Monday, April 27, 2020

Sail on silver girl. . . . . . .

Good Monday morning.

With hot weather returning soon, I worked on my wardrobe this
 past weekend - time consuming and often frustrating.
We all have too much clothing, don't we?
I plan to do a post soon on things I'm learning about the way we are
 overwhelmed by our clothes. At this time of huge lifestyle changes
 we are becoming more aware of what we buy - and of what we bought 
in the past - which may be cluttering up not only our closets but our
 entire lives. It's usually so much more than what we need - plus how
 we dispose of our clothing is a whole other story. The cold hard facts 
are quite disturbing and have definitely made me realize I need to
 address this issue, and the best time is now with no travel/packing
 to go any time soon!

Travel memories!

No this is not me of course!  But I love this young woman's
 expression. . . . and her hair. It's probably blonde but I see
 it as silver grey!
I want to grow in my grey, yes I really do. But what a long process
it will be. Now would be the time to give up on color, I already have
 about an inch of grey as salon visits are now a thing of the past.
I've stopped blow drying, straightening - instead allow my hair just
to dry naturally and find I now have 'beachy waves' when helped
with a little scrunching whilst damp. My bangs have grown out a
lot and can be swept to the side. I know it's easy right now as I 
don't go far from the house, and with no travel there's no need to
 look polished and perfect!
 Will I continue to reach for the silver when life returns to normal?
Time will tell. Patience is not my strong point at times!

Anyone else giving up on hair color with plans to go natural?
I need support, and any tips are welcomed, thanks. 

“Sail on, silver girl. Sail on by…...
Your time has come to shine; 
all your dreams are on their way.”
 – Simon and Garfunkel

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Garden surprises can be special, sometimes annoying!

Rain again last night but luckily not the damaging storms with large hail
 other places in the southeast received.  
As you can see, the 'reborn' amaryllis is doing beautifully and weathered the storm,
opening even more since yesterday's photos below. An additional surprise
 is that it's not the salmon-colored one I expected, but perhaps 'Charming' from
 back in 2018 which I must have planted out. I think this one is delightful.

A garden surprise is never unexpected, after all a garden is always a magical place.
However bad things sometimes happen.
A plant doesn't grow or thrive in the spot you picked.
A weather happening burns, freezes or soaks it, and an early death occurs.
It is eaten by a hungry visitor - of which there are many - here's a list of wildlife 
that have been caught hanging out in my small garden over the years -

Grey Squirrel
Feral Cat
Black Rat Snake
Copperhead Snake

Most have not just been one time visitors either!
Some, such as fox, squirrel, deer, feral cat, rabbit - have even birthed their young,
in trees, under the shed and gazebo. . . . . .or brought them along from the woods to
 nibble, munch, crunch, trample and crush my lovely plants, shrubs, bulbs and flowers!
Do I get upset? Of course I do.
Do I give up on gardening?  No, and never will.

The underground marauders are almost impossible to deal with - they love roots, 
they need to eat.
The tree climbers escape to places we can't even see at such heights.
The burrowers will always hide out of sight goodness knows where.
The slithery ones are silent and move away effortlessly - and the poisonous
 copperhead is the only one to really be scared of. . . . . and I am!
The beautiful deer of all sizes, though quiet and gentle, can really do a job on a
night time garden raid. Over the past few years, as more and more construction
 has happened close to us and their natural habitat has been stolen from them, 
we've been visited by deer in families as large as six at one time.

I'm really enjoying taking photos with the new iPhone11 Pro.
In fact I'm taking far too many of the garden but what else is there
right now!

Have a beautiful Sunday - perhaps next week, although
still at home, we will hear better news from around the 
world.  Prayers still needed, regulations must be followed.
Let's get those numbers down and hope people will 
soon be able to go back to work.

Friday, April 24, 2020

Right at home . . . . . . .

The days continue.  They are different.  
Sometimes we argue - other times we laugh!
Yesterday we did a deep clean of the master bedroom
together!  Will I let him color my grey roots? No way!
Will I try to give him a haircut? Perhaps!
We are in close quarters.
We are not ill, thank God.  

We are not out of work, but are sorry for those who are. 
As retirees we are on fixed incomes. We have noticed prices
 are already rising in the grocery stores. 
We feel somewhat safe financially as we saved for 'rainy days'
and for what we hoped would be a comfortable retirement.  
We, like you, never expected those days would include a
worldwide pandemic which could cause us to be very ill, or
even kill us!

We are going about these days - which for us are not that appalling - doing
 what we can do close to home. We miss seeing family and friends.
Although we are still avid travelers we have had to change that part
 of life for the time being. We can weather this storm here at home as
 long as we stay healthy. 
I'm sad not to be crossing the pond as hoped this Spring to see my family, 
friends and hometown. . . . . . .but we are now planning to go in the 
Autumn when hopefully all will be well in the world.

