Saturday, August 19, 2017

Growing An Old Friend

Wednesday, a beautiful sunset, portent for a good day tomorrow. K will be here.
It has been two years, but this time, between Tucson and Cumberland, we are a stopover on her journey.

Thursday afternoon. She's here! First things first, Bobby needs to be walked. Even though it can be years between visits, he always knows where he is.

Around the pond, into the shade. Already we're talking, talking, talking - beginning the hours of catching up. "Your friend is your needs answered." (Khalil Gibran)

July, 2009, when her husband was still alive and the Knotty Pine was still a restaurant, Bud took this photo of the three of us. Kristina and I have been friends since Gene introduced us to one another in the late 70's.

After sharing her with Bud for a couple hours, Kristina and I sat on the deck and had one of the best, most far ranging, meaningful conversations we've had for some time. We talked about retirement, aging, and the fears of dementia, remembering our mothers and their final years. We talked about relationships, past, present and future? How our lives have unfolded and how fortunate we were to be born to the parents we had, during the era we lived - and that we both grew up in the Midwest.

We talked about friendships, heart shaped rocks, books, whatever came to mind. "The language of friendship is not words but meanings." (Henry David Thoreau) 
Around 7:30 I suggested, "maybe we should eat something"? I went in to fix a light supper, she went to walk Bobby. When some time passed and K didn't come in, I went out to look for her; nowhere in sight down by the pond. I went out front and didn't see her, though there was a group of neighbors gathered down the street. I came in and jokingly told Bud I thought she had decamped to the neighbor's circle.
I waited. Then went out to look for her again. From several houses away, the group of people began waving at me. Then I saw Bobby.

Oh, how funny, she was in the neighbor's circle! She and Bobby had walked around the corner and they greeted her, got her a chair and began with the inquisitive questions; wanting to know just who this was in their community.

Yesterday morning started with coffee on the deck but a passing shower sent us to the covered patio where we could stay dry and admire the rocks she brought me.

This is the wash where K and Bobby take their daily morning walk. I went on that walk with her a few years ago and came back with two plastic grocery sacks of rocks. It is a rock hound's dream ground - one she has insisted we visit this coming winter. We must go. (It could be my last time for a long road trip.)

So when she asked me if I wanted my present now or later, I *knew* she had brought me a special rock. I was right. It is the one on the right. Kristina has a thing for heart shaped rocks and has quite a collection of them. But this one is the heart she found on December 16, 2003 - the day my Mom died. I remember when she and Gene came to stay with us on the farm the following year. How she and I hugged and how I felt that it was finally safe (and right and real) to cry.

Then the bonus of the other two rocks, a small piece of quartz, a rock we both love, and the amazing specimen on the left. Yes, it is also (slightly) heart-shaped, but I love it for its color (so Southwest) and the layers of shapes on the front. I don't know who among my children/grandchildren is going to care about my rocks when I'm gone, but I want them to know their provenance.

Today, K will be back in her homeland of Wisconsin among childhood friends, cousins and her aunt. Her brother will soon join her from his home in Sweden. They will spend time in the cabin in the woods she helped her father build. She will wrestle with, perhaps find answers for, the questions about her future...whatever she decides, just so long as it includes me.

"It takes a long time to grow an old friend." (John Leonard)

Friday, August 18, 2017

For My New York City Kids

all that

"The only things I remember about
New York City
in the summer
are the fire escapes
and how the people go
out on the fire escapes
in the evening
when the sun is setting
on the other side 
of the buildings
and some stretch out
and sleep there
while others sit quietly
where it's cool.

and on many 
of the window sills
sit pots of geraniums
or planters filled with red
and the half-dressed people
rest there
on the fire escapes
and there are
red geraniums

this is really 
something to see rather 
than to talk about.

it's like a great colorful
and surprising painting
not hanging anywhere
       (By Charles Bukowski)

Of course there is much I remember about our October 2015 trip to NYC, mostly the pleasure of being with family.
(For Mark and Juliet)

Thursday, August 17, 2017

The Last Farewell

This was Tuesday's daily puzzle. It may be the reason I could not get Roger Whittaker's song "The Last Farewell" out of my mind that day. You know the one. It begins "There's a ship lies rigged and ready in the harbor" and it was a number one hit in 1975. (The puzzle photo is titled "Old Town of Gdansk, Poland".)

According to Wikipedia, folk singer Whittaker hosted a radio program in Great Britain in 1971. He invited listeners to send in their poems or lyrics and he would make a song out of them. The Last Farewell was a poem sent in by Ron A. Webster, a silversmith from Birmingham, England.

The Last Farewell is on my list of all time favorite songs. I no longer have my vinyl collection, but to the best of my memory, this album, released in 1977, was the one I had - or one of the ones I had.

