Random Acts of "Kindness"

Posts tagged ‘outdoors’

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!

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IT IS THE ICE

I like snow — I like the frosting on the trees, and the houses. The air seems fresher, maybe because it has been washed by the snow. When I was younger, I enjoyed many activities outside — ice skating, cross country skiing. Even younger it included sledding, making snowman and forts. Snowball fights.

Sadly, now — for the most part, I just enjoy looking at it, staying inside where it is warm or if I’m really adventurous — wandering the neighborhood — camera in hand — taking photos. As I write this I’m thinking of a photo I took of a garage roof, where the snow reminded me of a nun’s veil.

After a day, the snow begins to darken, reflecting the life of the city. As much as I like the snow — I DISLIKE THE ICE. This year, so far, we have had less than an inch of snow on two separate occasions. Both times, the snow had just fallen, when the warmth of the city turned it into ice. I would love to stay inside and wait for the ice to melt. But our dog Robin, DOES NOT agree. It would be lovely if we could open the door to the back yard and leave her out to do her business. She does not think that is what a backyard is for. She has to be out in the neighborhood, looking for squirrels or the treasures they leave behind.

As I have gotten older, I pay more attention to the soles of my shoes and boots. They have to have a good tread that will navigate the snow and ice. I also pay more attention to where I am walking. I’ll chose the north side of a street because it gets more sun. I’ll change where I walk because I know the paths will have been shoveled. I’ll walk in the snow covered grass if it is safer. Or if I don’t have Robin with me, I might walk on the side of the street, close to the cars.

I don’t remember having these concerns when I was younger. Then I just dressed appropriately, kept warm and went out to play in the snow. Last night I stopped in a store and noticed a much younger woman with her hand in bandages. I asked if she tangled with the ice. Sadly she did and broke her wrist. Snow is predicted. This time they are actually talking inches. We have just experienced a very warm week. The ground will be warm. Hopefully I will stay upright, on two feet.

AWAKENED

I had a most interesting week — in a weeks time I have revisited many of the talents and interests I had over the years. Many of them slipped by the wayside without my noticing it. Too busy, too many other things occupying my time. Years ago, I belonged to the Nature Club at our campground. This week, Sunday, I attended a presentation on a wetland area that is only a few miles from our campground. Even though it has been there for quite a few years, I was completely unaware of its existence. The person giving the presentation had interesting slides of the plants, animals and insects that inhabited the area.

Two days later, I saw a member I knew from the Nature Club at a restaurant. The very next day, I ran into another person who had helped me with the float on a parade. The back to back experiences reminded me of not only the fun I used to have, but also how much I have forgotten. Too many years have passed!

That same day, I attended a colored pencil drawing program hosted by the nature club. I haven’t drawn in years — not that I have ever been very skilled. I picked a flower to capture on a wood panel. All the supplies and pencils were provided. The experience reminded me of when I first started painting 30 years ago. It was an invitational program put on by the campground. Bring your body and talent and we will provide the rest. My rendition of that painting opened up a new world for me. I didn’t think I could paint — I was proved wrong. Thankfully the technique I learned this week was easy to adapt and the flower I colored surprised me. Instead of hiding in a drawer, it is occupying a space on our wall. My family thinks I should pick up my paint brushes again. They may be right.

While I was occupied with colored pencils, I learned of nature activities coming up on the weekend. A nature hike and later, a nature presentation of life in early America. Both sounded interesting — I planned to attend. Then I WORRIED. Would I be able to walk on a two mile hike? Would my knees allow me to do it? I decided that I would hike as far as I could then walk back and leave.

I didn’t need to worry. I arrived at the prearranged spot and saw the leader putting down a plastic ground cover. The plan was to DRAW, then hike. I WONDERED HOW not only would I get DOWN on the ground, HOW would I get back UP?

I needn’t have worried. The leader asked me to wait, he had something in the car for me. HE DID! He had his mother’s wooden folding chair. I WAS VERY COMFORTABLE. I still couldn’t draw — a bird, copied out of one of his books. (My grandson could have done better!) A tree — some resemblance but nothing to brag about. I think I will try to pick up his suggestion and DRAW every day.

