Monday, November 9, 2009

Where's That RVing Daydreamer?

She's alive and well, but is blogging at her other place during her trip through the Southwest.  She'll be back on this blog around March, 2010.  Go see her at

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Gardens to Bed; Back on the Road

Hmmm.  Here it is, September 17th.  This has been an amazing gardening season for me.  I've had some new and interesting experiences:
  • a cool and wet spring season brought us insects we've never seen before.  In great numbers.  They fascinate me and I wonder where they came from, and will they stick around for next year.
  • the new gardens I began building last fall and completed this spring I LOADED UP with compost, and the result was monster growth by whatever I planted there.  Gotta remember that next year, and add LOADS of compost to the older gardens so I can watch the joy unfold there, too!
  • a few of our older gardens got rehabilitated, so now I'm eager to do an extreme makeover next year on some of the others!

I'm leaving the gardens early this year.  It's almost their bedtime anyway, the leaves on the ground are telling me that.  While they hibernate, all nestled and snug in their beds, I'll be with Willie Nelson, On The Road Again!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


Oh geez. I'm taking very deep breaths very frequently these days. There's a huge change coming, one that I'm madly excited about ~~ my brand new, never-been-done-before adventure is barely four weeks away! That's when I'll lock up my little travel-trailer-home and spend the next six months traveling the southwest with my oldest daughter in her brand new motorhome. We have BIG plans. We're going to the Hot Air Balloon Festival in New Mexico. We're going go up in one of those balloon contraptions and see our world from a whole new perspective (actually the entire trip will be seeing from a new perspective).

The issue that I'm dealing with is this: my plans, exciting and amazing as they are for me, means I must leave my "garden post" six weeks early. Which, in turn, means there are important garden chores to be delegated.

I'm not a good delegator. To me, delegating is transferring a responsibility to someone else, when I should be doing it myself. Oh, wait a minute: isn't delegation a big plus, don't effective managers do it all the time, so what's my big deal? Maybe, just maybe, I have a fear that the job won't be done as well as I could do it.

Oops. That kind of thinking is really out of sync with my professed belief system, a belief that everything works out the way it's supposed to, a belief that trusts Life, a belief in having a positive mindset.

No WONDER I feel torn! Get over it, Jeanne, and get on with your adventure! The garden gods will take care of the tasks, and you'll return in March to see the job was done even better than you would have done it. Let go, lady, turn loose, and stop all that deep breathing before you hyperventilate. Silly, silly lady.

Sunday, August 16, 2009


Gardening is my greatest pleasure. In early spring I do hard physical labor removing last year's debris and last fall's mountains of leaves. I want to hurry before the first signs of life break ground (crocus, daffodils, tulips). Time to clean up leftover useless thoughts and feelings in my own soul.

Then I get to do whatever soil amending is needed, to give this renewed life the best chance of being really happy. Let's replace that old useless stuff with some life-giving thoughts ~~ like, how lovely the day is, how pregnant with new possibilities.

Finally, planting time arrives (more or less around Mother's Day. GO SHOPPING for annuals that will add instant color to the gardens, and for perennials that will be with us for years to come. Spend some time finding inspiration from the soul gardens of writers; books, online blogs, conversations about the value of living well.

Then: all summer long, during the prime growing season, dedicate myself to the daily chores of weeding, watering, feeding, deadheading, and loving the gardens. Be responsible for keeping my heart and soul cleared of impatience; take time to appreciate the way life unfolds at its own pace; count my blessings; bask in the warmth of friendships.

As fall arrives: begin removal of spent plants, keep the gardens looking neat, and don't cry as the gardens become less delicious. Accept the circle of life, go with the flow, have faith in life's need for rest, look forward to the rebirth that's coming.

In winter: think about new garden projects, make notes of what to repeat and what to try new, develop new ideas. Spend time sorting through thoughts and feelings, try new ideas on for size, take time to not think at all, and rest well.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


My gardens are very important to me (OK, they're not "my" gardens, they belong to the campground where I work) and I'm very protective of them. I'm out there every day caretaking, keeping things happy and neat and as weed-free as I can. I feed and water, and yes, I do talk to the plants -- more fun than talking to myself, dontcha know.

So, yesterday evening I was doing some watering, and a young boy about 10 or so came up to me and said "hey lady, wanna buy some flowers?" For an instant my mind went blank. I'm surrounded by flowers, why should I buy more? Then the light went on, and I asked, "where did you get the flowers?" "Over there." He pointed to one of my gardens.

After my inner scream subsided, I took a deep breath and said, as kindly and gently as I could, "you know, these gardens are for our campers to look at and enjoy, but not to pick." Then he went blank for a second. I said, "so you won't pick any more will you?" "No, ma'am. I'm sorry I picked your flowers."

The boy's immediate (and correct) response softened my ire, and I had to smile. How nice to have an innocent, polite, and cooperative kid, picking or not. He showed me and the gardens that he respected us. I really like that because nowadays it's a bit hard to come by from youngsters who've just been turned loose in a campground. They're like little wild animals who've been caged in a small place, and here they are, set free in acreage, with so many places to go and explore; probably they don't realize that they're trampling on some precious plant or new seedling, and I know this is a risk that comes with the territory. It won't make me stop gardening, anyway. Sometimes you just gotta go with the flow.

