Thursday, April 28, 2011

My Retirement - Losing a Friend

Grieving, but doing OK

Martian


Being free and having fun
 Sixteen years ago my daughter Molly decided she wanted to move out, get an apartment and live with some friends.  Three months later she was back with her bags and a little surprise in her pocket.  Inside was this little ball of black fur with a white diamond spot on his chest and 4 white booties. His face was shaped similar to an alien so his name became Martian. He also had a broken tail that must have happened at birth, but it made him distinctive.  Like most kittens, he was adorable and hard to resist. We already had this experience when my son Andy had come back from college four years earlier with the same type of gift for us.  We gave great thought about accepting these presents, but hubby fell in love each time and so did I, so we adopted these two wonderful guys.

Casey was your typical short-hair, fat, lap cat who always wanted to be around you.  Martian was more aloof and we figured he might have some feral blood in him. Although he was very loving and playful,  he always sat at arms length away from you so that if you wanted to pet him, you had to bend or stretch.  This independent attitude made us appreciate and love him even more. Casey and Martian were great friends and often slept with their arms around each other with Casey taking the alpha role and Martian his devoted companion. Unfortunately, we lost  Casey 6 years ago to cancer and Martian seemed lost without him.  We did get him some other playmates but that did not work out as the newbees were sisters and wanted nothing to do with him and often pushed him to the wall when attention or food was handed out.  He was a wuss and allowed them to disrespect him.  However, he was smarter than those two bullies put together.

I will not bore you with cat stories, but let me say that this beautiful, sweet guy was there for me on many occasions. I suffer from terrible leg cramps at night and when I was in pain and screaming from them, he would scratch at the door to get to me.  If I was sad and crying, he would sit beside me. When I have fallen, he would come running to watch over me. He had so many dog-like personality traits and despite his small size, he had a big heart.

Today we lost our Marchie.  He had been losing weight for the past few months and we thought it had to do with his hypothyroid disease, but it was cancer.  Every day we saw more of him waste away and we did everything we could to prolong his life, just as much for us as for him.  Last night things became very bad and today hubby, who heart was breaking, took him for his last ride to the vet. 


Martian in Old Man's Chair

Those of you who are blessed with a pet will understand my grief, those who are not animal people will not.  Then there is that anti-cat bias.  So many people who are dog people find cats useless and not as important or as fun as dogs.  I was one of those people as I was raised in a house with many dogs and had no real feeling towards "the other house pet."  Then Casey and Martian entered my life. Most animals will bring you companionship and will wrap themselves around your heart and you are the better for it.  My life was so enriched with this little guy.


Martian was very special, smart, and a great pet.  I will miss him so

My beautiful friend

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

My Retirement - Disney, the Mother Killer

Went to movies, it sucked, but doing OK

Disturbia

http://youtu.be/nLvX-erABqY - Click on to see Bambi promo.

Seeing Bambi in the early 50's traumatized me for life.  The movie came out in 1942 which was before I was born so I must have seen a re-release. Within 15 minutes of the film's start, the young fawn loses his mother in a forest fire. The scene of the fire and Bambi looking desperately  for his mother was very disturbing to me as a young child, especially since I had a mother who was not always well. After seeing this film, I lived in fear of losing my mom and anticipated the worst.  Disney also gave us Cinderella (girl with a dead mother) Snow White (girl with a dead mother and stepmother who wanted to kill her) Hansel and Gretel (dead mother and witch that wants to cook and eat the children) and more recently, a terrific movie they did with Pixar, Finding Nemo (mother, brothers and sisters dead).  I won't even get into old films like Pinocchio, Dumbo and Sleeping Beauty, which were very sad tales surrounded by blue birds and cute songs and were accepted children's theater.  I have to admit though, while growing up I used to love watching Disney Presents and lived for Wednesday at 7 PM to see the latest installment of stories like Davy Crockett, his life and "Death" We certainly were not protected from the sad facts of life like today's children, however these tales were not light entertainment and I think I am not the only one who had many sleepless nights over them..

