Thursday, April 30, 2015

At the botanical gardens

Yesterday, I took a lunch and spent some time trying to relax at the local botanical garden.  While the work is being done on the house, I feel my "space" is being invaded.  Getting away helped only a little, but I did enjoy the gardens.  They are very, very lovely this time of year.  Here are some pictures from yesterday.
Even from the parking area, there are azaleas in grand show.
A pyramid magnolia flanks the entry path.
A prominent feature in the gardens' design is the lake.
I chose a weathered table at the end of the lake under the shade of some bamboo and watched the turtles vie for a sunny spot on the rock in the lake.

My table was visited by a couple of damselflies.

On the west side of the lake is a rocky hillside full of wild columbine and white Silene caroliniana.
A bridge across the south end of the lake leads by a buckeye tree that stands alone as a specimen plant.  It is currently in bloom and humming with bees.
At the edge of an open area beyond that, I found a sweetshrub.  Some people call this a Sweet Betsy Bush (calycanthus floridus).
Along the various trails, I found flame azalea,

fire pinks
green and gold,

and lady's slippers
A woodland wildflower trail leads to the bamboo garden below the dam.  There I saw a maidenhair fern
and trilliums.
There is a bench amongst hostas and ferns that sits by the stream just below where the water is piped in from the lake.  It's a great place for a little solitude.




Wednesday, April 29, 2015


I've had the chance to think about hail over the last three weeks.  It was horribly destructive, but the science behind it is still interesting. 
(I also wonder if in the days folks had ice boxes they scurried out to pick up the hail to put in their ice boxes--free ice in the summer or spring.)
One thing I noticed after the hail storm were the muddy spots where the hail had smacked the storm door.  Some were pretty high up.  I puzzled over that because it seemed they were too high to have bounced off a muddy surface and then up to the storm door.  Then I saw a good big muddy splatter on the siding about 9 feet high. 
This seemed to indicate that the hail itself contained all the dirt, dust, or debris.  That made me wonder if it picked up the dust when it was being formed or if it picked it up in the air just before it made contact.  From what I read, the hail is formed when supercooled (below freezing, but still in liquid form) water droplets in a cloud encounter any sort of solid material around which to form a nucleus.  That solid material could be dust or debris (or an ice pellet that has already formed) that has been swept up into the cloud by the strong updrafts.  Apparently, the hailstone forms layers as it falls through the cloud or if it is swept up again by an updraft.  Below are some lumpy pieces that I picked up when the hail started falling.
The first pieces to fall weren't as large as the later pieces.  The piece that broke my neighbor's bay window was described as the "size of a lemon."
It was interesting to be sure, but I will be happy to never experience it again.


Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Amaryllis 'Cinderella'

Several years ago, my neighbor gave me an amaryllis bulb for Christmas.  I have kept it alive (but barely).  I really don't have enough indoor light for it to grow properly when it's inside, but it manages to bloom every once in a few (or several?--I'm losing track as the years go by) years.
I like the drama it brings to a room. 
(I have carefully composed my picture so as to obscure the scant and browning foliage.)

Incidentally, these blooms are from one of the two small secondary bulbs that formed from the first bulb. 
What a beauty!

Monday, April 27, 2015

Sweating the small stuff

I admire people who don't sweat the small stuff (at least most of the time--it is sometimes a pain when they are in customer service).  I'm the kind of person who sweats the small stuff.  Or maybe I just sweat the big stuff but everything seems big. 
When the roofer came out to give me an estimate, the first thing he did was smash his ladder onto my pinks (dianthus).  I got the pinks from a 96-year-old lady who was on the paper route that I did 15 years ago.  Then he stepped on the oxalis that Mama got from a lady she worked with 60 some years ago.  Then behind the barn he stepped on the bottom edge of a piece of lattice.  Sure it looked like it was languishing there amongst the leaves.  (Darling son had rigged it up as a wall in the neighborhood sweetgum ball fights.)  But it could have been used to replace the hail damaged piece under the porch.  I couldn't say anything much about the plants because there were pieces of siding and bits of shingles all through the flower beds, and the Japanese stilt grass was sprouting up like crazy.  I guess to him it just looked like one big jumbled mess.  He stepped on some seashells, too.  I later said to myself, "I know he is more careful about where he puts his feet when he is up on a roof!"  To him, I just said, "I'll try to weed around the plants so you can see where to step."  I spent an incredible amount of time picking up bits of shingles and siding.  The bits and pieces went into the buckets that were cracked by the hail.
Raking worked for some of the stuff that wasn't driven into the ground or in the flower beds.

