Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Milk pod

I was taking Miss Gracie for a walk and spied some milk pods growing on the hillside beside the road. For those who may be unfamiliar with what a milk pod is, it’s a seed pod that grows on milkweed plants which are native to this part of the US.  The plants are tall and the blooms of native milkweed are unspectacular, but the blooms and plants attract butterflies. I do have an affinity for butterflies. Monarch butterflies are particularly fond of them.

Milkweed pods

Whenever I see a milk pod, my Grandmother Starr (my mother’s mother) comes to mind. When I was very young, perhaps three or four years old, I remember walking with my grandmother through a field that had many milk pods in it. We made this walk when I visited her because it was a shortcut to get to a nearby town.  We walked because she didn’t have a driver’s license – through the field, down a dirt road and across some railroad tracks to a small town.  She sometimes took me to church meetings with her in the evening.  Church ladies met in the basement and there was no air conditioning, so the door was always standing open when we arrived.  The ladies sang hymns and talked while I was usually given paper and pencil to entertain myself, which I was happy to do.

I don’t know why I visited her without my brothers, but that is how it was.  Maybe she liked me best. 😊  After church, we sometimes stopped in the little town and got vanilla ice cream cones to eat as we walked back to her home. 

I remember asking my grandmother if the milk pods have milk in them.  She said they did, but I should never try to drink it.  She picked one off a plant and pulled a long pin out of her purse (I think it was a hat pin or perhaps a large straight pin that might be used to attach a corsage to a lapel). She pierced the pod and sure enough, white sap came oozing out of it.  I was in awe that she knew the pods had this magic in them.

I didn’t know Grandmother Starr very well.  She and my grandfather moved to California before I was five years old.  After they moved away, I rarely saw them. What I remember most about her is that she had red hair and she talked a lot. She was artistic – she painted pictures and wall murals.  She also wrote stories and wanted to have them published.  I never had opportunity to read her work; I presume nothing was ever published.

I hope to live close enough to my grandchildren that we know each other.  Someone’s daughter, Katie, has Alice who is now four years old and is great fun to play with.  Little ones are so unpredictable which makes for great adventure. Unfortunately, we only see Alice once every three months or so…just not often enough for her to get to know us. I don’t know if this will ever change – it’s complicated. 

Sweet Alice - 4th birthday party

Sarah will be having a baby any day now.  We are so excited!  I do hope to see this baby more often than I see Alice. I don’t want to be a stranger to it. I want it to recognize me and be happy to see me.  I want to spoil it rotten and show it wondrous things. We are dreaming of a life to be brought into the world soon.  God is good. 

Monday, July 5, 2021

Mourning Miss Molly

 Our Molly died a few weeks ago. I miss her greatly. She adopted us (actually, no, the girls invited her into our home despite my insistence that we could most certainly NOT keep another cat) about 13 years ago.  The vet estimated that she was about two years old at her first visit.  Molly was the most affectionate cat I’ve ever lived with. My belief was always that she was grateful to have a home and people who cared about her, and so, she spent a lot of time on my lap, on my desk, and on my bed. Maybe she was just wanting to be near the person who usually fed her.

Sweet Molly MooMoo

Molly got sick and the vet was not sure which condition (heart or kidney) was the worst. Long story short, she just got too sick to live. Erin was home when she died…I am grateful. Molly was an outdoor/indoor cat and she conveyed clearly that she wanted to be outdoors. On her last full day of life, Erin and I sat outside with her to love on her and to keep her from wandering off into the woods to die. She mostly laid still (slept?) in the grass as we watched and tended to her.  She refused to drink.  We brought her inside that night because it seemed too cold for her, even on the porch.  The next morning, Erin got up to check on her and was with her when she took her last breath.

No euthanasia for Miss Molly because she did not seem to be suffering and she always stressed out terribly anytime we took her to the vet. I would have taken her if she showed signs of suffering. After she died, we washed her, brushed her, and laid her in a box for burial. Emily came home and we had a proper kitty funeral.  Miss Molly joins our other beloved pets in the family pet cemetery. 

