Thursday, April 29, 2004

Burgundy leaves, pink flower spikes and fragrant!
Half of my Wayside Garden order arrived today. I planted three cimicifuga in my already crowded shade garden. I just can't resist fragrant plants, though I did not pay $20 a plant.
Does He or Doesn't He?
Rick is interested in his appearance; Ron much less so. For several years, Rick has asked to dye his hair, to which the standard parental response is, "And you want a tatoo and nose ring too?" Recently I told him that the next time I touch up my hair, I will use what's left on his hair. He has beautiful thick dark brown hair, with lots of body and a little curl. I suspect he imagined this would change to thick spiky light blonde hair. Well, we did it last night with L'Oreal dark golden blonde. After 5 minutes into the 30 minute processing stage, he complained that it itched. (I understated his histrionics.) Concerned that he may be having an allergic reaction, I rinsed his hair. The change was very subtle, almost like highlights. I like it. He is disappointed. Now he says that it didn't itch that bad and we need to let the dye stay on longer. Maybe next time. Maybe not. But there are no tatoos or body piercings in his future.

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Does anyone want an update on garlic mustard?
It is in full bloom and will soon go to seed. This weed propagates fast. Only a small portion of the woods is not weeded yet. I can knock that out in two hours in the morning. When I wandered through the "clean" areas, however, instead of finding a luxuriant two-foot plant, I found scrawny 2-inch plants hiding their blooms under other foliage. These suckers are intent on setting seed. Can I out-stubborn them?

Due to how fast the mustard was growing, I had to stop clearing the brambles as I weeded. So now I have scratches all over my arms and legs where I've plunged into the midst of raspberry, wild rose and gooseberry brambles to dig up the mustard. One son told me it was a losing battle, but I put him to work anyway.
Recessive Craft Gene
I must have a recessive craft gene because this scrapbooking thing is difficult. My friend and I were the only ones in the scrapbooking class, so I was able to ask a lot of questions. The teacher made it seem easy and fun. I sorted the Oregon pictures and memorabilia over the weekend so I have a rough idea of the layouts. Today I spent lots of money on paper and the basic supplies. Tonight I've just sorted the paper, admired the colors and textures, but was unable to cut and glue. Maybe the muse will hit tomorrow.
This morning Rick tells me in a panic that he is auditioning for show choir today and he needs music. He has not selected a song. He has no music. He has not practiced. I encouraged him to sing "Down In the River to Pray" from "O Brother Where Art Thou." He performed it a cappella in a talent contest last year. What else could I do?

Monday, April 26, 2004

Spring Fun
We spent most of the weekend outside. After cleaning the barn at the Highlands Friday night, parents challenged sons to a full court basketball game. Thanks to Steve, it was a tie game. He kept feeding me easy lay-ups (my only shot) but few went in. And yes, I did run (or walk) the full court but I'm sure it wasn't a pretty sight.

After a day of errands, soccer games and bread-making on Saturday, we cooked dinner over an open fire at The Property. I saved some dough to fry over the fire and we make an egg/potato/sausage dish. We also cooked apples in foil. While we ate, we built up the fire and watched the wind make the fire burn hot. On the way home, Ron said in a creaky old man’s voice, “Why, when I was a youngster, we used to have campfires.” He will remember these times, even though he thought he wanted to play video games instead.

Thursday, April 22, 2004

The rains came, soft and gentle and constant, all day yesterday. So back to digging garlic mustard this morning before heading off to Mothers In Touch and then the funeral home to pay respect to my good friend's father and to comfort her as best I can. Tonight I start a new hobby (as if I needed something else) by attending a beginning scrapbooking class with a friend. My goal is to complete a scrapbook of our epic trip to Oregon last year. The raw materials include lots of pictures, my husband's journal and memorabilia from the trip.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Garlic Mustard
I've resisted posting on this topic again even though every spare moment for the last eight days has been spent digging out the vicious little weeds. I heard tonight that it is edible. I'll double check, but I would take great pleasure in letting them know I am on top of the food chain even though I'm not dominant in the woods.
Another Garden Vignette
Along the driveway, between the meadow and Usually Not Creek, wander to the north and this is what you see:

Grape hyacinths blanket the small strip of grass between the driveway and woods.

Daffodills start at the edge the woods and continue as far as you can see. Bright yellow with large trumpets; soft yellow, almost white, with ruffled trumpets; double whites; soft yellow with bright yellow trumpets; medium yellow with orange trumpets. Don't look too closely or you will discover they are starting to wilt. Just enjoy the splash of color.

Next to the meadow the forsythia's bright yellow blooms pick up the daffodil colors. It has been a good year for forsythia.

As you enter the woods, look down. Virginia bluebells, with reddish purple buds, burst into clear blue blooms. They are starting to spread down the slope to the creek.

