Winter Wonderland

We have a saying here in Wisconsin.

“If you don’t like the weather, wait 5 minutes.”

Five minutes may be an exaggeration, but not by much. Here are a few photos I captured on a little walk in my neighborhood park on Thursday. [I blogged about that little excursion here.]

Thursday was a sweatshirt or jean jacket sort of day with walkers, runners, joggers, and pet-walkers streaming past our home on their way to or from McKee Farms Park. We Fitchburgians all had one thought in common: enjoy this gorgeous weather now because we’re going to be shoveling snow tomorrow.

The sun hid its face on Friday morning and the temps had dropped to the 30’s. When I looked out my window in the afternoon, it seemed like someone just shook my backyard snow globe and giant snowflakes were falling willy-nilly. The snow wasn’t sticking much, but our crabapple tree looked like it had been decorated for Christmas with a dozen or more red cardinals looking like feathered ornaments, along with a few crazy robins who perhaps didn’t receive the migration memo.

But here’s what we woke up to in our backyard this morning.

It’s beautiful.

That’s my little #SixOnSaturday thing for this week! Thank you to Jon the Propagator for hosting this fun little weekly photo sharing gathering of gardeners around the world. You’re invited to join in on the fun and give us a peek at what’s goin’ on in your little corner of the world.

Grace Awakened Eyes

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Counting our common everyday gifts – our grace gifts from God – is the challenge I have accepted as a discipline of the heart. My current Bible study is encouraging me to take notice of God’s grace in the minutae of life and giving thanks.

Eucharisteo. To be grateful, feel thankful, give thanks.

It’s probably the last day in 2020 where the sun will feel so very warm and the air so beautifully crisp. Today was a good day to take a walk in “my park” just down the street. Today I step off of the paved path and take the lesser traveled pathways worn in the tall grasses in little patches of the park.

Today I take notice of the small things. The glimmer of sunshine low in the sky, streaming through the trees, forming halos around what remains of summer’s flowery offerings.

Photo by Marta Wave on Pexels.com

I thank God for the sun. It’s there every single day, even when I don’t see it, reminding me that God’s grace surrounds us, intricately involved in our ordinary days – even on the darkest and most difficult of days.

My wandering feet cross the expanse of grass still green which not so very long ago hosted soccer games, picnics, and kites. A distant patch of color lures me to explore the paths that other feet have created. Such beauty. I thank God for placing me in a community that has such a wonderful place for families to play and explore. Even now, in the midst of the sickness that stubbornly refuses to loose its grip on humanity, people enjoy its respite and calm.

A colony of milkweed punctuates the wind-flattened grasses. I step into their abode to explore the spent pods which have long since burst open to release next year’s seeds. The fruit pods are dry now, grayed like me with age, yet the outer capsule still bears a design and texture placed there by the Creator. I marvel at the intricacy and find joy of heart when I find one lonely pod still not quite open. The cottony fluff feels like silk to my touch.

I thank God for this herbaceous perennial that beckons the Monarch butterfly to lay her tiny eggs in the shelter of its ovate leaves. One tiny egg for each plant, if she can, so as to make sure the babies she may never see will have food enough to grow, yet not destroy the hospitable host. [Read more about milkweed here.]

I spy Queen Anne’s Lace framed by amber colored grasses tipped in burnt orange and a band of blue sky. She sways tall in the breeze over the meadow grasses, her skirt drawn up and around her as though bracing for winter’s nip. As my aging eyes seek to see more, her Designer’s sage attention to detail reveals a gentle beauty, even though stripped of her ornate white petaled robe.

Somehow, this stately queen of the meadow makes me think of my mother’s gentle beauty. Many have remarked that there was something about her skin that was so lovely and fair – even in her 80’s. But what made her truly beautiful was the beauty of Christ in her. No beauty serum could impart more radiance than my momma’s beautiful reflection of Christ as she imitated Him in life’s ups and downs. Alzheimer’s could not steal that beauty.

I stand in the meadow and thank God for reminding me that this beauty can be mine too. Her faithful example still lingers, pointing the way. Momma’s life still touches mine, even in her absence. Today, I thank God for taking my beautiful momma home so gently. Though she went through many difficult days with Alzheimer’s, years actually, I thank God that now she knows fully they were truly light momentary afflictions when compared with the glory of her heavenly home for which she longed.

Tomorrow the snow will begin to fall and soon it will hurt just a little to take in that first breath of air when we walk outside. Yet, even in that, there will be countless reasons to thank God, be reminded of His grace, and experience true joy in the bounty of His grace upon grace.

Eucharisteo. To be grateful, feel thankful, give thanks.

