Things Are Happening

I dragged out my hoses today and watered my plants. I don’t know if it was the right thing to do, since I don’t know if they need water, but I am erring on the side of wetness. We haven’t had any moisture for several days now, and the last time it rained for any length of time was more than a couple of weeks ago. Considering that today was the first of a series of 80 degree days, the water seemed called for, but I might be sorry when the temperatures drop again. And they will. The last frost around here is around the fifth of May, and that’s still a month away.

The problem with an area like this with early warm temperatures and late frosts is that so often plants grow expecting it to be spring and then go into shock when they realize they woke too early.

Eventually, I’m sure, I’ll be more confident when it comes to gardening, but for now I have to do what I think the plants will appreciate during these unseasonably warm days, and that is give them water and hope I’m not overwatering.

So far, it seems, most of my bushes came through the winter okay. The only ones that seem to have given up the ghost are those that struggled all last summer. Luckily, I am in this for the long haul, so the garden spots in my yard don’t have to be perfect. It’s more important for me to cultivate plants that will survive the wide swings of temperatures.

The most surprising thing so far this spring is that bulbs are springing up all over the place. The first fall I was here, I planted 300 bulbs all around the front lawn area, hoping to see flowers midst the green, but not only did a scant few of the bulbs peek out of the ground, the grass remained inert, too. I figured the bulbs were a lost cause, but apparently not.

It’s amazing what even a sort of wet winter will do! So far, though, only the greenery is visible. No buds. The crocuses bloomed, but they were short-lived. Now the glory of the snow is coming up, and they seem to be hanging around a bit longer than the crocuses did.

Someday, maybe, I will have a yard to be proud of, but for now, the bushes are still tiny, the greengage plums are trying to decide if they want to live here, and many of my fall plantings seem to be hibernating.

Tomorrow, perhaps, a couple of the workers will come to lay out more rock. (Another reason I watered today. I didn’t want to get in their way if they do show up.)

So little by little, things are happening.

***

What if God decided S/He didn’t like how the world turned out, and turned it over to a development company from the planet Xerxes for re-creation? Would you survive? Could you survive?

A fun book for not-so-fun times.

Click here to buy Bob, The Right Hand of God.

A Thrill of Rain

It rained last night and most of the day. The dreariness of the dark clouds and the windblown drops could have made this an unpleasant day, but instead, there seemed to be a feeling of excitement, as if the sodden ground was thrilled by the possibilities of spring.

Or maybe it’s just me feeling thrilled. After the dryness of the past years, seeing so much rain is a joy. Besides, the chance of seeing green shoots this year, perhaps some flowers, adds a bit of effervescence to the grayness, though I don’t want to get too excited. After all, there are still weeks of possible freezes coming up, and around here, any freeze after the start of spring can kill off incipient blossoms or keep them from budding in the first place.

Still, it’s fun dreaming of greener days.

During the fall, when the workers were here putting in the sidewalk, they used a skid steer, which pretty much tore up my lawn, though lawn is a misnomer. Since I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with the yard, last year I didn’t water what grass there was, so basically the workers just created more bare spots in the brown grass.

People tell me that Bermuda grass is hard to kill, so I’m hoping the rain will resurrect the grass in the dead zones. If not, I’ll think of something to plant once the pathways are in. That way, I’ll know where to plant things so I can take care of them. The scattershot approach to planting bulbs seemed like a good idea, but without knowing where I’d planted things, I didn’t know where to water when rain was scarce. This year, every time I see a bulb, I mark it with a stake, so I’ll know where to water. For now, the clouds are doing the watering for me, dumping plenty of moisture on the grateful ground. We won’t be warming up too much in the next few days, so perhaps the ground will remain wet for a while, giving any lazy bulbs time to wake up.

The gray day put the croci to sleep, but one more dwarf iris did find its way to the surface. A pleasant surprise in a surprisingly pleasant day.

***

What if God decided S/He didn’t like how the world turned out, and turned it over to a development company from the planet Xerxes for re-creation? Would you survive? Could you survive?

A fun book for not-so-fun times.

Click here to buy Bob, The Right Hand of God.

