Sunday, May 31, 2009

'Amaryllis' By Morning.....

I'm a digger of dirt by nature. As a child, my mother was mortified by the fact I would rather go outside and dig holes in our yard than stay inside and play tea party with my dolls. Don't get me wrong here. I loved my baby dolls and later on, my Barbies. But going outdoors and smelling freshly dug earth was my greatest love of all. I loved the way it felt in my hands and under my feet...and on my face...and in my hair...and in my mouth...and everywhere I could possibly smear the stuff because I thought it was 'Beauty Cream from God' !

My little sister and I would use all the great stuff my grandmother had given us to furnish our 'play houses in the woods' to dig with. She gave us old cooking utensils i.e. wooden handled spatulas and spoons, old pots and pans she no longer wanted, coffee cans, plastic butter bowls (back when margarine was the new thing and packaged in attractive reusable cereal bowls in assorted bright colors), an occasional jelly jar if we were VERY careful with it because it was made of glass, and the list goes on. To my mother's chagrin, my grandmother encouraged us to to "go dig in the dirt" and make mud pies.

The coffee cans were the greatest for digging big, deep holes in a specially designated place for us to do so (the "designated place" to dig was so that in evenings when my folks would sit outside with their 'after dinner cocktails', they didn't fall into our holes that would have no doubtedly happened after a few too many of those 'after dinner cocktails'). Grandmother would stand at the backdoor with her apron on, usually with a dish towel in hand and yell at us "if you keep digging, pretty soon you'll be able to hear the phones ringing in China"...and we believed her!! So we dug, and dug, and dug, and a couple of times I truly thought I heard the phones ring...or maybe it was the bells on the rickshaws as they scurried down the streets of China - I don't know. All I knew was that I had to dig. And dig I did.

My grandparents had a great love and respect of the outdoors and nature. My granddaddy was an avid bird watcher and could tell you the name of every bit of plant life and tree that grew in our world. My grandmother loved to garden and plant flowers. She LOVED to grow things. The inside of her house was a testament to that fact. It was filled with house plants she'd carried around with her for forty years. She had huge ivies and violets that were cuttings from her mothers house....that were cuttings from her mother's house. These were old, beautiful creations of mother nature and she nurtured every one for as long as I can remember.

That love and respect of planting, growing, nature, and 'digging in the dirt' was passed on to me. I love watching the birds and the squirrels and the chipmunks in my back yard. I encourage them to come...and that includes the squirrels. Most people think they're a nuisance, but I love to watch them. They are way more entertaining than watching TV. So I have bird feeders and squirrel feeders and they all come...including the wild rabbits at dusk and early morning.

There's one old rabbit who comes around on a regular basis to scavenge the squirrel corn and the cardinal's sunflower seeds. I know he's old and well established here because he seems to know the squirrels by name. He finds a spot where the getting is good, and by gosh dontcha know he stands his ground when the squirrels come around.

A few days ago, I was sitting at the supper table and happened to look out the window into the back yard where all the feeders are. The rabbit was there enjoying his supper. There were a couple of squirrels pilfering around the feeders as well. One of the squirrels decided he wanted the spot where rabbit was eating. Rabbit was having none of that -stood back on his haunches and they went to boxing each others ears! It was the funniest thing I had ever seen...until the next day. The next morning, I was sitting out on the deck in the back and there were squirrel and rabbit going at it again, only this time squirrel was hanging upside down like a trapeze artist from one of the bird feeders taking swipes at rabbit on the ground...and the boxing match was on again. A little later on, the tiny little chipmunk that lives under our back porch was weaving himself in and out of the feed portals of that same bird feeder. Waaaaaaaay better than TV folks.

My sweetie and I live in a Cape Cod style home we are currently renovating. In this economy, we got a real sweetheart of a deal on this place. We've been working on it since last fall. With all the time and attention that goes into working on the house, I haven't really had much opportunity to get outside and "dig in the dirt". There's a spot in the back where I know I want at least a table garden this year, but don't know if I'll get that far or not. There's a couple of places in the front I'd like to put in some flowers, but don't know 'bout that either. The closest I've come to planting of any sort thus far is the amaryllis bulb my sweetie's mother gave me for Christmas...and I did that back in January.

My sweetie's mother did give me a couple of small pots of pretty pink double impatients yesterday and a hanging basket to put them in. I'm a little encouraged now.

