Friday, July 31, 2009

A reason to bake today

There was a large zucchini sitting on the counter at work, fresh from the garden right outside the door. I had watched it grow and thought the yellow stripes in it were pretty. Gary picked it and since nobody wanted to take the monstrosity home, I volunteered. I thought I could make some good zucchini bread with it and I was right. The one grated squash was large enough to make two yummy loaves, one for home and one to take to work. But oh will just have to take my word for it since I do not have any pictures! I love garden veggies.

Thursday, July 30, 2009


Arriving daily in my email inbox is a classic poem of the day courtesy of I enjoy them, and they make me think that poetry is more to be savored by adults who have lived a bit rather than for the students who labor over their style and meaning in English class. I had probably not read Poe's sad Annabel Lee since seventh grade nor Elizabeth Barrett Browning's love sonnet since college. The Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll is a masterpiece of originality and in modern vernacular a "hoot" with all of its made up, onomatopoeic words such as vorpal, bandersnatch, uffish. It was taught to me by my daddy when I was a little girl. I suppose he liked it quite a bit and knew I would too.

Here are a few lines from another in the mailbox, the midsection of Rudyard Kipling's oft quoted poem If:

. . . . If you can dream and not make dreams your master,
if you can think and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop to build 'em up with worn out tools . . . .
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it
And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Decisions, decisions

Another event of the week was that my wonderfully reliable Impala would not start one night when I was expecting it to take me home from work as it had done for nine years. As it turned out, the battery was stone cold dead. Though that was easily replaceable some other problems were not, and I realized the time had come to trade the old gal in for a newer model. Sad but true. After a weekend of studying, pondering, and much discussion, we made a couple of decisions and now have newer used cars in our driveway. If I had a fairy godmother I may have chosen a new Genesis or Volvo, but in real life, I am responsible. Time will tell if we have made good decisions, but my gut feeling is that we have. They would make Dave Ramsey proud.

Back on track

I am sitting happily at my little spot in the corner of the room where my computer and my muse reside, and at last all is well. Over the past week or so I was derailed by a few minor traumas some of which were computer related. The monitor had been flickering, fluorescing, and giving off op art designs for months, so I finally bought a new one. That was a good thing, but just as I was adapting to it, some weird goings on in my computer suggested a virus. Now that it has been cured and cleaned, I hope to get back to the hobby of blogging (and of course playing a few rounds of spider solitaire.)

Yes...thankfully this corner spot that was left lifeless has come alive again. I missed it. I like it as it is a place with few distractions and a friendly old swivel chair to hold me. It is where I feel comfortable enough to let my mind ramble and maybe write a bit. I am not so sure about the muse, but I need all the help I can get. Writing does not come easily to me. I have to work at it, but I enjoy the work. The challenge I made to myself to blog daily whenever possible has sent me to some other computers where I can fulfill my duty, but it was like cooking in someone else's kitchen. Now my muse and I can keep chugging along - at least until the next glitch.

Friday, July 24, 2009

The Mother of all Bugs

I heard crackling in the grass and at first wondered if there was a snake nearby. When I looked under the shrub I saw this huge bug struggling in last year's dried brown leaves. I cleared a small area for him, pulled off the little twigs that were bending one wing, and he let me kneel close to him and snap some pix. His (or her) rounded, bulky body looked to be about an inch and a half long, and the wings stretched out well beyond it. Green bands on the bottom of the wings and around the head or thorax that could pass for grass helped to camouflage him. This must be one of the many insects that preceded man on the planet. It is a dog day cicada.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Making a difference

The the need for hospitalization is established, the room is cleaned, the orders are begun, the patient settles in, receives treatment, and when stable enough is discharged. Over and over and over. It feels that we are in a constant state of flux with the focus switching to the new patient as soon as the old one is out the door. Many hurting people who are at their most helpless and neediest move into and out of our work lives. While they are with us we do what we can but we rarely hear the real results, if their lives have been helped as a result of their stay. I was pleased this week to hear some positive feedback from a parent of a former patient and a former patient herself. It seems we as a team do help people recover and renew their mental and physical health after all. I was glad for them but also it was one of those warm, fuzzy feeling for me.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Good News Remembered

We are having another what were you doing when kind of day. Forty years ago, we were still in the Cold War with our arch adversary Russia and the space race was one of the tests of supremacy. They had beaten us to the punch with Sputnik years earlier, but Kennedy promised we would be the first to reach the moon. And it was so.

