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and one other thing, from the weekend that was...

Friday, May 31, 2013

The final belated entry from all the stuff that occurred last weekend is a sort of excursion I made on Saturday afternoon. I had a call to go in to work on Saturday morning, so I was on the clock from 8:00 till 3:00. After I got off, I called my local cohort, who is readily persuaded to go places with me she would otherwise never think to go. I'd read info. in the Sunday paper about exotic native lily plants blooming up in Harris County for a limited time. The man who owns the property where the plants are located contacted the paper to issue an open invitation to area residents who would like to make the trip out into the woods to come and view the amazing plants, during the short time they would be in full bloom.

He is a former science teacher at a school here, and I believe his family has owned this property for many years. I think I recall reading about him deeding ownership, upon death, to the Nature Conservancy with some sort of protective convenant so the rare, possibly endangered lily plants will be protected in the future. They are located in a creek, with lots of rocky shoals, in a nearly inacessible densely wooded area. But I can see that a person who would like to remove the plants for re-sale, and personal gain would be willing to make the effort to dig them out of the fast flowing, icy waters of the creek. I hope that his willingness to relinquish his ownership, and putting the property into the hands of the environmental organization will be sufficient to see that these amazing plants will continue to put on a remarkable show every spring. He actually lives on the property, near the creek, so we can assume they are well protected now, but anything could happen if this area were not actively populated with people who would closely watch for vandalism, and prevent future development.

I remember going up to this site many years ago, with young children, who might recall being roped into a field trip/nature experience. It was about this time of year, and they were probably eight or ten years old, mostly still young enough to think it would be interesting, or maybe just not old enough to disagree with the bee I had in my bonnet for wandering off into the woods. We got directions to go, and loaded up. When we got out there, in the middle of Nowhere, the man had some old, dirty, cold, wet, clammy, loaner shoes visitors could borrow. When the decision is to get your own shoes muddy and wet, or put on 'strange' shoes on your bare feet- it's a tough call. But as I remember it, we put them on, and waded in the chilly water for closer inspection of the masses of blooming lily plants. The rocks when wet were remarkably slick, and the water fast running, and profoundly cold - but I don't recall any catastrophe occurring, so it might not be as memorable to the younger set as I can clearly recall taking them on an excursion into the wilds of Harris County in search of the brillant white lilies blooming out in the middle of the creek. It's called the Cahaba lily, or rocky shoals spider lily. Google it up!

a participant in cop-training

Tuesday, May 28, 2013
I went down to a local middle school in the late afternoon last Friday, May 24, 2013, to volunteer as a 'victim' in a police training exercise. As a result of a phone call I got from someone who works with the Law Enforcement Alumni Association, who was looking for 'civilians' to role-play with a group of public safety workers who would practice finding a shooter in the halls of a locked-down school.

We met the trainer, who gave us a vague description of what we would be required to do: act like victims. And had a good look at at the guy who would be playing the part of the shooter, dressed in camo. with a honking big gun. Wearing a mask and looking pretty scarey. So we were scattered out in the hallways, after all the students had long been dismissed, to look freaked out when the shooter rushed by, and the teams of cops came into the halls in search of the bad guy.

I think I did an excellent job. Lying in the floor, looking pained, and shouting: HELP HELp, HElp, Help, help,helphelp.. After several times of 'practicing' the art of looking in need of rescuing, and being in great distress, we took a break. Then the civilians got a chance, using the same blanks, in the official police weapons to track down the crazed lunatic shooter. We got him Good. Full of holes. Dead as a Nit.

Then they all went off to supper, with the miraculously recovered shooter happily no longer perforated. I came home to go to bed.With the assurance that I would be called the next time they need civilian volunteers.

sequel to April Fool's story...

On the Friday before Memorial Day, I went to court. With a friend to attend the meeting with the judge of another friend who has been incarcerated for one hundred days because his family is fearful. I wrote an amusing prank-type article about my friend Jay on April 1st, and sad to say that he is still in the Muscogee County Lock-up. Really.

I don't know the whole story, and honestly, don't want to know what I already do - that he and his family, at least one sister and one brother, plus the accompanying in-laws/spouses, who along with an attorney were all there in court. They are apparently so dysfunctional his family called the sheriff to have him arrested when he defied a peace warrant, by making a phone call to his sister.

The judge said on Friday that he knew they did not want him to be set free, but to keep him locked up was to deny him his civil rights, and he was ordering his release this week. It's all a sad, tale - but what it has done for me, other than becoming an unintentional sounding board and voyer, makes me so thankful for the relative normality of my own little weird, idosyncrasies. Did you notice the word 'crasy' in the middle of that? I have long been convinced that we all come from dysfunctional DNA, but seeing the stuff hanging out on other people's clotheslines, sure does make you thankful for your own little rattty tatty wash...

backing up to pre-Memorial Day...

Last Friday morning, I participated in an unusual volunteer project. Most of the working world was doing that which they are required to do: put in the hours for a paycheck. While others, of the sort who are perpetually thinking: 'it's five o'clock somewhere', in the same vein as starting weekends on Thursday afternoon, in an effort to whittle the work week down to four days, were either leaving town or thinking about diversions for the Memorial Day weekend.

I had responded to a request I found in my email looking for volunteers to help put out flags along the median of Victory Drive. There is apparently a group of veterans who have been organizing this project for several years, that erects a number of flagpoles and has dozens of American flags to fly on holidays. The group has been using young Army recruits in recent years, and had a problem with getting the young Infantry trainees this time around, so put out a call for locals to help with getting the poles with flags put out prior to the holiday. Being a person who so loves the stars and stripes, I tell people that is how to find my house: look for the mail box painted like Old Glory.

