Flower Power: A weekend spent happily in the dirt

It’s not quite Mother’s Day yet, but since we’re now in South Jersey, spring planting can begin a bit ahead of the standard schedule.  Having an unusual weekend off (or what I continually fantasize is a normal weekend for other people), we headed for the nursery to get a jump on spring planting.

This year, I had a plan. I pre-counted all the pots I had, including the planters that sit on the deck railing, and I had color scheme for both the pansies planned for the planters and the geraniums planned for the pots.  What I hadn’t planned for was the husband.

  1. The husband loves an annual plant that wasn’t in my plan. Coleus.
  2. He loves tons of different colors. I was going for a new, coordinated look.
  3. He adores using coupons.  I wanted the expensive variety of pansies off coupon.

The good news is that the weather was overcast yesterday and perfect for planting.  I largely kept to my plan, but compromised with alternating boxes of color-coordinated, yet varied pansies.  I stuck to my guns for the expensive variety of pansies, because I do believe it makes a difference.  I found spots for his beloved coleus. It gets showy by the end of the summer, but at worst it will take over my gerber daisies. At best, it will grow over where the daisies fail to thrive.

And yet again, I’ve re-learned:

  • Color matter
  • Plants matter
  • Scent matter
  • The time and money in short-lived annuals are worth it because the result is so wonderful.

The  flowers already make me happier and have put me a summer frame of mind.  That includes looking forward to visitors to share the new floral scents coming from my geraniums, enjoying the sun sets off the deck, and sipping wine.  Open invitation. Come on down!

Home is Somewhere

Home: The place we go (in time or place) to be with those we love. Sometimes it’s physical, and sometimes it’s simply in our minds. But, we know it when we’re there.

They say home is where the heart is. It’s as good a definition as any, but not totally correct. I’m back in Ridgewood for the weekend, and it’s still home. It’s where all for of us have a chance of ending up in the same place at the same time.

Increasingly, for all of us Ridgewood doesn’t feel quite like home, or at least as much of the home as it used to be. It feels more like home than anywhere else because

a. most of our stuff is here
b. most of us are here

It increasingly doesn’t totally feel like home because

a. not all of our stuff is here
b. frequently one or more of us are not here

We’re all in a state of flux, which is not good for family sanity. Luckily, with many fingers and toes crossed, both us parents and Eldest may have found the next places to live come September. Youngest is the only one who for sure knows where she’ll be next year, but she is also feeling out of sorts with this home being in constant disarray and other family members being increasingly out of sorts.

We’ll sort it all out. And, if all goes as planned end up in a truly wonderful place. I wonder how long, however, it will take for our new digs to feel like home?

P.S. This week’s blog post is dedicated to one of the Robin’s in my life, a long-time blog reader who yesterday, at much too young an age, lost her year-long battle with cancer. She was home, surrounded by close family. She will be sorely missed by everyone who ever came into contact with her. She leaves behind a husband, young son, devoted sister, and mother among many other relatives and friends. Her life was all too short and reminds me to stay focused on what’s truly important – time with those we love.

Scrap Happy

This weekend was devoted to a massive garage sale. It was time to seriously clean up the North Jersey home in preparation for our downsizing move to South Jersey. Not that we have a South Jersey home yet, but clearly wherever we end up, the lodgings will be smaller and have no need of Burger King Happy Meal toys circa 1995, wooden tennis rackets circa 1985, or even basketballs and bats still viable but outside of our current interest zones.

As I looked around the stuffed driveway I commented: “Our garage sale makes us look more interesting than we are.”

“How so?” asked my Eldest.

“Well, I noted, we look like a literate family with an eclectic taste in books, who is also athletic, and plays lots of board games for family together time.” Trust me, we are not athletic, have very focused tastes in books, and rarely play board games.

My husband got the most sentimental just before the garage sale opened. He felt it was akin to selling the sum total of our lives. I only got teary eyed when our basinet went out, or a youngster left in tears because a mother wouldn’t let her take one more of our precious Disney princess stick figures.

Youngest was the least sentimental and had an entirely different reaction. “I’m appalled at the amount of stuff we own,” she commented. She felt we looked like hoarders akin to the TLC/Bravo TV shows.

