Monday, November 14, 2011

went to the food show, got some yard art

Pat and I went to the food Show this past weekend. The IX center was packed with exhibitors and visitors. The lines to see celebrity chefs were like giant snakes, winding their way to infinity. I didn’t want to wait hours to get up close and personal with my favorite chef. Besides how up close and personal can you get with an audience in the thousands. I’ll sit closer to the tv next time I tune in. There were all kinds of booths. Some actually were food related. Next time we want a patio room installed, we’ll make a point of visiting the food show. During our tour I thought I heard that familiar refrain: “it dices, it slices, it’s the sledge-o-matic.” Oh, that’s right, wrong show. Hey, I forget things and my thoughts tend to wander. I almost forgot the best booth in the whole show, better than celebrity chefs or free food. We found lawn ornamentation, wonderful, beautiful, Ohio-made lawn ornamentation. One look in the booth and I was in my gardening zone. I seem to remember Pat just shrugging her shoulders. Events like this is why I carry around “just in case” money. My money and I were soon parted, but boy, did I get some wonderful looking lawn ornamentation. Getting them into the car was problematic. Why do we always bring the small car to big car events? Who would have thought to find great art at a food show?
Maybe the metal bird will scare off the deer.
 I'm not creative enough to have come up with this idea. it was Pat's idea. It looks pretty cool.

We have all winter to move these things around until we find that perfect spot.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

what is that i hear?

Tis the season. As soon as dawn breaks, the neighborhood resounds with leaf blowers. We got your electric ones, your hand held gas ones and your back pack professional models. Every once in a while, you see someone raking leaves. Now, Pat and I don’t live in a development with acreage, even though, some guys have riding lawn mowers. I can mow my front yard in 20 minutes. But, I digress. The Plain Dealer had its annual article discussing the world of leaf blowing. Do you blow the leaves or do you use a rake, the Plain Dealer asks. Our city picks up leaves twice in the fall. It’s funny that the trees don’t normally cooperate by dropping their leaves to coincide with the pickup days. Whole families bond by collecting leaves on the weekends. How sweet is that? It doesn’t seem to matter that the wind blows the leaves back into the yards, not necessarily the yards where they came from, but yards never the less. I guess it’s just more bonding time for the next week end.
What I don’t get is why I seem to be the only one who mows the leaves. I enjoy family bonding opportunities as much as anyone. If our kids lived with us, I’d get them to participate in some labor intensive project. It just wouldn’t be collecting leaves. I would save opportunities like this for number 57 river rock or sweet peet. Mowing leaves is so much easier than collecting them. It’s better for the yard, better for the environment and better for keeping peace in the family. None of the kids we see collecting leaves look all that happy.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

back to the garden

Thank you for all the very kind sentiments. I know now what a virtual hug is.

A summer of wordless Wednesdays has gone by. I was in a writing funk. Every time I sat down to write, my mind felt like a black hole, stuff went in, but I couldn’t get anything out. On my trips back and forth from Chicago, I had all kinds of ideas, but they all went flat once I got home.
It seems like only a little while ago that Pat and I were shoveling 10 yards of sweet peet and 5 yards of gravel. Now we are trying to guess when the last weekend before the first killing frost will be. We want to put in a couple more flower beds in the front yard (my battle against turf grass will never cease) and we need a place to winter all the perennials we have in pots. Dumping five yards of sweet peet in the fall gives our garden a real boost in the spring (only 5 months or so away). I know we weren’t going to get any more containers this year, but maybe we can try that again next spring. That will give me time to get a couple more for the new beds.
We broke our precipitation record last week, and we’ve still got two months of snow-induced traffic jams to look toward. I thought I was imaging it but it really rained every other day, or was it every weekend. I know, I know. All the rain could be snow. The back yard is as wet today as it was in March. It’s great for the new perennials we acquired, easy for weed pulling, but lousy for walking off the paths. Everything in the garden grew like crazy because of the rain. I mean everything. I was weeding after a week away and came across an 8 foot weed. For crying out loud, weeds bigger than me. We had bird seed growing everywhere. We had our own amber waves of grain growing in the back yard. I told Pat that we could grow our own bird feed. That, or maybe hook some kind of farm implement to the back of the Aztec and harvest the stuff.
There are still flowers that think it’s summer. A daisy bloomed yesterday and we have anemone and hibiscus blooming. We planted a boatload of mums in late August, so they will probably winter over. I thought we got white and yellow mums, but they seem to have a way of morphing into different colors. Just as long as they winter over, I don’t care what colors they are. The impatiens are in their early fall burst. We discovered that deer don’t like begonias. They thrived in our deer infested back yard.
Hey, maybe I’m out of my funk.

