Monday, June 06, 2022

It's Been a Minute . . . Or a Year.

Eldercare BROKE me. 

At least for a while. 
After the six months mom needed full time care and the year since with dad, it consumed me. At the time it's the only thing to do. There was no time frame in my head of how it would go. Some days I was there 24 hours. Some days I stole away for an hour and a half to go home. To hug my husband and my dog. To walk our trails and feel normal. There was nobody else to care for my parents if they were to remain in their home. So I did. 

It's been 4 weeks since my dad fell. Again. This time it felt different. Although I managed to help him up and eventually back into bed, the sound of the back of his head hitting the floor from three rooms away insisted I call someone. At first he was aware of his surroundings. By the end of the day he couldn't pull up my name. 

He remained on the 5th floor of the hospital because Nursing homes & Hospice care had no openings. The possibility of lingering in one of those places for months or years left all of us with a feeling of dread. The nurse said he slipped away between the 7 & 9 p.m. comfort checks on Memorial Day.

The (guilty) relief that it finally has ended has cheated me of grieving the parents I love. It's been 4 weeks since I've been home. Fixing myself. Taking care of things I let go for a year and a half. Getting the garden in. Ugly crying will come. I can usually tell when it's building.

But for now I'm remembering to take deep breaths. To live normal.

Yesterday Tom and I went for a long ride to a favorite fishing spot. 

I took mom's shiny red fishing pole I found in a corner of their garage a few months ago. A quick test of a few casts across the lawn proved it still worked well. 

Tom beat me with the first cast out and caught the 1st fish - which I always tease him I'M GOING TO CATCH . . . AND THE BIGGEST :) 

\<sigh> I managed to get the hook wrapped around some scrub brush in front of me but eventually spit on the worm (as dad taught me), cast out and with a gentle plop, it landed right where I intended. A quick glance up at the clouds as I breathed the word Mom. And let go of the button with my thumb. A trout was already running away with my line. A keeper. The next cast was our biggest of the day. :) I thanked dad as I put it in my fishing bag. 

The third one dropped off the hook into the water I was standing in and swam away. I smiled at the changing sky and thanked my sister Nola for the bit of humor: very funny!

It was a good day.

We're going to be okay.

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Collection of Epiphyllum Grows

 Sorry (Not Sorry ;)

Taylor Greenhouse of NY sells rooted cuttings in 2.5 inch pots for about the same as single cuttings from most internet sellers. The first two plants I ordered from there were nice enough that when one I really wanted came back in stock I ordered 5 more. The current list with descriptions from the internet... for what they're worth.

Epiphyllum Hybrids

Agatha  Has a Large bloom with light rose-pink and a red throat, rounded petals, bell form, flat sturdy growth can be adapted to basket growth but upright at first when young, good bloomer. Reg.#5591

Bold Venture  Has an extra large bloom bright orange, wide purple edge. Opens wide. Full cup form. Hybridized by FOB. Reg.#05644

Pegasus  Has a Extra Large bloom with purple and a red-orange mid-stripe, outer petals edged with bronzy violet. Medium to wide flat basket growth, somewhat upright growth on first year stems. Fast grower depending on conditions. Great bloomer! Reg.#5719

Vista Sun  Has very large yellow flowers on an easy to grow plant. It is best grown dry and cool in the winter. This is a beautiful plant and our most popular yellow.

Over the Top  A 1998 hybrid.  It has a large flower.  The inner petals are white at the base shading to cerise  with red mid-stripe near the tip.  The next row is cerise with orange overlay and white base.  The outer petals are bright orange with carmine edges. It has an overlapping funnelform with radiating outer petals. It has thick flat and triangular growth. 

Just Beautiful 6" deep orange, star-like blooms remain open for 2-3 days. An easily grown cactus-like plant with 1.5" wide, flat, scalloped branches to 8'. Great in hanging baskets. Hybrid Orchid Cactus typically open at night but often last well through the next day. Epiphyllums are one of the few true jungle Cacti where they are often found growing with the orchids and bromeliads far removed from the forest floor. If pollinated the flowers can mature into deliciously edible fruit.

Three Oranges Has large orange and coral flowers on an easy to grow plant. It flowers in the spring in the greenhouses, and intermittently outside in the summer. 

