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Sonny's birthday...

Sunday, May 31, 2015
He was born in 1920, and died in 2000. Today is his birthday. He loved ice cream, so I am eating some while thinking of him. Something I always remember to do as a little memorial to my dad.

The weather is really bad here, lighting popping around, thunder babies rumbling across the sky, so I am unplugging... but wanted to say: go eat ice cream.

I saw a woman at work today who had on a T shirt that said: 'Life is too short'... I waited until she turned around, thinking the rest of the sentence would be printed on the back. But that's all the words that were on her person. I'm aware that life really is too short for lots of things, like not eating ice cream when the occasion arises, or chocolate, or not telling people who you care about how you feel. Or working at a job that makes your stomach feel queasy every time you walk in the door.

Take the opportunity when it presents itself - don't procrastinate.

the 'other' other thing....

Saturday, May 30, 2015
...I had on my little 'to do' list for Thursday when I was roaming around town: take aluminum cans to recycle. I know some hilarious people who like to recycle cans to get money and put it in their 'beer-making' fund. And have taken cans on a cross country drive more than once for them to then have to haul to the recycling center and turn into cash. I had two five gallon buckets sitting in the carport full of crushed cans, and wanted to take when I went downtown to that 'hail and farewell' pot luck lunch. Why take the cans on a scenic drive, when I could just get the cash from the recycling business, and not have a car full of stinky bug-infested cans driving around for hours?

I had no idea what the going rate for cans would be, and was interested to see a couple of guys pushing grocery carts piled high with bags of recyclable material struggling along, headed towards the yard where you take metal to re-sell.  I was also very surprised when I took my two little bags of smooshed cans in the big open warehouse that had a sign saying: Receiving, and found a man on the job smoking a cigarette. It is so uncommon to see anyone in public smoking any more. And so unusual to see someone actually working and holding a lighted cigarette at the same time.

I was so startled I wanted to say something to him. Better judgment caused me to keep my mouth shut. Because I would have probably made some comment about how unexpected it was to see a man standing there with something on fire in the middle of his face. Reminding me of the title of that Robert Fulghum book: 'It Was On Fire When I Lay Down On It'... I guess a story about people who do profoundly dumb things while appearing to have at least a modicum of good sense?

I think I was expecting that my accumulated cans would have some actual value: sorry, only two dollars and fifteen cents. That won't go far for the  people who enjoy creating home-brew.

So I think I will put my lottery winnings in with the $2.15 to spur the process along. I'd never had a scratch off card before, so did not know how it works. But was pleasantly surprised when I used my Lucky Peso to scratch all the spaces and discover I had a card that paid a great big whopping $15. I will stop by the curb store and cash it in...

forsythia on Craig's list...

... has been posted for at least a couple of years, periodically renewed, hoping to get folks to want to buy and plant it. All's I am asking is two dollars, but all you get is a sprig. The adv. says it will be bare-rooted, so you need to have your hole dug when you get it, ready to put in the ground and water well.

I talked to someone at the luncheon on Thursday so said she knew someone who would like to have some to start out on some land he has cleared. So I said: please do. I will dig and bring to you. So I dug it, and took it to Decatur instead. Ha.

I told her I would dig forsythia and leave at her house after work today. And made the mistake of writing her address on my hand. So now I don't know where to take it. I really did transfer the info. to a piece of paper, but don't know what I did with the note, so had to call to ask for the info. again. I have the forsythia sitting in a bucket full of water, waiting to find out where it is supposed to be.

Loaded up a couple of big pots that had Carolina jasmine in them to give away. Someone in town with close neighbors thinks she wants to start it on a brick wall in her back yard. I did not tell her the plants were 'domesticated' from the wild, and though they are beautiful when they bloom in the early spring, will eventually turn into something that is nearly as invasive as kudzu. I only said I wanted my pots back to put something else in - and will try to get replanted this coming week with things that won't climb in your window and twine around your neck while you sleep...

the other thing....

... on  my calendar for Thursday was to pick up another person who needed a ride to an appointment for treatment at the cancer center. He lived down in the south side of town, in a neighborhood I had never visited, so was completely unfamiliar with the area. I had looked up the address on MapQuest, and then didn't follow the directions provided. Started from another point, so decided to use my little GPS to try to get to the right address. It worked pretty well, and the man helped me get to his appointment in time.  My only complaint with GPS is you cannot turn it upside down like a paper/printed map to back-track and get back to where you started from.

Fortunately, I paid enough attention to landmarks that when I took him back home I was able to find my way out of the convoluted subdivision and get myself back to familiar territory. I think this is the third person I have done the driving for, in a association with the American Cancer Society. It's not difficult, but my biggest problem is never knowing in advance what my work schedule will be. When I get the emails requesting drivers, I often cannot commit, due to not knowing more than a week in advance when I will have to be ready to go to work. But it is something I can do that I feel makes a difference in someone's life - I have the time and ability to do the driving, and get them to where they need to be for treatment and back home again.

