Saturday, December 24, 2011

Annual Holiday Letter

Solstice 2011

Dear Family & Friends –

“All is calm, all is bright.” These famous lyrics just about sums up my year, thank goodness!

The beginning of the year found me still in the healing process from events in 2010 and adjusting to my new life in Georgia. One bright day in February I woke up and thought, “Hey, I am a pretty happy woman!” That thought still is true today.

In January I adopted my second dog, Oliver. Found wandering my subdivision on a cold night between Christmas and New Year’s, Oliver was dirty and thin, but had a bright spirit. He joined Sam and me and they quickly became best doggie friends. Oliver (the brown dog in the photos) is around 4 years old and I’m pretty sure a pure bred Shih Tzu, but he might have a little mix of something else thrown in Oliver and Sam keep me entertained 24/7. Sam is smart and active. Oliver . . . well, let’s just say Oliver is pretty laid back!

Spring brought travel and guests. I spent Easter in Mesa, AZ visiting with my friend, Nancy and my sister, Linda. One highlight was meeting my second cousin, Nate, a student at Arizona State University. The last time I saw Nate he was about six weeks old. Obviously, he looks a little different! LOL He is a great young man. It was good to see his mom, Kay, too.

March brought Martha for a visit. Unfortunately, it rained her whole visit, but we had a good time despite the weather. April brought my friend, David, down for a week. David got a kick out of the “southern accent.” I was so happy to show him my new “digs.” In May my friend, Kate, came for a few days. We didn’t have much time, but enjoyed shopping in Blue Ridge and great conversation. So, a lot of sightseeing was packed in these visits! And, when each friend left my house felt very, very quiet.

In June I started working for the Sequoyah Regional Library System at the local branch as a Research Assistant. It is a fabulous part time job for me. I love working in a library, enjoy the patrons and my co-workers are great. I average 15-18 hours a week and the money has really come in handy. I am so fortunate to have this job. I love going to work!

Martha came down again in October. This time the weather cooperated and we enjoyed some hikes and the beautiful fall scenery in the mountains. I discovered some beautiful roads and areas to explore. She also gave me a book on hiking trails in northern Georgia so I expect her to visit again this spring and we will put the book to good use.

Thanksgiving brought Sally here for nine days. Amy joined us and a great Thanksgiving was spent with Suzanne, Marlon and Paul. I loved having them here. We had fun cooking and talking, and talking and talking. A couple of weeks later, gal pal, Miki, stopped in for a few hours while she was here at a work related meeting. Trying to catch up on a year is always difficult in such a short time and I hope next year when Miki comes down we have more time.

I am having fun doing activities with several MeetUp groups. We went horseback riding twice this year, something I didn’t expect to enjoy as much as I did. I am considering some lessons this spring. My monthly women’s book discussion group has led to some wonderful friendships. I just joined another women’s group via MeetUp, where once a month we meet at a restaurant in the greater Atlanta area. Another way to meet people and learn the area. I am also on my subdivision’s pool and grounds committee. I am fortunate to live in a subdivision with so many great neighbors. I love living here in my subdivision, town and state. Moving to Georgia was the best decision I ever made.

Winter Solstice will be spent having bunion removal surgery on my left foot. Not exactly the way I want to spend one of my favorite days. It is elective surgery, but one that has to be done. I expect to be in a “boot” for around four weeks and will miss two weeks of work.

Peace and gratitude are two words that come to mind when I think of 2011. So much gratitude. I hope your year was filled with the same. May the returning light of this most holy time of the year bring you peace and gratitude now and throughout the New Year.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Autograph Quilt

Moving from my life long home of Milwaukee in 2010, I left a lot of friends behind.  But, some of my friends had already moved from Milwaukee long before me and over the years I have made friends in other states and countries, as well.

No matter where they are or where I am, I miss my friends.  I've made some great friends here in Georgia and I do not mean to sound like I am slighting them, but lately I've been missing people not only in Wisconsin, but all over.  Anne in Ireland, Beth in Florida, Nancy in Arizona, Nikki in California, Sally, Becky and Miki in Michigan. 

So, I decided to make an autograph quilt.  These quilts were probably originally made for people in pioneer days who left family to travel by covered wagon to the western states.  Love ones would sign scraps of fabric and these pieces would be put together and made into a quilt for the families leaving.  Chances were that you would never see these loved ones again and maybe never have any further communication with them.  These quilts were treasured as a way to remember family and friends.

