Monday, May 10, 2021

That Time of Year!


In case you've been wondering where I've been (besides recovering from our unfortunate highway incident!) take a look at the following pictures; they explain a lot! And ol' Trusty the Accord may not be the biggest car in the world, but boy can I pack the plants into him! (*1)

That's just yesterday's haul above. Our good friend Bob the plant guru called and asked if I'd like to go shopping with him. YES! was my resounding answer. Off we went... visiting a total of six nurseries and garden centers, spread out over quite a state-wide are. This was doubly an interesting day because it was the first time since last fall that I'd even seen one of our friends in person, due to COVID. Now that we're all vaccinated, in-person visitation is possible... without masks! Up close! Yay!!! (*2)

Bob and I are such plant geeks that we play "stump the stars" and often confuse even the employees at nurseries with inquires about what that one unlabelled plant is. Yesterday was no exception. The owner of the first nursery we stopped at noticed us perusing his "unusual" plant corner. "I'll give you this plant for free", he crowed, "...if you can identify it!" Of course we did, as it proved to be a Mukdenia (a member of the saxifrage family). I got the freebie as Bob already had a Mukdenia in his collection.

Bob's car was so stuffed full of greenery by the fourth stop that we went by my car, parked in a commuter lot and off-loaded the first haul. Then on to more nurseries!!

Look at this giant agave! It's big and blue and spiky! Love those exotics!

And a charming assortment of individuals for our containers! there's Bacopa and Angelonia and Calibrachoa and Spilanthes! I get goose bumps thinking of all my new friends! Interestingly, there seems to be a pink component to my selections this year; my palette does shift a bit seasonally.

I also have these plants from my first solo trip out last week- a couple of great Coleus and even a tri-colored Plectranthus! 

And how could I forget to mention the seeds I started myself?


Yes, Nasturtiums and Zinnia... See? I have been busy and this isn't even counting the plants tat Bob gave to me or that my friend Elanah sent! So many plants, so little time!

(*1) And yes, Beatrice and John. I carefully cover Trusty's seats in plastic before attempting to stuff him full of horticultural delights.

(*2) But it was weird, too! I haven't been in any other person's car in so long... except for that ride in the police car!

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Bob 'n' Rita's Awful Adventure

                                                    Trees wrapped in red fabric with white polka dots. More unwrapped trees and bushes can be seen in the background. 

Well, that's what we were supposed to be seeing last Tuesday at The New York Botanical Garden! The amazing and inspiring polka-dot vision of Yayoi Kusama. A "funny" thing happened on the way to the Botanic Garden...

And it was such a perfect day! Warm and sunny; we were cruising down Route 684 (with a load of Bob's now famous peony rings to be delivered to the Botanical Garden), merging onto the Hutchinson River Parkway when POW!!! there was a huge boom. Don't ask me how Bob carefully steered the truck onto the highway edge as he had little control. The only thing that really saved us from a huge pile up was that traffic had slowed to a crawl at the merge. We both thought "flat tire" but when I carefully crawled out of the passenger door and peered around all sides of the truck, no flat was to be seen. I called AAA.

(That's my jacket on the highway rail.) The cars are zooming past us at a million miles an hour, I'm trying to hear what AAA is telling me and I'm this close to having a major meltdown. All I can decipher is: 1.) Because of COVID, you can't ride with the tow truck operator in the cab so you'd better call an Uber or a Lyft 2.) I've been connected to the police (!?!?!) in Westchester and 3.) come to find out that the Hutch is a "private" road, owned by the State of New York and they don't allow just any old tow trucks on it. There is only one contracted tow company. (Mob connections anyone?)

So now we're waiting for a police person (*1) and a tow truck and wondering WTF we're going to do. The police man shows up and is perfectly nice and sympathetic. When I ask him if we're going to be abandoned at the side of this busy highway he says no, he'll give us a ride to a train station or the towing place or a car rental office. We opt for the car rental as I have no idea how to hail an Uber.

 After the tow truck driver arrives, he says we can have the truck pulled off the highway and "dropped" (like somewhere random at the side of some road) or taken to the tow place in New Rochelle. We've been assured that AAA reimburses us for this tow. Okay take it there, we'll have AAA pick it up and tow it to the garage we use in Connecticut. The police officer delivers us to the Enterprise car rental company-  it's my first ever ride in a police car! and he's driving at like a zillion miles and weaving in and out of traffic. We're all smooshed in the (very hard!) back seat and Bob points out there's no handles on the door; I guess so that we couldn't get out if we were criminals. We do get to the car rental and surprisingly, this goes without a hitch. They rent us a vehicle remarkably like our broken one: a red truck. (This encounter has a moment of levity when Bob and I prepare to drive home in said rental truck but we can't figure out how to operate it it. There's no shift lever. I go back into the rental office to explain that we're beyond old school, drive standard shifts and have (ahem) absolutely no idea how to get the car moving. (I'm sure they had a good laugh at our expense!)

Bob driving rental truck. We were afraid to touch anything as it was all computerized and foreign. I finally stopped shaking and drooling and yes, we made it home. Then began my several hour, truly Byzantine effort to get the damned truck back.

