Wednesday, November 30, 2011

W4W: Accidental

Donna at GardenWalkGardenTalk  has suggested the word 'accidental' this week.

She gave us a head-start on this word, at least a week (or more) to ponder on what it means to us. My apologies in advance for not coming up with a well-thought out post which is absolutely NOTHING like the one Donna wrote for this topic.  Make sure you check out her interpretation and the other fine people who linked in this week.  There's a wealth of information and insight to be found with fantastic photography.

And then there's mine.

 Strange word, if you stare at it long enough, isn't it?  I've been staring at it for days now, trying to come up with something.  Everywhere I went, I kept thinking about the word.  


I typed 'accidental' into my search engine of choice and had a good laugh over one of the things that popped up.  Under the definition of accidental was this advertisement:

"Are You Schizophrenic?  Top Five Schizophrenia Signs!  What the Doctor is Not Telling You!

Well, no, I don't think I'm schizophrenic, I'm just having problems defining what the word accidental means to me.  I'll go back and check on those Top Five Signs, though.  I may have accidentally stumbled across something vital to the well-being of my mental health here. 

I have been an accidental gardener way more times than I care to count, planting things in all the wrong places, and then having to remove them later on.  Case in point, the last tree we moved this fall; a very beautiful river birch.  Alas, the poor birch is not so happy right about now, but first, some history.  Yes, you know long-winded me can't just tell the story without a back story:

Five years ago, Carl and I went shopping for groceries one night and on our way out to the parking lot we passed the grocery store's green house.  I don't know if this is common all over the country, but around here, many of the bigger grocery and big box stores have temporary stocks of live plants, trees, and shrubs for sale in the spring to tempt their clientele.  I have succumbed to this temptation many times, having bought a dozen yellow-green 'George Peabody' cedars from a grocery store once before for $5 a piece:

Can you see them there, behind Castle Aaargh's foundation in the background?  We planted them in 2004.

They grew:

And it was no accident that we planted them there, either.  We wanted them to provide color and contrast to the spruce trees surrounding them.

The 'George Peabody' thuja occidentalis (I guess they've been renamed 'Aurea' now) have grown beautifully.
But getting back to the River Birch.......since we had such good luck with the cheap cedar trees we'd bought years before, we decided to buy a cute little clump river birch standing about 5' tall for $8 from the same grocery store.  We didn't have any river birches planted in our menagerie here yet and thought the addition of another deciduous tree might be a good idea to contrast with all the conifers.   We carefully fit the the potted tree into the back seat of our car and rode home with the trunk and branches between us. 

The tree seemed like a good idea and a great bargain at the time, until the day I set out with a shovel in one hand and tree in the other, determined to find a home for it.  Try as I might, I couldn't figure out where to place it to it's best advantage.  Finally, I gave up and put it back in the holding area behind the garage where I kept it watered and waiting for a home for the rest of the summer.

Winter was coming on and is often the case with me and my GADS, it was time to get all the forlorn, unplanted stuff in the ground somewhere.  Once again I marched around the yard, siting the tree here and there, but still, no good place presented itself.  Carl and I gave up and stuck the tree in the shrub bed along the lane with the promise being when we found the 'perfect' place for it, we'd move it.  After all, Carl built a tree spade, so no problem.  We wouldn't wait too long to move it, we know trees grow.  We're not silly.

Yeah.  Right.  Fast forward about five years.  I was out removing hosta and daylily foliage this fall and was working in the shrub border when I was stunned to see how much the river birch had grown.  It was now overshadowing several conifers we prize, especially a lovely Serbian spruce and affecting the form of the junipers and white pines nearby, too.  Darn it, why didn't we move it?  But looking at the size of the trunk, and at the tiny space we had to work in since all the other trees had grown so much it was obvious our tree spade would never fit in the area now.  Carl and I debated what we could do.  We could try to hand dig it, but what a job that would be, and probably all for naught.  We  could saw it down, but that idea didn't appeal, either.  There was a  very slight chance the tree might survive if we moved it. 

So, what did we do?

Oh, I'm afraid to show you.  The images are gruesome.  Anyone who loves trees will be mortified.

There is a tractor involved.  And Joel.  And Carl.

And carnage.

