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free to a good home?

Friday, April 27, 2012
I am still trying to give away those huge azaleas that have possibly turned into kudzu out in front of the house. They were huge stumps when they came on the pick-up truck from south GA about twenty-five years ago, and despite complete and thorough neglect have survived remarkably well - so much that if I cannot find someone who wants to come and dig to haul away, they face the fate of being 'rounded-up'. I hate to kill 'em, but don't know what else to do...

I have tried Craig's List, bargain column in the classfieds of the newspaper, Plants and Oddities column in Ga. Dept of Agriculture's state-wide publication Farmer's Market Bulletin. Reading that eye-catching first word 'Free' is so tempting... but when people come and look at the size of the digging project, most say....'uhhh - I will come back' while looking me straight in the eye and telling a bald-faced lie. My goodness, people: they are free! The only equirement is that they would come prepared to clean up after theirselves: not unreasonable for adults, is it? Clean up your own mess? Backfill your own holes? Put your own dirty dishes in the washer? Pick up your own dirty sox? I might have given away three in all this time.

Part of the problem is all the tree roots that have grown up, intertwined with azalea bushes to make them so difficult to get up, even though the actual roots from the azaleas are very shallow. And I know they are seriously entangled - but honestly people: Free does not = easy.  If you need to go talk to your friend the plumber or construction guy to find a little back-hoe/Bobcat, just let me know. But don't even start with that business about 'uhhh - I will be here next week....'

I have actually dug up several of the smaller ones myself, and put out by the street with limbs, tree-trimmings for the city trash truck to haul off. And do not want to be the cause of all those bushes demise - but don't know what else to do - so I am cutting them down and painting brush killer on the fresh stumps to try to prevent them from regrowth. They get so big, and then the branches flop over and take root, get covered up with falling leaves and spread. The new 'babies' come up from below ground, under many years accumulated leaf mulch - sneaking around getting away from their mother. Even killing them with Round-up is a slow process...that I will get started on as soon as I get motivated.

I've had a teenager from church who is willing to do yard work to raise money for summer beach retreat come a couple of afternoons to help. But she is such a light-weight she is even more amusing than I when she tries to dig a hole in the rock-hard red clay that is all around the house. She gives it her best shot, but jumping up and  down on that shovel on the impenetrable dry clay is very frustrating, as well as hot, hard work. We put out some Japanese Holly ferns in a very shady place by the bedroom windows this week. I have mulched (and gotten thoroughly chewed up by fire ants that were nesting in the mulch pile) and will try to keep watered to insure success.

Part of the relocation project involves moving some smaller pixie-sized azaleas away from the house, extending the new bed across the front. So that requires new holes in the concrete-like clay. I have to laugh at myself every afternoon when I go out with my hose to water all the transplants in the new bed - and soak the bricks I have placed where the azaleas will be. Hope no one is out in the shrubbery observing me watering my bricks: even though the goal is to soak the clay well enough to be able to dig it out and replace with good (expensive) imported dirt to give the transplants a good start. I am sure it would be hilarious to passers-by to notice me trying to grow a crop of bricks!

working at a paying job...

Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Spent two long tiring days last week at Publix. I had kinda forgot about 'prom season'. Being years past the chaos (masked as anticipatory excitement) of participating as a vouyer when daughters were of that age, it's not often thought about. Add that to the fact that for a while, early in the year, I rarely thought of myself as gainfully employed at all, due to not being scheduled to work for several weeks running: I had planned other things into my life and calendar.

But 'Plan A' for this past weekend did  not pan out. So I made myself available to work in the Floral Shoppe. Which reportedly did about $1500 worth of flowers for teenagers to fling around at the dance. That's a lot of wee little sweet-heart-sized roses worn on a lot of little elastic wrist-bands with a lot of sparkly, frou-frou dresses to a lot of different proms on a Saturday night.

The whole time I was trotting from the front of the store in the Floral Shoppe to the back produce cooler to retrieve completed work as customers arrived for pick-up, I was thinking: wish I had a pedometer. The poor weary footses felt like they walked twenty miles when I finally clocked out. But I have dropped two on the tile floor in the bathroom, and refuse to invest in another one to break.

