Sunday, April 30, 2017

Zen Moments

Sometimes simplicity is best and easy.  Best, yes; easy no.  The more I think about simplicity, the more elusive it is.  It is the same with finding time and a quiet place:  they are elusive, but we need it.

 I will leave this April Challenge for this year with the simple wisdom and simplicity (sophistication) of the Zen Master himself:  Thich Nhat Hanh.

Breathing in, I know this is my in-breath.
Breathing out, I know this is my out-breath.
Breathing in, I'm aware of my eyes.
Breathing out, I smile at my eyes.
Breathing in, I'm aware of my whole body.
Breathing out, I release the pain in my body.

In, out
Deep, slow
Calm, ease
Smile, release
Present moment, wonderful moment


Go in Peace and Harmony
Enjoy the Summer

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Yellow in the Garden

I have a few Cassia bushes planted at each side of the yard.  The green leaves and the flowers slowly die down in the late fall/early winter.  They stay green during the summer but come fall, the blooms explode in yellow.  Boom!  It's like a touch of sunshine.

There are small delicately yellow green butterflies hanging around the Cassia bushes and their flowers.  The butterflies are like children playing.  They chase each other and they circle each other.  They seem to enjoy the yellow flowers and each other.

When the Lantana bushes are blooming which seems to be most of the year, they are orange yellow.  The monarch butterflies favor the Lantana.  Perhaps it's because they are similar in colors.

It's a good idea to trim the Lantana bushes or they have a tendency to become woody and leggy.

Finally, I have the yellow squash flower.  The squash requires much room to grow and spread.  The squash is a good flower producer and that will attract pollinators, hopefully bees, if they are in the neighborhood.

Unfortunately, the squash suffer from bloom end rot which is a calcium deficiency.  This could be prevented by using fertilizer with calcium and used on the plants before they bloom.

It is apparent that I do need more yellow in the yard and garden.

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Friday, April 28, 2017

Exercise and Relax

During my recovery from drop foot, effecting both of my feet, my physical therapist emphasized relaxation after each completed set of exercise.  "Relax," he said, "focus and be mindful of what you are doing."

The exercises were simple and easy.  They consisted of mindfully moving my feet forward, backward, and sideways.  Relax.

The exercises also consisted of "kicking my butt."  When I first attempted to do this, it was difficult.  "Relax," he said, "and do it again."  He also told me that what I did to one foot, I should do it to the other.

These simple exercises strengthen the muscles.  Exercise and relax.  The muscles remember.

Relaxation is the art of letting go.--Dan Brule

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Thursday, April 27, 2017


Walking is the best medicine you can give your heart and your body said my husband's cardiologist.  Move the body.  Walking is a full body exercise.  Walking is healing.

I also heard on the news that some doctors are prescribing walking and it's always been known that an apple a day keeps the doctor away.

During my recent convalescence, I made sure that I walked, not just a few lapses between a comfortable couch in the den and to the bedroom.  I walked up and down the drive way with the roller walker and wearing my braces for my feet.

I was afraid that if I did not walk, I would develop blood clots that would travel more than I and cause more damage.  Even with the Mother of all Boots, I try to keep moving.

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Wednesday, April 26, 2017


There has been a time or two when I have rushed into the local liquor store at ten o'clock in the morning to buy the smallest, sweetest, and least expensive bottle of brandy.  I explained to the clerk that I was making peach jam.

I have never bought Absolut Vodka.  The price has deterred me and I have never had the taste for it.  Actually, I don't know what to do with it.

But this has not stopped me from admiring the advertisements for this particular brand of Vodka.  I found the ads to be extremely creative and even funny.

The bottles of this brand of Vodka are plain, yet sophisticated, distinctive, and immediately recognizable on the shelves or in the ads.  I also admire the imagination of the makers of the Vodka.  What will they come up with next?

I don't particular like cilantro either; consequently, I won't be rushing out to the local liquor store to buy a pint of Vodka.  Not today, any way.


Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The Ugly and the Unwanted

The ugly and the unwanted may just as well be an essay on the human condition but that is too deep and too philosophical, not to mention judgmental, for me to write about in this April Challenge for bloggers that I am sort of side stepping any way.

I really had to scratch my hairless head for the letter U.  But since spring is in full swing, there are those ugly and unwanted critters that are awakening and will visit the garden to nibble on new and vulnerable plants and seedlings.

To do least harm to the environment, I found a recipe "to clobber bugs and thugs" in the early spring garden.  I hope Jerry Baker doesn't mind me sharing his tonic from his book Backyard  Problem Solver.

Mix the following ingredients together and put in a handheld sprayer:

3 tbs baking soda
2 tbs Murphy's Oil Soap
2 tbs canola oil
2 tbs vinegar
2 gal warm water

It is important that the plants be well sprayed, the underside of the leaves too, until they are dripping wet.  This may have to be repeated a few times.

It is also important to catch the ugly and the unwanted bugs and thugs early in the spring before they have a chance to do too much harm.

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Monday, April 24, 2017

Thank You

I want to take this opportunity to thank you all for reading my blog and making comments.  Thank you for supporting the April Blogging Challenge for this year.  It has actually been fun and interesting for me; no pressure.  It has also been therapeutic for me to write my blog journal.
Thank You!

Enjoy e.e.cummings poem:

i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and  a blue true dream of sky;and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

I am also adding a saying by Dag Hammarskjold:

For  all that has been,
Thank you.
For all that is to come,
Thank you.

Another profound saying by Dag Hammarskjold:

The longest journey is the journey inward.

Thank you for reading my blog.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

She Shed

I have spent many happy hours modifying and outfitting a 16X10 ft.barn shaped she shed. So far, the shed is taking shape and form on paper only.  I was so inspired by John Muir who wrote that "Between every two pines is a doorway to a new world" that I have selected a location among a few cedar trees for my she shed.

When I enter my imaginary shed from the west, I will see a blue IKEA Futon on the opposite side. On the wall above the Futon, I plan to hang photographs of Evelyn Roses from my yard.

To make reaching the Futon under the loft more romantic, I will have to enter through lacy IKEA Alpine curtains.  Then lounge on the Futon and have  glass of chilled Chardonnay.
This is as far as I have gotten on my plans for my own (and granddaughter's) she shed.

The shed to the right houses our tractor, lawn mower, and trimmers as well as the garden supplies.  My shed will be placed in front of it and it will be painted in the same colors.

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Friday, April 21, 2017


During my last stay in the hospital. I was wearing street clothes and lipstick.  I wasn't hooked up to any fluids; I could eat and enjoy their surprisingly good food.  I wasn't sick:  I just couldn't walk.

A physical therapist showed me how to use a walker without wheels and he approved of how I handled the walker with wheels. Most of my days were spent testing and on Saturday afternoon, I was outfitted with braces for my feet and legs.

Then there was talk about putting me into a live-in rehabilitation where I could receive physical therapy daily and on a regular basis.  Initially, I thought that it was a good idea, but the insurance company had to approve.

While waiting for the insurance company's blessing, I really started to think about this prospect.  What are they going to do to me in rehab?  Why can't rehab come to me?  I would be satisfied if a physical therapist came to my home, worked with me, and showed me how to exercise my legs and feet.

I  began to protest:  I don't want to go to rehab!  I don't want to sit in the hospital and wait.  I want to go home to familiar surroundings.  If I could, I would bolt.

I don't want to go to rehab!  I want to go home.  Now!

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Thursday, April 20, 2017

Quiet Time

This is precious time that is difficult to find.  There is the television reporting on murder and mayhem; robo calls, and people knocking on your door offering to replace your roof, windows, or cut down your trees for a price.  Give me a break:  leave me alone.

