can't you see the sunshine….

Orchid Show

My friend, Debby and I have been talking about repotting our orchids. I have two small ones, grocery store specials. They live inside by my desk in the winter and outside on the table on the deck during summer. They were blooming when I got them and one has rebloomed. The other hasn’t. The one that hasn’t is sending roots out all over the place. The potting medium has sort washed away in both of them. So I felt like it was time to repot. Now, I know, I could watch a You Tube video about it but I kind of wanted a workshop about it. And Debby found one as part of the Fall for Orchids Show put on by the Triangle Orchid Society ( at Duke Gardens. It was on a recent Saturday morning and I was able to make arrangements for someone to come and stay with Ben since I would be more than a few minutes away and gone for several hours.

The show was very interesting. (Pictures in a bit.) What was the best, was the repotting workshop. Attending the workshop were 15-20 people, mostly women aged from 30 to late 60s, some with ethnic backgrounds which after living in lily-white Italy always thrills my heart. The presenter was of retirement age and never really said what he had retired from doing but his wife was a botanist. He came to orchids late in life as a way to have something to share with his wife during retirement. Their shared interest had expanded to include over 1500 orchids.

This man has a HUGE amount of knowledge about orchids and is very passionate about them and loves to share information about them. This was supposed to be a one hour workshop about repotting. Well, first we had to talk about potting medium. (I give this man due credit for emptying all those Talenti Gelato containers that he had for showing off the different tyoes of potting mediums) Then we had to talk about orchid naming and the different places in the wild were the odchids live. How that is important in picking the correct medium. At this point, it is well into the hour. He picks up his blow torch and lights it. Ohhhhhh. Uses it to sterlize his clippers. Then after beating a potted orchid around a bit he yanks it out of its pot. There is almost a collective gasp of horror. I know I coddle and baby my orchids. Don’t let anything get too close to them. Carefully wipe off the leaves. “Oh, no! he says, These things are tough! They live on tree trunks and branches. Animals crawl over them. No need to baby them.” All the while he is hair cutting the roots away and explaining which ones to cut or keep. “You know, I was going to divide this. But now I think I will keep it as one plant. I don’t have a pot the right size for that so I’ll get to this one later.” Shoowsh it gets tossed on the back bench. At this point it is about 15 minutes before the hour is to end. There is a big discussion about parking meters since this is on campus and Duke Parking is known to be rabid about enforcing parking limits. A third of the attendees leave to go feed the meters. The presenter talks about collecting in the wild and the implications and the historical background of this. Finally, 5 minutes before the hour is to end, (and I know this because sotto voce across the table one of the attendees has whispered “you know he has yet to put an orchid in a pot.” I looked up at the clock at this point.) he picks up a smaller orchid, gives it a very complete root haircut. fills a pot with medium, sticks the orchid in, adds some more medium and at 5 minutes after the workshop should have finished HE HAS POTTED AN ORCHID! I think we should at this point give him a standing O or at least a cheer. But since Debby’s sister-in-law is along too I decide to behave.

Now, I know that I have had some fun at the expense of this kind man who was volunteering his time and sharing his knowledge. I apologize for that. It was one of the most interesting and informative hours that I have spent in a long time. I would suggest to the organizers that in the future he should be given a longer time slot. So how about some pictures…

Orchids with bunny ears!

It was a great event. Thanks to Debby for finding and organizing it.

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Piante in carrozza

Getting the garden ready for winter seemed to take forever this year. I might be trying to save way too many plants. I dug and dried the elephant ears bulbs. There must be at least 10 pounds of them. After three weeks of drying and cleaning them up they are finally tucked under the stairs for the winter.

The asparagus ferns moved into Ben’s shower and are trying to take over.

The spider/airplane plant that I started last fall from two little babies that I picked up from the sidewalk in Cameron Village is HUGE! It also moved in to Ben’s bathroom. Before it could do that, I had to trim the babies off. What to do with them?

We don’t have a lot of room for plants. The front and back windows do have nice wide window sills. Guppy interacts with both those sills. She stands on them. So any plants on them would be knocked over. In the front, the things on top of the pieces of furniture are moved off when we leave the house. Guppy climbs up on the lower piece to the left and then sprawls on the wooden piece watching out the window until we return. About all the space that is left is above the window.

The perfect place for the airplane plant babies. It took a while to mount the black bamboo rod. I used leftover brackets that match the other shelves in the kitchen area.

It took a while to figure out the how to make the carrozza ( ‘carriages’) for hanging.

I thought of macrame but all the books about it in our library were checked out. I hit upon using tissue boxes. Cutting them in to strips, weaving them together to make a base and then tying them up for hanging. The real issue was hanging them from the pole so I could reach them each week to fill them up but not too low that Guppy gets irriated with them while she is sitting up there. (The lamp in the picture at the top bears the scars of battles with Guppy.) So far they are okay. Guppy has sat under them one time and there was only a small amount of drips. We’ll see if they make it to spring.

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Wegmans Report (or Oh, Look Harris-Teeter!)

