Monday, December 26, 2011

in clover: Appreciating December 26

It’s the day after Christmas and all through the house, not a creature is stirring…

This is one of my favorite days of the year. 

Growing up, Christmas was a busy, happy time at our house and my mother nearly worked herself to death, hosting most of our multiple celebrations in our home.   I loved it all….the house full of aunts and uncles, cousins, grandparents and friends, the special food,  music, candles, decorations and traditions and yes, the gifts.  My mom pulled it all off without a hitch but at age 47, I am now (painfully) aware of just how exhausting serving as hostess, even for your very own family, can be. 

As a very young adult newly on my own, I embraced the busy-ness…why only a single Christmas tree to decorate when I could put up three…or four?  Why only one batch of cookies…how about a dozen?  But then, somewhere along the way, I just got tired.  Meanwhile, I had created this expectation in myself that this was how Christmas “was” and I found it very difficult to let it go without feeling guilty for being lazy or selfish or any other number of not very nice words. 

The day AFTER Christmas became my favorite day because generally, nothing was expected of me.     No cooking, no table setting, no last minute gift wrapping.  On the day after Christmas, there was no need to even get dressed.  The truth is that I enjoy all of our holiday traditions…baking and decorating Christmas cookies and filling stockings and wrapping gifts and cooking special food.  I enjoy it all very much but that doesn’t change the fact that when I CHOOSE to serve as hostess, I must always be thinking ahead.  When I am the hostess, even if it’s “just” for my own family, the few days leading up to Christmas will be busy and hectic and yes, tiring.  (Note to self:  plan accordingly.) 

For years I thought of the day after Christmas as a day of recuperation and it certainly was.  But as I woke this morning, I realized that for me, it was and still is much more than just a “lazy day.” 

As a young person, on December 26, I would crawl into bed with my mother, bringing with me one of many new books Santa left for me.  Mom had a stack of new books and magazines too.  We’d pile the pillows up behind us and get comfortable…we’d read our books, often stopping to muse for a few minutes…rehashing all the festivities of the previous days…..”Wasn’t dinner SO good last night?   I think it was the best it’s ever been, don’t you? What was your favorite dish this year?”  

On December 26, we didn’t cook a thing but we’d feast all day…“breakfast”  might be a yeast roll with the last little bit of country ham paired with a few Jordan almonds, one soft peppermint stick, a handful of Carr’s water biscuits and some tiny bites of brie and maybe a few spoonfuls of “Five Cup Salad” (our version of ambrosia). Or maybe it was just a big old bowl of cornbread dressing and gravy.  

Do you like your new sweater?  I LOVE my new sweater!  What about you, do you like those earrings? I do, I really do!  Where did you get find them?  I didn’t find them anywhere…Santa did! Oh, that’s right!  Sorry!  Here, take a taste of this dressing….thank you!  Oh my goodness…that’s so good.  What about our breakfast? It was really good, don’t you think?  The best ever.  Did you hear Aunt G ask me for my  broccoli casserole recipe? I am not surprised!  It was so delicious!  Did you really think so?  Of course!  It was wonderful. Do you like that book because I just wasn't sure….

And that’s pretty much how the day would be. 

Reading, talking, snacking and napping. 

We were tired and yes, we were recuperating.I really had no idea that mostly what were doing was relishing...we were relishing Christmas. I  realize now that has always been my favorite part.

The relishing part. 

This morning it is December 26 and at my house, it sounds like this:

I think our sugar cookies were the best they’ve ever been, don’t you?  I do!  Maybe it’s because they were a little thicker than usual.  You think? That’s funny because I didn’t mean to make them thicker…I was just in hurry to get them in the oven!  Mommy, I really, really want to wear the new shirt Caleb gave me.  Honey, are you sure you like that necklace because I just wasn't sure....Michael….a spicy bloody mary sure would be nice…with a Burke’s Bakery butterflake roll and some cold beef tenderloin…and maybe a piece of the maple sugar candy mom sent?  You know, I'm really glad you suggested tenderloin this year. The kids really enjoyed it.  Maybe we could watch old home movies later…..wanna do that?

My wish for each of us in the coming new year is space and time for relishing our lives.  The busy times and the quiet times.  The holidays and the ordinary days. 

 To relish, meaning: 

 To delight in...
 To enjoy...
 To like...
 To revel...

To appreciate. 