Miss Molly Beans

For the first time in 40 years (perhaps more), there is no cat in my life. It is odd.  Someday, I can imagine going to the pound or an animal rescue to get another, or perhaps another stray will turn up.  For now, we will take time to grieve our Molly.


Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Beautiful Lake Tahoe Adventure

Earlier this month (June, 2021), Someone and I went on a “real” vacation – just the two of us – to a place we’ve never been before.  We stayed for a week, which was plenty of time to explore and have dinner with my cousin (our grandmothers were sisters). 

We stayed at David Walley’s Resort in Minden, Nevada.  The resort (David Walley’s) was wonderful – everything about it.  It’s out in the middle of nowhere – you get that impression when you see it from the highway.  But, once you start getting familiar with the area, you realize that the resort is very close to Carson City which has anything you could want, and minutes from Kingsbury Grade and Route 50, both which take you over the mountains to Lake Tahoe.  Genoa is within easy walking distance from the resort.  It's the oldest settlement in Nevada and very quaint.   We loved our suite. The hot springs were…well…interesting and different, and very beautiful.

View of springs from our balcony. The lilac near the railing smelled heavenly!

The hot springs were what enticed David Walley to build a resort in that location (many years ago). Hot water bubbles up through the ground in puddles around there. It’s full of minerals that are somehow associated with good health.  People with arthritis and other ailments use to come and soak in the spring water long ago (as shown in old pictures posted around the resort).  On our last night at the resort, we tested out the hot springs. Because of our litigious society, the resort modernized the springs experience for guests by creating five small pools for people to sit in - they are much like swimming pools. They have to control the temperature and filter the water so that people don’t get burned or sick. We sat in several of the pools (some were just too hot for one or both of us).  It was interesting and pleasant at times, but the water made my skin and swimsuit smell like sulfur. I was grateful to take a shower afterwards.  It was very much like sitting in a bubbling, hot jacuzzi that smelled bad. 

We could see the hot spring (kind of like a creek) from our balcony at the resort.  Steam rose off of it in the mornings – the temperature there was in the 40s (F), even in June.  We were walking along the creek on the path when we came to a water puddle with what looked like little air bubbles.  I watched the bubbles for a moment and wondered if the water was actually boiling, or if perhaps a creature was below the surface, or perhaps something below such as a pipe was leaking and causing air bubbles.  Silly me, I stuck my fingers in the water to test it…yes, it was boiling water. 😊

Lake Tahoe is beautiful! The first time we saw it (just as we drove over the top of the last mountain), we said “OHHH” simultaneously.  Pictures cannot do it justice.  The water is bluest blue and along the shore where it’s not so deep, you can see rocks on the bottom: clean, clear water.  I took more than 300 photos of mountains, lakes, pinecones, trees, and flowers.  We hiked 9 to 14 miles everyday that we were there.

My two favorite places were Spooner Lake and Sugar Pines Point State Park. The sugar pines have the most gigantic pinecones I’ve ever seen in my life. They are 14 to 15 inches long and when you try to wrap your hands around them, your fingers don’t touch. Spooner Lake has a trail around the entire lake (a little less than three miles) with beautiful, tall aspen trees and lupines growing all around it. The Spooner Lake trail is easy walking – the trail is well worn so you don’t have to constantly look down to keep from tripping over rocks and roots.

Our flights out and back were uneventful and surprisingly (pleasantly) on time. Flying used to be fun, but these days, not so much.  We had to wear masks in the airports and on the flights.  I’m not a fan of masks, but I follow rules about such things. I am hoping the rules change for vaccinated adults (at least) before the next time I fly.  

For anyone who enjoys hiking and biking, swimming and boating, or just walking outside, visit Lake Tahoe. You won’t be disappointed.   

