(I know someone is going to ask me which clematis this is. . . and, well, I just don't know. I mean, I have it listed somewhere in one of my garden journals. But I can't find it quickly. Besides, I have 8 different types of clematis in my garden -- 4 on that pergola alone. Please forgive me for not being able to remember which type is which.)
Oh, May. So much gets packed into your glorious days. It always seems there isn't quite . . . enough of you.
Here's what's happening for me . . . Right Now.
Watching . . . Not much of what's on a screen (no tv or movies lately), but I'm watching a lot of garden-unfolding, weed-growing, and lovely sunsets, though!
Reading . . . Because I've been out in the garden so much lately (see weed-growing, above), my reading has slowed considerably. I did manage to finish a wonderful collection of essays by Malcolm Gladwell (What the Dog Saw), and I'm mid-way through Kate Atkinson's newest, A God in Ruins (and - if you loved Life After Life, you'll love this follow-up novel . . . although the format is completely different this time around, and the focus is all on Ursula's beloved little brother, Teddy).
I've also printed out my BOTNS Bingo card, and I'm busy plotting out my summer reading. (If you want to join along, you can read more about it here (or here or here) -- and be sure to check out Mary's challenge, while you're at it!
Knitting . . . I'm working diligently on my Beeline pullover -- just the sleeves left now! (Very nice pattern/design, I must say. I think it will be very sweatshirt-ish, which is just what I'm hoping for.) I'm also looking forward to yet another mystery shawl. (Apparently, once you try one, you're hooked.) This time, Kirsten Kapur's Through the Loops Mystery Shawl . . . which begins June 1 and includes 6 clues. (It's not to late to join in.) (Just sayin.)
Listening to . . . Everything on my iPod. On shuffle. It's interesting. (Mostly I'm just too busy to settle on any one thing right now. So, when it comes to music, I just say, "Surprise me!")
Dreading . . . A particularly nasty and totally overgrown garden bed. One that I've been ignoring for a couple of years now. The longer I let it go, the worse it becomes. (Although I guess it will be particularly satisfying when I finally do bring it to order.)
Drinking . . . Ginger Peach tea. It's great, hot or cold.
Planning . . . KonMari-ing my sewing room and yarn. (Yeah. I haven't really moved on that one this month.) May has been . . . very full. I will get to it. I just need to meet some grant deadlines first. (And tackle that garden bed.) (And keep up on the weeds.) (And plant my containers.) (And finish my Alabama Chanin project.) (And those sleeves.) (And get Up North with Tom for a few days.) (And help my Mom with her garden.) (And . . . yeah. This is what happens.)
Humming . . . Sorry about this one. (I blame the gym.)
(Gotta say, though . . . the dancer in me loves this music video.)
Wondering . . . How it can cost so much to replace my windows??! (Like . . . one full year of tuition at a small, private, liberal arts college.)
Organizing . . . for the season Up North at the cottage. This means getting everything set up and functional again -- and replacing things that need replacing. (This year, KonMari has come to the cottage. Let's just say . . . there are many things up there that DO NOT bring joy.)
Delighted by . . . Although it has really been a financial drag to have to replace All the Appliances All at Once . . . I'm loving that my kitchen appliances all match now!!! (And, face it, that they all WORK.)
Needing to . . . Replace the cabinet hardware in my kitchen (so it matches the new appliances). (Of course.)
Celebrating . . . A return to normal fitness activities -- a full three months after my original injury. (All sing praises to the power of rest and physical therapy.)
Enjoying . . . Long days and pleasant weather!
How about YOU? What's going on for you . . . Right Now?
But it's a rather nasty 3 hour drive. (All the way through Chicago. . . past O'Hare airport . . . and into the northern suburbs.)
So, when I found a charter bus day trip, I thought it would be the perfect way to visit the Gardens. I could let someone else do the driving, and I could still enjoy a day exploring one of my Must-See gardens. I talked my Mom into coming with me (although, really, it didn't take much talking-into at all).
The weather (as I've mentioned) was pretty crappy. Cold. Cloudy. Breezy. But . . . at least it didn't rain until we were on the way home.
Although it might have been nicer to see the Gardens on a good-weather day, we did enjoy an almost private experience. Really . . . everyone else stayed home . . . or sat on the bus. (Because inappropriate clothing.)
By Mom and I were dressed for the weather in layers and heavy coats and hand knits.
We had a great time!
We had a surprisingly delightful tour of the vegetable gardens. (We didn't expect to be WOWed, but we were.)
We were delighted by the English Walled Garden (and it was surprisingly warm . . . being walled and all).
(In case you're curious, these Dr. Seuss looking plants are Echium 'Pink Fountain' or Tower of Jewels. More information here.) (Those are lupines in front.)
(And, yeah. That's a poppy field there in the back . . . )
We visited the bonsai exhibit . . .
and were charmed by the Railroad Garden.
But, without a doubt, my favorite thing of the entire day . . . was the Japanese Garden.