When I told the story to some of the other staff here (who know how protective I am), they laughed to the point of tears. Now whenever they see me, they ask "hey lady, wanna buy some flowers?" Brings a smile to my face!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


Here I am smack in the end of the middle of the gardening season, still focused on keeping all the gardens happy and blooming, and I realize that in less than six weeks I'll be storing up my travel trailer for the winter and joining one of my daughters in her brand new motorhome for a six-month trek through the Great Southwest, where neither of us has spent any quality time!

My routine ? A drastic change. I ADORE change! Once we hit the road, this blog will no doubt gravitate to a travelog of sorts: my role as gardener will fade to the background while me-as-wanderer will be taking center stage. I expect to uncover some fresh insights stimulated by things I've never seen before!

Stay tuned for SIX MONTHS OF THE SOUTHWEST, beginning mid-September! Be sure to check out our trip site at

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


Ah this is not always so easy. Especially after several HARD rains, the kind where raindrops each weigh about five pounds and wash away roads. My proud stand of zinnias took a hard hit last week, so hard that many of the plants actually broke off at the base of the stalk.

I kind of felt like an undertaker as I took these broken plants away. Then I felt like a grave-robber as I cut whatever "fresh" blooms I could for a bouquet for the office. Then I just felt really sad when I took the remains up to our compost pile.

All these feelings were negative, and I don't live well with negative feelings, so it was time to put on my Regain Perspective Hat and sit and think:
  • Heck, sh*t happens -- I'm not in Paradise yet
  • Don't mess with Mother Nature
  • At least the office has a really cheerful vase full of flowers
  • Next time, stake the darn plants before this happens
  • Time to roll with the punches, go with the flow
  • Suck it up and move on
Moving on I am:
  • I took a deep breath, gave thanks for all the plants that didn't get flattened (the Mexican Sunflowers are awesomely strong).
  • I just planted a new batch of Cosmos and Hollyhocks. They WILL be staked.
  • I'm going out to buy a new supply of stakes.

Thursday, July 30, 2009


My boss told his young-but-wise grandson that I have a green thumb. AJ answered, "she does not!" So, who's right?

My gardening and landscaping endeavors have been, for the most part, quite successful. I bask in the daily oohs and aahs of the campers walking the various garden paths; I humbly say "thank you" a zillion times a week when I'm told how wonderful the lavish gardens are. But for all that, I can't say I have a green thumb, just a great passion. I'm no professional, just a hobby gardener who learns as she goes and who relies on internet sources for her continuing education, and who, with the help of all the garden gods, continues to create happy accidents in these gardens.

To help me believe that I do indeed have a green thumb, I'm seriously considering painting my thumb green (or having it tattooed). Sometimes a person just believes better with visual aids!

Sunday, July 19, 2009


Here I am, all settled into my routine of summer garden job in the north and winter vacation in the south, always the same places, and very content with this arrangement. Along comes a daughter telling me she's quitting her corporate job, buying a motorhome, and she and I will travel the southwest U.S. for six months.

OMG, panic in the streets of my mind! What, get me out of my comfy little rut, and make me think again? How Dare You. Now I have to learn how to winterize my trailer, something I've never done before. Now I have to find a keeper for my truck for the winter. Now I have to make lists of what to bring on this new adventure.

Remembering that the difference between a rut and a grave is that one can still climb out of a rut, I'm loving every minute of this! New Adventure is the name of the game, and this is my opportunity to join forces with this daughter in new ways, as we not only explore the great outdoors of the southwest, but also the great "indoors" of our inner truths. We're not a religious lot, but we are spiritual seekers.

Life's little side trips add such richness to the equation; the unexpected can be so delightful; each little trip gives us the opportunity to say YES! to adventure. Look out World, here we come (beginning mid-September)!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009


No rain in sight . . . gardens are thirsty! I fondly remember the early spring days when we had frequent gentle ground-soaking rains, and I never had to water. I had time to finish up garden prep, and do all the needed planting. Now, as I drag my watering hose from spigot to spigot, I think an irrigation system would be wonderful.

Oh, wait --- is that what I really want? With my hose, I get to seriously visit each section of the garden as I water. I get to see who needs deadheading, and who has weeds that are pretending to be flowers (and I pull them as I see them). I get to notice all the new little buds that promise continued blooming. I get to be surprised at the first hibiscus bloom, and can imagine what our "hibiscus hill" will look like when all seven plants are in bloom and look forward to getting pictures of that! Our first giant sunflower just opened fully, what a delight, and there are buds there too. I get to notice what garden insects are active, and I get to capture that darn japanese beetle who thought he was hiding in the rose.

When I water I see so much detail that I might miss if all I do is walk throu
gh the garden. This way, I'm standing in front of one section at a time. It's the difference between driving through a neighborhood and walking through a neighborhood. When you walk, you have the time to wave at people, and stop for a friendly chat.

OK so I don't want an irrigation system after all.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


Our newest garden area: a former grassy field has been transformed by a gazebo surrounded by small gardens and pathways. Less grass to cut and surely easy on the eyes!

This first picture taken in April is of the "naked" garden areas, ready for planting. . .

This was my first-ever experience at doing it all, from laying the bricks and gravel paths, to planning then digging the gardens, hauling lots of compost to amend the soil, to setting the borders, to doing the actual planting. There's color for every part of the growing season! The rest of the pictures were taken a few days ago; all planting is done for this year and there's room for more next year.

Of course we're not finished: there are more areas to be transformed. Saving that for another time; Rome wasn't built in a day, right?

Campers want to know what the plants are, so I've placed labels for the more unusual things we have growing. This sparks so many nice conversations with our visitors!

