How we do autumn in my house

The mini pumpkins have taken their place on my outdoor window sill. They get to overlook part of my new garden planter. I have a matching set on the other sill, but I think you get the idea.

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The very first pan of vegetables is ready to roast. I’ve been waiting all summer to get back into the roast veggie routine. This tray was supposed to include some red skin potatoes as well, but I let them go a bit too long. They now have a place at the bottom of the garbage pail.

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There was spicy, Market Spice tea a bit earlier, but I missed taking a photo of that so you have to settle for the generic view.

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and, finally…

I have pulled out the first of the pumpkin scented candles. This one is Pumpkin Cider

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We’ve had on and off rain showers today as well. That’s a sure sign of autumn in the Pacific Northwest.

What about you? How are you doing autumn around your home?

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Not a day over 40

I am 58 years old today. That doesn’t seem possible. How is that in two years I will be sixty? I swear to god that just yesterday I was graduating high school. Only a few years after that I was a brand new dental assistant, already coming to understand what working for a sexist a**hole was going to mean.

My children are adults, like real adults, not just beginning the “newly out of college phase” but actually marking their own year by year climb up the age ladder. Okay, I have to give Alison a little leeway- she’s only 24 so still just a toddler in the adult world. I can remember every moment of labor with each of them. How can I be almost 60 and remember those events, but forget where I put my phone only seconds after setting it down?

I have two grandchildren. Aren’t grandma’s supposed to be all round and cushy and wearing a full head of white hair while carrying around lined faces and crepe-skinned necks and saggy jowls and chicken wing arms? Alright, I will admit to a degree of round, but hey, I carried and birthed 3 children remember. I do have some crepe-ish skin, somewhere under my drooping eyelids, and I will admit to a few fine lines, but those are mostly on my well-worn hands. Chicken wings for arms–yeah, it doesn’t take much to get some flapping to occur under my arms, but white hair- no way! Garnier Nutrisse 5RB will never allow me to look like a snow queen.

I wonder, on the day I turn 68 and realize that at that time I am just two years shy of seventy, if I will finally be able to acknowledge feeling mentally the same age as my body tells me I am. My head consistently tells me, on these annual birthdays, that I am somewhere around 25. I used to say 18, but that’s pushing a bit these days. I’ve had too many life experiences to claim to be the mental age of a naive 18 year old.

I wonder when the mental clock will finally catch up with my chronological age. Perhaps we always imagine ourselves to be younger. Maybe it’s some sort of self-preservation mechanism, a way to stave off our mortality. If that’s the case, then today I’m going to hop back to about 40. I think that was a pretty good year.

Am I the only one who experiences this? How old are you- in your head anyway.

Off and running

As of today I have been cleared to perform my new job, although as in the last post, I still only partially exist in the system.

I screened babies this weekend, although it was a slow weekend and there weren’t many babies. More babies=more practice before going it alone. I screened four babies today, at two different locations, with my coordinator. Everything went well, much better actually than my last baby Sunday. I was having all kinds of issues, but luckily the screener I was working with is a screening wizard, and pulled out passing results when I thought all was lost.

I have a small notebook full of notes, although I never think to refer to them when I’m in the room with patients. Seems rather anxiety inducing if your screener has to refer to her notebook…although I would if really necessary. I’ve learned a lot since working this job five years ago. Invaluable stuff that no one ever told me before.

Next weekend those babies are all mine…

Alleyways…Part 2

If you’re wondering what the heck this post is all about, go to this post first.

Well, I hate to say it, but I think this second part has been a disappointment in some ways. Now don’t get me wrong in any way. I really had no desire, as I wandered through various alleyways, to find myself in the middle of some crime, or stumble upon a body. I already clearly knew that I wasn’t going to encounter that locked off barrier sort of feeling that comes along the alleyways at my oldest daughters residence, but I suppose I had hoped for something– different maybe, something unique perhaps.

What I found was what I suppose most would describe as a common alleyway. Nothing grand, nothing treacherous, nothing really unexpected.

What did surprise though, was that what I thought to be a rather extensive amount of alleyways in this little community really isn’t. I ventured off in mid afternoon and after only about 2-3 blocks from my apartment, I ran out of alleyways. Ultimately, because I was walking and had the time to observe what was happening, I realized that the discontinuation of the alleys also marked a change in housing style.

The alleyways were a feature of the core of this community. By that, I mean the original core neighborhoods within a very specific distance from Main Street. I live on the south side of Main, and the original, historic homes, mostly Craftsman style, only encompass about 2-3 blocks off Main. It was clear very quickly that the neighborhoods further out held homes that were clearly built in the 1950’s and 1960’s. Ramblers, some brick, some conventional siding, most with bigger lots, and none with any alleyways in sight.

I began to realize that the majority of connecting roads, all labeled avenues by the way, opened to this south side of Main. The north side of Main Street is one long connected set of storefronts. Only a very few roads go north from main, at least until you reach the much newer part of town. There is one exception, and that is the land that now holds the high school and athletic fields. Perhaps this space, years ago also held onto the custom of alleyways. I suppose, if I want to really delve into this towns infrastructure, then I’m going to have to do some research on what was situated on the land that now holds this school complex.

It is pretty clear though that this community was created around a central street of commerce and for unknown reasons at this point, grew southward originally. I suspect, knowing what I do about this general area, that anything farther south, the area that now holds all the ramblers, was likely farm land, and perhaps that is what the northern side of Main was utilized for as well, although that side is much farther from the river. The alleyways were an integral part of the early development, but by the time the farmland was being developed, alleyways had likely become a thing of the past.

Anyway, I promised pictures, and I did take a few, but as it turned out each alleyway I traveled was much like the previous or the next. They tend to follow that pattern of gravel laden access for the garbage service. I did run into one rather unique sight, but unfortunately that involved a human person and I really didn’t think they would appreciate my blatantly snapping a picture. Try to imagine a wooden deck, very large, that had been built onto the back of one of those Craftsmen homes. It looked rickety at best, but sitting up on it, and it was probably 20 feet off the ground, was a lady who was lounging and reading. Not too odd, until you notice the very large gargoyle statue perched next to her. We exchanged hello’s and I moved on, but that has to be a story of interest.

So, a few things I saw as I wandered:

The typical look of the alleyways I encountered. About 1/2 and 1/2 as far as fenced off versus open to back yards. There were a lot of stand alone garages as well, many desperately in need of repair-

Then a few slightly more interesting ways to keep one’s privacy intact: a mammoth laurel hedge, and just a small part of what I estimate to be roughly 20 feet of very natural bamboo “fencing”-

A small peak into someone’s garden, and no- this picture does nothing to show you the detail. I was pretty impressed with their agricultural skills. I wasn’t willing to risk getting caught, but they had some pretty impressive carrots growing close to the fence just to the left of this picture…

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A few random flowers-

And finally, way up there-perched on the wire, a pair of mourning doves. I hear these doves calling every morning, “Coo-ooo…coo, Coo-oo…coo” Every time that I tried to get closer to get a better picture, off they would fly farther down the alley.

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I realized after all this that my apartment site was once the site of a home. the very old, original driveway entrance is still visible along the front avenue. Everyone living on either side of this building, including our tenants, all put their trash out along what once would have been an alleyway, but what now adjoins a public parking lot and the back of the municipal building.

I wonder what my alleyway was like, years ago. I’m going to imagine that it was the grandest one in the entire town.

How does your garden grow…

One of the things that sold me on this apartment was the fact that the landlords allow each tenant to plant whatever they want in the little beds under their two front windows. I miss my plants from the old house, quite a bit actually. I sure couldn’t get out and dig like I used to but I still loved to putter around in the beds, trim and weed, learn what worked and what was a flop, or what would take off wildly all on it’s own without even being asked.

The soil in my new beds was lacking considerably in everything except for overuse. Just a few days ago someone brought in some new topsoil, which was wonderful. I added some compost to that and will continue to amend these beds as my garden grows and changes.

Here’s a picture of what the beds looked like last Wednesday.

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Here’s how mine have changed in the last few days.

I’m taking these pictures with my phone and the sun obviously is not helping, and I am rather sadly lacking in skills when it comes to adjusting photo related things, so I have called on Google to help with some better pictures. I know that first photo looks sad. Those are heuchera, one of my favorites, as are the three bright green plants in the second picture.

Check this website.  Heuchera, or Coral Bells, are really all about the foliage, although the tiny flowers that grow from very thin stalks are quite nice. There are so many varieties. I got one of the lime ones listed on the website, and the three lonely ones are a variety that isn’t even listed there.

Any way, I don’t intend to leave those 3 all alone forever. I’ve ordered some dwarf English Lavender called Wee One, and also an amazingly brilliant perennial called Blanket Flower to go along side and behind the heuchera. They come in early October.

Behind those bright lime green heuchera are some Heliotrope and, my most exciting find, miniature Hosta’s!! They stay small, only getting to be about 12″ all around. The variety I got is called Blue Mouse Ears. Hosta’s are one of my favorite plants and I’ve had good luck with them, but the common type would take over the entire bed so I was thrilled to find these.

This project has been so much fun. Fingers crossed that they all make it through the winter and our rainy spring to come next year.

Surprise!

It was mid-afternoon and I was roaming through websites on the computer, looking for odds and ends like decor ideas and plants for my front flower beds.

The morning had been wonderful. My handy son-in-law, with my oldest daughter and the grand girls in tow, had come over to install my new window screens. Somewhere, in the process of just being around as living space for over 50 years, the screens had either disappeared from my front and bedroom windows, or perhaps they never existed in the first place. SIL picked right up on my desire to have open windows without bugs invading the indoors and went to work making screens for me. I am most pleased.

Anyway, as I was searching out ideas I heard a car door close outside, then a blonde head came into view in the corner of my dining room window. The next thing I knew, coming down the sidewalk towards my door was a face that I haven’t seen in about 2 years.

“Oh my god, Christine,” I shouted as I bolted toward the screen door. We hugged each other, and after a short (because you can cover my entire apartment in less than 1 minute) tour, I spent a few hours chatting with this wonderful lady. I worked with her at the Oral Surgery office and have only seen her sporadically since then.

She has followed my blog over the years, and we’ve been doing the “well we really need to get together” dance but then being awful about actually “getting together.”

I love that she took it upon herself to come exploring for my new home. She hasn’t changed a bit and I feel like our conversation picked up about where we left off the last time we were together. This had to be the best surprise I’ve had in a long time.

And Christine, when you read this just know that you made my day!