Monday, June 29, 2009


In dealing with Mother Nature I have learned that it is all about balance. Having been both a wife and mother I think I understand about balance. The most important balance one must have is in expectations and in how one deals with the willingness to fail once in a while. Whether gardening or raising children or solving a marital issue it is pretty much dependant upon the biology of the moment.

I have always been partial to hybrid tea roses. These plants are very temperamental and cannot be grown organically unless in a hermetically sealed greenhouse. I, therefore, knowing the challenges, had reasonable expectations in the failure and success of the new roses I planted in this yard. Of the five, one looked so bad this second year that I dug it up and tossed it. I did not expect my Olympiad rose to grow so well and so easily. The flowers are perfect in shape, last for days and make excellent cut flowers in arrangements and the plant has thus far been resistant to both bugs and fungus!

I had planted cosmos from seed and they have been somewhat slow to start, but flowers are now beginning to form. This was a surprise as the cosmos I see that is growing with little encouragement in the road medians seems to be very robust. I anticipate my plants will be robust in re-seeding and I will have to watch them closely next year so that I keep them in their place.

My sunflowers, on the other hand, have been so very sad. Several were eaten by rabbits until I sprayed pepper spray on them and also deer repellent around them. But even so, they are struggling to grow in this wet non-California climate. While this photo above was taken days ago and the plants are now over two feet, I must admit that sunflowers are not going to be something I try again.

The vegetable garden has rewarded us with spring crops and now we are harvesting our first tomatoes, cucumbers and raspberries. I find the most wonderful pleasure in getting all kinds of herbs from my herb garden that sits just outside the front door. This was something I dreamed about when I was living in the apartment in the city. These garden tomatoes above (our first harvest for this year) are garnished with basil and fennel...they look almost like a Christmas decoration.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Reptile Weekend

My grandson came to visit last weekend (Father's Day) and it seemed that all of the reptiles in our yard wanted to make his visit complete by putting on a show of support. The two frogs in the photos immediately above landed on the patio door windows as night descended, two different species within a foot of each other. Their suction-cup appendages clung to the glass and they peered into our room watching us watch "Kung Fu Panda" on the big screen TV. Maybe we should have invited them inside.

The two box turtles each made an appearance on opposite sides of the house during the daytime. One acted very much like a turtle and was totally terrified of Xman, probably with good reason. He kept his head hidden and he ventured only tentatively after we had moved inside to our lunch. The other turtle (top photo) was also terrified, but this resulted in a rather speedy run across the grass into the safety of the woods...fastest turtle in the East. He was the most stunning in color as well. (Don't let that angelic photo of my grandson deceive you. He is very much a Huckleberry Finn when it comes to manipulating those who love him.)

Xman was recklessly brave as only a four-year-old can be around them and even more brave to let this lightning bug crawl up his arm. We captured two lightning bugs and put them in the insect hotel, but they seemed to not appreciate the confined safety of a plastic room and did not let their lights shine during the evening as he drifted off to sleep.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Technology Transfer with Honey

In one of my first jobs I worked with a public services agency and did most of my work on the computer. Since I had just come from the mom world, I had much to learn about software and hardware. In those days the end user was responsible for defrags, backups, etc. Our tech people were quite nerdy and also in their insecurity happy to make you feel stupid. I was regularly reminded of how inadequate I was and was asked questions about the system for which I had no answers. The attitude of our tech department was that they were dealing with lazy and stupid children who would never learn anything. Having been a teacher in a prior life, my whole philosophy was that there were no stupid questions. Their attitude was that all questions were stupid.

In this prior life I was responsible for a survey regarding a price change for services that my agency was considering. We worked with universities and colleges and also the public and were required by law to survey prior to raising our service fees. As a result, this meant I had to monitor many emails for several months and record the responses.

The first thing each morning I would open my over-filled email box and begin the responses. On one particular morning I opened an attachment from the Dean of a university to print it and immediately my email box was filled with responses from my huge address book from everyone...many of them address invalid responses. Within five minutes the headquarters computer security office in the city called me on the phone and said I had a virus and to shut down my computer immediately. I did. I also walked around the building and posted signs telling staff not to open any email from me that morning. It was the Melissa virus.

