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June 2017

Bloomin' Friday

Most mornings, I start the day with a walk around my garden.  Sometimes with a cup of coffee, sometimes with a bowl of cereal, sometimes with my camera.  And always with the dogs!

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It's good to start the day with flowers, I think . . . but walking around in my garden each morning also helps me figure out my daily gardening to-do list.  (Which, by the way, is NEVER finished.)

Since it's Friday, I thought y'all might want to come along and see what's going on in my garden today!

While there are a few things in bloom -- this clematis (one of the oldest plants in my garden), for example . . . 

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my garden - as a whole - is in a kind of bloom-lull right now.  When I design my gardens, I work hard to have something (and often lots of somethings) in bloom from the very earliest days of spring to the very latest days of fall.  Generally, I've done a good job at that -- and you can see that there are some things in bloom today.  But . . . there are definitely a few peaks in the blooming throughout the summer.  (You should've seen it last week!  EVERYTHING was bursting with color and bloom!)

We're about to hit another peak bloom time -- probably next week, or so.  Lots of things are on the verge of blooming.  See?

My oak leaf hydrangeas are just starting to pop.  By next week, they should be quite showy!

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There are little allium flowers just ready to pop open all over my garden.  They'll just kind of hover there . . . in their purple-y-pink-y way . . . above the foliage in the shade.

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And out in my butterfly garden, by next week I imagine the bright orange of butterfly weed (a form of milkweed especially preferred by the Monarch butterfly) will be hard to miss!

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When I walk my garden each day, I keep mental track of what's blooming, what's finished, and what's likely to be in bloom next.  

On my walks, I also figure out where I need to focus my weeding and deadheading efforts for the day (it's a constant game of Whack-a-Mole in my garden!) . . . 

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and I check out the ponds each day to see if the filters are clogged (or if anything has fallen in during the night) . . . 

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I water my annuals and re-fill my birdbaths . . . 

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My walks always show me what's "wrong" with my garden -- what needs tending or fixing or adjusting.  But they usually also show me what's "right."  (Or, at least, "right" . . . right now.)

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Which is really why I garden in the first place!

Enjoy the weekend!

 

 

 


A Special Guest with a Special Mission

A few weeks ago, an old friend put out an announcement on Facebook:  a young man from New Jersey was setting off on a 3200-mile trek across the country to raise money and awareness for . . . water.  His journey was going to take him right across Michigan -- and he was looking for places to stop and shelter along the way.  Including . . . Kalamazoo.

No brainer, right?

Mission close to my heart.

Young man my own son's age.

Empty guest room.

Sign me up to support him!

James arrived last night.  Tired and hot from a long day's journey -- but bubbling with enthusiasm and energy.

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It was a delight to spend a few hours with James -- learning about his mission and background.  He's an amazing young man!  He has chosen to backpack across the country carrying 10 gallons of water (that's 90 pounds!) in support of (mostly) women and children around the world who must walk far distances each day for their water.  James planned his route to include areas in the US with water insecurity issues -- and he spent several days in Flint, Michigan last week, learning about the Flint water crisis and volunteering with various organizations there.

James hopes to raise $75,000 during his trek.  All funds he raises will go to repairing broken wells in the Mara region of Tanzania (where James has done work in the past), as well as providing training for well maintenance.

Find out more about James and his journey here.  You can also follow his progress on Twitter or Facebook.  And, if you can, please consider a donation in support of his mission.  

It was truly a delight to connect with James.  He gives me HOPE for the future (something we can all use there days), and I am so pleased we got the chance to meet him.

And now . . . he's off!  Watch for him out on the roads this summer as he heads west . . . for water.

 

 


Up North: On the Trail

Last week, Tom got a new bike.  While we were at the bike shop, I picked up a copy of this handy little magazine:

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This guide includes maps and detailed descriptions of bike trails all over the state.  And, right there in the bike shop, I randomly opened up the guide and it happened to be page 70 . . . the Pere Marquette State Trail . . . which is very, very close to our cottage up north.  (And we never even knew it was there.)