They're surprised to see we have herbs scattered among the flowers. . .

And these final few pictures are of some very happy faces!

Sunday, June 28, 2009


I've been working toward this since March: the time when our summer perennials begin their blooming! I see buds everywhere: blackeyed susans, coneflowers, mexican hyssop; daisies have opened, the zinnias are too. The hollyhocks are in full bloom. Our ten hardy hibiscus bushes are even sending up buds, with promise of another spectacular show -- one of my favorites! The roses continue their blooming, they must like the food I give them.

Best news of all (knock on wood) we haven't been overrun by japanese beetles. We decided to NOT put out the beetle traps this year; instead we vigilantly search for them (very few so far) and get rid of them one by one, via smashing or capturing in a baggie.

This is not to say all's been planted that will be planted. On this little piece of our planet, the campground owners continually come home from a shopping trip with "oh look what we found!" And they bring forth more perennials: several russian sage, and shrub roses that will grow to a width of ten feet, and a few other things. Here's my challenge, the one I love the best: where the heck do I put these things?? The two russian sage plants when fully grown will be about 4' tall and 3' wide -- each. Heck, there's just NO ROOM in the existing gardens! And the shrub roses? Who knows?

After studying different areas, I caved in and simply built a whole new little garden area for the russian sage. This will be a specimen garden, unlike the other gardens that dance with a wonderful mixture of flowering beauties of all colors, shapes, and sizes. As for the shrub roses: we just happen to have an appropriate area along one of our pathways that will accommodate a 10' wide shrub.

OK: I promise to take pictures this week!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


This morning I was up early, wanted to get to work before it got too hot outdoors; worked til lunchtime; had lunch, took a nap, went back to work later in the day. So far, so good.

I crawled into bed at 10pm tonight, with plans to repeat today's schedule. Then it happened: I lay there, sleepily musing about some good stuff in my life. One thought led to another, and yet another, things/people/events I'm so darn grateful for. I kept saying, in between these thoughts, "time to sleep now, let the healing begin" (I consider the dark sacred night a healing time while I sleep) but the thoughts continued. At 11 pm I got up, had a glass of milk, went back to bed.

At midnight I was up again. Still wide awake. Turned on my computer, did some surfing, and now it's 1:30 am, it's tomorrow, for goodness' sake! What the heck?!?

Oh, no --- can it be that FINALLY I've had enough sleep? Am I reaching the time in my life like my grandmother's, when she said she only needed four or five hours of sleep a night?? Please no, I really like sleep!

Panda, my little dog friend, dutifully followed me from the bed to the couch. She looks at me and wonders what's up. Is it morning already? It's still dark outside! I think this gratitude thing is backfiring on me, I might need to turn it down a notch? Nah, I think not. I'll just sign off here and work on my to-do list for today when the sun shines. If I'm awake then.

Thursday, June 4, 2009


MY BAD! For the past three weeks or so I got so caught up in planting, I didn't even think about blogging. One of my 'keepers' reminded me how behind I am. Time to catch up.

All the zillion plants we bought are now in the ground or in container gardens or in hanging baskets. All are doing very well -- I think because of the rain we've had. Rainwater is SO much better, the plants tell me.

Couldn't rest on my laurels, though. The owner reminded me that in his greenhouse he has a truckload of flats, all seedlings he planted earlier, and they're ready to go. Zinnias, Giant Sunflowers (the 8' tall kind), Mexican Sunflowers, Cosmos, Daisies, Marigolds, and a number of things that are no longer labeled (labels blew away). I finally got all that stuff planted this week. The unlabeled ones were fun to plant, and it will be fun to watch them grow, and fun to discover what they are, and fun to see if I planted them in the right place! I'm hoping they want a full-sun home, because that's where I put them.

Good spring rains is a two-edged sword: the plants love it and thrive, and so do the WEEDS. Much of my time has involved weed control, as in pulling them. It's not that I love pulling weeds, it's that I love the end result; but it's like housework, it's never finished. That's OK because I guess I like being on my hands and knees --- I have the callouses to prove it. My one weeding knee (the one I'm always using to kneel on) has a marvelous callous, also known as body armor.

Even though our perennials aren't in full bloom yet, the campers here are already raving about the beauty of the gardens. They ARE lush with greenery, and the annuals we've put in give the needed color, and we have an incredible variety of plants (see the April 4th post for a list). I tell the campers, please come back in midsummer and you'll see a REAL show!

What's next on my to-do list? A bit of tree-trimming: got to raise the canopies to get more sun onto some of the gardens. I wait for the gas-powered pole saw to be fixed, because I'm so ready to trim!

Thursday, May 14, 2009


Two days ago the bosses and I went plant shopping -- a good four hours of finding annuals and perennials for our extensive gardens. We hit two large nurseries in the process, and came home with a trailer load of goodies. This annual event is like binge-shopping

While at the nurseries, I watched the employees tending the plants and I thought, 'what a great job to have'. Reality set in and I realized MY JOB is so much more fabulous: the nursery employees nurture a billion young plants, and that's so important; but I get to selectively adopt plants, bring them home, find the right spot for them to live and grow and bring pleasure to lots of people, tend to them for years on end (the perennials, anyway), keep the beasts at bay (especially those darn japanese beetles) and grow a long-term relationship with them

Yesterday I began the planting: I put together 24 container gardens then began putting plants in the ground. I'd envisioned working until nightfall because we have SO MANY to plant! But, no matter how willing the spirit, the flesh just wouldn't last that long, so I had to give it up for the day. Ah, that's OK: I also can't eat a half gallon of ice cream in one sitting, nor have I ever been able to eat an elephant in one bite. This means, beautifully, that for the next very many days I will be planting, and planting, and planting . . .

