10.11.15 Ministerial Muses

Posted October 11th, 2015 by anna and filed in "Real. Authentic. Florida.", Manatee County, FL, Mid-Town Manatee?, Ministerial Muses
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I’m back in New York after almost three months in Florida. My stay in Bradenton was grueling this time and extended a month because of the emergency conditions. We had serious rainfall, not as bad as South Carolina, but after a decade or more of drought conditions, the downpours were a shock. My yard was under water for about a third of the time I was there. An old roof leak opened up and part of my ceiling collapsed and I was up two nights emptying buckets down the sink to keep the water at bay. Trying to find and stop a roof leak is a great spiritual exercise. Water is an adversary that is quietly and consistently pervasive, nearly imperceptible, and unrelenting. My world became very small and immediate indeed. The point of the lesson I believe.

Then there was the pit bull attack. Yes, the little pit bull that tried to kill me in May was back in my yard, much more aggressive than the last time, and accompanied by his sidekick chihuahua who was barking nonstop at his heels as he came at me again and again.

I was swinging my shovel back and forth as fast as I could, trying to keep him at bay while I screamed “Help me!” at the top of my lungs. It seemed to go on for hours but was probably only a minute or two in duration. Then someone called to him from the house on the corner and he and his sidekick left as quickly as they arrived. Because I wasn’t able to get a photograph of him while he was attacking me, no ticket was issued by Animal Services. When I asked if the two previous tickets that were issued had been served, the Animal Services Officer couldn’t verify that they had been. Fortunately, the deputy who arrived in response to my call to the Manatee Sheriff’s Office, while he didn’t have legal grounds to file an official complaint, managed the situation in a way that finally stopped the owners of these vicious dogs from letting them run loose for the duration of my stay in Bradenton.

Now, I‘m back in New York and the grueling stress is mental rather than physical. I have publishing deadlines to meet, and after telling publicists that review copies that they send to me would be safe with my doormen, it turns out that they weren’t. They have disappeared from the building’s front desk and the post office is still trying to track them down.

I keep reminding myself to ask, “What is the lesson I am supposed to be learning here?” In the meantime, while I’m figuring it out, I’d give my kingdom for a good night’s sleep! Can anybody out there relate?

The time of balancing and testing is over. If you have done the work, you will be amazed at how quickly your world returns to normal. Don’t look back. Keep moving forward and trust that your newly formed skills and the forces of the universe will carry you to safe ground and beyond.

Garden e-Diary 9.19.15

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Both yards were still under water yesterday. We had more rain Thursday than I realized.

The four-foot deep trench I dug along the west side the property to try and keep the carport from flooding is still full of water this morning.

Yesterday there was water on both sides of the driveways on both properties. Progress on my landscape project once again was delayed.

I am digging a trench across both yards to make a place for all this water to go. When it’s not flooding it will be a dry creek bed running along my curved pathway. Last week the weed growth became an issue so I had to stop work on the trench and focus on appearance rather than infrastructure. Still, I think the work I’ve gotten done to date made a difference. The driveway on the west property was not under water for 2 – 3 days as it was the last three times we had heavy rainfall.

As usual,the fairies cheered me on. These lilies were a blaze of color across the front beds three months ago. Last week, two of them popped up unexpectedly to let me know the nature spirits were happy with my progress in their yard.

Garden e-Diary 9.17.15

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My yard is under water — AGAIN!!!

And so is the road out front…

I was out in the yard and working by 9:00 am this morning. It was already drizzling slightly but I kept at it until 11:00 am when it became a steady downpour and pools of water began to collect in the yard. My shoes were damp but I didn’t want them to become completely soaked.

I’m working on the edges of the driveways on both properties since those are the areas that are most visible from the street. During the recent serious flooding, I worked in the raised beds across the front of the yards because that was dry land. The weeds still grew faster than I could deal with them but I did get large sections cleared and looking spiffy. Summers in Florida aren’t easy.

The Mango Bed was in really good shape a few weeks ago.

Then I turned my back on it and this is what happened.

The battle is never ending!
Stamina is required.
Courage in the face of unrelenting whittling-away-at.
Just when I think I can’t go on anymore, the fairies send me a present from the nature world.

Okay. I’ll give it one more day.

Garden e-Diary 9.16.15

Posted September 16th, 2015 by anna and filed in "Real. Authentic. Florida.", Garden e-Diary, Manatee County, FL, Mid-Town Manatee?
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Between flooding in my yard, drug dealer harassment, and a friend who almost died, I’m struggling to keep myself together. (Not whining, just reporting.)

The yard has flooded three times now. I kept hoping that it would drown the weeds but, to the contrary, it kept me away from them for the better part of a week each time while they grew faster and faster.

