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Archive for the ‘Flowers’ Category

I have been avoiding Crystal Bridges for a long time.  I heard about it a long time ago, probably around the time it was being built by the Walmart heiress who did it.  For some reason, the fact that all that money came off the backs of people who labored for that empire in not very good conditions bothered me.

But a lot of my friends have gone down there and loved it.  I guess that sort of thing doesn’t bother them enough to keep from availing themselves of the experience.  After all, you only have to pay for the special exhibits.  The rest of the collection is free.

I have to admit the museum itself is a work of art.  Seldom have I seen a more beautiful building, and it really set off the site it was built upon.  The surrounding grounds with all their sculpture were beautiful to view from within.  I know there are several miles of trail but it was so raw a day we did not walk on them.  Next time.

Crystal Bridges has a pretty decent collection too, although I was sort of surprised that it did not include a single Peter Max, who truly is a pretty well known American Artist and certainly is worthy of having his work represented.   Nor were there any Russells on display.  At least not at the moment.

They do have four different Georgia O’Keeffe works on display, which made me happy.  There is a large Jimson Weed painting, just gorgeous.  It was not lit very well, so it was difficult to appreciate the glory of her brush work.   They also had a couple of smaller studies, one a still life with leaf and feather and the other one of the hills near Ghost Ranch.  The surprise for me was a large bronze sculpture by her.  I thought I knew about Ms. O’Keeffe, and either I did not know or had forgotten that she had done some bronzes.     The one on display was very beautiful but I would have liked to have seen it put farther out in the middle of the floor rather than stuck in a corner where you could not walk around it and observe the flow of light along it.

One thing about Crystal Bridges that bugged both Jim and myself was the very poor lighting of the collection.  I am not sure what the curator and the hangers were thinking, but there were several walls that had far too many works on them set way too close together.   Each one had bright lights on them, and if you tried to get close enough to see brush work the glare was so severe you could not see anything, not even colors and shapes.   If you stood back far enough to get away from the glare, the works’ proximity to each other made it hard to focus on them individually.

There were some very amazing large works that occupied full wall panels that were very fun to look at up close.  Then when you went outside and looked at them from the lawn, they were a completely different story.   Very complex.

I am afraid that there was a period of time during our visit I really wished I had never studied music, because for some reason the museum had a young man playing the cello near one of the galleries.   It was interesting to see the audience lapping up his very Chopinesque murder of the Bach Cello Suite in C.  It was pretty excruciating to listen to his out of tune, rubato rendition of a work that I studied assiduously for an entire semester while I was at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.  I sort of missed a whole section of the museum because I felt compelled to get out of that wing before I was driven to madness.

We LOVED the special exhibit that was in residence,  “The Soul of a Nation”, a comprehensive focus on the art of Black Americans during the Civil Rights era.   If that collection comes to a city near you, I highly recommend a visit.   It was educational, illuminating, thought provoking, and filled with some really wonderful art by artists that I was largely unaware of.

It is no secret that I love beautiful things; it might even be an addiction.  Although we went into the Museum Shop fully expecting to leave empty handed, that was not to be.   There was a vase there that called out to come home with us.   So we ransomed it and freed it from its captivity on the shelf.   It truly is a wonderful work of art from Cohasset Gifts and Garden.

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I accepted the reflection of the dining room lights in this photo because the illumination from above really brings out the sculptural aspect of the molten glass having been draped over the root it rests on.

This following shot was serendipitous in the extreme.   I had opened the dining room curtains and noticed how the scene out side reflected in the glass of the vase.

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Well, I hope that everyone has a fantastic week.  It is supposed to warm up around here, and I am very much ready for it.

We are waiting with bated breath to learn whether or not the freezing and just below freezing temperatures will have been enough to kill the wisteria buds.

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Even though the weather has been totally schizophrenic, the species tulips are out in full force.

I planted some in my newest Day Lily garden, which started out life as the Rose Garden portion of my stroll garden.  Over the years all the roses planted there succumbed to the rose rosette disease that is indigenous to our area.  Thanks to the plantings of multiflora roses done in the 30s and 40s, we not only have a vector for the mite that carries the virus but a state-wide infestation of an invasive exotic.

At any rate, a couple of years ago when the last rose kicked the bucket, I repurposed the area as a day lily garden.  I needed a new space for them since the original day lily garden is not very happy any more due to the fact that the shrubbery of the stroll garden has gotten so tall it shades the day lilies to the north of it, and the ground ivy and vinca are busy trying to strangle them at the same time.