After all those weeks of 'no work', and practically forgetting about employment, it seems to be pretty steady: a couple of days each week. That should keep me in gas money so I can run around all over town and up and down the state on the days I am not punching the clock!

finishing up - but not really...

I think I have pretty much finished re-arranging all the plants in the bed that got started over a year ago across the front of the house. Yesterday was a digging day. Put in two different types of red-blooming perennial salvia: one is the delicious smelling pineapple variety that has been growing in pots for several months awaiting re-location from the north side of the house. The other is a long blooming smaller one called  'hot lips' that repeatedly surprises with a return from 'the great beyond' every spring. These two will both get a medium height, and are located in a space between short stuff along the front edge (daisies and low growing ground cover). In the back closer to the wall are purple blooming butterfly bush and a couple of azaleas that were growing elsewhere: a hot pink color that will look good  when they bloom next spring, strageically placed against the washed out grey of the house. I hope to dig some medium height buck-eyes that have bright red spikey blooms in spring to go in the in-between space of short vs tall - but maybe not.

With spreading out the bales of pinestraw that have been sitting out in the yard for months, it is mostly done. There will be a soaker hose that will coil around through it all (poor man's version of customized irrigation!) and cover with a layer of straw to mulch. Hopefully meandering out to turn on the soaker hose for a couple of hours every few days will keep it all alive.

I will find some gerbera daisies to put in the little square planter to the right of the front door, and still pondering what to put in the larger L-shaped one that backs up in the corner and is mostly shady. It gets blistering  summer sun in early afternoons. How to figure out what goes there is a quandry: heavy shade from the roof overhang, but hot, hot, hot until mid-afternoon.

My goal is to get everything I can out of pots and in the ground: next is japanese holly ferns, hostas, some stuff that came from the Callaway Gardens sale in a moment of weakness: Solomon's Seal that will do well with either of those things that like shade.

Still trying to give away ('Free to a good home' on Craig's List) hugely overgrown azaleas and forsythia, that I am getting closer and closer to spraying with the brush killer. And doing some bushwhacking to add to the huge pile of shrubs that sits up by the driveway awaiting city trash truck pick-up. I have a teenager from church who came Monday afternoon (making money to go on summer retreat to beach), and is coming back today after school to help - but 'help' is debatable. I gave her loppers and a jar of full strength brush killer to eliminate an unwanted overgrown azalea yesterday. But not sure that she actually painted the stumps as she cut, so think that project only marginally successful. She came to do hard yard work in flip-flops. I told her to come in digging shoes today. If she does a sorry job, I fear I am still obligated to pay for her time....?

As I drag with my shovel around the yard, I continue to dig up clumps of spider lily bulbs. Got an order in the mail yesterday from a man up in Dahlonega from the advertisement in the Market Bulletin. Want some bulbs?


Thursday, April 19, 2012
Lots of growing things that were planted years ago have somehow transformed  from desireables into kudzu while I was being inattentive. I thought I wanted English ivy, and even though my mom warned me that I did not, it got started anyway: it takes several applications of Round-up to get it under control. And as I am digging out there, getting past years of leaf mulch, I see the vines still in place, so I don't know if it is actually in it's death throes, or just incubating like something in a cheezy B movie, waiting for unsupecting victims to stroll by.

I also have rampant forysthia, that even though it is advertised on Craig's List for $3 for a bare-rooted plant, I have been telling anyone I encounter that I will not only Give it to them, but I will Dig for them, and Deliver. Probably due to guilt over the fact that if it does not find a good caring home, it will suffer the same fate as the ivy. When I accepted the forysthia as a gift, I did not know it also turns into kudzu: spreading like the old-fashioned formosa azlaea. When the branches get tall enough to droop over, they will take root after they hit the ground, and spread, drooping and rooting, drooping and rooting into a huge unmanageable clump. Then all sorts of other seedlings, sneaky volunteers will find their way into the tangle, and other stuff comes up in the middle where it takes on a life of its' own (more alien life-forms!)

