I Call It Keeping My Sanity

Hubby calls it expensive.  I’m talking about my hobbies over the years.  I’ve dabbled in my fair share.  Horses and showing, shooting and hunting, fishing, sailing, starting businesses, selling businesses, showing my dog, raising snakes and iguanas, refinishing stuff, ceramics, flower arranging, growing roses, culinary classes, gardening, showing my dog again, training my dog to track, yadda yadda yadda, the list goes on.

It drives my husband crazy. I jump feet first into whatever it is at the moment that captures my fancy and immerse myself until I have mastered it or in some cases, just become bored by it all. But for me, there is always something exciting around the corner.  I am always involved in something. I can’t not be.

A few years ago I made the decision to re-populate my back yard with an abundance of flowering containers and flower beds.  I’ve only had moderate luck growing things. Stuff dies on me.  Usually because I forget to water it. Or move it out of the sun. Basically, I have never possessed a green thumb. But when I decided to redo my garden, I also made the decision to educate myself and make the commitment to actually care for the flora.

My kids and hubby shook their heads.  “You kill everything, mom!”

I’d show them.  And I did. I researched everything. I love research.  LOVE. IT!  And I paid attention to those flowers. I gave them what they needed, not what I thought they wanted.  Despite my best intentions, and due diligence, I lost about half of my plants and flowers that first year.  But the following spring I was ready to give it another go, and by the time early summer rolled around, my garden was worthy of the cover of Home and Garden. I’d stand out front in the mornings with a cup of coffee and gloat as I gazed upon my luscious begonias, fat purple hydrangeas, and velvety lilies. I did the same out back, but more. My bougainvilleas were two stories tall and in constant righteous bloom.  My angel’s trumpet was glorious. My containers of impatients, dahlias, and daisies overfloweth.  It was amazing to behold.  And I did it.  But I had help. My father-in-law.  Dad and I spent hours and hours selecting the right plants, soil and fertilizer. But when dad passed away that summer, my garden died with him. I didn’t care about the flowers. I didn’t care about much of anything.  

The following spring, I had no urge to plant.  Not one seed. Not one bloom. So, I didn’t.  The left overs from the previous year barely eeked out an existence in my yard. But by fall, I realized I missed my garden. I missed my quiet time. I missed spending that time with myself. And by its pathetic appearance, my garden missed me too. But it was too late to plant.  So I stared planning for this spring.  I’ve mapped out where my container veggie garden is going. I’ve begun to collect begonia and dahlia bulbs. I’m picking up a half a dozen half wine barrels Friday for my tomatoes and dwarf lemon trees. But my prize project this spring is to populate the area around my koi pond with orchids.

I have become obsessed with orchids!  It started in October in Kauai.  There’s this great little place called Orchid Alley in Kapa’a. I just knew as I talked to the grower that my climate would be perfect for many types of orchids!  I visualized my yard bursting with exotic fragrant blooms! I wanted it so bad I could taste it! I felt like Ralphie from A Christmas Story. I was going to get my Red Ryder no matter what!

  Hubby saw the glint in my eyes and my brain cells smoking as I mentally planned it all.  He shook his head and put his hands up.  “No! You’re not doing this again.”

I think that’s what he said. I wasn’t paying attention.  Since then, I have become obsessed with learning everything I can about orchids.  Everything!  I’ve been in contact with local growers.  I’ve been to one orchid show.  I’m going to another next weekend and in February, the mother of all orchid shows is being held in San Francisco.  Whoo hoo! Virtually my backyard!  How fortuitous is that?  (not so much for hubby, he groaned when I told him)

Of course I couldn’t help myself. I’ve already purchased a few orchids. Ok, six in the last couple of months.

And guess what?  They’re all in bloom!  And staying in bloom.  Some have lovely fragrances while others are just beautiful to gaze upon.  Each one has a different requirement and each one is thriving. They look healthy and happy.  I love making my daily rounds and I can’t wait to add to my collection.  I’m chomping at the bit for this weather to break so I can start working outside.

I find great solace in caring for those lovelies.  It isn’t hard either.  In fact, orchids are damn easy.  It’s just knowing what they want.  Their likes and dislikes, and respecting it.  Just like in any relationship.

And while my husband continues to roll his eyes, he doesn’t get on my case about the time and money spent.  My orchids keep me occupied. They make me happy. I look at taking care of them as indoor gardening for now.  I can clear my head when I tend my plants.  I work plot points out, or character issues or realize I need to go back and add a pertinent fact I overlooked.  Gardening gives me peace.  It zenifies my world.  In so doing, it makes life for those around me livable. I’m no fun to be around when I’m stressing.

I realized that I have always had some outlet, something that was just mine.  Something that challenged me, and gave me a great sense of accomplishment when I became successful at it.  I’m not sure which part of the process I like better: the journey, or sipping the coffee once it all comes to fruition. I think it’s a combination of both.  It certainly can be said for my writing.  I love to research and develop my characters and plot.  Then there is the challenge of the actual writing of the story.  But when I get that book in my hands for the first time, it’s damn satisfying, and I can’t wait to do it all over again!

What about you?  Do you have a hobby you’re passionate about?

About Karin Tabke aka Karin Harlow

Award winning author Karin Tabke isn’t just another author with steamy stories to tell, but a cop’s wife who has “seen it all and heard it all.” Karin also writes paranormal romance as Karin Harlow with her L.O.S.T. series hailed as paranormal romantic suspense at its “chilling and sizzling” best.
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23 Responses to I Call It Keeping My Sanity

  1. Edie Ramer says:

    Karin, good for you for taking the time. I don’t know how you do it. Sometimes my life seems to be consumed by the book I’m writing. Can I count “reading” as a hobby?

