Friday, May 28, 2010

Friday Quote Day

Wherever you are is always the right place.
There is never a need to fix anything,
to hitch up the bootstraps of the soul
and start at some higher place.
Start right where you are.
~ Julia Cameron

I came of age during a time when one was always doing some kind of "work" on oneself. I've been therapized quite a bit, by psychologists, counselors, ministers and shrinks and, at one time, my self-help bookshelf was a duplicate of Barnes & Noble's. If you weren't working on a personal issue, you were working on a relationship or toward a goal.

And, of course, I've been working most of my life on my body.

Life doesn't seem much like work these days, at least not the kind of work I did in the '70s. Even the body work is going better; I'm more active, more physical, busier, and have less time or inclination to eat mindlessly now that spring is here and I'm outdoors most of the time.

It seems like I'm working a lot, in the more traditional sense of getting things done and accomplishing tasks. Weeds grow. Seeds don't sprout, and thus entire rows need to be reseeded. Plants need to be staked, sprayed, fertilized and tended to. The house doesn't clean itself, meals don't cook themselves and the grass continues to grow. There's always some kind of work to do, but it doesn't involve my head so much as it does my body.

There's one exception. As I've gotten older, I've begun working for causes.

Most people who grew up in the '60s and '70s cut their teeth on causes. They were anti-war and pro-earth and going green and saving seals, whales, wolves. Me? Not so much. It wasn't that I didn't care, but I was a young wife, a much-too-young mother and I was out of the loop in which my peers traveled. They were in college, protesting the war machine and saving the planet. I was … changing diapers and mixing formula.

I think adopting causes at my advanced age (heh) has been good for me psychologically. I feel young and vibrant, though I'm sure I don't look it! I'm passionate about at least a couple of important issues (single-payer health care and sentencing reform are the biggies). I was recently elected president of our county Democratic women's club, another opportunity to work for something outside myself.

Inner work is good, don't get me wrong. At my age, though, I should be done with it. It's high time I accepted me for who I am and if you (that's a rhetorical 'you') don't like me, well, that's not my problem. Trying to get everyone I know to like me is a fruitless pursuit. I don't like everyone I meet, either.

What I think of me is pretty darned important. What you think of me is none of my business.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

I. Got. Nothin.

I'm so tired, and even though I slept a good eight hours last night I'm Still. So. Tired.

So I'm going to post a photo of the rose my husband brought home to me on my birthday (my gift has been ordered), and call it a day, as far as blogging goes. (The garden beckons, and I have to work this afternoon.)

Maybe I'll be more inspired tomorrow. Hope you're feeling perky and energetic and lively and may your energy somehow transfer itself to me through the innernets.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Grrr.

I had a lovely post all formatted and published. And it's gone. GONE! Grrr.

I'm not doing it again. It's not saved as a draft. It's not anywhere. The hell of it is, I hit the Publish button and then viewed the post to make sure the formatting was the way I wanted it. So it was published, but now it's not.

Did I say Grrr? I did? Sorry. I guess you start repeating yourself when you get old.

Grrr.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

If only I had the time

Flavorwire posted 69 Things You Didn't Know About Bob Dylan yesterday, in honor of his 69th birthday. If I'd gotten up earlier, I would have posted 59 Things You Didn't Know About Me, in honor of my 59th today, but alas … I have neither the time nor the energy nor the brain power to create such a list on the fly. It's certainly something to work on for next year, though!

Bob is my favorite Gemini. I have all his music on CD (except "Live at Budokhan," which was awful). I've seen him live countless times, including a couple of concerts in the late '70s when he adopted Christianity and refused to play "Lay, Lady, Lay."

But enough about that. You want to hear all about Chicago, don't you? I was exHAUSTed yesterday, after driving a total of 23 hours in the previous 59. Too exhausted to write. Too exhausted to do much of anything, actually. We left Friday morning and got home Sunday evening. I spent exactly eight hours in the city itself, and nearly all of those hours I was on my feet and lugging my camera bag. Talk about burning calories!

My husband's meeting was at the Allerton Hotel, right on the Magnificent Mile. Too bad I'm not a shopper. The Apple store was across the street and I didn't even sneak a peek at the iPad. Mostly I didn't want to fight with the other thousand people who were in the store all day.

