Monday, May 20, 2013

When In Fear Of A Dog Bite Always Buy Pink Roses

The face of a guilty dog.

A dog that intends to bite does not bear its teeth.  Turkish Proverb

If I had read this proverb two days ago, I might not have bought more pink roses for my yard. But Bertha showed me her teeth and I went out on a spree.

I think in reality the rain had gotten to all of us. Me, Bertha, and the other five hounds. I saw more teeth this week because of dog boredom. Teeth not in my direction, but my normally well behaved pups got testy with each other. Then a set of pearly whites did gleam at me.

It was raining again and the only thing to do was take a nap. The old cantankerous Annabelle was asleep on the bed. I tried to crawl in next to her and she refused to budge. Then Bertha flew into the room, jumped in the air, and landed smack dab on Annabelle's front paws. That woke Annabelle up, who proceeded to snarl at Bertha. A mean snarl that said "don't do that again if you know what is good for you."

Bertha cowered by the pillow. I was amazed she didn't growl back. I was pleased she was learning her manners. Bertha was the last dog to come to the pack and her social progress was slow.

Within minutes the room was full of dogs. It doesn't help I cry out "dog party" as they all make their way to my king-size bed. We snuggled down for a nap, the rain pounding on the roof,  the sound of it dripping against the window was a sad reminder it was time to clean the gutters.

Chloe my seven pound Chi was under the quilt when I turned and squashed her. She did not take it kindly and poked her head out to let me know she was quite annoyed. I ignored her. After all, she is only seven pounds. No matter how sinister she tries to be, I can only smile. She twirled around and scooted back under the quilt.

Bertha sat up and started to shake her head. I had been worried she might have an ear infection earlier in the week. The movement she made only convinced me I was right.

"Come on, girl!" I eased off the bed and she moved to follow me. She stepped on Chloe under the quilt, mashed Annabelle's paw again, and bumped into Rascal as she jumped to the floor. Three dog heads shot up, but they kept silent. April and Bray were unfazed. Does that add up to six dogs?

I reached over to Bertha's head and touched her ear. She winced and growled at me. Her teeth were close to my hand, her eyes looked at me for an instant, then she dropped her head in shame.

For that nano second I saw her teeth I panicked. Her nose flew up and she smelled my fear. Then she became contrite. She did nothing more than any of my other dogs would do if I'd grabbed an ear that hurt them. But because Bertha is still an unknown it worried me more than I liked.

Between the rain and my concern over Bertha my day felt bleak. I put on my jeans, grabbed the car keys and headed out. I drove around the shopping center and passed Kroger.  In the grey drizzle of rain I saw a soft pink. Roses.

I couldn't park my car fast enough. Did I need more roses? Is that a question a rose lover would ask. There are never enough roses.

I purchased three rose bushes at Kroger and gently placed them in my van. The sun did not come out, but my mood elevated back to its normal happy self.

My little cottage garden is filling up. The roses will be planted in the next few days. I am waiting for the sun to shine so I can find the best spot for them. I've already planted roses by my picket fence.

In the meantime, I placed the roses by the front window, next to the old tin girl and cow that was my sign at the shop. It may be the decoration over my awning later this month, up high on my roof line. For now, it looks lovely framed by roses.

The dogs were happy to see me as I entered the house. I uncrated Bertha and she butted me with her head. Her thick muzzle had the velvet feel of a horse's mouth. She pranced over to the sofa, jumped up and rolled over on her back. Belly rubs were called for. She has an appointment with the vet for her ear on Tuesday.

I love my dogs. I love my roses. Simple pleasures.  Roses have thorns that will prick you if you are not careful. And just maybe a dog with a tender ear will bear its teeth if you touch it wrong.

Life lessons learned and a great excuse to buy roses for my yard.  While I am still waiting for the sun to shine my life is full of light.

Kroger. Could you drive by and not stop?

The companion next to me on the car seat.

More roses on the front seat.

Waiting patiently.

My old shop sign.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Don't Count Your Chickens Before They Hatch

My hen's nest on the fence leading to the patio.

