Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Update on the front yard.

The daffodils and tulips are gone, of course, but other things are starting to fill in, compared to how these beds looked when I first put them in back in the fall.  It will be a few years before it looks a little less sparse, but I can see the progress in the small shrubs and flowers.
Last year I had a temporary mandevilla planted by the mailbox to give the clematis a change to get established.  The vine has climbed halfway up the mailbox post so far this year.
The small clumps of creeping thyme have also started spreading out on the stone pathway. They smell good when you step on them.
One of the existing plants from the former owner, this white rose, was on a much smaller trellis and had hostas around the base. I transplanted the hostas so they weren't crowding the roses roots and wrestled a new trellis into place. It seems to be thriving this year. I normally avoid any plants with thorns and also wouldn't have chosen white for a rose bush, but I find that I like this one better than I thought I would.
Last fall I ordered a semi-dwarf crabapple. When it arrived it was bare-root, just a single upright stick, and appeared to be dead as a door nail. Let's just say I was skeptical. But in the spring, it started sprouting branches and leaves and looks promising. It'll be a few years before I get actual apples.
There was also a huge old rhododendron at the corner of the house, but it was past blooming when I moved in. I was happy to see it fully laden with blooms this year.
I have some perennials in the post on my porch (a mini azalea, a small evergreen, ajuga and so on) and filled in with some annuals for color. I like walking in past them - it feels like a welcome.
I planted periwinkle and Mexican primrose in this old wheelbarrow I found under the house. I love both those plants bit they will both take over your yard so I want them contained.
I'll keep posting on the progress as I go. In the meantime, the sentry frog with sit among the flowers under the purple-leaf sand cherry.

Monday, May 11, 2015

This has also occupied my time...

A trek to my older son's university for graduation. And yes, I cried when I caught sight of my little boy entering the arena in his cap and gown.
Well, maybe not so little. And okay, not a boy. But I'm a proud mom, so humor me for my misty-eyed view. I find these milestones both joyous and difficult. Degree in hand, he is taking some time to work and travel and consider grad school options. I look at him and see that his path is outward. As it should be. I know that's his future calling.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

I want to post about gardening but life keeps intervening.

I wanted to get up to Lexington so my boyfriend could meet my father, even though it isn't clear what meaning that has to Dad at this stage of his Alzheimer's. Before Sunday, I had some miscommunication with his wife (who hates me) over meeting. He's recently moved to a really nice assisted living facility and when we arrived, he was out with his wife (who, I may have mentioned, hates me). I think her preference as that we meet elsewhere. We decided to head out to look around some and get some lunch while we waited.
We ended up in a funky little part of town that had this little free library of novels and paintings on the walls. I can't tell if this horse has fallen or is rolling on the ground. We happened to drive by the studio of a friend of my boyfriend's, so we stopped in to visit. He was working on screen printing from a cool woodblock carving of a fish. He also gave us a great recommendation for a lunch spot.
Someone had bought an old bread factory to open a craft brewery and decided to rent out the rest of it to other progressive, community-minded companies. One of them was a seafood restaurant connected by a door to the brewery. We got fish and shrimp dinners and tried a couple of beers - a regular IPA and a high gravity version. All delicious.
Back at the assisted living place, I called my father's wife and when I identified myself, she said coldly, "Okay." Because she hates me. When they returned, she parked him and retreated at a near run. Once she was gone, though, we had a really nice visit. He still knew who I was and was glad to see me, but was unclear about grandkids. He also told me they were selling "the house on the Bay." Except they haven't lived on the Chesapeake for fifteen or so years. Dad can still mostly carry on a conversation, although he often struggled to find words. It's hard to watch, but it helps to see that he's happy.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

I may actually get caught up here and get to move on to gardening posts.

