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it's a mystery to me...

Monday, April 29, 2013
Sadly, it seems that there is something vaguely compulsive about visiting garden centers, and purchasing plants that one contracts (possibly pollen-borne or spring related illness?) from close friends and relatives. Lately, I have had a bad case of veering off into any garden center that appears on the horizon, whether there is any particular need/necessity for an item or not. Having a close friend, who consistently antagonizes his better half by such aberrant behavior, I think it could be that 'loss of control'-type behavior is contagious. It manifests in symptoms kinda like those bumper stickers you used to see about what would happen if the driver were suddenly overtaken by unexpected arrival of the rapture.

I 'accidently' stopped at a Lowe's garden center on Friday afternoon, while tooling along on my recent '599 mile round trip' across the state, returning from the coast.. I would like to have you believe that it was completely legitimate: as I had been looking for a couple of weeks for a specific plant to add color along the recently installed rock border in the north flower bed. I'd bought a small four-pack of perennials and planted them, then decided I liked them so good, I wanted more to look even more gooder. But could not find any locally - so I stopped at the big box. Where I did find a couple of pots I could divide, to add more color. Which I did on Saturday afternoon.

But when I went out on Sunday afternoon to water them, since the rains had not appeared, I discover: uprooted gazinias!!?? What in the world??? I replanted, along with putting several clumps of rescued dianthus back that had been mysteriously turned 'roots up' - and watered well. I am curious (though it is raining, and I hate wet socks) to see if those things I re-put in the ground yesterday are standing on their heads again today.

And as it gets curiousier and curiousier, I'd like to know Who/whatever would be rooting around in the nicely wet dirt to turn my plants up-side-down.... Armadillos?? Squirrels??? Sasquatch??? They were not consumed, so I don't imagine it could be deer (remember how the hydrangea plants literally disappeared overnight and the deer got blamed for enjoying the buffet?), but am baffled as to what would have wanted to turn some - but not all - topsy turvey and then abandon???

plant hi-jacking...

Sunday, April 28, 2013

I'd used a bit of surveyor's tape back in the fall and tied a tourniquet around some wildflowers I wanted to mark for digging when they were dormant. But somehow never quite got around to going with my shovel, bucket (and bag to put over my head for a disguise) to retrieve the plants over the winter months. It rained a bit late this afternoon, so I thought today would be the perfect time to casually walk down the street with my digging equipment, looking innocent, and do a bit of digging on the weedy roadside near the golf course.

So I put on my ninja outfit: picture me in the green Publix shirt, camo. pants, sneaky sneakers, bright orange hat so I won't get run over - which completely destroys the efforts to skulk around in the underbrush and become invisible. Gathered up tools, and went out to dig up the butterfly weed I had been admiring for several years. Discovered that there is a little tuber underground, and hope that I got enough to successfully transplant. Came right back home in the drizzly dusk and put them in the ground.

Oddly, this little plant is something that likes to be ignored, possibly mistreated, as they do well in very poor soil, blistering sun, and seem to thrive in near-drought conditions: pretty much what happens along the right-of-way. I've learned to give everything I plant, make the effort to dig a hole and put in the ground a good start, with amendments that will improve chances of success. I hope that putting the milkweed  in good nutritious dirt and watering well, will not be detrimental.  I will try not to be too kind and considerate and won't be 'babying' them once they give me a sign they have survived being relocated. Hopefully looking forward to the possibility of bright orange blooms that will bring butterflies in droves to my back yard.

Look at www.livemonarch.com to get  free milkweed seed. These people in FL will send them to you when you mail a SASE. You can start host plants to attract butterflies who sadly will consume their host (sounds like alien life forms - so you have to remember: just innocent little caterpillars trying to turn into butterflies.) And eventually you too can save the planet!
The monarch butterflies will thank you.

little white lilies all a-bloom

Saturday, April 27, 2013

I have this really neat population of  rain lilies blooming all over the yard. I know that is not the official name for the pretty little white blooms, and looked it up last year, to know what they really are. But all my life, I have called, and heard them referred to as 'rain lily', since they always bloom in the spring, around Easter, usually some time in April, and magically, mysteriously appear after a good drenching rain.

I decided to try to sell some bulbs last year, and went out to sit in the grass, digging them up after they popped up in the lawn, with thin green foliage, no wider than a piece of yarn or pencil lead. If you don't get them up when they are blooming, it's nearly impossible to know where to dig, so I spent hours out there as the blooms were fading to dig up at least a hundred bulbs. And assumed, thought, guessed, I had pretty much gotten them all out of the lawn. Part of the area where they were so prolifically growing was going to be turned into a straw-covered bed, where there would be azaleas and other things transplanted, after the grass was sprayed and died off. I didn't want to kill the bulbs, so I tried to dig them all up.

But failed miserably - and delightfully as well. I can't help but smile when I see them all straining on the ends of their tiny, frail stems, blooming as hard as they can, putting on a show. I was so pleased to discover my complete lack of success with the digging project, I went out and took photos to document what an astoundingly poor job I had done. There must be well over a hundred happy faces out there - all over the yard, in the grass - where they just amazingly, surprisingly popped up and started looking happy.

