Family Saints for Friday

Geranium Roots

This week’s Fantastic Friday post comes from way back in March of 2011. Four years later, my geranium slips are rooting in mason jars, and I’m as crazy about them as ever.. The Man of Steel, now four years older after celebrating another birthday on March 8, is as kind and quiet as this post made him out to be.

My husband is a wise man. He has yet to say a word about the four, count ‘em, four mason jars sitting in front of the east windows, hogging daylight.

He hasn’t commented about how the jars are crammed with geranium slips or how the wintered over geraniums, from whence the slips came, now look like skinned rats in their flower pots.

He never complained about the dozens of gallon milk jugs in the basement full of last summer’s rain water, some used to water the potted geraniums through the winter and much it now slowly evaporating from the mason jars chuck full of geranium slips.

Yes, Hiram is a wise man. He knows better than to editorialize when I go on one of my heritage horticultural tears. This month’s tear is all about Grandma Josie Hess’s heritage geranium, the sainted family flower given to Grandma Josie by her mother, Cora Newell. Grandma Josie gave slips to her children (including my mother), who gave them to her three children, one of whom (that would be me) has become slightly obsessed with propagating the sainted plant.

To tell you the truth, I’m pretty pleased with myself for remembering to cut down the wintered-over geraniums this early and setting the slips in water. Usually I think of it in late April when it’s too late for either the old plants to recover from pruning or for the new slips to root before it’s time to plant them outdoors. But this year I thought of it in March. A minor miracle considering how forgetful I’ve been this winter.

Come to think of it, Hiram hasn’t said a word about my minor memory miracle or my more normal forgetfulness. At least I can’t remember if he’s made any comments about either one.

In any case, my husband is a wise man. Almost a saint. Right up there with the sainted family flower.

Quiet.
Lovely.
Hardy.
Enduring.
Patient.
Faithful.

No wonder I love them both so much.

Three Thoughts for Thursday

Ivy geranium

  1. Contentment = A morning walk with my husband, hanging sheets on the line, and admiring the blooms on the ivy geranium hanging outside the kitchen door.
  2. Who but Terry Pratchett would describe an elderly woman’s face as “a playground for wrinkles.” When I grow up, I want to be able to write descriptions with that kind of creativity.
  3. Someday, if my grandchildren or great-grandchildren are at the mercy of adults in a country much richer and more powerful than ours, I hope no citizens shout obscenities at them and hold signs saying they’re not welcome.

Three Gotta-Love-September Thoughts for Thursday

pink geranium

  1. The 8 and 5 candles purchased for Mom’s 85th birthday on September 3 can be switched around for the man of steel’s #58 this coming March and for my #58 in July. Talk about a triple play.
  2. The school supply clearance aisles are full of cheap, Christmas stocking stuffer delights. Ka-chin.
  3. The ivy geranium outside our kitchen door is loaded with blossoms. Can you see me smile?

What do you love about September? Leave a comment.

Hoarders–Another Kind of Cat Lady

 

Our family closet doesn’t include too many cat lady skeletons. Mainly because many of us are allergic to cats. Which goes to show that even the dark cloud of allergies can have a silver lining. On the other hand, our family closet contains what I consider to be a variant of cat lady skeletons.

Hoarders.

Just a few, though. Well, maybe more than a few. Maybe a lot. Okay, to be both accurate and ironic, our closet is crammed full of them. There’s a deceased great aunt who could have been the inspiration for A & E’s Hoarder show. Several quilting aunts and cousins live by the motto, “She who dies with the most fabric wins.” And Grandma Josie, who raised eight kids during the Great Depression, saved yarn and fabric scraps, buttons, bread sacks, flower slips and tin cans for potting them until she gave up housekeeping at age 93.

The scary thing is, I’m becoming a lot like her.

Each fall, when the first frost threatens, my hoarding instinct begins, a mad attempt to repot my geraniums, asparagus ferns, and vinca vines so they can winter in the house. Every year, my collection of winter greenery grows to more closely resemble my grandmother’s ninety-seven geraniums in tin cans on bedroom windowsills and her scores of African violets arrayed on special plant stands in front of the picture windows in her living room and den.

And I enjoy having them around.

During the weekly watering of the plants, artistically arranged in front of east, west, and south bedroom windows upstairs, I take great pleasure in plucking off dead leaves and rearranging pots to take advantage of the sunlight. Inside, I feel just like Grandma’s face looked when, as a child, I watched her tend her plants.

I might as well jump into the closet with all the other family skeletons and get comfortable.

Except I only act this way for half the year. And only about certain plants. Also, I throw away bread sacks, don’t like to quilt or knit, and gave the button box to my daughter.

So maybe the crowd in the closet won’t accept me.

Which would be perfectly fine since the closet’s getting pretty crowded. Mainly because nobody inside it can throw anything away. But I can, and I do. So don’t even think about nominating me for Hoarders. And pay no attention to the year’s supply of toilet paper in the basement.

I have no idea who put it there.

 

Family Roots

Roots may be Alex Haley’s claim to fame, but this spring I’m claiming the title for me and my house.

Why?

