Tuesday, March 29, 2016

My Easter Bunnies :-)

Calling All Iris Lovers

At our new house I have inherited a huge garden with multiple flower beds. I am obviously psyched about this but I am also daunted because the garden has been neglected for years and the weeds covering the beds are EPIC. I've been weeding and weeding already and so far I've only managed to excavate a foot or two. It will certainly take longer than even one full summer to try to reclaim what I can tell will be a gorgeous garden once its brought back to its former glory.

One thing that all the garden beds have in common is a plethora of what appear to be bearded iris leaves. They're green and healthy-looking and everywhere. 

To wit:

 As you can see, the irises are taking over several of the garden beds, and seeing as how I know nothing about irises, I am hoping that some of you with more experience with the plant than I have can help me figure out the best next steps. Obviously I want to keep quite a few of them; I just don't want an all-iris-all-the-time garden

I understand that I need to divide them, but is it too late in the spring to divide and replant? Should I wait for fall? Also, I notice that despite all the healthy looking green leaves, I see no evidence that any of them are preparing to bloom. Is this just because it's too early in the spring for the bearded iris to bloom or is the fact that they're all crowded up and undivided like this preventing them from blooming? What say you on these questions, experienced iris growers?

Also. once I do divide them, I will have PLENTY to give away to good homes, so I hope some of you might want some of them.

I'm Truly At A Loss for Words

When a friend went to visit her child's grave recently, THIS is what she found next to his final resting place.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Try A Little Tenderness Before Ripping Bloggers To Shreds

The primary reason I quit blogging after many years of happily connecting with readers through my blog is that I discovered that there is a website out there that "discusses" specific bloggers. But most of the discussion is negative and often very cruel. Once I discovered that this website existed, and that I was one of the bloggers being discussed, I tried to ignore it. For years I had dealt with the occasional very unkind comment on my blog, so I felt like I could deal with it. But I found myself unable to stop looking at this site and reading the things they said about me. Awful things.

I'll write more about what this site did to me emotionally in another post when I feel ready, Right now I will just say that it legitimately gave me some PTSD symptoms. It led me to shut down my blog, with a large readership, my Facebook page with thousands of followers and my Twitter account with similarly large numbers of followers. I've since restarted these accounts but I have set my Facebook account to friends only, and I have a Twitter account I barely use with only 70 followers. My life became much smaller due to this website. That's the best way I can explain it to you. I shrunk, inside and in my public spaces.

One of the cruelest things I read on that site related to my display of large photos in our house of my son who died, Henry. I read a comment basically mocking me for having a large photo of Henry hanging over our fireplace. Well, as much as that site affected me. it didn't affect the joy I and the rest of my family takes in keeping Henry's memory alive in our home. Now that we're settled in our new house, I have two of my favorite representations of Henry displayed very prominently in public spaces.

This one is a beautiful pencil portrait that Henry's father and stepmother gave me for my birthday. I love it. It's very large and hangs over a bookcase in our living room.

And this one is a fanciful piece of art that my niece Eleanor created. It shows Henry with wings and his guitar surrounded by sunbeams and beautiful colors. It's poster size so it, too takes up a lot of space and I love it. It hangs in our dining room. It used to hang over our mantel and fireplace in the old house.

Our whole family likes having these reminders that Henry is still a major presence in our life. And while some people - people who may even write unkind things online - may think there's something odd or wrong about having these bold reminders of our boy hanging in our house, I ask them to gentle their hearts and minds. To try some tenderness amd to consider walking a mile in our shoes and see if this might change their perspective. Trying a little tenderness is pretty much always the best way to proceed in life.

The Art of Radical Downsizing: A Real Life Example

Six weeks ago, we moved from our very large house to this very sweet, very small house one neighborhood over from where we had been living. The decision was both financial - I have been working freelance for the past two years and making significantly less money than when I was working full time - and emotional. Jon and I both felt that it was time to move from the house that had so many intense emotional memories to a fresh space that requires significantly less upkeep and repair and work than the large 110 year old house we've been in for the last decade. We are also renting this house rather than owning it, meaning much of the repair work as it arises will belong to our (exceptionally cool and nice) landlord.

When we began looking for a house, we actually chose this one very quickly. For starters, it's on a street where I owned a house between 2004 and 2006. I absolutely loved that house amd have stellar memories there so the street felt right to us. The house also had a most excellent vibe for us as soon as we walked in. It felt tidy and warm and welcoming. There were overgrown gardens calling out for me to dig in and get to work on them. The kitchen was sweet beyond words. I loved the kitchen just immediately.

The house also had a large fenced yard that the little girls got excited about the first time we brought them over here. It's also fenced completely, which is great for both kidlets and our Great Pyrenees, Leo. The fence, including in the front,  is chain link which, let's face it, is a bit tacky. But it's aslo very very practical. At our old house we had wooden fence all around and it constantly needed painting and patching and propping back up. We're in a new mood - a mood for practical over beautiful, so the chain link fence was a go for us.

There's a aweet little deck on the side that provides a great spot for my adirondack chairs. I paint them a new color each spring and this year I went with red and purple.

We've been in the house almost two months now, so we are getting used to the size. At first I was frankly kind of scared of what 950 square feet would feel like. How would we fit all our people and all of our stuff into a space this small. Friends of mine who have been living in as small or smaller NYC apartments cheered me on, assuring me it could be done. We are only four of us living here all the time. J, age 20 has her own house on campus, and E, age 18 is spending his senior year living at his Dad's house so he can be closer to school. We see them very often bur they are not living here. So it's just Jon, me and the two little girls: C age 8 and G age 5. Could we manage in such a small space? Would we be climbing all over each other?

I am happy to report that the answer is no. We've adjusted okay. I do kind of wish we had a playroom for the girls because using the single living room/den for their toys and art projects is turning out to be pretty messy. But that's really my only complaint so far. Everything else (mostly) fits.. Now we did get rid of a lot of stuff. In fact we still have stuff in the old house that we're working on getting rid of. At first I had to fight some strong emotional attachments to some of the things we're selling or passing on to others. For example the giant baby grand piano that belonged to my great grandmother. I really had to take deep breaths and think about what that piano was doing for me in order to let it go. No one in our family plays piano and it required basically it's own room to have in our home. That piano was keeping us from doing the paring down and lightening up that every other instinct I had was telling me was the right thing to do at this point in our life. I finally had a breakthrough and decided that the piano needed to go to a home where it will be played and appreciated. And that's where it's going. And I no longer feel sad.

For the first few years after Henry died I felt like I could never move on from the emotional and physical space that he had occupied with me and our family. I didn't want to touch his things or his room. I felt like doing so would be admitting he was gone forever. But as I have slowly evolved in my grief, which don't get me wrong, is still intense and life-altering, I realized that Henry is with me always, even if I let go of his bedroom and the rooms he walked and inhabited. I realized that our family needed a fresh start in a space that allowed us to remember and honor Henry in a new may - a way that allows us to look forward and not always back.

So here we are living in a Very Small House. So much has already changed since we moved. My life feels much more manageable in a new space (I went through some very, very dark and difficult times in the last few years in the old house).

Oh, and welcome to my new blog. I missed writing so much. But I was very shut down and simply couldn't for several years. I will take baby steps toward writing again in this space. We'll see how it goes. I appreciate you reading and commenting. Thanks for coming by.