How Does My Garden Grow?

It doesn’t.  Unless you count the weeds that explode with primeval lushness in my yard during Florida’s “growing season.”

We try to keep up with the encroaching overgrowth by weeding at least once a week.  I hate weeding. It is exhausting.   It is physically painful.  It is also frustrating because it is so darn relentless.  I swear that as soon as I pull one weed out of the ground, another one springs up in its place.  The weeds and I are in a race to see if I can pull faster than they can grow.  The weeds are winning.  Every now and then, as I contemplate the futility of my task, I consider forgetting the whole thing and telling people I am going for the “wild, naturalistic” look for my garden.  Two things keep me from doing that.  First, I don’t think the homeowners’ association would buy my story.  Second, I am concerned that, if too much overgrowth takes hold, my yard will become a haven for creepy crawly creatures that can hide amongst the weeds- creepy crawly creatures like bugs, lizards, and snakes.  Heck, I’m pretty sure that if I stopped weeding for a week, dinosaurs would once more walk the earth in my backyard. This time of year, maintaining the weed status quo is a victory.

So I keep weeding.  Resentfully, but I keep weeding.  When I start a weeding session, I am irritable.  When I finish a weeding session, I am just relieved to not have found a brontosaurus in the tangles of the shrubberies.

Don’t get me wrong. I actually love gardens.  I love flowers.  I love fresh vegetables and herbs.  I love butterflies bouncing off blooms.   I’ve visited many beautiful arboretums and botanical gardens.  One of my favorite places in Washington D.C. is the national botanical garden.  I have spent many a happy hour at the flower and garden festival at Disney World’s EPCOT park.  I never go to Las Vegas without visiting the gorgeous garden in the conservatory at the Bellagio Hotel and Casino.  Yes, I love gardens.   Unfortunately, I also hate dirt and sweat.  The two positions appear to be mutually exclusive.  It is all just so much work… hot, dirty work.  I think I could almost handle the work itself, if it didn’t involve salty sweat droplets dripping into my eyes and mud embedded under my fingernails.

I think I’ve found a way to resolve “love gardens/hate gardening” dilemma.  I kind of cheat.

There is a garden club in our community.  I never did anything as madcap as joining it.  However, a friend of mine belongs to the garden club and invites me to activities that involve no real work.  I’ve visited arboretums and joined the club members on garden tours. I’m not a gardener, but I’m riding the coattails of the gardeners.

I know a number of club members now.  It strikes me that they are all perfectly normal, clean people who are somehow able to create gardens without perpetually looking like ragamuffins.  I don’t know how they do it.  I wash my hands reasonably often.  I bathe regularly.  Still, I usually find I am picking garden debris off my extremities hours and hours after actually gardening.

It has been really wonderful to immerse myself in the delights of gardens without exerting any effort beyond polite conversation.  Also, I’ve enjoyed the club members’ discussions and learned a thing or two.  You don’t have to be an artist to be interested in art history.  You don’t have to be a gardener to be interested in botany and design. I usually enjoy listening to anyone who is talking about anything for which he or she has a passion.  Listening to my talented gardening friends is no exception.

Once in a while, that passion is almost contagious.  I flirt with the idea of actually planting something.  Then, reason prevails.  I forget about subjecting some poor plant to my ineptitude and neglect.  It is easier to head to Disney World for the Epcot Flower and Garden festival to get my flower fix.  Heck, it is easier to fly 2500 miles to Las Vegas and visit the conservatory gardens at the Bellagio.

Do you garden?  What is your experience like?  Please share your perspective by leaving a comment.  In the alternative, you can email me at

Have a great growth day!

Terri 🙂


The Terri Bear

Many years ago, I started a tradition of giving my mother a present on my birthday.  I figured she was the one who did all the work.  I just showed up.  One of the first of these gifts was a teddy bear dressed in a pink sweater.  My name and date of birth were embroidered on the sweater.  It was the perfect “It’s A Girl” present for a new mother.  The “girl” in question was in her late thirties at the time.