Male Eastern Towhee : Pipilo erythrophthalmus

Common name comes from its distinctive "tow-hee" call, but known
  mostly for its characteristic call that sounds like, "Drink-your-tea!
One of my favorite garden birds - the female is beautiful too, brown
 feathers where the male has black ones. . . . . . . .a handsome couple
 when seen together, which is often around here.
He's been sitting in an oak tree singing his songs so beautifully
lately, and I'm sure his mate is on a nest nearby.

Hope is the thing with feathers,
    that perches in the soul,
and sings the tune without the words,
and never stops at all.

Emily Dickinson : American Poet - 1830-1886

Let's all have hope.
Sing if you can.
Listen to the music if you can't.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Go with the flow -

Thanks to all who checked in at my previous post regarding the sizing of posted
 photos.  It seems the majority enjoy the larger format showing clearer details.
As I do often used PicMonkey for editing photos I can change to almost any size.
For those who do prefer smaller, please remember you can always click on a
 photo in the post and have them all appear for viewing in a line at the bottom of 
another screen - there they are in a smaller format. Sometimes though it may just
 be the size screen you're viewing on. I do all my blogging on a MacBook Air 13" 
laptop - when I view my photos on Bob's larger desktop iMac they are bigger still!

Here again are the two sizes of same photo so you can see the difference clearly.
Sometimes I'll use the larger, other times smaller, all depending on the type of photo.
e.g. - larger for flowers, smaller for my face with wrinkles, haha!!!!!!!!

Kitchen Window flowers for today - the Knockout rose clambering around the
 birdhouse below.

All photos via iPhone 11 Pro

Light rain today so no garden chores planned. 
Did a little online ordering this morning, nothing ridiculous, just a
 leather case for the new phone and a few books as I can't
 get to a bookshop for a while.

Cabin fever yet?
Cooking up a storm?
Eating too much?
Walking up and down your stairs for exercise?

Hang in there dear friends. . . . . blue skies ahead.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

This one or that one?

This post may annoy you. . . . . . . . . because I'm posting very large photos!
I know some people have a lengthy wait to download photos depending on
 their Internet/WIFI capabilities etc., and that must be really tiresome. 
Personally I've no problem downloading content (we have Google Fiber WIFI)
 and I do love seeing the large detailed photos which several of you post.
 If you use a smartphone or tablet instead of a larger computer screen, 
it may be hard to view really large photos.  

So this is an experiment of sorts because I have a new iPhone11 Pro and went wild
 with it in the garden the past couple of days!  I have to say the new triple-camera on 
this phone is awesome (includes a telephoto lens) but more than an extra lens it also 
precisely calibrates white balance and exposure.  I'm no techie but do now feel I 
could probably even travel with just this iPhone and leave my camera at home! 
Of course travel is only a dream right now so forgive me if I start to bore you silly
 with so many photos taken in the garden!

So I've added a few photos both in X-Large and Original display which
 gives you a general idea as to the difference.

 Which is better, this one. . . . . . . . . . .

......or this one?
(Kinda like when you go to the eye doctor for a check up!)

I'm going to try some dahlias this summer, picked these up at COSTCO - love them
 but haven't grown them since a child in England - my mother grew 'dinner plate' 
ones and they were fabulous.

Morning Glory seedlings - will be trained to climb up the porch later.

 The garden surprise of the week - my two salmon colored Amaryllis from
 Winter 2018, have decided to come back to life after being planted out over a
 year ago!  I told you gardening takes a lot of patience.

Climbing rose on the back fence.

Basil seedlings sharing a pot of petunias and ornamental ivy planted two weeks ago.

One and only native rhododendron blooming in back garden.

 Peony buds looking healthy with plenty of necessary ants helping them to eventually
opening those beautiful petals.

Trumpet vine almost over but clematis and roses have arrived.

So will you please let me know which size photos you like best of the
 two formats - X-Large (which is the smaller) or Original (the larger).

We've had a few crazy days, first with TV problems! Then getting out to shop for food, 
and pick up the phone at COSTCO in a horrendous soaking rain. When we got home
and I had spent two hours transferring my data (no easy task for moi) to my new 
phone and started to transfer Bob's phone to my old phone, I noticed I had the wrong
 new phone, and had to go back to exchange the next day (all that took several 
hours wearing humid masks in COSTCO (I don't like the tropics and I thought I 
would faint if I got much warmer!). . . . . . and was told off for "idling" (just sitting
 for a few minutes) on the garden furniture display near the Verizon kiosk
 because my legs ached!

Today is much better - watered my seeds, pruned climbing roses that are climbing 
into my hydrangeas, playing with the camera photos. Now off to make potato leek soup, 
and salmon with fresh skinny asparagus because my skinny days are becoming chubby
 I fear with not enough exercise. . . . . . .and eating too much home-baked bread!!!!!

What will the 'new world' be like? 
Are you wondering?
Are you nervous?
Which size photos do you prefer please?

