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fat striped caterpillars....

Monday, July 25, 2016
.. getting bigger by the minute as they consume my parsley. The plant is in a big concrete container near the front door, and covered with maybe a dozen yellow and black caterpillars in various sizes, merrily chewing their way up the nearly bare stalks of parsley. You know I am seriously math impaired, so not sure how many. Every time I counted them yesterday afternoon, when I noticed the parsley plant was virtually leafless, I got a different number.

I'm not sure what sort of butterflies I can expect as the end product of those fat happy crawlers being so well fed on my herb plant. But I am very optimistic, expectantly looking forward to having a great crop of beautiful butterflies flitting around when this crop of chubby caterpillars transforms into winged wonders. I'm guessing if I had not smooshed the big fat green horn worm on the tomato plant, it would have made a cocoon and eventually turned into something far more attractive, but instinct caused me to act before considering.

The expert google-er reported those insects eating my herbs also like Queen Anne's Lace, dill weed, and will become big pretty, yellow and black Tiger Swallowtails when they complete the life cycle. Hopefully, if I can pay close attention, I will see the location of the the cocoons, to watch for hatching. I would love to see metamorphosis actually occur, and be witness when they emerge and spread their wings to get ready for flight.  I've seen it on a film at the Callaway Butterfly Center, but never in real life. And since I spend so little time at home, it is not likely I will see it happen. But wouldn't that be the coolest thing?

book review: "If I Am Dead or Missing"...

Sunday, July 24, 2016
...by Janine Latus. Subtitle: 'A Sister's Story of Love, Murder and Liberation'.  I did not actually 'read' it, but have been listening to the set of eight CD's checked out from the library last week. Riveting story. I found myself, more than once, arriving at my destination and just sitting someplace in the car, with the AC running, listening. Unwilling to stop the recording, in a parking lot at work, or in the carport at home, waiting to hear more. Copyright 2007, read by the author.

Most of the story is about the author's experience, growing up in Michigan, in a Catholic family with siblings, and a very dysfunctional father. Leaving home as soon as she was of legal age, struggling to finish high school, living with friends, bunking in family rooms/dens on couches, feeling like a misfit. Some sexual abuse, a rape in her late teens, so lots of emotional baggage. Marrying a guy she met in the workplace, while she was attending college, working towards a journalism degree. He was in the medical field, already married, but fell into a relationship with Janine.

When dysfunction meets dysfunction, there are bound to be blowups. They eventually got married, he had half custody of two small children, so there was 'instant' family. He was demeaning, demanding, insecure, emotionally and physically abusive, as well as bullying when he would continually remind her he was the primary source of income. Their home was a battleground, with constant criticism, self-doubt, demands, recrimination, with sweet interludes of harmony and peace, as well as fierce, needy sex, when they would make up after a battle .

The title refers to her sister Amy, who met a man online, while living in TN. This guy was Bad, seriously, with a capital B. Unemployed, criminal record, alcoholic, philanderer. But Amy loved him. And wanted to believe he loved her.  Amy had a job good enough to support him, and most of his bad habits. She agreed to buy him a truck and trailer, supplies to start a painting business.

When she did not show  up for work, though she was well liked by co-workers, dependable, responsible, they began to think something was amiss. Where upon they found an envelope taped to the inside of a desk drawer in at work, with an outline of her suspicions, as well as description of all the funds she had loaned/invested in Ron. Her body was found two weeks later, at a house construction site. Where it had been buried, wrapped in a canvas painter's tarp/drop cloth. 

The narrative takes you through many conversations Janine had with her sister, about men, life, love, living with men, self-recrimination, anxiety over being single/alone/lonely and fear of the consequences of having to live on one income. None of which are grounds for a man to strangle a woman, and hide the body. I'm left with the thought that men 'hold the power' due to pay inequality. If women were paid for their skills/talents/abilities at the same rate as their male counterparts, our society would be a different place.

it must have been 100 degrees out there...

Saturday, July 23, 2016
... and I probably got 'way too hot yesterday, as I had a headache that would not quit until bedtime. Which is, I think, a sign of overheating and dehydration. There were frequent breaks/trips back inside to cool off and drink water, replenish fluids, but it was a blistering day, at minimum in the high 90's during the afternoon. Plus I piddled around in the house, doing some of my famous 'condensing and sorting' till mid-morning. When I knew the smart thing to do would be go on out and get the work done early in the cool of day. Oh, well...

