Monday, November 14, 2016

Things that Suck About Social Media


From a Grandma's perspective:

1.   People posting pictures of themselves standing in front of restroom mirrors.

2.   People that post pictures of themselves drunk.

3.   Pictures of couples in various poses of “in heat”.

4.   Having a public fight – back and forth for everyone to see.

5.   Over sharing.

6.   Assuming your prejudices aren’t bias because you’re right.

7.   Posting everything is either wonderfully perfect or everything is horribly awful depending on how your day is going.

8.   Inflicting your drama on every situation.
"Blaze Climber"

9.   Repeatedly posting pictures of yourself to get compliments.

10.      Women posting pictures of cleavage to get attention.

11.      Guys posting pictures of dangerous behavior and thinking it’s macho.

12.      Making fun of pictures of people you don’t know.

13.    Using social media to bully.

14.                 Spouses or significant others posting mean jokes about their mates.

15.                 People reposting news that everyone gets anyway.

16.                 Posting an obscure comment to get people to ask what you’re talking about and then refusing to talk about it.

17.                 Posting a guilt trip “if you don’t like, share or forward this” you don’t love God, don’t care about sick children, aren’t my friend etc. etc.

18.                 Linking God’s goodness to how many posts, likes, or shares a post gets.
"Joseph's Coat"

19.                 Not checking facts before reposting an Internet scare.

20.                 Posting private pictures of other people without getting permission.

21.                 Fictional stories told as real just to get people to cry.

22.                 People who think re posting/liking/sharing something on social media is actually activism and being involved in making the world better.

23.                 Making every situation black or white, right or wrong, red or blue, conservative or liberal, Republican or Democrat, as a way to negate the other person’s opinion or feelings.

24.                 Pictures of people with their tongues sticking out.

25.                 Video recording events with low-tech equipment that isn’t possible to see, hear or play.

26.                 Businesses that use their social media to talk negative about a customer or other businesses.
"New Dawn"

27.                 Businesses using social media to only promote themselves with no value to their customers.

28.                 Changing your profile picture daily to get people to compliment you or otherwise posting pictures of yourself over and over and over.

29.                 Using social media to complain or put down others when the mature way to handle would be discuss rationally in person and in private.

30.                 Not thinking about the future ramifications of comments in a world where threats, indiscretions, sexually explicitness, how you dress, maturity, grammar and profanity will be one measure of how you’re judged for acceptance into a job, a marriage or relationship, another’s family and friends, and legal situations. 

31.                 Claiming “it’s not right or fair” for others to judge you by your social media activities is naive – it’s a fact of life and becoming more so.  Learning and changing your own behavior shows maturity.     
I call this "pink climber" - I know not very original
but I've lost the name of this beauty.

 I've posted pictures of my climbing roses just because they were so beautiful this year.  

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Standing Tall

Why use tall plants around your yard? 
  •      Plants at the back of a garden bed increases layering and structure.
  •      Block out an unattractive feature.
  •      Buffer noise.
  •      Provide shade.
  •      Increase privacy and security.

Eupatorium standing to the left of the stump
is about 7 foot tall.
Layering, by putting tall plants at the back of a bed, gives continuous texture and color.  Layering with plants that bloom at different times of the year provides continuous attraction.

Combined with structural hard scapes (fencing, trellis and etc.) tall plants hide a wealth of unsightly or annoying issues.  A tall privacy or safety fence can be rather stark.  Add climbing or tall plants and it becomes an asset.   

Without hardscapes, try tall thin plants at the back such Juniper bush “Sky Rocket.”  By using thin evergreens, another layer of plants can go in front of them to soften.

Delphiniums, Foxglove, Hollyhock, ornamental grasses, milkweed and Oriental Lilies are a few tall perennials for sunny locations.  Try some of the huge tall Hosta for shade.

Annual morning glory on a
clothesline support.
Thick plants work best for noise buffering.  Evergreens especially do well all year but if summer is your only concern then heavy leafed tall bushes work.  Using layers provides a denser buffer. 

