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Posts tagged ‘gardening’

Spring, Sprang, Sprung

It’s here today and gone tomorrow. Spring finally showed up and I put out my welcome sign. In the next moment, we went back to winter then summer and finally spring again. What we had of spring was lovely  Everything is confused except the bees. I’m listening to them.

 

Dressing in layers is the only way to go these days. We get a cold rainy day then a scorcher.  One day I have lots of energy to put into the yard  The next day I’m spinning my wheels and sitting trying to decide if I can do anything of use.  I’ve been here in my cozy home for four years at the end of this month and made so many changes.

 

Spring is the month I can get the most work done outside and even inside. Once I could open all the windows, I took a day to clean my oven. Four years ago, it took 4 hours to clean that nasty mess the previous owner left for me. Now it’s taking me a whole day to clean a rarely used oven. Looks like some of my spring, sprang.

Ground cover spreading and front porch in need of serious help.

Weeding on the hill and the front yard took lots of rest periods that would never have happened four years ago. But the end result was worth it.

 

The entire top of the hill was covered in these sticker weeds. Birds carry the seeds everywhere as does the wind.

 

 

beginning of the weeding

 

Still more work to do but a good start. Lower bed is the Oregano and Thyme.

I have been gifted with pieces of many plants from friends around here. I take those gifts seriously and nurture them to the best of my ability. Of course, I gift in return. A neighbor came looking for Thyme to cook his dinner.He said what I gave would have cost him $5 for a small bundle, he wound up with triple for a thank you. I’ve offered my Oregano as well to anyone that wants fresh. I’ve passed on ground cover and anything that I’m growing that can be split. It’s how the world should work. I get a lot of my plants from a fellow blogger and photographer, Sabine.

There are lots of projects on the list. This week I had the distinct urge to take care of my window trim as it was the last cool, cloudy day on the sunny side of the house. If the butterfly bush blooms, it will be covered in bees which are not conducive to standing on the ladder with black paint. I’m embarrassed to say it’s taken two years to get to this. I’ll do the one on the front porch tomorrow. Then I must sand the stairs and railing on the front porch and re-stain. Today I can’t move. Old feet on ladders takes its toll. I’ll wait for the next surge of energy.  They don’t come so often anymore.

So I’ve hung up the Welcome Summer sign since my spring is sprung anyway. How about you? Are you ready to welcome the next season or is there still a spring in your step?

This one goes up Memorial Day and stays until after Labor Day.

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

 

September’s Celebration

My favorite month is half over in the blink of an eye. Two weeks gone but they were fully loaded. You remember the lonely Aster flower on September first?

This Aster has its own calendar

Well two weeks brought quite a change in the plant and in the weather. We are going from the upper 90-degree temps to mid-70’s and starting next week, we will get to the 60’s with a full week of rain. This is what I call race weather. I race to get everything outside done and buttoned up for whatever comes next. There is no second guessing the weather these days. You must be ready for anything.

Asters halfway through September

September is a busy month around here. It starts out with lots of birthdays. I get mine early and then many friends and family fall in line until the month is just one big celebration. My daughter and I had a simple Saturday together on my birthday. I felt a little giddy as I waved farewell to the last of my 60’s.

A special blogging friend knows me so well. I really wanted that book too.

First, we visited our favorite metaphysical bookstore downtown to see what was new. I spotted the pretty journals that I did not need but this one made it into my daughter’s shopping bag. I’m going to write my goals and dreams for the next year in it to start the 70’s out right. It was presented to me over a luscious lunch at a tiny Italian place within walking distance of the bookstore. They are known for their criminally delicious desserts of which we had to partake. There was a candle in the cake and Happy Birthday written on the plate.

My son gifted me with the laptop, refurbished with a hard drive that should not break if it was jostled. Now I can visit with everyone again.

Some of the cards that graced my day.

On the way to lunch, wait for it, we saw there was no line at the Salt and Straw!!! It was only 11 a.m. but I had never been able to get in to try their ice cream. It’s famous in Portland, Oregon for its locally sourced and organic ingredients. Lines usually going around the block all day. Dessert before lunch? Well it was my birthday and they were all but waiting for me. I had to try it once.

