Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Mike Rogers on Healthcare Bill

This first Youtube clip is interesting. It's Mike Rogers, (R-Michigan), on the new healthcare bill. Hooray for Mr. Rogers, he sees the truth.

The second one is just funny. It illustrates the difficulty one encounters when trying to make sense of nonsense, or trying to describe the indescribable. It's a bit like unscrambling eggs. Watch it once, maybe several times (it's very short), and then try to tell someone else what he said. Good luck! By the way, while you're in Youtube, check out some of the links on Mr. Waxman. He's actually pretty articulate. It's just on this preposterous bill that he loses it. I think that's understandable.

One more thing - we are never, EVER, going to get a "real" healthcare plan out of Congress until and unless they are made - forced, if necessary - to place themselves and their families in the hands of whatever solution they concoct. Right now, in the "let them eat cake", protected circumstances in which they dwell, they have nothing to gain by putting forth much energy to craft something other people can live with (literally). Nothing but their hope of reelection next time, but I'm not sure that has dawned on many of them. And even if they're booted out, who cares? They have a generous pension, for life.

Friends, I will be the first to agree that we need healthcare reform. This bill just simply isn't it. It needs to be scrapped, the laws changed so that Congress will have to personally live with whatever they craft
, and then they can be given the charge to go out and come up with a plan for the nation as a whole. You can bet they'd come up with spun gold.

Of course, we all know that changing the laws to bring Congress under whatever national healthcare plan we have is not going to happen. To do so, Congress would have to propose the bill, and pass it themselves. Dream on, for therein lies the rub. Right now, Congress is like a six-year-old who is allowed to set his own bedtime, limit his own candy consumption, and stroll through any toy store, taking things off the shelves and never having to pay. Do you think he's going to voluntarily surrender that freedom and place himself under parental control? Ha!

I'm beginning to hold out some real hope that this bill will fail. However, the pork vendors are still at work, so we can't be too sure, not yet. Maybe with the passing of the Bull of the Woods, the climate may change a little bit on Capitol Hill, but I doubt it.We can only hope that there are enough men (and women) who think like Mike Rogers, to keep this travesty from passing.

Saturday, July 11, 2009


This was sent to me by a friend. Thanks, Kathy. Check it out:

This is absolutely the silliest thing I've seen yet. I no longer wear the things, since I no longer have anything to put in them, but back in the day, at a hefty 36C, I found them more annoying and confining than anything. I never liked them, and would go without when possible, such as when wearing a sweatshirt.

Just to illustrate how brain-washed we women are, I spent several years, a lot of money and effort and endured a lot of frustration after my surgeries, trying to fake a "chest". First it was just one, in which case I had no choice, obviously. One can't run around one-sided, though I did, at least at home. That was a real bother, over a period of more than twenty years. The fakes never matched up with the real one, and they were heavy, hot and expensive, as much as $300 each. Also, they required constant readjusting. Miserable.

Then several years ago, when the remaining one was removed, I thought I'd find it easier to match up since both were fake, and could go smaller and lighter, with little bags of fluff instead of the heavy silicone things. etc. Well, it didn't work too well. The surgeries weren't identical, so what works on one side doesn't work on the other. "Small and light" is a pipe dream, too. I quickly found that weight helps a lot in keeping things in place, while "light" tends to migrate to astonishing locations. However, weight soon digs the straps into one's shoulders and becomes very uncomfortable. Also, if a heavy fake did manage to escape its holder, it would drop to the floor with a thud. That wouldn't be cool.

A regular bra refuses to stay in place, and is constantly riding up. You must remember, there is no longer anything there to hold it in place. (Those men in the "man bras" are going to have the same problem.) Oh, the specialty shops offer all sorts of contraptions - I call them industrial strength bras. They're equipped with all manner of straps and pulleys, and have snaps, hooks, velcro and laces. There are sewn-in pockets to keep the heavyweights from falling out. For the problem of "riding up", they have a three-inch wide band with a rubberized layer next to your skin, and the whole thing is fitted so tightly that breathing becomes your highest priority and you forget all about the weight of the straps on your shoulders. Naturally, that rubberized part quickly becomes hot and irritating, and blisters are a distinct possibility.

These things wear on one's patience at times, and once in a while, I confess I think "why me?" I don't tarry long at that place, though. Cancer happens, and for some, the outcome is not good. When it happened to me, I was one of the blessed ones. Even though the first one was in a fairly advanced stage, through the hands of a good surgeon, the skill of a good oncologist during a year of treatment, and most of all, the blessings of a loving God in response to the prayers of a whole lot of family and friends, I am now thirty years down the road from that original cancer, with no recurrence. The second one was an incidental, a new occurrence caught in a microscopic stage after an elective surgery done to try to simplify the prosthetic situation. We didn't even know it was there until after the surgery, and Pathology found it. No treatment was needed. Again, God was good.
That forces me to ask again, from a different perspective, "why me?"