The Gift of ‘Present’

Well, it’s Tuesday already, but this post is part of the Five Minute Friday blog link-up ( check it out here) where I’m joining up with a community of writers and bloggers of all ages and stages who gather around a single word prompt to freewrite for five minutes without editing. This week’s prompt is [Present}.


Facebook has a feature I enjoy called “Memories.” One click on the memories tab gives me visual reminders of things I have posted on that site a year ago or more. It’s a virtual photo journal reminding me of special times in my life like birthdays, vacations, Bible verses that spoke to my heart, time with the grandkids, or what was blooming in my garden at that time. Many of the photos from the past decade feature my sweet mom. Those photo memories of my mom generally bring a smile, or a hearty laugh, and (only sometimes) a few tears sprinkled here and there. But this week, the fact that I was able to take so many photos of her served to remind me of the amazing opportunity God gave me to give my mother a very special gift in the last years of her life.

The gift of being present.

Present. The gift I’m thankful I could give.

Grandma’s Wonky Christmas Tree

My Christmas tree is a little wonky-looking. A bit oddly shaped, no matter how I fluff it, stubbornly refusing to stand up straight in the rotating base. It has a bit of a wobbly jewelry-box ballerina pirouette going on as it twirls round and round slightly askew. But I love how my wonky tree sparkles as it does its little lopsided twirly dance.

Continue reading “Grandma’s Wonky Christmas Tree”

Vacation Garden Hopping

Long after the colorful petals have fallen, a gardener at heart can see the beauty that was and envision the beauty yet to be.

Barefoot Lily Lady

My hubby knows that one of my favorite things to do while on vacation is to stop and stroll through various public gardens. On this late October trip, we knew the gardens would likely be past their prime. That’s okay though, for long after the colorful petals on flowers have fallen, a gardener at heart can see the beauty that was and envision the promise of beauty yet to be.

Thankfully, as we pointed our car toward our destination of visiting good friends in Louisiana, with each mile we seemed to leave the cold Wisconsin weather in our wake. I’m so grateful my hubby didn’t feel the need to conquer the road; instead, veered off the interstate on several occasions so we could take the scenic route. How delightful to see lovely autumn flowers still graced the roadside, spilled from pots in public places, and dotted the flowerbeds of fellow gardeners along these back roads.

We did a little road trip antique-ing too. We certainly don’t need more “stuff”, but enjoy little stretch breaks. With both of us being on the plus side of 60, it was easy to find memories of our own childhoods tucked in amongst vintage stuff in the nooks and crannies of the antique malls. Wayne even found a bit of nostalgia from his years as a signalman in the Navy back in the early 70’s.


Our first overnight stop was at Benton Park Inn, a quaint B&B in a historic section of St. Louis. Benton Park was right across the street from from the B&B — a lovely park with paved pathways meandering throughout its acreage. It was the perfect place for us to stretch our legs after our day of driving. We were also within easy walking distance of Frazer’s, an excellent restaurant our gracious host had suggested. The meal was super delicious and the shared piece of key lime pie made me wish I had ordered my own slice. We enjoyed both the inn and the restaurant so much that we returned a second time to both establishments on our trip homeward two weeks later.

Stop #2 on our journey south would be Memphis, Tennessee. We stayed at the Double Tree Hilton Hotel (excellent!), enjoyed Corky’s Memphis style BBQ (oh, my, YUM!), and then walked the nearby Memphis Botanic Garden. With 96 beautiful acres, there was much to explore. My favorite discovery was a very aptly named plant known as Cat’s Whiskers.

Intriguing ‘Cat’s Whiskers’ (Orthosiphon aristatus) at Memphis Botanic Garden

Cat’s Whiskers (Orthosiphon aristatus) is a herbaceous perennial and member of the mint family that blooms all summer long in the south. It reminds me a little bit of Spider Flower (Cleome), which I am able to grow in Wisconsin. Cleome is more orb shaped and has spidery looking stamen, while Cat’s Whisker’s snowy white stamens look very much like the namesake feline whiskers. You can see it growing here and there everywhere in Tennessee and Louisiana — it flourishes in full sun, but seems to appreciate a bit of afternoon shade. I should have brought home some seed, as I think it would grow as an annual in pots in my growing zone.

With every place that I roam, flowers lure me to explore the intricate beauty of God’s creation just a little bit more closely. His handiwork is clearly seen in the minute details of earth’s splendor.

Clover in the Lawn: From Friend to Weed to Friend Again! — Laidback Gardener

Who remembers laying on their belly running your fingers through the grass in search of a four leaf clover? I do. My dad had the nicest, best kept lawn in the neighborhood. I scarcely remember when the clover disappeared from it, but it probably left once dad hired a company to come in a few times a year to do several “lawn applications” to keep his grass green. This article builds a case for not being so uptight about white clover. Hmmmm…I wonder if the bunnies would eat fewer of my flowers if they had more clover to munch on?

