Browsing Archives for May 2010

Delphinium Delirium

May 19th, 2010

This would be the problem with working in a garden center.

The sack full of plants that tend to follow you home.



Every year I find a new favorite.




This year I am all about the delphiniums.




It makes me think of wedding cakes.

And wedding dresses.

And other wedding…



Delphinium is in the Buttercup Family.



This is who I think of whenever I hear the words ‘buttercup’.




The scientific name?

Why  Ranunculacea of course!  

Which I guess means dolphin?

Because of the shape of the opening of the flower?

I think someone was smoking a funny flower when they saw a dolphin in a delphinium!




The common name is


Or Lark’s Heel, Lark’s Claw and Knight’s Spur.

Which of course makes me think of the Dread Pirate Roberts.
Even though he wasn’t a knight.
He was kind of a knight.



Larkspur also makes me think of some of my Nancy Drew books.

Please note that both versions of the same book feature a frightened elderly woman,a wheel chair, an imposing white mansion, a wire fence,

Nancy (of course)

And an abundance of Larkspur.  

I don’t remember the story line in this book, but I have a bad feeling about the man with the raised fist.




I got all the delphiniums in the sack planted.  The trouble is – they look like they have just been planted.

So I will wait until they spruce up a bit.

Fill out



It’s nice to think that there’s one photography subject that actually looks better when it’s plumped out.

The delphiniums above were photographed at the Garden Center.

They don’t look this good at my house…

They still need to put on a few pounds.

Delphinium Delirium

May 18th, 2010

A post on delphiniums is up at Farmhouse and Garden.

I know – I know – it’s hard to control the excitement.


I don’t know if anyone has realized this other than me – but the past few months have been something of a doozy for me. In fact , you could compare this past year to a tumultuous ride on a spine covered zephyr, flying into a crashing storm while throngs of angry bystanders hurl clumps of cold wet pasta into my face.

It’s been a little rough.

The downward spiral really did begin with my visit to PW’s ranch. I hate to point to that trip as the scapegoat for the beginning of the end of me – but it was the beginning of the end of me – so we might as well face it together.  Purely in the interest of self interest, I thought it might be uh…  interesting in a purely selfish way to examine my grisly remains.  So i give you the decroded flesh of one Rechelle, the blogger.  Let’s see what the bones can tell us.


Finding My Viscera Part I – The Pertinent events That Preceded my Visit to PW”s lodge!

PW and I had been e-mailing each other for about a year prior to my visit to her ranch. I bought an ad on her site.  A few months later I wrote a post bemoaning the fact that I never won any of her contests and out of the blue she e-mailed me and offered me a deep deep discount on a second ad on her site.  I snapped that deal up and tried to think of a good thank you gift for her generosity.

At that point on her website PW frequently wrote of her new found love of horses, especially a horse named LB.  She mentioned how as a child she never understood the girls with the horse lunch boxes, horse notebooks, horse trapper keepers and horse t-shirts.  But now suddenly at the age of 39, she did.  So I sat down at a custom t-shirt shop and made Ree her very own horse t-shirt featuring her beloved LB.  Ree e-mailed me to thank me for the shirt but said that her daughter had stolen it from her.  You can see Alex wearing the shirt in this post.

A few months later she put a link up to my site on her sidebar and for this valuable piece of real estate, I ground my brain into ashes trying to think of a way to thank her again.  I finally decided on four custom designed coffee cups with photos of the ranch dogs. I also included a necklace with her four children’s names hammered into it.

You can see her wearing the necklace in several photos on her site. She used one of the coffee cups here. She was very appreciative of these little gifts and I was very happy to send them to her.

