Wednesday, June 30, 2010

What Do You Mean My Money is Worthless?

I was reading YAHOO UK today and almost had a heart attack!  According to the Telegraph today June 30 was the last day to trade in your old 20 pound note, the ones with the picture of composer Edward Elgar on them, that after today the stores would  no longer  accept them.  Nor would  banks have to exchange them for new notes.  That from now on the only 20 pound notes that would be accepted were those bearing the likeness of Scotish economist Adam Smith.  The only place you could  exchange the old notes  after today would be  at the Bank of England.
When did this happen, when was this decided, why didn't I know sooner?   Though I'm an American I read the British papers online every day and up until today I'd never read about this.  I yelled at my computer, cursed the British banking system and threw a fit.  How in the world could I exchange bank notes at the Bank of England when I'm sitting in the USA?
Why would I panic like this you say, why would I be worried about old British 20 pound notes, well let me tell you.  Later this year we're going to England on vacation and while the pound was down against the dollar we decided to buy a bunch up because the last time we were there is was $2.04 to buy a pound and this spring it was $1.45, a big difference.  So we bought our pounds through our bank and put them in our safety deposit box, never occurred to us to see whose picture was on them.  It's usually some middle-aged lady wearing a crown.
But  after reading the article we stopped by the bank, opened our box and to our great pleasure we found Adam Smith on our bank notes, we were very happy.   Though his name  doesn't sound Scotish we were glad to silhouette on the backside .

Monday, June 28, 2010

Cruising Down the Road

Well we were cruising down the road Friday night, heading out to go dancing.  We were flying along at 55 when the car died, just died, no snap, crackle, pop, nothing, it just died.   Luckily we weren't on the freeway yet so we were able to coast over to the side of the road.  Mac popped the hood, tried to start it up and though it tried, it wouldn't  catch, just kept turning over.
We don't always remember to throw the cell phone in the car, we don't carry it every where, hate the the damn thing, but just as we had walked out the door Mac had asked if I had it and I'd grabbed it and put it in the glove compartment.  So he called our insurance people who provide roadside service for us and after being put on hold, listening to bad music, listening to some guy who mumbled about, he finally got to talk to a human who said they'd order a tow-truck for us, but that the nearest one was 60 miles away and that it would be at least an hour.  Now I'll grant you we live out in the sticks, but not that far, we're only about 12 miles from Savannah and I couldn't believe there was no tow-truck closer, but at least someone was coming.
In the meantime a young couple in a pick-up truck stopped  to see if we needed help and gave Mac a ride back to our house to pick up our other car.  In time the tow-truck showed up, he quickly loaded our little Miata up and we had him take it to our local mechanic, they were closed of course but we wrote them a note, wrapped it around the key and dropped it in their nightbox.
Saturday we went back signed a work order and hoped they'd find something cheap wrong with it.  Today they called and said there was a short in the electrical system that led to the fuel system.  No estimate yet, hopefully it'll be done by tomorrow and we'll have our car back so that this Friday night we can again cruise on down the road.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Poltergeist?

Even though our house is relatively new I think it has a poltergeist.  When we first moved in we kept hearing strange sounds from upstairs, and because there are only 2 of us we knew no one was up there.  We'd go and look and of course there was no one there.  Then after awhile when we'd hear a crash from upstairs we'd go and find a shelf down or some of my antique cups on the ground, it got really spooky.
Now a poltergeist, from the German poltern for knock or rumble and geist for spirit, is thought to be a manifestation of a mischievous or sometimes malevolent spirit sometimes connected with a child or adolescent.  Well there are no children living here but there use to be 3 teenagers, 2 of whom had there rooms upstairs.
After a while the sounds and the damage stopped .  Then last week we began finding the door to the attic open and neither of us had been near it, and then a couple of days ago a shelf came down in the pub and stuff was thrown on the floor, luckily it was pewter mugs and not china ones.  I'm getting nervous.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Changelings

My project for the day was to go out and take some pictures of the great variety of Swallowtails that are out and about this time of year, and do a blog. However somebody tipped off the butterflies, for I couldn't find any, or perhaps like the French World Cup team, they just didn't feel in the mood to be out this morning! Anyway I did find some interesting Dragonflies, again very common this time of year due to the lagoon in back. I tried to look up their names in a reference book, but soon became completely confused....they all seem alike.



