Black Pussy Willow

I finally made it back to the nursery today and got the pussy willow with the black catkins. They're all gone now (the catkins, that is), but I saw some faded ones on the plant when I was there earlier in the week, they're pretty cool.

I marked a spot down by the jungle gym for the plant. While I was scoping out a suitable location, I noticed there was some sort of hardwood tree growing back behind a few young cedars. I've asked T to chop down one of the cedars to give the hardwood a chance. It might be some sort of dogwood, I'm not sure.


  Am I Ageist?

I find myself having more empathy for the "older" contestants on American Idol than I do for the teenagers. Older is relative, of course, I think the "older" group was still born in the 1990s, maybe a few were born in the late '80s.

I did vote for some of the teenagers tonight, but I can't help but feeling bad for the contestants who are in their 20s. I find myself voting for them, even though I might not like them overly much.

It just seems to me that I want to cut the older contestants a little more slack than the youngsters. I find myself thinking, "who are these teenagers who are living out their dream at such a young age?". It doesn't seem fair, it seems the older ones had a much harder slog to get to the same position.

Plus, I wonder if it isn't perhaps a little beneficial for teenagers to have their dreams crushed when they are young? It's not that I think if they don't win they will give up singing, in fact, I think it's the opposite. I can imagine a 27-year old with kids who loses being resigned to the idea that she gave her dream her best shot, and it didn't work out, and she'll go back to her old life and responsibilities. I figure the teenagers are more likely to lack the perspective to realize what a big deal it is to lose and to shrug it off and continue merrily on their path to becoming singers. Without fully realizing what a HUGE boost they got just from being on the show. Not that they are not realizing anything on purpose, it's just the nature of being a teenager. So I don't feel so bad not voting for them.

So am I biased in favor of older people? Am I prejudiced against the young? Not that it's of major consequence in this instance, the show doesn't ask you to justify your vote, just pick your favorites. And I don't vote for people just because they're older, I also have to like them. It's just that I think I'm more apt to like them because I have more empathy for them.

I also wonder if I would have the same perspective if I was the mother of a teenager myself. Would I still feel more empathy for the older competitors, or would I think that the teenagers deserve an equal chance, it's not their fault that they happen to be young when their talent is recognized? Hard to say.


  Presents Ordered

Until last night, we still had an unused gift certificate to Toys R Us from W's grandparents from Christmas. They got him so many presents when we went down to visit at Thanksgiving (which we figured would count for Christmas, so were surprised at the extra gift), plus all the other presents W got for Christmas, that we really couldn't think of any more toys to get him at the time.

But T suggested that W really liked playing with the wooden blocks at the center where he takes his music class, so I ordered some wooden blocks. I figured I might as well use up the whole gift card at once (lest I forget about it and lose it before I get around to ordering from it again) so I also ordered an alphabet puzzle and a miniature basketball hoop. I'll present them all as birthday presents from his grandparents, I guess. If they send another gift card for his birthday, maybe I'll save it for Christmas and just do the same thing so W can open actual presents from them; I don't think he understands gift cards yet.

I am really eager to get the toy storage situation under control in the house. It will require 18" deep shelves in the playroom, and T has expressed an interest in building them. However, he is obsessed with getting an unfathomable number of trees and shrubs planted before mid-April, and I don't think he will agree to prioritize the shelves, since they are not weather-dependent. So the toy explosion will continue, unrestrained. At least there is a chance I can prevail upon him to get it done before b2 arrives.


  Fourteen More Trees & Bushes Planted

T went out this morning and got a bunch of trees and bushes for his orchard, and planted them this afternoon. Before he left, I was out in the garden and around the pond, measuring the areas that need to be planted. It's a daunting total.

But I made progress on the ornamental plants today. On the way to my midwives, I visited two nurseries to get some idea of what they've got in stock and figure out if I want any of their stuff for "specimen" plantings.

