Friday, February 29, 2008

Note to Self: This Flower Bingeing May Be Going Too Far

Or maybe not.

See, if I just buy a few every pay day, it doesn't really do anything to Mr. Budget. Plus, for my little $.88 and $2.49's and so forth, I get at least $100 of happiness.

I'm starting to get intrigued with these things called kalanchoe. The colors on the flowers are phenomenal. I'm usually not a fan of *doubled* blooms - where they have lots more petals in each flower than Mother Nature intended - but these? They look like tiny roses to me. That's the bright red one out in front. I've been planting different colors of them in Walter's western garden. I'm starting to find out that all kinds of succulents I thought were jade plants and such are actually kalanchoe.

And who doesn't love these electric blue lobelias? Go ahead, click the pic. This is a nice one to click.

Lobelia doesn't do all that well down here, especially in summer, but I'll see if I can baby these along. In the Pacific Northwest, a place I adore - a place where I can breathe - they do fabulously well. You see huge hanging baskets of them everywhere you go.

More marigolds. I've been deadheading the spent blooms, trying to keep the plant from croaking two weeks after I plant it. I think this may be working. Must have more fresh marigold plants to experiment with. Besides, I didn't have any this color yet.

More yellow snapdragons. I want Rockets. They grow like 6 feet tall. I grew some in New Orleans that were almost 8 feet. But nobody seems to grow Rockets any more; I can't find them in the usual nurseries.

So this year I stopped grumping and bought these short ones. I must have snapdragons. MUST.

If I ever get myself organized, I'll buy some seeds for the Rockets and sprout the little suckers myself. Problem is, they sell the seeds in spring, but we can only grow them in winter, so I need to sow them in September or so, and the nurseries are not selling the seeds then. I'll have to buy them in spring and put them in the fridge and hope some will still germinate.

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And...last but not of the most elegant flowers known to humanity. Calla lilies.


Surely I can figure out how to grow them down here. Surely.

oh, pretty, pretty!

And! No, don't worry, I didn't drive them home on the scooter platform! I just put the plants there as I unloaded the car.

What? You were hoping for the next installment on Walter?

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

A Mini-Biography: Walter

Now I'm going to tell you a little bit about Walter and his family. He may not like this, but tough cookies, Cookie. That's the price you pay when you start your woman up writing a blog.

***Note: This is a significantly revised version of the original post, and I'm breaking it up into smaller pieces too. Walter had a LOT of input after I hit that PUBLISH button. Usually I try to get all my facts straight before I post. This time? I figured if I could slide the post past him in the first place, then he'd accept it and I could repair any mislaid facts after the fact. It worked. :D ***


Let's go for a nice visit to post-WWII mittel Europe. Behind the Iron Curtain we go, into Czechoslovakia during the Cold War.

You have an old established family, big landowners, who had their holdings taken away - nationalized - then were *punished* for their capitalist past by being allowed to hold only low-level jobs. That's Walter's family.

His father was a masterful viola player. Little Walter had to play violin, every day for hours and hours. But never once did he play with anyone else. I always found that sad, myself. Music is a highly social activity. Playing music with others is wonderfully fulfilling.

Did he enjoy it? Sure. Perhaps he would have enjoyed it more if he weren't pushed so hard. Ultimately, he knew he could get way technically proficient - but there's a spark inside us for these things, and he knew he didn't have it. I don't either, although I played too, when young. Giving up playing music can hurt, but it's different when you know you don't have that spark, and you wish you did.

At the age of eight Walter went to the Gifted School, what I like to call the Wunderkind School. He calls it the Special School. When he was 14 the school moved farther from his home. To attend, he moved in with his big sister, Edith, who lived much closer to the new location than his parents did.

That was a good thing. There was some friction between Walter and his parents. He was the last child of three. Every kid was nine years apart. Each parent picked a favorite kid out of the first two. By the time Walter came along, they'd kind of lost interest in new kids. They maintained an emotional distance. Yet they spoiled him too: he never left the house without money, and he had his favorite pastries almost every single morning, fetched from down the block by his mother. Nice and fresh.

