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May 2016

Between Thunderstorms

It's Friday, so let's step out into my garden and see what's going on.

(But we'll have to move quickly -- before another thunderstorm moves in.)


This is a bloom on my Satori dogwood tree.  Sadly, there are not many of them this year.  (I think the timing of one of our late spring freezes interruped the bloom-formation.)  I'm just going to have to enjoy the few blooms that made it all the more!


I'm really happy with my allium-floating-over-hosta corner.  I was inspired to try this after my visit to the Chicago Botanical Garden last spring (they had acres of this sort of thing), so I planted a bunch of allium bulbs in the fall . . . and here we are!  Just what I'd hoped for.


I love clematis -- I have several varieties in my garden, and they'll be blooming at various stages throughout the garden for the next couple of weeks.  


And this?  It is a garden "gift" from my neighbors -- popping up this year in the "no-mans-land" behind their pool and hanging over my fence to bloom.  (Many nasty weeds in my garden come from this untamed, woodsy-area behind my neighbor's pool.)  My research shows that this is likely wild hydrangea  -- and, apparently, it "suckers freely" in wooded areas.  (At least the blooms are lovely.)  (And way better than their "gifts" of poison ivy and bindweed.)


And check out this strange, new "bloom"!  I'm really excited to add this new purple trellis to my garden this year.  It comes from local artist Lin McIntosh, and adds a delightful touch of whimsy to this border.  Nice pop of color now -- and will be perfect once this area (mostly salvia) begins to bloom (probably next week).

I'm planning to spend plenty of time out in my garden this weekend.  Hope you get a chance to enjoy a lovely weekend, too.


It's time . . . for Book Bingo 2016 . . . 

I printed my card yesterday:

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I think there's a lot of good potential - and a lot of freedom - in my card.  Because the thing I struggle with, when it comes to Book Bingo, is reading something I don't really enjoy or want to read -- just to "get the square."  I'm most worried about the "mythological creature on the cover" (because not a fantasy fan)* and "pretended to read" (because not my style).

Grab your own BINGO card here . . . and join the fun!

Let's Book-Bingo the summer away!


* Feel free to suggest any books with mythological creatures on the cover.  (This one might just do me in.)

Woo! Hoo! I Did It!

I did something really awesome last night.  

(But I have no photo documentation.)

(So here.  Check out the sunset from my front porch when I got home instead.)


What did I DO, you ask?


After two successful weeks of Bike Camp, I decided I was "ready" to attempt the Tuesday Night Women's Ride.

This means I . . . 

put the bike rack on my car,

loaded up my bike,

met up with this group of women I'd never seen before in my life,

(except the leader, and she was busy leading -- so I had to go it alone)

and took off.

For just over 21 miles.

Out into the Michigan countryside.

Past lakes, farms, woods.

4 deer, 3 turkeys.

A gorgeous setting sun.

Wildflower fields.

Road construction.


One squished turtle and 2 dead squirrels.

I did it.

I loved it.

(I wished I could've stopped to take photos.  But I had NO IDEA where we were . . . so I dared not stray from the pack.)

Woo! Hoo!

Something Sweet

I try to be really disciplined.

And I generally look away when it comes to dessert.


Oh my.

I really love a good dessert!  



(Brian and Lauren's wedding cake.  YUM!)

And sometimes, well.  My sweet tooth wins!

My favorites?

  1. Pavlova - Light and just a teeny-tiny bit chewy and oh-so-perfect with whipping cream and fruit.  (Perfection.)
  2. Fruit tart - Another light and fruity favorite!  (Mmmm.)
  3. Sticky Toffee Cake - Not usually pretty to look at . . . but pretty fabulous to eat!  (Mouth watering.)
  4. Hot Fudge Brownie Sundaes -- Rich and delicious home-baked brownies topped with vanilla ice cream and hot fudge.  (So. Good.)
  5. Creme brûlée -- With or without fruit.  (I always want to lick the bowl.)
  6. Gelato -- Plain.  Almost any flavor.  (But especially hazelnut.)
  7. Carrot Cake -- With nuts, but please hold the pineapple.  (The cream cheese frosting is non-negotiable.)
  8. Pie -- Fruit pie of almost any kind -- but especially peach, cherry, or apple.  (À la mode, please.)
  9. Lemon bars (or, really, Lemon-Almost-Anything) -- A little bit sweet, a lot bit tangy.  (And always perfect.)
  10. Chocolate malt -- The way to Tom's heart.  (Only chocolate will do for him.  And heavy on the malt!)

