Sittin On A Porch

Sittin On A Porch
Our little back porch

Friday, June 28, 2013

Everyone is fine

Today has been gray and drizzly all day.  Too wet to rake or fertilize, or really spend much of any time outside.  I love to garden in the rain, but not when the weather radio keeps screaming it's "Attention!  Attention!!" signal.  The weather channel has shown us tornadoes ripping and snatching and throwing and twisting and exploding towns in real time.  There is nothing you can do as you sit your eyes locked on the TV as you watch vehicles tumble over and over off the road and out of sight.  Now when I hear thunder, I still thrill at the ozone in the air, the coolness and humidity change in the air, but I am smarter and go into a building.  Really, is there any reason that I should be working bent over or on knees in the rain?  No, that is silly these days, an occasional obviously weed, okay, but to stay out in the weather these days with severe thunder storms, no thanks.  I have plenty of things I can do inside.  But I still love walking in the misting rain and will don my raincoat and circle through the gardens before standing at the back door of the screened in porch and watch as the rain grows heavier and heavier.  The water heavy on the leaves already saturated fat and green.  The soil looks plump and dark.  The earth worms gorged and lolling through the over saturated soil looking for air.

I did put up some mum and azalea cuttings.  The storm was still south west of us moving east.  I had trimmed back one bed of azaleas and put  the branches in a bucket of water.  The tips looked okay, not great, but okay.  They may take.  I will try and make cuttings the same day I trim the bushes.  But I do what I can and just see what happens.  I did cut some fresh mums so made cuttings from those.  I hope to get them in the ground in time for fall blooming.  maybe.  My garden to the east of the trailer is a combination of previous plants.  Golden lantana here, mums there, a couple of celosia, coral bells, some I have planted, others from failed past attempts, but this year seem to be holding there own.  It is the garden closest to the greenhouses so it gets the experiments, overruns unknowns. This mishmash garden is also one of my latest gardens so I have only been composting it a few years.  The soil is still very sandy and dry, the irrigation needs hand supplements during dry seasons.  But with all this rain this garden is doing wonderful, and if I can ever get out to fertilize I think the yard would be so much happier. 

Yesterday we took the boat, named the Miss K. No, not after the famous, Miss Kay, no, it is named after me, but Kathleen is so long, plus a lot of people will wonder what Miss K we are talking about.  hee hee.  It was glorious.  We put in at the fort in St. Marks.  We spent hours drifting across the grass flats.  This is when the Carolina Skiff is really at its best because we can ride the tide in water about 18 inches deep and slip right over sand bars that other boats would have to go around.  I saw star fish and scallops, small, medium and larger fish.  It was looking into Dr. Seuss's one fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish.  As we rode the tide under clear sunny skies, the tide had just gone out, so the grass was straight up allowing us to look straight down into this fertile portion of the gulf.  The water temperature was 91, the air temperature not much warmer, it was gorgeous.  I sat on the edge of the boat and let my feet dangle in the lapping waves as we just drifted.  Bug did fish for a little while and used his trolling motor.  Everything worked perfectly.  Bug caught a shark.  A Hammerhead Shark!!!  It was so cool!  I have seen hammerheads in aquarium and open touch and feel tanks, but here he was fighting the fish and enjoying himself, then he pulled it into the boat to unhook it and release it.  It was gorgeous!!!  The hammerhead swam off into the grass and I laughed about an article in one of the fishing magazine talking about alien abductions.  It was so funny talking about how the fish are grabbed and pulled up out of the water into a boat.  They are poked and prodded, weighed and measured and then after bright flashing lights they were released back into the water.  Some fish actually have multiple abductions, these often have some kind of tag sticking out of their back, or fin or stomach.  I love that.  How very clever of that writer, and who knows, maybe there is more similarities then we had thought of before. 

On our way home from St. Marks we saw a couple of wild turkey hens with a half dozen or turkey peeps stumbling along with them.  I love that tonight as we took the dogleg back to the house their was a deer skipping along in front of us.  I love that even though things are changing, southern Jefferson County is still vast open space with swamps and wildlife and hardwood hammocks up land from the cypress.  That you can still see bear, deer, eagles, turkeys, manatee and alligators among the more common wildlife.  There are a lot more fences and hunting clubs, but it is still slow in houses and condos.  The closer you get to the water of course there are clusters of communities, but all in all it is still closer to wild Florida then a lot of places in the state.

