Sued51's Blog

{June 1, 2013}   A Special Flower

Pink Lady SlippersI was out walking in my neighborhood yesterday and saw these in a neighbor’s yard.

Pink lady slipper

I did a double-take…pink lady slippers??? I hadn’t seen them since I was a child. And I remember quite well what happened then.

I was in the woods behind my house and came across this beautiful flower. Thoughtful child that I was, I picked it to bring home to my mother. On my way back I bumped into a friend who lived next door. “Look what I found! Isn’t it beautiful?” I gushed. I thought she was shocked by its beauty, but no…she said, “You aren’t supposed to pick those!”

“Why not?” I said, feeling uneasy.

“It’s illegal!”


“You are going to get in trouble!”

I thought she was teasing me, so I brought it home anyway. And my mother said it was true…they were endangered. She said she appreciated my thought, but get rid of it! I went back to the woods and laid it down next to the leaves, hoping someone would think it just broke. I was nervous for a couple of days after that,  picturing policemen at my door hauling me away. Of course, nothing happened, but I never touched them again.

Glad to see that they are still alive and well. They are the state flower of Minnesota, but can be found in the Eastern US and Canada. You can read about them here.

{April 17, 2013}   What is it About April?


It’s a spring month, a time of renewal and hope; Easter often falls in this month. But it appears it is also a time for tragedy: the Oklahoma City Bombing, the Virginia Tech Shootings, the BP Oil Spill and now the Boston Marathon bombing. I saw my notes regarding some of these events in my long-term journal and shook my head. Why? This should be one of the best times of the year.

I know, you could probably take any month and find tragedies that have occurred in that month (December is another bad one), but because I live outside of Boston, the marathon tragedy is in my face and on my mind, bringing back bad memories of these other horrific events, events that took place at the same time as beautiful blooming bushes and daffodils.

I am going through tough times myself right now (nothing life-threatening…just way-of-life-threatening, which is psychologically difficult); that is why my blog posts have been few and far between. I have been calling this “the Spring I didn’t see” because I have barely noticed the flowers blooming or the weather warming. I go through my days in a haze of business and worry. Normally I would be enjoying the end of winter and anticipating my garden to come, but not this year. But Monday’s events made me HAVE to stop and think, whether I like it or not.

It’s easy to feel compassion for the victims, but hard to understand the people who perpetrate these acts. Are they so caught up in their own problems, so angry that they don’t see the flowers, feel the warmer air, see the blue sky, enjoy the world around them? When bad things are happening to you, it is hard not to feel blinding anger and self-pity. It takes strength and attention to see what’s good. Many of these people have minds eaten away by mental illness. Not an excuse, but a way to remember that, though their acts seem inhuman, they are humans with problems.

I went out for a very quick walk this morning, but I got down on my hands and knees to smell the hyacinths. I had to…I have to keep that smell and vision in my thoughts all day to get through. Life goes on, in very beautiful ways if you can see it.

{September 29, 2012}   The Sunshine Award on a Cloudy Day

Two weeks ago, I was nominated for the Sunshine Award, by Sofacents. (Although I still have two more letters of the alphabet, I don’t think I would have gotten through my music series, A Fan’s History of 80’s Boston Bands, without his comments!) My sincere and grateful thanks to him! It has taken me two weeks to get to it because I have been working extra hours recently and hurt my back, making sitting at the computer a little difficult, but better late than never!

This blog has been quite an experience for me. I started it when I was unemployed and dispirited to keep myself writing and busy. In the beginning I had only stealth readers who never commented, so it felt like I was writing in a vacuum (which was fine, but I already do that in my journals at home). Every once in a while someone would tell me in person or on the phone that they read my blog and enjoyed it, but there was nothing in writing that said that; WordPress wasn’t giving us stats then.

I finally got so discouraged I was going to give it up; I wondered why I was doing it. I decided to start a new blog, Last Train to Qville, without a plan of how to end this one. I panicked and decided to keep this one going as well. I’m glad I did as readers have finally found me, and now I have an award!

