Tag Archives: roses

A rose, some memories, and a goofy grin

A bud from a branch I had to trim off one of our roses late last week has finally started to bloom (© Gene Breshears)
A bud from a branch I had to trim off one of our roses late last week has finally started to bloom (© Gene Breshears)
When Ray and I moved to Ballard 20 years ago, I’m not sure I would have believed you if you’d told me I’d still live here two decades later. We had stayed in our previous two apartments less than three years each, for one thing. And Ray had been given an estimate of two years left to live about 19 months prior to the move. Not that I believed it, mind you. I refused to accept that he wasn’t going to get better, somehow. For one thing, I was older. I was the one who had chronic medical conditions when we met. So I was convinced that it would be him who outlived me.

The previous two places we had lived had not had any sort of yard. They were like the archetypical city apartment, in that regard. So when we’d found a place with a small lawn and a couple of flower beds that would be ours, Ray had been ecstatic. Particularly since there was already a rose bush in one of the beds.

The rose had clearly been there a for many years, with the thickest canes being nearly three inches thick. When we moved in in February, the rose was just leafing out, with no sign of buds, yet. But it wasn’t long before enormous red roses were appearing on it. We took some pictures and shared with friends who knew a bit more about roses. More than one person guessed it was a Mr. Lincoln, a fairly well-known red rose. Later that summer, when I was digging down deep around the roots of the red rose (we were trying to excise wild deadly nightshade, which grows as a weed up here), that I found the original stamped metal tag that had come with the rose whenever it had been planted, which identified it as a Patrician. It’s a red rose that was specifically bred to emulate a Mr. Lincoln, though it is supposed to be a bit hardier.

That same spring Ray came home from a shopping trip one day with a new rose to plant at the other end of the same bed. It was labeled a Maid of Honor, which was not a rose I had heard of. I learned much later that the name Maid of Honor does not represent a recognized cultivar of a rose, but is rather a name that sounds like it ought to be a real rose breed which gets slapped on various pink or yellow roses sold by, shall we say, less than scrupulous distributors.

We didn’t know that, at the time. We planted it, took care of it, and we were both a little shocked at just how quickly it sent canes shooting up for the sky. We would get these enormous pink blooms, often in clusters above the eaves. The next spring I remember quite clearly one Friday finding a new cane that had grown to about 8 inches in length. By the next Friday, that same cane was more than 6 feet tall.

To say that it was an aggressive climbing rose might be an understatement.

So I have learned that I have to be a bit aggressive in trimming our pink rose. Not just in the fall, but throughout the growing season, as side branches soon block off the walkway, and the tall branches hang down into the driveway.

Ray died before our Maid of Honor reached its third spring. Another rose that we found that same year, a pale lavender rose whose labeled breed I have forgotten, lived only a couple more years after Ray did. But the Maid of Honor, and the original Patrician, continued to go strong.

A couple of years ago, I apparently got too aggressive at trimming the Maid of Honor, because the root stock started sending even more rapidly growing canes up. Roses don’t breed true via seed, so when you buy one at a nursery, what you get are several canes grafted off of an original (or more likely, a graft of a graft of a graft… et cetera… of an original) and onto a hardier breed of rose. Usually a wild rose or tea rose. So if you get new shoots from the root ball, they are a different kind of rose, altogether.

The root’s flowers on mine are very tiny white blossoms that almost don’t look like roses once they open all the way. It’s branches grow even fast than the pink ones, but they never get quite as thick as a pencil, so while they are very long, they droop and wind around the thicker, stronger pink branches (and anything else they can reach).

Our building is getting painted right now, and I’ve been having to trim both the white and pink branches multiple times because the rose keeps getting up around the eaves or into the porch railing. Late last week I trimmed a new tall branch, and it had a single bud near the end. So I trimmed it some more and stuck in in the vase where I had some flowers (some that I had bought myself, and some that friends brought over when they heard the news about my dad).

Sometime while I was sleeping last night, the bud began to open. So I took a picture.

Every time I stop and look at any of the buds from the Maid of Honor, I think about of Ray. Who loved to smell those pink blooms, give me a goofy grin, and ask me if I agreed that it was pretty.

