Friday, January 31, 2014

Compatibility Check Recommended

As I was saving this article, my computer flashed “Compatibility Check Recommended” – Huh?  So I said to my computer, “I love you and want to spend my life with you.” And the warning went away and we’re reconciled. 

This reminded me of other odd things:

I still get squeamish when I accidently cut an earthworm in half.  Do they really become two worms or is it something we were told as kids so we wouldn’t feel like a killer.

Why does our mouth open when we look up after someone says, “Look at that bird.”

I’m still tempted to put in my pocket and take home every pretty little rock.

Gravitational forces pull harder when there’s a sign saying, “Keep off the grass.”

The next generation will always make fun of the previous generation’s recipes, fashion, hairstyles, and methods.  Two generations from now they will do it all over again and call it new.

I can walk through a robber baron’s garden and faintly feel someone needs to bring me an iced tea on a silver platter.

A dog’s sense of smell is 100,000 times stronger than a human’s.  I’m counting that as one of my blessings.

No one who’s gone swimming in a farm pond comes out singing, “It’s a treat to beat your feet on the Mississippi mud.”

Why do we do 500 things, spend $500, read 500 books to plant a garden when the wind can successfully sow seeds on a roadside with abandon? 

Never trust a visitor to your garden who demands to know the Latin names of plants.

To truly love something in the yard, we usually attribute human characteristic first:  That tree stands like a soldier.  Doesn’t that flower have a pretty face?

If vegetables tasted like bacon, we’d be a healthier human population. 

The Midwest would never accept negative nutritional data about sweet corn and fresh tomatoes.  Sorry, they’re perfect – period and the end of conversation.

A flower picked from your garden by a grandchild is more valuable than a FTD upgraded bouquet any day.

Half an insect on your picnic plate will make even the most macho guy gag a little.

I was happier before I heard the words:  pollution, environmentally friendly, acid rain, additives, enhanced, EPA, FDA and Al Gore.  I’m not saying the knowledge is wrong, but ignorance was bliss. 

That moment three seconds after you pull a weed and realize it was actually a young perennial.

Why when your systematically spraying for weeds do you always hit a valued plant ten seconds before you’re done?

 It will only hail on plants when they have reached that perfect stage.

 If the advertisement for a newly developed plant says it cannot be killed, it will never live in my garden.

Whether orange is beautiful is in the eye of the beholder.

Birds have pecking order down pat.

The third time you replant your garden, bunnies are no longer cute.

Bending to pull just one weed and twelve weeds later you remember you had a manicure yesterday.

Buying a wonderfully fabulous new plant only to realize you’ve killed the same plant three years in a row. 

That immediate bond the moment you realize a new acquaintance loves gardening as much as you.

Peeling off muddy clothes, taking a hot shower and realizing any day in the garden is pretty much perfection.


Thursday, January 23, 2014

Nature Wins

Last spring we realized we had wild animals living under our back porch.  We suspected a raccoon and prayed it wasn't a skunk.

Whatever it was finally left, with her brood, and we (we as in husband worked) set about to make future access impossible.  We have only a small side area where there's room for access and only the cats had used it as a sometimes retreat.  Once that seemed wrong, we stapled wire fencing and then layered heavy stones along it and it worked UNTIL:  A few heavy stones had been moved and the fencing was actually pulled off, bent up and access gained.  Moving heavy stones is not something our cats could accomplish which gave reason to believe raccoons were the residents.

So we (again husband working/me researching every possible solution) dug down, secured better fencing and added more rocks.

This winter I'd been noticing one area of the porch where the dog always smelled and the snow was disturbed.  Knowing it had been secured, I figured little varmints were running around the edges.

Early this morning as the sun was coming up, I looked out the upstairs window to see a HUGE rabbit (honestly bigger than many dogs) under the bird feeder.  We seldom have rabbits because we've always had dogs and those dogs do not like rabbits.

Since it was so very cold, our outdoor dog was sleeping inside last night.  How do wild animals know when dogs are inside?

Anyway, HUGE bunny is snacking on sunflower seeds and hops over to the porch area and starts doing all kinds of contortions.  He digs in the snow, he turns upside down, he wiggles and he disappears under the porch.  Thumper has successfully found a protected warmer place to winter.  Foiled by nature again.  

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Snowmen and Sculptures - for fun!

Taken from the web for another fun run at cold and snow:

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Negativity Overload

If you read a daily paper, watch TV, or are on the Internet you might be experiencing negativity overload.  It’s the constant sensationalism of life’s unfortunate circumstances.  I call it emotional bullying to pick out the worst of behavior (real and manufactured) and make it the headlines of the day. 

