Gardening in the Desert

While living in Michigan, one of my favorite times of year was Spring and the possibilities of a new garden growing and flourishing in the summer. However, living in Arizona, it’s entirely different.  Moving from the Midwest to the Southwest is an education not only in life style, but in growing style.

Hybiscus

Hybiscus

Aloe Flower Stalk

Aloe Flower Stalk

Purple Heart Flower

Purple Heart Flower

In moving to Phoenix, I have learned the planting here is done on a different schedule. Because of the extreme heat in the summer, the planting is done in the fall starting in September or it can be done late winter for harvest in late April.

Some of the flowering trees and plants that flourish here are Oleander, Bougainvillea, and  Lantana.

Fuchsia Bougainvillea

Fuchsia Bougainvillea

Purple Lantana

Purple Lantana

White Oleander

White Oleander

They can take the heat and are drought resistant.  The shade and moisture loving Hostas or Impatiens are not for the desert.  If you have grass in the desert, you will do two plantings…one in the fall called a winter rye and Bermuda grass is planted in the spring for a summer grass.  This can mean a lot of up keep and work, not to mention the water needed to keep it thriving.  Many people opt for a desert landscape to avoid all the work involved in the up keep of grass.

Cacti and succulents such as Aloe and Purple Heart do well here, but are adaptable to other areas. I brought a Purple Heart and an Aloe here from Michigan and they have not only done well, but produced many babies.

Aloe

Aloe

Purple Heart

Purple Heart

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As with everything, we learn to adapt to our surroundings. This year I’ll be planting my first vegetable garden in the desert!  Tomatoes, Swiss Chard, Eggplant, basil, parsley, and arugula.  I will plant the tomatoes in late winter and the rest in late October.  I’ll take pictures and keep you posted to to the progress.

Meanwhile, here’s the BEFORE picture of my garden minus the garden, plants and flowering tree I’ll be putting in.

Before Vegetable Planting

Before Vegetable Planting

 

Happy gardening wherever you live!!!

 

 

 

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Take The High Line

In the past, I’ve written about many parks…from Hines Park in Michigan to Central Park in NYC.  Parks have always held a fascination for me. Perhaps because they not only offer a beautiful place to gather, but a place of peacefulness and contrast to the busy hustle that’s  all around them.

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A cool feature of the High Line is this lookout area with bleacher seating and a plexiglass window where you can look down over 10th Avenue.

On my last visit to NYC, I took a walk on the High Line which is a 1.45-mile long elevated park.

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View of a meatpacking building near the entrance of the High Line

The thing that I found particularly intriguing is that it’s made from an old railroad!  The High Line was built on an unused section of the West Side railroad line running from Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District through 14th Street and ending on the West side at 34th Street.

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Joshua David and Robert Hammond, who were residents of the neighborhood, formed a non profit in 1999 called Friends of the High Line.  They advocated for reusing the railroad line, which was scheduled to be demolished, to be transformed as a new, green space and elevated park for the people to enjoy.

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The High Line passes underneath The Standard Hotel

The park has used some of the plantings that grew between the tracks naturally as part of the landscape. This, along with trees and bushes, make for a cool place to sit enjoy a drink and listen to music.

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You can see railroad tracks peeking out from the grass

There are musicians and food vendors along the route.  As you walk you’ll notice parts of the railroad tracks are visible, almost hidden by the grasses that grow up around them.

It truly is a unique experience so if you get a chance, take the High Line!

 

 

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Uniting Not Dividing

This is the year of campaign speeches. Presidential hopefuls who are all out hoping to get our vote and become the next leader of the United States.

I have hesitated expressing my political views in my blog in the past. Mainly because people have the freedom and the right to believe what they choose. What you have to say will more than likely not change their point of view, but may cause some dissension.

The candidates all say what we want to hear because, after all, they are pandering to us and want our vote.   Only some of what they promise is going to be carried out if they are elected into office.  Most of what they have to say is mere rhetoric.  This has been going on and on since I can remember.  This isn’t new, it’s just getting more intense coverage from the media and social networks.

The question we should be asking ourselves is what qualities we want in our next leader and commander in chief?

In the early days, our forefathers fought unselfishly to make our county free, guided by principles and honor.   In The United States of America, the land of free, people come here for that freedom.  Our country is a melting pot and much like a pot on the stove, sometimes it boils over and creates problems.  Just like in a family, problems can be rectified and the family can be whole and united again, but it takes work.

