Marilyn's Musings

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Monthly Archives: December 2010

The best Christmas gift ever

On my facebook on one of my friend’s wall was this post:

Every person has 1000 wishes, a cancer patient only has one: to get better and be a survivor. I know 97% of you won’t post this as your status, but my friends will be the 3% who do, in honor of someone who died of or is fighting cancer.

Years ago, I was diagnosed in my twenties with cancer. It was a rough time for us to go through. I couldn’t have any more children as a result, but was blessed to have  two of the most beautiful and loving daughters one could ever hope to have.

During that time, I went through many emotional, mental, and physical changes. It is hard to go from “normal” to instant menopause. And more so because hormone replacement therapy was not an option.

My husband stood by me through it all.

This past year, my husband was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin Lymphoma. It was my turn to stand by him.

We went through it together. He is now, thankfully, in remission.

This all has set me to thinking.

We want the latest smart phone. Send me a Kindle. A Wii, whatever. But put in perspective, when a diagnosis like that hits home  personally or for a loved one, it tends to jerk a person back to realizing that all these material things, while all well and good, can’t compensate for having good health and your loved ones with you. All of these things are nothing but dust in comparison.

I may receive nice gifts for Christmas. And at this point, if I had nothing more than boxed macaroni and cheese for our dinner and nothing under the tree, it wouldn’t matter. In the greater scheme of things, I have already received the best gift possible and there is no way it can be topped: My husband is in remission.

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Spotlight Plant Of The Month For December: Christmas Cactus

Spotlight Plant Of The Month For December: Christmas Cactus

Christmas Cactus

Christmas Cactus

December offers many wonderful plants to grace our homes and to offer  the gardener on our holiday lists. One of the most interesting and beautiful of plants is the Christmas cactus. This plant has one of the more unusual of botanical names, though: Schlumbergera bridesii. No matter which name we use, common or botanical, this native of South America is quickly becoming a very popular plant to add to our indoor plant collections during the holiday season and beyond. It is a most fitting plant to feature as December’s spotlight plant.

Christmas cacti come in various shades of pink, white, and near-orange, or salmon. They offer color and a touch of the tropics when many of our homes are starved for durable blooming plants. Not a true cactus, but a succulent by nature, many make the mistake of under watering this plant.

Unlike poinsettias, which can quickly turn leggy and die, the Christmas cactus is a bit more durable. After the blooms cease, withhold water for about five or six weeks. It needs to “nap” a bit. Repot with fresh soil which is light and fertile. When new growth resumes, fertilize with a weak organic fertilizer every three weeks.

This plant likes shade in the summer and constant moisture. Not sogginess, but moisture. It makes an excellent porch plant in the shade. When the kids return to school, start to decrease the amount of water that you give it. Let it go thirsty in October. In November, keep it in a humid area, or place it on a bed of moist pebbles that do not “wick” into the pots. Water, but not too much or too often, just to keep it moist. This plant appreciates a bit more light indoors than out, but not the sunniest spot in your home.

To induce blooming, give Christmas cactus bright, indirect sunlight, and keep it in a temperature range of 55 to 60 degrees. If you have a cool, bright room, this is ideal. If the temps have to go higher, as it does in most of our homes this time of the year, keep it in a dark closet until bloom buds start to develop. You can start this process as soon as you bring the plant in from its summer vacation.

So, if you want a little different plant to share your digs with for the holidays, pick a Christmas cactus or two. I think you will be pleased.