Summer In Texas, My Version


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Temperatures in the 80’s in summer was hot when I was growing up. If temperatures hit 90 all elderly people, children and pets were to stay inside. Although as I remember not many people allowed pets inside unless it possibly was a cat, and that was an exception, animals did not belong in the house. I will not tell that to my herd, they

English: Pictured Rocks National Park, Miners ...

English: Pictured Rocks National Park, Miners Castle Photo taken on summer vacation, wonderful weather hot and sunny! hike to misquote bay was wonderful except for of course the misquotes! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

would most likely do something dreadful to me in the night for my past transgressions!

My childhood was growing up on the shores of Lake Superior so I understand cold and snow (lake affect) and being snowed in for days. I do not remember complaining about nor did I complain about the ‘hot’ summers seeing they were rare. If a very hot day did pop up we played in the sprinkler, the old-fashioned kind often rigged out of a basement window seeing only ‘newer’ houses had water outside! Unless of course you had an outside pump seeing you had not upgraded. The basement, (think cellar) dark, damp and cool was also a place to play until the sun was low in the sky and Lake Superior winds took care of the night. Summers were short and nice, Spring was fleeting and Fall could hang on for a while, a beautiful time of the year in Upper Michigan. Winter, lasted a long time and I was ready for it. Lots of sweaters, boots, scarves, hats, socks, whatever it took to stay warm and dry. Wool drying on the wood stove in the basement is still a ‘nice’ smell to me. Once dried I could go back outside and go ahead get wet all over again! And it was always dark after ‘supper’, very mysterious and beautiful at ‘night’ in the snow, that was before the 60’s when the ‘time changed’ and screwed me up for years.

I later moved to Wisconsin. There was a marked difference in the weather, it was most often a month colder or warmer depending on the season and I adapted rather well to that change. It was better to my mind, less snow (still a lot) but not snowed in for days with no escape! The big storms were more of an event then a way of life.

Later in life I moved to Punta Gorda Florida. There I would have year round gardening Linda 014and become the best gardener ever known to grace southern Florida. That part did not happen. I gardened, and did a good job but the plants were the houseplants that I grew in the Midwest, imagine that! Toss something out the back door and it would root and become a happy camper. I finally realized how captive I had kept all the houseplants of my life, suffering a long death at the hands of a girl/woman who loved plants and provided little light. Low and behold a hurricane came along and blew my garden away. I regrouped but wasn’t going to ‘do that’ again. Needed to move on, better lands somewhere.

Life’s events do come to me through the memory of what the weather was at the time. I marked the seasons by what I was wearing, what was blooming, what the temperatures were. In Florida I had nary a clue what time of the year it was, I started to lose track! It was a bit threatening, was I losing my wits or was my inner clock terribly messed up 🙂 It was my inner clock I’m thankful to say and I still haven’t totally recovered the regular four seasons in my mind’s thinking, but Texas is an improvement.

We live in a beautiful part of Texas. Where the hills are rolling and the soil is mostly black with a bit of clay, on the edge of the Piney Forests. Our land would have been great for a rancher (it was a ranch) to grow crops and forage the animals near the Colorado river or in the valleys. I live on a hill with good soil, plants grow so fast I can no Rose Emporiamlonger keep up with them. I tell myself it is my age but I know it would be a great deal of labor no matter my age! Especially seeing I tend to plant or cultivate way beyond what I am capable of caring for.

The late winter, which is wonderful weather I start with enthusiasm planting and cultivating, I am a model gardener, the gardener I always was! Praise worthy! I stick to this faithfully and plant more than I should certain this year I’m going to care for everything seeing temperatures won’t reach last year’s highs, maybe I forget how hot it was the previous year 🙂

Today I’m at the how hot it gets in Texas part of the season. My plants are gigantic, threatening to take over all walkways and stop cautious people from darkening our doorstep, and that includes my husband! I refuse to go outside when temperatures are 95 and rising! It’s miserable for a Midwest woman who has adapted and does become cold easily, but still gasps at the sweat forming on my brow! My energy has gone, I am a slug a sloth would sound better at least it’s an animal not a slimy creature. Best I check to see if any moss is growing on my appendages. I simply hate hot weather, I tellP1010024 myself I am not grateful as the water from my hose burns my feet and hands and would cook spinach if I was growing it! That I don’t mind that everything I own is a shade maybe two lighter in color from hot sun! My car needs windows tinted darker than it came with seeing it heats up while parked outside while I am shopping, air-conditioning is my friend in my car, my house, any building I enter! My other best friend is the pool! After anything that needs my attention outside I head to the pool and I think I hear a sizzle when I jump in! This is fact!

