Love Her or Leave Her?

This time last year I bought a t-shirt that reads: “Celebrate Earth Day Everyday.” While it’s not always top of mind (top of mind is loving my family, eating right, walking the dog, you get the idea) part of my everyday celebration includes recycling.

imgresI must admit, I wasn’t an early recycler, just as I wasn’t an early non-polluter.

It was that first Earth Day in 1970 at Gary Andrean High School where I learned the basics. I didn’t know throwing straw and gum wrappers in the street was polluting. Yeesh. And I’d always thought I was a good kid!

I really didn’t have a clue.

I guess I wasn’t alone because we all received “Give a Hoot, Don’t Pollute” stickers, among other, valuable green advice. Since then I’ve tried to do my share to save this rich, vast, wonderful blue and green planet we call home.

Today as a member of the Ogden Dunes Environmental Advisory Board, a Master Gardener and lover of the natural world, I’m breaking out my Earth Day shirts and wondering what I can do to help our environment. I thought it might be fun to share some things about Earth Day.

First, is this quiz I found on line.
(One answer is in this writing!)

I got 16 of 25. What about you? What do you know about Earth Day? (Must admit I had to think twice about the quiz rating me “Antiquarian.”)

While you’re taking that quiz, I’ll write about Recycling Do’s and Don’ts. Sound boring? Then perhaps you’re not recycling. And if were not recycling, our garbage has to be trucked to a landfill to be stored for all time. Wow.

Backsaving Gardening Tool

One of my volunteer jobs is writing for the Purdue Extension – Porter County newsletter, Garden Thyme ( Thought you might enjoy this article set for  the April 2016 edition.

Haul Out the Garden Workhorse!

This time of year it’s difficult to isolate one favorite garden tool. Last week, a fellow gardener said his “go-to” tools right now are pruners and loppers. I couldn’t agree more. But as I look over all the sandy loam in my yard that needs to be loamy sand, I’m thinking the wheelbarrow and I are going to get pretty close over the next few weeks.

Unfortunately, I woke up with a stiff neck a few days ago, which reminded me we gardeners need to take extra care of our necks and backs. So I am happy to share with you a link I found with a nice little video on the best way to handle a wheelbarrow and a recommendation for a construction-grade item called the Jackson wheelbarrow.

This is from Ohio gardener and grower, Mike McGroarty

Mike said the Jackson “ … lasts a lifetime and it won’t hurt you.” (I had to laugh.) It’s blue and has one wheel positioned directly under the front third-or-so of the tub. This positioning, Mike said, is what keeps the weight off your back.

You’ll spend about a hundred bucks for a Jackson at Lowe’s or Home Depot, but I just spent $68 on my stiff neck and I haven’t even lifted the pruners!


Spring gardening, spring writing

Moving back to Indiana from New Mexico in 2011 back meant coming home to family, to Lake Michigan and to good dirt.

No, not dirt – soil. Good soil.

My little Las Cruces, NM, garden included lantana, zinnias and mum that didn't know they weren't supposed to bloom until fall.

My little Las Cruces, NM, garden included lantana, zinnias and mum that didn’t know they weren’t supposed to bloom until fall.

How challenging it was in the Southwest to plant a zinnia in caliche – a hard-packed, calcified crust nearly a quarter-inch thick – only to break through to sand. How I longed to dig into good, rich earth, drop in a little plant, add water and watch it grow. Now I wonder if my longing has gotten a little out of hand.

I’ve long had an interest in gardening. Perhaps Aunt Gladys’s Lily of the Valley first peaked my curiosity. Those little lovelies growing thick alongside the driveway – I can still see them running the length of that brick apartment building on Pearl Avenue. And the fragrance! Oh, my. Nothing like Nature’s perfume to plant a seed in a little girl’s head.

