Why You Need a Landscape Designer (or Architect)

Here’s a shocker. Most homeowners (especially women, sorry gal-friends) do not know if they live in the sun or the shade.

How do I know this? I work in a garden retail center.

Every Saturday couples wake up, and decide that today is the day they’re going to get their yard work done. Trees, shrubs, perennials, all planted and mulched (just like the Home Depot commercials). So, off they go to the nursery.

Now, mind you, they’ve already broken rule number one in any project. They haven’t talked about the yard yet. No late night or early morning breakfast discussions on what they both like, or more importantly, don’t like. (Couples live under the delusion, no matter how many years into a good marriage, that they like the same things.)

So, upon arriving at the nursery, the wife heads straight to anything that is blooming. Generally, the perennials (which are a ton of work). She starts picking up this and that, and saying, “Oh, how pretty.” Here’s where I step in. “Do you have sun or shade?” I ask.

The wife, “Full sun.”

The husband, “Some sun, more morning than not.” Then he looks at his wife as if she’s grown a third eye in the middle of her forehead.

I break the bad news to her. “That plant requires full sun,” I say.

She doesn’t hear me. She’s already envisioning a field of these perennials blooming in her yard. She’s imagining hosting weekend company (something she rarely, if ever, does), and cutting them to arrange artfully in vases for the guest rooms.

To emphasize, I say, “You know, like parking lot sun.”

This stops her (I am nothing if not descriptive).

I continue, “Like five to six hours of middle of the day, no trees around, no houses, no sheds, no garages, NOTHING but blazing sun, for five to six hours,” I have a very serious look on my face, because I know who will be back in the nursery in a few weeks, telling me that her flowers aren’t blooming.

She says, “We have that.”

Her husband nearly goes insane with this declaration, but but he maintains because I’m standing there. “We practically live in a forest,” he says.

“My peonies bloom,” she responds.

At this point, I suggest they talk a bit, while I go busy myself with something else. They agree, and head toward the back of the nursery, trying to communicate just like the counselor taught them. It does not look promising.

The back of my house faces the side of my neighbor’s house. Between our houses is a picket fence, a chain link fence, two very large cherry trees that completely shade my back yard (I mean completely), and a very large sycamore that completely shades her back yard (again, I mean, completely). Yet, without fail, in that space between our houses, she plants daylilies, cone flowers, shasta daisies, and roses. Basically, any plant that requires full (parking lot full) sun. I watch her from my bedroom window as she tends to these bedraggled, pitiful, non-blooming plants. Well, I’ll correct myself. Sometimes, they do manage one or two blooms. I suppose it’s all relative.

I want tell her, while gesturing with sweeping arms, this is ALL SHADE. I imagine myself saying SHADE like I would to an old person who is hard of hearing, although she is neither.

I have a client whose garden will be on tour this year. It’s a big deal, and I’m helping her get ready. We fight constantly over whether she has sun or shade. She swears she has full sun. I sound like the garden center husband when I tell her, “You practically live in a forest,” Actually, she does live in a forest. I’m just trying to be polite, and get paid.

She says, “My peonies bloom.”

And, they do. About three blooms per shrub, for which she paid $86 a shrub, for a total of three shrubs, or $258.

This isn’t the only reason why most homeowners need a landscape designer, but it is a very good one. If you don’t know whether you live in the sun or the shade, you need help, because that is going to determine what you plant (and yes, ladies, there are a lot of shade blooming plants).

The rule of thumb is 15-20% of the value of your home should be spent on the yard. Before your jaw falls open, especially if you are currently building a home in the range of a million or more, consider that the costs includes hardscapping (driveways, terracing, stone steps, patios, rock walls, drainage, etc.), and all this before you even get to plants and mulch.

So, before you consider a DIY yard, consider a designer. They need the work, and you need a happy marriage, which grows best in sun or shade so long as professionals are doing the work..

What I Learned from the Lie I Told Today

Today, I told a lie.

I didn’t start my day intending to tell a lie. It happened the way lies often do. I had a doctor’s appointment (I have like ten this week), and the attending doctor made an assumption about me. It was a very nice assumption. I have no idea why he made it, but here’s where the lie came in. I let him assume it. At first, I was going to correct him, but he walks really fast. And, before I realized what he had wrongly concluded about me, he was miles ahead of me down his doctor’s hallway. Time is money, I suppose.