Hunters Being HuntedLast Friday, Earth Day, we went to see the newest Disney "fun" film, "African Cats". I had seen Oceans last year and really enjoyed it.  There was also the added factor that $1.00 of my ticket price was going to an animal charity and that is always good. The coming attractions were beautiful, showing only love and family and  inspirational  music; the actual story was something different. It was like Bambi on steroids.  Five minutes into it, I decided I could not watch it any longer.  I could not walk out as I was with other people and they seemed engrossed with it.   I decided to close my eyes or look sideways and not at the screen.  However, Samuel L Jackson, as narrator, was telling the sappiest story ever and I'm not deaf enough yet not to hear it especially with digital  surround sound or whatever they call it.   Much of the music was a lone cello playing, the saddest sound there is.  Funeral dirge comes to mind.  Film story:  cute cubs frolicking with their mothers and siblings among a breathtaking scenery, always followed by some animal trying to kill them.  Samuel would say in this singsong voice "they got away - this time". You know, of course, what that means. I am not going to give away the entire movie just in case you like this type of horror, but let me say that line was repeated quite a few times throughout the movie. There is much violence, death, abandonment, tearing apart of flesh, and lots of other distressing events.  The little boy down the isle from me started out in his own seat but as time went by, he was in his parent's lap clinging to his father.

 Now, I know this is life as it is, but it did not make me feel good and I was not entertained.  The storyline was fake and maudlin, it showed males in a bad light, and other than the beautiful landscape and magnificent animals,  it was not my cup of tea. I spent two hours in a very tense position and when it was done I could not wait to leave the theater.  The good thing was that I did not take my grandchildren and give them nightmares.  Hubby and my friends loved it, so, again it is a matter of taste.  It was upsetting to me and I really needed some fine wine after that one. I do wish though that there were more vegetarian species in this world than carnivores

Right now I am remembering "Old Yeller, another heartbreaking animal movie from my time as a child..  There is an old rumor that when Walt Disney died he was frozen, hoping to come back.  With as many mothers as he and his followers have killed  off, maybe it is time to defrost.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

My Retirement, Easter

Running around like a rabbit, but doing OK

Hiding about 70 eggs in the very wet, swampy yard for my grandchildren, cooking dinner for 15, cleaning up knowing it will be messed up quickly, but enjoying it all because I am surrounded by  people who love me and life is good.

Hope everyone is having a good holiday with those they love.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

My Retirement - The Easter Bunny, And The Horror Of It All

April Showers but doing OK

Creepy Rabbit

Children holding on to parents for dear life in background















When my children were young we took them to a local park for the annual Easter egg hunt.  This is an old town where years ago most of the residents were farmers or blue-collar workers.  When it came to holidays like Memorial Day, Halloween, and Easter, there were parades and celebrations.  No matter what the economic climate was, the festivities went on, prizes were given out and the town came together.  The demographics have changed as progress (?) has come to this area via new roads and with that, more people and businesses.  Many of the farmers have sold off their land and probably retired wealthy to Florida. However, the majority of the people who have lived here for generations have remained and the celebrations still go on.

In the 35 or so years since I have been going to this local Easter egg hunt, first with my children and now my grandchildren, there has been this frightening creature walking around trying to get children to come over to it by offering the little ones a piece of candy, and colored egg or a coupon to a local ice cream establishment.  Parents try to pose their babies with E/B so they can get a picture, but most kids resist and cry.  Still the parents insist because having a photo with the scary rabbit is traditional and one they want to put besides the picture that their parent's took of them a generation ago while they screamed and cried.

There must be quite a turnover for this job as I doubt that any one person could take that much rejection. By the size of the costume, I figure it is probably a 12 to15 year old inside trying his or her best to entertain the crowd. However, it is the same every year, children hate the bunny.  It looks like something out of a horror film, as in Frank from Donnie Darko. The reaction on the kids face is similar to mine when I first saw Psycho.  The costume has deteriorated over the years and I wonder what it smells like inside the very old paper mache` mask.  I don't think anyone is paid to do this job and it is just for fun - and maybe it is a teenager who was traumatized as a child and wants to get even.  Revenge of the Rabbit is possible.


Not a big turnout this year(this was only the 8/9 yr old group) as it was about to pour rain, as usual.




Tuesday, April 19, 2011

My Retirement - Waiting to Sneeze

Stocking up on tissues, but doing OK

Achoo

I woke up this morning to the  news of the dreaded "allergy season".  I have spent the better part of the last 40 years blowing my nose.  I am allergic to the heat, the air conditioning, the spring pollen and the fall ragweed.  Cats also contribute to my very red nose and we have three in our family.  Hubby dotes on them and they calm the beast in him.  His life is better with the cats and therefore so is mine.   

