24 years ago today

I first laid my eyes upon a man with a really weird haircut, and a strange accent, and incredibly blue eyes.  I fell in love on that day.  Twenty three years later we are still together, unlikely as it seems, considering that  we spent  only six weeks together from meeting to being married.  July 14, 1990 the day that changed my life.

Moon Flowers

One day, a year ago or so, a man turned up at my office and asked if he could clean our windows.  He said he would clean the windows inside and out for $10.00, and he would do it twice a month.  I not only liked the idea that I would not have to clean the windows but I loved the idea of a guy and his wife getting a boots on the ground business started.  I happily accepted and he has been cleaning our windows twice a month since then.

He also shares my passion for gardening and pets and we often discuss both as he is cleaning the windows.  Recently he asked me if I had any Moon Flowers in my garden and I told him no.  I also told him that I knew what they were because I had listened to a local radio station and a man on there announced to everyone that he had Moon Flowers blooming and anyone with a lawn chair and an hour or so was welcome to come out to his yard and watch them blooming.  I was fascinated.  I Googled  it of course and was blown away by the way these flowers bloom.

So Frank my window cleaner said that his Mom had a ton of Moon Flowers in her garden and he would be happy to gift me one.  Last week I came back from court and there was a large pot with a plant in it outside my office door.  I brought it home and put it with the other containers in my driveway and promptly forgot about it.  This morning I noticed that it had bloomed overnight and realized that this evening I had to be out there to see it happening.  Frank had told me that I needed to look for an “Okra looking thing” on the stem, which would then become a bloom.  I noticed one this evening while taking out the trash and went inside to get my Bloggie recorder.  By the time I had got back outside the thing had bloomed.   There was another bud that looked like a likely candidate so I sat there in the driveway with my Bloggie and waited.

I have to say I was blown away.  I had heard about these things but I never thought that they would live up to expectations.  I was completely and utterly wrong.  They really do bloom in front of your eyes in real time.  It is amazing.  I would love to show you my Bloggie video that I took this evening but unfortunately my computer and my Bloggie are having a falling out right now so it is not possible.  I will however link to this, which is exactly what I witnessed this evening.

http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=moon+flower+opening&FORM=VIRE2#view=detail&mid=F333ED1B65CD1541AC29F333ED1B65CD1541AC29

If you have never witnessed a Moon Flower opening I urge you to do so, it is truly a sight to behold.

 

Mothers Day

I have always been in awe of my Mum. She was deserted by her philanderer of a husband in the 60s with two kids under five to raise on her own. Her parents had both passed before I was born and therefore she was basically on her own. As I have told before she rented a small two up and two down house (with an outside toilet) until she saved up the princely sum of 5 pounds as a down payment on a house. She was on the Brit equivalent of welfare but still worked 40 hours a week as a cook at the local university cafeteria to be allowed to earn a pittance above her welfare check. (Whatever she was given in welfare was deducted from her paycheck per week, whatever was left she was allowed to keep). Her mortgage was 4 pounds 18 pence a month. She paid 5 pounds in order to get it paid off quicker. We were clothed from thrift stores, I earned money sweeping the front of the local store, we picked left over veggies from the weekend market, and collected left over coal from the trucks turning at the top of the hill.

And you know what? I never went hungry. I never felt that I was not dressed appropriately because Mum had a sewing machine and if hot pants were in fashion then she could make them for me. I remember when crocheted ponchos were in fashion my mum got out her needle and all her bits of spare wool and made me one. It was my own “coat of many colors” that I was so proud of.

Several years ago she sold the house that she put a 5 pounds down payment on for one hundred and sixty five thousand pounds. I’d say she did well for a mill girl from Carnforth.  My Mum rocks!

Flossie is Weird

The pets in my house get treats every morning.  The cats get their evaporated milk (kitty crack as I call it) and the dogs get a bone of some description.  This morning they were both given a split pig’s foot.  Skeeter, as usual, placed his on the last step of the staircase and proceeded to demolish it.  Flossie scooted out of the dog door with hers and I assumed she ate it outside or more likely she had buried it as is her wont.  I was right what Flossie had done (which is just so Flossie), was bury it so that she could dig it up later, then rebury it and so on and so on so she can keep digging it up all day.

She has been in and out of the house periodically with the ever more filthy pigs foot in her mouth.  The first time it had just a light dusting of dirt and leaves on it, the second time it was totally covered in black soil, the third time it was coated with not only the black soil but had a healthy cover of large leaves as well.  I would provide a photo but “someone” ate my camera battery charger.   You have to give it to her, whereas Skeeter only got pleasure out of his bone in the morning, Flossie has had the benefit of it all day.  I liken it to children and Halloween Candy, there is always one that gorges on all the candy all at once and always another one who stashes it away to eat later.  Flossie is the stash it away and eat it later child.  As we speak she has dug it up for I believe the last time and is now eating it, I suppose she figures that she will get a new bone in the morning so she better dispose of this one now.

