Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Let's talk about Clematis.

Missing the sight of flowers in the garden has me flipping through photos tonight. I'm staving off the annual winter depression by remembering what the next two seasons have in store. This beautiful blue Clematis cheers me each time I enter the secret garden during the late spring and early summer.  Its delicate little tendrils twine through climbing rose canes and the indigo color contrasts beautifully with the antique rose's sweet smelling, double-flowering, deep pink petals.

Clematis perform well in Oklahoma's USDA hardiness zones 6 and 7. Bursting with color that catches your eye and tempts you to search for buds hidden among the roses and foliage. Clematis climbers fall into one of three categories. Each with individual pruning needs to promote healthy growth and enhance flower production. When planting Clematis, check with your nursery as to what pruning requirements your Clematis needs.

Remember they adore the sun, but need their roots shaded by smaller plants or additional mulch to help keep their shallow root system cool. Clematis will add a mystical and theatrical touch to your garden with a flare relegated to the dainty, but flamboyant.

It makes me wonder what gardeners did before photographs existed? Suffer excruciating garden withdrawals, probably!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Don't be so haughty, sister!

Sitting in a class room full of macho men for eight long hours had worn on my nerves. Minding my manners all day; I had endured foul language and graphic details of unspeakable crimes. There were times during the day that I felt queasy and filthy because of the topic being taught, but I was cautious in my speech; quiet and humble in mannerisms. Wearing a OHP trooper uniform changes ones' image of ones' self and I suppose it changes how others see you also. So after stomaching all I could, I stood and stretched my stiff legs and gathered my few belongings. Feeling justified in my intense dislike at the pin-headed instructor and his crudeness, I made my way to the trash can where I would throw my Styrofoam coffee cup away. It had entertained me all day as I doodled on its squishy surface. Mentally listing my qualifications, I told myself that as an instructor I would never talk like this man chose to do, I would not offend or rape students' ear holes like this man had done. This man is inferior to me, I thought as I dusted off the hairspray flecks that had collected on the shoulders of my brown shirt. I adjusted my gun belt and threw my head back as if I were an aristocrat at a grand ball. I swept across the carpeted classroom floor with class and ease and just as I approached the receptacle bin of refuse, I sneezed with such force that I peed my taupe trousers. Fear and panic slapped me silly as I quickly spun around to see if anyone had taken note of my plight. No one seemed to notice the source of my unease, so I lowered my notebook in front of me and used it as a shield as I backed slowly out of the classroom. One thing continued to blast away at my self confidence as I squished across the parking lot at a quick trot...judge not! When was I ever going to learn?

Sunday, December 4, 2011


His black eyes darted around the crowded room nervously as he paced behind the podium. He wiped his hands on his trousers as if they were wet. There was only two of us on the panel that night, he spoke first.
"My name's Harold." He began, his voice wobbled a bit as he told the crowd about himself.
"I sat where you are sitting, not 5 or 6 years ago." Harold said. "Nothing that was said here that night, affected me. I left here, just as I had come in. I liked to drink and when I would drink, I would drive." He said unapologetically.
I watched him intently, not knowing where he was going with his story. His black plaid fedora was cocked to the left on his head not revealing any hair underneath. I was thinking how he looked like a leprechaun with a scraggy black beard and short stature. Harold probably wasn't 5' tall and wore tattoos like jewelry on each finger. Taking long pauses between sentences to collect his thoughts, he plunged his hands into his baggy jean pockets and hunched his shoulders forward as if he were cold. I thought he looked a bit rough around the edges, but almost childlike in his demeanor.
He told us that he was and is a chronic alcoholic. He said he had been arrested four times for driving under the influence of alcohol and said he even did time for the last one.
"I was locked up for a year and a half." He confessed, but never took his eyes from the audience.
He told us all about the high cost of those D.U.I.'s, saying they cost him nearly $60,000 dollars, his house, his job and his family.
"Then one day, I stopped drinking." Harold bragged, "I attended A.A. and got sober."
His candor made him likable, I found myself drawn to his plight and reveling alongside him in his victory. He held everyone's attention, I noticed, as I took a quick look around at the attendees. My eyes drifted back to Harold's as he continued.
"After all the things I had done, I finally got my life on track, I was sober. Then my son was killed by a drunk driver. He was only 16."
His eyes flooded with tears. I could see that there was a great deal of anger and grief very near the surface as he gritted his teeth. Harold had escaped from killing anyone when he chose to drink and drive, but someone had stolen his boy while choosing the same path he did. The impact of which was almost more than he could bear, but that's why we were there; we were the victim's impact panel.
I don't know if Harold's story or mine made any difference to the people that attended that V.I.P. but as usual, I came away different; moved to act, to do more and to never forget the victims of D.U.I.

Sunday, November 27, 2011


You see this precious face? Would it boggle your mind to know his mommy and daddy didn't want him? I couldn't believe it either...but it's true! Friends of ours adopted this little boy and each time I see him with his arms wrapped around their necks, my heart bursts with joy.

Just this morning I overheard him telling his parents that their song was playing. He was referring to, "I belong to Jesus." I nearly cried as I watched his little arms pull his adoptive parents together with his three-year-old little arms. With their heads joined together they sang as emotions as thick as a softball formed in my throat.

Seeing them together made me think of how cherished we are to God. Nothing can separate us from the love of God. Remember that the next time you feel alone, unloved, despised, rejected, depressed or discouraged. He has a plan for you, one greater than you can ever imagine.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Yes, It's Thanksgiving again. So what? It's just another day, right? Every Thanksgiving people spend too much, eat too much, drink too much and say way too much. You've been there; family gatherings where even if alcohol isn't involved, people will say things that they will wish later they hadn't. Maybe like me, they will refuse to say what should be said and regret that also. It has only taken me 41 years to decide that I want no further part of it. My time is precious, valuable and unrecoverable. I can not sacrifice a second more of my only controllable resource, dancing around the truth. So, here it is...try this on for size...I love my life!