I was very intimidated by this whole mess and knew that the 'nerds' were going to have a field day with me. Because they worked late hours none of the crew got work before 10:00 AM. I had to sit and stew for the first part of the morning without any computer. When they arrived, they immediately wanted to know what games I had been playing on the computer, what Internet sites I had visited, etc. When I revealed that I had opened an attachment from the Dean of a prestigious university it took most of the wind out of their sails. I did get some pleasure from that.

When I changed jobs years later the next job also had a staff of IT that felt it was necessary to belittle the 'client' and to even go so far as to correct their English on the help tickets being posted, even though there was a database that recorded this insolence. I took a totally new approach to working with these folks. No longer was I going to be the deer in the headlights. I became the chatty and praise filled client. Everything they did was golden and my questions were always coated with awe at how they did what they did. I ignored their snide remarks. It worked! We became the best of friends and I became number one on their help list when a problem arose. They even began to share knowledge.

This all came back to me when twice this week I was in IE browsing various blogs and when I clicked on a link the 'about:Tabs' starts up and keeps opening new tabs ad nausea um until I am forced to turn off my PC...actually I have to UNPLUG my PC as I get no response from the keyboard or off button!

My PC is an oldie but a goodie, but I guess it is is now beginning to show its age. Staples is having a half-price sale on PC maintenance---which I hope means more than vacuuming the inside of the box. Maybe I should look into this. I wish I had some rude nerds in the neighborhood.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Fresh Start

When the day is ending it means you get a fresh start once again. It means that you can rest with the knowledge that you battled well and made it through and will have a fresh tomorrow to face the demons with more energy and new spirit. It means that somewhere, some spirit places a cool hand on your fevered brow and smiles gently at how brave you have been thus far. It means that morning light will bring clearer thoughts and renewed dreams. The morning light will clean the edges and you can sort the real from the false. You will see how far you have come on this journey and reward yourself with that thought. Sigh deeply and be thankful that your are loved by more than you know. (For everyone climbing that extra large mountain these days.)

Monday, June 22, 2009

That Look

Remember that look that your mother gave you when you had stepped out of line? Remember that look that said 'I am NOT going to wait until your father gets home, kiddo!' It is the look of the 'all-woman/all-mother.' It is the look of fearless strength and defense-to-the-death attitude that women keep deep in the essence of their being. It is the look that clearly sends the message, "Don't make me go there." Well, it looks as though my granddaughter is already beginning to master that look.

And, of course, as every good grandmother knows, the best toys do not come from 'Toys R Us' or any other toy store.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

It's Just Another Day

After one of the more torrential thunderstorms had cleared a few weeks ago, we were rewarded with the view above from our dock. Actually, there were two rainbows both forming complete arcs across the end of the finger of the river. That more complete view was impossible to capture with my not-so-wide angled lens. Even capturing the colors of a rainbow, that mystical reflection of rays of light painting their way through the raindrop, is quite the challenge as this photo does not look as stunning as the real thing. It was sort of "you had to be there."

It never ceases to surprise me that rainbows create such a feeling of hope and euphoria in me. Maybe it is the electricity in the air that polarizes the brain cells; maybe it is the vastness of the arc that makes us appreciate that, tiny creatures that we are, we were saved from all the thunder and lightning; maybe it takes us back to the first time in our fresh youth when we saw our first rainbow. I don't know, but it sure does ring my chimes.

(This should probably be posted on 'my other blog' but I already have a line-up of pre-scheduled posts with some other photos waiting there! I am spending most of my time in the "room without walls" these days.)

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Friko's Meme

Friko tagged me for a meme a few days ago. I don't usually play along, but I have just gotten back from a funeral and am not yet in good blogging rhythm so decided to take her challenge. I wrote these answers shooting straight from the hip in about three minutes total. Only #11 and #15 caused me to pause and come back to them after some thought. If you are up to it or in blog stasis and need an idea I challenge you to play along.

1. If one song were to describe your life, what song would that be?
"She'll Be Coming Round the Mountain When She Comes." (In other words, eventually I will get where I am supposed to be, I hope.)
2. Which item of clothing do you wear most?
"Underpants" (Cute lacy things ;-))
3. When did you get up today?
6:30 AM---I actually slept in!

