Kitty Cat Memorial Cactus Garden

My dear friend, Leighann, was in town for a few hours last Wednesday.

We met for lunch and some thrift store browsing in Poway before she headed to the coast for a meeting.

Whenever we get together, Leighann brings me the most amazing, thoughtful gifts.  This time was no exception.

Behold the beautiful Kitty Cat Memorial Cactus Garden:

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She assembled it in a gorgeous glazed blue pot.

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She tucked some sea glass and a tiny kitty between the plants.  (Sorry so blurry – hard to get a clear pic of the kitty’s little face.)

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I love this little garden so much.  It’s a perfect addition to our backyard.

More importantly, it’s a fitting tribute to Rusty and Poupon who spent so much time where this pot now sits.

Thank you, my lovely friend!  You always know exactly what to do.

Just outside our front door, there is small patch of dirt that makes my eye twitch.

This tiny patch was once home to a beautiful, licorice-scented heliotrope plant, but ultimately it proved too small to adequately contain such an aggressive shrub.  The heliotrope had zoomed to dishwasher size, was dropping its little purple flowers all over the path, and was mercilessly grabbing our clothes when we walked to the door.  We had to tear it out.  😦

For the last few years, the dirt patch has been basically empty, save for a handful of river rocks.  It never used to bother me, but now I stand in my driveway every afternoon as I wait for my son to come home on the bus and I just can’t help but stare at that stupid, unfinished, neglected chunk of yard.  😦

It’s a problematic spot – not very deep, limited water, and anything we plant there must be trimmed back from the walkway.  There aren’t many plants that can handle such routine and vigorous pruning.

A few weeks ago, I accidentally broke off a piece from a succulent in the backyard.  Impulsively, I shoved it into the dirt in the patch out front.  I wasn’t expecting any miracles, but the succulent survived and even started to grow.  Encouraged, I did it again with another plant.  That one made it too.

Today, I bought a few more succulents and tucked them next to the others.  I also added a bag of rocks we had sitting on the side yard.

Here is the (almost) finished patch:

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This may not seem like much to accomplish, but my eye has stopped twitching.

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What have you been up to?

♥♥

Long Beach Flea Market

I don’t know how often I can come on here and say the same things.

Life is hard.  And easy.  And ugly.  And beautiful.

Life is hard…

because my autistic son needs everything to be a certain way and, despite the good intentions of everyone in my life, very few really understand how insanely difficult it is to parent him.

He seems so incredibly normal – whatever the hell “normal” is.  He is beautiful.  He is smart.  He is talkative and cheerful.  He is happy and animated and very cooperative.  Until he isn’t.

Over the two-week break, he hit me a few times.  😦  He pushed me too.  On one of the days he had a meltdown like I can’t even describe.  He screamed, he broke things.  The usual.

He yells about everything.  “No take the plate to the kitchen!”  “No mama say!”  “No mama singing!”  “No music!”  “No.  No.  No!”

And then there’s the OCD stuff…

He has a thing about the pantry door.  He has to close it a certain way, at a certain time, repeatedly.  He chants his little chants, he swings it shut and pulls it open and swings it shut and pulls it open and swings it shut and pulls it open and SLAMS it closed.  And all of the things that hang from the inside of the door go crashing to the tile below.  LOUD.  LOUD.  LOUD.

And the bathroom door.  He closes and opens it too.  All the time.  Just because.

He writes math problems for himself every night.  He leaves the papers all over the table.  He does this when I am in the pit of the day’s fatigue.  Consequently, his math papers never get picked up.  Our house is an overwhelming wreck.  It depresses me.  I am tired and life is hard.

Life is easy…

because I have three fabulous moms and a good friend who listen to all of it.  Life is easy because husband knows how it is and he’s here everyday seeing it, feeling it, and being in it with me.  And when he isn’t here to make it easier on me, he’s out there to make it easier on me.  He works so that I can take care of our kid.  And our house.  And our laundry.  Our never ending, steaming mountains of laundry.

