Monday, September 21, 2009

Sitting Around

I've been here, in my mom's room in the nursing home since Saturday afternoon. I got here about 4pm Saturday. It's now about 7 am Monday morning. I didn't plan to stay this long, but as it happens, one of my sisters hurt her leg by stepping into a hole. She's got a sprained ankle and hip. Oh. Joy.

It means that the rotation of family members is now a little more limited. One of my brothers has been handling the day shifts during the week, and I've a niece in law that is a trained nursing assistant, and she's been taking the night shifts. My sister( her mother-in-law), and I have been taking turns on the weekend to give the two of them some time off. With my sister now on the injured list, I have a feeling I may be repeating this weekend's somewhat...extended....shift next weekend.

Today is the last day of summer. It's been a long summer. Here in Texas it was long, hot and dry. It's been cooling off and it's even raining now and again. It's supposed to rain a little more this weekend, and get a little cooler. I like both of the possibilities.

Of course, with the end of summer comes the List. You know the List. You probably have one of your own, written or unwritten. It's that List of things you were Going to Do...and didn't. My list includes a new raised bed, half made, and some patio cushions for some metal benches... that were never even started. They've been on my list for two summers now. I can tell myself that one of the reasons they've not been done is because I've been looking for some thick foam for the cushions.. but that would be only half the story. The raised bed doesn't have even that poor excuse, as we've had most of the materials. Our excuses there include the heat and the fact that neither 'Pup, nor I have been feeling really robust this summer. Still, it'll get done. I hope.

The one project that MUST be done is to finish the DIY watering system. We've got the materials and have them half laid out. Now, all that needs to happen is for me to be home on the weekend to supervise ('Pup insists that I supervise, as otherwise I'm liable to be less than pleased...no matter what. I'm not sure if I'm not a little put out by that characterisation...but I will admit that there is a distinct possibility that he's correct.) the placement of the lines and sprayers.

Y'all have a good day, and celebrate the coming of the new season. Things change and that's a good thing.

Let's just keep telling ourselves that.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Geek Moments and Multitasking

Yesterday, I had a moment of...culture shock? Future shock? I'm not sure there's a word in English to name what I felt. The closest I can get is that for a moment...I felt as if I were living in a science fiction novel I'd read as a child.

Why, Nancy, what would make you feel this way?

Well, you see, I need to preface this with the fact that our desk top computer is now refusing to read the data cards from the cameras.

Yesterday, I wanted to post about my plumeria, and the pictures were on the card the computer wouldn't read. (Yes, I know, it's about time we found a really good sale on another tower...but that ain't happening for a few months.) Being the resourceful critter I am, I batted not an eye and pulled out my little, tiny netbook sized laptop and hooked it up to the powerstrip, plugged in my tiny mouse and put it next to the big mouse on the mouse pad, powered up and connected, wirelessly to the home Wi-Fi.

Meanwhile, I'm still on the desktop, because I was in the middle of a couple of cross country IM chats with a friend in Ohio, and one in Los Angeles. (Confused yet?) So, I upload the pictures into my little machine and start to edit them a little. The pictures were taken during a bright part of the day and needed tweaking to bring out the colors that had been a little washed out because of the less than optimal light conditions.

Mind you, between pictures, I'm still holding a conversation.. well, two conversations with my friends. One conversation was about how much a child had grown (started school this year) and the other was about the trials and travails of having a house full of sick kids and adults. I was also starting to compose the post.

Let's bring it down: Me.. one desktop.. two conversations +Me on small laptop editing pictures and writing blog post.

Add in the fact that I'm also, between moments of the conversation and picture editing, playing a game on Facebook. I'd like to say it wasn't Mafia Wars, but I'm about honesty and I ain't gonna lie. I was pulling off jobs left and right.

Again: me on the desktop and two IM conversations +Me and one laptop and picture editing and writing the post +Me, playing a computer simulation game involving large amounts of cash that might or might not have once belonged to someone else....along with occasionally, accidentally, bringing a couple of other players game lives to a (brief and temporary) end while in pursuit of some extra points and the occasional bit of prime loot.

