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:

    Friday, June 10, 2011

    The Carousel of Life

    Have you ever felt like you’re on a carousel?  It’s enjoyable, a little exciting, and slightly predictable, yet you occasionally wonder when the ride’s going to be over.  That’s what my life has been like over the past couple of weeks.  Little did I know that it was going to take me away from bloggy land for so long.  My apologies!  In the meantime, I have had a weekend away with DH,  and one sunny weekday for a car-selling photoshoot.

    The car.  My beloved ex-car.  I’m happy it all happened so quickly, as it was less painful than drawing it all out.  Monday, I did the photoshoot and made some phone calls.  Tuesday, I listed the car on the interwebz.  Within three hours, there were three responses!  There were more by the next morning.  The first person worked an odd shift, so she couldn’t look at the car right away.  The second person wanted to see it Wednesday.  So, Wednesday I showed the car and made a verbal agreement to sell it.  Then, we came home and sold a set of wheels and a set of shocks to a friend.  Thursday, the car-lookers handed me cash, and I handed them the keys, car, title, records, etc.

    So now everyone is saying, “You should have asked for more money!”  Yes, I suppose I could have.  However, it wouldn’t have felt right asking much for a car with almost 200k miles on it and an oil leak.  As it is, I am happy with the way things happened.  My beloved ex-car went to a good home.  That works for me.  Yes, I know it’s an inanimate object, but it meant a lot to me.  Anything you spend a lot of time on or with, be it a house, garden, car, etc. is bound to have some sort of emotion wrapped up in it.  When it’s a labor of love, you have a sense of pride and accomplishment.

    So, what’s next for me?  Tomorrow, I’m headed to the countryside to visit an elderly friend.  Sunday, if everything works out, I will be going horseback riding.  Poor DH – he is on a plane.  Might as well have some fun while he is gone!  Hopefully the weather will hold out.  With only a couple of sunny days since I got my new car, there hasn’t been time for a photoshoot.  It’s overcast right now.  I want some sun, dangit!

    At any rate, thanks for hanging in there and being patient.  I appreciate it!  And **WELCOME** to the new followers!  You just never know what’s going to happen around here.