Happiness is Old Friends Like Surprise Lilies

Do you have surprise lilies?n I had them in one house I lived in a long time ago. Mine were slender pale pink-violet lilies that shot up overnight, big things, in the middle of nothing, surprising the hell out of me even time, and after the first year, pretty much saying, “Hey, you, I was here the whole time.” They’re also known as Resurrection Lilies or Lycoris squamigera. I’ve been having a Lycoris period here, or maybe a resurrection New Year, with old friends who were not lost because we always knew we’d talk again suddenly popping up with news happy and sad but mostly just needing to connect, and I needed that, too. I love these people even if we go months without speaking and years without seeing each other. Some people are just surprise lilies, buried deep in your life and reappearing like a blast of joy out of nowhere. So good.

What made you happy this week?

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66 thoughts on “Happiness is Old Friends Like Surprise Lilies

  1. Aw, I could do with some surprise lily friends right now. My husband and I have been talking lately about how hard it is to make new friends and keep friends at this age. We’ve both had some newer friends drift away in the last year or so for various reasons and it does sting a little. I told the husband I don’t want to end up with no friends as the years go by (this is my mother who has only me and my dad as her social outlet), but for this year at least, I’m going to focus on putting my energies toward maintaining friendships rather than making new ones. If new ones happen, great but I’m not seeking them out for now. It does take emotional labor and effort and I just don’t have that in my right now.

    So I bought some Galentine’s cards (yes, it’s silly but it’s fun and I love Parks and Recreation) and sent them to my two closest friends. One who lives faraway and one who lives not so faraway but I don’t get to see as much as I like. Planting seeds to keep friendship going.

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    1. FWIW, if there’s a cause you’re passionate about, try volunteering. I met a BUNCH of folks by doing that, and a few of them are now friends for life. Plus, there’s the work itself, which is good too!

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      1. Hi Gin, I love volunteering. It’s actually what led me to my current job (ESL for adults). One of my volunteering friends is also one of the people that drifted away. It think we were starting to get on each others’ nerves in the classroom (co-teachers) and our lives are very different. I wish her well though!

        I may get back into it volunteering once I settle into my new job though.

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    2. Making new friends as an adult is hard work. Like you, I have friends who live far away who I see maybe once a year (plane tickets are expensive in Canada). Maybe FaceTime or Skype with your friends if possible? What about a book group? Many libraries have them – even if you don’t connect with anyone in the group, you’ll read books you might not have read on your own.

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      1. Hi Susan, yeah, my book club is another friend group that drifted away. The lady who ran it was a really the catalyst. She had some health problems and her life got busy so she stepped down. Other people tried to run it, but we were all acquaintances that drifted apart. I’ve thought about joining another book club, but the only one I’m interested in is across down on Friday evenings. I may try it, but I”d be doing it more for reading than friendship to be honest. I’m also in Italian class that I really enjoy, but I’m kind of skeptical if I would get a close friend out of that either group. We’re all wildly different, which makes class fun, but means we really only connect on our love of the language and of Italy (which is still nothing to sneeze at!)

        These are all really good suggestions! I’m not trying to be Debbie Downer. It’s just I feel like I’ve tried all the “make friends as an adult” tips and I’m starting to realize it’s not for me, at least not for right now. I make acquaintances easily (I’m great at chitchat, remembering little details about people, etc) but it takes a long time for me to really warm up to people and trust them. And I’d rather use that energy to stay connected to the friends I have. Maybe that’s something to reevaluate later, but I’m actually really content with where I am for now.

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    3. We have lots of acquaintances. We have good friends who live several hundred miles away with whom we have long phone conversations weekly. And we have a few who live locally that we see every month or so. We have volunteered for several groups and in my husband’s case he is very, very active in all of these. We have joined clubs. But it is still very difficult to form new, deep friendships. Most of the people we have meet this way are friendly but not necessarily good friends.

      My husband says we have to remember that to have friendships you have to make time for your friends, just like any other skill you want to stay accomplished in. Especially when you have had 40 to 50 years of putting the needs of your job and your family ahead of everything else.

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    4. What my mother did (might not have been her idea) was to start having an annual reunion with the dozen women she’d trained with as a student nurse. It went really well until about their mid eighties, when it got too difficult for enough of them to travel. They took it in turns to host the reunion (just for a day), and their husbands would come too but go off and do their own thing.