Monday, May 31, 2021

I'm still standing

Oh my!  Time goes by (as it does) and it’s all I can do to find time to participate in my own life.  University #1 has wrapped up for the spring term and I’m now on vacation until the summer break ends.  With two full months (plus a few extra days off) from University #1, it should feel like Endless Summer, but it will be nothing like Endless Summer.  I have to migrate five courses to a new platform over the summer.  My estimate??  I’m thinking 40 – 60 hours per course.  You’re welcome, University #1 (it’s time and labor gifted – I don’t “work” or get paid during summer months).  

COVID seems to be winding down in our area.  Thank you, Jesus. I’m grateful for the vaccine because I’m tired of wearing masks and worrying about germs. I have LOVED working from home all semester – that part of the pandemic has been most agreeable. It was always my dream job to work full time from home and I got to experience it for six months. It was completely marvelous!  Come August, it’s going to be very difficult to leave Gracie and Molly and go back to campus.  Even more than that, I’ll miss watching my birds and squirrels at the bird feeders.  Having fed the birds every morning, you can’t even imagine the increased diversity of birds in our yard.  I’ve been working to identify and learn about them: the ones I did know (cardinal, blue jay, gold finch, dove, sparrow, wren, bluebird, chickadee, titmouse) and many new ones: Northern flicker, towhee, downy woodpecker, red-bellied woodpecker, rose-breasted grosbeak, purple finch, and others I can’t think of right now. I love watching birds.

Northern Flicker - one of my favorite visitors

One of the most delightful outcomes of feeding the birds regularly is that we now have doves living near our house. They coo in the early morning and late evening hours. Hearing them triggers memories of my tiny, upstairs bedroom on 20th street – the last house I lived in before leaving home to embrace the world on my own. My bedroom was on the corner of the house with two windows (one on the south side and one on the east side. We had no air conditioning in the house so I slept with both windows open in the summers. My bed was in the corner between the windows where there was the most breeze. Just outside my front window was a huge maple tree. Doves nested in the tree. Their mournful coos serenaded me in the early morning hours, and it was a lovely to listen to.     

In February 2021, we had a horrific ice storm. Thousands of people in our area were without utilities, and it took nearly six weeks to restore services. The ice bought down trees which blocked and damaged roads. Trees fell on houses and garages.  It was devastation for many people.  We were so fortunate that we were not affected directly. The National Guard was called in to help with repairs. Every morning for weeks, a fleet of military helicopters flew over top our house around 7:30 AM. They were used to drop supplies and people to work areas and to identify places where roads and bridges were impassible, and utility poles were broken.  Having not been inconvenienced, we were able to get out for Gracie’s walks and appreciate the magic of ice on trees and plants.  When the sun shined on the ice, the beauty was beyond breathtaking. Pictures can’t do it justice.

Erin made a snow cat

Ice on the trees

Fast forward to spring. The KYLady garden is well underway.  We are feasting on lettuce now – it is tender and delightful!  Soon, broccoli will be ready to cut. We also have tomatoes, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, bell peppers, cucumbers, beans, and corn underway.  

My irises are amazing this year, though now after a lot of rain these past few days, they are mostly gone.  The deer ate all of them last year, so this year I began spraying them with repellent starting early spring before buds even formed.  The deer will eat almost anything, so spraying Deer Fence (the kind I use) is a frequent task.  I have to spray almost all my flowers and almost every bush. They don’t seem to eat rhododendrons which is good because ours are big and would need a lot of spraying. Deer Fence isn’t cheap and it’s a miserable product to use – it stinks SO BAD!! 

These irises smell like licorice.

Beautiful irises

Someone broke a bone in his foot about two months ago. He’s had to give up everything he enjoys – karate, tennis, running, and even golf.  He is now much better (praise God, because I am a lousy and impatient nursemaid) and it’s a good thing because we are leaving on vacation next week - we are going to see Lake Tahoe and some of the places near there (Reno, Carson City, and maybe Yosemite). Mainly, we plan to hike, but we are there for six days, so I’m not sure if he can hike for six days.  Someone likes to gamble so no doubt he will spend time in casinos. I have a relative (my great-aunt’s granddaughter) who lives in Reno that we will meet somewhere for lunch or dinner.  It will be nice to see her and her husband. I hope Lake Tahoe is as beautiful as the pictures I’ve seen.  

