Friday, August 26, 2016

A BUTTERFLY CLOUD, THE HUMMINGBIRD EMPEROR, AND A GRAND WACKY TIME


It's still hot summertime here, but this season is winding down.  I saw my first Monarch butterfly of the season today. My camera is never where I am when there are butterfly encounters.  The butterflies are especially tame right now.  I walked past the zinnia bed yesterday, and I was softly surrounded by a small cloud of several bright yellow butterflies.  One of them wing-brushed my face...Enchantment.

The hummingbirds wage war on each other over the zinnia beds.  The tiniest hummingbird of all is the most territorial.  He is the Emperor of the Zinnias.  He feasts on zinnia nectar, and when he has his fill, he briefly perches on a small bare spruce branch and oversees the Zinnia Kingdom.  Any hummingbirds that trespass are immediately attacked as he loudly chirps hummingbird expletives at them.  After he scares them away, he refreshes himself at his zinnias and then returns to his branch to keep guard.

It's been so humid, it seems like the flowers could just suck the moisture out of the air, and save me the daily watering.  The petunias are pitiful.  Some of them may revive when it cools down.  The roses are sending up only a few small blooms, and even the mighty zinnias are tattered and leggy.  The goldfinches feast on the seeds/petals daily, leaving petal confetti in their wake.

On the upside, my crepe myrtles are blooming beautifully. The ornamental sweet potato vines, glowing yellow green and maroon are in their glory, bright and fresh-leafed. 

We've had our grandson here several times this summer.  Kids seem to grow fast in summer.  He is six years old now.  His face is changing.  His baby face is almost gone now, only to be glimpsed when he is sleeping.

Recently, when he was here, we were outside watering the flowers and playing with the garden hose.  We have a wacky hose that takes on a wild life of it's own if you happen to drop it or hold it lower down than the nozzle.  I have gotten a surprise super soaking with it several times.  It surprised my grandson, too, he was holding the nozzle and everything was fine.  Then he grabbed it lower down on the hose and it went wild. It sprayed him right in the face, and then all over the place.  He thought it was hilarious.

I'm starting to miss summertime and it's not even completely over yet.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

SUMMER SERENITY


My flower garden was lush earlier this week.

Even in a small flower garden, serenity thrives.

Summer is passing quickly. The cicadas' call marks the time.  Last night I was surprised to see a few lightning bugs rising up out of my zinnias.  It has been so hot and humid here that the robins, chickadees, and even the squirrels sit around on the tree branches and ground looking deflated, mouths open, trying to catch their breath.

On days when the thunderstorms miss us, and the sun hammers down, I spray the spruce tree branches with water and water the ground beneath the old spruce.  The shade and the coolness of the water in the branches seems to drop the temperature there under the tree a bit.  The birds and squirrels all gather round under the tree in their shady little oasis. They crave the cool, misted shade so much that they don't fear me.

This is my favorite zinnia of the season so far.  I am hoping to be able to save some seeds from it.  It is the prettiest, bright, clear pink coral color.  It came from a packet of California Giant Zinnias.

I hope everyone is having a wonderful summer.



Sunday, February 14, 2016

HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY!...AND A GROUNDHOG DAY CAKE?


It's Valentine's Day! I hope everyone is having a wonderful day.  

Snow is sifting down outside my window.  The little snowbirds are blown around like dried leaves when the wind gusts..  A large chattering of starlings are scratching in the snow for food, gossiping as they work.  I suppose that is why the dictionary refers to a group of starlings as a "chattering". The robins never left our neighborhood this year.  They search under every leaf in their quest for something to eat, and hunker low to the ground with each gust of wind.  They look miserable.

Please, Mother Nature, enough with the snow sifting!  It's close to 2 inches deep now. That's enough decorative snow. For me, when it comes to snow, less is more.

My husband and I are staying in today.  There is chili cooking and it smells good.  It is way too cozy in here to get out today and go to a restaurant for dinner.  
OUR GRANDSON LOVES LITTLE ANIMALS
We babysat our grandson earlier this month.  It was so much fun.  He is at the age where he sometimes says such funny things.  He will be six in March. Our daughter, who is a nurse, was asking him what he wanted to be when he grew up.  "Maybe a doctor", she asked/suggested to him.  His reply was "When I grow up, I want to be a "plunger" like my daddy."  His daddy is a plumber. 
THE GROUNDHOG DAY CAKE LOOKING A BIT PRIMITIVE
I baked a cake for my grandson the day we watched him.  As the cake baked, I had a brainstorm to make it into a Groundhog Day cake, even though we were a couple of days past G. hog day.  Since it was all spur of the moment, I had to use what was in the cupboard for my Groundhog Day cake decorations.  I used some soft caramels rolled in Nestle's Quik powder for the groundhog. The Quik was supposed to look like the little creature's fur.  I crumbled up a cookie to make the dirt around the G. hog hole, sifted powdered sugar over the cake's chocolate icing for snow, and stuck a candle in it just for fun. 