Selenicereus anthonyanus (also known as Cryptocereus anthonyanus) is native to southern Mexico. It is grown as an ornamental because of its nocturnal flowers and unusual, leaf-like stems. Common names include fishbone cactusrick rack cactuszig-zag cactus and St. Anthony's rik-rak, and is sometimes referred to as an orchid cactus. There are a few variants of this species so some blooms can be slightly different one variant to another.

Epiphyllum Anguligar*  Disocactus anguliger (syn. Epiphyllum anguliger), commonly known as the fishbone cactus or zig zag cactus, is native to Mexico. The species is commonly grown as an ornamental for its fragrant flowers in the fall.

Epiphyllum strictum. Epiphyllum hookeri  Climbing cactus with blunt-toothed stems producing a mass of long, flat foliage. Each leaf can grow to varying lengths. Mature plants produce big, fragrant white flowers in summer. The white flowers can grow up to 9 inches long and 8 eight inches wide. The flowers open up only during the night and close when morning comes. 

Epiphyllum King's Ransom Registration #9747. Hybridized by Phyllis Flechsig. It’s a cross of Pistachio X Reward. An extra large bloomer. Outer petals are dark brown with yellow-orange mid-stripe pointed narrow petals. Inner petals are solid yellow. 

Saturday, May 22, 2021

Epiphyllum. A (tiny) new obsession.

Plants okay with a little neglect?

It's probably a good idea while I live out of a suitcase at mom's in order to keep her out of a nursing home.  My plants at home are not doing so well. Throwing water at them before rushing back has gotten a few by. Just. I'll deal with it later or start over. A few of the most precious found their way down here with me. For some it was too late. 

I'll be honest: I want to go home...

Christmas Cactus have been grown and passed around the family for as long as I can remember. Mom has one from her mother that's big enough to need 2 people to carry it outside for the summer. It should be repotted. I'm a little terrified of touching it.

The ones that bloom for Thanksgiving I always assumed were just over achievers. Turns out "holiday cactus" is a theme. My brother gave me an Easter Cactus for my birthday a couple years ago. I about killed it deciding I needed to repot it immediately. (I probably didn't!) 

It has recovered, if not yet ever bloomed again. I'm hopeful. Even if Easter has long since passed.

I've bought a few cuttings of Epiphyllum to take root. They can live in the greenhouse once it warms enough. For now I'll watch them from mom's.

Epiphyllum Hybrid:

"AGATHA" Has a Large bloom with light rose-pink and a red throat, rounded petals, bell form, flat sturdy growth can be adapted to basket growth but upright at first when young, good bloomer. Reg.#5591

"BOLD VENTURE" Has an extra large bloom bright orange, wide purple edge. Opens wide. Full cup form. Hybridized by FOB. Reg.#05644

"PEGASUS"  Has a Extra Large bloom with purple and a red-orange mid-stripe, outer petals edged with bronzy violet. Medium to wide flat basket growth, somewhat upright growth on first year stems. Fast grower depending on conditions. Great bloomer! Reg.#5719


SELENICEREUS ANTHONYANUS - Also commonly called (Ric Rac Cactus) or (Fishbone Orchid Cactus) Very unusual with fishbone like leaves, and very easy to grow! Same care as Epis. The growth is flat but deeply lobed and deep green. The large spectacular blooms have inner petals that are soft creamy-yellow and the outer petals are deep maroon, radiating and narrow. The contrast is stunning, and very fragrant too! The blooms are nocturnal and start to open about dusk in late spring/summer. Frost sensitive and will freeze, but makes for a wonderful house plant too in a hanging basket. There are a few variants of this species so some blooms can be slightly different one variant to another.

UPDATE: It's been a few weeks since I started this post. My mom left us in the early hours of Mother's Day. I take comfort in knowing a promise was kept, no matter how impossible it seemed some days (and nights). She stayed at home. My sister Nola was killed by a reckless 19 yo driver in 1983. My mom lived with a broken heart until it finally gave out. Nola's voice told me she was ready to wrap her arms around our precious mama once more. It was her turn to care for her. I picked up heart shaped rocks by the bucketful this last year. 

Go ahead.  Arrange and rearrange the stones on your beloved's grave.

Keep arranging those stones for as long as it hurts to do it, then stop, just before you really want to.

Put the last stone on and walk away. Then light your candles for the living.