After that second surgery, I struggled for a few months with this bra and that one, this prosthesis and that, even tried birdseed in a nylon stocking tied to make a small bag (suggested by a friend who knows a female impersonator and that's what he uses!) My birdseed promptly got ants in it, so that didn't work too well.

Believe me, I've tried everything. So, one day as I was pinning, and nipping and tucking, adjusting and sweating, it hit me. Why on earth am I putting myself through this??
I've done nothing wrong, committed no crime or sin, I simply got breast cancer. No fault of mine, I was a random victim. It happens. I am not required to punish myself because of it. I pulled off whatever annoying thing I was working with at the time, stuck it in a drawer, and there it remains, with all the other relics of my attempts to look like I once did. (I threw the birdseed out to the birds, ants and all.)

The best option I've seen so far was discovered by a friend with a similar problem. She just wears a little cotton camisole, pins her little fluffs to it in the appropriate places, and pins the camisole to her panties so it won't shift around or ride up. It works for her. I hate it. First of all, she's thin and I'm not, and I think that makes a difference in how the whole plan works. Also, she's always cold, and I'm always too warm, and that camisole under whatever else I'm wearing doesn't help. Still, as I said, it's the best option so far, and one of these days, maybe if I lose a little weight and cool off some, I might employ it. Or I might not.

For now, I'll continue to do as I've done for the past six years or so. Go without. So sue me. I have no gripe, no complaint, no whine. I have only gratitude that I've been given these last thirty years, and with God's approval perhaps a few more. Without those years, I probably would have seen only two of my ten grandchildren, and perhaps only one, if the disease had moved rapidly. If I look a little funny, I really don't care. Well, that's not entirely true. I do care, a little bit, but not enough to make me put up with the discomfort and inconvenience of trying to simulate what is no longer there. Okay, that's not completely true, either. I do have this new bra, which shows a bit of promise, but I don't care enough to make trying it out a priority. I've had it for two weeks and haven't worn it yet.

Now, to speak to the original point of this whole thing - who on earth do the makers of those "man bras" think they're kidding? And who do the wearers think they're fooling?
“They’re not interested in cross-dressing, they just find wearing a bra relaxes them.”
Oh, please. Give me a break. Come on, girls - just how "relaxed" does your bra make you feel? What's the first garment you shed when you get home, after you get your blouse off? Right! Please don't try to convince me that there's anything remotely "relaxing" about wearing a bra! That dog won't hunt, it really won't.

Apparently this phenomenon originated in Japan. I suppose the men will be mincing around in kimonos next, wearing big black wigs with knitting needles stuck in them, and trying to convince the world that they feel "more relaxed." Come on, Japan, admit it. You've got the same problems we have, yours are just still in the closet. Sorry, but all the well-worded advertising hype in the world isn't going to hide the truth.

A woman with two mastectomies is never going to look perfectly natural, and a man wearing a bra is never going to look relaxed. It's a law of nature, like gravity. And as we all know, it's not nice to fool Mother Nature.

Thursday, July 9, 2009


Dear Reader...

Please take a minute to follow this link:

I haven't vetted this article through my usual, trusty The reasons are: it is from a well-known news-reporting agency, and I have read and confirmed everything in this article before, when doing my own Google searches on the silly little curly light bulbs, and was as astonished then by the contradictions as I am now.

One very official-looking document I read gave detailed instructions for cleaning up a broken fluorescent bulb, part of which is repeated in the attachment here. The one I read went into greater detail with regard to ventilation, using sticky tape to pick up fragments, and using a wet paper towel to wipe over the area. It assumed the break was on a hard surface - (I guess they just don't break over carpet) and then went on to state that the clean-up materials and the broken glass must then be placed in a plastic Ziploc bag, and that bag placed inside another one. I notice this article mentions a glass jar with a metal lid. It is then deemed safe to put it in your garbage, as the double bagging (or the jar) will keep the mercury from escaping into the environment.

Excuse me? Have any of you ever visited the local dump? Well, I have. The garbage is piled into huge hills and dunes, and is continually being pushed around and redistributed by huge, chugging bulldozers. If one of those little double-bagged packages or a glass jar (with a metal lid!) survives being mauled by a bulldozer, then all I can say is, the Ziploc manufacturers are missing a wonderful Kodak moment to use in their ad campaigns. Also, when I die, my kids can save a lot of money by just burying me in a big mayonnaise jar.

