Tuesday, September 30, 2008
To show you that I have a softer, gentler side, I present these Celosia flowers blooming with abandon in my mother's yard. I drove a few miles down the road this past weekend to visit her in Southeast Missouri, while Hubby finished up his 80-plus-hour week at the rig in Southern Illinois.
I hope that these pictures of Celosia can soften what now appears to me as a rather harsh comment left on TC's site, The Write Gardener. Maybe I should avoid visiting other blogs on Mondays. Those days invariably bring out the worst in me for some reason. It must be from the effects of the moon that gave its name to Monday.
My mom's hybrid tea roses are just about finished blooming for the year, but I found a single rosebud holding itself proudly above the rather tired looking leaves of the shrub. It's fresh and lovely.
Now here is a full-blown rose showing evidence of its encounter with some kind of marauder. Whoever he was, he must have felt sorry for the old gal and left her in peace for the rest of her show. She will live for a while longer on my blog.
I took my mom to lunch in Cape Girardeau at this historic eatery, Port Cape Girardeau. I wonder if the Coca-Cola being advertised so boldly on the side of the building contained at one time a secret ingredient to combat fatigue. Amazing, isn't it, how prices have changed?
After lunch, we took a stroll on the street-side of the Mississippi River floodwall. The wall has become a showpiece for the city, inviting visitors to take a step back in time.
Looking back up the hill from the floodwall, I could see the Common Pleas Courthouse, still in use today as a site for the administration of justice. It was built in 1854 and has witnessed a lot of pleas since that time.
Turning back to the floodwall and going back a bit farther in time, this panel on the wall captured my attention. Perhaps justice was more blind than usual in this instance.
At the edge of the wall, the river-level gauge bears witness to progress. Skeeter had an interesting remark about progress in her comment on my last post: Arrrgh! The river's dimensions, course, and boundaries have been fiddled with for years by a certain government entity known as the Army Corps of Engineers. They have made a valiant effort to spur economic progress to the area with barge traffic. Unfortunately, nature has a way of foiling the efforts of even the most dedicated public servants.
Cape Girardeau proudly proclaims its heritage and progressive attitude to any passersby who happen to be traveling on the river. It is a beautiful city with friendly people and a thriving healthcare industry, a virtual medical mecca for folks coming from hundreds of miles away.
This piece of progress came just in the nick of time for millions of travelers like me who cross the river from Illinois to Missouri. The old bridge was a crumbling bit of high anxiety that I dreaded every time I drove to Missouri to visit my parents. The kids in the back seat learned to pipe down whenever mom gripped the steering wheel in anticipation of the crossing. Two narrow lanes (one each way!), somehow, for many years accommodated heavy traffic which included semi-trucks. Horror stories about near misses occurring with great frequency kept this driver on her toes.
Crossing the bridge now seems like a cake-walk compared to the old days of white-knuckled driving. I felt confident enough to snap a picture (while driving!) of my approach to the bridge while heading back to the Land of Lincoln on Sunday afternoon. Kids, please don't attempt this stunt. Only (idiot) drivers with plenty of experience crossing dangerous, old bridges are qualified to perform this feat.
On the road home, when no other cars were in sight, I snapped another picture of the floodwaters which have almost completely disappeared from the floodplain on the Illinois side of the river. The wetlands tried to make a comeback this year and almost succeeded.
Friday, September 26, 2008
Banquo: The earth hath bubbles, as the water has,
And these are of them. Whither are they vanished?
Macbeth: Into the air; and what seemed corporal melted,
As breath into the wind. Would they had stayed!
--from William Shakespeare's Macbeth, Act I, Scene 3--
I am back with Hubby in the Land of Lincoln, though I only get to see him for brief intervals now that the season of drilling for oil is in full swing here. He took these short videos for me. I try to avoid visiting the rig as much as possible since women are seldom seen on a drilling platform and could tend to be disruptive to the roughnecks. You can find another name I have chosen for them in an earlier post that discusses colorful oil field terms. I accidentally switched the order of the videos so please click on the second one first.
