Monthly Archives: April 2012

The Greatest Exercise: Gardening

Want to lose weight and get in shape? Garden. You burn 272 calories per hour doing it, and there’s always plenty to be done.

After gardening for six hours yesterday, removing the transient grass that invaded my front planter, every muscle in my body ached. Do you want to feel the burn--grab a rake and shovel!

My son was helping me, and as we shoveled, hauled, ripped and raked, we talked about the miracle that is grass: you can hardly grow it where you want, but try to keep it out of a planter and it thrives! Do you think grass, like humans, can benefit from reverse psychology?

The Grass so little has to do –
A Sphere of simple Green –
With only Butterflies to brood
And Bees to entertain –

And stir all day to pretty Tunes
The Breezes fetch along –
And hold the Sunshine in its lap
And bow to everything –

And thread the Dews, all night, like Pearls –
And make itself so fine
A Duchess were too common
For such a noticing –

And even when it dies – to pass
In Odors so divine –
Like Lowly spices, lain to sleep –
Or Spikenards, perishing –

And then, in Sovereign Barns to dwell –
And dream the Days away,
The Grass so little has to do
I wish I were a Hay –

The pictures above are the “after” shots from yesterday’s work. That’s after four tractor buckets full of sod and weed were removed. There are other ways to kill grass, other than digging it up and transplanting the sod, as we did. Some people use Round-up to kill it. You have to wait for a windless day to spray, however, because any errant poison will kill your flowers. One way of killing grass with this method, near your darlings, is to use a paint brush to paint it on the blade strategically. We opted for au natural. We lost a few things in the digging–a small rose bush for one. I tried to save it last year when the grasses grew up around it, but it only allowed for the grass to take over more of my planter. I couldn’t dissect it from the sod yesterday, so it had to be sacrificed for the overall good of the garden.

Here are some pictures of next weekend’s project–the back garden–which will give you a little idea of what the front garden used to look like.

Back Garden

Dear Lord, my back aches just looking at it!



Double ouch!

The brick you see in the picture was taken up when we built the sun room–a project which wasn’t finished until this weekend. While my son and I were working in the front garden, my husband was finishing up the paint and caulking on the room. It will actually be a weekend’s work to replace the brick because it will have to be releveled and bricks cut to the new size.

I didn’t mention before, but I planted my dahlias last week–about 24 plants–and some new lilies–blood red. (Insert excitement!)

Emily Dickinson & Bees

One of the first flowers I photographed this year was the crocus. And low and behold, there was a little friend climbing in and out of it. A sure sign spring had arrived.

Bees are Black, with Gilt Surcingles –
Buccaneers of Buzz.
Ride abroad in ostentation
And subsist on Fuzz.

Fuzz ordained – not Fuzz contingent –
Marrows of the Hill.
Jugs – a Universe’s fracture
Could not jar or spill.

(Emily Dickinson J #1405 1877)

And on a recent trip out of town to Gig Harbor, I caught this little one gathering pollen.

One of my blog visitors, Emily Heath, has a fabulous blog of her own devoted to bees, “My beekeeping bumbles”, as the title says, it’s Adventures in Bee Land. She has captured some amazing pictures of bees doing their work and returning to their hives. It’s a treasure trove of information as she undertakes the journey of a beekeeper in Ealing, West London.

In an April 5, 2012 article in my small local paper–The Cheney Free Press, a beekeeping family was highlighted. I hope to go out and get some of their honey today and to attend some of their public education field trips. Here are a few excerpts from the article and you can follow the link above to read the whole thing.

Martin and Marcia Davis left California several years ago and landed in the Cheney area looking for a new adventure. They had bees and chickens in mind.

Martin is working on an entomology degree. He said, “All honey bees come from Europe in a box.” The queen bee has her very own boudoir, a three room apartment (think child’s little pinky) with a cork stuffed with marshmallow on each end. The worker bees gradually chew through the passageway as the queen bee gets used to them and they to her. Now accustomed to the hive the queen then makes her own place for the cone she lays her eggs in.

Martin Davis said, “A bee has a double stomach. One part is for feeding himself and the other part is the honey stomach.” We all know the expression ‘busy as a bee’. Davis said, “A bee makes a million trips to make a pint of honey.” I’d say we ought to appreciate that hard-working little fellow with a gold medal of some sort.
Honey isn’t the only thing a bee provides. He specializes in diversity. Bee venom from the stinger is used by pharmacies. Bee wax can be used for its antibacterial, antiseptic or anti fungal properties. In earlier years bee wax was applied to a bandage before antibiotics became available. You will find bee wax in cosmetics and furniture polish.

When you encounter a honey bee treat him gently and send him on his way. Your reward will be extra sweet.

Emily had a few things to say about bees in her poetry, too.

Like Trains of Cars on Tracks of Plush
I hear the level Bee-
A Jar across the Flowers goes,
Their Velvet Masonry

Withstands until the sweet Assault
Their Chivalry consumes,
While He, victorious, tilts away
To vanquish other Blooms.

