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Posts Tagged ‘home and hearth’

Growing up, I spent every Friday night at my grandparents’ home, only a few blocks away from my own.  And we were often in and out of their house during the week as well.  Like as not, when I walked in, I’d find my grandfather sitting in the living room in his favorite chair.

My grandfather wasn’t what you’d call a smiley man.  His resting face was grim.  But he’d beam when I entered the room.  “Hi, Granddaughter!” he’d say.

Always I remember him in that chair, his ash tray stand to one side, the table with the reading lamp and the clock with the numbers that flipped on the other, his feet propped on the ottoman while he watched the nightly national news, or Lawrence Welk, or his soap operas, or as he read Time, Newsweek, or U.S. News and World Report.

Sometimes I’d watch t.v. too, with him cautioning me not to sit too close to the big cabinet television with the record player in one end of it. “You won’t be able to have children when you grow up,” he’d warn me.  Sometimes we’d play checkers on the ottoman.

Granddaddy died on September 24, 1980.  It was my first encounter with death.  I remember entering the house for the first time and dreading the sight of that empty chair.

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When my grandmother decided to relocate to a retirement community, my mother moved into the house, and the furniture Mima couldn’t take was given away.  My little sister got the chair.  I took the Naugahyde recliner from the basement (which I believe was the predecessor of the chair I’m writing about).  It didn’t last long–my kids have always been hard on furniture.

I love old things and I love family things, and over time I had filled my house with items from my grandparents’ house.  I was the one who took that cabinet t.v., even though it didn’t work anymore.  I had the oil pastel portraits of my grandmother and great-grandmother, the Seth Thomas clock that used to hang in the living room, and so many other treasures that I took because I appreciated them and had room for them.  When our house burned down almost five years ago, I lost it all.  And felt guilty for being such a poor steward of family heirlooms and memories.

We’ve lived for five years in a house furnished by the love of friends and family.  We’ve even added a few heirlooms from John’s grandmother’s house.  Over time, the furniture has become ours, safe and familiar.

My sister moved at Christmastime.  She decided she didn’t have room for Granddaddy’s chair and she asked me if I wanted it.  She knew how much it would mean to me to have it.  It found a new home in our family room.

I had visions of spending time sitting in it, but honestly it isn’t a very comfortable chair, at least not for me.  Emily sits in it sometimes, but more often than not it’s inhabited by cats.  Still, it makes me happy whenever I see it.

 

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I took this photo looking down the hill from my front porch.  We live about halfway up the hill.  The original plan for our neighborhood was that the houses would get bigger and bigger going progressing up the hill so there would be ginormous houses at the top where the view is amazing.  However, the neighborhood was going to be built in two phases and the recession happened after the first phase.  The original builder backed out of the project after our house was built.  So our house is the biggest house, and eventually a new builder came in and built much smaller houses all the way up the hill.  I hear that a lot of people in the big house part of the neighborhood were angry about this, feeling that it would damage their property values.  I personally think it’s hilarious.

OneDad3Girls

nablopomo

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Autumn Gardening

You may have noticed my more regular posting schedule lately, because it’s November and I am once again participating in NaBloPoMo.  That means a post per day.  And it’s hard, VERY hard, for me to find the time.

So today I’m posting a few pictures, and writing a little about my garden.

Camellia Blossom

Camellia Blossom

Today is one of those impossibly beautiful autumn days, sunny and crisp, and because we haven’t yet had a killing frost, my garden is still in bloom!

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The (over)abundance of rain we’ve had over the past few weeks has made digging very easy, so I’ve been able to expand my flowerbed by several feet since the last time I shared pictures here.  I have purchased but not yet added higher-quality dirt and mulch, so you can see the rock-filled clay soil that I am attempting to grow things in!

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I’m in the middle of transplanting things that I put too close together or that are too tall or short for their current locations, setting out mums and pansies, and adding some peonies and irises that were my grandmother’s, removed from her garden because they house was recently sold.

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I may have mentioned before that I am a pretty lazy gardener and I don’t really follow the rules, so we will have to wait for spring to see what comes of all this.  In the meantime, I am having a lot of fun.  Writing and gardening are the two activities that I never have enough time for AND which make me happiest.

nablopomo

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Last year, I posted about my gardening efforts often.  This year I haven’t found the time.  I’ve gardened, though, and I’ve taken pictures.  And as fall approached I thought it would be fun to show you the progress I’ve made this year.

Here’s what the area that I refer to as the “cool” garden looked like in March.  My plan, if you can call it that, is to expand this part of the garden by a couple of feet every year until our front yard is all garden and no grass.  The neighbors with their manicured shrubbery and polite rows of liriope no doubt think I’m some kind of loon, but I don’t care.

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You can see where I dug out the newest part.  Just look at all that rocky red clay!  I have so much to work with!  After I dug it up, I just started by sticking the early spring annuals (pansies and violas) in there until it was time to buy perennials.  I’ve been at this for two years now so I expected the perennials in the rest of the garden to pretty much fill all the available space.