Most geologists subscribe to the theory that oil is a limited resource that originates from rotten plant and animal matter buried eons ago deep in the earth and subjected to great pressure underground. There are other theories out there, however, which challenge the notion that oil reserves are finite. It would be nice to find out those theories are true and not just the product of someone's imagination.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
For some reason, I have always loved tidal pools. They represent a rest from the onslaught of time, but they are only a temporary respite, a place to catch one's breath. They are in-between areas. Most of my life has occurred in the in-between or interstitial places. I am always moving, sometimes by choice and sometimes not, but when the movement halts for a while I wait. I wait in traffic, on the phone while on hold, in the airport, on the plane, on the transport van, in the apartment. This jellyfish I found on Pensacola Beach Friday, my last day in Florida, would probably rather be moving freely about in the sea, doing its work of capturing prey and devouring it. The high tide has brought it ashore and deposited it in this pool. It waits until either the next tide takes it back to the sea or until the pool sinks into the sand and the sun and wind begin their dessicating work upon it.
This little man waits for no one. Before Sarah and I headed to the beach for my last look at the sea for a few months, we stopped by for a visit with Micah and his Grandma Martha. She takes care of him at his parents' home while they work.
He refused to ride in the stroller and insisted on stopping every so often to pick some wildflowers.
He and his dad's old dog Rocky led the way the whole time we were walking. Rocky suffers from arthritis in his golden years, but once he gets moving, he seems to be transformed to a pup again. I guess he takes his cue from his young master. I have noticed that some of my fellow bloggers are talking about the change of seasons, autumn, and dying, though not necessarily dying in the literal sense. This new season we are in, autumn, is another interstitial place, and I think that is why I like it so much. It is a time to rest, gather strength, and ponder the next growing season.
I like the fact that John Milton seems intrigued and maybe just a bit disturbed by the contradictions imposed by time with its incessant shifts between movement and then stillness, work and then idleness. It should not be surprising that he felt that way. He spent most of his life on a rather large island, surrounded by the sea.
Friday, September 19, 2008
I love to see this Loropetalum shrub which I have trained into a tree. It blooms practically all year just beyond our front porch here in Florida, where the weather is still rather warm right now and the love bugs are swarming...again.
[Aside] Too hot, too hot!
To mingle friendship far is mingling bloods.
I have tremor cordis on me: my heart dances;
But not for joy; not joy. This entertainment
May a free face put on, derive a liberty
From heartiness, from bounty, fertile bosom,
And well become the agent; 't may, I grant;
But to be paddling palms and pinching fingers,
As now they are, and making practised smiles,
As in a looking-glass, and then to sigh, as 'twere
The mort o' the deer; O, that is entertainment...
--from William Shakespeare's Winter's Tale--Rose in Illinois recently asked me what a love bug is. Can words adequately describe this free-loving menace to southern living? I have found a few words here and there that just might satisfy your curiosity about the critters. They are seldom seen alone, and you almost feel sorry for the poor males. I said almost. Washing windows is not recommended during love bug season, but I had no choice if I wanted to get this autumn chore done before leaving Florida this weekend. If I get home for Christmas, I would like to see the sun shining brightly through my windows and the Loropetalum blooming just beyond them.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Mea culpa. The Lily Briscoe in me wants to know: What does it mean? I will be doing my part to add to global warming in a few days when I board a plane which will take me away from Florida and back to my beloved in Illinois, the Land of Lincoln. I will leave a part of me here (besides what's now working its way through the septic system) like a time capsule waiting to be opened at the appropriate time.
