Tag Archives: beauty

Garden Enigma -Part Two

In order to understand what I’m talking about, you need to read this post of mine. Not only it will give you an extensive view of the place, but it will save me also from the trouble of rewriting everything again. 

They say you will only realize the value of something when it is no longer there. In this case, it is true. In someway it is. Garden wise, it truly is. Financial wise, it’s not. But to us, especially to D., The place is still the benchmark. We still miss it. We often talk about the time we were drinking wine and eating tapas in the huge gazebo, sleeping on the loveseat when he came home from work amidst the singing of the birds and buzzing of insects, lighting the firepit during the colder months, taking a nap on the hammock and enjoying the great outdoors in our property right outside our doorsteps. I even wrote some of my articles in the garden. Now, the place is nothing but a distant memory.

How many times we drove there and park just outside the gate nursing the pain in our hearts upon seeing the people who bought it altered the property beyond belief, ripping the period features we cared for and loved replacing them with modern ones that do nothing to enhance the beauty of our once beloved house it looks like a butchered example of those renovations when people failed to successfully marry the old and the new. I saw that the yellow climbing rose I planted next to the front door is still alive and thriving. That baby has grown enormous it almost reached the third-floor window and covered with big blooms. I wonder if they will rip it out too in given time.

They say be careful what you wish for and often times this cliché happened to be true. At least in our case it certainly is. If I could do things all over again you will be surprised when I say I will not alter a single decision I had made that lead us to our current house with the beautiful garden we never use. I have no choice. It was then “take the plunge and swim” or “stay put and drown.”

What would you choose? 

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A Garden Enigma

I have a landscaped beautiful garden in my suburban home. Though it is done by a professional, I can’t help adding my personal touch to it, making it the cottage garden I adore and love but on a minimalistic side. There are still lots of blooms, but they are contained in specific spaces. The landscaper planted few key elements in clumps like Hydrangea Macrophylia, Spiraea Japonica ‘golden princess’ Some Buxus clouds by the front door, Choysia Ternata on the side gate and pachysandra terminalis as a ground cover. Oh, there is a lone  Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’ at the front. There are also few trees suited for small-ish gardens like Cornus Kousa, Cotinus coggygria ‘Royal Purple’ and a couple of Acers and three others I can’t recognize. I added a lot more since then.

There is a Hydrangea Petiolaris climbing on three poles by the right side of the house and a huge pergola at the very back of the garden covered with Wisteria. Directly by the kitchen door, there is a kitchen garden with three small pear trees and five different sizes of wooden vat planted with Mediterranean herbs. There are Lavander in some corner front and back, hardy Geraniums I can’t kill no matter what, a border of roses and one Hydrangea Quercifolia. Ah, I remember there is a large clump of Liriope muscari ‘Moneymaker’ also, and that was it.

The first thing I did when we moved to the place is to rip out the expensive real looking pseudo turf by the bay window at the front of the house and put a mixed border. You know… Delphinium, Asters; Monarda, Liatris, Phlox, Japanese anemone, ligularia dentata Desdemona and Othelo, Heucheras, Astrantia and such. I planted around the box clouds on the right side the same mix, they are under a small(?) grafted tree I don’t recognize. I think it is some Cherry Laurel on a stick, has white flowers with a subtle smell. The Buxus clouds suffered the heatwave this year so I dug them up and put them under the three towering Acers by the gate to recuperate and replaced them with a mixed border to mirror the left side under the bay window. This time I added Verbena, sedum (I doted them throughout the borders around the house too) Agapanthus, Rudbeckias, and Echinaceas. I added also some Valerian which seeded everywhere since then and bay leaves trees in the kitchen garden.

Did I mention there is an ornamental bubbling pond next to the circular terrace directly outside the bay french window in the living room? When we bought the place (which is a model/show house of excellent quality) there was only one kind of flower around it, Rudbeckia. I planted Echinacea, Verbena, some grasses, creeping sedum, and Crocosmia. D. Had his choice of water plants. No fish. I don’t do annuals unless they self-seed like Digitalis (by far my most favorite flower) forget-me-nots, Marigolds, Cosmos, and this year Hollyhocks because D. Not gardening not interested D. Decided he wants Hollyhocks. 

