One, One-Thousand

Growing up I learned to count by seconds saying “one/one-thousand, two/one-thousand” and so on. This counting device has been rattling around my brain all week as I pondered my 1,000th post. I considered other titles but you know how it goes: this one (one thousand) stuck.

Of course as soon as I realized I was a couple of posts away from 1,000 I panicked. Should I write something profound? What if I don’t have anything profound to say? Could I just keep writing and ignore the milestone? Who would know or care?

Is it time to check my ego at the door?

After all, it’s just a number. I don’t remember my 100th post or my 650th post either.

Somewhere along the way I transitioned from being a writer who blogs to a blogger who writes to connect with kindred spirits around the world. To blog is to be a part of a community. I found my people!

Of course it didn’t take 1,000 posts to figure this out. I wonder, though if I would still be blogging without you. Here is what I know:

Bloggers are kind:

gifts from bloggers

Beautiful and creative gifts from fellow bloggers

After starting a blog, trips to the mailbox became fun again. My heart still skips a beat when I see postage from another country on the top of a package or on the corner of a postcard. There is a special thrill receiving happy mail the old-fashioned way. It’s ironic too, since bloggers meet in a uniquely on-line medium. When my sweet Slinky died, I received heartfelt condolence cards in the mail. They meant so much to me. I love the sweet notes and the clever postcards you send and I’m aware of the time and care that goes into sending them. We all hear about on-line nastiness, but I seem to reside in a bubble of blogging kindness.

Bloggers are generous:

Blogging give-aways

Framed picture,left: Pauline made this art using my father’s vintage stamps. It’s a stunning piece. Framed picture, right: A blogger give away (artist Pauline King) Bavarian quilt in background, right: A a blogger giveaway from Dani who sadly is no longer blogging.

Where do I start?  Bloggers carefully and thoughtfully read your posts, then leave amazing comments. It’s an extraordinary gift. It’s also common to find that a fellow blogger took the time to do a bit of research, before dropping a link relevant to the topic at hand. Several of you have hosted generous blog give-a ways. It’s always something clever and unique. I’m delighted when I win, which has happened twice! and equally charmed to see others take home the prize.

Bloggers are creative:

When I first learned about blogging, I thought of it as words without pictures, more of a log than anything else. Boy was I wrong. I follow mixed-media artists, painters, and card-makers, as well as bloggers who sew, quilt, knit and crochet. Extraordinary photographers expand my world while brilliant writers can make me laugh or weep. I’m learning about weaving, what it means to throw a shuttle and how to turn an IKEA chair into a work of art.  I took part in a Sisterhood Traveling Sketchbook, a Craft it Forward Project and a Cards for Katherine celebration. Beautiful art graces my wall and a light-catcher bounces sunlight around my kitchen. Each year a growing number of hand-made Christmas ornaments decorate our tree.

Bloggers are a wonderful excuse to travel:

Bloggers here, bloggers there, bloggers, bloggers everywhere: New York, Alexandria, VA, Washington, D.C, Jasper, Alberta, Canada, Victoria, BC, Canada, Radford, VA

Ten years ago, I couldn’t imagine owning a mobile phone the size of a deck of cards that doubled as a camera while holding all my contact information, allowing me to listen to music or watch silly cat videos. Five years ago I couldn’t imagine that I would travel to Virginia, Washington, D.C., New York, Victoria and Edmonton to meet and spend time with fellow bloggers. Blogging opened up a whole new world. Friendships cultivated online continue to grow and thrive in person. It’s extraordinary.

And finally, what anyone who blogs, knows: A blogger’s comment can make your day.

Here I am at the end of my 1,000th post. Have I written something profound? Definitely not. But the experiences I’ve gathered along the way are profound. I owe it all to you.

Two, one-thousand…

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Our Little Free Library Gets a Makeover

Little Free Library original

Little Free Library, January, 2014

When I spotted a Little Free Library in nearby Campbell in 2013, it was love at first site. The idea of my own Little Free Library held great appeal. It took awhile to bring it all together, but in January of 2014 our curbside Little Free Library or LFL made its debut. We dedicated the library in May that year and it’s seen a steady stream of visitors ever since.

My friend Nick Timmerman built the library using reclaimed materials. It’s held up well, but last year it started to leak. I had to cover the library with  recycled packing material to keep it operational during our wet winter.