I would have had to holler the truth to his back. In the hallway. With a billion other patients/nurses/etc. around. So, I determined to wait until we got into the examining room. But, turns out he’s a chatty thing, so he was off to other things. I would’ve had to interrupt him. (So, really the lie was all his fault. I mean, he walks fast, he talks fast. I can’t be blamed for that, right?)

Still, I had countless opportunities to correct his assumption, because HE KEPT BRINGING IT UP. But, I did not.

I felt horrible, and made plans to switch doctors immediately after the exam. Maybe in Greenville, the next town over, about an hour away. Or perhaps, somewhere in Idaho. We’ll see.

But, as I was waiting to pay my bill, I wondered about my lie. What was it about that lie that made me want to hold onto it? What does that say about me? (And, no, while I confess to lying, I don’t plan on telling you what the lie was. So don’t ask.)

Here’s what I unearthed about myself as I reflected on my lie:

1. It made me feel special. Important. Not just some girl who works at a local garden center, and wonders how to pay her bills every month, while spending almost all of her time alone. For the 48 minutes I was in that visit, I felt like I mattered.

2. This particular lie brings up an old dream. I don’t mean a recurring nighttime dream, but a life-long dream that began as a teenager. I didn’t want to let it go, and for a minute (not all 48 I will say, I’m not that crazy) I believed it myself. It became real to my heart, again.

3. I don’t have a long list of accomplishments. Doing my resume requires some very creative writing skills (which thankfully, I possess) because I spent most of my “productive years” raising my boys. That lie would look really good on a resume. It would be one of those things they’d list in your obituary. Everyone at my funeral would say, “She was so smart, and she did so much with her life. What a shame she died so young (99), just think what contributions she still had to make.” The doctor believed I was an accomplished person. That was nice.

4. I was embarrassed to straighten him out. What would he think of me, then? Would I go from some one he was slightly impressed with to just any old body? And, why did I wait until so long to correct him? It’s called pride if you’re looking for a word.

I know, you’re thinking, you came up with all that while waiting to pay? Yep. The folks in front of me had Medicaid, if that answers that question. I don’t have Medicaid, and I paid in cash. (I don’t even want them to find me with a check, or debit card.) But, I  got a 20% discount.

Driving away from my appointment (much faster than the speed bumps allowed), I concluded that if it was so important to me to feel accomplished, why not accomplish something? Or if it was a dream of mine at age 15 (and evidently, even now), why not achieve it now? Or is there another dream that could take its place? At 55, I often feel like that the “hay is in the barn.” But, is it?

Would I rather pretend that I’m ALL THAT, or be ALL THAT?

But the biggest thing my lie taught me is this: That I’ve been believing a lie, myself. Like the doctor, I have made my own assumption. I’ve assumed that a mundane life stretches out before me. That the next 30+ years is just more of the same; more work than I can physically do, more bills than I have money to pay, and more time alone. My fear is that there is no end to the monotony of life, That there is nothing to look forward too. For a girl who dreamed big, and has an adventuresome spirit, that is one big lie to buy into.

If I could say anything to the fast-walking, fast-talking doctor it would be thank you. Thank you for helping me uncover some pretty, big lies today. Oh, and by the way, I’m not who you think I am.

Needing An Exit Level Income On An Entry Level Job

Here’s what I wake up each day trying to figure out: how to make more money.

Okay. When you’re finished laughing, read on.

See, I did the dumbest, but also the best thing. I left my job when my second child was one, and stayed home for 16 years, until my ex decided to become my ex. At that point, it was back to the work force. But I didn’t need just any old job. I needed an exit level income at an entry level job.

I am sitting here now contemplating the enormity of that. I am also eating Girl Scout Thin Mint Cookies,

Here’s what happened in the 17 years I was out of the work force: the internet.

I wish I was kidding when I say I left my job the week the fax machine was installed. The staff stood around that new, odd looking phone-machine and stared. So, you just dial a number, and insert the paper, and it sends all that information OVER THE PHONE LINE, to another person? Huh. Amazing.

We were excited as the trainer from the fax company explained how to use the new technology.  The fax was given a place of honor right outside my office door, on an old desk, that was mostly covered with stacks of outdated magazines. That way it was accessible to everyone. I was actually very nervous to try it, and sort of glad that my last day was the next day. That meant I didn’t have to learn how to use something that was so obviously complicated.

Let’s call it a foreshadowing of things to come, because when I walked back in that work door, I was faced with smart phones, tablets, IPADs, and virtual everything.