There are days when I wonder why in the world I think I have enough energy to maintain all the gardens I do have.  Especially when I am suffering the results of the face plant I did a few days ago.   My artificial hip does not think that was a good activity to engage in.   But at least I did not plant my face in the rock borders of the path I fell into.

But I digress.

It turns out that if you plant species tulips you have planted something that is a survivor and a colonizer.   If you think about the fact that most of these little beauties are natives of the mountains of Turkey, Iran, and Afghanistan, it makes perfect sense.   Even so, it was news to me that a couple of tiny bulbs could manifest as empire builders.   They are indeed.

DSCF6629Check out the orange tulips, and ntoice how they have spread through the garden.  The yellow ones in the right corner have completely filled in the area around the perovskia (Russian sage).   Fortunately, they appear to be willing to peacefully coexist with it, unlike some other colonizers I could name.   (e.g. Missouri primrose, spotted knapweed).

Here is a close up of the corner where the tulips are happiest.

DSCF6630Yes, yes.   I see the chickweed in the lower corner.

Two days ago it was 80 degrees here, yesterday the temperature dropped precipitously all day and this morning it is just below freezing.   I have a cover over my peonies, which are now about a foot tall, and am hoping and praying that they will survive tonight.   The wisteria is way too large to cover, it has big swollen buds and I hope it also makes it through the freeze promised for tonight.

The tulips won’t care at all.

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Spring garden

I have been out working hard today.  Mostly my focus was on cleaning up the joint and I got a ways on that.   I filled my weed basket up five times in addition to digging out some bush honeysuckles that had volunteered in the stroll garden.

I found some hostas that had decided they needed to be growing upside down, so I dug them up and replanted them the right way too.  I am not exactly sure how that happened, but I decided the situation needed rectifying.

The labyrinth is looking quite festive, as is the rest of The Havens.

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I love having so many daffodils around the place.   It makes it easy to pick a big bouquet for the house.  The mid season blooms are coming on strong; there are still lots of late season varieties that are in bud out there.  This is today’s selection.

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And the peas are really up!

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Hope your spring is going as well as ours is!

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Surprise!

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I fully expected to see crocuses this morning, since they have been out for several days.  They were there, but since it is a cloudy day they have their flags furled.

But down in the front garden, I was very surprised and pleased to see that the Jack Frost mini daffodils are blooming.   Needless to say, I had to go pick one (there are lots out there).  When I went about the yard looking for other blossoms to accompany it, I found snow drops and a hellebore that is almost out.

Last night I heard spring peepers too.

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We took Jim off to the airport in St. Louis on Wednesday so he could catch a more or less early flight to Wisconsin on Thursday morning.

I drove home in the rain on Thursday morning and it proceeded to continue raining off and on until today.  This beautiful Sunday dawned crystal clear and frosty, but now the sun is shining, the bees are out foraging and the crocuses are blooming.

All told we received over 7 inches of rain in those three days, and that made the yard impressively wet.  Ruby really didn’t see any reason she should go Out There in All That Mud, but I knew that her bladder and bowels needed to empty, and so I insisted, much to her dismay, I might add.

I did go out and take a few pictures in the rain.  I’m sure it must have been an amusing sight if anyone had seen me juggling my  umbrella and the camera in the downpour.  The wonderful Fuji digital that I use may be old and starting to have wonky switches, but it still works and I did not see any good coming out of drenching it in the name of documenting the deluge.

Yesterday afternoon, the labyrinth looked like this:

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Today, less than 24 hours later, it presents a very different mien.

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I did zero in on one very wet clump of crocuses that was courageously trying to convince everyone that it really is spring, even though we have yet to cross the vernal equinox.

DSCF6583Those game little flowers are a whole lot happier today.  And amazingly enough, they did not drown.

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In case you are wondering what the bees are finding to forage for, there are crocuses (obviously).  But there are also bluets up, and the henbit is going to be in full bloom by tomorrow.  The witch hazel is in full bloom too, and so the honeybees are busy replenishing their stores.

 

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“Whipsaw:  n 1. A narrow two person crosscut saw. v 1. To cut with a whipsaw, 2. To defeat in two ways at once” 

It was a lovely day today at The Havens.  Last week, after several days of pretty cold temperatures (sub zero at night), it snowed.  Then it warmed up enough to melt the thin layer of snow on the ground.  This was followed by some days around freezing accompanied by gusty winds.  Finally it warmed up and the wind blew like a wind tunnel testing a jet airplane.

