Sunday, June 29, 2014

There's a party going on in my garden, come take peek.

I've been spending more time outside this summer than usual.  I guess it's mostly because my husband is recuperating from ankle surgery and he uses the front porch as his getaway destination; get away from the T.V., get away from the recliner, get away from the four walls confining him to sheer boredom.  If he's outside then I am more likely to be as well.  I've also been out there trying to make my garden look half decent since I didn't do anything to it last year.  I am not a great gardener, but I enjoy seeing things grow.  I did plant some new things this year and to my surprise and satisfaction they are coming along well.

What I lack in gardening skills I make up in finding things to fill the empty spaces.  There was a time when I would see one of those yards full of garden ornaments and cringe.  Now not so much.  I've come to the conclusion that unless I come into a windfall and hire a professional to redo the whole of my outdoors than I'm just going to do whatever makes me happy.  Living ten miles from the nearest nowhere I don't have to worry about homeowners associations or historical societies so I may as well take advantage of my freedom and creativity.  I use the word "creativity" very lightly.

Please allow me to share some of this goodness with you.  If you are one who is faint of heart when it comes to garden ornamentation then please stop reading now and go outside and prune your boxwood and deadhead your impatiens.  Otherwise, you may continue.

I like glass, pure and simple.  My husband has welding equipment and isn't afraid to use it.  We put those two interests together and a bottle tree sprouted one Valentine's Day.  I use leftover bottles as plant markers by propping them on sticks throughout the garden or burying them. It would be senseless to throw out perfectly pretty colored bottles.

Metal art has worked its way into my garden, too.  Here's s sampling of my tin menagerie.

Lately I've tried to be frugal.  I wanted a bird bath but couldn't find one I liked for cheap so I made one with a pretty bowl.  Then I got the idea of a butterfly feeder so I found another pretty bowl and made one of those, too.  Again, pretty colored glass has made its way into my possession. And of course I have to have some sort of moon (of a celestial nature) in the landscape. This pair once glowed in the dark, but that effect wore off quickly.  That's probably why I found them on clearance.
Several years ago we lost ML, our dog of 18 years.  She was special, one of the good ones you only get one in a lifetime.  We buried her in our backyard and I bought a little memorial for her for the sake of my children. When we moved we brought the memorial with us, but it just didn't seem right to set it out without her beneath it.  I came across it a couple of weeks ago, collecting sawdust and cobwebs and decided it was time.  I think I found the perfect place for it cloaked in crinum, and enclosed in a small garden I made of cleome, lantana and blueberry bushes.

The centerpiece of my front garden is a clawfoot tub my sister gave me.  Her husband rescued it from a roadside and meant to put it in their new home.  It didn't fit so it sat in storage.  She gave it to me and I filled it with daylilies. It is overflowing, just like my brother-in-laws generous spirit he shared in his lifetime.    I had one picture ready to go that showcased the dinner-plate sized hibiscus surrounding it, but then this happened and I couldn't resist.

Finally, but not really the last of it, is an old, rusty wheelbarrow I found on the adjoining property we bought about four years ago.  I wheeled it home and tried to grow things in it but it is just too shallow for long-term plants.  Succulents did well, but they have to be replaced every year. Now it is a place to put found things like rocks, shells, and turtle bones.

Oh, there's concrete too, but I'll save that for a later date.  Like I said, I'm not a great gardener, but I try to make my garden great. It may not suit the average taste, but it suits me and mine and that's just fine.

Friday, June 27, 2014


I recently read a book by Amy Tan called Saving Fish from Drowning.  The book is set primarily in Burma and she often mentions nats, spirits commonly worshipped by the Burmese people.  According to the lore nats are guardians of villages, homes, trees, forests, etc.  Believers or otherwise superstitious people erect shrines to nats and leave them offerings such as food to appease them and keep them happy.  An unhappy nat can wreak havoc and cause undue mischief and misery.  A happy nat can bring good fortune to those who make generous offerings.

There has been a proliferation of wildlife on my piece of dirt this spring and summer.  Looking out any window facing my back yard I am likely to see squirrels, rabbits, birds of several feathers, raccoons, opossum, a turkey and deer.  I have to be honest and mention that the sunflower seeds and hummingbird feeders we supply are probably the reason we are seeing so much activity lately, not to mention the additional treats I leave for the raccoons when I clean out the refrigerator and freezer.  Tonight I watched a crow fly away with an entire slice of bread in its mouth, maybe even two slices.

