Thursday, November 7, 2013

My basil is toast, burnt toast is what it looks like. Most other plants are still hanging in there since we haven't had a hard freeze. I think about going out and removing whatever isn't going to survive the winter but I keep finding things to do inside instead. Maybe it's because I'm not ready to give up on what I enjoyed all spring and summer. This is a beautiful time of the year but always makes me nostalgic. I used to think it was because it heralded the beginning of the school year and as much as I enjoyed school it put restrictions and limits on how I could spend my time. No more spending each day in imaginative play or reading favorite books straight through. The days are shorter as well and cooler in the evenings so that being outside requires some sort of jacket. Then I turn my thinking to the fact that I can cook some of my good soup recipes and I can pull out my winter wardrobe. Change can be good and something to look forward to.This year we're enjoying a beautiful vista of changing leaves. I have to watch that I'm not distracted by them as I drive. I've written a poem about the trees and another one about the change back from daylight savings time. They do tend to intersect.

Coming Out

The debutantes of Autumn now vie
for our attention; their gowns of
yellow, gold, orange, bronze and crimson
stand out in stark contrast to the staid
and somber greens and muted brown
their escorts wear. No shrinking violets here.
They're using this occasion now to shine before
the last song of their season is played out.

-  November 6, 2013

Time on My Hands

Early yesterday morning, 2 a.m. to be exact,
we stopped saving time. At least that's how
it sounds when you fall back after having
an extra hour of daylight at the end of each day.
And how can you save time? Time keeps moving
no matter how fast or slow we act. It's not like
saving pennies, is it? Can we say "a minute saved
is a minute earned" the way we say that about pennies?
The penny lies there in your hand, a tangible object,
while the minute is gone never to be experienced again.

- November 4, 2013

Saturday, November 2, 2013

It's cooled off enough that my basil plant is just a memory. Oh, but I did pick several stems and have them in a vase of water on my kitchen counter. The other herbs are toughing it out until we get an actual freeze.
Now as I drive around my town so full of large leafy trees I'm enjoying the changing colors and also thinking about where do all those leaves go. I know some rake them or have them vacuumed up by some enterprising individuals. I prefer to leave them to their own devices, either blowing away or getting chewed up by the people who cut my grass.
But back to my original thoughts, what does happen to all the leaves? We have many large trees with a gazillion leaves. It looks as if we'd be up to our ears in leaves when all of them finally bite the dust. Maybe I have too much time on my hands if I can ponder this. On the other hand I did think of the trees when their leaves leave. It's kind of like when my kids and now my grandson left for college. . .

Taking Leave

Do they feel the separation? Is there pain
when their leaves let go and drift away?
Do tree mothers mourn their passing?
The loss is graphic, bare limbs, bare trunks,
their young lying lifeless at their roots
forming a blanket before snow falls.
I like to think the tree mothers fall into
a deep and peaceful sleep and dream
of Spring's arrival with re-birth and
new lives to nurture and enjoy.

30 October 2013

Friday, October 11, 2013

I'm glad the pool cover is on although I know leaves are able to slide under it. At least I don't have to deal with that until the pool's opened again next May. Autumn seems late this year and leaves are just now starting to fall in earnest. I don't even try to rake mine and can't afford to pay someone to do it for me. I have so many large trees it would be quite an endeavor either way. Driving through Kirkwood today it struck me how many trees we have and how many leaves will eventually fall from them. 
No, I haven't made the pesto yet, if you were wondering. I did manage to post the picture of my basil plants on my Facebook page and will add it to this page when I figure out how to do it. My daughter Leslie wrote the instruction: "Add gadget and type in title". I'll have to have my computer expert here in town (my son Tom) help me do that.
Nearly every day I make a To Do List and rarely cross off everything I hoped to do that day. At least it keeps me aware of the important stuff and until a frost is forecast the basil is okay outside.
One thing I didn't put on my To Do List is putting up the Halloween decorations. I did bring them up from the basement but I think the lingering warm weather has kept me from getting into the Halloween mood.

