Meandering in Yo Mama’s Late Summer Garden

September 1, 2011

Even though it is September already, we Virginians still have a solid two months left to our growing season.  This year, I planted in early May and never even had the time to do my “second round”, i.e. replacing those plants that had seen better days and that are now 50% off at all the nurseries.  Damn.  Not having been able to take advantage of the “end-of-season” sale this year nearly did me in.  Nevertheless, the garden looks no worse for my benign neglect.

Over my 24  years of learning what grows best and where on my little piece of Paradise, I have an enormous appreciation for the textures, patterns and unbelievable color of non-blooming ornamental shrubs such as golden threads, any bush related to the pine family that has that distinctive Southwestern blue tone and the hundreds of choices of different Hostas, Nandinas and Burning Bush which, in autumn, turns into such a flaming red that I will bet you a hefty sum that the local fire departments get plenty of false alarms for rampant, out of control fires.  Overall, what I am trying to convey is that a garden, or any overall landscape vision, can be just as vibrant and deeply colorful without even one flowering shrub or flower.

Let’s face it: the richness of the hues and lushness of big, fat blooms in flowering shrubs, such as azaleas, rhododendrons and hydrangeas will take your breath away.  Plus, the sheer number of different variations within the group of azaleas, for example, can send you reeling.  The beauty and variations of these flowering ornamental shrubbery is a wonder to behold.  However, it is these non-flowering, multi-colored bushes that have enthralled me in recent years.

I discovered Croton plants about five years ago during my haunting of my favorite nurseries.  I use them in the ten huge “anchor” pots all around the back yard and decks.  I throw in some Creeping Jenny, whose lime green color is out of this world, and some decorative begonia leaf plants, and you couldn’t find a more colorful spot on earth.  Crotons are actually tropical plants and thus, can be found in my neck of the woods, in greenhouses.   We Northerners use Crotons as houseplants.  The amazing thing about these Crotons is their indescribable blast of electrifying color.  Even  (or I should say, especially) on rainy, cloudy and sunless days, these Crotons emit a bright neon aura.  These luminescent Crotons look like they are plugged into electrical outlets and used as lamps.  Hope you enjoy the views from my backyard.

My corner Croton.

Big red.

Multiplication of red.

The bright yellow and green side of the Crotons.

Absolutely no sunlight on these. Pure luminescence.

A variation of colored begonia leaves. No blooms necessary to dive into the color.

Mind you: no blossoms here again. Just gorgeous color in the foliage.

The beauty in the natural patterns of this snail plant rivals any spectacular flower blossom. And who says that snails are slow? These snail plants have mushroomed in size all season.

Fair is fair though; there is no doubt that blooming flowers offer a world of color.

My in-the-ground New Guinea Impatiens is a sea of divine color.

My old friends send their love to all of you and wishes for a colorful weekend.

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The Squire and the Marvelous Mike

August 28, 2011

Today, August 28, 2011 is a RED letter day.  Mark it down in your diaries, history annals, love stories of all time, Facebook pages, Tweeter, Twitter, Titters and Titties.  We are being given yet one more chance of doing something right and long-lasting.  An extraordinary human being , Squiggidy the Squire (SS), is taking her marriage vows today.  The other half of the equation, the groom, is Marvelous Mike (MM).  I do not know MM very well.  However knowing what an intelligent, humane, guileless person SS is, I, in a heartbeat, know that MM is right up there with SS in terms being a worthy person.

The first time I met the bride and groom was at my Obama blowout party during the inauguration weekend.  Besides marking a historical occasion that might occur once in a century, this party, and a am totally bragging, was the best party I ever made.  I had only invited those people in my life whom I love and worked their tails off for President Obama’s election.

Anyway, SS and MM had just starting dating.  You know I am a people watcher and despite the magic of any new relationship, I saw that this match was going to be forever.  I have never seen anyone look so adoring at his significant other than MM did with SS.  It was sight to behold and treasure.   MM was always there right next to SS, a physical closeness.  But it wasn’t that type of attention where you want to scream, “Get a room!”.  It was unadulterated appreciation of having the honor in being in the presence of SS, who clearly deserved all the love and admiration that a decent, just, principled, totally altruistic person deserves.  SS does not embody one iota of nastiness, meanness, deceit or cunning.