 I did learn one thing I didn't know, dragonflies can change color as they mature. I always thought that once they emerged from the water and took flight, whatever color they were, well that's what they were. Not so, many males  emerge the color of females and as they approach breeding age, change color. So I may see a brown one today and see the same one weeks later, but this time he will be blue! Most of the dragonflies in this blog are Skimmers, except the green one, which is a female Eastern Pondhawk. I am rather fond of our dragon flies, they are the one thing deerfly shy away from, many times I've had a dragonfly pick off a deerfly inches from my face !

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Wild Kingdom

Our daily walk has turned into a bit of Wild Kingdom or Animal Planet.  A couple of weeks ago it was a pair of alligators, Monday it was snakes "frolicing" in the yard, yesterday it was a pair of armadillos and then today it was a deer.
The Nine-Banded Armadillos are a transplant, first sighted in Texas in 1849 it has spread to 8 other states, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Alabama, Mississippi,  Louisiana, Florida and Georgia.  Armadillo means "Little Armored one" in Spanish.  They are so prehistoric looking,  The ones we saw were rooting around in the a treed area.  I've read that they can jump straight up but I've never seen one do it.

The deer we saw today was a White-tailed Deer, it was eating plants in someone's yard down near the lagoon.  Though usually nocturnal we have seen them occasionally in the day time, including a fawn in our backyard one morning.   We have to spray our garden and Hostas to keep the deer from eating them.
We live in an area full of animals and we love it.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Knot in My Backyard!

Yesterday afternoon Mac yelled for me to "Come see",  as he frequently does.  He was in the familyroom and handed me a pair of binoculars and what to my wandering eyes should appear (sorry Clement Moore) but a pair of black snakes behaving most inappropriately in my backyard.  Talk about kinky sex, they were twisted up in knots and still slithering about, I may have nightmares for months.  I'm not particularly afraid of snakes but I don't need visions of them mating running through my dreams.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

New Painting

Mac has finished a new painting and we've hung it over the piano.  It was inspired by a picture we took out at Fort Pulaski a month or two ago.  We were walking through a small maritime forest when I stopped Mac and pointed the area out to Mac and said,"  Wouldn't that make a great painting?", so we took a picture and he painted it, adding a few critters along the way.  I think it's pretty wonderful.

Monday, June 21, 2010

I'm Not Crabby, I'm a Marsh Crab

While on a our morning walk the other day we ran into this little guy, he's a marsh crab and just too cute.
They live out in the marshes behind our subdivision and sometimes wander in, unfortunately many of them get run over.  So Mac always rescues them and puts them on the right track.  These little guys are found from Maryland to Florida and all along the Gulf Coast (or they were) and frequently wander away from the salt marshes.  Always get a kick out of seeing one.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Father's Day

When I asked Mac what he wanted to eat on Father's Day he didn't hesitate a second, he wanted shrimp.
We're very lucky living where we do, fresh Georgia shrimp is available year round, in fact sometimes we go shrimping ourselves about 5 minutes from the house.  Though we never catch a lot and they're not very big,  they're fun to catch.  We usually get them when we're crabbing, the local blue crabs are easy to catch and taste wonderful.
But  for today's dinner we stopped at a local seafood shop and bought a pound and a half of fresh shrimp.  To cook them I simply heated up some olive oil, threw in some chopped garlic and the shrimp, then sauted them until the shrimp turned pink.  I served them with a green bean and tomato salad made with veggies from our garden.  Mac said it tasted even better than it looked and smelled.   And it did.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Husband

