peachyteachy

For realsies

Slippery Slope June 7, 2014

Filed under: flowers,gardening,humor,life — peachyteachy @ 8:27 pm
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Today I planted a big hydrangea on a steep slope.

We both fell down.

I slid down. Twice.

Here’s the thing.

It wasn’t all,

GO SEXY MILLAH TIME CUTOFFFS GIRL TUMBLING DOWN THE HILL.

Nuh-uh.

My serious get ’em dirty clothes lack a certain “Pepsi Generation” vibe.

It was too hot to wear my Levi’s with the knee blown out. I still like to think that those are smoldering with sex appeal.

As long as no one breaks a hip.

 

 

Woodchuck Vigilante May 3, 2014

Filed under: gardening,humor,Uncategorized — peachyteachy @ 8:28 am
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I am reviving this little number in honor of the spirit of rebirth. I wrote it when I had approximately six readers, two of which were probably NRA members. I’ve shared it with a Weekend Funny Challenge
http://jenniferann1970.wordpress.com/weekend-funny-challenge/

peachyteachy

I am not a member of the National Rifle Association, and I have been known to make fun of hunting apparel and hunting accessories and hunting guys. However, I did reap the benefits of having a gun-toting neighbor not long ago.  He was my downstairs neighbor, Pete (of course not really), and he would, on occasion, ring my doorbell to share things like a freshly deadened turkey, or some newly acquired harpoon–just anything that he thought might brighten my day.  Since I knew that he was a gun collector, I thought it best to receive these visits with good cheer.

When I shared with Pete my frustration with some cheeky woodchucks who had taken to chowing down on my amazingly beautiful container gardens, I never imagined that he would avenge me so valiantly, but that is what happened.  He was so overcome with neighborliness that he just up and shot…

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Even When the Sun is Not Shining, Spinal Tap Delivers July 3, 2013

hydrangea hosta fernMy garden is happy, because there’s been a lot of rain, and I am here every day to take care of it.  Some of my favorite stuff in the gardens are the foliage color and textural compositions.  These mobile images that I emailed to myself do not want to become larger within the post.  Apologies to my far more accomplished photographer/readers–advice graciously accepted. If you could see them better, you could see a lacecap hydrangea, a Japanese painted fern, and a little hosta called Golden Tiara up there.  Below, ferns are growing through a weathered bench.  I love that sort of thing as well. Shoot me, though, if I cross the line to wagon wheels and toilets planted with flowers.  I’m whimsical, but not that damned whimsical.

bench

I freaking love flowers.  I am also a big fan of container gardens, especially ones with different things going on. In the blue pot below, I have these gorgeous Lemon Gem marigolds–they are so much greater than run-of-the-mill marigolds, because their foliage smells lemony, and the flowers are edible.  Amazing.  The big leaves are those sweet potato vines—I dug them out of the pots last fall and saved them over the winter.  It took awhile, but they are taking off now, which makes me absurdly happy.

marigold

Happy July Third, flower people.

In a slightly related note, I would like to propose that a new tradition be launched, in the spirit of the annual Thanksgiving playing of Arlo Guthrie’s “Alice’s Restaurant.”  July third listening of Spinal Tap’s “Listen to the Flower People” starts today! Share with your friends! Here we go.

 

Messy Mother’s Day May 12, 2013

Filed under: family,flowers,gardening,life,parenting — peachyteachy @ 9:44 am
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Five years ago, on May 12, it was also Mother’s Day.  It had been a lovely day with my kids, and I had spoken that afternoon with my 80-something mom, who was on what she was determined would be a temporary stay at a nursing home.  Her voice had been so raspy that it was difficult to understand her.  We had talked about the upcoming commencement when I would celebrate the completion of my master’s degree.  She had spoken of sharing with the nurses the photo I had sent of my then four-year-old son.

That night, I was awakened by a phone call telling me that she had passed away.

Obviously, Mother’s Day is bittersweet for me.  It’s also complicated.

Thanks to my mom for all of the important things that she taught me to do and be.  Mom shared with me her passion and respect for the natural world.  I love the plants in my gardens like my offspring,  I feed birds, and I refuse to use pesticides.  I am a rabid recycler.  I apologize, however, for not saving every piece of used aluminum foil.

At least as importantly, I give my thanks for the lessons in how not to be.  Overcooked macaroni, asparagus, and most everything else led me to a determination to teach myself  to cook! Mom burned the bottoms out of enough pans to fill the quota for the both of us.  However, Mom could turn out a mean apple pie (and raspberry, and blueberry), and so she gets credit for the fact that I can make pie crust from scratch.