      Inspired by this, my two closest friends from university and I have been having an annual reunion over a weekend at each other’s homes for the past few years. The other two have been seizing the opportunity when their husbands go away.

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    1. Diane, I love all the native wild orchids. I planted several showy lady’s slippers that have survived for two years so far.

      A friend has shown me a patch of fringed gentian whose location she is trying to keep from public knowledge because so many endangered plants are being stolen. They bloom biannually and are beautiful.

      I cherish the spring ephemerals — those patches of tiny flowers that show up in lawns, woods, and elsewhere for a brief time, then disappear.

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      1. Elizabeth, I have a real fondness for fringed gentians. Not b/c I’m that familiar with the actual flower (I’m not sure I’ve ever seen one although I’ve definitely seen other gentians before), but b/c it’s a very important theme from one of my favorite children’s books A SUMMER TO DIE by Lois Lowry. It read it when I was 8 and it is the first book I can remember making me cry and laugh sometimes almost simultaneously. I still read it sometimes when I want to read something poignant and moving. The book also introduced me to the gentian poem by Emily Dickinson.

        8+
    2. Those lilies go by many different names. My husband, from Kansas, knew them as Mystery Lilies. He was shocked the first time I called them Naked Ladies, which was the name I knew growing up here in California. Whatever you call them, I’ve always thought they’re beautiful—and resilient, too, which is not a bad way to be.

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  2. Magnolias, I love magnolias, the pink and white ones. there is a bush down the street and there were buds so I will keep an eye on them. The sight always makes me happy.

    As for friends, I have been very passive, I see the a few that keep in touch and need to actually make an effort with the people I care about. It’s January and I actually have some energy, so trying to get in touch before I run out of steam.

    8+
  3. I get surprise crocuses in the fall. They’re supposed to flower then, and what they do is form big mounds of leaves in the spring, which die off over the summer, and then suddenly in the fall, there’s crocus flowers without any leaves. These are the same basic type of crocus that saffron is collected from.

    7+
    1. I have those from my house’s previous owner- 25 years ago. So delightful. I think of planting more but never do.

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  4. My 15 year old teenage granddaughter was over last week and reverted to the girl she used to be when she saw the portable herb garden we had brought in the house to winter over. Her eyes actually sparkled (I knew she was in there somewhere) in asking me how to make one. One with flowers. And now that I thought about it I could show her how to make it with bulbs and force them to grow in a planter. I know it takes me a while to come up with a plan.

    12+
  5. Lots of surprise lilies this week. DH bought me a lovely bouquet of early spring flowers – all pinks, which is my favourite. All of my Christmas amaryllis grew a third stem and two are still blooming. My big work project finished up on deadline, which made everyone in the organization happy. My boss and I took the project team out for lunch and it was nice to be out of the office and talk about something other than work. Yesterday, a friend and I spent the day at an outdoor nature spa. I was chilly when I wasn’t in a sauna or a warm pool but it was lovely watching the snow come down as we relaxed in the whirlpool.

    8+
  6. My happiness came in the form of a publishing surprise lily. A little over a week ago, my agent got a call from Berkley about the cozy mystery we sent out last October, with an offer for the first three books in the series.

    We’d pretty much figured the project was dead, and had been trying to figure out what I should write and send out next. (I’ve been trying to revive my fiction career since I lost my contract three years ago. Thank the gods for the nonfiction.) So this really did come out of nowhere, and was, to say the least, a VERY pleasant surprise.

    I finally announced online, so my happiness this week is that I get to share good news here. Ironically, two hours after I got that 4 PM afternoon call from Elaine, I got the message that mama foster cat Freya had finally been adopted. At the time, I wasn’t sure which piece of news made me happier. (Today, I’m going to go with the book deal.)

    On a different note, when I first moved into my house 18 years ago, the first few years were full of “I had no idea that was growing here!” surprises, including lots of lilacs, fuchsias, and a few very wild rose bushes.

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  7. Lilies are my favorite, and I have the same lilies pop up in my yard. It’s always a happy sight.

    My happy and sad thing for the week are the same. I have decided that it’s time for me to quit my job. I love the residents I care for, but the company that took over my department four years ago are not worth my mental and physical health. As a fan of Wicked, “it’s time to trust my instincts, close my eyes and leap.”
    Thankfully I have a supportive husband, and the fact that I finally got a solid eight hours of sleep last night must mean something.