Little Free Library March 2017

Little Free Library under cover

Now the library is undergoing a facelift.  I wanted something fun and whimsical, so I reached out to my friend Donna Pierre. Donna is a talented fine artist and a muralist. It’s a treat to see the details unfold. I’m excited to share the finished library soon. Meanwhile, here are a few pics of the process:

Little Free Library Primed for painting

Primed, painted and sealed

Donna Pierre painting the Little Free Library

Donna Pierre: taping off lines for the log cabin detail

Little Free Library Log Cabin Detail

The log cabin effect

Little Free Library Log Cabin Detail

Back of the library

It’s been unseasonably hot these past few days, after a week of unseasonably cold weather. You never know these days which end is up. Once the weather improves, Donna will be back. I’m so excited.

As you can see from the last photo, my sweet pea jungle is wilting from the heat. I knew it was inevitable, but I’ll be sorry to see them go. The Nigella (love-in-a-mist) are filling in some of the vacated spots, and the cornflowers are hanging in there too. The bees love the Nigella and I love the bees so three cheers for synchronicity.

spring flower bouquet

Flowers for Kathee

My sister stops by every Sunday to pick up a small bouquet for her friend, Kathee who is on hospice.  This past weekend I added three miniature yellow roses to the small bouquet. It’s been nice to bring a bit of color to her day.

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Halving The Fairy Garden, Doubling Down on Peace

Miniatrue Buddha

Miniature Buddha

The dictionary defines peace in a couple of ways:

“freedom from disturbance; quiet and tranquility” or “freedom from or the cessation of war or violence.”

My personal mantra for attaining peace is a mixture of what we all learned in kindergarten coupled with the moral philosophy of the golden rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

Simple, eh?

Yet here we are in a fractious and complicated world, trying to keep our heads up and our eyes open. I struggle finding the balance between remaining informed and drowning in the daily assault of depressing, maddening and unwelcome news.

Over the past few weeks I’ve been mentally planning a miniature peace garden. While it’s true that merely being in the garden is peaceful and uplifting, I wanted something more. I craved a touchstone for my own inner peace.

I started with a miniature Buddha, long a symbol of peace and enlightenment. I discovered my Buddha on a website dedicated to gardening in miniature.

Alyssum, Thyme, Baby Tears, Buddha

Buddha surrounded by sweet Alyssum, Thyme and Baby Tears

I bought a pair of shallow, glazed pots in a soothing green at a local shop.

miniature peace garden

Peace garden on the deck near our front door

Buddha sits under a tree of Lemon Thyme, with Alyssum on each side. I carpeted the rest of the garden in cool Soleirolia soleirolii also known as baby tears. Other than the boulder-sized stones, the rest of the items came from my fairy garden stash.

The cool colors and the lovely honey-scented  Alyssum are a balm to the nerves. As the summer wears on, the Alyssum will fall softly over the edge of the pot.

Across the log bridge you’ll find a small bench at the top of a path, and a few blue glass stones to suggest water.

Miniature Peace Garden

Across the bridge, a cool pond and a bench for quiet reflection

A simpler version of the fairy garden, reduced by half, sits on the wall along the walkway. Our Little Free Library is undergoing some renovations, so the books are temporarily in a purple bin.

Fairy garden and Little Free Library

A smaller fairy garden, moved to the front of the garden; our Little Free Library undergoing a renovation; LFL books are in the purple bin

This small garden brings me moments of peace. I hope visitors will gather a moment’s peace as well during these trying times.

I’m sending hope and light and love out into the world. Without them I’d be lost.

Miniature peace garden at dusk

Miniature peace garden at dusk

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When Cats Act Like Toddlers

Mouse the Cat has personality to spare. I adore him from his cute little ears

cat with Nigella

to his sometimes-scented toes.

cat feet in violets

Living with Mouse is akin to life with a toddler. He’ll go non-stop, then suddenly collapse in a heap somewhere. He insists on being picked up or carried, oblivious to the fact that you may have things to do.

Holding a cat

I’ll just hang out here while you get some gardening done (2013)

cat on my back

Your hair needs washing. I can help you with that

Mouse on deck

On Deck (2016)

He wants in and then he wants out. He stands on his back paws and peers out the door with a demanding sense of urgency. Life is always better on the other side of a door when you’re a cat. He wants to follow me into the bathroom as well, just like my own boys did when they were two.

He loves to “help.”

Mouse with embroidery

Are you embroidering a rodent?

I can help with that, too.

Crafty Cat (2017)

When he wants your attention, he wants it NOW!

Yes, NOW!

