Sunday, April 21, 2013

War of the Roses: Part 2

What a difference a day makes. New arbor and new outlook. 1st, I disconnected from technology for a few hours. This is very rare for me. And much needed. Then I got busy where I left off..........


What I learned......do the things you love to do for the sake of doing them....not the outcome. The outcome isn't guaranteed but there is joy in the process. (and a little pain...if we're talkin bout roses.) Joy, and pain....like sunshine...and rain! Sorry, had to break into a lil old school Rob Base.......

Ok, where was I? .....the process. OK. Set the new arbor in and dumped the quick cement. Easy, breezy, cover girl! love that stuff. It was a little wide but my brick path is already there so it is what it is! (oh yeah......those bricks were free too! Almost caused a divorce but......heeheee.....they are mine now!)

Then onto moving the rose canes back up an over......omg! Seemed a lot easier than it was but I couldn't just leave my poor babies out there so.........


This is the throw and go method. Throw as much as you can then go as fast as you can so you don't get smacked with a flying, thorny rose vine!!! I don't endorse this method but it is what I did with the 1st cane.

The chair and rake are to be used in the process. I am height challenged so I jumped on that chair at least 40 times!! The rake is for when I meant business and wanted to manhandle the canes. "come here cane....get over here!"
You get the picture!

I really need to design a line of garden duds......I look crazy! heehee

Ok, so.........finished the right side and then onto the monster.......5 huge canes and all the vines you can imagine. Oh boy! What to do..........



I separated them slowly and lifted and tried to train them just a little. I will work on training as the new vines that are in bud now grow out. But I got them on. Whew. I had to cut 3 bags of vines. Big huge ones......bent them by accident, poking out, whatever....many had to go. And I felt frustrated. What if I killed the thing.....geez. I realized back in my cold damp yard that sometimes you have to take a loss to make a gain. Do your best and keep it moving.
I felt so energized that I did some more clean up and re-purposed the rusty rails from my old arbor in my raised beds for chime hangers. Woop! I just couldn't live with trashing the whole thing......y'all know I couldn't do it! When I finally called it a night and started heading in I turned and snapped this pic....
You can see the chime hanging in the back on the old black arbor post......woopwoop! That is gonna crack me up every time I look at it! heehee

It may not be magazine glam but I build this entire garden plant by plant. Some from friends and some from strangers. I have been covered in dirt and worked til it hurt..........and it is mine. There is nothing but love back there. In my mind it is the grandest thing.........when I have a visitor I give them a tour as if they were visiting a castle in England. And.....I am ending another day feeling so very thankful. And that is real talk!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

War of the Roses....Part 1

Let me just say...........I love my roses. Like, I am madly in love with them. At last count I have 26 total and the truth is.....I have not paid for any of them. That's right....not one. One was a gift from my sister and another a housewarming gift......the rest were from Craigslist. I cannot make this up. And, truth be told.....this makes me love them even more!



Seven years ago when I started my secret garden I had dozens of magazines and even more ideas and a very limited budget. (ummm.....limited meaning non existent!!) Now, the front of my house is very manicured. It looks like a responsible person lives here. Heehee! It is neat, and trim, and the grass has stopped folks driving by to say.....how did you get that grass so green!? But.....it's not FUN! Nope.........no fun. And a girl needs fun, mystery, color............and if you have a ton of space to fill....you need $$$$$! Ha!

Enter Craigslist. The ad said Free Roses. And well, if it's free....it's for me. Off I went at 7am with my shovel, gloves, and 2 wawa coffees. The young couple lived in a lovely home with tons of roses. Yup, tons. They were having a baby and didn't want the poor lil thing to get pricked. Now, in my mind I am thinking....what are you naming this baby? Sleeping beauty? Who worries about rose pricks before the baby gets here? Oy......I digress. Their worry....my gain. I dug those suckers out, loaded the car, and had thorns and vines flapping out the windows like I was a crazy woman. I planted them and you could not tell me I didn't have an official English Garden. Lots of swapping, and splitting, and a few years later and well.....now I have a problem.

