Green Is Not My Best Color

It’s not an attractive color for me … green.

Especially, when it is caused by that green dye of a bit of envy.

Yesterday, I didn’t feel all that great. A summer bug, plus, my bones, joints, back, hips and leg, were revolting from what I have made them do this summer. My eyes were blurry, too, and I was out of sorts and just felt puny It was the second day of such nonsense.

But, I went to Lowes in the morning and nought big cement stones, came home, lugged them out of the wagon, and placed them where I had raked up pea gravel. I need them to make little spots for my two little chairs I had bought to sit by the garden. Unfortunately, my good buy chairs, had pointy feet,and if you sat in them, you went down through the pea gravel and into the dirt. Way down. Hence, the stones.

It worked. I covered the stones with pea gravel and placed the chairs on them and tested each one. Tick that box.

I bought two bags of black mulch that I wanted to spread around my 4 spires discount bushes that I had planted,but I didn’t have the energy and the sun was beating down and the humidity was oppressive.

Normally, I would push myself. But I couldn’t. I went into the house, took a shower and washed my hair and then did something that I don’t do … put some pajamas on, signed up for the PBS Passport and watched “The Great British Baking Show” for a couple of hours. I had no ppm and not only that, my body hurt.

I laughed when I thought, “Gardening is good for you.”

Uh-huh. Tell that to my back and bod.

In the afternoon, after watching John, a young British law student, win the contest, I went and sat on the screened porch, and looked at magazines.

I used to love magazine, but then my eyes went bad, so I had some years when I didn’t subscribe. I still don’t read that well off of paper, but I love to look at pictures, and will hone in on some articles or recipes.

“Southern Living” is one of my favorite magazines, as is “Southern Lady.”

I picked up the “Southern Living” and perused it. There is something fun about flipping the pages of a lovely magazine. I do anticipate finding something that I enjoy, on the next page.

That is when I came across som lovely pictures of gardens. I looked at the article. It was written by Francis Mayes, the author of “Under The Tuscan Sun.” Nick and I had seen her speak at an North Carolina event January, before last.

At first, I thought the article was about her. But Mayes turned out to be the author. The piece was about her home and the 30 acres she and her husband purchased in North Carolina.

That is when I noticed my skin turning green. It turned a deeper green as I continued to read.

Mayes’ house has beautiful gardens. Many were there when she bought the place. They were well taken care of, mature … just plain beautiful. I read how she had art shows at her place and had a nifty skeletal greenhouse structure where her artist friends hung their work. She mentioned the large number of people who would come and have drinks and look and buy art.

Forest green.

Her house had a wonderful look. It had been there a long, long time and had history, along with numerous outbuildings. One had been converted to a writing place and artist’s studio.

Double forest green.

Her husband gave her a chain saw for their anniversary.

Triple green.

And she had a bunch of workers to come in with big equipment to clean out and area that was towards the river at the back of their property.

I looked up. I tried to move my aching bones. Little twitchy impulses came to my legs, again. I think they are coming from a goofy nerve in my back. When I did get up, my hip caught. I walked like a question mark.

I saw a photo of Mayes, walking on a path by her glorious garden. Shedin’t look like Shrek, as I do. She didn’t have a bead of perspiration, much less. Sweat water-falling down her face.

I bet she didn’t stink … didn’t need a shower … and her body wasn’t revolting.

Gracious, I wasn’t. It would have been better if I hadn’t felt like I’d beaten hit by a rampaging flower cart.

But there I was, feeling puny, soaking in green envy.

Her writing had afforded her with a beautiful garden and a place I would love. By George, even a movie was made from her writing. People went on pilgrimages to Tuscany and women dreamed of a romantic life abroad. I know that when I was in Tuscany, in the town of Cortona, I thought of that book and movie and Mayes as I walked the cobbled streets.

For a moment, I felt a failure-ish feeling. I can do that to myself … especially if I am not feeling well.

The green color washed away as my thoughts changed. I made them change because I knew that kind of thinking was not in my best interest. Human? Yes. But by now, I should know better.

I immediately thought of Nick and my kids and grandkids and what Nick and I have created … given the world … four wonderful humans, who are giving, generous, kind and really do care about others.

They are my garden. They are the fruits of my labor, (literally).

Today, I go to the orthopedic doctor. I am sure he will look at me like I am an idiot as I tell him that I lifetime stones and dig and lift clay and big plants and bend over and weed and then sit slumped in a recliner.

Yep, some of this is self-inflicted.

So, around 1:30, I will wear anything but green, and go and complain to someone who is paid to listen and help me put things back into whack.

And then, when I get home, I will begin to write a book called, “Under The Compost Pile.”

It should be a best seller.

Susan

My lemon seed has sprouted!   My African violets are lovely and I am going to try to sprout an avocado seed and plant more lemon seeds.

Passing on the Joy of Photography

Grandparents pass on lots of things. Some of the things have laid in drawers and cabinets or on shelves and are lovely, and have a historical family meaning, and are lovely and meaningful.

Chances are, the grandchild will put those objects on shelves.

I have a few of those things that I will leave behind when I exit, stage left.

But those are just things. And most things, even with history, don’t change a person.

One of my grandsons stayed the night, Saturday. He is twelve. He will be a teenager next February.

These years before, there is no doubt that I have loved him, and watched him grow. But now is the time I see my work with him as just beginning.

What I want to leave my grandchildren with, is a joy of finding passions, enjoyments, learning and self expression. Since they were little, the two grandchildren who live near me, have had their own drawing journals. We have fooled with drawing and art. When my granddaughter did a cool painting, I copied it and had a print for her bedroom wall. Made. I had fabric made with one of my grandson’s designs. I want them to see the bigger picture of what they can do.

I did the same when I lived in Ohio and had my grandchildren over We headed downstairs to the art room. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to do that with my youngest granddaughter, and distance makes it out of reach for them now. I miss having that opportunity.

But Saturday, my grandson and I worked on one of the big joys in my life, and I think a growing hobby of his.

Last summer, I took my grandson to Anne Springs Greenway, a beautiful nature area, in Fort Mill, SC. I gave him a camera to use and I had one. I gave him a few pointers and off we went. I watched as he walked along. I could tell he was framing pictures in his Ming. He’d stop and squat and shoot. I could see him doing what I longed for him to do … see the world in a different way.

I took photos, too. but mostly, I was interested in watching him. What joy.

This weekend we walked in my yard and garden and he went from plant to plant and snapped. I taught him about F-stops and depth of field and filling the frame, honing in and using natural objects as frames.

After an afternoon of taking photos and watching a butterfly enjoy a zinnia for a long time, I download his photos to my iPad and we got to see the world through his eyes.

Later that evening, when we were outside, again, I taught him to look for things to photograph that weren’t as obvious as a beautiful flower. I showed him the beauty and art of photographing all stages of a flower’s life. Look for what people miss. Seek out the shot. Look at the world through a mindset that sees something interesting in most everything. Look for the story.

And that is what he did.

He mentioned that it was interesting how I painted and then made felt and baked and now do flowers. I think he wondered why I did this, but didn’t ask. So I took that opportunity to tell him why I did this.

I told him I do a lot of different things because I have a curios nature. There is a finite amount of time to live, really live, and pursue interests. I mentioned that I like to get involved with different aspects of life, master them to a certain degree, and then transfer what I have learned, to the next project. It keeps me engaged with life, I said.

Instead of him looking at me like I had three heads and four ears, I think he got it. I think that he understood a bit more about me, and in the process, learned something about himself, and life. All of these things are here for the learning. And if you look at life and the world with curiosity, you will not be bored.

I made chicken tenders for dinner and we had fresh peaches and peanut M&Ms. We ended our Erving watching Bot Wars. I love Bot WArs. We tried to decide what names we would give ourBot and how we would build it.

