Sharon's blog

Sunshine and Snow
Posted on Jan 22, 2016 10:35 PM

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It snowed last night. And all day long. Rarely do our predictions come true and this one was no exception. The weather guys said 5 inches, maybe 6. By morning it was long past those marks. And it was so beautiful. Sunshine the Diva Wonder Dog took one look and started dancing, one of those dances she makes up as she goes along. This one included standing on her back legs, twirling around, knocking over chairs, upturning her water bowl and generally kissing whatever part of me she could reach with each jump. She was that happy. She was so happy I had to sit on her to get her cable attached.

Then she frolicked her way off the deck with a great and mighty leap and on around the yard like a miniature kangaroo or perhaps an overgrown frog on a 30 foot cable.

It's been a long time since we had a snow this deep, maybe the late 70s and that one stayed and stayed and stayed, non stop snow and was as deep as my 4 year old son was tall. We ended up having to teach on several Saturdays just to make up some of those snow days at school. I hated teaching on Saturdays, and the students hated being there. It's much better now that the powers that be have built snow days into the school calendar. I'm glad I'm not teaching anyway, though I loved it at the time, except for those Saturdays.

Last week I had about 6 inches of snowdrops showing, sedum was in that pretty green rosette stage. A dandelion bloomed a couple of weeks ago. Irises were up. Daylilies too. We have strange weather in Western Kentucky, it's unpredictable and even the plants seem to know that. I'm glad we have snow, we already had so much rain I don't think there's room beneath the earth for anymore. It wasn't long ago it rained so much earthworms had floated up onto my driveway; that was in early January, not long after Christmas.
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It's been exactly a year since my body and I had the Great Heart Event, GHE for short. I say my body and I because it seemed that I had absolutely no control over the incident nor have I had much control over the recovery; my body was working against me just as if it were a separate entity. Hard to believe it's been a year and only within the past month have I felt anywhere near normal. That one incident somehow affected the entire work force that belongs to my body. It hasn't been fun. But it's a new year and tomorrow is a new day and maybe if I erase the bad stuff and try it all over again, this will be a much better year.

Speaking of . . . at the request of some friends scattered around here and there, I wrote the story of the GHE just as it happened, complete with psychedelic face and fiercely blackened eyes and an eyebrow that continues to have a lump on it, even now. Here's a link to the story; if you are squeamish, don't look at the pictures but I've been told that knowing the symptoms might be important to those women who read it. Truth is, our symptoms are unlike those that men have even with the same condition.

So here's to a new year, a better year, even if W KY is covered from head to toe in snow. May this new year bring us all that we need for our gardens and for our hearts.

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Over the river and across the mountain
Posted on Dec 24, 2015 12:21 PM

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This is the day when we would gather together boxes of home canned vegetables and fruit, gingerbread and applesauce, blackberry jam and loaves of banana nut bread, black walnuts and homemade fudge, loaves of white bread, fruitcake and lace trimmed aprons all made mostly by Ninna.

The gifts would be in boxes because they were going to whole families over the river and across the mountain to the southern side of the county. Dad would load the truck and mom would make sure each box was carefully covered in oiled canvas (oilcloth) so no moisture could reach the gifts. The oilcloth was old table cloths that had become faded and Mom saved through the year to use over the Christmas gifts. Dad and I would bundle up because the heat in the old truck was iffy at best and the trip would take most of the day.

It was to homes of distant relatives and old friends, some with no nearby kinfolk, several widowed, and most old and sickly, that we were going, taking only needful things as Christmas gifts. My contribution was Little Golden Books if the gifts went to homes where there were young children. Sometimes when I could talk Dad into drilling tiny holes through acorns I gathered, I'd string them on leftover scraps of yarn and add them to the gift box. Dad called them my squirrely days when I gathered acorns but old women surely loved my acorn necklaces. My job was to label each box with the name of the recipient and to mark the names off my list as the gifts were delivered.

