Thursday, November 20, 2008

Another trip down that dusty road

The end of an era.

The ground is covered in snow and it reminds me of the days, Carole and I spent together, not in Mexico, but in our own backyard greenhouse.

I was a plant manager in a large brass foundry, responsible for all Production, Carole was a sales order clerk in a huge shoe warehouse. We both got downsized with in two months of each other after 25 years. Both industries have since closed.

Our business since we left industry has been flowers. Hanging baskets, patio containers and bedding plants.

Here is how we got to that point in our lives.
We were driving down the road one day and seen a sign advertising a greenhouse for sale.
Carole said, “You always enjoyed your garden, why don’t you buy that greenhouse, give you something to do”. So! I did.

Sometimes, spur of the moment reactions come with little thought. What am I going to grow in a 100 foot long greenhouse? First things first, I had to remove it, and assemble it on my property. Damn! if I wasn’t energetic back then. We did all the work, electrics, fans, pumping system, furnaces and drip irrigation. I probably broke every building code in the book. All you really buy in a greenhouse is the metal hoops, then purchase plastic to close it all in.

Okay! So now I have a greenhouse; what now? Well I went and seen the fellow I bought it from, and asked for ideas. He said, “why not grow flowers, I have some extra trays of Impatient plugs, I will sell you”. Okay, “sold.” What do I do with them? “Put them in pots of soil, Silly, I will sell you some of that also”. Our first year growing was a blast; I started a way too early and heating the greenhouse with an old oil furnace, was frightful. I had a half a dozen nervous breakdowns and kicked the cat a few times. Of course, the better half seemed to be able to sleep through the night. She would say things like, “don’t worry, it will all work out and stop kicking the cat.” All did work out. Damn! I hate it when she is always right.

We put up three more greenhouses and had a wonderful time working together. Friends, use to enjoy coming out and helping to plant. Carole would put on a big meal and I would buy a case of beer, it was like a big party. We had a ball. Two of my very best friends died in the past couple of years. Good friends are hard to come by, I really miss them.
By this time, we were so experienced at planting, Carole and I could handle it by ourselves, but that fun time was gone.

Now with Carole having some serious health issues, it is time to give it up.
We stopped growing last year, but our daughter got into the business a half dozen years after we started, and is very successful. I always tease her, that she seen her old man make a couple of bucks and wanted a piece of the action. Actually! I could never have done as well, without her. She had the buying experience to acquire new varieties as they became available. Big companies don’t like to deal with small operations...
I could put my operation in the corner of hers.

One point I would like to make, growing is the easy part, marketing the product is the toughest. Quality is the key to success. People say we had the best.
I might as well take credit for something

Here are some pictures of what we do. Or should I say what we did.

Our greenhouses in winter

A distant view of the greenhouses in nicer weather.

Carole putting handles on pots. The heat is not turned on yet until we start planting

Here I am hanging large Moss pots.

Carole cleaning Geraniums.

Pots waiting to be planted.

Plants have grown ready for sale.

We grew a large variety of mixes, someone will always want a mix you may not have.

Get a load ready.

It is sales & shipping time got to load the truck. The most physical part of the business.

Here is that Moss pot you seen me hanging. It is finished and ready for sale.
A small example of our baskets.

Osteosperum Baskets were a big hit.

Petunia basket.

Petunia baskets are very showy.

Window boxes. growing these; they took up too much floor space and were hard to ship.

Begonia basket, this basket is small but they get beautiful.

Just what we wanted a customer. Hope she buys something.

My daughters greenhouse.

It is with sadness that we quit growing. Those wintery days in the greenhouse were therapy. Of course I could go work for my daughter, she grows a few baskets.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Another passing season

Another season has quickly passed us by. I am sure it is not completely over, but when I awaken and step outside to see frost, who! is going to quibble about a few days.
All that work I had set aside for cooler weather....Well! “pitter, patter, lets get at er”

The good woman decided new carpets in the computer room were necessary.
So! up with the old and in with the new. Move everything out, rip up the baseboards and get out the paint brush. Hell, I thought she said carpets not reconstruction. Will us guys never learn. women talk with forked tongue.
I was down for a few days, out of action. no computer! I was having withdrawal symptoms. Slowly, I have been putting it all back together. Great time to organize the piles., although! now, I can’t find a damn thing.
Does look much nicer.

