There are days, such as this one, that others think I am far stronger than I am.
Monday, December 21, 2009
There are days, such as this one, that others think I am far stronger than I am.
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Saturday, August 15, 2009
At any rate, I felt sorrow for the oft neglected and much aligned garden outcast, aka zucchini. So, I am here to stand up for "zuke" and shout it's merits to the world! Below is a recipe using this diehard (and yes, it isn't easy to make this plant die, it is quite prolific!) squash. If you do not tell the person eating it that it contains "zuke", they will not know.
The next time you see someone headed your way with this treasure, don't run, don't duck! Hold your hands!
So, go bake this up, let it cool, then sit down with a large piece and a glass of ice-cold milk. Chocolately and moist and cake-like, it is utterly delicious! Before you finish the last bite, you too will be a fan of this step-child of the garden! Stay-tuned for more recipes using zuke! You won't be sooooorry!
I was going to recommend you cover the leftovers after you eat some but at my house they don't last that long! :-)
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup oil
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup Hershey syrup
1/2 cup white sugar (more if you prefer a drier scrub but that makes it harder to use)
Mix and store in a container in the refrigerator, taking some out ahead of time unless you like a COLD scrub. Mark the container "Do Not Eat" or invariably a teen will come along and think it is brownie batter and eat it.
Thursday, August 6, 2009
Monday, July 20, 2009
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
Monday, April 27, 2009
Friday, April 24, 2009
One of the plants I brought back that day was a tree peony (good place to mention that often I type peopy instead of peony but I mean the same thing). I'd been wanting such a plant for my woodland garden area, the sunnier portion, and this one was priced for clearance because the marker had been lost somewhere along the way. The nursery personnel had no clue as to it's color, etc. Not one to pass up a bargain, I bought the just emerging plant and took it home.
Eagerly, I anticipated it's bloom. Each day checking to see if there was a bud. When the bud appeared, checking for evidence of it's color. Have you ever in your haste, picked a bud and tore it apart for a peek at the inside? I resisted. I've done it before and it tells you nothing! So I waited. Patiently. Not something I am very good at, I might add. Just ask my orthopedist. The anticipation was exciting! Somewhat like Christmas, waiting to be surprised by what was in the package underneath the gaily decorated tre. Hoping for that Malibu Barbie, not Skipper. I was hoping for a peony with bright red blooms or some equally exotic color! Please, just don't be white! No plain vanilla! Not bland! Not boring old white!
Surprise! Off all the sorry luck. It was like getting underwear and socks for Christmas.
It unfurled slowly, first a ball, then a cup and finally a saucer. I watched it over a period of days. Surprised each day, at how large it was getting and when I thought the bloom had peaked, it hadn't. It continued to get bigger and bigger. The fragrance is heavenly, unbelievable, intoxicating. The color . . . elegant, lovely, delicate, classy, simply beautiful. Strong, for the 30 mile per hour winds are buffeting it to and fro. As you walk past the area, heading to the back of the house, or are exiting the car, you smell it. This small plant is only about 16 inches tall . . . and the blooms range from 6 to 8 inches across! Bigger than my daddy's hand!
Surprise! I abso-freaking-lutely LOVE this tree peopy! Peony! (Pronounced pee-O-pee)The outcome was not what I expected and frankly, it was not what I had wanted but I LOVE it.
And that surprises me.
I appreciate it for what it is, all the things I mentioned above. If we could do this in our lives with other things, people for example, think how much more content we would be. The tapestry of our lives would be more diverse, rich with experiences and broadend horizons. Think of how much more love and acceptance we would be blessed with. And Peace. That is what I want for my life and that is what it will be.
All because of an unidentified . . . little yet big . . . tree peopy. Surprise!
Monday, April 13, 2009
It was a dark and oh so extraordinarily, still night. The air was thick with humidity, the consistency of grits. If a tree fell in the forest this night, no one would hear as the sound waves would stop dead in their tracks, resisting penetration into the thick, night air. Regardless, STEALTH was still the operative word on this night of:
Not long before this night of adventure, I'd stumbled onto knowledge of a rare and beautiful plant. A plant, without question, I had to possess. It was not enough to gaze at it from afar via a photograph on the internet. After all, are photos ever really enough? Would you not rather enjoy an object of such fascination in the flesh and blood? Or in this case, cellulose and chlorophyll?