First Grandfathers, then Fathers and now best of all my Husband!  Mac and I have been married 44 years, 45 in September and through all those years he has been my best friend and lover.  Every day I realize how lucky I am to be his wife.
Mac was born in Hayward, California in 1945, the 3rd son of Pazquela and Rafael, he was the first to be born in a hospital.  He had 3 brothers, Ralph, Ron and George.  His Mother always told me he was the sweetest of them all, helping her in many ways, checking on her when she was ill and being so easy going.
I met him when I was 16 and he was 17 and knew right away he was the one for me.  We have shared so much through the years.  He was drafted into the Army 2 months after we married and decided to make it his career and spent 21 years it the service.  We moved many times, and frequently lived in places we didn't want to be, but it didn't matter because we were together and wherever we were was home.  After he retired from the military I convinced him to become a teacher, that's what I was, and even though it gave him an ulcer he forgave me.  We're both retired now and loving it.
Through the years he's taught me many things, how to appreciate nature, how to paint, how to be a better person.  I think we bring out the best in each other.
So this Father's Day and every Father's Day I tell everyone I have the best Husband in the world, I really do.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Fathers

Yesterday I blogged about Grandfathers, today I want to talk about mine and Mac's Fathers.
Mac's Father, Rafael Hidalgo Gutierrez was born in or near Huelva, Spain in 1907.  He emigrated with his family in 1913 to the Hawaiian Islands where he grew up cutting sugar cane, picking pineapples organizing work crews and trying to keep his father Manuel out of trouble.
The family moved to California in 1928 traveling under his mother's maiden name,  no telling why.  He at first worked with the family picking crops and then became the first in his family to get an indoor job at a stove factory.  Along the way he had learned to play flamenco guitar and formed his own band, they played all over California in the 30's, 40's and 50's.  He and my mother-in-law Pazquela married in 1932 and they had 4 sons.
In addition to playing guitar Rafael was an artist painting primarily in oils, one of his paintings hangs in Centennial Hall in Hayward, California. In addition to painting and playing guitar he created numerous animals and statues out of plaster of paris, their basement had a life-sized tiger and alligator in it!  Written up in the local paper numerous times Rafael was  a  man of many talents, he died in 1983.
My Father James Edward Strader was not as artistically talented as Rafael, but he was a man who grabbed life with both hands and enjoyed everything.  He was born in Monnett, Missouri in 1922  he grew up with his older brother Virge and 4 younger brothers and sisters.  He told me that when he was a child he and his cousin wanted to run off and be cowboys, and in fact he retained a life-long interest in the old west.  When we traveled when I was a child we visited most of the old ghost towns, Virginia City, Nevada, Tombstone, Arizona, Dodge City, Kansas and many old Army forts.  He always claimed we were distantly related to General George Custer of Little Bighorn fame.  About the only connection I've found there is that both families came from Virginia.
My parents met in the shipyards in California  during World War II and were married in 1944.  After the war the family moved to Missouri, then Oklahoma and finally  back to California.  He started college when we first went back to California because he wanted to attend the Southern Baptist Seminary and become a minister.  That didn't work out which is too bad, he'd have been a good one.
Along the way my Father was a bread man, truck driver, real estate agent and finally convinience store owner.  In his 40's he took up the trumpet, which was typical of him, he was always wanting to learn something new.   He always had a big smile, he never met a stranger; we always joked that when he'd go into a gas station to pay that we wouldn't see him for a while because he'd find someone to talk to!  He loved fishing and hunting, traveling and gambling.  He died in 2003 and I miss him still.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Grandfathers

