Saturday, July 30, 2011

Just when you thought you had done everything...

The trip home to Tarpon was more or less the same. It was long and uneventful with the exception of massive downpours which are more or less the norm in Florida during the tropical summer. Yet, regardless of how much comes down by the morning it is usually bone dry thanks for our sandy soil. I had a lot of time to think about the time and future that lay ahead of us and how I wanted to spend it. Unfortunately, I was totally dead from the final week of packing and saying goodbyes and the stress of the sales transaction.

People often ask me how Limo survives these long trips. He has a way of rolling up into a ball as you can see here with even a prop to place his chin. He is no fool with no cares in the world. He comes up for air like clockwork when it is feeding time and time for his relief breaks. The trip between Collingswood and Tarpon is about 17 hours and I have done it straight through many times, but on this trip there was no hurry anymore for anything. The moving truck was a week away so we could take our time and find a roadway stop in one of the Carolinas like we have done when we spend the night on the road.
This trip was not much different except as noted for I was exhausted. As it was, everything went like smooth sailing and so did the trip south. Here near Smithfield, North Carolina at a fancier motel than our norm we found that someone had taken a corner out of the lawn to grow Okra, the gooey vegetable of the South. It was really quite a patch.

Eventually the truck arrived and I feared everything would be broken. Last time I hired movers to load the truck and in their infinite wisdom they placed fragile boxes underneath my library of 65 boxes of books. I was not going to pay for the expertise of movers again and experience some of the damage I had to find on the prior move. So, I figured that for the few remaining items and there were just a few, mind you, I could do the loading myself with a little help. Well like the educated person I am, I miscalculated the amount of my remaining possessions. Initially I packed everything carefully and beautifully stacked taking care to place boxes of fragile items on top of paper laden heavy ones. Unfortunately, this rhythm could not be sustained and by the end I had placed the bulkheads in place and threw whatever was left on top of my leaning tower of possessions. As it is, when I unloaded things in Tarpon there was not one casualty. I should clarify that I have not yet opened all the boxes and am hopeful that I did just as good a job as my professional movers from the last move....
In Tarpon a new puppy in the neighborhood. This marbled Great Dane is not quite a year and already weighs 120 pounds. I pity the person picking up after him.
Before leaving Tarpon for Escrow closing on Collingswood I had been doing my research for compost to amend my miserable dune into something more palatable to plants. From a neighbor I found that a neighboring municipality has mountains of compost available and will deliver it free to get rid of it. I called and made arrangements for a truck load of this free gold. The people were delighted with the fact that I could use massive quantities of it and they would give me as much as I will ever need. They will not help home owners who want the equivalent of a bag or two, but if you want the volume of a volkawagon bettle or two they are there for your help. The day my moving truck arrived so did ten cubic yards of loamy compost which I am slowly using to change the face of my garden. I need to get a better wheel barrow than the one that I borrowed for carting around the garden. As is, I have to garden between 7:30 and 10 AM as any later is too warm for me and I am pouring sweat as is. Nice early morning exercise.

The key to gardening in Florida is water. Above is a line of drip irrigation that I ran through the garden to provide irrigation as I develop the various garden areas I have in mind. I have been trying to figure out how to activate a system of cisterns that existed in historic time to collect rainwater. Two massive tanks exists buried in the sand that may have been holding tanks for a hand pump well or flow from the roof system. Most of my neighbors have wells which they use to irrigate with the aid of electric pumps. Water where I live is fairly close to the surface. The man at Home Depot explained how with a few of their tools and gizmos I too could have my own well that I can plug into my drip irrigation. This too shall happen, but this is the rainy season so there is no need to hurry things along we get rainfall of one kind or another just about everyday or thereabouts.

I got a chance to mulch the palms that I had planted on the side of my house. Now with the mulch and the drip irrigation I placed in the areas I intend to garden, I should be set to create a new tropical garden jungle.

The back of the house where once stood the above ground pool has slowly filled in with grass and is becoming definable as a garden with a multitude of fruiting and flowering shrubs that were there and to which I have added just a few plants. Of course this is one of 4 or five garden areas that I am working on so improvements will come slow.

