Gardening grinds down the sharp edges of anger


Some time ago, I wrote a blog post about how gardening is good for dealing with depression. Today I found another good use for the act of gardening: grinding down anger.

Today I got some really disturbing news from my lawyer. I won’t go into all the messy little details, but suffice it to say that my ex husband is even more depraved and mean-spirited than I had earlier been given to understand. What I found out was so hurtful and made me so angry I just wanted to scream. But I didn’t…and I didn’t cry either. The man isn’t worth his salt, and he sure isn’t worth the salt in my tears.

In stead, I looked around for something to channel all of my negative feelings into. When I looked out my dining room window, I was reminded that I still had the rest of my garden to dig up, and I’ve got seeds to plant. Given that I was going to be out in my yard, I decided that perhaps a trip to my local garden center wouldn’t be such a bad idea, either. I spent probably more than I should have, but for the most part, I purchased plants that will either come back next year, or reseed themselves easily.

For a long time, I’ve really avoided buying flowers because I wanted to focus my resources towards setting up my little plot of land as a haven of permaculture. I want pretty much everything that grows here to be able to come back every year and provide some kind of fruit or berry that I can feed my family. Something I didn’t take into consideration was that permaculture does require flowering plants to attract bees and other beneficial insects as part of the plan. Well, today, I invested in just that. Flowers. I did buy a couple of herb plants, but the majority were just lovely pretty things that will make my landscape look nicer and make me smile when I come home at the end of the day.

What I brought home were miniature daisies, johnny jump ups, pansies, day lilies, ferns, wooly thyme, oregano, and dill seed. I spent all day finishing up digging up the garden to get the weeds out, and I planted flowers until I was finally tired. The following pictures show the beginnings of what will be a frilly, colorful garden by the time Midsummer hits.

The daisies, pansies and johnny jump ups will make a nice cover for my slow-growing blueberry shrubs, as I planted them in the holes of the cinder blocks lining the blue berry garden.

Just a quick note here about the pink flamingo. It’s one of my favorite things in my whole yard, even though it’s rickety and the paint is peeling. It was made to be plant stand, and I think I’m going to fix it up and find a nice thing to put in it instead of my water bottle!

I have quite a lot of rock bed surrounding my house, and I decided that today was time to liven it up a little bit. I found these fabulous little ferns that should spread out and get little white button flowers on them. I also put in a Stella D’Oro Daylily, which will look fabulous once it gets established. They get really bushy and are prolific bloomers.

The long and the short of this post, is that I finally found something that wears off the jagged edges of my anger. Good hard work out side, where I can build something permanent and worth while, takes that anger and uses it as a generator for the greater good. It morphs from something cutting and destructive into something that paves the way for nicer things. Now my task is to keep the momentum going and get the inside of my house done too!

Hug your favorite tree…you never know when someone will cut it down


Here in my little town, which isn’t so little any more, we’ve had a really crappy development. The business I work at is located on the Northwest edge of town, not too far from the corner of 21st ave and the 83 bypass. In the field on that corner there was a wheat field, and it had this lovely, great big burr oak growing in it.

I was fortunate enough to have taken one picture of it. This particular picture was taken in September 2010, just before the leaves began to turn. There is more to see beyond this tree…quite a nice view of the valley from the Western edge of the Cube Farm property, but not for long.

It is a common phenomenon in North Dakota to see a lone tree growing in a field. Some speculate that farmers left a tree here or there so they would have a shady spot to take a break under. It seems plausible, and I have to wonder how many different times this tree sheltered someone in the middle of a hot work day. I estimate that it was somewhere between 75-100 years old when it was cut down. It would be interesting to have a playback of all that has happened in the presence of this tree. I’m guessing there have been some interesting things going on when nobody was looking.

Because of the dire situation in Minot with the lack of housing, due to last year’s flood and all of the oil workers swarming into the area, all the available land is being snapped up and built up with homes. I truly do understand the need, and we all knew it was coming, but I wonder why it is a good idea to tear down this lovely tree rather than use it as the focal point for a park in the new neighborhood that is in the process of being built? I predict that the homes that are to be built here will be cookie cutter in nature, smallish,  and set very close together.  I can’t say that it will be an improvement.

There are a lot of people at the Cube Farm who will be really angry that this tree was torn down. So many of us enjoyed watching it change with the seasons. Sometimes, when times were stressful it was nice to take a break and walk out to the Western edge of the property and just watch the branches of the tree sway with the breeze. That simple activity did so much to help decrease my stress level. I am very sad to see this lovely tree go.

Now that Spring is here, I’ll be out and about taking pictures again, and will show the “progress” that has happened since I last took pictures around the edge of town. It’s now become my new hobby to catalog the changes in the landscape around town with all the building going on.

Don’t forget to hug your favorite tree…someone may cut it down when you aren’t looking.

My to-do list is so daunting, I need a Vincent Price voice over


After getting home at 1am last night, and didn’t fall asleep until about 3:30, I was surprised that I was up and at ’em by 8am today.  It’s ok, though. It’s going to be a big day, and I needed to get up and cracking if I’m going to even get half of it accomplished. Today Older Son is going to Nana’s to help her finish taking stuff downstairs that’s left over from last night’s organization orgy, so it will just be me and Younger Son getting stuff done today at home.

