Wednesday, April 28, 2010


(The title above is in homage to the season finale of the TV show, Damages which I am way too addicted to watching.)

Friko commented on how lovely the flowers were in one of my recent posts and 'bemoaned' that I truly had a green thumb and must have a perfect garden.  (If she only knew!)  Her recent post had commented on how harshly the winter had treated many of the perennials in her garden. Lest my readers get the wrong idea about my gardening is a dose of reality.

The long and hard winter has changed how the wild dogwoods bloomed this spring at the edge of my woods.  Perhaps the harsh temperatures froze the buds or perhaps the birds or squirrels or raccoons had eaten the new growth during the winter as I have only a 'handful' of blossoms per tree as can be seen below.

My rhododendron, above, purchased on sale at a hefty price last fall has suffered tremendously from the heavy winter snows.  It is just a shadow of itself and I fear it will not survive the summer!  I was told when I took in a branch that it was getting too much water...but I think it is something more. I expect perhaps one blossom and am afraid to move it to a better area as this is the best spot I have!

The side of my foundation landscape at the front door entry has holes in the nandina hedge where snow pack bent the branches to the ground and broke much of the tall growth.  The hedge is now thin and spindly.  Nandina plants are hardy so I hope some shape will return.  I have staked it as it quite naturally leans out toward the morning sun.

My large rosemary had to be cut back and the damage has certainly ruined its shape. It will be moved this week to the new herb bed which has better drainage but less afternoon sun :-(.  The shock has caused some of the stalks to bloom already.

The most dangerous damage was done to my expensive cut leaf maple which is now three years old and holding its own beneath the front bay window. It may look lovely here but lets pull back the leaves to see what we saw on our return from that last heavy snowfall in February.

Yes, in our desperation that cold winter day we used duct tape to save the branch.  The branch had been torn away and was hanging by the thinest of cadmium on the opposite side.  Since the tree was dormant at the time, I pushed the two parts of the branch together and taped them hoping scar tissue would form in the spring and save the branch.  Hubby added the string support tied to the stronger part of the tree above to ease the strain on the broken branch.  This branch was full in the front and important to the full shape of the plant.  All appears well for now and we will see if this repair will hold down through the summer and winter to come!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Practical Beauty

I spend my time in spring with my face or my camera lens pressed against some ornamental flower trying to capture that moment in time where color and shape are perfection and to file away a memory for a cold gray day.

I recently realized that I fail to see some of the wild and practical beauty all around me that is missed because the hybrid stunners are crying for attention.  Therefore, I am pleased to present those playing supporting roles in this spring performance.

I think this is a Viburnum prunifolium above, but I am open to formal identification. This wild plant has balls of beauty that cover the bushes standing at attention up to 12 feet high along the shoreline at my dock during the month of April.

Above is the familiar hybridized strawberry flower promising jam and syrup and topping in the months to come.  It is small and covering the grounds at the back of the garden, but a no less lovely  bloomer than all the others.

Above is a newer ornamental version of the strawberry.  We are waiting to see if the flavor and/or size of the strawberry has been compromised in order to make the flowers stand out, as this is a new addition to the garden this year.

This beauty is, of course, from our new blueberry plant(s) which have been tucked back by the wood pile just inside the deer fence.  YUM.

Above are the flowers of a wild persimmon tree that grows against our dock just at the edge of the inter-tidal land.  It is only 8 feet tall and maybe too young for any fruit as we have not seen any set as long as we have lived here.  I have seen raccoons and squirrels performing acrobatic feats to get at the persimmons in our higher trees at the edge of the forest.

These are buds from my kaffir lime tree which has been moved outside now that the weather is more gentle.  The tree is still small but I have gotten about 6-10 fruit in the past.

And finally among our cast of supporting performers is Barberry (Berberis) growing at the side of my house doing its duty as a landscape plant.  But in the spring its lovely yellow bells ring out in contrast to the wine foliage above.  (Click on photos for better views.)

Monday, April 19, 2010

Williamsburg, VA

I do not think I have ever met anyone who did not like the town of Williamsburg, Virginia after visiting there.  It is Disney World for American history buffs.  It is Disney World for middle class history buffs.  Most of the food and shopping are expensive, although, with care, it can be done economically. The historic area was surrounded by children from private schools on spring holiday.  I was there recently for a two-day garden seminar.  Something we elitists do when spring arrives and we have planted all that we dare to before the last frost date.

