What I Did Last Summer (Because I’m Tired of my Garden and Want to Go Back to School)

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It’s been a long, hot summer and although I’m not sick of the heat, I would enjoy some rain and more time to read and think. There’s been a lot going on so let me summarize my summer.

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I’m now ready to feed the masses.

Finally, we have space for a large table in the back garden. That’s what I’ve wanted since the day I moved in here. Getting the gravel done in a hurry was not easy—especially after surgery—but it’s done now and I can move on to cooking. IMG_4084

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Seafood salad, a fried zucchini blossom, and pizza bianca with fig and prosciutto from my Roman Dinner.

There was some effort made on my behalf this summer when it came to planting my planters. I only made it this far, and then I needed help, but being short on funds didn’t make it any easier. Overall, I’m happy with how these turned out. They look even better now and have filled out a great deal.

Fundraiser dinners have been my focus. After my back surgery last year I was left with a bill that was just over $3000. Considering I can barely work, and that I don’t get paid a lot, and my medical expenses are already around $200/month, I needed to come up with some kind of additional income to pay for my bill.

These dinners have been lifesavers. Most of the guests have been strangers, and I never expected that, but a few really good friends have helped me a great deal and I’m deeply grateful. It’s not easy to give of yourself, and giving too much can become a delicate dance in friendship. IMG_3867

I took the lemons and made lemonade with them. While this trumpet lily looks nice in this image, it wasn’t staked and ended up leaning over the fence and looking poorly. I cut it off, stuffed it in a tall vase, and at my first “stranger” dinner it looked great. I suppose as I’ve often learned, the suffering was worth it. IMG_3034

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I’ve taken the time to see friends in their gardens, and I’ve made new friends. This year I’ve tried my hand at Morning Glory ‘Carnevale di Venezia’ and I’ve enjoyed it a lot. Another friend gave me some seedlings for some others and I’m going to see if they’ve still got some life in them. Why not try new plants—even if they’re old and not all that exotic. I’m in this for the plants after all. (The other images are from visits to friends’ gardens. Will need to ask them for IDs later since I’m up late at night writing this right now.)IMG_3017

I miss the artists in my life. Yes, an artist lives here and she built this house from scratch. She has done everything from scratch for decades now. IMG_3214

For many years I’ve been trying to make sense of the 20 years I was so ill and it’s been difficult to heal the wounds and meld the flavors of the sights of sounds of my own experiences with the world around me. IMG_3556

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A whole lot of healing has ensued since summer began and I’m not ashamed to admit I’ve grown a lot as a person. I found meaning and personal direction in everything during the last few months—from the lovely dirt during a garden nerd get together in the outskirts of my home county, to being offered a seedling of an annual another acquaintance and I both saw at an Open Garden that sparked a conversation. I even caught myself lost a bit in thought as I looked on in wonder at a neglected annual from last year thriving in a window box.

This is what we call living. As blood rushes back to a wound to heal, so too has something like blood flowed back into my own life.

You don’t know what it’s like to be living in flight mode until your body goes nuts and your autoimmune system won’t stop. It happens in other ways too that I fear I don’t want to get into but I saw it a lot in the lives and families of the foster kids I used to know. It infects everything in you. After over a decade, yes, maybe even two, you’re not the same person, and honestly, you’re not very comfortable being you. Something has to give though. It has to snap in you. I don’t know when I snapped, but I did and the tension is lessening. This is a slow process—at least for me. IMG_3036

Plant ID has been on the rise again and I’m not that great at it. This is happening now because I fell into a job that I was highly qualified for but I won’t go into details about that right now. Let’s just say that I was the right woman for the job and that’s hilarious considering my qualifications.

But this too was part of my summer.

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And I asked for help. This was new for me. I will continue to ask for help in the future too. I want others to know I will give back to them for helping me, and I hope that they’re compassionate enough to understand that my husband cannot help me to do everything. That’s just not fair and he deserves support too. Sure, I am a lot healthier, but I’ve accepted my own limitations. I’ll always have health problems but I’m not going to let them stop me. Why should I?IMG_3510 From time to time I’ve been eyeballing arrangements. I’ve yet to return to making many of them, but I miss doing so and have though a lot about how to move back into ikebana work. IMG_2996

There have been plants I’ve never noticed in the world I’ve been living in and this old rose at the Estancia is one of them. We suspect it was part of the original homestead but we’re not certain.IMG_3007

I spent time fishing with Dad too while introducing a friend of mine into that world. It’s one that few of my friends know anything about so it’s nice when they can appreciate Dad’s passion for the activity.

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My mother-in-law’s garden has continued to provide food this year and she’s healthier than last year too. We’ve both been very busy but while she’s been harvesting, I’ve been kicking around how to better handle what I have and continue to grow as a person. I don’t just want to live in a pretty garden. My green motives have always run deeper. IMG_3306

BTW, the Garden Blogger Bazaar went swimmingly.