Naturally I would not pass up such a great opportunity. In responding to the email, I discovered the source to be a man who lives out north of town, and asked if I could meet and ride with him down to the veterans' center near the cemetery on Victory Drive. We met, and he, retired from Army as a full colonel and still looks like 'you'd better not cross him' but turns out to be a sweet, doting grandpa,  drove us into town. There were about ten people all together - a pretty slim crowd, but adequate for the project. He hitched the wagon loaded with metal flag poles up to his truck and we started down the street. The city had installed pipes in the center of the median that the poles would be inserted in, and several guys, riding on the slow moving trailer put out the poles by each spot. My group. riding in the back of a second pick-up, with dozens of neatly folded flags, trailed behind. We unfolded a flag, and snapped it onto the clips on the pole, then three guys raised the pole and dropped it into the pipe to hold it erect.

 Probably the length of a mile or so, from the turnoff into the Civic Center to what people still call The Traffic Circle, though there is no actual circle, but an intersection. There at the crossroads/traffic lights that mark the crossing of Victory Drive and Lumpkin Road, are a number of permanently placed flags that I understand the Army maintains and is responsible for. The ones our group raised line the median going northwest from that point up to the Veterans Center near the softball Commons sports complex.

The sight of all those brightly flapping, smartly snapping stripes, blowing in the breeze made me a bit weepy.
I thought about my dad, and how he would have loved to see it. How he would have delighted to hear me tell him about what a neat, moving, heart-touching experience it was. And how pleased he would be if he could see photos of that long line of brightly waving flags, with stars winking as the breeze picks up the fabric. Seeing those dozens of flags wave, with stripes of red and white popping in the  wind, reminding every one who drives past: that's who we are, why all those service men and women do what they do, and what we have to be thankful for.

If you don't have tears running down your face by now, you should....we have so much, and so rarely take the time to realize what those things we enjoy every day really cost. Count your blessings, and tell your family how much you love them. Every single day.

I didn't get the photos someone was supposed to email me, so I will go out and take a picture of my mailbox, painted with stars and stripes for you to enjoy.

bushwhacking in (not through) south GA, on Memorial Day

Made a quick trip to south GA already this week and the week has barely started. I left work on Sunday afternoon and drove down to spend the night. After a number of foolishly crasy-quick experiences where I drive six or more hours in one day, I am learning my body is in not so much a state of denial, but more like a sense of betrayal: my brain seems to think I'm thirty years younger than my body can readily respond to! Which means the joints and muscles cannot keep up with what the brain would like/expects to get accomplished in the course of a day. Including a six hour drive to Valdosta and back in one day, I know it's do-able, but I don't want to do it. So I worked five hours on Sunday, then got in the car to make the three hour drive Sunday evening.... yes, I know... that doesn't seem to make a whole lot of sense either, but consider the source?!

I got up early Monday to get some yard work done, even though I knew before I started my effort would not have any visible effect. I slathered on the insect repellant and spent several hours whacking. Spraying some perpetual weeds, dug up a few of those simlax tubers that make me feel so very self-righteous when I think ' that little stinker won't be back again', and painted  some other stuff I cut off with industrial strength brush killer to try to at least paralyze if not kill. You'd not really notice any improvement, unless you saw the big pile of brush out by the street awaiting the trash truck.

Had lunch with a friend, went on to Valdosta to visit, and got in the road headed north about 6 o'clock. Uneventful drive, even though I was sipping on a huge cup of root beer that should have caused me to stop nine times to make deposits at every curb store I passed. I paid $3.29 for gas along the interstate, and got home about 9:30. Unloaded all that backseat full of misc., and fell into bed.

Oh - and the other thing I did on Monday morning, was to get a big pile of boxes out of the attic, that I will load up to get rid of. All tax records that are at least 13 years old, so I want to get them shredded instead of just tossing in the trash. I never thought this sort of paperwork should just casually go in the public landfill, but after my ID theft/scare last week, I know even though the parties involved are deceased, the papers need to be destroyed rather than left to waft around the planet. Gradually making headway on fifty-plus years 'accumulation' of people living in one place... and stopped by to check on those people before I left town. Took my little spray bottle with weedkiller to keep the grass at bay, and pay a bit of homage to the forebears on Memorial Day.

yesterday was possibly too interesting, phone call-wise...

Thursday, May 23, 2013
In addition to the thoroughly alarming call from Lauren at customer service abut my (traveling) 'sees-all, knows-all, does-all' credit card, I had a couple of other calls that I would not have responded to. Had I not been at home - accidently available, to answer the home phone when it rang multiple time, I would not now be credit-card-less. But I cut that sucker up so fast, I think I had the utility shears in my hand before I replaced the phone on the wall. As if it was contaminated - which, of course, it was. But in retrospect, realize I failed to ask her about any other odd-ball charges that might have been on the card. And sadly, I will have to wait till the bill comes, since that particular set of numbers is disabled and I cannot check to see if those people in NJ are still having fun at my expense.

The other calls: One was from the guy who runs the alumni association of the people who have been through the CLEAA (Citizen's Law Enforcement Academy Alumni). He was looking for volunteers who would work with Public Safety on Friday night when they do a 'practice' hostage situation at one of the local middle schools. It sounds pretty interesting, so I will do as instructed, and show up tomorrow afternoon at 5:00, and ask for Sgt. Cox. More to come on this...

The other call actually an email from the guy who so admirably and efficiently runs the Neighborhood Watch group for the panhandle area of the county. They put out a call for volunteers (pick me! Pick ME!) to help a group of Army vets., Friday morning who will be putting out flags to line the median of Victory Drive for Memorial Day weekend. If you know that my ring-tone on my cell phone is a John Phillip Sousa full-bore march, full of trilling fifes, pounding drums and banging cymbals, you are not surprised. I am excessively fond of  veterans, little old men in baseball caps with Old Glory on the bill. I will be out there helping install dozens of flags along the length of the main-est street leading into downtown Columbus, where we have: (ta-da, with trumpet flourish...) Ft. Benning, Home of the Infantry!

supporting the troops...

Wednesday, May 22, 2013
So - I've been writing to the soldier in Afghanistan. And decided to send her a box of goodies. I asked the people who meet on Wednesday night in my little community group (doing life together) if they would all go to the dollar store and get a couple of things that might be useful to soldiers living in the dirt on a base on the far side of the planet. Just things that would be mailable, and fit into one of those 'flat rate' USPS boxes.