And now for the BIGGEST news of all...imagine drumroll...Sarah is pregnant with my grandbaby!!  She and Desmond are preparing themselves for all that is to come, as if that is really possible.  I think childbirth and living with a newborn are things that are impossible to really understand until it’s experienced. It’s kind of like trying to describe what honeysuckle smells like.  I could describe it for an hour, but you wouldn’t truly know what it smells like until you actually smelled it.  

My grandbaby is due in early October. Sarah and Desmond do not want to know the baby’s gender before the big day, but I do.  It’s not that it really matters because I have no preference, but it’s hard to imagine this baby in clear detail without knowing gender. The baby is “it” rather than “him” or “her” at this point.  Whatever it is, this baby, I can’t wait to meet him or her, hold him or her, play with his or her tiny feet and hands, and kiss his or her soft skin.  He or she will be beautiful regardless of gender and a blessing to our family.

Sunday, November 29, 2020

The Beast: 2020

 This year, 2020, has been quite a butt. Who in this world could deny it?  At the top of the list in terms of what is the worst thing about 2020, hands down, COVID-19: death, suffering, businesses lost, economic devastation for too many people, riots, destruction of art, government corruption, and on and on. Yet, I am grateful for all that has been wonderful this year: my new hip, a visit to the Smokey Mountains, lots of golf, kayaking, hiking, my work, my new car, my pets, and of course, last but certainly not least (definitely most), my children.

October kayaking on the Little Sandy

My family lineage has been decimated in 2020. It seems that way to me because having been raised by my father’s parents in circumstances where parents took care of great grandparents, I knew my great aunts and uncles (and great grandparents) pretty well – I saw them frequently. All the great aunts and uncles on my father’s side passed away this year, as did two of their children. And then my father died unexpectedly.  Well, I’m not sure it makes sense to say unexpectedly given that he was 83 years old and had Parkinson’s.  But the last I had heard, he was getting along pretty well and was in no danger of dying.  Then came a phone call that he’s in hospice and may not survive the night.  My brother and I made an emergency visit (a five-hour drive) to see him – Covid be damned. I had not seen him in over a year because of timing of my usual visits and Covid (and that’s another very long story that I won’t go into).  He was barely conscious, but he uttered a few intelligible words...I don’t think he knew who we were.  He looked bad, but not horrible.  His hair looked marvelous – he always had great hair.  He looked like my grandfather and my brothers.  He died a few days after our visit.

Rest in peace, Dad

It makes me sad that I didn’t know my dad. He didn’t come around much, and he didn’t stay long when he came. As children, I could count on one hand the number of times we visited him at his home. His wife and my grandmother hated each other.  That was the primary reason – that is what I always thought, anyway. Hate.  Nothing good comes from hate. Life is much too short for that.

The long dark winter is nearly upon us. Early last summer (I blogged about this in my last post), I planted lupines and lavender in a tray with hopes to populate my new flowerbed.  The seeds emerged. All but two of the lavender shriveled up and died.  The two survivors lasted until mid-September.  The lupines looked healthy, even sprouted second leaves, but then, they too died. Failure.  I’m hoping next year will be better. It will be better! My first attempt was a “learning experience”.

My girls have given me gift cards for seeds and roses. I can imagine a glorious yard of wondrous gardens, heavenly scents wafting on the breeze, and stunning blossoms.  The reality is that we have many large trees, so very little sun.  Our soil is clay so we have drainage issues.  Voracious deer eat nearly everything they come to, and we have a plethora of rodents. Don’t even get me started on the Japanese beetles! Excuses, excuses, but there are solutions. All it takes is lots of work and diligence.

Molly hunts and kills things (mostly rodents, but sometimes snakes, and baby rabbits or young squirrels) every day, leaving poor little ravaged bodies on the doorstep.  I feed the birds and the rodents take their fair share.  The bird feeders are an attractive nuisance.   I love, love, love my trees.  I could not bear to have any of them cut down. My favorite is the hickory, which as you might guess, is also the squirrels’ favorite. Nevertheless, I am determined to find a way to have so many beautiful flowers that every bee and butterfly in the county will visit us.

