Sunday, August 30, 2009

Today's Flowers - August 30

Birth of a Sunflower

This volunteer sunflower appeared in one of my newly created flower beds, most likely from bird seed which found its way there. Insofar as I can remember, this is the first sunflower I have ever had on my property in the twenty years I've lived here, and I've watched the plant grow from seedling to about three and one-half feet tall. Now it's bearing this almost-ready-to-open flower.

Today's Flowers is a weekly Meme created by Luiz Santilli, Jr. and currently hosted by Luiz Santilli, Jr., Denise Gullickson, Laerte Pupo and Valkyrien, and may be found here. Please visit to see others' lovely flower photos. If you have a flower photo of your own to share, please join us.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Having Fun with Naked Ladies...

... or how I met a fellow blogger, her husband and their wonderful dog, Luckie.

Luckie, feeling a bit shy.
(all photos may be enlarged by clicking on them)

My Gardening Daughter (henceforth known in this post as MGD), my almost five-year-old granddaughter and I made a three-hour trip to northern Arkansas yesterday. The excursion was designed for two purposes: first, I'd get to personally meet another Arkansas-based blogger; secondly, I'd have some new flowers to add to my garden.

I have been corresponding for a few weeks with blogger Carol Coward, of Coward's Corner with Luckie, concerning her comments about her flower beds which were overcrowded with lilies which are known by many names: Surprise Lily; Magic Lily, Naked Lady, Amaryllis Belladonna, or proper name Lycoris squamigera . As she had a stated surplus and I had none, she agreed to share her bounty, and I agreed to come dig them up -- the "I" in this instance being myself with the critical assistance of MGD, who is both skilled in such things and has a strong back!

After a brief and very tasty lunch, brought back to their home from Carol's favorite mom & pop burger stand, during which we shared chit chat like old friends, we were ready to dig. Granddaughter played with Luckie; Carol supervised; MGD dug with a vengeance, and Carol's husband also put his back into the digging, pointing out lily clumps where the above-ground vegetation had already died back and were otherwise invisible. My contribution to the process was, I fear, picking up bulbs and placing them in the cart we brought for the purpose, and removing a few weeds and grass roots loosened by the digging. I still worked up a sweat!

Husband digs lilies at one end of the flower bed

Husband and MGD hold a lily clump

Carol was not kidding when she said she had a lot of lilies! The bulbs are as large as medium-sized onions, and some clumps would have five, or more, bulbs each. To ease the digging process, Husband had watered the bed recently, and MGD's sharp shovel made relatively quick work of it.

Partial results of the digging and thinning.

Husband insisted on giving us a bucket-full of bulbs he had already dug from their back yard; 56 of them, as I recall him saying. Those are at the bottom of the cart, covered by the freshly-dug plants.

I was feeling greedy about taking so many lilies, but MGD kept getting encouragement from Husband to "come over here; here's another clump." Carol kept telling us that there would be more lilies arising from the places we thought we had removed most of them, that they were almost impossible to eradicate. I hope she's right. I'm going to feel terrible if she doesn't have a nice display of blooms next year. If that's the case, I'll reverse the process: dig some of my plants and take them back to her.

After thanking them profusely for their largess in sharing so many of their bulbs, we returned home by a different route (got to see different scenery, that way) and arrived here about 6 p.m. -- still daylight, and prime planting time, according to MGD. After leaving my granddaughter in the care of her older siblings, MGD and I unloaded the lilies into paper bags, 50 bulbs/plants to a bag. How many did we have? Would you believe two hundred thirteen? Yes... 213 lily bulbs!

I reserved 25 bulbs for the church garden (and might end up putting more there; it depends upon how tired I get digging holes in my own yard), sent a bag of 50 home with MGD for her yard (and she may get more), set aside some to plant in a friend's yard, and will ask my next door neighbors and the nice folks across the street if they would like to have some. I try not to be a "greedy gut" (crudely put, but you know what I mean.) Some others I will plant in groups in my back yard where I can see them from my kitchen window. I don't have anything "pink" back there, so these will be a welcome addition.

MGD and I prepared and enriched the ground for and planted about 35-40 bulbs in three different places in my front garden before dark last night. Photos (taken this morning) are below.

