Creating a Self-Watering Planter

  I am so pleased this self-watering planter worked!   There are so many different ideas when it comes to building a self-watering planter, but they all head in the same direction: Having a well at the bottom of the planter with a wick to draw the water up to the plants' roots. I pooled different ideas from my research and created two self-watering planters that have produced lots of lovely flowers.   The first design problem I faced was finding a planter with enough depth to plant gladiolas that was reasonable to purchase. Most large planters were way out of my price range, so I started thinking creatively. What about garbage cans, or large buckets, or stock tanks?   I landed on 40-gallon stock tanks, standing about 13 inches tall. Using about one-third of the height for the well left me about nine inches of soil.   The first step was collecting the supplies. I purchased three-inch perforated drain tile, pvc pipe, a bag of pebble rocks and some organic potting soil to mix with composted grass and leaves from my back yard. I already had landscape fabric and the cutting tools I needed.     Drain holes … [Read more...]

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Reily’s Luck

By Louis L'Amour   Sentimentality... Is there a book that takes your breath away every time you hear or read the title? Or one that breaks through the bricks walls holding the files of your past, releasing a flood of memories and emotions? Louis L'Amour's 1970 novel Reilly's Luck does that for me.   I was introduced to Louis L'Amour's writing by my second mom, Jan Federson, when I was about 11 or 12 years old. Jan, and her husband, Feddy, lived in a large walkout rambler near McCoy Lake in Eden Prairie, when all the roads off Mitchell Road were gravel, and there were only a few houses in the area. Inside and to the left of the front door was a large living room with one wall lined with cupboards on the bottom and shelves on the top. Every shelf was filled with books, as Jan was an avid reader. She loved westerns, and I believe she had every book written by L'Amour. I don't know how many of L'Amour's books Jan encouraged me to read, but Reilly's Luck stuck with me over the years.   The beginning chapters of the book tell how a 4-year-old Val Darrant ends up in the care of Will Reilly, a gentleman who is a gambler by profession and handy with a … [Read more...]

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Their Eyes Were Watching God

By Zora Neale Hurston Zora Neale Hurston was a female black writer in the early 20th century, and she wrote this novel in 1937.   In Their Eyes Were Watching God, Janie tells her story to her best friend Phoebe, from her first forced marriage when she was a teenager to living with the love of her life in her 40s. It tells of her relationships, describing the three totally different men she lived with, and the adventures incurred throughout her life. The majority of the book takes place in Eatonville, a town in Florida near Jacksonville that was incorporated on August 15, 1887, and was one of the first self-governing all-black municipalities in the United States. It also is the community in which Hurston grew up.   Janie was raised by her grandmother, Nanny, who was trying to give her a better life than she had. Both Janie's mother and Janie were products of rape. When Nanny saw Janie kissing a boy over the fence, she felt it was time for Janie to get married and be taken care of by a man.   Janie was not interested in marriage, or the man Nanny chose, who Janie came to realize wanted not a partner and a wife, but a maid and someone to help with … [Read more...]

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Creativity a part of survival

Creativity. Life has a way of crowding out creativity. But what is life if not creative?   Survival. Survival at the mercy of our society's structure.   But there are those who don't survive very well without following the creative impulses, whether they lead to inventing, or organizing, or creating beauty through words, color or structure. I am one of those people... When life crowds out the ability to create, I withdraw inside myself and move toward being a hermit, which causes other issues inside of me. Spending time with people has always put deposits into my emotional bank, and moving away from people depletes the balance to the point where "why bother" enters into my thought process. The fallacy that I can be self sustaining and not need others permeates my mind.   Drastic changes happen.   My husband sees those changes, and gets concerned. He acts, and I flourish.   Over the last couple of years, life has crowded out much of my creative time. I have let every day duties and responsibilities drain me to the point of not having enough energy to create. My husband changed all that. He bought me a pottery class, which is … [Read more...]

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Finding permission to be called a writer

I am a writer.   It is that simple. I AM a writer.   How can I call myself a writer when there is little current evidence of my craft? That question often plagues me and holds me down like a wrecking ball resting on a pile of broken walls. I also transfer that question into others, though I have no idea if they really feel that way.   How can you call yourself a writer? You don't write every day, you don't get paid for what you do write and your book isn't selling itself? Those critical questions open the door to shame.   My personal favorite admonition: "Nobody wants me as a writer..."   But, I AM a writer.   Daniel José Older, in his blog Writing Begins with Forgiveness: Why One of the Most Common Pieces of Writing Advice is Wrong, states that shame, more than anything else, stops people from writing. He debunks the advice that to be a writer, you have to write every day. That idea is one of the biggest causes of shame.   I found his blog at the right time. I needed to release the shame and give myself permission to be the writer I am. For me, the should-have-could-have-would-haves are paralytic. The … [Read more...]

