Several months ago, when it was still winter, I signed up for a day-long felting workshop at my local yarn shop. Not knit-first-then-felt (as in bags and slippers), but felting with roving. "Wet felting" (or sculpting with wet fiber) in the morning, and "dry felting" (or needle felting) in the afternoon.
Seemed like a great idea at the time.
But, as Saturday approached - and the weather was perfectly-suited to a lovely day in the garden - I really regretted having signed up.
But . . .
once I got there, I had a lot of fun.
Good company . . .
a bit of a mess . . .
interesting equipment. . .
and the chance to learn a new skill -- and create something surprising!
I especially enjoyed the afternoon session. I have always wanted to try needle felting -- but have never taken the plunge. I'll admit to being more than a little intimidated.
But what fun . . . to take this . . .
and poke at it with a needle (or 4) . . . to end up with this!
Eventually, this little guy emerged from my fiber pile . . .
Now HE was completely unexpected!
It was tough to give up a Saturday - spending the day inside with fiber instead of outside with plants. But - SURPRISE! I loved learning new things and discovering this whole new creative "stream."
When we moved into our house, 10 years ago, there were many, many (many) trees in our yard. Most of them I could identify . . . but one of them. . . I could not.
It looked like a cherry tree.
But a GIANT cherry tree.
Cherry-looking leaves. Cherry-looking bark.
But no blossoms! And no cherries!
So, it just became a big Mystery Tree. Right in the middle of my backyard.
Every once in a while, a big limb would come down. Tom had to do a lot of pruning to keep the branches off the roof. It was not really much to look at -- kind of misshapen and all. But it provided nice shade, and was not a high-maintenance tree at all.
Until last year!
Last year, for some weird reason probably known only to tree experts, the cherry tree blossomed in the spring. And then . . . cherries. LOTS and LOTS of cherries.
Late last summer, I had cherries EVERYwhere. We tracked them through the house. We tracked them on the carpets. My patio was covered with purple juices and purple bird poop. The birds had a field day, sure. But. . .the cherries dropped into my pond. The water turned purple. The fish and the frogs died*. It was a mess.
When I would tell people that the tree had never produced fruit in the 9 years we'd been at the house (trust me -- I'd remember!), they'd just kind of look at me like I was nuts. But tree people tell me that a diseased/dying tree might have a "last hurrah" and try to reproduce like crazy before it's last gasp. I think that's what my tree was doing -- trying to create a new generation of black cherry trees.
Anyway. I couldn't have a mess like that again. So, like George Washington, I cut down that cherry tree! (Actually, I didn't do it. But I had it cut down about a month ago.)
I hate cutting down a tree. . . but this one was, suddenly, a problem!
Now, I have new problems. Like . . . a lot less shade in my backyard. (I had the tree guy leave a sizeable stump. I'm going to do something garden-y with it. Although I'm not quite sure what yet.)
My biggest problem now, though . . . is this . . .
I have millions and millions (and millions) of cherry trees sprouting up everywhere in my yard and gardens! My garden beds are loaded with tiny black cherry trees!
Fortunately, they are easy to pull. But it is a never-ending task this year -- and one that will keep me busy all season long.
Because. . .
It's the pits!
* Black cherry pits contain cyanide. The fruit is safe to eat; the pits are not. My pond was LOADED with cherry pits. My fish and my frogs, sadly, didn't make it.
Sunshine. 75º F with a light breeze. Wildflower meadows. Woodland creatures - at a respectful distance. Perfect fried chicken. Frolicking.
But, at least for this gal, the reality never matches the picture in my head.
MY picnics have never really lived up to their billing!
Wasps. Wind. Seagulls. Brownie-melting heat and humidity. Bickering children. Sticky everything. Wasps. (Did I mention wasps?)
Once a squirrel ATE through the corner of my lovely picnic basket. While we frolicked.
(Calgon. . . take me away . . . )
So when Carole emailed this week's Ten on Tuesday topic, I just laughed. Because I don't DO picnics anymore. (But I definitely want to go on a picnic with Carole. Because she knows how to do it. And . . . brownies!)
If anyone does mention "picnic" in relation to "me," though, I bring three things:
Each spring, my best garden pal Sandie and I hop in her Prius and head to one of our favorite greenhouses in West Michigan.
An annual pilgrimmage to . . .
WW Greenhouse is located in Hudsonville -- a little town tucked halfway between Grand Rapids and Holland in West Michigan. I first discovered this greenhouse in 1988 . . . when Tom and I bought our first house . . . about a mile from this very spot. Of course, the greenhouse was quite small then. Really, just a little flower stand. My kids remember my pulling them through the little greenhouse in a wagon while I shopped for plants!
Now. . . it's HUGE!
Flowers stretched for acres and acres!
The aisles are looooong! (That's Sandie, way back there!) And there are no wagons anymore. Now, there are double and triple tiered carts! (Sandie's cart actually looked more like a hospital gurney.) All the better for selecting a garden of plants.
