At the End of 2020

The year has been a pretty lousy one for me, and not just because of Covid. I lost a couple of important people.

First, I had to admit that my sister’s strange behavior was not going away. Living far from her meant that our conversations were over the phone, and talking with her was becoming more and more stressful. She would dwell on things and talk about them constantly as if they were the most important things – like a snowstorm. She repeated herself a lot. She told me she was paying her bills twice, or not paying them at all. She was having trouble at work and decided she needed to retire. When I spoke to her son, he knew all about her issues. He took her to see a doctor and she has a form of dementia.

I believe it began years ago, but it creeps up. I dealt with my mother who had Alzheimers and that was a challenge. When I sister began to repeat herself without realizing it, or acknowledging it when I pointed it out, I worried. It’s one of the first things I had noticed about my mother’s behavior.

My sister is younger than I am, but already she has stopped calling or picking up her phone. She does not reply to texts either. I have lost my sister. She was the only thread tying me to our distant family members and she is my only sibling. We talked on the phone nearly every day. My mother died years ago, and my father is estranged from us so my immediate family is now gone.

Another friend, who is much older, also dropped out of the picture and I have no idea why. Her phone is disconnected, and I figure either she went into the hospital and died, or went to live with one of her children. She has not contacted me, so I am left in limbo, and assume she is simply gone from my life.

There is no hope for a happy new year any longer, and I won’t kid myself, but I will be traveling to see my kids in Spring. Masks or not, I am going for an extended trip to make up for the two years I’ve been away. So there is something to look forward to.

This Christmas I will be home with one of my sons and we’ll cook food and have drinks and enjoy the day, just us two. Last Christmas I was dog-sitting and spent the holidays alone – well, with the dog – who was a sweetheart. I didn’t want to commit to that again. It was very lonely. Their neighbors knew the circumstances, that the people were traveling to be with family, and I was alone watching their dog. Yet no one dropped off a meal, or thought of me sitting alone in the house eating a frozen pizza for Christmas. They spoke to me and should certainly have thought that a plate would have been appreciated. It’s quite amazing how strangely people behave.

People have their own busyness to deal with. Family and friends and good times abound, and they all assume that everyone is doing the same types of things. I don’t believe they think too much about it. No one wants to ruin their happiness with thoughts of the poor and lonely.

For those of you who may read this and will spend the holidays alone, or in a very low key situation, know that I am thinking of you. I’ve spent plenty of lonely holidays and some have been downright miserable. This year I plan to make the best of it, which is all we can really do.

2021. It’s coming. I don’t know what to think.

A Blooming Orchid and Hydrangea Update

The other day we had a massive storm, with a tornado touchdown just west of where we live. It brought 4.5 inches of water, which filled the drainage ditches and low-lying areas. In Florida, rainwater seeps away into the ground fairly quick and we can handle that amount of rain.

As I was picking up overturned plants and inspecting my gardens, I discovered that my old orchid plant had a stem full of buds! I have two orchid plants that sit outside in the shade of a bigger shrub. Orchids appreciate the humidity, but don’t like direct sunlight. That is the extent of my orchid knowledge, and I moved them outdoors where they can get what they need.

blooming orchid with pink flower
Finally – blooming again

This orchid was a gift from my daughter many years ago when she was a little girl. I’ve kept it, and traveled all over New Hampshire with it in all my moves. Now I (and it) are back in Florida, and the plant seems to be happier. I can’t remember when it bloomed last.

Just behind where the orchid sits in the garden is my hydrangea! It has really grown, but there are no flowers. See my first hydrangea photos here. It remained quite small for a while, but now it is taking off. Maybe the roots have taken hold, and the fertilizer has kicked in.

Florida outdoor hydrangea shrub
Florida outdoor hydrangea shrub

Did you notice my little croton starter plants in the photo above? I have four across the front of the garden (three in the photo). I rooted them from cuttings.

The wind blew the banana tree over a bit so now the bunch of bananas growing is reachable.

banana tree with bunch of bananas
Drooping bunch of bananas

May 2020 In My Florida Yard

While I am hanging out at home (which I pretty much do all the time anyway) I have given the yard some attention. I thought I’d share photos of what is growing in my Florida yard.

Here in my area of Florida we’ve had a few very cool nights (ya..60’s), but I’ll take it. By May it’s usually hotter than this, but I am not compaining. I’ve still been taking walks early without sweating too badly and it’s been nice outdoors for puttering in the yard.

Garden around a tree
Tropical garden plants

I took some croton cuttings the other day and they are sitting in a pail of water waiting for roots to grow. I’ve had success with propagating crotons, and Spring is a good time to get cuttings of new growth.

One of my previous croton cuttings, gave me a new cutting… and now that first plant is shooting off new growth. It’s a beautiful little plant with dark reddish orange veins. Because this croton grows beneath an oak tree, it does not get lots of direct sun and that keeps the leaf color darker. Now it will give me a new plant!

In the back corner of the yard are some banana trees. They have grown a bunch of bananas, but I can’t reach them. I zoomed in to get this photo because they are quite high. We could probably eat them if only they were closer. We did not plant these trees.

Bananas on the tree
Bunch of bananas out of reach

I don’t go out to the store, so I haven’t bought new dirt or seeds, so I’m working with what I have. A tomato plant began growing from seeds of a tomato I used as compost. I’ll cut up vegetables and just throw them in my garden. Now I’ve picked 2 semi-large tomatoes and have some cherry tomatoes growing also.

Cherry tomato plant
Some tiny cherry tomatoes

The front garden doesn’t get much attention from me. It’s where the croton is (see it upper left) and I planted a baby bromeliad – right. Front right is the pink caladium, which disappears underground for months and comes back in Spring. I also had a white caladium, but that has not grown back this year.

Garden around a tree with pink caladium, rubber plant, croton and grass.
Tropical garden plants
Florida garden
Skittle watches as I photograph my little garden

The Azalea is doing well with lots of green leaves. And the rubber tree – also taken from a cutting, is doing quite well. The Bromeliad double, which is white and pink, was the original plant I purchased. I’ve dug out babies and planted them around the yard.

New Guinea impatiens do best with some shade. These will last a long time – sometimes over a year – with shade, water and care.

New Guinea impatiens
New Guinea impatiens

The green plants which make a low hedge across the front are filling in nicely. I had cut them back, added dirt and fertilizer and mulch. They looked very ugly and sparse, but no more. They will end up filled in and pretty. They just needed attention.

Last but not least is my hydrangea! It is alive, but very small at this point. It’s been fertilized, and watered, and I’ll watch to see what happens. It’s not at all like the hydrangeas I was used to in New England. Florida is like a completely different country.

Hydrangea in Spring
In May – the Hydrangea

I hope you are keeping busy while all this Covid virus stuff persists. Maybe it’s almost time for gardening where you are. I hope so.

September in Florida is Good and Bad

September is the month I was born. Usually my birthday fell on the first day of school, which made it a lousy birthday for me. This year Hurricane Dorian passed by my Florida home for the celebration. Actually, there was no celebration, just some wind and rain. September is a bad month for hurricanes. We’ll be keeping our hurricane shutters on for a while.

tall weed with yellow flowers
Tall weed with yellow flowers
Continue reading “September in Florida is Good and Bad”