Sweet Spring Weekend

My granddaughter came to stay the weekend with me.  We played with sidewalk chalk, blew bubbles, gardened, and played in the sprinkler. (Well, she did..not me.)

That kiddo just loves being out in the backyard garden.   I guess it must run in the family, since my late mom was an expert gardener.  That lady knew EVERYthing there was to know about planting, pruning and everything in between.   I love to garden, too…although my thumb was never as green as my mom’s…it’s still one of my favorite things to do.  And I think the grandbaby enjoys it, too.  Especially the watering part on a hot spring day:

He great-grandmother would have been so proud of her!

He great-grandmother would have been so proud of her!

Now, after watering the plants, it doesn’t hurt to get a little watering yourself:

She stayed busy, for sure!

Old school backyard fun: The sprinkler!

Gee…does anyone have their kids play in the sprinkler anymore?  Back in the day, it was one of the best ways to cool off on a hot day…aside from opening a fire hydrant.

Anyway, the sun was really hot, and the little wading pool I have for K was still put away in the garage, so I hooked up the sprinkler, and she had a blast!

The simple things often turn out to be the most fun things of all.

Back to the Blog.

Yep.  Back again.  I can’t believe it’s been almost a year since I posted anything here, but I’ve been so occupied with life & stuff, that I haven’t had time to sit down and write.

This past year was kind of awful; my mom was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in September of 2012, and died 7 months later, in early April of this year. She was 92, and since the tumor was inoperable, decided to fore-go any chemo or radiation.  Her GI doctor, who is a wonderful, caring man, told me: “If she was my mother, I wouldn’t recommend chemo; at her age it would probably kill her. She’d be terribly sick, vomiting, etc. We are looking at quality of life here, rather than quantity.”

My mom and I both agreed with that.  So, she did all her usual activities through the fall and early winter, until she became too weak ( from the weight loss) to do much of anything.  Since she had always lived with me, I, along with my daughter (pictured below), was able to care for her until the end.  We didn’t have to call hospice until about a week before her death.  My brother flew in from Australia and spent a month with us, and so was there for her, too.

I’ll leave out the sad details.  She died peacefully with very little pain, in her own home, and with her children by her side.

The end of an era, for sure.

My mom with her great-granddaughter in March of 2010

My mom with her great-granddaughter in March of 2010


Nearly 3 years later: Mom with her granddaughter and great-granddaughter. Dec. 2012.

Garden update

Everyday it seems my flowers look more beautiful.  The temperature here in Chicago and its environs has been extremely hot, (103 degrees yesterday) so I’ve been watering a bit at night.  Everything has been doing well, especially the nasturtiums.  They like the heat, and those big, flat round leaves are perfect for soaking up the sun, and the water, too!

Love the way the sun shines through those drops.

They’ve already started blossoming.  The orange ones always seem to bud & blossom first:

No saturation adjustment here…they really ARE that bright!

They look so beautiful after a quick shower….

You can click the photos for a closer view.  But, enough with the nasturtiums already!  It seems the leaf-cutter bees are almost finished nesting.

They’ve begun to leave the vincas alone…

Adios, little bees!

So, that’s it for now.  I can’t wait until my cosmos (those fern-y plants at the top of the photo above) bloom.

I’ll be snapping pics left & right when that happens!

Early summer garden.

Summer has arrived!  And I’ve finally gotten around to planting a garden again.  I had forgotten how much I  love germinating seeds, perusing the local nurseries, digging around in the dirt.

I haven’t planted a “real” garden for a couple of years, but when my guy started obsessing over our horrendous lawn, I decided to occupy myself with the floral end of things.

So, in mid-May, off to the nursery we went.   He bought lawn soil & grass seed, I bought flats of marigolds, vinca , petunias, verbena and dianthus.  I also bought a few packs of seeds: nasturtium, morning glory, moon flower, cosmos and a wildflower mix.

I germinated the nasturtium & moon flower  seeds to give them a head start, and threw the cosmos, morning glory & wildflower seeds in the ground and hoped for the best.

A month later, here’s whats “growing” on!

Cosmos in the back, vinca, pinks, verbena & marigolds!

It’s getting there!

Yes, yes..I know my foundation is cracking.  Yet another money- pit project to be started…after the flowers have gone…

Leaf- cutter bees need your flowers!

I freaked out when I first noticed that something was eating my flowers!  So, I googled: “What is eating my vinca flowers?” and of course, I found the answer on Garden Web.  What a great site for gardeners!  I read about how leaf-cutter bees cut perfect circles from leaves and flower petals to line their nests. After the nests are done, they leave the flowers alone, so I figured it’s no big deal, I could spare a few petals for the baby bees.  Leaf-cutter bees are also great pollinators, so they do a garden good!  I LOVE Garden Web so much, I registered & became a member!

My front porch. I love having my coffee here on weekend mornings.

See that pot on the pillar above?  In it are the most unusual petunias I’ve ever seen.  They’re called “Phantom” Petunias.  Here’s a closer look:

When I saw these at the nursery, I snapped them right up!

