Caught In The Act

This is Martin. He is an aspiring actor currently working as a waiter. I just had to snap his photo because he has that awesome red hair. Like most people Martin’s age, he was friendly and willing to have his photo taken while he chatted with us about some of the commercial work he has done locally. My husband wrote down his name so I would remember it. I of course didn’t have any cards with me, I never remember them. So I wrote on, what else, a cocktail napkin and told Martin to check for his photo to be posted. I hope he does because it did turn out quite nice, if I do say so myself.

This is Harvey. I know he just wanted some fish food, but he looked like he was puckering up for a big ole kiss. So, I snapped his photo before he could get away. The koi pond was loaded, but this dude was the biggest, most colorful poser of them all.

This is Oliver. He’s one tricky lizard. I almost didn’t see him there on the Oak Leaf Hydrangea. He didn’t move a muscle and I got several shots of him before I decided he was too eager to have his photo taken. So I moved along. After all, lizards are a dime a dozen around here. He did make a little crying noise as I walked away. Lizards are so sensitive.

That’s all. It’s time to enjoy the weekend!

Speaking My Mind

There is a writing exercise I learned some time ago to help get the creative juices flowing. Exercising being so good for me and all, I thought today I would choose a book, open it to any page and take the first and last sentences from that page to use as the beginning and end of a story.

My bookshelf is loaded with all sorts of books on a wide range of topics from the memoirs of world leaders to a copy of The Little Engine That Could. Not needing anything more than the motivation to keep trying to engage readers of this blog, I chose a book which I thought might provide a line or two to help me write something worthy of comment or even critical remark that I see on so many other blogs.

So here goes.

I can’t help but imagine someone a couple hundred years from now stumbling upon this very [blog in a forgotten server] somewhere. No doubt technology will be so advance by then that server farms will have either replaced all other types of farms or humans will have figured out how to, once and for all, preserve the earth’s resources and still enjoy the benefits of technological advances. I suppose my hope is much like the hope of people who lived before the advent of…..

Oh who am I kidding, this blows. I know it. It’s obvious that there is more to engaging readers than just posting random thoughts. A message – that’s what’s required. Something profound or something hysterically funny, yes that is what gets readers engaged. Or is it? I’ll leave it to the reader to interpret that story for himself or herself.

Okay, that wasn’t so hard and now that it’s done, I pose this question to any humans who might be reading this post. What does it take to engage a reader?

I must admit sticking with an exercise, any kind of exercise, isn’t easy. It’s getting started that’s the hard part for me. Results oriented people have the difficult challenge of not expecting immediate results. Gradual results are all but invisible, but must not be ignored. I’m really trying to convince myself of that now more than ever.

Thanks for reading, thanks for commenting and I guess I should even say thanks to those who don’t, because if not for them as well, I would just give up altogether.

In The Garden Of Good And Gooder

These are the Hartins. Together they have created a place of spectacular beauty down an unassuming country road in South Carolina. I had the good fortune to visit their home and garden at the peak of springtime goodness when gardens are fresh and lovely.

Miss Audrey graciously entertained us with stories about each flower as we toured her garden. Her knowledge was only exceeded by her obvious vision for creating charming vignettes, which were placed throughout the space with expert care and attention to detail. With every step there was another WOW moment. The good just kept getting gooder. Better, yes I know.

Mr. Hartin is a skilled carpenter, antique Ford enthusiast and talented photographer. Brides-to-be come from near and far to have their wedding photos taken by him in the garden he and his bride have cultivated into a destination. He has built arches all around the garden to create a romantic setting complete with a private bridal dressing room fit for a princess.

The Hartins love bringing joy to others and sharing their passions for the rare and precious. I am grateful to them for allowing me to capture images of their home and garden on that special day and I invite you to enjoy some of them here. Others will be added to my gallery page.

Yeah, I Got Nothing

Large quantities of information converged over the weekend in what would have been a typical Monday morning blowout. I should be in the middle of explosive writing and breakneck speed editing to get every word just right and in the right order. I planned to post a story today about farmers markets I recently visited including photos of the hard-working people I met there and one photo in particular of some tomato plants called Mortgage Lifter.

