Don’t Worry, Be Happy Gardening

I’m so sick and tired of the hatred, the violence, and the unstoppable virus, all of which have become frighteningly pervasive in the news. My husband and I are retired, so the pandemic hasn’t affected us financially, but we can’t hug our children and grandchildren, which, for us, is huge. With all the sadness and anger surrounding all of us, I have not escaped the depression so many others have been feeling these days, and I finally had to admit to myself that this is what is going on, so I turned my attention away from the sad and angry to the beautiful: my gardens. With the quarantine, we now have more time to spend at home on the gardens instead of going other places. The plan according to Denny is”: “She points, I dig”, which is exactly right.  The soil in North Carolina is red clay. Add to that the rocks and stones turned over into the soil during the construction of new homes, and you have a dig job that I can’t do for large areas.

We have accumulated quite a few gorgeous plants and bushes in the 2 ½ years we have been in the house, preserving what was here already from the builders. The first year in our home we decided to plant above the ground and opted to buy a dozen half whiskey barrels for planting and it was quite a success. We defined the border of the barrel garden with landscaping bricks and it became a unique mixed sun/shade/part-shade garden. We have gotten so many complements on it. Several of the barrels are home to a beautiful selection of five different species of lilies.

One of my favorite plants is the Midnight Marvel Hibiscus. It produces the most magnificent show-stopping crimson blooms on leaves of deep hues of red and green. I bought one and put it in a barrel in a part-sun, part-shade location. It did well but the next spring there was nothing but dead branches. It wasn’t showing any signs of new growth in very early spring as were some others, and I assumed it didn’t make it through the winter. As guaranteed, Spring Hill Nurseries replaced it, and low and behold, now I have two! It was just a little slower starting than others.

When the bottom leaves started getting yellow and drooping frequently, I was afraid they had become pot-bound and the roots had eaten up all the soil, but they looked so nice in the barrels. Of course, it is quite warm in North Carolina to begin with and these plants require more watering than I was probably providing them last year, especially if they were becoming pot-bound. Today I decided to conduct a little experiment. I mean, they are lifetime guaranteed, so what did I have to lose? My husband hauled the heavy barrels over to two spots that get more sun, carefully laid them on their sides and removed the bottoms of the barrels, which was not hard, as they were all soft and mushy already. He loosened up some soil underneath and put the barrels on top of the loose ground, and I watered them thoroughly. All we could see was root after we removed the bottom, so now I’m hoping that they will have some room to breathe and spread. I’m going to try to work in some coffee grounds and compost to the soil, if I can, and use a little mulch on top this time to hold the water better. If this works, in a few weeks I should have a stunning display of Midnight Marvel Hibiscus. If it doesn’t work, they go in the groundIt’s the little things that make me happy.

Going Up Against a Behemoth

Well, if people don’t see any posts from me anymore, it’s because I will have been banned from Facebook. Below is the reason why. I may be considered horrible by some for asking that Facebook be investigated for soliciting charitable donations, but please read my complaint carefully, because it concerns anyone who has ever made a donation on Facebook, and I have made several. If they are guilty of what I suspect, their practice should be stopped. Please continue to support charities on their own sites or by a check through the mail. They all need us. I’ll let you know as soon as I hear something. If this practice is legit, then please continue to support charities here.

Sent to the Internet Crime Complaint Center:

