Monday, January 23, 2023

WHATEVER ~ For lack of a better title.

My life is mostly memories now, and whether they are as the caressing warmth of a late summer day, or as the jarring chill of an early winter morning, they are the sum of my existence.

Well…  maybe.

It’s a good feeling to think I really mattered in life, but the truth of it all is that I will never know if I ever mattered at all. 

Our neighbor next door on the corner of our block, came into a windfall of money just as the wife was becoming really depressed with all the operations she had yet to endure after a scooter accident a year ago.  After selling their home to a corporation that fixes up homes to sell again, they disappeared out of our existence in less than a weeks’ time.

A group of workers came in and literally wiped our neighbors’ existence off the face of our block, by ripping out their entire garden and disposing of it at the landfill.  It was quite jolting to see nothing left but a row of tiny new shrubs along the front of the house.  A solemn reminder that we don’t always escape the whiteout of our existence when we no longer exist in that time. 

I suppose it may be different for families whose generations pass on their legacy, but my legacy will be only what remains in the minds of those who knew me and cared about me.  When they pass on or forget, it will be as if I, my pets, and my gardens never existed.  It is a sobering thought that doesn’t amuse.

Basically, my legacy is only what exists in present tense.  The sum of me is me today, at this moment in time… nothing more, and nothing less. 

I’m beginning to feel the shortness of  life, like I'm a nanosecond in the sea of time.

Keeper of the Ash Tree Seeds

Little Tyke

Winter Savory
Still evergreen in all this freezing weather.

Hiding in the Leaf Litter

Mockingbird in Flight

Seersucker Sedge, I think.
I moved it to a better location when it sprouted on its own last year.
It's happy here.

When one has cats, one must always check all nooks and crannies before closing any closet door.  Well… not following my advice, I was woken up at 2:00 am by a talking closet door that when swung open coughed up a perturbed cat disappearing in a flash down the hall and out of sight.  She was trapped three hours, as my medicine acts much as a sleeping pill, sending me to the depths of sleep.

She seemed fine and the day after she was surprised with a veterinary visit which almost didn’t happen.  It was a bit of a struggle to secure her in the carrier, and her visit was just a short in and out to get a urine sample.  I guess that added trauma was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

She closed down and during the next seven days she only ate one half of a three ounce can of food, refusing steak, chicken, baby food, and nine different flavors and textures of cat food, despite having an appetite stimulant applied to the inside of her ear each day.

She remained in my writing room, with the gate put back up and the cat pan reinstated in the corner.

She had another veterinary visit in the mix, but he found nothing medically wrong with her, although she had already lost a pound.  This is when one has to really start thinking outside of the box.

I overnighted an order of a Feliway Optimum pheromone plug in, played very soft music for her to listen to, and spent practically every moment of my time in my writing room with her, gently stroking and talking to her.

It was the eve of the seventh day as I laid in bed, that I heard her meowing for me.  Optimistically, I opened a can of her regular food and she ate half of it before calling it quits.  I was relieved. 

The next morning, she appeared anxiously at the gate, and ate three fourths of a can of her food.  There was no stopping her after that. 

Deciding to feed her smaller portions more times of the day to put her weight back on, she is doing just fine now.  In all of this mix, I had realized that I had been ignoring her way too often, and am currently working on strengthening the lovely bond between us. 

Only a person with a cat knows what I am talking about.  When a cat totally trusts one, it gives one that feeling we often attribute to loving us.  Whatever it is, it’s one of the best feelings in the world to me.

Lyre-leaf Sage sheltered admist the moss on the lee side of an old log.

Freeze damage to tips of Narcissus.  

Base of old gnarled Blackhaw Virburnum.
Planted when I started the garden.

Sheltered in the driftwood.

Tough daffodil with buds ready to open.
Mind you, this is still January.

Seed pods of Appalachian Mock Orange

The weather fluctuates between freezing then warm, then not so warm, then repeat, much like it always does this time of year in the middle of winter.  Rain is always plentiful, and I bite my lip to not utters these words “not again”; as rain once again caresses the ground in gentle drops, while a thunderstorm could be coming in just over the far horizon.

Without this weather, our spring would be a failure.  This abundance of water brings on the lushness that overruns our gardens in springtime when the moans of the weed picking blues might be heard over the buzz of plants new to the block greedily staking out their territory.

We have an appointment for a week of rain near this month’s end.

Not again.


Soaking up the sun on a chilly day.

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Sunday, January 1, 2023

The Year is New, but My Life's Still Old :'(


It’s January now, the month that embraces winter in all of its glory and misery… giving us beauty, hand in hand, with frostbite, that mischievous Jack Frost.  Now I know Santa just fakes it when reading his letters, as I was forced to order my own rust-colored cast stone pig for the garden when Santa missed our house for the umpteenth time.  

I rarely ever celebrate New Year’s Day as new beginnings.  I think if we want to change something in our life, we will do it at that time, instead of saving our wishes up for one day of the year when we bewitchingly arise reincarnated into our perfect selves.
New Year’s Day is more about Earth’s birthday, one complete rotation around her Sun.  We celebrate our rotation through the twelve months, so why not the Earths; after all, the Earth is the mother of all life as we know it.
Happy 4.543 billion, give or take a few million years, birthday, Mother Earth!  Without you, we wouldn’t even be an afterthought.

Bleak is a common expression of cold winters without snow, when the evergreens and naked ones stand guard as seeds and spores left from the previous summer and fall wait patiently hidden in the rough textures of soil until warmth beckons germination. 

It’s also the time when nature’s hardy flora somewhat hibernates through these dismal winter months, their roots growing when the ground is thawed and resting when the ground is frozen until warmth signals leafing out time.

Winter has a beauty of its own when the skeletons of tree and shrub limbs show us all their glorious curves and twists against the horizon.  Bronzed flower stems with empty seed heads decorate the melancholy emptiness while browned grasses lay as blankets across the landscape as others stand erect defying the wind.

Swamp Sunflower

When I look at my garden, I often tell you I don’t always see the specialness in it.  Most things lay wasted in winter, but there is a mystery in the front garden where the oak leaves never fall… a little plant that sprouts in the areas that are considered sunny in summer, carpeting the ground in green like a groundcover of a million tiny plants, no matter how cold it gets.  It dies out by summer, and I guess, it will always be a lovely mystery to me. 

My backyard has greens popping up everywhere that stay short during the winter.  I guess, one might harshly call all those little sprouts weeds, but I’d rather just welcome them as groundcover that gives the garden some life.

Bottom of photo: Smilax bona-nox, the Saw Greenbrier, a vine, 
can be controlled with herbicides but has been known to adapt
 to the effects of them. It has also been known to not be affected at all. 
Some herbicides have been known to also help it grow 
instead of causing it to die. 

Each leaf has a row of prickles around it 
and while all parts are edible whether raw or cooked,
it can be very difficult to live with in the garden.  

Middle: Narcissus
Top: Bottlebrush Grass, Elymus hystrix  
Evergreen in winter, blooming in late spring.

Saw Greenbrier

Winter groundcover with no identification.

First year plants of the biennial Brown Eyed Susan, Rudbeckia triloba.
It moved into the garden on its own, and reproduces adbuntantly each year.  
Can be transplanted easily.

I’ve seen sporadic traces of compressed pellets of seed husks that the opossum has spit out after chewing the sunflower chips we leave for it, so these deep freezes haven’t killed it.  It has a warm place somewhere to bed down.

Last night when the dog was to be taken out in the dark for a short walk after Vic arrived home from work, Dustin began frantically barking as the door was opened.  Vic took Dustin around to the side door while I tried to remain frozen at the storm door taking photos of a fat fluffy opossum feeding on a pile of sunflower hearts.

It moved behind the planter when Vic and Dustin walked down the driveway, then cautiously moved back out to the seeds when they crossed the street to our neighbors’ yard.  I was taking photos with a cell phone through the glass at night, so the photos are what they are.

A pleasant surprise for me and a comfort knowing it’s still alive.  Isn’t it a bit crazy how easily we get attached to these marvelous creatures?  I never see these critters enough times to tell them apart, so I’m not 100% sure this isn’t a new one.  So be it.

Virginia Opossum, a marsupial , and a nocturnal omnivore.
Around 60 million years on the earth, 
beginning around the time of mammoths and sabre-toothed tigers

Life span of 2-3 years in nature, 
becoming geriatric during the last 6 months of its life.
Its four feet are hands with opposable thumbs on the hind two.

The tail is like a safety belt to keep it safe.  
It doesn't sleep hanging upsidedown.

The female can give birth up to 20 babies, up to 3 times a year.
A female is pregnant only from 11 to 13 days before the birth.
After leaving the birth canal, the babies (Joey's) are the size of a honey bee.

She helps them crawl up her abdomen to the pouch 
with the mammary glands, which only have 13 teats.  
The first 13 to arrive in the pouch will survive.

The Joeys don't suckle, as milk is supplied constantly to their mouth.  
Wildlife Rehilibating Centers tube feed orphaned Joeys.   

The Joeys will stay in the pouch for about 2 1/2 to 3 months, 
making her eventually fat in the middle as they grow.
When they venture outside the pouch, they will ride piggyback style, 
hanging onto her fur for another month.  
(That's a lot of weight on her back.)

After 4 months, from time to time one will fall off and is on its own.
Survival rate from then on is below 50%.

The Opossum's defensive tactics work against it in todays modern world.  
Its fainting when stressed defense can get it killed on the highway, 
where they are attracted to food waste left by humans.

The food was on the porch as the ground was iced.
Usually I leave food at the bird feeder.  

The rest of the year they feed on food the plants in the garden produce,
although some may find that climbing up the shepherds hook 
will have a nice surprise for them.

We are here at the first day of another year of Earth’s life, and I’m grateful for the complicated existence she has given me even though she tries to kill me off occasionally… she’s complicated that way.

May you look at your little patch of earth with optimism, for it will love you as much as you love it back.  May common sense and good luck keep you safe, and may your feet stay grounded to the earth while your head is in the clouds.

Happy New Year!


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