Happy 1sts –

Yesterday’s overcast/misty day was followed by rain during the night, and this morning, I awoke to new beginnings:

The first poppy has burst forth –

First Poppy of the season
First Poppy of the season

After making the wonderful discovery, last year,  of naturalized poppies in my wilderness (aka front yard) I failed to get that area weeded/newspapered/rocked/mulched before last year’s poppy season was over and I decided to let it go au naturale for another few months, so as not to disrupt any fallen poppy seeds and thus, deprive myself of these wondrous flowers my mom lusts after because they’ve never survived at her place – –

In my attempt to not disrupt the order of the universe in the area deemed ‘Poppyville’ – it actually looks like ‘PoppySlum” – same shot, but zoomed out so you can see what most areas of my place look like before I feel confident that I know what to keep, what to pull and how to take care of what’s already present – – (see?  I’m really trying to remember the ‘Before Picture” thing!)

Yes, yes, I'll get it cleaned and weeded and mulched before the seeds fall this year!
Yes, yes, I’ll get it cleaned and weeded and mulched before the seeds fall this year!

Not knowing of this wondrous gift, it was I, yes I, who told them to dump the sand/gravel for grading right here, thinking I was just covering weeds – – I probably unwittingly killed a dozen more poppies last year in my ignorance…

Next, I gleefully clapped my hands, and interrupted the child unit’s high score video game adventure to shout, “Come out and look!!  Our mammoth sunflowers are starting to come up!”

Welcome to the world, baby!
Welcome to the world, baby!

Eight of the 40 planted seeds to grow and shade my south house wall this summer have arrived into the upper world – Yay!  The Child Unit, who was taking a video game break after dutifully working on both house and garden projects this morning did, to his credit, not moan too loudly and came outside to see what all the fuss was about.

I  just had to take a break from the dull/boring (housework) and fun/exciting (yardwork) to log-in and share the good news!

Happy summer to you and all that comes with it!

Catching 400

After my little Housecleaning venture, I realized what a fool I’d been – Though I follow many, I do have favorites and it occurred to me that it’s very simple to go to my “Blogs I follow” list, clicky-click and work my way back through those I love and hold dear – –

Meaning, some of you have already had to log in and see umpteen Likes/Comments waiting approval from TamrahJo – I imagine a scene of sighing and eye-rolling, “Why can’t she just keep caught up?” you exclaim in frustration!   My bad, yet you all are so talented, you trigger memories, quotes and such that I, in my childlike state, simply must share about!

This is a blanket apology, I guess…. If you haven’t logged in to find me cluttering up your notifications box yet, count your lucky stars and know your day is coming – – 🙂


I started sweating what to blog about earlier last week, when I found life quiet enough to once again take frequent sojourns here in WordPress land and discovered I was nearing my 400th post mark – – for those of you who are frequent posters, you are free to laugh  – – for those just starting, truly, it’s no big deal since this coming August, I’ll have been blogging for 4 years – – or, more accurately, I’ve had a WordPress account for 4 years – – which breaks down to less than 10 posts per month and is by no means anything to brag about – since I quite frequently do 60 posts on one day and go deep undercover for months at a time – –

Here’s the Highlights:

Apparently, if I ever want to take blogging seriously and establish a niche, I really should limit myself to reviews and How-to’s as they are my most consistently popular posts – I”ve decided against taking this seriously because reviews and how-to’s require remembering to take pictures before/after – hours spent in Photoshop labeling parts and different stages of construction step-by-step lists and really, just what could I say I was an expert in, given my God-given nature of flitting from one brilliant idea to another with no time spent learning the fine art of mastery on any of them….

