Recycled Raised Beds

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Recycled Raised Beds

Several months ago my bonus son (son-in-law, his name is Abe) and my daughter, Genette, made a gate for me out of wood pallets. They still need to come and help with building another gate for the other side of the house.

In the meantime, I have a pile of pallets sitting in my driveway, and it is more than will be needed for the gate, so I am using some for other projects. I wanted some raised beds for my vegetables, and there the pallets sat, so an idea flashed. I could make raised beds out of the pallets in a matter of minutes! The result was good.

To make the pallets sit flush on the ground, I took off the bottom slats and used the wood and nails to close in the sides. I had some black plastic to put on the ground to help with weed control. I put the pallets down on the plastic, filled them with good, rich dirt and planted my cucumbers and swiss chard.

I wanted a protective dome over the plants to keep the birds and bunnies away (hopefully), so I checked my “stash” to see what I could use. My “stash” is discarded items I’ve saved that I use in my garden instead of purchasing new ones. Last fall a friend moved into a different home and there was fencing and chicken wire left there by the previous owner, so she asked me if I wanted it. Of course, I said yes, knowing that I would use it in my garden, though I didn’t know how at the time. I added it to my “stash.” I also had a metal grate (that I kept from an outdoor wood grill) along with some metal display baskets (from a shelving unit in a large store). These things combined became my protective dome.

In a nutshell, I paid nearly nothing for my raised beds, and in a few weeks, I’ll have vegetables on my table! I’ve got one finished now, and two more ready for the dirt. One will have lettuce and the other will have, probably, some herbs. I’ll post some more pictures later as my vegetables grow and I fill up the other two pallets.

From discarded into useful. Tell me your own stories about recycling and reusing.

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Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit

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Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit

I remember my mother saying “Rabbit, rabbit, rabbit,” on the first day of each month for good luck. I have friends on facebook who post rabbits on the first of the month in recognition of the phrase; ok, I might do that too. I’ve always known repeating rabbit three times was for good luck, but I don’t understand why it is supposed to be lucky. Carrying a rabbit's foot is supposed to be good luck, but it’s not so lucky for the rabbit. There is a rabbit in the Chinese horoscope; I don’t know much about that either. There are rabbits in my back yard and they eat my vegetables, so that’s not lucky for me, but the rabbits enjoy it.

Wikipedia, the mecca of all knowledge, says the phrase originated in Great Britain and North America. Was that simultaneously? Did a person on each continent have the same revelation at the same time and announce, “We must say, ‘Rabbit, rabbit, rabbit!’ on the first day of each month or we shall not have good luck!”

I read that President Roosevelt said it on the first day of the month. Was it lucky for him? I have no idea. The Energizer Bunny just keeps going and going… why is it pink?

In the end, sometimes we say or do things because of tradition, a touch of superstition, an element of hope, or maybe just for fun. I say rabbit, rabbit, rabbit because of all of those things — it certainly isn’t going to hurt and what if it does bring good luck?

So, on this first day of May, join me in saying, “Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit,” and have a very Hoppy Month of May!

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An Unplanned Journey

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An Unplanned Journey

My husband Steven and I took an unplanned trip to our “old stompin’ ground” in Upstate New York at the beginning of this month. Steven’s father’s health had taken a turn for the worse, and he left this earth in the early morning of April 4. Steven and I journeyed to New York to be with his family, so the trip was bittersweet.

We packed up our van in the rain and drove to West Virginia to my niece Samantha’s house. It was nice seeing her, her husband, and her two little girls that I call my “redheaded fairies.” Those two are just so cute and lively you can’t help but smile when you see them. The following day we headed for Albany, NY, by way of Brook’s B-B-Q in Oneonta, a local favorite you can only get in that area (It’s a must for us whenever we go back to Upstate!). We completed the trip to Albany, (through more rain), and stopped by Steven’s mother Wanda’s place. His sister (Kristen) had arrived from California, so we were able to visit with them for a couple of hours before going on to our hotel.

The next day we found time to go to my brother Joel’s house to have lunch with him, his wife (Donna), and my nephew (Millard). Joel still lives on the property where my father lived as a boy and where my parents raised my siblings and me. All of the original buildings were built in the 1800s and are in rough shape, but it still feels like home. The people on our mountain speak a bit differently than most; I enjoyed being able to speak in the tone, lilt, and vocabulary that I grew up knowing. After lunch, Joel and I walked around the property, and I was able to collect a few relics to take home to North Carolina.