Gracie and Molly (the Relentless)

I cleaned out one of our birdhouses yesterday. A mama bird had worked hard to fill it up with moss and bits of straw and leaves. I read that birds are more likely to inhabit a house if it is clean. I checked the newer house (made by my very talented son-in-law) but there is no evidence that anything nested in it.  It must be that I didn’t hang it up in time last spring. I'm hoping a bluebird will take it next spring. I made a third birdhouse from a large gourd and hung it yesterday, deciding that if I wait until I paint it or until Spring to hang it, another year will go by. The gourd has been sitting in our kitchen and garage for nearly three years. It was finally time to take action. Left in its natural state, perhaps it is best to just let it be what it is. 

gourd birdhouse

I've not blogged in a long time and since my last visit, I see that Blogger has added new edit features.  Well done!

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Great Expectations

Summer is underway here in northeastern Kentucky.  There is much to be done and yet, it seems that the garden(s) and flowers consume most of my time.  The big garden has cabbage, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cantaloupe, tomatoes, bell peppers, cucumbers, butternut squash, beans, and corn.  The raised bed has...2 surviving lettuce plants and a few spindly radishes...damn it!!  It’s a very long story, but my theory is that the soil is tired.  Late last week, I dug up 80% of it and mixed in a bag of 10-10-10...and replanted.  We will see. 

I’m delighted to report that a few weeks ago, in in the late evening after an unseasonably hot day, I was able to smell the blossoms of my Carolina Allspice bush.  At last!!!  After all these years of impatient waiting and disappointment, the bush has finally matured enough to distinguish itself...if only a tiny bit.  My great grandparents had one of these bushes at the far edge of their giant yard in the country.  They called it a sweet shrub; my goodness, it was sweet!  In the evenings, the scent was heavenly and so strong that it even drowned out the honey suckle.  I had hoped that my bush could someday smell at least half as wonderful.  What my bush smells like is not what I remembered.  My bush smells a bit like warm wine with a subtle hint of licorice.  Not unpleasant because you have to be close to smell it at all; however, It does not meet expectations (yet).

Carolina Allspice (sweet shrub) - taking over our backyard

I dug up and planted a new flowerbed.  It has a Mr. Lincoln rose planted in it (a gift from Sarah), coreopsis, irises, dahlias, marigolds, and ageratums.  It has a new birdbath in it as well, with a solar-powered fountain.  It’s a work in progress.  I want to enlarge it and buy a peony for it.  Today, I started some lupines and lavender seeds...if I get any plants from this attempt, they will also go into the new bed.

lupines and lavender underway (I hope)
In other exciting news, I have three lemon trees!!!  I planted lemon seeds in a pot...only because I had seeds from lemons where I made a lemon meringue pie from scratch when we first had the Covid breakout, and because I had a pot of good soil that something had died in.  “Why not plant these seeds and see what happens?” I asked myself.  It’s been like a month ago, and I have been watering the pot whenever I water my other plants on the porch (once a week??).  No special TLC or prayers...just let it be, and I am rewarded. 

Three lemon trees emerged after about a month of neglect
On the smaller back porch, I have beautiful annuals in a variety of old pots.  These get regular fertilizer and daily watering.  I LOVE THEM!!  They need a lot of work to stay alive – excellent soil, fertilizer scheduled, watering once and sometimes twice a day, bug spray sometimes, deadhead the spent flowers, etc.  The other day, I was walking around the shady side of the house and what would you NEVER expect to see??  A petunia that grew up (volunteer, as my grandmother would say) through the dank clay and bloomed!!  God makes His miracles happen where ever he wants. Blessed be the fruit.   

By God's hand, is this possible

Friday, May 15, 2020

KYLady is a material girl?

Madonna says that we are living in a material world.  We need only to log into Amazon to see just how material we are, but there are some things you can’t buy on Amazon (and recently, I learned that some things are available on Amazon now that aren’t available directly from the seller...apparently they are currently only in stock in an Amazon warehouse).

