GOALS: CALL YOUR OWN SHOTS

“You miss one hundred percent of the shots you do not take.”

-Wayne Gretzky, former Canadian professional hockey player and leading scorer of the NHL to date. He was nicknamed “The Great One” for many good reasons, including having more goals and assists than any other player in history.

Life is good; call your own shots.

Carpe diem, friends………

(photo:Dreamstime)

THE JOURNEY OR THE DESTINATION?

lantana, zinnia, and sweet potato vine

I have come to many realizations while being cooped up inside during this pandemic. My fascination with one’s perception has me asking myself which is more important in life? The journey or the destination? This is a hot topic among many people, whether they think about it or not. If you think of the people you know, there are many people that are more “journey” type people, yet others are more “destination” people. This fascinates me to no end. Our perceptions about the world colors our approach to living time and time again.

Recently, the discussion in our home has centered around the pergola that my husband built recently in the back yard. We talk about how we are planning on growing all kinds of plants in containers to make the space more inviting when we sit under it. I have enjoyed the many “pipedreams” that have gone round and round in my head, much like I enjoy a good road trip. For me, the journey is such an important part of the experience. Thinking about doing something, pondering about all the possibilities, brainstorming for new ideas, “seeing” the plants in my head in various combinations all give me joy. Similarly it doesn’t matter where I plan to “go” on the road trip; doing whatever comes along, stopping where the wind blows is equally fun. The trip itself, or the journey, is half the fun. It is similar to the selection of planting materials, containers, etc. in my mind. It matters less what I actually plant, as the journey is part of the experience with growing plants as well as I search for “thrillers, fillers, and spillers” for my containers. The pandemic has inspired me to get back to my “roots” of gardening, if only in containers, which is something that had always defined me until I moved to Florida. Gardening here is a whole new world, one that I had not ventured into again until recently.

zinnia, lantana, and calibrachoa

It is very interesting to me that my daughter, “Teen Traveler” isn’t always quite like me. She isn’t always quite like her father, either. However, she’s game for almost anything, like both of us, and I dragged her to a garden center today where we could be in the open and socially distance ourselves with a wide area away from others. I told her I could use her thoughts about what we grow near the pergola and told her that my only requirement was that the plants need to attract butterflies and be colorful. We walked round and round in the garden center, and after a while she announced that she was “done” with the experience as she was getting very hot in the Florida morning sun. She laughed when she said “I guess it really doesn’t matter to me what we plant in the containers. It will be fun, but all I really care is that they look good in the end.” What a revelation. Definitely a “destination” person, at least in this matter. Fascinating.

pentas (I am not a big fan or red in the garden, but it sure does attract butterflies)

I guess in the end, I have decided mostly that I want it ALL. I always want it all. The “journey” is part of the joy in my life, as well as the “destination”, too. I always enjoy a good “pipedream” as often as I can as well as having my hands elbow deep in the dirt, but the finished product gives me a sense of satisfaction and joy, too. I wonder if this approach is situation specific or if this approach can be generalized to other areas of our lives as well. Food for thought.

Life is good; enjoy both your journey as well as your destination if you can, whenever you can.

Carpe diem, friends…………………

Two links for creating beautiful container gardens:

https://www.provenwinners.com/Container-Design

LIFE IS LIKE A PERGOLA

pergola pieces on grass

As long as I’ve lived in our present home, five years or so, I have wanted a pergola in the worst way. No, since we bought our second house about FIFTEEN years ago, I have wanted a pergola. In our current house, we have a cement patio slab in the back yard that we rarely use, which I always thought would look great with a pergola. I thought it would center the yard and give us a purpose to venture outside of our comfortable pool screen deck area into the “real world.” Another way of stepping out of our comfort zone metaphorically. The patio is on the south side of the house, which of course in central Florida makes it hot most time of the year. My husband has pointed out that it’s nicer in the screen room, as we are free of mosquitoes when we sit there. My husband has also pointed out that with only three of us living in the house, we have PLENTY of places to sit and enjoy the moment without the addition of a pergola. I, however, pointed out that I really wanted the pergola to have a place to string those wonderful industrial “Edison” light bulb outdoor string lights that I’ve seen EVERYWHERE, and it would be great from time to time to enjoy the breeze OUTSIDE the screen, especially at night while watching the sunset over the pond behind our house. The lights were a key component to my plan, something to which I really looked forward.

