Thursday, November 20, 2014

Coinkydinks


Most folks take one look at my blonde hair and instantly write me off as a blithering idiot. Like yesterday, when the Home Depot guy launched into a 10 minute tutorial on slab vs. pre-hung doors.

"I know the difference," I said, impatiently. Hoping to shut him up.

"You do?" He replied, more than a wee bit shocked.


It's always a surprise to people that I can handle most fixer upper projects all by my lonesome. I can wire my own light fixtures, install a door if I have to. And... I'm a ceramic tile expert. I am! Thanks to Hurricane Katrina.

My best bud, BK, and I, bee-lined it to the Gulf Coast, after the Katrina disaster, to volunteer with Habitat for Humanity. I even bought a brand new tool belt.
Habitat gave us a choice of projects. I chose roofing because I'm afraid of heights and I thought.. Hey! I can be a do-gooder AND fix an irrational fear ~ all in the same week! I was broomed from roofing duties in seconds flat. (Something about screaming bloody murder while I was up there. I guess it puts the other workers on edge.)
9th ward houses, after Katrina
Our next choice was ceramic tile ~ only because we had high hopes the interior of those homes would be air-conditioned. They weren't. In spite of the heat and humidity, we tiled a whole lotta houses in very little time.
Plotting a cowgirl theme for the new digs.
Sunday eve, I'm soaking in the tub, nearly in the dark, one candle burning. Not 'cause I wanted it to be all woo-woo and ultra spa-like. Because mine is the ugliest bathroom on the planet and it looks a little better in the pitch dark. But, it wasn't working. Even with that dim lighting treatment, all I could think about is new ceramic tile...

Me, being a ceramic tile expert.
And, then! The ultimate coinkydink. BK called and announced she was coming for a visit, arriving tomorrow afternoon. This is way better than a normal coincidence, because, you see, the gal lives in Italy. So it's a rare moment when she lands on my doorstep.

Oh, happy day! I thought to myself. Now how can I get her to put off the vacation agenda and devote every waking hour to fixing up my house?

Well, I didn't. We'z even-steven on ceramic tile talent ~ but she's way better at reading between the lines and figuring out my manipulation. However! I got a great dinner out of the deal. And, a manicure. And, a pedicure.

Plus! A renewed interest in making my bathroom pretty enough that I'll turn on the lights.



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Sunday, November 16, 2014

Wreck of the Hesperus


When's the last time you moved? 5... 10... 20 years ago?

As we get older, we tend to stay put and I wonder... is it because we were finally able to afford a house? A place to call home?  

Or... is it because moving is such a pain in the arse? :)

I've searched, in vain, through the many boxes demanding my attention, and have yet to find any of the kitchen items I so desperately need. Have been limping along with one iced tea glass for 12 days.  And, I broke it yesterday so now I am highly motivated...

My Mother lived in the same house her entire adult life.

Mom & Dad purchased their house when she was 21 years old and never once considered moving.

When you live in a place for so very long it is filled, to the brim, with really important junk you have absolutely no use for. Things you haven't looked at in decades but simply cannot throw away. [To her credit, chaos be damned, she always knew exactly where to find things.]

So, Mom has one up on me. I was thinking about that, this morning, during my desperate search for a bread pan. It's snowing outside. I want to bake bread. And, I could! If I'd get in gear and unpack all these boxes life wouldn't be such a mystery.

But, this house is in such a state of disrepair, it's hard to get motivated.

Where to begin? With the broken light fixtures? Replacing closet doors that, for some odd reason, the tenants decided to throw away?

12 years, as a rental property and, boy, did this house take a beating. I'd interview, check references, do the do-diligence but I never did find a decent renter in all that time. Either I'm a bad judge of character or tenants just don't care.

In spite of the mess, I'm still very happy to be here.

I outta the rut, into the red. (Long live Home Depot's 0% financing scheme) and I'm hopeful this pig sty feels halfway liveable by Christmas.

* You had to be a very special plant to accompany me on the big move. I kept the ancient Christmas cactus {20+ years for Aunt Edna.} The apricot 'kid' cactus who is aspiring to live as long as Edna. Uncle Henry ~ the 8 foot tall eyesore African Milk Tree ~ only because I couldn't sucker anyone into adopting him. :) Orchids, of course. And, the Azalea. We can't grow Azaleas in our high alkaline soil but I can happily enjoy their cheerful blooms, indoors.

** Wreck of the Hesperus is a cool, old poem, written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. The title phrase is often used colloquially to indicate a disheveled appearance. A fitting name for my new fixer upper.
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Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Summer of Discontent

They say you can never go home again. But, there's always a loophole in pretty much everything people swear to be true.

