Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Perseveration 'R Us

Safety Guy at Burnside Bridge, Antietam Battlefield, MD, 2012.

I love Safety Guy.  He's one awesome young man.  He's a guy of many interests. And, like most people with Aspergers, he has some very intense interests.  He's always had quite a handful of them, actually - he's never focused on one to the exclusion of all else, but rather cycled precisely and intensely through his interests.  I've never really minded his obsessive tendencies, since his interests have all been socially appropriate and a great learning experience.  It actually made it easy to home school him, because I could tailor lessons around his "hot topics." 

(Oh, how many times I've been grateful that his favorite topics haven't been icky, dangerous, or socially inappropriate!  I used to tell my husband, "Just be grateful he's not stuck on toilets and plungers.")

Lately (well, like for the last 6 months) his perseveration has been centered around cars, with a swirling vortex of related topics.  He's been watching 'Top Gear' (UK) a lot, talking about traffic jams and watching YouTube videos of traffic in major cities, talking about purchasing his first car and how he'll modify it (sound system, brush guards, paint job), watching movie car chases, checking out crash tests and specs for every car under the sun, and even writing a script for a cop show.

He's pretty good about changing the topic when I ask him. Sometimes there's only so much "car talk" I can process.  I have to say, though, that I've had to learn a LOT about cars to keep up with him and sound like I have a clue as we discuss his car-related topic of the moment.  And he's even been picking up on social cues related to his perseveration (he'll ask, "Am I boring you?" or say, "I'll give you a break now.").  It's all good.

Because he's almost 15, more and more of his mental energy is focused on that great milestone of teendom, getting his learner's permit and (eventually) drivers' license.  He's actually been talking about this for about 3 years, off and on, but the closer the reality gets, the more he talks about it.  I think it's his way of processing the idea and the responsibility, and I'm okay with the long lead-up to this stage of his life.  In the end, I'm sure he'll be a responsible driver.  Heaven knows he's watched enough PSAs about driving (for fun - really, he does watch PSAs on YouTube).  He's inoculated himself more thoroughly against all sorts of risky driving behaviors than any driver's ed program or health class ever could.  So I'm not that nervous about him driving, at least any more than the average parent might be.

I wouldn't mind a short break from the car talk, though.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Around The Garden

We've been having a serious heat wave (like all of the Northeast), and the garden is loving it.  Here are some photos from this week:

The deck and the beds around it.  The daylilies are in full bloom, as is the hydrangea.  The ornamental grasses are taking over the stairs.

 Another view of the back of the house.  The tall plants by the house are Nicotiana 'Jasmine,' my favorite annual.  They are extremely fragrant in the evening, and the scent carries on the air.  Gorgeous!

 One of my earlier seedlings, from 2007.  I call it 
'Sister Golden Hair,' after the song by America.

A simple denim-blue pansy in a container.

My seedling 'Oye Como Va', blooming in a clump.  
It gets a little more purple in hot weather.

 The long raised beds - perennials in the first bed, 
glads and veggies and annuals in the rest.

Ruby gladiolus - they're actually darker than this, 
but my camera doesn't do reds very well.

 The front of the house - the daylilies are in full swing.

Hosta flowers.

One last seedling, a rusty veined beauty with no name yet.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Looking Forward

Fourth of July 2013, view from a friend's dock on Oneida Lake.

I haven't had much to say about Safety Guy lately, but that's not because there's nothing going on.  He's had a fairly laid-back summer as far as activities go - counseling biweekly, his fitness class several times a week, swimming at the local pool occasionally, and lots of space for his favorite activities (iPod, Netflix and video games).  He's been doing extra chores to save money for a car.  He's mellowed out a bit from the stress of the spring, but anticipating the new school year is weighing on his mind, and on mine too.

Safety Guy is worried about going back to school in the fall.  He'll have different teachers and a different routine, but he'll still have the same kids in most of his classes, probably in much the same combinations as before.  He's afraid he'll be bullied again, and he's afraid he'll lose his temper.  I'm afraid this will become a self-fulfilling prophecy:  he expects to be bullied, so he'll be looking for excuses to react to provocation, and may actually make the situation worse before it has a chance to get better.  

