Sunday, August 31, 2008

Prayers for those in hurricane's path

"Do you know what it means to miss New Orleans
And miss it each night and day
I know I'm not wrong... this feeling's gettin' stronger
The longer, I stay away. . . ."

As I watch the news coverage this evening about the approach of Hurricane Gustav toward Louisiana, and the evacuation of much of New Orleans, the words to this old song by Eddie DeLange and Loise Alter keep running through my mind. I cannot imagine what it must be like to evacuate one's home and hometown, not knowing if it would ever be possible to return. (Photo courtesy New Orleans Chamber of Commerce.)

It is encouraging that there has been advance planning this time, and that arrangements have been made for the evacuation of pets. I know that I, for one, would not be able to leave our cat behind.
Perhaps we should all think about what would be important to us if we had to leave our homes with no guarantee of return, and to plan for an emergency evacuation. What would you take?
Pray for all of those whose lives and homes are disrupted by such disasters.

Friday, August 29, 2008

May Dreams Gardens

If you are a gardener, this a site you must visit. You will get great information as well as daily inspiration from Carol at May Dreams Gardens.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Isn't it a lovely day to be caught in the rain

What do you do on a rainy day? We welcome it, because we have been under voluntary water restrictions for several weeks. This week, we got rain -- wonderful rain -- and by this morning we had over 2.5 inches. We could use more but are grateful for every drop. Yet there are those who are suffering greatly from too much rain, resulting in flooding. Either situation is dire -- too little results in loss of valuable landscape plants and harsh restrictions on water use, but too much can result in loss, or drastic damage, to one's home.

I spent part of our rainy days checking out some wonderful blogs. Here are excerpts from a few of my many favorites. I will add them as links but don't know how to make a direct link -- would love it if some more experienced and knowledgable bloggers would help me out here.
I love this heading from beehive cottage, and I love the site. Hope you will visit.

Here's a picture from Kelly at Rose Vine Cottage. Lots of great ideas on her site.

This image is from Kimba at A Soft Place to Land. Isn't this a wonderful name? Don't we all want our homes to be like this?

I love visiting these and other fabulous blog sites and finding new inspiration every day. I am grateful to those of you are willing to share your talents with the rest of us.


Sunday, August 24, 2008

they cut down the old pine tree

Yesterday we had the big "pine tree" in our front yard removed. Actually, it wasn't a pine tree, tho' that's what Cliff always called it. I assumed it was a Colorado blue spruce (Picea pungens) but I too was wrong. My arborist informed me it was a Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii). This is not a common tree in this area. When the guys started cutting up the tree they found old Christmas lights still in it. It may have been purchased as a live Christmas tree and later planted outside. It had grown way too large for its location, and significant portions of the tree were dead or dying, so it was time to take it down. In the picture to the left, taken last April, it is the big tree shown in the upper left, in front of my car.
Here is the tree just after it was felled. You can see how dead some of the branches were. I'd planned to take a "before" shot but didn't realize it would come down so fast. The arborists told me that was the easy part. Actually, it took a couple hours to cut it all up and seven truckloads to haul it away.
Here are the two trucks loaded up for a trip to the town's recycling center for plant materials:

Finally, here's a view of the house after the tree removal. The stump is visible on the left side. I haven't decided what to plant in that area. Was thinking of another tree but am now thinking more of shrubs and flowers. Another area to plant--what fun!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Happy Birthda Jenna

More birthday wishes -- today for my beautiful, bright, and loving niece Jenna, who lives way down south. Jen, I am looking forward to our next teatime at the Windsor Tea Room. Hope your birthday is wonderful in every way.

Love, Aunt Joan

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Happy Birthday Scott

Today I'm sending birthday wishes to my handsome, smart, and witty nephew Scott who lives many miles from me.

Scott, I hope you have a wonderful day and a terrific year to come. Much love.

Aunt Joan

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A prayer for the animals

Yesterday my sister had to put down her sweet cat, Zoe, a stray she took in four years ago. The cat had health problems and my sister made sure Zoe got the best of care, but finally Zoe was in such pain that there was no other choice. My sister was heartbroken, and I fully understand because last November we had to put down our 19-yr old cat, Amos, whom we'd adopted at the age of 15. When I took this picture of Amos, I had no idea that he would only be with us for two more months. Anyone who has had to deal with the loss of a beloved pet understands the depths of the grief this brings. I found this prayer online and it gave me tremendous comfort in dealing with the loss of our dear Amos. I sent it to my sister and hope she finds some comfort also.

A Prayer for Animals

By Albert Schweitzer

Hear our humble prayer, O God,
for our friends the animals,

especially for animals who are suffering;

for any that are hunted or lost or deserted or frightened or hungry;

for all that must be put to sleep.

We entreat for them all

Thy mercy and pity,

and for those who deal with them

we ask a heart of compassion

and gentle hands and kindly words.

Make us be true friends to animals

and so to share

the blessings of the merciful.

In loving memory of Amos and Zoe.


