There’s a dragon in my garden.
There’s a dragon in my garden.
OK, that’s an exaggeration. The two cats did not have a bath though it may not be a bad idea.
The day started with Berry getting a bath. Early evening I had a long, luxurious soak. We’re wrapping up the evening with patio cushions soaking in the tub. In beween bathing events in the tub, there were laundry, dishes, more laundry, and another glorious day in the garden.
Little Berry Berry is still quite sick. Per the vet’s instructions, I have been feeding him extremely stinky critical care food watered down to the consistency of gruel via a syringe shoved into his mouth every two hours. It’s not pleasant for either of us, but he hasn’t eaten much at all for nearly 3 weeks. Critical care, indeed.
The good news is he seems a little better; the bad news is the gruesome gruel method of feeding provoked a bout of diarrhea this morning. And so we had Bath No. 1.
He was filthy before the attack of diarrhea, but it was harmless dirt. I didn’t want to bathe him given how sick he is and how cold it is. However, the stinky food excreted and soaked into his fur made a bath mandatory. He’s lost nearly 25% of his body weight over the past weeks and every lost ounce showed once he was soaked and lathered.
Poor little guy. We are not going to properly bond at this rate. The wet dog in the picture is Babette. Little Berry looked even more pitiful.
The diarrhea necessitated the washing of couch throws and pillows, my pajamas and the floor. All three probably needed cleaning anyway, but I really wanted to get into the garden. However, stinky critical care food excreted through the bowels of a sick dog left me no choice. I hate being a grownup pretty much all the time, but today especially so.
I did finally get into the garden. I managed to tame the leaves in the fenced part of the yard. The new little electric lawn mower is a peachy leaf mulcher and the old electric leaf blower is a champion mulch placement device. The garden beds giggled as I tucked them in with a couple inches of leafy blanket.
I do not understand why people wage such wars against leaves -war that involves raking and bagging or raking and burning. Chopped up leaves are a blessing and a boon to garden soil particularly that which tends toward clay. And mine doesn’t just tend; I could open a pottery studio. But over the years, leaf mulching has made it possible for me to plant daffodils like a normal gardener which means I don’t have to use the pick axe and auger.
By the time I was done, various body parts were complaining loudly. I crawled into the bathtub with Dr. Teal’s Chamomile Epson Salt Moisturizing Bubble Bath. Epsom salts are a gift! Sore muscles and menopause symptoms both will benefit from a long, leisurely soak in slickery, fragrant Epsom salts.
Following the bath, it was time for the next gruesome gruel feeding, but thankfully this one was uneventful. I was thus able to drag patio cushions upstairs to soak in a bath doctored with dishwashing soap and Oxyclean. After the wet summer, I’m afeared the mildew stains are permanent. I’ll probably ending up “dying” the cushions with house stain. I don’t really want dark brown cushions, but they’ll probably not show dirt like pale blue does.
So now I’m sitting here drinking wine from the Dollar General (no kidding – another blog post for another time) and thinking about the conversation I just had with Chef Boy ‘R Mine. Damn, I raised him well. (Connie preens and twirls.)
It did my evil little heart good to get outside in the garden today.
I hadn’t attended to any of the leaves until today because of the cataract surgery. When one lives in a forest, this is, perhaps, not a good idea. I am not exaggerating – I had fallen, unraked leaves that accumulated on their own into 1’ and 2’ piles in the fenced area of the garden.
I did a lot in the garden this past spring. Doug was recently discharged from the hospital and not well enough to be left alone for several weeks. That time period coincided with a streak of beyond-gorgeous weather that makes a body’s heart hurt.
I’m reading a book by Julia Keller titled A Killing in the Hills that is set in West Virginia. I’m not very far into the book, but she astounded me on pages 27-28 with her description of an Appalachia spring. I’ve spent years trying to develop a concise, accurate description that could be conveyed in writing without accompanying photographs.
It was a beautiful place, especially in the late spring and throughout the long summer, when the hawks wrote slow, wordless stories across the pale blue parchment of the sky, when the tree-lined valleys exploded in a green so vivid and yet so predictable that it was like a hallelujah shout at a tent revival. You always knew it was coming, but it could still knock you clean off your feet.
Imagine if you will that the acres surrounding my barn exploded into a lengthy mountain music version of the Hallelujah chorus. That was this past spring. Imagine now, piles of leaves waist high being mulched with a lawn mower. Can you hear the closing strains of those Hallelujahs as they shelter the plants for the winter under a blanket of leaf mulch. Yes, the wheel turns.
Gardening and writing keep me sane. Last spring, my sanity was hanging by a thread. Some would argue the thread broke. That stretch of spring, with its soaring melody, kept me grounded. Since Doug slept a lot, I spent a lot of time outside – often working by lantern light.
