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This is why people should love spring

I woke up this morning, and, per my usual routine, checked my garden while I was getting ready for the day.  I know that there won’t much change since I checked it the night before, but the new growth is always exciting and joyful to see. (I really wanted to use the word ‘behold’ there, but that just seems too melodramatic.  Even for me.)

My newest addition, the fuchsia, came from NPS, and when I got it home, it looked like it.  There’s still a trail of dead leaves and blossoms leading from my parking space to my front door.  But, I got it in an environment that the internet tells me it loves, and watered it until it started pouring out of the drainage holes in the bottom of the pot (just for that first watering, I’ve been much more careful with water since then) and it perked right up.

I’ve even discovered what I think is new growth just since Saturday.   And yes, that’s a “for rent” sign in the back ground, so if anybody wants to be my neighbor…

The clover continues to look more clover-y every day.  Um, perhaps I should explain again why I’m growing clover on my third-floor balcony.

See, I have dogs.  And, in a perfect world, I would be out of the house from 8am to 5pm or longer five days a week. My dogs are 6 years old.  They are good to not potty in the house, but they are getting old, and I wanted somewhere where they could go to relieve themselves when I’m not home.  So I asked my brother-in-law to build me a box that I could plant grass in for my balcony.  After doing some research I decided that clover is more dog-resistant and would require less work.  So, I planted dutch white clover instead of grass.

The package the seeds came in said it was 98% clover seed, with no noxious weeds, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that I found a stranger in the yard-and-a-half.

I don’t know what that is, but I know it’s not clover.  I’m torn between weeding it out now, or waiting to see what it grows into.

Someone who reviewed the seeds from the place I ordered them from online said they found cilantro in their clover, so I’m hoping it’ll be a pleasant surprise.

Pansies are pansies, and they don’t change much, but I did get a nice back-lit picture of them:And I guess there are a lot more blossoms since the last time I took a picture of them.

The lily of the valley are getting noticeably bigger every day.  I’m pretty excited about them:

They actually look like plants, now!  Notice the straggling clover that found their way into the lily pot.

The blueberry bush was the real surprise.  It still looks mostly dead, but, new this morning, were ACTUAL GREEN LEAVES!

Hopefully, they’ll get opened up, and start producing enough energy to get the bush back to life quickly.  I want berries in August, dangit!

So, even with the clogged sinuses, the post-nasal drip, the sneezing, coughing, swollen, itchy eyes, and the nose rubbed raw from blowing it so much, I’m pretty excited about spring this morning.

Now, I’m off to play at Midway again.  Sis and I have a better idea of what we want to do today, so it should go better.

Someday, I’ll have a real garden. With handsome young men that I pay to do the weeding.

It’s mocking me.

The “New Post” button, it keeps mocking me.

“Corianne,” it says, “You don’t have anything to write about.  You phoned it in yesterday, and skipped the day before, and today, you don’t have anything.  Just give up.  Mwahahahahaha.”

Evil laughter in my head is a bit anti-climactic.

Perhaps that’s true, but what’s the point in setting a goal to write every day if you give up when things get hard? Anyway, evil “new post”  button, I DO have something to write about.  Something I’m very pleased about.  So there.

I’ve lived in my home for about three years now.  Long enough that I’ve finally got it through my head that my balcony faces east, and there are building right across from me, so it’s like I’m in a canyon.  I get a few hours of sunlight a day, but not enough for, say petunias and marigolds.

The apartment I lived in before I moved here faces west, with no trees or buildings to block the blast from the afternoon sun.  It is very nice in the winter, in the summer, though…

I lived there for three years as well, and tried my hand at gardening on that patio too.  It’s crazy that it’s taken me this long to switch my way of thinking about the plants I can grow from “heat hardy and likes sun” to “prefers cool and shady” but I think I managed this year.

The clover’s come in nicely, and I think it’s to the point where I can’t call it baby clover anymore, but they’re not to maturity yet, so adolescent clover?  Teenage clover? Either way, I’m impressed with my seed-growing abilities that it’s survived thus far.

Well, minus the spots where Max scratches after he goes potty…

My pansies are still happy, but pansies are always happy until it gets too hot right?  You can’t really see it but there is a pansy in bloom in the bottom left corner of the yard-and-a-half.

The lily-of-the valley appear to be doing well, despite the pot that they’re in being Lulu’s favorite spot to sit and bark at the world (really little girl?  Do we need to have another discussion about the big white box just to the right of the lily container?)

I guess my blueberry bush is doing okay.  I’ve got new growth, and most of last year’s growth has fallen off.  I feel like it should be blooming by now, but, as the only time I’ve ever lived anywhere with soil acidic enough to grow blueberries was on my mission, so I don’t know anything about their growing habits.

I’m remembering that I got my blueberry for my birthday last year, and there wasn’t many leaves or blossoms on it then, and my birthday is still a week away.  So, I’m not going to be too concerned.  Really.

