Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Look out 2009, Here we come.....

I finally realize what my parents, and their friends, were always talking about when they would say to me, "You just wait, the older you get, the faster the years go by." It seems like just yesterday I set up this blog, and now an entire year has gone by. When I first started it I wanted to be able to have a small way of keeping a running journal of what I did for the year at The Flower Tree. What it has turned into though is more of a look into my world. The Flower Tree of course plays a very large part, but it's all the other great stuff that filled my year that found it's way onto these pages. Thankfully, family, plays the largest role in my life. Not just the family here at home, or the love of my children and adorable grandchild to the east, but the Flower Tree and Red Zinnia family. We are a group of incredibly compatible friends, who are amazingly encouraging of each other, talented, thoughtful, and just plain fun to be around. It is this that makes everyday an adventure, in life - and friendship.

During the past year we saw some tremendous accomplishments - with the opening of Red Zinnia. For something that was merely a small thought last winter, it blossomed into the exact kind of store that we were hoping for. Now over the course of the next year we will continue to strive for new and exciting things to fill the shop.

As for me, I am not real big on New Years resolutions. I choose instead to live each day as the gift that it is, the present. I will make a vow though, to write more, and more important, to listen more. To walk under the stars and listen to the trees, to laugh till the tears come, to cook good food, plant more flowers and do more be a good wife, Mom, Nana, and friend.

Happy New Year! Susan

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

'Twas the Night Before Christmas

'Twas the night before Christmas,
And all through the store,
Not a creature was stirring,
No one came through the door.

Harriet was safely sleeping,
On her bed on the floor,
When outside in the trees
She heard quite the roar.

She ran round the table,
And put her face to the glass………….
To see what could be causing
This loud sounding crash.

“It’s just us”, we say,
As we open the door
We’ve coming bearing gifts
Catnip, treats and toys galore!

We picked up sweet Harriet
And cuddled her well,
Filled her food and water
And pulled out her new bell.

We left with a smile
Harriet’s blanket tucked tight,
Merry Christmas to all,
And to all a good night.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Down to the wire.........

Another holiday season is coming to a close in our world, and with it comes some wonderful memories. The children walking through the store staring at all the ornaments on the tree, the excitement on the faces of the women in Michelle's classes when they have finished their wreaths and are headed home with something beautiful to hang on their front door. The scent of hot apple cider rising from the urn and the thrill of helping someone find the perfect living Christmas tree that will grace their landscape for years to come. Oh, and we can't forget the site of Harriet sleeping under one of the trees.

I am not going to try and fool you into thinking that "Retail World" is always a pleasant place to be. There are the days that the forklift won't start and you have a huge tree to load or something crashes to the floor and breaks into a million pieces because little hands just had to touch it. But somehow those are few and far between. The majority of our time is spent helping people. The last check mark on the wish list completed, the perfect gift for that hard to shop for friend that has everything, and some days, the really best days, are the ones that someone stops by just to say hi and see how your world is going. I am one of the lucky ones, I have a lot of those days.

Now that my time is split between The Flower Tree and Red Zinnia, one of my favorite moments in the day at Red Zinnia has to be when I see a look of puzzlement on a customers face. They know they have seen me SOMEWHERE before, they just can't place me. Then I start to talk to them, or ask them if they receive the emails from The Flower Tree, and the smile starts to cover their face "I knew I had met you before, your from The Flower Tree". The conversation quite often turns to brown lawns, pruning roses or watering tips at that point. I love it.

So as the winter solstice is now past, and Christmas eve is quickly upon us, we bid farewell to this busy time of year. We will take some time to rest and enjoy the lights of the season. And wait patiently for the 6 days to pass until our children safely arrive for a beautifully long 3 week vacation. Merry Christmas, Susan

Saturday, December 20, 2008

And The Winner Is

Jennifer Williamson and her forever friend, joined Marlea today to pick the winning ticket for our winter raffle. With your support of our CAPS fundraiser we sold $179.00 worth of raffle tickets. Add that to the tickets that were sold by CAPS members and that makes a lot of dog & cat food. Watch for our next raffle of a flowering tree this coming Spring. For more information on all the wonderful things that CAPS does for the animals in our community:
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Friday, December 19, 2008

In the Shadow

Came across this picture from our trip back east in October. Kathy - Me - Charma......just playing shadow yoga.
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2008 Winter Wine Event

Last year we thought it would be a nice treat to have our monthly wine tasting in the evening. The soft glow of the lit Christmas trees, the aroma of the fresh pines filling the gift shop, the lights of the holiday displays outside, the cool, make that cold temperatures that required the roar of a gently built fire in the wood stove........and it was a great event.