Something interesting I learned on this trip: people experienced with the outpatient programs at the Cancer Center call it' j-back'. I noticed when I was sitting in the waiting area with my book, seeing someone rolled out in a wheel chair, that the letters JBACC were stenciled on the back. Meaning the chair is property of the John B. Amos Cancer Center, other wise known by the acronym: j-back.

mildly amusing and entertaining....

... was Friday, when I got up early to drive to Decatur and spend the day with my daughter. In her temporary, part-time summer employment she really lucked up this week: off for Memorial Day, and off on alternate Fridays, so it was a three day work week. Sounds good to me! I'd put in so many hours earlier in the week (that for some obscure reason starts on Saturday) I had Thursday and Friday off.

Had a couple of things on my calendar for Thursday: a lunch to say farewell to the county agent who is leaving her job in Muscogee to go to one with much less stress and pressure in Russell County, AL. It will also mean she has a five minute commute, and will have much more time to be a mom to young family. She's been the guiding light and propelling force behind  a large cadre of Master Gardeners. People who have the knowledge and experience to take a number of projects on that beautify, enhance and support lots of community activities. All trained by the County Agent to whom we said 'don't go!' at a potluck lunch.

Got some forsythia dug before dark on Thursday, to put in a big trash bag and take to plant in the back yard in Decatur. That will hopefully grow and create a sort of screen across the fence where the chickens live. The plants are pretty tough/hardy and with occasional watering should take hold and do well, there in the semi-shaded space, provided the dogs don't unearth them. I had also offered to bring some coreopsis, a little yellow daisy-like bloomer that has taken over in my front bed. But I forgot to dig on Thursday evening, so I was out there in the dark, wearing my camping head-lamp, pulling up plants and stuffing them in a plastic shopping bag, looking seriously suspicious in the early morning. Skulking around in the dark, hunched over looking like a creeper in the flower bed....

I had planned/hoped to leave home by 5 a.m., to get into town before traffic got awful. And arrived right about 7, early enough for most of the gazillion commuters to be still brushing teeth, trying to get kids organized and not yet creating congestion on the interstate. We had a good day, spent the morning with a one and a three year old, hanging around while the mom went to work. Mostly unproductive, except for me getting the plants in the ground. And went to eat Mexican with cuzzin.

Got home about ten o'clock and went right to bed. To get up and go to work on Saturday morning.

it was a very productive...

Wednesday, May 27, 2015
morning, even before I left the house. I woke up too early and did some housecleaning. I hate that.  But when it is done, and I get finished with an extended round of congratulating myself and  being profoundly self-righteous due to doing something so distasteful, it is such a delight to sit and enjoy clean.

I swept and mopped all the hard floors: tile floor in the kitchen and the big room that is a combo. living/dining area. Sadly it has not been swept since the shedding canine came to visit, so it was well past time. I did not really intend to mop, but after doing the kitchen, I was on a roll, so decided I might as well get it all done. Then, much as I hate to admit getting the cart before the horse, I cleaned some windows. Which involved getting out the vacuum to clean the screens, that are on the inside of the glass, before I could start on the windows.

I'd done the outside a week or so ago, and knew the inside needed attention. So cleaned glass, and replaced clean (er) screens, then had to wipe the woodwork/molding. Which caused me to go around most of the rest of the house and wipe baseboards, window sills and chair rail molding that had not been cleaned in years. Pretty embarrassing confession.

Bu now there is much cleanliness to enjoy. I have several more windows that need glass cleaned on inside; hope to get done before the end of the week, and will be completely finished with that thankless, onerous task. The sort of thing no one notices or comments on when you do it, but everyone seems to observe when it does not get done, thinking: 'who lives here and cares so little?' or 'how tacky is that?'

this is something ....

Tuesday, May 26, 2015
...that has  not happened before. You will probably think: ho-hum, so what? But it is a novelty for me and after recent occurrances in my job, sort of surprising that there has not been an uproar, some sort of brouhaha about what's going on.

I went in really early (5 a.m.) on Saturday morning to help with prep. stuff for a busy day in the produce department. The big deal for nearly two weeks has been a BOGO/buy-one-get-one with fresh cut, sweet, juicy ripe red watermelon chunks. And there is such a demand, it takes several people to get it done from one day to the next - not really getting ahead, just staying caught up. When it's in season, there is not much better that locally grown south Georgia watermelons.

It was nearly five o'clock in the afternoon before I left the store, meaning that other than a thirty minute break to sit down and eat some lunch, I was on my feets for nearly twelve hours. And oddly enough, when you are busy and occupied, you don't realize how tired you are until it's over. So I did not feel weary until I started home, and nearly could not get out of the car to walk in the house to flop down.

I'd told the boss I would come in early on Saturday to try to get ahead on fresh salads, but never got around to doing it. So I said I would come in early on Sunday and get it done before the store opened. Meaning I was there again at 5 a.m. Doing what I intended to do the day before. Another looong day.

The really interesting part - that has never happened to me before: I had over half a week on the time clock even though I had only worked two days. Which means this will be a short work week for me. Short, as in getting it over sooner, but better pay-wise than the usual twenty or so hours that normally accrue for me as a part-time worker. And a decent paycheck will be nice after being disciplined and sent home to ponder my poor behavior the week before.

a little walking tour...for Memorial Day...

