Garden Fail: A Sad Tale

There is something about a hint of spring in the air that gives me an uncontrollable urge to sink my fingers into a pile of sun-warmed dirt.  Despite the fact that I live in Florida, and something is always green here, even in the dead of winter, tiny, brilliant green leaves poking out through dark, moist soil gives me a thrill somewhat akin to seeing a baby take a first step or graduating summa cum laude from an Ivy League University.  Yes, I get a little carried away.  And this year was no exception.  I started my garden out with six pepper plants, seven tomato plants, three rows of green beans, 2.5 rows of peas, 2.5 rows of zucchini, and 2.5 rows of cucumbers.

Yes, I had high hopes for sure.

See How Beautiful?

See How Beautiful?

Bursting with hope.

Bursting with hope.

Well, the peas were the first to fall victim to the harsh Florida sunshine.  They duly popped up, grew to about 2 inches in height, then shriveled.  So much for that.

Next, vicious creatures began munching on my peppers.  Apparently, their favorite types are California bell peppers and green bell peppers.  They left the others alone.  The peppers are still growing, but some of them are merely stems, their leaves long sacrificed to the nourishment of some unknown creature.

Apparently it takes more skill to grow tomatoes in Florida than it does in some other places.  These tomatoes produced much fruit, but they began to die from the bottom up.  Some of them are still hanging in there, but four became naught but dead sticks, which I pulled up to make more room for the others.

An almost-dead tomato plant

An almost-dead tomato plant

The beans did well– flowered, bore fruit but a bean plant in Florida does not produce more than two rounds of flowers and fruit before giving up the ghost — they will be replanted soon, though.

A bean plant about to give up the ghost.

A bean plant about to give up the ghost.

The cucumbers were a victim to a common disease known as downy mildew.  Apparently the only option is to pull them up and start over.  I’ve been told that sulfur is a good soil additive to help prevent it, but who knows what it is or where to find it?

The cucumbers meet a sad end from Downy Mildew

The cucumbers meet a sad end from Downy Mildew

Oh, and the zucchinis?  They did their own thing.  I do not know if they will produce fruit in this state, but I’m going to leave them and see what comes of it.

Zucchinis do their own thing.

Zucchinis do their own thing.

So that is the sad tale of my garden — a mix of exceedingly hot weather, sandy soil, and lack of rain (except when it’s a deluge of rain) have wreaked havoc in my once beautiful beds.

But I will not give up.  I will try again on the cucumbers and beans.  I will do research on how to grow tomatoes.  I will find out what is eating the peppers.  When spring’s green fingers next reach through my windows and tantalize me with their promise, I will be ready.

After all, even gardens aren’t perfect the first time (or even the second time).  Especially not in Florida.


I Lost You (I Wish I Hadn’t): A Poem

I Lost You (I Wish I Hadn’t)

For G.G.

No one said it was fair –

Never even thought it.

I guess you’re OK, though;

Cat-like, you strut


Even after a fall.



Four years

Can’t be erased with a finger-


I might forget for weeks,

Then find you


casually strolling around the corner.


Teaching without you

Was like jumping rope

With one arm,

One leg

For a while.

But I guess it’s true

What they say –

Nothing is impossible

If you keep getting up,

Brushing off,

Trying again.


We were not alike –

Even as two peas in separate pods.

More like

One pea and one socket wrench.

Somehow that odd

Combination worked–

Most of the time.


Now we are still not alike,

But the rubber-band that held us


Bruising us both.

Some days, I can’t help wondering

What if…?

In Memoriam of a Kitty: The Baby Doll Legacy

Baby Doll

I wanted a cat my whole life.  Unfortunately, my sister was allergic in a major way.

Then we moved to Florida, and her allergies improved.  In family conversations, we discussed that maybe we could attempt to have a cat and see how it went.  The experiment was agreed upon:

Enter Baby Doll.

Someone from our church was getting rid of her because “she snored too loud.”  Whatever.  Their loss.  She was the most gorgeous kitty we had seen — took our breath away!  She was supposed to be my mother’s cat, but after hiding out under my bed for three days following her arrival, she decided to adopt me.

Baby Doll was a Birman cat, a riff off the Siamese breed, with those piercing blue eyes and chocolaty seal points, but with a heavier body, white paws, fluffier fir, and a quieter personality.

But just because she was quiet did not mean she was a pushover!  No, sir.  Baby Doll ruled with dignity at our house for many years.  She would conduct “room inspections” several times a week, entering each room and sniffing around.  If it was too messy, or the smell was not to her taste, she would make a face, narrowing her eyes and opening her mouth so that her canine teeth protruded as if to say, “Clean this up, or else!”  Eventually, she gave my brother up as a lost cause, though.

From shortly after she arrived, she made it her business to take care of me.  If I went to bed with a wet head after showering, Baby Doll would curl around my head to keep me warm and cozy.  If I came home late or spent too much time out of the house, she would stomp around looking cranky and give me “what for” when I came home.

Even with two dogs in the house, there was no doubt that Baby Doll was the queen.  What she said, went, and if she told the dogs to bug off, they certainly did.  Many of her sayings became family lore, particularly her most famous and common quote: “It’s only rude if it’s not true.”

Although she wasn’t a particularly cuddly cat, her love for her people was strong.

