Sunday, June 24, 2007

Watching My Garden Grow

After we returned from Disney World, the weeds in my gardens went absolutely crazy. It was a party in the dirt, I tell you. I spent the better part of the first weekend pulling most of them, using a claw cultivator so vigorously that, over a week later, a rather large blister on my thumb is still healing. In addition, we have centipede grass in the front lawn that appears to have been quite attracted to the weeds. The two intertwined in such great strength that I might as well have been ripping up turf.

In fact, the muscles in my hand were so sore, that when I went to sign my daughter in at summer camp on Monday, the pen fell right out of my hand. My thumb and forefinger refused to work together any longer!

My sister has been sending us daily affirmations and then her thoughts to follow. One day the affirmation was: "We have a choice to plow new ground or let the weeds grow." Her thought was: "Because of weeds' pioneering spirit and heartiness, they are a good metaphor for survival in harsh times. Let's not disparage the weeds." Although I can see her point, I've become quite disenchanted with weeds after my recent experience. As I was ripping out one large clump last weekend, I couldn't help but eject the words "DIE! DIE!" and hold the drooping clump up with a cry victory. Of course, I immediately felt guilty for this. After all, they can't help that their weeds. Poor things are just looking for a new place to call home. So, I try to be a little more gentle with them. Now I say something more along the lines of "Sorry little weed, but this garden is just not the place for you..."

This weekend was the second weekend I've worked on the weeds. I pulled out all the rest of them and applied piles of mulch. In certain areas, I put down a fabric weed barrier beneath the mulch. I trimmed and shaped bushes, used Miracle-Gro and sang to my flowers (I heard that helped.) All of this in 95 degree weather.

I finished at about 3 pm this past Saturday. I popped in a frozen pizza for us (lunch is always so late on days like this) and grabbed a beer.
Then I sat. I gazed at my garden and absorbed. I watched the bumblebees intently collecting pollen from the coneflowers. I watched the stalks of golden yarrow gently swaying like lazy pendulums in the breeze, each to its own time. The butterflies fluttered around the lantana as my sunflower flag was lifted softly to the sky. I closed my eyes and heard the locusts humming in the distance, birds twittering in the rustling pine trees. It was a lovely, satisfying experience. Even as the sweat dried on my skin, dirt caked beneath my tingling fingernails, shoulders and legs exhausted, I was relaxed and blissfully happy.

As I sat and watched and listened, I was reminded of a poem:

I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.

Joyce Kilmer, "Trees" (poem), 1914

Yes, gardens are hard work and require lots of attention. My mom has always been a big gardener. She would send me pictures of her garden, but I didn't really get it until I had my own. After you've dug your fingernails deep in the dirt and poured your energy, sweat and blood into it (yes, I have several thorn scars...), I'm not sure you can really understand the bliss of seeing your flowers and bushes flourish with health. When you watch the bees collect the pollen and butterflies enjoy the nectar of the flowers - when the birds create their nests and rely on the berries of the bushes - what a wonderful blessing! A visual cornucopia of treasured delights. The ultimate reward, the happiest of happy places... a garden of your own!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Disney World

So we finally made the big decision to visit the land of children's dreams, the ultimate theme park, the pinnacle of imagination: Disney World!

It all started out nice and simple. We left earlier than planned, had extra room in the trunk, made pretty good driving time. We arrived in sunny and humid weather. Enjoyed
chilled cocktails on the porch. Then, as the kids splashed in the pool out back, an all-too-familiar cry of pain penetrated the air. Yes, just 2 short hours after we arrived in FL, we found ourselves at the emergency room. My daughter broke her arm!

Interestingly enough, this did not dampen our spirits for the trip. We decorated her sling w
ith Disney trading pins and she got plenty of sympathy from passers by. In fact, one woman said, why are you waiting in line for this ride? Go to guest services for a spe
cial ride pass - after all, it's the land of a million dreams, they'll take care of you. And bless their hearts, they did. The friendly staff gave us a special assistance pass so that Maddy wouldn't have to wait for hours in the heat. Truly a Godsend.