Monday, May 25, 2015
... and a surprising bit of information. I have a dear friend who is an Army veteran, in addition to my 'pen pal' friend who served in WWII with my dad. The friend, P., who lives here has been with me to walk around the nearby National Cemetery at Ft. Mitchell, AL. It is owned/operated by the Veteran's Administration, so anyone who has served in a branch of the military can be interred there, as well as spouses of veterans.

I asked her to go with me to walk around the road that meanders through the area, where there are hundreds and hundreds of small white rectangular grave markers. Representing hundreds of service men and women who have been protectors of America and our freedom. I like to go on a holiday weekend, where there are always small flags placed by each of those several thousand grave stones. It is pretty, peaceful, quiet, a reverent, respectful sort of place to be.

The cemetery at Ft. Mitchell was started when the one on the main post at Ft. Benning began to run out of room. And there is plenty of space, out in the woods, where more trees could be cleared as the need for more gravesites occurs. The drive is designed in a big looping sort-of circle, with about twenty sections of neatly mowed lawn, filled with those bright white little upright stones, neatly planted, standing in formation, meticulously spaced rows. With information placed nearby by for the ease of looking up the section, row and number of any one who has been interred there.

As we started out on our walk, were about a third of the way around the loop, some one in a SUV slowed to ask if we needed a ride. We said we didn't, but were just out walking the loop. He said you are not allowed to walk here. We said: 'Really?" He said he constantly runs people off: walkers, skateboarders, bicycle riders, people with dogs. We were astonished. So astounded we did not have the presence of mind to say: we have come to visit a friend.

He was very polite, as well as firm. He had a sticker on his fender that said 'Director'. And looked like a guy who was more than willing to enforce the rules. I can fully understand how people could be in the area and not be respectful of the cemetery. But we didn't even remotely look sketchy.

So all during the rest of our walk, and the drive back to GA, we practiced what we should have said. Things like we are here to visit someone. We are looking for a particular marker. But he's probably already looking us up on some website, to report us as suspicious characters, with the likelihood of being vandals, spray paint in hand. Practicing graffiti when we creep out of the woods to deface government property. Really?

talking to a friend...

Sunday, May 24, 2015
... a person who worked as a cashier for a number of years at my workplace, and recently retired. She was in the store yesterday, I stopped to speak to her for a few minutes. Oddly, I had just been thinking of her, telling myself that I should run by Taco Bell one day, and get a sack of eats to just go and knock on her door say' Let's do Lunch' in your back yard!

I've had lunch with her (at the Bell) a time or two since she quit working, and really enjoy her company. She was struggling with some health issues, having problems with standing on her feets for eight hours as a cashier, that caused her to decide the misery was not worth the pay. And has apparently been enjoying having all the time in the world to putter around her house and yard. Cleaning out closets, attic, planting things  - those things all of us would do if we had leisurely life day after day.

She also said that her adult children had come to visit on Mother's Day weekend. Not planned, just happened. Neither the son or the daughter knew/expected their sibling to show up - it just all fell into place by accident. And she was delighted. No grandchildren, no spouses, no in-laws. Just her favorite people. I told her: 'I know. I really know exactly how you feel.' I don't think anything in this life pleases me any more than getting together with my family, and nothing is more better than having a meal together: for us to all sit down around a table and enjoy each other's company. Eat and laugh...

My friend, L. said she found it to be so gratifying, she asked them if they would find time to do it intentionally in the future. To set aside a weekend to deliberately plan to be together. One coming up from FL, the other from the northeast corner of TN, just to spend time with each other. That sounds like my kind of joy too.

diggin' around...

Wednesday, May 20, 2015
...in the leaf mulch yesterday afternoon. Was a very therapeutic thing to do. I started on Sunday, and  more yesterday, between rain showers. Working in the 100% humidity, with my shovel and a bucket, making my way through the trees, digging up those smilax tubers. It was very satisfying - to pull back the layers of leaves, and dig down to get up those aggravating little bulbs. Some the size of the head of a corsage pin or smaller, some bigger than the palm of my hand. And some even bigger.

I know if I can get the small ones up, they won't grow into huge things that will send vines twining up into the tree tops, where they will bloom, make seeds and spread like kudzu. So I do try to get the little ones that only have a leaf or two as evidence of where they have germinated under the mulch of years of fallen leaves. But it is so much more satisfying to get down under one of those big ones that have been there for years, growing in secret, sending out thorny vines to catch the innocent passer-by.

I want to get rid of them: an endless task. I guess they are spread by birds as well as from the tree canopy when they go to seed. So I have been out under the trees for the past two days, digging and putting them in a bucket. I empty the bucket in the trash, and will eventually tie the bag up and put it out by the street to insure they won't be sneaking back in at my house. I often put tree trash, sticks, limbs in an area behind the house, filling in a slough. But these tenacious little tubers are going to be transported/relocated to get them far, far away and prevent regrowth.

