Wednesday, May 28, 2014

That Is Not Fair

There were interesting comments on my prior post.  I just wanted to clarify that I was not against the Afghan immigrants moving here, working here, and going to school here, and of course, spending money here!  I am assuming that those who waited on me were citizens of the United States although still having close ties to their homeland.  That freedom is what makes this country great.  Yes, we have those Americans who are prejudiced against these folks and that really came to the foreground after 9/11.  But we also have laws that protect them against most of that.

I just keep trying to get my mind around helping a country that has a large wealthy class while our middle class is shrinking.

I just had problems with the dichotomy of having so many of our college graduates not finding jobs and carrying college loans with a Congress that does not seem to care to support our own college students while voting for a war.

I have problems with our soldiers families living on food stamps after protecting Afghans from an invasion in their country with a U.S. Congress that has vetoed several veteran's support bills this past year that may have also avoided this health care issue.

I guess I also was having trouble with life not being fair.  But then...when has it ever been?

Friday, May 23, 2014

City Conversations

I was at a LARGE eyeglasses shop trying to select new frames for my new prescription.  I update my glasses about once every 5 or 6 years because insurance covers such a small part and I tend to like only those designer frames.  I think eyeglass frames are the biggest rip-offs on the face of the planet and if I had decided to be a designer, that is the direction I would have headed.

But this is not about my going slowly blind and broke.  This is about the people one meets on that journey. 

On my drive to the large shopping center with the large eyeglass store (I spend way to much time the country and am impressed by size) I noticed an unusual number of women wearing headdress in hijabs walking along the roadways and in the housing areas as I approached the mall.  These were the traditional dark lengthy coverings with neutral head covers...not the exotic mysterious clothing where only netted space for eyes is allowed.  They were all ages, some alone and some in groups.  It reminded me years ago when shopping this same mall I rarely heard English spoken in the stores.  I rarely heard any accent I recognized spoken although all the shoppers were at that time all in western dress.

Now I see many Middle Eastern people in western and traditional dress wandering the mall.  The eyeglass store employed ONLY Mid-Eastern people, all dark skinned, dark haired, dramatic looking people speaking with Mid-Eastern accents. 

When I had selected my expensive eye wear and handed the tray to one of the clerks, she bubbled brightly helping me choose among the selection as hubby has not a clue.  As we measured my eyes, talked about the gazillion choices in lens types she was most friendly before turning me over to a young man for the sale.  He and I discussed  discounts, insurance, and warrenty and as we waited for the computer to change screens, I said something about data and expressed that probably the NSA was inputting my eye prescription to their database and that was the slow-down. 

The young man with a mustache and wearing glasses looked away from the computer screen and smiled and said (he had little or no accent) that he was sure the NSA was tracking him and his computer and phone calls.

I asked if he thought that was because he was from the Mid-East.  He responded that "No." he had been born in Connecticut, but his mother was from Afghanistan and currently worked as a contractor for the US Army and was in Afghanistan translating.  We talked briefly about the book "A Thousand Splendid Suns" by Khaled  Hosseini and "In My Father's Country" by Saima Wahab, the latter a true story about a woman who was doing what his mother was doing. Like US Southern writers, Middle-Eastern writers have their unique style which means they tend to have a rich way of describing things and a great complexity in their characters.

The flamboyant, dramatic looking woman returned at the end of the sale to measure me for sunglass frames which were next on my way into debt.  Since we had been chatting so comfortably about love and marriage and having children...something us old folks can get young folks to do...I asked why there were so many people from Afghanistan in this area.  She responded that the Afghan government paid for them to go to school here, paid for their airfare, their schooling, their living expense and their health care!  She could not explain why this area was the one selected, but we were close to DC so that might have something to do with it.  Clearly they brought their large families along.

I could not help but feel chagrined that we send our young men and women to live in tents, eat canned or dried food, and risk their lives every day, so that these very wealthy citizens of another country can come here.

It did not ease the sour feeling in my gut when upon leaving I passed a beautiful young woman in a flowing pastel silk hijab sitting on a bench in the mall center using her cell phone which was attached to a huge jewel-encrusted chain around her neck looking like someone who belonged on Rodeo Drive in California...or more likely in a nightclub in the Mid-East.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

The Worker Bee Takes a Nap

This photo below illustrates what this worker bee feels like as my days start to open up with more time.