Historically, another way autograph quilts were used was for fund raising.  Community groups would solicit famous people for their autographs and make autograph quilts to be raffled off to fund the building of schools or libraries.

Well, my quilt won't be that noble.  I just feel it would be a nice way to have my friends around me!

I went online to find an autograph quilt pattern and did find one I like.  It is a "star" pattern.  I decided on a black and white quilt.  The stars will either be black floral on a white background or white floral on a black background.  I might do a red inner border to make it pop.  The sample shows an inner border  with half square triangles as the outer border alternating the two floral fabrics.  It was also important to find fabric that I liked, but was not too flowery for the men who will be signing it!  I will make sure they get the darker fabric (see sample below).

I just started sending out quilt squares to my friends far and wide.  Along with  the squares are special quilt pens and a letter explaining the concept.  Hopefully, they will embrace the idea and honor me with their signatures, words, drawings or whatever they want to put on the little piece of material.  Many friends will not receive their square until after the holidays.  I don't want anything to get lost in the holiday mail frenzy or set aside by a friend who is too busy to sit down and complete their part of the project.

I was able to have my friend, Miki, sign a square when she was here a few weeks ago. I quickly sewed it into the first block!  One down, twenty-four more to go (more or less).  Several of my church ladies are meeting soon, so a bunch of squares were sent to Joanne and she will make sure they are signed and returned. 
Miki wishes me peace, love and happiness

This will be one of my many winter quilt projects.  I'm so looking forward to seeing what my friends write on the squares!  But, no matter what they write, I know that this will be the  best and most cherished quilt I will ever make.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Fall Visitors

In October my gal pal, Martha, came to visit.  This time the weather cooperated and we spent a lot of time outside.  Did some hiking, saw some waterfalls and just had a very nice visit.  Martha bought me a book on the hiking trails of north Georgia.  It's a hint!  Hopefully, she will be back down in spring and we will put the book to good use!

Martha & me.
 November brought Sally.  Returning from Puerto Rico where she had been caring for her mother for six months, she spent the first couple days resting.  That's OK - I had to work and I came home to wonderful meals!  Amy joined us on Tuesday and we all spent Thanksgiving with my sister, brother-in-law and nephew. 

Amy, me and Sally, Thanksgiving 2011
The following weekend brought Miki for a 4-hour visit.  Miki was down for a work related conference and she stopped in for a much too short visit.  Hopefully, next year she will stay a little longer!

I love having visitors and it's always sad when they leave.  My house seems empty and for a day or two I tend to wander around aimlessly. 

Not sure who will show up in 2011, but all my friends are more than welcome!  Come on down!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Adopting Animals

A friend of my lost her beloved cat last summer.  She deeply mourned her cat.  I can understand this.  I lost my dogs, Lucy Lou and Gracie in August 2010, within three weeks of each other.  Both were "rescued" dogs.  I had sweet Lucy Lou about 5 years and I had my Gracie over 10 years.  I still miss them.  I still cry over my Gracie.  I can understand her feelings of loss.

Now she is ready to open her heart to a new kitty.  She went to a local shelter and they charged $105 for adoption fees.  This did not include having the cat neutered or spayed.  She balked at paying that price.  She went on Facebook and complained about the high price for a cat.

Now, I have strong feelings about adopting animals for shelters and/or rescue groups.  My Sam came from a "pound" (Cherokee County Humane Society) and he was the best $75 I ever spent.  Oliver, too, came from the Cherokee County Animal Shelter (via being found wondering in my subdivision).  I paid $125 for him (well worth every penny).  Both were checked out by the shelter's vet and were neutered as part of the fee.  The adoption fee also included a free vet check up from a selected group of vets in my area.  The place I got Sam from included a "chip" in his shoulder and a one year membership to Home Again, the organization that keeps track of the dogs with chips. So, a lot was included in their fees.  And, I appreciate that.

So, what's the point here?

Probably 99% of all shelters are run on a "wing and a prayer."  They depend on tons of dedicated volunteers and tons of fund raisers and little money from the municipality or county they are located in.  These volunteers spend hundreds of hours on behalf of the animals they serve.  Their costs for adoption vary and they are all struggling to survive.