Two days ago was called “Giving Tuesday” on Facebook. I’m not sure if it was just a Facebook “thing” or it had a broader reach. In any case, I chose St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, my favorite charity, as my target for donations. A friend inadvertently donated twice, for $10 each. She let me know and asked if I could get her a refund for $10. She is a widowed senior citizen on a very fixed income. I called St. Jude’s and was told they were unaware of this donation campaign. They told me that the money does not go directly to them, but to Facebook, who then forwards the money to them. Facebook offers these campaigns to people having birthdays as a charitable service and the person gets to choose his or her favorite charity. This year they added “Giving Tuesday”, where they offered a whole list of charities from which to choose or you could even create your own. On the surface, this looks like an excellent way to funnel money to charities, money that may not have been given otherwise, because it was so easy to do. However, I believe this borders on, or actually is, a fraudulent practice on the part of Facebook. Nowhere does it say that the money doesn’t go directly to donors’ charity, but to Facebook. I don’t know how long they hang onto these funds before they actually present them to the charities, but I strongly doubt they present the individual charities with the interest accrued. Also, on my PayPal Statement, my $25 donation comes through as this: “
Seller info Facebook Payments Inc https://www.facebook.com/help/contact/1998316600435522 Invoice ID P2610505629066138 Purchase details StJudeChildren$25.00 Total$25.00 “
It makes no mention of a donation but appears as a “sale” of something, as Facebook is designated as the “Seller”. It does not appear that individuals would be successful in defending this as a donation in the event they would be audited. Facebook, on the other hand, can take all of the money that well-meaning people have sent to them, send it to the charities, and claim a nice, big, fat tax deduction for charitable donations. How much money does Facebook stand to make on their taxes and on interest on the backs of it’s members? And how do we know they actually send all of it, or any of it, to the charities we designate? Facebook needs to be investigated for this practice and appropriate punishments dealt as needed.

Which of the following were used in this incident? (Check all that apply.)☐ Spoofed Email☐ Similar Domain☐ Email Intrusion

☑ Other Please specify: fraudulent practice

We Must Stay “The Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave”

OK, just to get this straight. I am not a “hater”, to which conservatives are often referred, and I am not a “far-right winger”. I carry more of a purple aura. If there was a Purple Party, that’s where I would be, but regardless of political leanings, I am very distressed with the negative attitudes being rabidly and relentlessly expressed in this country. Questionable human being that Donald Trump is, he is the leader of a country that is showing considerable growth. “The United States economy is expected to continue growing steadily over the next few years, outpacing many other Western Countries”, reports the Financial Times. The Dow has risen steadily from 2016 until now, reaching an almost 35% increase, exceeding its performance under Barack Obama. The unemployment rate has gone from 5.7% in 2015 to 3.8% in May 2019 and 3.7% in July 2019. The 2018 African American unemployment rate was the lowest it has been since the Bureau of Labor Statistics started keeping track. The value of the dollar has increased and inflation has remained steady. These are facts, folks, not fake news.

Now that we have established that Donald Trump has been good for this country’s economy, (Yes, yes, we have.) lets look at objections. It seems that the economy and the survival of our country is not as important to people as their social agendas. I don’t get that, but it’s true, and it is evident in how hard people are trying to get Trump out of office. What is more important, friends, social issues or the survival of America? We can’t have it all. I’m not saying that social issues are not important, but they must fall behind the importance of our country’s financial health. Otherwise, there won’t be any money for those things, either, in time. If our government would fulfill all of the requests of special interest groups, or open up our borders indiscriminately, where in the world would we get the money? Borrow more? Tax us, the citizens, up to the hilt? Those would be temporary, terrible solutions to an ongoing issue.

Do you have a budget at home, or do you just run up your charges to buy anything you want without a thought to your future? Do you take care of the most important bills first, then ration out the left over money for less important things so you don’t go bankrupt through unchecked spending? It’s the same thing with the government. Where will we get the money to do all these things that everyone wants? Oh, I know, big business. This is one area where I turn purple. I do feel that big businesses should compromise on their exorbitant salaries, but if you want the government to control that, then we’re talking socialism, or even worse, communism. (Oops. That’s another issue.) In fact, many of those high-powered CEOs raking it in are liberal-leaning. There’s kind of a dichotomy, there. Our country is a Capitalist nation, and it is the strongest in the world. There is a correlation.

