Last night I dreamed of navy blue Asiatic lilies.

You’d think on Christmas night I’d drift off with images of angels, Santas and snowmen … or, at least sugar plums.

But, no, it was lilies, navy blues ones at that.

The lilies were so vivid in my dream that I got up and googled “navy blue Asiatic lilies” and I got a few images that looked pretty darned close to what I envisioned in my dream.

Maybe it was too much turkey and gravy or the warm weather overnight (furnace never turned on all night) but it seems I have left the holidays behind and plunged into gardening season. I’ve already got my Pinetree Garden Seeds catalog so the planning really can begin.

In the dream, I was at some kind of an event like the Ladies Day Luncheon. It was at the La Crosse Center because I spent a lot of time there as a reporter and am quite familiar with the venue so I recognized my surroundings immediately, unlike when my dreamscape includes some random parking garage. As I was standing there chatting with a group of people, a newcomer approached with a pot of navy blue Asiatics in full bloom and handed it to me, I guess because I had told someone I wanted them.

Wouldn’t it be great if real life worked that way?

In a way, it does. Many years ago, when I was the Home and Garden reporter for the La Crosse Tribune, I started a perennial exchange club. People were supposed to write to me with plants they were willing to trade and then I would match up gardeners with each other.

It kind of worked out that way except everyone wanted to trade plants with me. I got some great new plants that way, but no navy blue Asiatics.

Here’s hoping everybody is enjoying the holiday season and for those of you joining me in garden reveries, I hope you find a navy blue Asiatic lily in your garden this year.




If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes all 10 of Rita Parlin’s children to wrangle our mom.

At 88, Mom is living on her own, weeding her garden, mowing her lawn, and driving to church. She’s actually pretty amazing.

But she doesn’t drive at night anymore. She doesn’t drive out of town anymore. And she doesn’t drive in bad weather.

We’ve got her on the computer with both email and Facebook, but the computer wouldn’t function at all for her if my brother Kevin didn’t fix it remotely just about every week. That way, she doesn’t have to understand what went wrong — she just has to be able to call Kevin. She doesn’t even have to call Kevin as he calls her most days.

I call her every day, too. Because I can.

When I worked, I called her a couple of times a week. But I had to wait until I got home from work. She ate early and I ate late so sometimes our schedules didn’t line up too well, especially when I worked at night.

Once I retired, I started calling her during the day. And then I started calling her every day.

Now, when someone is trying to reach Mom and they can’t, they call me because everybody knows I am the Mom Wrangler. My brother Jim, who lives in town with Mom, once called because he couldn’t reach her. I had to hang up on Mom to take Jim’s call so I could tell him she was home.

Tonight, it was Peggy calling from St. Cloud. She often calls Mom on Sundays and there was no one answering the phone. It was after dark so Peggy was worried about where she might be.

“She’s at Jim’s, celebrating Christmas with his family,” I told her. “They picked her up and they will take her home.”

I am also the family communicator — not surprising with my reporter background — so I am in charge of the family emails to coordinate family gatherings. That’s beyond Mom’s email skills and is easy for someone who dealt with emails every day at work. It’s one of the few computer-related things at which I excel.

Jim is the only sibling in town so he gets Mom to the doctor, checks in on her, and attended Mass with her this last week on the anniversary of Dad’s death.

My youngest brother Tim got her on an airplane and took her to Ireland, something she never even dreamed of doing, and they even encountered a distant relative while there.

It really does take all of us to make sure Mom has the life Dad would have wanted her to have in his absence. And we’re happy to do it.

So whether you are the wrangler or the one being wrangled, I hope you are all together this holiday season. Mom and all 10 of her children will be celebrating together this year and she will even get together with her own siblings.

That’s what I call a great holiday.


Technology to the rescue

As anyone who knows me is aware, I don’t like technology.

I guess, more than anything, I just don’t understand it. I can’t bend it to my will, I can’t coax it to be reasonable, I can’t rely on it.

But technology and my nephew, T.J. Parlin, rode to the rescue tonight when I couldn’t reach my mom on either of her phones.

I figured she had knocked the phone off the hook on her landline (which she had), but she also wasn’t answering her cell phone. I emailed her, but had not heard back. So I tried one last thing — I broadcast her plight on Facebook.

Facebook is the equalizer. It reaches out to people whose phone numbers and email addresses you don’t possess. It’s the town crier of the modern age, and it can work wonders when someone puts out a call.

Within a short time, my mom’s one grandchild who lives in town went over to her house to let her know she had a problem with the phone. Then he and his daughter took a selfie with Grandma. I’m pretty sure that was her first selfie ever and how nice it was to see them all on Facebook and to get a call from Mom to let me know the phone problem was fixed.

So, thanks, T.J., for always looking out for your Grandma. Thanks, Facebook, for sending out the call for help. And thanks, Mom, for calling back so I could hear your voice. I’m feeling a little friendlier¬† toward technology tonight.