2012 in Review: Our Top Blog Posts & Topics

Is it another year already? Time sure does fly by when you are blogging! 2012 has been quite the year for Fun Flower Facts! It was a good year for us! We have written 230 blog posts and had about 70 000 views this year! Thank you to all of our visitors, especially our American readers for all of your support! Here are our Top 10 Most Popular Blog Posts of 2012: Plant Hardiness Zones Explained Do You Have Change for a Tulip? Must ...

Peculiar Picture #5

A few years before I retired from illustration to focus on writing, my agent contacted me to ask how much more work I could produce. There’s a lot of down time being an illustrator so I told her I could probably churn out twice as many illustrations as I was currently producing—if she could sell them. She said, “Why don’t you change your style?” I was insulted; I liked the way I painted and had spent a lifetime mastering my craft. ...

7 Ways to Reuse Your Valentine’s Flowers

Stop! Don’t throw out your Valentine’s Day flowers! Yes, we know it’s been a week since you’ve received them and that the flowers are dying, but they still have life in them. They can be preserved and then can be used to create new and exciting things! Here are some ways you can reuse your Valentine’s flowers. Dried rose petals make a wonderfully fragrant potpourri. Rose petals can also be used to make rose water. Make beautiful pressed flower cards. Make a dried flower ...

Peculiar Picture #17

To my knowledge, this illustration from my royalty free CD Business Fundamentals has never been used. Years ago I sat in my studio imagining what sort of illustrations art directors could use. Altogether, I created sixty images for my CD and I still receive royalty checks. Most of these illustrations have made their way into books and magazines around the world, but this one has yet to be published. Can you think of a purpose for this picture? Note: This site will be ...

Switching Nationalities

My mother isn’t very happy with me since I refused to buy her a tube of hair removal cream so she could impress the young surgeon who operated on her a few weeks before Christmas. I visited her every day in the hospital and it didn’t bother her that she was starting to resemble Joseph Stalin, but enter good looking Dr. Fernando, who’s half my age, and Mom suddenly wants to look like Angelina Jolie. Mom is depressed now that she’s ...

Music: Soulful Saturday Continues…

“Music doesn’t lie. If there is something to be changed in this world, then it can only happen through music.” Jimi Hendrix Music: Soulful Saturday Continues... Habib Koité Habib Koité & Bamada – I Ka Barra (Your Work) STEREO Music: Soulful Saturday Continues... Karsh Kale Karsh Kale – One Step Beyond This weekend, I bring you a new mix of sounds from around the world. Some of the faces are familiar; Nicki Minaj dropped her new song (in February) – Starships – and Musiq Soulchild does a fantastic catchy song featuring Swizz Beatz, Alicia Keys‘ hubby. Karsh Kale and Habib Koite might ...

Reflections: Life As We Live It…

“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.” Soren Kierkegaard Reflections: Life As We Live It... Søren Kierkegaard Existentialism is a term given to the works of certain philosophers, Soren Kierkegaard and Friedrich Nietzsche amongst others, who “focus on the condition of human existence, the nature of free will, and an individual’s emotions, actions, responsibilities, and thoughts, and the meaning or purpose of life.” (Wikipedia) When I read today’s WP prompt, it got me thinking about my college days ...

Tips on Growing Hollyhock

Hollyhocks (Alcea rosea), with their big and beautiful blooms, are among summer’s tallest and showiest flower, growing up to 6 feet tall in one season! These old-fashioned flowers are cottage garden favourites and are becoming more popular in recent years. Hollyhocks come in a wide range of pretty colours and would be ideal for borders or backgrounds, planted along fences or walls. But you don’t have to go to great heights to get these beauties to bloom. Here are some gardening tips ...

3 Things to Do When The Bad Guys Win

Bad things happen to good people, often at the hands of “bad” people. This recently happened to a friend of mine who lost the job they held for several years.  This person was a dedicated employee, strategic thinker and dynamic asset to their company. The only reason given for the termination was a “shift in organizational focus” which is business-speak for “we don’t need a reason.” While the individual received a severance package, it’s cold comfort knowing that quality employees can get ...

