Daddy’s Boy

Since losing his best pal Judy, Cueball has been clingy to say the least.  He now sleeps on the end of the bed with us, whereas before he would be quite happy to snuggle with Judy on the couch or the loveseat.

So, he has a three seat couch he could sit on or, in the alternative a two seat loveseat to sit on.  Where does he choose to sit?

Exhibit “A” M’lud.

Daddy's Boy

With his Daddy in the recliner.  Luckily the husband is now skinny enough that it is possible.

The scent of heaven

The hyacinths I have planted along my front pathway are now all in bloom.  It is funny but reliably the pink ones bloom first, then the blue, then finally the white, and for a short period of time the three colors are in bloom at the same time.

The strange  thing about hyacinths is that they seem to wear themselves out.  They begin with huge robust blooms and after a few years they end up looking like English Bluebells, with blooms that are less dense but nevertheless beautifully fragrant.  When I come home in the evening and walk down the pathway the scent can be almost overwhelming and heady.

The daffodils are also in bloom.  It has become apparent however that some of my large clumps are in dire need of division.  I have had a ton of leaves but few flowers, and in some cases, some of the older clumps have not flowered at all.  It is obvious that a good deal of dividing of bulbs is in my near future.  These ones however were planted more recently and are putting out pretty white and yellow blooms.

The Carolina Jessamine is getting ready to bust into bloom and that is another thing that is capable of scenting the air for miles.  Shortly after that will be the Wisteria at my front door, and then my Oriental Lilies.  I can almost smell them now.

Greenhouse Update

The Greenhouse is now at full capacity.  In fact the only way I could get more stuff in there is to add more shelves which I don’t have the ability to do right now seeing as I cannot find the right type of shelving.  The seeds that I sowed almost immediately after the greenhouse was built are now charging along, and today I spent time “pricking out” my lettuce and spinach seedlings that had grown two sets of true leaves into peat pots so they can be placed straight in the ground once the chance of frost has long gone.

If all of the flower seeds that I have planted turn into plants I will be in a world of hurt come true Spring when I will be wandering the landscape a trowel and plants in hand looking for somewhere to put them.

To my delight the Hollyhock seeds that I gathered from last years plants have germinated and seem to be doing well.

There is something so inherently English about Hollyhocks, and thankfully these are the single variety and not the double, which to my mind look remarkably  like the toilet paper carnations that people used to make.  In addition to the Hollyhock seeds which I collected I also collected seeds from some “dead plant” section Stocks which I purchased at Lowes last year.  I am also delighted that the seeds have sprouted and I shall have a nice selection of Stocks to place in the landscape.  Stock is another plant that screams “English Country Garden” and their scent is second to none.

On the edibles front my Fennel seeds have germinated and are doing quite nicely, these are the ones that I am really excited about as I need an inordinate amount of fennel to keep my Black Swallowtail Butterfly caterpillars in food.  As fennel is a perennial in this area I am hoping that these seedlings will keep my boys in food for years to come.

My garden peas are now charging along and I expect the first flowers soon.  This of course will mean that I have to make a trek out to the greenhouse in the morning to open up the door to allow the pollinators in to pollinate the flowers.  There is no point in having flowers if they do not turn into peas.

All in all I am delighted as to how things are progressing.  After an initial battle with slugs basically mowing down all of my seedlings (which was my fault as I allowed the slugs hibernating under the base of plant pots to stay in the greenhouse) I am now seeing the results of my labors and should have a large amount of plants to set out once our last frost date is long gone.  In addition to edibles I will have a large amount of annuals to set out into the landscape and have lots of annuals to place into my containers on the driveway.   Finally I am delighted that my fennel seeds seem to be doing so well.  Fennel plants are so hard to find in this area that I am happy to be able to grow my own caterpillar food which will mean that I no longer have to go on frantic parsley, dill, and cilantro runs to every garden center in four counties to make sure my boys do not starve.  I think it was a good investment.

Where have all the standards gone?

Perhaps is that I am getting old (you notice this when all the Policemen seem like teenagers) but it appears to me that standards in polite society seem to have dropped to a level which has become quite startling.  I have noticed for instance in the past couple of years that it is “acceptable” to go to the grocery store in one’s pajamas.  True it is only pajama bottoms but the fact is that some folks think that it is acceptable to go to the grocery store in their pajamas.

Now I have been known to wander to the mail box in the morning to retrieve the paper in my pajamas and a bath robe but the end of my driveway is the line which will not be crossed.  Sure, I may stop and admire my flowers on the way back to the front door, but I would never hop into my car and go and pick up some milk dressed the same way.

I noted this strange phenomena in my head for a time and then I noticed another startling discovery.  People were beginning to wear their pajamas in other places too.  I have to go to court on a regular basis and noticed that people were wearing their pajamas there too.  What kind of a person gets up in the morning and thinks to themselves “hmmmmm I have to go to court for that traffic ticket this morning, what will I wear, oh sod it I will just go in my pajamas”  I mean who does that?  Who actually thinks that going to court in one’s pajamas is acceptable?