Here’s the facts:

1. Worst market in years to get a job in.

2. I’m 55.

3. Technology that somehow my grandchildren can comprehend, but I am lost.

4. Competing for jobs with 20 somethings who aren’t paying college tuition for their youngest kids.

5. Wondering how long I can work before the health just goes. (So far, so good, on that one, but these Thin Mints are probably not helping.)

6. Wishing filling out job applications wasn’t an on-line thing because honestly, I can barely see the questions on the screen.

7. Wishing I had gone to trade school, and skipped the whole Furman college thing. I paid Carlos, the plumber, 100 dollars for about 15 minutes of work. I was happy to do so. His service was appreciated.

Here’s what I’m learning. Earning money is not easy. Like my dad said, (and many others), “Money does not grow on trees.” No, it does not. And, evidently it never has. It must have been as hard for my parents to earn money as it is for me, now.

But, I wonder if I am smart enough to beat the system? Is there really another way than to just begin?

I have the entry level job. So, here’s hoping it leads to the next job, and then the next, and the next. Until what? Until I have an exit level income, so I can exit the workforce, again.

I should probably point out that I’ll be about 80, by then. And likely, exiting more than just the workforce.


I Want Perfect Children

I want perfect children.

Parents always say, oh, I don’t expect my children to be perfect. I just want them to be….whatever. Whatever. I actually want mine to be perfect.

And, I don’t even like perfect people. They’re boring. Dull. I mean who writes books about perfect people? Nobody. It’s the flaws that make people interesting. It’s the flaws that make my children interesting. They aren’t nearly as cool, fun, quirky people without their less-than-perfect-traits. We have a family language developed around the imperfections of the four of us. Our private family jokes, our most cherished memories, our we-finish-each-other-sentences-moments come not from the times of perfect accomplishments, but from the almost-there efforts. Who doesn’t love the wrong notes played on the cello in the middle of the 5th grade symphony? It is the sum of the less-thans that form the perfection of my children. It is those not-quites that create the unique individuals I call my children (adult children now). It is their oddities that I love most.

So why am I screaming for perfect children?

Because I want some sleep. (Let me add that I write this at 4:07 a.m. Take your best guess on why.)

Because if they’re perfect, then I never have to worry about them, right?

Because it is my heart’s desire for them to be safe. To be happy. To be secure. To be okay, and its easy to get all those things mixed with up the word perfect.

Because here’s the dilemma:  I am no longer in charge of them.

Maybe, write that sentence again: I AM NO LONGER IN CHARGE OF THEM.

When they were 10 and 5 making not-the-best-choice held its consequences, but not life-changing, or possibly, deadly ones. Now at 24 and 20, a misstep can have a lifetime of man-I-screwed-that-up attached to it. Having a of few of my own, man-I-screwed-that-up moments, (that never really go away) I dread the thought of it for them. Mom doesn’t show up to right the wrongs anymore, because little boys only need a Batman band-aid and a kiss on the head, and off they go. Big boys need courage, perseverance  foresight, wisdom, the ability to stand against their peers when needed, the faith to stand where others will not sometimes. Big boys have wives and children of their own. (The oldest has a 2 year old, Miss Priss, and an almost 2 week old, SJ, and they are perfect. Thank God.) They are the providers and guiders now. They live in big people world now, with yes, big rewards, but, sadly, big consequences, too. My ex says he wishes kids matured in dog-years. I wish I did too.

My kids say, “Mom, you worry too much.” (Oh, I do not. Isn’t every mother up at 4:27 a.m. writing a blog about her kids?) They say, “You did your job, Now trust us to do ours.”

Okay, so yeah. It is their turn now. It is their time to see how they fare away from home where Mom and Dad kept a vigilant watch. And, I get that. I just don’t feel that. It is in my head as exactly what parents are supposed to do when their kids become adults, but it hasn’t reached my heart yet. I am still keeping that vigilant watch, and they are long gone. Hence, the kid-sleep-insomnia.

While other parents said good-bye, and rolled over for a well-deserved nap, or got dressed for a night on the town, I am only beginning to understand. They’re gone. And, now it is their turn to shine, and yes, make their mistakes. 

So, what’s the slightly obsessed mother to do? Pray.

Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord, my grown children to keep.(My grown children who aren’t perfect, but come pretty darn close. )


A List of What I Did Not Do Today

I did not do my taxes.

I did not finish my school work (taking a class from Cornell, sounds so smart, doesn’t it?).

