Saturday, December 24, 2011

Happy Holidays!

2011 has gone by really quickly.  It was full of many more changes than I am used to, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing.  If life was always the same, it would be boring.  Changes shape who we are, for better or for worse.  Good or bad, we learn from it.  When we don't learn from the bad, we will repeat the mistake over and over until we figure it out.  Sometimes the learning curve takes many turns.

What did I learn in 2011?  Nothing terribly new, just reaffirmations of stuff I already knew.  It doesn't hurt to be reminded sometimes.  One thing is that I am in charge of some things in my life, but not others.  Can I help what the economy is like?  No.  Does the poor economy make me not look for a job?  Hell no!  When I am out of work, I will look and look for a job no matter if I am getting monetary "unenjoyment" or not.  I won't find a job if I don't look.  Fortunately, my two years of persistence paid off with a temporary job.  It will end sometime next year, but I am thankful for the paycheck for the time being.  When the time comes, I will start the job search all over again.

I also learned that some things are worth stressing over and some aren't.  In general, I can't find anything worth getting all wound up about, so I consider myself lucky.  Things that stressed me out before (such as my gambling addict parents) don't anymore.  Crappy traffic?  I'll get to work when I get there - the same time as the car in front of me and the car behind me.  That doesn't mean it isn't frustrating or annoying, it just isn't worth blowing a (figurative) gasket over.

Another thing I learned is that I like blogging, and that I miss it.  It's kind of like a combination of free therapy and living vicariously through others.  I need to make time for it.  I think it's important and well worth it.

So here comes 2012.  What's in store?  Who knows?  If I knew stuff like that, I'd play the lottery.  At any rate, I'm looking forward to another year of life.  After all, I'm just happy to be here.

Happy holidays and a fantastic new year to you all!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Garden Blogger's Bloom Day - September

Hi everyone!  Although my schedule's not yet ready to allow me back into the blogging world (too many 12 hour work days), I did find time to take some photos for this month's "Garden Blogger's Bloom Day".  Many plants from June are still blooming, so I won't bore you with those (Lamium, anyone?).

Up first is not a bloom, but rather some foliage.  It's from a pygmy barberry.  Barberries are great because they're low-maintenance, they look good, and they keep rug rats out of your yard (i.e. they have thorns).

Next is one of my favorite plants, a smoke bush (or tree).  Like real smoke, they are difficult to photograph, but here goes:

There aren't many blooms left in my wildflower bed, just this
and this:
There are a few of these left (Campanula?)
along with Heuchera
 and some stuff that's new this year (Meadow Rue?).
Then there are some reliable staples, like Nandina,
some tall asters (~six feet tall)
and some short asters (~12 inches tall).
The Echinaceas had a hard time this year,
but the Silver Lace Vine went bonkers
and the Rose Campion bloomed reliably.
 There are some plants whose buds promise future blooms, like Hydrangea,
and Clematis.
Best of all was a late summer surprise:
This is the first year I've had this clematis, and I had no idea it would bloom twice in one season!  I kind of like the "leftovers", too:
Hope you're all doing well!  I still have some traveling left to do, along with busy weekends for another month or so.  I'll have to catch up with you all sometime in October.  Until then, take care!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Something for Everyone

Hi everyone!  Just wanted to let you know that my summer blogging hiatus will be continuing until September-ish.  Being away from home 12 hours a day has really put a damper on my free time.  Anyway, I wanted to stop by for a quick (but important) message.  Recently, I received news that a relative was diagnosed with breast cancer and had a mastectomy.  She is only 40 years old.  Ladies, please, please stay current with your mammograms and monthly self-exams.  Guys, you are not off the hook.  We all know how much many of you love breasts (c'mon, admit it!), so pay attention to your partner's breasts.  If you notice a change, say something.  If any of you in a same-sex relationship, the same thing goes.  We are all human.  This can happen to any of us, even men.  Cancer does not discriminate.