Because the cuttings from the family heritage geraniums I put in water more than a month ago have sprouted roots aplenty. This goofy gardener has four jars full of sassy green magic just waiting for the weather to warm up so they can be planted. And that’s not all!

During rooting season, I showered the future green giants with tender, loving care – changing their water weekly, removing dead leaves, and cutting off rotting stems. More than that, I paid attention to details like which slips rooted most easily, the attributes of the spots that rooted, and other scientific observations. Insights gleaned include the following:

  • Tender, green stems root from joints where leaves have been stripped away.
  • Hardened brown stems won’t root. Ever. At all. Period.
  • If a long slip doesn’t sprout roots, cut a few inches off the bottom, strip a few more leaves away and give it another try. Following this method, my root rate was about 80%.
  • Some slips won’t root, no matter what you do.

Pretty impressive, hmmm? I’m thinking a new career in agronomy is just around the corner. As soon my dislike of dirty hands, muddy shoes, weeding, hard work, and earthworms abate. In the meantime, I’m basking in the ancient approval of my ancestors.

My mother is proud of me.
My Grandma Josie would be proud of me.
So would her mother, Cora Rose Newell – the giver of the original geranium.

Partly for keeping family history alive. But mostly because I rooted 30 geranium slips which will save a good chunk of change when purchasing bedding plants in the next few weeks. Because the women in our family are a stingy clan. We are firmly rooted in the belief that the best things in life are free. Which means it’s time for a new project. How to make potting soil this spring instead of buying it from the store.

Just thinking of the potential savings makes me happy, happy, happy!

Family Saints

My husband is a wise man. He has yet to say a word about the four, count ‘em, four mason jars sitting in front of the east windows, hogging daylight.

He hasn’t commented about how the jars are crammed with geranium slips or how the wintered over geraniums, from whence the slips came, now look like skinned rats in their flower pots.

He never complained about the dozens of gallon milk jugs in the basement full of last summer’s rain water, some used to water the potted geraniums through the winter and much it now slowly evaporating from the mason jars chuck full of geranium slips.

Yes, Hiram is a wise man. He knows better than to editorialize when I go on one of my heritage horticultural tears. This month’s tear is all about Grandma Josie Hess’s heritage geranium, the sainted family flower given to Grandma Josie by her mother, Cora Newell. Grandma Josie gave slips to her children (including my mother), who gave them to her three children, one of whom (that would be me) has become slightly obsessed with propagating the sainted plant.

To tell you the truth, I’m pretty pleased with myself for remembering to cut down the wintered-over geraniums this early and setting the slips in water. Usually I think of it in late April when it’s too late for either the old plants to recover from pruning or for the new slips to root before it’s time to plant them outdoors. But this year I thought of it in March. A minor miracle considering how forgetful I’ve been this winter.

Come to think of it, Hiram hasn’t said a word about my minor memory miracle or my more normal forgetfulness. At least I can’t remember if he’s made any comments about either one.

In any case, my husband is a wise man. Almost a saint. Right up there with the sainted family flower.

Quiet.
Lovely.
Hardy.
Enduring.
Patient.
Faithful.

No wonder I love them both so much.

Tending the Flowers

Over a week ago, I scheduled an appointment with my husband, “Next Wednesday,” I proclaimed fiercely, “I get three hours of your time.” He looked slightly wild-eyed as I exacted a promise from him.

Wednesday is his day off, and he usually fills it with middle school youth group work, guitar-making, lawn mowing, whatever. Since it’s the only day when the two off us can do yard work, most years I don’t think ahead and nab a spot on his calendar before his time is committed elsewhere. Then, about mid-November, I kick myself because I didn’t salvage the Grandma Newell heritage geranium or bring any other plants inside before a killing frost.

Normally, it’s not such a big deal because Mom took cuttings from her Grandma Newell geraniums in the fall and gave me new ones in the spring. But not this year. With her at my brother’s for the winter, it’s up to me to tend the geraniums. Hence, my overbearing attitude when scheduling yard work with my hubby.

Yesterday was a great day for yard work – sunny, no wind, cool. We started at nine o’clock, weeding the flower beds which have been sadly neglected since Anne left for college. I found a sack of daffodil bulbs Mom gave me earlier in the summer, so Hiram dug a trench and I planted them, too. Finally, we took down the hanging pots and transplanted asparagus fern, vinca vine and the heritage geraniums. For now they’re all on the porch, adjusting to semi-indoor conditions before they come inside for the winter.

By noon we were done. Hiram thought the fence and all the other places where the pots had been hanging looked bare. But I focused more on the flower beds which look so much better, I can quit closing my eyes every time I walk by them.

Yesterday was a good day, but a sad day, too. I can’t deny the approaching winter or the change in Mom’s health which don’t allow me to rely on her anymore. But as we got in the car to go out to lunch, as a sort of celebration, the fall mum by the fence caught my eye. It’s the only mum of its kind that survived a late frost two springs ago. It not only survived, it’s thriving, spectacular.

The sight of it cheered me and gave me hope. If it could make it in spite of the killing frost, maybe the Grandma Newell geraniums will survive my erratic care. Maybe they’ll bloom for another generation or more when I entrust them to Anne’s flower and beauty-loving hands. Mom, I know, would like that.