Annual Trek for Annuals


Every spring we haul over gravel roads to Cleveland, MO to Sullivan’s Greenhouse, open to the public only in April and May, and only on Saturdays. Yesterday, we ran into several Extension Master Gardener friends also buying annuals at wholesale prices.

If you live in the KC area and you’ve never been to Sullivan’s, it’s worth the trip.

The photo shows one of 11 or 12 high tunnels of annual flowers and a selection of vegetables.

Times When I Thought I Needed Facebook

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I deactivated Face Book on April 1. Here it is, April 27, almost 30 days without FB, which before deactivation took at least an hour—and probably more—of my time each day. But. What have I missed?

  • Wishing happy birthday to my FB friends. One FB perk was the message it sends to remind me today’s so-and-so’s birthday. Wish them happy. I guess if I remember in time, I’ll wish folks a happy birthday here on the blog. Or send a snail mail card. If I forget, forgive me. I stopped keeping track of dates when FB started.
  • Finding out the hours of operation for some of the odder places I want to shop. Now you’d think I could ask Alexa or Siri or Google, but without FB, I couldn’t find out when Sullivan’s Greenhouse is open–only Saturdays, in April and May, 9am to 4pm. For that one I had to ask my husband to check his FB page.
  • Happenings in my groups. I especially miss all my African Violet and Daylily friends. I wish some of them had followed me here.

Will I reactivate FB for these reasons? Dunno. Maybe. But that extra hour a day is nice to have, and I surely don’t miss all the political wrangling.

In fact, I’m thinking of leaving Twitter…

Oh, and the red tulip? It comes up every year, it’s the only red tulip in the yard, and the blog gurus tell me to use photos to attract readers. Hope it works.

The People at My Last Garage Sale

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My last garage sale was 25 years ago when I still lived in Overland Park. The year was 1993 and I held the sale because I had left-over office furniture from my last not-for-profit job. I sold it all—at give-away prices—in two hours, shut my door and called it quits.

My other last sale—also in Overland Park—was a moving sale. Held in 2000, we sold a lot of stuff I can’t recall, which means I didn’t miss any of it. We were moving to Louisburg. Well, technically seven miles south of Louisburg to an acreage on this gravel road in the middle of Miami County Kansas. Or the middle of nowhere. Your choice.

Since that sale, I’ve held three sales—I hesitate to call them garage sales—in Louisburg. They all go about the same way, and it’s all about the people who show up.

A few guys in trucks come out to see what Jim’s got on offer. He usually does pretty well, although the older guys already have what Jim has, and they’d like to get rid of theirs too.

Retired couples stop to take a look at our stuff. They mostly talk about their stuff, and what they should do to empty their basements/closets/storage sheds.

Old high school buddies of Jim (and sometimes wives), drive out because they know the door is open. They’re here to catch up.

The middle-aged crowd. Someone might buy a collectible or a piece of jewelry. That’s what happened this time. That single sale ALMOST makes all the preparation worthwhile.

Young people flying by and seeing the sign might stop. But they are not interested in vintage anything, including conversation with vintage me.

And that’s about it. Six or seven people a day. Two days to go …

Did I say this was my last garage sale?

Spring Means Dandelions and Dandelions Mean Bees


Our TV is alive with commercials about beautiful green lawns and the annual attack on dandelions and crabgrass. Now, I know nothing about crabgrass other than our ‘lawn’ is full of it. With about four acres to mow, we’re happy if the yard looks green from the street.

But dandelions … In about two weeks, our yard will be covered in sunshine yellow. Jim used to bemoan the size of the yard and the impossibility of treating it for dandelions. Or he did, back in the day. The day before bee deaths hit the news. The day before I took an Extension Master Gardener course and came home with the announcement that, at least in Kansas, the first feast for bees in early spring was dandelions. 

Yesterday, I was outside trying to get my front landscape garden into some kind of decent shape prior to a garage sale (see end note). The driveway was lined with dandelions, each sporting its own bee.  Maybe honey bees. I’m not great at identifying types of insects.

The sight of bees on dandelions gave me pause, remembering the little mantra I was taught by Master Gardener friends. “Five years after the bees disappear, the birds disappear. And five years after the birds disappear, humans disappears.” 

Now I had to ask. Was this fake information?

I hit the Internet and found out that, yes. Losing the bees would be an ecological disaster. We need them as pollinators, and we’d lose many different types of plants–think coffee–without the bees.

And losing the birds, meant losing both pollinators and seed carriers, getting different plants from one place to another. Oh, and gone birds meant we’d be without bad bug eaters–think locusts. Not to mention the carrion eaters that clear our highways of roadkill.

But I couldn’t find anything that said first the bees, then the birds, then us.

Several sites mentioned a supposed quote from Einstein who reportedly said either, first the bees, then us. OR first the bees, then within four years, us. But did he say it? Maybe not.