The presentation — EXCELLENT! I convinced my husband to accompany me. He was glad that I did. Brian “Fox” Ellis became Prince Maximilian in 1832. I was reminded of the many hours I spent in storytelling.

The only thing missing was writing. OH! I GUESS I’M DOING IT NOW!

Years ago we had bird feeders hanging in our yard. A hummingbird visited a few weeks ago — reminding me. This weekend, we hung up hummingbird feeders. We had a visit from either one hummingbird twice or two separate hummingbirds. WELCOME. ( I have plants that are beneficial for hummingbirds in my garden. The feeder is more permanent.)

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?

PRESSURES OFF

I’ve tried, and I will continue to try. I’m NOT GIVING UP — but there is no way I’m going to lose the weight before we fly. My BODY LOVES ME just the way I am. Pressures off.

I wanted to increase my energy levels — I’m not at the former level yet but then again, I’m not fifty anymore either. My expectations are high, I have something to strive for. But I’m not upset with the reality.

The forecast promised sunny skies, temperatures in the 60’s. Too nice to stay inside. My husband and I wandered to Morton’s Arboretum.  When we entered the gate, I asked if any places were closed because of the recent rains. I learned that the park had been closed for FOUR days, the underpass was under ELEVEN FEET of water. Many places were still boggy, which meant watching your step when walking off path. Like the Botanic Garden, many daffodils were ladies in waiting, but some of their neighbors were excited to show off.  The difference in access to sunshine was noticeable. I found gentle hills and today my thighs aren’t yelling. I don’t think I’m ready for mountains, but I won’t need a nap after walking a mile or being up for two hours. PROGRESS.

Still preparing, I haven’t packed yet. Still adding stuff to the pile when I think of something. I could make a list and I still might. Watching the piles grow, I’ll have to do some serious cutting. Just how many purses do I need to take? How many pairs of shoes?

Shoes — I’m finally able to wear gym shoes again. PROGRESS! When we were at the Wisconsin Dells, I was unable to walk some of the terrain because of my shoes. I found a pair of new gym shoes that I bought before I had issues with my feet. Not only do they fit, but I’ve walked two miles in them just to break them in. They are definitely going.

We are hoping to go to Turtle Bay on the North shore of Oahu. I tried to do some advance planning on the computer which generated challenges of its own. I learned that the park on the North Shore is now run by the Audubon society. I’m expecting the terrain to be anything but flat. My son is thinking about climbing Diamond Head again. I have made some progress but I don’t think I’m up to the climb and I know my knees wouldn’t do the crawl through the tunnel. I’m realistic — some things aren’t going to change.

“My friends in high places” are excited. I KNOW they are going with us, or will drop in when we are there. I won’t need to be locked out on the patio. I’m sure “they” will have other surprises in mind.

TURNING THE PAGE

New day, new month — for a short time, warmer weather. A snow storm is predicted for the North, I’m glad we don’t live up there. I’m writing this before we fly, but I will publish it while we are gone. Looking at my schedule, I realized that it wouldn’t hurt to write a few rambles in advance. From experience, I know it will take me a few days, or weeks to catch up. Hopefully not months.

It is hard to pack for 80 degrees when the temperature is 40. I get cold easily, and I don’t want to weigh down the luggage with cold weather gear. God took pity on me and gave us a couple of 80 degree days. It should come as no surprise when I write that I LOVE to be OUTSIDE when it is warm. I must take after my mother. My dad was very content to be INSIDE. In his later years, he walked to church or to the store but he wasn’t a person to go on picnics or to the beach.

Mother’s Day is approaching. I’ve heard that my mother liked pansies. I have been ignoring the opportunity to BUY flowering baskets or other plants. After all, I’m not going to be home — who will water them? I have to admit that I gave in yesterday. My younger grandchildren will be at our house while I am gone. At the store picking up more supplies, I noticed the price of the hanging baskets had been reduced. I’ll admit that they weren’t beautiful, but considering the price, three came home with me — pansies, begonias and geraniums. They tolerate cooler temperatures. Since they weren’t beautiful, I’m taking a chance that they will survive without me. I LIKE hanging baskets — the colors of the flowers greet my eyes when I’m coming and going. I don’t have to get down on my knees to take care of them.

Trips are over so quickly, but a lot of the fun is in the planning. I was at Costco yesterday, processing the film from my camera. By now you know I take A LOT of photo’s. I wanted the camera to be ready for Hawaii. Imagine my surprise when photo’s I had deleted from Botanical Garden were still on the camera. The memory card said that it contained NO PICTURES.  IT LIED. I deleted the pictures again, placed the card in the machine and surprise — all 580 were still there. This would never do. Repeating the sequence a few more times with the same results, I was frustrated! The person working in photo’s called for someone to help me. Thankfully, he knew how to reformat the card. My plans for today have changed. I PLANNED to stay home, get ready for the trip. INSTEAD I’m going out with my camera to play — we have another beautiful day,  flowers are in bloom, so are some of the trees. I’m sure I will have a few opportunities to take a couple of photos. I want to make sure that my camera is ready for the trip too!

I looked over my CD’s, writing down the names of the ones I have. I refreshed my memory as to the Hawaiian cookbooks I have. I thought I had two, SURPRISE, another was hiding next to them on the shelf. I’ve already found a new recipe to try when I come home. Maybe this time I won’t come home with a new book but I’m sure there will be plenty of opportunities to shop. And I’m sure I will have PLENTY OF “HELP.”

SHARE YOUR STORY

I have trouble thinking of the title for my thought rambles. This morning while washing clothes I thought of this title. I thought it was meant as a nudge for you — to share your stories with your friends. Often I have shared a story of mine, which in turn gave the person I was talking to the courage to share one of theirs. But then again, was the title a nudge for me?

The countdown to Hawaii continues. Last week, Woman’s World magazine had a few headlines on their cover which encouraged me to buy it: “Gina Neely grilled her way 20lbs slimmer,” “Reverse Alzheimer’s”. I didn’t have hope for the reverse Alzheimer’s title but I had to read  it. Losing 20 pounds,  another pipe dream. But I’m a dreamer. I was surprised that the magazine also featured Oahu as their get-away.

We were out in the country, opening our camper for the season. Saturday I walked to the closest lake which is about a mile away. And my body strongly suggested I return home. Bit tired when I arrived. I remembered that a few years ago I was able to walk  3 miles and still be ready for more. Times have changed! Sunday, I tried again.  This time I walked about half way behind the lake when my big toe began protesting. Reaching our camper I was glad I turned back. This Tuesday, back in the city, sun beckoned me outside. I was able to walk to a distant main road, turning around, I was half way home when whatever energy I had — LEFT. Reaching home, my pedometer read 2.33 miles. PROGRESS!

This morning I was grousing about my weight, it loves me and IS NOT LEAVING! Then I remembered a lovely dinner I attended on Tuesday night — Mediterranean flavors, — seven bountiful appetizers , 3 entrees and a lovely desert platter. The evening was sponsored by a local hospital, the program on vitamins and nutrition. I totally enjoyed my share of the food!

Tuesday night, I learned a friend is celebrating her 70th birthday soon. I knew just the present to give her. Our youngest granddaughter painted a picture when she was 2 and 1/2. In the painting I saw an angel. Of course I shared my photo of the painting with friends. For a few years my friend has requested a copy of the photo. It would be a perfect present if I could find the disk. FINDING — the quest began. I would not be exaggerating if I said I take a lot of photos, putting them on a disk for safe keeping. (I also make hard copies of the ones I really like. Technology is changing too quickly)  I easily have 12 disks covering a year but probably it is much more than that. Long story short — with the “help” of my friends, I found the disk and was able to enlarge the photo.

Did I mention that the countdown to Hawaii has begun. Wednesday, I was reaching for a can on my filing cabinet. It fell out of my hands onto the floor. Retrieving the contents, I found a bag with brochures from our last trip to Hawaii, including a map and a brochure from a hidden restaurant that we enjoyed. I mentioned the find to our son. He laughed and asked if the can had been nudged. Just a little “HELP”.

Please Share YOUR STORIES with others, they might also help you to see the “help” in your life.

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