    15+
  8. My happy thing this week was reaching out to a friend who I hadn’t heard from nearly as frequently as I normally do, and who has heavy mental stuff she’s carrying, and finally just saying bluntly are you ok? And she’s not, but she finally got back to me and said skype/ phone call was too much for her to deal with, but texting isn’t. So we’ve been texting, and it’s good to get her perceptiveness and sense of humor back in my life, and good to hear about the places where she’s hanging in there and finding comfort and moving forward.

    9+
  9. The yard around the house is not my yard. I rarely notice what grows in it unless the dotter comments on it.

    Inside the man-cave, there are only two surviving plants for me to overwater. One is a shoot of “lucky bamboo” in an ice cream cone “pot.” All its brothers and sisters declined to suffer my care, such as it is, and what there is of it. The other is a hanging plant. If forced to identify it, I answer “Greenus Plantus.” (The dotter could tell you kingdom, family, phylum, genus, light requirements,, age, sex, parents, children, whether or not its cousin Greenwort has completed medical certification…) It has a few brown leaves I haven’t plucked, but also a shoot or tendril or tentacle some six or eight feet long. I’m not sure where it thinks it’s going, but it isn’t going to escape!

    This week has been a mixed bag, including as it did several days of the uncommon cold, or possibly bronchitis. I was the poster boy for Nyquil and caused the tissue manufacturers to declare a dividend. I think I’m sufficiently over it to take the dotter to Sunday dinner and shopping, which will contribute to my happiness.

    An unqualified happy was spending two hour with Turbotax and electronically filing both state and federal returns. I’m pickled tink to be done with it for another year. Part of the happy was that although 85% of my Social Security was taxed by Uncle Sugar, Aunt Virginia declined to tax any of it at all.

    Another happy was finishing Death by Scones in the Danger Cove Mysteries. The evildoer surprised me – there were so many worthy suspects. The only commitment in the romantic subplot was to take things slowly. I loved it! On to the next one…

    Is it weird to take joy in new underwear and socks? If so, then I am weird. (But happy!)

    Down to the tinyest of things – I broke out the arctic appropriate coat the state issued me. It still fit (snugly). It was still all too toasty, which was why it was stored. And it had a five dollar bill in the left pocket. 🙂

    15+
      1. Forget that Walmart picture. Here is an article by Good Housekeeping’s Caroline Picard with a picture of hers, including a vine growing down her desk. She explains why she and I haven’t killed our pothoses. 🙂

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  10. My happy this week was helping the guy clean out the storage shelves at the bottom of the stairs so we had a place to put our new wine cooler (Christmas present, size of a refrigerator, very fancy. We need a big space for it). And it is clear that having all that stuff out of there and the shelf gone is going to change the space from looking quasi-basement to looking like an alcove to family room, which it really is. Today we paint. Sometime this week we move the wine out of the upstairs guest bedroom closet and I will have space to stow other stuff as I begin working on the rooms upstairs. Fortunately the main floor is done since we finished the breakfast room built-in china cabinets. Oh the joys of keeping up an almost 100 year old house.

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  11. I cleaned out my bathroom cupboard/cabinet (can it be a cupboard if it doesn’t house cups?) of fifteen years of oddments and old and expired medications. Shampoos no one used. Cold packs from when my children regularly sprained their ankles. (I’ve plenty of cold packs in the freezer for when I sprain things.) I get a lovely thrill every time I open the door to get something. It’s all organized. Everything has a place. AND I got the towels in there too.

    The writing has also been making me happy. It’s still so easy. I’m sure that will change eventually, but I have a solid idea of what I want this book to feel like. That helps.

    11+
  12. Yesterday when I was heading out to do grocery shopping and so on, I noticed the carcase of an unfortunate squirrel lying in the street near my driveway. I think it probably fell from the electric wires overhead. Two crows had been inspecting it as I first left the house, but they decamped when I drove in their direction. Came back a few hours later and was putting the library books and groceries away when my husband asked me to come over and tell him what that animal in the street might be.

