Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Getting on with 2018




 No, that's not January.
Here we are, already past the first week in January.  Our weather had been bitterly cold for a few weeks, but as of now, we're enjoying temperatures in the upper 20's.  I went to fill the bird feeders without a coat on and it felt downright balmy outdoors.  Amazing what a body can adapt to.

Carl and I have been running around to all sorts of appointments for ourselves and for his parents; the days go by in a blur and at the end of the night, I look back and wonder just what it was we accomplished.  Eventually, we hope things will settle down a bit more. 

Now that the weather has warmed up a little, the snow is melting and things look dismal.  I went through some of my pictures from this past summer to cheer me up a little, so this post includes random summer photos.  

I'm also considering what I'm going to plant (or not plant) this spring.  We have no garden walks scheduled for 2018 so there's no particular reason to get everything all gussied up this year.  2019 is the big year, with our silly garden on the American Hosta Society tour.  We're going to take this summer and try our best to get good ol' Castle Aargh further along.

Summertime and the livin' is easy.

 I'm debating not putting up the greenhouse this year, but we'll see if I stick to my resolve.  It would make life easier as the process of getting it all hauled down from Mom's shed takes hours of work and then at the end of the season, we have to put it away again. 


 I will miss not having the greenhouse; there's something magical about the sight of growing things in early spring.  But it's only for one year.
 
I'll have to have flowers to put in the urns and the pots, though.  

The New Guinea impatiens were fabulous last summer.  Carl brought more pipe home from the scrap yard so we can add more upright accents in other places in the garden next year.
Will I or won't I plan my pink 'Bubblegum' supertunias this year?  I'm not sure, but I suspect I will have a few.
Rudbeckia 'Goldsturm' has been naturalizing in the hosta beds in front of the house, but I've been curbing its tendency so take over a little.  Still, it's a gorgeous plant in bloom.  
The 'Fireball' marigolds mixed in with the 'Profusion' zinnias were  great plants last year, and easy to grow.  I'll probably add some this year, too.
Two years running, I've had the Tidal Wave 'Red Velour' petunias in abundance, amazing that only twenty plants grown from seed could be so prolific.





What will I do with no color other than green this summer?  I'll have to think of something to brighten things up.  Maybe some more pots instead to lighten the work load.  But then, pots have to be watered.....hmmm....more to think about.

I did plant more lilies last year.  If the voles aren't a big problem and the frigid weather didn't damage them, we should have a good show in 2018.




Then there's the Batting Cage to consider.  Though after the relocating the gazebo, this area was off to a rather dubious start, the whole thing turned out fairly well.  I guess I'll give it one more year and see how it goes.

I've got a few other beds to renew this spring.  We found some of our granite boulders and polished pieces were buried under greenery, so they had to be brought out into the light of day early last summer.
 I've got lots to ponder on during the last remaining weeks of winter.  We'd really love to get some stained glass projects done, too, but time is always in short supply. 

 And, speaking of time, back on Halloween we had gone on a geocaching outing with Joel and Ann, and stopped at a restaurant for lunch.  For all of our years together, Carl loves to have me guess what order number we are assigned when we go out to eat.  Of course, I never know, and simply blurt out a random answer. I'm never right.

Well, apparently wonders never cease.....for the first time in 39 years of marriage, we had order #1 and #39.  

Spooky!

And we're both 59 here........but not for much longer.  The Big 60 looms!
Oh, dear.  We're quite the pair, aren't we?  

Stay warm, everyone!
 
 
 







 

Monday, January 1, 2018

Farewell 2017

Christmas is now over, and Happy New Year is in order.  

Carl is asleep in his Lazy Boy next to me, gently snoring.  When the furnace isn't running (which isn't often as we're below zero) the house is so quiet I can hear the melancholy sound of needles bouncing off the hardwood floor from the rapidly drying Christmas tree.  I water the tree every morning without fail but the tree is tired.