All the remaining foliage will soon disappear. If I'm lucky, there will be new growth (leaves only) next spring which will die back completely during the summer. If I'm lucky (again), come next August, I'll be surprised by Surprise Lily blooms.

I had an extremely enjoyable day in all respects. It was a real pleasure to meet Carol and her husband, and to see Luckie. I enjoyed the scenery, treasured the time spent with MGD and my granddaughter, and came home with new additions to my flower collection. All in all, a day well spent.

I should be recovered in about a week! :)

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Today's Flowers - August 23

Full Blown Rose - John F. Kennedy

In my rose garden (very small, only 4 roses, two of which are of this variety), the John F. Kennedy rose is the longest blooming. There may be one or two buds left to open, but when other roses have finished, the J.F.K. is still putting on new growth. The buds have an ivory hue, but when fully opened, the rose is very white.

Today's Flowers is a weekly Meme created by Luiz Santilli, Jr. and currently hosted by Luiz Santilli, Jr., Denise Gullickson, Laerte Pupo and Valkyrien, and may be found here. Please visit to see others' lovely flower photos. If you have a flower photo of your own to share, please join us.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

What I've Been Up To Lately

Besides yardening, that is. Making greeting cards; attending parties; posting to another blog.

Read all about it here
. (long article about rubber stamping activities, with photos)

Yes, the cake was delicious!

Post Publication Clarification: I did NOT make this cake!
RSVP is the rubber stamp group to which I belong. We observed our tenth anniversary as a group last Saturday.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Today's Flowers - August 16

The Continuing Saga of the Mutant Coneflower

click on photo to enlarge

My last week's entry for Today's Flowers was a strange coneflower I saw growing in my Gardening Daughter's wildflower garden. Several commentors expressed an interesting in seeing the progress of this aberation. These photos were taken this afternoon.

Several of the small growths springing from the seed head have turned into stunted blooms, as shown by the photos above and below.

click on photo to enlarge

The photograph below is of another coneflower from the same patch. It has several small stalks arising from the seed head as well as tiny purple blooms very close to the surface of the seed head.

click on photo to enlarge

Today's Flowers is a weekly Meme created by Luiz Santilli, Jr. and currently hosted by Luiz Santilli, Jr., Denise Gullickson, Laerte Pupo and Valkyrien, and may be found here. Please visit to see others' lovely flower photos. If you have a flower photo of your own to share, please join us.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Today's Flowers - August 9

Mutant Cone Flower

While I was running around a couple of weeks ago snapping photos of flowers, I ran across this unusual growth. The flower head has other small, misshaped cone flowers growing from the top. It's growing in my gardening daughter's wildflower garden, so I'll be able to keep an eye on it to see what happens as it matures. I thought it was interesting.

Today's Flowers is a weekly Meme created by Luiz Santilli, Jr. and currently hosted by Luiz Santilli, Jr., Denise Gullickson, Laerte Pupo and Valkyrien, and may be found here. Please visit to see others' lovely flower photos. If you have a flower photo of your own to share, please join us.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

August 8 - Happy Birthday, Mama - And Other Stuff

August 8, 1901 - October 18, 1986

In addition to my mother being born on this date, I discovered, through Internet research, that a great many historical events occurred on August 8, some of which may be of interest to you, and others not at all:

870 - Kings Charles the Bare & Louis the German divide Lutherans (I wonder where King Charles was bare?)
Post-publication note: I knew somewhere in the back of my brain that the above mentioned kings did not divide the Lutherans, which if I am correct, did not exist at the time. Further research on my own (rather than just picking up a list of historical dates from the internet) reveals that it was King Charles the Bald, and he and his (turns out) half-brother, Louis, divided Lotharingia, not the Lutherans! -- So, I guess, Charles the (not) Bare, was bare on the top of his head.

1502 - Jacobus IV of Scotland marries Margaretha Tudor (so.. that was the beginning of all that flowery embroidery, Jacobean tapestries and other stuff)

1585 - John Davis enters Cumberland Sound in search of the Northwest Passage (also see this date in 1794)

1588 - Sea battle at Grevelingen: English fleet battles Spanish armada

1673 - Dutch battle fleet of 23 ships demands surrender of NYC (didn't get it though, did they?)
1709 - 1st known ascent in hot-air balloon, Bartolomeu de Gusmao (indoors)

1786 - Congress adopts silver dollar & decimal system of money

1794 - Joseph Whidbey and George Vancouver lead an expedition to search for the Northwest Passage near Juneau, Alaska.