It's really named Atamasco Lily. I am going to go out when they are done being brightly beauty-full, and dig some more. It appears disturbing them, rather than being annoying, has been amazingly productive and helpful for producing a marvelous crop: so if you want some bulbs - let me know?

the 599 mile round trip...

Another 'stay and see Georgia' adventure, wherein I drive the width of the state and back again: almost from coast to coast (if you consider that the Chattahoochee River where it forms the borderline between AL and GA to be the west coast of the state?) I went to Savannah on Thursday afternoon and came back on Friday.

The original plan was that I would go over on Friday morning, and return on Saturday. I wanted to visit an elderly friend who is in nursing care in Savannah, moved several years ago from south GA by her family. She is not anywhere within the realm of what could be considered a 'happy camper'. Probably even more dis-satisfied with her circumstances now, and life in general than she was when she was living in her home, though pretty much house-bound due to declining sight. But she could not help but talk about going 'back home, and thinking of making a escape from the close supervision of nursing attendants and confines of a small room she is forced to live in, with no more than a bed, a couple of chairs, a dresser and chest of drawers. Nothing 'home-y' about it.

After I found myself on the schedule to work on Saturday, I had to alter plans, driving over to spend the night with a friend from years ago, when we were both Presbyterians. I have invited myself to come stay the night with her a couple of times in the past year, and enjoy spending time with her. She is a serious quilter, and has her beautiful art work all over the house, on the beds, decorating the walls, on the table as place mats, pinned to a wall size cork board in her sewing room, where she is assembling the next project. And has two daughters a bit younger than mine, so we have lots of things to talk about.

I was pleasantly surprised that I so adeptly found her house, with only one U-turn. Oh - and she also loves to ride horses, and has one boarded near-by. I went with her on Friday morning to feed and let her horse out of the barn, move into pasture.

Went to visit the friend in nursing home on Friday, and we went out to lunch. Pretty impressed that I only had to make one U-turn to get to the Nursing Home as well. And reluctant to admit how much 'guess-work' was involved in successfully finding it, as I had only been once, and came in from a completely different direction.

She is not mobile, though she says she can walk. I pushed her in her chair across the parking lot, to go to a cafe for lunch, and we had a good visit. She is so chronically dis-pleased with everything about her life, I cannot say the visit was 'enjoyable', but I am glad I went. And was back on the road for the three-and-a-half-hour drive across the state by about 2:00. It was a good, uneventful drive, with a gazillion shades of green showing in the new spring leaves of the trees along the highway.

wandering in north GA...

Thursday, April 25, 2013

There's a place up in them thar'  hills that I'd heard about, and wanted to see. The first info. last spring was from the local county agent, who was trying to get enough people interested. Her plan was to charter a bus  for a day of sight-seeing. I understand that the sights are well worth seeing in March and early April when literally thousands of daffodil bulbs are blooming out in the natural landscape. That effort last year did not come to fruition, but this lover of spring blooms has kept the embers warm. Really wanted to go: in early March, so I purchased  tickets and laid plans.

But the lingering cold winter winds blew those plans into oblivion.Yet, with tickets in hand, having already committed my funds, I was determined to get there. So we went yesterday, F and I, wandering the two lane roads, twisting and turning through the hills and valleys.Waylaid with a U-turn, pulling over, where we found the 'best boiled peanuts' in  - - - -  County.  (GPS is not what they would have you believe.) It was a beauty-full spring day, pleasant weather, luscious shades of green all over the hills of north Georgia - every tree a different tint, and grass in pastures so remarkably colored, a rich dark green, it looked artificially colored - like stadium turf..

This garden, developed by a man who operated a landscaping company in metro-Atlanta, covers about two-hundred acres, some of it cleared, but much left in the natural state,with gravel paths for access, open to visitors. There was a group tour there when we were, and I can imagine how crowded it could be for special events. Or during the height of daffodil blooming season. In fact - I did imagine, and was lured into turning in my one-day tickets for a season pass that will be good until this time next year.Which is part of the reason I let myself be 'lured', as the daffodils were about ninety-five percent over already. Lots of things were blooming: sweetly smelling, gorgeous beds of pansies were still bright and colorful; huge Viburnum shrubs were covered with showy white snowballs, the fern dell was filled with lacy foliage and unfurling fiddleheads.

 The story of the tickets reminds me of a t rip years ago to the Chattanooga Aquarium. When we went, the lines were for-ever. So we went in a little side door, where someone said you could skip the interminable wait and get  immediately if you had a family membership. Which we bought. So were thereby required to go back and revisit the fishes and fascinating educational exhibits again before the annual membership expired.

I have tickets for two to Gibbs Gardens, good until April 24, 2014.Any time you want to go - let me know?