After I sent off these gifts, I began to hear from her every once in a while through e-mail.  She always initiated the e-mail conversations and like a labrador retriever slobbering all over itself, I eagerly, promptly and with as much ingratiating wit as I could muster, responded to her.  She told me at one point that she read my blog. I had already begun to wonder if she was reading it for one main reason.  Our words started to match up.  One time I used the phrase ‘gesticulating wildly’ in a post and A few days later PW used the phrase ‘gestating wildly‘.  Now I don’t really know how one ‘gestates wildly’ – but I do understand how to gesticulate wildly.  Still – her word choice made me wonder if she was reading my blog.  This word thing continued.  I would use a somewhat unusual word like obsequious or perfidy or querulous and in a few days the word would show up in one of her posts.  I especially noted the frequency that the words from my now defunct ‘word o’ whenever’ would show up in her ‘word nerd’ quizzes.  At first I thought I was crazy – but it happened enough that I became quite sure that I in fact was crazy – and also that PW was reading my blog.  I mean c’mon!  The dictionary is a pretty BIG BOOK!  How many times can my unusual word choices show up in her posts and word quizzes before I can say she is reading my blog?  I am a word person – I notice this kind of stuff.


Finding My Viscera Part II – The Visit to the Lodge…

So the beginning of my descent into the chasm of endless pain and misery began with a visit to PW’s ranch.  I still don’t really understand why that trip made me so miserable.  I suppose it was a lot of little things that all combined to make me question this thing called blogging and how I felt that it could be very false and often it made me very false.  You can say all sorts of horrible things about me that would be very true – but I am an honest person.  I value authenticity more than anything.  My blog was frequently at odds with my desire for the authentic.  Why?  Because I took my cues from the ‘Queen of Keepin’ it Real’!

To start off  - the directions that she gave us to her ranch were extremely vague.  She didn’t include a phone number to call in case we got lost.  I chalked this up to ‘famous blogger paranoia’ and decided that I probably was far too unworthy to have access to P-Dub’s cell phone.  The CD and I eventually found the lodge using a mixture of ESP, gestalt and by stopping the car every three or four miles and throwing handfuls of dirt into the wind in a effort to let the sky spirit guide us.  What makes this lack of direction even more pathetic is that – PW’s ranch is exactly 200 miles south of me.  I could have gotten on HWY 99 and ended up at her back door in four hours.
View Larger Map

Yet with all the wrong turns we took, it took us six hours to get there.  I tried to call my sister a few times to get directions, but she had left her phone at home.  We finally arrived much later than we had estimated and after stumbling in the door and telling everyone that all my kids were covered in head lice, Ree asked me if I had a baby.

I didn’t have a baby.

I hadn’t had a baby in seven years!

Did I look like I had just had a baby?

Was I all milky?

and puffy?

and pale?

Why would she ask me if I just had a baby?

That really confused me because I was sure she was reading my blog.

Why would she ask me if I had a baby if she was reading my blog?

There was not a baby on my blog!

Here are my theories…

1.  She wasn’t reading my blog and I was milky, pale and puffy.

2.  She was completely cracked out on cocaine.

3.  She was conducting a psychological experiment.

4.  She was messing with me.

5.  She was sending a message.

6.  She was jest joshin’ me.

7. This was not the real Ree Drummond.

8. This was a FAKE Ree Drummond!

9. Was that a fake Ladd Drummond too?

10. How come she thought I had a baby?

It really made me wonder what was going on.  After eating some lasagna, the womenfolk sat in the kitchen and talked homeschooling while the menfolk gathered round the TV.  I feigned interest in the conversation, but as I am not a homeschooler nor have I ever been one – relying entirely on professionally trained individuals at the local free public schools to give my children a sound education I kind of wondered what I was doing in this group.  I knew all the people assembled (my sister because she is my sister, Jenni because I had been reading her blog for years and of course Ree.) yet Ree knew very little about us which was also a little strange as our entire lives were easily accessible ON OUR BLOGS!  I don’t think she needed to read every post – but brushing up on the basics about her weekend guests would have been an obvious choice for most bloggers who were hosting other bloggers.  She was willing to admit that she knew that my husband was a doctor and that we had only male children, but she was fuzzy on the number of kids I had and claimed to think that one of them was a baby.  We of course, knew everything about Ree.  I guess I had this crazy idea in my head that we were going to meet as equals. Four Midwest bloggers – one of them very famous – but still –  all of us sharing the same viral internet addiction.  And yet it slowly became clear to me that it was actually going to be a very different weekend.  One in which three of us venerated the fourth.

