Sunday, February 22, 2009

Earth laughs in flowers...

I love to garden. This year I'm trying to put together a container garden on my deck. I had thought I would have a real garden but it doesn't look like it will work out this year. I do like the idea of having everything on the deck where I can see it through my patio door though. I also have a porch swing on the deck that I love to sit in, observe nature, daydream, and write. It will be nice having pretty flowers and plants right there to enjoy. Containers should cut down on the gardening chores too (no weeding for example) and make it more manageable for me with the CFS.

It's already warm here most's been in the upper 70's a lot. We still have some cold nights from time to time (it was 39 last night) but they won't last much longer and the daytime highs are ranging from 59 to 76F. It was cooler today at 59 but sunny. Basically, spring has pretty much sprung in Houston, I think. I couldn't be happier about that...I hate cold weather and the gloomy, dreary gray days get me down. It also means that I can quit dreaming about my container garden and start making it a reality. I'm mulling over everything I'd like to get and editing and re-editing the list. I have to be careful not to get so many that I get worn out watering.

So far I have a bunch of Knock-out roses that I bought on clearance not too long after Hurricane Ike. They were about $10-$15 each to start with but I got them for $1.50 - $3 each. They've done well over the winter...blooming periodically...very pretty. They are supposed to be very disease resistant and pretty much tough as nails. That's a very good thing! Most are still in their original nursery pots. I've only gotten 3 transplanted into big deck size planters that I already had. (Those planters have always had some kind of rose in them over the years.). I got 3 great big pots on sale recently (terracotta colored plastic...plastic doesn't make the soil dry out as quickly and the big pots won't be so heavy). A friend says I'm going to need a truckload of potting soil to fill them and my other pots, lol. I think he may be right.

Knock-out Rose

I also have 2 tomato plants I bought at the same time as the giant pots. I have never tried tomatoes in pots...I've heard that they do okay though. These are smaller tomatoes...not sure the plants will be that small. I'll just have to see. One is Husky Cherry and the other is Patio 100. I was really looking for herbs when I saw the stand of tomatoes. They had basil but it's a little too early...basil likes it consistently warm. I was tempted by some big gallon pots of rosemary and lavender but resisted. I grow basil from seeds usually and I'll get little pots of rosemary and lavender.

I definitely want rosemary, sweet basil, lemon basil, and lavender for the container garden. I want to find a pineapple sage, too, when it warms up. It's really neat smelling and gets nice and has tiny little red flowers and the young leaves are bright green some almost chartreuse. I'm thinking of trying to grow several (or a bunch) of herbs together, maybe in sort of a tub (not a bathtub tub...although I think a claw foot tub might be kind of quirky and cool in a garden sometime). The only other vegetables I'm thinking about are bell peppers and an interesting mix of lettuce. Rainbow coleus would be a pretty foliage plant to add.

Lipstick Pink Hibiscus

As for flowers, I know I want some lipstick pink hibiscus. I love them...I even wrote poem with them in it. I'm not sure what else right now. In a regular flower garden I've always had some mealy cup sage and coreopsis with some kind of white flowers and hot pink ones (blue toned pinks not yellow pinks). I love that combination. Lots of other flowers in those color families but they were the backbone...the standards, I always had. I don't like reds or oranges in my flower garden. For me blue toned pink is a very happy always makes me feel happy. I find that the pink, blue-purple, yellow, and white all lift my spirits. Colors really can affect your mood.

It would be nice to have enough growing to cut some for the house. I always used to have English cottage style flower gardens and herb gardens. There were always little informal bouquets of flowers, herbs drying, and home-made potpourri in the house. So pretty and smelled so good. I don't think that will probably be too possible or practical growing in pots, though...I don't think there will be enough.

I'll pick up a few more plants and flowers on my next good day when I make my grocery run. The potting soil will be a little more problematic.

My head is full of garden dreams these days!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

A new twist on watering the flowers...

In the category of 'Just when you think you have seen it all...', I found something that left me scratching my head again and saying, "You've got to be kidding!".

