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What A Good Year For The Peonies?


Some of you, especially those of you who have been reading my blog for any length of time will know that my childhood wasn’t quite…normal. I don’t mean this in a woe-is-me-my-life-sucked sort of way, because with the aid of a lot of smashed glassware and torn up flower beds, I’m pretty zen with the whole thing. My birth coincided with my mother’s mental health decline so I spent a lot of my young life in the role of caregiver and caretaker.

The most unexpected side effect of all of this chaos that Young Aunt Becky was my astonishment that some Things That Remain The Same. There was a movie out a couple years ago (and by couple I mean a lot longer than that) with Julia Roberts who is a serial jilter, leaving a couple different dudes at the alter.

It comes to pass that you find out she’s been morphing herself to be whatever that man wants her to be over a plate of eggs. First, she likes them over-easy, with the next guy, they’re poached, and finally scrambled. When confronted at the end, I think, she claims she doesn’t like eggs at all.

I watched that movie–really stupid if I can remember correctly–and sat there, mouth agape! It was my mother! On the big screen! Only she wasn’t changing to fit herself neatly into a jigsaw puzzle for someone else, she was doing it because that’s what she did.

One year, yellow was her favorite color. Then green. Then cobalt blue. My brother–who is 10 years my senior–remembers her favorite ice cream being butter pecan. For me, it was Jamocha Almond Fudge. She loved french fries, now she claims that she never liked them at all, despite vivid memories that I have of her filching them off my plate as a child.

Thanks to a cocktail of ECT and alcohol, her memory is shot, so she doesn’t remember key things like this.

Now, of course people change over time, and their preferences alter accordingly, but not this dramatically. Since I can recall, my favorite color has been pink, I’ve always had an illicit love-affair with diet Coke, I’ve always hated writing in blue ink, and, if given the choice, I prefer driving stick shift.

Will these always be the way of things? I don’t fucking know. I’ll be 29 in two months and these are things about me that have always just been the way of things.

Occasionally, things will pop up, things I never knew I liked. This blog, for example, would have been something I’d not have thought I’d like to do. I never was a writer (save for a butt-load of research papers), I never kept a journal, and if you’d have told me a couple years ago that I would have written a book AND gotten an agent or two, I would have expected that I had spree murdered a bunch of people and then written about it from my cell.

It was that far off my radar.

(I’ll tell you more about this in another post. o! the cruel suspense!)

Another oddity is gardening. My mother, as my brother and I both remember her (joint memories are a rarity), was a gardener. She’s no longer interested in it, but I grew up playing in the dirt and hoping that my Rich Other Family would swoop in and save me. We’d move to a castle and I’d make the servants garden for me.

My paternal grandfather was an avid horticulturist as well, so we’d spend most of the summers with him up at the Botanic Garden or in his green house. Some of my earliest memories are of the industrial sized fans that the greenhouses, which I was always transfixed by.

Now, I had a scanner (hint, hint hint, The Daver), I’d scan some pictures of me and insert them here to make my point, but you know, I’m sorely lacking in the scanner department…

Anyway, some of the best memories I have of childhood are playing in the greenhouse, the smell of fresh dirt and fertilizer in the moisture heavy air just makes my knees go weak. It’s the closest I can get to feeling safe and at home. There are tentative future plans for the installation of a greenhouse here for me, and I’m giddy just imagining it.

(why yes, I *am* an old woman!)

Last year, after my dueling miscarriages, I engaged in some post-miscarriage therapy in the form of digging out and bagging up approximately 6.2 million tons of moldy mulch from my side yard. I was preparing it for the addition of some peony bushes. Then, in a brilliant move no one could have predicted I not only got pregnant but then I fell down the stairs and hurt my ever-loving foot.

The side yard project was shelved and the weeds grew amuck (The Daver will always make sure I have top network speeds and fancy computers, but yard work is SO Not His Thing).

The peonies had to wait.

I went to the greenhouse (o! be still my heart!) this weekend, dragging The Daver away from the computer and picked up a couple of peony bushes. And a small hydrangea bush. I won’t bore you with pictures because I didn’t take them, and if I had, I’d just point out that my house has ugly yellow siding and that said siding needs a power-washing.