Monday, December 5, 2011

in clover: go begging

“Advent is a time when we beg God for the gift of peace…Even though others might reject God’s gift, we welcome it with joy, hope, and anticipation.  That’s the work, the wisdom, the way of the spiritual life.  We welcome God’s coming into the world with the gift of peace by living in peace here and now with ourselves and everyone.”  John Dear SJ, in a National Catholic Reporter article
What does that mean, anyway?  To beg?  
When I think of begging, I think of something like this:

Beg, verb:  to ask for as a gift, as charity, as a favor.  to ask someone to give or do something.  

But as I read, this caught my eye:

Idiom:  go begging.  to remain open or available.  ex.  Good jobs still go begging in that field.

For Christians, Advent is intended as a time of waiting…of listening…of preparation.  The word advent means “arrival.”  I love Father Dear’s description of Advent.
 “I think of Advent, then, as a Christian season of mindfulness. We take four weeks to return to our center, enter the present moment of peace, live and eat and walk in peace, and wake up to the holy essentials of peace.  Advent offers the chance to start the journey of peace all over again.  It’s a time to practice peacemaking in our day to day, hour by hour life.”

I love his description but I realize that my typical Advent looks nothing like that.
I wonder what it would look like, to genuinely treat Advent as a season of mindfulness?   Some of my Advent activity is self imposed.  I could start there.  Some activities are beyond my control, like things at school and sports activities and even business meetings at church, but I can do my best to make conscious choices about how I spend my Advent time.  For a people pleasing Enneagram type 2 like me, saying no will likely feel intensely uncomfortable.  I can prepare for that discomfort in advance.
How would it feel if I made an effort to limit as many “ordinary” activities as possible during Advent?    I could take care not to schedule routine appointments during Advent...things like dental checkups could be taken care of before or after Advent.    I could speak to leaders of my Christian community and ask them to consider suspending “ordinary” meetings during Advent.  And, when I am in charge of organizing meetings and events, I could mindfully avoid scheduling them during Advent.  There would still be busyness, but it would be a start.  Of course that is only the beginning.  As a friend reminded me recently, sometimes we clear our plates of busyness only to head right back to the table for seconds…heaping  our plates full, all over again. 
This year, I can do my best to leave a few hours unscheduled.   I can leave a little empty space… an invitation to Spirit.  I can do my best to stay open and available.  

During Advent this year, I can intentionally choose to let ordinary ways “go begging.” 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

in clover: you say joyful, I say stressful

A few days ago, early, early in the morning, just as I was beginning to even realize that yes, I was awake, it hit me like a ton of bricks...."Holy S**T - I've got to get busy."  My brain started screaming, "GET UP NOW!  There's so much to do.  You will NEVER get it all done."   My brain was in full panic mode one minute and then, waving the white flag the next, "You might as well just lay here.  You're screwed anyway.  It's too late to do it all and you're just a a big old failure!" 

Yes, it's here.  THAT time of year.  The Holiday Season. Thanksgiving is tomorrow and Advent is beginning.

Time to deck the halls, prepare the feast(s), give time and money to those less fortunate and, above all, spend meaningful, quality time with friends and family!  (And oh yeah, I'm a Christian so I need to figure out how to squeeze some time in with G-O-D too.)

Here's what the dictionary has to say about the word "holiday."

The word holiday derived from the notion of "Holy Day", and gradually evolved to its current form. The word holiday comes from the Old English word hāligdæg. The word originally referred only to special religious days. In modern use, it means any special day of rest or relaxation, as opposed to normal days away from work or school...

I don't know about you but when I think of a holiday, the words rest and relaxtion rarely come up for me. 

I love the holiday season...I love being with family, I love decorating our home and I love cooking special meals.  I even love choosing special gifts.  Most of my friends say they love it too.

There is a problem though.  How do we do all of these extra things to make the holidays "special"  when our normal, everyday lives often feel so stressful?  

Perhaps I could stop asking you and focus on asking myself. "How do I do it?"  And the answer to that is, "Not very well."  

Entering into spiritual direction and spending a year of intentional contemplative living has completely transformed me.  Instead of poking Michael in the ribs, this year I waited for him to wake up on his own...before launching into the screeching, frantic litany that has become as much a tradition this time of year as the sweet potato casserole ....."I CANNOT do this alone.  You HAVE to help me."  And there must have been an echo in the room, because the same voice that just a few moments before been yelling at me was now urgently shouting at a bewildered and half asleep Michael, "GET UP NOW! There's so much to do!"  