Now, add in further.....my cell phone. It beeps at me, with a text message from 'Pup regarding a flu shot we might need to get and a possible voucher from his company to pay for it. Back and forth texting goes on about whether we need the pneumonia shots (we've had them recently.. so probably not.. but 'Pup wants to check with the doc to find out... me saying she'll probably say we don't .. and yes, we have unlimited texting on our phones.)

Let's review: Me and the desktop with two IM conversations and an online game + Me and a small laptop and editing picutures and writing a blog post + Me and a cell phone holding a texting conversation, arguing with my husband about whether we need a pnuemonia shot. All. At. The. Same. Time.

Somewhere in the last bit of texting and IM'ing and whacking and picture editing and writing the post I get this feeling that WOOOOO, I may be doing just a few things too many. And I then become aware that I am, in effect, using three machines, each of which contain a computer in some form and each of which can connect to a global internet and that I'm dong so simultaneously. And that any of the three contain more data storage ability that was dreamed possible only 20 years ago. And, that I'm probably doing a whole lot of things a whole lot faster than my grandmother would ever have thought possible.. or preferable.

That's when I felt the feeling. The one that I was living in a science-fiction novel.. that I was living in a virtual reality, multi tasking to the extreme...that I was... hooked up directly to this web... I was LIVING in the computers.

It made me pause for a moment.

And then I went on line and bought two digital camera accessories kits from buy.com... one for me and one for 'Pup (DAMN cheap too!), using our paypal account. We both need a tripod, neither of us is good at stabilizing ourselves, much less a camera for macro shots, and we've two cameras that need cases.

Then, I had to leave for a private tutoring session at a Starbucks...in a grocery store... where we talked about the difference between Steinbeck and Hemingway as authors and how they approached life and death in very different ways in their stories. (Just for the record, I prefer Steinbeck, as he had the more... charitable view... of humanity and his works were very hooked into people relating to other people.. plus I prefer his more lyrical and sensuously rich descriptions of the settings in the stories.)

Then I went and taught some kids how to write better (using rules of composition I'm pretty much ignoring here), and how to speak English and how to write a clear sentence and how to read.

No wonder my brain hurts today. And I'm trying real hard to limit myself to one computer at a time, albeit with a couple of windows open .. and yeah, a conversation with my friend in L.A. 'cause she's still sick at home.

Must. Remember. To. Breathe.

I think I need some time outside weeding.. .just as soon as I finish the two things I have to get done....and the laundry.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Journaling

A lot of the gardening blogs mention keeping a journal about your garden., what you plant in it and how it does. I know I should. The "Whys" are as easy to find and list as they are at this site. Am I going to do it? I've been telling myself, since 2005, when I started this blog, that my garden journal was "online". Well, I have to admit it.. that's kind of been a cop out.

Truth is: I'm lazy. I like journals and I like writing in them. I just forget to do it every day. I think I'm going to give it another try. One of the things I got at Spring Fling was an empty garden journal. NOW is as good a time as any to start, as I'll be planting things again this month. "Fall" is our second "Spring" here, and is actually a nicer time to garden as the pests that eat the plants have gone through their major life cycle for the year and so there are fewer things to munch upon the plants. It's a little dicey, and a gamble...which has its own allure. Are you going to beat the first frost? Is there going to BE a first frost? (Seriously...sometimes...we don't get a 'frost' until sometime around or after Christmas.)

So, in goes the beets, the radish, the carrots and more lettuce. I've had to resort to chemical warfare against the snails this year. This spring they were simply overwhelming. I'm hoping to get some sort of crop before they eat it all. The spring crop of lettuce was cut short. One morning, I went outside to get some and discovered there was not a LEAF to be found. It was if someone had "unplanted" it. You'd never have known there had been lettuce anywhere near the pot, except that I did have pictorial proof. They also ate my snap peas, bush beans and all of my squash and cucumber ---they even beat the squash borer to the squash!

So.. into the journal goes this year... bad for snails...little to no rain this summer...but great basil production. My overwintered tomatoes did well this spring and will be going back into the same bed they were in last year. That bed's been free of tomatoes all summer, so it should be good for another growing season.

Ahhhh... I do like fall.