Enjoy every day.  You don't know what will be around the corner.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


It's been crazy-busy around here, with no signs of slowing down!  It's just going to be awhile before I'll be visiting blogs, commenting, etc.  I sure miss bloggy land, but it's summer....  During the summer, I try to live every minute I can outside.  The rest of the year is pretty dreary.

Since most of the nation is basking in heat, here's a photo I took a couple of weeks ago on a trip I took to the mountains.  Hopefully it will help you feel coooooool. :-)

Monday, July 4, 2011

Early Curmudgeons?

So here I am, in my office at my keyboard.  It’s the evening of July 4th, and fireworks are going off everywhere.  I’m just not into it.  What is it about July 4th that makes people say, “Yeah!  We’re ‘murrican!  Let’s get drunk and blow stuff up!”  Now, don’t get me wrong:  I occasionally like to see things get blown up, set on fire, or otherwise destroyed.  Say, watermelons or something.  But when it comes to Independence Day, it seems like common sense goes out the window.  So many people seem to use what is supposed to be a day of celebration as an excuse to behave poorly.

When I was a kid, July 4th was a lot of fun.  We got to play with sparklers and wave them around.  If we were really feeling naughty/clever, we could “write” bad words in the air with the sparkler.  We were also allowed to play with the “snakes” (little black tablets that, when lit, made moving tubes of ash).  When we got older, we were even allowed to light my favorite, ground bloom flowers (little spinning “flowers” of multicolored sparks).  An annual highlight was watching Mom or Dad light the carefully-chosen fountains.  It never seemed like enough; we would have been happy to watch the fireworks for hours.

Now, we live near a Native American reservation.  Reservations around here are known for selling illegal fireworks.  We’re not just talking about ½ sticks of dynamite, we’re talking about fireworks that launch into the air, making huge displays.  The fireworks that can be seen from any window in our house rivals professional shows.  Yes, there are that many of that quality.  It is what I imagine a war zone to be like, sans the combat, etc. (recurring, house-shaking explosions).   This is a fantastic, fun thing, right?  Well, if you enjoy them….

Maybe I’m becoming a curmudgeon before my time.  All day, I kept thinking about how I would get very little sleep due to the constant explosions, get up early to go to work and come home to a yard filled with other people’s fireworks debris.  Well, at least I’m not alone.  DH just came into my office and said, “I don’t really want to watch the fireworks.  Maybe I’m turning into a grump”.  Well, dear, then we’ll both turn into grumps together!

Here's a quick clip I took through my office window:

Wednesday, June 29, 2011


This week's photo theme from written, inc. is "rough".  Here are my contributions:

Bark with fungus:

More bark, but with a different camera and a flash:
A rocky pathway (I can't imagine how long it must have taken to do this):

 A giant, whimsical garden sculpture.  It's materials remind me of steel wool:

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Quick Road Trip Report + Senior Visit Tips

Last weekend, I took a quick road trip out to the countryside to visit an elderly family friend, “Mrs. E”.  This was the first time I had taken my new car somewhere besides work, so I figured it would be a good “bonding” opportunity.  Well, I don’t know if we bonded per se.  I think that will just take time.   

Here we are at a rest area:

Anyway, I learned how to use the cruise control.  I also learned that it was great fun to be able to pass people!  Passing people was rarely possible in my old car, because it was so slow.  What a relief to be able to pass people who couldn’t find the speed limit.

*insert rant*  If you can’t get within 5 mph of the speed limit, please surrender your license immediately!

Okay, back to the trip report….  It was a good day overall.  Mrs. E looked better than she has in years.  She was alert, happy and aware, and said her usual funny things.  Although we often think that children have cornered the market on funny stuff, seniors provide some pretty humorous moments, too.  Mrs. E takes particular joy in her grandson’s dogs, “He has those Jack Daniels dogs, you know.  They are pretty cute!”  You would be proud of me, because I did not laugh or correct her.  I distracted myself from the “Jack Daniels” thing by asking how old the dogs were, how many dogs her grandson had, etc.