My decision for coping with hot weather is I pretend it’s ‘winter’, I do inside things, work with fabric, wool, make this and that just like I was snow bound instead of sun bound. DSCN3120It works for me, most of the time. I do enjoy being outside, in the gardens, sitting and relaxing, one foot out the door and my good humor turns to nasty old woman!

I am grateful for my home, where I live, the gardens that thrive (too well) and the critters that entertain me outside the windows. I have one exception re: critters. I do NOT like to find a shed snake-skin, which is as long as my arm in my rose bushes. I find something unsettling about that! The opossum that fell out of the tree a few weeks agocottage garden was more entertaining, not so much for the dog! A roadrunner looking in the sunroom at us is funny no matter the temperature.

This weather too shall pass and the many months of beautiful weather I enjoy will again be here. Next year at this same time I will again complain that it’s simply to hot for man or beast and it will again be my ‘winter’.

My Priceless Book, A Treasure


E Bay will tell you the book I treasure is worth about $100, I imagine that’s without  the corners chewed by a frisky German Shepherd puppy in 1964! The date on my book is 1948. This book will never be for sale, at least by me and doubt anyone but me would appreciate its eaten corners, its value to me is worth more than money.  It was my teacher, my friend, my companion, it filled rainy days, hours of snow storms that kept me in the house. There are times  an only child has time to fill, sometimes a lot of time.  I don’t know where the book came from, who it belonged to before it became mine.  I do not remember anyone giving it to me and it doesn’t seem like a book my parents would have bought. I’m also a bit surprised I didn’t take it with me when I left home. Those will remain mysteries.

I had occasion to look for my book, I honestly didn’t think in the condition it was in it would still be there, long ago tossed to the dust bin.  Behind some other ‘newer’ books I found it!  It was like finding my childhood all in one book!  As I paged through the book memories of each section came back to me, I read it over and over, talk about dog-eared corners, this had them before the dog chewed it!

This isn’t only a dictionary, that was only the beginning section.  Filled with topics from literature, nature,  history, biographies, how to garden, an encyclopedia of information, much of it in colored drawings or in line type drawings that  appeal to a younger reader (and I suspect less expensive for production), or an older one that can’t see very well 🙂  In its sections I  find bits and pieces of ‘me’.  That sounds absurd, but I  have many questions how I learned to read before I went to school, why I knew some unusual things for a little girl: like every breed of dog and what the uniforms of the different branches of the armed services looked like, I liked the ‘human body’ part and how to draw people, animals, buildings.  This book was like a silent educator for a child that had time on her hands to fill and did find a good way to do it! 

I knew one insect from another, what birds my dad went hunting for looked like, what birds came to our feeders, what fish he caught.  He would catch and hunt, I would go look it up and learn all I could about the kind of fish, the sort of duck, I never did like the hunting part.  But at that time everything dad hunted for we ate (yuck still).  After watching them cleaned plucked and cut up, this form of protein wasn’t high on my list of foods!   My thinking today is how much I learned, not by instruction but by curiosity and the life taking place around me, the life I was living with my parents and my grandparents.

There are perhaps as many ways to learn as there are things to learn about.  Some of the ways we learn of course is by example, what we see, kindness, thoughtfulness, love of nature and environment, caring for other people (empathy).  Which leaves also the things we learn by making mistakes or observing less than ideal behavior.  Reading has been my escape at times from less than an ideal situation, a distraction that is and was healthy and helpful.  I learned my love of books from children’s books, and added my ‘slightly used’ pictorial dictionary and I had my education off to a good start!  Books, you just gotta love ‘um!  This one is one of my ‘treasures’. Here’s my salute to reading and our treasured books!

