Friday, July 31, 2009

Saving the World While Pulling Weeds

It's time to go out front and pull weeds, and that's a good thing. Because pulling weeds is more than just pulling weeds. It's time to think and ponder the universe. I solve most of the world's problems while I'm weeding.
I fixed healthcare yesterday giving it to everyone who works (or has worked) and isn't an illegal, payment based on what you can afford. I've read how Congress thinks they're going to fund it and I don't believe for a second that it will cover the cost.
So to pick up the shortfall I'd add a surtax on anyone who drives an SUV that gets less than 30 miles a hour. I'd also put a surtax on whining. I'm sick of listening to people complain about things that don't matter, just shut up. The Lord takes care of those who take care of themselves.
The word "awesome" would cost you 5 cents everytime you used it, adding millions to the funding.
"High Fiving" would carry a surcharge, time to grow up and leave childish actions behind.
Using the word "space" to talk about a house would be taxable. They're rooms and areas, space is where the Enterprise goes.
Using cell phones while driving will carry a "health fine" that would be part of the funding, after all texting while driving causex accidents and that's a health problem.
I can think of lots of other ways to fund it, but what's probably going to happen is they'll tax all of us who already have it and give it to those who don't.
Anyway, that's the problem I solved yesterday, today I'll work on Afghanistan.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Appliances


Thought I talk about my washer and dryer today, yesterday was laundry day and we spent a lot of "quality" time together. The picture looks a lot like my washer/dryer, plain old white, not a fashion statement at all. But then I bought them to work for me, not to accessorize my laundry room, oh God I've been watching too much HGTV!
Anyway, they're an interesting pair and have taught me a lot about what I'll go looking for when next I buy a new appliance. The washer is nearly 7 years old and is my least favorite of the pair. Least favorite you say? Why is that? Well I guess it's because when it was a little over 2 years old the agitator broke, fell apart. I'd never heard of a washer doing that, as Professor Peter Vinkman (Bill Murray) in Ghostbusters said, "You hardly ever see that in a major appliance." But using the Internet I found another agitator and Mac fixed it. The next problem is that it's rusting inside, probably from exposure to water. You'd think a washer could deal with a "little" water, but no, not this one. What brand is this washer you ask, well it's a Frigidaire, the brand I won't be replacing it with. And even though it's only 7 years old I don't look for it to last much longer.
Now my dryer is a different story! I bought it in 1982, that makes it more than 27 years old, and it's still going strong. What brand is it? Well it's a Kenmore from Sears, but I'll bet if I replaced it with another Kenmore it wouldn't be the same, for this one was made in the USA and there's no telling where they come from now.
But I'm going to read a LOT of reviews before I buy any new appliance.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Movies

I thought I'd write about movies today. Mac and I really have a hard time finding movies we like. It seems like they are so predictable, though that might be a factor of age. I think someone said that there are really only 5 plots (can't remember what they are, but Lord knows I've seen them).
Americans make good action movies, but I really am not crazy about their romantic movies. Either they're, again, too predictable or they're teenage gross. Thank goodness for Netflix, I sit at my computer and study films from all over the world, and of course still manage to pick clunkers.
One of our favorite movies is "Once". It takes place in Ireland and it's about a musician. The song from it Falling Slowly won an Oscar and I really liked the movie. The people seemed so real instead of Hollywood phony.
We like Tim Burton the director, he directed "Big Fish", a wonderful movie starring Ewan McGregor and Albert Finney. It has a line in it about love, the character says there was her and then every other women in the world, and that's exactly how love should be. He also directed Johnny Depp in "Edward Scissorhands," " Ed Wood" ( a wonderful cheesy movie),"Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" (Depp says he got Charlie's voice from playing Barbi dolls with his daughter), and "Sleepy Hollow". We enjoyed all of these except "Sleepy Hollow".
Johnny Depp is one of our favorite actors and we've seen him in the Tim Burton movies mentioned above as well as "What's Eating Gilbert Grape"(also starring a very young Leonardo diCaprio), "Don Juan DiMarco" , "Chocolate" , and "Cry Baby". I'm really looking forward to his interpretation of the Mad Hatter in Tim Burton's "Alice in Wonderland" (note the picture).
One of the most visually stunning movies we've ever seen was "The Fall". It's the story of a stunt actor in the early 1900's who is injured and while he is in the hospital he tells stories to a little girl (best child actor I've ever seen) and the movie is how her mind interprets what he's telling. Absolutely gorgeous.
Speaking of child actors, there is a British movie called "Millions" that tells the story of 2 little boys who find a bag of cash that criminals have thrown off the train. Very touching story.
My latest find is "Lost in Austen", a story of a modern London girl who accidentally trades places with Elizabeth Bennett, the heroine of Pride and Prejudice, absolutely hilarious. I understand that the American rights to it have been bought, no telling what Hollywood will do with it.
Saw a German movie that won the Oscar for best foreign film in 2003. It is called "Nowhere in Africa". It's the story of a Jewish family that immigrates to Kenya just before the Second World War to escape the Nazis. Excellent movie.
A French movie we liked was "My Father's Glory", about a French family that rents a summer home, beautiful family movie and there's a sequel "My Mother's Castle".
A hilarious foreign movie we saw was "The Great Match" about 3 very different groups of people (a group of Amazonian indios, a group of Mongolian nomads, and a group of Tuareg people from the Sahara) all trying to get to a t.v. set so they could see the World Cup in 2002.
Movies with subtitles aren't always easy to watch, but I judge how good a movie is by the fact that I forget I'm reading the subtitles.
I wish Americans made better movies. I keep ordering them from Netflix and being disappointed. They need to remember we don't all live in New York City or LA.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Janet's EEK -OH System