  2. Cynthia Eden says:

    I’m with Edie–I don’t know how you do it, but I sure admire you for finding the time to pursue things that excite you!
    Cynthia Eden`s last blog was …BOUND IN SIN–Available for the Nook

  3. Those are gorgeous, Karin. I had an orchid once, but between living in a drafty house in Michigan and my neglect of him, he didn’t live long. Poor Oberon.

    I have a few hobbies, but nothing I’m really passionate about. Okay, maybe I’m getting to the point where my photography is a passion. But it’s hard to get passionate about things like crocheting. Genealogy took up the better part of a month last year, but once I tracked back as far as I could, the passion piffled.
    B.E Sanderson`s last blog was …Choices and Excuses

  4. beth watson says:

    Your flowers are gorgeous Karin. Helps brighten up dreary winter days. I could really use some bright purple flowers around the house right now. Thinking a bouquet of anything would brighten up my office. Will have to do that. :-)

    I am passionate about tracing my Irish rellies. I’m obsessed with genealogy research. I’ve been up till 3am on Ancestry.com and Irish research sites. However, I’ve traced 3 lines forward so far and I’m going back to Ireland for the 3rd time this year to meet more rellies. So I have alot to show for my efforts. It’s fulfilled me over the past 3 years when my writing hasn’t and I’m lucky to have had the hobby even though it’s been quite expensive.

    Hobbies are critical to our sanity!

    • Beth, I always have fresh flowers of some sort in my house. It’s another one of the things my husband rolls his eyes about.

      Genealogy is something I have been toying with for almost a year now. I know it’s going to get me in trouble! But how fun for you making trips back to Ireland. I’m half Irish…maybe your rellies know mine?
      Karin* Tabke aka Harlow!`s last blog was …National Bestseller

  5. Jill James says:

    Writing was my hobby, that became my life. I’ve written since I was a little girl and to now get paid for what I love to do is beyond awesome.
    Jill James`s last blog was …Blog The Writer – Celia Yeary

  6. Lee Lopez says:

    I’ve tried to raise orchids and managed to kill them. The one I do have growing and thrives is my mom’s. I brought it home after she passed, and it blooms every February, without fail.
    I’ve done like you. I’ve started and stopped hobbies. I always have something going, but one that has stuck with me since I was a child, is knitting. I constantly have something going all the time. It’s relaxing for me, and isn’t that expensive.

  7. Misty Evans says:

    Those flowers are beautiful, Karin! I have an orchid that blooms about 6 months out of the year and I love it. So easy to take care of (I have to keep it in the house during the winter since I live in the Midwest) and showy blooms that always give me a lift.

    I’m a Gemini so I jump around from hobby to hobby. Right now, I relearning how to knit on a loom and making myself a hat. It’s fun and relaxing and I like having a project that is straightforward and has a definite end in sight.

    Thanks for sharing your pictures and story with us. I love a gal who goes all out no matter what she’s doing!

  8. Liz Kreger says:

    First off, the orchids are gorgeous, Karin. I’m jealous. I have a very green thumb, but not for orchids. Don’t have the time, the space or the patience. I do however, love working in my garden. I just cannot wait for March/April or even May to roll around so that I can start getting my hands and feet dirty. I find it relaxing.

    I find reading to be relaxing for me. Nothing better than vegging on the sofa, hot cocoa in one hand and a good book in the other. Sheer bliss.

    • Thanks, Liz. And as someone who has seen your garden, I know just how beautiful it is! I hope you post pictures when it’s in full bloom

      Oh, and don’t be afraid of orchids, they’re easy once you know what they need.

  9. Brenda Hyde says:

    You DO have a green thumb if you can grow orchids. They frighten me, and I have a green thumb :lol:

    I started gardening when we bought our first house and my boys were only 2 and 3. I was stressed, had no money and wasn’t online at the time. I bought herbs for .50 off the bargain rack, and family gave me plants. I found out that playing in the dirt calmed me. It’s been over 15 years since then and I STILL love gardening. I am very messy– I sit down by my beds and weeds-half the time I forget gloves and just dig with my hands. LOL It still calms me:)
    Brenda Hyde`s last blog was …Home, Home on the Range…

    • Brenda, I swear orchids are not scary! I say that after I freaked out this morning when I discovered my miltoniopsis had a yellow leaf!

      One of the things I love most about getting down and dirty with my flora friends is that same calming affect you get. I love it. I’m planting a huge herb garden this year along with the windowsill one I always plant in my kitchen. I’m even toying with the idea of a small greenhouse…
      Karin* Tabke aka Harlow!`s last blog was …National Bestseller

  10. Karin! I have orchids, too! :) Three at the moment. And they are doing really well. Happy as Larry.

    My father used to have an entire greenhouse full of orchids. I guess I’m not scared of them because I spent my childhood helping him water them and give them what they needed.

    At the moment, my ‘hobby’ out of necessity is home improvements. I’m fairly good at tiling, now :) .
    Michelle Diener`s last blog was …Talking about the call to adventure in KEEPER OF THE KING’S SECRETS

  11. ohhhh! orchids! I have one but it hasn’t bloomed since I got it. Any suggestions?

    As for hobbies… i have too many! And they add up. Right now its painting and jewelry making.

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