Tuesday, April 23, 2013
I have a big round shallow plastic dish out in the yard, that I try to keep filled with water. It's been sitting out there in the flower bed for a couple of years, and I try to keep it cleaned, and refilled with refreshing drink when I go out and drag the hose around. stuff. But I had never seen anything (other than Lucy the Cat) enjoying it. When I looked out the window late yesterday afternoon, I saw a bright red cardinal happily splashing around, having a wonderful time in the dish, that is now Officially a bird bath.

There are a couple of  shallow dishes, that are really plant saucers out in the front, where all the daisies are still being so gloriously glorious. I occasionally see Lucy drinking here as well, but think the cardinal has found them too, as I noticed perched up on a tree branch above the one nearest the fence. I was  so delighted to see a bird fluttering, flapping, stirring, swishing around in the water yesterday, I went out this afternoon and put more fresh water, hoping to attract others. Since there are lots of cats around, I have been reluctant to put out bird feed, but think there is lots of wildlife that would be attracted to and enjoy fresh water. I will try to take a photo the next time it happens, and get my tech support to install it here.

so... how was your trip?

Sunday, April 21, 2013
Very nice, thank you. I had a great time being with family, just hanging out, sitting around talking.

Just going that far north, that much distance from where I sit here in middle GA - it was amazing to realize I had the opportunity to enjoy spring all over again. I saw some huge, beautiful bushes of forsythia - looking like thousands of tiny yellow butterflies hovering together. Lots of dogwoods out along the byways and planted in yards - more pinks than people care to plant around here. Azaleas still loaded with blooms - in some places so covered with bright red, they looked on fire. Gorgeous swags of lavendar, aromatic wisteria twining through the treetops out in the woods. Lots of happy, smiling daffodils nodding in the breezes. Masses of luscious tulips, planted in huge beds, enough to make your mouth water- surrounded by so many pansies you could not see the dirt.

A sweet, round, happy baby. Who is trying her best to figure out how to crawl. They get up on all fours, and then don't know what to do next, so they sway a bit, then collapse, to roll over, get back up into a sitting position and start over.

I accidentally bought some flowers. When we were at a street fair, I saw some gallardia that the grower said she had started from seeds, and had just that morning dug up in little clumps to bring into town to sell. The gallardia is also known as 'blanket flower' and found in places most flowers cannot tolerate: at the beach. In the hot, dry, salt laden sand - they bloom all summer in spite of miserable growing conditions. Mine are supposed to be red, instead of yellow/orange.

I had to hesitate before I bought them, with a small fear that they would not get through airport security - but then I thought: plants. Only dirt and green stuff. Not a weapon. So I got two clumps, wrapped in damp newspaper, and tucked in a plastic grocery bag.

But TSA wasn't so sure they were harmless. I now wonder if they might be contraband, or some drug that is  legal in California for medicinal purposes only. I left my little plants in my backpack and put it through the x-ray scanner, and the guys decided they needed to inspect my stuff. Probably my fault - as I forgot to take the little zip-bag with toiletries out, and also had a bottle half-full of water. We enjoyed going through my stuff. They checked through all my business, kept the water bottle, and let me go. He told me I could drink the water if I wanted, but I would have to go back through the scanner if I did, so I told him it was his bottle now. Why they would want to scan my water, inside my person, I will never know.

Got to the gate as they were boarding, so that was perfect timing. whew.

TSA was sorta 'frisky'....

I had to confess that I had never been 'adult' enough to get my own boarding pass and make my way through the process of being inspected from the inside out by the defenders of the air: TSA. Why are they all so grumpy? Is it in the job descripition? Do they have to practice their best 'cranky' face as part of the hiring process? Man - they are a bunch of sense-of-humor impaired people - always acting so stern and forbidding, hyper-serious and scowling at all the happy travelers.

I was pretty impressed with myself for deciphering the info. on the Delta site enough to print my boarding pass from home. And be ready to head towards the filtering-out line as soon as I got to the terminal. My driver obviously did not think I had enough sense to know how to get through the line, down into the bowels of Hartsfield-Jackson and back up on to the level I needed to be to get on the airplane. Just because I have never, not ever done it on my own before, and I would wake up on the middle of the night pondering just how the process works, and what the path is from the front door/check-in to the passage way onto the airplane is not reason to think I'm less than capable. Just because I have always been following someone else who was far more experienced, knowledgeable and flight worthy doesn't mean I can't stop and ask forty different people what to do next.

So I hoisted my bag over my shoulder, and my backpack on my back and got in the line for the TSA inspection. And thought to myself, as I usually do: 'this is the time when you should be wearing flip-flops', as everyone has to go through the machine shoeless with their footwear inching through the x-ray machine empty. Cleaned out all my pockets,dropped it all in the bin with my shoes, and processed my way through the line. When I came out of the big scanning machine, they asked me to step aside. I thought: uh-oh. The great big Amazon who pulled me over, said she was going to put her hands on my chest. I was pretty stunned, but knowing I didn't have any thing even remotely interesting in my shirt, I said ok. She asked if I had a chain on, and I pulled a tiny necklace with tiny-ier beads out of my shirt. She wanted to fondle me anyway, and I told her they had probably seen the underwires in my underwear. She did not smile, or smirk or find that in the least amusing. But after she put her hands on my 'chest', she let me pass on through.

