January 2017: Amateur Bot-Ann-Ist is Back!!!

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img_1108It seems only fair to write a post after a week-long snow event. This will be short though—much like my patience after being snowed-in for so long. Last year I felt that I needed a break but I didn’t know why and now I feel better about a return to regular posts. So much has happened. It is sad to think that there were many things I didn’t post about but I will try to add them when I can in the future.

img_3249This fall we lost Maurice the Cat. He was an old guy who sadly passed away from cancer on his jaw. Luckily he’s been immortalized because the back garden was named after him so we will forever think of him. He spent many summers in Campiello Maurizio sunbathing on his favorite bench beneath the living willow arbor. He will be sorely missed. img_4266Last spring this little guy made his appearance. Felix has been quite a handful ever since he arrived here. He was abandoned by his mom the day he was born and sadly outlived his sister. With no mama cat and no siblings to play with I have had to do a lot of work. We received him when he was about 3 weeks old and I will forever be grateful to his foster mama.

He will certainly be showing up here a bit more now although both he and LuLu are primarily indoor cats since we lost Quincy just over a year ago to an urban coyote. They do get to go outside but both are doing well with supervised trips.

Felix is an alleycat of the highest degree and there is NEVER a dull moment when he’s around. Never have I owned a cat who enjoyed knocking over garbage cans and breaking glass so much. Lucky for him he’s a love bug. We look forward to those moments. He is a tiny terror, but he was also very sweet to Maurice in his final days. He’s not all bad. img_5674

At the end of 2016, thanks to my underground dinners, I was finally able to pay off the debt incurred by my back surgery several years ago. In 2017 the goal is to work on paying down the debt owed to my ex-husband from the divorce. If you’re in the Portland area and are interested in attending, please find the page somewhere here on my blog and add your name to the list. That’s the best way to find out what I’m up to and what menus will be coming up next. img_8126The other big news in 2016 was my first official job in the horticulture industry. It’s something I’ve longed to do for years and thanks to my friend and mentor Sean Hogan (of Cistus Design Nursery) it happened. I’m only a part-time employee, and this works well because of my health limitations, but the best part is that I’m a “Seedstress”. Only Sean could manufacture a name that great.

In 2017 it would be wonderful to be working more and more in the horticulture field but I’m not yet sure how much I can handle physically. Luckily, my health has been fairly stable since I started new treatments, and I guess that’s another reason I haven’t been blogging. I’ve been living my life and have been having a wonderful time getting up and around and developing and strengthening friendships. I was more active in 2016 than I’ve been in many years. It was great! img_9818Clearly I’m doing just fine! Obviously! So send me some new clothes. The ones I’ve been wearing are old (tight budget) but I DID get a new hat. (Roars with laugher.)

Ok folks, I hope someone is still out there reading this blog! See you again very soon. Can’t wait to update the world on all of the dead plants that we’ll be seeing in the next few months thanks to this weather we’ve been having. We only ended up with about a foot of snow here at our house.

Brrrrrrrrrr.

Purge, Edit, and Delete

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Right now I should be outside moving more of the unit of rich, warm, and lovely compost mulch I ordered, but instead, I’m indoors recovering from moving a lot of it on Wednesday. Cars can technically move around it so I am not terribly ashamed I’m hogging a parking spot in the street.

It’s been a few months since I’ve taken on such physical work in the garden. It didn’t take long before it was clear why.

Luckily, I had some anabolic steroids to take for my uncommon swelling issues. They’ve helped.

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Working so hard on Wednesday made me realize why the garden has gotten so wild. It’s been a frustrating time for me because I love plants, I really love to garden, and yet I just don’t do it.

Just working out there briefly led to a whole long list of physical issues. I won’t go into detail, but let’s just say that by the end of the day, various parts of my body were swollen, covered in rashes, and were peeling where the skin had dried out. I had no idea how much damage gloves could do to my knuckles. I’d never seen such an epic purple rash all the way across my abdomen. That’s when you know you look swollen.

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Unknown rose. We’d thought it was a ‘Dublin Bay’ but now I’m not so sure.

The garden looks like it does because I’m afraid of the pain. After a day of it, I remember that now. I guess when I was at my worst, it didn’t hurt as much looking at the spectrum of what I was experiencing but now that I’m living nearly pain free, I see things differently.

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The asparagus that we didn’t eat and overgrown chard. Can’t wait to get to this area this weekend.

My husband has committed to helping me more but he’s not a gardener and he has very little experience with the tasks so I will need more patience. I also need to continue to purge, edit, and delete.

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The potting area where I have no room to pot anything up right now.

These parts of the garden have been shown off before and I am doing it again. Even in their overgrown state, I see them as beautiful.

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Some of the seeds I’ve been able to plant this year. I cannot believe how much junk I’ve crammed into this space. Must. Clean. Up.

All of these little corners and spots are safe and fun to me. I’m still really enjoying seeing the garden as it reemerges. Everything I’m doing now is easing the anxiety of the pain gardening can cause, but it’s still really difficult to accept. I’ve become old before my time and I don’t like it. Now I need to find the balance between all of the things I want to have in my life. I also need to embrace and care carefully for my health concerns.

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Working to convert this area into a gravel path and seating area under the tree. Little by little. We’re getting there.

The garden has plans and I am 100% committed to holding a few fundraiser dinners out back in the garden this summer. It’s all a lot of work but it’s how I’ve always wanted to use the back garden.

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The walkway I wish people would use to enter the garden by walking along the north side of the house.

Ripping plants out is the most difficult thing for me. I should practice doing so more carefully. I’d wanted to divide and sell more of it but I just don’t have the energy to do it all. Potting things up really hurts my wrists and fingers too. My fingers were so stiff yesterday with such swollen joints. Luckily the caregiving client I spent time with is incredibly understanding.

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This Rhododendron falconer is one of my favorite plants.

The garden is helping me again, but this time it’s therapeutic in a different way. As I transition once again—to building a life where I’m able to use my mind more again for work and my body less—I hope that I can continue to build the garden into the refuge I need for it to be.

Oh how I want to work from home again but first I must purge, edit, and delete.