Treasures!

This morning, before the wind got too strong to be comfortable, I wandered around my property looking for treasures. The first treasure didn’t take much looking — the red tulip really popped in the sea of green.

This was one of the many tulips I planted my first autumn in this house. None of those tulips had come up making me wonder about my ever becoming a gardener. And yet now, almost three years later, this particular beauty decided to make itself known. As did this grape hyacinth.

Interestingly, an acquaintance stopped by to drop something off, and he was so taken by these jewels in the grass, that he, too, called them “treasures.” But those aren’t the only treasures of the day. There are a couple of double tulips that are still blooming.

and two yellow tulips hold pride of place beneath the lilacs.

Speaking of lilacs, the purple lilacs I planted three years ago are blooming! So lovely!

As are the white lilacs that gleam among those shiny green leaves.

The people I bought the house from had planted some clove currents, and she occasionally asks if they are still here. I can honestly tell her that not only are they still here, but that they are thriving.

So many treasures! And with any luck, this is just the beginning.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of intriguing fiction and insightful works of grief.

Blessed Are They Who Can Laugh at Themselves

I have to laugh at myself. Whenever I write that I think I’m getting the hang of this gardening thing, something happens to make me realize I am a far cry from being a master gardener.

Even one tulip can make a person think they know what they are doing, but the truth is, only the tulip really knows what it is doing. The rest of us are just along for the ride. I am, anyway.

Dealing with grass is a whole other story! (The lawn kind of grass.) I was proud of myself yesterday for finally getting the lawnmower to work and the grass cut, but this morning . . . eek.

The place looks like a kid just gave himself his first haircut, with some patches cut way to short (before I figured the grass was too thick to cut short) and other patches way too long (the edges I haven’t yet gotten around to trimming).

If that weren’t bad enough, I seem to have missed a few spots in the middle, maybe where the wheels matted the grass, and since it was so thick, it couldn’t spring up right away to be cut on the next lap.

Interestingly, I had to pause in writing this blog to go to work, and there I happened to come across a quote: “Blessed are they who can laugh at themselves because they will never cease to be amused.” Isn’t that the truth!

Luckily, not only do I have something to be amused about, and not only will the grass grow again so I can do it right, but I have tulips in my yard.

So, it’s possible, amusement aside, I really might get the hang of this gardening thing. Eventually.

***

What if God decided S/He didn’t like how the world turned out, and turned it over to a development company from the planet Xerxes for re-creation? Would you survive? Could you survive?

A fun book for not-so-fun times.

Click here to buy Bob, The Right Hand of God.

A Promise of Good Things to Come

I had an enjoyable morning, watering my grass, bushes, and other plants. Seeing all the parts of my yard that are greening up made me think that perhaps I can do this gardening thing after all. I can even recognize some of the seedlings, such as the larkspur. Since I let the larkspur go to seed last year, there are large areas that should be covered with purple flowers later this spring.

I was also able to recognize some weeds that are sprouting, such as the wild mustard, which I pulled up. I was going to let it grow a bit thinking it wouldn’t do any harm as long as I didn’t let it flower, but as a neighbor reminded me, if I waited to pull up the mustard, I might pull up the larkspur along with the weed.

A lot of the tulips I planted are coming up, and most even seem to have buds on the way, so perhaps this time I planted them deep enough. A few of the lilies are coming up, too, which is surprising considering that the wrong planting depth was included with the bulbs, so I had to dig up the ones I could find and replant them in deeper holes.

My grass is doing astonishingly well. I have a hunch it’s way to early to mow since we are still way before the last frost, and I’m afraid that cutting the grass too soon would make it vulnerable during those late-season frosts. It’s possible it would do fine, but I don’t want to take a chance.

I wasn’t the only one enjoying my watering time this morning. I set the hose in the back yard, went to move the hose in the front, and when I came back, a robin was enjoying a private shower.

Loath to disturb the creature at its ablutions, I kept the water running in that one area way too long. Even after I went into the house for my camera, even after the robin preened a bit for me, I let the water run.

At one time, I’d considered setting up a birdbath because in a dry climate (and today was especially arid), birds appreciate any water they can find. Unfortunately, standing water is too risky in a place where mosquitoes are so much of a problem.

I always liked the idea of spring, but the reality — all that wind — made spring not one of my favorite seasons. Today, though, I got outside before the wind, so the day was all one expects of the spring — new growth, robins, and a promise of good things to come.