Then there are those fifty-year-old azaleas I have been trying to give away for years: advertising on Craig's List, GA Dept. of Ag. Market Bulleting, local classifieds. Everyone gets fired up when they see 'FREE!', then come by and look, saying: 'uuuhhhh, I'll come back next week...' and never do when they see how big these things are. Honestly, it would take either a backhoe or several strong-backed teenagers to get them out of the ground. Not that they are difficult to dig, as they are very shallow rooted, but have been there so long, out under the trees, that all the tree roots are snugly nestled in with the azaleas, and reluctant to release them to anyone who comes along.

I've been out there, pulling the volunteers, sawing the mother plant down to a nub, painting with full strength brush killer to try to stop them from coming back... inching along on my backside in the dirt, rooting them out one at the time. So if you know anyone who wants FREE! forsythia, or some ginormous azaleas (with the qualifier that they have to bring dirt to fill the holes), please send them my way....

planting monster tomatoes

For several years, the buyers who make decisions about plants Publix will receive have been contracting to with the growers for Huge tomato plants, growing in one gallon buckets: already so large they come shipped with stakes to hold them upright. The greenhouse workers put three plants in each pot, and obviously have their sprinkler system set up to feed them some sort of industrial strength fertilizer around the clock. Maybe some of that growth hormone the baseball players get in so much trouble about that congress feels compelled to question them about their personal habits.

I told Paul he should just slowly drive by the 'front porch' at the store and cast his gaze on the enormous tomato plants sitting out by the parking lot. I did not expect he would come in and ask how many of them I wanted: especially since I did not actually want any. I would be perfectly content not planting the first one - but he bought two of the big ones, and several of the smaller, more reasonable size. I knew he was really asking how many holes I was willing to dig, and how many plants I would agree to nurture over the next few months. His commitment, after paying $13 each for the two pots, consists of asking if it is time to get the mayo. out to spread on the bread. And honestly- it won't be long, since both pots had tomatoes weighing down the vines that were beginning to change color.

I hope the transplant shock will not cause them to loose the nearly-full-grown fruit that was on the plants when they were stacked on pallets to ship from the grower, as they would have had the vines falling on the sidewalk when they came off the delivery truck. If they survive, it won't be not long until he will be needing that loaf of bread and jar of mayonnaise. We've had a little rain in the past couple of days, so hopefully his plants will provide enough red, ripe, juicy fruit to drip off his chin for months to come.

The little ones (I picked out) wee small, in starter pots, are in the ground as well. Several years ago, I decided to plant tomatoes along the chain link fence, so I could just tie them up to the fence as they grow, get leggy, and out of control. All the dirt here is hard, red, tenacious clay, so I had to dig a trench along the fence line and replace all that clay with good rich hummus/compost I 'borrowed' from the garden, to make it worth planting in. When I got ready to plant the little ones, I put in more healthy soil, along with time-release fertilizer, and a shake of lime, then laid the little ones down in the trench, covered with good dirt and hope they will be producing after the big ones peter out.

I will be watering tomatoes, while stocking up on the Hellman's and light bread.

sewing my pockets shut

Saturday, April 14, 2012
When I was a volunteer for three days up in Harris County at the plant sale, after the first day, I discovered myself so lacking in will-power it was horrifying. I know all those vendors with box trucks from four states, as well as all those hundreds and hundreds of plants the Callaway Gardens workers kept trucking in from the greenhouses were there for sale, to be taken home, planted, nurtured and enjoyed. And with the crowds we saw every day, feel it was a successful event for every merchant there under the Big Top tent.

But I kept seeing things I wanted, desired, with no thought of where it would get planted in my yard, or what made me think that I needed to adopt anything else that would need on-going attention. I told several people my desire for beautiful bloomers (deliberately restricting myself to only drooling over perennials - refusing to look at tempermental annuals) made me think of that Jimmy Carter interview before he was elected president, when asked if he was guilty of sin, readily confessed to Lust in His Heart. I had  lots of lust. And came home with more plants all three days I went up there to donate my time. It got to the point that I thought if 'paying customers' don't actually walk in, everyone would have probably made a profit on all the purchases made by the hundreds of volunteers who were all over the area assisting the paid employees making the event run smoothly with their donated time and skills. They sure cleaned out My pockets.