I want to grow more things that I can eat, but I don’t get enough sun for tomatoes, or any other vegetable that I can think of and know does well in containers.

It doesn’t help when I muse out loud stuff like “Do peas need a lot of sun?” and Mom says “Just plant peas at my house, and come down to take care of them.”  Sorry Mom, but driving an hour and a half to take care of someone else’s garden?   That’s just not appealing.

Anyway, I’m quite pleased with my little garden, especially the clover that I’ve grown from seeds, and the blueberry that I kept alive over the winter.

There’s something about growing plants that just makes you happy, and during this rough week I’ve had, I’ve been grateful for my plants, and my little dogs, both of which have done a great job of cheering me up.

Lessons From the Flower Pot

Today (yesterday, I suppose, it’ll be after midnight by the time I get this post finished) was a rough day.  I can’t even really say why.  It was warm enough that I’ve still got a window open and the furnace turned off, the dogs have been behaving, and frankly, I’ve done everything right.  Today should have been a good day, it just didn’t turn out that way.

I discovered something today (er, yesterday) that should have put me over the moon.

A while back, I made the mistake of wandering through the garden section at Wal-Mart, and was dreaming over the seeds and bulbs and gardening tools.  I found some lily of the valley rhizomes; five in a pack for white, two in a pack for pink, and, despite my bad luck with growing bulbs from Wallyworld in the past, I bought some.  Pink–because I’ve never seen pink lily of the valley, and the pot that I put them in isn’t big enough for five rhizomes.

This was about the time that I sowed the clover for the first time, and I’ve been sure to keep the lilies in a place where they won’t be affected by frost.  I haven’t really thought much about them, but I have watered them when I’ve watered my clover and the blueberry bush.  Today (er, yesterday), I noticed a couple of teeny tiny sprouts pushing their way out of the dirt.  Right now, if I didn’t know they were lily of the valley, I’d just be able to identify them as a bulb plant, but not the species.  Again, I’m putting a lot of faith in myself that I’ll be able to keep these baby plants alive until adulthood, and on through next year.

I was thinking about my little patio garden, and how incongruous gardening is in this modern world.  My lilies, for example.  They’ve probably been growing since the day I planted them, but I couldn’t see it happening, so I assumed it wasn’t.

I thought about how things happen below the surface.  We live in a world of progress bars and instant gratification.  It would be nice if plants came with such things, but, unfortunately, we have to take it on faith that, for instance, the Wal-Mart plants will grow and thrive.

Because I do stuff like this I compared it to my own life.  Just because I can’t see progress in the things I have no control over, doesn’t mean that progress hasn’t been made.  Roots need to get established before a plant pokes its head out of the ground.  They need strength before they face the world of heat and cold and dog pee.

It’s hard for me to remember that life very rarely (okay, practically never) runs on the timeline that I would like.  Patience has never been one of my strong suites, and has been one of the constant lessons in my life.

Of course, I realize this analogy completely falls apart if I don’t manage to grow my lilies into adulthood…

Arachnophobes, beware.

Blame it on my father.

I recently freaked out quite a few of my Facebook friends by admitting that I find certain spiders cute–mostly jumping spiders.

I understand the aversion that most people have to spiders–they look alien, there eating habits are not to be observed by the squeamish, and, some of them bite, with painful and possibly deadly results.

Growing up in the middle of nowhere, nature was an effective classroom for Sis and me.  My dad would find spiders and snakes and lizards and show them to us, and teach us about them.  I’ve never seen Dad willingly kill a spider, he’ll catch them–bare handed, mind you, and gently take them outside.

Frankly, I’d rather have spiders in my home than insects.

Overcoming fear is always a good thing, right?  I’d suggest to any readers I might not have yet scared off to learn what the venomous spiders in your area look like, then start exploring the world of miniature.

And remember, spiders, in general, aren’t interested in attacking humans.  We are much too big to eat, so any bites or attacks come because the spider feels threatened.

Okay, the preview function has shown that I have rambled enough that any pictures now posted won’t show up when people open up “The Storyteller Chronicles”, so here are some of my favorite local spiders.

A quick thanks to Amazing Nature, Arachnids of Utah and Wild Utah Spiders for providing most of the pictures.

I was disappointed that I couldn’t find images of my two very favorite spiders, a yellow orb weaver that is not only beautiful, but weaves a beautiful web, and the cute little black and white jumping spider that I’ve only ever seen around my parent’s house.  Anyway, on to the pictures:

This picture, I think, single-handedly proves that spiders can be beautiful.  It’s a goldenrod crab spider, waiting inside a flower (Sis, that’s your cue to tell me what that flower is) for a tasty insect.

Goldenrod crab spiders are amazing, because they can change color.  Here’s the same type of spider in its yellow form:

I love how the red/orange stripe just pops on both spiders.

Okay, on to the jumpers.

Who doesn’t love these?  Besides having an adorable face, they are amazing to watch, and, if you are lucky enough, quite fun to play with.

