Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Bewildered and Wiping Away the Tears

I taught in Carson Colorado for a year many years ago.  This is just outside of the city of Colorado Springs.  I hiked and skied the nearby mountains and know the area pretty well.  I do not know people there now, but it does not diminish the tears that I am shedding for these families running from this terrible and very large fire.  I have a brother and SIL in Boulder and am hoping so hard that this fire stops soon.  Droughts and heat and an angry planet.  I have another brother outside of Fort Collins who is still safe from the fire they say they have contained.  Worry follows me everywhere these days.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Epiphany...Ask the Peanut Gallery

I just realized that I have a reasonable number of readers who slog follow along with my convoluted elaborate writing, egocentric ideas and pithy conclusions.  Not all blogs can master all three of the above as successfully as I seem to do.  So then  Therefore, I had this epiphany.  These readers, you-all, are a source of ideas, wisdom and free advice.  When I have a bold decision to make and I am beginning that journey of weighing the pros and cons on some project, I should perhaps ask the pros in the ether-sphere what they suggest.  (I want to warn you that I rarely end up taking good advice, and my life has been richly rewarded with many roadblocks along the way as a result of that.)

As I mentioned a post ago, I am in the process of replacing my 1998 Mazda 626 car.  I loved this car the day I purchased it and it has only recently been giving me difficulty.  It is in reasonably good enough condition (the photo above is not my car---my car has a few dents and dings) with >130,000 miles on it, but I am mentally ready for something a little larger and envious of all those nice new technological things like Bluetooth and GPS which will take me years to figure out how to use.  A working radio would also be a nice surprise since mine works only on and off these days.  Although I am moving away from the endless number of infant and toddler chairs that keep getting put in the back seat, as you know my son is getting married in the distant future, if mother nature agrees there will be more little grandchildren then I must keep this in mind.  So, I am keeping two of the 3 infant seats in storage!  The third goes to the church store.

I do not want to spend more than 30K and much less if I can get away with it.  I have always bought the truly lower end cars because of budget constraints---which I am sure I will get a nice nod from you-all, but this time I think I should reward myself with something a little nicer.  I spend 16,800 K on the Mazda that many years ago!   (Here she goes talking about MONEY again!)

I have researched the hybrids a little and a mechanic has told us they are a bear to fix if something goes wrong.  Therefore total electric cars are out of the picture.  I would like to buy American, but many Asian cars are really made to a great extent in America, so that broadens the picture.  I do not care about looks, but I do care about safety, reliability and comfort and a good view from that blind spot window on both sides!

If any of my readers have a car they recently purchased or know about that they love...please tell me about it in your comments.  I, in return, will give you all the free advice you want this year!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Money, Money, Money

Father's Day shone forth a clean light on my son's immediate future plans.  While we knew he was serious about this sweet woman he was dating, as parents we carefully kept the conversations to the general and casual.  He now admits that he is saving for a ring and will probably propose sometime this fall and wedding plans are most likely to occur around the 4th of July in the year ahead.  While it is a relief that he now discusses these important events so openly with us, I am now realizing I have to plan a budget as I was going to replace my car this winter.

For my daughter's wedding (which was a somewhat elaborate affair) we contributed 1/3, the in-laws 1/3 and the married couple themselves 1/3 of the cost.  My daughter's in-laws are New Jersey people and while reality television tends to overdo the colorful culture there, big weddings are a necessity it appears.  Some seemed to feel that the wedding won't hold unless there is a large crowd in a fancy hotel dancing the night away.  Therefore, her wedding was held in a fancy catholic church in Washington, DC (neither hubby nor I are Catholic) and the evening reception was held in a ballroom of one of the largest hotels in Washington, DC.  Hubby and I held the line to the lower end of the 5-figure amount which we donated, as we are much more practical and just couldn't give more without acid indigestion for a one-day ceremony.  My daughter attended another wedding that summer in New York City where the budget for the flowers alone was $50,000!  I guess it is all a matter of perspective and values and disposable income.  At that wedding, with flowers everywhere, I understand both sets of parents of the bride and groom were barely speaking to each other and the priest almost had to perform some kind of intervention.  He actually lectured both parents (in a polite way) at part of the ceremony!  Yeah, there is some satisfaction in the rich being so dysfunctional.

Maybe we were just out of touch and each generation is less conservative than the prior.  Lord knows my wedding cost less than $1,, flowers, dress and all.  But I was a poor graduate student and my parents did not offer to help when I told them I was engaged.  Perhaps because I didn't want to spend what little money I had on flying home from Hawaii for a home wedding since most of my (our) friends were there at school and our first jobs were taking us even further out into the South Pacific.  Although I must admit that both of us were surprised when neither of our parents felt they could spend the time or money to attend!  Yeah this IS a tragic story of the strange ways depression era old folks lose sight of what is important, but we survived and still talked to them after we got hitched and our marriage survived without a ballroom and is now 42 years old.  Years ago my sister and her husband eloped to  much for ceremony there.  Yes, they are still married and could actually have afforded a huge wedding as they are both attorneys.

