Sunday, May 16, 2010

Time Rodents and the Delicate Warriors

Time, blowing away from us gently in the wind and seeding the future... or snarky little rodent scurrying away from me like a sneaky little fur pouch jacked up on Ding Dongs and Ho Hos. As a matter of fact right this very minute his ill tempered cousin, Wastingmy Time is chewing on the remaining juicy bits of my patience pie. It seems he has recently taken a job with the Blogger people in the upload photo department where he is growing fat as a house on my patience and forgiveness. The program keeps jamming up and stalling. I have spent--wasted, an hour trying to load these photos and the sad part of it is...other than the fact that my life is so dull I can actually waste an hour with a time sucking rodent uploading photos... is that these aren't even the photos I really wanted to share. Well some of them are. Some of them took a bit of nerve because I'm not entirely sure I like them.

I'm sending this guy here, the one with the fur coat, out on the hunt for the Time cousins and put this thievery to an end once and for all. Ah, the sweet smell of fantasy. We all know that I'm going to keep wasting and losing my time just like the rest of you and whining about it like a kid past his nap time with peanut butter in his hair and gram cracker crumbs stuck to his face. In the meantime spring came in with a rousing bang and exploded in tulips all over the garden. Then it was slapped back into submission with annoyingly persistent rain and hail for a few endless weeks. That took care of those obnoxious tulips and reminded all those early sprouters not to get to cocky about this whole "summer's on its way" deal.

Of course Spring and Summer being the fickle souls that they are they quickly forgot everything the hail said and just put up new tulips. Some of you more tender hearted folks might think that Spring and Summer were full of pure gentle forgiveness.

It's full on war out there and those guys are vicious fighters. they aren't going down easy. And so it was. New tulips were put up, the forget-me-nots would not be forgotten and just for good measure the poppies got in on some action as well. Words were exchanged and the battle lines were drawn. If you're quiet, in the mornings you can hear an evil laughter out there. It's kind of chilling.

So here are a few of the things that I have been up to lately. We finally got a turtle for the pond. I have wanted one ever since we got the fish. Why? Well because a pond should just have a turtle, that's why. I honestly don't have an answer beyond that. I just wanted a flipping turtle in me pond. Be sure to say that in your head with Rex Harrison's voice as Captain Grey in Ghost and Mrs. Muir. Except he wanted a Monkey Puzzle tree in his garden which is truly a puzzle to me why anyone would want one of those in their garden. Sigh. To each his own I guess. Anyway Rex Harrison, hunk extraordinaire...I mean the turtle...
We seem to be calling her/him Sea Bisquet for now. We went with Sea Bisquet because Pond Bisquet just doesn't have the same ring to it. Though I'm thinking Nessy the Lochness turtle might be a better fit. So far I'm just sneaking around the pond with camera in hand hoping to catch a glimpse of the mythical beast.

Now this is the other little lingering project that I have been up to. I decided that I wanted to finally do that whole country farm garden shabby chic bedroom thing. I also decided that I couldn't possibly hate my bedroom more and something, anything had to be better. I started with painting the ceiling and I've been working my way down. I went to a salvage yard with my son "The Actor" and my future Best Friend In Law his girlfriend and the Saint. Saint and I picked out a mangy looking old door and The Actor and BFIL picked out a very cute pantry door with depression era glass insets. The Actor and BFIL carefully placed their antique treasure into their car and the Saint and I jammed our skanky door into the trunk and proceeded to drive around town with the trunk hood slamming a hole into it.
So, once the freshly mangled old mangy door was home, I took the electric sander out and began tearing away 50 years of paint. I decided to wear a mask for this little endeavor as I'm pretty darn sure that the lead paint was a flying. Of course one could argue that the damage had already been done as evidenced by the fact that I actually paid good money for this thing in the first place but I think I look fantastic in a face mask so this was my time to shine. I also had a couple of old nightstands that I sanded down to the wood just so I could stain them a nice cherry espresso color and then puke latex paint all over them. I made sure to follow that up with slathering white paint on followed by vigorous and random sanding. I did everything but kick 'em and light 'em on fire.