We are fortunate to have a very diverse eco system in our yard, which means we have a lot of critters in our yard, most of them are welcome. However Janet has her own diverse EEK-OH system which consists of some critters which are not actually welcomed with open arms. First and foremost is our narrow friend the Black Racer or Whip Snake. Last year about five of them took up residence under our porch next to the pool, Janet would lookup and find them staring at her through the lattice work. She would then do an excellent exhibition of walking on water while calling my name! Next in line is the Gator, who if he remains in the water is welcome, but once out of the water he's not welcome at all. There must be a mile of frontage on this lagoon in our backyard and he decides that our 200 feet or so is his. About the beginning of July these garden spider start making webs in the woods, and they grow fast, they are now about 1 1/2 inches and will grow more as August comes on. The real problem is they make their webs at about face level, so that you come upon them eye to eye, or even worse eye to eight eyes!
Last but not least is the wasps that seem to be everywhere, but that's another story.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Paella Recipe


My friend Patty posted a recipe for Chicken Fajita Dip and asked others to leave a recipe on her Blog (www. welcometopattyville. blogspot.com). Her daughter Shea left one for Stir-Fry Chicken.
I told her I'd post a recipe, but I'd do it on my Blog.
So I decided to post my recipe for Paella, a Spanish dish. I need to add that my husband Mac is Spanish and Spanish food is very different from Mexican. The Spanish don't eat Fajitas, Tacos, Enchiladas etc. Spanish food is spicy, but not hot, very few peppers are used. They eat lots of grilled meats, stews and tortillas,which in Spanish cooking is an omelet, while in Mexican it's flat bread made of flour or corn.

So here's my recipe for Paella:

2 medium garlic cloves crushed
1 medium onion chopped
4 chicken thighs
2 cups water
14 1/2 oz canned tomatoes, whole, peeled and chopped (I sometimes throw in a can of tomato sauce too)
5 1/2 oz uncooked rice
12 shrimp (I use frozen)
pinch of Saffron (Spanish spice, very expensive, but you can substitute Turmeric)
1 chorizo chopped up This is a Spanish sausage, don't use the Mexican kind it falls apart.
2/3 cup frozen green peas.
Green peppers and red peppers can be chopped and used if you like (Mac's not crazy about Bell Peppers so I go easy on them).

1. Spray a large skillet with cooking spray (I use olive oil flavored). Brown the garlic, onions and chicken. I cook it till the chicken stops bleeding.

2. Add water, tomatoes, rice, saffron. Cover and simmer 10-15 minutes.

3. Add peppers, simmer and stir occasionally. Add peas and simmer until rice and peas are tender 5-10 minutes. Add more water if needed.

The picture at the top is of a real Paella and it has mussels, squid and other stuff. A Paella is actually meant to have anything that you have laying around your kitchen, it's a real catchall. I've had it with pieces of rabbit, fish and other sausages. So throw in what you want.

