another gardening update

An image such as this hydrangea in mid-bloom is what makes gardening so satisfying for me.  The other plants look much the same right now, so this will be an image light gardening post.

One of the three unknown hops has surpassed the cascade.  Of the four varieties of hops we have, we only can identify the cascade.  This unknown vine has shot up past ten feet, up to 123″ to be precise.

My blueberries and strawberries from last year have been doing tremendously well in Virginia’s humid climate.  From our small plants, we have been harvesting two nice sized strawberries a day.  The first few we had eaten were really tart, but they are coming into their own now.  This plant will likely keep self propagating so maybe we’ll have more to share next year.  (We had bought two last year, and now we have three. Perplexing, isn’t it?)  Alas, we will have a couple of more months until we can harvest the blueberries.

I have about given up hope on my cotton.  I will continue to faithfully water them, but I’m afraid the seedlings weren’t given the appropriate care while I was in Chicago.

I have about figured out my garden layout and will be putting many of my container plants into the ground.  As much as I have enjoyed container gardening, I think my plants are outgrowing their pots and will do better in the ground.  The hops and strawberries will remain in their containers for now, though.

Oh! I’ve found a frog in the backyard.  He seems to have made a home back here (which I think is strange because we’re not near water), and I’ve spotted him often.  He hasn’t let me take a picture of him yet, but I’m hopeful to capture him on”film” soon enough.  Assuming he doesn’t reproduce en masse, I think this will be good for my garden.  If he does choose to continue living here, I think I may name him “Tobacco” since he’ll be earning his keep as an insect eater.

Our gentle mutt has paid the frog no attention.  She’s just so good natured though it’s to be expected.  Here she is with a friend she made at the farm two summers ago.

As this summer has come early, I find that I cannot bear to do manual labor outside past half an hour.  With this 90 degree weather, it is the first time I’ve ever been thankful that I have such a small yard.  I was wondering if any of you have tips you can share about keeping cool?

bragging rights

As the result of first round judging, Okey is going to receive two gold certificates for his two “Excellent” beers that he submitted to the National Hombrew Competition   Although both beers (Strong Scotch Ale and Boch) received the same scores, his Strong Scotch Ale placed first in category and will receive a blue ribbon.  This beer will advance to the final judging in San Diego, California.

One judge noted that the Strong Scotch Ale will only improve with age.  So although it did not receive an “Outstanding” (or world class) nomination, there is hope that it will receive better scores at the next judging round which takes place mid-June.

Another judge wrote  “This is excellent.  Hard to knock. […]  Can I have a case?”  He even left us his e-mail address.  Perhaps we should make contact.

reflections on mother’s day

Yesterday was Mother’s Day, and I skipped church.  It’s the one day out of the year I don’t fit in, and I’m reminded of it.  It’s not so much the fact that I’m not a mother — that doesn’t bother me — it’s other people’s perceptions that I should be that do.

You know how it is at a church on a Mother’s Day.  All of the mothers are asked to stand.  Everyone shares how many children they have.  All of the grandmothers are asked to remain standing.  The one with the most gets a prize.

One year, carnations were given out to all of the mothers.  It was a small church, and it was pretty obvious I was the only non-mother.  I did not need to be included, and I was not offended.  However, a woman who probably had great kindness in her heart strongly insisted that I take a carnation if only to honor my own mother.  How can you argue with that sentiment?

I declined.

It’s not that I don’t love my mother.  I do, and she knows it.  The carnations were supposed to go to the mothers, and I didn’t need an exception to be given one.  I did not need her pity.

I know I’m not a failure, and I should have still gone to church yesterday.  Perhaps I’m a little irrational this time of the year, and especially sensitive this year, but that’s just how it was this Mother’s Day.

back from the adoption training

Hello, again.

It’s been hard for me to think of a new subject so please forgive me for continuing along the thoughts of adoption.  This process has been consuming for us.  It’s determined our activities of late (doctor visits and a trip to the sheriff’s office for finger printing, for example).  It’s also added new books to our reading list (Raising Adopted Children and The Open Adoption Experience both by Lois Ruskai Melina … among others).  It’s even introduced us to a new brewery (at least it’s not all tedious stuff!).

This weekend, we completed a two-day training about adoption which was an informative class.  The subject material was not much different from everything we’ve been reading so far, so it felt a little redundant.  However, it was good to learn first hand stories about adoption from adoptees, adopters and a birth mother who were there.

I entered the training wondering if adoption was really the right choice for everyone involved.  I’m trying to be considerate of the birth mother, and above all, I want her to make the right decision.  I don’t want someone else to make it for her.  I left knowing it is a hard decision for her, and my eyes were definitely opened to a semi-open adoption with the possibility of an open relationship down the road.  This can work for everyone.

The adult adoptees shared their experiences of learning they were adopted and then their adventures later in life trying to connect with their birth parents.  The adopters who spoke had an open relationship with some birth mothers, even inviting the women into their homes like extended family members.  Although this was not always successful in each situation, they were glad that their children could connect with their past.

I am hesitant about sharing my adoption process with the world, but one of the social workers actually encourages blogging.  This is our life now.  That’s not to say we aren’t busy with anything else, but this adoption process adds to the juggling act we call life.

The only bad thing that has happened so far is that I had a bad reaction to my TDAP vaccine.   (The tetanus shot now includes a vaccine for Pertussis, or whooping cough, which is important for people around young children to have.) It did clear up with antibiotics, but I still have a nice welt.  I recognize that this is nothing compared to the woman who will be carrying a child for nine months and struggling with her decision to terminate her rights.  The woman who will have bloated feet, an aching back, and suffer a great loss.

We’ve been busy preparing our home for the baby.  State law mandates we child proof our home, so I bought a kit from Lowe’s on Saturday with 24 outlet covers and several door handle grips.  These will be installed throughout the week.  Okey is moving his office downstairs, and we’ve been given so many things already by his parents and his brother for the baby.  (I think I have the best in-laws, but Okey disagreed.  We then agreed we both have the best in-laws.  Sorry, everyone else.)

Thank you for reading, and thank you for your support.  It means the world to us.