***

What if God decided S/He didn’t like how the world turned out, and turned it over to a development company from the planet Xerxes for re-creation? Would you survive? Could you survive?

A fun book for not-so-fun times.

Click here to buy Bob, The Right Hand of God.

Road Trip

Friends and family who visit Denver don’t make the trek out here to visit me, nor do I go to Denver to see them. The trip is a few miles short of 200 miles, so it seems doable, and yet, oh, my, what a long drive it is! You’d think it would be a nice drive considering that the highway skirts the foothills in spots, but it isn’t.

Oh, there is an occasional lovely view out the window, such as snowy mountain scenes

or the Air Force Academy,

but mostly, there are miles and miles and miles of traffic and housing developments and immense shopping areas full of immense stores. In fact, once we hit I-25, we saw relatively few empty miles. I know the growth shouldn’t have shocked me, because after all, the out-of-control growth is the reason I moved to the western slope and now to the sparsely populated southeastern corner of the state, but signs of unchecked growth still surprised me in certain areas. One town that was practically non-existent when I was young had grown to 10,000 by the time I left the front range and is now up to 80,000 and still growing rapidly. Yikes.

We didn’t have time (nor did I have the inclination) to visit my old neighborhood, but the neighborhood we did go to was reminiscent of areas I was familiar with —

a mansion or two surrounded by a lot of smaller houses.

I was glad to for a chance to walk a bit, stretching my legs, and getting a feel for the neighborhood as we headed to a

for a tasty lunch. (I had a half of a Philly steak sandwich and sweet potato fries) and then we continued back to the car on a roundabout route that took us past a Masonic Temple. (Denver always seemed to be a stronghold for Masons, but that’s just my perception and not necessarily the reality.)

The trip back home took us again through those same three cities, with a stop at the Peterson Air Force Base. Oh, excuse me. Google informs me that it is now the Peterson Space Force Base.

The highlight of the trip, of course, was being able to spend time with my friends, but a close second was being able to see the stars so bright in the dark skies. One of my friends lives outside of town where there is no light pollution, and since there was no moon when we stopped by her place at the end of the trip, those stars sure shone on that black obsidian backdrop!

Although I enjoyed the day, it was so exhausting that I have a hunch it will be a long time before I take another road trip. I do know that I will no longer feel slighted if people don’t make it out here to see me. This really is the back of the beyond, and a long way from where I once lived.

***

What if God decided S/He didn’t like how the world turned out, and turned it over to a development company from the planet Xerxes for re-creation? Would you survive? Could you survive? If you haven’t yet read this book, now is the time to buy since it’s on sale.

Click here to buy Bob, The Right Hand of God.

March Showers Bring March Flowers

I realize April showers are supposed to bring May’s flowers, and with any luck, that will hold true this year, but the showers we had this month brought some much-needed color to my life.

You’d think that the way I photograph these blooms so lovingly that my yard would be carpeted in color, but unfortunately, that is not true.

The flowers are small, at least in comparison to the wide swaths of dirt in which they’ve been planted.

Despite the small size, and the sparse blooms, each flower is a treasure and is loved for itself.

It does tickle me, though, when people tell me they wish they could see my garden, when the truth is, they (and you!) get to see every flower that blooms.

Someday, perhaps, I will have a garden to show off, but for now, I’m just delighted I have any blooms to share on this lovely last day of winter.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of intriguing fiction and insightful works of grief.

Lily Selfies

I’ve been disappointed with my garden lately. On second thought — it’s not the garden that’s disappointing me, it’s the lack of photo opportunities. The plants themselves are doing what they are supposed to be doing. For example, the hollyhocks have stopped blooming and are now going to seed, which is great, because I want those seeds, but the plants are not very pretty. The stalks are brown and scraggly, and the leaves have huge holes where the grasshoppers have been feasting.

Today, however, I was surprised by the lilies. I had forgotten I’d ordered and planted the lilies almost two years ago because only one ever poked its way above ground, but this year, several are growing and a couple of them are even blooming. And wow! Those flowers are big!

I had a hard time photographing the flowers, because they are shy things and hang their heads.

Luckily, I remembered that my phone’s camera has selfie capabilities (the function was easy to forget since I never take selfies), so I put the phone in selfie mode and managed to get a good look at the lilies. Lovely! And such dainty colors.

As I was heading into the house, I happened to see a pairing of flowers that looked so beautiful together that I took that picture too.

I enjoy growing things, but photographing the blooms adds to my enjoyment, so much so that sometimes I wonder if that’s why I like gardening — it gives me a reason to use the camera.

