KonMarie thoughts

First thing, a disclaimer.  I have not read Marie Kondo’s book.  My sister, however, loved it.

This morning, my friend, Tom, posted a link to an essay about KonMarie tidying and how it affected her when she got to the part of dealing with her 1,127 books.  I suspect that Tom is a little bit of a hoarder.  So, I think that is probably indicative of a step in a healthy direction for him.

Since I booted my second husband, I have been actively trying to live by this:

“If you want a golden rule that will fit everything, this is it: Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”  ― William Morris (1834 -1896)

(He was, ultimately, neither useful nor beautiful.)

I found it relatively easy to purge furniture, kitchen and clothing.  Although is is sometimes hard to decide if a thing is truly useless or simply rarely useful.  (This is why I have bought a ginger grater twice in my life.)

Books were harder.  As were DVDs.  But, I eventually realized that I wasn’t actually using those things.  Just storing them.  Sometimes lending them.  So, I sold them or gave them away.  Most of them.

I do still have a couple of bookshelves.  They hold books I’m not quite willing to be without.  Picture books.  Poetry.  A couple of collections that I just can’t let go of even though I, also, own them digitally.

After I posted on FaceBook that William Morris predated Marie Kondo, Caitlyn commented that he didn’t pre-date Shinto, which is a part of her inspiration.  Since I hadn’t actually read the book, I didn’t know.


The calla lilies are in bloom, again.

Several years ago, I found a pot of miniature pink calla lilies in the florist area of a grocery store. They were lovely and only $5. So, I got them. When they finished blooming, I planted them in my flower bed. And forgot about them.

The next year, I noticed something coming up in a patch that looked intentional, even though I didn’t remember what it was.

Oh! Wait! It’s a pink calla lily! Except….

I remembered the blooms in the pot being smaller. And, when they came back the next year, they were the size of regular callas. When I moved to this house, I transplanted them. And they faded. They started coming up white with a little edge of pink.

Over time, I found a miniature purple calla at the grocery and a friend asked me to plant a lavender miniature calla that came in a flower basket that had been sent to her when she was recovering from surgery. Two years ago, I found a dark red one that absolutely delighted me. And last year, I transplanted everything to the front flower bed. (The callas in the back were getting crowded by overgrowth of hydrangea and fig bushes.)

Remember how I said the pink one had faded over time to mostly white? Can you tell which of theses is supposed to be the colors I planted? I can’t. Except I know where I planted the red one.


I blame Trey for my dilemma.

He had (has?) a barrel of dirt that he brought to his yard from his family farm in Virginia.  His family has owned the farm for 5 or 6 generations and it’s good dirt. He was using it to try to make a garden plot in the clay that is Alamance county soil.  This barrel was leftover from the garden creation.  And it got a peach pit stuck in it.  It was a pit from a particularly delicious peach.

Which has grown into a tree.  It has even produced some fruit, but I think the deer keep beating him to it.

He talked about taking the tree out of the barrel and putting it in the ground. But, he waited too long and the tree has grown through the bottom of the barrel and he is stuck with it as it is.  (Let this be a lesson to all gardeners.  Do NOT leave plants in pots on top of dirt too long.  You will eliminate your choices.)

I am so envious of a peach tree grown from a planted pit that I can’t stand it.  And I happened to have 2 big bags of dirt that were doing nothing on my deck.  They were supposed to be bags to grow potatoes, but I have been underwhelmed by the outcome.

So, last summer, when we had some excellent peaches, I stuck several pits in one of the bags.  So, far nothing has shown up. But, I live in hope.

In the mean time, we have used dirt from the other bag for potting plants for various projects.  Herbs for friends, filling in around other plants, whatever.  And my cat has discovered the joys of sleeping in a bag of dirt.  It’s pretty funny to see him curled up in there, snoozing.

Here’s the dilemma.   If I use up the dirt in the pit-less bag, he will, in all likelihood, sleep on any little trees that try to come up.  But, I’m a little nervous about trying to move the pits.  My husband says he’s already taking turns sleeping in both bags, anyway.  So, I probably need to get on with the peach pit rescue.