Tanya's Henry. 
 My friend, Tanya, is one of these volunteers.  When I first met her after moving to Georgia, Tanya was fondly known in my subdivision as the "puppy lady."  Besides her own dog, Henry, Tanya would foster litters of puppies.  Sometimes she had as many as 6-8 puppies.  She supplied the food, the toys, the bowls they ate out of (and chewed), the towels and rugs used to keep them warm.  She clean up after them and made sure they here happy pups.  Plus, she paid for cleaning those rugs and towels (her own washer and dryer).  She named every single one of them and watched their littler personalities develop as they grew.  She took them to the vet.  She would bathe each one before taking them to and from the adoption places.  All on her own time.  All of her own money.  Tanya probably fostered 5 or 6 litters.  Now she is working part time and due to time constraints has only two dogs she is fostering, plus the occasional one that needs an immediate home.  This is dedication and this is love of animals.

My friend who is looking for  a kitty to adopt is a kind and loving woman.  I know she will take wonderful care of a new kitty.  But, I guess my point is - if you can't afford or if you need to complain about the  $105 adoption fee and then pay for a vet visit and spaying/neutering, maybe you can't afford to have a pet.  In my opinion, it is a small price to pay for the love a cat or dog gives you for years and years to come.  Plus, you are helping hundreds of other animals survive and find loving homes. You're helping the animal shelters stay open and you are helping the volunteers who work for these shelters by taking some of the financial burden off of them (although they very rarely get reimbursed for any thing and most wouldn't take the money if offered). 

I figured out I probably spend at close to $1,000 a year on my dogs.  This includes annual visit to the vet, various shots, heart worm prevention meds for both, the occasional trip to the vet for an unexpected illness (I spent around $750 on surgeries for Sam this year which increased the yearly cost), food, leashes, collars, treats, beds, pet sitting costs and other miscellaneous expenses. 

$105 for adoption fees? 

Sam and Oliver being lazy
A small price to pay for years of love and devotion.

Monday, October 10, 2011

What I Miss About Milwaukee

I will never move back to Wisconsin.  I love Georgia and am settling in just fine.  But I spent my first 55 years in Milwaukee and it is my home town.  And, there are a lot of things I miss about the place.  Mainly I miss my family and friends still there. That's a given.  But here are a few other things I miss - most I really never thought about until I moved away:

Racks of yummies at National Bakery
 Bakeries.  When I lived in Bay View they were every where.  Milwaukee has a lot of corner, local bakeries and they are wonderful.  Oh - the breads!  Stopping in on the way to work to grab a donuts or even a couple dozen to bring in as treats.  Roma's, near my house in Bay View, had the best homemade potato salad.  Yes, some carried more than just cakes, pies, breads and other wonderful sweet treats.  I miss 'em.

And, on that note, I miss going to my local bakery for hot ham and rolls on a Sunday morning.  This tradition goes back to when I was a girl and my father would pick up a coffee cake and hot ham and rolls on a Sunday morning.  Yum.  Coffee cake before church and hot ham and rolls after church.  Or both before and after.  On my own this was a great treat five or six times a year.  Potato rolls.  Always potato rolls. 

Beautiful Lake Michigan
Lake Michigan.  I really never spent a lot of time on the lake front.  However, the last year I lived in Milwaukee I made a point to drive home from work along Lake Drive at least every other week.  Since I lived in southeast Milwaukee and worked in northwest Milwaukee, this included driving down Silver Spring to Lake Drive, along where all of the beautiful mansions and large, old houses are. 

Even in winter the lake is beautiful
Seeing Lake Michigan in all different weather was something.  Rain and snow - gray, huge waves that when over the break waters.  Sunny and blue skies - the light reflecting off the water and sail boats dotting the horizon.  I also miss the weather forecast "lake effect."

I won't mention the calories included 
 a true Milwaukee fish fry.
The obvious.  Fish fries on Friday nights.  With potato pancakes and apple sauce.  Nothing like it.

I miss Bay View (a very old neighborhood of Milwaukee where I lived in my 120 year old house).  While I love my subdivision and being out of the "hood" I miss the convenience of Bay View.  I could walk to a bakery, grocery store, library, great restaurants, little funky stores, etc.  I miss the church bells of St. Augustine, two blocks away.  I really miss those church bells.