definitely a “before” picture of the patio in the back yard, SO ready for a pergola for SUCH a long time

Fast forward to Sunday, Mother’s Day. When I awoke, my daughter gave me a “pergola” that she had constructed from rolled paper cylinders and tape along with a beautiful card she made. I laughed and said I FINALLY got the pergola I have always wanted. Then I saw it, that wry little smile on the faces of both my daughter and my husband. They brought me out to the garage, where there was a pergola kit that my husband had purchased earlier in the morning while I was sleeping. Evidently, he wore his N99 half face mask from his garage workshop when he rented a van to drive to the store to purchase the pergola. I was speechless. It was even a GRAY pergola, the color in my head which I had recently decided I wanted. It was such a beautiful sight seeing my husband and my daughter collaborating together to make a beautiful moment. A beautiful moment for ME. It was, in the words of Raymond Carver, “a small good thing”, except this was a LARGE “good thing.”

model pergola created by my daughter, “Teen Traveler”

Shortly thereafter, my husband tirelessly laid out all the parts to the pergola on the backyard grass in the hot Florida sun and began to lovingly and patiently assemble it. We had delighted in planning all the wonderful things that we could grow in pots around the pergola to make a backyard oasis, a spot of rest, relaxation, and tranquility. I became even more excited when I saw the pergola move beyond a set of boards, nuts, and bolts to really start to take shape. I have not decided yet what I want for furniture under the pergola, as I already have two large sectional seating areas and a good sized dining table near the pool already. I want this space to be somehow different as it beguiles us to sit beneath it. We decided that we want a vine-covered pergola to allow us a bit of shade, so my husband decided on a confederate star jasmine plant after a great deal of research. This plant would give us a quickly growing scented flower which grows wild in these parts and is easy to care for. We did a “curbside” pick up of two of these plants from the local nursery to get a jump start on growing them before we really need them. We are enjoying the planning process as a whole family. This gives us a new bond together, something we can call our own and can each take part in. Each of us takes turn watering the plants we have purchased for the pergola, and there is beauty in this sense of togetherness. In a sense, it is somehow like we are all breaking bread together in some way, as this is a shared experience that brings us even closer together.

confederate star jasmine plants for the pergola

As my husband and I were going for our walk last evening, I decided to check where the electrical outlet closest to the pergola site is, as this pergola has electrical outlets built into it which can be connected to a nearby electrical outlet. We have outdoor electrical outlets all around the exterior of the house, EXCEPT adjacent to the concrete patio. I laughed at myself for thinking of almost everything EXCEPT the electricity. In retrospect, I decided I didn’t want the pergola as much as I wanted the hanging lights, truth be known. It seemed, then, that my plan had the first monkey wrench thrown at it.

After just a moment more with my own thoughts, I quickly decided that life is VERY much like that pergola. We come up with a plan, sometimes in intricate detail in our lives, looking forward to a myriad of things that unfold as part of the process along the way. The pergola, like life itself, gives us a sense of purpose that we develop and nurture. We think the sky is the limit and live our lives accordingly. After all, what the mind can conceive, the mind can achieve, so it has been said. However, as life happens, sometimes there is some obstacle in our way. Something comes along that we had not planned. Something threatens to thwart our plans. We consider changing our course. We consider putting our plans aside, if even only for a short time.

construction begins slowly, but it does begin

However, the human spirit prevails, and the pergogla construction (and life) continues. My husband and I know we can come up with a new plan in which we can solve this issue. If we eliminate the improbable, as it has been said, what remains is the possible. We CAN make this work with a little thought and effort or we can change our thinking and our expectations. That is, we could always have a pergola without lights (not a possibility for me). We could always run an outdoor extension cord as the most obvious and quickest solution solution. Or, we could hire an electrician to put in another electrical outlet where we need it once the pandemic is over and we can have someone come into our house again. We could have him drill through the cement/block construction of our house in order to bring power from the INSIDE out. There are many ways to solve this problem, and we simply need to think about them and decide upon a solution. That’s life, isn’t it? Define the problem. Work the problem. Find the solution. It can be done, and it will be done. My motto always is, “Don’t tell me no, tell me HOW.” Sometimes, though, we have to wait just a little while for the plan to come to fruition.