Since first starting my blog here I’ve moved from writing about self-help/healing and social/political causes to nattering on about all the different perspectives, observations and silly nonsense that is catching my attention this week, day, nanosecond.   A friend once laughingly said to me:

“You know, in various circumstances, it’s appropriate to say, “That’s so last year” or “So last season” – For you, you’re safe in saying, “That’s so one minute ago”

Since BallyBin’s inception, I’ve moved 4 times (only once due to my own planning and volition) navigated a divorce and recovered from a stroke.    I’ve gone from a workaholic to someone who celebrates when I can work 4 hours at a time without needing to rest.    I’ve shared the heartbreak and distress over the loss of my son/dad which precipitated the 7 years of massive changes and challenges (I started blogging mid-way in the journey).

I’ve spent countless hours in front of my computer, discovering other bloggers and chatting at all hours of the night because I wasn’t well enough to work or confident enough with my stroke Elmer Fudd voice to socialize in person – those of you who were my only social contact during this time kindly refrained from pointing out all the typos my right hand made during my stroke recovery process, offered your support and ideas when I struggled with an obstacle and made me feel not so alone and despairing as I watched many of you deal with your own struggles and come up with some really awesome solutions –

Over the past 4 years and 400 posts, I’ve made friends in countries I didn’t even know existed – I’ve learned to be very grateful for where I live and to understand even more fully the strength of the human spirit –

I’ve virtually visited and seen sights I may never get to in person, through your talent with a camera and willingness to share.

I’ve learned that my story, as rocky and unsophisticated/un-enlightened as it is, seems to hold value for some – that what I get excited about is a shared passion by others and reminds me there are always, always some birds to flock with when you’re feeling alone and out of sync with the rest of the world.

So I guess, instead of attempting to write some in-depth analysis of our current economic system, or plumb the depths of the human soul, or tell you once again about building a Garden of Eden in my backyard, I’ll simply make my 400th post about you –

Thank you from the bottom of my heart – I may have made it to this point intact, anyways, but not as inspired, comforted and joyful as I did by being allowed to share in your journey.

Happy 400th to all of us.


I missed spring cleaning this year due to furiously whipping out websites for launch – I’m now into summer activities that result in lots of dirt, mulch and other wonderful things being carried thoughtfully into my domicile by both the dog and me.

Dishes are rinsed and stacked in the sink until 3 meals have passed, at which time, I must do them in order to serve the next meal.

(Ain’t I clever?  I have just 6 of each: plates, glasses, bowls, saucers, cups – my own way of controlling how messy my kitchen counter gets… Only problem with this is it limits how many people you can invite over for a dinner party…)

But this morning, another kind of housecleaning is on my mind – I’ve been down and cranky lately – tis the time of year for anniversaries I’d rather forget and I’m trying to cut myself some slack over the whole deal, but once again, I find myself trying to grind out the season from mid-May to mid-June.


As I scrolled through my WordPress reader this a.m., I realized that my reader reflects my journey these past few years – in it I find the bloggers who chatted with me when I was recovering from my stroke and didn’t have much in-person social interaction –

There are those in the community who have also survived the loss of a child and I watch as both they and I overcome stumbling blocks to our healing.

A good handful of energy healers, astrologers, comedians & philosophers for when life hurts so bad you must simply immerse yourself in works that promise there is hope, Saturn will quit retro-grading at some point and you have the power to make it all better – and if you don’t know how right now, they’ll at least tell you a joke, share a quote or warm your heart with a story.

Sprinkled throughout are those creative artists and photographers who sometimes grace their artwork with snippets of poetry – a quick journey to the world of beauty and a reminder that I really ought to ‘point and shoot’ my camera more carefully –

The published, self-published and getting-ready to publish writers who share their tips, tricks and challenges so the rest of us don’t have to reinvent the wheel, should we ever decide to write for a living.  From these folks I also learn about new software and technical how-to.

When I’m feeling snarky about things I don’t like, I have a whole cadre of folks who keep me informed about why the economy is like it is, what social justice arguments are taking place in their neck of the woods and how to survive a zombie apocalypse or build my own fortress should I ever take the next step in becoming a hermit…

Right next to them are the folks who know how to grow their own food and how to turn some barren, sandy soil into a work of art with a shovel, some garden soil and xeriscape plants.  They show me how beautiful I can make my recycled tires with just some power tools and paint as well as a 1001 uses for discarded wood pallets and plastic 2 liter bottles.

