Sunday, April 3, 2016

of gardens and babies and greying hair...


My last season in this garden we've created over the past 23+ years is bound to be bittersweet, but I'm doing my best simply to focus on the joys. And this osmanthus delavayi is chief among them right now. As fresh as its white flowers are against its deep green foliage, looks aren't its best attribute. In fact, it's probably better positioned as a backdrop than as a specimen planting, given its slight tendency to sprawl. But oh, the cloud of fragrance it brings to the garden for weeks in the spring. . . Delicious! I'm thinking I might be able to find a small one to put in a planter on whatever balcony my new home might feature. Worth dreaming about anyway.

Speaking of sprawling tendencies,I'm  currently trying to rein in a post I've been working on about why we're moving, and, more specifically, why now. It's tough editing, it turns out, and I seem to be spilling my life history onto the page. No matter how I trim, I think I have a two-parter coming up, and I think I'll wait until I have both figured out before clicking Publish on either. 

And I'm also determined to post my Progress Report on Life in the Grey Lane. To that end, I clicked this selfie the other day


Now I just need to find a few Before and Along The Way photos, and I'll have a hair-greying story for you. Stay tuned...

Meanwhile, in other Selfie action, this happened
Peaceful as she looks, this was preceded by much sobbing, as I was preventing Roman Toddler from sitting on her mom's tummy and demanding attention during a dental hygienist appointment (a scheduling error had somehow put Mom and Dad in separate chairs only 15 minutes apart, and the receptionist's kind offer to hold our little one hadn't convinced Young Visitor from Rome -- I had just plugged the kettle in, 1.5 kilometres away when we got the phone call, but all thoughts of tea were abandoned and I executed a rescue within 15 minutes -- Go Nana!). Still, if walking a sobbing toddler back and forth in a mall, eliciting the sympathy of strangers, is the price a Nana must pay for a half hour sitting in a dental office waiting room with a finally slumbering babe? I'll pay it, and again. Toddler and her parents are currently occupying our place in the city, but they're coming to hang out on the island next weekend for one last visit. Can't wait.

Do chime in, if you would, on the pleasures of fragrant shrubs such as my Osmanthus; of sobbing and/or slumbering babes whether in the vicinity of dental offices or otherwise; of greying hair (although you might want to hold off on that until the conversation I imagine might build up when I actually post THAT post). . . or on how the weekend's winding down for you; your plans for next week. . . or just wave a simple hello. Use your words, on the keyboard and screen, or simply send thoughts my way via telepathy -- I'm waving back! See me?







56 comments:

  1. Hyacinths. Not a shrub but they have to be my favourite Spring bulbs. Closely followed by muscari, tulips, snowdrops, crocus and daffs. It's the heady scent that does It for me and the strong colours in the weak spring sunshine.

    So here I am waving a hyacinth at you and cheering your baby wrangling by raising a cup of tea to you. Bottoms up.

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    1. Spring bulbs are all wonderful, but you're right that hyacinths have the best scent if it's heady you're looking for. Tea and hyacinths -- a very good way to start a day! Thank you!

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  2. I have these poor geraniums on the balcony that I cut back every year and on they go.. They remind me of villages in France and Spain where geraniums seem to be everywhere. I just had a conversation with Mum about getting older and grey hair.
    She had not seen me as older until she looked at photos on my last blog. BUT she had not noticed herself growing older until she saw a recent photo. Life does march on.

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    1. I've never bothered with geraniums, but perhaps I'll pick up a few pots for my balcony, once I have one, and consider myself very European.
      As for your mom's observation, it gets us back to that notion of whether a camera's truth is the most valid one. . . Are we as old as we feel or as we look or . . . ? I remember teasing my dad, who had teased me when he noticed my first grey hairs, that if I was old enough to be turning grey, well, he was so old that he had a grey-haired daughter! So long ago now, and I won't dare ask my daughter if she's covering any grey ;-)

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  3. I retired at 57 in part because my daughter (who lives and works overseas) had to come to the US to give birth. Those five months were the most hectic/exhausting/simply wonderful months in the last 20 years. Holding the downy head of a sleepy grandchild- it doesn't get better than that. Enjoy every moment!