As the sky filled with thick low gray clouds rumbling and sparking.  Bob and I moved out to the barn and I finished the back pillows and started pinning the back cushion.  Bob sat under my feet, he is afraid of thunderstorms.  Edna squeezes in behind the toilet in the guest bath where she cowers and shakes.  I check on her continuously but she wants to be there and is not willing to come with me, even if I am in the house.  As I sat there pinning the cushion I looked up at how far the barn has come.  It still has a long way to go, but each of us have work areas and enough organization to complete some projects.  here are flags and hats, garden tools, TI sat there on this rainy day, Bob under my feet, my hands busy with the pins and I realized how  much I love my life.  I am happy and content.  I have not been able to really understand what my life is these days.  I have felt retired, sick, unemployed, but never really just living my life.  A life with things to do, and the reward of just living my life.  A life no longer lived on time tables, have to do's, and stress.  Now, being aware of my choices and consequences of wishes and desires, and being in awe of a life not driven by responsibilities but by just living.  I love those moments of perception. Bug and I tested out how the couch is coming along.  It is pretty relaxed and comfortable.  The two of us sat on the couch and listened to the rain outside while a CD of classical guitar quietly played in the background.  We have been working hard lately.  Yesterday we took off and went out in the boat to test run the trolling motor, which worked perfectly.  He maneuvered us through the grass flats using the foot pedal like a master.  It was relaxing and wonderful to be in the sunshine instead of gray rainy skies.  But 4 hours on the water in with the sun reflecting back up on you, woo, it can wear you out.  And we are worn out.  We got things done and it  was a day well lived, but it was also nice to move a little slower.  A pace to match a slow gray drizzly day.

Bug's Dad just had to go back to have a test redone.  It is not that it is invasive as much as it means he spends 7 hours in the hospital as they give him this and wait, then something else and wait again.  It wear him out, but he seems to be fine.  Then my oldest brother had a simple routine out patient procedure that went wrong.  He got a severe infection from the procedure and is now back in the hospital as they give him IV antibiotics as they try to find something that he can take orally and go home.  Then yesterday we received word that one of our dear precious ones in our little group of friends might have had a heart attack and was in the hospital.  Well after lots of testing they have determined that it is not her heart.  That is great news.  They think it is intestinal, which isn't great, but she is coming home and feeling much better.

Here I sit another night, late for me, but I am not sleeping well.  I have worn my body down and it is sore and I need to stretch it out, and rest it.  With this kind of weather, that should not be a problem.  I finally finished Bug tie blanket.  It is USAF design fleece on one side and a plain medium blue fleece for the other.  It is not as much fun tying lots of knots with my hands and gnarled thumbs.  But finally the bed to lay it out on to cut was free and it was a rainy day and now another project done.  Hmmm, it seems funny finishing projects.  it is sort of a double edged sword.  I don't want everything to get to "trying to finish it before......".  No, it is the act of creating, the challenge to my brain to learn and grow from the process, the thought of making something for someone else.  That is worth the time and work.  But to do or go and try something just for the point of trying, no, I am not so sure of that.  My mind over thinks everything.  But now it is time to try and turn that processor down.  It is time to try to sleep and rest.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Another beautiful day

I woke up early this morning.  I guess it was about 5:30, but I stayed in bed until after 6am hoping to get just a little more rest.  I go to bed early, like around 9-9:30m usually, but I try to sleep or rest until closer to 8am.  Yes, I realize that is like 11 hours, but rest is one of the things that I can do. I am not a napper, if I sleep during the day more often then not, I can't sleep at night.  And I have to tell you, that even with 9 - 11 hours of sleep each night, I am still tired.  But this morning, I could just not sleep anymore so I got up and came out and started wrapping birthday presents and getting ready to ship photos from the wedding out.  I sat this morning at my kitchen/dining room table.  A drop leaf that I bought myself for my birthday in 2007.  I love this table and right now I have a white table cloth that has blue flowers on it.  It is a little small for the table, even with one side down, but I love it.  A cup of tea, some fruit salad with yogurt and homemade yogurt.  And soon I will be making my own yogurt also.  Just a quiet morning.  Bug gets up early so it wasn't that long before he was up making coffee.  I had a lot of errands to run and got out to them early.  It took most of the morning to get the boxes filled, packed and addressed and taken to the post office. 

I had planned on raking leaves and putting the final mulch on the veggie garden, let alone the rest of the flower gardens.  But it was already in the 90s and I was already sore and tired so instead I sewed the last three pillows for the back of the couch.  Then I worked on the boxes stacked in the barn.  I managed to empty half dozen boxes dividing up what I want to keep, go to the thrift store and what to give to others.  Bug and I both worked and worked.  He spent time on the boat as well as the barn.  It is, hot but not as hot in the barn, so we can still get things done. 

It has rained most days lately.  It is the rainy season.  Bug said he doesn't remember it raining this much last year.  I laugh and said it didn't, that is why we struggled with drought.  It is supposed to rain each afternoon.  But this is not the rain of my childhood.  When I was a kid it used to rain almost every afternoon between 2 - 4pm.  Maybe just half an hour, maybe a couple of hours, but you could set your watch by it.  But this year we might have half an hour rain, but it is torrential, and normally by the time the dark, thick clouds overloaded with moisture drop their load it is all night.  Global Climate change.  Yep, it is different these days.  Unpredictable, unless you have the weather channel on your cell phone.  Then you can watch as the storms build and move.

My pink and green day lily bloomed.  Half the leaves are mostly pink and the other three are mostly all green.  It is bizarre, and the flowers are huge.  I am the type of gardener that appreciates any flowers, and it has been a wonderful year.

Still waiting on the landscape designer, another couple of weeks before I expect to hear from him. 

Here are some photos of my garden:
Our Wicked chickens

The back screened in room

Roma tomatoes in the topsy turvey

A native Florida white water lily in my blue pot

salvias and day lilies take the lead this time of year

the day lilies are really coming on this year

plants waiting for the new garden

begonia, this is for you Ms Moon, come get a start

milk weed growing in the veggie garden. 
many caterpillars prefer this to my veggies,
so I can pick them off before they get
to be a big problem.  The chickens love them!