And what is that object of my affection, my dear Watsonia? Yes, that's it, it's elementary my dear, Watsonia! Watsonia!
The search began, countless hours and days I scoured the web like a gardener crazed, to no avail. If people grow this, where in tarnation do they obtain it? Well, you can kiss my aster! It came to me like a bolt of lightning out of nowhere! The one person to possess it in this land of plenty? CYNTHIA! Apparently, unbeknownst to the rest of the known world, she had procured it and cornered the horticultural market of this stunningly beautiful plant, placing it in her fine garden of one acre.
Suuuuuuuuuure, Cynthia comes across as friendly enough and generous enough with all of that pesky goatsbeard she tries to divest herself of, offering it to unsuspecting gardeners like myself. But she has a deeper, more sinister agenda with my dear Watsonia: a monopoly for herself.
For all intents and purposes, having Watsonia for myself was seemingly a mission impossible.
After much thought and counting of precious pennies, I determined a trip to South Africa to obtain the beauty (Watsonia, not Cynthia) was out of the question in my current financial straits. The only other alternative? A daring mission to alleviate Cynthia of the treasured flower. Guarding such a rare beauty would consume far too many of her resources and being the friend I am, how can I let her drain herself that way? Unselfishly, I plotted to come to her aid . . .
Later, after consulting adventure guru Harrison Ford, a wise guy, for tips on how to obtain such treasure, I ended up disregarding all of his advice as too dangerous and formulated my own plan. After all, what does he know about taking care of hair and keeping outfits clean while swinging on vines? I would have that plant, come you-know-what (my mama won't let me say that word, after all, I DO have standards) or high water. So I devised my plan and waited until the flower was in bloom so I'd know which plant it is (because she has such a godawful variety of them I had to be sure which one it was I was going to 'borrow' and her garden is large). Maybe I should have consulted a garden coach . . .
The night arrived in full splendor. (Why it was splendous, I have no clue but just wanted to say it). The stars were winking as if they knew my secret, that indeed that night, the flower would be mine! I drove what seemed like forever to her beautiful garden, into the depths of the unknown, somewhat like a holler in Kentucky, falling into nowhere at the ends of the earth. Parking my getaway vehicle behind some trees, I got out and advanced on foot to her garden, lit only by those damn stars that wouldn't refrain from going on and off. Where was the moon when you needed it?! Oh, forgot, I brought a flashlight! One of the solar-powered jobbies, as I am somewhat of a greenie. Funny thing about those, how do they work at night when there is no sun?
So, I went back to the getaway truck (because real women drive trucks) and got a battery-powered ungreen flashlight that actually worked, making mental plans to return the other one for a refund since it didn't work at night as promised.
Flashlight in hand, I advanced AGAIN, towards the prize, being wary of her guard cat, Tootie. I hoped that Tootie would recognize me from my picture on MySpace where I had seen her photo millions of times. She appeared to be mesmerized by the koi swimming gracefully in the pond (I couldn't actually see them in the dark but I did see them on video once and assumed they were still swimming) and let me continue undisturbed. Ever so silently, I worked my way around the garden, sometimes having to take to my hands and knees to crawl through the tangled jungle of unweeded nutsedge she so despises removing (you'd think she loves that stuff the way she grows it) and creeping over hostas. The nutsedge swaying over my head, I slithered along the ground, low on my belly on my reconnaisance mission. It was a fortuitous choice my wearing black that evening even though part of me looks pretty good in white and so I had thought of diguising myself as a moonflower. (The white would have been a laundry faux pas and who KNEW that black spandex and a cape would look THIS good at night?!). The process was made so much easier not having to drag my boot/cast behind me, the ankle healing just in time for me to wear my much-loved stilettos for this mission of retrieval. That darn clunky boot/cast/thingy would never have worked as part of such a stylin' secret mission outfit.
