Mom of 3000…

Mother’s Day is tomorrow. I honestly don’t pay too much attention to Hallmark holidays. This time last year we were in Japan. My daughter bought me flowers last night, and a small piece of my favorite cake, Tiramisu. That’s a holdover from my late husband, something we both loved… And she made these tiny arrangements out of a Lego knock-off that are lovely and will sit in my window in the kitchen. My son is half way across the world doing military duty. I wish he were home.

This has been a crazy few weeks. I wanted it that way. With my son away, and drama all around me, I wanted big projects to stay as busy as I can to focus on that which I cannot change.

Everything came together in the last week. Last Sunday my music group, Montclair Early Music had their spring concert. Called Myth and Magic, it celebrated the Renaissance, and fantasy, video games, and Harry Potter. I borrowed a dress that was more fantasy than Renaissance. So I can now cross that off my list of things to focus on.

I finished the cat appliqué quilt block number 4, and this one was really really hard. All that feathery cat fur was very challenging to appliqué.

I’m working on block 5, my goal is one a month and finish by the end of the year when I can give it to my mom. It was her project, quilt block of the month from Maggie Walker, purchased in the late 90’s. She asked me to make it for her since she is in her 90’s and her eyesight and arthritic fingers make it too difficult for her to work on. I found the endless stitching to be centering, soothing, and really really good for my mental health.

This past Thursday night, my retrospective at County College of Morris, in Morris County, NJ reopened. Though the magic of the first opening will never be matched, a number of my guild members came and we had the most lovely time, chatting, talking about weaving, and we met a new fellow weaver wearing an awesome handwoven scarf, which we were all over, and convinced him to join the guild. Which he did. Our numbers are growing…

Monday I give the keynote address to the Morris County Teen Arts Festival, and then that will be behind me. The exhibit will be open through the summer, now through August 22. Hours are M-F 9-6. There is hope that there will be Saturday hours, but a lot of people have to agree, including security, and they aren’t always on the same page.

Meanwhile, this week, my landscape designer, who has been here for more than a month, finished planting more than 3000 perennials, with a couple dozen bushes and trees, almost all native, and designed to attract pollinators, and bloom from early spring into late fall. I have so much to learn. But I’m starting with something.

My job is to keep everything alive for the next few weeks until root systems are established. A couple hours of watering a day will be required. I knew what I was getting into, but what I didn’t know, was how magical early mornings are, with robins, and butterflies, and bugs, and nature all doing its thing. I’ve never spent so much time outside. There is a robin that comes and finds me every morning. And a pair of cardinals that lurks nearby. And there is a painted lady butterfly that is checking out all the new plants. I’m learning each type of plant the designer put in. We went around today and labeled things so I’d be able to learn to recognize plants from their earliest spring sprouts through blooming, and dying back in the fall. The ponds continue to be a challenge, but they are full of happy fish.

The designer laid two palettes of gorgeous bluestone. Some of it is surrounded by grass, but the rest will eventually be buried in beds of phlox and violets. All those little plugs will fill in and there won’t be visible dirt to weed.

I’ve had well meaning friends wonder why I don’t just invest in sprinklers. Not only is that an indiscriminate waste of water, but what I water and how much depends on each plant and its location. And if it rained recently and how much. This is sort of like having a new baby, scant directions, developing new instincts, flying by the seat of your pants, because you have little idea of what you are doing. But I’m trying, and hoping to keep my 3000+ charges alive. And make sure the southern Magnolias and American Holly don’t get root rot.

And I’ve been clearing a decent size bed, between my property and the edge of the backyard next door, of bags full of Creeping Charlie. And other invasive nasties. I’m thinking this is where I want to put my dye garden. I just have to look up what to plant. I’m going shopping next week! In search of dye plants… And maybe start a watercolor gardening journal, there are some really beautiful things in my yard…

I’m doing what I love, learning something new. Discovering a new magical world. And I am willing to work hard to keep it all alive. We didn’t kill all the invasives, there are still a lot on my property. Mostly what’s left serves a purpose, privacy, screening, shade, beautiful fall color. Bit by bit, as the newly planted trees and bushes grow, I’ll be taking a lot more out. And I’m finding things I didn’t know I had, violets, fleabane, and some other cool things the landscape designer identified, but I’ve already forgotten. And yes, that is an Alaskan Weeping Cedar, and no it is not native to NJ, but as my landscape designer said, it is a really cool tree…

So Happy Mother’s Day to my mom, and everyone out there who cares for something, whether it be a child, a dog, a cat, goldfish in a pond, or a tree. There is something healing about caring for something outside yourself. It takes a village, it takes a planet.