Sunday morning, we were up early and hit the Dunken Donuts before heading to the shore of Lake Wylie. When I asked if he wanted to eat his donuts at Dunken, or go to the lake, he said, “Let’s go to the lake and catch the early sun.”

I smiled. I had taught him well.

When I showed him my blog, he asked if I would use his photos. Of course. So this morning, the photos are by CJ. And I share them proudly and with a smile on my face.

Susan

For The Love Of Writing

 

Just as there is a life cycle for a flower, in the public eye, or in the minds of some people, there is a time when people should exit the stage, leave, go fishing, take a hike.

Having written for going on 25 years, I am probably, one of those people who might have past their expiration date, as far as a reading audience goes.

I have thought about that, a lot, recently. Should I hang up my fingers and brain and words and exit the writing world, stage left? Are readers bored with me? Have I said everything ad nauseous?  Have I told stories over and over and over?

Probably.

Even as of yesterday, I mentioned to Nick, I think I am past my expiration date. I got off of Facebook for a purpose. Many people read my words and wrote that they enjoyed them. But that does not mean that they will follow you, stay with you, search you out, if you move from their comfort or energy zone.

That is humbling. But I also know that that is just people. Life is busy and priorities set in and lives take different directions. My life moths along. I move from different necceary duties and work and move on with new interest.

But writin. Writing and photography,  have never abandoned me. Readers might disappear, publications I have written for have come and gone and changed and love fresh voices of a new generation.

I noticed the shift after 9-11. There was a seismic shift then and with the market kefuffle in 2008.. For a while, I changed with the market. I found publications for my work.

Then I developed a nice following of readers on my FB blog. But FB bothers me. I love it and hate it. It has good technology that is often used in a less than forthright way. Politically, and otherwise. So, jut as I am independent politically, I decided to write independently.

There are more formatting options. It is mine. and that is nice.

All of that being said, what I am learning from this little venture, is that the bottom line is … independent of whether a large number of people read my words, or only a few, I love to write. It really is a spiritual thing for me. Though I have retreated. Somewhat. From a busy life, to one of gardening, nature and nurturing in a smaller way, writing makes me feel alive. It is how I sort my thoughts and let the world know that I have been here, I have learned, done some things well and screwed up othert things, and that is all part of the life I have built.

It really is a joy to touch people in some way, to strike a note of life that rings true, or is absurd, or cracks people up.

In this world of marketing, social media, LIKES, SUBCRIBES, and GOOGLE ANALYTICS, sometimes the point gets lost in my head. Not everyething can be measured in numbers. If one person reads and it affects them, it is worth it. And if I write for myself, it is worth it, too.

I am still learning to figure out life and how to live in this technology driven, results oriented, society.

But as long as the birds fly, butterflies have magic wings and the preying mantis visit, you will find me working in my garden, finding love in some aspect, everyday, and sipping tea ,,, I will write and take photographs that bring me joy. Sharing it is just a bonus.

Susan

 

Unexpected Losses

It isn’t that we were actual friends. More like pleasant acquaintances. I know of her but hadn’t talked to her until she began following my writing. At that point, we had a few email conversations about some of the subjects that I had written about.

One of those subjects was Ireland. It made her think about her trips to Norway, where she visited relatives.

I love Ireland. She loved Norway.

The last time I saw my friendly acquaintance, was just prior to our moving south. I saw her in a local carryout. I was buying scratch off lottery tickets pats and she had just purchased cigarettes.

We chatted for a few minutes. I told her we were moving. She mentioned that she and her husband had moved into a little schoolhouse type building. She mentioned that her son had bought their big house on the lake.

It was a peasant chat. Friendly acquaintances. A pleasant sort of relationship.

One of my sons knew her husband. I think that they were friendly acquaintances, too. One day, maybe a year or so ago, I received an email from my son, saying the husband of my friendly acquaintance, had died.

I didn’t know him, but I felt badly for his wife.

Remember when Robin Williams died? That hit me. I didn’t know him, but I grieved. The same with Anthony Bourdain. I recall, crying, when Nick told me what had happened. Nick asked why I was crying, and all I could say was that I was just very sad. I was going to miss him.