And yes, we still have the 1978 orange vinyl floor.
I love the anticipation of the holidays much more than the end result, almost the same way I feel about lilies in bud in the summer; once the petals have unfurled, it is only a matter of time before the bloom fades.  


My heart always hurts a little when I see Christmas trees tossed out on the curb in town a day or two after the holiday.  They seem so forlorn.  There I go, imbuing inanimate objects with feelings again, a bad habit of mine.  Just ask my sons about my silliness when I never could read the book 'The Velveteen Rabbit' without crying.  


I thought as I grew older, I'd become less emotional, but the opposite seems to be true, especially this year, our first Christmas without Mom.  All in all, I did fairly well without succumbing to the holiday blues.  With our schedule jam-packed with estate and nursing home visits for the last few months, house cleaning had to be done at a breakneck pace in the two days leading up the holiday which took my mind off Mom's loss.  

I debated saying something in Mom's memory at our Christmas Day supper table gathering when Joel, Abby, Audrey, David, Emily and Ann were here, but I knew I'd never be able to get the words out, so I clumsily settled on passing the food and said a silent prayer of my own.  


Still, the emotions do come out in the darndest places.  Case in point; Carl and I went to pay the property taxes at our local town hall on Friday.  I plunked myself down in the chair next to the computer as the town clerk patiently added up my bill, making sure my figures came out.  

Though I did not know the lady, when she handed me the receipt,  I suddenly found myself blurting out that my mother had died and how different it was this year and before I knew it, the tears were flowing despite my best efforts to stem them.  To the clerk's credit, she sat there and nodded sympathetically, she was sorry for my loss.  I felt very silly and apologized as we soggily made our way out the door.  I had no intentions of going on like that, but I did anyway. 


We're in the deep freeze now, but I can't say I really mind the weather all that much.  I'm still cross-country skiing whenever I can, even though I have to stick to the back side of the pine trees in the Eight as they make an excellent windbreak.  The fresh air does wonders for my spirits if not for my waistline.  I made far too many Christmas goodies again this year and have to counteract the expansion of my dimensions the best I can.  I gave away better than three-quarters of what I'd made, but there's still enough calories around here to keep an army marching.  Next year I'll do better.  (I know, I always say that.)

 Looking back on 2017, I find it to be almost a blur or distant bad dream.  So much time early in the year was spent in doctor's offices, emergency rooms, and hospitals with all three of our elderly parents, sometimes two in one day.  Then hospice arrived for my mother and in February she moved in with us until her passing in April.  Carl's folks managed more or less on their own until their crisis in November and since then, things have calmed down a little, but not much.  

I'm still dealing with Lyme disease (and who knows what will be the next thing) with possible eyesight issues worsening and unknown other ailments on the horizon, but hey, I finally made a doctor's appointment to check things out which for me, is the half the battle.   And yes, I know, worry does no good.  I know I'm not alone; everyone is dealing with something they'd rather not have to deal with, it's just the way it is.  

If 2017 taught me anything (and I'm a notoriously dim-witted woman) it's the art of grieving and consoling the suffering.  After going through two funerals this past year, I so appreciated the support from family and friends and it made me reevaluate my comforting skills when other people are in crisis.  

The following article by author Elana Premack Sandler was a huge help to me:  The Ring Theory Helps Us Bring Comfort In

 So many people brought the comfort in for me this past year, and I am deeply humbled and grateful.  I only hope I can repay the favors shown to me in truly helpful ways in the coming year.  

2017 also has made me face the fact I'm not getting any younger. Mom used to say, "You're just a kid yet," and true, she was right given our thirty-eight year age gap, but I'm teetering on the brink of my sixth decade and let's face it, my bud has opened and my petals are getting more faded by the day.  A dear friend of mine sent me this essay, I'm not sure who originally wrote it but it is entitled:  

And Then It Was Winter
 You know. . . Time has a way of moving quickly and catching you unaware of the passing years.
It seems just yesterday I was young, just married and embarking on my new life.  Yet in a way, it seems like eons ago, and I wonder where all the years went.  I know I lived them all.  I have glimpses of how it was back then and of all my hopes and dreams. 

