Saturday, December 31, 2011

A Tom Waits New Year's Eve - Midnight Lullabye

Surrounded by family and friends and I am doing excellent.


Happy New Year.  I am so grateful to the new and old friends who have passed though my life this year.  Bless you all and may life be good to you!

Arleen

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Quiet Day

Mellow Yellow.
Rainy Season Scraps, Graphics and commentsGrabbed myself a nice cup of tea, and am doing OK.

It's raining out today. Inside, the grandchildren and their parents are busy playing with their new toys and the atmosphere is very mellow. There is no need to rush anywhere, nothing to buy or wrap, nothing to bake. There are enough leftovers in the frig to feed a small country, but we just might order out for pizza anyway. It feels good not to have to think or make any decisions. I have been tired for the past few weeks but today is one for relaxing. I am writing my blog on my new iPad, hubby is watching cat videos on the computer, my son is playing guitar on his iPhone, one granddaughter is reading a book on her Kindle and another is playing a game on her Android.  Who would have thought this would be the scene a few years ago.  It is a brand new world.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Off to the Races.


Charlie Brown Christmas Tree - 18".Opens in a new window

Tree up, house decorated, cookies made, still much more to do, but I am doing OK


Next week at this time, my house will, once again, become a home.  All my children will be here, my grandchildren will be running about, there will be hubbub in the kitchen, music will be playing (unless there is some "game" on) and all the women will look tired.  Let the festivities begin. 

I will be taking a break from blogging for a week or two so that I can spend some time with my family and make merry.  I am looking forward to having them all around me as this only happens once a year.  There will be days when it may be hard to keep my stamina up, but I do love mayhem and noise.  I am just crazy that way. Besides, it keeps the juices going. 

I wish you all the joys of the holiday and  may you all be surrounded by warmth and love. 


Monday, December 12, 2011

A Merry Christmas To Me

Tis the season to be jolly, and I am doing OK

Jim Shore Heartwood Creek...
Everyplace you travel around this time of year, there is music playing. We all get very nostalgic during the holidays and sometimes there is one song above all that touches us deeply. For me it is The Christmas Song by Nat King Cole. It just reminds me about home and my family, many of whom are now gone. There is no sadness as I only remember the fun, laughter, and good times. It's funny how memories have a way of filtering out the negative and centering on the positive. I had a wonderful childhood and was raised by exceptional parents who taught me the meaning of love and compassion. There is no greater gift.

This year a friend sent me a new Christmas song that was written by her brother.  It is called "A Merry Christmas to Me", performed by Danny Mitchell, written by Dan Rodowicz and Phillip Keveren. It's on Danny Mitchell's new Christmas album called "Savior on the Way.  It is just beautiful and evokes the same feeling in me as does The Christmas Song.  It makes me all fuzzy and warm.  Give it a listen, I am sure you will enjoy it. 


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UaLNXL3-wws&sns=em

Oh, that is sweet!  It is nice to have a new song for the holidays.  Now I am going to get myself a cup of tea and one or two newly baked Christmas cookies and spend the rest of the day  "in the  mood".  Heck, I just might get on Amazon and order a few more gifts that people neither want nor need.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Christmas in New York

Enjoying warm weather and doing OK

New York, New York, it's a wonderful town!
There is nothing, and I mean nothing, like New York at Christmas time.  It is MAGIC. Last Wednesday, accompanied by my 10 year old granddaughter, I went on a bus trip (2 1/2 hours) to the Big Apple to see the show at Radio City Music Hall and enjoy some of the sights. There was so much I wanted to share with her, but time was limited, so I decided to curtail our activities to the Rockefeller Center area.  We started off with a visit to the Lego store, then a walk-about to see the Christmas tree that was to be lighted that evening in an celebrity-filled ceremony.  There was hubbub all about and it was fun to watch all the preparations as lighting and props were assembled. We dined in the cafe looking out on to the stage (which is usually a skating rink), and my granddaughter and I delighted in all the activities. 












Next stop was the Top of the Rock, otherwise known as 30 Rock. After a brief movie about the skyscraper, up we went in an elevator to 850 ft above street level. From the observatory, we could look over the whole city and take in all its magnificence.   I have to admit though, I had few butterflies in my stomach looking out at that height.  But it was cool!