Over the years I have taken most of the over-the-counter drugs along with prescription medicine and that has helped some times, mostly though the allergies have won out and sneezing and coughing are just part of my persona now.  I go nowhere without a packet of Kleenex.  There are always tissues stuck up the sleeve of my sweater (a habit of women over 50). I wear only clothes with pockets to store my always needed accessory.  I had an operation a few years ago to clean out my sinuses and I was almost allergy-free for awhile.  My voice went up 5 octaves and people did not recognize me on the phone. However, within the year, my new found higher tone returned to what sounded like Lauren Bacal after 70 years of smoking.  I have never smoked but my dad did and I wonder if that had any bearing on me and all my siblings having asthma or chronic sinus problems. 

Last year I got a terrible cough that after many visits to doctors and 7 months of trying to catch my breath, finally went away.  When people heard me coming toward them,  they made a wide berth around me.  I kept saying  "it's allergies, it's allergies, but most people acted like I might have the black plague.  It is finally gone and I have been breathing almost normally (for me), and now I go into spring feeling better than I have in a long time.  I am praying for a not-too-hot summer so we won't have 24 hour air conditioning like last year which can cause some of my misery.  Most of the trees are in bloom and the others should all be out within the week.  I am not going to listen to the pollen report and maybe not knowing how bad it is will make my body not give in.  I am going with that thought.  Ignorance is bliss.
   

Sunday, April 17, 2011

My Retirement, Hot Damn, It Is Blooming Time


Oh, my aching back, but doing OK

My Obsession
I so look forward to this season and all the joy and hope it brings.  I am a planter, a gardener and the beauty of the flowers and greenery are orgasmic to me.  As a woman and mother, the birth of anything comes from my soul and defines me.  However, when it comes to gardening,  I am over the top and admit it.  I want to cut down and be reasonable, but when I see a new plant, my heart beats a little more and all objectivity goes out the window.  Every year I tell myself and family that I will do less, but it never happens.  I find a new species, a new color and even though I have exhausted every pot I have and planted in every garden we have cut out, I walk around my yard with that one extra plant in my hand searching for a little bit more room for which to put that "needed" flower.

Being home this winter has been somewhat difficult for me.  Days could be dark and long and sometimes it did not seem possible to escape the dreariness that the season could bring.  However, I did not let it overcome me and although there have been some down times, I knew to look forward and try to be optimistic about what life had for me. Spring is now popping out all over and my time has come, but what will I do.  Cleaning out my gardens (which is the most laborious part) did a job on my back.  Yikes, the ground seems so much lower and getting up again seems like climbing a mountain.  I am not as agile as I use to be. However, my infirmities may be a cure for my over-zealousness.  It could be a blessing. We will see. 

Some of the local garden nurseries have opened, but they have mostly spring flowers now that will only bloom for a few weeks.  I know better than to invest too much money into those, although I will buy a few to put here and there to lift my spirits.  The true test for me will be when the summer annuals come in the first week of May.  I will breathe heavier, have a few heart palpitations and hopefully this year also have some common sense.  Less is more, less is more, less is more - Maybe

It could be worse, I could be a cat hoarder.


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

My Retirement - Fashionista

Warming up and doing OK

Style is my middle name.

How long do you keep clothes?  Do you still have outfits that you have only worn once or twice that you save because you might have other events where you could possibly wear them again, but you never will?  One problem is that they may no longer be the right size.  They have shrunken in the closet. Possibly this happened due to the darkness or lack of moisture, I'm not sure, but we still do not want to part with them.   I hear ya.

vintage hippy mini dressTrolling through my closet, trying to sort out what I am going to give to Goodwill, I came upon quite a few of these lovely garments that I once had to have.  Some are easy to pass on to a charity, but others I look at and have a certain level of anxiety about giving away.  I am not talking about recent items I have bought, I am speaking of "vintage".  I have gotten rid of most of those "wedding/special events outfits", but a few remain.  There is no legitimate reason for this, I will never wear them again, but I look at them with a certain longing.  I once felt good in these; they were a size I starved myself to get into, or it was for a very special occasion that I am nostalgic about.   Then there is the thought that I keep holding onto, that I will wear them again someday, even though I know they are no longer age and body appropriate. Time might have stood still in my closet, but time has not been as kind to me.  I think I might be at the point in my life where I should just consider wearing boxy outfits that are black with big flowers.