Me and Amazon have been spending a lot of time together lately.  It’s not typical for me to go on a spending spree.  My brother told me once that I’m as tight with money as the bark on a tree.  As much as I hate his accusation (perhaps maybe a shaggy bark hickory or sycamore), I do have a very hard time spending money.  Even when there is something needed and the money is readily available, it’s hard for me to decide to spend.  Whether it’s $1, or $100 or $1,000, it’s the same angst.  It’s just how I am.

Anyway, my last kayak trip resulted in two lost kayak parts: plug, and toggle handle.  The handle is a convenience, but the plug is important.  I was unable to get replacements from the manufacturer, so I scoured Amazon and found parts that hopefully will work (they will be delivered tomorrow...so I won’t be waiting much longer).  The handle will be fine; the plug is iffy. 

So, while out on Amazon, I found a flour sifter too, and a garden hose, and a sprayer nozzle thingie...and some other stuff.  Then I reordered some things because it was such a good deal and I can use them again.  I suppose it’s no different than walking through WalMart and just picking stuff up and adding it to the cart.  And then I bought two birdfeeders and a bag of dried meal worms.  And then I bought a solar-powered fountain for a birdbath...which is yet to be purchased. 

All that stuff is on it’s way...and it makes me giddy to think we’ll have Christmas in May.  But that’s not all.  Today, I shopped for and purchased a new laptop.  Actually, I’ve been shopping for a new laptop since at least last November.  Mine is approaching six years old.  The paint is worn off E, S, and D.  There are things I can’t do with this laptop (mostly when making instructional videos) because the processor speed is too slow and the video card is too old.  Not only that, this old laptop is 5.5 pounds.  The new one will be less than 4.  That’s not much difference, but when you’re lugging a laptop around for long, it’s a huge difference.  The new machine has an SSD – it will be lightning in comparison to my SATA sloth hard drive.

As if that were not enough thrill for one day, I went to two greenhouses and bought four flats of plants and two pots of columbine.  I can spend an entire day strolling through a greenhouse. Someone declined to come with, thank the good Lord.  He would have been bored to death.  I came home with green peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, butternut squash (something new to try), snapdragons, impatiens, begonias, alyssum, verbena, and zinnias.  I have morning glory, lettuce, and radish seeds to plant, and also, we grow beans and corn from seeds.  I will plant the morning glories this weekend, and start setting out flowers. Someone always wants to wait until June to plant the vegetable seeds – we have to do Myrtle Beach in July every year.  We can’t agree on things in the big garden...so mostly it’s his garden because of that.  I did finally convince him last year that watering in the evening causes fungus to grow and ruins everything. 

Beautiful columbine growing wild along the Michael Tygart trail, Greenbo Lake State Park
When the governor opens the state more, Sarah and I are going shopping for my birdbath, and a peony, and perhaps some perennials.  I bought columbine today – these are perennials.  The two I set out last fall (deep discounted because it was end of season) did not survive the winter.  Alas, we will try again. 

The hummingbirds are back and there seems to be many more visiting the feeder this year.  The woodpeckers love sugar water as much as the hummers do.  This year, we are seeing lots of bluebirds in our backyard.  This inspired me to order mealworms and a feeder designed for serving up mealworms.  The birdbath with fountain is for the hummers, but other birds will likely use it.  My son-in-law gifted me with a birdhouse for Christmas – he made it himself.  I hung it early this week which may be too late for this year, but it’s available now for any creature who wants shelter.  I have another birdhouse made out of a gourd.  There might be something nesting in it, but it’s pretty much hidden from view and I haven’t checked it this spring. 

New birdhouse built by my son-in-law
One of the things I love about working from home is filling the bird feeders in the morning and watching the birds and squirrels while working.  That, and spending days with Gracie and Molly makes the best possible work environment.  I’m living the dream, but unfortunately, it's because of the pandemic. 

Miss Molly loves watching birds and squirrels out my window too