Wednesday, May 5, 2021

hOnEySuCkLe tHyMe

Showing my age again, and my roots way back when blogging was new! It was common on "prim and rustic" blogs to use the mixed capitalization. For some reason, it reminds me of when "knee warmers" and "cummerbunds" were popular, but that was in the 1970s.

Anyone remember that, the knee warmers? Ringing any bells among the belles who read my little bloggie? I had a little pair of red acrylic knee warmers, of knitted fine-guage acrylic, but still; scritchy-scratchy acrylic yarn of the day. And I had a red cummerbund that matched, but of a fine-guage material. Oh, I was so thin. But the advantage was I could wear anything. I was so thin that people felt I had an eating disorder, as I did. Eating disorders were just getting known then, in the 1970s. But I looked well in clothes and I bought the "display" clothing from fine stores in size 3, and took them up. The display clothes were sold for a song at the end of the season, as were the shoes. I had tiny feet, size 5 narrow, the usual display size.

My mind is off and running now! White sales! The White Sales -- we would wait for them and then get our linens. And the department stores had whole floors of china and stoneware and flatware, and so many pretty silver things. The peasant in me chose a Mikasa stoneware design for my first wedding: Strawberry Festival. Funny, I don't have a single piece left and I loved that pattern so much. Strawberries have always made me smile. And my flatware pattern was Oneida American Colonial. Gosh, haven't thought of that in years. 

In New Orleans, we had a beloved department store, D.H. Holmes. Its colors were a light cream and dark chocolate brown. The bags, the boxes, the giftwrap, the name tags were all that color combination. I loved those stores, especially the big store on Canal Street. At the very top floor, there were hats and wigs and the offices. We would take the escalators up and up and up. It always made my heart race a little bit to step on the escalator and start rising. One of my aunts was a "window dresser" for a local department store in a smaller city. She had such style, and store windows in those days were glorious things. 

If I have been slow to comment on your blog, I apologize. I have been very tired and I am also racing back and forth from work taking care of my husband, who has had some procedures done. He's pretty independent in general, but anything out of the ordinary hits him hard, making him more oppositional and not do the things he needs to do to heal and stay healthy. And yesterday I drove a teacher from school to the ER and stayed with her for hours, as I could tell with one look that she had cellulitis starting on her leg, and indeed it was so. She is deeply hypochondriac, but sometimes she does get sick for real. But it all makes for long days and I have little energy, sometimes just falling asleep with my head on the desk where the computer is. 

But I did go see if I could get a cutting from a wild Queen's Wreath vine and a Silver Lace vine. [Success! And I saw a pretty old-fashioned fence it was growing up!] And then I stopped by the church to light some candles.

If you have read this far, you are probably saying, "Cough up the honeysuckle! Where is it?" This honeysuckle vine surprised me! It is growing all mixed in with the wisteria vines at church! Right now it is smothered in blossoms and I did allow myself to stand there and pull off about a dozen blossoms, pinching the end off and pulling the stamen through, carrying that tiny drop of nectar that we dab on our tongues. 

honeysuckle blossoms in cracker barrel syrup bottle

Then of course, just as if I were ten again, I have to suck the open end and get the rest of the nectar out. I can think of so many "wild foods" we ate as children! Gosh, the list is just forever. Pepper plant, honeysuckle, wild onions, wild garlic, grapes, figs, plums, loquats, maypops, rabbit grass, elderberries, blackberries, huckleberries (which I disliked), digging sassafrass roots, climbing to get at pawpaws and persimmons. I know I'm forgetting a lot. 

silver lace vine in las cruces

May the rest of your week be "just as you like it." See you around the blogs!

old fasioned fence child and pail

Kind regards,

Olde Dame Holly

Monday, May 3, 2021

Lavender Wands, Dilly Dilly

lavender wands

"Lavender's blue, dilly dilly
Lavender's green.
When I am king, dilly dilly
You shall be queen."

Once upon a time I had an ample supply of blooming lavender, and a wonderful co-worker showed me how to make lavender wands. This was, oh, perhaps 40 years ago now? 

Alas and alack, I have a very limited supply of blooms this year. Between three small two-year-old bushes, I had enough blooms for three wands.

It's easy to make them, and it's a bit of lore I'd love to pass on.

