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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

IF the dog hadn't STOPPED to SNEEZE . . . .

The anniversary of my father's death will be at the end of November, for he died on November 30, 1995; and indeed it is a fact you might recall, as I've referred to this event here on Blogger in prior posts, including one which you may refer to by clicking here. One of my father's favorite sayings was, "if the dog hadn't stopped to sneeze, he'd 've caught the rabbit!" The dog's itchy nose was the rabbit's fortune, as you probably can surmise; but, as you can also surmise, that has nothing to do with why my father reiterated this quote time and time again.

I confess I tend to be an "if only XX had happened, YY would be ok" type of person: playing scenarios that have come and gone, over and over in my mind, as if that would somehow change the outcome; but alas, there is no Edit/Undo or Ctrl/Z outside of life in cyber-space.

Most recently (this past Friday, November the 7th), I was caught up in what I had done wrong re plans I had made with my friend, Michael (pictured above). 

Michael is a longtime friend of mine who lives across the street —  a few doors west of me — and among other things, we share a love of gardening. Moreover, it was Michael who helped me prepare my urban (NYC) garden for a so-called renovation in September; and then again for Hurricane Sandy this past October. I've discussed both of these "scenarios" in previous entries here on Blogger, and you may refer to them by clicking here as well as here respectively.
So what has this got to do with a dog stopping to sneeze and not catching a rabbit on November 7th of 2012? 

As it happens, November 7th 2012 is the day I had arranged to take Michael to a nursery in Bayside, which is in the borough of Queens in New York City, and a relatively short trip on the Long Island Railroad out of Manhattan's Penn Station.

It is a nursery which I've frequented in bygone years (I've not been there since 2006) and Michael has admired things I grow in my garden that are from the nursery in Bayside; such as my ornamental grasses known as Ophipogon planiscapus (Black Mondo Grass), a plant that I have in triplets and have featured in a number of posts here on Blogger, as you might recall from the photo-op below.

Another "thing" in my garden from the nursery in Bayside is my Paeonia suffruiticosa (Tree Peony), which has also been featured a number of times in "stories" on Blogger, and  is a shrub that you may recognize from its awesome flowers, as evident in the photo-op below.

Still more "things" that live in my garden from the aforementioned nursery include my Avellana corylus AKA Contorted Hazelnut (which "served" as my 2011 Christmas tree) and my Farfugium japonicum ('Cristata'), pictured below respectively.

Moreover, both of these unusual "things" have been featured here on Blogger, and you may refer to entries about either of them by clicking here and here respectively.

Everything I grow has been admired by Michael, therefore, I truly wanted to treat him to a field trip to the nursery in Bayside! My initial intent was to purchase the tickets in advance so that Michael would not know the cost involved, but I had difficulty doing it on-line, so I thought I'd go to the station before our intended day of travel, get the tickets in advance, and therefore be able to meet Michael in front of the building where I live since our apartments are so close. To make a long story longer (another favorite saying of my father's), I was unable to go to Penn Station in advance, because the nor'easter which hit New York City —  only ten days after the hurricane — resulted in a shut down of transportation, including subways and buses to Penn Station (which was forced to be open on an extremely limited basis since no trains were running re the flooding of tracks from the storms)!

This meant I would need to go to Penn Station to get the tickets early in the morning of the day Michael and I wanted to travel, if I were to stick with my plan and not let him "see" the cost involved (which was nominal but since I don't have a steady income, he would've wanted to pay and I wanted to treat him to a field trip as a token of my appreciation for all the work he helped me do to prepare my garden for both a natural and unnatural disaster) and still meet him in front of my apartment. I ultimately decided to meet him at the station on the pretense that I had morning errands to do; and so we decided on a location near a specific board which posts the tracks of trains leaving the station. I was able to get the tickets and wait for him, but, as fate would have it, I was waiting under a board on one level of the station whilst he waited under a board on another level!

And, because I'm still living in the dark ages, I don't have a working cell phone which frustrates folks who want to meet me, but be that as it may, I don't have a cell; he was waiting one place (with a heavy shopping cart); whist I was waiting at another; and the 12:17 pulled away and headed east without us! And I began my inner litany of why didn't I get the tickets earlier that morning and come home to meet him as I had initially planned? Why didn't I suggest we meet outside the station at a more likely spot to notice each other? Why didn't I borrow Victor's cell? Why am I always so stupid? Why? Why? Why?