The good news is that no more dead animals have been left in my yard. The bad news is that someone (?!) called Code Enforcement and told them that I was building along the back of the property without a permit. What I was doing on the back of the property was digging my bougainvilla out from under the potato vines that grew over the fence from the overgrown vacant lot behind me.

But that’s a never-ending tale. Let me tell you the more interesting saga of the The Little Bougainvilla Who Could.

I planted him, front and center on the property line, to try and mask the mess across the street. This is what he looked like in November 2012.

I kept asking him to grow thick and tall, along with the oleanders on each side of him, to give me something beautiful to look out on. This is what he looked like in April 2013.

Even when the oleander to his east was killed with used transmission fluid, he kept his will to live.

When I left in May, this is what he looked like.

When I returned in July, this was his appearance.

He seems to have thrived on our recent flooding rains, even though bougainvillea traditionally don’t like to have “wet feet”.

Finally! He got big enough to mask the tow truck parked across the street.

The tow truck quickly retaliated.


Garden e-Diary 8.22.15

Posted August 22nd, 2015 by anna and filed in "Real. Authentic. Florida.", Garden e-Diary, Manatee County, FL, Mid-Town Manatee?
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The Saga Continues.

As I told you a few weeks ago, the weeds took over while I was out of town. I worked, like a crazy person, to get them under control as soon as I got back to town. Let me recap.

This is what the east end of the Front Garden Bed looked like at the end of February.

This is what it looked like when I left town at the end of May.

This is what it looked liked after I got back to town and started seriously attacking the overgrowth.

THEN, I went out one morning with my coffee to walk around the yard and the neighbor started waving at me and yelling, “There’s a dead dog in your yard!”

I walked over to look where she was pointing and went into shock. It wasn’t a stray that got sick and wandered into my yard and died. It was a young dog that had clearly been killed, then wrapped in plastic, put on a piece of plywood, covered with branches, then dumped in my yard.

I called the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office. A deputy arrived minutes later. He took one look at me as we stood next to the dead dog and suggested that we go somewhere else to talk. I was shaking and irrational. He called Animal Services and within the half hour a very nice man was there to handle removing the dog and determining what had caused its death. The deputy filed a complaint and gave me a victim’s rights brochure with the case number on it. I began to realize that this was something that had been done to me as well as to the dog. I could barely breathe.

I tried very hard to ignore the ritualistic aspects of the occurrence. For the first few nights, I had nightmares about the horse head in the bed scene from The Godfather. Then I began to have nightmares about scenes from Rosemary’s Baby.

Before I left town in May I had filed a complaint about being attacked by a pit bull that was allowed to run loose in the neighborhood. It’s been an ongoing problem.

The dog was still running loose the day I left town. As angry as I was that Animal Services continued to fail to stop these vicious animals from running loose in the neighborhood, I was stunned that someone would kill a dog and dump it in someone’s yard to make the point that they could treat animals any way they wanted to and nobody could stop them from doing it.

It was a week before I could make myself go back into the yard next door. By then the weeds had had a field day. Now I started having nightmares of Code Enforcement having me arrested for having too many weeds in my yard. I got an email from New York that said “Come home now. Get out of there!” I emailed back that I was okay. The reply that came said, “Get on a plane and get out of there now!”

Garden e-Diary 7.29.15

Posted July 29th, 2015 by anna and filed in "Real. Authentic. Florida.", Garden e-Diary, Manatee County, FL, Mid-Town Manatee?
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Once again, the weeds in the front yard took preference over the Goddess Garden e-Diary. I’m taking advantage of a heavy rain day to start to get you caught up.

I’m putting a large pathway across the front yards of both properties and banking up to make flower beds along it. I sprayed the yard with a weed killer before I left town thinking that it would keep the unfinished landscape project under control until I got back. It didn’t. I was appalled by the mess in the yard when I arrived and started pulling weeds as soon as I could get changed into work clothes.

I’m making slow but steady progress—but let me start with yesterday’s project. The Mango Bed at the Front Jasmine Gate. This is what it looked like when I left town in May.

It was in pretty good shape when I got back to town, but after two weeks of rain the weeds had started to take over.

I spent the morning digging in the yard next door (more about that later). After a heavy rain shower, I got to work pulling weeds in the Mango Bedand this was the result.

Next I set about removing the broken trellis limb. I put branches into the cement block openings around the garden to serve as support for plants while they were getting started. It worked well for several years, then the last time I was in town, they started to mysteriously break off. Almost every morning, I found another one had broken along the front of the property (none of the branches inside the property suffered the same fate.) Most of the branches were still in fairly solid shape, not rotted off but clearly snapped off with some force. I removed most of them. The one at the Front Jasmine Gate didn’t get taken down before I left town. I carefully cut it loose from the Jasmine twines and the Mango Bed was back in shape and ready for the last growth spurt of the summer!

