Thursday, May 28, 2009

Flooding Disaster, Baptisia, Staking the Betula Youngii

I've been away, psychologically, from this blog for a while now. Wanna guess why? Ever since the chaos and intensity of this last, final term of grad school, I'm still in the process of coming down, though the smallest things seem so large. My sleep pattern is all haywire, most likely still stemming from my 8-10 hour workdays to finish my book in January. But I feel glimpses of normalcy again. And then things happen to disrupt them. Read on.

First, it's been a while since I posted garden shots. I dislike close ups of flowers on other blogs, usually, because I want to see the garden--but you can't see the garden in a picture. You can't move and focus in on something that catches your eye (or nose, or pant leg). Like, look at this 2.5 year old baptisia finally blooming, and blooming like gangbusters.

That's Baptisia 'Twilight Prarieblues.' Although it's so smoky you can't see it from far away, seeing it up close is way neat.

'Black Stockings' Meadow Rue. Very seductive and kinky. Right? Hello?

I've no idea which of my Iris sibirica this is, but it's cool.

First year in the ground and blue flag iris is growing fast and blooming beaucoup.

Globemaster allium tearing itself open. Reminds me of this blister I had last week....

Globemaster. (A possible name for a GI Joe or HeMan character?)

Amsonia hubrichtii about to bloom. Freaky. Click on the pic to expand it and see the hairs.

And below, please find the nightmare I've had this week. Most everything was going well this year, much less loss than the previous spring. Although I'm about to rip out the two 'Ruby Spice' Clethra which are languishing (what do I replace them with? 'Winterthur' Viburnum where it's damp clay, yet more dogwood shrubs?).

So, I woke up one morning this week to find I left the water hose on. No big deal, except the hose sprung a leak--the threads, with nozzle attached, ripped out of the hose. I bet 100s of gallons of precious water were lost. The ensuing stream went to the dry stream bed I have for the gutter downspout, out under the fence, along 40 feet of my neighbor's yet-to-be-sodded yard, and vanished underground in a waterfall. My clay soil was nothing but mush as far as I could dig.

So I rushed in and yanked out two shrubs and a perennial before they drowned. The dwarf arctic blue willow should be fine, but not sure about my wife's clematis or an itea. She said the whole area looks like someone was searching for a body. I was. Mine. My heart sunk into that muck, and I hope it dries out (the soil) in the 90 degree weather to come this weekend, but doesn't kill the potted shrubs (like the 'Ogon' spiraea, which after 2 years was FINALLY getting going).

But, I did accomplish one goal I set out to do 12 months ago: stake up the contorting young's weeping white birch that I got dirt cheep at Home Depot in 2007 (it pays to look). Some things just take a while to think about. You be the judge on my work. The bottom part of the trunk is so heavy it shouldn't go anywhere, and the top part (about 6' off the ground) seems snug against the hose and the velcro tape.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Trim Your Vagina Topiary

I just saw this commercial tonight and couldn't believe it. There are other, more blatant commercials for this product, but this one seems trim enough to me. And here I am helping them promote their product. Argh.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

ISLE is Publishing My Dandelion Essay

Wooooo freaking hoooooooooooo! You should wait to buy a copy, but you can read it here.

Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment (ISLE) is, in my opinion, one of the top journals on critical and creative environmental writing. It's published by / through ASLE, The Association for the Study of Literature and Environment.

Watch for "The Lion's Tooth" at an invisible bookstore near you.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Here I Am Graduatin' With My PhD

I can't believe I have a PhD. Then again, it's the most natural thing in the world. I have two arms, a nose, brown hair, and a PhD.

Commencement (May 8) was pretty quick, and my advisor stuck it out with me--such a good sport. We cracked sarcastic jokes with one another for 2 hours as my family made faces at me from the stands. One caveat to those who come after me: the doctoral hooding used to be more intimate, both in setting and fan fair, and this commencement felt too undergraduate-ish to me (the basketball stadium, and the chancellor, tongue in cheek every year, asking for alumni donations?). Plus the address stunk. But I digress--have some pictures of the joyous day. Can't believe it's over.

Gettin' hooded, yo.

After commencement I immediately began "PhDing" to my family. This is my new word for "complaining."

I felt like a model having to strike too many poses. Then at one point my family felt like paparazzi, so I fought back with my own flashy camera.

My parents on the left, me, my wife, and my wife's parents on the right.

Mmmmm doctoral cake.

I received so many gifts from my family it felt like it was my 12th birthday or something. A rain barrel. Clever t-shirts. Personalized M&Ms. Garden journal. Commissioned artwork (more to come on that in 3 months). Good books. Monarch rearing thingy dealy. Trip to the nursery. I got spoiled.

Check out the post below with video from my wife's flip camera.

Now, can I catch up with blogs and emails and my breath?

Graduation May 2009

With a hood I feel like the dark knight.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Status of a Writer

Let's review the last, oh, two weeks:

-- Three major literary journals, one that starts with an O, absolutely love my nonfiction time after time, but once more it's still a no.
-- Place as a finalist in a poetry chapbook contest after years of trying to get some love for my manuscript, and many re-orgs. Maybe I finally got it.
-- One poem places as an honorable mention, another a finalist, in a contest.
-- Four rejection notes.
-- Three poems accepted for publication.

Some times I have to remind myself that, as bipedal humans, we perceive and experience the world as up and down. That is, as we walk we constantly rise and fall. This is maybe why I often feel dizzy if I'm not paying attention to where I am and where I'm going. Or, why I almost faint to and from the mailbox every day as I eagerly rip open SASEs.

Go read this little piece on rejections by Judith Kitchen--fun, true, sad, nice.

By the way, in two days I will have a cute little diploma I will sleep with. You can take that any way you want.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Of Crabs, Eupatorium, Smokebush, and Garden Vistas

May the pictures commence (as I will be doing in just a few days!).

The new bridge.

My maybe favorite plant, Eupatorium altissium 'Prairie Jewel.' Lovely golden spring foliage turns into speckled cream and green turns into thousands of white flowers insects adore.

'Prairiefire' crabapple blooms are actually more purple than this in sunlight.

'Coralburst' crabapple is growing left.

Corlaburst blooms begin red, turn rose, end in pink.

The only color of tulips I will ever have.

Can't remember the name of this smokebush, but the spring and summer leaves are gold, and in fall they turn to most of the colors in the rainbow.

'Autumn Brilliance' Serviceberry blooms and buds.

If I had fewer perennials I wouldn't have to wait until fall for things to look magical. But I can wait. It's worth it. Boy is it worth it.