Simply Balisha

Simply Balisha

Saturday, May 31, 2014


This looks like a perfect Alpine Spruce, right?
 Well, here's the other side. Not so perfect..
Several of our trees looked like this. We have been told that we need to be patient...they will come back. Hard for some, when they want their yards to look perfect, but things in nature are often not perfect. The winter played a cruel trick on us and burned so many shrubs in our town. When we take a drive, we see hundreds of trees affected by the harsh winter. We took the advice to be patient and slowly but surely they are coming back. All of them have bright green new growth. It's interesting to me to see what variety of shrubs were affected. I think that the Alpine Spruce family was hit the hardest. Our Bird Nest Spruce trees...right next to these were not affected. The trees affected were all planted with the same exposure. I'll have to remember to show this tree at the end of the see if it has improved.

We finished the entry to the drive yesterday with a couple of flat, irregularly shaped stepping stones on each side. It was Joe's idea and I think it worked out well. The geraniums in the new pots are needing a drink quite often. It was really hot when they were planted, so they need a deep watering. I'll take some pictures later this weekend and show them the first of next week.

The Lamium is spreading and blooming now. I love the soft lavender blue flowers. When it's finished blooming it still looks pretty with the variegated leaves of green and silver.
I had better make this short and head into town. We shopped yesterday at the big store, but both of us thought the other had bought guessed milk. We have donuts though :)

Friday, May 30, 2014

Collin's Birthday

Today is my grandson Collin's birthday. He's been a joy for our family since the day he was born. As you can see in the picture below...he's always been curious about the natural world. We used to go on nature walks when he was first starting to walk. We would go up and down our alley and in the park looking down at the ground for something interesting. His little pockets had stones, bugs, leaves etc when we came back. I have pictures of he and his brother, Tyler, hiding in my tomato teepees when they were such little boys. 

His birthdays have always been special. We got him gifts from bug  collectors to fishing poles. I remember one year we asked what kind of cake he wanted. He said, "Chairwy Cake." His Grandma Bobbi was always the cake baker and she made him the most delicious chairwy cake that year.

One year he was making a garden and asked if we would like to see it. It was a tiny patch, next to the garage, filled with everything you could think of. I think that he later learned to not plant so much in one spot. We were there when he was "harvesting" his crops. Such tiny carrots. So cute...
Well, it's been fun seeing him grow into the kind young man that he has become. We'll be interested to see what happens to him as he finishes high school this next year. I'm sure that anything he does....he will be successful.
Happy Birthday Collin....

We love you lots,
Grandma Pat and Grandpa Joe.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

What's Been Going On Here?

I finally got some things planted. The stack n grow is different this year. That's the beauty of little spots in your garden and can have a different look every year.  I leave a little room in amongst the perennials for an annual or two. I need to take some pictures again today...because things are changing overnight...Some things only bloom for a short time, and pictures make them last longer.
If you think that this is all I did....well, as my Mom would have said, "You got another think coming." I spent most of yesterday back in the wooded area. With me ignoring it...the under brush from the woods has simple popped up and taken over. It looked like such a mess. After all the hard work that I put into this place in the past few years...I just hated to see it all just get ruined. I have some religious statues there and it was getting so that you could hardly see them. I decided to use the weed whacker a couple of times during the growing season. I knew if I did it now....when it gets really hot...the weeds will stop growing. I armed myself with the weed whacker, water bottle, telephone, bandanna, a few fig newtons, and various other tools. I said that I was going to do just a little at a time. Famous last words. Once I got started, it really wasn't so bad, with frequent stops for resting. I decided to just get the weeds around the statues and all the flowering shrubs etc. The rest can just be let go. I have 3 bluebird houses on stakes with a cage around them. That's where I've had honeysuckle growing for years. It's so scraggly looking, so I brought an old chair and sat with the hand clippers and cut it all down to the main stems. They are like small tree branches. I plan to paint the birdhouses....the same color, my favorite shade of light aqua blue in the garden. I stepped back to look at what I had done. It isn't perfect, but it will have to do since I am on my own back there. The birds were calling as I worked...I know that they like it wild and woolly....and will be disappointed to find some of their favorite spots tidied up.
The chickadee flew back and forth, trying to scold me....she wanted back in her birdhouse and I wasn't budging. The wrens were making a racket too. Orioles high above...I wonder where their nest is hanging? Earlier, as I was walking through with the whacker.....little critters were scampering out of my way. I felt like the hunter in Bambi.....with all the little animals cowering in their hidey holes.
Joe was busy out front, supervising the installation of our new service door on the garage.   :) One of my little critter friends had chewed a hole in the bottom of the door....and now we had to replace it. :) Out at the entrance of the driveway there were things going on too. We have a gully across the front of the yard that goes under the drive. We have installed some paving stones and then we planted some evergreens there. No matter how we tried, grass kept growing up in that area. So, we had it all torn apart and have mulch and two big containers of geraniums instead. Now, when grass grows, we can use round up to kill it. I don't like to use round up, but sometimes we just have to. Neither of us can get down on our knees to weed comfortably.
The front porch got a lot of use yesterday. In between jobs we rested there and naps were taken in the middle of the afternoon. Later that evening, when the aches and pains started, I was glad that we got it all finished. Everything looks as good as it will and we are both happy with the results.
This morning, I ordered two bridal wreath type shrubs and three giant chartreuse hostas for the woods border. If I get shrubs all across the will hide what's behind....and the little woodland pals will have their homes back.
I'll take more pictures today and tomorrow to show what we did at the driveway. When the geraniums fill in....I think it will be pretty.
Today, I just did inside things and took a little rest this afternoon. I love summer afternoons, when we can read, watch TV, sit on the porch, visit with neighbor kids, and maybe have an ice cream cone :)