They’ve had a winter to get a good freeze on.  So, whatever the weather was going to do to help their germination along has happened.  Maybe I’ll try fishing them out of the bag and into actual flower pots.  Then, the ones that do sprout will be easier to transplant into the yard, later.

You do realize that gardening is an addiction and it makes you crazy.  Right?Vash in a bag(My son took the picture and I stole it from his Instagram.)

In my yard

I need to mulch the flower beds.

I need to pull grass out from between the plants I have put there on purpose.

I keep thinking that I wish I had tools that would make that easier. But that requires shopping and, when I get to the store, I dither and the weed and grass pulling doesn’t happen.

It’s a perfect day for working outside.

Why am I in here?

a day in my life

Today, I am going to have lunch in Durham with my best girlfriend. We are going to the Mellow Mushroom because it is walking distance from her office and we like the pizza. We will get a Holy Shitake pizza and laugh a lot.

My husband has “gluten issues” and, apparently, dairy sensitivity. The quotes aren’t because I don’t believe it, but he doesn’t have a full blown allergy or, worse, Celiac’s disease, so he can have a little bit of either without suffering.  Because of this, he feels uncomfortable when he asks a waiter if he can have his pasta dish on rice instead, but then will share bread pudding dessert with me.  But he can have the bread pudding because he had rice instead of pasta.  However, he does get an unhappy stomach if he eats much of either one, so regular pizza is definitely out for him. This is why Carolyn and I very frequently have pizza together.  Also, Holy Shitake is awesome.

And yes, the ‘Shroom has gluten free crust, but it also has a lot of cheese and still makes his stomach unhappy.


This has been the year of new clothes. Sometimes, I just don’t care and then I run out of stuff that isn’t ridiculously shabby and it all needs replacing. My mother, the shopping addict, suggests that I shop more often so that it isn’t such a binge-and-purge kind of thing. This came out of a conversation in which I commented that I can never find what I want if I am actually looking for something but always find tons of cute stuff when I don’t actually need anything.

And the truth is, I hate malls, but I love finding stuff in funky little shops that have fun clothes. Since my parents live in Asheville, I should be able to go shopping with my mother, thus getting some good time with her, and occasionally find something to keep the shabby stuff moving out of my closet.

This year, I found 2 linen dresses that I intend to wear to death. One is sleeveless and “natural” colored, meaning beige. The other is long sleeved and dark grey. The great thing about linen is that it wrinkles so easily no one expects it to look anything other than rumpled. That’s a look I can pull off.

I am wearing the grey one out for pizza.


My husband teased me about not exercising for 2 weeks this morning. He’s right. I haven’t.

Exercise has never been something that I just do. I have learned to enjoy walking around my neighborhood, but I get sweaty and need to cool down and get a shower before I do the next thing in my day and that takes up 2 hours and that time commitment makes it easy for me to stall out.

For instance. I’m going out for lunch soon and I don’t want to get gross and have to shower before I go, so I intend to walk when I get home. If I don’t get distracted by planting some hellebores my friend gave me and it doesn’t take too long to get them in the ground. See what I mean?


And about the hellebores.  I’m not sure what pushed my button about those.  For a long time I was disinterested and then I decided I’d like to have some.  I have a friend who has a huge collection and he has given me ten that sprouted up in his yard.  They cross-pollinate and drop seeds so we have have no clue what these will look like when they bloom.

We have just under an acre of yard.  It is part of a development on an old farm property and all the lots are around an acre with houses pretty much dead center in all of them.   It has all the sun variations you could possibly want to grow things.

Around the house is FULL SUN!!!  I don’t think that requires any real explanation.  This is why we have a most excellent vegetable garden and some fruit trees.

