Wednesday, October 29, 2008



...that's the title of this post. Since I've not been in the habit of naming my posts, I'll have to explain this exception. Olio just happens to be one of my favorite words. One of many, it's true, but one that can often be manuevered into a sentence. This time it's perfectly appropriate for a title.

And that's because, as will soon become evident, I have no main topic for this posting. Nothing to exclaim and go on and on about. Expound. Rave. Story-tell. Just a small olio of thoughts.

I have an IPOD that I got for Christmas last year. In my technological inadequacy, I had put not the first song on this marvelous little music-holder. It was languishing in a drawer. But now! Within the previous week, and with assistance, I've managed to populate it with an impressive olio of music. I'm a procrastinator rejoicing in Cat Stevens and Mozart!

I've been to Obama headquarters several times already this week. Here's what I do: drive into the city, park in one of twenty designated parking places that have been donated by the owner of the lot, cross the street and enter the building which is now pretty familiar to me, go up the steps to the large room that shouts "Go, Obama!" It's filled with tables, mostly holding stacks of papers. Some hold computers and phones. I pick up a list of names with phone numbers, find an available phone and start dialing numbers, looking for the prize--an undecided voter! Seated around me there's usually an olio of fellow volunteers, a nice bouquet of age-race-gender. There's a loud babble of voices. "I'm a volunteer with the Obama-Biden campaign. I'm wondering if you've made a decision..."

In other news, I'm happy to report that we've had rain at least every two days since the planting of the baby trees. Good aspect: no need to figure out a way to transport eight gallons of water and give them a good watering. Bad aspect: too wet to take my walk. Good aspect: at least I have a good excuse for the non-exercise. Bad aspect: I'm not exercising my self-discipline. (You'll notice, however, I did say I'm "happy to report," which pretty much tells you how I feel about it overall!)

Sad to report that all of my flowers, with the exception of one pot of nasturtiums huddling under the porch, have followed the warm sunny days into extinction. Arrrgh. Bad aspect: It's cold. I am too old for cold. Good aspect:? you tell me!

I'd appreciate a whole olio of reasons!


Saturday, October 25, 2008


OKAY, I PROMISED TO introduce you to the fourth little tree that arrived Thursday morning.
But here it is, yesterday's tomorrow already. I did mention weekend guests, did I not? They arrived several hours ago and we have only now wrapped up our evening of catching up... and talking politics. (They are Canadian and very interested in and fascinated by the political and economic maelstrom in which the U.S. finds itself. Likely a little fearful, too, as they must share this continent with us, not to mention this world economy, no matter how large and deep the quagmire we produce.)

Therefore...instead of a lengthy post going into detail regarding the tree or the visitors or my view of the political situation (oh, you really want to hear that, don't you?!) or any number of things I could go on's just going to be this:

Please meet the Purple River Beech. I have high hopes for what I will reap from it. Nothing edible, but you could say that I plan to "drink it in"...that is, the form and grace of it...the loveliness and beauty. It already gives me great pleasure to look at it.

And now it is high time for me to not look at anything! To close my eyes and drift into dreamland, where Canadian visitors can run for president of this country and simultaneously run a campaign to plant fruit trees in the Himalayas while they blog about the beneficial aspects of utter nonsense.


Friday, October 24, 2008


I TUMBLED OUT of bed early this morning in order to go and oversee the installation of four new additions to what you might call my Tree Collection. When I prefaced my description of Sassy, the cat, with the remark that I've never been much of an animal lover, I could have told you then that I've always favored flora over fauna. Of course, if you've read many of the previous posts you've more than likely noticed my affinity for flowers. And shrubs. And then, of course, we have trees.

When my favorite nursery advertised free delivery and planting of any trees purchased, I couldn't resist. It's always been a dream of mine to have a little orchard. I figured that now was a good time to bring that dream to fruition (which seems a very appropriate word for this particular dream, don't you agree, Reader Dear?) Yes, I know fruit trees take a lot of attention. I'm aware that they have to be watered and sprayed and pruned and fussed over in numerous ways. But isn't there the possibility of rich rewards?

So are you curious what kind of fruit I'm going to be plucking off my trees next year? Am I rushing things with my expectations? I have a lot to learn about orchard husbandry. But I do know how to make introductions...

First to arrive (approximately 8:27 a.m.) the semi-dwarf pear tree, whose label was regrettably left in the delivery truck.

Soon to follow was the Espaliered* Apple...
(*this is a French word meaning "to throw out one's arms and say 'welcome to my fruit' "**)

I surely hate to play favorites, but....oh, my...espaliered! And four kinds of apples on one tree!
(I was practically jumping up and down in my glee!)

So then, thirdly, there is the semi-dwarf Balaton Cherry.