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

A Big Influence in My Life

I wasn't going to post anything today, but when I came to the computer and Google reminded me that it was a day to celebrate someone who has influenced me since the 1960's I had to put my two cents in. That person was Rachel Carson. Rachel wrote a book entitled "Silent Spring" in 1964. I read the book and it was the first time I had heard the word ecology. I hadn't paid much attention to things affecting our natural world until then. She literally woke up the world....and made people think about the beauty around them and what was happening even in our own backyards.She was responsible for studies on water pollution, pesticides, recycling etc. Her studies were responsible for the banning of some pesticides...including DDT. Many people were finding out that the beautiful song birds were dying from the spraying of DDT from planes. Streams, rivers and ponds were affected by overhead spraying.Pollution....what a powerful word. Her book made us mindful of pollution in our cities, states and country. I owe her a debt of gratitude for becoming the person that I am today. My love of nature and trying to do my part to take care of our precious earth is to her credit. Her "Silent Spring" is a book to reread again and again.
What a treasure she was and still is.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Time to Show the Critters

This is the day that we show the critters that we've been making this past month. I let this go till the very end...very unusual for me, so I had to hurry yesterday and get them done. I felt like I was back in high school...cramming for a test at the last minute. The little mouse...looks like a mouse, but I think that it takes a bit of imagination to figure out the other one. It's supposed to be a porcupine. Porcupines are known for their long sharp quills. This is a warm and fuzzy sharp quills to be found. So, I guess he will get along with the other critters on  my Christmas tree in Dec. Did I just say Christmas?
So visit either of these two blogs to see the rest of the entries and what we are doing next month. They look a little easier than these two.

Hope your Memorial Day weekend is going nicely. Let's remember the men and women who served and are serving our country. We owe them so much.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

The Old Pyrex Pie Pan

It would be my Mom's 99th birthday today. The first thing that I think of, when I think of her, is fudge. She was the fudge queen. Anytime she was to bring something to share with people....they always asked for her fudge. Even during the war, when we could hardly get sugar....she always seemed to come through and make a pan of fudge. Now, you just read that I said "pan" Her fudge pan was an old, browned, pyrex 8 1/2in. pie pan. Nothing else would do. She would put together a recipe of fudge and my job was to take a chunk of butter and grease that pie pan. I was just a little girl...standing on a chair with butter on my fingers. She always said, "Don't lick your fingers." Mom would be at the stove with her fudge boiling. She didn't use a candy thermometer, but dropped a small amount of fudge in a cup of cold water. She would push the lump around until just the right time....when it formed a soft ball. Then it was placed in a sink full of cold water. We didn't put ice cubes in...because our Fridge didn't make but two trays of ice. The waiting was so hard for me. She would send me into the living room to listen to the radio or read a book while this pan of deliciousness cooled. When it was cool enough to handle...she would beat it until just the right moment...she could tell because the shiny mixture dulled a bit and it was starting to get stiff. This was always rush time....the pan was ready and she would dump the fudge in and swirl it around. I told you that she used an 8 1/2 in glass pie pan. I could never figure out why she didn't use a square pan. Now, I know.....she wanted those little triangular pieces around the border for us to eat. The fudge got hard really quick. No refrigeration for her fudge. We would split one of those little bottles of coke and take the little pieces and go into the living room to listen to our favorite radio shows. Dad worked nights and he missed out on this treat. He wasn't much of a fudge it was all for us.
The years went by and Mom was old...she had stopped making fudge. My folks moved into an apartment and in the process of moving, the little browned pyrex pie pan was lost or left behind. She was distraught. How could she make fudge she asked. I knew that she hadn't made it in a long time, but I wanted to make her happy. So, I started scouting estate sales and garage sales for another dish. You won't believe this....I found one, much like hers. It was the right size and even had the browned scratches here and there. She smiled when I brought it to her. She just took it and washed it....put it away until she would be making fudge again. That was when I started making fudge....her way. Sometimes I have a failure and we use it for hot fudge topping on ice cream and other times it is perfect.  She started making it as a young girl and continued until she was in her late 70's.I don't make it very often, but when I do....I think of all the times Mom and I shared the little side pieces and a half a coke.

Here's Mom's recipe for fudge...
2 c sugar
2 sq. dark chocolate chopped
1 c milk
4 T butter
1T vanilla
I pretty much told how to make it in the above story, but just a couple of other things. The butter and vanilla are added while it is in the sink cooling.
Beat it until it isn't glossy. This could be quite a while depending on the weather.
Mom always said..."Don't stir it while it is boiling!" I find that a heavy pan is best. She always used her Club Aluminum pan.
Good luck!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Xoie and Kyle are Married

My grand daughter, Xoie got married yesterday in N.Carolina. We weren't able to attend and were waiting by the computer to see the pictures as they came on Facebook. I think it's wonderful how today we can see things instantly and not have to wait for film to be developed.
Xoie met Kyle, who had a little son...Clifford. He's just a little guy and loves Xoie so much. He started calling her Mom early on. Xoie has wanted to be a Mom for a long time and now she has this little boy in her life. She and Kyle are wished all the blessings that could come to them. As they make their little home, I hope that happiness is always their's.
Love you kids,