I love my family. I hold no ill will toward my parents, brothers, extended family or upbringing. Getting spankings, sometimes with a belt or a paddle, didn't mar, scar or kill me. Attending a small Christian school and even a couple of Bible colleges, didn't ruin me on my Baptist upbringing or drive me to drinking...well, that may be stretching it a bit. Regardless, I love Jesus and His free gift of salvation and I'm not ashamed to tell you about it or Him...anytime, any day.

I'm thankful for the same things you are; a place to lay down at night, waking up each morning and indoor plumbing. I'm thankful I was born in America, that I have a nice home, a great job and plenty of food to eat. I'm thankful for clean water to drink, a loving husband and gorgeous children to wrap my arms around and love. I'm thankful for every single tear that I cry and every pain that causes a hitch in my get-along because it reminds me that I am still alive and still feeling anything at all.

It is impossible to list everything here that I'm thankful for, but I refuse to spend one more Thanksgiving stuffing my face and biting my tongue. Tomorrow and forever I choose to live, laugh, love and be grateful for who I am, Who's I am and all that I have. I hope you will choose to do the same. Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 14, 2011

A Place

The crumbling adobe wall whispered hundreds of years of living. Impressed, I gently ran my finger tips across a pink earthen structure and silently asked for understanding. I wished it were possible to know who all had touched the same, who had ducked beneath the low overhang to enter or exit the secret compound of solitude. How could a "place" reek so of peace and harmony? "The City Different" speaks to me in ways that no other place on the planet does. My birth state is a desolate, lonely environment that few appreciate and fewer adore. When I wander the streets, I feel at home; smelling pinyon wood burning in an ancient kiva, I beg to remain. This is where I belong and where one day I will be. Whether alive or no, it matters little. Apart from where your heart dwells, you live life as a spent Aspen leaf, yellowed, tattered and waiting.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Nickle, Dime...Slot Machine!

I watched as the black Toyota swerved carelessly across both lanes of traffic. Squeezing in between two cars where no room existed, I knew there was something wrong with the operator of this vehicle, but it was, "quitting time." Time to take the Batgirl outfit off and put the alter-ego uniform on. The one of "mother/wife." I've heard it said more than once over the years, "put your blinders on and go home!" But there was that nagging sense of something not quite right about the way the driver of the Toyota swerved between the lane lines. I could never choose to ignore what slapped at my conscience. Something was seriously wrong and I could not choose anything other than Duty, my duty. So with mounting aggravation at having my evening plans changed, I turned my blue and red lights on and finally hit the siren when I got no reaction out of the driver. What was wrong with this guy? For miles he continued as if cars around him, weren't slowing and pulling to the right. When I finally got the Toyota stopped, I could only wonder what would cause a person to choose this path. This path is the long pull of a wicked whiskey or a life-cheating slot machine, it could bring you loss, big loss. Insanely enough, this slot never has a winner, but you'll fool yourself into believing you won as you pull into your driveway. You'll climb out of your car and thank your lucky stars that you made it home without crashing, without killing yourself or worse. You'll make it inside and undress or not and swear you'll never do it again, but even intoxicated you know better. When you wake in the morning alive it will be a mystery to you how you managed to make it home. If next time comes, your luck might not hold. But hey, that's the best part of playing slots...the chance that you'll lose, right?

Sunday, October 30, 2011


It had been the worst day of my entire life, bar none. Rocking her listless bony body, I could only cry. She whithered away rapidly before my very eyes. Hadn't she been fine the day before? No, maybe two days ago, but now I stared into her jaundiced eyes and wished for the years to roll back to when she was young and healthy. Silent tears slid down my cheeks and choked the cooes that would try to soothe her in her pain. All day I talked to my dear friend and begged her not to leave me, but I knew she would. She had to. It was pure selfishness that would ask someone to suffer so that I could be spared the pain of loss; the pain of loneliness. Pure selfishness. After she died, I thought my heart would surely break and even though I knew she was, "just a dog." It didn't lessen the pain that stabbed at my subconscious night and day. There was no good reason for her to have to die. So anger tried to squeeze out the hurt and for a few days it brewed there only to be replaced with aching emptiness. Just when I thought that no one could understand or truly care what I was going through, He came to me. Never forcing His comfort or strength, He trotted up and into my arms and licked my face with His love. Why it surprised me to know that my loving God cared about me that much, I can't explain. He sent me what I needed, when I needed it and in the way that I needed it most. That's how tender and loving and merciful my God is. His heart hurts when my heart does. My littlest troubles He cares about and when nothing else can soothe my ache, He is always there; ready, willing and able. Able to send a neighbor's puppy to love my hurt away and bring a message from the Creator of the universe. "Cast your cares upon me; for I care for you."

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Don't look, you won't find me

He was 96 years old when he walked away from everything he ever knew. We searched and searched and searched for him, but we never found him. Didn't he want to be found? Didn't he want to come home? Home where everything was familiar and safe? Maybe he didn't want this anymore. Maybe he didn't want the same ole, same ole. Maybe what he wanted was out there waiting for him to find it.

I'd like to think that if I were him and I'd seen that many years go by, that I too would want to see something I hadn't seen before. I'd walk the dusty streets of somewhere else and see what I had missed, if anything. There wouldn't be a single face left unsearched, no flavored cigar left unsmoked, no harsh whiskey left untasted, no sweet lips left unkissed. I'd grab every morsel of life and with arthritic fingers, I'd squeeze like there wasn't a drop of tomorrow to be had.

Should I wait until the very end to wander off and wonder about? Should I trip on the uneven sidewalk of life only to find that I missed the inscription upon it, hardened with time?

