Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Gardening in July
My garden always looks bedraggled and overgrown in late July. The early summer flowers are spent and the foliage is flopping and brown; so I cut it down to encourage a new flush of foliage but that takes several weeks to appear. So now what? This year I went shopping for super sales on annuals, potted them up and placed them in the bare spots. I like it. Next year I think I will buy extra annuals in early spring and propagate them into "nursery pots" ready for placement in July.

I met Renee earlier this week to look at the landscape plan for her backyard. She may comment on this further, but her objectives were to eliminate some of the grass, attract birds, tie together existing elements (clumps of trees, perennial garden, deck and bog), add an understory to the trees, and screen view of neighbor's house. The designer did an excellent job with design and plant selection. Since work was underway, we headed over to her house to see the transformation. My favorite part was the bluestone patio and walk off the deck. Instead of trying to tame the bog, Joe Pye weed and filipendula rubra are being used to make the transition from wild bog to landscaped yard. A raised bed using river stone was added to the middle of the yard and planted with shrubs and plants bearing berries and seeds to attracts birds. Two clumps of trees were tied together into one large bed with a small strip of grass between it and the raised bed. On the other two sides of the raised bed are pea gravel paths edged with river stone and mulched beds. Here are some of the plants she added: Kerria, several viburnums, Henry Lauder's Walking Stick.

A friend invited me to her house this morning to discuss plant ideas for her rock garden. Before going over there, I pulled out my reference books and read up on suitable plants. When I got there, it was not a rock garden, but rather a large raised bed with fieldstone walls. I'm not a garden designer, but we had fun for several hours determining her objectives for the garden, siting the focal point, and doing a rough sketch with some plants. Her husband may be surprised to discover that he will be putting in a water garden, although she assured me that he loved doing that type of stuff. I did "borrow" some ideas from Renee's plan, but it will look totally different. I'm anxious to see how it turns out.

Yellow Belt
Ron passed his Hapkido examination last Friday night and got his yellow belt.  This has been a good experience for him.  He just glowed with the accomplishment.

Ricky's camp adventures
He was flying high when I picked him up last Friday, chattering all the way home while assuming typical cool teen poses in the car.   No letters home though -  "Didn't have time, Mom" -  but he appreciated the emails I sent him.   Arriving home, Steve asked him about camp.  Cursory answer.  I've discovered the boys talk right after an event, but their attention soon turns to other adventures and then the story dribbles out it bits and pieces.

His body is bruised and battered, but not broken.  The counselors told me that he was the target of some hazing, but it appears to have been handled well based on questioning Ricky.      Even though this was church camp, he did pick up some new words and discovered mooning.  He has not tried it out yet, but I can tell he thinks it is funny. 

Monday, July 26, 2004

I sat down this morning with the intention of adding several posts - Ricky's camp adventures, night on the riverboat, late July flower gardens, more on funeral songs - but Renee sent me an IM asking if I wanted to meet for coffee in a few minutes and look over the plan! That is the landscaping plan for her back yard.  I'm off.   I've got priorities you see. 

Friday, July 23, 2004

eh? or is it huh?
I awoke this morning to the most beautiful clear blue sky.  It was about 70 degrees and no humidity.  What a change from the week of 90 degrees with 90% humidity.  Ricky's still at camp and Ron was helping his Dad so I took advantage of the weather and free time to tend the gardens at the church. 

People often stop and talk while I'm gardening.  That is one of the blessings of gardening at the church.  Today was no different...except one woman.  "Do you do anything else with your life except take care of this garden?"  eh?  She followed that question with, "That's sedum.  It is so ugly.  I never did like sedum."  huh?  My irritation with her has disappeared, replaced by feelings of pity.  With those social skills, I suspect she has few friends.  I think I was gracious but I was so dumbfounded that I'm not sure.   
Name Games
After bantering about our names, Steve decided his Halloween costume this year would be Mothra.   Yes, my given name is Martha and I'm a mother and I like flowers. 

We decided the moth would be easier to make, but the caterpillar would be scarier.   I think this is just talk, but he is the man who built a sidewheeling river boat, so we'll see.

Has anyone seen this movie?  Somehow I missed it.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Favorite Hymns
The comments under "Blessings" made me wonder about my favorite hymns, specifically what hymns are so meaningful to me that I want them at my funeral.  With time and more thought I suspect this list will change, but here are my first thoughts:

  • Amazing Grace of course would be on the list, just don't sing it to the tune of Gilligan's Island
  • Be Thou My Vision has both meaningful lyrics and a haunting Celtic tune  
  • It Is Well With My Soul has always been a favorite.
  • And finally, the version of  Swing Low Sweet Chariot on the olds Blues CD I have
  • Oops, I almost forgot Mahalia Jackson's song about what she's going to do when she gets to heaven.

What songs do you want played at your funeral?   

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Who to believe?
Steve and I discussed the Berger affair this evening.  I first heard it on NPR.  He first heard it on Rush Limbaugh (which he does NOT listen to when I'm in the car).   I heard that Berger took some papers home and misplaced them, but the papers weren't important for the 9/11 commission.  Steve heard that he stuffed them down his pants like a common shoplifter. 