I did not go outside to enjoy the spring air, and prune the cherry trees.

I did not fix myself a very healthy lunch, and eat it. I drank lattes.

I did not update my budget by putting my expenses into their categories.

I did not vacuum up the dog hair that is all over my house.

I did not work out.

I did not do my morning devotions, morning yoga, call the pharmacist, the college or the doctor.

I didn’t even go shopping for the microwave splatter-cover thing. (How does one lose one of those?)

I did wake up and bury my head in my pillow, while crying, “I don’t want to get up. I don’t like it out there. Let me stay here.” I have no idea to whom I was speaking since I live alone, but, I did repeat that over and over, while in the fetal position.

So, today doesn’t tally up on Cinthia’s timeline as a productive day, (I can always state the obvious, can’t I?), despite the fact that I eventually got up, took a shower, and even walked the dog. Mostly today, I talked on the phone to my friend, Debbie N., and stared out the window. So, I not only messed up my productive day. I messed up her’s. You’re welcome, Debbie.

Here’s what I have to say about being productive: I don’t like it.

Who’s to say staring out the window isn’t being productive, anyway? Since, we’re on that topic.

I used to be an avid rock climber. I climbed every rock from Yosemite to Looking Glass. It was fun. You know why? Because on that rock, with 500 sheer feet below me, endless, unseeable feet above me, and nothing but me in that tight, but very open space, I couldn’t stop to consider if I vacuumed before leaving the house, or if the taxes were mailed, all I could think about was my next move. I was there. I had to be. It was thrilling not because I was hanging onto some rock by my fingertips, but because my brain was completely engaged in that moment. There was no multi-tasking going on. It was total focus. I loved it.

I have a friend who takes pictures, and she says, “My best pictures are the ones I take when I am completely in the moment, not the subject, but me. When I am fully present, the pictures are always amazing.” That makes sense to me. How can you “capture the moment” if you aren’t in it?

There is this feeling I get when things get out of whack. You know, when I’m being all-productive-all-the-time. It ends with me in the fetal position crying into my pillow. While that may seem silly to some of you (and perfectly normal to others, thank God), I think I need to listen to that part of me. People scream to be heard, and while that isn’t the best form of communication, how else does the part of me that desperately needs a break, convince my SHOULD SELF that a break is needed? My continual checklist doesn’t include hanging out with friends, watching a movie, taking a long lunch, or walking the dog by the river. I do sometimes do those things, but not nearly as often as I should, and really, not until I am so exhausted I’m staring out windows, and bugging friends who are trying to work.

I used to have the quote highlighted below taped to my computer. I think I SHOULD tape it there again. It’s a good reminder that staring out windows, climbing rocks, or taking pictures, helps all of us to better see the lack of harmony and proportion between life and work.

“Every now and then go away, have a little relaxation, for when you come back to your work your judgment will be surer. Go some distance away because then the work appears smaller and more of it can be taken in at a glance and a lack of harmony and proportion is more readily seen.” 
― Leonardo da Vinci

So tomorrow? No to-do list. Aggie and I are hiking the Davidson River. That’s her definition of a productive day.

From Handyman to Google

Image representing Google as depicted in Crunc...

Image via CrunchBase

My ex is a man who can fix anything. In almost 25 years of marriage, he was never stumped. He never proclaimed that this project was beyond his ability. We never called a plumber, electrician, furnace repair guy or even, a vet. And, just as good, while some men can fix, but are too lazy too, my ex took pride in “staying on top of things.” Definitely the kind of man a girl wants to marry. You hear what I’m saying.

I got so spoiled by that particular attribute that when he left, and I  moved into a home of my own, I couldn’t unstop a toilet. Not that I wanted too, but when it’s needed, that is a skill you want to possess.

A big thanks to my friend, Debbie N., for walking me through that not-as-complicated-as-you’d-think-but-I-still-hope-to-never-do-it-again, task. Mad skills, girl, mad skills.

So, from the guy who could refinish furniture to look better than brand new, or keep the same lawn mower going for 25 years, to living single in a brick rancher (I really wanted to say in a double-wide), what’s a girl to do? Google it.To my utter amazement, I might add.

Here’s a list of some of the things we’ve googled this year. (My 19 year old son lives with me, hence the “we”. He did not inherit the fix-it trait from his father.)

