Spring Cleaning — Better Late Than Never



“My name is Allison MacKenzie.  Where I was born, time was told not by the clock or the calendar, but by the seasons.  Summer was carefree contentment.  Autumn was that bittersweet time of regret for moments that had ended and things that were yet undone.  And then winter fell, with a cold mantle of caution and chill, it nipped our noses and our arrogance and made us move closer to the warm stoves of memory and desire.  Spring was promise.  But there was a fifth season, of love.  And only the wise or the lucky ones new where to find it.”

This is the opening monologue from the film Peyton Place.  It’s here because a few weeks ago a reader, Camille, commented on an earlier post entitled Autumn In Peyton Place.  She had been searching for the verse and could I help her.  I popped in the DVD and took some dictation.

But after I read over the words, it occurred to me that if only seasons could be so easy and uncomplicated that their description could fit into a single — albeit melodramatic — paragraph.  If only . . .

Because lately, it seems, seasons are not so neat and tidy.  This spring, for example, has been one of the coolest — make that coldest — and dampest ones that I can remember.  Even this Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial start of summer, had snow falling in upstate New York.

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Margaret & Me & A Cup Of Tea

Margaret Roach Garden

Margaret Roach.  For years it was just a name, one that I had seen in the masthead or the editorial pages of Martha Stewart Living.  Occasionally, it appeared at the bottom of the television as I watched Martha’s show, an identifier of the woman sitting next to the host.

Yes, Margaret Roach was just a name.

When I started this blog, I also learned of the top gardening blog in America, A Way to Garden — and once again, I was staring at that same name: Margaret Roach.  Maybe, I thought, there was a reason her name kept entering my world — and maybe, it was time to discover if there was more to Margaret than a name.

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“And the Liebster Blog Award Goes To . . .”

Liebster-Blog-AwardBlog awards come in all shapes and sizes — but few can bring a smile to my face like the Liebster Award.  It’s a funny — and a fun — word to say.  Go ahead, give it a try.  “Ah, my little Liebster, how are you today?”

See what I mean?  You have to smile when you say it.

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2012 In Review

This post, animation and all, comes courtesy of WordPress — and a good thing, too.  Joe and I arrived home last night after a 21-hour drive from Florida, stayed up even later to watch the ball drop in Times Square, and are now trying to organize our lives for the upcoming work week.  Words are definitely not at the top of the to-do list.  Nap, yes.  Words, no.

So my thanks and gratitude to all of you for making 2012 extra special.  Happy 2013!

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 39,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 9 Film Festivals

Click here to see the complete report.

The Road To Reinvention

Terracotta Sahrds

Lately, this is how I envision my brain: shards of broken terracotta strewn across the potting bench.  Where I once had a clear vision and firm ideas, I now feel a bit scattered and disorganized.  My struggle is to figure out why — why I can’t seem to focus; can’t seem to be motivated; can’t seem to get back to my two posts a week schedule.

My first thought is that I have stumbled into a very bad case of bloggers’ block.  Perhaps I’ve overextended myself — time needed for work and time dedicated to writing seem to be at odds with each other.  Perhaps the freshest ideas have all been used in the first year of this blog — after all, once you write a piece on the joys of raking, how many more autumns can you possibly write the same thing?

Then, just as I try to make sense of all these thoughts and worries, stacking them just so — one piece falls from the pile and I soon find myself once again in the throes of worry.

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The Community That Sandy Built

A community of leaves — perfectly tie-dyed.


It’s a word and a concept that’s been on my mind lately — which is pretty amusing, actually.  I often say the older I get, the more I like to stay in my yard and not deal with people — which is difficult to do, since I’m a school social worker.  In fact, I often joke that I’m an anti-social worker.

The truth, however, is that community is important to me.  I think it’s important to all of us.  As humans, we need to belong, to feel connected — even if only to commiserate about the crazy weather.  (As an aside, I would just like to say that in the past two weeks, my part of the world has endured a hurricane, a nor’easter, snow, and — today — Spring-like temperatures. My heart says, “Go out and start planting.”  My brain says, “Are you crazy?  It’s November!”)

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The Illuminating Blogger Award Goes To . . .

Illuminating.  The dictionary tells me that this has to do with supplying or brightening with light, making understandable, enlightening.  What I have learned in the past year is that there are so many bloggers out there who do the same for me – and to whom I continually return to for illumination.

One of these bloggers is Helene, of Graphicality UK, who nominated this site for the Illuminating Blogger Award.  It’s not enough to say that I’m honored or humbled.  The fact that this came from Helene means so much more, because I would use the same word to define her.  She is absolutely illuminating.

As you know, there are rules to rewards, and the rules here are a little different than other awards.

  1. 1. The nominee should visit the award site (http://foodstoriesblog.com/illuminating-blogger-award/) and leave a comment that they have been nominated and by whom.  (They keep a blogroll of winners, so this is a very important step.)  This will be a check as soon as I click “publish,” I promise.
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The One Lovely Blog Award Goes To . . .

Surprises are all around us – like the Petunia above.  It appeared in a flowerpot that holds a Gerbera Daisy.  You see, I didn’t plant this petunia – at least not this year.  If my memory is correct, that color palette was planted a year or so ago – which means that a seed from that planting remained viable for that length of time, and now – surprise!

That feeling – that thrill of receiving something so unexpected – is what it was like when I was contacted by Sara from Real Life Project to let me know she had nominated me for the One Lovely Blog Award and the Very Inspiring Blogger Award.  Making this nomination extra-special is the fact that Sara is not a garden blogger.  Instead she covers all topics important to new moms, from parenting to crafts, from wellness to recipes.  And no matter what she addresses, Sara’s goal is to share her life and her process of achieving balance – a very impressive task that is handled with great care, humor, and grace.

