Sunday, May 30, 2010

St. Louis---WOW!

This week Jesse and I went on a road trip to check out St. Louis. I had been there once before, at a professional continuing education course, but on that trip, I spent all day in the course, and tried out my luck at the riverboat casinos at night. So I didn't really see much of the city on that trip. So we spent a couple of days trying to see as much as we could. I wish I had taken more pictures of neighborhoods and street scenes, but, given our mobility problems, we weren't able to do much walking.

We went to Forest Park, which has SO many free and interesting attractions. We toured the Missouri History Museum, which had a fascinating exhibit about Charles Lindbergh.

A unique attraction in the park is the Jewel Box, a lovely Art Deco greenhouse built by the WPA in 1936.

Jesse, of course, wanted to pose on the spiral staircase of the Jewel Box.

We took the Metrolink to the famous Arch of St. Louis. I would have liked to take some photos of the stations and platforms, but, of course, that's a big security no-no.

And, lest we forget...

Jesse took the ride to the top of the Arch, but, with my fear of heights, I was quite satisfied to explore the exhibits at the base.

As it turned out, nature provided its own impressive arch after a thunderstorm late in the day.

We took a look at some houses. St. Louis has wonderful, historical houses, with a great variety of architectural styles. Unfortunately many homes have decayed and many have been razed in some neighborhoods, but quite a few have been rehabbed. I really liked this duplex!

I'm looking forward to a return trip in the near future.

Monday, May 17, 2010

My mobile garden

Last summer I was standing in line in the garden center of Walmart, when I struck up a conversation with the woman behind me. I was admiring her flowers and she started explaining that they were an addition to her "Square Foot Garden." "Have you heard of square foot gardening?" she asked. When I indicated that I hadn't, she began explaining the main tenets of SFG, with the ardent passion of a true believer.

I kept meaning to look into it, but only got around to it this spring. I checked out the SFG website and ordered the SFG book from Amazon. I got all fired up and ready to go, but there was one BIG problem. The typical square foot garden is built 9 to 16 square feet...a small space, right? But I literally do not have 9 square feet that get sufficient sunshine all day, much less all summer. With about 25 trees on my lot, and given the ever-changing position of the sun, every promising spot eventually winds up in total shade.

Spurred on by the thought of eating a homegrown tomato, I began to consider possible solutions. Maybe I could make it smaller, maybe I could make it portable...voila, the Mobile Square Foot Garden!

As the Beatles sang, "I'll follow the sun." As the sun moves north and then south during the summer, I can relocate my garden as necessary to try to keep it in as much sunshine as possible.

So I managed to make two squares for tomatoes and one for green beans.

Hoping for a bountiful harvest!

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Mother's Day 2010

"The bitterest tears shed over graves are for words left unsaid and deeds left undone."
Harriet Beecher Stowe

This is my first Mother's Day without you, Mother. And I have shed many bitter tears in the last two months. As painful as your last weeks and days were, I was grateful for the opportunity to tell you much that was in my heart. Yet every day, I think of something I wish I had told you, something I wish I had done.

Thank you for the countless things you did for me: sewing all my clothes, leading my Scout troop, sending me to camp, saving to send me to college, etc. There are literally too many things to list, but I remember something different every day.

Thank you for all you taught me: right and wrong, responsibility, to have high expectations for myself and to do my best, to be considerate of others, to think for myself. You can rest assured that if Debbie stuck her head in a hot oven, I wouldn't do it, too.

I wish I had appreciated much earlier in my life how much you had overcome, how much you had sacrificed, how strong you were. You occasionally referred to "during the Depression" or "during the War" or "when I was away at school," but it was only in the last months of your life that I learned of some of the hardships you endured. After Dad died, in spite of your visual impairment, and even after your stroke, you fought to stay independent.

And lastly I wish I had made all of those other Mother's Days more special for you. I know that you didn't care a bit about presents. What you enjoyed most of all was my company. I wish I hadn't been so concerned whether my own children would honor or insult me on that day, and had focused on honoring you.

So today, dear Mother, you may not be here in body, but you are always with me.

“All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.
Abraham Lincoln

Friday, May 07, 2010

Housing crisis hits home, new direction, etc.

Well, the housing crisis has finally hit home here. A few weeks ago I got a check for about $1000 from my mortgage company, refunding overpayment into myescrow account. I was so pleased at this unexpected windfall, I didn't think about the ramifications of the overpayment. When I got my statement from the county tax assessor this week, I realized that this was not a cause for celebration. The valuation of my house declined about $40,000 in the past year! Now it was over-valued in the past, considering all the rehab and repairs it needs, but this was quite a shocker. It is now valued at the price I paid for 1993.

I finally took the first step on my path to a new career yesterday by signing up for an online course in psychosocial rehabilitation. I plan on taking three courses offered by Boston University, and another two offered by St Lawrence College in Canada. Hopefully I will then be able to pass the exam to become a Certified Psychiatric Rehabilitation Practioner, and by the time the training and certification is complete, I will have had some effective treatment to relieve my spinal problems enough so that I can work at least part-time.

We're looking forward to our trip to Colorado in June, but I have to say that so far, our weather here has been fairly mild. And this is that wonderful time of year when I walk out my back door and the air is fragrant with the heavy sweet smell of honeysuckle, and I walk out the front door and am greeted with the heavenly aroma of jasmine. Texas at its best, in a very brief window of time.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Another year

Friday we celebrated Gabriel's 24th birthday. We went to Texas Roadhouse for dinner and then yesterday we had red velvet cake from our favorite bakery (the same cake we had on most of Gabriel's birthdays---see above) and the presents. In recent years, Gabriel has asked for clothes and he always comments on the irony that, when he was a kid, he never thought he'd be asking for clothes on birthdays and Christmas! For me, the biggest reason to celebrate this year was that it has been a whole year since Gabriel and I have made a trip to the ER.