There is nothing more entertaining for a husband than following sensible women with sensible haircuts in sensible shoes around sensible historic gardens all afternoon.  There was some variety in attendance as some of the women attending were those charming 'Southern Bells' who wear lovely hats, Town and Country clothes and nice jewelry.  They knew and were willing to share their knowledge of the scientific names of most of the plants with a maple syrup accent as their fragile husbands in nice suits stood quietly by... my, my!  Even more exotic, the weather was perfect!

The historic district is romantically and accurately preserved with lots of Colonial architecture, some winding lanes, staff in Colonial dress doing Colonial era activities and or staffing the many cutesy little shops.  We bought two of the Early American jar birdhouses for our fence posts.  Did I mention that being there in the spring is wonderful?

Unfortunately, our favorite (and expensive) restaurant, The Trellis, was closed for renovation.  This is the restaurant that produced the famous Death by Chocolate dessert that has been mimicked by every high-end restaurant on the East Coast the last few years.  Fortunately we found plenty of other good places to eat.

On the last day, I found a true treasure.  There is a very small used bookstore called Mermaid Books located beneath a wine/deli restaurant on a side street off the Market Square.  Before this trip I did not know of its existence.  We had a long lunch hour to fill and were perusing the shelves for some good historic references on plants and gardening, stimulated by the recent lecture we had heard, when I came across this!

The bookstore owner actually hesitated in selling it to me.  He hemmed and hawed and then felt he must have another copy in the back, because he had planned on scanning it for the wonderful woodcut illustrations inside.  I told him to let me buy it and he could mail it to me when he was done scanning it.  He finally relented and let me purchase it then and there.  Now I will see if the memory of enjoying reading this book when I was much younger still holds true.  Have any of you ever read this book of fantasy? It is a male's version of a romance.  It is not copyrighted in the U.S. and is downloadable at the following URL, if your are interested.

Or you can search the title and find it online in several places.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Privilege Has Its Price

My grandchildren are very privileged and we will certainly reap the problems of that in years to come, but their joy is an immediate reward.  During our week in Long Boat Key, Florida, they went to the Seafood Fest for face painting and carnival rides; they went to a zoological garden to feed animals and watch a bird show; they challenged their parents at putt-putt golf, spent days at the pool and the beach, and did Disney World as only toddlers can.  They even spent an afternoon at the children's science museum--G-Whiz.  During 'down' times they watched videos, were read stories and we even squeezed in an Easter egg hunt!  Very different than my childhood vacations which usually consisted of reading comic books under the tree on the farm after I had finished my chores.  There are pros and cons to both life styles, I guess.

We are working hard to make this gal a nature lover. But, in all fairness, the flamingo birds were much taller than her!  She did get a kick out of their pretty 'pink' color which is her favorite, of course.  Below the lights of my life  are filling the moat to the castle with least attempting this challenge.

Above my little gal gossips about Ariel with Belle at Disney World.  If you don't know who Belle is, than you are definitely not a Fairy Tale aficionado and must get with the program.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Spring Forward

I have nothing serious or funny to post and am exhausted from enjoy...needless to say I got a million of em!

Thursday, April 08, 2010


This photo above was taken during the war in the South Pacific.  The man in the middle was my husband's half brother.  I do not know if he did anything particularly brave during his tour of service, but I know that some of the battles on those islands were pretty scary.

When we think of heroes we usually think of soldiers, firemen, policemen and others facing an emergency and being able to save others while risking their lives.  Remember Captain Sully?

Today on NPR there was a program about Ryan White, the young man who died from AIDS 20 years ago.  He was a hero to me.  I will never forget him. His honesty, strength, humor, and leadership while only 13 helped bring an understanding of this terrible disease to most of America who were fearful and prejudiced.  His calm practical approach to dealing with this fate was truly inspirational.

There is another hero, from blogdom, that I want to mention.  She has been a blog pal for a few years, and I cannot remember what made me visit her blog for the very first time, but I kept coming back because she was a real life hero to me.  She wrote poetry, prose, and told things about herself that most of us would want to keep secret.  But she told them with such magical humor her readers could laugh out loud.  She made me comfortable.  Her name is Tammy Brierly.

This Sunday she is going to free dive out of a plane!  Brave for a 48 year old woman you may think.  But this is not why she is my hero.  She is doing this in spite of brittle bones, an inability to walk by herself and a continual battle  with other side effects of ALS---Lou Gehrig's disease.  There is no cure, but since her diagnosis years ago she has done more, and been more spirited and accepting of life than 100% of the people I know.  I have never met her personally, but she has become my inspiration!  She is making this jump to bring awareness to this incurable disease.  She spends most of her time now on Facebook so I did not link to her blog page because it is an easier venue for her.  