I put on my shoes, gathered up my pocket misc. and was on my way. Only about twenty minutes early, so I got on without further incident. I had to call P. to get her to remind me what she called the longest, highest ever moving steps, when she was coming back from three months in India. It is unofficially The Escalator of Happiness.

traveling on a cloud...

Friday, April 19, 2013
I am traveling again,but not another one of my famous 'stay and see georgia' trips - this one took me up in the clouds and across the landscape at an amazing speed.I never fail to wonder how something that massive and weighty can get off the ground - much less travel such distances before coming safely back to the earth. I am in Virginia visiting family, people I am crazy about and seldom see.

So interesting to travel as the seasons are changing and see the difference several hundred miles can make. Things that have faded after spring showiness in middle Georgia are beautify-full here. Redbud trees and dogwoods fill the woods, with lots of deciduous trees just beginning to leaf out, so you see plenty of the ones that are gloriously blooming. Massive bushes of brilliant forsythia covered with tiny yellow bursts of color, looking like the clouds of yellow sulphur butterflies that congregate in puddles on dirt roads in south Georgia. Breathtaking tulips - planted en mass in quantities that make your mouth water.Clumps of wee light blue blooms of wildflowers along the right of way shouting out with their teeny little smiling faces, saying: Spring, spring, spring! Birds chattering furiously in the trees - looking for spouses, ready to search for nesting material and raise a family...

And the clouds of pollen wafting through the air, actually visible, blowing across the landscape, making the world oddly colored through the haze, and the need for a good drenching rain a major topic of conversation.

I remember a summer many years ago, when we were in a severe drought from early in the year, and we never really actually had spring, so many things died or did not bloom due to lack of rainfall. By the end of May much of the green of grasses had turned to dehydrated tans and fried looking khaki-brown. I found myself traveling to visit a friend in upper New York State - and amazed to see such green-ness. Their winter had obviously been wet, and everything there, almost to Canada, was gloriously surprisingly green. Such a dramatic change from the desperately panting south Georgia I'd left when I flew north - and somehow so much easier to breathe the air that was mysteriously refreshing as a result of massive quantities of chlorophyll.

This  spring has been much wetter than those of recent years. I heard mention on public radio that one of the north Georgia lakes, part of the Corps of Engineers resevior system is at full pool. They have been serciously, or maybe critically low for years, and to have them full to the point that all the floating docks are floating again, instead of languishing on the clay banks is unusual. As I have traveled to TN and SC and passed over several of the huge man-made lakes used for both recreation and a water source in north GA, I have been alarmed at how low they've been. But perhaps this winter and spring of generous rains will turn things around, though the experts say the drought danger is not fully over.

the meaning of snafu, part 2

So the first words Jay said "do you know the meaning of 'snafu'?"

And my answer: "Yes, I know both meanings" baffled him, as he apparently thought there was only one.

Here's the story of how something obscene came to be filtered through the mouth of my dad, and turned into harmless, though not particularly socially acceptable. When I was a kid, growing up in a house, where my dad had served in the military for many years, I was told that the acronym represented the Army expression (and you know how the gov't loves an acronym!): Situation Normal, All Fouled Up. Ggenerally applicable to anything related to government inefficiency - which is understandably commonplace and completely mind-boggling-ly irritatingly likely when dealing with any federal agency, especially the things that move with the implacable speed of the DOD.

Only to many years later, after I had learned and prolifically used more than my share of red-neck language, to discover that the fourth word in the expression was indeed a four letter word, and one that started with the sixth letter of the alphabet, but was not something as mundane and repeatable as 'foul'. But instead something that would not be used in polite company... and I am sure My readers (all three of you), with your tender ears have never been exposed to such ill-mannered language.

the meaning of snafu

This is really an update on my friend Jay. He was the topic of the blog back in early April - the one that most of my three readers found alarming instead of the hoped-for amusing. With what must be a tragically warped sense of humor, I was under the mis-impression that all would find great humor in getting to the end of the post and discover it was all a huge, hilarious joke, as it was written on the first day of the month. Apparently I was the only amused one - besides Jay, who, even in dire and incarcerated circumstances got a laugh when I wrote and told him the backstory of a long history of poorly planned pranks pulled on unsuspecting family members.

My phone rang in my pocket yesterday morning, when I was out walking, and when I answered with hello?, the voice on the other end inquired: "do you know the meaning of 'snafu'?" My response was that I know both meanings - and then I recognized the voice: it was Jay! He is out!

I asked if he had been allowed to keep his orange jumpsuit as a memento of his vacation, to include in his scrapbook. I was thinking he might miss wearing it, and would want to occasionally put it on for old time's sake, like a little kid with a special blankie or stuffed animal used for comfort. (Not so funny when incarcerating facts are considered.) He was probably delighted to be wearing his own clothing again. I asked if he was wearing any court ordered jewelry, like possibly an ankle monitor. He said not, but that he bail-bond office just across the street from the jail has a genuine, authentic ball and chain with the attachment device for applying to an ankle still intact - reportedly from the island of Alcatraz.