1. How to unlock the bathroom door from the outside. Picture this. My Bonus Daughter goes into the bathroom and locks the door. She comes out but somehow the door is still locked. She shuts it. We have one bathroom. We can’t open the door, and there are no windows to crawl through. We google for a solution. You wouldn’t believe the YouTube videos with step-by-step instruction on this one. I mean, this seems like a one in a million thing to me, but I guess people are locking themselves out of their bathrooms daily. (Btw, you did not hear it from me that she locked us all out of the one bathroom. Just sayin…)

2. How to get a bird out of the house. LIttle Kitty managed to capture a very big bird, wrestle it between her teeth, drag it up a flight of stairs, through a kitty door, and into my bedroom for my good morning treat. My screams woke everyone up, even the neighbors who keep the blinds shut tight. I saw a peep from them. Again, google it. It’s all there. Removing one bird, or several if that’s the case. Seriously, birds. It’s a cat. Fly away. How many times does this have to happen?

3. How to mount the flat screen tv on the wall. This one gets a  #googlefail. Here’s why. 10 billion men decided to do a video on how to mount the tv. None of them are in agreement on the proper way to install the mount. Need I say more?

4. How to unstop the toilet when the plunger just won’t work. There are several options here. Turns out our toilet has a strange hump (picture a camel’s back) in its bowels, so the many possibilities that included everything from coat hangers, to the vacuum cleaner method (please don’t use your household vacuum for this job, its a wet/dry deal people), to vinegar, did not work. The plumber was called, though again, a shout out to Debbie N. who seems to know a lot about toilets.

5. Which direction to string a weed-eater.  Please refer to #3 above. Too many thoughts on this one. I mean, there is only one way, right?

6. Which cables go to which part of the battery when jump starting a car. IPADS are best for this tricky, and potentially dangerous one. You hold the IPAD with one hand, and while watching the video, connect the cables with the other hand. And, hope your neighbors aren’t watching.

7. How to get snakes out from under the house. I cannot talk about this one. I go catatonic.

Here’s what I’m thinking. I’m glad I got divorced post-internet. What the heck did a girl did prior to Yahoo or Google or Bing?


Wow. My Cup Runneth Over.

Wow. I am hugely touched by all of you! So many of you reached out to me, letting me know that yesterday’s blog post spoke to you. You shared some of your truthful things with me, and one beautiful woman sent me her list of 7. I will always cherish that.

Here’s what I want to say to all of you: I love you. So very deeply.

Funny how that works, right?

We try so hard to be perfect, or at least, keep our flaws in check. We try to make sure no one finds out we’re crazy. (That’s my #8, truly terrified that I’m certifiably crazy.) Why? So, we’ll be loved.

But, life is one big dichotomy. We hoard our secrets close, and all that accomplishes is keeping people at arm’s distance. But, we tell our deepest fears, the things we don’t really like about ourselves, and it brings people closer. They lean in to hear us, because they hear themselves in our words. They have a list of 7 too.

But here’s what I’m not going to do.

I’m not going to say you’re wrong.

I’m not going to tell you that you’re brave when you said you were scared.

Instead, I’m going to honor what’s in your heart, and tell you that I’m afraid too.

But, let’s keep swimming. (Yeah, I love Finding Nemo.) I’ll swim with you. I’ll do the journey with you. And, I promise to be honest along the way, if you promise to be honest too. Because somehow, knowing I am not the only one with a list of 7 makes me feel stronger, a bit more sure, a little less crazy. It makes me think this life is do-able, after all. So thank you for that.

And here’s what else I promise you:

1. I promise not to pretend I have it all together.

2. I promise to be honest about my fears. (Like now, I’m almost 55, will I accomplish ANYTHING before I die. Does it even matter?)

3. I promise to encourage you, and please encourage me. Life is hard. Faith is hard. Sometimes, I hear a song about giving it all to Jesus (that Mandisa song), and all I can think is, exactly what does that look like? Will someone please tell me what that looks like? I just want to call her up and say, “Mandisa, what does that look like?” (And btw, Mandisa, you look fabulous with the weight loss. Really. Way to go, girl.)

4. Lastly, I promise to be your friend no matter what is on your list of 7.

I love you all. You are powerful, wonderful, devoted, godly women, who are living life fully. May I be like each of you. My cup runneth over.

