Friday, April 25, 2014

Invited and Uninvited Guests

My massage lady, Donna,  whose hands are usually just the right degree of pressure were too vigorous yesterday afternoon, hence I am sitting with an ice  pack at 3 am grimacing with each movement. Perhaps I have spent too much time sitting---both painting and reading seem to consume me right now. Last night I finished The Invention of Wings, suggested by Jan Matsuoka. A great read, especially for a feminist.
My new garden is coming alive and thanks to readers Margaret in Sacramento and Alvey in Arlington, Wn, the identity of the mystery fungus in last week's blog is no longer a mystery. It is a morel, considered a delicacy. I'm not quite confident enough to add it to my scrambled eggs, however.
Most of the old roses that were here are now gone, but the one or two remaining are sporting aphids, like last year. Trying to be green as possible I once more invested in lady bugs. Last year's investment was a great success, but this year's offspring seem ambivalent. In fact, so many were already in lady bug heaven when I opened the containers that I coaxed the nursery to replace them. Just to welcome the newcomers I wrote the following:

Ladybug, ladybug, tea is served
Not with lemon and sugar, methinks
Though to you the aphids devouring my roses
May taste like honey in the Garden of Eden.

I implore you to take seconds, even thirds
In fact I invite you to spend the summer.
For that matter, invite your spouse
And be blessed with hundreds of baby beetles

One day you will all be sated
And fly away to a neighbor’s repast
Meanwhile, I cherish your presence
And rejoice at your voracious appetite.

Ladybug, ladybug, I cherish thee
With your red cloak and beady eyes
And impressive appetite
You make my garden Technicolor.

Saturday, April 19, 2014


My patience, or impatience if your please, has been rewarded. Finally the few tiny iris bulbs I brought from Oakland have shown their color. They are all the same; a delicate blue with yellow beard. This old gardener who used to be known as the "iris lady" is smiling till the corners tickle her earlobes.

Last Friday night I attended an art show in nearby Sebastopol. As juried art shows go, I thought it was so-so. What took my breath away, though, was a huge vase of iris sitting on the back table. I asked its source and was told that they were from the "iris lady". That got me to thinking, are there iris ladies all over the globe? Am I not even a little bit unique? Oh, I guess not. I guess I have to transform myself to something new.

 Each day now something new to me pops up in my garden. Often it is toadstools! I marvel at their variety and texture. Does anyone know what the specimen below is? It appeared for the first time on Tuesday. I handled it very carefully fearing it might be lethal.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Back From the Bay Area

Getting adjusted to Oakmont again after three days in the Bay Area to attend a watercolor workshop with my wonderful old gang. It was such fun, and hostess Jan Matsuoka spoiled me.Yesterday the landscape contractors finished my yard remodel, to my delight. In another month it should be full of color. To celebrate I bought a new flag with colors more matching the new landscape. Below you see my neighbors Gail and Jim helping me hang it.

 Now if I can just convince the neighborhood jackrabbit to
 chomp about elsewhere.

In Oakland I was distressed to learn of all the muggings, especially in neighborhoods undergoing gentrification. Though I love the safety of Oakmont, part of my heart will always be gazing over those hills at San Francisco Bay. I drove past Cathy Lane four times but deliberately did not meander down the private driveway. After over fifty years I feel like I own almost every curve on Skyline Blvd. I wonder if I'll ever feel more than a casual stranger up here. I mostly know my way around now, but ofter feel like an interloper.

One of the things I did for the second time today was to go to harmonica class, here on the grounds. Though not an aspiring musician, I thought it would improve my weakened lungs. The teacher, Jack, is very inspiring, even though we
are not much beyond Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star. Now one has to appreciate that for over fifty years that I lived with
Lee I never picked up even one of her many harmonicas.
How could I? She was a harmonica player extrordinaire.
It seems the third grade teacher at Cornell Elementary in
Albany where she went to school taught all her students to play the harmonica, at the expense of never learning the multiplication tables or cursive writing. When I met Lee she was 31 and carrying flashcards of the sevens and eights in the dash compartment of her 56 red Ford. She would practice at stop lights. She never did learn cursive writing. This seemed to be true of all her classmates as well. But wow, were they ever hits at parties. I often asked myself, "Which is really more important in life?"

I'm practicing on her Marine Band mouthpiece, which must be over 70 years old. My ultimate goal is Freight Train and then maybe someday Danny Boy.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Coming to Life Sowly

Like my garden, my old bod is coming back to life slowly from the March madness of illness and hospitalization. Too slowly, for my preferences, of course. One of the teeny iris bulbs I brought from Cathy Lane is finally showing a tinge of color; I can't wait for it to reveal itself. Meanwhile, I am beginning to attend regular activities here and my sense of humor is returning, at last

For our writing group last night we wrote to the prompt,  "It was a spring day..." Perhaps you will chuckle at this bit of fiction I wrote.
It was a spring day….and I decided the ground was now soft enough to dig a grave.

So I hoisted my shovel and sat out for the spot I’d chosen under the plum tree behind the greenhouse. I carefully removed her body from the freezer in the garage. It was curiously light, for her head had been dissected from her torso, leaving a bloody stump which was now frozen solid, of course.. But her beautiful brown eyes seemed to stare directly at me. They seemed to be saying, “Who did this indignity to me?”

I dug a generous sized hole, lining it with green moss  and decaying leaves before I tenderly placed her  there, eyes looking upward.  With a match I lit some sage, invoking an old Cherokee chant to the spirit of the wind to carry her essence to the four corners of the earth. Reverently I placed large five finger fern leaves over her before gently tamping the soil back down.

My habit of picking up road kill was something few could understand. So I seldom confessed to it . This great horned owl deserved the most reverent departure I could conjure up., don’t you agree?