I thought that I had lost my Panama Pacific water lily.  I had this plant on Pine Island in the claw footed tub that Sioux had given it to me.  It must have been at least 10 years old.  But this spring it did not come back.  I was so disappointed, but when Bug and I were visiting Spat at his house we dug up a native white water lily.  I was pretty thrilled to get the new one, but it could not replace my Panama Pacific.  I used the soil mixed with some fresh compost into a bird bath that I am growing impatiens in.  It holds water and we have had a lot of rain this year.  But I started with large healthy impatiens and a very chunky soil that has lots of gravel it in.  I don't know why, but this combination seems to work for me.  Anyway, I was checking on the impatiens and what should I see coming up in the soil? My Panama Pacific.  Oh Joy! I was so happy.  I immediately transplanted it into the brown water garden.  I was getting ready to pour the water out and grow flowers in it.  But instead not only do I have one happy growing Panama Pacific, but now I have about half a dozen.   From one to many and now I have some to share.  I even saw one today growing out the edge of the white lily.  And the water lilies aren't the only excellent news.  But the tads are growing and growing.  We have tadpoles in the horse water bucket next to the lotus pond.  Now  we have tadpoles in the brown pond.  I can't help it, I feed them.  Not much, just a little tiny bit of gold fish flakes twice a day.  I do not think I know better then Mother Nature.  Oh no, I am quite aware of my bleeding heart tree hugging softy side.  No, I can't stand watching the bigger tads eat the smaller tads.  I grow so attached to these little creatures and to look down on my babies and see them chewing on one of their smaller siblings, nope, just can't stomach it.  So I feed them just enough so they do not cannibalize in front of me.  We do not seem to be over run by frogs or toads, so it must be rough making it from tad to adult. 

My garden is bringing me more joy and happiness then I can ever express.  I can barely stand myself as I walk around the yard.  I am forever amazed at how plants grow.  I do not grow them.  They grow all on their own.  I just learn from them what makes them happiest and most healthy and productive.  Healthy first, productive after.  I am more interested in my chickens as pets, entertainment, manure and health then how many eggs they lay.  I am thrilled when the yard grows and changes each day with blooms and butterflies, dragon flies, magic.  That is the best I can say.  My garden is magical to me.  I am sure other gardeners could walk through my yard and see a flower here and a few more over there.  See the weeds and how the chickens have helped me by scratching through the gardens and moving plants.  Tall plants in the front, shade plants in the sun, bulbs and tubers that were on the east side of the garden are now 5 feet further away then last year.  Those wicked chickens.  They aerate the soil and scratch up weed seeds and insects, but they also have no sense of height from a human's perspective.  Silly chickens.  I am moving plants and digging up some that need to be split.  They should have been split last fall but we were crossing the country on the Harley.  I guess that is why I am amazed at how clever plants are.  I am not even here when they need me, and they get keep growing and thriving and providing me greenery and flowers  Sigh, I love learning from these gentle intelligent beings.  Plants work on a completely different intelligence then we do.  They do not appear to have free will.  They are driven by survival of the fittest, but how they respond to the world around them is nothing less then intelligence.  I love to watch my animals.  The dogs, Bob and Edna.  Each so different from the other, and yet, they love each other like close young human siblings.  The cats, chickens, Big Bunny, the Bubba's (gold fish in the lotus pond) the tads, the wild birds and squirrels, together all of us live on this one piece of property.  I am continually learning from the plants and animals in my life how to live easier, more comfortably, happier and just fit in better in this piece of land.  And now Bug is here and he brings so much to all of us.  Each being living together, working together as they are able.  After all, only two of us have thumbs. 

I am able to talk on the phone more and to sometimes even call people, okay, I still need to try and become more comfortable at that again.  Anyway, I am happy, seeing results, maybe not much of my part can take credit for the results, but I am here to see them.  Tomorrow I hope to finish mulching the veggie garden, do a light liquid fertilization and finish the last cushion so I can do the finish work on the couch to get it in the house.  It is looking great.

It is late, almost 11 tonight.  Still no rain today.  I am exhausted, maybe I can sleep now.  Sleep on our comfortable huge bed.  With a soft mint green color you can feel in the thread count Egyptian Cotton sheets.  They were one of my few wild splurges, and I have no regrets!  None.  Ah to sleep and dream

Sunday, June 23, 2013


CooI it is summer.  I love summer.  I am happy and feeling good.  My back is a deep mahogany, colored and darkened from hours weeding the veggie garden.  All I can say is  we have very fertile soil.  All that work tilling composted chicken manure and yard/kitchen compost into the gardens.  The weeds are thick and luscious.  The big bunny has been hanging around noshing his way through the tilled and newly sprouted weed garden.  I am planning on using an herbicide to knock back the weeds before the garden making begins.  This next week I will cut the green bamboo down in the soon to be garden, and then make a couple of applications of herbicide the area so that when the garden making begins the space will be easier to work with.  We have very very fertile soil.  I guess it might sound like a lot of work, but really, I have a kitchen compost maker and a yard compost pile.  I would produce more usable compost quicker if I turned it.  But I don't and yet at least once a year I can harvest compost for the gardens and use almost no added fertilizer or pesticide products.  Now in another month I am singing a different tune.  I am planning on using a liquid fertilizer on all the gardens in the yard this week.  Not a heavy application, no just a little shot of nutrition to keep young growing healthy plants healthy.  I will continue to spread compost as it is available during the year, but life is not spent entirely in the garden. " A library and a small piece of land to have a garden makes a happy life."  I am not sure who said that or something close to it, but it is one of my favorite sayings, and has been my entire life.  I used to have a Sunday comic from the paper about that saying, and I loved it.  I have no idea where I put that.  Maybe I will find it again sometime, maybe.

