This year, Memorial Day is different from years past. Not just because of the Coronavirus. This is the first time, I spend Memorial Day weekend without Matt since we got married 50 years ago on Memorial Day Weekend. I miss the times we walked to the corner of our street in Oyster Bay to see the parade. It’s not the same anymore and never will be the same again.
I found this photo of Matt in one of the boxes in his closet while cleaning up his things. I always wonder why I have not seen any picture of him in uniform. Well, I finally found one. He served in WWII with the U.S. Navy.
“Taps” is a bugle call played at dusk, during flag ceremonies, and at military funerals by the United States Armed Forces. … The tune is also sometimes known as “Butterfield’s Lullaby”, or by the first line of the lyric, “Day Is Done”.
Lest we forget. . . Remember the men in uniform who fought so we can have the freedom we enjoy today.
To many gardeners, dogwoods are the most beautiful of all flowering trees. These delightful trees often begin to blossom when they are only 4 to 6 feet tall, and their spectacular flowers are so tough that they often stay colorful for three or four weeks, twice as long as the blossoms on other trees. But the flowers are not the trees’ only attributes, for dogwoods have other traits that extend their usefulness well beyond the flowering season. The white or pink flowers are followed by bright red fruits, which are relished by birds; the dark green leaves of summer turn deep orange in autumn, and the horizontal tiers of branches are attractive throughout the year. Even during winter, the upturned ends of the twigs look interesting, since they are tipped with fat greenish buds that will become the next season’s flowers. Dogwoods usually grow from 6 to 8 feet with an equal spread in about five years.
I had a palmetto tree on my front lawn that I never liked. Last fall, it looked so bad, I told the HOA landscaper to take it down. At some point, I thought of getting a magnolia tree, but then a fellow gardener told me to be prepared to rake the leaves all the time. That made me go for a dogwood tree instead.
I bought a small dogwood tree from Fast Growing Trees, which I planted during one of those warm days in the Fall. In late December, I called the supplier and told them that the tree lost all its leaves and looked dead. They assured me it was OK. We’ll see how it does this season.
There is a legend to the dogwood tree.
At the time of the Crucifixion, the dogwood had been the size of the oak and other forest trees. So firm and strong was the tree that it was chosen as the timber of the cross. To be used thus for such a cruel purpose greatly distressed the tree, and Jesus, nailed upon it, sensed this, and in His gentle pity for all sorrow and suffering said to it:
“Because of your regret and pity for My suffering, never again shall the dogwood tree grow large enough to be used as a cross. Henceforth it shall be slender and bent and twisted and its blossom shall be in the form of a cross. . . two long and two short petals. And in the center of the outer edge of each petal there will be nail prints, brown with rust and stained with red, and in the center of the flower will be a crown of thorns and all who see it will remember.”
In a few hours, 2019 will be gone. Over and past. The New Year and a New Decade will be here. With it comes an opportunity to reinvent, refresh and renew. It’s up to each of us to make plans for a better YOU.
Have you had a stressful year in 2019? You’re not alone. I had a very stressful year. I hope 2020 will be better. I am making plans to do just that. For starter, I need something to keep my mind off my problems. To be able to relax, I found out that music is a good therapy.
A year ago, I bought a retro Victrola record player which plays vinyl records. Yes, I still have my old vinyls from the ‘60s. I intend to play most of them in 2020. They always bring back happy memories of the past.
When I lost my Mom a few days before Thanksgiving, my life changed drastically. With both my parents gone and being the eldest, I’m now the head of the family and it carries a certain responsibility. I do miss calling Mom. There were days when I thought of calling home, only to realize she is gone forever and I can’t call her anymore like I used to do for the last 52 years since I left home. There is one thing Mom promised me when she was alive. If I move back to the Philippines, she would buy me a piano. That’s not going to happen now so I decided to treat myself on my birthday a few days ago and bought myself a piano. It’s as if I fulfilled her promise to me. I always want to learn how to play the piano and with a piano at home, I should be able to do that. Where do I begin? As Fraulein Maria a.k.a. Julie Andrews from the “Sounds of Music” said, you begin with Do-Re-Mi.
Last May, my husband’s health turned for the worst and he decided to stay on the second floor for the duration of his illness unless he had to go see his doctor. That meant I had to bring his food upstairs. Most days, I made the trip upstairs 20 times a day and with 17 steps each way, I logged in about 680 steps a day just attending to his needs alone. I lost 16 lbs so far this year. Not good for me. At the rate I’m going, I will be back to when I was single, – 90 lbs soaking wet. Funny! But then I look at it this way. That’s a very good cardio exercise for me. Who needs the gym? I get my exercise right here at home and it is free.
