Monday, November 28, 2011


I woke up this AM thinking of my close friend JoAnn's, birthday. Feeling bad that I hadn't gotten a snail-mail card off to her and thinking about how precious our friendship has been, I decided I would "just" post some things about her on this Blog. 
I knew I had to (guest) teach a horticulture class this AM at the high school, so decided I would "do the Blog" this afternoon. Well, before class I went through my Email and Facebook and saw a very special note from a now distant (in miles) friend who had had a shop here in Alma. She had just viewed my first attempts at blogging and said "You go girl!" and of course I thought" how dear of her", but truthfully my almost first thought was "I have a daylily named that". So, I proceeded to post a pic on Facebook of my seedling, the aforementioned daylily, so she could see the uncanny coincidence. 
As my mind tends to do, I wandered back to thinking about my girlfriend JoAnn and right away thought "I could say that about her too!" So to you dear friend JoAnn, this is my tribute to you and I say "YOU (REALLY) GO GIRL!" 
Before I go any further, and because this is supposed to be Blog about Gardens in addition to Castles, and because I love to show and tell about those beautiful results that come from my adventures in hybridizing I will add some pics here.It is absolutely awesome to me to think that such beauty can be pre-ordained by God Himself, out of a seed, that looks more like a shiny black pearl in size and shape.  The pic below is of the pod parent(mother) of "You Go Girl"..I dubbed her "Pretty Girl" as she is real "girly girly" with her three definite shades of pink and then set off with a white petticoat edge(actually termed a toothy edge officially).    This next pic is of "You Go Girl". a different pic than the one that was on Facebook.  

And one more view:

                                 The pic below shows "You go Girl" with a mood change...just like many of us! It may have been that it was a cold night or maybe it was during the three weeks of no rain, I didn't take note..all I know is that "she" wasn't as 'happy' as the other days.         

     Now that I am on a roll about the daylilies, I will show you a full sister that I dubbed "Girlfriend Extraordinaire" (have you noticed that I used 'girl' in each of the names-that's for my own mental records so I can easily keep track of the genetic cross....much easier for me than a numbering system). I do keep maps of where they are planted and use numbers  for that and that's enough numbers for me! 

You can see that they are similiar, but "Girlfriend Extraordinaire" is definitely different, esprecially with "her" white silk gloves edging.
Now back to my true, live, human, GIRLFRIEND EXTRAORDINAIRE.

I have known JoAnn for 61 years now and I truly can't remember an argument with her..that is extrodinairy!
and it ISN'T because of my age and a poor memory's just that we only have good memories! 
MEMORIES sitting upstairs in her bedroom in Richfield, Mn and dreaming of our lives ahead of us. She told me she was going to write a book one day and I believe her...I believe she still will!
MEMORIES of walking home from school together(we just lived a little over a block away).
MEMORIES marching in the Richfield High School Band'
MEMORIES of our high school youth group at Wooddale Baptist Church
MEMORIES of sharing our pregnancies and births of our children
MEMORIES of her going to college and acquiring a whole new group of friends, as I also did while pursuing 
                                                                                                  Interior Designing dreams.
But the biggest and most meaningful MEMORIES were sharing our happy times and our miserable (YES MISERABLE!) times.We didn't let each other 'wallow' in our misery, instead we would encourage each other to Lift up our eyes and look to the Lord for strength and patience to get through, and prayed for hope and peace as we walked THROUGH the valleys. The sun always was always there, waiting at the end of that personal journey, even when it was very very long. We have had my "divorce days", and her "near-divorce days"(she is now still married and happier than ever)-did I say GIRLFRIEND EXTRAORDINAIRE? Yes, JoAnn, you  persevered, you followed God's ways, you didn't become bitter, and you endured until God turned it around and restoration was and is there! I was there to watch and pray  (my part was easy!) and  wonder at how God is so good and willing to Bless us when we sit at His feet and wait on Him for His miracles. 

