Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Half Full

It is truly amazing how our body can grow new bone and heal itself.  After finally immobilizing Mom’s arm and keeping her on a regimen of protein and calcium, she has turned the corner on her recovery; now all she needs is time.  Still, she is frustrated that she can’t do more and can’t drive.  Several weeks ago I sensed that she would really benefit from a change of scenery.  A vacation….what a great idea!  Neither one of my parents are “vacation people” and proper getaways have been few and far between, unless it’s me taking Mom somewhere like Napa or Provence or a transatlantic cruise.  Today, the concept of the two of us taking off and leaving Dad alone with the dogs is out of the question.  I am planning to go to Beaune before the end of the year and the thought of me being gone has both of my parents a little anxious.  But having a break is healthy, and I have made up my mind to keep my own boundaries.  And so, while Mom protested that she wanted to go just for the weekend, I rang up my Sister in Minneapolis and negotiated for her to send Mom a plane ticket for a week’s visit.  We compromised at 5 1/2 days. 

And so this morning at 5:00 am off we went to the airport; I arranged a wheelchair for her upon departure and arrival, so that she would have someone carry her roller case on and off the plane.  My niece is having her 11th birthday this week, and I checked a box on as Mom’s luggage containing my sewing machine; no, not Mom’s Singer that I love; this is a Kenmore that I bought in New York that is plenty good but I never use; Lauren will surely love to have this as she is learning how to sew and using my Sister’s machine heavily.  I thought this would be a nice thank you of sorts for Sis~


It really gave me peace of mind to know that Mom was in good hands and I was also going to have a break for a few days.  From the airport I went to my other Sis’ house, to retrieve the corn stalks and pumpkins from the party last weekend.  In the darkness at 6am I cut the stalks down from her gate and loaded my car.  It’s true, she really did love the look of the gate at the party, and the following day came by to pay me for my expenses and spend some time with Mom.  Among the platitudes, there were also a few zingers, like “Why did you go and buy corn stalks when your street frontage looks like a symbol of the National Drought?”  Yes, it’s true, I did grow a lot of corn this year, including on the street.  And yes, it looks kinda bad about now~ 


But you know, I don’t even notice.  Why rest your eyes on dried corn stalks when the marigolds have self-seeded next to them in the flower beds?


And why not look up, on top of the wall above the corn, and take in the riot of pink oleander blooms~


They are perfection, and they also happen to smell like carrot cake.  I love this photo; it’s the equivalent of someone pulling a gold coin out magically from behind your ear.  See it, on the right, just behind the flowers and the leaves…..I didn’t even notice it until I took the photo….


A perfect little abandoned bird’s nest.  Thank you, Mother Nature…this is going inside to join my collection~


OK back to the corn….I had the idea even before my Sis’ party that I wanted to decorate the kitchen arch for fall; this would last me through November, when I will transition to Christmas.


I started by securing the corn stalks to the stone with a few turns of florist wire.  Next year I suppose I could ask any number of farmers; I could surely get them for free….just didn’t have time this year.


I filled it out with my own smaller (non-GMO) stalks from the street frontage; it turned out to be big and generous and bountiful; what is green here will soon dry to match the others~


My Dad adores corn, so I buy it (non-GMO, strictly local) for him; Mom is not a fan and won’t eat it.  She says corn reminds her of the farm, and having grown up on a farm she only wanted to get away from the farm and corn and the pigs that ate it.  That’s so funny because when I look at corn, and this stalk archway, I think of bounty; I think of Pilgrims in white starched collars, and a good harvest.  I think of the magnificent autumn leaves of New England, walking through the fall woods of Palisades Park in New Jersey; I think of walking into Bouley restaurant in Manhattan and smelling crates of fresh apples and finally getting to wear warm turtleneck sweaters. And I think of John & Marge, my friends who planted this corn with me in the spring~


I have a few rules of thumb; one of them is that if there’s too much dead and dried stuff; add some life.  Dried corn stalks are fine with white mini lights and fresh vibrant yellow Mums. 