 When we got to street level, we were off to look at some of New York's holiday decorated windows. We stopped at Saks and passed by American Girl Store. Well, we did more than pass by the latter, we went inside just to see what it was like. As we entered, we were greeted by a lady with her three children who remarked that my granddaughter, with her long, waist length blond hair and blue eyes was the real American Girl Doll. She looked at her daughters and said that they should have invited their grandmother along so"Bubbe" could buy them AG stuff, which she assumed, I was there to do. I shook my head because I knew that my gd had no interest in dolls and therefore my life savings was not in jeopardy. The store has 4 floors, but by the time we got through half of the first, she was in love. However, that little girl who is not so little any more, told me she just liked the look of them but really did not want one, "Really, really, no Mamama, I don't need one". I will take her at her word.

We had one last stop before the show and it was the famous bakery, Magnolia's.  We bought a dozen of their famous cupcakes to bring home and share with the family.  I never ate one, but I did lick the icing off my fingers when I passed them out when we got home, and the word "heaven" comes to mind.  That lick was probably 2000 calories, and worth every one of them.

I have to say that when we arrived at Radio City Music Hall, I was disappointed.  I grew up in New York, albeit the Bronx and not Manhattan, but I have memories of that great theater and of the wonderful times we had when my parents took us there.  It looked a little shabby to me now and certainly not as elegant as I had remembered.  The lobby was beautiful with it's crystal tree hanging from the ceiling, but if you look at the picture closely, you will notice "Chase" written across the wreath in the background. How sad that today we are bombarded with advertising everyplace we look.  When we got inside, there were no chandeliers like I thought I remembered, but rather a modern, dull, rather ugly stage and facade.  Lights gave the look of snowflakes on the walls, but there also was the word  "Chase" scrawled on both sides.  The day may come soon when "Coke" or "Honda" may be superimposed on Lady Liberty's derriere. 



At four o'clock it was time to head home.  There was already a large crowd gathering at Rockefeller Center for the nights festivities.  By 7 pm, a quarter of a million people would be there.  Leaving early made it very easy to get out of the city, as there was little traffic going that way.  The traffic coming in though was a different story. As much as I would have loved to have stayed in town for a little longer, I was delighted to miss the mob.

Going to the Big Apple in December, awesome; having great weather (in the 60's), outstanding;  spending a day with my granddaughter and showing her the sights I remember, PRICELESS.  My heart overflowed with emotion.


The New York my grandparents, parents and I grew up in years ago.
Oh wait, is that my dad in his Fedora, standing in the park, or waiting for the light to change, yes, yes, I see him.  Oh, he is so handsome!


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

That Time of Year

Tree is up, presents are bought and doing OK.


Christmas humor from the 50's


Or memories of the 70's


And for our politicians of today






Sunday, November 27, 2011

Shot Out of a Cannon


Holidays have started and though a little exhausted, I am doing OK.

Feeding frenzy of the mind.

During this time of year we find ourselves running in so many directions.  Got to do, got to go, got to make everybody happy, got to, got to, got to!  This year, I thought things would be much easier since I am no longer a part of the working world and free time, which used to elude me in the past, is now a big chunk of my life.  This would be the year when things would all get done in a more orderly and stress-free environment.   I would have time to do things at a slower pace, I would enjoy the season and life will be beautiful!  However, what I have found is that this is not my modus operandi. I manage and get so much more accomplished when I have to fit things in, when chaos surrounds me, and deadlines loom. I am at my best when I feel that my energy and brain are about to be placed in a vise and I have to figure my way out of a dilemma.  Dare I say, stress invigorates me.

In this past 11 months though, with little stimulus, I have lived in manana land.   Because there are no time constraints (unless when hubby - Mr. Time - comes home), I have put off many of the things that I was sure I would accomplish.  At night time, I think of what great task I will do the next day, and when tomorrow rolls around, I decide that I will put it off till the next tomorrow.  For many of my plans, that day has has not come around.  However, the holidays are here and I really do have a deadline. I need to make Christmas happy for my family (my own obsession), my wonderful California family will be visiting, and  decisions on what new electronic gadgets I should buy my grandchildren are looming.  To add to this I got a volunteer job last week, that requires me to think, make decisions, and contribute to the good of a community.  I also decided that after a year of failing eyesight, that I would do something about it and it will include a small surgery.  All this now, no manana.  Oh, how glorious these days will be, I will be useful again, I will be back on the treadmill , I will become zombie like.   Yes, I will complain, I will curse the damn tree, I will feel that I need to do more, I will be exhausted.  That is who I am and it feels good to be home again.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Getting The Bird

Cooking and cleaning but I am doing OK

It's just not the same.



