Category Archives: Gardens

Minding my Ps and Qs

BEEB0672-60F8-4749-932A-8773DC4DA611(As in where my mind goes during a Pandemic and Quarantine)

How will we collectively and individually remember these days? What will this experience etch upon each of us?

I’ve never been so relieved to not own a small business. This must be the most challenging situation small business owners have ever imagined, must less, faced.

In this time of mandatory physical distancing, has gardening become the new intimate contact? There’s a certain satisfaction to be had from getting your heart rate up and getting a little dirty and my backyard has never looked better.

Is a pandemic a valid reason for not observing street cleaning parking regulations in Albany? I believe street parking meters fees have been suspended, but am I jerk for thinking it isn’t too much for my neighbors to move their cars for three hours on a weekday when they’re obviously home?

Can you appreciate how fortunate we are that this illness took aim at our country in spring? How much more desperate would we each be feeling if it were the onset of winter instead of the prelude to a season of growth and natural beauty?

What do you miss the most from “normal” life? What will you do when we are eventually released to resume regular programming?

Do you ever imagine that maybe these times might cause our contemporary society to reset? That we might change what we value most in our world?

Is it really ok that CEOs make millions of $ a year, while nurses, store clerks and delivery drivers earn so much less? When you consider the contributions they’re each making at this time, how do you justify the incredibly broad income gap  between the top earners and the rest of the population?

What about you? What have you been thinking?

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Filed under Albany, DelSo, Gardens, ideas, Local, musings, Observations, Spring, upstate New York

Maintaining the six foot rule

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Flowers in bunches are beautiful. People, not so much.

Walking these days take some attention. I mean, it always demanded that we have our eyes and ears open, but walking in the midst of a pandemic requires an additional sense  – as in common sense.

As Jeter and I meander our way through the street of Albany, I now have to consciously take of note of people who might cross paths with us and decide how to best evade them. Cross the street? Go wide? Make eye contact? Smile?

It can all feel a little awkward.

As I walked yesterday I considered how the act of being a contemporary pedestrian was forged into the brains and muscle memory of a lot of 80s kids. We were raised on Centipede, Frogger, Pac-Man and Asteroids. We know how to avoid shit that pops up in front of us and gets in our way. Navigating through perils was a part of our childhood.

The sunshine helps and I appreciated the feel of it on my back Saturday afternoon. Put on some warm clothes and get outside while you can. Breathe deep. Take care of yourselves and each other. Six feet away beats six feet under by miles.

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Filed under Albany, beauty, Exercise, friends, Gardens, musings, Observations, Recommendations, sick, Spring, stress, upstate New York

The inevitability of spring

We each respond differently to frightening and uncertain times. Some say that the media is exaggerating and insist that the situation is not nearly as dire as it is being portrayed. Others feel the need to purchase and hoard essentials without thought to those who may need immediate access to basic household items such as toilet paper and soap. Or maybe, instead of stockpiling supplies, you’re actually working your way through that stash of alcohol and ice cream that you’ve been saving for the perfect occasion. You know, like today.

I suspect that most, though, are doing their best to continue to meet the demands of family and work while remaining cognitive of the obvious shifting of importance of each of those aspects of life. There’s no two ways about it – this is a very scary time and there’s no telling when we will have our normal lives back again.

So, be kind to one another. Check in with your neighbors before heading to the store. This would be a great time to create a virtual neighborhood group on Facebook for communicating with people who live by you. Do some yard work. Clean out the basement. Take long walks. Look for and acknowledge signs of spring. It’s still coming.

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Filed under Albany, beauty, Flowers, Gardens, Local, musings, News, Observations, Recommendations, Spring, stress

Cathedral in Bloom, 2020

Gorgeous welcome courtesy of Kate Fleming of the Floral Garden

Even when winter has been relatively mild there’s still excitement for spring, particularly in upstate New York. As the crocus and daffodils start popping through last season’s faded mulch, I can’t help but begin looking forward to afternoons on the deck (or stoop) and sandals on my feet. Looks like we’ve almost made it to another spring, friends!

Yesterday I got a giant dose of the upcoming season in a floral fashion when I visited the second edition of Cathedral in Bloom Albany’s amazing  Cathedral of All Saints. This gothic edifice, which always seems to be overlooked in favor of the more visible Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, is absolutely magnificent. The craftsmanship and architecture of the building provided an excellent backdrop to the artistic and fragrant floral displays and I appreciated the spaciousness of the minimally furnished interior.

Very Madonna ”Like a Virgin,” no?

In years past when there was a similar event hosted by the NYS Museum, I was a regular visitor. The inspiration of the museum exhibits always provided a cohesive theme to the floral arrangements and, while I miss that component, the new venue allows for a fresh approach and provides opportunity for growth as the event gains traction.

I imagine the weekend opening hours will be more densely attended than yesterday’s opening day, but parking should be readily available – and if it isn’t the weather forecast looks inviting. May as well take a walk and grab a drink or bite to eat while you’re downtown. Plan accordingly, breathe deeply and enjoy the preview of spring!

 

 

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Filed under Albany, art, beauty, Events, Flowers, Gardens, ideas, Local, Observations, Recommendations, Spring, upstate New York

Past peak

Jeter and I went for a little run the other afternoon. It was little because my body is currently in protest mode, refusing to run more than 3 or 4 miles without demanding a stretch or moment’s walk. The discomfort has shifted from being exclusively felt by my feet and hips to a more general sensation radiating from my rear pelvic region, hips and glutes. A joy it is not.

