Monday, April 27, 2009

Phalaenopsis Orchid

Originally uploaded by Veronicastrum

On Saturday I did a presentation on perennials at Orchids By Hausermann in Villa Park. I was sure to bring my camera along since their greenhouse always is a treat. Here' s just one of the hundreds of Phalaenopsis ordhids that were in bloom. These are great orchids for beginners as they are not very expensive, not fussy and they will bloom for quite a long time.

If you've never tried an orchid, consider getting one of these.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Caltha palustris

Caltha palustris
Originally uploaded by Veronicastrum

This Marsh marigold is blooming in the man-made blog at the top of my waterfall. The flowers are just stunning. I wonder if I can remember to collect the seed from this plant?

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Cranes Come Calling

Saturday morning was the annual sandhill crane count in our area. Since we were out of town that day, on Firday my husband spent two hours, starting at 5:30 am, watching for cranes on our wetlands. He had one land, and with the help of the new camera and zoom lens, took this photo.

You can see the area that was burned the previous weekend behind the crane. the early morning sun created some interesting colors as well.

I love sharing my space with the sandhills.

Friday, April 17, 2009

"April is the Cruelest Month..."

It's Aprils like this one that make you believe T.S. Elliot was a very wise man. After such a long, snowy winter you're just dying for spring to get off the ground but it seems to take forever.

We've finally broken through the 60 degree barrier, but it still seems like not much is moving in the garden. This is when you start wavering between the sheer panic of "Nothing's coming back! It all died!" and the common sense view of "It's just too early yet."

I will say that this is the smallest I've ever seen my Heucheras coming out of winter.

Today and yesterday have been warm, and tomorrow promises to be even better. I'll try to remember the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson and check the garden again on Monday.

"Adopt the pace of nature, her secret is patience."

Monday, April 13, 2009

April Showers...

They may bring May flowers, but they also bring cool temperatures, gray skies and crummy home opener days!

The sun was shining for a while on Sunday though, and I received a new camera. So I documented the daffodils that were brave enough to bloom in the front yard.

Right now these flowers look so lonely out there. It's hard to believe that in another month or so the bed will be full of plants.

It's a good time to remind ourselves to take some long shots of the garden beds. These will be good to look back upon in the summer when we are thinking of ordering more bulbs to plant. Where do we need more? How much more? Now is the time to answer those questions. Once those beds are full of summer growth, we'll have forgotten how forlorn the clumps of daffodils appeared in April.

Daffodil faces
Brighten our early Spring days
Cheerful yellow smiles

Thursday, April 9, 2009


Thinking in Haiku
Keeps my random thoughts ordered
Brings in some beauty

Just five syllables
And then you get seven more
And end it with five

Secret, sacred place
Lift up your prayers and concerns
Take in your God's love

25 Questions - Sliced and Diced

The 25 questions in my previous post appear in the order that they came to me. I then copied this list and sorted them by what I saw as the four main topics. The questions that I have prioritized under My Goals and The Land would be my 10 most important questions.

My Goals:

Will I find a successful alternative to working behind a desk every day?

Do I have what it takes to be a published writer?

How will I reprioritize my life so that I have more time to spend doing a few things deeply instead of doing too many things shallowly?

Will I give up everything and move to New Mexico?

The Land:

How will our wetlands fare through 2009?

What will be the next invasive plant I have to deal with?

Have I eliminated the Dame's Rocket and Garlic Mustard from the front woods?

Will I ever take the plunge and raise my own chickens and/or goats?

Will the local food movement change the way we grow our food and eat, or is it just a passing fad?

Will my husband and I be able to preserve what we have done on our land forever?

The Future:

Will President Obama be successful in changing this country for the better?

Will my employer have enough money to last until the end of April?

Will I lose my job as a result of the economic downturn?

Will the weather this spring be favorable for garden center businesses?

Will my son and his fiancé have a long and happy marriage?

Will my daughter find someone to share her life with?

Will my children be happy and satisfied as adults?

How long will my older lab live, and will I have to deal with her death on my own?

How long will I be able to garden as I do now?


Will my husband's faith be in tune with mine?

What would my mother think of my children all grown up?

Will people in America ever stop being so deeply divided on so many issues?

Trivial Stuff:

Will my favorite public radio station get their antenna replaced soon so that their signal improves?

Will I maintain my #1 position in the NCAA pool?

Will the Cubs ever win the World Series?