Another recommendation is to return the bulbs to the place where you bought them, or to your local Fluorescent Bulb Recycling Center. Well, to the best of my knowledge, we don't have one of those critters around here, so I ran a little test. The last time I visited Lowe's, I walked up to the service desk and spoke to the young man behind the counter. I lied and told him I had a broken fluorescent light bulb in a double plastic bag in my car, and wondered if I could return it there for recycling. He just stared at me, and finally called his manager, who also stared at me and stammered something about "that disposal system has not been set up yet." So - it would appear that if you're planning to break any fluorescent bulbs, you had better wait a year or two.

Now, do I use any fluorescent bulbs at all? Yes, two. The light in my front hall bathroom stays on at all times, simply because I don't like having a whole section of my house in darkness. It is a visible light to anyone passing by, and if I go into the entry for something, that whole three-bedroom section down the front hall is not a dark cave. Also, the lamp beside my chair in the living room remains on. That one lamp illuminates the central core of the house well enough that I could see anyone who might enter, well before they could see me. My house is three rooms wide and three rooms deep, basically a square, so the center does not have windows. A light is a necessary thing for me, since I live alone. I'm not afraid, but I am cautious.

Also, if someone develops a fluorescent bulb that will work in my colored landscape lights out back, I'll gladly use them. They come on at dusk and go off at dawn, and I won't mind their two-minute warm-up. There are seven of them, and I wouldn't mind at all having energy-saving (and money-saving!) bulbs in those fixtures. However, to the best of my knowledge so far, such a bulb is not available. If anyone has different information, please let me know.

Though I hate the greenish light the things put out, I'll put up with it in those two continually-burning fixtures. However, for lights that are frequently turned off and back on, the fluorescents are unacceptable. When first turned on, they are very dim, emitting a sickly, pale green light, and they take a good two minutes to achieve their full potential. I'm not about to put up with that. By the time the thing is bright enough to be functional, I'd be turning it off again. Who needs that? Also, most of the lights in this house are on rheostats, or dimmers, and the fluorescents don't work well in them. They whine, buzz, ring, and usually go out. So instead of a nice, subdued, candle-glow light, you have a choice of bright greenish glare (eventually) or nothing. Can you tell I don't like the fluorescents? Any woman who has ever tried on a swimsuit in a department store dressing room will not have a very positive opinion of fluorescents, either.

As usual, government has gone off half-cocked, and mandated a Chicken Little action in response to a report that th
e sky is falling. Thank you, Al Gore. Wonder what kind of bulbs he uses in that energy-guzzling house of his?

Why does government always take an all-or-nothing approach to things, insisting on being our nanny, our policeman, our boss? Why not make both bulbs available, and let people make their own choice? The fluorescents are fine for long-term, continuous use, and the incandescents are much more attractive for short-term, on again-off again use. Mr. Gore might just be surprised how many of us would make good choices. Not all-encompassing choices, perhaps, but enough to make a big difference. Most people would probably weigh the pros and cons of the things, and use them where they can, as I have - or would, if the bulbs I need were available. Why can't we be trusted to make good decisions? Most of us would, I think. Any good parent knows that most children will respond well when given reasonable choices, but will balk and resist when everything is an order, never a request. But no, it has to be a big old hairy law, forcing us to use the bulbs everywhere, whether we like them or not.

Personally, every time I visit the grocery store, I buy a couple of boxes of incandescent bulbs. I now have enough of them stored in my garage to last until I leave this planet, but just in case, I'm still buying them. Who knows? Maybe I can sell them on the black market in a few years and get rich.

Be blessed, my friends.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009


We are now well into July, and this is the first time I've visited the blog since my granddaughter's wedding. I'm glad I have those memories to fall back on, because the yard surely looks different now!

The heat has taken its toll. My pansies are gone, fainted dead away. The snapdragons are all gone as well, as are almost all the dianthus. I'm glad I planted some petunias around and between the cool-weather lovers, since without them there would be almost no color out there. There are a few roses, the crape myrtles are starting to bloom, and the oakleaf hydrangea is fully loaded with reddish-brown blooms. An interesting plant, the oakleaf. The blooms start out snow white, just elongated clusters called pannicles, many reaching over a foot long. Once they're all open, they begin to turn pink. First they're a faint, shell pink, then they darken until they're a russet red. Finally, the red turns into a mahogany brown, and that's how they remain, into the winter. The bush itself is a thick, sturdy, handsome shrub in its own right.