Shade plantings can be tricky.  Put some thought into it before you buy and plant.  Evergreens are slow growing and block breezes.  If they are planted close to a patio you may not get the shade you want nor the cooling you need.  On the flip side if wind is so strong you can’t put a paper plate down then dense evergreens are good.  A deciduous (loses leaves yearly) tree should not be planted close enough to structures or patios that the roots will cause problems.  When mature they will provide great shade but make sure they don’t have fruits, nuts, pods, sticky sap or thorns that will cause constant upkeep.  Large amounts of shade will limit other plantings to those that can survive without much sun.

 Plants used for privacy have the same issues as all of the above but they are a wonderful solution if you want some space between you and what’s outside your borders.  The old joke “fences makes good neighbors” is pretty much true unless you don’t maintain your borders and that’s another issue. 

Annual sunflowers hiding my vegetables.
There are quite a few tall annuals that will provide bright color all summer:  Cleome, Castor Oil Beans, sunflowers, salvia, Nicotiana and many quick growing vines.

The Victorians used to have round flower beds with tall plants in the middle and layered by height to the edges.  It is really quite beautiful and structured.

Another solution is to have a structure or posts for hanging pots.  It requires more watering but it can add height especially if the plant vine down and you have several. 

Another option for tall is potted plants.  One of my favorites is the wonderfully fragrant Brugmansia.  Potted plants (including evergreens) can be moved as the sun changes position throughout the summer.

Large gardens, small gardens, patios, balconies and roof tops can all benefit from tall plants.  Consider them in your future designs.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Best of Everything

I've added some Facebook pictures from some of
my favorite local nurseries.  This is from Nature's Creations,
Galva IL
In the spring, a gardener's fancy turns to wanting the most beautiful pre-made potted flowers in the local nursery.  You KNOW you do.  Walk an isle in the nursery and hanging at eye level are the most beautiful perfect flower arrangements just waiting to decorate your home.  Or walk by that bench with the latest unusual pots filled with new plant wonders that you KNOW you neeeeeeeed.  
From Sunnyfield Nursery, Kewanee IL
Inexperienced and old timers both feel the draw of getting instant and perfect beauty.  And most of the flowers are at their peak of beauty and perfection in springtime.  Now the question:  Should you buy a filled pot if it looks the best it's ever going to look?  Clue:  There's not right or wrong answers.
From Distinctive Gardens, Dixon IL
The answer depends on what you wish to achieve and when.  But the truth is you can't have it all.  Oh how many times have we heard that little truth and cringed.  

If you buy a hanging planter at it's peak of bloom and beauty in May, it will be very difficult, if not impossible, to have it still at this peak come August.  The exception is slow growing annuals such as some succulents and shade plants.  
From Dew Fresh Market, Kewanee IL
Some nurseries will pack their pre-made potted flowers/foliage with so many flowers they will be totally root bound by middle summer.  Think about pictures you see on your favorite social media sites of planters and the ones used in decorator books.  They have tall, full, lush plants of many varieties and looking perfect.  If you can't resist these, you need to keep gently repotting into larger containers as the months progress.  Don't break up the mass, simply add more potting soil to the bottom and sides.  Or, immediately take it out of the nursery container and repot into something much larger.

This beauty on my porch stayed lush and 
lovely all summer.  Sorry about the whipped cream 
container aka tacky cat watering bowl.
Some nurseries focus on the design more than compatibility.  We've all had one of those that something immediately dies and something bullies out the others - no matter what we do.  That said,  many of our local nurseries do such a great job of putting planted pots together it will look wonderful for months.   

