Friday, June 28, 2013

Be Cool

Best wishes for a cool weekend,
wherever you may be ...

[Ravennaside Fountain, Natchez, Mississippi]

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Five Little Vincas All in a Row

This is a continuation of an exciting story about a "make over" of an overgrown flowerbed surrounding the waterfall in our courtyard (if you would like to read the fascinating details from the beginning before reading this post, you can click here: Dog Days of Summer).  

The following pictures show the flowerbed before I cleaned it out ...

It was a tangled mass of lantana plants that had taken on the characteristics of kudzu and was strangling everything in sight.

In an attempt to make it look like someone lives in our house, and to make the flowerbed less "snaky," I pulled up the unsightly lantana plants and transplanted them to a flowerbed in our backyard where they have plenty of growing room.  Although less "snaky" looking, I thought the flowerbed looked rather empty without the lantana, and, well ... boring, for lack of a better word.

I decided it needed some color, but it had to be plants that could tolerate our soon-to-be 100-plus degree temperatures ... and zinnias were the first thing that came to mind.  Since Home Depot is close by, I decided I would begin my zinnia quest there.  Unfortunately, there were no zinnias to be found, but as I walked down one of the aisles, I could have sworn that I heard someone, or some thing, calling my name.  And then I saw them ... five of the prettiest little red Vinca plants you've ever seen ... all in a row ... and practically quivering with excitement, as if they had been waiting for me to come along and take them home with me.  And, of course, I did!

Their tag promises that they can withstand six hours or more of sun ...

So, hopefully, they will do well in their new home ...

I wish they were bigger, but at least they add a little color to the flowerbed, and, who knows ... perhaps in a couple of weeks I'll write a post beginning with the words, "Remember the little red Vincas planted all in a row?  Well, look at them now!"

[Above photo is of some vinca I planted in the same flowerbed five years ago]

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Rest in Peace

When your plants make you frown instead of smile, you know it's time to "recycle" them.  This hanging basket of double Impatiens was gorgeous when I brought it home around the first of April ... and it made me smile a lot. 

It bloomed profusely, and seemed to be very happy in its shady new home.

But "fast forward" a couple of months later ...
and this is what it looked like this sultry June morning.

Pretty sad, isn't it.  Our Mississippi heat took its toll on it ... and, bless its heart, I wasn't smiling anymore when I looked at it.

This morning, I put both of us out of our misery and tossed it in the trash. I know that sounds harsh and cruel, but before I tossed it, I cut a few of the surviving blooms and made a little bouquet for our porch table ...

And, you know what ...
it made me smile one more time, so all was not lost.

Rest in Peace, little Impatiens plant.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Dog Days of Summer

Even though we're just a few days into summer, according to the calendar, anyway, our Mississippi thermometers have been registering in the upper 90s, with heat indexes rising above the 100-degree mark.  

The sultry "Dog Days of Summer," which normally occur in July and August, have already taken a toll on the flowers I planted around our waterfall in the Spring.

I planted lavender Lantana, and they were pretty at first, as you can see in the bottom left of the picture below ... (notice the little plant on the right of the path beside the "Peace" sign, too).

But the lantana quickly became "leggy," and literally took over the flowerbed, strangling the variegated liriope that were scattered amongst them.

Then, they quit blooming, and the flowerbed became a tangled mass and looked "snaky" and neglected.

Everything looked faded and tired, and when I looked at them, they made ME feel faded and tired, too (like these Snapdragons planted in our courtyard) ... not a pretty sight, huh?

Poor Snaps!

Ahhh ... that's better!  I need to get another Hosta to fill in that empty space.

Remember the little lantana plant beside the "Peace Sign?"
Well, needless to say, it grew, too ... almost covering the sign and stepping stones.

This pale yellow lantana plant is a remnant from last summer.  I was so pleased to see it when it first appeared, but, it, too, quickly took on the personality of kudzu and began to cover up the stone path leading to the waterfall ...


We've had an occasional snake check out our pond, and not being able to see where we're stepping is just not an option, especially when our grandchildren are visiting.  So, over the weekend, I decided enough is enough!

I pulled up the lavender lantana ...

And could actually see the liriope ...

And my Peace Sign ...

Then I cut back the yellow lantana ...

And now we can walk up to the waterfall, without worrying about undesirable critters lurking under overgrown flowers.


I think it looks much better now, but I'm not sure I like the mostly "green" look.  Actually, it's kind of boring. The only color I have left is the yellow lantana and some gold lantana planted in the urn.

I thought about replacing it, but it has lots of buds on it and will bloom again soon ...

At least it looks like someone lives here now, instead of looking so wild and bedraggled.  I may add some zinnias for color, if I can find some (like the ones shown in my header picture above, which was taken a couple of summers ago). 

Oh, and in case you're wondering about the lantana that I pulled up ... well, it appears to be happy in its new home -- a flowerbed in our backyard.  It will have room to roam and, hopefully, will bloom again.

And speaking of blooming ... remember our "happy little tomato patch" that I wrote about a few weeks ago?  If you missed that story, you can click here to read about them.

The plants are thriving and we have 13 little green tomatoes!

I'm going to go in search of zinnias later today ... or some other colorful, heat-tolerant flowers, and will post "after" pictures if my search is successful.