There were a few times when we took a quilt to a family, it was cold and not everyone had warm homes, Ninna told me. And if we had nothing else, we had an abundance of quilts. They were always happy quilts, quilts made from scraps of my homemade clothes and lined with the softest flannel. They had no set pattern, but they surely were warm. Ninna said it was the least she could do since she had a family who took care of her, and it was her way of sharing all that she had.

Of course upon seeing a quilt in her box, every old woman would say, "Oh no, I can't accept this quilt, it's too good for me," in protesting tears. And I would then tell them about each piece of cloth that was used to make the quilt.

"This one right here was my school pinafore and this here was the skirt I wore to picnics and this one was the blouse for Sunday church but I outgrewed them." I was so proud that my family could sew and that I had contributed my old clothes. Many people couldn't. Ninna would get that old treadle sewing machine out and open it up; that sewing machine would be churning all day long between Thanksgiving and Christmas, just making aprons or tea towels or piecing together squares to be made into a lap quilt to keep other Grannies warm.

A few times, if she was all caught up, Ninna said she'd like to make that trip with us, and we'd scrunch together in the seat of the old truck and begin the long journey over the mountain. The homes we visited were all along that narrow winding road. Those who lived on the right side of the road got their gifts first and those on the left got theirs on our way back home. We'd stop somewhere at about mid point and eat a bite of lunch that we'd packed for ourselves and with that done, we'd be on our way to deliver to the other side of the road.

My pay for all the hard work was a peppermint stick, a large one that was big enough to last over many miles and many hours. I loved that peppermint stick and it was a treat to see how long I could make it last. It was truly a good to the last crumb candy stick.

We don't think much about doing things like that today. It probably is one of those things that's not politically correct, but that doesn't make it less special that we did it then. It was a truly good time.

Merry Christmas.
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November Rain and Roses
Posted on Nov 11, 2015 12:27 PM

We got a little rain a few weeks ago, not enough to count for much, but along with it came a thunderstorm or two.

I remember the rain, mostly because thunderstorms scare Sunshine to death and if my lap were big enough to hold 70 pounds of dog, she would be curled up in it, right in the middle of every thunderstorm.

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But the already pruned roses remember the rain too. Today I have November roses. Nature just keeps right on giving us beautiful surprises, even in November.
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"Watch for the Goldenrod," she said.
Posted on Sep 10, 2015 4:17 PM

"When the Goldenrod blooms, it'll tell ya two things," she said. "There'll be first frost six weeks from time of th' blooms, and it's time t' start savin' for your wintertime tea."

So today, the Goldenrod blooms. And blooms. And blooms.

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"Allus save a spot, for 'em, an' let that spot grow over, 'cause no matter what grows there in Spring or in Summer, if ya leave it alone for Fall an' don't mess with Nature, them Goldenrods'll allus find it. An' Goldenrods'll give you a show and th' butterflies and bees they'll have a last fling, and th' birds'll have a little shelter, too. So jus' let it grow."

"Jus' save you some leaves and a few of th' blooms and let 'em all dry together. When you get a cold or get to sneezin', or if your throat gets sore, then simmer you some o' them dried leaves 'n blooms in a pot of water, let it set awhile, strain it into a cup and add a little honey. That'll stop a cold or sore throat right in its tracks and th' dried leaves'll keep all Winter long. Don't be forgettin' what I'm tellin' you, Chile, don't be forgettin."

Aunt Bett taught me to stand still, listen and look up, too, for signs of Fall above me. She said the leaves would change in the blink of an eye, and the sky would change too. The leaves will chatter and rustle and dance in the breeze, she told me, and the sky is dark blue and light blue all at the same time, "them's th' signs of Fall." I reckon she was right about that too. I listened today as I stood still and the cottonwood was loudest, but then it's oldest and biggest, so I guess that's just the hierarchy of trees and maybe people too. I fell a little short of that I reckon, except maybe the loud part.
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There are a few other blooms as well, the Sedum is happy, so is the Rose of Sharon, the one that has an identity problem.
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This Summer was off to a rough start; I couldn't garden the way I usually do. Couldn't fight the weeds. Couldn't control the mint. Lost a bunch of roses. The yard guys chopped down a new Hydrangea, not to mention my favorite Hosta and a few Ferns. My Magnolia died a slow death. The Raintree didn't even bother to make an attempt to survive. It was depressing.

