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BOGO ....

Sunday, April 27, 2014
...bowls of mixed cut fresh fruit have been on sale since the day after Easter.  Something everyone who works in the produce department dreads. It takes two people doing prep. work all day long, at minimum. And sometimes that is not enough man power. I was told that the store manager, and assistant store manager were back in the prep. area cutting fruit as fast as they could chop recently. So that would have been four people working constantly to try to get ahead of the volume of sales when the mixed fruit is advertised in the sale circular.

Most items that are adv. are on sale from Wed. morning until Tuesday night. But for some obscure reason this particular item has been in the paper for nearly two weeks. There were two people cutting, getting the cantaloupe, honeydew melon, watermelon, pineapple, strawberries and grapes ready to assemble into bowls when I got to work this morning.  I pretty much spent the day putting the completed product on the scale to weigh, printing labels and applying to the bowls. Then cleaning up after everyone got finished, with the floor so sticky it was hard to get across the tiles.

After cutting up an entire bin of watermelons, plus dozens of pineapple (the stickiest thing ever) the floor had so much juice on it, it was absolutely gummy. Pulling at your shoes with every step. Reminding me of having little people in the house, when they would spill apple juice on the kitchen floor ,(sippy cups - arrgghhh!) and it would be so sticky, if you walked across it in your sock feet, the socks would pull off your feet.

I am going to bed, as I have to get up and go back on Monday at 6 a.m.

sunday am...

I just got home from Chattanooga. With the best intentions for going to church before I have to be at work at 11. But as I motored along, patting myself, consuming caffeine, doing assorted things to keep myself alert on the interstate at 71 mph, I concluded I needed a nap. Safely returned to the house, and now not at all nappy.

 Does it startle, frighten, astound your like it does me when you are tooling along the interstate at steady pace, and suddenly some guy on a motorcycle comes blasting around you as if you were standing still?  It scares me out of my wits, and all I can think is: hope he gets there alive! That guy must have been traveling at well over 100 mph. Hope he lived to tell about it...

If you read the blog from Saturday about  the Girl Scout event today before the photos got included, you might want to take another look. It will happen twice more in different towns within the council, once next weekend, and again mid-May. Hopefully it will be a roaring success, and the girls the Awards event was designed to celebrate, will feel satisfied, gratified and rewarded for their efforts. x 3.

about the GSUSA.....

Saturday, April 26, 2014
Personal history in the floral business goes back in time much farther than I care to confess. But there have been times when I have found the skills I have developed in this area of expertise to be put to good use, in ways that do not involve gainful employment. Like today, for instance.

This is my once-a-month weekend to spend in TN, visiting, hanging out, enjoying time with PI and family. As it turned out, this is also the weekend of a fairly stressful, complicated, long-planned event for the local GSUSA. An annual event to reward, award, recognize the young women who have worked hard, accomplished much. They will be receiving their Silver and Gold Awards at a celebration in their honor on Sunday afternoon. A pretty big event, with lots of decorating and frou-frou to be done, as well as good things to eat when it happens.

As Girl Scout councils across the nation have combined, to be more efficient ,better stewards of both  labor and finances, the geography of the areas they cover has expanded. So the Council that encompasses Chattanooga, covers the entire eastern third of Tennessee.  This event on Sunday will recognize the girls who are closest to Chattanooga, and there will be two others that will celebrate girls up in the Knoxville and Johnson City parts of the state.

We spent the morning: going to the wholesale floral supplier to pick up fresh flowers, going to the craft store to get needed accessories, pins, ribbon, etc., going to the grocery store for additional bunches of fresh flowers. Then back to the house to assemble eighteen arrangements, most of which will be given to the girls who are receiving Awards. As well as corsages for each of the accomplished girls to wear at the ceremony.

As we were riding around town, gathering up supplies, we were talking about the effort required to complete requirements for these achievements. And agree that the actual award is not the most meaningful part. Sure: recognition is important, and publicly announcing their accomplishments to friends and family is laudable, something to be noticed, congratulated, applauded. But I believe the real value lies in the perseverance. The process of dreaming/brainstorming, actually creating a goal, making a decision about what they want to achieve, and seeing the project through, deliberately doing the work required to completion seems to me to be of more value - something that they decide they want, and put forth the effort to see it through.  Plus documenting the process, and submitting the paper work to the council staff for review and approval.

The goal setting, the gumption, and the sense of accomplishment (with lots of pushing, pulling, dragging from moms, I am sure!)  This: the proof that they can add one more thing to their busy lives, and focus on it well enough to see it through. Pretty impressive, don't you think?

So there will be corsages, fresh cut flower arrangements (one per girl to take home), cakes to cut and eat, finger foods and punch, goodies to enjoy, families coming together to celebrate with this young women. It really and truly does take a village to turn kids into successful, productive adults. So everyone who has had a part in their lives, all those who show up daily to encourage, love, motivate, discipline deserve these Awards as much as those young women who will be the center of attention on Sunday.

A table full of complete arrangements!

Smaller corsages for girls that have earned their Silver Awards.

 Arrangements with tulips for girls that earned their Silver.

Larger arrangements with roses for girls that have earned their Gold Award.

little feathered family...

Friday, April 25, 2014
That day a couple of weeks ago, when  I reported being so industrious in the yard I'd even got out the ladder to try to drag some leaves off the roof.  Getting the ladder into position, to not be dangerously wobbly, climbing up nearly to the top (only six feet, but at the top, still anxiety-inducing). A balancing act, holding the rake to reach as far onto the roof as possible and pull off accumulated leaves out of the valley and off to let the shingles dry.

When I was around the back, where there are a number of windows in a row, I saw a ??? what is that??? Bird Nest! Stuck up on the side of the house - literally! How do they do that? Amazing! There is no noticeable overhang, that it could be propped up above the edge of the window frame. Nothing for a house-builder to perch on to get a grip and start construction. Just a space a hand-span between the windows, and above the window frame.

That little nest, made of mud and moss, and little pieces of straw poking out, could have been constructed by an engineer. When I realized what I was looking at, I looked down along the edge of the foundation, and saw lots of wee bits of green, soft, springy pieces of moss, that were either not satisfactory, and were discarded. Or dropped  as the house builders were gluing the pieces together. I was so (nosy) intrigued by the remarkable project, I got off the ladder and went in the house to get a mirror to try to peer over the edge of the nest.

It's so close to the underside of the roof (don't know what you call that part of the building, up high under the eaves), even with my mirror I could not see inside. I had the mirror up against the house, and could not get my head up there, due to the slant of the roof, to be able to tell if there was anything in the nest.  So not only is she a clever designer and sub-contractor, but she outsmarted the person with the ladder and mirror who just wanted to observe this particular rite of spring.

I am sure it will be a mess when it's time to knock it down, with all the mud she used to secure it up there. But it is a fascinating construction and really remarkable to think that it is so well-built and placed, suspended up there on the side of the house. As surely as if she had a tube of superglue!

enjoying the scenery...

...when I drove to Florida on Tuesday.  Making my way south to Chattahoochee, it was a beautiful day, and a delight to see all the springy greens as a thousand shades colored the landscape. The drive down highway 27 is always peaceful, with little traffic, other than the occasional log truck, and slow moving farm equipment.

Plus the delightful possibility of law enforcement awaiting speeders. Easy to find oneself with a heavy foot, out there in the rural areas, with a smooth, little trafficked four lane and practically no one else on the road. Though there might be some po-po lurking in the median, or at a cross roads, trying to look discreet.

Wide fields of spring wheat, with the silvery-gray green heads, bobbing in the breeze, out in the distance, all the way to a tree line of darker green. Sparkling white grancy gray-beards blooming in yards of farmhouses along the way. Patches of pale pink primroses, dancing in the wind, accompanied by the dark purple of low growing native verbena - surely the hardiest of wildflowers, growing in rock hard clay along the right-of-way. Occasional clumps of brilliant yellow coreopsis, amidst miles and miles of reddest clover blooming along the median.

And a bright blue sky, with fluffy white clouds high overhead: a beautiful day to be alive, rolling down the road, living in America. And then - when I got to FL, I enjoyed a visit with some of my fave. people, and puttered around in the yard a bit, before I had to get in the car to return to GA.

greybeard tree

closeup of greybeard branches

guilt, guilt, guilt, guilt, guilt, guilt....

