Paper Flower

Shortly before the fugue state, my mother told K that she wanted to take us to the Botanical Gardens. Buffalo has a amazing domed greenhouse placed amongst its even more amazing Parks System, designed by Frederick Law Olmsted in the early 1900s. One time, when the kids were smaller, we took them sledding on the slope in front of the Garden. I remember K asking if we could go inside, and I sadly had to tell her we could not, since we didn’t have any money. Anyway, I forgot both these things, but she apparently did not.

So on Saturday morning, when she came into my bedroom and asked me what we were doing for the day, I was a little dismayed because I had made no plans. That is a difficult thing to do in the dead of winter in Buffalo- we can’t do any of our outdoorsy stuff that we do the rest of the year. I was thinking of “outdoors” when I mentioned the Botanical Gardens offhand, and she immediately wanted to go, reminding me that my mom was supposed to take us. I panicked, because I don’t have any “going to the Gardens” money, but K saved up some of hers for just such an occasion. I thought it was truly sweet of her, and I also appreciate that she would rather spend her money on an experience with her stepmother then on some Dollar Store crap like I would have when I was her age. I was very proud of her, and graciously accepted her offer.

We drove there and I could tell she was a little worried we wouldn’t get tickets because the website suggested you buy them online, and she, of course, does not have a debit card. It was pleasantly empty however, except for a baby shower happening in one of the greenhouses. When we arrived, the cashier looked to me for information and money, and was surprised when K stepped forward to ask for two tickets. She then handed us a flyer with nine flowers on it that were all pink. They were scattered about the gardens, and there was a special Valentine’s Day scavenger hunt for them. If you found them all, you won a prize! K and I spent the next 2 hours wandering around the greenhouses, looking for pink flowers. I showed her some of my favorite bits- like the koi pond, the corpse plants, and the Venus fly trap. She enjoyed all the fish, and the cactus room. And in the end, after half an hour of searching the Palm Room for a plant we walked by maybe six times, we completed the scavenger hunt! We went out to the cashier and told her, and she gave us stickers with pictures of the front of the Garden building. It was a little bit of a lame prize, but it was definitely a beautiful time. K went to look around the gift shop, and when we got back to the car she handed me a candle that she saw me admiring.  Again, I, myself, at 13 years old, was far too selfish to think to do such kindness for my elders. My heart swelled once more.

This is pretty much just a K appreciation post, I guess. I wrote one about E once, so I guess K is definitely due for it. She is growing into such a lovely and special young woman, and I am very proud of her. I can’t wait to see what she has in store for us in the future.


Green Thumb

Once upon a time, I lived in an apartment I refer to as The Dump.  We lived there for about two years and anything that you could imagine was wrong with it absolutely was.  The one little shiny spot however was that behind the garage there was a vacant lot.  This left plenty of room for our dog Buddy to play, and, after clearing away some of the brush, it occured to me one sunny afternoon that it would make a lovely garden as well.  So, I went out and got some 2x4s and built a little vegetable patch.  That summer, as Buddy raced around me, I grew squash, peas, beans, cucumbers, and strawberries.  I had never showed any interest as a child when it came to helping my mother with her garden, and it surprised me how much I enjoyed turning seeds into food.  I had always assumed gardening was not for me, and only started my veggie patch because I was out of work and needed something to do. 

I have the ability to grow food at this house, but haven’t tried it yet.  My neighbors are planting a few things and have promised to share the crop.  What I do now is tend the front garden, where I am growing purple salvia and bright pink peonies the size of a baby’s head.  Last week I rescued a dying gloriosa daisy and soon it will grow alongside them. 

Then, there’s my indoor garden, which I love the most, especially in winter when I’m dying to see something green.  First there’s my spider plant, who came to me in a tiny milk carton from an actress friend and now is a huge hanging pot with dozens of babies dangling from it.  There were more, but I gave one to each of my aunts, uncles, and cousins as Christmas gifts and still it continues to grow.  There’s my aloe plant, given to me after a show in a tiny painted pot, which massively overgrew it and now takes up most of the table.  I have a shamrock and superbells from my mother (the latter should really be put outside but I love looking at them every day.)  I have a pansy and geranium mix that I just bought, and a dieffenbachia I got for my birthday, along with an unidentified little pot of purple flowers.  There are poppies I’m trying to grow, and a spider plant baby that I hope will some day match its mama.

I remember being a child in my grandmother’s garden.  She grew roses for each grandchild; mine was peach-colored.  She had raspberry bushes and would let me pick them.  I think that was probably my first look at gardening.  In youth I didn’t think much of it, but as I have gotten older I appreciate it more and more.  I find solace and peace in the garden, and often have wonderful story ideas or surprising mental breakthroughs when my hands are deep in the warm soil.  It has become a therapeutic tool for me, and one that I never thought I would be using.  When I’m in my garden I’m thinking of my gram, and my mom, and all the wonderful bits of nature that I get to experience in those instances.  It quite literally brings me back to earth.

I need a bigger table.

Secret Garden

A few years back, Mark and I lived in our shittiest apartment.  To this day I call it The Dump, and it will always be remembered as such.  I cannot actually go into detail about its grossness.  Never mind we were living like college kids at the time, both of us having caught the late bus to adulthood.  Suffice it to say, it was cheap, it was terrible, and we hated it.

One day I was in the backyard and discovered a plot behind the garage.  Now, it looked like it was part of our yard, as the neighbors yard extended back there as well.  Later we discovered the whole thing was just a vacant property plot.  But at the time, I thought it was ours.

It was huge, and there was room for Buddy, our four year old Pitbull at the time, to run around in circles and roll in the grass. It reminded me of the book The Secret Garden, which I loved as a child, and I got the idea to plant a few things.  Mark and his buddy found me some boards, and I bought some dirt, and built myself a little vegetable garden behind the garage.  That year I grew peas, beans, squash, and a single cucumber.  I also worked on the flower patch we had and grew beautiful sunflowers out front in an effort to make it look like someone actually lived in The Dump.  I found that I really liked gardening, despite a childhood where my mothers offer to help her pull weeds sounded like a death sentence.

When we moved, I switched to houseplants.  I have a killer spider plant that gives off dozens of babies every few months, a huge aloe plant that came from a tiny pot I got at my old theater many years ago, shamrocks from my mother, some unidentifiable beautiful thing from Beth, and others.  I love houseplants.  They’re like a little garden for your home.  I desperately want to go to one of those Plant Nights I’ve heard about.  Jaime and her mother went and made awesome little succulents.

This year, I am blessed.  My friend Carey just moved in downstairs of us, and has graciously offered to me the vegetable patch in the backyard.  Yesterday I planted beans and peppers.  Tomorrow is cukes and squash, and Mark got me these great boxes for growing spinach.  As I sat in the dirt and pulled up the weeds I thought about how gardening has helped me.  For one, it calms me down.  I find relief in pulling the weeds up and peace in putting the seeds in the ground.  Another, it gives me ideas.  I work on stories in my head while I garden, sometimes without even realizing it.  It’s almost a form of meditation for me.

So, I am looking forward to this summer as I get to do veggies in the yard and flowers in the bed out front.  I noticed that the peony (one of my two favorite flowers) that my mother gave me last year has a bud on it, so I am just waiting for that to pop.  I look forward to the seasons through my plants, and they help me find joy in simpler things.  I hope everyone can find a hobby that brings them that kind of fulfillment.

purple flower buds
Photo by Valeria Boltneva on