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Within a week or two the phlox and dianthus started to pop, along with (I think) the blue lobelia:

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Here you can see the echinacea (purple coneflower) coming up, along with that purple stuff which I love but cannot remember the name of:

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Next the azaleas (I have three so far):

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The salvia is just amazing!  I have little baby ones this year that I have planted all over the place:

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I am a terrible gardener–I can’t remember what those blue things, which were new last year, are called–but they went crazy this year (just starting in this picture):

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In all, quite a change from the first picture above:

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Meanwhile, on the other side, this is some of what was starting to happen in the “hot” garden.  It’s constrained in size by the walkway, so I’m contemplating making another bed just across from it.

Here are lilies, a gift from the neighbors across the street, starting to come up although they don’t bloom until late summer:

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Candytuft:

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Gazanias:

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And when the roses start blooming over there, WOW.

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Here’s where things really started to fill out on the other side:

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Back on the hot side, the daisies below got WAY bigger than I thought they would:

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I cannot even remember what most of this is or whether it is perennial or annual! We will have to see what happens next year!

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The flowers I have enjoyed the most this summer are zinnias that I sowed from last year’s seed.  And when I say sowed, I mean I just kind of threw seed wherever.  I didn’t bury them or anything.  Just look what happened:

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The purple coneflowers are also spreading by seed, although none of the “babies” are blooming yet:

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A few final shots of the cool side of the garden:

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The real gardeners among you will surely have noticed the crowding and lack of proper spacing above.  The plan is for a lot of transplanting to take place this fall.  I’m going to dig out a couple more rows in front and then separate and rearrange almost everything.  I did a little of that last year and most things handled it find although they did not grow as big as they had the year before.  I’ll come back next year and let you know how it all worked out.  For now, here’s the transition from beginning to middle to end of six months in the garden:

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Every morning, when I get home from driving William to school, I get out of my car, start, walking toward the house, and then stop and stand staring like an idiot at my garden.  My neighbors probably think I’m crazy (actually, they already have plenty of other reasons to think that).

What am I doing?  Well, to be honest, I’m admiring it, because it’s pretty and I’m just a little proud of what I’ve accomplished in just one year.  But more than that, I’m analyzing it, thinking about what needs to be moved around, what I’ll add later in the season or next year, what’s too tall, what was a bad idea.

If I were a methodical gardener I would have made a plan before I started.  I didn’t.  In late winter I downloaded some kind of planning grid thingie and got bored after a few minutes.  If I were a methodical gardener, I would have properly amended my soil.  I didn’t.  Instead, I dig out lumps of clay and rock, throw in a handful of potting soil, and hope for the best.  Sometimes I don’t even bother with the potting soil.  The rocks should help with drainage, right?  If I were a methodical gardener, I would have investigated how big the plants would get before I planted them.  I would have put little tags next to them to say what they are.  I might even have kept a garden journal.  Instead, I’m like: “This is the pink-blue-purple side of the garden, so let’s put any pink, purple, or blue things we like over here wherever we can find room for them!”  People ask the name of a particular plant and I say, “It might be salvia.  Or maybe sage.  Who knows?”  I can look on google images if I ever really need to know, right?

What kind of gardener am I?  A lazy gardener, clearly, which is why I plant mostly perennials.  Some day my work will be done, right?  And a lucky one, judging by my lack of effort and the passable results.

The photos below are from what we call the “hot” garden, where I attempt to plant only things that are orange, yellow, and white.  There are also red roses here (about which more further down) but I don’t want any more red things.  Why the color scheme?  Because the first summer we were here, the nice gardening lady across the street gave me a bunch of lily bulbs and some other perennial thing, which I just haphazardly stuck over here because I had no plan whatsoever and they turned out to be yellow.  So.

 

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The lilies aren’t blooming yet but you can see where they are in the picture below.  Those other yellow things, which are really tall, will be right behind them, unless the shade from the roses kills them.

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Let’s talk about the roses, shall we?  If you know anything at all about roses, then you can see that’s a climbing rose.  If you know anything about gardens, you’ll know that only an idiot would put a climbing rose in the middle of a flower bed.  I am happy to say I was not that idiot.  But I also don’t know much about roses, so I didn’t know that this was going to happen when I let it (it being basically a couple of thorny twigs when I started this) stay there.  It’s outgrown the trellis I put in place last year–in fact it is pulling the trellis out of the ground and leaning forward.  It stubbornly refuses to get blackspot like every other rose I’ve ever grown and instead is vigorous and healthy and growing like kudzu.  I want to get an arbor thing to cross the walkway in front of it, and maybe also attach a trellis to the porch overhang behind it.  But do you know how much arbors cost, y’all?