As we move towards Father's Day I thought I'd do a couple of posts about Fathers and Grandfathers.
I  have a Grandfather  I  didn't know very well and in Mac's case he had Grandfather he  didn't know  at all.
Mac's paternal Grandfather was Manuel Gutierrez and he was born in southern Spain about 1887.  We have no pictures of him and I think he liked it that way.  He and his wife Asuncion Hidalgo emigrated from Spain in about 1913.  The family arrived in the Hawaiian Islands and they lived on all of them at one time or another cutting sugar cane, picking pineapples and in Manuel's case eventually wearing out his welcome.  He was pure Gypsy, short, round, strong as a bull and the life of every party,  everyone called him Viviano which means the lively one.  He played flamenco guitar and was a flamenco dancer.  Mac's Uncle George says the first time he ever saw him he was dancing on a bar top in San Francisco.  In the 1920's the family had moved on to California, and there the family stayed, except for Manuel who got the family situated, and then he returned to Spain never to be heard from again.  Mac never met him.
The Grandfather I know the least about is my paternal Grandfather Virgil Martin Strader.  The picture at the top is of him and his sister Laura.  Through ancestry.com I have traced his family back to Rotterdam where they emigrated from in the 1700's.  He was born in Missouri in 1896 and married my Grandmother Lola Marie Dawson about 1919.  The 1930 census lists his occupation as farmer. They moved to California sometime in the 1930's by which time they'd had 6 kids.  He and my Grandmother separated after what my Father described as a rocky marriage  and I met him in the 1950's when my family moved back to California.  He was already ill  with Parkinson's Disease and slowly slipped into senile dementia.  My only memory of him was of his twinkling blue eyes, and I think I'm the only one in the family who inherited them.   He died in 1969.
Mac's maternal Grandfather was Sebastian Gomez Hernandez who was born in Macotera, Spain (near Salamanca) in 1878. Typical of the Visigothic Spaniards of northwestern Spain Sebastian was red-headed with blue eyes.
He too emigrated from Spain, with his wife Maria Antonia in the early 1900's, going first to the Hawaiian Islands where they stayed only long enough to pay off their passage because Maria Antonia did no approve of all the half-naked Hawaiian women running around.  So they went  to California where their 5 children were born. He and the whole family worked picking crops in California and then he worked for the Caterpillar tractor company in Oakland. They bought a home of their own in Hayward where their children grew up.  Mac's Mom described him as a hardworking man with a ready smile.  He died in 1939.  The picture to the right is of Sebastian and Maria Antonia and their children, starting on the left, Pazquela (my Mother-in-law), Modesto, Consuela, Felipe and between the parents, Dolores.
My maternal Grandfather was Richard Kennedy a red-headed Irishman who was born in Oklahoma in 1897 when it was still Indian Territory.  I have been able to trace his family back to Richmond County, Georgia in the 1770's, but with a name like Kennedy I'm sure his family came from Ireland, I just haven't found the connection yet.  Family legend always said they were from County Cork. He married my Grandmother Pearl in 1919 and they had 5 children, one of whom died in infancy.  He was a farmer all his life though he worked in the shipyards during the Second World War.  We use to visit them on their farm in Oklahoma when I was a young girl.  They had no indoor plumbing or electricity until I was grown so it always felt like a real adventure when we went to see them.   He was a great story teller who would sit and roll his own cigarettes and talk for hours.  He died in 1986.  The picture to the left is my Grandfather Richard and Grandmother Pearl.
Realizing how little we knew about our  family histories is one of the reasons I started my genealogy
research.  Mac didn't even know his Father's parent's names, and I want to leave a history for our daughter April.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Butterfly Magnet

If I hadn't seen him take the picture I would think he had faked it.  Mac caught this Giant Swallowtail just as it was going to land on the Lantana.  Butterflies love the Lantana bush it's always covered with them, except for today.  They were there this morning, but it hit 102 degrees here today and nothing was stirring!

Not Senile Yet, But It's Getting Closer

We went shopping Saturday, something I hate to do, much preferring to do it online.  But from time to time local shopping has to be done.  So even though is was 11ty million degrees outside I cleaned up, changed clothes and headed out with Mac.  As we got out of the car  at the Mall I looked down at my feet and what did I see (besides my knobby feet)?  I saw my old, beat up, water logged slides that I wear when I get out of the pool.  I never wear them in public, how had I missed them when I was getting dressed?
It very much reminded me of an incident when I was in college,  which wasn't all that long ago because it took me 20 years to finish--but that's another story, when I woke up one morning, got ready for class, drove off to school, pulled into the parking lot, looked down at my feet and noticed that my two shoes didn't match, weren't even close.  So I pulled out of the parking lot,  hit a local department store and picked up a cheap pair of shoes--cheap because I probably had 20 pair laying in the closet at home.
Saturday Mac was very understanding, didn't even wait for me to say I couldn't wear the groaty shoes I had on and took me to a shoe store where I picked up a pretty pair of not so cheap summer sandals.
Getting forgetful can be expensive, but I'm not completely senile yet.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Unbelievable!

