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Spring sprung without me


I know I haven't been around much but a series of events have lead me to neglect my gardening blog. First I'd like to thank everyone who has commented since I last made an update. I'd also like to sincerely thank everyone who has expressed concern over my well-being and has made an attempt to contact me through e-mail. I'll try to respond to each e-mail personally but if I don't get around to it I just want you to know that I've seen the e-mail and appreciate sentiment behind it and I'm doing good.

I'm not dead just dormant.

For a while I wasn't able to access my blog and e-mail account because I couldn't remember the password and then my computer just kind stopped working. Without being able to take pictures, edit them and upload 'em to this gardening blog my heart wasn't in it. Then I had a puppy for a while and dealing with the puppy became too much...

The "C" word that isn't composting.

The biggest reason that I've been away is because my mother has been battling a brain tumor for the past 13 months. About 9 months ago my mother had surgery to remove a tumor from the left side of her brain. I haven't really talked about it much with people in real life and made no mention of it on this blog mostly because after the surgery things looked great for her.

After the tumor was removed she recovered quickly and was up and it looked like she had beaten it and life was going to return to normal for everyone. Then things sorta got bad in January- worse than they had been before or after the surgery. Over the past few months she started to slur her words, forget names and lose mobility on the right side of her body. It was a clear sign that the tumor had returned and the radiation treatment hadn't had the desired effect.

Last year when the tulips bloomed I cut a few and put them in a vase for her and when I presented them to her she admitted to standing out in the garden earlier and wanting to take some but thinking twice of it because I would be upset. This April I cut lots of them, still feeling a bit of guilt over keeping the blooms mostly for myself last year, and brought them in. There was a clump of pink tulips that I begged to fight the warm temperatures (so I could cut them for Mother's Day) that thankfully seemed to understand their purpose. They were beautiful, large and looked better than all the store bought flowers I saw that day, if I do say so myself.

She's now entering her second week of chemotherapy and surprising me with the inner strength and dignity she's exhibited throughout this whole battle. She can't say much but sometimes a smile comes over her or she raises her eyebrows at the sight of a flower I show her. I feel a lot of guilt over neglecting my indoor plants while helping with my mother- not for the plants because they can be replace- but because she always appreciates a nice plant or bloom no matter how strange my plant is.

California dreaming.

I was born in California but raised in Chicago from an early age and still have a lot of family there. Some family members have made the trek to Chicago to take advantage of our warming temperatures and spend time here since it isn't blistering cold. Unfortunately they've brought their California gardening practices with them and their opinions. I've already got a "gardening coach" of my own, thank you very much! Plant after plant has fallen victim to my over-watering grandmother. You'd think someone who supposedly has such bad arthritis that she can't cook or scrub a pan would have trouble pouring glasses of water daily on my cacti & succulents but nooooooooo.

I have an uncle who took it upon himself to help me in the garden by dividing my black iris clump-at the end of February. Fortunately the rhizomes have survived and oddly enough seem to be thriving and each one is sending up a flower stalk. The dividing of plants and the weeding has done minimal damage but caused me a few near heart attacks when I saw him out in the garden with a shovel. It's funny how dandelions seem to escape his grasp when he's weeding but perennials and seedlings that I'm purposefully growing seem to get the brunt of the garden trowel.

Promises, promises.

Now that I've made the connection between the therapeutic quality of plants and flowers and my mother's daily battle I'm bound to be more interested in actually gardening and taking photos out in the garden again. I'll try to update more often- I've even got a few new pictures I'd like to share so I should be around more.

Enough about me.

Feel free to let me know what's going on in your world if you come across this and share what's new in your garden or gardening blog. I haven't keep up with the garden blog world the past four months and I feel like a kid in a new school. Links are welcomed.

Again, thanks for the e-mails and I'm sorry I couldn't respond sooner.



  1. Welcome back MBT. It's wonderful to hear from you again, although now I feel just a tiny bit selfish for wishing you were back here posting all this time ;-) I'm glad to hear that your mother is doing better--I can't imagine what the past few months must have been like for you.

    You're in perfect form already--you had me tearing up when you wrote about gathering tulips for your mom, and smiling when you wrote about your family helping in the garden. Gotta love those grandmothers who kill with kindness--I have one of those myself :-)

    Glad you're back. You were (obviously) missed around here!

  2. Welcome back. I was wondering what had happened you you. I missed reading you.

  3. Welcome back! Perhaps you should hide your cacti while your family are visiting, and put out some watercress for them to handle?

    I'm really glad your mother is recovering. Send her my wellwishes.