There eyes fascinate me.  I think the eyes are what draw me to spiders.  The way they see the world is so different from the way we do–but very effectively, too.  If you’ve ever seen a jumping spider skitter and jump in reaction to stimuli from any direction, you understand what I mean.

This is another jumping spider, but the woman who took this picture didn’t know what kind.  It’s a juvenile, proving that even spiders have cute kids.  Here’s another view:

Those rust-colored markings are just gorgeous!

Orb weaver spiders are another showcase for mother nature’s beautiful colors.  This particular beauty was found in Riverton, Utah.  Orb weavers are responsible for the classic circular spiderwebs.  Next time you see one,  I suggest trying to find the architect.  Chances are, you won’t be disappointedOkay, so the cat-faced spider isn’t one that I would consider especially beautiful, but take a look at the markings on her abdomen.  There’s a smiley face!  How can you not love a creature that walks around with a smiley face?

This last one is a neoscona, a spotted orb weaver.  Look at the patterns on her back!  Carol Davis, who took this picture, thought it looked like a Persian rug.  If a four-legged creature had such markings, fashionable ladies throughout the centuries would be wearing the skin.

So have I convinced you not to run away screaming the next time you see a spider?  Or smash it, or flush it down the toilet?

Well, that’s okay too.  Just take another look, and be aware that there is beauty to be found even in the creepy-crawly things of life.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to go read Charlotte’s Web again.

we have GERMINATION!

I decided to take a good long look at my patio garden this year, and really think about what plants would do best with the little bit of sunlight that I have each day.  Also, new this year, is the yard-and-a-half, a box that I asked my sister and brother-in-law for for Christmas, where the dogs can go and potty when I’m not home during the day.  The picket fence was a bonus.

After some research, I decided that dutch white clover would be a better choice than grass–it’s more resistant to dogs, and wouldn’t require “mowing”.  However, I did want something the dogs could munch on if their stomachs were upset, so I planted some wheat grass in an old bulb pot I had. (I noticed that if I went to a pet store and bought “pet grass” it would cost $4.50.  If I went to the grocery store and bought wheat grass for human consumption it would cost $1.50)

I ordered some clover seed online, (paying twice as much for shipping as for the actual seeds.  I’m a little bitter about that.) and sowed my yard and a half.

I fully acknowledge that while I love gardening, I struggle with growing plants from seeds (except weeds, for some reason).  So, I’ve sown the seeds, then, the first thing I would do each morning would be to check the yard-and-a-half to see if they had germinated.  After a few weeks without seeing any green, I resowed.  This happened twice.  I was beginning to despair a bit–and wonder how a girl who technically lived on a farm until she was eight (we didn’t have any crops, just a feed lot in the back yard) and came from a long line of farmers on both sides could fail to grow anything from seeds, until, upon checking the yard-and-a-half this morning, I saw this:

the orangish balls are seeds that haven’t germinated yet, so you can see how tiny these plants are.

I had a horrible night last night–the migraine made sleeping hard, as did the changed acoustics of having my bed on the other side of the room. (Seriously, the trains and traffic are much louder than they were three days ago.)  Seeing these seedlings this morning cheered me up incredibly.

Now comes the part that I really struggle with–keeping these little baby plants alive until they reach maturity.

Making weak things strong

Somehow, I got talked into going to my parent’s house for a couple of days.  It’s like they read this blog, and saw that I was going crazy(er) sitting around my house just talking to the dogs.

My parents bought the house they are living in now from my grandparents–it’s been in the family since it was built.  Because of this, I know a ridiculous amount about the history of the house–I know that the bedroom that I say in when I visit was built for my mom’s two youngest brothers to share, I know which of my uncles was stupidly playing with a shotgun inside, and put holes in the rec room ceiling–and that those holes didn’t get patched to serve as a warning/reminder long after that uncle moved out, had children, then his children had time to grow up.

At my parents house, there is a honey locust tree that has been there since before I was born.  This tree split in a storm in the early 80’s, so Grandpa bolted the two parts of the trunk together.

Over the years, the tree with the bolt in it fascinated me.  It has not only survived the last thirty years, it’s thrived.  The tree has “eaten” the bolt, to the point now you can tell there was something there, but not what it is.

I was thinking about this tree last night, and a scripture from the Book of Mormon came to mind, specifically, Ether 12:26-27

And when I had said this, the Lord spake unto me, saying: Fools mock, but they shall mourn; and my grace is sufficient for the meek, that they shall take no advantage of your weakness;
And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.

I always wondered how weak things could become strong.  I never doubted, because I know that with God, all things are possible.

The split in the tree was possibly fatal to it, but after it was bolted together, it grew fast and strong and tall, and is now one of the healthiest trees in my parent’s yard. What once was a weakness is now a strength.

I feel like there are so many weaknesses in my life, and so  few strengths.  I have so far to go–but I guess that I’ve come a long way too.

Okay, I can do this.  I can.

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