Thursday, July 30, 2009

Tropical Green-land

aka Oregon.

On our Daily Dog Walk, my nephew Tigger and I enjoyed the landscaping--frontyard fountains, clematis wrapping a street sign, hidden lawns, banana trees...


Yep. They were a surprise to me too. (We were exiled in SoCal for thirteen long subtropical years before we escaped to the Sierra and somehow I just never contemplated bananas growing above the Forty-fifth Parallel.) Not only did we see banana trees--no actual bananas growing on them, happy to report--but we also saw a bamboo hedge that functioned beautifully as an impenetrable fence and even a palm tree swaying in the breeze at sunset. Either Global Warming is worse than I thought, Oregonians are jonesing for a tropical vacation, or the gardeners up there are adventurous souls pushing the USDA Zone Chart.

Tigger and I were a bit less adventuresome...We planted coleus seeds for him to enjoy outside this summer and inside this winter.

Bananas and palm trees are just to big to bring inside when the snow falls.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Adventures in Green Land

This year's Aha! moment in Oregon: I discovered that it's possible to eat too many blueberries. I love bluets but I've always had to make them last until the next Costco run. Then we discovered this u-pick berry farm that advertises all you can eat. I ate my way all the way down to the end of this row and then I couldn't look a blueberry in the face for two days. I've since recovered.

A visit to the Queen of Tarte's sale was high on my list of things-to-do. Anyone who greets me with flowers always ranks high with me.This lace-cap hydrangea right outside the barn entrance was the prettiest I've ever seen.

Behind this curtain is the most Zsa-Zsa barn in existence, where the Queen sells everything from raw silk pillowcases and a plethora of chandeliers to old birdcages and vintage lace. Everything oozed creativity in that way that inspires rather than intimidates. To one side was the bargain area where we found a candelabra for three bucks and a woodframe window for five. Love it!

But this was my favorite. It wasn't enough that they provided inspiration and bargains, they also lured us with sweets. Look at the texture--can't you just taste that lemon? Mmmmmmmm.Fabulous!

Oregon makes my eyes feel like they are bleeding green, but I've gotta say there are compensations.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

City of Roses

The Queen Mother and I are happily ensconced in the Portland area.

Portland has:
  • my sister Pooh and her family
  • nurseries filled with flowers and plants, each more enticing than the last
  • a plethora of antiques and collectibles just awaiting discovery
  • shops that are unexplored (at least by us)
  • the International Rose Garden
  • family crafts
  • plenty of to-do projects that we can help out with.
Oh, and did I mention it's ten degrees cooler than Reno?

We have a year's worth of in-person talking to catch up on. So far the subjects have ranged from genealogy discoveries to children to neighbors to what we could do this week. The worst part is trying to get three women to decide what's next without getting sidetracked. Do we pick up more paint chips to find a nice neutral for the living room or measure curtain material for the dining room window? Do we embark on a flower hunt or move firewood away from the fence so the two-by-four can be replaced? Do we start on Pooh's tablerunner pattern or make coffee filter roses first? We can fritter away most of a morning just trying to decide.

Little by little, we are getting our collective acts together into a cohesive whole. Even though we know which activities have the highest priorities, sometimes we decide to tackle a smaller easy-to-finish project or stumble across a dream, like this Crystal Fountain clematis that Pooh fell in love with. Pooh is happy we moved wood so she could access her fence during our cool morning, I completed my flower search around lunchtime and the Queen Mother succeeded in getting us to learn a paper rose technique when it was hot and we were glad to stay inside with the A/C. All three of us feel like it was a productive day and it's far from over. Flexibility is necessary.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

A Blustery Sunday Afternoon

An Immovable Object: the unpruned and fast-growing purple robe locust in the corner of my neighbor's yard. (The green tree on the upper right, just above the orange roses. The one that's shading Lilypad Pond.)
Meets an Irresistable Force: a mini-typhoon roaring through the neighborhood.
Result: Let There Be Light (hot afternoon sunshine on the pond).

The Silver Lining: the water should warm up quickly which will benefit the waterlilies. I think the Loan Shark and Nemo (my goldfish) will like warmer water too. Plus I won't have to skim the pond twice a day next Spring for purple flowers that have fallen in. Oh, and I won't have to clean up leaf litter before it sinks into the pond this fall. Darn.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Christmas In July

I'm listening to Christmas music while it's ninety-five degrees outside. It's not a cheap mental way to keep cool--I'm digitizing some of the Queen Mother's 1940's albums and the Christmas albums are "up".