Friday, May 23, 2014

My Hidden Nook and Lunch With a Friend

 Here are the two containers with the trellis behind, that are planted. I first planted the Purple Hyacinth Beans around the back of the two pots and then in one....I planted a patio tomato and the other a cherry. With the trellis there...the cherry tomato can reach for the skies. I'll try it again this year, but if it's not successful there won't be any tomatoes in our gardens. If you are a regular reader you know that last year the critters ate every single one of our tomatoes when they ripened. We've had a mystery visitor here each night drinking the hummingbird feeders dry. The little scamp loves the leftover grape jelly for the orioles too. I know it's a raccoon....our neighbor traps them and removes them from our yards each year. I know that he shouldn't do this, but it's better than killing them.
 I have a couple of chairs and a little table next to the containers and I often sit there to rest. It's back tucked into a space between the pots and this little garden filled with daisies, lady's mantle, roses, lilies, and a lilac bush. I found some shade here in this spot to hang my fern. I love this little's under the overhang and is shady later on in the late morning.
Yesterday, I met a friend for lunch. We met halfway and really enjoyed the few hours together. We hadn't seen each other in quite a while, so lots of conversation. The restaurant had been taken over by new owners and had just reopened. We were the only customers there for a while. Our table was well taken care of by two young waiters. The one, a young girl, called us "girls" I whispered to my friend...."She called us girls!" Apparently the waitress heard me and laughed. She came back to the table and I said, "You made our day!"We ended the lunch with hot fudge sundaes. Whipped cream, nuts, and a cherry on top. We were so full and made our way across the street to a shop that was having a closing sale. After that, we sat on a little bench outside and visited for quite a while. As we said our goodbyes, I wondered why we don't do this more often? We are getting old and at this time of our lives...friends are so important. I said as we were leaving, "Well Nancy, we solved all the world problems, but not some of our own." I guess we need to do this again share our lives and solve problems :)

Back quickly...everyone is showing their lilacs.....had to show mine. Aren't the lilacs beautiful this year?

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Herb Garden

Herb garden....just the words make me swoon. For some reason, I am attracted to herbs. Take me to a greenhouse and I'll head straight for the herb selection. I always hope, when I go up the drive to a garage sale...that they have little snips of herbs in paper cups. Plant sales are a good place to buy them....gardeners who grow herbs are usually always eager to talk about them. Friends often will share little herb plants. 
There are so many ways to plant an herb garden....some grow them in a pinwheel shape, some in a knot garden, many in strawberry jars, an old crock is a good container, in amongst the vegetable garden, or just tucked in where you have room.
So many are medicinal plants used for centuries to heal or soothe. They are used for cooking and I especially like them for teas. 
I love the way they grow. Tuck them in between some rocks and the herbs conform and tumble over in soft shapes. They are in all shades of greens and grays. Most of them stay where they are planted, but some are rascals and want to take over. Mints for instance....keep them in their own pot.
The colors are ones that I love. Soft greens and grays, pinks and soft purples, lemon yellows, white etc. Many times the blossoms are nothing spectacular...the leaves are what is important. Textured leaves that you want to touch.....and touching is OK.....that's the beauty of herbs, the leaves are so fragrant.
I was watching Ina Garten yesterday as she was out in her huge herb garden (be still my heart) just grabbing rosemary by the handfuls and cutting them off. Oh, how I wish that I could have rosemary plants like that. 
I do have herbs in my gardens. We start with sage, rosemary, thyme, parsley, basil, savory, lavender, lemon thyme, lemon balm etc. These plants blend in well with columbine, violets, forget me nots, and so many other flowers. Little flowers not the big blowzy ones like marigolds or zinnias.
I got a book yesterday about Mary's Gardens. This book tells the legends behind the flowers and plants that honor the Virgin Mary. 
When we made the Mary's Garden at Church, we didn't think of planting those flowers. There are roses there....and a rose is the first flower that you associate with Mary. I'm going to try to plant a few things in  my Mary's honor the Blessed Mother.I already have a good start with lilies. 
This post got so long....I could go on and on with writing about my love of herbs. I'll take some pictures today of what is growing in my own yard. Watch for them tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Women Caring for Women

I found this today and thought it was so sweet. It reminded me of my Grandma... and all the time she took with me. I was just big enough to reach the kitchen sink, with the help of a chair, when she started giving me cooking lessons :) Well, they weren't really lessons, but I thought so at the time. She would take one of her aprons and fold it over so it would fit me.She'd be peeling potatoes or carrots and the peelings would drop in the sink. She could peel an apple and keep the peeling intact until the whole apple was peeled. I thought this was magic. I would have the water on....what kid doesn't like to play in the sink with the water running? The peelings would be washed over and over and then arranged on a plate in a pretty fashion. Sometimes she would use a couple of eggs and the shells would be mine. I arranged the peelings around the egg shells that could be full of most anything. She would be going from sink to stove....just letting me be and not scolding. She had the patience of Job.
My Mom was always super busy in the kitchen and really had no time for me to play, while she cooked. It was war time and she had all she could manage at home....keeping everything going from stoking the furnace to working in yard goods at Ackemann's Dept Store. I really didn't feel badly that she didn't take the time with me that Grandma did.... as I remember. It was just the way things had to be. I think that she missed out on a lot of together time with me, but I saw what a good Mom she could be with my brother...who came into the world after the war. At that time, she was home and able to be there for both of us. She was an involved Mom, once she had the time to be.
Thank heavens for Grandmas. They do take the time to be a kid's best friend.
When Grandma was very old and needed someone to care for Mom was the daughter that Grandma depended on. Grandma came to live in the upstairs bedroom. She was bed ridden and Mom had to do everything for her. The aunts would come in and take over once in a while, but it was Mom who gave that loving care to her Mother. So, in my life, I've seen my Mother do what God planned for her. She made a wonderful home for us and also for Grandma, when she needed it.
I guess that our lives aren't always what we wish at the time, but just waiting a few years and it all changes. My Grandma helped me when I needed it, my Mom helped Grandma when she needed it, and much later on I helped my Mom.
This should have been a Mother's Day post, but I just thought about it this morning, when I saw the little verse above.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Some Favorites of Mine