     I now have a hen's nest hanging on my fence to remind me to take a breath before I hatch an idea. My dreams are always way ahead of my reality. I've never gotten the answer to what came first, the chicken or the egg? So I do things out of order. Some days I run around like a chicken with its head cut off. An example is my latest purchase. Money spent for something I didn't need. My nest egg is pretty much gone with my silly spending. But I don't worry too much. I've learned to keep my sunny side up.
     The purchase came about because of two words. 'Urban Farming'. The phrase is so hot, you could fry an egg on it. Friends of mine in metro Atlanta have hens in their back yard and fresh eggs for breakfast. I didn't want to be left with egg on my face, I wanted to be part of the movement. The cottage in my mind could be a tiny city farm. I decided I'd have chickens too.
     Another idea that could label me a bird brain.
     I drove home from a day of shopping in Monroe, Georgia, with a huge old hen house in the back of the van. I strutted my stuff into the driveway and unloaded my vehicle, only then realizing how large the hen's nest was. I had to drag it across the driveway up to my privacy fence by the patio. Since I was no spring chicken, I huffed and puffed until I got it in place. The sound of metal grating on concrete ruffled my feathers. It also alerted the pack of hounds I was home. Six dogs howled from the kitchen wanting out in the yard.
     It was at that moment I realized I'd laid an egg. My grand idea was not everything it was cracked up to be. How would I have chickens in a yard that was full of dogs? I felt like a dumb cluck.
     There was no sense to brood over it.
     Quit your squawking! I chided myself.
     While I couldn't have an urban farm, I could decorate farm style..
     My ideas had a pecking order.
     I set about to feather my nest.
     First I hung the hen's nest on the fence wall that leads to my patio. It won't hold chickens, but I can plant flowers in it.
     That made me as happy as a rooster in a hen house.
     Next I pulled an old peaches sign from the pile of things to go to my shop and hung it by my front door.
I was fussin like an old hen with my decorating ideas.
     There is one final egg in my basket, but I will surprise you with it later, after a bit more work is done on the place.
     Yes, this is a bit of a cock and bull story, but I am excited about my farm accents and feel I have something to crow about!
     Next time I worry I've jumped into something too quickly and the sky is falling, I'll remember what Oscar Wilde said: "People who count their chickens before they are hatched, act very wisely, because chickens run about so absurdly that it is impossible to count them accurately."
      Perhaps going off half cocked is not such a bad idea after all!

Farm style peaches sign. Old and rusty. Perfect by my front door.

The original lady chicken farmer - a romantic notion for sure in her white dress.

Waiting for a Margarita!

Friday, May 10, 2013

I Can See Clearly Now ...Revisiting My Back Yard


On April 25, I posted about my back yard nightmare! You can visit the post here. The back of my house was a jungle I didn't know how to tame. Several years of neglect sprouted small trees and Privet in all my beds. What you can't see here is the tall wrought iron garden cart to the left and the five foot tall iron angel to the right.


Well take another look now!

In my book The Unfaithful Widow I talk about my garden. It is a garden full of memories more than one I plant in each year. Some of those memories were uncovered yesterday with the help of two great workers. A tree service I've used before came to clean my roof and gutters and get my yard back to where I can work in it again. There is still much to do, but a great start don't you think?


My vintage garden angel taller than I am.

There she is, my angel Anne, named for my late husband's cousin. She left here a year after he did. I found this angel at an antique store and knew I would always remember her when I looked at it. She has been hidden too long! Morning, I heard her voice in a soft whisper that brushed past me when I took this photo earlier. She was a psychic so you never know!

Garden cart and trellis topped with a huge rose bush ready to bloom!

The tall garden cart came from the Atlanta Botanical Gardens gift shop when I worked there part-time my first year alone. It was black, but a coat of pink paint made it perfect for a cottage garden. The back wood trellis was built by my husband over twenty-five years ago. Both are covered in roses that are ready to bloom. The bush came from a small plant purchased at the grocery store, grew out of control in its pot and was transplanted into the garden. With all the neglect, it comes back and blooms every year. Now I can see it! Look for photos when my roses take off.

Brace yourself for the next change. It gives me the willies actually, but everyone says Crepe Myrtles grow back. The one in my center back yard was cut back to the nubbins! I cringe on that, but it will be beautiufl again. Down my street the county has done the same with all the Crepe Myrtles that bloom there. I see new sprouts on them and it has only been two weeks since they were chopped down! My butterfly bushes grew into the top of the Crepe Myrtle, now are trimmed back and shaped. I can see the side chain link fence. The dogs love the freedome to run through the beds now! I feel like the world can peek in my yard and see me. Actually, beyond the fence is the rest of my property and a right-of-way that goes down to a creek. Visually it is so open now I feel exposed but there is a huge buffer between me and my neighbor!


After. Ouch!

Bray can't hide in the butterfly bushes anymore!

A few more after shots of the yard!

Another Crepe Myrtle trimmed painfully. Trellis built by my husband many years ago. Remains of a David Austin rose bush by bottom window. One tiny pink bud on it! I bought that rose from a catalog as many years ago as the trellis was built and on occassion it blooms. It is amazing to me it is still alive.

Annabelle checks out the yard from my deck.

Annabelle prefers the view from the patio. She is my oldest dog (as in age) and the second rescue dog I adopted.

The Lady Of Lilburn has a clear view now that the Privet has been cut away. Small statues in the bed by the pea gravel patio are for Foxy and Jake, my old German Shepherds that lived a great life.

Another old iron piece in the yard and doesn't everyone need a plastic Flamingo, this one faded from the sun. End of the bed with the pink cart facing the outbuildings.