Strange Past time?


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There are some things I just can’t pass up, I’ll list a few.  I love birds nests (after abandoned), big papery bees or hornets  nests, can’t beat them for the top of your Christmas tree, I also like seed pods, dried (like lemons), they shrink into interesting shapes and I can use them in any number of ‘arrangements’.  One thing I become quite intense in acquiring are wasps nests.  Like many of the other things I like to collect and tend to pop up around my house, wasps nests are front and center, the larger the better.

I had great luck this week.  My granddaughter Riley Ann noticed one of the empty (shame on me) bird feeders had large red wasps busy inside, thankfully she was inside the house looking out!  I generally don’t randomly kill ‘things’ that live in our yard, unless they do pose a threat to people our my pets.  Wasps are number one on that list!  Wasps have bitten me (ouch)  it hurts and they tend to swarm once disturbed. 


Of course what other product would one use to ‘off’ wasps other thanBlack Flag Off wasp spray? I didn’t have a full container, sprayed what was left  and brought the feeder to a place away from people until I could spray it again the next day.   My intention was to buy another container the next day and finish the job right. 

The next morning all the wasps had died!  My small amount of spray had worked (calling to my attention how toxic these products are).  I could now easily see the nest it’s self!  It is one of the biggest ones I’ve found.  I had a few problems to overcome before I could acquire my prize nest. The nest was beautifully constructed around the center post of the bird feeder and there wasn’t a way I could reach it even with the feeder opened.  A hammer comes in handy right about now.  I was on a mission!  This nest would have a perfectly round hole in the center, if, I could get it out without damaging it.  I took all my aggressions of the past months, maybe years out on smashing the bird feeder to bits!  It worked,  now all I had to do was find a way to slip it off the post!  Hooray!

Once I had  the nest in hand I brought it in to show my prize to Hal, he isn’t impressed by these things but does humor me and did notice it was rather a large one and that the wasps (now dead) were very large, red and fierce-looking.  I don’t know the variety, it doesn’t matter to me as long as they aren’t any longer a threat.  Always be wary!

The next part of wasp nest collecting isn’t something everyone may enjoy doing. The cell of the nest where each larva is growing  is covered by a tissue like substance that needs removing, really a work of art considering a wasp made it.  I use a tooth pick or a thin skewer to remove the remains.  Is anyone grossed out yet?  I knew while I was doing this that photographing what I was doing would be helpful and I could write a blog,  but was to engrossed in what I was doing.  I usually do this in the house, relax, prod away until I get them fully cleaned out.  This day I decided sitting in the sun room would be just the spot! 

As I started to open each cell, to my GREAT surprise out came a fully formed angry and very much alive wasp!  OH NO!  I then noticed there were several wasps that were not dead (lack of spray) and ready to come out and greet me.  First up was to get the living wasps out of the house and I had interested cats a dog and a husband telling me that what I was doing was disgusting anyway:-)  The wasps and I got outside and I managed to go to work on the nest after ridding myself of all living red, large wasps! 

This cleaning process does make a mess. On my paper towels was a mounting supply of larva, some wiggling, some mashed by my toothpick.  All were in varying forms of turning into big red wasps.  It did occur to me while I was performing my wasp nest surgery I might  be a bit bizarre, that not many people would enjoy this obviously anal and rather gross process.  That however did not stop me, (never has)  my enjoyment of cleaning these nests is greater than my shame of making a big gooey mess of what were going to grow up living….but nasty creatures.

Red Paper Wasp (Polistes carolina) at St. Mary...