Monday, October 7, 2013

I finally decided to bring in the parsley plants yesterday. I have curly and Italian (flat leaf) growing in the same pot. They've made a remarkable recovery from the caterpillar scourge a few weeks ago. What prompted me to move the pot inside was how much cooler it's gotten. I know we're not frost threatened any time soon but it's good to bring in plants that have been outside all summer before you turn on the furnace. It gives them a chance to acclimate to the difference. My bay tree is not nearly as tall as I had hoped it would be.
I'll try to keep it going through the winter. It might be a slow starter. Pulling a fresh leaf off when I need one is much better than having to rely on the ones in a jar.
One year I bought a large wreath of bay leaves from a catalog. When they had all completely dried out I pulled them off and bagged them. I use a lot of bay leaves for the marinated shrimp I serve during the holidays so I got my money's worth out of that purchase.
There are two houseplants on my screened porch that will come inside as well. I haven't done the best job of remembering to water them but they've survived.
Now my work is cut out for me with all the basil I have. I want to take a picture of the plant and post it before I turn its leaves into pesto. I read that it's best to make it fresh each time because it darkens when you freeze it. I, however, can deal with that since it's the taste I'm looking forward to this winter when I pull some out of my freezer.
Another sign that summer is truly over was the lack of watermelons at the grocery store. I was, however, excited to see them at Sam's Club. Problem is, it's not as good as the earlier ones. Obviously they were picked a little too soon.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Yesterday I was going to share with you one of the things I love to do with a poem I wrote about it. Unfortunately, while I was doing some light housekeeping, the only kind I seem to do except when I'm expecting company, I knocked over my water jug. OOPS! Some of it spilled onto my keyboard. I frantically grabbed paper towels and did my best to dry it off. Then when I tried to write this post my keyboard took on a life of its own and it was kind of like that doll in a very scary movie, Chuckie I'm thinking was its name. At any rate when I typed I noticed that lower case "L's" would pop up inside words and then a whole string of them would follow a word. I'd delete them but after a while the L just stopped working. You don't realize how many words have "L's" in them until you can't use that letter. I couldn't even send out an email describing the problem by saying one letter I need doesn't work. I had thought I'd need to replace my keyboard which according to Tom is about time. The delete key top has come loose and I have to keep putting it back in place. That's due to over use I'm sure.
With that chore off my "To Do" list for this morning I can happily share my poem and then get on with other things like planning the SS program and cleaning my house for the Brownie meeting Sunday afternoon!

Ode to Crossword Puzzles

What joy you give me when
an answer pops into my mind;
what satisfaction I feel when
I recall forgotten facts,
the name of something I
would not have known
save having learned it at
your site. Some might scoff
and label this as trivial pursuit
but life's made up of trivia,
of little things, the minutiae
of our existence. How else
would I know so much and
daily be required to use it
and what's more know the
correct spelling? No Spell Check
on that checkered grid!

I might add that doing these puzzles daily doesn't keep me from getting other things done. I do the puzzles while I eat my lunch and dinner.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

We got some much needed rain yesterday and might get more tonight but it hasn't cooled off - 92 right now at 5:30. At least I got the pool closed before the trees really started to shed their leaves. That cuts down on what will be awaiting me next Spring when I get the pool opened again although it's obvious that leaves do slip under the edges of the cover when it's windy.

I did some pruning on my special rose bush today. It's taller than me and about as wide as well. I saw a lot of rose hips and was wondering if I should collect them. My mom used to talk about them but I can't remember what their value is other than maybe rose hips tea.

One thing is certain, I should have watered my two Boston ferns more often. I think they're not good candidates for bringing inside. I relied too much on the sprinkler I set up for the other plants and they obviously didn't get enough water being at the edge of the action.

I still haven't made the pesto I plan to freeze. I did buy walnuts and pine nuts to use together or separately, I haven't decided on which recipe I'll use. I was asked for a recipe by my daughter Karen and I pulled out all I have. One interesting one uses peas instead of basil which would make it easy to make year round except that it also needs fresh mint leaves. I do have a surplus of mint in three large pots. One kind is chocolate mint and it smells and tastes like a chocolate mint patty, yum! Whoever created that mint plant was a genius. 

Monday, September 16, 2013

I was happy to see yesterday that my parsley plant is regenerating itself after having been completely rid of its leaves by some of those large green and black striped caterpillars. They did the same to a plant a couple of years ago but it wasn't able to come back. I have been bringing in the pot of parsley every fall as I love having fresh parsley to pick whenever I need it during the winter. These are the same marauders who attack tomato plants. A few years ago my younger daughter and I had a field day pulling them off and running over them with her car. Pretty yucky but effective. We enjoyed the noise it made as well. I guess there's a bit of the school boy in us.
I also have a giant basil plant in a pot. I just measured it and it's 44" tall. I know I can't get it to winter over inside so I plan to make as much pesto as I can and freeze it in portion sizes. That beats paying $4 or more for the fresh leaves at the supermarket. Next spring I'll buy a potted basil to put in my kitchen window since I can keep that alive until it's time to plant outdoors.
Terri Anne and I have been admiring the sunflowers her class planted last spring behind her school. They're the really tall ones. We planted some here a couple of years ago but had them in pots so they weren't as spectacular. I think I need to find a good in the ground spot for some next year. In 2008 I wrote a poem about them.