Rosemary for Remembrance
My Garden of Memories will bloom this year!

I see a party in the future! Perhaps I too am a psychic.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

My Kitchen - A Pinch Of This And A Dash Of That...The Perfect Recipe

The end of my kitchen a month ago.

     The end of my kitchen has held many different antiques over the years. Two years ago I put the old paint mantel against the wall. It gives a bit of character. My heart stood still when I found it at a favorite shop. Someone painted the flowers, but the black paint is old and chippy. The gateleg table and Victorian folding chairs came in last fall when I needed a spot for my Italian exchange student to grab breakfast before school. Now that she is gone, the room seemed crowded. The old green roll-up shade was there when we bought the house almost thirty years ago. I think it held ten year's worth of dust.
     My biggest beef with the kitchen was a huge fluorescent  light that dominated the ceiling. It did give out great light, but it was full of dead bugs most days. I couldn't lift the cover off by myself, so night after night I looked up and saw bugs fly in to the light and fry.

Old ceiling light.

Other end of the kitchen. Ceiling fan was nice, but brass, I changed for one in chrome 

curtains and new ceiling light

new ceiling fan

The baker's table that got me in trouble! Sweet old robins egg blue paint chairs.
All came from Davis Street Antiques in Monroe, Ga.

      With limited funds, I opted to change the feel of the room with a new ceiling fixture and fan – both in chrome. I put in the faux tin ceiling tile backsplash behind the stove and across the back of the sink. My handyman took care of repairing the holes in the ceiling from the old fixture and then put up a new coat of crisp white paint. I plan to repaint the walls and doors white to make the room sparkle.
     The green shade came down, replaced with a Martha Stewart chrome curtain rod for under $30. My valance is a long curtain turned lengthwise. It came from the thrift store for $1.99. A matching valance is over the kitchen door.
     The light fixture and fan came in at about $60 each at Home Depot. The back splash under $30.
     My big splurge was the old baker's table with pale blueish-green paint and an old zinc top for $225 and two chippy old blue chairs that cost $39 for the pair. I think the room has an English cottage feel to it.
I rarely cook, but I love my old cottage furniture. You can tell where I put my dollars!   Below is my kitchen now. Still waiting a coat of cottage white paint.


Monday, May 6, 2013

A Picket Fence Needs Roses, Don't You Agree?

