Friday, June 26, 2009

Do you remember the time?

Well, I am going to do something I almost never do on this blog: talk about a celebrity and a current event. I don't talk about celebrities much because I'm not really a celeb lover, and I don't talk about current events because that's not really what this blog is for.

But Michael Jackson! How could I not talk about him?

Actually, it would be really easy for me not to talk about him and his death. I was never a big fan--he had some songs I liked and that was about it. And I've spent the past 15 years or so just shaking my head every time he popped up on the news. He was a very sad, very damaged, very sick guy.

However. When you're in those years when you're really starting to notice the world and make all those memories that shape the rest of your life--say ages 10-20?--the things that happen in those years almost become part of your DNA. And Michael Jackson was happening in those years of my life. You couldn't get away from him, he was absolutely everywhere, especially when Thriller was out. It's hard to explain to someone who wasn't there how pervasive his face and his music were. Life in the 80's wasn't like life today, where everyone has their own little obscure bands they listen to that only 10 other people have ever heard of. Even if you weren't really a fan, if you listened to the radio at all, you listened to Michael Jackson.

So I think that when someone like that dies, part of the shock or grief or whatever it is that people feel has less to do with that specific person, and maybe more to do with how that person made them feel, the memories associated with them, the feeling of who you were when their music was playing in the background of your life. Part of the mourning is a mourning for that time and who you were then.

You shared planet time with an extraordinarily talented person, and now he's gone and you're still here. Which also feels weird and unsettling
, and maybe worthy of taking a minute or two to ponder.

I turned on the news for about five minutes but no one was talking about anything beyond speculation--what happens to his money? to his kids?--so I started channel-flipping and landed on MTV, which is showing his videos all night long (extremely fitting, since he almost singlehandedly put MTV on the map.) Now I'm just sitting here and blogging and doing some crossword puzzles before bed, and enjoying the music and memories. Feels nice.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

When the earth was cooler.

I always make up little definitions for those "words" that you have to type in when you leave a comment on some blogs. I figured there must be other people who do the same thing but actually write them down, and I was right: Zrharc!

Anyway, I ran into a good one when I was commenting on a blog just now: "prenerda." I figure that refers to the historical epoch before the advent of Star Trek, pocket protectors, and the transistor.

Little surprises.

Just a couple little things that are coming up unexpectedly in my garden...

I remember throwing a couple packets of seeds on the flowerbeds last year, but I can't remember if hollyhocks were among them. Seems unlikely, but here are two big tall flowers coming up in front of my picket fence, right next to the daisies. Are they hollyhocks? Color me dumb, because I don't know. But it was a nice surprise to glance over there the other day and see this unexpected splash of pale yellow. I love pale yellow!

Last year when my grandparents' home was sold, my dad dug up some of Grandma's mint for me, and I brought it home and planted it in the only place I could think of that wasn't too hot or too shady. I thought it had croaked over the winter, because it died back to absolutely nothing, and because I have never had much luck growing mint on my own, but here it is coming right along:

I have never been able to find a mint at any nursery that smells and tastes quite like the mint from Grandma's house, so I am thrilled to see this one taking root. I hope it takes over the whole little bed where I put it, so we can have gallons of mint tea all summer long next year! Not even enough for a cup of mint tea at the moment, but enough to pick a couple sprigs and think of Grandma.

Grandma fell and broke her hip week before last--this is her second broken hip and we don't know if she'll bounce back from this one the way she did from her first one. She's 89 now and not as mobile as she was then. Think a good thought for her if you would.

I have two grandmas, with three broken hips between other grandma, in Missouri, had quite a few health struggles after her broken hip last fall, but was able to leave the nursing home and go back home this past spring, which was so important to her. It's amazing to me how much they can do to bring elderly people back to health, or if not all the way back to health, at least back to some good quality of life. I'm really grateful for that, because both of my grandmas are precious to me!

It's a nice day here--the clouds are moving in and I have my fingers crossed for rain, but the Weather Channel disagrees. It's just nice and warm, not hot, about 80 degrees.

I visited the library for the first time in at least two years this morning, looking for a couple of audiobooks, and I found Julie Andrew's memoir, read by her, which I've been wanting to listen to since it came out. I just love that lady. She wrote my all-time, numero uno, top of the list favorite book when I was a child, Mandy. I think my love of cottages and cottage gardens comes directly from that book!