The worst thing that can happen to a family or a country is to be divided.    Our enemies pray on the weak and we are the weakest when we are not united as a people.

When you go to the polls, think about the person you are voting for and ask yourself, will this the person keep our country strong and united? Does he or she truly love the United States and want the best for it’s people?

 

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Friendship


The best thing about a true and enduring friendship is that it gets better with age, much like the patina of a pearl.  Just as you have to protect and care for your pearls,  you must also protect and care for your friendships.

After a period of time, the pearl  develops in the oyster shell from a grain of sand.  A friendship also takes time to mature and develop.  Getting to know someone is a process of discovery and learning that brings enrichment into your life and theirs.

I feel very fortunate to have the friends I have.  It’s quite remarkable when you haven’t spoken in a long time that when you pick up the phone to talk with them it’s so easy to pick up where you left off and the conversation flows back and forth with ease.

When you are happy they are happy for you just as when you are sad or going through a hard time they are there to support and love you unconditionally.  There is trust knowing they would never betray your confidences.

One of the things my friends  know how to do is laugh and look at the bright side.  If I am having a down day their words bring me back up and make my cup full.

Friendship does take work, especially when you’ve moved away from each other and can’t see each other very often, but the work that it takes to maintain that friendship is so worth while.

 

 

 

 

 

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Finding a Good Doctor

How many of you out there have a really good doctor? One who spends more than five minutes with you and four out of the five minutes being spent on his or her computer filling out prescriptions or updating your chart?

We all want a doctor who cares about us and our well being. Not only as our provider, but as a caring individual who knows us and wants to make us feel better. Sounds simple doesn’t it? I asked myself this question the other day when I heard from my daughter about her exam with her doctor. She said he never asked her how she was feeling, just did routine testing that insurance pays for. Very impersonal.

We have the right to have a doctor that cares about us and takes the time to really listen to what we have to say. One who observes us so there is connection between the doctor and the patient. We deserve at least that much if only to compensate for waiting what seems like forever to be seen.

In the sixth grade I developed what they thought was rheumatic fever and I was out of school at home in bed for the whole school year. My doctor not only cared, but made home visits.  I do realize the day of home visits has gone by but it seems to me that we could find a happy medium between house calls and the impersonal visits we get every time we go for a check up or to see the doctor now.

Good luck in finding a doctor you can connect with and don’t give up trying until you do.

 

 

 

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Sunrise, Sunset

The one thing that never ceases to amaze me is the stunningly beautiful sunrise and sunsets that we have to look at each morning and evening.  Much like a snowflake, each one is different.

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With the sunrise come the promise of a new day. It’s hues are spread across the sky with harmonizing colors that burst into new patterns, blending and changing by the second.  For me, the sunrise is almost a “Hi” from the sky. It makes me want to capture it’s friendly smile and smile back.  I’ve seen many a sunrise and they all give me positive energy to start my day.

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The sunset is the close to the day. The color of the sunsets are usually a little more brilliant then the sunrise but not always.

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Some of my favorite sunsets were at Houghton Lake, Michigan. Riding in a canoe with my father drinking up the warmth and reflection of the sun setting into the water.  The peacefulness was all around us. The quiet of the day was in our laps.

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Living in Arizona gives me a different perspective as the sky out here is more open than anywhere I have lived.  You could be at Walmart and catch a great sunset or sunrise no tall buildings to obscure the beauty.

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All of the photos were taken by myself. Though you must realize a photograph can’t really capture the unique splendor as seeing it in person with your own eyes.

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It’s not what you say but how you say it.

To say the spoken word has the power to endear us, to anger us, to make us happy, or make us sad, would be an understatement.  Even a word as simple as hello or goodbye can set the mood for what will happen next depending on how they are said.

In thinking back of my run-ins as a child with my parents, it wasn’t so much the words I spoke, but the sassy way they came out of my mouth that angered my parents.  I remember saying with a look of defiance and hands place firmly on my hips, “What did I say?!” like I didn’t know what they were talking about.  Their reply to me, “It’s not what you say it’s how you say it.”

In most cases we are aware of what we are saying but maybe not the way we are delivering our words.  In my last blog post called Empathy, I talked about understanding and putting ourself  in someone else shoes.  Once again I am writing about thinking about how our actions and reactions affect others.

Whether your tone reflects warmth and sincerity, is dismissive or arrogant, or patronizing, the way your words are delivered is the action that brings on the reaction.  We have the power to create a negative or positive result.