I find quiet time in my garden, weather permitting.  I usually take my cup of hazelnut coffee with me when I go out for an inspection tour.  Most often, I start by pulling one tuft of weed and then another.  Before I know it, I am down on my knees, creeping and crawling along the plants, weeding.

When I pause to take a sip of now tepid coffee, I hear the kindergarten kids from across the field squealing with delight.  Their voices carry on the wind.

Quiet time is indeed elusive but a little noise has never hurt me as long as my thoughts are still and quiet.

Back in the Summer Kitchen taking a zip of my now cold water, I thumbed through some papers and found the following note that I had put together about silence from Awakening the Buddha Within by Lama Suryaa Das.   Let me share it with you:

Silence is true
Silence is golden
Silence is medicinal
Silence is healing
Silence is real
It is within me

Find your own quiet time and enjoy it.
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Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Potato and Pear Soup

What a combination!  When following this recipe, it will serve eight hungry people.  If you don't have that many around your table, halve the recipe.

Ingredients for eight servings:

2 tbs butter/marg or canola oil for sauteing 2 leeks or onions of compatible size
4 cups chicken broth

2 lbs Russet potatoes (cut in 1 inch cubes, or so)
2 lbs Bartlet pears (or pears of your choice; peel, and core, cube or slice
1/4 cup light brown sugar
2 tsp salt to taste


Saute leeks or onions until soft.  Use a large pot.  Add broth, potatoes, and pears.  Boil/simmer for about 25 minutes.  Mash.  Pure in blender, using batches.  While still hot,stir in brown sugar.

When serving. decorate with a doll-up of sour cream or a sprig of parsley.  Enjoy.

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Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Oleander Bushes

Caution:  All parts of the Oleander bush, dried or green, are poisonous.  From time to time, I have toyed with the idea of getting several Oleander bushes.  Here in Northern Florida, they remain green throughout the year.  They are said to be very fragrant and they come in a huge variety of colors.

The Oleander bushes are attractive and make excellent hedges.  They hide chain link fences very well e.g. Arlington Expressway in Jacksonville is a good example.

They grow well in salty and marshy soils, making it popular in coastal regions.  I thought that a row of Oleander bushes would look good as a perfect privacy fence near the"scenic" creek.

But I can't do that because my granddaughter comes to visit and I don't want her to go near this bush.  I also like for people to feel free to meander along the ditch; and I don't want to worry about anybody touching this bush.  It is poisonous and I take that very serious.

As you can clearly see, I have borrowed this beautiful picture.

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Monday, April 17, 2017

Navel Oranges

These oranges have nothing to do with any naval organisation but with the navel that it so resembles.  It is actually a mutation and it grows on another fruit besides the main orange. It is thus said to  have a twin.

The navel oranges are sweet, seedless, and easy to peel.  I'm not sure about the easy to peel so I would recommend that the peeling and eating be done over a sink.

We need fresh oranges this time of the year to supply us with natural C-vitamins and the Navel oranges fit that bill after a long winter.

They may still be an a tree depending on the cold it encountered during the growing season.

It is easy to peel and cut an orange, if the top and bottom are first cut off.  Then stand the orange on one side and thinly cut off the peel from top to bottom.

To remove the flesh ever so nicely, cut with a sharp paring knife on either side of the membrane.

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Saturday, April 15, 2017

Mezcla and Sieva Beans

A few years ago, the Sieva Pole Butter Beans could not be found because the commercial growers switched to Mezcla Beans due to their resistance of nematodes, so I was told.  We only used the Mezcla pole butter beans for one season here on the Back Forty in Northeast Florida.

These warm weather beans did well.  I could not tell the difference in growth, appearance, harvesting, taste, cooking, or freezing.

Pole beans have to be staked.  We prefer pole beans because we won't have to bend down picking the beans; however, we do have to do the staking.

Because we use staked pole beans, we sow the beans in a designated, stationary, place and we also use heavy duty PVC poles and providing strings for the beans to climb.  When the beans are fully grown, they make a nice hedge.

It is also recommended that a gardener rotate the crop, but we have made an exception to the beans.

