Saturday, October 31, 2009

New Toys, I Miss Weeding

I've been using my brother's computer while we're here in Victoria. He thinks it's a dinosaur, but frankly...compared to our desk top, it's a dang race car. OUR computer is a dinosaur. A big, slow brontosaurus. very tiny brain and all.

I have to remind myself that it's a sin to be covetous. So, I won't covet this computer... I'll just want to find a really good sale , and buy my own race car...errr....machine.

For now, it's going to have to wait. To be honest, I'm facing three weeks off of work, and that's going to bite hard into our basic budget, not to mention scuttle any thought of affording even a good price on a new computer. It will just have to wait.

Mom continues to have good days and not so good days and really bad days. Some days, it seems as if it's one step forward and two steps back...though...some progress has been made. It's just not very much progress, and some other, bad things, have been happening.

I am glad I'm getting time to spend with my mom, and wouldn't do anything different. But, I will admit that I miss my husband, my home, my garden and my pets. I even miss my job. Heck, I even miss weeding. It's getting so bad, I've even been giving the eye to some weeds in the nursing center's flower beds. They may be getting some free weeding from me yet.

The weather is beautiful here, just outside my mom's window. I wish both of us were on the other side of it.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Continuing...

It's been interesting, sharing a "job" with my brother and my niece in law. I'd not gotten to know her very well, and we've been getting on surprisingly well. We like the same kinds of food, so cooking dinner (her breakfast, as she has the 11pm to 7am shift) has been stress free, and downright tasty.

She's a Certified Nursing Assistant, so having her help with mom has been a welcomed and needed thing. She'd like to go on with her education, but with three children, it's not going to be easy for her. Living in a tiny town, 30 to 45 minutes away from the nearest Jr. College and almost 2 hours from a University of Houston campus (either in Houston or in Victoria), her opportunities to attend classes are....limited.

I suspect that she'll have to take classes at an online university for at least some of them. One online school she could go to is Western Governors University. It offers a lot of programs, both in the health field and for an online MBA . She could take her course hours any hour of the day, useful for someone who has small children and who's husband works nights.

Unlike a lot of the other sites, this one has a set price for a period of time she'd be enrolled. It would be up to her how many courses she completed during that time. One or six... she'd be in charge. Of course, that appeals to me, as I'd consider it a challenge to see how many I could complete in the given time so as to get the most bang for my buck. I'm just thrifty that way.

Yes, I'm calling it "thrifty".

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Home Away From Home

While my mom is here in Victoria, we're renting a room in an extended stay hotel. It's a nice suite, with a full sized refrigerator and a stove top, microwave, and dish washer. The fridge has an ice maker and is nice, though I do rather wish it were equipped with refrigerator water filters , as the ice is kind of cloudy. The water tastes okay, so it's not too bad.

We're basically hot bunking the two beds, with the three of us taking turns with my mom. It was just my brother and I this weekend, but we're being joined by my niece in law tonight.

In a spirit of the One Dang Thing After Another theme which has become my mom's life...she now has shingles. Oh. Joy.

They gown up and take precautions going in and out of the room, but the nurses here are, for the most part, nice, considerate and gentle. The exceptions..well.. we're learning which ones to watch out for.

It's my mom's birthday today, and instead of having some quiet celebrations (well, relatively quiet... as the grands and great grands were to be involved), she got to start a new medication, is in a lot more pain and in increasing despair. A lot of our job now is to keep her spirits up and calm her fears.

I'm taking at least this next week off of work. 'Pup came down today and brought me more clothes and all my meds, so I'm ready.

Living Large

If I had a billion, ca-zillion dollars, I think I'd have a lot of homes a lot of different places. Not all of them would be houses... in fact, after visiting Chicago this last summer, I've come to realize that it is a very livable city...in the summer.

The winter is a whole 'nother proposition.

I think I could, like the Omnibabe, live in one of the innumerable Chicago apartments the city has to offer. I had so much fun, and there was so much else to see and experience, I wouldn't mind staying there for a month or two at a time...especially when Texas is in the 100's.