Wednesday, April 23, 2014
I am heartsick. I ran over my deaf cat today. She was lying on the driveway in the sun, and did not hear me drive up. I was not paying attention, which is why I feel so guilty. We took her to the vet. Recovery would have been difficult if not impossible. And definitely expensive. She was about 18 years old. So I brought her home and buried her in the yard. In that hole I had dug for a different cat, who currently seems remarkable chipper, for being at death's door in January.

I am really sad. And feeling very guilty. And irresponsible. And sad.

due to popular demand...

Tuesday, April 22, 2014
I was on the schedule at Publix to work on Monday, and have been 'invited' to go back on Wed. and Thurs. Working on a Monday is very unusual for me - I'm never there then, unless  my cohort is taking time off.  I'd like to think it's by popular demand, and there is some truth to that. The disheartening part is it is not ME that is popular. The Sunday newspaper had a Publix advertisement that included a picture of mixed fresh fruit salad. It's a pretty good deal for the buying public, one of our famous BOGO items. Which means that the fruit bowls are half price.

There were three people on the schedule Monday morning to cut melons, pineapple and strawberries. It takes that much labor to try to stay ahead of demand. There is only one person available today to do the work, which means she will never get caught up. And will probably have people standing in line awaiting the top being snapped on the next bowl. Or a long line of irate customers at the service desk, demanding Rain Checks because they were not able to make the purchase.

So I will be off today, knowing that I will work eight hours on Wednesday and again on Thursday. When I will be peeling and cubing pineapple, skinning honeydew melons and cantaloupe to cut into chunks, slicing the caps off strawberries by the quart and halving. Prepping everything I can, as fast as I can, to try to keep ahead of the person who will be cutting watermelon into cubes to make hundreds and hundreds of bowls of mixed fruit.

It's a BOGO: why are you not there??

volunteer 'opportunity'....

Monday, April 21, 2014
After going in to work at 6 and getting off at 2, I drove to Alabama. I'd agreed to be a worker bee with a project the 4-H coordinator was doing with fifty first graders. We met at the Ag. Agent's house, to go over the program, and went to the school after carpool moms and buses got away. Teaching them about the basics of growing things. Like how a fire needs: fuel, air, and some starting source of combustion? Well, plants need the things that spell the acronym: PLANTS...  not sure I can remember all of the different requirements to match up with the letters but I will give it a go: 

Place (to grow), L..?, (light, maybe?), Air, N....?, T...??, Sunshine. Hmmm- water needs to be in there somehow. Just like me to sit in the back of the class and not pay attention...Good thing we are not having a test! It was pretty amusing. I'm Always glad I am not in charge, and can just stand on the sidelines, and jump in when it is obvious some little six year old needs more hands, or seems to be struggling.

The young person, probably a college grad., but they all look like they should be riding their bikes to work... was remarkably well organized.  She had obviously done this more than once and knew the drill. You give each kid a short piece of panty hose, the kind that come up to your knee. Then give them a small waxed paper cup with about three tablespoons of grass seed. I think she said she was using rye. Have the kids open up the 'insert foot here' end of the stocking, and put the stretchy 'mouth' over the opening of the cup, then turn the cup over, so the seeds go into the toe of the hosiery. Remove cup. Then you give them a big red solo cup and have them fill with potting soil. Repeat that process of putting the open end of the stocking over the cup, flip it over, to dump the dirt on top of the seeds. Remove cup. Your knee-high is mostly filled with rich black dirt, with seeds down in the toe.

Basically that's it  Then you say: open your hand flat, and pat the end of the stocking in your palm, until it starts to look like a round ball. You help them tie a knot in the stocking as close to the dirt as possible, to keep the seeds and dirt in place.  If you are doing this with a bunch of kids, you will need to write on the bottom of the small waxed drinking cup, so they are identifiable. Have the kids put a bit of water in the paper cup when they get home, and the stocking will act as a wick, drawing the water up into the soil, so the seeds will germinate. The project was called 'plant people', so they were each given two plastic googly eyes they could glue on the side of that 'ball' of soil, to make it look like a face, so when the seeds sprout, it will look like (green) hair. You will need to tell them to let the glue on the eyes dry for a couple of days before they start to water, or the eyes will fall off.

When you get a picture of this in your head, and think about how it looks: sort of a 'do it yourself' Chia pet???

Reminds me of all those years I did crafts for Bible School/Music Camp. And spent hours and days getting stuff together, tracing, cutting and prepping, to have things ready for a thirty minute class. They would get done in about thirty seconds, after I had spent days getting it all organized, projects ready for them to assemble.

a bit of remember-y...

Sunday, April 20, 2014
I'd pretty much forgotten about hunting eggs as a kid. We definitely did it. But this was many years prior to the invention of plastic eggs. So the ones we used were 'real', had been boiled, and hand-dyed, often cracking in the cooking so the dye would seep into crazed lines if the shell was peeled off. But I doubt that happened often, as we generally wore them out with the hiding/finding process.

I don't recall ever participating in the large scale eggs hunts that civic organizations, churches and neighborhoods plan these days. So it was mostly just my brother and I hiding eggs in the front yard. One would go out and do the hiding, while the other would have to stay in the back of the house and wait for the signal.  Then dash around to the front, with basket swinging wildly, in search of the twelve eggs. I'd generally find nine or ten, and be searching for the few.

My brother ,as an adult is a smart, considerate, thoughtful, responsible individual. But as a youngster (plus the Older Sibling aspect) could be a devious soul.  He was notorious for digging a hole just large enough to secret one egg (usually the one wrapped in the foil, which was of course, the highly desired  Prize), and carefully, diligently, maliciously tuck the little uprooted tuft of grass back in place to cover it up. Of course, smiling and gloating, and grinning all over himself the whole time, saying things like 'you're not even close, or 'you're getting very warm', or 'you'll never find it', just to Egg Me On.

Those little people who were running all over the yard this afternoon, searching for eggs that were mostly hidden in plain sight were quite amusing. Even found some eggs that had been sitting there, waiting since last Easter. The adults realized they had discovered eggs from last spring, when  they opened them to find 'stuffing' that was old: surprising those who had stuffed and hidden the plastic eggs earlier in the day.

I remember when my kids were small and we would go to the neighbors to 'hunt'. The plastic eggs were filled with sweets, then hidden for them to discover. After they were found, and the candies emptied out, they were filled a second time with loose change - even  more  exciting to find than sugary treats! After that, just empty eggs - but still an amusing enterprise for keeping them occupied the rest of the afternoon. I think maybe all that frantic running around while eating unadulterated refined white sugar acted to even things out, as I am pretty sure they fell into bed when the day was over. One of them would save treats for weeks, and the other would be voracious, eating monumental amounts of sweets at an amazing rate - then searching out her sister's stash for more.

PS: to assignments...

Saturday, April 19, 2014
Herewith is the recipe for Carrot Cake, as printed in the original Camellia City cookbook. It's not hard, just troublesome, with having to grate three cups of fresh carrots. But the last time I noticed the price of getting one already finished with cream cheese frosting and cute little orange carrots of buttercream decorating the top was around $15. Plus not nearly the same amount of love as the one that comes from the kitchen of Mom...

Carrot Cake
2 cups plain flour, sifted, along with 2 tsp. of soda, 2 tsp. of cinnamon, and 1 tsp. salt (which I often omit, or reduce to a good shake from the salt shaker)
2 cups granulated sugar
4 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups cooking oil (recipe specifies Wesson)
3 cups freshly grated carrots

All the instructions from the cookbook: Mix together.
Personally: I break the eggs in the mixer bowl, get them blended really well, slowly add sugar to mix thoroughly, then drizzle in the oil. Mix well. Add dry ingredients, mix well. Turn off mixer, add carrots, stirring well. Divide equally into two eight inch round layer pans. Bake at 350 for 30-35 min. Test with toothpick inserted into center to be sure it is done.
Cool on racks. I slice the layers in half, horizontally, with toothpicks inserted to try to slice them fairly evenly with a serrated bread knife with long blade, to make four layers. I've put a large dinner plate down cardboard, traced a circle and cut out, covered with foil, to use as a base, for transporting, so it is flat, instead of concave like putting it on a dinner plate.