It's totally unfair because Michael is completely willing to do anything I ask. He really pitches in and does a great deal of the work in our home.  I understand why it hurts his feelings when I start screeching like that.  Especially if he is still half asleep.  Honey, if you are reading this, I'm sorry.  

I don't have an easy answer for myself and I sure don't for any of you.  If you have suggestions, do us all a favor and post them in the comment section.  I am very organized. I've read all the books AND implemented many of the suggestions I found in them.  I've cut back. I've simplified.

The fact is, this time of year, everyone wants in on the fun...there are school parties, team parties, office parties, bookclub parties, and neighborhood parties. If you are part of any sort of community, odds are there will be a party. And you will have to bring a dish.  And maybe a Secret Santa gift.

There are holiday sights to see, special plays and music concerts, dance recitals and holiday sports tournaments to attend.  There are ministries to participate in that are meaningful and important,especially this time of year.

Anyway you slice it, this is a busy time of year. The only option we have then is to how we choose to respond.

You know how trees sometimes grow tall and wide and beautiful but in doing so, they begin to get in the way of powerlines?  Often, without thought for aesthetics or even the longterm health of the tree, utility companies will hastily whack off a tree top.  Or a whole side of a tree...leaving in their thoughtless wake scarred and sometimes fatally wounded trees.  I wish we would respect the trees.

One year, in an overreaction to the stress in my life, I did that to our Christmas celebration.  I pruned it back so hard that it was nearly unrecognizable.  That didn't work any better than the previous years of living for two months on caffeinne, alchohol and 3 hours of sleep, all to ensure a "perfect" holiday.  

On the other hand, those lovely, beautiful trees can get in the way of the powerlines and, when the days of wind and snow and ice are upon us, those trees can lose branches or even topple over...they can damage the powerlines...leaving us without light.  Leaving us in the cold. We must respect the power lines too. 

It's a delicate balance. We could do our best to stay mindful.  We could do our best to honor the needs of our bodies...for rest, for sleep, for healthy food.  We could do our best to carve out silent, still quiet moments in the midst of loud, chaotic, joyful busy-ness, wherever we can.

I will pray for you this joyful, stressful, meaningful, hectic, spirit filled, busy holiday season.   

I ask that you pray for me as well.  (And Michael.)



Saturday, November 5, 2011

in clover: love apple

love apple

A tomato.

[Probably translation of French pomme d'amour (from the former belief in the tomato's aphrodisiacal powers) : pomme, apple + de, of + amour, love.]

Lots of folks where I come from in Kentucky grow tomatoes.  Old people and young people.  Rich people and poor people.  Country people and city people.  Some of us have one tomato plant in a pot.  Some of us have more tomato plants than we can count.  

My grandfather grew more tomatoes than anyone I have ever known.  He never sold his but he sure did love to give them away.  When I took Michael "home" to Western Kentucky for the first time, my grandfather, in the early morning hours, left a love offering at our door...a large dirty box of freshly picked, just right ripe, homegrown tomatoes.  Michael pondered what we would do with so many tomatoes.  I showed him one way my grandfather had taught me to eat them.  We sliced the sun warmed fruit, layered the red, juicy slices on a platter, sprinkled them ever so slightly with salt, and ate them for breakfast. 

Michael and I have shared many breakfasts, none quite so memorable as that one though. We both remember so well sharing those misshapen, dusted with garden soil, ripe, warm, red, juicy orbs. The day that began with that breakfast was the day we first told each other, "I love you."  Those tomatoes are a part of our shared sacred story...a seedleaf of the twining vine that is our relationship. Thank you, so much, Grandaddy. 

This year, I planned to have many, many tomatoes but I encountered a soil problem (read about it here) so I got a late and meager harvest. 

Still, by late summer, most days I could pick a few rlpe, red, pink, or yellow tomatoes.  My absolute favorite was named "Sweet Baby Girl," a cherry tomato I purchased from Wilson's Nursery (read about it here).  Not a single one of the sweet, small fruits this plant produced made it into our house.  They were so delicious, I polished them off on my shirt and ate them in the garden. 

Not too long ago, I picked the last of my tomatoes.  Our weather has dipped into cold temps a few times.  Cold temperatures (whether on the vine in the garden or stored in the refridgerator) alters the taste of fresh tomatoes. The vines were beginning to wither.  I pulled them from the ground and gave them to my hens...a feast of green vines and fruit.  