I find a cool green place and just collapse and stare into the sun.

Or perhaps, I am more like this Naval Cadet below but weigh a few more pounds.

By afternoons I do look like my grandson.

And yet wish I was more like my granddaughter!

Friday, May 16, 2014

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, Not What One Would Think

(This post is lengthy but important so please take time to read it all the way through.)

I am pretty sure that the average person has a pre-conceived idea of what a Master Gardener is.  Perhaps you think they are people who know the names of 99% of the plants in a garden, people who know what soil Ph is by looking at it, people who have answers to every disease or pest problem in your garden, and people who have truly lovely yards.  Well, you are wrong, wrong, wrong.  Yes a very few Master Gardeners can fit into this mold above, but most are really environmentalists with a tendency to like learning about science and a lot like you in other ways.  Their lives are busy and they get distracted and they make mistakes in their yards.  But, having written that, I admit that I got a little anal before having 12 Master Gareners come to look at my yard for an evaluation on whether it was Bay Wise ... good planting decisions to improve water quality for our rivers and bays.

Wanted colleagues to see my yard in the spring when things are blooming and weeds have not taken over.

I am the type of gardener that just lets stuff grow when and where it likes after I plant it.  This is the Master Gardener hodge podge bed.  I almost lost all of this dianthus to moles but soaked the bed with a mixture of cod liver oil and soap and that seemed to discourage them this year.

Master Gardener yards can range from floral displays to woodland hollows, to a simple lawn and vegetable garden.  They do view yard work as therapy and prefer that to watching TV.  They do have a love of eating fruits and vegetables and tend to be purists if these are not freshly picked.  They do tend to avoid planting exotics that can be invasives.  You will not find a butterfly bush (Buddleia) in a Master Gardener's yard.  Yes, we love butterflies.  But this bush is somewhat invasive (in 8 states), does not provide any food for the larva of butterflies and other beneficial insects although it does provide nectar.  Therefore, why not plant something that allows butterfly babies to grow? I will not ask you to dig up your butterfly bush, but please do not plant more when there are other shrubs that are good for butterflies.  (It is a controversial plant but I tend to agree with this lady.)

I had to wait sometime before I would allow Master Gardeners to judge my garden as to whether it would pass the Bay Wise test.  The test is really easy to pass, but I did not want them to see the mistakes I had made.  I dug up my butterfly bush, my black bamboo (it was lovely for 4 years before it started to take off), and all of the Miscanthus (a tall grass that looks very lovely but is also invasive and is not eaten by deer and seeds are not eaten by birds.)  Some nurseries will tell you they sell a non-invasive version of this grass...yeah, they tend to say that about a LOT of plants.  They also sell or sold thousands of ornamental pear trees for subdivisions and road sides that were supposed to be sterile and they can be found growing extensively along the edges of roads and highways in the mid-Atlantic.  (We do have a native Miscanthus but no one sells it.)

In the photo above was the last invasive I had yet to remove (red arrow).  It is isolated but still spread seeds in the cracks which I have to pull.  It is Catmint Walker's Low.  Yes it is related to the mint family and that is why it is an invasive.  It spreads by seeds and runners.  It has the most beautiful blue fringey flowers each summer  and gets to stay one more year until I can find something that is the same color, shape and bloom time.

If you research you can find nurseries that sell native plants and can tell you where they grow best.  Yes, SOME natives are as invasive as some non-natives, but you can feel less guilty and know that there are natural predators.

Above two photos show my ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolias).  This one is a cultivar as it is lime green and tends to be smaller than the 8 feet high version.  It is native, tolerates a huge range of soils and moisture levels, and blooms in May, and makes a lovely hedge or single mounding plant when trimmed.  Called ninebark because the bark exfoliates.  NOTE not everything in my yard is native.

