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Get Over It

By nature and gender, I am a compromiser, willing to get things done, willing to give anyone a second chance.  I am generally an optimist.  My family is almost totally conservative and I respect their right to an educated opinion.   But do not insult MY intelligence by asking me to just get over this election.  As if it’s a football game and my “team” lost.  As if this is any other election and the president elect is just like any other politician.  I am almost sixty years old.  I lived under the Bushes, Reagan and Nixon and Ford.  This man, the PE is nothing akin to any of them.   Unlike any who have gone before him, the PE has no public service, no government experience and no military record.  Unprecedented – many of the leaders of his own party have disavowed him.

 

I applaud President Obama and Secretary Clinton for their eloquence yesterday.  Given their love of our country and its people, you can bet that there are more words in their hearts than their positions allow.  Like the true statesmen they are, they measure their words carefully to assure the smooth transition of power and protect our country, a concept the PE was willing to upend like a board game if he didn’t get his way.

 

No – I am not okay.  I am in mourning.  There is a weight on my chest and fear in my belly.

 

I have a family that I love with all my heart.  It includes a son-in-law whose parents are immigrants.  It includes two daughters and two granddaughters.  It includes two grandchildren of color.  The PE has repeatedly insulted, demeaned and threatened all of them and bragged about it. Do not insult me by asking me to not be angry and watchful on their behalf.   Do not ask me to be relaxed about having my daughter’s and granddaughter’s most private health concerns in the hands of a man who has shown such contempt for women and their bodies.

 

I have dear friends who are of the LBGT community, who are the kindest people I know.  I have a son-in-law who has been working so hard to give disabled young people a chance to go to college, non-Christian friends whose lives and teachings have inspired me and grown my spirituality more than any church ever did.  Do not placate me – the highest office in the land has modeled and legitimized bullying – and I am afraid for their safety.

 

As I look out my window I can see the majestic Olympic mountains whose snowcaps retreat ever further each year.  What else will go missing in my grandchildren’s lifetime?  My grandson saw a fox on a science show and I mentioned that we once had them on our island.  We spent an hour reading about them as my heart sank knowing we would probably never see one here.  What’s next – the song of frogs in our pond?   There are days my darling, full of life granddaughter cannot play outside because the air is too toxic to breathe. Read that sentence again and tell me to my face not to worry.   The PE is contemptuous of science, calls climate change a hoax and has indicated that he will reject policies to help our planet remain habitable for generations.  The leader of the free world is refusing to protect OUR ONLY HOME.

 

The laundry list of unfit to govern could go on and on.  Doesn’t read, doesn’t prepare .  . . The ultimate act of bravery will come in these next few months as President Obama gives the nuclear codes to a man who can at best be described as a hothead and trigger happy. As I woke up this morning, I realized that for four long years my morning prayers and meditation must include lifting this terrifying weight from my chest in order to function. It would be the ultimate act of Pollyannism to pretend otherwise.

 

While I am certainly not unfriending anyone, if you voted for the PE or anyone else besides Secretary Clinton, you will find that I have lost patience with being nice and my words may bite. While I am still in the ashes, I sense that when I shake off the dust of disbelief,  I will be ever more bold and liberal.  If this is unpalatable to you, then unfriend me.  But make no mistake – your candidate may have won the election by an antiquated system designed when votes were carried by horseback, but the majority of PEOPLE did not vote for him and we will rise.

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A horse of a different color

I had ten yards of arborist chips delivered last week for mulching the garden beds.  The delivery man said, “Wow, you’ve got the thickest stand of horsetail I’ve ever seen on this island.”  Now I like commiserating as much as the next gardener, but shouldn’t he have offered a compliment first?  Or maybe he was . . .The horsetail is rather lush looking.  I have a very healthy 12′ x 100′  swath of it down one entire side of my garden.

The good news is that shrubs and the horsetail seem to co-exist quite happily.

Potentilla with horsetail

Potentilla with horsetail

The bad news is that you can’t even see the choice perennials that I sometimes succumb to. Maybe there’s a lesson there too.  Can I get rid of the horsetail?  I don’t think so.  Here’s what hasn’t worked: lime; gravel; covering a patch with black plastic to burn it out; pulling; mulching with compost, bark or wood chips.  We did some drainage work last spring to dry things out a bit, are now just snapping the horsetail stems at ground level and are adding high nitrogen via blood meal.  We’ll see whether those things plus doing more dense planting of shrubs will help convince the horsetail to eventually go the way of its pals, the dinosaurs.   But the horsetail has those thousands of years of survival skills on its side.  I’d better starting learning to live with it.

I’ve had to do some serious rethinking about beauty and what makes a good garden since moving to Whidbey’s more rural environment as in: a gravel drive needs some softening grass in it; windswept trees and shrubs are picturesque; the deer are always with us;  caterpillars drop nutrient rich poop.  I’m not so in charge here as I was in my suburban garden and most of the time that’s the way I like it.

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Aquilegia sp?

