touch with the beauty God has created and take it with you as you start your day.