As discussed in a previous post, the carpenter who is supposed to be doing the remodel on my bathroom delayed until tomorrow. I haven’t heard from him yet that he isn’t coming tomorrow, so I will assume that his sister’s surgery went well and that all is a go for Wednesday. Uh…hmm. Hope I didn’t just jinx it by saying that out loud.

Nobody does menacing like Vincent Price!

Anyway, as I am operating under the assumption that the bathroom project is getting under way tomorrow (please, oh please, oh please!), there are certain things that I need to get accomplished before that can happen. So, in the spirit of getting the ball rolling, here is today’s very special edition of (cue Vincent Price echo, crashing thunder and lightning)…  The To-Do List.

  • Scrub out fridge (there’s been a code-four pickle juice spill…Yummy)
  • Do final general pick up and cleaning of upstairs
  • Get Younger to mow and edge the lawn
  • Do more laundry until my washer and dryer beg for mercy
  • Shopping trip to Menards/Wally World to buy a new pedestal sink, bathroom fan, plastic big enough to cover the bedroom/living rooms doors and the kitchen (to keep demolition dust off), expanding spray foam for the crack in the basement wall, and new weed eater.
  • Call the plumber and make an appointment to get my external hose fixed.
  • Call sand and gravel company to put an order in for landscaping rock.
  • Bake Banana Bread…I’ve got some bananas that need to be used up.

If I get all of that done today, it will have been a hugely successful day. I can do it, but I guess I’m going to need to quit flappin’ my gums on the internet and get the show on the road!

The garden is in, and an early Fathers Day


The weather was gorgeous today, and so we went out right away this morning to finally put the garden in. Now, most of you are probably thinking to yourself, “shouldn’t the garden have been planted a loooong time ago?” Yes, it should have, but events conspired so that it just wasn’t possible to get the garden in before now.  No biggie. It’s better than no garden at all.

Older son helped me plant, starting with the onions. Younger planted the pumpkins, watermelons and cucumbers earlier, and they made it through the recent prairie hurricane that blew through (thanks for that, Brea. It’s an apt term given all the wind and water that came our way!) . We’re not quite done, though…the herbs and flowers, and two packs of peppers still need to be planted.

Here’s a quick list of what we have so far:

  • onions (Walla Walla)
  • garlic (left over from some a friend gave me from their garden last year. Hopefully they will take root!)
  • six kinds of  hot peppers (Jalapeno, Hungarian Yellow Wax, Anaheim, and I can’t remember exactly the other three at the moment)
  • three kids of tomatoes (Amish Paste, Sweet Cherry and Manitoba)
  • cucumbers
  • watermelon
  • pumpkins

I have more space to dig up, and I want to plant zucchini and spaghetti squash. I know it’s late in the season, but I’m hopeful that we’ll get at least a few squash by the middle of September.

Well,  we are off in a few minutes to go celebrate father’s day early with my Dad, since the kids are going with their father tomorrow. Oh…I forgot about what I got my Dad for Father’s Day…and I got some for myself too! When I was picking up the other vegetables, I ran across some Yellow Husk Ground Cherries. I have heard that they are very delicious and easy to grow.  I’m hoping that the seeds can be saved to make some more next year too! Here click HERE to read more about these interesting plants.

I’d post a picture of the garden, but the yard’s a big mess, and we’re not quite done yet. I’ll post one after we get it all done and cleaned up.

Oh well…off I go to order the pizza and get dressed for the day. It’s going to be a nice day at Mom and Dad’s with the boys.

All done but the cleanup


On Friday, my friends came over, chopped up the tree and hauled the pieces to their house to use in their wood stove. Today the last load of big branches went out to the curb for pickup. Now it’s just a matter of raking up all the twigs that are tangled up in the grass…but that can wait until later. I do have a couple more saplings that need to come down, but that won’t take long. Dad said he could come over later in the week to take care of that last bit. But the big tree? It’s gone. Interestingly enough, I counted the rings on that tree, an it is as the same as age me. I know it probably means nothing, but I found it a little strange.

So, here is a before and after:

Before the shed was moved and the tree was taken down
The yard look so much bigger!

My neighbor’s shed isn’t the most attractive thing to look at, but I’m going to plant some dwarf trees in front of it, so after a few years, you won’t be able to see it at all. I’ll also be cleaning out all that brush behind the shed and installing a six-foot fence around the back yard. On the fence I’ll be training vines and trees so you won’t be able to see it for the greenery after a while either. I can’t wait to see what it all looks like five years from now!

I’m also hoping to still get a garden in by next week. It’s late, but at least the plants will be cheaper by this time in the season.

More pictures to come as the summer progresses!

Some want to be born with a silver spoon…I needed a cherry picker!