    To my surprise, it was a turkey vulture standing near the ex-squirrel and surveying its surroundings. It sort of strolled first in one direction a few steps, then turned and looked all around, and strolled in another direction to do the same thing. Then it walked over to inspect the carcase, followed by another tour of the area around it — all of it an open suburban street, luckily without passing cars at that point.

    We watched it for almost ten minutes, while it finally began its dissection, standing on the body and bending down to carefully lift shreds of meat, then swallow them. At one point it lifted the whole body in its beak, shook it a bit, and let it plop down in a new position before the dissection started again.

    After the ten minutes, a wretched auto came up the road, and the giant wings spread out and our vulture left for other parts. But it was an amazing nature moment to be that close to a bird I’d only seen flying a long way above me.

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    1. “But it was an amazing nature moment to be that close to a bird I’d only seen flying a long way above me.
      Um… were you sunbathing at the time? Just curious…

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      1. Aww…. that’s so sweet of you! I don’t actually look that much like a dead squirrel, but it’s kind of you to say so.

        Actually, I sometimes see several circling way high above the highway I drive to work, but I’ve never seen one directly in front of me. Walked kind of like a turkey, it did.

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  13. I got to read all three witches in the Macbeth reading at WB. MET AND CHATTED WITH MANY OF THE WONDERFUL cast. Worked on AP BIO at Universal. I played doll house lady so t I worked in a shop full of wonderful dollhouses and other beautiful set details.
    My best friends and my grandkids visited this weekend. Made two kinds of cookies and the weather is gorgeous. Happiness has me in its tendrils.

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  14. I planted my six new raspberry canes, making the first of my new allotment beds. Have had a great couple of days with an old friend, who’s very taken with my new home. Also with the local independent garden centre and with Powis Castle, which we visited today. She brought the DVD of ‘Rocket Man’ (the Elton John bio), which was great fun. I also found one of the roses I’m after at a great price – and bought composted manure and mycorrhizal fungi, so
    I’m all set to start planting the fences.

    9+
  15. My happiness this week came just before I got home tonight and logged on. My friend from Minneapolis called and asked if I was available Friday afternoon. I have been sending him multiple Christmas and birthday cards in an effort tempt him down for a visit. Fortunately for me, he is coming down to see another friend and managed to fit me in. Usually, I get Sunday nights and all the restaurants I want to try are closed. Of course, a lot of places aren’t open for lunch, but it will be fun looking for new things to show him. I hope the weather cooperates so we can check out some new neighborhoods.

    Looking for places to show him will be good for me, too, because it will stimulate my will to get out of the house during the dog days of winter.

    8+
  16. It’s been A Week, y’all. Like I am exhausted today. It has been a very up and down week. Since this is the happiness thread, I will spare you the down sides of my week as best I can, but focus on the nicer bits.

    Sunday: found out from a friend of mine that her psychic friend predicted I wouldn’t find true love for another three years and it’s unclear as to with who. Blah blah blah HE’S NOT READY YET BACK OFF GIRL stuff, sigh. I really hate how we drill it into women that we will scare a guy off if we’re interested and he finds out (okay, he knows), but that parade goes through my head like, constantly.

    Tuesday: on the way to karaoke, I had a little conversation with God in the car about how while I’ve been getting shit tons of synchronicities and signs about the crush, now that I got this other message, I’m seriously wondering about this now and could you give me a sign about whether or not to stick with this one or move the hell on. Dude was not supposed to be at karaoke this week because he had tech week rehearsal until ten, but he came in, and well, sang “Is This Love” while looking at me. So….there you go on the sign, folks.

    (No, nothing’s happened since then, but that really helped.)

    I also saw him in the show that he got into and I didn’t on Friday, and he was as marvelous as always. Seriously, watching him perform, he’s just amazing. I admit I’m biased (he’s auditioning at another theater company this week and I hope they don’t take him so he can still be around at this one…sigh), but damn, he’s just so good at this. I can never live up to how good he is in a billion years and if he didn’t have his version of the “I suck and I’m too fat” train going through his brain, I suspect he’d have a bigger career.

    I also went out to dinner with a mutual friend of ours on Wednesday and found out that she had guessed about the crush and well, “ships” it. She basically said to ignore that 3 years thing, maybe it’ll change, and is rooting for us. That really helped and was adorable. I haven’t been able to spit it out to anyone who mutually knows us (another friend clearly guessed a while back but has politely not said anything directly), so that really helped.