We did a lot of walking that day to work off the lovely lunch getting home as the 90 plus degree temps invaded our day and we settled in to sit and read.

The first and last part are most applicable to me.

September is my favorite month as the autumn descends upon us and cool things down. Remind me of this post when you see me lamenting the cold and gloomy months ahead. I love the cold over heat but will miss the fresh tomatoes from my garden that I munch on as I work outside.

The big ones had a hard time, The little tomatoes were prolific

I will miss the hard physical work of hauling mulch up the terrace steps and the weeds that always seem to grow better than the flowers. Mostly, I will miss the long daylight hours as days shorten into longer nights. This is the month of transition from summer to winter as autumn here, only gives us a brief wave and moves on.

Are you ready for the changing seasons? What is your favorite month?

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

 

 

 

 

 

Paying It Forward

This post is about gratitude. Deep gratitude. In the weeks since my last post, my gratitude list has increased exponentially. The kindness, support and ideas I have received from the blogging community has been almost overwhelming. It’s given me the strength and courage to press on, persevere and work on some of their ideas for helping others.

One of many roses that have bloomed to cheer me.

I ventured into our employment service here and registered as well as speaking with a Work Source assistant. She looked at everything I had filled out and realizing I had not held a job since the mid 90’s, with a spotty history of employment, (I  was the full-time caregiver for several family members after that time) she suggested that I check out nursing homes for possible volunteering, potentially checking out my next residence at the same time.  In not so many words it was gently implied that I am not particularly employable. I had an inkling of that fact already. I’m still not ruling it out. So on to option B. Whatever that may be.

We clocked the distance with the car. 1.5 miles straight up.

I take my walks now saying my gratitude’s out loud (softly, so the neighbors don’t think I’ve slipped a cog). I start with the list of what I CAN do. It’s quite lengthy. I CAN still walk.

I was able to help my 78 year old friend lift this into the cart. I CAN.

In all of this, I can still give. My friend, Emily gave me a couple of charity quilt tops she no longer wanted to finish. The pieces were all cut, all I had to do was sew them together following the pattern she gave me. I have one done. Finished this month’s quilt squares for the group charity quilt. I’m also still able to pick up a friend who is no longer able to drive and deliver her home.

Blogging friends have given me so many ideas that I have taken to heart. One has also suggested that in light of my understanding about how even the best of our plans can go sideways, sometimes we need a bit of a lift through a rough patch. I’m lucky that I have family and friends. Many are not so lucky. So we need to find a way to network and help each other.

I network here with local friends. We exchange plants so each of us can have something from the others. I’ve shared many pieces of my ever expanding ground cover, succulents, and exchanged several cordial glasses for a bottle of homemade Limoncello and a garden umbrella with stand to have on top of the terrace. Nice trade, right? I’m going to try making that friend a new swing cover. I’m looking at what I have here to work with to make, share or sell to help others as well as myself.

We are having a neighborhood yard sale this weekend. Hopefully some of my extra stuff can find new homes. Tech Support is here for the week and I’m hoping we can set up a website for networking while he is here. No outside projects this time. Instead of last year’s 100 degree temps, we have RAIN and 60 degrees!

The Rhodi’s where huge this year. Just needed a little love.

How do you find ways to pay it forward?

I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do.~ Edward Everett Hale

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

 

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What Spring?

It’s here, technically. Too warm to snow must mean spring. April showers and all that stuff. Well, we have had plenty of those. We had our wettest March on record and April has been no slouch. Our flowering trees didn’t.

Add high winds to that rain and you have a disaster in the making. My neighbor directly across from me has lost a major portion of her back yard and the two on either side of her have lost quite a bit as well. When I finally got a look at it, I was thinking a moving truck was in order immediately. Somehow, everyone there seems comfortable sleeping at night. The management, landscape and work crews from the park as well as the owner are here almost every day to check and see if anything has changed. There are no trespassing signs up and plastic fencing to keep everyone away. I didn’t get a photo being too stunned by what I saw. The buck is being passed around quite liberally.

High winds took down the fountain and brought someones metal roofing into my yard.