I also learned from my mom how important it would be to take responsibility and apologize to my children when I screwed up—not because she modeled this, or told me to, but because she didn’t.  I cannot remember my mother ever saying to me that she had been wrong about something.  What pressure to put on oneself.  This sort of coping strategy was typical of how my mother masked her considerable fear.  I resented it when I was younger, gained compassion later as I worked to be mindful of my own fearful behaviors, and slowly learned to make different choices than she had.  Sadly, the fear that my mother clung to also acted as a cloud, a protective barrier, through which I could never clearly see.  Some healing, I have discovered, has to be done after someone has gone.

Mother’s Day, then, is messy.  But it is full of love, and I will cut lilacs and bring them in (I picked Mom a bouquet on every Mother’s Day that I spent with her. She preferred these treasures from our yard above the more perfect, less heartfelt arrangements that florists charged an arm and a leg for).    Thanks to my mom, for all of it.

image source: elizabethpatch.com

 

The Dorkess of Botanica May 6, 2013

 

That’s my street name.

While lots of folks have been out running various numbers of Ks over the weekend, and getting somehow tie-dyed in the process (see Color Me Rad), I have been seeking my color in the purple-hued Checkered Lilies  that are coming into their own amidst  creamy Sailboat narcissus. See the Checkered Lilies down there, all cozy with the white forget-me-nots? Be still, my heart.

View 2013-05-06 16.21.51.jpg in slide show

Never heard of Checkered Lilies?  Let the Dorkess of Botanica enlighten you.  Fritillaria meleagris is the correct, Latin name—for those of you who give a rip.  Lilies are something entirely different.  I can’t help it.  I am cursed with an encyclopedic memory for plants, especially flowers.  I feel disingenuous if I use common names that mislead and misrepresent. As a result, people mistakenly say “Gesundheit” around me, at least when the conversation rolls around to gardening.

I have also been waging war on the DMZ of vinca vine that tries to sneakily take over more desirable and better behaved citizens of my backyard.  For many, this would truly be tantamount to shipping out to an overseas destination for jungle-machete-ing. For me, it is a charming recreation of  The Secret Garden, where I am the rescuer of delicate treasures that have been overgrown and lost for so long.  For example, I have an old, double white lilac in my back yard. When we moved in three summers ago, I had to take down a black walnut that had insinuated itself right on top of that lilac.  It had been weakly attempting to reach into the sun enough to throw a bloom or two, but it was a sad old thing. And black walnut trees are in the business of poisoning things that try to grow underneath their canopies, so they can find no purchase in my landscape.

Most folks would probably have pulled it out and started with something new. But lilacs are so incredible, can live for well over a century, and are part of what I consider the history of the land upon which we dwell.  My mother would as soon rip out an old lilac bush as she would rip out her toenail.  It’s just a gross and painful thing to endure; why would you do that on purpose? Instead, I cut back dead wood, and have been careful to allow the new branches to grow freely.  This year, there are a handful of buds about to open, and this is a triumph for the Dorkess of Botanica.

Consider the amazing wonder of greenitude that is the unfurling of hostas.  I can gaze at this green and feel my stress level drop, despite a hellish afternoon at work.  If I could just bring my class to my garden, things would be so different.  This would, however, be an unquantifiable, unscorable “different,” and therefore, it would not count.  Wait. Stress level. Greeeeeeeen.

hosta waking up

And THIS green:

View 2013-05-06 16.26.38.jpg in slide show

That is hakenochloa, Japanese forest grass.  And lysimachia nummularia “Aureum”. I’m sorry, but it is. And if you want THAT plant, you have to know that. It also goes by the sweet, old fashioned moniker: Creeping Jenny.  It’s a creeper, can be invasive, so go for the gold kind, because you are never going to get rid of the old school, green one. So you want to plant that next to your mean neighbor’s parking strip or something.  Very passive-aggressive.  If I could plant it in some of my students’ desks, you bet I would. It would reduce their stress, probably.

This baby fern can make me emotional. This is why I am the unchallenged Dorkess.

View 2013-05-06 16.27.29.jpg in slide show

 

Peachy Likes Apples, Old School November 11, 2012

I spend so much time immersed in the ridiculous, it becomes absolutely essential that I find my way to the sublime as often as possible.  Food, gardens, and a select group of awesome people are my Xanax.