Say your prayers for the living. Give your flowers to the living. 

Leave the stones where they are, but take your heart with you. 

Your heart is not a stone. 

From the book Here If You Need Me a true story by Kate Braestrup

Yesterday was my birthday. My Easter Cactus is covered in buds. 

It's 2 a.m.  I'm back at dad's house. He's fallen twice this week and is unable to get himself up. Not sure where things go from here.  I'm going to put a DVD in an fall asleep to The Martian. Or maybe Fly Away Home.


Wednesday, August 07, 2019

An Epic Wildlife Encounter!

"Is that a Bear?"

On a recent fishing trip with the husband, we had caught our limit of brook trout and was headed home. It was a good day, but the fishing was slow. The walk in was mucky, sometimes up to my ankles in nasty goo. The water is always cold when you first step in for some wading. Most of the time over the knees.

I always carry my camera safely zipped in it's case and zipped again inside my Osprey backpack for safe keeping. If it's safe to carry it out of the case - no water crossings - and there's a chance of wildlife crossing our path I like to have it in my hand. 

It never came out until we were done fishing and even then it was a struggle to find anything all that inspiring to take a picture of.    
The scenery is less than spectacular for this particular location.

But you never know . . .

A butterfly was getting it's fill of pollen from pink flowers so tall I could barely get the lens above it. 

The clouds were in and out over the little meadow we had just fished.

Tom cleaned our fish. 

Then back in the backpack for safe keeping.
We walked back to the Jeep, through the same ankle deep (shoe-sucking) muck and over-grown trail, content the day could be counted a success.

Driving home will take us back past Harrington Lake towards the section of the Penobscot river where the white water rafters put in. Eventually a few glimpses of Mt. Katahdin will come into view again. The Appalachian Trail's 100 Mile Wilderness will spit through hikers back into civilization. We were almost there . . . 

We were at the top of a long downhill section of dirt road when we thought something crossed at the bottom. It looked like there may have been a Mama with baby in tow. 

Tom was suggesting bear; I was thinking moose. I picked up the camera sitting at my feet and zoomed in as far as 200mm would allow. It was still too far to tell. And then THAT little face in the first picture came into focus! I started snapping shots through the windshield and Tom came to a stop. In the middle of the road. He was still guessing bear with the naked eye, it was that far away at first.

I watched through the viewfinder as she pinned her ears back and ran straight up the side of the mountain at steady clip. Straight to us like she was on the best exploring adventure ever!

As she drew even to where we had come to a stop in the middle of the road, I quietly cracked the door open far enough to get one foot on the ground and get my head, an arm and my camera outside through the space above the hinges. And click, click, click . . .

Every time the shutter sounded her ears perked up and pointed at me; then they would relax back. She looked as if she might head on up the mountain to continue her run, but then the left ear tipped back towards Mama. She turned her neck until the rest of her body turned in the same direction and off she jogged back down the hill. 

Mama's calling me . . . 

Thursday, January 17, 2019

What's next on your list?

Stained Glass!

My "Happy Christmas ... Merry New Year ... 2019 Bucket List" wish was: 
I want to learn to do Stained Glass. 

I started researching what supplies were needed. Figuring all that out is almost more overwhelming than the actual doing.

In December I lucked out and found a couple in Vassalboro selling their stash. About an hour's drive each way. It had been stored in their barn since moving to a new house and she said "we didn't want to put an outrageous price on it ... we just want it gone."

The more I look through it the more "beyond thrilled" I am!

There was no soldering iron or cutter. But lots of glass, both in scraps and beautiful full sheets. Plus a glass grinder! 

I was a little afraid of the safety aspect of grinding glass. Until I put this long unused aquarium back into use! The grinder sits well inside of it and there's no chance of getting debris in the face.

All the scraps give me the freedom to experiment. Guilt free when there's an oops. There have been a few oops but it's really not as hard or scary as I thought! 

Books came home from the library (two I decided to buy after seeing) and lots of YouTube videos were viewed. A few of them should probably come with warning of what NOT to do.

My greenhouse will make a great place to hang stained glass. My first pieces will go the higher the better - so no one can see the beginner's work.

P.S. I started a new Sheep to Shawl project. May have to over-dye it when I'm finished as a lot of the inner skein barely took the dye for the more solid tones I was going for.

We'll see what happens!