Here they are...some of the last of the harvest. I laid them on the blue table in the potager.  I admired the imperfection of the skins, the diversity of size, color, shape.  I anticipated the flavor within.

I took some of the tomatoes and I made a simple Tomato Basil soup. Michael took one taste and asked me to double, at least, the number of tomato plants in our garden next year. 

At a party I hosted recently, a good friend offered a beautiful dish starring tomatoes grown in her own garden.

Yes, we Kentuckians are in love with our homegrown tomatoes. But now our growing season has come to an end and we must purchase our tomatoes either in a can or from a grocery or market.  I wonder what kind of cosmic coincidence served to deliver to my email inbox,  on the same day I removed the last of the tomato vines from my garden, an invitation to read a book about the tomato industry, specifically, the Florida winter tomato industry. 

I really wish you all would read this book. You can click here to order it from Amazon:  "Tomatoland:  How Modern Industrial Agriculture Destroyed Our Most Alluring Fruit" by Barry Estabrook.  Or check your local library or bookstore.  In this post, I will quote this book extensively. (If words are italicized, they are directly quoted from the book.)

Until I read this book, I did not know that one third of the fresh tomatoes raised in the US are raised in Florida or that "from October to June, virtually all the fresh-market, field-grown tomatoes in the country come from the Sunshine State, which ships more than one billion pounds to the United States, Canada and other countries every year."   I did not know that Americans bought 5 billion dollars worth of commercially grown tomatoes in 2009 or that today's commercially grown tomato is far less nutritious, containing 30 - 60% less vitamin c, thiamin, niacin and calcium but 14 times as much sodium, than a commercially grown tomato sold in a supermarket during the Kennedy adminstration, just 50 years ago.

One thing I did know was that most store bought tomatoes might look pretty but they sure don't taste very good. I didn't give it much thought, other than  frequently refusing tomatoes on my sandwiches and salads at restaurants.

I did not know that Florida growers cannot export any old tomato variety they might choose to plant.  The author explains that "because their coloration and shape don't conform to what the all-powerful Florida Tomato Committee says a tomato should look like...the cartel like Committee...decrees that slicing tomatoes shipped from South Florida in the winter must be flawlessly smooth, evenly round, and of a certain size.  Taste is not a consideration."  

I did not know that sandy Florida fields are almost always treated with a chemical called methyl bromide in preparation for planting tomatoes in a process one grower says is "like chemotherapy."  When I googled methyl bromide one of the first sites that popped up was from the Illinois Department of Emergency Preparedness...I noticed the word "bioterrorism" in the url address.  "Banned from most crops, methyl bromide can still be used on strawberries, eggplants, peppers and tomatoes....The fumigant can kill humans after brief exposure in small concentrations.  Sublethal doses cause disruptions in estrogen production, sterility, birth defects, and other reproductive problems."  

But that's just the beginning for a Florida tomato plant.  "To combat...pests, a conventional Florida farmer has a fearsome array of more than one hundred chemicals at his disposal....They include carcinogens, chemicals that cause damage to the brain and nervous system...reproductive system...birth defects...chemicals that are so dangerous that even brief exposure can kill a person outright.....An acre of Florida tomatoes gets hit with five times as much fungicide and six times as much pesticide as an acre of California tomatoes."  (Most California tomatoes are grown for canning.)

I didn't know those things specifically but I had a pretty good idea that conventionally grown fruits and vegetables are not very good for you and that organically grown food is safer.  I am ashamed to say that my "splurging" to buy organics was based on a desire to keep my family safe and healthy.  I never gave a thought to those who work and unfortunately, live in toxic clouds of chemicals.  "Workers are exposed to those chemicals on a daily basis.  The toll includes eye and respiratory ailments, ...and babies born with horrendous birth defects."  (And by horrendous, the author means limbless babies...babies born to migrant farm worker mothers who have neither arms nor legs, babies born with no identifiable sex organs, or born missing eyes, ears, a nose, kidneys, an anus.) 

But then I read something that I had absolutely no idea about.  "Less than an hour after leaving Naples, {a popular vacation destination for many Kentuckians} the city of Immokalee....ground zero for modern-day slavery....any American who has eaten a winter tomato, either purchased at a supermarket or on top of a fast food salad, has eaten a fruit picked by the hand of a slave....That's not an assumption....That is a fact." 