This is how they turned out. In person you can see all of those wild colors peeking through and looking all agey and stuff. Of course because I lack any sense of pride or foresight I do not have a photo of the stands with their silver and cut glass knobs or of the antique door knob hardware on the headboard. Just imagine them Spec-tacka-lure and say it with a big swishy hand motion to get the full effect. (by the way, the headboard actually is the same as the stands, it just looks blue in the photo.)
I also re-did my office desk. It was one of those big old wood finish things with the upper hutch portion. I removed the top hutch portion as well as the desk top, painted it white and replaced the desk top with a glass top, then added stone and glass tile accents. I also put bird feeders outside my new office window and it's all working out rather nicely now.

Then to leave you on more of a garden note I will tell you that I have been blindsided by this early spring/summer. Everything is pumped and ready to flower. The poppies are bursting and every morning when I go out there are new blossoms to greet me. The honeysuckle is full of sweet smelling potential and the frogs are still singing their hearts out at night. I know all your gardens are blooming and bringing peace and delight to everyone who sees them.
...I will also tell you that I was going to post a very pretty picture, no beautiful, stunningly beautiful picture of fiery red poppies but NOooo! That Blogger Rodent bum won't let me. I letting the dogs out buddy so you better get your Ho Hos and pack it in for the night you furry time sucking beast.
Maybe I should get checked for the lead after all.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Yes Honey, Size Does Matter

Well spring is almost over I suppose. I have begun the sad process of cutting back spent blooms and clearing away soggy tulip petals. There are still some late bloomers yet to bloom and that will ease my pain until the poppies come online and make me forget I ever had tulips. Of course while I know this intellectually and because the photo file from the past two years confirms this, I will still cry like a little girl when the tulips fade away.

When I actually was a little girl and not just crying like one, I had never seen a tulip in real life. I didn’t exactly grow up around gardeners. As a matter of fact for most of my childhood I grew up in the desert South West and was raised by wolves, who apparently don’t garden as a species. The only tulips I had ever seen until I was thirty one years old had been in coloring books. You know, the ones with outline pictures of cute little houses with a row of flowers on the front lawn, most often daisies or tulips. Simple shapes for simple minds. Somehow I always took offense to that but I got too distracted by the row of pretty colors in the Crayola box to put up much of a fuss. To my eye those flowers always looked pretty tiny and as I mentioned, the wolf den wasn’t much on flowers so there was a distinct paucity of comparables.

Then we moved here to the Great Northwest and went to see the tulip festival. I was absolutely stunned. First of all, there is the breathtaking sweep of pure color, like God left his own box of Crayola crayons out in the sun to melt across the valley floor but, then it was the sheer size of the things that blew me away. I had no idea they were so huge. I always thought tulips were these tiny little things, probably and unwittingly I thought, about as large in real life as they appeared in my little coloring books. When I was confronted with the real life flower I was shocked. Most of them were large enough to hold a grande sized latte’ from Starbucks…with whip. Not only that some of them actually smelled and nicely too, not like the dust scent I was accustomed to smelling on decorative roadside flowers, which unfortunately had really been my only flower sniffing experience. Well, that does exclude flowers given to me by the Saint but those usually smelled of guilt. Of course the The Actor often brought me flowers when he was a little boy but then we’re back to the dust smell again. I haven’t mentioned the Actor much in my blogging before but I promise to try this whole “sharing” thing everyone seems to be doing now days, a little more often. I don’t think I’ve actually mentioned him since the Troll episode. He expressed a little bitterness at that neglect over dinner one night but I took it in stride. As his mother, it is my solemn duty to disappoint him. Why, without me he would be sailing through life without guilt, disappointment or bitterness. Now I ask you, what kind of life is that?

When it comes to parenting, I am certainly no slacker, just ask the kid. It’s been nothing but a bitter life of disappointment and yet still he turned out perfect. I’m not exactly sure where I went wrong but those non gardening wolves sure knew what they were doing. And thank goodness for their evil black hearts, otherwise I would have completely missed the sheer joy and surprise of seeing a real live tulip for the first time in my life at the tender age of thirty one.
Standing there in a muddy field with a giant oversized latte’ in one hand exclaiming at the top of my lungs just to make sure the people at the next farm over could hear me, “my god, it’s so freaking huge!” A swath of touristy eyes suddenly turned in our direction. The Saint was wearing a canary eating grin and strutting like a peacock for some stupid reason so I said “Well it is! I didn’t know it was so big.” At that point he started smiling so hard that I thought the fool was having a stroke or something. Three women came running up to see what all the fuss was about but they looked disappointed for some reason. “Oh, that’s nothing. They all grow like that, honey” one of them said and then the Saint look disappointed for some reason. Now I’m not entirely sure of what I learned that day other than disappointment comes in all sizes but, so does joy, both are just as fleeting and usually come as a complete surprise. After the bitter disappointment of winter, spring is a joyful surprise and often much bigger than expected.