Our daughter has many admirable qualities, not the least of which is her empathy for the unloved ones or misfits she meets in this world. She is now 26 years old and has maintained contact with one such boy she has known since high school in Kentucky. His name is Michael. Consider, for a moment the meaning of that name. He has a long, social-services history of being passed from one relative to "friend of the family" and from "friend" to state mental facility in the hopes that he might someday find a purpose in life and be able to make himself useful to society. His profound speech impediment makes it difficult to understand what he says. It is unlikely that he will ever find gainful employment or live a "normal" life as most of us would understand that term. Sarah has a connection with Michael--they met in a high school art class--and she is probably the only true friend he has left in this world. Not too many people would give him the time of day, let alone care what happens to him, given the kind of "life" he has lived and the things he has done--or not done, like earn a living, marry, or raise a family. She just found out last week that the home of the family he was living with burned down under mysterious circumstances. The lady who took him in was the niece of a man he lived with for several years, whose house also burned down. Michael's life reveals a puzzling pattern which will probably never be solved, no matter how many social workers or psychologists get involved in trying to solve it. Why? He does not communicate very well, and even if he did, his tale would surely implicate the social service system as an accessory to the many, varied abuses he has endured for most of his life.
Sarah is approaching a major crossroads in her life right now. She loves being a massage therapist, but, the economy being what it is right now, her business has slowed to a snail's pace. I convinced her to take a couple of classes this semester, one of them an introductory social work class. I thought that career would fit her personality like a glove. Now, I am not so sure. How would someone so empathetic manage to negotiate and survive the bureaucractic, money-hungry nightmare which has consumed so many misguided social agencies? They were once created to feed, house, and protect the hungry, homeless, and abused souls among us. What has happened to them? I have always taught her to respect and love the unlovable. Now I wonder if I have done the right thing, encouraging the sensitive, gentle aspects of her personality to overrun its natural instinct for self-preservation. How will she take care of herself if something happens to us?
She will probably not approve of my using this video or talking so candidly about her. I could pretend nothing is wrong, smile, talk of inane subjects, and leave calmly in a few days. After all, that is the usual course my life has followed for the last, almost five decades. Yeah, you could say the idea of mea culpa has been working its magic on me lately. My bad?
Monday, September 15, 2008
Do you see heaven in the symmetry of a spider's web? The spider I found inside the screen the other day found its way outside the screen and back on my blog today. Shameless orchard spider!
Today, after checking in with my new orchard specialist, I found a lot of fives around the garden and wondered about the significance of that particular number.
I found this site in my search, and it has a few interesting things to say on the subject.
I recently planted some Pentas in pots and in the flower beds to add some color and butterfly attraction to my world at the moment. For some reason, I have never grown these flowers before in my garden. I was curious about them so I did a bit of looking on the Web. I learned a few tips from another site I found.
Even the common Vinca, which self-sows freely in my garden, wants to count, by fives.
Mexican petunias are giving me something to smile about. They are filling in the bare spots where other, fussier plants have failed to perform. Other gardeners may not like them for what might be considered invasive behavior, but I give them free rein in my garden. I like their five-petaled flowers too. The hummingbirds like to pay them a visit and take a sip from their trumpet-like blossoms now and then.
We went bowling last night after supper, and Micah wanted to run about freely. Unfortunately for him, there are rules in place that do not allow that sort of behavior. He is so young, energetic, and curious about everything, he cannot help but defy those rules and orders to be obeyed and keeps us busy running after him. Luckily, there were five of us adults present to watch him and scoop him up when he just could not sit still any longer.
When I was searching on the Web for the significance of five, I came across some other nuggets of wisdom. One of the sites explores a book with which I am intimately familiar and what it has to say about the significance of numbers. Plato was another fellow who decided the number five was pretty special. He wondered a lot about divine subjects too.
Saturday, September 13, 2008
I'm Nobody! Who are you?
Then there's a pair of us?
Don't tell! they'd advertise--you know!
How dreary--to be--Somebody!
How public--like a Frog--
To tell one's name--the livelong June--
To an admiring Bog!
