Friday, May 29, 2009

A Day in the Life -- of a Cat

Here's how our cat spends his days (in addition to eating): Looking out the window at the birds and squirrels,

playing on his "condo,"

greeting visitors.,



and sleeping.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Dealing with Aging

When I was young, I was always the youngest person in my group. Because of my birthday in the fall, I was the youngest in my high school graduating class. At work, I always seemed to be the youngest in my peer group.

But times have changed. Today, it seems that I am the oldest person in every activity in which I volunteer. I try to tell myself that this doesn't matter--my mind is still sharp and I am an active person--but when I get dressed to go out, I look in the mirror and see the gray hair, the wrinkles, the many signs of aging
One of the worst thing about being an old lady is that no one notices you! It seems like I meet some of the same people over and over but they don't remember me. Today I attended a meeting on a volunteer project and the committee chairman, with whom I've met for almost a year now, sent out a message afterward to all of the participants and in it called me by the wrong first name!

I have a theory--the best spy would be an old lady. No one notices old ladies. No one takes us seriously. No one pays attention to us. We are forgettable.

I'm not ready to give up living, volunteering, participating. Recently on a volunteer project, one of the others asked me if I was "up to this." I think she judged, by my appearance, that I was "too old" to participate. Granted, I am certainly not as capable, physically, as I once was, but I'm not ready yet to retire to the "home."

I found the following poem on the internet--no indication of who wrote it so if anyone knows please tell me. It expresses how I feel:

do not judge me

wrinkles, gray hair and hearing aids.
glasses, walking sticks, and dentures.
although when you look at me, this is what you see,
do not be a judge of me, for there is more of me to see
individual and human, I am unique, alive with personality, ME,
do not judge me

To "old ladies" everywhere--we rock!!!


Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day

"Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation's service. There are many stories as to its actual beginnings, with over two dozen cities and towns laying claim to being the birthplace of Memorial Day. There is also evidence that organized women's groups in the South were decorating graves before the end of the Civil War: a hymn published in 1867, "Kneel Where Our Loves are Sleeping" by Nella L. Sweet carried the dedication "To The Ladies of the South who are Decorating the Graves of the Confederate Dead" (Source: Duke University's Historic American Sheet Music, 1850-1920). While Waterloo N.Y. was officially declared the birthplace of Memorial Day by President Lyndon Johnson in May 1966, it's difficult to prove conclusively the origins of the day. It is more likely that it had many separate beginnings; each of those towns and every planned or spontaneous gathering of people to honor the war dead in the 1860's tapped into the general human need to honor our dead....It is not important who was the very first, what is important is that Memorial Day was established. Memorial Day is not about division. It is about reconciliation; it is about coming together to honor those who gave their all." (courtesy

As a child, I remember going to the cemetery with my grandmother, the daughter of a Confederate war veteran, on Decoration Day and taking bunches of peonies to decorate the graves. It is a tradition that we should continue to follow, to memorialize those gave their lives for our country.

Freedom is not Free

I watched the flag pass by one day, It fluttered in the breeze.

A young Service man saluted it, And then he stood at ease.

I looked at him in uniform So young, so tall, so proud,

With hair cut square and eyes alert He'd stand out in any crowd.

I thought how many men like him Had fallen through the years.

How many died on foreign soil How many mothers' tears?

How many pilots' planes shot down? How many died at sea

How many foxholes were soldiers' graves? No, freedom isn't free.

I heard the sound of Taps one night, When everything was still,

I listened to the bugler play And felt a sudden chill.

I wondered just how many times That Taps had meant "Amen,"

When a flag had draped a coffin. Of a brother or a friend.

I thought of all the children, Of the mothers and the wives,

Of fathers, sons and husbands With interrupted lives.

I thought about a graveyard At the bottom of the sea

Of unmarked graves in Arlington. No, freedom isn't free.

LCDR Kelly Strong, USCG - Copyright 1981

To many today, Memorial Day is primarily a holiday that gives us a three-day break from work and signals the unofficial beginning of summer. But let us all think about the meaning of the words in the above poem, and remember the reason why the holiday exists.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Frost Warning

Last night's weather report warned that we were under a frost advisory from 3 am to 9 am today (May 19). My Dad, who gardened in this area for half a century, always said that May 10 was the safe date for planting frost-tender plants. Our Master Gardener organization says the safe date is May 15. I started planting tender annuals last week so the news that we might have a frost this late in the season was worrysome.

