Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Kitty Call

Thanks to the April A to Z Blog Challenge, I've met several super nice bloggers the last two springs. Today I'd like to promote one of them for a very special reason. You see, she helps rescue needy felines in the Portland, Oregon region.

She officially calls herself a cat woman and goes by the name of Strayer. You may well recognize that moniker from friendly posts on this humble little blog. Strayer had a very successful endeavor recently and now there are some sweet animals up for adoption.

Look at this Friendly Little Doll! Photo Credit Belongs to Strayer

If you are in the area, you can meet Cayenne at the Heartland Humane in the city of Corvalis, Oregon. And here you can read about Kiki, Elton and Lucky and Strayer's heroic efforts.

Wherever you live, if you have room in your heart and home for a pet, please consider adopting from a local shelter. And always be responsible in getting your pets neutered as well as providing them a safe environment with plenty of healthy food and fresh water. The rewards are worth the investment.

What about you? Any furry members already in your family? And if you have both dogs and cats, I'm curious to know how you keep each from eating the wrong food. It's astonishing how different are there dietary requirements.

Thank you Strayer, for all your efforts. You are a blessing upon this world.


Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Passing On Positivity

For some inexplicable reason I spent this morning feeling anxious. Julia Cameron, whose creativity workshops like "The Artist's Way" aid my attitude in all sorts of situations, would tell me to do the next right thing. Today that meant cleaning bathrooms and mowing the back lawn.

The latter takes only about fifteen minutes, most of our backyard otherwise landscaped. And it would have been wise to head outside before the day heated up. Yet I found myself wasting time playing card games on my Kindle Fire. I needed to break that cycle.

So, what did I do? I turned on my laptop, telling myself I needed to verify which area of the house was scheduled for deep cleaning this week. Of course I'd been right about the bathrooms.

Did I start my chores? No.

I read blog posts. As it turned out, however, Vidya Sury's "Joy is in the Routine" got me motivated. As you can read for yourself, she overcame sickness and frustration with positive action. The lovingly home-cooked lunch she packed for her husband made me both happy, harmonious, and hungry. It was like the sun rose on my heart.

Maybe Not As Glorious As When I Stood Here... ~grin~

Without physical discomfort aside from anxiety symptoms, I got up and got busy. Now it's early afternoon, my home has two clean bathrooms, a mowed backyard, the front mowed, vegetable garden watered, and organic weed killer sprayed where necessary. It feels great.

Now I know that folks with legitimate reasons for depression and/or anxiety may well need more help. This fact only makes me feel more blessed. I'm looking forward to a pleasant afternoon and evening with my partner and cats. I hope anyone reading can say much the same.

Brain chemistry. It can be annoying. Is there anything that helps when your mind mysteriously drags you down?


Friday, May 20, 2016

One Week - An Autobiographical Ficlet About Blessings

One Week

A recent Monday began with a dreaded medical checkup. Not fun, but necessary. I entered the hospital nervously, as much over dealing with people as regarding the procedure itself.

The technician acted professional, upbeat, and friendly. Only when I mentioned something personal did I learn that her demeanor hid sleep wrecking nervousness concerning her profession. For the first time in ages, I hugged a stranger and the social anxiety plaguing my morning faded far away. I certainly don't have to worry about any life endangering mistakes.

Days later I found myself approached by a former colleague at the local gym. He shared delightful news about his son and the fact that he happily remarried a few months back. There was a catch, though. His very ill wife remains in an intensive care unit after months of unsuccessful treatment. She may not live.

I practically rejoiced now over the inconvenience of a preventive medical test. My little family safely awaited me at home. And lifting weights took on renewed meaning. I am healthy and strong.

The next afternoon I stood by my vegetable garden, thrilled to see beet seedlings. Thinning them to one out of three, I was startled by a neighbor approaching. He lives several doors down in the opposite direction.

I heard the lady of the house say his name and wondered again at his appearance without hearing the rest. He replied without turning, words I still did not catch, then she approached. A warm clasp met my arm before she spoke.

"I believe someone broke into our house."

Stunned in this quiet suburban neighborhood's sunshine flooded afternoon, I heard our neighbor confirm her suspicion. Police officers arrived in two squad cards shortly thereafter. At least nobody got harmed, including the family dog.

I left the daughter's sobbing canine reunion in respectful silence. No longer did our rising home security bill seem such a burden.


It's easy to wallow in minor misfortune or discontent, then one need only watch the news to learn how much worse life can be. How often does the fact strike close to home for you?


Thursday, May 12, 2016

Konjac Kraziness

Silly me, I completely blew my proud count on the last garden centered post. There are not six corpse flowers blooming near my front door, but eight! I initially missed the two tallest ones basically within the canopy of my weeping crabapple tree and then failed to recall the two little ones now fading closer to the house.