Heck.. it would take that long just to see all the different gardens the city has to offer.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Happy Birthday, Brother Dear

My youngest brother's birthday is next month. He likes to tease me that we're from different generations, but the fact is, my mom had five children in seven years, so you do the math. We're a lot a like, he and I. We've the same taste in literature, and get the same references. We share a dry sense of humor, and our jokes are sometimes...under appreciated. Hey. WE think they're funny!

He's been doing a grand job, recently, taking care of my mom during the week on the day shift. I think my mom is grateful for the chance to get to know her youngest child...a child who has sometimes been a little hard to understand.

He's between jobs now, and may be between for a long time, as he's fighting some medical issues. Those issues have sometimes kept him alone. The need to care for our mother has brought him out of the dark, and he's doing better.

When my mom goes to Victoria, he'll be with her, moving into an extended stay hotel, though he'll spend most of his time with her in the evenings and into the night. He'll probably be with her for most of the day as well. A lot of the task of staying with my mom will fall on him, as he's the only one without small children or a job to keep him from it. All of us will take a turn, to relieve him, as we can.

One of the other things my brother and I share is a love of computers. He'll be bringing his computer with him to Victoria. The only problem with the transport of the machine was the monitor. It is a huge thing, heavy and bulky. And so, for his birthday, my mom and sister decided to shop for a sale on a new computer monitor for him, for his birthday.

They gave it to him tonight, calling him up to the hospital room. My mom wanted him to have his birthday present now, so that he could take it with him. He wasn't expecting it, so it was all the more a surprise. I didn't get to see his face, but even from the back, I could tell he was.

My mom is trying to give us what we need. We need her, and she's fighting to get well.

Wish her well, please.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Freebies

Even though my readership is pretty low, nowadays.. probably because.. you know.. you have to actually POST for readers to come READ... I've been getting a few offers for products to review. One of them came as a result of a contact made at Blogher this last July. Man, that was fun.

I'm going again. This next year, in New York City and we're not staying in a New York budget hotel, oh, no. We'll be at the Hilton, New York. I've already registered and reserved a room and I'll be blessed with the same roomie I had this year (poor Omnibabe!)

So, upcoming: possible book review, possible software review, and definite peach tree review.

Not bad for a podunk little blog like this.

Garden Blogger's Bloom Day, October 2009 Old Friends and New Rock Stars



You'll have to excuse the roses, they aren't at their best, having been pelted the last week or so with rain and soggy weather. Still, they make interesting subjects for photos...

Cherry Parfait



The Gold Medal rose, not looking so golden...downright faded, in fact.


The unnamed lavender colored rose did not suffer too much... she's a pretty little lady.


The Pinata roses were small and I found this one with a passenger. The passenger is the dewdrop with legs...it's not the only little jewel I found this morning.. but they get their own post.

And this, was the only one of my mini roses blooming...

In the herb garden, the basil is going to seed, and as usual in our mixed up weather/climate, some of the seeds have sprouted and are themselves, setting seed. The blooms attract all kinds of pollinators, not only bees, but pollinating flies, wasps and butterflies. There is a rouge tomato plant in there too. When I left last Saturday, there were a couple of little tomatoes, but they seem to have been eaten by ...someone. Rats. I'll just have to hope for the next ones. The rosemary and thyme, marjoram, oregano, chives and stevia are happily putting on new growth.

And finally, after a summer of very lush, leafy growth, the Texas Tarragon, or Mexican Mint Marigold is starting to bloom. It should continue through much of the winter.


The flowers are tiny, but pungent and beautiful.


This Cuphea is not at all shy. Unlike most of the cupheas I know, this one's flowers are huge, almost the size of my thumb. They look rather like somewhat sinister butterflies, don't they?


A chorus of Angelonicas is blooming. I seem to have lost all the purple ones, but the white is going strong.

Also on the rebound, the blanket flowers have bloomed and are setting seeds for the next spring. I hope they establish where they are.


The fire bush has been attracting several hummingbirds. I've not been able to catch them staying still long enough for a picture. They fight over the bush and are in almost constant motion.



