Sometimes It's Grimm In the Garden, Too

I always laugh when someone mentions my having a "green thumb" in the comments. Because . . . I don't. I really don't. I have had so many garden mishaps in my years of gardening. So. Many. Plants that fail to thrive. Bad decisions. Planting entire beds that are not suited to the conditions. Pests and diseases . . . spider mites, aphids, thrip, scale, rabbits, deer . . . you name it, I've dealt with it. Overzealous ground cover. Blossom end rot. Let's just say . . . I kill a lot of plants. (One of my garden "zones" is called The Semi-Circle of Death - or SCOD -  for a reason!!!)

But I think that's just part of gardening.

Failure, that is. (Like any "art" or "craft.")
You simply have to accept that not everything is going to work out.
There are no "green thumbs."

Just a willingness to . . . be curious, ask questions, try again.
Or let it go.


For me, this year . . . I'm having troubles in my herb garden.

With . . . basil, of all things!
(And parsley, too.)

I grow a couple of "patches" of basil in my herb garden every year. With great success. As in . . . by now, I'd usually have a couple of basil harvests under my belt, not only enjoying fresh basil in my cooking on the regular and but also making batches of "basil bombs" to store in my freezer for winter. This year? I got this . . . 


Talk about . . . failing to thrive!


That . . . was the sad state of my basil (and parsley) this summer.

And my favorite, trusted nursery . . . was out of basil when I went to buy more! Like . . . they couldn't stock it or grow it fast enough this year. Is even basil a victim of the pandemic supply and demand issue? Or is something weird going on with basil this year? I have no idea . . . But last week, I got an email from the nursery letting me know that basil was back -- but in limited supply. So I hurried in and snapped up a few plants (but not as many as I wanted because the supply really was limited, and I didn't want to be piggy. . . ).


Trying again.
Because that's what gardening is all about!

Keep your fingers crossed and send the good-basil-juju.


"A dried plant is nothing but a sign to plant a new one."
            --- Priyansh Shah


Enjoy your weekend, and I'll see you on Monday.

The Centurion

Our old dog, Jenny, celebrated her 14th birthday last April. In "dog years" . . . that's 98. Close to 100. But not quite. So Tom figured out when her 100th birthday would be . . . and it was yesterday.

We threw her a party!


She had a day filled with special attention and treats -- capped off with her own hamburger, a dog-cookie cupcake, and a new chicken. (She always had a "thing" for chickens as a young-and-active dog. She cared not a whit about the new chicken - it was purely symbolic - but Brian and Lauren's dog, Ferda, loves it.)


Jenny's deaf now. Nearly blind. Increasingly incontinent. But happy! She gets frequent belly rubs, walks every day, plenty of treats, and a whole lot of love.

We think she'll be around a while longer.
(She knows a good gig when she sees it.)


Happy birthday, Jenny!

Fairy Tale Knitting

Sometimes, when we finish a knitting project, it's like finding a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

Sometimes, we are granted at least one (and maybe all) of our three wishes. (That it fits, that we don't run out of yarn, that our gauge swatch was true, for example.)

Sometimes, we really can spin gold out of straw.

And sometimes?
Not so much.


My face . . . says it all.

Fee. Fi. Fo. Fum.
This disaster was supposed to be this

But my gauge swatch lied.
I hate the yarn. (It's thick and twists a lot.)
I don't think a good-soak-and-a-toss-in-the-dryer would help at all.

No pot of gold at the end of this rainbow!
(Sometimes Rumpelstilskin wins . . . and you really can't spin gold from straw.)

Some knitting fairy tales . . . are just Grimm.


I hope your knitting this week is full of fairy tale magic and that all your wishes that come true!
(And don't feel bad for me. I'm on to a new story already . . . )


Be sure to visit Kat today for more Unraveled tales!

Lessons From the Garden. Again.

Yep. Once again, gardening brings meaning to my One Little Word . . . 


In the spring and early summer, we were in a drought situation here in my corner of the world. It didn't snow much last winter. It didn't rain much in the spring. Everything was very, very dry. And our entire sprinkler system was messed up. I was constantly dragging hoses and watering my containers. (I even ordered/installed that plant dildo system to give my containers a fighting chance.)

And then . . . 

  • It started to rain. (A lot.)
  • Sprinkler system repairs (finally) happened.
  • The plant dildos worked.

I didn't need to water anything anywhere.

I got complacent. 
Maybe even a little lazy.
But everything was fine. Great, in fact.

Until it wasn't.
Because the weather changed again. The rain stopped. It got hot.

