Saturday, May 24, 2008

Rose Bower and More Poppies

The potted rose bushes make a welcoming bower for people coming up the ramp to my porch and front door. They will be even prettier after they have been pruned and fed a bit regularly, I am sure.

A friend took more pictures of the poppies in my back planter box. Here are two

I started this post on Saturday but could not upload the pictures. Finally, on Wednesday I am trying to catch up. The preview is only showing one picture and is not showing the background that I usually have. Sigh. Therefore, more later.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Another Week has Flown By

Another week has gone by too quickly. The roses and poppies are giving me joy as are the friends who water and photograph and bring flowers inside for me to enjoy. The red and pink poppies contrast and at the same time complement each other. I think that is a contradiction in color theory, but it is what I am observing.

Today was a windy day. I could see the tree tops bowing in neighbors' yards and it amazed me that the poppies, even protected by the fence as they are, could still be standing. Nature is so strong and so resilient.

My friend M has moved all the roses that she has tended for me in pots on my porch to places where they will get more sun. Already they have grown and bloomed and I am able to enjoy flowers inside. The adaptability of plants is heartening giving us a lesson or two in the same for ourselves.

Tomorrow my neighbors across the street have people coming to begin the process of demolishing their swimming pool. Probably as old as the tract, the swimming pool is cracked and they have not used it since they moved in. I am glad for them and in fact for all of us--it has been a place for mosquitoes to breed.

I am grateful for the peace and quiet today and for the fact that I have been warned in a note that they sent to all the neighbors of the noise and vibration that is to come tomorrow and for several succeeding days. Unlike the heat wave, which was over when it was over and not entirely predictable, this is finite and also will not last around the clock.

Hopefully, I will be able to put the noise aside and do the things that need doing as well as one that doesn't. More chocolate cookies are in the offing before I have a recipe that I can submit, if I am going to submit one at all. I can't just tweak the recipe, of course, I will have to eat the calories--and share them.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Internet Grocery Shopping and Such

Yesterday when I completed my online grocery order I was asked to take a survey. Usually I ignore these, but this time I bit. In the comments I wrote something to the effect that I had been buying my groceries online for ten years!

It is hard to believe. While Papa was still alive we used Peapod which at that time partnered with Safeway. The day that I succeeded in placing that first order with the then new computer that Papa called the "wintel" was so important to us because it made us independent again and gave us freedom of choice, that Papa wrote it on his calendar. I have the calendar still. Shortly after Papa died Peapod switched from Safeway to Andronico's and for a time I enjoyed delivery from one of the best grocer's in the area. Then webvan entered the fray--this was the height of the boom--and I used them both alternately. They were fun and upbeat and that was an upbeat time overall--the economy was booming, innovative things were happening all around and I even bought my pda and one Harry Potter novel along with the popcorn to eat while reading it through webvan having them delivered along with my groceries. The height of Silicon Valley chic (or cute).

Then came the downturn, bust. Peapod pulled out of the West Coast markets and Webvan folded in one day. I really missed this service. After a time both of the big chains, Safeway and Albertson's began delivery again. My choice is always Safeway.

In between I have bought almost everything of every kind from spices to scone mixes, tea and chocolate, fabric, yarn (too much yarn) and office supplies online. Sometimes I think I am living a virtual life--except for the calories which are all too real.

Last night, I realized from that one comment that I am a veteran internet shopper. It has been around that long and changed my life so much in so many ways, some subtle that I no longer even think about the changes. I am incredibly, profoundly grateful for it. (Never mind the calories!)

Monday, May 19, 2008

Monday and Cooler, Gardening and Peace

The weather has finally returned to normal and it is deliciously cool. After last week's heat wave it seemed almost silly to put on an overshirt and knitted hat last evening while I was watching tv, but that was necessary.

Yesterday, my young friend took pictures of my backyard. Clearly the roses and poppies enjoyed the hot weather as well as all the water that various friends kindly poured on them. These Oriental Poppies are being grown as ornamentals and not as a cash crop!

I associate poppies with Memorials after war. There are fields of red poppies in Ukraine growing where bitter battles were fought in World War II and soldiers died in massive numbers. They are blood poppies, truly and sacred as are the poppies that grow in Flanders Field, "amid the crosses row on row."

While the seeds have culinary uses and the pods are ornamental and can be used in arrangements, I no longer make wreaths and arrangements and I buy my food seed, so they probably will not last long enough to go to seed. My friend who planted them for me suggested that they would be good for pressing. That is probably true. Perhaps I will try to press or dry a few.

The pods would be appropriate for a memorial wreath. I began one a few years ago and put the names of all the ancestors who had fought in wars on the wreath along with the wars that they fought in.

Last week I began Squidoo lens Garden for Peace, which is linked to the right. I will be adding to it as time permits. It is an old interest of mine. Back in the eighties I was one of the plant growers for Common Ground, supplying them with pepper and tomato seedlings.