I love it when I find a plant that has seeded itself into my garden – like this columbine with stunning red stems and purple-flushed leaves or when I spy a cultivated plant like ajuga that has snuck its way into the grass at the side of the road.

Ajuga in the grass.

Ajuga in the grass.

I do promise to not share plants that may have shared the ground with horsetail as any little bit of root can regrow and populate quicky.  Obviously.  Because one gardener’s groundcover is another’s scourge.

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Don’t try this at home

Now can I have my sheep toy?

Now can I have my sheep toy?

Some of you may have read my post from October of 2012, Next Year’s Garden.  My confident manifesto that I could have a dog AND a garden.  If you do a little sleuthing, you’ll notice that I only posted once in 2013.  That is because I could barely have a dog and a LIFE.  Poppy is what lay people call “a handful” and professionals call “a persistent gambler.”

My intent had been, on the demise of our beloved golden retriever to hire friend C., is a dog trainer, who knows me and about such things to come and consult with me, look at our home and property and recommend a dog breed.  She was more than happy to do this, she said.  Then I started reading.  And looking at the seductive internet.  And voila, I decided an English Shepherd was the perfect dog for me.  For all good reasons, I thought – a bit smaller, smart, fun-loving, good with children, likes to stick with you.  And doggone it – she looked just like the dogs my grandparents had.  I hope my cousins are reading.    What I pushed to the back of my mind were the things herding dogs love to do – run, chase and boss things. My grandparents dogs herded cars down the driveway, biting the tires all the way.  How could I have forgotten?  My friend, the professional would have known this and cautioned me about it or at least prepared me.  2013 would have been a much easier  year if I had stuck with my idea to consult with her.

Well – hindsight, right?  I figured out pretty quickly that I wasn’t going to be able to train this dog using do it yourself methods and so talked to everyone I could this year about Poppy.    I also read everything I could get my hands on.  Much of the advice was helpful and seemed up to date to me – at least much different than when we trained our golden retriever.  But Poppy is wicked smart, complicated and  determined and  things were not going well.   My dog trainer friend C. referred me to  an awesome  animal behaviorist and in one session  I see Poppy in a  new way.   A whole new world of dog training that I never knew existed has opened up to me.   People who love and live their subject matter tend to know the latest and best stuff.

Of course, some professionals know more of the  latest  and best stuff.  Gardening seems like a do it yourself project.  Most of it probably is.  But sometimes you need an expert.  How do you go about finding one?    Ask a neighbor with a beautiful garden.  Ask the owner of a business with a beautifully kept landscape.   Ask the local nursery.   Look at the professional’s website – do they have a philosophy that you are comfortable with?  Ask for references – ask to see their gardens in person.  Certainly ask about price.  But in my experience, cheaper is usually not better even when it comes to garden maintenance help.  Do you really want your expensive perennials pulled up as weeds? What training and background does the professional have and what continuing education does he or she take part in? What professional organizations does this person belong to and does he or she have certifications?  Does the professional return your call quickly?  As you interview this person, take special note of not only the  advice, but how well he or she takes the time to find out about you, your garden  and your specific needs.

We had a good day, Poppy and me.  I’ll keep you posted.  Or Poppy will – she’s taking note of how to use the computer.

 

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Random, but good thoughts on Valentine’s Day

Last night my beloved Twilight Plant Group Met to discuss summer bulbs.  My friend T has moved into the city and is slowly divesting herself of things.  I already have a stack of Garden Design magazines.  Last night she gave me this frog that sits in the bottom of a vase to help support stems.  Even if I never use it (but I will) it is a lovely thing and reminds me of my friend and her garden.

Frog from T.

Frog from T.

T. always had several different kinds of snowdrops in her island garden.  Mine are just now coming up under the English oak I planted for daughter A. and son-in-lawn S.   The patch is still very sparse, so I bought some more “in the green” which is the best way to buy and plant since the little bulbs dry out so quickly.

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A form of Iris reticulata given to me by my father-in-law is now blooming in my garden.

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I had 10 yards of compost delivered today.  I guess it’s really time to start gardening.

Thought from yoga today:  the trees see me.

 

 

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The Wind of my Soul

The first winter after we moved to the island, I spent several days in the hospital with no end in sight.  I was glad to have a private room and especially a window, until I realized that the window faced a brick wall.  (I realize now I could have asked to be bundled up and taken outside for a breath of fresh air now and then, but I was new to this hospital gig.  I’ve also learned that usually there are popsicles in the freezer.)  Each day found me more and more depressed, until one day a crow landed on the sill outside and the wind ruffled its feathers.  I almost cried with relief.

Today was my second day at yoga, ever.  I’ve been given permission to keep my eyes open when I’m learning something new.  But I find I cannot close them even after I know what to do.  The view out the large windows is so soothing and hypnotic.  I know I’m supposed to go inward, but it feels as if part of my soul is perched outside.  There was a beautiful poem to start today’s class.  I wonder if its okay to cry at yoga?