So sister Edith, who was 18 years his senior, raised him like a mother. She doted on him and loved him and taught him, and probably spoiled him rotten - in an emotionally available way, this time. Nurturing. He probably needed that, I think.

Walter's special school was a social experiment. As in, *What will we find out if we...?* They took a bunch of really smart kids, either genius-level or close to, and put them all together. When the school moved when Walter was 14, their teachers were now world-class university professors.

The kids were immersed in advanced education, and graduated with college degrees at the age of 18. Being a September baby, Walter reminds me, he was 17 years 8 months old when HE graduated.

He majored in liberal arts, especially linguistics. Where he lived, to get a BA you must have a double major. He studied four languages, each for the same amount of credit hours. He picked Hungarian and Slovak for his declared majors; the two *undeclared* languages were Russian and German. Not enough for you? Okay. He also majored in history and geography. That's four declared majors, plus two more that qualified as majors, if he'd chosen. He only admits to seven languages, although I got him to fess up to twice that many, one night.

Around graduation the school directors said, *We have our answer! Yes, some of you really are geniuses. The rest, including you, Walter? Are very very smart. But not geniuses. So we especially commend you for sticking this out!*


Of the 28 or so who started, about 24 students finished the program. The experiment was not repeated. A lot of what the school directors learned about education, though, was incorporated in teaching students that followed. Walter's own daughter Anne went to an accelerated language class when she was nine. She was bilingual, so they picked her up for the special class, and that class was modeled on the ones Walter was in.

These kids, of course, were being groomed to become the country's next batch of leaders. Today, in his early 50's, many of Walter's old schoolmates hold high positions in government and business in that small country.

If you don't know much about the history of Czechoslovakia - certainly I didn't - you may not understand that there were levels and degrees of adherence to the Soviet version of communism, or socialism, within the Soviet bloc. In Walter's country, in the spring of 1967, they decided to embark on a new program: Socialism with a Human Face.

This drew the ire of Soviet Russia, who invaded Czechoslovakia in August 1968, when Walter was 13.

He'd been up in the mountains vacationing with his sister and her family. Oh, it's a beautiful country. Beautiful mountains. He left a few days early, coming home with a family friend.

Late at night his grandfather woke him up. The whole house was shaking, the earth was rumbling, and nobody knew what was going on. They lived a couple blocks in from the main road in Bratislava, and they got dressed and walked down the street to see what was happening.

Tanks. Tanks were pouring in from all directions, rumbling the ancient buildings and new ones alike, over and over for hours, thousands upon thousands of tanks like it would never end.

Walter and his grandfather stood and watched the tanks going past. Nobody knew what was going on for a couple hours. Then everyone knew.

Their entire country was being invaded from all sides. Every country in the Soviet bloc except Romania took part. Russia parachuted a whole division into Prague.

His sister's family was still up in the mountains. All travel was disrupted, so they had to wait to come home, to return from the mountains on the train. Finally they headed home. When they pulled into the station and opened the windows to look out, they saw lines of tanks turned to face them, the huge tank guns pointed right at the train. Right at them.

Walter had been raised to view Russians as heroes. He changed his mind. From then on, he tried to never speak Russian again.

The invasion was in August, and school started back up in September. On the first day of school all the students collected the year's new books. After school, they had a big bonfire in the schoolyard. They threw their Russian language books on the bonfire and watched them burn. No one got in trouble for this. Nobody said a word.

That winter, in hockey season, the final match was between Russia and Czechoslovakia. When they played these hockey games, there was a little ceremony between the team captains before the puck was dropped. They skated out and traded little flags of their countries, and they shook hands.

This time the Russian captain extended his hand. The Czechoslovakian captain refused to take it. He turned around and skated off instead.

Russia lost the game. Russia never lost the game. The jubilation in Walter's home town, in his home country, was indescribable.

***to be continued...***

Drifting In and Out of Consciousness...

Who, Carl? Well, him too. ;-)

They first brought him back to consciousness several days ago. Checking him out, he needed to be awake to answer some questions.

