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Never Can Say Goodbye

Thursday, October 31, 2013

As I write, there is snain coming down, kind of a sloppy mix of snow and rain, too big to be rain and too wet to be snow. Snain. Chet Baker talks about sneet but I've never seen it. It's 40, going for the mid-30's tonight, and I really don't like it much. What I like is autumn. And summer. 

So what I do is dig summer up and cram it into my little greenhouse. It's the hardest working 64 square feet in Ohio.

The red center support pole is new. The greenhouse had a sag in its spine. The floorjack fixed it. Tools told me what to get. This is the east corner.

 Bill's ancient crown of thorns is in the east corner. I keep trying to cut it back and it has never once stopped blooming since I took it from his office. It's as if it thinks it'll get its multiple heads cut off if it ever stops blooming. I kind of like it tall and lanky, like an ocotillo. It can stay.

 Here's the west corner. Mmm. Looking floriferous.

I absolutely adore Salvia greggii "Desert Blaze." It has such an airy, icy look about it with those white-edged leaves. I know it would die over the winter, being a tender plant to start with. Add variegation and you have a really tender plant. Can't let that happen. Dug two up, brought them in.

I tried something this fall that I've never done. I brought my tuberoses inside. The only reason I did it is that there were about 10 plants just starting to bloom in late October! I think it was the cool, rainy summer we had. I planted them in April, but the plants just kind of lolled around in the wet soil, enjoying making more and more leaves, and they remembered why I planted them a bit too late to make good on their promise to get it done before frost. 

It was really too cold at night for them to put out much in the way of fragrance. What a waste! So I dug them up. Plopped them in planters and put them in the cart and brought them in. 

Now that was a fine sight, tuberoses going to their reward...another month of summer!

The heat of the greenhouse brings out the most exquisite fragrance, and it absolutely fills the little room with heaven when night falls.

They're delighted to keep growing and blooming. I'll have a month more of fragrance and beauty.

Some are still in spike! My darling you will never know 20 degrees.

Joining the tuberoses is my night-blooming jessamine, Cestrum nocturnum. Another jewel of the Solanaceae, or nightshade family. What a family. Potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant, tomatillos, Cestrum, to name just a few.

The New Guinea impatiens is so happy to come in out of the cold and unfurl its blazing perfect orange blossoms in welcome heat.

As is the mammilaria cactus, which has bloomed for me for 22 years.

And you have to love a mandevilla that's such a bright red it boggles the camera.

Color. Blazes and bushels of color. That's how we fight old man Winter here on Indigo Hill.

The Greenhouse, Occupied

Tuesday, October 29, 2013


It's just a whole 'nother thing, looking at this house all red and cornsilk yellow. I love it. I love the way it looks against the sky and the landscape. Forest green turns out to be a great accent color (along with cobalt blue) for the red. So the greenhouse, which was already pretty groovy-looking, looks even groovier now.

While the Big Sit was going on, I grabbed Tools, who didn't mind being pulled away from birdwatching. His favorite bird is a fast-rising ring-necked pheasant, anyway. I asked him to come down and look at the sagging roofline on the greenhouse. He recommended a support pole, a floorjack if you will, and even texted me a photo of it from our local Lowe's. My personal tool/gizmo shopper. It's a 7'0" - 7' 4" adjustable pole. You put it in place and crank it up until it's bearing some weight.

I didn't even know there was such a thing as a floorjack. That's what Tools is for. That, giant concrete drills, and decoration.

He arrived at the Big Sit like Knight Rider in a new graphite-gray Corvette, which was most unfortunate, because we had to look at that car all day long, sitting in our driveway, totally outclassing every other vehicle that arrived. It was harrible.

The manifestation of the floorjack. It's smack in the middle of the floorspace, which is taking some getting used to, but the greenhouse no longer looks swaybacked, like an elderly horse. And I like the color!

Now that's a nice topline. Much better. I'm also diggin' the ketchup and mustard color scheme of the house. Bill pointed that out. At first I was most chagrined, then embraced it.

 Inside, Salivia greggii "Desert Blaze" is blooming like mad! It survived transplanting and repotting without even so much as a shrug or dropped leaf. May it keep going. I'd love to carry it over the winter, since I'd been looking for it for about a decade without success, and found it at a farmer's market in Brunswick, Maine this summer.
This is one of my favorite plants, an icy bright variegation on a theme. In the foreground is a small red mandevilla that just had to come in when it got nippy. And the beautiful lacy-leaved vine in the corner is pink jasmine. I cannot wait until it blooms. It grew and grew all summer with nary a blossom. I think I see tiny buds...mmmm.

Geraniums "Frank Headley" and "Happy Thought Pink."

I keep trying to get a shot of the golden arbor vitae that does it justice. I'll have to wait for sun.

Every once in a great while, there is sun.

And when there is I scat up to the towertop to have a look-see. For those who wonder what it's like up there... looking north

 looking east

and looking south

and looking west as the sun drains away.

A House in Use

Sunday, October 27, 2013

The Big Sit was a housewarming, really, many of our favorite people coming from all over, bearing carbs for our table. There was a preponderance of doughnuts and baked goods made with apples, and it was all delicious!

I got to listen to Steve the Royal Meteorologist for the Whipple Bird Club give his weather report for the day. He has this radio voice I love, very resonant and authoritative.

Margaret and I arm-wrestled. These are actual, unretouched photographs of Zick beating someone, anyone, at arm wrestling. Beating Margaret!! who's been workin' out. Guess all that laundry totin' and lawn rakin' has had an impact.

