Category Archives: garden


a rose is a rose is a rose

A few days ago I took a walk in the dark, late at night to clear my head of a few things. Within a few blocks I found myself at the site of my former garden. It was the first time I’d been to the site since saying good-bye a few months ago. I peered through a gap in the protective fence around the construction site. The earth there had been scraped clear by bulldozers. There was not one bit of evidence of what had been there before. I cried.

It’s hard to acknowledge how deeply it broke my heart to lose my garden. I’m feeling it especially acutely this spring as I ache to have my hands in warm soil and to sow seeds.

I have so much else to keep me busy right now that there is little time to dwell on what I’ve lost. But there are those moments when it still hurts deeply. And I am grateful that I’m still surrounded by plants (in pots) to remind me of the magic of spring, even if I won’t be celebrating the blossoms of my peach tree this year.  Recently a friend brought me a plant that has flowers that close each evening and open again in the morning.  I love the symbolism of that–to know that there are those dark nights when things are closed and tight.  Yet soon enough there is the morning again: a time to be open and feel the sun.

I believe in pink…

Yesterday I posted a video by Pink (the musician) and today I’m posting a slideshow of pink (flowers, from my garden).  🙂

I believe in pink. I believe that laughing is the best calorie burner. I believe in kissing, kissing a lot. I believe in being strong when everything seems to be going wrong…I believe that tomorrow is another day and I believe in miracles.
~Audrey Hepburn

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snapshots of my week…

Last night we celebrated Le Chandeleur, a holiday with traditional religious underpinnings, but for us was a reminder to note the first signs of spring.  After an especially dramatic ‘winter’ at the Remy household, this was a lovely way to celebrate the return of the light.  And as is traditional, we celebrated with crepes (the one below being a ricotta-raspberry crepe, but we also made some equally yummy lemon-curd & fresh strawberry crepes):

The new semester began at Chapman last week so I’ve been far busier than usual. It feels good to have much to do, but it’s also overwhelming at times. Especially when we have major systems fail, as we did the first day of classes (ugh). Fortunately, I’m learning better how to troubleshoot problems with my IT team, and am becoming a better administrator:

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And to combat stress, I’m exercising everyday, including some paddling on the weekend with my team (Go Imua!).   I also did some impressive weightlifting with friends on Monday and my regular rock climbing stint on Wednesday:

With some of the residual stress from Toby’s death, I haven’t been terribly productive on my dissertation this week. However I do plan to work on it as much as possible this weekend, in addition to visits with friends both new and old. I’m finding that it’s important for me to make plans to look forward to–especially as those seed catalogs come in the mail and I remember (again and again) that I don’t have a garden to prep this spring, nor do I have my wee kitten to cozy up with in my big purple chair. In the past, the garden was what helped me keep death in perspective. When Paul, Sara, Linda, grandma, and Madge died–that garden kept me whole. I am missing that so much right now, because there’s so much hope in every peach blossom bud (and I still simply can’t believe that my peach tree is gone now, but I never have been able to face that patch of bare earth since the garden was razed)…



Sakura in the Japanese garden

For my friends who are under snow this weekend, here’s a view of cherry blossoms at the Huntington’s Japanese garden last Saturday.

The weather has been so sublime here this weekend, that I’ve spent a good deal of my time out on the water. How about you, what are you up to this weekend?

feeling blue…

Today in sunny Pasadena, rambling through the Huntington gardens, one can’t help but feel more than a little bit blue.  By blue I don’t mean sad, I mean staring into the blue blue sky and being overwhelmed with its beauty blue (my thoughts in this vein inspired by William Gass–many thanks to David for the recommendation & my very own copy of On Being Blue):

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Show me a garden that’s bursting into life…

This song by Snow Patrol came on the radio on a morning that I had a long drive across LA last week. Though I’m not typically one to become enchanted with popular songs, the lyrics of this one just hit me, as I realized how they expressed much of my emotional confusion from the past few weeks. In particular, I thought of the ways friends embraced and supported me while I felt so insecure in the days after John left me.  A huge thank you to all of who have taken time out of your lives (the long talks, the letters, the poems, the soaks in hot tubs, the care packages, the strolls through the garden, the hours spent at my side) and who have simply cared about mine.  You are all so beautiful and generous…

I need your grace
To remind me
To find my own…
Forget what we’re told
Before we get too old
Show me a garden that’s bursting into life

xoxo Monday

This morning was a tough one–I had a wonderful day with the kids yesterday, so returning to my solitary life was hard. I was feeling a bit sorry for myself, so I indulged in some time sitting on the sunporch petting a purry kitty. Letting myself just be where I am right now. (oh my, I’m sounding awfully new-agey)…

But then I packed up and got myself out the door and on to work. As I was driving, I noticed at nearly every intersection there was a mass of rose bushes. I was simply enjoying this–the textures and colors of the roses as I waited for lights to turn green–when it hit me. Duh. I landed in the City of Roses for this month of transition. And all of a sudden I felt as if the universe had just picked me up and given me a huge bear hug and sloppy wet kiss on the cheek.