Yours and my name is written there in concrete, crumbling with age...trace it with a loving finger and take my hand. Let's take a walk and lose ourselves, never to be found.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Friends Don't Say Goodbye

It made no sense to those who saw me do it, but I threw my arms around the nearly naked branches of an English Oak tree and hugged it to me fiercely. Unashamed by the emotion that overcame me before we parted; I stroked its little branches lovingly and tenderly caressed the fuzzy underbelly of his glossy green leaves.
I knew I’d never see him again so this was my final goodbye. Whispering words of encouragement and hope, I told my friend that we, as a society, were counting on him. We needed the life-giving oxygen he would release and desperately depended on the pollution removal he would provide. I watched as a heavy-set man hobbled towards us, he grabbed the black plastic pot my friend called home and carelessly lumbered away without a single thought of my bereavement. I choked on emotion as I watched my friend frantically waving “so-long” from the back of a rusty Ford pickup. My heart sank as they rounded the curve in the old gravel road and disappeared out of sight.
Trying not to think of my pretty columnar friend, I busied myself in my work, giving away more free trees, but every so often that day, I’d see a tree that reminded me of him and a lump would form in my throat nearly choking me with grief. What was life for him going to be like now? I wondered. Would he be cared for, loved? I couldn’t bear the thought that he would be left unattended to, undernourished and alone. Alone to weather the winter unclothed by mulch or left in his temporary container too long freezing or drying out. I had to stop worrying! I had to trust that his new caretaker would indeed take care.
I knew that The Maker of Heaven and earth had created him for a reason and now I must trust Him to watch over my friend. My eyes scanned the horizon for direction for guidance for clarity, but all I saw was more and more of my tree friends disappearing. Their futures lay in the hands of the humans that drug them away from me. In turn, our futures lay in those same hands; planting, mulching, staking, watering and pruning. These are the duties of a tree owner and I feel it’s each of our duties to plant at least one tree in our lifetime. You don’t have to be a tree fanatic like me, but if you care about our environment, you’ll plant a tree.
In my mind’s eye, I can see that gorgeous English Oak providing shade, shelter and serenity and that, makes me smile.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Sometimes It Makes No Sense

I scrolled through the list of the fatality reports on my Blackberry. It was only Saturday morning, but already eight people had died on Oklahoma roadways. Feeling nauseous, I sat and hung my head to catch my breath. Every person that died so far that weekend represented at least a dozen or more broken hearts. Mothers, daddies, brothers, sisters, cousins, aunts, uncles, sons, daughters...the list would go on and on; people negatively affected by the loss of someone they cared about.

Selfishly, I thought of the emergency response personnel that would have been involved in each one of the collisions. EMTs, firefighters, police, troopers and civilians that witness the senselessness that was a fatal car crash. I search the sky and try to understand without questioning, but sometimes...sometimes it is more than I can take.

I'm angry that people die for no reason. I'm furious with people who choose to drink alcohol and then drive a motor vehicle. Why aren't they the ones to die? Why do innocent children lose their lives? Why do mommies never come home? Why must beloved sons leave never to return? Why do I have to cover them with a paper sheet or put my arm around a stranger's shoulder as he sobs uncontrollably? Why?

One day I may have those answers, or maybe I never will. I dry my eyes and thank God for every second I have with the ones I love, hoping others are doing the same.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Today, I took a shower with Jesus!!!

The nearly scalding water catapulted over my shoulders as the blessed steam punched a hole in my congested sinuses. I hung my weary head and allowed the hot, wet assault repay my overly tensed neck muscles. While enduring my morning cleansing ritual, a thought slapped my un-listening ear and crashed into my hardened heart as if God Himself had vaporized and crawled slowly into my conscience, disobedient thoughts. I didn't hear the balming voice, I didn't see the salve applied, but I definitely felt, with every pore of myself, felt His powerful love overtake me. Immediately, I was crushed by the emotional weight of what He had to convey. He loves me. He has always loved me. Everything that had happen to me before had brought me to where I was. There was a purpose, His purpose. My mind immediately reflected on the excruciating pain, the wounds, some still open and bleeding that I had suffered. Were they really necessary? Could I possibly be who I am now without having had cried? Without having been knocked to my unbending knees? "No, there was no other way," He whispered so gently that I began to cry. "I know," He hushed me. "I know." The joy that followed that brief encounter can't fully be understood until you hear, feel and know Him as I do.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Grab a pen and notebook!

Fall, the time of year when it’s finally cool enough to venture outside and take account of what has survived the most horrific summer on record. A gentle cool breeze dances across my skin as I slowly stroll through the gardens.
Taking notes, I pen which plants or trees need removed and which ones made the “hero” list. Noting the early leaf color changes of the ‘Autumn Blaze’ and ‘October Glory’ Maples, I smile; until a closer inspection show bag worms remain on my most valued deciduous trees. Those will have to go, so I furiously scratch a To Do note to myself on my notebook and move on with a scowl.
My attention deficit disorder will get the best of me if I can’t stay on track so I make a list of things to accomplish and move out with military-like efficiency. First, I prioritize what needs immediate attention then return later to do the manual labor. It’s a fall ritual of mine. Okay, so I like to make lists, but this one is important. The spring, summer and winter lists are too, but fall is a crucial plant, prune and plan time. Consider incorporating list-making into your fall schedule as well. It will remind you what to do and remind you of what you have accomplished. I usually put a single line through an item when I have completed it. If I am feeling braggadocios I will include the date and how much time was needed to get the job done. 
Today I scribble the words, “seed collecting, round up and pruning.”  I’ll get to those eventually. Oh! Look at the pretty butterflies! See, I told you. Distractions! The monarchs are making their annual pilgrimage to Mexico and I’ll admit, I wish I could go along.  Instead, I’ll take several photos of the intricately designed little creatures as they linger on my ‘Autumn Joy’ sedum. I love butterflies; they are so delicate and graceful, flittering around me as if they know I’m only here to admire them. Competing with them for nectar are the bumble bees, honey bees, red wasps and something that looks like a yellow jacket. One of those hateful little fliers stung me today while I was doing some general clean up in the flower beds. I don’t know which one, but sakes alive, it hurt!
Okay, enough side-tracking; back to recording copious garden chore notes. I put my game face on and round the corner of the house only to be assaulted by the most glorious antique rose scent. Heavenly! I pause to dip my nose into the deep red petals and inhale. Ah! How I adore the re-blooming roses; almost as much as I do the precocious pineapple salvia or the clamoring-for-attention crapemyrtles. I toss my notebook aside. Some days are just meant to be enjoyed not over-analyzed, criticized or categorized. Fall is glorious in Oklahoma, enjoy it while it lasts!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Just two things!

