Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Through a Golden Haze


Yesterday afternoon found me in the family room  stretched out on the couch with a book in my hand, not an unusual position for me, when I looked across the room and saw what looked liked a layer of dust covering the floor.  This didn't surprise me too much because Senor Swiffer and I only meet up about once a week and frequently the dusty floors get ahead of me.  But as I looked closer I realized it wasn't dust, but rather pollen that had blown in through the open window.  The floor was covered as was the tv, several stuffed bears and everything else about window height.  So I cleaned the window, the window sill, the blinds, the floor, the tv, and everything else that appeared to be golden instead of their regular color.
Watching the news last night an Allergist was talking about allergy season, we hit more than
 5,000 parts  per cubic meter yesterday, and he said that all the "gold" we're seeing is from the pine trees, but that's not the pollen that's driving us crazy for its pollen grains are much too big, but rather it's the oak trees that are the problem.  
Regardless of what's causing it, my house is covered in golden dust and my sinus's are full of something!
These pictures were taken out in our yard, the first, at the top,  is an oak tree looking very innocent, the next, in the middle, is a pine tree also looking innocent, and the last is what the pine tree is really up to.





Tuesday, March 30, 2010

I'm Mad as Hell


I'm so mad I could spit!  I received a bill  from my propane gas company  today, they're billing me $49.96 because I have not used enough propane!  So I'm being billed for conserving  natural resources .  We have an all electric house so we've learned to be careful with our utilities.  The propane is strictly for 2 of our fireplaces and the stove I cook on.  So we don't use a lot of it, we fill our tank about twice a year.  But that's not good enough for Ferrell Gas, they want more or I have to pay them for not consuming enough.  
We've been their customer since 2003 and for various and assorted reasons have hated them the whole time, check the web for I Hate Ferrell Gas sites to get and idea of what they do, but we went with them originally because they were the only ones who could get a gas tank out to us in less than a month.  We've regretted the decision ever since.  But this takes the cake.  According to the gentleman I spoke to today they changed their policy on tank rental and delivery in 2005 and sent copies of it out to us at least 2 times, and because we haven't received a copy they're now going to mail me one, and he told me I could read it at their website, which I did, and I'm absolutely sure I never agreed to these terms.  So we're looking for a new propane company, but first we have to use up what's left in our tank.
I HATE FERRELL GAS!

Monday, March 29, 2010

My Own Rembrandt


My husband Mac is an amazing artist.  Earlier this year he painted a new picture to go over the fireplace in our familyroom.  He had seen a photo of a well in a magazine we get, called Gun and Garden no less---horrible title, wonderful magazine, and decided he'd like the challenge of painting it, he added the fairies and made it magical.  But when he put  it over the fireplace it looked lonely, something about the scale of it wasn't right, and as I lay stretched out on the couch studying it I told him that what it needed was 2 small thin paintings, one for each side.  So that's what he did, he painted an old rusty water pump for one side and an old water can for the other.  Altogether they look fantastic.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Way Late




The Yellow Carolina Jasmine is usually the first thing to flower in our yard;most years starting in January.  But not this year, it is at least 2 months behind.  It grows wild here on anything that stands still for more than a minute.  We didn't know that when we first moved here so we  went to  a nursery and bought plants to go around the pool and mailbox.  Then we found it growing everywhere.
We also have Confederate or Star Jasmine as it is also known,  but it doesn't bloom until later in the year.  The Azaleas are just starting to open and will be spectacular in about a week.  Most of our bushes are very small, but we have 2 large ones a neighbor gave us.