Having had no intention whatsoever of getting on my soapbox for this post, some things just cannot be avoided.  My self-control is greatly lacking.  I apologize.  You all know that there is so much insanity, corruption and selfishness in this world, from global and national governments, to greed as one’s ultimate life accomplishment, to corporate, religious fraud and crime, theft and a blatant void of morality, personal honor and justice.  The only remedy is to bring babies into this world and from Day One, no matter how tedious, physically exhausting and constantly demanding it is to raise a child with values and standards, it must be done., and it must be done  constantly and repetitively.  Our children are the most basic building block to a decent life on this planet.  In fact, the proper rearing of children is the only hope for the continuance of our world.  Period.  Okay: off of my soapbox.

With every ounce of love and admiration I have in me for these two special people getting married today, they elate me even further because I am positive that they will raise new human beings to be on the side of angels and give us the opportunity to create the kind of world we all deserve.

To SS and MM, have a blast today and always take care of each other and your offspring because the world depends on that more than you can envision.  Much joy on this momentous day.

Friday Funnies

August 26, 2011

It’s Friday.  Same old, same old, is going on in the world, so how about some funnies?

WASHING DISHES WITH COLD WATER:

Can Cold Water Clean Dishes? This is for all the germ conscious folks
that worry about using cold water to clean.

John went to visit his 90 year old grandfather in a very secluded, rural area of Saskatchewan.

 After spending a great evening chatting the night away, the next morning John’s grandfather prepared breakfast of bacon, eggs and toast.

However, John noticed a film like substance on his plate, and questioned his grandfather asking,

‘Are these plates clean?’

His grandfather replied,

“They’re as clean as cold water can get em.
Just you go ahead and finish your meal, Sonny!”

For lunch the old man-made hamburgers.

Again, John was concerned about the plates,
as his appeared to have tiny specks around
the edge that looked like dried egg and asked, 

“Are you sure these plates are clean?”

Without looking up the old man said,

“I told you before, Sonny, those dishes are as clean as cold water can get them. Now don’t you fret, I don’t want to hear another word about it!”

Later that afternoon, John was on his way to a nearby town and as he was leaving, his grandfather’s dog  started to growl, and wouldn’t let him pass.

  John yelled and said, “Grandfather, your dog won’t let me get to my car.”
  
Without diverting his attention from the football game he was watching on TV, the old man shouted:

“Coldwater, go lay down now, yah hear me!”

It is my honor to introduce you to Coldwater:



FRIDAY FUNNY NUMBER TWO:

A woman who had been married three times walked into a bridal shop
one day.  She told the sales clerk that she was looking for a wedding gown
for her fourth wedding.

“Of course, madam,” replied the sales clerk, “exactly what type and color
dress are you looking for?”

The bride to be said, “A long frilly white dress with a veil.”  The sales
clerk hesitated a bit, then said, “Please don’t take this the wrong way, but
gowns of that nature are considered more appropriate for brides who are
being married the first time, for those who are a bit more innocent, if you know
what I mean?”

“Perhaps ivory or sky blue would be nice.”

“Well,” replied the customer, a little peeved at the clerk’s directness, “I
can assure you that a white gown would be quite appropriate.”  “Believe it
or not, despite all my marriages, I remain as innocent as a first-time
bride.”  “You see, my first husband was so excited about our wedding, that
he died as we were checking into our hotel.”  “My second husband and I got
into such a terrible fight in the limo on our way to our honeymoon that we
had the marriage annulled immediately and never saw each other again.”

“What about your third husband?” asked the sales clerk.

“That one was a Republican,” said the women, “and every night for four years,
he just sat on the edge of the bed and told me how good it was going to be,
but nothing ever happened!”

PLUS CA CHANGE, PLUS C’EST LA MEME CHOSE.

Have a wonderful weekend and stay in touch.