I am not a hoarder, just a sentimental old woman.  I will confess that I still have my going-away dress from my wedding almost 44 years ago, another dress that I wore on my honeymoon (and only one more time afterwards), and a really cool dress I wore to a New Years Eve's party in 1970.  I do not have my wedding dress; that was in the attic of our home that we moved from 10 years ago and hubby said that after being in that crawl space for an hour trying to find it, he gave up looking   This was definitely a one-occasion dress though, and once is enough for that.  It was possibly eaten by the four-legged critters that we would hear running around up there for years.

Hanging on to clothes is not only a woman's thing, as hubby has a bright-red ice fishing jacket that he has not worn in over fifty years still hanging in the wardrobe in our basement.  Add to this, his Air-Force outfit (got out of the service in '67), and countless shirts and ties that have laid untouched for years.

My daughters have been the recipients of some of my "fancy" clothes. They have worn them as costumes for "Back to the 80's" parties they have given.  I have not taken offense as I am sure they were celebrating my good taste even though the word costume does denote something funny. Let me just say that one was a long, gold lame` Cleopatra-type outfit with a split all the way up the side of the leg and the other was a floor-length purple, 100% polyester number with floppy sleeves. Oh, what a fashionista I was!  Today, I could not get one leg or one boob in either of them. Again, as I stated, the darkness or moisture of the closet shrunk them.

Now I have granddaughters and I took out that 70's New Year's Eve very short dress to show them what the styles were many years ago. The tag inside this dress says "Wendy of London", and because of the Beatles and the fashion they inspired, we were very into anything British during those times and I had to have it.  It probably cost all of $50, but that was a lot of money back then. It is gold threaded on a snake-skin pattern silk material with buttons down one sleeve.  I still think it is kind of neat and I will have to put it in my will for one of my three daughter - so they can keep it in their closet for 40 or so years.

I wonder why I threw away that red polka-dot hot pants outfit that I actually wore to a wedding.  They just don't make clothes like that anymore.

 Memories, from the corner of my mind, misty water colored memories, from the way we were.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

My Retirement - Being a Critic

Loving to laugh and doing OK

I love the movies.  Since I was about 8 years old, I have had an affair with the cinema. When I was young and nobody worried that you would be stolen or molested, my mother let me walk to the movies with my friend Peggy and sometimes my brother to see the Saturday matinees. The Wakefield theater may have been a mile or so away and P.S. we lived in Bronx, NY, but that was many years ago and who knew anything; there was no Internet of fear. Every week we were there with our $.35 for the show and $.12 for candy.  I always choose to eat Juju Bees because that would get you through at least one of the movies as they stuck to the teeth and it would take hours for the flavor to disintegrate.  I say one of movies, because the $.35 included an "A" listed color musical and a "B" listed (usual) gangster black and white flick.  Also included was a race (as in horse or car) serial where you had a chance to bet on a horse or car race and then some cliff-hanger serial which insured you would be back the next week with your $.47.  There were at least 2 or 3 cartoons included in the package also.  It was a great babysitter for Mom and my life was good. These weekly visits made me love everything about film and good stories. The 50's seem like an easier time (for some).

There are very few good stories for me now, even though I still love the movies. (enthralled by "The King's Speech."). Quite a few years ago I became a fan of the independent film industry because they usually make films that have real, well-written stories. However, sometimes Hollywood still comes up with a winner.  Two of my favorite movies of all times are The Color Purple and Out of Africa.  In OOA, the main characters talk about the story, and how important it is to the soul to hear a well-told tale.  It has been going on forever, from the cave drawings to Egyptian hieroglyphics to today.  The imagination is always captured in the story.  All those special effects, surreal sequences, dream within a dream and down and dirty crap cannot take it's place.  It is about the storyteller and their imagination. I grew up when times were different and not only did you share rooms with siblings but you shared beds.  Every night my sister Sue, who was so smart and imaginative, would tell me a story that she would make up on the spot. I could not go to sleep until she finished her bedtime tale.  I have been in love with "the story" ever since.

So now I am going to critique a recent movie.  All the critics have panned this latest remake, however, I really liked it.  I usually am with the press on movies and tend to go or not go to the theater based on their reviews.  However, I liked this movie and they did not.  It is called "Arthur" and stars Russell Brand and Helen Mirren.  I have no idea who else was in this movie because my eyes were focused  upon these "two actors". Now Helen Mirren  can do no wrong, that is accepted.  She is great even if she just sits there and spits.  Russell Brand is new and I just love him.  He is the Steve Martin of 30 years ago.  He is naturally funny and makes me laugh all the time. Thinking about it now though, it was the scenes with only those two actors that were the best. They did not need anybody else. The movie is close to the original which stared Dudley Moore and Liza Minnelli.  Seeing Russell Brand on TV lately plugging this movie and seeing him unscripted, I have to wonder if in the movie he is saying the written lines or just did what is natural to him.  No matter, he had me within ten minutes.  I actually did not like the original, thought it inane and not believable.  However, the new Arthur, while still being inane and not believable, had a warmth that I found lovable and soft.  The critics liked the first half but found the second part boring or whatever.  I found it kind and sweet and even though unbelievable, touched me. 