Yesterday was an interesting day. You’ve read the ongoing saga of how I’ve been getting help from my Dad to get rid of the dying tree in my back yard? Well, Yesterday the top finally came down. The boys went to visit their dad for the afternoon, so it was just me, my Dad and the tree.  No sweat, I said. I spent lots of time with my Dad cutting down trees and hauling wood as a kid…famous last words!

It never ceases to amaze me what my father does at the age of 64. In this case he climbed up that tree like a monkey, 25 ft in the air, and finished cutting the top of that tree down. He’s very careful, and very conscious about safety issues, but it’s still nerve-wracking to see him standing in the crotch of a tree that he’s busily hacking away on with a chainsaw. I seriously thought I was going to lose my lunch…I haven’t found myself physically ill like that in a very long time, just for experiencing sheer fright. My fondest wish at that point was that I had a good friend with a cherry picker, so Dad wouldn’t be standing up high in that tree. Alas, none was to be found.

It’s no wonder my mother always told my brother and I to, “Go keep an eye on your Dad…I can’t look.” Now I get it! I don’t know why it doesn’t bother kids to watch someone climb up high and use dangerous tools, but I can tell you I weathered it with much less fear then than I could ever do now. I think it has to be because most kids have a measure of fearlessness, which seems to help cover situations like that. They also don’t believe anything bad will ever happen to them or others they know. I guess the fear creeps in with time, as innocence gets worn away with experience.  And, of course, my fearless boys were not here so I could say to them, “Go keep an eye on Grandpa…I can’t look!”

The long and the short of it is that the top of the tree came down, and now it’s all about the clean up. Hopefully my friend who’s going to be taking the wood for his stove will come this week and get the rest of it taken care of.  Here’s where it’s at now:

Hopefully by the end of the week I’ll have a nice clear yard!

Tree is almost down…


Yesterday, my Dad called early and let me know he thought he and the boys could get the tree down…and they did, almost!

I knew there would be a lot of branches, but I didn’t realize just how much a tree can store vertically. They got all the branches off, except the very topmost, and the yard is so full, there was no more room left! What’s left of the tree is just the trunk and a puff-ball on top. It reminds me a little of a long haired cat who’s been given a “lion cut”: Naked with a puff-ball on the end:

I'd look pissed off too if I had a haircut like this one!
All that's left...

So now, all that’s left to do is cut down the branches and get rid of the main part of the tree. Easier said than done. The plan was to finish it off today, but it’s raining, so we’ve put it off until Monday afternoon.

So close…It sure will be nice to have it all done!

The quiet of the morning…bliss


I am sitting here quietly reading through other people’s blogs, like the junkie I am, and I realized that I was missing something. So, I quit reading and just paid attention to the sounds around me.

I hear the fish tank bubbling, the traffic going by the front of the house, and the fridge in the kitchen. It’s really quiet when I can hear the fridge in the kitchen.  Ah… the relative silence of a morning when I don’t have to get anyone up but myself is sheer bliss! Now if I just had a newspaper to sift through and some coffee to slurp…

Today is Friday and I have a short day at work, so that’s a bonus. I’ll come home at 3pm and then take Younger to his ROTC Camp meeting. I think we’ll do pizza for supper tonight. It should be a nice relaxing Friday evening. Maybe we’ll even get a movie just for fun.

I am hopeful that the day will continue and end as peacefully as it began.

***Editors Note, 5 minutes after posting***

Yeah, so about that stuff you just read up above? Not gonna happen. Dad called and he says he wants to come take the tree down today! So, I’ll run around and wake up the zombies, er, I mean, boys, and get them started for the day. That’s ok…the quiet was nice while it lasted!

A nice Sunday for all


Today was a very nice Sunday. The weather was very pleasant, if windy, and I was able to open the windows and get some nice fresh air in here. I cleaned up a little, did some laundry, then washed my bathroom rugs and hung them outside to dry.

The boys were supposed to go with their dad today, but they ended up canceling that because he bummed his leg up. So, Older son went to a movie with a friend, and Younger Son and I went plant shopping. After doing some shopping around to see what is available here, we had supper at the Chinese place, and then made the actual purchases.  What we ended up bringing home were a Schubert’s Choke Cherry and two Nanking cherry bushes.

The new additions planted between the shed and the house

In the picture, you can see the whole of my back yard and straight through to Southern and Eastern Neighbors’ yards. I was standing in Western Neighbor’s yard while taking the picture.  The little shrubs I bought should be a good 4-5 feet tall by the end of the season. I don’t expect to get any fruit this year, but it’s a start!

Younger son and I spent a nice few hours in the back yard planting the new shrubs and doing other small odd jobs. I was lucky to run into Western Neighbor and asked him if he minded if I replaced the small piece of fencing (just barely visible to the right of the shed) with some new fencing, which would require cleaning out some of the unruly lilacs (I’ll miss them!) toward the back of his property. He gave his blessings, and we had a nice chat. I don’t get to see him very often, but he’s a nice guy. The fence will run from the front of the Western side of the house all the way around the back end of the property and wrap up to the back door. It will make a nice grape arbor!

Now that Older Son is back from the movie and Younger is back from walking to the local Loaf & Jug, I guess I ought to get back to work and get some stuff done before tomorrow.

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