Granted there are much much bigger mishaps in life (and I've survived a number of them); but, I truly wanted to make the day special for Michael, and my inability to do so brought back all the times I could not do things for others as I would like to have done; including "getting" my father to "come back to my mother," which was a request bestowed on me as a young child when he left our family to ultimately marry his secretary! 

But indeed, this past Friday, there was no longer a rabbit or a train to catch as I stood in Penn Station at a pay phone hoping his partner could reach him so that we could take another train. After all, the weather was finally perfect, and trains were scheduled every hour! The upshot is we did not connect that day, but thankfully he was willing to reschedule, and yesterday we took our trip to the nursery in Bayside in the pouring rain, without once saying, "if we had connected properly the first time, we would have had better weather . . . "

Michael throughly enjoyed the nursery, which made me feel good as I truly wanted to give him an experience he would enjoy! The nursery has always been amazing, but it is late in the season and the workers were beginning to construct cold-frames in preparation for winter, as evidenced by the photo-op below:

Cold-frames are structures I used in my garden in bygone years, which is a fact that you might recall from prior posts here on Blogger, including one you may refer to by clicking here.

Moreover, since winter is once again upon us, if you have a garden that needs cold-frames, please refer to a guest posting which I wrote on the subject last year for Fern Richardson's Life on the Balcony.

In any event, as for my day at the nursery with Michael whilst the workmen built the frames in the rain, Michael and I "enjoyed" the rain too as we looked at the nursery's unusual trees, shrubs and vines! I took a few pix of some that might work in my garden one day (when I'm in better circumstances) which you may view below.

Meanwhile, Michael found a selection to plant in the garden he maintains in our parish's courtyard, and his "findings" posed for me on "their" wagon as seen below.

Moreover, Michael treated me to a 'Big Blue' AKA Lirope muscari, which still had some "black berries" on it as seen below.

As I've stated, I had not been to this nursery — or Bayside — since 2006 and I was thankful to see it was still thriving. Moreover, I was especially grateful that my dear friend enjoyed himself and that I may have finally caught the rabbit. 

How about you, dear reader? Do you ever suffer from the woulda-coulda-shoulda syndrome? 


  1. I definitely suffer from the same syndrome, and my favorite scapegoat is myself. I try to give myself a break now and again, but such a strong habit doesn't go away easily.

    My own father also passed away in November, too (though in 2006). Nov 7th, as a matter of fact. He didn't have the same sort of favorite sayings as your father, but his speech and language certainly looms large in my memories of him. I don't know if you've seen it, but here's what I wrote about him at this time last year:

    I wish I could suggest good nurseries in the northern suburbs that you could reach from Metro North, but I don't know which ones are good!

  2. Thanks for your heartfelt comments, Leonore. You are right about the "syndrome" being a "hard habit to break." In fact, I'm beginning to believe that it may be impossible to break the habit, as it seems to be part of my nature )-;

    BUT, perhaps, if I work at it, the emotional pain will be less.

    As for your post about your father, I did read it (last year) and was quite moved by it, but at the time I was so intimidated by your great writing, as well as your blog following, that I did not comment on your piece. Also I remember that the picture of you dancing with your father made me cry! I never had an opportunity to dance with my father but I aways wanted to, but, alas he told me that he "could care less about dancing with me" — and the reason was not because he did not like to dance! He was a great dancer and when he was married to my mother they belonged to a dancing club where folks oohed and ahed at their fancy footwork!

    But now, I enjoyed re-reading you post again, and this time the image of your dad with Macoco stood out as I always have birds on my brain re the ones who visit my garden!

    Thanks too for your willingness to suggest a nursery. The one I went to in Bayside is very good; but carrying certain "things" (such as a Contorted Hazel Nut and a Tree peony) from there on the LIRR to Penn Station and then lugging them on the C Train is not too much fun! But they are both such lovely shrubs that they were worth the effort to say the least.

    Whenever you are in the city I hope you will look me up and visit my garden!


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