Both of us, too have had several pretty serious health issues. We could have just given up and blamed God..judged God, or even left God when our bodies didn't respond to surgeries and medications and prayer. BUT GOD in His time (someone has said He is never too early and never too late) makes all things good IN HIS TIME. I wish sometimes He would be early..but it is not mine to is mine to TRUST! That is SO HARD but it can be done!The results probably weren't the same outcome as we would have wanted, lots of times it was better, and for sure most the times were different than we expected and we saw everything in a different light...and developed character a thousand times greater because of it.
Oh the good times! Good because we could tell each other anything and everything and never feel condemned for feeling a certain way or doing a certain thing. There was a time that Dick and I went into breeding Dairy goats and having come out of the Interior Design world, many were disappointed in me. But JoAnn wasn't! We lived in the most horrible, humble house, putting all our money in to breeding stock and barely getting by, and NEVER refurbishing an unfinished house, and here I was an Interior Designer and how could I live like that??!! I was agast myself, but wanted everyone else to back us up and understand. JoAnn, made one trip out to Rogers, the house sited on the Crow river. There were about  about 15-20 Alpine goats grouping around her and her children. That was the season of my life that I was called "the goat lady" in the new area we were in. Because I felt secure in who I was around JoAnn, I didn't have the need to defend myself and my ugly surroundings. We had a very nice, pleasant visit. Even though we were about 6 times further away, we could still phone, and even though our lives went in separate ways, our affection and respect for each other did not. We may not talk or Email for months at a time, but when we do, it's as if we were never apart. Now that's a friendship!
I remember going over to her home on Park Ave in Minneapolis and enjoying her decorating talents(as an art major in college she better have had good wasn't just good, it was great! And I felt so comfortable and welcome their. More recently I have been to her Town home in West Bloomington Mn and been treated as both a guest and a friend..I felt like I was in a hotel and treated like I was the most important person couldn't ask for more! We would just sit down and talk intimately about life and concerns and Faith and never mattered how long it had been since we saw each other.  

And oh you should see her gardens! Now she has what I would call a Tea Cup garden because of the home owner's association rules, but it is most beautiful and complete! How can it be complete when it is so small, I don't know! I just know it is!
Her previous Park Avenue garden was always "designer quality" and I tried very hard to find a weed....oh well. She used color and texture and form, all laid out to please the artist's eye for sure! 

There is so much more to share, but in reading about Blogging, they said to keep it short...and I have definitely broken the rules on that end!!! But you were worth it, JoAnn!!! YOU GO GIRL, GIRLFRIEND EXTRODINAIRE!!! I better be careful, there's going to be a lot of people wanting to meet you! They won't believe there is someone like you! 

OHhhhh! and HAPPY BIRTHDAY dear friend! 


Saturday, November 26, 2011


Lists are a good thing. they help to define things and many times keep us organized. On the other hand, wish lists might be a detriment, especially when making a list of the things one would like in a Dream House. Since this Blog is about GARDENS AND CASTLES I would like to address Castles today. Castles are another way of saying Dream House and in having a Dream House one always has a long list of wants and desires, otherwise known as a Wishlist.
Dream House wishlists don't always go hand in hand. In other words they are not always a good match. Why? Because they can easily make you discontent with what you already have. They can also spell out very easily why your Dream House may NEVER be attainable. Or, they may actually inspire (or even drive) you to make compromises in the lifestyle you already have and lose out on the pleasures of the 'now moments' of your life.

With all that said, there are ways to get a version of your dream house, even now. It's called PERSPECTIVE
                                                                                                                            It's called ATTITUDE
                                                                                                                            It's called PATIENCE
                                                                                                                    and   It's called CREATIVITY.
Creativity is often Just another word for RESOURCEFULNESS. If you have ever been in a house with long halls (we had a rambler with a 30' long hall to all the bedrooms) which bothered me. Being an Architectural Designer in one of my past careers and also one who still does floor plans as a hobby when an inspiration comes upon me, I have developed a number of houseplans that are virtually "hall-less". If you look at the example of the 30' hallway, one would save 120 square feet by not relying on halls in the plan. One has to be creative and trained enough to know how to place the rooms correctly, but it can be done. Another way to make square footage to work for you is to put in multi-purpose rooms and thereby, you could illiminate one room altogether and at the very least save another 120 square feet (10 x 12 size room). Now that totals 240 square feet if you are adding up.