For me, I guess it doesn’t matter. The sight of dandelions in the yard is a cheerful one. I’m not a big proponent of carpet-like green lawns, and anyway, how many turf photos have been touched-up? Like the impossibly beautiful women and men in magazines, the garden photos I drool over seem too perfect to be real.

Whatever the truth of the matter, the next time you take out your sprayer of lawn herbicide, check the label (you should do that anyway), and think about what the bees will eat this spring if the dandelions are gone.

End Note: Live in Kansas? Near Louisburg? We’re downsizing because it’s time. Huge sale: Wednesday, April 18, 3-7pm, Thursday and Friday, 9-4pm, and Saturday if anything’s left, 9am-12noon.


Don’t Call, Don’t Write

Ever wish you’d paid attention to something sooner?

That’s me. I go along and along and then one day, something in my brain clicks and I’ve had it. And I’m saying a great big—whoa, no.

That’s what happened today when I got a ‘personal and confidential, reply immediately’ letter in the mail. Sounds important. Right? But it wasn’t.

Turns out, it’s from a company offering to sell us unspecified warranty protection for one of our vehicles because it just happens to be out of the manufacturer’s warranty. We’re not sure WHICH one they’re writing about, because both cars and the truck are WAY out of manufacturer’s warranty.

I recognized the company’s name only because a month or so ago, I got tired of the daily marketing calls. Mid-morning, call about the warranty on Jim’s phone. Dinnertime, call about the warranty on my phone.

Now, Jim likes to have a little fun. “Oh no,” he says, “we sold that car ages ago.” Or, “Who are you calling? No one by that name lives here.” All the expected things one says to get a marketer to give up. But do the calls stop? They do not, and I finally reported the company to the Do Not Call List.

But I did more. I got an app from AT&T, called Call Protect, that labels and lets you block telemarketers, along with the handy feature of totally blocking potential fraud calls.

Yay. No more calls. But today. A snail mail letter.

Basically, the letter states that I haven’t yet called to activate my protection warranty and that means I’m responsible to pay for the repairs on my car. Okay, I’ll agree to be responsible. Don’t call anymore. Don’t write.

I wrote them back, letting them know that they used to call almost daily until I complained. I didn’t bother telling them about my nifty new app because they didn’t need to know. And then I wrote: “Figure it out, boys and girls. I haven’t contacted you to activate your services because I don’t want them. Stop bothering me.”

I wanted to call this something cute. Stalker marketing. Or stalkerting.  But believe it or not, there’s an organization out there using the two words ‘stalker’ and ‘marketing’ as part of their company’s name. I guess there’s something to be proud about in wearing down potential consumers until they buy your product or service.

Go figure.

Do I think they’ll stop? Not a chance. But be warned. I’ve officially had enough, and now have a file with their name on it.

What Civil Discourse?

I thought I’d miss Face Book. I don’t. I miss the photos and messages from friends and family far away. But Face Book? Nah.

I thought I’d be looking for the app on my phone—I deleted it. I don’t look for it and I’ve stopped checking Twitter too. Imagine.

This morning, my husband, Jim called me into the living room to show me something on HIS Face Book. Something about calling Social Security checks a Federal Benefit check. I will not get into the whole “I paid for that benefit and that’s why I’m entitled to it” discussion. Rebranding Social Security isn’t the problem. Just don’t think you can stop sending the cash (that we paid for out of every paycheck) without consequences. 

But I digress. Below that post, was another post about California and sanctuary cities. And a cryptic comment from Jim about hunger.

Now a little backstory. Jim has a lot of friends from high school—and their spouses—who are on the other side of our current political discussion. That’s fine. We’re both in favor of—well, for want of a better term—a civil discourse. Back in the ‘70’s we used to call it dialogue.

Addressing Jim’s post, one of those friends asked the burning question “Huh?” I did mention that Jim’s post was cryptic, right?

I’ve lived with the love of my life for more than a quarter century, and I knew exactly what he meant. I also knew he needed—oh—probably another 30 words to explain what he meant to folks who don’t live with him.

But. Just below Jim’s comment and his friend’s question was a GIF of a guy talking to a brick wall. And someone—maybe one of those old high school buddies—had added, “They have no common sense. This is what it’s like talking to a …” Maybe a donkey. Maybe an elephant. 

Okay. I get it. We’re on different sides of the current political argument. But c’mon guy. Stop with the insults. We’ll never get anywhere if the discussion starts with name-calling.

And for me, that’s what Face Book turned into. Family photos, cute kittens and puppies, flowers, and verbal abuse from ‘the other side’. It’s like we’re all in a boxing match and when the ref calls ‘FIGHT!’ we take our respective corners. No handshake. No punches.

No one will ever win that fist fight. Instead, at some point, weapons will be drawn.

The next time I’m asked to look at Face Book, I think I’ll put my fingers in my ears and sing. Lalalalalala…