Life Has Taught This: Always Be Ready For a Challenge

In life and gardening, we must be ready to face a challenge and persevere to overcome and move on.

I will not get into the series of unfortunate events that have been my life thus far, but I have learned to always be ready for a challenge. Challenging times come more regularly for some of us and I am currently under the impression that we are either born lucky, or unlucky.

The unlucky ones face adversity often in whatever form it takes. Non-quitters will face the challenge and do their best to overcome. We persevere until we get it right, or acknowledge that we simply don’t have what it takes to do so.

And move on.

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Gardening is in my blood. Like so many people who simply enjoy digging in the dirt, planting and watching the miracle of plant growth happen, I can’t stay away.  Making a dull yard come to life with plantings is exciting.  It is also a lot of work and costs money.

My current yard is the biggest gardening challenge I have faced. This is one of the only places I have ever lived where I don’t want to go outside and see what is going on in my yard. This makes it hard to plan, and plant, and grow things.

I can picture a nice backyard in my mind. In involves a fence, pool, patio, potted citrus trees and other Florida native species enclosed in my little oasis. In my younger years I would have gladly taken on this challenge. It could have happened a little at a time. I’m not so sure these days.

peaceful tranquil sea view
Backyard Paradise

Trying to be positive in a bad situation means putting on blinders. Be blind to what I don’t like. Focus on what is good. Eat that elephant one bite at a time. Story of my life. The thing is that life runs out. Time runs out. Will I still be trying to get to where I want to be on my dying day?

No matter. The first bite I take will entail garden soil readiness. In March I can plant tomatoes, zucchini (in a fabric bag because of it’s size), beans, peppers and cucumbers. First I need more soil added to the raised bed, and for the fabric pots.

Being prepared for planting is necessary if I want to attempt to grow vegetables.  I’m not thinking about the vegetable stealing raccoons (except to write it here).  They will be a future challenge.

Once that first bite is swallowed, on to the second. This is a good way to face a challenge. Circumstances can seem too overwhelming to move forward unless changes happen a little at a time. Making progress is what keeps us going.

backyard garden scene
My Backyard Garden – 2014 (NH)

Gardeners always face challenges.  I’ve found that yard difficulties are easy to deal with than life difficulties but every problem can be faced the same way.  And it teaches patience.  One year I had a ton of beautiful tomatoes growing in my New Hampshire backyard.  Then blight struck.  I ended up with NONE!  After months of waiting and wondering what I would do with all those beautiful, fresh tomatoes, they rotted before they could be picked.

Often we have no choice but to go with the flow and make the best of it.  Learn from our mistakes and say, “Maybe next year”.   It is disheartening, but we get over it.  Dwelling is not a good thing.  It changes nothing and saps our energy for overcoming the next challenge.  And they keep coming…. stay strong.

(Thanks to the artists and photographers at Pixabay for the images on this post.)

Multi-Color Hydrangea Blooms

I am not familiar with all types of hydrangeas, but I do know that almost all blooms change color at some point. These multi-color hydrangea blooms show how pretty the hydrangea flower can become along the timeline of it’s life.

This first picture is mine.  The blue buds of Endless Summer hydrangeas come out as cream color then eventually turn bright blue, if the soil is acidic enough.  As summer ends, the flowers may turn other colors, like green or pinkish purple.  Eventually they will dry on the stem.
blue hydrangea bud

As a flower fades, or goes by, it can become most beautiful.  The blue petals can turn purple and green.  I am not sure if this is what happened in the picture below, but I’ve seen my own blue hydrangeas fade to the most stunning and unique colors.  Late summer hydrangeas that have turned green are my favorite.
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Late in the growing season – into fall – hydrangeas can dry right on the stem. Dried flowers can be just about as lovely as the fresh blooms.

dried green and purple hydrangea flower
All of the flowers pictured here are of the macrophylla variety, with big, round blooms.
pink bud of the hydrangea
If your soil is more alkaline, mophead hydrangeas can be pink instead of blue.
blue hydrangea with green
The long life of the hydrangea flower makes it a popular choice as a perennial for the landscape. Once it begins to flower, you can enjoy those huge blooms for months.
dark purple hydrangea flowers with some blue
Thanks to Pixabay for most of these pretty floral images.