My beloved irises are long since finished, but a few of them are remontants, and will bless me with another show in the fall. The plumeria is fully leafed out, but so far has no flowers. My friend Beverly has a couple, and both of hers are blooming. I think I'll have to go have a chat with mine. There are a few tired roses, borne on heat-wearied bushes. I need to deadhead those bushes, maybe just go on and prune them deeply, and I'll get another flush of blooms in a few weeks.

It's a constant battle to maintain the pond. The sun causes the algae to proliferate unmercifully. I have a UV light set up on one of the water lines, and it kills the algae that's released in the water, but more is growing and setting itself adrift from the matrix on the sides and bottom all the time. The light keeps it under control so the water isn't green, but the box filter catches all the dead algae and about every twenty-four hours, it has to be pulled up, dismantled and washed out. If this isn't done, the main pump can't run, the waterfall stops, and the fish don't get sufficient aeration. Eventually, the pump will burn out, so I'm careful to clean the filter when it's needed.

The sun. Ah, yes, the ever-present, unrelenting, brutal Texas sun. I finally bought a nine-foot-wide beach umbrella, bright blue, and it helps to shade the pond, thereby reducing some of the sun exposure and slowing the algae growth to a small degree. It's a handsome umbrella, quite reasonable at under $100, tilts, and cranks to furl or unfurl it. It has an airvent in the top, with a circle of loose fabric covering the opening. I named it Fatima, because when it's collapsed down, it looks for all the world like a Muslim woman in a burqa.

My dear friend Eloise bought me an early birthday present. It's a bronze fish, poised on his belly, with his head and tail arched into the air. With the aid of a pump in the pond and a line connected to a point beneath him, he spits a jet of water back into the pond, thereby providing additional aeration. He's adorable, and useful as well.

As I said, the yard is looking pretty tired. That goes for the local wildlife too, especially the birds. I've never seen such tacky-looking birds, as the specimens who are haunting my yard these days. Skinny, molting, sad-eyed critters, of a variety that under the best of conditions would not necessarily be called "pretty", and right now, "tacky-looking" is a compliment. Absent tail feathers in most cases, and when they do have one or two, they're bent or broken. The poor things are hot, and they just stride around in the yard, beaks open, tongues protruding, looking frantic.

There are numerous water sources out there, including a very nice birdbath which I wash out daily and refill, and which is filled again at night when the sprinklers run. There's a large flat boulder with a natural depression, and I keep that washed out and filled as well. Then there's the little fountain/waterfall at the pond, and it always draws a crowd. I keep seed out as well, because I know they're just too hot and tired to hunt for food, and there's plenty of water. I don't know what else I can do to help them, but they just look so pitiful. The cardinals, mockingbirds, bluejays, flickers, robins and sparrows all seem to be doing okay. The grackles are a little ragged, but it's those other birds - cowbirds or whatever they are - that seem to be faring the worst. I haven't seen any starlings in a couple of weeks - I wonder where they went? Wherever it is, I hope they stay.

The squirrels haven't been around as much lately, either. They come by early in the morning, eat their fill if there's fresh feed out, or snuffle through the grass if the table has not been set for them yet. They jump up on the big birdbath and get a drink, or sometimes give me a special show when they come to the little tiled birdbath beneath my window. It has a small boulder beside it, so they can perch on the boulder while they drink from the birdbath. This puts them only about five feet away from me, and they can see me, but they don't seem to mind. Occasionally one will jump onto the window ledge just a couple of feet from me, and will peer in at me, or scratch on the glass, as though to say, "Hey, lady! We need groceries out here!" I usually respond to the demand, and the squirrels will skitter up the tree when I open the back door, but I'm barely back in the house when they're in the middle of the offering I've left them, munching seeds and carrying peanuts away to be buried.

I have amazing things that sprout up in my garden, things I never planted, but they're there. I'm picking tomatoes now from a vine I never planted, there is a cornstalk in the rose island, and last year there were peanut vines everywhere, which produced a lot of peanuts, which were in turn harvested by the furry little peanut farmers. My pear tree is drooping with a heavy load of pears, but the squirrels will get most of them. I don't care, I hope they enjoy them.

The Bible says "To everything there is a season." This seems to be the season for being hot, sticky, weary and thirsty, but just think how good that first cool Texas Norther will feel!

Thursday, April 30, 2009


It's one of my favorite things to do, to sit at this window and look out into the back yard. Now, after the events of a couple of weeks ago, it's even more soul-satisfying, because I have such a lovely memory to enjoy.

