Friday, June 20, 2008

First Day of Summer (as per the calendar)

I feel like it has been summer for a couple of months now, but my desktop calendar begs to differ with me.
It says that TODAY is the first day of summer.
I am not going to argue with that chronological grid.
Instead I'm just going to post a few pictures to mark the official start of this season.

The main thoroughfare in my town: Those trees behind the traffic signals are crape myrtle in bloom.
Enormous aren't they?
Check out how big the trees are compared to the car on the road.
The myrtle leaves turn a vivid butternut blaze orange in autumn, then have lovely bare skin colored limbs in winter.
Then they pull out all the stops to dazzle us with pink,rose, purple, magenta and white blossoms in the summer.
It is interesting to think how much one would regret each passing seasonal phase if one didn't know more wonderfulness was soon to be expected!

Last night I went out to water some of our patio plants. Inside of one pot were two tiny mushrooms, about the size of the last digit of my baby finger. You can see the stem of the second mushroom at the top of the picture.
I had transplanted volunteer tomato seedlings in that pot; at the time I wasn't expecting the makings of tomato and mushroom salad to appear.

They were not the most amazing mushrooms I've ever seen.
(I frequently stop to take mushroom pictures.)

But the pebbly caps caught my interest.
They were kind of cute, being so small and all.
Imagine my surprise when I went outside this morning and discoverer my tiny photo subjects of yesterday had BLOOMED!
I had never thought of mushrooms blooming before.

I was able to get a shot of the mushrooms from the underside as well.
Another magical garden view available to be seen only when kneeling down.

Bernie flagged me that we have a new resident in our garden this morning.
One of the large yellow forest spiders has chosen to settle in along our back fence.
She is practicing her web building skills, creating various web structures in the holly bushes and amidst our crape myrtle tree's branches.

Ms. Spider (I'm thinking of calling her either "Golda" or "Summer") has made one beautiful web, but currently she is hunkered down in a more boxy shaped web effort.
She is still quite young, and maybe going through an experimental/modern phase of home design.
I think it won't be long until she will settle back into the traditional time honored rounded web shaped design.
I am so happy to have her right outside the window above our garden tub where I can watch her at work spinning webs without stepping out into the heat.
While Ms. Spider is tinkering with her home design, I am doing likewise.
This morning we ordered new carpeting. The eggshell colored carpet sample in corner is our choice, not too different than the color of the wool berber that we have lived with since we bought the place.

We ordered paint for the kitchen and the sun room yesterday.
The dots are the color of the accent walls in our house; I was trying to see which color would work best with that.
In the end I flipped a coin...and went with Relaxed Khaki.

When we moved into our house seven and a half years ago, we thought we would replace the then six year old kitchen wall paper.
It was in perfect condition, but seemed rather dark.
(It is a dark green, if your monitor is iffy on color exactness.)
The real estate agent at the time told us that the few people who had seen the house before us were turned off by the all-over-the-kitchen blast of color and pattern.

I loved the house and garden.
I knew I wanted this house the moment I stepped through the front door.
After looking at over a hundred houses, the wall paper in this kitchen didn't bother me at all at the time.
Plus I was too tired from moving and finishing grad school to want to go to the hassle of selecting new paper or painting.
I sure as heck didn't want to strip all that paper myself!

But it is now the six year old wall paper is thirteen year old wall paper.
New eyes seeing it will probably be even more turned off by the dark green color.
Say good bye to the vines, they will be textured and painted over with a nice neutral Relaxed Khaki next week.

Our sun room had wall paper that just THRILLED me the first moment I saw it.
I loved the woven grass cloth design, and how organic and restful it felt in the room with many tall windows and plantation shutters that opened to the view of our garden.

Our *bleep* cats thought it looked restful and organic too.
Just perfect for using to buff their natural organic nails.
I am actually a bit thankful that the paper has faded around the pictures on the wall.
Even if the cats had behaved, the paper would have needed to be replaced anyway.
Next week the room will be painted a soft buttery yellow called Jersey cream.
So it is here with us on the first official day of Summer, in the year of our Lord 2008.
It will be our last summer in Texas.
Our house will be going on the market the first week in July and we hope to move to either Salt Lake City or San Diego by autumn.
Both Bernie and I are searching for positions in those areas; his position with his company ends August 3rd.
There are a lot of changes ahead for us and the need for positive expectations and prayerful supplications is great.
We are excited that God has a plan for us even if it is not yet fully apparent.
Like the mushrooms, such plans are generated out of view, then appear as tiny things, and then suddenly, become apparent to all who would see.
We kneel to see the wonders, and rise to take on the challenges in faith.
And make preparations for those changes that lie ahead.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Aunt Lou

Our "Aunt Lou" begonia is going great guns in our garden right now.

The blossoms as seen from below.

(You have to kneel down on the ground and look up to see the pink blossoms that hang downward in large clusters.)

