Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Michele's Coming Home!!

I just found out Michele is about to board a bus for home - a whole day early!! We'll have an extra day together - though I HAVE to work! I'm just so excited that she will be home. Four months has been a very long time. I have kept very busy while she's been away. In addition to the things I've shared, I have several surprise projects that I will share as soon as she gets home - wouldn't be much of a surprise if I blogged about it before she get home, right? If all goes well, we'll be meeting up at the bus depot at 4 o'clock tomorrow morning!! I'm so excited I just might pass out!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Trees Masquerading as Lilacs

Those of you who read this blog regularly may remember that a few weeks ago Rita and I transplanted two lilacs from her back yard into my front yard. Well, I will preface the next thing I tell you with the information that Rita is "Italian from Italy," which she says to distinguish herself from "Italians who have never lived in Italy." Because of this, Rita sometimes has a little trouble with English. That having been explained, those little trees that we transplanted were not lilacs. Rita simply calls them that because her mom planted them at the same time that she planted the lilac in Rita's front yard and Rita cannot remember what the plants are actually called, so it's easy to just call them lilacs. I am not sure what they are, but am sure that they will be just lovely! We may not yet be real Rochesterians, but our masquerading who knows what bushes should qualify us to be honorary Rochesterians since I did think they were lilacs for at least several weeks.

Friday, May 22, 2009

My Little Baby Bean Stalk

My garden is growing wonderfully! With all this new growth came one slight moral dilemma. About a week after we put in the vegetable bed, I saw my first sprout. I was so very excited. I went out every morning and evening after work and talked to the sprout. I called the sprout My Little Baby Beanstalk, because it was growing where we planted the beans. I encouraged Baby to invite her brother and sister beanstalks and all her veggie cousins to join her in my garden. I prayed for her to grow strong and produce lots of beans (sort of like "Live long and prosper.") Well, over the past couple of weeks, several baby bean stalks started to grow. They looked lovely, but their appearance soon made it clear that my Baby Beanstalk was not a beanstalk at all - she looked nothing like them! What a dilemma, right? I mean, I've talked to this plant for weeks, loved it, named it, prayed for it, and now I'm required to kill it? Oh boy! I just couldn't do it, but I knew the the real beanstalks would need the space, water, and light (my Baby was growing really fast and was quite large at this point, likely due to all the love, water, and plant food I'd been giving it!). I just couldn't bring myself to kill her, though, so I very gently dug her out of the veggie bed and transplanted her further down in the yard. I still visit her every morning and evening and call her My Little Baby Beanstalk. I mean really, she was the first thing to grow in the garden and she gave me hope for weeks when nothing else was coming up. What was I supposed to do?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Health Screenings

Well, I just did a bunch of health screenings here at work. They checked BP, cholesterol, blood sugar, and weight/BMI. All were excellent except my LDL - the bad cholesterol. According to the nurse it is too low - yes, that's right, too low - which supposedly can increase anxiety and depression. Well, I am rather anxious about this - ha! - and since I'm not taking anything to lower it, the fault is in my diet - again, according to the nurse, it's too healthy. She suggests that I eat more bad food - ha ha. Her main suggestion is that I consume more ice cream. Well, who am I to argue with a health professional. I am going to force myself to eat at least a bowl a night. It's for my health, right?

Monday, May 18, 2009

Organic Fertilizer

I need to make an amendment to Saturday's post. In addition to learning that I may need to sharpen my lawnmower blade, we also learned what organic fertilizer is: composted roadkill and other dead things. Everytime we saw some roadkill, my mom and I would say, "There's some fertilizer." I don't think I will be fertilizing my lawn. I'm nervous about the chemicals in regular fertilizer and imagine that if I use the organic stuff I will be thinking that I am spreading parts of little bunny foo foo and all her woodland friends around the yard. That's just not the image I want in my head.

