It is the small simple things of life that bring us peace.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Iris, in bloom

January 29th
I was greeted by this full blown iris bloom this afternoon! 
The last few days have been dark and very cold so I had not checked on it, just scurried by on my way to and from the mailbox in the evening.  The late afternoon sun caught it this afternoon, there was no missing it!  So far this is the only one of the iris that has bloomed, but even if it is the only one I'm content and have had a little blessing.  I've enjoyed watching it go from just a purple tip to full bloom.  Just wish it would last a little longer. 

Sunday, January 26, 2014


January 20th
Summer before last I was working in my yard one night when the guy that lived three houses up the street stopped his car in front of my house and got out.   I had never actually talked to this guy, but in the evenings he would run by the house several times while I was working in the yard.  He would go by with his dog, run back by a little later to put the dog in the house, and then run back out on his longer run without the dog.  We would always wave and exchange a hello.  He lived in a rental house and had slowly transformed the yard from a weedy mess into a fairly nice lawn with hanging ferns and other plants in the beds in front of the house.  But the night he stopped to talk he told me that he was being transferred and would be leaving the neighborhood.  He told me that he was offering all his plants to the neighbors and offered me some (or all).  The next night he brought down two very heavy ferns and another potted plant.  He told me to help myself to anything else that I wanted. 

I had no intentions to get anything until I walked by a night or two after he moved out and saw these iris.  So after I finished the walk I went back and dug up a few in the approaching darkness.  I had had iris years before and although they only bloom once a year I liked them for bedding plants.  I brought them home and just stuck them down in the front bed that needs to be landscaped.  I knew that they probably would not bloom for a year or two.  I threw a little water on them now and then, but really didn't do much else.  I was glad that I went back and got them because the nimrod so-called professional yard guys that came to mow the yard while the house was vacant mowed down everything in their path.

Last Monday while the weather was nice I worked in the yard most of the day.  Late in the afternoon I just happened to notice the tip of one of the iris was purple.  Yes, yes a bloom!

By yesterday the bloom had become very defined and the stalk was beginning to form. 
January 25th
So far this is the only bloom, but it is enough.  The iris were free and to me that is the best kind of plant.  I doubt if my grandmother ever bought a plant in her life.  They were all from friends and relatives yards, just as she in turned shared cuttings and seeds with others.  I grew up with this philosophy of sharing plants and it makes me feel good to know that the iris I rescued are now giving me a bloom to enjoy.  Just one of those simple little things I love.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Winter accumulation

5:56 a.m.
This doesn't look like much.  Just accumulated sleet on my deck.  But it is enough to mess up our city traffic and delay openings.  Fine with me.  Turn on the computer, pour coffee, snuggle up with the dogs for an extra hour!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014


The month of January is going by almost as fast as November and December did for me.  I'm finding it hard to believe that we are three quarters through the first month of 2014. In thinking about this I found myself wondering how many of the 2014 New Years' Resolutions are long forgotten!  I think that most people make resolutions knowing that, while they sound promising, they are not meant to be kept. 

I know this isn't profound, but aren't resolutions just saying that we are going to do things we should be doing anyway? Like eating healthier or getting more sleep? The idea is that you are going to giving up a bad habit (something you shouldn't be doing).  Or are resolutions things we are correcting that we should not have let happen in the first place? Another example: resolutions of loosing weight or getting out of debt.  Realistically, resolutions are really just a way to express a desire to get rid of your bad habits. 

Make a commitment, not a resolution, to get rid of that habit and/or make the needed change.  It might be easier to keep focused and find a way to realize the desired outcome if you think of it as a commitment that has to be kept.  The idea of a new year and having a starting point for a new beginning does lend itself to starting out on a new path with good intentions of making changes. Set goals, make a plan, and stay committed.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Winter walks

I know that I've posted before that I don't like winter, but I think I have to refine that statement.  The bottom line is that I don't like to be cold and that is what winter involves (or is supposed to anyway).  I do like winter things:  sweats, sweaters, soups, stew, fires in the fireplace, snuggling down with the dogs on the sofa on a cold winter night, just to name a few.  I used to dislike the drabness of winter.  The bare trees, brown grass, and dark days just make me yearn for spring. 

But I've begun to see winter differently.  Like a lot of things in life, I had just never experienced it.  I just focused on what I didn't like about it, never taking time to really look at it and discover that there is a different kind of beauty to be appreciated in the wintertime. 

Last January I visited the local Botanical Garden for a morning walk and again this weekend I walked through the garden on a morning walk.  I know as a child on winter visits to grandparents we would occasionally walk through the woods, but as an adult I had never taken anything other than a quick neighborhood walk in the winter.  These walks showed me that winter is anything but drab and offers much to see and appreciate.

