Extra! Extra! Weed All About It!

Weeding.  It’s one of those necessary chores of gardening, and generally, there are two approaches.  The first is, pull ‘em as you see ‘em.  I try to take this sensible approach as often as I can.  More than likely, though, I usually find myself in a weed-a-thon, removing a tangled jungle of inconsiderate weeds that continued to grow and spread despite my not having enough time to choose option one.

That’s how it is right now with this blog.  I’ve let several things build up and now it’s time to weed.

First, I owe Beyond Confessions an apology.  Weeks ago – yes, weeks – Beyond Confessions nominated me for the Versatile Blogger Award.  Although it is definitely an honor to be nominated, I feel kind of strange accepting it because I’ve received this award twice before.

When she informed me of her nomination, I posted a reply saying thank you – and that maybe she should nominate someone else under the circumstances.  I mean, let’s share the wealth a bit.  Besides, I really don’t know if I can handle the requirements of the award.  I’m all out of random facts about myself – or at least the random facts I feel comfortable telling you all about. 

As soon as I clicked send, however, the guilt struck me like a clump o’ mud – and it has been weighing on me, quite heavily.  No matter my logic for declining the award, the truth is Beyond Confessions should be thanked and her blog should be recognized.  Not only did she take the time to nominate me and 14 other sites, she also completed the award’s requirements while documenting her life as a new mom on her blog. 

So, here’s my compromise.  I have thanked Beyond Confessions.  I will not reveal any more random facts about me.  But I will  nominate blogs that I have recently discovered — because they deserve to be recognized.

  1. Daylily Soup – Beth is an Alabama-based gardener who fills her site with amazing words and amazing photos, all of which document her passion.
  2. Sods Law – Amy is a photographer first , and now she has a garden.  A match made in heaven.
  3. Vickie Szumigala Photo Blog — Vickie is a self-taught photographer who is looking to share tips on making this craft affordable and easy.
  4. The Word Hoarder — Rich is an Irish ex-pat now living, gardening, raising a family, and writing in North Carolina.  Join him on his journey.
  5. The Soulsby Farm — I am always impressed with the diversity of people’s lives out there.  Here Dan not only shares his family , but also the work he does on his small farm.  Fascinating stuff.
  6. This Modern Wife — Alanna shares much of her life as she seeks to redefine what it means to be a wife in the 21st century.
  7. Skeptical Gardener — A new homeowner and the responsibility of landscaping and tending to a garden.

My second bit of weeding has to do with so many of the comments I received during March – also known as St. Patrick’s Month.  Many of you requested a photo of me in full parade regalia.  I don’t show this sort of stuff to just anyone. . . but. . . here it goes:

This is me parading in a local parade on Long Island.  My friend Cathey captured me in mid-blow, jowls full of air.  Bagpiping may not always be pretty, but I do love the accessories. 

The Sunshine Award Goes To . . .

It was a dark and stormy night.

Actually, it was daytime – and it was gray and soggy.  The sort of day that feels like a wet sponge, and no matter how tightly you twist and wring, it continues to seep water.  At least that was my view as I stood in the potting shed, gazing out at a lawn that already needs to be mowed and winter remains that should have been raked up weeks ago. 

That’s when I noticed that sunshine can come from the most unlikely of places.

I had taken advantage of the weather to catch up on potting shed work, transplanting seedlings into individual pots.  In this case, I marveled at the smallest splashes of color on the first true leaves of Hypoestes phyllostachya, or Polka Dot Plant.  They actually seemed to sparkle on this grayest of gray days. 

I also caught a glimpse of sunshine on the arbor that spans the blue stone walkway.  This may not look like much to you, but to me this is the payoff for which I have waited years.  The Climbing Hydrangeas, purchased so long ago from a catalog, have finally matured enough to make their very first flowers.

Even more sunshine arrived courtesy of Ni hao Shangai! and Outtakes on the Outskirts, both of whom nominated my blog for the Sunshine Award.  Each of these blogs, although they couldn’t be geographically further apart, document family life in their own part of the world: Shanghai and Ohio, respectively.  And to each of these remarkable women bloggers, I would like to extend my thanks for discovering my site and for passing along this honor.

I’ve said it before – and I will say it again – when each of us writes and posts, we often forget that there is a world of an audience out there, each eager to explore and learn and discuss.  When notice comes that your work is appreciated, well, it is hugely touching and encouraging.  So, ladies, thank you again!