I weed about 3 - 6 feet wide in the garden and then I rake up leaves and pine straw from the front yard and take it back composting it deep and thick in the garden.  The plants seem to like it so far.  It has been raining everyday, and so far that has been helping and a good thing.  That is one of the reasons I am planning on fertilizing.  The gardens are getting so much water and still many, many hours of sunshine each day.  I think some of the veggie garden gets up to 12 hours of sunlight each day.  Other parts of the garden may only be getting 6-8 hours of sunlight each day.  So lots of sun and lots of rain, the plants are a little stressed from so much growth so I am trying to get the veggie garden weeded and mulched before any fertilizer applications.  The weeds don't need any help at all.  My gardens look happy and maybe that is just me.  But summer means vacations and reading and travel and so we are scheduling our summer/fall calendar.

We will take the boat over to the east coast to visit Hobbi who lives in Holly Hills, with her hubby, Col. Bill.  It will be fun to watch fire works from the boat.  Then Christopher will be here for a couple of weeks and then we will be heading up the Eastern Seaboard to visit friends and to spend some time with the grandsons.  While we are in the NJ/NY area Vicki will fly in and meet me at the airport and we will fly to England and Scotland for a couple weeks.  We are going to take it slow visiting London, Bath, Avery, Castle Comb, Stone Henge, Edinburgh and Glenngary in Scotland.  If it works out we will get to see Hadrian's  wall.  That is a lot to do, but some of those places are all together on one tour out of Bath, Max's Tours.  It is going to be wonderful.  Vicki and I have planned on this for years.  It is coming true this year when I am feeling strong and healthy and physically capable of walking, walking, walking, climbing, running, walking and more walking.  If you go to Scotland from England on a train, usually running is involved, from previous experiences, and nothing in Scotland is flat, so there is lots of climbing, and there is so much for Vicki and I to see and time to walk and talk together, it will be wonderful.

After I get back from my 2 week jaunt across the pond I will meet up with Bug in NY and we are hoping to drive up to CT for a couple of days to visit Susan and Jim and then maybe, maybe somewhere in all this coming and going to NY I want to go to the Rose Planetarium at the NY Museum of Natural History.  This is the planetarium that my favorite Astrophysicist, Neil deGrasse Tyson.  By the way, if that man ran for the presidency, I would send him a dollar and put a sign in my yard and vote for him.  Anyway, I have always wanted to go to the museum and the Rose Planetarium.  My Mother grew up in NY and spent many Saturdays of her life at the museum.  So, I guess if I had a bucket list, this would be on it.  Like my secret garden.  But instead of having a bucket list, I prefer to just go ahead and live the opportunities that I am able to find.  So after we get back from the Eastern Seaboard, and after Labor Day and the kids across the country are back in school, Bug and I are going to ride the black cherry bike with the trailer up to Milwaukee to the Harley Plant.  It is the 110th anniversary of Harley.  We will come home stopping at other biker museums and points of interest that we find on our way.  That should put us back home for late September where we will stay for a while, except for Biketoberfest and maybe a music festival that draws our attention.

We have been working so hard here at the house.  I weed the veggie garden and take a couple of breaks during the morning picking up some of the other needed garden tasks.  These are usually way more fun then weeding, so I enjoy the break.  Then we take a break and do a little work around the house, or laundry, etc. those little things we all must do, and have something to eat.  Then back outside to work in the barn.  I do a little work in the cleaning and organizing of the barn, but right now I am busy reupholstering my Mother's couch.  I have no idea if this was her couch first or if my grandmother had it before her.  But as I am redoing it I have found no less then 7 layers of material.  A hideous pink that was the last material used.  I don't even know what kind of man made material it is.  Ugh, just gave me the willies.  Below that was the late 70s harvest gold/orange/brown/rust burlap.  Yep, burlap.  It is beautiful burlap, soft compared to what you normally think of as burlap.  And it was strong and stood up well to lots of grubby children crawling and tumbling over it, but it was still burlap.  I remember she had got it for a really good deal.  My mother could turn burlap into an attractive late 1970s sofa for pennies and as I moved backward into time removing layer upon layer I realized how wonderful this was.  Here was my Mother and quite possibly my grandmother's handiness.  They could come up with material, some of it quite beautiful, much of it quite trendy and dated, but it was quality material.  And I remember my Mother doing all the labor of re upholstery and sewing of cushions herself, and my grandmother was the same cut of cloth, and her was they handiwork.  Nails hammered in, staples hidden in material.  I carefully put as much of the layers back in place, even including the hideous pink faux pax, and started stapling and hammering, measuring and cutting, stacking and organizing material, thread, Velcro, my first layer in the history of this sofa.  It is a simple, but very heavy maple couch.  Each arm rest is carved maple and the vertical support that holds up the arm rest has 3 carved maple leaves.  I tried to look it up on the Internet but could not find it, and really it doesn't matter.  I love this couch because it is part of my entire life.  Now it is in my hands to live with it and take care of it.  Adding my layer or layers and then passing it on to the next person who loves it.  The carpet in the living room is blue.  I have a geometric carpet on top of that one.  The top carpet is blues, browns and creams so I am doing the couch in a grayish blue brushed denim for the underside and a washed denim blue for the cushions.  The back cushion will have the washed denim on the front and sides and the grayish blue on the back.  Same as the cushions on the couch, one side of each color.  So why am I using two colors?  Well the gray material was $1.50 yard.  It also grabs other materials so I thought as a back for the cushions etc., this is a win-win for me.  The washed denim is that comfortable tough and soft combination.  I am using antiqued daisy nail heads and the colors look great against the maple wood.  I hope to finish it this coming week. 