He also said that he had been able to decline all the offers of jail-house tattoos the inmates had offered, and hopefully had been able to resist the charms of all who were interested in starting a romance as well. I'm so glad he is out, back in the world - able to breath fresh air, look up and see the sun and blue sky - clouds floating by, return to the commonplace, ordinary joys of living in America.

I told him how delighted I was that he called to share the fact of freedom. And how often I mention to people who have good news to share that it blesses me just to hear them tell of happy-ness in their families and lives. Times where there is so much goodness going on that it seems like their joy overflows and they have to share it around, they are so full of peace and goodwill it will start oozing out of their pores..

So many people seem to look at the world, their circumstances, life in general, and see their particular portion as 'glass half-empty', it brings joy, smiles, often tears of delight to hear family and friends share those things in life that bring overflowing joy. So thanks to those who look at their days as 'glass half full', optimistic positive and looking forward into each new day as filled with opportunity. (MF included) And thanks for  sharing!

watching the world go by...

Tuesday, April 16, 2013
I went out walking late yesterday afternoon. After puttering around in the yard, planting, watering, muddling about, I nearly let it get too late to go walking. But have been trying to get in a couple of miles every day when I am not so exhausted from work the motivation isn't there. So it was about 8:15 before I started down the street, and trying to get back home before it got completely dark.

I noticed there was not a cloud in the sky - perfectly clear. The narrow crescent of the moon was in the western sky, up about 70 degrees, bright white. And a couple of stars nearby that were so bright with the sun not yet set, they were most likely planets.  The sun began to lower, and the sky, still completely cloudless, turned from a cerulean blue to a rich magenta. More stars became visible as it got darker - with a beautiful day turning into a beautiful night.

So thankful for the awareness of God's creation, and the common, ordinary day filled with mundane tasks that healthy people take for granted.

It was very dark by the time I got back home, but home I did get. Thankful for a comfortable safe place to rest my head too.

gloriously glorious - and smiling too!

That's what my daisies are doing. The ones I planted last spring in that big blank space across the front of the house that had nothing, not even grass growing in it. After living in this place for thirty years, and not making any effort to 'spruce up', particularly in that spot that was barren and bare, it was time for something to happen. Probably part of my surreptitious plan to put the house on the market. No need for alarm: no time soon - just inching toward things that will create 'curb appeal'. Knowing it needs to look good in the photos, since browsing online seems to be the way everything, including real estate, is going.

I am wishing everyone I know would cruise by and have a glimpse of my beauty-full daisies. I was so delighted all over again, like I am every time I come in the driveway and see all those bright smiling faces, I wanted someone else to come and say 'Wow'. So I called my co-worker, who loves blooming things as much as I do, and said: ' if you have no other plans at 7:01, cruise by and be amazed at my daisies!' And he did, but probably not nearly as pleased as I am every time I come home and they are all grinning all over themselves, waiting for someone to say 'Wow' again.

They are so pretty, bright white petals with bright yellow centers, on stems as tall as eighteen inches. Amazing to see what some good dirt, sunshine, plenty of watering during a dry summer, and TLC can do. I transplanted them from a place in the yard they obviously did not like, as they were inching out into the grass, where they wouldn't stand a chance - getting mowed over continuously. But so desperate for sunshine, and wanting to be in a place they could grow and thrive, like mis-treated pets, they just kept creeping out into the grass begging for attention and a little care. So I moved them in little clumps to some really good rich, nourishing soil, right along the edge of the driveway, and fertilized them all summer long, keeping the hoses running in the hot hot hot of blistering summer.

And just to show what a little nurturing can do: You need to look at how gloriously glorious the daisies are!

I took 'before' photos as I was starting to develop a plan, after I had a couple of truck loads of dirt brought in to build the bed up (and trench dug, with a drain line put in so it would not all wash away with the first hard rain.) And was out there in the past couple of days, with the camera, taking photos of the gloriously glorious daisies, blooming their fool heads off. I am thinking that after the first ones fade, I can go out and do some 'judicious trimming', and the ones that are just now budding up will open and create even more glorious-ness.

about that adopt a soldier thing...

I was really interested in the Adopt a Soldier program I read about in the newspaper recently, and wrote to get more info. The website is www.adoptasoldier3id.com, if you want to pursue, and find someone you can write to encourage and support while they are deployed in Afghanistan. They All need some of that, along with any sort of surprises you would like to send in goodie boxes: the flat rate box you can get at the post office and fill with granola bars, sanitizer bottles, anything you think someone living in the dirt/sand in a foreign country could use to make their lives a little easier. One of the things I notice they would like is whet stones to sharpen knives: everyone has a knife, and no one has a knife sharpener.