1 - 8 ounce block of cream cheese (no point in going the no-fat/low-fat route at this point)
1 - stick butter or oleo
1 - pound box confectioners sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla
nuts, optional

Bring the block of cream cheese and stick of butter to room temperature in mixing bowl. Cream well, until smooth, then slowly add powdered sugar, being sure to make as big a mess as possible with clouds of sugar wafting all across the kitchen counter. Add vanilla. Put between layers, sparingly, to have enough to coat the sides as well. Sprinkle on nuts if desired (and you know you do!) Let it sit overnight to make it really good. Take to Easter lunch, or give to friend for birthday. Do not bring any home. Only empty cake-taker is allowed back in the house.

there is this profoundly chatty guy...

...who works for a vendor, coming into the stock room at least five days a week. He is constantly talking, making conversation with anyone who will give the impression they are willing to pay attention. Chatty guy, trivial stuff, just likes to talk. Nothing of any importance: today was a (one-sided) conversation about high water in a neighbors' pond, and snakes floating around. Or what he had for supper last night, or the price of gas, or what he's doing next week, or whatever.  Just loves to talk.

The complete opposite of what goes on here. Though I suspect The Guy here is much more interactive with complete strangers than he is here  at home. Is it possible that there is just nothing left to talk about? Or that we've run out of words? Not likely for someone who can [insert blog here] numerous times a day.  I got to thinking about that vendor, who talks incessantly, constantly, endlessly. And wondering which would be easier to live with.

So I posed this question to my coworker, who has mentioned that the guy she has been with for a number of years does not seem to have any conversation left after all this time. Would it be preferable to be with someone who had nothing to say, or someone who made your ears tired every day? Would you rather spend your days with someone who you had to use dental tools on (you know: pulling teeth?) or someone who made  you feel like 'hands up', and saying 'too much information!'

I like solitude, willingly tell anyone that peace and quiet is a Good Thing. I guess maybe, possibly, I should be thankful for what I have, and appreciate the fact that I do not have tired ears?

if you are offended ....

...by the  word 'piss', now would be a good time to quit reading. I am going to be doing considerable griping about cats and the pungency of my carport. Also seeking advice as to how to resolve the problem without committing mayhem on the neighbor's felines. It has long been a nuisance, and I am getting profoundly weary of stop gap measures that are obviously not adequate at stopping the problem.

There are at least two 'strange' cats that come by on a fairly regular basis to visit the 'buffet'. We put out dry food and some small amount generally gets left in the bowl in the carport where my own personal cats are accustomed  being fed. Then the cats that live in the neighborhood, one a bob-tail, and the other just a big, hulking bully come around and go 'hissss....'  Which causes the cats who live here to back off and surrender the remaining food.  Then the roaming visitiors do what obnoxious male cats do - mark what they now claim as their 'territory'.

So the inside of my carport always, always, always smells like cat piss.  And if that is not unpleasant enough (for the person who has to clean it up, as well as you, dear reader), they, on a regular basis, leave little piles of crap. I'm pretty sure it is not my cats: one is litter box trained, and the other goes out in the yard... which leaves the random, roaming visitor to be the one leaving evidence of their assumed ownership.

I've always thought I preferred cats over dogs, as they are not so high maintenance. Being more capable of self-care, and managing life without human assistance, I've always felt like they can get by on their own, without our interference with their lives.  I know dogs can live in feral colonies too, and survive without store bought food, but cats just have that independence about them, where as dogs - well, they are dogs.

All this to say: I periodically get to my limit. And did just that this afternoon. While the carrot cake was baking, I decided to attempt (again, another fruitless endeavor, I am sure) to eliminate the problem. So I poured bleach out there on the concrete, where I have been sprinkling baking soda in a effort to absorb the odor. Then a drizzle of detergent. And got the hose to wet it all down. Took a broom and stirred it all up, sweeping to and fro to spread it around, and hopefully eliminate enough of the delightful aroma of cat piss that they will not be back before daylight spraying their territory again.

The homemade disaster occurred when I was sweeping. There was apparently enough of the product of cats to create ammonia. And when mixed with bleach - creates a noxious gas that brought tears to my eyes, and a coughing fit. Yes: I know. I read all the haz.mat. warnings, and know better. After not knowing better many years ago, and mixing that same deadly combo. when cleaning the bathtub/shower stall, nearly asphyxiating myself, I really do know better. But it never occurred to me that there was sufficient ammonia in cat piss to present a problem. Now we know, right?

my assignments...

for Easter lunch: squash casserole, deviled eggs and (a great family tradition:) carrot cake. The carrot cake recipe is from the Camellia City Cookbook. The original cookbook, with red plastic binding. Typed on manual typewriters when I was in high school, by the stars of the class, complete with typos and various mis-keyed letters, floating bits of alphabet. I've made it numerous times over the years as it was originally the Official Family Birthday Cake. Back when daughters were small enough to generally eat anything that was put in front of them. As well as having never been exposed to white sugar-fied commercial bakery cake with gobs of butter cream icing. Now I only make it once a year, as a command performance, when it is a requested item for the Easter lunch.

I've already made the squash casserole - did that as soon as I brought groceries home, and put it in the fridge. And waiting until the last possible minute to boil a dozen eggs. I thought I had some, but that carton was nearly empty. And experience has taught me that they are so much easier to peel when they have 'matured', I know not to even try as soon as they come in the house. So I will boil my eggs for devil-ing when I get home from work today, while I am doing the onerous grating for the cake.

I nearly forgot that I had agreed to run to Sam's Club and get a second ham. The hostess decided that one eight pound ham is not enough pig for the crowd that is expected. And it is much easier for me to get another than for her to go across town. So I jumped up yesterday afternoon, and dashed out in the pouring rain to search for a second porker. I am not eating that, so I do hope that I will not forget to load it up after we go to church in the morning. It would be a horrifying tale to have to say that TP ate a  whole ham by himself, though I am pretty sure it is possible.

I will finish up my assignments this afternoon, and be ready to head north after we go to earliest church Sunday morning at 8. I haven't been to a sunrise service on Easter Sunday morning since I was about ten years old, remembering how cold I was in my finery: lacy ankle socks, shiny black strap-on Mary Janes, full-skirted gingham dress with stiff organza pinafore (and shabby sweater) waiting in the dark at the football stadium for the event to start, so it would be over and I could go home and get warm again. So ... I think getting organized enough to get there at 8 is sufficient for me.

funny, that...

Friday, April 18, 2014
... I really do not have a problem with paying (exorbitant) price for gas, but have been dragging my feet, waffling, dis-inclined to buy new tires. Bite the bullet I did, (sounds like Yoda?)  and went to the tire store yesterday to discuss, gripe, whine and finally agree with the guy at the counter about having four installed today. You might remember the story of having to purchase a tire in January, headed towards south GA, when I had a puncture mid-way. That was really aggravating, though the ultimate outcome made me thankful: it did not happen in the middle of no-where, it was not dark or raining, and I could readily afford the price of a new tire.

But when I went to the tire store on Thursday afternoon, with the intention of buying three (3) tires, thinking I didn't need four, I discovered that was not an option. The tires I agreed to, once I got over a major case of disgruntlement, were apparently only sold as a 'set'. Yes, I know. Sounds pretty unlikely to me to. But don't tell me it is not true. It's too late to reconsider.

I told the Tire Guy I would bring my car over mid-morning and come back when I got off work. So I had TP pick me up and run me back to the store around 11. And got a call when they got done, to let me know it was ready. It has been raining cats and dogs here, all day. Soaking, soggy, puddled up water everywhere.

You will be so pleased you were not there to be embarrassed by the sight: Me, with plastic bags on my feet, and a huge, over-sized bright yellow hooded raincoat that had Publix printed on the back, trudging along through the parking lot, across the street, down the gutter on to the tire store. I'm delighted  to report that I hardly got wet. Other than my shoes, but with plastic produce bags covering my socks, I did not even notice. I detest soggy socks. It will likely take my shoes several days to try out, but at least my socks did not get soaked.