--a poem by Emily Dickinson, c. 1861--
My daughter snapped the first picture you see yesterday evening right as the sun was setting. The mantis sitting outside the pool enclosure looks like he is saying his evening prayers. I went outside this morning to drink my coffee and meditate on things just as the sun was rising and found this toothy smile above me inside the pool screen. I had been wondering what sort of creature had been leaving its webs dangling down for me to get caught in. It looks deceptively friendly. If I was much smaller or it was much larger, it would probably love to have me come up for dinner sometime. I would at least like to be properly introduced and know its name. Does anyone know?
Friday, September 12, 2008
My daughter wants me to go with her tonight to hear a band play at Bamboo Willie's. It's a popular watering hole on the Pensacola Beach boardwalk, on the Sound side, of course. This picture was taken last week when the water was smooth and easy on the eyes. Today, there are coastal flood warnings and small craft advisories posted for the Gulf Coast. I am not sure I want to cross that bridge to the beach tonight, and I might feel a little strange celebrating while the folks in Texas are preparing for the arrival of Ike. We will follow the forecast closely on the news.
I hope there is no loss of life from this storm, although you can be sure there will be loss of something. If nothing else, wildlife habitats, like the Gulf Islands National Seashore, always suffer encroachment by the rising flood waters. It's bad enough they have had to lose by encroaching development in years past. Things like the boardwalk with all of its enticements have replaced those natural barriers to nature's fury, the sand dunes which used to be there.
This picture of an elephant's ear plant, which I hear is a type of Caladium, makes me think of heeding warnings. I hope the people near the water leave quickly. They do not have much time left to evacuate. I probably should have done some research (click here) before I leaped at the chance to add this plant to my garden. Now I know. These plants can spread farther and wider than I would like them to. I may have to keep them in check by building a barrier. I planted them along with the liriope to prevent erosion in this bed on the north side of the house. This gardener never seems to learn from her mistakes.
Maybe some music will put me in a better frame of mind. I love to sit outside and listen to my windchimes. We bought these in a flea market near Cape Coral, Florida. I lost the card that came with them, but I think they are called Corinthian Bells. The company that makes them probably did not want them to resonate like "sounding brass or a clanging cymbal," and they are crafted so well that they can induce a peaceful feeling when the wind gently moves them.
At this moment a patter of footsteps was heard, and looking up they saw the live phonograph standing before them. It seemed to have passed through many adventures since Ojo and his comrades last saw the machine, for the varnish of its wooden case was all marred and dented and scratched in a way that gave it an aged and disreputable appearance.
"Dear me!" exclaimed Ojo, staring hard. "What has happened to you?"
"Nothing much," replied the phonograph in a sad and depressed voice. "I've had enough things thrown at me, since I left you, to stock a department store and furnish half a dozen bargain-counters."
"Are you so broken up that you can't play?" asked Scraps.
"No; I still am able to grind out delicious music. Just now I've a record on tap that is really superb," said the phonograph, growing more cheerful.
"That is too bad," remarked Ojo. "We've no objection to you as a machine, you know; but as a music-maker we hate you."
"Then why was I ever invented?" demanded the machine, in a tone of indignant protest.
They looked at one another inquiringly, but no one could answer such a puzzling question. Finally the Shaggy Man said:
"I'd like to hear the phonograph play."
Ojo sighed. "We've been very happy since we met you, sir," he said.
"I know. But a little misery, at times, makes one appreciate happiness more. Tell me, Phony, what is this record like, which you say you have on tap?"
"It's a popular song, sir. In all civilized lands the common people have gone wild over it."
"Makes civilized folks wild folks, eh? Then it's dangerous."
"Wild with joy, I mean," explained the phonograph. "Listen. This song will prove a rare treat to you, I know. It made the author rich--for an author..."
--from The Patchwork Girl of Oz by L. Frank Baum--
Click here for an interesting perspective on another Gulf city which is bracing itself for a lot of wind which will not be moving gently. I wish the residents peace after the storm.