All it takes is the fresh lavender cut with as long a stem as you can manage (it can have little leaves and side-buds on it); 1/8" satin ribbon or similar narrow ribbon of your choice for a small wand, and wider ribbon if you are lucky enough to make a big wand; and a toothpick to help you move the ribbon among the stems evenly.

Skip down to read about how to make wands! 

But first, some garden news! (1) The Egyptian Walking Onions at the community garden are making "pups" and I have planted some at home. WILL THEY MAKE IT? (2) The lemongrass in my courtyard seems a lost cause. It is not visible any longer! The doggies have eaten it all. I always call one of my dogs "my little curly lamb," and indeed she is like a sheep, chewing grass. The chiweenie was in on it, too. They split up the lemongrass between them: He ate all of it at ground level, and she climbed into the raised beds and ate the rest! (3) The Sweet Meat squash is up and looks like it might make it. 

Back to our wands:

Gently remove any side leaves or side-buds. Work with fresh lavender. The type doesn't matter. If needed, put the cut lavender in water in a vase in the fridge, like the florist does.

ribbon and lavender for lavender wands

I could not put my hands on my plastic canvas sewing "needle," made of plastic with a huge eye for yarn. But that might make the weaving so very much easier.

There are many tutorials on the web on how to make these wands, but many of them are bunk. Why do I say that? They don't share the most basic part of making the wands: YOU MUST HAVE AN ODD NUMBER OF STEMS. The simple over-under weave will not work with an even number of stems. You are going in a spiral pattern, a basketweave, and thus an odd number is a must.

But the other tutorials have nicer photos. I was doing this, oh, around 3:12 a.m. I had intended to do it in the morning, but I had already picked the stems and taken a photo of them with the ribbon,then put them in the fridge. Since I have terrible trouble sleeping more than an hour at a time without having to get up, it seemed like a good idea to get up and make wands at that hour, but it didn't lend itself to clear thinking or clear photos.

Gather as many stems as you want together, with the HEADS of the lavender together. Make sure to have an odd number. Tie a piece of ribbon right under the heads. Don't make the knot too tight. Don't cut into the stems. 

how to make a lavender wand

I just use one piece of ribbon, so I make sure the knot has a tail that extends down several inches. I'm going to tuck that tail in the middle and let it just hang, and let it be covered by the weaving of the other end of the ribbon, and then once I am done weaving and wrapping the unwoven stems about a half-inch to an inch, I use that bit of tail between the stems to tie off the weaving ribbon, and cut the excess from both tails.

The other way is to just make a nice knot and cut, then tuck in the end of another piece from the ends of the stems and coming out from the top of the "cage" described below. 

Making the cage: Once you have the knot in place under the heads of the lavender, you carefully pull up each stem to make a "cage" around the heads. At this point, just pull them gently, one at a time, up and over the flowerheads. You will use the toothpick or your fingers to arrange the stems as evenly as you can. Now turn it over. You are holding the stems and the caged flower heads are at the top. 

lavender wand DIY

Some people with a LOT of lavender make wands that are practically CLUBS. I envy them! If you want to make a huge one, limit your weaving to just the outer stems.

To figure out how much ribbon you will need to cut to do the weaving, I put my fingers together, like two fingers for a small wand (I have tiny fingers), and wrap the ribbon round and round in a downward spiral until it's as long as the caged flower heads. Then I add about two inches. CUT. 

If you are using the one-ribbon method, the other end is still inside the cage, part of the knot that is under the flower heads. Come up under a stem, pull the excess ribbon through, and go over the next stem. Then under the next, over the next, under the next, again and again until you have covered the entire head. Don't overthink it.

This is the part that is difficult. The first few turns are hard to do, and the basketweave isn't very visible yet. You are working from the TOP down.

lavender want showing the "cage"

Use your toothpick to push up and tighten the ribbon as needed. It might be like lacing up a shoe. You pull up some excess, and kind of sequentially pull the slack up between each stem, all the way down. Then wrap the stems without doing any over-and-under once you are past the "caged" part. Pull out that tail and tie an overhand knot with the weaving end of the ribbon.

basketweave lavender wands

Make sure the weaving is pretty tight, because the flowers will shrink as they dry. My darker wands came out much better than the first pale ribbon one I did. The blue ribbon above needs to be pulled and the slack taken out before continuing.

To refresh the scent, just squeeze gently on the woven end of the wand.

I hope everyone had a good weekend and is having a good Monday!

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Black Beauty

Black Beauty...That is another childhood favorite book, although I would cry myself sick when reading it. I don't think children were shielded as much from life's hardness back in the old days. Many of the books we read were quite distressing.