It’s a good thing I wasn’t packing heat the day an unwelcomed stranger came to call on me. There are some situations where a firearm will do more harm than good. This was such a situation, I remember it like this. I had worked all day and was rewarding myself with a few minutes of quiet relaxation. Sitting on the back porch I had taken my dusty boots off and had stretched out on a cushioned bench airing my toes, enjoying a cool beverage and reading a murder mystery. The cool evening hours of early fall had lured me outside. My book was riveting; the characters had come alive on the pages and in my mind’s eye I was skimming along the windy cliff of a coastal city with the heroine, piecing together the clues. Bouncing around in the yard was my goofy little dog. She has many names, but the one we call her the most is, “Bug.” She’s so fat she can hardly move, but to watch her you would think we never feed her because she is constantly eating some helpless little bug: hence the name. On this particular day I was ignoring her while I decompressed from a day of hard labor. Don’t laugh! Occasionally I am required to exert myself.  I had been on the gun range all day and had been on my feet the entire time. Close to exhaustion, I collapsed on the back porch needing some alone time before the family arrived from their day of work and school. You know those days when not only your body is tired, but your mind is as well? That was me. I needed two things at the moment; peace and harmony. They usually go hand in hand and are more often than not found in my gardens. Being outside would have to suffice as I was too tired to stumble amongst the stonecrop or trip amidst the thyme. Nearing the end of a chapter I was totally engrossed in the story. One hand held my hard back book the other held my drink, gratefully, in a plastic cup. I paused in my reading to raise the cup to my lips when my eyes caught sight of the fat dog bouncing up and down in the yard like a rabbit. She was only a few feet away from me and just off the concrete porch. I lowered my drink to investigate what she was after when the largest tarantula I have ever seen (in captivity or otherwise) jumped onto the porch and began scurrying directly toward me with Bug in hot pursuit. Now I am going to pause right here and tell you a little something about me that I hope we can keep just between us. I am terrified of spiders, any and all spiders.  The chaos that followed is one that I am not real proud of so I won’t spend a lot of time dwelling on it. I think it would be safe to say that we all learned a lesson that day. Me, I learned that screaming at the dog to stop attacking a tarantula doesn’t produce results, the hideous arachnid learned not to come out of hiding during the daylight and Bug, well she learned those hairy creatures are not very tasty. She could be seen for several minutes after her “meal” eating blades of grass. I’m assuming she did so in an attempt to get the foul taste out of her mouth. Days after the traumatic event, I researched the Oklahoma tarantula and found that they are considered beneficial and are not harmful (at least not directly harmful) to humans or pets. In fact, most spiders are beneficial. Steer clear of black widows and brown recluse though as those can be painful and possibly make you sick. In closing, let me encourage you as I have tried to convince myself that spiders serve a needed purpose in the food chain. We can co-exist peacefully if not harmoniously.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Questions to Ponder

While walking downtown Guthrie last week a lady I’d never seen before stepped out of an antique store and began walking with me. She mentioned this gardening article, and then surprised me by asking how long I have been gardening, I paused midstride to consider the answer. I stood with my head slightly cocked off to the side, my eyes wandered to the sky above me searching for the answer. Finally, for flair, I crossed my arms and used a single bony index finger to lure the answer into my right temple by tapping. Master gardeners want to give the correct answer to every question, so it’s important to think questions through thoroughly before answering or at least to appear to be doing so (That’s Master Gardener 101.) “I guess I’ve only been gardening since about 1996,” I finally admitted. I remember feeling my shoulders sag as if I had confessed to some personal failure. The person asking the question seemed impressed though. She smiled broadly, nodded her head and asked a few more questions, told me about her gardening experiences and then was gone. As I continued on down the sidewalk, I began to think about the meaning of the question. Often we feel like we need to qualify our experience or relevance by mentioning how long we have been in performance of any activity. As if time determines our competency. As a gardener you probably know that it’s a life long journey of learning and growing for you and your plants. I’ve accepted the fact that I will never know all there is to know about the plants that I love. But I learn more everyday especially when I’m knee deep in the garden, swatting at bugs, with dirt in my gloves, under my nails and sometimes even in my hair. So no matter where you are in your gardening career let me encourage you to never quit learning. Explore the on-line world of OSU Fact Sheets that will provide you with a plethora of information on any and every topic you could possibly think of. As for me, I guess I’ll spend some time picking out spring flowering bulbs. Fall and early winter is the time to plant those little babies. Should you be wondering what I’ll be planting, I’m considering the usual; tulips, hyacinths, daffodils, crocus, Grecian windflowers, grape hyacinths and maybe some lilies and alliums. Funny thing is, should that lady of asked me that, I wouldn’t have even had to stop to think about the answer, not to mention the demonstrative tapping of the finger against the noggin. Oh! I’m not saying I wouldn’t have done it, but it wouldn’t have been necessary to come up with the answer.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Guthrie Gardening