I was judged on whether I encouraged wildlife.  I have bird houses, piles of broken branches, bird baths, and hummingbird feeders and lots of downed trees as food for everything under the sun.  We do not (actually in my area ... another post...CANNOT) bring down dying or dead trees (example is second photo below).  In the photo immediately above the right arrow is pointing to my butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa) related to the milkweed.  I thought the winter had killed this native.  It is hard to grow from seed, but I will keep trying.  It is one of the few plants that the larva of Queen and Monarch butterflies eat.  Butterflies and humming birds love it.

Above photos are NOT the ugly.  The compost container which hubby waters and shovels monthly from side to side makes the best compost for top dressing of our gardens in the fall.  We have a jar in the kitchen for all scraps except animal products that go into this area along with shredded leaves and grass that we add later in the summer.  Right now all grass is mowed with a mulching blade and returned to the lawn.  Yes, it makes for messy walking and grass clippings in the house, but it is much healthier for the lawn.  Beyond that is a pile of weedy roots that we hope to cook through out the summer.  And then in the far end is the weeds that need to be burned and cannot go into the compost pile.  I learned from this recent yard visit that timing for burning weeds has to be carefully done.  If the pile has been sitting a while and it is spring you should avoid a burn because you will kill a lot of insects!  (And of course you have to check for those silly wrens.)  The photo above the compost pile is a holding bed where I dump the extra iris (an other stuff) until I can find them a home.  We also hang on to most of the wood that falls into the yard for winter fires.

Now to the ugly.

I do plant about 6 to 8 roses in my garden.  But these are really the bad children of the garden.  They require too much fertilizer that can run off onto the storm water, they require applications for fungus and pests, which can kill important pollinators and insects and they require lots of water.  Master Gardeners do grow roses (one in my group just bought 30 new plants to replace his winter kill.)   But we have to be aware that they are not the most environmental part of your yard.  I am using a systemic fertilizer/pesticide applied three times a year at the base of each plant to avoid sprays that are soooo dangerous to everything and to keep the toxins as local as possible.  Fungicides (and pesticides) are killing our honeybees and many other pollinators and larva...PLEASE BE CAREFUL with them.  Hubby is going to a colloidal spray (clay) for our fruit trees this year to avoid toxic applications.

We were evaluated on how we watered our plants, how we treated our lawn, whether we had native plants, whether we planned for wildlife, our use of chemicals and how we controlled stormwater runoff.  We were not evaluated on flowers and landscaping.  And we passed!!  I got a "Demonstration" sign which is one level up from a Bay Wise sign.  No, it will not stay in this bed as it looks odd, but this is where we took the photo.  The sign cannot go out to the end of our long driveway as I understand some idiots steal them!  So I will move it to the beginning of the beds and hope people notice and ask about it!  (And yes I am a bit anal as all the pottery is color coordinated with the house.)

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Light at the End of the Tunnel

My loyal readers know that I have been drowning in responsibilities these past weeks.

First we finished the Green Exposition by staffing (and expanding) the children's garden.  Children help us during this one Saturday to plant vegetables for later harvest for an ecumenical food pantry.  Fresh produce, while provided by farmers, is welcomed from our garden with more variety.

We worked with over 100 children during the day.  They are so fun, because they really like planting a plant!
We have expanded the raised beds from four last year to eight this year.  OMG!!

Please note that I try to hide children's faces out of respect for parents who do not want their children's faces spread out over the Internet.
And within two weeks we have salad!!

The museum donated this strawberry planter which we are using for herbs such as thyme and oregano.
The big push for this project is now done, although we have much ongoing work through out the summer.  Two short classes each week, regular watering and weeding, and delivery of produce!  We do have other volunteers to help, so that makes us sigh just a little.  Next post I will talk about the yard review by Master Gardeners.  Another big project done!

Friday, May 09, 2014

Still Hangin In There

Slowing down and finishing the big lists.  But. I will return like a bad penny, a nasty mosquito, an enduring allergy...soon.

Friday, May 02, 2014

A Favor for Tabor

I will be spending most of the day at the Children's Garden tomorrow as part of an environmental expo for the county.  I will be on my feet all day as will my hubby.  We have helpers to work with the little kids, so I am hoping the day will not be too chaotic.