There are a few book projects I want to do but so little time. I want to finish one book this coming year. I meant to do a final edit on one of them in 2019 but never did anything. I just had no time. I’ll make time this year.
There are piles of books I want to read. I barely met my reading goals this year. Most of my time that I was reading in 2019 were doing research for my blog. Blogging will take a back burner from now on. I am considering of spending less time on blogsphere and also engaging less on social media and political news in 2020. I’m sure others will not agree with me but considering what is good for me, I’m staying with my goals this coming year.
My garden did not get much attention this year either and I lost a lot of roses. The crazy weather did not help at all. I’m redoing my garden to include more shrubs and perennials, easy care plants. I promise myself to buy only 2 roses this year. I’m looking at David Austin English Rose catalog. I have enough plants to cheer me up and give me the outdoor exercise I need. I also got a beautiful red mini rose plant a few days ago. The sender wished me a Happy New Year but did not sign his/her name. If you are the mystery sender, I thank you very much. That’s very sweet of you to think of me and it cheers me up.
I have done a lot of volunteer work in NY and now here in SC. At this point of my life, I’m cutting back on that and leaving that to the younger generation. I’m still on the HOA board which is a thankless job. I just happen to like working with our property manager and our developer and I can watch where our money is being spent. I’ll stay on that since I can do it without leaving home which is impossible these days because of my husband’s health issues.
Lastly and the most difficult task I want to tackle this year. I want to organize my paperwork and my house. After almost 50 years of marriage, we have accumulated a lot of stuff. We downsized when we moved south but I still have plenty of things. I hate to think what my kids will do when I go so I’ll start unloading some of my stuffs now.
So that’s my plan for this year. I feel great already. Hope 2020 is a wonderful year for you! What are your plans for 2020? Share and comment below.
Happy New Year! Wishing you all the best in the next decade!!
My mom, Fausta (Pacing) Rosales, lovingly called Lola by her grandchildren, passed away on Friday, Nov. 22, 2019. She was 96 years old, a month shy of her 97th birthday on Dec. 16. She was the last among her nine siblings to pass on.
I thank you Mom for all the years you loved and took care of my three brothers and me, our spouses and your grandchildren, for your love and loyalty to Dad, for your zest for life and the courage to tackle all adversities that life brought upon you and your family.
I remember stories you told me about my struggle with meningitis when I was two years old. You and Dad and my doctor godmother pulled me through otherwise I would have died. When I was five, all my playmates were all in school but I was too young to enroll in 1st grade but you convinced the teacher to let me just sit in class without grading me. I was admitted and ended up getting 80 at the end of the school year and got promoted to 2nd grade. As I became a teenager and through my twenties, you were my ally when I had problem with Dad about boys. When I was reviewing for my CPA board exam, you were there making sure I ate right to sustain my long days and nights reviewing for my exams. When I left home, you were heartbroken but let me go to pursue my ambition. You knew I would be OK in New York. You were always supportive of what I wanted to do. You were easy to deal with than Dad who was very strict but both of you made me the person I am today because of your strict discipline. Thank you.
Here is my family when I left home for New York in 1967, taken at Manila International Airport.
(left to right) – My three brothers, Robert, Radelo, Renato, Me (Rosalinda), Mom and Dad. All four of us have the same initials – R.A.R.
Here we are again in May 1993 for Mom and Dad’s 50th wedding anniversary.
After I got married, you came to U.S. for the first time, after my first child was born. You stayed for a month to be with your first grandchild and later when I decided to go back to work, you stayed with me for four years until the boys are old enough not to have a babysitter. During those days, when my kids called her “Lola”, people asked me why my children called their grandmother by her first name. I had to explain that “Lola” is the Filipino word for Grandma.
Every time, I moved to a new home, you were around to give me a helping hand on my move. Mom was a well-seasoned traveler, traveling back and forth from the Philippines every two years. Mom enjoyed her U.S. trips to visit us all, alternating her stay between each of her four children. When she got tired of one, she went to the next one. We will always remember those happy times during our family gathering at Thanksgiving and Christmas at my home. Mom could get into an argument with one of my brothers who loved to tease her and she would use a few phrases she picked up staying with my other two brothers in New Jersey. We roared with laughter. She was feisty and hilarious. She loved meeting my American friends and always with a smile on her face. The last visit was when we first came to see our new home in Charleston in 2008. Our third bedroom is still called “Lola’s room” because she was the first one to occupy it.
My mom had a good life with few hardships during the war and in between Dad’s downturn in his business. She was the favorite among her siblings as she was growing up. She was a beautiful lady and Dad fell in love with her even before they met. Dad saw her picture in a magazine. Below was the original copy and the picture that Dad fell in love with.
