Category Archives: flowers

Childhood Cravings

I was grocery shopping recently and had a craving for a childhood snack — graham crackers with frosting on them.  I purchased the box of crackers and grabbed what I thought was standard chocolate frosting.  Imagine my delight when I popped open that little container and discovered chocolate mint — double yum!

That got me to thinking about some of the simple things from my childhood that kids today don’t have the opportunity to experience.   Back when I was a child life was more simple.  Summer was spent playing outside.  There weren’t any arranged play-dates set up by parents, we weren’t in day care centers, and our parents did not have us participating in scheduled activities.  childhood - chinese jump rope

We got up in the morning and walked or rode our bike to a friend’s house, rang the doorbell and asked if they could come out and play.  When was the last time a child did that?  Today’s children probably wouldn’t know how.   We didn’t have video games, cell phones, ipads, or any of the other technology that kids today rely on.  So what did we do with our time?  We had fun!

A field behind the house could be trampled down into “rooms” in which we could roll out our baby carriages and play house.  We would lay on our backs and look at the clouds, making determinations on what they looked like.  We played Ring-Around-The-Rosie, Duck-Duck-Goose, Mother May I, Red Rover Red Rover, Tag, Kick-the-Can, and hide-and-go-seek.

We only had three TV channels, and cartoons were a Saturday morning specialty.  Every kid sat in front of the TV watching their favorites.  Between Saturdays we had our comic books to read.   My girlfriend and I would put our comic books into the saddle baskets of our bikes, then read our comic books as we rode our bikes down the street no-handed….and we weren’t even wearing helmets!

childhood - jacksWe would sit on the porch playing jacks.  At one time I was able to handle pick-ups of 20 jacks at a time.  We played a lot.  Do kids play jacks anymore?  Are they even available to purchase?  Ours were tiny metal jacks with a small red ball.    What about hula hoops and pogo sticks?  With a swing of the hips your hula hoop could be forced up to the neck or down to the knees and back to the waste.  Regular jump rope, Chinese jump rope, and hop scotch kept us busy.

I lived in a small town.  We would ride our bikes downtown and go to the library and the dime store.  I did a lot of reading.  Nancy Drew was my favorite, and so was Alfred Hitchcock and Agatha Christie as I got older.   We bought pop in glass bottles out of a vending machine.  Everyone chewed Bazooka bubble gum, and we all loved the little tiny comics that came inside.  Gum wrappers were used to make chains…what we did with those chains I don’t remember.

We looked for 4-leaf clovers.  Flower petals were pulled off one-by-one saying “he loves me, he loves me not.”  Dandelions were held under the chin to see if your chin shone yellow, but I don’t remember why.  If we found a dandelion gone to seed, a “wisher,” we were thrilled….but our father wasn’t if he saw us blowing those seeds out into the lawn.

childhood - pogo stickBack then most people did not have air conditioning.  Windows were open, fans were used.  One strong childhood summer memory does not involve me but my father.  He would mow the lawn and then afterward watch the ball game on TV.  One of my favorite scents and sounds of summer is the combination of fresh mowed grass and a baseball ball game on the TV or radio.

What are some of your childhood memories?  No matter how old or young you are, if you are an adult I am sure things have changed since your childhood.   Do you have childhood cravings?  Do you wish your children and/or grandchildren could experience life as it once was, not as it is now?

2 Comments

Filed under Activities, backyard, children, Discoveries, environmental, exploration, Family, flowers, freindship, friends, friendship, home, kids, Life is a Melting Pot, memoir, play, reality, summer, time

Matthaei Botanical Gardens

This past weekend I had the opportunity to visit Matthaei Botanical Gardens in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  If like me you enjoy taking photographs of flowers and/or nature, this is a wonderful place to visit.

Matthaei has several options to fit everyone’s needs or desires.  There are several trails that are open sunrise to sunset seven days a week, plus the conservatory, garden store, lobby and display gardens are open from 10:00 am to 8:00 pm.  Admission is free; they do have a donation box inside the conservatory, and there is a reasonable parking fee of only $1.50 per hour or a maximum of $5.00 per day.  With the size of the venue I opted to pay the daily rate immediately._DSC6631

I arrived at 8:30 am.  It was quiet, with only a few people quietly walking out onto some of the trails.  I grabbed my camera and tripod and decided to walk the Sue Reichert Discovery Trail, which circles Willow Pond.   This trail is only 4/10 of a mile, which they estimate to be a ten minute walk.  I meandered slowly, taking pictures and stretched it into almost an hour, taking time to sit down a couple times on benches that were available.

The difference in time is whether you walk like the average person or walk like a nature photographer, skimming the area for possible subjects to photograph.  Doing so can make a fast walk take quite a while and is why I prefer to partake in such places either alone or with other photographers who understand the time frame needed to fully enjoy the area.

I decided to do the outside gardens first, and in looking over the map not only did I not go up into the Children’s Garden, but I also missed the Perenial Garden, Grower’s Garden, MiSo House and Bonsai and Penjing Garden.  I started in the Gateway Garden, a relaxing spot with benches, rocking chairs and fountains.  I took photographs of flowers there, in the Marie Azary Bock Garden and in the Sitting Gardens before meandering down the Commons, which are bordered by two other gardens on the east and bench seating on the west.