This amaryllis bulb was one of those things you find as a kit in the stores around Christmas time along with the tulips and the mini orchids and the like. My sweetie's mother actually re-gifted it to me because she's not much of a 'dirt digger'. She has a couple of house plants that are quite lovely but that's about as far as it goes with her. Someone had given her this paper white amaryllis kit for Christmas and she gifted it to me.

In January, I took it out of the box and proceeded to follow the planting instructions that came with it. I followed the instructions to the letter. I set it in a southwestern exposed window for optimal sun. I was proud as punch I'd been able to plant something so early in the year. The instructions also said I would see growth within a couple of weeks and soon I would have a magnificent thing of beauty to admire and behold.

Now, this is supposed to be a forced bulb, in the house, in the dead of winter. Each day I watched for some sort of sign of new growth. A week went by...nothing. Two weeks. Three weeks. Nothing. A month. Six weeks. TWO MONTHS. Nothing. Finally, at the end of March when I figured the worst of the nightly freezes were at a minimum, I gave up on the little amaryllis bulb and set it out on the back porch steps with the thought in mind that maybe it will do what it is supposed to do next the instructions said it would do the next time it was due to bloom.

A couple of weeks ago I was headed outside to check the feeders when low and behold, what did I see but some tiny green sprouts in the amaryllis pot! Could it be, I wondered? Is it really going to do something - even if it's just some little green leaves? It's alive!!! I was tickled pink to see this foster child of a plant have some spirit and decide to wake up in the spring.

Since then, each day three little bright green, banana shaped leaves have grown. In the middle a dark pink shoot has come up. In the days since, the dark pink shoot has grown tall and sports a bud on the top. I was just out of my mind with excitement about the sudden and stunning growth of this little thing that's not supposed to bloom until late fall.

So, I eagerly anticipated the pay off of all this activity. Soon...I didn't know exactly when, but I knew very soon, there would be the beautiful paper white amaryllis bloom I'd long awaited to see. This was going to be magnificent. I took a couple of photos of the proud little plant with it's bud perched high atop it's throne. I wanted to document it's progress in pictures so I would forever have proof of "the little amaryllis that could". Each day I would take a photo of it's budding progress and have them forever. I even knew I would want a photo of the completed bloom as the wallpaper on my computer. That's how confident I was about this thing of beauty unfolding in front of me.

Two days ago, early in the morning as I was leaving the house to take my sweetie to work, I noticed something different. The amaryllis. It was different today. The months of anticipation. The hope. The frustration. The tending it like it was my own child. The dreams I'd had of it's beauty and grandeur - dashed. In an instant, the bud on top was gone. "What happened to the amaryllis bud?" I asked my sweetie as he saw the tears welling up in my eyes. "I don't know. Maybe the squirrels got it" he said. "But it was here last night when we went to bed" I said. I looked hard at it for a moment and then it hit me...the boxing rabbit. Rabbit had this sweet, tender, chubby little bud in the wee hours of the morning for breakfast.

I didn't have much doubt that it was rabbit who scarfed my prized amaryllis. My neighbors recently told me the rabbits come around and eat the buds from the tulips on the verge of blooming. Most tulips don't see the light of day here because of the rabbits. That was all the validation I needed. I looked at it again and saw that it had definitely been chewed. No clean break as if maybe it been knocked by a passerby. No dirt laying around. The pot still upright. No evidence of it anywhere else in the yard. It was just gone. Period.

Even though there will be no grand paper white amaryllis blooming for me this time because of the boxing rabbit, I will continue to feed the birds. and the squirrels. and the chipmunk. and the boxing rabbit. I invite them here and will continue to do so as I love their daily antics and the wonder of the nature in my own back yard. I will just have to reconsider how I go about "digging in the dirt" planting flowers and the table garden, if I get to pursue these things this spring. I do not feel like Elmer Fudd and have the need to go after "that cwazy wabbit". That "cwazy wabbit"' was only doing what comes naturally to him and found a treat indeed. I'll just have to 'wabbit pwoof' everything else I do henceforth.

In a way, it's not so bad knowing it made someone else just as happy as it would have made me. Even if it was a 'boxing rabbit'.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Getting High,Yard Sales and My First Time

Yes, I am a blogging virgin and this is my first time as an author, so please be gentle with me.