I am very sad to report that all the increased funds I have earned as a result of working nearly forty hours this week will go towards investing in 'rubber futures'. If there were actually a plantation some place in the tropics where we could go and enjoy lemonade on the veranda, while the fans sloooowly rotated overhead, that would make me feel much better about my investment. But I guess the fact that I don't have to worry about' slip sliding away' on rain-slicked streets will have to be enough compensation.

about that ladder...

Thursday, April 17, 2014
...the one that I used when I was trying to clean the leaves off the roof, without actually getting On It, so I would not fall Off It.  I don't know where it came from, or how long it's been around here. I guess since we were painting, or tree climbing/trimming, or trying to get a cat out of a tree (the most fruitless endeavor I can think of off the top of my head!) but certainly since we were trying to get to something that was slightly out of reach.

But in recent years it has been parked just beneath some shelving in the carport. Opened wide with legs askew, a giant letter 'A'. Which tells you that the shelving is six feet off the floor, with the ladder  snuggled up under the lower shelf.  Up high on the west side, on the inner wall, where there are assorted boxes stored. Old tax records, a dusty/musty brief case or two. A box of Styrofoam chunks and silk flowers I take when I go to visit the forefathers at the cemetery. A brass container/cache pot that (was my grandmother's) has an assortment of animal skulls I've come across when walking in the woods.

 And a cat. She sleeps in a box up on the shelf. It has a cushion I purchased years ago that is stuffed with good smelling things/herbs that are supposed to be very appealing to a cats' sense of smell. And they have all slept over time on the pillows about twelve inches square. Often finding more than one in the boxes that lined the shelves, keeping warm and snug in cold weather.  So when the ladder is needed for honey-do projects, you must be certain to return it to the carport before bedtime, so the cat who sleeps up there every night (and occasionally cat-napping during the day) can go to bed.

today, I did...

Wednesday, April 16, 2014
a bunch of stuff. Starting with waking up at 4:30, due to the cat wanting to start a conversation. I've never really been a 'morning person', and like to wake up to peace and quiet. The Guy I have been living with all these years, has always wanted to chit-chat when he opens his eyes.... no telling how many times I have heard shower tunes before daylight. But I'm much closer to the end of the scale where you do not turn on lights or make lots of noise upon arising.

It has been years since I have had to set an alarm clock,, but my new boss thinks I need to be on the job before daylight. It's been a trying process having to get up and out the door at 5:30, to be at work by 6:00. I would likely be awake and active by six a.m., it's just not my preferred arrival time for employment.

But I did it any way, after feeding myself and the cat. Plus giving the meds she gets twice a day. I knew there would be lots of plants: lilies, tulips, hyacinths, azaleas, daffodils, roses, callas - and they won't sell stuck in a shipping carton in the stock room. So trying to find a place to sit dozens of plants was the first order of business. Then about ten boxes of bouquets: mums, lilies, babies breath, roses that need stems cut and watering. So that's my morning.

And making fruit/yogurt parfaits and salads before leaving about 2:00.

I know this will sound like same-song-second-verse; I could not start  my car. Deeeaaadd battery. Yesh, I know... but this one was the battery in the little clicker gadget that locks and unlocks the doors, in addition to having the ignition 'key'. I'd left a note to ask The Guy to take the spare one to the battery store and get a new battery put in. Assuming that he would know I needed it.  That is a fallacy. He was sitting, when I called to tell him I needed to be rescued. He'd been to the store, got the replacement, and sat with it in his pocket - waiting for me to get desperate?

So I had to call him, sit on the curb in the parking lot for twenty minutes until The Guy came with the clicker to let me in my car. He wanted me to try to key that is on the fob. Which I already did. And could not get the door unlocked. But the new battery has plenty of juice, and solved the problem.

today, I did...

Monday, April 14, 2014
...nearly nothing. I have to work everyday until next Sunday, which will be everyone's day off, due to the store being closed. Do not expect to make a run to Publix to grab a few things to complete your Easter dinner. I did get the kitchen, bathroom, hall swept and mopped - floor cleaned up from the man and cat who are messy eaters.  It is possible I will clean bathrooms before going to bed.  I will not tell how long it has been since that has happened here, likely the last time someone who is not us came to spend the night and would be using the facilities.

I had great plans for getting stuff done in the yard. But not much happened there, as you can tell by the fact that I have been sitting here typing most of the day ;-)  There have been lots of weeds uprooted, and those agave that have been sitting in the wheelbarrow for two weeks planted. The planting occurred only because I was in need of the wheelbarrow for another project: making dirt.

I've been buying the 'ingredients' for dirt and making a 'recipe' to have buckets of potting stuff on hand for putting things in pots or in the ground. I think I used up the last of a bucket full when I planted foxglove across the front of the house several weeks ago, so I have the makings for creating more 'dirt'. How does one create dirt, you may ask? The ingredients vary, but I use  1) vermiculite, to keep the dirt from packing down, which would cause the plants to not get enough air on their roots, and possibly drown.  2)  Packaged, sterilized manure. 3) hummus or compost, and 4) peat. I generally add some 5) osmocote, time release fertilizer into the mix.

 Dump it all together and stir well, store in covered buckets until you feel the urge to plant things.The wheelbarrow is the only thing of any size I have to put all this conglomeration in and stir it up good. Sort of a giant mixing bowl. (Not surprising for the girl, who as a kid, in the blistering hot south GA summer, would get the garden hose and fill the wheelbarrow to use for a wading pool.  Good cheap fun if you don't mind having an older brother blackmail you over it for the rest of your natural life.)

I did not have any of the 'recipe' mixed up and could not use the wheelbarrow as it was full of those agave plants, that as you might guess, had gotten pretty raunchy due to sitting in a puddle for over a week. But I got them planted out there in No Man's Land, and cleaned out the bowl of the barrow so I can mix up some more happy plant stuff - and now it is raining. That is my excuse for not being productive for the remainder of the day. The planting saga will continue tomorrow...

prayer week at CCC...

We are having a week of prayer at church all this week, starting tomorrow night. We do this three times a year. Once early in January, again around Easter, and for the last time in the fall. I've been mostly trying to go several nights each week... and find that I loose interest by about the fourth night. Possibly due to the fact that I know I will be working that week, leading up to Easter.  After getting up early in the morning, and working on my feets all day, I am so tired that instead of making me more meditative, reflective and holy, when they dim the lights and start with the calm soothing music: what I am is sleepy.

On Friday night, there will be a man who will come and talk about what the Passover meal would have been like 2000 years ago. What the Jewish families would have put on their tables, how they would have' observed'. I wanted to say 'celebrated', but not sure that is the right word. Even though there would have been, in retrospect, a sense of wonder, and delight to know that their homes and families had been passed by when the Angel of Death came calling. This man who is going to be speaking to the congregation on Friday night, for the last of the prayer week gatherings, is a Hebrew, a member of the Jew for Jesus organization.

The flyer in the bulletin indicated that it would be a 'stirring presentation' for attendees. It is designed to demonstrate for the Christian/non Hebrew how the Festival of Redemption and The Lamb of God are connected. The man who will be giving the talk is Georgia native, and a son of a Holocaust survivor.

PS to that: unrelated to Easter. I just finished a book by Jodi Picoult about the Holocaust. Well written, amazing research, heart-wrenching. The story of a young woman whose grandmother endured beyond endurance and survived to move to America. Fiction but profoundly believable. "The Storyteller". Hard to put down, and it's been years since a book kept me up late reading!

fern fan...

There is a fern plant growing right outside the screened porch, where I can see it from my chair, here at the dining table. I have been watching it daily for several weeks: seeing the fiddle heads grow taller and slowly starting to unfurl. There are at least seven heads, some that look about two feet tall. The process of gaining height, and slowly opening, as the spirals get taller, and the individual fronds grow daily in increments, makes me think of those old Disney shows, that introduced us to the wonders of nature. Probably something you would see  now on the Discovery channel, with time lapse photography, as you see the rose almost instantaneously open up from a small tight bud, to a multi-petaled wide open bloom.

There is always room for more fern. I made a quick loop through the wallyworld garden center on Saturday afternoon, looking for a bright red geranium to share. And accidentally purchased a pack of fern starts I hope to get planted today. I think it is the same as the one I can see, nearly visibly unfurling through the window: an 'autumn fern' with tall arc-ing fronds, that have a bronze coloration to the young leaves, and underside of leaf as they mature.