After my appointment, I went up to Lowe's to see what they had there. Whoa-- way more than the Lowe's in Waynesboro did when I visited there earlier this month! I came back with five trees. There is one unusual tree I want from one of the nurseries, but they were closed by the time I was on my way past there going home, so I'll get it tomorrow or later.

I put a silver maple at the far end of Maple Shade Park. Now we will get shade from two different maple trees-- the red maple in the morning, and the silver maple in the afternoon. More accurately, in a few years there will be shade from that tree, but it's a start.

I put a dwarf magnolia between the lilac trees below the upper orchard, and we determined there is no more room for trees in that row, lest we start to crowd out the fruit trees in the orchard.

I put an interesting variety of crepe myrtle about 2/3 of the way over on the far side of the amphitheater, it will be behind the wildflowers once they are planted.

A large crabapple tree is now on the opposite side of the amphitheater, but a little bit further away. It will actually serve more to mark the entry to the formal pathway gardens we'll build as a shortcut from the house to the bottom of the driveway (we will develop that area in the future, not this spring). That tree will get large, so it should be visible from the front porch when it's grown. It will be visible from our bedroom window right away, which is the vantage point from which I make a lot of the large-scale decorating decisions.

The fifth tree I got is a traditional southern magnolia. It'll grow to 70', so it's definitely not going to go near the house (I am paranoid about a tree falling on the house with the harsh winds we get here, plus I can't be bothered to clean the gutters so we make sure no tall trees are close enough to get their leaves on the roof). I am leaning toward a spot about halfway down the driveway where I was at first going to put a sculpture garden, but it's now the de-facto truck entrance to the pond. I will have to measure to see if there is enough room for a giant magnolia there. If not, I might have to persuade T to chop down some of the pine trees to make room for it. I can already hear his argument that with 23 acres, surely I can find a 40' diameter spot that is already cleared, but I am not sure I can find a suitable spot that is already the perfect size. I think we want to keep most of the landscaping to the non-pasture areas if possible. The more pasture we eliminate, the greater the risk of incurring the wrath of the rural land-use inspectors. But since we are prohibited from clearing our "critical slope" land for pasture, they can't say boo if we plant ornamental trees there. I'm pretty sure they in fact encourage planting on these slopes to prevent erosion and drain-field issues.


  On a Two Week Schedule Now

I had another appointment with the midwives today, and to my surprise I am now on a two-week appointment schedule (versus the four-week schedule I've had for a long time). I guess that snuck up on me, it must mean that I'm going to have a baby sometime soon. Yikes!

Although I must admit that I am starting to lose some of that preganancy-jubilation thing I've been enjoying since last September. I'm starting to move noticeably more slowly and ponderously, and both look and feel like a weird blond female sumo wrestler. I am mentally ready to lose the baby weight right now, but physically I don't have much choice but to carry it another two months, do I?

When I start to feel down, I just imagine how nice it will be to have TWO adorable little boys running around the farm. I don't know how I'll be able to stand the cuteness. W is so cute I can barely contain myself, I'm always grabbing him and cuddling him and kissing him. And soon I'll get to live with DOUBLE the cuteness? Sure, I'll be tired. And yes, there is a lot of work involved with caring for children. But before I had W I never imagined just how much cuteness is involved. It really does take the edge off all the extra work. It's such a good alternative to boredom.

T and I have had many conversations about how much more difficult our lives our since having W, but how we both prefer the current situation to the alternative-- if we had not been able to have any children. Sure, our lives would be quite easy, but with that came a certain dullness and boredom, too. I'm rarely bored anymore. I'm too busy trying to keep a toddler amused, and the family fed, and the laundry clean. Plus whatever else Terry the Taskmaster is riding me to get done. And when I'm done with all that, I'm too tired to be bored. We definitely wouldn't mind a brief reprieve every now and then, it would be nice to have a weekend to ourselves from time-to-time, but overall, we'd rather have a harder life full of love and cuteness than an easier life full of boredom and meaningless amusements.

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