(I also engaged in some killing of buckthorns and snowball bushes this weekend, which, although incredibly satisfying, isn’t going to look as cool as my peonies. Because, obviously)

This year, I’m gonna reap just what I sow.

(that sounds more ominous than I intended)


What’s something you didn’t know you liked that you now adore? Or something you couldn’t have predicted being good at?

40 Comments to

“What A Good Year For The Peonies?”

  1. On May 11th, 2009 at 10:52 am Notesfromthegrove Says:

    I have become obsessed with reading blogs. OBSESSED! I love it. Can’t get enough. I had no idea you people had been writing blogs for as long as you have, lol. Where the hell have I been?

  2. On May 11th, 2009 at 11:44 am Em Says:

    Interior design – I don’t mean professionally or anything, but I’m finally carving out some time to really create a beautiful home. I scored a gorgeous retro style lamp for my office last Friday ($38 on clearance – better than sex) and I catch myself admiring how great it looks in the room. Not in a materialistic way. But more in an I-kind-of-get-why-people-try-harder-than-me kind of way.

    And I’m so with you on the blue ink thing. All blue pens must go.

    An agent – seriously!!?!?!

    I expect pictures of the peonies. My absolute favorite. Mine have already bloomed. Sadness until next Spring.

  3. On May 11th, 2009 at 11:04 am Sandy Says:

    Being a mother. I’ve hated children all my life. No joke – hated. I always found then loud, obnoxious needy specimens of viral yuck. I wanted to marry a professor or a shrink and live in our sky rise condo and snub our noses at those poor dirty people with rug rats dragging them down while we drank our coffee and spent 3 hours reading the newspaper and Literary Magazines.

    Then, I got knocked up.

    Now I’m all “we are the world” holding hands with children and singing and making crafts from paper plates and pine cones. I’ve got milk stained carpet and finger painted drawings all over my desk. I’m hooked. I love motherhood and I love children.

  4. On May 11th, 2009 at 12:14 pm Ms. Moon Says:

    You know, I think I’m interested in the same things I always was but it’s funny to me how much MORE interested I’ve become in some of those, most notably yard-work and gardening. As my children have grown up and moved out, I have filled my life with more and more plants. I think it’s a lovely thing to do, to work outside and grow things.

  5. On May 11th, 2009 at 11:28 am Kendra Says:

    I never would have imagined myself sewing. It seems like a little thing, but when I was growing up, my mom would occasionally get the sewing bug and decide to make us clothes. A few came to pass, but not many once I was a little older and there were three of us kids to keep track of. So I kind of always saw sewing as either something that you were inherently good at or else something that was bound to disappoint. But a few years ago, I got a sewing machine, and I love it so much! I make sheets for the playpens, I made my daughter a tag blanket, and I made my niece a bean bag chair for Christmas. It went so well that I just bought fabric to make one for each of my boys. They’re really excited and want to know if they’re done yet; I keep trying to explain that I’m just starting to cut the fabric.

    A few years ago, I would never have thought that I’d be able to sew anything that turned out to be useful to anyone. But I’m amazed at how much satisfaction it has brought me to feel like I actually make things.

  6. On May 11th, 2009 at 11:48 am Meghan Says:

    You know you make me think too much in the mornings;p…kinda like you I never imagined myself putting so much into a blog. I never wrote in a journal, I don’t pour myself out to many people. I have only two people other than the wide internet- who knows a bit of me and my BFF and Neil who know it ALL.

    That and I never imagined myself to be so creative when i put my mind to it…I can actually make some pretty neat things;) But I’m modest to right;P

  7. On May 11th, 2009 at 11:50 am amy Says:

    To first answer your question: becoming a mom
    I never really ewwwed & ahhhhed over babies the way most other women do. And I’ve only been a mom for 10 months and I’m sure he will need loads of therepy to fix everything I inevitably will do to him….but honostly, at the end of the day he is my world. And I strive to be a better person for him.

    Secondly, dude! A book?! I’m freaking dying of suspense here!!!