I am not too keen on having a lawn which means gasoline and noise and fumes or a service to pay. For now I am going with the lawn but I have my sights set on a landscape groundcover peanut that is decorative and has a lovely yellow blossom. It does not grow more than a few inches tall and creates quite a thick mat of green that can be walked on. In Collingswood my wonder plant was Liriope, this may well be the liriope of Florida.

It took me eleven years to get my house and garden perfect in Collingswood. I am in no hurry this time. It is all about the journey and the process I know I will get there; wherever there is.

Just when you thought you had done everything stupid in your life you reach a new climax! Cleaning the cupboards I came across this package which I thought would provide me healthy sustenance snack along the trip down to Tarpon. It said healthy and peanut butter cups and corn and wheat free. Either I did not have my glasses on or was too much in a hurry to read the label in further detail. I had already packed Limo's food and snacks so I thought this one would be great for me. Along the trip I opened the package and took out a couple of the little muffins which I found were rather bland and tasteless. I figured it was par for the course as most healthy foods seem to lack in strong flavors. Limo was exceedingly excited and I had to get him to calm down as these treats were for me and not him. A few hundred miles later the same episode repeated itself with me feeling the same sort of letdown from the bland muffins. I came to an opportunity to stop and get something to drink and had a chance to read the label, with glasses, this time, to find out that I had been feeding myself very healthy dog biscuits. Well, all I can say is that I thank whichever friend gave me these for the trip home as I have been feeling a little bit more frisky than usual and I growl at strangers...Happy Gardening!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Arrivederci Collingswood

It does not sound as good as the Roma version we are familiar with, nor am I leaving a love behind, but I will miss my old town nevertheless. The week has been grueling with non stop work packing and throwing away so much that seemed so important and isn't. Limo has been my constant companion in this exercise hoping to bring one of his toys to distract me and get some playtime. The reality that we spend a lifetime collecting objects to please our sense of worth and to validate our experiences and travels and for the pleasure of doing it. We receive legacies from relatives, professions and departed friends. Then one day you want to relocate and you know you must lighten your load. You question why it is that you have kept all these objects. Some people don't keep anything, others horde and then there are those in between. Every object has a story and a reason for keeping it.

Some of the remnants
I had a porch and sidewalk sale to manage to collect some money from things that might be worth something more than donating or thrashing would provide. A bit of an act of desperation when there is no real need for it. I normally would have just given everything away to multiple AIDS groups to raise money for hospice care and the like, but our local AIDS charity went out of business from lack or patients or support; I don't know which. Other groups such as Purple Heart have a schedule, and Goodwill and Salvation Army have selective policies on what they take anymore. So I tried to make a few dollars and get a chance to see and talk with neighbors and passerbyers. It also afforded me a chance to rest from the boredom of packing. Everything that was left over was picked by a man who took to a children's charity. Mission accomplished.

Friends have come by to photograph the garden fearing changes to come or "as they put it knowing it's here and they will not have access"

Well that is done the packing is not over, but by the time this posts, it will be. I am getting a head start to write this blog as the final days in Collingswood will be overwhelming with real estate transactions, utilities, Internet shut name it. The week has been spent working and packing and unfortunately I have not much time to sit down and enjoy it all. Oh well, I guess I had twelve years of enjoyment.

Parting shot this morning

Collingswood has been home, whether great or small for twelve years and I enjoyed life there with many wonderful friends in a very pleasant community. This week has been about camaraderie of friends and neighbors. All my neighbors and most of my friends have come to help or offer refreshment or nourishment. I have just returned from my last night out in my favorite restaurant in town with some of my dearest Collingswoodites. Tomorrow with luck I will sign the papers get the check and make my way to Tarpon Springs. But as in the lyrics and without to much ado: " is time for us to part." So signing off from Collingswood for the final time, Happy Gardening wherever you are!

Limo at Document Signing

PS Another grueling morning with too much to fit in the car for the trip home. My friend Rich bailed me out at last minute taking extra stuff to his home as the moving truck had already left. Even Limo got in on the act. He came to his second closing. Enjoy the clip taken by Rich who at one moment calls him Taxi. She is still part of the scene. It all worked out and I am half-way back to Tarpon spending the night in North Carolina