Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Memories of summer

Tonight while cutting the grass and smelling the summer smells - my nose - my brain and my eyes took me back to an earlier day, earlier times, summers of bliss and laziness. Summers of childhood. If only you could bottle that innocence and exuberance and remember to use it wisely, uncork the bottle of youth slowly and savor savor savor.

The sight and smells of newly mown grass brought me back to playing outside until dark, never wanting to come in and coming in exhausted, dirty and sweaty and not really wanting to take a bath or shower, but being forced to succumb to the water and the soap's magic. If you were lucky a snack before bed was a true treat and rare.

There was spotty air conditioning then, not the monster cold machines we have now, and my room had no air conditioner -  just a fan grabbing wisps of a cooler night just outside the window.

I would push my bed under the window (fretting about the unknown things outside in the dark lurking just outside the window's  halo of light).  Monsters? Bad guys? vampires? It would depend on what movies I had watched that week as to what flashbacks I might be entertaining on any given evening.

The wisps of air were often lacking and I tossed and turned looking for those elusive cool spots on the bed, hoping for a reprieve.  This was the era pre sunblock/sunscreen, so I often was sporting a new sunburn on my back, making back sleeping impossible.   Add the factors together, the heat and the sunburn and I am sure there were nights where I was awake more than asleep. Hoping for the tiny wisps of cool air.

This was the era of grin and bear it.   There was no whining "It's too hot."    "I need a drink of water." Those types of pleas in my home went unheard and unanswered. "Don't wake your father - I'll get you a drink" was more the norm --with my mother sneaking in the extra comfort. Dads were tough in those days not coddlers not enablers.

I shot some pictures tonight while enjoying the green grass and cool air of a temperate nite.

Little garden monster - saddleback caterpillar - his sting feels like a lit cigarette! Beware! He got me! 

Sunset - August, 2013 - looks like the Caribbean - but it is not!

Dream your dreams and fly your flights of fancy - you are never too old to dream! 


Sunday, July 14, 2013


I always like to try to take the time to enjoy each season for all that it brings to my senses.

Fall is my favorite season - the changes in temperature, storms and fast moving skies, quickens my senses and makes me feel more connected to the earth - more influenced by its fury and its strength.

Winter follows close behind fall as a favorite time. I do get tired of the end of winter - those tired late winter days of warmer temperatures, winter desperately trying to fling some snow our way only to find it melting in the atmosphere and raining down on us in the form of slushy, mushy snow/ice.

I like the days of deep winter most - those times when hibernation and the need to nest take on new meaning,  urgency and enjoyment. A cozy blanket, some chips and cheese  and a good movie.  My favorite seasons overall seem to be those seasons with the most change, the most volatility for storms and the need to be sheltered taking haven indoors. I am not of a tropical mind set.

I tolerate summer - threatening to run to Alaska should it continue in the 90's - wondering where in the world I could live where it is cool enough and moderate enough to spare me from this horrible humid heat. It smolders up from the ground in late day.  You can feel it oozing up from the grass at the end of a long, hot, humid day. There is a miniature sauna at my feet, alive with insects, more than I really want to know about or acknowledge live at my feet. I feel especially vulnerable as I tip toe through clover with buzzing bees and flip flops.  My feet are an easy target for a sting or two. I carefully avoid the bees, firstly because I respect them and secondly because the stings not only hurt me, but it kills the bees who are only doing their job of collecting pollen to feed their colonies.

So, I muddle through summer, dreaming of cooler days, waiting for fall...  and taking the time to remind myself to bring in the fresh flowers that abound right now.  The garden is chock full of blooms. Amid the buzzing bees I take  a few. Trying not to disturb their work.

Green fields of soy - there is a hint of a rainbow. 

Monday, July 8, 2013

The secret life of bees and not so secret life of Ripley - July 's bounty

Gardening comes easily for me - having an English father who was ahead of his time with his ability to grow just about anything - and had a huge  English cottage garden long before they came to be known by that name - taught me a tiny bit about gardening I suppose - not that I was interested but I learned by osmosis.

I have a large perennial garden which has been neglected with the heat of these past weeks I cannot get past the heat or the bees to get in it to ferociously weed it.