I've heard gardeners blame the nursery for a pot that's gone over the  hill towards the later part of summer.  Most of the time, it's not their fault as much as it's "the way it is"with annual plants in pots.  
Hornbaker, Princton IL
Even if you pinch/prune back religiously, water the proper amount and fertilize appropriately some plants feel the end of the season coming and will simply not make it through the season.  In that case, take out the still blooming plants and move them to little places that need color in your garden beds.  Compost the ones that aren't doing well.  If you still want color in the fall, get new plants such as mums, pansies and some lovely foliage plants.  I suggest preparing the pots as you do in the spring by washing, disinfecting and using new potting soil.  No sense dooming a new plant right from the start.
Red Barn Nursery, Sheffield IL
If you want to take the middle road, buy spring pots that haven't quite started to bloom fully.  

The fact is no matter if you want to have blooms early or late, there will be a time when you probably won't have it perfect every day, all the time, the entire summer.  One fact for certain, our area nurseries have a wonderful selection of potted plants or plants to make your own at home.  

(Note:  All our area nurseries have wonderful potted examples in every style and price range.  When purchasing, be sure to ask just exactly how to care for them.  They know and want you to have the best season with your purchase.)  

Thursday, November 3, 2016


How often have we read or heard "It's the Establishment" or "It's the Man" or "It's the System" or similar protest comments?

I always have a bit of a chuckle because they are often spoken by a high profile person and that often translates into someone who is wealthy.  While protesting the establishment and successful business persons, they are in fact "the man and part of the establishment and system."

How did that happen?  Because people often want to be successful at their chosen profession.  During the initial process, they may become involved in philosophical discussions about the evil of being wealthy or having power over others.  Then one day, low and behold, they have reached the level of success where they are now in a position of power and success.  But, they are still talking like they have on bell bottom pants and tie die shirts.  

A few continue to help their causes while others talk the talk but haven't caught on it's now time to make the difference they've criticized others for not taking. 

Although I was of the era, I wanted to say to John and Yoko "get out of bed and actually do something."  Or persons flying into town at the slightest hint of racial troubles but are long gone when the citizens actually need long term leadership.  

It takes hard work to make a difference.  Once the youthful idealism becomes midlife realism, it's time to make that difference. For those that have transferred those dreams into helping others, you are the ones that should be featured on the daily news.  You are the heroes of your generation. 

Thursday, October 20, 2016


Some thoughts that probably make sense:

God did not make ugly kittens; He knew cats would be a hard sell.

A plant that self-seeds into a crack the size of a toothpick is a kind of “nature wins” event we will never understand.

From 105 The River: “The fact that jelly fish have survived for 650 million years despite not having brains gives hope to many people.”

It only takes one person to think positive about a community to start a positive movement:  Thanks to all the “City of Go” volunteers who are making a difference throughout Galva.

Finding and visiting a restaurant that uses seasonal local produce is a wonderful thing for:  the farmer, the restaurateur and your little tummy.

For some folks, the speck of human frailty is only in the other person’s eye.    

In this area of the Midwest, we need to stop and realize we aren’t in the middle of California wild fires, Louisiana floods, Middle East religious’ wars, urban crime, West Coast drought, Texas border issues, China’s air pollution nor wars that have left so many children orphans.  You and I are Blessed beyond measure.

If you haven’t heard at least one person say, “That’s the best looking corn I’ve ever seen.” this year, you haven’t been to a coffee shop.

The organizers of the Back Roads Music Fest should be on the cover of Time magazine for being optimistic, intelligent and a huge benefit to our community.

The components are all there to form a Galva Historical Association; To preserve, publicize and enhance.

The laziest thing you can do is think in negative terms.

When we think of economic development, we often dream of bringing in big businesses.  But the backbone of small towns is the privately owned mom and pop stores, factories and enterprises.  Thank your local business owners for making your life better and then support them!

If you’ve ever read a newspaper published in another town, you have to realize we have one of the best weeklies in the US!  We don’t have to like everything they print – we just have to appreciate all it takes to be there for us.

Speaking of the Galva News, take a scroll through the G.N. Facebook page and it soon becomes evident just how many volunteer groups and local businesses are working to better our local communities.

Every time I see a weed has been pulled from a public garden area, I know our communities are thriving in ways we don’t always notice.