My absolute favorite flower is Japanese Anemone. I tried several times to get them started, but always failed. Then I ordered 3 more...thinking that this would be the last time I would try them. This picture from last year's garden shows just one pink anemone plant. Three of them grew all last year and I was really happy. I think I had 2 pink and 1 white one. In late fall, I pulled some of my neighbor's pine needles over and sort of covered the flower bed. Not a lot of pine straw....just a little tucking in here and there. All during the harsh winter, I thought about these plants out there.....wishing that I had taken a little more time in covering things. Early spring came and no sign of them. I think that I moved a little to fast this year. I thought that several things in the yard had been killed by the weather. I now know that I needed more patience, because the anemones were just taking their time. I noticed just this week that they are up and have multiplied. Yesterday, I was planting some annual herbs in that vicinity...and I decided to pull some things out that were running rampant there, so the anemones could have a little more room. I have some ajuga that has grown so thick. It pulls out easily and you really can't hurt it. I think that thinning actually makes it grow more. Now here I am this morning saying I can't wait for fall to see these bloom.
Patience, Balisha.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

The Church Birdhouse

This was taken last year. Right now, it is just starting to fill out. I have to remember how my gardens looked early on as I wonder if I can find room for something new. This space looks filled to the brim. No room for anything else.....but, do you see the Church birdhouse hanging with it's back to the camera? The birdhouse was given to me by my daughter. Her neighbor, Hank, made it. It was there all last year. Birds checked it out, but didn't move in. This year is different. Several birds were trying to nest in it. It looks like it was a choice piece of real estate. Yesterday, while looking around, a tiny chickadee flew past me and popped into the house. There was another chickadee already inside. I watched for a while and they brought nesting material back and forth. Now, this is a big birdhouse. I thought too big for chickadees. I guess I was wrong. It seems that the bigger the better.....just like humans nowadays. There are so many huge homes in neighborhoods all around us. I would think that people would rattle around in these houses and I always think that I wouldn't want to keep them clean. So, these little chickadees have a big job ahead of them......building a nest and caring for their young. I wonder if they will regret taking on a big home? Will they come back again? I wonder too....did they look at the other tiny houses back in the woods? Maybe I attracted them. Maybe they enjoy people around like gardeners on their hands and knees making their gardens pretty. Maybe they wanted someone to pickup after them as they flitted around in the mulch tossing aside what they didn't want. I might find out the answers to these questions, when I start reading my new book....What a Bird Knows?
Have a nice day today. I will be out doing a few things to keep up the gardens. The sun is out and it's going to be a little warmer. I'm going to start on the west side of the house....I wonder if the chickadees are up yet :)

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Remembering Tim

The picture is of some forget me nots that I planted a year ago, after my son, Tim passed away. It's been a hard year...filled with firsts. His first birthday in Heaven, first Thanksgiving, Christmas, and all the other special days without him. It's been made easier by having my family here on these occasions. We get together and when we mention Tim, it's always a good memory. One of fun, teasing, laughter....everything that Tim was.
We've done several things to get through this ....We had a little family memorial last 4th of July... at my daughter's in Wi. Our whole family was of Tim's favorite places was at the started a memory garden with the bird bath with a statue of a little boy that Joe bought me. Joe got a paver with his name on it for our Grotto at Church. We had several Masses for him. I had a book made of my blog and I can look back and reread all of the comments from bloggers at that time. Comments, cards, letters, phone calls, visits...all helped ease the pain.
I just finished reading a little book written by my favorite author, Gladys Taber. She had a lifelong friend who died and Gladys wrote this book as she was grieving. This is a quote from the book...

When we dwell in the house of sorrow, we have a long lease on it which cannot be canceled. But eventually another door does open, into a place of quietude and acceptance.  Her book "Another Path" is the key to that door.

Friday, May 16, 2014

A Ride I'll Never Forget

I'm going to write about my trip yesterday, but I got sidetracked by the snow that is falling this morning. Snow in might say ridiculous, but I remember a Mother's Day, several years ago, when there were piles of snow left in  my shady backyard. We were in shorts and snow still in the yard. It won't last long, but I'm a little concerned about my three little tomato plants shivering out there.

