The weather has been quite nice the last few days. I haven’t worn more than a sweater or jacket back and forth to work. In fact, although it’s supposed to rain all week, the temperature should hit the mid sixties tomorrow. The last of the deep snow banks on the side of the driveway has melted. The yard is muddy and flat, not quite aware of what is happening all around. This evening I noticed that the daffodils are a good six inches out of the ground with nice round tops and that familiar bulge that holds spring deep inside. Even the dog has made her ever so irritating move to springdom, as it now takes an additional ten minutes for her to remember why she wanted to go outside…nose in the air and tail to the wind.

Signs of spring are all around. Even at work. Yesterday morning I felt that familiar crunch under my shoes as I walked into the break room. The kind that makes you stop and look down to the ceramic tiles and then lift up your shoe. And there they were. First just a few, but by the end of the day they had multiplied into a pretty good sized dark colored mass of activity around the doorway and along the wall. The ants are up and on their way.

Our break room is pretty clean, but there are always fresh crumbs of one sort or another. Most recently the leavins of girl scout cookies, which I’m sure they find as inviting as we do. We struggle with the ants, as well as the cookies, every year about this time. Last year our maintenance department sent over a wonderful little can of spray. An environmentally friendly repellent of sorts. It smells like peppermint to me, but the ants sure don’t like it. Neither does our custodian.

He comes in the afternoon and works into the evening when most of us have gone home. That’s why I’m relatively sure I’m the only one who has witnessed what I am about to share. It’s a ritual I’ve been privy to since last year this time. It kind of puts in mind of the Bill Murray grounds keeper character in Caddy Shack, shoving a hose in the gopher hole. And I laugh every time I think of it.

So. Last night as I headed past the break room for the door, and the car, and home, I ran smack into our custodian. He was standing outside the break room door with a cup in his hand. “They’re back”, he said, and we both looked down. The floor was covered with water spread evenly across the ceramic tiles, deeper in the grouted areas, spilling on over to the carpet. “I’m drowning them”, he said. A measly little “I understand” was all that I could muster. I’ve been here before.

I tried to convince him last year, that the spray might be the way to go. This morning our little visitors had doubled in size, and were walking around the plastic ant traps that he so carefully placed in the corners of the room. I’m not sure if they drown in their sorrows this afternoon, or not. I tend to think they headed back where they came from, until the way is safe once again. Tomorrow morning I’ll look for the wonderful peppermint spray, and chalk this up to another rite of spring.

The ants came marching two by two, Hurrah! Hurrah!
The ants came marching two by two
The little one stopped to tie his shoe.
They all go marching down, to the earth, to get out of the rain.
Boom, Boom, Boom, Boom, Boom, Boom…

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On Ice

February 21, 2010

The forecast is calling for snow and rain this evening, changing to snow and sleet, continuing through tomorrow with a total accumulation of four to eight inches. I’m one of those strange birds that loves the cold and snow, but I’m finding out this winter that I don’t do so well with ice anymore. I’ve fallen three times so far. The first time I fell to my knees on the driveway trying to get to John with his cell phone for a school call. The second was also in the driveway, on my way to the car heading off to work. We keep the driveway pretty clean, so that’s not the issue. In fact, maybe we keep it too clean. The third was Friday night on the way into a local restaurant. The last two times I ended up on my rump. I’m so grateful for ibuprofen.

It’s a little disconcerting, to say the least. I didn’t think much about it after the first one, or really, the second. But after Friday the only thing I can think of is that commercial where the little old lady says, “Help, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up”! At least it doesn’t happen in the house, as well. It’s a very humbling experience. Mother Nature – 3, Gene – 0. Moreover, it’s an embarrassment. Sure hope none of my neighbors had their camera ready when I went down. I might end up on the world wide web, like this poor guy.