The descriptions that followed caused me to weep....inhuman living conditions,  beatings, murders, "workers sold to crew bosses to pay off bogus debts...held in chains, pistol whipped, locked at night into shacks in chain-link enclosures patrolled by armed guards....In this world, slavery is tolerated, or at best ignored.  Labor protections for workers predate the Great Depression.  Child labor and minimum wage laws are flouted.  Basic antitrust measures do not apply.  The most minimal housing standards are not enforced....All of this is happening in plain view, but out of sight, only a half-hour's drive from one of the wealthiest areas in the United States."  

And in the end, after all of this death and despair, poverty, misery, murder and enslavement...despite the enormous cost, that tomato DOESN'T EVEN TASTE GOOD. 

That tomato is, in fact, often nearly inedible.  But we buy them anyway.  "We buy winter tomatoes, but that doesn't mean we like them.  In survey after survey, fresh tomatoes fall at or near the bottom in rankings of consumer satisfaction...."No consumer tastes a tomato in the grocery store before buying it.  I have not lost one sale due to taste,' one grower said.  'People just want something red to put in their salad.""   

As Estabrook states, "Not everyone can grow a garden or head out to a neighborhood farmer's market in search of the ideal tomato."

So what can we do?

There are other alternatives for growing healthy, safe, tasty tomatoes commercially.  The book discusses them and the growers who are making a living in this way, all the while providing safe living and working conditions for their employees and paying a fair wage.  One farm mentioned, Lady Moon Farms, has made a sucess of organic farming in Florida, something most conventional growers would claim impossible. Another farm featured in the book is Eckerton Hill Farm, located outside New York City. This farm supplies many of the gourmet restaurants in NYC.  Eckerton Farm is not organic.  Tim Stark, the owner, says he is not organized enough to keep up with the required governmental paperwork.  However, he has only used fungicides once in fourteen years, to prevent blight from claiming his entire crop, and he applied it to the plants himself.  He does not use chemical fertilizers.  THESE are the types of tomatoes we can buy.

We can be mindful of the taste of the food we eat, and mindful of from where and how that food comes to our table.  As I type this, I am listening to a meditation I am considering offering at a Disciples of Christ sponsored Green Retreat.  In the meditation, the guide instructs me to "feel the joyful pride within you swell, at being a part of loving the earth." 

That's what we can do.

As People of Faith or People of Conscience, we can buy our food intentionally and mindfully...and then we can feel the joyful pride within each of us swell...pride at being a part of loving the earth, loving our bodies, and loving our neighbors (the workers and their children who toil in the fields) as ourselves. 

We can reject what passes as a tomato on most store shelves today. We can say no to the high price it carries and the philosophy behind it.

Instead, we can embrace the love apple.



Monday, October 31, 2011

in clover: happy halloween

I love Halloween.  I have wonderfully fuzzy memories of trick or treating with friends and cousins.  It was so exciting to be outside after dark. I loved wearing what my grandmother called a "false face." 

I remember coming home and my mother taking a break from watching scary movies in order to "inspect" my candy...I still think some of that candy was not so much suspect as it was tasty! 

When I moved into my own apartment, I planned my first Trick or Treat night with great anticipation.  Unfortunately, the large apartment complex (mostly young singles) didn't attract even a single trick or treater.

By the next year I had moved to an older home in a well established, charmingly shabby neighborhood.  I don't know how many bags of candy I went through! So jealous were my friends who were still living in apartment complexes, that they began to join me.  We'd share a pizza and hand out candy until we ran out.  When I started dating Michael, I knew he had real spouse potential when he enthusiastically helped me carve multiple jack o' lanterns. 

Over the years, our Halloween tradition grew to include friends and their children, food and drink and eery Halloween decor.

Our style is "Vintage Spooky" rather than gory.

This morning, I took a walk down memory are some images from Halloweens past....

Big C at the pumpkin patch when he wasn't so big...

Candy corn centerpiece...french bread trays are so versatile for display!

That candy corn is hard for little fingers to resist!

For entertainment we have had treasure hunts, pumpkin carving, apple bobbing but this particular year a mysterious fortune teller showed up at the door!

Toddler c and pumpkins...

Michael still enjoys pumpkin carving...

This Max costume, from Where The Wild Things Are, was a gift from my sister.  Both C's...big and little...had a ball wearing it!  

