Saturday, July 4, 2009

Fourth of July

Today is one of those days for remembering the folks who have made it possible for us to live in this country, and to live freely. My personal thanks go to Lewis Puller, Jr.

Remember to be thankful for our freedoms:

A freely elected government - You may not be thrilled with the current administration, but you had a chance to go and cast your vote. It was not brought to you by a military junta or coup and you have the opportunity to help change it in just a few years if you wish.

Freedom of the press - Again you may not like CNN, or MSNBC or Fox News, but they are free to report what's happening everywhere in this country. We are not kicking journalists out, or stopping them from going out into the streets to report what they see, or telling them what to print or say on the air.

Freedom of speech - You may not like what I say, and I may hate what you say, but we can both say it pretty much wherever and whenever we want.

Freedom of assembly - Meet me anywhere we like to discuss whatever we want, and wear whatever you want - even if you are female.

Freedom to worship whoever, however, wherever or whenever we choose, and the freedom not to worship if that's what we choose.

Freedom to pursue our life, liberty and happiness. Probably the hardest part of this one is figuring out what it is we want to pursue in this life.

Along with these freedoms come some responsibilities, and it often seems like we forget about them. Mostly we are responsible to respect the fact that everyone else has the same rights. We tend to want to stop folks from voicing opinions we don't like, or deny assembly to those who espouse a cause with which we disagree, or try to muzzle the press or those whose opinions differ from ours. Many of us want the freedom to follow our own religious practices, but do not want to respect others in the practice of theirs.

It's a give and take, but most of all it's rights balanced by responsibility. Maybe we need to listen a little more to those with whom we disagree and see if there is some way to find a common ground on which to meet. Happy Independence Day!

Friday, July 3, 2009

A Stately Lady

Four or five weeks ago the garden was like an exuberant teenager - bursting with color and new flowers in bloom nearly every day, going every which way, growing lush and never the same from day to day or hour to hour. Today it's a much more sedate lady - content to settle into a mid-summer routine, still elegant and colorful, but resting. In her own way she is just as lovely - perhaps more so - but more calm and comfortable. We've gone from Bridgit Bardot to Catherine Deneuve, so come look.

The first rush of daylilies is nearly over. The minis - 'Happy Returns' - are done for now. I deadheaded them this morning so that they will set new blooms and continue to bloom for the rest of the summer - just smaller blooms and fewer of them. The big daylilies are also slowing down. There are some gorgeous tall yellows still coming on. The 'Richmond Spiders' will be done by the end of next week, but they have been just gorgeous. [I will need to divide them this fall - if you are within a reasonable distance and want some, just ask.] The deep purple ones from Andre Viette is still blooming - and actually I did not expect this many blooms the first year - but on its last buds, too. So there will be fewer lilies soon, but still plenty of color to attract the butterflies and hummers.

The monarda is full and lush and the shasta daisies 'Becky' came into bloom this week. They are your run-of-the-mill white shastas, but my granddad always said you need a few white flowers to set off the color of the others.... and he was right. They are mixed in with the monarda, so it looks great together. There are gladiolas sprinkled throughout the bed adding accent color here and there, too, along with the yarrow.

The hibiscus 'Lord Baltimore' and 'Texas Husky Honey' both started blooming this week, along with two shorter [un-named] varieties - one white and one purple. And there is one pink hollyhock that came up near the 'Harry Lauter'. It appeared suddenly thru the branches looking like a pink bloom on the shrub. It's actually very pretty. All of that is in the major garden out back. Actually, that's what I think of as "the garden". The rest are just "planting areas" even if they are sometimes lovely, too.

Out front in the boomerang the garden phlox started blooming this week, along with the plumbago. The phlox is two shades of lavendar - one dark and one light. I'm sure they have names, but don't recall what they are. The plumbago came from Garland's garden several years ago - maybe nine! It has struggled and struggled, and suddenly this year it's gone wild. It doubled in size and has bloomed merrily. I want to treat it nicely and hope for more spread for next year.

Guest Garden

You may remember that in May I brought you pictures of Garland's garden in Brevard, North Carolina. I did not know it then, but her's was the first "guest garden" I featured. Today I visited another - very different - garden. I hope to get back with a camera next week and share that with you soon.

Walnut Grove, MN 1809

Ma: " Laura, take your sister Carrie and go into town and pick up some groceries from the General Store. Tell Mr. Smith we will pay him when the winter wheat is harvested - in October."

SanFrancisco 2009

Waiter at Market Street Grill: "Thank you for dining with us, Sir. I hope you enjoyed your dinner. I'll be happy to take this when you are ready."

Diner: "Thanks so much. Everything was lovely. Let's see.... two steak dinners, appetizers, a good bottle of red wine, and dessert.... $155 plus tip. Here's my IOU. You can collect it from Gov. Schwarzenegger in October with the assembly passes a budget."


Owner of small dairy: "Well, Eddie, you've worked hard this month. Took really good care of all the cows and got all the milk delivered on time and in really good condition - just like every month. Here's an IOU for you. Just take it to the bank and they will cash it, and they'll collect the cash in October."

Right! Maybe the folks in California want to re-think all those propositions they have passed for the past few years..... just a thought.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

There's Lots More

Note: I wrote the following two posts in mid-June, but failed to publish them. They are a bit out of date - see tomorrow's NEW post - but the pictures are good. Enjoy!

