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.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Dentistry and the Dogs of Karma

I’m trying something new today and wanted to share it with you. My camera takes video but I have never bothered to use it. Why—who knows? Why does my camera shoot video to begin with? Why in the world does my phone take video and yet can’t make a decent latte`? These are questions I may never know the answer to. Just as I may never know exactly what Dr. Mengele, dentist extraordinaire, did to blind me and why he always offers me a blindfold when I come in. Sure they tell you it’s to shield your eyes from the bright light shining in your face but, he always seems just a tad too giddy when he hands them over for my taste. Why just this morning during my visit I was certain I heard him giggling behind his white paper mask. I reluctantly came back in for the final fittings of my crowns. I actually had to ask for a shot of Novocain. Bless his fool heart, he had suggested I wouldn’t need it. I wanted to be compliant, especially after the last visit, but when I jumped out of the chair like a first time nudist sporting a ruby red tush burn sitting on a cactus I had second thoughts about the wisdom of this choice. Who the heck did he think he was kidding with that anyway? Oh, that’s right—Me. The one peeling herself off the ceiling tiles and crying for her mother even though we all know I was raised by wolves. Now to clear a few things up. Dr. Mengele is a fine dentist. It’s truly not his fault that he’s an evil sadistic beast with sharp pokey instruments. I’m sure we can all agree that what’s important here is that he has found a fulfilling and meaningful career in the most frightening field ever invented. Most people of his caliber end up on America’s most wanted or wasting their superior talents in a concentration camp.

To date no one seems to be exactly sure of what happened on the last visit which resulted in an unfortunate absence of sight. Usually you don’t expect that sort of thing when you go to the dentist. Some pain and the usual weeping, sure but, blindness not so much. Of course it’s me and as Nutty Gnome has so elegantly phrased it, I am the Queen of Disaster. Now there’s a title a girl can be proud of. But she has a point. If there is a weird, deadly, unlikely, combination of bizarreness that will require several text books and a flock of desperate interns hopped up on double tall non fat soy milk latté’s and Peanut M&Ms to investigate, then I’m your gal. The last visit resulted in a hemotoma, an infection and a bad reaction to the Novocain. To make matters all the more annoying, the Novocain seems to be irritating the daylights out of the nerves and tissue around my eyes. I look like a raccoon turned peeping Tom at a chemical factory. (big red scaly burns ringing my eyes for those of you not up on your wildlife stalking behavior)
So far 2010 has had it out for me and though the year is still young, I’m wily and generally in a bad enough mood to put up a pretty good fight. If Karma really does exist then I’m pretty sure I must have been a real piece of work in my past life!

No matter. Currently I am going about my business like I actually deserve to live in spite of the broader message I seem to be getting. In honor of that blatant denial of the obvious, I have created a my first little slide show so can share with you how I spent most of my day after I snuck away from Dr. Mengele’s dental office and my eyes recovered. I’m glad they kept working for me because as you can see it’s spring here and there is nothing more beautiful to me than spring in the Northwest. The Saint and I went up to the Skagit Valley to take in some tulip viewing and latte` sipping. We were treated to some snow geese action in the bargain and I got some shaky video clips worthy of any drunken sailor during a high seas tumult. You might want to hit the Dramamine before viewing. I have zero video skills and you’ll not likely see me entering any swanky film festivals. As a matter of fact at this very minute I’m not sure I even possess the tech skills to upload this thing to the blog. Happy Spring and if we have met in a past life…I’M SORRY…for whatever it was I did—now call off your dog, Karma, I’m going to take a nap.