A place for family and friends to see what I'm up to. Visitors welcome here.

Hail Guest, we ask not what thou art.
If Friend, we greet thee, hand and heart.
If Stranger, such no longer be.
If Foe, our love will conquer thee.
-Old Welsh Door Verse

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Summer 2016

Almost to the halfway mark.

Very pleased with how it's going so far.

As always, summer for a teacher means catching up with neglected chores and visits to medical folk.  I'll just skip the medical stuff.  Happy to report nothing going on that will slow me down too much.

Way more fun to talk about what I'm accomplishing in my garden.  My first project was to clean and refill the pond that I installed about twenty years ago.  I moved some rocks and swept, then vacuumed out the accumulated debris.

 And had my heart broken a little bit when I discovered this:

That's a weed.  Growing up through a crack in the hard vinyl shell of the pond.

This is not good.

I got some good advice about patching the shell, but in the end decided it made more sense to just throw a pond liner over the whole thing.  This turned out to be a project that took not the one or two days I had calendared.

I celebrated a banner bloom year of Alexandra, the stephanotis.  My sister-in-law also has one of these plants which she nicknamed George Stephanopoulos.  I did my homework and learned that George's wife's name is Alexandra, hence the nickname.  It was spectacular this year, nearly reaching the end of this ten-foot plant stand and covered in blooms. Ah, the fragrance!

One of the chores I dislike the most in any summer is dealing with the accumulation of flotsam over the course of a year.  It gets down to dozens and dozens of little items from cross-stitch charts to spools of thread to loose pens and pencils to random screws...  It seems like they are reproducing at random throughout the house and yard.  The only way to conquer them is to pick them up, one at a time, and walk them to their assigned living quarters.  I did a pretty good job - no, a damn fine job - of returning the homeless in the family room, kitchen, entry/hallway and my bedroom before screeching to a halt in the studio.  This is where a ton of that crap comes to rest over the course of the year, and so it will take longer that the other areas put together.

This is the ONE area that I finished.

Yay, me.

I have not yet finished the work of cleaning up the Fairy Garden outside my bedroom window, but since it is my favorite growing space, I tend to keep it pretty tidy.

The hydrangeas were stunning earlier in the summer.  Right now they are showing the stress of the mid-summer heat.

Which is why cameras were invented.

My brugmansias are doing well, for container-grown plants.  This is 'Ecuador Pink," which I almost lost last year when she became root-bound and rot settled in.  She lost every bloom, every leaf.  It was no easy chore to get an eight-foot tree out of a large pot and get her re-potted, but I don't give up.  And happily, neither did she.  The fragrance is intoxicating at night.

Creamsicle at her best.

Harold waited over a year for me to repair his broken beak.  He was very patient.  Not like he had any choice, of course.  The white Gorilla Glue worked great and he is happy, even though he will forever bear the scar.

It's been a long time since I've made a quilt top, but I love the colors of the studio so much that I decided I wanted a quilt that matched the room.  I don't usually turn on the heat (on the coldest days I'll turn it on when I get home from work) and so I need something over me in the mornings.  Strong motivation to get this done (it will have a flannel backing) before school starts again.  I have all I need, just need a few days without other commitments.

I did eventually manage to get the pond re-lined, refilled and the pump working.  I am SO happy to have this up and running.  The water falls from an old pump that had been on my uncle's farm in Kansas, into a lined oak barrel and then into a  little "stream" area, then finally down into the main part of the pond.  I would really like to camouflage more of the plastic, but since my biggest motivation in completing it is to get the music of the water going again, I'm very pleased with it.

I'm facilitating the Circle of Life.  So far I'm up to 50 feeder fish added to the system, down to about a dozen survivors.  I haven't collected many floaters, so I conclude the nightlings are helping themselves to sushi on the fin.

I put in some productive time in the front courtyard.  In addition to lifting and moving hundreds of pounds of rocks around the back pond, I was also potting up brugs (eventual trees) and moving them around.  I don't really plan for this to be their permanent home - that's a project for another week - but they can hang out here for now.

Apparently I was supposed to have been feeding my cymbidiums all this time.  Oops.

So, they are all divided and potted up AND FED.

I wasn't really able to see into the courtyard from this spot before I trimmed the duranta into a tree for the first time.  I really like it, and there were plenty of flowers left at the top for the bees and butterflies.  Come fall, though, I'll have to trim some of the back branches that are pushing on the wall.

Begonia "Freddie" in bloom.

Had a huge hatching of baby Milkweed Beetles (or Milkweed bugs).  They're really a handsome critter and all they want are the milkweed seeds, but this was a lot even for me to tolerate so I had to thin the numbers a little.

There has been a little cross stitch, but just a little.  The yard work (six hours of heavy cutting, potting, carrying at a stretch) pretty much wiped me out every day.  I'd shower and be in bed by 7:30, really not interested in trying to get a needle through a tiny hole in a piece of fabric.  The pace will slow down now that I have my major projects completed, so I look forward to stitching more pretty birds.

 The completed courtyard.

There's a happy welcome.

Alstromeria.  I'm crazy about this color and plan to divide the plant this year to get more of it.

I took Mom to Disneyland again last weekend.  The main attraction was actually having dinner with my cousins who were meeting us there.  We hadn't seen them since my husband's memorial September 2014 and I was really excited to spend some time with them.