Maybe it is my age, or how the world is or just the way my mind works, but when I hear about certain deaths, though I might now have known the person, feel like a bit of a punch in the gut. My equilibrium takes a hit, and I grieve.

I have a friend that I have had for probably 35 or 36 years. Long time. Good friend.

The other day I called her. We chatted and caught up on what her kids were doing and how my kids are. We talked politics and laughed and about my old neighbors and that the people who bought our old house, which is next to hers, are taking good care of my cottage garden.

She asked me if I knew a certain person. This person was my friendly acquaintance. I said, yes, I know her.

“She died last week.,” she said.

My gut immediately hurt. She was only 67.

I can make 67 sound young or old. It depends on how I am looking at it. For death, it is young.

My friend told me the circumstances for the woamn’s death, which unsettled me even more. Fire, burns … suspected to be caused by smoking.

My mind flashed back to our chat at the carryout. She and her husband had a lake house and were planning on spending more time there. Her obituary mentioned that she and her husband began dating at 16.

Now, 3 years later, they both are gone. Their 3 adult children have lost their parents and their children have lost their grandparents.

And though I didn’t know either, well, they are in my craw.

Futures. Plans. Pasts. Unexpected Losses.

I think I will sit and watch some birds for a fe minutes.

Susan

The Story Of Our Garden

Nick was way ahead of me. He was born a gardener, or at least began gardening at an early age. He helped his grandmother, a tough German woman who grew flowers at the home Nick and his two older brothers, mother, and grandmother lived in. Nick’s father died when he was five.

Garden, gardening, Parkinson’s, birds, joy, inspiration, trials, God, love, passion, humility

His real gardening began at Benjamin Granklin Elementary, in Cleveland. Each child, from kindergarten, on, had a little plot of ground to plant things in. The younger kids had smaller plots and only grew a few things, but as the children moved along in grades, they received larger plots. During the summer, the kids would walk to the school garden and tend their plants. 

From the time we were married and had our first house, Nick gardened. At our first house, he converted a goldfish pond to a garden. We had small children, so we filled in the little pond. We have a photo that I have given to our son, that shows him, about age three, pulling a wagon with vegetables in it. 

The garden expanded with our next house, and at our third house, the hose we lived in for thirty years, prior to moving here, Nick had a huge garden filled with vegetables, flowers and rows of sunflowers. People walking in the park behind out house would stop and look at it. 

I grew roses in the big garden, until they became too much of a pain, and then I made my own cottage garden on the side of the house. Nick helped me a lot. 

My dad gardens a bit. A swimming pool toook up most of the yard, so his gardenin space was limited. He grew zucchini, which I thought was disgusting. I hadn’t tried it, but the name was weird. I love it, now.  He grew lovely roses and would pick bouquets and deliver them to shut-ins from his church.

When my dad was old and in a wheelchair, I would bring him to our house, wheelhim eo the back, and hand him the hose. He loved watering the garden. Once day, he told my that my roses were more beautiful than his. 

When we moved from Ohio, gardening was in our past. Nick had filled in his big garden with grass. Parkinson’s had taken away his stamina and some of his strength. I didn’t think I would garden because you sweat and I don’t like snakes. 

Perhaps the twentieth wonder of the world is that I began gardening, in earnest. As Nick’s strength and stamina continued to lesson his ability to do such work, I chose to try to create a bit of a refuge in our own yard, as home became the place Nick was most comfortable. 

This is called a Trial and Error garden. South Carolina isn’t Ohio. Both have clay. Down here it is red. Hard. Great if you want to make red clay pots. 

When we moved to this house, which has a agreenspace behind it, that isn’t maintained by the HOA, Nick thought wildflowers would look nice back there. 

And that is how this all started. 

From wildflowers, grew my vision of a wildflower, perennial, shru, and gras garden. 

Inside our fence, I decided to switch to mostly perennials. 

What a job, but what a joy. 