Off to do some kitchen cleaning and plan supper.
What sounds good for supper?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Furniture memories.

We had one of those serendipitous experiences last weekend that make you smile when you think of them.

Todd had stopped at a garage sale Saturday morning and picked up a couple of old hand tools from an older guy who had come over from Smithfield to try to unload a few things at his daughter's sale. The man was a retired engineer who restores antique furniture now.

When he got home, Todd realized that he still wanted a few of the tools he'd passed up, and he also told me about a hutch made from an old letter cubbyhole box that the man was selling. We thought it might work in our dining room.
We went back to where the sale was later that afternoon (and let me tell you it was a small miracle that Todd was able to find the place again!) and the guy had gone back over to Smithfield with his stuff. So we got his phone number and arranged to drop by that evening and look at the hutch.

Well, what a lovely hour we had with Dave and his wife. The hutch didn't work out, because it was too big for the spot we would have had to put it in, but we had a super time looking at Dave's backyard woodworking shop (Todd madly taking mental notes for his own shop) and chatting about various things as Todd and Dave looked over the shop and Todd bought the old toolbox full of tools that he'd wanted.

We were heading back to our car, full of apologies for interrupting their dinner, when Dave asked us if we'd like to see the antiques in their home, since we'd been chatting about antiques and auctions.
Would we?!

Dave and his wife have been collecting antique furniture for what seems to be most, if not all, of their life together, and the only "modern" piece of furniture I could see in their home was a swivel computer chair, which sat in front of a gorgeous library table-turned-computer desk. Everything else, even the TV armoire which was repurposed from what looked like an old wardrobe, was beautiful and old.

What made it so special, as they took us through every room and pointed out every gorgeous piece, was that they had a little story or memory that went along with each one--where they'd picked it up, how much they'd paid for it, the child who'd slept in that bed, the woman who'd given them that bookcase from her father's old law office.

On the way home, we talked about the memories associated with our own bits and pieces of furniture. We don't have very many antique pieces, and I'm not quite sure why. Probably because when we've needed to buy furniture, we've needed very specific items, and not just whatever fate happened to toss in our path at a sale. Also, antique furniture has risen in price quite a bit between Dave and his wife's early married days and our own.

But we do have some things that have definite memories attached, and I thought I'd share them.

I've probably told the story of our china cupboard and sideboard (our only truly antique pieces) before. When we moved into our first apartment together in Pittsburgh, we had nothing--nothing! The woman who was vacating the apartment had lived there for decades and was moving into a nursing home and had some things she couldn't take with her. So we paid her $100 for a scratchy plaid couch, a metal wardrobe, a rickety card table, two vinyl kitchen chairs, and these:

As we were talking Saturday night we realized this was our very first furniture purchase--bought a week or two before our wedding. And they'll always remind us of our crummy first apartment in Squirrel Hill.

Our first bed is long gone. It had beautiful bedposts with knobs carved sort of like pineapple bottoms. It was given to us by Todd's parents, who had gotten it themselves from an older lady at their church.

She also gave them the dresser that went with it, and Todd's mom gave me the dresser a few years later when we moved back to Ohio from Idaho.

When we got our new bedroom furniture last year, I just couldn't bring myself to get rid of the dresser, even though the pulls are broken off one of the drawers and another drawer's slides are broken--it has such great lines and it holds so much stuff! So it moved to my study where it holds computer ink, felted wool sweaters, and excess grocery items.

The dresser is also special because it still has the label on the back from the furniture store in Columbiana (our hometown) where it was bought in the 1940's.

After a few years of marriage, we were finally solvent enough to start buying new furniture to replace some of our hand-me-downs, and the very first thing we bought was this couch, my love for which has been documented here before:

Nine years isn't antique, even for a couch, but it's very squishy and beloved and a reminder of the joy of having disposable income for the first time in your life.

Once we'd bought the couch, we decided to replace the kitchen table and chair set next, which were, again, hand-me-downs from Todd's folks. (They pretty much were our furniture suppliers for the first several years!)

We both wanted something well-made and unique, so we headed up to Holmes County, which has a large Amish community and large numbers of Amish craftsmen making some of the prettiest, sturdiest wood furniture you'll ever see.