Sadly, I don't always have 100% success with digging them up, so there will be some that will come back in the same spot, from the original mother tuber. I'm doing my best to see that they won't be returning to my yard, reaching out to snag my pants, or bare skin in the future. Every one that goes in the trash is one that won't be attacking me.

Callaway Gardens...

Tuesday, May 19, 2015
...was my goal when I left home this morning. I had a note on my calendar to attend a volunteer training session for learning about the Day Butterfly Center. I have been an occasional, sporadic volunteer worker at the Gardens in the past, assisting  (sort of) with several workshops like basket making, or how to design a landscape to attract pollinators. And helping a couple of times with the annual Spring Plant sale.

But I thought I would enjoy learning more about the workings of the Butterfly exhibit and possibly get motivated to go on a regular basis to assist with some of the work they do. I am sure the Day Center, like most every other area of the Gardens is struggling with staffing issues, and would welcome all the un-paid labor/extra hands that might show up offering a few hours of assistance. More work needing to be done than there are dollars or bodies to get things accomplished.

There were four other trainees who met in a classroom. And received a handbook, going over a booklet that was mostly about customer service. Covering the 'do's and dont's' of interacting with people who have paid admission to view the beauty of the woods, floral areas, native plants, insects, birds, assorted wildlife. A bit of history of the origins of the Butterfly Center, and Callaway family.

Then we went to visit the butterflies. The ones in the center are all tropical, being shipped from various places in south east Asia, Central America, where there are 'farms' that supply the chrysalis. I guess feeding and growing the butterflies that lay the eggs, closely watched until the right stage, and grabbed up to air freight to places that have been USDA approved to receive the hatchlings. The manager said that they have occasionally lost an entire shipment that would be held up or set aside or lost in customs, and the butterflies would hatch and die in the shipping container, with no way to get out to food or water.

I think I will try to start volunteering on a regular basis: pinning the chrysalis on boards where they mount them in a glass front box, so people can watch them emerge, and turn into wonderous wonders. We saw some today that were just coming out of the chrysalis, and drying out their wings so they could fly, get ready to be released into the enclosed tropical garden in the glass walled Center.
Would that be such a neat thing to do? Take them out of the box and prep those little inconspicuous cocoons - get them ready to turn into gloriously colored, light as a feather flutter-bys?

if you know...

me, you know of my willingness to admit to being hopelessly math impaired. I have this problem with all things numerical. My story, maybe not 100% accurate, but still my story. I got behind in the fifth grade one day when I was out sick, probably something like chicken pox, that was going through the class as a routine childhood illness being passed from body to body. On the day I was not in attendance, they took up multiplication. I started off behind and never got caught up. I still cannot multiply to this day. I'm ok with things up to the fives or sixes, mostly due to learning to count by fives, and six isn't all that complicated either. But after that: I'm lost until you get to ten. I can do a few of the nines as a result of remembering the numerals in the answer will add up to nine. Like 72 and 81.

So, you should be as impressed as I was when I got up this morning, early, to have a clear, fresh start.  Ready to tackle the chore of reconciling my checkbook register with the monthly bank statement. And lo-and-behold, it happened on the first attempt. There were a couple of things I had not listed, like a monthly debit and the funds that automatically transfer into a savings account. But after those odd ball items were inserted in the proper sequence, and I got out the calculator: Voila!

It was perfectly perfect.  I wish I had a video of me doing the happy dance, when I got up to put all my tools away. But even if I had some to make the photo of me delightedly hopping around, I would not know how to post it... So you will just have to imagine how amusing it was: me in my pajamas, dancing in a circle, pleased as punch to have all the numbers come out even on the first try.

Even more impressive as I admit that there have been times in the past when I would work and work and work at it, with great frustration, and no success. Then finally give up, deciding that the people at the bank/computer generated statement is surely better at this figgerin' than I am, so inserting the number the bank had decided would be my final balance after adding and subtracting. Throw up my hands, pencils, pen, calculator, register, white-out in an admission of defeat and say: "OK. I give up."

put me on your prayer list....

Sunday, May 17, 2015
... when you are brushing your teeth in the morning. I am going back to work after being off a week, and really having some anxiety issues about returning to the same job and location from whence I was sent home. There is a monumental excess of paranoia piling up over the prospect of having someone watching my every move.

I will be doing that same work that caused the problem last Sunday, so I am feeling really stressed about going back into that same situation, thinking they are looking for a reason to 'dismiss' me. Though I will admit to being somewhat amused by the irony of terminology. Do they think saying 'termination' and 'dismissal' sounds more politically correct, or less painful, than 'fired'? If it is  'PC' does that make it less traumatic and disturbing to the person who gets escorted out of the building?

If you would like, you could just put in a good word for my attitude. It needs help too. Although I keep telling myself that same line I have quoted to family frequently: "Life is too short to be miserable". And they are starting to give it back to me, reminding me that there is no reason for living in constant turmoil, with churning stomach, and continuous low-grade anxiety like a fever you can't shake. Always feeling like someone is peering over my shoulder, or so certain they can catch me in a misstep/mistake they will look at the video to see where I have failed in with compliance.

