Fall Garden

Shots from the garden - some favorites from the end of the season!

Hardy Begonia was lovely this year - thanks Jayne!
Japanese anemone tall and gorgeous - bugs attacked these this year!
New from Lowe's on clearance - Homestead Verbena. Supposed to be able to weather the winter here, but we'll see. Maybe if I really mulch it up for protection...
Long shot of the side garden. By now, the black-eyed susans have gone the other way and the banner grass has plumes. Too many susans, I think.
Wish I could take a walk through all of your gardens before the frost falls!

For more Wordful Wednesday photos, go to Angie's Seven Clown Circus!


Shopping With My Camera

We went to the Country Living Fair in Columbus last weekend. It was a great day of fantastic fall sights and amazing things for sale. The prices were a little out there, so I decided to shop with my camera instead of shopping with dollars.

I knew this little guy was supposed to be mine as soon as I saw his angelic expression! And look how modest he is!
He's even got seriously modest crack coverage!
There wasn't a price on him - he was either display, or too much if you have to ask. It doesn't matter - he's all mine ... digitally, that is.
More Fair Photos to come!


the Dream Meal

Seriously. I have always tried to cook with my eye toward healthy, leaner, nutritious food. Anyone who reads this blog knows that I'm no Kitchen Diva, but I need to say that I do try to avoid the pre-fab foods in the center aisles. A teacher friend, in my previous life (career) as a public school teacher, told me that the necessary and healthiest foods are around the perimeter of the store. True, if you think about it. Anyway --- this little story needs to be prefaced with the fact that I've never fed my family one of these dinners that come from a box. Not because I'm too snooty to do it, but because I do believe that these probably don't contain the best I'm able to do for them nutritionally. OK? Just nod. Thanks.

So, I'm in the store with My Youngest the other day, picking up the items we need for the next week's meals. He begins to describe his "Dream Meal" to me. "It's these cheesy noodles, Mom, they're SOOOO cheesy, and there's all this hamburger mixed in .... If I could have that - it would be my Dream Meal!" I suggest that his description sounds like Hamburger Helper. "YEAH! That's what it's called!" Thank you, Prime Time Advertisers. I'll spare you the description that I endured of the pan that appears in someone's car along with a talking glove. You're welcome.

Thinking that I can easily make this dream come true, we head over to the aisle of box dinners and find the boy's dream meal box. He is so excited as I get some fittingly fatty hamburger to go with it - Go Big or Go Home, right??? As I'm preparing this meal, that same night, he hovers around me, anxiously waiting. Snickering as I stir, I'm thinking this is a big joke I'm playing on the Men, right? How could they possibly like this, of course they won't, when I've raised them on healthy meals? I don't even fix a salad to go with the Hamburger Helper Double Cheeseburger meal, keeping with the theme, after all. Just big piles of meat, processed cheese powder, and noodles. There!

You already know how this is going, don't you?! Never in all my life as a mom have I had such a joyous reception to any meal - ever. Each of them made exclamations of wonder and grunts of manly satisfaction as their heaps of Helper disappeared. Open-mouthed, I watched them snorf it down, stuttering as My Oldest requested Helper, this exact flavor and none other, at least once a week, complimenting me over and over on the yummy deliciousness of the meal. (My description, not his, of course.) There was a heated battle the next day over the (very) small container of refrigerated leftovers. Another first for me. Go figure.

Yes, I've made it again for them. With leaner meat this time. And a salad. But I'm much too weak a woman to resist all the happy faces around me at dinner when I serve the Helper. Sad but true.

I'm just a


New Camera

I'm having a great time taking photos with our new camera! Check the bee doing his work inside this Heavenly Blue morning glory ---

Is that cool or what?
SO much to learn, though, before I can really use the camera to its fullest - the manual is thick! When My Dear Husband was looking at cameras to buy, my advice was, "Go big or go home!" So he was checking out the cameras at the top of the price range - crazy prices for cameras, in case you haven't been looking - crazy. In the end, it was me who chickened out and drew back to the mid-range in price. Lots less money, and still wonderful photos! I'll bore you with more of them in the near future...

For more Wordful Wednesday photos, go to Angie's Seven Clown Circus!


I Didn't Die...