But, here it is... The winter of my life and it catches me by surprise... How did I get here so fast?  Where did the years go and where did my youth go?

I remember well seeing older people through the years and thinking those older people were years away from me and winter was so far off that I could not fathom it or imagine fully what it would be like.

But, here it is... my friends are retired and getting grey - or they’re gone.  They move slower and I see an older person now.

Some are in better and some worse shape than me... but, I see the great change... They’re not like  the ones I remember who were young and vibrant... but, like me, their age is beginning to show and we are now those older folks we used to see and never thought we'd be.

Each day now, I find just getting a shower is a real target for the day!  And taking a nap is not a treat anymore... it's mandatory!  'Cause if I don't on my own free will... I just fall asleep where I sit!

And so... now I enter into this new season of my life unprepared for all the aches and pains and the loss of strength and ability to go and do things I wish I had done, but never did!

But, at least I know, although winter has come, and I'm not sure how long it will last... this I know—  when it's over on this earth... it's NOT over.  A new adventure will begin!

Yes, I have regrets.  There are things I wish I hadn't done.. things I should have done; but, indeed, there are many things I'm happy to have done.  It's all in a lifetime.

So, if you're not in your winter yet... let me remind you, it will be here faster than you think.

So, whatever you would like to accomplish in your life please do it quickly!  Don't put things off too long!  Life goes by quickly.  So, do what you can today, as you can never be sure whether this is your winter or not! 

You have no promise you will see all the seasons of your life... so, live for today and say all the things you want your loved ones to remember.. and hope they appreciate and love you for all the things you have done for them in all the years past!

"Life" is a gift to you.  The way you live your life is your gift to those who come after.  Make it a fantastic one.

LIVE IT WELL!  ENJOY TODAY!  DO SOMETHING FUN!  BE HAPPY!  HAVE A GREAT DAY!

REMEMBER:.. "Health is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver.

"LIVE HAPPY IN THIS YEAR AND EVERY YEAR!” 

LASTLY, CONSIDER THE FOLLOWING:

TODAY IS THE OLDEST YOU'VE EVER BEEN, YET THE YOUNGEST YOU'LL EVER BE.

SO - ENJOY THIS DAY WHILE IT LASTS.


 My wish for 2018 is that we will all live each moment we're blessed to receive and live them well.  

Here's to a Happy and Healthy New Year!  

(And yes, I'll have to start taking those lights down in a few weeks.  Wish me luck.)
 

Sunday, December 17, 2017

It's Getting Closer


Yard light with flicker light bulbs and snow

When I should be writing Christmas cards, baking, wrapping presents and above all else, cleaning, here I am writing a post.   I don't know who said it first, but this quote sums me up:  'From a procrastination standpoint, today has been wildly successful.'      

I've had way too many 'wildly successful' days, no, scratch that, months! lately.  We're still working on acquiring a new routine that works.  Between dealing with our respective parent's homes and estates that need tending to and nursing home visits, plus my weekly trip for IV treatments, we far too often end up having supper after ten at night.  This won't do.
 
Snow changes everything

Both of us are tired; the weeks fly by and we seem to be in a never-ending cycle of meetings and appointments.  My back is acting up again; I'm hoping the culprit is mainly stress, but if it keeps on, I'll have to seek out a new general practitioner as my former one retired.   

I bought a book on healing back and pelvic pain by performing stretches and strengthening exercises over a year ago and things did improve.  All summer long, my back was pretty good.   But come October, and with all the commotion with our elders, I ran out of time and slacked off on the exercises.  Now I'm doing the stretches at least twice a day and hoping eventually I'll see some results.  But if this doesn't work, I'll have to give in and seek help.  

I also have a DVD workout with a very flexible Miranda Esmonde-White skillfully bending and touching her knee nearly to her nose and beyond while my knee remains far, far away from my skull.  But hey, I'm trying.