Now on to PATIENCE
Patience is just another word for waiting....waiting to add on a wing when you REALLY need it and having that wing already planned for on paper. I have some plans that I call Futures with just that in mind. Patience is finishing off an attic or a lower level activity room WHEN the need is there and also WHEN the money is there. In- house Gyms and Theaters and Saunas etc etc (you fill in the blanks) are all lofty goals. However, if they make one compromise of one's lifestyle like being away from the family, working two jobs or other things like that, all the pleasure you planned to have with those amenities can become bittersweet.

Have you every been around people that either have a whiny attitude or a negative attitude or a haughty attitude? Of course you have, we all have. People draw away from people like that and navigate to people with grateful attitudes. The grateful Attitude you have for your house right now, makes room for all sorts of possibilities for your home to be your Castle right now. It doesn't say that you ever give up hope to have something "better" or "greater", it means that you have adjusted your Attitude and don't become one of those bitter, entitled people that just can't be pleased in their lives because they always want more. I guess that is called greed and that can be addressed in another post. The important thing is to be happy in this season of your life, with the abode you have been given. In a future post I will tell you about the most miserable house we ever had....what a challenge to keep the right attitude...I wish I had done a better job of it!

Finally, there is PERSPECTIVE
I just love to do Perspective Drawings of houses. They are always a challenge, but with the proper guidelines and instruction it can be done. The same thing happens with one's Perspective on their own 'Castle for the moment'. If you can look beyond what you have, and not lose heart  and understand why you are in the "Castle" you are in right now, then you have been successful. Perspective allows you to see the whole picture, the full dimensions of your life. Perspective helps you to assess all the "goods and bads" of a plan. With perspective I can see if the house has good balance, if their are too many roof valleys to cause ice problems and even how the house "sits" on the site, etc. etc..Perspective for houses, and Perspectives for life are essential to living above the stresses of life.

I  came across an anonymous poem titled  MY HOUSE and have saved it for a long time; I would like to share it here.                                      
                                                               MY HOUSE                            

                                                      MY HOUSE IS SMALL,
                                            NO MANSION FOR A MILLIONAIRE
                                                 BUT THERE IS ROOM FOR LOVE
                                            AND, IF THERE IS ROOM FOR FRIENDS,
                                                          THAT'S ALL I CARE.
                                                                                   author known

Earlier this Fall I drove the streets of my little town of Alma and took some pics of Mansions, and what I call Poor Man's Mansions. Here's a couple of the pictures that will speak for themselves, I am sure.

One of the nicest "Mansions" in our town, overlooking the Mighty Mississippi River.  But even though it is beautiful on the outside, it matters much more what is on the inside to make it a true Castle.

 These "Poor Man's Mansions"below are both  rental properties and "owned" property, each having the potential to create their own Castle in there own special way. It all depends on their attitude and the other things I talked about before. It all depends on how much we keep our Wishlists in the proper Perspective and let them work for us, rather than against us. The Apostle Paul said: "I have LEARNED to be CONTENT in whatever state I am in" and he was in many dire straights and also good places. He told it like it is, it is a LEARNING that we need to take hold of, it's amazing what things happen  when we do that!
Just one more note: all of these homes on Main Street have an even closer up view of the Mighty Mississippi River!

This last pic is taken from a well known traveler's destination, Buena Vista Bluff, showing the Mississippi River again. If you look very closely, and if you personally know me, you might be able to spot the first home we bought when we moved down here 10 years ago from Cambridge Mn. I will be posting about that experience too, one day!!

Finally, my friends, don't forget to be grateful for whatever home you live in, at this moment, at this state in your life, because we don't have to look very far to see people far worse off than us, do we?!
Bye for now,