So I opened a window and took a better photo. Unfortunately, the plants' stink attracted a big flat housefly continually buzzing around my living room. I hate killing them. So we'll see if I can lure the insect out.

Can You Find Us?
Here We Are!
Are you forgetful like me? Especially when it regards to math, I have no head, forgetting a figure a moment later. Be well!

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

A Mid-Week Ficlet

 Fading Rose

“It’s like a slow collapse of words,” Rose said, looking at the kitchen table.

I worried that Alzheimer’s once again befuddled my friend. Deciding it best to say nothing, I did not even try puzzling out her intended meaning. It seemed kinder to simply leave my hands  blanketing hers and give her thoughts a chance to regroup.

“That probably doesn’t make any sense,” she confessed after pausing, “but that’s how I feel. My thoughts have always seemed clear, a speech spelled out on notecards. But now those conversational snippets form a tremulous house of cards. And somebody left a window open so that they scatter in the wind before I can reorganize them.”

Her rueful chuckle pierced my heart. Rose’s gentle humor and artistic poise were the first traits to fade when she had a bad day. This, here and now, was about as good as things got. Mindful of arthritic knuckles, I gave the gentlest squeeze. My vision blurred. I blinked rapidly hoping she wouldn’t notice and cleared my throat.

“Your mother once told me that you spoke poetry before most kids say ‘mama’ or ‘dada’, Rose.”

Seeing her headshake made me regret bringing up poetry, her greatest love and the first skill she lost to this thieving disease. Her eyes met mine, though, and twinkled with mirth rather than pain’s bitter liquid.

“Mama always liked you, Myrna, from the day your family moved next door. You were ten, weren’t you? And so precocious.”

I grinned unabashedly now. Not only did she recall that time correctly but her praise brought back fond memories of her twenty-something self treating me like a little sister.

“You always stood up for me when I got into trouble. Like the countless times I got stuck in your father’s oak tree or when I pushed that bully Mark in the playground once. He left me alone after that, at least.”

“Oh, child,” she huffed, sliding one hand from beneath mine to hide a delicate smirk.

We spent the next hour recalling stories from joint family lore. I left her napping on the window seat overlooking her riotous flower garden. Only dots of white here and there betrayed mild neglect – invasive bindweed seeds blown in from somewhere.

Locking her front door behind me, I imagined her grown children busily tending their own gardens. Their visits were either spent reminiscing like we enjoyed today or driving to Rose’s numerous medical appointments. With that thought I vowed to eradicate the pesky little vines over the summer.

Days later I sadly learned that task would be falling to the realtor Alice’s daughter Maggie, ten years my junior, hired to sell the home she and her brothers inherited. I think half our town witnessed my eulogy.


Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Fertile Ground

Well, since the A to Z Challenge ended I really haven't written anything except some journal pages. Definitely nonfiction in the boring section. ~grin~ At least we got our garden planted.

Except for our two Earthbox Planters, which received garden center plants, the ground is not much to look at. The bare looking dirt primarily bears seeds - carrots, beets, and something called a watermelon radish which is white on the outside with a red interior. And the carrots should come in various colors including purple and white.

Rows Marked with Bamboo Chopsticks & Some Twine
In the back are some sugar snap peas with a few radish seeds tucked in between. I really hope we get some tasty crops. Meanwhile, it's fun watching the peas reach for the twine-laced tomato cages.

I Want a Stop Motion Camera (!)
As for our tomatoes, they got one of the Earthboxes, a highly recommended growing system. The big one is a cherry tomato variety known as Sweet Millions. I hope it doesn't overshadow the heirloom Mortgage Buster, so named for its creator paying off a $6,000 USD 1930's (!) era home loan. The man received $1 a piece for his plants way back then! My fingers are officially crossed.

Wish the Little Guy Luck!
As for another staple, we like hot peppers. In fact there are two little habañero plants at lower right of the first image. The other two are shown below alongside three jalapeño babies and a larger so-called "super chili".

Waiting for the Sun...
As a smelly bonus, my amorphophallus konjac patch produced a record (for me) six corpse-scented blooms. I had no idea what I was in for when buying one small pot years ago; we half expect someone knocking on our door will believe there is a dead body inside and call the authorities. The summertime foliage of this "voodoo lilly" remains worth the spring odor as the flowers trap their winged protein snacks.

What I Bought in One Little Pot...
And here is what I have now...

Step Into My Parlor, Said the Flower to the Fly
Sorry the flowers are surrounded by so much distracting greenery. My crabapple tree nearer the front patio and centranthus blooms have been here even longer than the konjac. So, here is a close-up taken of one bloom years ago:

Happy Gardening!