They all brought stuff a couple of weeks ago, and I was getting the box ready to send. I couldn't decide whether to include the coloring books one person donated, as everything else was more 'girl-y' or stuff anyone could use like wipes, chapstix, sanitizer, generic items.Coloring books? Not so sure about that.Then I ran into the soldier's mom when she was shopping at the grocery store...

This is amazing: her mom said that she knew there were lots of soldiers who were going out in groups to visit with the local women. The men are not allowed to talk or even look at the native women, but the female soldiers had been given permission to go into the villages and meet with the female Afghans, talking to them about health education and sharing information. The soldiers liked to have hard candy to give to the kids, and that was one way to get the kids to talk, help lead them into homes where the women were being kept separate from the world. And then they could give the children things like: coloring books and crayons.

So I went back to the just-a-buck store and got more hard candy, plus some boxes of colored pencils, since I figured the crayons would melt in the heat, get all gritty when dropped in the sand. I put the box in the mail the first of last week. I think it probably takes a month for stuff to go to the APO then to get overseas, but I am so excited to know that she will eventually get  the box. And she will share the goodies to fellow soldiers, and they will take the things that will help them make contact with the local women and children and use it as an opportunity to educate them about health, nutrition, safety and the US. And hopefully convince some that we are not infidels, trying to convert and lead them on the path straight to perdition.

(insert sad face here)

There are times when it makes me really unhappy to think that I was born without the math gene that so many in my family were fortuante enough to have installed in their heads at birth. I know both my grandfathers and my dad were very skilled at 'figgerin'. I have a brother who is obviously talented with things technical that are far beyond my comprehension. And he has kids that are equally talented with things tech. and mathematical, intricately designed but readily understandable, to those who grasp the workings.

When I followed two years behind my brother throughout our school years, I had teachers who naturally expected that I would have the same abilities as he did in the realm of science, technology, engineering and math. Which I don't.And as a result, made me feel less than capable for most of my life. I think I have adjusted pretty well after all these years, but as those teachers who doted on that clever boy held him up as the standard, I could not reach their goals. I used to try to explain my lack of abilities away by saying that the day in fifth grade when everyone else started to learn how to multiply, I was out sick - and just never fully caught up, or on.I do know that it frustrated and aggravated my dad to no end when we sat at that table in the dining room, and he drilled me on my times tables and I could not remember. I just didn't retain math facts - not multiplying, or algebra or geometry, or algebra when I took it the second time because I didn't learn anything the first try. He could do it, and could not understand why I could not.

Here's what I think: most guys are wired differently - which is both good and bad. We cannot think like they do so cannot understand why they do some of the things they do.

And here I am: right brained in a left brained world. I wish I could have told my dad that. And wish he could have understood that we are  not all wired the same, so  no matter how hard I would try, I could not remember (and didn't care) what 7 x 8 equals. So if you don't grasp the basic math, there is no way in the world you will be able to do the complicated stuff where you replace numbers with, of all things: the alphabet.

The truth is that I have other abilities, and I think/believe I can do some things he can't. Not much or many, but I choose to believe that there are some gifts I have that he is lacking. All this to say that I spent hours sitting with my little calculator and check book register last night trying to wiggle the numbers into balancing with the bank statement. Hours. And it didn't. And still doesn't.

Started off hundreds of dollars off, and I finally mashed hard enough on the buttons on the calculator and erased enough on the register, to get to the point that it is only $100 off - but still. I know it's supposed to come out the same, and go through this every month. When I can squeeze every thing into place to get it to balance in less than half-dozen tries, I get up and do the happy dance.

I have been known to give up. I'd work at it so long, I'd think: those people at the bank are smarter than I am (even though I know it's all done with great big honkin' computers) so I'll just turn the page and start fresh with the number the bank thinks is supposed to be in there. But - dang it. I know I can do it, just have to keep poking away at the calculator buttons...Right?

this is really freaky...

I got a call this morning, when I was home (pretty unlikely) and answered the home phone (also most unlikely). To get a recording that starts off with: "this is not a telemarketer" - which is weird. So the recording goes on to ask if this is F. Fluker?Which puts me to wondering who has one of my checks, that only have me listed by the first initial? But before I can get done with that curosity, the recording wants to know if I am responsible for a charge on my credit card (that was declined) for $22 in groceries on May 21. Which was only yesterday, and I know I didn't charge anything when I was at work, having only bought a bottle of floor cleaner to do the dreaded mopping.

So I punched the number, and got to talk to Lauren, the customer service rep., who asked if I had been at the Shop and Go in New Jersey yesterday - and she said the amount the customer attempted to charge was $102 - which is also very strange, since the recording said it was $22. But I assured her I was not in NJ on Tuesday, and I had possession of the card. When she said the attempt was with an actual card - I really got alarmed. And fell all over myself thanking them for being so diligent and preventing really bad things from happening.

The good news is the card has been cancelled. The bad news is that I won't have a card for the next week, and will have to stay at home instead of roaming around all over the state.

We read stuff in the paper, hear on the news about people loosing their minds over identity theft, how the mean-spirited amongst us, the devious minds of scum-bags, hackers on the internet are stealing info. left and right, creating problems for us all, innocent passers-by that take years to resolve and recover from. But - us being the unwary, unsuspecting ill-prepared law-abiders that we are, always suspect/think/believe it happens to Other People. Well... guess we have just become 'them'.

Remember the line from the Pogo comic strip? 'We have met the enemy, and it is us.' When you look at how we have been so overtly uncareful about the environment and neglect full of the air, water, soil, and concerns about everything we put in our mouths. Scarey. You have to occasionally think 'we asked for it' as things fall apart on this blue ball we inhabit.

I don't know what we can do to be better prepared for this sort of disaster, even though I get more paranoid every day about the end of the world. Not sure how to protect from financial crisis, but feel like it still looms, even though the media wants us to think things are on the upswing.