On the Saturday before Easter, my granddaughter was married, right here in my back yard. It was a beautiful, simple ceremony. It was not without a small glitch here and there, but what wedding is? That only adds to the fun. The primary responsibility for the preparation fell to me, because of the geographical constraints. The bride lives in Port Aransas, eight hours away, and her mother lives in Fredericksburg, four hours away, but the wedding was to take place here in Irving. That pretty much translates to me doing most of the preparation. Not a problem. I volunteered, after all, and it was a total joy.

I couldn't believe how people stepped up and took an interest in the whole thing. My trusted friend, Joe, who has been the driving force behind the development of this yard of mine was on the bandwagon from the beginning, a year ago. He helped me plan and prepare, and kept me on course. He was here several times during the weeks before the wedding, with his helper Jorge, and they groomed and pruned, pulled any weed that was bold enough to lift its head, and planted flat after flat of "bloomers". They planted some new roses, and carried in some temporary potted things. His brother, who happens to be my neighbor, and owns the garden center where I obtain about 95% of what is planted here, also joined in. He loaned me some plants which I would not normally have bought, but which were needed for this occasion, and would not allow me to pay rent for them. Good friends, and God.

A large part of my joy in the memory is in reflecting upon the effort which God put into making the day perfect. For ten days beforehand, the long-range weather forecast had been threatening us with rain, and my only backup plan was to move the whole thing (65 guests) into my living room. Eeek! Not only that, but due to the very warm weather we had in March, most of the irises were in full, furious bloom, and I had every reason to fear that they would be finished before the wedding. The roses, because of the current cool weather, just sat there, beautiful bushes with tiny buds, and refused to progress. I had visions of a wedding with no flowers.

I had arranged for a friend, who plays just about any musical instrument, to bring his keyboard and play the wedding music. Two weeks before the wedding, he very reluctantly informed me that he couldn't do it, as his family had tickets to fly to the East coast to visit his son. When he agreed to play, he hadn't realized it was the same weekend. He felt terrible about it, but I understood. Wives make arrangements, men just carry the luggage and get on the plane when they're told to do so. I do understand that.

Still, I had to regroup. I thought of a church friend who is active in the local high school music programs, called her, and she put me in touch with one of the directors. No problem. She would arrange for a nice little string quartet of talented kids. God had fixed it for me.

During the week before, the weather remained cloudy and cool. The irises slowed down without the sun to coax the flowers out. My pansies fairly burst with color, and redoubled their bud-setting efforts, loving the cool weather. A few rosebuds swelled with promise. We had one little rain shower, which turned the already-green grass a vibrant emerald. God again.

While I was wearing myself to a nub trying to get the house clean (why, I don't know, as everyone would be outdoors), my neighbor mentioned that she had a lady in her house helping with some cleaning. Hmm. Would she be interested in a couple of hours more work when she finished? Yes, she would. So I met the helpful Rue, who came over and in two hours had dusted my office, living room, and dining room, and vacuumed those rooms and the sunroom and kitchen. They are large rooms with a lot of furniture. She also helped me unload at least twenty bags of groceries from my car and put part of it away.

When I asked her what I owed her, she wouldn't say, just told me to give her whatever I thought it was worth. I gratefully gave her $40, because her help had gotten me to a point where I could see the light at the end of the tunnel, and could even imagine being able to go to bed that night. So, imagine my shock when tears came to her eyes and she gave me a hug, and whispered that I would never know how badly she needed that amount right then. Then she said, "God must have known I needed you." She needed me?? Later, I learned that my neighbor had employed her through an agency, and Rue would not be paid by them until the next week! I think that $40 was all that stood between Rue and her children, and hunger for the weekend. God again.

A couple of weeks before the wedding, my trusted and reliable friend Ted, who does all the repairs, electrical work and such around this house was here to repair a decaying door facing on the back door. In doing so, he discovered termite damage. He recommended an exterminator. I've learned to trust Ted's recommendations, and so I called Johnny to come and dispatch the termites. He did, and I enjoyed a couple of hours of conversation with a delightful young man, a devoted Christian and family man. I told him about the wedding, and he was very interested. I made some offhand comment about hoping the mosquitoes wouldn't be too bad. On the day, I never saw a single mosquito. Later, I learned that Johnny had dropped by a couple of days earlier, while I was out, and had sprayed all the shrubbery with an organic compound that repels mosquitoes. No charge. God again.