My mom kept that bear safe for many a year.  She moved the bear from travel trailer home to mobile home.  The bear also made the trip from California to Florida. I think my mom got a kick out of my furry little avatar.  She would sometimes play whimsical little tricks on me, featuring the Terri Bear.  I’d sometimes find her in unexpected places, accompanied by notes from my mom telling me to have a good day or to remember to eat.  Once, when I walked into my mom’s house, she had the bear wrapped up in a fuzzy blanket, snuggled in the corner of an overstuffed chair.  When I laughed and pointed at the bear, my mother exclaimed, “well, it was freezing last night- I didn’t want her to get cold!”  Heaven forbid.

When my mom moved to the rehab facility after her initial hospitalization, I brought some things from home.  I brought her a blanket and some clothes and her wheelchair cushion. I also brought her the Terri Bear.  I told her that, when I wasn’t with her, the bear could keep an eye on her and report back.  We both enjoyed that idea.  The bear was also a good conversation starter for anyone who came into her room.

As my mother transferred around to different medical facilities, we did manage to retain the blanket.  Everything else ended up staying at the rehab place.  There seemed to be many more important things to worry about than retrieving a bunch of stuff from a place where she would no longer reside.  Basically, we were just talking about a bunch of old blouses and slacks.  She had plenty of them and I could get her more, if need be.  Somehow, the little Terri Bear got lost in the shuffle.  It took a couple of months for me to realize it.

Once Terri Bear meandered back onto my mental radar screen, I felt sad that she was gone.  I knew that I could probably make phone calls to the rehab facility or go over there and see if someone could look for her.  The idea of actually talking to anyone there just seemed overwhelming to me.  Actually, it seemed pretty impossible to me.  I kept trying to convince myself that it wasn’t important enough to force myself to deal with the issue. Every time I thought about the bear, which was often, I felt sad, though.  On the other hand, I just couldn’t seem to muster the energy to contact the rehab facility.

Why did it seem so hard for me to resolve the issue?  I told myself that I have been spending so much time and energy doing things that are actually required to take care of my mother, the idea of taking on a task that was not absolutely necessary was just masochistic.  I told myself that it would likely be an insurmountable chore to convince the rehab staff to search for the bear, especially given the length of time that had passed.  I could foresee having to have multiple conversations, meeting with resistance, and finally being told that the rehab facility could not be responsible for items left unclaimed for so long.  None of these stories that I told myself felt completely truthful, however.

Despite my arguments with myself, I could not bear to let the bear go.  My brother had asked several times during my mother’s illness if there was anything he could do to help from California.  My brother has a big heart and wants to do whatever he can, but he is not always able to follow through.  He has struggled with that propensity frequently during this difficult journey.  The other day when he asked again if there was anything he could do, I thought about the bear and decided to take him up on his offer.  I explained that I really wanted the bear, but just couldn’t seem to make myself call the rehab facility or go into the building.  I asked him if he could contact them and have them mail Terri Bear to me.

Bless him… he did contact the facility.  Somehow, he ended up talking to the owner and she found Terri Bear right away.  She wouldn’t agree to mail her to me, but did offer to keep her safe until I could pick her up.  That would still entail me having to actually go into their building, but my brother worked with her so that I could simply go to the reception desk and pick up the bear without having to get into conversations and explanations.

Today, I felt a surge of emotional strength when I awoke and decided to try to retrieve my bear.  After visiting my mother in the nursing home, I drove to the rehab facility.  I sat in the car for a while, marshalling the necessary fortitude to get me inside the door.  Finally, I took a deep breath and marched into the entrance.  I saw the Terri Bear sitting behind the receptionist and said, “Oh, good…. You have my bear.”  After looking at my identification (because of course there would be tons of other people who would want a twenty-something year old teddy bear wearing a sweater emblazoned with “Terri 09-30-59), she gave me the bear and I bolted to the door.