I told my carpool buddies on the second day, as we were making the 45 minute drive back up to Pine Mountain from Columbus, that I had considered sewing my pockets shut to keep me from looking at more plants (with lust in  my heart) thinking 'that would look so good in my flower beds!' But I didn't, and think I have finally gotten all those beautiful bloomers planted. And watering like crazy - often twice a day, with hopes of refreshing rains to come.

The thing is: every time I go out to dig a hole, I find something else I think wants to be re-located - either to the other side of the house, or possibly wants to go on a ride to Decatur, or might be happier if it lived in Chattanooga. So, just like trying to get the interior of the house cleaned up: how you get distracted from the original task (draining the swamp?) with so many little other things that pop up like Whack-a-mole, it's all still a work in progress, constant re-arranging. If it is not re-located here, being moved around the yard, its going into pots to share, hoping the recipients will be welcoming!

looping through FL and GA

Another whirl-wind has passed through north Florida and south GA: it was not particularly news-worthy so you did not hear about it in the weather report. There was not a warning of funnel clouds come across the bottom of your television at six o'clock. No 'take cover!' alerts needed: it was only me in my little 47 m.p.g. Toyota traveling down highway 27 for a visit.

I went to see one of my favorite 'bad influences' in Chattahoochee. But sadly, amusedly discovered that there is no need for me to be influenced when it comes to buying plants that I impulsively purchase without any inkling of where it might get planted. And there are many opportunities as you travel the by-ways along Georgia's west coast. So I made several detours to peruse garden shops, nurseries, hometown hardware stores with a truckload of spring bloomers, hanging baskets,  flats of vegetable starts for backyard/bucket plantings. Since I was happily drinking caffeine and had to stop four times on the three hour trip south, it was amazing how conveniently I was able to suss out the places all over southwest Georgia where the plant-lovers were in evidence.

Most folks (and everyone  else who ends up with impulse buys) would Never think of going to the grocery store to buy a plant. But (from personal experience) there are lots of people who impulsively do just that. (Occasionally that someone is me - but I seem to put on a higher resistance level when dress in my green work shirt and black apron.) But the prettiest thing I saw on my trip, sitting on the sidewalk in front of a grocery, was a little hanging basket of lavender and white blooms (Bacopa). It looked like something that the hummingbirds and butterflies would find attractive that I thought it a good choice for people who love to plant and have created a mini-sanctuary in their yard, inviting wee pollinators and feathered friends to visit.

Now about those plant nurseries I was lured into: I have not planted that stuff yet... but have been out there with my gloves, shovel, rooting around, re-arranging on a daily basis. Soaking my shoes, socks and therefore feet with the hose as I diligently try to keep it all watered and successfully transplanted. Creating mud in places that have become bone dry due to lack of rains. There are places around the edges where I have put so much mulch over the years when I put my shovel in the ground there is good dirt instead of stone-hard dull orange/red clay and the earth is surprisingly damp enough to sustain life. So as I have experimented, practiced my therapeutic digging skills, watched some thrive and some vanish as they have been planted in prime or less-thad-desirable locations, it has been a process. Learning to think about what the plant naturally prefers: the circumstances that will make it happy, the environment where it will grow, be productive, where it was created/designed to live. Just like us: they all need water.

The people in FL are good: nursing aging poodles. (I have a pretty good idea that Petey and Wendy rule the roost.) We went to two more nurseries after lunch, one of which was on the west side of the Appalaichicola River, so  if I had been farther north I would have been in Alabama, making me think I could change my title to 'three state marathon'. I had been lobbying for a tour of Donaldsonville for a couple of years, so we drove up to GA, and back through the extreme southwest corner after we ate in Mariana. Subtly lead astray/lured into a little local nursery, that is obviously struggling to stay afloat, I bought japanese holly ferns. With great plans for the perfect location..... but have already re-located in my mind's eye: from the shady back of the house to the blistering sun west/front.