This morning it dawned clear and cool and totally calm.  It would have been ideal to burn off the labyrinth right then, but we had a date at the kid’s house for home made waffles.   So we went over there (a matter of walking half a block) at the appointed time and thoroughly enjoyed our breakfast with the family.  It is really lovely to have our grandkids so close.  AND their parents…  I must not leave them out!

After our repast, we came home, got busy, and burned off the tall grass that had accumulated in the labyrinth over the last summer.  It was a perfect day for burning, and still hadn’t gotten so warm that tending the fire was onerous.  There have been times when it was sort of like an introduction to Hades, what with a warm day and a brisk breeze.  Today it was just damp enough that the grass burned well but not like an inferno.  No wind to speak of, so the flames crept their way through the paths and rocks desultorily.  We had to use the flame thrower a few times to encourage them to do a complete job.

There are lots of rags and tags of grass tops, as well as things like the stems of goldenrod, little white asters, and primroses spread in the paths.   They really need to be raked up but I decided to do something else instead.  If I leave them long enough they will blow away or compost in place, maybe.

After unhooking and draining the hoses we had deployed for fire safety reasons, we rolled them and coiled them back up on their supports.  Winter is not over yet and we have had enough of frozen pipes.

Speaking of frozen pipes, the contractor man has been here since Wednesday repairing the utility bathroom.  We picked out new floor tile for it, auditioning a style that we are considering using for the Great Bathroom Remodel, which is scheduled for a future date yet to be determined.   We LOVE the tile and lucky for us it was on sale so we bought the necessary quantity and have stashed it in the sauna dressing room.  The bathroom should become functional early next week.

Of course, there has been a daily (except for Thursday) pilgrimage to Springfield to visit the Ailing Mother.  She came through her popliteal bypass alive (barely).  There were a few rough days, and once the hospital figured out that she really needed a blood transfusion, she rallied enough to be moved to a rehabilitation hospital.  Since then she has walked as much as 70 feet during physical therapy and can get up out of her wheel chair and move to the bed “unassisted” (meaning two people stand nearby at the ready to make sure that she does not lose her balance and fall during the painstaking process).  But her appetite has returned, and her mind is once again active.  She has been working on her tatting project.  Aside from the open incision around the bypass site, she is looking fairly good.  There is still a lot of ground to cover, but we are no longer in fear of her life.

And my sister was released from the hospital today, after fighting infection from the cat bite she got while she was neutropenic from her latest chemotherapy for her leukemia.  Thank God for small favors.

With both people that were in so much danger moving towards safety, maybe I can actually get some sleep tonight.

Anyway, back to today.   Instead of raking the labyrinth, I cleared the old dry tops out of the asparagus bed.   While I was engaged in that chore, I noticed that the bees were out foraging.   Then I started wondering if they still had enough honey to keep them going through the rest of the winter.  (Despite the lovely day today, winter is FAR from over.) Presently my curiosity grew so much that I went into the house and prevailed on Jim to make a wellness check on the colony.  He suited up and opened the hive and we determined that they have LOTS of honey to eat, they seem very healthy and active.   Without disturbing them much more than that, he put the hive back together and we watched them continue about their bee business.

This activity made me wonder what on earth they could be finding to forage this time of year?  It didn’t take me long to remember that yesterday while I was walking Ruby I noticed that the witch hazel out at Bennet Spring was blooming.  I have a few witch hazel trees here at the Havens, so it wasn’t much of a leap to wonder if perhaps our bees had found them.

I went to look, and lo and behold!

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The bees have indeed discovered that there is a source of pollen out there for them.  While I was playing bee paparazzi, I saw a couple of tachnid wasps out there too. They declined to be photographed, so I can’t prove it.

Then I went out and weeded the strawberry, blueberry and raspberry cage.   It was very healing to dig out all that henbit and chickweed.  The whole cage looks great!  While I was working, I could hear the hum of the hive on the other side of the fence.

Maybe I will have some time to work on my art journal this evening.  That would be very good.

 

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I read somewhere that good fences make good neighbors.   This may be true, and if it is then The Havens needs a really good fence.

We have been suffering a great stress this week.   It doesn’t look like it is going to resolve itself any time soon, either, unfortunately.   The neighbor who is causing the stress is well known in the community for being less than nice (feel free to substitute any harsher and more profane term here).

So, we have owned this property for 18 years.   Shortly after we purchased it and moved in, so shortly that we hadn’t even completely unpacked yet, our neighbor approached us with an offer to buy one half of our property.   At the time, the half in question was an acre of grass bordered on one side by the street, on two sides by strips of trees and shrubs that were wild (to say the least) and on the fourth side by our house and its accompanying lawns.   When asked, the party admitted that what he wanted our open land for was  so he would have more space to park the mobile and manufactured homes he sold.

