flowers, nature, photography, procrastination, rain, simple things, storms, unintended consequences, weather

How not to garden…

I doubt that I’m the only person who has moved to Florida from ‘up north’, who immediately wanted to celebrate this new tropical life we were going to live by planting tropical plants. Except the clerk at the local nursery broke my bubble when he told me that this isn’t a ‘tropical climate.’  How can it not be tropical, it’s Florida?

He told me this because I told him I wanted to take out the past-their-prime evergreen shrubs that came with this house. The ones you didn’t have to do a single thing to and they just sat there and stayed green. Well, not healthy and thriving, but mostly green. No, I took them out and planted a couple of lovely bougainvillea topiaries, braided trunks with a topknot of beautiful purple flowers.  That it had with killer thorns wasn’t readily apparent.  A cold winter destroyed them down to the soil, and they came back as a shrub, with it’s thorns prominently displayed.  And they aren’t as pretty as they should be since they are under the overhang of the roof and don’t get enough rain, or sunshine. Not the right plant or the right location. But they do produce flowers, and long fronds that you take your life in your hands when you try to tame them. I was at the vet with the cat one day and the vet asked, with a degree of horror, if the cat had caused the scratches I had up my forearms. For the first and only time I was happy to say that I was attacked by the bougainvillea.bougainvillea

Next I selected a charming purple flower called Mexican petunia, and planted it as soon as I got it home. Then I looked it up on the internet and discovered that it’s on Florida’s Most Invasive Species list. I don’t have a green thumb, but I am a ‘green’ gardener, with no experience to ever think of a plant as invasive. So confining that plant to the area I intended to have it has proven to be a challenge. But you can’t kill it, I can attest to that. And it’s very pretty, and still readily available at Lowe’s and Home Depot even though it’s invasive.


I was thinking about hummingbirds when I made my next gardening faux pas. I read that they prefer red, tubular, flowers, and I read the list of suggested flowers but hadn’t bought any yet. Then I saw a neighbor trimming up a shrub that was loaded with lots of red flowers and stopped to talk with her. She had taken some of them from an adjacent empty lot, she said, and they had done very well. But they spread, so she was digging up the ‘pups,’ and she said I was welcome to take some. Never once did I imagine myself digging up pups of my own, but trust me I have.  And have I ever seen a hummingbird? Nope, not a one.

Then there is the dwarf crepe myrtle that I planted in the wrong place.  Just ask the patio guys who had to unload the pavers out front and bring them around back by wheelbarrow.crepemyrtle

So what can you learn from my experience? The short answer to that is to never do what I do.  With the constant rain we’ve had this summer everything has grown and the yard looks like the jungle is taking over, so I have hired someone to see if he can tame it. The problem is that the rain hasn’t stopped long enough for him to come over and check the yard to give me a price, and so it grows and grows.  The last time I had to hire someone to tame the yard they asked when the next time my ‘lawn guy’ was coming.  I told them, “I’m my lawn guy”. I’m not sure but I think they rolled their eyes.jungle

coping, courage, death, grief, healing, learning, life, memories, perseverance, photography

Life in threes…

Other people probably do a lot of soul searching before setting out to create a blog.  It makes me feel a little guilty to admit that this blog wasn’t something I planned, looked forward to starting, or debated pros and cons about.  Nothing like that. I simply went to the latest class offered by, and the subject, which I had paid no attention to ahead of time, was How To Start A Blog. By the end of the three hour class we had the framework of a blog page in our computers, all we had to do was write. So I did. Boom.

If I’d have thought about it harder, or at all, I probably would have talked myself out of it. Too much pressure to think of things to say. Too embarrassed to put my words out there. Too little confidence to think anyone would be interested in what I had to say. Only there wasn’t time to think about it because I was too busy writing, and truly couldn’t stop. So I had woken up that morning with no thoughts of a blog, and by the time I went to bed that night I was a blogger. I noticed that the first month had whizzed past, and then the second also. Now it’s been three months, and that fact has been on my mind.

Maybe because it’s the third month that it seems significant, and it coincides with the fact that it’s almost exactly three years since Charley died, and that seems impossible.  I woke up the morning that he died with no clue in the world that life was about to turn upside down. But there you are.  And the days keep passing, like a runaway train that just won’t stop to let you catch up. Sometimes it feels as if I’ve been living in some sort of drama and I’m playing the “loyal, reliable, hard working”, wife. I looked up synonyms for stalwart to come up with those. Well, sometimes I’m tired of being so darned stalwart and want things to get back to normal. Synonyms for normal are, “usual, typical, or expected.” It’s not that life is horrible, or even bad really. Most days are pretty darned good actually. But they aren’t exactly normal either.

It’s no wonder that I keep writing.  Writing is peaceful, so is photography.  Solitary pursuits that feel good, feel normal.purpleflowerfeature


birds, boats, Florida landmarks, fun, nature, photography, travel

Tarpon Springs

A visit to Tarpon Springs is a must for tourists when they visit the Tampa Bay area. It is noted for having the largest Greek population of any town in the US, which is largely because they came to work the sponge industry that is part of the history of the area, and that continues to a lesser degree to this day. There are restaurants, Greek of course, plus boat tours, plus shopping. plus…  wait, I’ll let you see for yourself.

