With Gratitude for The Spy

Former Adkins Director, Ellie Altman, to be Honored by Chesapeake Conservation Landscaping Council


On November 12, 2015, Ellie Altman, recently retired Director of Adkins Arboretum, will become the second recipient of the Marcy Damon Conservation Landscaping Award. The award, given by the Chesapeake Conservation Landscaping Council (CCLC), a regional non-profit, recognizes Altman for her role in the conception of the CCLC, her long time commitment to conservation landscaping and environmental education, and the recent publication of the book “Chesapeake Gardening and Landscaping: The Essential Green Guide”, by Barbara W. Ellis.

Screen Shot 2015-11-03 at 8.08.07 AMThe award will be presented by Britt Slattery, the recipient of the previous award who was also instrumental in founding the CCLC. The presentation will take place at the Welcome Dinner preceding CCLC’s 2015 Turning a New Leaf Conference on Friday, November 13, at the Sheraton Baltimore North Hotel in Towson, Maryland. The conference educates professionals on sustainable landscaping and development best practices.

The Marcy Damon Conservation Landscaping Award was created by the CCLC to honor former Council chair and Maryland naturalist and educator, Marcy Damon. Damon passed away in 2013 from acute myeloid leukemia. Damon spent many years contributing passionately to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s effort to “Save the Bay,” and her dedication to sustainable landscaping, habitat preservation, and environmental education was inspirational.

Altman, as Director of the Adkins Arboretum, steered the mission towards educating the public about conservation landscaping, played a role overseeing the First Stop for the Bay campaign, and oversaw the project to create the book “Chesapeake Gardening and Landscaping: The Essential Green Guide”, which took several years from idea to fruition. The book is a comprehensive guide on how to create more eco-friendly landscapes.

CCLC encourages individuals, businesses and organizations to join the non-profit organization. For more information and to register for the dinner and the conference, visit http://www.chesapeakelandscape.org/new-leaf.

A Reader’s Survey

What the heck, just for the full of it. Curiosity takes the winning hand. One must test the  bells and whistles as they learn a new skill. For me that is WordPress. Hope to hear from you!


Does Your Face Hurt?

When I was child, my father would ask me, “Does your face hurt?” I’d look at him and shrug my shoulders to express, “Huh? I don’t know.” Then he would answer his own question of me, “Well, it is killing me.” Wasn’t this a sad thing to tell a well-behaved pretty daughter? I understood his playful intent, but it was so nonsensical, I did not know how to play back. When I had not response, we would move onto something else.

Now at 64 my face does hurt. There is a paper-thin ring of fatigue, sadness and regret around my eyes, which are small under the folds of my heavy eyelids, heavy from defying gravity for six decades. You cannot live this long without lots of pain and loss. Any day, anytime, anywhere, I close my eyes and luxuriate in resting.

My face aches from heaviness. I work to hoist a smile on my face, so that it does not appear to hurt. That would be too sad to bear. I follow the sage advice of my mother, “acting as if makes it so,” and I smile and the whole world smiles with me.

Redefining “Going Postal”

Mailboxes on NC 80, Celo, North Carolina

Mailboxes on NC 80, Celo, North Carolina

At the counter, the postal clerk grabbed the box and tore it open as she said, “You do not need to spend this much money.” It all happened so fast, there was no time to say, “Let me think about this.” When it was too late, only then did she ask, “What is it?” Nevertheless, she did not wait for a response and declared she would put whatever it was in an envelope. “See it will save you $5,” she declared confidently as the cash register displayed the balance due. The expensive gray-blue cashmere wrap addressed to a special customer would arrive balled up and wrinkled in a packing envelope. It was wrapped beautifully with tissue paper, a business card and logo sticker and protected in a standard mailing box—an elegant item deserving an elegant package.

This drive-by assault left me in its wake feeling bewildered. How had I become a victim? Someone had undermined the best of intentions, and I had no words to defend a position.

The experience redefined “going postal.”


The lessons from this brief encounter:

1                 Avoid being a victim by saying “Wait, let me think about this.” This is an appropriate request that will buy time in any situation to make a good decision.

2                  Don’t “go postal” in assuming you know what another person needs, wants or is thinking.

The First Day of the Rest of My Life—Still in Draft Form

This morning with my usual out-of-the-bed optimism and enthusiasm, I opened email a few minutes before six and decided to take marketing guru Bernadette Jiwa’s blog’s challenge to write a personal mission statement.

It is going to be another great day!

My Mission

To connect with and serve others by doing what matters (to me) to make the world beautiful and life inspirational

 My Vision

Universal health and beauty

This reads like an international beauty products conglomerate’s mission and vision. I’m comfortable in old Birkenstocks, so it is impossible to imagine being in that world. Yes, to finding beauty in restoring shine to tableware or a floor, and yes, to seeing nature’s beauty through new lens, but a beauty that requires covering over and covering up or swallowing or lathering products, not so much. Well maybe sometimes. My life is still in draft form.