Thursday, May 7, 2009


My first spring at this campground began on March 15, 2007. When I arrived from warm humid southwest Louisiana, it was COLD up here (Maryland) but I needed to get to work right away. There were a good three to four inches of leaves that obliterated all of the rock gardens, and those leaves needed to be removed. Because of all the plants and shrubs, it had to be done mostly by hand. As I worked (and it took a good three weeks) I noticed I was trampling on the new shoots under the leaves, of the season's first arrivals: the tulips and daffodils and crocuses and irises. I cringed every time I uncovered one of my victims! It all got done, though, and we had a great "crop" of flowers once the mountains of leaves were removed. It was a great and exciting first year at my new job of gardener/landscaper.

The following year I decided to wait until April 1st to arrive (I was remembering how cold it was the previous year and I was chicken). I arrived to find a young man had been hired to get the leaves out of the gardens, and he'd used a rake; had raked the gardens SO vigorously that some of the new young plants had been removed along with the leaves. Ah, well, life goes on, doesn't it. This particular spring was cold for a long, long time and it seemed forever before things poked their heads through the ground. Our planting season was slighty delayed due to the late-arriving spring, but the weather turned suddenly HOT and we really scurried to get new planting done quickly. Remembering how much time I'd spent watering during the last summer's drought, I laid soaker hoses in all the large gardens so that I could spend my time doing other things while the gardens were being watered. It worked well.

THIS year I returned in mid-March, wanting to be the one to do the garden cleanup. Yes, it was cold but I was being brave, and gardens were cleaned up without disturbing any plants. No trampling this year! However: the new experience is the rain! It's like living in a rain forest, I think. The ground has been thoroughly soaked down to about China. I have several new gardens in the works and I'm eager to build up the soil and get things planted in them, but the soil right now is like mud soup. No sooner does it begin to dry out and we get another four-hour deluge or all-day-and-night soaking steady rain. Temps have been cool, too -- good for tulips lasting a longer time than usual (until we had four days of freakish July weather which ended the tulip season), the nurseries have been slow in putting out their inventory due to the cool and wet, and we're behind schedule in creating our forty or so container gardens and almost as many hanging baskets. I'm just hoping for an extended spring so we can get all the work done before the really hot weather arrives for good.

Gee, I wonder what will be new and different NEXT spring!

Monday, May 4, 2009


Thinking more about what I said yesterday: years ago, I was a bricks-and-sticks homeowner because I had a family to raise, and that was part of the deal. So perhaps there are others in that boat, taking care of business in the best way for them. You know, the home site, the stability factor, giving the kids good roots and good memories for later. The stability factor is a big one, I think.

I'm just glad I now have the freedom to be unstable. LOL.

Sunday, May 3, 2009


Yesterday a friend asked me if I ever get tired of living in a camper. Yeah, right! If he knew how I love housework (my idea of cleaning is to sweep the room with a glance), he'd know I never, ever want to go back to living in a real house!

A real house is for domesticated folks, folks who like having roots in one place, who dote on having lots of stuff to mess with. They probably enjoy dusting and sweeping and mopping. They must feel comforted by being surrounded by family heirlooms, or fine art. Many of them have serious collections of stuff that need to be displayed. There are lots of pictures on the walls, in every room. Of course they surely enjoy entertaining their friends.

Hey, you know I like all those things too. The only difference is, I'm not so domesticated; I'm at heart a feral animal. I like my roots to be nestled comfortably in different places at different times. I enjoy the heck out of cleaning THE GREAT OUTDOORS!! I love to dig up weeds, and rake leaves, and grow and tend to plants. Pressure washing is a really fun way to clean stuff. My family heirlooms and fine art are the trees and flowers, and the sounds of nature. My alarm clock is the birds in the morning, who seem so happy for the return of daylight. My pictures hang in my heart and on my computer. My collections of stuff are planted in the ground. The one thing I've never been good at is entertaining. I never learned how to host a party. I recently learned, however, that after five glasses of wine I am apparently very funny. I guess that's a form of entertaining.

Yep, I'm sure not regretting selling that house and all that stuff, because now I'm really free to live the way I want to live. It's all so good!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

FINALLY! The rain and cold has gone and we're having five days of midsummer heat (one extreme to the other but I shan't complain). The projects? Got my loads of compost and have been amending clay soils in several garden areas; dug up a mountain of grass growing in the wrong place, laid out landscaping cloth and covered with mulch; dug a truckload of weeds out of the soft ground (it's always easier); uprighted a number of collapsed garden borders; relocated some hostas from sun to shade; relocated our astilbes from sun to part shade (where they belong); moved a whole bunch of groundcover plugs to areas needing them; strewed a bucket of wildflower seeds out by our front entrance; all the while basking in the beauty of our gazillion tulips now blooming for all they're worth, and in campers' compliments on the gardens!

Today I lay out all our soaker hoses, quick before the coming-up plants get too tall! With the temps reaching the high 80s I fully expect to break a sweat today. No matter -- I LOVE working in short sleeves and capris!!

PS I finally found out the explanation for my calloused hands, elbows and knees: my body is making its own protective armor! Who knew I'd be growing a soft exoskeleton?!?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


I've been very patient (well, mostly patient) during the past several weeks of cold and windy weather, lots of rainy days, and almost five days of being sick with some kind of bug going around. Today is no different: an all-day rain has me once again sitting on the sidelines (indoors) instead of out there gardening til the cows come home.