Friday we were out and working in the yard and barn when we had to run a few errands to complete projects.  The rain came in and we spent a quiet Summer Solstice with a glass of wine and a plate of cheese and crackers.  Saturday dawned hot and humid and promising of another afternoon of rain.  So I worked weeding in the garden and Bug tried to get rid of the junk on my computer slowing it down and causing it to stutter and freeze.  After a couple hours of that he was ready to get out of the house.  I was ready to get out of garden.  I now sweat.  Not just perspire, no, I have gone from powder dry to sweating like a horse.  Pigs, don't sweat, they wallow (that's for you Jan), but horses sweat, and now, well, so do I.  But enough sweating and we showered, jumped in the toy and headed to town.  Amanda and Falcon had given us a gift certificate for our wedding to Lofty Pursuits.  They also made a donation in our name to the Jefferson County Humane Shelter.  A perfect present!!!  Anyway, so we made a point this time to go to Lofty Pursuits, rather then it being another stop on our list.  It is a perfect place.  A toy store, an old fashioned ice cream store with knowledgeable soda jerks and ice cream flavors like "zagnut", "chocolate chile", and "Guinness".  Then on top of all this childhood joy there are these two guys making hard candy, the kind where they mold the different colors and stretch it out to make a design inside each little piece of candy.  The people swarmed in and out, watching the candy making, standing in line for ice cream sundaes in glass bowls and leaving the kids to wander the few shelves of toys to entertain themselves. 
Bug had never been to Market Square.  I guess mostly because we do not normally go into town on the weekends.  We usually do our running into town during the week when most of the population is at work.  We left the toy/ice cream shop and wandered around market square.  There is a shoe repair shop.  We both have boots that need a little TLC at a shoe cobbler.  There is a dry cleaner, Chinese food, Cuban food, French food, a liquor store and cigar humidor.  An antique store that completely overwhelms me, and of course, the beautiful market square farmer's market on Saturday's.  This shopping area also has entertainment most Saturdays.  It might be a dance school recital or martial arts demonstration, or maybe kids doing gymnastics.  We noshed for lunch at Gordo's Cuban cuisine then returned for ice cream.  We visited Goodwill's and then headed south to Wakulla County.  We are still looking for a place down there.  We have a  spot we can take one of the campers to, but we are looking around to see if there is something else there.  We are getting to know the area down there better and it is such a lovely place to take a ride.  We were riding home when we came around a corner and there stood two beautiful female turkeys, tall and regal with shimmering bronze feathers.  Riding down around St. Marks we had seen lots of egrets and herons and other water birds, but these turkeys were so unexpected and wonderful.  Not much further down the road then a large black creature lumbered out of the woods and stood up on the side of the road.  It was a Florida Black Bear.  I have lived here my whole life and have never ever seen one of these in the wild.  It loped across Hwy 98 and disappeared into the woods on the other side of the road before we could get a photo on the phone.  But that is okay, sometimes trying to save a moment you can loose it.  And I would not want to loose my first ever time to see a beautiful black,  shiny, huge Florida black bear.  His bear face seemed so foreign to me as he turned to face the car.  And yet, it was real and perfect.  Ah nature!

This morning we got up early and got on the black cherry Harley and headed north.  We took back ways over to Lake Park.  Lake Park is where Bug was living when we met.  We cruised along the mostly vacant roads, swerving along this curve and then the next.  Up and down the gentle hills that roll in the land where Florida and Georgia meet. Swamps and streams, cypress trees in the low areas and hills of hardwoods all alive and deep green of summer.  The sounds of frogs and insects blare out as we slip through the cool wet areas and then the songs of meadow and forest birds as the sunshine peeps through.  It was a beautiful ride.  We visited some of Bug's old hang outs and enjoyed time out just being together.  When we were having wings at the Da Ragen Cajun we saw a radar glowing yellow, red and orange.  So we put on our rain coats and headed home.  We drove most of way home in rain.  We have a windshield and other protection, but it is a small windshield, great for warm weather, not so great as a rain screen.  I am in the back, so I also have Bug helping to block the rain, but by the time we got home we were both soaked through.  Ah, nature!!!  It wasn't so much fun for Bug, but we got home, wet, but fine. 