Croci

The plural of crocuses can be crocuses or croci, but either way, a plurality of crocuses is a beautiful sight.

I didn’t realize it, but crocuses are from the iris family. Even more interesting to me is that crocuses were originally grown as a spice — saffron — though not all crocuses yield saffron. Saffron only comes from the saffron crocus, a fall blooming crocus.

I don’t know why, but I never particularly liked crocuses. Maybe they weren’t showy enough for me or too low to the ground or some such, but now I am delighted with mine, especially since the blooms were a surprise. Only yesterday, the plants looked like tiny tufts of grass, and considering my non-green thumb, I wasn’t expecting anything from them, though did I hope they might bloom eventually.

When I stepped outside this morning to see if there were any new signs of life, the croci were in bloom, a welcome splash of color in my otherwise drab yard.

I made my rounds, checking the ground for other signs of life, and found another area where crocuses might be coming up. It’s like an Easter egg hunt, though I don’t collect the plants, I merely mark them so I don’t end up walking on them.

I planted the crocuses this past fall, and I spent a lot of time digging a flower bed, measuring the proper depth, and making sure they had enough water all through the winter. In the rest of the yard, the shoots digging their way up to the sun are a surprise since so few of them came up last year, and because of the drought, I figured they’d all died. Such a surprise to see so many potential flowers!

Once my paths are in place, I might even find the courage to plant more bulbs this fall. Or I might chance planting a few bulbs this spring in the hopes of summer blooms. The problem is that because of our winters, the spring-planted bulbs need to be dug up every fall and replanted in the spring, and I haven’t want to do that, but as time goes on, and I get more comfortable with gardening (and the plants stop taking one look at me and dying in despair), I might be more willing to do the work.

Meantime . . .

Croci!

***

What if God decided S/He didn’t like how the world turned out, and turned it over to a development company from the planet Xerxes for re-creation? Would you survive? Could you survive?

A fun book for not-so-fun times.

Click here to buy Bob, The Right Hand of God.

Frigid Temperatures on the Way

I spent the morning getting my yard ready for the frigid weather that’s headed our way. I did one last watering, then stored the hoses and insulated the outside faucets.

And I planted bulbs.

After last year’s fiasco, where I planted many bulbs and almost none came up (due probably to my following directions and not watering them during the early spring drought as I probably should have), I hadn’t planned to do any more bulb gardens, but I donated a few dollars to the Arbor Day Foundation, and they sent me bulbs for a purple garden.

I followed their directions exactly. Dug down deep to loosen the soil in the whole garden area (as difficult as it was, it was easier than it sounds because this particular garden is only about two-and-a half by four feet), planted the bulbs at the requisite depth, and watered extremely well.

I took a picture of my garden, but it looks like . . . dirt! So here is the photo of what it would look next spring in the hands of a real gardener:

Halfway through all this work, I wondered if I was jumping the winter gun because I was HOT. By the time I finished rolling up the hoses, however, cold winds had sprung up, bringing a promise — or a warning — of cooler weather. Although the high today will be near seventy, the low tonight will be in the twenties, and tomorrow we won’t warm up beyond the mid-forties. Saturday will be warm again, in the seventies, and then it will get really cold, down to 10 or 15 degrees with a high around freezing. Brr. Just the thought makes me shiver.

Luckily, I just stocked up on tea! Nothing warms me — body and soul — like a special tea. The one I’m drinking now is called Breakfast in Paris, and is a combination of black teas, lavender, bergamot oil, and vanilla. Very nice! Though truthfully, I could still enjoy the tea if frigid temperatures weren’t on the way.

***

What if God decided to re-create the world and turn it into a galactic theme park for galactic tourists? What then?

Click here to order the print version of Bob, The Right Hand of God
Click here to purchase the Kindle version of Bob, The Right Hand of God.

Deep Thoughts. Or Not

My last few posts have been more think pieces than my usual diary-like posts as I tried to figure out the truth of what is going on, but today, there isn’t a single thought in my head. Not a deep thought. Not a silly thought. Just . . .

It’s been a pleasant day so far, but I’m not sure it has anything to do with thinking, overthinking, or no thinking. It’s more a matter of having accomplished something.

