Random Acts of "Kindness"

Posts tagged ‘GARDEN’


My father’s mother used to grow beautiful African violets. I didn’t pay attention to the care she gave them, I just liked the flowers — purple, white, doubles, pink. I bought an African violet when we first moved into our house and it promptly died. Not giving up easily — I bought another. Then another — and so on and so on. It didn’t take many plants before I learned that I didn’t have a green thumb. I didn’t know if I watered them too much or not enough. I learned that they needed to be watered from the roots — which I did. They had access to light, not bright sunshine but filtered light. Didn’t matter — they picked up their leaves and left.

Since I have had so much success with African violets, I am AMAZED that a plant that was given to me more than twenty years ago is still not only alive but thriving. I DON’T FERTILIZE IT, weeks go by when I forget to water it. It still blooms every spring. Sometimes it overgrows its pot, a portion of it wilts and the rest recovers.

This plant was given to me by MUSCLES. I think I have written at least one thought ramble about him, and referred to him in others. Muscles was a VERY DARK, elderly African American man. He adopted our family when our children were small. He took them to many Cub games and planted a garden in our back yard. His tomato plants were taller than our garage. Our back yard didn’t get much sun, so we didn’t get many tomatoes. He planted two apple trees and a lilac bush at our camper. Sadly because of the tornado, only the lilac bush is surviving and blooming.

So why do I mention this now. Because I remembered to water the plant today and it looks fantastic. More often than not I forget to water it and NEVER feed it. The only reason it is surviving is that thankfully someone unseen is taking care of it. I’ll admit that when I see the plant, I think of Muscles and the difference he made in our lives.



I hate to admit it! I really hate to admit it but I’ve gotten OLD. Now I know that we have had an extremely busy couple of months. We were home a total of FOUR DAYS after we closed the camper for the winter. During that time I needed to put away all of the food that we didn’t eat during the summer, catch up on the mail, change summer clothes for winter and prepare for our next trip.

We were back home a total of five days before our grandchildren came for the weekend. The weekend was lovely — we took advantage of the good weather and went to the zoo. Next, after the kids went home –taking advantage of the good weather, I went to the Garden. Then we had a couple of back to back doctor visits. No rest for the weary!

Still switching clothes and getting ready for our granddaughter’s and great grand’s visit for Thanksgiving.
And COOKING in advance for the feast. Taking a break, getting off my feet — I watched a cooking show on Thanksgiving. Now I will admit that I have cooked turkey for many, many, many years. BUT I learned something new. The chef I watched recommended taking out the wishbone for easier cutting and removing the breast from the skeleton. I’ve deboned many chicken breasts so I TRIED IT! I couldn’t get the wishbone out BUT filleting the breast, cutting the meat when it was off the bone was EASY! I didn’t have to wrestle with the whole turkey. Hopefully I will remember this trick.

Granddaughter and great grand (3 years old) arrived. The visit was LOVELY — even Robin liked both of them. More family staying at the house — more out and about. I wanted some of the energy from the children. They DIDN’T SHARE! Our granddaughter had a bucket list of things she wanted to do. During the time span that they were in town I got more than 40,000 steps on my Fitbit. My daughter told me I was the energizer bunny — just keep going and going. She is right! I took more than 500 photos on my camera. Every day I prayed for ENERGY. The day that they were leaving we stopped at the Conservatory before heading for the airport. In the room that had a slide, a four year old girl was with her family. The two girls had a lovely time, the adults were able to enjoy their energy from ground level. I had to say “Thank You”. Now I know that many things just naturally occur in life, but I have had many years of receiving “help” from “my friends” and I DON’T TAKE that “help” for granted.

The “Grand’s are safely home and I’m charging my batteries. Oh, did you just say that Christmas is coming?


The morning sunrise promised a beautiful day. The weatherman warned of an approaching front that would bring cool weather. We have been extremely fortunate — November and the temperature was still in the 60’s. We all knew that the summer weather couldn’t last, even though we were hoping it would. I asked my husband if he wanted to go to the Botanic Gardens, and I wasn’t at all surprised when he suggested I go by myself.

Since the Gardens is close to Lake Michigan, I knew the temperature might be cooler. I wore my hooded sweatshirt from Hawaii, topped with a yellow fleece vest. The vest had zipper pockets. I could travel without a purse, and still have room to safely carry my cell phone and wallet. Have camera, will travel! I was off.

Even though it was a beautiful day, the Garden wasn’t crowded. I parked closer, realizing that my knees might be problems on my return. The garden was already preparing for colder temperatures. The table in front that highlighted flowers was gone, but the front was ablaze with colorful purple mums. The entry arch’s were highlighted by yellow mums. The fountain in the lake was already off. I wondered about the waterfall. I was surprised by the roar of water. Looking for the source, I saw water bubbling up in the lagoon. Asking various garden workers, I learned they were emptying the fountains so the pipes wouldn’t freeze.