Thanks to Holly for starting these wonderful Hyacinth Bean vines for me back in the spring! They are so lovely, with sweetpea-like sprays of purple flowers. Hummingbirds love them - since this vine is right outside my kitchen window, I've been watching the little birds perch on the sturdy stems for a little bit of rest every now and then. When the flowers mature, they form the coolest purple pod, which I thought for a few years was edible. It wasn't very tasty, so I didn't go out to the garden to get rid of hunger pangs or anything like that, but I ate a few as I walked along. One horrified friend informed me that the pods are poisonous, but I checked it out and internet "experts" are undecided. Certainly I didn't die, and neither did all these people who steamed, stir-fried, or boiled them for their dinner. Yet, many are still cautious about eating them. I haven't had any myself, since Horrified Friend gave me Severe Warnings when I plucked one and ate it while chatting with her on her porch. How nice to have a friend who cares!


Summer Annabelles - Full Circle

Annabelle hydrangeas at their summer best! 
The blooms have turned from a bright white to a light apple-green in color. In habit, they lean over with the weight of the maturing blooms in the summer - rain and wind also cause them to dip lower than they do in the spring, when they are quite straight and proud.

The spring white blooms are fresh and soft to the touch, and have a slight fragrance, while these late summer ones are more stiff and papery - they have dried right on the bush. Some of the blooms are getting tired of the dry summer season and start show brown spots. You can see one very late new bloom, white in the background, for contrast.

Do you see the parallels between our lives and this, my favorite bush? 

Now, finally, all four seasons of an Annabelle Hydrangea bush have been displayed on this blog - click the "annabelles" thread to see all the other moods of this bush throughout a growing season.


Freaky Finds

Antique junk stores - one of my favorite pastimes! I got to visit this one with all my Men while on the trip to Lake Cumberland this past July. Can you believe that? I know, that's unlikely, isn't it - but this junk store sold ice cream, too! Yes, that's why - have men, follow stomachs! While in the store, I couldn't resist taking photos of these...... oddities :

A creepily-fake Grammy greeted us as we entered. The glasses were glued on - I checked.
More fun things on the porch - somebody left the baby in the washtub ... before its bath, I think!
Nearly life-sized carved totems guard the way to the parking lot. My Middle Son had to rub their noses he passed them by.
For more Wordful Wednesday photos, go to Angie's Seven Clown Circus!



Two years ago today, I was gently led me into a hard place - a place that would make my faith grow into something stronger.

I had gone to the endocrinologist on the recommendation of my rheumatologist when he found a lump on my neck during a routine exam. He indicated that he thought it might be Hashimoto's Thyroiditis - another auto-immune complication perhaps related somehow to the rheumatoid arthritis I've dealt with for many years. I made my appointment quickly, fairly dancing over to the endo at the soonest possible appointment. I just knew that this must be the reason that I've become a little....ahem....chubby in my middle years. Yes, I'd noticed that lump on my neck, but I thought it was the chubby neck some people seem to develop when they turn 40 as I had in the past year. "This will fix my extra-pounds problem!" I thought I'd get a couple pills and begin melting away the inches as my thyroid came back into its proper order. Yippee!

At that first appointment, the endo doubted the H. Thyroiditis and instead insisted on a biopsy. She did not laugh, even a little, when I suggested all I needed was a little prescription of pills. "Am I having an emergency today?" I asked doubtfully, snickering just a little for bravery's sake. "Yes, you are having an emergency," she answered. The following week, two years ago today, I sat on the table, holding my Dear Husband's hand, as she told us that the cells taken in the biopsy were malignant and we were referred to a surgeon.

At each juncture we were told that the chances of this being serious were extremely low. Very low chance that the cells would be malignant - but they were. Very low chance that the biopsy during surgery would show that the entire thyroid would actually have cancerous cells and need to be removed- but it was and it did. As the pieces of bad news came, we decided it was just like like getting a wave of salty sea water right in the face. A very unpleasant shock, that leaves you with an upset stomach as well as bloody hands and knees. Then the wave would recede, and normal life resumed between appointments. The laundry had to be done, the meals had to get cooked, the children required teaching! Thank goodness, those things kept me staked down!

I've changed endocrinologists, having found that the one I had was a little too --- alarmist. Thyroid cancer is a very mild cancer requiring only surgery and a pretty simple treatment of an radioactive iodine drink. Radiation and chemotherapy are not associated with the treatment of thyroid cancer! How thankful I am for this!!! But the first time a doctor looks at you and forms the word "malignant" with her lips - it's going to be a dramatic moment.