Mexican sage.

Esperanza, or Texas Golden Bells. This is one of the plants I hope I can convince my sister to plant at her new house. They are almost indestructible and never stop blooming. They start easily from seed, so I have a project for this winter!


The peacock ginger is blooming, its unassuming little bloom. These flowers just don't seem to belong to this plant, looking more like impatients than anything else.

I'm glad to see the blooming maple (huechera?) back. It's one of the ones I thought I'd lost during the drought.

I knew I could count on the lantana, though. It can survive anything, bloom and still put on a huge crop of berries for the birds to eat.

This is not the best picture of a canna I've ever taken, but it's blooming!
And, my favorite jasmine (except when the pink jasmine is blooming) is the Angel wing jasmine. It, too, has been drought defying, blooming and growing like crazy all summer.

And this... my hibiscus...one of the very first plants I put into my garden. It needs trimming back and rescuing from the morning glory vines that have exploded into growth with the rain.
And now: For the Rock Stars of the Garden:


My first two blooms of the gloriosa lily (bottom two) have been joined by two more and the growing tip is still in good condition.. and I might.. MIGHT be getting MORE!
Continue to think bad, destructive thougthts towards the snails in my garden.. they've not found this plant yet. Hopefully, they WON'T!


Joining the concert, the Malabar spinach is blooming and setting fruit. It is one of the oddest plants I've ever grown. My mom enjoyed her plant all summer, until she broke her shoulders. I'll be trying to keep this plant in cultivation in my garden, to honor my mom and grand mom.

An oddity and an nondescript one, is the lavender verbena. It is supposed to lend a vanilla flavor to teas, though I've not tried it. The bush has been tiny until this summer. It liked the heat and dry conditions and trebled in growth. Its flowers look a little like music notes in a bar of music, don't they?


Ahh...the clitoral vine.. the plant I got after Ike, and one that huddled under plastic with the tomatoes this winter. It's finally growing! It took a whole year to decide to grow and is only now putting out flowers. I don't know if this is its normal way of growing, or if it is still trying to recover it's normal life cycle after the hurricane. Isn't is gorgeous?

Best of all, another of the gloriosa tubers has decided to grow again, and I may be getting flowers soon. The combination of the flame lilies and the pea vine should be a striking one.. not exactly harmonious.. but interesting.
Last, but not least, is my clematis. I rescued this plant from a big box store. It bloomed earlier, in the Spring, but I missed it. How it's hung on through the heat and drought to bloom again, this fall, I can't imagine. But, it's welcomed, all the more because I have had abysmal luck with clematis.
That's it for this month. To get a peek into gardens all over the country and the world, go to May Dreams Garden, where our own Garden Rock Star, ,Carol hosts a gathering of what's blooming on the fifteenth of every month.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

With My Mom

My weekends have been with my mom, for the most part. I've been heading down there right after work on Saturday and tomorrow, Friday, I may go there and back again, depending on when they're planning on transferring her to Victoria. There's a long term acute care facility there, where she can be taken care of more...precisely...than at the nursing home in her home town. It's farther for me to travel and about 45 minutes away from anywhere the family lives, but she'll get better care there.. and we'll manage.

My sister is still readying her new house to live in. It was ... to be generous.. a "fixer upper". Once a showcase of the latest and greatest ...of the 1960's and 70's.. it's fallen on some hard times and a lot needs to be done. There's a reason she got it at a sale price. Still, she's fortunate in her friends. They're contractors and are working hard to get things livable. The yard needs a lot of work too, but I'm going to have to wait on that, to convince her that 1) there are, indeed, plants that even she can't kill and 2) it would be a good thing to have them in her yard.

Sigh.

Meanwhile, I'm getting together some things that I'll be traveling with to Victoria and back. I'm going to invest in something like an electric kettle (like this one) so that I won't be a bother to the staff late at night when a cup of tea, coffee or even some instant soup would be nice. I've got some good ice chests, so that I can bring my own food in, so that I'm not eating junk. I'll be eating cold..but it won't be junk. Well, okay, maybe a little junk. Stress eating is endemic in my family, and I've got it full blast.

