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Archive for June, 2007

My daughter, Cindra (formerly chikkentales.wordpress), shut down her two blogs. Without any warning. And this is the girl that got me into this!

When my sister, Charlene,  got Cindra into blogging, I wondered how Cindra would have time for it. She said, “Oh, Mom, it doesn’t take long. I’m on the computer all day for work, and I just do it for a few minutes here and there”. Yeah. Sure. Time takes time – as T always likes to say. (and it drives me crazy when he does!)

Cindra and Tom have  a 15 year old daughter, 12 year old son, are adopting their 3 year old foster child, have two goats, one dog, and one cat, and run a home business. Tom teaches at the college, as well, and Cindra does the books for their business. AND – she thought she had time to blog. No, wait. Not only did she think she had time to blog — she also began emailing and talking on the phone to some of her blogger buddies! MORE time invested.

When Nessa got ahold of me to see why Cindra had disappeared from cyberspace, I called my Babydoll to see what was up. She said she just couldn’t do it anymore – that it was too addictive. She’d tried stopping, then scaling back, then only doing it with a few people – and she would keep getting sucked further and further into it. She said she’s taking her life back! (We tend to be an all or nothing family, anyway, I think.)

I have stopped blogging twice. There is no getting around the fact that it takes A LOT of time. And I’d go through all these head trips – asking myself what the hell I was doing talking to strangers? and what did I care what someone I didn’t know was doing? and didn’t I have anything better to do? And I’d stop. And then I’d start wondering. What were you people up to? What was going on in your lives? Did you resolve that problem you were having last time I read you? And pretty soon – here I was again. Talking to strangers. Caring about what they were doing. Commenting here and there with my pointless drivel.

But, you know, it is fun. And yes, it takes time. Time I could spend reading. (I have plenty of time to read). Time I could spend cleaning. (Please!) Time I could spend on the phone. (Wait, I do alot of that anyway!) Seriously, it’s all about priorities, and where you want to spend your time. I’m pretty sure though, that I wouldn’t be doing this if I had to take care of a business, a hubby, and three kids! I just have T and Miss Kitty, and I don’t work. (Well, except in the garden.)

And you know what else? It ISN’T just reading about what you are doing – I’m being entertained in so many ways by your blogs. You all have a different style; some use humor, some use themes, some give some edification, some pass on important news articles, some are political, some are wannabe curmudgeons (my favorites). Besides the content style – I’m exposed to many different writing styles. That is all entertaining to me.

I don’t think that I’ve quite figured out what I’m doing here in the blogsphere. When we went South for the winter there was some (sort-of-anyway) interesting things to write about. Now I’m home, and I’m here to tell you, I’m basically a boring woman. I stay close to home and do my own thing. When I write in here, a part of me is sharing, a part of me is trying to be half-way entertaining, and a part of me doesn’t know what the hell I’m doing or why!

I’ll run out of garden pictures before long, and I’m not much of a story teller – so I’ll have to figure out what I’m doing. Sometimes I think that I want to use this for a diary. Instead of worrying about coming up with something to write – I could just write one or two paragraphs every day, about what I did that day. Then I’d have a record of everything that goes on – I could look back at the garden, doctor’s appointments, etc. etc. etc. OH, MY GOD! That sounds as boring as can be. Oh well, I’ll figure it out as I go along.

Meanwhile, goodbye for now, Chikken. I’ll miss your writing style a lot! (She’s good!) (And I’m NOT saying that because I’m prejudiced!)

    P.S.  The left border is pictures of little treasures growing out of the granite bank which is beside the shop. 

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I’ve been cutting back plants in the garden this week. It seems like our bloom season just started, yet for many things in my garden, it’s ending. The iris have all wilted and I’ve cut them down so that I can see other flowers coming up behind them. Img2463 I won’t see them again until next spring. Along with the daffodils, hyacinths, and tulips that were cut down a while ago.

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The  spiderwort was getting leggy and had nearly finished blooming, so I cut it to the ground. It will grow back and bloom again this summer.

Img2805 The painted daisies were laying on the lawn. Way too long of stem, and blooms were faded. I cut it back, too.

Img3095 This geranium was almost twice as large, and laying spread out all over. I cut it nearly to the ground, too, as it’ll bloom one more time. The lupines will also put up another small bloom. I’ll leave one or two to go to seed – they are biannuals.

My beautiful foxglove’s flowers faded, and dried. Img3146 It sometimes, too, will send up another flower shoot if cut down.

Ruminating about the flowers I was cutting off – and the summer bloomers that aren’t in bloom yet – was just the culmination of events and thoughts I have been having for the last couple weeks. Thoughts and events having to do with the seasons of life, and of aging.

Normally, I don’t think much about my age. Like Popeye – I am what I am. But I was using the gas mower that T fixed, and when I went to bed that night, I did it with aches and pains. Again. This has been happening more and more frequently.  I hadn’t used that mower in 10 years, and I can tell you, 10 years ago it was much easier to pull around and maneuver. It was such a shock to realize that I am weaker and have less stamina than I  used to have. And. and. and.

