Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Subliminal signals our gardens share with us

Transition is the buzzword for this time of the year. Back to school, end of summer clearance in most stores, I noticed the the Lowe's ear me has begun moving the remaining plant material to the front of the nursery yard and YES, I have seen Halloween items creeping into the stores.  Enough already, I am trying to grasp why there are leaves on the ground, crunchy, big brown leaves that cause me to look up and notice yellowing leaves hanging on the trees above.

I do not remember leaves in such abundance on the ground this time last year...but this has been a different kind of summer, following a very different kind of winter. I have noticed a few things this year in my garden as I walk through and wonder where in the world do I start.  I have had one too many projects in the garden this year, so actually planting for enjoyment and pausing to actually see the fruits of my labor - well, let's just say it was not in the cards.

All was not lost however, some of the plants in my garden are screaming look at me, I am still here and looking great just for you....perennials, plant material one can usually count on!

Sedum Autumn Joy and Brilliance are just pausing to start the color parade as the nights get cooler and days stay warm.....

Hosta Francis Williams.....she makes beauty effortless as she flanks the sidewalk leading to my porch...

Hosta "Patriot" along with his friends Heuchera " Molten Lava", Japanese Painted Fern and a touch of vinca minor soften the walkway leading to my "large project" in the rear (details to follow).  Each of these plants have survived yet another year of me not watering, compost in the Spring under a light dressing of mulch ad allowing Mother Nature to water when she felt like it.  

By watching and sometimes listening to the subliminal messages that our gardens share with us, we can plan for the next season. My next season is already here.  I am planning on using as much Heirloom Kale and Chard in my containers accented by seasonal annuals like Pansies and Johnny Jump Up's. I can make my fall/winter garden an edible delight!! I am ordering my garlic from a reliable resource, Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, where Ira Wallace is sure to send me the best garlic and shallots for my small garden.

Listen to your surroundings and your garden today.  Find out what it is sharing with you.  It might be telling you that you need more transitional color - before the mums start blooming.  It might be telling you that next year one more sowing of annual seeds for cutting is in order.  There are many things that our gardens share with us....but we have to unbusy ourselves and listen.......listen....and observe....... 

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Serene..... Silent Saturday

Elephants, Emotions and Realities

What a week it has been for anyone who listens to the news....actually if you listened to the radio or simple conversations, you knew something was wrong in America..  Anyone who is concerned about current events in America, realized that there was an elephant in the room.  It got bigger and excited by mid week and now it has slowly been simmering ...waiting in the background to come and sit in the middle of the room again, sucking the life out of everyone and everything in it's reach.  With social media, it is reaching almost everyone..

The emotional reality of the elephant in the room is that it will keep stepping on our toes until the reality of "we need to talk about this" happens.  I could ramble on about racism, I could ramble on about who is or was at fault, but I am  neither judge or jury....nor was I there. However a few things have popped up in my mind because I have many friends who are non minority and I want to be able to not be on guard in our communications. I have family members who are in law enforcement, I have a cousin who lost a son due to gun violence (I never thought that would happen in my good Christian family) or have been incarcerated....perhaps more than once.  To some the events of this week could be considered par for the course, because they are not really familiar with non minority people.  However as an outsider looking at this situation as a woman, a Mother, grandmother and person of color, there are a few things I would like to share, because quite honestly I am sick of the elephant in the is causing people to second guess me, not look me in the eye and assume the worse of me and perhaps how I feel..

Well here ya go, this is how I earnestly feel.....

  • I hurt for the Mom of Michael Brown.  We all think our children are just absolute angels.  We teach them to do right and we assume and/or pray that what we teach them sinks in and that they carry those lesson with them for life.  We cannot be with our children all the time or they would surely fail as productive members of society. I a sure that this Mother just KNEW she had a good son who had no trouble with the law to her knowledge. I am sure if there had been some ongoing issues with law enforcement, it will come out when there is a trial...assuming there is one.
  • I hurt for the grandmother that he was supposedly on his way to see.  I am sure she was waiting for him with lots of hugs and love, as most grandmother's do.  There is something about a grandsons hug that just makes you melt.....this I know.  No matter how mischievous, no matter if they forgot their manners during the week or how many times they might have been punished by Mom - at Grandma's none of that matters.  
  • Although, we have all at one time or another heard the phrase - don't judge a book by it's cover......and rightfully so.   Each of us has judged someone by their appearance or by the company we have chosen to have around us.  I vividly remember my parents reminding us of these two things.daily.  There is a Challenge for just about everything right now. I am sure others have heard me say this before, but one more time can't hurt- YOUNG MEN (and some ladies - go figure ) IF YOU CAN PUT THEM ON, YOU CAN PULL THEM ALL THE WAY UP. That particular look is not a fashion statement and if you think your underwear is all that...stay home and enjoy them in the privacy of your own home.  What you are saying to the world is you are not a clear thinker, you get so distracted that you cannot complete the simple task of puling up your pants or buying some that actually fit..  This is thug mentality started in prisons - wait, you know have heard this why keep doing it????  Do you not care??  (sorry - I had to go in Mom mode)
  • I remember Officer Friendly, you remember the police officer who came and spoke to the class and was a friend to all?.  The police department made sure that they visited the students at school, so that a certain level of comfort was instilled.  The DC police officer had on a blue shirt, navy slacks, had a pair of handcuffs, a billy stick and he or she smiled.  The police persons job was to make us feel safe. I just do not remember them in riot gear as a norm.What does this say about our society today and how can we change the perception that at any moment there will be a riot??
  • There was a time when I READ about the struggles of the Negro and what the riots did in New Jersey, Richmond and yes, even in my hometown of DC.  I do remember thinking to never seemed to recover in some of those areas.  Rioting is like trashing your home, when it is the only place you have to rest your ...but now it is no longer there....because you trashed it.   I think that in 2014, we might be upset about a situation, but we should react intellectually and not destroy the little that is available to us.  After all, who would want to re-open an establishment after knowing  that the residents could lash back out at any moment.  Investing in a community to provide minimal necessities in life, takes a special kind of person.and we should support their effort or open our own. 
  • I remember a time when walking home from school, if my sibling's and I did something out of order, my homemaker  Mom knew and would meet us halfway, with hand on hip and that special look in her eye, which let us know....she knew and we were in trouble.  Someone along the way home cared enough to call my mom and let her know we were not representing her and my dad well.  Trust me that neighborhood network of love handled the business of being the eyes and ears of the community. 
  • I remember living in Virginia - of all places - raising my daughters and being the only minority Mom in my neighborhood and one who actively participated in things at their schools.  The other Moms and I talked about everything...and I do mean everything.  .  Having grown up in a multicultural  area of Montgomery County, Maryland, I thought nothing of our random questions/comments on everything - especially issues on race relations.  We were all and still are all just Mom's who had children who were going to grow up in a multicultural world.  We wanted them to be able to handle and embrace multiculturalism easily.  Imagine how this week only a handful of people that I know and speak to daily, spoke comfortably with me about the week's events.  We have such a long way to go when it comes to understanding and communicating with those who are not like me - a minority.   How will we ever heal, if we never talk about the wound that opens and festers from time.  Yes we will all have differing opinions, but to act like all is okay is like not noticing the huge grey elephant in the room...even after squeezing by it to get to the other side. 
  • I remember seeing police activity like what was shown this week on a newsreel, like from the days when integration was being introduced in the south.......I was quite shocked and saddened that this was happening in 2014 - in today's America, my America.  Most importantly, it was hard this week to see my older friends cry as they remembered times like that and what it felt like - teargas, heavily armed police, etc.  I imagine they thought those days were long gone.  After all America, we are better than this.
I just wanted to share these as these are the things that crossed my mind this week as the events the mid west, in my America, where I have friends that are non-minority, that might not truly understand how some might feel.  It is okay.  Lets talk about this and not turn off the TV in haste, like this will all go away. It will not go away until we talk about how far we are NOT when it comes to the discussion of race relations right here in America.   It is a conversation that we need to get out of the way so we can practice something called brotherly/sisterly love, the love of thy we can move forward. 

