A place for family and friends to see what I'm up to. Visitors welcome here.

Hail Guest, we ask not what thou art.
If Friend, we greet thee, hand and heart.
If Stranger, such no longer be.
If Foe, our love will conquer thee.
-Old Welsh Door Verse

Wednesday, August 10, 2016


Gotta be around here.

At the end of the last school year, I was contacted by the district and asked to do a presentation at their tech ed camp at the end of summer.  It's in a couple of weeks, but if I want them to do my copies for participants, the originals are due this Friday the 12th.  Today is the day I set aside to do the preliminary outlines and pull together the masters to email to the person who will arrange the duplication.

Unfortunately, I can't get into the district system from home.  No configuration of my log-in works, and the password I'm pretty sure I changed to at the end of the last year does not work (even messing with all the possible capitalization options.)

Oh, well.

I can pick up my keys Monday and will just run my own stuff.  No biggie.

And now I have a day that wasn't supposed to be mine.

Hot cha.

I'm about a half day away from having my studio at it's delightful most elegant and useable best.  So I'll do that next.

For now, though, I thought I'd do a REAL catch-up post as the summer winds to a close.

Most of the summer had flown by before I was able to take Mom to Disneyland on a day where we could stay for the All American College Band performances.  We finally made it.  When we debriefed it a few days later she said it hadn't been a good visit, but I thought it was great.  The weather turned out to be pleasant (the previous week had been a scorcher), the higher admission prices seem to be controlling the crowds some so it was easier to maneuver the wheelchair around and we had some nice entertainment all day.

As always, we started with breakfast at the Carnation CafĂ© and a stroll through the Emporium.  My goal was to keep us as cool as possible by moving from one air-conditioned location to another until the AACB's Flag Retreat set.  This was a Tuesday, so we didn't know who would be on the ragtime piano.  Until we have that information, we can't decide on the schedule for the day, so once we'd
had our fill of shopping we headed up to the Coke Corner to see who was playing.  No name was posted on the marquee yet, so I suggested we head to Frontierland to the Golden Horseshoe.  It usually opens about 11:30 with the first set of Laughing Stock at noon, but sometimes we get lucky and get to see some of the traditional Disneyland Band members in new roles in a western tavern combo show before Laughing Stock.

We got there just after 11:00 and the saloon was already open with a happy surprise for us.  Ragtime Michael, our favorite piano player, was doing a set of honky-tonk ragtime in the Golden Horseshoe.  Then, shortly after he finished, the combo we'd hoped to see took the stage.

Back story:  During the 50th anniversary of Disneyland I got the folks to buy annual passports and made sure we all got to enjoy the Happiest Homecoming on Earth together.  The best thing we did was to skip most of the rides and instead move from one musical venue to another.   For a while Dad's favorite was the Side Street Strutters because he was so impressed with tubist John Noreyko.  After a while, the Strutters were dissolved and some of the musicians, including Noreyko, became part of the Jambalaya Jazz group.  Unfortunately, that was a wandering minstrel show whose set times and locations were not posted, and it was too difficult for the three of us - Dad in his 80s and Mom in her wheelchair - to plunk ourselves somewhere to enjoy them.  If we did manage to catch them somewhere, they had a female singer who was consistently flat and who, in our opinions, ruined the show.  So, we stopped trying to even hear them.

We did, however, keep up with the traditional Disneyland Band and Toby the bass trombone player took the "favored musician" spot for my dad.  We always tried to get a seat on the brass section side of the band in concert so we could really hear Toby play.

I had the added delightful experience of being chosen to read the introductions for the Saturday "Let's Go to the Movies" set which featured music from Disney animated movies.  I got to sit in the director's chair right next to Toby, who kept me in giggles throughout the set.  He is, as it turns out, a very funny fellow and it really comes out in this Golden Horseshoe show.

After their set, it was time for Laughing Stock.  Ragtime Michael transmogrifies into Michael T. Pettibone to get everyone clapping and stomping (sort of, maybe) and then the comedy begins.  It was a cute show that I hadn't seen yet.

There's something about his guy.  I dunno, maybe if I added a big nose...
Because we were as interested in the air conditioning as the entertainment, we stayed for a second show which was one I had seen many times, then wandered over to the Pizza Port for a Darth by Chocolate parfait and something to drink.  Afterward we wandered back to the Coke Corner for a little piano.  It turned out that the Tuesday piano player is the same as the usual Saturday piano player, who is not our least favorite but also who does not put much effort into his performance.  I come from a family of human metronomes and so this guy getting off beat - frequently - makes us twitchy and we don't last long.  We did stay, though, for Musical Chairs.  It wasn't Mom's Favorite Hatter (it was her Alice, however) but all the Hatters do a good job so we enjoyed the show.  When they were done, Hatter and Alice came over to where we were sitting for the autograph and photo session and it was lovely to watch them, especially the darling Alice, interact with the folks.  I had read once that  part of the character audition was improv storytelling and these two are awesome at it.