Won't get that done this week: going downtown today as a volunteer at a local Girl Scout event. It will be chaotic, and hopefully somewhat beneficial to little girls dressed in brown and green. Needless to say we will be singing tiresome campfire songs, and doing cheesy camp crafts: my assignment is wrapping colorful yarn around popsicle/craft sticks to create: Ta-da! God's eye!

Flat Stanley comes to visit...

Saturday, April 7, 2012
A friend who as granddaughters learning to read and write was invited to have an 'Adventure' over spring break with Flat Stanley. Stanley is a epynomous boy who has been on many world wide adventures over the years as a result of being small and flat enough to travel between the pages of a book, folded up in a pocket, carried in a purse/wallet. The original book was written in the 60's and though the inventor/author is deceased, there have been a number of follow up stories published over the years. Sort of like the little Travelocity mascot: you never know where he will turn up next.

When my Christmas gift of lady-bugs arrived early this week, they went to the Botanical Gardens to be released, late in the afternoon as instructed, when it was nearly dark, to give them a chance to acclimate and find food/water overnight. I asked the friend (retired elementary school teacher) who has been keeping Stanley company if she would go and observe - thinking that S. is the only person who might be as amused as I by the idea of freeing a hundreds of ready-to-fly ladybugs.

When I went by to pick her up on the way to the Gardens for the Big (non)Event, she had her camera and Stanley so he could participate and she could document the release to share with Allie when Stanley is mailed back to recount his adventures. It was nearly too dark to see, so the actual 'freeing' was mostly anti-climatic. But Stanley was there, and there are photos as proof. Having lady-bugs, harmless as they are, and advantageous as they might be to controlling garden pests - crawling up your arm will still give you the creeping willies.

Stanley was such a pleasant guy, mild-mannered  and cooperative that I invited him to come and have a sleepover. That too, was pretty much a non-event. We just did the usual getting-ready-for-bed routine: saying good night to the cat sitting on the ladder, brushing teeth, putting on pj's, slipping under the covers. And got up in the morning to have coffee, brush teeth, get dressed, say hello to the cat sitting on the ladder, go off to work... all well documented with photos S. will print and make a book for Allie to have when she goes back to school and can tell about Stanley's adventures.

He is much more portable than a gnome. I have seen letters to the editor in local/regional magazines where people will go exotic places and have their photos taken holding up the cover on ocean cruises, the Great Wall, camel rides, glaciers calving, jungle excursions. I am sure some grandmother has documented Stanley traveling to all those unusual locales as well.... providing amusement for grandchildren: their prime occupation.

plant relocation, part III

Thursday, April 5, 2012
I continue to make my bed: working out there amongst the birds and the bees, butterflies when I have time to squeeze in some of the most excellent Hole-Digging Therapy around all the other busy-ness. It's coming along... the spring blooming daisies I moved last week from elsewhere (having migrated from the edge of the woods out into the grass, where they will get mowed over on a regular basis) are budding out. In spite of agressive behavior on my part when they were roughly shoveled out of their comfort, snatched up and hauled across the lawn and forced into a new environment, they look ready to pop open, lifting their smiling faces sun-ward.

Got a big hole dug late yesterday and stirred in some enriched, lush, nutritious black potting soil to plant some lily corns that came from Quitman. I dug them last week, crammed in a trash bag and brought with the idea of figuring out place to put them in the new bed. It may take a couple of years for the agapanthus to bloom, but looking forward to results.  There are a number of other things that are growing in the little spaces around here between grass and trees that have been requsted/invited to relocate from south GA over the years. Some of which I have dug and shared, sent farther north to be transplanted in Decatur and Chatty. So this 'relocation' project has gotten bigger and  more involved than originally planned.