Today has been one of those days where I have been running from pillar to post.  Grocery shopping, then moving gravel and soil at the Children's Garden and tidying it all up for the coming exposition and then getting the lists and sign-up sheets and all that bureaucratic stuff ready for tomorrow.

Tonight we have sorted various plants and pots for the kids to plant tomorrow.

I just made stuffed peppers and roast potatoes and I am heading for the bathtub while dinner cooks.  Oh is that bubble bath calling my name!

I really need some down time, but not seeing a break in activities until Thursday or Friday!  I sat for just a minute on my deck yesterday and was so sad when I realized I had not had time to do some spring migration bird watching.  Not one bit!  A few of the bird houses have occupants, but I am too busy to enjoy even that.  I grab a small handful of meal worms and dump them on the front door of the blue bird house and then make sure the seed feeders have feed these next few weeks.  But mostly, I have been working hard on the yard getting ready for a yard visit by a bay wise check group in about 10 days! This is an important visit that I have promised this group for over a year.  I hope I pass their test, but what they really want to see is a living shoreline that we put in.

Do me a favor.  Scratch all that stuff off your list and enjoy spring for me.  Tell me what you see and how you feel.  Thank you.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Rainy Mondays or Tuesdays or Whatever

During rainy days, instead of sitting back and reading or watching TV, I let that Puritan work ethic define most of the hours as I discover lots of little chores to complete indoors.  These are chores that I put off because they usually offer little reward when they are finished and many of them are tasks that I will have to re-do again and again in the months ahead.  It seems that I have this impracticable goal of getting everything tidy and pristine permanently.  All I need to do is just try hard enough.  I naively think that once things are straightened I just have to use some self-discipline and they will stay straightened indefinitely.  After all, there are no more children or pets to rearrange my life.

But there IS still me, myself and I!   All three of us are like dervishes with a consumer fetish.  I have an endless dyslexic reading habit, leaving small piles of magazines, bits of mail, brochures and maps, to-do lists and various books (even with the Kindle) upon coffee and bedside tables and counters.  The piles grow in height until they start to lean, then slide and then in gay abandon tumble to the floor in a loose fan of spontaneity.  You are about to enter the dark world of Tabor, which guests never see!

I have an endless photography habit and leave my cameras, lenses, filters, binoculars, batteries, chargers and manuals in little corners and on shelves, where I place them out of the way but not out of sight, until the photography bug bites me again with a special angle of the sun or sunset or tweak of bird.  The tripod must not be closed into compaction and stands with legs askew to trip unwary visitors (or burglars) at the front door, because who knows when I might need it?  (That elephant artwork was done by my oldest grandson and will hang in that space until I die.)

My camouflage jacket will hang carelessly over the bannister until warm weather prevents me from using it at all.

My huge, it IS huge, walk-in closet becomes a repository for a small pile of garden garb worn just that morning that is not dirty enough to put into the laundry but it is still too dirty to put away.  (This habit is a hangover from living on a farm where one saved work clothes for just a while longer.)  My closet also has the overnight bag, from a recent visit to my daughter's, that I have not yet unpacked, sitting in the middle of the floor.  Then there is the exercise apparel draped over a chair that sometime in this century I will wear once again for a brief session in the basement in my attempt to remain forever young.

My box of purses sits on the floor under other containers just to the side since the transition to spring causes me to go through a series of selections of ugly bags before I finally settle on something to get me through the summer.  None of these are designer items, and therefore, they are really ugly.  (Not to say that designer bags are always lovely, and not to say that with courage I could throw half of these purses away and never miss them.)

The kitchen always needs tidying up, but we actually eat at home, so that is and always will be a normal endless task.

The garage has a fertility corner where pots reproduce like rabbits and garden tools form a tangled clutter like wall flowers at a Sadie Hawkins dance.  I restack them once again.  For some reason, long after fall has retreated, dried leaves tuck themselves everywhere and must be swept out monthly.  Various plant stakes and wire supports tend to lean away from the wall where they have been carefully hung to grab me with devilish glee as I unload groceries, so on a monthly basis I tuck them flat again and again.

And, one of these days, I will remember to get at all those cobwebs that weave and wave on all the hanging light fixtures hanging nine feet above my head and which I only notice five minutes before company arrives.