Grand Opening


About three years ago, I was at a neighbor's garage sale and happened to see that she had a huge stand of plumeria. I bought some chairs and, as a bonus, she snapped off three branches from among her plants. She said she wasn't sure what color they were, maybe white, pink...or red..she couldn't remember which plant was which.

It didn't matter to me. I was happy to get them, as I'd tried a cutting before, that didn't do anything, did okay..and then up and died on me. I was hoping, out of three, I might get one to root.

So, lacking the time that day to do much but grab and go.. I stuck the three cuttings (about a foot long, each) into the first empty pot I saw. It HAD been full, of a stevia plant, but it had died for some reason. Sigh.. plants tend to do that.

BUT.. a strange thing happened. The cuttings all rooted and began to grow, a little. And, as they grew...the stevia grew with them. Surprised the heck out of me. But...now I had a bit of a problem. You see, that wasn't my first stevia plant, and about 3 years ago they weren't all that easy to find in nurseries. I'd been really disappointed when mine had died. Now.. I had three cuttings of a plant I really wanted, growing in a pot with a plant I REALLY wanted. I didn't want to disturb any of them, for fear I'd lose all of them.

The overwintered that winter in the same pot....and passed into the next summer and fall and overwintered again. All the plants were alive, growing slowly and doing pretty well. I was still afraid of killing them by messing with them.

Then, this spring, I went on a tear. I'd been at my mom's house and had cleaned out a bed in her side yard, and had been rewarded with a bunch of amaryllis. HUGE amaryllis, as in the size of one of those personal sized watermelons....or the size of a spaghetti squash. They were amaryllis of substance. I had to plant them, so I did. While I was at it, I decided that the odd foursome in the pot needed tending too.

I'd found another stevia plant this last spring and it was doing pretty well in the herb bed. I figured that the stevia in the pot could go there too. I gingerly emptied the pot, sifting with my fingers for the root ball of the stevia, and slowly disentangled it from the plumeria roots. The three cuttings were now pretty well intertwined and I didn't try pulling them too far apart. I left as much of the dirt that had been in the pot with them, and dug a hole and planted the whole mess right about where the pot had been.

I figured, if they'd done so well in that light, maybe the fact that they're in the same exposure would lessen the transplant shock. I was hopeful. Maybe they would grow.

At first, they grew only very slowly. They lost leaves and looked poorly during the hottest part of the summer, but they were in a small bed very near my front door, and it was almost always cooler, getting shade in the hottest part of the afternoon. I watered them, when I could..and then...they started to grow in earnest.

The stevia, meanwhile, was getting taller and taller, and I was worried that it was getting too spindly. But, I left it be. This was the longest I'd gotten a stevia to live, and I wasn't about to mess with success. I've since decided that the plant must like growing a long stem, laying down and then sending up secondary shoots here and there, especially if it can reach the shade of a nearby plant and grow up through it. It, like most clematis, must enjoy a shady, cooler bottom and a sunnier top.

Back at the plumeria, the plants were getting larger, growing larger leaves and starting to lean out a little towards the sunnier parts of the bed. I had to rearrange the pots in that bed to let them have room. I usually grow things in pots there, because I have rampant (until this summer!) peppermint growing there. Pots give the other plants a fighting chance. I'm not sure what happened, but the peppermint didn't do well this year. I still have some pieces, so it should reestablish itself, probably next spring.

I was really excited to see buds on the plumeria a few days ago. I was hoping they wouldn't open too soon, and would be open for Garden Blogger's Bloom Day. They missed it by one day.. but you know... I don't think I mind a bit.

And here they are.. the two that are open, and they have little brothers and sisters. They're not pink, as the buds had led me to believe. Rather, they are a soft, creamy white with a rich butter yellow center. They smell divine. The other two plants are budding too, and perhaps I have a pink in one of them. If not, the white are just fine with me.

Two views of the newest stars of the garden:



YIPPEEEEEEE!




Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Garden Blogger's Bloom Day

Welcome to Garden Blogger's Bloom Day as hosted by May Dreams Garden. Head on over, following the link, and take a look at what's blooming all over the place.

You want your "one world"? Look in the garden.