  4. MBT - I wish I could hug you! I really missed your blog. Welcome back. I had a feeling you were going through some seriously bad stuff to have not been around for so long. I'm sorry to hear about your mom's illness and I'll be sending you guys positive thoughts. We support you, MBT!

  5. Welcome back. I am sorry to hear about all the things going on in your life and hope your mom continues to improve. All the best to her and you.
    I really missed reading your blog. Glad that you are back.

  6. It's great to have you back! Very understandable that you've been away, sometimes I don't feel like blogging for NO good reason. :) But hey, this is supposed to be enjoyable, not an obligation. Prayers are going out for your mom, and well-wishes for your poor garden too! I would positively freak out if my relatives started "fixing" my garden...yikes!

  7. My goodness. We proceed with our gardening blogs as though everything is "right with the world." And it's not.

    I'm sorry to hear that your mother has had such huge health struggles. She is blessed that you are willing and able to offer such thoughtful, loving care. It is also wonderful (and I know you know this) that your family has trekked such a distance to be nearby.

    May your mother be on her way to healing. May you be able to resume some form of "normalcy" (whatever that might be).

    Sincere best wishes,

  8. Danielle9:51 AM

    It was a good surprise to find a new post from you in my blog reader this morning! I'm sorry you've been going through so much, hopefully things will continue to get better.

  9. It's so nice to see you back here; a lot of people missed you. Your story is beautiful yet heartbreaking. The support and love you are showing your mother is all she needs to encourage her to keep going. I wish your mom well during this period and hope that she makes a full recovery.

  10. I am so sorry about your mom, I will say a prayer for her recovery.

    You have been missed.

  11. It's wonderful to read your words, even the sad ones, Mr Brown Thumb. It's been a rough year for mothers so I'm glad to hear your mom is responding and enjoying your tulips!

    I'm also smiling at the thought of your helpful uncle going for the prized black iris.

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  12. finally! I check every day to see if there's something new. I was about to give up :)

  13. Welcome back! Having been in the situation of having a mother with cancer, I know just how stressful it can be on everyone involved. Reading about you cutting tulips for your mother made me remember my mother and her love for gardening. Thanks for helping me to remember a fantastic memory!

  14. Whew. Sorta. One of my better friends from college got a non-Hodgkins lymphoma when he was like 22 or 23, so I know chemo's not fun either, but this is still better news than it could have been.

    Like everybody else, I hope your mom recovers quickly and thoroughly, and appreciate you posting to let us know what was going on.

  15. Just stopping in and glad that I did. So sorry to hear about the time that your mother is going through. That is something that people hear about, but can't know about until experienced. I know that you do not know me, but please know that I will be personally praying for you. KC

  16. HOpe things go well for your mom. Thanks for the update, I (and others) were wondering about you!

  17. Hey there!

    I'm sorry to hear about what's going on and I hope your mother will get better.

    Don't feel pressured to update your blog often. If your heart isn't in it right now, it just can't be helped.

    It's great to know that you're okay despite certain situations going on.

  18. Glad to hear you are alive ans well, all my thoughts are with you and your family.......take the time for yourself, it is important to keep yourself healthy as well during this trying time. I wish you and your family the best. I look forward to your up and coming posts as you start to come back into the blogging world.

  19. I'm so glad to see you back. I faithfully checked your blog once a week just to check, and after five months I was losing hope. So sorry to hear about your mom's difficulites. Hope all works out for her.

  20. MBT,

    What a wonderful son you are ! Is there anything more precious than a mother? Not in my book. I lost my own mother when I was four and nothing in my life can ever replace her and so I envy people who have a great love for their Mom.

    Knowing your devotion to your blog I had a feeling that something serious was going on. I am relieved to hear the positive news about your mother's health and I will continue to pray for her recovery.

    Please know that you are a treasured member of our gardening blog world and that we sympathize with what you are going through.

  21. Great so see you back! My thoughts are with you and your family. I have neglected my plants in some of the chaos of life, but I always get drawn back to them, and I feel a little better.

    Wishing you well

  22. I'm so glad to see a post again. I only just discovered you but was very worried nevertheless. I wish your mother strength and wellness. And all the "helpful" family...well, it will be probably make you smile one day.

  23. It's good to see you back. Sorry about your mom. I hope all the prayers and well wishes find their mark.

    I can't say I was lonely without you. I've discovered plenty of friendly garden bloggers since you coaxed me to start. But it seemed awful quiet without your 'voice' around here.

  24. There are more important things than blogging, & taking care of your mom is certainly one. Welcome back, no pressure, we're just glad to hear from you again.
    I am firmly in the camp that supports the theraputic benefits of plants. Every extended care facility should offer some kind of horticultural therapy. I hope your plants help speed your mom's recovery.