We sat around and drank wine and venerated the fourth.

We rode horses and venerated the fourth.

We ate dinner and venerated the fourth.

I kind of have a hard time venerating the fourth.  I am not prone to veneration.  Veneration is not in my nature –  unless maybe it is David Sedaris or… well let’s just stick with David Sedaris.  I am much more likely to point out reasons why the veneration is ludicrous and to poke holes in the theories behind the veneration.

In order to try and bring things back down to earth I got my sister to tell the ‘fuckus story’ which is an absolutely hilarious tale involving a non-native English speaker with a thick accent mis-pronouncing the word ‘focus’.  In meetings, this non-native English speaking man would try to get the group to come together and move forward by saying….

“We just need to fuckus everyone!”

“Please!  Everyone!  If we could just fuckus!”

“Fuckus people.  Please fuckus!”

But no one was able to focus.

Because a man in the room kept saying ‘fuckus’ over and over again.

After April finished the story, Ree said ‘fuckus’ a few times.

Everyone grew silent.

Did Pioneer Woman seriously just say FUCKUS?!?

What was she going to do next?

Light up a JOINT?

We all held our breaths!

We were about to find out who this Ree Drummond person really was!

And then she said…

She said…


“Help Me Rhonda”

She actually said, “Help Me Rhonda.”

Just like Pioneer Woman always says!

Except that we all knew that Pioneer Woman was just a character!

And no one really says, “Help me Rhonda.”

Because that is just stupid!

But she said it.

She really did.

It felt like product placement.

Were we being secretly filmed?

Where were the hidden cameras?

The microphones?

Was any of this real?

Almost immediately I understood that we were probably not going to meet the real Ree Drummond.  We were only going to meet Pioneer Woman.  It was like meeting a politician.  We were only allowed to see things that matched up with her persona.  Once I realized that this was not a visit to deepen an existing relationship or to establish a new friendship – I started to feel like I was being used.  My job was to go home and write glowing reports on the incredible awesomeness of Pioneer Woman. I felt like a pawn in the PW game of internet chess.  Her quest to rule the world wide web involved using people like me to spread the gospel of P-dub, to counter the negativity and to override anyone who dared to paint a picture that was not the image PW was trying to create.  All it cost her was a steak dinner and an infestation of head lice.  It cost me a lot more.

A lot more.

Because I had to agree to participate in it.

And guess what.

I did.

The next day we poked some cows and then went back to the lodge for the worlds tiniest breakfast.  Ree scrambled six eggs (for eight adults) and I fried two packages of bacon.  We divided the small mass of scrambled eggs into eight tiny piles and arm wrassled each other for a spoonful.  We ate the bacon and wondered how long til lunch? Ree left (probably  to go home and eat a big bowl of cereal) and she came back in a little while with a huge video camera.  She turned it on us and started asking us about our political views.

Suddenly the visit changed from a celebrity veneration weekend to a surprise audition weekend. I felt very uncomfortable talking politics on camera with Ree Drummond.  I had no idea what she was going to do with the film and I didn’t want to say something that would cause me to lose readers because back then – blogging was a numbers game for me.  So I didn’t say much.  Everyone else clammed up too.  No one was particularly interested in being filmed talking about politics at PW’s lodge.

