Archive for September, 2010

Fall Fashion Extravaganza

Fresh from the field this reporter has exciting news about the new fall fashions being worn!

Colors will be wild and vibrant!  All combinations are acceptable, too!   You are limited only by your creativity.

The stylists at the Sumac Salon are experimenting with some new hair colors:

Word on the street is that this fad will be short lived, soon to be dropped for a more subdued and tailored look.

The well dressed Quercus alba has always been known for innovative styles.   Check out this cape of grape sported by one of the oldsters seated at the edge of the show:

Beautiful detailing on that cape:

The well dressed Quercus daughters are found accessorizing with scarves of scarlet Virgina creeper:

Or how about a beaded necklace?

That’s poison ivy, so we’ll leave that one for the oak family, shall we?

Skirts will be broad and full.

The grasses are putting on lacy over-skirts as well.

White lace isn’t just for skirts any more.   Check out this stylish chapeau with draping brim:

Details of the fabric reveal consummate workmanship of the lace maker:

If your outfit is pedestrian and mundane, try livening it up with beaded jewelry.

That’s the news from the fall fashion front at The Havens.

Now I must go — there’s an After Party I want to attend.

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Autumn joy

Fall is officially here, as we have passed the Invernal Equinox.   Somehow the weather heard about the astronomical event, and so we have been enjoying some crisp mornings at The Havens.

In fact, the weather prognosticators believed that we were going to experience a low in the mid-40s last night, and so we performed the annual fall “Migration of the House Plants” ritual last night.   The jungle has returned to the living room.

It’s clear that the peace lilies need some attention.   They do get sunburned when they are outside.   I didn’t really have time to perform proper maintenance procedures last night, I’ll tend to them later today.

Of course, while we were moving the plants in we also moved in a few other critters who thought they had found a nice place to live.   As soon as the plants were in the living room we had a couple of confused wasps wandering around.   We moved them outside, and thinking we had corralled them all did not really inspect the rest of the house.

Imagine my surprise when I found a wasp sitting on the handle of the spoon that was in the apple butter pot.   She thought she had found Wasp Manna from Heaven and was enjoying the free meal.   Alas, I disturbed her when I picked up the spoon to stir the pot.  She did not sting me, but landed on the hot metal of the stove.   As she tried to scurry away from view, she burned her feet.   I scooped her up onto a piece of paper and took her outside.

Jim brought home a 40 pound box of golden delicious apples on Saturday.   He got a heck of a deal for them as they were all bruised and basically un-sellable.   He got the whole box for $8.00.   So we cut them up, cooked them, ran them through the strainer and wound up with over 5 gallons of apple puree.

That is a ten gallon pot, by the way.  I took out about a gallon and made apple butter.   The rest I seasoned gently with cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg and canned as apple sauce.    In the end, there were 17 quarts of apple sauce, and 6 pints of apple butter.   Not bad for $8 and an afternoon’s work.

Out in the garden, the sweet autumn clematis is in full swing.

AT the base of it you can see that the sedums are also in full bloom.  The pollinators are quite happy about the situation.

A video would really get the “busy-ness” of the sedum patch across.  Meanwhile, the asters are also popular.  This is a little mason bee.

Out behind the pond in the wild garden, the bittersweet vine is wearing garlands of berries.

Makes me think of a phrase I thought up yesterday while I was walking Ruby.

“The water oak draped itself in a tapestry cape of grapes.”

Maybe I’ll remember my camera today, and see if I can catch that image.

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When we moved into this house back in 1995, there was nothing here but lawn and some elm trees.   It didn’t take long for me to decide that I really needed to have a pond somewhere, as I wished to encourage birds and amphibians to live here.    So, one fine afternoon in 1996, a young lady friend and I got busy and dug a pond.

I lined it with a (very expensive) pond liner, and landscaped around it.   This is how it looked immediately following that effort.

Since this corner of the yard was designated as a wildlife area/bird sanctuary, I planted some native prairie plants and stood back and allowed it to grow.   For a couple of years, I was pretty careful to weed the new pond garden, trying to keep it under control and more or less “tame”.   But  the birds who drank water from the pond had other ideas.

In the natural course of events, they go and eat berries and seeds that are ripe, and then later, as they sit around waiting their turn at the “bathing station”, they plant the seeds.

This place is two acres, and I admit that my attentions were distracted from the pond area.   I let it go all  au naturel and this is what happened (Same pond, same angle, ten years later):

That is a spring picture.   In the fall it becomes a jungle of goldenrod, asters and prairie echinacea.

This is how it looks today. . .

It acts as a natural mirror for the sky and moon.

Once I decided to let it go natural, I’m afraid it may have gotten out of hand.   I’m not sure there is any way to go back to a more “cultivated” aspect, short of running a bulldozer through back there and wiping the slate clean.

The birds like it, though.   And there are salamanders and frogs that breed in it.   So I guess I achieved my purpose.