As it turned out, I found someone who is deployed, and connected to friendly neighbors: the 1st Lt.'s parents are a military retiree family. A sweet couple down the street, just two blocks away has a daughter in the war zone. She will be there until some time in the summer. When I saw the parents shopping recently, I asked if they would send me her address.  I knew she had been deployed last year, and would write her occasionally. notes and cards that would probably be trite, filled with mundane trivia, but still provide some welcomed mail for her to open and read, a temporary distraction from daily activities. Got the address, and discover that the 1st Lt. I am writing is attached to the Third Infantry Division, which is the group mentioned in the above web address. I think they are based in Ft. Stewart, just southwest of Savannah.

I already have a letter ready to mail. And will continue to write, thinking of getting my friendly little community group that meets on Wednesday nights to help me fill a box with things that people stuck in a war zone would find useful when they can't just run to Wallyworld or Walgreens down on the corner for a quick little shopping adventure. As interesting as going to the just-a-buck store and filling a shoe box to send to a deserving child at Christmas.

If you want to read something that will bring tears to your eyes, I will send you a copy of the article I read in the paper weeks ago, titled 'It was the worst year of my life' by Carol Megathlin, who lives in Savannah, and reported on the program. The title references how lonely it can be thousands of miles from home, and half way around the world distance from familiar faces. Without family support or the conveniences we all take for granted. Isolated, forced to be hyper-vigilant every waking moment, living in constant fear. You'll be desperately wanting to write, provide encouragement for some far away soldier to write

the same different everywhere...

Wednesday, April 10, 2013
Thinking about my road trip across south Ga, and then going up to TN last week - all the sights I enjoyed along the way. And realizing you could decide to get comfortable most anyplace in the world and spend enough time there that it began to feel like 'home'. You'd open up your folding chair, find a cool spot in the shade to watch the world go by, with your choice of beverage in hand, and perhaps a bag of something crunchy to munchie on. You sit there for several years, get to know the lay of the land, become acquainted with frequent passers-by, learn the habits and language of the natives. Pretty soon you would start to discover you had unconsciously put down roots, and that place you randomly landed was becoming the starting point you venture from, and want to return to: Home.

I guess I am still hearing south GA call my name,  remembering all the sights that make it unique. I've been driving around town, here in middle GA for several days, looking at trees and shrubs that put on their finery this time of year. Enjoying seeing the dogwood trees in bloom, both in the woods around the house, and other places all over town, around residences and city parks. Noticing overgrown areas where the vining, twining wisteria has spread, unchecked, over acres of land - kinda scary how it can be so invasive, but also beautiful with drapey, clumpy, bunchy fragrant blossoms dangling from the tree limbs where it has surreptitiously crept into the tops of pines. And a place at a residence on Macon Road that has the biggest most impressive yellow native azaleas, covered with blooms - amazing, just sitting there, waiting for hundreds of drivers to pass by and say: 'Oh, wow! Would'ja look at that!
Remembering driving across the lower part of the state, along roads where people have turned loose vining Cherokee Rose plants, to cover fence-rows and climb up into tree tops. Seeing spots of bright pink color along the right of way across the southern edge of the state where wild azaleas are still thriving in their native environment. Kinda surprising to realize that someone with a shovel and good intentions has not pulled over to dig and take them home - but thankful they have been left in peace for all the rest of us to notice, smile, and later remember with delight. And those prolific little white lily plants that seem to magically appear in the low places along the highway: blooming by the hundreds in the damp rich soil along the right of way - dependably coming back to show off  their bright smiling faces year after year. Popping up from sleeping bulbs so faithfully, right around Easter and putting on their finery for all the passing motorists to see and enjoy.

You have to believe that there are shrubs and trees, perennials blooming all over the northern hemisphere as the seasons change, with people awaiting the reappearance of remembered flowers in their familiar locations. So it's not just Me, longing for south GA, but folks everywhere watching for the things they recall from years past - the signs of spring that bring reminiscence of the past. I used to hear people in south GA say when the azaleas and dogwoods would flower simultaneously, gloriously that there was no prettier place in the world than Brooks County in the spring - but I expect that everyone everywhere feels that the view from their lawn chair when the colors of the season are at their height is the mostest and bestest on the planet: from African savannas, to Arctic tundra.

in need of adult supervision here...

It is so completely out of hand, I am thinking of turning myself in. And hope that someone would be willing to put one of those crime-prevention things on my person that keeps one from roaming around. Thinking that it might keep me from going to another garden shop and buying more stuff to plant?

Some of what I accidentally came home with today is more towards the necessary/legitimate end of the scale. Two big bags of cow _ _ _ _ from the hardware store, and a huge bale of peat from the garden shop on the north side of town, to make some really good homemade dirt after adding some time release fert. and some fluffy stuff.. To mix and put in a 'trough'/trench that my handy-dandy shovel wielder will dig.

Hoping someone I have had an ongoing conversation with is going to come and dig up some small azaleas, where they have been struggling across the front of the house. It is a place that gets nearly no direct sun, but west facing, with lots of light. In pondering what might be happy there, I am hoping some plants that are mostly greenery, variegated that might do well in filtered sun will do well. I have had some stuff sitting in pots for over a year, waiting for this place to become their new home: variegated hostas and Solomon's seal.