Bring on the rain.  Rainy days never ever get me down.  I am too wicked, and anyway, there is no rest for people like me.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Buying Love

Have you ever paid for love?  I think that is what I was doing last night but not consciously.  Really.  I invited my daughter out with her husband for dinner in honor of her 39th birthday.  There is no way I am celebrating her 40th!  I said I would pay for the babysitter and dinner.  (Did you know babysitters get $17.00 an hour where she lives?)  I told her to pick the restaurant (the more expensive was already booked, thank goodness) and she wanted very much to try some new one that had just opened in March on the Harbor in Georgetown in Washington, D.C.  We invited my son and his wife to join us in this birthday celebration of their sister/sister-in-law.

The pre-dinner special cocktails were grand - mine was Stella Credente (rum and lime juice).  The appetizers were marvelous and exotic - mine was blue runner jack sashimi with fried sea beans. The salads we did not try to save room for entrees.  The entrees were small and sophisticated - mine was a half order of smoked potato gnocchi followed by olive poached halibut.  All were delicious and different.  The desserts were good and even some were great.

This restaurant sits on Washington Harbor and as a good omen, the heavy rain stopped and the sun broke out just as we got there!  We stayed for about an hour and a half and did not leave until dark.  We laughed, told jokes on each other, shared memories of recent trips, bragged and complained about the grandchildren, and in general, had a MAHVELOUS evening.

Kennedy Center in the background.

I could look around the spacious dining room and the main crowd did not even start showing up until 8:00 P.M.  The customers were so high-end that even hubby, who has not a clue about fashion, mentioned to son-in-law, "Did you see those guys in the power suits at that long table?"  (My daughter wore dress jeans, so you realize nothing is formal anymore.)

The Chef's wife who is the "Director of Customer Relations," stopped by to see if we enjoyed our meal, which we most certainly did, and joked with us and talked about her Italian husband.  They also own another high end restaurant in the city.

I sprung for the 6 dinners, drinks and asked S.I.L and son to pick up the tip. Perhaps, most of you would find the amount of the bill a jaw-dropping shocking amount, as did I,  and a few others of you would be pretty passive about such figures if you are in a higher income bracket, but I really wanted to treat them all and I cannot take money with me into the next life.  I do not think I have ever spent this much money for a night out!  And the wine was not $100 a bottle! Young folks as my daughter who take clients to dinner, do not think twice about spending money like this on a dinner, but we are on a fixed income and not that cavalier on a monthly basis.

Maybe I was buying love, but I felt I was throwing a party!  You can't take it with you and there is always the chance that someone will take it away from us in future years the way this world is going.  Anyway, if you are ever in town, get someone to take you there and pick up the tab!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Bragging Rights II

While I pay people to work in my yard I also spend time doing hard labor in others' yards.  Last week work was done on the Children's Garden.  Below you can see four raised beds for the vegetables that will get grown this summer and taken to the food pantry.  Hubby in his eagerness overplanted so...

We requested space to expand, double the space, to another four raised beds.

That area above that is mud and packed clay is just waiting for us to add the wood frames, the landscape cloth, the gravel and then fill the beds with soil.

This, of course, took more than one morning to accomplish.  Hubby had to dig drainage ditches below the beds and lay that black pipe in the background once the cloth was tacked down.

Meanwhile I and another much stronger dude shoveled gravel for the paths.

Then the other two worked this gravel over the drain pipes.

I was so exhausted at completion that I failed to get the photos of the final garden...but maybe in the coming weeks once the lettuce and peas are growing, I will share.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Not Really Alone

I wrote that I was alone on Easter, but that was not exactly true.  I had a yardman and his younger brother working on our vast front and back yard.  Here in the photos below, they were moving some very heavy logs.  This man, whom I will call Oscar, has two daughters that are teenagers. They live in Mexico along with the rest of his family and from March until the end of November he lives in our country and works as a supervisor for a landscape company and also brings along a few of his many brothers back with him on work permits.  He and my husband have become friends and so many Sundays he comes and helps us.  Think about living away from those you love for nine months each year so that they can have money to go to college and eat and maintain a nice home!