The next few days were spent with Steven’s family making plans. We settled on the obituary write up for the newspaper and a date for the burial ceremony during the summer. It is not uncommon for people in the north to wait for warmer months to bury remains; the frozen ground makes it almost impossible to dig a grave. Steven and I also took some time out to walk around a couple of thrift stores to debrief; sometimes you have to step away.

After several days, it was time for Steven and me to begin the trip back to North Carolina. We said our goodbyes to his family and left Albany. We decided to take a detour and drive past the house Steven grew up in. We were surprised by all of the very interesting changes made to the home and property: buildings were being constructed and several statues were placed on the grounds. A lot was going on; still, the house remained the original dark red color that we were both familiar with.

From there we drove past the country church where Steven and I were married. There it was, still looking the same. About 30 miles later we passed by SUNY Cobleskill, where Steven and I met, & smiled as we drove by. It's been nearly 40 years since we said, "hello" to each other there (and 36 since we said, "I do.")… I think it's gonna work out for us.

Then it was back to my family farm to pick up the relics I had collected. After a brief visit with Joel and Donna, we packed up the van and got back on the road. We spent the day traveling back to West Virginia, spent the night with Samantha’s family, then drove on to Lynchburg, VA to spend a couple of days with Genette (our oldest daughter) and her husband, Abe. Steven and I were glad we stopped there for a couple of days. We are now home again in North Carolina.

There are stories in all that we do; people in our lives, the journeys we take, and the choices we make. Then the day comes when we pass on and leave a space on this earth for someone else.

For now, this time belongs to you and me, so let’s LIVE!!

Dance, sing, go outside, visit friends, call someone, have a smoothie, pick strawberries, collect relics, jump in the water, splash in the rain, play with the redheaded fairies in your life… just don’t pass on without leaving a story behind.

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What a Difference a Year Makes

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What a Difference a Year Makes

Today, April 17, is our son Bryon’s birthday.

This time last year, our lives looked a lot different than they do today. Steven (my husband) was in California with Bryon taking him to his final week of chemo. I was at my daughter Genette’s house in Virginia on April 13th when he finished his last treatment. I found myself there again this year, but with my husband. I flashed back to receiving Steven’s phone call that chemo was finished; I had a total meltdown when I heard that news! Finished!

The picture of Bryon that Steven sent me on that final treatment day was hard to see; he looked completely drugged out. But this year? This year Bryon is, well, Bryon again. His beard is back, his smile is back, and his joking attitude is back. There are residual effects from having the chemo, of course (he fights with neuropathy in his feet), but Bryon, my son, is returning.

This year, Bryon has a fiancé, Amber, and they will be getting married in November. Amber stayed by Bryon’s side and helped him fight his way through the challenges of cancer and chemo. I would say that I am excited about her joining our family, however I feel as though she is already a part of us.

Last year in February I went out to California to be with Bryon as he started his fight with chemotherapy. Carmen (our youngest daughter) went next to be with him for the second week-long round, Genette went out for his third round, and Steven went for the fourth. This year we will all be in California together, and it will be for a much happier occasion.

Yes, today is Bryon’s birthday and what a difference a year makes.

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A Near Impossible Story

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A Near Impossible Story

It snowed on Tuesday, April 2, 2019, in Charlotte, NC!! Gasp!! The daffodils had been blooming for weeks, the tulips had emerged, azaleas were showing their color, peonies were starting to bud… and the snow was coming down. In the words of my people, “who woulda thunk it!!” (I know, I know, all you grammar people out there — but it just doesn’t have the same kind of emphasis when you say, “Who would have considered such a thing?”)

Let us use this event as a life analogy. How many times have you heard something like, “that is completely unlikely,” or “it is so close to impossible that it is never going to happen,” or maybe someone just laughed at you. Well, folks, IT SNOWED IN APRIL IN CHARLOTTE, NC. Spring comes early here, and the possibility of frost up until April 15 is certainly a fair probability, but snow? It didn’t come down for long, and it was gone quickly as the snow turned to rain and the temperature went up to 40 degrees, but it DID snow. Over the weekend, I was wearing capris and a t-shirt, the temperature was close to 80, and the snow was not even a thought for two days in the future, YET it snowed. Sure, it was a little cooler on Monday, and I had to wear a pair of jeans and a denim jacket outside (fluctuation in temperature is to be expected in the spring), but SNOW?

They said, "There is no way it is ever going to snow in Charlotte in April” … but wait, it could happen! Because near to impossible does not mean impossible.

Now you fill in the blank for something in your own life they said would never happen.

They said, “There is no way you are ever going to ________________________” … but wait, it could happen! Because near to impossible does not mean impossible.

Write your own near impossible story.

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