These are the lyrics:

There's a ship lies rigged and ready in the harbor
Tomorrow for old England she sails
Far away from your land of endless sunshine
To my land full of rainy skies and gales
And I shall be aboard that ship tomorrow
Though my heart is full of tears at this farewell
For you are beautiful, I have loved you dearly
More dearly than the spoken word can tell
For you are beautiful, I have loved you dearly
More dearly than the spoken word can tell
I've heard there's a wicked war a-blazing
And the taste of war I know so very well
Even now I see the foreign flag a-raising
Their guns on fire as we sail into hell
I have no fear of death, it brings no sorrow
But how bitter will be this last farewell
For you are beautiful, I have loved you dearly
More dearly than the spoken word can tell
For you are beautiful, I have loved you dearly
More dearly than the spoken word can tell
Though death and darkness gather all about me
My ship be torn apart upon the seas
I shall smell again the fragrance of these islands
And the heaving waves that brought me once to thee
And should I return home safe again to England
I shall watch the English mist roll through the dale
For you are beautiful, I have loved you dearly
More dearly than the spoken word can tell
For you are beautiful, I have loved you dearly
More dearly than the spoken word can tell
I don't have any specific memories of this song - not a special evening, a romantic picnic nor someone saying he always thought of me when he heard the song. It is just one I've always liked. And Roger Whittaker's voice was perfect for these words and the music.
I hoped to find out more about the time period about which the poem was written - was it WWII? Earlier? Later? I guess that doesn't matter as the words and sentiment could apply at any period in history. And, sadly, there have been thousands of couples for which The Last Farewell applied.

I work at least one jigsaw puzzle a day to help with my aging mental capacities. Putting the puzzle pieces together does help, I believe. The added benefit is when the picture entices my curiosity and I explore the locale pictured or the painter or like Tuesday, a remembered song.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Finally, Some Rain

We finally got some rain yesterday - only a third of an inch - but it was SO welcome.

Thunderheads off in the distance. I checked the radar and at first it looked like any rain was going to go around us - AGAIN.

Getting closer and some rumbles of thunder.

Wow! There's some wind up there.

When the wind hit it started blowing leaves around. It was then I noticed all the yellow leaves in the cottonwood.

Storm clouds directly overhead. It would be another ten or fifteen minutes before the rain really began coming down. Water ran in the street, something we hadn't seen in ages.

After the rain, patches of heavenly blue. My old neighbor in West Des Moines, Bernice, used to say if there was enough blue to patch a pair of overalls it meant that the rain was over and the skies would clear.

This morning I was treated to a beautiful pink sunrise.

The camera seldom does justice to the intensity of the color.

A waning moon before the New Moon on the day of the total eclipse; enhanced by shredded pink clouds.

The pink is fading as two white 'eyes' peer at me. We have more rain in the forecast today and tonight. I hope we get more than a third of an inch, but we'll gratefully take anything Mother Nature gives us.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

August Haze

"In the warm and summer weather
Deep and dreaming midst the heather,
Where the wind turns as it pleases,
Cooled by moorland-scented breezes,
Viewed with a half-shut eye
Whisps of cirrus in the sky --
Then the hours are truly spent
In a newly found content."

"So where the heat haze shimmers,
High above where Semmer glimmers,
Level with the singing lark
Hear the far-off farm dog bark!
Squat grey roofs and ribboned Ure
Patchwork fields below the moor,
Short to look but long remember,
August Dales in town December."

(From the poem August Dales by Glyn Hughes)

(Photos of August Haze across the corn fields taken on the farm by me in the 90's)

Monday, August 14, 2017

The Daisy Award

Six weeks ago my granddaughter, Kathryn, was attending a Daisy Award presentation at St. Luke's Hospital/Unity Point Health Center in Cedar Rapids. She had no idea she was one of the recipients, but when she saw her family in attendance, the penny dropped.

The Daisy Award for Extraordinary Nurses was founded by the family of Patrick Barnes, after his death in 1999, as a way of recognizing and thanking the nurses who had helped care for him during his hospital stays. To be considered for this award the nurse must be nominated by a family member of a patient the nurse has helped care for.

Kathryn's nominating family wrote about her: "Kathryn will forever hold a special place in our father's heart and in ours for the excellent care and compassion she showed and gave our father in his final days."

The Daisy statue she received, "A Healer's Touch" symbolizes the relationship between nurses, patients and families.

I don't know just when Kathryn decided to become a nurse, but by the time she was in high school, she had completed CNA training and was working night and weekend shifts at one of the care centers in her town. The above picture of her was taken by one of her high school friends who captioned it: "Kathryn, totally awesome, amazing picture." I would add "of a totally awesome, amazing woman."

After high school graduation in 2011, she enrolled at Coe College Cedar Rapids.

Receiving a Bachelor of Science in Nursing in 2015. During her years at Coe, she also worked at St. Luke's Hospital.