Wilder Publications has put a disclaimer on copies of the U.S.  Constitution that it sells.  It reads,"This book is a product of it’s time and does not reflect the same values as it would if it were written today. Parents might wish to discuss with their children how views on race gender, sexuality, ethnicity and interpersonal relationships have changed since this book was written before allowing them to read this classic work.” Similar warnings also appear on their productions of “The Federalist Papers” and “The Declaration of Independence.”  To say that I'm outraged is an understatement.  The Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, to say nothing of the Federalist Papers are some of the finest documents ever written, they are the cornerstones of our republic,  and to put this kind of disclaimer on them is an insult.  it's bad enough when it's put on books like Huckleberry Finn and To Kill a Mockingbird, but to put it on our Constitutuion is an outrage.  I hope they go bankrupt because morally they're already bankrupt.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Hot, Hot Hot!

Yes I know Georgia is supposed to be hot in summer.  But it isn't summer yet, we still have another 10 days of spring.  The temperatures have been in the low 90's for days and are expected to go up to the mid to upper 90's over the weekend, with heat indexes (that means what it really feels like when you add in the humidity) to over a 100.
Spring started off so well, we were making lots of day trips and planning more when this hit.  We kept thinking it'd break, that a good rain would come and cool us off.  But that hasn't happened, oh we've had rain but it has just made it stickier.
We do a 2 mile walk through our neighborhood each day and try to get it done in the morning.  But it has gotten so hot so early, it's supposed to be 90 by noon today, that I have started putting my swim suit on as soon as I get up so that when we're through with the walk I can jump in the pool and cool off.
The weeds in the garden are laughing at me, not the least slowed down or wilted by the heat.  I try to spend at least 15-20 minutes out there each morning, but it's getting harder each day.
Mac takes Miss Kitty out on her leash each day and tries to get her out before it's too hot, she then comes in and melts under a fan.
We try to go as long as we can without turning on the air conditioning because I object to giving my life savings to the electric company, though we are lucky,  we get our electricity from an electric coop--that means they're not allowed to make a profit or if they do it gets returned to the owners/consumers, that's us.  And we actually did get money back from them one time, I simply endorsed the check and sent it back to them to pay the next month's bill.  But I digress, because it's hot and I have to clean the computer room and I'm too Scrooge McDucklike to turn the air conditioner on.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Buddleias and Butterflies


They don't call it a Butterfly Bush for nothing.  Our purple Buddleia is in full bloom and the butterflies love it.  The bigger butterflies like Swallowtails do fine on it, but little Skippers get so drunk on pollen they fall in the pool and drown if I don't find them quick enough.
The only other plant the butterflies like as well is the Lantana, it too is always covered with them.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Our Backyard


We have some new critters in our back yard. We now have a pair of Eastern Box Turtle that live by the pool. They will probably stay, as I feed them daily, they love hotdogs. In this picture the female has wandered off about a 100 feet from her spot near the pool. I took her picture went into  the house for a minute or two and went I went back out she was in her old spot by the pool, ready for lunch!






   Every year about this time we get a new crop of toads, they start out less than a 1/2 inch, but grow quickly. When I first see them I know that just a day or so ago they were still tadpoles, and that they were probably in a bole of a tree where water is trapped, but search as I may I can never find them as tadpoles.
   The Cardinals are our favorite bird in the yard, they are year round residents and are seen daily in the trees and in the bird feeder. The male is resplendent in his flaming reds feathers, the female a rather dull brown. You always see the male first and then find the female. However she may not be flashy, but she is the apple of his eye. When the are feeding, he will stop eating, find an especially juicy seed and hop over to her and place it in her mouth, he will do this over and over.  We have watched this many many times and still find it fascinating.

Double Your Pleasure, Double Your Fun...Not!

While taking our morning walk we heard a loud splash as we neared the bridge that crosses the lagoon.  Mac said turtle, I said I don't think so, turtles slide in not jump.  And then we saw a small alligator surface and swim slowly across the lagoon.  As he/she/it neared the far side a second alligator came out from the grass and reeds.  This is so unusual.  They say that alligators are territorial and we've never had 2 alligators in the lagoon at the same time, but there they were, eyeing each other warily and finally one dove under and swam off.
Never a dull moment on our walks.