My reader is actually my life story – it’s a tale of where I’ve been and what interested me at the time – it’s a indicator of how I’m doing today (jokes, inspiration and gardening ideas, please, I’m too depressed to save the world or care what a government across the sea is doing, at least for today – – )

And it’s a story of letting go, too.

I noticed this morning that subjects I used to follow avidly, I now skip over – that conversations that used to amuse me no longer do and some grass-root movements no longer seem as viable as they once did.

So I did some housecleaning on my follow list – and sat here pondering how much I’ve changed these past few years – which was rather cheering, since I awoke to pain and longing for my son this morning and railed against the fact that I still take a nose-dive every year around this time.

Once again, the WordPress community is owed my thanks – whether we journeyed together via the reader for a short or long while, you did make a difference for me.

Thank You.



Amaranth and Flowers

Last post the ugly ‘before’ pic showed up in the reader first – yes, I’m lazy and fail to use the featured image option most days – –

So, I’ll show you the ‘after’ view – depicting the fence area cleaned yesterday and the portion of the fence row I got done before running out of the awesomely priced edging bricks I picked up for the whole strawberry episode (the stones were priced so nicely, I bought all I could afford – had enough left over to get this latest project 1/2 done – )

Gold and Burgundy Amaranth
Gold and Burgundy Amaranth

And now, the ugly before pic –


Around the tree area, I put down a flower seed mat I purchased from Yankee Candle – What?!? You didn’t know they sold flower/garden stuff?   Okay, I’ll tell you the story – My co-worker’s granddaughter approached me about buying something from their fund raising catalog from Yankee Candle to support her 4-H group – choking back a sigh, I looked up the website and vainly searched for something I actually wanted to purchase and support her cause – – lo and behold, they had flower seed mats and I bought six, gleefully pulling some money from my garden/landscaping budget to make a good showing as a philanthropist that supports local youth groups instead of buying what I could afford out of my discretionary budget, which had already been blown supporting my son’s baseball teams’ quest for summer camp and uniform money – – (Netted Little Caesar pizza kits for when I’m too tired to cook dinner out of that donation….)

I’ve tried the mats before (from other fundraising fiascoes) and haven’t ever had much luck with them – but what the heck, a donation is a donation and perhaps these will work – –

white area is the flower seed mat from Yankee Candle, before thoroughly covered with dirt and watered.
white area is the flower seed mat from Yankee Candle, before thoroughly covered with dirt and watered.

And finally, the part where I had to stop because I ran out of black edging for near the fence and stones for the front  – But Friday is  payday and my budget for ‘Gardening:Supplies’ will be replenished!  Can’t wait for TGIF!

Oops! Ran out of supplies - I was tired of lugging dirt, anyways.
Oops! Ran out of supplies – I was tired of lugging dirt, anyways.


We started off this project with the wheelbarrow to haul the dirt in – as I knelt near the front, to keep the edging stones from getting pushed over and scraped the last bit from the barrow, a loud ‘bang’ went off – I thought one of us had been the victim of a drive-by shooting and quickly looked to ensure the boy was still standing – –

Alas, we filled the barrow too full and didn’t do proper maintenance – the front tire ruptured itself smack dab in the middle, resulting in my ears ringing for a good twenty minutes – who knew wheelbarrow tires could be so scary and noisy?

Garden Plans – Stardate 052714

Yesterday while pulling out nearly a years worth of hardy grass new growth and dead strands, it occurred to me I really ought to keep a diary of my projects as I strive to transform my 3 lot, 100 year old home place into my own Garden of Eden.

I rarely think to snap pics until I’m all done – “My, ain’t that pretty?  Let’s take a snapshot!”

So here are some snaps – some have before and after –  some, I didn’t think about the camera until too late –


Remember the southside of the house when this project first commenced?  The nice rolling ditch to funnel water right back to the foundation?

