December 31, 2016

Hard to keep a good man down . . .

The good news is Philip doesn't need surgery on his foot . . . the bad news is he's in a cast for at least 12 more weeks.  He's already racking his brain as to how to wrap/protect his cast while on a 36 hour fishing trip scheduled in January for him and Jr.  The man is crazy.  Prior to us learning he had two broken bones, he kept trying to convince me he was up for a hike.  I'm like "Babe, your foot is swollen and you're limping . . . I'm not taking you hiking!". But that's Philip.  He knew I wanted to explore some trails this holiday break and he was willing to walk in pain to make that happen.  Actually he did ~ as we took a trip to a new trail in Fort Meade the first week we were off . . . but it was such a disappointment (liter every where) that we only spent a half hour on the trail.  Plus I knew then that he was pushing through some pain to walk and I'm not that mean (usually).  ;-)

Philip is damn near perfect . . . which in and of itself can be pretty annoying (I am so very flawed).  But what can you do?  He's suppose to rest his foot as much as possible, but what is he doing?  Woodworking.

I needed a little table to go beside the couch that would allow me to put the lamp I wanted on it without said lamp interfering with a cool "bookshop" piece I have hanging above (found that cool piece at Goodwill!).  Philip had the table ready in two days.  That is an oak table made from local trees.  

After the table, Philip asked me if I wanted him to make a couple of bird houses with scrap cedar wood (from Charlie's, aka Jr.'s, table).  Well of course I did!  I thought that was a fish hanging out front (photo above), but Philip said it's an arrow showing the birds the way to the entrance . . . which is covered in wire since rats like our bird houses more than the birds.  LOL

I mean if he insists on being on his feet . . . by all means, make "me" something.  😀 Even as I type this post, he's in his workshop.  Of course Santa did bring him a new table saw and planer.  Hey, Mrs. Hart is no dummy . . . I don't care what they say.

And here is where I'm typing.  💓  The bird room (back patio) is the best room in the house.  Santa brought me a new laptop and blogging while the birds are singing (and are they ever singing!) is pretty sweet.  

I'm going to close this post with a few photos of my Bones.  We have 4 beautiful dogs - each with their own distinctive personalities, but Bones ~ from nearly day one ~ stole my heart.  She's my buddy, my best friend (shhh - don't tell Philip).  And she is as goofy as the day is long.  The only thing she ever chases is lizards . . .

. . . and she always needs help catching them ~  (notice Nikki on the far right of the photo? Now Nikki can catch anything!  She brings us rats, snakes, etc. . . . she's a 3 legged beast!).

But Bones ~ my precious, sweet, loving, not too bright Bones  - she may be slow, but my word do I love that dog.  Once you let an animal into your heart . . . you are never the same.  And that's a good thing.

Well, it's time to drag Philip out of his workshop.  We have an exciting New Year's Eve planned . . .  beer and wine by the fire pit (and the rest of his "fine" cigar) and burgers on the grill . . . I'll be out by 9 PM ~ out and blessed.  

Here's hoping 2017 is a healthy and happy new year!!!!

December 29, 2016

An EXTREMELY rare sighting in my garden ~

He doesn't drink or smoke . . . and to find him sitting during daylight hours is beyond rare . . . but let him break his foot in two places and all hell breaks lose.  A beer and a fine cigar ~ if you ask me, he certainly deserves both.

We had a three week vacation this holiday that was to consist of a lot of hiking and local trail exploring.  Needless to say we haven't ventured far beyond the garden.

Queen's Wreath in full bloom
And the garden has been more than accommodating with the plants a bit confused with our very warm fall.  Hummingbirds visit often (two through out the day today) . . .

Tabebuia trees in bloom
. . . and blooms have stared early.  The tabebuia trees are most brilliant and the blooms remind me why I put up with the crazy seeds each spring.  I bet I pull a hundred or more seedlings up through out the garden each year.


Philip and I have reached the stage in life where every Christmas we find ourselves saying "Can you believe another year has gone by?".    I so love the holidays and all the decorating that starts the day after Thanksgiving  ~ broken foot or not.

Our entire little home is transformed . . . 

. . . and the effect is always one of coziness to me.

We've had our challenges this holiday season - more than just broken bones.  But we know we are blessed . . . and have so much to be thankful for.  Every morning Philip sits in my garden and says "Babe, this is beautiful."  And I feel the same way.  Challenges or not, life is good.

December 22, 2016

Mother Nature has a way . . .