Update!  Mac just came in from the backyard and says that the alligator that kind of hangs around the lot next door is there and that it is not one of the 2 we just saw, so there are 3 of them floating around.  Not good!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Learned My Lesson

We live in a rural area with a rural mail carrier who performs many of the functions of a post office.  For instance I can buy stamps from her or  get mail boxes, I simply put a post office envelope in the mail box with a check and indicate what I need in the way of stamps etc.  Except at Christmas time I never specify what kind of stamps I want ( you know cute kitties, flags of the world, Elvis) just using whatever she leaves me.
Well last week I turned in my envelope and what to my dismay did she leave me, Simpsons stamps.  They're hideous, I''m embarrassed every time I put them on an envelope.  I can only imagine they have a ton of them because I can't imagine anyone saying," Oh, I need two rolls of Simpsons stamps, they're so cute."
I will use them up because I'm too cheap not to, but next time I'll specify what kind of stamps I want.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Painting

I took the camera with us yesterday and still forgot to take a picture of the work we've been doing.  Luckily I had taken one on Thursday.  We weren't quite finished then needing to finish the top and have the lightning added but it gives you a good idea of what we've been doing.  The painting is 50 feet by 12.  We had to lay down 2 coats of white, then the beige in the middle, do the horse and the lettering which was a b***h to do, paint the dark bottom and blend 3 colors to do the top, which had to be rollered on and then blended with a rag.
Needless to say it was a lot of work, but looks pretty good.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Movie Review

I don't usually do movie reviews, partly because we see so few movies worthy of a review and partly because when  we do see a good one I hate to gush, but this week we saw a movie we both enjoyed so much, hated to see it end, that I decided to do one.
The movie is Julie and Julia starring Amy Adams, Meryl Streep and  Stanley Tucci.  It's the story of how Julie Powell , Adam's character, unhappy in her job, hating her tiny apartment, wanting to do something worthwhile,  decides to write a  blog, The Julia Project,  where she will chronicle her adventures cooking all of Julia Child's recipes from her book Mastering the Art of French Cooking.  This involves cooking 524 recipes in 365 days.
Nora Ephron directed this film and while I'm not a big fan of "chick flicks", even less so my husband, this is not really that genre.  It's a movie for people who like interesting characters.
Ephron combines the real life Julie's Powell's blog with Julia Child's My Life in France, and quite frankly it's the Julia Child part of this movie that makes it so special.  Meryl Streep as Julia and Stanley Tucci as her husband are wonderful, and so believable, great chemistry.  Whereas Amy Adams as Julie and Chris Messina as Eric are good in their roles, but Julie is not a particularly likable person, much too whiny and self-involved, so I found myself wanting to get back to the Julia side of the story.
But Julia and Paul Child are warm and wonderful, people you want to know better. Julia too lives in a tiny apartment, searches for something meaningful to do, trying first hat making, then learning French and finally learning French cooking.  Not matter the circumstances Julia was upbeat and cheerful, ready for whatever challenge was ahead.

At the end of the movie Julie  finds out that Julia Child (who was still alive amazingly enough) didn't think much of her project, that it was too much self promotion and too little about the food, and as I read somewhere Julia did not suffer fools gladly so was less than impressed.
A good movie always has good supporting movie and Julie and Julia was rich with them, in particular Linda Emond as Julia's French co-writer.

One review I read said that perhaps this is a movie that only "foodies" would like, but I disagree, if you hated food you'd like this movie.  I use to laugh at Julia Child on tv, and now I wish I had paid more attention to her, as played by Meryl Streep she was a treasure.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Incredible!

When it's a hundred degrees outside and the sweat is pouring into my eyes, when I'm digging into the soil and Deer Fly are using me for a banquet, when half my flowers rot and I have to replace them, when deer stop by and have a feast, I wonder why I bother with a garden at at.  And then the Hydrangeas bloom and I know why.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Magnolias

