Archive for May, 2009

Abundance updated


Peonies and penstemon.


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This morning, I was checking the irrigation system in the Hosta Dell.  This is a very long system that goes along the west fence and finishes at the fern located next to the rock garden in the corner.   Every emitter seemed to be aimed correctly and emitting the appropriate amount of water, so I proceeded back towards the house, pulling tiny weeds as I went.   This led to me noticing a patch of sedums that were threatening to cascade over and drown a dianthus that was down slope of them, so I yanked out  pruned back the patch and looked at the resulting pile of rooted cuttings and cogitated over where would be a good place to apply them.   I finally decided they would look cool disporting themselves under the lilac bush down by the mailbox, so I transported them there forthwith.   After throwing them about briskly carefully planting them in their new home, I proceeded along the fences back to the house and thence along the front border, where I stopped for a moment to observe that the junipers in front of the house appear to be sick with the same fungus that killed the giant one across the street.  I spent a few moments contemplating what I should replace them with.  Eventually I arrived at the peonies, which insisted they be picked and brought in the house to grace my table.  I walked around until I found vase companions for them in the penstemon patch.     



This is the resulting arrangement, which incorporates the aging red peony from the passalong garden.   It chose to drop some of its petals as I was arranging the flowers, and I realized that the vase of flowers can symbolize so much.   There is the contrast of the newly opened with the flower on its last moments.  There is abundance:   the peony plant is covered with so many flowers right now no one can tell I picked five of them today.   And there is nothing quite so abundant as a peony.   Can you even count the petals as they unfold with such abandon?

The Kitchen Dragon with his collection of Earl’s Valentines seemed to be enjoying the show.


You have a great day, now.   I’m going out to finish trimming the inner circle of the labyrinth and meditate some more.   There is no place on the property more likely to remind me of the abundance in my life than that spot, with its rocks from all over the world collected and presented to me by so many, many people. 

I am indeed surrounded with an abundance of love, joy, beauty, health and prosperity.  May you be so also.

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Well, there has been a lot going on at The Havens this week, which accounts for my lack of presence in the blogosphere.  Instead of doing chores that desperately need doing (like laundry, vacuuming, weeding, etc.) I thought I’d work up a quick update.

The big news around here is the robins fledged and left the nest on Sunday morning.   I managed to get a quick picture of them right before they acceded to their parents’ demands that they venture out into the big world.


It was quite the three ring circus out there Sunday afternoon as the harried Mama and Papa Robin tried to get their easily distracted, poorly coordinated and extremely naive chicks oriented and organized.  Yesterday as I was doing massage, I kept hearing insistent cheeps from the shrub where their nest is.  I managed to locate the complainer, and get its portrait as evidence that they have survived the first extremely dangerous days out of the nest.  While I was out there, I also saw the parents delivering food to two other places (the maple tree next door and the boxwood shrub by the house), so I am confident in reporting that so far, all three chicks have survived.  Here is the one in the juniper that was stridently interrupting my massages all afternoon.


I went out and picked some flowers the other day, right after I did my Garden Bloggers Bloom Day post, and Jim made a comment that I should do a post on bouquets you can’t have unless you have a garden full of flowers.   He’s right.   When was the last time you saw columbines or bearded iris at your local florist?



The other news around here is that the economy and the recession have finally made their impact felt on me personally.   I am trying to stay positive, because fortunately we are in a fairly good financial position.   What happened was that a local company which for the last 14 years has been providing their office workers with massage as a taxable fringe benefit decided that they needed to cut costs even more than they already have, and eliminated this very beneficial program, overnight, with no warning, effective immediately.  They have already closed one green mill and laid off a few workers.  They did not eliminate corporate vehicles for their superfluous engineers, nor their corporate gas cards, but who am I to second guess the 100% male managers who made the decision on which programs and people to eliminate to cut costs?   Were any of them getting massage?  No.  Are any of them doing 8 hours of computer work every day?  No.   Do they have cars and gas cards?   Yes.   Do I sound bitter?   Probably.  But if I sound bitter, you can just imagine what the people whose carpal tunnels I have been keeping in service for the last 14 years despite the lack of ergonomic work stations and adequate rest breaks they get must be saying and feeling.   

I am fortunate this decision was not made five years ago, when the people from this company comprised 85% of my client load.   Today, they only represent 30%, due to my diversifying my clientele over the years during the slow attrition as people move, retire, or use other massage therapists over the years.   A major player in the change towards other therapists was a woman who decided that I must be speaking to demons because I have crystals in my massage room.   She stopped coming to me, and while she has never bad-mouthed me (mostly because she knows darn well what reaction the “talking to demons” idea would get), she also makes sure that any new employee who became eligible for massage got told how wonderful HER massage therapist was.  So wonderful that she wound up having carpal tunnel surgery and back surgery after she stopped coming to me, but maybe there is no correlation between getting proper therapeutic massage and avoiding carpal tunnel syndrome and back problems.   All that research must be wrong.