With these various blog awards, there are rules that must be followed in the acceptance.  So here it goes. 

  1. Include the logo in your post.  Check
  2. Link back to the person who nominated you.  Double check.
  3. Answer 10 questions about yourself.
  4. Nominate 10 – 12 other bloggers and link them to the Sunshine Award post in their comments section.

Some sunny facts about me:

1. What is your favorite color?  Actually, I don’t really have a favorite — so I opened my closet and did a quick analyis of my clothes.  There’s blue and green and lots of earth tones.  When I look at that description, I almost sound like Earth.

2. What is your favorite animal?  Again, I don’t really have a favorite breed.  I’m not someone who is surr0unded by prints and posters and trinkets of, say, Pandas or Koalas.  So I will take this as an opporunity to introduce you to the rest of the family: Murphy and Muffola.  Murphy is our 7-year-old Tibetan Terrier, who is sadly dealing with some knee issues in her hind legs.  Then, there is Muffola, the just over 1-year-old Ragdoll cat.

3. What is your favorite number?  Hmmm.  I really don’t think I have one.  Seven?  Because it rhymes with Kevin?  My age?  Because I’m happy to still be here? 

4. What is your favorite non-alcoholic drink?  This one is easy.  Water.  I like the basics — cool and refreshing.  If I want to make it fancy, I’ll brew it into some unsweetened iced tea.

5. Which do you prefer: Facebook or Twitter?  Up until yesterday, this was neither.  I do not have a Facebook account because, as a school employee, I did not want students having access to me.  Then they would ask to be my friend, and I would have to set a boundary and say no, and then it would just get ugly.  So I have avoided Facebook.  As for Twitter — Is anyone really that important that they have to message whatever they happen to be doing at any moment of the day or even their opinion on everything?  Then I spoke to our friend Teresa, who gave me a crash course in blogging and Twittering and Facebooking and linking and, well, let’s just say I’m exploring all options on the social media front.  I’ll keep you posted.

6.  What is your passion?  There are way too many to list.  The obvious would be gardening and writing.  Then, there is bagpiping, traveling, reading, and food. 

7. Do you prefer giving or receiving presents?  I’m a giver — but I do like to receive a gift.  My favorites are the kind that are given for no reason and they do not need to be expensive.  Just a token that says, “I thought of you.”

8. What is your favorite pattern?  Plaid.  Hands down, it’s plaid.

9. What is your favorite day of the week?  I enjoy Saturdays (it’s a weekend) and Wednesday evenings (bagpipe lesson night), but I especially enjoy a lazy Sunday morning, lingering over breakfast and The New York Times and the crossword puzzle.

10. What is your favorite flower?  This is a particular difficult question, but if I have to  play favorites, then Dahlia holds a special place in my heart — just don’t tell the other flowers.  They each think that they’re my favorite.

Now for my nominees.  The first 8 are a group of blogs that I visit regularly for inspiration, creativity, and knowledge.  They are, I guess, my rays of sunshine and I often nominate them for various awards.  I truly admire the creators of these blogs.  Numbers 9 – 14 (yes, I know I went overboard) are new discoveries.  I was fortunate enough that they found my site so that I could explore and discover their world.  Please find the time to click on over and explore all that they have to offer — no sunscreen required.

  1. Lee May’s Gardening Life — The first blog I ever read, and the one that inspired me to take the leap.
  2. Hortus 5 — The style is tremendous, but it’s Mario’s warmth and dedication that keeps me returning.
  3. Jean’s Garden — With wit and intelligence, Jean makes gardening and nature very hands-on.
  4. Arigna Gardener — Each day is an adventure, as Bridget shares so much of her gardening life in Ireland.
  5. Promenade Plantings — This is so more than a gardening blog.  There are recipes and humor and a European life.
  6. Tidy Gardens by Jane — A day without Jane is like a day without sunshine.  I especially love her humor.
  7. Canoe Corner — Join Marguerite as she shares her progress on renovating her dream home and landscape.
  8. Dreaming of Roses — If there was ever a place where the sun shines, it’s in this garden.  Roses, roses, and more!
  9. Breathe Lighter — Three remarkable women have joined forces to share their inspiration, knowledge, and philosophy.
  10. Dirt Road Documentaries — An incredibly fascinating journey.
  11. Rainy Leaf — Elaine offers a tremendous amount of gardening knowledge, with a Pacific Northwest slant.
  12. Joy in the Moments — Char takes the reader on a tour of life’s moments, and in between are lessons in writing and coping.
  13. The Garden Diaries — There’s a lot of design information here, but it’s Beekeeping 101 that grabbed my attention.
  14. Transformational Tuesdays — At last, it’s time recognize my friend Teresa, the same friend who instructed me on the power of Facebook and Twitter.  This is just one of the many projects she has embarked upon in her effort to spread motivation and personal growth. 