To avoid chit-chat overload, you can scroll down to the paragraph in bold!

nmsu black smokebush

But also I call this Smokebush on the NMSU campus "Black Beauty." There are three strong bushes and one struggling bush over on a skinny street in the ag area. The struggling bush has its water drip "emitter" not working well. Surely the landscapers can see that it needs more water. Maybe I'll call about it. "Hi, I'm that crazy lady who stands by the smokebushes down by the sheep barn, and cries when she sees the newborn lambs. Ya got a weak tree down here, can someone help it?"

black smokebush blooming

These small trees/bushes are called cotinus coggygria. At a plant nursery, they are devilishly expensive -- out of my pocketbook's range, certainly. I did help myself to three twigs left at the bottom of the bushes after a trim. Okay, that is in effect a LIE. I trimmed them. That's how they got trimmed. They weren't found trimmed. Sheesh, lying on a blog. FOR SHAME. I have them planted but I don't know if they will root. 

smokebush pretty leaves and blooms

My photos do not do this plant justice. It truly looks startlingly black in person. The leaves are so very dark. It is now blooming, and that is the most delightful thing about it. It truly does look like a puff of red-purple smoke when in full bloom.

smokebush bloom

I had a wonderful happening at the community garden. Another gardener was there, a very petite lady of a certain age, and she came up to tell me that my plot had too many weeds in it. "All weeds," she said. "Too many weed. Next time, put plastic, poke a hole for you plant. Weeds under the plastic, they hungry, no sun, no food, they die." She pointed into my plot: "Ha ha, you got so many volunteer sunflower. Too many." She pointed at several other plots. "No weeds. Those mine."

My initial thought was to give her the evil eye, but I decided maybe a language barrier was in play, so I thanked her for her suggestions, and also decided it wasn't really rude for her to simply state the truth, which is that weeds are creeping all over my plot and the volunteer sunflowers are becoming a mob. She didn't leave and go back to her weedless plots, which are beautifully planted, but got closer and pointed at my prized clumps of lemongrass. "You know that not weed, right? You know that something good?" 

I do indeed! "Yes," I said. "It's lemongrass." She looked at it wistfully. "It very expensive. It too expensive. I love the smell, you smelled it? I love the smell, also good for cook. But I love the smell so much."

I, too, love the smell "so much." I said, "Why don't you take some? There is plenty." Her eyes got so bright! But she said, "Oh no, not even one small piece. That yours. I could make a small piece grow, but it not mine. Every plant I have, somebody give to me. I can make anything grow, even small piece, but that yours." And all the time she was looking so wistfully at that lemongrass.

"Nonsense! Please take some. Do you want this clump, or this clump?" The things you can learn about manipulating people, for good purposes: Give them a choice. Suddenly, the question is not whether something will be chosen, but which item will be chosen. The far clump, or the near clump? 

"Far clump, please."

My new gardening friend kept protesting that she was taking "too much" but I just kept trying to dig up a clump with a trowel. We were getting nowhere fast. She said, "I have shovel in truck" and took off to get the shovel. I dug for awhile with a big old shovel, but wasn't having success. She said, "I have machete in truck," and took off and came back with one. After that couldn't separate the clumps, she said, "I have ax in truck," and took off and came back with an ax. I was determined to make the ax work, for fear she would say, "I have nuclear device in truck" and run get it.

She was hugging that clump and just breathing it in. And then she said, "See those onions over there? Those very rare. When they bloom, I give you some pups. You can grow." Oh boy, she wasn't kidding. She has pink Egyptian Walking Onions! These are permanent, perennial onions, and can be used like a green onion and a leek! And they are beautiful!

We talked a bit more, mainly about how some gardeners won't share, even down to not sharing the name of what they are growing! Then we tried to find the toad for awhile and I left feeling uplifted at having met another gardener, and having played a version of Toad Catcher. 

Kind regards,

Olde Dame Holly

Monday, April 26, 2021

The Games of Childhood

Here is a bit of "growing sunshine" to brighten your morning. I think it is called Damianita Daisy. The blossoms are born on short, woody stems, and these plants are always in xeriscapes.

damianita daisy desert low shrub

The comments on the "Toad Catcher" and Mulberry Time posts got me to thinking. It is common now to think children don't play as we used to do. The world is certainly changed, and I can remember when childhood went from quite free to greatly curtailed, from considered safe to considered unsafe, when it went from outside exploring to inside lives, from being raised by family, usually mothers, to spending much of the waking hours in some sort of paid care.

