Friday, June 26, 2009


I keep finding more pictures on my camera of things I've been growing here, there, and everywhere!

At Massey Gardens One, we have the routine, run of the mill daylilies.

They are growing at the house as well as growing wild everywhere I see as I drive around the countryside.

Then we have Massey Gardens Two, the property we are rehabbing and possibly moving to in the near future. The things over there are, for the most part, wild and untended. I see a lot work for this black-thumbed Grammy.

I'm not sure exactly what this is, but it was a pretty bloom the last time I was over.

I have tried to get Pampas Grass to grow over at Massey Gardens One with no success---actually I think Papa keeps mowing it down. But here at Massey Gardens Two it is growing wild and needs to be tamed a bit.

I'll put that on the list of things to do late fall!

Then back at the city house, I have these

I'm sensing a purple color scheme this year!! Everywhere I look, I have planted purple flowers!

Then lastly, Papa was visiting a friend and came home gushing about these upside down tomato plants his friend had planted. I looked around at some stores here and there and never noticed anything like that. One afternoon, we went out specifically looking for them and inquiring with salepeople. No luck.

Then I got on the internet and actually found the site and ordered us some hangers. Then I had to go out and procure some plants. I bought two Big Boys and two sweet cherry tomatoes for salads. Then we planted, filling each hanger with an entire bag of potting soil.

Then where to hang? These suckers were heavy. AH...the clothes line pole that never sees any other use!

So here are the "baby pictures"...Since we've planted about 3 weeks ago, they are growing by leaps and bounds. Amazing the amount they grow every day. I'll try to get an photo update on here in the next day or so. They have blooms and we are hoping by August 1, we might have our first fruit!!

Have you heard about my color change? The black-thumb seems to be lightening up and having some hints of green on it.

Planting Grammy

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Return of the Attack Lilies!

OK, I'm back continuing from last week. So three years ago, I bought these small colorful flowers for my front bed at the city house. Filled the whole thing up with colorful annuals, I thought but every time I receive a mum (for some reason, I receive these as gifts quite frequently), I also plant it in the same bed.

Then last year, these 'things' start growing out there. Who knew I had mistakenly planted a perennial, that wasn't a mum, something that would actually return for a second year, me of the black thumb.

But what were they. Daily, I watched these things in amazement grow and grow until about July, they started blooming. Lilies. And they were gorgeous.

So this year when the lily "trees" sprouted and started heading to the sky, I wasn't as surprised. Although they are more---have multiplied and are much bigger. Everyone that has seen them have commented they have never seen such big lilies. DD says they are a bit scary.

The P's were a little hesitant as well.

I can actually lay in bed with the window open (when it's not 100 degrees outside) and look eye to eye to lilies!

They are mine. I planted them. They grew. And now I want enlist in some sort of gardening club or plant show to show them off......well, maybe not. But I am so proud of my new babies, I have started helping them stay alive but watering them daily (it IS 100 degrees here EVERY DAY lately).

Green Thumb Granny!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


So I try, I really do. When it's not raining or if I'm not completely exhausted, I set my alarm for 5 a.m. and take Snoopy for a walk around the block. I rather enjoy these walks once I get out the door.

The problem is usually getting out the door. So many times after a middle of the night bathroom run, I reset the alarm for that extra 30 minutes of sleep. I have to reset before it goes off because if it should go off, I have no choice. Snoopy is right there with her cold, wet nose and wagging tail expecting at 5 a.m. to go on a walk and at 5:30 to go outside and get fed breakfast at the very least.

And I swear to God, the dog can tell time. Somehow she has figured out the big numbers on the alarm clock because if I should not set the alarm on the weekends for example (if I stay in the city), she is still there at 5:30 trying to be the responsible pet and make sure her person is up and taking care of things. You laugh, but I actually turn the clock away from her sight at the country house on the weekends so she won't know the time. This causes all sorts of confusion from her waking me at 3 a.m. demanding breakfast to me waking her up when I get up (those are the heavenly days)---we have more of the first kind, however.