    In non-related news, I went to a storytelling festival and performed there yesterday and people really liked my piece, so there’s that too.

    Otherwise, I look forward to the end of January. I won’t have a valentine this year, but frankly, that’s his own fault and he can sulk at home alone on that day, knowing he could have had someone, while I take off to a hippie con that day and have myself some nice, distracting fun.

    8+
    1. Having spent 6 months of the past year on my own unrequited theater crush (what is it with dudes who can sing AND understand character arcs) here is my unsolicited advice: hold on as long as it’s fun, and making you giggle, and smile, and gives you something to look forward to. If a crush ever gets to the point where its breaking your heart, or keeping you from enjoying/ taking risks on other parts of your life, that’s when you take a step back, let yourself grieve, and then move on. But fingers crossed that yours ends up the way you want it to 🙂

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      1. The strange thing here is that it’s definitely requited…he just said he’s not ready for a relationship when he figured out that I was interested. It’s been uh, interesting since then. Slowly building, but at the same time I am trying to not freak him out by being too forward or moving faster than he’s ready for (which is my usual). Let him figure out when he’s ready and let me know, then I’ll proceed, is the overall …. game plan, I guess. I think he goes a lot slower on these things than I do naturally.

        It’s not in the brokenhearted stage yet. I’m used to just getting into a relationship when we both are interested, so this has been very odd. Lord knows I’ve considered bailing on this whole thing/the friend group and disappearing to work on getting over it periodically when I get frustrated, but then I get some sign not to do that yet. So I hang in.

        4+
  17. Surprise lilies, huh? Out here on the wild, western edge of the continent, they are called Naked Ladies. Guess we are the crazy people everyone thinks we are?

    Yes, friends are a problem as one gets older. They either drift away…or die. 🙁 And it is hard to make new ones. Volunteer work is indeed a good way, though.

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  18. Yay for old friends. Maybe I should be a surprise lily and give someone a call. Meanwhile, I’m enjoying the snow creations popping up in our college neighborhood, although I worry about the makers of the snow person whose arms were vodka bottles.

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    1. Yay for being a surprise lily! I hadn’t heard from the friend I am expecting on Friday for 20 years before we reconnected a year or two ago and now he adds some much appreciated sunshine to my life once or twice a year. It is January, so I am sure that whoever you call will really appreciate the call.

      5+
  19. We call them Naked Ladies in Australia too. They are a sign of the end of summer and that autumn is on the way. Which will be a blessed relief.

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  20. I have surprise lilies at the lake–I love them, along with a yellow miniature rose bush that was a gift when my sister died. I planted it at the lake because she loved coming up there to visit. Now I have her with me all summer long. My “surprise lily” this weekend was getting all the new blinds and curtains hung in our new home–it’s really starting to feel like we live here. Hope everyone has a great week!

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  21. Happy this week was getting our new pantry shelves installed, which also resulted in the disposal of the expired things that were in there and the shelving of the things that previously couldn’t fit, and subsequently lived on the kitchen counter (pantry-expansion area east). I’m seriously getting a good buzz on seeing the cleared off counter tops.

    I’ve also been thinking about the state of the injury. It’s been three months since I fell and fractured my ankle. I’ve been making good strides (ha!) in my recovery, and some things I previously took for granted, like driving my car with manual transmission, are starting to feel natural again. There are other things, like bending my ankle enough to go downstairs, that still need work. My guess is that I’ll feel stiffness in the ankle for a considerable while, especially if I don’t exercise it regularly.

    So, happy to be walking, and enjoying the lovely day. I’ll need to get into the habit of doing this often.

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  22. No surprise lillies, but I did have a New Year lunch yesterday with three old friends. Two are still writing romance novels, one is writing film scripts and just had her latest script requested for review. But she knows how slow Hollywood works. Very excited for her.
    And then there was me. Fully retired, not much to submit to the conversation, but super content to listen and silently give thanks that I’m removed from all that stress.

    8+
  23. My surprise lilies in this yard were a rugosa rose that I had no idea was there and a white peony that was hidden under 2″ of landscape rocks.