Mom and I had breakfast at Carnation Café, as usual, then just had a very relaxed morning on Main Street. 

Got to listen to a full set of the Strawhatters, who were joined by a number of characters including...

...the maestro himself.

We also took in a Laughing Stock show, introduced by Michael T. Pettibone (which is a good joke; I wonder who came up with that name.)  Anyway, we had always enjoyed Ragtime Michael at the Coke Corner and had the good fortune to run into him there a few months ago.  Not the same experience here, but we usually enjoy the show.  And the air conditioning.  And sometimes a hot fudge sundae.

The last time we were at the Park we left before the Mad Hatter and Alice's Musical Chairs game at the Coke Corner, and we made sure to get over there in time on Saturday.  We were there early enough for the Dapper Dans set.  Today seemed to be our day to see everything from "the back side of..."  It was a shade issue.

And then - YAY - our favorite Hatter was there.  He greeted Mom with his usual "HELLO!" and the antics kept us entertained for a good half hour (lots of kids that day).  When the game is over, he and Alice stick around for pictures and autographs, and did this day as well.  And then this sweet man made Mom's day yet again.  Just before their shift ended (with a still long line of kids waiting), he slipped away, walked through the Refreshment Corner lines and over to my mom to give her a big hug.

Our next stop was Downtown Disney to wait for the cousins and our reservation at the Rainforest Café.  I'd never been to this restaurant (which is kind of legendary) and had been looking forward to the experience.  We were quite early, so I decided to wheel her over to the Trader Sam's bar, which turned out to be quite a haul (uphill and in the heat) to the Disneyland Hotel. 

I don't drink alcohol, and generally find bars to be unattractive places.  Sad to say, this one was no different.  Small, dark, crowded and unbearably loud.  The reason I went at all was that I have a friend who is a tiki artist and has several pieces in the bar.  I was hoping to get a picture of one them, but it was just too dang dark so I gave up.  We made our way back to the restaurant to sit on a shady bench while we waited for my cousins.

And were entertained by this handsome gentleman.

There's just something about a dude in uniform.

The Rainforest Café was a disappointment.  Like Trader Sam's, too loud, too dark, too crowded and too...  I dunno, cliché, maybe?  Every few minutes fake thunder and the fake animals "come to life" and make noise.  Our server was just a little too friendly, too attentive and too chatty.  The food was meh for the price.  I was amused, however, by my company in the stall in the ladies' room.

After we finished dinner we tried to continue our conversation in the cool of the evening outside, but they had a rock band - a very loud rock band - that came back from their break about then and it was impossible to have any conversation so we got our hugs and headed home.

LIMO TRAM.  Because we tend to leave early, they often load us up and haul us back to the parking structure without stopping for other passengers.  Pretty cool.

My mom bought these photo boxes for my sister, herself and me.  I adapted this photo of the back of my grandsons' heads for the front of the boxes.  I think it turned out well.

Now, what WISHES, shall I add?

I managed to fill this week with happy trips.  Yesterday I took my Sister-in-Law into the Big City to check out THE LAST BOOKSTORE in downtown Los Angeles.  What an experience!  First, my little historic preservationist heart was all aflutter at the treatment of this amazing old building on Spring between 4th and 5th.

Wikipedia:  453 S. Spring Street – Built in 1914, the 10-story building was designed by Parkinson and Bergstrom. The building was once the Los Angeles headquarters of Crocker Citizens National Bank. Now known as the Spring Arts Tower, the building is part of a movement to convert the old financial district into the city's "Gallery Row." The building's interior features original Art Deco designs, Art Nouveau details, sculptured brass, Italian marble, Batchelder tile, California alder and tiger oak. The building's tenants include artists, designers, architects, film production companies, and law firms. A nightclub called the "Crocker Club" is scheduled to open on the vault floor in 2008.[17]

What. An. Experience.  The entire bookstore is a work of art incorporated in incredible old building that has been cleaned but not gentrified.  Even the overstuffed leather seating throughout is old and well broken in.  Around every corner is a piece of art -usually oversized - paying homage to the page.

My SIL purchased a few books and seemed shocked that I did not but, to be honest, I was soulstruck by the building itself and the cleverness and commitment that the bookstore owners have used to bring it to life.  And to be honest again, I can't wait to get back and next time I WILL at least get a tee-shirt if I can't focus enough to buy a book.  This place is a business, not an art museum with free admission.  Gotta make my contribution.

We decided we may drive to Universal next time and then take the Redline in.  Pershing Square isn't far, and I did not enjoy trying to navigate downtown in weekday traffic.  Hick.

The next part of our day out was a trek to Newport  for lunch at Andrew Weil's True Food Kitchen, followed by a visit to Roger's Gardens just a couple of blocks away.

The lunch was delicious, as usual, but we were disappointed in the nursery trip.  We've been there many times but this was the first visit at summer's peak.  There just aren't a lot of choices as far as planting at this time of year.  We pinky swore that we would take this annual field trip only in the spring from now on.

And only on weekends.  We just never get out of there in time to beat the rush hour traffic.  Yesterday it took us FOUR HOURS to get back to Ventura County.

Good thing it was an awesome day in spite of the traffic home.

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