Monday, August 30, 2010

Welcome, Bee.

I am always glad to see bees, the great pollinators, in my yard. Without them, many plant species could perish including those we eat.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Cute Little Bugs

A colorful skipper and a shy mantis were out early this morning.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Venus Fly Trap

These are a couple of the leaves from an interesting little carnivorous plant that Rob and Susan brought to me this week. So far it hasn't caught a fly, but I think it could be useful during the kitchen renovation as the workers go in and out. Venus Fly Traps are indigenous to the small area that halfmoons around Wilmington's boggy, sandy soil, and when I was younger I saw them in an unpopulated area that over the past fifty years has become a hubbub of business and college life. It would be hard to find one there now, but apparently botanists have taken an interest and cultivated them so people can see what they are like.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Good Business

This past week I have made some big purchases that may not have been made if it weren't for some knowledgeable and helpful sales people. I had been looking for cars for a while and finally decided on a Volvo V50 or V70. One of those was sure to be the one. A couple of weeks ago when I went to the dealership, most of the salesmen were busy, and I was handed off to a young man who did not communicate well with me. I told him I wanted him to tell me about the Volvo and why I should buy one, and he was unable to do that. I was disappointed and postponed my decision. On Tuesday when I went to the VW/Audi dealership, I was impressed right off the bat with the place, and the salesman was exactly the one I needed. He was knowledgeable and enthusiastic, fully answered my questions, and provided all kinds of helpful additional information. As it turned out, it was a Passat wagon I was wanting all along! Yesterday when I went looking for flooring at the last minute, a nice salesgirl named Amy patiently educated me about tile, especially the travertine that I knew nothing about except that it was lovely. This evening Amy showed up on our doorstop with the two bags of grout that were left off the tile delivery earlier in the day. What customer service! For me, both were sizable purchases, and they made me think about what is important to a customer. I don't always go into a store intending to buy something, but just being there should indicate to whoever is working that the customer has gone to the trouble of coming in and a sale is possible. Like we nurses do with our patients by establishing some sort of connection or rapport - eye contact and a supportive voice for instance - salespeople should do the same. Being available and informative, neither pushy nor indifferent, can make for good business.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

First day of the kitchen renovation

There is an empty room in my house where the kitchen used to be. It seems very strange. Having a counter to make sandwiches on and a sink nearby to wash the knife are part of the basic things we take for granted. The guys started the work today. They banged and ripped, and it didn't take long before everything was off the walls. At the end of the day they hauled the old cabinets to a landfill somewhere. They moved the dishwasher, stove, sink, and countertops to the garage, and now the most used room of the house stands empty except for a few tools that await the carpenter's hands tomorrow.

The kitchen is small - I am now thinking that is a good thing - but the job is going to be bigger than I planned. I am not going to be able to get away with a simple change of cabinets. Ohh no... It is going to need to be a total redo. In its bareness, one thing I realized is that I cannot have pretty new cabinets without a pretty new floor to put them on. This evening I went out looking at possibilities and chose some beautiful eighteen inch travertine tiles. I wanted to keep running my hands across the sample and admire all of its ancient beauty marks. What a shame to have it underfoot. It will be delivered tomorrow, and I think they will be able to start to lay it in the afternoon. Because of that darned economy, these guys do not mind how much I tack on to the job. And I think I am quite lucky that I have such skilled available workers who can do anything around the house.

It will take a few weeks before the job is complete, but I don't mind. In many ways, it is nice not to have a kitchen.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Old Tradition, New Car

My daddy brought home a curious looking little rounded gray car back about 1959. It was the first Volkswagen most of us had seen back then and it was quite a conversation starter. A subsequent yellow beetle convertible was what I learned to drive in, and I loved it. As an adult I had one beetle and a white squareback then more. Today I made a big decision and bought another Volkswagen, this time a Passat, a roomier one with a smoother ride. I think I will love it, too.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Happy Birthday to Me!

Sixty-six years ago World War II was still raging across the sea. America was united in facing its enemy, and though the tide was turning in our favor, the times were unsure. My mother had been sure of one thing however, that she loved her soldier husband and wanted a baby, whatever the future held. That summer my daddy was on a ship somewhere in the Mediterranean, and during her sixth month, my twenty-two year old mother went back to her spacious childhood home on the corner of Fifth and Chestnut Streets in Wilmington to await my birth. I can picture happy Mama and Papa on the big front porch, young Margaret and Marty, and Mother's many childhood friends stopping to visit. She was loved, and so was I as I entered the world that Wednesday afternoon. Of the generation that welcomed me and taught me that life is good, only my aunt and uncle remain. Now I have other, newer family members to love and to love me. But the world has become a different place. America is engaged in political battles on other soils, we the people are fragmented, not united in a common goal, and the future is again unsure. Life is faster and people are more self absorbed. But one thing I know for sure is that I have carried the love and security of the summer of forty-four with me all my years.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Sunday quote

Every saint has a past and every sinner has a future.