He's doing fine, all things considered. He said he's not in much pain. They aren't hesitant to treat pain in Europe. Not like here, where I got the treat of staying for ten days on the *screamer floor* of North Ridge, when I was in there for Poor Mr. Foot's MRSA abscess in 2004.

If you've been reading here for a while, you know my feelings about pain treatment are very strong. Hearing he's being properly anesthetized after the terrible injuries he suffered is a great comfort to me. No doubt it is to his wife and everyone else, as well.

Today they moved him out of ICU, and put him in a Regular People Hospital Room. Whoopee! That means progress.

They also decided it was time to run him through a pretty extensive series of tests, where they needed him conscious enough to answer questions again. So he was definitely not as comfortable today. But the minute they finished, they medicated him back up. Good.

He's going to be there another 10 days to two weeks, they think. The docs say he's progressing as he should.

Moving out of ICU? Excellent! That looks like Evidence, to me.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

A Pretty Present

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I've been wandering around in a sort of funk, lately. Carl's accident. And, Walter's still out on the road. I may have killed my beloved lignum vitae tree, moving it. Plus...just this sense I've been feeling, that uneasy feeling of a disturbance in the force. Our force, here in the blogosphere.

Friday was payday, so I went about on my errands as usual. I've been way low on energy and it takes me much longer to recover, these days, from a busy day out on errands. All day Saturday I kept falling asleep in my office chair. It's not a disaster, no. But bed is better. Got the CPAP there, all that.

Walter would call me. --Are you asleep in your chair again? --Yes. --Okay. Go to bed now. It's better to sleep in bed if you can. --Okay. I'll go now before I fall asleep here again.

And then I'd wake up hours later, to answer the phone - Walter calling me again as I slept in my office chair...

This morning I woke up in daylight and didn't know what day it was. Monday? I knew I'd finally made it to bed at some dark o'thirty time, after sleeping almost 24 hours in my chair.

No! Still Sunday. Good! I can play in the yard. It's the weekend, I don't have to be responsible today.

All this sleeping business must be why I missed the box.

There was a box, sitting right outside my front door. One of those very interesting looking boxes one gets from time to time...if one is lucky, anyway.

And what was inside this box?

A present!!!

For ME?!?

A beautiful Pretty Lady mug!

I did NOT expect this. I am tickled pink.

Thank you, Nancy!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Still in ICU, But Out of the Woods

Thank you all so much for your prayers and good wishes. I know how much they helped me; Walter's been passing them along to his family out there too, and they appreciate it. It's way past my bedtime, but I wanted to give you a brief update before I hit the sack.

Carl's been upgraded from critical. That's big. He's still in ICU and very heavily sedated. They're going to keep him semi-comatose for a few more days. But he's out of the woods, they say; they don't foresee any big setbacks.

Walter heard some more about the accident. Carl was driving a little tin-can type car made in Slovakia, where they all live. The car that hit him? It was a big ol' hunk of SUV.

So the reason he was broken so badly wasn't just from his car door pushing into him and cracking up on the lamppost. The SUV's grill was up so high, the vehicle itself whammed into the man through his window. Thus the devastating fractures in his shoulder and ribs.

His wife, Anne, Walter's oldest daughter, took one look at their car and never wants to see it again. Seeing the door pushed all the way past the gear shift was as much as she could handle.

Carl's total recovery time will be 6-8 months. There will be lots of physical therapy, of course, especially for his shoulder. He'll probably lose about 20% of its function.

Walter tells me it was separated, rather than simply dislocated. I didn't know there was a difference. Apparently, a simple dislocation means they just pop it back in. When it's separated, it tears up all the ligaments and tendons and cartilage and muscle tissue as it's wrenched way far out. That needs surgery, sometimes a series of surgeries, to repair.

In our family, we tend to get shoulder surgery; we have hereditary problems with impingement on the shoulder tendon. It's similar to rotator cuff surgery. Walter had this done too, from an injury.

The PT lasts forever, and it's brutal. But if you don't do it, the scar tissue builds and ruins all the work the surgeons did. So we all really feel for the man on this - it sounds like he has 100 times the damage we're used to seeing, in our own mundane shoulder problems.