I am not weighing in on judging it all, today. Rearview mirrors and rose-colored glasses are not reliable ways to view the world! What is that grammar joke? "We tend to find the past perfect, and the present tense"? I think both past and present have their good points and their bad. And I also think life is lived forwards, understood backwards.

But the children of today may be playing more old-time games than is realized.

The students at school line up by the front office on their way to the playground. Sometimes I can hear their conversations as they wait to file out. At school, they wear traditional uniforms and walk with their hands behind their backs, and wait with hands still clasped. And they chat about what they are going to be playing. 

Oh, it is so cute, their ongoing games. Last week among the "lower school" it was all talk of being Day Bats. Now, don't ask me, but it seemed to be they are different color bats, of different ranks. They are awake in the day and fix problem situations. I thought it was charming to hear them excitedly speak of moving up to be Blue Bats, or bemoaning dropping back down to an Orange Bat. I think it's based on the rainbow somehow.

When I go get the mail, I see also the little "houses" the even younger kids have created, out of the landscape rocks and the flowerbed bark. 

And I hear the old, old chants from childhood repeated now, fifty years later: Ring Around the Rosey, Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush, London Bridge. 

Grades 3 through 12 all have jump-ropes, too. The boys are as good as the girls at it. And they play tag a lot of the time. The big kids are not above chasing each other: Flirtation disguised as a slow game of tag.

Some of the kids are bookworms, of course! That was me, nose always in a book. And the students are reading the same series, the "classic" books! The horsey series by Walter Farley and Marguerite Henry; the Little House books; The Borrowers; The Witch of Blackbird Pond; On Your Toes, Suzie; and the late Beverly Cleary's books. All the old favorites are there.

Something I haven't seen, nor do the students seem to know about, is clapping games. Girls played a lot of clapping games at recess, played to a chant, when I was young. I can still recall some of them. Girls and boys alike played table-slapping games clear into college. 

When I was young, we played four-square in the street. It was probably our most favorite game in the preteen years. Mudpies was my absolute favorite as a younger child. We used the little foil tins from pot pies to hold our creations. Pot pies were a weekly meal for many of us, so there were pie tins galore.

The streets of suburbia were thronged with kids in those days! Kids were literally in the streets with the four-square games, or riding bikes, or digging up tar and popping tar bubbles during the summer. There was lots of roller skating and pushing box scooters along the sidewalks. I can, to this day, "skate" my block, remembering the idiocyncracies of every inch of sidewalk, and sometimes at night I return to that long-ago childhood and skate along in a sort of waking dream. I can see each house and recall every neighbor, yet I can not picture my current neighbors' homes in any detail. 

Housing was still being built apace during the Baby Boom, so there were lot-sized gaps along the route, and we'd run across those weedy areas with our skates still on. Skateboarding was not common in our area, and I didn't know of it back then.

Of course, we drew hopscotch on driveways and sidewalks, too, and girls played jacks, but by my childhood, jacks was waning in popularity so I didn't play it often. I was glad; my hands were so tiny I couldn't gather more than three jacks up. To a child's mind, it is important to win, or at least make a good showing.

So take heart; it isn't ALL video games and TikTok now. Some of the old games still survive. Can you recall games of your childhood? 


Sunday, April 25, 2021

Mulberry Time!

The shortlived mulberry season has begun, and they are raining down by the hundreds while the dogs walk slowly around the tree trunks, hoovering them up. The backyard has both fruitless and fruiting mulberry trees, and, a bit rare, pale white mulberries that are especially sweet and taste far better than the dark berries. They are the last to ripen; the dark purplish-black berries ripen first. 

red black mulberries

Mulberries don't pull cleanly from the stem. The stem, a few millimenters long, stays with the berry. I just eat them, stem and all.

mulberries in the sun
Mulberries have a bland sweetness without a distinct flavor, but they are fun to eat fresh off the branches. 

When I was young, I would use berries to stain my lips, like a lipstick. I think most young girls do that! With mulberries, they get stained unintentionally. The berries are very soft and are dewed with juice.

Besides using berries as lipstick, I remember making clover chains and dandelion crowns for "jewelry." We'd also use the dandelion blooms as "powder puffs" and powder our noses with the pollen. We would light matches and then blow them out, using the burnt ends as "kohl" around our eyes.

