This dahlia suffered my having put it behind the coneflowers but is soon to bloom.

When we bought our house in 1987, we knew that it had no sump pump, something unusual in the Chicago area, and apparently had more drain tiles than most adjacent homes. I found that to be true as anything we try to grow on the perimeter of the house feels as if it is growing in the desert. I have to be extra careful and I have found some plants that don’t seem to mind the very arid situation. We used to have several boxwoods in front of the family room windows and they bit the dust a few years ago. Last year I put in a dahlia for the summer and it was a success. This year I put in three and two of them did well for a while and then they started looking sad.

I had to step into action. I pulled out the water and was dousing them way more regularly and I also took to adding compost tea to the water while doing so. The compost tea, a liquid draining from the compost, is brown and when added to water makes it look like weak tea. I made sure that I made a dark tea since I am notorious on not fertilizing perhaps as I should. I am amazed to say that they have made a comeback.

The dahlia in the back flower bed started having a powdery mildew on it and blackened leaves. I removed as much as needed, cut back, and watered with compost tea and rain water, until the rain barrel went dry. That dahlia has had a comeback as well.

I realize now that perhaps I was part of the problem with the rose behind the house, but it got to the point of looking good, plant-wise, just not producing flowers.

I pulled out the back roses yesterday and will replace with two clematis plants: one red, one white.

It is all good.

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The Maypop Passion Flower and other plants

The buds of my current Passion flower.

The other day on Facebook, I saw the Passion flower posted by my cousin, once removed, in Cleveland. First of all, the Passion flower was spectacular, second of all, it is apparently a bit of a perennial, which mine is not, thirdly I am not normally capable of saying who is my cousin once removed.

Her passion flower certainly got my attention and I contacted her about it. She had written that it grows, blooms, and then shows up somewhere else in her yard the following year. I had thought that all Passion flowers were delicate and certainly not up to dealing with northern winters. Little did I know…

My passion flower has a bunch of buds. All of my plants that winter inside are slow and it is only within the last couple of weeks that my hibiscus bloomed. It makes me wonder whether or not it is worth all the trouble of bringing them in, cutting them down, worrying about the chance of whiteflies (if I am not careful about watering), and such. If they do get whiteflies, I put them in the laundry tub and spray them with a solution of dishwashing liquid detergent and then wash them off.

Sandy told me that a friend gave her the Passion flower. I did some Internet research and found out that in fact there is a variety that can survive our winters, the ‘Maypop,’ and I was able to purchase one from the Hirt Nursery in Ohio. It has already shipped and luckily, today my new American-made shovel arrived and I ripped out the defective roses that have been plaguing me for several years. That location is getting two clematis plants (red and white) and then I will plant the ‘Maypop on the side of the playhouse, using that new shovel (the old one broke in half the other day).

My cousin is my cousin once removed, being the daughter of my Aunt Helen’s son, Jack, who passed away sadly in the not so distant past. Since she is my cousin’s daughter, she is my cousin once removed. Now that I have stated that, I shall hopefully remember it.

Meanwhile, Wednesday the clematis plants and the Maypop Passion flower did as well. I planted them in the late afternoon before the massive storm.

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Thirty Percent Vinegar!

I was just on Amazon to make a purchase of 30% vinegar again. I looked on my Amazon orders and determined that I am buying a gallon of this high powered cleaning vinegar about once a year. I am more than thrilled with it because it has more power than the wonderful standard vinegar that we normally use and I continue to find more and more ways of using it.

One of the newer ways I use it is for our dirylite. The dirilyte needs to be carefully used and never placed in the dishwasher, although I may just use a test piece in our dishwasher to see what happens. It tarnishes very easily. The more you use it, the less likely it is to tarnish as when I use a piece of two or three (the grandkids prefer this over the other silverware), I immediately do a quick clean and dry them quickly. The other day I noticed that there were some pieces of dirylite with a lot of tarnish, I threw them into a mason jar of 30% vinegar and left them for a bit, monitoring the progress. The massive stains dissipated and with a bit of salt as a mild abrasive, I got them all clean. That was a surprise I was not expecting. This makes it even easier to use as the cutlery is easier to clean.