It turned out to be not quite so easy.  I must have arrived at the end of a shift.  As I walked back out into the parking lot, several different nursing aides who cared for my mother approached me to ask how she was doing and where she was.  It was incredibly nice that they remembered my mother and recognized me, but these were still difficult conversations.

When I finally got back into my car, safe from further questions and explanations, I broke into sobs for the first time in a while.  I think I finally understood what it was that I dreaded so much about facing the rehab facility again.  The rehab facility was the first place where the spotlight shone on the reality of my mother’s condition.  It was where both she and I most acutely and painfully mourned the loss of the kind of life she cherished.  The rehab facility was also the last place we had hope that she would be able to recover enough physical and mental ability to live a new kind of life she could learn to love.  In retrospect, I think the rehab facility was probably the place my mother decided not to try to prolong her life although it took me longer to come to understand that she had made that decision.

I think I’ve stabilized my grief about my mother’s illness.  I am more able to handle myself and live life without being debilitated by sadness.  My encounter at the rehab today showed me, though, that I still have a reservoir of pain dammed up in an area of my gut. It was suddenly so tangible. I could actually feel that pocket of pain on the right side of my abdomen, just about at my waist.  It is kind of like an inflamed appendix that bursts, releasing lethal toxins into the body cavity.  That reservoir of pain overflowed because of my encounter at the rehab facility, causing a kind of emotional peritonitis.

I really do appreciate that folks at the rehab facility still remember and think fondly of my mother, even months after she left there.  It touched me when they asked about her.  It reassured me that the people there did truly care for her while she lived there.  On the other hand, the rehab facility does not hold happy associations for me and never will.

Still, I am happy to be reunited with Terri Bear and I am grateful to my brother for easing the way.

It’s your turn now.  Do you have anything so wrapped up in emotions and memories that it has become more than just a piece of stuff?  Have you ever lost that item?  Please tell us about it!  Please share your perspective by leaving a comment.  in the alternative, you can email me at

Have a wonderful day!

Terri 🙂

My Hair Is Winning

The other day, I went to the hair stylist and begged her to transform my do.  I had been growing my hair for several months, in preparation of making a change.  I was managing that awkward “growing out” phase fairly well until about a week ago.  Then, I suddenly hit my personal wall in the hair-growing department.   

Don’t get me wrong.  I don’t hate my hair.  In fact, it is one of the few aspects of my appearance that I can say I’ve always rather liked.  I have dark (well, with the help of a little gray-concealing enhancement), rich, wavy hair. It looks healthy and lush.  My curls tend to spring and bounce, which makes me look happier than I may actually be.  That, in turn, makes me become happier than I could be. 

So, if I am so enamored with my hair, why this passionate desire to change it? Call it a need for a pick-me-up. I don’t think it was so much about my hair as it was just that I wanted some sort of change.  Hair seemed like a relatively simple thing to change. 

Or so I thought.   

To be fair, I had mixed ideas on what I wanted.  As I thought about what I wanted my new hair style to look like and wandered around the internet looking for inspiration, the precision cut angled bobs called to me. The art deco sleekness attracted me.  On the other hand, I kept talking myself out of them because I was pretty sure my thick, curly hair would reject an angled bob as surely as a transplant patient rejects a mismatched organ. I went back to gathering pictures of shaggy, springy cuts similar to what I already had.   

When I went to the salon, I shared the story of my hair angst with the stylist. She listened to my thoughts on a new coiffure.  She looked at the pictures I brought with me.  Somehow, she heard what I really wanted through all the self-doubt.  She bobbed my hair beautifully.  We were both kind of astonished by the result. The stylist started snapping pictures. I stared into the mirror, gaping at my reflection.  My hair looked and felt great.   It swung around cleanly and softly, but never moved out of place.  No gel, no mousse, no hairspray.  It was magic.   