Sometimes, we'd smooth a patch of damp dirt, and pack it down tightly by bumping it with the heels of our hands. Then we'd scratch a "floorplan" into the dirt with a small stick. We'd get various blossoms and use them as the inhabitants of the "house" and play for hours, moving them here and there and chattering together as the story of the Flower Family would unfold. Sweet times!

Kind regards,

Olde Dame Holly

Friday, April 23, 2021

In the Hall of the Texas Mountain Laurel King

I used to like some of Grieg's Peer Gynt music, especially "In the Hall of the Mountain King." Insofar as classical music goes, or really any music, I am a peasant, munching on a piece of black bread, soon satisfied. I like a bit of this, a bit of that, now and again. Things that bring finer sensibilities to tears somehow hold no interest for me. I would say my favorite music is the soundtracks of A Charlie Brown Christmas, It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, and White Christmas. Fie! I am not very interested in music old or new, but I like to hear church bells ring and birdies sing and rain hit the windows in bursts. And I love to hear old-time "declaiming," much as depicted in the Anne of Green Gables novels. 

Has anyone else tried to watch the newest "Anne of Green Gables" series? I couldn't. It was so strange and coarse and had a strange social agenda, I felt. 

purple-blue blooms of Texas Mountain Laurel

When I was young, it was quite falling out of fashion, but you could still enjoy hearing someone declaim - not sing - a favorite poem or passage as part of an evening's entertainment. I think sixth grade was the last time we were taught to declaim a poem.

At church, I can't stand the singing. Oh, how horrible of me! But I can't. Hymns set my teeth on edge. The guitar player and his earnest singing make me bite my knuckle so that I don't howl along. 

We have a very old Italian priest who sometimes acts as concelebrant at Mass. Not only does he look like an ancient tom turkey, but his voice reminds me of what a lovelorn old tom might sound like, too, warbling up and down the scales and teetering on the edge of the black keys, and never making the leap over to the whites, but falling perpetually into the cracks between them. His voice is a turkey gobble spliced into the sound of a rubber-soled shoe on a gym floor plus the honk of a rubber-ended tricycle horn, all at once; zusammen. And I like HIS voice as he brokenly chants the litany a thousand times better than the sound of the choir or the solo soprano's lilting tones.

What in the world has this post to do with Grieg's music? Well, we have a lovely small tree out here called a Texas Mountain Laurel, and I took that photo to share. And then my mind started up with its loose associations. The name Texas Mountain Laurel conjured up the dwarves in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings and their King Under the Mountain story, and then Grieg's music "In the Hall of the Mountain King." 

The blooms of the Texas Mountain Laurel remind me of wisteria, with a similar scent but with a strong overlay of grape Kool-aid. They are about done for the year. From one week to the next, they are there, and then they are gone.

Koolaid! When I was young, we drank "Cherri-Aid," from Ann Page, better known as the dreadful A&P house brand. Oh, it was foul stuff. Once my mother accidentally bought a packet of Kool-Aid, and after tasting the difference, she just couldn't go back to Cherri-Aid. If I recall ko-reck-ly, Kool-Aid was 5 cents a package, and Cherri-Aid was 3 cents, but my father shouted that the extravagance of the 5-cent Kool-Aid was going to put us "in the poorhouse." Oh, he was so mad, for years. The Depression severely wounded some people.

I started wondering about these prices I remembered so easily. And that led to this screenshot of an old ad. Yes, I was right. My long-term memory is perfecto. My short-term, no bueno.

old A&P ad showing cherri-aid and kool-aid
Told you!

Some bloggie friends wanted to see the "nature table" I put up at school, so I have some photos, below. I have some seeds of the Texas Mountain Laurel on the table, but out of the reach of the kindergarteners. At work, I am morphing more and more into being what I call "the permanent substitute," seeing me subbing for several hours each day while the regular teachers do this or that or run errands or cry into their lattes because they are Young Tender Things and their husbands or boyfriends are So Mean. I have absolutely no interest in teaching again, and that is falling on deaf ears. What? Deaf ears! WHAT? DEAF EARS! WHAT??? DEAF EARS, I SAID!

So, we shall see what we shall see! 

I hope this Friday finds you as fit as a fiddle and ready for a riddle -- also from The Hobbit:

"A box without hinges, key, or lid, yet golden treasure inside is hid."