One suggestion is to rid your life of the most blatant sources: the first section of your favorite daily newspaper, all TV programs with a laugh track or that woman whose monotone voice narrates every police/investigate program, sponsored internet news sources, shock jock radio news and most social media.  Radical?  Hardly. 

As we absorb negativity, even as entertainment, it changes how we view the world, how we react emotionally in real life and how we behave.  It prevents emotional maturity by conditioning us to always be in a state of shock, fear, excitement or unhappiness.  You will see no footnotes crediting this data because it’s an opinion and it’s mine.  After all it’s what columnists do!

I’ve long held to the belief that gardening is a natural tension reliever.  It works from within to give the mind (which has a huge effect on the body) a serene place to heal, meditate, create, grow and develop.

Gardening need not be another duty or energy sapper.  It shouldn’t be too big or too complicated for your individual needs.  It needn’t be any more than the state of observing if that’s what brings about a positive state of mental health for you.  As an example:  People often comment on my photos of nature.  To take a good photo of something in nature, you have to look and think and wait and treasure the situation.

I’m going out on a limb here when I say if the majority of people who post how busy, how hectic, how difficult and involved they are on social media would spend that time in nature, the level of negativity in their lives would be reduced.

Don’t misunderstand and assume I’m saying this will stop heartache and sadness.  I’m not immune or unaware of illness, pain and loss.  I’m simply suggesting we learn to set boundaries limiting the sensationalism surrounding most of the outside negativity we absorb.  I’m suggesting a method to not only help cope with our own personal problems but to insulate us from manufactured problems.

Family fun 
As an example, it was actually fun to hear everyone talking about the weather this past snow and cold spell.  Even the people who must complain about every event in nature had a bit of a twinkle in their eye as they observed the power of this winter storm.  In spite of the very real dangers of this storm, most kids managed to venture out at least once to do something absolutely fun in the snow.  Most parents warned the kids of the dangers but knew it was good to experience at least a little of this event first hand.  Those of us who might be consider “older” had the opportunity of telling tales of year’s past.  It was a win/win for most of us.

And I refuse to let the media’s headlines of the few horrible events take away the joy of a perfectly good winter storm.  I’m not unfeeling about those that had it rough and I’m thankful for those who worked to make it better and safer.  I simply refuse to let every horrible possibility or event suck the joy out of every natural event.

Nature is a natural salve for the hurts of life.  Gardeners use this all year.  We don’t stop our nature loving just because it’s winter, we simply transfer it to the weather, feeding birds, observing how much moisture this snow will put in the ground and exactly how many pesky insects are being killed by the deep freeze.

As the little sign says “Life is too short to spend time with people who suck the happiness out of you.” I rephrase it “Life is too short to spend time with a media who suck the happiness out of you.” 

Nature's beauties
Think about how you feel after you experience negativity, especially manufactured and sensationalized negativity.  If it’s not a positive place for you, come back to nature.  Nature is the perfect place for prayer, meditation, stress relief, relaxation, being creative or energizing.  It’s yours and it’s free.      


Monday, January 13, 2014

Storage Wars

Gardeners have as many personality differences as the rest of the population, it only shows in a much grander scale for all the world to see.

According to an article in "Dave's Garden", there are 58,000 storage units worldwide and 46,000 are located in the United States.  We've taken COLLECTING to a whole new level.  Approximately 2.35 billion square feet of storage and that doesn't include what we push around at home.

The reasons for collecting garden items are as varied as the things we collect.  A few obvious are:

  • Gifts of sentimental value.
  • Focus on one particular item (angels, gazing balls, birdhouses and etc.)
  • The monetary value.
  • A design element.
  • Owning ample acreage.
  • Phycological reasons beyond this article's spectrum.  

We all know the person whose yard looks like they are about ten years past opening their own thrift shop.  They have so many things in the yard of varied compatibility it's difficult to understand the desired design.  Are you one of those people who is seriously edging towards the "crazy gazing ball lady" or "Bubba's house of junk metal" title?

Here's some ideas on how to get a grip on garden collecting and what to do with "the extras".

First off, I understand sentimental collecting.  It starts with dad's garden shovel and ends with every shovel ever possessed by any relative, friend or auction house.  "Oh!  there's one from lower Spain made of tree roots."  "The patina must mean the handle is copper coated!"  "Look!  It's a child's shovel!"

If it's a collection in earnest, we begin to find new places to display the objects:  The side of the garage (guilty!), inside the barn, in the flower beds, hanging from trees.  Occasionally, collectors erect new buildings just to house or display their items or develop new flower beds to accommodate a collection.