Anyway, back to our's just getting light when I go out (summer starts on Sunday, so the days will begin to shorten on me soon), and it's quiet. There are a few lights on in the houses but for the most part, the neighborhood is still sound asleep and no cars are moving anywhere.

Occasionally, I'll see the neighborhood police car rounding the block with me. For some reason, this usually happens when Snoopy is happily using someone's yard as her toilet and I have to make a big show of removing my "responsible" plastic bag from my pocket. Our neighborhood newsletter harps every month about being a "responsible" dog walker and "clean up after your dogs."

We see alot of cats running around this time, going home from wherever their nightly travels have taken them and the occasional squirrel. No dogs barking though which is odd. When we walk in the evening, dogs bark constantly while walking the whole circle around the block. Guess our neighborhood dogs must be inside sleeping too.

My neighbor's light is usually on---the young boy that lives alone. His parents have seemed to have abandoned him for their own lives which is sad. He lives alone and has finished high school finally and is a pizza delivery driver now. His dad comes over every couple of days to check on him and I suppose get the mail but otherwise this kid is left to his own devices. For someone that young, we are very lucky, he doesn't seem to be a big partyer. He has friends over but they stay inside and are relatively quiet. I always wonder if he justs stays up all night and sleeps during the day or what, to explain his lights being on.

Halfway, around the block, there is a light on in a bedroom and every morning, a woman is sitting at a computer in her bedroom. Is she just surfing or actually working from home at this hour? Who knows.

Then I come to the house that puts a smile on my face every morning because it reminds me of Fantastic Son. He works very early hours so they can get off work before the high heat of afternoon occurs in the cactus state. He's also one for carpooling whenever he can work out his job site with where his current co-workers live.

Anyway, every morning, a young guy in a pick-up truck pulls into this driveway and sits there a minute. The lights are on at the house so the occupant(s) are/should be awake. The truck driver sits there about a minute and then he honks and sometimes honks a second time (I bet his neighbors love him!) before the guy in the house opens the door and waves or pulls aside the curtains and waves. Then a few minutes later he finally comes out of the house.

This is amusing to me because I am usually rounding the corner when this truck drives down the street and I witness all this as I'm walking up the street and pass the house and usually by the time I'm halfway down the street, I hear the truck backing out of the driveway and off they go to work. This scenario is the same EVERY day. I wonder why the guy at the house is never ready when his driver pulls in and for some reason FS comes to mind and I smile.

Everyone's just doing their best.

Until later....Grammy

Monday, June 15, 2009

Grammy's Botanical Garden

OK, so I write once a week now! It's summer, I have houses to rehab and clean, shopping to do, P's activities once a week, books to try to read, and the list goes on and on.

Things are getting pretty out early summer---I'm still weeding and stuff is starting to bloom. Between you and me though, I have the blackest thumb there is and can keep very little alive. Vines are about the only thing that I water that stays alive (possibly because they need little water!!) But I am having a run on other colorful botanicals this summer.

First a few years ago, I was salivating for a mimosa tree and a friend from work came back from a Michigan vacation and gave me stick (that's about what it looked like). Actually, backing up the year before, she came back with some seed pods which I planted with no success. So here she comes with this stick, actually two sticks that she said were the beginnings of mimosa trees--my favorite.

Well, we had been saving the ashes of our dear, departed collie (sitting in a box in the front closet since 2000) to bury under something special, so I took a mimosa "stick" and the box of ashes and went and planted it on the side of the house where it is to this day...just a stick sticking out of the ground.

The second stick I planted on the side of the driveway and lo and behold,

It has yet to bloom those beautiful, fuzzy pink flowers but it is sure growing by leaps and bounds. Guess the soil there was a bit richer than dead collie ashes.

So the next project that just landed in my lap was cactus growing. It all started with a margarita a year ago.