The light in winter is different, a little softer but still dazzling.  Maybe it is the angle of the sun that makes it seem different, I'm not sure. The trees are bare, or almost bare, and the light comes through unfiltered.

Leaves form a carpet on the sleeping earth. They will be blown away with the March wind, but for now they lie undisturbed.  The overhead branches make ever changing patterns of shadows, almost like a stained glass window. The bare branches of the low lying bushes form a pattern, too, densely woven and almost like a fence. As the sun moves across the sky the patterns change like the pattern in a kaleidoscope.

The landscape is different.  I've photographed this same scene in every season; each season is different, yet beautiful in its own way.  In winter you can see through the trees, there is no shade and details that are hidden at other times can now be seen.  The tree trunks are visible and the distinctive shape of each type of tree is obvious.  Plus, what about those squirrel nests and clumps of mistletoe that are only visible in winter?
In the wintertime you discover things you've never noticed before.  I have walked by this area many times and never noticed these steps leading down into the amphitheater. As I paused to wonder about this I noticed the shadows of the branches on the steps.  (If you read Doorway Into the Past then you may remember that the amphitheater originally was San Antonio's first water storage facility.  I suspect that the round planter may have held a pump to move water into the water supply after it was pumped here from the Upper Pump House.)

Only in winter will you see leaves like these, their distinctive shape more evident and colors more varied.
A winter walk reveals much to be seen and appreciated.  It breaks the monotony of the indoor routine and refreshes the mind.  Each walk shows me new things and what I've seen before is always a little different.  I still don't like to be cold, but I do feel that winter isn't so bad and I can look forward to it each year just like I do the other seasons. There really is beauty in the winter.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

I want to stay home today

The prevalent thought in my head today has been, "Today would be a good day to stay home".  I first had the thought early this morning as I sat on the sofa with the dogs and a cup of coffee.  We had gone out briefly, but came in after the "doggie-business" was tended to because it was wet and cold.  As I sipped the coffee I envisioned staying home on a cold, wet, dark day. I could see myself wearing sweats and enjoying the warmth of my house and that feeling of security when I pull the walls around me.  It would be a good day spent enjoying the patterns of the leafless trees against the dark sky and the occasional drizzle on the deck as seen through the windows, of course.  I could spend pleasant hours in the sewing room, or spend some time writing or even reading.  But, alas, it was not to be.  Off to work I went, having the same thought as I headed down the driveway and into the damp, leaf covered street.

All morning long this thought reverberated in my head.  If I was home I would be enjoying this winter day.  But lunch time came and I had a small reprieve from the thought.  For several weeks I'm working in San Antonio again and had resolved to try to get out some for a lunch break to not only eat at favorite spots but to make pictures and take little lunch expeditions.  Today it worked out that I could actually take a lunch break, so off I went into the cold, wet, dark day, but still having that thought that I wished I was home.  I headed to one of my favorite spots, The Southwest School of Art. What a great choice, perfect for the day and to get that thought out of my head.

Our fall color this year has been exceptional.  As I pulled into the parking lot this still colorful tree was a nice contrast to the drabness of the sky.  I had to make pictures!

I had to wait for the little restaurant to open and enjoyed this view into the dining room while I waited.  Inviting, isn't it?  The coziness of the old room was perfect for enjoying a hot lunch on a cold day. I always think about all the girls that passed through the lunch line and into the dining room when this was a school.

Even so, as I drove back to work the thought returned and I found myself thinking that it would be a good afternoon to be home, maybe taking a nap on the sofa with the dogs snuggled around me. 

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Time to wrap it up

Christmas has come and gone and New Year's is past, too.  I find it hard to believe that the season is over and it is time to move back into ordinary winter day times.

It was a good Christmas season; I made sure of that because I started out with the right attitude about the season and kept that attitude going throughout.  I've always enjoyed the week between Christmas and New Year's, too, and this year was no exception.  Now this weekend wrapped it up with a visit from family members.  We shared good times together, complete with a family meal around my table on Saturday night. 

Now it is time to close the season and put everything away.  Strange, as I get older I am less compelled to rush to get everything packed and stored.  With family coming in I had decided to leave everything out a few more days.  Tonight the tree is dark and I miss the glow it gave to the room.  The Dickens Village is still lit, warm and cozy. Tomorrow night I have to start taking it all down, putting it away until next year.

Now it is time to start looking for those small, simple things again.  Like this one small geranium blooming cheerfully on a winter afternoon just before I had to move it under the porch and cover it up since we will have a freeze tonight and tomorrow night.