Two of my four children are vegetarians. I tried to make this meal one year.  It squeaked when I cut into it and gave me the shudders. 

There will be no tofurky on my menu, but I will make a special vegetable main course for my youngest daughter.  My California daughter and her family, who will not be with us, will probably sit down at their table and enjoy their veggie fowl and all the trimmings.   It's just not for me, I don't like my birds to squish.

Happy Thanksgiving to you all.
Photo: A wild turkey


 He's a beauty!  Now I feel guilty.



Friday, November 18, 2011

Oops!

My brain is turning into playdough, but doing OK



When doing my "10 things about me that you did not know" post, I forgot the second half of the challenge.  I was to pass this on to seven other people so they also can reveal their deepest, darkest secrets.  When I read Austan's post (Austanspace), I noticed that she listed 10 facts,  but for the Versatile Blogger award, you only need 7.  Austan combined two different awards into one, and I followed suit.  This post has been going around for quite a while now so those I might list may have already spilled the beans about themselves.  Also, if you do not wish to do this (what, you have a life?), don't worry  There will be no little leprechauns to take away your first born, a mole will not appear on your nose, and  you will not have to live with guilt for the rest of your life if you do not want to to participate.   All thong stories will be greatly appreciated.

Flying into the Light

Chatty Crone

The Medicare Mom

Brand New Day

coming home to myself

The Musical Gardener

thecontemplativecat

The rules are to write 7 unknown facts about youself (like Austan and I, you can expand upon it to 10, or 50 if you please) and then ask 7 others to do the same.  I am sure with the holidays coming up, you will have plenty of time to do this.

Pass it on!




















Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Me, Myself and I

It's a real November day here, but I am doing OK
Austan of Austanspace  was kind enough to think of me with this Versatile Blogger Award.  Since I have lived a life that some may say rivals that of any of the Kardashians, I want you to be prepared with all your oohs, and aahs.

So here I go with my list of 10 things you might not know about me:      (Sound the trumpets!)

Trumpet

1. My spice cabinet contains seasonings that I have had for over one year, well, maybe two, some might be three, but I am positive they are all less than 10 years old.  When did A&P go out of business?


2.  I have two sizes of clothes in my closets. They are my pre-Weight Watchers and goal weight wardrobes.  I "bounce" between them every two years.


3.  I am an introvert in an extrovert's body.

4.  As a child,  I was a thumb sucker.  I was contented then. When I am older and frail and have been put into a home, I hope they give me a Binky.

5.  I have a love/hate relationship with Christmas.  The love part is having my family around, the hate thing is putting up the damn tree that I have to have perfect.  I keep adjusting things till the day I put it away.

6. I used to be covered in freckles, now my skin doctor refers to them as "maturity spots".   Sounds better than liver spots.  Like the notches on a belt,  my hands are beginning to show the notches of my life.

7.  In the past few years I have grown 2 new breasts, one under my right arm, the other on the left.  The newer ones are definitely perkier than what  the originals have become. 

8.  I love sad, touching movies, especially old ones like Beaches, Fried Green Tomatoes, and  Steel Magnolias. I went through a half a box of tissues watching The Notebook last week. 

9. I am still close to my first friend who I first met at age 3.

10.  Hard to believe, but I have never worn a thong.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Hubby has an iPhone, Lordy, Lordy!

Have lost 12 lbs, and doing OK.

Old dogs can still learn new tricks.

Even though hubby and I were very involved with the computer age of the last few decades of the 20th century, we have been left behind in the ever-changing technology of the past 10 or so years.  There is no time to learn anything, because the day after we buy the latest new gizmo,  they are offering a "new improved model" and then back to the dark ages we go. It has come to the point that I really don't want to learn "the next best thing", I just want to know how to do the small things in life like turning on the TV, answering a phone, or watching a movie at home.   It is a little discouraging to have to ask one of my adolescent grandchildren to help me out, and, at times,  I feel so incompetent that I just blank out.  It's ironic that just as I have come to a point in my life that I want to slow down, the world is going by me at the speed of light.