Vidalia onions...

... are first cousin to Pink Elephants, if you find any that might be a bargain. In that, you will buy them when they go on sale, even though you don't know what you would possibly do with a ten pound bag. In addition to admitting that possibly you don't really like eating onions under the best of circumstances. Especially raw.

I dislike them (onions in general) so much, that I have gotten into the habit of cooking them twice: once in the microwave, and again when I put them in the recipe where they would be an ingredient in casseroles or soups/stews. I will dice them and put them in a bowl, nuke for three  minutes, then dump them in with the squash, or browned meat for chili. Cooking a second time just to be absolutely certain they are completely done. I use them all the time, and readily admit they add flavor to many meals, but cannot make myself eat without being thoroughly cooked.

I have a bad rep. of adding vegetables to lots of things that don't actually have a particular item in the list of ingredients: especially carrots. Which at one time, would have been claimed as my 'favorite'. My bemused family continues to tell stories of how they would sit down to a meal and discover that I had sliced or diced or grated fresh carrots to sneak into the chili pot, or casserole dish. I can't explain it myself - as it is pretty obvious that the bright orange vegetable is swimming around in the bowl or on your plate as a helping of some unlikely dish that did not call for or warrant the inclusion of carrots. Not something that adapts well to surreptitious.  Even when they are well cooked, sufficiently tender, they do not cease to be eye-catching orange. Pretty difficult to disguise.

I bought a ten pound bag of Vidalia onions from a neighbor who was selling as a fund-raiser for a civic group. I can't say what I was really thinking: other than being supportive of their money making project. Don't even know what the funds they hoped to raise were supposed to do, what the project was in need of financial under-pinning. And, as I said, not really fond of onions, though I am mostly convinced the sweet mild flavor of the Vidalia puts it in a class by itself. They have a really high water content, as opposed to your average/much smaller yellow or white onion, and therefore a pretty short shelf-life. Which means you have to enjoy them as soon as you get them.

Bringing me to the problem of what to do with ten pounds of onions. I had a recipe from a friend for a casserole that included cheese and rice. So I made it, and decided it was not nearly as good as my taste buds remember it to be. So put half in the trash. Then proceeded to ponder what to do with the bag of onions sitting in the pantry.  When in doubt: Google it.

The baked (sort of) onions we just had for lunch were quite good. Better than the casserole, and 'way less time, effort, ingredients, trouble. Peel it. Cut off both ends, and hollow out a little divot in the leaf-y end, big enough to put in a smidgen of butter and some beef bouillon (or vegetable), granulated or cube. I put two in a glass pie plate and covered with plastic wrap, and put in microwave for nine minutes. Take out and baste with melted butter half way through cooking. You'll wish you had made biscuits to sop with, as the liquid in the dish is flavored with butter and bouillon.  You'll also probably think you should have peeled off a couple of layers of the onion besides just taking he brown skin off, as the outer layers are a bit tough, not particularly edible.

The recipes I looked at mostly wanted you to wrap the onions, individually in foil and put on the grill. Or bake in the oven in separate packets, but cooking in the microwave for 8 to ten minutes works just as well. I've got lots more onions, so if you want to stop by and get a couple to try, please do! I am still baffled as to why someone who does not even remotely care for raw onions would take complete leave of her senses and request a ten pound bag? Just like those huge under-utilized pink elephants, I guess. I noticed in the store they are $1.39 a pound, and mine were $1 a pound, so I really do have a great bargain, even if I don't know what to do with them.....

travelin' around - there and back again..(plus gardening party)

Saturday, May 16, 2015
...for those who might recall the tag line/catch phrase associated with the Atlanta newspaper that claimed to 'cover Dixie like the dew'. I have not quite done that, but have made some tracks in the past two days. Driving to Decatur, then SC and back again.

I spent the night on Thursday in Decatur, visiting with daughter, bunny, cats, dogs, chickens and a small fish. Was lead astray at a Mexican food restaurant where we had margaritas, then even more afield by watching a cheezy remake of a cheezy movie: Godzilla. It has a lot of amazing special effects, that does nothing to change the fact that the plot is so ridiculously crazie as to be absurd... though probably no worse that most of the other things out there we pay to see and then wonder 'what was I thinking?'

Got up early on Friday to drive up to SC for a visit with my pen pal. Mr. Homer is 92 years old, and seems to be in remarkable health for some who is so close to enjoying a century of life. Pretty spry, and really interesting to spend time with. Then I went south a bit, to visit with a cousin I grew up with, who is employed by a small independent college near-by. Spent the night, then got up to drive back home, hoping to arrive in time to go to a garden party.

Since I have never had an' invite' to a garden party before, it seemed like something that would be worth the effort. It was designed to be a gathering of adult Girl Scouts, people who are interested enough to devote time to being encouragers and supporters of scouting goals. I'd made cookies, as my commitment to helping make the event a success. And delivered the cookies before I left town on Thursday, to get them out of my life and assure they would make it to the party. I got back to town this morning, just in time to head over to the back yard of the hostess.

