Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Help needed...

The Garfield Park Conservatory in Chicago was heavily damaged this week by hail.  They are looking for help.  Read Mr. Green Thumb's post if you would like to know a bit more or would like to help. 



Wednesday Workday

Don't you love it when a plan comes together?

It's been a difficult spring and summer to get anything done - at least anything personal. The very small company for which I work landed a huge contract that started mid-April and will wind up in early August and has meant lots of 14-hour days for me; bad meals and inattention to Mitchell; and just no time for anything fun. Add the wrist issue and I have not been writing or doing much - not even in the garden.

I did finally manage to complete a project we started in January. You might remember that we put in hard wood floors right after the holidays. Once that was done, we resurfaced our kitchen counters - replacing the dark green formica with a speckled black epoxy surface. I intended to tell you all about it, but never even took the pictures to show the process. this is the only photo I can find of the old counters.

It's a much more modern look and immediately made the walls look ... well, insipid! [Don't think I have ever written that word before!] Here's the new counter.

For months I have dithered about what color to paint the walls to give the room a punch. three trips to the local big box store to get paint samples, days of looking at one-inch square samples and wondering what they would look like all over, many samples discarded and more brought in. Finally, about a month ago we settled on "Ridge View".

My Fourth of July gift to myself was a day to paint. For the first hour I had big doubts about my decision but as it dried and the sun started pouring into the kitchen, I started to smile. What you think?

This is the window corner - always full of light.

And this is the side
where I prep ... and
more than likely dump everything I carry home.

Mitchell had also changed out all the gold-toned knobs for a pewter tone. And finally, we decided that to complete the more sophisticated look, we needed a pendant light. One last trip to the big box and quite a struggle to get all the bolts and nuts and screws and wiring to fit into a tiny little canopy [the electrician is worth every penny you have to pay him!], we are done. It's the room we do the most work in. It might as well be a place that makes us feel good.

One of the joys of a home you love is when ten years later you can make a change and love it even more!

Monday, July 4, 2011

A Lovely Surprise!

After too many days away from the garden, I finally got a chance to roam and visit old friends last night. And, found a new friend, too.

Jane (Small but Charming) and I collaborated last spring and decided that ranunculus will grow in zone 7, so we each ordered an assortment. I planted three dozen bulbs in April or early May, and early on it looked very promising. In the last few weeks, tho, the greenery has started to fall down and dry back. Finally, I only had about three that still looked green and perky. Perky, indeed!

The strategy now is to keep watering, feed them this fall, and mulch well in hope of keeping them warm enough thru the winter. It may be that they were planted too late in the year to come to full bloom this first year and with a little extra TLC will do better next year ... and bloom earlier in the spring, before the heat moves in.

I also got rain lilies [Zephyranthes 'sunrise mix'] and pineapple lily [Ecomis 'Katie'] from the same source. The latter now has lovely scapes, but no sign at all of flower spikes. I think the rain lily may have bloomed a few weeks ago. I had a mystery flower in the general area where I put the rain lilies [note to self: mark new plantings!] Anyone know for sure?

Perhaps my biggest garden failing is that I hate to actually cut the flowers. I love seeing them "out there", but as a result don't get to enjoy them inside. New leaf turned over!

Hope you are enjoying the Fourth!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

The Fourth of Freedom

It's way too easy to push back in the recliner, read a little, watch the tennis tournament and drink a bit of wine this weekend and forget what it's all about.

Unless you actually know someone in the military, we take them too much for granted. And even then, it's too easy to mistake a year in Afghanistan as... say a "few weeks out of town". Don't live near Fayetteville, North Carolina? easy to forget the thousands deployed from there who have left behind wives, children and small businesses that are struggling without the income from the normal population.

As a rule we are pretty uninvolved in the lives of those military men and women who are working in so many places around the world to protect the freedoms we celebrate tomorrow.

In two weeks Mitchell and I will help to celebrate the marriage of Megan and Andy. Three weeks later he will leave for three months in Qutar. He's an Air Force pilot and, altho they have spent a lot of time separated already, she will soon need to learn the new role of military wife in a city she has only visited.

Today, Allison will start the day with only 300 or so wake ups left before her Neil comes home from Afghanistan. If you don't have any friends in the military, you might want to check out her blog - 400 Wake-ups. She talks frankly about what it's like to be left behind and how the day-to-day craziness in Washington affects real, live, flesh and blood soldiers and their families. She's also all about fun, so it's a good read.

The main thing is that we all need to stop every day and remember there are real people all over the world to whom we owe our thanks and our concern. We need to pay more attention to military families and to the soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines who are recovering from their wounds and trying to put their lives (and bodies) back together.

It's too easy to remember for one day each summer as we picnic, listen to the band and shoot off a bottle rocket or two.

We need to do it every day. well ... not the bottle rocket thing!