Hyacinths bloom at the edge of the woodland path, reminders of past Februaries when I could not resist buying a touch of spring. Most are purple with several pink scattered throughout. Forced bulbs usually do not do well, but these provide a decent display for a woodland garden.

Now for the wildflowers. Trilliums are just starting to bloom. Trout lilies carpet the ground with their spotted leaves, but no sign of the yellow blooms. Violets galore - purple, white and yellow. The bloodroot blooms are finished but their attractive leaves are large and showy. Mayapples grow in clumps around the woods. Look close and you may find a wild ginger with its unusual brown flower. Of course, spring beauties rival the violets carpeting the woodland floor.

And the understory canopy drips shocking pink of the redbud softened by the white of the dogwood blooms. I love spring!

UPDATE: Redbuds do not drip; wisteria drips. After observing the scene again, the last paragraph should read: "And floating above are the shocking pink blooms of redbud softened by the white of the dogwood blooms."
The storms raged all around but we got very little rain. In fact, I moved a leaf this morning and the ground was dry and cracked underneath. Just several miles away, there is flooding. There is a slight chance of rain this afternoon and then clear again.

I was sitting in the parking lot of school waiting for the bus to deliver Ricky and the track team when the tornado sirens went off. It was dark to the south but the stars were twinkling to the north. We live north of the school. The kids piled out of the bus, adrenaline rushing, as if middle schoolers need more adrenaline. Parents were rushing them to the cars, or rather SUVs, creating more excitement. The air was crackling.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Pink, White and Shades of Green
When I walk out my front door, here's what I see in the roughly triangular garden edged by driveway, house and front sidewalk.

The base is green. Height is supplied by two dwarf evergreens and mass is from the blue-green succulent leaves of Autumn Joy sedum. Contrasting this height and mass are the ferny green leaves of Achillea filipendula "Coronation Gold" (yarrow), the ruffled variegated foliage of Aquilegia (Columbine), the grassy, low, blue-green foliage of Dianthus (pinks or carnations) and the spikey foiiage of Siberian iris. Other plants are emerging to provide a background of different shades and textures of foliage. The green foliage is broken up with several dwarf red barberry bushes.

Four varieties of tulips are blooming. Angelique are soft pink and white with a creamy base. The other two tall tulips are a clear medium pink and a dark pink, almost purple. The last tulip is "Persian Pearl," a small hot pink species tulip. Interspersed among the tulips are pure white hyacinths.

None of these plants are unusual. The aesthetic is from the combination and this year's unique blooming times. With a hot dry spring, the tulips are blooming with the hyacinths and the foliage has shot up. I may not see this combination again.

Friday, April 16, 2004

One advantage of going over every square inch of three acres looking for garlic mustard is the micro view I'm getting of the woods. Especially interesting is the changes in soil and the emerging plants. Soon I will have mayapples, solomon seal, false solomon seal. I just hope I'm not disturbing the morel mushrooms that were so abundant last year. Of course, this may not be a good year for mushrooms unless we get more of those April showers. It is so dry.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Spring Day
Sunny. Warm. Daffodils and forsythia in full color. Grass starting to green. I found a few early wildflowers in our woods - bloodroot, trout lily, violets.

I spent most of the day in the woods, grubbing out the pernicious garlic mustard and digging up any multiflora rose and other brambles that I ran into. I am scratched, my wrist is aching, I probably have poison ivy, I am tired. So why do I feel so alive?

From Sand in the Gears

"If he'd ever in his life hoped for benevolence it must have been on the queasy trot up to the locker room for the midgame pep talk, but his hopes had a hideous end."
-- Peace Like a River by Leif Enger

Now you try:
1. Grab the nearest book.
2. Open the book to page 23.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the text of the sentence in your journal along with these instructions.

The first book I grabbed, A Country Year by Sue Hubbell, only had three sentences on page 23. My book club is discussing this book on Friday. I read it when I turned 50 and it helped me discover how I wanted to live the latter years of my mid-life.

Thursday, April 01, 2004

How to Stress Teenagers
On the way to church last night, Rick stated, "Mom, you and Dad really stress my brother and me." My heart drops because I work hard to make our home a sanctuary, a safe place, a refuge from the world for my family. The only way we may put stress on them is ...

"Because we make you do your schoolwork, clean your room, do your chores?" Silence.

"Well, you do nag us."

"If you do it when we ask...or even do it without asking, the problem is solved, " I respond ever so rationally letting that word "nag" fall into the netherland even though I hate hate hate that word.

I hear the gears whirling as he figures out how to backpedal.

"No, it's not the work. I like doing the work. It's just that when I get home, you ask me in a sweet voice, 'How was school today?' and I'm almost 15 and that's my business."

"OK. From now on I will ask you 'How was school today?' in a mean voice."