Sunday, December 30, 2018

Hits and Misses

Some years past, I made lists at the end of the year of Hits and Misses in the garden.

This year's list is more about what took a direct hit and what I'll miss in years to come, but here goes nothing.

The biggest Hits early in 2018 were tomatoes. Sometimes we even had one or two to share. It worked out well when Lane took over fertilizing and watering  until his memory started to fail. He started putting little spoonfuls of undiluted blue crystals directly on the soil. When I pointed out that the box said to dilute, he said, "I do it this way." and we didn't speak of it again. I added extra water past what his little dribble hoses were supplying.

Eventually the weather got warm and they stopped 
setting fruit.

Reviewing past years, I see the plan for successful winter vegetables: Veggies cut back in late summer put up new shoots very quickly. As the weather cools, some will come inside that have young fruits to see how long they bear in the greenhouse.  I could do that with pots of patio plants and keep them on a screened porch until a freeze comes and let them come in the house until freezing temps pass.

 Christmas Cactuses were a Hit. Those who fail to bloom by Christmas are a continuing Hit until the last one blooms. 

Every year past I've given away some of the prettiest and kept little plants to grow on. I brought some to the beach with me and they're rewarding me for their vacation by blooming a very few at a time. 

A non-plant Hit that we really enjoyed in late winter was Banana Pudding made with homemade Vanilla Wafers because I was not about to drive 15 miles to town to buy a box of cookies. 

Banana Pudding is always a Hit.

One year not long after we moved to South Georgia, I found a wildflower growing across the highway along the old hog pasture fence. I was so thrilled -- until the electric company spray guys came along and killed everything under the power lines including my wildflowers. 

Years passed and one day I noticed some dainty foliage in a flower bed that resembled sort of, maidenhair fern. I left it. It bloomed. Corydalis! Somehow it found its way back and to a safer spot. An aside here: the Chinese use a derivative of the roots of a corydalis species as a non-opiod pain reliever for fibromyalgia. I just used it as a self seeded filler for beds of Daffodils.  Hit!

Azaleas were a hit in the Spring of 2018. 

The bare horizontal branches are 
Dogwood not quite ready to bloom.
Below is the same spot in summer.

When the hurricane came in October, the huge oak 
fell and many azaleas and smaller trees were HIT.

Since this picture was taken the limbs were cut and moved off the driveway. The huge trunk and roots remain. It will take months to clear all we have waiting. Fields come before yards for planting.

 Remember when we used to go to the woods and pick sweet shrub flowers to tie in the corner of a handkerchief to smell the fruity aroma?

The big oak missed the Sweet Shrubs, at least some of them. I hope to have native plants in my garden always. 

Like Ladies' Tresses Orchids -- 
This one came up under my blueberry bush.  

Blooms and seed pods of Wild Indigo. Baptisia.

Too many things to list them all. This lily flowered Magnolia bloomed out of season in late June. It had bloomed at the usual spring time and suddenly here was a blossom. This plant goes back to before I was first here. More than 50 years ago it was a small tree. It's been cut down several times and came back. 

It's a promise.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Year in Review

2018 started out like any other year. We had Hyacinths in January, tomatoes in the greenhouse in February.

During that time I began to notice small things that made little sense, like the day that He Who Mowed drove through his friend's plowed garden spot at the lake in 4 wheel drive instead of backing out when he realized that it was very soft ground, leaving deep ruts.

Eventually the small things that I attributed to Old Age became bigger things like secretly ordering off online for things we didn't need that I learned about after the fact like a gun and a piece of furniture. Suddenly in late February he was badly confused. I could see no signs of stroke. An MRI showed a glioma the size of an orange in his head. Brain tumor!

Steroids to reduce swelling before surgery brought back not only his memory but his hearing and took away his chronic back pain. We fought the side effects with insulin and antidepressants.

He refused surgery and subsequent treatment when his memory returned, saying he'd seen what cancer treatment did to his friends and then they died anyway. He was a man with a plan. It was as if he was given superhuman strength and determination. He was able to accomplish most of the tasks he set for himself, despite my fears for the rest of us.

video of Lane's Last Hurrah

Doctor feared that he would have a seizure and instructed him not to drive. A compromize was reached in which he could drive but only machinery on his own property, not on the highway. He used the issue of someone else driving to make sure we knew the rules of the road: "Do you know what STOP means?" after one of us kind of rolled through a 4-way halfway to town.

Eventually the steroids stopped working. There were other medical issues and logistics issues but we managed. When I reached the point where I knew I couldn't go on with only Glenn's help, we called Hospice. They quickly set us up with equipment and other support both physical and emotional.

Two months had passed. When he took to the hospital bed after ignoring it for a few days, I knew. Four days and he was gone.

 April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain. -- T S Eliot

In June, I had pneumonia. We decided that maybe I should be closer to family. It all happened quickly and I kept wondering what had possessed me to lease a house in Panama City Beach.

Then the storm came on October 10 and I knew. It was shelter from the worst Hurricane ever seen in these parts. We were just west of the eye and this house stood, less than a mile from the sandy beach. A tree fell into Glenn and Charla's house across the bridge. Shingles blew off my roof in the country, 100 miles north where the storm had hardly slowed. We were safe here.

"What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow
Out of this stony rubbish? Son of man,
You cannot say, or guess, for you know only
A heap of broken images, where the sun beats,
And the dead tree gives no shelter, the cricket no relief...."
-- The Wasteland, T S Eliot.

I know how to put together another one.

We are slowly recovering as are the rest of NW Florida and SW Georgia, hardly anyone untouched by the winds and rain. The house at the farm has a new roof. Glenn's house gets a new roof next week. They have much work to do inside the house. We have much to do at the farm outside.

Recently on the day of what would have been Lane's 80th birthday, his lifelong close friend just 3 miles down the road went to be with the Lord too after a valiant fight that included a few months of surgery and chemo.

Betty, former Hospice nurse used to say, "We only die once and we each get to do it our way."

"I read, much of the night, and go south in the winter." --T S Eliot, also from The Wasteland.  The Wasteland

Here I am, hopeful for a better year in 2019. I'll be going back to the farm soon to wait for a house being built farther from the beach. It will be interesting to see what survives under all the debris from the storm.

I reviewed some of my ancient blog posts this morning and realized that most of my best plants came from seed, or cuttings or divisions. Life goes on, or as Miss Billie used to say as she broke off a huge piece of Hydrangea, 'Stick this in the ground. It will root.' You can put down roots anywhere.