It’s too bad that for all the good things that my Sis said about my contributions to her party, all I can remember is that she thinks parts of my garden are a postcard for drought. One bad comment has totally negated any good comments.  It’s just as easy to say something nice.  It’s not really that hard.  With social media as with comments, even among sisters, can we keep it nice and focus on what is good and beautiful and not on what is bad and negative?  Though I admit, I’m a glass is half full person.  I don’t see a dead sunflower, I think of how spectacular this enormous plant was in full bloom a few months ago.  I harvested most of the heads; but I let a few go, and they have become natural bird feeders. I see the birds here in the morning, and that makes me smile~ give a little back to nature~


Good thing Sis didn’t see the remaining sunflowers, or I’d get the drought comment again.  I don’t really look, there is too much else to focus on two feet away~


Love these pale pink and white hibiscus, who have enjoyed the hot weather. 


This morning I made a long list of all that I want to do while Mom is on vacation.  I still have to do Dad’s transcription, courier work and driving, washing, cleaning etc.  Catching up on a million and one things.  Dad has picked out a movie to watch together tonight, and wants to order a pizza.  Somehow I don’t think I will get every last thing done, but I can do most of it.  Enjoy your week, and please try to see the glass half full not half empty…and keep those zingers to yourself if you can!


  1. I have always liked your thinking Andrea. And your creativity. And your blog. xx

  2. Andrea...you will apreciate this so...

    Our little "get out of town" to Whistler, BC lasted one full day. My Mother fell and crushed both of her wrists. She had surgery on Saturday and is now at a rehabilitation facility close by for two weeks. I spent last evening with her, after work. She is progressing well.

    My Dad is so cute. All he wants is hamburger soup. (We used to make that when it was close to payday when I was a little girl.) LOL Anywhooo...I am going to make it tomorrow night and send him with the leftovers.

    Your newly powdered gate is so lovely in it's Autumn regalia! Beautiful!

    I am pleased to hear that your Mother could travel. You are one wonderful Aunt! You niece will be on cloud nine when her Grandmother arrives!

    Happy Movie Night!

  3. I had to chuckle when I read your blog today. I could tell that there was a lot more you would like to say about your relationship with your sister. Perhaps you and I should write a book about " sister relationships" LOL . My part would come across as pure fiction!! You are a wonderful daughter and sister and just remember one day you will be rewarded.

  4. You have your hands full and yet your glass remains half full, there's something to be said about that! I agree with you, zingers are hard to swallow and especially after you worked with your heart and soul for your sister's party. They feel worse coming from someone we love, someone who "knows" us.

    I think your dried corn arch looks fabulous and your dried sunflowers and little nest keep us in touch with nature through all it's cycles...all beautiful!

    I'm so glad you have some time for yourself and maybe you and your dad can bond a little bit. It's hard taking care of our parents but it's a mix of gratitude as well. You are a good person!


  5. Andrea I understand exactly what you mean, one of my sisters was much nicer after this last hospital stay; however She has been very snarky in the past. She must have finally realized how serious it was.I too see the glass half full,plus, OMG your garden is gorgeous!

    I will call you in the am. Please, please do some good things for yourself this time you Mother is away.You know you need it!

    2012 Artists Series

  6. the hibiscus look really pretty~

  7. Besides your creative spirit I am in love with your photography, this post made me smile! :)


  8. Andrea,

    I think you are a saint! IT is incredibly difficult to be the caregiver to one parent and you are taking care of two! No one knows what a strain and constant drain on your time that is, obviously you do it gladly, they are your parents but your sisters cannot even begin to comprehend your life unless they are there alongside you.

    I love your attitude! There is beauty all around and to focus on that it the most important thing...it truly is the little things in life, pizza and a movie with your dad, a walk with your dogs, a visit with friends. That is all that matters.

    How will your parents manage while you are away? Will you have someone in to help them?

    Take care of yourself too!

    Love the Fall decor!


  9. Andrea you may move right in, and I with you :)

    You know how much I adore your style, down to the winning of that sweet French tote from you like 2 years ago:)

    I am always so happy to see a visit from you.
    all things French and inspiring.

  10. I would name your blog the dreamland! While Santa knocks at our door just once per year, you blog is open the whole year – wow!

  11. Andrea,
    What would be "good and beautiful" is if you sent me my remaining 2 bags!!!! I ordered them May 1st, and you have assured me they are ready to send. I look forward to hearing from you.

    Many thanks,
    Helen Rockwell