Quick Question With Michael Hyatt and Ken Davis

While attending the 2012 Launch Conference, that is currently underway, I have the unique opportunity to interview some of the top speakers and authors in America. Below are two very quick, single-question interviews I had with authors Michael Hyatt and Ken Davis respectively. Michael answers the question, “How should a writer or speaker market themselves?” Ken graciously answers the question, “How does a speaker go from free-speaking opportunities to paid engagements? Question: What question would you ask your favorite author if you could? BTW, here’s ...

7 Possible Downton Abbey Spin-off Shows

According to recent media reports, the second season finale for the critically-acclaimed PBS series Downton Abbey commanded the largest television ratings for public broadcasting in years. For those of us with little reason to watch government-subsidized public broadcasting, Downton Abbey is akin to the soap opera Days of Our Lives only it airs once a week and is set in England during the early 1900′s. While I’ve never watched a single episode of the show, I do know success when I see ...

Time Travel with Stephen King

Stephen King, flanked by B&N handlers I’ve been a fan of Stephen King’s since I read The Shining over thirty years ago. Since then he has thrilled me most with his memoir, On Writing, and also with these other faves of mine: Misery, Dead Zone, Cujo, and The Green Mile. I’m less a fan of his more woo-woo tales, which involve aliens and such (least favorite of all I’ve read was The Tommyknockers), and more a fan of the stories that ...

The Married Guy’s Key to Understanding WifeSpeak

More than half of the marriages in the United States end in divorce. That being the case, I’m pretty proud of the fact that I’ve been married to the same woman for more than 17 years. One of the key reasons for the continuing success of our marriage is communication – specifically my keen ability at deciphering WifeSpeak. What’s WifeSpeak you ask??? WifeSpeak is that mystically, arcane collection of sounds, tonations and vocal stylings that confound and confuse the male species. This particular mode of ...

10 Comebacks I Wish I Would Have Said....

We've all been there. A social, business or public setting where someone says something or asks a question that leaves us stammeringly speechless. Then hours later we think of the perfect retort to the remark or comment, and we say to ourselves, "I wish I would have said that." As the proverb goes, "An apt reply is as gold." In no particular order, here are 10 such replies that I wish I had said, that I plan to use going forward: "If you'll forgive ...

Small Stuff Does Matter…

Tiny pebbles may cause more problems than large rocks - image via Creative Commons Prior to his death in 2006 author Richard Carlson, Ph.D, built a media empire with no less than 12 different books all built around the premise of “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff…and it’s all small stuff.” While the pithy title seems to be packed with wisdom and makes common sense – the idea is patently wrong. To clarify, my problem with this particular ideology centers around the loose definition ...

Time Travel for the Imagination

The other day I walked over to the Post Office to mail a copy of my family biography/memoir The Cleveland Rutters to a widowed friend of my deceased parents. I haven’t seen this man for well over forty or even fifty years, since I was a teenager at most. At that time I would only have called him Mr. K__, certainly not by his first name, as I had just now done in the cover note to him. I never ...

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Cheryl - The Art of Being Conflicted
May 22, 2012, 11:49 am

Neighborhood Dirt

Thought Number One:  Gardens in My Neighborhood

To catch everyone up to speed…I like to garden. (For my readers that have been around awhile, you might remember last year’s garden post about Lil Bastard, a ravenous rabbit that still calls my yard his “salad bar”. Just in case you missed it here’s the link… Hare Today Gone Tomorrow )

I say “I love gardening” in the same vein as others might admit to hoarding or binge eating…that is with a bit of “I know I shouldn’t be saying this out loud as people will think I’m either a nutjob
or old or both” but still…here it is…I like to garden.