First…we had an awful scare when T’s nuclear stress test, taken for his physical, showed ‘mild to moderate oxygen deprivation’ to his heart. A week and a half ago he got to spend the night in the hospital, and go through an angiogram – just to be told his arteries are CLEAR – and that they got a ‘false’ positive on their test!

And then….a very good friend of ours was diagnosed with esophageal cancer and told it was inoperable. He’s too young. Too good. Too physical. He can’t be going to die.

And then….Rain posted a blog with the statement “you can’t run like a racehorse forever”. That made me think more about it.

And then….I was talking to my sister, Caryl, (who is 13 months younger than I) and the light bulb came on. I said, “Oh, my God! We can’t even say we are middle-aged any longer! I don’t think we are going to live to be over 100! WHERE did it go?”

And then….I was thinking about when my mom was diagnosed with cancer and her parents moved in to help care for her and us five kids. I thought Gram was old then. She wore housedresses and aprons. She was quiet and dignafied. The lightbulb came on again. I had to call Caryl and ask, “Do you realize that when Gram and Grandpa moved in and we thought Gram was old……..that she wasn’t as old as we are now?!?!?!?

I don’t ‘feel’ as old as my Gram was. I definitely don’t wear housedresses or aprons. I still make snow angels, roll down grassy hills, and am generally as silly as I’ve always been. Do MY grandchildren think I’m “old”?

None of this is sitting very well with me right now. Sure, I know there is nothing I can do about it. And, that faced with the alternative, getting older is a really good deal. I know about everything having a season. I know all that. But I think I just learned something else. Something else I now know. That I’m not going to get out of this alive. And I don’t know how I feel about that. Even though I know I am going to heaven.

I do know that I have been feeling like I want to write letters to my kids,  before my season ends. Letters to apologize if I’ve caused them hurt in their lives. To tell them I’m sorry for the mistakes I made. To ask if they understand that I was always trying as hard and as best as I knew how. To let them know that I wish I had been a better mother – and would be – if I could do it over again.

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This one’s for T.

When I’m sitting at the computer ‘blogging’, T always asks if I’m blogging about the Little Red Express. Well, here you go, T. Now I’m blogging about the LRT.

Just as reading, and the gardens and flowers, are my passion – things with engines in them are T’s passion. And he is all about Mopar. This last year, it’s the Little Red Express Truck that has been making his heart beat faster.

The LRT is a Dodge pickup, and Dodge only built them for two years. They made 2, 188 of them in 1978, and due to the popularity, (with small modifications) they built 5,118 of them in 1979. The LRT was known as “The Last American Hotrod”, as it was the fastest thing on the road at that time. Faster than Corvettes, Trans-Ams, or Spyders. The LRTs were not legal in several states – due to how noisy they were.  The emissions regulations had put an end to the ‘muscle car’ era – but the LRT could still be ‘souped’ up and ‘tricked’ out – because trucks were not subject to the emission regulations yet.

Then the gas crunch hit, and the gas guzzling LRT wasn’t popular any longer. Dodge abandoned their plans for a 1980 model and never made the Little Red Express Truck again. I don’t know if T’s ever done any research to find out how many of them are still on the road.

 T’s had his LRT for years, but hasn’t driven it for a long time. It sat outside and got a little worse for the weather. Last year, he decided he wanted to start restoring it, and he wanted to put a Hemi engine in it.

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Here it is with the 5.7L Hemi Crate Engine in it – (doesn’t do much for me, but seems to make the guys pant). 

T did a lot of work on the truck, and then when we went South last winter, he put it in the shop where ‘garage’ guys work on it, as well. These are ‘gear head’ type guys, and friends of ours, and they all have fun at this. They surprised T by entering him in the ‘Work in progress’ class of the Mopar Car Show this weekend. They trucked the Little Red Express to the show on a trailer. Img3243

They had another surprise for him there – they had spent a couple hours the night before – getting everything hooked up so the engine would run. T got to ‘hear’ his Hemi. He was pretty excited. They all kept asking me, “Isn’t that cool?” (What can I tell you? Sounded like an engine running to me.)

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Here’s T and me – at the car show. With that big smile on my face, I look pretty happy to be there, don’t I? (Not so much). T tries to talk ‘car stuff’ to me all the time and I am just so not into it. I tried to think of cars I’ve been attracted to in my lifetime, and I can count them on one hand. And have fingers left over. T would love for us to be able to share his passion for vehicles – but it just ain’t happenin’. If a car will get me from point A to point B, I’ve never much cared what color it was or how it sounded. Let alone, what type it was. (I’ll confess – the highlights of my day were when I went to pick up lunch for the guys, and when I met my sister at the casino for awhile!)

I do try to support T in his hobby,  and I’ll go to the car shows or races – once in awhile- but not all the time. I tell him it’s about as interesting for me – as it would be for him if I hauled him to an all day quilting show. But I was seriously happy and excited for him – he won 2nd place at the show!

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Our front yard is fairly small, as is my garden, and my ‘secret’ garden. All three areas are very managable sizes – I’m playing out there – not working.  That is the way I like it.

I’m all about digging in the dirt. I like everything to do with the plants, fruits, veggies. I even like to weed! Weeding and hand watering are therapeutic. But….I do NOT like to use a weedwhacker!