She is full of good ideas. Now, she is talking about re-doing a bedroom. Maybe! I could slap her in the head with a shovel, and bury the bones out behind the barn. It would be less work, but then! I would be without a best friend, one who cooks, cleans, does the laundry and is the best painter around. If only she would clean fish! It is hard to improve, perfection.

Time away from the Honey-do list.
You gotta love the colors of fall.

A hike through the open bush trail is great on a pleasant Sunday afternoon.

I love this view from a local restaurant.

My travels always take me to the lake sooner or later.

Now I feel rejuvanated. Bring on the other rooms.
In fact I feel so good, I think I will go fishing.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Cool Dreams

Dreaming about Isla Mujeres, Mexico

Sitting around on a cool rainy fall day, dreaming of the island we love. So out came some pictures. Many fond memories are captured in photos. Reviewing the pictures, I can feel the sand between my toes a cold Cervesa in my hands and a seafood plate before me.
Life is great on Isla Mujeres.

Isla Mujeres the Island of Women commonly referred to, as just- Isla.

Isla is situated off Cancun approximately 8 miles across the Bay of Bahia de Mujeres..
Travel to and from the island is by ferry companies that run regular schedules every half hour. Ferry service is excellent and reasonable.

Leaving Grand Puerto ferry dock on Cancun side of Bay.

Arriving on Isla.

The original ferry arrives. Visitors have the option of two ferry services. That is what makes moving passengers so efficient.
Old ferry arrives.

Isla is not a big island at approximately 5 miles long by ½ mile wide at its widest.
There is no lack of taxi’s servicing the island. Also, golf cart rentals & mopeds are available. Down town area is small and located in the north end, east to west from shore to shore. Excellent shopping and a zillion restaurants to treat your taste buds. Everything, from pizza to excellent catch of the day seafood, and steaks to tacos is available. A lot is crammed into a few blocks of commercial bliss. Just don’t expect a lot of Cancun style night life.

You gotta love Petey the parrot at the French Bistro.

A stroll down Hidalgo St. where many shops and restaurants are located.


What is so special about Isla besides awakening to a beautiful sunrise morning.


Sunrise 3

Or to go dining after a beautiful romantic sunset.



Everything between sunrise and sunset is memorable.

There are excellent beaches for the swimmer, snorkeler, beachcomber and sunbather.
The hurricane of 2006 did major damage to some of the pristine beaches but they are still alive and well.

North Beach before the hurricane.

North Beach after the hurricane.
Beach to turtle farm

I am hard pressed to think of what is not available on Isla. The once sleepy serene little fishing village, is a tourist destination of day trippers from Cancun or the Rivera.
High rise hotels & condos are springing up all over the island. But this once small fishing village has retained a special charm.

The Avalon complex was the largest on the island until the recent building boom. The Avalon is located on the extreme northeast corner of the island.
Avalon 1

The bridge to Avalon.

Avalon bridge

Inside Avalon grounds.

Some of the pictures may be a couple of years old. That can happen when they get stored in one album. I have not captured the commercial rise, I am more interested in Isla serenity. I hope you enjoy the pictures.

Mayan people used the island as a sanctuary.
A Mayan woman taking her sales to the beach people.

Bikini Inspection is a daytime job.

Playa Lancheros is the place for great tixs & chix, a whole open fired seafood treat.

Many pictures are of the beaches in various areas of the island.
Stroll along beaches to the southwest.
Along the west side at Crystal Mar


Mar y Sol Beach (west side)
Mar y Sol beach

Playa Lancheros pier.

Snorkel beach Garafon castilla
Snorkling Garafon

Rugged but beautiful Punta sur
Punta sur coast line1

South end – Punta sur walkway.
Punta sur walk

A Mar y sol neighborhood.



Zama Beach Club
Zama's View

View from Zama’s pier.

The rugged east coast line.
Punta Sur coastline

Punta pierdra beach.
Punta P beach

Punta Pierdra back view. (note - they were building next door when picture was taken)
Punta Pierdra back view

Back to Avalon and a view of the east coast, plus Rock house.
Avalon backshoreline

This will tie me over for a while, feel like I walked around the island.
Good Bye Isla, till next time.