A 'Proper' but no doubt too long Introduction....

Fairfax, CA(Zone 9a)

Hi, y'all...

Since joining yesterday, I've decided to share my "story", as I have a few requests, and this might be the best place to put them for general initial viewing...folks might know who might respond to what queries....

In May of 99 I retired from 25+ years work as a psychologist working with damaged souls [addicts/alcoholics], as my mom's death gave the opportunity to move back into the house of my adolesence...My hope/plan was to make the childhood I never had by playing with creating beauty--learning to oil paint, gardening, etc.

Three months after moving in, I got a diagnosed with a cancer which I was told would give me 2, maybe 3 years to live. After intensive chemo/radiation, I was VERY lucky to get a remission, but was told by many to go ahead with a very drastic surgery [esophagectomy] as a prophylactic measure.

Long story short, I decided that I'd rather have a shorter life full of 'joy in beauty' than a longer one focused on the fragility and changed lifestyle that this dreadful surgery causes. A friend offered money for either the surgery or a trip, and I chose a 6 month solo trip to Europe, based on "quality over quantity".

...After returning in 9/00 from this remarkable trip, many said I should do something w/the photos I took over there, so I learned Photoshop, printed & framed them, sold some in a local "Open Studio" event, and made a website, meant to be the start of an 'art-inspirational' book proposal...[for those interested: www.angelfire.com/art/mickleson]

By then it was Summer of 01, and I got addicted to the GardenWeb Rose Forum, bit by the rose bug, and ended up with a humungous number of roses for which I needed to create planting space on this large, mostly part-sun property. This winter, I had 10 cubic yards of virgin good dirt put into hilly mounds, and am about the business of planning it now: what roses will go where, what perennials will go with what in which areas, where I'll put all my old, potted, Stargazer & Casablanca lilies, etc...It's my form of an artist's canvas, as I love to play with color.

By the grace of joy in beauty and a slew of esoteric chinese herbal formulas, I remain in remission, but subject to a probably fatal recurrence [very common] at any time. Meanwhile, I'm soaking up as much garden/art pleasure and indulgence as I can!!

So, I come to this forum, which appears to be a great one, for support and inspiration, and to share my joy in this process.

I have a "wish list" which includes the following--some specific to local members near me, others more general:

Meeting up with any members who might live in Marin County, or the SF Bay Area, with these notions in mind:

* maybe getting together to view/share ideas in each others' gardens--maybe plant sharing, mutual helping, etc.

* meet a Mac savvy computer soul who'd help me reconnect my scanner & show me how to scan my photos of my garden into a Journal--[I disconnected the darn thing when it developed a mind of its own & kept going on when I didn't want it to]

* find someone with successful experience growing Aconitum napellus [Azure Blue Monkshood] in the Bay Area--or another zone 9 or 10'er--for possible buying/trading of plants & information on this plant I'm determined to make happen in my new garden....

* best local [or other] resources for Agapanthus "Midnight Blue" and light blue "Peter Pan"

* someone experienced with growing gardenias in outside containers in temperate zones

* someone with whom I might arrange a trade of inspired/experienced garden help [maybe 1-2 hours per week] for reasonable fee &/or who knows what: photos, rose cuttings, dinners, etc...[help dealing w/ digging holes & transplanting roses in pots into the ground, etc,--stuff I used to have the strength to do, but no longer can manage alone]

...And other things which I'm sure will arise. I am sorry to wax on so, but I believe if one puts their wishes out into the old universe, sometimes vectors intersect and lovely connections occur.

I'll appreciate any leads on any of the queries I've put out here, from where to post what concerns to individuals you know who might have info on what I've mentioned.

With love and gratitude for a new community,


Murfreesboro, TN(Zone 7a)

Karen, welcome to Dave's Garden. It's a pleasure to meet you! Sorry I don't live closer, or I'd volunteer my teenagers to come dig holes for you - they're quite good at it now, with all the practice I've given them.

I'm sure you'll find others here who can help with some of the requests and questions you have, or they can put you in touch with someone else who can.

We're very glad to have you gardening with us :)

Bay City, MI(Zone 6a)

Welcome to our home-I hope you make it yours! God bless you everyday! Id have picked the trip too! I wish could help with some of your wishes-I have tons of seeds and plants to trade.
I have Family in Lodi CA. and San Diego-I havent seen in years!! I saw that it snowed there the other day!
Im really glad you are here with us!

Jerome, MI(Zone 5b)

Welcome, nice to meet you...!

Newcastle, ON(Zone 5a)

Hi Karen..I read your letter and wish list with great interest. I live in ON Canada so I can't help, but I will look forward to hearing about things as they progress for you..I owuld love to see some of your photos.
It is a lovely ambitious thing that you wish to do..and I hope you may live out your dreams. You will find many caring and helpful people here on DG. Sit back and enjoy.

Troy, VA(Zone 7a)

Hi Karen and a warm welcome to our garden and family. All I can say after reading your pointed intro is that I wish I lived right next door to you. I know we would have such fantastic fun! I don't suppose you could sell up and move to Virginia huh!!! Kindred spirits, kindred souls we are all one!!

Fairfax, CA(Zone 9a)

Starzz, Louisa & all..

Thanks so much for your kind comments. It does seem that most of the active folk here are rather 'way' ouside california. I wonder why that is?

Anyhow, you can see my photos on the website I made for them [but a fraction of those I have printed & framed]:


Some are rather garden related! :-))


Georgetown, TX(Zone 8a)

Karen, I admire your attitude. I, too, am a cancer survivor, and was told I had a few months to live in December, 2001. I underwent the necessary radical surgery and 6 chemo treatments, and was fortunate to go into remission almost immediately. Although it is incurable, I plan to have no more dealings with that beastly cancer. The loss of strength came as a total shock to me. I am working as hard as I know how to build back lost muscle tone. I am forced to approach gardening from a different perspective, but I like to think one day soon, or later, I will dig my own holes again, move my own soil again. I have no choice, since I have no one else to do it and it must be done. In the year I took to recover, Texas had its third terrible drought, so I lost much I had worked hard to create, but it's an inspiration to fully regain what I lost in strength and endurance. I am 62 years old, and I have a granddarling who is the light of my life, who is five years old. She isn't the only one, just the one I am closest to. For her, I must be healthy, and I shall! I hope you will, too. It's a bummer to know we might have a recurrence that will shatter our dreams, but we are no different from anyone else, life being so fragile for so many reasons. It's just different when we know the enemy on such a close up basis. Let's fight together.

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