I'm relying a lot on the new combination of teachers, which is a different setup than he had in junior high.  The past two years he had the same resource teacher all year, in all of his core classes and for a smaller math class.  He spent a lot of time with the same kids in the same combinations and with the same teacher.  And his resource teachers, while excellent each year, were not miracle-workers.  They had a tough combination of kids each year, with no breaks for any of them from each other or from the teacher, aside from lunch and two class periods for "specials" or study hall (which also usually included the same kids on the same schedule).  This year he'll have not one but FOUR resource teachers, one for each core subject area.  I'm hoping that having more eyes on the students and situations, with more space in the high school, will help avert smaller problems before they become big crises.  I know all of the resource teachers he'll be interacting with, and they're all very good at what they do.  I hope, oh how I hope, they can keep the upper hand on the teasing/picking/bullying and help Safety Guy navigate his freshman year without huge problems.  The second half of last year was just awful, and I do NOT want a repeat of that.

The other part of my anxiety for him is that I may not be working in his school.  I've been applying for full-time teaching jobs around our area, none of them in our school since the one I didn't get hired for in June.  So far I haven't heard back from any of them, and if nothing turns up I'll continue to sub in my kids' schools.  But if I do get a full-time position elsewhere, that will change our family dynamic once again.  And I really NEED a full-time job.  I'll have to continue to look for one even if I have to continue to sub day-to-day or long-term in our local district this fall.

I'm trying not to worry, but this weighs continually on my mind.  I fear for our son in school, for his own attitude and behavior, and the behavior of his peers toward him.  He's already convinced that the school in general is out to get him, that the teachers and administrators don't care that he's having all these troubles with a core group of students who tease him and bully him.  I can't assure him that these incidents won't happen again.  I can't tell him that it will be okay with any degree of confidence.  I won't lie to him, and so I can't really reassure him.  It's not so much IF something happens in school, it's WHEN.  And I hate that "waiting for the shoe to drop" feeling.  

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Mental Space

The front of the house yesterday.  The daylilies are in full swing now.

Introvert that I am, I'm really enjoying a (VERY) rare weekend by myself.  I have to say, it's been the most relaxing time I've had in I don't know how long, and it was way overdue.  The kids are off spending time with family, and I hope they're having fun.  I'm sure I'll hear all about it tomorrow when I go pick them up. It's been nice to have time just to suit myself, and be on my own schedule (or lack thereof).

I've been busy with plenty of mundane stuff, like mowing the lawn, which I did over two evenings - it's a lot of lawn to do with a push mower, and while I like the exercise, I'm not a fan of heat stroke, so I always do it in two chunks when the weather is warm.  Since it's supposed to be in the high 80s/low 90s all week, I figured I'd better get that chore done while it was in the high 70s so I could safely ignore the lawn for the week.  I also took pictures around the yard, daylilies and other stuff, because it's been SUNNY for more than two days in a row.  What a concept!

I spent three hours at the mechanic this morning, getting work on done on the van's brakes, which went kerflooey yesterday.  (Or rather, went from grabbing a little to full-out grinding and assorted other unpleasant noises in the space of a few minutes.)  It's not how I wanted to spend my Saturday morning, but I'm grateful for good mechanics, a pleasant place to wait for the repair, for the nearby Dunkin' Donuts to get breakfast and coffee while I waited, and for the means to do the repair right away.

I took care of the menagerie - fed the fish, cats, guinea pigs and the lizard.  I love our critters.  Cici has been my shadow all weekend, including appearing on the bed as soon as I wake up - whenever that is, middle of the night, crack of dawn, whatever.  She's a little klepto, and has taken to stealing small items from the kids' bedrooms during the night and bringing them into my bedroom.  Balls, rolled up socks, small stuffed animals, and pieces of Lego have all appeared on my floor in the night.

Cici giving me the "inscrutable lioness" look.