I rounded the pond. WHEW! When was the last time she cleaned the puddle?! I need to get Dan Eskelson down here on the double, Master Pond Scum Scrubber that he is . . . and learn her a thing or two!
Like I said, I rounded the pond and spied something. Something tall, something green (or at least I think it was green, everything looks black at night) and knobby at the top with what might possibly be solid masses of flowers. On target, I crouched down low, moving forward slowly, making sure Tootie the attack cat was still suitably occupied with her tuna casserole. Having satisfied my anxiety, I made a grab for the stem, pulling hard to wrest it from the ground, keeping the rootball intact. For as hard as the stem was and as heavy as the plant was, you'd have thought this was ironweed instead of watsonia! It felt as if it could be made of steel! That bugger must have hundreds of blooms up there for it was incredibly top-heavy, swaying in the night, back and forth and swinging wildly around, almost falling to the ground!! What a magnificent specimen! No matter, I had come this far, I was up for the task! I'd not been lifting weights for nothing! Weeks of preparation would NOT be wasted!
With the gold in my grasp, I made for the getaway truck, raced to open the bed cover, threw the massive plant in, dirt spraying everywhere in my haste before plunking it into a bucket of water!
But, oh no! Mercy me! I had to go back. I couldn't come all this way and not leave Cynthia a note! What would she think of my manners if she found out I'd been in the area and didn't stop? Grabbing a pen and pad of paper delicately decorated with a gardening motif, of course, and dictated a note to myself to leave on her door: "Hey Girly-Girl! Sorry I missed you. Stopped by but apparently you were otherwise occupied for I didn't see you anywhere! Let's have tea sometime. I'll bring lovely hats! Ta ta! Your bff, Garden Chick."
Slipping the note into the space between the screen door and the jamb, I danced an eager jig all the way back to the mission-mobile, anticipation lighting up my countenance as it does each and every time I get a new plant.
Getting behind the wheel, I could not believe my good fortune! To have the Watsonia in my grasp! Okay, in the truck bed. But to FINALLY have it in my possession! Such a monstrous one at that! The mystery of where to obtain it: solved! The mission of retrieving it: accomplished! All right, so a little guilt was niggling at the back of my brain but I knew of her hunger for new plants and I would send her some more of her first horticultural love: nutsedge (Seriously, I think she collects it). Maybe something else different mixed in, liiiiiiike maybe goats beard or 'knock-out' salvia, knowing she'd appreciate it even not knowing why she'd be receiving it.
Smiling all the way home, I mentally envisioned myself planting the new acquisition in my garden. The siting, the planting, the nurturing, the watering, waiting for it to thrive in it's new home. Such visions sustained me and kept me alert the entire way home. My hair was actually a freaky mess full of twigs and oak leaves (doesn't she rake?), my absolutely-to-die-for spandex outfit ruined beyond repair literally falling off my body, dirt smudges caked on my cheeks. Why, I'd not been that tore up since my last night of Shipe hunting!
Waking into the sunshine of a blessed and glorious day, I slowly made my way to the computer with a light, yet nutritous, breakfast of champions, anticipating the installation of my new "find". Excitedly, I decided to share the fact with Cynthia that I'd "found" a Watsonia. After all, she didn't need to know where it came from and she'd be so happy for me, for we'd been discussing the search for so long. She wouldn't even notice it missing from the abundance of plants in that large garden of hers! I knew for a fact that she had three shipments coming from Bluestone Perennials ALONE anyway!
Hitting send after I'd penned the e-mail detailing my discovery, it was only a moment before she messaged back. She must've had caffeine this morning before going to her 9 to 5 to 9 job!
"I am sooooooo happy you were able to come up with a source that enabled you to get a Watsonia! I know how much I love mine and that you, being without one, grieved you to no end and frustrated the buhgeegees out of you. But after you plant it, would you please mind bringing my birdfeeder back?"
Drats! It must’ve been that damn cat, Tootie!