Who do you think provides all these jobs? If big business suffers, so will employment. Businesses, especially small businesses, already are concerned about having to lay off people if the minimum wage is raised to $15 an hour. Is that right? No. Is it a reality, yes, and where will we be if big business is stifled? A higher unemployment rate leading to more poverty and requests for financial aid. More crime, more mental health issues, and so on. Social issues are not black and white, there is a lot of gray in there.

For those people who don’t want a wall, I have some questions. Do you lock your house doors at night or your car doors at any time? Why? To protect yourself and your belongings from harm? Hmmm…..If someone broke into your house and starting stealing your hard-earned belongings and/or raped your daughter, would you call the police? Why? Because they are your belongings, it is illegal to steal, and you love your daughter with all your might? Hmmm…….. Do you drive through dangerous neighborhoods at night and roll your window down to talk to the people hanging out at the corner? Why? Because you don’t know them, and if you don’t know them, you can’t trust them? Hmmm…. Which do you prefer, a person who asks nicely for something or someone who just comes in and takes it without asking? Think about it and be honest. Now, are you willing to help people who try to help themselves by going through the proper channels to get the help they need? Of course. I hope we all would. America is your home. Its money is your money. Its safety is your safety. Treat it as such.

We have put four children through college on our own. I know how much we paid, and are still working to pay in our retirement, to prepare our children for life. We have smart and talented children, but they were not on the scholarship level and we were not on the assistance level, so where did that leave us? Paying it all ourselves. And yet, our government wants to give free education to undocumented “residents”, and who will pay for that? Us, while, or after, we have taken care of our own children.

Please don’t misinterpret what I am saying. I feel for these kids who were ripped away from the only home they ever knew to go to a place that may be better, but where they must hide who they really are. That’s not fair to them and it’s not their fault. But it is not our fault, either. I am a need-based scholarship child, myself. I had the grades to get into nursing school but not the money, so I’m not talking out of my derriere. I understand, and I have no problem with helping others, but they must do it right and go through the hoops, for everyone’s sake. If their criminal records preclude them from being accepted into the United States, then we shouldn’t take them. They must be vetted. If we just open the floodgates, then we must be prepared to accept the fact that some are criminals fleeing prosecution in their own country, or may be from countries that mean to do ours harm, and now they are our problem.

I can honestly say that most of the Hispanic people that I have met have been respectful and hardworking. I have no problem with any ethnic group being here. I was raised in a steel town where people from all over the world came to work, live, and enrich our culture, and that they did, but they DID IT THE RIGHT WAY. I feel sorry for the people in the caravan. I understand they don’t want to live in a world run by drug lords. I wouldn’t, either, but they need to DO IT RIGHT and apply for citizenship. We have to protect our borders, regardless of what anyone thinks. We cannot let just anyone from anywhere come as they please. We will help foreign citizens do it right. It may take a while, but wouldn’t it be worth it for everyone? We either need to show strength and resolve as a country, or we will have to roll over and lay the rug over us to be trampled. Country before politics. America before anyone else. Don’t tread on us.

Outskirts Press Self-Publishing Authors Impress EVVY Awards Judges—Here Are the 2019 Finalists — Self-Publishing News for Self Publishing Authors

I am so humbled to have my book, “The Town of Alpaca”, as a finalist in The CIPA EVVY Awards contest. Thank you, Outskirts Press for affording me this honor. I will be in Colorado on August 17th!

Outskirts Press self-publishing authors continually impress the judges at the annual CIPA EVVY Awards and this year is no different. In fact, our authors garnered 23 spots as finalists for the 2019 awards and we couldn’t be prouder! Now in its 25th year, the EVVY Awards, sponsored by the Colorado Independent Publishers Association (CIPA) and […]

Outskirts Press Self-Publishing Authors Impress EVVY Awards Judges—Here Are the 2019 Finalists — Self-Publishing News for Self Publishing Authors