 We used the H to dig out the tree.  With the bucket.  I know, I know, if there was a Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Trees, I'd be locked up right now. 

This image makes it look like we had plenty of room to work, but this image lies.  In reality, Joel is driving back and forth on top and over hostas, daylilies and shrubs.  Yes, that's right, this is an accident in the making.
First we had to get the tractor in the shrub bed.  There is a small pathway there, so it wasn't total destruction, but pretty close.
Here Joel is looking askance of me to see if I'm still ready to do this tree great bodily harm.  Yes, go ahead.  Let's get it over with.
They almost have it out of the ground, here, note the ruts.

 Ok, it's out, now.  Oh, dear...

Time to reposition the tractor.

Carl is in the middle of the tree, trying to get it situated on the bucket.
Backing out carefully........
And headed down the lane to the front of the house.  Joel is still checking to see if I'm really ok with this.  He didn't have to worry, sadly, this was all my idea.  (And fault.)
We had stalked all over on the front lawn earlier, looking for a good place to plant the tree.  The place we picked out is ok, but not ideal. 
Carl bid Joel to set the tree down and then dig a hole. (NOTE: Always call utilities before you dig!)  Don't forget that important step, or a much bigger accident could happen, accidental death by electrocution. Gardeners being injured or killed coming in contact with buried power lines is very common.  And preventable.  We had this area marked out and knew there were no power lines here.  The locating service is free.

Joel dug a hole.  (And Carl pointed.  He's really good at that.  He's always pointing at stuff when Joel or I are on the tractors.  And yelling stuff to us from the ground that we can't hear.  Good thing he can't hear some of the stuff that accidentally comes out of my mouth when I'm driving the tractor.)

Hole sorta dug.  You can tell our hearts aren't exactly into it, we all highly, highly doubt this tree will live.  We did hand dig the rest of the hole and carefully tried to arrange the roots in the ground, though. 

 So, there it is, the Accidental River Birch.  If it survives, it will be a miracle.  My apologies to the horticultural community for this baring of the dark side of our gardening practices. 

Still not sure if this is the way Donna intended 'accidental' to be used in a discussion of the word, though....and since I may or may not be schizophrenic (I haven't read the Five Top Signs yet) here's another random thought:

The dental part of 'accidental' brought something else to mind.  I had a dentist appointment to have my teeth cleaned last Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving. Upon my arrival in the office, the pleasant hygienist said it was that time of year again, time for X-rays.   In the wink of an eye I'm wearing the lead apron, biting down on the uncomfortable thing they have to cram in your mouth and holding still while the hygienist bolts from the room to take the x-rays.

It always makes me nervous when they leave the room..  I mean, I know that's probably where the switch is to zap me.  And I do understand they cannot be exposed to radiation over and over again during the course of their work day, either.  But exactly how safe am I?  Shouldn't I flee the scene, too? 

 Weren't X-rays an accidental discovery, too?  Time for a little more investigation. 

 In 1895, Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen accidentally discovered an image cast from his cathode ray generator.  How he came to have a cathode ray generator in his possession (don't we all?) is open for debate, but after all, he was a Scientist.

As the tale goes, he called his wife into the room and took an X-ray of her hand which showed her wedding ring resting on nothing but her bones and, evidently, traumatized the poor lady. "I have seen my Death!" she reportedly shrieked.  

The Rontgen-Ray was born.  Later on, realizing this probably wasn't the catchiest name for a machine,  it was shortened to X-ray (the X stands for Unknown).  Come to think of it, I've made a lot of accidental X-Meals and sewed more than a few X-Garments over the years, and let's not mention the X-posts I've written that are about unknown topics. This one is shaping up to be one.)

So, I was right, the discovery of the Rontgen-Ray was purely accidental. 

And so was the development of my x-rays at the dentist's office last week, too.  I was tilted all the way back in the chair with the hygienist busily scraping away at my plaque-encrusted teeth while she told me about her Thanksgiving plans.   I was making hasty comments in between swishing and vacuuming.  I would ask leading questions, and then, when my mouth was occupied with her hands and tools, I could only make appropriate grunting sounds. 

"Uh-huh.  Uh-huh.  Oooooo.... uh-huh...." 

(You know what I mean, right? Besides, you're not supposed to hold a conversation when your mouth is full.  My mom taught me that.)  