Life is ugly…

because of stupid, evil, mean people who make me sick with worry for my son…and his future…and the potential dangers that await him.

Life is beautiful…

because the yelling, pushing, screaming, toy throwing little boy is also sweet and kind and funny and he makes up songs about silly things like my jiggly arms.  😀  I love him.

Life is beautiful because I get to see my good friend every few months and we always have a great day together somewhere.  On Sunday, we went to the Long Beach Flea Market and I bought a water fountain.  It’s perfect for our little yard, but it weighs a gazillion pounds.

Life is beautiful because the vendor wanted $75 and we talked him down to $50.

Life is beautiful because my friend carried the dirty top part of the fountain a great distance to my car for me.

Life is beautiful because there is ibuprofen to ease the pain and stupidity of carrying the lower section of the fountain by myself.  Day four and I am still achy breaky.

Life is beautiful because we had a very pleasant lunch at Bono’s Long Beach with the best creme brulee I have ever tasted in my life.  The portion was HUGE and my friend didn’t want any.  🙂  Thank you, silly friend.

Life is beautiful because I also found a book for my brother, a liquid timer for my son, and some Bit-O-Honey candy at Powell’s (best old timey candy store ever) for my husband.

I got these guys for me:

Their bodies are hinged so you can sway their little legs back and forth if you want to.  I know you want to.  🙂

Life is life.

Happy Wednesday!

♥♥

Easter Pix

A week late, but here they are…

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Happy Sunday!

♥♥

Twinkle Twinkle, Tiramisu, and Pretty Flowers

Eight-Year-Old Cinema

The little boy just took the video camera from me and went off to make his own movie.

He has been doing this a lot lately.

It mostly just involves filming the walls up close and singing in the background while occasionally waving his hand in front of the lens.

Sometimes he makes funny noises and laughs at himself.

Sometimes he mumbles scenes from his favorite movies.

But only rarely does he really point the thing in his own direction.

I only hesitated about two seconds before handing him the new camera to use without my supervision.  He just seemed so eager to do it himself, how could I say no?

Yes, maybe he will break it, but it wasn’t that expensive and he’s actually pretty careful.

Who knows?  Maybe he will find his future behind the lens.

Here is a sample of his cinematography skills:

And just in case you prefer to see his face and hear his singing while I hold the camera, here’s Twinkle Twinkle:

Tiramisu

I made tiramisu from this recipe last night.  I was really drawn to it because of the almond extract, one of my favorite dessert flavorings. I also appreciated the omission of raw eggs and rum, neither of which are high on my list of culinary delights.  😕

This is a really good recipe – very easy to assemble – though I recommend finding heartier lady finger cookies than I did.  Mine were VERY dainty and spongey, not at all firm like those in her photos.  They sort of fell apart when I dipped them in the coffee.  I made the best of it, used them anyway, and chilled the assembled dessert for only the minimum six hours before trying it.  It’s delicious!

Thanks to Mom #2 for saving the Food Section for me!

By the way, a quick search produced this very simple lady finger recipe, so maybe that’s the way to go next time.

Photos

I snapped a few pictures in the yard while we were waiting for pizza today.  The little boy has sauce on his face for the close-ups.  😀

Our Julia Child Rose is doing really well.  The yellow flowers are beautiful and cheery, but I love how the older blooms fade to a creamy white.  It almost looks like there are two different flowers on the same plant.

We planted a Charisma Rose a few feet behind it, but it isn’t as happy as Julia.  Our Charisma has that unfortunate white fungus on some of its limbs.  We will snip those off, treat the others somehow and hope for the best.  I think there’s a picture of it in there so you can see how unhappy it looks.  😦

Notice the orange-yellow Hibiscus.  Just this morning, the husband mentioned how pleased he is that the plant is healthy and producing nice flowers again.  An hour later, the little boy hacked off all of the blooms.  😐  Sigh.

