Sunday, September 22, 2013


I started this a week ago when it was much cooler… somehow I just never had the time (or time alone) to get back to it. I really can’t work on the computer while other folks are talking – not even while the TV is on, not that I am watching it, but it is disruptive to my few working gray cells. So I will attempt to catch up here and get this on the blog. I might also mention, a number of my fellow bloggers that I have enjoyed over the years have slowed down also… a few haven’t published since back in August, so maybe it is contagious.


At last, a real cool morning… and hopefully the beginning of more cool mornings, well, until we complain of the cold. Ungrateful pups, we are. But the temps dropped here to the upper 40s this morning. Ashley helped me bring in the crotons yesterday. I almost envied her ability to get down and wipe the dirt off the big old pots as I held the 8 foot plant diagonally while she cleaned it. I thought to myself, I used to be able to do this all by myself and then get back up and keep going… and now… well… I guess this is what happens when those numbers keep changing.

Ashley has my yard so cleaned up I can hardly believe it. When one pays extra for filling the wheelbarrow with weeds, it happens! But, she is a good kid and a good worker, and it gives her extra money for school. She has decided to change her major to teaching. Being the oldest of 5 kids she is used to children. I feel so fortunate to have her to help me. It is much more pleasant to walk out in the yard and not groan to myself about all the work that needs to be done, how shabby everything looks, or beat myself up for not doing better.

Yesterday I pulled out the zucchini plants. One yellow squash and 2 skinny eggplant plants are left. I doubt they will produce anything, but who knows. I still have beans to pick, those long string beans – pole beans they are. Blue Lake, I think. They are OK but not my favorites. I still have lots of green tomatoes and a cucumber that is just graduating from its picklehood. The yellow wax beans greatly enjoyed the inch of rain the other night. Plants do grow so much better with pure rain than water from the hose. I wonder why that is?

The fall azaleas are in full bloom and I believe I have my birthday camellia opening on the bush outside my dining room window. The late crape myrtles are still blooming. It was by chance that they got planted in-between the early blooming ones. What luck! The Beauty Berry Bush is purpling up. The coleus and Strobilanthes are huge and such beautiful spots of color in the yard.

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I have a  few  coleus in the window boxes out front – I was too lazy to replant them and they wintered over in those boxes… but they are beautiful. DSC_0161

If I have time this week, I will begin to drag out a dozen or so bird feeders. It is that time. Supposedly the hummingbirds leave today. But we still have bunches of dragonflies and butterflies galore. They seem to love the fall azaleas. And if you look carefully, you might find some other little critters!  Including some rather bizarre looking ones, and some I bet you have never noticed. Yep, these first 3 are caterpillars.

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A funny thing about September – spiders… have you ever noticed? Huge webs everywhere as they catch the autumn bug population and fatten themselves up. The spiders don’t bother me except I hate walking into their webs. I bet they don’t appreciate it either. But I have a feeling their webs will be safe from human intrusion today… I fell out in the yard yesterday. I should know better than to keep on working when I have been pushing for 4 or 5 hours. The body just quits and down I go. I spent the morning painting the inside 8x8’ door and trim around the French doors at the Train Station yesterday while the guys took my truck down the county to bring back an old showcase one of our members donated to us. Then I started cleaning it up. It has been in a barn for 15 years or so. It was just a little dirty. Ashley came about 5 minutes after I got home, so all I got was time to eat a half a sandwich, but I did sit for a wonderful surprise phone call. Today, however, I am really stiff and sore.

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Ah, the washer just stopped. Time to hang out the clothes. That is another thing I love about this time of year – cool crisp days – perfect for hanging clothes out on the line.

9-22-13: no laundry on the line today. We finally got some rain. It is warmer, in the 60s, I think the rain is over. Finished the 8x8 door yesterday, started to poly the wainscoting, and cleaned a bit more on the showcase. As usual, I am stiff today. There are flowers on the yellow wax beans. I might get some after all.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013


A FRIEND sent this to me – mostly because of the reference to the possum in it. I found myself thinking how wonderful it would be to have someone say these things about me after I am gone.

Mary A. “Pink” Mullaney was an 85-year-old Wisconsin woman who died on Sept. 1, leaving behind six children and 17 grandchildren. So adored was she by her family members that they crafted one of the loveliest obituaries we’ve ever read. It begins with “if you’re about to throw away an old pair of pantyhose, stop” — and only grows more colorful and strangely inspirational from there.

“We wanted something that showed who she was,” explained daughter Maryanne to “We said, ‘how can we be like her and carry her pinkness across?’”

Below is the family’s look back on the lessons of Mullaney’s life.

This isn’t the only amazing obituary we’ve seen this summer. Seattle-based author and editor Jane Catherine Lotter’s self-written obit went viral last month.

If you’re about to throw away an old pair of pantyhose, stop. Consider: Mary Agnes Mullaney (you probably knew her as “Pink”) who entered eternal life on Sunday, September 1, 2013. Her spirit is carried on by her six children, 17 grandchildren, three surviving siblings in New “Joisey”, and an extended family of relations and friends from every walk of life. We were blessed to learn many valuable lessons from Pink during her 85 years, among them: Never throw away old pantyhose. Use the old ones to tie gutters, child-proof cabinets, tie toilet flappers, or hang Christmas ornaments. Also: If a possum takes up residence in your shed, grab a barbecue brush to coax him out. If he doesn’t leave, brush him for twenty minutes and let him stay.

Let a dog (or two or three) share your bed. Say the rosary while you walk them.

Go to church with a chicken sandwich in your purse. Cry at the consecration, every time. Give the chicken sandwich to your homeless friend after mass.

Go to a nursing home and kiss everyone. When you learn someone’s name, share their patron saint’s story, and their feast day, so they can celebrate. Invite new friends to Thanksgiving dinner. If they are from another country and you have trouble understanding them, learn to “listen with an accent.”

Never say mean things about anybody; they are “poor souls to pray for.”

Put picky-eating children in the box at the bottom of the laundry chute, tell them they are hungry lions in a cage, and feed them veggies through the slats.

Correspond with the imprisoned and have lunch with the cognitively challenged.

Do the Jumble every morning.

Keep the car keys under the front seat so they don’t get lost.

Make the car dance by lightly tapping the brakes to the beat of songs on the radio.

Offer rides to people carrying a big load or caught in the rain or summer heat. Believe the hitchhiker you pick up who says he is a landscaper and his name is “Peat Moss.”

Help anyone struggling to get their kids into a car or shopping cart or across a parking lot.

Give to every charity that asks. Choose to believe the best about what they do with your money, no matter what your children say they discovered online.

Allow the homeless to keep warm in your car while you are at Mass.

Take magazines you’ve already read to your doctors’ office for others to enjoy. Do not tear off the mailing label, “Because if someone wants to contact me, that would be nice.”

In her lifetime, Pink made contact time after time. Those who’ve taken her lessons to heart will continue to ensure that a cold drink will be left for the overheated garbage collector and mail carrier, every baby will be kissed, every nursing home resident will be visited, the hungry will have a sandwich, the guest will have a warm bed and soft nightlight, and the encroaching possum will know the soothing sensation of a barbecue brush upon its back.

Above all, Pink wrote — to everyone, about everything. You may read this and recall a letter from her that touched your heart, tickled your funny bone, or maybe made you say “huh?”

She is survived by her children and grandchildren whose photos she would share with prospective friends in the checkout line: Tim (wife Janice, children Timmy, Joey, T.J., Miki and Danny); Kevin (wife Kathy, children Kacey, Ryan, Jordan and Kevin); Jerry (wife Gita, children Nisha and Cathan); MaryAnne; Peter (wife Maria Jose, children Rodrigo and Paulo); and Meg (husband David Vartanian, children Peter, Lily, Jerry and Blase); siblings Anne, Helen, and Robert; and many in-laws, nieces, nephews, friends and family too numerous to list but not forgotten.

Pink is reunited with her husband and favorite dance and political debate partner, Dr. Gerald L. Mullaney, and is predeceased by six siblings.


(Thanks for sharing, Philip!)

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Monday, September 02, 2013


This has been an extremely busy summer so far… or so it seems. Perhaps it is just that I have slowed down so much that I don’t ever seem to get caught up. I was reminded a couple times lately that my blog has been neglected and I have noticed that several of the folks I used to keep up with have either quit blogging altogether or post only a couple times a month now rather than almost every day as they did in the past. Perhaps they are slowing down, too. Or perhaps the magic and newness of blogging has worn off. Whatever, the posts are fewer and further between. I do not feel compelled to post about every bloom or bug in the garden or every time I get a tomato on the vine. You will probably never get a post about what I had for dinner and will never see a recipe on my blog. That is just not my thing. If food is mentioned other than what my garden has produced, it is only that I am so grateful to have enough to eat and enough to share… I know I am truly blessed. As a little child my grandmother was always reminding me of the starving children elsewhere in the world who would just love to have what was on my plate (especially if it was ham which I have always steadfastly refused to eat, along with oysters, crabs, and mussels, among other things! I think I was born kosher.) It took a few years before I would know the meaning of true hunger and discovered a cure – get a job in a restaurant!

Over the years I have had folks comment that my blog is impersonal. For those of you who get my Sunday Musings, I make up for it there – but that is not available to the stranger or someone I do not want to share my life with. Perhaps my blog is an escape from my personal life… I keep it mostly free from political discussions or absolute religious statements, tho I dance around those things from time to time. I remember reading in someone’s blog after Obama was elected that, “You cannot be a Christian and vote for Obama!” “He is a baby killer and a Muslim and not even an American!” and things like that. No matter what I think or thought about Obama, I would never put myself out there with such thoughts. No, I don’t share my political anger on the blog. Nor do I condemn anyone else’s religious beliefs. I might not agree with them, but I have learned that we are all in various stages of growing up, even older folks like me, and hopefully our religious beliefs mature as we grow. I accept some folks will never be able to think any differently than they do right this moment, and that has to be OK. I try to use the Serenity Prayer as my guide in life and ask for the serenity to accept with I cannot change. In doing so, life is ever so much easier.

I tend to be a Buddhist. I have taken vows to that effect – I take them daily, and as such I endeavor not to kill, nor take what is not given to me, I try to watch what I say, avoid sexual misconduct, and avoid any intoxicants. Now that sounds pretty easy, but it does not leave a lot of room for excuses. Like not taking a life… this not only means I probably don’t believe in abortion, but it also means I don’t believe in going off to war and killing someone or sitting in a room with a joy stick and blowing up a truck in Pakistan. It also means I am not going to kill a doctor who might perform an abortion for whatever reason… nor would I pass legislation that might send young women to the back alley coat-hanger “doctors.” But not killing also means I do not condone the killing of animals, yet I do occasionally eat meat or else I suffer from protein deficiency. I also feed meat products to my cats as they are definitely not vegetarians! So, in that sense, I fail as an aspiring Buddhist. In my old age, the other 4 Precepts are a piece of cake (sugar and gluten free, thank you.)

It is hard to believe it is September. It still feels strange to not be in a panic trying to get all the last minute things done before school starts. I hate to confess I do not miss teaching - wait, let me clarify that. I DO miss teaching, but I do not miss what the schools have become. I miss being with kids, I miss sharing the joy of learning, the amazement of their creative minds, but not the sorrow of those minds that have shut down to the good possibilities of the world. Oh there are so many tragic young people out there – products of drugged parents, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, and various other kinds of abuse… our wounded babies who will never have the same chances in life as the kid across the street who has been raised with love by clean and sober parents. When I hear the words “We are all created equal…” I think of these kids and struggle with the lump in my throat.

Tomorrow I will see the buses roll by, the little faces at the window so full of hope for a successful new year. For many, it means 2 meals a day that they don’t get in the summer. I watch them roll by and silently wish them well; my hopes and dreams go with them as it went with their teachers who drive by an hour earlier. I know I always had such high hopes for my kids each year. I don’t mean to imply I gave up on them as the year went on, but sometimes the system really does not help. I am not sure I would learn much in the chaotic noisy classrooms of today. “They” have forgotten that some kids need peace and quiet in which to learn and a room with 20 different things going on at once is too much of a distraction for many minds.


  For several weeks now the fall azaleas have been blooming. They are in full flower as I type this and look out the window at them. The early fall blooming camellias are in full bud… in 2 more weeks, they will start to show color. My Aunt gave me these camellias for my birthday at least 20 years ago. The amazing thing is, they bloom their first bloom every year exactly on my birthday. How great is that? In my silly way of thinking I believe that is her way of wishing me a Happy Birthday. Every year people pull in my driveway to ask me what kind of plants they are or where to get them, or just to thank me for having them out there to brighten their way to work or home as they drive by. I have given many baby plants (or seeds) away and love it when folks drop by with pictures of their bushes that I call my “grandchildren” bushes.

A few mornings ago when it was cool enough to turn off the a/c and have an open window, I awoke to a sound that took a minute or two to recognize. The geese are teaching their young to fly in formation. You can just CanadaGeeseimagine them shouting, “Get behind your mother and stay there!” or “Line your wing tip with your sister’s wing.” “There, that’s better! See how the air flows around you better?” In another month or so, the small flock sounds will be replaced by the sound of a couple hundred geese as they all head south. It always stops me in my tracks as I listen to them and watch them fly over and wonder how many will be back on this same route next spring. I sometimes wonder if I will be here to see and hear them. One thinks these things as they get older, perhaps more so when those NEW numbers appear. My number will change in a couple of weeks. It is very depressing.

DSC_0160  As the seasons change to fall, the spiders seem to start spinning bigger and bigger webs and they seem to be across every path I walk. I try not to break them, but sometimes it happens. I thought this web was different. See the thick white parts every few inches? I looked the spider’s name up a couple days ago when I took the shot but have managed to forget it. Duh.

The back yard is filled with dragonflies. Some of them seem to love to buzz my hair. Did you know some of them make a crackling sound when they fly? I love to photograph them, and some of them are very cooperative, but others, not so much. have you ever watched them dipping into the water? Look carefully! My yard is also filled with butterflies who just seem to love the fall blooming azaleas as much or more than the butterfly bushes. And the leaves are starting to fall!

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I am so grateful to have such a beautiful yard and to be able to see the colors and critters. If you look carefully, you will find string beans growing up a camellia, or a tomato plant resting in an azalea. Even tho I have several acres, the sunlight is limited. That limits what grows here. Of course, the lighting changes the colors. The other evening the Strobilanthes seemed so vibrant. What color! My Crape Myrtle blooms later than most of the others in town. It is nice they don’t all bloom at once. Their color seems to blend in with the azaleas. Cool, huh?

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I am waiting for cooler temps… maybe I will have more energy then… My job list is long. My days are short. My energy level is microscopic! If you are lucky enough to drive by and enjoy my efforts… then I guess it is all worth it.