(This was affixed to the dashboard. Don't ask me why but I became fixated on reading it over and over and over again. I guess I was nervous enough to think maybe Clorox could wipe away our truck troubles! So I took a nonsense photo...)

 A funny detail is that we thought to call the Botanical Garden and offer that they could pick up the peony rings (which they really wanted/needed as they'd already been sold!) at the tow place in New Rochelle. They actually went and got them so at least that part of our mission was accomplished! (*2) 

Anyway, I call AAA and try (key word) to get them to say simply, "Yes, we'll tow your truck" but there's the small obstacle that we're here and the truck is there and there's the tow fee that needs to be paid. So I call Safeway Towing and the gentleman (who sounds like Tony Soprano) says, "We don't accept credit cards over the phone no more. It's gotta be paid in person in cash or a credit card." He says, "Make arrangements." We tried everything... why did I think that AAA would simply cover that $200 and I'd reimburse them with a credit card? Sounds simple? Nope. Their suggestion was that we drive back down to New Rochelle (!!??!?!!?!) and pay the fee. (*3) So I recall Safeway, talk to another (very nice) guy who tells me to find out which local garage is going to tow the truck and "make arrangements" with them. I finally did find out that C & C in New Rochelle would pick up the truck. But AAA didn't seem to "get" that the lovely woman at C & C had AGREED to front the $200 tow charge and we'd reimburse them here in Connecticut. (*4) This took several hours on the phone with the totally unhelpful AAA woman continuously insisting that she was NOT a supervisor and could never approve this. I repeatedly said that AAA was not even involved- except for scheduling the call to C & C and could I please talk to a supervisor?!??!!?!?!? 

Finally I got a more informed supervisor (Greg) who straightened everything all out in one quick phone call to C & C. Our truck was released and got a ride home to Southbury on the back of a truck. Bob met the driver at our garage, gave him the $200 and that was that!

We spent the evening admiring our own Botanical Garden, complete with flowering Magnolias and sculpture, courtesy of Bob. But we were spent! Drained! But yes! Glad to be home, safe and having- in an odd way- completed our initial mission. The truck is still awaiting repair. Apparently, the entire back end sort of blew up! (*5)

(*1) Hate to say it, but both Bob and I turned to one another and said, "I guess I'm glad we're not Black" because after all the nightmare stories of Black citizens being shot when pulled over for minor things, we realized how much safer we are being White. Sad, isn't it?

(*2) Funny how this part came off without a hitch. The two guys sent from the Botanical Garden simply drove up and transferred the metal work from our truck to theirs. I was sure that the towing company would say something like, "We can't release any property from your vehicle without written permission." But they just let the work go. Surprising.

(*3) Does that make sense to anyone??!?

(*4) Blessing on the lovely woman at C & C who said they'd do this; all we had to do was meet the tow driver at our local garage and give him $200. AAA made so much complication and this woman just cut through the crap!!! And she told me I wasn't the only one having trouble with AAA.

(*5) And I have some questions for AAA: we have a "gold", upgraded plan with 100 miles of towing and we still couldn't get towed? Please send us a list of roads that you do service so we can avoid the limited service roads in the future! And it didn't help that one "supervisor" that I talked to LAUGHED at me when I suggested I pay AAA with my credit card and they have their driver pay the tow company. I was furious as well as incredulous. "You're LAUGHING?"I said, "I'm entirely stressed, our trucks somewhere in New Rochelle and we're in Connecticut and you think this is FUNNY!??!" Talk about lack of empathy! I always had such good experiences with AAA but this trip prompted a different response from me. Corporate, unimaginative and really unhelpful!

Monday, April 19, 2021

Vaccinated I am!


Yay! I am fully vaccinated and I'm glad. Not that I feel like I/we can let our mutual guards down; there are variants, unknowns and stupid behaviors out there! But I do feel much better knowing that I will probably not get as sick or die and I can actually begin to see family and friends who are also on the vaccination train. And not a moment to soon.

And speaking of feeling better, thank you for asking. While my second dose experience wasn't as bad as some, I didn't feel like my typical chipper self. Many friends had reported semi-debilitating second shot side effects from Moderna including (but not limited to) 36 hours of general awfulness to lying in bed drooling for ten hours. I suffered a mild headache, some body aches and chills and spent the day in bed doing crossword puzzles and reading our most recent New Yorker from cover to cover. (*1) Not bad and certainly worth the end result: protection against a truly nasty virus!

And here's a bonus picture:

This is a detail shot of the Rhododendron lurking under that bedspread in my last blog posting. The central section is rewarding my vigilance with lovely pinky-purple flowers and the rest will probably come out today, as it's warm and sunny. On with the spring!

(*1) So at one point, when I had ventured outside to check on the horses and allow Robin the Good a brief respite from attending to me, I debated walking to the mailbox to retrieve the previous day's mail. We do have a very long driveway but I was game. I got to our peach tree and realized that if I were to proceed further, I would most likely not make it back. I saw me in a pathetic, crumpled, damp heap, awaiting discovery by a passing Good Samaritan. I retreated to bed!