So we brought our bikes with us this trip, and decided to check out the newly-discovered trail.

We went yesterday - between rainstorms, just assuming we'd get rained on.  (We didn't.)

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We rode a little over 12 miles, fighting deer flies and avoiding lots of caterpillars on the trail.  Other than that, though . . . it was just Tom and I . . . through woods and and tiny towns on an old CSX rail bed.  We crossed a few bridges and rode past wetlands (marl bogs) that, ultimately, feed into the Pere Marquette River (a truly lovely river famous for its trout fishing; the river is the reason we have a cottage up north in the first place).

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(This is a memorable location.  It was here that I stopped to take pictures, forgot my foot was still clipped into my pedal, collapsed with my bike, got a major foot cramp -- because foot still clipped in pedal, and accidentally popped Tom under the chin as he was helping me untangle myself.  A lovely moment in married-people bike riding, as you can imagine.)  (The view was nice, though.)

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It was a great ride -- and good exercise, too.  (Because surprising uphill section.)  We'll definitely do it again -- and plan to explore other parts of the trail as the summer unfolds.

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Best of all?  The trail begins/ends right behind Jones Ice Cream -- one of our favorite places to visit in town.

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YUM!  A perfect ending to our biking adventure up north.


Bloomin' Friday

I have a little herb garden.  It's right off my patio, which is right off my kitchen . . . which is a super handy place to have frest herbs.

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It really doesn't look like much now, but it will fill out and grow into its space.

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In fact, before long, I'll have plenty of my favorite herbs to snip for cooking or for drying and preserving.

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I love having fresh herbs right outside my kitchen door.  It's one of my favorite things in my garden!

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Enjoy the weekend!

 


Daily Haiku

I am a regular listener of Gretchen Rubin's Happier podcast.  Each week, Gretchen and her sister Elizabeth share stories and suggestions about the little things we can do to bring more happiness into our outlooks and our lives.

A couple of weeks ago, Gretchen and Elizabeth talked about writing a daily haiku in their "Try this at Home" segment.  By writing a daily haiku - a super simple and accessible type of poetry - you can focus your attention on some little segment of your day, bringing a bit of mindful attention and happiness into your life.

This idea resonated with me -- and I decided to give it a try.  I've challenged myself to write a daily haiku during the month of June -- and it's been so much fun, I decided to share a few.

(A haiku is a 3-line poem following a specific formula:  Line 1 - 5 syllables; Line 2 - 7 syllables; Line 3 - 5 syllables.  The lines seldom rhyme.)

June 1

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Sunrise over lake
Coffee steaming in my cup
Bird joy all around

June 3

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Cloudy, grey morning
Makes me want to sit and knit
While sipping coffee

June 7

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So fast down the hill
Not even pedaling . . . but
Uphill coming home

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Turns out daily haiku is a really fun exercise!  Give it a try and see for yourself.

 


Unraveled . . . Tales of Stitching and Reading

These days, most of my "creative time" is spent out in the garden (and my fingernails really show it . . .), but I still try to find time to stitch every day.

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No unraveling this week.  (At least, not of the knitting or stitching variety.  In the garden, though?  I have a MAJOR unraveling going on, but I'll save that for another blog post.)  

The Colorwash Scarf continues to be a joy to knit, and it's growing quickly.  I'm hoping to be finished before Kirsten Kapur releases the first clue (June 15) for this year's Through the Loops Mystery Shawl -- but I'll have to knit quickly.  Because . . . 

See that sort of mustard-y green pile of fabric underneath?  Well.  That's my basic Alabama Chanin Factory Dress . . . and it's hogging most of my stitching time these days.

As for reading, in the ears I've got David Sedaris' newest book, Theft by Finding (audiobook-read-by-the-author, if you're following along with Summer Book Bingo).  In print, I'm reading The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (biography).  Earlier this week I finished The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane (borrowed).  

How about YOU?  What are you reading and unraveling this week?