Oh yes, I am angry and slightly bitter, but my feelings are complicated because I am also extremely grateful for the years that I did serve this company.   It makes me sad to see them regressing from a posture that was quite progressive and far-seeing in terms of their employees health, morale and well-being.   But I also realize that it is better to pause and regroup rather than lose your business entirely in these times of recession.   And, to give the employees of this corporation credit, the increase in my clientele outside of the company is largely due to their selfless promotion of my business during the years previous to this.  Because of that, I am in a position to weather this slight downturn.   And some of them will be coming to me on their own dime, although probably not every week as they were when the company picked up the tab.

Life goes on.   The birds fledge, flowers bloom and fade, clients come and go.  The important things:  our health, Jim’s love for me, mine for him, Jesse’s love for us both, these things continue on regardless.  

I am blessed, and I live fully believing the blessings will continue.  As my mother is fond of saying,  “This too shall pass.”

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Once again I find myself under a time crunch.   I seriously considered going out and finding One Thing to take a picture of, upload it and call it good.   I have several dozen daffodil bulbs I dug up the other day in an attempt to exercise some control on the situation out front, and they need to get planted.   They are destined to be the continuation of the labyrinth project, in which I plan to outline the whole circular pattern with daffodils.   I’m about half done, and it has been four years.  I think I might get that done this year.   

So, it is Garden Bloggers Bloom Day, a meme started by Carol, over at May Dreams Garden, where gardeners all over the world post about what is blooming in their gardens, what is done, what is coming on.

What is done at the Havensis the daffodils and tulips and hyacinths and other spring bulbs.   What is coming on is the herb garden, lots of flower stalks there on the valerian, the aescepulis, the chives.   The peonies are going to be prime in about two days, and I have lots of roses showing color.  The only ones that are open are the big rugosas by the barn.

I have irises galore, the hostas are looking splendid, the coral bells of all sorts are blooming.   The rock garden is wonderful, more beautiful than I imagined it could be when I planned it.   

So, I thought I’d take you on a little tour around the place, and you can see for yourself what is happening.  We’ll start in front, where you can see that the earliest day lily is going to town, backed by the chorus of irises and peony buds.  There is spiderwort back there, another plant rapidly achieving NIMBY status.


Look to the left and you will see what is blooming under the robins’ nest.


Big solo here for a pair of lovlies that just showed up this morning for the first time.


Heading towards the back of the lot, the vineyard is leafing out wonderfully.   The vines are covered with blossoms, looks like we’ll have more wine joining the seven cases from last year’s crop.


Walk along by the espalier and mourn the dearth of actual fruit set.   The frost was hard on them.   There are a few apples out there, not many.  But the mock orange will cheer you up.


Walk all the way to the back and look southeast towards the back side of the labyrinth.   This is how the savanna area looks ten years after it was planted.   The oaks are finally starting to put on some size, the bradford pears, the river birch, the maple, the hawthorn, the black walnut:   all looking great.


Yes, that is the remnants of the big rock pile in the foreground.   Turn 180° and you are facing the root cellar.   Look!  There are strawberries!   We’ve been eating them every morning for several days.   


Just around the corner from them is the patch of showy evening primrose that I have allowed to continue to exist.   It was the subject of a NIMBY post I did a while ago.   I spend a certain amount of time keeping it in bounds.  It is so pretty, it is hard to banish it from the yard utterly.


Turning again to the left, we walk past the barn towards the vegetable garden.   The rugosa roses show you how the wind is blowing today.


The vegetable garden is looking real good.  We are eating peas now, the asparagus is pretty much done for the season.   There is lots of lettuce and greens too, they are in the bed farthest back, on the right.  Notice the onions and potatoes in front, the big patch of green by itself in the next bed is the cilantro patch.  To the left of that is the garlic.   I’ll be planting the melons and squashes and beans and corn this weekend.   If it doesn’t rain, that is.


Leaving the garden gate, we turn left and see the pond.   This is an area badly in need of some upkeep.  I really need to get in there and beat back the cat tails, but right now the yellow flags are the big news.   These were a gift from the birds, by the way.


Turn left again, walk past the clothes line and the sauna and the compost area, and enter the back yard inside the privacy gate.  The herb garden:


Walk past it, turn left and look along the house.   This foundation planting was the second garden I worked up, established in 1997.   Look at how the bleeding hearts and hostas are doing.   There are white columbines blooming in there too.


At the end of that path is the new stroll garden.   This view encompasses the Hosta Dell, the Rock Garden and the Rain Garden.


Lets have a closer look at that rock rose.  There is rose verbena in front of it.