The hygienist and I were thus occupied when another person entered the room.  I couldn't see the person, since I was in the chair, staring up at the light.

"You're not going to believe how her x-rays turned out," she said, in a hushed, slightly giggly tone.

"Oh, why is that? How did they turn out?" my hygienist asked.

Yes, what's this about my x-rays? I wanted to ask, but my mouth was full.

"I was developing them and sent them through the machine too fast, so they are superimposed on each other," she said.  "They look really weird. You're going to have to retake them.  I'm sorry, it was an accident."

"Oh, well, that's ok, accidents happen," the hygienist replied.  "We'll see if any of them can be salvaged before we take more." 

Turned out, I only needed one retake.  No big deal.  I was hoping they had accidentally stumbled upon something extraordinary in my mouth, but no such luck. 

Now I'm off to Finally read those Top Five Signs.  If my doctor isn't telling me something, I need to know what is being withheld.  Of course, if I confront her on why she's not telling me these things, she'll probably say she didn't do it on purpose.

It was accidental.

 P.S. Don't forget to read much better posts on what this word means to others at:

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Read 'Em All Tuesday

I have another wonderful blog for all of you to check out for Tootsie's Read 'Em All Tuesday.  Tootsie asks that we select a favorite blog from our reading list and introduce them to you. 

So here we go:

Meet Myra from My Mother's Daughter

Here, in Myra's own words, is what her blog is all about:

I am a junkaholic. I love to recycle, repurpose, reinvent, upcycle things other people no longer want and create unique items for my home and garden. I hope you see something here that inspires you to look at things in a different way.

Boy, does she ever inspire!  Every time I visit Myra I am simply amazed at all the wonderful works of art she and her husband Joe have created.   Objects you would never think twice about using as art become materials to reuse in beautiful ways in their talented hands.  Their latest creations just charmed me no end, take a look and you'll be amazed, too. 

She rescued an old corn crib and is renovating it into a gazebo (her cornzebo) which is already an amazing garden feature that I cannot wait to see finished!  I'll never forget the post showing that huge structure coming down the road. 

Stop in and see Myra for inspiration and enjoy her creations. 

You'll be glad you did!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Oh, Dear

Having problems with posting.  I'm not sure what I'm doing wrong, but it's definitely something.  Hopefully I'll figure it out before I go bald.  I'm pulling my hair out here.

Well, anyway, all I wanted to share was what else is going on around here (other than consuming mass quantities of food over the weekend) so if you're interested in my goofy antique antics, see my previous post: We Couldn't Pass Them Up. 

If you would, please let me know if that post is showing up for you.  I'm starting to think I'm losing it, because sometimes it does show up for me and other times it doesn't. 

I'll go take an aspirin now. 

We Couldn't Pass Them Up

Now that Thanksgiving weekend is over, I thought I'd show you some of the other stuff we've been doing besides eating.  We've been taking little, impromptu road trips lately to our favorite haunts, namely graveyards (where my new status as a geocacher-er is being put to good use, incidentally) and if an antique store or three should happen to pop up on the way, well, of course, we have to stop in at them, too.

A word here about my 'decorating/furniture style''s non-existent.  I overheard a rather feline visitor tell another guest long ago that the decor in our home resembled 'Early American Hodge Podge', which I took as a compliment, despite the snarky way she hissed it.  That is, until I found out it wasn't meant to be a compliment. (I guess that's why she was whispering?)  Then I was a tad hurt. 
This marble-topped table belonged to my mother's mother.  Since my mother is now 91, this table is Old.  It was the first piece of antique furniture I have ever owned, and the only thing I have from my grandmother who passed away at the age of 41 when my mother was 8 years old.

But I got over it and decided to embrace my trendsetting ways. Actually, the lady was wrong, our furniture was more like 'Early Marriage Too Broke to Afford Anything New' style, really.  And though she's never been back to visit us again, we haven't changed much of anything since.  Instead we keep adding to the mish-mashed collection.

When we got married in 1978, my mother-in-law gave Carl and I a pair of little tables she had gotten from a thrift store which had at one time been a  bedroom dressing table connected by a mirror.  Somewhere along the line, someone had sawed the tables (with three drawers apiece) apart from the mirror and they began their life as independent pieces.   My mother-in-law had painted them a rather chalky blue color which looked nice in her home but my plan was to someday strip the paint and restore them to their original wood finish.