The Errant Meteor Theory

August 24, 2011

Over the last two years or so, I have become all too aware of the existence of criminal, immoral, corrupt, downright disgusting actions  in our highest to our lowest offices of government, corporations, non-profit operations, organized religious institutions (from the smallest, down home local place of prayer to the highest echelons of the mainstream Catholic church) that I find myself, even with some fight left in me just because of the fiery nature of my personality, unable to stop or counterbalance insanity, truthfully that I can do nothing to stop this insanity.  For the last six months, I have been planning a long, pedantic post on the overwhelming greed and corruption made worse by totally random events, but it hasn’t yet come to fruition.

You have noticed that during the last month, my postings have been few and totally off-subject of politics and all the other current hot-button issues of which I typically write.  Because of a mind-blowing, major life-altering personal event, all this other bullshit became even less worthy of the investment of my effort and time.

So that blog is not going to happen.  But I had to give this bit of information, the back story, so you will understand my “Errant Meteor Theory.”  In a nutshell, this theory is simply that “shit happens.”  Even if good things happen, with the world, its governments, private and public corporate entities, any and all events and people, there is always the chance that something or other, totally unexpected, will occur to turn the world upside down.  Some examples of this in recent years have been the terrorist attack on 9/11, Hurricane Katrina and the earthquake/tsunami/nuclear meltdown in Japan.  Other events that could set the world reeling would be an assassination of a powerful, actually moral political leader, an environmental calamity such as the Gulf oil spill or a bio-terrorist event.  These possible actions are what I call the errant meteor theory, i.e. that at any time, any place, some rogue meteor could hit our earth and we would all be gone in the blink of an eye.  Kind of like the theory of a meteor hit that wiped out the dinosaurs and generally, the world.

So yesterday, after a momentous month in my own life, we had an earthquake measuring 5.9.  Thank heavens I was on the phone with my rational, calm and smart daughter Maribel.  All of a sudden I felt and saw the house moving.  I experienced two other quakes over the last twenty years here in Virgina.  Both were about 3.2 in magnitude and the motion was an even rumbling, like there were heavy construction vehicles just outside of my house.  It was not frightening at all.  But yesterday, I was petrified.  The action was sudden, but the motion was jagged and violent.  Granted, the strength of the tremor yesterday was of a much stronger magnitude than the other two I had felt.  But yesterday’s movement was totally different from the prior quakes.  I heard glass breaking and I thought because of the fierce movement, that my windows and skylights were crashing in on me.  I grabbed the dog and knew I had to get to my safe place —- the basement bathroom, the only interior room on the lowest level.  However, one wall of the bathroom is covered entirely with huge sheets of mirror.  Thank the heavens once again, we had a large closet within that bathroom.  So I dragged myself and the dog into that closet.  My years planning for a disaster like this actually paid off because I had thought it through years ago and there was no hesitation of where I needed to be.  I sat there, with the dog and Maribel staying on the line with me.  Maribel was trying to find some news of what had actually occurred.  Finally, she said, “Mom, the D.C. area just had a 5.9 earthquake.”  Realizing that my absolute terror and hysterical screaming  was actually due to a real event and not just my over-reactive personality or even some hallucination, I was relieved.

Maribel stayed on the phone with me as I inspected every single room and mechanical equipment in the house.  The breakage noises I had heard were not windows crashing in; they were from some chachkas that had fallen to the floor.  You wanna talk about sheer luck?  I did have minor breakage of decorative items, but not one of them was of any financial or sentimental value.  And I have to admit, even if I had damage to some really valuable breakables, I couldn’t have cared less.  Any other damage  involved clean-up, i.e. the cement/grout of the fireplace in the family room looked like a hail storm and a little plant fell to the floor and spread the dirt all around.  A few books and other chachkas fell.  While many wall hangings, art work, etc. were at a 180 degree angle to their original positions, none of them fell to the ground.

The only thing left to be of immediate concern was any damage to the 500 gallon propane tank and its lines buried in our backyard.  I had no intention of calling my husband about the quake; I knew he was safe where he was.  Nevertheless, my stubborn-as-a-mule daughter would not get off the damn phone unless I took a sworn oath to call him immediately about any possible danger with the propane tank and lines.  So I made that vow to her and kept that promise.