PS I’d love to publish some of the lists of 7s (anonymously). If you’re up for it, send them to me. (It doesn’t have to be 7, it can be 2 or even 1). I think it would be great to see how similar we all are, how flawed and beautiful at the same time. You can send them to me privately, cinthiamilner@gmail.com, or do the hashtag thing, #listof7. and tweet it or instagram it, or whatever you do. (@CinthiaMilner)

7 Truthful Things About Me; 7 Being the Perfect Number

I’m sick. After a visit with the grandkids, who were completely healthy, and my son and daughter-in-law (it was the son who was sick), I came home with lethargy and laryngitis. Translated that means, I am in my favorite tights, favorite long, blue sweater, and socks with dog paws on them. The socks can be number one on the ten things you wish you didn’t know about me list, if you like.

So, for kicks, lying in my sick bed, I thought I’d just be truthful. As opposed to being that person that tries so dang hard to appear she has it all together. So, here goes. Seven truthful things about me.

1. I do and I don’t like myself. At almost 55, I can give myself a break on most things, but at the same time, at almost 55, I can see clearly now….the idiotic things I did, and how easy it would have been to do them differently. #1 thing I wish I had done differently: Listen to my mom. Bottom line: she was right. #2 thing I wish I had done differently: not be such a know-it-all. Guess what? Other people (even spouses, even ex-spouses) are right sometimes, or rather, are right a lot of the time.

2. I think about my weight as much as a 19 year old boy thinks about sex. Every morsel of food that goes into my body is measured, not by some food/ounce scale, but by the scales in my mind. Every calorie is counted, every crumb weighed, every carb considered. Its exhausting. #1 reason why this is stupid: it just is.

3. I’m all or nothing. Which would be okay, if the all was in the good spectrum, and the nothing meant avoiding the bad. #1 reason this has proven not to be a good thing: too much wasted time on projects/people that proved futile.

4. I can’t tell a joke, and you have to explain jokes to me. This one needs no further commenting.

5. I don’t always like my kids. In my defense, I did like them when they were little, and I mostly like them now. But there are days, that I just hate having adult kids. If I wasn’t wishing my life away, I’d be begging God to jump the next ten years, and let’s just get to the 30’s. #1 thing I don’t like about adult kids: They don’t listen to their mother (refer to number one to see who they get that from).

6. I am so not a detail oriented person that it is possible I will skip a number in this list. This means, I will miss my exit, I will burn dinner, or forget to pay that bill, or forget your birthday (though I am generous so your make-up gift will be awesome), or just not hear that last instruction. #1 reason why I don’t care that I’m not a detail oriented person: I hate details.

7.  I am horribly fearful.  Honestly. People are always telling me how brave I am, but really, I am not. I don’t mean like afraid of the dark, or monsters. I wish monsters were all there was to be fearful of. No, I’m afraid of being alone. Not like, single-without-a-guy alone, but more like, doing life on my own. Am I smart enough to make good decisions about money, work, houses, kids, health, LIFE? #1 way I deal with this: close my eyes and make a decision, while praying.

Make it 8. I am getting ready to watch Emma (the one with G.Paltrow) for the 10 billionth time. Yes, I do like J.Austen.

So, there’s my 7. How about you?

Half Way Through My Sleep Fest; Stop Yakking about Spring; Stealing Back my Itoh Peony

I’m a little more than halfway through my sleep fest, which started Jan 1, and will end whenever Spring decides to make it official. Generally speaking, I’m back at work by late March or early April. It’s been as early as March 15th when, one year, temperatures reached 80 degrees. This caused great concern, and folks were in a dither to get their spring plants. They needn’t have been. In April of the same year, we had a straight two weeks of freezing temperatures. They were back in May replacing dead plant purchases. Such is the dang garden. Iffy, at best.

But, due to the extreme winter weather we’re having, everyone but me is hollering for Spring. So, here’s what I have to say on that subject: STOP YAKKING ABOUT SPRING.

It will get here soon enough, and all your yammering might, oh, I don’t know, cause the gods of spring to spring forth. Hush yourselves. Some of us are still sleeping (me). Are you trying to wish your life away?

Heck. Enjoy the upcoming snow (if indeed it comes), the blustery winds, the frigid temperatures. It’s a chance to sit by the fire or curl up under a blanket and, oh, let me think, do nothing. Hey. I am all for that. When spring does come, its back to 12 hour, fast-paced days, which I love, but don’t mind postponing while the snow falls, and I snooze. So, pipe down, people. No more Facebook posts begging spring to come. The spring gods are still asleep, and so am I. Let’s leave it that way, for now.

And, there’s this.

