can't you see the sunshine….

Summer Scents in the South

Gardenias. A very sweet scent that filled our back courtyard.

Magnolias in the nearby courtyard. Before the heat of the day took over that courtyard was scented too. Something to look forward to in the early summer.

We were getting rain every few days with moderate temperatures until mid-July. A week later, still in the high 90s every day with high humidity. Hit or miss thunderstorms mean I have been watering. Even Guppy thinks it is too hot to sit outside. This too will change.

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Entertaining in the time of the virus

We have always regularly had folks over to share a meal. And when we moved back to North Carolina that became even more important. I will admit, my invitations come with a small handiman event. In other words…”Oh, I’m so glad you are here. You know since you are here, could you tighten up this door?” Or help me get this down. Or ….

Now, all that has stopped! Only our HVAC guy has been in the house for routine maintenance since March. Ben sat in the parking lot when the repair guy was here. I really missed seeing folks and chatting in person. Finally, I worked out that we could sit on the deck and guests could sit in the courtyard. We could have a drink and a chat. Works well.

These are our friends, Roy and Marcia. They live nearby. Until it got so hot, they have been coming over on Sunday night for a couple hours. It is good for all of us.

And then we had surprise visitors, Jim and Carol, friends from Maryland who were passing through. And their dog to visit with Guppy. She was so excited!

I don’t think I would go that far, but everyone is told before arriving “You are not getting in the house to use the bathroom. I suggest the nearby Harris-Teeter grocery.” You know what this means though…..I don’t have to clean before folks come over!!!!!!!

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Spring Planting 2020 (Part 1)

Warmer temperatures in April had me pushing the planting season. I set up the pop-up dirt bar in the back of our vehicle in the parking lot.

Easier to scrape from each bag into my tote, then mix and fill pots than picking up the heavy bags and hauling them around.

The front looked really good. The iris were outsatnding.

Now the summer spirea are showing off.

The darker color is almost scarlet. Camera dosen’t do it justice
The crepe myrtle, in the back is doing well too.

I was worried about the black and blue salvia for a while. The flowers were not opening and were very droopy. I guess we just needed some warmer weather to make them snap to attention.

A different variety of salvia in the front is pretty showy too.

Tomatoes on the front porch are doing well too.

This plant has 4 tomatoes.

This year I am trying these cool blue spirals instead of bamboo supports. They are not really designed to be used in pots. I sunk them in beer cans weighted with rocks to help them be more stable.

You can just see the beer can in the pot on the far right.

And the pots in the front are mix of color this year.

The little gold/yellow flowers are cosmos. I am trying these in several places this year. We’ll see how they do. Look for another post about the back.

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What will they do next

Guest Post: By Guppy, The Lucky Dog 3

She Who Must Be Obeyed says I have to write a post before I can go sit outside. REALLY! I’m kind’ gettin’ tired of them bein’ around all the time. It has made me feel more secure so I’m not droppin’ as much hair as I used to.

We haven’t been doin’ too much different than normal except they don’t go anywhere. I mean, sometimes She will go out for a little bit. But I haven’t sat up on my perch at the front windows in I don’t know how long. I stay with Ben when She goes out. And I still sit in his lap every morning to check how he is doin’ and all.

There have been some big storms. And one night those evil squirrels sat up in the trees and threw all kinds of limbs and stuff down.

She is doin’ all this gardenin’ and spring stuff. Draggin’ things out. Into my space.

And now this week they have started goin’ to exercise classes on ZOOM whatever that is.

I tell you, it’s just embarrassing. Watchin’ these old people dancin’ around. They laugh and sing….. She says that is one of the places that they used to go to. She says they are goin’ to be doin’ these classes online until JUNE!!!!!! Oh, I just don’t know. Oh well, I’m gonna post this so I can sit on the deck now. Stay calm and kepp your paws clean.

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How is the garden doing?

Well, it is coming right along. The daffodils are finished and I have tied them up. The day lillies that are planted right next to them are poking up. The iris will be blooming any day now.

The hydrageas look great. If we can get through the next few weeks with out a frost there should be a number of blooms.

Recent rains have had a good effect onthe banana plants. Elephant ears will go in the pots that protect them from the yard crew and their weed eater. Elephant ears will add to the ‘jungle look’. Guppy is suggesting a Tiki bar. She’s such a party dog.

Using our upstairs bedroom as a ‘green house’ I have started over 50 elephant ear bulbs. I was stumped because I didn’t have enough pots. Finally, I realized that I could start the smaller bulbs, (golf ball size or smaller) in foil roasting pans. There are also 3 trays of pots full of bulbs too.

The smaller bulbs have started sprouting. Another week or so and these will be able to move outside and then move to larger pots. I like for them to be a little larger before they are exposed to the squirrel population.

I have the flower pots that hang off the deck rail out and in place. Empty. I did make one trip earlier this week to the nursery. (North Carolina is an agircultural state so plant nurseries are exempt. And they are offering curbside pick up) Too soon for begonias. I’ll go back in a few weeks.

Stay safe and as Guppy suggests, “Keep your paws clean.”

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My Budle of Joy

Most women my age talk about bundles of joy, meaning their grand child or great grand child. Want to see my bundle of joy?

We cut through a neighborhood that I used to live in because I like to see what’s going on there. In the summer we pass a house that has a very nice stand of tropical banana plants. A few weeks ago I slipped them a note asking if they intended to thin the plants this spring. I got a response back ‘sure, come dig up what ever you want.’ So on Friday the 13th I dug up six shoots.

A few days later I got them in the ground.

I picked this spot in between the tan and black pots. Once grown they will help to cover the ugly bus that lives just on the other side of the fence.

So here they are in the ground

We’ll have to wait until summer to see how they do. I am very hopeful.

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Our Early Spring

The tulip magnolias in full bloom accross the street from us. Taken 2/13/20. A drop in temperatures a few days later turned them brown while flowers closer to the ground were not effected. We live in a densely populated area. What is considered a ‘heat island.’

Fully open iris around the corner from us taken 2/18/20.

My older bed of daffodils. The newer bed is about 2 weeks behind this.

I think this might be the earliest that I have taken a ‘daffodil portrait’. Everything seems to be about 2 weeks ahead of schedule. Today, 2/18 it was 60 degrees again. In two days time overnight temps will be dropping below freezing and there is some chat about the white stuff falling from the sky. I have chosen to ignore that. We’ll see….


I’ve just been busy

Guest Post: By Guppy, The Lucky Dog 3

She Who Must Be Obeyed has been fussing at me because I haven’t written any thing for a long ole time. Well, I have just been sooooo busy.

Here I am watching dog tv at the front. See, that is the Broughton High School Homecoming Parade passing by.

Then I need to run to the back and check on what’s going on out there. And now that it is not so hot I sit on the deck a good bit. Those squirrels have been running wild. It’s my duty to watch for them.

Then I need to spend time with my Ben.

Then She made me help her set up a bird table. Like I know what that is…. now She’s all excited because we have blue birds.

That bird table is real ugly. Doesn’t seem to matter to those birds. A free meal is free meal… You know, sometimes my dinner is late. I have to act up to get She to make my dinner. Anyway, I need to take a nap now. I’ll have a big surprise soon to write about.

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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…….