Where the attendees were eating goodies under shade trees in the cool, grassy back yard. The hostess has a neighbor who is the owner of a garden shop. The garden shop guy agreed to help the group plant some annuals in plastic containers to make colorful assorted arrangements to take home. With proceeds going to provide scholarships for young women in scouting  A good day to be out in the sunshine, enjoying the weather, for a good cause.  I took a pass on the container planting, as I have several large pots that need my attention here - though now I think: should have taken my pots to fill with the colorful, mixed annuals for summer smiles.

Not doing any planting at the event caused me to stop by Kmart looking for red geraniums. Which I did not find, but 'accidently' bought more asparagus plants that I need to get in the ground ASAP.  Plus some summer bloomers I will put in those neglected pots that have shabby pansies lingering in them. So I'm done with this, to go out and putter in the yard.

I have been wanting to do....

Thursday, May 14, 2015
...this for years, and it finally got done, even though I did not actually have anything to do with completing the project. Planting a proliferation of assorted wildflower seeds in a neglected space.  For brightening up lives, creating smiles of on the faces of anonymous passers-by.

I live near the intersection of two streets that have a high volume of traffic each day, especially during the school year. Busses, day care vans, carpools, plus commuters from hundreds of houses in the neighborhood coming and going at this chaotic place where one street dead-ends into another.

There is a small vacant lot on the one unoccupied corner of the three way intersection. Not really an eyesore as some empty spaces can become, but also not a plot of land put to good use.With a huge concrete utility pole and four guy wires to stabilize the pole. So not much use for anything construction-wise. Though there seem to be lots of people who use it for temporary parking, pulling over for phone conversations, or to wait for something/someone/unknown reasons. Possibly having lunch to throw out bags, cups, wrappers. As well as cigarette butts and beer cans/bottles.

I had thought I might purchase this half-a-lot from the owner and construct a little pocket garden, something small, but with fencing or some sort of barricade to keep people from driving over or parking on growing plants. I even went to the government center at one point to get information on the property owner. But never pursued the plan to ask him if he would sell me that strip of land for $1. It's so narrow, it's almost useless for any building purpose, but the length of the lot we live on, and I would be responsible for property taxes. Plus doing the planting and maintaining of the little proposed garden spot.

Yesterday my 'yard crew' did some tillering up on the corner, and planted some wildflower seeds. I hooked all my garden hoses together to have enough length to drag up and water well. They added some random fertilizer I found (rose food - but much better than nothing on that dry, sandy/clay hard-packed, un-nutritious soil) and added assorted seeds. I had a small can of 'wild flower mix', as well as numerous free packets of assorted flowers: forget me not, marigolds, phillipine lily, radio-active cosmos that grew ten feet tall, butterfly weed, misc. unnamed and unknown. Some were really old, and I know that germination rate will be low for ancient seeds, but even if ten percent will take root and bloom, I will consider that 100% success.

I mixed them all together and turned them loose: there they went. I hope they threw them up in the air like confetti. And I would be amused to see them sprouting in someone's hair like something in a cartoon.  I walked up there and watered again late in the afternoon, and will do it this morning. Hope to have a good crop and lots of surprises.

cookin' at home: peanut butter cookies, chess squares, banana bread...

Wednesday, May 13, 2015
...all tasty things to eat. It started with someone bringing in some very ripe bananas, and saying: 'hmmm, looking like it might be time to make banana bread'. Other than milkshakes, I don't know of anything else you can do with over-ripe bananas except to leave them out for the butterflies at Callaway Gardens Day Center where the tropical insects love to land and feed of nasty looking fruit. I got up this morning with the intention of making a couple of loaves - then discovered the recipe calls for two eggs and I only had one, then discovered the one in the fridge was cracked, so I actually had none. 

Needing a couple of other things at the grocery I went for eggs. Got the banana bread stirred up and in the oven, and started on Chess Bars. I had agreed to make a pan of these yummy dessert-y things for  garden party on Saturday. I continue to waffle about going, but promised to make the goodies, so I got that done after the banana bread came out of the oven. The stirred up a batch of peanut butter cookies. Actually a double batch, making enough to share around and have some to take to the party.

The Party on Saturday is a gathering that will be a benefit for Girl Scouts. Adult alumni are invited to come and make/fill a planter, with assistance from a local garden shop. The shop will provide all the makings: container, soil, seasonal bloomers, advice and donate the cost, to provide scholarships for scouts. I'm not itching to have another planter needing attention in my life, but will probably go just to be supportive of their goals. And take my goodies, now that I have baked and sampled, to keep me from eating all this stuff by myself!

formerly known as...

Monday, May 11, 2015
...always makes me think about when the musical guy  'Prince' wanted to change his name, or was it gender? Desiring to be less specific and deciding the world should refer to him as an unpronounceable symbol. So everything that was written about the guy would start off with 'the musician formerly known as Prince...' As he continued to receive media attention and do news worthy things, but no one really knew what to call him or how to refer to himself.