It has been a very busy and positive week, and now a lovely weekend, filled with nature, enjoyable, and well, not as enjoyable.  I have lots of projects lined up this week.  I am ready to be done with my two big projects, weeding the veggie garden and the couch.  I strong and healthy.  My mind is still easier confused, and stress like any decision is still pretty difficult, but I am getting things done, feeling more like myself and feeling stronger in general.  I love summer and I spent the solstice in the yard.  Life is good.  And big bunny, one of the bunnies that originally came from my domestic bunnies is almost like a pet these days.  Beautiful big bunny.  Nature is pretty amazing.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Rake up the front

The Garden Maker came over Wednesday after work.  He was supposed to be at our house at 5.  The office called about 15 after and said he would be half an hour late.  He finally got there about 6.  He was hot, tired and ready to go home.  Not really the best start.

Then I started the conversation with my cancer.  He looked at me as I was trying to explain about the garden.  He steps back and looks at me and says, "Why are you telling me this?"  I was a bit taken back.  I said, "So you will understand why I am not doing this myself, and why this is so important to me."  He looked at me and just walked towards the garden.  Things weren't going so great.  As we walked to the back of the garden so I could tell him what I wanted.  He was not crazy about any of my ideas.  Outside shower?  Permitting and complicated.  I was just going to put a propane water heater in the pump house where there is water and a protected place for the water heater.  Also it seemed much simpler with my idea.  I had barely gotten half way through the walk and he told me I was already at budget.  Really?  The last part of the garden space is raised beds.  He told me that I didn't need that much space.  What?  Then he wanted me to get a horse trough.  I don't have access to a horse trough, rusted or whatever.  I told him I have no idea where to get a trough and he looked at me like I was not being cooperative.  I tried to explain the type of fencing I wanted to use because of the silkie chickens.  He was obviously tired and didn't want to be there.  It will be at least three weeks before I will hear back from him.  He should have the plan drawn and will present it to us.  I paid him his fee which was more then what the office had told me it would be, he took his measurements and left.  I will continue to work with him until I see the plans.  I am not sure this is the right person for me.  But he comes from a trusted and reliable source.  This firm was not recommended for their personality, but because they are the best.  They produce beautiful craftsmanship and that is what I want.  I admit I would like to enjoy and like my garden maker, and I am willing to be open to his ideas and lets see how we get along this next meeting. 

The best thing he has given me is a clearer sense of perspective.  Things cost more then I can imagine.  I have priced what I was interested in, and the cost of labor must be more then I thought.  I thought labor would behalf of the cost.  But this is all new to me, and I will learn and adjust as the process continues.  I can make other plans or talk to other people.  We will see.  I am keeping my mind open.  After all, when this is done is when I can start enjoying it.  I will put the plants in the raised beds.  So at this point, all I am hiring a person for is to create the hardscapes for me and I will do the planting.  Again, I am trying to cut costs where possible to invest more into the hardscapes.  The garden maker was direct in costs.  I appreciate it, but his information was hard to swallow. I am watching the garden shows with new eyes. I look at yards and gardens and have a greater appreciation for the ideas, work, labor and money involved.

So I continue working on the yard and gardens already here.  I rake up the front yard piling up pine straw and leaves, mostly oak, around the islands of trees and shrubs in the front yard.  The left over material is loaded up in my garden cart and I pull it around to the back yard where I throw the composting brown material on the ground.  Ok, I spread it in my gardens, but it just seems so silly to rake it up in the front to put it back on the ground in the back yard.  But it is a good mulch material.  It is free, it helps the front yard by raking it up and loosening the soil and mulch mats.  The front yard is shade.  I grow hydrangeas, ferns, azeleas and camellias in the front yard.  There is a shade grass that works pretty good, and I have various shade tolerant ground covers in the front yard, but the pine straw had really gotten thick and was blocking anything from growing.  Now that I am raking, it will allow more plants to come back and I can add in grass to the barest spots and the back gardens, with 6+ hours of sunshine, will grow better.  I do not mulch the back gardens, including the veggie garden with pine straw every year.  Pine straw affects the pH of the soil so I use pine straw every two or three years.  In between I use bark mulches.  The bark holds up longer then the pine straw so I only have to fill in in between.  I also like the idea of using the materials produced on this property in the gardens and yard.  I use my bamboo.  I include many of the plants on this property both propagated, native and naturalized in our diet.  Some plants can be consumed by people, dogs, cats and chickens as well as native habitat.  That is part of the enjoyment for me with gardening.  Not just enjoying the activity and health benefits of working in the yard, but producing goods needed, fruits and vegetables eaten, materials recycled back into environment to make it healthy and productive.  So I rake the front yard and carry it to the back.  I pile up sticks to grind into mulch, once I have time (hee hee).  Just trying to live in this place in this time as best as I can.

Oh!!!  I won a $250.00 gift card at the new Tractor Supply Store.  I had signed up when we had taken Lori and Gary there a couple of weekends ago, and then I signed up each time I went in over the next couple of days.  Yee Haw!!!!  That will buy a lot of dog, cat, chicken and fish food.

