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Posts tagged ‘gardening’

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

 

 

Up to No Good

Up to no good. That’s the answer I usually give when someone asks me what I’m up to these days. Ask my daughter the same question and she will give the flip answer, “5’7”.  She’s kind of a smart a**. How do you answer a question like that quickly?  I can’t.

I’ve been almost busy and mostly lazy. Catching up on reading blogs, or more accurately, trying to, but they come in a lot faster than I can read and comment.

The work on the house had slowed for a while. In between rainstorms, my son built a side yard gate. I held pieces and parts while he put it together, then I stained it. Holding pieces and parts is important work.

I wanted it to look like it's always been there

I wanted it to look like it’s always been there

We started painting the house again. My son did the high stuff on the roof line. I took the rest. It’s slow work with a paintbrush. I finally got a small roller so I can move a bit faster on the rest but the cold rain slowed us down.

Everyone should have a kid on the roof. Take a look underneath.

Everyone should have a kid on the roof. Take a look underneath.

Not before we tried our hand at using the paint sprayer for the underside of the back porch roof. Talk about a messy job. We tented the whole area and he wore a respirator so as not to breathe in over-spray. Days later, he says he could still smell the paint. It’s the only way to paint large areas over your head. More progress soon.

I have pulled lots of weeds and will get to them again soon. The entire upper hill was covered in them but I managed to clear enough to plant 3 lilac bushes. Planted a few daisies and more ground cover including some a generous neighbor gave me. She was clearing something out of her perfect yard that is called Snow on the Mountain and it’s supposed to be a good ground cover as well. Some of my hyacinth bulbs are coming up in spite of the fact I may have planted them too late.

I’d be outside working or working on a sewing project but it all has to wait a bit longer. I had cataract surgery on Thursday in hopes of correcting the blurriness in the only eye that’s useful. So far so good. It will take a bit of time to heal but I should be able to resume my work in a couple of days so I’m watching the weather for the perfect temp to paint and weed. Meanwhile, quilting and writing are on the back burner, simmering, smoldering, ready to ignite. Since my glasses aren’t working now, a new pair will be ordered in about 6 weeks when the healing is complete Good thing I can make the print big so I can at least keep working here.

 

So what are you up too? I hope it’s something interesting and fun or at least tall.

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

In Search of What’s up

Have you ever been so tired that even your fingernails hurt? That’s how I felt the last few nights after a long days of manual labor. Hard physical work is good for the body but my body keeps screaming, “You’re too old for this.”

For Alys. My fairy garden lives

For Alys. My fairy garden lives

 

Once cooler weather arrived, I was out the door trying to get the projects done that were on the list from the HOA. These are required to be done for this home that was not well cared for the past 10 years. I let a lot slip by when assessing this place for purchase. Now I really pay. In addition, I have a list of my own of things that I want done outside. My mind is totally occupied with these lists and the work being done.

Filling front porch with flowers out of the heat

Filling front porch with flowers out of the heat

 

Welcome to my home The porch needs to be resealed

Welcome to my home The porch needs to be resealed

I pressure washed the driveway side of the fence.  Tech Support did most of the rest of the fences. Now all four sides are done and ready to stain. I’m ready to do it too. I’m not sure if my body agrees. Hopefully the weather continues to cooperates and keeps the intense heat at bay.

 

Each morning I have been planting flowers and ground cover called stepables. You can walk on them just like grass and don’t have to mow. I am tired of mowing weeds so they had to go. Ground cover went down a little at a time. I used a lot of cardboard then weed block cloth. We aren’t allowed to have weeds here. I think you can be evicted for them. They give you a warning first.

 

I had 5 yards of bark dust delivered. I measured the yard and asked how much it would take to cover it. I really thought they were wrong and almost ordered 10 yards. Tech Support talked me out of it. Thank goodness!

The amount is hard to explain. It's a LOT!

The amount is hard to explain. It’s a LOT!

 

It took 3 hours of me working alone to shovel it out of the driveway into a 4 wheeled cart so it could go out back. Then Tech Support arrived home and worked with me another 2 and a half. As we were getting to the last of the pile, a neighbor boy showed up who had helped move my boulders when I moved in. He wanted to help. He was bored, like most teenagers when school is out. He has some developmental difficulties but is a good young man and a hard worker. I offered him $10 dollars and he had the rest shoveled and in the back yard in less than 30 minutes. Best $10 I ever spent.

From the driveway to the other side of the house

From the driveway to the other side of the house

What’s left is spreading the bark mulch, placing landscape logs between it and the river rock that I placed around the perimeter of the house to keep mud off, staining the fences, painting the house, and pressure washing the front porch so it can be resealed. All before autumn rains.

Going this way too

Going this way too

In addition to all the planting on the terraces, I found a need to spray paint my plastic chairs that I keep up there to rest a minute. My next door neighbor on the porch side kept asking if I would give them back to her as she needed them now. She started asking other neighbors if they would get her chairs for her. Each time she asks, I explain they are mine and I brought them with me. That satisfies her for a few moments but with Alzheimer’s, it’s an endless loop. I spoke to her son and he had locked her chairs up because she kept bringing them into the house. I finally convinced him to put one on her porch for her. Making mine a different color was the easiest solution. Alzheimer’s is something I would not wish on anyone.

My chair on the hill

My chair on the hill

My Chair on the hill after

My Chair on the hill after

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I love summer because we can be outside. I enjoy all the work and find much of it meditative. It just doesn’t leave much of me for anything else. I’ll pop back by when I can but you can bet I’m probably up to my elbows in stain, paint or dirt.  Maybe next summer will be a little less work and leave more time for the writing I haven’t been able to concentrate on.

I didn't paint it but it's too true.

I didn’t paint it but it’s too true.

 

That’s what’s up in my world, what’s up in yours?

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself