Friday, October 28, 2011

Fertilizer Friday and Changes

So much has changed this past week--- and not just in the garden.   (More about that later.)
Oriental Spruce 'Skylands' is always yellow, no changes there.
But the tamarack is changing it's colors, very soon the needles will fall.

The weather is much colder and darkness is falling a whole lot earlier.  Dropping the quest to finish the Castle Aaargh has resulted in me walking around in circles for a day or two, not really sure what to concentrate on.
Carl cut a lot more stone for mortaring which will wait until Spring, now. 

But for the last few days, I finally shook my gardener's attention deficit syndrome (GADS) and focused on cleaning out the beds.

I'm still a long way from done, though.  I took a little stroll through the garden this afternoon to see which way to go first with my cleaning efforts.
Yup, no doubt about it, the east hill of the Quarry Garden is Tired with a Capital T.  Time to clean it up. 

So much greenery.  Where's the rocks?
A few short weeks ago, the same bed looked so much different, ah, but like I said earlier in this post, this has been a week of change.
Aha, there they are.
After yanking out a trailer-full of annuals and cutting back the perennials, look at the difference.  All that's left are the ornamental grasses and the dwarf conifers.  And the rocks.  From now until the plants fill out again next season will be all about the rocks, and in some regards, this is my favorite time of all.  (Of course, I am a rockaholic, so that would explain why I see beauty in this austere scene.)
Across the pond, there's the same bed from the other side with all the rocks exposed. Someone better get on removing those lilies pretty soon too, the fish should be safe since I haven't seen a heron in a few days.
I just can't pull out those rudbeckias yet, though.  They're still blooming their hearts out for me, despite temps in the low 30's at night.  I think the rocks hold so much heat that it's enabling them to keep on putting on a show.
Even a few Blue Butterfly delphiniums are still valiantly showing off yet, too.
A little tattered, but still glorious.
'Limelight' hydrangea....nothing remotely lime about it right now, just pink perfection. 
The quality of the light has changed so much, to a harsher light and deep, dark shadows.
'Tiger Eye' sumac has lost all it's tiger eyes and is now just a bunch of sticks on top the Quarry.
 Thuja occidentalis 'Sunkist' is definitely living up to it's name.  When the sun hits that yellow foliage late in the afternoon, this tree glows.
More rudbeckias, such wonderful flowers these are, all of them volunteers from years past.
The extent of my fall decorations......a pumpkin Briana brought over for us, plunked in an urn.  Whoo-hoo.  I go all out, don't I?  And I haven't yanked out the marigolds, thunbergias or the sweet alyssum, either.
While I was clearing out foliage on the Quarry hill, this little coreopsis charmed me with it's alluring face. 
The pond has come up a little for fall, for awhile there, it was rather low.  I was feeling rather low too, so I gave up working on this part of the yard and wandered over to the front of the house to see what mischief I could get into over there.
 Though the petunias are still blooming, well, it's time.  Time to change the scenery.
The hyacinth beans did a fantastically exuberant job of hiding the hill (and the dwarf conifers and the big rocks and probably a few garden shovels and tools) under their twining vines.  They grew up into the conifers and the apple trees, wow, talk about ambition.  But now they're tired, so bring me a trailer, would you?
Why, thank you, that is very accommodating of you!  Don't you just love my choice of trailer car.  I know, what new madness is this on my part, but I didn't have any other way of hauling the big trailer around other than my tractor (and it needs a new water pump) and well, the car was here and handy.  And the lawn is really sad here anyway and needs work. 

So, after an hour or two, the Pachyberm went from this:

To this:

Nope, we didn't haul in any more rocks, those were all there, hiding under the greenery.  Back to seeing rocks for another six months, or until the snow covers them up....but I'm not complainin'.  Oh, and you can go dump the trailer now, if you would, please.

Thank you!
When Carl came home from work he helped me finish this bed.  Though I don't mind working alone, it sure goes faster when you have help.  We worked right up until dark and then went in to a feast of roast chicken and vegetables in the crockpot.  I love the crockpot, it's always got something delicious cooking.
I didn't have the heart to yank out this 'Avalanche' petunia yet.  And neither did Carl.  So, that's some of the changes in the flower beds, now let's focus on some of the other changes this week.

Okey, I feel a Fair Warning is in order.  The rest of this post is not about gardening, so feel free to click on outta here right now, OK?   I don't want to bore anyone with a bunch of sappy-sappiness!

Tootsie still hosts Fertilizer Friday even though she has been going through so many changes in her life, getting ready to move to a new home and the bittersweet feelings that brings up.  I think of her often, whenever you read her blog you can tell she's such an optimistic person and so vibrant.  She does her best for her family even though I'm sure there are worries, too.  We all have some worries, don't we?

Life is all about change.

My friend Ann became a grandmother this week, congratulations to her and her family on the wonderful addition of baby Nathan!  What changes and emotions a baby brings to a household upon it's arrival...almost overwhelming at times and fraught with highs and lows and sleepless nights.

We know all about those sleepless nights and the highs and lows of raising children.  Look who both showed up tonight just as we were getting ready to call it a day...  (The 'high' one (only in altitude, ha) is Joel, and the low one is David.)  Joel stopped in for a short visit before leaving for his volunteer job at the haunted house and Dave stopped packing to talk to us for a bit.  (He wanted to borrow the trailer....the one with the garden refuse on it.)

Yep, here comes the big change part:  David was packing because he is moving out.  And we helped him move some of his stuff tonight.  Talk about more emotions...right now I feel, um, well, I guess I feel like Ernie:

Forlorn and Empty.
We all knew this day was coming.  It wasn't a surprise.  He's been looking forward to moving out since he was fifteen years old and now he's twenty-one.  All parents know they can only keep their children for a little while, and then you have to let them go.  We're proud and happy for him.   He's ready.

We were all feeling the growing pains of being crammed together and a lack of privacy at times; I was looking forward to no more white socks and shirts on the floor and coats hanging off of chairs, to having all the glasses in the cupboard again and not in his room, to not knowing if I should be cooking a meal for six, five, four, three or two people every night, to a few less dishes, a lot less laundry and a lower utility bill, not necessarily in that order.  Dave wasn't crazy about the TV we watched; we weren't crazy about his music all the time either; he disliked it when we had company playing cards right below his bedroom, especially when the card games lasted late into the night and got heated with whooping and hollering, and not having enough bandwidth on the computers was a thorn in all of our sides.  Carl's junk is a problem for everyone (except Carl, lol) who wanted more room to work in the outbuildings and there was no suitable compromise that could be worked out amicably in that direction, either. 

You tell yourself this is all for the best.  You know in your heart it really and truly is.  The days when I tripped over a toddler's pile of blocks, or later on, a pile of Legos half-built into a new race car or later on, a stack of school books and undone homework and much, much later on, a pair of steel-toed work shoes on my way to the bathroom are over.  Or the days I can't find a clean glass in the cupboard or wonder who used up all the ice cubes and there's a seemingly endless pile of wet towels and the vent in the bathroom is still on an hour after a shower and there's no room to park in the driveway because their friends are always here and are we really out of milk AGAIN and you wonder if you'll ever have your house back to yourself.....?

Well, those days are over for me, too. 

I was reliving the first days of new motherhood with Ann the other day, remembering what it was like to bring the boys home as babies.  How overwhelming it felt at first until we settled into our new routines.  I was an older mother than most of my friends; though we married at 20, we did not have Joel until we were 28 and David, four years later, at 32.  We'd had eight years of marriage under our belts before we started our new life as parents.  It was a change, all right, but we loved it.  

And I knew this day would come.  Joel is not officially moved out yet, but he's gone more than he's home which is fine, too.  I don't know if all mothers are as goofy as I am, but when your kids still  live at home (sometimes) it's hard to sleep when you're not sure where they are.  Carl didn't let it bother him over the years, probably because we had sons (I wonder what his attitude would have been if they were girls?)

I remember a morning shortly after sixteen year-old David first had his driver's license.  I was trying to get him up for school and he wouldn't answer me.  I got really angry and went stomping up the stairs, yelling all the way, "Get UP!!!"  I threw open his bedroom door and there it was, an empty bed.  No Dave.  It went through me like an electric current.  Oh, no.........I remember sitting on the empty bed, staring at his pillow.......oh, no........

But, he was fine.  He was with some buddies somewhere doing something and time got away from him and yadayadayada, 'Ok, I'll make sure to call next time.'

Yes, please do.  You have a cellphone.  USE IT.  Spare me any more 'only my hairdresser knows for sure' moments.  I'm officially gray now, thank you very much.  From colic to ear infections, colds and flu, to toddling bumps and bruises (running headfirst into an open drawer) to being hit in the head by an ax (yes, it happened to Dave, who else? and Joel was the one who did the hitting, it was an accident, but fun to explain at the ER) to dozens and dozens of stitches holding him together from his days of falling down or loving to wield a machete (don't ask)  to leaving home to ride to school in the morning on his bicycle (my last words to him that day were, 'Look for cars, don't get hit, and know I love you') and wouldn't you know, less than 15 minutes later, I get a frantic phone call from one of his friends, "Mrs. V, Dave just got hit by a car, please come RIGHT AWAY!!"  (Yes, he really did get hit by a car, which caused him to literally fly over the hood of a parked car and his body rolled into the other lane of traffic on a busy highway and even after all that, he walked away......he has a Guardian Angel, he just doesn't believe it.) 

These are just some of the hijinks with this one.  There was never a dull moment.  And now those days are over.  Last night he came home with an accepted application to an apartment.  He'd been looking for some time, but this was it and he could move in ASAP. 

So tonight we got a good start.  I did fine while we helped him move out his furniture and his clothes and whatever belongings would fit in our cars.   I packed up his vast collection of teas (he loves tea...I'm still not sure if he's my kid, but he had me hooked on a few of the flavors) and his coffee pot (ditto on the coffee, neither Carl or I were ever coffee drinkers) and emptied out an entire kitchen cupboard that used to be his domain.

Then I started to get misty when I saw his mattress standing up by the front door in the dining room....I remembered how excited he was when he was a little boy and we bought him the big bed for his own.  I remembered how hard it was for me to move him from the downstairs nursery (which in reality is the size of a broom closet) to the bedroom upstairs on the second floor where he'd be right across the hall from his big brother.  It felt like I was abandoning him to the wilderness just by moving him upstairs when he was three years old.  But he loved it, and never even needed me to hold his hand.  That's always been Dave.  Mr. Independent.

My mistiness dissolved into eyes full of tears on the ride to town.  I rode with him in his VW bug and he was going on about how much he loved his car and his delight with the gas mileage and I was staring out the window, watching the miles go by and not saying much of anything because, well, I couldn't.  I didn't want to flat out break down and blubber.

This wasn't the time for it, but when he asked me if I was ok,  I fessed up.  "Nope."  Sniff, sniff.  Sob.

What I wanted to say was, "I'll miss you more than you know;  I know you didn't want me to carry on like a menopausal maniac, but damn it, this is the hardest thing I've had to do yet.  I know you'll only be thirteen miles away and that your dad will see you every day at work (lucky bugger) but I won't.  I know you weren't all that happy at home and I know this is great and for the best and the Right Thing To Do------ in my mind I know all of this, but in my heart, well, you're still my baby and you always will be.  And I have to let you go.  But they never told me at the hospital twenty-one odd years ago how hard it would be, and they sure don't prepare you for the reality.  I thought labor was hard?  What did I know?  This is excruciating."

But I didn't say that.  I said, "I guess I thought I could hold it in the road, Dave, but I'll miss you so much, sorry for the tears."

"Well, it's not like I'm moving out of state," he said quietly.  "I'll be back to visit."

"I know," I said.  "I'm just a little, ok-- a lot, sad."

When we carried all his stuff into his freezing apartment (54 degrees, but he doesn't want to turn the heat on yet) and the car was empty, I nearly lost it when Carl grabbed him and gave him a bear hug, and said, "I'll see you tomorrow, love you," and left.

It was my turn, and I quickly grabbed him (in front of his sweet girlfriend and her mom) and gave him a too-short hug, whispered in his ear, "I love you," and did my best to say a cheery goodbye to everyone on my way out to our waiting car.

I didn't say much on the way home.  Carl did all the talking, how nice the apartment was, how different it would be now around the house, how we'll have more time for fun stuff once the garden is put to bed for the winter.  I was trying SO hard not to cry, but finally after sniffing a few times, Carl asked, "Are you coming down with a cold?"

Oh, boy, poor man, he had to ask.  I started crying then and there was no mistaking it wasn't a cold.  "Aw, c'mon," Carl said, "It's going to be ok.  He's not THAT far away."

I know.  He's not off to war, or out to sea.

And I'm good with it.  Really I am.  I'm just me.

Change is hard, but we will all adjust. 

Even me.



Rosemary said...

Karen you had me crying with you...brought back memories of when my daughters went off to university for the first time .happy yet sad.

FlowerLady Lorraine said...

Dear Karen ~ This brought tears to my eyes. Blessings to all of you as you start this next part of life's journey.

Now, what are you going to do with that extra room? :-)

What a lot of work clearing out the beds is, but needed in preparation for next year's plantings.

I would have a hard time ripping out still blooming plants too, they just look so happy.

Have a great weekend ~ FlowerLady

Beth said...

Karen, It's tough now but it will get easier. There are joys and peace that come with the empty nest, just as there are joys when the childen are in the nest. I agree with Carl that you will have time for fun when the garden work ceases. Your garden is a thing of beauty, even as it winds down.
Blessings and hugs, Beth

Carol said...

I was happy to read this post. Now I know what I am. My name is Carol and I am a rockaholic. I take them from everywhere. National parks, public gardens, parking lots and friends yards. I even tried to smuggle one from Aspen, CO on to a plane and got busted by Security. She made me take it out of my carry on and take it outside the air port. I was not happy and told her so. She didn't care. I have even started taking bigger ones-our trip to the rockies last month-I could hardly lift one into the back of the car and I asked hubbie if next time we can take the little trailer behind the car. At least now I know but I am not willing to change. Sorry. Carol

Pamela Gordon said...

Oh Karen. I've been there. Many times. Our daughter lives in Alberta 3000 miles away and our son, who has lived there several times but settled back here, is looking for work out there again. The nest has been empty for 5 years and we love it but having them live so far away is difficult. It will get easier for you and just knowing your sons are handy is a blessing. You have done a lot of gardening this week! What a difference when all the beautiful plants are removed. It still looks beautiful with those wonderful rocks and trees though. Have a super weekend! Blessings, Pamela

Andrea said...

That is a bit long but I went thru with it. You write so very well, that your emotions transcend through the ethers to here! God bless the mothers! Your rockies produced a lot of beautiful colors. However, it might not be friendly for the elderly, climbing or walking through them is difficult, a slip will mean a broken something! So take care among the rocks.

Alison said...

Oh Karen, my heart goes out to you. Our nest has now been empty for about 10 years, since our only son went off to college and pretty much never came back home to live. I remember the sleepless nights, waiting for him to come home after a night out. Now, when he comes to visit, I still have a hard time sleeping when he's out at night, crazy me. I'm sure your David will be fine in his new place. I'm not sure how much he did for himself while he was living at home, but he is going to find out how much you did for him.

I love how neat and tidy the beds look, now that you've cleared them out. It is hard to pull out still blooming plants, but if you don't do it now, and the snow comes and buries them, you won't be able to do it till spring, and it will just be that much more work then. I remember having that snow deadline when we lived in Massachusetts. BTW, we do have plenty of rocks here. And we have beautiful mountains!

Sandy said...

Love how you described your lonely pumpkin plunked in the urn, as your decoration.. let me tell you, your entire yard is Fall Decoration! Like you, I have one lonely pumpkin...Although I'm sure there is a bit of sadness in your heart to see it all going dormant for the winter it's still simply beautiful.. although it has much clean up to be done! I imagine it would be worse in the spring if you did not do it now!
So much work, so little time!
Time to wind down for your long winters rest, Karen. You deserve it!

Chad B said...

Karen, as you know, I'm at the other end of the spectrum with a 3-year-old daughter but I read your story with great interest because I know that soon enough that time will be coming for me as well. So far, what I've learned about being a parent is that it's all a juggling act. We want to cherish our kids and love them for who they are and where they are in their lives. But we also want them to take that next step (both literally and metaphorically) so we have to let them try to walk on their own. I can only imagine how hard that is when their steps take them further away from us.

I don't know what that feels like as a parent, but as a son who has left home, I will say that on the morning I moved a thousand miles away, I tried to put a brave face on while my mom cried about her baby leaving. I saved the tears for when I got a few miles outside of town and then I cried like a child. My guess is that even if your son kept a stiff upper lip, he also knows that something has changed and even though he is excited about his new chapter, he knows he is going to miss his mom.

Unknown said...

Just great... there was no warning that a box of kleenex was going to be necessary to read this post. {sniff}

Well, the rocks look wonderful. I do love the look of them in their naked state. You have some nice structure in them. I definitely need some in my gardens, so there will be something interesting in the middle of January/February cold.

Not to worry about David and Joel. You have raised great young men; they will always be close by. Besides I will lay bets on how soon David will be back to do his laundry...

Lona said...

We are never really ready to let them go are we? I know how you feel. A mother never stops worrying about their kids either even if we know inside they are ready to leave the nest.Your have raised some wonderful children and I know they well do well.
I know my heart goes out to Tootsie too. Sometimes I wish I was close enough just to hug some of my blogger friends when they are hurting.
The one thing I love about your quarry garden and all of the rocks is that it looks so pretty in any season. Each season has its own textures and contours. It really speaks well to your planting style and layering. All that hard work comes shining through.

Diana LaMarre said...

Your garden looks great even after you remove the plants. I like the 'Tiger Eye' sumac bare against the rocks.

I know how sad you must feel with your son leaving home. It really will get better...just give it a little time.

Anonymous said...

Hi Hun, You have been busy. Change is hard....
thinking of you my sweet
Sueb x

myomyohi said...

Sometimes I miss my daughters like crazy even though they're 35, 30 and 28. Sometimes I love having my space. I worry about them when I hear an ambulance, and when I know they're sick. You never stop worrying about your kids. It's part of being a parent. And once he has a little space of his own, he'll miss home too.

Hang in there. It'll get easier.

Karen said...

Oh, you guys........gosh, you make me feel better! You'll never know how much I appreciated each and every comment. Parenthood is hard sometimes, and you all understand the ups and downs and worries so well. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Tootsie said...

first...(GADS)...I laughed out loud. I love this!
Second...I am not always all that optimistic. My kids think I am addicted to the bathtub...cuz lately I have had a lot of baths. I cry in the tub. Not usually anywhere else...cuz others might see me...and that would ruin my image and hurt my pride! lol...sniff sniff.
Third...girl...if you are ever desperate for a kid to use all the glasses and leave a pile of wet towels....let me know...there are three of them here...and one plays hockey...5 days a week...and doesn't yet you will be a busy have done a good job...and I know it will be hard (best friend is going through this too) are so strong and will be fine...and...I just know you will not be without your baby long..he will be back for a lot of are MOM!
Thank you so much for thinking of me...and mentioning brought a tear to my are special to me friend. One day we need to meet...
It does my heart good to tour around the gardens that are linked into my little party...I so wish every one of the people who share lived close enough that I could walk the gardens in person. Thank you so much for sharing with me this week...I hope you will again very soon!
I am sharing this post on my Facebook page for Tootsie Time
Hugs and smiles from Alberta Canada to you!
¸.•´¸.•*¨) ¸.•*¨)
(¸.•´ (¸.•´ .•´ ¸¸.•¨¯`•.

Donna said...

Karen my heart goes out to you as you move through this change...the garden clean up is a change we go through too and I have tried to be more optimistic about the change in seasons even though I would love spring to be here again or fall to stay longer...oh well as you say we will all get through it!!

Beth at PlantPostings said...

Hi Karen: I found your blog through a visit to Holley's blog. It's fun to find a fellow Wisconsin blogger! I'm going through similar transitions, as my youngest moved off to college this fall. And then the oldest moved back in! He'll probably move out this summer, but sometimes the transitions turn out different than you expect. Your photos and your thoughts are beautiful!

Anonymous said...

Not having kids, it is hard to relate, but your story is still touching. It must be something with Dave's, my husband, also a Dave, gave his mom a royal scare twice. He was hit twice by cars on separate occasions. My dad, as a kid, was hit three times.

Tootsie said...

girl...I featured you in a post on Tootsie Time...and would love for you to check out the meme that I linked it to.
hugs hunny!!! thank you so much for being my blog friend!