Monthly Archives: June 2017

My Mother’s Geraniums

On Aurora’s Eastside, near Copley Hospital, in a neighborhood which no longer exists, once stood the house in which I grew up. On either side of the steps of our abbreviated front porch, my mother had two large decorative concrete urns in which she planted geraniums. Bright red geraniums, with a spike plant in the center for accent, and a bit of ivy trailing down from the edges.

I always loved those geraniums, and a few years ago I started the tradition of planting geraniums of my own. While I don’t have decorative urns, but rather a clay-colored plastic pot from Menard’s, I duplicate, as well as I can, my mother’s geraniums.

Being distracted this year by the ability to plant flowers in actual dirt, those in pots got a bit of a late start, but once begun seem to be doing well. Picking out this year’s plants at the flower factory, I was careless and among my bright red geraniums, I had inadvertently selected a white one as well. I thought about changing it out, but decided to leave it as it was. A decision I’m happy with.

Of my flowers, potted or free-range, I think the geraniums are my favorite for several reasons. One, they are just pretty to look at. Two, when I’m outside I can rub my finger along the stems, and smell that geranium smell. (I do this with the tomatoes, too).

Three, it turns out that the single white blossom adds a whimsy to the array, which I enjoy. And lastly, and perhaps most importantly, when I’m sitting at my computer, and look out through the patio door at my geraniums, they always remind me of my mother.



You don’t see hollyhocks much anymore. Or at least I don’t. Oh, I know there are a number of varieties, none of which seem to be prevalent in the areas I frequent. And to me they’re not true hollyhocks anyway. I’m talking about the old-fashioned kind, which when you’re a kid, are much taller than you are, and seemed to grow not so much in gardens but around garages in the alleys of Aurora’s east side.

In some ways, alleys were more interesting to the kids of my time, that is to say the 1950s. Well, the boys anyway. There was always something fascinating in the alleys that captured our interest to a greater degree than what could be seen from the sidewalk out front. Backyards, garages and workshops — on our block in the mid-50s there were even two guys building a small airplane in a one car garage. Fascinating.

And gardens. If you like flowers, which I did, the alleys offered a greater floral variety. There was an elderly lady a couple of houses to the east of ours on Weston Ave, a Mrs. Hayes, as I recall, who had a wonderful garden which extended from the back of her house all the way to, of course, the alley. When walking the alley behind our house – perhaps on an errand to the Buy-Rite Market for a pound of oleo, or some other commodity which my mother was out of — I could pause at her garden and enjoy the sights.

And directly across the alley from Mrs. Hayes’s garden was a garage festooned on either side with hollyhocks, the real old-fashioned kind. The kind with big round fuzzy leaves, and flowers which, as I was once shown, could be picked off, the petals turned down and held, transforming the blossom into a ballerina. I didn’t care much about ballet dancers at the time, but I thought the trick was pretty neat.

Now, in my new little house, I have the ability at last to plant my own flowers. And while it may not be a designer’s dream, my little plots and spaces contain mostly things that I like, or fondly remember, such as hollyhocks.

I was pleased to discover in the last couple of days that while still tiny, the plants are already producing flowers. Since I remember hollyhocks as being taller than the eight or nine-year-old me, this is something unique in my experience. The picture I have herein attached is the very first of my hollyhock flowers, and I’m proud of it. I am also pleased that this particular plant, the runt of the litter so to speak, was the first to bloom. I’m looking forward to many more.

Being Retired

After moving from Milwaukee, and renting a small house, I am settling into being an elderly retired person. I have TVs in three locations, each connected to the cable and the recorded shows queue. Two have Blu-Ray players attached. My “Office”, which shares space with my bedroom (where a nap may be had) has computer, printers, and necessary equipment. On the computer are various projects — for the company for which I am still doing some work (which is enjoyable, and more like a hobby), and things that I am writing, and photos to sort, or process, or print. Plus all of the usual stuff, as well.

If I get up to heat up my coffee, or make some more, I may take time to check the mail, or wander into my little workroom, where other projects await my attention. I may rather step outside to see if the flowers or the tomatoes need tending. Or a few steps further to the garage where the velocipede (bicycle to you) is parked.

The point of this ramble is that, at any given moment, I am doing precisely what I choose to do. And that, I think, is the very definition of being retired.