I've missed the last two bloom days because of being busy, and being mad that it hadn't rained in for-frickin'-ever. However, it has rained a little now, and since the start of school, I am no longer working most of the day at the tutoring center, but am now on the 4-8pm school year hours. My retirement has truely been the opposite of my working carreer. I work now, more in the summer than I do during the school year.


Alas, the only rose I have, at present, in bloom, is Belinda's Dream. The others have BEEN in bloom.. but as often happens, Bloom Day is either a week too late or a week too early for some flowers...so I guess that means it's just about right for most.

Earlier this summer, I thought I'd lost my Angelonica Augustifolia after 4 years of faithful blooming. I would like to report that SHE'S BACK!!! I think she needs feeding, but it's a big plant, for angelonicas, and seems determined to be a perennial in my garden. I like this plant. She smells of grape juice.

I finally have a good Canna to show. This one is almost root bound in a pot...and I need to transplant it here and there. Maybe in the spring...


My favorite wildflower/weed: Spiderwort (am I correct in naming it that?) has finally shown up. During the hot dry summer, she was conspicuously absent from her usual places, and I thought I'd lost the stand. I love rain!
The lantana is still blooming, but needs more rain to go crazy. I hope we get some good rain, enough for it to put on a good show, soon. The birds like the berries and I've missed the birds.

My stevia is blooming, little white flowers. I've discovered that stevia likes to sprawl around and poke it's head through other plants. This piece was elbowing its way to the sun through a pinapple sage.


The basil is blooming. If you look closely at this picture, you'll see, towards the back, a varigate basil.. Basil Perpetuo...an Austrailian basil. It's the only one that hasn't bolted..and it isn't supposed to bolt at all. I kinda hope it does, though.. I love free plants.


This is what I mean by "free plants". All the basil is reseeding itself in the herb garden and is showing up in the dangdest places. I don't mind. Most of the places are empty, waiting for some smaller plants I've got there to grow into their living spaces. Till then, I get free, yummy and tender basil.
Marjoram is another herb that is perennial here. Along with rosemary, it is green for most of the winter, unless a really cold snap hits us. I cover it up then. This plant is about 5 years old.. just about as old as this blog.


These are two of the plants that have yet to fill their spaces. They're "oh save me!" plants from a box store.. I'v e a few echinacia and yarrow I rescued. They'll take through the winter to establish, and I hope they'll take off in the spring.



The bougainvillea isn't blooming profusely, but I was glad to get this particular picture. It illustrates how the plant grows. It was supposed to be a variagated, green with pale edges.. but some of it has reverted to solid green. Sigh.. that's the part that has been blooming best..so it got to stay. The variagated part starts out as a solid cream color. It makes for a striking plant...looking like three different bougainvillea at the same time.


A fairly new plant, this is another jasmine..Crepe Jasmine. It has dark, glossy leaves and is a sturdy, drought resistant plant that seems to love the heat. I hope I can overwinter it.

My Firebush is blooming, as is the Esperanza. I have seen a couple of hummingbirds buzzing the two plants, hooray!!

Esperanza


This isn't a particularly good shot..sigh..but my better camera's batteries need recharging. The Angelwing jasmine is still blooming. It has also been drought resistant and hardy..and is actually beating back the morning glories for space! Go, Girlie, Go!
Not quite in bloom, but worthy of showing off, my plumeria is fianally, after three years, going to bloom! YIPEEEE! Looks like it will be a pink one. It was a mystery plant, passed along by a neighbor.

This has been the year that the Mealy Sage has come into its own. It likes hot and dry and got it in spades this summer. The bees have been happy with it too.

Well, that's not all that's in bloom..but pretty much all that is worthy of note..but the pictures I took today will give me three more posts... bwahahahah!

Friday, September 11, 2009

September 11, 2001, Remembering

Dear Friends,

Eight years ago, our world changed. Or, more precisely, our perception of the world changed. Things...Important Things...didn't change. Honor, Love, Joy, Courtesy, Kindness, Generosity, Courage...didn't change.

But, that day, Sorrow, Grief and Fear reigned supreme. We shared that experience, those feelings, and in sharing them, we came together. It changed the way we looked at one another and circumstances. Such all encompassing emotions, all mixed together...we each felt the towers fall...we still feel them fall when we look back at the pictures. Their fall echoes throughout our lives, every time we take off our shoes at the airport, when we stand at the top of a tall towering building and look down, when we look up at an airplane fly overhead.

