Daily Affirmation

The best things in life are free.
The second best are very expensive.
- Coco Chanel

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

I Am Hopeful

Jen, over at Denton Sanatorium, issued a writing assignment: choose one word that best describes you.  Like everyone else, I had a hard time coming up with a word for myself.  And then it came to me.  In the shower, as so many other things do.  I tossed it around all day, mulled it over, reviewed the pros and cons and realities, and made my decision.  My word is: 


Hopeful, as in hoping for the best.  Hoping for a good outcome.  Being optimistic.  Hoping for the best in myself and in others.  
There are other words I could use to describe myself: creative, bossy, opinionated, friendly, loyal.  But each one of these is just an extension of the hope I have that everything will have a good outcome.  Sometimes I'm lazy and I procrastinate.  I tend to work very hard at the last minute, hoping for that good outcome.  But the older I get, I find that I've learned a valuable thing or two about being prepared.  That, combined with hard work, makes me even more hopeful for that happy end result.
I love to be creative.  Sometimes I don't know exactly how a project will turn out.  As I turn it over in my mind, I'm always hopeful for that spark of genius creativity.  I never imagine that I won't get it.  I never think that a mistake, or wrong brush stroke, or even a wrong turn in life can't be fixed.  Creativity is mine - I never imagine that it isn't.
I love my family.  As in all families, things don't always go the way I'd like them to.  Children don't always do things that are good for them.  I didn't always do things that were in my best interest.  But on my worst day, I never lost hope that my life could take a turn for the better if I tried hard enough.  If I was determined enough.  And so I never lose hope on their behalf either.  
Now, I know that people will disappoint me from time to time.  I'm sure I'm disappointing to someone every so often.  The point is to be realistic, but to always expect the best, hope for the best.  And most of the time I get it, or at least a reasonable facsimile.  People just love to rise to the occasion, and to your best expectations.  It would be disheartening to go through life just waiting for the next person to fail me.  Waiting for that next thing to go wrong.  I prefer to expect good people doing good things.  When I'm disappointed, well then... I'm disappointed.  But someone else's failure isn't mine.  I'm not Pollyanna-ish.  I'm not incredulous or shattered when things go south.  I just prefer to keep the faith - the HOPE, if you will - alive and well.  
Hope gives me the knowledge that I've got a hand in my own destiny, rather than feeling helpless while fate metes out a bitter hand.   It takes the fear out of failure, and makes me want to try again.  Hope keeps me making my lists, it makes me try, try again to overcome my bad habits.  It helps me to eat healthy, even though the day before I ate brownies, and cookies, and pecan sticky buns.  It makes me believe, truly believe, that I can beat my rheumatoid arthritis if I learn enough about how my body works.  (So far, so good...)  It makes me believe that if I write something on this blog, people will read it.  And hopefully enjoy it.  Hope is what supplies me with the confidence to tilt at the windmills one more day, and to dream my impossible dreams.  I couldn't imagine being myself without HOPE.

PS: Katie and the crew boarded a plane this morning and got out of Dodge.  They should be arriving in Phoenix right about now.
I got my butter dish on E-Bay!  It was right down to the wire - an all out bidding war! (Who would think people would be fighting for a Franciscan Ware butter dish?!?)  I remained hopeful - and wily - and in the last 30 seconds I blew them all away with my final bid, and it was still less than I'd have paid for it elsewhere!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Puerto Rico: An Adventure to the End

My daughter Katie, husband Zach, and the two princesses Mia and Hayden were supposed to kiss Puerto Rico goodbye this afternoon and have arrived in Phoenix by now.  Puerto Rico and (hurricane) Earl had other plans.  When I called Katie this morning, she and Zach were finishing up cleaning the condo.  In the dark.  With no electicity.  Or good water.  Earl was starting to shriek.  They'd sold all of their possessions, except what they had packed into several bins to bring home.  The car, furniture, and food were gone.  Did I mention they were supposed to board a plane?