The Hosta Dell is looking particularly fine this week.   Notice the coral bells blooming.   Right now you can see Peach Melba, Peach Flambe, Lime Rickey, Palace Purple, and Mardi Gras in addition to the plain jane species Heuchera.  It’s a real joy to watch the hummingbird working the coral bells.


Now we turn right,  and find a couple of clematis climbing the fence, waving their arms and begging for attention.


Back along the fence, the row of day lilies and roses are getting ready for the June spectacular.


Look back there along the fence on the left.   See that splotch of color?  That is a red iris and in front of it a blue flag, both wild irises native to Missouri.  Let’s get a closer look, shall we?


I think these two are worthy of an even closer look.



That’s pretty much it for today.  I’d spend a lot more time showing you the sights, but I really do have to get those daffodils planted.   This time of year they don’t really like to be out of the ground.   But I can’t leave you without this one last view, the interior of one of the irises out front.


I just love these totally sexy ladies.  Now, don’t forget to visit Carol over at May Dreams Gardens and see what other people have going on at their place.  It is worth the trip over there.

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My dear husband looked at me the other day and told me that my handwriting was getting more and more like my father’s every day.   Since his writing is almost completely illegible up and down peaks, I found this comment to be less than flattering.   

This observation was prompted by Jim’s inability to decipher the illegible scrawl in my appointment book that denoted a certain client’s name.  Why he could not tell that a couple of peaks with a valley followed by a squiggly line meant “Mary” is beyond me.

After we traded a couple of bons mots about my handwriting and penmanship in general, he suggested that it wasn’t that my writing was getting bad, it was that it was getting much more efficient as I was leaving out a bunch of unnecessary loops, dots and up and down motions.   I can tell what the cryptic entries mean, so basically I am using a sort of short hand, if you will.

Anyway, this whole subject led to me thinking about how my hand writing has changed since I was a kid, struggling to learn to write and follow the Palmer Cursive writing system.   I recall receiving a C  grade on a penmanship exercise.   Being the sort of challenging child that I was, I approached the teacher and inquired as to why I was getting such a poor grade for an exercise that was completely legible.   She informed me that my letters did not look like the ones in the handbook.   Whereupon I informed her that when she wrote on the board her letters didn’t look like the book either, so what was the big deal?   I believe I was sent to the office for that bit of insubordination.  

Of course, this was the woman who informed the class that porpoises were fish and when I pointed out to ther that they most certainly were not, they were mammals, argued with me and told me that she was the teacher.   So I got out the World Book Encyclopedia and showed her the entry on porpoises and dolphins.   I got sent to the office that time too.  The principal was actually sympathetic with my plight, and so we sat and had a pleasant chat for a while, then he sent me back to the classroom with the advice that perhaps I’d get along better if I tried not to argue with Mrs. Swisher, even though (or perhaps especially if) I was correct and she was not.

But I digress.

I happen to have a sample of my handwriting dating from the fifth grade (I was 10 1/2).   This is an entry in a handbook I made under the tutelage of my mother, which I joyously entitled:


This is the entry on making a hand-bound buttonhole.


I notice that I left an “h” out of the last “stitches”, which doesn’t surprise me much considering how many times I had to write that word during the course of producing this handbook.  I also find it interesting that even at the tender age of 10.5 I was cutting corners — observe the efficient crossing of both t’s in “stitches” with one line.

And now, for your delectation, what I wrote about that entry this evening.


I see I have dropped the double t cross over the years in favor of hooking the next letter to the crossing.  Just for fun, here is my very careful signature circa 1963:


I just want to say that the skills I acquired while doing this little project have stood me in very good stead over the years, and I actually referred to this little book a couple of years ago when I was trying to remember how to do a French seam when I was sewing some extremely prone to ravel silk.   

Thanks Mom!

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Nest report May 14, 2009

These robin chicks are growing so fast you can almost watch it happen with each delivery of bugs from the busy parents.  Today one of the chicks was standing on the edge of the nest doing what we around here call magneto checks:  flapping their wings as hard as they can to see if they get lift.   

The robins are all very aware of the window of my massage room and notice as soon as I open it, no matter how slowly or carefully I do it.   Consequently, getting actual photos of the chicks flapping at the edge of the nest is impossible.  The kids are very well trained and as soon as their parents start yelling warnings they hunker down in the bottom of the nest and hold very still so as not to draw the attentions of the paparazzi  predators.   However, I feel pretty sure that these little birds will be leaving the nest tomorrow or the next day.


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Nest report May 12, 2009

Check back on my May 10th post about the robin’s nest.   This is how we are doing today.   The parents have become quite territorial about the front yard, I have but to leave the front door and start walking around dead-heading the iris and I get told off in spades.  You’d think by now they would “get” that I am not going to hurt their babies.    They are birds of little faith and much cynicism.


The chicks’ eyes are open now, see?   Notice how big their feathers have gotten in the two days since I last posted a photo.   Birds have to grow fast, I guess.

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