You most certainly can go home again. March right up there and pound on the front door! Sure! The new home owners will probably call the cops. But, what do you care? With any luck, you'll be handcuffed in the living room - so you'll get a glimpse of the new decor and decide if you approve.


The easier loophole is if you happen to own two homes.

Back in the dark ages of 2002.. I made the smartest dumb move one could ever imagine. I purchased a second home 3 miles outside the Park City city limits. It was zoned for horses. (Hey!) It was on this lovely street called Old Ranch Road. It was the answer to my dreams ~ and later on, my nightmares. 


You see... this is a freakin' boom town. Within a year of moving out to the country (?), I had 47 new neighbors (measures 100+ now.) And, as of last summer it was those 'neighbors' who started giving me the heebie jeebies.


Back when I was a corporate drone, lunchtime was networking time. Thankfully, I didn't kill myself during that chapter of my life.

Instead, I got outta that mess, redefined my life, and my chosen lunch partner. Ridding myself of odd co-workers in favor of my horse.

We'd saddle up every day 'round noon and do a quick little ride across the meadow and up the high hill. It got to the point where she'd stop the second she'd hear my cellphone ring. Drop her head, munch on some grass and let me do the freelance work that pays the bills.

UNTIL.

That fateful day last summer. When we saddled up, rode out the back gate and encountered a Private Trail No Trespassing sign - posted by my beloved neighbors who live in Mountain Ranch Estates.

Isn't that rude? Blocking off access to the only trail where my horsie and I can play. Geez! What type of people would take issue with two women riding their horses through a wildflower meadow? 

So, I'm mad. Mad as a hatter. Mad ALL summer long. Mad enough that I was in no mood to blog. Because, you see, I'm MAD!!!!

I guess you'd call it that proverbial straw that broke the camel's back. The traffic. The noise. The lack of privacy. Feeling as if I'm on public display whenever I'm in the front yard, weeding the gardens.

And, now turf wars over who gets to enjoy the wide open spaces.

It was all adding up to an unhappy affair. Wrecked the whole summer. But, what's a gal to do?

Here's the thing about life:
Answers always come. They are rarely the answers we want and sometimes we'd prefer not to hear them. But, they do come. And, if you are sad, then, at some point, you must listen.

Mine came in the form of a surprise phone call. The tenants in my house in town were planning to leave. I did what I always do.. make a list of fixer upper projects, post a sign that the joint is available for rent. But, then! I had a marvelous revelation.

Bye bye wildflowers.
HELLO ENGLISH GARDEN.
The one I planted 12 years ago.

So, I moved. Back to town. Where you'd expect it to be noisy and hectic but it's quiet and private and ever so civilized! I'm loving it. Been here a week and already planted 100 spring flower bulbs. It's also higher elevation. So let's just see what happens. Come Summer.

* The Summer of Discontent is a nod to my favorite author: John Steinbeck. Our Winter of Discontent should be on everyone's reading list. {Just sayin...}

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Friday, July 04, 2014

Outrageously Orange

My 'bottle rockets' are happily celebrating the 4th of July.
I've always had a mad crush on the color orange. Can't, for the life of me, figure out why it's considered the 'color of insanity.' Unless the folks who tell me that are trying to say that I am?


So, whaddyathink? Do you love orange? Do you hate it?

However you feel about orange, I'm sure you'll agree on one thing. Orange simply cannot be ignored.


I purchased a gorgeous orange dress one time. Back when I was skinny so I could wear pretty much anything. Except, maybe, that.

Whenever I wore it, people would ask me if I was feeling okay. Hmmm...


So, clearly orange is not my color. At least not on the bod.


But, that hasn't stopped me from squeezing it into every nook and cranny.. in the garden:



Here's hoping you're having a wonderfully lazy time of it during this holiday week. Happy 4th!
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Friday, June 27, 2014

The Apocalyse? And Perrennial Veggies

* Most vegetables are annuals and need to be re-planted every growing season. Scroll to the bottom of this post to view a list of veggies that come back year, after year.
What a lucky shot. A wee bee cruises in for a landing, just as I'm zooming in on the flowers.

Do you have an emergency preparedness plan? You know... like when the Zombie Apocalypse happens or something more boring... such as an earthquake?

There are ~ at least ~ 500 of these hot pink Knautia blooms, atop 3 foot stems, waving in the breeze. They're re-seeding themselves throughout the garden. (And, that's fine by me.)

I suppose that sounds kind of silly, asking about a preparedness plan, but it came up in a conversation, so I was wondering if you're more responsible than I am.