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How about YOU?  What are your favorite desserts?


See what everyone else has to say here.  (And prepare yourself for mouth-watering goodness!)


Garden Surprise

A few years ago, when my "one little word" was SURPRISE, I made a little paving brick for my garden.

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Even though I know it's out there in my herb garden, I'm always, well . . . surprised . . . when I discover it again as I put in my herbs for another season.  

It's a great way to remind myself to always be open to the surprises that happen in the garden. . . 

cilantro that seeds itself everywhere

toads that look just like dirt

weeds that actually throw seeds as you pull them

tarragon that made it through the winter

impatient robins who wait next to you for worms while you dig

what in the world THAT plant is

Good things, all.  (Except those annoying seed-spewing weeds.)

I planted my herb garden yesterday.

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And I'm really hoping NOT to be surprised by unpleasant weather-surprises.  

(Like frost.)  

(I know.)

Bloomin' Friday

I've had a really busy week.  A bit of this, a little of that, and far too much of the other thing.  Good stuff, for the most part.  But not a whole lot of extra time.  Whenever I could, though, I got out in my garden.

Which is (finally) coming to life!


(Garden Buddha is so happy to be surrounded by creeping jenny . . . instead of snow!)

Everything is POPPING now!

Ferns unfurling.

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Leaves emerging.

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Hosta unrolling.

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And blooms?

Oh, yeah.  Blooms!

Lovely, incredible lilacs.

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Epimedium (barrenwort) with their sweet, barely-there flowers.

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Allium - just beginning to pop!  (More of my Hundreds of Bulbs from last fall.)

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And this unknown lily-type bulb.  I have them all over my yard -- white and pink and blue.  (I know I planted them as bulbs-obtained-cheaply Once Upon a Time -- but they have naturalized and now appear all over.)  (And I have no idea what they are.) (But I don't care.  Because wonderful.)

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I've also got hops.  (Oh, brother... Do I have hops...)  

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Garden Priority One this weekend?  Taming those hops.  (Before they take over the world.)

I hope there are lots of blooms in your world this Friday, too.
Happy weekend!

A Little Throwback Thursday with Some Jumping Up and Down, Too

First, the throwback part.  Let's check out this page from my high school yearbook. . .

Yearbook 1977

See that picture up there?  The one of the girl diving into the pool for the start of a swim race?  Yeah.  That's me.  1977.

For as long as I can remember, I have been a Swimmer.  I took my first swim lessons at age 5, and was pretty much at ease in the pool from that moment on.  Some of my best childhood memories involve swim friends, swim team, and swim meets.

I gotta tell you, though.  Swimming - for regular exercise - is a bit of a hassle.  First, you need to have access to a pool.  Then, there's always a lot of "getting ready" time (before and after a swim).  And, well . . . there's also the matter of those pesky, telltale "goggle marks" on your face (which seem to get worse the older my skin gets).


When I had to stop running and dancing last year, I decided I might as well deal with the hassles and get back to swimming.  

It's been a great decision all around.  I love it.  I'm good at it.  And it's very good exercise, all around.  I generally swim 4 times a week -- with a goal of swimming 10,000 yards per week (just over 5 1/2 miles). (It's still a hassle, though.)

Here's my pool.  (Just imagine it with people in it.)  (Sometimes too many people.)  (Just sayin.)


One day, last summer, I noticed an adult woman taking a beginning swim lesson in the adjoining pool (a separate poolnot pictured above).  I noticed her, particularly, because you just don't see that many adults learning to swim. She was nervous and hesitant -- but absolutely determined!

Now, swimming is not an easy sport to pick up as an adult.  It takes a lot of coordination to get the pulling and the kicking and breathing (especially the breathing) all working together to propel a person - efficiently - through water.  (After all, humans . . . were meant for land -- not water!)  I am always impressed with - and really in awe of - adults who decide to take on learning-to-swim.  I always try to be as encouraging as I can be when I see a new swimmer.  (I was also a cheerleader in high school. . . )

So I became Miriam's (that's the new swimmer's name) cheerleader.  I tell her how well she's doing and explain that - yes - the breathing is the hardest part.  She tells me I make it look so easy.  I tell her I've been swimming since I was five.  She tells me that she watches me swim to try to figure out the mechanics of breathing.  I tell her she's doing great and that I can see improvement every week.  