Anne's doing much better now. She's back to her usual calm and efficient self...or as much as anyone could be, I guess.

I'll keep you up to date. I didn't want to leave you hanging. Reading other blogs, I know how maddening that can be.

He really will be fine. I'm still a little shook up, thinking about it all, but overall, I'm just so relieved. That little Ex-Step-Grandson will have his daddy at home with him for a while.

Somehow, even knowing how much pain Carl will be in, and how immobilized he'll be - I have this feeling that Carl and little Walter will be very good for each other as he recovers.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Too Much Sorrow

I can see that bouquet did some good, there. This disturbance in the force is pretty pervasive, isn't it. But we'll get through. We always do.

Now I'm sending the bouquet out once again, this time to a little country in Europe. And I hope you all can send your prayers, your positive energies and good thoughts, out there too.

This one is for Walter's daughter, A. She's the one who had the wonderful little grandbaby they named after Walter. My ex-step grandson.

Even more, this one is for her husband, Carl.

Carl was driving home from work today. He was sitting at a big intersection, waiting for the light to turn from red to green. It did. He drove on.

And was promptly t-boned at high speed, right on the driver's side. The impact thrust the door halfway through the front seat, up to the stick shift, smashing Carl's body to pieces.

His car smacked head-on into a lamppost. The front end of the car shoved into him, breaking his leg.

The airbags deployed, saving him from head injury. This was a very, very good thing.

It took six hours of surgery to put him back together. Luckily, he was near a major hospital with a fine trauma center. Walter knew the second-in-command in Surgery, from when Walter was the administrator of the country's only cancer hospital. So he was able to keep close tabs on things over the phone.

Carl's injuries were:

Collapsed lung
Shattered collarbone
Several shattered ribs
Broken femur, compound fracture (where the bone comes out of the skin)
Dislocated shoulder - ligaments etc. all torn up
Shattered spleen

After 6 hours of surgery, they say he'll be okay. He will survive. He'll need about 2 weeks in the hospital, then he'll start rehab. They'll see how he recovers and then decide whether to put him in the rehab hospital or send him home for recovery.

His lung is reinflated, and it's fine now, working well. Chances are he had to get a chest tube, which if you've ever seen it done, you'll know this is a horribly painful procedure. His collarbone was broken into a billion pieces, and took forever to pin back together. The shattered ribs took a long time too. The shoulder will need a lot of future work. The rotator cuff is all messed up, lots of ligaments and such are torn up.

The femur was, at least, a clean break, and he didn't bleed out from the femoral artery, which is wonderful. However, talk to someone like me about a compound fracture and we get the willies. That's a real good way to get infected, having your bone exposed to the air.

The spleen they just took out, like they do. You can live without it, it's done all the time; but it's part of your immune system, something you'd rather hang on to if you can.

He's extremely lucky to be alive.

His wife is a very strong woman. She's been through a great deal, and handled it with poise and grace and dignity.

But this?

She went to pieces, some. She wanted her daddy there. She asked if Walter could come.

And he can't go. No passport and no money.

I burst into tears at this.

She's better now. Carl is out of surgery, and she's staying at the hospital with him for now. She's better, she's calmer now.

These folks have had more sorrow by their early thirties than many people experience at twice their age. They are resilient.

They'll be all right. They'll bounce back. They always do.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Sending Flowers...

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I've been feeling a little sad lately, and not always sure why. It's not depression or my health, it's something different. At the same time, my energy level has been way weak, and I'm slow. Slow to do even those things I love the best - like keep up with my fave bloggers.

I read around my favorite places when I can. And the last several days, trying (slowly!) to check in with everyone, I realized that traffic was way down everywhere.

In winter that always happens. Add in the incredibly bad weather so many of you have been living through, and I can see why traffic overall would drop even more.

But as I traveled about, I saw something different: a whole lot of bloggers are having difficult times. Losses and illnesses and bad fears everywhere, it seems. Like a couple commenters have said, it's like there's a disturbance in the force.

So I collected up all the blooming orchids I could bring inside, and took a picture of them. There are only four in bloom right now, but they're pretty ones.