If you’ve never seen where bad things can be the stepping stone for good things, then take a look at the work going on in the old furniture store/doctor offices – pretty darn wowzer.

Does anyone but me look at Patrick Sloan volunteering his music and think, “That apple didn’t fall far from the tree.”

Although the whole “competition” thing sometimes gets in the way, supporting all the little towns around us only benefits us as a whole. 

When I see a farmer wear bib overalls it still makes me nostalgic.  Everyone should own at least one pair because they are seriously the most comfortable hard-work attire made.  (Do farmers wear attire??)

For those in the national media who think all of America hangs on to every little political tidbit – they should have seen the reaction of the crowds along the Galva 4th of July parade.  Bring on the many queens and their courts, the tractors, the floats, the kids, the trucks and for anyone under ten, THE CANDY!  But politics in parades – yawn.

The day someone coined, “Enquiring minds want to know.” is the day the national media started that slow slippery slide into a baloney sandwich without the bread.

If you grew up before politically correct, parental hovering, instant gratification, everyone having their own vehicle, phone, computer and your wishes or opinions  trumped those of adults - then you are an old person.  And I mean that in the kindest way.  And our parents meant it in the kindest way.  And it might be kind today.

And in conclusion my friend:  The “Sweet smell of success” is called sweat equity.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

A Rolling Stone Gathers No Moss

Every time I write a story it’s because I’ve been inspired by something I’ve seen or heard.   I was inspired recently by a beautiful “moss garden.”
A little moss garden from Pinterest

First:  Moss is not mildew and doesn’t damage other plants and household surfaces the way mildew does.  Although I’d keep it off cedar roof shingles.

The facts:  Technically moss is a plant although it doesn’t have true leaves, branches or roots.  Since it doesn’t have roots, it must absorb water in other ways.  Also, it has no seeds but spreads by spores or division.  Typically, it grows in colonies.

The needs:  Moisture – just damp not swampy.  Shade – keeps it from drying out as quickly.  Acidic soil – A pH of about 5.5.  Compacted soil – prefers compacted clay soil.

The attitude:  If you have the needs met and you have moss growing – stop trying to get rid of it!  It’s like having the perfect conditions for roses and killing them because you want a sand lot.  Just stop!
Moss rock garden from Pinterest

Developing a moss garden can start with that bit you already have growing.  Keep your new moss garden in that general area since you already know it has the right conditions. 

The warnings:  Moss harvested in deep shade will not grow as well in an open lightly shaded area.  Yes, there are many different moss varieties.  If you harvest your own, try to plant in a similar situation.  If you buy, ask the seller which is right for your spot.

Transplanting:  Best time is spring or fall when there’s the most rainfall to help it quickly establish.  Make sure the area is free of other growth (weeds, grass etc.) and simply lay your moss start onto the damp soil, press gently and water.  For the first year, don’t allow it to dry out.  Once established it will only need water if there’s a drought.
Moss covered cement via Pinterest

I had a little moss garden in the back yard at my Galva house.  I placed a bench, had some old rocks and bricks around for visual depth and it was ever so lovely to walk on with bare feet.  I’d “groom” my little spot by sitting and pulling any weeds (there wasn’t many) and picking off any sticks and leaves.  It’s an amazingly “garden Zen-like” task.

Moss gardens can be tiny, in little pots or logs, or large as in acres if you develop the right conditions.  They may compliment other shade plants such as Hosta, ferns, or impatiens.  Moss gardens look lovely with Japanese gardens or even small raked gravel areas.

If you want to add moss to cement statues or rocks, try adding some moss to buttermilk, mix well and brushing on the area of the statue/cement/rock that’s been soaked in water. Keep it moist by misting until established.  Never hit moss with the hard jet spray or it will be pulled out and destroyed.

Moss will take some gentle foot traffic but will not hold up to hard traffic or tires.  Moss can be used as part of fairy gardens; it lends a mystical look.   It doesn’t work for playgrounds.

