I grew up with a golden retriever, and she was literally the best dog who ever lived (as every person who grows up with a labrador or golden will say). Heidi was brought to us by Santa when I was in second grade and she was a part of our family until I was a freshman in college. When my mom called to tell me she had been put to sleep, I sat in my dorm room and cried and cried like I had just read the last chapter of Where the Red Fern Grows. It was really sad. :(
After mourning Heidi for a couple of years, we got Buddy. My siblings and I had this uncanny ability to convince our mom on any random weekend that getting a new pet was a fantastic idea, and in this instance it was my brother who got the job done. Technically his dog, Buddy was a 6 year old Border Collie from the Humane Society who was so intelligent (that's what we decided) he came across as kind of psycho. He talked like Scooby Doo and regularly climbed into the bathtub to eat bar soap. He also ate a lot of balloons - yeah, like the colorful party balloons that come in a package of 50. We could never figure out where he got them from, but we'd find piles of colorful all over the backyard on a regular basis. It was so weird. Kinda like one of those kids that sucks on pennies because they have vitamin deficiencies or one of those people you see on A&E who's addicted to eating toilet paper. But we fed him the expensive vet-prescribed dog food, so don't start thinking we were bad pet owners or something.
Despite his strange eating habits, he was a very lovable dog and a lot of fun too. It was especially entertaining to get him all riled up early in the morning and then have him run and leap on top of my brother as he lay in bed trying to recover from a hangover. Or when he'd see anyone put on tennis shoes, he'd go berserk and nearly break his own back from jumping up and down and wagging his tail so hard. I mean, seriously! Dogs are just so great like that.
They make life more fun. Straight up. So naturally, I go through phases where I start saving up money for one and scanning the Humane Society website obsessively and keeping an eye out for apartments that are big-dog friendly. I'll be seriously planning on getting a dog, and then out of nowhere I'll get distracted by something else (painting, fishing, running, happy hour) and the dog idea will go out the window. The same thing happens when I decide I really, for sure this time, want a tattoo. I'll be dead-set on it, even draw out what I want, argue with my mom about it, and then after like 4 months - poof! Nevermind, not interested. Dropping the dog phase has happened enough times that I've responsibly decided that it can wait until I'm more stable and have a routine that resembles that of a mom... which will be a long time. Because let's face it, dogs are kind of like babies. But that DOESN'T mean they should ever wear clothes.
So instead of a dog baby...
I have plants! Plants - glorious, beautiful, colorful plants! My sister and I both got the green thumb trait from our mom (does that sound conceited? it's hereditary, I can't help it...) but my talents are just beginning to blossom. (Had to go there.) Last year was my first year "gardening" (I can only put things in pots on my porch because our landlord's already taken care of the yard) and I grew jalapenos, tomatoes and a variety of flowers. Honestly it was kind of a crazy summer because Portland didn't get too much sun (it's not fairrrrrr!!!) and most of my tomatoes were still green in October. I gave them through November, then I finally gave up. It was a huge bummer.
I didn't get discouraged, though, because there is something so spectacular about having a garden regardless of whether it is productive. Seeing how it evolves over time is pretty mind blowing - if your mind is blown by nature, of course. And the tomatoes that did turn red - dang they were good. And I'm not usually into raw tomatoes! Too slimy. But there is something about the homegrown kind that makes them so, so tasty! I crave a BLT every day during the summer.
Earlier this month I planted some flowers. Super cute, that's the best way to describe them. Pretty sure some little tinkerbell fairies have taken up residence there. When it comes to flowers in a container, you want to put the most upright growing plants in the middle and the trailing varieties around the perimeter. I am a big fan of geraniums or snap dragons in the center, and this year I put some violas around the outside.
This is how my garden grows.
This is my first time to grow herbs, and I am waaay too excited about it. I went to the Portland Farmers Market yesterday and bought little 4 inch containers of tarragon, lavender, rosemary, oregano and basil. ORGANIC. :) Really excited about the tarragon. I put all of them in a large pot and they look adorable; yes I'm bragging a little.
My loot from the Farmers Market
At the market, I also got a "Goliath" variety tomato plant (recommended for its quick maturity, because I'm not wanting a bunch of fried green tomatoes like last year. Trying to be healthy...) and an orange Thai chili plant (just because, how cool is that?).
But I'm definitely saving my favorite purchase to share last. Spanish Lavender - seriously the coolest looking plant I've ever seen. So elegant and exotic - the flowers look like feathers! And it smells awesome.
Spanish Lavender, I'm jealous of your looks.
My #1 summer recommendation: grow something. No excuses. There are websites dedicated to gardening in every possible situation - even prison. Just google it.