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Spring, glorious spring.

Sunday, March 25, 2012
Spring, glorious spring. Don't cha just love it? Can't ya just feel your sap rising? Urgently need to get out and do nothing?

still going 'in the hole' with the bulb digging business

I am still getting a bit of interest with the spider lily bulbs. Advertising on Craig's List with some help from my tech. support team, adding a clip-art photo to make the offer a little more colorful and tempting. I actually got a call on my way to church from a guy just across the river who said his wife wanted to get two dozen, which is kinda surprising, since I have increased the price considerably. I don't think I would pay nearly a buck each for them, but suppose since the price of Every-stinking-thing is going up like crazy, inflation is not unexpected in the Spider Lily bulb business.

I know I made a mistake with the first ones I shipped away, paying 'way more for postage to send to the far side of the state than I charged: but some of the folks who remembered them from long ago wanted so many, I might have made a bit. A couple of people wanted five or eight dozen, and even with foolishly under-charging for mailing, it was likely not a loss, since there was no 'overhead' while the bulbs patiently grew/multiplied sitting around out there underground for twenty years. The price started at $5 (+ $1 postage) in the Market Bulletin, and has gone up to $9 (+$5) on Craig's list. And I think there must be a thousand out there, patiently waiting to be dug and divided...

(I've just been out in the nearly dark planting rescued, bloomed out daffodil bulbs.)

This will add a note of hilarity to the people who remember a story about walking down the sidewalk with relatives in Pensacola many years ago: When I was out digging up two dozen to leave for a 'customer' to pick up Saturday morning, my glasses fell in the hole. I grabbed them up, stuck them in my pocket, and finished the dirty work, counting out bulbs for the man who was going to stop by and get them later. It was a hurried project, I was running late as usual: did not realize until I got back in the house that one of the lens from my glasses was missing. Obviously fell out in the hole?!?! I am sad to report that I did not find it when I went rooting about in the dirt late yesterday afternoon: but where else could it be? I will look again in the bright light of Monday morning... tragedy....

Both my dad and granddad reluctantly told stories on themselves about burying glasses in holes when doing yard work: hope it is not genetic/hereditary? I will be really sad if I have to keep going around squinting, but guess I could get a black patch and say: 'argghhh, matey', and 'ahoy there'!

temptation at the plant show/sale

Back early in the year, when there was so little work to be had at Publix, and I was pondering ways to occupy my time, I began to fill my calendar up with volunteer opportunities. One of which would be going up to Callaway Gardens to be useful. After an 'interview' with a volunteer coordinator, I agreed to donate my time as a worker-bee for the annual plant sale at the Gardens that is happening this weekend. CG requires everyone to go through a day of training to learn more about the history and workings, then you are 'allowed' to pick the job you feel you would most like to commit/donate your time to doing.

A friend who is a fellow Master Gardener, I met through projects at the Columbus Botanical Gardens, was talking about helping with the plant sale when we were doing holiday decorations in early December. She reported that her family was visiting the Fantasy in Lights show on free tickets she would get as a result of donating volunteer hours to Callaway. She also gets a annual pass for gate entrance for a year, plus various and sundry discounts on overpriced merchandise. So I thought.... hmmmm.

And called to get myself signed on.  Had the interview, and said I was available to work the weekend of the plant show. With the understanding that I would take the training class in January. Which I postponed due to some calendar conflict until February. And then had another conflict, so called to put it off till March - and found they don't approve of workers working until after they have been indoctrinated. So I called and promised to appear in class next Tuesday, to get myself thoroughly 'callaway-ized', if they would 'allow' me to donate my time to be a worker for three days straight.... All pretty amusing in retrospect - how I had to grovel to get the volunteer job - and over the weekend of chatting with the hundreds of non-paid worker-bees, now find out that the 'trainer' for volunteer class is being 'let go'/terminated/headed for the unemployment line.

When I checked the weather, I was a little anxious: but the whole thing takes place in the circus tent near the beach pavillion. They have obviously been doing this long enough to be very well organized. It was pretty impressive. And I don't think I have ever seen so many plants in pots condensed into such a small area. I am nearly certain the Callaway people do not fully appreciate the fact that it would not be successful, not even do-able without the hundreds of volunteers to show up faithfully to provide the labor for everything to run smoothly. Though it is likely many of the workers do it for the benefits/perks - that free annual pass is a small price for the thousands of hours of labor they receive... and with the price of everything inside the fence, they are still making a profit.