I thought, this glass would be perfect to grow a cactus in---Senorita Cha-Cha is her name. She has a partner Senor Bob but as I was getting on a plane shortly after lunch, I figured one of these was all I needed at that time. But Fantastic Son was tasked to come again for dinner and procure my Cha-Cha's buddy.

So Cha-Cha waited until Bob could join her which he did this spring when we again journeyed out to the cactus state. I also bought a package of giant saguero seeds to plant in the palm/cactus soil (another search for far and wide---you just can't plant cactus in our run of the mill Missouri potting soil). So I had a matching set of "planters", cactus seeds, special soil and after putting it all together, it started raining and raining and raining until the cups fillled up and overflowed with water along with my giant saguero seeds.

But alas, while shopping at Lowe's last week, I ran across these

Which is what I wanted to do in the first place but couldn't find cactus at the time. And you see they are living inside currently in the window where they get ample sun when it's not raining---

So when the midwest drought starts up one of these days, they'll be moved outside where I'm sure they'll flourish as long as I can keep them alive until then.

Ok, so that's not such a colorful blog...more to come...

Grammy's tired today.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Squeaker and The Others

Yesterday afternoon I had to drive back into the city from the country for a funeral visitation (see earlier blog). Afterwards, I stopped in at the city house to drop off some things I had bought during some Saturday morning shopping, changed clothes, and headed back to the country as I promised Papa he would have me there on Sunday for some rehabbing work at Massey Gardens Two (our property across the road from Massey Gardens One, where we live).

I took a longer way back to the country, what we call the "western" route because it involves a longer drive through the country versus the main route which is mostly highway driving. An evening drive in the country is the best remedy for the blues or any melancholy that sets in. Smelling the "green" growing, fresh mown grass or hay, even dead skunks on the road, seem to make it seem that all's right with the world (except, of course, for the fate of the skunks).

So I was coming back a little later than I thought and after a call home that included a dinner order, I had to make another detour before heading to the house. About a mile from the house we have two camps--United Church of Christ camps. The front camp has a large pool, and barracks style lodging and then a little farther down the road is the second camp which are primitive cabins.

As I was driving past the first camp, there in the road was this tiny dog outfitted with a red bandana around her neck and red bows on top of her ears. She was obviously very upset about her predicament in the road and as I had just met two cars driving up the road, she had probably been a near-miss road kill and was scared to death. I stopped and opened the car door to check to see if she had a collar and she immediately jumped in the car and settled in under my feet and wasn't moving. She didn't have a collar on and I wasn't sure what to do with her.

I called Papa and told him to meet me in the driveway sans Snoopy who is notoriously jealous of any and all other animal these days and drove the last mile home. As soon as I got home, we both got a good look at the dog and determined, yes, she did belong to someone. She was well groomed and accessorized as mentioned above. Papa said she had to belong to someone and I needed to take her back where I found her. I was torn about this. I couldn't just drop her back out on the road, it was late and dark and I would feel horrible if I saw later that she had been killed on the road.

That has happened before. I was driving into town one afternoon and saw this beagle running in the road, obviously dumped. On the way back home, I saw the same beagle dead in the road having been hit by a car. I just felt awful.

OK, I'm going to burst another bubble about country living. The saddest thing we have discovered since moving out here are the people who dump their animals in the country versus taking them to the humane society or some other alternative if they find they can't keep their pet for some reason.

You can always tell the dumped animals. They just have confused behavior. They run up to cars or sometimes chase your car hoping you'll stop or maybe they think you are their owner coming back to retrieve them. Other animals are just scared to death. They'll be out in the road and if you stop, they run back into the woods afraid of everything.

I can't tell you how many animals we've seen like this. There was a rental house up the road and the people moved out and left their dog. Day after day, as we came home, we would see this poor dog sitting on the front porch waiting for his people to return. Papa and I went home and got some lunchmeat one evening and tried to coax him to follow us home but he just wouldn't leave that house. Then one day he was just gone. I wondered what happened to him and Papa being the realist he is, said one of the farmers living nearby probably just shot him or something. I really don't want to hear things like that.