A picture of the book I chose from my too-tall pile of options is in there too.  I grabbed it as we were heading out the door to the park this morning.  It was on top of the stack.  I read three chapters without even noticing I’d done it.  So far, it’s good.  I’ll let you know if it holds my interest!

Enjoy the pictures!

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Happy Sunday!

♥♥

Good Job and Some Music

My husband stopped at Home Depot on his way home last night.  He picked up a carton of fireplace logs and a deep pink potted miniature rose.

When he walked into the house, the little boy looked at him and said “A log!  A rose!  Good job!”  Considering where the day began, that made us chuckle.  Smart little boy.

He went to school this morning.  His initial protest was predictable and annoying, but he seemed to snap out of it when I told him I would take him to school in his pajamas if he didn’t put on his clothes.  I guess he figured I was serious.

Clearly, he has developed some sort of social anxiety about being in his jammies outside the house.  That part actually makes me a little sad.  He’s only eight.  Kids should feel comfortable being in their jammies, whatever the scenario.  But he doesn’t, and it’s no surprise.  It’s worth repeating, he’s not like other kids.

Tomorrow starts a four-day weekend.  My swollen eye and I can’t wait.  I need to stay in the house as much as possible.  We have a few things planned, but I can’t really handle the brightness of the sunny skies until my eye gets better.  It’s hard to drive, hard to walk, hard to do anything but just sit still.  My eye is more sensitive to light than usual and today’s chilly air is downright painful.

This afternoon, I was lucky enough to catch up with some friends for a long lunch in a dark restaurant.  Sitting there, with my back to the windows, was the best break my eye has had since the stupid balloon popped on Monday afternoon.  Thank you, friends!

The little boy is home from school and planted at the table with a book of mazes.

He is obsessed with mazes lately.  I spent $25 on three books full of them yesterday and he has already finished the little one.  I don’t quite know what I will do when he finishes the last of them.

He also makes me draw mazes for him.  It exhausts me.  You try it.  It’s not as simple as it sounds.  The maze has to be tricky, but not defeating.  My son is very crafty and sharp-eyed, but he’s still autistic and he frequently displays escalating and sometimes explosive frustration when he can’t figure out a solution to something.  Mazes are a challenge for us both.

There are plenty of mazes on the internet, but my printer doesn’t work right now and I’m not too keen on dropping all my toner on that anyway.  Mazes are sort of ink-laden.

What to do?  More books, I guess.

I remember liking mazes and other brain teasers myself when I was his age.  I wonder how my parents kept my supplies well stocked.  I don’t remember ever doing without them.  Hmmm.

The husband and I are constantly working on crossword puzzles at the dining table.  I guess that’s our grown-up equivalent of what the boy likes.  Maybe there is hope for his interest in reading.  Language is a maze too, isn’t it?

Anyhoo, not sure how much writing I’ll get done over the long weekend, so I’ll catch you back here in a few days.

Happy Thursday!

P.S.  Evil husband tried to plant bad 80’s pop music in my head as we were drifting off to sleep last night.  I countered with Hank Williams and some Donny and Marie.  He sang some Rush and Scorpions and I responded with a Partridge Family tune.  We both got stumped trying to remember the Billy Joel song from Bosom Buddies and then were equally tortured as it seemed the theme to The Greatest American Hero would never escape our addled brains.  Luckily, I remembered this Elvin Bishop song, one of my all time teenage favorites.  I happily drifted off with it spinning in my mind.  (Enjoy that video – there wasn’t anything official, so I figured I’d choose something a little off the wall for you.  😀 )

♥♥

Super Mario Morning

Rain robbed the little boy of his park time yesterday.

This morning, he wouldn’t get off the couch.  I think he knew the fields at school would be muddy and forbidden.  Unfortunately, without recess and a good lap around the track, this boy just isn’t interested in being there.

We shifted gears.

Instead, today is about Super Mario Brothers 3, singing to the computer, wearing jammies, and just staying in.  Oh, and one wet, messy bout with a bottle of bubbles.