If my tech support was available, I would now display a photo of my sliced up credit card, shredded into strips to use for garden mulch.

drivin' and drivin' and drivin' some more....

Monday, May 20, 2013
Left home early Friday am to go to Decatur, left Decatur early Friday afternoon to go to Chattanooga. Did a bunch of nothing, though I had taken things to plant in the yard on 52 St. It rained quite a bit, which I am sure made their vegetable garden very happy. But so wet, we did not get out and get the foxglove and coreopsis planted.

I went as what the Girl Scouts routinely call a 'tag-a-long', when scout moms have to bring younger siblings along for scout events- to a meeting in LaFayette. It's 'way up in the north corner of GA, just below Chatta, about a forty-five minute drive from the Council Office. I spent some a couple of hours meandering around downtown (about four blocks square, maybe a bit larger than the town I lived in for my first 18 years, but not by much). Two blocks on main street were barricaded, for a street fair. Various vendors, bar-be-quers, funnel cake friers, cotton candy spinners, jumpy-things to entertain kids, local merchants, alpaca farmers put up canopies and sell/advertise their wares. It was interesting, but the kind of thing that after you've spent an hour, you've seen it all. Some pretty, well maintained old houses near the downtown area, and some not so well loved, but that's true of most anywhere... Some empty storefronts, and some with what looked to be thriving businesses - just like most other small towns, struggling to keep going.

Went to church on Sunday, had a quick lunch and started back to Decatur, where I veered off onto Eleanor St. We left for south GA. I thought about driving down to the Florida line, just so I could say I had driven from mile marker 359 to mile marker 1 on I-75 that day, but got off the interstate at mile marker 11 instead.

Spent the night at 1209, and had a pretty productive day today: sweeping, hosing off pollen, picking up yard trash, pulling a few weeds, visiting relatives, and getting back to Columbus before dark. A huge pile of misc. in my car took an hour to unload, and now I am going to bed - have to be at work at 7:00 a.m.

another Publix customer story.....

Friday, May 17, 2013

I was working over Mother's Day weekend. A customer came along and was looking for some flowers to put in a vase to have the grandsons 'give' to their mom, who is, of course, her daughter. She just needed some advice, about what to get, and what would do well in the vase she was buying. So we talked about the best bouquet and she made her decision.

She said that this was her daughter's first Mother's Day as a single mom of two small boys. And that she had divorced a husband who was a drug user who could not quit. I said, 'can I give you a hug?' So we did, and I told her that I knew it was very hard for the whole family to get in a situation where there was someone who was so wrapped up in drugs, the substance took precedence over relationships.

I told her about a book I had recently read, that I thought she would find very interesting. Written by a man who spent years trying to save his son from drug addiction. Going through times of thinking he could stop the use, prevent the compulsion, get the son into rehab. and save him from himself. Then periods of thinking: I give up, knowing you cannot save someone else, then finding himself unwilling/unable to stand by and know that his beloved son was killing himself through substance abuse.

I don't remember what lead me to the book, but it was almost like a train wreck: you don't want to look, but you cannot make yourself turn away. It was heartrending to read, and think of the misery that young man put his family through. (At the end, he was both clean and mentoring others in recovery.)

a little hole digging help here...

I am desperate to get all the hole-digging work that I can think of done  ASAP, now that I know my best worker is going to start a summer job life-guarding and swim lesson teaching in about ten days. I picked him up today and he did a great job. There were about eight azaleas I had been brutal with last summer, having seriously whacked to get down to a size that would more easily/safely transplant with likelihood of survival. I had talked to someone who called in response to the Craig's List 'free to a good home' adv. for big Formosa azaleas, and she asked if I had any thing smaller than a car that I wanted to get rid of. She came and looked, and I thought she was going to come back and get them: but no... she said, when I finally called, after waiting weeks for her to come and dig, that they had just bought some at a nursery.

Well crap: now I have to pay someone to dig them up and relocate. So my #1 hole-digger did that today, relocating all the pink blooming azaleas to a new home, out in the leaf-mulch under the trees in the front yard.Then he dug a nice trench in the place where the azaleas had been. We added all manner of 'amendments': manure, peat, perlite, osmocoate and stirred it all up.

Then I got a big  pot of 'what-ever-it-is' (something that has a geranium-shaped leaf, and puts out a stalk about eight or ten inches tall with tiny white blooms interspersed along the stem) that I fell for at the Callaway plant sale last spring. When I bought it over a year ago, I was told it needs dividing, so you can imagine how it looked when it came out of the pot. C. put them in the nice rich dirt, along with fern starts and astilbe I'm hoping will be happy there in the shade.

They are in a place that never gets full sun, but lots of light. By the time the sun gets overhead, and they would be in direct sun-light, the trees on the west side of the house will provide enough shade that I don't think there is any chance they will burn up. I wish I had more ferns to put out - hope that they will do well, and I can keep it wet enough. Even with all that peat added in, it is on a slope that water would drain out of, so until they get established, I will have to keep well watered.

what to do with dandelions....

I had an interesting conversation with a Publix customer over the weekend. It was someone I actually know, not quite a friend, but have known of for years in a casual, haphazard way. Her family owns a nearby campground that she has diligently improved, developed and turned into a really nice venue she rents out for weddings, receptions, parties, corporate events, fund-raisers.

When I saw her at work, she was looking for an ingredient to make jelly. The easy way. Which involves adding a commercially available ingredient that assures your efforts will 'jell', called 'sure-jel'. She volunteered the information she was going to make a batch of dandelion jelly. I said, 'You have got to be kidding!' and then said it again, with a question mark instead of an exclamation point at the end. She assured me she had done it before, and it was really good. So good, in fact that her husband has requested more. But it takes a LOT of dandelion blooms and sounds much to labor intensive for mass production, unless you have a lot of children you can recruit for cheap.

