A Blend of Life, Family, Awareness & Tales

Archive for January, 2012

Yay!

It’s cold today. I think the “high” will be around zero.  To counteract the awful temperature, I have decided to think of summer.

I started my daylily seeds about a week and a half ago and I was greeted with my first sprouts this morning. I have always been interested in gardening, I understood the whole crossing and hybridizing thing, I even had a couple of genetics classes in college. But it was only a few years ago I decided to try my hand at it. Daylilies are really easy to cross as far as the physical steps are concerned. Simply pull the anther (pollen part) off of one daylily and apply the pollen to the stigma of another daylily.

Photo from Tinkers Gardens, a great Daylily resource. Click on the photo for the website.

The science, or in my case dumb luck, behind it is a whole other thing. Developing the next great thing in daylilies is a career for many folks. They cross and grow thousands of seedlings each year, hoping to get just a couple great daylilies to market and sell. They have specific goals set for what they are trying to develop, focusing on a certain color or shape, all while maintaining an excellent plant habit. Those daylilies must have strong scapes (stems), have multiple blooms, flowers that hold up to the weather, be able to grow well in the area they live in, etc.

I too have goals, but they are a little loosey-goosey. My first year 2007, I simply crossed the four of five daylilies that I had, not really knowing what I was doing. I bought a couple of seeds on the The Lily Auction, and most of those plants by now do not even exist in my garden because I didn’t really like the results. I have toyed with height (that goal has stayed), blue eyes (eh, lost interest in that one), unusual forms (I really like what are called spiders, long narrow petals), green throats (the center of the flower) and loud strong colors (my big thing right now). Last year’s seeds which will bloom in 2013 or 2014 should be colorful, tall and have big green throats. At least that is what I hope!

As of today, I have approximately 200 daylilies in the garden, 140 of those my own seedlings. Each year I planted around 150-200 seeds. None typically bloom the first year, and about half bloom the second year. Therefore, I have some seeds that I collected in 2009 that I have not yet seen bloom. There are even a couple from ’08, but if they don’t bloom this next summer, they are gone.

This year I had to limit myself to planting about 60 seeds. If this year is like most, almost all of them should germinate. I really only have room for about 30 in my garden, but I always find a way!

My daylily seed-starting set up.

Currently the seeds reside in plastic cups on heat mats in my basement, under a plant light. They will remain there until early to mid April, depending on the weather. I will gradually harden them off to the outside weather, and plant them outside in my seedling bed. Daylilies are tough perennials. I don’t want any babies in my garden. Therefore, other than water them for a bit after I first transplant them, I don’t do much for them but provide good soil. I only want the toughest. If they die, then I consider that part of the culling process.

Here is a photo of my first seedlings of 2012. These happen to be seeds that I bought on the lily auction. They are all about green throats and I couldn’t be more excited!

Like little blades of grass.

The rest will germinate any time from now on. I have had some that wait until the middle of summer, but most should peek through by the middle of February.

I hope you found this interesting. I will keep you updated on their progress.

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Good Bye.

Our dear neighbor passed away yesterday.

It was sad news to receive, I had hoped she could somehow get better. My heart goes out to her family, many who we have gotten to know over the past years.

Last night I had a dream that it was summer and M. came over to visit. I knew that she had passed away, yet I was not suprised that she stopped by. I gave her a big hug, we talked and looked at the flowers in the garden.

This summer, I will think of you as I look at your garden, and I will add a couple extra zinnias to mine. I know how you loved them.

Rest in Peace.

The Spoon.

Maybe this is sharing too much.

I love a spoon. I am maybe even a little obsessed with a certain spoon. It isn’t fancy, it isn’t special. If you looked at it you wouldn’t even notice it. Truthfully though, when I see someone else in the family grab it to eat some applesauce or soup, it takes all my strength not to rip it out of their hands! Spoon-able food without that spoon just doesn’t taste quite as good to me.

Crazy right?!

Isn't she a beauty?

I “found” this spoon almost 20 years ago when my Mom, Dad and I went to the Grand Canyon. The three of us had never camped or hiked before, so it seemed like the perfect place to experience both! Well seasoned hikers that we were, we realized the morning of our hike that we did not have any utensils to stir the dehydrated meals we had packed. I grabbed a spoon from the cafeteria fully intending to return it after we emerged from the canyon.

We had a wonderful trip, one day to hike down, two to hike up. We ate our awful dehydrated spaghetti for dinner, the dehydrated scrambled eggs for breakfast. The spoon stirred it all for us, was there with us during this life-changing adventure.

We rose out of the canyon on the third day, filthy, sore and dying for a cold drink. We packed up our gear and immediately headed out of Grand Canyon National Park. We drove to Tusayan, the closest form of non-park civilization, and went through the drive thru at McDonald’s.

A couple of days later, after returning home and unpacking the camping gear, I found the spoon. I did not mean to keep it, but I was thousands of miles away from that cafeteria, so I washed it and stuck it in the drawer.

I was single then, with really cheap silverware. The new spoon had sturdiness to it. Some good weight which made it pleasant to hold.