My long-time readers know that my garden is a work in progress – one that began with acres of packed gravel inches deep in unblastable clay. In the beginning, to plant a daffodil required a pick axe and sometimes an auger. After 22 years or so of waging battle against bad dirt, I was sure this year was going to be The Year My Garden Landed on the Cover of Southern Living.
By my standards, I poured a ton of money into the ground out back. I painted lawn furniture, bought new cushions, planted a dozen or so shrubs and bushes, and planted flats and flats of petunias and impatiens. I babied a patch of Irish moss, let lavender roam free, and lost all sense of prudence when I bought the fountain and the super-duper-big planter to hold a tropical, vining plant. This was going to be the year.
And then the rains came. The news described them as “scattered storms.” Every one of those scattered storms stalled over the top of my piece of heaven and monsooned. I joked and quipped and carried on about building a lotus pond combo moat to try and keep my barn from sliding off its foundation in a mudslide.
I measured daily rains in inches. Really. If memory serves, we had one of the wettest Mays and Junes of all time and I got more of those scattered storms than most.
And then Doug went into the hospital for the last time. As I moved into my role as psychopomp, the garden boiled in the wet heat. And then it was overrun with weeds. And then the lawnmower broke. And then I was grieving.
The garden is a mess. A passerby (if I had passerbys) would swear it’s been neglected for decades.
I’m hoping the weather holds for the rest of this Veteran’s Day weekend. I could do some serious cleanup, weeding, this-and-that’s and have a garden ready for frolicking come March. Last year was the first spring I was able to just leap into planting mode without having to spend on weeks on winter clean up. I’m hoping for a repeat.
It’s been abnormally warm. I found blooming petunias today as well as a climbing hydrangea with buds. It’s too much to hope that this weather will hold for long, but I’m enjoying it. My serotonin levels are enjoying it and I’m pretty sure my Vitamin D got topped off today.
Four months. I can hang on until then. Happy Veteran’s Day Weekend, y’all.
Life is pretty hard right now, but I spent most of the day with my hands in dirt.
My barn, our house, was very fine today.
For years, I’ve said, “More time, more time, more time,” is the mantra of my life. But upon recent contemplation, I’ve had a Eureka! moment and now know why “more time, more time, more time” should NOT be the mantra of my life.
I feel stupid and silly to just now be realizing this.
Mantra’s root meaning centers on that which protects the mind. My mind is not protected by scurrying about chanting Moretimemoretimemoretime like the White Rabbit on cocaine.
“More time, more time, more time” might describe the great need of my life – for decades now – but pleading endlessly for it has not worked. In the tradition of affirmations, I should be muttering “I have all the time I need.”
Or so they say.
I don’t think I could say, “I have all the time I need” and not break into hysteria-tinged laughter which would, no doubt, defeat any power the phrase had in terms of positive thinking.
Here’s what I know: I’ve been running at 90 miles an hour for weeks now and I’m not even close to caught up. On anything. The hurrieder I go, the behinder I get. (I’m not sure who said that and I’m too exhausted to look it up.)
For all of my behindedness, I am getting some things accomplished. I scheduled recreation this weekend and I scheduled chores. I completed all the recreation, but I’m woefully behind on chores.
Friday, Terrific Trudy came home from the vet. Her surgery was successful in that the vet thinks he got all of the cancer. While the incision(s) looked horrible, she acted as if she felt okay.
I also spent one-on-one time with my best friend. She and I killed a pizza and discussed life in general over glasses of wine.
On Saturday, I puttered in the garden weeding and planting all the little darlings I bought last weekend. Just before heading in to shower, I moved the houseplants outside and put them in the ground. (You should hear them all giggle when I do that. They get so excited – it’s like a summer vacation camping trip as far as they’re concerned.)
After showering, HMOKeefe and I headed to Charleston for our first date night as a couple who lives together. We had dinner with friends at the Tidewater and then ambled over to see Saint Stephen’s Dream: A Space Opera. Dinner and the performance were spectacular.
Today, HMOKeefe and I did (alert the press) empty the little closet and begin moving his togs into it. He no longer is living out of a suitcase in the guest room. After the closet triumph, I ran around in a White Rabbit on Cocaine Meets June Cleaver frenzy and vacuumed, scrubbed, laundered, dusted, sorted, scooted, corralled, set-up, tore-down and dejunked.
Alas. All the crap that was in the little closet is now spread all over the guest room. If I were a different person I might be tempted to say I have too many pieces of footwear. But we all know that I am never ever, not ever, no way Jose going to say something that silly.
It’s just after midnight – technically Monday already.
I still have to shower and figure out what I’m wearing tomorrow. Put in another load of laundry. Give Trudy her meds.
I swear. If I could just get caught up, I could stay caught up. But way too much life keeps happening. Still and all, these are the good old days. I think. No. I’m sure of it.
Perhaps that’s my mantra – These Are the Good, Old Days.
