Nine Eleven, Because we will never forget…

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Artwork from the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) in Boston, Massachusetts July 2017

This year marks the sixteenth anniversary of 9/11.  It is hard to believe so many years have gone by since that fateful day.  I know exactly where I was, and what I was doing, when life as we knew it suddenly changed forever.

In this part of the 9/11 Memorial Plaza the trees were planted in an orderly fashion in neat rows

This summer I had the chance to visit New York City. I had not been to the 9/11 Memorial, so I wanted to spend some time there. I confess that I was unprepared for my reaction. It was a beautiful sunny day, yet the atmosphere upon entering the plaza was sombre. It was quite emotional, overwhelming, and yet beautiful.  So beautiful.

This part of the 9/11 Memorial Plaza is where the trees were planted in “chaos”

All of the nearly three-thousand names of those who were senselessly taken from us in those attacks are engraved along the rim of the memorial.  I was struck … with sadness. I prayed for them, for us, for everyone.

The memorial pools

nearly three thousand names are engraved in the bronze parapets

The tree lined memorial pools are beautiful and serene.  I walked ever so slowly around them, needing to run my fingers over the names. So many names.

This brought more tears to my eyes …

I couldn’t speak.  I kept my sunglasses on, except to continually wipe my eyes. It was all too much.

A rose is placed upon the victim’s name on their birthday

Seeing the roses broke my heart.  I thought it was touching how each person is remembered on their birthday. Yet the tears flowed.

“Reflecting Absence” was what the architect Michael Arad, along with landscape architect Peter Walker, called their design

It was such an experience.  I felt the weight of so many sad stories. The pools, though, were so beautiful. I cannot explain it but the continually flowing water was so healing to listen to and to see.

The Survivor tree

Then we met a volunteer.  I was still choked up and couldn’t really talk, but I listened.  I listened as he told us the amazing story of the “Survivor Tree”.  This pear tree (or part of it, actually), was found at Ground Zero in October 2001.  It was in a terrible state and severely damaged, but remarkably it showed signs of life.  It was rehabilitated for nine years before being brought back here to the Memorial plaza. The volunteer pointed out to us how you could see the new limbs extending from the damaged stumps.  This tree, in so many ways, represents the determination of a survivor: to beat the odds and then to even go beyond that by thriving.

water flowing over the walls of the 9/11 Memorial pool

I was emotionally drained.  But what I was struck by was that over the course of the 24 hours I had been in New York City, this was yet another experience of a New Yorker being kind, warm and friendly to me.  It filled me with pride to be a New Yorker myself, even though I’m not from NYC.  In these times of uncertainty, it is heartwarming to see genuine kindness in so many people.

the 9/11 Memorial plaza

I hope that if you have the chance to visit New York City that you will make the time to visit this beautiful memorial and to pay tribute to all those innocent victims and national heroes. You can find more information about the Memorial here.  The memorial is located at the World Trade Center site in lower Manhattan at 180 Greenwich St.  I haven’t mentioned it in this post, but there is also a museum at this site.

May we never forget.

In peace,
Dana

 

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I am not perfect.

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August garden of Sunflowers, Pumpkins, blueberries, apples and 3 pears

This post has been floating around in my head for quite a while now.  Here’s where I’m coming from:  I really like Instagram.  For me it is an easy way to flick through loads of pretty pictures.  Pick a category, any category, and you’ll find someone who eats, breathes, and lives all day long just that category.

I also love taking pictures!

Here’s where my feelings of imperfection come in.  That eating, breathing, living just one category of a thing, is just not me.  I have lots of interests and I’m always jumping all over the place trying to get as many different things in as possible. My Instagram feed covers just about every topic you can imagine 🙂

So my garden, while I love it, is anything but a masterpiece.  I manage my time in the garden to allow me to do other things.

early summer garden

My crochet projects?  If I set my goal to 3 projects a year, I can usually nail that!

This year’s crochet project challenge was a sweater!

Biking?  I really like biking but I don’t want to spend every free minute on my bike.  I’m happy if I get out twice a week; one short bike ride and one long bike ride.

My husband usually keeps me company on my bike rides, which I think is awesome. I love this route along the water in Annagassan.

My house is clean and tidy … if I am given plenty of notice before company comes over.  Otherwise, we sport a “lived in” look.

this is as tidy as it gets … Did you spot the Irish time on the left and NY time on the right? 🙂

This is me, and all of my imperfections.  I have fun with what I do, and I am O.K. with that.

August is for making lavender wreaths! They are whimsical and “artsy” rather than “perfect”.

You won’t find me specializing any time soon.  That jumping around from interest to interest is what keeps me going.

spring time garden

Last year I tried my hand at painting an old cabinet and I had so much fun I’m going to try painting a dresser this year.  One project at a time.