My town has no shortage of festivals this time of year. The Arts Festival was this past weekend, so we headed downtown again. As usual, lots of food vendors and booths with paintings, pottery and so on. We spent a fair amount of time in the kid's section where there were activities set up. Shaving cream swirl paintings, a spirograph-like thing, building a wooden bug-catcher, and this yarn web. It was a beautiful day and pleasant just being outside. We arrived with the younger daughter and left with the older.
Because we had three tickets that night at the Barter Theater. After a stop to change into dressier clothes, we drove up to Virginia and walked first to a cool little bistro for dinner. I had the special that night which had shrimp, asparagus, quinoa, olives and a pesto-based sauce that was absolutely delicious. Abingdon has a nice little main street and we walked around for a while before the show. I may or may not have chased a mallard duck while I was wearing a shortish dress and boots with heels. Then it was "Anything Goes," a 1930's musical with tons of costume changes, singing, and some slapstick comedy that I could have done without. And sailors dancing with mops. Because that's what sailors do, apparently. The best part was watching a 14-year-old girl let down her guard and become fully engaged over dinner and at the theater.  I even enjoyed sitting with her the next morning in our pajamas watching an episode of "Parks and Rec."
And we have to have kidless outings once in a while. When the weather is nice, we love to have dinner out on the Square and then head over to the little speakeasy bar. The best part is that we can now walk in and ask the bartender for "the usual" and he says, "A Darcy and a Blantons?" Incidentally, I checked the menu for the ingredients of a Mr. Darcy - it's sparkling shiraz and limoncello.
I make it sound like we go out all the time, but we don't. Most nights is dinner at one house or the other. This night it was seared tuna.
But as often as possible these days, we eat outside on the deck. Yesterday I broke out the grill and made swordfish with tarragon butter (from last year's garden), grilled potatoes, greens, peppers and onions with lemon-chive butter, rosemary salt, and balsamic vinegar. If it's nice, we sit outside after dinner watching the bats emerge in the darkening skies. Have I mentioned how very easy it all is?

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Chalk Walking

After the llama races, we walked over to see the Chalk Walk. Some of the drawings were completed already, others still in progress.  Below are some of the ones I really liked:

Monday, April 20, 2015

Every town has llama races, right?

Oh. Well ours does. It's one of those fund raiser events, to get money for area schools.
Turns out that although the grounds opened at 11:00, they didn't actually start the races for a few hours. That meant time to kill. Some of the entertainment was fun - I liked these little girls dancing. I was less keen on the dance team of similarly aged girls in heavy make-up dressed in little more than bathing suit-like outfits with feathers. I don't think sexualizing young girls is a good idea. Why make them pedophile bait?
I was there with my boyfriend and his 8-year-old, so we spent some time walking around eating cotton candy and petting all the llamas.
Each participating school had a team in costume. There were Ninja Turtles and the characters from the Wizard of Oz and fairies. But the Napoleon Dynamite team was far and away the best. They nailed the characters, right down to the dance moves.
Their llama was of course, dressed as a Liger (Bred for its skills in magic!)
And then there was the llama parade. Mostly real llamas, but also these two kids in tall llama costumes.
Finally, it was time for the actual races. We stood at the starting line, where llamas and their local celebrity handlers. From our vantage point, I watched as one llama spit in the face of another handler's llama. Okay, so that's dubious entertainment. But I did enjoy it when one llama broke free and crossed the finish line well ahead of its handler. A silly event all the way around, but that was part of the fun.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Easter Hike

I'm insanely busy and far behind on blogging. So I'll catch up a little with Easter Sunday afternoon, when my boyfriend and I headed down to the Smoky Mountains for a hike. Picnic first by the Little Pigeon River.
It was about 70 degrees at home that day and sunny, maybe just a bit cooler in the Smokies and perfect weather for a hike.
The trail started crossing Rhododendron Creek. Repeatedly. One of us had on a pair of sandals while the other had to stop and take her hiking boots off, wade across the creek and put them back on over and over. Yeah, that one was me.
I eventually decided to hike barefooted for a while until we'd left that creek behind and again on the way back. Fortunately much of the trail was carpeted in leaves and moss.
There were some early wildflowers in bloom. Trillium, one of my favorites.
And Turk's Cap Lily.
A few of the creek crossings had either stones that could be stepped on or convenient tree trunks to walk across. But mostly it was straight through the icy water.
This area was occupied by European settlers in 1800, but little remains of the homesites except for stone walls and piles of rock that once made chimneys.
On one former chimney there was a shard of old pottery resting on top of the rocks.
Over the gap and down to Injun Creek, a cartographer goof. It was actually named for the engine that toppled into the creek rather than the Native American/Indians in the area.
Apparently this self-propelled steam engine was use to go up the mountain to bring back wood for the school house in the 1920's.
The driver missed the switchback and the engine landed upside down in the creek and the wheels came off. Oops.
About 6 miles round trip. Every time I go for a hike, I wonder why I don't go more often.