I haven’t finished all my winter events. I don’t like to call them projects. That sounds like work. They’re events. This week’s event was washing the windows. And, getting my tax info to the tax accountant. (Might I digress here, and say that everyone should have to write a check for their taxes each year like I do. Why, you ask? Because trust me, when you are writing a check for several thousand (or several tens of thousand) dollars to an institution that can’t manage its money any better than you can manage yours, well, voting takes on a whole new meaning.)

Anyway, one of my winter events involves my Itoh peony, pictured below in full bloom, around early June. It’s a cross between an herbaceous peony and a tree peony. That means, a wider range of bloom colors, and a sturdier plant. No flopping in the mud like the typical garden peonies. This one was planted on the bank of the flower market for me by Ben, who was bored that day and loves to plant anything. (Ben is presently working at Great Dixter, with Fergus Garrett, in the Tropical Garden. We miss you Ben! Tell Fergus hello, and take tons of pictures, please.)

I bought this particular peony, and decided to plant it at the flower market, because that’s where I was all the time. That way, I would not miss it blooming. I didn’t, and it was glorious, as the picture shows. Covered in blooms.


Kopper Kettle Itoh Peony, I plan to steal it back….

Here’s the event. The flower market isn’t going to reopen. (Don’t worry, it was a two year experiment that failed, and I’m back at the mother store.) But the folks who leased the property for the flower market now believe that Itoh peony is theirs. Au contraire. That plant was bought and paid for by me. And, as important, planted by Ben. The event? Break into the flower market, and dig up my peony. Well, I still have keys, so it isn’t officially breaking and entering, right?

I was going to climb over the fence, but then I remembered the keys.

Too bad Ben isn’t here because he’d help me. Ben is nothing if not particular about doing the right thing. Instead, I’ll take my friend, Debbie, who will likely pee on herself from giggling. I expect it to be quite the night. I will keep you posted.

See? So many more events to do, and so much sleep to catch up on. Spring is faithful. She’ll make her appearance. But until then, I’ll be dreaming about yellow peonies while sleeping by the fire. Shhhhh…..

Looking for My Goals

As in, I literally lost the paper I wrote my goals on. The pastor of the church I attend said we should write down our goals. So, I did. (Btw, I don’t belong to that church, I just attend that church. I can’t bring myself to join any church at the moment, and I know you’re dying to know why. I’ll write a post on that later. Just FYI.)

Anyway, the pastor, my youngest calls him “Bruce-eh,” (like the shark in Finding Nemo), writes a blog. Hit the pause button here. How on earth does he have time to do that? I mean that church has like,10 billion people, and he has got to be crazy busy. If I have more than three things on my to-do list, I am just lost. I end up at Moe’s eating burritos, and procrastinating, and checking Facebook on my phone.

Anyway (again), the pastor writes a blog, and one of his posts was on goals. He said to write down your goals, doing your umbrella goal first. That’s your reason for being alive. For me, that one was easy. To know Jesus better, and to reveal him to others.

The whole reason for the goal writing is to formulate a plan. And hopefully, by the end of the year, you can review your goals, and see what you’ve accomplished (or not). It is a great idea, and would be wonderful, if I could remember where I put my goals.

But, I digress.

Next, you develop your primary goals, keeping them to a year’s time frame. For example, one of mine was to earn what I need to pay bills this year. I realize that is pretty much a given, but in today’s economy, that is not as easy as it sounds. If I have discovered anything returning to the job market, its that making money is hard.

I was so naive. I’ll get a job, I thought. I’ll earn my way, I mused. Ha. Notice the word earn in my goal. In other words, this year, I aim not to steal the money. (You think I kid.)

To continue: do ten of these primary goals. Think in 2s: 2 financial, 2 personal, 2 family/friends, 2 physical, 2 spiritual.

After you do your ten primary goals, get specific on how you’ll achieve them. Like, No more stealing, its an honest wage from here on out.

Okay, Okay, I’ll get serious. I actually said, to earn X amount of money from my writing to offset household bills, and not dig (yes, its dig in my case, not dip) into savings. 

Let’s recap:

Umbrella Goal:

1. To know Jesus better, and to reveal him to others.

Primary Goal:

2. To earn the money I need to pay bills this year.

One Step Toward Accomplishing that Goal:

3. Focus on my writing career in addition to my day job, earning X amount of money.

Have you got all that? Good. Now, one last thing. After you write them down, put them someplace you remember.