So, now on to my adventurous life. I was invited to join the senior citizens bus trip from a nearby town. They were going to White Fence Farm, in Romeoville, Il. My friend, Mary had an extra ticket, because her husband found out that he couldn't go.Mary picked me up early in the morning, and after arriving... we got in line with everyone. After meeting the elderly bus driver, we stepped aboard, with everyone chattering like Magpies. It was a very large bus and the seats were comfy and much smaller and aisle more narrow than I had remembered from bus trips before. We were given a bag with a bottle of water and a snack. We had to wait for a few stragglers and then the bus took off on our journey. It was to be a trip of a couple of hours. Everything went well for several miles....the chattering and laughing of a bus full of women was fun to hear. A few of us knew each other, so that made it even more fun. Joking back and forth and lively conversations. A couple of us saw the sign....JOLIET, but the bus driver missed it. We went on for a few miles and we joked about the sign that said Iowa....wondering if we would end up in Iowa. After traveling several more miles the word LOST came back through the crowd, as we turned off the highway and started through some little neighborhoods and ended up driving through a trailer park... and seeing the sign  JOLIET ST. We soon found out that the GPS had been set incorrectly...should have been JOLIET ROAD. Here we were, in this huge bus in a little neighborhood just off the highway. An unpaved road with tiny houses and trailers.....the bus dipping into puddles of water. Poor bus driver....he had been called out of retirement just for this trip and what a problem he had. After many suggestions he turned the bus around and headed back...taking us on a mini tour of Joliet. We were going to be late and a call to the restaurant for directions was put in. Now I have to say this in advance. I will never sleep through a fire. I have a good nose for smoke.....and I smelled smoke. As I was looking out the window....I saw smoke coming from the direction of the front tires... on the driver's side. Several of us mentioned smelling smoke and the little ventilation fans were being turned on. At this point...we didn't know if the smoke was coming from the tires, brakes or if the bus was on fire underneath.The driver started to speed up to make up time and we stopped for a light and the driver of the car in the lane next to us came over to the bus driver's window. I saw him excitedly gesturing....pointing at the front tire and talking fast. English was his 2nd language, but even if you couldn't understand him... you knew that he was warning the driver about something serious. It was said that he saw a tire wobbling. I still don't know why the driver didn't go out and check on what this man was talking about. Our guide told us that we were just a few miles from the restaurant and the bus would go very slowly to make it there....instead of stopping on the highway to wait for help. The restaurant was spotted and a big sigh of relief could be heard from some of the passengers. (Some people were oblivious to what was happening. They went on visiting as if nothing was going on.) We went in to the restaurant and were rushed to our tables and served a nice lunch before the show. The bus driver sat at our table and explained that he had to call 10 people before anyone would come out to fix or replace this bus. I really hoped that we would get a new bus, not really trusting that they would be able to fix it properly. I had visions of a wheel flying off when we were speeding down the expressway:(  After the meal we were directed into another room for the program. We were entertained by a woman who was a comedienne/musician. She was joined by her partner and another  young man. She was very funny and was able to get our minds off our recent situation. When the show was over, we went out to the lot and found a new bus had been driven there for our trip back. Someone said that during the show repairmen were there, with wheels off and equipment all over the parking lot....getting the old bus ready to go back to the shop.
All in all, it was a pretty nice day. Once we got to the restaurant...things were great. We all had a little excitement in our lives...and it was fun to all be together in this situation.I hadn't been on a bus trip of this sort for many years. I don't know if I want to do it again. Maybe later on when it's not so fresh in my mind.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Patience, Balisha

Spring blooms are fleeting. One day the Magnolia is beautiful and the next the petals are on the ground. The Redbud in my backyard is the same. I looked out to the woods late yesterday, and saw that the beautiful little tree was starting to loose it's blooms. So, I went out to capture a picture of it...before it was too late.
I've noticed that the blooming trees aren't quite as full as last year. Maybe the after effects of our harsh winter. I have to admit to being wrong about roses are starting to put out new growth. I thought that they had died, and I was told to be patient...maybe they would come. This is true for my big sage plant. Who would have thought that these would be a month late? I was in such a hurry to tidy up....that I didn't really give these plants time to grow this year. I'm so glad that I wasn't strong enough to dig them out of the ground. I just left the base of the plants...thinking that they would be covered with my ground cover planting.
This reminds me of real life. How many times do we need patience when dealing with an (what we think) unsolvable problem? How many times are we told to just wait and see what happens? It's hard to wait...we want things in an instant in this very fast world. We need to just relax and wait....I'm a pretty patient person, but sometimes I need to listen to my own words.
Here's my littlest Angel. She is about to be overcome with Hostas. Her little garden was full last year, and this year it needs some thinning out. These Hostas will get a lot bigger...she looks nice standing there this morning, but by the next month she will have to be moved. Do you move garden ornaments, planters etc around during the growing season? I am forever moving things. When a particular planter looks comes out into the front of the garden. When it starts to look shabby...I move something else in it's place. Sometimes a planter just needs to have a change of position with the sun to recuperate from the heat. A little rest in the shade does us all some good.
I'm thinking about when I work in the yard...I need a little respite from the heat and head for the front porch...where comfortable chairs and a cool drink are waiting. We need to make our containers comfortable and give them a cool drink on a hot day.
Well, hot days will be here soon. We've just had a little taste of heat and now it's cool again. I'm going to be patient :) and just wait for the will come soon enough.

Monday, May 12, 2014

My Mother's Day 2014

My Mother's Day started a couple of days before Sunday. I went to the door and there was a package from my daughter who lives in DC. She knows that I love to read and especially nature she ordered a couple of new books from Amazon. "Chasing the Rose" by Andrea di Robilant, and "Bird Sense" by Tim Birkhead. She and I had a long phone call on Sunday morning filled with so many memories. Then I got an ECard from my son. He said that instead of flowers or gift card he wanted to spend a day with me at the Nicholas Conservatory and Gardens in Rockford ...then out for lunch or dinner. I talked to him for a long time too...on Sunday and we made plans to go in June.
Joe and I went to Mass on Saturday night and then he surprised me by stopping at the new Chinese restaurant in Byron. Even though I'm not his mom....he gave me an Amazon gift card and then later in the afternoon on Sunday... we went to Maxson's Paddleboat Restaurant in Oregon, Il. We were early... so we went for a drive through the White Pines Forest. The tall pines lined both sides of the road and the grounds were covered with May flowers. Then we went back to Oregon and went on the other side of the river and parked at a park where lots of people fish. There were only a few people fishing...but someone else was fishing....the flock of Pelicans was there.I really enjoyed this...watching them fly and then dive into the water and catch a fish. There were probably 30 to 50 Pelicans. Beautiful big white birds all swimming in a little bay under the dam.
After watching them for a while...we drove to the restaurant, where they had a wonderful buffet for Mom's day. The restaurant is on the Rock River and has windows all around the eating area. We could have eaten on the boat, but I had done that before and rain was predicted for that we ate inside.The restaurant had just recently been sold and this was their first Mother's Day. The restaurant is big and was full of families yesterday. The buffet was full of breakfast items, eggs Benedict, custom omelets, sausage gravy and biscuits, and then ham, roast beef, fried chicken, shrimp, meat loaf, green beans, potatoes, salad and the fixins, two dessert tables, with pies, brownies, puddings, cookies, oh just so much food. It was delicious.
After our meal it started to rain, so we headed for home. We stopped and picked up a movie to watch.All in all, the day I was dreading was very nice.I was kept busy from dawn to night. I did think about what was going on last year at this time, but my family made sure I had a good Mom's Day.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Her Checkered Apron....Mother's Day 2014