Friday, March 26, 2010

The Closet From Hell


All my closets are bad, no matter how many times I clean them out and haul loads to Goodwill, they always look like they've been ransacked by disgruntled burglers.  But the closet in the computer room is the worst!  Opening it imperils your life and reminds me of the old-time radio show (though I am too young to have listened to it live, I have heard repeats of it) Fibber McGee and Molly.  Fibber had a closet that was a running joke, dumping its contents onto all and sundry, including a burgler looking for the family silver.
Well my closet is about that bad, and I worry each time I open the doors, and even worse when the cat runs in it.  I'm sure that catastrophe will ensue. 
So for the last 2 days I've been cleaning the closet out, filling tubs to be hauled upstairs by my long suffering and stored in the upstairs storage area where he is sure it will all melt this summer.
I sorted papers to be burned, thrown in trash, put in tubs for storage and some to sort through in my scrapbook area.  
To finish the room off I cleaned my desk too, now I'm waiting for Mac to finish taxes so I can clean his half of the room.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Pretty in Pink






My Purple Diamond Loropetalum was so pretty I went out and bought 2 more for my front yard.  I have it in a pot but it's getting so big that we may need to put it out in the yard somewhere.
Still very busy weeding out the flower beds, finding tiny gladiolas coming up.
Mac's veggie garden is doing very well, we'll soon be eating Sugar Snap Peas and Fava Beans (also known as English Broad Beans).  I've cut some butter lettuce for salads for lunch today, love eating things from our own garden.
We're off to Home Depot tomorrow to do some serious plant shopping, I need at least one more climbing rose.
Our tulip tree has just started opening up and the wisteria is covered with blossoms just waiting to pop open.





Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Zombie


Like something out of a zombie movie, think "Let the Right One In" I have been wandering about in a medically induced fog for several days now.  My allergies hit full force this weekend and I had the first real earache I've had since I was a child.  So I was forced to take some medication that I hate, and quite possibly hates me, but it dries up my sinus's, stops the flow of noxious material through my eustachian tubes, stops my eyes from burning and keeps my head from trying to explode.  But the trade off is that I feel foggy and disconnected, Mac says it makes me very argumentative too, but I wouldn't know about that, it all seems so far away.
But today seems a bit better, nonenjoyable household tasks will be dealt with, e.g.  laundry, and then my garden awaits me for the have promised weather in the high 70's today.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Rest of the Story







We spent a day at John Pennekamp Coral Reef Park in Key Largo, that's where we took the glass bottom boat out to the reef.  The reef is part of the state park.  Though it was a rainy day we had great viewing, the park people said it was the best viewing they'd had in 3 weeks because there was no wind and the rain didn't effect the viewing.Mac fished at the park and I did a pen and ink drawing of the beach.  We also did two walks, one along a mangrove trail and the other through a Tamarind hillock. 



We enjoyed the drive from Fort Lauderdale, where we landed, to Key Largo although we didn't cross any really long bridges.
We  hope to go back we want to snorkle the reef and take an air  boat tour of the Everglades.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Key Largo






We're back from our trip to Key Largo and we had a wonderful time, even though it wasn't as warm as we had hoped, with temperatures in the high 60's and low 70's which is about what's it's been here.    This is the place we stayed at Tarpon Flats Inn and Marina.  It's a small 4 room B & B which was just perfect.Our suite was on the top floor on the right and the view from there was spectacular.
This was the view from our deck, they had a small pool, but I'm strictly a hot weather swimmer and it wasn't nearly hot enough to swim.

At the back of the property there was a sandy beach with
 chairs, a hammock and room to chill out.  Mac would sit and play his guitar and I did a water color painting, the palm tree turned out fine, but I really have problems doing pine trees, and what in the world was a pine tree doing there anyway. a dolphin popped up, not ten feet from us, to see what we were doing



































The first day we were there we went deep sea fishing on the boat to the left.  It was a five hour trip.  The fishing wasn't vevery good but we had a good time anyway.  We each caught one small fish not nearly as big as what we can catch in our backyard.  The wa
ter was beautiful though, you could see 30 or 40 feet down. 
Pelicans huddle up in the harbor waiting for leftovers to be thrown to them, we even had one ride the railing the last mile or two back to the dock.












The second day we took a glass bottom boat out to the coral reef and even though we had a slow rain most of the day the guide said it was the best viewing they'd had in 3 weeks because there was no wind and that makes for better viewing and it was cle
ar.  Saw angel fish, parrot fish, barracuda, stingray, and dozens I can't remember the name of.