At first, the plants were all fine. The roots were still soaking up all the spare water in the soil, and those plant dildos were providing plenty of moisure deep down in my containers, at the roots where they really needed it. But . . . it didn't take long before the leaves let me know that it was time for more attention! I needed to turn the sprinkler system back on. I needed to check my containers every day. I needed to re-fill those wine bottles in my plants.

Which is really what gardening is all about: Paying attention to the plants and the conditions they live in . . . and providing the necessary "maintenance" to keep everything humming along and looking good. 

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And all of this . . . got me thinking about my own "roots" . . . those metaphoric roots deep in my soul.

When the "weather" of life is providing just enough of what you need, it's easy to take things for granted. That you'll always have enough "water," for example. That your "roots" will remain comfortable, happy, and well-nourished. That you can just . . . cruise along, happy as a clam, without providing any "water maintenance."

But, as we know, "weather" (real and metaphoric) can change quickly. And we don't always notice that we need some extra "watering" until we start feeling dry . . . and a little desperate, usually wondering just WHAT IS WRONG with us. So - just like in a real garden - we need to pay attention. To watch for signs of "dryness" in our own soil. To figure out just what our roots might need. Y'know . . . so we don't wither and dry up.

This month, I've been trying harder to keep my eyes on the weather -- both in my garden and in my soul.
I'm asking myself . . . 

It's important to keep those roots - both my plants' AND mine - happy and healthy.


How about you? What have you learned from your word this month?


Sometimes Mondays

. . . really do feel like Mondays, y'know?


And as a person who does not actually have a job-job, that's saying something. Because when you are "retired" - or whatever it is that I am - all days are the same. Basically. Except when they're not.

And today? Today just feels especially Monday-ish to me.

Thankfully, there are hydrangeas in the world!

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"People from a planet without flowers would think we must be mad with joy the whole time to have such things about us."
            --- Iris Murdoch


Here's to a good week for all of us!


Mid-Summer Compare and Contrast

My container plants are doing really well this summer. (It's the plant dildos, I swear.

How well?
Let's compare and contrast!

It's always good to have some photos around . . . for perspective.
Here, for example, is one of my front door planters . . . earlier this week.


(If you look closely, you can see the 2 wine bottles in there. But barely!)

And here it is, back on June 2 . . . when I first planted it.


That's some progress, there!

I hope your garden is growing well this season, too.

Enjoy the weekend . . . and I'll see you back here on Monday.

Best Seat In the House

Long, long ago (many, many months ago) (so many months ago), Tom and I decided to reconfigure our library room to make it more comfortable for reading and relaxing; to make it more like a comfy den. We even decided to add a TV to the room, which is a Big Deal because we've long been a one-TV family, and that TV lives down in our basement family room (and sometimes, we go weeks without watching it). So this has been a big deal for us - lots of changes and a lot of thinking/considering went into the process.

We ordered two recliners for our new "den" -- to replace a couch that was never really a good fit for the room. And we asked Brian to design and build a custom TV table for us. (Which is gorgeous, and someday soon, I'll share that in a post. But not today. Because TV = still in box.)

But then . . . we had to wait.
It took such a long time for those chairs to arrive!
So long that I almost forgot about them. . . 

Finally, though . . . they are here!
(The furniture store blamed the delay on the pandemic and a surprise foam shortage. I joke that our chairs were stuck in the Suez Canal. Who knows?)


Once the chairs were all moved in and situated, I had Tom choose which one would be "his." Because I really didn't care which would "evolve" to be "mine". (They are the same chair, y'know?) And I knew that "ownership" would "evolve" even if it wasn't clearly defined from the get-go. Anyway, you can tell from the knitting bag . . . and the coffee cup . . . and the wool throw (because air conditioning vent) which chair turned out to be "mine."


I had no idea - until I sat there for a few moments - that "my" chair offers a Big Advantage! From my seat in that particular chair - and without moving at all - I can see my garden to the front (along with a view to the west that offers great sunsets).


AND . . . my garden to the back!


Without a doubt, this is the Best Seat In the House!
(And NO Take-Backsies, Tom!)

July is Dressed Up and Playing Her Tune

There is nothing like an old song to bring the memories flooding back, is there?

Today's post really needs a soundtrack . . . but you'll have to click here to listen because I couldn't embed the video (any video). That is . . . if the title of this post didn't already conjure that song in your brain. Remember that song? Summer Breeze. Seals & Croft. It is just a major, major nostalgia tune for me . . . bringing back one of my best junior high school memories. C'mon back to 8th grade with me for just a minute, okay?

