Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Summer, Smoke, Soil and a Silly Kitten

It has been smokey here lately. I mean SMOKEY!!! Like... you can barely make it from the front door of the house to the car kind of smokey. Clothes smell like you just finished singing camp songs and eating s'mores. In the 31 years I have lived here, I don't ever remember it being like this. The fires continue to blaze.  Every few days we get a reprieve when it rains. But it's a mixed blessing because with the rain comes lightening... and then more fires.

During one of the days this past week when the air was clear, Isabel and I finally planted our vegetable garden. We have a nice fine tomato plant with two pepper plants on each side. Next to them are cantaloupe, cucumbers and squash. Protecting all of them from insects are a couple of marigolds.

It is a small garden. But it is ours. And we love it...especially because it is our first.

The back yard is really filling out: the crepe myrtles are blooming nicely. [You can see a couple of photos above and below.] The ligustrum is now over ten feet tall and the plumbago, butterfly weed, and four o'clocks add a punch of color and fragrance. The last of the jasmine blooms are tenaciously hanging on to the branches. We have roses, lilies, daisies and sunflowers blossoming. I just bought a scarlet mandevilla and a glorious peach-lavender-rose colored bouganvilla to plant in huge containers and train up the posts of the pergola.

We love our yard. Or, as one sweet friend referred to it, our secret garden. We love entertaining back there. IN one corner, there is a nice swing and dining area under the shady pergola. In another corner there is a relaxing hammock under the shade of our huge pecan tree. It's easy to slip away into a  peaceful nap out there. The branches of the tree canopy are filled with birds and squirrels.  It's our wonderful escape. One we like to share with company.

And so it was fun this past week when we were able to entertain guests a couple of times. Two sweet friends drove up from south Florida to attend Isabel's pre-K graduation. Isabel adores them both... as do I! We had a wonderful time enjoying each other's company. They are like family and the mom has been part of Isabel's life even before she came home from China. How blessed I am to have such great friends.

Yesterday, I got a treat when the mom of the two happened to be driving with friends back to south Florida from Georgia. I was able to convince them to drop by for a visit and we had a blast. Great women! I look forward to seeing them again on our next jaunt down south.

And so, with them gone and Isabel at camp, I am here with Lulu and Lilly. You might ask: Who is Lilly?

Well...during the last week of school, one of my students showed up at my classroom with a tiny kitten. I'm talking 5-6 weeks old. Her eyes were still blue. She looked just like our Lulu did when she was a kitten. I was smitten with the kitten. (Did I mention that I am a sucker for cats?) It has seemed really strange to have only one cat for this past year since Buddy died. (For the previous 17 years, I had always had two cats.) So, getting another cat was in the back of my mind. I ended up bringing her home and Isabel promptly named her Lilly. (Though for the last couple of days, she has decided she would like to change her name to Love. Huh???)

[WARNING: Some major wild eyebrow and whisker action ahead! View at own risk.]

It has been really interesting watching Isabel with Lilly. The last time we had a kitten was when we got Lulu (and Isabel was not yet two years old.) Back then she just chased the kitten around the house and enticed it with ribbons. This time, she wraps it in her little baby blanket and talks to it. Amazingly, Lilly doesn't mind. In fact, I usually find her snuggled in Isabel's lap. Which is nice. Since Lulu (the former traumatized kitten) is not that affectionate of a cat. (Perhaps some counseling could help?) She spends most of her days and nights avoiding Lilly. She still hisses at her. But not as much. They actually can be on the same bed together now. As long as Lilly doesn't get too close.

I understand. Change is never easy.

For now,  I fill my days relaxing, planning for the next school year, doing projects around the house...(quick question: should I hire someone to pressure wash or just rent the dang machine at 1/3 of the price and do it myself???) and continuing to work daily on my photography. It's nice to just be.

And you. What are you doing for the summer?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Exciting Things Happening!

I know, I know.
Where have I been?
Well, the mystery has been solved. I have been making one of my dreams come true: starting a photography business. After a year and a half of slowly building a portfolio and client base, I am excited to announce that my photography business is in full swing. I had two amazing women design my new logo and my new blog. You can check them out here.