And what is it? Oh, you guessed it! An egg! Well, of course you would, because you are all good eggs!

Kind regards,

Olde Dame Holly

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Go with the Floe

My ice plants are being a bit naughty in the garden. They are growing and growing and already spreading like crazy, squeezing out the other plants. To make matters worse, I bought a new kind of iceplant, and put it in the new fire ring in the courtyard. 

pretty red and yellow blooming iceplant

Now I'm afaid I've set into motion some kind of upcoming end-of-summer gladiator battle between the pale tangerine ice plants and the new red-ringed ice plants. The tangerine ice plants are fierce tigery plants, hale and hearty with extra-juicy "leaves." The more delicate red-and-yellow-blooming ice plants have little kitty-toe leaves. Well, I must protect the underdog, or in this case, the undercat! 

pale tangering ice plant bloom las cruces

Now, my ice plants have just put forth a few puny blossoms so far. When they hit their stride, in about two months or so, the entire plant will be covered with blooms, like so, or even moreso:

pretty iceplants new mexico

But for now, the single blooms here and there are the jewels of the garden!

ice plant bloom

That last photo is taken, literally, on the "nature table" by my courtyard window ("There she goes again, talking about her closet-sized courtyard, yap yap yap, aw shaddup."). I took all the things and the tin display pedestals I had on my nature table and put them on a table in the school's lobby yesterday. 

We are preparing for an accreditation visit, and every private school I've seen or worked in has had a nature table. The administrators were a bit doubtful, but when the students saw it, they went wild, predictably wanting to spend most of their time looking through the magnifying glasses at the wasp's nest and the mummified geckos and lizards. I had a wonderful mummified baby rattler, but a moment's inattention and there was a crunch and a half-barfing gulp and a guilty-but-proud look on the face of my chiweenie. He may have only three good legs, but he is as fast as lightning when anything foodish is involved.

I put a print of the toad I found in our garden plot, on the table, too. And just wanted to knock the two sisters' heads together when BOTH claimed they never heard of the "Toad Catcher" game mentioned in the last post. REALLY, LADIES? You argued about it for ten minutes right behind my chair! TOAD CATCHER, TOAD CATCHER! 

I also put some potted orange mint on the table, with instructions to pinch a leaf and then smell. I love to grow pot plants! Oh, that didn't come out right. No, plants in pots, I better say! Not the other!

It was strange to see the kids trying to smell the mint through their masks. What times we live in, yes?

I would look at the seeds on display with the magnifier. I have dozens of unusual seeds to examine. Would you look at the seeds, the hummingbird nest, the wasp nest, or the "mummies"? 

Monday, April 19, 2021

Let's Play "That One Game"


I don't know. It may be the Cajun in me. Cajuns tend to be very nosey. Maybe in the swamp, they had to be nosey. "Is that a gator snout sticking out from under that car, or is that just the neighbor doing some engine repair?" "Are the kids playing with a soaker hose, or a water moccasin?" "Is that a shrimp or a crawfish? Never mind, pass me some hot sauce." 

Maybe because I'm always writing a portion of "a book" mentally, collecting the things I hear to throw into it, but I tend to remember passing remarks. While my short-term memory is usually shot, things like this get stuck in it, taking up valuable and scarce room.

At work, the school was established by a pair of sisters. They are still there, and work together as the administrators. Oh boy. Boy howdy. Howdy howdy howdy do. Big sis and little sis. Little Sis is as sweet as a bucket of syrup, and Big Sis is as sweet as a gallon of vinegar. About two feet behind me, they started up a conversation.

Little Sis: "Um, oh oh, um, ha ha, oh Dee-Dee, Dee-Dee, do you remember that funny game we used to play? That game?"

Big Sis: "WHAT? What game? What are you talking about? We need to be getting ready for the board meeting."

Little Sis: "Oh, that funny game. You know, the game? Oh, we loved to play it. That one. Oh gosh. Tee hee."

Big Sis: "WHAT? You're a lunatic. What game are you talking about? We didn't play any games. We played dolls."

Little Sis: "Uh-huh, yes we did. We did play games. Oh, I loved playing dolls. But that one. That one momma said, 'You stop playing that right now or you will get warts.'" 

Big Sis: "WHAT? Get warts?"

Little Sis: "Yes, she didn't want us to get warts, but we never got any, did we? We loved that game."


Little Sis: "That game, that one game, that toad game. Toad Catcher!" 