I had the best intentions of not buying plants: and you know about good intentions? I thought on my second day there, I should have sewed my pockets shut before I left home. I spent nearly $80 on plants, but am pleased that I had the discernment to limit myself to perennials. So my project on Monday will be to start getting things in the ground. After a couple of days of spring rains, now is the time... hope my motivation (and my back!) will hold up long enough to dig holes and get all my new plants settled.

on-going thankfulness

Wednesday, March 14, 2012
When taking a short, afternoon-sized road trip this week, traveling along the by-ways of south Georgia, much of the ride was spent observing sundry changes in the landscape related to seeing spring inching into the fields and farms of my native state. Looking at the many shades of green and beginning of colors that herald the warmer season.

Decidious bare limbs of trees beginning to bud out with rusty red leaves on the tips of twigs. Dogwood trees greening up, showing yellow-turning-to-white blooms; wisteria blooms beginning to look like delicate bunches of lavender grapes, hanging on vines draped through the tree limbs; hillsides covered with trailing vines loaded with yellow, trumpet-shaped blooms of Carolina jasmine. Abandoned homesites with overgrown bushes of bright yellow forsythia, farm ponds with migrating water-fowl, feeding for the next stage of the return flight.

Some of the things I noticed and whispered 'Thank you' on viewing brought an awareness of what I am not, do not have in my life, and have never experienced: hard manual labor, constant anxiety about providing for a family, living in hard-scrabble circumstances, barely making ends meet month-to-month. So I am thankful for the family that raised me, and the benefits provided through the hard work of parents and grandparents, desiring to provide the comforts I enjoyed in my oblivious growing-up years.

I know now that it was a blessing I did not grow up living in hand-to-mouth circumstances, like many of the homesteads I noticed in traveling though some of the poorest counties in the state. I am thankful that my family valued education, and desired to invest resources in providing higher learning. Thankful for having grown up in a small town, but equally thankful I do not live in a place where the nearest groceries are at the end of a fifty mile drive. Thankful for dependable, reliable transportation, and equally thankful I do not live where all the family history of non-functioning vehicles is resting around the house, returning to the earth one rusted-out fender at a time, grown over with weeds, vines, saplings.

Thankful for parents and grandparents people still remember fondly, and think of as people of character, with high standards and unwavering convictions. Thankful for the influence of their daily lives, being the people who would hold me accountable in all the little things, as they knew that the little things are the ones that matter. Those small daily events and activities where families interact, directing and growing a generation of responsible, dependable, accountable youths and molding them into the future.

Happy Anniversary, GSUSA

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

When I got home last night, I read your blog about the Senior Girl Scout whose accomplishments were honored over the weekend. How appropriate that it was done in her home church, presenting her with the pin, sharing the story of her efforts, and giving accolades, as she received the Girl Scout Gold Award. What a sweet story. 
(see: theadventuresofstinkysweet.blogspot.com)

It pleases me so see you so delighted with your employment, finding such pleasure in what you do. It is obvious  you are excited about your work:  thrilled to have a part in encouraging, guiding, supporting these young girls in their work toward their goals, helping them grow into responsible, motivated, capable young adults.

The efforts involved to complete the requirements for the Award are, as you know, considerable: not the least of which is more perseverence than most teens care to invest. What you, and fellow scout employees do, to say  nothing of families and friends who provide the ongoing support to help keep these young people motivated is such a precious gift to the next generation: helping them uncover skills, talents and abilities they did not know were within themselves. Nurturing those seeds that were planted in childhood, in homes as families daily interact, living out their beliefs and teachings, instilling traits and strengths that have been there growing all along, just needing some caring adults to help them uncover. 

As you well know, when these budding young adults reach high school, there are so many other (more appealing) activities occurring in their busy lives, for her to have the motivation,  devotion and support to continue in Scouting is very uncommon.  And to complete the considerable requirements to receive the Gold Award is most commendable with all the other demands on their time.  I expect everyone present,  the whole congregation felt invested, and rewarded to hear of her accomplishment.

