Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Gardens...part 2

Last weekend 2 of my granddaughters spent some time with me while their parents had a weekend getaway. These 2 girls are full of energy and I thought it would be good to use some of that exuberance up outside so we went to the Japanese Gardens. While I posted photos of pretty flowers and beautiful scenery earlier this week, I didn't show you what they were up to.....

Since I had to work Friday and Saturday morning they stayed with their Aunt Rachel. When I arrived to pick them up they were outside playing a wizarding game they'd made up.

We packed their stuff in the trunk and we were off, stopping on the way into the Gardens at the gift shop where my friend works....but we didn't stay long...well long enough to try on all the jewelry, play the percussion instruments, check out the neat little thatched cottage domajigger and generally make me pretty nervous.

So, on to the garden. Study the big map. Stop at a planter to finger the tulips. Swing a minute while Gramma takes some pictures. Run, don't walk through the woodland area. Argue with one another over nothing.

Pose for pictures by making crazy faces at the camera. Ignore the "Stay on the Pathway" notices. Pause in wonder when noticing a bonsai bush.

Really sit and contemplate the raked meditation garden. Listen while I tell them about poems called haikus. We make up one together. Avery decides to write her own and proceeds to do just that. Begs me to let her take some of the rocks home so she can rake her own garden of rocks.

Find some other children. Become instant friends. Run through a hole in the bamboo bushes. Find a "mummy and a sarcophagus" and run back out screaming. (did I mention their great imaginations?)

Discover huge Koi in the lake. Spend 30 minutes lying on the rocks trying to catch minnows and tadpoles. Have the umpteenth fight at the red bridge. Explore a thicket of bamboo. Ring the big bell/gong.....a million times, until I finally had to get onto them. Cry and say they want their parents. I tell them tough..."you just have to mind me!"

We hobble, I hobble-they're fine, back to the car. We stop on the way home for Mexican. We drag all their stuff up the steps and into the house. I collapse into the chair. I'm done for the day!

The breeze is blowing
the glassy rocks glittering
they make me calmAlign Center

Monday, March 29, 2010

Mag 7

the daffodil

swaying dancers nimble
with wind timed movement
bowing low, springing back
swirl about the garden
in a sunny Conga line.

harbingers of summer's approach
hot days of fecund growth
flowers dirty dancing
in unrestricted abandon...
daffodils herald it all.

For more Magpie tales click here.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Saturday in the Gardens...part I

The Japanese Garden is part of the Birmingham Botanical Gardens, which includes a conservatory, the Southern Living garden, two rose gardens, a herb terrace, as well as a wildflower garden and more.

After a short walk down a woodland pathway one reaches the entrance to the 7.5 acre Japanese garden. Enter through the red torii (gate to heaven) and wander along the pathway. It will lead you past a 16th-century Sukiya-style tea house, a karesansui garden with its bed of raked gravel, and the Long Life Lake.

There are many benches along the way where one can rest and enjoy the extraordinary views. Which is exactly what I did!

Char at ramblins... did the same thing yesterday. Pop over to her blog to see her beautiful pictures.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Awareness Test

Have you seen this sure to watch it all.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Lake Geneva

My maternal Bigmother, as we knew her, loved to travel. She would take off alone or with a child in tow to travel across the country in order to visit friends or relatives. My mother recently gave me a large envelope full of Bigmother's postcards. This is a postcard folder which she sent, from Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, to her youngest son in 1952, two years before my birth. Bigmother was middle-aged when she had my Uncle Don. He was the caboose of 6 children, my mother being the 5th and 9 years older than her baby brother.

The postcard describes Lake Geneva as having "charming scenery and excellent facilities for outdoor sports." In addition, there was a "picturesque auto-drive of thirty miles completely encircling the lake." Red Cross life guards patrolled the beaches, making it a safe place for children. There was a library open to summer guests and golfing for dad. One could fish, sail, go motor-boating or hiking as well. The second largest (in 1952) astronomical observatory in America, Yerkes Observatory was located at Williams Bay, Lake Geneva.

There was even a wild-flower and native-tree preserve to be found at Lake Geneva, which I am positive my Bigmother made sure to visit. She was a life-long lover of gardening. When I was a child her backyard was one big winding flowerbed. The only grass was the pathway. She was a long time member of her local gardening club as well as one of its past presidents.

If you care to read more about Lake Geneva, Wisconsin click here.

This post is a combination of Postcard Friendship Friday and Sepia Saturday.
Please visit both sites to read more posts like this one.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Chocolatey Party Favors

My friend Pam (on the right) asked Nancy (on the left) and I (behind the camera) to help her make these cute party favors for a mother/daughter banquet in April. I thought some crafty blogger out there might like to try this if you have an event coming up and want a cute favor to giveaway at the end of the evening.