For about two and a half days...or six months...I thought about what the subject matter of this auspicious occasion should be. A thousand different things spun around in my head. The possibilities were of dizzying proportions - to the point of brain fry. My circuits overloaded and I decided to not think so much about it and just let it go for awhile. Now that my head has 'seeminglysettledintosomesortofsensemaking' of all this blog stuff and the subject matter thereof, I think I can finally put words to paper, as it were.

There are so many things that would make such great fodder for blogging. I see and hear stuff everyday and there's always that moment when I think "that would be a good topic for a blog". I could type little blurbs here and there about those little things that touch me (like the birds in my back yard on the bird feeder), or infuriate me (like the traffic here in New England), or really make no obvious impact at all - merely observations.

Then there are all the changes ~big and small~ that have taken place in my life in the last two, three...forty seven years - most especially the last eighteen months of my life. I've moved a few times. I've changed jobs several times. I've traveled some. My marriage ended. I dived back into the world of dating. I've formed relationships that have made huge impacts on me - good and bad. My relationships with my children have taken different directions and moved to different levels. I've become a grandmother. My musical career has expanded with those changes. Certain health issues have been hard to overcome and control. There's the financial desperation I endured - and overcame. The gray hair made an appearance a couple of years ago and seemingly continues to multiply everyday. My life long affair with knitting, crochet, sewing, quilting, painting, and crafting in any form possible has grown with these changes. This "Peri-menopause" thing is driving me absolutely fucking crazy. Birthdays go by without any real physical or emotional trauma; these mile markers mainly just tell me that I don't really feel any differently in my mid forties than I did in my mid twenties....with the exception that my energy level was much more abundant back then...and my bones and brain didn't hurt from the rigors of mundane daily life...and shopping was fun then. I looooooved to shop.

Shopping these days is merely a drudging chore for me. I only go out when absolutely prompted to: like opening the kitchen cabinets only to find there's one can of corn and a zip-lock sandwich bag half full of mostly broken crackers I don't recognize - and a box of taco shells that have been there for God knows how long; and the fridge boasts only a quarter of a fifth of Triple-Sec and what's left of a sliced up lime - at least I think it was a lime at some point in time; and the freezer reveals two frozen mugs reserved for beer at the end of those long, hard, exhausting, days of...days of...OK - those days of deciding which blogs I'm going to read, contemplating what I've just read and tumulting over what to write in my own blog if and when I start writing a blog (Gawd, I have such a hard life); then there's the frozen martini glass (with pink and blue fishies on it) that's reserved for pitchers of pretty pink Cosmopolitan's, made with 'lite' cranberry juice (gotta watch the waist dontcha know - NOT! I don't do that stuff anymore. There's no point.) at the end of those 'extra' long, hard, arduous days of...days - well, you get the picture; and when the toilet paper supply is at MAYBE twenty shit-tickets between two bathrooms; and toothpaste has been squeezed to the point that surgically slicing open the tube is the only way to get what's left of a microscopic little blob. Then and ONLY then do I trudge - oh, and the critters have a day's worth of morsels rattling in the cat and dog food bags ( these critters are NOT neglected in any way, shape or form. They are fed and cared for better than the human form in this don't even go there) - THEN I trudge off to get the things we need to stay fed and clean and fairly healthy. Malls aren't my thing. Shopping for clothes is worse than grocery shopping. Spending the day at the beauty salon and getting manicured, pedicured, and anything else that most assuredly needs 'curing', doesn't necessarily blow my skirt up. Someday I'll explain why I've morphed into a ~retail~ shopping sloth. In the meantime - What was that? Did someone whisper 'yard sales'?

Then there was "Yard Sale-ing".........

Aaaaahhhhh.........yard sales. Garage sales. Thrift shops. Junk stores. Estate sales. Estate auctions. 'Real' antique shops. These are the recreational drugs of choice for me with the exception of the aforementioned beer or the pretty pink pitchers of Cosmo's ALSO reserved for the celebratory end of days' successful bargain hunting. There's nothing like the rush of finding the 'deals of the century' and the lasting high that ensues thereafter in these 'Gardens of Eden' of second hand shopping.

When the first signs of spring start to peek up out of long, cold, gray months of winter, so do the yard and garage sales start to make their tiny appearances. Thrift store and junk shop inventories start to increase too. The local daily newspaper becomes my best friend from mid March 'til late in the fall when it's absolutely too cold and wet to produce these magnificent offerings of someone elses trash.