There I was. . . gawky in my Olive Oyl body, with braces on my teeth, and hair that was trying hard to be like Marcia Brady's (but not cutting it) (at all), quiet and concerned all.the.time about saying/doing/wearing something stupid . . . and wishing for so much more (like a teenage sitcom life). And then, one day after band class, Nick Mizell asked me to stop by one of the band practice rooms after school. What could he want with me? I mean . . . Nick was suuuuper cute. Very cool. A drummer with dreamy hair. So very far out of my league. But I went to meet him anyway, hoping it wasn't going to be some embarrassing prank. I played it really cool - just in case - and tried my best to look like I was just casually down by the band room, y'know . . . looking for some sheet music, after school (like one might do in a teenage sitcom life).

But, no. He did actually want me to meet him. He and a couple of other band guys (Steve and Jay) were all set up in this practice room with Nick's drum set. (Steve played an electric guitar, and Jay had his trumpet). They were practicing for the school talent show, and they wanted me to listen while they played (you guessed itSummer Breeze. And it was so awesome! I'd never seen a drum set up close. Or an electric guitar. And it sounded so good, so . . . exotic! (Not to mention how exotic these boys were to me.) And you know what they wanted? They wanted ME to play my flute in their group for the talent show. Seriously. I thought I had absolutely DIED AND GONE TO HEAVEN. Like I was freaking Grace Slick or something! This was one of the highlights of 8th grade for me. (Right up there with the night Alan Richardson asked me to couple skate at the skating rink . . . and then skated with me the whole night long.)

Anyway. Big nostalgia for me . . . that song.
(Oh. We didn't win the talent show, but we did get far enough along that we got to play in the school assembly.) (And, unsurprisingly, Nick was only interested in my flute playing and ignored me for the rest of time after that.)

That's a long story. . . and not really what I was planning to blog about today at all.
But I've always loved that song!
And I heard it on the radio just as I started to knit this summer tank top.


Sweet days of summer, the jasmine's in bloom
July is dressed up and wearing a tune

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Summer breeze makes me feel fine
Blowin' through the jasmine in my mind

It's kind of nice . . . when your summer knitting project brings a welcome song and fun memories for each stitch!

I can't play it on my flute anymore, but . . . 
Eat your heart out, Nick.


For details and more photos, click here for my Ravelry project page.


And don't forget to visit Kat to check out more Unraveled posts today.

Clear Your Calendar . . .

and prepare to be . . . UNSETTLED!

RWU Summer Logo

Yes, friends. Our most recent Read With Us book selection - Unsettled Ground by Claire Fuller - is very compelling and highly readable.

Unsettled Ground

I was up north last week, and it rained . . . a lot. I spent one day inside reading this book. Actually, let's clarify that . . . I spent one day inside glued to this book. Is it among my favorite reads of all time? No. Is it the best book I've read this year? No. But . . . it's very good! And it's totally . . . un-put-down-able. Author Claire Fuller is a master storyteller. She paints a beautiful landscape for us, populates it with believable characters, and tells her story in a way that just hooks us right in and keeps us reading (and reading and reading). I found this book to be frustrating and bleak, but also a bit hopeful by the end. It's one of those stories that may change your perspective a bit; that might open your eyes to different ways of living (or surviving). It will probably . . . unsettle . . . you a little. And it will surely make you want to talk about it with other readers. (It's perfect for a book group.)

I hope you'll grab a copy and read along with us this summer.
(Although you may want to make sure your schedule is clear for a day or so before you begin.) (Just sayin.)

The book is currently available on Amazon in hardback ($19.33), Kindle ($12.99) or Audible versions. I imagine your local bookstore (should you be fortunate enough to have one) would offer the book at similar prices. I got a copy from my library with a short wait.

Our Read With Us book discussion day is Tuesday, September 14. Bonny, Carole, and I will each post a discussion question (or two) on our blogs that day, and then - later in the evening (7:00 pm Eastern time zone) - we'll be hosting a live book discussion/meet-up on Zoom. 

C'mon along!
Unsettle yourself.

Read With Us!


PS - A couple of weeks ago, Bonny discovered - and shared - a Spotify playlist put together by the author to accompany the book. I'm sharing the link again here . . . because it really is a nice companion to the book, and you may want to give it a listen.

PSS - Slight spoiler alert. (Only slight.) When I read books that feature animals and beloved pets, I worry a lot about . . . bad things happening to the animals. I just want to assure others that feel the same way . . . well, don't worry about the dog.