The one item I did purchase for the garden was an arbor. Oh and she was cute too. Black wrought iron with a gate that closed. Love her! I put up the 1st lil pitiful vine and in my dreams it was overflowing........
then my dreams became a reality. And my rosebabies have been the hit of many a party and small Garden Tours. (ok, so the only ones that tour are my Godchildren and neighbors but....a tour is a tour)

Anyhoo.....the roses have gotten heavy and the winters have been harsh and it is time to get a new arbor. So I had to remove the one that's there. And save my babies in the process. Here is where I started:
Rust and damage. ugh!

Hot mess right here!

Old canes and split seams! Oh my!
Where to start...what to do! Lordy lordy! I popped up the hoody, gloved up, and prepared to do battle. I had done such a great job of training the bushes that detangling them was a job for a pro........ummm....I guess I am a pro because y'all already know I was NOT paying someone to help with roses that I had not paid for the begin with......grrrrrr. Ok, I am going in!!!

Started by uprooting the cement.......
                                                                      oh yeah! I am a boss. lol

Disconnected the top and pried off piece by piece to detangle slowly. ..... Ok.....this was full on crazy. Vines flying everywhere, completely wrapped with thorns sticking me.....omg, omg, omg!

Gangsta! I know my nosey neighbor was in the window waiting for me to get jacked! Too bad.....I did the damn thing! Woop!
The more progress I made, the more of a mess I was in. The whole experience reminded me of getting my hair combed on Sunday nights for school. My mom would say, "Did you brush your hair?" "Of course!" would be my reply. The truth is that I brushed the top but left the rest in knots. So when she got a hold of me.....Lord have mercy! So, it was like that with me and the bush. Instead of a comb......I had a shovel. I sounded just like Annette (my Mom) when I was screaming at the roses to hold still! Get over there! Don't move!! HAHAHA! And just like my younger self those poor bushes squirmed and shrieked...(well, they really didn't shriek but in my mind they were because I was tearing them up with that shovel trying to make some progress!)
By this time I feel like I have done battle and need a ref to come and count me out.....something! I am dying!

I swear this pic reminds me of how I used to look with my wild hair turned upside down ready for my mom to get at me with the comb. I'm telling y'all I could hear this bush saying....Don't do it! Don't do it! This is gonna hurt!!!
The clean up is just starting!


FINISHED! Parted that head right down the middle and ready for two pony tails.
Oh wait.....these are rose bushes! My bad!
So, here they are.....laid out waiting for the new arbor. I am hoping they wont go into extreme shock. I have some special treats for them tomorrow (lil coffee grounds and eggshells) to make them feel better and I am truly sorry for what I put them through. (and what I put me through!!) But for now.....the War of the Roses  has to be continued..........I need to get the Bengay out and map out my erection plan (get your head out of the gutter.....Arbor erection) for the AM. I said I wanted to be a gangsta gardener but this battle was a doozie on my back, and legs, and ummm.....my arms.....my everything. More to come....tune in next time! Real talk!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Best "Nest"ern!!

Fly on over.....I'll leave the light on for ya! My obsession with the backyard bird house, feeder, watching continues! I have converted the FlyThru to the Best "Nest"ern! That's right. I have a full on birdfeeder next to this tree so my feathered friends can still do a "FlyThru" ........more like a "Dive-in" really, but....you get it. They are not hungry. But...what about nest supplies? Where do you go if you are a suburban bird trying to find affordable housing? My soffits are NOT available. So.........enter some ribbon and string and yarn! Woopwoop!
The Best NEST-ern and the elusive RedHeaded woodpecker doing a check in.


 Why do I delight in this lil hobby? Well...Because is captures all the things I love in the small square of my windowpane!

It's free!! Pretty much. I buy a huge bag of food every 2 months or so.......but it's usually on sale and never more than $11 bucks! For hours of entertainment? Yepper!
It's beautiful!! The colors..........omg! The colors are spectacular. Take a peek.......





