Sunday, 22 July 2012

We Are What We Watch!

Now that I live 1300 miles from home, I appreciate my family more than I ever did when they were just next door. Thank goodness for mobile phones! These days at least I can stay in touch. What wonderful sisters I have!! They are funny, talented and fun to be with. I really do miss them now that I live so far away.

 I've been thinking a lot about them, what makes us what we are and how our environment forms us. We are all so different even though we are clearly cut from the same genetic cloth.

Ours was the first big television generation and it shows. I can spend hours talking to my sisters about old Star Trek, Dark Shadows or Gilligan's Island episodes and when all else fails we exchange unforgettable quotes from favorite Saturday afternoon mvies like The Ghost and Mr Chicken (which must have played on afternoon tv about once every three months while we were growing up.) Gentle reader, you are probably poo-pooing this idea, but to quote our favorite film, "You don't seem to realize the cosmic importance of this!"

When I think about my elegant corporate attorney sister (dubbed the Drycleaning Aunt - DCA) I think about what we used to love to watch on TV. Back then T.V. seemed magical. It was a mystery that you could beam stories across the air waves and we treasured our moments in front of the tiny, snowy screen. There is no doubt in my mind that we were highly influenced by those early television shows and Elegant, Corporate Sister will always remind me of ...

I love Lucy. It's not that this sister has blue eyes or red hair. (They were black and white in those days anyway.)  She had Lucy's beautiful curly locks and her wide-eyed interest in the world.

This picture (above) reminds me SO much of DCA and this sister grew up to resemble Lucy in so many ways.  She takes part in bridge night with her friends, she loves to travel and she is definitely a Friend of the Friendless. Of course she also adores chocolate in a preternatural way.

She (incorrectly) thinks that she sings like Lucy, when she has a wonderful voice! More importantly, DCA wanted to work and did not want a husband to tell her what she could or could not do, so she married a wonderful man, who respects her choices and supports her in every way. (In this sense she learned from Lucy's negative example.) These are all defining characteristics. DCA grew up, strong, independent, funny and glamorous.

As we aged of course our television models changed and we were influenced by other shows. We matured and my sister became much more like...

Murphy Brown. Both Ms. Brown and my sister are professional, incisive, hold strong opinions and have become important and respected persons. They rant about the idiots and injustices of the world and speak truth to authority. They are inspirational.

My Other Sister reminds me of many of the heroines we watched on early television comedies. It was hard to choose just one probable role model. At first I thought of comparing her to...

Ann Marie. I suspect not too many people remember this quirky little show with Marlo Thomas playing an amazingly perspicacious but still oblivious and sunny young woman with a huge personality. So I am passing over That Girl, as much as I adore her, to settle on a character that truly reminds me of "Other Sister."When you think of her warmth, her great sense of humor and perfect style you think of..

Laura Petrie. The Pimster (as we sometimes call her) is svelte, beautiful and extremely talented. She doesn't dance like Laura; her talent lies in taking wonderful, crazy photographs and writing and she is a wonderful mother, who can find the humor in any situation. She was always the Belle of the ball, though and others find her adorable.

This picture (below) reminds me of her.

To me it describes her attitude towards life - one of humor, amazement, even bemused incredulity.

As we grew older the role models changed and so we looked to other shows to help us in our evolutions. In thinking back to what we watched, I immediately peceived my sister in terms of The Bionic Woman.  Pimstress has had to have some major operations to improve her health. She has had an organ transplant and is almost constantly on the run. I don't know how she does it, but she is the most active person I know - scheduled from morning until night! She is like Superwoman. I can just hear her saying: "That's right, karate... made my whole body a weapon." Still, Jaime Sommers lacks the humor and warmth characteristic of my sister. I feel there is someone else that better characterizes her.

That character is one that has matured, but still has verve and panache and a desire to learn and explore. It seems obvious that she would remind me of...

Mary Richards. Maybe Pimster would not approve of this choice, but she reminds me of Mary because she bravely moved to a whole new state to become a writer. I can just see her trying to toss one of her wide-brimmed hats up into the California air and twirling around while the beads of sweat go flying off into the environs. Pimster was so committed to finding herself and her vocation! To quote Luther, "When you work with words, words are your work." (Atta boy, Luther!) The Piminatress strove for independence then as she does now, and learned to maneuver a strange and difficult world all on her own while retaining modesty and kindness.  On a daily basis she shows that a woman can make it on her own and have a wonderful fulfilling life without a man. The roots and talents of Laura Petrie are still there along with the compassion and independence of Mary from The Mary Tyler Moore Show.
Ah yes, and the third sister ? (I guess that would be me.) What character from those early t.v. days influenced my growth and values? So many of the very earliest shows did not give women much of a chance to develop in other than domestic ways and honestly I have to admit that I am not terribly domestic. What women out there were not Mom's to kids like Beaver, Mary and Jeff or Little Ritchie? At first it was hard not to think of...