Stay tuned…

Mother’s Day

I hadn’t planned on blogging today, I just wanted to curl up in bed, it has been a long weekend, but all the blogs I scrolled through tonight mentioned Mother’s Day and I just couldn’t let this day go by without a comment!

First, I’d like to think of this as a day to remember all of those who mentored you, who taught you something about life, who were there to bail you out when you needed it the most, and who let you fall and discover on your own what you were made of.  There have been a number of these  amazing women in my life, some were teachers, one was my mother in law, some were friends, one was my editor, and yes, of course, there was and still is my own mom, who I just adore, and owe so much of who I am to her.

And so I am a mother too.  My husband and I married, with the knowledge that most likely we wouldn’t be able to have children, I won’t go into all the sordid medical issues, largely involving DES, a drug given to pregnant women in the 50’s, but we weren’t marrying for reasons of procreation, (Bless me Father for I have sinned, I know what I told the priest who married us…) and we had a great life and a lot of fun for 12 years of marriage until one day in my mid 30’s, I found myself pregnant.  The doctors were sort of surprised, we were even more surprised, and so unceremoniously began my career as a mother.  Two children later, the rest is history as they say.  eric_bri

I will be really honest here and say that the baby years were not my favorite.  I had two hyperactive ADHD kids, and they kept me on my toes, and even to this day, their favorite past time with me is to have me recount all the stupid kid tricks they did as toddlers  (and actually not much has changed there, my son is 19 and still doing stupid kid tricks…)

But it was all worth it.  I adore my kids, as teens and young adults, they are really interesting people, with great minds, creative brains, serious ADD, and they keep me laughing and looking foward to whenever they are around.  This is one of my favorite photos of the two of them, my son on the left is three years older than his “little” sister on the right.  This was taken back in 1997.

So today, once I got back from church, dropped my daughter home to help my husband fell the birch tree, (we pulled into the driveway and he was standing there holding the ropes that would guide the tree down, waiting for someone to come home, poor man…) while I took off for Morristown to my recorder rehearsal.  (I play alto recorder for a consort).  When I returned, I went to change my clothes to my gardening attire, and pull my laundry from the washer, I do my things separately in cold water, gentle cycle, and mostly hang my clothes to dry.  To my complete horror, there was some serious laundry things happening in my laundry area (which is off the master bedroom ), my son decided that his basement lair needed a massive clean up, school was almost out and most of his friends would be returning from college and there would be some serious partying to do, so he kindly put all my clothes in the dryer, on a temperature that wasn’t good for my clothes, fortunately I only lost one sweater, actually two, but since the second one is one of my favorites, and brand new, I’m not ready yet to call it a loss, even though it is now two sizes too small….  Mother’s Day didn’t start out well.  Poor kid, he was only trying to help…

Anyway, my daughter gave me cards, chocolate, my son flowers, and a gift card from Bath and Body Works, of course in my son’s case, it was my credit card that paid for the gifts since he isn’t working at the moment.  But it was a sweet thought, and they both remembered, and made a big deal out of it, and the cards were pretty funny.  So my son cleaned his room.  That was an amazing Mother’s Day gift!

I spent the entire afternoon in the garden with my husband, planting the haul from yesterday’s blog.  We found the perfect locations for everything, including what will be an 80 ft. Sequoia, and the sun was warm, and the air fragrant, and the ponds gurgling, and the wildlife everywhere, life doesn’t get any better than this.  Chipmonks scampered, birds twittered and sang and flew all around the yard, a fat groundhog happily munched on the helicopter pods from the maple tree, and I plotted how to rid my yard of said fat groundhog so he would stop maurading my vegetable garden.  Not one pea plant managed to grow this year, he bit them right off.  I wish I knew how he managed to get into the fenced garden…

Anyway, dinner was courtesy of my free Stouffer’s Lasagna, which I get every Easter from my Shoprite instead of a ham.  I popped it in the oven, went back out to work, and it was ready to eat in two hours.  Add a salad and it was the perfect Mother’s Day dinner…  I did almost zero work on it!

So, tomorrow I get back to work.  I have to ship my gown to the Surface Design Fashion Show in Kansas City, and tackle the back log that seemed to propagate in the studio while I was playing in a workshop the end of last week…