There are a number of fronds from a transplant-project coming up in a bed across the north side of the house. A place that never gets any direct sun, but lots of light, usually damp and mossy. Along the edge of the house, where they were planted last year, after growing in Ocala. From a friend who was so determined to share his crop, he mailed the little starts to me.  Not sure what variety it is, but it is so neat to see the little green heads come up and slowly uncurl to make bright green fronds. Probably considered a 'native' as well as 'invasive' in their natural state, far enough south in a zone where they would not normally get freezing weather. Mine disappeared over the winter, but are slowly starting to peek out from their hibernation.  I say: let 'em grow!

Looking out the window, through the screening of the porch, to see the dappled sunlight reflecting off hundreds of new-born leaves on deciduous trees, in a hundred shades of green. That 'yellow rose of Texas', originally a start from my mom's yard, is now in full bloom. With dozens of small bright yellow flowers on long draping branches, lightly bobbing in the breeze. This is one that spreads too, but at such a slow rate as to not really be noticeable as creeping out of the original boundaries. It's very hardy - never gets any attention, and continues to provide brilliant color year after year when the bulb plants have faded.

crown of thorns...

Saturday, April 12, 2014
A co-worker was talking a week or so ago, abut plans she is making for doing some special things at her church for Easter. One of them being getting someone to make a big wooden cross to set out on the church property, for people to see when they come to services next Sunday. And asking for advice abut how long the piece of purple fabric she would drape over the cross piece should be for best visual effect.

And asking me where she might be able to find something to make a crown of thorns from. I told her I could do that. So I went off in the woods, down the hill, behind the house, several days ago. Looking for something sufficiently vine-y and thorny. I had my gloves and clippers to cut some pieces I could loop together to make into a wreath shape, but had a hard time finding what I needed. The things that were flexible enough to be able to wrap around in a circle to make a wreath/crown didn't have thorns, and the vines I could find with thorns big enough to be easily visible, were so thick and difficult to bend, they were not shape-able. I finally found a couple of pieces I thought would work, and looped them together, after several puncture wounds.

It was probably a bit  bigger than 'actual size': you know how things are portrayed in photographs with a disclaimer that states they might appear in the picture as a bit larger than in real life? Sort of 'enhanced for your viewing pleasure?  I just wanted to be sure that the looped vines would fit on the top-most part of the post that will be the cross, and rest on the horizontal piece. When I took it in to work and gave it to her, I think she had probably forgotten about her request and my response. I got a sort of 'blank look' when I handed it over, and said, 'be careful, it will hurt you'.

All this to say: this is that same Mean As A Snake vine I've complained so vehemently about. Written about trying to dig the huge, house-cat sized tubers, sweating and stomping and swearing over the thorny smilax vines. When I have dug up the source, rooting around in the dirt, almost to the point of accusing the plant to be evil, so mean and grabby it is almost from the pit of hell: that's what I used to make the Crown of Thorns.

297 divided by 2...

...is what the distance is from Decatur to Greenville, SC. So, of course, I came back, which accounts for the fact you have to divide by two to figure out how far it is from here to there. I spent the night in Decatur and got up about 6 a.m. to hit the road. After various and sundry cats came skulking in at some point in the wee hours, and tipped over a wooden folding chair that was leaning precariously, causing a tremendous crash, that probably terrified the cats even more than soundly sleeping me.

That six o'clock was about the time I had planned to get up and out the door, so it all worked out. I have gotten to where I try to leave town really early to avoid crazy commuter traffic, even though it is not bad on the weekends. And stop about half-way to SC, and get out to walk for a while around a covered outdoor shopping area in Commerce. Lots of retail shops, supposedly 'outlet' stores (a flagrant, blatant untruth), arranged in a big rectangle, around a central parking lot. Abut a mile of sidewalk, so I usually make the circuit a couple of times. Then get back on the road, to head on to SC. Arriving around 9:30, stopping at the nearby BI-LO for something sweet, breakfast-y for us to eat.

As soon as we eat that, we start talking about lunch. Reminding me of  a couple in Q., friends of my dad, who would get up, dressed and go out for breakfast., Then sit over their dirty breakfast dishes and discuss plans for the next meal. And go out to lunch, and sit over those dishes, deciding about where to go for dinner... and so forth, and so on...

We rode around town a bit, admiring lots of beauty-full blooms on hundreds of dogwood trees, gloriously white, with a occasional pink thrown in for variety. I'd noticed newly stocked K-Mart garden center, next to the grocery store, so we perused our way through the plants. I bought a pot of Shasta daisies and a pair of  gardening gloves. I'll plant the nice big clump of daisies into several different pots and let them grow a while before putting in the ground.

Speaking of daisies: the ones in the bed across the front of the house, were on the cusp of bursting wide open when I left town Friday morning. There in that same bed are some white-with-yellow-center daisies that bloom in the late summer, as well as some chrysanthemum daisies that bloom in the fall. I think the Shasta daisies will bloom in early summer, on a different schedule from all the others. So I am hoping, looking forward to daisies blooming, and blooming, and blooming and then blooming some more. Do you think I might be partial to daisies? Well... maybe just a little....

inflation at the pump...

Friday, April 11, 2014
I am so annoyed about the cost of fuel going up on a daily basis. I stopped three times on the drive from Valdosta to Col. yesterday to buy a few gallons at the time. I'd see that my gas gauge was inching down to the last little square. And not wanting to be taking a stroll along the right-of-way, miles from anywhere. Against my will, I'd stop at the next high-priced pump and get two or three gallons. Enough to get me on my way, when I am getting a minimum forty mpg. But not enough to see  my way clear to the house... therefore knowing I'd be stopping again.

I started off with $15 in Valdosta. Which at that masked bandit price, was barely over three gallons. Up I-75  to Tifton, and on to Albany, where it was even higher than 'hold-up' prices. So went on to Dawson, where I remembered it was about twenty cents less than south Georgia. And had to stop again in Columbus, at wally world (3cents off) to fill up. For a fresh start today.

This is all kind of like when you are tooling along on the interstate, and traffic precipitously slows to twelve miles an hour for no apparent reason. Then suddenly everyone is speeding up again to seventy plus, for no apparent reason.... Nothing at all visible on the road, or along the right-of-way to indicate the reason for everyone stomping on the breaks. No reason for slowing to a crawl, then getting to a point that you are whizzing along at the speed of sound.

So - a similar thing is going on with gas. What 'world wide' incident caused this instantaneous rise at the pump? What earth-shattering imbalance in the cost of a barrel of crude has created this sudden change? What dramatic event in global politics brings about this steep increase at the retail level?  I think that the convenience store workers all have binoculars, and periodically go out the door to peer down the street, checking the sign on the next corner, to know how much to raise their prices. And they should all be wearing masks, looking like the Lone Ranger, as the price of gas is definitely a form of banditry.

there is this space...

Thursday, April 10, 2014
on my calendar I felt compelled to fill. I'd planned to go up to visit my brother in VA for several days this week, and that got postponed until late May. So I had those days 'blank 'on my calendar. How tragic! The idea of staying at home and doing something as unlikely and distasteful as cleaning, mopping, windows, etc., how hilarious! So ridiculous that I packed up and left home.

On Wednesday I took my friend PC. to lunch for her birthday. We ate and ate and ate pizza. They definitely did not make any money on us! That'll teach them to have a pizza buffet. So much for all you can eat... plus we sat there and talked so long, we probably could have started over. And then need to get a wheelbarrow to get out the door.

After eating huge quantities of pizza, I went to south GA. Had a couple of hours of daylight to do some yard work, weed pulling, trash pickup. And went to bed when it got too dark to see. And got up this morning to do some more cleaning up. Spraying lots of weedy stuff, overgrown undergrowth. And recruited a young man to do some major bush-whacking of foundation plantings. It was a very productive day.

Got home about dark, ready to go to bed... and get up on Friday to drive north.

cat's tale, ongoing...

Wednesday, April 9, 2014
Just spent about twenty minutes cutting the wee little white pills in half. I know she will be taking this stuff for the rest of her natural life. (Which I guess is not actually 'natural' if I continue to provide the meds that extend it?) So I decided I should try to be a frugal as possible, after investing approximately $800 in this bony little cat: numerous trips to the vet., more testing than I care to consider, pharmaceuticals since early in the year.

