Shirley’s Magic Wreath Machine

As my blog readers know, I’ve been involved in planning meetings for the St. Michaels Woman’s Club garden group, Green Thumb. This year my task was to coordinate an annual wreath making event. Shirley Windsor of Seasonal Flowers comes to the St. Michaels Woman’s Club clubhouse with her magic wreath making machine and all participants go home with a beautiful wreath.

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Each year Laura Ambler, my writing partner,  allows me to cut greens from her property.  And each year she gets a wreath I make. I took this one to her office and she hung it on the front door. It would be way to big for my front door. Some years I make a big one and a smaller one for myself.

These wreaths take a lot of material and we all bring our own bags of greens. And we share. Each large wreath needs 18 bundles of greens (each with 10-12 stems). A small wreath takes 14. The ends of the bundles are wrapped with a rubber band. Each bundle is inserted between two prongs on the wreath frame and when Shirley presses on the foot lever, the two prongs are pushed flat over the end of the bundle. You can see the lever on the bottom of this photo. It’s really quite amazing. I found this company online with what looks like the guts of Shirley’s machine.

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The workshop is messy and we had put down tarps the day before. I had to be in Annapolis so my friend Carol and her husband Jim got all the tarps down and taped and the tables set up. I was so grateful for their help.

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Making bundles takes time, but everyone goes home with a wreath they can be proud of and every single one is different and beautiful.

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This was Leslye’s first wreath. Spectacular!

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Jennifer’s first wreath. She told me she was going to highlight the magnolia leaves with some gold paint. She was one of the last ones to get her bundles put on a frame and the rest of us were sweeping up and removing tarps around her. The clubhouse had to be left spotless as a crew setting up for the Christmas in St. Michaels’ Gingerbread House Contest was coming in early the follwing day. The preview party was Saturday night. There is lots to do in St. Michaels this time of year.

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Christmas in St. Michaels is in its 36th year and raises money for charities in the Bay Hundred area. It’s a spectacular event and the result in a year-long planning effort. It starts next Saturday with the best small-town Christmas parade in America.

 

 

 

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.

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They reminded me think of boots I recently bought.

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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.

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A Busy Week

It was a busy week. Cleaning out garden sheds, a Green Thumb Garden meeting, a writing conference,  a new project, and some gardening.

The family of my friend who died a week ago called to ask if I could use any of the items in her garden shed. They suggested I take anything that women in the Green Thumb Garden Club could use, so last last Wednesday and Thursday another friend and I sorted and hauled things to the Woman’s Club. They were at the club house  for the Friday meeting where people took things they could use and made a donation to the St. Michaels Woman’s Club Scholarship Fund (we give a 6K scholarship to a St. Michaels High School graduate every year).

In the afternoon I attended a meeting for something we are calling Growing Bay Hundred. It will be a collaboration of the Farmer’s Market, the Community Garden and the Stm Michaels Community Center. Lots of good ideas about how to get people to come out. For those of you who don’t know, the Bay Hundred historically refers to the area from where Harris Creek almost intersects with The Eastern Bay (in the area of Claiborn), all the way down to the tip of Tilghman Island. By the mid 1670’s Talbot County was divided into “hundreds” for administrative purposes. The term “hundred” survived from medieval England when shires were divided into segments that could each produce 100 fighting men. The Bay Hundred area is now one of the few Hundreds left in Maryland as a description of a voting district. Now you know.

Saturday was the Bay to Ocean Writers Conference, sponsored by Eastern Shore Writers Association. This was the 19th annual conference! Thirty hour-long sessions on a variety of writing and publishing topics were offered. It’s a lot of work throughout the year, and Laura and I have been involved for ten years. This year Laura wasn’t on the committee because of her work load. Most of the rest of us soldier on but it’s time to bring in some new (younger) people with fresh ideas.

This is Anny Williams who greets attendees each year. They start the day spying Anny’s yellow sweater from the parking lot and know where to go. Her big smile sets the tone for the day.

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Below is one of the two students I sponsor each year. A budding writer, I’ve been sponsoring her since she was fourteen. This year she’s a high school senior. She’ll be attending college in the area next fall so I can continue to sponsor her. I’ve got a young man who will be a sophomore in high school next year who I’m hoping to also sponsor. It’s a little young for the conference whose attendees tend to skew middle aged, but mature, interested students can really grow from this experience.

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BTO also sponsored three Chesapeake College students in conjunction with a grant from the Talbot Arts Council. They are required to write a short essay about their experience at the conference so the organizers will be interested to see what they thought.

This year we backed the conference date into March gambling that the weather would be less of an issue. When you have 18 years of missing weather bullets that would cancel the conference, you begin to get a little paranoid. The weather was great, everything went smoothly and the comments we heard were wonderful. The evaluation sheets are being tabulated and we’ll know more in a few days about which sessions and faculty had the most value to attendees.

This year I actually attended two inspiring sessions on social media with Eastern Shore Writers Association President, Mindie Burgoyne. Usually, after getting to Chesapeake College at six in the morning, I don’t have the energy. This year we started a little later, had three morning sessions, two afternoon and the conference ended at four instead of five. It made a big difference for me and I don’t think we had as many people who left before the last session of the afternoon.

On Sunday I tried to sleep in but it was the move to Daylight Savings Time which always throws me for a loop. It was supposed to rain all day, but the weather was good for working outside and I spent most of the day clipping and cleaning garden beds. This time of year is always a race to get beds cleaned up before perennials start to pop. I let fallen leaves remain in the beds as plant insulation for the winter, but it makes more work in the spring. The rain didn’t come until Sunday night so I got a lot done. Of course I was very grateful for Monday morning yoga class so I could get the body moving again.

I have lots on my desk and some conference boxes in the garage to be sorted, but I’m back to working on the next thing. That just seems to be the way I roll.

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Writing In Between Life Happening

All of us who write have other commitments in our lives. Finding time to write is a pressing problem for those of us who have full time jobs, and families. I consider my volunteering a full-time job. This is what I will be in charge of this week.

2014 sale photo 2Consignment Capers is a St. Michaels Woman’s Club fund-raiser that funds our annual 6K scholarship to a St. Michaels High School Senior and other civic outreach programs. We like to think it’s several notches above a flea market. Pictured above are just some of last year’s sale items.

People bring their unused things and the club sells them at a two day event. 50% to the consignee and 50% to the club. It’s a win-win. De-clutter your house, get some money and help send a kid to college, fund the local food bank, etc. My co-chair says it’s like waiting for D-Day. Perhaps a little perspective is needed.

I am a full-time retired person. Retired doesn’t mean I don’t work; it means I don’t get a pay check. I seem to be busier than ever, but on the plus side I have the luxury of being able to schedule my time. Volunteer activities intrude on writing, however, often as much as a paying job.

Like most writers, Laura and I have to shoehorn writing into our busy lives. Lunch times when Laura can get an hour or two away from the office and weekends if her husband is flying. My schedule is more flexible.

The planning of this Consignment event has taken up a lot of my time for the past month. Laura is busy with her business, but we are on to a new project – turning our scripts into e-Scripts and putting them up on Kindle. The idea is that you can read a script almost like a book, and in a lot less time. The reader can visualize her own movie.

Laura is having way too much fun designing covers and I’m turning the scripts into epub files on Calibre. A new skill set for me. We have a total of seven scripts and one play that we can put on Kindle. We might as well get them out there since no studios are knocking on the door – yet!

After Consignment Capers is over, shoehorning in time to write will continue as Spring is on the way and soon I’ll be back in the garden.

If you’re a script writer, have you considered putting your scripts on Amazon’s Kindle? We’d love to know about your experience.