For all the beauty of the garden and all the hours I put beautifying and tending it we never use it.

I don’t know why.

We have a romantic bistro/Mediterranean inspired powder pink garden set directly next to the kitchen door by the kitchen garden in the view of the pond. There is a complete three-piece lounge set by the pond shaded by a huge umbrella, there is a big wooden bench under the pergola, and there are lounge beds around the garden but like my spare rooms in the house, they are museum pieces. Nobody uses them. I don’t go out in the garden unless to work, nothing else. Our front garden inside the first gate has a place for at least five cars but it is another lost space. Somewhere to traverse from the gate to the front door, that’s it.

I often wonder and ask myself why we don’t go out in the garden to relax. The only thing I could come with is the noise of the busy traffic outside the gate. Something we never anticipated when we bought the place. We heard the noise day and night and we don’t like it. Although there is a lot of space between our house and the actual road and there are double privacy hedges and trees still it’s not relaxing. If I can uproot the house and put it somewhere quiet I already did by now. I am willing to move one last time if I find a place that will make our current residence a second best but seven years of searching brings me nowhere and the longer it takes, the prospect of moving again doesn’t hold the same allure anymore for me. And my condition doesn’t make it easy either. 

I don’t know what we gonna do but in the meantime, I will enjoy (looking at) my garden from behind closed windows.

Next time I will tell you about a garden we do use. 

Intermission

My Wife the Gardener

She dug the plot on Monday –
the soil was rich and fine,
She forgot to thaw out dinner –
so we went out to dine…
She planted roses Tuesday –
she says they are a must,
They really are quite lovely
but she quite forgot to dust.
On Wednesday it was daisies –
they opened up with the sun,
All whites and pinks and yellows –
but the laundry wasn’t done…
The poppies came on Thursday –
a bright and cherry red,
I guess she really was engrossed –
she never made the bed…
It was violets on Friday –
in colours she adores,
It never bothered her at all –
all crumbs upon the floors
I hired a maid on Saturday –
my week is now complete,
My wife can garden all she wants –
the house will still be neat!
It’s nearly lunchtime Sunday –
and I cannot find the maid,
Oh no! I don’t believe it!
She’s out there WITH THE SPADE!

~ Peter (poem in an old magazine via Facebook)

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Invisible League

Like Alice plunging down the rabbit hole, I was suddenly not the fun girl at the party but the dotty auntie figure we humor for a moment before moving on. As older women we are no longer desirable, no longer perceived as anything but taking up space a younger person could put to better use in the job, in the relationship, in life. Age, I now realize, doesn’t creep up, it fells you with changes you didn’t see coming. And it happens at 50. You vanish, replaced by an old and forgettable woman.

This is an excerpt from an article written by Tracy Nesdoly for The Star (see the full article here) about At what age do some women begin to feel invisible? I came across this while looking for random things about age on the internet. One click and I was suddenly bombarded with page after page of written stories about women of a certain age who are invisible and no longer seen as important part of society. The titles are demeaning. Not only for us middle age women but for any woman young or old because whether we like it or not we will be in that position sooner or later. What do you think of: Dating: I’m the Invisible woman,  where the writer calling herself a mere plankton in the food chain of sexuality and the marketplace for relationships. A flimflam, a nuisance, an embarrassment of landfill. It hurts, doesn’t it?

In this post, ‘Invisible’ middle-aged women are fighting back English writer Helen Walmsley-Johnson talks about menopause, sexual, currency, dressing up for your age and hormones replacement. She recounted her personal experience with a group of young boys while walking through the park one day.

They made fun of her brisk walk, then began to crudely share their views on which of a group of passing schoolgirls they wanted to have sex with, clearly intending for her to hear. Tired of listening, Walmsley-Johnson asked them to move on — and to consider keeping their sexist remarks to themselves. They reacted with hissing, noxious anger, calling her a “dried up old c***” and suggesting that if a “real woman” were to talk to them about sexism, they might listen.

I have yet to experience this sort of things. Do I have to consider myself lucky?