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Rick and I took a break during the Third Day concert at the amusement park.  He looked at me and said, "Let's hurry back, Mom, and continue getting blessed by God."
Third Day is a high-powered Christian rock band with a high energy show, with a southern rock flavor.  It was one of my favorite bands at the three day Spirit Fest concert, but I knew a few of their songs from singing them at church.
One of my regular readers mentioned in her blog that she doesn't like Christian music.  I didn't comment, but I firmly believe there is no such thing as Christian music, only Christian lyrics.  The music of many of our "ancient" hymns started as bar songs with Christian lyrics replacing the bawdy words.  I think those who don't like "Christian music" usually don't like contemporary music regardless of the words.  But Christian music can be pop, rock, bluegrass, classical, folks, and gospel (of course).  I can't think of a single Christian jazz song or band, but it may exist somewhere.

Monday, July 19, 2004

Skateboarding for Jesus
I delivered Ricky to the Outer Edge Skate Boarding Church Camp this afternoon.  He's staying in a geodesic dome tent (with a wooden floor) with 11 other boys.  No electricity and no running water.  They will be traveling to area skate parks.  This is his first time at camp and the first separation from his twin other than overnight stays at grandparents.   I think it was harder for me to leave him than for him to have me leave.  At least I can send him emails and I sent him with stamped addressed envelopes with the hope that he will write home.

Sunday, July 18, 2004

Misunderstandings can occur when a boat person (my husband) says to a garden person (me), "That tiller sure worked great today." For a moment I thought I had a new garden bed, but he had perfected a way to steer his gasoline-powered, sidewheeled river boat.

Saturday, July 17, 2004

I'm Back
I survived three days at the amusement park.  Then one day home for laundry and repacking and the boys and I headed off to the lake.   Is this a linguistic quirk of northern Indiana or does everyone say "The Lake" when it could be one of hundreds in the region?  We rented a cottage on a small fishing lake and the boys weren't sure they wanted to go because no speed boats are allowed.  In fact, trolling motors aren't even allowed.  You have to paddle or row or pedal your boat.   They had such a great time they didn't want to come home midweek - fishing, kayaking, swimming, Scrabble, birding.  But I insisted they come home, because my husband had arranged for me to have the last three days at the lake with my girlfriend.  It was a much needed rest and now I'm ready for the rest of the summer.     

Thursday, July 08, 2004

Summer Fun
The boys and I are off to an amusement park for three days and two nights with the church youth group. I'm bringing four books. Hope that helps see me through. It is suppose to be hot, hot, hot and humid. I suspect I will spend most of my time at the water park, reading. Well, that's where I told people they would find me. I'm looking forward to the evening concerts though.
Plant Talk
"I have found my spiritual gift" said a friend after working in the church gardens. "Deadheading."

I've thought about this as I've snipped spent flower stalks in my garden this week. As much as I love flowers, there is pleasure also in cleaning up the plant after its display, tranforming my ragged garden into a rich tapestry of foliage. Some plants I let go to seed because I want more next year; others I snip immediately to encourage a flush of new growth and perhaps more blooms. Confession: I sometimes thank the plants for their beautiful display and wish them well as I cut the flower stalk, clean up dead leaves and inspect for bugs.

When Ron was little, he helped me plant tulips. As he put the bulbs into the ground, he'd say, "Go to sleep little bulb." And as he patted soil over them, he'd say, "See you in the spring." I started to laugh, until I realized he was mimicing me. I wasn't even aware that I talked to the bulbs as I planted them. Nothing like children to make you aware of your behaviors.

Sunday, July 04, 2004

Home Projects
The view of house, after crossing the creek, has improved dramatically with some simple but intensive maintenance projects last week. The biggest was handwashing the siding. Yes, I know we could have used a power washer and chemicals, but it needed the intense attention of a scrub brush and cloth, similar to floors needing an occasional hand scrubbing instead of the routine mopping. Of course, we dripped all over the windows, so they are (mostly) freshly cleaned. Then a few paint touch-ups and the house just shines!

Now we are tackling Steve's workshop, replacing the industrial siding with vinyl that matches the house. Steve runs an efficient crew and the boys are learning a lot, including a practical application of geometry to calculate the area of the gable ends to determine how much siding we need to purchase.

They are also learning about working hard for eight hours. The first morning we got up early and put in four long hours and then broke for a leisurely lunch. The boys thought the workday was done, but they were in for a surprise when we went back at it for another four hours.

Friday, July 02, 2004

Love In A Time Of Danger

Baldilocks links to this must-read post. Here's the teaser.

Sean does not like it when I call him a 9/11 Victim. He tells me he's not a victim. His coworkers who died were victims. His wife of ten years was a victim. He was just there when it happened.

When we are together, I ask him questions about her. He is patient with me, explaining their relationship, not diminishing it just because she is no longer here, which I appreciate. I listen, trying to understand how it must feel to be in his skin and to live through that day and the thousand days that have passed. A few weeks ago, while in New York, I sat on the counter of his modern kitchen while he poured glasses of red wine. On the fridge was a snapshot of his wife and their son taken in Central Park that September. She's tiny, with a brown ponytail, bright brown eyes, and a natural, genuinely happy grin. I didn't feel like an interloper, exactly. Maybe an observer. A witness. Had things been different, she is the kind of woman who might be one of my best friends.

Instead, I'm dating her husband.

Go read it all.