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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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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Creating a layered herb pot

I am truly a reduce, reuse, recycle person. When something is heading for the garbage, I often see ways to repurpose it. Like the 5-inch-tall cardboard tubes that hold labels we use at work. I was watching the 6-inch diameter tubes adding up in the recycle box and wham, I was struck with the idea of using them to create a layered herb pot.   For my idea, I needed four of the tubes, a pot ?with a minimum of 14 inches in diameter, potting mix and herbs. I filled the pot with the potting mix up to about 2 inches from the top and then set three tubes in place. I filled them with potting mix and added some more around the edges. Then I set the fourth tube on the top in the center where the other three met. I filled the last one with potting mix and then planted the herbs.     I planted parsley around the bottom of the tubes, and then put kale, swiss chard and thyme in the first layer of tubes. I topped off the pot by planting rosemary in the top tube. I also added a couple of nasturtium seeds between the parsley.   The concept is an easy one that can be adapted to different tube sizes. Using this idea to plant pansies or other flowers would … [Read more...]

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Enchantment in the hills

As I enter my columns into the computer I realize how much my writing has changed over the years. I really need to edit the columns I wrote in the early days.   Anyway, while writing during a lull at one of my recent book signings, I was struck with the idea of blogging about being still. We have a tendency to keep moving along with our busy lives, and rarely slowing down to breathe, to listen and to rejuvenate. No wonder we have so many physical and emotional health issues!   I ran across the following column, which I wrote in 1996. It is about summer camping, which I hope the weather will soon allow us to do, and the last paragraph was appropriate to my current thoughts. Slowing down long enough to nurture my soul with nature is something I really need to do.     Ah, summertime! A time for gathering up the family, the tents, the lantern, the coolers, and heading off to the great campgrounds up north. Oh, don't forget the dog!   Well, we found a campground down south that isn't booked up constantly and I couldn't figure out why. When I called the reservation number for the state campgrounds, I was actually trying to reserve a … [Read more...]

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Life is fragile

Life is truly amazing! We never know, from one minute to the next, what life holds. Every day is a blessing.   I am about half way through a book titled "Life with Grace" about a child's early years after a premature birth at only 24 weeks. The book, written by Jennifer Schwertfeger, Grace's mother, describes what the family went through, mostly from the eyes of Jennifer. She lays out the fears, the medical issues and the emotional trauma of nearly losing Grace many times. She talks about how those things affected her, the weight loss, the sleepless nights, etc., and how her family endured.   Jennifer wrote the book to help others who give birth prematurely. She outlines things her family learned throughout the process in hopes that her family's experience will help others.   Grace is now 9 years old, which is a miracle.   I found the book quite by accident while doing research about publishers and self publishers. There was an interview of Jennifer at Beaver's Pond website that struck a cord with me. Grace's birth story and the reason for writing the book are very much like my book about my mother, "No Time to Quit: Life in a Broken … [Read more...]

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Choice, the architect of our lives

Uploading the columns I have written over the years into the computer is an interesting adventure, both down memory lane and into my past thought processes. It's fascinating when I find ones that speak to me now. The following column was written in 2004. I firmly believe the concepts in this column. Though some of my priorities and choices change with the ebb and flow of life, like the choice to go to Nigeria last fall, I am grateful I live in a country where choice truly is the architect of our lives.   Choice, the architect of our lives   Have you ever thought about how each choice we make affects our lives and the lives of those who are around us? Sometimes, the simplest choices have a domino effect on the future. The choice can be as simple as hopping in a truck to go for a ride with some friends, or as the order of a group of people snowboarding down a hill.   My son, who was third in a group of four going down a mountain, was recently involved in a major snowboarding accident. Because he was third, the last person witnessed the accident and ended up staying with him until the ski patrol showed up.   One change in the order and it … [Read more...]

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Daring to Dream

I have been a journalist for many years, beginning my published career around 1990. Though I haven't written articles for publication the last year-and-one-half, journalism still runs in my blood and my thoughts. In the early 1990s, I wrote columns for the Winsted Journal, which I enjoyed tremendously. That was before blogging became a part of our culture. The following column is one I wrote in February of 1995 during a tough time in my life. There were struggles in my marriage, and I was about to sell my hobby farm. It is a column of gratitude and acknowledgement of the blessings in my life.   Daring to dream Do you remember what you wanted as a kid? I mean really wanted? The hopes and dreams that filled your heart and mind? Sometimes we have a tendency to get so wrapped up in our world that we forget what we really wanted. "This bill has to be paid, or this project needs to be finished." What happens to those hopes and dreams? Do they disappear because we "grow up" and realize how ridiculous they seem? Do they disappear because we decide it's time to live in reality? It's like Robin Williams in the movie "Peter Pan". He forgot what was important to him. … [Read more...]

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New Year resolutions started a month ago

"Happy New Year!" conjures up memories of bubbles floating to the top of non-alcoholic wine in colored stemware, party hats, and noisemakers ushering in the new year while watching the ball drop in Time Square from the comfort of our living room. New Year's Day is spent curled up on a couch with a notebook rewriting our lives with resolutions to become better people in the coming months.   For me, this year was very different. When my supervisor told me our shift was working on New Year's Day I realized there was no reason for me not to work. Celebrations to usher in the new year with goals and plans to move ahead seemed counter productive since I basically started that over a month ago.   The changes began in October when I got back from Nigeria. I had decided my work schedule needed to change, as well as my pay grade. Weekends off were a rarity in retail, and weekends were when my husband was home. For a few weeks I tried to accomplish those goals through changing positions within Home Depot, but nothing worked. Drastic measures were in order.   I put in an application for a job that would give me longer shifts, the ability to work fewer days in a … [Read more...]

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