The Sieva and the Mezcla beans, respectively, have a delightful hint of green.  The Sieva pole beans are our preference.

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Happy growing season!
Happy Easter!

Friday, April 14, 2017

Life in a wheelchair

This is my first experience to life in a wheelchair after I broke my ankle that added to my already existing problem with my feet and legs. I could only stand by myself for 15 seconds and got around with a walker.  Now, I have to get around in a wheelchair thanks to my cat that I chased and fell.

Ramps:  Thanks goodness, our house is built on a concrete slab and we have two half steps (or less) to maneuver before we reach the hallway from the outside.  My strong husband is able to manage this obstacle by tilting the wheelchair and pushing.  Yes, I am holding on!

I read in the "Prime Time" section of Times Union that it would cost $500 - $600 to build a 5 to 6 foot portable nonslip ramp,

Doors:  The most important thing to do is to protect the knuckles when wheeling through  doorways.  In the same article in the Times Union, I read that it would cost about $2,500 to "structurally" widen  a doorway.

Clearance:  People in a wheelchair have a reach of 24 to 48 inches which I don't dispute.  They also need at least a 5 foot wide path for moving and turning around.

When my life in the wheelchair is over, my husband and I will have to patch and paint a lot of doors and cabinets.

Other:  There is so much to life in a wheelchair, but it is imperative that I take care of myself by eating wholesome food such as vegetables from my garden and fresh fruit.

It is also important that I stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.

It is also important that I check my attitude, do fun things and help in the household, meditate.and pray.  I also wear my lipstick.  I never know when company is coming.

Source:  Me and Feb 7, 2017

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Thursday, April 13, 2017

On my Knees

There have been so many times when my best well laid plans have totally gone astray but thinking about it afterwards, whatever the outcome, it was for the best to all parties and events.

There  have also been times when there were places that I intended to go to, but I should not even have considered, and there were interference that canceled the trips.  I strongly feel that God have had a hand in my plans.

I have struggled to acknowledge His existence.  When I am in my garden among the growing vegetables that nourishes me so well and it gives me so much pleasure and peace to be out on the Back Forty with all the greenery, bushes, and trees, how can I not believe in Him?

A few weeks ago, my feet and legs gave way and I fell. I could got get up.  I crawled and finally got to my knees and stayed like that for a long while. I strongly felt that God put me in that position to contemplate my relationship with Him.

That was not enough.  When I chased the cat a few days ago, I fell and broke my ankle.  I stayed on my knees until the ambulance came and carried me to the hospital.  Again, God had me on my knees.

These serious events or signs are helping me to slowly and mindfully adjusting my attitude and I am striving to become a better person.

I hope to get down on my knees again without drastic prompting from Him.  I have much to be thankful for and I do feel blessed.

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Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Jax Vets

Once upon a time, there were a couple of retired veterans meeting for an early breakfast at a local restaurant.  They met faithfully every Thursday morning:  same table, same guys.

Eventually word got around about these veterans and one by one other veterans dropped by to find out about these veterans and have breakfast with them.

We live in a community with many different military institutions, many service men have found the beaches area an attractive place for their retirement.

The group at the restaurant grew.  It was easy to join,  The only requirement:  you needed to be a veteran, young or old, it didn't matter.

Some of the veterans now meet long before the early breakfast time that  begins with a Pledge to the Allegiance and a prayer.

There are now about thirty (30) veterans meeting for a hearty breakfast at seven (7) in the morning.

This is no stuff:  there are no rules, no ranks, no salutations.  The veterans come together to tell their war stories, joke with each other, have good breakfast and a good time.

Thank you for your service.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

An Insane Move

The sun was shining from a clear blue sky and the temperature was moderate. It was s perfect day for a road trip.  The car was packed with our clothing, a couple of blankets, and a cooler with a roast and cut up cantaloupes.  We were ready to roll except for the cat.  We needed  to take her with us.