Looking back, everywhere I’ve lived I’ve tried to leave a little garden legacy. There was that vegetable garden in Muncie where I grew a zucchini too big to eat but not too big to be a door stop through fall and winter. I don’t think it even rotted. I just got tired of moving it and threw it out. I can picture red cannas in front of the house in Oklahoma, hostas in the yard in Indianapolis.

But it was volunteering at the Lincoln Park Zoo that gardening really got under my nails. Learning about native plants, invasive species and weeds! I learned more about weeds those three summers. Not a bad skill for a gardener.

Living in townhouses and condos in Chicago meant gardening in shade in one place and in roof deck pots in another. Oh, the pots were wonderful. Zinnias and sweet potato vines were among my favorite combinations.

Then there was that house in Naperville where I inherited a lovely purple clematis. And where I was lured by an early spring to put plants out sooner than Memorial Day – even thought I knew better – only to cover them with plastic sheeting because of mid-May temperature fluctuations. (Maybe with global warming we really can put plants out sooner. That’s the one of the good news/bad news results of our infractions.)

I’ve come full circle now, living at the bottom of the lake and surrounded by sandy loam. While there are still many challenges – deer, ticks, too much sand in some places and so many square feet of earth to cultivate – I love gardening in Indiana. And as a second-year Master Gardener, I’m writing about it, too. In face I have an article due Tuesday for our GardenThyme newsletter ( ) about a useful gardening tool.

Which, reminds me: what’s your favorite gardening tool?

This weekend we Spring Forward! Spring is springing early in northwest Indiana and there is much to be done. Better get to it.


Book or bust

These days if I don’t write something I feel itchy.

You know that feeling when you need to exercise or eat or pay a bill or call a sick friend or take your dog for a walk or watch the finale of Downton Abbey?

I’ve got that feeling.

Yet, there’s no time today. I’ve got a short morning before heading into the city, and I’m eating over my keyboard. Need to exercise, walk my buddy Aw’gy, pay a bill, shower. There is ALWAYS something to keep me from spending 2 or 3 hours with a book that is ITCHING to come out.

It’s not horrible. Not bad enough, I guess.

I suppose I could have set my alarm for 5 a.m. Maybe I’m not that committed yet.

I rationalize – reminding myself there are a few chapters written that just need to be dumped into the computer. YES! I start with pen and paper, and have for years. Even in my corporate days. If it was worth writing, I’d grab a white pad with blue lines – no yellow pads for me – and craft a good lead and maybe a second graph, until I began to feel the rhythm. Then, I’d dump it into the computer and watch the work take on a life of its own.

Writing a book can’t be that hard. Geez, there are millions of them!

Who said, “So many books, so little time”?

What’s hard is sitting down. And I find, I have to get up. Right now! And so, I feel a bit itchy.


Blog Clog

There are so many reasons not to sit and write. Ask me, I know all of them.

It’s been more than I year since I posted on WordScarab. Funny, when I first started I was posting every Friday and that lasted three years. Then I moved, bought a house to renovate, met a guy, moved again, got married, more house renovation. I’m tired of it. Tired of not writing.

But blogging isn’t as easy as it looks. Sure, the mechanics are simple enough once you get the hang of it. WordPress makes it easy for anyone to throw something out on the Internet. But once it’s out there, geez, you open yourself up to something worse than critics – scammers. People, or worse – people with computer programs – from godknowswhereintheworld who want nothing more than to send mud back to your computer. Or they have a scam to sell and hope you’ll bite. It’s too bad. It’s a conundrum.


Because writers have to write, and writers like me – sort of journalists – like readers. We want audiences. We want to make connections. We want to effect emotions.

I was so naive when I started blogging in May 2011. At first I used photos of myself and then pictures of my family. Imagine my horror a year later when, ok – I’ll say it, Googled myself and saw their faces under my name!

That’s when I wrote, “They Don’t Call It the World Wide Web for Nothing.”

So naive.

But here I am. Posting again. Can’t help myself. Want to connect with you again. Who cares if I don’t have a niche? I’m not selling ads here. I’m just writing, writing, writing …