Saturday, July 28

Aunt Violet at 91 & Me at 77

I just finished reading my post on Aunt Violet when she was 88 and now she is 91. Where has the time gone? I feel I may have lost some of you who were following me but can only hope you will come back for I have a lot to say.

Where have I been to not post a word in so long? I have been busy dealing with life and stuff. I get distracted from what is important and go long periods without seeing the people who matter. My gardens have been neglected because of the heat and only the strongest plants have survived. Between the heat and the animals there is not much left. I plan to replant some things that will do well in the fall.

The state of the nation has caused me a lot of concern and I can't remember when my interest -bearing checking account made more than a few dollars. This led me down a road of self imployment with real estate investment as a means of earning the extra money I would need if I lived into my 80's (or maybe as long as Aunt Violet). I purchased a house, improved it and rented it. This would give me an income and investment of my dwindling funds.

With my investment house paid off I used the equity to purchase another house, improved it and, if things go right, will have sold it by this time next month. This time I saw a reasonable return on my investment and labor. The rental house is still occupied and when the second house closes I will pay off the small mortage and the first house will be free and clear once again.

So you see I have been very busy and many days too tired to write once the day was done. 
You may be asking yourself what a 77 year old garden writer is doing getting into the real estate flipping business. When I saw my net worth slipping by a third I was alarmed, as many of you have felt. Even at 77 I still have energy and ideas that could allow me to rebuild my savings. Even though I have never been a gambler this time I rolled the dice with all I had. I worked smarter with my projects as I acknowledged that my strength was not that of even a 60 year old. I hired work done I might have done myself a few years ago.

I also had help from my children who came to paint, lay wood floors and repair creaks and my nieghbor who cleaned the oven. More than anyone though my cousin Dennis, just two years from a heart transplant, and with his wife, was project manager with both houses. He still helps me keep the houses in good repair.

So, as I am still smarting from the sting of Obama's remarks, about business people didn't become successful by themselves, I think of all the businesses I have started and ran over the years.And with no help from the government, in fact in spite of the government and over-regulation.

Patrica Lanza, Custom Interiors, Eatontown, NJ
Lanza's Country Inn, Livingston Manor, NY
Shandelee Herb & Perennial Gardens, Shandelee, NY
The Potager, Wurtsboro, NY

At age 77 I am still self-employed with: 4 books I have authored, and writing for magazines, doing public speaking and appearances. Now I can add real estate owner & house flipper. I have no intention of not working but enjoy the challange.    

Tuesday, September 6

September in My Lake Garden

There is something about cool days that give you renewed energy to tackle the garden jobs you were putting off when it was too hot to work outside. After two days of rain the ground is soft and dark brown, making pulling weeds easy. I was so moved by the urge to tidy the garden that even after it started raining again I was reluctant to stop so I was quite soaked when I finally called it a day.

As I looked for dry clothes I went to the part of the closet that held long sleeved tees and long cotton pants. It felt good to be warm and dry and for the first time in a very hot summer I pulled on socks. I know this cool weather will not last and there is no reason for me to put away all the shorts and sleeveless tees I have worn all summer.

After taking down all the trash trees in my front gardens, some that were a danger to my house, light has been getting in to plantings that were in stress from low light. I have never seen such bloom as I had this spring and summer and many plants have grown so much they are pushing up against their neighbors. My new pruners brought home from GWA meeting in Indianapolis will come in handy.

Saturday, November 13


My very long absence from my blog is due to my over ambitious work schedule.

Monday, July 12

Crazy Days of Summer

It's been a big year and I'm taking advantage of a hot summer days to stay inside and get some writing work done. It's long overdue and I may have lost readers due to my inaction but you have to understand my life to know what motovates me.

The year began with our trip home from Sarasota, FL to Crossville, TN. A two day stop over in Atlanta and visit with my daughter, Debbie, made the trip last three and a half days.

With unpacking, from a winter in thrift store heaven, left undone, just loaded into the walk-in closet, I packed for a trip to Kansas City, MO where I gave a dozen lectures.

We traveled back home from KC and threw ourselves into the garden season with a huge project. Six years ago I had cardboarded and mulched the paths and parking areas and laid newspaper and mulch in the gardens. It was time to do it again as the weeds had begun to creep in. I gathered cardboard from the Dollar Store, and neighbors who had just moved in, and lots of mulch and began a project that may take all month.

Everything came to a stop in the garden as we got ready to travel to Mississippi for lectures to State Master Gardeners. I packed our bags for a three night stay and left hanging clothes on hangers to stay pressed. I left them on the stair railing as I placed bags in the car. After a seven hour drive we arrived in time for a fish fry and dancing and crashed in our room for cool air. As I unpacked I couldn't find the hanging clothes and could see them still hanging on the stair railing at home. We headed out to Walmart. After spending money for clothes we didn't need we go back to our room to rest up for the upcoming lectures. The drive home was seven hours.

