within the garden
it’s time for Fall planting. The time of year where a Southerner asks, “Do I dare bother?” With a drought and triple digit temps, we gardeners tease ourselves. Seed packets are scattered before us as we attempt to recall the hope of lushness yet to be realized. Suddenly a hot breeze blows, the sun beats us back into reality. We retreat, back into the air conditioned confines of our human habitat to take refuge, and with given time, we’ll get around to doing what it is that needs doing. And just as we are prepared, word comes that mosquitos carrying the West Nile virus have been discovered down at the local fire station, just four blocks from the house.
Bug spray has been my perfume of choice this summer. A necessity, these days. I’ve personally known two people that have caught this horrible virus. Both were hospitalized for months, and suffered debilitating consequences. Each worked tirelessly to resume their normal lifestyle.
Today is “Debbie Downer Day.” I traveled out into the backyard to snap a few photo’s, and thus remembered that it’s been weeks since I promised we’d revisit the ‘contest’… and I promise we will. Let me give you a glimpse of what it will be based upon:
Just as I was thinking this item had finally “bit the dust,” with it’s curling brown and yellow leaves, I discovered that this sucker is actually regenerating new leaves. Remember when I discovered that she is an invasive species and can wreak havoc upon cotton crops? Thankfully I can report that my neighbors cotton crop is handsomely doing well. Thriving in fact, but I’m afraid that won’t be the case if these pods burst forth with their numerous seeds, become scattered by wind and take up residency on the other side of the stockade fence.
Here’s my game plan: After I write this, I’m going outside and place a large plastic bag over it’s head. Maybe, better yet, I’ll place a large trash receptacle over her head, anchor it down and suffer this girl to the heat of Hades for a week or so. I’ll place heavy rocks atop the barrel to insure that item stays in place!
Normally I’m tame. But today is no normal day. I decided that when I woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning. I tried coffee, music, and watering the beautiful flowers that still bring hope that Hades hasn’t won this round. West Nile virus, a drought and water restrictions just think they have me beat! As I type, I am suddenly feeling better. I’m banishing the blues to that trash can. Talking always helps me feel better. Thanks for listening. I am no longer, “Debbie”… I’m back to being Grounded. ;) Here, let me leave you with a treat. I think everyone deserves a bit of loveliness in their day.
This is for you
And so is this
Life is a journey, not a destination…
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Today is M2’s birthday.
I can’t believe it was 24 years ago that I was welcoming our miracle baby into the world. And a true miracle she was! In the midst of being treated for a brain tumor I was warned that my chances of giving birth to a second child was slim, to none. This news was beyond devastating. Each time a friend and neighbor announced an upcoming birth, I wavered back and forth between extreme happiness for their family, while suffering deep sadness for ours.
When I learned I was pregnant, it was a time of wonder, surprise, but also one of great trepidation. Medications I was taking to suppress tumor growth were stopped, but worry entered into the picture. Not for myself, but for the health of my unborn. Test after test were administered, genetic counseling was one of them, after an amniocentesis was performed.
I threw myself into planning her nursery, refusing to accept that there might be complications and health concerns for either of us. My oldest daughter brought me peace of mind. I would look at her and think to myself, “What a beautiful gift!” I concentrated on the awesomeness of her specialness and refused to go into a negative mode. Together we recreated “her nursery” in blue and white gingham. (I knew M1 was a boy from the day I learned I was pregnant. No one could sway me into thinking of pink gingham, or any other alternative color scheme.) With M2, we were informed of the baby’s gender during the genetic testing and counseling period. The doctor’s wanted to prepare us for any possible challenges, and even though that was twenty-four years ago, I was amazed at what was known and how little public information was available without the access of the medical community. Our family never lost hope.
So, today when I think of a 24th birthday, and I celebrate with M2’s favorite sweets, I give thanks. Our family is truly blessed. Miracles do happen. Never give up on Hope. :)
Happy Birthday, Mallory!