Our youngest son, Dave,  had them in his room as bedside tables for years until he grew tired of them and stuck them out in the upstairs hallway.  Since he had seeming disdain for them, I nabbed one when we finished the stained glass Iris shade a few years ago and stuck it in the corner of our dining room.   (On that horrid orange vinyl floor of ours, it made quite the 'statement'.  I was really going to strip the blue paint eventually...)  The other table stayed put upstairs.

When Dave moved out a month ago, he came home to pick up more of his stuff and surprised me when he brought the little blue table downstairs with him.  "Where's the other one?" he asked me.

I stammered, "In the corner of the dining room, under the lamp."

Well, he felt bad then.  "Oh, I never noticed it there....did you want to keep them?  I thought they were mine, but I won't take them if you don't want me to."

Of course they were his!  They had been in his room since he was little and I was glad to see he wanted to put them to good use as bedside tables for his new apartment.  (He is in the process of refinishing them now.)

Plus, this gave me the excuse to go hunting for something new for us.  Well, I should say something old for us.  We both love old furniture.  Carl was all for the adventure.  You never know what you'll find.

Like Yammie.......(short for Yawman & Erbe, an old office furniture maker extraordinaire) who came to live with us two years ago.  There's 30 drawers here, yes, Thirty....and they're all put to good use.
 Yammie (pronounced Ya -me, not yammy, like a yam, sheesh) is now instrumental in keeping my canned goods and recipes in order and freed up a huge amount of cupboard space in the kitchen:
Notice the inordinate amount of space in this drawer for 'Bar Recipes' aka anything with chocolate in them, followed by an Apple Crisp.....

And, another confession....I use canned corn.  I just never have much luck with growing our own.  It's all the raccoons around here, they get to it before we do.  (That and I'm too lazy to can it.)
This is our First Aid drawer.  We play with stained glass quite a bit and we're a clumsy bunch at times, so this drawer is used far too often.

I don't know what I'd do without this huge, old cabinet. We found him in a tiny antique mall, sitting in a corner.  Yammie is made of quarter-sawn oak and is all in pieces, you can arrange the stacks of drawers in any configuration. 

So, since Dave took his corner cabinet, we needed something to stick that lamp on.  Time to go antiquing!  On a rainy night a few weeks ago, we headed to a few antique stores.  One we love to browse through is a huge gallery of antiques that have all been restored.  They have the most beautiful furniture.  If I had a huge house, (and a huge bank account) I could easily furnish my entire home with the absolutely gorgeous pieces in their store.  Alas, our home is much too small for most of the lovely furniture, but we can dream, right?  Their prices are not that high, though, considering the workmanship and materials that went into the furniture.  They just don't make stuff like that anymore, at least not in stores we can afford. 

 We left the luxurious antique gallery and headed to another antique mall, arriving within fifteen minutes to closing.  We decided to split up.  Carl went left and I went right. Just as the announcement of the store closing came over the loudspeakers and as the lights were being flicked off, I came around the corner and there it was.

An old cabinet, the kind that held phonograph cylinders before the days of CD's.

I have a 'thing' for quarter-sawn oak and this little cabinet was so sturdily built, it just had to come home with us.  Just look at the drawers; I love drawers.  In this small house of ours, every inch has to count.  We crammed it into the backseat of our Pontiac and off we went.

The old phonograph cylinder cabinet makes a wonderful stand for our assorted stained glass lamps, too.

I haven't named it yet. (You know I have a name for almost everything, right?)  I guess I could call it Phony, but that seems rather mean.  Or Cilly? (For the cylinders it used to hold?)  Goodness.  Some people call these Edison Cabinets, so I guess this could be Eddie, but somehow, it doesn't look like an Eddie, either. Any ideas out there?

Moving's something we found this past week at an antique store-aganza. Now, you may wonder what in the world we are going to do with these, and you'd be right.  We don't know yet.

Do you recognize them?  They are tree grates, used in cities to allow water and air circulation for trees growing in sidewalks.  These four incredibly heavy grates are our Christmas present to each other this year.