My mother was a seamstress. She loved her old treadle sewing machine, but when Dad got her a new Singer portable...she really went to town, sewing. I can remember being in bed late at night, and hearing the whizzing of the machine... and wonder what she was making now? She and my Aunt Helen had an upholstery business. They made slip covers, draperies, bedspreads etc for many people. They were so busy in those days. When my aunt died and Mom was getting old, she started making smaller things. When a new baby was coming in our family, her receiving blankets were a gift to treasure. She would pick the finest flannelet and make them bigger than the ones you could buy in the store. She often trimmed them with pretty rick rack and other fancy trims. The new mom would open this bundle and be delighted. I think that these along with aprons were her favorite things to make. I have a couple of her is hanging next to the fridge in my kitchen right now. I hung it there to have just a little bit of my Mom in my kitchen. I use it quite a bit. I found this poem about an apron in an old Ideals Mother's Day it is. 

Her Checkered Apron by Linnea Bodman

Stored in a trunk in the attic,
Forgotten for many a year,
I found Mother's big checkered apron,
So familiar to me and so dear.

I still see her sitting and peeling,
The peaches and pears that she canned,
Then screwing the lids on glass jars,
With a corner of it in her hand.

Made from a square of checked cotton,
Practical, simple, and plain,
It was handy on many occasions,
And served her again and again.

Not only while cooking and cleaning,
But also for carrying things
Such as apples or kindling or kittens,
Or flowers that summertime brings.

Or gathering eggs from the hen house,
Shooing away a mad bee,
Flicking the crumbs from the table,
Or shining an apple for me.

And two of its comforting functions,
Were drying a crying child's eyes,
And wrapping her up in it's vastness,
While she cuddled away her hurt sighs.

Now back it will go where I found it,
It's edges all neatly aligned,
But the memories stored in it's sweet folds
Will endure for all time in my mind.

Hope you enjoyed this.....Happy Mother's Day to every woman who has ever loved a child.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Garden in a Pot

This is a picture of a bulb garden in a pot that I got from my daughter many years ago. I kept the arrangement in the house until I could safely plant it outside. Then I plopped it in the ground, just as it was growing in the pot. It's come up every year since then. Some years it has been spoiled by the windy weather, but this year it is so pretty. It's just starting to multiply...especially the daffodils.
I love the combination of yellow and red in the spring.

I said that I wasn't going to do it, but I bought a couple of tomato plants on the way home from the pool. We stopped at Merlin's Greenhouse, so that I could buy them and see spring in their beautiful greenhouse. Rows and rows of the biggest geraniums that I have ever seen. All different colors. It made me almost sorry that I didn't buy any this year. He has them arranged as you come up the walk to the building too....what a glorious entrance they make. Of course I had to buy a couple of other things too.

We had the lawn man put on dandelion killer yesterday. Today they are drooping. I have a few in my flower beds and back in the woods....I'll be busy next week digging them out.

We just had dinner and now it's time to just rest. Going to the pool really relaxes me. Sometimes too much. It was fun today, as two little boys were getting lessons. afraid and the other a fish.

Coming home through Oregon, was so pretty. Many trees were blooming and flowers along fence lines and at front doors were so beautiful. Bright colored birds were everywhere. Soon, the spring bulb show will be all over, and we'll be on to something else. I hope everyone can enjoy it while it's here. We've waited so long, it seems, this year.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Spring Things

My little garden gnome is looking bewildered today. "What's going on with this weather?" he seems to say. First it's cold now this 80 degree stuff. We just have to roll with the punches that Mother Nature sends our way. He looks like he's taking life easy, while I'm running around like a chicken with my head cut off...trying to keep up with it all. I just took several winter coats out of the closets and will find a place for them downstairs. Some of them should be given away....ahem....Joe. Coats seem to multiply at our house. A coat is something hard to give away. We always think that maybe it will come back in style, or maybe we will fit into it again. They are quite costly and I guess that's the reason we hang on to them.

Meanwhile out back it seems that nature is multiplying. Just look at those Lily of the Valley. They keep pretty much contained in this little area. I need to thin them out and give some away. 
Things are multiplying in the front yard too. I just planted this "hen." Look at the little babies just popping out all over her. This is the very expensive one that I just bought. Will I have problems dividing this one and giving some away?
This last picture is one that was really hard to take. We were eating dinner, and were watching the bird feeder at the same time. Goldfinches just filled the feeder. I think that there were as many as 7 at one time. Joe encouraged me to get my camera. I thought that they would be gone by the time I got back. We've never had so many goldfinches as this year. I can hear them right now...out at our feeder in the back and I see a little fellow here in the front feeder. What is the reason for this bird multiplying so this year? We are feeding them the same sunflower seeds.....and they do love them. I can't imagine this many nesting close by. Birds seem to like their own territory for their nest. I'll have do do some research  on this.

There are 14 goldfinches at my feeder right now.