Refinished bathroom cabinet added some zing to this room!

At this stage in my life, I can tell you pretty certainly that this is who I am.  I love what I do, all of it.  I accept that I’m not in any “perfect” category, but I am in a category of “good enough to make me happy”!

How about you?  Would you say you are “good enough to make you happy”?

In peace,
Dana

Another one of my favorite past times: coaching swimming! I’m lucky enough to be a part of my daughter’s swimming.

 

A Summer Wreath of Lavender, Rosemary & Roses

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lavender in the garden

I love having scented plants in the garden.  Three of my favorite scented plants are lavender, rosemary, and roses.  I also like to dry roses and lavender because they really keep their scent and they are so easy to dry.

this is how we hang

I dry my roses early in the season knowing that I’ll want to use them before the end of the summer.  I’ve learned that the dark pink ones dry best, and I need to cut them before they start to open too much.  I was experimenting with the yellow roses in the picture above.  They have such a beautiful sweet scent, but they dry a rather ‘brownish’ color that isn’t pretty.

this is what we start with

Lavender is usually ready to harvest in the middle to end of July here in Ireland.  I LOVE to work with lavender!  I’ve made wands and sachets and wreaths before. You can read and see about those here,  here and here.

Step one: Spanish moss

Making a wreath is so easy.  I use a straw wreath and floral u-shaped pins to attach everything to the wreath. The Spanish moss is a great filler.

rosemary as the base

I like to have green in with the lavender to brighten it up.  We have a rosemary plant that doesn’t get used enough in cooking so it is getting rather big.  I gave it a super trim and had quite a lot to work with then.

one bunch of lavender at a time

I did not have any design in mind when I started (ahem, probably not the best way to start!).  I just went with the flow and put things where they seemed right to put. 😉

just need the roses now

The roses are the most delicate. It was helpful to have the moss to use to help pin them in place.

My hands smelled so good while making this!  I’m not sure which I like more – the rosemary or the lavender!

My gladiolas ‘the dark knights’ and some of those sweet smelling yellow roses that tend to droop!

lavender wreath on our playhouse

This is our playhouse. I’m slowly creating a tiny garden around it and I’ve started with lavender.

wreath on the playhouse door

 

lavender, rosemary & roses wreath

Tadah!  It was so quick and easy to make and I love the result.  It didn’t require that much lavender, either, which means I still have loads left to work with!

Summer Wreath 2016

My wreath from last summer needs some freshening up, but I still like it 🙂  Are you making anything from the garden this summer?

In peace,
Dana

Our Rainbow Garden

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Deutzia Scabra looking rather pretty in June

Do you name your garden beds?  I do.  But as the beds change and evolve so do their names.  This bed was formerly known as “messy garden”. 😉  It still is messy, actually, but it has become quite colorful so I think our new name of “Rainbow Garden” is much nicer.

The “messy garden bed” in June (plus Kitty)

The above picture is a “neat” view of our messy bed.  It was early in the summer, and the Deutzia (the white flowering shrub) was in full bloom. We have spent about five years trying different plants (with lots of fails along the way!) to get it to where it is today.  Part of the bed gets quite wet, while part is on the dry side (go figure), we get a lot of wind, and the soil wasn’t in great shape when we started. But now, the bed is really filling in and the plants are doing well.

the Rainbow Garden in early spring featuring erysimum bowles mauve in full bloom

I love to see bees in the garden! (Erysimum Bowles Mauve)

The bed now has two hellebores, a peony, Erysimum ‘Bowles’ Mauve’, globe artichokes, Mock Orange, Cornus florida ‘Cherokee Chief’, a yellow potentilla shrub and some white flowering bergenia.  In the spring there are some tulips, and in summer there are quite a few poppies. And brand new this year we’ve added Zantedeschia aethiopica Crowborough (these are large white calla-like lilies).

Spring flowering white bergenia (the not-yet flowering potentilla is behind the tulips)

the tiny white Bergenia flowers in spring time

Boy do we have some color now!  The poppies really give a POP of color.  🙂 The California poppies are short with a light orange color and *everywhere*.  There are also several different varieties of annual poppies in varying shades of red and orange.

Rainbow Garden at the end of July

poppies

We have enjoyed flowers blooming in this bed all year, starting with our ‘winter sunshine’ Hellebore in January/February. The mild weather here in Ireland has the benefit of early blooming spring flowers, too. Now the bed is almost in full bloom with lots of color!  I’m still waiting on the globe artichokes to bloom.

the Potentilla in full bloom with yellow flowers

Buddleja Buzz (dwarf butterfly bush) + Red Admiral butterfly

Buddleja Buzz (dwarf butterfly bush) on a sunny day

The garden is “peppered” with wild flowers, which provide a few different colors.  I’m still not sure if that was a good idea or not, scattering wild flower seed throughout the bed a number of years ago. I actually thought I’d dug out all of the poppies this year! But I’m glad for their color, and they are easy enough to pull once they are done blooming.