Another great usage of the high percentage vinegar is to clean off calcification around sinks and faucets. You end up, when using this product, expending way less energy than you do with standard vinegar or just elbow grease.

To spiff up the smell and quality of the high percentage vinegar, I have a mason jar full of orange peels. I keep it filled with the vinegar. When I need some, I just refill the container with a pump that we keep at our kitchen sink. It smells great. I just took Stewart’s outdoor water bowl and the bottle that is overturned into it so that the bowl constantly refills and put three shots of this vinegar, hot water, a bit of Dawn liquid dishwashing detergent, and set it up in the sun. The green that started growing dissipated in the sun with nary a help from me.

My last use is instead of using bleach in the washer. I add some vinegar to the presoak and to the softener receptacles. I find that it does a great job on the wash and feel that whites are whiter and colors retained. I don’t necessarily use the 30% vinegar here but it wouldn’t be a bad idea and it cuts down on the quantity.

Just love that vinegar!

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Diana’s missing earrings

A beautiful orchid from good friend Adrienne to cheer up MK in her convalescence. As it turns out, the Physical Therapist got MK’s new knee to 123 degrees yesterday, a few degrees short of a ‘normal final goal. ‘

Hubbub is a part of life and despite our efforts, periodically, it gets the best of us.

After our return from Germany and Canada, we were searching for a gift for one of our lovely and intelligent daughters-in-law and could not find it.

MK was sure she had placed it in a usual place she had for gifts and lo and behold, the gift was not there.

We had purchased the gift at a favorite store in Northbrook Court, which Diana just informed us had the nickname of NBC, something we did not know even though it is the closest mall to us. We just couldn’t figure out the mystery of the missing gift. We purchased it from the Silver Corner and its owner, Mohammed, has become a good friend of ours. He always comes up with something special when we go to see him when we are searching for a gift of jewelry.

We ended up going to Costco on a buying run and thus checked out the earrings, wondering if they had anything we might like for Diana. As it turns out, they did. We purchased it and went home wondering if we would ever see what Mohammed had sold us from the Silver Corner.

Last week, I returned to Oakton for English and French Conversation hours and went to use my trusty new Ogio backpack, a result of an awards program at the Sachs Recreation Center where I work out. I opened it up to check out its contents and see if I might be missing anything and found the gift from NBC.

We thought about it and decided rather than hold on to it for another gift time, that perhaps Diana should not have to wait. After all, we never thought we would find it, at least I didn’t, so why not?

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Ah, Technology…

My new iPad setup is quickly replacing my laptop as it now behaves like one with its new keyboard.

Some days just don’t start off on the right foot. Sometimes it seems as if one is not even able to stand up, for that matter.

I woke up after going to bed wondering if I was coming down with something. I had done a Flonase routine thinking that something was up sinus-wise and then perhaps heading into one of those nasty, more than one week colds I get. I woke up with the sinus thing still going on but once up, it was better. It seemed as if gravity was on my side.

My routine on Mondays and Wednesdays is slightly different as my Conversation Hour sessions begin at 9:00 AM instead of 10:00 or 11:00. Overall, that is a good thing, but it is a new routine. I got all my things done but didn’t get to the point of getting MK her coffee upstairs. I thought that she might be down before I left, but that wasn’t the case.

I fed and walked Stewart and had set up the ice machine for MK. I went to open up my computer files that I use for my conversation hour sessions and when I went to open up my attendance spreadsheet, it said it didn’t exist. It was not reachable. I use an alias, but somehow, the alias had lost its path to the original. Somehow, the original had disappeared. I went to check my e-mails, since I thought I might have the latest copy there. After a session, I normally send my updated spreadsheet to the Oakton Language Lab. Guess what? Last Wednesday, I didn’t do that!

I located my 2018-2019 Spreadsheet and used it as a template and luckily just had to change a few dates.

Technology was not on my side today.

Lastly, I went to set up my connection between my iPad and my laptop to make it easy to show the conversation group the notes I am typing for them, and the connection wouldn’t happen. I have to get to the bottom of that.

Ah Technology, love it and hate it!

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