Life is good. Work the problem. Find the solution. Life life fully and completely, finding something to look forward to and make it work. That’s life, in all its glory and in all its beauty.

Carpe diem, friends……find your own version of a “pergola.”

ORCHIDS, A NEW HOBBY DURING THE PANDEMIC

I have completed my furniture refinishing projects around the house, have cleaned out some cabinets and closets (but not THE remaining closet), cooked lots of food, made ice cream three times in the last week, gone for multiple walks, laughed so much that my belly hurt, played lots of board games and lastly decided I need a new hobby. I was a Master Gardener, having completed the Master Gardener Program in the Northeastern United States when I lived there, but never really got into gardening here in Florida. It seems so odd to me that the shrubbery surrounding my home are actually HOUSEPLANTS in New England. I also have been petrified of snakes here, living near a pond. However, I really miss the day to day joy of watching something grow before my eyes, noticing subtle changes unfolding from day to day. Sure, I have pots of plants outside with flowers and vegetables growing, and I also have an Aerogarden in my home, but I need something new to look forward to in the plant department while I am cooped up at home.

The French have a saying, “vouloir c’est pouvoir”. Where there is a will, there is a way, loosely translated. This is a saying imbedded within my soul. While many stores and garden centers are closed here near me while I am continuing to self-isolate, I found a local garden center that does curbside delivery. Just like the restaurants. I can order on-line, pay on-line, and pick up my plant on a table set up in front of the garden center, having no contact with anyone if I plan my departure from the car perfectly. As long as we have HOUSEPLANTS growing in the yard, I might as well add another HOUSEPLANT to the trees.

I have long admired orchids growing in trees in tropical areas while on vacation, so I wondered if my gardening zone (9b) could tolerate orchids attached to trees. I noticed that someone dear to my heart has an orchid growing in her front yard and didn’t realize it until recently. She is really my inspiration for my new hobby. I began to think…….. I have a beautiful Southern Magnolia tree in the back yard, near the pool, and decided a splash of some bright pink might be a bit of whimsical fun poking out from the leaves of the tree. I did some research and found out that dendrobium orchids and phalaenopsis orchids do well attached to trees, without pots, in my area. I selected a variety of dendrobium orchid called “Oshin Pink”, which is a pink and while orchid.

“You are never too old to set a goal or dream a dream.”

-C.S. Lewis

First I leaned the orchid against the tree to get an idea of the size and scale of both.

Then, I took the orchid out of the four inch pot, leaving some dirt mixed in with the roots. Some of the sources I consulted said to use plastic plant ties to attach the plant to the tree, and others said to use biodegradable cotton string or twine, but I simply used what I had in the garage (thin nylon rope). I wrapped the rope around the plant, starting first at the roots, then attached part of the stem to the tree as well. It took all of five minutes to do this. Some sources said you can add in some coconut fiber or bark to the roots to hold in the moisture, yet other sources said that might encourage rot and disease, so I opted not to use any. I read that it is important to spray the orchid with water daily for a week, so we’ll see how it works out. This side of the tree is a eastern/southeastern exposure, which can be pretty hot in the summer. I started out with one orchid first to see if it is in the proper placement, but the garden center told me being in the shade of the Southern Magnolia tree would provide the relief from the hot sun that the orchid needs, regardless of which side of the tree I plant the orchid.

I was so excited when I finished my new project for my new hobby. Adding a bit of excitement to any day is always a good thing in my opinion. I love having something for which to look forward. As Mark Twain said, “Why not go out on a limb? That’s where all the fruit is.” In my case, that’s where all the flowers will be. Always feels good to me to try something new, and I try to see something I love, touch something I love, smell something I love, hear something I love, do something I love, or eat something I love each day. In this tree, I can see something I love, hear something I love, and I’ve already done something I love within five minutes. It doesn’t get any better than that!

“Where flowers bloom so does hope.”

-Lady Bird Johnson

Life is good; start a new hobby or find something that adds excitement, joy, and change into your daily routine to give yourself something beautiful to look forward to while you self-isolate.

Carpe diem, friends……………