I'm finding that I love Christmas music ANY time of the year, LOL!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Wild Life

I love my garden and I love taking photos of my flowers. Sometimes I have unintended subjects in the frame. Like this hard worker...You'd think she was impossible to miss but I didn't know she was there 'cause I wasn't wearing my glasses.

Flies of course are always where you don't want them:I know the photo is topsy-turvy; it's just the way I was holding the camera and forgot to correct the orientation after I downloaded it. Mea culpa (that's Latin for "my bad").

I just downloaded some photos and found that bugs had snuck into my pictures yet again:I had a good excuse on this shot though. This hollyhock is a good two feet taller than me and I was holding my camera above my head.

This little ladybug was residing on my Moonstone rose:She's welcome there as long as she feasts on any aphids she finds (I haven't seen even one sucking the lifeblood out of this rosebush so she must be doing a good job).

Swallowtails just love purple flowers, I've observed--my Dame's Rocket, purple coneflower and even little violas all attract them:He's one visitor that I intentionally took a photo of.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Leap of Faith

The Traceys (otherwise known as Tracey and The Other Tracey) treated us at the grand opening of their new venture at 41 Taylor, called...yep, 41 Taylor! At last, a business with an easy-to-remember address. Honestly, using a headboard to make the perfect sign for your business is sheer genius. I admit that's me making bunny ears on Walking Partner's head. I'm not trying to detract from the fab sign; I just get silly sometimes.

The cottage looks even better in person than it does on Tracey's blog, Notes from a Cottage Industry where she's been sharing the remodeling process with us. The fireplace mantle is imposing. Their color palette is wonderful and I suspect I'll be asking for the name of the wall color sometime soon. The teensy bath is perfectly appointed. I loved the lacy curtains and windows shaded by ivy.

What's an Open House without food? Tracey's cupcake frosting is faaab-u-lous (I chose the baby cupcake like a good girl) and The Other Tracey's fruit, cheese and cracker platter was a work of art (we forced ourselves to nibble on the strawberries and dig into the hummus, yummy). Yes, they are not only creative and artistic, but these gals can cook!

41 Taylor is the perfect location for a celebration when a busy restaurant won't fit the ticket. Two tasteful and spacious rooms open to each other--perfect for parties, reunions, get-togethers--with room for plenty of party seating and a buffet. The gals can decorate and cater one's event, or one can BYO food--isn't it nice they have the flexibility to accommodate their customers' needs!

Before today, I've only known the Traceys online and through their booth at Junkee. It was a total pleasure to meet these two gracious and talented ladies in person. I love that they have enough faith in themselves to open a new business right now. I love that their families came from near and far to support them this weekend. Their multipurpose cottage (party central/Tumbleweed Cotillion Faire/vintage lovelies) is something I'll be sharing with friends, neighbors and co-workers!
At least Walking Partner has a mommy with self-control during our photo shoot.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Fireworks Lament

I love fireworks!

No, I really really really love'em. I do.

I love to be as close as possible to them. Close enough to see the mortars in which they are loaded. Close enough to get ash in my eyes if the wind changes direction. Close enough that the big ones, you know, the ones that expand enormously, seem like they are coming to get me.

I just love the whoosh when they fire off, the bang when they explode. Nothing can compare to the fireworks displays we attended when the boys were little. They'd start things off with one hundred thousand firecrackers. Yep, firecrackers no fireworks. That was serious noise.

Fireworks get me going. They make me laugh with delight. Everyone else oohs and aahs and I laugh. Once friends get used to me, I think my laughter is as much a part of the Fourth as homemade vanilla ice cream and the Jimi Hendrix version of the Star-Spangled Banner.

This year, we watched the fireworks from a park on a distant hill. Because the Biggest Little City did NOT have the usual display so we had to strain our eyes to see the ones ten miles east. No one told us we should have taken binoculars. There were no whooshes or booms. There was no laughter. That the dogs were totally cool with it was some consolation.

Let freedom ring and next year I'm buying sparklers and a Piccolo Pete and some groundflowers. Just saying.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Independence Weekend

I have four words for you: Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream!

And since we had extra ice...well, just hadta make a second batch and have an ice cream tasting.

Our traditional Fourth of July bouquet of gloriosa daisies in my favorite summer vase--a blue enameled coffeepot. Sigh, I love summer!

Happy Birthday, America!