And So It Goes

 Kind of a bittersweet week for me.  Endings: small, medium & large.

I.

Our tomato and pepper plants are at the end of their growth cycles.  I doubt that we’ll get more than a handful of tomatoes– or a couple of peppers– before the fall chill kills the plants.  It happens every year this way;  I’m always surprised.  This year the difference is that the other day I noticed two chickadees goofing around in the tomato plants.  At first I thought that they were after the tomatoes, but as I kept watching I realized that what the birds wanted is the cotton string that we use, with the wooden stakes, to hold up the plants.  They were pulling on the cotton string with their beaks, but unable to get it lose.  So I decided that  when I dismantle the tomato plants later this month I’ll cut the used cotton string into lengths and leave it out on the deck railing.  Maybe the chickadees will use the cotton string to make their nests.  We’ll see.

II.

Zen-Den and I have very few traditions.  We don’t do the same thing for any holiday.  There are no “but we always do this” restrictions on us.  It comes from being on our own for so long– and from not having kids, I suspect.  That being said, every September we look forward to our first drive into the countryside to go to a small, locally owned apple orchard that has the best apples ever.  So this last weekend we got into the car and went out there, all excited about our first apple foray of the year.  But when we got to the orchard, it was closed;  a sign out front said: “Semi-Retired.  Closed for Season.  Be back Summer of 2012.”  And with that, our one tradition went *poof* and we found ourselves apple-less in the countryside.  Humph.

III.

As you probably know, All My Children ends this week.  I still can’t quite wrap my head around this.  I grew up around AMC– first at a friend’s house, where her mother was addicted to it;  and then at my house, once my mother retired from teaching.  The fact that my Mom, the happy hermit, watched a soap opera never made much sense to me;  but she said that it gave her day structure and that Erica reminded her so much of her freshman year college roommate that she couldn’t not watch it.  In fact, she watched it every day until her death fifteen years ago.

So here’s the odd thing: even though I never became a fan of the show, I realize that I’m going to miss it.  Knowing that AMC was always on TV gave me a feeling of immediate connection with my mother.  Rational?  Not in the least.  But it’s what I’ve kept tucked away in the back of my mind all these years.  Of course, now with the end of All My Kids, that last connection will be gone.  Forever.

Life’s busy now. More chit-chat next week, gentle readers.  Talk at ‘ya then.

This & That

{august – monday – late afternoon}

√  No, I haven’t lost my mind.  Yet.

On Friday, after I wrote and published my earlier post, I did something really annoying; I accidentally deleted my blog template.  Not the blog contents, mind you– just the template.  So, I had to find myself a new template– right quick, as they say.  And this little banana number is the one that I picked.

It’s kind of cheerful, don’t you think?  And the price is right– as in FREE.

Someday I’ll work on putting together a more appropriate header, but until that magic day arrives I plan on sticking with this bunch of bananas.

√   The Big Dig continues.

The landscape crew is here today planting bushes & shrubs & perennials & who knows what else.  This project has dragged on for so long now, with so many revisions, that I no longer know [or care] what is being planted.  I’m beginning to think of Greg, the land planner guy in charge of this project, as my very own Eldon.

Did Eldon ever finish painting Murphy’s townhouse?  Will Greg ever finish creating a backyard for us?  Stay tuned to find out.

√  I want to paint the hutch that is in our dining room.

(Actually, to be entirely accurate and forthcoming, it isn’t a hutch– it’s a pie safe.  But no one knows what that is, so I’ve taken to calling it a hutch.)

The “hutch” has scratches, gouges and is a dreary dark brown color.  Not pretty at all. But what color should I paint it?  Therein lies the problem.

So I’ve spent much of this afternoon looking online at photos of hutches.  I now can say that my head is swimming with possibilities— none of which seem quite right to me, but all of which are quite lovely to look at in someone else’s home.

I was hoping that after an hour or two of online research, I’d  find the perfect hutch– painted the perfect color– and it’d become my inspiration.  Which would give me the confidence to go forward with this messy, labor-intensive project.

But no such luck.  Yet.

Talking Dirt

We live on a wooded ravine lot that slopes down to a creek.  And we have a swale on our property.

While sitting on our deck or in our screened-in porch we look directly into the woods behind us.  It is beautiful to see the trees year round.  It is less beautiful to look down into the ravine below and see the soil erosion that is causing our backyard to disappear.

So today I meet with a land planner to discuss his idea about what we’re going to do about our back yard… that is gradually slipping away into the creek… leaving the pillars that support our deck perilously close to the edge of the swale… that allows rainwater to naturally flow into the creek.