As if the merciless heat and the punishing drought weren’t enough to drive this Oklahoma gardener crazy, now we are contending with hateful raging wild fires. All across our beautiful, but stricken state we have seen hundreds of acres burnt and many people displaced. I for one have had enough. I’ve had my bags packed for weeks, ready to move somewhere cooler and somewhere wetter. But after looking at the national forecast, I’m saddened to say that such a place does not exist on this planet. With the addition of the seething wild fires, a transformation has begun to occur within me, a conversion of sorts if you will. Instead of running away, I’ve decided to dig my heels in. I’ve drawn a hard line in my crusty back yard and I refuse to be moved. In anticipation of your disbelief, I have listed a few accomplishments to prove my point. On the rare occasions where it has rained this year, I caught precious rain water in plastic rain barrels. I use that water to soak my house’s foundation and water any plant material that is within 100 feet of my house. It’s called being firewise. By removing any flammable plants that contain resins, oils and waxes from within 30 feet of my little ponderosa, I can reduce the chance of a wildfire burning my home to a pile of ashes. It’s also important to move or remove things that can burn easily like firewood, dead and dense vegetation. Speaking of vegetation, if you happen to be fortunate enough to have any plants still alive, congratulations! You are in the minority. This fall you may consider replacing some of your lost babies with some shrubs and flowering plants that can tolerate dry sites, just in case we have another summer like this one. Shrubs such as; Abelia, Rose-of Sharon, Japanese barberry, Yucca, Indian hawthorn, Firethorn and Yaupon holly will tolerate dry conditions and thrive once established. Annual flowers that also do well in similar circumstances are zinnia, cosmos and petunia. If you are a rose lover like I am, then consider planting an old fashioned rose such as hybrid perpetual, Rugosa, and shrub roses. These require less overall care than some of the hybrid tea types. Whatever you decide to replant with, keep the firewise tips in mind. You can get more information on being firewise at Let my semi-conversion and personal commitment to stick it out here in Oklahoma, be an encouragement to you in your Guthrie Gardening endeavors.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Gardening Nightmares

If it hadn’t been for my near death experience in the garden this past week, I would not have considered bringing this topic up. It’s been discussed this season, although not by me and not in this most terrifying way. The day started off like any other, clutching my coffee cup like a life line, I made my way out to the garden to greet the day and coax my crusty eyes open slowly. I examined a bush, a flower, a tree while sipping my nearly black brew that I’d doused with flavored creamer. My world was as close to perfect as one can get when out of nowhere I was attacked. Screaming and screeching, I slapped at the monster that had hidden among my beloved plants. This was no ordinary assault; this was a premeditated, calculated (with precision) invasion of my personal space. Landing on the hand that held the cup that held my precious Joe was the largest, ugliest, most blood thirsty-looking grasshopper I have ever seen. With huge haunted eyes that I’ll never forget he pounced when I was most vulnerable. Pajama clad and barely awake; I was slapped, punched and nearly bitten as I attempted to extricate the erratic creature off my body. In the chaos that ensued, plants were trampled, coffee was spilt and I was deeply shaken. Now to be fair to myself, I have to admit that the grasshoppers around my place are as big as Chihuahuas and it’s amazing how much damage they have done. I’m doing my best to be as environmentally friendly as possible, but this incident has me researching methods of retaliation. I think I’ve been fair. I haven’t sprayed or suggested insecticides, pesticides, fungicides or staying-insides all summer long. Call it green gardening, organic gardening or natural gardening - the point is I’ve used limited or no chemicals in my flower beds and vegetable gardens. Like me, you may have suffered similar indignities and you may be perplexed as how best to get grasshoppers under control without killing all the beneficial insects that call your gardens home. May I suggest selecting plants that the hideous grasshoppers don’t prefer? Plants like; American beautyberry, Artemisia, Bridal wreath spirea, Confederate jasmine, Coralberry, Crepe myrtle, Dwarf yaupon, Dwarf burning bush, Dwarf Mexican petunia, Euonymus, Forsythia, Juniper, Lantana, Mexican bush sage, Moss rose, Nandina, Passionvine, Perennial dianthus, Persian lilac, Rock rose, Salvia greggii, Verbena (perennial.) Or you may be more inclined to purchase guinea hens. These pleasant poultry predators also enjoy ticks, Japanese beetles and crickets. Whatever you decide to do, remember my tormenting tale and be forewarned. Grasshoppers are out there. Lurking, plotting and waiting, for you.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Garden Reclamation

So after a worthless weekend of laying around like a slug, I decided that I needed to get into the secret garden and get to work. I had already put in a full day on the job and burned some calories at the YMCA, but my jungle of a garden called to me. I had longingly looked at the garden through the writing room window all day the day before. So although I was practically spent, I knew the need was great and the call to action too pressing. So I put on my gloves, doused myself with bug spray, grabbed the rusty by-pass pruners, a set of loppers and entered through the first garden gate with much trepidation. The first few cuts with the pruners felt mean, but the longer I was swung the machete, the tougher I became. This garden had been my solace, my little slice of heaven on earth where I could hide myself away from the neighbors, uninvited visitors and sadly, even my family. But I had allowed the weeds to grow, the plants to escape and the critters to roam free. It was a mess and I was to blame. Pulling the hateful little weeds and stacking them in a growing pile made me feel alive. More so than I had in days, maybe weeks. Yanking and pulling, I stripped the raised bed of invasive plants that were out of place. That's the nice way to describe a weed. Something out of place. It didn't take long for the garden that I love and had missed, to spring back into view. My neglect had caused it to get overgrown and because of that, I was afraid to enter, afraid of what I would find, afraid of the work it would require to right the wrong. And it got me to thinking about the garden of my heart and mind. Often times, without forethought I will neglect my thoughts. I'll allow them to roam free, dwell on the negative, see and hear only the ill and then wonder why I feel so sad, so bad and so mad. Again, taking responsibility for my out of sorts inner garden requires that I suit up for the job properly, be committed to cleaning up the mess and without hesitation, jump in with both feet. It's not something I'm proud of, letting things go to pot. But I'm honest enough to admit when I've been lazy, neglectful or uncaring. Guarding your heart and your mind are the best defense. If those tactics fail or falter; then you must renew, refresh and replenish your garden with the good, the true, the honest, and the positive. I did tonight and it feels amazing!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Judge not, lest ye be judged!