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    1. That's a very good reason to retire early, isn't it?! Sounds as if you wouldn't have missed those five months no matter how much bigger your pension could have been. . .

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  4. Yes, I see you! Lucky that you were around to answer the call and swoop Roman Toddler into your arms.

    We've had a busy weekend - last night Dinner Club, the theme was Morocco, everything was delicious and the company was hilarious as usual. This morning after church we attended a breakfast fundraiser for the Syrian family that our church is co-sponsoring with another parish. Hubby and I were on one of the committees (gathering small household goods and helping move furniture in) and it was lovely to meet the family finally. They are very appreciative but, to be honest, we all gained a lot as well - it was fun to work on the committee!

    Any bites yet for the house? I'm guessing that next weekend will be difficult for Roman Daughter - last time in her childhood home.

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    1. Sounds like a great weekend, although you might be recovering today from so much activity. I admire and envy you for that connection with a refugee family. Wonderful to be able to pass along some of the good fortune we enjoy here.
      Report on the house soon, but yes, the market is active!
      As for Roman Daughter, she's probably the one least attached to this home -- she enjoyed it when it was just our recreational property, but we moved here when she was in Grade 11, and she had a much longer commute to her school. Plus last ferry at 10 p.m., not ideal for a teen!

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  5. Oh yes, the lovely fragrance of osmanthus. I have lived/traveled often in Asia where it is popular and loved. In one city I have spent much time in, there is a common breakfast porridge "flavored" with it. I hope you can take some with you, a continuing memory that brings other memories with it.

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    1. Fascinating -- I'm going to take a deep sniff and think porridge as I go past my osmanthus today. . .

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  6. Spring has so many great fragrances, lily of the valley, French hyacinths, viburnum (perhaps carlissi?), I don't know osmanthus, perhaps its too tender for here?

    Baby heads have a great smell too.....lucky you to have both around for a while.

    Ceci

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    1. My osmanthus delavayi is hardy to about 10 below C, I think, although we only get those temps every other winter. . .
      And it's true, the fragrance of a baby's head is probably my favourite smell.

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  7. Babe looks very content now Nana!
    Love your grey curly hair and wonder if you notice any difference in texture now that you have stopped colouring it?
    Your post on moving must be a real tough one to write and edit...I can only imagine how conflicted you must be after 23 years in that idyllic location.

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    1. I'm not sure there's a difference to the texture of the hair itself -- right now, any difference I note is to the nature of the curl at this particular length, and I'm still playing with that to see where I'll settle.
      It's true, there are many emotions to process around this move . . .

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  8. I'll say a word for the common, humble, hardy lilac...which thrives here without care and can be found growing in farm dooryards long after the farmhouses are gone. It is the smell of spring after a long, frozen winter.

    Love the grey...and it is especially nice with a grey sweater.

    Isn't it nice to be able to come to the rescue? (And it will make a sweet, funny story to tell her some day..."Your mum phoned...you were crying so hard...no one could get you to stop...I turned off the kettle and ran down the street...")

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    1. I love lilac! I'm really going to miss the two scrubby trees I inherited here, probably 40 years old by now, but flowering richly and fragrantly each May, despite the winter's battering by salt and wind, close to the seashore as they are. It makes me sad, actually, that they're being replaced everywhere by trendier shrubs in -- we're losing some of those great old plants, imho.
      Yes, I felt quite heroic striding through the downtown streets to play SuperNana to the rescue, and I'll look forward to telling that story to a (hopefully) rapt six-year old ;-)

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  9. Just a little bit ahead of you, final week of packing before we move into our downsized apartment. I will miss my garden, but my knees just aren't up to it anymore. Luckily, we will have a large courtyard, so plenty of room for pots and our two little dogs. We have disposed of so much stuff, one way or another, it's quite cathartic. I'll be very relieved when it's all over!