Rainbow Garden on a cloudy day

this view is rather messy, but shows the pretty blue/green leaves from the hellebore

‘winter sunshine’ Hellebore in full bloom in February minus the leaves which I cut off due to blackspot

I could certainly look at the bed and think of all of the work which still needs to be done (how about some edging?!). But I choose to only see the pretty, albeit messy, side. Just a few years ago there was nothing there but grass. I like it much better now!

Rainbow Garden

I love living in the country. I find it so peaceful to spend time in the garden. Being able to create different beds with all different flowers is just icing on the cake!

I hope you are able to find some peace in what you do, too.

In peace,
Dana

A Gardening Gals Getaway Weekend to the U.K.

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This is supposed to be a post about gardens, but I have a feeling it isn’t going to turn out that way…

The Gardening Gals on the ferry (minus one gal who couldn’t travel this time)

It can probably be said of all of us that people are in our lives for a reason.  For me, I am pretty sure that every single person in my life has been hand picked just for me: and I laugh as I say “mostly to teach me things” as I think my motto in life is that “I am still learning”! 🙂

This lovely group of ladies in the photo above, which we nick-named “the gardening gals”, started out teaching me about gardening.  They know an incredible amount about flowers! I am amazed at how they remember all of the flower names, both common and scientific. And of course they know what conditions the flowers need to flourish, and the types of soil required, and so on. They are so patient with me, as I learn from them. Not only do they share their knowledge with me, they also share their flowers!  My garden has benefited season after season.

Happy Birthday Susan!

I digress a tiny bit.  Let me come back to this particular post:

Our gardening group gets together every so often to visit each other’s gardens, visit other gardens, or just to visit with each other.  We are all connected through one core “member” and her name is Susan.

Susan is an organizer.  She can organize anything and everything and she does so with flair!  She decided that for her birthday we would take our garden tour on an international level. And so the planning began and she did, in fact, organize every aspect of our trip!ferry time: Rosslare, Ireland to Fishguard, Wales

To start things off, we all met at in incredibly early hour of the morning to drive down to Rosslare where we would then take the ferry to Wales. I think Susan’s plan was that we’d be quiet and maybe even sleep on the drive down.  But the craic* was mighty in the back seat that morning!  The three of us in the back of the car jumped from topic to topic laughing all the while.  The fact we hadn’t seen each other recently and we all have so much going on in our lives helped to feed our conversations … non-stop.

*craic: term used in Ireland to describe what is going on

I managed to crochet on our trip (in the car, on the ferry, in the evenings…)

We planned to make a quick stop at a petrol station (or as I would say “gas station”) before arriving at the ferry.  I’d say our timing was perfect, at least for the young driver who was not making any progress with his attempt to push his car up the service station ramp.  A quick note here of what I observed: most motorists arriving that (early) morning were alone in their cars, so the fact that four of us could jump out of the car and help to push a stalled car out of the roadway and to a safe place is rather noteworthy.  He thanked us, and we were on our way, feeling all the better.

The grounds at Miskin Manor, Cardiff

We arrived for our ferry in plenty of time, and thankfully had a calm journey across the sea.  Funny enough, once we started our journey in Wales, the car started making an odd noise!  We ignored it for a while, but then decided to find someplace to pull over and investigate further.  How lucky for us that we decided to do this, because we happened upon the most lovely manor in Cardiff.

on the grounds at Miskin Manor, Cardiff

Miskin Manor is a former Abbey now converted into a hotel Manor.  The grounds were so lovely, we were delighted to have made this tiny detour.

http://www.miskin-manor.co.uk/

The grounds at Miskin Manor, Cardiff (those seats are carved crabs!)

The weather was sunny and warm and perfect for stretching our legs with an enjoyable tour around the beautiful grounds.  I can see why so many couples choose here for their wedding celebration!

The grounds at Miskin Manor, Cardiff

a woody and natural setting highlighted with daffodils and primroses

More good news: the car was fine.  So on we went with our journey.

flowers from the grounds of Miskin Manor, Cardiff

Our next stop was to Chipping Campden, in the Cotswolds.  It was a long drive to there, but it was so worth it!  The little town is picturesque, with lovely old buildings all of a golden hue, cobbled streets and everything within walking distance in the main part of the town.  We ate out, we ‘cafe’d’, we shopped (some more than others and I would be the most guilty here!), we meandered: We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

http://www.chippingcampden.co.uk/contentok.php

We stayed in an old converted Inn. The terraced house, named the Rose & Crown House, was absolutely charming, and perfect for the five of us.

What is your house named?

yep, I even liked the front door

We loved the beautiful, old converted Inn we stayed in

Our terraced house in Chipping Campden in the Cotswolds, U.K. (what lovely staddle stones!)