Garden e-Diary 5.19.15

I worked in the front bed until dark last night. It’s suddenly become very gratifying. Mr. Beyers’ lilies are blooming their little hearts out. I can sense the smaller faeries dancing ‘round them as I work.

This morning I was out and working by 8:00 am. I went back to the central elevated bed in the side yard of the second property. I plan to have a raised bed within the circle of the utilities easement, perhaps with a central sitting area surrounded by plants and small trees. It’s a lot of work, but I’m making progress, one day at a time.

The front bed is finally beginning to look like the vision I had when I began it. With a little luck, and decent rainfall, it should fill out this summer and begin to be the lush bank of foliage that I see in my mind’s eye.

I’m stopping for lunch now. Then a quick trip to Home Depot. And then back to work. I’ll keep you posted!

Ministerial Muses—Garden e-Diary 5.17.15

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Let me try and get you caught up with the Goddess Garden. I’ll start with the front bed.

I’ve been desperately trying to get the bed across the front of both properties banked up and planted so that it makes a buffer against the noise and mess across the street. Nature, however, is a formidable adversary and the weeds grow faster than I can pull them out. Still, I keep trying.

Last November I started rounded off the East end of the bed. It’s the most visible from the road and from my neighbors house.

In February I continued with that section, banking up on the outer side of the cement block edging. I transplanted several sprouts from the firecracker plants in the center of the bed, along with wedelia shoots.

Only one of the firecracker sprouts survived while I was north, but the wedelia is making a good start creating ground cover.

I’m slowly making progress getting it all cleaned up. It’s been a challenge because it’s been unusually hot for this time of year, and because the neighbors pit bull has been running loose and almost mauled me one afternoon. Fortunately, I had a shovel with me at the time and managed to fend him off, but it left me really shaken. Who knew gardening could be so dangerous!

I’ve continued banking up the backside of the bed and I’ve added several more firecracker shoots, a small palm tree, and an orange tree that started from a seed under my Valencia tree on the back of the property. The oranges will be bitter, but I’ll use them in cooking, and it will be a pretty tree.

The lilies I got from Mr. Beyers before he moved away are providing quite a show, and along with the hibiscus blooms, the firecracker red, and the splash of purple, the front of the bed is delightful to work with right now. It’s incentive to keep working.

Emotional swings may occur this week. There is lots of confused energy and some of it is causing turmoil. Know that most of your uncomfortable feelings will be about what is going on around you and not internal. Still the discomfort will point to unfinished business in our psyches. Sorting through it will be valuable even if it’s not what you want to be doing right now.

Garden e-Diary 5.14.15

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Garden e-Diary 5.14.15

FINALLY, I’m getting back to the Goddess Garden saga. It’s been a bit of a wild ride here in Manatee County, but more about that later.

When I got back to town in January, I discovered that one of the oleanders in the front beds had died.

Upon examination, I discovered two empty bottles of marine transmission fluid beside the dead plant. I assumed that the neighborhood criminals had killed it and left me a message so that I would be sure to know that they did it on purpose. It was winter. I left the plant as it was, hoping that in the spring it would send up new shoots from the roots. It didn’t.

The universe has sent me an opportunity to redesign the front beds. Hopefully the beautiful bougainvillea in between the oleanders will be left alone and I can come up with a creative solution for the octagons on each side of it.

As usual, the weeds have thrived while I was gone, despite a rather severe drought. I have been busy trying to get things back under control, which is why you haven’t heard from me until now.

Stay tuned, more updates, including Faerie Encounters™ coming soon.

Ministerial Muses—Garden e-Diary 11.30.14

I haven’t updated you on the Mango Bed at the front of the driveway. When I got back to Bradenton in October, the grass had made another substantial takeover attempt.

The good news was that the Creeping Peanut I planted (to block the growth of grass and weeds) is finally making substantial progress also.

I started dealing with the grass invasion the first few days after I got back and continued in between my digging and banking up the front bed.

Then I started added lemongrass trimmings as mulch to block weeds and protect the plants and the little mango tree from potential freezes.

The asparagus fern was looking a little yellow when I first got back and I wasn’t sure what the problem was.

After a few good rains it perked up, nice and green again.

The faeries were happy with the progress that I made. Of course, it wasn’t even half of what I hoped to get done, so I appreciated their support.

I’m hoping that the cooler weather and shorter days will slow down regrowth of weeds while I’m out of town so that I can focus on forward progress when I get back. I’ll miss the faeries and my firepit and the butterflies and birds — and of course my flowers!

This is a week of resolution. Life will become less chaotic. The road ahead will be made clear. If you have faced recent challenges with your eyes open, you will realize that you have gained much because of your efforts. Move forward with a glad heart and an open mind.