The meds I ordered from the pharmacy in Canada came yesterday, and had to be cut in half: administer one half of each pill twice a day. Would it not come out the same if I could persuade her to ingest a single/whole pill one time each day? Sometimes it works like a charm, when I carefully secret the little contraband in a small dab of wet food. And sometimes it doesn't work at all. Then there are times when she will lap up every last drop of the milk the liquid medication has been added to. And times when she is so snooty (cat like!) she lets it sit indefinitely, and it gets poured down the drain. I guess that is what makes cats cats?

If she is going to be taking it forever, I thought I might as well try to order and save a bit. It was not my idea of thrifty, when I placed the order and was told how much they would charge to my MC. But then I called the vets' office and requested enough to get us through the week it would take for the stuff to be shipped, and paid eight dollars for seven of each. So I guess the package that had enough for eight weeks was a pretty decent savings after all. Now all I have to do is persuade her to take the drugs...

inventory day...

My cheerful, friendly, outgoing, efficient, OCD new produce department manager asked me to come in today and 'help' with the store-wide quarterly inventory. Another of those 'show up at 6 am' days. The counting is done by a vendor, outside source, that sends in at least a dozen workers, with scanners who literally scan every UPC in the store.  Apples to Wine, Deli in northwest corner to Produce in southeast corner, and  everything in between.

It's tough on the stock crew, to get everything in the back room counted and bar-coded before the counters come, to have the inventory crew in and out in as little time as possible. But it happens every three  months. The numbers are used to figure the bonus that is paid to full time employees - based on store sales/profitability. I'm not full time, so I do not benefit from the inventory/bonus. But I got up and went in for an hour to be sure everything in the floral area got counted. Balloons to Vases, and everything in between.

I'm not griping at all. They pay me the same rate whether I am sweeping the floor, making salads, doing floral work, or bagging groceries. And after a couple of years of a moody, uncommunicative boss, it is a relief to work in pleasant circumstances again. With a boss who will tell you what he wants and trust you to be capable, follow through, do your job. Though I do not enjoy getting up at 5:00 am to go to work, if that's what he wants, I can do it. And, at the end of the day, be ready to crash, go to bed at 9:00 pm to be able to do it again.

I will say that it is a whole lot easier to leave the house at that hour if I am going on a road trip, and  can anticipate seeing someone I am crazy about at the other end. So that's something to look forward to in the next few days.

makin' salads...

Tuesday, April 8, 2014
It is hard to admit: I don't make much money working at my little jobette. Certainly not enough to support myself/live on. I might if it was full-time, and all I ever did is go to work, be exhausted, go to bed, get up and go to work again. Which I do not do, and even more- do not want to do. But the down side of that is the lack of steady income.

When I do go to that jobette, in recent years I have been spending more of my time working in the produce prep. area, than working as a floral person. Until recently, I was not spending much time at work: with a manager who did not want to devote any of his 'labor-hour budget' to me. So I had gotten accustomed to working ten or twelve hours a week. Sort of a catch-22: no work = no income. And lots of free time to devote to things I would rather do than be working, but again: no work = fewer dollars to pay for all that gas I burn running all over the state. better hours now, sometimes twenty or more a week, but there's that catch-22 again: fewer hours to spend running around = better funding for fun....

I may sound a bit whine-y, give the impression of being put-upon, give the idea I am feeling like a red-headed-stepchild, act like it's a miserable chore. But actually I feel like I am pretty good at it, have finally gotten to the point that I don't have to look at the book to check the ingredients/recipe any more.  And don't really have a problem with making salads and fresh-fruit yogurt parfaits.

I often think when I make the ones that are shredded romaine lettuce and little red and yellow grape tomatoes: it feels like hiding Easter eggs. Always an amusing occupation. And sometimes when I am making salads in those clear plastic bowls with snap-on lids, I will put too much stuff in the bowl, making the lid not want to snap shut. It makes me think about that ancient Jack-in-the-box I remember in the nursery at church when my girls were little. How you would have to stuff the clown head back in the little box, with the damaged 'catch', and slam the lid on really fast to keep the clown in. Then you would turn the crank on the side and make the tinny music, and suddenly the top would fly open, and out pops Jack! There are times when I feel as if I need to stuff everything in really fast, snatch my fingers out really quick, and slam the plastic lid on really quickly, before the lettuce and tomatoes get loose again. Sort of Jack-in-the-box'ish. 

The things we do at work to amuse ourselves and help the time pass...

PS: to being a little arty...

Monday, April 7, 2014
When I got 'roped' into doing those decorations for the Sunday School classroom, I was reluctant. I think not wanting to make the time commitment. The friend, S., who had been recruited into doing the project for this teacher was probably asked due to her career as an elementary school teacher. We all know that Every elementary school teacher can work miracles in a classroom, as well as do assorted magic tricks to comfort. placate, inspire, motivate little people. And I guess most people assume that also includes coming up with instant clever creative classroom decorations that they happen to have in their bag, like Mary Poppins. Or was it her amazing umbrella?

S. had been doing the designs, fairly simple, but colorful and eye-catching for this teacher for some months, maybe a year. And had 'suggested' to me, more than once when I would see her, that this little endeavor was Right Up My Alley. How she could look at me and see under all my disguises that I had formerly worn the title of Bulletin Board Queen, I will never know. I avoided the job for months, as she continued to work with the teacher to make decorations that would fit in with the monthly chosen theme.

I think I started doing it back in January, and found it to be interesting. I don't do anything, nothing at all in an 'arty' vein. Pretty surprising? Yeah, me too. But I have been pleasantly surprised to discover I have enjoyed: pondering the idea, nurturing the spark of the theme given by the teacher, coming up with a design in my head.  Then proceeding with turning that idea into something that is up on the wall in the classroom for the teacher to use as a visual aid.

So I am ready to admit, that in spite of humongous reluctance, I have discovered this to be a blessing. An opportunity to nurture the seed and see a wee little bit of an idea grow into a (very amateurish) finished product. Something that I look at and say:  hey, that's pretty neat! I'm the slightest bit embarrassed to admit (due to the amateurish quality) that it has been enjoyable. Since I do not really do anything art-related, this has turned into something that I find some satisfaction in - being in a position to share my talent, small though it may be.

I have long known that I do not have the 'gift' for drawing or painting. My skills (as well as enjoyment) lie more towards the crafty end of the spectrum. I'm more of a make-and-do sort of person: all that mildly amusing stuff one does at summer camp. Mostly cheesy, at the level of elementary school age, but something that does open doors, show little folk the possibilities.  As well as occasionally turning on their brains to the creative arts.

All this to say, that little volunteer jobette I took on, under duress, has become enjoyable. As long as I don't procrastinate, wait till the 'assignment' is due to get started (remember all those lengthy papers you were up all night writing?). So thank you, S., for foisting this project off on me. I have recently discovered what I initially thought to be a 'chore' has become a blessing... and guess that is true of a lot of things that we do in life. Starting off thinking we are doing it for someone else, only to discover it changes Us!

P.S.: to wurkin'...(edited with pictures!)

Sunday, April 6, 2014
I have these two huge tea olive trees planted much too close to the house. That smell so wonderfully fragrantly delightfully yummy, I tell people I am convinced that is what will assault our noses when we get to heaven. (Or maybe magnolia blooms.) These two tiny shrubs, about the diameter of a pencil and maybe thirty inches tall, were purchased in one gallon pots. When we moved into this house, well over thirty years ago, as a gift from my grandmother, and planted behind the house, near bedroom,  so I could open the windows and enjoy the fragrance when they bloom several times each year. Of course now they are  much taller than the peak of the roof, and frequently need trimming. Also probably the cause of long term plumbing problems when we had an alternative method of disposing of waste products. But the thing I wanted to say: is how the smell of the tea olive tree, any place, any time, makes me think of my grandmother.

