Minor Changes

First, a PSA.  WordPress says that as of tomorrow, I can no longer publicize these blogposts automatically to my Facebook profile.  I think I can still manually share the link, but it might not visibly display a subject, intro, or photo to indicate a new post.  I hope anyone who bothers to follow my boring site will continue to indulge me.
Here’s the exact notification, in case it affects your third-party tools auto-connecting your site to social media:
“Your website’s connection to Facebook is changing soon
Starting August 1, 2018, third-party tools can no longer share posts automatically to Facebook Profiles. This includes Publicize, the Jetpack tool that connects your site to major social media platforms (like Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook).”
So here is my final post using the old FB format.
I cleaned up the space and compost pile behind the shed, with a temporary bench and some makeshift birdbaths, as a place I can go to just sit and think.  It’s not much, but it’s a start.  There are mushrooms growing in the adjacent field.
Here’s a view of the shed through pokeweed growing along the fence.  I don’t care if poke is a weed, I think it’s pretty, and birds love the berries.
The sunflowers, morning glories, and other flowering vines I planted along the fence have turned into a colorful flowery screen, attracting hummers, goldfinches, cardinals, bees, and many other pollinators.
Black-eyed susans and others keep reblooming and cheering things up.  It may seem boring and mundane, but growing and attracting all this wildlife keeps me sane through all the discouraging changes.
Finally, the peppers are doing something!  And the pumpkins are still doing their thing.

New Morning

My family is now 670 miles away in Florida, starting their new life.  Still, our own new life, minus the family we moved here to be near, must go on.  At least we got to spend some good times with them, and hopefully played an instrumental part in reinforcing their sense of security and being loved.

Yesterday, while they were heading out of TN, we had a long conversation with our neighbor S, herself in the midst of having to move out due to her own family issues, just when we were getting to know her.  But it helps to know we’re not alone with our common human concerns.

This was the same day E got some bad news involving an immediate family member, the same hateful family that cut her off from her own grandkids.  Not our best day ever.

But as usual, life goes on.  For some, it’s a new start, damn the consequences; for others, it’s picking up the pieces, absorbing the cost, and carrying on in a changed landscape.  I can’t really talk; I’ve been on both sides of that equation during my misguided life, and caused others close to me to suffer the consequences, which also diminished myself.  Karma’s a bitch.  All you can do is try not to generate more negativity.

Some days it’s hard for me to see much up ahead to look forward to, but I have to remind myself, I still have a living son and grandkids who haven’t written me off, and a much more fortunate living situation than many in this world.  I have a wonderful brother and brother-in-law in CA.  I’m not alone, and I’m not dead yet.  Not everyone can say that.

Speaking of landscapes, at least I’m privileged to wake up to scenes like these.  It doesn’t take away the sadness and regrets, but it keeps me occupied with something positive and outside myself.  I have to force myself to set aside the anxiety and nightmares, take each new morning at a time, and be content with the place I’m in now.



I skipped my customary erev cheers post this weekend, because I wasn’t feeling very cheery, for obvious reasons.  If anyone is even reading this, they don’t need my depressing irrelevancies added to the mix.  And somehow I don’t think my usual boring trivia is very appropriate at the moment.  That pretty much leaves me with…nothing.  Which pretty much sums up how I feel right now.  So instead, here’s a sunset.

Out of the Mouth of Babes

In one of my last conversations with my grandkids, eight-year-old E made an astute, if typically blunt, observation: you weren’t here with us for years up until now, so we’ll all survive the separation now!  I had to admit she made a good, valid point.

Being eight, she was simply being honest and candid, not mean, as it might have seemed coming from an adult.  She had no way of knowing or understanding all the unavoidable circumstances that kept delaying our reunion.

Even some grownups seemed unable to comprehend or believe the series of unfortunate, very real events that prevented us from getting here sooner.  Timing can be a bitch, especially when you’re running out of it.

But looking back at the much bigger picture that my little granddaughter couldn’t possibly know, her statement takes on even greater validity.  My whole life consisted of a series of confused, misguided decisions and priorities that eventually led to estrangement from my whole family.  It took me decades to straighten myself out and take responsibility for my actions or lack thereof, but in the meantime, some damage was done, and consequences were set in motion that couldn’t be avoided.  I make no excuses for my lapses; all I’ve got is remorse, and honest attempts at reconciliation and reparations.

Life doesn’t make allowances for well-intended restarts, however; it just keeps plunging forward, unconcerned with mere humans crushed underneath.  Sometimes all you can do is accept reality, get out of the way of the grinding blades, and find a new way forward.

You have to keep it all in perspective; as I write, little children are still being wrenched from parents and grandparents and detained in cages in this country!  Maybe never to be reunited again.  Compared to that, what can I even say?

Merely that we don’t have the combined income to afford to visit my grandkids, and my son when he moves away, more than once or twice a year.  After years of separation, some of which could have been avoided in the first place by better life choices.

My little granddaughter unwittingly said it all.


Moving On

Yesterday evening was our last time with the kids for a while.  There was a sense of tension, apprehension, and holding on tightly to our final moments together.  We spent fun time with the kids, while my son struggled to sort through all the packing up, on top of all his emotions and frustration.  Somehow he holds it all together, at least on the surface.  The kids know what’s going on, and it’s clearly affecting them, but they’ll probably be more resilient then we grownups will.  Time, as always, will tell.