I turned to my hair magician and said, “I kind of love it, but I’m really depressed because I know I will never be able to get it to look like this again.” She immediately began to reassure me how easily I should be able to recreate the look at home. I knew that the key word in her exhortations was “should.”  When she realized I was still smiling sadly at the woman in the mirror, she started suggesting that I could come to the salon to get a blow out if I couldn’t get it the way I wanted it by myself.  I think we both knew that was never going to happen.  I don’t have the time, money, or inclination to be one of those women who go to the beauty parlor twice a week for styling. She suggested that, if I found the straightening too difficult, I could opt for a curly bob. I’m pretty sure a curly bob would make me look like a brunette Bozo the Clown. 

The day after my transformation, I said good-bye to the girl with the wonderful sleek new hair-do as I stepped into the shower.  I was pretty sure I would not be seeing her again.  Still, I wasn’t relinquishing her without a fight. 

I did my best with my hair when I got out of the shower.  The haircut was still nice and I managed to style it in a way that bore some resemblance to what it looked like when I stepped out of the salon…. But only the slightest resemblance.  The curls still flipped up a bit and the part didn’t seem to want to part the way it parted so naturally at the salon.  Everything didn’t look like it simply fell into place any more.  It looked more like it was pushed.  It was sort of like a new artificial Christmas tree.  When you first open the box, the pieces of the tree fit so neatly together and the whole bundle seems so perfectly packed.  After Christmas, you may be able to get the tree back in the box, but it is always a struggle and the pieces never lay quite right. There are always branches that seem to spring out all akimbo.  So did locks of my hair.    

When I decided I wanted to change my hair style, I never really intended it to be a battle. Still, I am fighting my hair and my hair is winning.  I guess I knew deep down that this would be the likely result if I succumbed to the allure of those bob pictures on the internet.  Sometimes, self-doubt is justified. 

I’m not giving up quite yet, though.  I haven’t thrown in the towel on hair diplomacy.  I keep thinking that, with a little quiet negotiation, I might be able to end the armed conflict.  With some practice, maybe I can figure out the technique that allowed my hair magician to tame my locks into straight submission.  Maybe my hair and I can reach a détente. On the other hand, my hair may demand complete independence.  If that happens, I am sure I will capitulate to the curls.  Playing against type is pretty tough.  I just haven’t the will to win a war with my hair.   

It is a good thing that I like my curls.

What do you do when you just want a change?  How has it worked for you?  Please share your perspective by leaving a comment.  In the alternative, you can email me at

Have a wonderful, springy day!

Terri 🙂

PS- Several days later…. It turns out my hair stylist is indeed a hair magician! The haircut has survived my ineptitude! I may not be achieving the same professional level of smoothness, but my hair still looks and feels good in “straight enough” mode. Even when I go curly on a given day (after all, it is June and I live in Florida, the hotbed of humidity), I don’t look at all like Bozo the Clown! Maybe there is hope for me yet.


Does God Have A URL?

The other day I googled God, but couldn’t find an email address. I wanted to keep in touch, so I thought I’d write Him a letter and post it on the blog… just in case God happens to be trawling the internet.

Dear God,

I thought I’d write a quick note today to tell You I was thinking about You.  How are You?  No, wait, don’t answer that.  You are Great.  Of course You are Great.  You are God, after all.  At any rate, I hope You are in Your Heaven and all’s right with the world… at least from your perspective.  I suppose Yours is the only perspective that is completely accurate.  Please forgive me if, down here in the weeds, I sometimes question the “all’s right with the world” part. 

A frog fell on my head today.  Yes, really.  I pushed open the screen door on the garage and apparently dislodged the little guy.  He must have been perching on top of the screen. I had no idea that frogs even had perches.  Maybe this frog suffered from species confusion.  Maybe he was a bird in a prior life.  If he was, he forgot he no longer had wings and couldn’t fly.  Instead of soaring into the air when I jostled his nestling place, he came crashing down on what would have been the hard cement driveway if my head had not gotten in the way. My head is also pretty hard, for that matter.   