Red Paper Wasp (Polistes carolina) at St. Mary’s Colony, Texas (Picture A Day February 27, 2010) (Photo credit: mlhradio)

Well, sometimes breaks just happen!  Just this minute I’ve acquired a NEW nest!  It’s pretty big, doesn’t have a hole in the center, most of its larva have flown the nest!  Our pest removal guy, was looking for and found more wasps (I had no idea he was doing that) so I captured him and he saved one for me!  Bigger then the one I just found but no interesting hole in the middle.  I’ve got a little cleaning to do today, looking forward to that.  I must take a photo so ‘you’ my readers can see what a nest looks like before I clean it, although the new one won’t need much ‘work’ 🙂

I did get a little lesson on wasps, we rarely have ‘yellow jackets’ here, we have the red wasps and the paper wasps, the nest today is a paper wasp‘s.  Bless her/his sweet little heart!  And now I have someone who will get the nests for me that are high up!  Life is so entertaining 🙂  Always take time to enjoy the small things which often have no cost, pretty inexpensive entertainment today, and I learned a few things.  All and all a good day!

Happy Father’s Day


This is my dad, Paul Peter Dolaski, the photo captures him well.  He was a kind man, and also a gruff man if you didn’t know the bluster of his conversation. His best times were hunting, fishing, having a few (maybe more) beers and being a husband, he was a good father.  He never took a day off work, only a few during deer season. He taught me the ‘outdoors’ how to survive, to love animals (even though he was a hunter).  His approach parenting wasn’t thought out like parenting is in today’s world.  I appeared and that was that.  I learned a great deal from him, and I don’t think it was intentional it just ‘was’.

Flying Shoes


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My blog is many things to me.  I can share photos, stories of my family, trips I’ve taken, food I’ve eaten, a recipe or something I’ve created (on occasion I am creative), my gardens, my environment.  The list for blogs and their content are as countless as the numbers of people who write them.

Today I’ve decided self-indulgence is my entry.  My mother, Audrey Marie Dolaski is dying, maybe today, perhaps tomorrow but very soon.   I live in Texas; she lives in Munising, Michigan.  She chose to die in her home surrounded by the things she treasures.  What she treasures now are the baby squirrels outside her window, the multitude of birds that come to her feeders, Coke and ice cream, she never was a soda drinker but these days, it’s what she can swallow and eating has become painful. She’s always enjoyed ice cream, only in moderate portions (she always watched her weight carefully).  She’s never been one to over indulge.  Yesterday she described butterscotch with generous portions of the butterscotch veins like it was manna from heaven ☺

These are our conversations, trivial but communication just the same and quality time  over distance using the telephone.  I must do most of the talking and listen carefully as her once strong voice is weak and she is also slowed a bit by pain medication.  She is still as sharp as she ever was, it simply takes her a bit more time to formulate her thoughts and a great deal of effort to express them, as her energy disappears.

Before I make my call I become agitated, wander around my house like a pacing panther, I don’t like to make these calls.  Who wants to poke a stick in a wound?  I know that I need to keep our communication going until she dies, gotten her wings, or flying shoes.

After the call I have a period of many feelings, always tears because I cry easily (one of my weaknesses), it’s just me, although a dying mother is sad! I feel frustrated, not because she is dying, she is 89, will be 90 if she makes it to the 4th of July and she’s made a good life for herself.  We will celebrate her life when the time comes.  My problem is  I’m not certain I heard what she said, if I answered her question with the right answer because I didn’t hear well, I don’t want her to think I’m not listening to her.  I’m still looking for approval (at 65) from a dying woman who I always had a difficult time pleasing and it affects my conversations with her as she dies.

I asked her yesterday if she wanted me to call everyday I didn’t want to disturb her.  To me that was a normal question because mom often didn’t like me to bother her, and she was not shy about  expressing  those feelings.  Yesterday her answer was, “yes call everyday, you are my daughter you can’t bother me.”   That’s amazing for me to hear, also emotional seeing five years ago her answer may have been that she was busy, call later, maybe the next day!

It’s getting around to the time of the day I call my mother and I feel myself already becoming anxious.  This is sad, it’s sad for both of us.  I don’t believe she realizes that I feel this way (a good thing) this is something that I need to simply get over, it is what it is, grow up kind of thing!  It’s life, it’s been my life and I’ve lived it quite well.  Most families have some degree of dysfunction, and mine was not an exception.