Mac's Fish



















This is like the Glass bottom boat we went on and just behind it the African Queen, somebody bought it from the movie studio (Humphey Bogart and Katherine Hepburn) and had it brought in.










                       The drive across the water to the Keys.









































Monday, March 15, 2010

Forida Keys



We're off to the Florida Keys tomorrow, can't wait.  I've had four places on my "Bucket List" for a while now and the Florida Keys is  one of them, the others being the Orkney Islands in Scotland, Petra in  Jordan and Ankor Wat in  Cambodia.
 You'd think living so close to Florida we'd have gone down there by now, after all we've been in  Georgia almost 7 years.  The one time we went to Florida we were going to Spring Training  for the Braves in Orlando and then from there we were driving on down to  to the Keys.  Unfortunately  I got sick in Orlando and we cancelled out reservations for the Keys and came home instead.
For our trip this time we're flying down to Ft.Lauderdale and then driving down to the Keys from there, a much shorter drive than driving all the way down Florida, that's about 400 miles.  We're  staying at a place called Tarpon Flats Marina on Key Largo.  We picked   Key Largo for a number of reasons, it's not as overgrown as Key West, it was a great Humphey Bogart movie and an ok Beach Boy song, and  we  just like the sound of it.
Tarpon Flats is  a small B & B at a marina, it only has 4 rooms and to me that sounds ideal. Hopefully, which means weather permitting, we're going deep sea fishing, then  out on a glass bottom boat for sightseeing and the last day a  drive down through the Keys.  This is sort of a reconnaissance visit, if we like it we'll go back for a longer stay next time. 

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Garden Surprise



Mac made a surprise for my garden.  He made me two bee skeps to sit in the corner of the new bed he is putting in for me. Skeps are what were used for bee hives before  hives you could open were developed.  To get honey out of a skep you had to break it.  Originally skeps were made of braided straw or wheat, Mac made mine with rope.  I've always liked skeps, I love their shape and texture.  Of course I don't want any bees other than the tiny ones he made and attached to the skeps to move in.  It's not that I dislike bees,  I don't, in fact I love Bumble Bees who I consider the hardest working bees in the world,  but unfortunately last year I was stung by a wasp and had quite an allergic reaction, something I'd never had before, ended up going to an emergency clinic and now have to carry an Epi Pen everywhere I go.  I really appreciate the work our bees do and try to attract them to my garden.  So I share my garden with the bees, who are in fact loving my Camellia tree right now, but I'm rather cautious around them .

Friday, March 12, 2010

Lighthouse


Much too wet and muddy to garden today, we had more than 2 inches of rain yesterday and more is forecast for tonight.  So I thought I'd show the watercolor I did of the lighthouse at Harbor Cove.  There were palm trees around it, but mostly there were cars and buildings, so I decided on a little artistic license.  Next I hope to paint the lighthouse on Sapelo Island, that's one of Georgias' barrier islands, but you can only go there on a tour and I don't know if they would give me time to paint.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Dark Side of Gardening

I love gardening, I blog about it all the time, but there is a dark side to gardening for me.  I suffer from seasonal allergies, particularly in November and March.  Today the pollen count, even with rain, will be 648 p/m(3), that's parts per cubic meter, high, but not as high as it's going to get here.  Last year we had days where the pollen count was over 4,000 parts per cubic meter.  
After a day in the garden I'm coughing and sneezing because of allergic rhinitus  and my eyes are itching because even better, I have allergic conjuctivitus.  I do use prescription eye drops for the conjuctivitus, but I try to avoid taking anything for the allergic rhinitus because the 2 things my Doctor will let me take (I have high blood pressure) are Benedryl and Allegra.  Benedryl makes me spacey and mean-tempered and Allegra dries me out so badly that I usually end up with laryngitus   because of dried out vocal chords and I run around writing notes on napkins to communicate.
There are ways to help your allergies, take shots----not going to happen---, stay indoors, particularly in the morning when the pollen is the worse, close your windows, take a vacation when the pollen is the worst (we are, but we're going to Florida and I suspect the pollen won't be any better there) and stay out of you garden.  All of these things are unlikely to happen.
Right now it's pine tree pollen that's the worst and we have all kinds of pine trees in our yard.  I can't avoid them, not going to stay inside and I'm not taking medication, so I'll sniffle my way through March and hope that the pollen in April won't be one I react to.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Definitely a Gardening Day