It's like that.

A couple of weeks ago, I noticed Miriam in the lane next to me.  She told me she had "graduated" from her swim lessons, and was now on her own.  She was practicing in the lap pool, now -- and she told me her goal was to swim one length of the pool without stopping.

She was close.  But she always stood up a few yards before she got to the end of the pool.

I encouraged her.  You're so close, Miriam!  Four more arm strokes and you'll be there!

She took off. 

I watched.

And . . . she made it!  One length; no stopping!

When she grabbed the wall and stood up at the other end of the pool, she turned and looked at me.  I just jumped up and down with my arms in the air.  And so did Miriam.  

It was like she'd just won an Olympic medal!

I swam down to meet her.  You did it! I knew you could!

She was beaming -- just beaming.  Now . . . she told me . . . my goal is TWO lengths without stopping!

I have no doubt! 





I'm having a bit of a Busy Time right now.  I must attend to several things.  All at once.

(You know how it goes.)


I'm distracting you with this view of an allium getting ready to POP! in my garden.


I think I'll be back tomorrow.

(But maybe not until Friday.)

Taking a Risk

If you've been reading my blog for a while, you might remember that last year I struggled with tendinitis, followed by a nagging knee injury.  My running and dancing days were, essentially, over.

I was devastated.

For a while, at least.  But I picked myself up and re-configured.  I started swimming.  A lot.  And I kept up with spinning class.  I started strength training.  And I joined a tougher Pilates class.

But this voice inside my head kept whispering . . . bicycle.

Around the holidays, I was at a party and ran into an acquaintance . . . who just happened to be a cyclist . . . who just happened to convince me that not only did I need to get a bike -- but that I also needed to join her "women's ride" each Tuesday evening beginning in the spring.


That voice in my head . . . bicycle . . .combined with the words of that acquaintance. . . just kept getting louder and louder and louder.


I got a bicycle for my birthday!  (And a super attractive day-glo green helmet, too.)

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Now, other than a few here-and-there events and riding with my kids when they were little, I haven't been a regular bike rider since . . . oh, my teen years (when I actually rode a bike all the time).  I've been riding around the neighborhood quite a bit this spring (weather permitting) (ahem) -- but I'm certainly not ready for prime time (which means I haven't joined up with my acquaintance's weekly women's ride yet).

Bike riding is a little intimidating for the newbie.  And dangerous.  (As Tom is quick to point out.)  (Often.)  


I signed up for Bike Camp!


Bike Camp is a 4-week program sponsored by the Kalamazoo Bicycle Club and designed to teach cycling-newbies all the things they need to know -- from rules of the road to safety tips to bike maintenance to the importance of proper gear.  Bike Camp also includes a group ride each week (you pick -- 5, 10, or 15 miles).  

I hesitated about Bike Camp.  It sounded . . . well. . . a bit too routine and mechanical to me.  Maybe even a little nerdy.  But Tom encouraged me.  And the acquaintance-with-the-weekly-women's-ride encouraged me.  So I signed up.

Our first session was on Saturday -- and it turned out to be JUST what I need.  I'm going to learn a lot (already have, actually), I'm meeting other newbie-cyclists, and I'm gaining confidence.  Before you know it, I'll be a regular member of that weekly women's ride!

The downside?  It was only 43 degrees (F) on Saturday morning -- and windy.  That 10-mile group ride was pretty brutal in those conditions.  But y'know?  It was also kinda fun!  

And I did it.  

(And I liked it.)






I started out this blogging week wondering why the month of May... always seems to bite me in the butt.

It really has been a brutal couple of weeks in terms of busy-ness.  Mostly with things that are fun and enjoyable -- but that get to be a bit... much... when layered on top of each other, all at once.

I'm feeling pushed and pulled and in desperate need of some replenishment right now.

When I woke up and walked into my bathroom this morning, though, I saw THIS on the wall... 


it was a good reminder to me.  About perspective.

Yes.  Life gets busy and feels crazy sometimes.

But.  Life is also grand.  And what makes it interesting, really, is all those bumps in the road and unexpected side trips and detours.  

The sparkle in my bathroom this morning reminded me to shift my perspective just a bit.

Today, I'm going to embrace my life -- the busy and the fun and the obstacles, alike -- and make sure I keep my eyes open to see the sparkle!

Have a great weekend.