Random Acts of "Kindness"

Posts tagged ‘GARDEN’

INGENUITY

RAIN, Rain, rain and more rain. Just watch my garden grow. And IT DID! Because of the rain, we stayed in the city. Our neighbor’s rain gauge measured more than 8 inches in May. It measured more than 1 inch , one week in June. Our garden grew. So did the WEEDS.

Once upon a time I had no problem kneeling to pull weeds. Sadly that is no longer the case. If I get down, I have a hard time getting back up. Not to mention that my knees LOUDLY PROTEST kneeling on them. To make life even more interesting, the weather changed from comfortable temperatures in the 60’s to uncomfortable 90’s. When I was younger, the high temperatures didn’t bother me. Sadly my body isn’t as flexible as it used to be.

PROBLEM — WEEDS, FERNS, ground cover, thistles –EVERYWHERE. Even with the wet ground, they were not easy to pull. I needed equipment. I needed to get down into the ground to get the roots up. I needed to be able to kneel or sit on the ground. NEITHER was an option.

When we lost a huge tree in the tornado, we kept two pieces of the trunk. They stand on either side of the steps going up to the deck. When I stood next to the trunk, I used the tree for support and balance. Moving away from the trunk, my balance was a bit shaky. I decided to bring a cane out to the camper. While I was thinking about the cane, I remembered a walking stick my husband made for me many years ago. I found it standing right next to the microwave, waiting to be used.

The rain brought mosquitoes. I was forewarned about the problem in an e-mail. The person who warned me mentioned she used a hat, covered by netting to protect her face from the bugs when she walked her dog. Still at home, I ordered the netting and found a hat. I was set. Except at our campground they spray for mosquitoes. The second day we were there, I heard a helicopter spraying the lakes.

Mosquitoes might not be as big of as problem, but the flies still were. In fact they LIKED my ears. The hat helped. It protected me from mosquitoes and flies. It provided a little bit of shade for my face. I could easily see through the screening. The netting was long enough that I could tuck it into the front and back of my shirt.

The hat didn’t help with the temperatures. I tried to work in the garden before the temperature climbed. I quickly discovered that wind made a BIG difference. If a breeze blew, it was more comfortable. I got a timer and set it for 10 – 15 minutes. Sometimes I stopped before the timer went off. Sometimes I didn’t hear the timer. Sometimes the roots were too strong for me.

Thankfully my husband took pity on me and HELPED!

CRABAPPLES

The crabapple trees were in bloom in the city. They reminded me of the pathway by the lagoon at Botanic Garden, planted with pink crabapple trees. Absolutely beautiful when in bloom.

Our cool, wet weather had delayed the blooming of flowers and trees. Normally the trees were in bloom by Mother’s Day. Sun was out, temperature hinted at seventy. Visit to the garden planned.

I could NOT find my membership card. Luckily our old car was back in the city. It had a membership sticker that would allow access to the Garden. I called the Garden to request a new sticker for the new car and a replacement for my missing card. I DID NOT ask if the crabapples were in bloom.

Traffic to the garden was light. Since it was one of the first sunny days in weeks, the parking lots were full but I found a place by the walking path. My knee had been acting up in the morning so I planned a shorter walk, maybe sit at more places.

Entering the Garden, I overheard a child pointing at a turtle underwater. The turtle was huge, reminding me of turtles in Hawaii. I tried to capture it with my camera but it was too far away to get a good shot. Stopping to sit at a bench, I noticed a woman using walking sticks and asked a couple of questions. Two years younger than me, she shared my paternal grandmothers name. She uses the sticks for balance, finding them more useful than a cane.

I decided I would confine my picture taking to flowers that I might want to paint. In the next Garden, I noticed a woman taking pictures with an I-Pad. She was having problems. Stopping to talk to her, I learned that the crabapple trees were not in bloom. They would need another week with warm temperatures.

Thankfully the waterfall was running. I stopped to rest on one of the benches and noticed another woman walking with the walking sticks. She shared that hers had a spring on the bottom which made them easier to use. I don’t know if I’m ready for a cane or walking sticks. But gathering information never hurts.

Sadly my knee started acting up again. I decided to cut my walk short, and get something to eat at the cafe. The salad that I had enjoyed was sold out, I would have had to settle with a pasta salad. The lines made me reconsider. Shortening my stay at the Garden I headed back for my car.

15 minutes to the Kennedy the sign announced when I was driving on the expressway. I was glad I left early. I only passed a couple of exits when the traffic slowed to a crawl. I exited at the next exit. Turning on the radio, I heard a truck had smashed into a bridge, taking out two lanes of traffic. I was very glad I had left the Garden early. THANK YOU!

INVITATION CRABAPPLES

By know you know that I enjoy Chicago’s Botanic Garden for many reasons. I don’t have the space, time or energy to maintain a lovely garden myself but I LOVE flowers. I totally enjoy walking the paths, listening to the rushing water on the waterfalls or fountains, and watching as the seasons change.

I try to get to the garden in time for the daffodils. This year I didn’t make it. I ALWAYS try to visit when the crabapples are in bloom. My first visit this year, they were trees in waiting. I totally enjoyed a huge magnolia tree. The Japanese cherry trees were in full bloom as well as the rhododendron in the Japanese Garden. I totally enjoyed the day, took many photos and hoped to return when the crabapples were in bloom.

Just ONE week later, I received an invitation, the crabapples were in bloom. I didn’t hesitate. The next day, sunny but cool found me back in the Garden. This time I arrived earlier, before the bells chimed twelve. This time, once again I found a parking spot in the closest parking lot. THANK YOU!

It is my practice to check out the salads and other food on the menu before I wander the paths. I noticed a key lime tart. I knew it wouldn’t be available when I finished my walk. I decided it needed to accompany me. I wasn’t hungry, but I LOVE key lime pie. It became the second photo I took that day. It wandered with me until I reached the waterfalls. Sitting on a bench — in the sunshine — listening to the rushing water, I totally enjoyed the tart.

The magnolia tree had lost its flowers, the Japanese cherry trees were no longer in bloom, I debated walking the Japanese Garden. I was happy that I did — azalea’s were in bloom, the Japanese retreat house was open, as well as quite a few crabapple trees. I didn’t count the number of photos I took at the Garden. I’m sure it was well over 100. Besides the crabapple trees, I have a photo of two turtles sunning on a couple of rocks. (I overheard a father pointing them out to his son.) I also have a photo of a mother robin feeding her chicks in a nest.

This time I wandered to the island, enjoying the crabapples in bloom in the lanes. White and pink trees were laden with blooms. The red blossoms were still waiting. I noticed a white crabapple tree so full of blossoms that the branches were hidden. A tram passed as I admired the tree. The driver told her group it was a weeping white crabapple. Her favorite tree in the Garden.

Stopping for a salad before leaving, it was a perfect day!

WEEDING

WEEDING

We have camped at the same place for over 40 years. During that time many people have passed through our lives. As I wandered on my scooter for the last ride of the season, I visited many of the campsites where the people I have known have either gone on to the other side or have sold out to visit other venues. Sadly each year the list grows, but I have enjoyed the time spent with them. I know people who have sold because their friends are no longer there. Thankfully we are not dependant on others to remain camping.

Back in the city on a lovely Fall day, I wandered to the Garden. Once again I was lost in time. Remembering all the places I have visited — some with my daughters. I thought of one of my aunt’s that had passed over and regretted that we had never wandered the Gardens together. Was I a member of the Garden then?

Still in the city, on another lovely Fall day we wandered to Lincoln Park zoo. We didn’t know that the weekend was Fall festival. They had many rides for the children. I was sorry that we didn’t have any of our grandchildren with us. At the same time, I was glad — we wouldn’t have had the money for all of their rides. Watching the polar bear play in the water I remembered when my grandson at the tender age of 2, was delighted when the polar bear at the time came up to window to visit with him. Lincoln Park is a small zoo, I visited there as a child and enjoy it, possibly even more, as an adult.

It is hard catching up when we close the trailer for the season. I have to find homes for all the food and stuff we brought home with us. The mail goes on forever. In fact — I still haven’t gotten to the bottom of the pile. The pile might be for higher than from our most recent trip. It might have stuff accumulated from all summer.

Then there is the food supply. Stuff that I thought was on hand is gone! I looked all over the freezer for catfish fillets that I knew we had. I found two pieces. Not enough for the three of us. Recently I was remembering some of the unusual stuff that has occurred in my life. And remembering that my life has quieted down. OR HAS IT? This morning I received a message from my husband’s sister. Her husband passed a few weeks ago. When I went to look for the message — it wasn’t there. Instead I saw her beautiful picture on the center of the page. I wrote a note back that the message was undelivered. The top of the page said “secret.” I noticed that the first letter of every word in the sentence was capitalized. I was confused. Was I receiving “Help?” Who? Was someone teaching her husband tricks?

Since I didn’t know if the “secret” message reached her, I wrote another message explaining that I was confused. Later that day, I had an avalanche in my freezer. As I put back all the fallen food — I saw an unopened package of catfish fillets. Last night, I used up the bottle of sesame oil when I was cooking. I put the item on my shopping list. Before going to the store, I went to retrieve an item from the shelves in the basement and found TWO unopened bottles of sesame oil. Did I think my life has quieted down? Nope! It just goes in different directions.

GARDEN

In the city, BEAUTIFUL FALL DAY — blue skies, sunshine, very windy. I went to the Garden. Thankfully I brought the hat my oldest daughter bought for me in Florida. It has a ties that can keep the hat on when the wind blows. I would have lost the hat at least three times. I almost did when I put it back on and forgot to tie it under my chin.

When I left the house, the temperature was in the low 60’s. I wasn’t sure how warm it would be at the Garden so I wore a long sleeve shirt and a hooded vest. Then I tied my jacket around my waist. I had to laugh when I saw my shadow. In fact, it was so silly that I had to take a photo of the strange person walking ahead of me.

It was late in the year but many flowers were in bloom. I LOVE the roses. When I first entered the Garden, a white rose was high lighted. It had a lovely fragrance. And a lovely name — MOONDANCE. I wander the Garden with camera in hand. I must admit that I probably take the same pictures each time I go. That morning, the sunshine on a bush made the leaves look like silver. A closer inspection revealed that the leaves were really green, no silver any where.

I usually follow the same route when I visit. I arrived just as the bells rang out the hour of noon. This time I decided to be good to my knees. I sat down three different times during the ramble. Each time I decided to sit, I paid attention to the wind and picked a sheltered area. I also made sure that I would be able to get back up. The first time, I looked at a sheltered brick open building but decided to sit on a bench and enjoy the fountain and white mums instead. Soon after I sat down, a dad and his little girl wandered to the space. Perfect place for her to play and good photo opportunities. I was glad I picked the bench.

I wandered down a lane that is full of flowers on both sides. In the spring, tulips and poppies hold court. They are replaced by an assortment of summer — fall varieties. They are the favorite hangout of hummingbirds and photographers. A woman stood at the ready, camera in hand. I asked if hummingbirds were still at the Garden. She replied that they had left but she was on the lookout for Monarch butterflies. She had a bigger camera than mine. When I felt the weight, I was very glad that my camera is SMALL and LIGHT. Her camera was a retirement present to herself. She has tremors in her hand and the speed of the camera keeps the tremors from showing.

The waterfall was still flowing. Another opportunity to sit and listen to the falling, singing water. I wandered to the island just as the bells rang the one o’clock hour. I thought I saw mountain mint, it smelled like mountain mint, but I was surprised when the sign read Russian Sage. If I remember, I would like to get a plant or two for our garden in the country.

After stopping for lunch in the cafe, I left the Garden as the bells chimed two o’clock. I was very surprised — my knees DID NOT hurt. I was also very surprised when I learned that I had walked over 12,262 steps.

AFRICAN VIOLET

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.

ENERGIZER BUNNY

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?

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