For my hubby's birthday last week, our children presented him with an iPhone.  At first I thought it was a bad idea to put this contraption into the hands of us who are in a technological fog and can't figure out how to even insert a DVD disk.  However, hubby was very enthusiastic, but all I could think of was listening to his frustration as he tried to answer the phone.  To my surprise, he played with it, picked out his ring tones, figured out how to find out about the weather (old way being - looking out the window), has signed on to iTunes and was looking forward to getting into the "app" world.  He has even made and received calls!!!!  I am proud of him, but that leaves me as the only one in the family who is appless. So I just went ahead and tried hubby's iPhone.  Woweeee, this is way cool!!  It is not hard at all.  Here I thought I was an old fart, out of touch, living in the 90's, but this little phone is fantastic.  I am a convert.  It is time for me to get into this "i" world, so my next adventure will definitely be an iPad.  I think that as long as I don't have to load a disk, use three remotes, choose between video 1, 2, 3, or 4, I will be OK.







 




Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Kindness of Strangers

I am a shameless, bragging grandma, and I am doing OK.


 At the end of summer, my family and some friends went to St. Peter's Village, a 19th century industrial /mining "company" town, where, in many ways, time has stood still. It is a lovely walk-about place that has some great trails and woods to explore.   French Creek, a lovely meandering waterway that borders it, bubbles over the massive granite boulders and is the town's main tourist attraction.  In the summer,  young, coming-of-age boys travel here to prove their manhood (or stupidity) by jumping off the rocks and cliffs into small pools of water.  Yes, it's illegal and very dangerous, but that does not stop the many generations of youth that have come to show off their masculinity and bravery.  Some have paid a terrible price for their recklessness.

As you can see by the picture, this is a very small village, encompassing only four to six tenth of a mile.  However, it has a  lovely inn, a great bakery, a luscious ice cream parlor, a glass blowing store, a winery and some craft shops.  Because of it's out-of-the-way location, it only thrives in the spring, summer and fall. During a nice weekend, the town, although busy but never overcrowded, is a destination point for us. 

On this particular day, we were only going there to partake of the good food and atmosphere of the outdoor dining at the inn. Three of our grandchildren were with us and while the adults hobnobbed with each other, the kids, at their own table, had a great time giggling, playing cards and enjoying the music being played by the restaurant's performer, a young guitarist and vocalist, named Chris Lebresco (http://www.chrislebresco.com) .  Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed one of my granddaughters walk up to Chris and request that he play a specific song. Within a few minutes, this is what we witnessed.

My 10 year old  granddaughter has been teaching herself the guitar for about a year.  She has learned much of what she knows on You Tube.  She has so many talents and we are always in awe of her.  However, what impressed me this day was her confidence in getting up in front of about 50 or so  strangers and putting herself out there.  She took the opportunity and ran with it, smiling the whole way through it. After all my years, I still don't think I could do such a thing.

All of us remember some of those special  kindnesses that are bestowed upon us.  It might not have been a big deal to the benefactor, but for those who receive, it could be monumental and will be remembered forever.  Just a few minutes in your life, a smile, a gesture, a good word, a caring touch,  can impact someone deeply.  This young man,  Chris Lebresco, gave up his time in the spotlight to allow a little girl a moment in the sun.  She was so joyous that day, it will be something she (and I, her teary-eyed grandma) will never forget.

video

Hope this video works

The next Stevie Nicks playing one of her original compositions

Our future guitarist/songwriter is now taking lessons from a music teacher.  We know that she will be a success at whatever she chooses to do in life, not only because of her talents, but because of her brave and beautiful heart.

"There is always one moment in childhood when the door opens and lets the future in."
Graham Greene  




Thursday, November 3, 2011

Hope Springs Eternal

Getting warmer and doing OK


The Spirit Within Us All
The middle-Atlantic and northeast corner of the US had a surprise blizzard last weekend that wreaked havoc all around.  Homes were damaged, power was lost, and people were hurt.   It was not a storm that anyone would have expected to happen in October, but it did. The weather bureau had predicted it a few days earlier, but most of us thought it could not happen.  Snow in October was almost unheard of in Pennsylvania. We anticipated that maybe we would have some flurries, but not an 8 hour scenario.