As I have travelled around south Georgia in recent weeks, and seen wildflowers gloriously blooming out in the woods, along the right-of-way I've seen lots of wisteria. Which makes me think of the amusing cousin who loves it so much she has a hand-sized tattoo inked on her back. No fear: I'm not that crazy about it. It also makes me think of neighbors of my parents when I was a kid, who had several wisteria plants in their yard. I know now how invasive it is, and what a considerable effort it would take to keep that monster under control. The plants, when these sweet people, now deceased, lived next door, were deliberately consistently trimmed to keep the vining shrub maintained in to a small compact plant. I think it has since been neglected to the point that it is in the tree tops.  I am convinced there is a here-to-for undiscovered link between wisteria and kudzu: both are remarkably invasive, thought they surely must have some undiscovered purpose here on the planet, sort of like the lowly peanut George Washington Carver found so many surprising uses for.

Another thing I see when roaming the countryside, flagrantly blooming in the tree tops, has been yellow Carolina jasmine. It too, will climb up anything it can get a toe-hold on. Often seen twining around fence posts, and across into the distance on wire farm fences. Or draping and dangling from high tree limbs. My dad enjoyed traveling country by-ways seeing the bright yellow blooms -- always an early spring bloomer - promising warmer weather, sunshine-y days of spring, new growth in the forests and fields. I don't know whether he grew fond of the Carolina jasmine in his years as a cotton ginner: bringing the knowledge that the rural area where he lived would soon begin the cycle of plowing and planting crops. Or during his years as a mail carried, for several routes around the county where he lived - having the time to drive down dirt roads and obscure little by-ways, putting mail into boxes, visiting with farming men and their home-maker wives. Taking the time to notice the changes as they gradually came with the turning of the clock, and altered rotation of the planet. But I know he loved seeing the yellow blooms, and started looking for them, twining into the uppermost branches of the roadside trees as the pages of the calendar promised Spring.

wurkin' all day...

Saturday, April 5, 2014
My new produce department manager must really think I'm something special: I don't usually work on Saturdays, and I worked ten hours today. Pretty impressive for someone who was working eight or ten hours a week back in January. I don't know how it happened, but there was a major under-staffing problem today, with not nearly enough hands to get the work done... so we just 'dood our bestest'.

I was so weary when I got home I got out my folding chair, got myself a beer (after checking to be sure it was five o'clock) and plopped right down. Admiring my yard, and enjoying the beauty full spring day. I noticed a couple of pink tulips blooming out under the azaleas - I planted years ago, probably a rescue job from some pots that had bloomed out at work. I think I have probably planted several dozen more in recent weeks - that the squirrels or chipmunks immediately unearthed to see if there might be a casserole for their dinner tucked away under there.  I replanted. I guess they figured it out: nothing tasty.

And some blue blooming things that I cannot quite identify. I think they are some form of hyacinth: the color is right, and the growth habit is right, but they are not at all as heavy-duty as the ones I have planted by the dozens as orphans from work. About six to eight inches tall, with numerous blue blooms in each stalk, and narrow strap-like leaves, similar to the ones I see in pots, but much narrower and smaller in size.

I got the hyacinth? bulbs years ago from my auntie, who planted and apparently did not like/want/care for. So she dug them all up and gave to me. They have all multiplied prolifically - I guess there are hundreds now. Growing out by the fence, in fairly dense shade, but really pretty and colorful. If I can figure out what they are, I will be digging some up to sell on Craig's list.

Sitting here looking out the window through the screened porch, I see lots of dogwood trees blooming out in the woods. And at the edge of the yard, the 'yellow rose of Texas' is starting to open up. That came from my mom, years ago, and have survived beautifully with total neglect. Interesting how we will think of the people who gave us the plants, and associate particular individuals with things as they become noticeable through the passing seasons. I also have some iris planted out along the driveway that came from east Georgia, the back yard of my Grandmother's sister's house. So I always think of Aunt Ease when the white iris start to bloom.

being a little arty...

Friday, April 4, 2014
I wrote earlier in the year, about finding myself having accidently volunteered to do some room decorating for a Sunday School class teacher. Apparently she has been writing her on curriculum, developing and designing it to be appropriate/suitable for some kids with special needs. And has a different theme each month. The one for April is: guess what?  Easter - but no bunnies or chicks.

 At one time when I was desperate for income I considered trying to start a business where I would design bulleting boards: you come up with the idea, supply the paper and glue, and I will turn your spark into a clever, colorful finished product. I think there are people who do make  money, if not a living, doing this sort of thing. Dreaming up cute themes, turning their seasonal ideas into designs they create, publish and sell in book form, marketing to school teachers who apparently have no imagination. Too bad I stalled out on that...

This teacher wanted the tomb and crosses. I had a general idea, something similar to a wall I had done years ago for a bulletin board at the Presby. church we attended for many years (where I was the yard man, chief cook and bottle-washer). That one from the Presbyterians looked really good - I had lots of colored tissue paper I added to make it look like early morning, colorful sunrise on Easter Sunday. So impressed was I with my handiwork, I had a hard time wanting to take it down, so I think Easter lingered for several months... This one, just completed, (wishing I'd taken a photo!) I devoted entirely too much time to drawing with markers, snipping and gluing, putting something up on the wall this aft., partially due to having dragged my feet all week long and waiting until nearly too late to get started.

It looks ok, but would be better if I had more color choices for paper. Meaning the color choices were pretty much limited to brown and not-so-dark brown, a sort of khaki color.  Had to use what's on hand, which was not so bad, since most of the photos I seen of that part of the world lead me to think much is desert-like with little growing/green, that is not constantly nourished with scarce and precious water resources. So the illustration for the little SS kids is brown: three crosses on the hill on one side, and the Garden, with stone bench and tomb in the other. It's all glued together, except for the 'stone' which is attached with masking tape, so it can be 'rolled away' in a few weeks. 

three hours later....

I've had all the therapy I can stand.  I probably dug up a hundred dandelions... and even if I did not get them all, my theory is that everyone I pull out of the ground is one more that can't reproduce.   So in reality whether you are getting to the root of the matter or just snatching off the blooming part, that turns into seeds and scatter to come back next spring: getting that flower before it goes to seed is what counts.

A co-worker/digger removed some agave plants from the beds at the elementary school, and we took an unofficial vote and decided in unison to not plant it back, right there were the lunch room doors open and kids mill around. It can be very mean, with prickles that attract small hands with unpleasant results. While they were discussing, trying to decide whether to relocate or just put it in the dumpster while no one is looking, I decided to load it up in the back of my car/truck while they were All Looking.

So now I have to get a hole dug to plant agave. It had lots of children that had come up from runners around the mother, so if you want some of this (not particularly desirable plant) let me know. Otherwise you are saying to yourself: what was she thinking???I am going to plant it up near the street, across the driveway from the mailbox, where it will get several hours of hot afternoon sun. If it does not like the location: so be it. I'm the person who says: I dug the hole and put you in it, I feel like I've done my part - so the rest is up to you, little limp, wilt-y bare-rooted transplant.

most excellent therapy...

I have received an offer for an opportunity to pull weeds. I readily tell anyone who will listen that I find it to be the next best therapy in the world. The best in hole digging - regardless of whether you have anything to put in the hole or not.

Today's project is to reinvigorate a little garden spot at the elementary school a half mile down my street. The info. I have is that someone spent a good bit of time, and apparently a nice chunk of PTA money on designing and installing a garden with some perennials and shrubs. I think it was dedicated to a member of the staff (possibly retired, or maybe deceased?)

And has been consistently neglected in the intervening years. Someone at the school (possibly principal) contacted a newly-minted master gardener and asked if they/she/we would be interested in bringing the area back to life. Making me think of The Secret Garden. Though it is  not  in a secret location at all: but right by the front door of the building, where everyone who walks in can eyeball, not actually avoid seeing how shabby, weedy and un-cared for it looks. A bit of weed pulling, some judicious pruning and mulch will hopefully do the trick.

 Now is possibly a good time for a confession: I dug a hole a couple of months ago, back early in the year, shortly after a good rain. Knowing that the normally rock-hard red clay in the yard would be most easy to dig after a thorough soaking. And fully expecting that I would be performing last rites for the cat who is contentedly sleeping on the couch. I've even purchased funeral shrouds for the two remaining: both have pillowcases, ready and waiting, for the eventuality of kicking the bucket.  She seems to be in 'remission', but meds. can only 'make her comfortable' and do not actually solve/remedy the problem. The thing we will have to wonder is how long she will be 'comfortable'...

traveling ....