    Lastly, I swear we were separated at birth. Peonies and Hydrangea are my favorite flowers. My husband covered the backyard with hydrangea. Really, it’s beautiful. This is a link from last year of some pics…

    funny thing…after 3 years of trying to figure out how to turn the hydrangea blue, Mike finally figured it out. They are all about to bloom! Unfortunately, they stay behind when we move this month:(

  8. On May 11th, 2009 at 11:52 am kalakly Says:

    Oh peonies, how I wish you grew here. I wait breathlessly for the day the cuttings show up at the market so i can have a bouquet here just for a few days. I’m jealous of your bush. Wait that sounded weird.

  9. On May 11th, 2009 at 11:57 am Melanie Says:

    Ok while i appreciate how pretty the flower is, I dont do peonies (and they grow like a weed around here) i think its because of all the ants the attract, at least in my neighborhood. I just finished up redoing the front landscaping (goodbye nasty evergreen shrubs) hello hydrangeas! LOVE THEM! I love how you can put one stem in a simple vase and it looks awesome!

    I never thought i would be into cake decorating, and in many ways I am still NOT, as in I dont enjoy doing others peoples bidding, but when I get to do my own kids and family…..its kind of cool to see what i can create.

  10. On May 11th, 2009 at 12:18 pm Inna Says:

    I never thought I’d be a knitter… but I learned because it was a cool thing to do since it was for preemie babies, and now, I’m hooked! I’m trying to get better so that I can possibly make myself a sweater… or as my fiance suggests, wool underwear for him.
    And blue ink is my favorite! I hate that in lab we are only allowed to write in black ink… sniff

  11. On May 11th, 2009 at 1:26 pm gorillabuns Says:

    I totally forgot what the question was but I’m going to say, I like drinking my evening cocktails and find that my best posts are written drunk.

    yep, i have no filter.

  12. On May 11th, 2009 at 12:26 pm swirl girl Says:

    Believe it or not – I didn’t like chocolate until I got married. I was always a grease and salt junkie. Nowadays, I mainline chocolate – but it clogs the little needles, so I have to eat it instead.

  13. On May 11th, 2009 at 12:32 pm S Says:

    I think she found out she liked Eggs Benedict or something.

    I didn’t like kids either. Always swore I’d never have them and then I imagined my parents with them and felt I couldn’t deny them that kind of joy. Turns out it was just what I needed to turn me from mega-bitch-of-the-universe to considerably-less-bitchy-bitch-of-the-universe. I never expected that one day I would be looking forward to a career of delivering them though (even though I am still not keen on other women’s va-jay-jays).

  14. On May 11th, 2009 at 12:37 pm lady lemon Says:

    NO! I’m an old woman! Actually, since you are 1 month older than me, oh sister to of soul, you can be the old woman. You’ve earned it.

    I would say *exactly* those two things. Blogging and gardening. Especially gardening. My mom loves it and I never understood her fascination with it. Until a couple of years ago I had never even attempted yard work of any sort. Now I am out there in the heat, tying up overgrown plants and checking every fruit for ripeness.

    So, ok, nevermind, YEAH, I am the old woman, afterall.

    Come visist my blog, I think it misses you.

  15. On May 11th, 2009 at 1:40 pm Lynanne Says:

    Gardening with a babe in the house? You go, girl! My poor yard is lucky if it is mowed every month or two. ๐Ÿ™‚

  16. On May 11th, 2009 at 1:44 pm deb Says:

    I never knew I liked broccoli, but now I adore it. I would eat it every night for dinner if possible. Oh wait, it is possible!

    And the thing I never thought I would be very good at, was also something I never thought I would like. But as it turns out, if it were an Olympic event, I would probably take home the gold. I like to refer to it as humming the bobo. I will not go into further detail because, seriously, do I need to? *ahem*

  17. On May 11th, 2009 at 1:47 pm Painted Maypole Says:

    book???? what???? huh????

  18. On May 11th, 2009 at 2:01 pm zelzee Says:

    I think I am turning completely around. I don’t have the enthusiasim I used to have years ago for so many things I albsolutely loved (yard work, sewing, art, writing).
    I hope I can get a fire lit under me again and get back in the swing of things!!

