Sunday, April 17, 2011

Dainty Bess Rose

Family: Rosaceae
Genus: Rosa
Hybridized by Archer; Year of Registration or Introduction: 1925

Almost every year, the first rose to bloom in my garden is a Dainty Bess rose that is 20 years old.  I planted it in a bed along the south wall of my home in the spring of 1991, and it has been a reliable bloomer every year.  If it holds true to its performance in years past, it will bloom three or four times before frost.

I like it for its single layer of petals and its sweet true pink color.

I hope you're having a lovely weekend.

Tomorrow is also a day.

Friday, April 15, 2011

A Messy Nest

For several minutes on a day last week, I watched a Robin in the process of gathering material for a potential nesting site.  I first spotted her (I assume it was a female, but I could be mistaken)  at the edge of one of my overgrown day lily beds.  She was pulling dried grasses from between the newly emerged plants.  Some of the grasses, evidently, were still slightly rooted, because she would try to take off with a beak full only to be pulled back into the bed. It took her four attempts to finally pull that particular load free of the ground.

I watched in some amusement, and a great deal of sympathy, as she flew the 15 feet or so from the lily bed to the top of the large electrical breaker-box on the outside of my house, a flat site she had selected for the nest.  Plant material more than twice the length of her body trailed behind her.  From the looks of it (above) she was a first-time nest builder. I watched her as she nipped and tucked, but most of the grass was still trailing off the edge, and a considerable amount had already fallen onto the day lilies planted directly below the box.

I've not seen any activity there for the last couple of days and suspect that she has abandoned this particular location as being not particularly well suited to her needs.  I'll leave the area alone for a week or so then remove it, but leave the stuff somewhere in the yard that will be visible to a bird interested in acquiring secondhand building material.  I'll even include, at no additional cost, the green rubber band she seems to have incorporated. Do you see it?

I expect if I looked closely in the bushes and trees in my yard, I could find a few more nesting sites..

Tomorrow is also a day.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Yet Again, 1999 Books Read

(Dover clip art)

Books I read in April, 1999:

Goose in the Pond - Earline Fowler
Pope Joan - Donna Woolfolk Cross
Eater of Souls - Lynda S. Robinson
Twenty Blue Devils - Aaron Elkins
Blood Line - (audio book) - Sidney Sheldon
The Water is Wide - Pat Conroy
Flower Net - Lisa See
Numbered Account -  Christopher Reich
Blood Work - Michael Connelly

Cozy; historical "fiction?"; ancient Egypt;  forensic anthropology; intrigue; non-fiction; mystery; intrigue; thriller. I do enjoy a wide variety of subject matter.  The links under the books' names will take you to (with which company I am associated in no way whatsoever.)

My books in progress are listed on the side bar of my blog page. I'm finding the Edgar Allan Poe a bit daunting. His work is 'spookier' than I remember, or perhaps I've just become more tender as I've aged.

I'd welcome the opportunity to learn what you are  reading right now.  Why don't you tell me about it in the comments section?

Tomorrow is also a day.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Storms and Such

I fell asleep last night with the TV still tuned to The Weather Channel.  I had been watching the reports of the storms that raged through Iowa, Wisconsin and other parts of the upper Midwest.  My thoughts and prayers go out to those hundreds of people who live in towns razed by the tornados and other massive storms who are injured or whose homes are gone or damaged.  Nature is sometimes not gentle.

Shortly after 3 a.m. I awoke to see and hear of even more damage and threats of vicious storms in other areas of the country.  At the time, all was quiet here.  I went back to sleep after an hour or so only to be awakened just before dawn by claps of thunder and the sound of pouring rain.   While the wind blew hard (as evidenced by small limbs and other debris in the streets), our thunderstorm was a light one.  It rained again pretty hard about 10 a.m., then the wind blew the clouds out of the way and the sun came out.   I took the photo above from my back yard about two o'clock this afternoon.  There's still some rain in the clouds but as the wind was moving them along pretty rapidly it will fall on someone else's land.

While I was outside, I couldn't help but notice that the anemometer on my in-ground weather vane was doing a merry spin.  Since I am still quite the photography novice, it took a bit of manipulation of the shutter speed on my camera, and more than a few exposures, to capture the motion to my minimal satisfaction.

The pink blurs in the background are those of my Dainty Bess rose, the first of my roses to bloom. Yes, I got some photos of those, too; blog fodder for later.

I hope you, and those you love, are safe and unscathed by this past weekend's storms.

Tomorrow is also a day.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Blessings on You, George Ballas

"Who is George Ballas?" you might ask.  If you already know, give yourself 100 Brownie Points. 