I'm sending you all a virtual bouquet. I certainly may be missing a few of you. If so, please know my heart is still on your side, and I probably simply haven't heard your troubles yet. Let me know, if you like. I'm here for you.

This is for Artemis, Bane and his little daughter Nat, LL, Claudia, Jack, Kirsten - who's been having an incredibly hard time - Nancy, Pepek, Jean, Cindi, Jan, Granny J, doom, John, and kat.

I'm sorry to see so much loss and sadness and strife in your lives. Now I think I understand why I've been feeling sad. I hope things look up, and you all feel better soon.

Tricolor Buckmoth

Some of you may remember the Io moth adventures from a year or two back. These beautiful caterpillars and moths provided me with no end of amusement. (I love bugs. I'm lucky that way.)

I got them when they were wee babies, all orange and huddled together; they grew big and strong and green, very pretty, with stinging spines that nabbed me more than once. Io moths have a silly-looking habit of traipsing about in a nose-to-tail line. They munched down orchid tree leaves, stinging me here and there when I wasn't paying close enough attention to how I handled them.

They pupated - first spinning cocoons, as all moths do. And then they hatched, over and over, in the home office. There was a beautiful array of adult males and females, and they were the reddish Florida subspecies I was hoping for. We bonded: they'd sit unafraid on my hand for hours. I got a gazillion pix before letting them go outside, to begin their life cycle all over again.

Desert Cat was overrun with stinging caterpillars several months ago. I wondered what they were, of course. He had some nice pix of the caterpillars - and of the awful welts their stings caused on his hands, too.

It looks like pupa hatching time has arrived. Since I couldn't make enough progress on the caterpillars to identify them, I was thrilled to see pix of an adult moth.

I think I finally may have identified our little friend. It looks like it's a tricolor buckmoth. Hemileuca tricolor, Buck and Io Moths Subfamily, Family: Wild Silk Moths (Saturniidae).

See the subfamily? You may be interested to note that buckmoths are kissing cousin to...the Io moths!

Yes indeed. My own little friends of old are close relatives of Desert Cat's stinging caterpillars.

At first I thought DC's guy might be a Palo Verde buckmoth, Hemileuca juno. The caterpillar looks quite similar, and of course, it also eats palo verde, just like DC's did. Then I finally saw a pic of the adult, which is nearly black. Nope.

Here's some more nice H. tricolor images (scroll down to 7727W) and info.

There really are some very pretty buckmoths out there. Check out this one, Nuttal's.

Io Moths

Here's the little orange wee babies, all hanging out together for camoflage.

A few of the caterpillars got loose and pupated in odd this one, in my camera case.

A male and a female hatched at the same time and sat here companionably.


Sunday, February 10, 2008

Wake Up Cats In Action

Desert Cat posted more fun pix from the lolcats.

I loved both of these. Well, heck. I love all of them.

But Alarm Clock Cat? That one put me in mind of my April.

funny picturesmoar funny pictures

I had two cats in my life, as an adult. They lasted an extra long time, so I never needed any more.

I got April, a beautiful tortoiseshell, in Tampa in 1983. She was born April 1st. We met when she was five weeks old, and she came home with me a week later. She lived until August 2002 - 19 1/2 years.

In 1984, in late July, her four kittens were born. One was BabyCat. I kept him. The other three were given away before they were even born.

April was a very sweet and loving cat. They both were. But my BabyCat didn't have much of a sense of humor, and April clearly did.

Good thing, too.

In her heedless youth, she had a brief but memorable career as an Alarm Clock Cat.

She was a little girl still, around a year old. I was 25, in college, and Babycat was not yet born.

April had certain moves she enjoyed making. One I called BOING. If you've spent any time around cats, you've probably seen a cat do this one. They take a running start, make a flying leap high in the air, and POW!, land back down with all four paws close together. Like the Alarm Clock Cat, rather than the Christmas cat up there.

My Little April Girl would also do it as she walked along, with no running head start. She'd be walking or trotting around and suddenly elevate herself several feet in the air, straight up, then land back down on all four paws again, BOING! Just for the sheer joy of it.