This is one of Mac's favorite meals, I made it for him on his birthday and when he heard I was writing about it he asked if I'd fix one this week and I said yes, and I'll throw in anything in the fridge that looks good. The only things I always put in are the rice, green peas, saffron and chicken.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Fears


Several times on Facebook I have taken surveys that ask about fears, what I'm afraid of.  I've noticed that many people mention fear of flying, and while I'm not crazy about take-offs I'm not really afraid of flying.  Nor do I really fear snakes another commonly mentioned fear.  I don't like coming upon them unexpectedly but I have been known to handle them.  Spiders don't really scare me, they're just ugly.  No, what terrifies me, gives me shivers, makes me sick, causes me to break out in a cold sweat is . . . . SNAILS!  Yes it's true, I suffer from Molluscophobia, fear of snails.  
I have never touched one, I'm afraid what would happen if I did----faint, hurl, full-blown anxiety attack.
I know some people like them and some people, including my daughter, eat them, but I've gone out of my way to learn how to say snail in many languages so that I don't accidentally order them when dining in a foreign country.  German for snail is die Schnecke, caracol is Spanish, slak is Dutch, lumca is Italian and salyangoz is Turkish ( lived in Turkey and Germany so I had to be extra careful.
I remember one night at a German Gasthaus Mac said,"Don't look behind you!", which meant that of course I looked behind me.  And there was a German eating a plate of the biggest damn snails I had ever seen.  They were vineyard snails, also known as Roman snails and to say I was grossed out was an understatement.  It made me sick, the thought of all that slime!
  My daughter swears they taste like butter and garlic.  But I eat with my eyes and my eyes were seeing snails, not butter and garlic.
One time when we were camping in Southern Germany we were camped on a dairy farm and we had hordes of snails and slugs, it was so wet they thought they were in snail-heaven.  So I bought out the local commissary's supply of salt and laid a 6-inch wide trail of salt around our tent each night and I still had to thump them off the tent (I thumped from the inside) before I could get up each day.
When we moved to Southern California I was hopeful that we would not have as many snails as we had had in Augusta, GA, but alas, there were plenty of them even though we were living in a semi-desert community.  So when we decid
ed to move back to Georgia I prepared myself for the hordes of snails I knew would be living in my yard, for we had bought a house in a swampy area.  I knew they would just be sliding around all over the place, huge, ugly, slimey,  not doubt accompanied by their naked cousins,
 slugs.  I hated it, but I thought I could deal with it.
Imagine my surprise when I discovered that we
 have few snails here.  And the few we have more resemble tiny marine  gastropods, very unsnail like in appearance.  I work happily in my
 garden and never see them.  Saw one once on our garage door, but it was so tiny it was almost cute.  Did I really use the word cute in the same sentence where I was talking about snails?  The 2 pictures on the right are of our local snails, each being about 1/8 of an inch and Mac had to search for almost an hour to find them.
So who knows, Georgia snails might help me overcome my fear, except that I've just read that Southern Georgia needs to be on the lookout for African Snails, they've been found in Florida and the Sec. of Agriculture here in Georgi
a wants people to be on the lookout for them.  They cause serious damage to crops and can make people sick if they eat them.  And they infect plants if they slime across them.  Just want I needed a giant snail to invade my dreams.





Friday, July 24, 2009

Confederate Rose

Operating on Mac's theory that if I plant enough flowers in my garden they will eventually choke out the weeds, I've bought a bunch of plants lately. I've put in loads more Zinnias because they take care of themselves, even seeding themselves for next year, a pink Coneflower, a Florida Sunset plant, and a beautiful blue Plumbago. I had a couple of those (the Plumbagos) but I planted them in the shade and I've found out since they need full sun, so fingers crossed this time. One on the most spectacular plants we've bought is the Confederate Rose. It's known by a lot of other names, Cotton Rose for example, but I like its more Southern name. It's actually not a rose but a very hardy Hibsicus. It likes acidic soil so it ought to be happy here. They say if you plant it in the yard it is very invasive and that's alright with me. I like plants that take over. Right now we've got it in a big pot on the patio, but I plan on taking cuttings from it this fall and planting them in the yard. It likes full sun, but can still grow in partial shade. If it freezes (and it does do that here occasionally) they suggest that you cut it back to about 4 inches above the ground and it will grow out again.
Needs to be fertilized about 4 times a year w
hich is not too bad. And you can grow new ones from seeds or cuttings. It wasn't a cheap plant so I like the idea that I can grow new ones on my own.