Good Friday was cloudy, with a tiny sprinkle here and there, but no rain. Then Saturday dawned beautifully clear, still cool but not cold, soft breeze making the trees sway gently. Irises I hadn't even realized were budding suddenly unfurled huge, ridiculously beautiful flowers, and even some of the roses opened. My favorite, the lavender-pink Angel Face, had nine large, perfect blooms on its compact little bush, each one redolent with the intoxicating fragrance that seems to belong to Angel Face alone.

That rose is special to me. My dear little Maltese dog, Sugarplum, was my companion for nearly thirteen years. I lost her a year and a half ago, and she's still sorely missed. I often called her Angel Face, and when I saw that little rose in a catalog, I knew I had to have it. It's a sturdy little thing, and blooms so beautifully, but never more beautifully than it did on the day of the wedding. God again.

The day was absolutely beautiful, all day. Bright and clear, stayed cool enough for comfort, even though the sun was bright. The caterer, a friend from work, had a very competent crew working in the kitchen during the ceremony, and afterward, while pictures were taken, they brought in and set up large round tables all around the yard, so people could be seated and eat comfortably. Everyone just brought their chair from where they had been near the arbor, and sat at whatever table they chose. The caterer had set up a little tent, and served the simple food from there, and all went smoothly. Then the caterers cleaned up, removed every vestige of their preparation, left my kitchen cleaner than they found it, and left the yard completely free of any debris. God again.

Because of the cloudy week we had just come through, there was absolutely no algae in the pond, and the pumps were running smoothly. The fountain burbled happily, like a soft, tinkling hymn playing in the background. The little umbrella fountain made its glass-like bowl over the water, smooth and silent. The water was crystalline, the fish clearly visible, bright and beautiful. God again.

The string quartet consisted of three lovely young girls in long black dresses and one young man in a tux. They played beautifully, their sweet string music drifting through the yard. Then Amanda came down the stone pathway, so beautiful, looking like an angel, with her perfect figure in her gorgeous dress. She moved so gracefully, to the familiar strains of the wedding march, performed perfectly by the little quartet. It was much more appropriate in the outdoor setting than my friend's keyboard would have been. God again.

My two little grandsons served as ringbearers. Each carried a ring, since it was a double-ring ceremony. They behaved beautifully, looked so handsome, and did exactly what they were supposed to do, right on cue. Charming!

When she decided to have the wedding here, Amanda realized that her pastor in Port Aransas would not be able to do the ceremony, and was wondering who could do it. I remembered that Ted is also a licensed minister. I mentioned it to him, and yes, he'd be happy to do it. Amanda knows Ted, and happily agreed, and so it was that my friend Ted stood under the arbor with Amanda and Kelly on that Saturday before Easter, and heard their vows, and pronounced them husband and wife. It was just what Amanda had wanted - a simple ceremony with family and friends. God again.

When the bride and groom were making their getaway, in a limo so very thoughtfully provided by a friend of the bride's mother, everyone stood out on the driveway and showered them with birdseed and rice. (The local birds were delighted the next morning.) Just as the car pulled away, a light misting began, which later progressed into a sprinkle and some actual rain that night, but not a drop fell on the wedding. God again. He stayed with me all through the week, opening doors and smoothing the path, and stuck with us all right to the final getaway.

Lovely memories. In a little while, my precious daughter-in-law Brittney, who was the official photographer, will have pictures ready and I'll enjoy them so much. Meantime, I can sit at this window and visualize every moment of that day, in my memory. Sometimes, that's even better than pictures! Thank you, God.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


Yesterday, I sat at this window and probaby spent too much time, just ruminating on the beauty of nature and the joy it brings. I think it must have given God a great deal of pleasure to design this world we live in, making it so lovely that it can cause us to forget what we're supposed to be doing and just sit and gaze upon it. If a backyard in Irving, Texas, can cause that response, just imagine what a Rocky Mountain vista, or a helicopter flight over Maui, or a trip through Grand Canyon could produce. Still, since I'm not likely to ever again have the opportunity to drink in one of those sights, I'm content to sit at my window and contemplate the beauty on the other side of the glass. Indeed, I'm grateful for the opportunity.

It was one of those green and gold days, fresh, warm and bursting with life. Just how much life, I was soon to discover. As I sat looking out at the swelling buds on the iris, and the white froth of bloom on the spirea, I caught a movement beneath the shrubbery. Thinking it was the neighbor's cat, back for another attempt to catch some hapless creature that had come to feast at my feeders, I reached for my sprinkler remote control. But no! It wasn't the cat! It was a large gray possum!

Now, that's a completely different story. Not only do I not mind his presence, I welcome it. He doesn't bother birds, squirrels, or me. He does, however, root around and dig up grubs that would cause damage in my yard. Yes, he leaves a few holes, but I can kick the dirt back in with the toe of my shoe, and there's no permanent damage. The little holes are shallow, and in fact they probably help to loosen and aerate the soil.