May each of you enjoy the joyful surprise of Spring.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Six Billion Bulbs and a Eunuch

I have to tell you, it was nearly impossible to get myself back in here to write this post. Right now it is 67 degrees outside, sunny and all six billion tulips are blooming in my yard. Six billion may be a slight exaggeration but only slight. At least that’s how it felt from the ground up a few months ago with my spoon in hand as I tried to find places to put these little darlings. A dear friend assured me that the reason some of them were smaller and not up to my exacting standards or as the Saint likes to say my “Demands,” is due to their rather short time in the ground. As you may recall it was hardly my fault. Summer never really ended, it more likely resembled the big hook yanked it ungraciously off the stage so winter could do her little song and dance. And her special talent was freezing temperatures and icing my pond up a foot and half deep. Oddly, the talent portion of her routine was cut short and we oozed into what could normally be called a long wet Northwest spring. Of course it wasn’t spring, it was only January and everyone was confused.

Now that would have been the perfect time for me to plant those plump little bulbs other than the fact that Swine Flu was porking it’s way through my system and just before the little oinker left the pen the Titanic event happened in our bedroom thus inviting the porker to stay an extra couple of weeks. It was like some slovenly house guest you can’t get off your couch who eats all your best snacks and wants to know when you’re going shopping again. Dude, get a job or go home!
That left February and that’s when I got out there with my little spoon and a wheel barrel full of discount bulbs and got busy. In the end I gave up on the spoon and just used my finger to open up a hole. In case you’re wondering why I was using a spoon, let’s not get into the finger issue, it was because the winter was so nonexistent that nothing died back and there was simply no room at the Inn. What’s that? Sounds like I over planted? Heck yeah, I over planted! I was so paranoid that every single thing I planted would die a horrible wilty brown death that I figured my best shot at having at least one flower show up would be to plant six billion of them. There’s that number again. I’m not sure if there’s an underlying message there or not but I do enjoy the way I hear Austen Power’s Dr. Evil say it in my head. Now there might be a message in that but, it’s probably best if we leave sorting that out to the professionals.
Before the shortest month of the year and the warmest non winter was over we also dug up and re-bedded our gunnera plant. A huge dinosaur plant weighing, you guessed it, six billion pounds. This may not be an exaggeration. I was watching a home and garden show the other day and saw a group of seven men moving a root ball the same size as our gunnera. And these strong backed young men were whining about needing big equipment or more men. HA! The Saint and I did it with a strap and two crotchety old people. That would be us, the crotchety old people. Crotchety, but wily. And here’s my favorite part of the end of that month; the rose bushes were putting up new growth. I never got the chance to cut them back because they never gave up the ghost. They had roses blooming right up into the freeze and then just shrugged it off and came back for more. I figured I should at least trim them down and in a passing fit of pruning and, I do mean passing, I was on my way to the garage at the time, I grabbed the clippers and whacked a few stalks. Since I was on the way to the garage, read—to the car wearing a skirt and heels, I did not happen to be wearing my skanky gardening gloves, so I just left the stalks on the ground…"to be picked up later." We all know what happened next. The thing I didn’t count on however was that a month and a half later, after my blinding by Dr. Mengele, that I would find those clippings laying on the ground—GROWING. Just laying there, abandoned on the pathway, uncovered, out in the open, like they never even realized they were no longer attached to the bush. This place is so weird. So, I put them in some water and I’m hoping to have enough roots to plant them this summer. Maybe they’ll have roses for December. Of course at this rate they might have them next week. Hooray for horse poo!