Well, I waited 10 days after the opening to go to the Wegmans here in Raleigh. TV news reported that 30,000 people visited the store on opening day. Even 10 days later when I went the first time, it was still a mob scene. Now, a month and a half after opening it has calmed down some. I have been back every week since then and it is less crowded and I am learning the store so that I can jet in and out. Wegmans is sending coupons, so of course, I have to go. But, they also have things I want to buy and while it is a little farther than my Harris Teeter, it is less expensive for many items than Harris Teeter and the specialty things that I want to buy are there.

So how does the Raleigh store compare to the Fairfax, Virginia Wegmans…. I must preface this by writing that it has been a number of years since I have been in the Fairfax store. Things might be different there now. The big thing that I noticed missing was a large housewares department. (china, serving pieces, dish towels, pretty bakeware) Which is a good and bad thing. In Virginia, the store had Crate and Barrel quality merchandise. And there are Crate and Barrels in Virginia, nearby. There is a Crate here in Durham, not really nearby. I love Crate. I used to work there as a seasonal employee at this time of year. It was a joy to work there because I love housewares. So I was looking forward to a large, well stocked housewares department. But I do not need to be tempted by a large, well stocked housewares department. So it might be a good thing that this Wegmans doesn’t have one.

And I feel that the prepared foods bar has a different mix of foods. But I can’t say exactly how it is different. The Raleigh Wegmans has a burger bar, which we have yet to try. And you can get a glass of wine or a beer in store which used to not be the case in Fairfax. Ben and I had lunch from the prepared foods bar one day. We picked only Asian choices. The egg rolls are really good but there is no chili garlic/duck sauce for them. I can’t remember now what we had but it was good. The prepared food section would be great to take visiting guests or a group with mixed ages or food preferences to. There is lots of seating and it is wheel chair friendly. I would avoid normal lunch time (11:45 -1:30) since there are a lot offices and businesses nearby and employees come in to eat here.

The ready to take home meals section certainly shines bright. I have been visiting the store mainly on Thursdays which is the day that an outside care giver comes in to stay with Ben. I figure I should make my afternoon of respite complete by picking up something from the ‘take and heat’ section for dinner.

This is one of the meals that I have gotten. We have pretty much settled on egg rolls from the prepared foods bar and two Asian dishes from ‘take and heat’ section. It is good, well prepared food and is good value. I am certainly happy to have that as an option.

The bakery section is outstanding. There is a section of mini French pasteries which are $1 each. Not what you would pay at a Carrefour for the same thing but just as good. The problem I have found is that by 4 or so in the afternoon it is sold out. However, there are always loaves of ciabatta left which is not the case at my nearby Fresh Market. Oh, and the cheese……Honestly, tears came to my eyes the first time I saw the cheese department. I pick up something from there every week. It is so nice to have choices. The unfortunate thing is, most of the cheese is cut and portioned for a crowd. Yes, I know that I can always ask to have it split, but really? Is it too much trouble to have some $4 pieces as well as the $8 pieces??????? There are also some tasty looking dips, again packaged for a crowd. Is it too much trouble to pack some $4 tubs as well as the big $8 tubs?

Opening week had a special on scallops. I don’t eat a lot of seafood. Would not touch sushi unless my life depended on it. Seafood doesn’t agree with me. Those scallops were so fresh and good I could almost have eaten one raw. Ben has been enjoying those.

The oysters are pretty too. Haven’t bought any yet but I’m tempted.

What have I found at Wegmans that I can’t find elsewhere.

Well, one thing was these chopped, pickled peppers that I put on subs and Philly cheese steaks. Harris-Teeter used to have them but they completly disappeared as did President brand French butter which Wegmans has. Wegmans also has a very nice selection of tomatoes. They have an 8 pack, mixed flavors of the Danactive yougurt drink while H-T only carries a 6 pack (that costs more than the 8 pack) and H-T has been known to stop carrying it. Wegmans’ house brand pasta sauces are very good. More points for Wegmans, I found polenta. Farro is in the bulk section. And shittake mushrooms can be bought loose rather than pre packaged. Harris-Teeter wins on the arborio rice selection though.

Oh, and the olive oil at Wegmans. Look where it comes from…..

Lucignano, the village right next to where we lived in Monte San Savino….

You know that touched my heart. Our Lidl sells Italian Sparkling Water that is bottled in Monte San Savino. Now if I could just get someone to carry my favorite wine……

I can’t tell how much I miss this wine and its $5 price tag…….


At last, Wegmans

Today’s the day. To much fanfare the store opened at 7:00 AM this morning. Did I say much fanfare….

Above the fold, front page of Saturday’s paper. Feature segments on many local news stations. Rented signs on the highways leading to the store advising of traffic delays. A food ad in Wednesday’s paper

And they have mailed coupons….So excited! We won’t be going until the end if the week. After last week of traveling to my high school reunion I have had my fill of moving Ben about and in crowds.

When we were considering where to land as we planned our move back here, Wegmans coming to Raleigh helped tip the balance. I am glad that it is finally here.