Thursday, July 23, 2009

Romp in the Swamp or Love Hurts


Yesterday while I was fixing lunch Mac called me to look at something in the lagoon out back. At first we thought it was a pair of otters playing. A couple of weeks ago we had seen a pair running across the road near here and we thought this might be a pair of them.
But they were really big, rolling around in the water, splashing, totally unconcerned that people might be around. Then we thought it might be a pair of beavers, we have them in the lagoon from time to time too. Meanwhile Mac is running all around the house looking for our binoculars, we had taken them to Atlanta with us and we couldn't find the backpack we'd had them in. Finally he found an old pair out in the garage, and oh my God it was a pair of Snapping Turtles about 2 foot long each (head to tail) and a foot wide. We "think" they were mating or fighting or fighting while they were mating. It went on forever. Biting, rolling, water churning. Our little redneck sliders (our usual turtles) all hid out. There are 3 types of snapping turtles, alligator snappers, common snappers and Florida snappers.
The picture up above is from the Internet, below are the ones Mac took. I had no idea we had something that big in the lagoon! They say they can grow up to 2 feet and weigh more than 45 pounds and I'm betting these were nearly that big. They are very aggressive for turtles and I'd hate to meet one in the water.
I don't swim, or dip my toes in for that matter, in the lagoon and now I have a couple of more reasons not to.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Guitar Hero


We shipped Mac's Father's guitar back to his nephews Ben and Zac today. It's a long story.
Mac's Father Rafael had a dance band in the 1940's and 50's. He played Flamenco music on his acoustic guitar and dance music on the other. The other being a 1949 Gibson Electric/Acoustic, now deemed a classic.
All of Mac's brothers were taught an instrument as they were growing up: Jr. played drums, Ronnie trumpet, George bass guitar. Mac was given lessons on this guitar when he was way too young or big enough to play it. So he never really learned how to play it. When Mac's Dad died his brother George took the acoustic guitar and Mac took the Gibson.
About 8 years ago while Mac was talking to his brother Ron (who lived in Utah) his brother mentioned that his boys, Ben and Zac, liked to play anything with strings. Well, Ron had a watercolor that their Dad had painted of a cowboy (their Father was an artist as well as a musician-that's a painting Mac painted of his Dad) and the two of them decided to trade. So we shipped the guitar off to Utah.
Flash forward to a couple of years ago (after we had moved to Georgia) and I decided that instead of Mac saying he wished he'd learned to play guitar that I would get him one for our Anniversary.
So he has taught himself to play guitar, and about a year ago I wrote to my sister-in-law Jean (Ron's wife) and asked her a favor. I asked if Mac could borrow the guitar back for a couple of years because it would absolutely thrill him to now be able to play his Dad's guitar. She and the boys were kind enough to agree and we got the guitar about a year ago. It was still too big for him, but he played it, we taped him playing it and got a picture of it.
Now it was time to send it back to its owners, so we mailed it today, insured for about $5,000, though on the Net I saw it valued at $7,500 - $9,000. It has truly become a family heirloom in more ways than one.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Cows