I know I tend to overreact and exaggerate.  However, the sheer terror that I experienced yesterday cannot be underestimated.  I cannot imagine what it would be like to live through an earthquake of magnitude 8 or 9.

The events in my own life these past four weeks could never have been imagined.  Then, adding to the mixture of the unexpected, yesterday’s  quake made the situation even more surreal.  For the two hours following the quake, I just laughed and laughed.  But then, I became exhausted, kind of like being in a car accident:  finding immediately that no one was hurt, the literal shaking and fear settling in two hours after the fact, a delayed reaction.

One reason I am going into great detail about yesterday’s events is that my precious family and friends are emailing and phoning me with genuine concern.  I am diligent about responding to emails.  Nevertheless, at this time, I cannot keep up with all of the questions about my well-being.  So in effect, I am using this post to make all the details available to them.  I hate the depersonalization of “mass mailings”, and I apologize for getting back to each and every one of them in this way.  It is just physically impossible for me to get to all of them individually.

Of course, the other reason for this post is that, with what little interest I have left in the absolute power of evil people and institutions in this world, there is still a small need in me to get on my soapbox.  I wanted to inform you of my errant meteor theory, despite not presenting it in real term paper form that I had originally intended.

So I had my errant meteor theory experience yesterday.  I wonder what Sunday will be like: we are expecting Hurricane Irene.

POSTSCRIPT:

Listening to the local news last night, a reporter was interviewing people on the street, trying to present the local response to the earthquake.  Culpeper, Virginia had the most damage, situated only 36 miles from the quake’s epicenter.  The reporter approached two female high schoolers and asked them what the experience was like for them.  One young lady responded, “Everything was shooking.  I was shooking.”  All I could think of was that this young woman must stay in school.

PLEASE DEAR READERS, FAMILY AND FRIENDS:  NEVER REFER TO ANY PERSONAL GOINGS-ON IN MY LIFE IN THE “COMMENT” SECTION OF THIS POST AS WELL AS ANY OTHERS ON THIS WEBSITE.  I KNOW ANY CASUAL MENTION IS OUT OF YOUR GREAT CONCERN.  BUT I BEG OF YOU, NOT ON THIS SITE.  THANK YOU.

A Magnetic Attraction for Quirkiness

August 23, 2011

In my post from April 3, 2011, “The Latest, the Greatest, It’s the Library”, one of the topics on which I touch is the quirky library regulars who, without failure, have the weirdest personal idiosyncracies.  I find it equally weird that I seem to be a magnet for attracting these characters.  My son Chuck and I giggle constantly about this state of affairs.

The other day, Chuck had to run me over to my doctor’s office.  In the waiting room, there was an elderly man asleep, clearly waiting for his wife to finish up her appointment.  We sat down, relaxed for a while, when all of a sudden this man lets out the loudest, ugliest snore you ever heard.  Chuck and I just looked at each other and promptly left the waiting room to go into the hall.  Once we were out of hearing distance, we absolutely lost it — on the floor hysterically laughing.   I said to Chuck that I bet he thought I was making up all of those stories about the characters I have observed regularly at the library.  I said, “What is it about me that I attract these people so frequently?”  We calmed ourselves down and went back into the waiting room, where the same process was repeated  two more times.  We managed to keep ourselves under control.

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

August 20, 2011

See if you can figure out who owns this building and the significance of the landscape design.

It is Viagra‘s Head Office in Toronto ( Canada )

The Psychiatrist of Chris Wood Court

August 15, 2011

Allow me the pleasure of introducing you to Bob, the psychiatrist of Chris Wood Court.  Bob has cared for my property, the lawn, the trees, the bushes, those endless weeds, ever since the day we moved in almost 25 years ago.  He has given me a haven that can never be replicated.  There are six houses on the block and they are all under his wonderful care.  More importantly, Bob is one of those rare human beings that personify humanity, wisdom and decency.