St. Augustine's c. 1908, still looks the same, bells and all
 My pretty back yard.  I am struggling with plantings in my back yard here in Georgia.  My back yard in Milwaukee was beautiful.  But, I have to remember it took me 3-4 years (out of the 11 in my house) to get it looking decent, so I just have to be patient here.  But, puttering in my garden and hearing the church bells was awesome.

Frozen custard is NOT ice cream.  Oh, God - it is so good!

Frozen custard.  Leon's, Gilles, Laducs.  Need I say more? 

Milwaukee and surrounding areas was mapped out on a grid.  It was EASY to find places if you knew the address and the direction, i.e. north, south, east and west.  And, you could basically get anywhere in 30 minutes.  All the way across town.  Sigh.  Not here.

I can't even cout the number of times I
have been to the lakefront on July 3rd for the
 Going down to the lakefront with a million other people to see the fireworks.  A huge Milwaukee tradition.  Much better than sitting in an empty parking lot.  Even better - being on a boat on Lake Michigan and watching the fireworks.  Nothing like it.

Beautiful lobby of the Pfister
Brunch at the Pfister Hotel.  A true Milwaukee gem, the brunch is excellent and elegant and one of my very favorite things to do on a Sunday morning.  A real treat. I love the Pfister, Bleu and the piano bar.

There are more things I miss, but these are the main things.  Like I said, I will not move back to Milwaukee, but I do miss it.  Sometimes.  From May - October.  Never in winter. 

Who would ever miss this?

Friday, October 07, 2011

Red Work Quilt

I started quilting around four years ago.  I remember when I first when to my favorite Wisconsin quilt shop, Ye Olde Schoolhouse, for the first time.  I signed up for my first quilting lesson.  I also purchased a kit to make nine red work blocks.  Jeannie, the owner of the store, cut the muslin for me and showed me the pen I would need to trace the individual patterns onto each block.  Eventually, all blocks would be completed, sewn together and quilted.

Yeah, right.  I had no idea how much work it would be.  Although I must say, I really enjoy red work and will do more of it.  It just took forever.  Lots of quilts in between, lots of binding got in the way.

Four years later I finally finished the last block.  I squared each block, picked out material to "frame" the blocks and put it all together.  Each block is 18".

It is more of a throw size. 
It was worth the wait.

Close up of the red work
I just need to purchase the backing and it will be sent up to Wisconsin for Mary to quilt for me.

Another view (the blue is the quilt used on the bed underneath).
I love it. 

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Love of Reading (going to the dogs?)

I have always been an avid reader.  Now, I have the ideal job for me - working part time at the library.  There are so many books that cross my desk that I want to read I couldn't get to them all in my life time.  One really awesome program the library offers is Reading PAWS.  A highly trained dog (we have a lovely greyhound, Cory) comes to the library and children who are struggling with reading can read aloud to the dog for a period of time.  The dog is non-judgmental and offers a "good listener" for these kids.  How cool is that?
I believe the best thing parents can do for their children is read to them when they are young and, hopefully, install in them a love of books.  I didn't think this included dogs.   I always knew my dogs were smart fellows (while at least Sam) ,  apparently, my doggie boys are into reading, too! 

Sam is always trying to improve himself!

He is learning as much as he can about his arch enemy
in order to protect me!
According to Oliver,
"Reading is so hard!  And it makes me
really hungry!  Got any treats?"

This reading stuff is just too much work!
I would much rather nap!
Oh, well. 

He's Back!

We had a dry spell here in Georgia.  Over three weeks without any rain.  While I watered as much as I could, my plants were looking a little distressed.

Then over Labor Day weekend we finally got the rain we needed.  We also got tornado's in my county, but that is another story and I came out of it safe and sound and so were all of my friends. 

Along with the rain, out came the toads again.  I hadn't seen them in a while do to the lack of rain.  I assumed they were buried deep in their little toad holes, protected from the sun and heat during the day and eating bugs at night. 

The second day of rain I was getting ready for bed and I saw something on the threshold between my bedroom carpet going into my master bath.  Yup.  It was my friend, Mr. Toad.  (See previous post on toads.)

Now, think about this.  Mr. Toad hopped into the screened porch and across the kitchen, down a hallway, across the master bedroom and almost into the bathroom.  And, he avoided me and two dogs. 