Below is his youngest brother...sweet and so totally bored with all through his life's view.  He see's this world through those young and complaisant eyes and his life may be somewhat different in this river of the ever-changing.

Oscar is a little stocky in the photo above but by the end of summer he will be lean and mean once again.  He reminds me a little of my dad who was often outside in dusty jeans.

Oscar is a multi-talented person.  He can do construction, is a skilled mason, and can fix almost any small and large engine.  He is honest and pleasant, and yes, we love him.  Totally he could be our son!  We pay him well, I feed him lunch and I tell him when I will be gone on the weekends if I need him, because I have no fear that he or his brothers would ever do anything nefarious to our house.

Only a few people can carry the title "salt of the earth."  It is a most prestigious title in my life book and Oscar definitely wins that award.  I feel lucky to know him.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

This Sunday

Home alone on this Easter morning while hubby is on travel for the week.  Daughter and family are celebrating in Florida and son and DIL perhaps in PA.?  Still I am wishing those of you who are rejoicing the resurrection a good and song filled holiday.

Wishing those of you looking for brightly colored orbs and chasing the Easter Bunny, a laugh filled morning and a chance for a nap when the little ones come down from the sugar high.

And for me I will wait for warming in the afternoon and do some more planting in my yard.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

New Silhouettes

When you move into a new house you find your budget is pretty much depleted.  So, sometimes you put off getting things like drapes or window coverings until you have the money.  My husband has been adamant about not having window coverings in our bedroom.  I have been pushing for them, as I like the coziness of closing off the night, the lack of my neighbors garage light shining in my face, the fact that I can dress and undress in the bedroom, and the way they can reduce heat/cold exchange.

We have lived in this house for six years now. (Oh my.)  AND I finally got my bedroom window coverings last week.  I am not a drape person and so I went with the clean lines of Roman shades. Below you can see why hubby hates to cut off the view of the river.

But there was an interesting aspect of these drapes I had not expected.  They even play nicely against the sunset.  On the window ledge are silhouettes of bottles that I collected off of a reef while living in the South Pacific decades ago.  They are probably hospital medicine bottles with one ink bottle (the largest) from a Japanese hospital that was there in the 1900s.

I am now a happy camper.

Monday, April 14, 2014


I went out today with a group of volunteer ladies that work regularly on the nearby museum grounds.  I had become in involved in this volunteer effort full force last year taking leadership responsibility for the bureaucratic problems in trying to buy plants, getting the mulch scheduled, sending out updates via email, maintaining email lists, coordinating suggestions and editing plant lists and keeping it all on an environmental track.  I discovered that it was a bit like herding cats.  Some of the women were at the museum several days weekly and took it upon themselves to make plant removal decisions or schedule other decisions without letting everyone know.  Their husbands volunteered in other departments at the museum and they were there more often than I.

The hired maintenance staff (two men) while praising us when they saw us, clearly saw their job as sitting on a mower once a week and maintaining stuff indoors.  When they wear white shirts to work, you know they do not see themselves as landscape staff!  They actually seemed to think that 60-year-old and older women could maintain the rather large grounds of the museum on our own.  They made little effort to assist with hose repairs, getting the water unlocked, and keeping wheelbarrows easily available from the storage shed although I must admit they are very, very polite.  Today we actually had to lift the wheelbarrows out and over some new-fangled BBQ machinery that had been slid in right at the door for pulling out.  I also had to help these gals lift 40 pound bags of soil this morning as I was afraid someone was going to injure their back.  I am thankful that I can still do stuff like that at my age, but I also am very careful each time I do lifting anyway. Keeping moving...keeping moving.

As you may remember, at the end of the last season I let the dear ladies know I was resigning as leader and would volunteer as I could, but my relationship to the museum was not as regular as theirs.  (There were also other politics going on that I was not sure of..."he said we should do it this way and she said to do it that way"... and that made me more than irritated some days.)