Friday, April 10, 2009
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
A few months ago, I undertook making a list of MY favorite things i.e. the things that make me feel good (and then I don't feeeeel, sooooo baaaaaad!). When I need a pick-me-up, I consult the list as a reminder. On my list are things to see, touch, hear, taste, smell and do. Some I can do wherever I am, some I might need to go to. Some are near, some are far (' a long, long way to ruuuuunnnn!'). Some benefit just me (' a name, I call myself!), some benefit others.
But it is MY list. What would be on yours? I would love to know if you are willing to share : )
Smiling into the eyes of the man I love right before we kiss.
Remembering, literally, the brown paper packages tied up with string my German grandmother sent me as a child.
Remembering time spent with my grandparents. *smiles*
Laughing from the belly.
Baking cookies to give to others. (Hit and run cookie drops!)
Visiting plant nurseries.
My sister's "chicken neck".
Autumn in New Hampshire.
Listening to music of many different kinds.
Eating chewy brownies and spicy spaghetti.
Watching it snow.
Blue Naked with toasted bagels and cream cheese.
BEING naked! Ahhhh, skinny-dipping on a hot, sultry, southern summer night!
The smell of lavender, mint, lemon balm and rose petals.
Mount Washington web site.
Chatting with my sister, Marsha.
Losing tonnage when I've put on a few.
Time with my Vitamin "G's"
Hiking in the mountains.
Giving or getting a wink.
Getting hot, sweaty, filthy and exhausted in the garden, taking a cool shower, lathering up and lotioning down.
Traveling (especially 'Chick Trips').
Calling up friends.
Basking in the sun.
Susie and Linda's laughter.
A new garden magazine.
The Apple Dumpling Gang and Home Alone.
An island in Maine.
Meeting new people.
A spontaneous hug from my boys. Good grades too!
Sitting on top of the Scottsbluff Nat'l Monument in the wind listening to the ages.
Cuddling with the dogs.
My mom's hugs.
My dad's whistling while he works.
A hug from or chat with a teenager.
A walk in the woods of Washington, NH.
Hearing I'm loved.
Being in the pool on a Southern sunny afternoon.
Learning about something new.
A walk in the park and feeding the ducks.
Just laundered sheets.
Getting a massage from Sue.
A fire in a fireplace.
Cooking for anyone who loves to eat (like college kids!)
Sand between my toes.
Volunteering in my community.
Hearing 'no cancer' once a year.
Listening to the mourning doves outside my window in the a.m.
Sunrise and sunset.
Indulging at a Bed and Breakfast.
Fountain diet Cokes from McDonalds (a medium fry and 20 ketchups don't hurt either).
Watching it snow out the window while laying in bed.
Friday, April 3, 2009
Tuesday, March 31, 2009
What was that commercial jingle when I was a kid?
"Curlers in your hair! Shame on you!" Seems to me it was for a Dippity-Do ad or some such thing? Well, it might not be for curlers in your hair, but we usually experience shame at some point in our life. Sometimes it is over important things and sometimes it is over the ridiculous.
The other day, I happened across a 'tweet' referencing "garden shame". Now what is garden shame? Webster's says it is (excerpts):
a: a painful emotion caused by consciousness of guilt, shortcoming, or impropriety
b: a condition of humiliating disgrace or disrepute
c: something that brings censure or reproach
Now, how on earth could anything like that be coupled with the endeavor of gardening or the garden itself?! Yikes! In my humble opinion, if something is growing in the garden, it is a miracle, a thing of beauty in and of itself. I sensed from what I read in this tweet, the garden shame arose from a comparison of garden appearances i.e. my garden doesn't look like Martha Stewart's or P. Allen Smith's garden or maybe even a neighbors. Doesn't that seem an unfair comparison?
As I sit here, I ask myself a few questions: Should I feel shame because my garden does not look like someone else's garden? No! My garden is a reflection of me. Am I to feel shame about myself? No! Am I a work in progress? Yes! Is my garden a work in progress? Yes! Do I have a professional gardener on staff? No! Do I have loads of time to sweep my garden clean of dirt creating an impeccable space? No! Would I, Me, Myself really want to? No! (because as we know, I like being dirty!)
