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!

Monday, August 08, 2011


So, I noticed my favorite southern gardening book, Easy Gardens for the South, sitting on my supervisor's desk at the library.  I mentioned that my sister gave me the book and she gives it to everyone who moves to Georgia.  It is a great book.  Cheryl told me that as a fund raiser for the Cherokee County Historical Society, the author, who just happens to live in Canton, was hosting a tour of her container gardens.  Besides the Easy Gardens book, she has written several books on container gardens.

Walking up to the house and gardens

Several phone calls later I went on the tour with my sister, Suzanne, and friends Nancy and Phyllis.  Several members of Suzanne's garden club attended, also. 

Pamela Crawford lives on over 40 acres of wooded property.  It is really pretty.  Most of her gardens are in containers, but she also has beautiful flower beds, too.  (Although in after thought I wonder how she keeps the deer away.)  The evening of the tour the weather was not great, but fortunately we were able to view and study the containers before the rain.  Her watering system is unbelievable, too!  When asked where she purchases most of her plants she stated one local nursery, but also said she purchases most from Lowe's and Home Depot. She starts buying flowers as soon as they appear at the garden centers and arranges the pots in her yard by color and then starts planting the containers. She keeps planting over a couple of months time. I must say she has a great eye for color and texture. The containers are fabulous.

Enjoy the pictures!

Hanging baskets and ground plants

Close up of plants

Huge pots on the driveway.  Love the colors!
Sitting area on driveway

She grows not only flowers in her containers, but veggies, too!

Looking down to the lower porch from the upper porch

One of the smaller water containers - rain water

Phyllis is having a great time!

Eggplant growing in a container

Another area of large containers holding both flowers and veggies

Herbs that go well with chicken!  What a great idea! (I'm stealing it next year!)

Herbs for beef and pork!  Love it!

Huge water tank
Pretty close up - love the blue, yellow and green

Nancy was in awe, like all of us!  That container behind her
was loaded with cherry tomatoes, herbs and flowers.