sharpchick_2011: (Default)
2014-05-18 08:16 am
Entry tags:

It has been a very lush spring in the east cottage garden...

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My 3 year old clematis on the fence finally bloomed.
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The potted one by the front door was gorgeous as always, but needs a good pruning.
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After nearly 10 years, the cold weather and a tree limb broke the large terra cotta pot that had been home to this Japanese maple. My neighbor helped me repot it.
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And what to do with the very large shards?

Make a planter for some succulents, because everyone knows you can never have too many succulents...

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We love Japanese maples around the cottage, so we have, Here's a smaller one.
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The journey is good.

I am remembering to smell the roses.
sharpchick_2011: (Cat with lime)
2014-02-27 11:33 am
Entry tags:

In which I annoy you with a photo of plants...

Have not posted in ever so long.

And regretfully, also have not read.

Winter still has her icy fingers around the cottage garden.

So I garden indoors.

My succulent collection has grown a bit.

 photo SucculentsIhave1.jpg
For those who want to know, here's what they are...

Left to right

Row 1: Aloe 'Pickled Pink,' Aloe Juvenna, Senecio Rowleyanus 'String of Pearls,' Sedum Morganianum 'Donkey's Tail,' Aloe Ciliaris (did not not when I purchased it at Lowes that it's the fastest growing of the small aloes but I can vouch for that), Sedum Burrito 'Burro's Tail (less likely to be damaged by casual contact than Morganianum)

Row 2: Kalanchoe Tomentosa 'Panda Plant' (kids love to pet this. So do I.), Haworthia reinwardtii var. brevicula (say that three times real fast), Graptoveria Amethorum, Hoya compacta 'Hindu rope plant,' Sansevieria trifasciata 'Black Gold,' Beaucarnea Recurvata 'Ponytail palm'

Row 3: Aloe variegata, Echeveria Perle von Nurnberg (crested), Haworthia fasciata (not to be confused with Haworthia attenuata, which has little nubbies on both sides of the leaves), Rhipsalis 'Mistletoe Cactus,' some of the pots backlit by morning sun, Aloe Crosby's prolific.
The journey is good.

I love playing in the dirt, even when I have to do it inside.
sharpchick_2011: (Candle)
2013-11-10 12:16 pm

Life is grand...

And I am blessed.

In the weeks following my resignation from my job, I made a discovery that really was so much a wake up call.

I really needed a break - time to winnow, contemplate, meditate.

Time to just be.

No matter what the future holds, I will always treasure this time that I am taking now. It feeds my soul.
Every day has its own rhythm.

Some days, I am deep into family history, and not just my own.

I have a dear friend who wants to know what happened to a sister and a brother, when each of them inexplicably "disappeared" from the family.

My heart hurts for him, because his childhood (and that of his surviving siblings) has left deep wounds in his soul. (If you read that blog entry, and have an idea you might have any information, please contact me.)

Other days, other bloggers' reactions to a family photo I've posted give me a reason for musing about a long dead relative.

And sometimes, the simple act of doing laundry brings back memories of my grandmother and a quilt she made for me.

Every day has its own richness.

The journey is good.

sharpchick_2011: (Caddo solar cross)
2013-10-23 02:42 pm

My trip to Toltec Mounds State Park

I never seem to remember this park until I have occasion to take the I440 bypass from I30 to I40.

Then, I see the exit again, and mentally kick myself for never having made this little side trip on my journey. It's really so close to home.

So I went yesterday.

This was a spiritual experience for me.
Archaeological digs at this site date the construction of it from before 700 CE to about 1050 CE, when inexplicably, the Plum Bayou people left and never came back. In later years, Quapaw Indians used the site for a period of time, and then they too abandoned it.

Tilling and farming of the rich fertile soil by white farmers destroyed most of the original mounds.

But a few have been preserved.
Photos cannot capture the grandeur of these mounds. Standing a few hundred yard away from them was breathtakingly awesome for me.

Left to right, Mounds C, A, and B (C behind the tree):
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Archaeological evidence showed that this area was used year round to house the spiritual, and perhaps tribal, leaders and their families, with no more than a few dozen individuals living there on a year round basis.

This was a spiritual,cultural and ceremonial center for the Indians named the Plum Bayou People by the archaeologists. At a minimum, during solstice and equinox ceremonies, hundreds of people gathered at the site.