Today is Kathryn's 24th birthday. She is celebrating it with her boyfriend at the Iowa State Fair. I kidded her that her birthday cake would have a funnel in it.

As a grandma, it has been a privilege to watch her growing up, finding her place in life. I know she still has times of uncertainty, but I don't know anyone who has done a better job, as a young person, of deciding on her path and following through to achieve her goals. So, Kathryn, if you see this post, know that your G'ma R is very proud of you and very, very, happy for you.
Happy 24th; many more.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

DRY Midsomer Flora Update

The Rudbeckia (Black-eyed Susans) and Echinacea Purpurea (Purple Coneflower) are obviously flowers which can withstand drought conditions. I have not watered these at all.

The Day Lilies are pretty much done for. This is the last bloom on one of the plants. I think they would bloom until fall IF we got some rain.

The Stachys Byzantina (Lamb's-ear) is blooming and also surviving low to no water rations.

The Autumn Joy Sedum "prefers moist soil in full sun, but can take it drier." Its blossom heads are forming, but no color yet. Note the one little blue flower - yes it is my nemesis, the impossible to get rid of, Monkey face (Asiatic dayflower). The dry conditions have kept it at a minimum this year. I've pulled a bunch of it but always manage to miss a few plants hiding beneath the other flowers.

My Naked Ladies (Belladonna Lily) are just emerging. In a few days they will look like this:

I don't know why the neighbor's bloom before mine. I do note that the color of these and the purple coneflower is much paler this year. I think that may have to do with lack of moisture.

The Hostas on the north side of the house are also blooming without any extra watering. Now for the plants I have kept watered during this dry spell.

First and foremost, Dougie's Mother's Day plant. It takes a half gallon of water every day.

The purloined Gaillardia (Blanket flower). I can't let this die from lack of attention.

The Cardinal Climber has gone crazy with foliage, but so far only one bloom. I planted several seeds where the zinnias were last year, near the patio.

I've been keeping the one on the west side watered, too, but it isn't as lush as it was last year. The sedums in the pots do okay with only occasional watering.

As do the Impatiens in their mostly shaded corner. I was impatient to plant them this year and settled for the only color available rather than wait for my favored coral color, but I am enjoying these lavender pink ones.

I still don't know what this foliage plant is. It looks like a Coleus, but is a perennial. It literally washed over from the neighbor's and I transplanted it into this planter for the deck.

This is the first time I have tried Wave Petunias. They have done okay, but not as lush as other wave petunia plantings I have seen. Maybe because I only planted one and need to plant several?

Last year I had Royale Peachy Keen Verbena in these deck planters which I hoped to have again. Alas, I could not find any locally, so I planted some Salvia which didn't do well. Having the squirrels pull the plants out may have contributed to their failure to thrive. I finally replaced them with this Easter Basket Mix Alyssum which has thrived and which the squirrels didn't bother.

The Helichrysum and Snapdragons have performed just as I hoped. And I still love the new (end-of-last-season garage sale find) planter!

The Portulaca has not fared as well this year as last. It can handle dry conditions so maybe I have watered it too much?

I would hate to say just which of my plants are my favorites, so I'll just say the geraniums are one of my favorites, but I can say they are in my favorite color.

It has helped that the weather has cooled down some even though it remains very, very, dry.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Polishing The Past

Today is the 8th anniversary of my blog. In a comment on the 7th blog I posted - the one about 'The Little House', Kari commented: "It is a gift, really, this tendency of memory to polish the past until only the brightest, happiest moments shine out."

I began my blog as a means of sharing - preserving, some of my memories and pictures for my children, grandchildren and, now, great-grandchildren. Have I polished only the brightest, happiest moments? I've certainly shared more memories about the good times than the bad, but I think I've been candid about the low spots in my life, too.

This is my 1,171st post. When I reached 1000 I thought about quitting, and now, after eight years, I'm again thinking of quitting. I've also thought of making my blog 'private' and allowing only those I want to share it with. There are eight of my 25 followers I have no idea who they are. It also seems like I have shared all the old memories and have even begun repeating some of them.

But for the last six weeks, instead of sharing anything on Facebook, I've been posting here every day. It has become a habit again and one that keeps me engaged, thinking, getting out, taking photos.

So, whether I polish those past memories a few more times, post umpteen pond pictures or other's poetry, as well as a few of my own poetic attempts, I'll continue on blogging a while longer. But, fair warning, watch out for cloud photos. I find myself being drawn to the sky.

Eight years blogging, eight cloud pictures. The above is "Eye in the Sky"..

Last one - for now. I took this as we were going down the highway last November headed to Des Moines for the 'Reveal Party' where we found out we were having our second great-granddaughter. (Brynley)

I call this 'Alien Sky'. It looked as though a hole was forming in the clouds, one through which, any moment, something alien might appear.