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Empathy

Empathy, by definition, is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.  It isn’t sympathy or feeling sorry for the person. It’s understanding and feeling their pain or joy as if it were your own.

Can empathy be taught to a young child so they better understand someone who looks or acts differently than they do?  Can kindness be taught?

Being accepted by your peers is not only important for children, but for adults as well.  Whether you are in a specific group such as cheerleader, football player, or church group, any circle of friends rewards likeness and conformity.  It takes a very confident person to step out of their profile and see what is going on outside the group. Even more to understand why the differences are there. To step into someone else’s shoes and try to imagine how you would feel in their situation.

If someone is isolated from a group or shunned because of their differences, it is up to us to break the chain and welcome the outsider with kindness and understanding.  This is not always going to made a difference overnight.  If one person starts the process than others will follow suit.  It’s not easy to have the courage of your own conviction, but the rewards are enormous.

Kindness and empathy are easy words to say, but it takes courage to live these words and make a difference.

We can show by example. Not only to our children, but to other human beings how rewarding it can be to better understand and accept with kindness those who touch our lives.

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A Day on the NYC Water Taxi

As many times as I have visited New York City, each time I go back, I experience or see something new and this September was no exception.

Pier 79 on the Hudson River

Pier 79 on the Hudson River

The weather was perfect for a day touring lower Manhattan on the NYC Water Taxi.  I have taken other tours of Manhattan before, but never from the water.

NYC Water Taxi arriving at Pier 1 Brooklyn

NYC Water Taxi arriving at Pier 1 Brooklyn

The yellow taxi was striking against the cloudless, blue sky as it pulled into Pier 1 Brooklyn, between the Brooklyn Bridge and DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass).  All the passengers  boarded the welcoming yellow boat.

Enjoying the sea breeze

Enjoying the sea breeze

I chose the open air top deck for better viewing. A breezy, fun place to be even though an occasional wave caught me off guard as I stood to take a picture!

 

 

Lady Liberty

Lady Liberty

The view of the skyscrapers from the water was spectacular as we approached our first stop, the Statue of Liberty.   You could see her getting closer and closer as they played God Bless America over the speakers on the boat. It’s hard to put into words the pride that I felt when I saw the Statue of Liberty up close. So proud to be an American.

Brooklyn Bridge

Brooklyn Bridge

The taxi continued on to dock at different locations: Red Hook in Brooklyn, passing Ellis Island on the way to dock at Pier 79 on the Hudson River in Manhattan (where the ocean liners docked back in the day).   We passed the fashionable neighborhoods of Tribecca and The Bowery on the way to dock at Battery Park, 1 World Trade Center and the 9/11 Memorial.

One World Trade Center

One World Trade Center

 

It’s so amazing to me to think how much has happened since that horrific day on 9/11.  The memorial, a tribute to those who lost their lives on 9/11, and the tall imposing building that was built in place of the twin towers is magnificent.  Seeing all of this up close makes me even more confident in the strength and resilience of America and its people.

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My Mother’s Niche

My mother came from a family that not only enjoyed listing to music, but played music as well. Being the youngest in the family, she grew up listening to her four brothers and sister playing their instruments together in the evening.  This was their normal evening entertainment when everybody was home at night.  Her sister also played piano in the local theater for the silent movies before talkies.  So it was a natural course of events that my mother would learn to play something, and that something happened to be a piano.

My mother’s interest and talent for music carried on through the years.  Shortly after we moved to Belding, she and my father purchased a piano.  It was amazing to me how fast and easily her hands moved across the keys, especially her left hand, as she played.  She had the biggest smile on her face when she would play Bumble Boogie or Malagueña for my father who was her biggest fan and admirer.  Anyone that came to our home would ask her to play for them.  Looking back, I don’t even think she knew how talented she was.

In the years that followed, my mother taught piano in our home to many of my classmates.  She loved working with children and was a very good teacher.  I wish I had stuck with my piano lessons but, at the time, impatience ruled my better judgment.

She accompanied the Junior Choir and eventually became Junior Choir director.  Her last position for our church was church organist.  I remember her going down to practice and how very dedicated she was.  I loved to listen to her when she played.  Those pipes just bellowed.

My mother was a homemaker and a stay at home mom.  Music was her perfect niche.  She could be at home with her children and still pursue her love of music through teaching piano and working for our church. How nice it would be if we could all pursue our passion and find our niche.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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