Already March

Already Spring is here. The lawn mowers have been brought out of storage and are humming throughout the neighborhood. Brown yards and fields are now green, red bud trees are blooming with their pink blossoms, and dogwood trees are poised for their white outburst. Eager gardeners already swarm the nurseries for tender plants they hope don’t succumb to a freeze before summer. I pull weeds, trim off dead stalks from old lantana and hydrangea bushes. Yes, I know it’s not the right time to trim hydrangea bushes, but mine become such monsters that I have to. Besides, I haven’t seen them bloom for several years. They have overstayed their welcome, I’m afraid.

So time marches on. It’s been two months since Jimmy passed away, and I’m doing okay, I think. I’ve kept myself busy with things like writing thank you notes, talking to friends and family, taking care of grandkids, and keeping house. I even went to Costa Rica for a week, courtesy of my son and his wife. The change of scenery, the beach, the ocean. . .all were balm to a battered soul.

Me on the Pacific Ocean beach in Costa Rica

Even after the memorial service, which turned out almost perfect in my opinion, I still feel in limbo. Unsettled. Unsure. Unprepared. I’m alone in this house, on this property. I alone am responsible for its upkeep, its repair. I am a widow. I make all the decisions now. I am a widow.

Spring speaks of new beginnings. So it does. Am I ready? “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13

Ready or not, here I come. No hide and seek here. I’m all in.

What about you? Is spring a new beginning for you?



My Love/Hate Relationship with Spring

Ah, spring.  I would bet thousands of poems have been written extolling the virtues of spring, the beautiful flowers, budding trees, warmer temperatures, singing birds, and frisky wildlife.  Who doesn’t enjoy all those things?

Unfortunately, here in East Texas, spring brings some unpleasantness with it as well.  Yes, I know, you people up north get snow into the summer.  And when I looked at the weather in Silverton, Colorado just now–because I love that town–they are under a winter weather advisory with 60% chance of snow.

Here?  Right now we have 74% humidity, an expected high of 85 degrees, and a 20 to 45% chance of thunderstorms.  Two weeks ago the area just west of me experienced four tornadoes which spread havoc across fifty miles.  You may have heard something in the news about the EF4 tornado that hit Canton, Texas.  The tornado missed the First Monday Trade Days grounds or there would have been many more casualties than there were.  Four people were killed that day.

But the weather isn’t the worst thing about spring.  Seasonal allergies top my list of dreaded things in spring.  At one point several years ago, my suffering reached such a severe level that I was ready to undergo allergy testing with all those needles and possibly have to give myself shots.  And I hate needles!  But my wise doctor prescribed three medications that changed my life:  Advair, Singulair, and Astelin.  Now I only take Flonase (generic) as needed, and an occasional Chlortab.

So the allergy part of my relationship with spring has improved.  But oh, those stickers.  Every May the ground produces a pretty little green plant with a nasty seed containing a poison thorn on one end.  We never had them before the 80’s, and I don’t know how they invaded East Texas, but you can get about 40 of the thorns in the bottom of your foot if you step on a good patch of them.  Not fun.  As kids we ran barefoot everywhere.  My children and grandchildren will never know that kind of bliss.

Then there are the wasps, bumblebees, and snakes.  These guys love warmer weather.  The other day my husband spotted a three-foot rat snake stretched across the front yard, probably in search of sunlight and food.  A smaller rat snake resides in his workshop, often stretched across one of the rafters waiting for a tasty mouse or rat.  I was riding on a golf cart with my daughter-in-law and grandson and we spotted a rat snake sticking his head out of the ground like a periscope, which totally blew her mind and surprised me.  I’ve never seen one do that, and I have lived here most of my life.

Wasps love to build nests under the eaves of the house and carport, so we are constantly spraying those while trying not to get stung.  Wasps seem to have a bad temper, and I have been stung many times, having grown up in the country.  It ain’t fun, let me tell you.

There you have it:  my love/hate relationship with spring.  I love it when the weather is perfect–about 55 at night and 75 during the day, when the thunderstorms don’t produce tornadoes, when the grass grows thick and green without thorns, and when the birds and bees sing and buzz without stinging.  I love the azaleas and hydrangeas and daffodils that bloom in my garden, and I love the wild Indian paintbrush, red clover, and black-eyed susans that grow in the fields and roadsides.

How do you like your spring?


home decor Junkin' and Thriftin'

Dogwoods = Spring

As I was driving to meet my sister Sharon for a day of thrift shopping, I searched for a blooming dogwood tree that was close enough to the road so that I could reach it if I stopped for a closer look.

Okay, I confess.  I’ve been wanting a piece of dogwood for my home, to put in a vase and enjoy until the blooms fade.  You have to be careful how you go about this, though.

You can’t just climb a fence and help yourself to branches from a tree.  Someone owns that tree on the other side of the fence, and well, here in Texas, you might have a dog come after you, or worse, get shot for trespassing.
(But that rarely happens any more.)

I saw the tree about halfway to my destination this morning and made a mental note of its location so I could take a look at it on my return trip.

We had a good day thrifting (I might share my finds later), and on my way home I remembered to find that tree.  Sure enough, there it was, so I pulled over and grabbed my phone to snap some pictures before breaking off a piece.