WW has most everything . . . annuals, perennials, native plants, wildflowers, herbs, vegetables, water gardening. (No trees and shrubs, though.) And they provide loads of inspiration. (They do a great job of mixing unusual plant combinations; maybe the best I've ever seen.)
We have a great time every year at WW. We load up our gurneys carts . . . and we laugh a lot!
And, in the end, we cram plants into every nook and cranny of Sandie's Prius (I am totally impressed at how many plants a Prius can hold!!!). . .
and head back home.
Where we spend the next several days planting. (And planting. And planting!)
There it is. Tucked in along the fence we share. (Where they can't even see it!)
They probably don't even notice how it blooms.
Because, really, it's not located in a prime spot for them -- there on the side of the house they never use. There on the side with hardly any windows.
Besides, the lilac, on their side, is crowded out with no place to shine.
But on my side?
It is just spills over the fence! Hanging there. Packed with blooms and smelling incredible.
I can see it from my kitchen. And my living room. And my patio. It looks like . . . part of MY garden.
So I pretend it's mine.
I even planned for it when I put together the design for my garden bed along the fence there. Just planned for it to be blooming in May, and worked to make sure I'd be able to take advantage of it's wonderfulness.
I covet my neighbor's lilac.
(I wonder if they'd notice if I cut some blooms to bring inside for a bouquet?)
The premise is simple: Once each quarter, women get together for a one-hour meeting in a convenient downtown location (with a bar; natch!). They learn about 3 local nonprofit organizations, cast votes, and then . . . each writes a $100 check to the winning organization.
It's all about pooling resources to make a difference for organizations - and, ultimately, people - in our community. It's about . . . caring.
The three women who dreamed up Women Who Care Kalamazoo hoped they could convince 100 women to join their effort.
Last night (the second meeting), there were 190 women in the room!
Gathering . . .
socializing . . .
listening intently . . .
to heartfelt presentations about good works.
And, at the end of the evening, one of those organizations walked away with $19,000 in funding!
What a great way to spend an evening after work. Friends. Philanthropy. Wine. Doing Good.
What better topic . . . following Mother's Day . . . than to remember our Ten Favorite TV Moms!
I have a bit of a beef with the whole TV Moms thing. Because . . . I think TV Moms get short shrift, generally. They always seem to be in the background. Lurking. Unsatisfied. Herding their kids. Or sorting things out for their kids. Doing Mom-Things. Occasionally showing their wisdom. But, mostly . . . just being kind of . . . well . . . character-less.
And we KNOW that's not the case!
So. With that in mind, here are my favorite, long-suffering TV Moms:
Edith Bunker. Her ditz-i-ness was really just a ruse -- for the wisdom and common sense deep within her soul! (All in the Family)
Shirley Partridge. I always wished MY Mom would buy a school bus and outfit it for travelling about the country -- where my sister and I could sing and dance ourselves to super-stardom! (The Partridge Family)
Carol Brady. She was so . . . groovy. (The Brady Bunch)
Roseanne. So REAL. Such a breath of fresh air (at least for the first season). (Roseanne)
Ann Romano. Such a scandal -- a divorced mom! Raising two cool daughters. (One Day at a Time)
Kitty Forman. She had to put up with a lot there . . . deep in the 70s. (That 70s Show)
Claire Dunphy. Such a modern mom. And so like many real moms I know . . . right now! (Modern Family)
Morticia Addams. Oh, yeah. Wouldn't she be QUITE the mom! (The Addams Family)
Lois (did they HAVE a last name?). Stubborn and feisty, she was a strong Mom in the midst of constant mayhem and a totally stupid husband! (Malcom in the Middle)
Clare Huxtable. She always kept her cool -- and looked great, too! (The Cosby Show)
My Mom and Dad live in Holland, Michigan . . . a city on the shore of Lake Michigan . . . home to Hope College (where Brian goes to school) . . . and host of the annual Tulip Time Festival.
When my kids were little, I used to dress them up in their traditional Dutch costumes (just for the record: we are NOT Dutch) and stick them in the tulips for annual photos. (Tourists and bus tour folks used to line up behind me, snapping shots of my "authentic little Dutch kids." Always cracked me up!)
(Little Erin and Little Brian, circa 1994.)
After my Mom retired, she decided she might want to volunteer at Tulip Time. So I sewed another authentic Dutch costume (seriosuly . . . there are "authentic Dutch costume patterns" and "authentic Dutch costume fabrics" to choose from), and my Mom bought herself a pair of authentic Dutch wooden shoes.
And now, each year during Tulip Time, you can find her . . . working with her pals . . . in the Tulip Time Information Booth in downtown Holland!
So, if you're ever visiting Holland to see the tulips . . . and you want directions . . . or a map . . . or advice on where to grab a bite . . . or a pint . . . stop by and say HI to my Mom!
She'll be there -- tiptoeing through the tulips in her wooden shoes!