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Today's post is part of Kat's Unraveled group.  Click here to see more posts about stitching and reading.
 

 


Perspective from a Shoebox

Tom has been going through shoeboxes of photos and clippings and . . . stuff . . . that he's been carting around and storing in closets ever since we've been together.

I can't believe some of the stuff he has squirreled away in his shoeboxes!  Amazing things.  Newspaper clippings from high school races.  Race programs.  School papers.  Every single issue of his high school newspaper!  Certificates.  Ribbons.  Prizes and awards.  Things printed with that purple ink of ditto machines.

Seriously.  The stuff time capsules are made of.  

He's sorting through things and tossing most of it.  But, along the way, we're enjoying all these treasures from the past.

Back when he looked like this . . . 

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Yes.

Let's go back to the time of this photo.

1975.

Tom was a senior in high school.  A runner - cross country and track.  Also a good student with a great sense of humor and a penchant for satire.

We found this paper (among many) in one of his boxes . . . brittle now, and faded by years of storage.

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He can't exactly remember why he wrote this particular paper.  Maybe a class assignment?  Maybe a submission for the school paper?  Maybe just inspired by . . . current events of the day.  Whatever the reason, though, it's fun to read -- and especially because while it was written in 1975, it resonates today.  (In a way I'm sure 1975-Tom would never imagined.)

I thought you all  might enjoy reading it, too, so here it is -- Tom's unnamed article from 1975:

In the beginning God created heaven and earth, the United States of America, Washington D.C., baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolets.  The government was without form and void, and the spirit of '76 was moving over the face of the land.  And God said, "Let there be government."  And from the anarchy rose a government of the people, for the people, and by the people.  And God separated the executive branch from the judicial branch and the legistlative branch, and the house from the senate, and all of that he separated from the church.  And God saw that it was good.

And the Lord said, "Let the govenment put forth a constitution yielding laws and amendments according to their own kind.  And let there be taxes, a budget, and the C.I.A."  And it was so.

And God said, Let the earth bring forth living creatures."  And God made the birds and the beasts and the fishes of the seas, and bugs, and the common American.  After all, somebody had to pay the taxes.

And finally the Lord made politicians, Republican and Democrat he made them, good, bad, and ugly he made them.  With gleaming white teeth, receding hairlines, and non-tiring tongues he made them.  And God blessed them saying, "Be fruitful and multiply, fill and subdue the government."

And God gave the politicians dominion over the birds and the beasts and the fish of the sea and the bugs and the common American.  The Lord also gave him executive privilege and tax shelters.  And after hearing the campaign speeches, the Lord voted that it was all good.

And on the next day, seeing it was the 4th of July, the Lord rested and had a barbecue and afterwards shot fireworks.  And the Lord blessed that day saying, "Thou shalt not campaign on the Sabbath day."

And things went just dandy for almost 200 years excpet for a few wars, assassinations, riots, depressions, etc. nothing too unusual.

Now the president was more subtle than any other politician.  And he said to the other republicans, "Did the Lord say that we should not bug the other party's campaign meetings lest we die?"  And they said, "Yes, mister president."  And the president said, "Pardon me, but I beg to differ.  We will not die, but get me re-elected."  

And so the republicans bugged the other party's campaign meetings, and they won the election.  But then someone blew the whistle and told the Lord.  And the Lord made the president resign and banished him to some dreaded place in California.  And he cursed the politicians saying, "Graft and corruption shall fill your lives, and the people will trust you no more."

                                                                                                Tom Mulhern, 1975

Indeed!

We laughed when we read it -- this reminder that the more things change, the more things stay the same.  (And now . . . back to the shoeboxes!)

 


Connect

"Whether we and our politicians know it or not,
Nature is party to all our deals and decisions,
and she has more votes, a longer memory,
and a sterner sense of justice than we do."
                            --- Wendell Berry

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Get outside, my friends.  

Find a path and follow it.  Spend some time in a garden.  Look up at the sky.  Breathe the fresh air.  Listen to the water.  

Connect with your environment.