Have you ever done something you were immediately ashamed of? Maybe you felt the spiking sting of guilt even as you were in the very act of violating a law, rule or guideline? I have. Its a crushing cyclic stab in your deepest being, its like clinching your teeth when you're angry only to hear them crack. What is it about breaking your own standards or not living up to expectations you have for yourself that deals such a lethal blow to your pride? Defeat, depression, despair and devastation...they follow your forever failures with a wicked, remembering smile. Telling you that you're only human and prone to error doesn't do a thing to change your lowly opinion of yourself. You are weak, pathetic, hear yourself think viciously. You always fall, fail or screw stuff up... Whispers of self-condemnation circle your head like tiny, invisible gnats. Swatting at them doesn't help. You aren't trying to drive away the truth anyway, it's just irritating and degrading to have your mistakes buzzing around non-stop in your face. So you swat and swing, curse and cry. You've heard that confession is good for the soul? I never believed it either, but I find myself standing here on the precipice of integrity, dangling precariously over the edge. Clamping my jaws together, I make a failing preposterous attempt to keep the sorrowful, seeping truth from escaping my mouth. Hanging my head from the weight of my shame, a single tear shouts in preparation and I begin to speak..."I ate a zebra tonight...(not waiting for your response, I rush on...)  A Little Debbie Zebra Cake." Don't judge me!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Rango, bring cake!

It's been a long hot summer so far with no reprieve from the heat insight. It's too dry for anything to thrive and too hot to water. My hope for rain dissipates with the passing of each miserably scorching day. Walking around the yard in clogs, introduced dirt into my toe holes, so I resorted to slipping on socks. So now I'm not only overheating, I'm dorky to boot. Awesome. Back inside I sigh, is it any wonder I feel depressed? My skin is pale 'cause the sun hates me, my head hurts 'cause it hates the sun and as my depleted vitamin D level bottoms out, my anemic, jaundiced eye balls squint through the dusty blinds...searching the blue sky for any cumulus clouds. I see none. Fantastic! So I guzzle the ice water in my hand and put the cool glass next to my cheek and think...what I really need is chocolate cake. Cake makes everything better.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Fair Weather Rider

So if it ever cools off, I'm climbing on...and Big Blue will transform me into one of my many alter egos...Harley chick! If you see me, wave. If I don't wave back it's cause I have fallen asleep behind the handlebars. This lil baby has a cushy seat,  highway pegs to stretch my legs out  and cruise control. If you have never ridden you can't understand. If you are a rider, you will concur...riding equals freedom. There is a reckless, tingling sensation that crawls  up your spine and captures your spirit like a greedy lover. Once you feel the revolution of the motor beneath you, there is no going back. Similar to the deadliest drug available, you will be hooked with your first try. So I urge you to use caution. Don't throw a leg over a seat and plant yours on it, unless you are willing to commit to a lifestyle change. At least (if you are like me) a lifestyle change when the weather is just right. Not too cold, not too hot, not too windy...

Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Greatest Pain

I couldn't tear my eyes away from his face. It was so misshapen, bloody and bruised. A fellow gun-toter; tall, strong and agile now lay motionless, helpless and broken. A motorcycle crash had landed him in the ICU, but how had it happened and who was to blame? It didn't really matter since it wouldn't change the outcome, but somehow focusing on the how seemed to help ease the tightening around my throat. I kept thinking of all the things I had never said to him. Like; "Thank you for always treating me with respect, or thank you for always backing me up, you are a good friend, you're a great partner or Jesus loves you and died to set you free." Why is it that I never got around to say those things? Why did I let fear or pride keep me from speaking the truth? Ashamed, I stand there by his bedside and pray that I will get another chance. I don't know if he can hear anything that I'm saying, but I begin slowly making amends. I pause while looking up into the eyes of his beautiful wife and I wonder what regrets she has. My heart begins to ache as I acknowledge the greatest pain of all mankind, regret.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy 4th!

Laying on my back on the still warm concrete, I shaded my eyes. Not from the sun, but from the debris that was falling from the fireworks that my husband and son were setting off. I marvelled at the colors, the sounds, the explosions. I love the smell of sulfur. Clapping and yelling for more I couldn't help but recall Independence Day celebrations gone by. My brothers, Brian and Brent, were dangerous with firecrackers. I can even remember some stink bombs or wildcats that were tossed into the back seat of a moving Chevy Nova in the wild west town of Enid, Oklahoma. Since we never wore seat belts, it wasn't too difficult to scramble and fight to get away from a smoldering device that had landed on or near a Levis, dock-shoed, Izod-wearing kid. Yeah, those were the days. Smiling in the darkness, my face lights up with more than the fizzle of another round exploding in celebration. Those days epitomized life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Happy Independence Day!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Oklahoma, you got to got to got it!

Why do their little faces look so pale?

Why are they bent over as if they are trying to catch their breath?

The heat and the wind.

That's my plants excuse for everything. Personally, I hate both of them too, yet somehow the plants and I must endure to live in Oklahoma. Sure, I could move...but my Okie husband and Okie son would probably miss me. Surely, they would miss my complaints about the heat and the wind...

So I come home today to see all my little baby plants suffering from the horrendous conditions. I am so consumed by their plight that I can't even sit and relax after a grueling day at work (okay, not so grueling, but I was, "on duty" which means I was away from home.) All I can do now is frantically drag hoses around the yard to spray the wilting, pathetic flowers with water and curse the heat and drought.

Would it be wrong of me to call in sick tomorrow so I can stay home and water? 

Thursday, May 26, 2011

In All Things...

I look across the living room at my 16-year-old sitting on the couch and wonder what my life would be like without him. I can not imagine it...I turn my attention back to a sobbing daddy on the television telling rescuers how much he appreciated them tirelessly searching for his missing three-year-old son. His, "Little Buddy," was found, but there was no life left in him. The tornado that demolished his house, killed his 16-month-old little brother and critically injured his mother and sister...had claimed another tiny soul...I feel so angry, I want to question God and ask why horrible things happen to good people, but heart can only praise Him for His goodness and protection...for me...and my baby.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

At therapy today, I shook the hand of a dead man...

