The Garden

We’ve had unseasonably warm weather in southwest Oklahoma for the past few weeks. This should make me rather crabby because October is my favorite month due to its normally crisp prettiness, but this year I don’t mind as much. Why? The garden loves it. Our vegetables and flowers are making the most of this extra warmth, which makes me smile every time I set foot out the door. So, what did we plant this year? Let me show you.


Our magnificent snapdragons. Jerk caterpillars.

When we first started to work on the yard in 2008, which seems like an eternity ago, we focused mostly on the existing flower beds and started with morning glories and snapdragons. Both flowers took hold and have reseeded themselves for years, though we finally lost our snapdragons this spring to a huge invasion of caterpillars. Jerks. The glories are still going strong in the front of the house along the porch trellis and on the side along our storm cellar counterweight. Last year we planted another set of glory seeds in the south bed. My favorite aspect of them is their color change from one day to the next. They’re like little Christmas presents.

The array of glory colors from this year.

This year we decided to experiment a bit with what we put into these beds. Up front went a Shasta daisy, some marigolds, and some gorgeous little pansies. The side beds had to take more shade tolerant flowers, so we put in impatiens, a couple of ferns, white wax begonias, wood phlox, wave petunias, a foxglove (because why not?), calibrachoas, and dianthus. Most of these were rescued from the clearance racks of various garden centers, which makes them extra awesome. This bed brought a lot of butterfly and bee activity into the garden.

Pansies and marigolds up front.
First half of the south bed in June.
Second half of the south bed in June.
Planters just after initial setup.

Earlier this year Brian built a set of cedar planters for us so we could expand our container garden on the driveway. We have two vertical for tomatoes and bell peppers, and one horizontal for onions and carrots. They’ve been hugely successful and provided the ingredients for quite a few meals since he set them up. They’re really pretty and have made the driveway look a thousand percent better, especially in conjunction with the smaller planters around them. 

He also made me the most amazing garden cart in the history of garden carts. Look at this thing!

Best. Garden cart. Ever.

The smaller planters include our herb garden: three large pots of garlic chives, a pot of dill, a pot of basil, and what has become a ginormous spearmint bush. Around those he arranged two long planters of purple wave petunias, and two smaller planters of verbena and dianthus. Those lovely red daisies are also going gangbusters these days (thanks, Chark!).

Herbs and planters in full bloom, mid-June.

We were pleasantly surprised at how well the petunias, verbena, and dianthus have done in those small planters. They’re especially enjoying the current weather, blooming in full splendor every morning.

Small planters just after 8:00 this morning.

And, in a giant pot all its own along the driveway fence is a Japanese honeysuckle, because honeysuckle is the loveliest scent on the entire planet. While preparing all this Brian found a squirrel-planted pecan that had taken root in one of our petunia planters, so we decided to give it its own pot and let it grow (see pic above, left side of the onion planter). Like the honeysuckle, we’ll take it with us when we buy a house. Some things are just too cool to leave behind.

Pink lemonade calibrachoa!

I can’t talk about the garden without mentioning how we manage to keep it alive during the never-ending draught we’ve been stuck in. Brian came up with this idea a couple of years ago: rain barrels. He started with one, hooking it to the gutter drain and (ingeniously in my opinion) to the condensation dripping from our air conditioning unit. That drip line has probably provided more water than rainfall over the past few summers. This year he added two barrels to our system, which allows us to catch more water when it does rain and to pump water from the condensate barrel to the others when it doesn’t. We hand water everything from these barrels, which lets us save money and community water. Win!

Honestly, I can take very little credit for the lovely state of our garden this year. All I did was choose a few plants. Brian did all the work setting it up and has done all of the work maintaining it over another dry, awful summer. The next time you see him out and about, give him a high five. He deserves it!

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This post was supposed to appear last week and it was supposed to be about our garden, but I got a bit derailed. As I was preparing the photo fest to accompany the garden explanation on Monday, a friend messaged me with awful news. Her boss, his wife, and their daughter had been murdered in their home over the weekend. I had also worked for this family back in 2007 and saw them around town all the time. They were good to me. They were good people. I didn’t know what had happened, but I was certain they didn’t deserve it. For the rest of the day I sat here hitting the refresh button on breaking news pages hoping to learn more.