Mound A is the tallest at 49 feet. It backs up to Plum Bayou, which used to be a bend in the Arkansas River. I think it's possible this platform mound had the temple on top of it.
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Mound B is also a platform mound, and is 39 feet high.
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Mound C is not a platform mound, but has a rounded top. Other round top mounds in the southeast United States were often used as burial mounds. The digs in this mound showed it to be the only burial mound still surviving at the site.
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Digs at Mound S showed it to be a mound where feasts were held.
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Plum Bayou - accessed up close and personal by the boardwalk
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The bald cypress trees
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And their fruit, which was about the size of small grapes. I had no idea these trees had fruit that large, and it probably accounted for the number of birds who were not real pleased with my appearance in their Eden.
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The back of Mound A, as seen from the boardwalk deck on Plum Bayou. Can you imagine pulling your canoe up to the shore when you arrived for the solstice celebration, and seeing your temple - or a majestic dwelling of your spiritual leader - rising up in front of you?
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Dugout canoe on the boardwalk deck
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I kept hearing splashes as I walked along the boardwalk. It was the turtles, one of the food sources for those Indians of so long ago.
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Something that struck me as so interesting is that the distance from one mound to another for the ones surrounding the plazas was exactly 47.5 meters. No one knows what significance that had, but I think it possibly could have been related to the geometry needed to locate and situate Mound H.

That's the viewing mound, just barely elevated...mere inches.

It's where you can see the alignment of the sunsets with Mounds A and B during solstices and equinoxes. Viewing from Mound H is open to the public.

And you better bet I'll do everything I can to be there for the winter solstice.
The journey is good.

Sometimes we can have the same view as the ancestors.

sharpchick_2011: (Troll)
2013-07-27 12:17 pm
Entry tags:

Meanwhile, back at the pond...

We had a lovely soaking rain for about 24 hours, starting late yesterday morning.

So unusual for this time of year around these parts. Yesterday's high was 72 in the cottage garden. Quite drizzly. Last year on that date, our high was 103, and we were in the middle of a critical drought.

But yesterday, the universe gave me wonderful weather for planting my backside on the couch and catching up on reading.

Which I did.
Okay, now this lotus is just toying with me.

I have been watching this bud for over a week now.

It gets bigger, and the color deepens but there's no hint of it opening.

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I never understand ponders who post this kind of photo, and say something like...

Well, I declare! I had no idea there was a bud. That flower just crept up on me...

Do they not visit their ponds every day? If not, what's the point?

My pond is one of the little bitty pieces of nature entrusted to me that restores my soul.
And so this morning, one of the wees got bolder and came out with the grown-ups for the morning feed.

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He's (she? do not know - have not looked between the tiny little fins) a new one to me.

There are two other new-to-me wee ones also.

Which now brings us up to six.

And I fear that's really something like 36, or 76...

They do like their citrus.

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The journey is good.

And full of all sorts of interesting surprises.

sharpchick_2011: (Man belongs to the earth)
2013-07-23 05:45 pm

Gardening under glass...

My sub-tropical and tropical sundews (drosera) in the terrarium for year round growing. Four are cape sundews (capensis) and two are rosettes.

d. aliciae - a rosette form
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d. capensis narrow, red
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d. capensis alba
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d. tokaiensis - another rosette
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d. capensis narrow, with flower buds. Yay! Seeds!
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the alba, 6 minutes after being fed a thawed bloodworm.
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the whole tank - I recycled a retired 20 gallon long
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sharpchick_2011: (Man belongs to the earth)
2013-07-06 09:26 am
Entry tags:

Plundering the land...

Have you ever known someone who just hacks, chops, burns, digs, grates, and plows his way through nature?

I do. Although my in-person contact with him is minimal, my landlord just slays me. And not only in a figurative sense.

Every time he rapes the land out here, a little piece of my soul goes with what he takes.

He's doing it again. Had a crew out here, cutting perfectly health trees down.

One of the neightbors asked him why. He doesn't like sweet gum balls.

And he doesn't keep those two yards either. The tenants who live there do, as we all do.

So why does he care?

Because plundering nature is one of his hobbies.
When he first bought this place some 14 or 15 years ago, one of his first orders of business was to clear cut all the pine off of it.

The pileated woodpeckers left. They prefer to nest in mature forests, and ours was gone. He started cutting in the late spring, and I asked him if he was having the logging company watch out for nests with fledgling birds. He looked at me as if I had lost what was left of my mind.