Anyway, I told my son we would give him the same amount of money that we gave my daughter and he could use it any way that he wished toward the wedding, honeymoon, or savings for a larger house someday.  Perhaps we should add an inflation adjustment to that?  I try to be fair, but in all honesty my daughter and her husband make lots of money while my son and his future wife do not and I tend to be more sympathetic to that.

Hubby and I are comfortable in our retirement and we can be reasonably generous, so with great thankfulness we appreciate our situation.  But I also know that money can be a poisonous thing whether you have it or not.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Falling in Love Again

Two days of intense and painful swollen neck glands and a knife sharp pain on one side of my throat when I swallow has been the way Thursday and Friday have gone for me.  Heavy doses of pain killing PM sleep drugs to get me through the two nights.  I am home alone as hubby has headed to the city for a meeting and a doctor's checkup and a toddler's graduation.  Impossible to figure out how I caught this as my exposure to small children was not intimate at the seedling booth that I worked last week and I used the bacteria wipes at the grocery store as I always do...although I did sit with hubby in a doctor's waiting room, but never touched the magazines!

I am missing the toddler's (little gal) graduation from preschool with regret but was feeling so sick the regret is small.

On the third day I ate a sweet peach for lunch and then took a long afternoon nap.  When I woke at 4:00 PM it seemed the fever had finally lessened and my throat pain was no longer impossible to endure. I could actually swallow without thinking I had a knife plunged through one of my Eustachian tubes.

I pulled myself out of bed at long last.  Thinking my weekend visit with the kids coming here may get off to a great start after all.

Then just as I stepped out of the shower and dried my hair and put on fresh new clothes my best medicine cure arrived on dancing feet.  My 6 7-year-old grandson who came back with my husband ran into the house to greet me and see how I was doing.  He has lost both of the two front top teeth and both his bottom teeth and this toothless silly smile and lispy dialogue fills me with indescribable joy.

We had a 20 minute conversation about the loss of his teeth over the last few weeks,  the economics of the loss of teeth (such as daddy dropping one of the four teeth down the sink and they calling plumber to retrieve the dropped tooth).  I certainly went wrong in not teaching my children how to remove the elbow joint beneath the sink!  Then the next tooth was lost on the playground at school.  Several green bills later the fourth tooth is left with the tooth fairy and grandson has 12 dollars in his bank!!  Then our happy conversation drifts on to Harry Potter and how at 6 he has already read a shortened version of the first book and has brought the DVD with him so that he can finish seeing the visual of the story.  I ask if it is not too scary for him, and he insists he just gets scared at certain parts like where the troll is, but he knows it is just a movie.

Then with the twists and turns of magical conversations with young folk we talk about how he used to love Thomas the Train and how that time has passed so rapidly that he has forgotten the names of many of the trains which results in a brief search on the Internet down memory lane.

Then as I lay back on my sick bed, not really feeling sick anymore, he heads off to the kitchen where grandpa is making a grilled cheese sandwich with carrot sticks and freshly picked raspberries for dessert and the chore of picking more raspberries after dinner.

Remember when you fell in love and you could not do anything without working that person's name into the conversation, or working it into doodle or a daydream?  Well, it does happen again in old age.  I am so absolutely, positively lucky that this young boy has a happy and rich life and that he loves sharing it with me!  I do not deserve this, but I will not give it back!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Thursday Thoughts #37 Everything I Need to Know I Learned in My Garden---Thursday 13 Thoughts # 36

  1. I learned to accept differing points of view but to learn for myself by testing.  One man's weed is another man's treasured landscape plant.  I have purchased beautiful landscape plants from nurseries only to discover that they spread or re-seed like wildfire and then leave my yard to invade the rest of the woods.  On the other hand I have learned that one man's treasured landscape plant sometimes becomes a Prima Donna in my yard requiring too much attention.
  2. I have learned to think outside the flower bed and to compromise.  Do I want butterflies or parsley?  If I plant a lot of parsley there will be some left over and then I can have both.  (Now if I can only teach that ground hog how to compromise!)
  3. I have re-learned each day that change is inevitable and we all must adapt.  Some plants die, some plants are eaten to the ground and some plants get too large.  Perennial gardens are replete with changes.  Every season requires digging, moving and replacing.
  4. Target your enemies so that there is minimal collateral damage.  Picking off a few or spraying very specifically for the many insects such as Japanese Beetles while carefully avoiding all other insects means less harm to those birds that are also eating the insects in my garden and less harm to those insects that are beneficial to my garden.

