Wednesday, March 31, 2010


When I planned out my rose garden along the front yard, I chose varieties that all smelled good, were fairly hardy, and kept to a tight palette of pale colors, like pale lavender:

and ultra-pale pinks:

and the blues and lavenders of Russian Sage:

The only warm colors I wanted were of the very pale yellow variety:

Pale yellow combined with pale pink is fine. This is...ummm, I forget. But isn't it sweet?:

And a medium yellow with a pale periwinkle blue is great, too:

Oh, wait--that's my neighbor's irises. But aren't they they most gorgeous combo of colors?:

I have contemplated sneaking over there in the dead of night to dig up these beauties and tuck them into my garden, I love them so much.

But into the color palette of my garden, I was not, repeat NOT, going to allow any orange:

Orange is evil.

This is clivea. I've already got it lurking in a corner of the garden. It's exuberantly, unapologetically orange. The only reason I don't "hoik it up," as the famous gardener Vita Sackville-West used to say, is that it thrives on absolutely no attention.

So it can stay.

But, what's this? An orange rose? In MY garden?

How did this happen? And what the heck is it?

Awwww, man! I let it in. Sort of.

When we planted the roses late last year, the nursery didn't have enough yellow-flowered bushes in stock. The Husband suggested we just leave empty spaces where more yellows would go, when the nursery got them. (Good idea, hubby!) A month or so later, the nursery contacted my gardener and said the yellows were in. He, or the nursery, picked out the actual plants. They were in the "bare root" stage, which means they're little more than a bundle of sticks. No flowers, hardly any leaves, in sight.

And somehow it didn't occur to me, trusting soul that I am, to check the little metal tags that come on roses to be sure I was getting the varieties I wanted.

So an orange rose snuck into my garden.

It's "Chris Evert," and it is verrrrry orange.


What is it about orange flowers that makes me turn into such a softie? Why do I let them violate my "no-orange-ever" rule?

*Sigh.* Maybe it's because, unlike the orange shades people produce that show up in ghastly places like Walmart and Manischewitz packaging... in Nature is--I have to admit--really pretty.

And it looks so good in the powder room.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

"Lessons" aka Alana Hates Grain Moths


By Pat Schneider

I have learned
that life goes on,
or doesn’t.
That days are measured out
in tiny increments
as a woman in a kitchen
measures teaspoons
of cinnamon, vanilla,
or half a cup of sugar
into a bowl.

I have learned
that moments are as precious as nutmeg,
and it has occurred to me
that busy interruptions
are like tiny grain moths,
or mice.
They nibble, pee, and poop,
or make their little worms and webs
until you have to throw out the good stuff
with the bad.

It took two deaths
and coming close myself
for me to learn
that there is not an infinite supply
of good things in the pantry.

Friday, March 26, 2010

First Bouquet of Roses

My new rose garden produced enough blooms today for a whole bouquet--the first of the season!

I plonked them into a silver-colored vase with a slight flare to it so they'd flop over the lip attractively. And that, my friends, was the extent of my arranging:

Hmm, could've done better on the colors of that photo. Sorry; still learning, here!

Leading the race in floppage are these two Comte de Chamborde buds:

Here's a more upright Chamborde bloom, top right, and a Double Delight, bottom left:

Oops! There's something hitchhiking in the petals! A bug?

Nope, just a bit of plant material. There, that's better:

I also tossed in one of these:

And I forgot to note what type it was. Oh, well. About this bouquet? It's totally one-sided:

I could've spent precious time fussing with making it symmetrical. Making it Martha-worthy.

But then I realized, what's the diff? Martha's not coming to my house any time soon.

So I put it atop some books right in front of me as I sit at my laptop. The flowers flop over toward me, and look slightly down on me, so I can admire them fully:


Takeaway lessons:

1. Find something pretty that's growing outside, and bring it inside so you can enjoy it all day long. It doesn't have to be flowers; some leaves and ornamental grasses are spectacular.

2. Slightly flared vases encourage flopping, and that's a good thing. (Heh, Martha.)

3. Uneven bouquets are fine; just turn them so the best part faces out.

4. If flowers are flopping down, put the vase up higher.

and most important of all,

5. Treat yourself to something lovely every day. You are totally worth it.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Love, Times Three

I am in love.

My new love is cheap. It's blue. It's for food.

Which means it's achieved the trifecta of my affections: cheap blue food thingies.

It's three graduated, glass cake stands. I found them at my local chain-store supermarket.

A-aaaaah! (The clouds part, the angels sing.) Are they not bee-yoo-tiful? and all three cost less than $20.