Sun Impatiens during storm
In these days when negativism prevails and bad news always seems to be in the forefront, we can allow ourselves to buy into a cynical way of thinking.  

 On Saturday, I heard and saw my lovely ornamental Bradford Pears come down, and watched as the white flakes engulfed my remaining flowering plants. On Sunday, I was greeted by the welcome sight of sunshine and warmth.  I found that of the four trees that I thought were completely gone, three of them had only lost large branches and will possibly be OK.  Then I looked around at the plants that had been covered in snow and sleet the day before. They were now standing up straight and many of their their blooms were still there.  Yes, they looked the worst for wear, but they saw the sunshine and came to life.


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After the storm - Beaten up, but still standing!


Birds sing after a storm; why shouldn't people feel as free to delight in whatever remains to them?
Rose Kennedy 

If you want to see the sunshine, you have to weather the storm.
Frank Lane


Where flowers bloom, so does hope.
Eleanor Roosevelt
(also attributed to Lady Bird Johnson)
Down but not out.


Life has its difficult moments, and, at times, can be extremely agonizing, but  how we accept and deal with the negativism and circumstances is up to us.  It can crush us and give us reasons to be hard-hearted or we can try to move on and look for a silver lining. 



Standing strong

The sun will come out tomorrow.

If the most delicate blossom can battle against the storm, so can we all.


Hope springs eternal in the human breast;
Man never Is, but always To be blest:
The soul, uneasy and confin'd from home,
Rests and expatiates in a life to come.
Alexander Pope, An Essay on Man 

Saturday, October 29, 2011

October Surprise

I never expected this, but the weather has been crazy this year.  I am doing OK

Look what the Nor'easter blew in.
At 9 am

At 11 am


At 11:30 am

At 11:45 am

At 12 pm


At 2 pm

At 3:30, sitting by the fire, listening to the sleet and snow on the roof.


At 4 pm


At 4:05, my beautiful Bradford Pear trees down

At 5 pm, making plans to follow the geese down south





At 6 pm, it is still snowing and sleeting.  What happened to Autumn?



Friday, October 28, 2011

Cooking, It Used to Be So Easy

Looking through recipes and doing OK, sort of .

No mojo in the kitchen
Swedish poser.jpg
I am a good hostess, I can set a beautiful table, the wine is always fine, but the food, well, it can be iffy.  There was a time I considered myself quite adept at putting together a very nice meal, and was even  known for some of my dishes.  I loved cook books, searched for new recipes, and often did some tweaking to get it just the way I would like it (meaning spicy).  I was usually confident with what I made. We joined a gourmet club with friends and we would have a theme meal every 6 weeks or so.  It was great fun and we experimented with all types of food.  The cooking part of my life came to a crashing halt when I was unfortunate enough to get a job from hell that required me to be at work many times until 6 or 7 PM.   Hubby, aka, Barbecue Bob, took over the culinary aspect of our lives.  No problem; he enjoyed it and I still had my hands in some meals.  He then anointed himself as King of the Kitchen and again, no problem; it was nice to have that chore taken over. I still did certain dishes and cooked on holidays or when we had company. That job with the late hours only lasted for a year, but  I was able to milk the non-cooking situation for 20 years.

 Now since I have retired, I have taken up the spatula once more.  I do not like any meals that take longer than 15 minutes to prepare and if the cooking time is longer than 45 minutes, my Adult ADD kicks in.   My first meal for hubby after retirement included a simple boxed cheesy scalloped potatoes but I mistakenly threw in some of the cellophane wrapping into the casserole dish.  (See My Retirement, Day 2).  It really added a ,unique touch to the dinner.  I have gradually improved since then,with my specialty being soups.  Everything can be thrown into these and you can't really mess them up.  Put the wrong ingredient into the pot, just give the soup a different name.

We had guests last night and because it was a birthday celebration,  I cooked his favorite dish, lasagna.  The recipe's name was "The Best Ever Lasagna Recipe" and the comments assured me that this would be a winner.  After I assembled it, I realized a little mistake I had made (have not made this dish in years) and although it tasted good, it kind of fell apart.  I'll have to rename that one.