Big Sis: "Martha Ann, we played no such game. What are you even talking about? Toad Catcher."

Little Sis: "Yes we did! We did! We loved it! Toad Catcher! We would play with the toad, we would catch it, and then it would be the other one's turn! Yes we did! You loved it, we played it, you made it up!"

Big Sis: "I did not. I never heard of this in my life."

Little Sis: "Yes, yes yes yes you did! And if the toad peed on you, you lost, you had to hide your eyes! And the toad was the baby, it was the baby and we'd make it a house, too."

Big Sis: "You are crazy, Martha Ann. I never touched a toad in my life. I would never touch a toad. Never."

Little Sis: "Yes you did! We loved that game! You made it up! Yes, yes you did!"

This went on for quite some time. Now I'm left wondering, DID Dee-Dee make up the Toad Catcher game? Is Martha Ann right? How exactly was the game played? 

My husband and I went to check on our community garden plot today after a drive to take some photos of a wild shrub called Mexican Buckeye, that is finishing up blooming. You can spot last year's big pods and this year's immature ones on the same plant.

Mexican buckeye blooms and immature pods

Mexican buckeye new mexico

At the community garden, the wild morning glory (the kind that spreads on the ground, convovulvus) was just spreading and climbing up the sides of the plot, and I wanted to pull it back so that the boards were free of it and it couldn't clamber down into the bed itself. So, I started pulling weeds on my side, and my husband started pulling on his side.

Then, he said, "Whoa! A frog! A frog!" 

New Mexico Woodhouse Toad April 2021

Southwestern Woodhouse Toad

I went over there, and there was a big, maybe four-inch long disgruntled-looking toad sitting, now visible with the weeds pulled away from his little house. I was astounded! A big, clearly an aged, toad, in the desert!

I took a few quick photos and we hastily put the weeds back on top of him or her, and then loaded some pine straw on top of that. There are lots of weeds around some of the unclaimed plots, so I hope he will be all right. I hope he stays by my plot, though. I did an image search on Google and found out that he or she is definitely a Southwestern Woodhouse Toad. And I wonder, is this how the game of Toad Catcher started?

Friday, April 16, 2021

Just A Quick Hi and Thoughts About Veterans and Verbena

old wasp nest sand verbena and mesquite leaves

Oh, I wish the photos could do justice to how vivid the new leaves of mesquite trees are. They look "alien green" and against the very dark bark of a mesquite tree they are stunning! I had to pick a few from our tree, along with a sprig of sand verbena, to put on my shrine. But first I took a few photos of them on my "nature table," along with an empty wasps' nest I found.

purple sand verbena and green mesquite leaves leaflets

Both the mesquite and the sand verbena are very drought-tolerant. The sand verbena will bloom its head off with just a cup or so of water a week, but I like to give it more. It's that greediness for blooms again! More water means even more blooms. A single plant can spread about three feet square and have hundreds of blooms at once. The mesquite makes unremarkable small yellow flowers followed by loads of edible seed pods that are pretty messy on the ground, but really, anything that can live in the desert gets kudos from me. And bees just love the blooms.

The Virgin Mary at Fatima with sand verbena and mesquite

The students at school had a rare treat today, although they may not know this yet. A WWII veteran came by to speak of his years in the Navy during the war. Not only did he drive himself to school, at 100 years old, but he had all his wits and wisdom about him still. There are so few of these veterans left...he was in uniform, too, which billowed around him and tugged at my heart. Like my husband, he is all angles and sticks; his upper arm looked like it was about as big around as my wrist. You just don't see any overweight super-seniors. I unfortunately did not get to hear his talk, but did enjoy talking to him while he was waiting to speak to the students. He told me that our building used to be a kindergarten, long ago, and that his two children had attended it. Amazing!

And something else amazing: My husband has suddenly become very enthused about my community garden plot. But now I guess it's "our" plot or more realistically, HIS garden plot! He has timers and sprinklers and soaker hoses rigged up to water automatically, and he is pulling weeds (and yes, some seedlings, but hush!) and planting more seeds since I was worried my bush pumpkins hadn't appeared yet. He is fussing over the lemongrass clumps as if they were newborn pups! 

I hope your Friday is going well, and that the weekend will be a lovely one and a peaceful one. As always, I will light a Holy Candle for my blog friends when I visit the church after work. I love going into the dark church, lit only by the candles on the altar and in the votive banks. Thank'ee for stopping by!