Jeannie. Her irremedial desire to please and her inability to do anything right certainly resonate with me, and I just have to wonder whether my interests in middle eastern dance didn't originate somehow with her and Major Nelson. Nonetheless, after much contemplation, the character I finally settled on was...


Samantha from Bewitched. I never particularly loved this character, but I watched the show (ir)religiously and I have to admit there are quite a few similarities between the witchy one and myself. I can not change things magically the way Samantha could (but most of the time she couldn't quite get it right anyway and that is definitely one of the things I can identify with most!) I love my husband, but no matter how I try, I just can't manage being the obedient wife and I somehow end up in situations that he probably wouldn't approve of ... and (...ahem...) he may not always hear about. I mean well, I really do! I'm just different and it is hard to adjust to living in the regular world. I hate meddling neighbors and although in some ways I may resemble Endora more than Samantha, there is no doubt that the sense of not quite fitting in has formed and informed my personality.

 As I age, I think of other characters that might have influenced what I have become. I adored Linda Kelsey's character in Lou Grant. Her naive idealism and desire to fight for principles really appeals to me, but probably doesn't represent my more mature self.

Or it might be appropriate to think that a young witch would grow into an older one (although no one is really "older" on television!!)


But aside from a similar taste in style, the Evil Queen is probably not that much of a match. I think that there is another character that fits me better.

And of course there is always

Lilith Stern. How can anyone not adore her matter-of-factness and intellectual strength? With the years, I get more cynical and less willing to suffer nonsense. Yup, that's me telling the world, "Why don't you run up an alley and holler fish?!"  She's really to recent however to have been a major influence.

Back when my sisters and I watched tv together, none of the older crones got to have their own show. (Come to think of it, they still don't and it is certainly high time!!) Nancy Marchand was great in Lou Grant, but she didn't get much air time.  I love Martha Rodgers (Castle's Mom) for her ease with her age and her creative spark, but she wasn't around back then to influence me in my formative years.

I think, the person from that time period that fits me best is probably...

Charles Kingston from The Paper Chase. I think, like Professor Kingston, I am demanding and no nonsense in my approach to the world. I recognize, that it is time to leave it to the younger to make the world a better place, but of course trying to help them find a way to do so is an important job too. Of course these days such attitudes are not respected. Students want to study with Mr Rogers, not Mr. Chips.

In short, I think those shows have influenced us in our beliefs about what is good and bad and have played an important role in what we have become. They have left an indelible mark upon us and our personalities, a mark which will probably never fade or be removed, even if we use Bon Ami! Like Luther in The Ghost and Mr. Chicken, we may not choose our circumstances, we may have our detractors and supporters, but we carry on the best we can, we hold onto our values and with a little luck and humor, we may actually be able to figure it all out in the end. Atta boy, Luther!

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Cheaper Than Heroin

But twice the fun! Well, MAYBE cheaper than heroin. I'm a little afraid to add it all up.  I'm actually starting to wonder if I have a little problem. My sister has been suggesting there might be a twelve step program somewhere I need to join.  I didn't buy any plants today, not really. Well, actually, I did buy a little one - well no, not a little one - but only one, so it doesn't count, right? (And yeah, I actually did go to a nursery - but I left EMPTY HANDED!! (Come to think of it I went to two nurseries today, but I bought mulch and concrete pavers at the second one and I only got that one teeny, tiny, little ten gallon hibiscus plant - OKAY!! It was a TREE( but.... it was on sale. )

So all that steely will power should count for something, after all, bushes and conifers were 40% off! So I was very temperate today  ... except ... sigh, I also got some plants I ordered in the mail, so I guess I'll start tomorrow over at day one.

But yes, there has been more progress in the garden. With the pavers I began to encircle the new raised circular bed. I think this garden is turning out pretty nicely.

It (Garden R on the Plan) definitely looks better with the edge around it, although as you can see I don't have enough pavers for the second row, so (GASP) I'm going to have to go back to the Garden Center. (I know you think I intentionally bought an insufficient quantity just so I could once again descend into the den of iniquity, but I honestly had no idea how many pavers I would need to complete the circle. I forgot to get batteries anyway, so I'll pick some up along with whatever trees and bushes manage to jump into my cart next time around.)