Perhaps, in this time of division, when everyone seems to be on one side of an issue or the other, it would be a good time to remember that we are still together. To remember what it felt like to feel as if, at any time, the unthinkable could happen, because there are those who are thinking about the unthinkable and planning to make it happen. Those who would do us harm are still in the world... and they make no distinctions between us. We are still....together.

I remember how... quiet... that day and the days after it, seemed. It was if all the noise in the world were concentrated in three places. The Pentagon, the World Trade Center... and in a small field in Somerset County where a group of passengers had made the decision to take back the manner of their deaths, and, in so doing... possibly prevented that plane from hitting the Capitol building or the White House. That was a victory and the only one we had that day. All else was a frantic, hopeless search for anyone who may have survived.


Today, I'm memorializing three people. The first is one I've written about before, Kevin McCarthy. His tribute is one I am reposting, with minor additions. I proud of that post, and it can stand alone. The other two people...women...will be connected. These posts are some of the longest I've made, and I hope you will read all three. Not because I wrote them, but because they deserve remembering, to being included in your prayers tonight, along with their families who miss them, still.


Thank you,


Nancy France

Kevin McCarthy

In 2006, I signed up to commemorate one of the lives of the people who lost their life on September 11, 2001. I knew it would be hard , or so I thought. It was hard, and easy. It's not gotten any easier since then.

I’d started off concentrating on the death, when the realization hit me that it wasn’t about how he died, but rather, it was that he had lived. That it is important to remember that each life is precious and irreplaceable.

So. Here is the face of an important man. It’s a nice face. It’s a handsome face. His face could be the face of anyone’s brother, cousin, nephew, uncle, grandson, husband or father. And, the very fact that he could be anyone, makes him someone important. Not because he died, but because he was a person, with a life, a soul, a destiny, a place in his family.

His name is Kevin McCarthy. He worked for Cantor Fitzgerald. He was probably somewhere between the 100th and 105th floors when the plane hit the North Tower. Things may have happened so quickly for him that he didn’t have time to feel fear. I hope so. I fervently hope that when he left this world, he entered into the next with joy.

Kevin was so close to me in age that I’m pretty sure we experienced many of the same things. We watched the Brady Bunch, and the Love Boat, the Carol Burnett Show, Sonny and Cher, and perhaps my favorite, Red Skelton. He would have watched the A-Team and the Rocky movies and ET and Star Wars and wondered who shot JR. Maybe he watched MacGyver and Happy Days and Charlie’s Angels. He may have had a poster or three on his walls.

He probably practiced fire drills, safety drills and learned to duck under his desk in case of a nuclear bomb. He probably teased his sisters at home and fiercely protected them outside of it. My family had five children, his six. I suspect that a remark once made by my mother, might have been made by his: "When the girls are gone to camp the laundry is cut in half. When the boys are away, the food bill is cut by two-thirds."

He may have liked the Beatles and owned their records. He knew what records WERE… and would have been trying to explain them to his grand children eventually. He experienced the amazing transformation of our world, from records, to eight tracks, to floppy disks, to CD’s and DVD’s. He went from Pong to surfing the ‘net.

He was probably in the first classes that experienced true desegregation. He sadly watched as Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy were shot. He watched the news coverage of the riots at Kent State.

He would have watched the evacuation of the embassy in Vietnam. He may have had friends with older brothers in ‘Nam. He may, as I did, know of a brother who never came back, and others that came back as changed men. Then he probably asked himself: WHY?

He watched a man walk on the moon for the first time. He watched astronauts soar into space, some dying in the attempt. He watched as the Challenger flew its brief flight. He watched a space station be built, and then fall to the earth, and another space station be started.

He experienced a boy’s life with the freedom our children do not have anymore. He might have gotten a BB gun for Christmas one year, or a ray gun or a water pistol. He might have been a cowboy for Halloween one year, and routinely have worn his six shooter, loaded with caps. And just when he was old enough to go out by himself on Halloween, to hit the good neighborhoods for candy, it changed forever because of a poisoned pixie stick.