Starting now when you're not so busy helps the process.  Assess your garden collections.  Are they things that still hold value for you?  Ask yourself:

  • Does the person who gave you the (fill in the blank) even remember or care?  
  • Do you remember the person or where you got an item?  
  • Has it been mostly destroyed by the elements?
  • Have you changed your focus?
  • Do you have too many/much to display and must store a portion?
  • Are the things in your yard distracting from it's natural beauty?
  • Do you throw the broken (fill in the blank) in a drawer thinking you'll repair but never do?

If you answered "yes" to any of these, you might want to consider purging some items.

Make a box (or several) marked "GIVE AWAY".  Start small, perhaps opening one drawer in the garage this winter.  How many broken hand clippers does any gardener need?  Have you really ever (I mean EVER) sharpened or repaired a hand clipper?  If not, put in the "Give Away" box.  Using a "Give Away" box helps the hopelessly thrifty collector to feel better about throwing away.  It isn't destroying - it's giving someone else a chance to collect your stuff.

I use thrift shops to dispose of my no longer needed but still in decent condition stuff.  (Do not give them things no sane person would want - it makes more work for them and they have to pay to dispose of your junk.  Not exactly philanthropic.)  Using a thrift shop helps me feel my efforts are for the good of mankind.  I know - a little grandiose but it helps this collector through the process.

Once a box is full, immediately take it to the thrift shop so you won't walk by and retrieve something.  You know you will!  Here are some local disposal options:

Galva Iron and Metal (they pay by the pound for junk metal)
625 S.E. Industrial Ave., Galva IL  309 932-3450

Salvation Army, 206 W. 2nd St., Kewanee IL  309-853-4192

Abilities Plus Resale Shop,  310 N. Main St., Kewanee IL  309-852-4626  

Most every area has their own thrift stores benefiting philanthropic programs.  If donating to a thrift store isn't your thing, many antique stores sell items on consignment or have a backyard sale.    For me, the thought of doing MORE work with my junk isn't in the cards.

And if I see you on "Hoarders" - remember you've been warned!        

Thursday, January 2, 2014


1913 Galva IL Central Park - now called Veterans' Park

When is the last time you promenaded?  There are some words that are so fun to say I have to let them run off my tongue and “promenades” is one of them.  Not that I’m given much chance to use it in conversation, as it’s one of those words that’s gone by the wayside.

Promenade is sometimes interchangeable with Esplanade (another word you may never use.)

For those that don’t know what a promenade is, I’ll let our old friend Webster do the explaining of the main defination:

Galva IL Park District - Current
"A leisurely walk, especially one taken in a public place as a social activity." (In this context, most of us do this every July 4th.)

Promenading was a social event only for royalty until 1661 when Charles II opened St. James Park in London to the common folk.  It was also the first time the word “park” was used. 

The idle rich used the parks to play and it is then Charles II initiated the new social ritual of the promenade.

Strolling up and down The Mall (or walkway) was a routine whereby polite society took the air and exchanged gossip from midday until the time to change for dinner.  The socialites could be in nature, which was fashionable and pleasurable.   

The rich and famous didn’t just pull on a pair of shorts and play a little Frisbee, they dressed to the nines.  Both men and women would use this occasion to display their most beautiful clothes.  It was the red carpet of the day.

This is promenading.
The “help” would bring the blankets, picnic baskets full of food and drink, parasols, top hats, and chairs for the more mature.

What’s promenade’s relationship to gardening?  Creating a walkway through your gardens is a splendid way to enjoy your entire yard and entice strolling around the various plantings. 

Although not necessarily on the grand scale of Charles II’s parks or the current promenade on the waterfront in Stockholm Sweden, it isn’t all that hard to develop a plan to satisfy the size, budget and landscape of your yard.

Pathways should be smooth enough to provide safe casual walking and wide enough for at least two people to comfortably walk side-by-side.  A nice smooth grassy path works fine.

In fitting with the idea of “see and be seen”, providing seating along the path is essential.

The second most important aspect of a promenade is the views it provides without ever leaving the path.  Does it take you beside a pond, a patch of wildflowers, a sculpture or your favorite perennial?

To work at it’s best, a promenade needs to be planned:  a beginning, a scenic middle and an end.  Two of Galva’s parks have excellent examples of planned promenades:  The walk through Veterans’ Park starts at one end, has specific visual highlights along the path and ends at the other end.  The Park District’s promenade starts at the road, has several scenes or views and ends at the pool.  Both parks have provided seating.

We are fast approaching the part of winter where gardening is all about dreaming and planning.  Perhaps a little promenade is in order or enhancing that path you didn’t even realize was a promenade.   Or the next time you visit the Royal Palace of His Majesty the King of Sweden, plan to see and be seen on his promenade.  It’s what we locals do when promenading.