Thursday, September 24, 2009

Oh shit. What have I done now.

I'm sorry if the title of this post alarmed you. I guess you were either sympathizing with me or eager to see a photograph of some horrible garden error I have made. I won't ask which.

Here's how my garden inspiration generally plays out. I'm minding my own business, strolling through life, admiring a container planting here and there. Suddenly, an idea bowls me over. I practically burst with excitement telling my friends and family (who are familiar with my ways and humor my sudden intense obsessions with certain ideas), "Oh my god. I'm so excited about this, and I really shouldn't be telling you about it because it's a little silly and ambitious and it probably won't work out, and I know I'll jinx myself but the plan is..." and so forth.

I spend the next 2-5 days in feverish study over the idea, conducting Internet research, drafting plans, taking measurements, making lists of things my husband needs to pick up at Good Earth THIS weekend (anonymous commenter, please remind me to tell my husband how awesome he is).

I break ground.

Inevitably, "Oh shit. What have I done now."

During the landscaping project, the period of "oh shit" was probably the most concerning, as the project lasted several months and I have been known to become quickly obsessed with an idea and lose interest just as quickly.

Fortunately, early on, my friend Grace took a quick look and without a moment's hesitation, leaned in, put her hand on my arm and said, "Well, you got to break a few eggs if you want to bake a cake".

Fast forward a couple years later, this is what I'm thinking each day I arrive home from work to the beautiful edge I've cut in of a large new garden expansion that's going to be prepared this fall, bags of mulch and compost sitting on my lawn for weeks, and plants arriving via UPS daily all mulched up with no place yet to go.

I've seen enough garden projects from start to finish now to know that it always starts off messy. I don't think I'll ever avoid the "oh shit" feeling. However, these days, the in-garden panic attacks are few.

I read something today I'm particularly fond of that I find related to my "oh shit" feelings and other aspects of my life as well. I wonder what it might mean for you...

If I were to wish for anything, I should not wish for wealth and power, but for the passionate sense of potential, for the eye which, ever young and ardent, sees the possible.

~Soren Kierkegaard


  1. Ha ha Wendy you are right. I thought what have you done wrong. You have some crazy thought here. Nonetheless, have a great weekend Wendy!

  2. Okay, Wendy, my first thought..
    'oh-shit, she hit a water or gas line diggin a new planter'...because? I've been there, done that!! So, phew, relief!

    I am exactly the same when I get an idea to learn/do something new (my family calls me Jack (of-all-trades)because of all my endeavors!

    Nice quote and nice words to live by! Nothing is worthwhile in this life w/o the PASSION and desire ;)

  3. Being overambitious in the garden can produce some fabulous results. As the saying goes: "Always reach for the moon, because if you miss you'll land among the stars." Cheers!

  4. And this is exactly how I became a gardener. And got my pond. And started my first veggie garden. And began mosaic'ing my birdbath (pics soon). A whole of lot of the "oh shit, what have I done now" projects -- on my blog, I put in a category called "What Was I Thinking?" because I knew there would be more posts that fit there. I'm a crazy project girl, what can I say? I guess we both are!

  5. Wendy, after seeing the amazing results of your(huge!)retaining wall project, I am quite excited to see your "oh shit" project. The "sense of potential" is what keeps me excited in the garden.

  6. Hi Wendy~~ Well I am definitely in favor of the eye for potential but I'd like to have a bevy of hired hands to do the bulk of the work while I sit on my derriere, sipping something cold and barking friendly but adamant orders.

    Last year I decided it was time to rid my life of an overgrown and admittedly ill-placed smallish tree. With a fairly useful hand saw I went at it. As the tree started leaning I thought, holy shit, this thing is heavy and it's going to kill me. Somehow by the grace of God I was able to get out of the way as it crashed to the ground. Not one of my smartest undertakings but the success of it has shadowed all common sense. I can do it!!

  7. Do you remember where you saw the stump drilling? Would you have to drill all the way to the bottom, stump 3 feet high.

  8. Lynn - you've hit a gas/water line??!!!

    Avis - I love that quote too and definitely live refer to it often!

    Meredith - good label for those projects!

    Deborah - I will certainly not be working on a project as big as the landscaping project again.

    Grace - you're funny. I would love to be exactly that way too. I would sit in a cedar lounge chair with an attractive sun hat on - and yes, give orders firmly, but kindly. Or maybe I'd be basket in hand, just strolling around and cutting fresh flowers, but alas, I have not found a hat that looks good on me, and I'm really sensitive to mosquito bites, and sweat easily, so it's easier to tie a bandana around my wrist, get sprayed down with skin so soft and get dirty.

  9. Stephanie and all - have a good weekend too! We're off from school for Yom Kippur (Jewish holiday) on Monday so Hubby and I are going to the Eastern Shore for our 13th wedding anniversary (20 relationship years in January!) - What do you think of that anonymous commentor?!

  10. 20 years? That is long. May the future be even brighter.

  11. Oh me too, me too. How many projects have I leapt into passionately and then lost interst some time later. Usually concerned with my business, which probably explains why I've not yet made my first million...:(

  12. Wendy,
    I have had this feeling, numerous times. And I have heard my husband say, what have you done now? BUT, it all works out and you move forward. I am still o shitting my front yard. It is a disaster, and I wonder if it will ever be what I envisioned.
    Good luck with your project. I love this quote you shared.
    Thanks for stopping by my blog!

  13. Heh! This is SO ME. My husband just rolls his eyes when I come up with another "Grand Idea".

    I bet your new garden space will be gorgeous - I look forward to seeing the pics!

  14. I get so sick of hearing the "Follow your bliss" quote from Joseph Campbell. At last!...a fitting replacement.

  15. When I first saw the title, my heart skipped a beat. I thouht you have wiped off a major portion of your blog! It almost happened to me while I was messing around with my blog design instead of my garden.

    My instant great ideas on my garden didn't work out well when I hired instant outside help. Yes, they left me with new plants and landscapes but some plants have died even before I can find time to work on them. Finally, my garden turned out the way it is after a 5 years of sweat and pottering around according to my whims and fancies.

    Happy 13th wedding anniversary, Wendy. Wishing you all the best of fun, joy, laughter and sweet memories. Meanwhile, we will miss your absence.

  16. I get some hubby-eye-rolling too, but truth be told, never get any pessimism. I guess even if I did, I probably would pay it no mind!

    Rosey - then again, lots of projects don't turn out quite as expected - different but still great, right?

    Then there are the plantings that as soon as they're done, you change your mind, or decide you hate the color after all...

    Thanks for the wishes Autumn! The weekend went by way too fast.

  17. lolz. This is what we call passionate gardener. It happened with me lots of times and will keep on happening and i just love this feeling. Things do sort out after that no doubt about that.

  18. When you start one of those projects, which look so easy in your mind or on paper, you never realize how much is really involved. I always think of the quote, "Fools rush in where Angels fear to tread." - Edmund Burke. Aren't we humans just that. By the way I really like your Kiekegaard quote.


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