Not Before the Snow Came . . .

but it's a Greenhouse!

How did I not update the greenhouse progress?

Winter came early this year and eventually running 4 extension cords across the ground from the house became problematic.

The project grew and changed as it went along.

As did I.

Power tools are not so scary.
Except table saws. Still a little petrified of them!

I love building things with wood!
Busy now trying to get enough shelves built for growing things on - to fit the randomness of the window placements.

It's still a work in progress on the inside. Waiting for the cold to loosen it's grip so my unheated space can be put to use.

Can't wait to see what the spring holds.
Hope it comes early, too!

Thursday, August 16, 2018


Rafters were joined.

Nephew Kyle took an interest in building and planted himself on the scaffolding. I feared for its sturdiness whenever he and his dad were near the middle at the same time.

For my birthday we decided I really wanted a miter saw that would cut boards thicker than a 2x4. After my spinning wheel, the Ryobi Compound Miter Saw might be my favorite impulse buying decision ever. 

I want to build all the things. 

I cut everything myself until the rafters. My brother's knowledge has gotten this project looking for real! He took over determining the angle of the cuts needed and it went faster with me just setting everything up before he got here and making sure anything needed was right at hand. 

Soon. Windows will be put in their rightful place. Looking forward to that so much I almost put some in on my own. Fear of breaking them needlessly seemed a good enough reason to take the few I had propped up along a wall back out to the waiting stacks. 

I still see windows on the side of the road for free and feel nearly compelled to keep gathering. Only very wonderful offerings will be considered. Hoarding is a thing that should be controlled . . . at least a bit!

Friday, August 10, 2018

The Twelve Birches

How selling birch trees turned into a greenhouse . . .

It all started 2 years ago when an employee on his way to work at Evergreen Farms in Swanville noticed the really *white birch trees sprouting up in our field. 

The field was sadly filling in from lack of use after the farmer who had been renting it became ill. I tried removing saplings as they sprouted each spring but eventually they overtook my efforts. 

So I started pruning the orderly rows of birches that were determined to take root along the last plowed lines from when the farmer left it.

Last year the nursery owner stopped in and asked to buy 6 of the birch trees to put on a ferry and haul across to an island where the landowner wished them.

This year he showed up with a crew and asked how would I like to sell 12 - 15 more? Umm. Sure. Things went much faster this year and within a couple of weeks the semi backed in for the first half. They chose 12 in the end.

Last year I used the extra money for kayak supplies. A roof rack and a new life jacket suitable for kayaking.

This year I decided to use up the lumber and windows we seemed to be stockpiling for "something" and build a greenhouse with this "extra" money.

It's coming along! I designed all the walls around the windows we had, I found for free on trash day. A few came from the Restore. My brother and his boys helped us get walls standing. The walls were finished with stronger headers and the center ridge beam went up last weekend. 
Hopefully rafters this weekend!

*Actually they are the whitest grey birch trees the nursery owner said he had ever seen and they are more resistant to problems, so talked the rich landowner into this excellent deal. I may need to sell a few more if this project costs much more!

There was a rainbow yesterday while Tom was staining the (very high) center beam and supports for me.

Friday, November 10, 2017

This is just a test!

Trying to figure out if pictures I edit actually get saved correctly or if I'm overwriting the original.  I'm not... but the Nikon ViewNX-i software has me scratching my head while I'm using it more often than not!

Except I thought this one got overwritten while I was in the program.
And I didn't know how or why... I guess not. Putting them here on my blog has been the only way I've figured out how to tell for sure, so far. Trust the number sequences?

Monday, October 30, 2017

Tuesday, October 24, 2017



This may take a few more tutorials on photo editing! 
Maybe a class if I can find one. 
Or at least a lot more practice...

Not sure I like what the color boost - or which ever sliders I moved - did to this one. 
(Bottom photo edited.)

Last year I watched this sunset from a camp we had the wonderful good fortune to use for several long weekends. It's for sale now and if I had an extra $170,000 I know where I'd be for most of the year.  

Mt Katahdin. 

Sara wants a large canvas made from one of my pictures and I'm planning to pick out enough for a calendar.  

The Lost File...

Another editing experiment...

Perhaps a little too much color boost? :)
I was trying to get the colors back for the too-dark trees along the coastline. This learning curve may be a steep climb!