Friday, April 17, 2020

Puttering and pottering about -

My little place of peace and happiness was constructed in the back garden.  
Nothing fancy, now almost twenty years old but still standing strong and sturdy. 
It has electricity to run a heater or fan, but not water. A gathering place for everything 
garden-related. . . . . . .plus anything waiting to be rehoused, sold on, given away, 
taken to the thrift shop, thrown away etc. I probably should re-paint the exterior
 but can't bring myself to cut down the climbing akebia and ivy!  
The floor I painted and stenciled long ago with blackberry vines is fading. . . . . but 
is still visible enough to allow me to recall all those hours on my knees - I could 
never do that now!

This window was so dirty - now I can even see my neighbor's camellias still budding.

On a sunny, cooler day this week I spent about four hours out here.
There was not a lot to throw out, it was mostly taking items into the kitchen to
 wash, vacuuming every surface, and reorganizing storage space.
 Many of the china pots, birds, lanterns, bowls of shells etc. will be moved 
outside to the baker's rack and table on the back deck, or into the gazebo, 
now that the pollen season is just about over.
The gazebo is my other 'home' where I can enjoy the garden views,
the birds at the feeders, an afternoon cup of tea, an early evening aperitif,
supper as the sun falls silently in the west behind my chair, and now the 
weather is warming - even writing my posts and reading yours.

Bluebird nest box and akebia vine on the potting shed wall.

We haven't been shopping in over a week but need to make a
quick run tomorrow morning for salad greens, veggies, milk etc.
We will pick up a dozen fresh eggs pre-ordered from our local 
Farmers' Market which reopens tomorrow for the season.
Strict social distancing and loads of rules in place.
Then we'll head back to the nearby roadside strawberry stall
for more of those delicious berries - strawberry shortcakes 
have been a real treat on several evenings.

Good wishes for your weekend.
Doesn't every day feel like a weekend day now?
Some changes will soon be coming in places with lesser
known cases of COVID-19 - unfortunately not here though.
I'm expecting things to continue as they are for a while longer -
'rather safe than sorry' might be the way to go.

Stay well, be strong dear friends.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Staying Home - The Luckiest

Home Sweet Home

The days come and go. Some good, some not so good. When life is compromised, as it is now, your mind plays tricks. You go to bed, either exhausted and worried but fall asleep immediately, or you lie there over-thinking, tossing and turning knowing sleep will be a long time coming.

What do you think about? 

More bad news and high numbers. What's left in the cupboard to scrabble together for a decent meal tomorrow. Are your family, friends, neighbors really healthy, or will they become ill. Are you really healthy yourself. What about anyone sharing your daily space closely. How will you know.

What will you do if you both get sick?

Yes, too many questions, so you get up again each morning, not caring what time it is. You feel OK once you start moving. If the sun is shining it's better - it was damp and cold here early morning but has now warmed up and the sun is breaking through the clouds. He asked, "What are you planning to do today?" I answered with just a sideways glance and almost laughed, words didn't come. Today however will be a cleaning house day as the pollen is just about gone. He will be mowing the grass. I'm thinking of making a lasagna as I do have a stock of pasta and sauce, and I did remember to buy ricotta and mozzarella when last at the grocery store. . . . . which already feels like eons ago.

Speaking of grocery stores - 

I pulled out this amazing book to re-read after thinking about how shopping for food was much worse for my mother long ago. The late Marguerite Patten, worked for the British Ministry of Food during World War II. Her job was to help families prepare nutritious and appetizing dishes with their weekly rations. She became the doyenne of English cookery writers and was probably one of the world's first 'celebrity cooks'.  In case you're not aware, although the war ended in 1945 (I was born in 1943) food rationing in Britain didn't end until 1954!  

Growing up in that time, I also recall how most houses had a 'Victory Garden' where we grew a lot of our own vegetables, also some fruits such as strawberries and raspberries.  My mother was the gardener at our house, she definitely had a green thumb and, although she always worked full time, somehow made time to grow healthy foods and cook delicious meals with what was available from the shops. Many of my friends and neighbors now have a version of a victory garden also.

Currently I have a very small kitchen garden - just four tomato plants, two Roma, a German Johnson and a Better Boy. Also tucked in there are some squash seeds - and scattered around in sunny spots, several pots of basil, dill and parsley seeds which are just starting to germinate.  My neighbor also grows tomatoes and peppers and shares with me, so I'm thinking Italian dishes will be plentiful this summer!

Do you find yourself playing more music now isolated at home?

I listen mostly to soothing background music - piano, classical, chorale.  I love VOCES8, the a cappella octet from the United Kingdom - they can sing just about anything. If you haven't heard them you should, I think their music is wonderful for this time when we need beauty around us in so many ways. Linking one of their modern pieces - the amazing Ben Folds' (he's from North Carolina) song, The Luckiest 

. . . . . and to their stunning version of Sir Edward Elgar's - Lux Aeterna (Nimrod)

I hope your day is good. I'm going out to walk around the garden, then
do the cleaning!