Before that, when I was an economics major at Stanford, I was interested in taking courses in the Food Research Institute. The building was not accessible and this was long before the ADA. I wonder if I would have been an analyst helping to shape policy about world food issues instead of a seedling grower if those classes had been held in a different building.

Maybe that is why I grew those seedlings and have been interested in seed diversity and related issues for the last twenty years. We do need to conserve and preserve our bio-diversity and cherish the earth on which we live.

There are interesting ethical issues that relate to all of this as well and I was heartened to see an episode of Bill Moyer's Journal several weeks ago that featured David Beckmann and Bread for the World.

If we could feed all the world comfortably wouldn't we be able to build a peaceful world? More later.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

More Cooling Tips

As the heat wave wanes and I give thanks, I am thinking of more things to do to keep cool that are homely and inexpensive.

Stay hydrated. Water is best. It will seem like a delicious treat with a bit of ice. Keep a pitcher or refrigerator bottle full in the refrigerator. Pour the cold water into a glass over ice. Fill a reusable bottle three-quarters full and freeze overnight.
Now you can carry your ice-water with you wherever you go.

Wring a small towel or cloth out in cold water and put on your head or drape around your neck.

Spray mist yourself with water in a spray mister. (Put some ice in the mister bottle.) Don't overdue it. You want to cool yourself, not make a mess!

Lie down during the hottest hours, if you possibly can.

Eat cold meals so that you don't heat the kitchen and yourself. This is a great time for simple sandwiches and salads. Eat lightly. Put fruit in the refrigerator after you wash it so that you will have a cool treat.

Prepare meals in the morning and put the food in the fridge.

Slow down. If you need supplies, make lists and make one trip in the morning.

Follow the sun. Do things in the coolest parts of the house.

Dress appropriately. Light colored, light weight clothing that is loose-fitted will help you stay cool.

None of these ideas cost much money, but they are tried and true. They do not require going somewhere else to escape the heat, but allow one to cool in place--conserving resources in the process.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The Heat is On

The heat wave has truly materialized and is worse than I thought it could be. At 9:13 am it is 83 degrees. Not good. I am a winter person, spring and fall really. I do not like long days and especially not long, hot days. So how to make the house a cool cave and refuge.

First open up and run fans at night to bring in the cool air. Then as soon as possible in the morning close it all up again. Don't use any unnecessary appliances, especially not the washer, dryer, oven, television or computers during the hottest hours--noon to eight pm.

Hang outside blinds or sun shades over windows and the section of the house that gets late afternoon sun. Consider black-out cloth on the inside of windows. Construct trellises or arbors and grow things that will grow quickly to provide shade where you need it most.

If you have trees, give thanks for them and care for them. They need watering in hot weather if there is no rain.

Water yards and gardens in the morning or well after dark to conserve water. Water sparingly. Water is one of the earth's most precious resources.

Drink plenty of water and stay inside during the worst heat.

Offer up the discomfort for those who are in worse straights. Keep remembering the heat wave will pass. It is not a typhoon, a tornado or an earthquake. I am grateful.

Tuesday I discovered that one of my favorite sources for garden seeds, Bountiful Gardens is still operating in Willits, Ca. I was so happy, I spent quite a bit of time perusing their offerings and could, of course, plant an acre or two, if only I had an acre or two!

More when the weather is cooler!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Tuesday and the Heat is Coming

There is a heat advisory for the Bay Area, while somewhere in the country I believe that it is still snowing. The poppies seem to like the warmer weather. Today was actually almost perfect and if it would stay this way, it would be fine. Tomorrow is supposed to be much hotter. So I go about the house with my cane in my neckline (both hands are occupied by the wheels of my wheelchair) and crank open the old style, single pane glass windows. I long for the technology of electric windows and double pane glass, but give thanks that I figured out how to use what I have. This is the simplest and most basic of assistive technology--adapting what is available to what is needed. I can no longer walk with just a cane now; I need my crutches for that. Now the cane is adapted to other uses.

Last night I watched part of PBS's The American Experience on the life of FDR. He has always been one of my heroes and so has his wife. He tried so hard to overcome what could not be overcome. Acceptance is difficult, but ultimately it is more productive, I think than denial or a constant fight to do something that cannot be done. I give thanks for acceptance even though it came late in my life and sometimes I am still working on it.

I give thanks too that I do not live where typhoons swoop in with wind and rain or in a place where a gigantic earthquake has just exploded all serenity and semblance of normalcy. The heat will go away in a few days and everything will be fine. My cane will go back in its place at the front door and I will continue writing. So I am trying to concentrate on blessings, rather than discomfort.

