Tuesday, August 28, 2018

...blood, sweat, tears, and black mulch...

We have been in our new home for about two months. As soon as the house was mostly put together, I took to the yard. It has been quite an adventure. We assumed based on the condition that our house had been rental property for about a decade. The yard appeared to have once been loved and then left on its on for a good 8-10 years. We have over a foot of old fallen pine needles, which the English ivy and poison ivy vines decided would make a great home. I was able to clear about three feet of extra pavement for our driveway that had been covered but after a month of fighting the poison ivy, I called for help. I do not have the strength nor the time to keep fighting this battle.

The messy beginning post weeding
The first days
The garden patio in the backyard included weeds, morning glories, and Jack-in-the-Pulpit plants. The morning glories smothered everything until I added trellises. 

We have 0.35 acres of land, a third of which includes a copse of trees behind our home: tall pines, an oak, two sweet gum trees, crape myrtles and shrubs as large as trees including red tip photinia and Rose of Sharon. To that, I have already added two baby crape myrtles including a red dynamite and an ebony and ivory

Pumpkin in progress
Hibiscus, cactus garden, Ebony & Ivory Crape Myrtle, etc.
Later this week, we have hired landscapers to not only clean out the poison ivy and English ivy that has overtaken the backyard copse but they are adding another crape myrtle in the front yard (we’re tucking ourselves in and blocking the views of neighbors!) and a red bud tree on the corner. We purchased boulders and rocks (my fella’s request) and after hauling twenty bags of black mulch (my car can only accommodate eight bags at a time), the landscapers are bringing and adding the mulch to the front yard. Until then, here are the views of my work-in-progress garden. 

Blood, sweat, tears, and black mulch make everything a bit better.

Friday, August 10, 2018

... my last garden...

If you read one of my previous posts, you know that this summer has been a whirlwind of buying, moving, and selling houses. Today at 4pm *knock on wood* the buyer should close on the townhouse and we will return to being one-house-homeowners.

I walked through my new garden this morning. We have a tiny pumpkin growing. If he makes it, I will share him with you soon. There are blooms that I did not expect this year. We dug up and moved as many of the plants as we could and planted them here at our new home. Some did not make it. Some have balled up and decided that maybe they will consider life next spring. And, some, despite all the odds and doing what experts say not to do when transplanting precious gardens, have bloomed beautifully.

This morning I am reflecting about the old garden and its last blooms because that place will never be the same as it was; and, neither will I. 


Monday, August 6, 2018

... books, magic, vampires, and the authors who bring it all to life...

It was early May 2004 when I walked into the public library and discovered Charlaine Harris’ Southern Vampire Mysteries. I checked out Dead Until Dark and within days, I checked out the rest of the series including Living Dead in Dallas and Club Dead. I loved them. Then I had to wait, fortunately not very long that first year, for the next book to come out in the series. I purchased Dead to the World and kept anticipating these books each May, published right around the time my coursework was concluding before summer break. I even pre-ordered the books at Borders, which I never do for any books… still! The clerks at Borders would tease me because many of them knew that I was writing my doctoral dissertation at the table in the café while sipping chocolate coffee. I miss Borders but that’s another story.

The Southern Vampire Mysteries were fun; Sookie didn’t just fall down, she fought back; and, she owned a house, something that I desperately wanted to do back then. Some of the storylines were silly; others were quite serious. I loved them all. When True Blood was even hinted at as a possibility, I went out and bought a television and later figured out how to order cable, specifically HBO. The television series was very different but I enjoyed it so much in the beginning and then like a loyal fan, watched it to the very end and cried. I kept reading those Sookie books, including the novellas and short stories that were offered usually around winter break.

I’m not a book series person. In fact, now if I walk into a bookstore to find a description noting a trilogy I abandon the book. Yet, every now and then I’ve fallen into a series. The Southern Vampire Mysteries was one of them. They were there published at the exact time I needed a break from academia and needed to lose myself into a story. I don’t come from a family of academics. In fact, my parents did not attend college. But, they were readers. My mom read, and still reads, novel after novel. My dad was more of a non-fiction devourer of texts. He also has a photographic memory, which I did not inherit sadly. Books were supposed to be fun but in grad school everything changed. I no longer seemed to have time to read for pleasure and when I did sneak in some reading I always felt guilty about it since I should have been reading some Proust or whatnot. The only time that I was able to comfortably put down the academic texts was at the start of summer break.  

I wish I could go back to recreate the feeling but just as one can never step into the same river twice, one can never recreate the magic of reading a book for the first time. Nevertheless, with so many books stacked up in my to-be-read pile, I finally have my very own copy of Dead Until Dark and I’m planning to give it another go.

Some of my favorite books of all time were library books. Oh, I wish that I had stolen that copy of Dracula the first time I read the book. I remember the cover and if I think hard enough I can almost smell the book. Old books have the best smell. Fortunately, my new copy of Dead Until Dark is pretty much the original cover art, which I adore. Now, I even have a signed copy!
Yesterday, I attended the 5th Annual Suffolk Mystery Authors Festival about two hours from my home. For the price of a $20 ticket, which also offered a tote bag full of free books, I attended the VIP Reader event right before the festival was open to the public. There, I met Christine Trent (and may have been a little stalkerish), as well as Julie Moffett, Alice Loweecey, and Aimée Hix. 

For me, the most exciting part was meeting and thanking Charlaine Harris for keeping reading fun during a time that I really needed it to be light and fun.