The above lovely ladies are his favorite people. He won't tell you that, but leave it to a group of sisters to embarrass a single male in the midst of raging female hormones. He's not sure how he survived the shame of being the only boy in a group of five women, but we are thankful he hung in there with us. He's our hero. (WARNING: this post contains content not appropriate for anyone under age 21 or anyone that can read. I'm guilty of pranking my beloved brother. Join with me, but don't stand too close to the cake. This fella's turning 65. I'd like to have my upper lip waxed, but these eyebrows are already a bit sparse. If he goes hurricane force on blowing out the candles we're all in trouble!) .....
‘cuse me, I’m typing a birthday wish to my brother, formerly referred to as, Bubba Joe-Fred.
He recently informed me that he’d like a nickname change. Awe shucks, why not oblige
him? I’m blessed with four sister’s and just this single bub, so what the heck! Let’s go rogue
on him and give him the gift that pleases. He wants to be renamed 2BuckChuck. Thinks it fits
A bit better than that Bubba Joe item. Must be something to do with his Wyoming birth roots.
Or perhaps those early days of manhood where ‘wining and dining’ the ladies meant a burger
from the hamburger joint, and a bottle of cheaply, and pungently ‘perfumed’ vino, confiscated
or ‘conveniently’ delivered at said location by a rendezvous resource(s). Memories either fade or
take on a whole new dimension of “reality” when we are in the speed-cycle of life. Let’s help
build this tall tale into high fashion by high noon!
So join in this festive celebration and grab a brewsky. Help Hannah and I sing a few bars of
what has now become his favored song, cuz let’s face it, if this is the SIXTY-FIFTH time he’s
heard it, it becomes sweeter each year you return to hear it! ;)
(Please note that Hannah is ready for a sea rescue. I’m over here saluting, Congratulaions Mr. C.R.W., Retired USN Master Chief, “2BuckChuck”.)
Happy Birthday 2BuckChuck!
Red, White and Blue
Stars and Stripes, too
They fly freely
Because of you
Dedicated to all that have given their lives for our freedom.
Gone, but never forgotten.
*The above photo’s were taken from a Southlake, Texas, business. These flags are dedicated to each person lost on September 11, 2001, in the World Trade Center bombings. Each Memorial Day, without fail, there is a flag placed and flown to honor them. They too, are fallen soldiers, and will never be forgotten.
Thank you, Mr. Claffey.
This is a story about love.
True, pure, and sincere. Nothing rivals this for me. It’s a gift. All of it. It doesn’t belong to me, but to Him. It began years ago, digging in the rich red sand soil of Northern Oklahoma. No children, hubby and I would come from work and toss work clothes aside for yard attire. We’d work, but it never felt like work. It felt like a release, a way to put the day behind us and to see the progress of seed packets, rainfall, good dirt, a sprinkling of hose water now and then.
FIrst it was chemical fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides, as we strived to create our wonderland. And somewhere, along the way, we learned about organic gardening. We threw ourselves into reading all we could. The journey had begun. We would find some summers a true battle, plucking tomato worms and tossing them to their death by drowning within water buckets we carried as we scoured the plants. Squash bugs gave us quite a run for our money, too. Once they hit one plant, I’d pull up the entire plant and discard it into the trash bin in hopes of keeping ahead of their onslaught. I recall losing all my zucchini and crooked neck squash one year, only to be blessed with a massive amount of Peter Pan’s and Blue Hubbard’s squash.
We taught ourselves, over time, to develop our beloved compost pile. We treasured it and treated it as a poster child for all things, wonderful. I’ll never forget the early frosty morning I looked out the kitchen bay window and announced to hubby, “Look, is that steam coming off of the compost?”
We jumped from our seats and ran wildly into the garden. I rather doubt we even thought about a major fire fight damaging our house and the rest of the neighborhood. We had read about this! We were witnessing smoke and fire with overwhelming joy. A compost pile so active it was producing gases that would give promise to a wonderful free fertilizer and soil conditioner come Spring planting. We also took to turning the pile, fully, each day, being sure to get the most out of our goodies, and to insure the pile didn’t ignite into a fully flaming inferno.
