Thursday, October 29, 2015

Human Nature

Bitsey Oh, you wanted your keyboard?
Sometimes I can get a whole column from just reading my morning dose of Facebook posts.  Thank you friends and family; you inspire laughs, concern and amazement.

Why is there a need to add that little bully comment at the end of a nice thought?  Example: “ God loves you.  If you don’t share this, your nose will fall off.”

Do you worry about that person who is so lonesome the only thing that will help is if everyone sends them a virtual hug?

I sometimes have someone ask a garden question.  Granted I’m far from an expert but there is always that one other person that must challenge anything I suggest to prove the fact that I know nothing.  I'm grateful I’ve given them their highlight of the day.
Bitsey doing who knows why
If women can’t support each other, not criticize each other and be an uplifting part of their life – how can we ever hope for peace on earth?

YOU are an example to others on social media.  No matter if you’re 90 or a teenager.  I know it sounds basic but so many people say and do things without considering someone is watching and listening and will incorporate that into their future.

Do not judge:  

  1. A book by its cover.   
  2. A garden by its yard ornaments.  
  3. A woman by how she looks at 5 am.  
  4. A man by his ball cap.

If some of my friends cooked, baked and ate every recipe they post on Facebook, I would have some really big friends.

Thankful the Cubs won as much as they did.  In a state that’s primarily known for it’s high number of convicted government officials, the honest citizens have been vindicated.  It’s bigger than baseball folks.
Bitsey I know I heard something up here.
I was pulled into the 21st century when I received and was grateful for virtual sympathy condolences.  It really is “the thought that counts.”

For a few of my friends/family, “Throw back Thursday” is a chance to show the world you were once wrinkle free.  I feel your pain.

I’m grateful I didn’t try to use letters to replace thoughts – like LOL.   At this age, they change before I’ve mastered it and I’ll look like I’m not into something rather than have all my grandchildren roll their eyes.

The human mind is unique and amazing.  Even people who are my soul sisters and roll models have that little quirk that lets me know they are not me.  A blessing for both of us I’m sure.
Bitsey - what is he doing in my chair?
Some people will publically post an opinion on Facebook that they would never write in a personal note or say to someone’s face. 

Monitor yourself:  That moment when you go from having an opinion to having a soapbox. 

I’m grateful for stories and pictures of towns across the world celebrating their little claims to fame.   Right now I’m looking at a large parade float in the Netherlands that has a huge DEAD Vincent Van Gogh in purple flowers.  This somehow reassures me our little Midwest town is pretty darn wonderful.
Boots had no fear and thus no more Boots.

Sometimes a family member will post something and I secretly think, “I hope those mind genes came from the other side of the family.”

There is evil in this world.  It is not running out of pumpkin or the first frost.

I don’t need to see graphic horrible for anyone to make a point.  I am capable of understanding the gravity of a situation without that visual.

I seriously worry about friends and family who post nothing but negative or worrisome comments and articles.  Can’t you be happy about anything?

I still don’t understand why someone wants to be “friends” of mine on Facebook when they don’t bother to say “Hi” in the local hardware store.
Maggie aka Buddy - relaxation at it's best (photo by Kelly L.)

Have we become so politically insecure we are forgetting to teach our boys how to be men?  I don’t want men to think like a woman, feel like a woman nor act like a woman.  I want to be able to criticize men for all their own character traits.

Realize when you post something, I may pray for you. 

Thanks to “The Old Movie Guy’s Page” on Facebook, I see there are more character actors who’ve been successful at acting than leading actors.  There’s a life lesson in there.

James Bond what do you mean you were reading.
If the only thing you post on your Facebook page is Pinterest crafts made out of wine corks, you may be hiding a problem.   Speaking of such:  Has anyone seen the cute little wine cork reindeers?  Sorry.  No really, I don’t have a problem.  Did I say “sorry”?

For all my family and friends who post beautiful pictures, I thank you.  I may not be able to get everywhere beautiful but you allow me to see places through your eyes and camera. 

I am grateful I know a few really practiced and high quality goofballs. 
J decided my daylily shipping box is her new bed.
If you were born with a cute little perfect nose - good for you.  If you were born with what we call a “distinctive nose” and still rock your attitude – even better.

There’s a fine line between respecting someone’s right to their opinion and condoning that opinion.