One of my favorite trees is the Magnolia.  I was excited about living in the south because the Magnolias are so pretty here.  So a couple of years ago we ordered a Magnolia and planted it.  It has done well, the only problem has been that what I ordered was  a Japanese Magnolia, Magnolia Lilliflora.  This type of Magnolia is much smaller than our Southern Magnolia only growing to about 4 feet.  Our Magnolia the Grandiflora may grow up to 40 feet tall and they are an evergreen.  The Japanese Magnolia is not, that was my first clue that I had ordered the wrong tree.  At first I was afraid that it had died, but we discovered that it was very much alive, but that it was deciduous and so it had  lost its leaves.  It flowers beautifully but it's not what I wanted so I'll be ordering another tree this fall.
In the mean time we noticed in the vacant lot next to us a beautiful Magnolia Virginiana, better known as a Swamp Magnolia or Sweet Bay.    I don't know if this is the first time it has flowered or if we just hadn't noticed before.  It is about 40 feet high and they grow up to 60 feet.  If it weren't so big I'd have Mac dig it up for me, we know the owners and they wouldn't mind, but it's way too big.   Mac did cut one of the flowers for me, it was nearly a foot across, unfortunately it turned brown in less than a day.
This is my Japanese Magnolia, pretty, but different.
So I'll enjoy my little Magnolia and get me a big one!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Spanish Moss

I love Spanish Moss and feel lucky to live in an area where it grows.  It is only found in the southeastern parts of the United States ( and in Central and South America) from Florida to Texas and of course here in Georgia.  Though it's not found in all parts of Georgia, just the coastal area.
When French explorers first saw it and asked the Native Americans what it was they were told it was "tree hair", the French told them it looked more like a Spaniard's beard " Barbe Espagnol".  Spaniards took this as an insult and said it looked more like French hair,"Cabello Frances".  But the name Spanish moss seemed to stick.
It is often found on Cypress, Gum Trees, Oaks, Elms and Pecan.  It grows on all of our trees including Pine.  Our trees out back are covered in it.  They just look so darn southern.
Spanish Moss is not a true moss, but rather an epiphytic plant which means it's a plant that grows on another plant.  It's not parasitic, it doesn't get it's food from the host plant, but can damage the tree if it covers too many of the leaves and interferes with the photosynthetic process.  Spanish Moss is a member of the Bromeliad family and one of its family members is the pineapple, how strange to think of them being related!
They don't produce seeds but rather propagate by fragments or festoons that birds carry from plant to plant.
Birds use it for nesting material, lizards love it to live in as do chiggers and redbugs.
We once saw a man at a Halloween party covered in Spanish Moss, needless to stay he did keep it on long.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Memorial Day Weekend


We flew to Maryland this weekend to spend the holiday with our daughter who we miss so much, wish she lived closer.  But we try to get together as much as we can.  She lives in a small town in Maryland between Baltimore and Annapolis just outside of Washington D.C.
We started the day together at an old 50's style diner called the Honey Bee, great breakfast food!  After that we yakked and napped.

After our nap we were off to Annapolis the capitol of Maryland.  The weather was lovely and we'd asked her if we could do lunch in Annapolis at the Reynold's Inn a lovely old 18th century inn that we always enjoy eating at, and considering how blah most of the meals we've had lately it was definitely a treat with excellent service, lovely setting and heavenly food.  Mac had a Lamb Shank, April Fish and Chips and I had a Ribeye Steak, and we had appetizers that were actually delivered before the meal.  Mac and April shared an order of Mussels done in a citrus sauce that they said was to die for, but I had to take their word for it because I don't eat mussels, even when they're heavenly.
For dessert we all shared a Peach Tart and I'll just say YUM!
After dinner we had to walk or explode, so we walked down to the harbor and through the small streets full of 18th and 19th  century houses covered in flowers, took lots of pictures.
On Sunday we went to the Zoo in D.C., it started warm and ended up hot, hot, hot! We found ourselves moving from mister to mister to cool off and eating vastly over-priced ice creams. Not many animals stirring around, heard one man say that the zoo was probably free because there weren't any animals, though we saw a Panda Bear actually eating and rolling around, and outside we saw an orangutan  bractiating along an aerial way the Zoo had put in for them, it was fascinating.




Returning to her place she took us to an International Grocery Store and we spent nearly an hour finding treats to eat, broad beans from Japan, Morcilla from Spain, Chorizo from the Phillipines, and admiring the display of fresh and live fish for sale.  It reminded us of Harrod's food halls.
Too soon our trip was over and we had to head home, but she's coming down here in July, and more eating will take place because that's what happens when we get together.

Tuesday in the Swamp

The house is once again filled with the smell of Gingerbread, I baked a load of little men, even wore my Gingerbread Apron, but I'm too ...