“Just be home for dinner before darkness falls”, our mothers would have told us. “Wash up well before coming to the table, and YES you DO have to use soap.” We watched the Wonderful World of Disney on Sunday night. You could go to a movie and get drinks and some popcorn for under $2.00, and we could go there alone. Our world was smaller, but we explored it a little more one on one than is possible today. Our bikes could take us anywhere. Just get home before dark…

After college he got a job and a wife and family. He lived in Fairfield, Connecticut and must have had a lovely home. The commute was long and he may not have made it home before dark every day, but I’m sure he was glad to get there at last.

He left for work one day on a beautifully sunny, clear day. He was a Stock Trader for Cantor Fitzgerald, who occupied the 101st to the 105th floors of the North Tower. The view must have been breathtaking from his floor, the 104th. The day was so clear, the sky so blue. I’d venture to guess that he and his colleagues probably remarked on the nice weather, and clear air.

And then darkness fell, and he left this Earthly home. He was 42 years old. He will live on in the memories of his family and our minds forever as a 42 year old. His hair will never grey. He’ll never age. He’ll never walk a daughter down an aisle. He’ll never smile at the sight of a son and his bride. He’ll never be the fun uncle to his nephews and nieces. There will never be a time when his particular place in his family will be filled. There will always be a face missing from the family photos.

He is survived by his wife Debra, daughters Chelsea and Stephanie, and son Andrew; parents Charles and Marie McCarthy; four sisters; Kathleen Sullivan and her husband, Richard; Karen Toomey and her husband, Kevin; Maureen Baumgartel and her husband, Scott; Mary Ellen Rice and her husband, Tim; one brother, Charles Jr. and his wife, Deborah; and 9 nieces and nephews as of September 11, 2001.

And be cause of that place he left, he is an important man. Please, instead of Speaking, Thinking or Feeling angry about the end of his life, Stop. Think, hmmm no make that: Ponder about the beauty of the world around you. Study it well and Smile. Celebrate his lives, both the Earthly one and the Eternal One.

As Red Skelton would have said: “And May God Bless”.


We still remember, Kevin.

Cecilia E. Richard


Here is a face of a woman exactly my age. We had a lot in common, in fact, and there were some differences. She was one of seven children, I of five. She was the youngest child...I was the oldest. She worked at the Pentagon.. I worked at a school.

And there, I think, is where a lot of our differences ended. We both had a pet we adored, husbands who adored us and parents and siblings who loved us. We fit into lives here and there, filling in spaces that needed to be filled.. doing things that needed doing.

She liked music. She enjoyed Jazz, and would listen to it as a way to relax after work. She liked working and worked with her sister in a family owned catering business and worked at the club level during home games of the Washington Redskins. She loved watching the Redskins and cheered them on. From her picture, I think she was probably a happy person, who brought happiness to others as she worked, and lived. Some people have that gift. They make the world a little better every place they pass through, every life that they touch..

She worked for the Department of Defense for 20 years, holding different jobs. She started right after High School. On September 11, she was working as an Accounting Technician for the Department of the Army. I picture her, that day, coming in and saying hello to everyone, and commenting on what a beautiful day it was, with a perfect fall day at hand. A perfect day for football, it would have been.

Her mother, Mazie Lawson, waited, that long day, waiting for them to find her youngest, beloved daughter. Cecelia's husband, Michael, waited too. Cecilia had had to go on before them. She was gone.

Cecilia is remembered by a large, and loving family. Now, we are part of her family, too.
I remember you Cecilia.

Patricia Malia Colodner

This is the hardest of the tributes to write. It's hard because...I can't find Patricia. I know where she worked, and where she died, and her age....and that is all I have been able to find. Unlike Kevin and Cecilia...she is a cypher. Did she have a large family, or was she the last of her family, living and going on alone in the world? She did not leave alone. More than 300 of her fellow employees left with her, that day. Almost one in ten of the people we lost that day were from her company,
Marsh & McLennan Cos. Inc., mostly from their accounting and information technology departments. Patricia was listed as a secretary.

The only personal thing I could find online about her was one tribute from this site: 911 Heroes. It is one short entry:

Patty I love you forever.