When I Am Among the Trees, by Mary Oliver

When I am among the trees,
especially the willows and the honey locust,
equally the beech, the oaks and the pines,
they give off such hints of gladness.
I would almost say that they save me, and daily.

I am so distant from the hope of myself,
in which I have goodness, and discernment,
and never hurry through the world
but walk slowly, and bow often.

Around me the trees stir in their leaves
and call out, “Stay awhile.”
The light flows from their branches.

And they call again, “It’s simple,” they say,
“and you too have come
into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled
with light, and to shine.”

 

 

 

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November Show and Tell

My beloved Twilight Plant Group meets this evening.  What should I bring for show and tell?  What would you take?

Fuchsia magellanica 'Aurea' still blooming.

Fuchsia magellanica ‘Aurea’ still blooming.

Viburnum bodnantense 'Dawn' just starting to bloom and send out it's fragrance.

Viburnum bodnantense ‘Dawn’ just starting to bloom and send out it’s fragrance.

Pieris 'Passion Frost' - a new plant for me this year.

Pieris ‘Passion Frost’ – a new plant for me this year.

Tropaeolum tuberosum is keeping the hummingbirds happy.

Tropaeolum tuberosum is keeping the hummingbirds happy.

Vaccinium corymbosum 'Chandler' is the blueberry with the best fall color in my garden and the most prolific bearer.

Vaccinium corymbosum ‘Chandler’ is the blueberry with the best fall color in my garden and the most prolific bearer.

Penstemon 'Midnight Blue' still going strong.

Penstemon ‘Midnight Blue’ still going strong.

Berberis thunbergii 'Rose Glow' - fading fall color.

Berberis thunbergii ‘Rose Glow’ – fading fall color.

Spiraea vanhouttei glowing fall color.

Spiraea vanhouttei glowing fall color.

Callicarpa bodnierii 'Profusion' - I guess so!

Callicarpa bodnierii ‘Profusion’ – I guess so!

Leycesteria formosa 'Golden Lanterns'

Leycesteria formosa ‘Golden Lanterns’

Garrya elliptica 'James Roof' beginning to tassel.

Garrya elliptica ‘James Roof’ beginning to tassel.

Geranium macrorrhizum ‘Album’ - I think I love this best in fall.

Geranium macrorrhizum ‘Album’ – I think I love this best in fall.

Picea omorika with Ribes sanguineum

Picea omorika with Ribes sanguineum

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Over My Shoulder

The view from my office window this evening.  Can you see the sliver of the moon in the upper left-hand corner?

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Road Maintenance

This is our new and improved dirt road after we and the neighbors who share it hired a professional to bring in lots more  gravel, compact and re-establish a crown.  He did a good job and this will hopefully allow the water to drain off to the sides.  I’m sure we’ll all be happy at not having to maneuver the pothole obstacle course – especially at night.  And my Mr. will not miss filling those potholes all winter.    Much more functional.  But sigh -right now it  looks a little soulless to me without the grass and daisies down the center and hugging the edges.

New Road

 

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George’s Hedgerow

Yesterday, I took advantage of some partly sunny skies to finish planting 100 feet of a hedgerow we are planting along our southern property line. Arbutus menziesii / Madronna, Symphoricarpos albus / Snowberry, Rosa nootkatensis / Nootka Rose, Ribes sangineum / Flowering Currant, Malus fusca / Pacific Crabapple.  I purchased most of the plants bareroot last March  from the Whidbey Island Conservation District, potted them and put them in my fenced vegetable garden so I could water and bulk  them over the summer so they’d have a better chance of survival this fall.  Contact WICD if you want to be emailed about the sale: http://www.whidbeycd.org/plant-sale.html

Earlier, we’d pulled or cut down all the alders that had seeded themselves in over the past few years.  Then, with the help of the tractor, I spread a 4-5′ swath of manure about 4″ deep since the soil there is clay and rock .  George pronounced it “Deer food” and we’ll just have to see if he’s correct.  The flowering currant seems to be holding it’s own in other parts of the garden, the snowberry I have currently hasn’t been touched.  I know I will have to spray the roses until they are vigorous enough to withstand browsing.  I’ll also cage the Madronna and Crapapples for the time being.

 

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Rolling Home

Most Whidbey Islanders will say that they begin to relax once they are on the ferry for home.  That is true for me also.  Often, when I am on the water coming home, I hear this old ditty in my head:

Rolling home, rolling home,

Rolling home across the sea.

Rolling home to Whidbey Island (ole New England),

Rolling home dear land to thee.

(With apologies and a nod to The Voyage of the Mimi a favorite educational program of my daughters A. and A when they were young.  The first segment of each show was a fictional adventure and was followed by a science lesson. The first series was about recording information of Humpback Whales from the ship, Mimi.  The second was about archaeologists searching for a lost Mayan city.  Good stuff and a starred a young Ben Affleck!)

I also get a thrill when I drive onto our dirt road.  The patch of grass down the middle, the alders and ferns on either side, the light peeking through, the crunch of the gravel.    It’s one of the things that made me know this was to be our new home.

 

 

 

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