The next thing to re-arrange around here: will be some perennial salvia/sage that has been successfully growing and blooming for several years over on the north side of the yard... thinking about how  bright and cheery, colorful the red blooms will be in contrast to the neutral gray siding on the front of the house.Then some taller butterfly bush that will bloom in graceful dark purple arcs when it recovers from the shock of relocation.Do you see a pattern here? Do you think the hummers and b'flies will be swarming at My house? Oh, yesssss. They will be here, falling in love, and getting married, starting families, settling down, making homes and enjoying puttering around in their slippers and robes in their retirement years....

I have a couple of concrete planters that might go out there in the bed, with something that will drape over the sides - maybe some of that stuff from the Callaway Gardens plant sale. I bought this flat, dark green, perennial when the greenhouse workers described it as a good ground cover, that would spread out and become 'mat-like', covering an area of at least two feet square, with low blooms. Commonly called 'self-heal', I envisioned it to look like ajuga when it flowers. Then after planting, when I 'Googled' it - found it related to Mint: they recommend it be planted in a bottomless pot for control (to keep it from turning into kudzu or English ivy?) So that little baby is potentially going into a container/pot to keep it under control. Can't have things out there acting up and misbehaving just because it's all be put in good, nutritious, enriched, healthy dirt.

All the strategy is based on size, color, mature height, behavior (agressiveness in spreading as a ground cover). Funny how in one place something can be considered an 'excellent ground cover' and in another be fought with a vengance as an invasive undesirable: like all this English ivy that gets a periodic dose of industrial strength weed-killer  If you want some ajuga (spreading out into the grass where it gets trampled and mowed - which might explain why it keeps heading north at such a rapid pace, in an effort to bust out), place your order now!

So.... looking down the road at how it will appear when the transplants are settled and actually start to grow. With trying to get out there and water every day (when it does not rain) and sometimes being able to do it early and late, everything that has been re-arranged looks good thus far - but it is all at risk in the blistering early afternoon sun, especially planted adjacent to the concrete apron of the driveway. It's taking shape: I was surprised to discover three different types of daisies out there, that have been re-arranged to intermittently edge the length of the bed. They will bloom at three different seasons... is it obvious there is a daisy fan living here?

(long-distance) re-location, Inc.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012
The process of digging and moving, relocating plants into a new enviornment continues. This time they have been traveling much greater distances than around the corner of the house or across the yard. I should have charged them mileage, or at least had them chip in for gas money.

When I got home from Publix on Sunday afternoon, the only remaining shovel was put into service. Digging up forsythia: do you want any? If I cannot give it away, I will probably start spraying it with Round-up when I get after the creeping, invasive ivy again next week. Plus a number of spring-blooming daisy plants, and lots of little 'starts' of spreading, but comparatively mild-mannered ajuga plants to take to Decatur and get in the ground.

Then there was the box of daffodil bulbs I had purchased at Callaway. The gardening/landscaping team there had dug up hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of spring bloomers, put them in crates to sell along with the hundreds and etc., of pots of annuals and perrenials that had been growing in the greenhouses awaiting the annual plant sale. Those huge bulbs (most with family members attached, having gotten big enough to multiply, in need of division) were  twenty cents apiece - and I came home with $5 worth... which, by the time, you consider all the babies that were clumped together, probably came to nearly 100 when separated. This means digging at least fifty holes to keep all the family members in proximity so they will bloom in profusion next spring.

Which I did: digging and digging and digging to make all those bulbs happy... but by the time I got all that digging done, I was too bushed to plant all those happy-ing little families in the holes. I hope some one else can get out there today and get them back in the dark, dank, welcoming earth so they can get a good start toward being glorious in 2013. Before the backyard canines enjoy using them as fetch toys, since the bulbs look remarkably like any number of dirty tennis balls, casually left strewn across the mulch.

We got all the freshly dug forsythia plants put back in the ground. And re-planted the perennial daisies that will spread and provide smiling faces every spring in the flower bed in the front, where passers-by will be greeted as they bloom. And lots of little sprigs of ajuga went into holes I chopped into the hard, indifferent clay, so hopefully might take root and begin to provide some cover for the bare earth. I loosened, enriched the earth around the ajuga with potting soil and osmocote, to give it a good start, and think all those little runners that were desperate to peg down and reproduce will be successful.

