Cactus & Other Things

About two weeks ago now, I took three Christmas Cactus plants outside and repotted all three of them. I had hope for two of them, after all, being pot bound and all dried out is nothing for a cactus, right? So the two larger plants I repotted, carefully putting some stones in the bottom for proper drainage and I used a combination of Potting Soil and Moo-Poo (Yes it is exactly what it says it is, only composted with dirt and mulch) to re-pot.

The third plant was almost a total loss. In fact, I kind of decided that if it didn’t perk up in a few days I would simply chuck the plant and I would have learned that even cactus need tending. This poor thing was so dried up and pathetic.

Unlike many other cacti, Christmas cacti and their relatives don’t live in arid environments. (So thought I!) Their natural habitat is one of an epiphyte living in tree branches in the rain forests of Brazil! (Brazil?) In other words, they prefer a humid climate, not a dry one, so it’s important to water these cacti more regularly than most succulents. (Who knew?)

20151104_080607The oldest and largest of my Christmas Cactus, before I neglected it. I hope one day it will look like this again.

After doing all the re-potting, I started to bring them back into the house, and then I stopped. After all, it is warm outside and that is the southern side of the house. Perfect for revitalization. Especially since we have had rain almost every day.

After a few days, the first two plants began to perk up! Their color got better and they began to look stronger! I’ve been so excited!

The third plant has been more of a challenge. I watched and watched and two or three times I came close to tossing it in the compost heap. But then a few days ago I checked its base and it was green! Some of the stem segments (called cladodes) have fallen off, but the new ones seem to be growing.

cactusThe two healthy ones are at the top. The one who is still struggling is on the bottom.

Despite not know that a Christmas Cactus was not really a Cactus, it does seem that they can handle a lot of abuse.

Meanwhile, the birds continue to be happy in the yard and I am happily watching them. My favorite is the Downey Woodpecker.

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He is small and so adorable. Some of the other birds try to push him around, but he doesn’t let them.

Ah, nature in all it’s beauty!

Going On

As I sit here this morning, I know in my heart, that I need to go on. I think it is impossible to live life when you cling to sadness.

Yes it hurts, yes you are sad, and yes, you cry at all the sappy commercials on TV. However, there is a difference between passing through grief and getting stuck there.

I chose life.

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So, as I start Tuesday, I start it with a sense of great love for my family and friends, and thankfulness that I am here to share another day.

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Tomorrow we take Anneliese to the Canine Ophthalmologist. The only problem with this is we are due for another walloping snowstorm starting today and going overnight. The good Vet is 59 miles from our home, over some nasty mountainous roads, as we head to Portsmouth and the shoreline of New Hampshire. Jack has said he would drive and if we give ourselves two hours we should be fine, and by the time we come home, the roads will be much better.

I am hoping that Anneliese will simply need more medication. That would be the best case scenario. Next best would be a simple surgical debridement of the ulcer. And worst case, she could lose the eye.

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I am hopeful that Anneliese will heal beautifully and enjoy much better health in the future.

I broke out a historical biography to read last night. “Queen Victoria: Icon of an Era” by Michael Simmons. It’s quite interesting, as I knew almost nothing of her life before Prince Albert, very little about their marriage, save for this great love story, which isn’t exactly how it all started and then all of us know about her senior years as beautifully portrayed by Judi Dench in “Mrs. Brown” and “Victoria and Abdul”.

Inbetween reading this book, I was doing laundry and watching the Westminster Dog Show.

Oh yes, and cooking. I’ve been cooking up a storm, much to Jack’s great approval. Somehow chopping, sauteing and baking a meal brings me great joy.

So this, my friends, is how I am going on.

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Just A Bite

Have you ever considered what you might want to eat in your last days of life? I have always said, chocolate, champagne, and fresh bread with good butter!

I have to tell you, you may think this is how it goes but what I discovered was this. A taste of real comfort food brought so much joy.

I went out to a German Deli in Port Charlotte, Kallis German Butcher Shop, and bought fresh Klosterbrot, a fine German Leberwurst, and a pretzel. I also bought some Leberkäse (a wonderful fine German meatloaf) and Lebkuchen (German Christmas cookies).

I made her a bite of Klosterbrot with a teaspoon of liverwurst on it. A few hours later her sister made Schnitzel and Candy really enjoyed a bit of that. In the morning I made Leberkäse with an egg. She told me over and over how good that was. And she ate a small bite of the pretzel and half of a cookie.

She said how my seafood lasagna was the best thing ever. So Mary and I fixed it up for dinner and she had a few bites, with a smile on her face.

After that, she wanted nothing. She’d had her comfort food and enjoyed it, but that was all.

Mary and I would have cooked anything she wanted, but she just smiled and said, no.

As I sat with her I wondered what I would want if I could only taste a few things. The fresh German bread is definitely on my list. A good Schnitzel for sure. A little piece of eggplant, and a little sip of eggnog with one bite of stollen. It’s a funny list, isn’t it? But those are the things that bring me real joy when I eat them.

Happiness Is Yours

I admit that at times I did cry. I did get caught up in the sadness. And then I would see Candy smile. She managed to find even just a little bit of happiness in each day.

It showed me that even in such sadness, there can still be an amazing joy. One only has to look to find it.

Quietness

I think there are many lessons that we learn along the way in life. We’ve called many of those lessons things that we learned in “The School Of Hard Knocks”.

This is so true. I’ve learned about doing unto others… I’ve learned about karma…I’ve learned that life, no matter how good you believe yourself to be, is not fair. Far from it, at times.

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So, as I sat with my friend, Candy, I was struck dumb at first. I didn’t know what to say except the usual, “I love you”, and I knew that at times like this if you aren’t sure what to say, be quiet.

So there I sat, holding her hand and letting her drift between wakefulness and sleep.

You see, I’m a talker. Ask anyone who knows me. I can carry on long conversations all by myself, while other people sit back amazed at my gift for the gab.

One time when Mandy was a baby, I went to visit my grandmother. I lived with her during my teen years and each day after school I would arrive home in time for tea. I would tell Grandma all about my day and she would smile and listen. As a teen, I thought we had great talks. But on this day, as a new mother, Gram and I sat and I talked and talked, and realized that Gram was sitting there smiling at me.

“What?” I asked her. Suddenly very confused.

“Oh my dear, How I have missed listening to you talk!” she said with a smile.

So, as I sat with Candy, I was amazed that I had nothing to say. You see while driving from Orlando to Port Charlotte, I prayed to God. I asked him to help me do his work and not my own.

That first day, I talked with Candy about getting to her in time, and my great love for her and then I knew I had to let go of any agenda I might have and allow myself to be the comfort to Candy that she needed.

That first night Candy was very restless. She was upset about so many things that in the grand scheme of things she needed to let go of. I listened to her, I offered no solutions. I knew that she just needed to vent.

Her breathing grew labored and out of control as she became more upset. The visiting nurse arrived and seeing her distress he suggested medication to help her relax. She hated that, but since she literally felt like she was drowning, she listened and took the medication.

It did make her relax and later when she began to get upset again, I spoke gently and offered her a short back rub.

That first day I learned that the power of touch is often worth more than all those empty words that we spill out in life.

For a talker, this was life-changing.