Moss is a wild plant so don’t take huge amounts from woodland areas and especially if it’s not your woodland.  National Forests (and some State and local parks) prohibit harvesting any vegetation. 
A small portion of Dale Sievert's moss gardens.

If you’d like inspiration, check out Dale Sievert’s blog:

If you crave – NEED – serenity and calm, consider a moss garden.  It can be a process that enriches you as it enriches your plot of land.  You may find you are embracing natural garden things you hadn’t imagined you’d love:  fog and dew, lack of lawn grasses, an old world vibe and the textures of green. 
Back yard moss garden from Pinterest

If you’re wondering if it a moss garden will hold up to our winters, Mr. Sievert’s gardens are in Wisconsin and do nicely.  Mine was in little Galva Illinois and did nicely.  If you’re new to moss gardening, start small and learn as you go.  A little pot of moss beside your kitchen sink, under the cabinet, in a sweet little saucer could be all you need.  Ten acres, landscaped and groomed, well maybe someday – just maybe someday.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Real Heros Wear Patches

More patches from around the world donated
to the son of the injured Greentown officer.
Real Heroes Wear Patches Quilt for the officer's son.
My little hometown, Greentown Indiana, is experiencing the sadness and agony of having a young local policeman wounded and his partner killed this summer; both with wives and young children.  Our hometown officer’s eight-year-old son goes to the local school and his teacher was wanting to help with the frightening facts this little boy is experiencing.  She came up with “Real Heroes Wear Patches” and it mushroomed into an entire town honoring all men and women who wear a uniform in the service of their communities and country.

I’m partial to those who serve in law enforcement because I know them as more than a uniform but as good people, fathers and mothers, sons and daughters, family and friends.  My first cousin as a Deputy Sheriff, a son-in-law as a policeman in Galesburg, a policeman in Geneseo and the Henry County Sheriff who both served with me on the Freedom House Board of Directors and a good friend’s daughter-in-law that’s a deputy.  When I hear negative talk about our military, police, firemen/women and EMTs, it’s personal. 

As with any other job, if someone doesn’t perform it well, they need to be coached or disciplined or released to find other work they’re more suited.  But the large majority are doing a job you and I don’t want to do.  They are doing that job because they love it.  They are doing it without much thanks or affirmation.  They aren’t getting rich.  They are doing it extremely well in a difficult and scary time.  They are doing in spite of the very real dangers.  They are taking care of your family in hopes they return to their family.  Not many of us have that job worry and not many of us understand what they and their family goes through.

Anyone can complain – it only takes a moment during casual conversation at the local coffee shop or among friends and family.  That negative moment has a much longer lasting effect on the spirit of the community.  If we run down the community members serving us, are we helping to destroy the fabric of that community?  If we actually have a suggestion or complaint, isn’t it wiser and more helpful to go to the leader or commander of that department or organization and talk it out?  You see – negative gossip condemns an entire organization and gets very little done to help.  

As we see so much unrest in our nation – in the world – can a little community step out to thank and honor our heroes who wear patches?  I know one that did it in a huge way.  I have to think my adopted little community has the same kind of spirit of thanksgiving.  It doesn’t take a death or serious injury to get behind our local heroes.  It does take a community willing to make it a priority even when things are going great.

Some of our citizens have already taken that public step to thank and honor:  Back Roads Music Festival – American Legion Post 45 – Galva City Council – Bishop Hill Filling Station – Galva High School – Volunteers at the Galva and Bishop Hill Fire Department Fund Raisers – Galva Pharmacy – John H. Best Manufacturing.  I’m sure you know individuals and organizations that could be added to this list. 

Our community (and I include Bishop Hill) has proved over and over they are front runners of kindness and thanksgiving.  Shall we bring this spirit of thankfulness into an organized effort and one of personal commitment?  Are you the one person to take the lead in your organization?  Are you the individual to write a note, send a message/text or stop and shake a hand?  I think you are!