It’s all about the Gin…or the Jin

My first bonsai before repotting

My first bonsai – a juniper, before repotting

Without much planning, or consideration of the fact that I am now officially Mrs. Doc B., I am noticeably (subconsciously?) cultivating hobbies that start with the letter B. I guess it’s no wonder since I grew up with interests that included banana seat bike riding, basketball, breakdancing (yeah, right) and basking in the sun.

In no specific order, here’s what I’ve got going on now: book reading, bail-bonding, binge-watching (Breaking Bad, Orange is the New Black and House of Cards), blogging, back bending, bird watching (with really cool early 50th birthday binoculars), and let’s not forget beer, Baileys, Bacardi, and most recently, bonsai. Let’s just hope this trend doesn’t lead to bowling, bagpiping, or bedazzling. Though I might like bridge?

My first bonsai - now it the pot, but before styling

My first bonsai – now in the pot, but before styling

Bonsai is the most recent hobby, or ART, as I’m corrected repeatedly. I wasn’t intending to add another time-consuming, money-draining, lifelong interest to my recreational realm, especially now. And by now I mean at the same time that I’ve decided to continue to pay big bucks to have my gray hair color treated and conditioned AND we’ve decided to own FIV positive kitties with, names like Butter Bean, who cost $500 every time you take them to the vet.

Despite my super powers, I must have let a microscopic suggestion of bonsai curiosity push past my wallet (the one that was tucked deep in my backpack, jammed behind the seat of my 10-year old Ford Ranger, that’s affectionately known as the wheelbarrow, the dump truck, the Home Depot Shuttle or more recently, Cuteness Everdeen; oh wait, that last one is what I call Doc B.)

during it's first month

My first bonsai, during it’s first month

Meanwhile, Doctor R. wasted no time. He latched on to that hint of interest and took me swiftly under his maple-leafed, de-candled, back-budded wing… and into the bonsai cult. He was Ralph Waldo Emerson and I was Henrietta Deva Thoreau. Or maybe he was Batman and I was Robin? Okay, let’s be honest, he was Michael Landon and I was Melissa Gilbert (wishing I were Elizabeth Gilbert).

bonsai benches - home made with reclaimed wood

bonsai benches – home made with reclaimed wood

Doctor R. started by inviting me to a class he was teaching at the Monastery where he helped me with my first tree (a charming little juniper that is still alive almost two years later).  Now he gives me trees, shares his supplies, lets me assist in repotting some pretty dang pricey trees, trusts me with his expensive pot, I mean pots, and chauffeurs me to the Atlanta Bonsai Society monthly meetings at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens. The latter was my bonsai demise.  After just a couple of meetings, and before I knew what Chinese Elm limb had hit me, I was hurriedly voted in as the corresponding secretary.  At this point, I barely knew the difference between deciduous and conifer, Ryan Neil and Ryan O’Neal, and I for sure didn’t yet know the difference between gin and jin.

At my initial meetings, I kept hearing about making gin, and since I am Tipsy Yogi, I was intrigued. Would we be making Tanqueray gimlets at each meeting? Would I need to bring my own Vera Wang Wedgwood Martini glass?  Would we be shaking or stirring? As it turns out, it’s about making a jin, not gin.

Jins, I later learned, are short stubs of deadwood that remain after a branch is broken by wind, snow, weight, or lightening. You can mimic Mother Nature and make them yourself, AND they look cool. My very first juniper has one. And my second juniper, now totally deadwood (as in croaked and composted), had a bunch of them too.

my juniper's jin

a close up of my first juniper’s jin

my second juniper - died last winter.

my second juniper – died last winter.

I love learning about bonsai. But let me warn you, if you are taking up bonsai as a way to decrease your alcohol consumption, you may want to avoid junipers. When you make a jin on a juniper, the cuts smell like a nicely chilled rocks glass of Aviation gin with no twist needed.

Well, guess I can now go back to listening to Doc B. recite the 32 anatomical parts of the body forward and backward.  Head hairs, body hairs, nails, teeth, skin…

My juniper today, two years later

My first juniper today, two years later



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