But I have to remember the Irises were gorgeous just as the Daylilies were, and the trees that Winter didn't bother have grown and grown and grown. In the midst of all the grumbling, I've had time to remember little things. Things about the Goldenrod, things about the sky color.

And the Caladiums, oh my what a gorgeous show they've given me. And looking at the new Black Diamond Crimson Red Crepe Myrtle that sits beside one beautiful mixed pot of Caladiums, I can see the ever changing color of the sky seems to reflect in all that grows beneath it. Notice the look of blue. I think I just needed to slow down for awhile, to look up, to listen, to glance down . . . and to remember.
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I want to remember this date. Aunt Bett said there will be frost 6 weeks from the full bloom of the Goldenrods. Let's wait and see.

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A Caladium Kind of August
Posted on Aug 12, 2015 11:41 PM

Just like my dog, Sunshine, with her new lime green ball or Daisy, my cat, with an empty box, I'm crazy about these Caladiums. I can't even remember another August as lovely as this one is. A few years ago I had one gorgeous caladium bulb and the next year, of course, I had two; they had lance shaped leaves, 'Florida Cardinal' was the name, mostly deep red with a dark green border. I planted them in a shady spot out front, mixed in planters with dark red and lime green coleus. I remember how striking that combo was and I have no idea why I never had them again. I suspect I left the bulbs in the planters after I'd taken cuttings of the coleus and the whole mess of them turned to mush with the first frost. That's a bad habit I have, pushing my luck with the first frost date. But not this year, absolutely not this year!

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I'll save every single bulb I can dig out of these pots before frost even thinks about visiting. Of course next year I'll have to have more pots. The bulbs came in brown paper bags when they arrived in the mail; they were mixed and unnamed. There were different sized bulbs, so I knew there would be also different sized caladiums. Finding their names will be a Winter project.

I've learned that caladiums are native to tropical rain forests and equatorial regions of South America and Latin America. Most species come from the Amazon basin in Peru. Original caladiums had plain green leaves with random red and white spots all over them. I've also learned that commercial caladiums come in two leaf shapes, large heart shaped and those that are more lance shaped. Doesn't matter to me the shape or the color, I love them all!
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I have them planted everywhere, wherever there's dappled sunlight, caladiums grow. A friend stopped by one morning last week when I was out watering, said she wanted to see what I had blooming all across the front. And tonight the same thing happened, watering again and heard a car pulling up in my driveway behind me; it was just another friend wanting to know what those large blooms were.

"Not blooms at all," I said to both of them. "Just my caladiums." I love surprised looks when people see them up close.
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I also love how they spice up other plants - yucca and coleus for example - that grow around them, as well as the bricks that form arches in the front yard. I think my favorite is the last photo, the one with a dark mound of English ivy in front and a couple of asparagus plants growing behind. There's just something about the contrast in foliage color and texture that I truly love.

Over the past 150 years there have been over 2000 hybrids developed in just about every red/green/white color variation you can think of. I swear I think I was lucky enough to get the prettiest of all of them. I'm going to spend a lot of Winter months finding and matching names to my photos.

There isn't much blooming in my gardens now; it's always like this in August. Things are looking a little ragged and brownish because it's so hot and dry. It hasn't helped that my energy level isn't up to par. But the black eyed susans look good, goldenrod and sedum aren't far behind, and the Rose of Sharon shrubs are always happy in August. If the crepe myrtle had survived the harsh winter, it would have been in bloom too.

No complaints from me; I'm just as happy with all these wonderful caladiums!

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