Well, now I show up when I can squeeze in a morning.  Nothing, of course, has changed.  No one seems to know what is going on.  We had to redo two beds by the front gate and the water had not been turned on, so the plants were transplanted in the hot afternoon waiting for tonight's' rain.  I had been willing to haul plastic buckets of water to the gate...but since no one could find the water key, even that effort was not useful!  One dear lab technician went to his tool kit behind one of the labs and tried a small wrench, but to no avail.  A huge aster that was supposed to be divided and replanted in the fall never got scheduled and so I was told to shovel and pull and dig and tear at this monster with its new spring growth already 4 inches high.

The museum director is a good guy, but he is in the middle of a huge remodel and a grand re-opening in just a few weeks, so I could not even begin to approach him on the issue and his assistant is gone somewhere---wise woman.  They will just have to throw money at brightly colored annual plants the week before and plant then everywhere that is needed.

This is a textbook case in how to NOT treat volunteers that save you thousands of dollars in your budget. 

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Bragging Rights

There is something in my family's genes about getting old that makes us determined to proved we are not.  I remember well the time my 80-something father was up on the roof helping my brother put down shingles on his newly built house.  This was made even more of a concern to us when we drove up and found brother had to run and get nails and dad remained up there waiting!

Well I got a little of that gene. Yesterday we helped son level his lawn to his newly purchased home.  The side lawn was full of dog holes and tree root veins that had collapsed.  It was a great place for spraining an ankle or twisting a back in a fall.  We had agreed to help him with this (which I failed to mention in the prior post) and thus stuck by our word.  We had just not been good about getting a time solidified and that was why it was a bit of a surprise.

In the photo below are 12 bags of top soil and compost...each weighing a ton.  He had to have them delivered this way because he does not have a driveway or garage and companies would only deliver like this.  The four of us moved all 12 tons, spread it on the lawn in two layers, pulled a 250 pound roller after each layer, then seeded with lawn seed, and raked it in.  Today, if son makes it out of bed, he is going to cover the area with peat moss (could not get straw/hay bales) and then spend the next two weeks watering it carefully twice a day.  My bragging rights are that I can now say I helped move 12 tons of soil in one day.

I do know about lawns, and reminded him that the real fun starts when the grass begins growing like weeds and involves LOTS of mowing! 

My joints ache just a little today, so I guess my body is admitting defeat in fighting me on this journey.  Today I work on my herb garden and planting those annuals that I have been trying to get into seedling pots.

Saturday, April 12, 2014


This time in the early spring morning the world is in a waking dream.  The birds sing gently.  The surface of the river is like a clear, perfect mirror.  In the tranquil air, the few dead leaves remaining on the trees hang placid as if forgetting they are hanging by a thread.  Everything lies still waiting for the surprising warmth that is sure to come.  But right now the temperature is perfect.  It is light sweater weather.  It is morning coffee weather.  I check the porch of the big bird house to see if the meal worms I left yesterday are still scattered there.  Blue birds have come and taken them all when I was busy cleaning house. I had company last night and all the dishes were washed in the dishwasher.  This should be my reward time.  A day to plant some annual seeds such as zinnias and sunflowers.  A day to watch birds build nests and dance with their mates.

But I have other obligations yet and again!  My son called last night to tell us he has ordered a truckload of soil and if we could bring up our shovels and the wheelbarrow he plans to level and reseed his back yard on this find Saturday spring day!

Somewhere in Isaiah is written "There is no rest for the wicked," although the word rest is replaced with peace.  My Lord I have plenty of peace in my heart...but I must be very very wicked, because I am still waiting for some rest.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Speaking of Joints

While pot smoking is being legalized, and where not legal, legal consequences are being reduced across the United States, I went to a pot party this afternoon.  Okay...I will wait for you to close you mouths.

The party was being held at the extension office and in attendance were master gardeners and it was called a pot party.  We potted about 700 plants for our plant sale.  None of the plants were cannabis.  I am guessing that is one of the few Latin plant names that most people recognize

I am still running in circles with yard work, spring cleaning and volunteer gardening and hope to get back to real blogging someday soon.

Saturday, April 05, 2014

Where is Tabor?

Lots of them all over the place.
Some are even new to me.

They do not move.  They ache.
Yes, THOSE joints.  I have washed dock benches, washed patio chairs, washed all the bird poop from the deck railings, moved all (well, 90%) of the leaves hiding in the corners of the patio and under the stairs and around the container pots and behind the air conditioner back into the woods. 