I have had to study a lot, go to YouTube, read, and ask questions. I am learning that like people, plants die, sometimes before there time. It is nature.

This is my creative project. It is my art, my writing, my job. 

Nick helps when he can. He planted a few perennials, waters,and hauls pee gravel and this week, he spread some. That is hard for him, but good. I love seeing him in the garden or talking ‘garden talk’ with him. 

This is going to be a work-in-progress. It probably will never be totally done. There will be plant births, deaths, birthdays, graduations and some that are put into time-out.

Nature will win. I watch weather radar like a begonia. I water in spite of the cost. And we feed the birds and watch butterflies and dragonflies and squirrels and little green lizards, enjoy the bounty.

I work slowly. I sweat. I get weary bones. But each morning when I get up, thegarden calls me. It sings a song of grace and glory. I gives me more than I can give it. When I look closely at the blooms, the intracies of their design, everyything in the world goes away. All I see is God. Hope. Joy. 

I wish I would have gotten into gardening earlier. But that wsn’t the design of my life. Maybe it has come to me, now, when there are times that I feel life waning. Tick Tock. 

Now, I have to go haul more pea gravel.

Susan 

This is what’s on my mind

In the car a couple of days ago, I had this brilliant idea. It also made me laugh.

You know how President Trump really, really wants a wall built along the border between Mexico and the United States? 

Well, I have come up with a great, great, very great, idea. Me, with the low IQ, big hands, big feet and bad hair. This is a uge, uge, uge, idea that will creat billions of jobs and billions of dollars in revenue. 

You know how China (pronounced Gyna) has their Great Wall? I mean, it is really big … uge. It is a Wnder of the world and attracts billions and billions of visitors, tourists with cameras and credit cards. 

Why don’t we build a Great Wall of the United States? Model it after China’s? Turn a negative into a positive. Have concession stands. Souvenirs. Maybe a Broadway show or two.

For those who want to cross borders legally, there will be a uge Golden Door and a Welcoming committee. 

For those who want to come in illegally, there could be an obstacle course, complete with alligator wresting and walking a high wire. They could also have Alex Trebec put them through a few rounds of Jeopardy. If you pass all of that, you, too, would get to go through the Golden Doors. 

If that works out, we can build one between the United States and Canada. That wall would be even more uge. 

I haven’t figured out what style the wall should be, but I know that chain link won’t be involved. What style do you think would look lovely? Contemporary , neoclassical, stucco? 

There is a nifty female cardinal at the bird feeder. Otherwise, it is a pretty quiet morning. 

I have to go. I need to write to The Donald. 

Susan

Life In A Day

There is no particular reason for it, my waking up at 4 and getting up shortly after. Maybe it is that I think that if I get up earlier, I will have more time, more life in a day.

So I get up and make my tea, give Winston, The Boy, attention and do a few kitchen things and then head out to the screened porch to watch birds, write and get my brain connected with the day. 

That is … until I decided to back off of FB and develop my own blog.

If you haven’t guessed it … I am an independent cuss. Although I love FB’s technology for writing, there is something about it that is for of sinister in the way that it has been operating. It isn’t just about the political aspect of it, either.

There is much about FB that doesn’t make people feel good. I truly believe that. Yes, it is a place to catch up … but, to me, and for me, it didn’t make me feel better about much of anything. And for me, that is important

So … I hit the tech road. Egad. That is a separate part of my brain that has to get revved up. And that is what I have been doing for the last few days.

It is a bit of a weird time right now, isn’t it? The locusts or cicadas are making their fall sounds. The evening light is different, more mellow and golden. There are cars in school parking lots. Not only is back to school stuff in stores, but yesterday, I dropped by Walmart to get some spray paint for my new little chair and table set I bought for the garden for $30.00 at Gastonia Pickers, and two Walmart employees were putting up Christmas stuff!

Seriously. I mean, serious??

To do technical work, I head to my office with the big desktop. My favorite writing is on my iPad, but there is limited functionality on it. So I have to go play with the big boy

But I am torn. I can’t see the birds from my office. My brain has to go into overdrive, formatting, designing, and walking my way through instructions.