Needless to say, after giving me a little chase (thank goodness he didn't hop under the bed) he was gently escorted back outside where he belongs.

If you believe in animal totems, this is what Lin's Domain ( has to say about the toad:

The appearance of a Toad heralds a successful time of drawing upon and using our inner resources.
Toads are associated with money and luck – especially changing your luck from bad to good.
People with a Toad totem can see things and people more clearly.
A Toad heralds the need for self-examination. Ask these questions:
Am I hesitating to act and missing opportunities?
Am I allowing fear to hinder progress?
Have I forgotten my inner strength?
A Toad totem is a representation of the Moon, and represents both Life and Death.
In alchemy, the Toad signifies the dark side of Nature.
In the ancient cultures of Mexico, the Toad symbolized the Earth.

Other websites suggest the toad symbolises inner strength and resources and time to take a "leap of faith."

Hmmm, something to think about, I guess.  I am beginning to think Mr. Toad does have a message for me.  And, he did make it into my bedroom - not the office area, quilting room or guest bedroom.  Or, maybe I'm making something out of nothing! 

In any event, I'm still not kissing a toad.  No matter where he shows up!

Monday, September 05, 2011

A Master Fit for a Queen (or Princess, whichever works!)

You may double click on each
picture to see it in a larger format
 Finally.  My master bedroom and attached bathroom are FINISHED!

My dragonfly themed quilt was truly a labor of love.  It turned out huge, but perfect.  I based everything around the room on this quilt.  It has special meaning to me and will always be one of my most treasured possessions. 

I thought the most difficult part of this room would be the quilt.  But, that proved to be the easiest.  The most difficult was painting the room.  While I love my tray ceiling with the crown molding, it was hard to paint around.  Thankfully, the best brother-in-law in the universe, Marlon, came to my rescue and painted the inner ceiling for me.  He and my nephew, Paul, painted the bathroom for me, too.  I tried to paint the ceiling and got some of it done, but it really caused havoc with my neck and shoulders.  But, the walls in the master were all painted by me.
If you look closely, you can see the two
different paint colors I used in the room. 
The color on the bed wall was also
used in the bathroom
Once I had the quilt pieced and it was sent up to Meandering Mary in Wisconsin (I knew she would do a fabulous job and she did) for quilting, it was time to pick out paint colors.  Seems like everyone who came over was asked their thoughts and all had a different opinion.  Even my dear friend, Shelley, who lives in North Canton, Ohio, had her thoughts.  And, since Shelley is great with decorating, I sent her fabric samples of the quilt.  Guess what?  She sent me color samples and I went with her suggestions for the walls.  And, she has never stepped foot in my house!  Go figure.  Anyway, the wall the bed is against along with the ceilings are painted one color (as is the bathroom) and the rest another color.  Two colors, although the light makes it feel like there are 3 or 4 different colors on the walls, depending on the time of day.

The trellis "head board" was found at a junk store shortly after I moved down here.  I love them!  Each trellis was $20 - a great deal.  The cedar chest at the foot of the bed I had in Milwaukee, as well as the antique desk.  The bridal chest on one side of the bed was my mother's and the table on the other side I purchased a few years ago and had refinished.  The little love seat I also purchased a few years ago and had reupholstered down here.  The armoire was purchased at a consignment store here in Georgia.  It is really an old TV cabinet, but it works and Marlon built me additional shelves.  My valences were made from extra material from the quilt (I have tons of all of the fabric used in the quilt) and were made by Nancy, the same lady who did the love seat.  She also made all of the pillows.  Nancy does awesome work.
Tilt mirror  (with towel bar reflected in it) along
with a little picture that was painted by
one of my mother's friends
In the bathroom I removed the huge 4' mirror and replaced it with the two tilt mirrors.  I just love these mirrors. I purchased the mirrors online and got the great price of 2 for 1.  You can find them at Home Depot or Lowe's, but I have never seen them sold at such as great price as I found.  The two light fixtures were also purchased online, at a much lower price then I found them here.  Originally, there was only one light fixture in the bathroom, which didn't make any sense as there are two sinks. 
Picture above the tub I purchased
at one of my favorite consignment
stores here in Canton
Part of the reason it took so long to complete these rooms was financial.  I had to save up money for each item purchased, revamped or reused.  Mirror and light fixtures sat in their boxes for a few months until I could afford to pay the electrician.  Money was saved up for the paint and all of the items I had made, including the beautiful fabric on the love seat and the valences.  I looked for a while for the armoire and while shopping with my friend, Misti, walked into the consignment store and we both loved it.  It does fit in perfectly.

