flowers, nature, photography, procrastination, rain, simple things, storms, unintended consequences, weather

How not to garden…

I doubt that I’m the only person who has moved to Florida from ‘up north’, who immediately wanted to celebrate this new tropical life we were going to live by planting tropical plants. Except the clerk at the local nursery broke my bubble when he told me that this isn’t a ‘tropical climate.’  How can it not be tropical, it’s Florida?

He told me this because I told him I wanted to take out the past-their-prime evergreen shrubs that came with this house. The ones you didn’t have to do a single thing to and they just sat there and stayed green. Well, not healthy and thriving, but mostly green. No, I took them out and planted a couple of lovely bougainvillea topiaries, braided trunks with a topknot of beautiful purple flowers.  That it had with killer thorns wasn’t readily apparent.  A cold winter destroyed them down to the soil, and they came back as a shrub, with it’s thorns prominently displayed.  And they aren’t as pretty as they should be since they are under the overhang of the roof and don’t get enough rain, or sunshine. Not the right plant or the right location. But they do produce flowers, and long fronds that you take your life in your hands when you try to tame them. I was at the vet with the cat one day and the vet asked, with a degree of horror, if the cat had caused the scratches I had up my forearms. For the first and only time I was happy to say that I was attacked by the bougainvillea.bougainvillea

Next I selected a charming purple flower called Mexican petunia, and planted it as soon as I got it home. Then I looked it up on the internet and discovered that it’s on Florida’s Most Invasive Species list. I don’t have a green thumb, but I am a ‘green’ gardener, with no experience to ever think of a plant as invasive. So confining that plant to the area I intended to have it has proven to be a challenge. But you can’t kill it, I can attest to that. And it’s very pretty, and still readily available at Lowe’s and Home Depot even though it’s invasive.


I was thinking about hummingbirds when I made my next gardening faux pas. I read that they prefer red, tubular, flowers, and I read the list of suggested flowers but hadn’t bought any yet. Then I saw a neighbor trimming up a shrub that was loaded with lots of red flowers and stopped to talk with her. She had taken some of them from an adjacent empty lot, she said, and they had done very well. But they spread, so she was digging up the ‘pups,’ and she said I was welcome to take some. Never once did I imagine myself digging up pups of my own, but trust me I have.  And have I ever seen a hummingbird? Nope, not a one.

Then there is the dwarf crepe myrtle that I planted in the wrong place.  Just ask the patio guys who had to unload the pavers out front and bring them around back by wheelbarrow.crepemyrtle

So what can you learn from my experience? The short answer to that is to never do what I do.  With the constant rain we’ve had this summer everything has grown and the yard looks like the jungle is taking over, so I have hired someone to see if he can tame it. The problem is that the rain hasn’t stopped long enough for him to come over and check the yard to give me a price, and so it grows and grows.  The last time I had to hire someone to tame the yard they asked when the next time my ‘lawn guy’ was coming.  I told them, “I’m my lawn guy”. I’m not sure but I think they rolled their eyes.jungle

coping, dogs, home, home improvements, life, nature, old dogs new tricks, photography, procrastination, responsibility, simple things, sunrise

Theory vs. Reality…

My husband had joke about theory vs. reality. It was long and involved, and despite hearing it way too many times I both can’t remember the details, and wouldn’t repeat it even if I did. But in real life my theories of how I think things are going to be bump up against reality all too often. Daily, actually. Tuesday was the first of three days off, so I had the luxury of getting my long postponed dental visit behind me, ka-ching, running errands, and going out to dinner with a friend, all while knowing that I still had two days off coming up. So, in theory, if I spent Wednesday doing housework, laundry, clipping Zoe and bathing both dogs, and washing the car, I would still have another day off ‘just for me’. Ha! The reality is that I did most of what I intended to do yesterday, including a sweaty, hair-covered, couple of hours of clipping/bathing dogs, and washing the car. And the end result is that Zoe doesn’t look any different. Really? My theory was that if I bought clippers and kept up the clipping she’d look good all the time. I don’t think she is popular with the groomers with her nervous ways, and she is calm for me. I have watched the groomer run the clippers down her and the hair falls away, and she looks like velvet when they are done. How is it that I run the clippers down her and hair falls away, but she turn out looking all spiky? Must be the clippers, couldn’t possibly be me, right?

Oh well, I was kidding myself about having a day to myself anyhow. Not too long ago the front yard looked like the jungle was about to reclaim it. So I pulled down the vines that were climbing the front, and that’s as far as I’ve gotten. In theory it will be cooler soon and I’ll have nine glorious months of perfect weather and somehow, magically, my house will be perfectly clean all the time, my yard will be perfectly groomed, and so will Zoe. That’s my theory anyhow…

life, old dogs new tricks, photography, procrastination, responsibility, silliness, simple things, Uncategorized


I got a part-time job in self defense. When I was retired without a job I got nothing done at all, if I was home I was sitting right where I’m sitting now. The job gives structure to my week, and doesn’t allow me to endlessly put things off until tomorrow.

I feel like my mind gets a break at work, oddly enough. Instead of trying to decide if redoing the kitchen is worth the money, I concentrate on what I’m doing as if it’s life or death, when in reality I’m packing donuts or icing pastries in the bakery of my local supermarket. It’s much harder work than I expected, on your feet all day, and fast paced so that the work gets done on time. Whatever I might be stressing about in my personal life, or what home improvement I might be debating with myself, is put on hold when I’m at work. And it’s a pleasant thing to look up from your work and notice a customer smile, happy to see that you are working that day. I’ve tried to tell myself that work shouldn’t count as a social life, but in a lot of ways I think it really does.

If only I could work at home at the pace that I work at work. I look to see what needs to packed next, or iced so it can dry while I pack something else, and on and on. Charley once asked me what I do at work ‘to look busy’. I just looked at him and laughed. At home I dither, start one thing and think of something else I need to do, leaving the first thing I started unfinished, and then I decide to do something else entirely. And I’ll drop everything when I hear the ping that tells me someone posted something online. I’ve even been known to walk out in the middle of some chore or another because I decided that getting an ice cream cone sounds like a better idea.

Maybe I just like the dark and quiet of the morning because I can’t see the mess I’ve left behind from the day before, and I still have expectations of all that I’ll accomplish that day. And living alone has it’s advantages in that there are no witnesses, except the dogs. But they don’t care as long as I keep the Milk Bones coming…