Immunizations: Not just for Children

When we hear the word immunizations, we immediately think of childhood vaccines. These vaccines are what keep our children healthy and prevent epidemics of serious illnesses. Like children, adults also require immunizations. Probably the one with which most people are familiar is the “tetanus shot”. This vaccine is a combination of tetanus and diphtheria. Tetanus is a serious, sometimes fatal, disease of the brain and nervous system caused by bacteria that enter the body through a break in the skin. Diphtheria is a potentially serious bacterial infection involving the respiratory tract. An adult version of the childhood dTP series, Tdap, was introduced in 2005, providing coverage for pertussis (whooping cough) as well. Pertussis is a highly contagious, potentially fatal, bacterial disease of the respiratory system that is increasing in prevalence in the United States. Accordingly, the Tdap vaccine is now recommended as a one- time booster for adults, reverting then to Td for routine boosters every 10 years.

The Varicella, or chicken pox, vaccine, began to be used in the US in 1995. It is recommended that adults who have no credible history of having chicken pox either have immunity verified via a blood test or receive a series of two vaccinations 4-8 weeks apart. This vaccine is particularly important to those exposed to environments where transmission is possible, such as medical workers and non-pregnant women of childbearing age. The virus does not leave the body once it heals after the initial outbreak; it hides in nerve cells and an infection can reoccur later in life in the form of herpes zoster, more commonly known as shingles. It is not the same strain of herpes virus that causes the sexually transmitted disease, but it can be very painful and have long term effects. It can occur in young people, especially the ones with weakened immune systems, such as those with diseases of the immune system, are on chemotherapy, or who take steroids regularly but most commonly affects older people as their immune systems begin to weaken. In 2006, a vaccine for shingles, Zostavax, was approved for adults 50 years of age and older and is recommended for ages 60 and above. A newer vaccine, Shingrix, is now the preferred product for the prevention of shingles, although Zostavax is still available.

The MMR vaccine provides immunity for measles, mumps, and rubella (German Measles). Although the incidence of these diseases has been dramatically reduced since the vaccines became available, some people remain at risk. Adults who were born on or before 1957 and have not had the diseases or those born after that who have not been immunized are at risk for contracting these potentially serious viral illnesses. They should have at least one dose or two for those more at risk such as college students and healthcare workers. As with varicella, a blood test is available to determine immunity if you have had the disease in the past.

A flu shot is advised annually for people of all ages. Of the multiple strains of the influenza virus, only the three (for trivalent), or four (for quadrivalent) that are expected to be the most virulent or prevalent for that year are chosen to be combined into the one injection. Bear in mind that you can still get another strain of the flu even if you have had a shot, but you may not get as ill as you would have without the vaccine, and you should be covered for the strains used to create it.

Other vaccines for adults provide protection against meningitis, pneumonia, hepatitis A and B, and the human papillomavirus. Available since 2006, the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, Gardasil, has been recommended for females, and now for males. Strains of this virus are responsible for cancers of the reproductive system, head and neck, and for genital warts.

Some of these vaccinations may be a bit uncomfortable temporarily but remember, the diseases themselves are much, much worse. You can’t protect yourself from all the illnesses in the world, but if you can prevent even some of them, then why not? Vaccinate, vaccinate, vaccinate.

For more information on communicable diseases and vaccines, go to www.cdc.gov.

 

Law Enforcement and Criminals’ Mistakes: It all Boils Down to Intent

Every time I log into Facebook it asks me what’s on my mind. Yeah, I don’t think so. Today, though, something has been simmering in my blood all day so now I will speak my truth.

Last night a young policeman from Raleigh, NC was shot in the neck while doing his job stopping and attempting to question two men driving a stolen car. Before he could even reach the car, he was shot. Let’s review. An enforcer of the law, who vowed to protect us and our property, encounters a criminal, who is a threat to us and our property. Anyone can easily imagine the emotions felt by the other officers, and yet there were no riots, looting, or arson avenging the shooting of this man who did nothing except try to uphold the law instead of break it. His brothers in blue, instead of destroying the neighborhood in which the tragic event occurred, closed the streets and maintained vigilance there to protect residents, and at the hospital to ensure the safety of the injured officer.