(See how nicely I pruned back the shrubs so the siding guy can get to the house?  There was lots of debris under the bushes.)

After I spent an incredible amount of time weeding, I got smart and went to the supply store for surveyor's tape to mark off the flowers.  I had a lot more confidence that roofers could see orange tape than carefully weeded-around flowers.  "Do you carry surveyor's tape?"
(Dude, you know I have a follow up question.  I ain't just asking if you have surveyor's tape out of idle curiosity.  I'm getting vibes of Marcel Ledbetter stopping the 100-car banana train to ask if they want a possum.  Clearly this man is not going to sweat the small stuff.)  Another man came up.
"Can you point me in the direction of your surveyor's tape?"
"Right there on the bottom shelf."  Now was that so hard to say??
I spent a good while cutting stakes from privet and setting up "crime scene tape" where my plants had been assaulted and battered.
I had a super long list of stuff to do to get ready for the roofers.  A lot of it was moving things out from the perimeter of the house.  Darling hubby moved the gas grill off the deck, but scraped the living daylights out of my rain barrel in the process, and I spent more time cleaning up little blue slivers than it would have take me to help him lift it down the steps so that it didn't go crashing and scraping against the rain barrel--the rain barrel which also was on the list of things to be moved--the rain barrel which I put as a lower priority since I could just put the lid on to keep out shingle crumbs and then make sure it was moved before they did the siding--the rain barrel that the roofers dropped the old rain diverter on and cracked the lid!
There were some plants under the gable end of the house where the heat pump is.  I thought they should be safe there but decided to move them anyway.  Which meant when I uprooted the Japanese maple seedling which had been languishing in a decrepit 6-cell pack so long it had grown roots into the ground under the 6-cell pack, I HAD to put it in a bigger pot with a little more potting mix.  (If I bent over once in this process of cleaning up debris and getting prepped for the roofers, I must have bent over a thousand times.)
My neighbor who used to be a cop was out on his porch having a cigarette while I potted this up.  He does know this is a Japanese maple, right?  And that I'm slipping it over here under the crepe myrtle not to be surreptitious but to give the new transplant a little protection from the sun?
Did you know our siding, which was installed only 7 years ago, is no longer being made in this color, beige?  We got the last two boxes.  I'm wondering if that is enough.  Did you know that this trim that is darker than beige is not "linen" but "almond"?  Actually, it's not almond, either.  Ha, ha, fooled me.  Did you know you can send a young man on an hour and a half round trip to return one piece of corner board in "linen" and exchange it for "almond" and he can come back with "tan," which it turns out is actually the right color after all?  But that in the evening light when a woman wipes the tan corner board, she will notice that the J-channel piece in "linen" should actually be in "beige"?
Now can you imagine a woman trying to explain all this to the siding guy?
I watched one of the guys go around the house with his magnet on a stick to collect the roofing nails.  He spent a good amount of time doing it, so I wouldn't fault him for the job he did.  However, I'm collecting the roofing tacks that I find here and there.  (Yep, I've got a good collection already.)  I've been cleaning up lots of asphalt "crumbs," too.  I guess part of that comes from the shingles being so old.  That had gone beyond their life expectancy and were disintegrating.
Okay, I just got a call.  The local place doesn't have "beige" J-channel.  They have "sand and stuff like that" says my siding guy.  So I'm off to run an errand to the hinterlands to fetch "tan" and "beige."
Wish me luck!