We also bought coffee and end tables there a little later on. We'd have bought our bedroom suite there if we were still living in Ohio. How I miss Holmes County! We really enjoyed our drives there, through the countryside, and then having lunch at one of the Amish restaurants in Berlin, and then roaming through stores and warehouses that smelled like wood and polyurethane.

When we bought our first home in 2002, we needed some odds and ends, and we found this little old table at an auction in Clintonville, one of the old neighborhoods in Columbus.

It's nothing special, but it has a lovely wood grain on the top, and looking at it reminds me of that sale and the pretty summer day, and the excitement of buying our first house. The chair next to it is from that same era--one of two small Ikea armchairs that have worked perfectly in every place we've lived since then.

We bought one more piece of Amish furniture before we left Ohio--the pie safe on the right. It went into the red kitchen of our first home, to serve as a pantry, and it looked wonderful there. I think it looks nice in my green kitchen, too, though. (Better than the light in this picture shows, anyway--yikes! Our kitchen is apple green, not mint green!)

The piece on the left is also from Amish country, but Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, rather than Holmes County, Ohio. We took a trip up there a couple of years ago to attend a machine show, and I dropped Todd off there and went out to explore. I found that stand at another Amish furniture showroom, and a nice man hauled it into the back of my station wagon for me. What I always remember when I look at it is the arctic January wind that blew across the fields around that farm and showroom. Brrrrrrrr.

When we moved to Virginia, we found that auctions and good estate sales were harder to come by. But I found this chair at one of the only auctions I ever remember attending here, the first year we lived here. It was sitting off on the edge of the yard with a bunch of other very forlorn looking chairs, and we hung around till almost the end so I could bid on it.

It had pale green upholstery hanging off it in tatters, and dirty stuffing sticking out all over, and was probably a thing of beauty 40 years ago. I wanted to find a fabric as close to the original as possible when we took it to be reupholstered, but there was nothing like it. So I went with something different (and have regretted it ever since!)

I paid $35 for the chair at the auction, which was probably $30 more than it was worth, and we spent several hundred to have it reupholstered, but I persist in calling it my "$35 chair." Someday when I have a few more hundred bucks with nothing else to claim them, I'm going to scour the shops until I find a fabric I really love and have it re-reupholstered.

So our home is a mix of things bought new and used, but the thing that makes them special is the memories attached to them. When we walked through Dave's home, we could feel the happiness and the love he and his wife feel for each other, for their family, for their beautiful things and for their memories. It was a peaceful, contented home. I hope our home feels the same way to visitors--because it does to me!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Home Cooking.

One of the unfortunate things about starting your blog way back in the ancient days of Blogger is that all the nifty new features are inapplicable to your old template. For instance, I love the feature on newer blogs where you can attach identifiers and categories to each post, thereby making it easy for you and your readers to find topics related to home, or thrifting, or cooking, or whatever you write about. But I have not been able to find the courage to try to do a template change on four years' worth of writing, lest something dreadful happen.

So for that reason, I can't remember, and don't feel like sorting through four years of posts to find out, whether I have ever mentioned Laurie Colwin here before.

I have a very pleasant memory of discovering Laurie was my junior year of college and I was at the mall at home on a break, browsing through the bargain rack in front of Waldenbooks.

[I have a pleasant memory of the Waldenbooks, too, as it was the first bookstore I ever visited, thanks to my aunt Charlotte,who gave me a gift certificate for my 8th birthday--an event that looms very large in my life.]

So in the bargain rack was a hardback copy of Home Cooking: A Writer in the Kitchen, which is a collection of columns Colwin, a novelist, wrote for Gourmet magazine. A couple weeks ago, I wrote about E.B. White and his wife and their writing style, and I think Colwin's style falls into the same category: erudite, straightforward, deceptively simple, gently opinionated.

I'll never forget reading Colwin's description of cooking in her first New York apartment which was the size of a box of animal crackers, as I believe she described it, while sitting in my dorm room, which had roughly the same dimensions (plus a sheet strung on a rope across the middle to divide my roommate's half from my half--this was our third year rooming together and the thrill was gone.) Whenever I picture her apartment, I see my dorm room. I read and re-read that book, just for the enjoyment of her voice and the images she evoked.