*** Posted by Patti. on 2006-09-11 ***


Not enough, and yet...it says that someone, somewhere knew her and missed her and misses her still.

And so, with Patti.... I will remember you, Patricia.

Edited: I gave up too soon!


There is a Tribute to her from her family here. She had a talented brother, who wrote a beautiful song for her. I don't have permission to post it (yet?), so, please, take a step and follow the link. Visit for a while.

I remember.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Herbs, and Growing Them

Houston has a lot going for it, especially if you're a gardener. If you like growing things, and it rains enough, I sometimes think you could probably stick a broomstick in the ground and get a tree in five years. It makes growing most things something so easy to do that an inexperienced...or overly optimistic person... (that would be me--10 years ago)... can look at a hopelessly overgrown garden/yard and think: "I can do something with this."

Okay.. if that inexperienced optimist is lucky, she lasts long enough to get an inkling of what she's doing.

I hope to be that lucky.

I have learned: Roses are hard, Mexican Heather is like a friendly Great Dane Puppy, lots of good growth and friendly...until it takes over your bed entirely. I have learned: I can only grow thyme in a pot, so that it has lots of good drainage.. and sometimes not even that works. I have exactly ONE spot in my yard that sage will grow in.. and it's nowhere near the other herbs... who will not grow in that spot. Basil...reseeds freely. (anyone want some basil plants? I've got lemon, sweet Genovese and cinnamon.)

I do like growing herbs the most. They're easy to grow, and tasty to use and people are easily impressed by them. Honestly...they should be more impressed that I've got 12 living rose bushes, that produce blooms (usually), and that the Morning Glory vines have not YET eaten my house. But.. perhaps because herbs are "hip", with the term "herbal" an almost sure guarantee of success when placed into a label like "herbal shampoo" and " herbal weight loss pills " and "herbal home remedies"...well... almost everyone asks me if I grow them. And, I do.

Now... if I could just get the roses to reseed like the basil does.. I'll be rich.

Getting Noticed

A new blogger I've read recently asked how the big bloggers got to be so big. Truth is...I'm not sure. I know they get noticed because they're..well....good at what they write about and report. They are engaging in some way, and the news about their site spreads virally, like a good YouTube video. How they manage to do that is the mystery. The art of it is hard to match and hard to duplicate.

I do know it doesn't hurt to get on one or more website directories. They won't provide the talent, or the work that goes into being a really big success, but they help people find you. It's up to you to make people want to find you. Either way, it's a lot of work and dedication. None of the big blog websites are "easy" work for any of the writers. They earn their fame and keep it with even more hard work.

Now... I asked myself... and this is a question I've had in my head since Blogher... do I want, can I DO, that much work?

Friday, September 04, 2009

At My Mother's House



My mother's Crepe Myrtle is blooming, a soft baby pink that glows in the early morning light. I wish she were home to see it.
You'll note, she does not participate in Crepe Murder by pruning it to death, and still gets beautiful blooms.

Cleanin' Up

A couple of weeks ago, 'Pup went into work on a Saturday afternoon. He does that sometimes when he's got a project that needs finishing, or because he's had a doctor's appointment earlier that week and wants to make up some hours. He doesn't have to do it, but he does, because he wants to do a good job. It hurts him not to do a good job.

Anyway, there, on the wall of the building were hanging a couple of men, using pressure washers to clean the outside stone of the building. It was amazing to see just how much grime there was to wash off, that had accumulated from the city air. The stone didn't look dirty before the stones next to it were clean...

The sight of the men, hanging there in the full heat of a Houston summer day made me very glad that I got to garden and work outside by choice. Though, I must say, they didn't look all that unhappy, themselves. It might have been a chore to hang there, swinging back and forth, blasting water onto hot stone, but somehow, they kinda looked like they might be having a little fun.

Humm.. men. Hanging by a rope off the roof of a building, blasting stone and swinging back and forth. Come to think of it... I think one of my brothers would have volunteered for the job....

An Occasion of Temptation and Chucky the Wonderdog

I should know better than to go grocery shopping on an empty stomach (as I did, last night) and I should know better than to go shopping online when there is any money at all in my PayPal account. I should know better, because sure as shootin', I'm going to find something I want to buy...but probably don't need... but sure looks good, and it's on sale!

