Thursday, December 18, 2014

Sometimes, I Am Startled Out Of Myself

Sometimes, I Am Startled Out of Myself,

like this morning,
when the wild geese came squawking,
flapping their rusty hinges, and something about their trek
across the sky made me think about my life, the places
of brokenness, the places of sorrow, the places where grief
has strung me out to dry. And then the geese come calling,
the leader falling back when tired, another taking her place.
Hope is borne on wings. Look at the trees. They turn to gold
for a grid while, then lose it all each November.

Thought the cold months, they stand, take the worst
weather has to offer. And still, they put out shy green leaves
come April, come May. The geese glide over the cornfields,
land on the pond with its sedges and reeds.

You do not have to be wise. Even a goose knows how to find
shelter, where the corn still lies in the stubble and dried stalks.

All we do is pass through here, the best way we can.
They stitch up the sky, and it is whole again.

~~Barbara Crooker

Monday, December 15, 2014

The Children Act

I've been on a roll lately with good books.  I've liked Ian McEwan's books in the past and I liked his latest one, The Children Act.  

Fiona Maye is a British High Court judge in the Family Division, and has spent the past 30 years building her career and reputation.  Here she is faced with deciding the case of a child with leukemia who is refusing a blood transfusion based on religious beliefs. Without the treatment, he will die, and Fiona must decide whether to overrule the family's wishes regarding the withholding of treatment. The Children's Act of 1989 directs her to rule in favor of the welfare of the child. Fiona takes her job very seriously and in one of the best scenes in the book, she visits the teenage boy in the hospital, where they have an interesting and emotional meeting. At the same time she is studying this case, she is dealing with a crisis in her marriage, and the realization of the sacrifices she has made in her personal life for her profession. 

“Welfare, happiness, well-being must embrace the philosophical concept of the good life. She listed some relevant ingredients, goals toward which a child might grow. Economic and moral freedom, virtue, compassion and altruism, satisfying work through engagement with demanding tasks, a flourishing network of personal relationships, earning the esteem of others, pursuing larger meanings to one’s existence, and having at the center of one’s life one or a small number of significant relations defined above all by love.“Yes, by this last essential she herself was failing.”

Friday, December 12, 2014

Winter Pots

I planted my winter pots this week, using greens from my garden and some winterberry and dogwood twigs I picked up in Pennsylvania last week. I make a grid with masking tape on the rim of the pot, and then just stick the greens through.  I wish I had some sparkly lighted twigs to stick in these pots for night-time--I just might have to look for those.  I don't do a lot of decorating outside, but I really like the natural look of these pots and the holiday color they bring to the front door.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Henry's Farm and Greenhouses

One of the reasons we went to PA last week, in addition to seeing Longwood Gardens, was to visit our new favorite nursery, Henry's Farm and Greenhouses in Holtwood, PA. When we were there in the spring, people told us we had to come back in December for their Christmas Open House, and so that's where we went on Friday, after our usual PA breakfast of Weaver's bacon, eggs,  and sticky buns. Henry's is a greenhouse filled to the brim with plants, and outside are all kinds of cool holidays plantings, pots, greens, berries, lots of things to make your own arrangements. Inside are the poinsettias, and all the planted containers.  They had a great selection of all kinds of varieties of poinsettias, all colors and sizes, and many unusual varieties.

We loved all their little containers of potted bulbs, poinsettias, and mosses. They plant in all kinds of cool vintage containers.

These birdseed doughnuts were so cute! Lucky birds!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Christmas at Longwood Gardens

Last week Eileen, Prudy, and I took a short road trip to see the Christmas displays at Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, PA. We stopped first at Terrain, a very fancy garden shop and restaurant in Glen Mill, PA, to get some inspiration. They had beautiful displays of Christmas greens and trees,  wreaths, arrangements, and tons of potted bulbs. That arrangement of white amaryllis in the copper tub (above) was absolutely gorgeous. After shopping around a bit, we had lunch in their garden cafe and then were on our way to Longwood to see the conservatory and the sparkly lights in the gardens.

We loved these orange chairs at Terrain

Christmas trees at Terrain


Pots at Terrain

Pots, vases, watering cans at Terrain

Potted hellebores at Terrain

Conservatory at Longwood

Prudy and Eileen at Longwood

Winterberry at Longwood

Conservatory at Longwood

Outdoor lights at Longwood

Outdoor fountain show at Longwood

Thursday, December 4, 2014

The Good News

The Good News, by Thich Nhat Hanh

The good news
They do not print.
The good news
We do print.
We have a special edition every moment,
And we need you to read it.
The good news is that you are alive,
That the linden tree is still there
Standing firm in the harsh Winter.
The good news is that you have wonderful eyes
To touch the blue sky.
The good new is that your child is there before you,
And your arms are available:
Hugging is possible.
They only print what is wrong.
Look at each of our special editions.
We always offer the things that are not wrong.
We want you to benefit from them
And help protect them.
The dandelion is there by the sidewalk,
Smiling its wondrous smile,
Singing the song of eternity.
Listen!  You have ears that can hear it.
Bow your head.
Listen to it.
Leave behind the world of sorrow
And preoccupation
And get free.
The latest good news
Is that you can do it.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Hyacinth Beans

I finally got around to picking all my hyacinth bean pods and saving the seeds. Every fall I try to remember to do this so that I don't have to buy seeds in the spring. I take the seeds out of the pods and put them on paper towels for a week or so, to make sure they are thoroughly dry.  I first saw hyacinth beans (Dolichos lablab) many, many years ago at Monticello. They were growing on the arbors over the vegetable garden and I just loved them. They are my favorite vine for covering a fence or an arbor.  I bought my first few packets of hyacinth beans at Monticello, and for many years I would order seeds directly from Monticello. Now they are more popular and many garden centers carry the seeds, but I still like to harvest my own~~when I remember.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Holiday Dishes!

I love the first day of December because it's the day I can take out my Christmas dishes.  I love having these dishes and and taking them out always helps to get me in the spirit.  No other decorations out yet,  I'm still amazed that Christmas is only 24 days away.  I guess it's time to pitch the pumpkins and start cutting the greens.

Julia and Walt after their Thanksgiving Day run