One morning I was driving home from somewhere and again by the camps were two puppies. They were going to be big dogs because they were big puppies. They were covered with mud as it had been raining and I couldn't let them in the car. I managed to get an address and phone number from their collars (the difference between dumped dogs and lost dogs---lost dogs will have collars and tags, dumped dogs just have a worn spot around their neck where a collar once was, their owners do not want to be contacted).

Anyway, I called the number and no answer and as the address on their collar was the next road I was coming to, I just drove slow with the window down urging these lost puppies to follow me. Eventually we made it to the address on their collars which happened to be the last house on the road and newly built. No one was home but the puppies behavior indicated to me they knew they were home. The garage was open and there was a large kennel in the garage and so I got both puppies in the kennel and locked the door. I called the number once again and left a message that I had kenneled the puppies in their garage and left my phone number for their owners in case they had a question and wanted to contact me.

Late that night, I got a call from the owners thanking me for retrieving their puppies. They indicated that they let them run loose and until that day, the puppies had never left the yard but now they knew they would so would watch them closer in the future. It was funny because about a year later, I saw these same two dogs, fully grown and very large indeed, frolicking along the side of the road in about the same place I had found them the previous year. This time, I just shook my head and kept on driving.

And one final story....This is how Snoopy came to live with us. She was also a dumped dog. Papa's father had passed away and we were emptying his house which was also in the country not too far from our country home. It was raining outside and we were hurrying up securing our last load and this little dog came running up into the yard and jumped up on my leg and wrapped her paws around my leg and just held on. She was so little and so cute but Papa said she probably belonged to one of the neighbors, so I fixed her bowl of water that I left on the back porch and we left for the day.

Well, the next day when we returned, there she was again still sitting on the back porch as if waiting for us. She hung around us all day as we worked and everytime we left with a load, she was sitting on the porch and when we returned to get another load, she was still there waiting for us. Some neighbors stopped by and we asked them if they knew who she belonged to and they said they had never seen her before and was probably just another dog that was dumped in the country.

As the day came to a close and we were just about done with the moving, Papa finally said if she's there when we are done, we can take her home with us but 1) He wanted to name her, and 2) She had to stay outside.

Well we brought her home and I went up to Walmart and got some supplies for her and a large kennel for her to stay in on the front porch. We were pretty good about her staying outside but we were responsible as well. We didn't let her run loose for her own safety, so when we were gone, she had to stay in her kennel or on her tree trolley in the yard.

At the time, we still had our other dog who was an inside housedog so after an afternoon of playing out together, we would let one dog in the house while Snoopy would stand at the door as if to ask, "why can't I come in as well." So we slowly started to erase those lines of division between the two dogs and treat them more and more the same, letting Snoopy inside too.

So I do have a soft spot for these dumped dogs because Snoopy has become so much an integral part of our family and she started out as just another dumped dog (she was approximately 3 months old per the vet when she was dumped).

Anyway back to Saturday night. Since I had picked up this dog around the camps, I figured maybe she belonged to someone staying there and decided to start there in my quest. I drove up to the main camp and went up to the house where the caretaker lives, knocked, and asked him if he knew anything about this dog (who was refusing to leave my car). She was, in fact, his dog, Squeaker, and according to him, had never went all the way up to the road before. He was very surprised at that behavior. He called and called her but she was refusing to leave the car (I think it may have had something to do with the bags of McDonalds I picked up in town for our dinner) but finally I picked her up and brought her back to the owner who thanked me profusely. So Squeaker was back home safe and sound albeit deprived of a cheeseburger.

The common denominator of the stories about the "lost" dogs is that noone thinks their dog will ever deviate from previous known behavior (i.e., leave the yard). But they do, they are curious and they explore and they get lost and they get theirselves in dangerous situations.