Spring, by Balisha

Multiplication in my yard.. is interesting to me..
I look and find it everywhere, it's even with the bees.
I see it in the birds...there never were so many..
They show up everyday.. just like a copper penny.
The hens are having chicks you know..close to Mom they like to be..
I gave them extra room to suits them to a T.
I notice something in the air...something I know so well.
The lily of the valleys with their delicious smell..
It's all the way it's supposed to be.. when spring arrives each year..
Enjoy it now for when it's gone... we all will shed a tear.
Spring is here...the bird song tells, in the pond the peepers sing ..
Your senses tell you to enjoy....this oh, so pretty spring.

I'm going to get ready and go out to enjoy the day. Rain is predicted for tonight.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Mother's Day is Coming and a Book

I've been sort of dreading this Mother's Day. Last year we were so concerned about my son Tim...and hoping that he would be able to fight the disease that finally took his life. When I visited, he said that he remembered it was Mother's Day. My days back then are a little confused, but I think he was on the respirator then. The card that I got from him was one that I will always keep.

I just happened to get a book... that I asked for at our library this morning. It's called "Another Path" by Gladys Taber. She is my favorite author...I think I have read all of her books. She had a feature in a woman's magazine each month....and I read those too. I only wish I had kept those articles. Well, getting back to the book. It's a tiny book of 140 pages. I have read about half of it already. Gladys had a faithful friend, Jill, most of her life. They raised their children together...spending time away from their husbands on vacations, holidays ( their husbands would join them occasionally and especially on holidays) and summers at Stillmeadow. When their spouses died...they combined money and belongings and moved into the house together. The books are all about their adventures in a house built in the 1600's. Some of her books are seasonal...going from season to season...telling of weather, kids, dogs, recipes etc. The book that I picked up this morning....was written when Gladys found herself alone after Jill passed away. She tells about her grief and how she handled it. She had such an upbeat personality and didn't let her grief get the best of her.People made suggestions after Jill died, about what Gladys should do. She felt that she knew herself best...and would stay on and continue like she had been doing. I have found out so many ways of looking at things....from now on, I will say that I am doing something the "Gladys way." For instance...don't live ahead...don't think about how you will handle situations, what you are going to do a year from now...don't live ahead and get yourself in a tizzy about something that might happen. Live in the present and make each day count. When Tim died, I wondered how I could get on without one of my kids? What would happen on his birthday? How could we celebrate the holidays now? Could our family have fun anymore? What would Mother's Day be like? You know, most things we worry about...never happen.....and it's best to just let things be.

The first year has been pretty good. Once in a while, I think of something that reminds me of him. The kids and I laugh about the fun times with Tim. He was such a character.He brought me joy.
My world changed the day Tim died. I have since realized that there can't be life without change. We just have to accept the changes and go with them.

So, for now, I appreciate my remaining two kids more. After he died, I was constantly worrying about them.....not wanting anything bad to happen. When I find myself worrying about them now...I think this....they are intelligent, they have a good background, they are sensible, and they love life. They are smart enough to figure things out for themselves. They wouldn't want their mom worrying about them.

 I realize how precious life is and how fleeting it can be. So, when Mother's Day comes, I'll be thinking of the past, but looking forward to the year ahead.

I have decided that I have to have this book. I just ordered it from's my Mother's Day gift to myself.


Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Life Here In Byron on a Tuesday

I want to start out by saying It's National Teacher's Day today.Teachers were a big part of my life. I loved going to school and was eager to learn. Just wanted to say thankyou for the patience and care that you showed me along the way. 
This azalea was planted several years ago. It was a gift to Joe from one of his former teachers. As long as I have lived here....the little Azalea hasn't grown much. Then a couple of years ago, it started to lean and pull out of the ground. We decided to dig it up and see what was going on with the root system. We found that the roots were circling around and around and not spreading out. It hadn't been planted right....maybe just put in the ground right from the pot. We scruffed it up and spread out the roots and replanted it. We wondered what would happen now. We needn't have is growing well and after the frigid survived and is blooming like crazy. It's such a pretty color...I almost wish it were in the front yard, but it does well in the shade...and our front is solid sun.
Speaking of sun, here it comes. It promises to be a beautiful day...still a little chilly. Then we are being treated to some hot weather...the first this year. Today I'll do some cleaning and then go out in the garden and get rid of a few dandelions.
I planted the plants that I bought on Sunday and will take some pictures later today. Everything is different this year....only one Regal Geranium. I incorporated some yellows and oranges into my mostly rose and purples. Bought a few herbs and put them in a container on the they are close by for cooking.
The new garden center is nice, but a little more expensive than other places. I found that I got the best prices on a few things at Ace Hardware. I was surprised at the quality and prices.
I'm getting a little tired of our I'm thinking of ways to change them up a bit. I think that our taste buds change as we age...and mine just need a little perking up. Winter and all it's homey and heavy foods lasted so long this year. Spring is taking it's time, so my meals haven't changed yet. I'm hungry for salads and grilled foods....light things like fish and meals without heavy foods. I'm going to check our freezer and fridge for ingredients for a lighter meal today.
Speaking of meals....the bird feeders empty faster than I can fill them. I saw love in the air yesterday....Finches feeding each other, Doves nuzzling one another, a papa Cardinal feeding his lady and the Sparrows mating. It's spring...and the birds know it. The best birdhouses are being occupied, nesting material is being selected, lots of bird song fills the air, and the Orioles are calling for more grape jelly. Yesterday, when coming home from the pool, we saw a pair of Pelicans swimming in the Rock River. I have heard that there are a flock of them in a park near the river, but we have only seen two at a time. Just now, while eating breakfast, I saw a bright flash go by. The first Hummingbird of the season. So happy that these little jewels are back.
Bye for now, Balisha