For now, I’m just treasuring the fleeting time we had, after all the years spent working so hard to get here.  At least I’ll get to spend more time with my son in the coming months, as the dust settles and he deals with his new reality.  This turn of events has taken its toll on many people.  But life’s like that, always springing new catastrophes on you, and forcing you to adapt and chart new courses.  Somewhere in this is a silver lining, though it’s hard to see right now.

Here are a few captured moments:

A giant rose hip, roses, peaches, and some baby toads:

Some fresh air:

Hours at the pool; the water color is from mineral content:

Drying off:

Some rare selfies, and E with her cat buddy:

Silver linings:


Super-Soaker State

One thing this state doesn’t do half-assed is weather!  When it rains, it pours buckets for a week at a time, with plenty of sound effects!  Not that I’m complaining; the seeds I just sowed germinated within days, and everything else is finally starting to flourish, instead of sitting around in suspended animation.  My sunflower/morning glory fence is more like a flower wall.  My baby pool stays permanently filled with rainwater, which I use for watering and foot-washing.  The birdbaths stay filled with mobs of bathers.

Unlike weather, the manmade elements we keep discovering in our new old house continue to amaze us with how dangerously amateur and nonsensical they are.  Yesterday, half the electric suddenly went out, and it turned out the breakers (in an outside box?!) and house wiring were so screwed up, it’s amazing we haven’t burned down already.  The grounding is almost non-existent, and electrical components are mismatched and hillbilly.  Off to Lowes, our other home, we went, and E replaced breakers and wiring, with a thunderstorm threatening, of course.  But we’re back up and running.  Good thing someone knows how to do stuff!

Well, back to flowers, a subject I understand much better.  I caught these in between thunderstorms.



Chase Scenes

The mood up on the hill was unusually quiet, almost pensive, like the calm before the storm.  The kids clearly sense what’s coming, and are holding onto their last moments here with their Dad and with us.  They’re asking the piercing, discerning questions about life and relationships, and trying to sort it all out in their minds.  They were extra affectionate and cuddly, and even the typical meltdowns prematurely fizzled out.

We actually made it through a movie together relatively calmly.  We all had fun playing, talking, and just being together for what turns out to be our next-to-last time.  After the customary chase scene (Avdi chasing kids throughout the house and around the deck to wind them down, always a hilarious time), even bedtime went fairly smoothly, although the kids needed more reassurances and soothing than usual.  We all feel the countdown acutely.

Despite the uncertainty and turbulence of this chapter in their lives and ours, or maybe because of it, I feel confident of one thing–it brought us all closer into a tighter bond, a connection that will last even when we’re separated by hundreds of miles and years at a time.  I feel pretty sure they will have fond, secure memories of us all together as a family, which will help them cope with the disruption and changes ahead.  I feel very sad that our time was cut short, but I tried my imperfect best to seize the moments we had, which I hope made a difference.

The months ahead will be rough for all of us, but at least I can look forward to spending more time with my son as he faces the next challenging chapter.  Maybe all of life is one big chase scene, chasing down hopes and dreams which constantly morph and shape-shift, and all you can do is catch the fleeting present moment.  Here are a few captured snapshots:



After an intense gusher of a thunderstorm all night, the sun came out on a wet scene this morning.  I stepped out on the soaked back porch to witness a couple of hummingbirds on the feeder, just sitting and chirping as they drank!  Needless to say, I couldn’t take their picture, but here are some happy flowers instead.


Southern Habitats

It doesn’t take much to excite me when it comes to native habitat restoration.

Call me old-fashioned (not something I’ve ever been accused of, I’m full of surprises), but it’s encouraging to see goldfinches at last, attracted to my sunflowers’ seeds, as well as many pollinators, and a gorgeous blue and black butterfly alighting nearby for water.  (Sorry, I wasn’t able to catch the goldfinches in the act.)

A bold chipmunk was on the back porch this morning, cleaning up the all the birdseed that the squirrels and birds fling about, and dragonflies, like mobile solar panels, dart and hover throughout our meadow area, where tall grasses and wildflowers are spreading.  Mobs of diverse birds hang out at the birdbath “pool”, taking baths and drinking, and bluebirds are flocking here, a good sign of a healthy habitat.  The trees and air are full of songbirds and larger birds, including my favorite, ravens, who know when it’s Friday, chicken bone day.  Lots of baby blue-tailed skinks live around the porches, and snakes are enjoying the tall meadow grasses.

Meanwhile, it’s finally tomato season here, as you can see.  This salad is all home-grown varieties of tomatoes and herbs, with a vinaigrette.

Yesterday I sowed collard greens, Chinese cabbage, purple cowpeas, spinach, and mixed lettuce greens, for a later season successive planting.  As a newly-planted Southerner, I thought it only right that I get with the program and try a couple of regional veggies.  We’ll see how that works out.  I’m still getting used to the intense heat and humidity here, so I have to take working in stages.  Next year I hope to get more serious about growing things.

Yep, that’s how we po’ folk entertain ourselves for cheap, down South.  Erev cheers, y’all.







Early Morning Garden

The garden was looking particularly picturesque in the early morning sun.  We’re fortunate to be surrounded by trees, even though mostly not on our property, because the bird diversity is amazing here.  Yesterday we finally sighted hummingbirds, attracted by flowers and hummer feeders.  You’ll have to settle for flower and garden shots for now, though.