No plane.  All flights cancelled.  Roads were flooded and jammed.  It was dangerous to even be out and about driving.  While they waited, wondering what to do, some good friends came and got them, and took them in for the night.  Mia was excited to have a slumber party with her friends.  Katie and Zach are exhausted, and I doubt anyone is sleeping tonight, with the wind howling, and everyone wondering if they'll be able to fly out tomorrow. (And even if they do, their flight is to Houston, arriving at 8pm.  Their flight to Phoenix doesn't connect until 8am the next morning...  Katie was trying to improve that scenario last time we spoke tonight.)
It's a frustrating feeling not being able to help.  The most I can do is get them a hotel room in Houston if they need it.  I can't get her through this little slice of Crazy Town.  The thing I'm most grateful for tonight is the cluster of really good friends that have surrounded them, and continue to support them, in Puerto Rico.  These girls, and their families, have together made life in Puerto Rico a joy - even though they're all so far away from home.  They've enjoyed and celebrated the beauty of Puerto Rico, and have laughed and cried together about the things that make it nuts.  I couldn't have asked for a more wonderful group of people for my daughter to sign up with.  It's been an interesting, wonderful, aggravating, absolutely incredible three years in a foreign country that's also part of the good old USA.
I think Puerto Rico is just giving Katie a big sloppy wet kiss goodbye.  In the form of Earl.  Enjoy the moisture while you can.  Safe travels, Hatch family.  Puerto Rico will soon be just a blue ocean white sand memory.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Summer's End

Although weatherwise it hasn't been a typical summer, or even a typical August, today was just about as perfect as it gets.  Mid 70's, light breeze blowing, and sunny.  Absolutely gorgeous.  I wish I'd planned something to do as perfect as the weather.  Unfortunately, it was a day of getting an oil change for the Miata, a car wash for the Exploder, and {hallelujah hear the angel choir} getting my hair colored.  My regular stylist was still sick, but another lady kindly fit me in.  It was getting to be a desperate situation.  If you have (otherwise) dark hair, when gray roots grow in, and the light hits the gray/silver just right (and it always seems to hit it just right) you look like you have a bald streak.  Has anyone else ever experienced that phenomenon?  Seriously, when I first noticed it, I had to check it hard - I thought my hair was thinning.  So after a day of running around doing boring errands and self maintenance, L invited me out to dinner.  By that time, neither one of us was in the mood for fancy, so we headed to Costa Mesa and our favorite standby restaurant, Mi Casa.  Good, reliable Mexican food, a casual friendly, yes, even neighborhood-y atmosphere, and some of the oldest waitresses I've ever seen.  One of them calls us "honey" when we get her table.  We've been going there for years (ever since I've known L) and by now they all know to bring us both a Diet Coke first thing.  L and his love for Mi Casa is even a little joke with my kids - he can go on and on about how great their food is.  I like it because it's such a friendly little place, and because their bartender looks like Frank Zappa.  (We eat in the bar sometimes when it's crowded.)
When we came outside after dinner, this is what the sky looked like:

Now that's what makes me want to keep living here, even though this state is nuts, and there's too many people, and most of them are crazy.  It's these beachy evenings that make me fall in love with California, and particularly the OC,  all over again.  It's going to be my birthday soon, and I've decided what I want to do.  No fancy dinner out. I want to go to the beach, get a bonfire going, and roast hotdogs and make smores.  I'm hoping that Scott and Ashley will join us.  Then, when my hair is all wild and salty, and my clothes smell of bonfire smoke, and the marshmallows and chocolate are gone, I can go home and say goodbye to summer for another year.

* A very happy birthday to Marion today!  We both agree that our birthdays are getting much too close to the big Six-O.  It's weird to be this old, but what're ya gonna do?  We may be older, but we're wiser, we're funnier, and dang it, we've still got it going on.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Butter Dish Goes Boom

I was helping clean up the kitchen after dinner.  I have a butter dish that's part of a set of Franciscan Ware.  The Apple pattern.  They were our everyday dishes growing up.  My mom never liked them, so she gave them to me when I got married.  A little piece of sentimental home.  L had used the butter while making his delicious grilled vegetable medley for dinner.  (Yes, he cooks most nights.  It's an amazing luxury to not have to think about what's for dinner when I get home from work.  I cook on special occasions and holidays.) 
ANYWAY - I picked up the butter dish to put it away, and somehow it slipped and whacked into the cabinet, top and bottom separated, and they both crashed onto the granite countertop.  The bottom piece fell butter first, so it was saved by the big, soft blob of butter.  The top wasn't so lucky, and it got a large piece, and small chips broken out of it.
That butter dish is one of my favorite pieces.  It has the little apple handle on top, and the apple branches all around the plate part.  It's so cleverly designed and detailed.  I've seen the newer versions of this pattern that are still being made, and they're not as nice as these older pieces, so I was sick when I realized what had happened.  (It's even too chipped to glue back together)