Southside - Ditch to be dug for blocks
Southside – Ditch to be dug for blocks

Here with a nice sanded slope I had been advised to put in place, by no less than 5 local ‘experts’, only to discover this traps wet in the stucco, which necessarily breathes from the bottom air holes?

Growing Green Things
Growing Green Things

Then the hours of digging down, sloping and installation of a secondary raised bed?

Ready to build kitchen herb garden
Behind the scenes – 2 layers of block protecting steep sloped, plastic covered, pebble graveled run-off away from foundation

Well, here’s the south side nearly finished – tire perimeter in place and two of the perennials from last year made it – beds need their mineral/rock dust amendments and then will be planted with summer vegetables.   The back portion of bed already planted with mammoth sunflowers to shade the wall – sunflower seed fits my budget better this year than the lattice work I had hoped to install between the upright poles – ah well, there’s always next year!

Fronts of the beds planted yesterday with marigold and nasturtium seeds – hopefully, my marigolds aggressively self-seed!

2/3rds Done! Middle beds and walkways left to do

Me and the boy cleaned out a mess of leaves, tumbleweeds, hardy grass and dead leavings to clean out the west side of the yard fence – the below featured tree has quite a few buds on it, so not ready to give up on it just quite yet – this area will be prepared for an amaranth and cabbage bed – if the amaranth gets as tall as it says it will, should provide some nice shading late in the day.  In the background, you can see Oakley, the wonder dog, lying carefully in between the rows of Jerusalem artichokes – alas, she has stunted the growth of 2 of them, but more are poking their heads out and we have 6 that are 4″+ high already!

Future Home of Amaranth - Burgundy and Golden Giant
Future Home of Amaranth – Burgundy and Golden Giant

The east side is coming along nicely – Here’s a pic from my front door during last years heavy rainstorm – and the tires I originally thought to use for the eastern perimeter.

August 3rd - Rain, Rain and some more Rain
August 3rd – Rain, Rain and some more Rain

Next, a picture of the east side in progress –  beds next to the house that capture roof run-off and the establishment of what is sidewalk/what will be lawn area.

Transplanted to these beds last fall, the new irises, white and purple,  have put on a lovely show and will be inter-planted with lovage and purple volcano sage.   All but one of the roses transplanted from my mom’s garden last year failed to make it – one has 2 green leaves down near the base, so left it in to see what happens –

The front walk-way blocks were planted with perennial chives and annual cumin – I may regret planting chives so close to where I’m going to attempt having a pretty, run in your bare feet lawn space – time will tell.  The side of the lawn planted with a low growing, drought tolerant seed mix last fall (right) received no supplemental water from September through now – which means I have to reseed and try again this year to get well established before testing it’s drought tolerant capabilities.

Walkway to be lined by chives and cumin - lawn re-seeding awaiting me getting the micro-irrigation back out of the shed
Walkway to be lined by chives and cumin – lawn re-seeding awaiting me getting the micro-irrigation back out of the shed

The hurriedly built and transplanted strawberry beds are showing the seedlings of 7 different kinds of lettuce and the spinach is nearly 3 inches tall.   I inter-planted some salsify in one bed between the strawberries (lettuce at the outer edges) and also planted perennial Welsh onions in the second bed in between the strawberry plants – both the salsify and the Welsh onions are new to me, so will keep you posted on how that whole experiment turns out.

Right under the pine tree, with good morning sun - so much for having to rake pine needles here - !
Strawberries and Salsify in middle, Mesculan mix around one outer edge, spinach planted on the other outer edge.
Tried the low-cost black edging from Lowes - easy to do, will let you know how long it lasts
Strawberries and Welsh onions planted in middle – green leaf and flame red lettuces planted at edges.

Interested  in any of the plants?  Here’s the links to the seeds I purchased:

Amaranth, Golden Giant

Amaranth, Burgundy Grain Organic

Welsh Onion, Bunching Scallions


Mammoth Sunflower

French Sparky Marigold

Dwarf Nasturtium


I suppose the area for amaranth is not going to prep itself, so I’ll sign off – Happy Gardening!

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