So that is what I think.  I just love a good laugh and although this is not fall on your face, double over in laughter flick, it is a fun movie that will make you smile and forget your troubles for at least the 110 minutes.  Everyone has different tastes, I am almost surprised that I like this, but then it has been a long winter and I need to laugh and escape.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

My Retirement - Skunked

"Thinking"  about making more decisions and doing OK

Hair Raising!

Recently I was speaking by phone to a good friend who I have not seen in awhile.  She has been through quite a bit in the past few years but always has a positive, sunny disposition.  She does not let things get her down and is always a delight to be around (I am so poetic).  She told me something that surprised me though and I was not sure how to react.  She let her hair go natural which is (horrors of horrors) grey.  She told me she was tired of dying her hair only to have a white stripe from the roots down the middle of her head a few weeks later.  Bravo to her, what an independent, free thinker she is, but how do you do that?  Do you let the white grow out till you are half and half?  She sent me a picture of her on a cruise and she looked absolutely beautiful.  She was cute, classy and had a stunning Farrah Faucet look going. Grey can be cool!

I remember when my Mom decided to quit the bottle (color, that is) and told us she was going back to her natural shade, which at age 70 was grey/white.  I became despondent and tried to talk her out of doing that as seeing my beloved mother looking her age was a sign to me of her mortality.  Although she had many health problems, she was such a vital, funny lady whose spirit was forever-young.  I kept trying to talk her into a temporary light-brown rinse, but she did not want my advice and was comfortable with her decision. I found that the white hair did not strip her of her joie de vivre and she lived to the ripe old age of 85 and she was beautiful.

So now I'm thinking, maybe it is time for a new look for me.  I have been a redhead since I turned 18, which is a lifetime ago.  There have been many incarnations of this red - dark, medium, light, streaked, faded, bright, dull and now, like my friend expressed, skunked.  Colors that I have used for years are not taking well to my new texture (old hair) and I seem to have a pink glow about me and then three weeks later, the white stripe is visible.  For a few years I went to a hairdresser for coloring but when the bill became $200 (with tip), I could not justify it anymore.  I also don't like sitting around in a salon for hours and then lying to the hairdresser and saying I love it when I can't wait to run out to my car and comb out the "do" they gave me.  I have to admit though that I was usually pleased with the color, so maybe I can find a less expensive salon and bite the bullet and pay a professional.  I'm thinking of going blond or doing highlights as that blends better with the roots. Besides, I am thinking red may not be age appropriate for me anymore.  I can't do the natural look though, because although my friend looked like a glamorous movie star, I would look more like the late Estelle Getty from the Golden Girls.  My mind is not ready for that.

 

Sunday, April 3, 2011

My Retirement - All Creatures, Great and Small


Making it through the fake spring and doing OK.


Birding
April Fool's Joke
To start with, I do like birds.  They are usually one of the first signs of spring and I welcome them with open arms.  However, I am not over the top about them like my hubby. I am more into mammal-like creatures and although love to see birds and give them all my leftover bread and crackers, I am not obsessed with them.  Hubby is.  I think it began  as he entered his 50's.  At that time we had been blessed with cats inherited from our children.  The kids had either moved out for a short while or were in college and felt the need to adopt cats and then bring them home to us.  Of course, within the year our children left our home but their pets did not.  We became parents all over again, this time to four-legged ones.  In order to amuse the cats, hubby put a bird feeder in a tree right out the front window.  The two left-in-our-care cats would meow and make strange noises all day long while watching all the birds feed.  We actually had a bird who would see his shadow in our window and make love to his reflection for hours at a time.  The cats were in fantasy heaven.  Hubby made sure he filled up that bird feeder twice a  day in order to amuse his feline buddies. This was the beginning of his obsession.