Over the years, he and I have had so many conversations about life.  Our children are the same age and they all turned out so beautifully:  academically, productively and kindly.  This is not just due to fate or luck.  Rather, it resulted from relentless attention of the parents to constantly guide the kids to stay on the right path.  It is incredibly time-consuming.  Throughout his work for hundreds of families in the area, he has seen such problems and tragedies develop within families because of benign neglect in child rearing, parental enabling of unacceptable, even illegal actions and an absence of responsibility, almost as if after having these kids, nature would just take its course.  Doesn’t work that way.

One specific lesson he always taught his daughter was that he, his wife and all his familial generations that came before, worked damn hard to establish and maintain a sense of moral value and a reputable place in the community at large.  I am not talking of merely material benefits or career successes.  Much more important are the standards of honesty to yourself, decency to your fellow-man and a commitment to your community.  Parents must expect, with no leeway, the same respect from their children as they do from other people and society.  Bob and his wife have not toiled so long and hard over decades only to see their accomplishments flushed down the toilet by some irresponsible, fun-loving teenage prank or immediate gratification derived from a moment’s whim.  Thus, I in turn, communicated that lesson to my children.  No child should even contemplate any action that would impinge or destroy all that his parents have built over a lifetime.

Our world can be a vibrant, fun-loving, exciting place.  It can also be a cruel and destructive hell.  What we teach our children, not just from time to time, but incessantly, by our words and our examples, will determine what their world will be for them.  In the end, it is the ultimate purpose for living.

Bob is a gift to his family, his friends and the world which he inhabits.  We could do a lot worse than have a sit-down with this  man who has gotten it absolutely correct. I have been fortunate to have had his wisdom available to me for over twenty years.  My psychiatrist of Chris Wood Court is a Solomon of the street, our local enclave and a much larger sphere of influence than you could imagine.

In the very beginning of this website, I used Gloria Estefan’s song “Turn the Beat Around”, to set forth the purpose writing down my thoughts on life.  What held true almost three years ago, is even truer today.  We can change our world, but the most basic building block will be what we teach our children every day.  Love and adore your offspring, but accompany that with what you really owe them: what is right, what is wrong, praise when they act appropriately and a talking down to when they do not toe the line.  Once again, here’s Gloria, presenting us with a wonderful symmetry to my three years of observations:

Maine: By Sea and By Land

July 29, 2011

Movin' on up. I almost drove off the side of the road when I saw this sign on a house.

We had a great day of sailing. Puffy clouds, bright sun and a good wind. Sinbad and his Mama had a day to remember.

Colossal clouds, yet weightless.

Sinbad the Sailorman.

Although looking ominous, these clouds stayed "nice."

All hands on deck.

Pirates ahoy! Where's Johnny Depp?

Back on land, the wonders never cease.

Endless mounds of hydrangeas.

The blue color is unbelievable.

Plain weeds glowing in morning's first light.

My wildflowers never disappoint.

A gateway of roses.

Day's end, last light.

And a rainbow appeared after the rains at dusk. Perfect end to a perfect day.

Schumer: Dignified Dirt

July 28, 2011

As if the real crises America faces aren’t serious enough, our Congress has chosen to make themselves the issue at hand.  They are self-serving entities unto themselves.  Our unemployment rate is the highest it has been since the Depression, our housing industry is under water, our infrastructure is crumbling, our concern for a livable climate is non-existent, our deficit is at record levels, and all these idiots talk about is the deal they personally want to pass for their own legacy.

I was watching Chuck Schumer being interviewed by MSNBC.  His one talking point was that the Senate’s plan was the “best one”.  He threw in all this “analysis” of our system of government and why compromise is the only solution, albeit very difficult.  The American electorate is sick and tired about hearing about procedural snags as an obstruction to fixing our problems.  These great leaders love to quote chapter and verse of how our divided government works, yet avoid at all costs the difficult political decisions that are required to make the government work at all.  Schumer thought he was such a dignified, wise, old man of the party by speaking in generalities about our form of government instead of fulfilling his duties.  Dignified?  No way.  A pompous Senator substituting grand political discourse for avoiding his job duties —- yes.  The whole gist of his interview was an advertisement for Schumer.