I reached for my ever-ready camera, and got a couple of shots of him as he bumbled along through a flowerbed. They're a bit hazy, as they were shot through the windowpane, but he's clearly visible.

Today is another beautiful day, just as pretty as yesterday. The temperature is a pleasant 81, with a balmy breeze causing the trees to sway slowly in their new, soft green dresses, like young girls in a gentle minuet. I just love this time of year.

I haven't seen the possum today, but I suspect he/she is around. Actually, I think it may be a female. You can't tell it in the pictures but it was one portly possum, especially around the middle, so there may be little possums soon. I hope so. I will definitely keep the camera charged up and ready, should that little parade appear. Not likely, though. Possums are mostly nocturnal - yesterday's appearance was a bit rare - and I doubt that a mama possum would bring her babies out in broad daylight.

I may get to see them, however. I have a night vision scope, and often am treated to things that I wouldn't be able to see otherwise. Just can't photograph them, unfortunately.

Well, I'm off to buy more impatiens. I finally found a nursery that has some in the color I want, so need to go get them. I'll take little Toye Starr along, the nurseries never seem to mind, and she loves to go with me.

Peace, friends.

Monday, March 9, 2009


I guess it's officially Spring around here. Flowers are blooming, and small critters are appearing. I love it! There are squirrels everywhere out in the yard, and birds of every description. I even had a lovely little squadron of goldfinches that passed through a couple of weeks ago. They found my nijer thistle feeder, and just about stripped it. They were still more green/gray than gold in their winter plumage, but a few were showing the bright gold feathers of summer. They fed, and moved on. Wherever they are right now, I'm sure by now they look like drops of sunshine in the trees.

As I was brushing my teeth this morning, preparing to go forth and meet the world, in the mirror I could see what appeared to be a large piece of lint, dangling from a corner of the a/c vent over my head. I turned around and reached up with a tissue to wipe it away, and realized the lint was green and had eyes. It's a little gecko, chameleon, whatever he is. I had zillions of the babies around here last year, I guess this is one that managed to evade the birds.


Apparently he has been hanging out in the attic, subsisting on small spiders and the like (I hope) and decided to crawl into the a/c duct and seek his fortune. If I reach toward him, he pulls back out of sight, but soon sticks his head out again when I leave him alone. He appears to be about 5-6" long. At one point, not only were his head and shoulders out, but the tip of his tail was visible as well, so I was able to determine his size.

I'm not quite sure what to do about him - nothing, I guess. He has made it on his own this long, I suppose he can continue to do so without my help. I'm concerned about his need for water, though. That will soon bring him down into the bathroom, where Starr's water bowl is on the floor. She's confined to my bedroom and bathroom when I leave the house, and would certainly spot him. I'm not sure what, if anything, she'd do to him, but I'd hate for her to hurt him. She wouldn't "attack" him, but she'd try to play with him, I have no doubt. Of course he can run into tiny spaces where she can't get him, but I'd really rather he wasn't camped in my bedroom. I'm afraid I'll step on him at night, and while he might survive Starr's attentions, he'd never survive that!

The irises are starting to bloom. Rapture's Edge has opened two huge flowers, with more buds below. Purple Streaker has set some buds, is about a week away from opening. A tiny purple miniature, whose name I think is Hottentot, has burst forth in one end of the rose island, lovely purple bloom on a short 8" stem! Delightful! Roses and irises are good companions, and I do have a mixture of them in the rose island.


Halloween Halo is trying again, after getting her first effort frost-nipped a couple of weeks ago. Lady Friend, the gorgeous red thing, is budding out in the front yard. Harvest of Memories will open soon, and will probably do it again this fall. She usually does. I love those remontants - rebloomers - you get a lot of bang for your buck with them.

The grass is greening up nicely, would actually be acceptable if it didn't get any better, but it will. The white, weeping spirea is showing color, will be gorgeous in a few days. The Little Princess spirea, which is more shrubby and blooms a lovely pink, is just starting to leaf out. It usually blooms about the time the white one finishes. I'm always amazed at how two shrubs from the same family can have such vastly different growth habits. The white sends out long, droopy canes and the flowers emerge along almost the entire length of the canes. The pink doesn't make long canes, and the flowers appear in little flat-topped clusters all over the top and along the sides of the bush. Both are beautiful.