She said you add a bit of lemon juice and a dollop of honey, and it is wonderful on toast and biscuits. Which sort of makes your mouth water, until you hear the part about having to go out and pick three quarts of dandelion blooms and boil them, then strain and cook down the flavored water. I've heard several people recently, repeatedly say how ' you can find anything on the internet', and how amazing it is to be able to just 'google it' to find the answers to any questions you could possibly imagine - which is how she found the recipe for Dandelion Jelly.

I haven't looked for it, as I have no intention of going out to harvest the raw product or putting the effort into making jelly. But now, every time I drive down Macon Road, and see prolific weeds of bright yellow, blooming for miles along the right-of-way, I want to call C. to urge her to get her bucket and get to work. So... all those things that you have been so diligently trying to eliminate from your lawn: you could have been spreading on your toast! I have a reaaaallly good biscuit recipe I will have to credit to Paula Deen that only has three ingredients if you want it - call me when they are done?

it looks so good!

Finally got that bed in the corner by the front door re-done. I am so pleased. It will need watering a while, until it gets established. I expect the hostas and Solomon's Seal will be panting for water every afternoon when I come home - as the season get summer-ier and the weather gets hotter.

But it looks really good and I am so pleased. Still pondering putting some bloomers right near the front edge, to give it a bit of color, and thinking some red and orange and yellow blooming gerbera daisies would be just the thing!

I am so pleased with my....

I don't know why this makes me so smile-y, but seeing foxglove is such a neat thing. I'd noticed it planted in pots and yards over the years, and thought it was really cool, but never had any growing at my house. Then a couple of years ago, I bought a packets of foxglove seeds and started my own. Scattered the seeds in a black plastic bedding flat, filled with good rich, homemade potting soil. The ones that sprouted got replanted into individual containers, and watered, but otherwise pretty much ignored over the winter.

I was surprised: they survived! And as a reward, put them into bigger pots and began to give them some devoted care, after months of benign neglect. And they rewarded me, by growing at a remarkable rate. I planted some out in the bed on the north side last summer: they are blooming right now. And planted some several weeks ago in that newly-invented bed across the front of the house. Those plants are getting started, not doing much where they are visible, but I am confident they are like the anecdote about the duck: paddling like hell underneath the surface.

I think Everyone should like foxglove as much as I do, so have shared pots with all both of my favorite people. I even went so far as to deliver the pots to Decatur several weeks ago, and since they didn't seem to want to jump out of the pots and plant themselves in the ground, went back over the weekend, dug holes, and planted them my-own-self. I know they will get wilt-y and be very thirsty for a while as they get over the shock of transplanting - just as the ones in front bed are doing in afternoon sun.

But I also have Great Expectations - and hope they will soon be sending up remarkable tall spikes full of neat little tubular shaped blooms, in white, purple, lavender, with strange little spots on the inside of the tube. I seem to have an affinity for spike-y flowers: love to see snap-dragons, which in recent years landscape companies around here have planted prolifically in the fall. I can't stop myself from buying packets of astilbe every time I see them in the bins in Wal-mart - even though it is too late to be planting that stuff now... I guess the more I buy, and the more I plant, the more likely I will be to have lots of it gloriously blooming in my yard.

Update: they did!!!. You can come and see them anytime. We will have a cold glass of lemonade and sit on the porch in the rockers, and admire the spikes of foxglove all a-bloom out in the flower bed, and be smile-y together.

I said I wouldn't, but I did...

Thursday, May 16, 2013
I've had such annoying poor disappointing lack of success with planting vegetables the past couple of years, I've been saying since last fall: Not again. Even vociferously announced my intention to put nothing but zinnias and marigolds out there in the spot where I have been planting tomatoes for years and years. It's the best dirt in the whole three acres. Due to years and years of adding leaf mulch and shredded paper (much of which is stuff I have brought home when I would see bags of prescription related or personal documents that had been shredded going in the dumpster at work), it is much better than the hard red clay that is on the surface of all the area around the house.

Plus there was the year that my parents brought me a load of %#&@ for my birthday. I have no idea where they would have gone to get a truck load of rich, black, well-rotted cow manure, but that's what I got. I don't even know which one had the idea- but it is still hilarious, after twenty years. They had some how gotten the word to daughters, who were in on the secret: and amazingly, the girls did not spill the beans. I had no idea they were coming - much less driving to town from south GA with a truck load of cow business. They were sitting out on the screened porch when we came in from school, and the girls were tickled about the whole thing: me caught 'un-awares', grandparents arriving, the big birthday surprise. It's still funny, especially the part where I get to tell people that my parents gave me a load of %#$@, when it's usually the other way around... 

So I accidentally bought some little four packs of tomatoes a couple of weeks ago, and finally got them planted yesterday. In my little garden spot, after sitting out there for an hour pulling up weeds. It used to be in full sun, but trees have matured over the years, to the point that it is pretty shady back there for at least half the day. When I was digging holes, I found two little 'volunteers', so moved those and will be interested and surprised to see what, if anything, they produce. The ones I bought are Early Girl and Beef Steak: five of each, because I always look at the pots/packs to try to find an extra one or two that the greenhouse workers missed when they were pinching the slow starters.

I watered them good yesterday, and went out today and raked up a big barrow full of leaves, to scatter around for mulch. In the past, I've put newspaper down under leaves. To help keep moisture in when it gets to blistering hot in mid- and late summer. We will see what happens. When I came in after getting them planted and watered, and reported, he said: Is it time to go there with my mayonnaise and loaf of bread? But I said he probably should just observe from the window -as every time he goes out in the back yard he comes in with a major infestation of chiggers.

did you miss me?

I've worked every day since last Thursday. Pretty unusual for a person who might, if lucky, get an opportunity to work ten hours in the average week, so it goes without saying there must have been a major holiday event in the recent past. "There's a pony in here somewhere...", which in this case would be getting a decently padded paycheck in a couple of weeks, that will be nice, but still insufficient to improve cash flow: much more outgo than income.