We live in North Texas these days.
We still compost, but we are not fortunate to have a free space sitting openly that can benefit from full sun for the better part of the day. We’ve had to shift our strategies, but that has not hindered nor discouraged our ongoing obsession. Have a look at a few of our options:
Old wood log storage, used for wood burning fireplaces.
Notice the green trash cans? Those are used during the winter when there is an over abundance of waste from trees shedding leaves. The bit of red you see leaning inside the frame? My beloved pitch fork used to turn my pile.
Here’s my new invention. I read about it last year. Wish I could recall where, because I would love to compliment and give credit where credit is due:
I came across a group of men installing a new landscape bed. They had a massive amount of these black plant pots they were just tossing into the back of their truck. I asked if I could purchase a few. They refused my offer and told me to help myself.
These particular ones are heavy-duty, have large drainage slits and work beautifully for composting ‘on-site’ and with the added bonus, acting two-fold. Instead of using a drip system, or making the mistake of watering the whole plant, these allow me to water and feed, gradually. Sincerely kids, I have not fed my chard, and tomorrow will be my third harvest!
Do you see the large leafed plant at the bottom of this photo? That’s comfrey. A plant that any serious organic gardener MUST locate and plant! Be prepared to water this thirsty little girl a lot the first and second year, but once fully established it will send a rather large taproot to a moisture source. Where ever you plant her/him, give it room to grow, to spread, to overtake. And never look back in despair. By cutting the leaves and the flowers and cramming them into a container that can be sealed, you are onto making one of natures most amazing fertilizers. (I have three rescued cats and go through large buckets of litter.) I will pack a container fully, snap on the lid and set it aside until I need to give an item a boost. Eventually, this mass of leaves will turn into a stinky dark liquid that you can dilute and use at your convenience.
Look what the week ahead holds promise of…day lilies. Multitudes! I do have a concern, and I guess this is where I best express it so maybe others can learn from it. I was gifted the native orange ‘ditch lily’ or as some call it, ‘tiger lily.’ I gleefully brought them home two years ago and placed them among my prized other day lilies, some of heirloom and prize-winning standards. I will be ill if I discover cross-breeding has affected my special specimens. If you hear a loud shout and wail coming from the south, you’ll know it’s that lady from Texas that has been wounded by her greed.
I’m growing this for a very special niece, well, actually, all of my nieces are special, but this one holds a place in my heart as if she were my third daughter. As many of you may know, I don’t have grandchildren, but Josie is mom to two beautiful children that treat their ‘Auntie M’ as if she is as important as a grandmother. What’s really nice, the other two grandma’s tolerate this and only add to the specialness. Well…on to the story. Josie’s hubby, my nephew, is a women’s collegiate basketball coach. An amazing young man, dedicated to his family, his team and his faith. At one point Josie and Aaron moved to Texas. I had a small yucca sitting off in an area of the yard that I didn’t know what to do with. Then along came the kids. They were excited to get some transplants for their new home, it was in need of some outside fashion accessories. I obliged. Along with other items, Josie asked if she could have that Yucca. Thank goodness, the orphan found a home! What’s even more amazing, it bloomed for her, prolifically. Warp into the future and another yucca sprouts. This time I dug it up and named it, Josie’s plant. That sucker is going wild! Currently the family resides in the N.E. region of Arkansas. I’d like to transport it to them, but at this point we need a truck. And we’ll need a forklift if it spends another summer at ‘Auntie M’s.
This was today.
I should see an abundance of butterflies soon. Each day I encounter more bee’s; different types, too. This makes my heart sing. We need our bee’s. Their decline will bring our decline. Plant just one plant that they can feed upon. And don’t worry, they are not there to sting you. Don’t swat at them, nor bother the area they are working. Let’s give bee’s a chance. Please, and thank-you. :)