Beautiful spring day, clouds building up though,  for rain is coming tonight and tomorrow, but for today temperatures in the 70's and just right for gardening.  I've been cleaning out the shady garden bed outside the garden proper.  The first couple of years we were here all I tried to  did was keep the weeds down, but about 4 years ago I decided that although it was in the shade all the time that I would find some plants that would grow there, and it has become one of my favorite beds.
I began by putting in Asperagus Ferns thinking I'd probably have to replant them each year, but they have been a wonder.  They're not truly a fern and originally from South Africa,  in some locations it's  been declared a weed, but I love them.  Delicate and lacy they've come through each winter, though this year they definitely got burned by the frost and I had to do some judicious pruning.
Each year I plant Coleus, Dusty Millers and Jacob's Coats in the bed. This year I'll add some begonias.   When the winter is mild, as it should be, they all come back.  This year I fear none of them will be back and I'll need to replant, time will tell.  There's also a Honeysuckle in this bed, but it hangs over the  garden fence and mainly blooms on the other side.  I've got Gladiola bulbs along the sunnier ends and put Pansies there in the winter.  The Mimosa tree overhangs this bed and though it blocks most of the sun its flowers are so pretty that I forgive it.  It is the last tree to leafout in the spring  and the last to lose its leaves in the fall.
The bed around the corner is my main rose bed and I started cleaning it today.  Last year at this time the Wisteria along the top of the fence had already started blooming, but not this year.

Mac is putting in a new raised bed in the garden proper.  Right now there are Day Lilies, Ginger Lilies and Freesias there.  Hopefully   it won't be so damp there now and I'll try some other plants in there.


In the small bed next to the driveway my Daffodils and Hyacinths have started blooming, finally!




It feels so good to have my fingers in the soil again!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Hilton Head Island










We spent the day in Hilton Head South Carolina yesterday.  Hilton Head is one of South Carolina's coastal islands, and definitely the most developed.  Getting there you travel highway 278 which  crosses the Intercoastal Waterway and then over Pinkney Island, the site of a National Wildlife Refuge and then onto Hilton Head itself.   It's a beautiful entry to the the island but it's so built up.  Though they make business's mute their signs all you see as you drive across the island is one strip mall after another.  We drove the length of the island to Sea Island Resort.  There are a number of beaches on Hilton Head, but I'd been wanting to paint the lighthouse, on paper only, at Harbor Town so that's where we went.  The weather was perfect, even warmer than it had been forecast, well up in the 70's, so it was hot sitting in the sand painting.
The harbor area was full up people,
 mainly old, rich Yankees enjoying our Southern winter.  Most of the cars in the 
parking lots were from up north or Canada, and nearly all
of the yachts in the harbor were New England based, and those yachts were big and expensive
 looking.
Sea Pines Resort is an amazing looking place and driving through it we could see why people would make it a vacation destination.  Stopping by one pond we saw a bald eagle perched on top of a tree, in my picture he looks tiny, but in person he was huge, you could easily see his white head even as far away as we were.
  Basking on the side of the pond were a group of Anhingas, through with fishing for the day I guess.



After finishing my  painting we drove back to the other side of the island to have lunch at The Crazy Crab, a restaurant we'd discovered years ago and enjoyed a tasty lunch overlooking the water.  Mac had a broiled fish plate with scallops, fish and shrimp, while I had a 1/2 pound of
 of steamed shrimp.  It is so nice living in an area where fresh shrimp are caught locally 
and not trucked in from across the country.
All in all a nice day, but Mac and I both agree that we prefer Tybee Island
 here in Georgia to Hilton Head.  Tybee is more laid back and definitely less developed.  At Hilton Head it almost feels like you need to dress up to go to the beach, Tybee is a come as you are place.  Still, I'm pleased with my painting and glad we went.