The work was expected for the days leading up to 'Remember Your Mom' day. And then my co-worker in the Floral Shoppe was off for several days, which provided me with plenty of time on the clock. I told him that I enjoyed doing the job for a few days but always thankful he returns. I  get to the point that I harbor a secret fear that he will enjoy being off so much, possibly win big on the lottery, or come into an unexpected windfall, he will head for the south seas - and I will be stuck doing his job day after day, week after week. I don't like the job, or working in general, that much!

So now I am looking forward to more travel. I'll be getting up (too) early on Friday to drive to Decatur and get into town and off the twelve-lane wide chaos before every one else gets up. Spend the morn. puttering around, and head on to TN in the afternoon. Before all those people I managed to avoid decide to leave work early, and head out for weekend fun.

Friday morning

Friday, May 10, 2013
I had such a remarkable lack of fun when I spent the day subbing on Wednesday, it never occurred to me to try to find another one for today. It's pretty unusual that I have a little square on my calendar with Nothing written on it. On a 'blank' day, I usually put some effort into trying to find 'day labor' work (like the guys who stand on the street corner, with lunch in a plastic grocery bag, hoping someone will slow down and offer to pay them for a few hours of some hard, dirty work.)

But here I sit, in my pj's, oblivious to the working world. I did get up and put on my robe to take the recycling bins up to leave for the truck that comes along about 8:00. Which is the perfect time to bring school and work traffic out there to a screeching halt. As long as it isn't me, who is usually running ten minutes behind, and frustrated at trying to get out of the driveway - it can be pretty amusing. When it's The Other Guy, you can always think: 'well... you shoulda' left the house sooner...' instead of weaving in and out of traffic, trying to make up your lost time by going 65 mph in a 40 zone.

So it looks like I will be puttering around in the yard- re-arranging things and pulling weeds, kinda like what Seinfeld said the show was about: 'nothing'. I never did actually watch it, but I fully understand the principle. That's mostly what you are reading - and since you are so experienced at doing it, you might as well come over and let's do some puttering together?

counterproductive 'sub. job' on wednesday....

Thursday, May 9, 2013
So I took that offer of a substitute teaching job yesterday and went south, to spend most of my day in a Kindergarten classroom. From 8 a.m., till nearly 3 p.m.  It was a mostly uneventful experience, other than the chaos of thirty minutes of lunch room duty, where I always have a feeling of being thrown in with the sharks. All the other adults/staff/aides in the cafeteria know what's going on, what to do, who goes where, and when all the whos are allowed to leave. And don't seem to want to share any of that with newcomers. Fortunately the kids are still small enough to be intimidated by an adult - even if the adult has no idea of what's going on.

When I got home I discovered an email from the school system, telling me I had to go to the district office and give them my fingerprints to be checked by the GBI. I don't think that is unreasonable, and know in this day of crazy people, probably necessary to protect both kids and school board liability-wise. And if they are requiring every single employee to have it done, you can't feel singled out. But that fact that it is required and necessary, and you can't keep the position/employment without submitting- and then they require you to pay for it - somehow doesn't seem quite right.

If it is being done by the school system - how come they are not the ones footing the bill? The money order I had to take to pay for the background check was just about what I made spending my day in that Kindergarten classroom. Which means I went down there and spent the day wrangling five-year-olds, basically donated my day, as I then gave the school district back the money they will eventually, weeks from now, pay for my day's work.

Is there something seriously wrong with this picture? oh, yes.

planting more stuff...

There is a sort-of flower bed right up adjacent to the house, to the left of the front door. Kinda a raised planter, that has had a modicum of attention given over the years: occasionally planted with bright red geraniums, some struggling, scraggly dwarf nandinas that were pretty shameful for someone who is a 'trained' gardener. I have been pondering for a long time, trying to decide what would be best planted in this location that is very view-able, visible to anyone who comes to visit, but not at all noticeable from the street.

Plus it is an odd combination of shade and sun. That whole area, across the front of the west-facing house, does not get nearly as much full sun as you would expect, when you think of how blistering hot, brutal the afternoons can be in our area. But with a wide overhanging roof to prevent any direct sunlight in the mornings, and trees that will block it by mid-afternoon, it really only gets maybe four hours a day of full exposure. Which really surprised me - I thought I had to put things out there there could really stand up to harsh summer conditions.

This spot in the corner, under the extended over-hang, actually never gets any direct sun, but gets lots of light. So: I thought maybe something variegated, that would be sort of colorful, that likes semi-shade, and I could easily keep watered when I am tending the bloomers in the new bed that goes the length of the house. We (my teenaged hole-digger and me to supervise) put lots of peat moss and some potting soil, a goodly scoop of Osmocote and shade loving hostas out, along with Solomon's Seal.  I bought half a dozen pots over a year ago when I saw the plants at the Callaway sale. The tall, slender  gracefully arc-ing stems, with oval- shaped, variegated leaves, and nearly hidden, neat little creamy-white bell shaped blooms that magically appear in early spring are wonderful.

I'm a little embarrassed to admit that I have had the pots of hostas for two years, not ready to 'commit' to putting them in the ground. It looks great. I am so pleased. Sad that I did not take 'before' photos of the bedraggled dwarf nandinas (but readily admit they were so pitiful they would not have been willing to stand there, droopy headed, holding their numbers for the mug-shot camera, looking like they had been to an all-night drug fest, with bed-head and blood-shot eyes, in need of a shave and shower). But will go and snap a photo of 'after', even though I will have to wait for my personal tech-support to add in here:

Trying to think of something that will add a bit more color there, and pondering the possibility of going around the yard to dig up all the gerbera daisies to relocate along the front edge of the planter. They would get plenty of sun, for at least four hours, and should do well there, plus provide smiling blooms all summer. I'm crazy about red-blooming geraniums that put on a show all summer long, so maybe some of that???

another dee-lightful sub. teaching experience...