Kind regards,

Olde Dame Holly

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

The Thirsty Clematis

Evidently the word "thirsty" means something else now. I can't keep up. Perhaps I don't want to keep up. I love words, yet I balk at many new definitions of words. They seem short-lived at best, and silly, almost always with some naughty or cheap connotation. I'll stick with the olde words, thank'ee. 

purple blue clematis

But back to my dear bargain clematis! Last year, alone on a table at Lowe's, looking pathetic, this poor plant, in a purple plastic pot, unchosen as a Mother's Day present, was a withered three inches of vine priced at $1.50. I had to rescue it. During the past year, it put out four small leaves, and didn't budge, baking in the desert sun. Then winter hit and it disappeared into the ground.

close up of purple blue clematis flower

But with the advent of spring, out it came, growing rapidly! It set five huge buds, and I waited for them to open. And waited. And waited. And then it hit me: It was thirsty. The small amounts of water dripped onto it by the irrigation system were only keeping it alive, not allowing it to flourish. So I "flood irrigated" the bed, and within minutes, the first flower unfurled! Within three hours, all were

I don't know why, but the blooms are a lot bluer in person, and bluer in the morning. 

I think I will do more flood irrigation now. I already flooded both sides of the courtyard again, and the brand new plants have set buds.

Ah, the courtyard. I am always talking about it. When it is revealed, you will be astounded. "Is that all? It's so small!" Yes, by the way I speak of it, you might be picturing something at Alhambra. It's more the size of a Master Bath. But when it's in full bloom, it is indeed pretty! I don't have it in me to have much in the way of landscaping anymore. Too old, too sore, too poor! But I enjoy my little courtyard garden.

I have been a bit exhausted by my new job, coming home, then doing the minimum, sometimes not even having the energy to eat dinner. Just straight to bed, no blogs, boo! I hope to catch up soon. I don't like to miss even one day of the blogging world! 

Friday, April 9, 2021

A Jug of Winecups, A Loaf of Bread, and Thou

I love the lyric poem known as The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, by the poet-astronomer of Persia. Edward Fitzgerald translated the most popular English version in 1859. I don't know how close it is to the original Persian thoughts, but his version is exceptionally beautiful. My title is a weak play on words; in one line of the poem (over 1,000 lines long!), the poet states, "A jug of wine, a loaf of bread, and thou" to his love -- all that he needs.

Not only are my winecups blooming, but I bought another small pot of them and have them planted in my new fire-ring in the courtyard! Winecups are native perennials, very low-growing, but with the blooms held on wiry stems well above the dark, deeply lobed leaves. 

winecup wine cups perennials

The hollyhock roots are planted, too. And the new lemongrass! I skulked through all the pots (do you do this, too?) until I found two that each had two plants growing, instead of just a single plant. Chuckling to myself (yes, I'm THAT crazy lady you see at the plant nursery), I put them into the cardboard tray along with the hollyhock packages.

Grrr, the local nursery is a very lightweight nursery, not like the old one, back in the old days, before I was old. The old one -- gee, it was only 30 years ago -- had it ALL. This one, no. I asked if they had Dutchman's Breeches. I want to be able to point to them in my courtyard and casually ask, "Do these Dutchman's Breeches make my butt look fat?" FOILED AGAIN.

Now, when you go to the garden center, use my other trick, too. Always heft the packs of roots or bulbs that are opaque. The packages are opaque so that light doesn't prematurely trigger the plants to grow, but it prevents being able to see the size of the roots, bulbs, or tubers. So, go by weight. You want the heaviest ones! 

And speaking of that...'ear ye, 'ear the grocery store, choose your corn and your artichokes that way. BY THE HEFT. Get the heaviest ones. I guarantee, you will never be disappointed in the ears of corn again.

Now, add an extra step for the artichokes. Put it next to your ear, and give it a squeeze. It must squeak. No, I am not pulling your leg. Make sure it squeaks. Squeak = fresh. Get the heaviest, squeakiest ones. You are most welcome.

"Class, what are some facts we have learned from today's post?" 

"Olde Dame Holly, we have learned about choosing double-planted pots, and heavy corn-on-the-cob, and heavy squeaking artichokes. And we have been reminded about The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. And we have learned you're a little crazy, but we knew that, really."

Class dismissed! And as always, thank'ee for stopping by.

Kind regards,

Olde Dame Holly