I wasn't kidding yesterday that it's more than I can share. We now have thousands of yellow daylilies, Monarda, hydrangeas, clematis, mandavilla, Asian lilies and even calla lilies in bloom - and that's just the back yard. The purple river looks like it may re-emerge as the perennials re-bloom, and the Shatsa daisies are ready to pop.

Monarda - These were a gift from a former boss of Mitchell's. They are a lovely shade of purple - more like cerise - and the bees and hummers love them. There common name is Bee Balm. Apparently the smell is a sort of bee tranquilizer and calms them down. I've never been stung around them and they are usually filled with bees... so maybe that's correct.

Mandavilla - of course this is an annual, but one Mitchell particularly loves. Mother gave us the plant in May and it is flourishing. We have used this same obelisk for several years. This variety is a velvetty deep pink, not really red as I first thought.

Clematis - This is the oldest and most established clematis we have - and we have lots. It has grown on this iron trellis for about five years. The flowers are a dull orchid, so not the prettiest we have, but them come back year after year in a larger clump.

Asian lilies - Some years ago I planted many, many Asian lilies - I just love them. They first summer they were lovely, and the second year the rabbits ate 90% of them. This is one that survived. this year it has nine buds on a five-foot stalk. It's just gorgeous. Next year I'm going to plant more - rabbits or not rabbits.

Calla lilies - These are special. If you check the books, you will see that callas don't winter here - but these do. I bought a package at Big Blue Box about five years ago and they have made it thru all those winters. Now I have ten clumps of callas. Not all of them will bloom this year, but maybe next year... They are a prettier shade of pink than this photo really shows. I cut these and brought them into the house today.

What's Up in the Garden

Note: I wrote the following in mid-June and didn't post it. Even tho it's a bit out of date now, the pictures are pretty.

It's that Gemini part of the summer - just hot enough that some days you just don't feel like doing anything but sitting on the bench to enjoy the lushness, and not yet so hot that you have the blahs.

It's also the time when something blooms daily. I hardly know where to start to show or tell. Today, let's just stick to the pond. I planted a number of iris last summer and had one little bloom, but this year they just keep coming. More open daily in two shades of purple - that was a freebie since I didn't have a clue what color they were when I planted them.

The water lilies bloom periodically - both yellow and pink - and the best part.... the Richmond Spider daylily started blooming this week. It is the most gorgeous daylily that I have ever seen. Technically, it's a "red" flower, altho it's really orange. Even I can't call it "red", as much as I would like to. There are big clumps on both sides of the pond. For the next couple of months they will bloom prolifically with seven-inch blossoms. What a gorgeous sight.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

It's a Matter of Style..... and Taste

For the past week it's been the King of Pop 24/7. Since he died late on Thursday [June 25th] he has been the major news story - eclipsing even the pecadellos of the governor of South Carolina. What did his doctor do? or perhaps not do? was he qualified? did he wait too long? Was Michael on drugs? [Yes!!] Where are the kids? what's going to happen to them? Is Joe Jackson over the top? [Also, yes.]

He's been publicly mourned by Jessie Jackson, Diana Ross, the Rev. Al Sharpton and many fans of all ages. Dance-ins have been held. Special tributes at The Apollo. News anchors have gushed over what his music means to them. The pundits have found ways to connect his life to current politics. Rush has claimed that his career flourished under the Reagan administration, but then lagged under Bush, Clinton, and Bush and he asks if his death under Obama portends bad things for the U.S. [I'm serious. I saw a tape of it on MSNBC.] We've seen all the good music videos again and again, and seen more of the Jackson Five than anytime in the past thirty years.

Today we are worried about who gets what in the will. Apparently he left me nothing - just like almost everyone else. And by the way, what does he actually own anyway? and is his estate worth $200 million, $700 million, or was he way in debt? Will the spike in record and DVD sales and potential future sales from re-releases increase the estate's worth exponentially - remember Elvis? Will Neverland become Graceland West? [Probably.]

And, now we are obcessing over the plans for the funeral. Apparently no public viewing at Neverland, and no burial at Neverland - both outlawed by the county. What celebs will speak? Who will attend? [Quincey Jones will not.] Will we see the children? And while we are on the children.... too many questions to write down. [Well, just one: did he consult with George Foreman when choosing their names?] It looks like the event will be held on Sunday in Los Angeles. I have weekend plans and cannot make the trip - drat! But if the funeral does take place on Sunday, it will be a mere 10 days after his death.

In the meantime, Farrah Fawcett who died less than 12 hours before Michael, was [almost] quietly buried on Tuesday in Los Angeles. Plenty of stars were there, and the media of course, but it was not a three-ring circus. Sad stories about Redmond getting out of jail for three hours to attend, wearing civilian clothes with his handcuffs, and being able to spend a bit of time with his father. All tastefully done, and in only five days.

No one can deny that Farrah started out as a leader in "jiggle TV" or that she made her first big impressions as a model and commercial actress. I remember my younger brother getting really excited about Farrah when he was only in junior high school - perhaps his first crush! But she grew up. She worked at her craft and became a good, steady, if not sensational, actress who was nominated for several Emmy Awards. She took on more challenging roles and in her last years gave her time and her celebrity to worthy causes. Her final project was heart breakingly brave.

But her family and friends did not let her death become a spectacle - and good for them. In the beginning I was a bit miffed that she had to share the day of her death with Michael. His death completely wiped her off the news cycle. Later tho, I heard a member of her family say that it was actually a relief to them; that she preferred to keep her personal life private, and it was easier with all the attention turning to Jackson. She started as a poster queen, but ended up as a class act. RIP, Farrah. And, Michael.