I started Tuesday afternoon trying to find myself a little jobette on Wednesday, when I discovered that day on my calendar was completely blank. I'd tried to leave the end of this week mostly uncommitted, thinking (a foolish mistake on my part)M that I would be working in the floral shoppe. But as things worked out, the schedule was for even less hours than the paltry number I usually get: hardly worth taking off my pj's and putting on the green shirt. And since I had all this time on my hands, thought it should not all that difficult to locate some work as a sub. teacher. Wrong. I called and called and called, and the recording kept tellling me: 'there are  no jobs available', and I checked and checked and checked on the web-site and the 'no jobs available' kept popping up. So I gave up and went to bed, jobless, thinking - oh, well, I'm sure I can get some stuff done in the yard. Anything to avoid doing house work.

Then I got up really early on Wed. morning, to get to the computer before the system started calling to fill job vacancies at 6:00 a.m., but still: no jobs available. I meandered around the house in my pj's for a while, puttering, with no reason to get dressed out out the door. Resigned to not being productive in the sense of getting paid for my effort, though I still think hole digging and weed pulling great therapy.

So the phone rang, offering a sub. job as a para-professional at a school on the south side. I always hesitate to take the para. work, as it pays so poorly - often thinking it is not worth the effort to get the income of around $50 for a day, plus driving clear across town, and likely aggravation of unmanageable kids. But the alternative is to get much less than the going rate. It actually pays $65, but after you loose 1/4 to 1/3 to Uncle Sam - and consider that the school system is running about two months behind from the day you do the work, until you get the payment, it just doesn't seem like much.

But I went, and spent the day in a K. classroom. I don't think they learned anything at all. The only thing I notice them being even semi-skilled at is they could usually put their little five-year-old heads down on the table when the teacher told them to do it. We had assembly, then we had lunch, then we went outside on the playground (probably the highlight of their day!), then we watched some counting videos. Then we all left for home.

'weed pulling therapy' joke...

Monday, May 6, 2013
I got a notice, via e-mail about a week ago, that sounded like it would be pretty fun and entertaining. Someone who is really involved in volunteer activities at the Columbus Botanical Gardens sent out a notice  about an opportunity to do some sort of exercise, there in the Gardens. I thought: oh, goody... I will get some time with those people I find so amusing, and we will do some exercising together. The invitation looked very neat, and cute: you know how those things that are so cleverly designed and sent through email can be.

So I clicked on the button, to agree to attend, and discover that we are all being invited to: work!

You get to pick your day, and time, and bring your gloves, clippers and spade. They promise to have plenty of weeds that need attention, and provide ample supervision so no one has to feel slighted if they get finished with their assigned plot too early.

I went this morning, and pulled weeds, picked up sticks for a couple of hours - it was good therapy, but not so like the 'fun' gathering I first expected when I opened the invite. I will definitely be reading the fine print in the future....so I guess the 'joke' is on me!

the 501 mile round trip...

This is similar to another round trip I made back in late March, but even a bit longer than the drive to SC for the birthday party of my pen-pal. I went to Decatur on Friday, to spend the night, so it would not be such a long, tedious, dreadful drive to Greenville and back on Saturday. But it mostly was anyway, because it rained/drizzly all the way up there and back to Decatur.

The pen pal had the daughter of a fellow infantryman come for a visit, and had asked me about coming up to see her when she was in town. It was a pretty big undertaking for her - as she lives in California. She had been once before, several years ago, and I had met her then.I also enjoyed spending time with Mr. H's daughter, who was the chauffeur for the day.

Mr. H. wanted to take us to NC to the home of Carl Sandburg, a Pulitzer Prize winning author, who lived near Asheville for a number of years. The Sandburg home is on a farm, now property of the NPS, and preserved as it was when the Sandburg family owned it and lived there. Raising and selling goats - of all things. While he was writing a six volume history of Abe Lincoln, and poems, and children's books, she was breeding goats. There are still descendants of the goats there on the farm: we saw three little ones, wearing overcoats, that were about 24 hours old. They didn't smell as goat-y as the adults.

It was a damp, chilly day, but the ride up to Flat Rock, NC was pretty, and the tour of the home was very interesting. Mr. H. especially wanted to go and see the house, due to a connection of a previous owner of the home and farm, a Col. Smythe, who was a veteran of the War Between the States. Col. Smythe started the cotton mill in the little community of Dunean, where Mr. H. has been living for many years.

Now I can't say I haven't been to the home of famous poet/author Carl Sandburg.We are thinking we remember that he read something notable at the inauguration of John Kennedy?

"God blesses me when I sleep in church..."

That is what is printed on the back of the T-shirts some of the people who are involved in the VIP program wear. The VIP, that I think I have written about already, is the community wide opportunity many churches here in town have gotten involved in that serves homeless families. There is practically no place in town that will take in families with children of different genders, as well as families with both parents: simply not allowed to all stay together, for obvious reasons. This program provides housing through about a dozen churches that allow these carefully screened families to live in various locations for a week at the time. The churches provide space for the cots that are transported from one facility to the next on Sunday afternoons, and members of each church provide meals, fellowship and support for the families during the week that the family is in residence.

I'd signed up to go to sleep in church on Thursday night, with a co-hort/volunteer I recruited, as there is always supposed to be two members of the home church on hand should some medical emergency arise. But I got a call from the person who is coordinating the program about eight o'clock last night saying: where are you? I replied that I thought I was 'on' for Thursday, and she assured  me I was mistaken. So I said 'Ill be right there', brushed my teeth, grabbed up my sleeping bag and book and dashed off to church.

As it turned out: I was right. But did not have any problem with being the one to jump in the gap, and was glad that when she called I was completely available to dash off and spend the night on the cot in the Sunday School classroom. I read myself to sleep, and left there about 7:00 this morning. The VIP program coordinator called me  mind-morning, apologizing, and agreed that the mistake was hers - but I was so thankful that I: 1.)answered the phone no on is ever at home to answer, and 2.) had nothing else pressing. (Though I had just requested a program on tv I though I wanted to watch, for the first time in about four years: Call the Midwife on GPTV, imported from the BBC. This is what too much public radio will do to you.) I told her I did not mind at all going, and being there, to fill in when needed, and she did not need to apologize: I would just need her help counting all those stars I would have have in my crown!

what/where to eat???