AUGH!!  I'm so clumsy sometimes...  I googled the pattern, and found it on a couple of websites new, but, like I said, the pattern was a little funky on the new pieces.  So I decided to try EBay.  And I found it!!  The watermark on the bottom is even the same.  (Franciscan Ware with "Made in California" in the middle)  The seller only wanted $9.50 for it (new they were $59.99!!) and so I bid $15.00.  I've never tried this before.  Do you think I bid enough?  There are 6 more days until the bidding closes.  Do any of you have any experience with EBay?
Now I'm a nervous wreck.  I'll have to obsessively check the bids every few hours to see if I'm being outbid.  I don't know how people do this on a regular basis.  I'll be crushed if I don't get my little butter dish.  It's exciting and nerve wracking all at the same time.  (Clearly, I need to get out more...)
In other news, L and I went to see The Switch with Jennifer Anniston and Jason Bateman.  The premise is a little weird, and Jennifer Anniston is kind of an annoying mother, but the whole movie is worthwhile just to see Jason Bateman.  I kind of loved him a little bit - don't tell L.  And the end, while predictable, was totally satisfying.  I love happy endings, don't you?  Especially when they involve Jason Bateman.  
I'm thinking of having a giveaway for my birthday in September.  (It's September 7th - in case you wanted to - you know - send me birthday kisses and greetings.)  The daughter of a good friend of mine makes jewelry, and she's offered a nice little piece for my giveaway.  More about it later, so stay tuned.  And wish me luck with the mysterious EBay process. 

Friday, August 20, 2010

A Friday Afternoon Observation

Found on my i-Phone calendar of appointments for yesterday:

12:00pm - Put beer/wine in to chill.

That's a first.  I don't think I've ever had to remind myself to do that before.  To explain: it seems that in order to encourage sales reps to attend a meeting, even if it's mandatory, we still have to entice them with their favorite "refreshments."

I wish that every time I have to attend something unpleasant, but mandatory, I would find the room stocked with See's.  Or ice cream.  Life is very unfair sometimes.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Barking Dawgs, Cool Showers, Restful Nights

Just got back from a hike with the mister through the hilly streets of the 'hood.  It's 82 degrees out there, my friends.  At 9:30.  In the night.  I realize I'm preaching to the choir - I mean, it's summertime everywhere, but I ditched my tai chi class tonight because I couldn't fathom being cooped up in a hot little studio sweating buckets while wobbling on one leg.  So instead I'm dripping wet from tramping around outside.  UGH.  Gotta be done though, to keep my sweet body in shape.  *killing myself laughing*  Yuck.  I'm dripping from every pore.  (Will you still be friends with me?)  I am dewy and glowing to the max.
It's been a tough few days, folks.  Ever have one of those weeks where you have mild to severe worries about a few people, places, and things, and you just don't sleep well?  *raising my hand* That's me this week.  I fall asleep.  I do.  But I dream all night long.  And they're kooky, restless dreams, and when I wake up my thoughts switch back to the real life bogeymen.  The circles under my eyes were hard to cover up this morning.  
The weather changed to kind of mildly humid and a change in air pressure always gives me a headache.  When I hit work this morning, I made my special cocktail: Coke Zero, 2 Excedrin, and 1 Advil.  You know I don't feel good when you hear that Coke can popping open first thing.  It usually does the trick, however, and soon the world was back in focus.  The worries are still there - but we worry because we love.  I don't have a lot of control over this bunch of troubles - the choices and actions are for others.  But the wish to be helpful, to somehow be a strength is always there.  To make a difference in a good way.  To bring some peace.  I've found, in my case, at least, that there's a fine line between wanting to be helpful, and becoming bossy, so I'm trying to err on the side of restraint.  In my zeal to help, I fall in love with giving advice.  Helpful tips, I love you.  It drives my kids nuts.  It makes my friends and relatives want to jump off a cliff, I'm sure.  So I'm trying to content myself with comments like "Hmmmmmm..." and "Ahhh..." or really, nothing at all, except a compassionate face perhaps.

