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  • a happy, ordinary, middle-aged, suburban woman who paints odd pictures, gardens in a straw hat, lives with the love of her life, is owned by one cat and the ghosts of several others, and walks a little funny 'cause she has a fake leg. She started this website because there's more to life than what we lose, and we need to let each other know what's possible, even if it's only a happy, ordinary life.

November 2011

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    sara at saraarts dot com

    Make sure the subject line of your correspondence is clear and specific. I do not open e-mails from strangers unless I can tell in advance that I want to read them.

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  • I Took The Handmade Pledge!

Good reads, grownups only

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Kelley Bell

Not so bad at all, especially when folks like you are so willing to share.

Thanks for the input.


After the pruning foot, wild roses are a nice follow-up!

It sounds lovely, really, (I say wistfully as I sit locked in a hotel room with my children in the middle of godforsaken Missouri).


It is my pleasure to share the good as well as the bad and weird here, ladies. And as funky as things sometimes get (and you know things get funky for everyone at some point or other, just in different flavors for different people), you just can't deny the good.

I will try to add a photo of some of those roses before they go away. This particular strain is considered a pernicious weed by many because it climbs all over everything, pushing aside other plant life, and has vicious thorns. But it is a native species and very beautiful, and for two weeks every June, wherever it grows it makes the air edibly sweet.

I've been known to rescue seedlings of this "weed" from places where they were doomed to be angrily destroyed, transplanting them next to wire fences and little wickety garden dividers that needed something like them, something alive and barely containable, to lend them grace. They never suffer transplant shock, just take to whatever soil I stick them in like it's their favorite teat.

This year I even put some next to a trellis. I'll just keep my eye on them, trimming them back when they threaten to get out of hand. They are trainable, but not tractable, which is something I respect, and I like the fact that after we are gone they will help reclaim the materials we've lived in.


You paint a gorgeous picture.


Okay, I stand corrected. According to Weeds of the Northeast (Uva, Neal, and DiTomaso; Comstock Publishing/Cornell University Press; © 1997), the weed "multiflora rose" now pictured above is not a native but an introduced species.

"A native of East Asia, [it] was introduced into the United States in the late 1800s as a rootstock for other roses. It has escaped cultivation and is now naturalized over much of the United States, where it has become a serious weed of rangeland."

Well. This isn't rangeland. And I have a soft spot in my heart for things which escape cultivation, especially when they smell nice.


Oh, and thanks, Patry. (We seem to have cross-posted.) :)

Ron Sullivan

Weeds are scary in wildlands. In towns, not so much. Whether "rangeland" is wildland or nor, and to what degree if so, is another debate entirely. You know California's introduced annual grass problem, no? But ranchers consider the native iris species to be weeds in their otherwise alien pastures -- many of which are public lands.


Ron, here in Massachusetts, it's the "purple peril" -- purple loosestrife which escaped cultivation awhile back and now has taken over the entire countryside. It's everywhere. July and August in New England are now laden with hot pinkish purple, a color which would have surprised the puritans, I think.

It's gorgeous, but it's a real problem. It's choking out wetlands and all the native plants that ensure diversity there, at least, the diversity of the past. And the thing that kills me is how, instead of paying people, maybe people currently on the dole or otherwise in need of assistance, to go out and weed the stuff out by hand, the "solution" I've heard most ardently pressed to date has been the idea of bringing over a kind of beetle from somewhere else, a beetle which supposedly "only" eats up purple loosestrife.

Yeah. Sure. Where have we heard this before?

I still feel conflicted about this kind of thing, though, about plants and animals that escape cultivation and change the surrounding ecosystems. Maybe this is part of evolution, our part. I am not a scientist, and I don't claim to know what's right. I want to believe the romantic idea that there are places for all beautiful species everywhere they can thrive, and that we can somehow just keep an eye on things and strive to hold the wild to some sort of balance with the cultivated. But the birds have other ideas.

The birds, many of whom are themselves imported species (several forms of cute but crabby little sparrow, for example, and the starlings I adore), choose their foods regardless of country of origin. And the birds, native and imported, town and country, like the little red hips these starry white roses leave behind when their petals fall. The hips persist into winter, when the birds eat them, and then redistribute them all over the place like so much propaganda out of a war plane.

I have such a hard time figuring out what parts of this are good and what parts are bad. I love irises. I love grass and beef tacos, though, too (even though I used to be vegan and also suffered terrible allergies growing up in California). I think, again, going slowly and tending things carefully by hand, situation by situation, is really the best we can do, as individuals.

But maybe that's a cop-out. I didn't bring these roses here, but I love them too much to let them go. I think the loosestrife is beautiful, and would be happy merely to see less of it, so other things could continue living here, too. I love the cranky sparrows almost as much as the dear, philanthropic chickadees, and I feed them both, as well as the squirrels and chipmunks who themselves end up feeding the fishers and the red tail hawks.

Besides, I'm a transplant, too, not a breeder, but still here, far from my native soil, which itself is far from where my forebears derived. The difficulty I have drawing this kind of line might just find its root in my own wandering ancestry.

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