1815 - Napoleon Bonaparte set sail for exile on St Helena

1844 - Brigham Young chosen Mormon Church head following Joseph Smith death

1854 - Smith & Wesson patents metal bullet cartridges

1863 - American Civil War: Tennessee's "military" Governor Andrew Johnson frees his personal slaves. During the early 20th century, the day was celebrated by blacks in Tennessee as a holiday.

1864 - Red Cross forms in Geneva

1864 - Union troops/fleet occupy Fort Gaines, Alabama

1876 - Thomas Edison patents mimeograph

1882 - Snow falls on Lake Michigan

1890 - Daughters of American Revolution organizes

1901 - Pat- Arkansas's mother is born in Temple, TX (I didn't find this on the Internet, I already knew it)

1911 - The millionth patent is filed in the United States Patent Office by Francis Holton for a tubeless vehicle tire.

1929 - German airship Graf Zeppelin begins a round-the-world flight

1940 - Battle of Britain began as Germany launches air attacks

1945 - Pres Harry S Truman signs UN Charter

1950 - Babe Didrikson-Zaharias wins LPGA All-American Golf Open

1960 - "Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polkadot Bikini" hits #1 (I'll bet you know the tune, don't you?)

1963 - Great Train Robbery in England, £2.6 million ($7.3 million)

1968 - Republican convention in Miami Beach nominates Nixon for pres (see next entry)

1974 - Pres Richard M Nixon announces he'll resign his office 12PM Aug 9

- Pat-Arkansas plants a crepe myrtle tree in her mother's front yard in celebration of her birthday (this one didn't come from the Internet, either.)

1988 - Temperature hits high of 88 on 8/8/88 in NYC

2000 - Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley is raised to the surface after 136 years on the ocean floor.

2007 - An EF2 tornado touches down in Kings County and Richmond County, New York State, the most powerful tornado in New York to date and the first in Brooklyn since 1889.


Friday, August 7, 2009

Remembrance of A Childhood Illness: Part Three and Finale: The Recovery

(photo- Wikipedia)

My hospital bed was in the children's ward. Most of the new arrivals after my surgery seemed to have had appendectomies or tonsillectomies, and every time the nurses brought in a still unconscious patient, straight from the operating room and reeking of ether, I became extremely nauseated.

As soon as I was judged to be out of danger and on the road to recovery, Daddy had to go back to his base. But he drove to Albuquerque on Friday, leaving after his full work day, and showed up at my bedside around midnight, bringing a few pieces of peppermint candy and an orange. He peeled the orange with the small pocket knife he always carried, then broke it into sections and fed it to me, piece by piece until I had eaten the whole thing. The nurses, knowing his situation, set up screens around my bed so we would not wake the other children, and let him stay as long as he wished. He would tell me stories and jokes and try to cheer me up. I was very homesick, and I missed my Daddy. He would come again on Saturday, then drive back to his base in Colorado. I was in the hospital about ten days, during which two weekends occurred, and he made the trip twice.

I know that my mother must have visited me, also; unfortunately, those visits are not part of my memories. Sometimes I wonder why I don't remember them.

Insofar as I could determine, the nursing staff of St. Joseph Hospital was comprised entirely of Catholic nuns, dressed in full, shoe-top-touching black habits, with wimples, veils and all. Being a good Southern Baptist child, it was probably the first time in my life that I had seen a nun in full regalia. I’m quite sure the surgical nurses didn’t wear habits, but I don’t recall seeing any of them. All the floor nurses were nuns; and more sweet, gentle and dedicated persons you could not have wished for.

After about five days of bed confinement, one nun was assigned to give me some physical exercise (I was very weak, already having been in bed at home for some time before the surgery) and to teach me to walk without turning my head to the left. I remember her taking her hands and straightening my head as we walked in the halls. She also made me exercise my eye, the controlling muscle of which had been restored to full function several days following the surgery. I was lucky; sometimes the muscle paralysis caused by mastoiditis is permanent.