I headed east after I dropped him off and eventually found myself at the Navy Pier, where I'd hoped to take an architectural boat tour and ride the amazingly beautiful ferris wheel. It was too foggy for either of those activities; that fog crept in like little cat feet and stayed for most of the day. I ended up at the Green Festival, which was both entertaining and enlightening. (I had my picture taken at the MoveOn.org booth with a cardboard likeness of President Obama, holding a handmade bumper sticker urging him to support Single-Payer Health Care. MoveOn supports the current law, a health insurance industry gift, so I'm not sure if the photo will ever appear anywhere but in my e-mail inbox!)

The inspiring part of being at the Pier, though, was the number of people I saw running. The loop around the park at the Pier is 10.5 miles, and had I been properly dressed and equipped, I would have done it. Oh, and if we'd been staying at the Allerton, because I certainly would have needed a shower at the end of the run. (We stayed on the south side and drove in. I still can't believe I drove my car in downtown Chicago!)

I left the Pier around noon and headed toward the art museum. You know, the famous one with the big lions out front? By the time I got there I was tired, tired, tired and knew that actually going into the museum would mean more walking and all I wanted to do, really, was sit down and have a bite to eat. I found the café, decided $18 was too much to pay for a sandwich and Kept. On. Walking. I enjoyed the gardens and outdoor sculptures, and eventually found myself heading north on Michigan Avenue. I stopped for raspberry tea and a bagel ($4.96) at a coffee shop.

Above the coffee shop was a dance store called Russian Pointe. My older granddaughter dances and I went in to the store to find her a little gift for her upcoming recital: a pair of miniature red pointe shoes to hang on her Christmas tree. I hope she's heard of the shop, it seemed kind of famous to me.

I was back at the hotel at 3:30 p.m., tuckered out and willing to wait in the lobby until the meeting was over. The young woman who seemed to be in charge of logistics made me a name tag and invited me to join the group for the remainder of the workshops and dinner. So kind of her! I was probably the only woman there in tennis shoes, but I don't think anyone was looking at my feet.

I could have saved myself the trouble of lugging the camera bag all day because, truly, one can find iconic images of Chicago all over the internet. I took my favorite photo on the way home, where I actually got off the highway and stopped the car to gaze in wonder and awe at a real, live, HUGE wind farm. I happen to think those windmills are beautiful and majestic and amazing. Seeing hundreds of them turning lazily in the everpresent breeze of northern Indiana was a sight to behold. Knowing they are providing clean power to hundreds of thousands of customers in several Indiana counties is equally awesome.

My daughter recommended I buy a book while I was in Chicago. She was, in fact, astonished that I hadn't already read it. I found it in a souvenir shop; it's called The Devil in the White City, a true story of the World's Fair of 1893 and a serial killer. Since I started reading, I'm full of questions which I hope the book will answer.

And if it doesn't, I guess I'll just have to go back to Chicago!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Friday's Quote on Thursday

What we have to learn to do,
we learn by doing.
~ Aristotle

I suppose if I were still in school, or if I were a teacher (maybe), I would think learning could be accomplished by reading or watching a film or a demonstration. And there's a lot to be said for learning with those methods. I doubt many of us could have graduated from grammar school without learning through reading.

But learning by doing … now there's a surefire way to mastering whatever it is you want to do.

Take this whole garden thing, for example. I have lots of garden examples around me; every other household, it seems, has a little patch of dirt in the back yard growing some kind of food.

I did read about my method before I actually got out there with a shovel, hoe and rake. But reading about it didn't create all the raised beds that are out there; that took muscle and sweat and … doing.

After the rain we've had this week (at least two inches, and more to come), all I can say is I'm sooooo glad I decided to go this route.

Had I planted a more traditional garden, my rows of seedlings would easily have been washed away by now. Instead, they're perched on their long mounds of dirt, well-watered by Mother Nature, and the runoff puddles up in the walkways between the beds.

The disadvantage, of course, is that I can't get in there to weed. It's very wet; I tried yesterday and my garden clogs got stuck. But since most of the weeds appear to be in the walkways anyway, I'll be able to get rid of them with the tiller when the ground dries out.

Of course the true test will be when and if I actually have a crop. I have lots of sprouted seeds, but will these raised beds dry out too much to support life? I asked my husband for a truckload of straw for my birthday next week. Adding a thick layer of straw mulch is the final step in the raised-bed process. Otherwise, I'll be wrestling with the hose the next couple of months.