I have pruned the pomegranate tree.  One sucker was 6 feet high!

I have weeded two flower beds and pruned back shrubs and roses in those beds.  Now I wait to see what survived this difficult winter.  I lost my large rosemary plant and perhaps the four new shrubs I planted this fall on the retaining wall and certainly a rose or two.

I have taken away the firewood rack and replaced it with the metal bench for the front porch.

Hubby and I took down two bird houses that had rotted and put up three new ones.

I have bleached the bird bath and removed the covers on the outside tables.  I put up all the hoses and found those hiding hose nozzles.

My indoor plants (some) are now outside and I cleaned out the plant corner in the kitchen that was covered in millions of white petals from the citrus trees.

I ache.   I can barely move.  Just turning my head is an effort.  My hands are dried prunes even though I wore gloves.  I am lying like a melted gumby on the couch as I write this.  (I still have lots of stuff to do in the coming days...if I am still here.)

Oh...and there were two birthday parties and a concert by Keb Mo that were squeezed in last week!    Ehhhh!  That is where Tabor has been hiding.

Thursday, March 27, 2014


I used to feel I wanted to be touched.
I waited for not only the physical whispering touch
on the palm of my hand,
but the sweeping touch on my heart,
and the powerful touch on my mind.

The touch that would make me swallow my breath,
give me flight
to soar over the universe
and see all and conquer all
and understand all.

The touch that made me into


The touch 
Kindling a fire that never failed to
burn bright and white hot
for its brief time.

The touch that reduced the impossible
to possible.

The years now trail politely behind me
offering only faint memories of smoke and ash
and little warmth, with a few glowing coals
as I walk away
to meet the not so distant future.

This is the time in my exploration
of the universe
I realize that
I want to be that touch.

I want to electrify,
to be the contingency in others before I die.

I want to punch potency
into others hearts and minds.
I want to send them up on a
spiraling cloud of heat rising
to see the universe with new eyes
and new possibilities.

My ego
Wants them to remember my touch
when they face their not so distant future.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

On the Turn of a Dime!

Spring began to venture into our neck of the woods this weekend.  On the turn of a dime it went from 40F to 70F in a matter of hours.  And with that dime still turning, I persuaded hubby to go on a small hike with me.  We selected a nature preserve that was a long drive from home, but we like looking out the car window, anyway.  Below is where we sat, at the end of a small 1.5 mile hike, at the end of the trail to eat our lunch of granola bars, jerky and apples that had been thrown carelessly into the back pack.  Yes, the ground was prickly and stickery, but I managed to enjoy the first real day of a spring hike in spite of the pine needle floor.

The hike back was quick so we decided to also stop at nearby state park on the bay.  There were others with dogs and kids and all other enjoying this first spring day.  The two in the photo below were probably looking for sharks teeth.

This beach walk was also short so we headed into the seaside town for a Thai-French dinner at an award winning restaurant we had discovered a few years ago.  It was never a disappointment.  I had red curry and hubby had a shrimp noodle special.  We started with wine and spring rolls and glowed like two lovers on a spring day chatting away with three other diners at the next table.

As we left the restaurant, I decided on the turn of a dime, to drive around the little town.  We followed a small road past the central church toward the waters edge where an old dock had not survived the test of time.  An osprey had returned to build his nest and the sun glowed through the clouds with such loving reward, I took more photos.

Then since it was late and we had almost two hours to get back home we regretfully got back in the car and set out GPS for home.  As often happens with technology leading the way, we tend to daydream more than hurry.  About an hour into our trip we had to slow down as several cars were pulled to the side of the road and the cars ahead of us, those that did not pull over, were pumping their brakes and flashing brakes lights.   A young couple were sauntering beside the road, the girl on the phone and the man carrying her purse and other items.  From their demeanor, one figured they had not a care in the world.

Once the cars ahead of us moved past below is what we saw.

We did not stop to assist as so many before had already lined the road.  We hurried by so that we would not be involved in some tank explosion.  The young couple had their day completely changed, on the turn of a dime yesterday.  And, yet, they have much to be thankful for.