Mom wanted to see the Flag Retreat, but we were still pretty early so we stood by the firehouse for a set with our former DL Band slash Golden Horseshoe combo slash Firehouse Four +1 +1 friends.  Just as they finished, the Soundsational Parade started across Town Square.  It turned out to be kind of a nice, shady place to enjoy the parade, which we haven't seen for months.  I doubt Mom could see much - I could only see the tops of the floats as it was - but we could enjoy the music.

It turned out to be an interesting vantage point to play with the telephoto.


When did they add the girls to this float?

I think I would have noticed if they'd had my faeries flying around this tower from the parade launch!

As always, the parade ends with my beloved chimney sweeps.  I couldn't actually see the dancers, but am tickled that I was at least able to catch this kick.

After the parade we snagged our seat for the flag retreat (touching, as always) and then for the All American College Band. 

Mom took advantage of the lull to do some calendaring for the upcoming week.  She may have taken a little nap.  Maybe.

And then they were there!  Some new arrangements this year.  A new "Jungle Book" medley and a different Michael Jackson medley.

The always enthusiastic, always charming Dr. Ron McCurdy.  Mom told me the next week that she was a little offended on my behalf because McCurdy included some of us "Old School" guests - one at a time, starting with me - in his intro of my favorite Earth, Wind and Fire medley.  I told her later that I was actually flattered.  When EWaF was a force on the music scene I was finishing my third year of college, getting married and having kids.  Completely missed them.  Dr. Ron was including me with people a full decade younger.  I'll take it.

We left the Park right after the AACB set, which earned us a limotram ride back to the parking area.

Back home, things have been restful and quiet.  Actually a stellar summer with limited drama and lots of time doing the things I love most.

I managed to pretty much keep my gardens alive through another summer with isolated weeks of extreme heat.  Oh, my, am I appreciating living close to the Pacific!   Right now, and for the last several days, the temperature is perfect for summer puttering.  Some highlights:

Alexandra Stephanotis is STILL blooming all along her length.  This has never happened before.  She usually shows one flush and that's it.

I had a passion vine covering the trellis I built in the Faerie Garden for a few years, then lost it.  I bought a couple more young plants from Annie's Annuals in Richmond and am optimistic that their third year will find them making their way up the slats again next summer.  But for the last three years, it's been bare as they are being kind of pokey (probably because some rodent chewed them down the first year).  Anyway, last year at Roger's Gardens I picked up this one-gallon vine with a bud that was showing blue.  It was labeled only "blue" but I thought it might be one like the slowpoke in the faerie garden so I bought it.  I at least was smart enough to wait until it bloomed before actually giving it a permanent home.  It is NOT the plant I thought it was and, to be honest, I'm not fond of this bloom.  So, I didn't plant it in the faerie garden but put it in a large pot and placed it next to the front plant rack.  In one year it has climbed up the rack and is very pleasing.  I like it here.  And - I'm happy to say - so do the gulf fritillary butterflies, one of whom I saw laying eggs on it yesterday.

Aside from an attack by slugs or snails, the brugmansias I grew from cuttings are doing well in this spot.  Again, it's been a challenge to keep them watered in the heat and they show some damage, but they are still alive and so I am grateful.  I'm planning to clear a planter in my south side yard as a permanent home for these potted trees.  They should be spectacular along the walkway there next year.

One victim of the heat was the original geum "Totally Tangerine" that I had growing here.  Fortunately, I have several in the front yard.  I dug one up to transplant here.  Geum are a plant that needs to be divided anyway.  This is one of the small "daughters" from the "mother" plant. 

"Although she be but little, she is fierce!"

Now, if can just keep her going through the fall heat, I should have flowers next spring.

Added benefit:  I got four more little girls to pop into the ground somewhere.  I do think, though, that at least one needs to be in a large pot in the sunset garden.

Happy to report that milkweed it coming up everywhere.  Perfectly fine with me.   I have no problem with being surrounded by beautiful Monarch butterflies, especially if they are giving away kisses like the one I got in the spring.

This one is growing in my Cara Cara orange pot.  The orange doesn't seem to be suffering, but I will have to remove the milkweed if it seems to be stunting the orange.
There are even plants coming up in the Faerie Garden.  They don't exactly match my color scheme in this bed but, hey.  Butterflies outside my bedroom window.  Not a bad thing.

Brugmansia "Peach."  So crazy about these things.  Gorgeous flowers, delicious fragrance and easy to grow from cuttings.  I think I'm up to close to a dozen varieties.  Want to order some more come fall.

Something new this year.  My little birds don't fly away when I come into the garden.  Such a compliment.  And the hummers...  I have a pair of hummingbirds that use a feeder in this yard.  One morning I was watering and the male came to the feeder, all decked out in bright metallic red waistcoat and top hat for a drink, and then he flew to me and hovered about 18 inches from my face for a full three seconds before flying off.  He was immediately followed by the missus, a little more plainly dressed, who also sipped, then came to about 18 inches from my face for a full three seconds before heading back home.

One on the feeder, one on the house hanger.  See them?

Continuing into my territory in the back yard, I am thrilled with the results of my work this summer.  The pond is a daily pleasure, and my new plants are growing nicely.  This is "Mayla" a water lily with a bright magenta flower.  She has bloomed once already, and continues to put out more and more leaves.  Seems like I'd be stating the obvious, but  I've invested in lilies that have not adjusted so well in the past, so this is fantastic.  I have hopes to see her fill a good part of the pond by next year.  She is a hardy water lily, so should survive our relatively mild winter just fine.

I'm secretly pleased with the result of a mistake I made in choosing this purple plant.  It is ruellia, a native from Mexico.  A contractor I worked with a few years ago saw it and said, "That will take over your yard," and it turns out he's probably right.  Since then I've tried digging it out and even - shhhh - put Round-up on it (before we all learned the truth).  But, it is doing great.  I guess I lucked out and bought a sterile plant.  I've never seen seed pods and have no seedlings anywhere that I've noticed (the plant is over 15 years old).  But it spreads by rhizomes that I try to dig up when it invades the walkways.

About five years ago I planted a salvia "Hot Lips" in the same planter.  The two plants have hit it off and each has spread into the other, producing this fabulous  red, white and "blue" effect.  This space gets very little water, but they seem to be flourishing on the oversplash by the pond.  The good news is that the tortoises eat the ruellia, so a couple of times during the summer I can cut it back for them and it comes back looking fresh and happy.

All of the water plants I added to the pond are doing well this summer.  The water hyacinths have spread from two small plants to several larger.  In the container that catches the flow from their barrel, the water lettuce has also grown from two small heads to almost filling their area.  Now, if I can just get the lotus I want come March, it will be complete.

Last week I spend a couple of hours taking advantage of my sister-in-law's talent and expertise as a painter of rocks (which she sells).  My first attempt is not nearly as spectacular as hers, but I learned some tips and techniques and look forward to adding some treasures to my gardens as she has to her own.

Goosebump time!  Yes, I am that thrilled. 

This is the area I call the Sunset Garden.  It is outside my studio window.  The studio that is painted in three different shades of the colors of the sunset that I can sometimes enjoy from the studio window.  At certain times of the year it's like actually being in the sunset back there.  After a year of that thrill, I decided I wanted a garden filled with plants that bloomed in the oranges and orangey-pinks of the sunset and have been collecting ever since.

Disneyland roses.  Brugmansia "Peach" and "Charles Grimaldi."  Bearded iris "Coral Charmer."  Miniature roses in bright orange.  Abutilon 'Orange Hot Lava,' again from Annie's Annuals.  And, of course, the orange milkweed to attract the orange butterflies.

I visited a couple of different water garden nurseries searching for a peachy colored water lily for this container, but couldn't find what I wanted.  Finally I ordered one called 'Georgia Peach' from Lily Blooms Aquatic Gardens.

I couldn't believe what I received from them in the mail.  A big, healthy lily with a half dozen leaves and a thick clump of healthy roots sealed in a plastic bag.  The instructions said to plant it with food immediately and set it shallowly in the water.  I couldn't get to it immediately, but within the week had planted it and sank it - shallowly - in this container.  One by one, the leaves died.  Finally, I remembered that I had not fed it, so tracked down some aquatic plant food, pulled the pot, stuffed it with food and lowered it a little deeper into the container.  A couple of weeks later the last leaf died off, and I beat myself up for not following the directions better.