Learning by doing applies to all kinds of things I'm interested in. You can't learn to knit by reading about it. You have to actually get some yarn and a couple of needles and cast on! You have to figure out with your own two hands how to manipulate the string-and-stick combination to create fabric. And then you have to learn how to shape the fabric into your intended object. The wonderful thing about knitting is that you're creating your garment (or pillow or bag or sock …) at the same time you're creating fabric.

You can read about running all day and all night, and you might think running isn't even something you need to learn. Most of us have been running since we were toddlers. But running for exercise does require some additional learning. We need to learn to conserve energy, for example. The best way to learn that is to start out too quickly and find yourself walking the last two miles of a 10-miler. (Ask me how I know?)

Experience frequently is the best teacher, is all I'm saying. What have you learned by doing lately?

Now why, you may ask, is the Friday quote on Thursday this week? Because I'll be in Chicago for the weekend. My husband has a meeting all day Saturday and I will be exploring the south side on my own. The only time I've ever set foot in Chicago was at Midway Airport. (I heard a long time ago that one of the proposed names for Midway was MidAir. Not sure if it's true or not. How unfortunate would that have been!) Oh, and I went to Ikea in Schaumburg once. (I love Ikea. I wish we were spending more time in the area, I'd definitely go again.)

Anyhoo, I won't be here tomorrow to enlighten and enrich your day with a pithy and meaningful quote. Heh. Instead of a day late and a dollar short, we're a day early. And you can keep your dollar.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Molly

This is our Molly, in better days. If the picture were in color you'd think she'd just come from the dope man, her eyes were always red-rimmed. And her snaggle-toothed smile always made her look like she needed braces.

We had her put down yesterday, as her better days were long behind her. She'd lost 25 pounds this year, 10 of them in the last two months. She was disoriented, arthritic, deaf and incontinent, she couldn't tolerate the heat, and whatever treatment our vet offered would only have delayed the inevitable.

One of Molly's favorite things to do in all the world was to ride in the car. This past week we've tried to get her excited about going for a ride, jangling car keys and such, and she never responded at all. She used to hop around like a puppy.

We know we did the best thing for her. It was a heartbreaking experience for my husband and me, though. She was two years old when we adopted her, and she came to West Virginia the same day I did, 13 years ago next month. Fifteen is old for a big dog.

We have another dog, Hershey, who will be seven this summer and is beginning to get a little grey beard in her chocolate-colored fur. But I don't want to think about that right now.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Ch-ch-ch-changes

Have you had the same e-mail address since, oh, Al Gore invented the internet? Seems like I have.

I recently picked up a freelance newsletter editing job which requires me to easily send an e-mail with a large-ish attachment. Not huge, we're not talking megabytes here, but a couple hundred KB or so. Something happened with my ISP last summer and I haven't been able to send attachments, or send to multiple addresses, since then.

They, of course, blamed it on my computer. But I've had a Gmail account for a while and can send attachments with it. Rather than fight with them any longer, I decided to set up my Gmail account as my primary e-mail address. And, eventually, I'm going to get rid of all those other addresses I've had.

It's quite a process. If you've been collecting recipes and running and following various news stories and knitting and been politically active and have interests in health care, paper crafts, gardening and fitness, then you've got a lot of information attacking your in-box every day. Changing all those subscriptions is enough to make one throw up her little hands in defeat.

I'm not quite there. Yet.

Some websites make it so easy. They actually have a link in their messages asking if you'd like to change your e-mail address. How cool is that? Thank you, Interweave Knits! I heart you!

The New England Journal of Medicine? Not quite so friendly. I found the form, changed the relevant information and hit the "Submit" button. The changes didn't "stick," and I had to hit the back button and start over. Three times. Why do I care about NEJM? I don't, but my husband does and if he learned how to manage his own e-mail I'd be out of a job. Heh.

Anyway. Once this is done, my incoming messages should be culled considerably, and I'll think long and hard before I click anyone's button to sign up for their free newsletter. Come to think of it, my junk mail should be culled considerably, as well. Maybe I should change my e-mail address more often.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Yeah! I don't have to wrestle with the hose!

I may have to start building an ark, however.

The county in which I live was under a flash flood warning last night, and we might still be under one. (My home is safe, but I might have trouble getting off the mountain.) The weeds are LOVING all this rain! Haven't checked the rain gauge, but it's been raining steadily all night. Even the asparagus tucked in next to the garage, under an overhang, are getting a good drink.

I've been a little worried about the garden. I planted a whole lotta stuff May 4 and May 7, and haven't seen anything sprouting yet. Until yesterday. I took my customary walk around the perimeter and found spaghetti squash and zucchini and black-eyed peas all coming up. The beets are doing well, I finally found one little carrot sprout and the transplanted peppers, cabbage and tomatoes are looking good.