What can I say about Disney World but WOW! Walking down the main street of the Magic Kingdom brought tears to my eyes. We saw
a mama duck with her 7 little ducklings walking down the sidewalk (was that planned!?!), a barbershop quartet serenaded us on the street, a carriage with two beautiful Clydesdale horses clip-clopped right by us, and who can resist the statue of Walt himself holding hands with little Mickey Mouse in front of the infamous castle.

We booked special lunches with the Disney characters - avoided stand
ing in huge lines, enjoyed fabulous food while relaxing in the A/C and got autographs to boot! My daughter led the Winnie-the-Pooh Parade around the dining room of The Crystal Palace and saw all the princesses!

The Tiki Room is still there but "under new management"
with new songs and new birds. The Pirates of the Caribbean is also but now features Captain Jack Sparrow. Believe it or not, my daughter loved the Carousel of Progress, I think the moving theater was what impressed her the most. We also loved the 3-D PhilharMagic theater show. The special effects were great, including the wind in your face, spraying water and glittering jewels that hovered right before your eyes.

Other favorites were
Test Track at Epcot where you're testing a new car, sort of like a crash test dummy. Another is Soarin', where you fly above the earth, past mountains, the ocean, San Francisco and finally right down Main Street Magic Kingdom, up the castle and into the sky with the fireworks!

MGM Studios was hopping with dramatic actresses, directors and clueless policeman characters roaming the streets. The Tower of Terror at the "haunted" Hollywood Hotel is a blast as well as th
e Aerosmith Rockin' Rollercoaster. Both have great concept setups - the hotel has an "you've entered the twilight zone" theme and the rollercoaster whisks you away in a "stretch limo" with a crazy driver.

And of course, we saw the Cirque Du Soliel show "L
a Nouba". Believe it or not, it was the 4,000th show, on the dot. They passed out glow sticks to the audience. When the show was over we all cracked them and spun them in the air. Quite a sight.

Now we are home and my daughter is sporting a bright pink cast that practically glows in the dark like those glow stick
s! The good news is that the break was minor and she gets the cast off in a few days. What a story, what a trip - truly one of dreams... imagined and unimagined!

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Hurray for Hallmark!

After we moved into our new house about 5 years ago, I became obsessed with interior decorating and garden design. I subscribed to several magazines: Mary Engelbreit's Home Companion, Better Homes & Gardens, and Cottage Living to name a few. I was addicted to the Home and Garden Network, Trading Spaces, Designed to Sell, and Divine Design.

But now that my home is pretty much completed on the interior and the garden well on it's way, my interest in that particular area of my life has subsided. I'm now much more interested in living, life stories, and spiritual awakening.

So, I was at the bookstore several months ago and picked up a Hallmark magazine. I had never seen this publication before and wasn't quite sure about it. When I was in high-school, I loved the Hallmark store, but after awhile I felt it was a little too much. Kind of the way I feel about Oprah, a little over the top, but fascinating and intriguing to watch at the same time.

Well, I fell in love with the first issue I read (January-February 2007) and have fallen in love with every issue that followed. One article talked about a woman who adopted 5 children ranging in age from 5 to 15, all of whom suffer from fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. It brought tears to my eyes. Another article talks about getting back in touch with yourself and has bits from professional writers as well as average women who have re-discovered their own spirits.

There are recommendations and reviews on the latest greatest novels, natural recipes for silky hair, baking advice, interior decorating ideas (I still need a little of that...), and inspiring quotes like "Just living is not enough. One must have sunshine, freedom and a little flower." (
Hans Christian Anderson)

The magazine is organized into these great sections: Inspire. Renew. Nest. Connect. Nourish. Now if that's not inspiring enough, I don't know what is. It makes me want to absorb every word!

The tag line for the publication is "The magazine that celebrates your life." Truly. I think it celebrates the lives of us all!