I think that the basil and tomato seedlings will enjoy the weather and the roses in containers are benefiting from being moved to where they are getting more sun. Summer will soon be upon us and it is good to have the change of seasons.

The last of the irises are blooming on my kitchen counter and fading fast--like me, I don't think they like the heat.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mother's Day, 2008

Today I miss my mother even though she has been gone for twenty-five years. It is a day for remembering and giving thanks for mothers. And for grandmothers. I think of my great-grandmothers too.

For the last few days,, one of my favorite web-sites, has been featuring a link to the proclamation of 1870 by Julia Ward Howe for a Mother's Peace Day. This is the beginning of Mother's Day. I like this concept of a Mother's peace day even more than our current, rather commercial one. She urged women to come together for a gathering to "take counsel with each other as to the means whereby the great human family can live in peace."

The link to her entire proclamation can be found here

  • Julia Ward Howe also wrote the lyrics to the Battle Hymn of the Republic.

    Let's think of having a Mother's Peace Day. Peace activities could include planting flowers, sending money to CARE, making sure that everyone has health care that includes dental and eye care (as our current Medicare does not); making sure that seniors are not consigned to lives of poverty.

    Tomorrow is nurse's day. It is fitting for me to remember my Mama on that day too for she was a nurse. Her beautiful graduation picture taken of her in her starched white uniform and cap, hands folded in her lap sits on the buffet across the room from where I sit typing on my laptop. She was a care-taker and care-giver par excellence and I remember her competence and service to others, as well as her love and laughter.

    She would enjoy the flowers that I have been reveling in these last few days and the chocolate cookies I baked this morning.

    Requiescat in Pace, Helen Rose, and Agnes Elizabeth, Mary, Rose, Marguerite Ann, Margaret Ann and Rose. Mama and my grandmothers and great-grandmothers who rest from their labor now. I hope you are all, starting with Mama, rejoicing in heaven and that flowers bloom all the time there. I am grateful for you all, for the memories of your lives, good cooks all, devout women and mothers without whom I would not be here enjoying modern technology--and flowers and chocolate cookies.

    Saturday, May 10, 2008

    Saturday--the Week has Flown!

    The week has flown by! I have been nursing a hand problem that makes it difficult to type so am behind on everything except taking flower pictures. With both irises and roses on the counter there is much material for this indoor photographer to play with! More to learn too.

    Here are some of the recent pictures of my flowers. The first is of the Cecil Brunner roses that a friend cut for me yesterday. They remind me of one of the impressionist painters, perhaps Renoir, my favorite. The second one was taken outdoors by my young friend who has just returned home from her first year of college. The last is of the last of the Iris from another friend's garden.

    I have had fun playing with Kaboodle (which I call kaboodle/doodling. My computer is also calling me to do some serious security updating, so it looks like my afternoon is taken care of for today! I am grateful for the flowers, including the brilliant splash of red from the few poppies that are blooming.

    Wednesday, May 7, 2008

    The Garden Grows

    The Cecil Brunner Roses fill the corner of the backyard. The first two poppies have bloomed, one an astonishing splash of red in the midst of all the green, ferny foliage. My seedlings are also growing.

    It is really exciting to think that there will be vegetables and herbs growing there soon where an enormous pieces of vintage driftwood once resided.

    I am hoping to have more herbs in pots, too. Gardening is so much fun. I am so grateful to the friends who make it possible for me.

    My friend who has the irises in her garden brought more today and we had a fun visit as well. There are six flowers and four buds. I love the way the blue and peach contrast with one another. Watching the buds grow into flowers is also much joy. It is marvelous to wake up in the morning and look out into the dining room to see flowers.

    Sunday, May 4, 2008

    Anniversary of a WWII Battle

    May 4, 1945 a destroyer mine-layer named U.S.S. Shea was on duty off Okinawa when the peaceful morning quiet was shattered by the appearance of a baka bomber that quickly attacked, decimating the ship and killing twenty-six men and one officer. Ninety-one more were wounded. My father, Lt. j.g. Frederick James Manor was one of the wounded, although not severely. (I have his purple heart.)

    After he died in 1999, I found accounts of the Shea and the battles it was in on-line. He would have been amazed, I think, by all the information and the pictures. The Shea was not a large ship and the men and officers lived at close quarters.

    While I was growing up, Papa never spoke much about the war. He would tell funny stories occasionally, if someone pressed him. When I asked him about that years later, he said, "I did not think that war was a suitable topic of conversation for children."

    Once, when I was in my forties, he spoke at greater length about that day in May. His job was to see to all of the storage areas on the ship that included the area where the bombs and ammo were kept. After the baka bomb raked the ship, and after the fire had been put out, Papa had to descend into that area to see if anyone had survived. It was hardly likely that anyone could have, but he had to make sure. He said, in his beautiful, quiet, grave voice, "I have never forgotten the smell of burning flesh."