There is a talented San Francisco artist,
Clark Sorenson, who has turned his hand to making something utilitarian quite beautiful. Strange but beautiful.

This is not a composite photo. Each one of Sorenson's fully functional sculptures (sinks and urinals) is a hand-built and one-of-a-kind original. The sculptures range from $1,400-2,800 for a sink and $7,900-8,900 for a urinal. This particular one is $7,900. (Crating and shipping charges not included in this price.). Sorenson earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Sculpture with honors from the University of Utah. He has been receiving worldwide attention for his work, which has been featured in numerous magazines and papers throughout the world.

After the initial shock wore off, I found myself thinking why shouldn't something functional also be beautiful. I would love to have one ofSorenson's sinks, if I could afford it. You can see more examples of Sorenson's work at Along with his flowers, shells, and leaves, Sorenson has sculpted other functional pieces which also fall within the realm of political commentary. Be sure to check them out as well !

Warning, if you are a dyed-in-the-wool Republican with any heart problems, I highly recommend you have your nitro at hand before viewing his political line of sculptures. I would imagine some of his functional artwork on a political theme is on the wishlist of a number politicos around the world.

I'm thinking I may have to do a regular post on 'Just when I thought I had seen it all...'. Obviously, I have NOT seen it all yet, lol.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Let's get cozy...

Hurray!! Diane Mott Davidson's 15th culinary mystery, Fatally Flaky, featuring the caterer, Goldy Bear, is due out in April!

Diane Mott Davidson is a favorite of mine. I have all of her books up through book 14 'Sweet Revenge'. If you haven't read any of hers you should give them a try. It's a nice series...not too graphic...a 'cozy' mystery.

If you aren't familiar with the 'cozy' mystery genre...

"A Cozy Mystery usually takes place in a benign universe, in a small town setting. They usually involve a domestic crime, one without violence or bloodshed, committed with a blunt instrument or poison. Cozies are most often solved by gifted amateur detectives, and involve solving some form of a puzzle through observation, deduction and the keen understanding of human nature. There is no graphic violence or use of strong language." ~~~ A concise definition from the Madison WI public library

If you are interested in finding other 'cozy' mystery authors and series, there is a nice list available from the Madison, WI public library. The list contains the author and character names, character's profession, and location. I didn't count past 25 but it looks like the list contains 75-100 authors/series. The URL is . This list is nice because it is rather compact so you can print it out and take it with you as a reminder.

An excellent website devoted to cozy mysteries can be found at . I started to describe it but it would almost take another post and I promised myself I was going to keep this post short and not exhaust myself, lol. You will just have to cruise over there and take a look for yourself. Notice that she even has a blog!

Lots of other information and websites on the 'cozy' mystery can be found by Googling "cozy mystery".

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Trying to teach an old dog new tricks...

Well, there's no doubt about it, I have to learn how to write shorter blog posts. I had forgotten what it was like to be too tired to finish something I wanted to write. I am definitely in the midst of being reminded now. Grrrrr! Another gift from CFS...fatigue, difficulty concentrating and what was that other thing I was going to say? oh, yes...and word-finding difficulties.

All very frustrating for a writer. I have all these blog posts that I started but didn't finish because I was too tired. I love to research and prepare in depth, well-documented pieces using a number of different sources when I write. Sigh, I'm not doing very well at that right now, though. Looking at these unfinished blog posts, I get frustrated for two reasons. I'm frustrated because I haven't finished them and because I realize that pushing myself to finish them is breaking the rules.

Writing this now is pushing myself. I keep revising, trying to synopsize what I want to say, so that I get my message across but I don't overexert myself. I find myself wanting to explain and educate people about CFS. There is so much to explain though and frankly I just don't have the energy to do it justice. So I sit here writing and revising...trying to keep things brief but understandable. I keep painting myself into a corner, though, wanting to expand and explain and having major input from my body telling me I have to stop.