When Dad married her after 4 years of courtship, Dad got her a maid even before I was born. We don’t consider ourselves rich but we are comfortable. Dad built Mom a nice home which has been the envy of the town. It’s made of granite, marble and steel and it has fared very well during typhoons and earthquakes.
She loved sewing and I had to have tons of sewing projects for her to do during her stay with me. Otherwise, she got bored. I still have the sewing machine she used and I was hoping for years that she would come back because I still have tons of fabric for her to do some work. She made curtains and slipcovers, did alterations for me, fixed buttons, mended things and made some of my early clothes.
One thing she was not an expert is cooking. Since she always had a maid, she very rarely cooked. But she was a big help to Dad in his business by taking care of the books. She was very organized and constantly in motion. She was a strong and confident woman. You would not dare cross her path because she would have something to say. She always stood her ground and we love her for that. Maybe that was the key to longer life.
She is now with Dad who left us in 2007. Dad must be smiling to welcome her in his arms once more.
I love you Mom and will miss you terribly. I wish I was there with you to send you off safely home to God and Dad. Rest in peace and thank you for everything
For nothing better to do today, I decided to try my hand on baking a cheesecake. I saw this recipe months ago and clipped it.
7 oz. pkg. cannoli shells
3 tbsp unsalted butter melted
2 tbsp sugar
4 cups whole milk ricotta cheese
1 ½ cups sugar
¼ c flour
½ whipping cream
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp orange zest
5 large eggs
1/3 mini chocolate chips
Confectioner sugar for sprinkling
A handful of chocolate chips for sprinkling
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9 inch springform pan with parchment.
Crush cannoli shells (food processor works best), add butter and 2 tablespoons sugar and continue to pulse until med-fine crumbs
Press crumbs firmly onto bottom of pan. Bake 10 minutes. Let cool.
Beat ricotta cheese, remaining sugar and flour in bowl of electric mixer on medium until well blended. Add whipping cream, vanilla, zest and chocolate chips. Mix well. Add eggs, 1 at a time, mixing just until blended after each addition. Pour over crust.
Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, then sprinkle top with a handful of chocolate chips delicately, pressing chips in lightly. Continue to bake 10 more minutes or until center is almost set. Run knife around rim of pan to loosen cake.
Cool before removing rim of pan. Refrigerate for 4 hours or more. Before serving sprinkle with confectioner sugar.
Top with whipped cream if desired. Store leftovers in refrigerator. Serves. 10.
I don’t usually follow any given recipe. Somehow I always tweak it to suit what I have on hand in the kitchen. Same thing happened here when I baked this Cannoli Chocolate Cheesecake.
I didn’t have all the ingredients on hand so I improvised. Since I didn’t have cannoli shells, I used 16 ice cream sugar cones instead. I also used regular butter, not unsalted. For whipping cream, I used Cool Whip. For orange zest, I used the orange zest from the Orange malmalade. I added the last ingredient which was not in the original recipe.
I’m not a baker also so I don’t own all the baker’s gadgets so I also improvised. I don’t have a food processor so I crushed the ice cream cone inside a zip lock bag and mixed everything by hand using big wooden spoon.
They came out pretty good and quite delicious. Not bad for a first try.
Constance Spry, introduced in 1961, is one of the first English Roses hybridized by David Austin and its success contributed to the founding of the English Roses. David Austin Roses is a flower arranger’s dream. They can be used to make wonderful floral arrangements either on their own or with other plant materials. With its voluptuous blossoms and dainty habit, you can duplicate the beauty and charm of an Old Dutch floral painting.
Photo Credit – David Austin Roses
Constance Spry can grow to a height of 6-12 ft. with a width of 6-8 ft. or 10 to 18 ft. as a climber. Bloom size is 3” with a petal count of 80+. It has a lovely pink color and very fragrant. The only drawback is it only flowers once in the spring but it blooms profusely.
Who is Constance Spry?
Constance Spry is the mother of modern floral design. She would have loved to use David Austin Roses for her floral arrangements. After World War 1, she changed the formal, rigid composition of floral design with unconventional pastoral compositions; flowers arranged asymmetrically with assorted shapes of foliage in various types of containers. She used all kinds of wildflowers, grasses, pods or practically anything the Victorian ladies shunned. Her style was full of drama and a refreshing reprieve from the more stiff floral design of her contemporaries.
Photo Credit – Pinterest
Connie, as she was known to her friends, was born in Derby, England, in 1886 and raised in Ireland. She found refuge from her domineering mother in the gardens of her childhood, where she began to take note of what would become her favorites: old garden roses, lilac, mock orange, laurel, buddleia, and evening primrose, as well as grasses, weeds, and other typically overlooked plants and materials.