It's exciting!! Have you ever seen two Bluejays go at it? Mmmm,mmmm, mmmm! Better than Floyd Mayweather on HBO and waaaaaaaaaaayyyyyy cheaper! And no trash talking.........but a whole lot of squawkin! Heehee!
I used to think "bird watching" was for older folks.......or for boring people.....crazy right? I had no clue!  Funny enough, right after I popped in my 1st feeder, I was on Walnut Street in Philadelphia when 3 little old black ladies stopped my husband and I. Totally random. They gave us a flyer that was for the bird society. I cannot even make this up. They told us real quick all of the joy they had found in the birdies and how they were very "high" up in their bird society. It was sooo funny because my husband looked at me like it was a total set up. They looooooved him...and he was smitten with them. He held on to that flyer and talked of how cute they were all night. Don't say anything but.....I have caught him a few times paused in front of the office window.....checking out the activity in the tree. Those ladies would be proud! heehee
So, get at it. Find a spot. Pop up a $5 feeder. See what comes your way. And when your day is even slightly gloomy.....seeing one of these beautiful creatures is sure to give it a lil brightness. And that is some real talk! Chirp chirp!



Sunday, April 7, 2013

Sibling revelry!

These two.......where to start? Well if you follow along you know that in one month we will be celebrating the completion of my daughter's schooling and her going off 10 hours away from me to do surgery. (still trying to digest the 10 hour thing)

And it fills me up with pride and it's hard to talk of anything else but the energy that makes me want to explode from joy is little to do with her being a doctor and everything to do with where it all started.

Here they are..........8 and 5. Just looking at this picture causes my eyes to overflow. It is like rubbing a scar.....a reminder of pain and hurt but a talisman that you survived and are still here! At the time of this photo we had been staying at the National Institute of Heath in Bethesda Maryland for 2 weeks. We had just spent 4 months at the Children's hospital of Philadelphia and would not come home for 2 more months. Yep.....you did the math right....6 months hospitalized. Not one day home for my sweet boy. For her it was different. Shuffling around while her parents figured this illness thing out. Worrying about her brother. And on one of these visits vowing to become a Doctor to help figure things out. Seriously.....I can't make this up.

Over the next 20 years we would visit the hospital like folks visit relatives. Greeting doctors and nurses like family members you are happy to see but would rather be somewhere else. She kept studying and he kept trying to stay healthy...................so far....so good. As his visits to the National Institute of Health continue to this day......things were brought full circle with her being awarded a grant from them for the research that would later connect to her PhD.

I used to know everything about them......ha. Now I know they tell each other far more than they share with me. And that is why I am sooo happy and proud. My goal wasn't to raise a child for a certain profession. My goal has always been to raise good people. Contributing adults. Siblings that will love each other as I have loved them. I often hear the question...."Am I my brother's keeper?" Look at these two and you better know it. And as a mother it gives me peace......one day they may not have me......but they will have each other. Real talk people.......real talk!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Note from Nic.......my solution for sadness

I am a cheerful person. I have been described as unrealistically cheerful. I don't do sadness. I mean......I grieve, I get angry, but I don't have dark periods or embrace grey skies. I am a cheerful person.
Here comes the but........but....the last few days have been tough. I feel that I have suffered a personal failure even though I know I gave my all. Knowing that my cheerfulness has actually motivated someone to hurt me, well.........it made me sad. And the more I think about it.......the sadder I became. So, I needed a remedy. How can I shake it............ I need a quick pick me up!

The remedy of sadness is joy. So.......I decided to spread a lil of it!! I call it " a note from Nic"

Nothing fancy. Just a quick note. Embellished envelope. A small surprise inside. And a quick walk to my mailbox to pop it in! Done!

Let me tell you what happened.........just thinking about who to send the note to made me smile. Addressing the envelope with a swirl and a different color marker took my mind off the real hurt I was feeling. Thinking about how tickled the person will be getting a random, for no reason, note that says, " I love you......was thinking of you.......have a great day" well.....it made me joyful. And.....guess what......hard to focus on sadness when you are all smiling and tickled filled with joy.