I wasn't worried about my perennial plants, such as those shown along my side walk. The blue plants blooming in this picture are some that I grew from seed our first year here (11 years ago). Unfortunately, I don't remember what they are. They bloom reliably each May, but only bloom once.

I was worried about tender plants in the ground as well as in pots. Last week I purchased three of these begonia plants to hang from my porch and would have hated to lose them, but they came through fine.

I just planted this pot over the weekend. It has impatiens plants and an astilbe which was given to me by a friend. I don't know what color the astilbe is and hope it doesn't end up clashing with the impatiens.

I love the pot trellis shown in the foreground of this picture. It came from the Southern States store. In it is a red mandevilla purchased at the grocery store. In the background can be seen the hanging tomato planter Clliff bought me. The tomato plant (Parks Whopper) also looks just fine.

This pot, also recently planted, contains red and yellow superbells, blue lobelia, and "Lemon Symphony" daisies (Osteospermum hybrid), a "Proven Winners" plant.

I actually started this blog entry on Tuesday May 19, but didn't finish it. Today is thurs May 21. I don't know how to change the date once the draft has been saved.

Happy Memorial Day weekend to all.


Friday, May 8, 2009

We Were "Flocked"!

I used to wonder why old people talked so much about their ailments, their doctor visits, and their medicines. Now I understand it -- when you reach our ages, taking medicines for a variety of conditions becomes a daily routine, and doctor visits often occur weekly. From time to time, our bodies require medical intervention to keep them functioning properly.

Cliff had surgery last Tuesday morning and spent the rest of the week in the hospital. He came through it well but will require a period of recovery. The hospital is in another town, so I drove over every morning and back home every evening.

Thursday evening when I arrived home, I was stunned to see about a dozen pink flamingos in my front yard! I could not imagine what in the world was going on, or who did it, or why.

Then I saw a sheet that was attached to one of the flamingos: It said "You've been flocked by friends" and was signed with the names of the senders. It went on to explain that this is done by a local charity as a fundraiser. The "flocking" is a way for people to send congratulations, happy birthday, get well soon--any occasion where this sort of surprise would be appropriate. The charity receives a donation from the sender, and often also from the recipient.

The flamingos were not ours to keep; they were removed on Sunday but fortunately not until after Cliff got back home, so he got to see them. I do wonder what my neighbors thought when they saw all of those pink plastic flamingos, wearing straw hats no less, in our front yard.

To our friends who sent them, a big "thank you." We enjoyed them and they certainly lifted my spirits when I returned home that evening after a difficult day.


Monday, May 4, 2009

I Love a Parade

I have always enjoyed parades, so when the opportunity arose to ride in two parades at the 82nd Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival in Winchester, VA, we were delighted to participate.

We rode in the vehicle shown above, a "deuce and a half" is what the guys call it. I believe it is an old Marine Corps vehicle. The vehicle represented our town's American Legion post.

Below, Cliff and me in the back of the vehicle, awaiting our entry into the Firefighters' parade lineup.

It was fun to see the lovely homes along the parade route and the lawn parties that are a long-standing tradition during the festival.

The drawback of being in a parade is that you don't get to see much of the rest of it. This adorable float was behind us in Grand Feature parade. We had glimpses of other participants but not many.

It was very moving when spectators stood and applauded as the "deuce" passed by, expressing their appreciation for the service of our military and veterans.

The picture at left is the "big apple" that has been a Winchester landmark as long as I can remember.

Winchester, VA is a great place to visit any time of year, and especially in spring during the annual Apple Blossom Festival.


Friday, May 1, 2009

Where's Mama Robin?

My sister gave me a basket that hangs on a wall. It now hangs on the wall next to my side porch. Each year I plant it with annuals. The other day I discovered that a bird had made a nest in the basket, and there was a single, robins-egg blue egg in the nest, but no robins hovered nearby. I have looked at the nest every day since, but no sign of any birds near the nest, only the solitary egg. I see plenty of robins elsewhere in the yard, but none seems to pay any attention to this nest. What could have happened to the mama robin? I hate to think of the possibilities.