Dame's Rocket is another prolific re-seeder. Swallow Tail Butterflies 
love this plant, and call my gardens 'home' because of it.

I used to have one ~ a preparedness plan. After Hurricane Sandy hit, and my friends on the East Coast were devastated by it's force, I thought that might be a good idea. So, I got online and read a number of advice sites. Most of which were pretty darn hysterical. For instance, many of these websites advised me to pack a lot of videos to "keep the kids entertained." And, just how do I do that during a Zombie Apocalypse when the electricity is off?

Columbines not only re-seed, they hybridize with other Columbines, 
creating new color combos every summer.

So, I put pen to paper and calculated what all I would need to feed 5 people for 4 weeks. (I don't have 5 people in my family but you know how friendly folks can be when they run out of food.. best to plan ahead.)

Then I went shopping. For propane, candles, water purifying tablets, canned goods and... the whole time I was doing this I felt like an absolute paranoid nut bag.

Did you know that deer hate Poppies? Actually, all of those pesky vegetarians ~ deer, elk, 
moose and even my horses ~ say ix-nay to the oppies-pay. 
So, plant a drift of them when your country garden becomes a smorgasbord.

So, I was totally prepared! But, the big earthquake, tornado, day after tomorrow, whatever... didn't happen. And, me being the lazy gal that I am, I'd skip a run to the store, now and then, because I had a whole storage cabinet of groceries ~ ~ for when life as we know it no longer exists.

To some, Robins are so common they're barely noticed. But, I love 'em. 
This little babe has been hopping around my garden all week, 
greedily gobbling the worms I toss his way.

It was my daughter who asked about the emergency preparedness plan. Imagine my embarrassment when I had to tell her that we have exactly one can of black beans, for the 3 of us, forever, because I ate everything else in the cabinet. (I don't particularly care for black beans and that's why we'll still survive!)

But you're a master gardener! She exclaims. Yeah, well, if you like munching on flowers and worms, I've got you covered.


TIP:
Most vegetables are annuals, which means you have to plant them every year. Here are a few perennial veggies. Plant these once, and enjoy this harvest, year after year: 
  • Artichokes
  • Asparagus
  • Ground Nuts (called the Indian Potato, it produces beans and edible tubers)
  • Rhubarb

ANOTHER HOT TIP: EDIBLE WEEDS
You can happily dine on a lot of weeds in your garden, too. Or, my garden! Stop on by and I'll hand you a spade...
  • Dandelions: Salads, yes, but, more importantly, roasted and ground, they're an okay coffee substitute. (Now we just need to scavenge some fresh half & half.)
  • Clover: Only pink and red. Roast the flowers.
  • Lamb's Quarters: A cross between Spinach and Swiss Chard.
  • Mallow: Salads & cooked greens.
  • Plantain: Tea, salads and a terrific, natural, medicinal for open wounds. (Which could come in handy during the Zombie Apocalypse...)

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Sunday, June 22, 2014

Savor the Summit


The Grande Table...One, extra long, dining table stretching the length of Park City's Main Street..

It's called Savor the Summit and it is soooooo much fun!


The weather was fabulous (shock o' the world) and we got to enjoy the best our local restaurants have to offer... on a perfect evening beneath a blanket of stars...



Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Provincetown

An ice storm. In June. Soooo crazy.

Dark clouds hang heavy over the mountains. A deep, drenching rain nourishes the garden.

Tough little Lupines.

I flip on the furnace (in June?) and say a little prayer for the heirloom veggies I can't save. I can save quite a few, since I grow most of them in containers. Those I hauled indoors during this odd bout of winter weather.
Our beach cottage in Cape Cod
Wanna be a mountain gardener? First rule of thumb: optimists need not apply.

Cool garden gate, discovered on my travels.
No matter how warm and wonderful the weather... Mother Nature schedules one freaky cold snap, way late in the planting season. Just to torture us.


And, it's working! I find the weather quite depressing. 'Specially since we just returned from the beach. Cape Cod...

Where we held our very own lobster fest. As in gobbling every bit of lobster we could get our hands on. Boiled, broiled, breakfast, lunch & dinner! You name, we ate it! Great fun.

Provincetown shopping is such a blast.
I'd been invited out to Connecticut, for a few hard-working days of sales meetings. Here we be, working ever so hard:
And, since I was so close... I simply had to go a wee bit further and chill at the beach with my daughter.


I was anxious to get home, though. It's hard to be gone this time of year, when there is so much to be done in the garden.

But, then I get home.... and it snows?

Dang glad we had those warm days on the beach.


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