When all of our children were on their own, we decided to buy a larger house (makes sense, doesn't it) with more land to take care of and cultivate.   We moved to what was a farming community and more open space.  The first thing hubby did was install a few bird feeders.  As the years went by, the number of bird feeders increased. This was helped by our children and grandchildren who thought hubby needed more and more bird feeders to keep him busy.  He loved it and so did most of the Mid-Atlantic states' bird population.  If anybody can remember the movie The Birds, the Alfred Hitchcock thriller, they can imagine my yard, especially in spring.  It is a sea of birds.  I am not complaining as I love to see all the species that come and feed at our 20 or so feeders, but the bill for bird food now exceeds the cat food and dare I say, our wine bill.  Some birds that normally fly south in the winter never leave.  We have beautiful Robins most of the year and Cardinals all of the year.  Our kids also give us bird books (what do you give old people) so we can investigate all the species that feed and crap in our yard.  Again, I am not complaining, except when they destroy my flower planters that I have hanging in the trees. Of course, the trees are for the birds, and I respect their habitat, I just wish they would tilt their tail feathers in the other direction of my hanging gardens. I have now accepted that the majority of these flowers must be white so the bird droppings will blend in.

Weekend mornings and every night hubby fills three large buckets of different types of bird food and goes out to feed the starving birds of America.  I can tell you, he alone may have saved the planet from the extinction of some species. I look out the window and see him trudging around the back yard and woods in snow, rain, heat, and cold carrying what looks like very heavy buckets and I shake my head. Surely, the birds can make it for a day or two without him going out and risking his health in inclement weather.  But no, he is a man on a mission, and he is sure the birds count on him, only him.  He, though, is very particular about what types of birds eat out of each feeder.  Only finches are to eat out of the finch feeder, but doves seem to like that perch also. This is upsetting to him as he thinks the doves should know better.  I won't even mention the havoc that goes on when racoons and sqirrells swing from the newly filled feeders.  Nature has their way though and their rules are different than ours.  

American Goldfinch pictureAgain, I do love all creatures of this earth (except stink bugs, but that is another blog), cats, dogs, antelope (never saw one, but am sure I would love them), deer and giraffes - all species - and I do look forward to the migration of the birds. When I see all the bright red cardinals flying around my woods, and the finches when they turn yellow, I sigh, and say thank you hubby for bringing such beauty to my little corner of the world. 


Friday, April 1, 2011

My Retirement - Looking for some Gardening Help



Planning my gardens and doing OK

About three years ago my children gifted me with a flagstone patio.  I had wanted one for a while but was not sure how we could do it or if I really needed one as I already have a very nice deck.  One day, when they expected me to be at work but in reality I had taken a vacation day, two of my daughters and son-in-law came over with tools, a truck full of flagstone and all the equipment and supplies that it would take to install a patio. I was so oblivious as to what they were doing that I had not even noticed the truck and Bobcat going down the side of my yard. My first thought was that they were going to install a rain barrel to collect water, something that I had asked for as a birthday gift.  I did not look out my back windows to see what was happening and told them I would leave and go shopping so that they could complete their surprise.   I called hubby and met him for a day of shopping.  When we returned in about 5 or 6 hours, the patio was almost completed.  It was just what I dreamed of, and it gave me another place for a garden.  My first thought was what to plant between the stones.  I went to nurseries, asked advise from friends and family and read catalog after catalog.  I finally decided between Irish moss or step-upon thyme.  I decided on the English garden look with the moss  and, per the instructions, I thought that there would be enough shade there for the plants to grow well.   I also tried some thyme in a few areas to see how that would do.  After putting in thousands upon thousands of seeds and many plants of Irish moss, I know I have made a mistake.  The patio does get about 2 hours of sun a day and last year with the terrible heat, the moss withered and looked like straw.  I had spent many labor hours and quite a bit of money trying to cultivate these plants.  They were watered down every day, but apparently even a couple of hours of sun does them in.   This is my third year of trying to dress up this space and I am asking for advice.  The step-upon thyme did look nice in the crevasses where I planted them, however, they over-grew and I thought they looked somewhat messy and not the appearance I wanted.  However, they did very well and did not turn to straw.  The thought of getting on my knees and pulling out 3 years of work does not thrill me, but I am not happy with what I have done. I also have problems with grass and weeds growing among the moss.  I spend so much time pulling out these invasive pests.  The weeds do not seem to sprout up in the thyme though or at least are not as visible..  Unfortunately, last year, I pulled out all of the thyme and planted them in other gardens. So, it is April and I am ready to start over and tackle this problem once and for all. 

I am located in Zone 6.  Any ideas?