Below is a shot taken right after we moved in of the relevant property line.

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We had been in residence long enough to observe the state of the next door business, which was strewn with detritus.   Part of the observation was engendered by my obsessive compulsive trash removal habit.   What I mean to say is, that within a couple of days of moving in, I had done my usual clean up and was appalled by the amount of shit that had blown onto our property from the one next door.   You see, when you transport a manufactured home it is usually broken into halves, and in order to protect the interiors, giant sheets of plastic are attached to cover the open side during transport.   Needless to say, these sheets of plastic must be removed in order to display the home properly, and the workers who did this generally threw them over against the “fence” between our properties, where they deteriorated in the UV from the sun and then availed themselves of the local zephyrs and gales to migrate all over the neighborhood.

In addition, styrofoam cups providing beverages to potential buyers, lunch wrappers from the workers, pieces of styrofoam and insulation from the renovation of repossessed homes, plastic wrappers off bundles of shingles, and all manner of crap was strewn from hither to yon on the property.   Imagining all that 150 feet closer to our home did not attract us, and despite the neighbor’s promises to build a privacy fence we declined his offer.   We have never been forgiven for that.

I have been picking up trash ever since.

To be honest, there is another part of this story.   The tree line between our properties is viewed by both sides in complete opposition.   I like it, despite the unruliness of it.   There is a row of trees, mostly elms, right along the “fence.”

Okay, a digression.   Why do I keep putting quotation marks around the word “fence”?   Well, at one time in its life, the object so referred to may have actually been a fine structure of woven stock wire and with a barbed wire top wire attached to wooden posts.   But that was at least thirty years ago, possibly longer, and while the remnants still exist they can hardly be called a fence, since “fence” usually implies an ability to contain livestock within.   In this case, it only serves as a vague indication of where the property line may be.

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Obviously, the fence is fully involved in the trees, or vice versa.  Anyway, the trees have been a thorn in our neighbor’s side for a long time.   He claims that they are damaging his mobile homes, although I have seen no evidence of this.   Over a decade ago, he approached us and told us that we needed to get rid of the trees “over there” because they taking space in his lot that he needed for parking inventory.   Also he mentioned what an eyesore the wild tangle of trumpet vine was.  At that time, there were numerous trees flourishing far outside the fence line, and I invited him to remove his own trees before he demanded I take mine down, pointing out that that would give him more space on his lot.   I indicated that what was an eyesore to him was a garbage trap, a visual barrier for me, and a sanctuary for the cardinals, hummingbirds, and finches.

He hired a crew and they spent a pleasant week removing the elms that had sprouted on his back line.  They neglected to treat the stumps, however.   He backed his trailers up as close to the fence as he could get them and I thought how nice it was to have what amounted to a big tall privacy fence back there.   Most asssuredly, though, the line of merchandise slowly migrated away from the fence line because due to the compaction of the soil in his lot there is a decided slope up to our property and it makes leveling  the mobile homes difficult.   Immediately, the trees he had cut off sprouted in circles around the trunks and instead of a few stately elms, he had thickets of scraggly elms.

Things have continued in this way for 18 years.   Every time the wind blows, I have to pick up trash that migrates from him to me.   Undoubtedly, he stands on his lot and cusses at our unruly elms and our cussedness.   Every once in a while he has a crew cut back the sprouts, which immediately reincarnate.   Once or twice when I complained bitterly to him over the phone about the trash, he actually had his people clean his lot up.    The trash always returns within a few weeks.

Every few years he demands that we cut our trees down.   We don’t.   The law allows us to have trees as long as they are healthy and not in danger of falling over on the neighbor’s home or property.   It does NOT say we have to trim off branches that overhang the neighbors.   It says we have to allow the neighbor to cut the encroaching branches off the trees if they don’t like them.   We have allowed this.   The law states that an adjacent property owner trimming their neighbor’s trees must do so in a way that does not endanger the health of the tree.  If they do kill a tree, then that neighbor could sue for damages.

Frankly, approached in a more civil way, we very well might have considered removing some or even all of the trees.   There really are quite a few back there.  But we don’t respond well to arrogant bluster, accusations, and threats.   These things tend to make us dig our heels in, especially when the blusterer is maintaining a visual eyesore of piles of siding, plastic, lath strips full of nails, and other crap.