The logging company dragged the trees out of the forest using chains and tractors. They rarely loaded their trucks where they felled trees.

I asked my landlord if he knew how long it takes nature to make an inch of topsoil - all those inches that were being dragged out of the forest wouldn't be replaced for millenia.

He squinted at me, and I knew he was entertaining questions about whether I might be one of those spike-driving tree huggers.

For him, nature is something to be subdued.
No. It's not.

He's just flat-assed wrong.

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sharpchick_2011: (Scorpio)
2013-06-30 04:28 pm

In the garden on this fine summer day...

After triple digit air temps earlier this week, we are having a brief respite. And the humdity is much lower, too.

chicks on my hens - I love the purple of these leaves, and the little tiny teeth on the edges of the leaves that must have some purpose.

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grandchick chair on the front porch

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the bloom only lasts for a day, but it is sensational while it's there

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salvinia minima in the pond - look at the tiny little hairs on top of the leaves

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nymphaea Sioux lily - the mottled leaf color is stunning to me. I can't wait to see the bloom.

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sharpchick_2011: (Default)
2013-06-15 10:36 am

From the garden this morning...

5 lined skink...

I was afraid the little sucker was drowning in my lily pot, but then I Googled them and found that they can hide underwater, holding their breath for several minutes, to escape predators.

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The "dew" on sundew plants is the plants way of attracting insects that think they are in for a nectar treat. Very sticky stuff, that dew...Dinner, anyone?

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Professional gardeners and landscape companies call the blooms on hosta "insignificant."

But I never have...

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The journey is good.

Early morning in the garden is wondrous.
sharpchick_2011: (Troll)
2013-03-31 05:19 pm
Entry tags:

Let's play Name! That! Succulent!

Since I can't garden outside yet, I ordered some succulents to pot indoors from an Etsy seller.

From whom I will never buy another thing. But that's another story...

Part of the deal was - buy 10 potted succulents, her choice of a mix of 6. So that means you get some that are the same.

So I spent some time IDing the ones in her photo on her ad.

And wasted that time.

Because only 3 were any of the ones in her photo.
So now, I have spent some more time IDing what I actually got.

And this is where you come in...

First, let's start with the aloe I got from Lowes before I got the box of incredibly poorly packed succulents from the Etsy seller.

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Now, the rest are from the Etsy seller.

I think this is some sort of agave.

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And I think this is a sempervivum.

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And I have no idea on any of the 3 of these, which I put in one pot (and may not oughta be in one pot). The largest one has a visible stem that I planted above the soil line.

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If you have suggestions, please comment.
The journey is good.

And it's even better when you can review an online sale...
sharpchick_2011: (Cat with lime)
2013-03-04 07:59 pm
Entry tags:

Water is still wet...

So I had this wonderful idea.

I have the 20 gallon aquarium, intensively planted. It has some wonderful schooling fish - tetras, rasboras, and corydoras catfish. They are all peaceful little fish - the tetras and rasboras occupy the midsection of the tank, and the cories are on the bottom, except when they race to the top for a gulp of air.

But I needed a top dwelling fish, and since the tank is about 89% stocked, this fish should be a contrast to the others in color.

My centerpiece fish. The piece de resistance.
I've been studying on this decision for a couple of weeks.

Making lists of fish that would work. In the end, it was a toss up between a dwarf honey gourami and a male halfmoon betta.

I've always loved the look of halfmoons. But they are - comparatively speaking - pricey bettas.

I pondered on the idea. If I got the gourami, and he had a bad disposition, would my cute little neons be in trouble?

And if I got a betta instead, I'd be rescuing another one from one of those nasty ass little cups.

I set out for Petco.
Came home with a gorgeous creamy white halfmoon male with some gray streaks in his halfmoon tail.

Put him in the tank. He swam behind the filter, hiding. I waited about 45 minutes and went to check on him. He was exploring the tank.

That was good.

And then it turned bad.

Meet Ivan the Terrible.

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In three hours, Ivan had cornered all 28 other fish in the right back corner of the tank, except one lone cory who was hiding out among the anacharis on the other side of the tank.

It took me 45 minutes to net Ivan.

My intensively planted tank has multiple plants floating. But that's okay - more plants are coming Friday, and I'm taking the anacharis out.

Fortunately for Ivan, I had a two gallon fish bowl, an extra air pump and an airstone.