Heads heavy on their long
green necks, they shift
their gaze from Sun
whom they've adored
and homage paid this
Summer long. But now,
as Autumn nears, they
bow their heads and strike
a downcast pose like
supplicants in an obedient
mode whose prayers fall
down to Mother Earth;
these prayers the seeds of
their own Resurrection.

Monday, September 9, 2013

This morning I went outside to check on my plants. The ferns are looking really awful, they're all brown. I want to pull out those uglies but not sure about stepping into that area since I evidently still have some snakes.

I removed a tiny one from my pool skimmer basket last week. It was dead so I had no qualms about holding it. I even got Terri Anne to touch it and then hold it herself. She was quite proud of her ability to overcome a fear most of us have. I don't recommend picking up just any old critter but a dead harmless snake is okay. We discovered that its belly is smooth if you rub it in one direction and rough and prickly if you rub it the other way. The little beady brown eyes made me think of the gecko on the Geico commercial. Today it wasn't on the stone wall where we left it so it might have been a meal for some other creature.

I also heard a hummingbird's chirps as it was circling and deciding where to land on my feeder. I still haven't refilled the seed feeder for the other birds but I'll try to remember to do that with Terri Anne's help after school today. 

My basil plants have grown so tall that they were tipping over. I had to find something to stake them so they're upright. I also noticed a large bumble bee lovin' on one of the blossoms. I needed to cut off the blossoms anyway so I left his till last but finally removed it with him intact. He was so intent on getting his fill of that basil blossom's nectar that he didn't even fly away. I'm going to pick lots of leaves to make some pesto which I will freeze to use this winter. Now my hands smell like basil which is one of my favorite scents. It reminds me of a poem I wrote in 2008:


I'm drunk on basil's
sweet, seductive scent,
as I select the best leaves,
the ones its other admirers
have not yet sampled.
I'm not the only lover
of this herbal siren whose
perfume greets me when
I touch its leaves or
slake its thirst with
welcomed drinks of water.
But now as Autumn's
near and living as I do
where Winter takes its toll
on tender plants, basil's
scent will soon be just
a memory and a longing
for Spring's return. 

Friday, August 30, 2013

It's too hot to garden; it's too hot to even go outside. The wilting plants in my window boxes beg my attention however, so I venture out to give them a drink, needy little creatures that they are. I also set the sprinkler up to water the plants in pots. It's much easier than hauling the hose around to do it individually. The problem is that I sometimes forget to set the timer and end up watering for several hours! Once I walk back inside my attention is diverted to other chores. It really does prove that walking through a doorway can make you forget what you intend to do in the next room.
One other thing I've accomplished today is to put into words how this miserable heat is making me feel.

Summer Love

like a beau I'd forgotten,
wraps his arms around me
when I venture outside.
His predecessor
was easier to love.
He spoiled me;
made me forget
what Summer's usually like.
He wooed me
with his sunny kisses
and the gentle breeze of his voice.
Now I'm stuck
with this bad boy
who makes me
loath to leave my house.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Yesterday afternoon Terri Anne and I headed out to weed and trim. She didn't last as long as I did but she managed to lop off some of the dead flowers from my lamb's ear plants. She likes to use the long handled loppers and was asking if she could trim back the ivy growing over the path on one side of the garden. I didn't go along with that since I use my electric hedge trimmer for that bad boy job. Eventually she opted to go inside since she was getting hot. It really wasn't that hot and I barely broke a sweat the three hours I spent pulling out weeds and wandering perennials. Now all that's left to do is trim the ground cover behind the retaining wall around the pool deck.

Even though my thigh muscles were starting to hurt from bending over to work I was determined to finish the job. I finally resorted to bringing my portable bench out to sit on.

I'm hoping that the teensy little weeds I couldn't pull out don't grow too much before the birthday swim party Sat. afternoon. Even if they do the whole area looks so much better. I even re-hung the bird house and a couple of other things that had fallen off the garage wall. Said bird house had been occupied some time this summer since there were lots of feathers and nesting material that fell out of it when it hit the ground. The strange thing is that the feathers were quite large, the bird house entry hole is small and the only birds I've seen frequent the bird houses are tiny little brown ones. What I'm thinking is that they found the feathers and added them to their nests. Could you say birds of a feather, any feather, nest together?

