Saturday, December 05, 2009
Friday, August 21, 2009
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
I truly believe that everything we need to know about ourselves, our lives, and our place in the universe can be understood by looking in the garden. Plants and how they grow, the insects and animals that they bring, each provide a very simple model for our own lives and how we live them and even where they will bring us. Preparing the land, sowing some seeds, and then weeding said garden is a lot cheaper and less invasive than visiting a shrink and becoming a slave to antidepressants. Seriously.
I am in love with flowers in the visceral sense, and respond to this through the production that takes place, in my case, through floral arrangements. Much like painting for me, my combing flowers (like paint colors) is an emotional response. It is only after an acceptably pleasing arrangement has been made, that i realize that science was also at work. It is easier for me to go to the flower market and pick out the specimens I desire for a final product than actually growing such things in my yard. That is a much more difficult task. But a task that I yearn and strive for. It is sometimes painful to look at my pathetic weed-torn yard, with amazing visualizations of perennial borders and english-style cutting gardens, and savory herb patches and vegetable rows throughout, spanning through my mind. One can only dream, and hope that all of that dreaming might bring one closer to a full-on palpable realization of garden salvation.
So I sort of tended my weeds this summer. Lack of funds meant lack of new plants. Some people graciously donated some starts of perennials from their yards- some delicious ground covers, and a nice start of some long coveted spiderwort from my friend Theresa. My mom took pity on me and brought some elephant ears, dahlia tubers, and planted a couple of symmetrical annual borders for me to flank our new brick steps in the backyard. She gave me some more hostas, and some lily of the valleys- a plant that had started from a piece from her great-aunts garden (i lovvvvvvve heirloom plants!!). I planted some tomatoes, cucumbers, green peppers, squash and zucchini. The tomatoes and cucumbers have been successful. It is very hard to garden with a new baby, because the problem arises that there is no where to put the baby while you garden. I tried at first with the new native carrier, but she kept almost tumbling out. And the baby bjorn carrier kept her secure, but then she was hanging right on the front of me and it was hard to use my hands and even see what I was doing. I would have kept her in the playyard, but she screamed. I would have put her on the ground, but there was a multi-fold attack of first: mayflies, early to late spring, then giant cicada-eating wasps, early to mid-summer, and then a horrible proliferation of mosquitos- now. So, I did the best I could. The squash and the zucchini succombed to an early death from some kind of a powdery mildew rot. I found a good home remedy for this, but time got away from me. Everything else did well. (not mentioning the round-up debacle of 2009- oh wait, i just mentioned it....)
So yes, I'm obsessed, and looking forward to next year when I can let Henry and Annie run off and play in the sprinkler while I really get down to business. In the fall Mike and I are going to build our long-awaited outdoor fireplace so that we can properly roast our oysters and drink beer outdoors on cool fall nights and cold winter ones grounded in a set space; instead of just hovering around the grill. This will dictate a new hardscape that I look forward to tackling. Above are some pictures of my giant elephant ears (some grew four feet at least in length...), Henry bringing me handfuls of premature cherry tomatoes... and my sunflowers. You can sort of see my morning glories in the background. Note: plant your morning glory seeds with your moonflowers, next to your sunflowers (and maybe throw in lots of nasturtiam seeds). You will have color all day by easy to grow seeds (and you can eat the nasturtiam flowers with your salad and feel all fancy and whatever).
When your vegetables start growing, combine them with whatever else you like from the farmer's market, simmer them on the stove in some olive oil with some chopped up garlic (hopefully the giant elephant variety that maybe a dear neighbor gives you) on low, toss them together with some cooked extra wide egg noodles, maybe some capers, or crumbled feta or goat's cheese, drink a glass of chilled pinot grigio with it, and taste heaven. next night- chop and repeat. and then, chop and repeat.
Even if you are indifferent to these little creatures, but want nice hardy perennials that are prolific bloomers, you can't go wrong with all varieties of the butterfly bush or lantana. Every summer I can count on both returning, each year with more ferocity than the last. I have a few different types of both plants. Lantana ranges in color from vivid oranges, to yellows, to yellow/pink, to a beautiful lavender with silvery foliage. The latter variety is a bit more compact in my garden, and trails low to the ground. I had a lovely whitish/lemon colored lantana last summer (called "lemon sorbet" it was gorgeous...), but it fell victim to deadly round-up- my husband is round-up crazy, and sometimes fails to ask before he sprays. Beware of this systemic killer!! But seriously, if you are on a budget and want fail-proof plants, lantana it is. Some of my orange and yellow/pink varieties have grown into full-on shrubs. It would be most cost-effective to buy them when they are on clearance in the garden center at the end of the summer, and plant them then or in the fall.
The butterfly bush will quickly grow in to a tree if you let it. With flower clusters ranging in hue from deep purple with brilliant orange throats, to silvery lavender clusters with yellow-orange centers, these plants are practically indestructible. One year one of mine was invaded by a pest mid-summer. I treated it and then chopped it down to the trunk. By fall it had grown back and was producing blooms as if nothing had happened.
Two of my favorite plants, creating a gorgeous summer spectacle.
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
See sillies, I've been up to a little more than raising two kids these day! I was so happy to be invited to be part of a show back in March at the New Belmont here in Norfolk. I had been working on some stuff here and there, but after I became a part of this show I really wanted to pump out some new work. Pump out the jamz I did, at least fifteen new solid pieces. Not sure how I found the time, but it was a great feeling after I did. It wasn't necessarily the proper venue (is it really ever??) for the work, per se, but I was just so grateful for the opportunity to show some work. Thanks so much to everyone who made it out to the show that night!!
Lately I have been wanting to return to painting, but in giant (this would be at least a 6' or...5' /4' or something like that for me...) format. I have a lot of new ideas, but I don't want to be all slap-dash about it all. It must be quality, or I'll be wasting my time, money, resources. I would really like for it to be a series of maybe seven paintings (not necessarily all on the "giant" scale), thoughtfully (and well)-executed from start to finish. This is going to take some time- to gather the proper materials, organize my space, and also figure out a do-able schedule. When Henry starts school in the fall, and when the air turns crisp- this may be the proper time to start. I am so ready...
I was just uploading some pictures to iphoto and found myself at the beginning of October when Annie was born. She just took her first steps last Sunday and is becoming such a little girl. That tiny baby stage has passed now, and her first birthday is not far off. Suddenly she seems so smart and so... long. The months and days that comprise the time between then, when it was just me and Henry home together to the present, to me and Annie and Henry have been nothing short of exhausting. Hence the lack of updates here. Mike has been working twelve hour days, and I often find myself questioning by 10:30 am how I will make it through another day. 8-8 is a looonnnng day of watching two other people and not really having a single moment to yourself. I mean seriously, these little people even follow you into the bathroom. People who don't have any kids won't understand this, people who do, will. Someone told me the other night that my Facebook status updates are boring; that it is always "Annie did this" and "Henry did that." The same person's updates usually center around their work or their "hobbies." I guess the kids are my work And my hobbies these days. (so eat it!!) Between changing diapers, feeding them, and keeping their little minds and bodies stimulated, the day (and my physical/mental capacity) leaves little time for much else. This is a personal dilemma at times, dealing with the sacrifice that is the decision to become a stay at home mother, and neglecting making a pay check, painting, being social, etc.. For me it was never a question as to whether I would take that on, and I was lucky enough to be able to do it. Some days it doesn't feel so lucky, but I have absolutely no regrets. While I was looking at Annie's first pictures I had the realization that I've been doing this for nine months, and that I've made it through. (And accomplished being here with Henry for two years before then). While it has seemed like an eternity, it has really gone by rather quickly. Big hurdles have been passed (Henry is finally close to being potty-trained- only one accident today!) and he starts school at the end of August. And then on to another chapter. And before I know it, this time will seem so distant, and I'll be yearning for these days, and wishing them back again (maybe only after a big glass of wine). I just know I will.
Tonight at the grocery store the woman behind us in the checkout lane was marveling at how happy my children seemed, and I told her yes, they really are. I couldn't help feeling so proud. They are happy, and it wasn't easy, lady (she should have seen them at 11:30 today when Henry was screaming from the time out chair).
I will so miss my babies being "babies"... seriously.
Thursday, July 23, 2009
My uncle has a permanent camper in Hatteras and gave us the keys to set up camp for a few days. When we arrived we discovered that surly wasps had taken over our proposed shelter for the weekend. Needless to say we sought another lodging option. Frisco Woods, just down the road, ended up being the perfect outcome. A nice cabin, access to deserted beaches, and the perfect shallow sound. I am dreaming of a quick return.
I snapped a shot at the exact moment Henry and Annie had noticed Auntie Beth arriving in front of the house. The other day I asked him who his most favorite person in the world was and he said, coyly, "spitball" (the horrible nickname mike taught henry in place of a sweet and simple "auntie beth"). I love that my kids love her so.
It has been even more than forevereverever and a day. For my dear remaining one reader, I vow to begin updating here again. Poor Annie is going to look back and wonder why months passed before she got an update; compared with Henry's near daily postings of 2006-07. I love you girl, just the same. Here we go...