Craft glue
Patterned scrapbook paper (heavy weight works the best)
Assorted matching ribbon
Hole punch
Stickers, punches, die-cut shapes...anything decorative
Hershey chocolate bars

Cut the paper into rectangles large enough to fold over candy bars adding 1/4th inch on the long side of rectangle and 1/2 inch on the shorter side. Score for the folds. Fold into a rectangular shape around the candy bar.

Apply a thin bead of craft glue. Press together until tacky. The seam can be further secured by using a sticker to hold together. We used address labels with a Bible verse and the name of the event on each. Remove the candy bar.

Use hole punch and put two or three holes in a row about one inch from one end of the rectangle. Insert ribbon through both sides.

Insert the candy bar into the end with the ribbon. The ribbon will wrap around the bar and form a holder which when pulled will pull the candy bar out of the holder.

Tie the ribbon into a cute bow and trim the ends. Decorate the box with stickers or glue or decorative shapes.

Voila! Super cute party favors.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Mag 6

The Box

As the front door opened, shoppers pressed into the tiny cottage. While standing in line out front, Jennifer had heard that the elderly woman who had lived alone there had recently been moved into a nursing home by her nephew.

She was supposed to be on her way to the local home improvement store to pick up some supplies that her husband Tim needed. Building their dream home was a point they had been working and saving towards for five years. Now that the walls were up and the electrician and plumber were done with their part, Tim planned to do most of the finishing work himself. She was his official gofer. The house would be a modest three bedroom home with a craftsman flare. But, there would also be a full basement and a large attic space. Both could be built in later when extra space was needed.

After almost passing the forlorn little cottage with the estate sale sign in front, Jennifer had impulsively pulled over and joined the shoppers. She thought that she might find a cute piece of furniture to re-do for her new home.

Once inside, Jennifer quickly realized the house was much too crowded with bargain seekers to properly see anything. She noticed the door to the basement was slightly ajar and decided to start downstairs and work her way back up.

The basement was dark. One dim light hung in the middle of the space. Stacks of boxes lined the walls. A few broken or worn out pieces of furniture randomly sat here and there. In one corner was the furnace and in another the water heater.

Jennifer moved to the stack of boxes closest to the stairs and opened the one on top. Inside she saw worn out toaster, some bent kitchen utensils, kitchen towels that looked like they belonged in a rag bag and some coffee filters. Nothing here to interest her. In the next box, she found books. Tim would protest if she came back with any junk that couldn't be used or fixed for the new house. She didn't blame him. They were out of storage room in their tiny apartment. "In fact," she thought, "What am I doing here? We don't need anymore stuff right now."

As she turned to leave she noticed the small wooden box with a carved lid sitting on top of a chest of drawers. She walked over to more closely inspect the box. It looked handmade. She could tell it was old because there was rust on the hinges and latch. Delicately carved on the top was a house with the initials A and L in a small spidery script, instead of windows or doors.

Opening the box and reaching inside she lifted out a photo of a couple on what must have been their wedding day. Flipping it over she read, "Alice and Louis Royal June, 1941." He was wearing a army uniform and she a light colored suit with even lighter piping. She held a bouquet of camellias with one hand. Her other was tucked inside the crook of his arm . They smiled at each other instead of the camera.

Jennifer frowned slightly when she saw what laid beneath the wedding photo, a yellowed carton of American brand nails. Although it looked like the box had been opened, it still seemed full of nails. "Funny thing to keep in a keepsake box," she thought.

Next, she removed a bundle of letters tied with cording. They were addressed to Alice and postmarked through March 1944. Jennifer laid them aside and pulled out a another letter. This one was not in an envelope. Unfolding it she read,

"My Dearest Alice, We married only last week and already I must leave you tomorrow. I made this box for you as a promise of our life together once the war ends. Inside you'll find a carton of nails. I used a few to build this box. Save the rest until I come back. I'll use them to build a house for you and our children, just like the one you like on Maple Street. I love you. Remembering your smile and thinking of the life we'll build together will be the first and last thing I think of each day I'm away from you. Your loving husband, Louis"

The last thing the box contained was a yellow crumbling letter from the army. Scanning it quickly, Jennifer realized it held condolences and thanks for Alice's husband's service to his country. It was dated April, 1944.

Sadly, Jennifer returned the contents to the wooden box. Closing the lid, she rubbed her fingers along the lines of the carved house and initials while thinking about unfulfilled dreams and lost love.


Jennifer honked the horn for Tim to come unload the supplies from the back of the SUV. She carried the carved box into their dream home, placing it carefully on her husband's makeshift work table. She quickly told Tim the story of Alice and Louis.