So today I went to Costco.  There in the cold cases were freshly made meals, looking delicious and all you had to do was stick them in the oven.  Included in them was a fabulous looking lasagna. There would be no prepping, no dirty dishes, no cleaning up my mess. This really was the Best Ever Lasagna, as it took no work. I will have to remember this for the next time.  I will just have to figure out how to get it out of the aluminum container and into my dish without messing it up.  However, messing it up may look even more like something I made. 

Well, I am off now to bake some "severed fingers cookies" for my granddaughter's Halloween party.  If they don't work out, I will just call them "severed toes from a Woolly Mammoth".  Who's to know?


Saturday, October 22, 2011

Ma, What Are You Listening to?/ Tom Waits and I, A Musical Love Affair

Singing along with Tom Waits and doing better than OK

Tommy Boy

Yes, I am a Tom Waits fan, a Leonard Cohen Fan and a Ryan Bingham fan.  I love the gravel-voice tone of these artists.  The first song I heard Tom Waits sing was Waltzing Matilda and it grabbed me in my belly and I was a gonner.  He is not every one's cup of tea, nor is he an acquired taste, he is "you like him or hate him" type artist.  My children are of the latter group and cannot understand my passion for this bluesy, honky-tonk man.  I have been criticized for putting on one of his albums in their company, but I don't care, since my taste in music is so much more advanced than theirs. 

I have quite a few of Tom's albums but I thought Closing Time (debut album) was one of his best and would have more appeal to people.  This is the beautiful "Martha", but also on this CD is Rosie, O'l 55, Midnight Lullaby, Looking for the Heart of Saturday Night, and one of my favorites, Old Shoes.   If you put your cursor across the near bottom of the video (at about 10 seconds into it), up will pop more songs (15), and if you will give it a try, you can listen to and get into a Tom Waits moment. 

Want to get down and dirty with the blues, look up Warm Beer, Cold Women  http://youtu.be/tXyuH1yx5g8 .  My oh my, this man moves me.  If I ever smoked (which I haven't), I'd want to light up now.

Someone said of Tom "his songs are like whiskey, and makes the world a little more bearable."  I don't like whiskey or any hard liquor, but I can drink in all his talent.

(OK, I know that 75% of you hated it, and I understand.  Different strokes for different folks, but really, at least try Grapefruit Moon) http://youtu.be/TKQaSZXEK2s

 Sing to me Tommy Baby, sing to me!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Time to Say Goodbye

Somewhat sad, but doing OK.


Stock Photography Image: Hand Pushing Through Binary CodeIt has now officially come to a close.  The chilly, windy weather has arrived. There is no putting it off any longer, I have got to put an end to my summer plants.  Most have held on and done their best to keep blooming and possibly because of all the rain (and not depending on me), have lasted longer than their expected shelf life. They are showing their age now and instead of letting the frost get them, I will be compassionate and put them to sleep in a more dignified manner.  So as I dump them into the compost heap, I say farewell to them all.


Goodbye, Sun Impatiens, you grew to new heights. 

Toodles, begonias, you were mystical in my Zen garden

Hasta la vista fan flower  (Scaevola), you asked so little of me but gave much.

Chau Zinnias, you really brightened up the later part of the season.


Au revoir all you beautiful Hibiscus, you were magnifique!.

Sorry about that Picasso Petunias, you didn't make it though the summer.  I tried my best to keep you around, but like me, you wilted in the blistering hot sun.  I appreciated your splendor while you were here.


Arriverderci, Diamond Frost (Euphorbia).  You were like snow in summer without the miserable elements.


Ah, Knock Out Rose, you will need to be pruned for the winter, and what can I say, you were....., well you know what you were.
Knock out!

It was nice to meet you big green and red plant on my deck,  You will be spared as I am going to put you in my basement and take you out next spring.   Good luck, as I might forget about you every now and then.  It is survival of the fittest down there.  In a few years, that's where I may put hubby.
I have no idea what you are.


To all the other plants I had (who's names have been forgotten) but brightened up my days of summer, Chau.   I will welcome your seedlings back next year.


It is now time for Mums, cabbages and pumpkins.



I'll be back