Although there weren’t as many blooming plants, I still found enough to catch my interest. Maybe I was paying more attention. At the camper, we had a plant with very interesting leaves. I bought it after the tornado, but if it had a name, I hadn’t written it down were I could find it. When we returned in October, the plant was covered with lovely daisies. At the garden that day, I learned the plant was Montauk Daisy, aster family, from Japan. One mystery solved.

Fall flowers were in bloom, Christmas lights were up and in some cases on. The leaves sported fall colors. I had plenty of opportunities to take pictures. The waterfall was still cascading down the hill. I stopped for awhile to enjoy the sound. I have to admit that I stopped more often than normal. My knees, although not screaming, were making their presence known. I’ll also admit, that I didn’t let them dictate my path — I walked my normal route — and the carillon bells were still ringing on the hour — although they were still on daylight saving time.

Crossing the bridge, I stopped to watch and photo a female mallard whose head was tucked under a wing as her feet continued to paddle. A tall gentleman was across the bridge standing near the waters edge with his camera focused. I wondered what he had found of interest. He showed me his photos and asked if he could take my picture. I now have two photos on my computer. The gentleman was from China, in our country 14 years. Chicago reminds him of home, it has the same four seasons.

I finally admitted I was hungry and headed for the cafe. They had a quinoa salad that I had been tempted to try. I bought a salad and picked up a plastic fork and a napkin, before heading outside. I found a table near the roaring water, put the salad, napkin and fork down before sitting down myself. THE NAPKIN AND FORK WERE GONE! WHERE? Not on the floor, not on a chair — not visible anywhere. I checked my pockets — empty. It wasn’t windy or even breezy — ?? I went back into the cafe to get another fork. I really don’t care for plastic utensils. There was a long line by the plastic utensils. I noticed they had metal silverware at another station. I’m STILL PERPLEXED! Where did they go? I was alone, wasn’t I?


I have been told many times that I have talents that I don’t use. No hints have been given as to what those talents are. I just keep muddling through — trying to do the best that I can. I have shared that I try to meditate, but only on a very rare occasion do I get an image or connection. Exactly what is supposed to occur when you meditate? I don’t know. Sometimes I will get an image, sometimes I will see light — blue, yellow, clear. Most of the time I have a blank screen where nothing happens. But sometimes I get a surprise.

I was at Botanical Garden — enjoying the sunshine, the breeze, the day. It was cool — jacket needed, I was glad my hat could be fastened. The daffodils were still in bloom, crab apple trees waiting for warmer weather. The waterfall was running. I stopped to catch my breathe and listen to the running water. Before I sat down, I read a note about the cherry trees that the Japanese government had given to Washington DC and also The Botanic Garden.

Sitting on a bench to rest, I closed my eyes and watched as a gray image dressed in ceremonial garb came towards me. The image stopped within touching distance — too close if it would have been an actual person. I was surprised by the image, and although I tried to discern more about it — the image disappeared before I could tell if it was male or female, and what the garments actually were. I just had the impression they weren’t normal American clothing.

From the waterfall, I wandered to the Japanese Garden. I usually try to stop and watch with closed eyes (meditate?) at one of the secluded areas but the Garden was too busy to try. As is my practice, I wandered over to the island, crossing the bridge through the wooded area, visiting my favorite places, talking to others and taking pictures.

At the end of the wooded area, in the sunshine, protected from the wind, I stopped again on a bench — closing my eyes. I was amazed to watch many gray figures wander past. I don’t remember most of them, but one was a farmer in overalls with a woman walking with him. They were proceeding down the path, heading for the entrance. I watched for a minute, then decided that maybe it was time to leave.

I stopped for a bite to eat at the cafe. Since it was a beautiful day, I wanted to sit outside. An oriental couple were leaving as I looked for an empty table. “Thank You” my response to my world. I saw a young woman looking for a place to sit. Everything was taken, so she sat on the bench by the fence. Since I was alone, I asked her to join me. SURPRISE (not really)– the woman was Japanese, a teacher who taught the Japanese language to her students in a high school.


I found a copy of my thought ramble SERENITY GARDEN on my computer. I don’t know if I published it on my blog or included it in my book JOURNEY WITH ME. I found it interesting to read — the ramble reminded me of when the garden was created — my wilderness space removed and the serenity garden born with its bird bath, shepherd statue and 31 plants.

The tornado, fallen trees and equipment needed to clean up the mess took its toll on my garden. The seven sister rose survived, the sunrise sunset rose reduced to a few stems. A few green leaves showed were Hostas had been. Thankfully the bird bath, shepherd and angel boy holding the puppy survived. If I wrote that the garden was sad, I would be understating the fact. Too sad, I went shopping for plants and came back with a few annuals for color. Each trip ended with a few more plants for the garden, some annual, some perennial. .