In any event, it’s now my earworm.
With all the busy-ness, drama, peril, stress and discombobulation of the past weeks, months, years, I’ve been out of sync with my universe. This statement is probably one of the biggest understatements of my life.
Three things ground and root me: friends and family, nesting and gardening, writing and creating. This great triumvirate of my life has been stripped of power for far too long and it is with great joy that HMO’Keefe’s arrival in West Virginia has put them back into office.
He and I have had separate lives that intersected too infrequently. We anticipated that blending our lives would create some flash points in terms of turf wars. My beloved barn is so much mine, we both feared the time it would take for it to feel like his while I adjusted to what might feel like his encroachment into my space would be uncomfortable for us both. This is one of the perils of independent, old folks moving in together. For this reason and several others which are actually more important, HMOKeefe and I have taken a pied-a-terre in town where we will live during the work week retiring to the country estate on the weekends. 🙂
[I find it completely ridiculous that I have a home in the “city” and a “country house” – I have yet to refer to either without feeling pretentious.]
I had great fun and great stress finding an apartment. I have never looked for a place to live before. Like the Wicked Witch of the East, houses just seemed to fall on me. I started this project eager and anticipating the process to be a big bunch of fun.
I approached the task of finding the pied-a-terre in a logical fashion. I created a wish list which included the neighborhood I wanted. Then I stalked that neighborhood, classified ads, real estate magazines, and Craigslist.
What people pay for rental property in Hooterville was a great shock to me. My optimism plummeted with every phone call not returned by a landlord, with every walk-through a roach motel and every apartment with no laundry facilities. [We are too old to be schlepping to the laundromat.] Finding a place for grownups to live in a college town is pretty damn difficult.
And, yet, my timing was perfect. I opened Craigslist at the very right second. I called the landlord at the very right second. I raced over to see the apartment at the very right second. And within 10 minutes of walking in the door, I was shouting “It’s mine, it’s mine, it’s perfect, I’ll take it!”
The apartment hit every bullet point on the wish list except one (ground floor). It is just beeee-youuuuuuuuuuuuu-tiiiiiiiii-fullllllllllllllllllllll. I’ve been consumed with ideas for decorating, furniture arrangements, and color schemes while simultaneously restoring order to the Barn. I have been up to my neck in domestic nesting.
The garden, alas, was neglected. The harsh winter, endless spring rains and real estate flitting translated into an eyesore of a garden.
Yesterday and today I ran around home improvement centers and nurseries buying bedraggled, late-season annuals to effect a quick aesthetic fix. I ran into a buy-one-get-one sale that went a long way to improving the garden. I ran out of time to get all the little (some of them sad) plants into the ground, but my equanimity has the warm fuzzies with the little bit I have done. I neeeeeeeeddddddddd to have my hands in dirt.
Now that HMOKeefe is here and is a tiny bit settled in (we have yet to begin the task of moving into the apartment), I’ve had some time to reconnect with friends. Last night, I sat in a dear friend’s garden with more dear friends. We played with twinkle lights, ate good food, drank cheap wine and had a fine time. These gatherings are dubbed “sisterings” and more than a decade ago, I helped to establish sisterings as a Friday night tradition. The craziness of my life has been such that I haven’t been able to attend with any regularity for years now. That sad state of affairs is coming to an end.
So, I’ve had time with my True Love, time with my friends, and tomorrow I trundle off to Charlotte to take my Baby Boy to dinner to celebrate his birthday. Throughout this week and weekend I have taken photos to bear witness. I’ve come to really enjoy the creative aspect of photo editing. I’ve written blog posts this week. I’ve nested, gardened, nurtured and created. I’ve hit all of my pulse points and life is good.
I had intended on posting way back in January that the slogan for this year was Almost Heaven in 2011. We’re about half-way through the year and things are on track.
I’ve also been remiss in acknowledging an award. Back in April (more than a month after my last blog post), I received email telling me my blog had been named one of the best West Virginia sites. In bestowing the award, The Very Best Sites wrote,
W.Va. Fur and Root is a self-proclaimed “hillbilly diva’s” blog (or, as she says, “blatherings”). Connie writes about whatever she wants, thank-you-very-much, and the title of her website comes from a sign that came with her old home, which she says is pretty much an old barn. She talks about nesting in that great old structure, but also talks about current events, TV, music, and pretty much whatever comes to mind. With terms like “Agog-O-Meter” I find her particularly fun to read, and so will you. She hasn’t posted in about a month, which I guess is because she is busy gardening, but read her older posts for a taste of something special.
As I think I’ve explained, I haven’t been busy gardening, but I have been busy. I’m very honored to have been listed as one of the best particularly in light of the other sites listed – many of them are favorites of mine and have characteristics that are goals for my blog.
It’s going to be a good summer. I’m sure of it.