I hope you are enjoying the first days of summer where you live.  Hopefully, it's not as hot as it is here in Mississippi!

To be continued ...

Friday, June 21, 2013

The Good Old Summertime

Today is officially the first day of summer.

The summer days of my childhood seemed to stretch endlessly before me ... a magical time that my brothers and my best friend Sharron and I filled with PLAYING ... almost literally, from daylight to after dark.  And we really PLAYED ... OUTSIDE ... in primitively-built tree houses and "forts" and in "secret clubhouses" built in ditches and shared with spiders and bees and no-telling-what-kind of critters and creatures we didn't know were there.  Those Louisiana summers were hot and humid, unbearably so at times, but we didn't care.  It was summertime!

About mid-morning, Mama would call us to the back door for a snack and Kool Aid, and then back we'd go ... to our hideouts and the world of Roy and Dale and Trigger and Bullet ... fighting the bad guys and always winning.  At noon we would go in and get cleaned up (sometimes that required baths) and eat lunch, then rest for a while.  We didn't have to take a nap, but we had to go to our rooms and rest.  It seems like our "rest time" mostly consisted of asking Mama over and over again if it was time to get up yet.  We couldn't wait to get back outside to play.

Our afternoons were usually spent playing in the hose or in a little plastic pool, or "performing" acrobatic tricks on our swing set, which was literally just that ... three swings!  No fancy molded plastic playhouse with attached swings and teeter-totter, "monkey bars," or slides ... but we did have a wonderful seesaw that Daddy built for us, and we spent many a happy hour on that old seesaw, sometimes all four of us at one time, balancing our weight so we could go up and down without stranding two of us in the air with dangling legs.

We also built "villages" in the dirt, or in our sandbox.  We had little rubber Woolworth cars that made wonderful roads and we'd add grass and flowers for trees ... and drew our "houses" in the dirt, our "village" limited only by our imaginations.  I can't imagine how many "mudpies" and "cakes" and sandcastles were made in that old sandbox, too.

Sometimes we were allowed to play outside after supper, and that's when we played hide-and-seek, all over the neighborhood, until it was too dark to see, or until the mosquitoes came out ... whichever came first.

On rainy days, we played inside ... playing games or making countless pot holders on those little metal looms.  We had big plans to sell them to the neighbors, but, of course, that didn't work out because the neighbors' children were busily making their own pot holders to sell to OUR mama.

Every couple of weeks Mama would take us to the library and we got to check out books.  The library was in a wonderful old house near downtown, and, for me, it was a magical place filled with to-the-ceiling bookshelves and little child-size chairs and tables and the smell of old books. I seem to remember the windows being open to let the morning breezes in, and the library's resident cat wandering amongst the bookshelves and sunning himself on the worn wooden floors.  The books had library cards tucked in the front cover and we had to print our names on the card and the librarian would stamp the date when the book was due to turn in. I wonder if libraries still do that these days ... I would like to think so.

Another sweet memory from my childhood summers is shelling peas ... BUSHELS of peas that my grandfather brought us straight from his garden in the country.  I remember getting together with aunts and uncles and my grandparents and everyone sitting in a circle with the bushels of peas in the center ... their purple-stained hands rapidly shelling as they visited and probably reminisced about their childhood summers.  Shelling peas was a social occasion which sometimes turned into a potluck dinner, complete with homegrown tomatoes as big as saucers, purple hull PEAS, corn on the cob fresh from the garden, and the best summer treat of all -- WATERMELON!

Those were such simple, happy days ... when toys didn't need batteries to work ... and you held real books in your lap to read them instead of holding a Kindle, or sitting in a trance in front of a computer screen.  We didn't wake up in the mornings and tell our mamas that we were "bored," or ask what we could do (she'd have probably handed us a basket of peas to shell!) ... we just went outside and PLAYED.

We thought summertime and its magic would last forever ... and I guess it will, in our memories, anyway.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Imprints on the Heart

They alight from the car in a flurry of hugs and kisses ... their long awaited visit finally here.  We try to pack a week's worth of fun and memory-making into just two short days ... doting grandparents and loving great-grandparents ... waiting our turn to get our hands on them.   We cherish every minute ... knowing that, all too soon, the time will come when, after more hugs and kisses, they'll be strapped into their car seats again to go home ... our granddaughter Avery Grace, who is eight, already looking forward to seeing her friends at home, and our toddler grandson Maddox, solemnly looking at me with his big brown eyes searching my face, as if to ask, "Aren't you going, too, GrandMama?"

With little hands waving 'bye,' they leave us ... with their sweet little faces and spirits and the memories and laughter of the weekend imprinted on our hearts.  And as I walk in the house ... the oh, so quiet house ... I see sticky little baby fingerprints on the glass of the door.  I can't bear to wash them off ... and leave them as a reminder of the wonder and pure joy of these two precious grandchildren God has given us.


May He watch over them and keep them close all the days of their lives.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

A Father's Day Message

May this very special Father's Day weekend be filled
with sweet memories and sweet-memories-in-the-making.

I'm looking forward to spending it with my sweet dad, and I have no words
that can adequately express my love, gratitude, and admiration for him.

I thank God every day for blessing my life with the wonderful, awe-inspiring man I call "Daddy."