It was a very productive day. Starting with turning the laundry basket over in the kitchen, to go through all that paper, misc., and etc,. that had been accumulating on the counters for days, weeks, months, maybe even years. Putting the 'Theory of Condensation' into practice. But I can smile now, as there is Nothing at all cluttering my work space.

Then, I went out to put the wheel barrow to use. Picking up tree trash, from lots of wind and thunderstorms that have blown through in recent days. Thankful for the rains that usually come with all the noise, but it also causes stuff to fall out of the many trees we have on our lot. A few really big limbs that I had to drag up to the street for trash truck. Along with a number of trips up the driveway pushing the barrow loaded with smaller stuff piled high.

Another little project I wanted to get done: divide a plant in a large pot into smaller ones. I purchased what is hopefully a flowering almond tree back in the spring,when volunteering one day at the Callaway Gardens Spring Plant Sale. I suspected all the little plants in the big three gallon pot came from a single stump someone wanted to get rid of. I've been keeping in watered, watching it grow, and finally took the time to repot.

Now I have nine of the little plants, no bigger in diameter than a pencil and maybe twelve inches tall, all in pots. Plus two I planted out in the back yard, where I hope, with faithful watering, they will flourish, and eventually grow into beautiful, decorative spring-flowering trees. They serve no purpose, make no edible fruit, but glorious to behold in the early spring when covered with blushing pink blooms.

About mid-afternoon, I came in tired and dirty, and got cleaned up to go to a volunteer job down at the Rivercenter. The city was sponsoring an event/conversation about policing and the racial harmony for the public, called 'Galvanize'. (In my opinion, a very poor word choice). A pretty good crowd showed up, concerned citizens who wanted to hear what the city officials had to say. Poor sound system made it difficult to clearly hear the officials who were speaking, moderating, causing me to leave the auditorium after about thirty minutes. Meaning I did not hear much of the conversation, and hope the city feels it was helpful, opening doors for more discussion, and peaceful resolution to questions/doubts.

a personal theory...

Friday, July 22, 2016
...of housecleaning, which has proved to be an effective way of eliminating clutter. First you do all the laundry that needs to be done. This will make you feel very productive. It also provides great deal of satisfaction when everything from all the baskets is clean and hanging in it's proper place in various closets or tucked into appropriate storage.

Then you use all the empty laundry baskets to wipe all the clutter from every horizontal surface where it has accumulated. Clean off all the counter tops in the kitchen where flotsam and jetsam lands when everyone walks in the back door. Remove all the oddments from tops of dressers and chests-of- drawers in the bedroom. Swipe everything that has cluttered the dining table into a basket. Get a dust cloth and wipe the cosmic fallout off, so every flat surface that was covered is now sparkling and spotless.

Now comes the hard part. You have to put half of that stuff in the trash. It's been sitting around for so long, un-looked at, unused, un-needed, it is obvious you don't really want it in your life. So all those pieces of junk mail, wee little screws you find lying on the floor that fell out of who-knows-what, socks with no mate: toss 'em. Or put what you can in your recycle bin.

Yay! you've done a great job, and have the baskets whittled down to manageable.  I'm sure some of what's left is things you need to donate to the Thrift store. Be sure to make a list and get a receipt to take it off your taxes next spring.

Start sorting through what's left and decide if you really need to keep those documents, and file them away in some semblance of order or you will never be able to locate when needed. If you are a tech whiz, smarter than I, you can scan and store in computer, right?   That is going to get rid of the rest of the paper, so you can shred what's still left and use it to compost/mulch in your back yard.

At this point, there should be only about one fourth of the mess you started with. This is, sadly, things you are not yet ready to part with, so you will be forced to find some place to put the remaining stuff until next time. Even so, don't you agree that my Theory of Condensation is working beautifully?

I'm going right now to start emptying the laundry basket sitting in my kitchen. I will not put that stuff back where it came from, so most will likely go to  be donated to the thrift store. And become the property of some other sucker who wants clutter.

an accidental tradition...

Thursday, July 21, 2016

...got started several years ago when I (must have, but don't really remember it happening) offered to provide a gigantic fresh flower arrangement for the opening reception of an annual event. The local Artist's Guild puts on a show each summer, giving all the members an opportunity to allow the locals in the community to view their work. Any one who is a dues-paying member of the Guild is permitted to display one piece of art, where it is hung in the gallery of the University Art Department building. Most of the art is two dimensional, paintings done swith oil, water colors or acrylics. But there are some sculptures and the occasional turned wood carving bowl or glazed and fired ceramics.