I’d ordered some summer bulbs a few months ago, thinking my garage would be done by now and I could start landscaping, but nope. Not a single wall has gone up. Even worse, the yard is cluttered with building materials, the things that are supposed to stored in the garage, a metal carport that has already been traded but not yet taken away, and leftovers from the fence and other projects.

Still, the bulbs were just sitting in their packing materials, probably crying out for the sun, so I found a place for them in the yard that won’t be in the way of the workers when/if they ever show up.

I even connected a hose to the front yard water faucet, which is not as easy as it might seem. In fact, last fall when I tried to connect a hose, water spewed all over the place. Enough came through the hose that I was able to water the bulbs I’d just planted. (Some of which recently peeked above the ground, saw who was going to take care of them, and committed hari-kari instead of waiting for my ignorance to do the job for them. Others didn’t even bother checking to see what was going on.) Today, I cleaned the rust from the nozzle with Vaseline, and then the nozzle screwed on.

Such excitement, right?

I hope your day is as pleasant as mine is.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

Treasure Hunt

I’ve been going on a treasure hunt every day, looking for signs of spring. A few leaves from the bulbs I planted have started peeking through the soil, which has been fun to see.

Even better, as a special surprise, I found one dwarf iris blooming in a far corner of the yard.

I suppose it’s just as well most of the bulbs haven’t yet broken ground — it’s snowing right now, and I’m not sure how hardy the poor things are. It’s not that cold, though, so they should be okay. (I’m okay too, sitting here at my warm computer, thinking of the flowers to come, and drinking a cup of blueberry tea.)

The most interesting aspect of the bulbs so far are the ones I didn’t plant. Last year, I noticed there were a few flowers by the garage — a crocus, an allium or two, and a couple of daffodils.

We thought it was the watering of that small garden plot that caused the problems with the garage’s foundation, so I tried to move as many bulbs as I could. I dug deep and sifted through the soil several times, and thought I’d gotten them all, but this year, there is an expanse of growing bulbs — several dozen at least. Considering my efforts to dig up the bulbs, the disturbance of the soil when the garage was torn down, and the additional digging when the sidewalk was pried up, there really shouldn’t have been any bulbs left. But there they are — if they survive the snow.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

 

So it Goes

Updates!

Tomorrow the concrete truck is coming to pour my garage foundation. Yay!

It’s been rather warm lately, so I connected my hoses and watered the bushes that were transplanted. (The guys who dug my garage foundation were very kind and transplanted the lilacs and native roses they had to dig up to make room for the garage. Service above and beyond!) After all that, I certainly don’t want the poor shocked plants to die, so I watered them again today. (I watered them when they were replanted, but not since then.) Then I figured I might as well water the still inert bulbs. I don’t know if that’s the right thing to do, but since they are not yet established, I figure it couldn’t hurt. Maybe they’ll think (to the extent that plant matter can think) that it rained.

I did find another blooming snowdrop, as well as two or three green tips poking out of the ground. Considering my success rate (a whopping 1% so far!), I ordered some summer bulbs, including a few for a moonlit garden. I hadn’t planned on ordering more bulbs, but the company kept offering me free shipping, and free shipping is a terrible thing to waste. I also ordered a frog to bring me — or rather the poor plants who have to depend on me — good luck. Besides, a friend said I needed to buy my house an anniversary present every year (which is what she does, and she’s my house-owning hero, so I like to follow her suggestions) and I figured the frog, being so frivolous, is the perfect celebratory gift. I suppose the garage would have been an adequate anniversary present, but okay, I admit it — I just wanted the frog.


I considered having a party to celebrate my house ownership anniversary this Saturday, but I don’t do well with groups — I tend to feel superfluous, and I certainly don’t want to feel superfluous in my own home — so I invited my neighbor for tea, then got the courage to invite another friend, and then a couple more, so now I have . . . not a party, since they will be coming one at a time, but perhaps an open house. So, if you are in the area on Saturday, stop by for tea and maybe even some cake and ice cream.

In honor of this anniversary, a friend sent me a house. Actually, a room in a house. Well, actually, a room in a virtual house. It’s Jackie Lawson’s curio collection, and oh, such fun!