    Post traumatic stress syndrome had not been identified then, but I am sure that he and all who returned from the war suffered from it to a greater or lesser degree. I am sure that he smoked because of it, and the smoking eventually killed him. He died from emphysema.

    He counted his blessings for he was as he said one of the fortunate ones who returned. The story of his ship is quite exciting and heroic even after more than sixty-years. They plugged holes in the side with mattresses and listing she made it to Haushi and then Kerama Retto where she underwent repairs and left behind most of what was left of her ammunition along with much of her gear. She was headed home. First to Pearl Harbor and then San Diego through the Panama Canal and home to, I believe, Newport News, Virginia for extensive repairs. By the time she reached the Atlantic the war in Europe was over, and as Papa said, they were able to travel at night with lights on and doors open for fresh air. They were safe and it must have been a surreal experience to have been safe, in this damaged ship that still bore the scars and probably the smells of battle, especially since the war in the Pacific was still going on.

    I have always felt so blessed to have had this man for my father and as the daughter of a World War II Navy vet, I feel a special connection to the Navy. I hold them in my heart today along with all those serving in our military now.

    Saturday, May 3, 2008

    Silence is so Beautiful

    As I sit here and type the sun shines over my shoulders, the poppies are continuing to grow and are loaded with buds, the big Cecil Brunner Rose bush that has anchored the corner of the back yard for over fifty years is bursting into bloom with its delicate pink roses--the color of raspberry juice in cream--and it is so quiet that I can hear the keys of the laptop make their thunking noise as I type.

    Yesterday was the Feast of St Athanasius, one of the early doctors of the Catholic Church. He is the patron saint of the church around the corner, which is the parish where my family belonged after we came to California. Papa was active in the men's club, serving as its President at least once as well as on the Parish Council. Mama was equally active in the women's club and taught CCD--catechism for grade school children. While I had been confirmed in Toledo in fourth grade, my younger sister was confirmed at St. Athanasius. Both parents also both sang in the choir.

    I remember so many things about this parish--Fr. Bose, our first pastor building the church and making sure that the congregation learned to sing Gregorian chant from the cards published by the Gregorian Institute located on Jefferson Avenue in Toledo, Ohio! It was the time of Vatican II, Mass was still in Latin and then the priest turned around to face the people as he celebrated--a radical change from centuries old tradition.

    Papa used to say that turning the priest around to face the people and having them join in the responses that had once been reserved for altar boys was probably really enough change for one century! I agreed. Both my parents were buried from this church with splendid Requiem Masses sung by the St. Ann Choir as they had sung while growing up in churches in Toledo where the school children sang the funeral masses for parishioners.

    I also remember splendid, lovely May processions with girls in white dresses, flowers and Marian hymns. I hope that if that tradition does not continue, it can be revived. May is also Mary's month, the time to make a home altar and deck it with flowers. Silence helps to pray the rosary and contemplate Mary's role in the life of the church.

    In the meantime, I enjoy the irises which look like girls in their frilly party dresses and remember. I am grateful for the silence and the time to remember.

    Thursday, May 1, 2008

    May Day, 2008

    The seedlings are already growing and it is amazing that this is happening so fast! I forgot the beans when I listed them the other day--green and yellow. They are growing the fastest, although the squash plants will probably be the biggest.

    Today is the feast of St. Joseph the Worker, which is St. Joseph under his patronage of all of us as workers, all of us seeking work. He is the primary saint to turn to for intercession when we need work to meet our customary needs. I think of him as the patron of fathers and then remember that he is also the patron of work. Many of us need his prayers for us today as our economy continues to flounder.

    May day used to be a day for giving flowers and a friend remembered me with irises from her garden. Big, beautiful, frilly flowers that make me think of girls with their party dresses, they are blue, white and a peach that has lavender highlights. Gorgeous!

    May day also was a traditional day for lovers to pair off and accept each others invitations--thus the tradition of the Maypole and dancing that went with it. That, of course, has not been the case for many decades. There may be few village greens left on which to set up a Maypole, let alone dance around it.

    One of the truly heartening things that I saw in the news today was the dockworkers marching in protest against the war--shutting down the ports all along the West coast. They lost a day's pay today--that is truly making a statement and a commitment at a time when making ends meet is becoming harder for everyone. I cannot remember another time when this occurred so I am cheering for them.

    I would also like to see a solution to the injustices of immigration discrimination. All of my ancestors were immigrants. They did not speak English. In fact, the French Canadians who immigrated to the Detroit River Raisin area of southern Michigan spoke French as their primary language until the turn of the nineteenth century into the twentieth. They had been there for 250 years and they saw no reason to change until the school system mandated that their children speak English.

    I pray tonight to St. Joseph, that he will intercede for all of us that we may work and live in peace and prosperity. I am grateful for his feast.