But I make myself do it.

Why?

Because I need to make sure my brain stays in the game. Just as I am learning more about gardening, I want to learn how to be somewhat, technically proficient.

I have to push myself.

Tick tock. Tick tock.

So, this morning, I had to figure out why yesterday’s post appeared in a clump, instead of formatted into paragraphs. It drove me nuts

I also hit up Lowes for half dead plants and it was so hot that I felt half dead walking around. I did come home with a Knockout rose for $5.00. And, 7 more bags of pea gravel that I had to haul to the back and spread.

Yep, I was dead by 3.

But on a second wind, I made homemade pizza.

Tasty

As the evening came, I was not nearly as upbeat or zippy as I had been in the morning. And I asked myself why? Why am I doing this?

Smelledlike a good perfume

I think it is because there is so much yet that I want to do. I have learned so much from the garden and hard physical work. I have learned that plants, just like people, die even though I don’t want them to. I loved the aspect of being able to nurture something, as I do Winston.

I have noticed that I haven’t been praying as much, I think, though, that God, as Mother Nature, is in my garden, in the dirt, plants, rain, weeds butterflies, birds, green lizards and bushy-tailed squirrels. So, instead of hearing my words, or me reading His … or Hers words, God gets to see me sweat. Ashes to ashes … sweat down face, dripping in eyes. I think that is in the Bible, isn’t it?

Anyway, I must learn more today. And we shall see how this post appears. Stick with me … I am learning.

Please SUBSCRIBE by email. It would be a lovely treat for me.

Susan

Life Lessons From The Garden

I can be harsh. I can look at a diseased or dying plant and have it affect me much more deeply than it should.

I can hone in on the problems of the garden and life.

Instead of seeing the whole picture, the beautiful flowers and plants and the birds that arrive with bravado, I look at what needs to be done, size up what needs work.

That is what hit me in the face, yesterday, as I looked at a zinnia whose leaves had gotten some sort of black spot. Yep, I took it personally.

Abut after watching “A Gardener’s World” a lovely show about gardens in England, I walked to my garden and thought, wow, I have done a  lot of work and smiled … right before I dug in, and made a new path and began sweating like Shrek in the weather with a 77% dew point.IMG_1824-1-1

The mind shift and excitement came back to me as I saw possibility, and put away my stink-eye.

Sixty-six years old, and still have to work on my attitude.

In my life, I have met people who couldn’t figure out how to live. Life was always a problem. Nothing added up. Why can’t I have this, do that, look like …

Accepting things as they were or are, and not going down the path of self-doubt, or feeling angst and defeat is a big part of how one lives a peasant life in a day.

I am slow, but I am learning. I am seeing so much of life, and myself, in my garden.

Dirt that is rampant with fungus. It is there. The world will not end.

The plant that had glorious flowers yesterday, is dragging, today. There is no need to fret.

Weeds are coming up, again, where I thought I had gotten rid of them. Relax.

The hostas don’t like where they are. Move them and get on with your life.

You get the point. It is the same as in so many other areas of my life.

The dough I made didn’t rise properly. That need not be the benchmark for your day.

The 5 gallon pail with all of the birdseed fell over and spilled all over the patio. Shit happens. Smile anyway and laugh. The birds will still come, tomorrow.

Monte, the gardener from England, whose show I watch, made me realize I was being a tad anal about all of this, and that the garden (and life) will have its day, or most likely, a moment, when the flower is perfect, the plant is robust, the dough rose beautifully, and my hair looks pretty decent.IMG_2043

These are but moments in time. You take your mental snapshot and know that it is all going to change  because that is how life is.

But to only see the diseased plant or the flower with the gimpy pedals or to think you are a failure because your dough didn’t rise? That is like living in a no-outlet.

And that isn’t how I want to live. I shall, each day, marvel at the flowers and plants and events that make me feel that sense of marvel, wonder, and fulfillment.

This moment is temporary.

And so is life.

Susan