My Back Porch

 

B.B. Barns, my place of employment, has a container specialist. Her job is designing and installing containers for clients. Of course, everyone wants that job because it sounds so cool (it is). I’m the garden coach. I help people with their landscapes, everything from what is in it (plant identification) to how to take care of it (a lot of pruning lessons) to plant diagnostics (Japanese beetles or voles almost always) to small designs (limited to the front foundation or perennial borders mostly). I don’t help with containers. Instead, I ask our container designer for tips. She really is the best.

But once in a blue moon, a client will ask me, “What about my porch?” They mean, of course, what should I do to make my porch more inviting?

I’m not our container specialist, but I do know the number one reason a porch doesn’t

The Gardener is Thankful for the Gardeners

I rent a little brick rancher. It’s a lovely home and I am happy here, sans a garden. I dream of a space for a Cinthia-designed (i.e. a quirky mix of formal and not-so-formal) garden but until, or if that happens, I am blessed to live near a park.

Aggie and I walk to Silvermont Park almost every day. It’s a couple of blocks from our home. It took us awhile to discover it because I thought it was just a big, old house. But, one day we went exploring and found a vegetable garden, woodland garden, butterfly garden, shade garden, native garden, and walking paths. Even free doggie bags (I make good use of those).

There is always something in bloom, little surprises tucked around corners and quiet spaces for reflecting. I am grateful to the crew of Master Gardeners I often see there. They volunteer their time

Five Years of Blur and Two Timelines

Fortunately, my daughter-in-law remembers everything because the last five years, for me, were a blur. I’ve worked two jobs most of the time and three jobs a lot of the time. When I finally got a full-time, benefits, paid vacation days job, I slowed down a bit. Enough to notice that I really couldn’t say what had happened in my 1/2 decade.

I knew the big stuff. My husband left for a woman he said God gave to him. God confirmed the gift of this woman through a Scripture verse and a dream, according to my ex. (The good thing about somebody saying something like that to you is this: 1. You entertain the notion that perhaps God did exactly that. After all, God can do whatever God pleases. And, if he did give your husband a new wife, well then you’re left speechless regarding the matter. 2. You

Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays

Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays?

I’ve got some history with this debate–Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays–because I was a government employee once. But, I’ll get to that later. For now, let me say, I don’t take offense at Happy Holidays.

Here’s why.

As a Christian, I desire for those who don’t know Jesus, to know him. I don’t have time, and I mean that quite literally, to debate who gets to say what. Jesus said, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few” (Matthew 9:37). I want to be his worker. In my career of horticulture, we gotta be ready for the harvest. Time is short and workers need to be focused. If you stand around talking while everyone else is harvesting, well then, not only are you out of a job, but people really don’t like you.

Jesus standing around debating Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays when people were

Top 5 Plants for Indoor Toxins

In 1989, NASA teamed up with the Associated Landscape Contractors of America (ALCA) to study the affects of houseplants on indoor toxins, with a goal of improving the quality of indoor air. Their goal was cleaner space station air, but their findings proved useful for our well-insulated, energy efficient homes, as well. On this rainy, winter day, it’s good to know our houseplants (3 per room is recommended, but 1 makes a difference) are helping to keep our homes free of toxins while we sip hot chocolate with our feet to the fire.

Below is NASA’s chart of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), or household toxins, common to most homes. We all know being outside in nature is great for stress reduction, and filling our lungs with fresh oxygen, so bringing plants indoors just makes sense. Now, with NASA’s study, it makes even more sense.

Houseplants can absorb unwanted

The Entitlement of a White, American, Southern, Christian Girl

When sad or uncomfortable things happened to me, I was able to steady myself with retail therapy, lunch out with friends, dinner with family, a random tv show or movie. All sorts of “normal” things returned my mindset from anxious, grieving, disappointed or whatever, back to “normal” again. It was akin to the old bury-the-head-in-the-sand ploy and it worked fabulously. Without realizing it, there was an unconscious (or maybe not so unconscious) part of me that was thinking, “I’m a white, American, Southern, Christian girl. What could happen to me?”

Even this week, as my plane circled to land in Asheville, where the smoke from the forest fires was so bad the pilot was forced to take a couple of “go’s” at it, I was simultaneously pleading with God to get that plane on the ground, while reminding him that this, THIS, wasn’t supposed to happen to

How May I Pray for You?

If you’re stuck thinking everyone else has such a great life and your life is super crummy, then ask someone, “How may I pray for you?”

My ex and I prayed together almost every night. We laid in bed, held hands and prayed before going to sleep. Obviously, we weren’t the perfect couple, he’s my ex. So, prayer doesn’t necessarily fix everything the way we’d like it too, but it definitely puts things back into perspective. For instance, it was hard for the ex and I to stay mad at one another, if we’d just had a fight, when we were finishing the night with prayer. Why? Prayer is spoken to God. Things get real when God steps in or when we step toward him.

Ask someone, how may I pray for you, and instantly, things will get real with them. You’ll watch their perfect life fade

Random Weed Day (And Other Days)

I did learn a few things from my ex. It wasn’t all smoke and mirrors.

Like, don’t drink Mike’s Hard Lemonade before doing yoga. It throws your balance off. And, if you wait long enough, and are still enough, a copperhead will come back out of the woodshed (that you saw it go into 2 days before) and then you can kill it. (Got that?)

In the garden, I learned a few lessons, too. One crucial one was really, oh-so-simple. There’s always poison ivy. My 2016 garden exemplifies this truism. The poison ivy is spectacular while everything else is withering from heat and drought. Which brings me to random weed day.  Without benefit of the ex’s wisdom, I stumbled upon random weed day by myself. Well, that and Impulse Hill, but that’s another post.

It goes like this.

If you’re a gardener and you’ve lived long enough,

humble pie

Humble Pie? Yes, Please.

Want a piece of humble pie? Try this. Read your old journals. I’ve been reading my old journals. That I’ve written since I was 12. I can’t even.

Describes me from age 12 to say, 45: Narcissistic. Silly. Ridiculous. Delusional.

I know, you’re thinking, uh, yeah. We knew.

Then why the heck didn’t you tell me? But you were narcissistic (and often the victim), you say. True. I’d have thought it was like, so your problem not mine. Like NBD. Learn some boundaries, people. I’m on my journey. You’re on yours.

I wish age wasn’t the thing here. The thing that allows you to stop. Stop the obsessing about yourself. Stop the insanely, crazy idea that you must be happy or well, well, you just must. (Truly, happiness is a state of mind.) I wish age didn’t soften the edges or turn the mind toward others, but

Christians, Gays, Transgenders and Lord Help Us

Everybody is a Donald Trump anymore. Everybody has turned so mean.

And since I am a Christian, it is even more upsetting that Christians are mean, too.

I am referring to mean conservative Christians who shout ugly things about gays, transgenders, and whoever else to the rooftops. And, I am referring to mean liberal Christians who name call and hurl insults at their conservative counterparts.

Somehow, both the liberals and the conservatives ended up with God on their side. Amazingly.

The liberals like to make everyone look stupid, and the conservatives like to make everyone look immoral. One group shouts stupid, one group shouts sinful. Both groups like to toss around the phrase “What would Jesus do?” insinuating that the other group was not behaving as Jesus would, since both groups seem pretty convinced that they know what Jesus would actually do.

Poor Jesus. What a tug