Speaking of cute (which we weren't) how do you like this new little picture of granddaughter Lexi?  Here is the original image:

Aaaand here's what I did with it:

This was at Scott and Ashley's wedding.  She was resting from her labors as a flower girl and I guess her mom snapped her.  I love the look on her face, and the dreamy softness of her dress floating behind her.

Yikes - look at the time.  You've kept me up past my bedtime on a school night.  My dawg's 'are barkin' from the hike, and it's time for a nice cool shower, a Dreyer's Fruit Pop, and (hopefully) a peaceful sleep.  I was a good girl today. I deserve it.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Birthday 99...And Counting...

April 14th was Grandma's birthday.  Her 99th.  Our family all got together on Sunday afternoon to celebrate.  My aunt Margie looked exhausted.  (Poor thing - she does all the heavy lifting and getting up in the night with Grandma.)  Mom and Dad brought Olive Garden takeout for everyone and a cake.  The rest of us just showed up ready for a party, and happy to see everyone.
Those who came (besides L and me and those already mentioned): my niece Sarah and husband John (minus new baby Cash who was home with the other grandma), my nephew Arron (sporting some magnificent mutton chops - so 1970!  Made me nostalgic for a school dance...), my brother Brent and wife Becky, sister in law Jill (minus my brother who was away on business) and my niece Margot (ready to head to BYU any day now), Jill's mother Shirley, and my youngest son Scott and my newest gained daughter Ashley.
Grandma sat at the head of the table and held court.  I've never seen anyone who gets energized by people the way she does.  My mom and aunt look wilted after family gatherings.  Grandma could head to a couple more parties, I think.  She positively glowed.  Every so often she would see me at the other end of the table, and she'd raise her hand and wave happily at me.  When I grow up to be an old woman, I want to be just like her.  Happy, interested in everything around me, lover of life.  I'm sure she hurts and has aches like the rest of us, but she never complains or dwells on the unpleasant.  She looks forward to her next meal like a teenage boy.  She loves a funny story, and has a hearty laugh.  And she's full of surprises.  I'll never forget the time she held Scott as a baby and called him "Little Shitzy" when he had a full diaper.  (What the...?!?  Grandma... )
It's hard for her to be in a wheelchair, and not be able to cook for herself.  She misses her house and her fruit trees.  She misses her sisters and brothers and my grandpa.  And probably all of her friends.  But she still enjoys a good spare rib, and the latest funny story about a great great grandchild.  Her hands are all knarled, but I could hold them forever.
Happy Birthday, Grandma!  Let's go for one more and make it at least an even 100, ok?  Hopefully we've still got some adventures to share yet.  I love you!

Grandma having fun directing her own party

Grandma and me sharing a laugh

Grandma opening her gifts

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Summer On A Plate

Today was Mental Health Day for me.  After a very late work meeting on Thursday (during which I wondered repeatedly why I was even there) I finally got home around 10:00 feeling very glad that I'd taken the next day off.
I woke up when I felt like it, I read a little bit, had a nice, relaxed conversation on the phone with Katie, went through the blog list, worked a bit on the current Christmas sleigh I'm making, and then jumped in the shower.  After becoming presentable for company I took the Miata out for it's smog check.  I thought it would be a long wait, so I was happy that I had a new book on the i-phone Kindle to read.  I had barely started (it seemed like) when my car was done.  On the way out of the parking lot I tried to call my aunt and grandma.  No answer.  The girls were out catting around somewhere.
Went to Henry's Market and bought some pure deliciousness.  I was having a major sugar jones, and sometimes, if I bake something sweet, the tasting while I bake kind of satisfies the craving.  In the morning, while going through blogs, I spent some time on The Pioneer Woman blog, looking at recipes.  In particular, the Raspberry Cobbler and the Berries and Cream desserts.
Save me.  (How did I go this long without reading the Pioneer Woman blog?!?)
I'd jotted down the ingredients, but when I got to Henry's there were no raspberries. None.  Not a one.  Time to get creative, so I decided to make a peach and blackberry cobbler instead.  Beautiful white peaches (the halves come apart so easily, and they're so sweet and delicious!), and slightly tart blackberries - what could be more gorgeous mixed together?  I started throwing flour and oats and brown sugar together, cut in the butter, and then peeled and sliced the peaches.  Gently stirred in the blackberries.  Dropped on the lovely oat and brown sugar crumbly goodness.  Baked it and oh my - it is summer on a plate.