Nearly twenty years later I still grab that spoon first, even with my “good” flatware added to the collection.  The spoon and I have been through the Grand Canyon together. It has joined me in five homes, served me through heartache, through love, through a wonderful marriage, and raising my kids. This morning I had the revelation, “why don’t I just buy a whole set of that flatware?” So I searched and searched. I found many similar place settings but none were just right. I imagine the style has long been discontinued (but why?), and even searches of discontinued styles brought no results.

I may never stop searching. Somewhere, there has got to be matching pieces to make a set. Maybe when I bring my kids to see the Grand Canyon someday, I will again eat at the cafeteria.  I suppose I could ask where they buy their flatware.  I am not sure I will be able to return that spoon however…

I better stop now before I get too stirred up.

Get it? Stirred up?

Santa.

As the Christmas season comes to an end, I wanted to reflect on one of the greatest moments of our family’s celebration this year:

The 12 foot tall Santa.

Sure, there were great times with family and friends. Our kids learned some important lessons in sharing and caring for others by donating gifts and money to those in need. There was even the gifts for us. But nothing could compare to the moment we first fired up (let me say it again) the 12 foot tall Santa.

12 feet of inflatable fun!

Sure, I know the photo doesn’t look all that impressive, and we were so in awe of big ol’ Santa that we forgot to take a photo. But to put it in perspective, his lower hand could pat me on the top of my head.

We didn’t go out looking for an inflatable decoration this year. A few weeks before Thanksgiving I visited Home Depot with my parents. I saw Santa up on the high shelf and I was in love. I went back and forth in my head like I seem to do with so many purchases.

“Oh man, we have to have that.”

“No, that is too much money.”

“But it is so cool.”

“Do we really need it?”

“But the kids would love it.”

Then a second voice joined the conversation, it was my mom who noticed me staring at that handsome man in the big red suit.

“You should get that.”

That pretty much pushed me off the fence, but first I had to drive my husband nuts with several texts where I again argued with myself, while he simply said “Sure, let’s do it.”

Thanksgiving weekend came and we were all so excited to put Santa up. As he began to inflate, I swear I could hear a drumroll just like the one in Christmas Vacation. Fortunately for us, putting up Santa was a much simpler and more sucessful endeavor than it was for the Griswolds.

Thoughout the Christmas season, I was often approached with the statement, “Are you the ones with the Santa?”

Proudly, I would reply, “We sure are!” That was my 15 minutes of fame, and I liked it. Cars would often slow, and our neighbors’ dogs even expressed their delight in his presence. (Ok, so maybe they were not actually delighted!) It was a great couple of weeks.

But all good things must come to an end. So tonight as Santa sits deflated, drying out in our lower level, we remember the air-filled fun he provided us all the Christmas season.

That'll do Santa, that'll do.

Hope.

We have the most wonderful neighbor.

“M” has been our neighbor for almost nine years. She is a beautiful woman, with lovely children, grandchildren and a precious great-grandchild. She and her late husband were one of the first to build a house in our neighborhood maybe 14 years ago. Most of our other neighbors have moved and new ones have replaced them, but M has been here since we bought our home, our first home. We always say how blessed we are to have her as our neighbor. She has been my gardening buddy over the years, and has treated our children as if they were her own grandkids.

A year and a half ago she was diagnosed with cancer. She has always been a peppy, strong woman. Someone hard to keep up with at most tasks. Cancer has had a hard time keeping up with her as well. A couple of days ago, we first learned that she was originally given just a year to live, and she has beaten that by half a year already.

Hope

I visited M at our local hospice care center yesterday. She just moved there a week ago. We didn’t even know. I feel bad we haven’t kept in touch as often as we should have these past months. She slept while I was there, and I spoke with her daughter. Today they will find out some information from the medical team. I hope it is good news. If anyone can beat this, I know you can M. I’d like you to enjoy your garden this summer and we’d like to see your smiling face.

Proud.

Two weeks ago we became the very proud parents of a daughter who earned her first belt in Mixed Martial Arts, the White Belt with Gold Stripe.

As proud as we are, no one is prouder than our little lady herself. In September we signed her up at our local Martial Arts school on the recommendation of several current students. We knew it was a good school, as we had heard good things. What we had no idea about was how great this school for teaching not only Martial Arts, but just teaching about life itself. Our little girl has always been a fantastic kid, but it is so cool to see her embrace the respect and attention that this has required of her.

“Graduation” night came and she was so nervous. My Mom ironed her uniform(I don’t own an iron. I suspect my Mom is appalled by this). Grandma, Grandpa, Brother, Dad and myself squeezed into the very crowded room. As I watched our little girl(with a pack of Smarties in my hand just in case her blood sugar went low), I thought about how awesome it would be if she continued her training. I daydreamed that she would earn her black belt someday. Thought about how one day in college she might encounter a less than desirable young man who would quickly learn his lesson if he tried to be too aggressive. I pictured her competing Karate Kid style, in front of a large crowd chanting her name. Heck, maybe she could even be a role-model for kids with Type 1 Diabetes…

I came back to the moment. I have a tendency to dream big, but that night I realized that what we had right there was enough. We have a great daughter, a daughter with a “White belt with Gold Stripe,” and you know what, she already is a role model for other kids.

We’re proud of you Pumpkin. And you should always be proud of yourself too!

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