 (I put the old bow there to show how I would wrap these if I was giving them as a gift.  That's right, I'd just tie a bow on them.)
They are big, about 5' wide and almost 3' tall.  I was thinking a gate of some kind, because I especially like the way they look upside down with the ribs sticking up.  Like a sunrise or a sunset.  The guy at the antique place didn't really want to part with them all that much; he had plans to take a torch and do some creative cutting and welding, but I love them just the way they are.  I was seeing them mounted on a lovely pedestal of some kind and used as a driveway entrance.  Or something.  That's the problem with us, it's always something.

I also thought of using stained glass as an insert.  These could be used for boot grates, too, to wipe your feet off on (that was Carl's idea). 

One thing is for sure, we'll use them.

For something.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Giving More Thanks

Thanksgiving is still going on here.  Our sons had other obligations to attend with their girlfriends, so I decided to throw what constitutes a 'feast' around here (chicken, not turkey, but no one protested) on Friday night instead.  I wasn't going to insist they all come here on the holiday itself;  couldn't see them having to eat at three (or four) different houses all in one day.  Friday worked out just great, and Ann and Grandma Lucille were here, too.  Everyone had fun and us four old folks played Sheepshead until 1AM.  We have one more Thanksgiving feast to attend on Sunday and we'll be done overeating for awhile.  (Until Christmas.)

Speaking of giving thanks, I received the nicest surprise the other day from a dear blogging friend, Sue, who lives in England.  Sue writes a wonderful blog, My Garden & Me.   Before I came to know her I was always so nervous when she visited my little garden blog because Sue is, after all, a True English Gardener.  If anyone would know what an English Cottage  looks like, it would be Sue!

She's been cheering on our progress building the stone house with the rest of you kind people, too and I can't tell you how much we've appreciated it.
Me, back in October, hammering away.
 Sue knows how much we love rocks around here and wrote me to say she was sending us something from her home to ours.   When the box arrived, I was so excited.   Look what was inside:
 A Genuine English Rock 
Look at this beauty, isn't it just the most perfect rock you've ever seen?  It's white with a pale pink stripe and so incredibly smooth.  I've never seen another rock like it.  I love it sited right on the edge of the Quarry.  It fits right in, it's the accent we always needed there.  We placed our new rock horizontally and vertically, it works either way, such a versatile specimen!

From any angle, Sue's rock is so striking.  Look at how it fits in with our Iceberg Rock in the background, too.

Can you imagine what the postage must have been to send a rock this size all the way from England?  And I wonder how Sue found a box it would fit in?  I imagine there were some grumbles from the postal carriers on both sides of the pond.  After all, rocks are very heavy.  We can use this rock in so many different ways here.  It's truly a gem in the landscape; the pictures prove that.

But the One Place this rock would add so much authenticity to is:

(you guessed it) Castle Aaargh.

If we mortar Sue's rock into Aaargh, we could say the structure contains rock imported from England.  We wouldn't feel silly or too big for our britches calling it a 'castle' then...... after all, Sue's rock is from the Land of Castles.  (And Monty Python.)

My heartfelt thanks to Sue for her generous addition to our garden; she has given us a true gem which can fit in the most amazing places, be it the Quarry or Castle Aaargh.   England must be a magical place, just like the Harry Potter series led me to believe.

This rock has magical properties, too. 

It can even fit in the palm of my hand!

Thank you again, dear Sue, for sending us this authentic piece of England.

Castle Aaargh thanks you, too, for the right to bear the name.

It's a much better title than..........

 Zoot: Welcome, brave sir Knight. Welcome to the Castle Anthrax.
Sir Galahad: The Castle Anthrax?
Zoot: Yes... it's not a very good name, is it? Oh, but we are nice, and we'll attend to your every need.

Thursday, November 24, 2011


Here it is, Thanksgiving Day, 2011.  

Time to Give Thanks for all the Good Things in my life:
Our sons, Joel and David
Carl, Joel and............

Trophy Rocks



91 Years of Love and Counting
The late Screech
And last, but not least, the fact we're still here.  People said it couldn't be done.  33 years together;  we're hoping for as many more as possible.

And I'm also very thankful for all of my dear friends....old and new, here and in Blogland. 

You are all a blessing to me.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!