Sunday, May 5, 2013
I got home from my little jobette, and he offered to take us someplace to get something to eat - probably because he had pretty much had his fill of 'TV dinners' that I left for him to eat while I was out of town for two days. I really had a hankering for something Mexican, but knew that the crowd would be crowded and loud at the place we usually go, since today is Cinco de Mayo. We drove by and they were standing out on the sidewalk waiting to just get inside, so that was a bust.

Then he decided to go the little Italian place we occasionally/infrequently go - and discovered they are closed on Sunday night. I came very close to saying: Taco Bell, but decided discretion would be the better part of valor as there was a little whiff of crankiness in the air. He asked for suggestions, but I said I didn't have any, so he went up on the northside and went to the new Bojangles chicken-biscuit place (oddly placed right jam up next to a Zaxby's chicken store). It was highly average. I'd only had a breakfast biscuit from Bojangles before - and probably should not have ordered a salad at the chicken-and-biscuit place - but that was what I had. He said that the chick. fingers and fries were  nothing to write home about.

And started telling me about going to a place we've talked about that is in the same building as a curb store - which to my way of thinking means the food is all pre-packaged or prepared off-site, even if they 'call' it a cafe. Don't you agree that if you go to a curbstore looking for something to eat, you will likely get curbstore quality food? This little cafe snuggled up right next to the Chevron convenience store opened as a seafood store, which soon went underwater. And is now more of a fast-food, sandwich place. He said he went there one day, and after he had ordered himself a hamburger, discovered that it would cost $14. I am thinking it would have to be pretty dang fabulous to be worth that - especially when I am so happy getting my burger off the 99 cent menu at Wendys. So I was curious to know how amazing it was, and what sort of deliciously outstanding sides came with a burger that was almost $15. He said the only thing memorable about it was the price. And that did not include the tip.

what do you think heaven will smell like?

Thursday, May 2, 2013
Today turned out to be busier/longer than expected. After getting up and making a trip into town pretty early on, I thought I would spend the morning at home, puttering around in the yard. That did not happen. The only thing that got done was replanting several things the Yeti had come by and uprooted overnight, and getting them watered well after tucking the roots back underground.

I'd made plans to go to Respite at UMC downtown and do some potting with participants of the program. So I made a couple of stops at garden centers to find assorted bedding plants and get bags of dirt to fill the plastic pots I had accumulated to recycle, and give new life/use with spring bloomers. I think/hope the group enjoyed the planting and taking home pots of mixed annuals. And hope they will keep watered, have colorful plants to enjoy in weeks to come. There were a few leftovers that I put out in the little fenced, secured 'secret garden' where I have periodically worked at wrangling weeds in recent years. With a porch swing, bird bath, some outdoor tables with umbrellas and chairs, locked gate to prevent unwanted guests (and wandering by the memory-impaired) it is such an inviting place for the participants (and worker-bees) of the program to enjoy.

The guys who are getting paid to do the lawn service maintenance at the UMC are slacking, in my opinion - the sweet little enclosed garden area has really been neglected. I don't think it has been mowed since last year, and dandelions were rampant, along with lots of other undesirables. Those misplaced 'wildflowers' have really taken over this spring: I spent a couple of hours out there, probably fighting a loosing battle, since many of the stragglers had gone to seed.

The nicest part was the delightfully blooming aromatic confederate jasmine, full of tiny star shaped wonderfully fragrant flowers - nothing like it! Except may tea-olive shrub, that gives off an aroma that is what I think heaven will smell like when we get to poke our noses through the slats in the pearly gates....

Hope your day was filled with good stuff too....

surprise! surprise! surprise...

Wednesday, May 1, 2013
Our family historically does this 'meet in the middle' thing where people who want to see relatives will call and say: "Meet me at _ _ _ _", which is usually half way between homes. Over  my growing up years, the halfway point between living down near the FL line and the people who were distant was at the hotel in Perry, GA, where we would meet relatives for lunch and sit around in a beautifully maintained, lushly planted area around the pool, behind the main building. We would have lunch in their restaurant, then go and enjoy the sunshine, scenery and fellowship for a couple of hours before parting and going our separate ways.

Many were the times I would load up little people and make the trip to Albany, about halfway between home and  grandma's house - ninety minutes south - to meet parents at the mall or park and have a little family picnic. Dozens of times, we would go to the mall, dance around with excitement to see Mema and Papa, and get in the lunch line at Morrison's Cafeteria to order weird meals: blue jello squares and mashed potatoes and fried okra and chocolate layer cake. Whatever makes grandchildren happy delights grandparents as well. Lots of picnics on those scratchy concrete benches at Chehaw Park, with deviled eggs and strawberry shortcake, made from scratch.

This current generation keeps up the tradition. Halfway between here and there is Newnan, where we meet and eat. Occasionally going to find a park to go for a walk on paved trails, or just going to sit on a bench and have a little lap-lunch picnic (don't mention the fact that the bench is likely to be in a cool, quiet, peaceful, shady spot in the cemetery!). The meeting place today was Cracker Barrel - where you can always, always depend on one particular individual to invariably order the 'Uncle Herschel' plow-hand breakfast. At any time of the day, and then go take a nap instead of out to plow the back forty.

The best part of lunch/brunch was the company. Not only did the one I expected show up, with her smiling face all a-glow - but she had her sister in tow! Completely unexpected, especially when you consider the planner/instigator is the one who cannot keep a secret for love nor money. She being the girl that has to give birthday and Christmas gifts the minute she buys them because she cannot wait, and hold her excitement for extra minutes or days. So pleased with her choices and so enthused about gift giving that the 'present' needs to be opened at the first possible moment. The idea that she could keep her mouth shut and hold onto the secret arrival of her sister probably surprised her as much as it did me!

Thanks! I'm still smiling!