Treasures of my Mind

Oh my, what do I treasure. I spent some time looking around the house and there are lots of items purchased in foreign countries that could be treasures, but on the other hand they are just items. I really enjoy both of our residences; but are they treasures? I have gotten great pleasure from my garden and get lots of compliments on it, but once again it doesn’t feel like a treasure. When it gets to be too much work I will turn it into something else and I won’t grieve because it will be a relief. I love my family and friends and they bring me so much pleasure but when I think of them as a treasure, it almost sounds like they are objects I possess. I also get a lot of joy through using my sewing machine and my cameras, but they seem to be objects that somehow lead to a greater treasure. As you can see, I’ve put a lot of thought into this Lens-Artist Challenge: Treasures.

Then it occurred to me that all of these things were once treasures to me but I seem to be changing as I am aging. I believe my greatest treasure in life is my memory.

Our campers could be listed as treasures; we have had six or seven. This year Jim isn’t putting the tires on our current one because we decided we wouldn’t go on any trips because of the price of gas. Last night during supper we talked about all the beautiful, interesting places we have been with a camper in tow. We talk about experiences with our kids and the other kids that sometimes went along. In memory mode we can also laugh about all the “oh shit” moments that we got into and had to figure out how to get out of. These memories are our shared treasures that make our relationship a treasure.

I have found so much pleasure working in my flower garden this year – maybe because others have done the heavy work and I’ve done the planning and planting. Now that’s a collaboration to treasure. After ten years I seem to be reworking my garden design as it seems to be growing out of it’s previous plan. Did I hear someone say, “Wow, she had a garden plan all worked out.” My plan was not on paper nor based on a wealth of plant knowledge. I followed the trial and error plan – reading lots of books (that suggested I draw a layout) and relying on what I could find in local garden centers.

This year, however, I found a surprise treasure while working in my garden. I found a connection to my grandmother who also loved to garden. This is my Polish grandmother who I know loved me but the relationship was hard to maintain because we had a language barrier. I felt her spirit with me this summer as I gardened, thinking that she would approve of my work and would have loved to get her hands dirty along with me.

The only objects that I really treasure are my books. I learn best through reading so I have books on gardening/landscaping, photography, travel, quilting, faith development, and professional books. All of these books shaped who I am and will continue to guide me into new life experiences. I believe even the fiction I read impacts who I am. I continue to cull my books and of course buy new ones that indicates that I am a work in progress as I approach 80. As my dear colleague, Margret, used to say, “God isn’t finished with me yet.”

I also treasure relationships with family and friends but don’t do well with photographing people and feel uncomfortable posting the photos on public media. Besides that would require another whole post. They do, however, fit into the treasures that make me who I am, along with my nature and social environments. Maybe the big-picture treasure that interconnects all, is that I treasure who I am, who I am becoming, and the life I have been able to live, am currently living, and look forward to in the future – with all it’s ups and down.

Anticipatory Buds

Aren’t these cone flowers striking? And look how many buds are opening. Last year, or maybe the year before, I divided the yellow daylilies along our drive and filled in places that could use some easy color. But this year I’ve decided my garden is toooooo yellow. My coneflowers have started blooming in the lower tier, in this beautiful orange, in yellow, and the typical bright pink. I’ve decided to remove some of the yellow daylilies in the upper tier (my daughter-in-law want some) and put some coneflowers in. But that can wait until fall or next spring.

Last winter I was thinking that I would start putting more evergreens in with less flowers. Somewhere, probably in one of local garden shops, I forgot about that decision. Or maybe it was when I was sitting on my purple porch swing on a cool spring morning surveying the plants coming up. I’ll blame it on the coffee I was drinking.

If you have a flower you would like to show us you can join in Cee’s Flower of the Day postings.

Lens-Artist: Color Expressions

I love color, I love playing with colors when I create quilts and when I edit my photographs. I had great fun when I was arranging these bouquets of flowers for your pleasure. But I get ahead of myself, here, because what attracts my eye and draws me in with my camera is the play of light and shadow that creates the beauty of colors. The colors in each one of these flowers makes my heart and soul smile – big!

The Naples Botanical Garden has wonderful collections of orchids and water lilies so I have tended to use them the most for my winter posts. Today, for this Lens-Artist Challenge, I decided to show you some of the other colors of the the garden. I have been going two or three times a week and every time I walk around I am surprised by new small splashes of color or changes in the reproductive cycles of those plants that I have been photographing for a few weeks and result in new colors of buds, blossoms or fruits/seed pods (I’m saving those for future posts). I have provided captions for those that I can name – if you know other names I would be very appreciative for your knowledge in the comments section.

