Taking Care of Myself

Lately I find myself having to walk away from the news,  turning off the TV. Newspapers pile up on the counter for a few days until I’m brave enough to sort through them. I have all but checked out of some social media sites because of the mean spirited political climate. Don’t get me wrong. I am interested in and want to be informed of what’s going on in the world, and I want to do my part to make the world a better place. But for the time being, in light of the violence, chaos, the constant turmoil and heartache in our world, I now need to take it all in small doses.

I firmly believe that despite the evil we know that exists, it is still an incredibly beautiful world filled with good hearted, thoughtful, kind souls everywhere. There is beauty beyond measure to behold. We don’t need to judge; we don’t need to agree on anything at all to be kind to one another. Let’s extend more compassion, kindness, forgiveness, and love. Let’s work on finding the best in everyone.

As for me, I’m taking care of myself: I plan to keep going on early morning walks with this sweet girl,IMG_0083I’ll keep hiking and  seeking solace in nature,IMG_8265I’ll spend all the time I can with these grand loves, IMG_0524IMG_0020IMG_0450I’ll keep writing, reading, listening to music, baking and trying new recipes, looking for good news, visiting with the wonderful friends and family members I’ve been blessed with, I’ll have morning coffee under the pergola. IMG_0488I’ll keep my eyes open for hearts,IMG_9247and I’ll be in the garden.IMG_0354IMG_0361IMG_0358IMG_0356IMG_0366IMG_0465IMG_0492IMG_0194I’ll be counting my blessings and praying for our world.

Peace to all.IMG_6973

“When the world wearies and society ceases to satisfy, there is always the garden.” ~Minnie Almoner

Porch Sweet Porch

“I return to my front porch to find the place where the air smells sweeter and the sun feels warmer than at any other bend in life’s long road.”~John Sarris

Hello good friend! Welcome to the porch. It’s just ahead.IMG_9240Take one step up.IMG_9243Here we are!IMG_9113Come sit with me in the comfiest rocking chairs around. Here’s an iced tea.IMG_9114Let’s catch up on everything and try and make sense of life’s ups and downs. We’ll laugh and maybe cry, smile and listen, share and nod. Just being with you brings me comfort and joy! IMG_9244IMG_9121Amidst our conversations we’ll hear the songs of the birds, the whispers of the leaves, and the whirr of the hummingbirds.

I’m so grateful that in this big wide world we found each other. Aren’t we lucky? Come back soon!

Trees of Love

It’s tree planting time around here! We have a tradition of planting a tree on our property to honor each of our children and grandchildren. Yes indeed, our new little one who is due in July now has her own tree.

It’s a Mt. Fuji Flowering Cherry with such beautiful and delicate white and pale pink double blossoms. IMG_3781I knew the tree would go into a bit of shock when it was planted and so I left it in its nursery can and waited until it was finished blooming before putting it into the ground. Here it is.
IMG_8979We added three low growing ceanothus and three spirea around the tree. I’m really looking forward to seeing this new garden bed in all its glory come next spring.IMG_8980And just look what we dug up while planting! Five of them! The heart rock that is third from the left was right in the hole for the tree, and the other four were found while preparing and digging the six other holes for the other plants in the new garden. What a thrill!IMG_8977We didn’t live in this house when my children were born, and didn’t get around to planting trees for them until their high school years when we were working on landscaping much of our property.

This is a variegated dogwood planted for one of our sons. Aren’t those show stopping leaves?
IMG_9079And this is the sweet leaf of the Eastern Redbud that we planted for our other son. Both trees have spectacular blooms in early spring as well as stunning fall color.IMG_8885This gorgeous dark leaved Japanese Maple found a permanent home here as we waited for our grandson’s arrival.IMG_9125And here is the graceful Japanese Maple that was planted for our first grand daughter two years ago. Each of the lovely Japanese Maples puts on its own spectacular show in the fall.IMG_9123Walking through the gardens I can’t help but feel the great sense of connectedness, comfort and love that each of these trees of love provides. Oh yes, and nearby each special tree are heart rocks! But you already knew that, right?