I also spent a bit of time weeding the second level of the Tier garden (Garden G). It had begun to look pretty wild and although I didn't do a terribly thorough job, I pulled out most of the grass and some of the strawberries that had jumped from the upper (3rd) level. You'll scoff, I know, when I say I didn't have enough plants to fill this tier, but I did do a fairly good job of scrounging. I transplanted some daisies from the front yard and some purple phlox that had somehow rudely shown up in the red and white garden.There's just no such thing as an exclusive club anymore, is there?

There were a few balsam plants that had reseeded from last year and I was able to move some of those over and then all 8 remaining annuals from my big spree went in the front area to try and add some color.  I swiped a little bit of lamb's ear from the woodland garden and will hope that these smaller specimens will fill in a bit by next year. (I also set a couple of pots of annuals in the bed to give a little height and to try and fill the void.) It isn't perfect, but it looks quite a bit better (and customer appreciation day is coming up at my local nursery, so there is always hope for a new supply of recruits!)

There were some day lilies left over from better years and as you see from this side shot the addition of mulch makes it look like a real garden. (Notice I cut off the right side of the picture where the untouched wild strawberries prowl.)

I have to admit, I think I am powerless. Grant me the serenity to accept what I cannot change! Do you think I should make a list of all the plants I've harmed? I am perfectly willing to make amendments to the soil. Gosh, I'd better get back over to that nursery right away!

Monday, 16 July 2012

My Garden Plans

So I've been redoing my yard a bit as I adjust gardens and move things around.

Here is the basic plan:

I'll now try to include pictures of some of the various gardens labeled above.

Garden A :
This garden lines the south side of the driveway. It is a very long gardenscape and consists of alternating hostas, iris and day lilies with some dusty miller (and this year some white petunias interspersed between the perennials.

Garden B: North side of the yard and drive. It is also very long (This is the Eastern and shaded part - but it stretches all the way down to the end of the drive.)

Garden C (The East part of the Drive garden):

Here is a shot of the whole garden. (And you can see the driveway in the background.)

 Garden D:  These are early Spring pictures, but at least it gives a sense of what is there:

Garden E:

This is the shade garden in the front of the house (There are also a bunch of annuals I bought in front so this isn't a terribly accurate image.


Here is a shot during the golden hour.

 Garden F: One of the weakest. It is very shady on the west side of the house and in the past nothing much has wanted to grow there. I finally decided to put in some hostas and ferns and they are slowly beginning to take hold:


Garden G: This is what we call the Tiergarden. It has four levels or tiers and each is slightly different (although the strawberries seem to have taken over the middle two tiers. There are pink day lilies of differing kinds in each of the four tiers. The bottom tier is the best looking at present and the top has many variegated Heliochrysus and some cat mint.

This is the bottom level of the Tiergarden. 

And one more shot of the entire Tiergarden:

 Garden H: The Pink garden on the west side of the lawn.  Unfortunately the rose and several other perennials have stopped blooming and the mums and phlox have not yet begun to bloom. This is not its most exciting moment!

Garden I: (The Japanese lantern garden):

Garden J: The south side of the house. I had to redo this garden because they dug up the oil tank right there.

 Garden K:  This is the east side of the house - It tends to be extremely dry and it has taken me a long time to find anything that would grow here. (Basically I started with the red and burgundy iris that were overrunning the driveway because I didn't care if I lost them and then added sedum. Yesterday I added soemwhite petunias and so far all is well in the garden.

 Garden L: A non-exciting garden at the front of the house in deep shade.  It has hostas, epimedium and ferns.

Garden M: Japanese garden (with pump Garden in front):


Here is the Japanese style garden with the Oribe lantern.

This is gardens N (left) and Q (right) from a distance.

 Garden O : From a distance (which also gives a sense of the scale of the yard.) It is hiding behind the pear trees.

Garden P: The peonies. I've ignored this garden and at some point will redo it, but for now it is low on the list.

 Garden R: This is the newest and smallest garden. There was an oak that got hit in a storm and so we have made a bed in the mound left by the tree. I hope the plants will grow and not be disturbed by toxins from the oak. I want to add a retaining wall around it since it is mounded.

Garden S:
I am not going to include the rectangular vegetable garden, but in the back is a forgotten (as in neglected Yellow garden.) It is wild, but still blooms as you can see in this recent photo:

Garden T:  The woodland  Garden based on a magazine picture. It is supposed to have spires of white (Sangisorba), ruby gallardia, silver echinops, lambs ear and pinks. I've added a near white daylily, but somehow the garden has never quite come together (and I can't keep the Gallardia alive.

Herb Garden (V?)
Unlabelled (because it is off the map on the west).