The stories abut the dumped dogs are a little harder to take but know that dumping your dog in the country thinking that maybe a kind farmer will take them in is pure fiction. Most farmers will just as soon shoot a stray dog than try to assimilate them in their lives. The strays are of unknown temperment and disease and if they have farm dogs, they don't want to risk any unknowns around their pets.

We are the exception in that we took in a cute puppy and made her a part of our family and are so lucky that she turned out to be a wonderful pet.

So that ends today's PSA......

Signing off for now......Grammy

Friday, June 5, 2009


Our country home is about 8 miles from the nearest town, off the main highway that runs east-west, and then off a secondary road that winds through the countryside for about 3 miles until our third turn-off which runs an additional 3 miles. This last road was paved for the first two miles and then the pavement runs out and the gravel was what you drove on the rest of the way. They have been working on our road, the gravel section, for several months now, widening it and installing new culverts.

Then two weeks ago I discovered when driving out to the country that it has been paved.

This is looking from our private road to where our trashcans sit at the end of our road. This junction is also where any school buses stop when we have school-age kids living on our road. Now I wonder if they'll feel like they are half-country, half-city kids? At least they won't be "eating dust" now while waiting in the morning.

Looking towards town.

Looking to the west.

It was a little strange, not hitting the gravel at a certain point. For 9 years, we hit gravel at that same spot and exhaled "we're in the country now."

It thoroughly confused Snoopy on our drive. She always gets a little more wiggly when she hears us hit the gravel---almost there!

I'm torn about this "improvement" on our country road. It's good in that it cuts down on the dust and in the winter, that road will get the snow plowed from it now. But that's my walking "route" as well. I've yet to take a walk down the new paved road.

Actually, I'm a little wary of walking on it now as the cars go flying down that road and without the gravel crunching under the tires, I won't be able to hear one coming my way.

Snoopy roams at will on our walks, off her leash, and when I would hear the tires crunching on the road from afar, I was able to yell to her to come to me and then keep her out of the road until the car passed. I surely won't hear a car coming now and the road is so windy, you don't get far vision of anything approaching, so it's gotten to be a dangerous endeavor.

So I'm not sure if we would even be safe walking on that road and definitely Snoopy will have to be leashed on it. To keep ourselves safe now, we walk repeatedly up and down our private road which is about 1/8th of a mile.

It's still gravel and we feel safe.

The scenery doesn't change much....going back and forth....but so far Snoopy hasn't noticed, she has plenty to check out along the road no matter how many times we walk it.

Still in the country.....Grammy

Sobering Events

Well, as I've said before when I get OBE (overcome by events) my writing EVERYWHERE is what suffers the most. You know, sometimes you get too tired to even string a couple of words together and I haven't figured out how to spell grunts yet.

Had a rough week or so. A friend from work was killed in a car accident last week and I went to the funeral visitation earlier in the week. I usually do OK at funeral homes now versus my behavior a few years ago (better left untold). But right off the bat, as soon as I walked in the door. What did I see? Her dog, who had a bed next to the casket with a stuffed bunny on it and a pair of my deceased friend's shoes. Oh my lord. Now seeing as I cry at "touching" commercials these days, seeing that led to extreme weepiness all the way to the widower who was chatty and dry-eyed. How terrible if I had to explain, the tears weren't for the losing of his wife/my friend, but for the sad dog laying on the dog bed. (Not that I was unaffected by the loss of my friend and co-worker.)

Papa has commented that he doesn't understand how I can watch grisly true crime stuff on tv but if I'm watching a movie where an animal is molested in some way (let alone killed), I fall apart and usually end up leaving the room (a movie where in reality the animal is just another actor and is just fine). Yeah, I don't understand it either.

Then this week I learned that some good friends from high school lost their youngest son in a horrendous way. That threw me for another loop, so I've spent countless hours dwelling on life in general and am thankful that Fantastic Son especially (but all the other offspring of Papa and I as well) made it to adulthood and seem to be happy and living life. My heart goes out to the parents of Alex.

Otherwise the last weeks or so have been rather mundane in other areas.

Until later....Grammy