Visit Finale

My mom's visit ended with a trip to the Lilac festival during which Mum started picking tulips - I've posted the picture to prove it. So naughty! After the festival, we decided that we hadn't spent enough time in craft stores this visit, so we went to my favorite Joann's and walked the aisles. Then we decided to go to AC Moore and Michaels and do the same. By the time we finished AC Moore we were so tired and it was after 7 pm that we decided to forego Michaels. We had a great visit, but I am so sore from all the walking - I feel like someone took a baseball bat to the bottom of my feet and lower back! But, you know what? We'll probably do it all again next time. We just need to string together a few more full days to get in visits to all the stores.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Adventures with Mum

Mum and I have been having fun the past couple of days. Thursday night we went to a gardening and lawn maintenance class. That was fun and very informative. I learned that I need to check my lawnmower blade for sharpness. The minute he said that, I thought, "Oh boy - that's one more thing Michele and Daddy will warn me NOT to do!" And, of course, during our conversation this morning, Daddy said I don't need to worry about the blade. I was actually pretty excited about trying my hand at finding the blade, getting it off the machine, and sharpening it. Darn! Maybe next year?

Yesterday, Mum and I took a long, long, long walk. Actually, it was about an 8 1/2 hour walk. . . it just happened to be inside two craft stores. We spent 6 1/2 hours walking through every single aisle of the new Hobby Lobby here in the Rochester area. So very fun. We actually had to take a break halfway through and go have lunch, then we came back a soldiered on. There is a Joann store right across the street, so we spent the next two hours there. Our plan was to walk its aisles, too, but they were having problems with the HVAC so it was miserably hot in there. Since we couldn't stand it in there for long, we planned a targeted attack and just hit the main highlights: fabric, beads, yarn, and sewing machines. We had a ball!

Today, we plan on returning to the Lilac festival and I have promised my mom that we will not walk behind any tents this time - though I still believe those were all food tents or empty craft tents. It actually looks like it might rain today, so we may have to make our sojourn to the festival a quick one. We could spend the rest of the day at my favorite Joann's - they don't have any problems with HVAC!

In the evenings, my mother has been forcing me to watch copious amounts of Star Trek. She insists that we spend hours watching episode after episode. Last night, I actually begged her to let me go to bed - I couldn't keep my eyes open - but she just told me to put on another episode! Eventually, I had to go to bed and left her watching what I think was the 6th episode of the night! I think I am out of Star Trek DVDs, so I may get to bed at a reasonable time tonight!

Thursday, May 14, 2009


My mom is visiting and we are having great fun! She visits every year around this time to go to the Lilac Festival. We stopped by yesterday for a quick walk through to see the blooms and sniff around. The lilacs were lovely! None of the crafts were out, though, so that was a bit of a disappointment. Occassionally, we wandered behind the tents to avoid the lunchtime crowds and my mom says we were behind the craft tents, that's why we didn't see any crafts! I think they were all food tents, but I'm often wrong about a lot of things. We'll be going back this weekend, so we will see!

I didn't finish a lot of the projects I thought I would before Mum got here, so instead of showing her around the finished projects, I showed her the rooms the projects will be in and described how it would be when it was done. This worked out perfectly and is actually a technique we used quite often in the past. Once we went to look at an apartment I wanted to move into. It was awful, but I really wanted to live there because my best friend lived upstairs. My mom walked with me room to room and described how they WOULD be once projects were complete. For example, in the dining room she said, "Shelly, after the landlord rips up the dog urine stained olive green shag carpet you'll have beautiful hard wood floors through out!" So, we had the landlord rip up the carpet as a condition of the lease. Unfortunately, he also put down sheets of plywood over the "beautiful hardwood" floors and said "well, you said you wanted hardwood floors. This here wood is hard, isn't it?" Sometimes our imaginations aren't replicated in reality, but she and I have so much fun dreaming!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Weedwacking and Other Weekend Adventures

Last time I cut the lawn I noticed that it looked very scraggly around the edges and remembered that Michele did something in addition to just using the lawnmower. I looked in the garage and, low and behold, we have an electric weedwacker. During our Saturday morning call, I asked my dad how this tool functions. He advised me to wait until Michele comes home to teach me how to use it because he was afraid I might wack down my flowers (a fear I shared). Now, here's the problem: I want the yard to look beautiful WHEN Michele comes home, not AFTER. But I of course I listened to my dad and didn't attempt to use the weed wacker (at least not at first).

After our call, I went out and started to work on the yard (with no intention of weed wacking). Totally unsolicited, Rita came out and said, "Michelle, you can't just cut the grass. You need to trim around the edges with that wacker." (I swear it was the first thing she said to me!) I responded, "I know, but I don't know how to use it (and my dad told me not to try)." She kindly offered to do it for me - I love my neighbor! It actually went very well, except for the weed wacking of my leg. You may be wondering how my leg got weed wacked if I didn't use the weed wacker. That's a good question. You see, Rita offered to use the wacker, but couldn't see how to connect the extention cord - she wasn't wearing her glasses - so I did that part. Unfortunately, I had the wacking string too close to my leg and was holding down the start button when I plugged in the cord. It only wacked me a little - didn't even break the skin!