Saturday, April 17, 2021

Hooray for Spring (I think)


The Forsythia is blooming so it must be Spring! Yay! There are fabulous flowering events in all parts of our vast estate (hahahaha!) and after a pandemically gloomy winter, this brings happiness and relief. The beautiful Forsythia seen above was a gift from our friends Sheldon and Louise, years ago, I think during our first Spring here. Bob and I are so thrilled to see it explode and spread golden light. 

And look:

Another Spring charmer, erupting by the vegetable garden. This Prunus tomentosa was a gift from our friend Bob who is a horticultural dervish and can propagate almost anything from seed or cutting. You've gotta love the effusiveness of vernal blooms!

And here's another unexpected site in our Spring-time garden tour: Rhododendron prostratus "Bedspreadus".

Oh no! What happened to Spring?!?!? Bob comes in to tell me that it's (gasp!) hailing outside. (They even predicted snow overnight, but we dodged that occurrence, unlike some unlucky friends to the north. Ugh.) I gathered several sheets and covered our Rhododendron "PJM" as last year- just as it was starting to flower, we experienced a cold snap and all the blossoms died. I was so bummed! Having waited an entire year, I wasn't chancing snow/hail/sleet/frost or any other vile reminder of Winter past! I'm glad I covered this shrub as this morning an unveiling showed undamaged flowers... bring back that warm weather!

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Loser's Club Revisited!


So much for "hunches"and feelings of certainty! I was so sure that that above masterpiece, "Quilt of Exhaustion", was going to get selected for inclusion in a "modern" quilt show, that I even had a box picked out to mail it in! And then I receive the dreaded "not invited" email. ("Not invited"??!??! It's like be excluded from some popular kid's birthday party! They used to reject us, then they not accepted us, then they declined us. Now we're "not invited". Hahhahaha!)

And what's not to love about that piece above? It has poop emoji/Phillip Guston inspired font, actual batting sandwiched between two snuggly flannel layers, millions of small thread tacks affixing front to back (and I have the pierced fingers to prove it!) and it has almost 200 hand-tied recycled plastic baling twine fringes!!! (Like almost 200 feet of baling twine, lovingly knotted into prickly fringe!!) Haven't we all just been so tired of "winning" these last four years that we wanted to crawl back under the covers? This is a quilt of truth for our times!

Detail of the fringe:

Ironic, no, that the text reads "so tired of winning" and I didn't win. Sad! Artists put up with this sort of nonsense constantly: a friend suggested I apply, I do and feel totally confident and then comes rejection. The stupidest part is that they never tell you WHY you were "not invited". The least they could do if offer a brief explanation of their decision... like "puke-y colors! or "really dumb idea" or "don't quit your day job", or "What were you thinking??!"

I have a sneaking suspicion that I was rejected because my piece is (as usual) political and the show was in Indiana (not known for being a hot bed of radical leftist art. I mean Mike Pence is from there!) This is despite one of the jurors claiming to construct "political" quilts. Who knows!!

Anyway, win some, lose some and I am in another show coming up, so all is not lost! But Bob and I have dusted off our Loser's club tee shirts and are lifting a glass to future invitations.


Thursday, April 1, 2021

Two Big Ol' Holes


Here's Big Hole #1! Bob did a marvelous job of excavating a huge privet bush that was at the rear of my Blue Garden. He sledged and dredged and maddoxed and dug for several days... a little at a time. Out it came and now we have a giant hole. 

Here's Robin the Good exploring said hole. I think she was contemplating burying one of her many treasures (odd bits of stick, ends of rawhide chews etc) but we have other plans. The idea is to move this Abelia mosanensis into the hole:

(Sorry about the lousy picture but the shrub is just a bunch of twigs right about now! And no, that is not a skull in the lower right; it's an entirely desiccated remains of a squash.) We're endlessly having to move things initially planted in the wrong spot- the plight of the gardener! The privet did act as a screen and hid us from view of our neighbors, but it wasn't a lovely specimen and it sent up baby privets all through my Blue Garden. Good riddance! The Abelia is covered in lovely white flowers in spring and it smells nice too boot. Plus it will quickly become every bit as large as that privet was. It will move all fifteen feet into it's new home (hole) after the full moon wanes a little.
And here's a find! This is not a hole per se, but what was once inside one of our horse's mouths now be a big hole! Yes, that's an equine tooth and most probably from our senior citizen horse Maggie. She doesn't have many teeth left to begin with (we feed her almost entirely pre-soaked foods) but there it was lying on the ground, right next to her grain dish. I'm not sure exactly what to do with it but maybe I can fashion a lovely bolo tie clasp out of it!

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Cookie Puss


Would ya look at that! This cookie greeted Bob and I after dinner one night. While it's totally funny to see a surprised cookie pop out of a package, it's a shame it didn't resemble Jesus... then we could be famous!

And speaking of cookies, here's another puzzle:

Whatever happened with all those monoliths that were popping up across the world? It had a brief run and poof! All gone. Well, I thought to keep the game going...