A Writers’ Conference and Wood Chips

2017 will be the twentieth year of the annual Bay to Ocean Writers Conference. I’ve been involved for ten years and Laura Ambler about that long. I’ve been Speaker Liaison for a number of years and have been training someone to take over the job.

The Speaker Liaison committee met this week to begin looking at the presenters we’d like to invite. We have some people who’ve supported the conference for many years, are terrific presenters and get asked back almost every year. We also try new people and new topics. Keeping up with the changes in the publishing industry is a challenge as every writer knows.

Some people complain there are too many good sessions to choose from. We think that’s a good thing. Others have said why do you have some of the same topics over and over again. They are probably talking about craft topics such as point of view or dialog or creating conflict. We don’t have the same person do the same topic year after year, and we don’t have the same topics every year. But I think writers can always learn something new – or get that part of the presentation your brain didn’t register the last time.

Actually, part of my philosophy of life is that there isn’t any situation or person from which I can’t learn something. Sometimes it’s something about myself and sometimes it’s how to do something. It probably drives any workmen we have in the house nuts because I hang around and ask questions. I’d like to try my hand at plumbing, but probably not in this lifetime. And I don’t attempt anything electrical.

The last few days of cooler weather prompted me to call Bartlett Tree Service and see if I could get a load of wood chips. They’re free, but you never know what you’ll get. It depends on what they’ve been cutting. When my husband helped me put the tarps down he asked if the pile was going to be the size of the house. “Don’t be ridiculous,” I said as I headed off to help weed at the Reading Garden at the St. Michaels Library.

When I returned the mulch had been delivered. The pile was the size of a small house.IMG_1550

We borrowed a second wheelbarrow; my husband filled them and I moved them to the back of the property and dumped. We were an awesome team. Shoveling the chips strains my shoulders and I don’t mind the schlepping. More steps to my pitiful FitBit account. The husband doesn’t like the schlepping because he’s tall and has to lean over the wheelbarrow handles. The pile was quickly reduced to the size of two VWs.

What did I learn from this pile of mulch? That I should pace myself and remember that I’m not thirty any more. The husband told me he’d learned that already  – about thirty years ago.

Update: The pile is now gone. It’s in barrow-size smaller piles around the property waiting to be spread out. That can happen bit by bit, and the only remnants of that huge pile are a few chips that escaped the tarps. All told I figure we’ve moved at least thirty cubic yards of mulch this spring – fourteen cubic yards purchased and one free load the size of a small house.

 

 

These Boots Aren’t Made for Walking

White work boots are iconic for Eastern Shore watermen. These boots are at the Chesapeake Maritime Museum as a photo op. You stand behind on a step and put your legs into the boots while someone snaps your photo.

white boots

They reminded me think of boots I recently bought.

yellow boots tweaked

I’d bought a pair of tall boots from Tractor Supply a couple of years ago, but the bottom seams began to leak. I tried an epoxy fix which worked for a while, then epoxy with a mummy wrapping of cammo duct tape. They still leaked. I needed more substantial boots. I had a pair of Sloggers slip-ons that I really liked, but they didn’t work when we had standing water in the back yard and I needed to get to the compost bins.

I’d been in Baltimore for a dental appointment and wasn’t that far from Valley View Farms. It’s where I used to buy most of my plants when we lived on the Western Shore. I love that place. Anyway, I needed a size 10 and there was only one pair of tall boots in that size. I’d brought a pair of socks so I could try them on. I stuck one foot in and the size seemed fine. But I thought I should really try them both on just to make sure. I didn’t want to have to drive two hours back to return them.

I had just taken the photo above when I realized the boots were clipped together. I now had both feet in and short of falling over and removing them, I couldn’t figure out how to get them off. I debated about calling out for help, “boot removal needed in shoe department.”

Making sure no one was around,  I kangaroo hopped to a place on the wall where I could lean and managed to extricate one foot, then the other. Clipped together boots are not made for walking!

Two days later the Green Thumb group of the St. Michaels Woman’s Club held its annual garden tour. It was a nice day so I didn’t wear my chicken boots. This year one of the gardens we visited was the Children’s Garden in Idlewild Park. I didn’t even know it was there. If you haven’t visited it, it’s wonderful. It includes a maze in the shape of an oyster with a pearl fountain at it’s center. The concrete edging the maze has animal and bird foot prints.

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Docents visited the gardens the day before the tour so we could see them. We also saw the wonderful gardens at the historical society and three different gardens at the Maritime Museum in St. Michaels. Usually we do member’s gardens, but decided do something different this year.

I was a docent at the Rohman’s urban homestead in Easton. Their lot is 1/5th of an acre and the house sits on half of it. They grow an abundance of fruits and vegetables and have chickens, rabbits, and honey bees. They espalier, grow on wire supports, anything to give them a more productive garden in their raised beds. It’s an impressive undertaking.

The friends I have made in the Woman’s Club are a joy in my life. Marcel Proust said, “Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.” I am blooming.

mala-blue-hat-GT-garden-tou

 

 

Did You Meet Your Goals?

My husband often asks me this question over dinner. I usually have to think because I always have a “to do” list in my head, but it’s frequently not very focused. Not yesterday. I had two specific things I wanted to get done. Weed a front flower bed so the self-seeding cleome could be seen and fix the leak in the second drip irrigation system. Oh, and help my husband mow the lawn. Lots of rain was expected and much of our yard becomes too wet to mow.

drip irrigation

This was the area on the drip irrigation tubing where the squirrel had dinner. I had to cut a piece out which wasn’t a hard repair. It was getting the small drip line settled into the hole above my hand. Three tries and several tiny connectors lost in the creeping Jenny, and the the leak was fixed. I still have to put the lines back in my azalea garden, but fixing the leak was at the top of my priority list. Two days ago I programed the timer and put it on the hose bib so if it ever stops raining I can actually turn the system on and forget about it for the summer.

The Amish Paste and Sun Gold cherry tomatoes I grew from seed are blooming. We just need some warm weather now.

tomatoes blooming

The other thing on my list was to weed the bed where my cleome self-seed. This involved being on my knees and pulling tiny weeds to uncover the sprouting cleome. I was so happy to have that job completed. I put some mulch around the edges and now that area looks a thousand times better. Notice the window boxes are in. Not impressive yet, but they will be. Putting drip irrigation in those boxes was one of the best gardening investments I made. The front of the house gets the afternoon sun and by the end of the summer I used to have to water the boxes twice a day.

weeded flower bed

The little green plants on the grass side of the bed are the cleome seedlings. Once they are a little larger, I’ll thin them. The wet and finally warm weather has the mosquitoes hatching. When it dries out I’ll do some spaying so we can enjoy our deck.

The most labor intensive outdoor gardening chores will soon be completed and I can get back to writing. At this time of year it’s just an hour here and there, but once it gets really hot and humid, I want to be inside after ten in the morning.

More photos to come. #lovemygarden