A blog I read every day is by the author Robin McKinley who lives in England, though she is American, because she's married to a Brit. She owns a pair of dogs that she calls hellhounds for various reasons and each day she walks the dogs, mainly using public footpaths which give access to the countryside for everyone, even across private property. These paths have been around since medieval times. Today she wrote about why she sometimes walked on the illegal side of a path, that being when the path went through a field that could be dangerous to her or the dogs. One that might have a load of young male cows or a bull. In England the public footpaths are supposed to be kept clear of anything that can impede a walker. And that includes cows, electric fences, shoulder high thistles, bulls, etc. But often these rules are ignored. When she completed the illegal part of her walk she was confronted by a game warden and told she had to use the footpath or not walk on this piece of land any more. Because she, like me, had just read about a lady in Northern England who had been killed by a herd of cows while walking her dogs, she has decided that she will have to give this walk up. But she's not happy about it.
I totally understand her. When we're in England, and we use to go twice a year, and are planning a trip for next year, we like to take walks on the public footpaths. But I don't trust cows at all, they're devious and evil. Never mind that innocent looking bovine face. We've had more than our share of trouble with cows. A favorite trick of cows is to block the legal footpath so you have to leave it, you can't shift them, they just chew their cud and look at you like there's something wrong with you. We ended up in a cornfield one time (and if you've never walked through corn which cuts the heck out of you, you've never really known corn) because cows were standing in front of the sign that would have told us the correct way to go. Another time they blocked the only dry path on the moors and we ended up walking through bogs, and that's a scary thing to do on the moors. One time Mac was running (as he does each day) and he kept hearing the sound of thunder on the other side of a tall hedge. It turned out to be a herd of young cows who had decided that he was playing with them and they were enjoying it. Running as fast as they could and then coming to a full stop just at the end of the field. Still another time we walked through a field a cows who paid no attention to us at all, just ate their grass never looking our way (which is how we like it), but as started to open a gate to leave a field Mac looked over his shoulder and there were about 50 cows waiting to go with us. We climbed the gate instead. Once on Dartmoor we came upon a sign as we entered a field warning us that a bull might be in the field, but if he was with his cows we should be ok. Mac claimed the sign was old and there were no bulls but I refused to enter the field anyway. We've learned that carrying an umbrella can help a little, but for the most part I prefer to avoid fields with cows.
In the last 10 years, 8 people in Britain have been killed by cows. That doesn't surprise me at all.
We had a friend in California who owned a dairy farm and she said that everything I said about cows was true, they're evil and plotting all the time.
So if you see a field of cows beware.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Hot 'Lanta

Back from our trip to Atlanta. Had a great weekend. The drive up was easy, we made it in under 4 hours. The hotel I'd made reservations at turned out to be good (you never know), clean room, free WiFi in every room, free shuttle to the airport (where we could catch MARTA into town) and free breakfast every day.
We got 3 day Marta passes for $11 and rode everywhere on it.
The first morning we picked our daughter April up at the airport, got checked in, took MARTA to the High Art Museum where we had tickets. Nice museum, not New York City or Chicago, but nice. They were having a special exhibit of Monet's paintings of water lilies, the paintings were huge. We had a quick lunch at the Museum, April having a spinach salad and Mac and I sharing a chicken and brie sandwich. Topped off with a Birthday cupcake for April and a chocolate brownie for me.
From the museum we made our way to Turner Field to see the Braves play the Mets. It was a special evening because they we retiring Greg Maddux's number, he was a truly great Braves pitcher, earning 3 Cy Young Awards while playing there. It was hot till the sun went down, but we had great seats and really enjoyed the game, final score Braves 11 and the Mets 0.
I had brought a hat with me but forgot to bring it to the game and had to buy a "cheap" Braves hat. We laughingly say the most expensive meal we had was at the Braves game. Among other things I bought 2 dishes (plastic minature Brave's caps) with ice cream in them that cost $18.
Back at our hotel we tumbled into our beds too tired to even talk.
Saturday we went to the Georgia Aquarium. We walked down through Centennial Park to get there, nice walk, not too many people, and the weather was surprisingly cool with low humidity. It felt more like Spring than July. There were crowds at the Aquarium, but we had our tickets already and got in quickly. But it was so crowded inside at times it was hard to see. Loved the tanks over our heads with fish swimming. But we all agreed that our favorite exhibit was the Jelly Fish.
Also really enjoyed "petting" the shrimp.

After the Aquarium we ate lunch at the Durango Steak House. It was serious carnivore time. Steak sandwiches, prime rib sandwiches, meat, meat meat!
From there it was back on MARTA to the Art Center area in search of a movie theatre. We had kind of gotten directions and we were hopeful of finding one so we could see the new Harry Potter Movie. Off the train we just started walking and way off in the distance I spotted what looked like a movie theatre. Everyone laughed at me because of course I'm the blind member of the family. But as things turned out it was a theater over in Atlanta Junction a rather upscale shopping zone, just full of people. Theatre was nice, movie was good, but not great.
Had coffee and a slice of fruit pie/cake, at one of the cafes before heading back to our hotel. Turned out that MARTA runs a shuttle bus over to Atlanta Junction but we walked both ways. Made up for the eating.
Sunday morning we went to Five Points in Atlanta and walked at Underground Atlanta a shopping zone under the streets of modern Atlanta that has buildings from old Atlanta. We ate at an Irish Pub there and then it was time to get April to the airport.
We dropped her there around 2:30 and we headed home. Of course she was home before we were.
All in all a great trip. I'd like to see the Aquarium again, but with fewer people. Next time I'd like to see the Botanical Gardens and the Zoo.
If April doesn't get a Consular job and leave the country we're going to do her birthday in Chicago next year. If she gets a Consular job I guess we'll be doing it in whatever Godforsaken country they send her to.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Birthday