Oscar Wilde

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Reading and Writing

This afternoon I went back to help with the huge book sale fundraiser. After checking in I was assigned a post in Biography. I was to keep the tables as neat as possible and answer questions that the shoppers may ask. My knowledge was small, but I did please one young woman who asked if we had anything on Abigail Adams. I had to tell her that I hadn't seen anything, but my recommendation of Those Who Love, one of my all time faves, seemed to be a hit. However my most common reply to a question was, "I'm sorry but I don't know where the restroom is."

By the time I arrived at the Biography tables many people had already come through the old mall for this yearly event. But there was still plenty of enthusiasm among the polite crowd. Book lovers were milling around, carrying stacks or bags of books. Some stopped to read and got engrossed. I got familiar with all the titles in my section as I walked around and straightened the volumes. I saw that books that were hot hits when they came out were hoping to be being sold for a dollar. Kennedy titles languished, and Joined by the Heart by Al and Tipper Gore got a lot of quiet laughs. One thing was for sure in the non-fiction section. There are a whole lot of people want to voice their opinions via the written word.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A Fun Volunteer Job

I made it back up the road from Columbia through several cloudbursts that alternated with bright majestic skies to arrive on time at the Greenville mall where the huge book sale was getting set up. Back in June when I realized that I didn't have enough to do, I asked if I could please help with it and was kindly given two slots, today and then on Saturday when the sale will actually be going on. After I signed in I got my instructions, to unpack books in the philosophy section and place them on tables. Philosophy, nature, astronomy, cats...all the subjects seemed to run together as the two other women and I unpacked and swapped and perused the many interesting subjects that ranged from chipmunks to Stephen Hawkings Theory of Everything to hundreds of James Herriot book's to the softcover By Nature's Design, which I bought early for a dollar. On Saturday morning the place will as busy as WalMart on Black Friday. People will be coming with carts and back packs to get their literary treasures. At least that how it was last time I volunteered there.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Family is good

It has been another nice day with Caroline. Spending time with my grandmother was always a special thing for me, and I hope it is for my grandchildren, too. I think that it is comforting/validating to know that there are people outside of your own four walls, your nuclear family, who love you and value time spent together. It holds true on both ends. I appreciate Caroline's parents for letting us have these few days. Morning and early afternoon were rainy, but about three this afternoon we left for a little shopping and an early dinner at one of my favorite places, Mimi's Cafe. I thought she would like it and by her smiles, I know she did. We even ordered key lime cheesecake bars to split for dessert. Tomorrow she will be leaving and on Thursday will start back to school. Thanks Sally and Peter for sharing your sweet daughter!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Dear Mom and Dad,

It's not so bad being at Grandmommy's house. Today we stayed in and did some things like play games. Grandmommy got bored playing Cadoo and then I got bored playing Scrabble. We went outside to find bugs to take pictures of but there were so many mosquitoes we had to come back in. Then we made some delicious pepperoni pizza. Grandmommy let me make my own and then I got to eat it in front of the television so I could watch iCarly. See you on Wednesday.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

A good afternoon

This afternoon Caroline drew cartoons and did painting/collaging.
Then after getting some peaches we went downtown to the Children's Museum, and I think we both had a good time. It has been open only a year and is wonderful, all hands on experiences. One of the exhibits is like a cultural exchange with a city in Japan. It shows five Japanese children and what their school is like and what the rooms in their homes are like. The kimonos were hanging in a model bedroom for the visitors to try on. The other picture is of Caroline being silly in a bubble that water is pouring over.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Time with Caroline

I am so happy to have my nine year old granddaughter Caroline here. Tonight we drove through the rain to Red Robin, one of our favorite places. Since I found out how many calories there are in one of their delicious fancy burgers, we did without all the extras and got the healthier "natural burger." Here is Caroline enjoying her freckled lemonade.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Remembering Mama

She always said thirteen was her lucky number because she was born on August 13th - one hundred and twenty years ago! It was a little extra glue in our bond that we shared the same birthday month. Mama has been gone for thirty-two years now, and I was privileged to be with her as she drew her last breath - as I should have been. It was a sort of reciprocal thing. She was outside the delivery room as I was drawing my first, and I often heard the story of the wonderful day when I came into the world. My grandmother has been the most influential person in my life, not only because of what she was to me when I was a rambunctious, curly haired little girl but what she remains to me today in my current role of senior family member and grandmother. Leaving a legacy of remarkable faith, joy, and good humor, I lovingly remember Mama not only on her birthday but throughout the year(s).