"Sale" one of those trigger words for me...like "chocolate", and "artichoke dip"and "shoes" and "free food". Humm.. Should I be worried that so many of my trigger words involve food? It looks like I could be had by anyone offering to take me on a date that involved a dinner starting with artichoke dip, ending in chocolate, and involving going shopping for shoes...

Well, at least I ain't cheap....easy...but not cheap.

So, what did I find on the webz that I wanted? I found this.

Did you go look? No? Okay, well, its a little video camera. It's small and point and shoot and with it I might actually be able to get a video of things like Chucky the Wonderdog being........well...Chucky the Wonderdog. 'Cause none of y'all know why I call him the Wonderdog, and it's hard to describe without a picture and he doesn't stay still long enough in Wonderdog mode to let me catch him. I have a lot of pictures of his back end. His back end is not his best feature
. This is closer. You'll note that one eye is bright and shiny and the other is slightly dull and sunken. He's blind in one eye. That does not stop him from achieving Wonderdog status. I'm not sure anything could.
I love my Chucklehead...

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

The Price of a Pet

All three of our pets are rescues of some kind. Butch was adopted by my pa-in-law, and was passed on to us, rather than put back into a shelter to face an uncertain...or perhaps all too certain.... future. Charles, AKA Chucky the Wonderdog, was adopted by us from a shelter, after he'd been placed there by a heartbroken owner who just couldn't keep him. Lady SpitFire, I got from a fellow teacher who'd adopted her from a box in a Walmart parking log on an ill thought out whim. She and the Chihuahua didn't get along. She weighed less than one pound, and was ten pounds of feisty.

Our obligations to our pets are something we take very seriously. They've put their trust in us, and we don't want to ever betray that trust. All three show some signs, still of remembering... what?.... loss? How do you explain an anxiety based on an emotion that one that we may be projecting upon them. At any rate, it manifests itself by Chucky grabbing a stuffed toy and carrying it around with him, sleeping with them at times... Butch, well... he eats. A kindred spirit to both 'Pup and myself...we have to put the food bowl away and limit treats. Lady SpitFire....was left by her dog, Brain. She has not been the same cat since. She's both more dependent, asking for scritches, but still uneasy, not wanting us to pick her up or get too familiar. She doesn't go outside, as she used to. She seems fearful of outside, now.

All in all, they're good critters. They're individual personalities make life...interesting...at times, but they're an important part of the household. It would be an emptier world without them. Because of our love of our pets, we ('Pup and I) hope that anyone reading this will take a moment and think about how a pet made your life happier, or more..interesting. I hope you'll respond to those memories by taking some pet supplies you might have, extra.. or bought specifically for this... to a local shelter. If you have a few hours in your week, consider volunteering to be a walker, or a kitten holder. The latter job is one I want to volunteer for this winter. Socializing the kittens, getting them ready for a new home, and, hopefully, watching them go to happy, new and lifetime homes would be a job that would bring me happiness.

Yearly Conundrum

Every year it's the same. We try to figure out something to get my pa-in-law for Christmas, and every year we start asking him what he might want or need, and every year.........he buys it for himself.

And yes, I often start Christmas shopping this early, especially if, as I will this year, be making some of the presents.

Besides, window shopping gives me ideas for what to buy, even if I can't get it now...I can wait for a later time, and hope for a better sale price on it later. It doesn't always work out, but it can help...if only to give me ideas for alternatives.

This year, I think I've found the perfect Christmas present for my dear pa-in-law. He has a Wii and likes playing on it with his grandson and with other residents in the Senior Apartments. They can get quite cut throat on the bowling game, and I understand that golf has created a few rivalries that can get...heated.

I understand that when he moved out of the first set of Senior Apartments, he almost had to sneak the Wii back out with him.

He's missed there, not just for the Wii, but for the fact that he's the reason they were playing cards, dominoes and having spur of the moment pot luck meals. He's a social animal, is my pa-in-law. He spent his life as a traveling representative of several car companies, managing parts ordering and such, so he's used to getting along anywhere and everywhere.

Now, if he'd just stop buying the Christmas presents for himself...