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The Living Without Series

This is a series of posts that I wrote back in 2006 on living with less stuff. Check them out: liv011Living #2liv031liv04

Coal Creek Farm on Facebook

The Chicken Doctor


The Architect


The Day I Met Margaret Roach

A few months ago I was reading a post that my friend Marilyn wrote for the blog The Sister Project. It was a touching account about her sister that fought and sadly lost a battle with cancer.  Marilyn’s words always melt me no matter if she’s talking about food or her family, the girl can write.  That day her post shredded my heart.  I commented on her post and then I tweeted, “Today Marilyn made me cry.”

Later that day I saw a few people added to my Twitter.  One of them was Margaret Roach.  Then I got an email from this Margaret Roach.  Who is Margaret Roach?  Why does that name sound familiar? I opened the email and read as she explained that she was the ex-editorial director for Martha Stewart and now she calls herself “a dropout from corporate life”.  As I’m reading the email I’m thinking, is this spam?  Should I believe this person? I kept reading.  Margaret explained how she is now retired from her fancy suits and high paced life.  She lives in rural New York  and writes on her blog named after her book Away to Garden and her newest blog, The Sister Project.  After reading her email a few times I decided to go to the bathroom.  Because that ‘s where I had an old copy of Martha Stewart Living and maybe this Margaret Roach lady was in there.  As I flipped a few pages into the magazine there on the editor’s page was a picture of a petite woman and her name was Margaret Roach.  Well, okay then.  I responded to Margaret’s email and that’s when the flood gates opened.

Margaret and I bantered back and forth about blogging, gardening and the nickname Auntie Monkey Butt.  Then I asked her if she was up to a challenge.  I wanted to know if she could help me landscape a spot by my porch for $100.  I’d set aside one hundred American dollars in my budget to plant a little somthin-somethin by the step of our porch which is usually the home to hair clippings, Legos and the spot where my mean Rooster plans his daily attacks.


In my mind I thought Margaret would say, “Why, my dear darling April, of course I’ll help you.  Go buy this specific plant and stick in that precise spot.” The end.  I would blog about it, we would smile at the little plant, drink some iced tea and go on with our lives.  But, that didn’t happen.  By the end of the challenge I had dug up half my yard, hauled three truck loads of mulch and spent a wee bit more than one hundred dollars.  Although, that may sound dreadful, in the end Margaret made me think outside the tiny spot that was by the porch which meant I had to use my eyeballs to see what was in my yard as a whole and stop focusing on just the little spot with the hair clippings and Legos.  Believe me there is a lot going on in that yard.


My focus was on that little 6X8 spot to the right of the stairs.  Stick a bush in and we’re done, right Margaret?  No, no, she wanted to know what else was around that spot, pull back she said, send me pictures she said, pull back more, send more pictures.  So I backed up and took more and more pictures for Margaret.  A basketball court, a big oak tree, to the far right was a kidney-shaped spot that had a menagerie of plants crammed into it, a Yucca, a honeysuckle, a half dead rose bush, Spirea and some other thorny bush.

And that’s not all.


Around the corner from my tiny 6X8 spot is some lovely lava rock, which has been listed in Margaret’s garden NO NO’s.  And let’s not forget the winding brick border, which I thought I’d be using as the border for my new little bush.  Hahahahah!  Oh, that Margaret, did she ever have a different plan in mind for me.


If we back up from that corner a bit we can see there is also the back concrete porch and a pear tree, or at least I think it’s a pear tree, Margaret has me thinking it’s a Maple now and since I’ve been having a bit of a dilemma identifying other trees on our property, I’m just going to call it Big Tree for now.  Margaret has asked for a close up of the leaves and could it please be in focus so she can positively identify it.  She’s kind of picky, that Margaret.  At the bottom of the picture you can see just a bit of the Ponderosa fence that borders the driveway.

Did I mention there is a lot of stuff in that yard?

If you’re looking close enough you have noticed that the brick border did not survive, nor did the lava rock.  I’m happy to report that I did survive and so did Clay and my children after I announced that we would be digging up most of the yard becasue Margaret has me seeing the big picture now.

….to be continued.

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