Since I have previously addressed the Very Inspiring Blogger Award in a previous post, I am going to concentrate on One Lovely Blog.

  1. Thank the nominator and link to his/her site.  Check.
  2. Share seven things about myself.  Give me a few moments to get my randomness in order, please.
  3. Nominate 10 other bloggers, let them know, and then link to their site from your own.  All in good time, since I have an idea on how to address this one.

Seven random things about myself:

  1. I’ve recently learned that I have titanium in my head.  About 15 years ago, I was in a car accident in which my only injury was a fractured skull (that could explain a lot).  I had two surgeries to alleviate pressure, but it never occurred to me that my skull would have to be held in place with some hardware.  Fast forward to a few weeks ago when I started getting sharp pains along the surgery site.  A CAT scan revealed the metal plates and screws.  The doctor says not to worry, but I have diagnosed myself.  Ladies and gentlemen, this may not be a surprise to you (and it certainly wasn’t to Joe), but I have a screw loose.
  2. 2. I have a rotating list of celebrities who I would like to invite over for dinner. Some past guests have been Madonna (but I have too many of those loathsome hydrangeas in my yard), Oprah (I worried that she would monopolize the conversation), and President and Mrs. Obama (but they never responded to my invitation). My newest dinner guest would have to be Adele.
  3. 3. I am addicted to my iPad, especially the game “Farm Up.”  Trust me: taking care of a virtual farm is hard work.
  4. 4. I cannot solve the Rubik’s Cube, which really has nothing to do with the previously mentioned head injury. 
  5. 5. My all-time favorite board game is Risk.  The problem is no one else liked or likes to play that game.  The charm of playing all six colors has worn off over the years.
  6. My favorite Broadway show is Les Miserables – and to say that I am anxiously awaiting the December release of the film would be an understatement.  If they have one of those midnight showings like they’ve done for the Twilight series and Harry Potter, I am so there – wearing a beret, of course.
  7. 7. An ideal Saturday for me when I was younger was watching television.  “Land of the Lost” to start the day.  Then “Soul Train” and “American Bandstand” by lunch time, followed by a mid-afternoon sci-fi classic like The Day of the Triffids.  And to end the night, a “Star Trek” rerun and “Space 1999.”  Is that the Geek Police knocking at my door?

Now for my nominations.  Since the nomination came from a non-gardening blog, I thought I would nominate non-garden as well as garden blogs.  Here are my ten lovely blog nominees:

  1. Photography by Joylene – I know this is a blog promoting a “business,” but when I visit it, it’s more like a blog promoting a life that is filled with talent, sensitivity, passion, and creativity.
  2. Vickie Szumigala Photo Blog – When I started this garden blog, it opened up a world of other blogging genres – especially photography blogs.  And this site is one of the best – and there are lots of amazing photos of flowers, which I personally think make the best subjects.
  3. Breathe Lighter – The title alone is something we all need to learn to do.  Read each of Debra’s post, and you will be greeted with warmth and a hug.
  4. Cathyann’s Studio – I had the pleasure of “meeting” Cathyann when she asked to paint my dog Murphy for a benefit.  Her site offers so much of her work and talent – and I am impressed when anyone can take some tubes of color and freely create with some strokes.
  5. Outtakes on the Outskirts – Join Julie as she adjusts to rural life.  Each post is filled with humor and honesty about her successes and fails – and always with a smile on her face. 
  6. Gardenhood – Somehow, Cheryl is able to translate her sense of peace and tranquility into words and photos on her blog.  It’s the perfect ending to a stress-filled day.
  7. Canoe Corner – Marguerite’s blog is a journey where she documents her adventure as she builds a new life on Canada’s east coast.  It’s mesmerizing to watch the process and the changes that her dedication brings.
  8. Graphicality UK—I adore this site for so many reasons: honesty, creativity, inspiration – and Helene, the woman who is responsible for all that is graphical. 
  9. Cindyricksger — Here is the blog of a fascinating woman who lives on an island in northern Lake Michigan.  There, she lives, works, writes, and creates — with passion and honesty.
  10. Our Garden Journal – Cathy and Steve, the couple behind this blog, fascinate me.  I love their enthusiasm and passion for gardening, life, and people.  Their warmth is evident in every single post.
  11. Joy in the Moments – The title says it all.  Char is the voice behind the blog, and she sees and celebrates the smallest joys that life offers.   A true treasure!

Now, I’m off to notify my nominees.  In the meantime, I encourage you to click on the links and explore these wonderful sites – you just might be surprised, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Who’s Your Daddy? I Am!

It’s Father’s Day weekend here in the States, and I have daddy issues.  You see,  I do not have children of my own, so fatherhood and this holiday are like an exclusive country club from which I have been barred.  This doesn’t go to say that I don’t know what it’s like to care for and nurture something, because I do.  It’s just that my children aren’t – well, they’re not human.

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To Garden Or To Blog, That Is The Question

And what a question it is.  In fact, it’s a question that has been weighing on my mind very much lately.

Since beginning this garden blog, gardening has become an oxymoron of sorts – an entirely new pastime.  What was once a simple task – something that I could take care of with little thought – has now become, well, post material.  Everything is fair game.  Weeding is no longer an act of pulling and discarding.  It’s now an opportunity to write, to inform, to be witty.  It’s a photo op – and how many of you have tried to garden with one hand while holding a camera in the other?

And so my dilemma.  Do blogging and the need for content take away from gardening or does gardening interfere with blogging time?  Does one need to suffer for the good of the other, or can both activities find a balanced and peaceful coexistence?

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