This is going to be an expensive mess to fix.  I just know it.

Here Comes The Sun

Let’s review.

First, I sat at this desk, working on this computer, complaining about rain to the whole world via this blog.  And I was grumpy.

Then something amazing happened.  We had a rainbow.  Not just any rainbow, but the biggest and brightest one I’ve ever seen in this part of the USA.  A rainbow of such significance that Z-D phoned me on his way home from work to make sure that I was seeing this rainbow.  And I was stunned.

Then yesterday, because the sun was shining, I was able to plant colorful flowers and pretty viney things in the many garden pots that decorate the exterior of our home.  Pots that I really love to look at when I’m driving up the driveway or walking up the sidewalk.  And I was very happy.

[I’m calling this particular pot, and its sister pot on the other side of the stoop, “Snack Time At Vacation Bible School” because it has chocolate drop coleus + coralberry punch superbells in it.  How fun is that?]

So even though the weather forecast for today is rain, I’m still in a good mood.  Creating the flower pots yesterday brightened my spirits.  And reminded me that when the nice weather gets here, I must make the effort to enjoy every minute of it.

TGIF, everyone.  Make it a good weekend.  Rainy or sunny.

Seed Money

 

In the spring I usually buy my tomatoes and herbs as small plants from the local garden nursery.

But this year I decided to try to grow the little plants from seed inside the house, hoping to transplant them outside when the weather is warmer.

So what do you think?  Will these seeds grow?

Or have I squandered $13.84 on this investment?!

Late Winter

It is drab outside.  Dark brown, gray, rust with hints of dingy green.  My light-sensitive eyes enjoy not squinting, but my spirit longs for sunlight, growth, something new.

***

Fresh flowers.  Citrus fruit.  Coffee.  These are the items that keep me whole during these last few weeks of winter gloom.

***

Raining and bleak outside.  Late afternoon.  I stop at our local grocery hoping to grab a few essentials.  The place is crowded with shoppers who, to put it politely, are very focused on their objectives.  Chaos.  Unhappiness.

Waiting three deep in front of the milk case I notice an older woman who is completely relaxed in the middle of this madness.  She radiates health, calm– and has excellent posture.

Intrigued, I look more closely and realize who it is.  Lilias Folan.  Of PBS yoga fame.  I quietly congratulate myself for paying attention– and stand up straighter.  Stomach in, shoulders back.  Move forward with grace.

***

I buy a bright yellow and green pillar candle.  At home I put the candle on a plate and set it on the granite counter in the kitchen.  I light the candle and the reflection of the flame on the counter gives me hope.  There is Spring in our kitchen.  For now.  I feel better.

***

Weekend plans keep me focused on doing.  As much as I want to, I can’t sit and stare out the window at nothing.  I must prepare.  Get ready.

***

Purple.  Orange.  Yellow.  Pansies planted in the fall.  Which colors will survive the winter?  Every year it is different.  I wait to see.  Curiosity replaces ennui.

***

The dark green stems of the daffodils are shooting up in the backyard.  Cheery yellow.  A bit of orange.  Color is on its way.  I am revived.

Our Lawn Has Mange

No act of kindness goes unpunished.  I relearn this lesson all the time.

Last summer when we had the worst drought ever, I decided to save water by not watering our lawn more than once a week.  Unlike most of our neighbors, we don’t have an underground watering system that keeps all the little grass blades bathed in a perfect, almost daily shower of water.

At our house, I’m the watering system [to date still above ground] that drags hoses and water sprinklers around the yard in a somewhat random, well-intentioned manner.  I do my best.  And usually my best is just fine because Mother Nature cooperates with me and provides some addition water to the area.

But not last summer.

Now that spring is almost here and we can see the results of my let’s-be-kind-to-the-planet-by-not-watering-very-much plan, we realize that we are screwed. Unlike most of our neighbors whose lawns look whole and alive, we have a lawn with mange that will cost a bundle– a break the bank sort of bundle— to fix.

Or so says the guy from the landscaper company who came over the other day to talk with me about this situation.  And I believe him because it’s a reputable company.  And I believe him because my online research on the costs of having a professional company reseed a lawn in the spring say the same thing.

Unfortunately I have no pithy conclusion to this story of dead grass woe.   Perhaps something good is yet to come from my save-the-water kindness. I dunno.  Right now all I see is a mess with a big price tag that will keep me snarling for many months to come.

*sigh*