The Mothers Day Post You May Not Like

mother swan mothers dayWell, here we are, another holiday to celebrate. Mother’s Day is upon us and it falls on a Sunday… oh yes, it always falls on a Sunday. Maybe that is so mothers everywhere can have a day of rest.

Nope, that’s not it.

I have four children, but Mothers Day has never been much different from any other day for me. I used to wish I had a caring husband who would work with the children to make my day special. I wished that for a few years, and then realized wishes don’t come true. Ya think?

I got gifts, and sometimes I got things I actually liked, needed or wanted. Once they were unwrapped, I made dinner. The day went on like any other.

But gifts were never what I really wanted for Mother’s Day. Like many mothers, I simply wanted a day off – a day for me. A day without meals to plan and cook. A day without dealing with the needs of the children. Without housework, walking the dog and feeding the cats. I used to dream of time for me, where I could sit and read a book, or do some drawing. That was the gift I craved. I would have accepted that gift any day of the year.

As I write this, imagining what Mothers everywhere are doing on their special day, the diversity of how they will celebrate is huge.

I can’t help but think of my own mother as well. She died of Alzheimers in 2008 so there will be no celebrating with her. She loved the attention, and believed the day was hers, no matter that her daughters were mothers too.

One year, my husband and I were invited out on a boat with some friends for a Mothers Day celebration. I asked my own mother to babysit and she never let me forget how I ruined her day by asking that.

I’ve been raising children for 40 years and I’m tired. I never got the gift of a caring husband who catered to my needs for a special day. But he’s out of my life, and that is an everyday gift I enjoy. My children are finally all grown, and they will wish me a happy day. That is enough.

Today I will stay off of Facebook and avoid reading the “I’m so blessed” posts where women will go on to brag about their fabulous husband and kids. Pictures will be shared where whole families celebrate all the moms with dinner out together. Oh I know it’s coming. Holidays – any holiday – is the time to show the world what a fantastic life you lead. I wonder if kids and husbands feel pressured to compete with other FaceBook posters?

Imagination is a wonderful thing. It’s how I come up with creations like the swan above.  I have some of those attributes, but not all.  My own mother had even fewer.

Mothers are not perfection, but if we try to be what our children need most, we succeed in giving the world the gift of more good people in it.  Sacrifice is a long-term commitment to carry on creating something we started.  From squealing baby to grown person, the trip is long and exhausting, and for some mothers, it’s a very lonely one.  In the end, I can say I did my mothering to the best of my ability.

Today, I am at peace.

Moving Again, Taking a Time Out

screen-shot-2016-10-13-at-10-32-52-amI began this blog with the hope of sharing my gardening experience, like so many normal people do.  But I am not normal.  Or should I say, my life is not normal.  By this time, I am probably a little off my rocker as well.

After closing on my new home just the other day, (it was delayed because of Hurricane Matthew, which didn’t surprise me a bit) I now have to face moving again.  I am not young.  There is a household of items to move, as well as a storage unit full.  It will be up to me and my two sons to do all the heavy lifting.  On the bright side, this keeps me fit.  I am stronger than the typical sixty-year old woman, for sure.

Recently I counted up the times I had moved in my life and came to the extraordinary number of 14.  I look forward to living in a nice home, and hopefully the last I will ever live in.  It’s not anything fabulous, but it will be comfortable.  Anyone who has moved to a new place knows that it takes time to get settled in, and I hate that I will have to waste more of my life doing that, one more time.

Many – no ALL – of my friends (or, past friends, I should say) are settled in life.  People my age own homes that are paid off.  They are not just now signing up for a 30-year mortgage!  They have fun.  Many of them spend time traveling and visiting their kids the grandkids.  They go to weddings, go out to dinner, have parties, take vacations, and share stories of their fantastic lives on their FaceBook pages.  They live.  They have normal lives.

They live the kind of life I always expected to have in my later years.  Why not expect that?  But, for me, it went the other way.  This is mainly why they are “past friends”.  I have nothing in common with my old friends these days.  And I can’t expect them to understand.  I only visit FaceBook because I have a Store Page there, for my business.  Yes, I will be working until I die.  No retirement and slowing down for me.

I accept my lot in life.  What else can I do?  My posts here have become depressing, even for me, so I apologize.  Soon, I hope to have some photos and info about building raised garden beds.  I plan to have a few on my new property.  That will make me feel more normal.  In the meantime, I will be packing.