There was fun to be had this weekend, too.  I enjoyed a "wine and candle party" next door with a bunch of neighbors, where a representative from Gold Canyon Candles shared her fragrant wares.  In the end I bought a candle that smells like the desert around Sedona, Arizona (it really does - I've been there, good memories), and a box of tealights in a fragrance called jasmine lime citronella (tropical and fresh, but not cloying).  I enjoy candles, but I'm hyper-picky about fragrances, since many give me a headache. My neighbor had homemade baklava (delicious!) and a white moscato wine I'd never had before (it was very good).

Another seedling.  My camera doesn't do well with reds, 
and in spite of my tinkering this picture doesn't capture its real color.
In real life this flower is dark, rich,hot blood red 
with a darker black-red eye.  It really needs a good name.

I went to a movie - Despicable Me 2, which right there tells you that even without the kids, I'm still a kid at heart sometimes.  It was a fun piece of fluff for a matinee, but not as good as the original.

I also had a lot of fun going to an antique mall not too far from here.  It was in a big barn, on two floors, with over 50 vendors, and I looked at EVERYTHING, at my leisure, which was tremendously relaxing.  I'll have to tell my parents about it - they'd enjoy looking around there.

So, Laurel's Grand Day Out/Excellent Weekend In was a mix of practical, quiet and fun.  I enjoyed it a lot, and I'm very grateful to my family that enabled me to have some time to just relax and rediscover what it's like to be on my own.  But I miss the kids, and I'll be glad when they're home tomorrow night.  It's been quiet here. (Notice I didn't say TOO quiet.  I like quiet.  It can't BE too quiet for me.  But I still miss the kids!)

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Daylily Seedlings 2013

Anyone who has followed me for any length of time knows I like my daylilies.  I've got an embarrassing number of them, and I play with breeding them.  I've posted a tutorial on how to breed them, and I've shown pictures of my "babies" as they've matured.  

Time for another round of seedlings, ones that are finally maturing from being planted two years ago, and some new babies showing their faces for the first time this year.  Also, it's proof that breeding is a gamble - you never know what you'll get.  I have used purchased seed before, and gotten some fun flowers from that.  Most of these are from my own plants, except for the lavender one, and the last one.

A pretty, old-fashioned light peach flower, slightly ruffled on the petals, 
with a golden throat and light green center.  
Simple, and very fragrant.  No name yet.

A very unusual flower, an odd brown-mauve color with a ruby eye and yellow throat on both the sepals and petals, 
and striking red anthers.  No name yet.

An orange-gold seedling with a faint cinnamon eye.  I think this is an offspring of 'G. Willikers,' from my front yard, since they're very similar and I know I planted seeds from that two years ago.  Not unique enough for me to keep, but pretty enough I'll give it away.

A lovely, wide-petaled cream-peach flower with a green eye - very elegant.  I may name this one after my father's mother in some way.  It reminds me of her, and her name was Pearl.

A striking lavender flower with long petals and sepals - sometimes called a SPUF (spider flowered or unusual form) daylily.  The color is nice and clear, with a faint blue-lavender eye and a yellow throat, and lavender stamens.  No name yet, but it's a keeper - my only good lavender to date.  

And, the ugly duckling.  And I mean UGLY.  LOL, I'll give this a little time to finish blooming this summer, but if all the flowers are this splotchy and deformed, it will be composted.  I have had flowers that needed a couple years to show their true potential, but none of them started out THIS messy, and my garden space is limited right now.  So, out it goes!

This seedling I've called 'Foolish Heart,' and it took several years to settle into a consistent form.  However, it was nice from the start - it just bloomed about 8" tall, a real runt.  It's finally decided it wants to be about 20" tall in bloom - shorter than I usually like, but that flower is just drop dead gorgeous.  It was from purchased seed.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Summertime, Summertime

 The front of the house today - the daylilies are starting their bloom.

My goal for the summer was to keep the kids busy enough to be active and have fun, and have enough free time for everyone to just RELAX.  So far, we're not doing too badly.  

One of my seedlings, 'Foolish Heart.'

The Princess has had her first two horse shows, and she did very well.  She rides two days a week, plus a day of prep work before each show.  She has one more show coming up later this month.  For her first year riding, and her first year showing, she's doing amazing, and I'm very proud of her.

One of six blue ribbons she won - 
and she wasn't the only entrant.