A few years later, Todd and I were living in Idaho Falls, Idaho, which at that time had no real bookstore. (It was a great day indeed when the Barnes and Noble finally went in on the edge of town.) We would drive down to Salt Lake City, four hours away, every now and then, to shop and to hit a few excellent independent bookstores. At one of these bookstores, I was completely surprised and delighted to find a paperback copy of More Home Cooking: A Writer Returns to the Kitchen. This was in the dark ages B.I. (Before Internet) when it was a lot harder to find out about new releases and what a writer was up to, so I had no idea the book was out there.

I got a bad feeling when I opened up the book and the copyright page said "the Estate of Laurie Colwin." I flipped to the back and saw that she had passed away the year before, in her late forties, of a heart attack.

Since then, I've read several other people's descriptions of finding out about her death, and it made me feel perversely better to know I wasn't the only reader out there feeling bereft. So this book, although also a joy to read, was tinged with melancholy, reading Colwin's loving descriptions of her small daughter, and knowing how little time she had with her.

Ever since I found that first book, I have been trying to find a food essayist who hits the same notes as Colwin, and I have yet to find one. The last couple of years have seen an explosion of food- and cooking-related memoirs, and I was looking through a few at the bookstore today, and I had my usual thought--they're just not as good as Laurie. I can't describe what it is I love about her writing. I wonder if part of the pleasure I find is just remembering the places and times where I read her books for the first time: on the bed in my tiny dorm room in Ohio, in the front seat of my Nissan Pathfinder in Utah.

Anyway, if you're drawn to any sort of foodie writing, Colwin is the momma of it all, and you should check her out.

Monday, June 15, 2009

The unveiling.

Well, it's been--what, four months, five months? since we started redoing our guest bathroom, and I think I'm finally ready to show it off. The delay has mostly been because I couldn't figure out what to hang on the walls, and waiting for Todd to make a new door for the medicine cabinet. 90% of the job was done ages ago!

Just for fun, here are a couple of pictures from the day we took possession of the house (December 2005.)

We replaced all the wooden--wooden! in a bathroom!--fixtures almost immediately: towel bar, TP holder, and that nasty toothbrush holder under the medicine cabinet went away and never came back. Boy, were they gross. We put in nice new nickel towel hooks, towel ring and TP holder.

In January 08, we finally got around to replacing the light fixture over the sink--I don't think I have a picture of the original, but it was one of those long strips of wood with the giant bare bulbs sticking straight out of it. Very chic.

Here you can also see the notorious ducky wall paper border that I hated so. Wow, I almost sort of miss those ducks.

Ha! No, I don't!

Finally in February we moved the guest bath to the top of our long "home improvement" list, and here's what we did:

-painted all the trim a nice crisp white
-scraped off the wallpaper
-painted the walls Laura Ashley Sage
-put in a new floor, and new white quarter-round, and sealed it all up good
-painted the vanity box white
-made new doors and drawer fronts, painted them white, and added new hinges and drawer pulls
-put in a new countertop and faucet
-replaced the mirror (because we broke the old one trying to re-mount it!)
-replaced the medicine cabinet and made a new door for it
-sewed a new shower curtain (courtesy of my mother-in-law)

Now it looks quite lovely, if I do say it myself:

You can see that the medicine cabinet door has yet to be painted...I kind of like the natural wood, but I'll probably be painting it white sometime this week, along with the doors for the master bath vanity.

The floor is a little bit more yellow-brown than I thought it would be from the sample in the store, but it's still a major improvement on what was there before. And I've been trying to find the purple bathmat that goes with the towels at Kohl's but no joy yet, so it's the brown one from the master bath for now.

It's so nice to have a room that you walk into and feel good about, isn't it? We have done so much to this house, but so often all you focus on is how much there is yet to do. It's good to look back and know that we got it done and made something ugly into something pretty.

Now on to finish the master bath--we've been surrounded by paint cans and rollers and tubs of spackle in there for far too long!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

40 years together.

Today is a very special day for my mom and dad--their 40th wedding anniversary!

Although life hasn't been quite as easy as these two kids probably thought it would be--raising three children, working multiple jobs, trying to make the money stretch, and more recently dealing with cancer and their own parents' failing health--they learned to work together and support each other, and they make a great team.

They created a family and a lot of happy memories. And they are very much loved by their kids, kids-in-law, and grandkids.

Hope you guys find some time to remember and celebrate this weekend! Congrats and lots of love to you both!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Anne's birthday.