So: thinking I am ready to proceed, and hope to get it done before it rains in the next couple of days. I have  a full calendar until next Monday: volunteering two days at the plant sale at Botanical Gardens, and on the work schedule for two days. I doubt anyone has every volunteered to be sentenced to 'house arrest', and offered a limb for the monitoring device without being under duress. I think that if it really happened, I'd either go stir crazy, or have the entire yard rearranged with so many plants moved around it would look like the desert movie set of 'Holes'. Or worse case scenario:  take up TV viewing???!! :(

it's really shaping up...


That big empty space in front of the house - the long rock-hard, clay strip between the foundation and the concrete of the driveway. That inhospitable space where nothing had grown in thirty years in looking good.
I wish I was smart enough to put photos here, because I WAS smart enough to take photos of the 'before' part, and when I find the camera, and get another lesson in how to use it, will take some 'after' pix. to demo. the remarkable change that has occurred in about a year's time.

I sprayed the sparse little sprigs of weeds and grass with deadly chemicals, and had a couple of big piles of semi-decent dirt brought in to add some variety to the strip - about 6 feet wide, by maybe 20 feet long - where I wanted to plant stuff. The plan was to put in perennials that would sort of take care of their-self, and not need a lot of attention. During the driest summer in memory. So they actually did need a great deal of attention in the form of frequent watering - but it looks like most everything survived. Some were so hardy they bloomed all winter: the fact that we hardly had any noticeable winter needs to be mentioned here. The really interesting part is about 80% of what I put there I already had, and just moved from one place to another - so don't have a huge amount of funds invested in the space that is really starting to look good: you should see my daisies, blooming their little heads off.

I've accidentally planted a few more little things out there in recent days: some foxglove I started from seed last summer that seems to be much more tolerant than I expected - it might be a perennial if protected from too much cold. And some interesting 'native' plants I didn't mean to buy in Chattanooga over the weekend. Plus some sort of little happy daisy-like thing called 'bellis' that followed me home from the garden center at Wallyworld. With a little supervision, my most excellent hole-digging accomplice relocated some azaleas, and laid lots of brick edging, scattering pine straw to make it all look neat and tidy.

It's really shaping up... now: if I can just keep out of the nurseries, garden shops, plant sales...


And: oh, by the way: I am volunteering this weekend at the annual fund-raiser spring plant sale at the Columbus Botanical Gardens, 10:00 to 5:00, April 12 and 13. Can I get someone to hold my cash stash, and promise to not to give it to me when I grovel, whine and beg?

adopt a soldier?

I can't sleep. I can usually lay down with reading material and have to wake up to turn the light off within thirty minutes. But it didn't work this time. P.j.s on and teeth brushed by 10:00, in bed with my book, turned the light off, then got up and went to the other end of the house, to start writing letters, and cleaning off cluttered counter-tops. It's been a productive night thus far: two letters and one postcard written, a big pile of paper in the recycling.... and maybe time for bed at 2:02 a.m.

I came across a column I cut out of the paper about a month ago. I made copies to take to friends I see on Wednesday nights, in hopes of recruiting some others to want to adopt a soldier. The article was written by a Savannah resident who has started a program to have people write to Army members serving in Afghanistan. You who know what a wordy person I am, and how I single-handedly support the USPS with stamp purchases won't be suprised. I just emailed the coordinator of the program to get me connected with someone who wants mail. If you think about what They are doing, whether you are a supporter of the administration/Department of Defense or not - you have to be thankful there are young men and women who are willing to go, do the right thing, and step up when called upon.

The group this article referenced is the 3rd Infantry Division from Ft. Stewart. If you are interested, the website is www.adoptasoldier3id.com. How can you not want to get involved?

the 495 mile (x 2) round trip

There were actually two trips - which means that I must have driven a thousand miles in the past week - and that is probably a conservative estimate. But I had the opportunity to see lots of folks I am crazy about, in addition to lots of beauty-full spring sights, so I'm thinking it was really good trip x 2. Plus I visited three states - if you count some odd parts of the one I've lived in all my life - as I accidently went places I have never been before and did not actually mean to go when I went.

Starting last Wednesday: I went to FL, just barely, over the line into the panhandle to meet the Ocala crew. We went to Tally for lunch and took turns smooching, nuzzling, tickling, bouncing the fat baby. A quick stroll through the nirvana of plant nurseries, in a drizzle, where I surprised myself by not making a purchase. The tomatoes were tempting, but when I remember how disappointed I was with lack of production from last summer's efforts, I'm still thinking: zinnias and marigolds for me. No, they are not edible, but they are reliable.

Back through south GA, where the wandering part occurred. It was certainly educational: and the lesson learned is that one should not try to navigate in unfamiliar territory with a map from a different area. Meaning I was trying to find my way out of north Florida using a Georgia map. Those country roads I found myself on were So Very Not on the map. It all worked out in the end, and I got back to civilization before dark. I'm the one who has a reputation for saying: 'we're not lost, we just don't know where we are'.