Two doors down from the major portion of the slide I noticed a rather tall tree that I don’t think had been leaning before taking direct aim at the house where an infirmed woman lives with her grandson. I was concerned. So I did what I could. I talked to the neighbor that knows everyone and everything. She said she would mention it to one of the work crew. I watched the tree as our April winds picked up and lo and behold, there was the entire entourage from park owner, management and crew watching as a professional outfit dressed to tackle the job. I have to admit, I got very little done that day other than watching the process. An old friend’s words came back to me as I watched, “You can’t beat a man at his own game.” The professional tree trimmer made short, safe work of the project.

My friend, Emily was coming over to organize fabric with me and I had to admit to my preoccupation with watching the poor tree come down. I hate to see trees get cut but this one had clearly lost its footing and was possibly going to hurt several people.

This week was a bit more productive. My friend, Sabine brought me a Forsythia bush she had started from one of hers and some ground cover. It took all day for me to carry buckets of heavy, wet clay out of a hole to the top of the terraces so I could plant the shrub. I got my exercise that day. The ground is a soggy mess with no drainage. I’ve added amendments and quality soil to give it a good start. The climbing rose bushes I dug out by the front steps last fall have oddly survive the serious neglect they got before going into more of that miserable clay in the back. The two lower terraces have been weeded, and hydrangea’s trimmed up.

 

In between my naps, visits with friends, and some organizing, I somehow got a baby blanket made getting some of baby girl flannel out of my tubs and to good use. I also was able to celebrate my daughter’s birthday with her at a new Tea Shoppe. They were very nice but the food left something to be desired. I was just happy we could spend the day together before she headed to the beach with friends.


So how is your spring shaping up? Is the cold hanging on or is it being skipped for shades of summer already?

“In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.” ~ Margaret Atwood, Bluebeard’s Egg

 

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

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A Cure for the Blahs

It’s almost the middle of February! Where the heck did the time go? And where has everyone been? Like myself, so many other bloggers that I follow have been curiously absent. After the holidays, and the push to get my place livable again, I found myself sitting in my chair in the den after waking up in the morning and staying there till it was time to feed the body. I read, watched some news, always in fast forward with the sound off until they came to something that didn’t make my blood pressure rise and then I was tired and took a nap. It was a bad routine of sitting and barely motivating myself to read much less write a post.

Maybe it was the full moon that caused the blahs?

Maybe it was the full moon that caused the blahs?

I was lucky to see it will all the cloud cover

I was lucky to see it will all the cloud cover

Research was necessary. I found my journals from previous years and discovered  there was a pattern. The after Christmas letdown. Some years it was like I had gone into hibernation. When you don’t have a job, it’s easier to do but I think the need was there even when I was working. Retirement age makes hibernation easy. It seems so many are struggling with a lethargy from the post-election time through the holiday until the first signs of spring peaks through.

A new book to cheer me on.

A new book to cheer me on.

I’ve been sending out e-mail and cards to blogging friends and other friends to check on them. I learned years ago that the quickest way to feel better was to reach out to others. Many of us get caught in a rut and don’t know which way to go next. We feel…blah.  My friend at Gardening Nirvana must have had the same idea.

Today started out slow again with good intentions. You know what they say about good intentions and the road to hell being paved with them. By mid-afternoon I forced myself out of my chair to the top of the terraces in order to bury more green waste. I had planned a walk that didn’t happen so instead I grabbed the rake and shovel. After digging two large holes and burying the green waste, I raked a great deal of the debris that had fallen from the trees in the last wind and rain and snow storms this winter. That’s pretty good exercise for me. Getting ready to invite spring. Then I noticed spring was popping up its little head. I’m thinking that spending more time out there will smack the blahs right in the tush and get me moving again.

The blueberry bush was a gift from my friend that also blogs at “incahootswithmuddyboots”

 

Are you coming out of the winter blahs or do you just power through without a problem?

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

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Summer Vacation?

August is just beginning and I’ve let two months go by without a post. I wasn’t sure I had another one in me. I think it’s because I’ve had so much going on that I didn’t have the brain energy to do more than journal about it at night. If I didn’t, I couldn’t remember what all I had done that day. I’m supposed to be retired and I guess that’s true, I’m re-tired. Over and over again. Tired when I get up, and beat when I fall into bed. It’s summer vacation time, right? I think I’ll declare today a vacation day.

