Monday, April 27, 2009

A Goldilocks Morning

Yes, it is a Goldilocks morning. The variety of which is usually only found in movies, art, or music. This day, it was apparently my good fortune to be in the middle of such a beautiful and moving composition.

It is early with getting Brawny Boy up and at 'em which is no simple feat in and of itself! While he begins his a.m. ministrations to get his cute carcass presentable for the girls at school, I lay on the sofa in the living room wishing I could be back between the sheets for it was a late night and will be a hectic day.

The windows of the living room are oriented to the rising sun which is quickly on it's way to it's daily zenith. The rays of sunshine stream into the room and over the sofa on which I relax. Liebchen is on her perch at the window, napping in the sun's warmth, waiting for a squirrel to make it's usual early appearance in the front garden looking for leftover acorns. Keira, not be be left out jumps up to join me in my morning appreciation, stretching her long puppy body on mine. At six months, her feet reach my ankles and her muzzle meets my chin. She lays here softly breathing. She likes the feel of her breathing, snuffling, underneath my chin, has done this ever since she was tiny. Her heart beats out it's strong, rhythmic beat against my heart. Since when did she get so heavy?

The windows are open, drawing the air from the front of the house to the back. There is a breeze, it is pleasantly cool and purely refreshing. Sounds of an assortment of birds play the music of nature and they sing of the newness of the day. Joining them in four-part harmony is my cockatiel, Oleo, making sure the world knows "Oleo is a pretty, pretty, pretty bird". Every once in awhile throwing even more "prettys" in there, when he is feeling especially "cocky" : ) He wolf whistles at my 83 year old father like a testosterone befuddled construction worker might whistle at a hot babe on the street. My dad says it's good for his ego and whistles back at Oleo to return the favor.

My eyes are closed in relaxation and wonderment "How is it that I am so lucky to be blessed with such a day as this?". What did I do to deserve this gift? Nothing. I woke up breathing.

For whatever the reason the world continues to spin on it's axis, I will accept it's bestowal of this time. Enjoying it, reveling in it, appreciating it. How I can take such life for granted is a gross act of selfishness. I will immerse myself in it, use it for good and LIVE it. Trying to spread it's joy to those I meet who see not the gem they have been given.

How do you feel about your day? How will you think of it as you move through it's portals? How will you use and enjoy it?

I am blessed you took the time to enjoy my morning with the the sun, the breeze, the birds, Keira, Liebchen, Oleo, my daddy and me.

Namaste. I wish you this day and I wish you well.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Surprise of the Tree Peopy

The day I went to Little Rock for my non-existant hair appointment, it would have been a waste of time and gasoline if I didn't take advantage of the opportunity to visit my favorite plant nursery, River Valley Horticultural Products. YES, the nursery is good enough to drive approximately 225 miles round-trip for even when I don't HAVE a hair appointment. I usually make a day of it with friends eating lunch out, taking the truck for our haul. Having just the car that day, though, limited what I could bring back.

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!

It bloomed.


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

Mission Possible, My Dear Watsonia

It was a dark and stormy night. No, wait. I'll go another night, the wind and rain will mess up my hair.

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:

Mission Possible.

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!

Too sleepy to do anything other than fall into the soft arms of my awaiting bed, I thought like Scarlett, "I'll think about it tomorrow!" After all, it wasn't as if Mauro Media was beating down my door for a photo shoot or anything! (Although one could hope ; ) So, off into the land of slumber I went, drifting away into dreamland on a bed of the soft, red petals of Watsonia.

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!

She wrote:

"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

The Seeds Are Coming! The Seeds Are Coming!

That is my ode to events in American history taking place on April 18-19.
The first of my few seed orders arrived today! If the weather will cooperate and hold until Sunday afternoon, I will proceed with this seed experiment.

It may be a trifle bit difficult but you would undoubtedly be surprised at what one can do while carefully crawling around the garden in kneepads. Think being out on Army maneuvers. To motate from one garden to the next with my supplies, I propel myself around in my garden wagon with my good leg. A process of transportation that works terrific! The garden wagon contains anything and everything I might need in the course of the planting, including my fountain Diet Coke from Micky D's and my iPod. Where there is a will, there's a way and there is nothing driving me like being out in my garden doing something!

Planting may take twice as long but then in my exasperation, I remember, it is about the journey, not the finishing. Although, I would like to complete the my planting before autumn arrives! Any hole digging I will farm out to an able-bodied young man such as Brawny Boy (my son). There are a few remaining plants to move. I'd like to complete such said work before the opening of the pool in May.

Here I go! Stay tuned!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

"Raindrops on Roses . . ." These Are a Few of My Favorite Things

Recently, someone posted a video on FaceBook of a crowd of people overseas in a station breaking into dance and song spontaneously (yeah right, they ALL knew the exact choreography) to a song from the movie 'Sound of Music'. The song was 'Do, Re, Mi'. On occasion, when I hear that piece it naturally leads me to sing "My Favorite Things". The 'Sound of Music' is one of my all-time favorite movies. In fact, the album was the first I ever owned as a child.

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.
Walking on the beach at Cape Cod. ALL of the Cape.
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".
BUYING plants!
Autumn in New Hampshire.
Listening to music of many different kinds.
Eating chewy brownies and spicy spaghetti.
Watching it snow.
Holding babies.
Blue Naked with toasted bagels and cream cheese.
BEING naked! Ahhhh, skinny-dipping on a hot, sultry, southern summer night!
Taking photographs.
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.
Visiting gardens.
Having tea.
Basking in the sun.
Susie and Linda's laughter.
A new garden magazine.
The Apple Dumpling Gang and Home Alone.
Chocolate everything.
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.
Visiting history.
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).
Doing yoga.
Watching it snow out the window while laying in bed.
Early nights and lazy mornings.
Living in Colorado.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Seeds of Change

Seeds: another sign of change in my life. I've never ordered so many seeds in my life, not even if you were to add together all the seeds ever purchased since my diaperhood. I prefer plants already started by someone ELSE and nurtured until they can withstand transplanting into my containers and gardens. Being ready to bloom when they are planted is a nice plus.

A year and a half ago, I put up a 9 x 12 greenhouse from a kit. It looks quite nice actually. This was the first step to my becoming a "grower". Grandiose plans and high expectations had I! This also provided a way for me to winter-over my tropicals, of which I'd amassed many since my inspiring trip to Hawaii. All throughout the winter I faithfully kept it heated and watered, nursing my tropicals along and tending to the seeds that had been started in trays and various pots. Wouldn't you know?! Surprisingly, the seeds actually grew! Okay, the SECOND batch grew, after I cooked the first batch because it got TOO hot in the greenhouse. Greenhouse experiences are another topic.

The first try at growing plants from seed was moderately successful. Many lessons had been learned and I looked forward to trying again for spring of '09.

What is that old adage about good intentions? For numerous reasons, winter was not conducive to getting a head start. For other reasons, my gardening budget for this year is severly limited (ugh! you might just as well cut off my oxygen supply!). Purchasing "already grown plants" was not going to be an option this year for annuals or perennials. In addition, I felt I needed to work on my character, patience specifically. I could use a lesson in non-instant gratification and taking my time (am not that great at waiting). The answer to my horticultural and budgetary dilemma was seeds.

Now, I've never done this before, so I will keep you updated on how it goes, but I am actually direct sowing all of my seeds this year either into the ground, the keeping bed or my containers. No messing with the greenhouse and flats. No buying already grown plants. The annuals will not be blooming in mid-May and the perennials will not bloom until next year but it will be good for my character development and of course, my bank account.

I will be brutally honest about my success or failure, what worked and what didn't. I will include photos if or when the seedlings emerge if they make it that far. Frankly? I am nervous. Will this define me as a gardener? Let's hope not!
I welcome any and all tips.

Wish me luck and we're on our way . . . we've only just beguuun . . . .

Stay tuned!
"Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished." - Ancient Chinese philosopher, Lao Tzu