Any kind of over-exertion is bad for you when you have CFS. People with CFS react very differently to exertion and exercise, whether it is mental or physical. Hard to believe, but when you have CFS, thinking is just as tiring as running. Sigh, I love to think and learn, compare and contrast, ask questions and look for answers, all of that good stuff. I have to be very careful not to overdo it.

If I push to do something I will pay and the payback will be disproportionately large in comparison to the activity that caused it. In other words, if I push too hard at anything, mentally or physically, I will get sick(er) and it may take days or weeks for me to recover from it. Sometimes doing even very small tasks can be overdoing it. To make things more frustrating, with CFS the rules change all the time. What was okay to do yesterday is not okay to do today or tomorrow.

I'm not sure how I'm going to do it yet. I have to pace and take care of myself but I refuse to stop thinking or writing. I have to find new ways of doing things and I have to learn to write shorter less labor intensive pieces. I have to learn to break what I want to write about into more manageable segments. Lol, all this is tricky, too, because it requires a lot of thinking and planning....which uses a lot of energy. Round and round it goes.

I also need to learn to approach writing in a more relaxed way. Not so easy...I get excited when I write or think about's fun and I like it. Did I mention that getting excited uses a lot of energy and it can be easy to overdo that, too?

Well, I've been doing some problem-solving as I've been writing this and I'm getting some ideas about how to manage it. Wish me luck. I'll let you know how it goes.

Friday, February 6, 2009

My shameful secret....

A couple of nights ago a good friend sent me this lovely picture.

He said it reminded him of me, lol!

Yep, that's me...


Another good friend has dubbed me

"The Coffee Queen"

Still another couple of good friends ply me
with cup after cup of yummy espresso
when I visit them.

I think my secret is out!

What do you think?

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Through a glass darkly...

I haven't posted for a while and I've missed it. I've started out to write many times and either been too foggy to make a start or gotten half-way through a post and been too exhausted to finish. This is a very difficult post for me to write and share.

I have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) and I am going through a difficult time with it right now. For about the last year, my CFS has been worsening again making it harder and harder to do everyday things. It's hard for me to talk about this. I'm a very private person, I try to look at things from a positive perspective, and I don't like talk about sad/depressing subjects a lot, especially being ill.

In the past, I have preferred people to 'see' me instead of the CFS. Unless there was a pressing need for them to know, I didn't tell them about it until I got to know them better or I felt they needed to know. I didn't hide it, I just didn't make a big deal of it. People close to me knew, of course. The worsening of my CFS has made me take another look at how I handle telling or not telling people. It's much more obvious now that I'm not functioning the way I was and I look sicker.

To keep quiet about it now would result in lots of misunderstandings. I would wind up seeming unfriendly and aloof by not taking calls and by frequently turning down invitations. Not to mention downright rude when forced to cancel at the last minute because I'm too ill to go. I would wind up being even more isolated than the illness itself makes me and that is isolated enough.

Frankly, I just don't have the energy to be subtle either, lol. I don't know if is the just the fatigue but I've been having doubts about keeping silent about the CFS for a while now. It's such a big part of who I am that to keep it hidden is like denying who I am, as well as being tiring in itself. I'm having to rethink things.

On top of the symptoms that go along with CFS and rethinking how I am going to 'present' myself, I'm feeling frustrated and sad, and, yes, a bit afraid. I'm not just having to decide how to present myself...I'm having to 'redefine' who I am...again. How do I present myself (and by extension, the illness) when I don't know who I am anymore? Facing getting worse again is very hard and
I'm going through something of an identity crisis right now.

Who am I? What am I able to do? What do I have to offer? Where is my life going? I’m working my way through it but I am experiencing a great sense of loss and frustration. I’m really surprised by the extent of it...I thought I had gotten past this stage and accepted, but here it is again 5 years later. Of course, I had also improved and hoped not to get worse again. Here I am worse again...desperately hoping it's a short-term thing and I will get better again.

Note: the collage and found poem above was created by me for my illustrated journal. Clicking on the picture enlarges it.