I don’t mean to be a grouch

copyright 2014 Gene Breshears
These things were piled up in front of the mailbox on our building during the moving process… and left there.
Some neighbors moved out. They lived in the building next door. For many years they patiently enduring living right above Drunk and Drunker, who I’ve written about many times before. Unlike Drunk and Drunker, they were always very nice people: fun to talk to, always sweet & friendly, always helpful, et cetera. So let’s call them Mr. and Mrs. Friendly. Mr. and Mrs. Friendly have lived there long enough that we’ve watched their daughter go from enthusiastic grammar school kid, to tween rebel, to sullen teen-ager with sketchy boyfriend.

Mrs Friendly was the neighbor who so very patiently worked with Mr Drunk when he was facing eviction to find a new place to live. Mrs Friendly was also the person who, when Mr Drunk’s relatives were moving him out and their truck drove over one of my flower beds, swept up the smashed decorative light before coming to knock on our door and tell us what happened. Mrs Friendly is the person who, more than a year since Michael and I got married, and a year-and-a-half since voters approved marriage equality in our state, gets teary-eyed when she tells me how very happy she is that we were able to get legally married.

So we were very sad a few weeks ago, while carrying cardboard out to the recycle, when Mrs. Friendly asked if she could have the boxes. Because they were moving out and needed to pack everything up by the end of the month.

Michael and I were miserable sick last week—right at the time that Mr and Mrs Friendly were doing their big move out. I was feeling a little guilty that we didn’t help with the physical move. Though I also figured that keeping our germs to ourselves was probably best. And the one time I actually saw moving going on they had a bunch of people helping. That’s the other thing, so far as I can tell, they did the bulk of their loading of stuff into a truck while I was away at work.

The thing I’ve been grumpy about is the left overs. Such as the pile in the picture at the beginning of this post. Those things were piled up in front of the mailbox on our building (remember, these neighbors don’t live in our building, they live in the building next door) when I got home from work one night. And since over on their building there were piles and piles of furniture and boxes, but no signs of any people at all, I presumed that they had left with a truck full of things and were unloading at the other location. Because our mailbox set is near the shared driveway, I figured those were just things that wouldn’t fit on the truck, and they meant to get them on the next trip.

The pile hasn’t moved for over a week.

There’s a bunch of other things (more ceramic planters with plants in them, a weird shaped metal chair, lots of cardboard boxes) still piled up over on the walkway in front of their apartment. I have since seen one of the owners of that building carrying cleaning supplies into the place. I hope that Mr and Mrs Friendly had a conversation with their landlord about the random left behind items over there.

I realize that the stuff left over by our place could be things that our landlady or one of our neighbors in our building agreed to take care of, and they just haven’t been moved. I can certainly imagine the conversation.

Mrs Friendly: “I have no idea where I’m going to put that in the new place!”

Neighbor1: “I thinks it’s beautiful!”

Mrs Friendly: “Do you want it?”

Neighor1: *looks toward her boyfriend who is in the middle of helping Mr Friendly lift heavy piece of furniture into truck* “What do you think? This could go in the corner of the living room.”

Boyfriend: *finishes pushing piece of furniture into truck* “Huh? Oh, yeah, I guess we could do that…”

And slowly a pile accumulates. By the end of the day, everyone’s too tired to deal with it.

I haven’t actually run into anybody to ask.

And I’m kind of glad, because I’m afraid my annoyance will come through and I’ll sound like an old, unhelpful grouch.

On the other hand, feeling grouchy about that motivated me the other night to trim back my roses. Since spring began, they’ve shot a bunch of branches into the porch and walkway. Some branches were getting out into the driveway. If it was annoying me to have to dodge the branches with big thorns, they must be driving some neighbors well past annoyance.

I completely filled up the yard waste bin with branches chopped from my two roses. Now no one has to dodge them, and I will feel less like I’m hurling stones from inside a glass house if I see a neighbor and ask about the pile of things.

Update: Of course, when I come home from work at the end of the day that this posts, the pile is gone.