Neither Rain nor Gloom of Night

I borrowed part of the USPS creed to describe my son’s determination to work and work out, despite discouragement.  Happily for us, he was here as usual to work, share our erev meal, and steal a few moments for the “pull-ups tree” and lawn pushups.  A typical storm was whipping up, so it was thundering, lightning, and starting to rain, perfect photography and workout weather!  (I was “supervising” i.e. cracking the whip.)  Here is the evidence.  (Note the wall of wild grapes growing up the huge holly.)



I awoke to not one but two cats camped out on the deck, eyeing each other warily, but glomming onto me as usual.  I guess they know who the human suckers are around here.  The little female attached herself to my leg the whole time I was taking flower pictures.  She was determined to come inside with me, but I have to be strong and hold out for our own house-kitties, when we can afford them.  (You get a bonus foot-selfie thrown in, the closest you’ll get to my unphotogenic self.)



Late Summer Rumination

Late summer is drawing to its grand finale of color bursts, and of our first season in E. TN.  It’s been…different.

Some days I look out and wonder what I’m doing here, but I remind myself that although the rationale that brought us here got undermined, it doesn’t mean it’s the end.  It’s a scary unknown, but every new chapter is.  Surprises can work both ways, occasionally even for the better.  You just have to make the most of where you landed, and be glad for a clean slate of possibilities.

Some of my wish came true–I get to spend some time with my son, before he moves on.  Circumstances have changed drastically, and the future is hard to foresee, but we are more fortunate than most.  In a way, my son got a new lease on life, young enough to recover and resume living more authentically and true to himself.  And we are privileged to be here for him in whatever capacity helps in his transition.

Meanwhile, we have a piece of land with potential to transform into a restored wildlife habitat, to share with whatever lifeforms happen through, and to make them feel welcome.  Whether that’s family, an animal or human friend, a volunteer native plant, or whomever we have the honor to host, we are the lucky ones.  We don’t get to keep anyone or thing forever, anyway, we just get daily chances to choose what’s important, and make it count.

And now, back to your daily boring veg installment.



When you’re in our situation, older on a fixed income, you learn to entertain yourself in place, with the resources you have available.  My amusement is exploring our “vast estate” (i.e. oversized lawn) for new nature finds and angles.  It’s amazing how just viewing a scene from a different point of view can frame it in a new light.  Derive whatever metaphorical meaning you like!  It’s all in the perspective.

I enjoy finding new volunteer wildflowers, trees, and wildlife, and encouraging them to take over, as they should.  My goal is to look out and see a wall of trees and fence of flowers, where animals and raptors can feel at home.  The other day, while E had the “Pony” out mowing, an owl flew into the shed and perched in the shadows, surprising her when she went to park the mower.  It means more wild critters are finding a conducive, safe space closer in to our property, which is the whole idea.  They were here first, after all.

Here’s a mix of angles and textures of wild and domestic common plants.







Flower Walls

The best walls in my opinion are flower walls.  They enhance and supplement the natural environment, while providing aesthetic privacy.  They’re constantly transforming into more complex tangles of color, texture, and symbiosis before your eyes.  They attract new wildlife, the best kind of neighbors, and screen out the less pleasant human varieties.  It’s an ever-changing living tableau each morning.

I used to be a plant snob, until I became “poor”.  Now I’m an equal opportunity flower employer.  I appreciate the most common, humble, inconspicuous plants and how they play a part beautifying and enriching the environment.  I still avoid exotic invasives, favoring more native species which improve natural habitats.  But there’s nothing like a wall of sunflowers, black-eyed susans, morning glories, cosmos, and flowering vines, covered with goldfinches, hummers, and a variety of beneficial pollinators.

Even more humble, but still photogenic as well as useful, are squash blossoms, peppers, and their marigold companions.  They all have their place.  Now, if I could only see all humans that way, but that will take more squinting.

Lizard and Lemonade

Today I made pink lemon/limeade from scratch.  I made lemon simple syrup (sugar, water, and lemon zest simmered a few minutes), strained it and added fresh-squeezed lemon and lime juice, water, and a little cranberry juice.  Pour over ice, lemon/lime slices, and fresh mint leaves.  (Add gin as desired.)


I got up close to a baby skink who was stranded in the empty baby pool, and rescued her.  She conveniently matches the décor!  This was my closest encounter yet.

The Cat Borg

It’s hard to get any flower photography done, when this is who greets you and gloms onto you when you go outside in the morning!  You can see where this progression is headed.  Yes, I did let her inside for a moment, against my better judgement.  Then she got her bit of milk out on the porch.  She knows who’s in charge here.  Resistance is futile.  We have been assimilated.

So pet-deprived.




So this is how it begins…first one, then another friendly cat shows up and makes itself at home, and before you know it, you’re the crazy cat lady.  This one is a young female muted tortoiseshell who perched like a sphinx on our deck railing one evening, and then quickly draped herself onto the front porch and us.  I guess we have outdoor cats covered.

This lizard was spazzing across the back porch, and then I noticed it had caught a large moth and was wrestling it down.  As more animals and birds get used to our presence, it becomes easier to sneak up and take their picture.  For now, it’s fun to watch the crowds of goldfinches hanging from sunflowers eating the seeds, and hummers at the feeder and flowers just inches away from us.




It was wonderful as usual to have my son over yesterday to work from here, join us for our erev meal and drinks, and just talk about things.  I treasure these waning chances to be together and connect.  Oddly, I did not take photos to capture the moment.  I was too absorbed in our conversations.  So instead, have some flora, as well as our friendly neighborhood cat relaxing at his favorite spa under the bench.  Oh to be like a cat, never concerned with the past regrets, future fears, or isolation, just reveling in the comforts of the moment.




We picked up my son and granddaughter at Knoxville airport (our first time there), and took them home to a weirdly empty, echoey house (our first time since the kids got relocated).  I can only imagine the emotions my son is going through, but he’ll make it.  We all have to.

Meanwhile, life goes on, as it tends to do.  Here is my latest herb garden annex, the airport bear, E’s latest greatest challah, another wacky pumpkin in August, and the requisite flowers and herbs.