Mr. Ballas is my favorite person right now.  Why?  Because he invented the

This morning, after I'd had my first cup of coffee, the temperature was 70 degrees.  Dry. Light breeze. A perfect morning for mowing the jungle that passes for my back yard.  It is bad, folks; really bad -- weeds knee-high in spots. 

Upon opening the shed door I immediately had to dodge some wasps who were busy creating their paper nest on the inside of the door frame. Did you know that wasps do not like WD-40? I couldn't find the can of wasp spray so I grabbed the WD-40 and gave them a spritz!  Voila!  Wasps gone!

I retrieved the gasoline container, filled the lawnmower, checked the oil, primed the carburetor, and pulled the starter cord -- and pulled the starter cord and pulled the starter cord.  Nada!  I think I need a new spark plug!

Now, when I'm in the mood to cut grass, I'm gonna cut grass!  Ta-Da!  Weed Eater to the rescue!  It's doing a more than passable job.

I spared this particular weed just long enough to get its photo. Amazingly, it was the only dandelion seed head I saw in the yard.

I'm writing this during a cool-down period.  Swinging that Weed-Eater makes me 'glow.'

I hope you're having a great weekend.

Tomorrow is also a day.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Bits and Pieces

My neighbor's pretty dogwood tree

Bird sightings yesterday included the first hummingbird of the season. Gardening Daughter's advice to make nectar and put out the feeder was just in time.  The little bird lingered only long enough for three or four sips, and since the feeder has been up for several days, I need to inspect the nectar to assure its freshness.  I'd hate for a hummer to find my offering unpalatable.

Two Goldfinches, females, I think, made a brief appearance for a drink from the bird bath and moved on; their leaving was my clue to get out the Niger Thistle seed and refill the finch feeder.  

Blue jays, cardinals and sparrows of various sorts are routine visitors.  While Jays don't have what I would describe as a 'sweet' call, they, like the other birds, are more vocal right now, and the air around my home is filled with bird melodies.  At first light this morning, the crape myrtle in my front yard was the grandstand from which the cardinals were serenading their lady-loves -- a wonderful sound to start my day.

The weather front which moved through the state on Monday (very wet and blustery) brought clear skies on its skirt-tails, and yesterday was a beautiful day.  It's cooler this morning, and partly cloudy, but it looks like it's going to be a lovely Wednesday.

Tomorrow is also a day.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Flashback: early 1950's

Image: Wikipedia;  article

This morning, while starting to brush my teeth, I remembered why I always start with my front teeth; the upper incisors, to be exact.  Although I've been brushing my teeth this way for 60 years, the routine process did not always begin this way. 

Flashback:  Our first Arkansas home was in the country, about five miles outside the nearest town (population appx. 400).  City-supplied water, if there was any,  stopped at least 4.9 miles from us.  When we moved to the farm we drew what water we needed from the well on the screened porch outside the back door.  Many hundreds of buckets of water were pulled out of the ground before my father was persuaded that an electric pump and, at least, a cold-water line into the kitchen were in order.  And so it was done.

Daddy installed a large sink on one wall of the kitchen. I think it came supplied with two faucets, but only one was operational (as I remember, Sister); I had already left home for college before hot water was available inside.  If we needed hot water, we heated it on the stove.

A mirror and a substantial open shelf were on the wall above the sink.  These served as a sort of 'bathroom vanity' (the 'bathroom' was about 50-75 feet away, a privy in the chicken yard).  Daddy's razor, shaving cream and brush, the family toothpaste, our individual toothbrushes,  my younger sister's cosmetics, and other personal grooming items required by two parents, three girls and one boy were on the shelf. 

One morning, as I was getting ready for school, I selected my toothbrush, absent mindedly reached up on the shelf, grabbed a tube and squeezed a ribbon of white paste onto the brush.  As was my practice in those days, I inserted the toothbrush all the way back into my mouth to the vicinity of my left molars.

Gag! Sputter, Gag, again! 

Of course, you already know what I had squeezed onto my toothbrush, don't you?  Yep!  Brylcreem! --used by my father on the few hairs he had left on his head, and by my younger brother.  The tube was the same shape and size as the toothpaste tube and, as I expected it to be toothpaste, I didn't even read the label.  That experience changed forever the way I brush my teeth.

You can take my word for it: a little dab'l do ya!

Tomorrow is also a day.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Spring Is All Around - And Eaglets

White daffodils, Kwanzan Flowering Cherry, wisteria, Japanese Painted Fern, pansy, Stars of Bethlehem, wild strawberry bloom, violets, Japanese Maple.