That day I heard the Lord speak to me - that's why today is a day worthy to celebrate! I don't know where you find room for this in your theology ... it doesn't matter to me if you do or don't. God spoke to His people in the days of the Bible, and if it's recorded there, then it can happen here and now too. When the doctor left the room, and I was left alone with the news of being dead-center in the middle what I had been told was an emergency, that's when I heard His voice whisper in my heart - "I'll be with you all the way through this!" Peace flooded my soul, and do you know what? He was! Yes, the waves of bad news hit hard, but the peace of His words have never left me!

My last yearly screening for re-growth of thyroid cells is coming up next month. It is no picnic to lay under/in a huge machine hoping that, at the end, the technician will let me go with no further tests - indicating a clean scan. I do get nervous about it - having heard the c-word once in my life, I don't ever want to hear it again!

But how sweet to know that He was and is with me - all the way - and how laviously gracious was He to remind me of what was already written in His word so long ago:

'...He Himself has said, "I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you," so that we confidently say, "The Lord is my Helper, I will not be afraid. What will man do to me?"'
Hebrews 13:5b

I hope this bit of my story might encourage you if you're facing something that might seem like an emergency. If you are His child, He's leading you with a sure hand in every situation. He never leaves us - so is any situation really an emergency?


Blue Eyes

These look like two blue eyes, a perfect pair.

(Photograph taken by My Youngest as part of his opening school day.)


Pink Diamonds

If you buy plants in the fall to enjoy next season,

may I suggest buying a Pink Diamond Hydrangea? This bush can be pruned into a short tree form, very nice as a garden centerpiece.

In the spring, the blooms are lovely white spears, that gradually turn a wonderful pink shade in the late summer.

And a very deep shade of pink later in the fall. Bees, insects and hummingbirds love them, since they have a sweet fragrance. Ours is about five years old in this photo, but its had it's tree form for at least two years now. Once it's pruned, there's hardly any maintenance at all - in fact no maintenance at all! Can't ask for much more than that!


Free Flowers

Oh, the glorious fullness of summer container gardens! Last year, I loaded all my containers with spare perennials from the flower beds, hoping to cut down on the cost of annuals when spring came around. This plan worked, the perennials made it through the winter, except in the case of this set of washtubs at the front of the house. All its perennials died over the winter, maybe because I poked evergreen branches in there for a winter display. So this spring, I thought I had a blank slate to work with - nothing but dirt...

EXCEPT FOR some tiny seedlings that looked like annual salvia coming up all over the tub soil! I love something for free, so I planted some annuals around those little babies, doubting they would really develop into full grown plants. Now, at the end of the growing season, ALL those huge purply-pink and red salvia are volunteers from last summer! How nice is that?

For more Wordful Wednesday photos, go to Angie's Seven Clown Circus!




What is something you're anticipating in this upcoming fall season?

(Photograph taken by My Youngest as part of his opening school day.)


Hen Stalk

Hens and Chicks, right? I've had this pot of them out in the garden for several years. They came as a garden gift from my mother-in-law.I haven't taken care of them the way I should and they just look poorly - the pot is all falling apart and flaking everywhere - the whole thing needs to be repotted. BUT this year, I find this thick stalk (can you see it??) coming up from the center of the hens - WHAT?? Guess that's one of the wonders of an unusually wet summer in Kentucky! It seems that Hens and Chicks flower from a stalk like this. Amazing. Find out more about Hens and Chicks here. They even come in other lovely colors.


Peach Stand

My sons don't like to stop anywhere along the way to a destination. Typical, yes? So when we were on our way to the lake, I whispered to My Dear Husband as soon as I saw the signs for this peach stand: "Pull over at this stand, but don't warn the boys..." He knows how it is, so he just quickly pulled off, and the groaning was minimal since we hopped out and left them all behind to wait in the car. People who are intent on fishing, boating and floating have no interest in roadside fruit stands.

We asked for the best peaches for eating. The woman minding the store said that the peaches she sold were so good that "your tongue will slap your brain silly!" What more could anyone want???
Washing the fuzz off the peach before getting my brain slapped ---
(accompanied by more groans from the male-type-people, firmly ignored by peach eating parents...)

For more Wordful Wednesday photos, go to Angie's Seven Clown Circus!