In the Garden

Happy first day of spring!
IMG_8178I’ve spent a good portion of yesterday and today working in the yard. Nothing glamorous, just putting down a new layer of top soil, feeding plants, taking inventory of what I need to replace, and cleaning up garden beds. This time of year it’s easy to lose myself out there. Hours pass quickly, and before I know it it’s late afternoon. There’s so much to do, but somehow it doesn’t feel like work (until the soreness kicks in the next day!) amidst the glory of nature’s reawakening. Isn’t it remarkable to watch what’s blooming from day to day? Here are a few scenes that caught my eye.IMG_8172IMG_8244IMG_8238I must be in a purple-y mood!

If you haven’t noticed already, I have an appreciation for quotes. I keep journals of passages from books that speak to me, along with favorite quotes. Through the years, I’ve added some inspiration in the garden by writing some quotes I love on rocks. I simply write with a sharpie and then spray them with a clear protective spray. They need to be re-done each year, and that was another bit of work (play!) I was doing this weekend.IMG_8233IMG_8230IMG_8231IMG_8232IMG_8239IMG_8234Suddenly our surroundings are bursting into bloom. Each time I’m out driving I’m noticing the emerald green of the hills swathed with poppies, singing loudly. Miracles are happening everywhere we look! What’s catching your eye right now?

The Fever

“She turned to the sunlight

And shook her yellow head,

And whispered to her neighbor:

Winter is dead.”

~A.A. Milne, When We Were Very YoungIMG_7776IMG_7848IMG_7980Trips to four different nurseries within a week. Vases filled with Daffodils and Daphne throughout the house. Checking on each and every plant and tree to see how it fared during the winter. Soil under my nails. Yep, I’ve definitely got it. Spring Fever!

It’s only late February but the high temperatures have been hovering in the high 60s and even 70s for a couple weeks now. I’m really hoping March brings much more rain, but right now, well, right now I’m loving all these bursts of color. Right now, it feels like spring is bustin’ out all over!

Here, the Weigelias are just beginning to leaf out. IMG_8083I’m filling pots with colorful Primroses, Pansies and Violas.IMG_7702IMG_7969The air is scented with the heavenly fragrance of winter Daphne. Is there a sweeter smell in February? Not in my book!IMG_7977A row of blooming flowering plum trees heralds our arrival along our driveway.IMG_8081And a hedge of tall Photonia brightens up the yard with shiny new red leaves.IMG_8082Flowering Quince and Forsythia are putting on their shows,IMG_7830IMG_7968while graceful Hellebores nod hello.
IMG_7846Oh, I know it’s still early, but I can’t get enough of these happy harbingers of spring. What’s blooming in your gardens right now in late February?

“Spring won’t let me stay in this house any longer! I must get out and breathe the air deeply again.” ~Gustav Mahler

Treats For the Birds

IMG_7691Bird watching in my yard brings me great enjoyment. I try to make sure my bird feeders are clean and full of a variety of seed and suet cakes for them, at all times. Actually, it’s the least I can do for all of the concerts and amusement they provide to us!

The children and I made special treats for the birds recently and hung them in trees.  We threaded cheerios onto pipe cleaners (even the littlest hands were able to push the cheerios down once I had placed it on the tip of the pipe cleaner), we hung sliced oranges with twine, and then we smeared bird booster onto pinecones and hung those as well. The recipe  for bird booster came from Sharon Lovejoy’s Toad Cottages and Shooting Stars book, which is jam packed with fun activities to do with children.

Bird Booster Recipe:

1 cup crunchy peanut butter

1 cup canola oil

4 cups yellow cornmeal

1 cup white flour

A few spoons of sunflower seeds or raisins (I used our no waste birdseed that we always have on hand)

Pinecones tied with twine for hanging

IMG_7628IMG_7629Mix ingredients together in a bowl and then slather the mixture onto and into the scales of the pinecone.