Here’s a macro for ya!

Wow. They look black from a distance, but are actually a deep, deep plum.

My guy presented me with a huge ceramic container for my porch landing, so I had to fill the damn thing up. I planted coral bells, strawberry punch bells, some kind of daisy thing (ok, I can’t remember the name right now), and of course, threw some nasturtium seeds in for good measure.

Looking good!

And now, for my very favorite nasturtiums.  I have always loved these flowers.  The seeds are huge, and so easy to germinate: Wet a coffee filter, wrap the seeds in it, place in a ziplock bag, put in a dark closet or pantry.  Check back in a week or so, and the seeds will have sprouted.  Plant about a half inch deep, and this is what you get:

Along the side of the house. They have always grown beautifully in this spot.

Yesterday, I got my very first nasturtium flower buds.  That was fast!

Two buds hiding under the leaves.

Before I left for work yesterday morning, I gave the flowers a little drink.  Here’s a close up:

Oh, so beautiful!

Oh. I’ve been having a lovely time with my little garden.  I’ll be taking more pics as the summer wears on. Hopefully I’ll have some more beauties to post!

Pharmacy Visitor

The other day, whilst hanging around the back of the OPP (OutPatientPharmacy), yet another shipment arrived.

Now, we get shipments every day..of supplies, drugs, boxes (for packing up drugs to be mailed to our patients who don’t want to venture into the pharmacy & stand in line…), sterile water, barium, etc., etc…..

Yep, it’s pretty busy back there, so we’re pretty jaded about our deliveries: “Oh, another huge box of glycerin suppositories?  Just put them over there, next to the vinyl gloves and catheters. *yawn*”.

But THIS time, a little visitor came along for the ride:

Well, hello there!


It looks huge in this pic, right?  It wasn’t.  It’s just my extreme close-up. Here’s the uncropped version with the box for perspective:

That’s a little better. I think.

One of the girls in the back at the time of this shipment yelled: “OMIGOD! There’s a neon green spider on this box!!!”   We all went over to look.  “Is it poisonous? Where did it come from? Why is it HERE????””  These were just some of the questions we were all asking.  After a few minutes of gawking at this little guy, we all went back to work, and the neon green visitor was forgotten.  But, intrepid amateur cell phone photog that I am, I snapped a picture for future ref.

One of my fellow techs asked me what I was going to do with the pic, and I told her I was going to find out what kind of spider it was. How?  Why, the internet, of course!

When I got home, I logged on and searched google images for “neon green spider with long front legs”. After some misses, I finally got a hit:

Looks the same to me!


I found this pic on the blackoaknaturalist blog. It’s a Goldenrod Crab Spider.  I found some more info on crab spiders from Rick Steinau’s “Ask the Exterminator” site.

Are they poisonous?  Here’s what Rick says:

Crab spiders can bite, yet never seek out humans. They will run from people or drop off of flower petals to avoid us. Their bite is not dangerous to people, and is not particularly painful, but they should not be picked up with bare hands. If you find one indoors the best way to get rid of it is to place a cup over it, slide a piece of paper under the cup and move the spider outdoors.

More info about these interesting little guys on Rick’s site…click the link above if you have a need to know.

Anyway, I went back to work armed with this info.  No, the spider isn’t poisonous. No, it didn’t come from some strange foreign land.  It probably hitched a ride from some local garden.  What ever happened to it?  We don’t know.  Perhaps it’s chilling in a corner somewhere, munching on Frito crumbs and pill dust? Perhaps.  I thought it was pretty cute, though, and I’m hoping it doesn’t get attacked by the gigantic cockroaches that often come to visit.

Yes, I know.  What are giant cockroaches doing in a HOSPITAL?  Well, the hospital is 100 years old.  It’s kind of falling apart.  All people from all walks of life pop in and out, so you KNOW a roach or two (or three, or 20) might come along for the ride.  As a matter of fact, about a week before we saw our little crab spider, one of the techs screamed and jumped onto a step-stool to escape a visiting cockroach.  Oh, silly girl.  A  little bitty cockroach can’t hurt you!

Well, think again!  This roach was gigantic. Around two inches long….waving his creepy antennae at us.  What did we do?  We sprayed his ass with alcohol (it’s what we had handy),  slapped a huge wad of paper towels on him and threw him in the trash.  (No one wanted to carry him out of the pharmacy and down the hall to the bathroom to flush him away).

All morning, until the maintenance guy came to change the trash, assorted techs would take a peek into the trash can to make sure the roach wasn’t trying to crawl up and out.  Yes, the trash bin has a cover, but fear makes you think strange thoughts. We were all hoping that if the alcohol didn’t kill him, it might have made him to woozy to even bother trying to escape.   Later that morning, the trash was removed, and with it, the giant roach.  The Orkin roach commercial kind of had the scale right:


Ok, ok. Maybe not THAT big.  But close.

Just another day in the O.P.P.





Fashion Victims on the Bus.