So....I plan on doing it often. I may even share it here. You could do it too. When is the last time you sent a note ( the kind that has a stamp) for no reason? Send a little joy....pay it forward. 

I know that there is a reason for my sadness and that I have suffered a hurt.......but changing the core of me.....my happy disposition .....would give power to this gloomy feeling.....I would much rather shower it with a little joy. Instead of waiting for my day to be made.....maybe I can make someone else's day and in the process lift my own spirits. Try it.......it's working for me.....a little. Real talk. 

Monday, April 1, 2013

Can you DIG it? Diversity in Gardening! Call to action!



Well well well.....it's that time again...the sun is out and the snow has faded and the soil is calling my name!
In years past it has called on me to plant flowers, shrubs, grasses and my favorite.....roses! But the idea of growing my own food has been a bit intimidating. Now is the time!  I dabbled a bit....
This is a pic of my raised veggie bed and .....gasp.....carrots from last year I just realized were there. Soooo....here is what happened: I was all gung ho to start a veggie bed last year. Set it up and laid some seed and even saw a few sprouts come up. Woop woop! Then......a work trip to China....yep, China, came and off I went. Upon my return there were weeds and work and beetles and well......I let it go. Total fail! I wasn't really sure of what I was doing and I just kinda...left it alone. But it wasn't out of my mind......

Around the 1st of the year when everyone goes on the diet kick and craze folks started with juicing.....uh hmmmm.......juicing. Why not....I could stand to lose a few pounds so I jumped in......straight to the market. STICKER SHOCK! To get a fresh veggie stash you need a lot of cash! omg!
So I started planning......
I know I can do it...and then I saw the most inspiring video and it was like a sign to keep my focus.

http://embed.ted.com/talks/ron_finley_a_guerilla_gardener_in_south_central_la.html
This is Ron from LA......they call him the Gangsta Gardener. OMG.......I so want to be a gangsta something...why not a gangsta gardener. Heehee. And you know if it's free, it's for me....so growing my own veggies is the perfect project. The video also got me thinking of a conversation I had with my son. I shared that I had a dream of one day being a master gardener....he asked why. I told him I wanted to put some education around one of my passions and he asked if I wanted to change jobs. Nope. I love my job. He asked if someone was going to pay me for becoming a master gardener......nope. Then I told him it took weeks of classes and hands on work in actual gardens owned by the state. "Are you crazy?" he asked. And I realized that he hasn't seen many people that look like him grow things. All of the farmer's markets and nurseries that I have dragged him to his whole life had no minorities working or in most cases shopping. Clearly I know that all walks of life love to get their hands dirty but I want to see it..................so...I am asking everyone I know...and everyone they know....and on and on...
Can you DIG it? Diversity in Gardening!
Grow something. Anything. Something you can eat.....something you can enjoy....and then share it! You can post here and I will do the same. Tips, tricks, setbacks. Come on....can you DIG it? Here are some easy steps to get you started:
The 4 W's:
  1. Work it! The soil that is. You need a space, a pot, a bed. And you need good soil. Start small......you imagination is bigger than your time after work.
  2. Water it! You will have to keep your space watered. Keep it close so you don't have to walk far. If you live in the city without a lot of space....how about a kitchen sink herb planter? Whatever it is....keep it watered!
  3. WEED it! Yep....I know....but weeds will come. I am using the bed above and it's small enough to manage the weeds.
  4. Wait on it! So this is the hardest part for me.......I have no patience. But....you have to watch and wait and have patience. Get your kids involved. Their excitement will help with any adult impatience.
SO...............can YOU DIG it? Say yes....commit today to growing something this season. Share your results. Come back and comment. I will share my results too..............hopefully better than those sorry carrots above! Let's dig in and GROW something! Pin it, share it....and ask folks you know...can you DIG it!! Real talk!!