Now it’s time to hang the treats.IMG_7694IMG_7686IMG_7689The wonderful books, Winter Walk by Virginia Brimhall Snow, and Night Tree by Eve Bunting provided the perfect follow up activity.

Sweet November

It’s true, I have always had a love affair with autumn, but have you ever seen one as beautiful as this year’s? Who can resist the brilliant shades of red, gold, and orange that the trees and gardens are wearing this time of year?

Come with me, won’t you, on a tour of some of my favorite areas on our property.

Here we are at the pergola sitting area.IMG_6444And this is across the lawn looking toward that area with the pergola.IMG_6455The Eastern Redbud’s heart leaves are a favorite of mine.IMG_6258Ornamental grass, Miscanthus is in the foreground near the seasonal creek bed with birch leaves just starting to change to yellow, and maples putting on a fiery show.IMG_6578This old wheel barrow is planted with Coral Bell’s, Violas, Euonymus Sunny Delight, and Evergold Carex.IMG_6398I love the lawn covered in these beauties.IMG_6062I had been on the hunt for two child sized adirondack chairs and found them last weekend in Sutter Creek at a favorite shop called Antique Gardener. I had envisioned them in white, but I love how these look right now with the terra cotta pots in the background and the reds of the maples in that area.
IMG_6587And now let’s head over to the front porch. This sweet old yellow chair greets us with some of autumn’s vibrant bounty as we walk up the sidewalk. Purple Love Grass is in the pot behind the two pumpkins to the left of the chair.IMG_6221IMG_6589IMG_6588IMG_6590IMG_6557 (1)Sweet November, indeed.

Treasures, Unearthed

Once in awhile while working in the yard I come across something that floods my heart. My breath catches, and life pauses while memories take me back to a time when my sons were children. Recently, two little figures from yesteryear have presented themselves as I’ve been digging in the soil. I found an armless Playmobil knight character and then a few months later, a little matchbox car.

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Each, covered in dirt. Each, a treasure from so long ago. I now keep them in their current state, in a dish in our home office to remember that special time.

Those boys are grown men now, but this is the property where they spent countless hours building, creating, exploring, and discovering. We moved into our home when our children were 5 and 8 years old.  For many years forts were built in the trees. Rope swings hung from each. Hideouts were formed inside blackberry brambles. An area of our property was made into a baseball diamond for awhile, and then later it evolved into a paint ball war zone. Obstacle courses were created for bikes and then for 4 wheeling. My oldest built a large half pipe for skate boarding, and a red go cart was driven all around the property and neighborhood by two boys with wide eyed grins.

The places where they played have now been turned into gardens, wide paths and lawn areas.IMG_5611IMG_5610Five years ago my son and daughter in law were married under this pergola.IMG_5609 How quickly  time has passed. How precious were the days. The past may be gone, but it has been replaced by a wonderful future with new adventures, and best of all, once again, little ones play here.

Dog Love

This is Gemma. This pretty girl just had her 6th birthday. She’s been with us since she was 8 weeks old when I could hold her little piglet body in my two cupped hands. She was an anniversary gift. IMG_3619She has brought so much joy and amusement to our lives. She is our morning walking partner. Our hiking and snow shoeing companion. Ball catcher extraordinaire. Excitable home coming greeter. Protector of her people and her property. Foot warmer. Day brightener. A loyal and cherished member of our family. IMG_5593She’s gentle with the babies, and patiently puts up with them chasing her, or sitting and lying on her when they visit at our home.IMG_4938And even endures cuddling with Riley, our cat.IMG_5594

Happy birthday Sweet Gemma. You’re such a good girl.

“Because of the dog’s joyfulness, our own is increased. It is no small gift.”

~Mary Oliver