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Canine Visitors

I told my co-workers that I am trying to age out gracefully and that's why I do not want to work as a staff nurse anymore. Though I loved it - well most of it - I just think it's time to leave that sort of work to the younger folks, those sixty-five and under. For me I am happy with my occasional office type job. High time, I say, to take it a little easy. As part of this new job one I must do a little PR with other parts of the hospital. Today I went to the pediatric floors to say hey. When I got to the Peds ICU door, I entered with a pack of dogs. Not to worry. They had been invited and were expected. All were well groomed, beautiful, friendly therapy dogs. If they had not had such loving owners, I would have gladly have taken any of them home. I had already started thinking how Tillman would adapt to having a blondish labradoodle in the house. cheers up most patients (and staff) to have a petting session with a nice dog, and it is healing as well. In the words of the all wise web, "Research confirms that just being in the presence of an animal can lower our blood pressure, reduce stress and anxiety, help with anger, depression and loneliness, and even reduce the perception of pain." I guess dog lovers have known that all along.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Cycle of Nations

"The historical cycle seems to be:
From bondage to spiritual faith; from spiritual faith to courage; from courage to liberty; from liberty to abundance; from abundance to selfishness; from selfishness to apathy; from apathy to dependency; and from dependency back to bondage once more."


Monday, August 9, 2010

Look to this day...

Sometimes, when I am having an ordinary day, I wonder if I am coming to the end of my blogging days. When I have neither witnessed anything extraordinary nor experienced anything interesting enough to retell, or when I have not found a cool bug to pose for me, what's a girl to do! But ordinary is good enough to blog about. The sun rose as usual this morning and will be setting soon. A few yellow swallowtail butterflies were still flitting around, the sky is still an awesome display, and another woodpecker found my house. The electricity, plumbing and water were all in good working order. Stores were open and from the grocery store, I could choose the foods I wanted. One day we may be talking about the good old ordinary days of 2010, wishing we could go back to them. Out there in the land of news and controversy and dire warnings about the universe and other humans on our planet who do not like us and wish to change America, this may be as good as it gets. I am one who believes each day is to be cherished, especially an extraordinary day such as today.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Similar Work?

As I was passing through Hendersonville today, the message center on my dash flashed an exclamation point and the warning to "check tire pressure." Fortunately I was right in front of an old garage when I saw it, so I pulled in and told the attendant my plight. He was wonderfully helpful and checked all the tires finding the back passenger tire to be at twenty, possible from a slow leak, and pumped some air into it. Asking if he could do anything else and then almost refusing to be paid (though I did) I thought how I can't remember having a bad experience with a mechanic when I really needed one. Maybe they are like nurses, I thought, except they help cars instead of people, or in my case both cars and people such as this damsel (dame) in distress.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Father Knows Best

For the second time in the past three years, our plans to move have not materialized. Honestly...I thought the house would sell right after I retired, that we would settle in to our new home and, by now, be kicking the sand at Wrightsville Beach every sunset. But here we are, same as before. That's OK. I trust the one who knows the plans for me. And besides, after the almost four month sabbatical, I am happy to be back at work in many ways, and none more than the connections with the people. Today the lyrics from "We are Family" popped in my head as I had "all my sisters with me." With the house off the market again, and a commitment to show up at work when needed, it will probably be a while before we attempt to reach the Promised Land of Wilmington again.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Beautiful Blue Butterfly

I was thrilled to get a picture of this lovely little blue butterfly as it lit on blade of grass. It looked almost unreal as if it were a picture cut from a book. The outside of the wing is whitish and the inside is a periwinkle. I looked on line for some ID and the only one I came up with is a Karner Blue. If that is correct, they are endangered and have a life span of only three and a half days.


I haven't had much success finding photographic bugs this year. I wondered if the cold winter really did kill a lot of them. Since it's overcast and not hot today, I decided to go out early and look for some willing subjects. My best find was in a large sage plant. I saw two stealth like, fascinating creatures, a large grasshopper sitting on a leaf surveying his domain and a camouflaged, leaf looking katydid. I thought the large katydid was cool enough to have a post of its own.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Lazy Day

The granchildren have gone back to Tennessee and the house is quiet. the weather has been overcast and still, and now a soft rain is falling. My fluffy black cat is sitting on the back of the couch looking out the window. It is a perfect day for reading. I am finally getting into Pillars of the Earth, which along with World Without End, were recommended when I was in France two years ago because of the historical aspect. I hope it will capture me. When I was eighteen and a freshman in college, I took a speed reading class that to this day interferes with my enjoyment of a book. (On the positive side however, I can zip through a medical record faster than anyone.) I remember a sleepy Sunday when I was a teen, before the year of the speed reading infirmity, when I read My Cousin Rachel, the first of the Daphne du Maurier's novels that I loved. On to the couch!