It is a good feeling to finally have this room completed!  I love it.
Dragonfly stained glass above the tub
Armoire, which was also purchased at
my favorite consignment store!
I've had this little desk for over 25 years.
Oliver enjoys his bed underneath it!
Love seat I had recovered with pillows
I had made.  I incorporated a little purple
into the room to add interest.  The artwork
above, while you really can't see it, is a vase
with very soft flowers in greens, golds and purple
Since I removed the big mirror
in the bathroom, I needed a full
length mirror.  I got this one for $65
at a local outlet store.  It is so pretty.
Another table at side of the bed.  Got this
table at a garage sale a few years ago and had
it refinished.  I also started a collection of
dragonfly perfume bottles. 
Other side of bed.  Chair has been in my
family for years.  I always have Kwan Yin
close to me.

Friday, September 02, 2011


Kate visited me in early June.  It was way too short of a visit. 

Kate was at a craft fair in Tennessee selling her new product.  After it was over, she drove an additional
3 1/2 hours down to spend time with me.  Now, that's a friend!  She was smart and left here mid morning and made the trip back to the Milwaukee area in two days.

Kate designs Practically Ribbons  Check out her website.  These pretty ribbons (wired ribbons) have grommets in them and can be used with clips and/or hooks, such as the hooks used to  place ornaments on the Christmas tree.  The ribbons, which come in a variety of colors and themes, can be used for ornaments, cards, scarfs, etc., - the uses are endless.  They can hang from almost anythings (such as a curtain rod) by using a shower curtain hook.

Below is a picture of one of the ribbons Kate gave me as a gift.  I have five total, all holiday ribbon,  and plan to use them to display my Christmas cards.  I think they will work perfect in my dining room window and make that area look festive during the holiday season.

I used one of the ribbons to display some
of my birthday cards in my front window
I think these ribbons have lots of uses, especially in places like assisted living facilities and health care centers.  They could make hospital rooms cheerful by easily displaying pictures, cards - you name it, while not taking up much space.

I loved having Kate here.  We had some great talks.  She has always been there for me, always supportive.  I miss you, Kate.  Wish we were closer logistically but, I am not moving back!.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Happy Birthday to ME!

One of the cards I received for my birthday.  How true!
I turned 56 on August 23.  I spent a lot of time during my birthday week thinking about the differences between my 55th and 56th birthdays.

Last year was such a turmoil for me.  Good things like retirement, purchasing my beautiful new home and moving to Georgia - while all good, were still stressful and took adjustment.  Then the bad things - the death of someone special to me during my move and the death of my beloved dogs within three weeks of each other.  I had to put my little Gracie down at what was suppose to be an early family birthday celebration last August 21.  Some 55th birthday celebration.  I cried the whole day of my birthday. I was drained, battered and emotionally and spiritually exhausted.  I remember thinking that I would never be happy again.

A year has passed.  Things change, time moves on and so did I.

At my family birthday celebraion.  I'm smiling this year!
This year I had a great birthday.  I am in a much better place in my life. 
I've made friends here in Georgia and enjoy spending time with them.  My book club got together for lunch and to see the movie "The Help" and the day we could all get together happened to be right on my birthday.  My sister joined us and I had a great day with them.   

I've become active in my subdivision, starting a yahoo group for community communication,  serving on both the pool and grounds committees and I've made friends that way.  There are great people living here!

I have a great part time job at the local library.  I enjoy going into work and time flies by while I am there (well, usually!).  I am learning so much and work with good people. 

MeetUp has introduced me to new people.  While I have slowed down on participating with one of the social activites groups, I plan to start attending the events again.  It is a good way to get out and meet people and learn the area.

My finances are slowly getting into shape.  I'm taking a 13-week financial class, which is really helping me not only budget better, but save more money and plan more aggressively for the future. 