The commons leads you into the Alexandra Hicks Herb Knot Garden.  Here you will find chipmunks scampering back and forth amongst the plants and sometimes climbing up on them as well, but trying to capture them in a photo is difficult.  They are quick little guys!  Once I completed my photo rounds of the herb garden I strolled between that and the perennial garden and went through a vine/plant covered tunnel which led to the opening of the children’s garden.  I had the option of going up into the children’s garden or taking a nature trail around the children’s garden.  What I opted to do was take a short trail not shown on the map into the Oak Openings Garden.

There was nothing to attract my photographer’s eye in the Oak Openings Garden with the exception of wild strawberry plants that had begun bearing fruit.  It was the bright red of the fruit that grabbed my eye as I looked down to scan the ground for photo subjects.  I followed the trail through the Upland Woodland Garden and across into the Wet Woodland Garden.  Unfortunately the hot weather we had been having left nothing  wet, it was, on that day, better termed a dry woodland.  Nothing caught my eye for photographs, so I proceeded into the Great Lakes Garden, which led me into one end of the Prairie Gardens, then the Coastal Gardens and back up where I started in the Gateway Garden.   Unfortunately a group was there partaking in the rocking chairs or I would have grabbed one for a nice relaxing break.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

By now I had been wandering for a few hours and decided to take a snack break before visiting the Conservatory.  One thing to keep in mind, the conservatory does not sell meals, only a limited selection of snack food, candy and beverages.  If you plan to be at Matthaei Botanical Gardens for several hours you may want to consider packing a cooler with beverages and lunch or snack food.   I had not planned that far in advance, so I purchased a small trail mix and flavored water.  There are one or two small tables where you can sit inside to consume your snack, and there are also tables available outside on the deck.  Food and beverages are not allowed inside the conservatory.

The Conservatory has three main areas, the Tropical House, the Temperate House and the Desert House.  Here you will find many plants and blooms to view and/or photograph.  On this day there was a water Lilly in full bloom, Cocoa trees, pineapples growing, sausage trees with their “fruit” hanging in abundance, and numerous other flowers and plants.  The Desert House has the majority of their cactus growing in raised display beds, making it easy to enjoy and photograph the wide variety.  I’m sure this was also done to preserve the fingers of little ones who may be touring with their parents.  Some of those cactus spines are pretty long and wicked looking!

I spent about five hours touring the trail, gardens and conservatory, and I didn’t see it all.  Keep in mind I was walking slow, took several rest breaks on the numerous benches that are available throughout the property, and was taking photographs.  The average person might tour it at a much faster pace.

I would like to go back and walk some of the trails I chose to skip, plus with anything growing outside the gardens and trails are a constantly changing canvas with growing seasons and weather.  If going they do recommend appropriate footwear for walking the natural areas and that you stay on paths due to poisonous plants such as poison sumac and poison ivy growing in natural areas.  The Massauga rattlesnake also inhabits the area.  I did not encounter any slithering reptiles, but did enjoy the “music” of unseen frogs as I walked around the pond.

If you are in the Ann Arbor area I highly recommend a visit to University of Michigan’s Mattaei Botanical Gardens.

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Activities, birds, Botanical Gardens, bugs, Discoveries, education, environmental, exploration, flowers, insects, Life is a Melting Pot, Michigan, nature, nature center, Photography, spring, summer, tourism, travel, vacation

Cherish Surprises

It is easy to get wrapped up in the mundane routine of everyday life.  You get up, have breakfast, check your email, pack your lunch, drive to work, drive back home, and so on.  Your habits are routine, your interactions with others are routine.  It is all the same.

Don’t let monotony drag you down.  Even when each day is a repeat of the prior one, you can bring some variety into your life, or into the life of others.  By doing one, you create the other.  The end result is you will both probably benefit from the interactions.    surprise - momens seize us

Now if you are wondering what can you do to create surprise in someone else’s life, think about what things you find to be a pleasant surprise.  Moments you cherish.  It can be anything big or small.  It is something that creates a moment of pleasure, of surprise, it makes you smile and brightens your day.    At the same time, if you tend to overlook those moments when they happen to you, learn to cherish them.  What am I talking about?  Easy.

A phone call from someone when you least expect it, an impromptu opportunity to get together with a friend, finding a $5 bill in your coat pocket, an unexpected opportunity to travel, a handwritten letter in the mail, when a child brings you a bouquet of dandelions, a wild animal standing near the roadway, spotting a rainbow, and the list goes on.  There are no set rules, whatever makes you happy, whatever makes you smile, that is your surprise.

To cherish the surprises, you need to be alert to the small things in life that we often overlook.   Be more attentive.  Enjoy life and cherish surprises.

1 Comment

Filed under celebration, exploration, flowers, freindship, friends, friendship, home, Life Changing, Life is a Melting Pot, mind

I like wildlife but I have my limits

I live in a home that is not quite city and not quite country.  I am on a state highway and have neighbors nearby, yet we also have quite a bit of wildlife in the area.  I usually enjoy these glimpses of nature in action, but this year I have had both the pleasurable and the less desirable.