We're headed to Atlanta to meet our daughter April, she's flying in from Baltimore and we're driving up from here. It's her birthday tomorrow, won't tell you which one, and we're "doin' " Atlanta.
She's our only child and she is more than anyone could hope for.
I remember the morning she was born, she was so tiny, less than 5 pounds. She was born in Bad Kreuznach, Germany where Mac was stationed in the Army. I had wanted a little boy so I could have a little Mac, but we had April instead and I'm so glad. I always said that she was so wonderful that if we had another child I'd want another girl just like her.
She was so easy going as a child, taught herself to read at 3, thought her Dad could fix anything, and wrote wonderful stories featuring a pencil.
When other people complained about their kids all I could do was smile because I knew we had the very best.
I doubt she's perfect, though at times I think she is, but there isn't a thing I'd change about her.
I wish she lived closer, her being on the East Coast is one of the reasons we moved back to Georgia.
She's in the process of trying to get a job with the U.S. Consular Service and I'm torn about it. I'd like her to get a job she really wants, but I'm afraid she'll be sent some place where we'll never be able to see her.
So Happy Birthday April, you're one very special daughter.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Baseball

Mac and I are both huge fans of baseball. We subscribe to MLB Extra Innings and watch a dozen games a week. When we travel in the States we always try to take in a game. We've seen the Cubbies play in Chicago, the Yankees in the old stadium, the Orioles at Camden Yard, the San Diego Padres in their old stadium, likewise the Oakland A's and the San Francisco Giants, as well as the Anaheim Angels. We use to drive to Atlanta to see the Braves when we lived in Augusta, Georgia. We've even gone down to Florida to catch the Braves during Spring Training. My point is we REALLY like baseball.
The problem we're having is with baseball announcers and color men. They use to call the games, explaining what's going on, point out things you might have missed. But those days are gone. Now the announcers think they're the game, they're what's important. They go on and on and just ignore the game.
Atlanta use to have great announcers when Skip Carey and Don Sutton were there. Now they have Joe Simpson, who isn't bad and Boog (somebody) who is horrible! We frequently turn the sound off
The same thing has happened to the All Star Game. It use to be a fun game, you'd see players you didn't normally get to see, they'd bring in some of the oldsters. It was great. Not any more, there is so much talking the game is totally irrelevant. We watched last night, sort of. Mac had gone out of the room at one point and came back to ask what was going on, I said,"Who knows?", and really who cares.
Same thing with the Home Run Derby. A few years ago when Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire were in it we loved watching. Now you've got 3 rounds, your own pitcher, 10 outs, 92 announcers talking to whatever player they've decided is "hot" and women talking to players as if they had a clue as to what the hell they're talking about.
They say that baseball is losing popularity because it's too slow. That's not true, it's not slow, it's just that the announcer make it feel slow.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Local Flora and Fauna

Saw an interesting picture today. It seems an 11 foot (Yes!I said 11 foot) alligator that swam up the Cape Fear River and ended up in a drainage channel in a parking lot on Wilmington Island ( that's over in Savannah). The man they called to remove it said that it was the biggest alligator he'd seen and as for age he thought it might be as old as he was, which was 73. They were removing the alligator to another river about 50 miles away. They said that if they didn't move it a fair distance it would just end up back in the drainage channel.
When we first moved to Georgia we thought we'd have to go to the Okefenokee Swamp in order to see alligators. As it turned out all we had to do was go out in our backyard. The first year we were here there was a small one swimming in the lagoon, it was really exciting, we fed him along with the turtles. That was until he tried to kill one of the turtles, and we found out that it was against both state and federal law to feed alligators ( it makes the alligators think they can get food from anyone and that makes them more aggressive towards humans).
So we don't feed alligators any more, and in fact we called to have the 7 footer who moved in a couple of years ago removed. Trapper Jack came, baited up a hook with a deer lung (so it would float) and they pulled him in about midnight, trussed him up and carried him off.
This summer another small alligator has moved in and cruises the lagoon, one day he decided to sunbathe in our backyard! Not a good idea. So now you know why I garden, I like flora, not the fauna down here.