It's been a couple of years since I've done any veggie gardening . . . using that part of my yard as the "gated butterfly garden" where I grew plants that our girls loved to eat but were toxic to them (lantana topping that list).  I was pretty committed to being a veggie gardener drop-out ~ but then this happened:

TJ, LT, and Jen
"This" being our local Holly Jolly Jingle Bell Race.  This is a City sponsored race and since Philip works for the City, we usually volunteer to help each year.  However, this year Jen and TJ were running in the race so I was excused from volunteer duty in order to hang out with the cutest little boy ever - LT.  Now I'm not one to hang around and socialize - ever.  But since our Jen placed third in her age group (GO JEN!), she won a medal . . . which meant hanging around for the awards.  And by hanging around, Jen noticed the City was giving away free vegetable plants.  I'm not talking itty bitty scragglers . . . I'm talking beautiful plants in 4" pots ~ green and purple cabbage, several types of kale, basil, lettuce, etc.  Not only were they giving them away, but they were being very, very generous - and they had hundreds of plants.  Before all was said and done, our little group had acquired a dozen plants.  :-)  Now I know this may be more City of Lakeland (best City ever) than Mother Nature, but either way it was pretty cool.  I mean really ~ who would expect free veggie plants at a local 5K race?

And so it begins . . . again.

I had a compost container busting at the seams with beautiful, rich compost.  So the first thing I did was prepare a couple of beds with fresh soil.

Then of course I had to buy some broccoli plants.  :-)  I could eat this every day ~ fresh, steamed . . . any way.

I credit those free plants at the race for sparking my winter garden, but Mother Nature was working her plans right here in my wildlife garden too.  Nearly every room in the garden has a volunteer native Everglades tomato plant growing - some places there are dozens of them.  I even have them growing in my grass in the front yard (have no idea how they got out there - birds?).  This is the only tomato plant I've ever been able to grow successfully without any pesticides.  And how can I turn my back on veggie gardening when Mother Nature is making it so easy for me?  ;-)

This is my herb bed and it too has 3 or 4 tomato plants growing - and even tiny they are full of little tomatoes and lots of buds.  I've grown these in the past where they thrived all winter . . . tough little boogers.

I forgot how good it feels walking through my little gate to check on my veggies.  That Holly Jolly Jingle Bell race was a blessing.

Our warm fall was a blessing too.  A little dry, but boy did I appreciate the lack of cold days.

Every morning I walk the pathways . . . 

. . . and take a moment or two to give thanks.

I am so grateful that something led me down this pathway to gardening - something and someone (my Mom).  It is a major part of my life and I couldn't imagine what I'd do without it.

The wildlife and the blooms bring me such joy.  

Even to this day the sight of a hummer will stop me in my tracks.  Twice this week a hummer flew right up to my swing (just two feet away from me) to feed on the Bolivian Sunset plant.  Both times I was writing in my journal and he didn't seem to care a bit that I was there.  Would have made for a beautiful picture, but sometimes it's best to just be present in the moment . . .

. . . present and thankful.

December 16, 2016

This man is amazing . . .

He goes from baking over 400 cookies for friends and co-workers . . .

. . . to finishing Charlie's handmade cedar table ~ and all in the same week!

When I call him my "better-half" there isn't a soul in the world that would argue the point.  He's pretty damn amazing.

December 5, 2016

The ever changing garden . . .

A year or so ago my entire garden was full and lush . . .  quite the jungle and I loved it.  Since that time, I've had to make some changes ~ most recently because I've been diagnosed with degenerative disc disease and am now limited to lifting no more than 20 pounds.  Can you imagine?!  I'm nearly 6' tall and never had any restrictions before . . . so being limited to just 20 pounds has really caused me to re-think my gardening practices.  But it's do-able and I'm loving my new open-style garden far more than I ever thought I would.  What's really cool now is when I sit on the back patio, I'm able to view my entire garden - room by room.  That was an unexpected bonus.  :-)

I was afraid when I began to simplify and make my garden more manageable that my wildlife activity would suffer.  What a relief to find that that is not the case.  I'm still seeing everything from snakes (three different kinds - ringneck, rat, and black racers) to hummingbirds on a daily basis.

. . . and of course butterflies.  

How great is it to live in Florida and have these beauties visit us all year round?!

What's not great is having  physical limitations at 48 years old . . . but this is my journey and so it goes.  I will say that my old dolly has become my best friend in the garden though!  :-)