Home on Thursday night, to unload, and re-load and head to Decatur on Friday morning. Just  muddling around, after a short nap, having monster burritos for lunch, then on to TN (if you are counting, state #3). And more muddling/puttering through out the weekend. I'd found hydrangeas, nice sized, good price that I bought and watered for a couple of weeks, to take to TN and plant. It seems there is some sort of magnetic attraction to plant sales, nurseries, garden shops this time of year, so there was more stuff to plant, water, anticipate brightly colored summer blooms. I do try, have the best intentions for Not buying more stuff - but it just jumps in the car with me. Like the little kid who drags home the mangy, dirty, hungry orphaned puppy: 'it followed me home, can I keep it?'

Back through Decatur, and on the road to home, where the neighbors seem to be sneaking in their dirty laundry. I'm certain I emptied all the baskets before I left, and washed, dried, folded, hung up everything in a clean RTU state: so where else could all that stuff have come from?

more absconded lily plants...

Tuesday, April 2, 2013
I was so impressed with my self - getting all those things planted and not having to quit due to misery in my back area. I decided to push my luck. But it seems to be holding up pretty well, so I guess I am doing better than I realized.

I had a little volunteer project to get done after work at the church,, so I conveniently absconded with ten more pot plants. I got them planted this afternoon.  And just called the receptionist to tell her to save me the rest of the ones that were orphaned, so I can go by and get them, to decide where to plant for annual flowering delight.

I also planted a half-dozen fox-glove plants that I started from seed last summer. Surprised that they survived the profound neglect that occurred, while being completely ignored, over the winter, but now that the sun is out, and the days are warm - Fair-weather Friend Me - has been so diligent and devoted. I mixed up this wonderful concoction of potting mix to add to the holes, and got them snuggled in, watered and hopefully well-pampered. The ones from last summer are huge - the package said they might, possibly, may be perennials if planted in the right zone - so I hope I have foxglove forever. With another dozen or so to put in the ground, I am really looking forward to deciding where to plant. I think they are the neatest thing when those tall spikes shoot up and start blooming.

We had about two dozen left over Easter lily plants, when I went to work on Monday, and marked them all down from $5.99 to $1.00 just to help them get good homes. They were all gone in about thirty minutes. But you know me: I'd rather have $free than $pay.

planting stuff...

I got home from work about 4:30 yesterday and started digging holes. I had sort of absconded with several Easter lily plants from the dozens dozens and dozens that had been purchased at church, and wanted to get them in the ground. So I got (more than I paid for) planted out in the Easter lily patch, along with several pots of hyacinths that were headed for the dumpster, but still colorful,and will be beauty-full for many springs to come.

And since I was on a roll, planted about 100 wee little spring blooming lily bulbs I had dug up from the lawn last year. Since I discover we are supporting a family of mice (again), this time in the workshop, I need to get anything even remotely edible out of that area. I had lots of bulbs I dug in hopes of selling on craig's list - with marginal success. So decided I would rather see them blooming at my house than give up my 'children' to perfect strangers.

I mixed up a pile of really good dirt, with osmocote, composted material, peat to stir in the sandy-clay mix, and will get more stuff that has been sitting around in pots put out this afternoon - when I get home from work.

about my friend Jay

Monday, April 1, 2013
I have something I need to tell you , and don't really know how you will respond. Probably not well, but this is something you need to know:

I have a friend from church who has been having some family issues, was put in jail by relatives and has been there for about two months. It seems like this individual has, from time to time, been in a contentious relationship with siblings, and in-laws, in the past. I think it must have been the 'in-law part' of the family was so itimidated by him, they had a restraining order that would prevent him from having any contact with them. He sent an 'innocent' little text message, and they called the po-po on him, and he has been looking at the world through vertical lines since late January.
I have been writing him frequently, as he is allowed to receive mail, but they read it before they give it to him, so I know I should not include any thing like a nail file or clippers. I recently discovered there is a program the county started  as a pilot program with some grant money. It seems  the incarcerated individual is allowed  to can find someone to take their place. So if you can persuade a friend or relative to come inside, you can get out for a bit of fresh air, if the replacement agrees to wear the orange jumpsuit for you while you are out on a week's reprieve, enjoying a breath of fresh air and  freedom. On R & R from the stress of life behind the locked doors. 
I don't see how it can be all that bad: three meals a day, housing, clothing, comprehensive medical care, including any prescription drugs dispensed at no cost - all provided by the taxpayers.But I am sure the limitations on your activities can get tiresome.
I have agreed to go and spend a week at the Muscogee county jail. But will be out soon, as I have only agreed to do it for a week. He is hoping to find enough people who will agree to take his place that there will be someone different, a volunteer wearing the orange jumpsuit for fifty two weeks. 
I hope you will write to me while I am away on vacation? Please notice the date at the beginning of this post.