This is like Christmas morning for me. Have anticiapted this moment all winter long and FINALLY - 'Yard Sale Day Eve' is here. I put out the plate of quarters and the glass of bargaining jargin for good old Saint ReSale to find in the middle of the night. I can't sleep because I'm so excited. I sneak downstairs in hopes of catching a glimpse of him leaving my Yard Sale Day gift under the 'antique shop find' coat tree....but alas, I tucker out and fall asleep before he arrives. When I awake the next morning, he's fulfilled my Yard Sale Day wishes and left me the days newspaper magically filled with more yard sales, garage sales, and estate sales I could ever hope for. Note to self: write him a thank you note and send his wife a lovely trinket from the days' finds.

So with newspaper in hand and carefully selected sales close to home or long distance travel (2 miles or more) if the items listed seems like the 'good stuff' highlighted; the passenger seat, back seat and trunk of car have been emptied and cleaned (a winters worth of soda cans, paper cups, straws, straw wrappers, crumpled sale ads papers, coats, sweaters, scarves, ice scrapers, de-icer cans, dog hair, etc...etc...etc...have been raked out) in order to pack as much newly purchased merchandise as humanly possible; a new air freshener hung from the rear view mirror (to mask the stale smells from cigar smoke - that I've begged him not to do in the car cuz it reeeeeeks and the smell NEVER goes away, and the dog smell, and the winters worth of garbage, blah blah blah, just raked out of car); a fist full of one dollar bills and a couple of dollars in quarters; a wad of reusable shopping bags in various shapes and sizes; a stack of old newspapers to wrap breakables; a couple of small to medium size boxes to pack breakables in; bungee cords, sash cord, a roll of duct tape and various other things to "tie the trunk closed" as much as possible because of the sofa, love seat, pool table, grandfather clock missing chimes, hands and anything pertinent to making it function properly that I just might HAVE to have, and a weight bench with most of the weights included (for my sweetie) that may be hanging out of it... the trunk that is (this is where a winch and steel cable come in handy to cinch it all down tight)...and to strap things to roof and hood of car if necessary; a couple of red mechanics rags to use as flags on stuff sticking out of the trunk more than 200 feet - or that naughty red nightie from Fredericks of Hollywood thatnevergotwornandbeeninthedresserdrawerfor15yearscuzijustneverlosttheweightforittofitright andbesidesineverhadtheenergyattheendofthedaytoputittogooduseanywaysowhynotcutituptouseasred flagsonthebackofthecaronyardsaledaysifneeded; a tank full of gas; sunglasses; cell phone -to keep my sweetie apprised of all the fabulous deals I'm acquiring as the day wears on...and would he be a lamb and please empty the basement of last years finds and junk to make room for this year's haul cuz honey the car is packed full...and I'm going back for more !!!- (big breath here) aaaaaaand a BIG diet soda to go - I'm saddled up and ready to go....and this is doing it alone.

Tip for those who wanna yard sale with the BFF: Take separate vehicles. More room for more stuff! And if you're like me with an economy size car that has to make use of the least amount of space for the max amount of stuff, invite the BFF with the BIG SUV or pickup truck. If you ain't got a BFF with either one of those modes for hauling stuff, then get yourself a new BFF - one that does have one of those modes. It's waaaaaaaaaay cheaper than buying one of those modes for yourself.


If your sweetie happens to loath yard sale-ing (which most male sweeties do) but does have that big ass Dodge truck with the Hemi sittin' in the driveway but doesn't allow you to touch it cuz it's "his baby" - promise him anything he wants in return for following you around to all the great sales this weekend cuz you JUST KNOW you're gonna find that $35,000 bass boat he's been wanting somewhere out there for 10 bucks. You can feel it in your bones, God a mighty ~ this is THE day for the boat some body's gotta give up cuz the wife don't allow him to go fishin' no more...not since that incident with the ~new~ church secretary...and the boat...and the only fishin' being done was for her bikini top floatin' around somewhere in the lake.

His eyes will light up like a Christmas tree and he'll decide in that instant that you're the greatest thing since sliced bread for suggesting he go with you to find the boat of his dreams without having to second mortgage the house - or sell off your prized antique heirloom finest china you inherited from five generations of grandmothers aaaaand the silverware service for twelve passed down from those same five generations - which he would prefer to do because God only knows it would Kill. Him. Dead. if he ever had to part with his "Man Cave" (he's decked out with all the stuff ~crap~ HE thinks is cool and you're not allowed to enter) because the house got re-po'd if it was second mortgaged.

