A garden (in the Netherlands)/O grădină (în Olanda)

In front of the climbing plants I spread seeds of cornflowers, marigold and zinnia.

The fragile looking cornflowers were the first to bloom in many colors.

Then the yellow and orange marigold.

And finally the zinnia brought an extra colour boost.

(to be continued)

In fata plantelor cataratoare am folosit seminte de flori de grau (albastrele), galbenele si carciumarese.

Florile de grau cu aspectul lor fragil au fost primele care au inflorit in culori diferite.

Apoi au urmat galbenelele galbene si portocalii.

Iar la urma carciumaresele au adus un plus de culoare.

(va urma)

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MRSA and Me

Trying to age in place is great as long as there is no crisis, health or otherwise.

Two years ago, I fell in the shower. I banged my lower leg against the ledge that keeps the water in the shower as I was exiting. A couple of days later my leg seemed quite inflamed and since it was a weekend and I didn’t feel particularly ill, Dh and I went to a walk-in private clinic to probably get an antibiotic and be done with it. The doctor there diagnosed cellulitis and gave me a prescription for an oral antibiotic. I had never heard of cellulitis and was surprised to learn that it was a skin infection, because there did not seem to be any broken skin.

I think this is a depiction of St. Francis, who loved all animals. The statue sits among azalea and holly and welcomes our butterflies…I spent a lot of time recuperating and meditating near this garden fixture last year and the year before.

A subsequent visit to my internist, because the inflammation seemed to be growing and getting worse, confirmed the cellulitis diagnosis a few days later, which resulted in his prescribing a stronger antibiotic. Later that same week, DH drove me to a hospital emergency room where I never saw a doctor, only a physician’s assistant, who also agreed with the cellulitis diagnosis and a change of antibiotic. Swelling and inflammation continued to grow, so we went to a different hospital’s emergency room because I seemed to be getting worse, and our internist suggested I check in to hospital.

This hospital staff confirmed cellulitis and deep vein thrombosis. They decided I needed to get on a blood thinner immediately, and admitted me into the hospital. An infectious disease specialist visited me there, who guessed I might have MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) in my leg. Much of the information below is from WebMD on MRSA.) MRSA is a bacterium that causes infections in different parts of the body. IT is harder to treat than most strains of staph because it is resistant to commonly used antibiotics.

The symptoms of MRSA depend on where you’re infected. Most often, it causes mild infections on the skin, like sores or boils. But it can also cause more serious skin infections or infect surgical wounds, the bloodstream, the lungs, or the urinary tract. Though most MRSA infections aren’t serious, some can be life-threatening. Many public health experts are alarmed by the spread of MRSA. Because it is hard to treat, MRSA is sometimes called a “super bug.”

“Garden-variety” (ha, ha) staph are common bacteria that can live in our bodies. Plenty of healthy people carry staph without being infected by it. In fact, 25%-30% of us have staph bacteria in our noses. (The hospital took a nose culture but found no staph in my nose.)

But staph can be a problem if it manages to get into the body. Once there, it can cause an infection. Staph is one of the most common causes of skin infections in the U.S. Usually, these are minor and don’t need special treatment. Less often, staph can cause serious problems like infected wounds or pneumonia. So even though I had no obvious signs of an open cut, the nasty beasty appeared to be in me.

Our garden is such a beautiful place to rest and recuperate!

Staph can usually be treated with antibiotics. But over the decades, some strains of staph — like MRSA — have become resistant to antibiotics that once destroyed it. MRSA was first discovered in 1961. It’s now resistant to methicillin, amoxicillin, penicillin, oxacillin, and many other antibiotics. While some antibiotics still work, MRSA is constantly adapting. Researchers developing new antibiotics are having a tough time keeping up. I eventually had to have a intravenous (PICC) line installed in me to administer “super” antibiotics, vancomycin and cefapime so that I could go home from the hospital. I was eventually declared free of the infection and had the line removed one month after its insertion. The infectious disease specialist said that he knew that I was cured only by observation. There was no test that he could perform to substantiate that I was cured (!)

One of the side benefits of MRSA is that you become more likely to get it again, having gotten it once. So last year, I was digging in the garden and hit an ant hill. The ants started to sting me and I reflexively rubbed my leg to get them off with a dirt-coated glove. A day or 2 later, sure enough I saw the same leg swelling up and becoming quite inflamed again. This time I did not hesitate and went straight to the infectious disease specialist. He confirmed cellulitis and immediately put me on cefapime again. Several weeks later, we declared victory again. He suggested I cover up more when I am working in the garden, but otherwise, there was nothing I could do.