There's so much I want to do out there! So many projects, both big and small --- things to be done before it's time for serious planting (in May)! Yet here I sit, reading books; or napping; or cleaning up my house (this travel trailer takes about five minutes to clean, yes I'm not kidding); and I've surfed the internet to complete exhaustion; and I've played Solitaire a few times too many.

During all this inactivity, I've been feeling a buildup of energy. My body is hoarding it. It makes my ears pop sometimes. It's starting to make me crazy. This morning I donned my rain gear just to walk the dog, having every intention of going to work on one of my projects, the weather be damned. But I couldn't do it. I didn't have the guts to ignore the rain and get to work. So here I sit, still, conjuring up more patience, because the forecast is calling for more rain next week, possibly four days in a row. AAARRRGGGHHH.

I'm trying to comfort myself by regaining some perspective here: we need the rain. The rain is a gentle soaking one. The earth is gathering up all this rain and saving it for future dry days. Etc. Etc. Still, cabin fever is beginning to set in. Maybe I'll go shopping like I did yesterday. After all, how wet can one get going from car to store? At least I'll get some exercise walking around the stores. More patience needed, please.

Thursday, April 9, 2009


Turns out it's just laryngitis. My voice change, that is -- that happened a few days ago. Yep, turns out I caught the bug that's going around. Imagine that, I who brag often about how I never get sick. Must be Life's cute little way of reminding me that no, I haven't died and gone to heaven yet (most of the time I'm thinking my life's so perfect, that's what's happened).

If none of this makes sense, then maybe it is puberty after all. I mean, I AM feeling a little light-headed.

Saturday, April 4, 2009


There's an icy wind out there, 33mph with gusts to 40 something: not a gardener-friendly day, so I'm inside my 8'x18' living area doing some thinking and planning. There are six newly-created gardens with nothing planted yet: what to put there, I wonder?

After searching the online nursery catalogs for inspiration, and looking for the new and unusual, it's time to review what we already have in the gardens:

  • crocuses
  • daffodils
  • hyacinths
  • day lilies
  • tulips
  • irises
  • Gladiolas
  • Dahlias

  • Blackeyed Susans (Maryland state flower)
  • Coneflowers, several varieties
  • Garden Phlox
  • Four O'Clocks
  • Daisies
  • Blanket Flowers
  • Coreopsis
  • Coral Bells
  • Potentilla
  • Digitalis/Foxglove
  • Hardy Geraniums
  • Red Hot Pokers
  • Sedum and other succulent varieties
  • Peonies
  • Bleeding Heart
  • Ferns / varieties
  • Lenten Rose
  • Cannas
  • Wisteria
  • Asiatic Lilies
  • Hardy Hibiscus
  • Snow-on-the-Mountain
  • Columbine
  • Lamium (Nettle)
  • Goldenrod (NOT the sneeze-inducing Ragweed)
  • Russian Sage
  • Lavender, varieties
  • Hyssop, varieties
  • Hollyhocks
  • Roses
  • New England Asters
  • Clematis
  • Trumpet Vine
  • Chocolate Joe Pye Weed
  • Astilbe
  • Hostas
  • Hibiscus
  • Sea Oats
  • Ornamental Grasses

  • Cleveland Pear Trees
  • Magnolia and Tulip Trees
  • Rose of Sharon
  • Butterfly Bushes (everywhere!)
  • Wiegelia
  • Tree Peony
  • Hydrangea Trees
  • Crape Myrtles
  • Smoke Tree
  • Japanese Dogwood Tree
  • Japanese Cherry Tree
  • Dwarf Red Maple Trees
  • Various Evergreen Shrubs
Since the new gardens around the gazebo are set up differently than the existing rambling gardens, perhaps a tad more 'formal', I'm thinking the selection of plants and layout should be a tad different as well. What fun this will be!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009


I apologize: I didn't just turn 69, I turned 68. This error is no doubt due to my chronic affliction, CRS. This means, of course, that the outstanding birthday party provided by some real good friends gets a re-do. Next year.

Thursday, March 26, 2009



I'm fast approaching my 69th birthday. What the heck? I'm not upset about this, I'm simply amazed, and curious. I don't FEEL 69, but then -- how is a 69-year-old supposed to feel, anyway? I think I stopped feeling older somewhere in my mid forties.

I think 69 says "hey, I've been here longer than you, Pal, so quit your griping." I think it says "I've paid my dues, now I no longer have to care what others think." "I'll do what I darn well please, thank you very much." I like the fact that people exclaim "oh, you can't be THAT old." I laugh when my younger friends say, "let Jeanne do it, she can still bend."

Several years ago I wrote a tribute to aging:

I look in the mirror and what do I see? An older, grayer, wrinkled me! Age has its own beauty, so I’ve been told and we have nothing to fear in growing old.

I tend to agree, there’s nothing to hide; the wrinkles and bags are only outside. I’ve known this truth for many years, and the inside of me laughs at all those fears.

Sometimes I sag and my old bones creak, and I wish to be kind of young and sleek, just a little while longer, I’ve sometimes said in charming sweet dreams in my old head.

The truth be known, it’s freedom I seek, and I get closer with each passing week; nail polish was tossed a long time ago, hair color rejected as frivolous show.

Debt is no friend, and I long for the end of those monthly payments I dutifully send. I’m now quite convinced I have all I need and less is more, so I’ve been freed!