So it was this evening as I surveyed the damages and plotted to clean it up I spotted two bees asleep in the flowers. Who knew they sleep in flowers? Didn't common knowledge tell us they go back to the safety of the hive at night? Apparently they did not get the memo...

I think if they caught too far from the hive as evening approaches they hunker down and stay put.

A baby and a full grown bee were side by side waiting it out - little survivors I guess - outwitting mother nature.

In the background of course is Ripley  - whose battery for his electric fence has died (thank the stars one arrives in the mail tomorrow). I have been watching him like a hawk. He is intent on a reign of destruction and I am intent on having it NOT happen.

So another day closes and with it the garden goes to sleep - (I will dream about weeds growing in my sleep).

Pink cone flowers
perennial sunflowers

Paris the silkie hen - she cannot see a thing!

shasta daisies purple cone flowers


Brown eyed susan

evening glow in the barn 

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Twenty Steps - Living one minute at a time with autism.... Life unplugged

No one would really know just to look at me that I lead a double life... no not espionage or secret identities, but a life that's  minute to minute versus a life that stretches out for the long haul. I often cannot think past 30 minutes sometimes ten.  It is a visceral life I lead, sometimes raw with stress, pain and frustration, sometimes joy and elation.  

I have a very hard time with the word "normal." Who defines normal.. One day, when I was heavy into knitting I lamented my missed stitches and possibly poor choice of knitting pattern to an older veteran knitter.  She said to me "do you like it? I said "yes." She smiled in a twinkle in the eye sort of smile and said
"Well that's all that matters. There are no rules to creativity.  No judgment."

Wise words.....

So today, living with a soon to be 19 year old with severe autism, nonverbal,  cantankerous and at times strangely unexpectedly volatile I learn to lead with two faces. One that the world sees that presents calm and rationale and the other face that is screaming inside "What do I do now?"

I have learned for parents/people caring for individuals with disabilities from the very youngest to the seniors with medical and intellectual disabilities - there is no charge of the light brigade - as another parent put it - "I was waiting for help that never came."  How true...

There is help and there is hope but it lies within you not around you. YOU are the key to your own happiness or misery.  By accepting this life as a soldier in the army of disability, you are signing onto a lifetime career. Not necessarily the one you like or even choose, but the one that you need to fulfill.  Stress and uncertainty become best friends. Frustration and isolation are your bunkmates.

Sometimes when I up late into the early morning, (loving the peace of the night), I watch Cesar Milan (dog whisperer)he has a lot of wise words that often fit surprisingly well into my situation. He once told a family "You don't get the dog you want you get the dog you need."  Well perhaps I got the kid I need... I thought to myself. What has he taught me?  I had to admit he taught me a lot - much of it good.  Thanks Cesar! :)

When people ask "how do you do it?" I truly want to laugh and answer bluntly "Do I have a choice?"

Last night, while working in the barn in the wee hours of the morning, I heard a door knob turn, (which jolted me for sure) and there was andrew at  1 a.m.  trying to enter the barn. Why  he was out in the yard at 1 a.m. I have no idea, nor can I ask him, I can only pray he follows me back into the house and does not elope further. (Note to self we have to have another alarm on the back door to alert us to this possibility).

I was grateful I am a night owl. What if he had been roaming and I was asleep and did not know?  

Why does he do what he does? What did he want in the barn? I will never know. I just have to now take more precautions than I did already to keep him safe.   It never ends and it never will.  Life is messy.

But then life is messy and difficult for many. I don't feel that my life is any worse than anyone going through tough times, I simply think it is longer. Most difficulties and dramas have a shelf life or expiration date. Death, divorce, has a way of quickly equalizing the misery.

Autism and other disabilities have no expiration dates - they are like a marriage - till death do you part..

For me, working in the barn, breathing life into paper, and creating flowers keeps me grounded and frequently sane. I love my customers, and they inspire me to keep going. When I keep going then so does Andrew and the world rights itself  for awhile.

As the sun sets here I begin to wonder how I should plan this night's autistic adventures.. But locking the door to prevent escape is high on the list of must do's...

So tonight the barn and I will sink into the night together with Andrew hopefully tucked safely inside, 20 steps away.... I have counted these steps funny to say - I have counted them as I have raced across the lawn in snow and rain and now horrible heat. They are all that separate me - and save me -  from life unplugged.


A floral bouquet heading to Oklahoma!