I sincerely pray that next week, the elephant is outside the room, that civil conversations will be had and that we work on making sure that our emotions do not allow this negative energy to seep into the fabric of OUR America. It is time we stopped side-eyeing each other and look each other in the face and TALK, clear the air and straighten some things out.  There was a National Moment of Silence on Thursday.  Not sure how many knew about this and actually participated.  I did...we did.

I reminded my grandsons and my gift son that they will be judged by the company that they keep, how they maintain their appearance and how they act in public. We lit a candle for all the lost souls and families out there that have been affected by gun violence unjustly and as a Grandmother and Mother I prayed that nothing like this will happen to my guys or another young man- by incident or accident.

America, we are better than this and once again, the world is watching  - lets get the elephant out of the room, get our emotions in check and recognize the reality of this and other similar situations and deal with it.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014


I am so Thankful that it is raining today.  Sometimes the rain seems to push the reset button.  We need to have the reset button pushed today, so in my world - I am Thankful that if just for today, I am pushing my reset button. 

It has been a summer of unexpected happenings and life changers - yet again.  I vaguely remember starting to plant all of my summer pots so that I could sit outside and just breathe and enjoy the beauty that surrounds me.  Well....I have not had a lot of time to do so (yet I am keeping hope alive for autumnal pausing) however there was this one huge pot overflowing with weeds and I thought, well let me put some chard, lettuce or something in so that it can be a tad more productive than a weed laden pot.  As I cleared awway the obvious weeds, I noticed something off-white - almost looked like crumpled paper of some sort. I continued to cautiously and carefully dismiss the weeds, I remembered that I had put a small Hydrangea in this pot..... it was now blooming and it made me smile.  How awesome is this?? 
Sometimes we have to dismiss all of the negative energy that surrounds us -cautiously and carefully -and just do what we do.  If that means we have to bloom in spite of it all - THEN WE MUST BLOOM.  Otherwise, we will succumb to all of the forces that are against all things positive.  In spite of all that is going on in our midst, we must seek out the beauty that surrounds us....


Saturday, August 9, 2014

Friday, August 8, 2014



A new initiative to reinvigorate Branch Avenue at Naylor Road and the St. Barnabas Road Commercial Corridor...............a program of the Maryland SBTDC

Most people who know me realize quite quickly that I am dedicated to community building, beautification efforts, supporting local business and sharing useful information.  I happened upon something right in my back yard (so to speak) that speaks to these principles which I am passionate about. 

In 2012, the first Branch Avenue Day proved to be the spark that lit the surrounding communities along the St. Barnabas Road corridor into action.  Providing the residents with a farmer's market, beautification efforts and maintaining a safe environment, Branch Avenue In Bloom project is continually working to build the community.  From the Marlow Heights Shopping Center to Sam's Car Wash, including Iverson Mall and River of Life Church - these Community Building Businesses have joined forces to make this a weekend of gathering great fresh produce, collecting school supplies and spending local dollars where they are needed most - LOCALLY.

Mr. Fleming Thomas , Market Manager, could not hide the excitement in his voice while sharing with me that Dusty Harrison (a boxer with a winning record of 23 - 0) would be on hand to sign autographs,  as well as music, give aways and of course an awesome Farmer's Market.  The local Fire Department will have information as well as some of the local government agencies.  Just think one could start out by visiting the Market, seeing exactly what the offerings are for local produce available for purchase, grab a free backpack, collect school supplies that will be given out from the local businesses,  patronize some of the food sources and end the day by attending a Church service....all in your own community!!!

According to Jennifer Funn, Program Coordinator of Branch Avenue In Bloom, 60 cents of every dollar spent in the community goes back into the community. This means that the more we spend in our community, the more jobs it will provide by attracting more businesses to share in the business of Community Building.  What a win win for everybody!!

This wonderful day filled with fun starts at 9:00 am and goes on until 4.  The second part of this wonderful day begins at River of Life Church and continues on until 8:00 pm.  Join the celebration of Branch Avenue Day.......I can't wait to speak to Mr. Fleming about the Urban Farm.............