My Means To My End


I’m not one for New Year’s resolutions. For me, they create too much pressure — and within a week, they’ll be in the trash heap and I’ll be spending the rest of the year beating myself up because I didn’t go to the gym or lose weight or learn a new craft.  Besides, in my world, each day gives us a chance to get a fresh start — hence, the sunrise photo at the top of this post.

This year, though, is different.

Orchid, close-up.

Maybe it’s because it’s a new year and a new decade. Maybe it’s because Joe and I just saw the dermatologist and had a few things cut off and set out for biopsy. Maybe it’s because tomorrow is my first stress test since arriving in Florida, and I just passed the one-year anniversary of the placement of my 14th coronary stent. Maybe it’s because the older I get, the more stories I hear about friends, family, and random people suddenly dying from either an illness or an accident. Maybe it’s because the older I get, the more I worry about the end . . . my end.

I apologize if all of this seems morbid — and I’ve tried to soften it with photos of flowers currently blooming in my garden — but this end-of-my-days stuff has been tapping me on my shoulder for some time now. I, however, chose to ignore it — until today.

The remains of a Bromeliad flower.

Let’s face it — death is a fact of life. Just look at all of the plants that you and I have loved over the years — and how many of them have died. Perennials and trees give us years — even decades or more of enjoyment — but pity the poor annuals. To paraphrase from Carol Burnett, “It seems they just got started and before you know it, comes the time we have to say so long.”

It’s the same thing with people. The older we get, the more we realize how quickly time passes. I recently watched a series, The Movies That Made Us, on Netflix. It looks at what happened behind the scenes at the some of the most iconic movies ever made. When a friend first told me about the series, I thought how interesting to hear all about Sunset Boulevard and other classics from the ‘30s, ‘40s, and ‘50s.

Instead, the series focused on films from the ’80s! The first episode was about Dirty Dancing. Excuse me, but when did Dirty Dancing become 33 years old? It feels as if I saw it yesterday! Could 33 years truly feel like yesterday? Am I so old that moments in my life are considered “iconic”?

Light Bulb Clerondenrum.

Joe and I have made plans for our passing — wills and DNRs and healthcare proxies and all that. I, though, have not made any arrangements for my digital life — my Nitty Gritty Dirt Man existence. That’s all changing in 2020.

For starters, I’m investigating each of my social media platforms for their “death” information. WordPress, which hosts this blog, appears to have the most comprehensive policy — including information on how to make someone else an admin on my site and how WP can work with the designated survivor to either transfer the site to another owner or make it private.

Aloe.

Facebook and Twitter, meanwhile, are vying for second place — although FB has a slight edge. Simply click on the question mark in the upper right corner of the page and type in “death.” There will be a list of topics, including creating a legacy contact and memorializing the FB account of the deceased. Twitter has a similar search area, but the information feels a bit less complete than FB.

In my brief research, LinkedIn appears to need some work in the area.

Gout Plant.

There’s also my own plan. My hope is that Joe will be outlive me, and it’s for him that I am making a spreadsheet with all of my NGDM and personal social media accounts, as well as the password for each of them. I’m also going to type out step-by-step instructions on how to post what is the most difficult part of this process.

I’m going to write my own farewell post to you. After all, you are a large part of this blogging process and of gardening. Your support and encouragement and smiles are often more rewarding than a seed successfully sprouted.  Once written, it will remain as a draft — hopefully for a very long time — and Joe will simply have to open the admin page and hit publish.

Yesterday, Today, & Tomorrow.

As I write this, I’m suddenly realizing there’s always the possibility Joe will pre-decease me (although, I don’t really see that happening since I have more health issues) or that we will both go at the same time. In either case, I’m going to have to choose a digital executor or . . .

. . . accept that at some point, it’s all ashes to ashes, bytes to bytes.

Not-So-Wordless Wednesday: Small Packages & Good Things


As 2019 comes to a close, I thought this would be an excellent time to wrap up a few loose ends — or, rather, unwrap a few small packages and share the good things inside.

Small Package #1:

In April 2018, before I left my nursery job in a local box store, I purchased a small vanda orchid. Vandas are incredibly beautiful plants. Flowers are large and plentiful, and the roots hang down from the pot openings in long strands, absorbing moisture from the air. Normally, when these orchids are sold fully grown and in full bloom, they can cost as much as $30 — and that’s on the low end.