About half these photos were taken in Gardening Daughter's yard, the others at my place. My Japanese Maple tree has leafed out very nicely.  I was a bit worried about it after it suffered so much from last summer's heat.

The eaglets are hatching at Decorah, Iowa.  The first was out of it's shell early Saturday morning; another may have hatched since I last looked (I've been watching sporadically) and the third egg has a peep hole, already. It's exciting!

Tomorrow is also a day.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

More Spring Things

Carolina Jessamine - my garden

While I was outside yesterday looking at violets, I could not help but notice that the Carolina Jessamine on my fence was loaded with blooms.  It seems like only a week or so ago that I was taking photographs of the dried seed heads. Ah, Spring! 

The air was still, for a change, while I was out, and for the first time since I planted this vine (almost 20 years ago), I could definitely smell the fragrance of the blooms hanging in the air. Perhaps it was because there are so very many blooms on the plant this year.  The fragrance is light and lovely, unlike other jasmine varieties whose perfume I find overwhelming. 

Bees are attracted to the blossoms, too, as I captured below. 

Carolina Jessamine blossom with Bee

I followed one bee around to a dozen or more different flowers in the couple of minutes I was photographing the vine.
It was nice to see this burst of bright yellow. My forsythia, for the second time in as many years, has short-changed me in the blossom department. My huge plant, which is about 8 feet in diameter, had fewer than 100 blossoms on it.  I think I need to cut it waaay back and see if it makes any difference next year. Or, maybe it just needs some vitamins.
While I was at Gardening Daughter's home a few days ago, we were 'touring the property' looking at the new growth on her plants.  She pointed out to me that her Russian Sage was putting out blossoms and said, "The hummingbirds will be here within a week."  She says her sage is a sure indicator. 
She called me yesterday afternoon to let me know that the hummingbirds had arrived, just as she predicted. "Make some nectar and get it out, Mom. They're here." She can be uncanny, sometimes.
That's about it. 

Tomorrow is also a day.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Bits and Pieces

Wild Violets - my backyard

Item: First, thank you all for your thoughts and prayers for my granddaughter. While not completely free of all symptoms, she felt well enough to return to school on Monday after her release from the hospital. She has been to school every day this week, taking her own home-prepared food for lunch.  Even after all the tests, including the nuclear scan a week ago, no conclusive diagnosis was made. Gardening Daughter says she doesn't know whether to continue to be frustrated by the lack of a diagnosis or just to be thankful that her prayers were answered and there is nothing seriously wrong.  It's still a more than slightly troubling puzzlement.

Item: I had hoped to get some much needed work done in my back yard during my blogging break. Alas, it was not to be. I was first hindered by the onset of cold, rainy weather which lasted for days; I think that, until today, we had only about 10 minutes of sunshine during the entire week.  We had a brief hail storm one afternoon; I could see the effects of it when I finally got outside. The tulip magnolia blossoms  are really tatty looking and a couple of early blooming Irises also showed damage.  The second hindrance was that the older I get the more severe my pollen allergies become and they hit in full force on Saturday.  I chose to exit the church service right after the sermon on Sunday because I was, in my opinion, being disruptive by my almost continual sneezing and subsequent tissue use.  Amen - sneeze, sneeze, sniff, sniff, honk, honk!  I made an immediate trip to a pharmacy for some Claritin; it took a couple of days for that to kick in, but most of my symptoms are allayed and  I'm feeling like a human again.  I have decided that I should never be without some Claritin on my medicine shelf. I probably should start taking it when the trees begin to bloom, and before my symptoms become severe.

Item - regarding the photo above: One of my blogger friends "Mimi Foxmorton,"  The Goat Borrower, posted this morning about wild things, particularly wild violets.  She likes'em!  I'll let you read the details of how much she likes them.   I like them, too, and have allowed them to take over a good-sized section of my back yard.  I don't mow in that area until the violet blooms are gone. I've offered to send her some roots; her neighbors will not be amused.  Can you imagine? -- there are people in the world who consider them weeds!

I can't remember when I haven't liked violets; I like the dark green of their leaves, the variegated purples and violets of their blooms, and their fragrance.  Ahhhh!  

Unearthed from somewhere in my memory is the image of Joan Crawford, fur stole thrown about her shoulders, and wearing violets on her furs.  That memory brought to the forefront another memory, the melody and words of the song, "Violets for Her Furs."  I leave you with this rendition (with a change in pronoun) by Miss Billie Holiday.

If you liked the melody, but Billie Holiday is not quite your cup of tea, you might enjoy this YouTube instrumental rendition by the John Coltrane Quartet.

I hope you've had a wonderful week, and are looking forward to a great weekend.

Tomorrow is also a day.