Thursday, April 3, 2014
I drove to south GA on Wednesday afternoon. It was a beauty-full spring day, and a joy to be out traveling through the countryside, observing things begin to show signs of renewing life after a cold drab season of winter. There were many places where wooded areas had been logged over, with scraggly brightly whitely blooming dogwoods pretty much the only thing left standing. When they are  not blooming, hardly noticeable, and likely left as trash. Only to struggle, survive, and come back to put on a show in the early spring. Tiny white blooms brightly spotting the landscape, long after the earth-eating heavy yellow equipment of the logging company has moved on to pillage another peaceful forest.

Lots of places along the wooded roadsides where wisteria had gotten a toe-hold, taken over acres of rural property and running rampant in the trees. With hundreds of lavender blooms hanging from tree limbs and fences, looking like wrongly colored clumps of dangling grapes.  Pretty little bright yellow wild flowers blooming along the right of way, on tall stems, looking like an untamed version of yarrow. Scattered white blooms of  rain lily in low lying ditches, tempting me to pull over for a bit of surreptitious digging. Gloriously cascading tiny yellow trumpet shaped yellow blooms of vining Carolina jasmine, twining up in to the tippy-tops of trees, or enveloping fence posts and utility poles, trying to reach the sun.

I got to Q. about 5:00, and spent a couple of hours puttering in the yard, digging up weeds, picking up a gazillion pine cones, and tree trash. (With no one there to offer to pay me a penny per for that onerous task!) Had to quit when it got too dark to see - and was so tired bed time came remarkably early.  Got up early this morning and spent several more hours doing clean up - not nearly enough time, but ample work for me to be ready to quit by mid-morn., when I stopped and went to Valdosta.

I think there is a comparison easily drawn between yard work and trying to stay ahead of kids when doing laundry. You really can't let your guard down. If you turn your back, let it get ahead of you, you will feel like you are playing a loosing game of 'catch-up' far into the foreseeable future.

Got back to Col. about 5:00 to attend the ribbon cutting for new studio space as part of the CSU Art. Dept. The entire building that was built in 1902-03 by the Seaboard RR as their staging space for shipping cotton and iron products from Columbus. Beautifully renovated, as you would expect a product of 'your tax dollars at work' to provide.  Really nice... reaaalllly nicer than the two rooms the department had for studio space when I was a student there.

a bit of flag waving...

The two people who are aware of the fact that the ring tone on my cell phone is a John Phillip Sousa composition think I just did it to amuse myself. They know how fond I am of those rousing marches, and likely just assumed it is a small idiosyncratic manner of self-expression. Just a quirk.  Maybe they are right. (I am so tech. inept I had to get one of them to install 'Stars and Stripes Forever' to replace that generic tone, so my choice was deliberate.)  A co-worker's plays the first few bars of a Stevie Wonder tune. I choose a tinny version of one of the most popular marches you hear when the brass band comes high-stepping down the street.

I love all things patriotic. I am a devoted fan of the US Constitution. I am frequently counting as one of my blessings being born in America, in the place and time where I live. Always thankful for the people who have bought my freedom, at a historically great price - dating back to the Revolutionary times and the Battle of Kettle Creek in east Georgia.  And all those since who have served in the military, willing to go and stand in the gap, risk life and limb to preserve those freedoms that are promised by the writings of the Founding Fathers.

So here is something that you probably never thought to consider as a blessing: I just came home from walking three miles in my neighborhood. It was just after 9:00 p.m., well after dark when I got back to the house. I know there are places in the world where the citizens have barred the windows and doors, and locked up their family before the sun sets. I know there are places in the world where you would not be safe, or even live to tell about it, if you went for a walk in broad daylight, down public streets. And I am sure there are places right here in the US that a female is not smart, or safe, to be out after dark. So it is pretty amazing that I started out, knowing that the street lights would all be on before I got home, and I was not worried for my safety. If Mr. Worrywart knew, I'm sure he would have been completely freaked out... but I had no doubt that I would return home, under the street lights, safely.  So there's your lesson in thankfulness for today. Thank you, God, for the US Constitution, and Public Safety officers who are always on duty to serve and protect.

sap definitely rising...

Wednesday, April 2, 2014
When I was driving some time in the past week, I heard an interesting report about how the maple syrup makers in Vermont have changed the designations for grading the quality of their syrup. I don't think I even bought any of the authentic product, so I was not one of the customers who was confused about the quality of the product I was planning to purchase. But the syrup makers are hoping that all the other states that are busily tapping their maple trees will adopt a change that will sort of equalize the evaluation of quality. And Canada too - which according to the reporting on public radio, produces a much bigger quantity than the New England states combined...

I am going today to do a bit of volunteering at the local Botanical Garden - not actually digging, though I'm sure they could use all of that anyone wanted to donate. We will be packaging up some donated plant seeds to offer for sale at the annual Plant show and sale event the first week in May. I should be poking around in various corners right now, looking for seeds I have accumulated to share. I saved some really interesting looking milkweed seeds when they bloomed last summer.

 Milkweed: butterflies love it. I think it is the host plant for the Monarch Butterfly, and remember from the class I took at Callaway Gardens that the plant is considered endangered. Loosing ground, literally, to developers and farmers.  If there is no milkweed, there will be no place for the Monarchs to lay their eggs and reproduce: so... good-bye, Monarch butterflies. 

When the blooms fade, there is a pod-shaped thing, similar to an okra pod, but smaller. When the pod dries out, and cracks open, the seeds, practically weightless, escape to float away on little bits of fluff that are reminiscent of dandelion fuzz.  If you catch the pod just as it is cracking open, you can save the seed to grow, or share, or even package up to sell for profit at the Plant Show. Or in the GA Dept. of Ag. Farmer's Market Bulletin, which is what I intended to do. But if I can locate the bag I saved them in, I will take to the Gardens to add to the collected assortment we will be packaging today instead.

I also have some yellow primrose, that could be considered prolific or possibly invasive, depending on your viewpoint and desire for a multiplicity of yellow primrose, given to me by my pen pal in SC. Plus some Philipine lily seeds that are so old they might not germinate. But certainly worth a try.

it's only 8:00 o'clock...

Tuesday, April 1, 2014
...but I am completely ready to go to bed. Partially due to having set the alarm to wake me up at 5:00 a.m.  And you know what happens when you set the alarm for crack 'o' dawn: waking up every thirty minutes to be check for the nineteenth time the alarm is really set, or you didn't hear it go off, or you overslept, or you're late for whatever.  So it was an all 'round rough night. And then I really did get up at shortly after five to get to work by 6:00.  I'm still wondering, but have not actually asked the schedule-maker/manager the reason for wanting me there an hour before the store opens for business. There is probably a good one - like he wants the early morning workers to have time to spruce up, making everything the epitome of fresh and welcoming?

So I worked till about 2:00, then went to Wallyworld to get a bag of potting soil, and another of cat litter. I could barely lift that 35 pound bag of cat litter into the car, so I have no idea how I was able to get the bigger bag of dirt loaded into the cart, and then into the back of my car/truck. Came home and spent the rest of the afternoon working in the yard. I've been so productive, something to do with the sap rising? Warm sunny weather so conducive to puttering around outside.

I cleaned out the leaves from the valleys on the roof, as far as I could reach, standing on the next-to-top step on the six foot ladder, stretching my reach with the yard rake. Picked up several piles of yard trash/sticks. Dug up some nandinas to relocate. Dug up all those pineapple sage plants I hope someone will want? Anybody? They are already in pots. Put out the last bale of  pine straw and see that I might be able to get by with just one more, but two would be better. Planted the foxglove plants that have been in pots for two years, so now I have ten in a row across the front of the house. I'm so excited - looking forward to seeing them bloom. And will be delighted to see what color they are when it happens. Cleaned up after myself.

All while a casserole was cooking in the oven. With a man sitting in the recliner, holding the timer. Who actually called me on the phone, while he sat, and I was out in the yard, to tell me the casserole was done, and he was ready to eat. I was fully prepared to feel like The Little Red Hen, but will give him credit for setting the table, though all it required was getting two plates and six pieces of silverware from the kitchen and putting them down on the table.