  5. I have learned patience.  Plants take a long time to bring forth their reproductive beauty and instantaneous results are only for those who buy annuals in large flats.
  6. Keep your place, you are not a miracle worker.  While the intermittently large plant in the foreground adds interest, planting most tall plants in the background allows everyone to show off as is the same with people.  Also, as a gardener, you need to step back once in a while and let s**t happen without beating yourself up over it.  (The voles had a vacation in my dianthus bed this spring and the rabbits have eaten 90% of my zinnias I nurtured so carefully from seed.)

  7. Gardening is common ground.  Gardeners are wonderful people and can garden side by side even when on opposite sides of the political spectrum.  Disagreements almost always lead to compromise or changes in activity.
  8. Gardening is the only reality show that I like and watch each year.  It can cost money but if you are smart and buy from local garden club plant sales and get freebies from friends, you are more likely to get better and tested plants more cheaply.
  9. I have learned that fear paralyzes intelligent action.  Anger has to be provoked and many dangers are not as they seem or as you have been told.  Bumble bees and honey bees and all pollinators are so busy eating that they do not have time to sting unless you step on them or sit on them.  I can reach in and cut all the flowers I want as the bees dance around my arms.  This lesson has broader applications in life.

  10. Deciding where to start and how to start your projects are the most important preparations you can make.  Foundation is everything.  You have to know where the sun hits your yard and when and for how long.  You have to know the soil as if it was the back of your hand.  You have to amend this soil because it is the first and last meal for your plants and no soil is perfect.
  11. Opinions on style and design don't really matter.  Mother nature can pull together pink and orange and it looks perfect.  Mother nature can pull together large and small, smooth and prickly, and it always seems to fit.

  12. Sharing is the richness in life.  If you are lucky to have something to share, be sure and do so.  Pay back is the smile on their face and the bond you have made.  Share your garden knowledge with your grandchildren, share your produce with your neighbors or the local food pantry, share your plants with new gardeners, share your time with Mother Nature.

  13. And the most important lesson I have learned is to enjoy myself.  If I feel it is hard work, then I am doing something wrong.  Work should be a little refreshing, shouldn't it?  Maybe I just need a smaller garden.  Yes, mistakes happen. The best thing about gardening is that there is always a do-over next year.

Friday, June 08, 2012

Musically Inclined

Make sure you have your earphones on for this.
(Yes I am related to one of the artists.   If you like it softer you may like "Sadie".  If you like it edgier than listen to "Coming Attraction."  If you are from the Isles you may like "Whiskey Rose".)

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

An Obligatory Life Style?...Only if You Cook!

As I have written about in the past, my close neighbors own a very expensive sail boat which does not get taken out very often.  This summer they are getting ready for a month's sail around the Chesapeake Bay.  Since they are novice sailors this is a good start and I am glad to see they are using this expensive toy more often.  Boats are like fashion models in that they require a certain amount of attention, money and an unreasonable amount of maintenance.

We have another friend that lives 15 miles away on the water.  We had not been to visit their home in the time that we have known them but I kind of had an idea that it would be one of those places where various sheds are full of various project supplies, gardens and landscape beds are like fraying patchwork quilts popping up every where and the house would be spacious, welcoming, and needing lots of work.  I was not wrong, except for the rescue cat operation that I later learned about!  Since I am allergic to cats, I sent hubby on the work errand to this house.

When hubby returned I asked if they lived on the water.  He said yes and that they also had a boat at dock.  He went on to say that the motor boat was idle and had not been used in years.  It seems that the first time the owner took out the boat he had some problem that had to be fixed.  The second time he had his grandchildren for a boating day in this new boat and did not realize he had to switch on some water pump to keep the inboard engine cool and the motor eventually overheated and they had to be towed back home.  That boat has not left the dock since that event.  This is a more interesting anecdote when you learn that this man teaches classes on boating safety and the rules of the road for boaters!  He has admitted that he actually does not like boating...just helping teach others how to be safe on the water.

I often wonder how we get ourselves into these expensive hobbies which we do not really want.  It happens so often to boaters.  People retire to the water in Florida and immediately buy a boat because everyone else has a boat.  They have never been boating but dive in head first (to mix an image) and end up with a headache that taunts them every morning.  Living on the water and enjoying the view does not mean one has to boat or sail.  Living on a golf course does not mean one has to enjoy golf.  Maybe you just like a perfectly "manigroomed" back yard view.  Living on the side of a mountain with a snowy view does not mean you have to ski just because all of your neighbors ski.  Surely you will find other things you enjoy with them such as apres ski warm drinks.  Living in the lively city doesn't mean you have to eat out all the time...maybe you just want coffee and like people watching.  Living in the country does not mean you have to farm!

I think we try to fit our personal round pegs into those lovely square holes that we find without taking time to test the hole.  We think we need to be exactly like everyone around us.  But we don't.  EXCEPT, I will never understand people who have huge gourmet kitchens with every perfect appliance and tool and yet they rarely cook!

Friday, June 01, 2012

Horses, Horses,

One never knows what one can find driving in the country but the sweet scene below is no surprise...

Then again, driving to the strip mall can also be a sweet surprise...