Now I have to admit that I wear jeans to work every day, so my standards have obviously fallen from the days when I would wear a dress or at least a smart pair of pants and a nice top.  In my defense I began wearing jeans to work when my boss did it.  I figured what is good for the goose is good for the gander.  However if I have to go to court to actually appear before a Judge with my boss I am always dressed appropriately, and if I am to appear before a Jury, I never fail to wear a suit of some description.  If I appear in Federal Court I ALWAYS wear a skirt suit, (because I am always terrified that Judge Fox will send me to jail if I wear pants).

It seems to me that what is acceptable to be seen out of doors in has gone so far down that it will not be long before we see people in a full set of pajamas and bathrobes in the grocery store.  Twenty years ago my neighbor (Martha) would be out working in her front garden in shorts and a t-shirt.  She would then need to go to Lowes (or wherever) to pick up more plants.  She would go into the house, and get changed into long pants and a blouse to go and get her supplies and then when she returned she would go in the house and change back into her shorts and t-shirt.

I am certainly not advocating the days when a lady would never leave the house without being appropriately attired in a hat AND gloves, but surely we have to set some basic standards for what is acceptable for people to be dressed in, even in such an informal setting as the grocery store.  I remember standing behind a rather large lady in the checkout line once who was wearing white spandex leggings stretched to their limits WITHOUT UNDERWEAR.  That is an image that I still have nightmares about.

Please people, when you look in the mirror as you leave the house think of the people who have to look at you, do a full turn around in front of the mirror and think about the person who is going to be standing behind you in the checkout line.  It is only fair.

Wild Onion Whining

I know a lot of gardeners think them to be an invasive weed and spend an inordinate amount of time trying to eradicate them, but I like them.  I think they are cool, they can be eaten, and what is not to love about free food?  The thing that I most like about them is that they can be given a hair cut, and the tops once dried can be used just as chives are, and as we all know a small jar of dried chives can be expensive.

As I drive home I see hundreds and hundreds of wild onion plants, in lawns, growing along the roadside on the edges of the drainage ditches, in the grass verges of fast-food restaurant parking lots, everywhere.  Of course that would be everywhere except in my yard.  I don’t understand it, why does the wild onion fairy that works for Mother Nature hate me so?  What did I do to her?   Surely the wild onion fairy knows that I would never take Round Up to them, surely the wild onion fairy knows that at the most the only harm that would come to them would be the aforesaid haircut, and the bulbs would be free to sprout more hair.  I should obviously be considered to be a prime wild onion owner, what crime did I commit to be blacklisted in this manner?  For references I would submit that the Dandelion fairy seems to think that I am a most acceptable owner, and deemed me fit to be the recipient of numerous Dandelion plants, why then does the wild onion fairy deem me unfit.  I am miffed.

I have considered, on more than one occasion, pulling into the driveway of a home that has an expansive lawn liberally pockmarked with wild onions and, trowel in hand, knocking on the door and asking if I could relieve them of their weeds.   I am not sure this would go down well, perhaps the homeowner also likes wild onions and are harvesting their own version of free chives, I am also aware that many people around here have guns.

As it is I think this Spring, when the wild onions are very easy to distinguish from the still dormant grass, I will make a raid under cover of darkness and liberate some wild onions from their current prisons in pristine lawns and drainage ditches and relocate them to my yard.  It is only fair. 

 

 

These are the moments I remember all my life

Christmas is when DH and I get to go on vacation, he is loosed from school and we have a full week free from court.  Generally we choose somewhere where the two of us can walk.   Nature trails, hiking trails you name it.  We generally choose somewhere where we can plan a kick butt New Years Eve and then move on to a National Park that will give us the opportunity to walk some trails.  On this particular year we went to Virginia Beach for New Years eve particularly so that we could visit the Dismal Swamp on the way home.

This shot of DH is one of him charging ahead, him being smart and wearing his hiking boots, whereas I, in a fit of fashion sense as opposed to actual sense, wore a pair of suede boots that of course got soaking wet the minute I sank them down into the snow.  I followed him, as one does, planting my feet in the holes that his boots had trod.   Along the way we saw all sorts of wildlife, most amazing was a group of deer, grazing only inches from us, watching.

By the time we got back to the car my feet were freezing, cold, miserable.  Yet, I remembered that moment of the deer, when a senior Doe looked me straight in the eye and chewed on a leaf, she looked at her children, then looked at me again as if to say ” are you going to bother me?”  “No” I said aloud.  She looked at me again and continued chewing on the leaf. 

 

 

 

Great Backyard Bird Count

This weekend was the Great Backyard Bird Count.  It is run by the Audubon Society and recruits regular backyard birders to count the birds in their backyard and report the results.  With this data they can calculate local bird populations and to whether or not they are thriving or in danger.

I submitted my observations yesterday, after several hours of monitoring my backyard and my feeders.  I know from personal experience that while my year-round residents are thriving (Cardinals, Chickadees, Tufted Titmouse, Blue Jays, Mocking Birds), the visitors are certainly down in numbers and in some cases non-existent.  For instance, during the winter I can generally guarantee to have a large flock of visiting Juncos, all happily hopping about underneath the feeders eating the seeds that the other birds have discarded.  So far this year I have not seen a single one.  I generally have a large flock of Goldfinch, visiting from the Western part of the State for the winter.  This year I have seen no more than six at a time.  The same holds true with House Finch and Purple Finch, I have perhaps seen one or two when in previous years I have been inundated with them.  I would normally get a small contingent of Brown Headed Nuthatch, who tend to join the Chickadee/Titmouse gang to feed but again this year I have seen none.