Mouse (2013)

He adheres to the toddler principal of “what’s mine is mine.”

cat on a box

I assume this is a gift for me? (2014)

cat eating grass

You don’t mind if I eat this, do you? (2014)

We could have brought home a goldfish instead of surrounding ourselves with cats, but I can’t imagine how dull life would be. Toddlers might be terrors, but they also possess an infectious energy and charm.

This four-legged “toddler” technically belongs to a neighbor, but he moved in with us years ago and we’re so glad he stayed. We wouldn’t want it any other way. This year Mouse turns 7 in human years but in our hearts he’ll always be 2.

Who’s demanding your attention this week?

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Communal Sweet Peas

My bountiful sweet peas are enjoying a bit of celebrity. They continue to grow taller, fuller, and more fragrant by the day, attracting comments from neighbors and friends.  I had a chuckle the other day when my petite neighbor passed the house on the sidewalk, momentarily disappearing behind the tall vines.  When she reemerged on the other side I smiled. Who knew that a garden overflowing with delicate and fragrant flowers could be so uplifting?

Sweet peas embrace the Chinese Pistache

If I were still ten-years-old I would build a fort in the middle of the sweet peas. There would be a secret entrance and everything.  As it is, I can no longer reach the center of the garden, where a few tall weeds are thumbing their nose at me.

A tangle of sweet peas, Nigella, and cornflowers with a few of the natives peaking through

Since returning from my travels, I’ve cut sweet peas for a friend’s birthday and as a thinking-of-you posy. Today I took small jars of flowers to my Pilates classmates. I’ve filled bottles and jars with the sweet blooms, accompanied by cornflowers and Nigella buds for a bit of greenery.

This is the first time I’ve used my “From the Garden Of” stamp. It came in a small box with a green stamp pad and a small, green pencil.

A close-up of my gardening stamp

It’s Teacher Appreciation Week, so a neighbor asked if she could cut some flowers for her son’s teacher. It’s wonderful sharing the bounty.

I chased a bee with my camera, but to no avail. He had places to go, flowers to pollinate.

A blush of pink: a new color this season

The original starter seeds were a gift from my friend Kelly. She thoughtfully included purple so that my sister Sharon could also enjoy them when she came for a visit. I’d never planted sweet peas before so I made a novice move and planted them in the spring. The plants fizzled, so Kelly and I surmised that they didn’t like the conditions in San Jose. Eventually we let the front lawn die off and replaced the area with native and drought tolerant plants.

As far as I can tell, the process of turning the soil in the fall, followed by a generous helping of rain awakened the seeds. They spread all over the garden, jumping the sidewalk and making a run for the street. It’s hard to convey the joy I get from this garden.

The sweet peas won’t last through the summer. One major heat wave will be their undoing. My Canadian friends can keep them going for the summer, but in semi-arid San Jose, the flowers wilt in the heat like me. Knowing this makes them all the more sweet.

The last two days have been insufferably hot in the Bay Area. We’re within three degrees of breaking a heat record for this time of year with 87 F (31C) predicted in San Jose. Fortunately the weather is cooling off by the weekend so we can sleep comfortably once again.

I hope this week’s heat won’t send my sweet peas packing. Last year’s crop lasted through June. I’m working hard at living in the moment, remaining mindful, while enjoying that subtle fragrance wafting through the evening air.

Jars of sweet peas decorated with vintage seam binding and my new “From the Garden” stamp

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Featured on Wayfair: Planters You’ll Love

Sure, sure, I know a couple of things about potting plants, but no one would ever call me an expert. I’ve had my hands in the dirt since I was two, but there is always more to learn.

So imagine my delight when Brooke Magliozzi of Wayfair got in touch and asked me to answer a few questions for a blog post on planter types. The post features about a dozen garden bloggers who describe their favorite type of planter, and offer personal tips on choosing the right planter for your home.

According to their about page:

Wayfair offers a zillion things home. With one of the world’s largest online selections of furniture, home furnishings, décor and goods, including more than seven million products from over 7,000 suppliers, Wayfair helps people find the perfect product at the right price.

The Wayfair blog features my three-tiered, DIY clay planters, a project I shared on my blog back in 2013. If you want to read how I created the “flower-tower” you can head back in time to Flower Tower in (a Few) Hours.

If you click on over to Planters You’ll Love: Planter Tips From the Experts, you’ll see my entry about half way down the page.

Planter Types graphic courtesy of Wayfair. It was fun seeing my unique planter featured on their blog.