It was exciting, the year Big C chose a Spiderman costume, as I myself had masqueraded as Spiderman, many moons ago....I added the spider garlands that year...

This year little c chose a pink and white kitty cat costume and we added the Happy Haunting banner to the front door...

For adults we've had several versions of haunted bars.  One year we served "Boos" in a large vintage French jug and paid homage to the movie, The Shining.

Another year's version featured Poison Pomegranate cocktails.  I made the sign from a piece of cardboard and a fine tipped sharpie...did my best to make my handwriting look "spidery."  My favorite part was singing the edges of the cardboard with a lighter. Don't bother polishing the silver!  It looks much more spooky to leave it tarnished.

This year we had a ladybug and a knight in shining armor...

Big C made this paperbag pumpkin when he was three...and it is one of my most prized possessions!

Cinderella on the move....

For Halloween 2011, circumstances did not allow us to throw a big bash but both c's told me that they really wanted me to "haunt our house" so out came the cheese cloth, the bats, the rats, the ravens....and candy corn, the spooky candles and the spider web table cloths. 

New this year was an owl with real feathers and amber colored glass eyes....

A witch's work table....

And a garland I made from old skeleton keys and black velvet ribbon...

The poison pomegranate martinis magically reappeared!

With less than two hours to go before Trick or Treating begins, I have to whip up a little Halloween supper...time to google recipes using zombie eyeballs and spider parts!

Happy Halloween, everyone! Be safe.  Have fun!



Sunday, October 16, 2011

in clover: time for a change

My summer plantings are growing a bit tired.  Glorious fall will come and go far too quickly for my taste but I can't resist a bit of a makeover by the back door, even if it's shortlived.

A few of the summer annuals and herbs are still thriving in the windowboxes by my back door but as the temperature grows brisk outside, I find the pinks and purples I favor in summer no longer please me. 

After removing dead or near dead annuals, I am left with this....

I have a hard time disposing of any living plant so I relocated the geraniums from the windowboxes to other pots and moved the green planters and ferns to the hen garden. 

I find it both exciting and intimidating...the initial confrontation with a (nearly) clean slate.

I don't like to spend a lot of money on a short term seasonal planting so I do my best to use what I already have and simply fill in the blank spots. I was very pleased to find these pots of cheerful violas at a local gardening center. They were quite reasonably priced to begin with...and they were marked down to half off! 

There was parsley and basil elsewhere in the garden still doing fairly well so I distributed them evenly in the boxes.  They give a nice, green backdrop.  Then I spent some time experimenting, using things I already had. 

It's fun to take a fresh look at things in use elsewhere in my house or garden and things stored.  Sometimes I even find an old favorite I have completely forgotten about! Sometimes things find their way to me....

This rusty planter is actually a vintage cheese mold.  I bought it in England from a moving sale at Cotswold museum.  When that container arrived in Ky, a friend purchased the cheese mold and it lived with her for several years.  This summer, when she decided to make room for some new things, she offered it back to me.  (Thank you, friend!) 

I plopped it under the dogwood tree out back but have been longing to try it as a planter.  The pansies and violas that I chose will soon plump up and fill out and I think it will look really cute.  That's the thing about growing have to give them a little time to grow!  In the meantime, I find the planter itself very interesting and pleasing and the rustiness of it is a nice contrast to the bright orange and yellows of the flowers.

With the cheesemold serving as my inspiration, I set off in search of more rusty loveliness. 

I "stole" this pot from the outdoor dining table. I added the handle-less rusty garden tools to the pot earlier in the summer so it was ready to go.   

The rusty clock face and garden hose nozzles were already sitting by the back door.  I found the rusty rake head on my potting bench. 

Basil grew happily in this wire market basket all summer (just line with moss to plant a basket).  I moved it from the hen garden and filled the bare spaces with violas.  The blue French enamel body pitcher went from the steps to the tabletop.   19 (a french enamel house number) lived in the hen garden this summer but now adds a pop of cobalt blue to my fall vignette. 

I put the rest of the violas in the window boxes and other pots and after an hour or so of playing with my toys, I had this....

It is entirely possible that tomorrow I will re-rearrange but for now, I am happy with this. 

The back door no longer feels tired.  I can see little pops of orange just over the top of the monitor while I work and we also enjoy the windowboxes from our dining room. 

Happy Fall, ya'll.

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