Wanted to get out of town before all those other two million folks left work headed for the 'burbs, so I left it all to someone else to keep watered, with loving care and optimism.

Did some more planting and re-arranging when I got home - putting out some ground cover that I hope will survive and spread in the future. And digging up some perennial salvia to put in pots, to generously feed, with the thought that it will rapidly grow and be replanted in that bed across the front of the house. The goal is to make it look good/attractive in photos. So when the time comes, it will be eye-candy for potential movers-in when we can get to the point of putting out a 'for sale' sign...and begin to travel, living like turtles, wearing our only change of clothing... and probably moving at that speed as well!

crazy-making road trip...

Sunday, April 1, 2012
It's not the smartest thing I have ever done: but it seemed like a good idea at the time. After not seeing any space on my calendar where it would be possible to make an overnight trip to south GA (have not been since mid-January) and feeling the need to go... I decided to take complete leave of my senses and do it in one day. This foolish thought from the person who deliberately decided months, if not years, ago that attempting to make the six hour drive in one day was excessive and unusual punishment, especially when self-inflicted. Not particularly willing to admit to the possibility that age is a factor, but it seems to take me several days to get over doing something that exhausting.

It is not even the craziest trip: I once drove to Savannah/Tybee, south to Quitman and back to Columbus in one day. I probably left Georgia's west coast before daylight (a four hour drive from west to the east coast), and did not get back home to fall into bed until about 11:00. And it was years ago when I had much more tolerance for 'candle burning' than now. Once the end of the adventure was in sight, I was ready to get it over with - which is the best explanation I can come up with for driving about fourteen hours in one day.

Sadly, I  report the fact that 'old people don't sleep good' (in spite of a variety of OTC drugs purporting to improve that woeful situation.) I try not to be surprised when, after going to bed at 10 pm, wide-eyed awake-ness occurs at 2:13, with me thinking 'it is time to get up and get busy'. Then turn over and look at the green digital numbers to see it has only been a couple of hours since switching off the bedside light.

I did set the alarm clock for 4:00, so I could get my ducks in a row and get in the road by 5:00. But I woke up at 3:00, lying there unable to turn my brain off. So after thirty minutes thinking about all the things I  needed to do before I could get going - I got up and started 'doing'. I left home about 4:30, and had an uneventful trip driving in the dark.

I really do enjoy seeing the sky begin to color up, and the trees starting to take shape on the horizon out past the fields and pastures, looming out of the dark. It is such a neat thing to see the world begin to wake up, as the sun rises and the sky, then landscape slowly lightens, takes on color and form out of the darkness. And there is no place like south Georgia in the spring.

It was a good day, I saw some people I really wanted to visit, and did actually get a wee bit of yard work done (weed pulling and spraying), before driving another three hours to get back home. I think it only took me two days to fully recover... and I am ready to go again!

Oh.... did I say I got a speeding ticket on the way back? #%@&

plant relocation, Inc.

Something about spring, sap rising, weather warming, things blooming, birds singing, grass-greening, and a long history of hole-digging-therapy inspired me to get started on that empty spot across the front of my house. We have lived in this location for over thirty years... and I have yet to plant anything in the space between the house and the concrete apron of the driveway. For years, I assumed if I was patient, grass would eventually grow to fill it in an attractive carpet. Wrong.(The moral to that story is that when you neglect your lawn: you get a neglected lawn. Which is actually o.k with me as I see no reason to put out fertilizer on the grass when all it really does is cause work, as the resulting growth means you have to mow it more often.)

About a year ago, after months and months of pondering, I spent some money having several truck loads of dirt moved onto the space that was hard, impervious, non-nutritious red clay. I did not realize it at the time, but see now that what I was doing was creating a 'raised bed'. It is so difficult for anything of consequence to be successful in what was left after the contractor scraped off all the topsoil before starting to build - it takes lots of amending, encouragement, busted shovels (I have three that are so broken as to be un-usable), occasional swearing, sweat to get desire-ables to grow. So the topsoil that we added, mounded up across that 8 x 25 foot space is actually what I have been planting in.