I mean no disrespect, God, but was that absolutely necessary?  Haven’t things been challenging enough lately without lime green amphibians hopping around in my hair?  Did You think You really need to up the degree of difficulty? Or were You just bored and in need of a laugh? 

If it is the latter, I hope I provided you with a real gut-buster.  I am sure I looked insanely amusing while chasing the little guy around with a broom.  Once he bounced off of my head and onto the ground, I regained my senses enough to know that I wanted to make sure he didn’t hop into the house.  He was cute, but not THAT cute.  I stared down at him, trying to figure out how to get him away from the garage door without turning my back on him.  I’m not really sure why turning my back on him seemed like such a bad idea.  I’m not a border collie. It wasn’t like my staring at him was going to make him stay put.  In point of fact, I have no frog-herding skills.  Maybe the already defective visual reasoning part of my brain was still stunned into silence.   

At any rate, I ran backwards into the garage to grab a broom, never taking my eyes off the little bugger.  He was wedged into the track of the sliding screen garage door, but I was pretty sure he was just waiting for his chance to make a break for it.  Amazingly, he was still hanging out there when I returned with the broom. He soon became MUCH more active when I tried to sweep him onto the lawn and away from the garage. 

Unfortunately, he wasn’t a very bright frog and didn’t seem to understand that it was in his own best interest to hop in the direction I was sweeping.  Instead, he kept jumping up and spinning around in mid-air trying to propel himself closer to the garage.  I’m not sure what he found so compelling about my garage.  I can’t imagine entering this vehicular inner sanctum was actually the hill he wanted to die on, so to speak.  Unfortunately, though, I think he did die for his cause.  I must have looked pretty ridiculous dancing around the driveway, broom in hand, maniacally sweeping a moving object.  No matter what I did or how hard I tried to redirect it, that critter kept resuscitating and moving towards the door.  At a few points, he actually breached the perimeter, but I persevered.  I didn’t intentionally kill the frog, but I’m pretty sure he perished in the fight.  Maybe not, though.  He was a very resilient creature.   

So, what have I been doing when not killing frogs?  Not much. Certainly nothing as jaw-dropping as my close encounter of the amphibian kind. I am spending a lot of time with my mother exploring different techniques to keep her alert and engaged. I am only marginally successful with any of these strategies. I’ve decided to grade myself on a curve and declare victory based on the smallest achievements.  I gave myself an “A” the other day when she laughed and nodded while watching me discuss the day’s activities on a home video of my trip to Williamsburg a few years ago.  I am atoning for any unnecessary administrative burden I placed on clients during my career by trudging my way through Medicaid paperwork purgatory. Just a reminder, dear Lord… purgatory is supposed to be temporary, isn’t it?  In my spare time, I’ve been sightseeing, literally and figuratively, around various Christian churches.  I walk at least six and a half miles to nowhere every day. I go to water aerobics classes and am proud to report that I have become much more proficient at not drowning.   

So, God, I hope You are doing well. Thanks for giving me all the people who love me. I’m sure You are busy, so it is great that You’ve sent some emissaries to bring a little of Your grace into my life. If You get a moment between crises in running the Universe, could you please spare a second to bless them all with peace and joy?  I’d really appreciate it!   

Love, Terri 

P.S. One more thing, Lord, if it isn’t too pushy to be asking…. Do you think you could keep the frogs out of my hair in the future?  As long as I’m at it, the same goes for any other animals.  Thanks! 

I think God will get my letter even without an email account. I think God is everywhere- even the worldwide web!

Now it is your turn.  Have you ever experienced anything so ridiculous that you thought it had to be God’s joke?  Please share your perspective by leaving a comment.  In the alternative,  you can send me an email at 

Have a hoppy day!

Terri 🙂