We, of course, loved the garden.  It was April and we were quite lucky with the weather.  The days were sunny and warm, while the evenings were cool, but not too cold.

the back garden of our converted Inn

my bedroom on the third floor (watch your step and your head!)

the family portraits in the dining room were interesting (although this one was rather intense)

Our time in the dining room stands out in my mind.  Here is where we delved into some deeper conversations, but also some very funny conversations (thank you Debbie!).  But in actuality, it was over the course of the entire weekend that we enjoyed true fellowship with one another.

out and about in Chipping Campden in the Cotswolds, U.K.

I had an overwhelming sense that these very special women were placed in my life to help guide and support me right now. What a wonderful feeling that is!

boots outside a shop – now this is my kind of town 🙂

I loved this door handle

the town was inviting

There is a special something in the air which you can only experience really early in the morning (other parents of swimmers can maybe relate to this!).  For those who venture out at that time, it is really an experience. We decided to go for a walk early on Sunday morning and the views with the sun were worth getting up early for!

early morning walk in Chipping Campden in the Cotswolds, U.K.

the only ones we saw on our early morning walk in Chipping Campden were these sheep!

I had to run to keep up because I was constantly stopping to take pictures 🙂

great spirits for such an early hour in the morning!

some of the beautiful buildings in Chipping Campden

something you don’t see everyday

and here it is! The Cart Wash!

We did, indeed, visit two incredible gardens (Hidcote and Kiftsgate) but I will save those pictures for another post.  I would certainly encourage you, should you be so inclined, to venture out and go see some gardens near and afar!  Before we had even finished our time away, we were talking of plans for “next time”!

just enough time…

I was so lucky timing wise, that I could make this trip. Maybe you know the feeling of having an incredibly busy schedule? Everything fell into place perfectly for me to take this trip.  Kinda like destiny 🙂

This little get-away was so special for me.  The ‘gals’ once again helped me to see that we should cherish the people in our lives, enjoy each other’s company, and whatever time you have you should spend it with those who love and support you.

In peace,
Dana

p.s. I have hundreds more pictures, and it was so hard to pick which ones to post.  I hope you enjoyed these! The garden ones WILL come, but it might take some time 🙂

Wordless Wednesday: Flowers, Irish Pottery and a Cup Cake

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cup cake and campanula

I love this picture.  There is just something about the campanula surrounding the pottery plate, and of course the cup cake, that captures my eye and intrigues me to keep looking.   I’m not sure what the subject of the picture is: Is it the cupcake or the Irish pottery design?  I really love both of them!

The cup cake, with somewhat of a flower designed icing,  was made by my daughter. I can honestly say that it was delicious!  (The cake recipe was from Martha Stewart, and the icing recipe was from I am baker, so how could she go wrong?)

I’m thankful to have lovely flowers in the garden, pretty pottery in the cabinets, and scrumptious food to eat.  🙂

In peace,
Dana

Wordless Wednesday: David Austin Roses

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Olivia Rose Austin in evening sunlight

These roses need no introduction.  I decided to treat myself to the best, and ordered some David Austin roses this past winter.  These two pictures are of just one of the plants, called the Olivia Rose Austin.  The fragrance is beautiful. I try, when possible, to get plants that also smell lovely!  These were so worth it, and I am very pleased with them.

Olivia Rose Austin

I hope you have some lovely scented flowers in your garden, too! 🙂

In peace,
Dana

Wordless Wednesday: Two Goldfinch in a pear tree

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Goldfinch (times two) in a pear tree

This picture is thanks to my happening to notice these two lovely Goldfinch birds in our pear tree as we were driving into our driveway after work.  I opened the car door, took two steps out of the car and captured the picture on my phone.  Then off they flew! Talk about perfect timing 🙂

I hope you have some “perfect timing” going on in your life, too!

In peace,
Dana

 

Wordless Wednesday: A foggy evening

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a foggy evening in May

Life feels like it is moving at breakneck speed for me.  I find myself having a difficult time keeping up, and keeping my sanity.  My time in the garden is precious to me, as it helps me to keep calm.  The other day the fog was spectacular.

allium on a foggy evening

I hope you are able to find quiet time in your life.

In peace,
Dana

Wordless Wednesday: Parrot Tulips

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Parrot Tulips

Truly a Wordless Wednesday post.  Just two pictures:

  • One picture of my favorite tulips at the moment and
  • One picture of the bed where those favorite tulips are showing off

Parrot Tulips in the “Pink” bed

The bed is filling out.  It has:

Parrot Tulips
bergenia (dark pink blooms with burgundy colored leaves)

Still to bloom:
lavender
lupins
lilac
peony
poppies
hydrangea
a single iris

Stay tuned!

In peace,
Dana