  25. All the best, Mr. Brown Thumb, to you and your mother.

  26. {{MBT}} so glad you are back blogging! Sometimes it must take a back seat to other things in life, but your posts are always a pleasure to read. I've missed you.

  27. Hang in there Mr. Brown Thumb. This can't be an easy time for you, but you and your family can get through it, one day at a time.

    I wish the best for your Mother. You being there for her is the best.

  28. I just ait and wait for a new post from some of the blogs I read- I figure when you got somehting to post about you'll post. Welcome back MBT! My mother and your grandmother should get together! My mother figures I should pay her and she will come every otherday and water all my plants- even though I don't have a problem watering them myself! I am not the on who killed two trumpet vines on my balcony from no water- although she will some up with another reason as to why they have died
    LOL You gotta love 'em

  29. Hello Mr BT! I've been enjoying reading your blog for quite a long time now, and at the risk of sounding repetitive, you were very sorely missed in the blog world; I remember reading concerned comments on other gardening blogs inquiring about your whereabouts.
    May your Mom take the road to recovery very fast.

  30. So glad you're back! I rubbed my eyes when I first saw this post to make sure it was real! It was as if you disappeared off the face of the earth. Passwords are the devil.

    Hope all works out and that your mom begins to feel better. Sending good vibes your way.

  31. Glad that you are back! When I discovered your blog you had already stopped posting...
    It's nice to know your mother actually appreciates nature and your gardening skills. My mom scoffs at everything I show her, she acts as if I'm still a toddler and I'm showing her a constant stream of illegible finger paintings. lol.

    Now, What about these "California gardening practices"? I take some offense to that! lol. I don't blame her for overwatering, it's like common sense here in so. Cali....especially during the winds, everything dries out very quickly. I'm not expert on Chicago as to the humidity and temperature, but isn't it just about as windy there as it is here during certain months? I could understand why she'd think your garden requires water induced hortitorture.

  32. Really admire your blog and glad it -and you - are back.
    Best wishes and hope your mother is feeling stronger.

  33. Welcome back to blogging, MBT. You have been missed, but knowing that you have your priorities in the right order, well, we'll be here whenever you post.

    Best wishes to your mom as she continues to receive treatments.

    And may your garden survive your relatives!

    Carol, May Dreams Gardnes

  34. I've missed reading your blog over the past few months. I hope the chemo works for your Mom. My Dad is on his second round of chemo, so I understand the difficulty in finding time to write blog posts.
    You and your Mom are in my prayers.

  35. I'm so sorry to hear about your mother, and I've got all my fingers crossed that the therapy works. We've had cancer in our family several times, so I know what it means.

    I'm really glad you're back but don't worry if you need to stop again for a while. We'll all understand, keep checking in, and be back as soon as you are.

    Re the other problems. Have you thought of planting a bed of artificial flowers "just for them"?

  36. It's good to see you back at it and am sorry to hear about your Mom. She is in our thoughts here at our house.

  37. WELCOME BACK!!! I'm sending good wishes to your mother, and also trying to "send" you and your garden some good karma so they can escape the well-meaning relatives. :)

  38. Thank you for the update... so very sorry to hear of your trials. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your mother. My thought is to pick every flower you have, if it makes her smile.

  39. i'm so sorry to hear about your year. i sure hope something good is lurking in the next six months for you. thank you for sharing your garden and your family with us. they're all lucky to have you. we'll still be here when you have time and heart enough for posting.

  40. I am very sorry to hear of all the hardships you have endured these past months. It is good to see you back.

  41. Glad to see you back in the blogging world - you were missed. You've been through much - I hope things improve for your mum. Sending healing thoughts her way!

  42. I'm glad you're back. We missed you. So sorry about your mother's illness. Will keep her in prayer.~~Dee

  43. OH Mr. Brown Thumb...thank God you are OK!!! I was so worried about you, and never stopped wondering about you and what could have happened! I am so sorry to hear about your Mom. I will pray for her full recovery! God bless you and your Mom. Take it easy, and by all means don't worry about the blog at this point...just love your Mom! Take care...
    A quiet reader...

  44. Hi everyone. Thanks for the comments of support. You don't know how much it all means to me and my family.

  45. Oh MBT, I'm so sorry for all the stress in your life. I pray that some sort of normalcy will prevail. I checked on you periodically, but obviously not recently, after your absence of so long. Carolyn let us know that you were around and I figured you'd be out and about eventually.


    Pssst......I've had your blog linked on mine for a very long time. When you get the chance, could you please list mine where you have blogs that have linked to yours? :-) Thanks!



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