Rita did a very good job and after watching her, I took a shot at the backyard - no flowers to worry about cutting down. I did really well, if I do say so myself. The yards look fabulous! Rita and I also transplanted two lilac bushes from her backyard to my front yard. Her mother had planted several a few years back, but these two were too close to a fence. They now are placed to become a small hedgerow between our house and the neighbors on the other side. Lilacs are a big deal in Rochester, so now I feel like we're real Rochesterians! And I feel like a real gardener: I wacked weeds, cut grass, dug up and re-planted bushes, looked at growth in my veggie bed, got rid of dead wood from around my honeysuckle in the back, and removed two dandilions from my flower bed in front. I'm not a pro yet, but I am so much better than I ever thought I would be . . . and I'm having a lot of fun!

Friday, May 8, 2009

A Thing of Beauty and a Joy Forever

This afternoon, I went to see Star Trek (the latest movie, in case you are unenlightened). I have been excited about this movie for years - since the last movie, in fact. Then, when Michele went on the road, we made a plan to wait to see it when she came home. She'll be home for my birthday, so it was an ideal plan. I did not, however, take into account how painful it would be to wait to see it. Michele and I discussed it and decided it would be better for my health if I went to see it without her (I'm sure it has nothing to do with the fact that Michele HATES Star Trek - shocking, I know!). So, I took off work early today and went to see it. Amazing! A thing of beauty and a joy forever! My heart filled near to bursting and I am not ashamed to say I shed a tear or two just from the sheer joy of seeing my old friends before they became my old friends. Really a very lovely movie.

Though I could not wait for Michele to see Star Trek, I have been drawing on deep stores of will power to resist seeing X-Men before she comes home. It's been out a whole week and I have held myself back (of course the pain of waiting for X-Men is nothing compared to the pain of waiting the two days I did wait to see Star Trek). When Michele comes home, we have plans to see X-Men, Transformers, Angels and Demons, and another long awaited sequel: Terminator. Of course, to prepare for Terminator, Michele needs to watch all the previous Terminator movies - again, she's not a fan - which will be quite a birthday gift to me. She's never liked Arnold, but since he's not in this one it's not a problem (but don't get me started on how irresponsible to his fans I think he was when he decided to become governor. I mean he left the last movie primed for a sequel and then decides to run for office!! OK, OK, I won't get started.). Needless to say, we will have an action packed few days during Michele's first home time. Oh, and did I mention that we will be seeing Star Trek together when she gets home. I, of course, won't mind seeing it again and Michele insists on seeing it with me, so who am I to argue?

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Football Season

Football season started tonight. No, not college ball. Not the NFL, either. It's flag football season for me and my coworkers. A ragtag group of us get together and play what I think of as high contact flag football every Thursday, spring through fall, plus a couple of snow ball days in the winter. Surprisingly, I'm not half bad. I'm not half good either, but it's all relative. I get tackled almost every game. The thing is, there is usually no one near me when this tackling happens. Just one minute I'm up and running and the next I'm on the ground. But it's good exercise and a lot of fun. We take all of our aggression, frustration, irritation, and anger onto the gridiron to spare our other coworkers injury - which means in the winter time when we don't play there is danger afoot in the office. Tonight's game was a slaughter with my team winning 3 7/8 to 1 (we claimed the 7/8 because we really made a touchdown, but the other team insisted they "tackled" my teammate on the line - it's all good). I did happen to make a touchdown this game - not my first, though it was my first game with no injuries, so I think that counts as two touchdowns, don't you?

Gardening Lessons

Gardening is really good for me. It is teaching me patience, which is quite a feat because I am the least patient person I know! We planted many seeds in my vegetable bed and everything within me wants to know what is going on under the soil. I have been so tempted to dig something up just to see if anything is happening, but I have resisted the urge - see, I am already an expert at patience. I think gardening is also supposed to teach me something about letting go and letting God and nature work. That's happening, too. See, my first inclination is to put a screened cage around my vegetable bed to keep the bugs and animals out - it would still let the sun and water in, though! - but, again, I am resisting that temptation. I am believing that all will be well!