How did such a wonderful plant as clover come to be considered a weed? Photo: life.shared.com Here’s a quick overview of the incredible story of a simple little plant, white clover (Trifolium repens), and how it went from being the best friend a lawn ever had to being considered a noxious and despised weed to […]

via Clover in the Lawn: From Friend to Weed to Friend Again! — Laidback Gardener

Proud to promote Alzheimers! – Dad it’s Liam

I want to introduce you to the author of a blog called ‘Dad it’s Liam.’ I ‘met’ Liam through my blog, both of us on similar journeys navigating life caring for a parent with Alzheimer’s. If Liam’s “5 Top Tips for Care Partners” sounds similar to topics I have written about, it’s because navigating the world of Alzheimer’s sets caregivers everywhere on common ground, even if we live continents apart.

https://daditsliam.wordpress.com/2020/09/28/proud-to-promote-alzheimers/

A Prayer for Grace

It brings me joy when I find a little prayerful note written in my mother’s handwriting. Seeing what was on her heart and mind at certain times of her life gives me insight into the depth of her trust in the Lord.

I recently picked up a little spiral notebook in my stash of things which once belonged to my mom. Giving the pages a quick flipping through, I noticed most of the pages were blank, so I decided to make use of it as my own journal. I thought the journal was blank, but then her handwriting caught my attention on the very last couple of pages.

Let me share with you one of those entries.

Today is March 12, 2016. Life goes on and God has provided. I am so thankful for all who have cared for me.

Jim Meiller – Snow removal; also mow grass.

My caregivers – Cindie and Vivian

Wayne – takes care of my bills. PTL!

And so many more to list.

Lord, I know that I do not have much longer. I ask for grace for these times. It has not been easy, but you have provided for all my needs and so much more. Please give me grace for my remaining time before you call me home.

I do hope Jerry remembers me!

Take care of my family and my friends!!!

So many more but, oh yes, thank you for ice cream!

Charlotte P. Boyles

Looking at the date on her journal entry, I am surprised by her clarity of thought for writing out what was on her heart, as Alzheimer’s had dealt some harsh memory-robbing blows. I recall we were in the midst of packing her belongings and getting ready for her big move at that time. In just over a week, she would leave the place she had called “home” for the past 55 years and move 90 miles away to a little place near me, and I was having trouble with mom unpacking the boxes that I had spent hours packing. Finding her prayer for grace during what was a very stressful time for her, well, it just speaks to my heart about how I can trust God for my future too. Even if it includes Alzheimer’s.

Best Dementia Staging Explanation EVER!

If you’ve been following my blog for any length of time, you know I love to write about gardening and share some of the 4,987 pictures of flowers I have on my phone.

You also know that I cared for my mom in the last years of her life while she battled Alzheimer’s. I documented and photojournaled our journey on my blog (and a bit on Facebook too).

You may not know that I have also been overseeing the care of my brother who has significant medical needs, including a form of short-term memory loss called vascular dementia, due in part to unchecked diabetes.

Having both a mother and a brother with dementia weighs on me. Add a grandparent from each side of my family to the equation and every forgetful moment takes me to the edge of tears every time I forget something more significant than where I left my car keys.

"Caregiving is a constant learning experience."

Because dementia has struck so close to home, I have diligently sought to educate myself about the subject and have made it my goal to share with anyone who is interested any knowledge I glean or resources I discover.

I honestly think I have read nearly every book ever written for dementia caregivers. This book is my personal favorite.

If you check my Google activity log, you’ll know why the ads that pop up on my Facebook account relate to items specific to dementia care. I belong to two Facebook groups for caregivers. I even have a Pinterest board related to Alzheimer’s. I listen to podcasts and follow the blogs and Instagram feeds of others who write or photo-journal about Alzheimer’s and caregiving. I belong to a caregiver support group sponsored by Agrace, the hospice that helped take care of my mom in her final year of life. I have often surfed YouTube channels in search of information related to caring for someone with dementia.

Today I would like to share information from the YouTube channel of one of my favorite medical experts, Dr. Natali Edmonds, founder of a dementia support community called Careblazers. In this video, Dr. Natali discusses the various stages of dementia and the three most common tools for measuring where a loved one with dementia (LOWD) is in the course of their dementia decline. In my opinion, it’s the best explanation you will ever get in 13 minutes and 24 seconds.

If you are caring for a loved one with any type of dementia, I highly recommend subscribing to the Careblazer YouTube channel. Dr. Natali posts informative, compassionate, bite-size videos on most any subject a caregiver might encounter on their caregiving journey.