Ree tried to draw us out.  She brought up Sarah Palin.  At the time Sarah Palin was new to the presidential race and I was interested in her simply because she was a female politician.  I didn’t know much about her and felt that the image that the press was building by using unflattering sound bytes was somewhat manipulative.  I didn’t think it was fair to label her as ‘stupid’ as there are lots of politicians who are not exactly Rhodes scholars.  So for me – the jury on Sarah Palin was still out.  I said that I felt the press was manipulating her image.  These days I regard Palin as a complete idiot – but back then I was undecided.

Ree went on to ask us what we thought about ‘Momversations’.  I said that I thought they were awful.  Who cares about the opinions of Heather Armstrong and her chummy internet clique?   My brain turned to lead whenever I watched them.  But then I hesitated and admitted that I felt differently when I watched Heather speak. I remember saying something like,” I think ‘Dooce’ is a very hard  blog to read.  She is so angry.  I don’t get all that anger.  But whenever I hear Heather speak, I find her very appealing. She seems very real to me.  I think I would like her if I knew her….”

These days – I totally get Heather’s anger.


After that – I don’t remember saying much at all.

Besides – my ‘fuckus’ for the weekend was to find a connection – a visceral connection with Ree Drummond.  I had great hopes that we would become real friends and not just vague internet friends.  I kept trying to find a latching mechanism that would connect me to this famous blogger.  Something that would make me feel like I belonged in her rarefied world of blogging awards, best selling cookbooks and interviews on The View.

But there was nothing there.

We did not click.

We did not mesh.

We did not find each other’s viscera.

I kept attempting to draw out the person that lives inside of the Pioneer Woman.

The wizard behind the curtain.

I kept searching for the ‘real Ree Drummond.”

And I think I saw her peek out a few times.

At one point she mentioned a post that she wanted to write about Annie Leibovitz.  She had a photography book of Annie’s that she wanted to feature but felt unsure about how her readers would respond as the book featured photos of death and nudity.  And then there is the whole issue of the relationship between Annie and Susan Sontag which might not sit well the Christian homeschooling crowd.  We all encouraged Ree to write the post.  She did.  But I think it is telling when a blogger hesitates to write about a book.  A book!  A BOOK!  For Chrissakes Ree!  That is really messed up!

At dinner on the last night, I said, “And then there was this one time when I said that Pioneer Woman didn’t exist.

I was referring to one of several thinly veiled criticisms I had written about PW’s blog over time.  Even though Ree pretended to think that I had a baby, I knew that she read my blog.  I knew it.  And I felt bad about some of the things that I had written about her and wanted to clear the air.  Ree and Ladd just looked at me. The same way that I had looked at Ree when she said, “Help me Rhonda.”  I was just trying to move this last evening’s conversation towards something a little more interesting.  Something designed to break down the facade that we were all so gallantly holding up.  But the Drummonds did not want to go there.  Sensing their displeasure, I backed down.

“Well – I never thought for a minute that you would read my blog!”  I said.  ”Who thinks that the Pioneer Woman is going to actually READ their blog!”

And then to further bury my thorny contention under a pile of deep dark bullshit I said, “It’s a bit like Angelina Jolie reading your blog! It’s not something you ever think is going to happen!”

Ree was very happy to be compared to Angelina Jolie and she nodded and smiled and said something like  - “Well… if you are going to compare me to Angelina Jolie..!”  Ladd remained coiled.  I decided to stay away from him for the rest of the night.

The next morning when I left the lodge I heard the door to the internet slam behind me.

I was never going to attain the lofty heights of the PW blog.

I was not even going to reach the foot hills.

No matter how hard I worked, how diligently I posted or how funny I could write – my little blog was never going to rise out of obscurity.

I lacked the finances, the time, the desire to photoshop my life to glossy perfection and the ability to portray myself as a balloon headed caricature that smelled of money.  I was also uncomfortable with manipulating my audience with reasons to come back again later in the day… and then again and again and again.  And I also couldn’t write my own comments to set a positive tone and to make my blog appear more populated than it actually was.  Not that PW EVER DOES THAT!

She is far too busy keepin’ it real.