She likes the road trips, too, and she is used to going with us ever since she was a kitten and she recognizes a motel when she sees one.

Before we leave, she has taken to watch every move we make.  When mama is cooking and cleaning--a sure sign that something is up. and when the last bag is put in the car, it is time for her to go and hide.  So, she did.

Due to my inability to stand and walk by myself, I use a roller walker and I was hoping to help my husband to catch the cat.  He was behind the couch  and cat had come out on one side.  I made a move to block her way with a picker upper.

For an insane moment, I left the security of my roller and  lounged at the cat.  I fell flat on my face.  What a move!  I cried out in pain.  My ankle!  Oh, my ankle!

My husband called 911 and I rode the ambulance to the hospital and was diagnose with a "nondisplaced spiral fracture of the distal left fibular metaphysis" and I am now in a temporary splint cast.

The trip was canceled. The cat is not hurt.  

The moral of the story:  think before you leap.

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Monday, April 10, 2017

Hair today, gone tomorrow

One devastating side effect of chemo therapy is the hair loss.  When I experienced the loss of my hair back in October of last year, I had to look at my information sheet to confirm that it would  actually happen after the first infusion of chemo.  Yes, indeed.  My hair came all off onto my hair brush except for a few strands.

I knitted caps in different colors and received a few as gifts.  They were very nice and fitted well when new.  I let the few strands of hair hang out from under the caps--illusions of much more hair under the caps.  Eventually the caps fitted my comfort bear better and he received the compliments when I took him along for my infusions.

I never liked those scarfs that you wear--the scarfs that boldly announce that your hair is gone and that you have cancer.

I tried one of those and I ended up looking like a washer woman.

So I gave up on the caps and scarfs and went bald.  Nobody has said anything about my new hairdo.  Maybe, folks don't know what to say.  I guess, they don't know if it is a new trend or cancer.  Either way, should they say anything negative, I will simply, tell 'em that

Bald Women Rule!

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Saturday, April 8, 2017

Grapefruit Marmalade

I found a recipe that called for five (5) lbs of grapefruit.  I was puzzled.  Was that with the peel or without?  It makes a difference.

I peeled the juicy grapefruit recently picked from our tree on the Back Forty and added three (3) cups of water into the large pot with the grapefruit and let it stand in the fridge overnight.

In the morning, I added another cup of water and boy! did it get watery!  I boiled, cooked, and simmered the juice for a long time and it still stayed watery.  I had some store bought pectin that I added to the pot and let it simmer.

To spice it up, I added a large stick of cinnamon, some whole aromatic peppers, and shared 1/4 cup Southern Comfort with the mixture before removing it from the stove.

I ended up with nine (9) small jars of sweet tasting marmalade.

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Friday, April 7, 2017


My heart, thoughts, and prayers go out to family, friends, and other Swedes in Stockholm and elsewhere in this beautiful and otherwise peaceful country.  May God be with you, bless you, and keep you strong.

Here at the Back Forty, we feel the pain and the sorrow.

Family Reunion

We have an annual Family Reunion in the beautiful country side of Virginia.  It is always on the third Sunday in May, the Sunday after Mother's Day.

During the year, we don't keep in touch with the extended family.  We don't send Christmas cards.  We don't know who got married and who had kids.  We don't know who belongs to whom.  But on this Sunday, we all get together and share our happenings and events over a scrumptious meal.

We ask "who are you" and nobody gets offended but proudly or sadly tell who they are, who their parents are, who passed away, and introduce us to their young ones.

Going to this place in the country and sharing a meal together with friends and family feels like going home and reconnecting with our roots.

The children are playing.  They are jumping and running and screaming with delight.  Some of the grown ups are also participating; blowing bubbles and chasing a ball now and then,  Memories are made and a tradition is established for years to come.

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More about the M for Mezcla beans are coming up.

Thursday, April 6, 2017


When it comes to eggplants, my favorite is the Black Beauty.  It is easy to grow and produces dark skinned, dark purple, glossy beauties.  It thrives in full sun and rich soil. It's a warm weather plant that requires water on a regular basis nd balanced garden fertilizer every two weeks during the growing season.