If my garden were perfect, why would I need to learn, try, grow, reorganize, experiment? Where would be the fun? The "growing" experience? It may be an overused and much maligned cliche' but gardening is a journey, not a destination. If your garden becomes "perfect", seriously, you need to start over!
We are not all born to our mothers to know instinctively which plants harmonize in regards to color, texture, growing requirements, etc. nor have we all been able to obtain esteemed degrees in horticulture or design. BUT, we all CAN learn by educating ourselves through various means to become competent, if not proficient, at doing those things! Would you get to interact with other gardeners (hello tweeters!), spend billions of dollars on books, read magazines when we should be working, reorder plants to fill the bare spots made by the plants we killed or spend countless hours learning, sharing, and enjoying? Besides, design and what is pleasing to the eye can be quite subjective, opinions varying from person to person (the only person you HAVE to listen to is the city inspector if you let your grass get too high and then his opinion counts unless you want to be fined). What looks good to me may not appeal to anyone else. I like that Cereus giganteus (saguaro cactus) next to the Louisiana Iris' ! Not really but you get the picture : )
In addition, consider when you began to trod the path towards becoming a gardener. Did you learn from your grandma when you where knee-high to a grasshopper or did you begin late in life? Are you a Jedi Master Gardener with the "Force" being with you or are you more like Larry, Curly and Mo when it comes to natural ability? Janet Carson who has degrees in horticulture and has been doing it all of her adult life is farther ahead in experience and understanding than I am. Although I have "green genes", my DNA didn't make itself known until I was 28 which was 18 years ago and I still come up with hideous plant combos and plants that inexplicably die. I dare you to ask me about "the Chocolate Garden".
So, if you are having problems with garden shame, don't. Do not waste your time, energy and precious brain cells, save it for something that deserves that kind of angst and self-recrimination. Love the garden you have and garden the way you love. Gardening hopefully brings joy, provides helpful therapy and an outlet for expression, not shame. But if you are affected and suffer some shame, it might help to follow a good 12 step program, here I'll get you started:
Step One: I do not really make plants grow, God does. And we know God does not make shameful gardens. Repeat after me: I feel no shame.
Speaking of which, the only garden in which shame was an integral part and understandably so, was one named Eden. And it wasn't because the plants didn't look as good as those in the neighbor's garden (soooo, maybe they didn't have neighbors yet). Who wants to keep up with the Joneses anyway? All it gets you is a bad-ass recession!Just to show you I do not feel shame about my garden even when I am neglectful of it and it doesn't look like the New York Botanical Garden, I posted a photo of my shrub up top. Yep! It is a 'Juniperus 'Andora Compacta' (purple bronze at this time of year). Can you tell? I just happened to not weed the bermuda grass that kept comingu up in it the entire summer and it looks p-r-e-t-t-y nasty! But hey! Life happens and it wasn't a priority at the time but the fact it survived being taken over by the "devil weed" is a miracle! And THAT, my friends, is beautiful! While I am at it? Although I make every attempt to garden as organically as possible, I have another true confession: I use halsulfuron on my nutsedge, prudently, but I do.
And I say . . . I feel no shame!
Your garden is yours. Comparison only creates envy and that kind of green doesn't grow, it only destroys. So enjoy your own garden without abandon and do your best with what you have. It is enough.
And repeat after me . . .
Friday, March 27, 2009
Saturday, March 21, 2009
Friday, March 20, 2009
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
If you'd like to visualize what it would look like, check http://tinyurl.com/d8gajo If you wish, feel free to express an opinion of whether I should consider it, what and where. Doesn't mean it will change my mind, but I'd like to hear your thoughts.
Friday, March 13, 2009
I LIKE to muse.
Take for example, this afternoon.