I have to point out that she not only does this with bones but with pretty much anything I give her.  More often than not when I am left with the last crust of a loaf of bread I will break it in two and give the dogs half each.  Skeeter will eat his immediately, Flossie will inevitably bury hers somewhere.  If she is feeling adventurous she will take it outside, however if she can’t be bothered to do that she will simply turn around and bury it in the cat litter box.  It is not unusual for me to see her carrying around a sawdust covered crust of bread several hours later.  Like I said, she is weird.

The Odds

I had to take my bosses car to the shop today due to an oil leak.  Stevenson Toyota in Jacksonville has possibly the nicest waiting area on the planet.  It has all of the beverages you can ever imagine including hot tea, it has a tv, it has newspapers, it has computers with access to the internet, I mean it is a pleasure to sit and wait for a car to be serviced.

As I sat there and drank my hot tea, and read the newspaper, a young black man with twin 19 month old boys came into the waiting area.  Their names were Abraham and Aaron.  They were dressed identically except for their shoes, Daddy admitted that he cheated with their shoes, Aaron’s had black soles, Abraham’s had white soles.  At one point they both took off at the same time in the opposite directions and immediately “having ones hands full” came to mind.  Daddy knew to chase Abraham first cause he was the trouble maker, Aaron he caught up with afterwards.

Daddy bundled them up into an oversized chair and pulled up some game on his smart phone and the boys giggled with him as they played the game.  Two perfect boys enjoying a precious moment with their Daddy.

At that point my heart broke.  I could not even imagine the fear of Daddy, the absolute terror that his two precious boys were going to either be shot by some asshole with a gun and a superiority complex or they were going to end up in jail for something as simple as pot possession.  I know that he has going to have “the talk” with his precious 19 month old boys about how to react when they are pulled over by the police, I know he is going to have to have the talk about how to react when they are accused of a crime that they did not commit.

I sat there and watched, as a white woman, a joyous daddy and his sons, and my heart broke.  I cannot even imagine how it feels to be the parent of a black son in this country in these current times.  I know for a fact that a white parent does not wake up every day worrying about that.  Something has got to give, and give soon.

The Dead Plant Section

I have mentioned the “dead plant” section at Lowes several times but it is time that I elaborate on this.  At my local Lowes there is a section at the very back of the Garden Center to the left which contains plants that the local nurseries have determined to be lost hopes.  These for the most part are perennials that have already bloomed and are therefore no longer attractive, or annuals that are looking a bit tired and therefore unsellable.  For the most part they are discounted to 50 cents or less.

This is an absolute gold mine for the dedicated gardener, especially when it comes to the perennials that have already bloomed.  Sure they have done their stuff for the year, but that doesn’t mean they are done for their life.  It is also a gold mine for things that are sold as annuals but actually perennialize in your area.  Here in my area Dianthus is a reliable perennial, five out of ten plants come back year after year, even in baskets and containers.  So true with Lantanta, particularly the Ms. Huff (I cannot describe it better than it being a confetti looking flower with pink, yellow, red, and orange petals all on the same flower).   I bought a Ms. Huff lantana about ten years ago, it was a four inch pot, and it cost me 25 cents.  I stuck it in the ground in the circular bed by the side of my patio and it has just exploded into the most magnificent plant I have ever known.

Every year it comes back larger and larger, to the extent that it is now six feet tall and at least six feet wide.  I have to admit that this year, due to our extreme ice storms I thought I had lost it, but sure enough, when I checked the base of the dead stalks there were the shoots, coming up from the frozen earth.  She is again going to be magnificent, feeding every butterfly and humming bird within miles.  All for 25 cents and a tiny bit of work.

I cannot express to you how much I recommend the dead plant section at Lowes.

 

 

 

Girly Gardening

Today we went to the garden center (Lowes) and picked up some plants so that I could indulge in some girly gardening.  Of course I headed back to the “dead plant section” of Lowes which I love, some of my greatest finds have been found there, and I picked up lots of flowers to fill my containers which edge my driveway.  I also found citrus trees, loaded with fruit at half price, from $29.99 to $15.00.  I got a lemon, a grapefruit, a mandarin and an orange.  I know I am going to have to crowd them into the greenhouse for the winter but just the idea of a fresh grapefruit in the morning it was worth it.

So when I got home I did my girly gardening.   For those of you unfamiliar with the concept, girly gardening involves container planting, while wearing pink gloves, and a jaunty pink hat, and, depending on the time of day (late in the afternoon) sipping a glass of cold white wine while gardening.   I got all my containers sorted out, with my usual color schemes, red, white and blue, and purple and gold.  The Red and White Dianthus in the containers from last year have returned and are currently in full bloom, I only had to add some blue lobelia to complete the color scheme.

I replaced the weeds and grass that had taken over the other containers with purple Angelonia, gold Marigolds, and gold Portucalaca.   The large containers were planted with purple Angelonia, purple Pentas, and gold marigolds and portucalaca.