I was shocked at how much stuff was out on our driveway with our home inside still looking very well stocked. Most of the driveway paraphernalia came out of closets, the attic, storage units, and the garage. We had done a marvelous job over the years of putting stuff out of sight and, therefore, out of mind.

As we look at new abodes in South Jersey, we’ve been known to comment on our need for more storage space. Perhaps our true goal should be to have a place with no storage. That way, all our stuff will always in our faces and force us to make go no-go decisions about its value to our lives at that very moment in time.

For now, we’re a bit lighter and have another family memory for the scrapbook.

P.S. We did market research (actually my husband did) and everyone we asked said they heard about the sale from….. the newspaper! And that’s with listing it on Craig’s list!


This weekend we had an almost exclusive girl’s weekend home. There was a boyfried in attendance, so there was a hint of testosterone, but with Husband away fishing, it was girls converging back in North Jersey to nest and assess what needs to be done in the house.

Cleaning is of the first order. When you’re living in a house daily you don’t see the dust and grime as obviously as you do when you walk in fresh from the street. It’s hard to imagine where all the grime comes from, and easy to blame the black dog, but we tracked it in as well.

There is never enough time to clean out and clean up. There’s too much accumulation from almost 20 years of living in one spot. It’s a great testimonial to moving every 5 years just so you don’t accumulate so much stuff.

Years ago, when I looked into some numerology books, I found out that my house number translates to abundance. It made me laugh, but also gave me cosmic cause for having a stuffed two-car garage that had everything in it but two cars.

My new goals for a new home are fairly simple. One of them is a two-car garage in which I park my car. My other goal is an automatic garage door opener. It’s the small goals that really make you feel like you’re making progress in life! So far, our short-term lofty goal is just to see the garage empty so the next owner can figure out how to fill it up.

Soon, Eldest will be heading down the Turnpike to DC, while I head down the GSP to AC. Youngest will likely soon follow the AC route to check out summer jobs. We’re contributing to keeping the economy running by running ourselves north and south on Jersey toll roads and staying mobile. EZ Pass is our friend.

Chapter 57

Today starts a new phase in our family life. As many Jersey families during this summer celebratory weekend, we’re all going to Atlantic City. This Memorial Day weekend, we’ll be joining the rest of North Jersey in caravaning down the Garden State Parkway to start off summer at the Shore.

The only difference for us is that this is not really a vacation respite. We’ll have two cars packed with most of my summer belongings and heading to “Monopoly City” to throw the dice and start a new chapter of our lives.
I’ll be settling into temporary housing as I start a new job down the Shore. After the weekend, eldest will return to DC to finish up her summer job while youngest and husband will return to North Jersey to keep the home fires burning until we discover where our new home will be.

It’s not the first time we’ll be separated, but this time feels different. Other times have been for short-term business trips, friend vacations, camp stays, and, of course, college. But for each sojourn, we knew at some time in the near future, we’d all be coming home again. This time, home itself will be changing.

The kids have been great about the move saying “Home is wherever the two of you are (meaning us parents).” And, although that’s true, home is also where the kids grew up, where we said our last good-byes to our elderly cat and dog, brought the new cat and dog to live with us, and every year desperately tried to make the garden look colorful as we welcomed back adored perennials and planted showy new annuals.

Luckily, we didn’t bury our old animals in the yard, as many people do. It would make it all the harder to leave. I suppose, luckily as well, this year our 250 year-old tree fell down and took many of my favorite perennials with it. New perennials will have to wait for a new yard.

I have to again learn to be nimble on my feet and flexible. I should already know how to blog from the road (and do in theory), but will now have to really do it. So, I’m posting today, may post next week as I will be in North Jersey again, but will have to finally learn a new method for getting this blog up.

And, that’s what moving is all about and why, in the end, it’s good. It forces us to clean closets, learn new things, and not get too stuck in our ways. The goal in life is to keep moving. Sometimes, however, life just makes us take that thought a bit too literal.

The car is packed and I’m literally moving! Now, the blog, Facebook, e-mail, snail mail, the phone and all other avenues of communication are suddenly ever more important to me. Stay in touch. You all mean the world to me.