Where I was working when I struck an ant hill

So stuff happens! One of the reasons the physical therapy centers wipe down their treatment tables and other equipment is because of the prevalence of “community-acquired” MRSA. Much younger people are now being diagnosed with MRSA.

Immune compromised individuals are much more susceptible to these infections, and that is why there has been a lot of press recently about the several month fight of a super bug at NIH, which treats only those who have no chance making it anywhere else. So be careful out there, whether in or out of the garden, with infections that don’t seem to go away. I had never suffered cellulitis or heard of MRSA before a couple of years ago and happily have the scars to prove I weathered through it.

This is just a rambling set of recollections because of the recent news about super bugs and their resistance to antibiotics. Has anyone out there had a run-in with these new beasts?

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Wordless Wednesday

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stunning photos of mushrooms!

the unbearable lightness of being me.

When I learned that mushrooms falls under the classification of fungus, I was awed… that’s just so unthinkable. What a fungus implies are bacteria, molds, yeast or anything that’s really icky. Though there are some mushrooms that have an icky quality, most of them are bewitchingly lovely and some are such a delight to eat. Even the poisonous ones are a sight to see.

Mushroom is also referred to as “toadstool” – there are many analogies and explanations that go back centuries ago regarding why is it referred to as such. One reason that I amusingly regard as true is that because folklore and fairy tale books often illustrate toads or frogs sitting on top of a mushroom with its’ tongue stuck out catching a fly. And oftentimes too, dwarfs or gnomes were also depicted with a mushroom; they’re either under it, beside it or on top of it…

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Garden Art – Part 2

Classic gazing ball Mom gave us many years ago. Glass has held up nicely for at least 10 years!

Meditating Kwan Yin beneath a crepe myrtle

Greenish cherub to one side of entrance to our shade garden

The other cherub at the entrance to our shade garden

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Six Reasons We Are Installing a Stand-by Generator — Aging in Place

Well, we’ve made the move: we’ve ordered a diesel powered stand-by generator to be installed behind the house. The contractor will come next week to pour the concrete pad upon which it will rest. We plan to post pictures of the installation and final beautification of the thing as it is happening.

We have ordered a Kubota diesel stand-by generator

There are several reasons we have decided to make this substantial investment. And I do mean I think it will be an investment. Power outages were rare several years ago in our area, but seem to be becoming increasingly frequent. We might as well prepare for ourselves as we try to age in place and for whomever will receive stewardship of this place when we pass away.

Winter or summer outages are no fun!

1. I’m tired of being without water when we have a power outage

We are on a well and our well pump runs on electricity. No power, no water. Okay, we can drink bottled water, but what about taking a shower? In the heat of this summer’s outage, we visited friends about five times to use their shower.

2. I’m tired of being without a toilet when we have a power outage

See above. When we have no water, our toilets don’t fill up after a flush. We stopped up two toilets during the last power outage. We now keep a few gallons of water in plastic gallon jugs near the toilets in case we lose water, but…

3. I’m tired of throwing all the food in the freezer out because power was out too long

The food in the freezer will last a day or maybe 2, after that, stuff defrosts. Last time we lost power, we called friends about 50 miles away who still had power to come get the food in our freezer before it was lost. I am really against throwing food away, but what if we had not found friends who could take the food? We could only cook so much and save it in an ice chest. Last year we lost everything in the refrigerator and freezer. It was wasteful and unnecessary if we had had a generator.

4. I’m tired of roasting in the heat or freezing in the cold when we have a power outage

We have oil heat that requires an electric blower to move the heat into our home’s rooms. So no power, no heat. DH has had to bring in wood to burn in a basement fireplace stove to provide enough heat during the winter during power outages. He is getting older, and a few fires is a nice touch, but hauling wood shouldn’t be a twice daily necessity for him.

5. We have a pup, so it is more difficult to find lodgings when there is a power outage

Thankfully, pet friendly hotels are becoming more prevalent, but requiring a place where we can all stay does rule out the majority of hotels. Hotels really fill up fast when there is a power outage. As we get older, it becomes more imperative (or at least more convenient) that we be able to stay at home when there is a power outage.

We use our bbq out back, have canned foods so as not to open the refrigerator, have bottled water, lots of batteries, crank radio, camp lights, but….

6. We both use CPAP’s and they don’t run on candles!

DH and I both have sleep apnea, and have continuous positive air pressure machines that we wear at night in bed. Hard to use when there is no electricity to pump air!

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Steps to an Injury-Free Garden – Part 3

We’ve discussed planning and executing paths — focused on looking down. Now I suggest we look up as well as down in our planning and maintenance of the garden for a trouble free aging in place:

Pampas grass leaves are sharp so we don’t put it any where close to any path!