Sometimes she'd check to see if I noticed, then pretend she wasn't looking. Or she'd kind of giggle at me, then hold her head high and trot back along again.

She had a wonderful little trick gait sometimes. Her paws would sort of flip lightly back as she trotted. It looked just like Fred Flintstone when he'd levitate with happiness and twinkle his toes in the air. I thought of it as her *twinkletoes* bit.

That was extremely sweet to watch.

However: When she wasn't quite old enough to know better, she took to doing the BOING thing on my stomach, as I lay on my back reading or studying or resting.

This was great fun for her, but certainly unwise. My stern advice to that effect went unheeded.

One fine day, April also decided that 4:30 am was an excellent time for breakfast.

Unfortunately for her, I was still in that PTSD hyper-vigilance state. One consequence is, a person reacts with lightning speed in self-defense, and asks questions later.

So. Sound asleep I was, that fateful early morning. April BOING'd on my belly, and my split-second reaction was to scoop her up and fling her away from me.

She hit the wall around eye level, about 4 feet away, and slowly slid down the wall to the floor.

By then I realized what happened, and leaped out of bed to her side. OMG!!! My poor girl! What have I DONE?!?!

She was fine, thank God. A little dazed. She instantly forgave me.

But she never did that again.

And for the rest of her life, if she was doing something naughty, I'd tell her: --April! Remember the day I taught you how to fly?

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Wednesday, February 06, 2008


Last night I did our income taxes. They were exceptionally simple this year.

I've almost always done all our taxes. The one exception was when we filed our business tax returns for our shipping business. That was an S corp (aka *sub s corp* or *subchapter s corp,* etc.). An s corp is a flow-through corporation. It's a sort of corporate form of sole proprietorship. The corporation itself pays no taxes. Only the owners do.

This nice little vehicle gives you protection from personal liability for corporate acts, while avoiding the double-taxation other forms of corporate ownership usually impose: first by paying corporate income taxes; then, as you receive and report your earnings via corporate dividends, paying personal income taxes on the dividends. An s corp generally gets to skip the first step. No corporate taxes are due. It's basically just an informational return.

Neat trick, huh?

I've owned a number of small businesses throughout my life. Usually those went under Schedule C, Self-Employed individuals. Your basic sole proprietorship. I've done income averaging (remember that?), net loss carrybacks and carryforwards, capital gains and losses, depreciation and amortization, ordinary stuff like moving expenses and employee business expenses, yada yada yada...No prob. Filed them all, I did, and never paid an accountant. Even before I got a degree in finance.

The only one that defeated me was the one where no taxes were supposed to be paid at all. That damn s corp just made me throw my hands up in the air, slam my files shut, and pay a highway robbery fee of $600/year to an accountant - when I provided all the numbers pre-crunched on Quickbooks!

So the nice simple taxes of today are rather pleasant, all told.

I like doing taxes. It's kinda peaceful. I like to read the little example stories in the instruction publications. I don't roam far afield these days, so I end up reading the same little stories year after year. Is it a business trip or not? Say Mr. and Mrs. Sloan go to Memphis. Mrs. Sloan has a business meeting; Mr. Sloan goes along for the ride. They share a hotel room, which costs an extra $8/night for double occupancy. On the way home they swing by Mr. Sloan Sr.'s house for a visit, adding another 382 miles to their drive...

and then I want to see if they updated this damn story, I think I've been reading the exact same one in 2004 2005 2006 2007, don't they ever change these things, liven them up a little? huh.

As a former federal bureaucrat, I enjoy a good dose of GovSpeak here and there, too. So I gave up on finding any new stories among the usual suspects last night, and moseyed over to a different part of the playlist.


Meal per diems! Lodging! Incidentals!

As an interstate trucker, Walter gets a countrywide Transportation Industry Worker Subject to DOT Hours of Operation meal rate of $52/day. If he were not an interstate trucker, he might be unhappy with the small-town per diem of $39/day. He might wish to peruse his Actual Cities Visited, to plug in the higher major metro area per diems where ever he could.

Same would go for lodging. Naturally.