The roses are covered with tender red/green leaves, after being pruned within an inch of their lives a couple of months ago. Of course, those tender leaves looked like a sign that read "Eat Here" to the aphids, and they arrived in hordes. Not to worry, I bought ladybugs from John, and released them one evening after first running each sprinkler zone for about a minute, just enough to wet foliage. The next morning, I checked the rose bushes, and not a single aphid could be found, but a lot of ladybugs were sitting around picking their teeth. Sure beats chemicals!

I just watered the neighbor's cat again. Dumb cat, he never learns. He knows there are lots of birds and squirrels in my yard, and at least once a day he heaves his big old overfed belly over the fence and tries to look sleek and menacing as he prowls through my shrubbery. If I see him, all it takes is a click of my sprinkler remote to turn on the appropriate zone, and then I get treated to the spectacle of a cat losing all his dignity as he scrambles to get back over the fence before he's completely soaked. Miserable wretch.

Never a dull moment around here, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Be blessed, friends!.

P.S. I just went into my bathroom, and my gecko friend was sitting on Starr's water bowl, just as I had feared he would do. I brought my dipnet from the pond, managed to scoop him up without any difficulty, and he is now patrolling my flowerbeds, outdoors, where all good little lizards belong. End of story.

Friday, January 2, 2009


As a member of the Dirt Doctor's "ground crew", I receive frequent newsletters from Howard Garrett, with the latest skinny on organic gardening. The dues are very small, and I've gotten a lot of good information over the last couple of years. If you'd like to do the same thing, go to All the information is there.

With spring approaching, and mosquito season not far away, I thought this article from Garrett was appropriate, interesting and informative. I'm old enough to remember when pyrethrins were believed to be completely safe as insecticides. Of course, I'm also old enough to recall when the same thing was thought about DDT. Look where that misinformation got us - we nearly lost our national symbol, the bald eagle, due to the cumulative effects of DDT. Only when DDT was banned in this country did the dear old eagle begin to make a comeback. However, the battle isn't fully won, as many countries still use DDT heavily - specifically Mexico. At least it's no longer used here.

The point is, as the King sang in "The King and I" - "Some things neeearly so, others neeearly not!" Garrett lists several fiercely toxic poisons that were once widely used - diazinon, Dursban, Sevin, etc. Then there's the infamous malathion. I remember when my neighbor got tired of the fleas on her dog, and the occasional roach in the house, so she dosed her yard with malathion, at about 1000 times the recommended strength. Instead of putting an ounce into a gallon of water and running it through a sprayer, she dumped in the whole bottle. You could smell it clear to the end of the street, all the toads and lizards disappeared, there were very few birds in the neighborhood for a couple of years, and the squirrel population all but vanished. Darn near killed the dog, too. She just about nuked the whole neighborhood. I could have wrung her neck, and I wasn't even into gardening and backyard wildlife that much at the time.

Anyway, I'm researching something to (I hope) control the mosquitoes in the yard this spring, and am thinking that a cedar oil spray may be the thing. More checking is needed, but that looks promising. Garrett mentions it. Standing water isn't a problem, as I wash out the birdbaths every couple of days, the tire swing has a hole in the bottom for drainage, and I don't leave empty containers facing upward. The pond water is well patrolled by the fish - no larvae can survive there, and I routinely drop a mosquito "dunk" in the drain line that carries excess groundwater to the street. I think they just congregate in all the shrubbery and vegetation, the hateful little things.

So - as spring approaches, and with it the armies of insects that beset us, please be very careful in your choices of pesticides. As Garrett says, there are things that will do the job adequately and will not harm beneficial organisms. Every spring, when the aphids appear on my roses, I buy a couple of quarts of ladybugs from John Lee and release them in the rose island. Within a couple of days, I have no aphids and a lot of fat ladybugs have moved on to the neighbors' yards. This year I'm going to experiment with trichogramma wasps, maybe some green lacewings, and possibly praying mantises, in addition to the ladybugs. The wasps should help control those obnoxious little webworms that made my trees look so tacky last year.

I'm also researching beneficial nematodes, which can be placed in solution and sprayed where needed. I understand they're great for finding and destroying termites. I don't think I have any termites around here right now, but I may treat the foundation area anyway. I'll probably do the same at the rent houses, to prevent much greater expense in the future. The nematodes are cheap. Termite damage isn't.

So, as spring sprongs, I hope everyone will be very careful and thoughtful with regard to pesticides. I'm not a green freak, but I have truly become convinced that organic is best where possible, and it's just almost always possible. Incidentally, did you know that dry molasses, applied to your lawn about twice a year, is not only an excellent fertilizer, but will also get rid of fire ants? Now that ought to give you something to think about!

Happy New Year!!