I prefer to buy the Black Beauty in plants to transfer into the garden.  This time, I bought six (6) plants in a container.  It could have been eight plants.  When in the world are two people going to eat those beauties after harvesting?

Eggplant Parmesan made with browned ground meat, tomatoes and sauce, onions, and cheese is delicious.

Eggplants may be breaded and fried.  What else can you do with an eggplant?

These pictures reminded me of what we did with our surplus of the eggplants that came in faster than we could eat 'em.  My husband took them over to the Senior Citizen's Activity Center.

The eggplants disappeared and we were told how much the fruit was appreciated and we were told that the recipients made Eggplant Parmesan.

It is rewarding to eat the healthful vegetables from your own garden.  It also gives me great pleasure that I am able to share my harvest.

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Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Dancing Girls

There is a group of more mature ladies called the Sassy Tappers and they practice every week at the Senior Activity Center at the beach.  They perform at the center any time there is an event such as a luncheon.  They also perform and show off their dancing skills at other venues and they are popular entertainers.

My edit:  A picture of the Sassy Tappers have been removed.  It was not mine.

Then there are the up and coming young dancers--the ballerinas of tomorrow.  They are ever so graceful in their dancing and thanks go to gifted teachers,

The young dancers learn to perform and act with poise and grace not only when they perform but in life.

The girls will look back on their days of learning to dance, memories of friends, and performing for their families and perhaps a gig or two in the community.

We can all support the Sassy Tappers and the young dancers by attending their performances and giving them an applause.

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Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Cancer and Clowns

I was going to write about my endometrial cancer and consequent battle with the chemo therapy but that was too depressing even for me.  I still might write about the chemo at some other time.  But today, the sun is shining, the peas and beans are growing in the garden, and I am just peachy.

So bring on the clowns and see if we are able to deal with them.  They should brighten our day.  I only like nice clowns.  Clowns who don't make pranks and tell inappropriate jokes.  I don't like anyone making fun of people who are a bit different.  I am writing about clowns, right?

My edit:  Pictures of clowns have been removed.  They were not mine.

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Monday, April 3, 2017

B-12 Supplement

The B supplements are complex and should  be well researched before taken them,  A blood test is often recommended to determine the need for any one of these supplements.  Several of my doctors know that I and am taking B-12 and I have their approval.

After a short stint in the hospital, two of my neurological doctor told me to take the sublingual B-12 which is inserted under the tongue for 30 seconds.  Both doctors maintained that the B-12 in tablet form was a waste of money and did not do anything for me but pass through my system.

B-12 is naturally found in meat, poultry, seafood, dairy, and eggs.  It is important for vegans to get this important sublingual supplement and all of us should take it on a regular basis.

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Saturday, April 1, 2017

Annual Chores

A is for Annual and should be celebrated at this particular time when flowers and plants are blooming.  Spring time lifts my spirit with longer and warmer days and the sun gently warms my face and gives me a glowing color.

 I keep forgetting that it is time for the Orange Blossom and when I get a wiff of the sweet scented aroma, the dose of it absolutely delights me.

It also reminds me that I should remove the weeds from around the trees and put down fertilizer especially for citrus.  It is too late to spray with horticultural oil that should have been done when the weather was cool but it never was this seson

 I love daffodils!  I love to watch them bobbing and bowing in a gentle breeze.  Unfortunately, it is too warm for them in Florida.  Where ever you are and have a chance to enjoy the daffodils:  look for them and pick some if allowed.

Then, we have the roses.  Oh, so pretty!  They should be cut back during the cool season.  What cool season?  That's when my two roses in the front yard started to bloom and they still are blooming.

To be kind to my roses, I will weed around them, feed them, and put mulch around them.  I will also remove darkened leaves and still cut back on stray branches.

These are some annual chores that need to be done and to enjoy.

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