As far as me being thought of as a whackadoodle.  Probably.  At least this is the case where I live.  Not so long ago my neighbors gathered in front of my house to have a little pow-wow.  Me, being the naive person I am, decided to join them and participate in what I thought would be the typical rumor mill type of conversation.  No…they were having a discussion on what a waste of time and effort “gardening” is.  Now you would think that because, I was out in my yard, knee deep in compost, pulling my little red garden wagon around with my supplies that maybe this conversation would of halted as the subject of the conversation came into ear shot.

NO…on they went with what a time and money suck gardening and yard work in general is.  For a couple of minutes, I tried to interject the benefits of monetary value on resale (added bonus to remind them that I am a Realtor…unfortunately another topic that repels them) or the emotional and physical benefits of working in your yard.  They were having none of that.

As the conversation went on, the neighbor from across the street went on to say that he had decided to tear out all of his foundation plantings as the caring for them is just too much work.  At this point, I decided to just keep my mouth shut.  Really, the crappy little shrubs that builders put around the front door here and call it “your landscape package” is usually three boxwoods with a Princess Spirea thrown in for color.  How much work can that take????

I am trying to be discreet while taking this picture with a zoom lens for fear the neighbor will be wondering what I am up to. He walked out of his garage 1 minute later.  I thought he would ask me what the hell I was doing, but he didn’t.

He was true to his word.  A week or so later, out they came.  All the shrubs have gone missing and now there is some type of drain something in it’s place.  I have no idea what that is about.

So for the last couple of weeks, I have been back in my yard for it’s seasonal clean up while my neighbors all glare across the fence with wondering about the depths of my insanity.

However, to rationalize my gardening is not without reward, this is a picture taken on the day our inspections were done when we bought our little money pit. This was 6 years ago on a very cold February day.

This picture is from a similar angle looking across my back yard now.  That would be six years and a lot of planting later.

There is very little color in KC gardens yet.  Our suggested planting date is May 15th to prevent freeze damage.  Most flowers are several weeks from blooming.

Thought Number Two- Gardens on the Tour

Last Saturday the Johnson County Kansas Master Gardeners held their bi-annual garden tour.  Given my neighbor’s disdain for me puttering around my yard, they probably need to prepare themselves for the possibility that a Master Gardener could move in here someday.   I think I will make a point when I sell this house, to sell it to someone that is really into composting.  I might even point out the logical place for a huge compost pile right next to my neighbor’s fence.  There are laws about discriminating against people’s creed, gender, religion, …really all sorts of things but NO WHERE does it say I can’t discriminate “in favor” of a Master Gardener.  I might not even show my house to anyone that isn’t willing to haul in some manure.

Here are some pictures of the gardens on the tour.  Serious gardens…..

My photography doesn’t do this little pond justice.  It was really pretty with it’s lily pads.

This side gate led to the prettiest of the gardens I visited. The woman homeowner is an artist by trade.  It showed in her garden.

There were brick walks all around the yard with interesting flower beds along the path.

Kansas City gardens are difficult to keep looking lush as we have both extremely cold winters that kill off perennials and extreme summer heat and drought will kill what is left. But this yard has it figured out.

I thought this was cute.  The homeowner has a little garden hide-away in the very back of their yard.  Seems their cat likes it as well.

A knot garden was prettier than this picture shows.  There was a man with an impressive looking camera lining up his shot and I was trying to stay out of his way.

A different angle but still not the best. Bet the guy with the mega lens camera got a good pic.

This yard had a lot of slopes but the homeowners still managed to put some pretty gardens in.

I added this one because at the back of one garden, the homeowners have built a little playhouse for their little girl.  I just thought this was adorable.

Cheryl - The Art of Being Conflicted

A veteran of corporate moves from which I survived moving 21 times for my husband's job. I currently am a married, middle-aged (if I make it to 116) middle income, mom living in the very middle of the country, with time on her hands to jot down observations, judgements, and musings about past and current events.

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