Back at the lake house and as soon as we were rested it was back to work in the garden but not for long as we needed to make a trip to Monterey, TN and give a lecture to Senior Citizens in a town my father's people had come from originally. The ladies made fired apple pies and I ate too many.

I celebrated my 75th birthday with family in New York and New Jersey in late May. We drove with my brother Tom and his wife, Cheryl, and were gone two weeks. It was good to see everyone and party with the kids and grands. When we returned home it took days to rest and get back to work.

Back at the lake house the summer garden projects were harder to do as the heat was so bad and we didn't it want to be lethel. We got outside in the early morning and late afternoon. Slowly the gardens were put in shape with not a weed in site and perky annuals brighting the garden on a whole.

In my gardens, that bloom from early sping until winter, it takes more labor to keep them coming on. I prune, divide, feed, water and mulch for the entire year to keep them at their best. Dave's gardens, on the other hand, only require a good cleaning in the spring and some annual plantings to keep them looking good. He likes things small and does some pruning but will only move a plant if it grows out of the space he has alotted.

There's a lesson here but I forget what it is.

Thursday, March 25

The Long Trip Home

Every year about this time we begin the long trip home. We begin to close down the condo and pack our car. This time is a little different as we are renting the condo for a year and we have stuff to get out of the way and better cleaning to do. After all when a couple come in for a rental they want everything to be super clean and uncluttered. It's what I would want.

So, is it all worth it? We think it is; we get out of the bad weather, we get to see friends we only see in Florida and we do the beach, the pool and the golf course. We also do a lot of serious sitting. We sit in our wicker furniture watching TV or reading, we sit in the sun by the pool or we sit waiting for our food at our favorite dining spots.

To off set all the serious sitting we walk the trails at The Meadows, walk the Fresh Market and walk the thrift stores looking for old aprons. Don't laugh, those places are in old supermarkets and if you do the whole store you can walk a half a mile. Do all the thrift stores in one day and you will have walked two to five miles. Sarasota is the mother of all thrift stores and there are treasures out there.

Of course we can't take advantage of the treasure trove because we travel here in our mid-sized car with a small trunk so we just do old aprons for my collection. So far I have just under ninty with my goal being one hundred. I have a vision of all one hundred aprons hanging from a clothes line that goes around the room where I will give a lecture on My Grandmother's Aprons.

My first lectures on this subject were this winter in Kansas City, MO at the Johnson County Home and Garden Show and I had to show my aprons on a Power Point presentation. It was OK but I need to do a lot of work.

Saturday, March 13

Arm-Chair Gardening

Since late fall and all through the winter I have dreamed new additions to my gardens though stacks of catalogs. There were times when the stacks wobbled and threatened to fall over but I steadied them and continued adding more catalogs to the top. As the long days of winter allow lots of time for dreaming I dream of new garden spaces and refurbished old gardens. Thank goodness some things never change and seed and plant companies still send catalogs that gives the arm-chair gardener the time to dream.

Wednesday, March 10

Away From My Garden

It seems I don't have it just right; spring is coming and I am not home to see the hundreds of daffodiles push above the ground or tulips break the surface in the planter where they lie safe from foraging critters. I'm not there to watch buds begin to break on trees and shrubs or lavender begin to go from gray to green. I'm not there to pick up big leaves that will kill the new grass on the path leading to the lake or pick up fallen branches that litter the front path.

It's times like these that I wonder why I leave my home in Tennessee to travel to our condo in Florida for the winter. I didn't wonder at it so much when snow covered the ground and winds made you feel like it was 20 degrees colder. I didn't even wonder at it when it was too cold in Florida to swim in the pool or go to the beach. It's just now, when the sun is shining everywhere, that I begin to question the reason to be so far from the place I love.

I can see my house sitting tall on the side of Lake Canterbury, all gray cedar with white trim. I can see the boats swaying on the tie-downs and the water birds swimming by. I can see the neighbors walking the roadside and know they are checking to see if I am home yet. I can see the herbs and groundcovers that grow between the stepping stones beside the front walkway leading to the front door.

Then I remember my brother who has a Florida place just seven miles from my condo. I remember when he is in Springfield, Illinois in his home, and I in Tennessee in mine, how far away he seems. I remember when my sister-in-law cooks one of her delicious meals and we all sit at her table decorated with china and glassware adorned with flamingos and palm trees how much I have missed seeing them. And I remember our friends who come to Florida from Michigan, Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois, South Carolina and Washington State and that I wouldn't get to see them if we didn't come here also.

I know why we come to Florida. It's not just that we have a condo, or we are running from the cold but it's more about getting to our friends and family who also come for the winter. It's our other home.