We ran one of my favorite routes – down the yellow brick road and around the perimeter of the big field down by the Normanskill Farm. Jeter swam for the last time of the year (again) and I chugged along the path, consoling myself with the view as I tried to focus on the positive. Like the view.

The trees remained beautiful, despite the scarcity of the leaves clinging to their branches in their shades of orange, yellow and red. I thought about a recent meme I had seen.


I considered the irony of reaching peak beauty only to release your stunningness and watch it fall to the ground.  I chided myself for not having the same grace, for not being as capable when it came to letting go.  Why was I occupying my mind with thoughts of how much easier this run once had been instead of celebrating the fact that I was simply out there doing it?

Wasn’t it unreasonable of me to expect to remain the same physically despite the passing of time?

Maybe I was past peak.

But, if I am, so what?

It’s not like a tree losing its leaves dies. No, it just shifts into a different season, one in which it strips itself bare and hunkers down until the eventual snows melt. In spring it returns to life with the coaxing of the sun. It’s probably not exactly the same in its new year as it had been in its past, but it really doesn’t matter to a tree, does it?

It shouldn’t matter to me either.

 

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Filed under aging, Albany, beauty, Delaware Avenue, DelSo, Exercise, Gardens, Local, musings, Normanskill, Observations, running, upstate New York

First impressions – Dublin, 2019

Yesterday was the first time I’ve visited Dublin since 2013. Here’s what struck me…

I heard an amazing array of languages and saw numerous ethnic markets as I walked the streets for hours.

The 3-day visitor’s trip transit pass is a great deal at 19.50

It’s dirtier than I remember it being. There seems to be a (un)fair amount of trash in the streets and in the wooded areas next to the roads.

Recycling doesn’t seem to be a thing. I didn’t notice any public bins for plastics or glass sorting.

Molly Malone along with her cockles and mussels has been relocated! You’ll find her these days in front of the tourist agency, near Avoca.

Lots of skinny jeans – for young men, that is. Their female counterparts were more often wearing high-waisted “mom” jeans, often with cropped tops.

While I know from past experience that there is excellent food to be had in Dublin, it’s easy to get mediocre food. I disappointingly went 0 for 2 on my meals yesterday.

On a related note, when will I learn that the batter on fish and chips makes my stomach turn after the third bite? It’s just too much oil for me, I think.

Spring is in full swing here with flowers and trees blooming in St. Stephen’s Green. The tulips are lovely, but don’t approach Albany’s spring display.

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Filed under beauty, Europe, family, Flowers, Food, Gardens, Ireland, Observations, Spring, travel, vacation

Grow strong

I saw something on the Facebook the other day on a page I follow. It’s a gardening/flower appreciation sort of page and there was a post about how important it is to prune plants because otherwise the parts which are struggling to stay alive will prevent the healthier parts from flourishing. It’s something that I, of course, have heard before, but for whatever reason it’s been kicking around my head ever since. Why is it such a struggle to eliminate that which no longer holds future promise? Particularly when it comes at the peril of something that demonstrates positive growth?

My relationship with plants is complicated and long. There was a time when I felt incapable of providing enough attention and support to my boys and my plants. In those days I had one plant, a vine-y sort of thing that had become mine when I was about 20 and had been my responsibility for about a dozen years at that point. It was, and continues to be, low maintenance. This plant was joined by a rubber tree, adopted when a friend moved out of town, when my oldest was in kindergarten almost two decades ago. It is a massive plant now and when I relocate it to its summer home on the back deck, I have to tip it at an angle to maneuver it out the sliding glass door. During the months it resides outside, it grows in a remarkably prolific way gaining a new shiny leaf almost every single day. It’s beautiful.

Those two plants were it for me for a long time. Gradually, though, in the last 7 or 8 years I’ve collected quite a few additional ones including a Boston fern that went full circle dead to almost lush to dead, a passion flower that has yet to bloom for me, citronella and lavender plants which I never expected to overwinter and now have done so for two years, a mature jade and an aloe, and an asparagus fern that is finally doing well. My dining room, with its soft yellow walls and dozen plants, brings me joy even on the gloomiest of days. It just feels warm and alive.

Plants aren’t necessarily as challenging to care for as children, but they do require some attention. It feels like I water, rotate and move them around pretty frequently, as I attempt to encourage them to grow. I’ve gotten pretty comfortable with trimming them and cutting “off the dead and dying stuff,” as suggested on that Facebook page I referenced above, because I know intellectually that the plant will “put all its energy into keeping that dying leaf alive,” neglecting healthier parts in the process. And, who the hell wants that?

In all honesty, though, I do falter when it comes to completely giving up. That Boston fern I lovingly nurtured for years, responded to my absence at the holidays last year by dying, despite how much I wanted it to live. I don’t have the heart to throw it away, so it’s currently in a purgatory state in my kitchen. It’s either going to come back to life or be replaced in its pot by the baby Boston fern I was given a few weeks ago. Whatever it does, it’s beyond my control. I’m going to just direct my attentions to the plants which are more committed to being alive and do my best to help them grow strong.

What’s your relationship with houseplants? How are they growing?

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