(PS: This story that I wrote quite awhile ago when I was active in the LDS church, explains why roses are so important to me)

Separation (or, some big changes ahead for our family)

rose archOne of my favorite parts of my garden was my climbing rose.  I’d dug this plant out of the flowerbed in our old apartment.  The gardeners kept whacking the rose to the ground (it wasn’t part of the landscaping) and it just kept growing back.  Whack-grow-whack-grow.  Finally one day I took a trowel and dug up as much of its root system as I could, and took it to my garden plot.  It thrived and soon became a beast of a bush with runners everywhere.  I tied them into a column and trained them over to a post on the other side of a path to form an arch.  During the summer that I was sick, it was this rose bush that I thought about most often.  It brought such joy to me.  I’d decided  that when John and I re-married (which we planned to do given that our Mormon temple marriage was so meaning-less to us after leaving the LDS church), I wanted to stand under that arch.

So a few weeks ago when our community garden was slated to be demolished, I left that rose arch as the last thing I dug out.  It was so big, I figured there was no way I could extract it from the soil and put it into a pot.  Some friends who were helping me with the garden said that they would try to rescue it for me, because they knew how much I loved that plant.  They dug away at that thing for well over an hour, we had to cut some of the roots with a hacksaw to get the main plant out.  But it seemed well-worth the effort for such a special rose…

roses, facing the sunWhen I took pictures in my garden, I nearly always used the macro setting.  I liked to get close and see the details and patterns.  The veins and textures.  To spy small insects.  To lose myself in a flower.  I never did very well with pictures that showed the entire garden.  They were too complicated and messy.  The showed the tools and the weeds and the plants that hadn’t been watered well enough.  Instead, I made my images close and tight and narrow.  I saw what I wanted to see.  That’s the PollyAnna in me, I suppose.  I have an astute ability to shape the world into something that matches my expectations.  While I don’t think that’s always a bad thing–and it’s certainly an excellent coping mechanism that I’ve honed after years of pain and discouragement–I am quickly learning that it has its downside.

All of my plants have stories.  If you point to one and ask me about it, I’ll tell you who gave it to me, how long I’ve had it, and lots of other details about its growing habits.  I especially love to tell the stories of my roses.  It wasn’t until I was watering all of my rosebushes this morning that I realized something I hadn’t thought of before.  Not one of them was given to me by John.  In fact, I didn’t have any plants from him in my garden.  I’m not saying that there’s necessarily anything wrong with that–John is not a garden person and he rarely visited my plot.  But I think that’s part of this big picture that’s sort of hitting me between the eyes right now.  Our priorities and passions are so different.  I’ve seen what I want to see for so long.  Made assumptions.  Framed stories a particular way.  Molded my interactions with my spouse to fit a rosy narrative in my head.

Perhaps its enough to say that I don’t even know if John knew that I wanted to marry under that arch.  Perhaps its enough to say that I was so wrapped up in what I saw through the lens of my camera, that I wasn’t aware of what he saw through his–although over time I had noticed that we were no longer pointing our viewfinders in the same direction.  Perhaps there really isn’t anything to say now, except that I am sans garden and sans John.  He’s chosen to leave our marriage.  As of a few days ago we are officially Separated, with plans to divorce.

I don’t think I’ve intentionally killed a plant before, but I’m realizing that I can’t continue watering the climbing rose.  However, I don’t actually think it matters.  The plant is nearly dead already.  It couldn’t stand the shock of being uprooted and transplanted.

Note: I’m closing comments on this post.  If you are tempted to discuss my family’s situation on Twitter or Facebook or blogs, please keep in mind that our children also follow their parents online.  Please respect our privacy. You may contact me directly at janaremyATgmail.


Last night’s dreams were the most vivid that I’ve had in a long while.  It was one of those times when you know you’re dreaming, but you’re also very immersed in the world and letting it thrill you.  I went to my garden and found it untouched, the blue gate still hanging a bit crookedly on its post.  The moon was full and I was simply there, greeting each little nook and cranny.  It’s similar to the dreams I have after a loved one dies–often I’ll spend a long night with them, saying good-bye.

Then when I went out to greet the myriad of rescued garden plants on my porch, I found the first two roses blooming since the move:
quilt and garden 053

quilt and garden 043

And then there was this bright burst of oranger-than-orange saying “good morning:”
quilt and garden 058


I’ve been thinking about orange this morning.  How about you?

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