He’s content, so how annoyed can I be that my day without plans is still my day without plans?  Not very.  I have the rest of the week for errands and groceries and thrift stores.

Right now, I’m starting to think about lunch and the last chapter of my much neglected book.

And cookies.  We have chocolate chip cookie dough in the freezer.  Just gotta thaw it out.

Jammies.  Cookies.  Super Mario.

On Saturday, husband and I decided to look at roses for our front yard.

It seemed like a good excuse to take the little boy on a trip to Simpson’s Nursery in Jamul.

It’s a pleasant drive and the nursery is worth the thirty minutes to get there.  Simpson’s has a rich history and a commitment to old fashioned business practices.  It also has a famous collection of antique trucks and muscle cars.  I’m not sure why we never looked at them before this visit.  I found the collection very interesting and I don’t know anything about the automotive industry.  I can only assume a true car fan would really enjoy it.

We also poked our heads into all of the other little buildings.  In addition to a large variety of plants, trees, cacti and flowers, Simpson’s sells all kinds of garden furniture, pots, birdhouses, t-shirts, art soil, moss, fertilizer, seed and other items.  There is a lot to look at.

We wandered back to the animal enclosures this time too.

Simpson’s has a llama!

When this llama puts his front legs on top of the fence to honk and snort and look at you, he is very TALL and very purposeful.  I wish there had been a caretaker in the area to tell us a little bit about him.  He really just seemed like he wanted to be friends, but he could just as easily have wanted us to go away.  He was a very compelling fellow, but I’m not hip to llama lingo, so we had to keep our distance.

We did get to pet some pygmy goats, chuckle at some chickens, and watch as a pig shook and snored in his sty, before we headed back out to wander the rows.

It was a beautiful day to walk the grounds, get the little boy some exercise and to make some decisions about what to do in our teeny yard.  We’re going back sometime this week to pick up a Julia Child floribunda. We left without it, but it’s a beautiful rose and now we can’t get it out of our minds.

Simpson’s is a great day trip destination.  If you’re game for good eats afterward, Filippi’s is across the street.  Yummy.  😀

Happy Monday!

P.S.  The little boy just leaned close to the toaster where his cinnamon pop tart was warming away and asked me “does it smell like laughing sugar?”

It occurs to me that this is the perfect name for my cheery little boy who eats nothing but sweets.

He has crazy hair, dirty teeth and a brand new name – a perfect, brand new name.

That’s what I’m calling him from now on…

Laughing Sugar.

♥♥

Springy Sunday

Husband did some work in the backyard this week.

To the delight of my taste buds, he planted a Satsuma Mandarin tree.

Oh please, oh please, let it grow, be healthy, and one day produce an abundance of delicious fruit!

Satsumas are my favorite.  They’re in season right now.  Go get yourself some.

Husband also planted three different raspberry bushes.  Three!  Yummy.

The little boy helped.  Not really.  But he (and his very big feet) played in the water.

and made Daddy blow bubbles…

which he chased and popped…

Rusty helped too.  Not really.  He mostly just hid behind the bird bath, hoping something tasty would scurry by.

It’s warm today, much warmer than it has been in the last few weeks.  It feels like Spring.  Flowers are blooming.

The plum tree is bare, but it’s striking and architectural and seems ready for its little white blossoms again too.

Husband trimmed it a little bit.

The branches are beautiful.

And yes, those are the Christmas lights on the wall in the background.  What can I say?  They’re cheery and I don’t feel like taking them down yet.

Today I remembered that it’s better to wear shoes when you’re taking pictures in the muddy yard.  Poor socks.

That’s about it until I have some time and a little motivation!

Happy Sunday!

P.S.  Look what my friend lent to me.  Snicker snicker.

My days of crushing on Rick Springfield are long over

and I feel kind of silly having this in my house,

but I feel compelled to read it!  😀  Heh heh.

♥♥