I know policemen aren’t perfect. They make mistakes. So do lawyers, business people, doctors, nurses, teachers, clergy, etc. People. Humans. The difference between one mistake that results in harm and another one that results in harm is intent. Do police officers go into a situation intending to harm people? No. They are there to prevent crimes from occurring to person or property. Do they occasionally make a mistake that results in injury or death? Yes. Do they ever get blamed for injury or death even when they haven’t made a mistake? Yes, again. They can’t seem to win among those seeking radical “justice” for the “victims” injured or killed during the commission of a crime. How does destroying other innocent people’s lives by burning down and looting their homes and businesses serve to change the path of  justice? It doesn’t. It just creates a deeper chasm between unreasonable people and law enforcement officers. What these people need to remember is that the police serve and protect those that have disdain for them, also.

By this time you have already formed an opinion on my subject matter, and you are either nodding your heads or shaking them. The fact of this matter is that you may be wrong. Admittedly, I have based my information on true, publicized events such as those I describe, but I am not anti anyone. I am anti violence, anti intentional harm, anti law-breaking, and anti knee-jerk reactions that are formed prior to the acquisition of real facts.

Our judicial system is not perfect and needs some tweaking, but violence and anger are counter-productive to effecting change. Peaceful protests and meaningful dialogue are much better received and stand a greater chance of fixing what needs to be fixed. While change is often necessary, our system must maintain the integrity needed to support law enforcement in its quest to protect our citizens, and changes must remain within this structure.

In summation, I would like to request prayers for Charles Ainsworth, his family, police officers everywhere, and for those living “on the edge” to be able to make rational decisions in their behavior so these unfortunate situations do not occur.

https://abc11.com/raleigh-officer-shot-wednesday-is-nc-state-graduate/5045224/

 

Holiday Gifts!

Hello, friends! Happy Thanksgiving! The holidays are fast approaching and it’s high time we start thinking about gifts. Toys are lots of fun for kids and they love them, but how about considering books? I have written two children’s books that are now available to purchase and will be here before Christmas if you order soon!

The first one, “The Giggle Box”, is a beautifully illustrated, imaginative picture book for children aged 3 to 103! Davey is a little boy who just loves to giggle and laugh. Now he is starting kindergarten and he meets a new little boy, Michael, who is very sad being the new kid with no friends. Davey tries hard to make Michael laugh, but it just won’t work; Michael is still sad. That is, until a beautiful fairy, who lives up in Laughterland, where the tickliest clouds float, helps Davey to share his gift of laughter with Michael through her magic. It’s a story of friendship, sharing, and the healing power of laughter. Published through CreateSpace, it is available on amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com, and other online retailers.

On the heels of “The Giggle Box” is “The Town of Alpaca”. An illustrated book for early readers, this story is chock full of healthy values and education, brought to you by some same-but-different animals: llamas and alpacas. It has been published by Outskirts Press.

What does a town do when its largest manufacturing company, the biggest business in town, goes under? The town of Alpaca was once vibrant and bustling, but ever since that llama came to town and bought the company, it hasn’t been the same. He didn’t manage it well and now the alpacas are out of jobs, their once beautiful town has become a poor, run-down, dismal place to live, and the Alpackaging Company is on the market to be sold, but no one is looking to buy it. The situation seems hopeless for the alpacas. In addition, they now hate llamas … all llamas, so you can imagine how Albert Alpaca felt when a strange couple showed up at his little “Alpaca Inn and Suites” looking for a room. Llamas!! What will he do?

The story of The Town of Alpaca shows how heartwarming it is when hatred turns into friendship, misunderstandings into trust, and working together works!
You may think that the plot of this book seems like something beyond a child’s understanding, but don’t sell them short; they are smarter than we think, and often we don’t give them enough credit for their savvy. Part of what makes the book unique is that it presents real life issues, simplified enough for a child to understand. Many families have gone through challenging times, but those challenges don’t always wait for children to be old enough to grasp their implications. The story presents a problem and the resolution revolves around healthy values that will remain with them for the rest of their lives. This book is available through outskirtspress.com, amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com, and other online retailers.