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  10. So good to be near grandchildren/children when something goes wrong (or good!)
    I googled a bit ( so nice that you all call your plants in latin-we use usually only croatian names) ,you have to plant your osmanthus in pots,it could be a room plant as well as balcony plant
    My grandmother planted two flowering bushes of something beautiful (?!!?) from her garden near our garden door,such a beautiful memory. My magnolia soulangeana (aka only magnolia here!) just started with its gorgeous flowers
    Your hair has beautiful steel colour.
    Looking forward for your two part post!
    Dottoressa

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    1. Not sure why I got in the habit of using Latin horticultural names, but it clears up so much confusion, I find, and when else do I get to use my high school Latin?!
      That very magnolia has just come into flower in our area as well -- I haven't had one since we left our very first little house, 35 years ago -- we went back to see how it had grown, but the new owners seem to have moved it or cut it down. . . I love the idea of your grandmother planting something from her garden into yours.

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  11. A timely post - have spent some of the weekend thinking about a replacement for two hydrangeas which have expired, and leaning towards something fragrant. Even if it is only for 2 years. I"m looking for fragrance in spring, and colour in autumn, and not too big for my small suburban plot. Anything you're growing that fits that bill? Fragrance seems to go with evergreen as far as I can see, unless you go as far as small trees such as lilac, which is too big for me.
    Oh the bliss of grandchildren. I am crossing fingers that this will be us, but one never knows.
    As for winding down the weekend - making a chorizo and chard 'big soup' with chard from the allotment. Rustic and garlicky and served with toasted sourdough brushed with olive oil and rubbed with a garlic clove. Hmm, perhaps that wasn't too kind on our respective office colleagues today...

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    1. Hmmm, nothing like that in my garden, and you're right: generally, spring fragrance seems to come in evergreen shrubs. But I did a bit of research, and I think Fothergilla major would do what you want. Also Abelia mosannsis and/or Ribes odoratum.
      That soup sounds wonderful, and your colleagues simply need to step up their own garlic consumption!

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  12. Hi Materfamilias
    I am currently in charge of the first grandchild -- 7 month old boy --- whose parents are having 2 nights away. The first time his mother has been away from him. We know each other very well as I have spent a lot of time with him since his birth as his mother has needed a lot of support and reassurance for various reasons.
    It is such a privilege and honour to be trusted with them isn't it? My task is to follow his mother's instructions re food and naps but we're also going to have some fun.
    And Georgia is so right -- I'm going to start working now on a store of funny stories for the future.
    I thought I had an Osmanthus in my garden -- but it doesn't look like yours! Smaller leaves, white flowers but no smell -- have to get the gardening book out to identify it.
    And yes, Ceri in Bristol, there is a frisson in discovering someone with the same name -- especially via Canada!
    Very best wishes to you all from London
    Ceri in London

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    1. A privilege and honour indeed, and I can imagine how appreciative those parents are. Even if they can't quite pick up the lost habit of a full night's sleep, they can lounge in the morning as long as they want. . . such a luxury after seven months of putting a little one's needs first.
      Very pleased to have united you two Ceri's here. My last physiotherapist was a Ceri as well, her mother having hailed from Wales...Can I assume that the two of you are also Ceridwen on your official certificates?

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    2. No, just plain Ceri for me. Such an unusual name when I was growing up in England that I seldom encountered another. One in the 13 years I was at school, 1 in the three years as an undergrad. Turns out she was the sand one. More about now and for boys too in Wales (really don't get that). Usually mispronounced or mid spelled so I have become adept at recognising it in all manner of formats. Hence being Starbucks Mary when confusion is threatened. Contrary to the ethos of A Boy Named Sue, we gave our children names which cannot be misunderstood...

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    3. Hi Materfamilias and Ceri
      I am a real Welsh Ceri and have never met another girl with that name! There were several boys at university in Wales with me but since I have now lived in London for longer than I ever lived in Wales and have never again encountered another Ceri - male or female! I tolerate all the mis-spellings with what I hope is resigned good humour -- and no, I'm not Ceridwen or Cerian (as I would have preferred) but just Ceri and christened as such.
      Greetings on a very sunny lorning in London.

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  13. Saw two beautiful magnolias today in full bloom - one up the front wall of a cottage, the other all graceful in a front garden. Such bounty at this time of year. I have pots of tiny, fragrant narcissi just bursting out beneath the kitchen window. Cheery.

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    1. Hard to beat a magnolia bloom for beauty, even among all the other riches of the spring garden. Keeping the little narcissi close by, though, is a good way to appreciate the smaller pleasures that otherwise drown among the largesse.

