Saturday, March 28, 2015

Got snow?

Here's how they get rid of piles of snow
on Daley Plaza.

Under the watchful eyes
of the Picasso,

the snow is scooped...

and dropped into the handy bin...

 ...where it is melted under the supervision of city employees.
The water is sent into the storm sewer system.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Spring Signage

On this beautiful first full day of spring...

...more opportunities to hang laundry 
(I think there were only 3 days over the winter
when my need to do laundry coincided with
dry and sunny weather)

Oscar is my helper.

Scilla emerges.

Scilla are the first sign of spring in my parents' yard.  
I remember loving them as a kid, 
and that enthusiasm hasn't left me.
But I miss my old garden with multiple harbingers of spring - 
Why didn't I think last fall to plant spring bulbs here?

The anise magnolia is still keeping its secrets to itself.

No sign yet of a bud ready to open
but there are promises of hundreds of blooms to come.

D'oh!  The first dandelion.

And invasive garlic mustard.

Note to self: remove that label from the banana peel!

The snow has finally melted,
so I can now set up a compost pile.

I learned recently that egg cartons, cereal boxes, 
and other paper products near the end of their useful recycling life 
can be added to the compost pile as a "brown" source 
if there are no autumn leaves available. 

During most of the twenty-seven years at my old house,
we had a compost pile.

I didn't realize how much it would gnaw away at me
to not have one once I moved in with my parents.

 One slightly comforting thing in the meantime 
has been getting food scrap collection
put in place at our Chicago office as of January.

It's requiring more education and continual feedback
with my work colleagues than I expected,
but it's worth doing to keep food waste out of landfill, 
which keeps our air cleaner by avoiding the production
of methane gas that results when food is buried in landfills.  

Monday, February 16, 2015

Forcing spring

Magnolia salicifolia
Anise Magnolia

I've forced forsythia branches.

I've even dug up lily of the valley pips during a January thaw

But magnolia was an unknown.

While the snow continues to pile up,
warmth and water and several weeks of patience...

...reveal the unfurling of petals
of a cut branch of magnolia.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

My Valentine, remembered

The year of our courtship was 1988, 

before home emails, Skype, 
inexpensive international calling, text messaging, 
and all the rest of the advances in communications technology 
that today smooth the way for long distance romances.

We did have email at the global firm where we were employed 
(on different sides of the Atlantic), 
but it was cumbersome and, 
in Gerrit's case, was managed by his secretary.
Before we announced our engagement, 
our courtship was kept secret from our workmates and families.
So we developed a secret code when communicating by business email:
any use of a superlative meant "I love you."
His secretary would send the emails he composed:
"The meeting yesterday with the client was excellent."
And I and the other addressees on the email 
would know that it was an excellent meeting,
but only I would know that Gerrit loved me.

At the time, the Netherlands phone system was a monopoly, 
and the cost of a long distance phone call was about four times the price 
if he called me instead of me calling him. 
So if he wanted to talk, he called and we immediately hung up
so I could call him back.
This was also before the five cent a minute international calls,
so it was still a very expensive communications tool.
But oh so appreciated.

Letter writing comprised much of our correspondence; 
I'm grateful to be able to hold in my hand all the letters he wrote.

I wrote the post below in 2008, 
four years into Gerrit's diagnosis of vascular dementia
and four and a half years before he died.
I wouldn't wish him another minute of the very compromised life
he had been reduced to, but I miss him very much.


February 14, 2008
Ours was a long distance courtship.
We lived in different countries.
He wrote from wherever he was traveling.

Our phone bills were astronomical.

We wrote to each other a lot.

I looked forward to seeing her smiling face in my mailbox.

Included in the letters was G’s first attempt at a Valentine.
He was on a business trip to Portugal.

“No Valentines to be found anywhere over here,” he wrote.

“Personally I have no experience
with this piece of American culture.”

“I don’t know whether such cards should be
funny or romantic or what?”

“I hope that you will forgive me sending you
most probably
the most misplaced Valentine card ever,
but remember it comes straight from my heart.”

How could I resist?

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Kids' Crafts

This one entertained the thirty-somethings on Christmas Eve.

An IKEA kit for the house, 
and royal icing made from scratch, 
plus a raid on the pantry that produced the candies, sprinkles,
and pretzel squares.

All ready for the rest of the arriving family this morning.

We were impressed!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Mission accomplished

The annual wreath 
constructed by my dad 
from greens gathered from the yard 
by my mom and me, 
hung on the chimney with care.

Aren't they cute?

Aren't I lucky?

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Adding élan

My mom and I decided one of the gardens needed 
something extra.

For a new garden, it's doing pretty well with mostly transplants 
from family members' gardens:
Shasta daisies, 
another daisy that flowers early and then self seeds like crazy, 
purple loosestrife, 
tradescantia, wood aster, chives,
garlic chives, 
which also self seed like crazy,
 blue columbine and a number of different  hostas.

And a couple of purchased plants: 
a Knock Out Rose that sometimes gets eaten by the deer 
(but so far so good this year) 
and some heuchera that don't have much to show
in the way of flowers.

We were in town this morning, going to the library's book sale, 
and saw a great display of Russian sage in the library's garden.

I told my mom - that would be a great addition to our garden, 
and the deer don't like it.

Late this afternoon we went to the local nursery 
to buy a Russian sage. 
As we got out of the car, 
we passed a woman pulling a wagon full of plants. 
One of the plants stopped us in our tracks: 
a yellow coneflower.

So guess what we came home with.

Makes a nice pairing, don't you think?

We also bought a daylily called Cosmopolitan.  
There were several with blooms, 
but the pot that had the most plant in it 
(which we figured we could divide into 3 when transplanting)
had no blooms, so I don't have a flower to show you.

But here's the description:
miniature, rosy-red round blooms, 
excellent bud count, 
very floriferous,
a bit of fragrance and reblooming.

Very floriferous!
Doesn't that make your heart sing?