I may be trying to take some time off from work, not that I can really afford to, so that I can be with my mom. Just about everyone else has small children at home (even my sister) and...well... I don't. No, I won't be there full time. I have tutoring clients that I can't leave, or I'll have no income at all except for my pension.. and that ain't much. 'Pup's job is steady and he's bringing home good money, but we have debts to pay, not the least of which are two car notes.

Garden blogging will be light-ish.. but I've got some ongoing projects which will be the subject of some future posts. I've just been offered a book to review (my first!) and I've a peach tree to report on, that's going great guns.

Oh, and today's Garden Blogger's Bloom Day.. next post!

Splish Splash...

When 'Pup and I remodeled about 8 years ago, we put in a whirlpool tub in the hall bath. It was wonderful, at first, and would still BE wonderful.. if either of us could use it the way it was designed to be used. Neither of us can get up from a flat seated position (such as you'd have in a tub), so... no bath. Instead, we've just got a REALLY deep shower enclosure.

What I really long for is something my dear pa-in-law had in his house in Austin. It was one of the walk in tubs. I used to love visiting that thing.. and.. errr.. my in-laws too...

I'm not sure we'll be able to swing another remodel this decade..maybe the next. But the next one will include the walk in tub. I'm tired of showers.

A Sign of Our Ages...

'Pup and my ages to be exact. We're getting more and more information through the mail offering great deals on life insurance policies. Each company has a pretty consistent offering and the life insurance rates they offer aren't a whole lot different.

The differences seem to be that some require a lot of medical information to qualify (those, 'Pup and I just toss, 'cause what they want to know about us...they don't wanna know..) Others purport to be great deals and say that they don't require any medical information, but they do tend to have a long wait period before the policy is in full effect, and they usually offer less per policy.

On a semi-related note, I just realized today, that for the first time in my life.... I am older than the President of the United States.

And I don't even have a Nobel Peace Prize for... uhmm.. what was that again?

I made my realization when one of my students was writing a journal entry about the gentleman, and needed some information. As I was trotting out the statistics I knew.. I realized the differences in our ages. Gulp.

Life insurance offers, and older than the president.

Dang. I'm getting old.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Gloriosa Lilies





Okay, three different pictures of the same 2 blooms might seem a little extravagant...but you'll have to admit, these are some extravagant blooms. And, it's been almost 3 years since they've bloomed for me, the plants being the prime snail candy in my yard. It took chemical warfare this year to beat them back, along with a prolonged drought. That being said, as I walked outside in a drizzle (it RAINED!!), I spotted 4 snails....none of them close to this vine, or the other, surviving vine. They must be the two biggest rhizomes I had replanted, because they've grown and then been eaten back 3 times this year alone. Last year, I was going to have some blooms from this plant, this exact vine...but the hurricane broke the growing tip with the buds on it.
This year.. recovery and success!
















Tuesday, October 06, 2009

By the Numbers

Don't you just hate it when the person in front of you in a check out line has a problem with an item in his or her cart? And it's really busy, or there aren't many cashiers on duty---or both--- and there you are, stuck. Don't you hate it even more when it's YOU that is the person at the cashier with an item with a problem?

It never seems to fail. If I go into a store, be it W*lmart or the grocery store, I get to the checkout stand with at least one item that either doesn't have a price sticker... or the barcode scanner can't read the barcode. Personally, I think that, in these cases, the item should be free (yah, I know, it can't be, but a girl can dream). The irritating thing is, that it seems to happen, most often, to an item that you really need...or want...so that you don't want to just say, "Ahh, forget that item and go on to the rest."

I swear, I ought to charge money as a quality control shopper. Is there such a thing? 'Cause I'd make a GOOD one.

Armed and Dangrous...or... A Good Bank Shot...

As long as you have your wits (and some pool balls) you are always well armed.

Go Here for the full story.

Hat tip to Leslie.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

'Shroom at the Top..

