Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Friends, Happiness, Cats and Violets

Here is a darling card I received from Diane, Diane Wants to Write a long time blog friend and penpal, it came all the way from the Philippines. The African violets are from Wei, a friend in town, and she moved here all the way from China when she was a college student.
The card says "Do one thing every day that makes you happy." I am always on the look out for those things. The card itself does that for me. I am going to buy a frame for it, it is 5 1/2 by 5 1/2 inches. Actually I might frame all 4 cards from Diane, they would look cheery hanging as a group on a wall.
Now I will look up how to care for African violets. I love that color! I think it will thrive with my orchids near my patio doors. The light is from the east, and I will set the pot in water for an hour once a week with a bit of plant food until the soil feels damp. If you have better African violet care tips let me know please.
Here are two more cheery cards from Diane:
The card with the bear says "Do small things with great love." I recall reading that Mother Theresa said this.
The following card from Diane arrived today, it is funny and I added it right now.

I like having fun reminders around my house that give me smiles. Violets and cards from friends, that will do it.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

My brilliant red Cantua flowers from Chile

This bush is my fifteen year old Cantua, which is a popular plant in Chile. My shrub is about 6 feet tall, and my friend who moved here from Chile told me that a Cantua at her home there reached her second story bedroom window. The flowers form only on the tips of the branches.
Like me, do you collect quotes? Garden quotes are favorites of mine and I have several books of them.
"Flowers are heaven's masterpieces." -- Dorothy Parker
"See nature, and through her, God.." -- Henry David Thoreau.  My dear uncle Leroy Pelkin introduced me to reading Thoreau and Emerson beginning when I was a child of perhaps ten.
I still have some old hardcover books by Thoreau and Emerson, printed about 1906, that Uncle Leroy gave me.

"Flowers are our greatest silent friends." -- Jim G. Brown
"The man who has planted a garden feels that he has done something for the good of the whole world." -- Charles Dudley Warner. I agree, she or he has done something good to benefit all of us.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Thank you friends and family for my birthday celebrations

Here is a photo of me on the patio of a favorite restaurant on April 23. Notice the two gifts of purple plants, my hat and the purple bag, I do love that color. My birthday was on April 25 and friends and family near and far have helped me celebrate. On the day of the photo we went to a restaurant that serves Mediterranean food with an Afghan twist. I had my usual spinach bolani and Maush awa soup with lamb. Sunday (today) my sons treated me to wonderful grilled seafood in a restaurant on the wharf.
Because there was a free jazz concert on the wharf we knew parking would be limited/impossible so I tried Uber for the first time and it worked very well. They picked us up at my house and delivered us back home.
My sons gave me the 23andme Ancestry package, a complete surprise. What secrets will it reveal? I will let you in on the results in future.I hear it take two weeks to get the results after I send in the sample.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

The Ravenmaster: My Life with the Ravens at the Tower of London

This is the book to read if you like ravens, birds in general, English history, memoirs by people who live interesting lives, London or the Tower of London. Skaife makes the ravens sound fascinating, they have strong personalities, each one different, and his job as official Ravenmaster is rather all consuming.
Skaife and his wife and daughter live on the Tower grounds. His title is Yeoman Warder of Her Majesty's Royal Palace and Fortress the Tower of London. The hardcover edition has lots of color photographs.
Legend has it that if all the ravens leave the Tower of London, England will fall. Seven ravens live in the Tower today, and they could fly away so Skaife designs their lives so that they want to stay.
He weaves in a few ghost stories and history. Quite a few famous people were executed there including King Henry VIII's wife, Queen Anne Boleyn.
I enjoyed reading this book, and then found a TV documentary series called The Tower, and Christopher Skaife is in the series, which I also recommend.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Spring Flowers and Book Discussion Group I Joined

Above is a close up of my Apple Blossom Clematis, an evergreen type that I planted as a 2 foot tall sprig two years ago. It has quickly grown to  6 feet tall and then over the fence, plus about 8 feet wide along the fence and has a delicate apple scent. The white flowers are the clematis, and the yellow flowers are Yellow Clock Vine. I ordered the clematis from a catalog, they are more rare than the clematis that lose their leaves, which I also have.
Above is my Red Star Magnolia, also about 2 years old. It was about seven feet tall when planted. I think red magnolias are found a little less often than white. Star Magnolias are noted to be smaller than other magnolias, and often reach only 12 to 15 feet tall so are a great size tree when you don't want it to dominate your garden, size wise. I am thinking perhaps this is NOT a star magnolia because of the flower shape. The trees I had planted by a landscaper had ID tags on them, and when I went out to write down the details, a worker had taken off the tags and thrown them out, which irked me!
Above is a handsome red camellia in bloom at my church. We have many of these growing there, maybe fifty. Maybe I will count them someday. I am having a landscaper plant 3 camellias in my back yard, in 3 half oak barrels. I don't know when yet, we have to choose a schedule. He is also going to create a 100 square foot flagstone patio in my front yard for a sitting area that faces west, a nice place to sit in the afternoon or evening, and has a view of the sunset.
Above is a bouquet of orange tulips I bought, they sing of spring to me.
Do you sometimes want to do something different, to add something to your activities?
I heard about a Book Discussion Group held in a city recreation center, all are welcome and it is for people age 45 plus. That is me! Sorry for those younger folks, maybe you could sneak in, ha ha.
I went for the first time this week and the next book we are reading is "Daughter of Fortune" by Isabelle Allende. I started reading it right away and like it thus far.
At each meeting we vote on the next book to read, and choose books available as book kits from the library, so we don't need to buy the books. Nineteen ladies and one man attended, and each person has about two minutes to say what they like or dislike about the book.
Earlier they read two books I love: "Bel Canto" by Ann Patchett and "The Year of Magical Thinking" by Joan Didion.
To answer two questions left in comments, we meet in a building owned by the city, not in people's homes, and no refreshments are served. Since the meeting was only for one hour, the time flew by.
Happy reading and gardening this spring to you all.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Cypress tree, bay, antique mail box, cactus I saw on my walk

I saw this antique mailbox in my neighbor's yard today, as I walked to see the bay with Bounce.

Looking to the left I see these cypress trees, above.
To my right when facing the bay I see these powerful waves and the cliffs. I love these clouds.
Above is a succulent sitting on top of a pot which reminds me of a barrel cactus, so the succulent looks like it is growing out of a huge stem. There are lots of cactus in this neighbor's garden.

Friday, March 15, 2019

I baked scones, yes, I really did

I made delicious lemon ginger scones. I baked scones. Me! Why is this noteworthy? Well, I have pretty much stopped baking since our sons became adults and moved out,  since recipes are always for large amounts, like for a whole cake, pie or a dozen cookies. That adds up to too much temptation and too many calories. Also for years I have cut way back on eating white flour and sugar. But I got inspired by my friend who bakes scones and I found this mix at a local coffee shop and bakery.
The second photo shows the scones before I baked them. I like the brand Iveta because they have a dozen or more flavors and their scones only have 4 g of sugar per scone. I was recently given scone mix of a different brand that has 8 g of sugar per serving. So I prefer 4 g to 8. Next baking for me will be the blueberry scone mix I was given. Recommended guidelines for amount of sugar per day for women vary, but the average recommended amount is 36 g. Some yogurt has 30 g for one serving, so it adds up quickly. It turns out that scones freeze nicely so I can invite a friend for coffee and scones, send one or two scones home with her, and freeze any left over. Do you like my plan?