Part 1 is to answer some questions about myself.

1 – What is your favorite Christmas movie?

Hmm…Sofacents mentioned “The Sound of Music” and I do love that one, but I don’t think of it as a Christmas movie, even though it has a Christmas scene. There’s a modern one I love that isn’t a Christmas movie, but has Christmas scenes called “Love Actually” that I like a lot. It tells several stories simultaneously with a fabulous cast. It has some sad parts though. On a lighter note, I LOVE the cartoon “Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer.” Great music!

2 – What’s Your Favorite Flower?

I can’t give an absolute answer to this one. I love to garden, and I love so many different flowers. I guess I will choose two very different flowers: lilies and sunflowers: formal and everyday.

3 – Favorite Non-Alcoholic Beverage

That’s an easy one for me; I’ve been drinking tea since I was a child.

4 – What is your passion?

That’s a tie between reading and writing. I could happily spend all my hours doing both. In second place is my love for animals, especially cats.

5 – Favorite Time of Year?

That’s a tie between spring and fall. I love spring because it is such a relief after winter. Green is my favorite color, and I love to garden. Spring means a new gardening season. I also love fall because I love the fall colors, fall food like apples and squashes. Spring might have the edge only because my allergies are worse in the fall.

6 – Favorite Time of Day ?

Another easy one, I am definitely a morning person. I look forward to my quiet morning time drinking my tea, reading a book, or doing some writing in my journal. A day not started that way is not usually a good one for me. If I don’t get something done by 1:00, it often doesn’t happen.

7 – Favorite Physical Activity ?

Walking. I could walk and walk and walk, as long as I have good sneakers.

8 – Favorite Vacation ?

That’s another tough one. Due to economic conditions, my husband and I have not been on a vacation in YEARS. When we had full-time high paying jobs we liked to go to Mexico to Iberostar resorts in what is called the “Mexican Riviera” near Playa del Carmen. But I wouldn’t necessarily say that was my favorite vacation. I think my husband and I differ on this one. I like going to a new city and seeing and doing touristy things.

Part 2 is to nominate other blogs for this award. Here’s a few I discovered recently that I like: great photos very creative and witty writing great photos


The other two I wanted to note were called Images & Words and A Little Box of  Light, but I am having trouble locating the links. I’ll get back to that!


{September 25, 2011}   As the Avocado Grows…

As the Avocado Grows…

My successful "plant experiment"

I have written in a past blog about my “plant experiments.” This 1 ½ year old avocado plant is one of my successes, and I’m proud as a parent.

I had heard you could grow an avocado from a pit but I had never tried it.  I was interested in the experiment, so I looked up information on the Internet (the Internet IS wonderful for that; you can find out how to do almost anything).  I followed the instructions: hovering a split pit over a dish of water with toothpicks. It took weeks and weeks to get a sprout, but it happened!  I transplanted it and it is now over two feet tall!  Because it was an avocado from the grocery store it is probably a hybrid, genetically altered not to produce fruit, but it is still a lovely plant and makes me feel successful. It has a place of honor under the skylights with our other “tropical” plants.

Meanwhile out in my compost pile last year, a plant rose from the depths. I recognized the leaves because of my indoor experiment; an avocado plant had grown on its own in my compost pile without the aid of the toothpicks and bowl of water. I briefly considered digging it up and repotting it, but I didn’t think I needed two of them.  I was attached to the one I grew myself because I worked so hard to nurture it.

With very little thought, I left it to become a victim of the New England winter.

A Successful Food Experiment

{April 11, 2011}   More Ways of Measuring Age

Last year I wrote a blog about the different ways we all measure our age.  I thought about the issue again over the weekend while watching The Masters.