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coping, death, faith, friends, grief, growing old, healing, life, memories, perseverance, photography, solitude


She had seen the man before. Older than her, she thought, though that had become a tough call only because it was hard to remember just how old she had become. They attended the same church service, and he usually walked past the pew where she sat and joined a younger man sitting several pews ahead of her. She had noticed this younger man also, but because of his toupee. Her husband used to announce “rug alert” whenever he spotted a toupee, and though her husband wasn’t there the first time she spotted that toupee she heard him announce it in her ear just the same. The older man would join him, and they would greet each other and chat before the service began. This was the normal routine for many weeks, until the younger man no longer appeared.

After that the older man would look a little forlorn to her, as he searched the pews with his eyes and eventually sat in his regular pew, alone. Until the week that he joined her, sitting on her left and saying hello. He introduced himself, a tad loudly, she thought, and she assumed that everyone around them were hearing the conversation also. She told him her name, and he responded by asking her where she lived. Odd, she thought, as she responded with her general neighborhood. But when he announced, rather proudly, that he lived in a fancy private community she realized that he was sizing her up. “You live alone?” he asked, and nodded knowingly when she answered yes. “Your husband passed away?” He was still nodding and looking sympathetic when she again answered, yes.

He then announced, rather gruffly she thought, “I have a wife. She’s a pain in the ass!” He proceeded to tell her that he was a ‘clean’ man, one who hangs up his clothes and doesn’t throw them on the floor. Which made her smile to herself because she herself was one to leave a wake of chaos in her path. They ascertained that they both were Italian, which seemed to be a point in her favor. And he spoke of his friend that he had been sitting with previously, and that he had only known him from church, and that he had suggested that they get together for lunch, but he had always declined. He wondered out loud what had happened to his toupee-d friend, he said he really didn’t know, and suggested that maybe he had found a girlfriend. Changing the subject he said, “After this I take my wife out to lunch. It’s a treat for her, so she doesn’t have to cook,” and she gave him a couple of points in his favor. Until he went on, “We go to Burger King! It only costs $4 for both of us.” She rolled her eyes, but only to herself she hoped. When the service was over he said it had been nice to chat with her, and he’d see her next week.

The next week she made sure to get there early so that she would be in her seat already and wouldn’t have to make an awkward choice of whether to sit with him or not, but she needn’t have been concerned because he wasn’t there. Or wasn’t in his usual spot at least, a relief she thought. But the next week he came in and walked past her pew, as he always used to, and she noticed a slump to his shoulders, and an air of sadness to him, as he seemed to look for his friend, and then took his regular seat, alone.alone

birds, dogs, Florida wildlife, Ibis, nature, on closer examination, photography, pond creatures

Muscovy ducks…

When it’s not thundering out there the lake is a serene sort of place. The Ibises deal with the heat by enjoying a nice patch of shade, but then there is always that one who just can’t get enough sun.


A family of ducks were a surprise there there this week, so I went back inside for the camera, but another lake creature sent them swimming to the other side of the lake. The little blue heron objected to Zoe also. We do disturb the peace and quiet out there pretty regularly.


A few days later I went outside with the camera, and no dogs, to take some pictures of the ducklings. Then I got online to see if I could see what sort of duck they are. I didn’t think that their orange/red faces were anything I’d seen before. But from what I learned on the internet they seem to be Muscovy ducks. And then it hit me that these are the ducks that took over my son’s neighborhood at his first house in Florida. And they were ugly! Lumpy red heads!  I’m hoping I’m wrong about that…


Here are a few images from the internet, sigh…


dogs, fences, home, home improvements, nature, photography, rain, sunset, weather

“If you don’t like the weather…

…wait a minute.”  My mother used to say that all the time, and most likely someone famous said it first.  She was talking about Massachusetts, but I beg to differ, Massachusetts is an amateur compared to Florida.  Well, that’s what I say anyhow, and most of the people I know who live here agree.

It was hot and sunny at 6:30, which doesn’t comes a surprise since it’s August in Florida.  Then I heard a crack of thunder just as a severe weather warning came over my phone.  I hurried to get the dogs out before the rain, and above is what it looked like out back.  Around front the dark clouds were taking over.frontview  Then it started to rain so I herded the dogs around to the back door and discovered a gorgeous rainbow.  A double one, or so it looks in the photo.  And as we came into the house I saw the end of the rainbow, it ends on my neighbor’s lanai.  And then it poured.  As soon as it gets dark I think I’ll go out and look for the pot of gold next door.

By 8:00 the storm was essentially over, and the clouds were trying to show the sunset colors.  And my neighbor’s dog wondered what the heck I was doing taking photos in the drizzle.  Isn’t that fence a sight?  My neighbor and I talk about redoing it, but that’s as far as we seem to get.  Don’t want to rush into anything.

That storm was actually Thursday night.  Friday night was in instant replay of the night before, but without a rainbow and with a waterfall on the lanai.  Ah, Florida weather!McNealwaterfall