SPIDERWORT – Marilyn Armstrong

Flower of the Day

They are true blue, but for some reason no matter what camera I use, show up as purple. Something about the way the light hits it. I finally got them back to their natural color, which is a rich, cornflower blue.

 

NOTHING GOLD CAN STAY – Marilyn Armstrong

A Photo a Week Challenge: Gold

I live in the land of gold, at least for somewhere around a month every year. Autumn is golden time here in the northeast unless we are rudely interrupted by a hurricane or a very early snow. Sometimes, the gold lasts right through November and finally vanishes in December.

Lackey Dam, ducks and a swan
Mallards on the Mumford

Followed about one week later by a major blizzard. I’m not sure why, but that’s the way it seems to work.

FOREST LIFE WHEN SPRING HAS COME – Marilyn Armstrong

OH FOREST PRIMEVAL


I laughed when Ellin wrote that the weather is perfect for outside. “Not too hot, not too cold, and the bugs aren’t in full attack mode.” Or something to that effect. People who don’t live here don’t “get” the bugs.

We don’t just have insects. We have hordes of insects with jaws and stingers. Tiny ones that get into your eyes and ears and clothing.

The trees will darken as summer progresses

Evil ones that carry disease and vicious ones that requires trips to the doctor and antibiotics. And of course, the slithery ones that eat your trees for breakfast, lunch, and dinner until they are naked. The trees are naked. The bugs are furry and itchy.

This year, so far, the bugs are “normal.” I see no evidence of returning gypsy moth caterpillars and I just hope that we are back to normal again. Nothing more vicious than mosquitoes and flies seem to be out there, discounting the ever-present ants, of course.

So this is our forest. It has come into bloom. Yesterday, actually. You could pretty  much watch the leaves unfurl. It’s not quite summer, so I think we are going to get a week or two of actual spring! Amazing! We deserve it after our last, endless winter.

HIGHLY UNLIKELY AND DEFINITELY ABRUPT- Marilyn Armstrong

WordPress Photo Challenge – UNLIKELY

Also, Abrupt!


Yesterday it was cold and rainy and they promised today would be better. Not merely is it better.

Old hawk’s nest high in the oak tree

It’s just BEAUTIFUL. Warm, sunny, with a very light breeze. Spring arrived. Finally. I don’t know for how long it plans to stay. We’ve been teased before, but maybe this time, it’s the real deal.

Budding oak woods. You can see the damage from all the storms.
The budding of the oaks

Abrupt? Well … yesterday I was seriously considering turning up the heat and today, I’m thinking “air conditioner.” Is that abrupt enough?

Gate, from inside the yard
My carefully cropped front gate from outside … and Duke, of course.

We are not yet blooming, except for our forsythia which are in urgent need of trimming back. They are finally so big, they barely bloom at all.

Just about to bloom Japanese maple

They are huge and if not cut back soon, I think may march right into the house and take up residence here along with the flowers and dogs and us.

Inside, looking onto the deck. I’d open the doors, but Duke would be through that screen in a nanosecond.

I should mention that you really should wear shoes if you are going to walk on the path recently clipped of thorny roses. Ouch!

A STATE OF CHAOS AND CONFUSION – Marilyn Armstrong

This morning, I took the camera and went out to see what I could see. It isn’t nearly as cold today as yesterday, but warm? Not really. Still, I could be outside in just a sweater for the fifteen minutes it took to take a few shots of our so-called garden.

Garry took the fallen Fred Flamingo and stood him upright. He now welcomes all comers to the garden mess!

I have done no gardening at all this year. By now, I usually have it cleaned out, clipped down and about as organized as it ever gets — which isn’t very organized. It has been too cold, snowy, rainy, and windy for any kind of gardening. It has been bad enough to make me want to completely avoid going outside. At all.

Today, the sun is shining. It isn’t raining. Although we don’t have snow on the shoots (no flowers yet, just shoots), it’s a complete chaotic mess of a garden. I’m hoping by next week, not only will I have finally stopped coughing, but the weather will coöperate so I can go and do the few little things I can to make the place “almost” respectable.

In the meantime, everything is growing! Give those shoots a few days of warmer temperatures and sunshine, and we might just have a springtime miracle.


From Nancy Merrill:

Spring in Utah is like living in a state of confusion. Each year, the fruit farmers live in constant dread of late spring snowstorms and hard freezes that could wipe out their entire crop. The day after my tulips opened, we had a crazy snowstorm that blanketed our garden with about an inch of snow. Fortunately, the next day the temperature was in the 50s and the snow melted. At least we don’t have to water the gardens yet.


You can see the daffodil greenery and the many lilies. It’s going to be a bonanza year for day lilies.
This green and yellow climbing plant is not a wildflower and I don’t know its name. Probably put here by a former owner, but has in the past two years, really taken over the picket fence.
A big year for day lilies. I can see it!
More of the green and yellow climbers!