My husband has to attend a meeting in Chicago next weekend and since I'm his chauffeur, I'll be going, too. It'll be fun to come back after three days away and see how much more food has grown. And when it dries out, I've got a lot of work cut out for me getting rid of weeds.

I spent all day Saturday on my ass, driving to a meeting in a distant part of WV, sitting through a luncheon meeting and then driving home. So taking a long walk yesterday was definitely on the agenda, and I really enjoyed it. Now that spring has truly sprung, and there's so much more outdoor work to do, walking for the sake of walking gets put on the back burner. But I should be able to fit in more walks now that almost all the seeds are in the ground.

Elora, thanks for the suggestion to buy a bag of dried limas. Too late ... I'd already found a package of seeds by the time I read your comment. Not a big deal, but it's a good idea and definitely one I'll remember for next year.

That's about it from the Middle of Nowhere. Hope you all had a great weekend.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Friday Quote Day

Finish each day and be done with it.
You have done what you could;
some blunders and absurdities have crept in;
forget them as soon as you can.
Tomorrow is a new day;
you shall begin it serenely
and with too high a spirit
to be encumbered with your old nonsense.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

I have this quote printed out and attached to the refrigerator door. I remember exactly when and why I put it up there, and it has comforted me many times since that incident.

One of the tasks, if you will, for recovering alcoholics (of which I am one) is to take a daily inventory – what did I do right, what could I have done better, do I need to make amends for anything? It's a good deal, this taking stock on a daily basis. Little things don't grow into bigger things, and each day does, pretty much, begin serenely, with a clean slate.

Where I get tripped up is with my expectations. When I know something is coming up, I frequently play it out in my head, predicting who will say what and when and why and boy, does that get tiresome! Why should I experience the same thing twice? And sometimes three times, because occasionally there's a post-event analysis!

I'm writing all this in response to nothing in particular, but a reminder to myself that my days work better when I go with the flow. I read a book, many years ago, called Don't Push the River, It Flows By Itself, which left a strong impression on me that I don't have to be in charge. The Universe is guiding me in the right direction, and questioning the universe is altering the flow. A little touchy-feely, I suppose, but when I practice letting go, my life works better.

Which brings me back to letting go of expectations. I need to pay more attention to the here and now, and let the future take care of itself.
• • •

Marilyn, I love succotash, too! The frozen blend my husband likes adds carrots, corn and green beans to the mix. I couldn't find limas on the rack at the garden center yesterday, so I'll look in town today. I did pick up a package of Italian green bean seeds. Yum! I'll have to find a spot for them somewhere.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Done. For the moment.

I have one empty row in the garden, something I didn't expect but when I planted seeds last week I came up short. I think I'll buy some lima bean seeds.

As of yesterday, that empty row is the only bed left unplanted. All the seedlings have been transplanted and I reseeded peas, lettuce, spinach and celery. My map looks a little different now, but not much, so I'm not going to repost it. I'm the only one who cares anyway.

If all this stuff comes up, I'm going to have to buy another freezer. Heh. Just kidding, but it occurred to me that if I grow lima beans I'll have everything I need for the good old-fashioned frozen mixed vegetable blend my husband likes so well. It's also what I use for vegetable soup (with the addition of potatoes, tomatoes and cabbage): peas, corn, carrots, green beans and limas.

My weight is trending downward again. At the prison Tuesday night a couple of the women were pointing at me and whispering and eventually confessed (heh) that they were talking about how much weight I've lost. It's only four pounds, but apparently all the bending and stretching and lifting are making a difference in how I look. Even my husband complimented the ch-ch-ch-changes.

This kind of working out – hoeing, shoveling, raking, tilling, weeding, planting and working at the garden center – really appeals to me. I need to have a reason to sweat, and there always seems to be something to do this time of year. Truthfully, there's always something to do no matter what time of the year, but the chores seem to be more immediate now. When the weather is cold, you can always postpone cleaning a closet or painting a room or washing woodwork.

There's only one window of opportunity for planting, and this is it.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Music to my ears

It's raining. Steadily. What we call a soaker.