Safety Guy has been participating in a fitness class (mixed cardio and weight training) three days per week.  He's been enjoying it, especially since it's a smaller group of teen guys and it's low-stress.  He's used his time to blaze through his workouts - his coach always has to ask him to slow down, but SG seems to have one speed for his workouts - full speed ahead.

I think of Bilbo's riddle to Gollum, 
where the answer was "sun on the daisies," when I see these.

I've been catching up on house cleaning, home organization, and garden work.  I've also been job-hunting, which has so far yielded ZERO results.  I did have the one interview late in the school year, but I didn't get that position.  I'm hoping that I can find something full time sooner rather than later.  Some things have happened to make finding a full time teaching position more important for me than ever.

This hasn't been a stress-free summer by any means, but I'm glad that the family changes have happened during a time frame where I've got more flexibility with my time, and space to think and pray and make decisions.  I hate being rushed into things, so I'm just trying to keep ahead of the tidal wave and accomplish a handful of productive things each day.  

Rare camaraderie between the Princess and SG 
on the Fourth of July.

We had a fun Fourth of July on Oneida Lake, at a friend's house.  The sunset was gorgeous, and the evening was beautiful and mostly relaxing (except for the somewhat drunk guy setting off fireworks without a clue as to safety, or where to aim them, or even whether they were right side up).  Oh, and except for the little boy who decided that it was fun to scare Safety Guy by running at him with a sparkler and saying, "I'm going to burn you!"  I wanted to smack the brat, and wished his parents had done something more than say, "No no, come back here," and give him no consequences. . . .

Sunset on the lake - I really would like to live on a lake someday.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Catching Up Outside

Winter-sown basil, two different kinds ('Genovese' and 
some generic "sweet basil" from the dollar store).

This has been a week of big changes in our family, so I've been using the garden to try to get some space to think and de-stress.  Not to mention, the garden needs attention or it will revert to chaos quicker than dismissal time before break at the junior high school. 

A candid shot of the (obviously unweeded) veggie bed.  
Tomatoes and butternut squash - time for tomato cages.

Thanks to all of the rain and warmth we've had recently, the garden is lush and growing like a weed.  Unfortunately, the weeds are growing like weeds too, and I'm slowly reclaiming lost ground from them, a bushel at a time.  I use a couple old dollar store laundry baskets for weeding - they're lightweight and easy to carry around.

The veggie garden is finally getting up to speed - still behind where we usually are, but making up for lost time.  The pole beans are just starting to climb, and the tomatoes and peppers are blooming.  Even the late-planted sunflowers are 6" high, so there's hope for fruits and blooms eventually.

One of my nicest seedlings from three years ago.  
I'm pretty sure it's an offspring from 'Fairy Tale Pink,' 
but it's original crossing tag is MIA.  
Whatever its parentage, it's a lovely color 
with a nice old-fashioned form.  It's a keeper.

My daylilies have started their explosion of bloom, and they are loaded with scapes and buds more than ever before.  Some of the more vigorous tetraploid ones (the ones with four sets of chromosomes instead of two, meaning they're usually more robust, with heavier leaves and often heavier blooms) have scapes thicker than my little finger.  I'll have to take some time-lapse photos of the front bed as it reaches its peak.

My daylily seedlings are starting to bloom as well - some of them are three years old now, and settling into their mature forms, and the younger ones are still in the "do I keep it or compost it" stage.  I need to tag the keepers as they bloom.  I still have to get this year's winter sown seedlings into a bed or large containers so they can get some good growth before winter.

The flowers on my only hydrangea, 'Quick Fire.'  
Believe it or not, this turns from pure white to dusky reddish-rose 
as the season progresses, before drying to a soft light beige.  
It's a lovely shrub, well worth the garden space.

Maybe I'll get another bushel or two pulled tonight.  The crab grass has sprouted and is threatening to take over the vegetable beds, while thistles are in the front of the yard.  Time to trim the salvias back so they can bloom again, too.  There's always something to do in the garden.

One of my oldest "seedlings," now a mature clump.  
It's not registered, but I call it 'Oye Como Va.'