Up close each blossom appears as if they have been sprinkled with fine crystals.

Fairy sparkles, as any right minded little girl (of any age...) would say.

Isn't that a magnificent flower cluster?

I love how the leaves are red as seen from back, and green with white freckles as seen from the front.
Now for the story behind this plant.

Bernie's grandfather had but one sister...known to one and all as "Lou", even though when she was born in January of 1883 in Illinois, she was christened Clara.
That's Lou with her brothers in the center of the picture above.

This name switchero was a popular past time back then. Clara (aka "Lou") had a brother named Ira who went by Cat. Ira was Bernie's grandpa, and he's the guy on the far right leaning over his wife in the plaid dress. Her name was Bessie, real name Nancy Jane, and she was Bernie's grandma.

I digress.

By the time Lou had grown up and married and settled in Sacramento California, she had a begonia in her garden that she used to snap pieces from and hand off to friends and relatives.

One day one piece of the begonia got snapped off and handed to her nephew's wife; who is now my mother in law. My MIL Barbara stuck the cutting into a pot in her garden and let it grow.

It would grow a bit every year in Barbara's garden in San Diego and bloom.
Barbara gave a cutting to me for my garden in Texas. A piece about six inches long.

I stuck it in a pot.
It grew.
Oh my how it grew!
No one had ever seen an Aunt Lou cutting do what this one did!
We gave a cutting of our plant to Jeff to grow in Salt Lake City.
He stuck it in a pot and kept it inside, next to a sliding glass door in his living room.
It grew and thrived as well.
Pieces of Aunt Lou's begonia are in family and friends gardens in many cities and states.
Isn't that cool?
I think so.
And I thought you would too.
If it were possible, I would invite you over for a visit today, hand you a cold glass of ice tea, and we would visit a bit. And then when it was time for you to leave, I would go outside and snap off a piece of my Aunt Lou begonia so you could have some in your garden too.
Wouldn't that be nice?
Who knows. Maybe some day it will happen.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

A walk in the woods on Father's Day

It has been awhile since B. and I have walked together through the wood. It's been too hot, we've been too busy, life piles up.

I sometimes wonder what I miss on the days when I don't take a walk.
Along the side of the path on this day was this little flower.

A pink tinged lily, about five inches across, a solitary bloom amidst the brambles.
It is good to consider lilies; they last but a day, yet their beauty is displayed as though each flower was to last forever.

Tiny things go about their lives as well. B. saw this oh so eensie skink. When it ran it looked like a squiggle swimming across the ground.

The grasses in the meadow have begun to go to seed.
The curlicue fronds suggest an Arabic script spelling out a praise of life and creation.
It has been very hot here and I cringe to hear the weather reports of "Gulf Moisture" fueling the storms of the Midwest.
Houston had a flood in 2001, from a Tropical Storm named Allison. I know what it is like for neighborhoods to be lost, and for businesses to struggle to regroup from the deluge.
Then there was Katrina.
We saw first hand how a flood can forever altered what people thought their life would be like.
Now the floods of the Midwest...
I just want to say that I am praying for everyone in the midst of many waters and the economic fallout that we all may be called upon to endure.
These are challenging times on many levels and for many people in many places.
I believe in considering lilies, how they toil not, nor spin, yet God provides for them, for the sake of their mere one day existence.
If these thoughts seem a bit heavy it is because right now we too face challenging time, less challenging than the challenges many people face and more challenging than the challenges that other people face.
Such is life....
I find encouragement in considering the glorious lilies on this site.
Gotta Garden is recording the lilies that are now blooming in her garden daily.
I thank her for her efforts to show us all the glories about her garden!
It astonishes me to see the many variations of day lilies in bloom.
I had no idea...
And it amazes to me to realize that each picture that she has posted is of a lily, no matter how glorious, which was created to bloom for only a single day.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Father's Day! And here is another dead animal....

I don't have a lot of pictures of my dad and me from when I was growing up.
Dad usually manned the camera so he wasn't in many of the pictures.

Whenever he was in the picture, usually he was holding something he had caught fishing or killed while hunting.
Yellowtail, bonita, marlin, deer, bob cat, geese, ducks, turkeys, pheasant, coyotes...the list went on and on.

I joke with him whenever we go through the family album:

Here's a picture of us kids, there's a picture of you with a dead animal...another of us kids, another of you and a dead fish....

Usually our pets got into the pictures too.

So here we have the perfect picture of my Dad, my brother and me, a dead fish that Dad had caught, our Siamese cat and our tortoise.

Ah, those were the days!

My dad, San Diego's Sportsman of the Year several times over.

He got trophies for that.

Dad...I just have never found the right trophy to give you for being my Father of Each Year each and every year of my life.
Probably just as well...I don't think there is a shelf big enough to hold a trophy like that anyway!

So here's my love and thank you for all the years...and hope you are going to enjoy your (Grand) Father's Day tonight!