Nothing sounds sweeter the day after you've planted a whole bunch of seeds.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Well, at least it wasn't obscene

My ruse of using a different title last Friday didn't work, and another Chinese commenter left a message. I've already deleted it. It wasn't naughty, but it certainly was obscure. Those inscrutable Chinese …

I'm so glad I haven't planted everything yet. I woke up to a rather thick coating of frost on the grass and car this morning. My baby tomatoes were safe inside all day yesterday, as it was cool and windy all day, so they didn't get hurt. I planted a bunch of herbs near my house Friday, and they all look all right.

My husband helped me plant a lilac bush Saturday. I love lilacs, but I love them most when they're big and lush and beautiful. A new lilac is none of those, of course, but I'll never have one unless I plant one now. I can check that off my Bucket List. Heh.

Didn't get much working out done over the weekend, but the house is clean. We thought my mother-in-law would be joining us for dinner yesterday, but she didn't feel like leaving the house, so we delivered dinner to her. The house really needed cleaning. I got all the seedling paraphernalia put away in the garden shed, ran the sweeper, cleaned the bathrooms, mopped the floors, dusted everything (and there was a lot of dust with all the wind we've had lately) and just generally tidied up. I want this good feeling I have about a clean house to last.

I guess that means I'll have to keep the house clean.

On the weight-loss front, I checked a couple days ago and had lost another 1.5 pounds. But then yesterday I'd gained all of the weight back, plus a half pound, that I've lost since mid-April. The scale is a fickle friend. I don't believe it, but I was too scared to check again this morning.

Hope you had a great weekend.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Friday! Again! A quote!

Keep your dream in front of you.
Never let it go regardless
of how farfetched it might seem.
~ Hal Higdon

Still trying to foil those Asian commenters with a tricky title. Although I think the last one showed up on a non-Friday, so maybe my titles don't really matter after all. Maybe they just like me. I'm so lucky.

As I was purging the teetering stack of magazines on my nightstand last night, I ran across an ad I'd pulled from an issue of Runner's World. It was a gatefold ad listing all the Rock 'n' Roll Marathons and Half-Marathons for 2010. I remarked out loud, "Why did I keep this? I'm not going to run a marathon this year." My husband overheard me and said, "Good. I hope you never do."

Which, of course, strengthened my resolve to run a marathon next year. (Thanks so much for your support, honey!)

Right now running a marathon seems pretty farfetched indeed. But the dream is in front of me, and I'm not letting go, not just yet.

Also in front of me is the garden. Here's the map (sorry for the poor quality and small size); I only wish I had more room for more seeds. I want to grow a grocery store. Heh.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

I need another vacation ...

My garden is laid out with nine long raised beds running north-south at either end of the 80-by-35-foot space. In the center the beds run east-west, and I haven't finished that part yet so I don't know how many I'll end up with.

The first nine beds, at the north end, have been done for a while, and I see little specks of growth when I look very closely. The spinach is up, as is some lettuce, a couple beets and a lot of radishes. Where are the carrots? Turnips? I hope I don't have to reseed.

The southern nine beds are six right now. I should be able to get the other three done this morning. Most of these beds will be further divided into hills for squash, melons and cucumbers.

This is a lot of work, but I hope I don't have to do it again, ever. Not that I'll never have a garden again, but once the raised beds are done, I shouldn't have to redo them every year.

My plan comes from a book I bought many years ago called The Cook's Garden. (The website has NO information about how to create a garden space; looks like they've morphed into a seed catalog.) I've grown vegetables in raised beds previously, but they were railroad-tie beds filled with dirt. Still a lot of work, but not as much shoveling, hoeing, raking or sweating.

Perhaps I should have gone the no-till route. Ah, well, too late for that. I will, however, be mulching the footpaths between the beds with cardboard and newspaper. And the compost is cooking, to enrich the soil for future use.

I have to redraw my garden map; if Blogger cooperates, I'll try to post it here in the next day or two. Then you can all be impressed with how much work I'm doing. Be sure to invite me along on your next vacation – I need it!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Then what?