  19. On May 11th, 2009 at 2:16 pm kerrie Says:

    I have found that I’m very good at drinking…It’s taken YEARS of practice – trial and error. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m also very good at sitting on my ass and watching it getting fatter and fatter. But other than that – I’m a hell of an organizer. My husband thinks I should start an organizing business….

  20. On May 11th, 2009 at 2:51 pm Katie Says:

    A book??? EEEEEEEE!!!! Now I’m dying for the next post.

  21. On May 11th, 2009 at 3:57 pm Ginger Magnolia Says:

    I never thought I wanted to be a teacher. Since my mom is one, I pretty much put up a wall anytime anyone suggested it to me. I was NOT MY MOTHER!

    However, since being in the teaching program, I’m pretty sure it’s what I should be doing. So, I was wrong…but I’m still not my mother goddammit.

  22. On May 11th, 2009 at 4:14 pm Eva Says:

    Sometimes I run and I’m not even being chased!

  23. On May 11th, 2009 at 4:18 pm Petra a.k.a. The Wise (Young) Mommy Says:

    I never would have imagined myself as a massage therapist and that is what I went back to school for after I graduated from four years of college and decided I didn’t want to do anything I studied in school. I always thought I would be a writer, but it took me a long time to actually make that a reality.

    BTW, I liked Runaway Bride ๐Ÿ˜‰

  24. On May 11th, 2009 at 4:31 pm GingerB Says:

    Knitting! See, I was already so interesting, and so, I picked up knitting! And I am good at it – I make sweaters and toys and all kinds of things beyond hats, and I remember some coworkers/friends I had when I was 21 and I thought, whatever makes you ladies want to knit? Now it is my fantasy to knit, by myself, with a good movie and a glass of wine with some cheese and crusty bread, grapes and chocolate. Fuck, my perfect date night is with myself . . .

    I don’t know how you get better at drinking with babies around. I could no more waste that much energy and sleep quality from having more than one drink of anything right now than I could sprout wings and flly. The older I get the more alcohol disrupts my sleep. When I actually turn into my mother on this point, my sister has directions to kill me.

  25. On May 11th, 2009 at 5:35 pm Sarah Says:

    I prefer a stick shift as well. FWIW. I think most of my realizations have been more along the lines of WHAT? I was supposed to *love* doing this! And it suuuuucks. Oh well.

    I never NEVER thought I’d love cats. Had no use for them (that I’d admit to in mixed company) whatsoever. Now I have two crackpot kittens as substitute babies. WTH.

    Never EVER thought I’d be even kind of interested in the desert or living there. I miss a lot of things about more hospitably cool climates, (like SEASONS) but I genuinely find the desert to be beautiful. I love going out hiking on an 80 degree night with a full moon, or relatively cool morning. I see more wildlife here than I did hiking in the more urbanized foothills back home. The smells are cool.. the light is amazing.

    That having been said… despite having parents, grandparents and inlaws that always have a garden going, I was never into them UNTIL NOW. I really want a garden, but I really don’t want to have to work for it like you do here in the desert. I hope to move away from this gorgeous desert and live somewhere that doesn’t hold a grudge against edible plant life. I want my kids to have that again (we had one rabid zucchini plant and they were hooked!) for so many reasons. I may very well wear a big hat and some godforsaken crocs when and if that garden happens.

    For damn sure, I never thought I’d marry a city boy. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but God love him, (as do I!) I don’t know what the hell we were thinking. We’re both reverting back to our inner redneck/street thug as we get older and mostly we just look at each other cross-eyed when he’s around. *sigh* Ah, the irony that HE’s the trucker and I am the one trapped in suburban hell, having to go to the city all too often on HIS account. Yippee!

  26. On May 11th, 2009 at 5:59 pm Sarah Says:

    And.. randomly… don’t peonies sort of *have* to attract ants? Someone told me the ants eat away the outer layers so they can bloom, otherwise you’re screwed… or were they just screwing with me?