There is a pair of rabbits that I have viewed on more than one occasion in my neighbor’s yard.  Normally you just see a rabbit hopping across the lawn, nothing spectacular.  This pair, however, is comical and unique.  One rabbit will jump up considerably high into the air and the other rabbit will run beneath it.  Then they will turn and repeat the steps again.  I have watched them do this on more than one occasion.  Even though they are annoying in the sense that the consume vegetation from the garden, they are comical and fun to watch.

I did not get the thistle and milkweed pulled from  my front bushes and the thistle has gotten quite large and gone to seed.  There are birds that seem to love this and frequently I look out to see them sitting on the weeds in the shrubbery.  This is pleasurable, enough so that I can forgive them for coming up onto my porch, sitting on my chairs there and  sometimes leaving reminders of their existence.

If you have been a reader for long you know that I have spiders on my porch every year due to my close proximity to the river.  I learn to watch for webs, and as long as they don’t violate the area I need to walk into my house at night, I tolerate them because the benefit is I have a mosquito free yard.  Our co-existence would be much easier if they would learn to build their webs on the end of the porch opposite the door, so a few large, persistent ones have been eliminated.

This year my limits have been tested.  When I was weed whacking along my patio two small mice jumped up and ran.  My daughter informed me that we have had mice outside for years, that my husband just never told me.  I would prefer if critters didn’t jump up and run when I am trying to trim the vegetation.

DSC_1691

The perfume factory. Photo copyright 2016 by Grace Grogan.

One night I came home after dark and my lights caught an animal walking across my drive — a skunk!  While Pepe Le Pew may be adorable in a cartoon, it is not something I want strolling my drive or yard when I am likely to be walking around in the area.  That particular night I pulled up onto the grass near my porch steps to hopefully eliminate any possibility of a skunk encounter.  As I came to a stop the skunk walked down the front sidewalk across the area near my steps and into the bushes beside the porch.  Needless to say I was a titch nervous when I walked up onto the porch to enter the house…so nervous I forgot to look for spiders!

The perfume factory’s appearance  was not a one-time sighting.  I could smell him periodically at night and a couple days after the initial sighting I saw him walking around in my backyard at 3:30 in the afternoon.  This definitely made me nervous as this is a nocturnal animal that was out and about in the middle of the day.  It appeared that he may have gone under my shed, but I certainly didn’t want to run out and look.  I have purchased mothballs, which I have been told if I spread in the bushes and around and underneath the shed will deter the skunk.

DSC_1705

Wasp/Hornet nest. Photo Copyright by Grace Grogan.

Before that problem had been tackled I discovered a hornet/wasp nest hanging on the upper corner of my shed.  It was fairly good size and very active.  I purchased two cans of spray designed to kill wasps and hornets and my daughter, Caroline, came over and doused the nest with a foaming spray the first night.  The next morning I looked out and the nest was still active.  Caroline’s boyfriend, Rob, is used to dealing with these pests when working, so he came over that night and re-sprayed that nest.  In the process of trying to eliminate one nest, he discovered three more nests had been started under a loose board so sprayed them all for me.  The next day Rob came back to check the inside of the shed where he discovered another five small hives being started.  Thanks to Rob all hives have been treated and destroyed and the loose board is nailed back for me.

So, wildlife is wonderful if it is deer standing in my front yard, rabbits playing a hopping game, or birds sitting on flowering weeds.  What I do not like is the perfume factory of Pepe Le Pew, mice, and wasps/hornets invading my space.   If they stay in the wooded areas things will be just fine.  After all, I have my limits, and my limits are not beneficial to their lifeline.

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under backyard, bugs, Discoveries, flowers, habit, Life is a Melting Pot, spiders

Trilium Trek

          The trillium is a delicate, small, wildflower that blooms in the spring.  They can be found in white, pink, red, and the very rare painted variety.  Since 1980 the only sightings of the painted trillium in Michigan have all been within a 30 mile area of St. Clair County.
          Knowing that they were in bloom, my husband, Ron, and I went out on a search for painted trillium a couple weeks ago.  They are located in a wooded nature area.  Although I have not used bug spray in years, when you open the car door and the mosquitoes are coming inside you know precaution is needed.
          When you haven’t used bug spray in a while, there are a few pointers to remember.
          1.  When misting your face make sure you keep your mouth shut — that stuff does not taste good!
          2.  Spaying the majority of your body does not prevent mosquitoes from finding the spot you missed.
          3.  You will find out you forgot to spray an area at a most inopportune moment, such as when bent over taking a photograph and one decides to bite you on the backside through your jeans.
          4.  Evidence of a poor spray job may not become evident for hours, such as when you look in the mirror and realize the small section on the back of your arm from you elbow to wrist is covered in mosquito bites — 27 of them to be exact.
          Not that I’m admitting to any of the above, but knowledge does come from experience.  Of course a pain-endured labor does have its just rewards.  We found all three kinds of trillions, a slug, a toad, and a few other items to photograph.  A pleasant morning photographing nature.

Leave a comment

Filed under bugs, flowers, nature, Photography