How’s the garden looking?

Well, thanks for asking. It still looks pretty good. Here, Hurricane Dorian was no worse than a thunder storm. We have had some thunderstorms this summer that caused some damage to the garden but nothing awful. And we have had some well spaced rain, but still I felt like I had to do way too much watering.

The tomatoes are still producing although the plants look rather sad.

I did finally get some green beans

The front needs some work. When the weather finally changes I will be moving some things around. I hope to plant daffodils in the new bed where the crepe myrtle is. It has done well and even managed a bloom. Next year should be a good year for it.

That’s how the front looks. Look for a later post about the deck.

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Well, all right

Guest Post by Guppy, Lucky Dog 3

She Who Must Be Obeyed says I have to write something. She says I have been coasting along. Just napping through summer! Really! It has been hot here. Too hot to do much but watch Dog TV and nap. And some days she turns off Dog TV because she says too much sunshine is coming in so I have to nap.

Anyway, I’m gonna be a calendar girl. Those nice folks at Saving Grace are making a fund raising calendar and I get to be on it. She and I have been experimenting with poses. She thinks we should use something avant garde (whatever that is) like this ear shot.

But you know that doesn’t show my whole natural beauty. So I don’t know.

Anyway, we’ll have to decide soon. And I get to take a vacation. I’m excited about that! I am going to discover my inner wild dog and run with the pack. What fun! She says there might be squirrels!

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Tomato Tart

Well, I gave in. All signs seemed to be pointing towards tomato tarts. David Lebovitz wrote about it. . Carol at Paris Breakfasts wrote about hers. . I was reading a cookbook from Poole’s Diner where we celebrated Ben’s birthday with a recipe in it, for what else, a tomato tart. And of course Southern Living had one too. So, a couple of Sundays ago I decided to make one. It more or less took all day!

Required a lot of untensiles and dirtied up the whole kitchen.

It was very pretty. And made a nice slice

I used the Southern Living part for the crust which was excellent. The Poole’s Diner part for the filling, which was not as good. Maybe too much horseradish???? We ate it, but I won’t make it again.


Wegmans is coming! Wegmans is coming!

Can you tell I’m excited! I have been waiting for this since before we moved back to Raleigh from Italy! Years now.

The rest of Raleigh is taking it as a big deal too.

It is regularly reported on at least two local news casts. Spoken of as “the State Fair of Grocery Stores”.

Of course they are preaching to the choir when they mail me things.

If they want us there on opening day they will have to send a limo. But we will probably be there that first week. Ohhhh, so excited!


Elephant Ears, Part 3

We have been having a number of afternoon thunderstorms. During one of them I looked out to see that we had a naturally occuring water feature on our deck now.

The water collects on the cup shaped upper leaf and then rolls off to the leaf below. Pretty cool!

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Accepting the reading challenge

On Facebook, I was recently challenged to posting for seven days about books that I have read and enjoyed. I use Facebook to interact with folks that I don’t get to see everyday. I don’t click on things posted on Facebook. I don’t watch videos. I don’t “like” posts. I don’t use emojis. So I wasn’t about to participate in a seven day challenge. But I did like the idea of talking about the books that I have read and enjoyed. I figured if I was going to talk about 7 books I might as well get a blog post out of it. So here Ann, in answer to your challenge, are 7 books that I have enjoyed.

I don’t get much time to wander in the library to search out new titles. To make book selection easier I tend to read books that are part of a series. (carry over from Nancy Drew days?) So many of these are series and I am somewhere in the series.

Miss Julia Takes the Wheel by [Ross, Ann B.]

The Miss Julia series by Ann B Ross. Why I like these: Set in North Carolina. The main character, Miss Julia is a strong, intelligent Southern woman who gets things done. There is always one laugh until you pee moment in the book. I don’t understand, why someone like Reese Witherspoon hasn’t snapped the rights up and made these into movies.

From the Bruno series by Martin Walker. Why I like these: Set in a small bit of the French countryside where Ben and I spent a lovely vacation several years ago. I can “see” everything that is written. Not too violent. Not too many characters to try to keep up with.

If You Lived Here, I'd Know Your Name: News from Small-Town Alaska by [Lende, Heather]

Sometimes, if our lives are really busy, I find it easier to read a collection of essays. No need to keep track of characters or a plot line. Just pick up, read for a bit when I can and then put it down to come back to later. This is a good one of those. So are these.

You Can't Drink All Day If You Don't Start in the Morning by [Rivenbark, Celia]

Southern Lady Code: Essays by [Ellis, Helen]

Ben and I both enjoy graphic novels. Especially her works.

Displacement by [Knisley, Lucy]

We would especially recommend this one to anyone who is traveling with older folks.

By  Fabien Grolleau  (Author), Jeremie Royer (Illustrator). This was a beautiful work.

That is seven writers that I have enjoyed. I think having the time to read what I want is one of the best things about being retired. I know living close to a well funded and well maintained public library makes that so easy. And I know this is a privilege that not everyone has.

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