I’m not presently a golfer.  I’ve taken a few lessons and it has been on my “someday” list for a while, but I’ve watched The Masters for years.  It’s another sign of spring for me, like Opening Day for the Red Sox (but I don’t want to talk about THAT right now).  I realized I’ve been watching this competition for a while when I saw Fred Couples with white hair (wait…he’s younger than me?) and that some of the other golfers I’ve thought of as top golfers – Ernie Els and Vijay Singh  – didn’t make the cut to play Saturday and Sunday.  I was still routing for Tiger, despite his personal troubles, but I recognized that seeing Tiger near the top was no longer a given; he had to play a great final round to be there.  The announcers said that the young golfers at the top of the leader board had watched Tiger win at 21 (wait…was it that long ago?), and this year’s winner, Charl Schwartzel, was shown around the course by…Ernie Els, thus passing on the mantle to a younger South African.  The next generation of golfers has officially taken over.  Another way to measure my own age is to watch new generations of athletes.  Of course, the age threshold for athletes is much different than for the rest of us, but it makes me aware of time going by.

I waited on a customer in the garden department the other day (and loaded his bags of soil and mulch into his trunk) as he told me “I’m old…I’m 64.”  I told him he didn’t look old, but he clearly thought he was.  He continued, “I live in an over-55 community now and I have short-term memory problems.” I laughed.  “I hear you on that!” I said, trying to make him feel better.  I had to think after he left – he’s not old… old is 80s – isn’t it?

There are plenty of people who look at me and won’t let me load their mulch.  I know they’re thinking I’m too old to do it, but I can’t think that, or I will be.  My husband and I used to be work horses when it came to yard work: we would rake, edge, mulch, trim bushes – you name it and we would do it, after we had gone for a run!  Yesterday, after walking a couple of miles, we did yard work for a few hours.  I was tired, but I wouldn’t quit.  My husband went inside to fix dinner; I stepped in a hole and fell.  Luckily I did not sprain my ankle, but it scared me enough to send me inside. I told him, “I’m not allowed to do yard work alone anymore.”  There’s a fine line between not acting your age, and being stubborn and silly.  I guess it’s time I recognize that.

{March 28, 2011}   A New Way to Grow Seedlings

Yes, those are seedlings in the cage. No, we aren’t growing dangerous plants and they didn’t misbehave. We aren’t imprisoning them; we’re protecting them.  A cage can work both ways.

Last year we discovered that our cats are big bad bullies for little seedlings.  They roll on them, squish them, eat them, and bat at them.  Last year a lot of seedlings succumbed and gave up.  We scolded the cats and tried to convince them to leave the plants alone, but as any cat owner knows, cats do what they want.

So this was my husband’s solution for this year and I thought it was a brilliant, albeit, funny one.  The cats can hang around the cage as much as they want, they can’t get to the plants.  The plants get light and they are easy to water.

I’m sure the cats are just as glad they still have the run of the house and they aren’t the ones in the cage!

{November 4, 2010}   Pricey Resources

A customer came through my line the other day with soil, a bag of rocks, and bottled water in her cart (along with several other things).  She said, “I never thought I would be paying for dirt, rocks, and water.”   We both laughed, but it made me think.

When I was a child I lived next to an abandoned gravel pit;  it was my playground.  I collected bag after bag of rocks.  I studied them, decorated with them, and played games with them.  I even had a rock polisher that I used to make them smooth. The soil was sandy, but was still capable of growing things (it was great for growing potatoes).  I also collected smooth beach stones when I went to the beach.  I never considered rocks as something to buy until I was grown up and we used them for landscaping at our home.

It used to be if I wanted soil to plant something, I just went outside and dug some out of the ground and dumped it in a pot (of course that was before I knew anything about gardening and bugs).

Also, when I was a child our family had a well.  The water was fine to drink.  In fact, I remember there being a spring at a park near my house, and we would often stop to drink from it when we were out playing for the day.  We didn’t need water filters or bottled water to drink.

I know the world has changed, and I’m okay with that.  It just gives me second thoughts about how we use our resources and reminds me not to take them for granted.