But now I cannot seem to shake another story long enough to pull that post together.

The story aired yesterday on CBS’s 60 Minutes. I haven’t watched this news program since Andy Rooney’s death, but a friend of mine called to tell me of a report that I might be interested in seeing about the corrupt, fiscally irresponsible and now bankrupt Wall Street firm, Lehman Brothers.

Today I am drawing a complete blank. Not a blank so much as an enormous black hole where all of my thoughts are being pulled even before they are fully formed. I tried to break free from the gravitational force of this cavernous abyss by reading and commenting on other blogs, reviewing ridiculously long-winded, nonsensical spam comments captured by askimet and by pulling weeds from between stones in my patio. Then my neighbor came over with an article about the plight of American Airlines.

Alas, there seems to be nothing I can do to stop the swirling thoughts in my head long enough to share my usual witty assessment of all things revolving around my very small existence. I think I must be experiencing one of those syndromes the pharmaceutical industry has recently brought to light for which women must be medicated. Either that or I could be having a reaction to crap living on planet earth.

How To Mind Your Own Business

One of the highlights of my BiG Bloomer Tour was going to Bruce’s Greenhouses owned by Willis Bruce. That’s correct Willis Bruce, not Bruce Willis. Maybe it’s just me who thinks that’s funny.

Mr. Bruce started his business in 1975 growing a variety of plants and flowers in one greenhouse. Since then, his business has blossomed, and Bruce’s is now a third generation family business with multiple greenhouses providing regional delivery of wholesale orders north to Virginia and south to Jacksonville, FL.

One of their sons, Josh Bruce is a nice young man, who has learned from his father to care for plants, equipment, employees and with exceptional skill, customers. Yes, Josh definitely knows how to mind his own business and he understands the importance of customer relationships.

Frances and I made trip after trip to Bruce’s to select hanging baskets of geraniums, New Guinea impatiens and the very large, very gorgeous spring combination baskets of dragon wing begonia, verbena, and petunia, of which I’m not certain why I didn’t get a picture. Maybe it was because I was intoxicated, almost giddy from the combination of vibrant colors and sweet, earthy fragrance inside the warm greenhouses. Being surrounded by blooms is one of the most pleasant experiences I can think of and I would do it every day if I could.

Frances is a pro when it comes to selecting flowers for their store. She knows which of their regular customers prefer pinks and which ones will be looking for something to give as a gift. She knows who will want something for sun or shade. I watched her carefully to pick up on what she was looking for and it wasn’t long before she was letting me make some selections. This was thrilling for me because she knows her flowers and to have a say it what she purchased meant a lot to me. We went about choosing the fullest, most evenly balance baskets with the most blooms. Some of them were too high for us to reach, but it was never too long before Josh spotted our van and came walking down an aisle toward us with a smile ready to lend a hand.

No matter how busy they were getting orders ready for delivery, Josh always spoke respectfully to us. He was friendly, patient and helpful. Actually all of the young men working there were. This impressed me. Business owners, no matter the business, can sometimes be so bombarded with problems that their stress translates into frustration toward customers. Not so at Bruce’s Greenhouses. Everyone we encountered was genuinely happy to help us. Spring is a busy time in the flower business. There are tender plants to nurture, deliveries to schedule and trucks to load. Just like any other business, someone has to mind the store and take care of housekeeping; there are bills to pay, phones to answer, etc. When it’s your own business, you not only have a vested interested in its success, but you often end up doing any and every job that needs to be done. Managing greenhouses is hard work and let’s face it, flowers while they improve the quality of our lives in many ways, they are a luxury purchase for many people. I didn’t hear one single complaint about the economy, gas prices or how good help is hard to find as we were taking our own sweet time to choose the plants we liked best. How refreshing!

The folks at Bruce’s Greenhouses know how to mind their own business. They specialize in growing quality potted plants and combination baskets with an emphasis on the high demand for seasonal flowers such as Easter lilies in the spring and poinsettia for Christmas. If you thought I was going to share how I learned to stay out of other people’s business, um, yeah, I know nothing about that. Offering unsolicited opinions on a variety of subjects is my specialty.