My mother deserves my respect, my love, and gratitude, she has it. I can return to the past and speculate about what might have been, but  the reality was my life, one doesn’t go backward.   None of us come with a set of instructions how to properly parent, we parent by our past observations, our personalities our faults and hope for the best possible future for our children.

Mother’s Day Musings


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Tomorrow is Mother’s Day, a holiday we are all supposed to send or give love and thoughts  to our Mothers.  Seeing I am a mother I like this idea! Hey, cards, a gift, dinner, I enjoy being remembered.  Or, maybe we aren’t remembered, it happens.  Children have different beliefs, priorities, lives filled to the brim with their own activities and possibly a  mother you simply know is there and the day passes by.  Your mother loves you, or she does not.  Chances are if she does you’re one of the ones more likely to forget the day, she is not going to disown you 🙂

I remembered my mother this Mother’s Day, likely for the last time, I sent her flowers. My conversation with her today while  I was looking in my dressing room mirror;  I don’t relish looking at myself and being reminded where I am on the timeline of life, I was paying attention to my reactions, my expressions responding to my mother’s happy observations outside her window (the bird feeders), I wanted to ‘see’ (literally)  my reactions to my mother’s softly spoken (weak) words, hear about the  flowers inside her house and who had visited yesterday. Her world is small these days but she has accepted that and does delight at the bloom of a hibiscus that opened today, blooming on a plant she told her caregiver to get rid of, it was ugly.  That too is my mother.  The plant seems to have survived, not everything escapes my mother!

Mother had a little boy and his uncle visit yesterday.  The uncle is a  young man she had worked with and he wanted to pay his respects, the little guy is his nephew, just a mite of a boy and not excited to visit an elderly, very sick woman, whom he didn’t know and in a strange house.  Mother had dripped soup on her blouse when eating and wasn’t certain she wanted anyone to see her in such a ‘mess’.  This too is my mother, you do not get dirty!  If you do you fix it!

After she remembered who her visitor was (please take off his hat so she could get a good look), she worked with dozens of young people her years at The Dogpatch, a Munising Michigan well known restaurant.  My mother enjoyed working with the ‘kids’ each one of the employees as they came and went;  it seems they all remember her and like to pay her visits, they did before she wasn’t well, so these are not sick calls.  The young people she worked with in her 60’s and 70’s gave her energy, kept her up with what was happening in Munising, she would say they kept her young.  And her steel like personality garnered her respect, her work ethic perfect,  and she can be great fun.  She worked when most people would have been more than happy to give it up; she worked because she liked the job, the people she worked with and being occupied was important to her. She was a working woman all of her life.   Being raised in the depression having extra money to set aside certainly didn’t make her unhappy!

Mother took a liking to the little boy who visited yesterday.  He is an endearing little guy and she wanted him to feel comfortable at her house, not wanting him to leave immediately, just as he arrived.  So my mother, the woman who allowed no one to touch anything under threat of who knows what (most likely nothing but a dirty look, I’ve not been ‘hit’ in my life) she was a firm woman, still is, don’t touch!  She encouraged this little guy to please touch, pick up, and enjoy or explore the multitudes of things she has in her home that give her pleasure.  What he enjoyed was a clear glass globe with birds flying around as it played a tune.

While I was busy listening, looking in my mirror I heard a different mother, not changed, people rarely change, but one that was appreciative of a little boy, wanted to make him comfortable in her world, even if she had spilled soup on her blouse.  The spilled soup could have been a door barred from entrance at one time.  Yesterday it didn’t really matter other than it crossed her mind.  What will become of the little boy seemed paramount on her mind and what a gentleman his uncle is.

It is mindful for us  to remember on days when cards are often mushy and don’t fit our situations,  don’t come close to our feelings or relationships, that there is good in almost all people.  find a blank card, write your own feelings and thoughts, most of us even if childhood was difficult can remember a good thought, a memory that was loving, kind and represented our mother in a good light.  We are here!  If nothing else we can offer a big thank you for a mother who cared for our needs, gave us life.  That is the gift our Mother’s have given us. And for that I am grateful 🙂

Why Blog, Why Write?



To blog or write (are they the same), that is the question.  I’ve given this question a great deal of thought, I have a tendency to over think.  What sometimes seems an impulsive decision to someone else is something I’ve more than likely been pondering for ages.  On occasion I share my perceived dilemma with another, someone who’s opinion I respect and value, but not always.  There are times you follow your own instincts and carry on.

Why does a person start a blog? Why do people write books?  One  must expect someone is going to read it, our words, our opinions, our thoughts, knowledge on a certain topic, our creativity, whatever the topic of the book, the blog.  I found myself wondering why do I think I have anything to say, share or expound on that other people might want to read!  And then even promote it! Seemed rather self-serving and ‘looking for attention’ kind of an adventure. What’s left of those thoughts is:  I really enjoy writing, even if it’s not profound or going to change the world.

Today we live in a world where social media has become a way of communicating, a way of life, blogging certainly is social media and a way of sharing our thoughts, although at times like all good things extremes happen.  Look at Facebook, I’m afraid I don’t have 498 friends, I don’t know 498 people!  I have a handful of friends, my family and people I’ve lost touch with and this enables me to stay in touch, so used properly it’s a good thing ( I sound like Martha Stewart).  And I do enjoy following my children’s friends and see (is that creepy?)  as they become interesting (most of the time) adults and sometimes parents themselves. It’s an easy leap from Facebook to writing a blog, technology, which I’ve always loved, makes it very easy.  Everything you have is at your fingertips and instructions make even a novice like me able to come up with something that’s easily read.  Getting people to read, to follow, is another story, I do have some friends

The Helicopter Spies

The Helicopter Spies (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

that are still concerned if they read my blog  a world-wide network of spies will find them!

Some people who write a blog are planning to write a book.  I have no intention of writing a book (never say never).  I don’t have the ability to make up characters and complicated plots.   The abilities of writers is amazing; how a tidbit mentioned in passing at the beginning of the book somehow ties in to the very essence of the story or plot.  So many talented writers and so many topics and styles of writing;  books are wonderful!

My writing could only come from what I ‘know’, what I’ve experienced in life, people I’ve met, enjoyed, disliked, or simple observation of life.  After 65 years you tend to learn a lot about people, yourself and how life takes us on paths we’ve not expected.  At times we  meet people whose lives seem  to be always the same, they live and through good fortune or choices made, their life seems a ‘cakewalk’.  I don’t believe anyone’s life is a ‘cakewalk’.  Truthfully all of us have a life worthy of a good story.  That’s the problem I find if I were to ‘really write’.   I am left to write the truth!

It would be easy to offend someone, it’s difficult to disguise a person in a story of life, they know who they are. You’ve then hurt someone or maybe many others. Even if there is a good story sitting right in front of you, maybe more than one, waiting to leap on to the pages and you expose it to the world (perhaps world is an exaggeration).  What have you done?  If you are not famous perhaps only a handful of people will read or care, if you write and you’ve done a fair to middling job of writing what will be your reward or punishment?  Will it have been worth your poetic license to write about people you knew/know?  Does this mean we can only write about people who are dead?  And how long do they have to be gone before we can ‘not hurt’ anyone who cared about them?

Writing ‘vanilla’ is a term that I’ve heard.  It’s safe, it touches the surface of the story, and it doesn’t dig deep into the soul of what drives the characters to behave as they do.  There are times that finding out the unsavory secrets of a persons past shines a light who they’ve become and why. The truth helps us to decide if we care or understand a person/character.   I like this form of story telling, it helps us to understand human nature, what makes us tick and sometimes not tick so well.   It is how I would like to write if I were to write a book.  I’d like to tell the truth and nothing but the truth so help me god. And of course use a little poetic license!

In the meantime I will continue to write my blog.  It’s bits and pieces of what I know and enjoy and sometimes it even comes close to the ‘real’ truth.  As for what do I get out of it, I enjoy writing, I enjoy the communication, I enjoy hearing from other people and I have a place to share and use my mountains of photographs.  I will continue, at least for now to write a ‘vanilla’ blog 🙂