At this point in writing — and reading — the sun feels as if it’s about to set.  Again, many thanks to my nominators, and I hope you can find the time to visit my nominees. 

In closing, I’d like to borrow a line from an Irish blessing: “May the sun shine warm upon your face.”


The Very Inspiring Blogger Award Goes To. . .

One of my most favorite romantic comedies – ever — is Pillow Talk, starring Doris Day and Rock Hudson.  There’s great chemistry between the stars, great views of “Mad Men” era New York, great fashions, Doris Day’s great apartment, and the great Thelma Ritter as the housekeeper. 

There’s also Rock Hudson as a swinging bachelor luring women into his swinging bachelor pad with the tune: “You are my inspiration [insert name here].”  It’s a running gag in the film, as countless young starlets line up for some Hudson lovin’. 

I speak of inspiration because recently Charissa of Joy in the Moments awarded me with the Very Inspiring Blogger Award – and it couldn’t come at a more perfect time.  You see, I needed some inspiration to get me writing.  So, thank you, Charissa, not only for the award but for also inspiring me to write and to examine my own sources of inspiration.  And if you aren’t familiar with Charissa’s blog, please pop over to her site and explore a place that not only celebrates writing but also offers the chance to celebrate all that life offers.  Hers is an uplifting place.

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This Bud’s For You


As I sat in my office the other day, I glanced at the terracotta pot, the one that stays outside all summer and that I bring to work each September, and saw the first fuzzy leaves of Gloxinia, a plant that has called this pot home for several years.

It’s a funny thing, this Gloxinia.  At the end of the growing season, after all of the leaves and stems have withered away, I put it in an out of the way place.  When I remember, I give it some water – and then, thanks to its inner timepiece, it begins to emerge from its winter dormancy – and I am always in awe.  While I go about my life and career, this plant is doing its own thing – dormant and alive, right under my nose, and when I least expect it, Gloxinia reminds me that it’s still here.

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Not-So-Wordless Wednesday: Pressing News

Like a garden, a blog needs its own share of TLC.  There’s watering (to nurture it along), weeding (to keep out the spam), some deadheading (to keep it fresh), and a fair amount of manure (to encourage growth).  The real reward comes when blooms appear – as flowers, vegetables, or readers.  This week, Nitty Gritty Dirt Man has seen a bountiful harvest.

My usual routine in the garden is to take a walk, check on what’s growing, what needs trimming, what needs weeding – that sort of thing.  I keep a similar routine for the blog, where I try to post at least two times a week, usually on Sundays and Wednesdays.  The structure helps keep me focused and organized.

I also check on the stats that WordPress tracks – mostly out of curiosity to gauge what readers seem to like and when their interest peaks and fades. 

That was the case on Monday morning when I checked the stats from Sunday’s Super Bowl post.  There were maybe 50 hits on Sunday night and one on Monday morning.  That same afternoon, I checked in again, but the visitors’ number had surged to well over 200.  Surely, I thought, there had to be a problem.  I had never, ever had that many hits.  Was there a glitch?  A prank?  A virus?

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“And The Versatile Blogger Award Goes To. . .”

Have you ever had one of those senior posting moments?  You know, the kind where you desperately need something to post about but the posting angel is on hiatus — and since it’s winter, you can’t even  get by with a random flower photo? 

Well, that was my state of mind for the past few days — until the posting angel arrived in the form of Jane from Tidy Gardens, who presented me with the “Versatile Blogger Award.”  I’m not sure of the criteria Jane used, since I’ve never considered myself versatile, but I am very humbled and flattered to be on her list of versatile bloggers — although she has also informed me there are rules that I must follow as a recipient of this award. 

But before I get into that, I do owe Jane many thanks.  Her site is one that I return to quite often — usually to bring a smile to my face.  It’s strange to have struck up a friendship of sorts with someone I’ve never met, but I do appreciate her humor (and the fact that she gets mine).  What I especially enjoy about her posts or her comments here, is that when I read her words, I can hear her voice — although, I have never actually heard it.  I encourage everyone to check out her site.  You’ll see what I mean.

Now for the rules.

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