A passion for apples was instilled in me from an early age, when my mother would roam the family homestead’s orchard, which had been planted somewhere around 1890.  She would name varieties like Transparents (varieties were usually referred to in the  plural), Greasy Pippins, Spies, Winesaps, Jonathans, Russets, Dutchesses,  and Snows.  It was, really, a wild orchard of sorts, as she didn’t “cultivate” the fruits.  An occasional trim of dead wood was the only maintenance of which I was aware, and the apples probably resembled their predecessors as a result.  These were not fancy, unblemished fruits—and yet my mom extended affection and respect to each one, spots and all.  I suspect that this was a mater of course for earlier generations, especially those with connections to life during the Great Depression.  There would be a good deal of grave rolling if those folks saw some of us in our petulant rejection of imperfect-looking, diminutive fruits, as we lob them down the orchard rows as we seek the perfect apple-picking experience.

She rejected almost no apple.  She would sit on the porch, or in the kitchen if it was later in the fall, with an enameled pan full of apples on one side, another full of water in which to deposit the prepared slices.  She peeled, quartered, and sliced using a little paring knife that wasn’t particularly sharp.  She would salvage any part of a yucky-looking apple, even if it resulted in two slices being added to the pan of water and apple slices.  I suppose that this was a meditative practice for her, despite the fact that her lovely pan of apple slices was periodically raided by kids.  When I think of the considerable labor it takes for me to make a pie using enormous, perfect apples, it’s pretty humbling.

I am a better cook, in general, than my mom was.  We didn’t have a lot of financial security growing up, and she used some cheap-ass ingredients and menu-stretching methods as a result.  She was also allergic to onions and to black pepper, so the Flavor-Meter was pretty much permanently set to “Bland.” Another side effect of Depression days was the practice of cooking the hell out of everything.  And when I say “hell,” I mean flavor and texture and nutrients.  My mom burned out many a cheap pan while cooking vegetables on the stove.  The one exception to this rule was her baking, and especially her pie baking.  The apple peeling process described above yielded a mixture of apples, whose flavors would meld together into something pretty remarkable.

Right now, I have some Granny Smiths and some Winesaps in the kitchen.  Neither are shiny from the grocery store.  Both were locally grown.  Winesaps are tough to find, and they were not named after an over-emotional drunk.  You must try them, especially in a pie, to understand.

I know, I know—those pricey Honeycrisps are trademarked and tasty.  But if you get a chance, hit a farmer’s market and try something that is old along with something that is new.  And remember that it won’t kill you to cut off a blemish; it takes a lot of chemical seasoning to make an apple look “perfect.”

 

Victory Garden Defeat—the battle, not the war July 23, 2012

Leave a garden for a week during a heatwave, and this may be the only happy thing left.  It’s pretty clear that some of these plants just didn’t even make an effort to stay around, resentful little wimps that they are.  Apparently, they are not fond of pre-teen neighbor attention, and went all drought drama queen on her.  Some supposedly fantastic basil variety just decided life wasn’t worth living without me.  Really, BASIL? Are you not aware of your own horticultural roots (so to speak)? Your cousins over in the container seemed to be happy to continue living, while you decided that suicide was the only option.  Whatever. Let’s just say that you have not earned a spot in the Peachy garden of 2013.

Our Purple Heart goes to our darling dear one, the erstwhile fighter of a cherry tomato, little Sungold.  Before I snapped this shot, her eight or so sisters had already been snatched up and gobbled down by a kid who has fallen hook, line, and sinker for the propaganda that these things are as sweet as candy!  In this case, it is actually true.  And intensified by the crazy heat and lack of rain.  These babies on a pizza are insanely delicious.

If I were an urban farmer, like our neighbors down the street, I would be in severe danger of not making the grade right now. Edible flowers don’t put up so well for the winter.  As it stands, I am grateful for the opportunity to support those local farmers who didn’t go away last week, and whose crops didn’t throw the white flag up quite so quickly.  In the meantime, I am giving cool showers to all those folks in my yard who decided to stick around and give August a shot.

 

Caprese Salad: The Food of the Gods July 9, 2012

This is what dinner looks like (in July) in a home where a teacher lives!  There is basil in the garden! Tomatoes aren’t “in” yet (that means in season, not trendy) in the backyard, but you can get some at the grocery store that don’t taste like soggy rice cakes.