Then, just for fun, I bought extra blackberries, and made Ree's recipe for Berries and Cream.  Basically it's a little bowl of berries, that you pour this vanilla custard tasting nectar over.  So each bite of berry is accompanied by a spoonful of vanilla yum.  Now, we didn't sample this tonight.  There's only so much my mouth can handle in one night.  But the tasting of it was heavenly.
So now I've satisfied my little craving, but now I've got enough dessert to feed an army.  We'll have to invite someone over tomorrow night to do some clean up or L and I will be in trouble, and up to our ears in sweetness.  It's a good thing I don't take vacation days a lot.  This dessert making frenzy could become a bad habit.  Although if I gave it all away, I could make a lot of friends.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Sue's Having Another GIVEAWAY!!!

Sue, at Sue's News, Views 'n Muse, located here, is having a great giveaway in honor of her 600th post!  I would like to keep the pool of entries small to give myself a better chance to win, but that would be wrong.  You're going to enjoy her blog so much, and the prize is so nice,(your choice of one of two cute necklaces!) that I just can't keep it to myself.  Hop on over and check it out.  Then come back and thank me for being a good friend.

Friday, August 6, 2010

The Conspiracy Theory

I had a doctor's appointment this morning.  Just routine, but to back up, this doctor is sort of specialized.  Her thing is healing you from the inside, which doesn't sound unusual, I agree,  but she's not a proponent of using prescription drugs to do it.  She has you do copious lab work, and she measures every last homocysteine and glucose particle.  It is her passion, and the thing that she is most passionate about is banishing the metal particulates from your system.  When I first started she scared me with her talk of metals in the air, in our food, in EVERYTHING, and how harmful they were.  I paid $100 to do a test that gathered and measured the metals in my system.  (Turns out my metal levels aren't all that high)  She wants you to give yourself suppositories that gather and eliminate the metals in your system (that didn't last long with me - maybe 2 or 3 times was all I could take).  My point being, when I started with her, I was that sick.  I had recently been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and I felt like crap.  Something was swollen and painful every other day.  I was taking 15-20mg of prednisone, and was round and chubby faced from them.  Someone I work with recommended Pasty Doctor (I call her that because she's so pale and appears far from the picture of health herself: overweight, pale, bad skin.  I doubt she gets out of her office much, other than to lecture here and there.)
Within 4 months of starting on her regimen of enzymes, minerals,  Juice Plus, Vitamins D and B, and probiotics I was a changed person.  It's taken a few years, but I'm healthier, I never have RA flareups anymore (knock on wood), and my holy of holies lab work is markedly improved, and decidedly on the healthy side.  She worked on healing  my body so it would fight back on it's own.  Now, she can start explaining to me about my SED levels and glucose and homocysteines and hormones, and I'll understand in that moment, but I can never revisit the topic with anyone else.  My understanding is tenuous at best, but I do understand that I feel a lot better.  After a lot of money.  But hey - it's your health, right?  And I've got grandchildren to keep up with.
Pasty Doctor is eccentric.  She's a nut on metals, as I said.  She's also an enemy of carbs.  And in my case, an enemy of fruit, fructose, corn syrup, sugar, wholgrains, and all things carbalicious and/or delicious.  There are, in all, 16 things that I am to avoid in my diet, from the common offenders dairy products and cane sugar, to cranberries and celery.  Its not that difficult, but it is annoying, because I love cheese and bread and sugar.  But I try to avoid them.  Except for the cheese.  I've switched to soy milk, the bread (when I eat it) is sourdough (to avoid the yeast!), and I really do try to limit sugar, whether it's in cane form or fruit form.  The daily wrestle with myself is worth it because I am better.  So. Much. Better.
She has other eccentricities, however.  She is fond of quoting Bible verse during appointments.  But ok - nice that she's religious, I guess.  One of my friends that sees her said during her last appointment Pasty Doctor went off on how the world was going to end at Easter (this would have been this past Easter).  And also something about aliens.  We were laughing too hard at that point and I can't remember.  It's kind of like, if she didn't say it to me, then it's not that weird, but... it is weird.  And troublesome that she says it to patients.