4. Last thing you bought?
Rose fertilizer
5. What are you listening to:
The Pink Martini (I saw them last week live.)
6. If you were a God/Goddess, who would you be?
Diana--she was the tough one.
7. Favourite holiday spot?
Some place that I have not yet traveled to. (Although if I never get to travel again I will say Bali.)
8. What are you reading right now?
A Thousand Splendid Suns
9. Favourite Film?
Out of Africa
10.First thing you do in Spring?
Smell the earth.
11.Funniest thing you saw in your life?
Well, I have answered all of the questions and come back to this and thought and thought. Something funny 'seen' usually means slapstick humor or a pratfall and I don't find those so funny anymore. I guess I haven't had a good belly laugh in quite a while and things I remember don't seem so funny anymore. (Now when we start playing a game of Ballderdash I sometimes laugh so hard I can wet my pants.)
12. Who is your hero/heroine?
Right now it is President Obama, but there have been many others before.
13. Share some wisdom?
Don't forget to breathe deeply as you start your day.
14. If you were a tree, what tree would you be?
A banyan...a big fat banyan.
15. Fictitious character/s who made a lasting impression on you?
Had to think for a while because most of those who impress me are real people, but I guess I will say Kermit the Frog and secondly Charlie Brown.
16. Four words to describe you?
Picky, happy, creative and curious. (Also fiercely loyal, but that makes a complex five.)
17. Why do you blog?
Why not? What else can I do with my words that, so far, gives me some complimentary feedback?

Monday, June 15, 2009

Greener Grass

We are back from the Tampa/St.Petersburg area in Florida. The tourist season is slow and the tourist beaches were not crowded. The daily to weekly rental places were busy, but the rental houses and condos were all empty.

We spent a Friday morning in St. Petersburg and were surprised to see the contrast in activity from our nearby city. The streets were quiet and parking was easy to find. Downtown Tampa was not much busier. Clearly the recession is here.

While we were happy to see many relatives from my husband's family we also were reminded about the difference in culture of the area. One of hubby's nephews is 55 and drives a florist truck for a living (his fourth career move) and another is living in subsidized housing at the age of 58 and has been drug and alcohol free finally for a year. Their children (adults) also seem to have no interest in anything other than hanging out while drifting from job to job.

The wife of one of the nephews brags that she has been a bartender at the same hotel bar for over 30 years. Several of the youngest are also divorced or working on their third marriage. None of this means they are terrible people. It is just a culture that my husband and I are not a part of. I do not denigrate this blue-color culture but the transient nature of the work means that no one really develops a skill...except for making drinks. It seems that the warmth and easy living of Florida does not encourage motivation to better oneself beyond a string of retail jobs. It was also a little bit of a surprise that the more successful members of the family did not cross the state to pay their respects.

You cannot pick your relatives and we all come from the same ancestral tree and they were all very polite.

This photo below is the famous Sunshine Bridge that crosses Tampa Bay. Many years ago a barge hit one of the supports to this bridge and it was shut down for some time.

Below is a photo I took in the park across the street from the art museum in the city. It turned out pretty balanced in composition and it actually might make a nice

Florida temperatures were in the 90's and the days were very humid and we spent much time searching for shade...even at the beach. It is good to get back to the 70 degree weather here and to try and catch up on blog reading.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Just Passing Through

I hate the fact that I am entering that time in life where the goodbyes are more often of a permanent nature. Everyone has had to bravely pass through this season in their life. I just hate that it is now my turn.

I sit quietly here blogging early in the morning. We stole my 2-year-old granddaughter for a visit on Sunday and she is now sleeping blissfully in the Pac-N-Play in our big is the quietest and darkest place on the main floor of this house. Thinking of her gentle breathing, I see life as a broad spectrum this morning. She has so much adventure ahead of her while others are moving on leaving her room.

My husband lost his sister-in-law last week. We were not close, but she had just visited our new home last year and I was so happy to see her in even better health and sharper spirits than she had been a few years before. Two of her five children had brought her on this trip. They had made careful plans renting an RV and planning for the needed oxygen tanks and other necessary baggage. She felt energized by this chance to get out on a travel adventure, we could tell.

We leave Wednesday for the memorial service in Florida, so blogging will be in stasis for a while, except for the pre-scheduled entries on 'my other blog'.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Stuff has over 15 definitions for the word 'stuff'. Clearly we are lazy and use this word a lot. Not as much a f***, but almost, being the vocabulary deprived nation that we are.