I set him up next to Lucky.

Ivan wasn't crazy about the bowl.

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Lucky wasn't crazy about this new betta right next door.

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You can't heat a bowl. An airstone isn't a filter.

My $14 fish needed a proper home, even if he was Ivan the Terrible.

So, um...yeah.

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Both tanks will get new and more plants on Friday.

With all three others.

Someone stop me, please...
The journey is good.

sharpchick_2011: (Cat with lime)
2013-02-22 08:51 pm
Entry tags:

Wow. I have been gone a while...

Haven't updated in several months.

Since my last post, I have...

Survived the December 25 snow storm that paralyzed Arkansas, and from which all storm debris has still not been cleared away;
Got the flu, had a rare reaction to tamiflu, and learned that it just takes 7 to 10 days for the flu to go away, and you may as well veg on the couch; and
Endured more of this weird Arkansas weather this past week. Yesterday, we had a combination of sleet, freezing rain, hail, plain rain and thunderstorms.

All within the space of about 14 hours.
Animals and babies have taken center stage in my life. My niece had a beautiful baby boy on February 8, and my nephew and his wife are due to have their daughter on April 5.

Knit, knit, knit...
And I have gotten back into fish tanks.

In a major way.

MTS - big time. (For those unfamiliar, MTS = Multi Tank Syndrome. It also means Malaysian Trumpet Snails, but I don't have any of those.)

For those who find fish tanks interesting, I have some photos.
Image intensive under the cut... )

Just wait until I get my DIY bog filter for my pond done this spring.
The journey is good.

sharpchick_2011: (Default)
2012-09-02 09:49 am

Long weekend...musing on meandering

I love those.

I get to meander. The older I get, the more meandering appeals to me.

Stuff still gets done, but at a more leisurely pace.

And I get to work on genealogy.
Caught up on my genealogy blog reading.

And read one post in another blog that got me to wondering.


About Hetty Hill.
The journey is good.

Meandering moves you along, too.

sharpchick_2011: (Caddo solar cross)
2012-06-25 07:24 pm

Random musings...

Saw the new doc on June 14.

*Love* him. We can have actual conversations. He upped my neurontin, gave me some lasix for the edema (and potassium to replace what the lasix will wash out.)

I can see the bones in the back of my hand and am able to squeeze the ball much harder than in the past.

And tonight, I used my manual can opener to open two cans all by myself. I had to stand at my kitchen table, which is lower than my counter, and brace my left hand against my body, but I did it.

And didn't spill a drop...
Most of the special kiddos in my life have their birthdays in the spring and summer.

So I've been going to a lot of kiddo birthday parties, listening to squealing, screaming, and watching them stuff themselves full of sugary, calorie laden treats.

I can wipe a few mouths, indulge a few kids, commiserate with their parents, and then -

Go home.

I love the grammy role.
Work is still a major source of stress in my life.

At the end of each work day, I get my [very hot] car, exhale deeply and start the A/C.

Then, as I drive home, I visualize all that toxic bullshit collecting in a cloud and exiting through my exhaust system. The cloud gets fainter and fainter the farther I drive.

As I approach my driveway, I envision the circle of white light surrounding the cottage. I pay attention to the flower beds as I walk up the sidewalk, and pause if I see a hummingbird on the feeder.

Then I open the door to my sanctuary. The tension leaves my shoulders and back (in part, because I put my purse down), and I smell the comforts of home.
The journey is good.

It's so wonderful when you learn to let go.

sharpchick_2011: (Cat with lime)
2012-06-16 09:59 am

Okay, so I *liked* them on Facebook...

And each day, I get to see these hilarious photos.

My favorites are the captioned ones of the cats...


If you're on Facebook, you can like them too...

Hundreds of Hilarious Pics
The journey is good.

I often laugh out loud.

sharpchick_2011: (Default)
2012-05-28 09:45 am
Entry tags:

Random musings...

Woke this morning feeling stuffy.

While friends and acquaintances were sniffling, sneezing and snorting their way through the yellow haze of tree pollen weeks ago - we had a mild winter and an early spring this year - I was fine.

Must be the grasses...
No real chance of rain in our immediate forecast. Drought, anyone? Unless we have a really topsy-turvy summer, I feel we will have an early drought (and no,'s not summer yet, it's late spring - check your calendar for the summer solstice. Or better yet. get in tune with nature's cycles...).