Trim low branches and bushes that you can hit with your eye or garden tools. I once scratched a cornea by walking into a tree branch!

Don’t plant rose bushes or other thorny plants too close to your paths.

The metal sun stake is about eye height when I bend over to weed, so I have to be really careful when close by.

Topiary or Niwaki juniper can be quite scratchy, so it is important to control its height!

Be careful of the roses on the right!

As you can see, we take care of paths for ourselves as gardeners, and for those who visit and relax with us.

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Such beauty — thank you for sharing!

A garden (in the Netherlands)/O grădină (în Olanda)

I’m running behind on the garden, meanwhile these flowers are gone again – until next year.

Am ramas in urma gradinii, intre timp florile acestea s-au trecut  – pana anul viitor.

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Evening. I’m sharing their beautiful photos!

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Eight Reasons I Started This Blog

What possessed me?

This is a fairly new blog mainly on the subject of aging in place in the garden, since I am an ancient gardener myself and one who happens to use a rollator to get around.

Planting a tree — now that is REAL optimism for a 70 year old!

Interior design has quite a bit about aging in place, but exterior features might also need to be modified to make it accessible over one’s lifetime, not just if one becomes disabled. Well, did I get an earful (or eyeful) from one reader via email:

“Why do people think that aging has to do with walkers and being disabled? I am nearing 70. Work out weekly, walk 3 miles a day, and my friends all do the same. We work, we play, we vacation, we interact, we are active in our community. We are like most other people.

“My Aunts, who are 98 and 97, each only started using a walker last year!

“….We all have to start promoting a healthy way of life rather than a disabled. What about promoting a healthy lifestyle?

“…I am not surrounded by many people who are declining until they reach their late 80’s or 90’s….”

It certainly hit a chord that I often hear or read from Baby Boomers and others seeking to stave off inevitable signs of aging. We can dye our hair, regrow hair we have lost, get plastic surgery, replace hips and knees, etc., etc. We can eat healthy, exercise healthy, keep our minds active, keep working, etc., etc. 60 is the new 40. We have no limits (and we refuse to die.)

1. The yard came with the house

But not everyone has preserved their good health. Because of genetics, accidents, bad health practices, many 60+ are not fit, but they want to stay where they are and live a happy life. So many of us are suburbanites, and that usually means that a yard comes with the house. I wanted to blog about trying to get people into their gardens and enjoy, even if their capabilities are not those of a 20 year old.

I suffer blue flowers, not the blues. I prepare.

Planning and preparing is better than believing that one will stay strong forever.

I had to visit my physical therapist recently and I saw many, many patients who were healthy up to very recently and then, BAM, torn cartiledge, fractured (something), sudden pain doing something they love doing. I have had to go to the therapist for three times a week for several months. Not every patient was released able to perform at the same level as they had been. Many were, but many were not. I am happy to report that I have been lucky to return to my home and garden just as good or better than before. But if I hadn’t been able to, I was prepared.

If we can’t dig in the garden, we can plant a pot…

2.  The “Tweener” generation might be able to help their parents stay in their house

Even if we possess superb health, we might have parents who want to age in place in a suburban setting. I’d like to help others help their parents age in place in their gardens.

3. Differently-abled may also find useful pointers

Those who are disabled or differently-abled may also find useful tools, ideas, and suggestions that allow them to work in and enjoy a garden.

4. Paying it forward is more than a good idea

Teaching others what I have had to learn the hard way is an extravagance I can now afford with the cloud and electronic media to help me. I believe we have a responsibility to help others in whatever way we can. We are blessed to live in this country and we have a responsibility to pay back.

5. Gardening is good exercise that might be more accessible than we think

I have found with raised beds and certain types of hardscaping that the garden is accessible for someone using a rollator. I wanted to share our ideas and projects to make our garden more accessible and easier to care for.

My rollator in the garden

6.  Gardening has certain hazards that can be minimized for everyone

When we plan for others to enjoy our garden with us, we find ourselves reducing hazards that we might not have considered. My blog seeks to provide ideas that minimize potential problems that anyone might have in a garden.

7. Philosophical mind bending

The 60’s were good to me (the 1960’s I mean). And the 70’s, 80’s, 90’s, 00’s, and 10’s. I want to share. I want to hear (and read from others). Not just those I agree with. I learn from everyone, and I never want to stop learning.

8. I am a visual person

I learn most from pictures. I am off scale when it comes to how I learn and what my eyes take in. I love to share DH’s and my photos of this enchanting place in which we live. There are others like me out there….

Swallowtail on buddleia

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