If you have a senior friend or relative, please visit them.  They often literally have nothing to do.  When they are particularly advanced in age, they are housebound and bored.   Here are some tips:

  • If you tell them you are coming for a visit, make sure you show up.  Do not cancel or postpone.  Your visit is incredibly important to them.  Every time I visit Mrs. E, she is wearing her best cardigan, has her hair freshly coiffed, and puts on her lipstick.
  • Bring large photos so that you can share part of your life with them:  a new house, relatives visiting, a trip you went on, etc.  The photos don’t have to be on photo paper.  I just print 8x10 photos on regular printer paper….
  • Before you go, make a mental list of conversation topics.  Ask them about their children and grandchildren.  If their memory is good (and depending on their mood), ask them about where they lived, why their parents moved from Smalltown to Tinytown, how many siblings  they had, what their chores were, what they did for fun, how they met their spouse, how they survived a flood/earthquake/tornado, etc.  If you’re into genealogy, information about relatives is *really* important.  Once your elderly relative is gone, a wealth of information goes with them.
  • If you or they have old photos, go through them together.  Bring small sticky notes for labeling.
  • If your senior friend is in a larger assisted living home, it is often interesting to observe that you are being shown off.  The residents sometimes have unspoken contests to see who reserves the “family table” in the dining room, who gets the most visitors, etc.
  • Be patient and polite, and be a good listener.
    • Bring a small notebook and a camera, just in case.
    • If you’d like to bring a gift, check with the caregiver first.  Most seniors have particular tastes and/or restricted diets.
    • Do not debate with them about race, ethnicity, orientation, etc.  Remember, they lived in a VERY different era.  Respect that fact.  If they are curious about something, they will ask.
    • Pay attention to what they are saying.  You can often extend the conversation that way.
    • Most of all, remember this:  that elderly person will be you someday.

    Wednesday, June 15, 2011

    Garden Blogger's Bloom Day - June

    Last week, the weather forecast was dismal:  rain, rain and more rain.  I thought I would be clever and take the photos then, while it was dry.  Well, that was a week ago.  What happened a few hours ago?  The sun came out!  So, back outside I went, only to find that many of last week's buds were in bloom or had already come and gone.  

    While I was outside, I couldn't help myself and started deadheading some of the Sea Pinks.  From seemingly nowhere, a hummingbird flew right up to me!  It was so close, I could feel the breeze from it's wings.  After a few seconds, it went to feed on some nearby flowers.  Wow.  Just....  wow.  Those tiny birds just fascinate me.

    Anyway, here are some things in my yard for June:

    Here's a rhododendron.  Rhodies remind me of orchids:

    This is actually from a yellow-twig dogwood shrub.  Who would have thought it would have these delicate flowers?

    While not a bloom, I like the new growth on the pygmy barberries:

    I just love the texture of poppy buds!

    I just wish the blooms would last longer:

    Also in the short-bloom-time category are these peonies:

    Last month's white gypsophilia has been joined by the pink gypsophilia:
    BTW, spell-check does not recognize "gypsophilia".  However, it suggested "pedophilia", "necrophilia" and "hemophiliac".  Ewwwww!

    The geraniums are here!  The second one is actually purple.  The color doesn't show true on this camera....

    New this year, a pink clematis.  The bloom was about done, but I *love* these colors and textures:

    You've seen these before:  Sea Pinks and Snow-in-Summer:

    One of my favorites, blue Flax:

    Here are two clematis that (surprisingly) made it through the winter:

    Here are two plants that hummingbirds (and, obviously bees) like:  foxglove and....  snowberry?  It was here when we moved in, so I'm not sure what it is.

    Another hummingbird treat, Heuchera:

    The climbing hydrangea has gone bonkers this year!

    Here's some Blue Star Creeper.  It may look innocent, but can really get out of hand.  It is best to grow in a contained area, and is difficult to eradicate.

    This is from a smoke tree.  I never noticed that it has tiny flowers.  Coming soon:  dramatic puffs of "smoke":

    Blooming for the first time in my yard:  chives.  I did not notice the bug until I looked at the picture on my computer!

    Last, but not least:  Astilbe (which I almost pulled up because I thought it hadn't made it through the winter) and a fern: