Six on Saturday: Muddy Fall Garden Cleanup Continues

It’s November already and my garden “to-do list” has included the following tasks on it for what seems like forever:

    Plant daylilies
    Divide/thin daffodils
    Cut back peonies
    Cut back hosta plants
    Plant tulip and daffodil bulbs

I’m making progress as I traipse around in my muddy flowerbeds. But, as hard as I’ve tried, I just can’t seem to get those items crossed off my list. It has been such a wet fall! This is what gardening looked like this week.

Gardening is a muddy mess.
Cut back an overgrown daylily and uncovered this hidden little bright spot of stonecrop.
Iris ‘Immortality’ just might unfurl a few more fragrant blossoms…and you just might be able to catch a glimpse of a few volunteer snapdragons still holding their own  too.
A wee bit of phlox still strutting its stuff.

We have a locust tree with a nasty habit of dropping messy seed pods for several weeks out of the year. We pay our grandsons to pick up ‘tree poop’ (named for its shape…and because little boys relish gross names). We give the boys 5-gallon pails and pay a goodly sum for each filled pail. As I type, the tree continues to drop seed pods on the ground, thus ensuring these boys a college education over time.

The two youngest grandsons recently spent the night. The aforementioned job is so much more fun under the cover of darkness when glow sticks and flashlights are involved.

img_1131-1
Henry
img_1132-1
George

I’m a little weary for wear today, having been up quite a bit last night taking care of my Momma. But I know that the fresh air does me good, so I spent a little more time cleaning out flowerbeds this morning. Making progress, but what a muddy mess. More rain is in the forecast…and cold too. I know what that means.

The snow will soon fly and soon blanket the flowerbeds in the sleep of winter. What doesn’t get done now will wait until spring when we will start the whole beautiful process once again.


There you have it – my Six on Saturday, a meme started by The Propogator, a UK gardener and friend I’ve never met.  Since joining up with The Propogator and other “sixers” all over the world, I learn something new every week from the participating gardeners…and get to enjoy glimpses of their gardens too. This is the link to the rules if you’d like to join in. It’s hard to imagine there will be anything much to photograph in the coming weeks, but I’m up for the challenge. 

How about you? Do you have a favorite garden cleanup method or tool? I’d sure love it if you’d leave your favorite tip in the comments below.

 

Tuesday’s Caregiver Tip: Busy Hands

One of the biggest challenges of every caregiver is keeping their loved one occupied, feeling productive and useful. I would like to share three things we have discovered my mother enjoys.

Mom’s knees aren’t real stable, so standing for any length of time is difficult. Though I could do the job faster myself, it helps her feel productive if I allow her to dry dishes for us. We set out a towel at the kitchen table, then put the dish rack on top. She has fun sorting, matching and stacking the dishes and flatware as she dries. Mom is very thorough – even drying the dish drainer when she is finished.

Drying Dishes

Someday I would love to make a quilt. My Pinterest board, Quilty Crafty Ideas,  attests to the fact that I’m particularly drawn to scrappy-looking quilts. One day I lugged my sewing machine upstairs from my basement sewing room to the kitchen table so I could keep an eye on Momma and enjoy sewing for a few hours. As I sewed scrappy squares together in pairs for a future project, I discovered quite by accident that my mom enjoyed playing with my fabric squares. I gave her a small pair of scissors and let her snip the threads which connected the pairs. She was happy and content for the entire afternoon.

Sorting fabric squares for quilting

I have a nice little button collection. My grandchildren love to have me dump them out on the living room floor and we can while away an hour or more playing sorting games and choosing favorites. It dawned on me that mom might also enjoy this tactile sensory activity too. I dumped them on a big tea-towel on the kitchen table and mom spent about 3 hours playing with them. I gave her a bunch of little dishes and she sorted them into color families. Sometimes she would look for buttons she particularly liked and then line them up all in a row. Occasionally she would see one that brought back a memory, such as the black buttons that she thought used to be on one of her coats. Button sorting has become a regular activity.

Sorting Buttons

I’d love to read about your activity ideas too. Please do share your favorite activity in the comment section below.

Caregivers, be encouraged to try something new and keep pressing on!

 

Six on Saturday: Searching for Beauty

As I surveyed my gardens this morning, searching for beauty I could share, my eyes at first only saw the work that needed to be done…like pulling all of this frosted hosta.

In focusing on the mess, I nearly missed this lime-green bit of beautifulness.

And the little snapdragon faces smiling at me on the front porch.

I might never have explored the lacy layers of fungus growing on our neighbor’s tree stump and woodpile. Fascinating.

It makes me wonder how many other beautiful things I would see in life if I would just stop to look.

And there you have it — my Six on Saturday. For more glimpses of gardens all around the world, head on over to the Six on Saturday host site at   https://thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com/category/six-on-saturday/.

Growing in Patience and Kindness

“For when the way is rough, your patience has a chance to grow. So let it grow, and don’t try to squirm out of your problems. For when your patience is finally in full bloom, then you will be ready for anything, strong in character, full and complete.”   James 1:3-4 (TLB)

Awakening from a decent night’s sleep, I pushed ‘snooze’ to buy myself just a few more minutes beneath the covers before throwing on my workout clothes, grabbing a quick breakfast and heading out the door to the gym. I remember being grateful for six hours straight of good sleep. The serenity of my cozy space beneath the blankets was quickly invaded by the sound of Mom’s voice on the video monitor on my nightstand. I distinctly heard her say, “Oh, no! Oh no! Oh no-no-no!”

That’s usually not a good thing. Continue reading “Growing in Patience and Kindness”

Palliative Care Praises

As this mid-stage of Alzheimer’s drags on, Mom is sleeping quite a bit more, not only at night (which I appreciate), but during the day as well – sometimes skipping a meal in lieu of sleep. Unfortunately, her nighttime sleep doesn’t appear to be very restful, as she gets in and out of bed various times throughout the night – sometimes to use the restroom, other times to explore the contents of her purse or her dresser drawer, or watch the real or imaginary happenings going on inside our house or outside of her window.

We have also noticed she has been less content during her awake hours and is more easily agitated. She paces back and forth between her bed and her chair at the kitchen table, never quite settled in either place,; never quite sure if she’s going to bed or getting up.

Long ago, when my mother was still able to make her own decisions, we had discussed her wishes related to end of life care. We had agreed that there would be “comfort measures only” as her time here on earth draws to a close – and she entrusted me with the future task of making those decisions.

The future is now, it seems. I’ve wrestled with what to do for her a lot lately and have come to the conclusion that helping her relax, get some rest, and ease her anxiousness does fall within the parameters of “comfort measures only.”

Momma is not yet in a state of decline which requires hospice intervention and end of life care, but she does qualify for palliative care in this transitional time of declining health and memory.

At the end of August, a nurse practitioner came to our home to establish a course of home-based palliative care. I liked Diane right from the start. What’s not to like? Diane enjoys gardening (and daylilies in particular) about as much as I do – even hooking me up with five new daylilies for my garden (pictures to come next summer)!

Mom’s blood pressure was very high, and had been trending that way for some time. This hypertension is likely one of the reasons she has been having increased difficulties with headaches. Diane suggested that a trial of  blood pressure medication might also help her with a number of other uncomfortable problems. She suggested a medication known to have a sedative effect on some patients, which may ease Mom’s anxiety and help her get more restful sleep. For the sake of Momma’s (and my) sleep and for comfort related to hypertensive headaches, I decided to try the medication. I’m not entirely convinced it is helping with sleep, but I am thankful her blood pressure is now normal and headaches are no longer an almost daily complaint.

Diane has been helpful in so many other ways, including being a liaison between me and mom’s primary care physician, following through on medication changes and checking for understanding regarding those changes. She has helped me work through decisions related to whether or not additional dental work should be done (weighing the trauma it may cause versus the benefit it would bring), connected me with caregiver resources and information to feed my inquiring mind.

As a caregiver, I see palliative care as being the comfort care “bridge” between Momma’s failing physical and mental health and the hospice care that will be provided for end of life needs. I am ever so grateful for Diane as she helps me walk my sweet mother Home on this leg of life’s journey with Alzheimer’s.