Mid July of 1969 the world was waiting expectantly for America's Apollo 11 to land on the moon, that romantic round light in the night sky, and wondering if the astronauts would arrive safely and what they would find. When Neil Armstrong proclaimed "The Eagle has landed," we breathed easier but continued to stay attentively tuned to Walter Cronkite's resonant and comforting voice on our black and white televisions. He would be the one to tell the world when the spaceship hatch would open and the astronauts would get out. Around midnight in my Charlotte home, I woke my sleeping four and half year old so he could witness history with me. It was a good thing as he remembers the moment to this day. We watched as the dark screen lightened showing Armstrong stepping down and planting his foot on the lunar surface.

It was a magnificent event. Now there is talk that was all a hoax. I wasn't there and don't know. I prefer to think of it as one's of man's best scientific achievements.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

To our health!

Sadly another week of having Jacob around has come to an end. We met his dad at the lake, which is close to a midpoint between our homes, for the exchange. I passed Jacob to him and he brought me some goodies, a big piece of Paige's birthday cake, (Happy Birthday yesterday!) some nice eggs, and this square of wheatgrass that he bought at a farmer's market. Now that was exciting! I have had shots of fresh squeezed wheatgrass juice at Whole Foods in larger cities and frequently take barley grass in capsules and in powder, and I can feel the difference when I do. I consider it eating my vegetables. Right now I am not sure how I will be using the wheatgrass since I don't have one of those massive juicers, but I will look it up and learn. Father and son.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Peach Season

Here in the upstate of SC are many peach orchards that make us the second largest peach producing state (after California). When my big boys were growing up in Spartanburg, it was a right of passage to work at one of them in the summer, mostly packing the fruit for shipping. I have always thought of peaches as delicate fruits since they bruise fairly easily and have a short span of perfection, unlike an apple which can stay edible for a long time. Peaches can be sliced and frozen, blended and added to baked recipes (peach bread), baked in a pie or cobbler, but I think why waste a delicious peach by cooking it! I like to slip the skin off after dipping it for a sec in boiling water and eating it as is. One of the pleasures of summer.


I sorta liked this picture I took Sunday of people I did not know, probably a daddy and his little boy enjoying the summer day.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Watching Dragonflies

Jacob seems to have the opinion that I am a little over the top about my dragonflies. It's just that I am more of a city girl, and though I knew dragonflies existed, I had never really seen them before. I told him when he gets to be my age, he can be eccentric about something of his own choosing. I think I have only two dragonflies, both with turquoise eyes and a blue thorax (a blue dasher), but one with a blue abdomen and one with a black abdomen. (I learned the body parts on line.) I have never seen them together, but for the past week, I have been seeing one or the other perched atop a decaying iris flower or a stiff leaf near my driveway. I can spot their iridescent wings from a distance. Dragonflies are carnivores, and I think the sunny location is where they can best find spiders. I have enjoyed taking pictures of them. They actually will let me get close and seem to pose. Sometimes they zip up and away, and in awe I watch their aerial maneuvers and landings back on their helipad. If I haven't been able to get great photos, it is my fault. They have given me many opportunities.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Today's Breakfast

Jacob suggested we have waffles today using the Waring pro iron that he remembered from years ago. After a diligent search, he found it in the corner of a base cabinet and pulled it out. We made the batter - using the secret ingredient of yogurt - and topped them with some of the beautiful blueberries we got at a roadside stand on Sunday.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

A Day at the Park

I feel like I am taking a page from Paige's blog. I told her that when she finished nursing school, her life as she knows it is over. At least that was how it was for me, but there were other major factors, too. At any does change when new careers start, and she has started working some night shifts. I remember how disoriented I felt and how much I needed sleep but couldn't get it. Maybe Paige feels the same awful way. So Stuart took the kids out for the day so she could have a quiet house to sleep in hopefully, and we met them in Asheville at Lake Julian for a picnic. The hubby took his Cherokee grill and we cooked hamburgers and hot dogs and had watermelon. The weather was perfect. We rented paddle boats and Ashley and John fed the ducks and geese - there were hundreds - and squished the mud between their toes and fingers.Ashley is best at looking pretty. She will be seven next month and is getting her grown up front teeth.When it was time to go, Jacob came with us. I am always glad to have him around. I hope my sweet daughter-in-law got some sleep while I enjoyed the family we share.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Lasting Impressions