My friends in Wisconsin and other parts of the US and beyond continue to be the "wind beneath my wings" and I am so thankful for the calls, cards, emails, etc., that keep us linked.  My family here in Georgia are so supportive and I don't know what I would do without them.  I am so blessed with love and support.  Two friends will be coming down to visit me within the next few months and I look forward to their visits.

I started to date again.  While my first attempt didn't work out, it was good to realize that there are good men out there.  It was a positive experience for me. (He also made my birthday very special even though it ended right afterwards.)   I realize I have a lot to give to a relationship.  Hopefully, next time I venture to date again it will work out to be a lasting relationship.  And, in the meantime, I am OK by myself.  I'll take a break before dating again.  But, I won't wait too long.  I enjoyed his company and our time together showed me I want a man in my life.

Little things mean so much.  I enjoy the birds at my feeders, delighting in the hummingbirds and butterflies at my plants.  My early morning walks with Sam and Oliver, while the day is cool or later in the evenings when the neighbors are out and we stop to chat.  Having the community pool all to my self and floating on my back, watching the clouds.  Sitting in my porch for a few minutes each evening before bed, listening to the creatures of the night.  These "little things" add to my appreciation of life.

I made it one year without anything traumatic happening to me.  I hope I have been supportive of my friends and family who have had some difficulties this year, as they were to me in 2010. 

I know good and bad things happen to everyone.  I know things will change.  But, it is good and a relief to say that that I am happy.  I am at peace.  I'm moving forward.  Life is good.

Happy birthday, Julie Ann!  

Thank you - it was a good one! 

Tuesday, August 09, 2011


Living in Milwaukee all my life I must say I never saw a toad in my house or yard.  Over the years I had a few run ins with mice, which was pretty creepy, but never toads. 
Basil growing in my toad garden.  I guess that
doesn't sound too appealing, but it works!
Here in Georgia, my house backs up to a greenbelt. There is a creek further down.  And, I have toads.  In my yard.  Now, they don't really bother me.  Sam likes to chase them, but he doesn't try to eat them - a good thing for both Sam and the toads. 

Geraniums don't do too well down here, but this pot
is in a shaded area of the toad garden and seems to be thriving.
The other night I was in my kitchen and something on the floor jumped.  I screamed.  Well, it was more like a "YEEEEK!"  I did a funky little foot dance, too.  There was a tiny toad in my kitchen (much better than a mouse any day).  When I realized it wasn't a snake or a mouse, I grabbed the dust pan and got the toad to hop on to it.  Needless to say, Sam was of no help - thinking he had another new playmate in the house.  But, once in the dust pan the toad was gently placed back in the grass where it belongs.  This little guy had hopped his way into my screen porch and into the kitchen.  I keep the kitchen door open when it is cool so the dogs can go onto the porch and use the porch doggie door to get outside.  So, this little toad hopped quite a bit to make it into my kitchen.  I'm sure he was exhausted.  Lucky for him, he got a free ride back out.

Grandpa Toad lives under the drainage diverter.
Under the drain spout diverter near my porch lives Grandpa Toad.  He is pretty big.  He is pretty ugly.  He and I have a pretty good understanding.  I don't lift up the diverter, he stays there and leaves me alone.  I think he is the reason for all of the little toads in my yard.  That's OK.  Toads eat bugs.  They are good to have around and don't cause any harm.  I have dug out a little flower bed where Grandpa Toad lives and have been playing around with plants, containers and even a small solar powered fountain.  He has a nice backyard for himself and his kin.

Gnome toad house with an herb  pot in my little "toad" garden
 Then I remembered that there are such things as Toad Houses.  Who thinks of these things?  So I checked them out.  And, of course, I had to purchase a couple.  Well, I thought a little whimsy in this little corner of my yard might be fun.  And, goofy as it is, it is fun.  It makes me laugh.  And, that is always a good thing!

"Prince" toad house and bird solar fountain with my beautiful lantana.
 Will Grandpa Toad move into a house?  Probably not.  He has a nice little place burrowed in the dirt under the diverter.  But, maybe one of the youngin's will move in.  Maybe not.  Who cares?  It is silly.  It is fun.  And, sometimes I need a little fun and silliness.  Toads and all.

I brought this little bird with me from Milwaukee.  I'm glad I did.
It works well with the toads.
P.S.  Don't even think of asking me if I will or have ever kissed a toad.  NO WAY!  I don't need a prince that bad!