Sunday, April 26, 2015


Yay, we have a new roof!  High time, huh, since the original roof was about 23 years old. 
I have to say I admire the strength, flexibility, and sheer endurance of the guys who do roofing work.  I admire athletes who are good at their game, but, to me, it's still just a game.  A roofer, on the other hand, is actually doing something worthwhile and constructive.  Up and down the ladder, hauling shingles, scraping off shingles, bending over to tack nails.  It's really a lot a hard work.
When I looked out the door Friday, I could see the shadow of the roofer who was on the very peak of the house.  He was sitting there scraping off shingles.  Then he would get up and haul a handful over to throw into the trailer.  He certainly had my admiration.


Thursday, April 23, 2015

Easy elegance of viburnum opulus

A reliable old favorite around these parts is the snowball bush, viburnum opulus.  Mine is from a rooted cutting my mom gave me.  It's the kind of plant that gets passed on from generation to generation.  Mine is planted in the back corner of the yard, and I think I like it best when it is at the edge of an open area that way.  It is especially pretty in the evening light.  I usually cut some of the blooms for a bouquet.



Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Does your car reflect your personality?

I generally look at a car as a means to get from point A to point B.  It's a good thing I see it that way considering I drive an old Chevy that has hit three deer and been through a hail storm.  I see some people though who have their identity all tied up in their vehicle.  There was the guy at the nature park with the big pickup.  It was immaculate.  He was sitting with his feet hanging out the door getting every last vestige of grime off his shoes lest he soil the floorboard mat.
So even though I'm practical about this thing and am laid back about a dent here or a ding there or some sand in my floorboard, I do occasionally take flights of fancy and say, "There goes my alter ego."  Maybe it's a sporty Camaro or Jaguar or even a Goldwing bike.  Maybe it's something as simple as a new model sedan without chipping paint or dings or dents.  Sometimes it might even be a big rig like the one that came into the neighborhood yesterday to deliver shingles to the house down the street.  It's rare that we have a big rig in this residential area.  I was so taken with the way it looked that I had to photograph it. 
Now just look at this paint job and say, "Oh, Bonnie, that's you, that's you."

(My neighbor asked me what company it was.  I didn't know, but my camera has better zoom than my eyes.  In the picture, I could see the WCS which stands for Western Cedar Supply.)
When you see me shifting through the gears on the freeway in my big rig, this is the song that will be going through my mind.


Tuesday, April 21, 2015

"Nature's first green is gold"

I often think of Robert Frost's poem, "Nothing Gold Can Stay" when I see the early leaves, especially on the maple (or even, as in the first picture, a newly emerged Virginia creeper).

"Nature's first green is gold..."
"Her hardest hue to hold...."
"Her early leaf's a flower..."
"But only so an hour...."
"Then leaf subsides to leaf..."

"So Eden sank to grief,
"So dawn goes down to day.

"Nothing gold can stay."

Monday, April 20, 2015

Windshield cracks distract

Yippee, I have a new windshield.  Darling husband arranged for a guy to come out and fix our two windshields. 
The first time I drove my car with the broken windshield (the day after the storm), I was worried that the windshield might fall into my lap when I reached 55 mph, or that it might shatter if I slammed the door too hard, or that a cop might stop me and give me grief for it being unsafe.  I did a little searching on the internet and decided I would be okay if I just left my window open a smidgen when I closed the door and if I didn't slam it too hard.  If I focused on the road, I could look beyond the cracks, the worst of which were on the passenger's side.  I did fairly well focusing until I realized that one crack looked a bit like a helicopter and another looked like a tree!
Here is the "helicopter" as seen looking through the windshield from the driver's seat.

The "helicopter"

As you look through the windshield from the driver's seat, the crack shaped like a tree is to the left of ("in front of") the "helicopter."  It is right next to the frame of the car. It was harder to photograph because the light reflects in different directions on different parts of the "tree," so all the cracks don't show up at once.  What is really amazing is that two curved cracks form the trunk right under the canopy!
The "tree"

The "tree trunk"
The "tree" from outside the car
Here are the "fireworks" behind the helicopter

It's nice to have imagination, I think.
But it's also very nice to have a new, clear windshield.
(The economics of this thing--DH had comprehensive, but they said it would take more than the car was worth to fix all the dings.  The paid him money instead.  The money more than covered the repair of my windshield as well as his.  We will just live with the dings.  Pretty much looks like a kid went crazy with a ball-peen hammer on the cars.)