This year, when we opened the wine shop in Red Zinnia in November, we became acquainted with one of the executives of Southern Wine and Spirits, Joe Canale. We had told our sales rep Spencer about what we had done the year before, and they thought that they could help us put on another event, but even better. We spent the better part of the week picking out the wines that we would taste, and then another week getting everything else lined out. The food, the music, the helpers all arranged. Invitations went out in the mail to all that had supported the wine departments at Flower Tree and Red Zinnia over the past year, and we made sure that our emails filled in everyone else............and then the day came quickly. We didn't have our greenhouse room set up for Christmas this year, too many leaks last winter to do it again this year. Michelle and Lucia didn't let that stop them. They spent two full days filling the room with huge living Christmas trees, sparkly lights and candles. By the time the lights were dimmed, and the rooms were filling with people you would have thought that you had stepped into a beautiful park, filled with holiday cheer.

With the help of Spencer, Joe and his lovely wife Katy, and John from Encore Beverages, a supplier of some of our smaller boutique wineries, we had five tasting stations set up. Jaime and Bob were our guest sommeliers at one tasting station, and Bill & Korena Mewaldt at another. Everyone was given a card when they arrived listing all the wines available, and we stood back and watched as the evening progressed into one of good cheer, friendship and community camaraderie. It was a great time and we are already looking forward to planning next years event. The best part, all of the wines we served that night, over 40 varieties, are now available at Red Zinnia. A huge thank you to all that helped put this event together. The Flower Tree and Red Zinnia family, we can sure throw a party!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Art by Amy Paul

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Sometimes, while on vacations with my traveling buddy Kathy, you turn around and she is nowhere to be found. You backtrack a few yards, look left - look right, and there she is stopped in the middle of the sidewalk taking pictures. "What type of tree is this?" she asks me when she spots me staring at her. " A ginkgo" I reply. "I thought so, hold on while I get some pictures for Amy". And so it goes for the rest of the week as we take pictures of ginkgo trees, telephone wires, open fields.

About three weeks after we returned from our trip back east a box full of artwork arrived at the Red Zinnia. We had talked with Kathy about carrying some of Amy's artwork in our new store and we were excited about unpacking and displaying them as soon as possible. I have met Amy many times on her and Chad's (Kathy's son) trips north from San Diego for the holidays, and she is a beautiful woman, inside and out. Having only seen her artwork via her website though, I wasn't really prepared for how amazing they are up close. She has an innate sense of detail and color that fills her creations with beauty. Carefully unwrapping the artwork, I suddenly realized the reason for so many of our photos during our trip. Ginkgo leaves fill the first one I unwrap, telephone wires the beautiful backdrop of another. Kathy was filling her camera with future inspiration for Amy's art. The prints that we have hung up at Red Zinnia are small versions of her originals and I can only imagine the impact of viewing one in it's full 3' x 5' glory. The prints are signed and numbered and sealed with an acrylic coating that brings the artwork to life. I am including her website here, but stop by and see them in person. They are beautiful.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Return to Flower Tree

This week marked the return of "normalcy" in my working/play world. Now that the Red Zinnia is up and going strong, I get to go back to my true love, the garden. It does not hurt that the weather has been absolutely gorgeous this week. The sun shining, no winds, the birds by the hundreds picking at the seed heads left on the sunflowers out front. I walked and walked the nursery grounds today in between trying to get caught up on paperwork. The rose garden that just a few short months ago was filled with beautiful color is now sitting empty and sad, but the memory of the confirmation form for the 1500 that will arrive in 2009 that sits on my desk fills me with hope for next spring. The River Garden out back is so peaceful. I sometimes wish we had heaters out there so that people would just go and sit on the bench that overlooks the riverbed and enjoy the view. With most of the water gone you can see all the tracks of the wildlife that live there. Deer mostly, but smaller footprints that I don't recognize, perhaps skunks or muskrat. The hawks that have taken up residence in the giant cottonwoods across the river were circling in their hunt for food, their dance in the air, so graceful. I wandered down to the dock that sits behind the house and glanced down the river and spotted two deer crossing, probably just a small glimpse into the family that was with them. Harriet of course was with me the whole way, jumping out from behind bushes.....hiding behind blocks....waiting for my next move. Life is good. See ya soon, Susan


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