(J 1224)

His Feet are shod with Gauze,
His Helmet is of Gold;
His Breast, a Single Onyx
With Chrysophrase, inlaid.

His Labor is a Chant,
His Idleness-a Tune-
Oh, for a Bee’s experience
Of Clovers, and of Noon!

(J 916)

When Mabel Loomis Todd and TW Higginson published Emily’s poetry after her death, they edited many of her poems. These two poems were placed together as one and titled, The Bee. Here it is, as edited.

Like trains of cars on tracks of plush
I hear the level bee:
A jar across the flowers goes,
Their velvet masonry
Withstands until the sweet assault
Their chivalry consumes,
While he, victorious, tilts away
To vanquish other blooms.
His feet are shod with gauze,
His helmet is of gold;
His breast, a single onyx
With chrysoprase, inlaid.
His labor is a chant,
His idleness a tune;
Oh, for a bee’s experience
Of clovers and of noon!

A few less capital letters, I’d say, and a mysterious absence of dashes.

Here are some more from Johnson’s collection:


Least Bee that brew –
A Honey’s Weight
The Summer multiply –
Content Her smallest fraction help
The Amber Quantity –



We – Bee and I – live by the quaffing –
‘Tisn’t all Hock – with us –
Life has its Ale
But it’s many a lay of the Dim Burgundy –
We chant – for cheer – when the Wines – fail –

Do we “get drunk”?
Ask the jolly Clovers!
Do we “beat” our “Wife”?
I – never wed –
Bee – pledges his – in minute flagons –
Dainty – as the tress – on her deft Head –

While runs the Rhine –
He and I -revel –
First – at the vat – and latest at the Vine –
Noon – our last Cup –
“Found dead” – “of Nectar” –
By a humming Coroner –
In a By-Thyme!



Bee! I’m expecting you!
Was saying Yesterday
To Somebody you know
That you were due-

The Frogs got Home last Week –
Are settled, and at work –
Birds, mostly back –
The Clover warm and thick –

You’ll get my Letter by
The seventeeth; Reply
Or better, be with me –
Yours, Fly.



Of Nature I shall have enough
When I have entered these
Entitled to a Bumble bee’s



A single Clover Plank
Was all that saved a Bee
A Bee I personally knew
From sinking in the sky-

‘Twixt Firmament above
And Firmament below
The Billows of Circumference
Were sweeping him away –

The idly swaying Plank
Responsible to nought
A sudden Freight of Wind assumed
And Bumble Bee was not –

This harrowing event
Transpiring in the Grass
Did not so much as wring from him
A wandering “Alas” –



His oriental heresies
Exhilarate the Bee,
And filling all the Earth and Air
With gay apostasy

Fatigued at last, a Clover plain
Allures his jaded eye
That lowly Breast where Butterflies
Have felt it meet to die –



The pedigree of Honey
Does not concern the Bee,
Nor lineage of Ecstasy
Delay the Butterfly
On spangled journeys to the peak
Of some perceiveless thing –
The right of way to Tripoli
A more essential thing.


Another version

The Pedigree of Honey
Does not concern the Bee-
A Clover, any time, to him,
Is Aristocracy –

#1755–I find it interesting that one of her last poems (they end in Johnson’s collection at 1775 poems) is about bees and clover.

To make a prairie it takes a clover and one bee,
One clover, and a bee,
And revery.
The revery alone will do,
If bees are few.


Now, let’s all go out and find and celebrate the bees!

The Winter Is Past

“Arise, my darling,
my beautiful one, come with me.
See! The winter is past;
the rains are over and gone.
Flowers appear on the earth;
the season of singing has come,
the cooing of doves
is heard in our land.
The fig tree forms its early fruit;
the blossoming vines spread their fragrance.
Arise, come, my darling;
my beautiful one, come with me.”

Song of Solomon

Magnetic Poetry Board

In designing my new office–a place where I can store all my beloved books and house my piano and music, a place to sit and write, or think, or relax, or look out the window at our horses–I decided I also wanted a magnetic poetry board. I had this blank space right above my desk that was just perfect for it. I love words–what better art than word art?

I told my husband my idea and, as always, he was right there with me. He understood it and was excited to help me make it.

So, off to Home Depot–a place where we spend a lot of our time, but reap the rewards of sun rooms, decks, barns, fences…and on and on. We LOVE to create, build and dream together, and Home Depot is OUR store.

Here are some of the tools laid out for the job. My space is long and narrow, 20″x48″, so we cut the paneling as a back, the metal flashing (for roofs) to go over it, and then the molding strips (minus the 2.5 inches for the rosettes at each corner).

Next, we used liquid nails to adhere the metal to the wood backing and the molding and rosettes to the metal.

We placed a number of heavy objects on it to hold it down, then left it to dry for 24 hours.