It’s always been my gardening opinion to not purchase expensive plants, and to never purchase plants in bloom. Personally, I’d rather have a plant that hasn’t been forced into bloom so that I can enjoy the flowers for a longer period of time.

Such was the case with my vanda, a large purple and white speckled variety. I noticed it on an endcap in the garden center, part of  a display of various orchids packaged in small bags made of netting. These are younger plants, grown from award-winning stock, and all that’s needed is time, patience, and about $11.

The plant, though, never seemed to get any larger and I was surprised to see it send up a flower spike. Maybe, I thought, this is what they do. Eventually, the flower buds opened — and the flowers, although lovely, looked nothing like the original package. They were red and they were small. Very small.

Although, I no longer had the receipt, I reached out to the company, Better-Gro, on Facebook. I shared photos of the original packaging, which I had saved, and of the flowers that bloomed. In a true testament to their excellent customer service, they quickly responded with an apology

Good Thing #1:

Within two days, a small package arrived. Inside was a replacement plant that was my original intended purchase, and one which I am now showering with time and patience.

Small Package #2:

At about the same time, another package arrived in the mail. It was from a former colleague of mine, Diana Marik, an English teacher who is now living her retirement as a paranormal romance writer.

Good Thing #2:

I opened the package and there was the most recent addition to her Seven Deadly Veils series, Veil of Orion, a story of enduring love and the forces trying to tear it apart. There was also a note.

Hello Kevin,

 This is a surprise, I’m sure… In this trying world a spark of joy is here. Since I’ve already dedicated the first six books to close friends and family, I decided to dedicate this book to you.

When we had worked together, we were both independently thinking — dreaming — of writing a book. At the time, I was playing around with the idea of compiling blog posts and photos into a book format, which eventually became Seeing Green. I had heard through the school grapevine that Diana was also exploring writing.

One day, I visited Diana while she was on hall duty and we had our first book-writing conversation. We spoke of the stresses and time, genres and the possibility of self-publishing. At some point, I mentioned that I had registered for a self-publishing conference in NYC and I gave Diana the information. We met in the city that day, attended various workshops, and shared what each of us had learned.

I never forgot the simple act of kindness of informing me about the Self-Pub Expo in Manhattan and pretty much holding my hand when I was so nervous about discovering this ever-changing, crazy world of publishing.

 Isn’t it amazing how simple acts have such a profound rippling effect even when we’re unaware of it?

Amazing, indeed. Uncharacteristically, I found myself at a loss for words. I was touched, honored, humbled, flattered — and none of these words can truly capture the feeling. It was amazing.

Small Package #3:

Joe and I stopped sending paper Christmas cards years ago. As much as we love the idea of sending holiday messages to friends and family, there was something — whether it was the number of trees needed to produce the paper or the money for the cards and the postage, and then to have all of it tossed out at the end of the season… It all seemed wasteful and especially unnecessary in this digital age.

We did, though, have so many peoples’ emails, Facebook contact info, and cell phone numbers. For us, it made better sense to make our own digital card and send it to everyone — and they could print it or delete it. Either way, they would know they were in our thoughts.

Good Thing #3:

So, from Joe and me to all of you:

The Great Hydrangea Experiment


I long for hydrangea days.

As much as I love living and gardening in South Florida, I can’t help but deeply miss the hydrangeas in my New York garden. I loved photographing them from their first green buds in spring to the fullness of color during their bloom time to the their faded glory in fall to winter’s dried-brown clusters.

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Repost: Nana’s Tree, 1966 – 2013


Today, October 14, 2019, would have been the 120th birthday of Joe’s remarkable grandmother. To many people, she was Marie — but to so many others, she was Nana. To celebrate and honor her, I thought it would be nice to share one of my favorite posts and I hope you enjoy it, too. Today, it’s all about Nana and the tree she planted . . .

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Love In The Time Of Plumeria


I’m not sure when my gardening mind turned to — for want of a better term — composted manure, but I’m pretty positive I know the exact moment I realized it. I was mowing the lawn, daydreaming while I worked, and an idea — one that was already well known to me, you, and everyone else, but seemed like a fresh discovery — popped into my head.

Trees can be grown from seeds.

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Gardening In The Cone Of Anxiety


This isn’t the post I had planned to write. That original post has to wait for another day because of Hurricane Dorian — and before I get into the meat of this post, please, understand that I am in no way making light of the situation in the Bahamas. That is tragic. That is devastating — and I’m not even sure those words are strong enough to fully capture what the people there have experienced and are continuing to face each day.

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