The cake looks pretty primitive in the picture and doesn't look like the amazing, enchanting cake that I had pictured it to be in my mind's eye. 

I was busy being underwhelmed as I looked at the cake.....and then my Grandson came into the dining room.  He took one look and was was so tickled by it.  He was laughing, and grinning, and so excited by such a simple cake. He loved the little groundhog and couldn't wait to blow out the candle for that little groundhog.  

Suddenly, the primitive looking cake, morphed right back into that amazing, enchanting cake that I had first seen in my mind's eye.  There I was, seeing The Groundhog Day Cake, through the eyes of an almost-six-year old, and it was wonderful.

I hope you are all having a lovely Valentine's Day.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

A QUICK POST

This is going to be a quick post.  I wanted to wish everyone a Happy New Year while the year is still new.

This evening I finally put a picture in my header.  I've been blogging since August 2012.  Procrastinate much?  Yes, I do.

We had a very nice holiday season around here.  My husband retired as of December 1.  We are adjusting to it pretty well, except most days both of us have to think about it to figure out the day, and date, and the weeks go by so quickly that it is amazing.  My husband worked nights for more than thirty years, so our night owl life style has remained the same, but may slip into more normal hours after a few more months.  

I usually like to show a lot of pictures on my posts, but after doing the header picture, my picture-posting brain is now slightly frazzled, so I'll let that go this evening.

Even though I haven't been posting here, I have been enjoying many others' blogs. 

2016 hasn't had any of its shiny, newness worn off yet.  So many possibilities await us!



Friday, September 4, 2015

WHAT'S WITH MY KNEES, ZINNIAS, AND BEES

Blue glass watering bulbs, zinnias, and creeping jenny.
Nine days ago I had stem cell therapy on both knees.  The procedure was something that I have been researching for quite some time, and since my knees were becoming more and more painful, I decided it was time to go ahead with it.  

The stem cells that were used came from my own bone marrow and also from my own fat. The procedure was painful, but not unbearable.  I was hurting a lot the evening after the procedure.  The pain got better as each day went by. It is normal for it to take 7 to 14 days for the knees to return to the level of pain they had before the procedure.  One of my knees was worse than the other and had a lot more pain.  After the procedure my sort of good-ish knee got worse and my bad knee has gotten better faster.   

Each day, when I wake up in the morning, my knees seem to be a bit improved. Pain wise I am almost back to where I was before the procedure.  I was surprised yesterday, as I was working around in the kitchen, I noticed that for the first time in about three months, I was walking without being flat footed on one side and limping and dragging my foot a bit.  My knee, ankle, and foot were working together pretty much like normal again.   
New-to-the-neighborhood hummingbirds always examine the flowers in the basket on the door and leave disappointed.
Even though my knees are improving, they start feeling real worn out and aching by about 3:30 in the afternoon and I have to start wrapping my activities up so I can get off of my feet.  I haven't been doing anything out in my flowers since a few weeks before the procedure, because my knees had just gotten so bad.  I am glad that I got some pictures of this summer's flowers while I still felt like standing and taking pictures.
The big pink round shiny glass bowl was from the thrift store.
It was not a great year for my zinnias.  I believe it was because of the extremes with the weather.  It was a very good year for my hummingbirds that were here most of the summer, and have now migrated. And the zinnias continue to attract new hummingbirds as they migrate through the area.  I couldn't get a picture of the little birds, only the bees.

My Christopher Marlowe rose which was beautifully leafy and full all last summer, got brown spots on the leaves during the weeks of rain we had earlier this summer.  Even with the leaves dropping, it has had a lot of blooms on it all summer.  I didn't want to use any fungicides on it, because I have seen hummingbirds going to its blooms.  I don't think roses have nectar.  I wonder if hummingbirds can smell the roses. "hummingbirds...I love to watch them because they are so busy getting the most out of life.", Nora Ephron wrote in her book "I Remember Nothing". 
David Austin Christopher Marlowe rose still blooming after the brown spots
I have spent some of this quickly passing end-of-summer time reading books that my sweet friend brought to me. Thank you Shelly!  For a few days it was uncomfortable to have the laptop on my lap.  Two of the books I read were by Nora Ephron.  The first one I read was "I Feel Bad About My Neck".  The next one I read was "I Remember Nothing".  Excellent books that have both been around for several years.  If you haven't read them, I think you would enjoy them.  Both of them are funny, and many parts are especially touching given the perspective added by the passing of years.
My grandson with his hair slicked down for the first day of school.  Made me think of all of the little boys through all of the generations on their first day of school.  Some things never change.
Summer has almost slipped away.  My grandson started kindergarten this year. He is going to the same elementary school that my Dad, me, my husband, and my son and daughter attended.  It is still hot here, but there is that certain quality of light, and rhythm in the way that the days pass that gently reminds us how fast the seasons pass, and that maybe we should get busy getting the most out of life.
My Christopher Marlowe roses at the beginning of summer. There were enough for arms full of them. 

