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Imagine if you will a television show for flower nerds. The contestants would be shown random flower photos and would have to identify them. The person who first identified each flower would win a prize, maybe a pack of seeds. I realize not everyone would find this exciting, but I would watch it.

The tiny blue flower I posted yesterday was promptly identified, so I have succumbed to the temptation to once again crowd source my flower identification. This is another bright splash of green spilling over the rocks in the garden. If you look closely there are tiny white flowers shaped like four white hearts with their points joined in the center, where yellow dots hold the whole thing together.

I have enough confidence in your powers of identification that I will not presume to name this flower, though I did discover that cormeum is the Latin word for heart. That is how I would start to name this plant, if I were going to name it, which I most certainly am not.

Finding the name of a flower is like solving a crossword puzzle. If you don’t solve the problem, no lives are lost (unless you eat a plant you have not correctly identified).

I appreciate the comment from yesterday that says “a small, solvable, intellectual puzzle that interests me” is appealing. I find that too. The distraction can be welcome, and so much of life isn’t solvable per se. Life offers nothing to maximize; there are no clear optimization parameters. We are mostly just walking around and bumping into things and deciding whether to climb over them or sit down and rest for a bit.

If you have the time, take a short break to identify this flower, complete a crossword, or find a different little problem to solve with a clearly defined answer. The simple satisfaction from completing these tasks can be a small island of calm in a turbulent sea.



Behind this little clump of the world’s tiniest blue flowers is a bunch of thick brown stalks that died back for the winter. The garden bed looks rather forlorn and raggedy, but when I bend to pat Annie, who is lying in the bed sunning her belly, I notice the “weeds” mounding along the rock edging are sporting tiny star-shaped flowers.

I am not able to identify these small flowers, so perhaps they have escaped the notice of any botanist and are available for naming. In case that is true, I hereby name them stella tinicus. Stella, the internet informs me, means star in Latin. Tinicus is a word I made up to mean tiny because all the real Latin words that I looked up were already taken to describe other plants.

It is exciting to find this tough little ground cover providing some cheer in my otherwise bleak landscape. When the bees come to forage, it is one of the few sources of pollen and nectar this time of year.

Some aspects of your own landscape have the brown dry bleakness of midwinter. You have extra work giving care. A lot of practical chores need doing. Your must tend to your own health and well being. Amid all of this you would like to continue to excel in your work, be a good friend, and walk the dog.

Does that sound like a lot? Accomplishing all that seems like a pretty tall order.

People who love you are worried that you are carrying more than you can bear. Those of us friends and family who love caregivers, one and all, are not sure how best to put our collective shoulder to the wheel with you. So we write our love in these love notes every day. Perhaps you would rather have practical help making lunch, but today we send you the world’s smallest flower arrangement.



Winter is rolling along, and it has been a long time since we have seen flowers. You can tell they are coming, but they seem to be waiting in the wings for a cue that it is their turn to show. This morning I noticed the camellias are blooming, our first sign of spring.

Camellias have no business being in our environment. They like acidic soil, and our soil is quite alkaline. They like shade, and this one gets full sun in the afternoon. The bush has been in place for more than ten years and is bigger than I am. Somebody forgot to tell it to be fussy, and it decided to get right on with blooming where it is planted.

We too can be planted in an inhospitable environment. We may have to work long hours or not have enough money. We may be serving as a caregiver, a role that can be depleting to our energy. We are not going to automatically thrive under these conditions. We might just barely get by.

Sometimes, though, at the unlikeliest of times and in the worst of circumstances, we bloom. I don’t know why this happens once in a while but not all the time. It certainly isn’t a matter of our gritting our teeth and spitting out a bloom. Grace just descends following its own timetable, and we soften. We might bloom with tears or with smiles. We might feel uplifted and comforted for no reason at all.

Blooming often happens after a long winter. Our new website bloomed today and trust me there have been some cold dark nights wrestling it into shape. There are a few straggling items that need to be fixed, but it was time, and I counted on you, dear reader, to be forgiving of the glitches.

I hope you bloom today, even just for a moment alive with the hope of the coming spring.




Yesterday there was a bright patch of green plants in the area where I toss compostables over the fence. Today, there were two large bright white mushrooms that must have sprouted overnight. This is the smaller one, about the size of the palm of your hand. You can see the wavy margin on the bottom of the cap, which I expect will grow larger tomorrow.

I learned about mushrooms from my uncle, who used to farm them commercially. He told me I had ideal growing conditions. “Just mix a bale of hay into a pile of horse manure,” he said. “Let it sit for awhile. Then buy your favorite mushrooms at the store, chop them up, and stir them into the growing mixture. Water the pile a bit, but don’t let things get soggy. Before you know it, you’ll be growing exotic mushrooms.”