When I was released from the hospital I returned home, but did not go back to school, which had only a few more weeks left in the year. I remember that my mother was concerned that I would have to repeat the second grade since I had missed so many days of the school year. Her fears were allayed; I was deemed to have learned what second grade students are required to know, and was promoted to the third grade.

I had always been a skinny child, but during my illness, I had lost quite a bit of weight and was about 15 pounds lighter than I should have been at my age. Part of my post-surgical treatment was extra nourishment in the form of malt, considered at the time (and in some parts of the world, still) to be a wonderful dietary supplement. I ate Horlicks Tablets by the fist-full, drank milk with extra cream and flavored with Horlicks powder, and at least once a week (sometimes more often) I was treated to a
"malt” from one of the local dairy’s ice-cream bar (made with extra ice cream, chocolate flavoring and extra malt.) The flavor of malted milk is still one of my favorites, and I try to keep a jar of Horlicks "nourishing food drink" in my cupboard.

Even after all those extra calories, I gained only about five pounds, and remained "string bean-scrawny" until I was in my mid-forties -- then it all caught up with me!

I lay about eating and drinking and basking in the sun, generally being treated like I had been snatched back from the jaws of death (which I had been), but the special treatment came to an abrupt halt when school started in the fall. I’d received a “clean bill of health” report from the doctor (with the caution to keep water out of my ear), my hair had grown back, and it was once again business as usual. I’m sure my mother was happy not to have to coddle me anymore, and even more glad that I had no more ear aches.

As a result of the surgery, my skull has a very flat spot behind my left ear. If that spot is rubbed gently, it sounds “hollow” and a bit drum-like. It’s a wonder that my hearing was not affected. To this day, I can tell no difference between the hearing in my left and right ears. I know that my skull is not as strong at that spot as it is elsewhere on my head, and I have had some concerns during my adult life about the possibility of sustaining a blow to that area. I’m sure it wouldn’t take much of a hit to go straight into my brain. (Can you tell I watch too many Forensic Files and Dr. G., Medical Examiner programs on TV?)

*The End*

Back later with another tale.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Remembrance of A Childhood Illness – Part Two: In Which I Almost Go to Heaven

After applications of cigarette smoke, hot water bottles and warmed “sweet oil” drops in my ear did not reduce the discomfort, I was taken to see a doctor. I don’t recall what treatment he prescribed but, since neither penicillin nor sulfa drugs were available for civilian use (both these came into major production during World War II and were used in field hospitals for the treatment of military wounded), I know I did not receive any sort of what we now call antibiotics. Whatever it was, it was not effective, and my ear aches became more and more painful, and I had a constant fever.

By the early spring of 1943, I was very sick, being taken to the doctor almost weekly. It was determined that I had a very severe ear infection (duh!). Eventually the infection became so toxic that it paralyzed the muscles that controlled my left eye and although my ability to see was not affected, I could not move that eye from the straight ahead position, and I had to keep my head turned constantly to the left and use my right eye to be able to see what was on my left side.

This development concerned the doctor, and over a period of several weeks he took a series of X-Rays of my head, perhaps a dozen or more; I don’t know whether it was for diagnostic or treatment purposes. The practice of medicine has changed a lot since 1943. (Long-term effects of many X-Rays in a later post.)

I became gravely ill. My father was called to come home from his base in Grand Junction, Colorado. I was given a blood test and my white cell count was over 30,000 (4,800 – 10,000 is normal in children.) The doctor announced that he suspected that I had mastoiditis, a severe infection of the “mastoid process” which is part of the skull behind the ear. The doctor instructed my parents to take me to the hospital immediately as I was to undergo surgery that evening.

I remember being held in my father’s arms while my mother drove the car, and Daddy carried me into the hospital. I don’t remember anything else until I woke up, sick as a dog from the effects of the ether that had been used as anesthesia during my surgery.

The operation that was performed on me is called a mastoidectomy. In my particular case, the left side of my head was shaved (my hair grew back, but has never since “behaved itself” in that location), an incision was made behind my left ear, and all the infected bone, quite a large amount, actually, was surgically removed (scraped off my skull.) There being no antibacterial solutions to wash the area before the incision was closed, carbolic acid was used as a disinfectant. Ugggh!