The sad fact is that I grew up on the ice. From the time I was old enough to don the double blade skates, my dad had me out on the ice at my grandmother’s house on Lake Dale. Before that, I slid around in boots. He would clear a big space so I could skate while he would ice fish. I would move from his space to mine with ease, and enjoyed every minute of it. We also skated on Turkey Creek, the little winding stream behind our house. Ah the memories we made there. I hung up my skates when my kids were in elementary school, but never ever had a fear of the ice. Maybe that’s really the issue. I like to think of myself as invincible. I don’t like thinking that I can’t move around with the same confidence and freedom that I’m accustomed to. Hate that.

And I don’t want to use the O.L.D. word. Not yet anyway. I’m thinking I might give these a shot. No laughing. Better to bruise my psyche rather than my posterior. Again.

An Invitation

April 19, 2009

A few weeks ago, after we got back from Nashville, I finally took the time to load some of my pictures on Flickr. I had the account set up for awhile, but lost interest. It has been enjoyable to look at them on the Slideshow feature, even if I do say so myself. Then today I  noticed that a few of them had comments.  I didn’t even know that you could comment on pictures.

dogwood-iv-409

It may not mean a whole lot to be invited into a group, but it did give me a lift to be asked to add a few of my pictures.  So if you search for the Dogwood group on Flickr, you will now see a few courtesy of gawilli. Who knew?

dogwood-409

Not Dead Yet

April 18, 2009

70 degree weather is something to celebrate this time of year, especially since there’s a chance of snow on Wednesday. But, hey, welcome to Northwest Indiana. It’s time to walk the yard and find out who survived, and who called it a day. I count myself glad to be among the living. And that goes for Willi, too. He gave the mini-tiller a workout today. I believe his theory is “If you can’t grow a good patch of grass, plow it under and plant tomatoes.”  Works for me.

willis-tiller-ii

We’re a little early for planting and figure we will need to till again, but there’s something that nourishes the soul when you get out in the dirt. At least for us anyway. In the mean time, the Daffodils, Jonquils, and Hyacinth are blooming. The tulips are coming on and the Trillium are peeking out, which means that Jack in the Pulpit isn’t far behind.

trillium

Seems a little late to be welcoming in the new year, but I finally feel as though it’s here. All in good time, I guess. And boy, am I ready.

Something So Right

July 22, 2008

It’s been such a long time, I almost forgot how to do this! But this is the first time in quite a while that there seems to be something worthy of posting about. Maybe this will get me going again. Who knows? I sure have missed everyone.

In January of 2007 I wrote about how my mother’s Christmas Cactus gifted us with a few splendid blooms, rather unexpectedly and a little late, but welcome just the same. For as long as I can remember, this cactus was at the center and front of the big picture window at my mom’s house, the same one we call home. Every winter we would enjoy the reassurance her flowers would bring in the dead of winter when every other bit of green was buried in snow.

It took me a good long time, after my mother died in 1993, to be able to look at what was left of her life in this house. Shelves and shelves of books, jars of buttons and boxes of fabric, projects in various stages of completion. And the clothes still hanging in the closet. I had made countless trips that started with determination, but ended in a sort of overwhelming numbness, pulling the door shut and locking it for another time. There was just a glimmer of life left in her Christmas beauty by the time my darkness lifted. All the other plants had given in, but this one had held on just long enough for me to come around. Interesting how it worked out that way.

I took her home and nursed her back. It sounds silly, but the steady growth was nourishing for me as well. Eventually the seasonal blooms returned, and after 15 years her size has almost doubled. This year she was full of warm pink blooms that remained long after the holiday. When it was warm enough this spring, we moved her to the back porch where the morning sunlight is softly filtered. At first it was a little unnerving to see her bright green fade, but in a few days she began to shoot out new growth, and I knew we were good to go until fall. I giver her a drink every once in a while, and she does the rest.

Tonight as Willi was standing at the grill, a small bird darted over his shoulder and landed in a tree, not far from the back porch. Then he began to hear little voices coming from behind. Following the sound, we soon discovered why the bird remained so close at hand.