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Sunday Morning in May

 Yesterday as I was out walking in my yard....I heard the wonderful song of the Wren. I sat awhile and watched the little bird flit from house to house in the woods. I've seen her do this before....never quite knowing which house she will choose until moving in day. They are such busy little birds and I love to watch them. They can be a bit aggressive...pulling out the nesting material of another bird, who has just started moving in. They love a clean house and not many neighbors.
 Back up at the house,  a flash of bright orange flew by. I knew right away what it was. Joe saw the first Oriole just yesterday while eating a meal at the table in the breakfast nook. I had put the feeder out earlier, but it was empty. The Oriole pair just gave me a look as if to say, "Would you get this cup full of grape jelly?" Joe made Oriole feeders before they were selling in the stores. A little souffle cup is in the center of the little house like shape. Now, many birds have decided to eat from this feeder. The Sparrows love a sugary treat. The Blackbirds make a visit occasionally...although they don't like to eat at a feeder with a cover over their heads. They like to be out in the they can watch everything. Even the squirrel comes to get a I buy a lot of grape  jelly in a year's time.The Orioles always give me warning that their feeder is empty. A pretty call and they fly away. I think that they are out in the woods, high in the trees, watching to see when it is filled, because it isn't long before they are back to eat.
Today is a little cloudy with sun just peeking through. I plan to go and find the plants I need for my stack and grow, the large planter in front, and maybe a few herbs. I hope it doesn't rain. We went to Mass last night, so I can get an early start. I'll be back to show you what I bought.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

A Simple Decision

I've teased you all by telling about a project that I am working on. I've only ordered one thing for that project and now I wonder if I should proceed with it. I keep going back a couple of years and remembering at the end of the season how I was so tired of dragging the hose and fighting the never ending fight against the Japanese Beetles. I really, to tell the truth, wasn't enjoying my garden as I had in years past. Last year was the first year that I simplified....not planting many annuals and really enjoying the plants that I had. There were things to divide...and instead of giving these divisions away...I found a new place for them in my own garden. I found myself relaxing and enjoying it all more. I came to question how is it possible to achieve a feeling of peace and relaxation....if I'm always weeding, watering, fussing. I felt like I was a slave to my garden a few years ago. I came to the conclusion that I had come to terms with my own physical self....knowing that I couldn't or didn't want to continue on with the struggle to keep it all up. It's a never ending battle with me....I have gardened so long and developed certain habits and ways of doing starting flowers from seed and by now would be hauling the growing plants in and out of the garage at night. By getting to the nursery and picking out the best tomato plants early....before they were picked over. By waiting until Memorial Day weekend to plant tender things. Then the frosty night would come and I'd be out covering everything. Just the thoughts buzzing around in my head about what to plant and where to plant it. Last year, with not much in the way of annuals...there was a peace that came over me. I was finally able to relax more and enjoy it all. This brings us to this year....and here I am again planning a new project. I love the look of tipsy pots. I was introduced to them by Lynn Usuary who used to blog about gardening.She had the most beautiful Tipsy Pots...all over flowing with trailing things. This kept going through my mind...first thing upon waking. I contacted her on FaceBook and she sent me a detailed description of how to make a "tower of flowers." I ordered a metal post to slip the pots on and just about then...started to wonder if this was going to be a lot of work. I read the comments about them online and found that people were having to water them a lot. The watering was difficult for some. The plants didn't do as well as some had hoped. I kept coming back to the computer and researching these  things. This was to be the focal point in my front garden...what if it didn't do well, what if we went away and no one could water it, what if the Japanese Beetles destroyed it, what if the wind blew it over? So, too many ifs for me to go ahead with this. Here I go.....if I were younger, I would do it without question, but I have vowed to simplify my life and this is something that would take quite a bit of work and care. I really don't want I am going to forget it and plant a big pot of flowers where I was going to put the Tipsy Pots. I just felt my shoulders shoulders are always the signal that I am getting tense about something. They go up to my ears, it seems, when I'm tense.... Do you have a body signal... that tells you when to relax? 
Now, on to's sunny out. Joe said first thing this morning, "What's that bright light outside, Balisha?" I plan to get things done in the house and then go out and take a little walk see what is coming up. I just love this time of year. I find little things that I forgot I planted last year, see how all the clematis vines are starting out, check out the lilies, are there violets in the woods? So, many things in a simplified garden. 

I have no idea why this looks the way it does....just something I don't get with blogger.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Happy May Day!

I woke this morning, remembering May days in the past. My earliest remembrance was in 3rd grade with our teacher Miss Scott,  teaching us how to make a basket out of construction paper.
We had to pick the colors that we wanted and she taught us how to cut the strips and weave the paper that would be folded into a basket shape. Then the paper handle was fastened with some brass fasteners. Teachers have so much patience. I don't know how she dealt with a class of 20-25 kids....all in different stages of construction of these rather difficult baskets. When we finished...we put our name on the bottom and all of us made a card to put in the basket. School let out and we were on the run to find the prettiest flowers to put in our basket. There was a huge lilac bush on my way home. It was planted next to an alley, so I could go in the alley and pick a few flowers. Violets and dandelions made up the rest of the basket. When I got home, I hung it on our doorknob and rang the bell.....running to hide when my Mom came out. She acted so surprised and tickled pink with her treasure. She got a jelly jar out and filled it with water and put the flowers in.

There were many more May baskets in her life...the last one being the one I put on her door at her nursing home. She had Alzheimer's disease, and she didn't react the same as in the days of past. I just got so much pleasure doing was mostly for me I guess. The twinkle had left her eye, but I knew that my Mom was in there and maybe, just maybe, she remembered.