It has been a good weekend. Friday I worked on my back porch, clearing, cleaning, sweeping, planting, making it generally a nice place to hang out in the cooler parts of this summer. Friday and Saturday were cooler than it has been, so it was actually enjoyable to be working outside. I still want to buy some brightly colored annual flowers for my "window box" planters (that sit on the ledge), but that will come later this week. Here's some of what I've done so far:
I know, it looks a lot like last year, except I bought a new umbrella with a crank and a catch that allows me to angle it, so I can have shade in the late afternoon (this photo faces West, and now that the big maples are gone, there's nothing to provide shade from the late afternoon sun except this little umbrella). The leafy green thing on the right is actually a hydrangea that I bought last year at the farmer's market -- the woman who sold it to me had trained it into a little tree (I'll have to do some trimming to get it back there). The blue pot closest to the camera has dill that re-seeded from the "crop" I had in that pot last year. I only used that dill a few times, but if you put a little bit in yogurt, it makes the nicest sauce for grilled salmon. The lowest green thing you can see is something my neighbor gave me -- she calls it "oregano," and it certainly smells like oregano, but it has leaves that almost look like hydrangea leaves -- sharp-toothed, rather than the small, round leaves that most oregano has. The stems are also thick (kind of like coleus), not like the thin stems of my other oregano. Anybody have a clue? On the left is my fountain, made from a Walmart resin pot and a piece of pipe I found near my fire pit. I'd love to have something on that wall -- but it's vinyl siding and not truly my own home (the church provides this house for me), so I'm not really confident about what I can actually do. You can also see the two new boards that replace splintery ones -- I haven't stained them yet. A parishioner did that repair for me -- the same one that made me the pretty little garden gate that I posted before. Here's another shot:
If I'm standing at my back door facing vaguely northwest, here's what I see. In the little planter on the ledge are coleus, given to me last fall by my spiritual director. They're small just now -- I let them go far too long, rooting in jars of water. But I can tell they're growing. Soon I'll have 1 or 2 more of these planters, also planted with pretty coleus. If I look at this corner, here's what I see: the little concrete garden angel with a broken wing that a clergy buddy won for me at one of those fun gift games where you can open a new gift or steal one from someone else. She was a real pal. The coleus given to me my my spiritual director. Down below, a bird (heron? ibis?) in rusted metal that my sister in law complimented after I bought it at the Pier I "scratch and dent" store. The mosaic pot is one I bought at TJ Maxx, and it has lemons that remind me of the Amalfi Coast in Italy. The bottom is busted out because I left it out and it froze -- but it's still pretty! The gray thing to the right of the hydrangea tree is a funky little bird feeder that I won THIS year at the same silly gift-game event. The pot on the base of the birdbath has a little rosemary that wintered over outside. I transplanted it, so let's see if it survives my merciful ministrations. On the table, at the very, very far left of the picture, you see a small gray thing. It's a sweet little cement pig that my artist friend, Rara Schlitt (the one who painted my black Julian) made and gave me. He's laughing, and I love him. So this view contains a whole bunch of things that have connections to people I love. No wonder I love being here! Behind the porch is my potting shed. When I came here, it was an airless, moldy mess. There was ZERO ventilation, and it smelled like the various fertilizers and poisons stored therein. See that raised up thing at the very top of the roof? It's a vent that the SAME parishioner (the blessed one of the new boards and the garden gate) installed when he replaced the moldy roof. And he also installed a screen door that I bought and painted the same blue as the porch railings. I know, some people think the color on the railings and screen door is way too "loud" -- but it makes me smile. Anyway, he also installed a skylight in the potting shed (other side from this view). So instead of dark and dank, now it's dry and light, though way too messy and full of spiders, still! But this view contains lots of love and affection -- things people gave me and did for me.
I also cleaned and filled THREE hummingbird feeders. Here they are (look for the dots of red, the most difficult being above and slightly to the right of the one that is at the far left):
You can also see the screen door on my potting shed here -- I seldom close the wooden door that is opened within, which is why it stays so dry, light, and well-aired in there. No windows, though, except the skylight. The tree is my flowering cherry, that blooms in both spring and fall. Much clipping and trimming needed, of course. On the left is my bird feeder (you can't see it -- it looks like a little church), but you can see at least the bottom squirrel guard (there's also one on the top), and they seem to be effective.
And now I must go. My family is here -- from Illinois! It's the best birthday gift I could possibly get! I didn't even mention my 56th birthday (Thursday), which included a flat-on-my-face, spread-eagled, face-down fall in the parking lot of the retirement community where I do a monthly communion service. The row of little old ladies who saw me fall, with their faces wrinkled with concern, was solace enough (my Greek chorus to the parking lot tragedy) -- and they patched up my skinned knee and leg in the on-site clinic. A parishioner buddy bought me lunch, which was absolutely lovely -- and then I went off to a dentist appointment (broke a tooth last Monday) that went from a simple $100 repair to a $1175 root canal and crown in the blink of an eye. Happy birthday to me, and thank God for dental insurance, even if the coverage is only partial!
So Friday, Saturday, and Sunday really were more like a birthday, with the pleasant day off from work, when I could engage in home (well, porch) making, and the arrival of gorgeous Roman glass earrings (from an archaeological dig in Israel, where I also obtained Roman glass nearly 10 years ago) from my best friend Cheryl. I put all my cards from friends, family, and parishioners on the mantel, put on my earrings, and began to feel like queen for a day!
And now my family! I spent almost the whole day cooking for them (tabbouli, hummus, curry-rice salad, real brewed iced tea), just enjoying every minute of preparation and anticipating their arrival. And now they're here, and I feel so blessed to have them! Today I feel like a domestic goddess. It was lovely to watch them eating and enjoying some of the goodies that I made for them! Tomorrow I will also enjoy them (even though I have a couple of mandatory meetings), and then they will be off on Tuesday to Disney World in Orlando to watch darling Maddie dance.