I am so thankful for heroes like these.  They certainly make me want to be a better person.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

I Got It All Figured Out...For Me At Least

I think I have figured out the basic difference in conservative and liberal mindsets at the far reaches of civilization.  Most of us are sane and reasonable people with little deep seated insecurities that we try not to let rule our brain.  Most of us are willing to try compromises.  But we do have deeply ingrained fears.

Conservatives fear that liberals will get that 'coddle the world' thing going so strong that liberals would be willing to have us all living on a commune with vague morality and therefore stifle progress of all types.  There would be no incentive as all money earned from development of new businesses and new ideas would be distributed evenly to the masses regardless of effort.  We would drown in the laziness of the free ride as liberals insist on saving everyone and refuse to defend themselves with weapons.

Liberals fear that conservatives will get that 'don't trust anyone different' thing going so strongly that conservatives will put us all be under some vague conservative standard that measures our patriotism and loyalty within narrow definitions, and therefore, all liberals will have freedom of speech or privacy or other personal freedoms slowly taken away.  If we don't fit the perfect standard we would be watched closely on every decision that we make.  Rebellious intellectuals would be sent to the country for an improved work ethic as happened in China.

Yeah, probably an oversimplification...but it makes sense to me.

I really think that we both have the country's best interests at heart and if the shouting stopped, we could walk down a middle road.  With compromise, yes, with back-stepping and correcting, yes, but also with progress.  

Friday, April 02, 2010

The Other Woman

Marriage is a tough path to follow, and anyone who tells you otherwise does not have standards.  Marriage is not for the faint of heart or the weak of mind.  Marriage is for those of us who do not mind being warriors on a daily basis.  I will explain further.

As you read this post I am (hopefully) sitting on a sunny Florida beach with my grandchildren.  Yes, I am obviously richer than Croesus being able to take off to Florida several times a year.  In reality this expensive lifestyle is causing us to spend rather then save our recent tax refund.  We are driving down with our S.I. L. while our daughter and two kids fly in a day later.  Our car will be crammed to the top with more beach toys, food, luggage, and clothes than anyone needs for a week.  We will be prepared for all types of weather, all types of fun including some fishing and canoe gear if hubby can find room, and leave just enough empty seats for 3 adults and the one adult and 2 children that we will be picking up at the airport before we have a chance to unload.  God forbid we should get bored!

But, as I write this post for later publishing I have some trepidation about this trip.  Not because we are covering 1,000 miles in a day an a half with limited food and bathroom breaks.  Not because I am with my fairly liberal-minded husband and my fairly conservative-minded son-in-law in a confined space for hours on end while we want to listen to NPR and he wants to listen to Sports Radio.  (S.I.L. will have to stew in some agony because we do not have satellite radio.)  And, finally, I am not concerned about my snoring as I probably sleep a good part of the trip away. 

No my concerns are about the 'other woman.'  She had joined us on our last trip to Florida and I do not think it is an exaggeration that her presence created such discord that I wanted to take her and hit my husband!  I did not mention her presence in my prior blog posts because I was trying to pretend she hadn't been a part of the trip.

Conversations in the car would start like this:

Me:  OK, I think we are ready.
Car engine starts and we head out of the yard.
Her:  Turn right and drive straight for 44 miles.
Hubby:  (Grunt)  (Mumble) Two women telling me what to do.

Things would go along pleasantly for a while until we reached an area where she and my husband would begin arguing about who knew the best route.
Her: Stay right and turn right in .5 miles.
Hubby:  What?  The better route is taking Exit 42!  (Which he would then proceed to do.)
Her:  Recalculating.  Turn right ahead.....turn right ahead........recalculating.....take the next right exit.

After the third time this happened and hubby ignored her, we got lost.  I asked my husband if he would just follow her directions completely for once.  (Asked is probably too gentle a description as I think they heard me three cars over.)

He is 'Florida boy' and refused to admit that this sophisticated technical bitch might just know about a few new routes that he didn't.  

One time I just turned her off and said, "OK, you are one your own!!  You figure out how to get to the condo!!" 

It did not take too long after this that he admitted he could use some help in this new part of Florida and she proceeded to take us to a traffic-free freeway which he had not known about and we got back to our condo in a very short time.  After this I began calling her Truthsayer  just to irritate my husband.  

Me:  Shall we have Truthsayer find us a good restaurant?
Me:  Shall we see if Truthsayer can route us to the canoe launch site?

I will admit that sometimes she is a bit dyslexic when it comes to taking an address and figuring out which city I want without giving me an opportunity to punch in the city---or STATE!  She also can be a bit dense if you want to change the route mid-route, but I won't tell my husband that.  After all, we women have to stick together.