I can’t really compare wildlife to nats other than to say that sometimes now when I go out to the feeding stations with a bucket of seeds or a bowl of cracked eggs or rotting potatoes it is beginning to feel like I am leaving an offering to appease the spirits of the Feathered Ones.  This feeling came over me strongly one day as I was draping cut sections of gold and silver Mardi Gras beads over low pine boughs in hopes that a curious crow would steal them away and I would get to witness the crime.

I am not Burmese or otherwise superstitious so the food I leave at the foot of trees is not an offering to a mischievous spirit, but simply food to attract wildlife for my own selfish observations.  Nor do I practice ancestor worship as do many of the characters in books by Tan, one of my favorite authors.  However, it would be hypocritical of me to say that I do not have offerings of sorts for my beloved ones who have gone before me; the portrait of my grandfather, the photo of the Hungarian garden party that sits on my piano, my grandfather’s wooden chair that first sat watch in my son’s nursery and now is a fixture in my breakfast room, the cobalt blue bottle in my kitchen windowsill that collects all the coins my mother tosses from heaven, the postcard my nephew dictated to me.  And soon to join the collection is a lamp that I’m almost certain once belonged to my sweet Granny.  These trinkets are only bits and pieces leftover from lives that once touched mine in a profound way.  I keep them where I can see them to remind me of the love I have for the souls they represent and to remember that I was not the first, and I will not be the last.  What of me will sit on someone’s piano 100 years from now?

I may not worship my ancestors, nats or even animals for that matter, but I do have a loyal regard to my family, my history.  My devotion is solely to the One Most High, and I try to please Him in everything I do, even hanging Mardi Gras beads on pine boughs. Though I am nowhere near perfect I think the closest thing to earthly perfection would be a crow adorning itself with plastic gold.  I think even God would be amused.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Missing it this year

This is not a tulip either.

Dearest Cousins,

I am so sad to miss our reunion this year, but Lee has needed my help and I felt it was best I stay close to home these few days.  I’ve been thinking about the past weekends we’ve shared.  My first was the weekend where there was much discussion of the Renuzit can design, you remember, the one with a questionable picture of a tulip.  With all my experience with flowers I must say I’ve never seen a tulip that looked quite like that.

We’ve also shared the years of lounging in Jo-Jo’s pool on Davis Bayou, swimming in the Gulf on the shores of Alabama, a synchronized swimming show for the security guard, sinking floors at the fish camp, enjoying Nicci’s new home on the river and the Mordica fish camp, both old and new, on a different river, and back porch sitting at Jo-Jo’s ghostly home in Pascagoula.  

There was the year Sarita first joined us and she got sick and we sent her back to the camp home while we continued to gamble.  Then we gave her reason to question our sanity as she lay nauseous on the couch while we talked about ghosts and our alien encounters, chip implants included.  And despite all that she came back another year, then another until now she’s a regular.  I’m sorry she’s missing this year, too, especially because of the reasons.

I’m joining you all in spirit today by making chicken salad for lunch and there’s pimento cheese in the refrigerator.  Is Jo-Jo’s kitchen counter covered with snacks as usual?  Are both refrigerators and freezers packed to capacity?  Are there enough chocolate chip cookies to feed an army?  Do you have enough pistachios?  Oh, and make sure Rob takes the right food from the refrigerator this time if he’s taking leftovers for supper.

Here’s where I’m really missing ya’ll this weekend.  I had a dream that needs interpreting.  I dreamed there were three diamonds that were the best and most expensive in the world.  Someone I knew had one, maybe it was Mama, and a little baby girl I was adopting had ownership to another.  The catch was though, that whoever adopted her relinquished their rights to the diamond.  I guess that was so no one would adopt her for the wrong reason.  I gave up the rights to the diamond because I thought it was more important that she grow up in a family, not with a diamond.  However, I somehow had possession of the certificate of authenticity of the diamond.  The scene changed and I was walking across a boulevard after a parade and in the median I found an ugly rubber/plastic ring.  It was the kind that covers your whole finger and it was off-white with gold stripes.  In the center there was a diamond-like stone encased in a glass pocket that was set in the ring.  I picked it up and put it on. It dawned on me that this was the diamond that rightfully belonged to the little girl I adopted.  Lee told me to go to a jewelry store and see if the jeweler noticed it.  So, I went into the store and asked to see something in the display case and flashed the ring under the lights so that he would notice it.  He did and made a fuss over it so I knew I had the real deal, and I also had the paperwork.  I came out with the little girl and the diamond too.  I know what I think it means, but what do you all think it means?

Good luck tonight and I hope all of you win big.  Eat some shrimps for me and Granny.  And most important, watch out for the little people and men with paper bags, if you know what I mean.