I found this last plant in the Idea Garden, where ideas are given for growing flowers and vegetables in the southern Florida tropical climate. Does color have a sense of humor? Can you identify the five colors? The chef at the restaurant in the garden really likes hot peppers for seasoning.

Chinese five color hot pepper

To find out how others are interpreting this photography challenge of “color expressions” you can click on the link.

Getting Ready to go North

Sending some sunshine ahead of us.

A strange thing is happening as we are preparing to head north, as we always do about the middle of April. This year Jim made the proclamation that we weren’t going north until the end of April. He is tired of my eagerness to get “home,” wanting to leave around the 15th – and then complaining that it is still cold in Michigan in April. We are staying a week longer and spending a long week-end with our daughter in North Carolina before completing our snow-bird journey. The strange thing that is happening is that I’m not ready to leave Florida. I finally felt like I was here and enjoying myself as I was walking across the parking lot towards the pool a couple of weeks ago. It was a jolt of awakening to my surroundings and a voice in my head saying how nice it is to be here. The first three months weren’t easy as Jim and I worked together to deal with his double vision and severe fatigue as a result Myasthenia Gravis. We have lived and loved together for so long that what happens to one, happens to the other.

I love the coloring of this one.

The zinnias in the Idea Garden at the Naples Botanical Garden have started me thinking about my northern garden. I have a space where I plant zinnias for some late summer and fall color. The past few years I have planted seeds, then waited and waited for the first blossoms. When I visited the Botanical Garden here in Florida in January the zinnias were just starting to bloom and then a couple of cool months later I noticed they had pulled them all out and the next week they planted another batch of seedlings. I was amazed when they were blooming a couple of weeks later. This year I’m going to buy seedlings to speed things up in my cooler northern garden, but will also be realistic that they won’t bloom as quickly as in hot southern Florida.

We have five more days before we head north so we are eating up what is in the refrigerator, freezer and pantry. I think I can put together some meals that aren’t too weird with the help of the neighborhood grocer with a great fish counter and a deli with really good salads. I’ve been thinking of making a batch of molasses cookies but will need to barter with a neighbor for some butter, maybe for a dozen cookies. On the subject of cooking, I am really looking forward to going north to my new gas range. The one here is electric and even after using electric cook-tops for over 10 years in Michigan and Florida I haven’t learned to regulate the heat so I don’t burn grilled sandwiches. Two grilled sandwiches always take six slices of buttered bread – four to eat and two for the garbage.

I was so enjoying being more relaxed about Covid during our winter months here in Florida. We were spending time with friends at the pool and in our homes, going to very early suppers (late lunch?) at restaurants with outdoor seating, and even forgetting to put masks on when going into grocery stores. These activities felt like getting back to normal. We felt well protected with transmission rates falling and having been vaccinated and boosted. Then four of our friends in our condo association got sick a week ago and tested positive for Covid. I had played in a Rummy Cube tournament at the pool with two of them a week ago Saturday so I could have been infected. Amazing how quickly we put the defenses in gear and also rallied round to make sure friends had tests and people who were sick had enough food and weren’t getting so sick that they needed medical help. Fear moved into our home again as we worried about sick friends who had serious heart problems, and friends who didn’t want to get sick because they had plans to see a 9-month pregnant granddaughter on Easter. And of course we have felt some anxiety about whether Covid would disrupt our schedule for going back to Michigan. We are well stocked with rapid tests so we will make sure we test negative before we leave on Thursday and maybe again before we get to our daughter’s home on Friday.

We are going to take less stuff back and forth this year (said in 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2021). We both thought we did a good job of bringing less when we drove down last October. We mostly have full wardrobes in both places and have coffee makers and sewing machines and household tools for both homes. As I am starting to put things on the guest beds, I’m wondering why I feel so overwhelmed with packing to go home this time. Maybe it’s because I’m a year older and both of us are having trouble with fatigue. Maybe it is because we are taking some things north for our children. Maybe it is because we are taking almost a week to go home instead of three days, making a stop at our daughter’s home in North Carolina. I think we are doing okay – I just have those week-before-we-leave jitters because I know what needs to be packed but can’t pack because we are still living here for a few days. I have this constantly running brain loop of things I want to remember to take home. Instead of getting ahead of myself like that, I think I’ll just putter around and take a deep breath. I’ve packed for various kinds of trips for too many years to get cocky-jawed about it now.

I think this pairing is a nice one I can use up north.

As I am finishing up this post I am smiling. Although it is snowing in Michigan today I am looking forward to being in my northern home, seeing northern family and friends, and experiencing a northern Spring. Today I have tasks to do and things to pack. And we have an exciting trip north planned this year.