      A funny thing happened on my trip to the hardware store. I walked in with a fluorescent light bulb to return and left with a truck full of rose bushes and soil. In an odd way, it was a good way to start work on the bed by my picket fence.
     The light bulb sat in my van's front seat for a week. Each time I started to return it, I ended up someplace else. Antique shops, dinner with friends, the grocery store. Anything, and everything, seemed more fun than a return trip to the hardware store. The bulb cost $9.99. Did I really care about a refund? The fixture I bought it for had long since died. I didn't realize it didn't work until I put my new bulb in. Maybe I could use it when I replaced the old light. But fluorescent bulbs don't just tuck in anywhere for later, they are long, and fragile. Sick of looking at it in my front seat, I decided today was the day of action.
     Who knew my timing was right for an unexpected pleasure!
     Rain sprinkled on my face as I got out of my van. I looked ahead at the garden area. Rows of roses, all colors, stared back at me. In the misty, grey air, they looked magical. I pulled open the large glass door and walked into the hardware store.
     “Need to return this light bulb.” I smiled at the girl at the register. “Here's my receipt.”
     “Got it!” She punched some keys and handed me a pen. “Just sign here. Can I help you with anything else.”
     “Those roses are wonderful outside. Think I'll just take a peek at them.” I laughed. She looked at me as if to say whatever.
     “I have a new picket fence. Don't you think roses would be lovely planted by it?”
     “They can help you in the garden area.” She was not excited with my idle chatter, but that has never stopped me before.
     “Heading there now. Bet I spend more money than what I just got credit for.” I chuckled knowing full well it was do or die today. I needed to do this while I was inspired. If I didn't buy roses now, I wouldn't buy them at all this season. The cool rain made it all seem possible. My tax refund check would cover my costs. I didn't realize just how perfect my timing would be. But I would soon find out.
     Two weekends ago I was at a garden tour. I talked to a master gardener from England and exclaimed how much I wanted roses by my fence. She was a bit haughty with her reply.
     “Roses are perfect if you are in Britain. And I wouldn't plant anything except annuals now. Wait until the fall when the air is cooler. The root structure will be more hardy then. Now you'll have to water.”
      It was raining that day too. Water didn't seem to be an issue this month. I couldn't wait until fall. My fence needed something lovely now.
     “What's in that wagon?” I trailed behind a tall, lanky, man working in the garden area. The leaves looked like little rose leaves to me. 
     “Roses. Moving them to the back area.” He kept pulling the wagon and I trailed behind him.
     “I want some roses to plant by my new picket fence. Just don't have a clue what to buy.” I knew there were new roses that were quite hardy and old roses that smelled divine. I didn't know the difference, and had not cared until I walked into the hardware store.
      He stopped and smiled at me. A nice kind smile. He wasn't laughing at me yet. “So what are you looking for?”
     “Real roses. I don't think I want to put fake flowers down by the fence, but I did see a lovely tall artificial bush at the antique shop last week.” I laughed hoping he would realize I was kidding.
     “No way.  Let me show you what we have. Who is going to plant them for you?'
      I knew it wouldn't be me. The ground were the fence went in was full of old roots from large bushes my handyman took down. Gardening was not on his work agenda either.
       I don't know. Do you know someone?”
       “Well, I do gardening and landscape design sometimes after I leave here. Maybe I could help.”
       I didn't hesitate. “What do you charge and can you do it this week? I think the rain should stop by Friday.”
      We struck a deal and I started to pick out my roses. Pink, pink, pink, red. I lined them up in front of me.
      “Well, it's your garden, but I'm not sure of the colors. Also, you need to do odd numbers, three, five, so you can space them. Not four in a row.”
      The young woman working across from us, spoke up.
     “He's right. You could mix the colors, not so much pink. This is a white climbing rose.” She held out a pot with a beautiful bloom. “Maybe you could do pink, yellow, white, red. Place three on one side of your drive, and the climber on the other side. Don't mind me, I heard you talk about the fence.”
      Based on their suggestions, I bought a mixture of colors.
     “You'll need some soil too if that ground needs to be worked.”
     “It's pretty horrible. How much should I get.”
      We went over to the soil and decided on three bags.
     “You know, I am off the clock in a minute. Let me load all this in my truck and follow you home. That way I can see where to come on Friday and get a better idea of the area. It does get sun, doesn't it?”
     “Just the area by the driveway. Further down the Crepe Myrtles, and other trees, pretty much block it out.”
     I went in and paid for my roses and dirt. He was waiting in his truck, everything loaded, when I got out. We headed to my house, which was less than two miles from the hardware shop.
     “Great fence. The roses will be beautiful with it. Good choice.”
      He unloaded everything and dropped it up at the end of my driveway.
     “I don't want to tell you what to do, but you need to cut that ivy growing on your trees. It will kill the trees.”
     “Someone else told me that a few years ago. I just haven't gotten around to it.”
     “I'll take care of it Friday too. Just cut the ivy around the base of the tree and the rest will die off.”
      The roses and dirt were next to my hen house (that's a story for later). I saw this as a photo op.
     “Mind if I take your picture with the roses? I'm writing about all the work on my house for my blog.”
      His laugh was pretty hardy. “Only one!” Then he struck a pose.
     “So, Friday is good?”
      “I'll call you early and should be here by nine.”
      He backed his truck out of my drive and waved as he spun it around on the street and took off.
      Life always takes me by surprise. I love that! Who would have thought a fluorescent bulb would light the path to bring a garden angel to my house.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Rainy Day Pink

Available on Etsy. Link HERE

Pink with Audrey. A cure for the blues.

It's another dreary, cold, rainy day in May. Rain, rain, go away..... I need the sun. I worry about puddles.

All kinds.

My dogs refuse to go out. We know where that leads.

Has my basement filled with water again? My handyman started the French drain, it is a huge deep cavernous hole to be completed when the sun dries it out. Another setback with today's weather.  I see it filling with water, emptying into the front downstairs room. He says it will channel the water from the house, even in the state it is in. I am in a state of denial.

We'll see. That's all I'm saying.....

And my brain is mush from dampness in the air.

But then I came across this poster on Etsy. It made me smile. You can't be sad surrounded by pink. I love the saying too. I have kisses galore from six dogs housebound and cuddly on my couch. They make me laugh every time they wiggle. Perhaps I am burning calories! I am strong, I've survived the widow word and come out on my happy side. Tomorrow is another day, rain rain go away...

Today the pack and I will stay dry. It will be a great day. I am in the pink. My pink ceiling tins came in yesterday's mail. I have bought more pink for my house. I've spent money I shouldn't have to buy things I couldn't live without. Does that make me out of my mind decorating the cottage in my mind? My recent purchases. What do you think?

One of 10 antique old pink paint tin ceiling tiles that came from Ebay.

From an old Victorian house. Five feet wide and 29" tall. Headboard perhaps?

 Old pink paint dresser and mirror. Tin pulls old white paint. So sweet. Waiting for me to pick up in Statham, Georgia and bring home!

Instead of worrying about French drains today, I believe I'll dream of Paris. I wonder if I should Google French cottages? I do believe in miracles. It is a miracle I am not crazy yet!

 Available on Etsy. Link HERE