We all hear about discrimination that people suffer from, what about plants?  I think some flowers suffer from discrimination based on their names—the perennial Sneezeweed for example ( ).  The garden center I work at was selling them—a beautiful golden orange in color.  People would walk over to them, saying, “Aren’t these pretty?” and then look at the name and walk away.  Similarly, I always find “dead nettle” a tough sell, despite its rare quality of producing flowers in the shade ( ).

“Weed” has such a nasty connotation—an annoying plant we always try to get rid of.  A plant lovers’ definition of a weed is “a plant that grows in the wrong place.”  Many plants considered weeds (or nicely termed “wildflowers”) are quite pretty—think of Morning Glories, Ox-eye Daisies, and Sweet William.  Growing in the right place we would enjoy these “weeds” immensely.  We should all have a “wild” part of our yard for these beauties and just let them go.

Home gardening is becoming more popular than ever due to the economy.  Most people grow some kind of food in the summer, even if it is just some herbs and a patio tomato. What do you do if you don’t have a yard, or your yard does not have a good sunny spot in the back or side to have a vegetable garden?  Is it socially acceptable to have a vegetable garden in the front yard?

In my area, I see lots of Topsy Turvys (upside down tomato growers) on front porches. At my job, I had a conversation with a woman who said she grows tomatoes along the front walkway because it is the sunniest spot in her yard, and she loves the convenience of picking them as she walks into the house after work (although her husband hates it).  Many people unable to afford the cost of fancy pots grow their tomatoes in buckets (like the orange “Homer” Home Depot buckets, which are under $3.00). When I mentioned this phenomenon to a coworker, she said she called it a “Hillbilly Garden”.

Container gardening is also becoming popular.  Google “container gardening with vegetables” and check out the wealth of information on the internet for this topic.  One book I was reading suggested using the plastic tubs sold at party stores as an inexpensive container; most any container will do, as long as it is large enough for the type of plant, and it has holes for drainage.

I have a small vegetable garden on the side of my house that barely gets enough sun for me to grow tomatoes.  I have the best luck with peas and beans.  So this year, I have two Topsy Turvys on my farmer’s porch, and a line of every pot I could find on the driveway, by far the sunniest spot.  In honor of my coworker, I call this my “hillbilly garden” (though I don’t have any buckets).  I don’t think it is TOO ugly; do you?

When my husband and I moved into our first house, the lawn was pretty bad.  It was patchy, embedded with Heineken beer caps and invaded by dandelions. We applied patch to the grassless spots and my husband put down the 4-step lawn treatment.  I used my trusty dandelion removal tool to remove the dandelions by hand…a process that paid off with a beautiful green lawn. (yard before0001)

We took before and after pictures–after only one year, the lawn was beautiful.  My husband mowed the lawn faithfully, going in different directions each week.  I raked the grass (we didn’t have a mulching mower).  People from the neighborhood would stop and comment on its beauty, and the neighbors began to call my husband “the Lawn Maniac”.  If a dandelion would randomly appear on the lawn, he would point it out to me and I would attack it with enthusiasm.  I spent many weekends moving plants and planting new ones. (yard after0001)When we moved to the house we live in now, I sighed over the yard.  It was like an ocean of dirt with islands of grass, and it was three times the size.  We were older and working hard at our jobs outside the home; it seemed like it was time for the dandelion hunter and the lawn maniac to retire.  We even sold our lawnmower.  We hired landscapers to create a flower bed and treed island in front of the house, and I planted some bulbs and bushes.  It has been almost five years, but it still does not look like the yard at our first house.  We were away for over a year and one-half and depended on others to maintain the yard.  It looks like someone else’s yard, not ours.

Thus, the lawn maniac and dandelion hunter have come out of retirement.  It’s time.  The yard is overrun with dandelions and strange weeds.  The early warm weather sent us out to toil just the way we used to, no more depending on others.  Now…about that lawnmower…

et cetera
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