I have always been younger looking than my real age (thanks to my ethnicity and good genes- the only good I inherited from my ancestors) not only by few years but by more than a decade, let’s say at least fifteen. When I’ve met my current husband I was thirty-seven but he thought I was twenty-two and so were his family and friends. When I was twenty-five they don’t allow me in the discos because the guards thought my ID was fake. I was once banned from accompanying my daughter to sexual orientation class because they thought I was her sister and only parents were allowed. And so the years go on like that, me being used to getting attention (lots of it actually) I don’t care for and wishing I’m invisible.

No, I don’t wear sexy or provocative clothes, figure-hugging attires will not find a home in my closet, I don’t wear makeup, high heels and go to the hair salon only once a year. In short, I am a low maintenance girl. Attracting attention to myself (any kind of attention) was and will never be my purpose in life and it irritates me enormously getting more than I think I deserved. And I thought it will go on like that till the end. Never cross in my naive brain that it will change someday.

The first sign happened when I turned forty- three. I was in the pharmacy and the guy behind the counter referred to me as ‘Madame’ instead of ‘Mademoiselle.’  I was taken aback. Shocked in fact. It hurts. I was always been ‘Mademoiselle’ instead of ‘Madame’ and suddenly it’s the other way around. I thought then that ‘now the process had begun.’

When almost a decade had passed with nothing or little changes to my status as a desirable woman I again thought it will never happen, until this year.

I am still looking at least fifteen years younger than my real age but I’m fifty-one, and forty isn’t twenty. And gradually I noticed subtle changes. The guys who are looking at me now are not the sixteen years old anymore. The twenty-something still glance my way but soon averted their eyes when they realized in which age category I truly belonged. Their gaze never lingers anymore or check more than once, they bestow me an interested glance which quickly fades and then move on without looking back. I can walk now into a restaurant without commanding attention. There was a time that wherever I walk men (women too but with hostility) stop whatever they were doing and look, and keep looking till I was out of sight. I have out of this world experience related to my sensuality and it’s strong effect on men you wouldn’t believe if I tell so I would spare you the details. I was by no means a ‘beauty’ or ‘femme fatale,’ the truth is I never know why I had this such effect on men, my ex once described me as magic but whatever it is, it is soon disappearing.

And with it comes the realization that I don’t want to be invisible. Not only as a woman but as a human being. I’m getting old yes, I’m losing my magic, probably so, but I still have feelings. Feelings never change. Who wants to be irrelevant?

Deborra-Lee-Furness, in her interview with Australian Women’s Weekly magazine, talked about jaw-droppingly insulting titles of stories written about her (and others who are in the same situation) being married to uber hunk Mr. Hugh Jackman who happened to be thirteen years her junior. She said: “People think a 58-year-old woman doesn’t deserve a big-shot, funny, handsome, movie star husband at all. It’s still acceptable for there to be a million internet articles about being a supposedly unattractive middle-aged man and be able to “punch above your weight” and bag yourself a younger, stunning partner.”

What could I say? I am married to someone 11 years my junior. Do I have to be scared? He’s getting old too I know but everyone is aware that getting old is not the same for men and women. I don’t have to list the differences because it is a common knowledge. Damn the double standard.

Marina Benjamin, author of The Middlepause found an essay from a 1903 issue of Cosmopolitan magazine in which a woman of 50′ used to be perceived as a person of achievement and grace and was “characterized as having ‘distinctive charm and beauty, ripe views, disciplined intellect, and cultivated manifold gifts’.” That is so clearly not the case nowadays, and for the woman approaching this milestone age, there is a good reason to feel anxious, or sad, or pissed off. She said:

“Fifty feels tarnished as an old coin, and worn — worn down and worn out,” she says. “There is nothing glamorous about 50 that I can see, not even in some retro way.” 

How about you? Do you have Invisible Woman Syndrome?

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Beauty Is In The Eye Of The Beholder

It’s not puberty that hits you. It’s your deliberate choice to cope with society’s standards of beauty. You shed fats, you wore makeup, you fit in. Truth be told, if you aren’t beautiful to them, you’ll surely won’t be treated right.