Maypops and pink ladders

I love gardening, but this year's garden got off to a late start due to my broken bone mishap, so I've done what I can. A plant that is new to me is the passionflower vine, also called maypop. Mine surprised me with its first bloom last week, shown here. Although the plant is still small, it has several more fat buds on it. It is supposedly hardy in my zone 6 garden -- I hope so. It is growing in a pot now, but I will plant it out this fall and hope to see it again next spring.

Every year our local Master Gardener association holds a plant sale to raise money for programs. At last year's sale, one of our MGs painted and stenciled this old wooden stepladder and donated it to be sold. I loved it and said at if no one had purchased it by the end of the day, I would buy it. Another person wanted it but decided against it, so of course it came home with me. It makes a nifty plant stand on my deck.


Wednesday, August 13, 2008

my sister's birthday

Today is the birthday of my dear little sister. Although we live many miles from each other, we communicate almost every day, via email or telephone. In the winter, C. and I head south for a couple months and then I am able to see her several times a week. She is a sweet and loving person and fun to be with. She has so many talents -- decorating, landscaping, quilting, etc., -- and is an all around beautiful soul.

Happy Birthday, darling lil sis. Can't wait to see you again.

Love, Joanie

Monday, August 11, 2008

Wallpaper -- love it or hate it?

Earlier this year (I don't want to admit how long ago) I decided that I couldn't live another day with this wallpaper in our guest bathroom. It was there when we moved in. Our house was built in 1976 (brick rambler) and we are the second owners. Anyway, a little corner of the paper was loose so I pulled it to see how easily it might come off. The top layer peels off rather easily. But the backing comes off in three more layers. Two days after starting the project, I fell and broke a bone in my ankle. It's about 95% now (probably as good as it will get), so have finally motivated myself to get back to this job. I try to work on it at least an hour every day, but some days that isn't possible.

Some of this paper must have been put up with gorilla glue! I have a little round tool that you use to score the paper, and then I wet it with hot water with white vinegar mixed in. I wait a few minutes for it to soak in, then scrape it. There were stronger solutions at the store but when I read the precautions I decided to go with a less toxic, but obviously more labor intensive method. Some parts have needed to be wetted (is this a word?) and scraped four times to remove all of the paper.

This is a small bathroom. The toilet is in an alcove. I have finished the alcove, except for the paper that is behind the toilet's water reservoir (do they always do that? -- will need to have toilet disconnected and moved temporarily to get to that paper). I have finished one adjacent wall and can see where there was an earlier vanity that was over two inches shorter in height than the current one. Weird.

I've pretty much decided that when all of the paper is removed, we will hire someone to paint. I definitely will not be putting up wallpaper in there again. Eventually, I want to get a new tub and have the floor tiled, but not this year, so for now this will freshen and brighten up the bathroom so that I'm not grossed out every time I see it. The vanity is very plain but adequate. I will dress the doors up with appliques, paint it white (it's white now), put up fresh, new towels, and buy a pretty a new rug. That's the plan, as of today (but it could change tomorrow). I'll be looking at a lot of blogs for inspiration. When (and if) it is finished, I'll post pictures.

Wish me luck (and stamina)! Joanie

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Living with Music

As long as I can remember, there was music around our house. In my early years, we had no tv, and we often sang and played in the evenings. And there was the music at church. Daddy sang in the choir and would take me to sit with him when I was quite little. He taught me to play piano by ear before I ever started formal lessons. Harmonizing came easy to me and I sang alto in the choir as soon as I was old enough.

Mother and Daddy had played in a Lutheran church orchestra before they married, and often they would play together some of those songs. My favorite was "Bye Bye Blackbird." The photo above, taken before I was born, shows Mother holding another instrument but I never heard her play anything but piano and organ. I have the little mandolin on the ground next to Mother, but I only learned to play one song on it.
During the 1930s Daddy played in this orchestra. He is one of the saxophone players shown in this picture that appeared in a local newspaper. He was self taught and could sight transpose to any key.

All of my grandmothers four brothers played music. Two of them are featured here. The picture above shows them in their latter years; Lonie is on the left and Lando on the right. In the second photo, they are shown as they appeared sometime in the early 1900s with Lando on the left and Lonie on the right. I loved to hear them play the old fiddle and banjo tunes and I believe this is what triggered my love of "the high lonesome sound."

I have been fortunate to have many musician friends in my lifetime. One of my most enduring friends is Barbara. We met sometime around 1975 and immediately became friends. She is a soprano and I am an alto, and we began singing and playing together. This photo shows us at the old Birchmere when it was in Arlington VA, performing at "open mike." After all these years, we still get together whenever we can, to talk and reminisce and, of course, sing. She now plays the appalachian dulcimer and I mostly play the autoharp. Sharing music and friendship with her has been one of the great riches of my life.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Another delightful blog

Today I discovered another great blog -- whispering oaks cottage. The name attracted me because I love trees and oaks are among my favorite trees. I have added this to my list of blogs and hope you will enjoy visiting it as I did.