So, things came to a head about two weeks ago.   The weather had warmed up, I was walking about enjoying the breath of warmth that was hinting that spring might be arriving, checking on the crocus situation and picking up the usual selection of trash that had blown onto the property during the weeks since I had last done that chore.   Imagine my fury when I arrived down at the southeast corner and discovered that the mobile home renovators had been painting.  How did I know this?   Because when they finished their job, they had some paint left over.   So they threw the container, the paint, and the used roller over the fence into the shrubbery there.    The idle thought crossed my mind that I should take a picture of the mess in situ, but I did not.   I picked up the paint container and the roller and marched up to the office of the business.

While the proprietor was not there, he did have minions working on a tiling job.  Actually, it was a minion and his girlfriend/wife.   They asked me if they could help me and I explained the situation.   So, then I got into a conversation with the woman, who basically trashed the people working at the “end of the lot” who had been doing the renovations.   Apparently, there is some competition for that and the people up in the office had been underbid by the team that had thrown the paint.   The gal commiserated with me about the trash; we got into a side bar discussion regarding the people across the street from the business who have a pink trash can that they leave at the curb with the top open which is a source of trash on the street.    That can had blown over in a gale a couple of weeks previously, and I had driven by it with the thought of cleaning it up.  When I got back home someone had already done it.   Turns out it was the gal I was talking to.    I congratulated her and thanked her for doing that.   Her man invited me to admire the tiling job he was doing, which I dutifully did and told him it looked good.   Then I said I ought to go off on my merry way, and said I’d like to leave a note for the proprietor regarding the paint situation.

At that point, the gal suggested that she could get him on the phone and I could talk to him directly.     That was my second mistake.  (The first being not taking the picture of the paint dump).   I’ve had conversations with this person before, and I should have known how this one was going to go.    First of all, I explained my concern.   The response was predictable.   No apology.   The response was “Are you still dumping kitty litter over the fence?”

Gentle readers, you know my attitude towards trash, do you not?   If you don’t, you should read this, and this.  For the record, I have never dumped kitty litter over any fence.   Anywhere.   I did pour it into my driveway in Alaska, and since the litter was clay and the driveway was clay it was hard to see it existed.  I have been using scoopable cat litter for as long as I can remember, and it is a heck of a lot more convenient to dispose of it in the garbage can that is by my door than haul it 200 feet out to a property line to dump it over the fence, which I wouldn’t do anyway, no matter how shitty I think the neighbors habits are.

At any rate, his conversational gambit raised my ire level considerably.   After I had simmered down slightly, he asked me what I would think if he built a privacy fence.   I told him I thought that was a fine idea.   So his response was that I should cut down my trees, they were damaging his homes, blah de blah.   I rudely interrupted him and told him that he needed to keep to the subject, which was his garbage on my property.   Then I hung up on him.   I left the paint container and the roller on his desk, and went on home.

So, let’s be fair.   I probably should not have hung up on him, but it most certainly wasn’t a good idea for me to keep talking to him either.   And I admit that in his eyes I have been a stubborn and uncooperative hag about the damned trees for almost twenty years.   I don’t suppose I have been the perfect neighbor either.

His response was to have a crew come out and cut off the sprout crop behind his trailers on his side of the fence.    He took a picture of the mess.   He went off to a lawyer and complained about it all, blaming the mess back there on limbs falling from our trees.  In my humble opinion, you should not base a legal complaint upon a falsehood, but I suppose I am splitting hairs here.   I received a threatening letter from said lawyer telling me that if I didn’t maintain the trees better our neighbor would sue, that the trees were on my side of the fence and therefore my responsibility.    Oh, and I should never set foot on the property, and I should cease harrassing his employees.  Apparently the fact I have a spouse and a co-owner is not on his radar, as Jim’s name was never mentioned in the letter.   It was addressed to me only.

The last time I checked, talking about picking up trash in the neighborhood and admiring a tiling job is not harrassment, but I could be wrong about that.

I have to give him full credit though.   I think his lawyer told him that if he was going to accuse me of maintaining a nuisance, that he’d better have his nose spick and span.   The mobile home lot has been cleaned within an inch of its life and it looks GREAT!    I only hope that it stays that way.  I’m not holding my breath.

So now we have to find a lawyer to help us communicate.   It’s such bullshit.    The irony is, that if this gentleman was placed in a police line up of five similar looking fellows, I could not identify him.   I believe I’ve actually met him face to face once.   Maybe.   He probably couldn’t identify me either.   And that is sad.

It has occurred to me in the past couple of days that being neighbors is sort of like being married.   Only you can’t get a divorce.

I guess I’ll go out and console myself with my iris reticulata and crocuses.

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