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  14. A www, all sleeping babies are adorable, but even more so in your arms. As for the hair, I know I sound judgemental, yet when I see women who are decidedly elders with dye, it evokes a wistful sadness in me. Something about it suggests a refusal to accept and look wonderful as she is, not as she was. And yet it took quite a reckoning for me to do it. I loved that red but one day it did not love me back!

    So many changes in your life now, ma! Two part post or more!

    and look wonderful as she is, not as she was.


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    1. I wasn't ready and wasn't ready and wasn't ready for the grey, and then all of a sudden I was curious. . . and I try not to be judgemental, too, but some heads just scream out a dissonance, an unwillingness or inability to accept an unstoppable reality, so I share that wistful sadness.
      It does seem as if two parts might just be the beginning!

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  15. I am younger, with less gray, but I look forward to embracing mine. And yet I recognize my fortune in going gray later than many of my friends, of the difficulty of being a graying woman in the workforce, of so many things. I wish we could just be ourselves...

    And the sweetest sleep is a baby worn out from fussing, and happily held in loving arms.

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    1. I have to admit that I wasn't quite willing to do the grey until I'd left my spot at the lectern. And I have no idea what other workplaces would have felt like from a grey perspective. I share your wish, though...

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  16. I see you, Frances, and I feel for you too! Leaving your home and garden of 23 years is a huge step to take and I am looking forward to finding out more about the reasons - I gather there is a lot to do with family and being close to family is hugely important. Glad you could do a quick rescue!

    You could try taking cuttings of some of your favourite shrubs - a lovely continuity there (time permitting of course).

    As for the grey hair, I have a confession to make. I have never coloured my hair, probably because it was always such a strong colour (I did wish for blond hair in my 20s though). The grey is only slowly winning - lucky genes I guess but I see no reason to change the pattern of a lifetime.

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    1. I have thought of cuttings and of potting-up, but given that we don't know where we'll be next, and that we're already going to be paying for storage of furniture, I've decided just to enjoy for now, be grateful for what I've had, and Let! Go! Quite sure the botanic garden I plan to buy a membership in will have all these for me to enjoy.
      Lucky you, with your hair colour! I certainly wouldn't change pattern now if I were you. I suspect in such hair, the grey will actually add a richness of texture.

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  17. I have the same lovely flowering bushes as a hedgerow along our driveway at a home we have in Cape May NJ. The scent makes me swoon.
    I also moved out of our long time lived in home a few years back. I walked around taking pictures of all the trees and bushes I had planted through the years. Memories of why they came to be part of our yard tugging at my heart. (The house didn't sell, we have since moved back in, long story) Just reading the words you wrote about your move brings back the feelings I had when we were moving and packing.
    I too have become a member of the "let the grey grow in" group.
    The pic of you makes me smile. Of course the pic of the sleeping baby is precious. How great it is to be able to drop everything or nothing much and go to the rescue of our sweet grandchildren. Your words made me feel like I have a sister friend out there going through so many of the same things...
    Thank you

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    1. Thank you, RHague! Happy to have a sister friend who's clever enough to have a hedgerow of osmanthus -- I'm swooning myself at the thought of so much fragrance. That moving out and back in sounds very taxing. . .

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  18. Keep going with the hair. It's looking good.

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  19. I can imagine it was a wonderful feeling to be able to be there for your daughter and grandaughter and the relief for all when she settled in your arms.Such a special picture....contentment
    Your hairs looking good too ...you suit the curls.
    Hope this week goes well for you all.
    Rosie

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    1. Thanks, Rosie -- yes it was a very good feeling indeed!

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  20. Spring flowers are probably my favourite, particularly snowdrops. Daffodils are so bold, jolly and confident, who couldn't like them? Still waiting for my cherry blossom and magnolia to burst forth, it's a wee bit cold yet here in Scotland for them to bloom. Beautiful photograph of bonny baby and happy granny X

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    1. So you still have the cherry blossoms and magnolia to look forward to!

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  21. You are very blessed to have curls in your lovely gray hair. I started going gray at about 38, but luckily, I had very thick, wavy hair. As I've gotten older, the hair is still thick, but straight. It's kind of driving me crazy.