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How Many Bloggers Can You Fit In a Phone Booth?

That’s a trick question. Phone booths are largely a thing of the past.  Wouldn’t it be fun to try though?

Instead I did the next best thing. I packed my bags for Washington, D.C., Virginia and New York and met with bloggers everywhere I went.

After an extraordinary 48 hours in Atlanta visiting The Carter Center and the Atlanta Botanical Gardens, I flew to Washington, D.C.

Another airport, another flight delay. No matter. I sustained myself with chocolate and a large bottle of water along with the knowledge that Laurie would be waiting at the airport.

Laurie behind the camera

Laurie is a women’s health practitioner, a biker, an extraordinary photographer and an all around wonderful person. She’s quick with a laugh, sharp and funny. I admire her involvement in her community of Radford, Virginia and all she does to improve the lives of others. If you’re not already following along, please check her out at Life on the Bike and Other Fab Things.

My sense of direction is abysmal, so though we made it to the hotel courtesy of Google maps, it took us another twenty minutes to sort out the maze known as Dupont Circle. I knew that our hotel was in the same building as Starbucks (it wasn’t) and I knew that we were so close. Good grief, it’s a wonder she’s still speaking to me. I find it uncomfortable being directionally challenged. Thanks to Laurie, we made it.

Kelly, who blogs at Boomdeeadda and Kelly’s Korner already had the wine chilled. She arrived from Canada earlier in the week to visit with Julia. Kelly and I became fast friends through our mutual blogs nearly five years ago. We’re kindred spirits who love to travel. This holiday marks our seventh visit, even though we live in different countries, hundreds of miles apart.

Kelly in Times Square (Kelly’s husband treated us to a Broadway play called Waitress)

Saturday we joined Julia of Defeat Despair, and her son Matt for lunch in Old Town Alexandria. Julia’s been through a difficult time this past year with the loss of her husband, Jeff after a long illness. He died  a few months after he retired. Kelly and I planned to visit Julia in the spring after things were more settled, but life continues for her on a difficult path. I’m glad we could see her.

Old Town, Alexandria: Laurie, Matt, Julia, Kelly and me

Arlington Cemetery with Julia and Kelly

On Tuesday,  Julia took us to see Jeff’s grave at Arlington Cemetery.  It was beautiful and sobering, and we all abandoned pretense and gave in to our tears.

Alexandria, Virginia: Lisa, Laurie, Kelly and Me draped in Pauline King’s Scarf design

Lisa of Arlingwords joined us for a glass of wine, dinner, and a romp through Old Town, a place filled with beauty and history. I love the brick buildings, some of them nearly 300 years old. What a testament to building practices of the time. Tulips were up everywhere.

Tulips in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia

Lisa lives in Arlington and works for the State Department in DC. Lisa participates in the The Arlington Food Assistance Center’s (AFAC) Plot Against Hunger project. Some of the produce she grows helps supplement groceries for community members in need.

We spent five days dividing our time between Arlington, Alexandria and D.C. before boarding a train for New York City. Joe is an incredible photographer. He blogs at The Visual Chronicle and Monochromia. He’s an all around nice guy, who welcomed us to New York, greeting us at Penn Station. Joe and his lovely wife Terry hired a cab to our hotel, then waited in the hotel bar while we settled in.

Grant Central Station, New York: Terry, Joe, me and Kelly. photo credit: Patricia Fogarty

The Rare Bar & Grill Murray Hill, Affinia Shelburne Hotel, New York, NY. Patricia, me, Kelly, Terry and Joe. Photo credit: Patricia Fogarty

Joe invited Patricia to join us, and join us she did. We wandered around Grand Central Station and enjoyed watching Joe and Patti, both photographers, compare cameras and snap pics.

Joe and Terry treated us to a round of drinks, then later took us to dinner at a fabulous place called Eataly (think Eatery + Italy). We dined on amazing pasta, browsed the shops and got to know each other over dinner.

We’ve all said it before and it’s worth saying  again: how about this big, beautiful world of blogging? My heart is full.

The Bloggers

Alys at Gardening Nirvana, California

Joe at The Visual Chronicle New York

Julia at Defeat Despair, Virginia

Kelly at Boomdeeadda and Kelly’s Korner, Edmonton, Canada

Laurie at Life on the Bike and Other Fab Things, Virginia

Lisa at Arlingwords, Virginia

Patricia (Patti) at Nylon Daze,  New York

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