Youth doesn’t leave, it just hides itself, like a mischievous imp up on a shelf waiting with glee for someone to see its delightful, insightful energy!

Older is wiser? Yes, sirree --- Older has seen life’s misery and won’t collapse on aging knee, because older knows just how to be in tune with all the ups and downs, accepting all the smiles and frowns.

In peace, in trust, in harmony, Older dances with the clowns, Happily!

Friday, March 20, 2009


Many years ago I had a fantasy involving myself, my three brothers, my sister, and our respective families, all living on a large plot of land as a kind of family commune. We would share the tasks of vegetable gardening, raising chickens, housekeeping, babysitting, building maintenance, and working outside the home. All of our children would develop strong bonds to one another and would share in the communal chores. My fantasy never materialized, and we're now spread out all over the country.

I was talking to a friend about my fantasy, and found out he, too, would love to be surrounded by his own family in a similar way. Then he said "but that isn't the American way of life." Hmmm. How sad. I know it used to be, but that was "back in the day" I reckon. Time marches on. Things change. We're pulled in different directions for all kinds of different reasons. Greener grass somewhere else tugs at the restless feet of the young adults as they leave the nest, eager to strike out on their own. I don't see anything wrong with that either. I guess it just is what it is. Still, as rare as it seems to be, the extended family living and working in close proximity, is a thing of beauty.

My fantasy is probably a distant memory of one of my previous lives that was particularly enjoyable!

Thursday, March 19, 2009


I guess I’m not the “typical” fulltime rv’er. I don’t wander from place to place, I don’t have new experiences in places I’ve never been before; I don’t have a photo album of a thousand wonderful sights I’ve never seen before. I simply go to the same place every spring and stay there until the end of fall. Then I go to my home state, to the same place, and have basically the same relaxing winter experience every year. Nonetheless, I’m in love with my life.

I’m in love with the Hagerstown Maryland part of the country. I’m in deep love with the gardens I tend in this campground that I‘m in love with, I love the owners and their kids and grandkids, I love my co-workers, I love seeing the “regular” campers that return every year, and oh, boy I really love meeting new folks that come to the campground each year.

I arrived in Maryland a few days ago. I spent delicious hours setting up my summer homestead, putting up my little fence so Panda can be outdoors but not tied up, putting out my awning, arranging my patio furniture, stocking up my empty larder, walking around and surveying my garden kingdom, making mental notes about what needs to be done and what should be done first.

The truth is, I don’t have to travel to unknown parts to see things I’ve never seen before: that happens here all the time -- my first ever sighting of an oriole; my delight seeing a birdhouse inhabited, smack in the middle of our mini golf course; a little grey bunny scurrying from our veggie garden. I take pictures of plants that are new here this year, and of gardens that have just been created, or changed. Every year brings new friendships and old friendship renewals.

Someday I will spend my time traveling to parts unknown; just not yet, because -- wow, my life is just so perfect today!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


Considering how seldom I'm actually "on the road" it feels good to say it. I'm enroute to my "summer home" in Williamsport MD. This will be my third season working at the campground, but the first time I'm taking six days to get there.

In previous years I'd take three days to get to Richmond, stay there and visit kids, then a half day to the end destination. This year I decided to bypass Richmond and take a different route. And take it easy. I can sleep late, drive leisurely (that means let everyone in the world pass me by), stop as often as I want to for a doggie walk or food break or just because, arrive early at my overnight stop, and relax for many hours before bedtime.

When I get to my campground I'll put Willie Nelson away until next fall when I'll be on the road again.

Saturday, March 7, 2009


Yep, for me at least! Every March, when spring has come full force to south Louisiana, I delight in the buds and the flowering trees and all the azaleas; I watch folks cutting their grass, I walk through garden centers and salivate at all the bedding plants.

Then I drive to northwest Maryland (Hagerstown area) and I'm smack dab in the middle of winter's end, where the lows are in the 20s or low 30s and the highs are just a bit above that; where the trees are still winter skeletons and you can actually see clear to the other side of the woods. The upside of this is that I get to experience spring all over again, and it usually lasts longer than the southern spring.

The same thing happens to my falls: first in Maryland, September through October, then in Louisiana beginning in November. This year southwest Louisiana didn't even have winter, so it was a four-month fall.

What a life!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


Some people say that we should keep our expectations low so we won't be disappointed. When I realized that my expectations have almost always been met, I decided to raise my expectations and not give voice or thought to any negative ones. Sometimes that's really hard to do --- especially when I'm with people who have a habit of voicing the negative.

I have some really good friends who tend toward the negative, but I love them anyway. I guess that's because, behind the apparent negativity, I see wonderful attributes that are worthy of my respect. My good-but-negative friends don't have a negative effect on me because I know and love them. So what do I do with the negative strangers?!? I really don't like to argue and I refuse to confront; I just remain pleasant and change the subject. It may be cowardly, but I sure do sleep well at night!

A lot of words to just say, my expectations are always positive, and it sure pays off!

Monday, March 2, 2009


I've been sitting here in sunny, warm, southwest Louisiana since Mid-November. Wearing mostly summer clothes and sandals. Now it's time to start packing all that stuff away and making sure the winter clothes are handy, because in four days I'll be heading north where it's still winter!

Departure time always sneaks up on me. Wow! Only four more days! I gotta get some good red beans and rice before I leave, gotta stock up on Community Coffee, too. I have to air up my tires, check propane, wash the front of my trailer, stow/secure the loose items, pack up the truck bed, and double check my checklist so I don't forget anything.