But at today's appointment, she and I passed into the Twilight Zone together.  It started off OK.  She asked how I liked the crazy weather we'd been having (79 degrees in July, and cloudy/foggy every morning).  I said it was OK with me.  Then, my friends, she looked me straight in the eye and said "The government is controlling the weather now, you know."  *Blank stare* {Swallowing} 
"Hmmmmm...." I said.
"Oh yes," she said, "you know all of those streaks you see in the sky that look like clouds?"
{Me wide eyed and sort of nodding poilitely}
"Well, that is the government putting metals in our air and that changes the weather patterns."
"Hmmmm..." I said.
That little exchange ended and we got on to the subject of the results of my latest labs, which were so stellar I forgot to look at her funny for a few minutes.  Then she told me I'd done so well that I would receive a gold star on my chart.  I kid you not.  She got out the gold star and affixed it to my chart so that I could proudly show it off to the front office girls.
I'm not quite sure what to do now.  I kept looking around for someone I could take aside and whisper my concerns to, but it didn't happen.  Plus, when I took my gold starred chart up to the front, to my (hopefully) front office girl allies, one of the girls started to do a little dance in my honor.  Clearly, odd behavior is the norm here.  I'm not sure these people would recognize paranoia if they saw it.  But paraniod or not, the fact remains that Pasty Doctor has helped me in a big way.  I'm laughing, yes (because I don't know what else to do right now) but I am also feeling compasssion (see how I tie that in?  Good stuff) for her.  She has a great mind, and she loves her patients. I don't know if she is just a conspiracy nut or if she is truly losing it.  So seriously, what would you do?
Other than those oddball (yet seemingly harmless) comments, she appears to function well.  She doesn't believe in indefinitely using prescription drugs (she cures the disease by healing what is not well within the body, rather than masking symptoms) so no fear that she will kill someone with a weird dosage of something.  My next appointment isn't until March, so I have until then to think things over.  She's done me so much good that I'm afraid to quit going to her, although she's bizarre, to say the least.  But she did give me a gold star.  And they did the dance in my honor.  I was going to knuckle bump, but thought I'd leave well enough alone.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Practicing A Loving Facial Expression (can make you look creepy)

I've been researching the subject of compassion this week.  I've read, and read, and read.  I've printed reams of material.  One article I came across listed several things one could do to increase your ability to practice compassion, and I was on board with most of them.  Great ideas, all.  Until I came to this one, and I don't even think I could say it with a straight face, let alone actually DO it:
"Work toward developing a loving facial expression.  Try to look at others in such a way that they know they are loved, even if they have no idea who you are."
*Blink. Blink.*  {Dewy soft doe eyes and crazy half smile}  NO - I'm sorry.  That's just scary, especially when practiced on someone who has no idea who you are.  {shudder}  I'd come off like a stalker.

I've caught myself half a dozen times this week being sarcastic and snarky.  I was kind of funny, but not really nice.  It's a tricky thing being non-judgmental and accepting.  It's odd how we all hate being judged, we all like to feel included, and we all love a good listener.  And yet - we're so quick to judgement, we tend to avoid new/different people and situations that put us out of our comfort zone, and we just can't WAIT to force our opinions and good advice on whoever will listen, instead of shutting the heck up and opening our own ears.  The few times I've managed to do those things, I've given myself (and whoever I'm dealing with) a great gift.  I've embraced new ideas, I've made new friends, I've found joy in offering another an empathetic, listening ear.  In short, I've grown.  You'd think it would become an easier habit, wouldn't you?
I KNEW I'd have some serious thinking to do this week.  And some uncomfortable inward glances.  Dang it! 

