Monday, February 1, 2016

A Bouquet of Joy

Thought for the day:  There are always flowers for those who want to see them. [Henri Matisse]

To those of you who are visiting for the first time because of this Valentine's blogfest, welcome! To Arlee Bird, thanks so much for coming up with this cool idea, and to all of his co-hosts, thanks for supporting it. To my regulars, who are wondering why the heck Swiderski is posting on a Monday... I say again... blogfest!!! I hope you'll stick around, even though it isn't our usual Friday rendezvous, and this isn't my usual subject matter. (If there even is such a thing.) Clicking on the badge in the sidebar will whisk you away to a list of other participating bloggers, so if you'd like, you can check out all kinds of offerings about love, both lost and found.


Anyone who has spent time away from home knows how much it means to receive a letter, and this is especially true for soldiers. Particularly during wartime. Those letters provide a much-needed tether back to the world, and offer hope in the midst of horror.

This is a picture of Smarticus during the Vietnam war, writing me a letter. Being out in the field, he couldn't do that as often as he'd like, but I wrote to him multiple times a day, both to help preserve his sanity, and to try to preserve my own. Mail was dropped to the guys from a helicopter, but most of the time, they had to destroy those letters after reading them. They had no place to keep them, and the last thing they needed was additional weight to carry.

Although times have changed, and modern day soldiers have other ways to keep in touch with their loved ones, I believe hand-written letters are still very important. They're life lines. Smarticus and I were already married when he was in Vietnam, but I truly believe it's possible for people who have never met in the world to establish a real relationship through letters. That's the basis for my blogfest offering, which I call The Language of Flowers. I hope you enjoy it.


       Ex-sergeant Cullen Smith paused to admire the florist shop window. Just as he expected, the Say it with Flowers graphics were cheerful, welcoming, and a perfect reflection of the owner’s personality. He took a deep steadying breath, and dried his hand on the front of his shirt to get a better grip on his cane. No sense taking any chances. He was getting around like a pro on his new leg now, but he didn't want to risk screwing up her first face-to-face impression of him by falling on his keister. No, not now, not when he was so close. This was the day he'd been dreaming of for months. He was finally going to meet his guardian angel.
      The bell above the door jingled merrily to announce his entrance into the shop. He stepped inside and looked around at her dream come true. Nice. Very nice… but where was she? Maybe his mother was right; maybe he should have called first. Maybe he should have warned her.
      Then the sweetest-sounding voice he'd ever heard called to him from the back room. “Just a sec! Be right there!”
      That was her voice. That was Angelica.
      His heart pounded against his ribcage, and then, there she was. Finally. Right there, standing right in front of him. Smiling at him. The first thing he thought was she looked just like the picture she’d sent him, the one he’d carried in Iraq and propped up beside him when answering her letters, and the one he’d found in the pocket of his robe when he finally regained consciousness in the hospital.
      No, scratch that. She looked even better in person. No fold marks through her face.
      Angelica felt a slight tug of recognition in her soul when she looked at the man with the semi-scruffy beard, but she couldn’t quite place him. She was immediately drawn to his eyes, though. They were an unusual shade of blue-green, and somehow managed to express the depths of both sadness and hope at the same time. Mesmerizing.
      “Sorry to keep you waiting,” she said. “How can I help you?”
      Cullen hesitated. He should have known this would happen. She obviously didn’t recognize him, but why should she? He barely recognized himself as the clean-shaven, scar-free soldier in the picture displayed on the shelf behind her. With a tenuous smile, he cleared his throat, and said, “I’d like to send flowers to someone to let her know how I feel about her.”
      “Terrific! That’s my specialty,” she said, grabbing a scratch pad. “We’ll even include a cheat sheet to interpret the meanings for her. Okay, so what would you like to say?”
      “I want her to know I’m her secret admirer.”
      Lucky girl, she thought. “That would be yellow mums,” she said, noting it on her pad.

      “And I want to thank her,” he said. “To express my deepest gratitude. No matter how tough things were, she kept me going.”
      “Nice,” she said. “Pink carnations.”

      “I want to ask her to remember me forever,” he said, looking at her intently. “Just as I’ll always remember her. Her letters kept me alive.”
      Angelica’s hand shook slightly as she held it over the pad. “Forget-me-nots,” she whispered, before daring to look at him again. Daring to hope.

      “I love her,” he said around a lump in his throat.
      “Red,” she said, with tears in her eyes. “Roses or tulips. Your choice.”

      “No, your choice, Angelica. The flowers are for you. It’s me. Cullen. I got here as soon as I could.”
      She came out from behind the counter with tears flowing freely down her cheeks. “It’s about time,” she said, while wrapping her arms around him.
      “Thank you for everything,” he said. “Your letters meant the world to me when I was in Iraq. When I came out of the coma, there was a whole pile waiting for me. You even wrote when I couldn’t answer. How can I ever tell you how much that meant to me? How much you mean to me? Ever since you wrote me the first time, I told you I’d come see you when I got back home. Sorry it took me so long.”
      She smiled up at him. “You already told me. With flowers. And if I had some, I’d respond with a sprig of ambrosia.”