As a purchasing alternative, you can browse my website, “It’s All Write”, and purchase it through paypal for less. Use the “Shop” link on the top of the page at https://itsallwrite.net/. Books make great gifts and I would love to share mine with you! And please “Follow” me!

20180901_222202  The Giggle Box picture

 

 

Bloomin’ Thought for the Day: Mum’s the Word

I should have waited until these mums were fully abloom to take my picture because they are beautiful now, but at the time, I guess you could have called them half-mums. I think my family would have been thrilled if I was half-mum sometimes.

Mum was the word, at least in my childhood home it was. “Little children are to be seen and not heard” was the mantra in my house, usually when I tried to insert my own thoughts into an adult conversation. I get it, now. It can be annoying when a youngster insinuates himself or herself into an adult discussion.

The next one is a gem. “SPS”. That, my friends, stood for “self-praise stinks”. Yeah. To be fair, humbleness is not a bad lesson to be taught. In fact, it should be taught, but less harsh means of imparting this value can be found. I know they meant well.

I think many of us have felt silenced as a child, even as an adult. How does feeling silenced affect us? Low self-esteem? Fearful to speak up for ourselves or others? Low guilt threshold? Afraid to try things? Perhaps, but it doesn’t have to be like that. Sometimes we set our sights too high, bite off more than we can chew, or think we’re not good enough at something to try it. When that happens to me, I try to remember a little lesson that I learned during my faith journey: God does not call the empowered, He empowers the called. You may have heard from family or others that you aren’t good enough, but God doesn’t think so.

You may remember that He sent Moses, who stuttered, to free the Israelites from Pharaoh’s rule with his brother Aaron as his spokesperson. Moses tried arguing with God, saying he wasn’t good enough, but God said “Nope. You got this, Moses. You’re The Man.” He sent a young, terrified boy, David, armed with just a sling and a stone, to save the Israelites from the terror of the Philistine giant, Goliath. That’s huge.

We are no different from Moses or David. God had confidence in them even though they couldn’t find it within themselves. He gave them the tools they needed to fulfill their callings. If He helped Moses and David, why would we think He wouldn’t help us? If, at some point, you feel that tug on your heart that is God’s voice calling you to His service, don’t think about past insecurities, just answer the call. God will empower you with the tools you need to do His will. If He leads you to it, He will lead you through it. You got this.

Good Fairies?

Bloomin’ thought for the day:  Who out there, who never read Wikipedia about the origin of fairies, doesn’t love them? I love fairies. They are beautiful, winged, and remind me of angels. I just bought this lovely Sunflower Fairy for my new bulb garden. I’m a child at heart, which is why I gravitate toward writing children’s books. I love fairies, princesses, and happy endings, anything good and pure. My first book “The Giggle Box” had a magical fairy named Giggleina who helped a little boy share his gift of laughter.

Enter the “origin of fairies” research for this blog. Whoa. Now I wish I had either not bought my pretty fairy or not read about the origins. Mythology does not present them as beautiful, sweet, and helpful entities, but as mischievous, even demonic, witchy creatures that were to be feared, and from whom people had to be protected. I scanned the whole Wikipedia article, searching and hoping beyond hope for some glimmer of goodness, but alas, there was none to be found. Come to think of it, Tinkerbell posed a bit of a problem for Peter Pan, didn’t she?

I have since reconciled my horror by reminding myself that fairies are mythical creatures, not real, and, therefore, can be subject to any interpretation I choose to assign them. I choose to have my Sunflower Fairy in the center of my bulb garden as a protector, not a fearsome troublemaker. In the spring she will keep watch as daffodils, tulips, and iris make their way through the thawed soil to bring pleasure to anyone who loves flowers, as I do. Fairies unite and change your stories!