On my recent visit to Nassau this store at least admits that it sells stuff by the lettering over the door.

Above is someone's precious stuff that was thrown out onto the street when they could not pay rent two years ago.

I have lots of non-precious stuff that should be thrown out. What is non-precious stuff? This stuff is that object that is so rare that it has remained in that dusty box at the back of the closet for years. Non-precious stuff is that very useful gizmoo that you have never used that sits in the darkest part of the kitchen drawer. Stuff is that gift you bought that you never gave away which now sits on the top shelf of your closet just waiting to be noticed once again. Stuff is that brand new hand-held appliance that costs too much to repair and would break your heart to toss away and so it sits on the garage shelf waiting for 'someday.' Stuff is that pair of shoes worn to a wedding that will never again see the light of day. Stuff are those 1,000 fishing lures carefully organized in that Tupperware container in the garage. And, if you are like me, your stuff comes with stuff. I am thinking of the 4 pieces of two-foot square 2 inch thick pure white packing Styrofoam boards that sit awaiting creative genius so that they can be made into some grandchild's project. Unfortunately, I think I packed the creative genius in one of the (unlabeled) cardboard boxes in the closet.

I know that when I die my children will take most of my precious and non-precious stuff and give it away or just toss it into some landfill. I stopped buying folk art years ago because I knew I had too much non-precious stuff. While this thought of tossing bothers my husband because he is tied tightly to his stuff, I am really comfortable in knowing that I will return to dust someday and it is all just stuff!

Lately, I have been (once again) feathering my nest by adding stuff. We recently purchased some hose racks to hang our garden hoses. We just purchased two gold fish and a red waterlily for that fountain we bought last year. I also purchased several trellis stands for around the house to use on all the annual vines I am attempting to grow this year. Hubby bought a sprayer for the liquid fertilizer. We also had to buy two new cushions for the canoe and a long cushion for the patio lounge. I then purchased several new flower pots for the new deck as it was looking awfully bare.

In a fit of organization we finally got around to buying some pieces of peg board and some furring strips to use in the garage so that we could actually find stuff when we needed it.

We bought two new bird feeder hangers because we buried the others so carefully under brick that we cannot move them. (We try to move the feeders once a year because of salmonella issues.) We also bought another bird house to discourage the blue bird from moving into that silly little blue house without the ventilation and drainage. We failed in that attempt, of course, and we now have a brand new empty birdhouse.

We had received a gift of a hammock net from our kids after our long-ago trip to Belize and I finally purchased a hammock frame that we will put together someday soon(!). I had moved one of the deck tables to the patio area so I had to purchase a new small table for the deck to replace it.

The problem with all this purchasing of stuff was that I promised myself when I moved into this house, that I would start a simpler lifestyle. No more stuff! I told myself it was now time in my life to be more zen, to be more accepting of bare space. (I had lived, quite happily I will add, for almost a year on 60 pounds of household goods delivered to my apartment overseas when was younger. Therefore, I know I do not need much stuff.) Having currently failed this promise to myself --- miserably, totally, agonizingly--- I promise this fall I am going through our large basement storage room and begin the process of getting rid of stuff! We have lived here almost two years and not used some of the STUFF down there at all. Who knows, maybe we have someone else's stuff mixed in with our stuff!

Next I will start on the kitchen where I have at least three of every single thing from all of my prior moves, including an entire set of cobalt blue goblets (14) that I have been unable to give away. (Pay the shipping and they are yours!)

Last I will start on the closets. When there are only two of you living in a house, you take over the empty closets...all of them and fill them with more important stuff. The kind of stuff that has to stay in boxes which are never opened, so you forget what is there.

Stuff will take over your life. It will become the pack leader in compiling your list of how you want to spend your time. I have found maintaining stuff consumes too much of my day already. Stuff, begone, I say!

This was my son's bedroom when we lived in the rental house years ago.
He was trying to create a sound studio in one corner...there is way too much
stuff here.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Turtle School - Olde Style

I hereby declare today "Tabor's Blog Silly Day." I think my brain is slowly melting from the increasingly warmer weather and longer days. It seems that I can no longer form words with my fingers...q2m0mng, enowj naoeoinh! (Click on images to be able to read!)

(Taken on a nearby freshwater lake.)