I was still very sick for several days. During one of the doctor’s visits, I overhead him telling my parents that had he not performed the surgery when he did, I would have been dead in twenty-four hours.

Last installment tomorrow

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Remembrance of A Childhood Illness – Part One: Blowing Smoke

I woke up a few days ago with a slight ear ache. By the time I'd had my coffee and surfed the Internet, it was gone, but the twinge in my ear reminded me of a long-ago time during which an ear ache played a major role in my life.

I’ve written in earlier posts about living in Las Vegas, NM in 1941, and about Pearl Harbor and my father leaving home immediately afterwards to work for the United States Army. Out of economic necessity, Mother needed to get a job, and as there was no suitable work in the small (at the time) country town of Las Vegas, she applied for and was hired by an electrical supply company in Albuquerque as a secretary and bookkeeper.

We stayed in Las Vegas until school was out in the spring of 1942, then moved, lock, stock and barrel, to Albuquerque, using the Southwest Trailways Bus Line as both our means of transportation and moving company, shipping boxes of necessities in the luggage compartment between the wheels of the bus. I have to think that our furniture was conveyed in some other fashion, but I have no recollection of that process.

Mother had rented a small house near the downtown area, only a few blocks from her place of employment. I don’t recall very much about the house other than it had a floor furnace and a piano, which was a great delight to us, and we three girls spent hours sitting on the piano bench, playing “music.”

In the fall of 1942, I started the second grade at Lew Wallace Elementary School, which was within easy walking distance of our home. Sometime around Christmas, I began to experience very painful ear aches and to run fever. I was kept at home during the feverish periods, and returned to school as I was able. I do remember that after a while, it seemed I was at home sick more than I was in school.

One of our neighbors was a man we called “Shorty.” I know he was not a young man, at least he was old enough to have escaped the military draft. I believe Shorty had already served in the navy or merchant marine, and might even have been retired, and we children thought he looked like Popeye, since he had many tattoos on his arms and shoulders. Shorty evidently became a friend of the family, because he would sometimes come over to visit in the evenings when I was sick with an ear ache. Shorty smoked Camel cigarettes, and while he ordinarily did not smoke during his visits to our home, he declared that cigarette smoke blown into the ear would help alleviate the pain. I remember him lighting up, inhaling mouthfuls of smoke and blowing them gently into my ear. He would burn up a whole cigarette just blowing smoke. It didn't help.

To be continued tomorrow - I promise. It's already written.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Today's Flowers - August 2

I'm honored to have been asked to be the Guest Friend on Today's Flowers today. For the past several weeks, I have used flowers from my own garden as the subjects for my Today's Flowers posts. Most of my established flowers are day lilies which have finished their blooming season, so I looked elsewhere for photos for today. I'm in the process of adding a front garden, and I have been visiting greenhouses and nurseries in search of plants that are not day lilies. As my contribution today, I bring you photos of plants I have either purchased, or seriously considered, for my own new garden. Unfortunately, I can't have them all! Yet!

Zinnia - variegated yellow/red

White Cone Flower - purchased for the front garden

White Bougainvilla - unfortunately, this is not a hardy plant for our growing zone, and I had to leave this one at the greenhouse, but I think it is beautiful.

Zinnia - Rose

Peegee Hydrangea
This one is definitely finding a place in my yard, but not in the front garden.

Not for this year's garden, but next year.. yes! Such a cheery color.

African Iris -
I have to research the hardiness of this one, but I do like it.

Zinnia - variegated white/deep pink, purchased for my front garden

Portulaca (Moss Rose) -purchased for the new front garden

Lantana - pink and yellow.
This one currently is in Gardening Daughter's garden,
but she is bringing me one of her extra plants for my front garden.

Gazania - purchased for my front garden.
This really is a small flower on a very short plant. It's wonderful what one can do with a macro lens.
I love the colors in this specimen.

I hope you've enjoyed your tour. Thanks for looking.

Today's Flowers is a weekly Meme created by Luiz Santilli, Jr. and currently hosted by Luiz Santilli, Jr., Denise Gullickson, Laerte Pupo and Valkyrien, and may be found here. Please visit to see others' lovely flower photos. If you have a flower photo of your own to share, please join us.