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
If "it is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife," does it not follow that a married man in possession of a wife must be in want of a good fortune? He sure would find it helpful once the responsibilities begin to multiply and the bank balance reveals more evidence of subtraction than addition. Poor men! Well, at least some of them will get extra points for longsuffering. I know mine will.
These young people are more rich than they realize at the moment. I got richer by being able to spend the day with them this past Saturday. Boating and beach time took place on the "sound" side of Pensacola Beach. The water is much calmer there and therefore kid-and-boating-friendly.
While Grandma Martha watched Micah play on the beach, I was the lookout while my daughter-in-law took a wild ride on the tube. For some reason, Alan would not trust any of us women to drive the boat so he could take a turn on the water. I was a little hurt by his decision because I have a lot of experience behind the wheel of a power-boat. He probably remembers the times years ago, living on a lake in Illinois, when I tried to throw his father off balance. It was always done in a spirit of light-hearted fun, honestly!
My daughter-in-law proves that a good woman holds on even when things can get a bit choppy.
On Sunday morning, Sarah and I tackled the thorny problem presented by some Knockout roses. I love these shrubs for their resilience and beauty, but they tend to overstep their boundaries in this Florida climate. The plentiful rain and warmth we have had this summer at home apparently provided ideal growing conditions. I had to be ruthless and trim them severely. I usually perform this task late in the fall or early winter, but I only have a couple of more weeks until I go back to Illinois. I was also concerned that if Hurricane Ike paid us a visit, the shrubs would damage themselves and the screen enclosure by whipping about in the wind.
I know, it looks pitiful now, a veritable piece of destruction, but just give it a few weeks. It will be blooming again and as full as it was by next May, ready for trimming again. Maybe the canna lilies hidden behind its former mass will thank me with an abundance of flowers before I have to leave.
I can understand why Sarah leaves the rose bushes alone, even though she does a great job of maintaining the rest of the yard. Their thorns are fierce enough to penetrate the thickest gloves I have, and she has to be protective of her hands. She makes her living with them as a massage therapist.
We added a lot of stuff to the trash heap, or compost pile, if you prefer. We were rewarded for our hard work by what we found growing there. It was pure poetry.
Though I have grown cypress vine and morning glories before in my Midwest gardens, I have never grown them here in Florida, having found them to be a bit unruly once established. Somehow they managed to find their way to our trash heap, those little blessings on my mess. We usually burn the pile down a bit if it gets too big, but I think I will leave this mess alone for a while, at least until I come home the next time. It is trying so hard to cover up the evidence of my destruction.
"I do not like to boast of my own child, but to be sure, Jane--one does not often see anybody better looking. It is what everybody says. I do not trust my own partiality. When she was only fifteen, there was a gentleman at my brother Gardiner's in town so much in love with her that my sister-in-law was sure he would make her an offer before we came away. But, however, he did not. Perhaps he thought her too young. However, he wrote some verses on her, and very pretty they were."
"And so ended his affection," said Elizabeth impatiently. "There has been many a one, I fancy, overcome in the same way. I wonder who first discovered the efficacy of poetry in driving away love!"
"I have been used to consider poetry as the food of love," said Darcy.
"Of a fine, stout, healthy love it may. Everything nourishes what is strong already. But if it be only a slight, thin sort of inclination, I am convinced that one good sonnet will starve it entirely away."
Darcy only smiled; and the general pause which ensued made Elizabeth tremble lest her mother should be exposing herself again...
--All quoted material borrowed from Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice--
Thursday, September 4, 2008
Gustav, the storm we anticipated last weekend, bypassed our corner of Florida and hit the coast of Louisana instead. He stirred up a few sensational looking waves, though, before heading west.