There’s all sorts of puzzles and trinkets and things to click, including a mandala maker. And now I have a new obsession (as if I needed another one!). Making mandalas online is such a kick. There’s no such thing as an ugly creation.


And just an aside — at a meeting today, we were told the guidelines for avoiding coronavirus: “wash your hands.” Um, really? Why aren’t people already washing their hands? Soap and water help prevent all sorts of diseases, including the miscellany of viruses included in “flu.” 200,000 deaths from flu doesn’t worry people, but 2,000 from this new disease does? This is at least the fifth would-be pandemic I’ve lived through. Maybe because I always wash my hands. And since I’m griping — the CDC says to wash your hands with soap and water, so why are stores running out of hand sanitizers and not soap?

But so it goes.

Maybe I’ll go make another mandela.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator

Oh, the Responsibility!

About two months ago, a friend gave me a small succulent (3” including the pot). Even though I liked both the plant and the pot it was in, I hesitated about accepting it because . . . well . . . responsibility. I’ve had enough responsibility in my life and now I don’t want to be in charge of another living thing. In the end, though, I accepted the gift — I figured that come spring, I could plant the succulent in my yard.

But no. A little research showed that this particular gem would not be able to survive the winters here.

So, now I have the responsibility for watering the plant and making sure it gets enough sun. Oh, my! Such an onerous task! I’ve already had to water once. And I will have to water again in a couple of weeks.

Despite my tongue-in-cheek tone, I do worry about the poor thing. My record for keeping plants alive is . . . hmm. Let me think. Oh, yes — zilch.

I’m not much of a gardener, never have been. My second to last attempt to plant anything was eight years ago when someone gifted me with a Bonsai kit (planter, soil, seeds), and that result was typical — seedlings that poked their head above the soil, looked around, saw who they would be dependent on for their very lives, and promptly gave up their ghosts. I planted lights in the planter after that, and we’re all happy. Nothing to kill, just a bit of beauty when the nights grow long.

The results of my last attempt, planting bulbs in my new yard, are still to be determined. Meantime, my little succulent seems to be doing well.

But oh! The responsibility!

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

Field of Hopes, Field of Dreams

A friend asked how many holes I’d dug, and what I planted. It was easier to answer here than as a comment, and besides, it brings me one day closer to my goal of 100 continuous days of blogging.

I must have dug a hundred holes. I had more than three hundred bulbs, and approximately three went into each hole (all properly spaced properly). In retrospect, it was silly doing it all in one day because I worked too hard and ended up with a bad cough that is preventing me from doing anything, especially not planting the last ten bulbs (lilies) that I’d planned to put along the fence in the backyard.

I really don’t see how I could have done it differently, though. I wanted the bulbs intermixed so that the yard will look less like a formal garden and more like a splurge of flowers in a field, and so it pretty much all had to be done at the same time.

I planted lots of tulips and daffodils. Anemones. Snowdrops. Crocuses. Dwarf iris. Larkspur. Grape hyacinth. Aconite. Bluebells.

And I planted hopes and dreams. Dreams of a lovely yard come spring. Hope that spring will in fact come, that the bulbs will flower, that I will still be here, that I will continue to find joy in the little (the best!) things of life.

(The photo was taken this morning and shows the frost on my field of hopes and dreams.)

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

Holes!

I dug holes yesterday. Lots and lots of holes!

I’ve been told (and I’ve read) that one needs a plan when gardening, and my plan was to plant as many bulbs as I could as quickly and as easily as possible. There’s no real design to my holes — I just dug where it was easy to dig; if my shovel hit a hard spot where I planned to plant, I moved to another spot where the soil was softer. I don’t really care if there is any discernable design. I just want some color mixed in with the mostly brown grass. Also, once the flowers die and the leaves turn brown, the whole thing can be mowed, which seems like an interesting idea.

I’d gotten a bit carried away when ordering bulbs, and as it turned out, for the holes I dug, I got the right amount since the holes were big enough to house more than one bulb.

Of course, now my muscles are stiff and my throat sore, but it’s good to have it all done.

Now it’s a matter of waiting for spring to see what I have wrought!

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.