I discovered lipstick when I was 48 and I started wearing them only two years ago. I don’t care what society wants and expects, I have my own rules. It doesn’t make my life any easier but I don’t go with the flow and life is too short to worry myself about things that don’t concern me really. I’ve been treated unfairly because of the color of my skin and been accused of many things I didn’t do because I refuse to be part of the social herd but what judgmental, simple-minded prejudiced people think say and do tell more about their narrow one-track mindedness and characters than about me. Eat their hearts out for all I care. Shakespeare once said:

My beauty, though but mean,
Needs not the painted flourish of your praise:
Beauty is bought by judgement of the eye,
Not utter’d by base sale of chapmen’s tongues

That means beauty, like supreme dominion
Is but supported by opinion and exists merely in the mind which contemplates them.

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My Place In The World

“What a strange thing!
to be alive
beneath cherry blossoms.” 
― Kobayashi Issa, Poems

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I’m a nature lover, I can’t live without a (preferably cottage) garden. That and books. 

I like to be in the city no doubt. Especially when I want to be alone but not lonely, then I want to be amongst people I have nothing to do with. Strangers who don’t want something from me. I can happily be lost in anonymity while surrounded by life itself. I thrive on that.

But nothing can compare the joy and peace nature brings to my daily existence. I love to see things grow, watch the progress, observe the changing of seasons and admire the beauty of everything, the sunshine on the water, moon’s reflection on a lake, the turbulent sea and the buzz of insects.

I love to wake up in the morning with the birds singing outside my window, love to watch them do their things, I love to paint the different species of flowers and photograph their life cycle. I love to bath in the rain and chase rainbows, jump from the top of the waterfalls, hike mountains and walk; walk the beaten paths and road less traveled. I’m not only a nomad and a gypsy but a country girl at heart.

My place in the world? Definitely in nature.

If you’ve got it, flaunt it!

I disagree.

At least not always and depends on the situation and the manner of showing your assets. It’s okay to be confident, it’s okay to be proud of what you have but it’s not okay to be vulgar, not in my dictionary.  

Flaunt means to show something that you are proud of to other people, in order to impress them and in my book, anything you do to impress people ( unless you are soliciting for a job or aiming for something similar) is the same as caressing your own ego, to seek validation, confirmation. And if you need others to verify and affirm your own self-worth, what you are then? It’s the same as only insecure people have an urge to belittle others to feel good about themselves. Only those who have serious self-esteem issues feel the need to stand on someone else’s back to look tall. 

I’m all for self-expression and keeping your own personality and originality but do it because it’s you and nothing else. Don’t be different for the sake of being different. Don’t be out there to be noticed, to stand out and feel special, to attract attention and be admired. Don’t flaunt you think what you’ve got for all the wrong reasons. If you’re authentic, sooner or/than later people will notice believe me. It’s hard to hide one’s own true nature. Like the truth, it will come out eventually.

Just be yourself and if it means being a rainbow amidst all the greys then so be it.

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Observe

That’s what I do (automatically) observe people and surroundings. I can assess situations in mere seconds and draw my conclusion from what’s before me. I see the big picture in one glance and miss nothing. Being an Empath I see more and feel more, therefore, learn more. Words mean nothing to me. It’s the body language and tone of voice I focus on to determine with whom I am dealing with. That and my instinct which up to now never fails me yet.

Even in a relaxed environment and situation I never stop observing and absorbing scenes. People fascinate me in a lot of ways, their relationships with others and their surroundings, and the manners they choose to express their personal tastes and preferences revealing their true characters and what’s going on under the surface. But most of all I admire their beauties from an artist’s point of view. The tilt of the chin, the way the eyes look in certain lights, the cheekbones, and the facial expressions, the colors of the hair when the sun rays hit the strands, freckles over the nose bridge, things like that. What beautiful for me may not be so for the others since beauty is subjective. Let’s put it this way: If a subject caught my attention, that says enough. If it keeps me interested for more than five minutes that’s already a record, but if I want to capture their image through photography or on canvas, that means I’m impressed.

I can’t say this enough: I am not particularly fond of people on a more personal basis but they are my never-ending source of inspiration for my crafts. Them and life itself. 

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Prolific

At this time of the year, there are some plants that bloom prolifically as if there is no tomorrow. And rightly so because their days are numbered. They have to put on a show as best as they can for their beauties are transient, ephemeral. Their glory is momentary, their claim to fame is short and sudden. Luckily, they will have another chance to do it again though they have to wait long for it. But what’s another year?        

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