I'm undergoing hand therapy after finger and wrist surgery. There are days when I feel sorry for myself for always getting banged up or broken. There are so many things that I can not do anymore because of all of my injuries. I try to stay positive and tell myself that there must be a reason God has allowed me to go through all the things that have hurt me, but I'd be lying if I told you that I don't ever get down...that I don't ever cry.

When I am feeling that way, I try to stay home. Away from friends, family...any peering eyes that can detect my weakness. I don't want to be discouraged, but sometimes...I am.

Imagine my shame then when a man comes in to therapy with a brilliant smile on his face and a dead man's hands on the end of his arms. He is the recipient of a double hand transplant and he is the most amazing person I have ever met. After being severely burned and nearly dying, he lost the use of his hands and chose to undergo a risky transplant, never done before.

He gives God the glory for saving his life and for giving him his new hands. As he holds a hand out for me to shake, I look up into his eyes and take his hand into mine. I've told him what an inspiration he is to me, but as I feel his fingers close around my own, a tightness forms in my chest. My throat burns as I choke back tears and return his smile when he says, "Man! It feels good to do that."

I have learned that to give God the praise in every little thing that I CAN do, is all He wants me from me today.

Monday, May 2, 2011

What? Me, Scared?

Her ear piercing scream stopped me in my tracks. She had my attention and I dared not move an inch. I held my breath and froze, trying to decide how to escape unharmed.

I had seen the little family huddling together for warmth earlier in the day. I'll admit that I waited until the fussy mother had wandered off before I ventured over to see the triplets close up.

Their mother and father never got too far from them. It's not like I meant to do them harm. I just wanted to see their little faces and coo to them. I'm a mother too after all, I reasoned. I saw their red-headed dad across the way, "You are gorgeous!" I mouthed to him. He acted like he didn't understand. It was cheap flattery, I'll admit, but I'm a shameless flirt.

As I looked from one sibling to the next, I was amazed at their tiny, perfect features. "Aren't you just the sweetest things?" I asked them, not expecting a response. I got one however. In the form of one very angry momma. She let me know in no uncertain terms that I had better move away from her offspring without delay. She screeched, and screamed and laid down the law in a way that only a mother could.

I tried to explain, to compliment her on her babies, to praise her rearing abilities, but she would hear none of it. She raised her voice, so I raised my hands in defeat and bowed slightly as I backed away slowly from the silent, but wide-eyed little ones. My heart was racing, my breathing quick and shallow, she had convinced me that she would do anything to protect her young. She may have only been a bird, a cardinal no less, but a mother in every sense of the word.

A mother's love can't be explained with fancy words or rhymes
it's something supernatural and it's there for all times.
A mother's love goes beyond a certain parental bond,
it's like a raging river, yet serene as a still pond.
It's boundaries are endless and it's functions are too,
a mother's love are the arms that scold while cradling you...Happy Mother's Day!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Dangerous Duties

Okay, I know I am alone when I say that I am feeling my age today. I swear, I am 443 years old. What hasn't quit working has either seized up or fallen off...seriously! So I'm walking around in the yard today dragging a water hose around with one hand (because I recently had surgery on my ring finger and wrist...) So, one handed watering doesn't sound too hard, right? Wrong, it's dangerous...I twisted my ankle and darn near killed my self trying to keep upright. The neighbors probably thought I was in a drunken stupor, staggering around in the yard. If anyone has video of my, "dance with the water hose," feel free to post it on YouTube. All joking aside, if it would simply rain here I wouldn't be risking my ancient life and limbs attempting to keep plants alive...dangerous duties in a dry dry land.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Spring Renewal

As I walk through the gardens and see tiny buds swelling on tree limbs or a bulb pushing green fleshy growth through the soil, I become pensive and reflect on myself as a micro-member of the universe.

It seems improbable to me that anyone would consider the gift of any anything other than preordained and preplanned by a supreme being so much greater than anything we could imagine. How could any thing that exists in our universe be here by the colliding or gases or the evolution of one organism or another?

It simply isn't possible.

There is a creator of everything. His name is God.

What's amazing to me is that He created everything we as human beings need to survive on planet earth. Every plant has a purpose. Plants feed, clothe, medicate, color, decorate and oxygenate our world and individual lives.

Relish the renewal of spring, but don't miss the forest for the trees. Nothing and no one is here by happenstance...

Monday, March 28, 2011

Time Heals All Wounds

Or so the saying goes...if that's the case, then why do tears form in the corner of ones eyes when thinking of a deceased loved one? Why does ones throat constrict at the mention of a lost love? Why do injuries and scars never really leave your memory lonely?

My theory is that any wound, be it emotional, physical or spiritual leaves an indelible mark one's person as a whole. These marks make us who we are, how we view ourselves, how we view others. I believe that to navigate life without any wounds is to not live at all. For what kind of life would you have if you never experienced the pain of loving, then losing someone? How would you know what joy was if you never experienced sorrow?

I think it more accurate to say, "Time eases the pain of our wounds." Isn't that what we truly want? Our pain just to ease? That's what I want. I choose the pain of loss, remembering the love that I experienced. I choose the pain of failure, remembering the valiant fight.

I'll keep my scars and gladly display them because they prove to me and anyone who cares to see them, that I have lived.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

My dogs are screaming!

Still recovering from shooting shotguns last Thursday...I've decided I am too old for this stuff. I'm thinking I need to hang the ole gun belt up and dig in the dirt full-time. If only! One of these days, I'm going to sit on the back porch, drink coffee till noon and spend the rest of the day in the garden...or the greenhouse, in my pajamas.

After planting 50 baby trees today, I'm not so sure digging is in my best interest either. Why can't a 40 year old woman push a shovel for a few hours without collapsing with exhaustion? Could it be that I am really 440 or 875 years old, instead? Could dogs are hinting that maybe a "break" during spring break would be a good idea.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Jingle Bells, Shotgun Shells...

Well, I am headed to the gun range to do a little shotgun shootin'...I'm not so much excited about blasting away at stuff as I am just being out in the beautiful weather. I may have to smear on a ton of sun screen, but it will be worth it to feel the glorious sunshine on my skin.