I was vigorously toweling off from my shower. Always starting with the hair, creating that messy-just-stepped-out-of-the-ocean look, and working down my body, wisking away fine droplets from my moisture drenched tan skin and that's when I noticed IT. A fine blond hair above my belly button , aka navel, but henceforth to be refered to as 'button'. Now, my belly is covered with blond peach fuzz as I would guess most bellies are, (aren't they? please let me know if I've been misinformed) but this piece of peach fuzz obviously had it's own DNA telling it WHAT to do. Because it was not 1/16" long, it was clearly 1/2" inch long. Completely had a mind of it's own! I could not let it stay that way.
Now, you might ask, what is she getting at? Beeeeee patient, I'm getting there, I'm just on the way to my shoes!
So then, back to my musing. I pull out a small pair of manicure scissors and attempt to cut it off to match the rest of it's buddies. And during this artistic act of restoration, I pinch my belly with the finger holes of the scissors. OUCH! What was that? Don't ask me how I did it. Well, when I bent over to see if I'd mortally wounded myself, I saw what appeared the be the round head of Casper the Friendly Ghost!
Huh? You ask? Well, as I bent, my belly button opened up slightly and surprise of all surprises (another blog coming on surprises)! It was white! Gasp! This can't be! (see photo of my normal navel at http://www.pbase.com/gardenchick/image/99927182)
You see, I've been tanning for my upcoming trip to the desert. Noooo, you don't have to be tan to go to the desert! But I want to lay by the pool and not blind my fellow swimmers with my lily-white winter shade of epidermis!
Okay okay. So here is where I start musing: when you are tanning, are you supposed to hold your belly button open?
Now, when I was in college, I had a friend that liked to lay in the sun. Alot. She had it down to a science, a skipping-science-class kind of science, to bask in the sun for long periods of time. Anyway, she was so extraordinarily preoccupied about what would appear white and what would appear brown, that as she reclined on the blanket there in the park, she would spread her fingers and toes so the spaces between would match the rest of her.
Well, now I get it! Because who wants to wear a bikini and have a white navel?!
So, is the answer to spread or not to spread?
Will anyone notice? Will anyone care?! Okay, so maybe no one will probably get close enough to see but I will KNOW! Am I being paranoid? Maybe, but I happen to like my button. In fact, when I had my gall bladder removed (very unglamourous subject), they were going to put an incision above my button. I said NO. That would look positively disastrous! "Go THROUGH the button", I said, which they did :) Well, I suppose this is a nonsensical issue with the other goings on in the world (which worry me too, btw) and one might think it isn't worth musing about.
But . . . I'm going to hold it open anyway, along with my fingers and toes ;) Because unlike the recession, THIS is something I can control.
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
- Eat anything you want like lots of salami, cheese, canned food and cat poop.
- It is okay to spit out your medicine if you don't like the taste.
- Spend as much time as you wish laying around on the sofa, the leather one. Oh, the bed, too.
- Sleep until you get to eat again or until you have to go outside to the bathroom and then do it on the patio of you can't make it to the garden.
- Let everyone else clean up after you.
- Speak your mind to mailmen, UPS drivers, young whippersnapper puppies, squirrels or anyone else who catches your attention.
- Don't let anyone make you take a bath, whine, they will give up. (okay, forget this one, they will give you a bath ANYWAY, don't fight it, it gets over with faster)
- Lick other's ears. Like your sister's. Alot.
- Pass gas when you want, they will just pat your head and say in that baby voice "Isn't that cute?!"
- Look appealing so everyone who walks by has to stop and rub their hands all over you (feel you up).
- Use any and all looks to get whatever you want.
- Drink until it is running out the other end.
- If you don't feel so hot, you don't have to exercise.
- That although someone might be physically gone, the memories never go away.
And most importantly . . .
- Accept love and give love completely, unconditionally, never taking each other for granted for in the blink of an eye the one you love could be gone.
If it is one thing Mikki has done exceptionally well, it has been loving me without conditions, even when I took her for granted.
I am going to spend my time . . . loving. No matter how long I have.
Can "simple" animals teach us humans something valuable? I think they can.
If you had little time left . . . how would you spend it?