Though flowers and gardening would be her lifelong passions, under her father’s direction she began her early professional life as an educator and social reformer. Traveling by horse-drawn wagon through the Irish countryside, she became a proponent of healthy living, educating housewives on the benefits of fresh air and nutritious food as part of a “War on Consumption” campaign. After a disappointing marriage to a coal mine manager, she took her only son back to England to begin life anew. It was there she met and fell in love with Shav Spry, a colonial civil servant who would be her lifelong companion.
It wasn’t until the age of 41, that Spry’s amateur talents as a floral designer were noticed by an influential lunch companion, leading her to Norman Wilkinson, a theater designer whose encouragement would launch her meteoric design career. With a commission to do flowers for cinemas and a perfume shop, Spry took her unorthodox visions of gathered materials and artful references out of the homes of friends and into the public eye, where she was praised for displays that in an incredibly modern twist included leaves, berries, seed pods, wild clematis, and golden hops mixed with exotic orchids.
Suddenly this middle-aged woman found herself thrust into the social scene, befriending legendary decorator and fellow entrepreneur Syrie Maugham and an exuberant crowd of theatrical personalities and social luminaries. She became the florist of choice to London high society organizing the flowers for royal weddings. She designed the flowers for the Queen’s wedding and Coronation. Her books on flower arranging made her a household name.
Besides being an influential floral artist, Constance Spry is the founder of the Cordon Bleu cooking school and an author of a bestselling cookbook bearing her name.
Syns: R. banksiana, Banksian rose, Banks’ Rose, Lady Banks’
Cultivated since 1796
Rosa banksiae is one of the best shrubs for a wall and in a few years will reach the top of most houses. It produces an abundance of pretty small roses with the sweetest fragrance you can imagine. The flowers are borne on last year’s wood and so it is well-advised not to prune in the spring. Only dead or useless branches have to be trimmed. The date of introduction is not known but the double white form was first described in the Botanical Magazine for 1818 as Lady Banks’ Rose and one of the sweetest of roses. It has also been known as a native of China and had been introduced in 1807 by William Kerr. The double yellow was introduced in 1824.
Definitely not for the small property, this vigorous species rose offers a spectacular spring show in warm-climate gardens that can accommodate its rampant growth habit. There are four different forms of R. banksiae, varying by flower color and flower form.
· R. banksiae normalis is considered to be the “wild” form, with single white flowers.
· R. banksiae banksiae (also known as ‘Banksiae Alba’, R. banksiae alba, R.banksiae alba-plena, White Banksia, or White Lady Banks’ Rose) offers exceptionally fragrant, double white flowers.
· R. banksiae lutea (R. banksiae lutea-plena, Yellow Lady Banks’ Rose) is the most well-known form of Rosa banksiae in cultivation with small, fully double, bright yellow flowers that come in clusters. They are only slightly fragrant.
· R. Banksiae lutescenshas single light yellow blooms.
All four have small, oval buds that open to clustered, 1-inch wide, rosette-form flowers, usually blooming in early or midspring to late spring. Slender, thornless canes carry semi-evergreen to evergreen, shiny, dark green leaves with narrow leaflets. They are rarely bothered by diseases.
All four forms of this specie rose have a vigorous, rambling habit and can grow up to 30 ft, so they’re usually used as 20 to 30-foot climbers. They need a sturdy support, such as a well-built pergola or arbor; they also like to scramble into trees. It is a great rose for zone 8 to 10.
I saw Rosa banksiae in Charleston, SC on my first visit there in 1989. We went on a House and Garden Tour and at one of the gardens we visited, ‘Yellow Lady Banks’ was growing almost to the roof of the house against the wall. We wandered along some tiny street and I saw ‘Yellow Lady Banks’ rose by the gate and I took the above photo. Fast forward to 2011 – when I joined the Charleston Lowcountry Rose Society, I discovered the owner of that rose is one of our members.
Tip of the Day – Learn to be cheerful even if you don’t feel like it.
A leader has to have the confidence to think that his decision will be proven correct. While trying to retain humility, you must accept that the reason you’re making these decisions and other people are not is because, for now, you’re in charge and they aren’t. You do no one any good if, like Hamlet, you cannot carry the weight of your convictions. Yes, you must guard against arrogance; but if you’re doing your job and putting your motives and conscience through their paces, accept that maybe you really do know better and can see a little further down the road than others.
When I am up against a tough situation, if I can do anything about it, I do it. If I can’t, I just forget it. I never worry about the future, because I know no man living can possibly figure out what is going to happen in the future. There are so many forces that will affect that future. Nobody can tell what prompts those forces – or understand them. So why worry about them?