Sheltered under the cover of my mother’s Christmas Cactus we found a nest full of feathery little beauties. And as the birth of my grandson draws near, this gift of life just seems to be something so right.

On Priorities

June 12, 2008

There’s this guy at work that kind of oversees those little fix-it type projects that come up from day to day. He has this habit of telling those of us who would like some kind of commitment as to a finish date, “You are not a priority.” It’s kind of interesting how that works because over the past few years that phrase has trickled down to those that work with him. And the rest of us are so use to hearing it, that we now just finish the sentence, if we even bother to ask.

Setting priorities has always been a problem for me because everything seems like one. This is a hazardous path that leads, at least for me, to maximum density – the sorry state that occurs when the only thing to do is work until there is nothing left for me, or my family. The remedy, when I finally realize what has happened, is down time. Ironically enough, I was forced into down time by the need to take vacation days – or lose them. So I did. In fact, we both did. Last week. I left work that Friday afternoon with a desk full and didn’t come back until a full nine days later, with a new list of priorities. And work isn’t one of them.

Don’t get me wrong. I still give it 150% while I am there, but the laptop stays on my desk when I go home. Granted, it has only been four days, but so far it’s working out pretty good. It was hard to go cold turkey, and I found myself walking a circle around even my home computer, but it was well worth it. I’ve had to draw a few lines in the sand, but I have stood my ground. They have posted for another position, and I am promised one more to follow. I guess the squeaky wheel sometimes does get the grease. That’s a good thing, because this tire was just about tread bare.

So here is my new list of priorities.

I’m going to plan some meals that will take full advantage of the herbs we planted amongst the flowers in the planters alongside the house. Dill, Parsley, Oregano, Rosemary, and Basil. That ought to keep me busy for awhile.

I’m going to sit on the balcony, with Willi and Cali, and watch the sprinkler wash over the garden we planted last week. The tree we cut down last summer had left us only shade. So we took full advantage of it’s absence by extending our patio another five feet and planted some vegies.

Already the peppers and tomatoes have promise of a fairly nice yield. And you know how I love real tomatoes. The kind that are red, juicy, and run down from your hands to your elbows when you eat them with a shaker of salt. Now that’s what I call a priority.

Next, I am going to pull the weeds that grow up between the beans. I learned this from my farmer friend, who taught me how to “walk the beans” back in the day. Our little patch of beans isn’t much more than two or three steps broad, so that shouldn’t be too difficult.

If things get really slow, I’m going to count the blades of grass as they sprout. Finally, after many years of dust, we will have turf. Well, sort of. The Creeping Charlie has pretty much had it’s way with what was left of the lawn. But at least it has some pretty little purple flowers. Lemonade from lemons, you know.

I honestly can’t say how much you will see of me. When the sun goes down I have been spending time with Willi, rather than sit at this computer. So please don’t think that you are not a priority, it’s just that there are so many others and I am trying to put them all in the right place.

Like this one, who will need more of my time as days go by – moving household and having a grandson in just a few short months. And this one, who I hope to be hearing from real soon. And Willi’s ones who will be with us this weekend. They would have to move to the top of anyone’s short list.

Particularly mine.

Rescue Mission

April 28, 2008

I’m not sure what the temperature is outside. It’s been spitting rain most of the day and it didn’t take long to figure out this morning that I should have gotten my winter coat back out of the closet. This evening we sat and watched the rain turn to snow and pile up on the cars outside the restaurant window while we ate dinner. The same thing happened last year right about this time. Just when the tulips started to bloom we had a cold snap and snow, and by morning everything was wilted and gone. We never got a chance to really enjoy them.

So tonight when we got home, with Willi and his flashlight to lead the way, we set out to bring in what we could salvage. Many of them were laying over on the ground with the weight of the snow. Ice had filled the leaves and crowned the tops of many of the blooms.

Hopefully we got them in time to extend their beauty just a little longer. Three vases full in all, snatched from the jaws of Mother Nature. What a cruel trick she played on her children this April day!