Opening the lid, she pulled the old carton of nails out and handed them to Tim. "Use these" she said "on any building you do here. And before we put dry wall up, I want us to write a letter outlining our hopes and dreams about our life together in this house. We'll take our picture and put it in the box with our letter. I want to place the box in the wall like a time capsule. Maybe in another 65 years someone will find it and add their own story."

To read more Magpie Tales click here.

Quick Update

For those of you that asked, I just heard that J is doing well. She's still in the ICU and on the ventilator, but doctors were planning to remove that today. She was alert and busy writing notes when her husband was in to see her.

Please continue to add her to your prayers since she will have a long road ahead of her.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Dinner Time

It seems squirrel's love to use my front porch as their dinner plate.

Speaking of dinner, I'm cooking for the family today in honor of the St. Patrick's birthday boy. At his request, we're having chicken and dumplings and German chocolate cake.

Please take a second today and say a prayer for my friend J. I just got the news that she getting a new heart today. This is her second transplant. Her first heart lasted 26 years. Her second about 29. Please pray her third will be a good match.

Have a happy and blessed day everyone!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Fake Friends and Family Day

These handsome young chaps are my great aunts and uncles. I believe this photo was taken shortly after their return home from Africa. The family didn't hear from them for 3 years and thought they were lost on the dark continent forever when they suddenly received a trans-Atlantic phone call announcing their upcoming return home. Uncle Robert, end right in the photo, was never the same . We never were able to find out what had spooked him so badly.

This couple is cousin Jimmy and his wife Leticia. Great uncle Robert was Jimmy's granddaddy. Everyone said they were quite an odd couple. He like to keep an eye on their neighborhood through his telescope and she loved playing canasta with the 12 Ave Ladies Gardening and Social Club. Despite their differences they were devoted to each other even though it was rumored that the police kept a close watch on Uncle Jimmy because he was reported to keep an eye on more than what went on in the street with his beloved telescope...

This cute duo is Uncle Jimmy and Aunt Leticia's daughters, Sue Ann and Eva Louise. Sue Ann told me were on the way to school that morning when Uncle Jimmy had hollered down from his windowsill perch by the telescope for the girls to wait a minute while their mother ran downstairs to take this picture with her new Brownie Instamatic.

These kids were Sue Ann and Eva Louise's neighbors. They practically never went home Eva told me once. The boy's name was Johnny DeBartelaben. He had a huge crush on Sue Ann. That is Johnny's sister in the background. She had to repeat 4th grade 3 times Sue said.

Opps. I don't know how this photo made it into the mix. It's my real family. Me, Rusty and Rebecca back in the days before our hair got gray, our skin began to sag and before Rusty got a better pair of pants.

If you know any of these folks please let them know that I heart their photos. That's why I "borrowed" them off the web.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Happy Birthday to My St. Paddy's Day Boy!

thanks Google Images

This cutie turns 26 today.

But he'll always be my baby boy.

Happy Birthday T.J. and Happy St. Patrick's Day everyone!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Another Magpie Tale

In the Palm of His Hand

People said his bark was worse than his bite. But that wasn't true.

She hated to be barked at. It made her stomach hurt and her head feel woozy, both things making it hard to think straight. But the bite of his anger was worse. A lot worse.

Harsh words cut knife sharp into her, but angry punches caused bruising that reached down to her soul. Each time he started in on her, she imagined lying in a coffin of his construction. With each blow he hurled her way, he nailed the lid down, tighter and tighter until she had to suck air in great gasps.

In the beginning, his hands had been what attracted her to him. He worked hard. He worked with his hands and everything he constructed was true and straight and strong. When she fell in love with him, she'd put her hand in the palm of his hand and thought she could depend on him to take care of her forever.

Instead, he was destroying her. Word by word. Hit by hit.

She had to do this. She had to do this for herself. She had to do this before she was lost to herself forever. Crying softly, she picked it up and cradled it in her hands for a minute, then she put the phone to her ear and began to dial for help.

It was time to take her life into her own hands.

Hands caress or hit

Sooth or terrorize

Warm or chill with a gesture

Palm up signals no harm,

Balled into a fist the opposite.

Hands should create

Not destroy.


Want to read more creative writing? Click here for Magpie Tales.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Sunday Random

My first daffodils:

More observations on filling the void:

The front seat of my car on a typical day is a moving library (pink bag full of books on CD), a art studio (brown bag with blue straps ( sketch pad, Uppercase magazine, Vera book for inspiration), umbrella for sudden rain showers, brown jacket for falling temperatures, crumbled lunch sack which had my lunch in it earlier in the day, second umbrella on the floor (because you never know when you'll need a back up) empty drink cups, Bed, Bath and Beyond $5 coupon, blotter paper ( for makeup touch up) and my purse.