Now that we've had a little rain, things are popping up.

Pretty things, strange things, and interesting.


Mushrooms are made for macro shots. I love digital cameras. A shot like this would have been difficult to impossible for me to get with the inexpensive 35 mm cameras I had. And I'd not have known if even one had turned out, and so would have had to use most of a roll of film to get one or two good pictures.

I'm pretty pleased with how these turned out.


Well, wouldn't you be?

The Same Old Refrain

The last few weeks, the same words have come up every meal time with my mom. "EAT, Mom, EAT."

It got so that, I estimated (generously) that she was, perhaps, actually eating less than 400 calories a day. In total. She did this for about 6 weeks, and lost almost 40 pounds. This, while remaining almost motionless for most of the day, immobilized by two broken shoulders that couldn't be put into casts. It hurt to move, so she didn't. Add to that the heavy duty pain pills acting like an appetite suppressant, and a truly abysmal meal selection at the nursing home, and you get....400 calories a day and that only because we nagged.

Since then, for the last 2 weeks, the doctors have added another type of diabetes medication, an oral one, to supplement the insulin she normally used. This had the effect of stimulating her appetite and she's now eating. Not very much at a time, but she's eating.

Perversely enough, while she wasn't eating and was only on insulin, her blood glucose levels were routinely in the 200's. How and why, other than a low level sinus infection (chronic) and some heavy duty healing attempted by her body... I do not know how the levels were that high. Now, with the extra medication and now that she's actually eating.. her blood glucose levels are in the 140's before each meal.

I can't explain it. Maybe a doctor can, and I'm going to be asking mine...Why?

Is a Puzzlement

Okay, 50 points for the first person who can correctly identify the movie I lifted ... errr... borrowed the phrase I'm using as the title to this post. I'll even give you a hint: It's about a teacher teaching English in a foreign country.

And oh, yeah, there's a lot of singing, some dancing and a really sexy bald guy in there, too.

So, back to the puzzlement.

Can anyone think of any reason someone could google the phrase:" Pleasanton motorcycle accident attorney " and come up with this blog?

Yah, okay, I know... NOW it would be expected. NOW I've GOT the phrase in my blog. But why did it lead some poor lost soul in need of a lawyer to a blog based in Texas?

Must have been a shock to get here, of all places. Not exactly the most helpful of destinations for anyone looking for a lawyer.

Oh, well.. back to the daily routine.

Ex-CET-era! (yes, that's another hint)

New Aquisitions

Well.. that was an interesting blog vacation. Didn't mean for it to be, but the last couple of weekends have pretty much wiped me out for writing. Both weekends were about 40 hour straight "shifts" with my mom. Last weekend, we spent in the hospital, as her renal function is dropping again and the doctors (and us!) are very concerned.

Still, it's nice to be able to spend that much time with her.

In other news, my sister has been able to close on her new house. She's getting a bargain, paying about half what the house and double lot is really worth, as it was in the process of being foreclosed upon, and the seller was...motivated. It's an older home, very close to the home of one of my mom's long time friends, and so, we knew its history. It needs some work, paint, updating (I'm thinking maybe some stainless steel backsplashes in the kitchen), and there are a few issues with a lack of plugs. Older houses rarely have the number of plugs one needs for modern life. We are, indeed a plugged in society.

But. There will be a bedroom for everyone who needs one, and a huge back yard for her puppy and grand kids to play outside. The gardens need some work. too. My sister claims, and rightly so, that she can kill a plastic plant, but I think I can come up with a few plants that will thrive on neglect and possible puppy chews, and still provide some privacy, beauty and maybe even a little fruit. They're close enough to the gulf down there that they can grow citrus, and papaya, banana, and all sorts of things I have to make sure I bring in or cover over the winter. We'll see if she'll let me help her. She's a stubborn cuss.

And no, I'm not stubborn. I am merely firmly resolved on various issues. There's a difference. I agree with ME. She doesn't. Therefore, I am not stubborn. Mostly.

Back to blogging, I've several posts that I'm behind on, so get ready for a flurry!