For those figures, we must leave the IRS site and go to the GSA (General Services Administration) site. Those are the good folks who give us things like per diems in the first place.

I'm sure it would be a comfort, then, to know this:

As in FY 07, GSA still uses:
-Only "fire safe" properties;
-Properties that fall within the mid-price range. This range includes all properties from the lowest to the highest of the mid-price, upper and upper-upscale properties in an area;
-Data from the prior 12-month period. For FY 08, this is from April 2006 through March 2007;
-Business travel week data (Monday through Thursday); and
-Ceilings and floors.

I think it was the *Ceilings and floors* line that really got me. Bad.

Monday, February 04, 2008


I was out in yard much of Sunday, trying to finish everything I could while it was still almost January.

Why? Because the tree pollen can start pouring out any time now. Once that happens, I can no longer freely move about outside until next year. January's about it, these days.

I've been ever so smug the past few months, as my family and neighbors and docs have looked in my face and said, --Wow. Your eyes look so different. What happened? They aren't, like, purple and swollen shut. I forgot that's how you used to look.--

and I'd say, --It's all because of being away for so long last summer. Sure I still got sick sometimes, but that overpowering knock-down can't-get-out-of-bed reaction? Nope. Only a day here and there. So I stayed much healthier all around. Even when I got home, I didn't have nearly as far to recover. I wasn't hugely ramped up with massive amounts of histamine doing battle with me.

I woke up Monday morning to go do some bloods, and looked in the mirror. Whoa! Allergy eyes again. I groggily got ready to leave, and an AT&T jerk started banging on my door. Loud and hard, twice. Hey, jerk. I'm slow, okay? He wanted access to the back yard. Sure, gate's open, no dog, just go.

He smirked because I looked like he'd gotten me out of bed at 10:30 am. No. This is how I look so-called awake, fool. Don't go banging so loud and hard where people may be sick, once is enough...but, of course, how would he guess I might be sick or disabled?

and I walked out the door, and felt that old familiar punch in the face.

Yup. It's time.

Well, despite various boo-boos and the lung infection, I still got a lot done during the *good* time. And I'll certainly be back outside a lot. It'll just take a little more planning and flexibility.

And it'll probably help a lot to switch back to the night shift.

In the meantime, I'll try to remember to be patient with AT&T jerks. They're just working for a living. Yeah, they're walking on air now they ate up BellSouth, feeling hugely vindicated about the Ma Bell breakup in the 1970's and 1980's. Made good at last, they think. They'll get over it. I hate AT&T, and one day I'll tell you all why. But for now? Let it be.

I don't like to smooth out life's rough edges. Pretending that reality is different than it is makes me feel uneasy and unsafe.

I know that for many, it's exactly the opposite. For them, in my experience? Their efforts to make things nicer than they are don't help them. They seem to retain an underlying anxiety. Life experiences tend to surprise them still, over and over, when it would seem they'd have learned by now that certain people will behave in certain ways; or that specific events and actions tend to have specific consequences...and that much of this is predictable.

I understand they're trying to relieve the pain of life's harsher moments. To each their own. Of course. But let's choose effective methods. I just don't think prettying up reality is the best way to do it.

I'd rather grow flowers.

That way? Sometimes life kicks sand in my eyes.

But sometimes my orchids bloom.

The orchid on the left is a classic sort of orchid flower. It's a shape and color lots of people would recognize as *An orchid.*

A few days later, the other two buds have opened. I like this pic because the two sets of flowers are sort of looking at each other.

Emo flowers!

And the flower on the right? That's an orchid tree flower. Are they orchids? No. Lots of people, even down here, don't realize that. It's called an orchid tree because the flowers look like orchids - not because they are.

I like to amuse myself with little horticultural jokes. Like putting lots of my orchids around the orchid tree.

It's a perfect place for them. Really. Dappled sunshine, a breeze, good rain access, easy to water if I must...Close to the front door, so they're easy for me to admire...

And fun.

In January lots of stuff blooms around my yard. Like this queen's wreath (petrea volubilis). A few days ago, it had one or two flowers open. Now it's covered in them.

And they're blue.

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Saturday, February 02, 2008