Once a patient of mine wisely stated, "We aren't put here to stay," so it isn't like we expect people to live forever. But I was saddened this week when I read of the "passing" - as it is said now - of a friend of mine from another place and time. I have thought often of Fran through the years, when I place the ornament she made on the Christmas tree, when I make the casserole I first ate at her house, and I always thought of her when I cooked rice for my old dog, because she did it for hers. She may not even have remembered that she did any of those things, but it is what I took from her. She was a good woman. When we are younger, we watch and learn from other women, especially those a little older as she was, and some of those practices become our own. We don't know when we will see someone for the last time, but pieces of many people who have passed through our lives come to reside and remain in us.

Thursday, July 9, 2009


I saw this cute dragonfly right outside my door today. The black in the background is not a night sky but the car. I am getting into these cartoon looking bugs.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Tragedy and Treatment

Many people around the upstate of SC have been stressed, saddened and angered by the tragic murders of five residents over the past ten days, but we can now breathe easy. Late today it looked like the "spree killer" was shot and killed himself while robbing a home. At this time I know nothing about him. Maybe he was mean and without a conscience. Maybe he was severely mentally ill and off his medicine. Maybe he wanted to "suicide by cop" because he knew he would be caught. We will find out soon. But it reminded me of the good that we mental health workers do, and hopefully we prevent some bad things from happening. I once did an initial interview with a middle aged male who coldly and without expression said that he wanted to kill someone, anyone, but particularly a transient who didn't have any family connections. Often the patients we take care of who have vivid and violent voices that direct them to evil. Others are so bitter against a person whom they feel has wronged them that they want to destroy them. Of course all systems are flawed, but we have probably helped to prevent a few tragedies.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Perennials. Gotta love 'em.

My neighbor was having some work done in his yard a couple of months ago, and I recognized a couple of perennials that would soon find themselves in the compost heap. Oh no - I said to myself. What a waste! "May I have these," trying not to sound as if I were begging. He is not a gardener and did not know their potential or want to mess with moving them, so - OK. So I took the two piles of dirt with green sprouts to my messy backyard, planted and watered them, and now the perennials are blooming.
This yellow one is butterfly weed, asclepsia. I haven't seen any butterflies on it so far, but the bees and other insects sure like it. Here is some sort of fly on a little bud.Here is a balloon flower, platycodon, which is pretty and delicate in its pre-opening puffy state and still lovely when the bloom opens as in this picture.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy Birthday, America

Two hundred and thirty three today. My how you have grown! You have way outlived the founding fathers and patriotic mothers who gave you birth, and here you are still relatively young. What would they say if they could see you now? What would they be proud of, and what would they roll over in their graves about? There is much to love about you, your magnificent land bound on both sides by rolling, shining seas, the way you have provided love and safety to the multitudes who have sought you, but you have listened to too many voices who were out to destroy the noble concept that you are. Your generosity and desire for liberty have come with a dark side, and countless numbers have abused you. Some of us who remember you at your best now feel powerless and do not know how to help you. Where are you headed, America? Civilizations have come and gone. We the people are born, we live out our years and can see how the courses of our lives can change with one decision; we die and others come to take our place. Everything has a life expectancy and it will be so for you. But today we celebrate and recognize the good you have done and the beauty that is yours. Happy Birthday, America!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Thursday, July 2, 2009

A woman's work is never done

Later in her life my mother told me she had figured out that we get everything we want, just not everything at the same time. That's given me something to think about. I have found that if her philosophy relates to housekeeping, it is true. Many years ago, when it was the thing to do whether we could afford it or not, we had a maid. That time has long passed. It has been up to me for decades. I wish I had the ability to get all the house pretty and clean in unison, outside and inside. Is that too much for one woman to ask of herself? Apparently. I do try to keep the bathrooms clean, but the rest? One task at a time. If I have all the laundry done, then the house needs vacuuming, or there is a big pile of stuff that must be sorted and put away. What's worse...I find that it is mostly the small jobs that loom over me that are the most difficult to get around to doing. You get the picture. On and on and on...

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


Half the year gone? Where does the time go?
It's a reminder that we must live in the present, but learn from the past, and plan for the future.