This sort of applies to me, after being sent home from work mid-way through the day on Sunday. So now I am possibly 'formerly known as a meals clerk. I think I am still employed, but know that the disciplinary process includes being suspended from work for a week. So I'm pondering all the things I might do while being temporarily unemployed. It's not been all bad, being punished for non-compliance with safety regulations.

Got my countertop cleaned off today, sorting through lots of papers and mail that had stacked up awaiting my attention. Put lots of notes and payments in the mailbox. And in the process, going through lots of things that were important months ago, found many were not so much. Now of much less value, so relegated to the recycle bin to clear off  space I had not actually seen in weeks. Did some planting, putting some seed that I harvested last fall, in a tray to try to sprout and start some milkweed plants (monarch butterfly host plant). Some puttering in the yard, watering those things I planted when I was at loose ends (sent home) yesterday. Fairly productive overall.

thankfulness...

Sunday, May 10, 2015
...today for daughters, who without, I would not be a mom. So, though today is the day Hallmark Cards and floral shops, plant vendors and restaurants want you to believe you should be doing something thoughtful for you mom ,I didn't do not of that.  I'm  just thankful to be one.  I'm thankful they got themselves grown and gone, and seem to be handling life well.

I often hear people share stories about adult children who are in some sort of crisis. Young adult people who need propping up for any number of legitimate reasons. Finding themselves suddenly unemployed, without a safety net and having to move back in with parents who had in the interim turned their space into a home office or exercise room. Finding themselves with some chronic health problem that seems insurmountable and needing the support and love, care and compassion that only parents can provide. Finding themselves in a situation where they are drug or alcohol dependent and not able to manage their lives without help. Finding themselves doing something illegal, and stuck in a place no parent would ever expect or wish for an adult child to be. Just generally finding themselves to be in a situation of dependence, when all parties involved thought they were becoming self-sufficient.

Mine are none of these, and I am thankful. It is heart wrenching to hear friends and total strangers who need to talk about horrendous circumstances. And I can readily commiserate with those people as they seem to willing to open their hearts and souls to share disturbing stories with anyone who will listen and offer sympathy. But at the end of the day, those heart wrenching stories make me even more aware of what a blessing it is to have successful, healthy, contented adult children who are not burdened with medical problems, addictions, incarceration, financial woes.

Well, then... thanks for making me a mom.

got sent home ....

...from work for a safety infraction. I think I will be out for a week, so if you want to come and see me, visit, commiserate, go out for lunch, I will have a lot of time on my hands in the next few days.
I just got a reprimand about the same thing a couple of weeks ago, so I expect I am in deep trouble.

The company has Zero Tolerance for some safety infractions that there is no getting around. Partly  due to OSHA guidelines and also not wanting people to get hurt that would cause them to be out of work as well as making expensive claims on workmans' compensation due to injuries. So I can understand the need for total compliance. But on the other hand: every one makes an occasional mistake.

cookin' at work: cinco de mayo...

Thursday, May 7, 2015
...it has turned into a big selling event. Not on the scale of Valentine's or Mother's day, but a day for the retail world to advertise, promote, encourage buying. And calling in the friends and neighbors for a party.

We were making burritos at the cooking demo. booth. Remarkably easy to assemble. By the end of the day, when I prepared and served the recipe four times, I thought I was fully capable and ready to go audition for job at Moe's. I probably don't have quite the speed those guys do, but pretty sure with some more practice I could improve to match the moe's-pros.

The meat is something that is prepared, fully cooked ready to heat and serve from the meat department. But if you don't want to use beef pot roast, you could get a chicken from the deli and shred enough of that to use in for the filling. Or buy one of those little tubs of chicken that is like the bowls of ready to heat and eat bar-be-que in the meat cooler. The recipe says you get six servings, but when I was filling the flour tortillas, I got to number six and still had some left, so actually made eight. Shred the meat, mix in rice, corn, salsa, after you put a spoonful of spinach dip down the center of the tortilla. Sprinkle on some grated cheese before you start rolling it all together. Wrap in foil, to heat on the grill or in the oven.

The side dish on the recipe card is nothing special, so I won't even tell you about it. Actually sort of strange, taste-wise. Citrus with cubed cantaloupe, diced avocado and a sprinkling of fresh mint.

cinco de mayo... cha, cha, cha...

...yes, I know it's toooo late to be celebrating. So that isn't happening here on a Thursday afternoon, two days post-fifth. But it was such a pleasant day, with beautiful weather, and enjoyable company, I wanted to tell about our little field trip.

The daughter who is out for a week of summer vacation let me invite myself to come up and spend the day on Tuesday. I wish we could have really celebrated, doing something appropriate at an exotic locale in honor of Mexican independence - like help them drink up all that Corona and Tequila. But since I was driving to and from the city on that day, that sort of amusement was out of the realm of possibility.

We did plant some things in her yard: daisies I had put in pots several weeks ago, and some coreopsis I pulled up the night before and stuffed in a plastic shopping bag. Plus several pots jammed full of bulb plants that were rescued from certain death. Then we went on our little field trip: to the Decatur campus of Perimeter College.