***

What if God decided S/He didn’t like how the world turned out, and turned it over to a development company from the planet Xerxes for re-creation? Would you survive? Could you survive?

A fun book for not-so-fun times.

Click here to buy Bob, The Right Hand of God

The Moral of the Story . . .

I’m feeling a bit disgruntled this morning and fed up with people who don’t show up to work when they say they will, and who don’t even call to cancel. The mechanic was supposed to come get my car and fix the brakes today, but I can’t get hold of him. I did have a hunch that he wouldn’t be here because his shop was closed yesterday. He and his family have been having problems with both The Bob and the vaccine, so that could be the problem. Though I’m only guessing. I’ll call next week and find out what’s going on and make a new appointment. And the worker who was supposed to be here this week to continue the various jobs that have been scheduled has been on again and off again — mostly off. I texted him a little while ago to see what’s going on but haven’t heard back.

Even more disgruntling, the heat is keeping me from working off my frustration, either by walking or working outside. All I did today was water a few things that seem to be desiccating in the heat and take a few photos.

One special pleasure is my friend the toad was basking in the shade today. I startled him yesterday and didn’t want to disturb him by taking a photo, so I was pleased to see him again today. Although he turned his back on me, he did hold still while I took his picture.

I’m especially delighted with the honeysuckle blossom. I planted the seedling last fall, and not only did it survive the winter, but it seems to be thriving.

The hollyhocks are really starting to pop.

The trumpet vines are doing well. They always do, though they die back in the summer and begin anew each spring. If there is a need for full disclosure, I have to admit that I photoshopped out the ants. For some reason they love these blossoms, though I don’t see that they do any damage

I enjoyed seeing the striped gazanias when I was in California, but the only gazania I could find that was suitable for this area was a plain yellow one. Still, it’s cheerful, and even better, it’s a perennial, so it will be interesting to see what it does in the coming months and years.

Another plant that is flowering, even though I bought the starter plant a mere two weeks ago is this dark purple osteospermum. I’d never heard of it before, but the color intrigued me. Oddly, both the gazania and the osteospermum are called “African daisies,” though they are different genera.

I am disappointed at the brief flowering cycle of the prickly pear cactus, but since I didn’t plant them for the flowers, I am grateful for the blossoms that I do have.

This virtual tour of my flowers has helped with the frustration, though it did not help get the jobs done. Luckily, there is always next week. Or the week after.

I suppose the moral of this story, assuming there is a moral, is to enjoy the things that come my way and try not to be frustrated by workers who don’t come my way.

***

What if God decided S/He didn’t like how the world turned out, and turned it over to a development company from the planet Xerxes for re-creation? Would you survive? Could you survive?

A fun book for not-so-fun times.

Click here to buy Bob, The Right Hand of God.

Undead Husband Thrillers

There is a subgenre of thrillers where a woman’s husband dies and then later, sometimes years later, she finds out that he is still alive.

Sometimes the widow is convicted of killing her husband, and when she gets out of prison, she kills him for real. Sometimes the widow killed her husband, and the supposed “sighting” is a hoax to flush her out. Sometimes the husband faked his death. Sometimes it’s the wife and the children who are declared dead, and only later is the husband united with the children, but not the wife.

I think about these stories as I read them, and wonder how I would react if I found out Jeff hadn’t really died. It would be impossible, of course, because I was there when he took his last breath. I even waited a few minutes before I notified anyone. And, I was there when they shrouded his body with a white blanket, covered it with a red plush blanket, and took it out to the mortician’s SUV.

Still, I wonder. What if I hadn’t been there, and they took the body without waiting for me. What if all I had was an urn they said were his ashes? If I had seen him just a few months after his death, maybe even a year or two, I would have been ecstatic. Later, of course, I might have second thoughts as the sense of betrayal set in. If I had seen him five or so years later, my first reaction might be delight, but it would be followed immediately by fury. How dare he let me think he was dead; how dare he abandon me and subject me to years of grief! Still, I’d listen to his explanation, and if it was reasonable enough, I might forgive him, but I don’t think I’d be able to pick up our life where it left off.

Now, if I were to see him, it would be completely different. To be honest, I’m not sure I’d even recognize him. Eleven years is a long time. And if I did, I’m not sure how I’d react. It would seem a betrayal of him — and my grief — not to want him in my life again, but I’m not the same person I was all those years ago. And if he was willing to walk away from me, then he wouldn’t be the person I thought he was.