The back third of the back yard is heavily wooded and there is poison ivy in it.  Neither of us is allergic to poison ivy, so that means we can use it.  But, it is weedy and over grown and will take more money and effort to be usable than either of us has been inclined to commit to it.  I had the underbrush cleared out when I first moved here, but crap has just grown back because I didn’t do anything to keep it from happening.

The front yard has trees by the road and I have planted more trees, so that place is where I can plant “partial shade” stuff.  Voila!  Hellebores.  We have begun a mulching project that will do 2 things.  It will give me a place to plant things that don’t need blistering sun and it will cut down on the area that needs mowing.

We had some mulch that wasn’t needed a couple of years ago and we dumped it between 2 smallish plants, killing the grass and acting as a test run for grass-killing-with-mulch.  It was effective so we expanded the spot.  It took 4 trips to the mulch store to get 6 scoops of hardwood mulch to do it.    We intend to do more, but it’s a good start and gave me a place to plant the flowers I had been offered.

This is my blank canvas:


The tree is a dogwood I transplanted from a friend’s yard, the bits of green are irises that were growing in an inconvenient place in the back yard and the bush is an Oriental Paperbush I got when I was in Charlotte one weekend,.  It is such a strange plant I couldn’t pass it up.  You can see my tea patch behind the maple tree on the corner.

Gardening ADD

I swear I never feel as ADD as when I do yard work.

I went out to finish getting that last piece of grass dug to straighten out that flowerbed.  Dumped one cart of grass chunks in the back and, before I got started on the last section, I spotted a blossom on the wild geranium that was about to be swallowed by the spearmint.

So, I freed the geranium first.  And in the process I pulled up a piece of the the canna lily that is in that area.

There’s an empty place in front of the shed that needed something colorful and it occurred to me that the canna would be lovely there.  But, there were wild plantains overgrowing that bare spot, so I had to dig them out before I could plant the canna.  And cannas tend to like richer soil than our clay, so I needed to put some compost down there, too.  Which I did.

So, the last 30 minutes of labor that has me winded and catching my breath has made an improvement, but I still have that chunk of gravelly grass laughing at me.

Gravel diggin’ blues

I have been expanding the flower beds ever since I moved in here.

Last year, I extended the beds along the fence on the driveway side of the house some.  On the front yard side of the fence, I hit a buried patch of gravel. I have a gravel driveway; that isn’t totally out of the realm of reasonablity. Because I ran out of time and steam, that bed has been curved.

This year, when I created the beds on the far side of the house, I stole the edgers from the driveway side to delineate and hold back the mulch. I figured that would also make it easy to know how many new edgers I need; I could just count how many I moved.

THEN, looking at where they need to be returned, I was inspired to straighten out the line of the bed. That is easier this time around since I figured out a method of grass digging that worked for me last year. And since I have gone to the Baylor shift, I have more yard work time. (That having been a large part of why I wanted to work weekends.)

I have hit the gravel, again.  MUCH further out than I expected.

I think that grass has overgrown the “parking pad” at the end of the driveway.

It’s bad enough pulling out the quartz that grows here, but this feels like I’ve sabotaged myself. I can’t decide if I’d rather kick my feet and scream or burst into tears. So, instead of doing either, I’ll just write a long ranty post and hit “publish.”

Tea bushes in the yard

About 5 years ago, I learned that Camellia Forest Nursery in Chapel Hill sells tea bushes.    And I developed a longing to grow-my-own.  Last year, I finally bought some bushes and planted them in the front yard.

Tea is made from the leaves of Camellia sinensis.  “Herbal teas” are correctly called tisanes.  I got 4 2-quart plants (3 small leaf and one pink), made a beautiful bed with lots of compost, vermiculite and mulch and made sure they got watered when it was particularly dry.  I pinched them once to encourage bushiness, but haven’t really tried to harvest anything.


I tend to buy small plants and let them grow.  I figure they may as well spend the time growing in my yard as at the nursery that got them started.

Three made it through the winter.

I am saving the instruction sheet I got from Camellia Forest here, so that when I clean it up and throw it away, as I tend to do, I’ll still have the information.

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