Thursday, July 02, 2020

Summer Storms

I thought I was up early and had beat the sun, but upon inspection, I saw it was after 7:00 and not sunny.  The morning seemed unusually cool and when I looked out my deck door I saw intermittent cloud cover to the East.  I was going to check the weather on my portable technology when I heard that distant growl of thunder high overhead.  The frogs were performing their choral celebration in the woods, a sure sign that rain was on the way.  Their light-hearted chirping was worth a smile.  The air smelled new.

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A change in plans for outdoor work was being imposed upon my day.  I would have to transplant those geranium cuttings into pots on the deck another day.  They were very late anyway and I could wait for the effusive blooms in fall.  My mums were blooming crazy this week and these geraniums may be the only color I get come September.

As the morning moved forward the thunder became more threatening.  The sound was distant and vast and powerful as summer thunderstorms can be.  July is such a drama queen. Within an hour, I heard that pelleting of rain on the skylights.  We needed it and my yard welcomed it.  It was one of those heavy storms with little wind and intermittent deluges of water that fell straight into the arms of the trees, down the troughs of the bark and into the welcoming ground.

I could not do much outside so went to my reading corner with my current e-book and second cup of coffee and glanced out the windows every so often to see how Mother Nature was doing with her petulant child, summer.  These storms give me an excuse to be lazy and cozy.  If they go on too long I find some postponed projects indoors that need doing, such as cleaning off my messy desk or baking some caloric filled dessert with all the fresh fruit of July.  (The peaches are wonderful this year.)

These heavy summer storms are somewhat peaceful in spite of their noise and bravado.  They are restorative and reassuring.  Seasons are not put on hold by tiny viruses.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

The Purists

Am I watching my world more intently this year? Am I observing Mother Nature more closely than before? Was the hot weather here at this time last year? This season seems to be much wetter when compared to the same time last year. Are we becoming a tropical micro-climate?  

Can I keep up or am I going to always be a mediocre/bad gardener?  Continue reading my rant and enjoy the beauties from my garden.

Wild red clover.  Escaped to my yard from a farmer's field.  

St. John's Wort...a native but this one is a cultivar.  

This year I am just a bit ahead of the weeds, but I know that Mother Nature will beat me eventually. She always does. She is such a marvelous chess player and at least four moves ahead all the time.  I am just ahead of the diseases by removing infected parts of plants and not spraying.

A non-native rose and a glutten for food and water.  You can see the black spot already beginning.

This summer I focus on native plants.  I am trying to get rid of many of my non-natives.  NOT ALL OF THEM!  I have the favorites that I love in spite of the fact they do not contribute to pollination or to insect habitat.  But I am trying to make more room for the natives, the locals, those that arrived before we started keeping track of which plant belongs here and which does not, which plant is not invited to the garden party and which plant has a long life-cycle of supporting all that is living but absolutely no joyous beauty and spreads like crazy.  I have to be careful because there are environmental Nazis out there in the plant world that go crazy if you even think about a non-native for your yard.  Maybe when they start paying the taxes I will listen more closely to their myopic chant.

Echinacea or coneflower, a native.  Super popular for those insect and bird lovers.  These are varieties of the wild version.

I used to not speak up, but now I no longer care that my yard is designed by me without adherence to some tightly structured environmental map. I do not use pesticides, use very limited and careful spraying of a fungicide on my roses on non-windy days in the early and mid-season, and do enjoy the varietals of native echinacea and St. John's Wort...even though these do not meet strict compliance of the true native.
Native geranium.  So delicate compared to commercial geraniums.

Buttefly weed and one the super popular plants this decade.

How about you?  Are you a purist when it comes to gardening?

Sunday, June 14, 2020

"Painting" Vases of Flowers

I used to sketch with a pen and ink when I lived overseas.  Clearly self-taught.  I sketched seashells because I loved the shape and symmetry and because I lived in the South Pacific and had little to do when I was not a work.  Natures beauty has always captured me.  This was before children, of course. 

Now I sit at home and read or watch TV or cook. The cooking part is really something I should avoid. So, instead, I then turn to working on my photographs. With spring and early summer blooms there is plenty of stuff to digitize. 

I always admired the flourishing of art and science under the Medici family in Florence, Italy in the 1500-1600s. I even have a cookbook with Florentine recipes collected by Lorenza de Medici and accompanied by paintings by Giovanna Garzoni, a famed female miniaturist of that time. The cookbook was a gift and published in 1994.  While perusing that cookbook for recipes it stimulated my still early attempts at still-life art below from my photographs. Each takes 3 to four hours from beginning to end if I do not count all the sorting and deleting!  I also sometimes go back days later and "fiddle."

I admit that these are still broadly stylized and derivative with no consistent style, but I do like doing them. I have not moved into the areas of bugs, fruit, and animals...yet.  Do you have a preferred one?

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

What is the Rush?