Baby Doll came to us at the already mature age of 10.  For eight years she loved, bossed, and took care of us.  It was hard on her when I went to college for months at a time, but she hung in there and always scolded me when I came home for being away so long.

At the age of 18, she slowed down.  One night, she had what we believe was a stroke — one whole side of her body became paralyzed, and she couldn’t eat or drink on her own.

We knew what we had to do.  I think she knew, too….

I still think of her and love her — the cat I had wanted my whole life.  I have another kitty now, but there will never be another Baby Doll.

A Farewell to Shampoo: A Confession

Several months ago, I wrote a couple of posts about shampoo — or rather the lack thereof.  You can read them here and here (if you so desire — no pressure).  In looking for a healthier alternative to chemical-laden shampoo that promised to make my hair luscious, shiny, sexy, etc. (but never delivered on its promises, I might add), I stumbled across a group of people who chose literally…no alternative.  Instead of using shampoo, they would occasionally cleanse their hair with baking soda and apple cider vinegar or even just water.


I admit: initially, I was quite enthusiastic and jumped in with both feet — I even bought adorable little stainless steel bottles to store my concoctions in.  I blogged and read and talked about my new hair care constantly.


And then…I stopped.  First, I noticed that my hair was a bit dry — shiny and healthy, no doubt, but seemingly a bit stressed by the exclusive use of baking soda to clean it.  Second, I became impatient with waiting for my hair to balance out its oiliness.  Last, I went to a new hairdresser.

I had discovered this organic salon in my very own city of Ocala, FL (shocking, I know).  So I decided to check it out.  And even though, out of anyone in the world, this salon should be able to understand using an alternative hair care routine, I balked at explaining what I was doing to a complete stranger.  Well, and once the magical smelling suds enveloped my hair, and I relaxed into the chair, it was all over.

I asked for information about the shampoo they used at the salon, and they pointed me to Acure Brand shampoo and conditioners.

Now, while quite a bit more expensive than apple cider vinegar and baking soda, this hair care has some added advantages.  Not only is it completely organic without nasty ingredients, but it also smells divinely of almonds (I actually think it smells exactly like almond extract — who wouldn’t want to put that on their hair?).  It also keeps my hair shiny and healthy (similar to the baking soda and apple cider vinegar), but it is gentler and keeps my hair a bit more balanced.

So alas for the completely natural method of hair care — apparently I am wimpier than I initially thought.  But I still use the baking soda and vinegar rinse occasionally to clear out build-up.

And that is the truth about the No ‘Poo method of hair care.  At least for me….


How to Fall in Love…

Start with one second grade class and one moderately experienced teacher,


  • Unforeseen circumstances
  • Shifting of staff members


  • The original 2nd grade class with an additional second grade class.

Continue as Follows:

  • Sprinkle liberally with sadness, a multitude of changes, and a little attitude.
  • Mix vigorously.
  • Let marinate for several months, making sure to stir daily to keep lumps from forming.
  • Adjust seasoning as needed.
  • Wish frequently that the whole thing could just be done and over with.
  • Check obsessively to make sure it hasn’t spoiled.
  • On the last day of school, look around — those eyes, big and bright.  Those mouths that haven’t rested from talking once in four months.  Those stories that pile up, one on top of another until you wonder desperately if ANYONE else can listen to them just once.  And all that learning that sparkles around the corners.
  • Sigh deeply, and realize: This is it.  And you are sad.
  • Walk around your silent classroom and notice that for once, no one is talking.
  • Cry a little.

Now you are in love.  And you won’t forget it.

Dedicated to the 2012-2013 2nd grade class.

Having been through a lot together, I know we won’t forget each other.

The Summer Bucket List Bus Passes Me By…

So, the big thing with all my teacher friends this summer is making a summer bucket list. You know, the things you want to do before summer slips away (as it so often does). I realized this and thought to myself…”Well, now, that’s a great idea. If you’re more organized, you will probably get more done. Also, it will keep you from being bored.”

Then I immediately got pen and paper and began making my own bucket list  went and took a nap.

On the first day of summer, I did not make a bucket list but instead cleaned my house (which had gotten rather grimy around the edges, namely from not being thoroughly cleaned since January).  Also, I made bread.  And did laundry.  So I didn’t have time for a list, really.

The second day of summer vacation, I put away my winter clothes and got out my summer clothes (here I might mention that summer has been in full swing in Florida for at least a month, and the last time I wore a sweater was spring break).  Also, I made cookies for my poor neglected husband who hasn’t had cookies since, uh, September, maybe?  *Here I will pause so you can feel sorry for him.*  Finally, I finished my book.  Which was very important.  So again, no list.

The third day of summer vacation I thought to myself — “Why am I torturing myself with this blasted list?  I am an INFP, and we hate lists.  Forget about the stinkin’ list.”  And I promptly did.

So, while I have things I would like to do this summer, like can tomatoes and make overnight book totes for my class next year, there will be no Summer Bucket List.  The ship has sailed, the train has left the station…and I have some very important, uhm, somethings to do.8e345-100_0197


Welcome to my new space. I am enjoying all the new features of being hosted by WordPress! Very fancy! The old posts and comments have been moved over to the new blog, so feel free to look around. Meanwhile, I will be concocting some new posts to go with my new look and theme. Keep checking back — you won’t be sorry!