    On Saturday we went out in the evening to our local volunteer fire department fundraiser dinner/dance and sat at at table with one of the guys Paul works with, his parents, and in-laws and had a lovely time. Work friend’s mother in law told Paul that she was glad to see her SIL making friends with Paul as he doesn’t really have a lot of people in his life and he’s really fussy about who he allows in his life. We were also told a few times how happy we looked together and that made us both feel good.

    6+
  24. Happy to have my computer back with a working fan! I missed being able to noodle around and read my two favorite blogs, in favor of “do email before it crashes”.

    Three days at work before boss comes back for a few days. I am hoping to enjoy the quiet and then enjoy the excitement/frenzy, and then next week, back to quiet.

    5+
  25. Happy this week was discovering there were others at work as disconcerted by recent changes at work. Thought it was me only, and thus a me problem.

    Unhappy is the feeling of a lack of voice, the job insecurity and the fear at work.

    Happy is an emergency fund that could truly cover 6 months for me, maybe 3 for the household if necessary. Happy is a pledge to self before this to get both me and partner to a job that we feel happy (and secure) in. I’m ready to move on if the shoe drops.

    I’m also reading and listening to Dave Ramsey, which makes me feel prepared even though the situation isn’t better.

    5+
  26. My version of the surprise lily is my bleeding heart plants. At the mo that patch of ground appears totally barren, as it does every winter. In another month or two tiny bits of green will poke through, and in a matter of weeks will be the size of a small shrub. It’s all a bit magical. I also love how the dangling “hearts” look so fragile, and yet they last until well into summer.

    3+
  27. My surprise lily was discovering that a few snow drops are already in bloom. I did not expect to see them until February. While I am, of course, happy to see them, I usually have my yard cleaned up before they appear. I leave the dead stuff on my plants (for the birds and insects that overwinter) until February usually and if the rain ever stops, I now have to get out and start cleaning up my yard. The roses have new shoots even though this means there is about an 80 % chance we will still get a freeze. Ah well, rejoice. Spring is just around the corner

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    1. I had to apologize to the rose I dug up the other day: although it wasn’t thriving at all, being against a north wall – only 3 ft tall, whereas its twin was covering the front of the house – it had produced a flower bud, I guess because it was sheltered. It’s gone for compost, though. I can be ruthless.

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      1. I am just coming to terms with the fact that my garden design when I moved here 35 years ago is no long working. I have 4 trees whose canopy almost totally cover my back yard and the site that was too hot and sunny is too shady for most of my perennials to bloom well and everything flops. But it is so hard to pull out the dahlias that now are very lackluster (most dahlias can over-winter in my yard so I didn’t have to dig them) and it is time to move on to something a little less picky.

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  28. I had a surprise-lily friend resurface this past weekend with a message that she’ll be visiting here next month, and wants to get together. I’m so pleased and excited!

    And I wonder which of my plants will actually make it through the winter to bloom in several months. It’s been a tough winter–freeze, thaw, then REALLY freeze again–so my plants will need to be tough too. It’s my first winter in my new place, so I don’t know what to expect. I just mulched heavily and hoped for the best.

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  29. Happiest event of this week, so far anyhow: Victor & Ilsa got adopted! They’re foster kittens (now cats) I’ve had since April. They’re great kittens–happy, healthy, handsome, social, palyful, affectionate…. But just kept NOT getting adopted. Our rescue org had EIGHT applications fall through for them, for one reason or another. It’s unusual for such adoptable kittens not to get adopted, and really, REALLY unusual to get so many near-misses. But, finally, they went to their permanent home on Monday, a nice family. Made my week.

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    1. P.S. My experience, like others above, is that you make new friends via volunteer work. I’m in my 50s, a time when making-new-friends really slows down, but in recent years, I’ve made a number of new friends, some of them now very close friends, through volunteering in animal rescue. Also through my part-time job as a walking-tour guide, a job that attracts people interested in many of the things I’m interested in (history, our city, the arts, reading, etc.).

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  30. Surprise! I’m back after dealing with a lot of life things. 🙂

    I love Surprise lilies, I’ve heard them referred to as painted ladies and naked ladies as well. The ones in my yard were my grandmothers. They are hidden under a lilac bush that was a LOT smaller when I planted the lilies. I’ve tried to move them out, but the roots of the lilac are too big and I can’t get a spade underneath them without breaking the tubers, so they are seekrit surprise lilies.

    I can’t wait to read the story you mentioned in the other thread. 🙂

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