There is a really nice reception, with a number of awards given, amounting to considerable generous donations by community members. The university catering service puts out a very elaborate spread with enough food and drinks to make a meal of things you eat with your fingers, while standing around chatting up the other attendees. As we all know, nothing in life is free, but I am not in the know about how much the rental of the space and the reception food costs. When you use their space you must use their catering service, so you can't go the potluck route like us artiste's usually do.

My part is the big cut flower arrangement sitting on the table with the eats, in the big silver champagne cooler. The container was the prize for winning a golf tournament years ago, and comes out of the box about once a year to go someplace and be decorative, look elegant as part of a high class event. It's an enjoyable endeavor, due to the fact that I nearly never have the opportunity to do things on that scale. And also challenging, to fill a large container with fresh cut flowers and greenery, when there is sot of a load limit, maximum capacity it will hold.

when old and forgetful...

Wednesday, July 20, 2016
... and not able to tend to things that medical community deems basic necessities, those Daily Living Activities, we need to have a plan. I've been thinking about that quite a bit recently, as I do not think the aging Auntie has put serious consideration into her preferences. If she has, she certainly is keeping it a closely guarded secret, which is first cousin to making no decisions at all. In the manner of the ostrich hiding his head in the sand: if you don't see It, it can't see You, right?

Sadly the freight train won't stop barreling down the tracks when you close your eyes to make it disappear. We need to all have a plan. This is not the time to mention that the man who lives in this house does not. Though I have asked, the best answer is 'I hope it doesn't happen', which is probably even worse than sticking your head in a hole.

I recently read a little article about ways for saving money. There was one suggestion applicable to veterans, about a resource for care givers. Funds that are available for people who have been in the service, and needing assistance. Monies to help provide in home nursing or respite care.

A bit farther down in the article was The Hint that really caught my eye. Instead of adding onto your home, to provide housing for an aging family member, there is the option of putting Granny in a Pod. Similar to the pods you can have movers deliver to your house, for you to pack up all your worldly goods and then transport to the location of your choice. No one else is packing, abusing your stuff, and you get to do it at your leisure (more or less), then call the guys with the truck to have it relocated when ever.

Did you know you can get a pod designed for a residence? Me neither. Though I have long thought the solution to lots of housing problems is all those shipping containers sitting around rusting in ports, behind commercial businesses, used for storage or worse: empty. It would not take some college students looking for a project long to figure out how to make efficient use of the interior space, and engineer a basic plan that would transform an oversized bread box into safe housing.

I need to get busy paring down, letting go of 'stuff'', so everything will fit in a semi-trailer. I've actually seen the cargo containers, stacked high, in a residential setting, where someone was living in the boxes. You just need to figure out how to make them live-able, to suit/fit your needs. My bad knee tells me I won't be climbing stairs, so my pod will be much smaller, like the faddish Tiny Houses.

an amusing little anecdote...

Tuesday, July 19, 2016
...that is a post script to all the flying over vast expanses of salt water earlier in the month. The thoughtful people at Delta Air decided they would include all the movies you can watch free when you are flying in their planes. How convenient that July 1 was the first day to take advantage of this newly implemented policy: the very day we started our travels.

So while I was trapped in that metal tube winging across the Atlantic I had the opportunity to get all caught up on my movie watching. Most of the second run ones at the 'cheap seats' (where the tickets average two bucks) are some I enjoyed up in the air. Since I rarely get to the 'walk in', the idea of having a great wide assortment at my fingertips was quite a treat. Especially since I do not have the knowledge or the patience to operate the television here, that requires three different remotes to actually get the movie going.

Superman vs. Batman, Whiskey Fox Tango, Hail, Caesar, Zootopia, Eddie the Eagle, Allegiant, Hello, Doris, and more I don't recall at the moment. Several on the way over, when I still had reading material. And even more on the way back to the US, when all the paper books had been consumed.  After being so desperate I thumbed through the mostly promotional magazine in the seat back, I plugged in the ear buds and scrolled through the options. Amusing myself for hours. There were also a number of offerings that had been seen on HBO and Netflix, as well as several from commercial television I would not have seen.