All this blue, for less than one Andy Jackson! I like how their color varies with the light. Held up to the window, they're a watery, medium blue:

Put them on a dark table, and they look more cobalt:

Do I really need three blue glass cake stands?

Umm (shifty eyes, hunched up shoulders), probably not. Two might do.

But then, which one to give away? The Big Kahuna? The petite littlest one?

And who deserves such awesomeness? Daughter #1? The one who bakes every week and has a small salary for such fripperies, you say?

Well, okay, maybe so. She would look after this one well.

But until she can come and claim one, all three are in my house, where they sit here and there, catching the sunlight when they're not holding anything edible.

And just generally hanging out and looking awesome.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Signs of Spring in My Garden

People say that Southern California doesn't have seasons. Of course we do. We have a proper set of four seasons here: Fire, Flood, Riot, and Earthquake!

Alright, so seasons are subtle in my part of the country, but there are signs that Spring has arrived in our gardens.

In my front yard, the dendrobium orchids are in bloom:

They always make me so happy, because some of these plants used to belong to my mother.

The wisteria on the pergola is in bloom. The flowers don't last long, but while they're here, they put on a spectacular show:

And the bees--both honeybees and the big, glossy black carpenter bees--love the flowers.

The roses planted along my new picket fence last fall are already popping out with blooms here and there. I love how this Double Delight bloom looks like she's shyly peering out from the safety of the fence corner:

And Comte de Chambord is rocking some really pretty mini-dew drops:

This Hotel California isn't open for business yet, but give him a day or two at the most:

Some of the roses seem to be concentrating on pushing out new growth first, blooms later. The newest, tenderest stems and leaves on the bushes are often various shades of bronze and burgundy:

Elsewhere in the garden, Scabiosa is budding:

Uh-oh! I'd better get after those aphids:

Years ago, I used to spray aphids with horrible, strong chemicals to get rid of them. But now I just put on a pair of Foxgloves and wipe my hands over the stems and buds, sweeping off the little buggers.

Much more Earth-friendly!

Anyhow, this is what scabiosa looks like in bloom:

Yup, Spring has definitely arrived in my garden, and it's fun to watch because...

...All sorts of things are popping up.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Why Does This Print Ad Drive Me Nuts?

Maybe because I'm an English major and I was trained (read: corrupted) to see symbols in almost everything?
Maybe because this guy has the most insufferable smirk on his face?
Maybe because the advertisement is for the damn counter top, for heaven's sake, but you would hardly know it, from all the other innuendo-laden stuff going on...

Like the cherry he's holding in his hand.
And the fruit dripping...chocolate.
And the...sweet something that's been opened, er, cut in half.
And the two babes in the background who have no earthly reason to be staring at the man with such naked expressions on their faces if all they cared about was the counter top.
Which they so obviously don't.
And even the black vase in the background, with its ridiculously pregnant lines.
Which are so archly repeated in the lounge lizard's bow tie.
Which is dangling, for Pete's sake.
And the fact that there's plenty of whipped cream in this photo.
And whipped cream and two babes in the background gets a guy to thinking.
If I were in the market for new counter tops, I would run screaming from this ad, it's so sexist and over-the-top and unnecessarily slimy.

Oh, wait: I am in the market for new counter tops. Heh! You guys just lost a potential sale.

Fire your ad agency and try again.
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Friday, March 19, 2010

My Prayer for Today

Please, dear Maker of the Universe,

Help me to grow old like this:

and not this:

Thank You, and Amen.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Yet More Sophisticated Polka Dots

In a recent issue of Martha Stewart Living magazine (March 2010? April 2010? anyway, recent), there was a how-to article on adding gilded dots to a plain lampshade. Basically, they are giant polka dots of gold:

It looked pretty simple: plot out circles around the lampshade, trace them in pencil, paint an adhesive within the circles, and lightly tamp thin sheets of gilding over the sticky circles:

The result is a lamp that is fun, modern, and very chic:
And the most recent White House/Black Market mailing I received had this beautiful, black-and-grey polka-dot dress on the cover:

Not to mention this gorgeous, strapless number on the inside:

BTW, I don't get many catalogs in the mail. For years now, I've eliminated most brochures from my life by signing on to a free website, Catalog Choice. It's a good way to help the environment, one less mailer at a time.

Anyway, I let the White/Black catalog slip through because every one has a nifty coupon in the back, good for 20% off, or $10 off, or stuff like that.

That, and the fact that if somebody held a gun to my head and said I could only shop at one store for the rest of my life, I'd choose White/Black.

It's that yummy.

I won't be gilding any lampshades or shopping at White/Black any time soon, though. My days are still consumed with chasing a refuses-to-be-housebroken puppy around the house.


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