Once when he was a little boy, grandpapa had gone with his parents to see [a] festivity...There were many shields to be seen; a hundred rooms might have been filled with pictures, if they had been hung up inside and outside. At the tailor's were pictures of all kinds of clothing, to show that he could stitch up people from the coarsest to the finest; at the tobacco manufacturer's were pictures of the most charming little boys, smoking cigars, just as they do in reality; there were signs with painted butter and herrings, clerical collars, and coffins, and inscriptions and announcements into the bargain. A person could walk up and down for a whole day through the streets and tire himself out with looking at the pictures; and then he would know all about what people lived in the houses, for they had hung out their shields or signs; and, as grandfather said, it was a very instructive thing, in a great town, to know at once who the inhabitants were...
--from "The Storm Shakes the Shield" by Hans Christian Andersen--
We flew back home last Saturday for a short visit and to secure the homestead ahead of the storm which never really materialized here. On Sunday we decided to visit the beach because we were not sure whether the storm would shift its anticipated track and perhaps cause some major beach erosion on Monday. It's clear from this picture (click on it to read more clearly) that hell or high water can't keep the advertisers for some local entertainment from their appointed rounds. Sammy's apparently offers free rides to the establishment but probably not while there.
All kinds of appetite can be stimulated by the signs in the sky. McGuire's Irish Pub is one of our favorite restaurants in Pensacola, but we wanted some time on the beach with our family, including our grandson Micah. The fishing pier now has a casual, open air restaurant that offers simple but satisfying fare.
Micah found these curly fries to his liking and sat still for a few minutes to enjoy them.
Grandpa found this trip to his liking but had to leave yesterday to return to Illinois and work. Grandma is staying in Florida for a few more weeks, just in case the next storms queuing up in the Atlantic decide to pay us a visit. The storm shutters are close at hand to be put up if need be, and the pantry shelves are stocked with necessary supplies in case of a power outage.
Sunday evening Sarah and I fixed homemade pizza, and we had a little party to celebrate Sarah's, my, and Alan's birthdays, all of which occur in late August and September. I guess winter was a fertile time for some people in our family.
Sarah is already teaching Micah some basic chords on the guitar. He seems fascinated by what some strings on a piece of wood can do.
Grandma Martha helps Micah follow in his daddy's footsteps.
After everybody went home for the evening, Grandpa relaxed on the floor with Miss Kitty and Peanut. They miss him already. We all do.
And this is what happened with these shields, when grandpapa came to the town. He told it me himself, and he hadn't "a rogue on his back," as mother used to tell me he had when he wanted to make me believe something outrageous, for now he looked quite trustworthy. The first night after he came to the town had been signalized by the most terrible gale ever recorded in the newspapers, a gale such as none of the inhabitants had ever before experienced. The air was dark with flying tiles; old wood-work crashed and fell; and a wheelbarrow ran up the street all alone, only to get out of the way. There was a groaning in the air, and a howling and a shrieking, and altogether it was a terrible storm...The barber's shield, the great brazen dish, was carried away, and hurled straight into the embrasure of the councillor of justice; and the whole neighborhood said this looked almost like malice, inasmuch as they, and nearly all the friends of the councillor's wife, used to call that lady "the Razor," for she was so sharp that she knew more about other people's business than they knew about it themselves...The inscription "Institution for Superior Education" was found near the billiard club, which place of resort was further adorned with the words "Children brought up by hand." Now, this was not at all witty; but, you see, the storm had done it, and no one has any control over that...The poor people in the town, and still more the strangers, were continually making mistakes in the people they wanted to see; nor was this to be avoided, when they went according to the shields that were hung up. Thus, for instance, some who wanted to go to a very grave assembly of elderly men, where important affairs were to be discussed, found themselves in a noisy boys' school, where all of the company were leaping over the chairs and tables. There were also people who made a mistake between the church and the theatre, and that was terrible indeed! Such a storm we have never witnessed in our day; for that only happened in grandpapa's time, when he was quite a little boy. Perhaps we shall never experience a storm of the kind, but our grandchildren may; and we can only hope and pray that all may stay at home while the storm is moving the shields.