T and I have this ongoing ‘discussion’ on how I manage the front yard. I keep what I call a “kill-strip” around everything that would otherwise need weedwhacked. T thinks it looks like hell. I’m not so fond of it myself, but it beats the heck out of wasting an hour of my time, every 4 to 6 days, to weedwhack around everything that the mower can’t reach. (And don’t EVEN get me started on that damned plastic cutting string that is SUPPOSED to come out of the weedwhacker every time you whack it on the ground. Or the fact that the damned plastic cutting string breaks INSIDE the weedwhacker every whipstitch!) 

T tells me he’d do the weedwhacking. I’m sure he would. But it would be on his schedule – not mine. Do you think I’m waiting around with a fresh mown lawn – and looking at tall green blades of grass around the edges of everything, while I wait for him to fit it into his agenda? NOT. Here’s different views of the front yard that show where my “kill strips” are. Doesn’t look too bad.

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While I was out there yesterday, weeding around the pond, I almost wet my pants instead of my plants – when this little fellow jumped up on the rocks. I call them all frogs, but T says that it is probably a toad. Img3139

Img3144 Whatever it is – it’s not too attractive. He can’t help that, though. And  he’s still here today – guess he likes the pond, too. Even if there is a “kill strip” around the edge. 

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Normally, I like to mow. After today? Not so much. I had carpal tunnel surgery on both wrists several years ago. My wrists were slow to heal, and I didn’t have much strength in them for some time. So we bought my cute little 13 inch, electric mower to make it easier for me to mow – and I love it. (NOTE: see all those $%&#* things on the ground?) 

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T calls this my ‘tonka toy’ – but this is from a man who uses BIG equipment to mow up here – a riding John Deere mower and the John Deere tractor – which pulls the bushhog and the grooming mower. (Of course, he’s mowing ‘acres’ and I’m only mowing three lawns.)  

Well, it’s that time of year – the whirly-gigs are flying off this tree like crazy.  Img2921 The culprit? Our beautiful Silver Maple.

I got to mow the lawns TWICE today. Once to cut the grass (to the accompaniment of chipping and chopping of whirly-gigs), and then a second mowing to try to pick the damned things up!

I was stomping and cussing whirly-gigs, and obviously not paying attention to what I was doing – because after successfully using this electric mower for several years – today I mowed over the extension cord! Img2918

There are still 1,452,769 whirly-gigs left on our damned beautiful silver maple. And this is after I chopped up 2,145,935 of them! Img2934

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Miss Kitty is a priss. She’s always been prissy. She’s picky and finicky. She hollers if you can see ANY portion of the bottom of her dish – it MUST be completely full in order for her to dine properly. And she MUST have her throne for her beauty sleep.
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Why then, every morning, does she go outside and get a drink of the water –  full of fish-poopie?! Img2844

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I got rhubarb from the neighbor’s (they were more than happy to get rid of it!) and made strawberry rhubarb jam. I love the color and feel of the rhubarb.
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And I have six bags to freeze for ‘next time’ – two cups each. Img3035
Img3037 I’m happy to report that I DID NOT boil it over onto my new stove top!

But here’s a little tip – something to remember BEFORE you start making your jam. Make sure you have an adequate supply of jars/containers for your jam. I forgot that I threw out everything when I did my ‘forced’ house cleaning – I was scrambling to find things to put jam in!

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I made it all by myself!

Woo hoo! My first garden ‘bounty’.

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                                          It’s GOOSEBERRY JAM!

We planted a gooseberry bush three years ago, in honor of T’s dad, who loved them. The last two years I’ve only gotten enough fruit to make one pie each year. I would use the fruit after it turned purply-red and was soft.

Right now, the bush has green berries all over it – and lots of stickers – so I decided this morning that I’d ‘espalier’ it so that it won’t take up so much room, and I won’t get stuck. When I cut the branches off that I can’t ‘train’, they had green berries on them. I knew that you could cook with either the green berries or the ripe ones, so I came in and googled recipes. (How quick is that? Made me think of other recipes I’ve ‘pulled up’, and of how my mother would have had to call HER mother for a recipe, or some other woman. We’re spoiled. I digress.)

Anyway, besides learning that only in the US do we use the berries while they are green, I also learned they have a natural ‘pectin’ and for one of the jam recipes, you wanted to use the greenest, hardest berries. Boy, did my berries fit that description!

I better give you a close up here…I’m just so proud of this!  And I LOVE the sweet/tart taste. It’s my new favorite – right after strawberry/rhubarb! Img2950

Now, on an aside, I was VERY careful when I was boiling my sugar. I got a new stove last month, and although I love the look of it – I would NEVER have another one.  There is a special cleaner you have to use on it or the top streaks. It’s a high maintenance stove.  A neighbor has one like it, and told me that after boiling candy over, there are bubbles all over the surface of her stove, which won’t come out.  I got out the manual and read it – and sure enough – you must be very careful about boiling anything over that has a high sugar content. Damn. I am a neat freak – but I have been known to boil jelly over! It looks nice, though, doesn’t it?!
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