Friday, October 7, 2011

funerals stink

I got the phone call that I’ve expecting for the last year and a half. “Hurry.” “I’m on my way.” I drove thru a dark and rainy tunnel. A couple of days ago everything seemed fine, or as fine as fine gets considering the circumstances. I was comfortable living in the denial that it would be later rather than sooner. I got to Chicago in time to say goodbye. The Aunts and Uncles from Minnesota got there right when we were making those middle of the night phone calls. Man, did I hate to make those phone calls. By the time we had time to sleep it was around 4 in the morning. It was kind of funny that a sister, a niece and I all slept on couches in the family room. The idea of sleeping in Mom’s old room was just a little too creepy. We divvied up jobs the next morning. Off we went to make all the arrangements that you have to make. I got to see our youngest daughter, Sarah, for an hour. It was time to go back to Cleveland, board the boys, find a shirt that fits and oh, yeah, grab Pat. Back we went.

Boy, what a turnout. People from the old neighborhood, church, nieces and nephews, all turned out to see Mom off. It was a nice send off. All the people to see and things to do helped distract me from the reason we were all gathered.

The trip back to Cleveland was sunny and full of Fall color. It helped take the hurt out.

I love you Mom, always have, and always will. Give Dad a hug. He’s been waiting.
My Mom, Mary Ann Groble

Monday, September 5, 2011


Its Labor Day weekend in Cleveland and that means Oktoberfest. Pat and I went when it was sunny with temperatures in the 90’s. If we would have waited, we could have gone when it was rainy and in the 60s. I guess you get wet either way. Anyone with a dachshund got in for free because the national dachshund races run all weekend.
There was more food, wine and beer than you could ever eat. In addition to the predictable German restaurants and microbreweries from throughout the area, you had your Italian, Polish, and Greek food, and even a corn dog joint. Oh! I almost forgot the funnel cakes! You can’t have a fair without funnel cakes and all their deep fried goodness. Even the Hodge Podge food truck, Cleveland’s entry in the Great Food Truck Race, was there.
Growing up in Chicago, I was always told that I lived in the center of the polka universe. But nay! Cleveland is the center of the polka universe. It’s even got a hall of fame. What fits better than polka and Oktoberfest? There was music all over the fest in a half dozen halls. Polka bands roamed the grounds, drawing crowds wherever they went. Pat and I found two great polka bands, The Alex Meixner Band and the Chardon Polka Band. Boy can these bands play. They don’t look like your grandma’s polka band, but when it’s in the 90s and humid who wants to play in leather shorts and knee socks? Hats are OK though.

through the eyes of children

I walk outside and all I see is the work I have to do. I don’t have any projects left this year till mid fall when we dump another 5 yards of sweet peet. The work I’m talking about is the everyday work that gardener’s experience: grass that has spread into a flower bed or weeds popping their ugly heads up. It has been so wet this spring and summer that weeds seem to grow by the foot before my eyes.
Sometimes it takes a new set of eyes to drag me back to why I garden. Our friend Sarah brought her three girls over for a garden tour. They hunted for decorative rabbits and smelled flowers. To watch the girls wandering around the garden brought a smile and renewed the sense of adventure in Pat and Jim’s gardening adventure. The girls never saw a weed or a plant out of place.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

end of august stuff

Pat and I are back from the land of no weather. I mean 69-78 yesterday, today and tomorrow with no humidity was a nice change of pace, but really, is that weather? It was fun hanging out with Katie, Sean and the girls. I promised myself once that I wasn’t going to turn into that grandparent who showed everybody pictures of his grandkids. Well that was before I had a bazillion pictures to show. With a digital camera, there is no such thing as too many pictures.
One of our neighbors volunteered to water our containers while we were gone. I figured that the rest of the garden could fend for itself while we were gone. We are over a foot ahead last year in rainfall so how bad could it get? While August is traditionally pretty dry, it’s been raining what seems to be every other day. As luck would have it, we got a couple of gully washers while we were gone. We landed in the rain. Only a gardener would be happy landing in the rain. We had standing water in all the normal places.
I needed to get into the yard and get my garden fix. I have not spent nearly the amount of time in the garden as I wanted to this summer. The garden is source of peace and tranquility for me, sitting out there with the critters, birds, bees, butterflies and my books. I’ve taken a ton of pictures but haven’t had time to post. The wet summer gave us the best ligularia display we have ever had. You can hear the bees buzzing around the yard. Butterflies have dog-fights over the flowers almost every day. The front yard is also booming. The tall rudbeckia doubled in size from last year, as have the hibiscus.
Disaster befell our pumpkins this year. Something attacked the stems right where they broke through the surface. All our plants died. We pulled the vines up and replaced them with mums. Hopefully, we’ll do better next year.

Here are some pictures of the yard in no particular order. I chose them because they look cool.
Pat and I are going to split all our hosta and thin out the ligularia, probably in October. I’ll send them anywhere that doesn’t cause late night knocks on the door by some state’s garden police. So give a yell if you want any. I’m not good with names, but can match pictures.

 Everything we have planted in this soil tile has been eaten. In years past impatiens would big as giant ice cream cones and then poof! gone overnight. Lancifolia hosta would get huge and then, gone. I thought that maybe the deer or giant rabbits wouldn't like albomarginata hosta. Well before anyone brings up the whole insanity definition nonsense, I am going to move the soil tile in the fall, away from the deer path.