And so now here I am glued to my office chair, literally, because it was the only way I would stay in here long enough to blog, the tulips are blooming the sun is shining and the air is filled with bird song and spring perfume. The garden centers are plying their wares again like the seedy pimps that they are and I am feeling like a eunuch at a porno convention. I am clearly going to have to, uh hmm…grow a pair and start yanking if I ever plan to take a walk on the wild side. Of course monogamy isn’t so bad. Not when you have something so tender, pretty, challenging and rewarding, always happy to greet you in the morning and smiling at you like you’re the best thing that ever happened on Earth. Gardening and marriage, full of bugs, disappointments, challenges and incomprehensible mood swings and one of the most rewarding relationships you can ever imagine. Springtime reminds me of why I fell in love in the first place…I don’t even mind picking the mess.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Signs of Life

Hello blog friends. Last week it was full on spring around here. The sun was out playing with big fat fluffy clouds, the wind chasing them both around the sky. The tulip fields were showing off their new party dresses and the birds were chattering away about their plans for the future. Less than a week later and I’m completely confused about which season we’re in. So too, is my garden. When the sun was out and the sweaters were off, the tulips made a mad dash onto the stage and just as show time drew near, the curtain came sogging down--it was soaking wet.

And that’s what I love about the Northwest. It’s totally schizophrenic. It doesn’t know if it wants to be coastal, rain forest, farmland, high desert or urban chic. It’s got water coming and going in every direction imaginable and even in some directions unimaginable. It can’t decide if things are going to grow strictly out of the ground, out of old logs, on top of concrete or just hanging in mid air. And heaven forbid you try to pin down the weather for longer than 15 minutes. You can get whiplash out here just getting your coat off and on. We’ve given up completely on umbrellas, it’s just too darn dangerous.

I suppose that like the people, the plants here have just learned to live between the drops. In spite of the mostly unreasonable rain/hail/snow this week the tulips, daffodils and forget-me-nots, etc. have continued to bloom. I just haven’t been able to get out there to enjoy them much. Oh, and yes, I did say snow. Thankfully none of it stuck, but it was a very nice display of big fat fluffy flakes. Between bursts of blinding rain and pelting hail the sun peeks out for a bit and I’ve managed to run outside with my trusty camera for a few minutes to snap some pictures before my fingers freeze up. It’s fascinating to me that in spite of the whine worthy weather the flowers are still maintaining their steady march toward blooming glory.

What I love about this insanely unreliable weather here is that it is as true a reflection of human nature as you can get. It’s not always warm and sunny, nor is it consistently cold and gloomy. It’s tempestuous and unreasonable one minute, mild and pleasant the next, then randomly glorious and entirely resistant to prediction. It never lets you forget that you are in an active committed relationship with a living breathing entity. Just as we have moods and emotions that are effected by innumerable forces and events so does the weather. It is the breath of the planet, the sound of it’s heartbeat and the voice of it’s soul.

I whine and complain like the cantankerous other half of an old married couple when I don’t get my way, and it howls with bitterness reminding me of who’s the boss in this eternal, sometimes infernal, relationship. But there is also cooing and soothing, warm smiles and gentle breezes. There are sunny days filled with golden bliss, making me fall in love all over again, forgetting the squabbles and frigid stares that tormented me so. Gifts of sweet flowers are offered in supplication and like any lover I am easily wooed from my anger. I will eagerly forgive the long dark months of harsh cold treatment for one warm glowing day. I will feel the earth’s warm breath on the back of my neck and smell the sweet gentle fragrance of rain washed air as I gladly accept the gift of spring. Summer will whisper in my ear that the whole world is in love with me and I will believe it. And it will even be true…for that moment. It’s all we have really. Just one moment before the next is all that we can truly claim. Life is like the weather, always changing, never in isolation, terrifying and beautiful in an instant.

I love living here, on the edge of weather. It can be plenty frustrating and certainly takes its toll sometimes but it is never boring. I like the banter and the bickering, as a matter of fact I think I thrive on it. I live for the days when the sun plays hide and seek with the clouds, the wind playing keep away with my hat. Icy stares that turn the world into diamonds and the long simmering gazes that turn everything into liquid gold. I like not knowing what’s coming next, always being kept on my toes and wondering if the sun will shine on me today or if a cold blast of indifference will greet me. I like being reminded that life is a moving action, a thing to participate in, actively engaging as each moment approaches. I love that the ever changing weather here reminds me that every day, every moment is a new one, that every second is changing and moving. This incredible inconsistent uncertain weather reminds me that time is alive. That I am alive and my time is now.