Four days later - FOUR DAYS LATER - I went out and counted fourteen -FOURTEEN- tiny leaves floating on the water.  It's been popping leaves ever since.  I'm so thrilled.  A little worried that I might have to choose another container, but for now I'm just going to enjoy the abundance.

My tree milkweed is WAY over my head.  I've seen caterpillars feeding on it as well.

The heat has really affected the blooming of the brugmansias.  This one is in the Sunset Garden and bloomed all summer last year.  These things don't bloom until the stems create a "Y."  This is the first Y of this season.  I'm hoping for blooms but they sure are late.

Charles Grimaldi grew to this size from a 1-gallon plant purchase last fall.  He needs feeding (again) but you can see the nice orange flower in the right.  He's been blooming all summer.  Wonderful fragrance.

I still have quite a lot to do with what little summer I have left.  I need to make up a batch of potting soil and pot up some brugs into larger pots.  Also bought a dwarf pomegranate for the Sunset garden, and want to divide the alstromeria that's has been so luscious this summer.  I still want to tidy the Faerie Garden (never got done last year, either) and the south side yard (which needs mulch, too, before I can make the container garden I want there.)  The entire front yard needs maintenance "in the gloaming" as my SIL says.  I did a lot of work out there last year and the layer of mulch I installed around the roses did the trick to keep the spring grass and weeds out.  But the despised Bermuda needs to be pulled out, as usual, and the roses groomed.  I may go ahead and feed them for another flush before winter.

Inside my focus has been on the studio.  I've been in this room for three years now and have never gotten it to the point where I can just walk in and start working.  It is now only hours away from being able to do that, and I will be heading there after I finish this novella.

My little Maleficent collection has a new member.   Please share (you know who you are.)

Must share.  A few years ago my SIL, a big fan of ETSY, gave me a set of Flower Fairy wooden die cuts for Christmas.  I bought a set of tiny clothespins and glued the fairies to them.  When I put the studio together, I tacked white grosgrain ribbon across the massive middle closet door.  I use the clothespins to hang all kinds of wonderful things from those ribbons.  Inspirational pictures, wooden die cut treasures, quilt blocks and, of course, pictures of loved ones.

For my birthday this year she gave me die cuts of Rose O'Neill kewpies (I've collected O'Neill art and dolls for over forty years).  On one magical day in the summer of cleaning this space I managed to bring together the Kewpies, the clothespins and a long-lost hot glue gun.  SO cute.

I had planned to write this summer.  And enjoy the stack of books that I had stacked for summer reading over the course of the year.  And I had every intention of beginning Julia Cameron's newest program, Never Too Late to Begin Again. 


I had a bit of an epiphany this summer.  All my life I've been a reader.  I remember my third grade teacher telling my mother that he had gone to the junior high to pick up something for me to read because I'd moved beyond the rest of the class.  As a kid, as an adolescent and later as an adult I jumped from one novel to another.

The last six years have been all about transformation.  Non-fiction.  Read with highlighters and sticky tabs and pencil scratchings in the margins.

So, I was looking forward to reading fiction this summer.  Drienie Hattingh's Forever Friends.  Kenneth Roberts' Arundel. 

I can't.

I get about three pages into whatever, and the siren calls.  "You could have your hands in the dirt."  "You could be stitching."  "Remember the quilt?"  I've contacted (and spent time with) more friends and family this summer than in the previous handful of summers together.  I take my mom to her quilt club meeting every Thursday.  She's known these women for over forty years.  What a gift they have been to her.  And now to me.

Twenty some years ago I had a dream.  I dreamed I was in my eighties and tucked into bed.  The dream me knew that I would not wake in this world again the next morning.  I was not afraid.  I lie there, thinking back over my life.  I was happy, smiling.

Six years ago - at about this time - a friend wrote in a facebook conversation that he had not taken the time to explore facebook.  Knowing something about his schedule, I wrote back, "You have a great big life."  His answer to me was, "Do you imagine that you don't?"  It brought me up short.  I have never forgotten it.

When I woke up from that dream twenty years ago, I vowed to create a life for myself that would make me smile when I looked back on it.  I kind of slacked on that until my friend reminded me of my "great big life."

I realize now, that for all my years as a reader, novels were an escape from what was a small, isolated, often unhappy life.

Plenty of time later - when I'm not so mobile, not so energetic - for novels.  For now, I will listen to the siren that keeps calling me back into my great big life.

1 comment:

Sweets T said...

The girls were thrilled to see Lego Mal hanging out with her friends. Also, I remember the fairies on the float. At least from this year, if not the year before. I remember thinking it was such a special little detail. Can't wait to watch it with you again in a few months! XO