Despite Schumer’s effectiveness in amassing votes both at the polls for other Demcratic candidates and within the Senate, he was, in this interview today, a Senator as full of hot air as any Republican.  It was the Emperor’s new clothes all over again.  How dare these politicians, who are so filled with interest in themselves, take so long to make these crucial deficit decisions?  They have had months to hammer out this agreement and used that time to play politics.  The fun and games of the last four months might have provided Congress with chilling, daring risks the closer they got to the debt ceiling deadline of August 2nd.  Can’t they get their thrills elsewhere, without risking the viability of an entire nation?

They may have very well past the critical period for a solution.  They just might have pushed themselves over the point of no return.  The stock market has been down 400 points over the last three days and still, this is not enough of a warning sign for these self-absorbed officials to sacrifice their personal political power for the greater good of our country.  Now they want another short-term deal to take us up to the 2012 elections, hoping for a change in the make-up of Congress and once again, avoiding responsibility by banking on a wish and a prayer that there will be a consensus in another year.  Meanwhile, our nation is in the toilet and its credit rating will most probably be downgraded.  There is no respect or love of country here on the part of our leaders; there is only concern and love for themselves.

At this point, even his fellow Democrats are urging President Obama to activate the Fourteenth Amendment.  I know my President can sit on the fence pretty good, but I do believe that he will take charge of the debt-ceiling issue.  Face it:  whether the President has to go it alone or with some kind of Congressional compromise, the blame will be all Obama’s.  As wishy-washy and pragmatic as he can be sometimes, I think he will do what needs to be done.  I only wish that he would add a huge F*** You to the whole country.

Apparently, Robert Reich feels the same despair and anger that besets me.  He is quite harsh in his words for President Obama.  I understand his intent, but I am not yet convinced of his premise.  Not yet, but I could get there any day now.

I am pissed as Hell.  This financial volatility is totally self-imposed.  Regular Americans are going to take it on their chins, whether their financial security is threatened or their social safety net is damaged, while our elected officials tease and then pull back in their game of Russian roulette.  This approach-avoidance behavior is poison for the country, despite being so tantalizing for our Congressmen.  Let them get tantalized elsewhere.  They will have to get their jollies by risking their own lives, not ours.

The debt ceiling must be raised.  Without  a bond market, there is no equity market.  Congress is playing with fire here and the most ironic part is that the bond market is the epitome of Republicanism.  Congress  has manufactured this crisis by their failure to act and as a result, their interests will take a beating.  Bondfire of the vanities.  Citizens, cities, states, our international standing and good name will all fall due to the stupidity and risky machinations of our revered Congress.  Is all of this chaos, calamity and catastrophe worth it just so the GOP can oust Barack Obama from office?  The GOP seems to think so.  Their political calculations have priority over the financial and moral demands of our nation.  Talk about a bondfire.  Talk about vanities.

However mad as hell as I am, I know as our Congress knows even better, that there ain’t a damn thing that I can do to assuage my anger.  The voting booth holds just so much sway.  Besides, the devil you know really is better than the devil you do not know.  Ask Schumer.  Little snot.

Maine Haystacks and Farms

July 27, 2011

I am up in the north woods and lucky enough to have my son also here.  He always takes me to the most interesting places.  Today, we visited the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts.  Last year, this cutting edge arts school celebrated its 50th anniversary.  Of course, having Chuck by my side, we found the architectural history to be fascinating.  The school’s setting is perfect and the architecture fits right into the surrounding nature.

Haystack Mountain School of Crafts.

Shingles and nature.

The bell tower calling all artists.

The grasses, mosses and forests are a work of art unto themselves.

The Four Season Farm is only ten minutes from our house.  It is  wonderful in its philosophy and produce.  The carrots taste like candy.

The flowers at the Four Season Farm are as delicious as the produce.

Wool felted puppets at the farm's little art gallery.

Sunny perfection.

All in all, a pretty perfect day between the haystacks and farms.