Sunday, August 1, 2010

What I Did Over The Weekend...Or - I Shouldn't Have Picked Up That Phone

What a busy weekend! - We actually had an agenda and things to accomplish.  Friday night, of course, L and I were on a collision course with Sue (read previous post), my blogging friend.  So. Much. Fun.  But you can read about it below, if  you haven't already.  The weekend was officially starting on a happy note.
On Saturday morning, L woke up before I did and went out to forage for his donut holes and Diet Coke. *I KNOW*  
We'd planned to spruce up our front porch area.  Some plants were overgrown and leggy, some were almost dead, and everything needed some food and a haircut.  To fill in where things had died back we first jumped into some clothes and headed to Home Depot's garden department.  A few plants and a bag of Miracle Grow soil later, we were back and ready to start.  
First up? Ryan's plant.  This is a pot of mixed plants that was given as a gift to L when his brother Ryan passed away a few years ago.  It started in a big basket, and we transplanted it to a large pot.  It thrives.  It loves life on our porch.  And it's given L some solace when he misses his brother to go out and tend to this container of beautiful, lush, shade plants.  Today it needed a big trim.  And now look how happy it looks:
Next up?  The Ralph Lauren tree.  This is a potted ficus tree of some sort that I first met in a showroom at Ralph Lauren in the home department when I worked there in 2000.  It was hanging over a bed that had a beautiful dupioni silk duvet cover.  And it was dripping sap from the leaves on that duvet cover.  Not good.  When I told the visual staff what was going on, they decided to get rid of the tree and put something else in it's place.  What were they going to do with the tree?  Why, throw it away!  I asked if I could have it, and they said I could.  So Katie (who also worked there) and I hauled it home in the back of her pickup truck.  It scratched her truck up a bit, too, if I remember. *sorry Katie*  But for the last 10 years we've had this beautiful tree on our porch which has really helped to fill the space.  It, too, seems to love our porch, and no matter how chill the winter, or how hard the wind blows, it just survives, season after season.  Rx for this tree: major haircut.  The leaves and branches had gotten way overgrown, and it was hanging all over the surrounding plants.  After a snip snip here there and everywhere, it now looks like this:

The window box was next.  What had been previously planted there was dead and/or dying, so we completely ripped it out and planted white geraniums and some kind of purple flowered thing.  Whatever we plant there is important because it's what we look at through the window as we come down the stairs each morning.  It makes the morning cheery if its thriving and healthy.

The next few items were mainly cleanup, or filling in where things had gotten thin.  Our fountain has never had enough of the right plants or greenery around it.  For some reason it's been hard to get it right.  That day, we found the perfect plant to put in front of it that provides just the right amount of color, loves the dampness, and will fill the space.  I can't for the life of me remember what it's called, but it's perfect.

The next thing to get a trim was my beloved hydrangea.  My visiting teacher gave it to me about a year ago and it just keeps blooming.  I love this plant - it's such a beautiful spot of color on the porch, right in front of my favorite little table that holds the stephanotis plant.  When it blooms it fills the porch with the sweetest scent!  Last, but not least, is a new addition - a tuburous begonia.  I love these flowers - gorgeous color and big fluffy blooms all summer long.  Now our porch is all cleaned up and inviting, and will be that way through October.  It was a nice Saturday afternoon, with the smell of green plants, flowers and potting soil permeating the air.

After we cleaned up the dirt and clippings, and gave everyone a drink and a misting, we headed indoors where L proceeded to do his favorite thing: vacuuming.

I was starting to gather up some wash when the phone rang.  I almost didn't answer it, but I heard the voice of the first counselor in our bishopric on the answer machine.  We'd been playing phone tag, and I thought I'd better pick up.  I actually thought he was going to tell me it was time to come back to play piano in Primary.  (A BYU student had been doing it for the summer)  No such luck.  He wanted me to speak NEXT Sunday.  On The Compassion of Christ.  
Looks like I'll have a busy week ahead trying to figure out what to say, and since I normally fall a little short in the compassion and service department, I imagine I'll have a lesson or two to learn in the coming days.  Learning experiences - sweet.  And then Saturday night - late -  I'll be frantically scribbling my ideas down.  It's how I roll.

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