I just filled the birdbaths again. I have one on a pedestal for the wee titmice, chickadees and the like, and one on the ground for the doves.

Because doves look so awkward and ill at ease perching on a pedestal bath. They need to drink and bathe, too.

The viburnum is loaded with small berries left from its blooms.


The birds probably do not care. For the most part, birds live in the moment, taking food and drink where they can find it. If they cannot find it in their own range, they will look farther out.

Seems there are lessons in that...
My four day weekend has been lovely. Productive where it needed to be, and restful where it did not.

It has given me time to look inward, in a season where I customarily am too busy to do much of that.

I've mused about how RSD has changed my life - in large ways and small.

Last night, I dreamed I curled my left hand into a fist. When I woke, my fingers were trying, but no dice...

This morning, pain and burning are about a 5. I just made multiple trips from garden hose with a one gallon pitcher to the bird baths - pedestal bath takes 3 pitchers, ground bath takes five.

Because the effort of unreeling, stretching and re-reeling the hose was just too much energy.

And during those trips back and forth, I realized ~again ~ that RSD has taught me a valuable lesson.

It - whatever it might be at the moment - is going to take as long as it takes.

And in those extra moments, I have time to observe. See and experience things I might otherwise overlook in favor of just getting a thing done.

As one might expect, some of those observations are about me...
The journey is good.

As is looking within...

sharpchick_2011: (Candle)
2012-05-26 02:36 pm
Entry tags:

Restoring my soul...

I'm taking a four day weekend.

Spent yesterday rushing about, doing chores and running errands.

So I could spend the rest of the time restoring my soul.
One of the best ways to do that is in my garden.

This morning, I had coffee and newspaper on the porch and then watered the garden.

This hosta is about 6 years old. When I watered, I also rearranged the pinecones underneath it, because I see a slug or two has been munching...

Japanese painted fern...can't get too much of it, if you ask me. As long as you give it some shade and enough water, it just keeps on going, even in our Arkansas summers.

Rosemary, anyone? Seriously, if you live nearby, just come on and get as much as you will use.

Today, I have been graving.

Those photos will appear later in either my genealogy blog, or my cemetery blog.

So you will have to go here, or there to see them.
The journey is good.

And it's still only in the 80s here...

sharpchick_2011: (Troll)
2012-05-25 08:56 pm
Entry tags:

In which I explore alternative treatments for this asinine disorder...

Having jettisoned (or been jettisoned by - I think it depends on your sense of timing) the neurologist with the god complex, and failing over the course of five weeks to be able to find one who can see me in any reasonable amount of time, I backed up and reconsidered.

I'll be seeing a general practice physician on June 14 who has a reputation for appropriate referrals for the management of pain, as well as listening to his patients and engaging in actual dialog.

Catch me please, as I swoon...One of the things I need him to do is continue my prescription for physical therapy.

In the meantime, I still have one refill of neurontin at way too low a dose to treat neuropathic pain, but I take it anyway to maintain my blood level, because I intend to ask the new doc to increase the dose and we'll see if I'm one of the 30% of people who get any relief from it.

I continue to research alternative therapies for pain and edema, trying some which, even if they don't work, still won't hurt me.

You wouldn't believe what some folks do... )

The journey is good.

It's even better if you stop long enough to take it one step at a time.

sharpchick_2011: (Default)
2012-05-25 08:46 pm
Entry tags:

Yes, this...

I went to a monastery in Thailand. We took our baths in the stream, we begged for our food in the streets, I shaved my head and walked barefoot. My head monk asked how it was walking. I said it hurt without shoes. And he said, "It hurts on the foot that's down, but the one that's up feels really good - so focus on that one."

Deepak Chopra, in an interview with Oprah
sharpchick_2011: (Default)
2012-05-06 08:40 am

Shadow Shot Sunday: East Garden

The guy who is doing the heavy lifting - and what mowing is needed - in my garden came yesterday.

There's a set price for mowing. I had some other things for him to do.

Like carting out all the little limbs and pine needles from the east garden.

When he got ready to leave, I asked how much he wanted. He gave me the same price for mowing.

Because, he said, you'd be doing this stuff yourself if you could.

I gave him a big tip. Fair is fair.

Afterward, I watered and filled the bird baths.

And then, sat down and enjoyed the morning shadows playing in the breeze.


The journey is good.