Wouldn’t you know it, all of a sudden there was enough traffic for an interstate highway.  I’m not sure if I was breaking any law by taking a piece of a branch hanging over into the public right-of-way, but I didn’t want to offend any tree huggers who might be passing by.

So I just snapped away.  Suddenly one of the cars turned around in the road and came roaring onto the side of the road behind my car.  I didn’t know what to think.  Should I feel threatened, or was this person wanting to take pictures, too?

It turned out to be a friendly older gentleman who informed me that if I wanted to see a pretty dogwood in full bloom I should take the next right turn, drive down two miles past the country store and behold the huge dogwood on the right.  How sweet for him to take the time to let me know!

I thanked him and took him up on the suggestion.  I took the next right, drove past the country store, and there it was in all its glory:  the prettiest dogwood I have seen so far this year.
I thought I would share it with you here.

And yes, I did break off a piece of one of the low-hanging branches.  Just a piece!  It didn’t hurt the tree much at all, and I have a lovely milk bottle vase that shows it off quite well.

What do you think?

By the way, the dogwood tree is supposedly the tree chosen by the Romans to crucify Jesus upon.  Read the Legend of the Dogwood Tree here.

Happy Spring, y’all!

Junkin' and Thriftin' Life

Teacher Tuesday: Evidence of New Life

This week’s journal challenge from Folk Magazine asks writers to reflect upon the evidence of new life we saw on last week’s nature walk, and to describe new beginnings evident in our lives.
Spring is a wonderful season of new beginnings.  Everywhere you look you see flowers bursting off their stems, birds happily singing as they find their mates and build nests, trees budding and breaking out with new leaves.  
With spring comes new hope and courage for new beginnings.  Gardeners buy and set out plants in hopes of bountiful flowers and vegetables. Housewives start spring cleaning (well, some do, anyway!).  Men wash and detail cars and boats and get their lawn mowers ready.  Schoolchildren get spring fever, anxious for summer vacation.  
My own life has been full of new beginnings.  Last May I retired from my teaching career, planned and carried out my daughter’s wedding, started our “empty nest” with my husband, and then after Christmas I opened an antique booth and began “junkin,'” looking for vintage and antique items to sell in my booth.  So a new way of life has begun for me, staying home, working on crafts, and going on short trips to shop and replenish my booth.
New beginnings aren’t just for the spring season, though.  And new beginnings are not exclusive to newlyweds or retirees.  Everyone who wakes up each morning with breath in his or her body is given an opportunity for a new beginning.  
How will you take advantage of yours?

FOLK Magazine 2013 Journal Challenge: Mary, Mary, quite contrary, DOES your garden grow?

This week’s journal challenge is tough.  What do I intend to plant in my garden–what flowers, vegetables, herbs?  Research them and find out what grows best in my area. . .
Yeah, right.  What grows in my “garden” this year will be what I have already planted and what I will buy in pots.  Being a busy mom and schoolteacher throughout most of my adult life so far has left me little time and/or patience for gardening.  Now that I’m retired, I guess folks would expect me to join the local garden club and make my yard a candidate for “Yard of the Month.”  Sorry, guess again!

I do have a garden of sorts, though.  It is one flowerbed that spans the front length of my house and was planted with azaleas that come back every year, hopefully.  At least they usually do.  Last year I planted a hydrangea bush that never bloomed, but I have big hopes for this year.  It was a sprout from my mother’s bush, and she has glorious hydrangeas every year.  I have managed to kill the last two bushes she gave me, but this one has hung on through the summer and winter, so maybe it will survive and bloom this spring!

My azaleas in 2010
Another view of my azaleas in 2010
I had just added the edging and mulch.  It doesn’t look quite so neat any more!
On the high end of my porch is a huge lantana which takes over with its tiny yellow blooms. I also have lantana around my mailbox at the road (yes, road, not street) and another one in the corner of my backyard.
The only flowers that survive in my backyard because of my dogs are those I place around my deck in pots.  But I made a barrier around my lantana with old bicycle rims (actually my mom did the work while I was recovering from surgery last spring), and it has been effective against canine anointing so far!
(post about that lantana here)
That’s about it.  I will make a couple of trips to a nursery to buy my usual red geraniums in pots to add color to my front porch and back deck, and then I will buy some bedding flowers to place in pots around the deck. Then I plan to water those babies even when the temperatures are hot enough to fry an egg on asphalt. I feel an obligation to try to keep them alive after I spend hard-earned money getting them.  Plus, I can’t be upstaged by my mother next door, which will happen anyway. . .
I haven’t mentioned vegetables or herbs.  If I feel adventurous I might try growing tomatoes in a pot.  Last year a pumpkin vine started in my flowerbed but even with watering it didn’t make it.  As for herbs, Mom’s rosemary bush is plenty big to share if I can remember to go pinch off some when I cook.
That’s me, Ace Gardener.  Don’t feel sorry for me.  I’ll be soaking up the a/c frying my eggs in a skillet while the real gardeners are trying to get the dirt off their sweaty arms.
And I didn’t even mention my allergies. . .