As you may know, I take two buses to work.  Not because I am environmentally correct (well, I kind of am…), but because I can’t afford a car. Still.  Yes, dee-vorce can really take a toll on your wallet, folks.  But it’s ok.  I am privy to many weird sights and sounds (and smells, unfortunately) on my travels to & from work.

Recently, I’ve been taking note of some odd fashion choices made by my fellow commuters.  Some are observed whilst waiting for the bus,  but most are observed while riding said bus.  Let’s have a look, shall we?

First up is the sock lady.  She wears some very unfortunate looking shorts most of the time, but pairs them with some stunning socks:

What can I say? Those are some stunning socks…

This must be the choice for the warmer weather.

She speaks very little English and smiles a lot.  At times she wears huge fake flowers in her hair, but I’ve yet to capture that on film.


Next up is the purple lady.  Every item of clothing she owns is purple, as are her accessories:

Purple coat, shoes, hairband. Her bag is a deep grape color, too.

Here she is, actually ON the bus this time.

Another day, another purple outfit…

(Please excuse the blurriness and bad lighting..it’s pretty hard to take surreptitious cell phone pics on a bouncing bus.)


Ok.  Here we have a case of matching your nail polish to your sweatshirt:

It’s almost a perfect match!


Here’s proof that steel-toed boots really DO have steel toes:

I think it’s time for a new pair.


And I just HAD to get a pic of this lady’s leggings.  It looks like her legs are made of butter.

“I can’t believe it’s not butter!”


And, last but not least…the troll lady:

The coat. Leopard or cheetah? I can’t decide.

I blurred her face to protect her identity, but if you could see it, you’d be surprised to see that she must be in her 60’s.  And, she may be a fashion victim, but she’s got some moxie for sure.  You can’t really see it here, but the tips of her hair are dyed black, so it goes with the leopard theme.  She usually dresses in Victoria’s Secret ‘Pink’ sweats.  She loves glitz, huge tote bags, her blinged-out iPhone, and loads of jewelry. She has quite a few tattoos ( she likes to show them off in the spring & summer) and she has a nose stud, too. Lately, she has taken to walking with a cane.  (You can see it on the left in the photo.  It’s pink.)  I figure she must have back probs in part due to the absolutely enormous tote bags (2-3 at a time) she carries with her.  I know, I know.  It’s not nice to call her the troll lady, but it’s what came to mind the very first time I ever saw her, which was about 4 years ago. She’s so tiny and wizened, that it just fit.  I suppose if I’d seen her wearing a red hat, I might have called her the gnome lady, but alas, she never wears hats. *sigh*

So, yeah.  That’s what I do to amuse myself on the commute to the hell-hole (my job).  Most of the time, I can’t get my cell phone out fast enough to capture the unusual.  And when I do, I have to be all casual and nonchalant about it, and look as if I’m not trying to take a pic while trying to take a pic.

I suppose I should just mind my own biz on the bus and read a book.

But where’s the fun in that?




Beer for Babies!

Not that I condone this. At all. Beer is actually for ME!

Being in the pharmacy biz, I sometimes come across strange, funny ads for things like instantaneous breast enhancement via chewing gum, (yep..you can see it here), or cryptic, suggestive  and unintentionally (?) hilarious ads for “male enhancement” like this.  The ‘net is chock full of stuff like this.  I admit, I sometimes go on a specific search for this silliness and then add to my “Random Pharmaceutical Weirdness” page.

This time, I wanted something a little different, so I searched for “old school pharmaceutical ads”, and this is what I got.  These are some of the weird, and just a wee bit scary, ads I came across. 

So….come with me, and let’s take a trip back in time…to the days when ignorance was bliss, and beer was for babies!!

The ad says “a case of beer”.  That’s it?

"Can I have some pretzels with that milk?"

Topical cocaine.  And idea who’s time has come.  And gone!

I'm having a root canal soon. I think these would help. A lot!

9Would this be considered an oxymoron?

Yep, you wouldn't want your 5 year old lighting up one of these. Maybe your 7 year old, but not the 5 year old. No way.

I am sometimes a victim of  “oversitting”…

Otherwise known as "black beauties". Just good, old fashioned speed, folks!

What goes up, must come down…

'Ludes. Not just for breakfast any more.


Tighten your obesity belt…..

No muffin-top here!

And have a cup of  laxative tea!

"Now where did I put that obesity belt?"

Or….you could just take the easy way out and swallow a tapeworm.
A tapeworm.
Sanitized, of course.

"Easy to swallow" No. Please. Just...NO!

Moving on…(and composing myself after the  above ↑)

What the active ingredient in Nervine was, we may never know. But I could have used it when MY kids were little!

Mary, you disturb me.

Ah, yes. What an innocent, naive time it was back in the day:  When tapeworms were for swallowing (on purpose), cocaine was over the counter, cigarettes were for asthma, and beer was for babies.   Old school pharmaceutical weirdness.  Kind of scary, really.

Especially the tapeworm part. 

(I am so glad I live in the 21st century.)