    As for the baby, I'm enjoying all your posts. New grandbaby (the first) just arrived three weeks ago and I fly to California tomorrow to see her for the first time. I love being called "Grandma."

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    1. I've heard of people losing their waves or curls with age. You're lucky yours is thick, and I have to say that I've spent some time envying straight . . .
      Such an exciting meeting you'll have had today -- Congratulations Grandma!

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  22. I see you. And I send you smooches.

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  23. Hallooooo up there! Here I sit with the fragrance of a wonderful dinner wafting through the house but I am cranky because it is not for me and mine, but for a work potluck dinner.
    I love the image of Nana to the rescue - cue that music from 1950's westerns - you know, the bit when the cavalry came to the rescue. I can just see you dashing through crowds, leaping over hydrants and arriving in the nick of time.
    No crying babies here, but dental appointments for my mum who retains all of her good convent manners and is entirely appropriate for every appointment - just very, very confused.
    So there you go - a hallooooo from me to you - and I like your hair very much so far.

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    1. At least one hydrant, absolutely, in my best pole-vaulting style! ;-)

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  24. Lovely osmanthus, if you enjoy the scent can I recommend Roger & Gallet Osmanthus shower gel, a small but lovely indulgence.
    The whole grey hair thing is generating a lot on the blogs at the moment - see the current that's not my age post and comments -your grey curls are lovely by the way. I feel really conflicted, like with lots of other things I think women should do what feels most comfortable for them. I'm in a minority, I think of not being terribly grey at 57 and getting it tinted at the hairdressers quarterly. As you know I've gone back to acting in the last couple of years and with my current look I'm cast from about 45-55. I know that if I decide to "go grey" I will immediate be catapulted into a 65 plus bracket which ironically grey hair is compulsory! So I'm not ready for the consequences and I'm also a bit bored with women who seem to need to use their own lifestyle decisions as a means to belittle anyone who has a different choice! What do you think?

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    1. I've made a note, Maureen. Roger and Gallet packaging always makes me happy anyway, and Osmanthus? Even better!
      I think the decision to go grey or to dye our hair is intensely personal, and there are so many different factors. Even if you didn't have the very solid reason of keeping your casting options open, I think the rest of us should keep our judgements to ourselves. I'll admit that I'm pleased the movement to stay grey is growing, making the choice increasingly viable, which, in turn, will start to break down stereotypes about what grey signifies, what "old" means. But I don't think belittling others or proselytising about our choices is right, absolutely not.

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  25. Waving to you from a northern suburb of Los Angeles! Today is to be 90. Tomorrow 69. Our drought-stricken landscape hardly knows what to do! Our freesia bulbs and Brunsfelsia shrub send out a sweet fragrance. Hope today's heat doesn't dry up everything.
    Your photo of soft gray curls is beautiful and matches the persona I sense on this blog. Kind, thoughtful, self-aware, contemplative...
    I call them grandma blessings...those precious moments that attach me to my four. I just experienced one last week on the day I turned 67. If I could, I'd send the photo. Enjoy!
    My husband says, "if I had known how wonderful our grandkids are, I would have had them first!"

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    1. Oops! Charlene H.

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    2. Whoa! That is way too warm -- and also far too much of a spread in temps.
      I had to look up Brunsfelsia -- it's not hardy here, apparently, but sometimes kept indoors through the winter and put out in the garden or on a deck for the warmer months.
      Your husband's saying is very cute! They are pretty great, grandkids, pretty great!!

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  26. There's really nothing to beat being a Granny . And you've obviously got the knack !

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  27. When we downsized, I wandered my gardens trying to decide what one plant I really needed to get me through the gray winter days downtown. As we were eating breakfast in our ensuite garden one day, I looked over at a potted olive tree and knew that was it. I love watching the play of light and wind in its branches, and because it does not lose its leaves, I can always imagine as I look at it that I am just enjoying a rainy day in the Mediterranean.

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    1. Smart choice -- an olive tree really does conjure that magical part of the world, and hey, a rainy day in the Mediterranean is still a day in the Mediterranean, even if only in imagination. I like your thinking!

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I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

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