From Diet.com comes this handy list of 7 Simple Ways to Cut 850 Calories a Day!:

1. Cut out 1 soda per day and drink water with lemon instead (150 calories cut)

2. If you have a healthy sandwich wrap ask for it with mustard instead of mayonnaise, ketchup, or any other “sauce” (100+ calories cut)

3. If you buy a rotisserie chicken for lunch or dinner take the skin off (100+ calories cut)

4. Enjoy your salads with a low calorie dressing like balsamic vinaigrette or just some squeezed lemon juice (120+ calories cut)

5. Skip 1 glass of wine or beer with dinner (120 calories cut)

6. Ask for your sandwich to be made without cheese (150-200 calories cut)

7. Skip your morning 8-12 oz glass of juice and have a piece of whole fruit and water instead – or just water or tea with your breakfast (100+ calories cut)

Just speaking for myself (but probably speaking for many of you as well), here's what I do with each of these tips:
  1. I haven't had a regular soda in years. I started drinking Tab when it was introduced in 1963, when my mother would permit it. (My mother's children drank milk or water. In the summer we were allowed to have Kool-Aid for a treat.) By the time I was old enough to buy my own soda, it was Diet Coke, thankyouverymuch. Now that I'm much older and trying not to consume artificial sweeteners, I drink water or unsweetened iced tea.
  2. Mustard instead of mayo has been my condiment of choice for, again, years. My first stint with Weight Watchers was in 1972. We mixed tuna with mustard and called it tuna salad. When I need mayo (for potato salad, for instance), I make it myself which doesn't make it less caloric, but at least I know where the eggs came from.
  3. I don't buy rotisserie chicken. I buy chicken and roast it myself. And I don't eat the skin. But I'd like to. Heh.
  4. This is the one I have a problem with. If I didn't add a splash of olive oil to my salad, I'd be eating a nearly fat-free diet. Since I've already tried that, with disastrous results (dry, flaky skin; dull, lifeless hair; feeling cold all the time), I believe in a modicum of fat from good-quality oil or real butter. So sue me. And add 120 calories to my daily ledger.
  5. Haven't touched alcohol in 19+ years, which has nothing to do with cutting calories and everything to do with maintaining good relationships with my family, my husband and myself. Sometimes I think I should start drinking again so I would have something to cut from my daily meal plan. Kidding!
  6.  I use cheese as a condiment – a little feta on a Greek salad, for instance. And when I can get fresh milk, I make my own mozzarella after skimming the cream. Also … what's a sandwich?
  7. Juice? Puh-lease! Every good dieter knows you should eat your calories, not drink them. (See #1.)
As someone who has been watching her weight since before puberty, I think I have all the tips down pat. I will say this, though: The right kind of exercise makes a huge difference. I might not be meant to run or walk. I weighed myself yesterday and had not gained over the weekend, much to my surprise. Apparently my body responds to the hard physical labor of gardening. Perhaps I should commit some kind of crime that will get me sent to a work camp.

So what's next? It seems to me that in order to cut more calories from my diet, I need to start skipping meals. That is, in fact, what I do when I'm working outdoors. I have a small bowl of Cheerios before I head out in the morning, and I have dinner. Sometime mid-afternoon I'll have a handful of walnuts or pumpkin seeds. This is not by design, by the way. I just don't want to come inside. Something else is more important than food. What a shock.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Weekend wrap-up

First things first: I weighed myself before I left and had lost four pounds. So that means I'm only three months behind on my first-of-the-year goal of losing a pound a week. My daughter told me always to remember that slow and steady wins the race. Heh.

After a long weekend of travel and two parties and lots of family time, I'm quite sure those four pounds are back. I got to take one walk while I was gone, with my younger granddaughter, from my daughter's home to a park which is now under water.

You see, my friends, I went to Nashville for the weekend. Little did we know that not only would we be surprising my daughter on her 40th birthday, but Mother Nature would be surprising us with 15" of rain.

It began raining Friday night, late, and didn't stop until sometime Sunday afternoon. My daughter's neighborhood backs up to the Harpeth River, which quickly overflowed its banks. Homes across the street had lakes for back yards, and most of the major roads in and out of her town (a suburb south of Nashville) remain closed today. I didn't get to take any pictures of the flooding because I didn't want to risk taking my camera out in the rain.

Thankfully my daughter and her family are fine and, in fact, weren't ever in any danger. But so many parts of the Nashville area are devastated. Early on we were more concerned about tornadoes; I don't think even the weather forecasters thought the front would move quite so slowly.

Anyway, I made it home, as did the other out-of-town guests, although it took an hour to go the first four miles. There was really only one major road open and everyone who needed to get out of town was on it yesterday morning. My older grandchildren got yesterday off from school, but are back on schedule today.

I didn't get the fence up before I left, so that's definitely happening today. We had more than half an inch of rain here at home while I was gone, and I'm shocked at how much the grass has grown in just four days! Also, the hostas are thick and healthy-looking, the over-wintered parsley is huge and the asparagus is all feathery and pretty. Lots to do outside today, and I'd better get at it.