      “Which means…?”
      “Your love is reciprocated.”
      With a silent prayer of thanks, he held her close, rocking her from side to side. He kissed her with an aching sweetness, and said, “Too soon to propose?”
      She laughed, and said, “Um, yeah, a little. I think we should go on at least one date first, don’t you?  But when we’re ready, I’ll fill the church with birds of paradise for our wedding.”

      He raised an eyebrow.
      She smiled. “Joy,” she said. “They symbolize joy.”


My joy then...

And now.

Since I'm posting today, I won't be doing a post on Friday, which happens to be Smarticus' birthday. (So I may be busy peeling grapes all day...) Seeya again next week, and every... okay, most... Fridays after that. (Ya never can tell when another blogfest might pop up.)

          Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.

If I had a flower for every time I thought of you, I could walk in my garden forever. [Alfred Lord Tennyson]

Love is the flower you've got to let grow. [John Lennon]

Flowers are the music of the ground from earth's lips, spoken without sound. [Edwin Curran]

Keep love in your heart. A life without it is like a sunless garden when the flowers are dead. [Oscar Wilde]

Friday, January 29, 2016

Staying Warm

Thought for the day:  ♪ ♫ Oh the weather outside can bite me. My muscles ache, despite me. I don't have a happy glow. Winter blows, winter blows, winter blows...♪♫

Looky there. We actually had a little bit of snow in our neck of Georgia last weekend. It didn't last long, and very little of it stuck to the ground, which was supersaturated from all the rain we've had. Mostly, a dusting of it stuck to rooftops and vehicles.

But a promise is a promise. I told Joanne that if it snowed here, I'd make a snowman and post a picture of it on my blog. So here he... it... is. All two and a half inches of him. Frosty he ain't.

[courtesy of Seniorark]

It was sixty degrees here the other day, and is gonna hit near seventy today, so no, it isn't really all that frosty here, but it has been brutally cold and snowy in some parts of the country... and world. Then again, this isn't a real post, eitherbecause I'll be doing that next Monday for a blogfest. (It might not be too late for YOU to participate, too. Just click on that badge in the sidebar to find out...)

This is more of a quickie keeping-my-place-because-it's-Friday kinda howdy. I hope some of these pictures of critters trying to keep warm put a smile on your face.

Smart dogs!

Smart cats, too!

How to get the most mileage out of a single sunbeam.

Radiator, I love you, I love you, I love you!

Hey! There's more than enough room in here for both of us.

This heat lamp is MINE, all MINE!

So, how cold is it? It's so cold...

*  Hitchhikers have been holding up pictures of a thumb.
* A recorded message at the  911 center says to call back in the spring.
* I saw a squirrel throwing himself at an electric fence.
* My friend chipped a tooth on her soup.
* The old lady across the street couldn't believe how badly her teeth were chattering on Tuesday night. They were sitting in a glass at the time.
* Chickens have been running into KFC, and begging to be thrown into the deep fryer.
* Starbucks started selling coffee on a stick.

                        Have a super toasty weekend. Hope to see y'all on Monday!

                          Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.

Friday, January 22, 2016

One Block at a Time

Thought for the day:  During darkened conditions a bare foot can serve quite well as an inexpensive device for finding every missing LEGO®  left lying on the floor. 

When we were kids, we played with erector sets and Tinkertoys, which are both probably considered far too dangerous for children to have in today's world. Too many sharp edges, I suppose. As opposed to LEGOs®, which are definitely more colorful, and allegedly much safer. (Ever step on one of them? They feel pretty darned sharp to me...)

At any rate, they're a lot of fun for kids of all ages. (Just between you and me, Smarticus and I may or may not have been known to remain on the floor assembling some of those brightly-colored marvels long after the grandchildren have lost interest and moved onto something else.)

When we visited the Atlanta Botanical Gardens in 2014, I shared some pictures of the fabulous  mosaicultures they had on exhibit. Well, towards the end of last year, we visited the new branch of the Gardens, located in Gainesville, where a LEGO® exhibit was on display. Let's just say the stuff they had there is a heckuva lot more sophisticated than I ever imagined anyone building with those blocks. Wanta see...?

This first one is rather simple. (Albeit, beyond my skill level.) It shows a couple squirrels and birds at a feeder.

Here's a closer look at a couple of the birds.

A gardener tending a plant.

A true-to-life sized roto-tiller.

A sundial.The bushes surrounding the dial had clocks hanging from them. (Yes, that's my shadow... time for me to pay more attention...)

A hummingbird and trumpet plant.

A mallard duck and his babies... and an egg.

Praying mantis.

A woodpecker on a tree that's wrapped in a web of red yarn.

A majestic bald eagle.

A corn snake... according to the sign at the gardens. According to my brother, who KNOWS his snakes, it's actually a milk snake.

And a monarch butterfly.

Pretty cool, huh? The gardens in Gainesville are considerable smaller than the ones in Atlanta, but they're still quite lovely, and feature lots of walking trails through the surrounding woods, too. It made for a terrific way to spend a beautiful day in the great outdoors.

Oh, and check out this picture. This most impressive LEGO® knight and dragon weren't at the gardens; I found this pic on morguefile. The things some talented people can make out of these simple, but ingenious, blocks, is nothing short of amazing. Seems to me, there must be some sort of lesson to be learned from this...

There is strength in numbers. When the bricks stick together, great things can be accomplished. [Steve Klusmeyer]

And that's all from this brick... or more like blockhead... for now.

                            Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.