Now with all three of the fruit trees safely delivered into their beds, I will relax and report on tree baby number four, tomorrow.

**Yeah, I made it up. Actual meaning is: "trained to grow flat".  Ugh.  Sticking with my own definition.

(to be con't)...


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

THIS IS JUST an "in memorium" let you know that Jack did put in an appearance on the night before last (no, not the Ripper, though Mr. Frost plays him rather convincingly). Most of my pretty blossoms succumbed peacefully, although a few are still hanging on in guarded condition......guarded meaning they are still looking good enough that I may throw a flannel-backed tablecloth over them in a feeble attempt to get them through to the coming weekend. Likely, however, Jack doesn't care one iota that we are having overnight guests this Friday and Saturday. He may want to return every night until he has finished them off to the very last blossom, and then sit back and smirk.


It's 9:15 pm and 43 degrees. I'm going out there now. Perhaps my solicitude will not be in vain.


Sunday, October 19, 2008

TRY TO IMAGINE it is Saturday afternoon rather than 24 hours later...which shouldn't be too difficult, as the weather is pretty much identical today--cool, breezy, sunny--extra crisp autumn, you might say. Since there is no rain to be feared, it is all systems go for the bonfire. Preparations are now being made in earnest (as opposed to lackadaisically the day before.)

Chairs are dragged from the storage shed...

What you might call the most essential ingredient--the wood-- is stacked at the ready. (Although arguably the most necessary element could also be the people, since we pretty much don't want to have a bonfire without people in attendance).

And, moving ahead a few hours, here they are...the people...!

And, yipee...lots of food arrives with the people...our well-rounded meal is supplemented with all kinds of less-round but more-appealing foods (to me, at least) such as two kinds of soup, deviled eggs, roasted potatoes, veggie chips, pasta salad, roasted corn-on-the-cob, and all kinds of stuff for the sweet-toothed.

The lower dropped the sun, the brighter burned the fire...

...which was fortunate, since it was getting downright cold in the meadow.

It didn't seem to take long for the evening to get to that grope-for-the-food stage. Luckily, we had two oil lamps to spread some light on the edibles.

And, of course, situated beside the fire one had both light and heat, a great combination when you think about it, especially when you're looking at a bratwurst on the end of a stick.

After a long time of roasting and lots of eating, most bellies were fuller than the beautiful harvest moon that had risen (sorry, no lunar'll have to trust me it was orange and large, but on the wane). That's when the fire was in its prime, and we relished the third course--- jokes and funny stories (mind you, most of them so oft-repeated that we laughed for the sheer pleasure of laughing...easy to do when you're encircling a bonfire.)

In the end, if the fire reaches that mesmerizing stage that it did last night...piles of white hot embers and showers of sparks when tossing on the final logs... before anyone bestirs one's self to head for home...and in spite of the cold night air on their backs, and the lateness of the hour, all are reluctant to leave...then you know your bonfire has been a success.


Friday, October 17, 2008

PREPARATIONS GOT UNDERWAY today for our annual family I prefer to call it, the Harvest Moon Festival. I'll take you through it step-by-step...
We start with a horse meadow, which generally contains horses. (Any meadow will do. Horses are not required. In fact, although they add a certain ambiance, it is quite preferable to begin with a horseless meadow, as it will save you an extra amount of work. If your meadow contains large creatures of any kind, it is essential that you tie off an area with electric tape, thereby uninviting said addition to which, you will most likely wish to inspect and clear the area of any evidence that said creatures have ever been there...if you, ahem, know what I mean. Your guests will most certainly appreciate this). Now for the next step, we take one big pile of wood (in order to "take" it, you know you'll first have to "get" it...which could involve such things as chopping, hauling, splitting, grunting, sweating...definitely the most difficult part of this set-up, if you don't count chewing your nails over the chance of inclement weather.)

The rest is fairly easy. Add a truck load of branches (just gather these...if you've got a meadow, you're sure to have some trees somewhere...and if you've got trees, you're sure to have some fallen branches which you've been meaning to pick up for a while now). Try to arrange these atop the logs in an impressive mound which looks quite likely to produce a real conflagration. Set up tables nearby. Circle the bonfire-to-be with lawn chairs. Stock the site with long-handled pronged sticks for roasting.

These preparations will keep for several weeks, but it isn't advised to wait too long, as cold weather can set in with a vengeance quite before you know it.

Here is a list of suggested foods to be served at your bonfire:

Hot dogs

Each item is round in some aspect, which makes this a very well-rounded meal.
Also, serving it al fresco makes it perfectly healthy!

...actual bonfire to be reported on tomorrow...


Thursday, October 16, 2008

OH, I'M STILL HERE, yes, indeed. Just nothing much exciting to report.