I do love mushrooms, but I have not yet gotten around to following his growing recipe. Still, I love to see them pop up on their own. He is right, they seem to like the places with horse manure.

Most things in the natural world change gradually, including the things in our lives. Plants grow a little each day. Tiny buds get gradually bigger. Blooms unfold a petal at a time.

Mushrooms, though, appear overnight. They weren’t there and then vavoom! When these vavoom moments happen in our lives, we are often unprepared for them.

Caregiving is a daily process. Our loved one’s condition may progress faster or slower, and we get used to making those adjustments, “I see she isn’t driving anymore,” you notice, and figure out another way to handle errands and transportation.

Sometimes you get mushroom changes that spring up overnight. Yesterday you faced this familiar pattern. Today is wholly new. Big changes can knock us out of equilibrium. Our old plans and coping skills suddenly don’t work anymore. We were so competent and comfortable handling that other situation, but we have no idea what to bring to this new one.

When big changes come be gentle to yourself. Indulge your need to cry or dance or have an extra glass of wine. You may want to be with friends, or you may want to be alone. Listen to your heart’s call and follow it. Your heart’s wish is the beacon you will follow through the maze of confusion until, once more, you can find the light.



Our horses, Barkley and Magic, are almost always together. If one comes in for dinner without the other, this is sufficiently rare that I go looking for the other one. When Barkley was sick, Magic was never far from him, and when I walked in the back pasture to check on him, Magic would run over to show me wherever Barkley was lying down. They have been friends and companions for fifteen years and even though they have their tiffs, they are inseparable.

Horses are herd animals by nature, so they are more comfortable in a group. Being part of a herd makes them safer in the wild. They are also social creatures, who show affection by grooming one another. A herd of horses is emotionally connected in ways we cannot fully explain. If a herd is grazing and one horse sees something scary, the fear seems to instantaneously infect the herd, and they all run, like one organism distributed into many bodies.

We human families can work like this too. When something affects one of us, we all feel it. When our loved ones are sick, we stand by them when the doctor checks them out. When one is sick or joyful, all the family members mourn or celebrate.

What horses are best at is just being peaceful. If they don’t need to graze or work at something, they can peacefully hang out under a tree, enjoying the shade and one another’s company. We humans are not so great at that. We resemble human doings more than human beings.

Inner peace is contagious, just like fear is. Sometimes when I am bustling about from one thing to another I go stand with the horses. Their inner quiet infects me. They stand beside me until I too am calm, then walk off.

Today is a day to cultivate inner peace. Close your eyes. Imagine these two huge gentle horses beside you. Feel the calm energy emanating from them. They have an abundance of peace, with plenty left over for you.



As the sun drops lower in the afternoon sky, the oaks spend a moment basking in the warm rays. These oaks aren’t tall and stately. They’re shorter and scrubbier than oaks in wetter climates, but they can survive a pretty severe drought unscathed. Since they are lower to the ground and have deep broad root systems, they are incredibly stable.

Stability is reassuring. While things around us are changing it is comforting to know that some things are stable, and will be there in the same place no matter the weather.

Even the most flexible, adventurous person can feel a sense of calm comfort when coming home from a trip away. “Ah, there are all my things, right where I left them!”

Despite our resistance to change, sometimes we encounter changes for the good. We might be sad to learn a paid caregiver who relieves us a day a week is moving to another state, but that change prompts us to find the best relief options for our current situation, which may have changed since the last time we looked for help.

These thoughts about our preference for stability are preparation to let you know there are changes coming to the Bossy Spa. You, dear readers, have asked us to do some things that our current site configuration cannot do. Our current site is built on the technological equivalent of toothpicks, so Annie and Ginger and I, the Bossy Spa tech team, have engaged an actual technology professional, the lovely and talented Jonathan, to build a new site.

Jonathan is a human, so his opposable thumbs make him more adept at the keyboard than Annie and Ginger. While he could not begin to match the speed with which their paws track mud on the floor, he has built some beautiful websites before, so he brings with him the calm vision that such things can be done. Without his help, we would be floundering. In fact actual floundering has happened already, which is why he is helping.

The new site will be ready in a few days. When we switch over to it the content and comments from the existing site will go with us, but things will look different. If you read the site through WordPress reader, we may no longer be visible there. Subscribe in the next day or two, and you will still get the posts by email.

Bear with us as we make this change to ensure the site will be flexible enough to address future needs and stable enough to support growth in our readership. After you get used to the new look and feel, it too will feel stable.

There is nothing for you to do. When you visit one day it may be wearing a new outfit, but its heart is unchanged.