Our fish, the Bubba's are doing very well, thank you.  We have 7.  I bought a dozen 5 years ago from Wally World.  Seven left sounds pretty good.  They were 12 for a $1.  One is a koi, the other are the very common comet.  We call the koi, "Queen Bubba", the rest we call, "Bubba".  I always name my goldfish Bubba.  I have no idea where that came from, but it works just fine for me and the Bubbas.

The Bubba's live in the lotus pond. It has never bloomed for me, but it is such a beautiful plant that has never been a problem.  But I would like to see a flower.   I also have a water lily, Sioux, in that pond.  It is a changeable lily in that it opens up pale yellow and then over 3 days it turns gold, orange, red, terra cotta, pink, rust.  Really a beautiful lily.  I also have a white native water lily that we dug up at Spat's house.  He has  lake right behind his house and the water lever is coming up, but there are a lot of plants cut off from the lake.  I also got a little bit of horse tail.  I have them in the blue pot in the new little garden in the back yard.  I thought I had lost my panama pacific water lily.  It has purple petals and a brilliant deep yellow middle.  But I could not find it in the pot I had put up this winter with it.  I had used the soil from that pot into a different garden that needed that same type o soil.  It is a very boggy pot and after a week or so I see the tiny leaves of my lily.  I was so thrilled,  I potted it up and put it back in it's water garden, a brown Mexican pot.  The next day I was working with that boggy garden again and saw more leaves.  I have transplanted them to a 6 pack with lily soil in the Mexican pot.  We will see how many make it.  I am thrilled.  I had one Panama Pacific that I thought I had lost, and now I have a couple.  Some to keep, some to share.

Bug and I bought a portable barn for the lawn equipment. We got it at Tractor Supply and it was their opening weekend so they gave us an additional 10% off. We put it up on Wednesday.  It holds our 2 push mowers, the riding mower, the tiller, golf cart, mulcher and garden wagon.  It also blocks the view from the neighbors.  It looks nice.

Went to Nathaniel's Eagle Scout Court and it was wonderful. I will write more later.  That is all for now.


Thursday, June 6, 2013

A Lovely Rainy Day

It is June.  June 6 to be exact, Jennifer Oakley Rosenboom's birthday.  It is a lovely gray rainy day here.  Andrea, a tropical storm with winds @ 60 mph sustained is sloshing across the Gulf heading towards Florida.  North Florida, the pan handle, Big Bend area.  It is predicted to make shore this evening somewhere within 50 miles or so from us.  It apparently shouldn't be a problem according to the weather channel.  They haven't sent anyone here.  You know you are in trouble when you look out your door and see someone from the weather channel.  No one here.  They don't even have us marked with a "severe thunderstorm" threat.  We are in a tropical storm watch, but they are not predicting "severe thunderstorms".  I have been through a dozen or so hurricanes (really, I was counting them up the other day) and most of them weren't anything more then a sever thunderstorm.  So now that they are predicting the storm to come ashore on a NNE path to a rural area between coastal Taylor, coastal Jefferson and Wakulla county.  Not to worry though, all of the areas predicted to be where the storm "hits" is rural, so no concern.  As one of the people in that "rural" area, I understand we are not looking at damage like St. Petersburg, but Hello!!!!  We can hear you.  Quit referring to us as no concern.  Any damage, will be occurring to our roads and property, so it is a concern to us

Am I concerned?  No, after Hurricane Charley on August 13, 2004 hit my home @ 168 mph, that was a concern.  A tropical storm, lopsided with most of the rain to the east of us, is something to be aware of, but not much concern.  Bug and I have walked around the yard, closing umbrellas, putting pots on he ground, putting toys up in the barn, and just generally taking notice of the yard and keeping the weather in perspective, but be intelligently prepared.  Bug filled up the truck and filled up containers just in case power should go out from a tree going down.  We will still have gas for our generator.  Our last trip to the Commissary we had picked up batteries to be prepared for hurricane season. 

At this moment we are watching motorcycle racing on the Isle of Man and flipping back and forth to the weather channel.  We are enjoying the slower pace, the cooler temps, the clear air washed clean from the last few days of rain.  My gardens are happy, happy, happy.  The flowers bent over from the rain as it dances on their heads.  It is glorious.  For up to date information on Andrea, because it may not be much of a threat for us, but she is going to just rain across Florida and then head up the Atlantic.  Watching the weather channel, y'all need to watch out been cause they are more concerned for you then us.  You can watch up to time radar on Ms Moon's blog. She has a live radar.  Cool

Saw Dr. May last week and all is going very well.  My liver and blood numbers are looking good, so we just keep doing what we are doing.  My next Pet scan is next month.  I am feeling good and strong.  Loving all the time I spend in my gardens.  I have survived the loss of my beloved nurse Bobbi.  She is happy, happy, happy in St. Louis with her honey and son.  I miss Dr. M, and his beautiful smile.  But he stays in touch.  Betty Ann is still there and I am enjoying my relationship with Dr. May. 