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Strengthening the crackling veneer

Have you ever felt broken? Like someone else is living in your body?   I have, and I think the other person's name is Meno Pause. Meno has more depressed days than I ever had, is less tolerant of others and is so fragile that little things crackle the veneer that holds her together, sending her into a room alone to get the shaking under control. She also has trouble thinking, would rather be alone and often avoids gatherings. She is the opposite of who I am in so many ways...   Meno Pause has been living in me for several years, but I think she is gradually moving out. A year ago, I was afraid she was becoming a permanent resident, but today I know different. I don't know if she will ever move out completely, but I am OK with that.   Over the last year I have become stronger, both physically and emotionally, strengthening the veneer that holds us both together. I am more like myself again, and have decided to embrace whatever comes each day. I mourn the loss of parts of me that Meno took away, but I have hope for the future, and I look forward to whatever it has to offer.   … [Read more...]

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I Am Spock

By Leonard Nimoy   Star Trek has been infiltrating my life for as long as I can remember. I watched the original series as a child, and the movies as a teen and adult. My husband loves the original Star Trek, and enjoys the more recent Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Voyager. Captains Kirk, Picard and Janeway all have different attributes, which makes each of the series unique and interesting.   One of the icon characters of Star Trek is Spock, played by Leonard Nimoy, who died at the end of February. Nimoy introduced the Vulcan hand salutation accompanied by "live long and prosper". Nimoy did live long and prosper. He was 83 when he died, and he had an amazing career.   In researching his obituary, I found out Nimoy had written two books I am not Spock in 1975, and I am Spock 20 years later. Intrigued by the titles, I wanted to read both books, but the library only had the later. I don't think I need to read the first one. Nimoy mentions it in the second calling the title a mistake. The title I am not Spock gave the impression that Nimoy did not like the character or being on Star Trek. That was so far from the truth, as Nimoy … [Read more...]

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Where Rivers Meet

By Barbara Mackinnon Where Rivers Meet has it all-sorrow, love, romance, murder, conflict, scenic settings and friendship. It is a romance novel where two emotionally injured people meet by chance and find they can love again. Their individual stories and family conflicts of their pasts continue to surface as they build their relationship. The story starts in Dunkeld, Scotland, where Mary Sinclair and her husband, Stewart, are visiting?his aunt Fiona. Being from the United States, Mary is enchanted with the city and the countryside. She takes up painting as Stewart travels, where he dies. Mary plummets into grief and is hit with another blow that sinks her even farther. The story also follows Andrew MacLean, who lost a wife and ?child in a car accident that he does not believe was an accident. His search for the truth takes him from Skye back to Dunkeld where the accident took place. Mary and Andrew meet by chance, and the story follows their rocky friendship as it grows to more. As their relationship grows, so does the investigation into the accident, which causes problems for Andrew and everyone he knows. The author writes a believable story, building to a climax … [Read more...]

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The Wisdom of the Native Americans

Edited by Kent Nerburn This book is filled with quotes and speeches that give the reader an inside look at the wisdom, spirituality and culture of the Native American people. When the Europeans arrived, this continent was filled with various tribes of people whose customs, languages and housing were different. The different tribes governed themselves and lived according to different rules.?But, according to Nerburn, they all shared a common belief that the earth is a spiritual presence that "must be honored, not mastered." Nerburn's book looks at how the Native Americans approached life. Part 1 includes quotes compiled from various Native people that take a deeper look into the culture, customs and thoughts. Part 2 includes writings from Ohiyesa, who was born in the Redwood Falls, MN area in 1958. He was later given the name Charles Alexander Eastman, a Santee Sioux child of the woodlands and prairies who would go on to become the adviser to presidents and an honored member of the New England society. According to Nerburn, Ohiyesa spent his life trying to build bridges of understanding between the Native and non-native people. Part 3 includes speeches by Chief Red … [Read more...]

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Tales from the Wedding Altar

By Rev. James E. (Jimmy Mac) McNamara An easy read, "Tales form the Wedding Altar" takes the reader through various true stories from weddings Rev. Jimmy Mac has performed in Lass Vegas over the last four years. Some of the stories are heartwarming and some embarrassing, but the majority leave the reader chuckling. The stories are short, which makes the book easy to read in spurts. I kept it in my lunch box and read it during my breaks at work. It was a fun read.     … [Read more...]

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