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Below we have the mailbox garden.  Gotta have one of those, don’t we?  The daylilies were already there–Stella D’Oro, I believe (see, I do know something!).  There is also one lone gigantic lily that looks kind of stupid there all by itself, but I can’t kill healthy plants, so it will stay.  The red plant is a mandevilla which my neighbor gave me for my birthday.  The pot said it was good to plant by your mailbox and who am I to argue?  You might also notice a variety of herbs in this picture.  Yes, this is my herb garden and we used the herbs to cook all through the winter even.  The basil dried right there on the stalk.  More laziness that paid off!

 

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This side has mint.  All varieties of mint.  And yes, I am aware of what mint does, and it’s already doing it, but I don’t really care because it smells good.

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Now here’s the “cool” side of the garden and I’m probably going to post too many pictures because this is my favorite part and I just can’t leave any of them out!

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Please excuse the long grass at the edges because 1) My lawn mower is (still) broken and 2) I’m not finished yet.  There won’t ever be a clearly defined border at the edge because the eventual plan is for this side to take over the whole front yard, doing away with its crappy veneer of grass over clay a couple of feet every year, depending on my time, energy, and financial situation.

 

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My garden doesn’t look like the other gardens in this neighborhood.  That’s what John said, and I consider that a compliment, because who really needs another boring suburban garden, all symmetrical and defined by clumps of liriope with measured distances between them?  We are going for the wild look here.

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If you want to read more of my gardening posts, visit these links:

In the Garden

In the Garden II

 

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It’s New Years Day and y’all know what that means, right?  Black-eyed peas and greens, at least for us Southerners.

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As long as I can remember, my mother forced us to eat at least one bite of black-eyed peas each New Years Day, “For luck,” she said.  Later I learned that greens are also required, if you want to make money in the new year.  And who doesn’t want that, right?

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Luckily in this house a majority (read:  everyone but the little people) like either the peas, the greens, or both.

I’d never realized until this year that this tradition is strictly a Southern one.  I looked up its origin this afternoon while I was cooking and learned that it started post-Civil War, when supposedly those affected by Sherman’s March to the Sea were left with precious little to eat except for the black-eyed peas which the Union soldiers (who called them “cow peas”) assumed were only good for fodder for the Southerners’ long-gone cattle.  The erstwhile Confederates grew strong again on this minimalist yet healthy diet, and the foods eventually morphed from a generic “new beginnings” meal to one symbolizing future luck and prosperity.

As I perhaps have mentioned, I am an English major so I found additional meaning in today’s meal.

Just look at these collard greens, y’all.

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I don’t know if you can tell but that’s a LOT of greens. (And for only .99 at Kroger, too!)  It’s three enormous bunches which were too big for the plastic produce bag and took up the entire bottom shelf of my refrigerator.  It probably took me an hour to wash and rip them up so I could cook them.  The picture of them in the pan?  That was less than half of them.

Yet after ten minutes cooking, we were left with this:

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Yes, that’s what they boiled down to.  So that’s the source of that saying! I thought, cleverly, to myself.

But I also really did think, and announce to my husband, that I am going to try to apply the lesson of the greens to any situations (I won’t say problems yet) that arise this year.  Whatever big tangled things I have to deal with, I’m going to envision them as a big mess of greens that haven’t been cooked yet.  I’m going to know in advance that really there’s just a little kernel at the heart of whatever it is that I really have to deal with.  Before I get all worked up and confused and overwhelmed, I’m going to think about what it all boils down to.

Happy 2014 to you!

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The NaBloPoMo wagon, that is.  But, y’all, this week has been brutal.

First there was the all-nighter.  Jake got his paper done.  Emily bagged on us around 3 a.m.  I stayed up and up and up.  For those of you who have heard me rant about helicopter parenting, all I can say is that sometimes even big kids need their mothers, and Jake needed me that night.

Furthermore, any of you who do legal work will no doubt cringe when I mention that I also had discovery requests to fulfill the following day.  So I was working on that the following morning while continuing to help Jake with the paper.  I did not get to finally collapse until close to 4 p.m.  I slept for 17 hours.

This blissful unconsciousness put a serious dent into Thanksgiving prep time, however.  Normally I would have at least shopped for the food on Tuesday.  But that had to wait until Wednesday and I did not get down to serious cooking business until close to 7 p.m.  Brining the bird, cooking the giblets, and preparing the sweet potatoes and the mashed potatoes took until about 2 a.m.  Six hours later I was back up to cover the turkey in bacon and get it into the oven.  Then I moved onto the pies, and in between those major tasks handled all the little details that those of you who have hosted 18 people or so more Thanksgiving dinner won’t need me to explain.

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The fruits of all this labor were delicious, and as they say, a good time was had by all.  But after they all went home, it was back at it for me to clean up until around eleven (well worth it to come downstairs this morning to a clean kitchen instead of a mess).  Whenever I made the mistake of sitting down for a rest I wasn’t sure I could get back up again!  I finally treated myself to a long-anticipated soak in the spa tub and I thought I might just have to spend the night in there.

Mark my words, y’all:  I am NOT doing this again next year!  Next year you are going to be reading a post about how we went to Mass and then next door to the Crown Plaza for their Thanksgiving buffet.  You heard it here first.

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