  27. On May 11th, 2009 at 5:15 pm fidget Says:

    i never thought Id have chickens and rue my lack of garden and feel like I need 80 acres of my own to keep me from stabbing other people

    In college i started gardening, I had one here for a short growing season and every year since I plan for one but it never seems to happen. I’m still hoping that next spring we will have a space, well that or 80 acres

  28. On May 11th, 2009 at 7:36 pm Mary Jo Says:

    “Iรขโ‚ฌโ„ขve always hated writing in blue ink”

    I’m sorry, we can no longer be friends. LOL
    I hate writing in BLACK ink, I prefer blue or purple or red or…

    Um, I’m not so much “good” at things. But when I moved out on my own I learned how much I like to cook. I really enjoy it… would I ever be a chef? Hells naw! I would hate to HAVE to cook, I think that would ruin it.

  29. On May 11th, 2009 at 8:37 pm mnsm31 Says:

    I always told people I didn’t like spicy food, it didn’t agree with my stomach, and for some reason now I do, and I found out that I love HORSERADISH sauce, strange, damn, you’re only gonna be 29?

  30. On May 11th, 2009 at 10:25 pm Jenn Says:

    Erm. I like less stuff now than I used to AND I suck at way more things than I ever could have imagined. So… yeah.

    Some of MY best memories are of being in greenhouses too! Because my mother was quite a bit like yours (but to a lesser degree, I’d imagine) I used to spend my summers with my grandparents (those people kept me sane… or as sane as possible, I guess, haha) and my grandfather had a greenhouse (and an oil business, kind of funny). I would sit out there for hours asking him about all of the plants. Good times. Oh and one of my first jobs was working in a nursery. I loved that job. Oddly enough I can’t grow a damn thing to save my soul.

  31. On May 12th, 2009 at 3:47 am Betty M Says:

    My peony is in bloom – it is gorgeous although it seems to be spreading itself out rather than being a bush.

  32. On May 12th, 2009 at 5:43 am SciFi Dad Says:

    Peonies? You’re getting little horses for your yard?

    Right now, I’m focused on having actual grass on my lawn.

  33. On May 12th, 2009 at 5:59 am SCY Says:

    You’re only 29 in a few months time??? That makes me feel OOOOLLLLLLDDDDD ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Holy Crap!!! A book deal??? That is my D.R.E.A.M!!!! You better spill soon!!!!!

  34. On May 12th, 2009 at 6:19 am mumma boo Says:

    Dude – the book! Dude! I was wondering where that went. I mean not like you’ve had anything else but gestating and worrying yourself sick over Cinnamon Girl to keep you busy or anything. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    I’d have to say blogging and knitting are the things that I thought I’d never do, and now can’t imagine NOT doing. As for gardening, I will gladly watch you do yours, and even fetch you diet Coke on command, but don’t ask me to assist in the actual gardening. Toiling endlessly in my parents’ vegetable patch while they went on vacation every summer was enough for me.

  35. On May 12th, 2009 at 7:34 am Nancy Says:

    I’m crazy about taking good photos, artsy photos, crazy photos, and just playing with them. Crazy about it, I tell ya! I don’t know if I’m any good at it, but I like how I feel when I look at a picture I took that’s unusual.

  36. On May 12th, 2009 at 7:40 am Badass Geek Says:

    Something I didn’t know I liked but now adore?


    Platonically, of course.

  37. On May 12th, 2009 at 8:43 am Betts Says:

    I like driving the tractor, but don’t tell my husband. I especially love yanking stuff out of the ground with it… like ugly bushes and small trees. The idea used to scare me, and I still won’t use it on the slightest of hills, except under duress, but I do like the power of it.

  38. On May 12th, 2009 at 11:45 am magpie Says:

    I love that you like to garden.

  39. On May 13th, 2009 at 11:21 am Lola Says:

    I never thought I’d have a little dog, and now one is passed out on my lap as I read blogs and try to come up with a post for my blog, which I still can’t believe I’m doing.

    Gardening? Now, that I’ve always loved, and I’m damn good at it. Gotta get out there as soon as I catch up on blogs and get the wee pup off my lap.

  40. On May 14th, 2009 at 8:20 am LAS Says:

    Rock climbing. I am totally hooked on it.

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