In the meantime, you're loading up with all the goodies you can possibly stuff in that "big ass" truck of his ~aaaaand he may just even help you unload it all when you get home cuz you promised him anything he wanted and you gotta make good on it. Damn, maybe I shouldn't have cut up the naughty red nightie from Fredericks of Hollywood just yet... and you never know, you might just find that $35,000 bass boat for 10 bucks sitting in some one's yard sale -but be prepared to settle for the $3 trawling motor that "needs some work" and console him by telling him it's a place to start and he can keep trading up. Just hope he doesn't want to trade you in the process... and believe me honey - he WILL trade UP !!

Sooooooo - I'm outta the the gate in a flash like Big Brown at the Kentucky Derby, as are a gazillion other seasoned yard salers. I gotta get there first! all the sales!!...I gotta get the good stuff before anyone else does!!! first, me first, ME FIRST!!!!

Yard sale season is officially open.

Suddenly my energy level is that of a five year old with ADHD. The degenerative arthritis that consumes me from the waste down is non-existent. The color in my face is rosy instead of ashy. The brain that is in constant state of fart is suddenly sharp and capable of processing and retaining infinite amounts of information relating to yard sale-ing...and driving directions are noooooo problem. The bifocals are no longer needed as I can see the prices of stuff on tiny price tags, from my car, from across the street of yards and garages.

I'm a kid of fourteen again effortlessly sailing over hurdles and the high jump in our school's track meet. I'm the same kid winning the trophies as 'best guard' in day long basketball tournaments for our school. The competition is stiff and the prizes are bigger and better with time and effort. The sun on my face and the wind in my hair never felt so good.

I went to my first yard sales of the season last weekend. I got some great stuff at virtually nothing prices. This is my first experience with yard sale-ing in New England. I was flabbergasted at what people were (not) charging for stuff at these sales. I went home with two carloads of stuff...stuff we needed and stuff not so necessarily necessary....for about $25. A desk with a hutch ($3 - FOR REAL TYPE SERIOUSLY...and not the crappy kind that comes in a box you put together yourself), four dining room chairs ($10 for the four - SOOOO SERIOUSLY) that match the table I already have, some beautiful old dishes (10 cents per) , a couple of knick knacks (25 cents here and there), a wicker coffee table for the back porch ($1 - KNOCK ME OVER WITH A FEATHER), a smattering of things to hang on the wall (50 cents tossed around), a great looking 3x5 throw rug that came from Pottery Barn ($1 - MAY LIGHTENING STRIKE ME DEAD IF I'M LYIN'!), some picture frames (more 2 bits tossed in the pot), a gooooooorgeous wine decanter set with all six glasses by Princess House ($1 - new in the box - never been used, 'nary a chip to be found - IT'S INSANE PEOPLE)...and the list goes on ~ and all this stuff is in FABULOUS condition.

Where I come from in South Carolina. and Tennessee. and Arkansas. and Texas. and even Oklahoma 30 years ago - yard sale prices are quite a bit higher. At the time I thought I was getting good deals on stuff, but compared to what I paid last weekend here in Massachusetts, those might as well have been retail prices. I don't know if people here just haven't figured out they can charge more for the junk they're trying to get rid of...and people will buy it...or if they just don't care and it's not about the money. Maybe it's just about getting rid of their junk to make room for more junk, or to just make more room. What I do know is that I've died and gone to yard sale heaven. My first sales of the season have left me drooling for more and I suspect I'll hit the yard sale trail again in a week or two.

I thought it fitting this being my first public blog and all, as I'm starting a new life in a new place, and it's spring...a time for new beginnings great and small, that "Yard Sale-ing" was a good topic start with. In time I will post pictures of the things of my daily life and the stuff I knit and crochet and sew and quilt...and of the dog and the cat and the wildlife around the feeders in my yard...and of my sweetie -if he consents -...and of my "deals of century" throughout the yard sale season. I will be creating things throughout the summer to offer up for sale in the fall and winter on my website and maybe Ebay. My creativity begs to be pushed to the limits and to be most productive with what I do...what I love to do. I will talk about the various happenings in my daily life...and of my sweetie...and of the cat and the dog...and whatever else seems fitting to post (maybe even a little about my 'Rock Goddess' persona as I live a double life and sing in a band too). There's a lot going on...and a lot of "fodder" for blogging.

.....and yes, it was good for me.