On Wednesday this week, my Mom and I visited the Chicago Botanic Garden as part of a day-long bus trip out of Kalamazoo. It was an awesome experience -- even though it was very cold. (Like . . . near freezing. Garden staff were covering the freshly planted annuals with plastic at the end of the day.) I'll share more about the gardens next week, after I have a chance to sort through my photos.
In the meantime . . . I have a few letters to catch up on.
Dear Fellow Bus Trippers:
Yes. It was very cold. Yes. The Chicago Botanic Gardens are OUTSIDE. (Gardens? Get it?) Yes. You will be uncomfortable if you wear flip-flops, capri pants, and a jeans jacket on a day that is predicted to be 40ºF. With maybe rain. And a good breeze. But, y'know . . . You made a reservation for the trip. You paid $130. I assume . . . you are interested in gardens. And the weather forecast, disappointing as it was, was NO surprise. I'm glad you were able to find comfort and warmth. On the bus. For 5 hours. While I enjoyed the Chicago Botanic Gardens with my Mom . . . pretty much all to ourselves. We had a great time. I'm sorry that you . . . did not.
Your vegetable gardens are awesome. Your walking tour of the fruit and vegetable gardens of the Chicago Botanic Gardens was awesome. (I wish I could come on Saturdays to your garden cooking demonstrations.) (So much.) (Because I'm certain they would be awesome.) Your passion for growing food was just . . . well . . . awesome!
P.S. I'm really sorry so many of our group were sour and stinky about how cold they were. (They were the ones in flip-flops and light spring jackets.)
Dear (Cold) Guy We Met on the Trail of the Waterfall Garden:
It DID feel like we were in another world altogether, didn't it? I agree with you -- so beautiful, and SO worth stepping out in the cold!
Dear Trouble-Maker on My Bus:
I know just who you were in high school. You were the Mean Girl. The Leader of the Pack. The Queen Bitch. You may be very used to getting what you want. And you may think that you can coerce all the rest of the Bus Trippers into demanding an early and immediate departure because it is just too cold to visit an outside garden. (Especially in your stylin' flip-flops and capris.) (And your little cheetah-print cardi.) (And your half-hearted attempt at a scarf.) Anyway. I came for the day, thankyouverymuch. I have been looking forward to seeing these gardens for a very long time. And I paid attention to the weather forecast and wore layers, hand-knits, AND my down jacket. (Much as I'd have liked to leave it packed away for the season.) I will not be denied my time in the Japanese Gardens. I will see the Model Railroad Garden. I will take my time in the English Walled Garden. I will enjoy the gift shop, and maybe even a leisurely cup of tea in the cafe. You can take your flip-flops and sit on the bus. You aren't the boss of me. So there.
PS - That scarf . . . wrapped around your head like that . . . looks really stupid. Just sayin.
* A "mystery" knit is just that . . . a mystery! When you sign on to knit it, you have no idea what the final product will look like (although you do know if it will be a shawl or a pair of socks!). You have no clue what colors might look best with the design. You have no idea what you've just gotten yourself into! You simply follow the "clues" (usually released once a week) . . . and trust that it will all work out in the end.
When it comes to graduations, I've been through a few. You could say . . . I have a lot of commencement-experience.
This picture-of-some-pictures (because scanner not feeling cooperative today) . . . shows a couple of early graduations: Tom's college graduation, undergraduate from Boise State University . . . and mine, undergraduate #2, from University of Texas at Austin. (Hook 'em!)
I don't remember much about either of those ceremonies. Except that they were long. (Really long.)
I don't remember any of the speeches we heard that day, either. (I do, however, remember that at Erin's graduation - four years ago - there was talk about some sort of acorn, or maybe it was a walnut, taking root and growing into a tree. And I also remember that at Brian's graduation - last year - the speech started strong, but went on and on and on for far too long. There was one "theme word" that the speaker used over and over and over. I can't remember it anymore -- I have purged it from my mind.)
This week, Carole asks us what you would say if giving a commencement address. Me? Well, first, I'd keep it super brief. Then, I'd say . . .
Congratulations on this most wonderful of accomplishments.
As you move out into the world, you can apply the lessons you learned in college nearly everywhere you go: read the syllabus, pay attention to deadlines, figure out how to prioritize, and show up.
(Drinking games and college songs will also serve you well in the non-academic world.)
"Graduation" is not the end of anything; it is the "commencement" of the next phase of your life. The next phases won't be as neatly mapped out as your course requirements for graduation were, though, so you'll just have to wing it.
Speaking of wings . . . be sure to spread them!
Try new things.
Learn from those mistakes.
And don't forget to thank the people who got you this far.
How about YOU? What would you say if you were giving a commencement address?
As I was looking through old photos of graduations yesterday, I spied this little box that I keep up in my bedroom. (That's my high school graduation tassle there on top. I keep it in the little box, along with other little mementoes of earlier times.)
When I graduated from high school, the local furniture store (Grier Furniture in downtown Cheyenne, Wyoming) gave each girl graduate a mini cedar chest just like mine. I think that used to be a Thing. Anyone else get one of these from their local furniture store?
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