When I was ten or eleven, I came across a copy of The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank somewhere, and read it eagerly. I don't think I knew much about World War II or the Holocaust at that age--the story of Anne's family hiding away in a secret hiding place seemed more like an exciting adventure to me at that age.

I'll never forget the feeling I had when I reached the end of the book and read the little afterword, which said very simply that the family was caught in August 1944, and that Anne had died in Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in 1945--just a few weeks before it was liberated.
It felt like I'd been punched in the chest and had to catch my breath.

I felt like I'd lost a friend. I still feel that way. I've re-read Anne's diary several times since then, and more recently read the revised critical edition which contains bits and pieces her father omitted from the original. Reading it as an adult, I was struck by her amazing writing skill and the places her thoughts ranged to, as she sat in that tiny nest of rooms trying to be quiet all day long, day after day. What seemed like an adventure to my child's mind, I now understood as the nightmare it really was.

Today would be Anne's 80th birthday, if she had survived the war years and all the years since then. But instead she died at age 15. What a tremendous life she could have had. But she did something tremendous with the life she was given, and I'm grateful for that. After reading her diary, I developed an interest in the war, the Holocaust, and Judaism that is still part of my life today. Her words started it all, and they are such a gift.

Thursday, June 11, 2009


Just a few little garden pictures. Look at this mutant Siamese-twin daisy!

One of the few items the previous owners did not pluck out of the ground while they lived here were a bunch of calla lily tubers. (Are they bulbs or are they tubers?) In the previous owners' defense, the tubers were buried in the ground and thus invisible. I'm sure if they had known they were there, they'd have pulled them out, as part of their program of total plant eradication.

So them we moved in and started digging to put in shrubs, and the bulbs/tubers just kind of got scattered everywhere. So they're always coming up in odd places.

This gorgeous cream lily sprouted in the middle of my big lavender plant.

And this pink one came up in the middle of a candytuft plant.

Kind of Georgia O'Keeffe-ish, no?

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Life at our house.

Things are going better here this week...Todd's still walking funny, but feeling quite a bit better. Unfortunately, walking funny made him throw his back out on Saturday, so he had an extra dose of pain and misery to help him take his mind off the pain and misery that was already going on downstairs. It was truly sad. But he's doing much better now.

I have been in a vile mood for a couple of weeks--I was blaming it on hormones, but that time of the month has come and gone and I'm still vile, so I don't know what to blame it on now. Every so often, it comes crashing down on me that my life isn't at all what I want it to be, but I don't know how to make it what I want it to be--and I'm not even totally sure what exactly I do want it to be. Which makes for a vile mood.

I've been listening to Garrison Keillor read his book Pontoon on my mp3 player, and that has cheered me up a little bit, which is weird, since the book is pretty much all about death and having your life turn out not at all the way you thought it would. But he hits all those themes with a light touch, and I find myself chuckling out loud as I walk at the park or weed the flowerbeds. Oh yes, I discovered that listening to a book makes the weeding go MUCH faster. I weeded for three solid hours on Sunday and never gave it a thought. I am slow, as ever, to grasp the benefits of technology.

As of today, I've lost twelve pounds, which is a drop in the bucket but still encouraging. I'm very loosely following a diet plan in a book on controlling your blood sugar, and I'm not having nearly as many late-afternoon sugar crashes, which is excellent.

I'm working on the weight-loss in part because of the blood sugar thing, and also because I was approved for breast-reduction surgery in late July, and I'd like to get some weight off beforehand. Too bad I can't get them to carve off half my stomach while they're chopping things down to size, but the insurance company probably wouldn't go for that. So I've got to try and whittle it down by my own efforts.

I thought all the increased exercise would kick up my endorphins and improve my mood, but that hasn't happened yet. But if I can't feel good, I can at least try to look good. Oh, and be healthier, too, of course.

I'll try and perk myself up and come on back with something more interesting next time, promise.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Rough week.

My poor sweetie, what a week he's had. Tuesday he had a lipoma (fatty tumor) removed from his right arm, which involved needles (six of them? eight of them? every time he mentions it, there are more needles in the story) being jabbed into his arm. (He's had the lipoma for years-- it's not serious, it was just in an inconvenient spot.)