While walking through the gardens this morning, it was amazing to see all the little crocus and daffodils up and awake. They, at least, are convinced it is spring. Soon to follow will be the tulips and the hyacinths and grape hyacinths. All the forsythia are blooming and demanding attention as well.

So whatever you are doing today, whether it is killing paper targets, or wrestling ornery kids, I hope you take time to go outside and breathe in some fresh air and be grateful that winter is over!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

"Calling all cars...calling all on the lookout for..."

I never heard those words come across the radio on Saturday night. Since I wasn't in my regularly assigned patrol car, but in a pool car I borrow from the garage, there were a few tools missing that I needed to do my job.

Don't get me wrong, I appreciated having a set of wheels, but I had no radio, no in-car-video camera, no radar and no flash light. There wasn't a whole lot of work that was going to get done that night. At least that is what I kept telling myself. Without a way to hook up my lap top computer, I also hadn't read about the Silver Alert that Midwest City Police Department issued earlier in the day.

Silver Alerts are issued for elderly people with either Alzheimer's disease or dementia who go missing. In the MWC case, it was an 85-year old man who had driven away from his home and had disappeared. The family was frantic. Hours went by without a word. Tears were shed, and prayers were sent heavenward repeatedly.

It had been a long, frustrating day for me. Without the necessary equipment to do my job properly, I was irritable, cranky and somewhat depressed. No one had to tell me that every trooper occasionally has their patrol car in the shop and has to drive a pool unit. I've been working for this same outfit going on 16 years. I'd done this before, but tonight it just hit me wrong. For whatever reason, I was in a foul mood.

As I sat at the bottom of the off ramp of Interstate 35, I contemplated how I was going to spend the last hour or so of I my shift. Should I slink around on a dark country road and hope to stumble across a drunk driver trying to slide home? Should I stick to the interstate? Should I cruise through town? All these decisions were pinging around in my brain when a car starts to cut across my path going west and then suddenly stops in the roadway in front of me. What's this?

Quickly, I look to see if I have forgotten and left my red and blue emergency lights on. Sometimes I forget to turn them off and will be driving around when people start pulling over. I'll wonder what they are doing before I realize that I have left my overhead lights on. Ooops! Sorry! That usually only happens in the day time though and this was closer to one in the morning. My light switches indicated that no lights were activated, so I glanced back at the car in the roadway. As if the driver could hear me telling him to move, he pulled to the shoulder, then around the corner into a convenience store parking lot.

Through the back window of his car, I could see his silver hair and watched as he looked over his shoulder to see if I had followed him. So I pulled along side of his car and rolled the window down. He appeared lost and confused. Without rolling his own window down, he got out of his car and leaned on my window sill. He had a simple request. Would I help him find his way home?

After calling my communications center on my cell phone (thank God for cell phones!) I learned that the gentleman sitting in my patrol car had been missing for several hours and a Silver Alert had been issued for him. After several minutes, a young police officer from MWC arrived with the elderly gentleman's grown son. The son gripped my hand tightly, thanking me for finding his father. I had a lump in my throat as I watched the two men embrace. That's when I told the younger of the two, I didn't find your dad, he found me. He basically pulled me over!

We all laughed at that, but as I watched them drive away, I was convicted of all my many grumblings of the day. God had to remind me, through this situation, why I was allowed to work in law enforcement in the first place. I am suppose to help people. Turns out, it was one of the best days I have ever had on the highway patrol.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Writing furiously!

Well friends, I have been typing my lil' fingers to the bone...seriously! I have one manuscript complete and am knee deep in the sequel. I'm not really sure why I waited so long to get started writing.


Okay, maybe I have been a little busy, but now that I am is all I can think about or do. I did take a break from writing yesterday to plant about 25 Arizona Cypress seedlings. They are gorgeous! They are heat and drought tolerant, can take clay, sandy or a mixture of soils and have the most beautiful blue/gray foliage. I only have about 175 left to plant, so I have got to get busy.

By the way, do you have a pair of gloves and a shovel?  :)

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Really? Really!

Okay, here's what I will never do something to get my attention and then when you have it and I pull you want to talk crazy to me? Really? Really!

Can't we all just get along?

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Pick up the pansies, let's plant!

If you haven't planted any spring annuals, now is the time to do it. Go grab a flat of pansies, they come in a variety of colors and combinations of colors. Throw those bad boys in the dirt! You will be amazed at what a little bit of color in your garden, right now, will do for your spirit.

I have yellow pansies dancing in my garden. Literally! Okay, so they aren't dancing, but they do look pretty darn happy. I planted them in the fall. They looked kinda sad during all the snow, but the hints of spring weather having them waving their gorgeous little yellow heads now. Call me corny, but they make my heart happy!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Time to make the donuts!

For some reason I have this song running through my head..."On the road again, just can't wait to get on the road again..." Don't ask, I have no idea. Suffice to say, when I go on duty today at 4:00 p.m. I will be..."On the road again."

If you see me driving that black and white patrol car too fast, rest assured I am headed to a legitimate call or to the rest room. Both of which, require speed and are considered an emergency.

Honk and wave if you see me out and about!


Friday, February 25, 2011

First try at blogging...

Well, here goes. This is pretty exciting. My palms feel a little clammy as I start to peck out the letters to form words. Why do I have to keep backspacing? I'm nervous, I guess. I'd be lying if I said I thought someone other than my family and close friends were going to read this. Of course, I hope the masses will venture here eventually. Thank you for being one of the first. You can say you knew me when...

Like an old woman getting into a freezing swimming pool, I am going to slowly ease into this blogging deal. Forgive me if I bore you this first time out.

I'll just begin by telling you my name is Betsy Randolph. I live in Oklahoma where the wind is sung about and cussed at, often. Just like the title says, I have two tools of my trades; pistols and pruners. I do have other interests and will no doubt share those with you as time goes on. Thanks for dropping by, come back soon.