Naturally, I have some mixed feelings about this reservoir of weed seeds that I encourage right in the middle of the property.

Check out the other Photohunters here.

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Random reveries

I walk my dog every day, and while I am out circumambulating the conservation area where we take our exercise, I find my train of thought wandering down tracks that are sometimes commonplace but oftentimes outre.  For example, this morning I found myself wondering several things, all seemingly unconnected, but all originating out of things I saw or heard while walking.

Why do people apparently think it is just fine to drop their cigarette butts on the ground? Every day I find discarded cigarette butts on the path I traverse.   I always pick them up and bring them home to my trash.   An FBI investigation of my garbage would probably imply that I am a chain smoker who bums all the smokes she consumes.   Do the people who blithely scatter their detritus not know how long a cigarette butt lasts in the environment, nor what sort of harm it can cause?

What do spiders think when you walk through their web? I don’t know, but I do it on a regular basis.   They seem to think the open space of the path is tailor made for spider real estate.

What are they thinking??? Chrysler-Daimler saw fit to close the factory outside of St. Louis.   Eventually it was put on the market when they decided they would never recoup the market for minivans like those built there.   Now it is a vast wasteland of discarded car carriers and factory building.   It sports a very large sign, printed on plastic sheeting, in letters over 15 feet high:   “FOR SALE!    5 million square feet    259 acres   call ABZ Realtor   1-234-567-8900”    Do they really think someone is going to be driving by on I-44 and see that sign and say,  “Gee, I was looking for one of those yesterday. . .” ???

Where is the ick factor manufactured? I have never understood the fear of snakes and spiders.   Both creatures have fascinated me for all the lifespan I remember.   There is a story of my older sister running into the house and announcing to my mother,  “Come quick, Ellie is talking to a rattlesnake!”   When my mother rushed to the scene, she found an annoyed rattlesnake coiled up at the bottom of the Chinese Elm, rattling and hissing at me, who was hissing right back.    Anyway, why is this so horrible:

when this bug, an assassin bug of some sort, does essentially the same thing?

Do dogs perform risk/benefit analyses? This thought was brought on by my lovely dog’s habit of eating grass, which makes her retch and gag.   Apparently there is something so compellingly wonderful about the taste of the vegetation that makes the choking and gasping worth it all.  This train of thought wound up on the siding of cogitaing on all those little yip yap dogs owned by various celebrities, and as it sat there waiting for the express train thought to blow by idly slipped into a speculation that involved Jimmy Choo shoes and the canine need to chew Choos. . .   Does the little dog think, “I know she is going to kill me when she finds those newly toeless sandals, but I just can’t help myself!   The flavor of the dyes, the crunch of the rhinestones. . . oh bliss. . . I can’t resist!”  Does this face have a analytical mind behind it?

When and why do we change attitudes? At what age and stage do we  lose the ability to revel in the feel of wind and rain in our hair and start worrying about our hair-do?   When do we learn that air brushing against our naked skin is bad?   What instilled us with the need to take the shine off our nose?

These and other questions occupy the nooks and crannies of my mental landscape.

What do you wonder about in your random reveries?

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Live and learn

Henry Ford once said “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty.”

I guess I’m not old yet, because I recently learned something:  Never plant grape vines near your vegetable garden.

A few years ago, we decided we wanted to grow table grapes.  We looked around our property, and saw that there was a fence along the west side that wasn’t occupied doing anything, and we thought it would be a good place to establish several vines that would give us good eating grapes.   This site was to the west of the vegetable garden, but we really didn’t think that this would create any problems, because the fence was a good 15 feet away from the garden beds.

So, we acquired eight grape vines of four varieties of table grapes, two reds and two greens.   We planted them and nurtured them, and two of them promptly died, but the other six were doing quite well when we decided to put an arbor in where they were planted in order to give them a place to climb and in the process give us a nice shady place to sit and rest when our labors in the garden had tired us.   This worked wonderfully well, as you can see in the photo below.

Happy grapes, lovely arbor, beautiful garden.  Except, everything on the side of the garden closest to the grapes got very stressed during the recent hot spell despite all the water we were giving it.

So, I have been burying my kitchen waste in one of my beds this fall to help give it some nutrients, and this morning this is what I discovered.

Some of those roots are 13 feet long.  No wonder those grapes were never stressed for water.  No wonder the veggies were feeling competitive pressure from below.

We’re going to move the Concord grapes out to the vineyard, and remove the rest of them from by the garden.   We never got any grapes from them anyway, what with the birds and the squirrels thinking we planted the grapes for them.   So we won’t really miss them.

The arbor will have slats added to the roof to make a shade, and we will see about doing some container gardening in the shade there.   I think I might be able to coax lettuces to grow even in the middle of the summer in the cool of the arbor.   We shall see.

So I am on my merry way now, looking for my next life lesson.

Hope none of yours are too painful.

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