Gotta go – someone posted a picture of an endangered turtle dancing on a little kitten while three babies eat ice cream. Yes, it’s a Facebook morning.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Gonna Take A Sentimental Journey

Gonna take a sentimental journey
Gonna set my heart at ease

Gonna make a sentimental journey
To renew old memories

Got my bag
Got my reservation
Spent each dime
I could afford
Like a child
In wild anticipation
Long to hear that
All aboard
That's the time we leave
At seven
I'll be waitin' up for
Countin' every mile
Of railroad track
That takes me back
Never thought
My heart could be so yearly
Why did I decide to roam
Gotta take that sentimental journey
Sentimental journey home
All pictures are a sentimental journey home.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Good Examples

From an Amish blog I follow.
“Tradition” – a song sung by a Jewish father in the musical “Fiddler on the Roof” emphasizes that some things should be transferred from generation to generation. In truth, there are many values that need to be imparted to children.  Not only values in life but in gardening as well.  I’ve collected some good ideas that still hold true.

A repellent for deer:  In a tank sprayer, mix one gallon of water, three-tablespoons Louisiana Hot Sauce, one-teaspoon garlic powder and mix well.  Then add one-teaspoon dish soap as a spreader/sticker.  Spray on your plants once a week and after rain.  Make fresh each time.

The best way to remove earwigs from the center of daylilies without damaging the flower is to hold a bucket of soapy water under the bloom and then take a deep breath and blow in the flower until the earwig drops out into the bucket. 

Killing Japanese Beetles:  Early in the morning, gently shake the flowers and the Japanese Beetles will fall into a bucket of soapy water.  They are sluggish and won’t fly away.  Squashing them releases an odor that brings more insects.

If a daylily stem (scape) is too weak it will fall over in bloom.  Use colored duct tape to wrap the stem and it should stand the season.

Men and women used to wear broad brimmed straw hats when working outside gardening and farming.  Now days the baseball cap is popular for both.  The downside is your ears, cheeks and neck are now exposed to sun and as a result skin cancer is a real threat or reality.  Cover or slather on sunscreen all day.  A word to the wise is sufficient.    

If your garden has some disease issues, carry a bucket of water with a bit of bleach to dip your trimmers into after every cut.  It will keep from transferring the diseases to other valuable plants.  A stitch in time saves nine.

If you wash your porches and decks, make sure the solution is plant friendly.  The run off from toxic and caustic chemicals will kill even large plants.  I use Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Peppermint Soap.  It’s made with organic oils that not only clean but also tend to repel insects.  I get mine at Cornucopia in Galesburg but you can find it other places. 

Clean out all hummingbird feeders with a mild bleach solution when the season ends, rinse thoroughly and hang to dry.  This will get rid of all mold and diseases.

In a baggie, save pieces of ribbon and add cut material scrapes into thin strip.  Early in the spring, toss them onto bushes and soon they’ll be gone, incorporated into bird nests.  It’s not a bird necessity; it’s for our fun.

Spread some alfalfa pellets around your daylily plants early in the spring (not touching the leaves) for a good fertilizer.  When planting a new daylily, add a handful to the bottom of the hole, cover with a thin layer of soil and water, then add the plant.  Alfalfa is hot so you don’t want them to burn the roots by directly touching.

If soil in your garden isn’t routinely given good nutrients, it will show up in disease, decreased vigor and death.  Make composting and fertilizing an every year project.

Tree leaves (except walnuts) make excellent mulch.  Do NOT bag and send off to the dump.  Chop up by mowing and then rake under bushes, on top of perennials and over beds. They will end up composting into a good yummy fertilizer plus offer winter protection for the roots.  If you have too many, consider making a simple compost pile which becomes free fertilizer.  A penny saved is a penny earned.

Be careful – VERY CAREFUL – right now burning anything outside.  Bonfires, trash and even controlled burns are risky when it’s this dry. 

Putting vinegar on plant material is another risky business.  I know there are many on-line recipes that include vinegar for a variety of outdoor purposes but vinegar is caustic and may kill a plant.

As you put your garden to rest this fall, take a moment to enjoy what a grand summer we’ve had this year.  And take another moment to wish our farm neighbors a safe and profitable harvest.  Thanks for feeding the world.

And to end with another beautiful “Fiddler on the Roof” song:  “Sunrise, sunset.  Sunrise, sunset.  Swiftly fly the years.  One season following another; laden with happiness and tears.”  Aw wisdom. 


Thursday, October 1, 2015


Starting a new roof with Walt VerVynck Construction,
Kewanee IL
We’ve had this 1896 built home since 1996.  We brought it back from the brink of “tear down” but that involved some financial choices.  It wasn’t a “Let’s buy the best of everything to have a perfect house” kind of effort.  It was a pick and choose on quality and cost to fit our budget.  And at that time, some things we wanted to do were cost prohibitive in this area. 