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

FEELING GLAD ALL OVER

A  GLADIOLA FROM MY GARDEN
I am glad it is finally feeling like summer around here.  We have had so many days of rain in the past month.  Even though it was 98 degrees here today, it was nice to have a sunny summer day.  My beautiful David Austin Christopher Marlowe rose developed some black spot, but it is still blooming. There has been so much rain that it killed part of my big Red Knockout rose, and I believe that they are one of the most hardy roses there is.  I was outside today, for as long as I could stand the heat, moving formerly water logged plants out of the searing sun into partial shade because they were starting to shrivel from the sun and heat beating down on them.  

The gladiola in the picture above survived the super wet weather we have had. It bloomed so beautifully and so tall that it was blown over and broke off before I had a chance to stake it.  It worked out fine though, I have been enjoying seeing it in the house and "posing" it for photographs.  

A few days ago, I was changing purses.  I laughed out loud when I read the quote on this card I came across that was still in my purse from the time I was in the hospital at the end of May.  I was too sick to even notice it while in the hospital. 

This is a card given to patients when they first go into their hospital room.

Out of all of the quotes in the world, I cannot believe that a hospital would choose the quote that is on this card.  Helen Keller was a great woman, and this is a very moving quote, but I don't think it worked too well in this circumstance. 

As I read the quote line by line, I almost wondered if the hospital was trying to be funny. Or maybe that quote had become their "Mission Statement". "Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet."  Well, I suppose I got my character developed,  because there wasn't  much ease and no quiet with the monitor beeping and sounding some type of alarm next to the bed for 18 hours straight, until the nurse practitioner got tired of struggling to speak to me over the din it was making,  and simply stepped over and flicked a switch and turned off the sound it was making in the room. She said the nurses had the same monitor that sounded at their station.  The sound didn't really need to be on in the room.

As for "Only through the experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ....", with all due respect to Ms Keller, I don't agree with that statement at all.  There are many beautiful, joy filled, positive experiences that can strengthen the soul, clear vision, inspire ambition, and help one achieve success.  I don't believe a hospital should put forth such negativity.  And I definitely don't think it is good that a hospital should be functioning with the idea that trial and/or suffering is good for people.  So many things make me wonder about hospitals and health care at this time.

Oh, well, all of that is water under the bridge and I have been feeling good and have been able to get back to playing in the garden, and I am thankful...and "glad".
GLADIOLAS - BEAUTIFUL!


Sunday, June 14, 2015

REJUVENATING JUNE

BLUE WILDFLOWER
Robins sing the final notes of their goodnight song.  Firefly sequins pulse in the shadows.  Rose and lemon thyme perfume the garden.  I love this time of day-into-evening as the sky goes dark and everything is quiet and soft. I like to sit out on the porch and gather it all in. 

During the last few days of May I had to go to the ER.  I was feeling extremely light headed and weak at my grandson's preschool graduation. I stayed until the end of the ceremony, but then started feeling even worse.  My husband was at work, so I asked my good friend, who is my daughter's godmother, to take me to the ER.  I called my husband and he met us there.  It turned out that I was experiencing an irregular heartbeat (atrial fibrillation).  I spent two nights in the hospital while they did tests, then shocked my heart back into rhythm, and monitored me.

I was overjoyed to come home so I could get some rest in my own comfortable bed.  My little pom, Fuzzy, was overjoyed when I came home, too. He was rubbing against me, sniffing, licking, spinning, running away and then leaping over his doggie bed to get back to me, and then start all over again.  It has been more than two weeks now and he still doesn't want to let me out of his sight. The first day I was home he insisted on staying in the bathroom with me as I took a shower.  He usually just guards outside of the door.  

I am feeling really good now, but during the past week I had to wear a portable monitor for 48 hours to record my heart rhythm.  The monitor was returned to the hospital yesterday and I should get the the results of the monitoring some time next week.  

Some of the most mundane household chores seem almost like "fun" to me now.  Funny how a few days in a hospital room hooked to monitors,  with a needle taped into the vein in the bend of my arm "just in case", etc., make such tasks as cleaning the toilet at home feel almost like a festive occasion. Perspective.

Last weekend, after I had been home from the hospital for one week, I had some of the BEST MEDICINE there is: Fun, sweet times spent with dear, long-time friends.  It was my husband's 45 year high school reunion.  Class of 1970.

We got together with a group of our close "Class of 1970"  friends on Thursday, Friday, and Sunday.  I was in the Class of 1972 at the same school.  It was so good seeing everyone.  With each story of high school adventures, misadventures, mischief, and romance, we all laughed and remembered, and I believe, felt how much we have all changed, yet are still the same.  

With every story told and every round of laughter,  I felt better and better.  I could feel my strength coming back.  By the end of the weekend I felt refreshed and renewed.  It was as if I had been on a long, rejuvenating trip. And I am sure I really had been.... I had been on a nice, long visit to Memory Lane.  
DAVID AUSTIN-CHRISTOPHER MARLOWE ROSES
FROM   MY  YARD