My warm winter sojourn is always a nice change of pace from my summer work; I get lazy and enjoy the heck out of that; staying up late at night, sleeping until late morning; not so much on TV so books get read and one even gets written; my winter host feeds me 'way too much good food and I'm overall spoiled rotten.

In spite of all this, It never fails: once I'm on the road I feel exhilarated and eager to move forward. The part of me that craves hard physical activity beckons, and I'm anxious to begin again the garden renewal.

It's going to take me exactly seven days to get where I'm going because I'm making a stop along the way to visit my son. If I'm lucky, in those seven days winter will be magically whisked away by the time I arrive in Maryland. Hah! It hasn't happened yet, but that doesn't mean it can't happen, right?

Sunday, March 1, 2009


I may be broad-stroking this, and someone's going to be offended, but . . . there really are two kinds of campers.

The first kind is the "true" camper. This group reads the campground rules and adheres to them; they keep their dogs on leash, they pick up after their dogs (scoop poop), they know where their kids are and what they're doing. They've taught their kids the campground etiquette of not taking shortcuts through another's campsite; they've taught them to respect others' property. Some of them even have taught their kids to say "yes ma'am". When these campers leave, there are no cigarette butts and candy wrappers on the ground, and no leftover food thrown into the firepit. The campsite is clean. Man, these campers are SO MUCH APPRECIATED by everyone!

The others appear to be "motel" campers. They're expecting maid service to clean up after them, so they make no effort to that end. Their campsite is littered and the campground becomes the babysitter: kids are sent to the pool or the game room or the playground or just away. Then the parents can get out the beer and just relax, because that's what camping's all about, right? One 12-year-old was overheard saying (about some playground equipment) "so what if I break it? It's not mine!" When night rolls around, these campers party into the wee hours, some drinking too much and playing really loud music -- even though the rules specify quiet time, usually around 10pm or so.

There are lots of "motel" campers that don't have kids, they have dogs. Some of these dogs aren't leashed because "oh, he doesn't wander. . . wouldn't hurt a flea". When these campers walk their dog, they never, ever notice that Fido has deposited a large, nasty pile, so the pile remains for someone to walk through. These campers will leave the dog at the campsite, tied up and barking for many hours, while they go sightseeing.

When these campers are reminded of the rules, their indignation is surpassed only by their incredible response: "Rules? What rules?" Duh, the ones prominently posted in our office, or in the brochure you were given when you registered.

However happy we might be to see our motel campers leave, we heave a big sigh because we know what's in store for us at their campsite: cigarette butts, candy wrappers, chicken bones, beer can tabs, and last night's leftovers in the firepit.

I worship the ground walked upon by the first kind of camper.

Saturday, February 28, 2009


Shortly after the horrible nightmare earthquake in San Fransciso in 1989, my brother overheard some guys talking about the event. One of the guys said "man, it's like it's the end of the world!" A nearby listener chimed in "well, it's about time!!"

I guess for that listener, the end of the world would have been good news.

We look at newscasts, both local and national, and we notice the predominance of bad news; it always takes center stage. Sometimes the newscast will end with a very short "good news" story, I guess to leave us feeling not quite so doomed.

What would happen if all news media, everywhere, would simultaneously declare a moratorium, for one solid week, on bad news? What if they all agreed to report only good news? Would it be possible to speak for 30 minutes, minus commercial time, on only the good stuff that happens in our world? Or would they just sit there and twiddle their thumbs with an embarrassed smile on their empty faces?

I know it's a silly thought. First of all, they'd never unanimously agree to something so outrageous, because let's face it, if they don't report the bad news we won't be able to get to sleep wondering what happened that we don't know about. Secondly, the sponsors would be in an uproar because good news is boring and we'd all turn off tv, and wouldn't see the commercials which get us out spending our money (those few of us who might still have some). Thirdly, there's a slight (ever so slight) chance that the viewing public might actually like hearing more good than bad news, and that would certainly cause an uproar, then a panic, and perhaps the demise of the entire concept of reporting. (can you see the reporters scrambling all over the world looking for good news?) And the viewers would have to turn to NASCAR for the excitement of wrecks and injuries. And where the heck would Law & Order get new ideas for their episodes?

I guess it was a stupid thought. . .

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


For some, retirement means 'stop working and enjoy the fruits of your labor' but for me it took on a different meaning: it meant 'stop working at your corporate job; sell your home, get a travel trailer and live in it and hit the road with it but keep on working till you die, because you have no retirement income except Social Security!'

Well, I got off the corporate treadmill, with gusto sold my home and now my living area is roughly 8' by 18' -- translates to about 144 square feet. Heck, this would fit inside the bedroom I used to have! And in this tiny space I have a U-shaped couch/dinette combo, a refrigerator, stove, oven, double sink, pantry, double bed, two clothes closets, a single bunk above my bed, and a bath with shower and all the other necessities. When I'm parked in a campground I have a 8' by 14' covered patio.

As for the 'work till I die' part of this scenario: I must be part cowpoke, because I expect to die with my boots on, so to speak. And the work? I'd never have believed I could find a full-time job as a gardener! And in a campground where I get to live! What's this, earning money doing what I love doing more than anything else in the world, in a setting surrounded by nature? Doing work that keeps my muscles toned and my joints agile and my belly fat under control? Every day getting dirt under my nails, every evening trying to scrub off the callouses on my knees? Participating in the coming-to-life of the earth every single spring, and nurturing all this new life until fall, and having our campers comment every day on how wonderful the gardens are?