Saturday Bug and I will  head down to Palmetto for my nephew, Nathaniel's Eagle Scout Court of Honor.  Bug is an Eagle Scout, so he will be my guide through the ceremony.  I am making Zen cookies and Coconut cake.  We will stay there for a couple of days before heading back home.  Next week the garden maker is coming.  I am so excited.  My brain can't shut it off.  Day or night, my mind races with ideas.  What kind of fountain?  What should the paths be made of.  By putting up privacy walls, what type of micro climates will I be making.  Will I cut the air flow and just cause garden problems, let alone comfort issues.  How big should the little cooking area be.  And most importantly, the chicken coop.   I know he will have lots of great ideas and will have answers for all of these questions.  I am 57.  My friends are turning 58, so will I in October.  I have Stage 4 lung cancer and I am getting ready to build my secret garden.   I feel like a little kid waiting for Santa.  This is the most exciting gardening I have ever done.  Summer is coming, so is Andrea.  The garden maker is coming.   Oh such sweet joy and happiness.  I have been burning up the inter-net looking at fountains, pavers, decks, and walls.  I have my chicken garden book, my feng shui garden book and I am looking out on the gray drizzling day and it looks like the scene when Dorothy opens the house door and it is green and bright and dazzling with the color of Oz.  That is what I see.  Life is wonderful here!!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Magical happy life

My cousin Lori and her husband Gary came by for a quick visit.  Loris is actually my second cousin twice removed.  Her grandmother and my father were first cousins.  Lori's mom is 10 years older then I am, and Lori is 10 years younger then me.  I used to visit my cousin Donna in Cincinnati and thought she was so cool.  And Lori looked up to me.  Then when Lori was old enough to travel on her own she came down and visited us.  We may have very little blood between us, but she is one of my closest friends, and the cousin I have spent the most amount of time with her in my life.  I love her to death, and her husband Gary is just wonderful.  They were only here for one day, but it was heaven getting to look into that beautiful face.  She is so smart and funny and sweet, and I am so lucky to have them in my life.  Gary and Lori are thinking about moving to Florida.  I say "Come on down!!!!"

We had special plans for them on Friday night, the preopening party at the Monticello Tractor Supply Store.  We had received an invitation to the preopening with a $25 gift card.  I am not sure how that happened, but we were there.  And so was so many of the people we know in Monticello.  We wandered around the store looking, while Bug picked out some things he needed.  We ended up in the chicken area and go to talk to the Allen's, the Cichon's and the Golden's. We saw lots of people and it was a great party.  Afterwards we went to the Pizza Kitchen, and saw many of the same people there again.  It was a fun night and Lori and Gary just joined right in.

The rest of the weekend has been working on getting the old Airstream, now Mr. Moon's Airstream, out of our yard, and into he and Ms Moon's.  It was still about half full of who knows what and had no wheels on it, oh, and it had fallen off its blocks and the axles were buried into the ground with weeds taller and thick growing out from under the trailer.  Bug and Glen got the wheels on and finished emptying my stuff into the barn.  I worked madly in the barn going through boxes and separating into boxes, to keep, for Wag the Dog, trash, etc.  and managed to get some order.  I am not trying to organize as much as just get it separated out.  Glen had volunteered to just take it all to the dump.  But there is some good china, and items that could bring money to the animal shelter, and I hate to see good stuff thrown out.  I may not want it, but someone will pay a little for it.  A little here, a little there and it all adds up.  So for the rest of the week I will be trying to get all the stuff I don't want anymore boxed for wag the dog. 

I also spent time working with my plants.  At Wally World in their clearance section I bought a palm, a braided trunk tree hibiscus, and two pots of impatience for 50% off each.  I re potted them and worked in the gardens.  My potatoes are coming up.  Yes, I know I am late, oh well, I might still get some taters.  I had asked Mr. Moon if he had a landscape architect he could recommend and he suggested Dickerson.  I am so excited.  I met the owners with Ms Moon one time at Esposito's and I liked them then.  I am sure they can work with me to give me the garden I want.  So I have been wandering through the yard looking and dreaming.  The blooming cycles are so different now, I don't expect when anything blooms, just thrilled when something does.  I had an African Iris I do not remember planting bloom, my voodoo lily finally bloomed, yet, I have not seen any of the other voodoo bulbs produce a leaf.  I don't know.  But the weather has been perfect.  We have been busy and I have gotten to see Mr and Ms Moon.  I have seen other friends and my dear cousin.  I have had time to till and plant little garden spots, and shush my chickens from scratching in the new turned soil. 

My honey and I are both feeling better.  His stomach bug seems to finally past.  I never "got it" but had a few days of terrible headaches and could not eat for almost a week dropping weight like fall leaves.  I managed to get a handle on my weight at 116, but have not been able to get it heading in the other direction.  Maybe after all the food I forced down today, maybe I will start putting some weight back on.  But when my stomach doesn't feel well, I can not force food into my mouth.  Every part of me rejects it like a 4 year old eating liver.  No.  that is all there is to it.

I am happy and my yard is starting to look like what I see in my mind.  I don't care if I am chopping thorny vines or re potting beloved plants, making new gardens or weeding my veggies.  I am just so happy.  And when I look around and see the potatoes breaking the surface of the garden soil, or see a flower rise out of greenery or the ground itself it is like magic. 

A happy weekend. 
So much accomplished
and so much more to do
but happy, happy, happy