I pondered for all this time, since last spring, after covering the dirt with pine straw, what would be best to put in the new 'bed' that would be essentially care-free. I have always been of the mindset that 'I dug the hole, and put the plant in the ground. That's my contribution. So Mr. Plant: you are on your own'. (This theory does not apply to tomato plants that I have uselessly watered, nourished, attended, talked-to, cared for over many summers with only marginal success). And finally concluded the things that are growing elsewhere around here are obviously going to continue to survive with minimal attention.

Instead of investing in nursery plants, or some expert who would come up with a plan for planting that I would feel compelled to follow due to expense, I decided to just relocate all the hardy survivors that are already living here in the hard, indifferent red clay. I have enriched the topsoil with organic stuff, vermiculite, osmocote to feed new root systems, and moved lots of things that seemed to thrive on neglect to strategically planned holes along the driveway. I'd thought abut the 'Nothing But Natives' route, but they are so expensive when bought as nursery stock, and not always successful to transplant from pots into natural environment. Spending the money to buy something that died would make me... sad? frustrated? annoyed? broke?

So I decided on very 'local' perennials. Tough, hardy, proven bloomers, reliable, and cheap! Timing has been great, with good rains in the past couple of days to make all the transplants happy. There are some more things I will rearrange in the next few days, and hope to get it done before Easter. But I am down to my last shovel and hope that it will hold out until I can get the big things dug up and settled into new locations. Discovering that Wally-world, Ace Hardware, Tractor Supply, local independents only have shovels with no sharp edge. So we can assume that the Chinese who make and ship them are thinking: we might hurt ourselves with sharp objects? I am excessively annoyed at the idea of spending $30 on a shovel, then devoting hours and elbow grease to sharpening it with a file just to make it actually useable.

I'm pretty impressed .. it's looking good. I have bales of fresh pine straw I will put out when all the planting is done, to finish it off. Looking forward to seeing what happens when all those things that seem to thrive on neglect will do when they get a little attention/affection and decent dirt to grow in.

making plans to 'move on'

We had talked about the possibility of moving when we spent too much on having our house renovated. And now it's time.

I've been thinking about relocating all this time since we had the painting done two years ago. Having to move every little thing as the painting progressed from room to room, emptying closets, was the perfect inspiration for letting lots of un-used, un-wanted, excess stuff go: and perfect timing due to a fund-raising yard sale the youth group had a church. But there is still lots of flotsam and jetsam in our lives that we have no use for and need to part with.

So we are planning to seriously pare down and downsize. It is a process, but I plan to get the house 'market-able' (really looking forward to opening closet doors and seeing: Nothing!). Then we will buy a railroad car and travel. You remember those old movies? The one that comes to my mind is the Wild, Wild West series with the guys who were undercover government agents in the late 1800's. That's the way to travel! I am looking forward to seeing the countryside from a different point of view.

There was some talk upon retirement over ten years ago by the guy who (conspicious conusmer that he is) loved the idea of buying an enormous, gas-guzzling home on wheels and traveling. Having owned a huge RV in a previous life, he thought it the perfect way to travel. The idea of having a kitchen follow one around on vacation has never appealed to me. And I was not prepared to be the one who would drive that semi-trailer sized, unwieldy box in an emergency. With someone else driving, and tagging along behind a diesel engine that tows our home any place we want to go: it sounds like the perfect plan. Like being the 'host' family at a campground without all the aggravating problems of irate customers, sticky children, barking dogs, blaring music, dirt, bugs.

Our portable home will have all the conveniences. Like traveling on a tramp steamer (which has always had a lot of appeal to someone who as a teen wanted to run away and  join the circus), but we don't have to learn a lot of different languages, be concerned about Montezuma's revenge, or worry about passports.We are accepting applications for bunk space. Want to go?

Happy April First....