Tuesday, April 19, 2011

How does my garden grow?

Good question.  Does anyone know the answer?  I sure don't.  Yes, my name is Mary and Yes, I can be quite contrary.  However, the similarities to the nursery rhyme end there.  With that as a reference, I could load up on silver bells and cockel shells, but how exactly does that help my garden?  May I add, the only pretty maid I have is my 9 year-old daughter Kasey...and she knows less about gardens than I do. 

Garden in current state

Does not even look like a garden I know.  This is how it looked last week.

Garden before
 There were 7 azalea and rhododendron bushes.  They had an insect called scales that lay cottony egg sacks and deposited black soot-like waste, slowly chocking the life out of the plants.  To be honest, I am happy to see them gone.  I'm not a fan of azaleas.  Every house I have lived in, someone had planted azaleas and rhododendrons as the most prominent garden feature.  Neglectful previous owners allowed them to become overgrown monsters.

To compound the insect infestation and my dislike of azaleas, New Jersey had a rough year weather-wise.  An extremely dry, hot summer was followed by a freezing cold, stormy winter, wreaking havoc on yards from High Point down to Cape May.

The effects in my own neighborhood can be seen as I walk my dog each day.  

A once proud arborvitae

The final obstacle hindering my garden is New Jersey itself.  That is, the red clay soil that makes up Central New Jersey. 

The soil is densely packed with poor drainage.  How can you plant anything is this stuff?  Perhaps I'd do better at gardening if I quit it completely, bought a kiln and took up pottery. 

Terracotta anyone?

Standing water is a big issue

So how did New Jersey get the nick-name of "The Garden State" anyway?  

Somebody must have figured it out.  So that's what I am attempting to do. 

Did you want to help me on my quest of conquering the clay?  Do you have any hint to help me manage a beautiful garden?

Can you answer me this....How does your garden grow?

If you would like to see what a real garden should look like, check out my friend Carla's Virtual Garden Party.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

What Happens in Vegas Part 2: See the Sign

I wanted to see the Las Vegas sign.  My sister successfully talked me out of seeing the sign on a previous trip.  She overemphasized the long walk along the highway...in the middle of nowhere....in the hot desert sun.  I reluctantly give in with my typical, "Alright, if you say so."  

I regretted not making the effort.

This time Dan was game.  We set off to see the sign.  Problem...neither one of us knew for sure where it was.  We managed to get vague directions of "Middle of the highway past Mandalay Bay." Sounded good enough for me.

We got off the bus in front of the Luxor with smiles on our faces. I mentioned hearing about a really nice aquarium as we passed Mandalay Bay.

Dan's response:  "Where is the sign again?"

"I don't know.... Middle of the highway past Mandalay Bay."

We watched helicopters lifting off across the highway.  I asked Dan if he would like to tour the Grand Canyon by helicopter someday.

Dan's response:  "Where is the sign again?"

"I don't know.... Middle of the highway past Mandalay Bay."

At the point where the extravagance of the Las Vegas strip dwindles down to nothing more than the airport on one side, a desolate golf club covering miles on the other, and the exact spot where Dan's patience wares out....

He asked again, ..."Where is the sign?"

"I don't know.... Middle of the highway past Mandalay Bay,"  I whined pathetically.

"How far past Mandalay Bay?"

"I don't know."  I threw my hands up, "Miles, maybe..."

I could see a sign that I might be in the middle of the highway past Mandalay Bay.

A somewhat heated discussion ensued.  Continue or return? 

Ironically, I didn't want to see the sign anymore.  He pointed out how I insisted on seeing it.  I overemphasized the long walk along the highway...in the middle of nowhere....in the hot desert sun.  Dan was determined now.  I managed to drag him this far.  He would drag me the rest of the way.  He gave me his hat, took my hand, and we walked a few hundred yards in silence.

Then it happened. 

Have you ever watched a movie of people lost in the desert?  One where a person walks endlessly over sand dunes in the grueling sun to get instantly overjoyed to come upon a mirage?  That is exactly what it was like.  We saw the sign up ahead in the distance.  Not only that, we saw Elvis.  He was dressed in full 70's garb posing for pictures with happy tourists. 

We did it!  Mission accomplished.  We saw the sign and it was awesome.

I looked past the "Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas" to see Mandalay Bay.  It wasn't that far.  We got aggravated over nothing.

I saw the sign Sis, so there!  *sicks out tounge*

Next time you're in Vegas...SEE THE SIGN.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

What happens in Vegas Part 1: What happens before Vegas

My husband Dan goes to Las Vegas every couple years to attend a trade show.  For years I have been begging to tag along.  This year, out of the blue, he tells me I can go.  He had to cash in some frequent flyer miles and arrange a couple extra nights stay in the casino, but as long as I could get my mom to babysit, I was going to Vegas.

Mom said she could watch them...no problem.  She was watching my brother’s kids the week before, but they would be home in plenty of time.

My mom...I love her, but she is quite a character.  She is just naturally goofy.  (Obviously, like mother, like daughter.)  She will get all keyed up over small things.  Once she called me 4 times in one day asking if I sent a friend a thank you note. 

However, when something truly serious happens, she will act like it’s nothing.  Case and point....five days before leaving for my trip, I get the following call from my mother:

“Did you hear the news?” she says in a light breezy tone, “Brody (my nephew) drove his 4-wheel ATV into a tree, broke both arms and deeply cut his face.  Not to worry....He’ll be fine.    And...while I’m thinking about it...can you get a document allowing me to give consent for emergency medical treatment to your kids?  Brody screamed in agony for hours in the emergency room.  That stupid hospital refused to do anything until I could get your brother on the phone.” 

My next thoughts were frightening.  I imagined being interrupted during a show in Vegas by a light breezy phone call from my mother:

“Did you hear the news?  Chris (my son) did a swan dive off the roof of the house.  He’s in a coma, but besides that, everything’s fine.  Oh...by the way...while I have you on the phone...Does he have a living will?”

Anyways, my brother and sister-in-law came home from Florida.  Brody is adjusting to life without arms for the time being.  My mom came up to my house a couple days early.  Perhaps she felt the need to be out of town for a bit. 

Preparing to leave, I noticed Mom touch her cheek and wince while walking through Costco the day before my flight.   She stopped in the medicine aisle to pick up the largest bottle of Advil I had ever seen. 

“Are you expecting my kids to give you that big of a headache?” I joked.

“My tooth hurts.  It’s been bothering me for couple weeks now.”

I asked why she didn't call her dentist, which lead into the long explanation of how she hasn't been to a dentist in over 4 years.  Her long-time dentist was in his 90's and retired.  His replacement was rude to her during her last visit.  (I would tell you how rude, but Mom was using all the words she had always told me not to say.) She simply decided to quit going.

My dentist was able to see her right away.  Turns out, she had a fractured tooth and the only option was to pull it.  As she sat in the chair in pain, I texted my sister, using all the words I’m not allowed to say.  The text read something like “HOLY @$#%^@!&*%$#?”

My sister gave up her weekend so I wouldn't have to give up mine.  She babysat Mom while Mom babysat the kids. 

Hell...They had a party.  I called from the airport to let them know Dan and I arrived safely.  Nobody cared.  They were all to busy eating pizza and calzones.

Thanks Sis!