Fast forward six weeks — imagine my surprise when I saw 6 roses in bloom. A couple of days later, I counted 14. Surprising me, more of the plants that I had purchased were in bloom — The shades of the garden was pink — the color of love. Most of the plants I had purchased had their price reduced, I thought their time to bloom was over. My original garden was planted for shade, because of the trees — the plants received less sun. Shade was not my concern when I searched for plants to fill up the empty space.

When we looked for a place to put the new plant, I hadn’t paid attention to what plants were annual and which would come back next year. The Hostas have regrown, and I will admit that I have added a few more. I didn’t pay attention to the space requirements of the plants — many will need to moved. Counting plants — I have 10 annuals — 10 spaces available for new plants next year or to give more room to those requiring space to grow. The Hostas have regrown, they will need more space too. We are planning to add a new, bigger deck. Some of the ground cover will need to be moved.

I will admit, if I see more plants at a reduced price, chances are they will come home with me. Fall is the time to plant — bulbs anyone?


I thought of Muscles this morning as I watered our African violet. I have to admit that I don’t remember to water it every week — hopefully at least once a month. Muscles gave the plant to me many years ago. He passed over many years ago, in 1990 at the age of 90. Muscles loved to garden — that is how we met him. He asked Terri, our youngest daughter at the time, if he could plant a garden in our yard. When my husband met him, Tom agreed.

I should mention that Muscles was a very dark African American — possibly the shade of dark mahogany. Although my children are a good mix of many countries, they look like typical Swedes — fair skinned, blonde hair. Our neighbors did a double take when they saw our children with Muscles. My husband is from the South — his family is still very prejudiced. The army whittled away at my husband’s prejudice and Muscles erased the rest. He adopted our family and we took him camping, fed him meals when he stopped by and invited him to stay overnight on many occasions. In fact, it was our house that he had a stroke that sent him to the VA.

Muscles came to mind when I was watering the plant. My grandmother loved African violets. She watered and fed them regularly. Before I received the plant from Muscles, I acquired a few plants myself. THEY NEVER SURVIVED. Here I have this plant that Muscles gave me, it blooms every year. The plant is over 25 years old. HE MUST BE TAKING CARE OF IT. If it depended on me — it would no longer be green.

I think he is taking care of the apple tree at the camper too. For many years it didn’t have any fruit. In 2012, it had ten apples. They were delicious. We DON’T SPRAY the tree. Last year, it had too many to count. This year — none. I’ve heard that the snowy, cold spring delayed many fruit trees from blooming. It was a very snowy winter, it has been a very rainy summer. The predictions for the coming winter are challenging.

I recently mailed birthday cards to our friends and family. Many are born in September and October — almost an even dozen. Muscles is part of that group — he was born on October 1st.


Since I started the Fast Metabolism diet I have been drinking Sassy water which was recommended in the Flat Belly Diet book. Besides water, it contains peeled cucumber, sliced lemon, grated ginger and fresh mint leaves. Returning from the camper, I needed to make a new batch. I picked some mint from the plants growing by our back gate — the plants were healthy, very abundant, getting ready to flower.

The next morning, taking out some recyclable material before the garbage men came, I noticed bare dirt were my mint had been. I was perplexed. Who pulled the mint? I found the remains in my neighbor’s garbage can. He pulled the weeds by his gate and our mint came along. My son told me our neighbor didn’t know it was mint, the plants looked like weeds. I rescued some plants, and dug a hole in a shady part of our yard far from my neighbor. Hopefully they will like their new home. Since I didn’t cut off the tops, the remaining leaves are even more dried out. I might try to salvage the dry leaves. Time will tell.

Time is telling another story. Many years ago when my children were in grammar school, our middle daughter came home with an adult man she knew from her friends on our block. My daughter is fair skinned, very blonde. The man was tall, muscular, the color of dark mahogany. The time was somewhere in the early 1970’s. Our neighbors were very concerned when they saw my children with him. My daughter asked if he could plant a garden in our back yard. My husband agreed. And so our family was adopted by Muscles. He loved to plant — our tomato plants were taller than our garage. Once I found a pumpkin vine growing near our fence. Muscles didn’t know how it got there. RIGHT! My dad and Muscles would sit together on the back porch and watch the garden grow. Muscles was born in 1900, my father in 1910. Muscles passed over before my father started losing his memory. Our new garage takes up most of our yard, we don’t have space for a garden anymore. I’m sure Muscles has a large garden in heaven.

This morning I noticed a pumpkin vine growing near the tree in our back yard. “Hello Muscles.”

Tag Cloud