Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

How's this for a typical fall day. Not really, I have not caught many days colored like this. However, we are back to this regular rhythm and lack of light. I suspect I am going to have to buy one of those lights people in the old TV show Northern Exposure wore to get over the "gray blues" of winter. I actually take vitamin D3 which is supposed to compensate for lack of sunlight. This is the time when I become the most temperamental flower in my garden. I know it sounds pissy but what can I tell you. I need more sunlight!

I will also tell you that fate of Molly the Dalmatian is not completely decided, but I have given up hope on her. I wrote a few more stern emails and finally got a garbled voice mail and eventually an email explaining that even though I seemed the perfect companion and had experience with Dalmatians I was behind someone who had an application before me and should these people prove not worthy after their home inspection the process would start with me. I tell you it seems the wrong Ufg%&&*ing people are in charge all over! I hope that this pup indeed finds a loving home.

My friend Julia recommended an Aussie. She had two and recently lost one. They are marvelous dogs. They are loving and have beautiful coats of various colors or marbled hues that make them quite fluffy like Lassie but no tails. I have considered getting one but am so stuck on my old breed (Dalmatians) that I am not sure what I will do. Taxi shed constantly with severe shedding at season's change and as a consequence I said to myself never again! My stairs after a week looked like it snowed indoors. What I loved most about her besides her fabulous smiley face (a grimace she would make as though smiling when you talked with her and she had done something unexpected) and her personality was the shape of her extremely muscular body sculpted in short hairs. I need more time to figure this out. It is not as though I don't have enough things to think about. As Scarlet O'hara used to say I'll think about that another day.

I hope you all have a Happy Thanksgiving. I am going to a friends house for the feast where a somewhat dysfunctional middle sized-family will be tempered by a group of probably crazier orphans to which I belong. My own family is far away and my friends serve, as they always have, as my family. Hearty eating.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

November Surprise

The images around the neighborhood are mostly of trees showing the splendors of autumn. I have recently read that Americans now refer to Autumn as Fall. It is a shame, if it is true, that we are losing further distinguishing characteristics of our language. I know the British retain the practice of using the classic word. I wonder which way our neighboring Canadians go on this one?

The weather has been mild so far so there are numerous surprises in the garden beyond those that you kind of expect and are not surprises! But try some of these out. The berries (no surprise) are pretty much all set in. The Cranberry Viburnums are covered with juicy moist berries that the birds will devour over the winter. I have about a dozen plants throughout the garden as they can handle truly swampy conditions or drier soils.

The money plant or Honesty (Lunnaria annua) has set its big silver dollar seeds. My friend Carmen gave me some a few years ago and, as promised, they have laid claim to a corner of the woodland garden where I suspect they will over a period of time take over entirely. The money plant is a biennial that takes two years to bloom in either pink or white. On the fall of the second year they set these coin shaped seeds that are great for fall displays. I first saw them in masses at Monticello as they were a favorite of Thomas Jefferson.

Another berry in the garden is more dangerous, as is the entire plant, but very effective in feeding the birds. Nandina domestica (Heavenly bamboo) does not resemble bamboo in the least but is a rather toxic to mammals. Maybe that is why they call it heavenly bamboo: you eat it, you go to heaven. I know I am making light of this beautiful plant or its poisonous nature, but deer, rabbits and other animals that destroy gardens will not eat it hence they are smarter than humans in some ways. Birds are immune to it. If you think of your garden as a pharmacy filled with potential beneficial and poisonous plants you need to be the pharmacist and figure out what is what.

Some years ago, one of our immensely smart city people got a bargain from a major nursery for street trees. The plant in question was the Laburnum or Golden Shower tree, a magnificent plant in the right application that is covered with yellow fragrant flowers. The English create tunnels for people to experience them when in bloom, but it does come with a little catch: it is deadly poisonous. All who grow it know it, but our town bureaucrat thought she had discovered gold in planting a tree to fit under the power lines that flowered and was fragrant. It was an idea, but not as a street tree? Eventually, the town did their homework and all trees were discreetly removed before anyone could pick out the little peas from the seedpods and munch and die. Enough macabre, know your garden!

The true surprise of the year is that all the rose plants still have a bloom or so left in them. As I have many roses, there are a few to enjoy. Here is a small collection of the best.

Finally, given that all the plants will soon be totally dormant and it will return to a sea of twigs or brown I have started just a few bulbs to over winter the dreariness to come.

PS. Pooch Update: No replies from Shelter. I may have to enlist all your assistance in adopting this Dal. Enjoy…

Friday, November 13, 2009

Nor'easter Weather...