Perhaps it is because, as I have said before, we have had no real winter this year, and perhaps the finches thought that the flight to the coast was not worth it considering the temperatures where they were.  All in all it was an interesting enterprise to me.  I just hope that it does not become a trend.

Titles for life

What is it with the American tradition of bestowing titles for life on people I thought that kind of nonsense was something you people revolted against all those many years ago.     Right now we are watching the clown show that is the Republican primary elections and we are being told that the candidates are Governor Romney, Senator Santorum, Speaker Gingrich, and Senator Paul.  Of those four the only one who actually has claim to that title is Senator Paul.  The rest of them are former office holders who do not have a claim to the title .

I can understand being called “former governor” etc., but this tradition of bestowing these titles for life on people is sort of creepy to me.  I mean I was  Petty Officer in the Woman’s Royal Naval Service, but I do not insist, nor would I expect that people  continue to call me Petty Officer 20 years after I have left the service.

The candidates, as far as I am concerned should be referred to as “former governor Romney” “former senator Santorum”  “former speaker Gingrich” and “Senator Paul”  anything else is utter madness.  You people seriously like to hold on to your faux monarchy long after you claim to have abandoned it.

I have no words

Having grown up in England and only moving to the US in 1991 I find it completely and utterly incomprehensible that the following story was even an issue in 1958.  The most progressive and powerful country in the world still had laws like this on the books in the 50s is just amazing to me.  It is like the US was a different planet back then.

http://blogs.suntimes.com/demand/2012/02/the_loving_story_a_landmark_interracial_romance.html

I simply cannot imagine that a Sheriff was allowed to go into a couple’s home and arrest them for the “crime” of marrying someone of the wrong race.  It is sad that there are a great deal of people in this Country to this day that agree with that law.  They are very vocal on the blogs, and very vocal at Town Hall meetings.  The fact that an African American is occupying “The White House” makes them insane.  Just as the Sheriff was insane in the Loving case.  The US has a long way to go.

 

 

Britishisms

It would appear that there are a great many people in the US watching Downton Abbey, if my twitter feed is anything to go by.  This has resulted in many of them using some particularly English language in their posts and tweets.  My dear Imani (of Angry Black Lady fame) has taken to using “brilliant” quite often, to the point that she admits she must curb her use of it. There has been several discussions in the use of the term “clever” which the British use in many different ways other than to label someone “smart”.

This led me, as things invariable do, to a discussion of other utterly British terms that simply cannot be translated into United States English.  One of these is the term “cheeky”.  I discovered the impossibility of translating the term ten years ago when my sister was visiting and she said to one of my American friends “you’re cheeky aren’t you?”  Many hours later, out of the hearing range of my sister, my friend said “what does cheeky mean?”  I sat there and wondered for a while, and wondered a little more, and then had a ponder, and then a little more wondering at which point I shrugged my shoulders and said “I have no way of translating that for you, there is no word in the US that compares”.   This is true seeing as “cheeky” has such an amazing breadth of usage that it has no equal.  Someone suggested to me just the other day that “sassy” was a possible, but again it fell short simply because “sassy” generally has only one usage whereas “cheeky” does not.

For example to quote a scene that was more than likely used in at least three of every four “Carry On” films an elderly gentleman approaches a female and says something similar to “that is a lovely blouse Mrs. Jones, but you would look much better out of it than in” whereby Mrs. Jones responds “you cheeky devil you!”  In other words it is a response to a “risque” or perhaps the more English “saucy” comment.   (And there is no point in explaining “saucy” as there is no translation for that either).

Contrast that example with the other usage.  A person (generally a young child with no manners) will make a remark to an older person to the extent of “you old bag” to which the “old bag” will respond “you cheeky little sod” (sometimes prefaced with “piss off”).  My dim memory seems to recall Vera Duckworth of Coronation Street calling several people a “cheeky sod” on numerous occasions but that could just be the wine.   Nevertheless, we have now got two distinct usages of the term.  Of course the coarser version is “you cheeky little bugger” or I suppose nowadays “you cheeky little f**ker” would be used, (albeit not by me).

As with “sassy” there is the shortened “sass”.  As with “cheeky” there is the shortened “cheek”.  This is used generally by an older person to a younger person in the same way that “sass” is.  “Don’t give me none of your cheek young man”

So then a dilemma, what is the direct translation of “cheeky”?  I would certainly be grateful of any help you can give because my delicate British brain has been trying to figure it out for ten years now and as yet, I have no answers.   Perhaps it is one of those words that simply have no translation, there are certainly others, I would suggest that there is no translation for “gurning” for instance, or for that matter “barmpot”.   The English language is a wonderful thing, and all its variations are a joy to behold.  Perhaps it is best left to its mysteries.