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

A Reflection

He would have been 56 on Monday, but he chose to end his life in February. He was my very first boyfriend, and while the relationship had been over for many years, I was sorry to learn that his life ended so badly.

When I was a teen, most people would have described me as shy. I was quite happy to have one or two close friends and didn't feel a need to be part of a large group. But in the summer of 1972, my closest friend left town for two weeks to visit her sister and I decided it was time to expand my world a little bit.

After seeing my friend off at the airport, I got on my bike, headed over to Marquette Park and started riding around the main road. I was pleased that within a few minutes a "cute guy" in a Camaro smiled and waved to me. On my second lap, he waved again. By the third lap, he had parked his car and was sitting on the hood waiting for me. I stopped and we ended up talking for a couple of hours. It was the beginning of a 14 month relationship.

That Christmas, he gave me a small ring. Some called it a promise ring, others called it a pre-engagement ring. When he gave it to me, he explained that he had not had the money to buy a class ring in high school, so he couldn't give me his ring to show that we were going steady. That was fine with me at first, but when I went back to school and everyone asked when I was getting married, I wondered if I had been right to accept the ring.

The turning point for me came in April. Led Zeppelin was playing at the Chicago Stadium; we had not been able to get tickets but he decided we would try to buy a pair from the scalpers outside. He bought two tickets that were not together and figured we would meet somewhere inside. Unfortunately, one ticket was on the main level and the other was in the balcony. At the old Stadium, there was no way to get from the main floor to the balcony without exiting the building and re-entering another gate. And of course, your ticket would not be accepted at the other level's gate.

So I ended up spending the entire concert with total strangers. And had a wonderful time! When I re-joined my boyfriend after the concert, I realized that the relationship was not what I wanted for the rest of my life.

I waited until shortly before I left for college to officially break up with him. I can criticize myself on many levels here. Yes, I took advantage of his company all summer. Yes, I took the easy way out and waited until I was leaving town and thought I would not have to see him again. We were working in the same place that summer (to be fair, my mother had helped both of us get the jobs) and I didn't want my job to be uncomfortable. It's been a long time now, and I hope that I would handle it differently today but I wouldn't bet good money on it.

So we had the big, dramatic break up scene and it did not go well. I packed my stuff and moved into a dorm in Urbana. My 18th birthday was at the endof the first week, and there were plenty of new friends on my dorm floor who were willing to help me celebrate. We were getting ready to leave the dorm when there was a knock on my door. He had driven down from Chicago, unannounced, and wanted to take me out for my birthday. I was quite upset that he had shown up, and quite firm in insisting that I was not changing my plans.

At the end of the night, he showed up in the dorm again. I "borrowed" my roommate's friend, who stood six foot four inches tall, and had him act intimidating and a little possessive to get the ex-boyfriend to disappear. He left that evening, but a stream of letters followed all through the year. Back at home, my parents reported that he often drove past the house and sometimes stopped to ask how I was doing. The term really wasn't used back then, but his actions bordered on stalking. Finally, well over a year after we broke up I stopped hearing from him.

When the internet and search engines surged in popularity, I started to think about this ghost from my past. I often wondered if he would ever dare to try and contact me again. I suppose I did a little "reverse stalking" in that I would Google his name about once a year to see if he had any presence on the internet. I always took a little comfort in never finding him.

Then about a week ago, I decided to try again. This time, I was surprised to find several hits for his name. Surprise turned to shock when I realized that the hits were the result of his death. He apparently jumped off a bridge over the Chicago River, and although he missed the river he did die as a result of the fall. I will admit that there was a definite sense of relief to know that he will never turn up unexpectedly at my door. But I never would have wished for this end to the story.

The obituaries only peeled back the thinnest of layers of his life. Although he had planned to become a college professor, his occupation was listed as truck driver. One obituary made no mention of a spouse but another named one. She is a psychotherapist and a published poet, and she signed a guest book as "your wife of thirty years who was relegated to oblivion". I feel that there is either a very interesting or a very sad story behind that comment.

So many thoughts have gone through my head. I'm very glad that my life has followed the path that it has. I don't regret the decisions I made so long ago,but I hope that those decisions did not lead to an unhappy path for him. And then I wonder if it is egotisical to even speculate in that direction. I don't want to sound opportunistic, but I can see the beginnings of a fictional story speculating on the relationship between him and his spouse. Overriding all of this, though, is that sense of relief that it has finally, truly ended.