On Wednesday, an insurance company nurse came to do a physical and take some blood, which involved another needle in his arm.

And Friday morning, he went in for the old "snip-snip," you know, the one that when you mention it, every guy within ten miles crosses his legs reflexively...and of course, more needles were involved, and not in the arm region this time.

Todd hates needles, hates 'em, hates 'em. I think he's glad this week is over with. I think he'll be even gladder when he can walk non-bowlegged, and put the frozen peas away for good. I took this picture of him when he was unconscious from the Vicodin...he'll probably be mad, but he's just so darn cute.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Onward and upward.

On Sunday, Todd made plans to play 18 holes of golf in Williamsburg with his boss and a couple of co-workers, so I went along and dropped him off at the ritzy country club golf course, and took myself off to the antique mall.

The Williamsburg antique mall is a hit-or-miss affair--I have walked out of there with treasures before, but not often, and not cheaply. This time I found something lovely AND cheap at one of the used-book vendors' booths.

The title caught my eye, but so did the author's name, because I was pretty sure she was E. B. White's wife, which she was.

I can't overstate how much I love and admire E. B. White. If he'd only ever written Charlotte's Web, that would be reason enough to adore him, but he also spent many decades writing short essays for The New Yorker, and I have two of the published collections of these, which I dip into every now and then for a breath of sanity, humanity and perfect prose.

Katharine, his wife, is a shadowy figure in the background of many of his short pieces, but in this book we get to hear her own voice. She was an editor at The New Yorker for years, and wrote fourteen garden pieces for the magazine, which her husband collected and published in this book after her death.

He wrote the foreword for the book, describing Katharine's love for gardening even at the end of her life, and the final paragraph is typical of his careful but powerful style:

As the years went by and age overtook her, there was something comical yet touching in her bedraggled appearance on this awesome occasion [the arrival of new spring bulbs to plant]--the small, hunched-over figure, her studied absorption in the implausible notion that there would be yet another spring, oblivious to the ending of her own days, which she knew perfectly well was near at hand, sitting there with her detailed chart under those dark skies in the dying October, calmly plotting the resurrection.

I flipped through the book, curious to hear what Katharine's writing voice sounded like, and wasn't terribly surprised to be totally charmed by this random paragraph:

I have read somewhere that no Japanese child will instinctively pick a flower, not even a very young child attracted by its bright color, because the sacredness of flowers is so deeply imbued in the culture of Japan that its children understand the blossoms are there to look at, not to pluck. Be that as it may, my observation is that Occidental children do have this instinctive desire, and I feel certain that almost every American must have a favorite childhood memory of picking flowers--dandelions on a lawn, perhaps, or daisies and buttercups in a meadow, trailing arbutus on a cold New England hillside in spring, a bunch of sweet peas in a hot July garden after admonishments from an adult to cut the stems long, or, when one had reached the age of discretion and could be trusted to choose the right rose and cut its stem correctly, a rosebud for the breakfast table.

Does anyone write that well any more? Seriously? We've lost the formal tone that used to mark professional writers in magazines and newspapers, and now we're all communicating at blogger level, which is fine for us common schmoes out here, but I miss the days when reporters and writers had--the only word I can think of is "gravitas." Like Walter Cronkite, who is always the person I think of when I hear the word "gravitas."

They chose their words carefully and you felt you could trust what they said because they'd worked hard on it, re-worked it, thought about the best words that would say exactly what they meant. Now everybody's just trying to fill cable TV space, Internet space and newspaper/magazine space (for however much longer those will be around) with words, any words, no matter how stupid, obvious, ignorant or hateful.

However, that's a rant for another day. I'm looking forward to sampling this pretty book with the foxed pages and finding out why Katharine loved to garden and how she felt about garden catalogs and lawns and different kinds of roses. The paragraph I quoted above made me smile, because a sizable percentage of the photos of me in the first four or five years of my life feature me clutching flowers in my little hand or poking through the flower garden in search of something to pick. Which I do not think endeared me to my grandfather, whose garden I believe it was, but flowers still make me very happy.

I love the title of the book, too, it's so hopeful. I know I've mentioned before my love/hate relationship with gardening, and my constant search for confidence and some sort of zen attitude toward the whole thing. Time moves onward, the plants--and weeds--grow upward. I've started to glimpse the lessons in this process, but it still eludes me most of the time.