Work doodle:

Cute (in my humble opinion) baby headband that I whipped up to add to the gift for my niece's baby shower today.

The baby's name will be Sunny....In case you think I was so very clever in picking out the perfect gift bag...don't. It wasn't until I reread the invitation this morning that I noticed the baby's name. Duh!....Don't even ask how many times I read the directions to the house wrong today....We made it, that's all that counts.

Speaking of babies:

This little guy will be a big brother come next November.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Those Gloomy Bronte Sisters and Various Other Topics which I never Fully Explored

Okay, here's the brain is mush. All week I've been mentally lamenting the fact that there is nothing going on in the gray matter....NOTHING!

I envy Debby over at Life's Funny Like That. She recently began college...she has lots of new things to think about.

As for me, I've always been a mostly cerebral type of person. My ex husband was fond of calling me lazy (i.e. the "ex" explanation). For years I swallowed his abuse in this area thinking he was right. Everything I love doing is of a sedentary nature. One day in a moment of clarity, I realized that I may not be very physically active, but mentally my brain was always busy. So, it really bothers me to think that I'm finding so little to interest me. I need stimulation. I need challenges. I need someone who will begin an intellectual conversation with me...since at this point I'm incapable of starting the conversation myself.

Which leads me to the reason for this rant. This morning I decided to look back through my blog drafts to see if there was some post I began that I might be able to finish and post today. Nada. I do have some intriguing beginnings...

On October 14, 2009 I started this post:

Last weekend a girlfriend and I watched one of my Netflix selections, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, which was adapted from Anne Bronte's novel of the same name. While I enjoyed the movie, the gloomy nature of the piece got me to thinking about those Bronte sisters. Wuthering Heights by Emily and Jane Eyre by Charlotte as well as this movie all explore the dark depths of human nature.

Let it not be imagined,
however, that I consider myself
competent to reform the errors
and abuses of society, but only
that I would fain contribute my
humble quota towards so good an
aim; and if I can gain the
public ear at all, I would rather
whisper a few wholesome truths
therein than much soft nonsense.
-from the Author's Preface

On November 17th, 2008 I started this one titled Samuri:

Compare this to the education of the Samurai, the warriors of Japanese history. A Samurai was expected to be well versed in warfare, both through reading the works of strategists and through the use of weapons. On the other hand, writing poetry, drawing, tea preparation, meditation and flower arranging were also considered essential skills for a warrior. This is difficult for people in European cultures to fathom unless we understand that all of those skills were signs for the ephemeral nature of life, beautiful and then gone. A Samurai was like the cherry blossom; a beautiful object to behold both on the tree and floating to the ground in death; a life to be relished in the moment and released in jubilation.

Ken Watanabe

On January 1, 2009 I wrote:

I did not read a single book which the New York Times designated as the 100 Notable Books of 2008. Not a single notable book.

In my defense, I listened to a lot of books on CD. I actually read more than a few books too. At some point every year I start listing all of them....and I always quit before long. Resulting in me knowing that I read stacks of books, but having no clue what most of them were. Right now, today, I am again resolving to keep a list this year. (nope...still haven't made the list)

Yesterday, I began this one under the title Halcyon Days Gone By:

Sweet-heart necklines, prairie dresses, knee-high socks with mini skirts, mod prints, big eyelashes, board straight hair parted down the middle, bell bottom jeans with patches and embroidered flowers, hip-hugging pants, big belt buckles, puffy sleeves,

If any of these unfinished topics spark a tiny flicker or a flame of thought, a prickle of interest, a synaptic connection...please talk to me about it!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Into the Void

Ever noticed that as soon as you clean out a drawer you find new things to put into it?

Why is it that when six people lived in my home and I had only one closet to call my own that was enough? Now that it's just me my things fill two closets and spill over into two more.

When I drive to work I try to keep three or four or more car lengths between me and the car in front of me for safety's sake. But that doesn't last long before someone pulls into the open space.

Empty the trash...fill it back up. Fill bags with stuff to donate...come home with more.

Case in point: Once this was an empty lot near my office.

Last summer a dumpster and a shopping cart suddenly appear. (no office building or grocery store in sight)

Half a year later...same lot:

Filling up with trucks and junk.

But it's not pretty...why couldn't the lot be overtaken with wild flowers and babbling brooks and chirping birds and sugar and spice and everything nice?

Nature abhors a vacuum/void.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Four Things

I like these doors.

I like the name of this store.

I like this staircase.

I like slaw dogs.

Your turn. Name four things you like.