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

My garden is growing in spite of me - the weeds and/or uppity perennials at any rate, no, at an alarming rate. We've had just enough rain to enable me to only have to haul out the hose and water the containers when their plants start to wilt. One that screams for attention is visible through my kitchen window: the lime colored sweet potato vine in my window boxes. It's kind of like that plant the boy ended up with after he traded his family's cow for some seeds. I'm loathe to trim it back as it's a testimony in part to whatever green hue my thumb might have.
Today I've informed Terri Anne that we will have to tackle some weeding and trimming projects before her birthday swim party on Saturday afternoon. She's got her own agenda which includes front and foremost our watching a DVD movie, Reckless Ralph. I haven't seen it so I'm content to spend an hour and a half doing that first.
But back to the garden, my pastor has asked us to submit writings about Creation and its various aspects. What came to me was a poem about how God pulled this off. Since it started in a garden, an ideal perfect place we never should have left I'll share it with you here.

In the Beginning. . .

The story is familiar
in whatever form we read or hear it.
Taken literally or figuratively
there's a progression that gives
it purpose; start with the basics,
do the ground work, add elements
to flesh it out like we have done
and do to this very day.
Yet we cannot create anything
from nothing, that's beyond us.
God's basic was chaos, utter disorder,
nothingness to be exact.
It took words from God
to bring it to fruition.
And later we learn it was
not just the words that God spoke
but the Word who was his son,
Jesus the Christ.

13 August 2013
by Terry Waggle 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Last week Eva and I noticed a bird on my hummingbird feeder. I've seen quite a few hummingbirds and an occasional red headed woodpecker before. This one was different so I took its picture so we could refer to it while looking in my Missouri bird book. Bingo, it's a Downy Woodpecker. I've never had any other birds frequent the hummingbird feeder so I shouldn't have been surprised. I don't know what attracts them to it unless their little throats are all dried out with sawdust from pecking on my cedar siding. There are plenty of bird baths in my garden as well.
Just this morning I noticed another creature trying to hop back out of one. It was a small toad and after I took his picture I gave him a helping hand out. I try to post the picture later.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Remember I promised poems as they crop up? Well, one kind of did, in my mind at least. I wrote it back in March of 2009 when I saw this critter lying in the street. Even though the "o" is silent it worked well for me as I wrote it the way most spell it.


Oh, possum,
poor possum,
lying in the road
curled up on your
side the way I sleep
at night. Your sleep
is deeper though than
mine. Did not your
parents say, "Stop,
look and listen before
you make your way
across the street"?
I pray that soon
you'll wake up
in a safer place.

I have to add that I saw not one, but two unfortunate possums on my way home from church this morning.
All the gardening that needed to be done this lovely Sabbath was to water the two houseplants on my screened porch. Or I should say all the gardening I plan to do today.
We're scheduled for a rare week of highs in the 80's instead of 90-100's so any strenuous work can wait till tomorrow morning.
Now I think I'll do some research on Zacchaeus in Luke to prepare for Billy's class tomorrow evening. I also have an assignment for our Wed. morning study of J. Ellsworth Kalas' book "I Love Growing Older but I'll Never Grow Old". In our intro session last Wed. I shared the story of Billy when he was probably 4 asking me what I wanted to be when I grow up. Food for thought and I still haven't decided.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Yesterday afternoon I went to the St. Louis Zoo with Leslie, Eva, Harry and Terri Anne. It was a lot of walking but I managed. I was a bit lax on prep since I thought there would be lots of drinking fountains and places to plop down if I needed to sit for a while. What there turned out to be was warm water in the few fountains we happened on and lots of other folks who wanted to sit down on the available benches. Lucky for me there were some large rocks strategically placed that I could sit on.
We also didn't apply or take sun screen. We assured ourselves once we got everyone there and had a limited time to be there we'd mostly be in the shade! Nobody got sunburned and it was around 2:30. Next time though I'll think about and about taking a good supply of cold water.
I think the most amazing experience I had there, and the kids seemed to agree, was just how big the adult giraffes are when you view them up close. They were inside instead of across the way, up close and personal so to speak. Harry loves giraffes so this was special. We probably would have had the same reaction if the elephants had been inside instead of some distance away in their outdoor setting. Those are Eva's and Terri Anne's favorite animals.
I'm starting a blog with the help of my daughter Leslie. Tom loaded some photos which I'll add from my gardening or as I like to call it, "exterior decorating". It's something I am enjoying so much after not being able to do it for the last few years. Mother Nature took over and had her way with the perennials and unwelcome plants, aka weeds. Word to the wise, herbs are best in large pots, especially if they're related to mint. It's surprising how many are or seem to be in my garden.
I'll be adding my poems when they crop up as well. I hope you aren't slapping your forehead at that gardening pun. I just can't help it.