I love girly gardening, it gives me to the opportunity to be the uber gentile English woman.  Yes the backbreaking work of planting the vegetable garden begins next week but for this week, I can wear pink gloves, and a pink hat, and drink a glass of wine while I sort out my containers.  It was a good day.

Easter Lily Rescue Season is Here!

Everyone know that at this time of year I urge everyone to go out and rescue neglected Easter Lilies.  They are flooding the stores and garden centers right now, looking resplendent in full bloom (having been forced in greenhouses).  These Oriental Lilies (which is what they are), will soon fade, and after Easter when their flowers have dropped the poor beasts will be set in shopping carts outside the stores marked “clearance” and will be sold for pennies, they will sit in that cart and look for all the world like a prom queen after her date has dumped her as she sits on the gym steps, with her shoes in her hand and mascara pouring down her face.

Unfortunately those that are not rescued by clever gardeners like ourselves will be thrown in a dumpster and will live out the rest of their lives trying to bloom in a landfill.  Some will succeed, others will just become compost.  Let us band together and promise that we will not allow that fate.  Let us all pledge to rescue these poor abandoned Easter Lilies wherever we see them.   Take them home, take them out of the pot into which they are confined and plant them somewhere where their roots can spread, and their bulbs can multiply, for years and years and years.  Do not expect them to bloom at Easter however, because they won’t, they were forced in a greenhouse to bloom at Easter remember, but in the early summer they will delight you year after year with beautiful smelling white blooms that will only get better with age.  If there is one thing I know about Easter Lilies when you rescue them from the pots and set them free they reward you with their beauty.

The rescue period will begin on Monday.  Get yourself out there and rescue some Easter Lilies!

The Four Yorkshiremen

When I was a kid we lived in a two up, two down house on Westam Street.  It was basically a living room and kitchen on the ground flood and two bedrooms upstairs.  It had no bathroom.  There was an outside toilet, totally separate from the house, and all body washing action was conducted in the kitchen.   The only hot water in the house was from the small hot water boiler in the kitchen which was basically a hot water on demand type of deal which is so popular today once people realized that boiling a whole tank of water a day is a total waste of money.

Like I said we had no bathroom.  Bathing then was an issue.  Mostly Mum would fill a metal bathtub for us and my sister and I would share a bath.  Occasionally we would take a bus to my Auntie Dot’s house, get off at the stop at the bottom of the hill and then trudge up the hill and we would all take a bath, in glorious hot water, in a proper bathtub.

I am relating this information because my water heater quit on me.  Luckily the weather is warm enough that taking cold showers every day is not a problem, however I hate washing my hair in cold water,  the short term fix then is boiling water and washing my hair in the kitchen sink.  I remember how to do it, you place a face cloth over your eyes and pour a container of hot water over your head and get your hair wet enough to lather.  You then wash your hair and then using the same face cloth over your eyes, pour enough water over your head to rinse off the suds.  As I said this is a short term solution until I can either get the water heater fixed or figure out an alternative for hot water.

It occurred to me how easily I can default to my earlier life and figure out how to cope without what is commonly thought of a basic necessity, on demand hot water.  I was also able to do this after numerous hurricanes here in North Carolina, I had a set up on the barbecue where I had a constant supply of charcoal (no electricity) on the grill and two or three huge pots of water boiling at all times, both for bathing and for dishes, it kept us going for at least a couple of weeks.

Yes I know my childhood story sounds like the Four Yorkshiremen but in my case it is true.

 

Flossie has a sock in her mouth

It is therefore hers, and she will go to any lengths to make sure that I do not take it from her.  She will charge out of the doggie door at full speed and find somewhere in the yard to bury it.  It is hers dammnit!.  This reminds me of the dog property rules which I read years ago and by which Flossie abides as if her life depended upon it.

1. If I like it, it’s mine.

2. If its in my mouth, it’s mine.

3. If I can take it from you, it’s mine.

4. If I had it a little while ago, it’s mine.

5. If I’m chewing something up, all the pieces are mine.

6. If its mine, it must never appear to be yours anyway.

7. If it just looks like mine, it’s mine.

8. If I saw it first, it’s mine.

9. If you are playing with something and you put it down, it automatically becomes mine.

10. If its broken, it’s yours.
The only rule that Flossie does not follow is number 10, because she doesn’t care if something is broken, in fact broken appears to make things more attractive to Flossie. The most miserable piece of chewed up cell phone charging cable (yes several of them) appear to be great treasures to her.  No matter how many times I try to throw them away she will retrieve them from the trash bin and lovingly carry them around like a trophy.

The absolutely hilarious thing about Flossie is that when she is given something she walks away quite normally and tends to it (usually it is a bone which is a treat she and Skeeter get in the morning).  When she has stolen something however her attitude changes completely, she KNOWS she has stolen something, so she prances through the house, head and tail (what is left of it) aloft, because she thinks she has got away with something, she is Flossie, the great thief, the legendary Flossie, who has a sock!

I swear I will never fully understand Boxers even after spending my entire life with them.