And in the fall, returning to southwest Louisiana for four months of weather that doesn't even qualify as winter!

Geez. No wonder I'm so crazy happy!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


This came in response to my last post, and I thought it worthy of reprint! See, there are still great ways to enjoy the party ---

For the record, I attended several Mardi Gras events this year, including the 12,000-strong Endymion ball at the Superdome on Saturday night (completely insane - fireworks inside the Dome) and the Zulu parade today (aka Black Face at the Ass Crack of Dawn). I have lived here in LA for 20 years now and have been to many Mardi Gras (though only a couple in the Quarter 'cause that freaks me out), but not for a while. I thought I was pretty much over it and typically blow town for this weekend.

To my great surprise, I loved it! In the interest of full disclosure, that may have a lot to do with the fact that I'm staying in a bitchin' 2-room suite at Harrah's, 17 floors above the madness, with access to 24-hour room service and still-in-theatre movies on television and valet parking and have it all FREE...but really? As I read through your blogs I was thinking about the statement you made about change and how one sees things and it really applied here. I think what I saw in a way I hadn't before was not only the rich tradition at work, but my feeling of ownership / attachment to those traditions. Could it be that after living here for 2 of my 4+ decades I am feeling proprietary about our crazy Banana Republic?!

Believe it or not, after too many days with not enough sleep (a behavior for which frankly I am way too old), I am leaving tomorrow considering starting a savings account set aside to buy a seat on a float next year (Orpheus I'm thinkin...).

Thanks, Tracey -- good memories!

Monday, February 23, 2009


It's alive and well, I understand. My question is actually about where it went in my head. I only found out this morning that it's Mardi Gras because I was planning to go shopping and a friend said 'you'll have major traffic problems because of the parades.' Gosh, here I am wintering in southwest Louisiana and I don't know it's Mardi Gras? OK so I'm a little out of touch -- nothing new there!

I grew up in New Orleans, so I grew up with Mardi Gras as well. We oldsters talk about 'back in the day' a lot, and the Mardi Gras I knew back then was much more family-friendly and not so scary.

I lived out-of-state for about seven years, and when I returned home as an adult I couldn't wait for Mardi Gras! I went to Bourbon Street the night before and experienced a terrifying fear of being swept along in a tightly-scrunched shoulder-to-shoulder crowd of partygoers that extended from the buildings on one side of the street to the buildings on the other side of the street. Lucky for me, I only encountered the friendly types -- we were all, strangers and friends alike, clinging to each other's arms or shoulders to keep from losing our balance as we were swept along in the undertow of the crowd. 'Okay', I kept saying to myself, 'there's an escape somewhere, I just hang on until I see it. This can't last forever.'

The escape was only two blocks away, and as far as I know everyone made it through without incident. As soon as we were free, we laughed somewhat hysterically, popped open our beers and continued with the partying.

I guess I answered my question: Mardi Gras, for me, will remain a distant memory. Now I tend to avoid dense crowds, especially crowds where insanity is legal.


I work in a campground in northern Maryland during the spring, summer, and fall months. During the summer, kids are everywhere, and we joke about being overrun by these youngsters. One Saturday evening I was ready for bed and was acutely aware that the campground noise level was terribly loud. The three cabins next to me were filled with a family group that included about a thousand kids. Around 10:30pm I had thoughts of going outside and shouting QUIET! at the top of my lungs, then realized I just needed to live with the noise on Saturday night. As I turned off the lights, I recalled something I read recently: “when you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”

I listened again to the aggravating noise, and thought about those kids outdoors playing their games, getting along with one another, immersed in their imaginations, being physical, running and laughing -- instead of being zombies in front of a television or video game or doing drugs. I thought about how fortunate those kids were for some time out in the country, their families around the campfire. I remember them in the pool earlier, more laughter; on the hayride, more laughter. The noise they were now making seemed suddenly refreshing to hear.

Heck, I remembered playing outdoors in the evenings with my own childhood friends, running around and funning around. No longer irate at the noise, I was just glad that kids still have that in them. My reward? An hour later the noise stopped.

Sunday, February 22, 2009


There's something about daydreaming I just can't let go of. When I was a kid, it was my escape from the real world--not that my real world was bad, but I wanted something different. I call it daydreaming, some call it fantasizing. I like daydreaming better.

I've continued my daydreams into my adult life -- and since I was born when God was still a little boy, it's been a long time! Not so long ago I thought more about it, and I discovered how useful my daydreaming has been.

It's been a decision-making tool for me. When faced with a decision to make, instead of heavily pondering the pros and cons, I just daydream about the what-ifs: if I decide to go in the direction of one choice, then what can I expect? I'll flesh out the possibilities with my imagination and live with that idea; kind of like trying on a new dress. How do I look? How do I feel? How do others respond? Then I'll imagine the same things with a different kind of decision. This is so much more fun, and certainly less traumatic, than agonizing with an intellectual weigh-in of each alternative. I find it true for both large and small decisions.

None of us knows what's down the road, or around the next bend in our life, and we think we can't predict future events. Hindsight, however, has taught me that I can sometimes make predictions; I've learned that there is such a thing as self-fulfilling prophecy when I engage my imagination passionately toward an outcome I want. It's happened for me far too many times for me to doubt anymore. Ah, the journey through my daydreaming is delightful, and I wouldn't give it up for anything!