Saturday, April 18, 2009

Forester Bob

Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic
He's taking some trees out around the edge of the flowerbed. Actually, just two little trees and then some branches from other big trees to get more sunlight in there. Tough looking, isn't he?

As it happens the nasty tent caterpillars were on one of the big branches I needed removed. So, problem solved there too.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Pink Dogwood

Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic
Mensa Boy wants to start going through the woods in our back yard and taking out the dead trees. Then he'd like to plant new trees back there to replace them.
After seeing this one in my neighbor's garden, I told him we should just fill each spot with white and pink dogwoods.


Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic
I found myself underneath this a couple of hours ago. Are they friend or foe? Should I let them live or whack 'em? (yes, I've been watching reruns of the Sopranos lately)


Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic

A Little Sprout

Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic
I found this sprout, among many, in the garden last night when I started cleaning. I like his dual colors and he seems a little stronger than some I've found. I don't know what he is, but he seems like he deserves a chance to grow up to something. So I spared him. If I had come crashing into the garden with a big ole rake I could have missed him and plowed him under. He could very well be a weed. I guess I'll find out soon enough.

I found many promises yesterday when I started. Buried under the leaves from fall and winter were many little green leaves and sprouts emerging from the earth. I gently brushed away the detritus and tried to give them all air and light. I have one Azalea that is leggy but very full of blooms. I'll shoot it later. And my white Azalea is just starting to bloom. And still the guy I call "my deadbeat Azalea," who has not bloomed since 2003. This is his last year in my garden. If he doesn't produce, I'm kicking him out and changing the locks. I'm quite certain my neighbor Mary will take him in.

Some things, when you look at them up close, seem to get more beautiful. Like Dogwood blossoms. But other things are almost uglier up close. That's the way Azaleas are. I think they are best enjoyed from afar.


I watched this movie yesterday afternoon and I must say it is one of the best I've seen in a long time. This lonely, depressed college professor goes to New York to a conference and when he gets to his apartment (he's kept it for 25 years, despite living and teaching in Connecticut), he finds a couple of illegal aliens living there. After only a brief hesitation, he allows them to stay and ends up befriending them and becoming a big part of their lives. The man, a drummer/musician from Syria, is hauled in by immigration and the professor, played by Richard Jenkins, does his best to help him out.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

It's Thursday and I see Spring Break Slipping Away!

I am tired. A little less tired than yesterday, I think. I wasted the entire day yesterday napping and watching a movie. I did go to the grocery store and made a very nice supper. I wish I'd taken a photo of it. It was from Prevention magazine. Next time I make it (and I will make it often) I'll shoot it.

Today I'll go to yoga and then who knows? I may finally get that flower garden work done. But I'm not in a rush to do that today. It's supposed to warm up to the 70s tomorrow and over the weekend so that would be a great time to do some gardening. I also need to start working on my pots.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Gone to Carolina Archive: April 15, 2005

The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, by Anne Fadiman, is the story of a Hmong child with epilepsy and the problems doctors and her family had communicating with each other. Lia Lee had such severe epilepsy and her doctors could not seem to gain any understanding with her parents about medications and treatments. The book was published in 1997 and I sincerely hope things are better for the Hmong people now than they were then.

Carolinians aren't as familiar with the Hmong as Minnesotans are, so this book may not interest my local readers as much. But if you live in Minnesota you really should read this book. I gained not only a better understanding of the Hmong community but also a great deal of respect for them.

"The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down" is the loose translation for the Hmong word for epilepsy. Hmong believe that a person with epilepsy has had their soul frightened away from their body and a spirit called a dab is catching her. If/when the soul returns then the illness will be resolved.

Many Americans think of Hmong as "Laotians" but that is not the case. Laos is just the last place our Hmong were before being brought to the U.S. The Hmong have history in China, Siberia, Thailand, Laos and Vietnam. They were resistant to governments who tried to assimilate them and when things got to be too much they would pick up and move on. The Hmong were brought here by the U.S. as refugees after they helped the CIA with their "secret war" on North Vietnam by serving in the Armee Clandestine in Northern Laos. They were led by Hmong leader General Vang Pao and helped cut off North Vietnamese supply lines along the Ho Chi Minh Trail, supplied intelligence for US bombing missions and helped rescue downed US pilots.

The book is about 50 percent Hmong/U.S. history and 50 percent the story of Lia Lee and her family's clash with the American medical system. I had a hard time putting it down. It does not sound academic at all...more like a very good story.

Life's Not a Beach for Bear

We are back from the beach and I think Bear is glad. He didn't think much of it. After considering his behavior I concluded that he doesn't like it because there is no grass. Bear is a typical walker, stopping at many posts, mailboxes, trees and clumps of grass to leave a liquid note that he was there. But there are no such things on a long stretch of sand. And so he ranged back and forth in front of us, at the end of his rope, occasionally stopping to see if we would pick him up.

He didn't think much of the water, barely sniffing it as it wafted toward our feet. The beach was pretty clean of debris too, so no dead jellyfish to check out, not even any interesting garbage. As we headed back to the walkway that took us to the street, he perked up and almost sighed when we relief when he saw a clump of grass ahead.

It was a short, restful visit. It rained off and on and was fairly cool, so we really didn't spend any time by the water. We roamed around Barefoot Landing and had supper at The House of Blues. We read books and Taylor played video games on his Gameboy and watched videos of Corner Gas on the little DVD player. Monday we had our Easter dinner...ham, deviled eggs and salad. Fresh strawberries for dessert.

And so here we are at home. A mountain of laundry to do and the flower garden to gently clean out. I'll do some yoga and Jazzercise this week and some reading. I like Spring Break.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter Everyone!

We are off the beach in a bit. We'll be gone only a couple of days. Taylor's not a big fan.

I bought some plants yesterday and planted them this morning after church. I picked up a plant called Plumbago that I'd never heard of before. It's got these great little pale blue flowers all over it. The plant is already showy just in the pot. There was NO INFORMATION about it all on or in the pot. I hate it when they do that. I picked it up and carried it around to pay for it. "So you're going to get that?" Rena asked. "Yeah. I like it," I told her. "But we don't know anything about what it is," she said. "I know," I told her. "I'll google it."

It turns out to be pretty much the perfect thing for an imperfect gardener like me. Hard to kill, likes sun, can handle shade. What more can I ask? I stuck it in the ground and watered it well. We had quite a bit of rain a couple of days ago, so it'll probably be fine without more watering until I get back Tuesday.

I also put dahlias and lantana in the corner planters of the patio again. And I bought a rosemary bush to put in the flower bed up at the top where the sun shines all morning and all afternoon. Everything I plant up there dies so I'm hoping the rosemary will do the trick. And it can get as big as it wants.

I also found some yellow poppies and I bought some sweet corn on a whim. I told Rena that Mensa Boy wanted corn but I poo-pooed it because corn needs so much room. "Buy him some corn Karen," she said. "If you don't get corn on it, you can just say it's a grass." And so I did that. Mensa Boy now thinks Rena is a hero. "Now we won't starve," I heard him tell Taylor. hmph.

I ordered quite a few perennials from Spring Hill Saturday morning. I'd love for them to arrive before spring break is over, but my luck they'll probably show up after that and it'll rain for several days. I invested $80 or so into them, so I'll have to get them planted whenever they arrive. I'll take some photos when I get back.

I hope everyone has a wonderful day today. I'm so glad we are having spring break. I can feel myself calming down and relaxing already.