The problem with spring is that it leaves so quietly and carefully that you only notice when the grandstand band of colors arrives pushing an air of heat and humidity ahead of itself and down your throat.

I soon realized in my mid-morning weeding the other day that I will have to get up earlier.  I accepted that the long-sleeved shirt I was wearing might protect me from the sun but needed a much lighter weight to protect me from perspiration drowning.  I have already gotten three tick bites this year and not even left my yard!  Summer is here.

Below some of my beauties for your lock-down pleasure.

These peonies above have finished blooming weeks ago but they made lovely bouquets. I had promised myself I would try some still-life photos, but never got around to it.

These Asian iris above are blooming abundantly in the sun and last only a day.  They spread like crazy so I will have many tubers to give away in the fall.

I realize that mums are supposed to bloom in the fall, but even after pinching these back, they were in a rush to show their colors!  I am hoping they are double blooming??  Some mums are and I am too stupid to remember which ones because some are new and did not double bloom last year.

And while the bumblers arrived in the spring, they are here throughout the summer!  Note the pollen saddlebags on this fellow!  If he can fly I can survive this pandemic.  

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Silly Sunday

Please note that I did not title this post "Witty Sunday" or "Funny Sunday" or even "Dry Humor Sunday," because it is just a simple-minded break from all the chaos on this continent on which I live and all the tragedy on this planet on which I live.  It is not witty or erudite or even interesting, but it is therapy...for me at least.  I love the common visits by my birds.

I did re-size the photo to smaller and therefore the text is not a clear.  Next time I will have to keep full resolution.

Friday, May 29, 2020


This lonely and newly fledged Titmouse has spent weeks tapping at my windows. He arrives in the early morning on the east side of the house where my cut leaf maple tree makes perfect take-off perching.  Then he does his morning exercise while I work on my blog or listen to a series of lectures on Winston Churchill.

He spends at least five full minutes calling and calling and calling. "Peter-Peter-Peter!" Is he calling for his mother and father? Where are his siblings? Did some tragedy strike his whole family?  His song is monotonous.

Then he braces himself and begins the repetitive process of flinging himself (herself?) against the window again and again and again.  My windows are sprayed with his saliva and may soon be scratched with his claws and beak. Eventually,  he flys to the west side of the house and to my patio door.

He peaks in to watch me working or to see if there is food or for some unknown other reason.  He is pretty much unafraid of my coming to the window and trying to tap him away. With that fearlessness and total focus, I am afraid he will soon be hawk food before summer is over.  I wonder when he has time to eat.

Should I open the door and invite him in???

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Before Dinner or After?

Hubby wanted to go out in our canoe and that title of this post above is what he asked me at 3:00 P.M. on Memorial Day. He does not have to twist my arm much as I like the quiet and peacefulness of a canoe trip.  We had been snacking all day, so neither was really hungry for dinner and we decided that leaving at any time would be perfect.

We go past the mouth of our finger of the river and instead of turning left we turn right to go back up away from the water skiers, Skidooers, and partiers sitting on rubber rafts with the American flag waving. 

It does not take long before we are into the hushed part of the river. The part of the river, at first, where only quiet talk from owners on their docks is heard and then the homes become farther apart and we hear only birds. There was the familiar sound...the coo of the mourning dove with her nest high in some jade-green tree, this was followed by the cry of a Blue-jay taunting other birds by imitating the call of the Red-Tailed Hawk, and later, somewhere a sweet and tentative song of the Scarlet Tanager that is rarely seen in the deep green shadows. 

It is the perfect time of the year when spring is leaving but summer has not arrived with the heat and humidity. The only minor annoyance is the few small "no-see-ums" that land and bite and get mashed by my hand if we get too close to shore.

We move in on the territory of two mallards looking for food.  They seemed to disappear and reappear as they eased in and out of the shadows.

They were a reminder of the nest of Mallard eggs that had been eaten in my flower garden last year.  I wondered if these were the same parents.

We paddled on...hubby paddles 80% as I have a camera in hand and a canoe does not require much effort to move when there are no boat wakes to turn into at rapid speed.  There are several old duck blinds in this area that are no longer in use and that may be why the Mallards feel safer.

Hubby had taken the canoe here by himself just a day ago and came upon some crazy carp orgy.  They were splashing and even bumping into the canoe.  They must have worn themselves out, as they were just quietly hanging in mid-water under patches of grasses as we cruised on by on this day.

The air smelled clean and even though the waters look green the smell of the water was pure and fresh as well.

The blackbirds were perching on grasses which is their common behavior. This one below is a juvenile perched on the seed stalks of the rose mallow.

We were enjoying the lower angles of the sun and the calmness of the wildlife away from the noise of mankind. It was a perfect afternoon, but we knew we had to start our paddle back home, and as if giving us a parting gift, the marsh showed us the beginning and the peak blossoms of the mountain laurel with their almost pre-historic flower structure.  They grow in poor soils along steep terrain proving their tenacity to weather it all.

We felt restored as we headed back into the land of the crazy.