His story would have to be truly remarkable to get me to believe that he didn’t simply abandon me. What if he did it to save me? He had actually talked about driving away and leaving me when he got too sick; he didn’t want me to spend my life caring for an invalid, and he didn’t want to be cared for. I can see a scenario based on this — he drove off a cliff, survived and was found, though he had no memory. Perhaps the person who found him was able to heal him. And perhaps years later, he remembered who he was but couldn’t find me.

That’s not an unreasonable scenario — there’s no way he’d be able to track me to this town. I haven’t left much of a paper trail. And yet, I still have the same cell number, and he could find me with no trouble on the internet, so he’d be able to contact me. Maybe he found out via this blog that I’d found a modicum of contentment and he didn’t want to disturb my peace.

Come to think of it, this could be an interesting book. So many of the undead husband novels end up with the husband getting dead for real, disappearing again, and — in a very few cases — becoming reconciled with the abandoned wife. But no book that I know of hints at what the reconciled life would be. The only thing similar is one of those stories where a kidnapped child finds his/her way home years later to a not-happily-ever-after ending.

Maybe someday I’ll write the book, but I don’t really want to think about the story. And I won’t until the next time I pick up an undead husband thriller.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator

Red Hat and White Trees

Yesterday while I was taking photos of the fog-frozen trees, a friend snapped my picture. Normally, I don’t like my picture taken when I’m unaware, but I can see why this image intrigued her. I probably would have done the same if our positions were reversed because the contrast between the red hat (actually, red with black polka dots) and the the white background really is stunning.

The trees remained white for several days, and in fact, the frost grew thicker each day. This is odd for the lower elevations of Colorado. Frost tends not to hang around for very long because of the heat of the sun on even the coldest days. But the sun seems to be absent for now.

It’s interesting how people remember things differently. My brother remembers the years in our youth when snow lay on the ground all winter. I remember the year when we didn’t have to wear coats on Christmas because of the heat, but had to bundle up at Easter because of the snow. Mostly, though, I don’t remember much about the weather back then; the only reason I remember the year of the sun at Christmas and the snow at Easter is because I remember telling someone that’s what I liked about Colorado — the contrary weather.

Well, I am certainly getting contrary weather this year! Colorado advertises itself as a place that gets more than 300 days of sunshine a year, but this year (or this month, anyway) it’s fooling us with one dreary day — one dreary cold day — following another.

People did warn me at the beginning of this winter that February was the coldest month. (Where Jeff and I lived on the western slope, December or January were the coldest.) And yep. Here we are! At least, I hope this is the coldest month. By this weekend, we’ll be lucky to get above zero. Brrr!

I’m still hoping by next year, I’ll be more acclimated to the winters, but for now, I’m mostly staying inside, going out only when necessary. And when I do go out, as you can see from the photo, I bundle up.

***

What if God decided S/He didn’t like how the world turned out, and turned it over to a development company from the planet Xerxes for re-creation? Would you survive? Could you survive?

Click here to buy Bob, The Right Hand of God

Did the Macaw Survive?

Someone wrote to me yesterday and said that Bob, The Right Hand of God was a cool book, but he felt bad about Rosemary and the scarlet macaw. Especially the macaw.

There really is no other interpretation of Rosemary’s fate than the one presented in the book, but I thought the macaw had a different end. Looking back, nowhere in the book does it say unequivocally what actually happened to the poor bird, though I had thought it’s fate could be assumed.

Apparently not.

I suppose it depends on if one believes what Bob says, and if one thought there were a stable environment where the bird could be sent, and if Bob were honorable enough to help the poor thing survive. All things that are debatable.

Now I’m curious. Do you think the macaw survived?

None of this, so far, spoils the story since these events took place toward the beginning of the book, so if you respond, I’d appreciate your not mentioning anything that might give away the story.

The book calls out for a sequel, the story of the next generation if nothing else, and your response would help me figure out if (a big if!) I were to write a sequel, whether I should include a mention of the bird or leave the poor thing to its ambiguous fate.

***

“I am Bob, the Right Hand of God. As part of the galactic renewal program, God has accepted an offer from a development company on the planet Xerxes to turn Earth into a theme park. Not even God can stop progress, but to tell the truth, He’s glad of the change. He’s never been satisfied with Earth. For one thing, there are too many humans on it. He’s decided to eliminate anyone who isn’t nice, and because He’s God, He knows who you are; you can’t talk your way out of it as you humans normally do.”

Click here to buy Bob, The Right Hand of God