I should be in a children's book: See Michelle garden. See Michelle grow and change and be good. The adult version would be: See Michelle garden and attempt to overcome all her neuroses and accept that the growth of plants and presence of bugs and bunnies is entirely out of her control.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Something's Growing

I went out to my vegetable bed today to chat with the plants and check over things. Low and behold, it looks like there is something sprouting up from the garden beans section. Rita, my neighbor, says its impossible that something would be growing this soon, but I prefer to think that it is God saying "Hey, Michelle, your garden is gonna do alright!"

Monday, May 4, 2009

Haunted by Little Bunny Foo Foo

I've become obsessed with worrying about our garden. Our neighbor, Rita, told me that the bunnies will love the carrots and lettuce in the vegetable garden. At the time, I thought "Hmm, I've seen skunk and ground hogs in the backyard, but never bunnies. I don't need to worry about that." And I went along with the day. Well, on the way home from dropping Gloria off at the airport, I was driving down my street at 5:30 in the morning and there was a bunny sitting in the middle of the road. I looked at her, she looked at me, our eyes met and she seemed to say, "Thanks, Michelle, for putting all those yummy veggies in the ground for us. My fam and I will be eating like queens. See you 'round the veggie patch!" And then she hopped off. I swear I've thought of little else since. Well, ok, that's not true. I've also spent quite a bit of time obsessing about whether the vegetable and flower beds need to be watered and wondering if my veggie bed will be overrun with bugs and weeds. There's a lot to think (obsess) about as a gardener!!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Garden Miracles

My stepmother, Gloria, came for a visit this weekend to save my garden from my unskilled hands. I wanted to do something nice before Michele came home and she took pity on my yard, and me, and came out and worked miracles.

This is the left side of my planting area before Gloria's green thumbs, fingers, elbows, etc. etc. got ahold of it. This bed contained lots of weeds, one pitiful, bonsai-esque bush, and three savagely pruned bush wannabes. For some reason, Gloria has made me promise never to prune anything, ever, for any reason. I'm not sure why. In fact, my pruners seem to have gone missing. I know she couldn't have gotten them on the plane with her, so they must be hidden around here somewhere!

This is that same side now. Isn't it an amazing transformation! I'm actually responsible for the disappearance of the three pruning victims. I got to whip out my power tools and made quick work of getting rid of those. The rest was all Gloria.

We did most of the work in this bed on Friday afternoon. Then on Saturday, we added the blocks to protect the flowers from my insane lawnmowing skills. Then, in a fit of midnight gardening, we added the Marigolds - in the dark! I looked this morning, and they looked great!

On Friday, we also tackled the right side. This is how it looked before. Pretty barren and dead, right? Well, take a look at the "after."

We even lined the walkway with annuals and perennials - and I even know what those are now!

Michele and I now have one of the most envied yards on the street. In fact, a lady drove by and said that and we'd barely even started. We have azaleas and rhododendrons, and a whole bunch of other plants and flowers that I can't remember the name of - oh, wait, Marigolds, of course. And, we planted a Japanese Flowering Quince in the middle of the front yard - and I dug the hole for it!

We also put in a vegetable garden in the back yard. I picked out all the seeds and planted most of them, too! I'm calling it my salad garden, as I am growing tomatoes (not from seed), bell peppers (also, not from seed), cucumbers, zucchini, beans (not like kidney beans, but green beans, wax beans, and some purple/black green bean shaped beans), lettuce (five different kinds - and from seed! who ever knew lettuce had seeds!), and, of course, the crowning glory of the entire garden, CARROTS!!!!!! I can't wait to eat a carrot that I grew with my own two hands!!

Now my only task is to figure out the lawn. My favorite quote from the entire weekend was when Gloria said, "You all sure don't have much grass in your lawn." My second favorite quote is when Michele and I said, "Hey, if it's green and it's growing, it's grass!" And, yes, we both said it. I, in response to Gloria, and Michele later on the phone when I told her what Gloria said - hey, we're both Geminis named Michel(l)e, we can't help but think alike!! It is true, though, our lawns are full of weeds. I know I could poison them to get rid of the weeds, but I just don't like the thought of that. So, we'll probably keep considering everything growing out there grass and just leave it alone. Hey, at least the dandelions are my favorite color.

It was a wonderful weekend and I learned so much! I consider myself a gardener now, albeit a nervous one who has been banned from pruning. Thanks Gloria!! My skills and our garden are much improved!!


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