Okay, the bologna thing still happens.  See previous confession, “Bad Parenting with Bologna/Baloney”

I know that you want a stylized, Pinteresque tutorial on how to construct this delicacy, so here is a picture of the ingredients:

Here’s what you do: Chop up some garlic and then warm it up with a couple of tablespoons of good olive oil in the microwave (or on the stove, if you feel that microwaves are Satan’s cooking devices—but, really, come on—his appliances were installed long before the introduction of the lowly microwave).  This makes the fresh garlic less raw and bitey.  If you want to offend Giada De Laurentiis, you may want to substitute garlic powder.  Then whisk in a tablespoon or so of balsamic vinegar.  By this time, you have sliced and arranged your tomatoes and fresh mozzarella in a way that could only be done by someone who did not go to work today.  If you did go to work, and you can still do this, I just need to hold on to the the belief that you have some large dust bunnies nesting elsewhere.  Toast up that nice Italian bread a bit, arrange it and your lovely basil and then drizzle your garlic/oil/balsamic yum over everything. Salt and fresh ground pepper.  Serve chewing gum for dessert, as everyone’s breath will smell like that of an old Italian dude.

Boom! Food of the Gods!

 

When All the Mulch is Gone May 26, 2012

I was at our friendly neighborhood mega mulch mart a couple of weeks ago, and it appeared as though I had somehow missed some universal homeowner memo requiring the purchase of multiple bags of mulch.  Do Homeowner Associations mandate this sort of thing? Are the color options limited? One can only hope that the red stuff is a violation.

I did start to get a little worried about the prospect of a time when the mulch bags run out, when all that is left is a ripped bag of the maxi bark chunks the size of a bar of Ivory soap.  It is 2012, after all.

I remember a time when only a tiny minority mulched their landscapes (or even referred to their yards as “landscapes”–those were pictures above the couch), and most of them used white pebbles, and strategically planted skinny tufts of grass amidst the stones at random intervals, presumably intended to create a sense of whimsical informality.  It was a God-awful time in landscape history.

No, I am not a Geritol customer, but I have what may be a disproportionate awareness of the past of my parents.  I think it is safe to say that folks who have early memories of the Great Depression and WWII tend to be less vigorous mulchmasters than, for instance, Reagan era Young Republicans.  Granted, it takes a darned spritely octogenarian to spread more than a cut off half-gallon milk jug full of mulch, but it’s more than that. Much, much more. It has been suggested in some academic circles that the rise of the mulch nation and its obsession with putting freshly colored stuff on top of everything may, in fact, have been a tribute to Reagan’s own ever-youthful hair color.  Will this man’s contributions ever cease to amaze? I know.

This all begs the sobering question: what will you do when the mulch runs out? Are you prepared to live without it? Or will you be among the numbers shredding dining room furniture?

image: http://berkeleygardencoach.files.wordpress.com/2011/10/mulch-choices-m.jpg

 

Accepting Donations NOW-Be the change I want to see in my house May 24, 2012

Something happened while I was out teaching America’s underprivileged youth.

I found out after I was forced to venture down to the basement at twelve the other night to find a fan.  It was creepy, but not as creepy as trying to sleep in the stenchly mug.  I was not about to attempt to install my room air conditioner at this delicate point in the night (one of my worst nightmares has to do with dropping an air conditioner out of the window, thus destroying my oakleaf hydrangea–and maybe damaging the house a little bit too-with a passing notion of a human being slammed by said unit). So I found the fan, dragged it upstairs, and plopped it on the floor next to my side of the bed.

The macabre discovery occurred the next day.  You should know that our dog is a black mop of Springer/Poodle mix.  They called her a “Springerdoodle,” but, really—there’s not much doodle going on, and quite a generous dose of spring, especially if she has never met  you.  In laymen’s terms, she’s a spazz. She weighs in at about 30 pounds.  This is important, if only to assist in visualizing the dust bunny that I mistook for the dog.  The damned fan apparently awakened the sleeping giant dust bunnies who had been dormant for weeks.  Or possibly months, depending on the calendar you use.  In cosmic or evolutionary terms, really, a mere blink of an eye.

This brings us to the amazing microfinancing opportunity that has landed here for you.  Clearly, I could use some Merry Maids, or an equivalent outfit, to help me with this situation.  But wait! It’s not because I am lazy and don’t want to do adequate cleaning! It’s all about the Cleaning Person Effect that I have heard about (never having experienced the magical spell of having someone else clean my house).  If there is an appointment with a cleaning service, I will be forced to clean up to prepare for their arrival!! You suburbanites and aspiring hoarders can back me up here.

So simmer down and dig deep.  If you have a service mentality (and God knows that you should), this is your chance to make a difference to me, to my family, to my students who are sick of my asking them to come over and wash my dishes, and to those who will benefit from an uplifting get together following the Peachy/Maid collaboration!

My humble thanks are yours in advance.

 

 
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