When we heard the truth a tense couple of days later, we were horrified. The couple’s 19-year-old son had come home from college and shot them. He confessed he wanted money and figured he’d be the sole heir to the estate if they were all dead. Processing this was surprisingly difficult for me. We weren’t super close, but I knew these people: all four of them. We spent a good chunk of time together over the summer I worked at their newspaper. From that vantage point I saw solid parents who provided for and loved their kids, but didn’t spoil them. They were just a good local family.

And I still think of them that way. As more details are released and the public learns about the problems the family had with their son, tongues have started to wag. Ridiculous statements of “Oh, I wasn’t at all surprised,” and “How could they not see the warning signs?” are flowing freely on social media. Accusations of spoiling the children and not being religious enough have been thrown around as well. This behavior sucks. It’s easy to sit back now and say that someone should have done something, but we weren’t behind closed doors with this family. We don’t know what they went through trying to help this kid, and I’m absolutely sure they did try.

Normally when something dreadful happens, I feel better when I know why it happened. For the first time, this isn’t the case. Knowing I’ll never see them again bugs me, especially with the guilt from not realizing what they were dealing with back then. Could I have done something to prevent what happened? Most likely not, but I’ll always wonder. And all the hateful, judgmental blathering of the uninvolved doesn’t help. So, for the social media pundits who have everyone else’s families figured out, I share this advice from my late grandmother.

You’re welcome to think whatever you want. You’re also welcome to keep your mouth shut.

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Stuff and Things

Okay, two things: (1) holy crap, it’s already October and (2) I’m feeling updatey. While celebrating the former, because we are so over these summer temperatures that won’t go away, I feel like the beginning of October is a good time to stop and take a look at where we are. Also, this update is part of my ongoing effort to get stuff out more quickly. The amount of time I take to put these things together is just appalling to me, so I’m training myself to remember that nothing is ever perfect and not all content has to be earth shattering. So here are the current goings-on in Harpyville and other things that are important to me at the moment.

The post-surgical timeline is cruising along pretty well, all things considered. My innards still get sore at odd times of the day and I still get tired stupid easy, but I’m improving. A few weeks ago a hideous amalgamation of strep throat and the Cold from Hell moved in and slowed me down considerably. It also completely screwed up my fitness goals for the year, but we can move those forward. There’s plenty of time to add cycling distance before the weather gets too cold, and then we can move back into the gym. At this point I’ll just be glad to stop feeling like semi-sentient Jello.

Talking about recovery makes me think about what caused the need for it. We’re now six months out from the loss, and Bunzilla would have been due on the 26th. Getting to sleep has been a challenge every night for the past few months thanks to the surreal games of What Could Have Been that my brain likes to play when the sun goes down. These games have intensified as that date draws near. They also like to hit while I’m out grocery shopping, which is really annoying. So far I’ve managed not to have a meltdown in public, but it’s been close. Something tells me Halloween is going to be extra weird this year.


Secret bonus flower!

Work has been patchy over the past year, which was a blessing when I needed time off for health and then something to keep my traitorous brain occupied. A new possibility is on the horizon and it would be a welcome addition to current gigs. I’ve also been easing into a new routine to get more writing done for you lovely people and to be more productive each day. Brian has been helping me a lot with this, both by example (seriously, he’s awesome) and with ideas for stuff to tackle. You’ll be seeing some interesting projects here in the nearish future.

My garden has been the main benefit of our bipolar weather. I have to stop and take pictures almost every morning because the flowers are blooming riotously and changing color with each bloom. Yesterday we discovered we even have a secret bonus flower growing beneath one of our bird feeders. I was a bit surprised to see a morning glory that far from the house, let alone blooming after getting mowed last week, but there it was. Between the planters he built and the natural beds he cultivated, Brian has built me the prettiest garden in town this year. It makes me happy every time I go outside.

I realize this update is a bit all over the place, but it’s an accurate account of me at the moment. I’ve never had anything that could be described as a “train of thought.” My process looks more like a kid playing Frogger because the connections don’t make sense to anyone else. That’s a subject for another post, though. It’s time to go walk in the garden and feed our uppity blue jays.

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