I mean, not excitingly exciting.

I do have this that pleases me and stirs my blood a little...

...seeing how valiantly my flowers strive to give their finest performance in the face of impending doom. The prognosis isn't good. We've already had two nights with predictions of "possible frost" and Saturday night the forecast is for a low of 37degrees. I'm concerned.

So I talk to them every day now, my blossoms. I use their pet names.

I've nurtured you through your tender new weeks and helped you to fight off the aphids. I've watered and mulched and deadheaded...

And you have done me proud! You thrived
,  forgave me for the times I was a slacker, put off the watering because it was just too hot outside.

See how you flourished!

You know I'll be thinking of you, I'll grieve your loss, my "Blue Heaven"

...and you, my "Potted Sunshine"

through all the long months ahead I'll miss you.

Thanks for the memories!


Monday, October 13, 2008


NATIVE AMERICAN #l: Hey, you know today's a holiday.

Native American #2: Yep, we should have a party.

N. A. #1: Yeah, cause aren't we just tickled to death that what's-his-name happened upon this "new world" and decided the real estate looked good!

N. A. #2: Well, there's that saying, um, we got from somewhere, "finders keepers, losers weepers" and we did get some compensation for the land, after all.

N. A. #1: Oh, true. Booze!! Aren't we the lucky ones! And then we were privileged with all those exotic new diseases, too. Plus, we got to stop eating all that buffalo. Heck, don't you think getting buttered popcorn is worth giving up the free meat?!

N.A. #2: I was thinking of all those great colored beads. (Pause) Of course, the best part was most everyone getting to re-locate...see new parts of the country.

N. A. #1: So you don't think we sorta kinda maybe got screwed with that whole Columbus deal?

N. A. #2: Geez. Get with the celebration. Don't you know, it's the great American way:  If it doesn't look good, forget the past!

(just a little conversation in honor of Christopher)


Sunday, October 12, 2008

JUDY COLLINS, please sing your song for me...
I've looked at clouds from both sides now,
from up and down, and still somehow,
it's clouds' illusions I recall...

...I really don't know clouds at all!

And there you have it. As enticing as it was to think I might be viewing the coast of Portugal from my spot on the deck of Shishe's beach house on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, even my foggy morning brain knew that it simply couldn't be true.

A long, low bank of clouds on the horizon had done quite a convincing job with its illusion.

The sunrise was lovely. It was unusual. And for sure it's one I will recall.


Saturday, October 11, 2008

Today---wishing an extravagantly beautiful birthday to Shishe!

RIGHT THIS WAY...stepping back into the story of my twenty-hour stay at the ocean, which occurred a week ago today. The sun was heading down the sky and the ocean birds were populating the beach. I wanted to populate it along with them, contemplating (briefly and not very seriously) the idea of sleeping on the beach.

A much better idea was to sleep on the deck...

.where I'd be able to hear the ocean waves and look up at the stars. But first: A dinner of shrimp and pasta prepared by Shishe and Sveta (that charming young woman at the table), and a long evening of sitting by the fire (note that portable fireplace; it's beautiful when filled with bright, crackling activity). I then crawled beneath blankets and went to sleep swinging gently in the hammock.

Was this just a dream? It was deja vu, once again sleeping out in the open air, being lulled to sleep by the rhythmic sounds of water on a shoreline. And once again, there was Orion, standing with sword at side. This time it was he, and not the moon, looking me in the face when I opened my eyes very early in the morning. He seemed bemused by the fact that I hadn't thought to put as many blankets beneath me on the hammock as I piled on top myself. Oh yes, I was cold. Too cold to sleep well, but sleeping just well enough that I couldn't rouse myself to re-arrange the blankets.

Still, there was the gentle sway of the hammock. And, there were the waves crashing on the shore.

And, second vision, in less than a week, of the sun rising!

The sky lightened, and, as I raised my sleepy head to view the horizon, something seemed very odd. Land ho! What kind of crazy continental shift had moved Europe within viewing distance while I slept? Was it something in the wine last night? To what phenomenon could I attribute that strip of land on the horizon?

(to be continued)

...don't you love a cliff-hanger, Reader Dear?!

Friday, October 10, 2008


OH JOY! A TEENY-tiny vacation!

Last Saturday, October 4, 2008. En route to the funeral of Aunt Eats (known to the rest of the world as Edith). A stop-over of almost twenty hours at the home of Shishe, Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina. Several hundred steps from the Atlantic Ocean. Approximately 6:00 pm:


If the above is worth a thousand words, what's it worth if I add sound and action?

And then I add another! Virtual wordiness!

Can you get a mite, an itty bit, an iota of the beauty of this golden hour on a frabjous autumn evening at a castle by the ocean?

(to be continued)