Monday, July 13, 2009

Ima Needs



It's Monday and I'm having an Ima Needs kind of day so here goes:

Ima Needs whoever the h*ll is in charge of humidity to take a break. The weather has been gorgeous and today I about had a stoke in the garden.

Ima Needs the weeds in her garden to die!
I don't mind weeding, it's nice mindless work, but all the rain we've had has caused a weed riot.

Ima Needs the Green Revolution to shut up for awhile.
I'm "aware" of my carbon footprint (which is a h*ll of a lot smaller than Al Gore's), and I do my bit by buying locally and driving a small car, but if those driving SUVs and Hummers think I'm going to live "greener" (give up my car and house air conditioning for example) so they won't have to deal with global warming they're nuts.

Ima Needs her cat to quit going around acting like a martyr just because I won't run the air conditioning 24/7.
It's not my fault she chooses to wear a fur coat in the summer, I've offered her a fan.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Gardening


One of the things I've always enjoyed is gardening, and now that I've retired I have loads of time for it. The only thing that slows me down is the heat, and this week the rain. I've gotten several books on gardening in the coastal South and slowly but surely I'm learning what will grow and what wouldn't.
Plants that will grow, but not bloom include most iris's, lilacs ,and tulips (they'll bloom once and then need to join the compost heap). I have a lilac because I love them, but it has bloomed only once in the 3 years I've had it. They say it's the fact that it doesn't cool off here at night (we frequently have overnight lows in the upper 70's) that stop them from blooming. I have also tried tulips, which I love and iris's. They say the tulips won't rebloom because our winter is too warm (I'd like to talk to THEM about the January and February we had this year), and as for the iris's it's a matter of our climate being too wet and drainage. Though I've finally learned about Louisiana iris's that are more of a bog plant and I'm planting them this year.
It is my dream to have a cutting garden full of flowers in each season that I can cut and fill my house with flowers. I've always grown Zinnias, they're and annual, but they're so good at seeding themselves that you only have to plant them once and they take care of the rest. Today I added 4 more Zinnias, I keep hoping to find dwarf ones, but no luck so far.
On the patio I have a Hibiscus. Everyone thinks they're delicate, but they're really hardy. The one I have there grows 2 different colored flowers, light orange and dark orange. Plus Zinnias have seeded themselves between the bricks. Along the back wall is our Wisteria, it blooms early and then flowers a little more in summer, it is so pretty. It spreads like crazy, we've had to rescue some of out roses from it.
When we came from California we didn't think we could grow citrus trees here, but have discovered they do fine, so we have a lemon. This Fall we're planning on putting in a couple of olives, something else we've missed.
One of my beds is strickly for veggies and herbs. I grow Rosemary, basil, oregano, thyme, and sage. Usually I get good Bell Peppers from this bed, but we've had too much rain at the wrong times this year and my peppers have struggled. The Strawberries have done well though.
Along the side of the garden we put up lattice work and planted HoneySuckle. In no time it was covered! Everything grows so quickly here, particularly the weeds!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Painting









I started painting back in the 90's. In the beginning I did water colors, actually took a class. It didn't really teach me how to paint, but it did teach me how to paint without using all of my paints up. I'd been water coloring as if I were oil painting! I did loads of paintings in England, manor houses, castles, ruins . It's fun to paint "on location" and that's much easier to do with water colors than oils.
Then a few years ago Mac convinced me to try oil painting. I really enjoy it, though my style is very different than his. He loves painting large paintings, the larger the better, while I like doing small paintings. He's very economical with his paints and I throw mine on knee deep.
He can pretty much paint anything, including people. I do better with landscapes and ocean scenes. Though I have done one portrait. While at the National Gallery in DC I commented to my daughter that she looked very much like a small Rembrandt painting. When I got home I did a copy of the painting (with some help from Mac) and it does looks like her.
Today I tried to finish up a couple of my paintings. The Lighthouse at Tybee Island and the Altamaha River at Darien.





And Mac has finished repainting a dog he's been working on for a client. If you read an earlier blog I wrote about the dog and his ruff, and how the ruff wasn't right, but was what the client had asked for, but then changed his mind and wanted the ruff changed. Well today the painting is being picked up. And glory be ... he liked the changes and paid Mac extra.

I've also done a number of drawings. We'll probably be going to England next year and I hope to do more.