We’ve done much of the work ourselves and had contractors do the big stuff.  We’ve been blessed by many good contractors, local business owners who are talented and take pride in their work. 

Now it’s time to do some final upgrades to either last us through our lives or to make the house more marketable should we have to move.  (Or as I like to say:  "Do they wheel me out the front door to the nursing home or find me toes up in a bed of daylilies with a fist full of weeds.) 
Dana Well Drilling, Kewanee IL
Today we have started the process of installing a steel roof.  Almost twenty years ago, the options for a steel roof were not easily available at our house.  Today we have J Mac Metals right here in Galva: American made – Galva made – Henry County installed:  perfect!

I’ve talked about having contractors work in yards where gardeners care about plants.   See “Contractors in the Yard” published April 27, 2009 that still has relevance today.  Some things I’ve learned since that article:
New coating of old fashioned plaster
by Gary Hirsch, Cambridge IL

Remove anything that is easily breakable no matter how far away it may be from the work site.  There’s always a lot of material and movement in any outdoor project.

Unless it’s emergency repairs, schedule work to be performed in the fall.  This is the time when most valuable perennials are going into dormancy.  An example:  Stepping on a daylily in the fall is not a killer.  Stepping on a daylily in the spring or summer will definitely mean no flowers that year and may kill the plant. 

If you have a valuable plant in the vicinity of the project, talk to your contractor about possible solutions.  Can it be moved?  Should you box it in with wood?
Cement walks base by
Arnie Cordrey Construction

Kewanee IL

Accidents happen.  I’ve done enough home projects to know even when the person working cares something can go wrong.  A good contractor knows this and builds that into his cost plan, his insurance and his customer service.  A good customer works with the contractor to help make any damages simply get fixed and not a major hissy fit throwing incident.

Successful contractors are a breed all their own.   They have been smart and worked hard over many years to be successful.  They have an array of talents because they must know every aspect of the business.  It isn’t enough to know how to lay a brick if you aren’t good with money, managing employees, customer friendly or a million other business decisions.  Respect this. 

Most mature contractors have job related health issues.   You don’t do really excellent hard manual labor without it eventually wearing your body out.  It’s why you see old guys on the ground directing and young bucks hefting the supplies.
First paint - Alan Anderson Painting, Altona IL

How the house first looked once we cut down the weeds.

Contractors can be Divas.  Face it; most manual labor jobs have a large element of creative and artistic flare.  The job is their canvas.  They compose the project as if they are painting a picture.   They take pride in how well it will look once they’ve finished.  It’s an extension of who they are.  Divas love praise and are sensitive to criticism.  Although no contractor will warm up to being called a Diva, take my word for it:  Approach all your comments about the work with this in mind.

If possible, trim up growing things that will constantly frustrate your contractor.  How many times does that worker need to be hit in the face with that branch before he begins to dislike you and your yard? 

Keep your teenage girls away from the workers.  I know a tough task but keep the blinds closed in the bedroom/bath and no sunbathing.  A young stud hanging from a ladder does not need to be distracted. 

Find a perfect place for your contractors to park their trucks, stack their material and access the property. 
Arnie Cordrey installing a new basement wall.

Point out where they cannot drive heavy equipment.  This would include drainpipes, septic systems, cement edges and walks. 

Repeat back to the owner your understanding of all the understandings.  I have learned this the hard way that my understanding of his words may not be the meaning he was wishing to convey.

Yes, they will most probably have a radio and it will be loud and it will have a station you hate.  Close your window and ignore.  They are young and you are not – it makes their day go faster so leave them alone on this one.

There are some plants that may have to be moved.   If it isn’t after the middle of October, plant in an out of the way place, mulch, keep watered until the first freeze and move them back in the spring.  Contracting ahead of fall will allow you time to figure this out instead of last minute inappropriate growing time moves.

If you have children, keep them out of the way to prevent injury to them and annoyance to the workers.  That kid may be a cutie pie but cutie pie will wear thin if they are always in the way or get in the supplies.  And don’t ask the contractor to hire your unemployed child or grandchild – just don’t. 

As I’ve stated before, the contractor/owner’s reputation is their most important advertisement.  If you walk away with a job done right, your yard intact and would use them again, you have been blessed.  Thank them, compliment them and reward them by paying in full and on time.   Then tell anyone who will listen your good experience.  It’s part of the deal.