So far my son, with my second pair of hands holding and fetching, completed the replacing of the old deck adding a second set of stairs. Stairs are not easy.

I painted three sides of my house and all the trim. He did the really high spots. He built two gates, I painted or stained them.

He used up some of the old wood from the old deck to build planter boxes.

I painted, with several coats the driveway divider between my place and my neighbors. It makes the driveway area much lighter. I planted the boxes to try my hand at gardening. Then there was the cleanup work of stuffing leftover lumber under the deck out of sight and putting up the skirting I painted.

two coats of sealer and two of outdoor paint barely covered this awful wood. For neighbors privacy

two coats of sealer and two of outdoor paint barely covered this awful wood. For neighbors privacy

We were shooting for a June first completion date with the expectation of this year’s inspection on the property. As life or luck would have it, we now have new property managers and so far, there has been no word of inspections…yet. We were also hurrying to get everything done including inside projects as my son was leaving to go help someone else out-of-state. He put up new outside light fixtures and curtain rods so I could get the curtains made later ( you’ll see those next time), then cleaned out his room on the off-chance of guests.

A little more girly now.

A little more girly now.

We have been moving stuff all spring and summer. I’m ready for a day or two at the beach. Instead, I pressure washed the deck, patio, and driveway.

 

cleaned driveway, deck and back patio.

cleaned driveway, deck and back patio.

 

If they want to inspect, I’m ready. Maybe now I can think straight enough to get some pictures together to go with this rambling. This isn’t all I did this summer. The rest will come shortly, I promise. The brain is starting to work again.

Have you had anything that looks like a summer vacation? I can live vicariously. Please share.

 

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

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Show no Mercy

Relentless is what I am when it comes to weeds. There are hundreds and thousands of them up on the hill and all through the terraced beds. The winter wind and rains whipped them down and planted them deep into the clay soil. Once it dries, it’s like digging in rock. There isn’t a weed that is safe around me. I show no mercy when I see one. So far I have filled the entire green waste can to the top three times and made a huge stack next to it. Once it’s emptied, I fill it back up again. My last husband thought I had a vendetta against weeds. The weeds were quiet.  I liked that about them.

Then comes the real trick. What to plant to crowd out the possible weeds that want to grow back in that empty space? You know the phrase, nature abhors a vacuum.

I am growing arm muscles now and stretching leg muscles as I attack those wily beasts.

During the last hard rain we had, I saw a neighbor out with her umbrella over her head, mud boots on her feet, looking down at her yard. Once I was back inside, I shot off a text asking what she was doing out there. Was she playing in the rain? No, came her reply. “I’m trying to intimidate my weeds.” I’m still laughing. She must be doing a good job of it because there are no weeds in her yard. At 76, with macular degeneration, profound hearing loss and her new cane for the blind, she is determined to keep up her yard. It’s beautiful, front and back. This lady lifts boulders to place around her plants. She shows no mercy to her weeds either.

For many of us, this kind of yard work is meditative. I can do it for hours unless the sun is being relentless as well. Covered from head to toe for protection from the sun, I can sit in the dirt and play quietly with deep contentment for hours. I need no music. Nature provides that. The birds supply my conversation and all my cares find themselves in that little red bucket with the weeds.

My 5 gallon red bucket gets stuffed then emptied

My 5 gallon red bucket gets stuffed then emptied

They have done their job for the winter months, holding the soil to keep it where it needs to be. Now I will do mine and mercifully plant something without stickers in their place.

Made from the wood of the old deck. Nothing going to waste. Shoveled 2 1/2 yards of good soil but didn't need it all.

Made from the wood of the old deck. Nothing going to waste. Old gate for the snap peas to grow on. Shoveled 2 1/2 yards of good soil but didn’t need it all.

There are many kinds of weeds in life. Relationships that no longer serve, old crafts that no longer call to you, even clutter is like a weed that needs to be culled to make room for something new and better. If you don’t replace it with something better, more clutter continues to grow.

Where in life are you relentless? What are the weeds in your life?

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself