Thursday, May 30, 2013

North Carolina's Floral Blankets

North on Highway 52 toward Pilot Mountain, NC

North Carolina's mass flower plantings are one more reason to love living here.  They seem to pop up out of nowhere, an unexpected gift. They invite the driver to pull over, pause and admire the exuberance. 

I remember taking the top photo one evening on my way home from work in Winston-Salem. I had been keeping my
eye on the developing blossoms, and it seemed they peaked between the morning and the afternoon commutes.

Prepared with my camera in the glove compartment, I pulled off the highway and walked onto the little-traveled

I soaked in the color and the sunshine.
I felt invigorated and recharged. 
Robert Frost may have preferred snowy woods, but I love flowers. 
Denver garden

When we lived in Denver I had my own wildflower garden. It was all of 200 square feet, and required constant watering and weeding.  I enjoyed the random mix of bachelor buttons, yarrow, California poppies, blue flax, and hollyhocks.  

My eccentric neighbor enjoyed it too. I saw her helping herself to a bouquet one day, and she seemed honestly surprised that the garden hadn't sprung up without human help.

If you want the big version, there are instructions for growing your own large wildflower patch from the NC DOT in the link at the beginning of the blog. I'd love to see more of my two acres in wildflowers, but can't even imagine the maintenance it would take. 

I'll just enjoy what the state plants for me.

Do you have any roadside flower photos you'd like to share? 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Sprigs: Watering Cans that Make a Splash

I frequently need to water transplants or flower pots.  I rely on my watering cans. They come in all sizes and colors and look good hanging on my shed wall. Some produce a fine spray, others have a simple spout. I heft each before buying it to be sure it's balanced and will be comfortable to carry when full. 

Expensive doesn't necessarily mean better. I left water in one of my "good" ones and it still cracked the bottom seam when the water froze. But even when they spring leaks they can be used to display dried fall foliage or serve as planters.

I am going to resist the urge to keep collecting them, but I'm not adverse to gifts. (Please tell my husband because he doesn't read my blog!) 

Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Soccer Pink Card

My grandchildren are now playing soccer in beginner leagues.

The YMCA runs their program, and each game starts with an *oath to play fairly and respect all participants.

It’s a nice change from coaches who yell at six and seven year olds: “Are you guys dancing down here? This is soccer! We’re not dancing! Pay attention!” 

 Those coaches deserve yellow cards--caution for aggressive attitudes.  

getting ready for the oath
However, it’s not a problem for my granddaughter’s team. She’s part of the Pink Flamingos for 3 and 4 year olds. Their play wasn’t riveting, but their take on the game was a hoot. 

Two little girls wore the typical shorts, shin guards and knee socks, plus tutus. 

The youngest team member (left) was shuffled around the field by one of her parents. They took turns gently steering her in the direction of play, and telling her when to run or kick.

my go-getter on the far right

Most of the flamingos ran up and 
down the shortened field in a pack. Some understood they were to try to kick the ball into the goal. The only poor sportsmanship was when a couple of girls got frustrated and shouldered their teammates out of the way to get to the ball. Of course no referee gave yellow cards, and they never got rough enough to warrant a red card.

Occasionally they ignored the game altogether while one gave another a hug,   which should warrant an as-yet-unadopted good sportsmanship pink card. Better hugging than slugging! 

Go Flamingos!

*YMCA SPORTS PLEDGE: Win or lose, I promise to God to do the best I can, to be a team player and to respect my teammates, my opponents and officials, and to improve myself in spirit, mind, and body. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Sprigs: Fuchsia

I first saw fuchsias in San Francisco forty five years ago. I think I have the perfect spot for one now, just need a fog machine! 

Don't you love the pink pumpkin buds?

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

First World Problems: A Bridge, A Straw, A Cup

Life throws us big curves sometimes, and we need to save hand-wringing and laments for those.

The rest --they're First World Problems, which is to say, not really problems at all.

For example, on our flight home last week we were delayed an hour. We still made our connection in Chicago, but we didn't have time for a sit down meal. We grumbled, then Bill remembered this video* from a recent sermon.  Shucks, grabbing a ready-made bagel as we dashed through the concourses wasn't hardship. It would have been a feast for a lot of folks.

Likewise, lightening fried the wi-fi router and it took two days to restore service. Look at all the time I saved NOT checking email!

I appreciate the satire of the video. It makes the point with humor, which is easier on the soul than guilt, and more effective in changing my attitudes.

I hope this will make you chuckle, and give you pause to reconsider whether your current life-glich is an FWP. In which case I offer you a bridge, a straw, and a cup. 

*(Disclaimer, the church didn't show the entire video.)

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Sprigs: the iris

"... leaning down to inspect an iris, he possessed a gardener's watchfulness and did not appear to reel with wonder at this serenely formal flower, that its cape and collar opened out of a tightly packed bud, every part of it predestined and perfectly in place."

I found this description to be as beautiful as the flower. It's from Carol Shields' book Unless

Thursday, May 9, 2013

How to Memorize Bible Verses

As an adult I find the task of memorizing Bible verses both challenging and very rewarding.

I start by breaking the verse(s) into phrases. Then I look for words I can abbreviate, or change into numbers. 

Then I add pictures and symbols. Pictures are much easier for me to remember than words, and I can visualize them in my head as cues to the phrases. Remember those synapses (sidebar)? They are increased with this method because I'm making connections with both hemispheres of my brain.
The right side uses the words, the left, the pictures.

Once I create a symbol for a key word I use it consistently (like the little circles in lines one and four, those represent the word "saints.")

Ephesians 1:15-19f

Then I repeat the phrases using the visual prompts until I have it memorized.

A tip: once you've memorized a verse, you must review it regularly to "keep" it.  

Try it out, and let me know how it works for you.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Sprigs: the Hori garden knife

Another favorite tool is the hori Japanese knife. I like the substantial heft of it in my hand.

It's great for weeding, particularly things with a central tap root like dandelions.

Transplanting is easy with this knife because it's so strong.

I painted the handle with brightly colored paint so I could find it easily when I lay on the ground.
hori hori knife

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Birthday Bests

Today's my birthday, so I'm flipping the pages in my mental birthday album to favorite celebrations.

Best birthday gift I've given myself:  a ticket to see Mikhail Baryshnikov dance in Denver. Seeing a virtuoso perform is like being transported to another level of existence.  I was awed, inspired, and so grateful to see the power and beauty of his dancing in person.

Best party: When I was sixteen my mother arranged a surprise party for me. I missed some obvious clues and was astonished. I felt like queen for the day, honored to be celebrated.

Best gift I received:  a three speed black Huffy bicycle.   For an adolescent, it was like having my own car! I could get all over town, haul my school books and violin in the baskets on either side of the back tire. My friends and I took long rides in the countryside; it gave me freedom/independence.

Birthday milestones: By 37 I worked for Continental Airlines and found my dream job (except for lifting heavy suitcases and dealing with very cranky customers.)
     The year I turned 44 I began my second career as a teacher (a lot more work without the perks, but drenched in significance.)
Notre Dame Cathedral, paris
photo from Wikipedia
Best out-of-town birthday: I celebrated my 44th birthday in Paris with my younger daughter and my mother-in-law.  The week was packed with visits to the main attractions, but also full of moments of just living like Parisians in a beautiful city bursting with spring flowers, and fantastic restaurants the size of a family dining room. I bought fresh ranunculas from a street merchant to grace the hotel room. One night my mother-in-law and I wandered and shared a chocolate gateau (cake) at a sidewalk cafe. She declared it the best she'd ever eaten. I sat on a sunny bench at the jardin de Luxemborg and watched the families playing in grassy areas reserved for children by age group.  I've relived that trip in my mind many times. 

Truly, the birthdays I most love to celebrate are not my own, but those of my children and my grandchildren. One daughter and her son share the same birthdate- two in one! 

This year I am with them all in Denver, which seldom happens. I plan on a big cake and some games for the kids, then grandma photos. Maybe this will be the best one of all.