"I have always been delighted at the prospect of a new day, a fresh try, one more start, with perhaps a bit of magic waiting somewhere beyond the morning." - J.B. Priestly

Thursday, January 10, 2013


My mom has always had a green thumb.  She can pluck a leaf off of anything and, a few months later, she has a full-grown plant.  Her African Violets continually bloom and re-bloom (and that's a plant I won't even try any more).  Upon moving down to Florida, she left all of her houseplants behind with my sister, but I'm betting she'll have a house full there by the next time I go back.
Chinese evergreen & draecena
On the other hand, my efforts with houseplants have not always been successful.  However, I now have a living room full of the most beautiful plants and I'm so thrilled!  I have a Chinese Evergreen that was given to me when I had surgery many, many years ago and, because they're pretty low maintenance, it has flourished and grown dramatically.

Then, there is a draecena that I bought at Sam's Club one time.  It was small and, while it was healthy, it definitely needed some care.  Now I keep it in front of the window all winter and out on the front porch all summer.  It's 4 times the size it was when I bought it.

When taking my Master Gardener classes in 2011, there was a class on plant propagation and I started a spider plant from a snipped leaf.  Now, 18 months later that plant is enormous and sending out spider shafts in all directions.

Peace Lily and Meyer Lemon
I also have a Norfolk Pine that is large and healthy, a peace lily that is healthy and sending out pretty white flowers regularly, a Meyer Lemon tree that I just planted this past summer so the jury is still out, and a couple of smaller plants that I'm coaxing along.  Then, there's also the English Ivy (mentioned in a prior post) that is flourishing in the front window as it spends the winter indoors.  It normally hangs outdoors during the summer.

Philodendron in blue beads
Finally, I have an experimental philodendron.  I plucked a leaf from a healthy plant at the public library, and it is now in a vase filled with those beads that sit in water and grow large.  The beads are generally used for cut flowers to hold the flowers in place and add beauty to the vase, but I thought I'd try it as a propagation medium -- and it's working extremely well!  We're up to a total of 5 full leaves and a sixth is beginning to unfurl.  It's a little tricky because the beads alone aren't enough to nourish the plant, and the water tends to get pretty gross if not kept fresh.  A learning experience!  [Side bar:  Stacy is now using those grow beads as a planting medium for forcing bulbs.  I'm interested in how that will turn out.]
Spider plant in the center & Norfolk Pine to the right

All-in-all, I've moved from someone who neglected or flat-out killed my houseplants to one who now needs to stop bringing them into the house as I've run out of room!  Very satisfying.

Beautiful Amaryllis

And one final picture of my beautiful amaryllis.  It had three blossoms that were a soft shade of red and almost white streaked.  Unfortunately, the blooms were gone before Christmas, which is when the second stem really grew.  Now I have a pot with a large V-shaped double stem that isn't very attractive but it will have to just take it's own time for the foliage to die off.  I really want that bulb to stay nice and healthy so I can plant it again for Christmas of 2013.

I'm guessing that even a monkey could have gotten it to grow since, when I went into the store closer to Christmas, I saw tons of unsold plants literally growing out of the boxes on the shelf.  It appears that the bulbs were going to sprout whether they were planted or not!

Snow Storm

As mentioned in the previous post, we got Mom moved to Florida just in time as there was a snowstorm right before Christmas.  On TV they were calling it a blizzard, but it didn't look or feel like a blizzard.  No howling winds or ice crystals slamming against the window.  It was just a lot of snow and, then, some winds that came a bit later.

We ended up with 10 1/2 inches of snow, which is amazing because we still had green grass in places before the snowstorm.  We literally went from zero snow to 10 1/2 inches on the ground.

I always wonder about the little birds when there's a storm going on.  Where do they go?  How do they find food?  It was funny, then, to see this little guy huddled in my window bird feeder.  He was inside it for shelter and he was putting his little beak right against the glass and drinking the melting snow as it trickled down the window.  Pretty awesome really.

Jeff was out of town and I was pretty sure he wasn't going to be able to get back.  Sure enough, he was able to fly into Minneapolis but the flights were cancelled from there.  So he rented a car to drive home.  In the meantime, though, I had 10 inches of snow in my driveway and on the sidewalks.  I have this pretty hard and fast rule:  I clean and shop and cook and do the gardening and I'll mow the lawn and I take care of my own car, but I don't do snow removal.  Period.  Mostly because I can't run the snow blower and it's not worth the aching back to shovel the heavy stuff.  Now that I'm retired, I'm good with staying in until the Spring thaw, if necessary. 

In this case, however, I was rescued when Scott and Alex came over.  Alex and I played in the house while Scott blew the snow off the driveway so I could get out.

So, we had snow on the ground for Christmas, which is always nice, but that's enough now for the winter.  The ground is covered to keep the grass and shrubs nice and warm through the cold weather so I don't think we need any more, thank you.

Mom's Move to Florida

An incredible amount of work was undertaken by all of us this past summer in clearing out the house and the garage and the storage shed, plus painting and landscaping, to get Mom's house ready to go on the market.  By August, we had it ready to go, picked a realtor, and went off on our Alaska cruise.  While on the cruise, we heard from the realtor that the feedback he was getting indicated that the selling price was set too high so, over a period of a couple of weeks, we lowered the price down almost to where we had wanted to set it to begin with.  He was certain that it would go for more money, but it ended up quite close to our initial estimate.

After sluggish activity in the early Autumn, we decided to just go ahead and get everything ready for the trip to Florida.  Mom had already purchased her new home and was going to head down earlier than we had done last year in an effort to avoid having to deal with the snow.  We took a quick trip down in September to see the home and spent a whole week cleaning and painting.  It looked (and still looks) really pretty and clean and nice.  When we came home, we decided that we'd leave November 11 -- my plan being to drive down with Mom and then fly back home.

Then there was an offer on the house.  This was a pre-approved buyer so it looked pretty good.  Then, she couldn't get financing after all, but was going to continue to try to find another lender.  The accepted offer specified a closing date in early December, but it didn't appear that the sale was going to go through so we were still planning to leave November 11.

Then she found another lender and the round of inspections started so we thought it best to postpone the trip.  But we heard absolutely nothing further and assumed everything had fallen through so we made new plans to leave the Monday after Thanksgiving.  At this point, we had been pretty lucky with the weather -- only one small snowfall -- but we didn't want to wait too long.

Then the phone call came that the loan had been approved subject to yet another inspection.  In the midst of all of the waiting, we decided that it would be smart to get the house packed up because that closing date in early December was still valid.  So, when the house inspector came, it was to a house that was already being emptied.  He ended up taking over 6 hours to inspect every little thing in the house, resulting in a request by the buyer to have an old fuse box removed and the outlets in the kitchen and bathroom replaced.  This required an electrician, of course, and this happened during the week of Thanksgiving when everyone was out hunting.  There was no chance of an electrician coming in until after Thanksgiving so, once again, our travel plans had to change and I had to cancel another flight.

Finally, though, the electrician showed up and did his job.  The closing was set for the 5th of December (instead of the original date of the 4rd) so, on that day, we finished taking everything to the storage unit, returned the cable and TV boxes, signed the papers, picked up the big check and left for Milwaukee where we spent the night before leaving for Florida on Thursday, the 6th.  Got all the way to just south of Atlanta on that Thursday night, so we made it to the house on Friday afternoon.  Finally!

So, Mom's all moved in and enjoying the nice Florida weather without worrying about the snow and cold that we've been having in Wisconsin since right before Christmas.  Pretty soon, the visits will start from all of who are still up here in the cold and looking for a break!