We are having the first Nor’easter of the season. Cold winds from the Northeast ravage the Jersey Coast and cause considerable flooding. In winter, these storms can leave a considerable snow pack in the area. Fortunately for us and thanks to global warming we are only experiencing major rain, wind and flooding. Others may disagree but in my mind, it is better that four feet of snow!

Regardless, we have already seen the first frost which devastates most of the remaining tender plants in the garden. These storms drop the most of the remaining leaves on trees. Our street department has already come three times to vacuum up the massive piles of leaves in the neighborhoods. I think we have two more vacuum visits before they stop for the season. If they didn't do this we would be up to our chin in water from all the plugged street drains.

The last of the Nasturtiums that has survived the frost

Looking out the window of my bedroom it is hard to imagine that ten years ago I started the process of reclaiming what was once a flooded lawn into the garden it is today. Now, it looks somewhat mature and designed with the central walk and the pond and the natural area over to one side behind the garage where Taxi, my Dalmatian, used to do her business as she would not go on the gravel walk. Time has passed indeed. I feel it in my bones, my back and my legs! I somehow wish that didn't, but that too is part of the natural process.

From the garden bench it all looks rather unkempt

The old Garden as I started to layout out the beds with marker flags and laying out of the first major plantings

Taxi surveying her domain and the first pile of dirt that I brought in to raise the plantings beds out of the swamp.

My neighbor Ben who has started the process of gardening in our swamp. It is funny how the process never ends!

A strange thing happened to me this week. I have been nursing ailments which I will spare you but I have come to a decision to get a new dog. How I will manage I don’t know, but I will. It has been almost two years since Taxi passed and I thought I would never in a million years consider another Dalmatian for a variety of reasons but primarily because I did not want to replace my dear beloved Taxi. I was looking at Petfinder and they had listed a Dalmatian that could have been the clone of mine. It is hard to believe that you can match up spots and physical traits but according to the listing and images my Taxi may well have re-incarnated into Molly. Paws Claws and more, the shelter that listed her, has not answered any of my request for information or my adoption application, which is rather rude, if not contrary to the mission of a shelter. I hope they do. On second thought, I will not be replacing my old friend just making a new one.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Henri David's 2009 Halloween Ball

Lucy Chocolate Dipper and Lucy Hollywood Glamour Girl with Ricky Looking On

Halloween in Collingswood is very quaint but not what I remember from living in San Francisco or LA, where it is a celebration. Here, in the little village center, children get dressed up and go for treats to the commercial shops and hundreds if not thousands show up because it is Collingswood. Unfortunately, few show up at doors anymore because they have already gotten their bounty at the shops and because parents are leery from what is out there.

Not too far across the Delaware River in Philadelphia a tradition more akin to that I experienced in California is alive. Here city dwellers, mostly adult, regale themselves at this time of year living out fantasies of their childhood or? One of the biggest parties, a Costumed Ball celebrating its 40 plus anniversary, in the classic tradition, is put on by Henri David. Henri, a jeweler by trade, is a character larger than life all year and at Halloween he is as big as a Galaxy in wonderful costumes and platform shoes, but he is bigger than life because he loves a great party and loves to get a great crowd.

This year’s Ball attracted some 1500 dressed and undressed individuals who were photographing each other and who kept running in and out of the dance floor to check the score of the Philly-Yankees game or catch a smoke. The costumes ranged from the sublime to the ridiculous and all levels of taste and propriety. The reality is that two in the morning came and we lived it over again as it was daylight savings. It was a wonderful evening that even included Pennsylvania’s Governor Rendell paying tribute to Henri for his yearly gathering loved by Philadelphians. Enjoy the show!

The following are a few images from the Ball. If you are interested in seeing more check out my Picasa Web



Glamour Heathen

Chiquita and a Carmen

Guess who?

Coffee, tea or me?

All Seeing

Hello, Dolly!


Governor Rendell and Henri

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Titan and the Fireflies

This week I am writing two blogs: There is just too much going on! With Philadelphia in the World Series, Halloween and all kinds of art openings, the Philadelphia social scene is off to a very great start. My friend Eileen Tognini has curated a show like few have seen before. In an adapted old mill now called the Sky Box Studios where the walls are splattered reminders of Jackson Pollock, new creatures have come alive from very simple drawings. Jason Hackenwerth has taken the art of making poodles out of balloons into another galaxy. Here, in a darkened room, carefully lit creatures appear to float dazzling one and all. If you want to see all the images from the exhibit go my Picasa Web Album:

I leave you to enjoy what I shared with a lucky few hundred guests: “The Titan and the Fireflies.”

Inspiration drawing for the Titan



In the midst of all this wonderment, this child preferred reading a book rather than gaze at fireflies.