Something not seen here is my mistake. I used a wood primer on the metal, but found out quickly it scratched right off. I removed it all with a plastic scraper and used automotive spray paint instead–two coats of primer and two coats of the burgundy color and I let that dry in the sun for a day.

When installing it, my husband used dry wall anchors on four spots. He had to recess the screws into the wood and I came back and painted them black when he was finished. It’s now very, very sturdy.

And all of us have begun composing poetry!

My happy spring picture
see through concrete breathe thunder
listen window mouth
between goddess & woman blossom
soul petals yummy admonition
she explores morning mushrooms reveals eternity

It may not make sense, but it sure is fun.

Now my office is complete. It’s me. It’s perfect for me. It beckons me in. (It beckons everyone in.)

Who Are Your Countrymen?

My Old Friends: From Hyacinth to Birch


From Poetry of Flowers (A book Emily may have referenced), “Grief: According to mytholgists, this flower sprang from the blood of Hyacinthus, who was killed by a quoit, through the agency of Zephyr, who blew it fom its course as it passed from the hand of Apollo, and smote the unfortunate youth on the head.”

“I wish I could show you the hyacinths that embarrass us by their loveliness.” Emily’s letter to James D Clark.


I am in love with him
To whom a hyacinth is dearer
Than I shall ever be dear.

On nights when the field-mice
Are abroad, he cannot sleep.
He hears their narrow teeth
At the bulbs of his hyacinths.

But the gnawing at my heart…
He does not hear.

Edna St. Vincent Millay

There are so many things to which you could compare a garden, not the least of which is friendship. Each year it comes back, sometimes a little worse for wear, but you have a history–an investment in one another.

The pictures I’m sharing today are from my garden–it’s some of my dear old friends emerging from winter in mid-April 2012. They’re bursting out and embracing the day! Some of them are thriving, some are fighting for their lives.

Royal Star Magnolia (struggling)

Rock Daphne

Leopard’s Bane




“Elsa’s Rock” Daffodils to commemorate her death two years ago. What I realized during that time, a great epiphany for me, was that even when we want to hold onto our memories of lost loved ones–and Elsa was very dear to me having been raised from a puppy and sharing my trials and tribulations–our minds let them slip. I was horrified of that. Two weeks after her death, as I stood outside and tried to imagine her, it was hard. Then, a day passed without me thinking of her at all. This rock was placed there, over her burial spot, to remind me to think of her…and to give me a spot to sit while doing that under the Weeping Willow. I planted the daffodils because she died when they were in bloom. Every year they come up, they remind me of my loss–and my loss reminds me of my great gain–having her for thirteen years on this earth.

Daisies–Emily’s nickname was “Daisy”, and she refers to herself as such in the “Master Letters.”

Oh – did I offend it –
Didn’t it want me
to tell it the truth
Daisy – Daisy – offend it – who
bends her smaller life to
his, it’s meeker lower every day –
who only ask – a task –
something to do for
love of it – some little way
she cannot guess to make
that master glad –
A love so big it scares
her, rushing among her small
heart – pushing aside the
blood – and leaving her
faint and white in the
gusts’s arm –
Daisy – who never flinched
thro’ that awful parting –
but held her life so tight
he should not see the
wound – who would have
sheltered him in her
childish Heart – only it was’nt
big eno for a Guest so large –

(Letter 2 1861–Emily to “Master”–actual person is a mystery which stays unsolved.—Word choice changes were chosen by me. Example: bosom/Heart and other ommissions.)

Climbing Hydrangea


Birch & Pine

The Lovely Grace of Roses

The rose did caper on her cheek,
Her bodice rose and fell,
Her pretty speech, like drunken men,
Did stagger pitiful.

Her fingers fumbled at her work,–
Her needle would not go;
What ailed so smart a little maid
It puzzled me to know,

Till opposite I spied a cheek
That bore another rose;
Just opposite, another speech
That like the drunkard goes;

A vest that, like the bodice, danced
To the immortal tune,–
Till those two troubled little clocks
Ticked softly into one.

Emily Dickinson (J 208)

This love poem of Emily’s tells of two people thrilled to be in the same room together and, somehow, merging into oneness.

It’s hard to believe, but there was a time I didn’t care much for receiving roses. I think I commented to that effect enough that everyone near me caught on and never bought me any.

Then, in 2001, personal tragedies struck and while I waited to hear if my melanoma, recently caught, had spread, and how I would rebuild my life in the wake of sudden changes, they took on powerful new meaning.

I remember, during that time, a trip to the grocery store, stopping at the floral department, enjoying the rose bouquets and purchasing a dozen yellow roses for myself.

I’ll never forget that bouquet, how happy it made me, and how it changed my whole perception of flowers.

In that moment they were grace.

Eleven years later, in a happier place, they are love.

We should all celebrate flowers.

(Photos–my birthday bouquet 2012)