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I mentioned my mother-in-law’s, right?IMG_2865

There was time spent with a newt and you can see him floating there in the pond. Time spent in nature this summer outside of the city has been time well spent. IMG_4100

There were a few arrangements I threw together for the dinners last month. I’ll be making a few more since there are 3 more dinners to go this month. I worked hard in the garden out back to get to this point. IMG_4198And after one of the dinners last month I disappeared to yet another Open Garden. There I was able to let my mind wander as I spoke with friends about my new part-time job and my future plans. There’s nothing set in stone but I’d like to take a class or two while working. I think that one could benefit the other as I move forward. IMG_3777And I must not forget to include LuLu! Here she is with Quincy. He’s still a kitten. Seriously. This is what Maine Coon kittens look like at nearly 10 months. He’s a gigantic kitten, and well LuLu, she’s a tiny terror. IMG_4050There are so many things I’d like to say about her but those can wait.

You see I have a new computer too so I’ll be blogging again soon—very soon. The old laptop was making this impossible but now I’m loaded and ready to go. Just transferred thousands of old photos I never got around to blogging with so I look forward to finally sharing them.

Heck, we’ll have all winter, right? Maybe not if this weather keeps up. I may be too busy watering in December. Ugh!

14 thoughts on “What I Did Last Summer (Because I’m Tired of my Garden and Want to Go Back to School)

  1. Elvis

    Good to see you “back on the air”. I liked this little journey through your summer, with all the gardens fitting in nicely to your narrative. I’m not ready for fall just yet, but I know the feeling: for me, almost more than spring fall has been about new beginnings. Here’s to yours!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wish my new beginning could last just one season but I’m processing so much more than I’d realized when this all began. Glad I’m to the fun part and fall is the season when the air is perfect for me to hike. Hope that’ll be my new beginning soon.

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  2. You’ve had a busy summer! I am about ready for summer to be over, maybe one more week of nice weather, and then the rains can come. Looking forward to seeing your garden at the plant swap.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m so glad you’re feeling better and I hope you continue to heal. I’m looking forward to getting to know you better through your blog and meeting up at gardening events. You struck me as an interesting person right from the start. Not that our situations are at all the same, but I believe I can understand a small part of what you’ve been through. I’ve spent most of the last 3 years in flight mode for various reasons, and I’m still struggling to get my life back in order. You’re off to a good start. We’ll both get there, eventually. Your back garden looks wonderful, so inviting. I love that wood work made by your artist friend. I’m looking forward to fall for planting and hiking. It’s my favorite season.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Evan. I must admit I’m a big ole nerd. Maybe that’s what you found interesting? Hahahahaha. Glad that you can relate because it’s one of those things that not everyone understands and relating to them is often really difficult because, honestly, I’m not really into conversational BS. I think that’s the technical term. So glad you’ll be visiting soon. Wish I was propagating and studying things more but for now I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing to see where it takes me. Will be exciting to see where you land too.

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    • It’s oilcloth! I love that I can buy yards of it and just throw it on the long table. It looks nice too. Can’t wait to get back to Italy next year. This time my visit will be much longer so let me know if you see something I shouldn’t miss. I have no idea yet where I want to go.

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  4. Susan Soto

    I just came across this post – and I just wanted to share that its really touched me. I know we cross paths on the inter webs kinda frequently and I knew about some illness you’ve had… oh and the back the surgery via some of your dinner posts — however I don’t think I knew they were open to the public 🙂 I can totally relate to everything you said – and I really appreciate both the elegant and delicate way you have spoke about your experience. As I read your words I said to myself — “self, you should try writing about your experiences, they seem similar to hers and look how lovely and compassionate – and open – she has been with herself here… perhaps you could give it a try, it might be good for you”.
    And I found myself wanting to know more – about what you’ve been going through and how you deal with it all – it’s very challenging to find a way to speak – with others – about the things you have so eloquently written about.
    All of the things you have done and that are coming your way have been an inspiration to me this year 🙂 And I wanted to offer my assistance to you for your dinners if you ever need or desire some helping hands – or if you find yourself with empty seats 🙂

    Sincerely,
    Susan

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much for your comment! I had to take a nap before responding because I worked a short shift today. Although I have a love/hate relationship with caregiving, years ago I was also a therapeutic foster parent and by working with others, I think I’ve found the words over time to communicate what I need to say but it’s draining. I encourage everyone always to follow their creative needs. If you feel like writing, go for it. Not sure yet about upcoming dinners. I think I really wore myself out this year. Once I get through the holidays, and we decide on our trip to Italy for John’s 50th, I can begin promoting them again.

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