Where we saw a gazillion ferns. That make me smile, when I see the fronds slowly unfurling, with fiddleheads meticulously opening to turn into amazing leaves. I had read something about this garden spot, and understood a retired science professor from the college continues to work diligently to develop and add to the space. He has travelled extensively, and brought ferns back from all over the planet and propagated with help from botany student volunteers.  There is also a large area  planted exclusively in native blooming plants. Tidy rock bordered beds, neatly mulched and organized.  Many of which looked very familiar, because they are commonly found in medians, right-of-way plantings and ditches all over the south. Where most people would probably classify them as weeds. But here, in this well tended, watered, space with signs to identify each one, they are 'native' plants.

it was surprising...

Monday, May 4, 2015
... to see about fifteen things that are on my list of volunteer activities, thus far. When I started writing down each of the different organizations that have benefited from time donations over the years. Some of them I am no longer actively involved in, and some I do on a regular basis. Everything from helping four year olds improve their literacy skills to working in the secret garden at a local hospice-respite house.

The list making was due to reading a notice a couple of weeks ago in a company publication. Reporting about a store manager I worked under some years ago, receiving an award for  community service. I wrote about how devoting time to volunteerism means taking that time away from family. Everything is ultimately a choice about how we decide to spend minutes hours and days. This guy was obviously prepared to devote/donate a big chunk of his life to activities outside of his family.  I have to wonder if the family, wife and kids, were consulted about his decision to spend time like this. It's not likely that there was any democracy in action. And though I am all for volunteerism, and deliberately, willing give my time in service, have to think: there are always consequences - when you take time to do 'x', it is likely that 'y' will suffer as a result due to some degree of neglect. How do you strike a reasonable balance?

I was a bit surprised to see how extensive my list is. Adding an occasional organization as I think about something else I have invested myself in over the years. And now wondering where this willingness to give away bits and pieces came from? I don't recall my parents being especially devoted to community welfare. I know my dad was involved in some service clubs that men will often join, and do good for the betterment of others. But other than attending/involvement in church activities almost every time the doors were opened (pretty much the only thing to do in a small town!), I don't have much memory of parents participating in activities aimed at civic well-being. 

I got plenty of church-ing as a kid, between time spent with the Baptists and going with cousins to be indoctrinated in Methodism, with an occasional dose of Presbyterianism from grandmother Rosa. But I cannot recall, while I was old enough to be aware, and still living at home, my parents being active in clubs or service based activities that were not church related. So I have to wonder: why am I? I guess just a way to show thankfulness? Appreciation for all the blessings of daily life? Just wondering...how one ends up giving away time, donating of oneself to fund the greater good...?

on the road again...

Saturday, May 2, 2015
...to TN. I got up (too) early on Thursday morning, and left the house about 5:00, had to stop for gas before I could even get started on my trip. Drove to Chattanooga. With a bucket full of flowers to do some more corsages for the final of the three GSUSA awards events.

This one, on Sunday afternoon, will  honor more girls who have completed their Scouting goals for the year. Some of the younger ones will receive Bronze Award, given on a troop level, completed by the group. The older ones will have achieved their goal of completed self-sustaining community service projects to receive their Silver Awards. And the juniors and seniors in high school will be receiving Gold Awards, the pinnacle of achievement in Girl Scouting.

I'm done with my part. Made the thirty five carnation corsages this morning, before we ran around town. Went to the bakery to pick up cakes for the celebration on Sunday, and took the cakes and corsages to the scout office for overnight. Got the yellow rose corsages finished this afternoon, and put together a couple of cut arrangements to use for table decorations when they meet on Sunday. Colors are yellow, white and blue, so naturally most of the flowers are yellow and white. Really pretty sweetheart-sized yellow roses, white daisies and yellow carnations. in a big pretty clear glass vase. Plus another vase in a cobalt blue color, with more pixie carnations, white daisies and a few yellow roses.

I will leave to head back to Columbus before the event starts, so won't get to see the celebrating, but I know all those girls and proud parents will enjoy the party. Sadly, I will also miss the cake sampling. But have accomplished my goal of  successfully completing a small part in making the Awards event a great success. I predict, that for a lot of these girls, it will be the first time for wearing a pin-on flower made especially for them. Hopefully they will enjoy the wearing of flowers as much as the receiving of recognition for all the planning, organizing, and effort they have put into accomplishing their goals.

The staff members of the Scout council do a lot to pull this event off, much effort made behind-the-scenes to provide a really memorable experience for the young people who are being recognized for their endeavors. Numerous letters of congratulations, to be presented to the girls who finish their Gold Awards, and a really nice gift to take as a memento of this special day. An opportunity to talk about their accomplishments and how their efforts will have a lasting impact on their community.

Pretty impressive day, with lots of relatives, friends and family invited  to bear witness, pop a few buttons with pride, and share in the culmination of all the effort  the young women have put into completing their projects. It truly takes a village to continually motivate and inspire, guide and goad this teenagers into accomplishing their goals. So I know parents, grands, extended families will all be in attendance to applaud  these young women, who are incrementally becoming adults, as they continue todown the path towards success and beoming leaders in their communities.