A LEAF AND LEAVES

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Leaves or Trees


If we have a lot of anything around here, it’s leaves. Lots of woods mean lots of leaves. Oak and maple, sassafras and catalpa. And there are more, many more. I take a lot of leafy pictures. These are all leaves. If I start adding trees, I could be here all night. 

THE STORM ENDS AND CLEANUP BEGINS

MORE THEN MERELY MESSY


All that drenching rain came pouring out of the skies — and it wasn’t the first time in the past couple of weeks, either. What had remained of grass in the front of the house  was just dried or almost dried mud. When these rains came, it washed the mud down from the upper lawn and turned the sidewalk into a mess of oozy brown mud.

Many leaves will fall!

It’s pretty awful out there. Drying out as we speak, but what to do?

Between two old and broken backs and arthritis crawling into every part of two skeletons, it’s hard to figure how we will get it cleaned up. It’s not like the dogs … who think layers of dirt are just fine, thank you … are likely to help. Right now, the yard is exactly the way they like it. There are fallen branches and twigs everywhere plus all the leaves that fell after last fall’s cleanup.

Our leaves are a three-stage process. During the early Autumn days, the maple leaves fall first. As soon as the color fades, they come down like rain into giant leafy drifts. Owen usually cleans them up. He has a machine to do that and it helps.

The storm of yesterday

The next wave of falling leaves consist of half the oaks, as well as the sassafras, any remaining maples, and the few other deciduous trees such as the Catalpa. Owen gets them, too, or most of them. There are always a few which are missed.

Finally, there are the leaves we don’t collect because they hang on the limbs until winter. Some don’t fall until the following spring. The last, late oak leaves don’t drop until late November or December. No one cleans them up because there is usually snow on the ground by then. There are — I don’t think this is much of an exaggeration — millions of leaves every autumn. Anyone who wanted to live in a woods and thought it would be romantic was right — except that living in a woods gets complicated and often messy.

You can’t leave the sodden leaves rotting against your house because it’s unhealthy for the house. It keeps your foundation damp. Damp foundations are unhappy foundations.

The bed of leaves remaining in what we humorously call “the garden” goes to insulate flowers (and weeds) from the bitter cold. We certainly had a bitterly cold winter. January was one of the coldest months on record. It was so cold, we didn’t get nearly as much snow as usual because when it’s that cold, the air is too dry to make snow.

But then, we moved abruptly — in a matter of hours — from well below freezing into the extremely springlike, mild temperatures. All of February was punctuated by a couple of warm days followed by a couple of bitter days. A bit of snow, a bit more snow, more melting … and deluges of rain.

Window outward

It’s a mess around here and I feel I should shut up about it because however much of a mess we have got, a lot of other people have a lot worse with which to contend. We didn’t lose any trees. Our roof is intact. No cars or people were crushed. We have some small branches and a million twigs everywhere, but no larger life-threatening limbs fell. Something of a minor miracle considering what might well have occurred.

These are the times when being old is a significant deficit. If we had even a little more money — we got whacked last year by the door replacement (Thanks Bob, for the help or we’d never have made it!), the exploded hot water heater (third times the charm?) and adding a stair climber to the steps from the front door to the living room. But to use the climber requires a viable walkway from driveway to door … and right now, we don’t have one. Fortunately, I can still lumber my way up the extra steps from the basement. I notice that Garry is beginning to have trouble with the steps too, these days.

The long driveway when the leaves are (mostly) gone

The great truth is we are not getting younger. Garry is in good shape for a man turning 76, but he is turning 76. He was never handy around the house. That is a kind way of saying that he has never had either interest or aptitude for house stuff. For years, Owen took care of it, but Owen moved out and doesn’t have nearly enough time to take care of it … and Owen himself is eligible for AARP. How time flies!

Withe the failure of our government to support older people both in health care and generally in keeping them from falling below the poverty line, hiring others to do the work isn’t really in the cards. We got a 2% raise in Social Security last year — less than $5 per month per check and of course retirement funds never go up, so whatever you got last year, any inflation means you are that percentage poorer. It is fortunate we don’t eat a lot.

Meanwhile,  I’d like about two weeks of a strong young handy-person to help straighten up the mess. I thought I had one, but he seems to have vanished. It’s possible poverty forced him to look for a better deal elsewhere.

Yellow before red

In the midst of the deluge and hurricane winds of yesterday, the builder came by to look at the problems we are having. We have a window that has sagged and is under the vinyl, obviously rotted out. It will need to be replaced. Whether or not it’s just the window that need replacing or the wall around it also need replacing remains to be seen. Regardless, it has to be fixed. There’s no alternative. We cannot easily extract ourselves from this house. We can’t “keep it up” the way it should be and that saddens me … but we can at least make our best effort to keep it from falling down.

It’s not the “what” of the mess with which we deal. It’s the “how” that’s killing us. Now, I have to call my son and find out where the faucet is in the front of the house. I think it’s buried in leaves near the front door. I hope it is!