 Last weekend, we finally managed to get the new LED lights on the wire horses and reindeer.  The outdoor decorations do bring me joy; they are the only thing I have completed for Christmas.  Now that we have had some snow, they look even better.  


 I didn't get the garden cleaned up for fall, and I still have concrete statuary to haul in, too, but at least I have lights.  Every now and then, a car going by slows down and it makes me happy to think they might be enjoying the scenery, too.  On Saturday night, after visiting Carl's parents in assisted living, Carl surprised me by taking me on a tour of Christmas lights in neighboring communities.  

There are some glorious displays to be seen; it makes me sad to think Christmas will be over soon and they'll be taken down.  Some homeowners had their holiday light creations hooked up to sync with music you could tune into on the car stereo and cars were backed up for blocks.  

We don't have anything that elaborate here.  (And alas, we ran out of extension cords.)

 
Yes, I know the fence posts show, but otherwise the poor reindeer would blow over in the wind.  You can't see it from the road.


 The 'relit' reindeer are on the Pachyberm.

So much white, but the lower one is the doe.



The dwarf conifer next to them is Picea abies 'Clanbrassiliana Stricta', one of my favorites. 

On Sunday afternoon, Carl and I decided to cross-country ski over to his parent's house instead of taking the car.  We've had about six inches of snow so far and Joel had plowed me a trail out into the Back Eight on Thursday.  We skied across our farm and onto the newly groomed snowmobile trail which hasn't been opened yet for sled traffic.  They need more snow for snowmobiles, so we have the trails to ourselves. 

We're both pretty pathetically out of shape, though in our defense, the snow was quite sticky making for tough going.  We had to take frequent rest stops and as we hadn't left the house until 4PM, it was nearly dark by the time we made the mile-long trek.  We did the tasks we needed to do and put our skis back on, heading home in the growing dark.  

The worst thing about cross-country skiing is knowing what and how many layers of clothing to wear.  When I first start out, I'm cold and am glad of the layers, but soon I start to sweat, especially if there's not much wind.  If we're on a long ski trip, I'll tie a jacket around my waist when I start to overheat and if I need it later when the wind picks up, I can always put it back on.  The worst part is when my glasses steam up, my eyesight isn't that great to begin with and everything is foggy.  

But skiing is fun.  Really.  

It is.

Once we were back on the farm, I told Carl I had to check on Mom's house and water the geraniums stored in her living room and kitchen.  When we walked in, we were amazed at how cold the house was, down to 48 degrees; the furnace blower was running, but there was no heat.  I don't know how long that's been going on, but Carl was able to reset the switch and the heat was finally working again.  We're keeping the thermostat low, but not that low.

By the time we left Mom's house it was nearly six pm.  Carl took the lead, breaking trail for me.  He was off on a good pace and when I tried to catch up, I lost my balance and went down in a blaze of snowy glory.  I hollered at him and he came back to help me.  


Years ago, I'd read the best way to get up on skis is to roll on your back with your skis in a tabletop position above you and then roll onto your side.   If I were more flexible, I'm sure this would be the best way to get vertical again, but I was flailing around in a most ungraceful manner before I managed to get up.  (Ms. Esmonde-White would not have been impressed.)  

However, I will say, lying on your back in a snowbank is a good way to cool down.

As it was pitch black out now, we headed for the lights of home.
Carl went in to make our traditional Sunday night light meal while I stayed outside and took pictures. 

 Mom would have loved her remembrance garden, especially the blue tree lights.








A gift poinsettia and plate commemorating our dear late dog, Teddy, under the Laburnum table lamp.
I do have one thing done in the house; the indoor tree is decorated.







Another weekend has come to a close, time goes by too fast.  The winter solstice is this week; the shortest day of the year.  

But before we know it, we'll start to gain precious seconds of daylight again.
  Until then, I'll have the lights of the season to brighten my mood.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!