I know She is the one who devoted her time to earning the award, but without the continual encouragement and pushing, propping up from adults within her circle of influence, it would not have happened. What an sweet, precious, amazing opportunity to praise her efforts in the presence of the people who have have most loved her all her days.

As you shared her 'Scouting story' on Sunday, you poured out such a blessing on her and the extended family in her church community, showing honor and respect to those people who have been her supporters since her birth, guiding and nurturing her into becoming the young adult she is blossoming into.

You can believe that all the people who were there for that event will never forget that day. What an honor to be a part of it.

And didn't you feel the love?

digging holes, at a loss....

Saturday, March 10, 2012
I have been digging holes - but not to actually plant things in.

If you look at this crazy activity from a certain perspective, it could be considered to be remarkably generous  - but is, in fact, whatever the opposite of 'practical' must be. Not one to tell tales on myself - I will nonetheless confess to foolish behavior. I would like to add the disclaimer that it was unintentional, though admittedly not thoroughly considered.

When out walking around in the 'yard' that is really mostly weedy, wooded area, looking for signs of spring out in the leaf litter where I have planted hundreds of spring bloomers in recent years - I decided to advertise spider lily plants for sale. These are bulb plants that produce bright red blooms in the early fall: commonly known as surprise lilies since you usually forget where you put them in the ground, and they pop out of the mulch, seemingly overnight with unexpected color on tall stalks before the plant begins to put out foliage -giving you a pleasant 'surprise' when the blooms suddenly open up. With delicate petals that spread open to look like the extended legs of a spider. The Latin name is lycoris radiata if you want to google that...

All the hundreds of plants I have came from  responding to advertisements in the GA. Ag. dept. Farmer's Market Bulletin over twenty years ago. I'd see offers for bulbs from people in places like Dewy Rose, Ball Ground and Tallapoosa: some places that were no more than a post office at the time, and might not even exist today. I could envision little weathered, stooped, gritty, hard-working, gray-haired women, in aprons, (maybe even long calico dresses and bonnets!) having spent their entire lives on farms, digging up the bulbs they advertised, squirreling away 'pin money'.

 I probably ordered and planted a hundred or more bulbs twenty or more years ago. And back in the fall, I dug and gave dozens to my daughters,delivered and transplanted them as 'children' of the original bulbs in Atlanta and TN.  I must have mailed off close to two hundred in the past week or so: more generations from the originals that have multiplied undisturbed underground over the years.

The business I transacted with the little hard working women scrabbling on farms many years ago was back in the time when you could mail a letter for pennies, and send a package across the state for a couple of dollars. But I did not factor the cost of getting the produce/product delivered into the advertisement I put in the Market Bulletin. So when people have started sending me their checks  to order a dozen of the bulbs that have multiplied so generously all around my house: I have gone in the hole to ship them.

The first couple of orders were for two dozen, so the cost of the bulbs ($5 each) plus postage ($1) was  not so terribly painful. But when I got orders from Augusta and Savannah from people who remembered them from childhood, but only wanted one dozen: I still had to pay over $6 to mail the box of bulbs. After a couple of trips to the post office where the clerk wanted more than the check was made out for, I raised my price dramatically... or maybe not: changed to $9 for eighteen bulbs, plus more to ship, when I made an 'emergency' call to the Ag. dept office in Atlanta, in hopes that my digging effort would be more than just exercise/therapy. I think putting them in envelopes and not having to pay for shipping a corrugated box might help.But then again, with the way the post office is raising prices, while going bankrupt: maybe not...

I did take a box with five dozen to FedEx to see if that would be better, and they wanted double the price of what the USPS would charge to deliver a box across the state - so there is more gas gone with three trips to get that box on the way to Augusta.

But now that I ponder the whole scenario, I think how seeing those colorful blooms pop up in the fall and say 'surprise' never fails to make me smile. And realize sharing that is not an unreasonable price to pay for passing along the bulbs to people who call from little towns all over the state. Those fellow plant lovers read the Market Bulletin and decide they want a little of that back. So they call to share memories, history of growing up in other places/times across Georgia, and request a delivery of smiles. Cheap at Any Price.