Yee-haw! Ain't tellin' what we wuz wrasslin' fer.

Towertop was very very beautiful.

Having so many friends come was a treat in itself. But there was one housewarming gift I'd been looking forward to for months. Terry Lobdell came from northwest Pennsylvania with our sweet and wonderful friend Dallas, bearing bat boxes he'd made himself. Three of them. Not just bat boxes like you'd get at a nature shop. These are bat manses. Bat Taras. Bat Taj's. This is Mimi soaking up some of Terry's amazing bat wisdom. I didn't manage to get a photo of Dallas.

They're huge and heavy and well-insulated, with room for hundreds of bats inside three compartments. And Terry mounted two of them on our deck, and he put the third (an observation box you can OPEN UP so you can PEEK at the BATS through PLEXIGLAS) yes I am shouting
on a 4 x 4 that supports my clothesline. It was featured in the previous post.

Terry's van, which is a rolling hardware store. He is the cutest. He knows so much about bats, and yet he told me he learns volumes each season. I know how he feels. There is so very much to know about bats.

 I love that there are people on this earth going around doing things for bats, spending their own time and money helping creatures that terrify most people. That wasn't very well put, but you understand. It just moves me.

From the amount of time and thought Terry and Dallas put into mounting these boxes, I am sure that if there are bats to be got here, we will get them. Mimi, who loves bats more than I, if that were possible, came away with a serious case of bat box envy. We'll have to do something about that.

Terry broke for lunch in the Air Chair. Yes, he fed Chet Baker. That's what the tongue action's about.

Soon, it was time for a fashion show. Phoebe came out in her homecoming dress.

Oona led the processional.

Yes, That Oona. See her (and Chet) in 2007 here. OMgosh, Chet looks like he just came out of the dry cleaners, doesn't he? So crisp, so spiffy, so very young. Two, in fact. Lawd. And in December, he's about to be nine...

Speaking of things growing up right under your nose...

I made Phoebe take off the horse head for at least one photo. We like her color choice. It's a red red year here.

There was a whole lotta hangin' out going on that Sunday. The new porch, a huge hit. And technically, it still fell within the 17' Big Sit Circle when people were on the porch. So you could "birdwatch" from towertop or porch and still count what you saw, if you saw anything, which mostly we didn't.

Mimi and Marcy and Creeper Phoebs.

Later that afternoon, Ohio University English professor Mimi took Phoebe in hand for a trip through the Common Application for college. Yikes. This is something best done with a non-family member, Phoebe tells me. So much the better when it's a super-literate university educator huge Pirates fan musician singer bat loving and beloved non-family member.

Pawpaw processing will still happen, whether I can eat them or not. Now I just get to share them.

Sun will slant across the new front porch and the bonsais will turn red, then orange, then crimson

and the man who set it all in motion will finally exhale. Thank you, Bill.

And thank you to our friends at Before and After Remodeling.  Mighty nice work!

The Big Sit! with Dog

Thursday, October 24, 2013

This is one of the hardest-working homes in southeast Ohio. Four and often five people using it as a bivouac for their busy lives. And a steady stream of guests. For a place that's stuck in the middle of nowhere in a "depressed" area of Ohio, it does pretty good. Yes. I know "well" is the word to use there, but I'm being Appalachian right now, thank you. Been here a long time. It happens.

One of the really nice things that happened when the new front porch was built was that my bonsai bench had to be moved farther out alongside the house into the north bed, where it's easy to get to, to tend and admire. It had been stuck in the notch between the house and porch before. Hard to get to, and you couldn't see the beautiful trees. My oldest maple is doing its best to match the new siding as it turns toward fall!

Another is enjoying the sun on the far side of the new porch. I must say the colors set Chet Baker's shiny black coat off very nicely. He looks fab, doesn't he? And this shows you how big that little tree has gotten. Venerable. Chet can stand under it!

We were really hoping to get the new windows in before the Big Sit, which happened October 13. Donny brought his whole crew out on Friday October 11 and they did a window installation blitz with the newly arrived CORRECT Pella windows. Got them ALL in. Amazing. And they are so beautiful. We're seeing things in the landscape we have never seen before. 

New view out the east BR window. 

The middle box on the pole is the Observation Bat Box. Squeee! You can open it up and see BATS in it if you're lucky enough to get them. There's a sheet of plexiglas in between you and them if you're at all squeamy which I of course am not. 

South BR window view, orchids happily in place. Yowza!

The glorious huge living room window and its view of the meadow. We've truly never seen it from here, in 21 years.  That's the bell Piper the indigo bunting sings from.

But back to the Big Sit.

On the appointed Sunday, people started showing up. Chet Baker waited in the towertop to wash each face that came up the drop-down stairs into the towertop. You had to get many, many kisses from the Gatekeeper to be allowed to enter the Kingdom of Birding.

And if you had a cookie, you were expected to pay the Gatekeeper with a tithe.
He would remind you with gentle toenail prodding. Oinking, if that didn't work.

A Dog at the Big Sit by Seymour Butz

We attempted to counter his ButtVision by putting Chet Baker on his own special stool, but he only had eyes for cookies. This is him, asking to be helped down so he can beg some more. He spent the morning with us, and the afternoon hanging out with bored birders and a Kookerhondje named Wally in the front yard. It was a good day for Chet. Jason brought him a big red ball to pop.

 Kind of a slow Big Sit, with only 55 species logged (we try to break 70 in a good year). Probably the highlight was a passing peregrine in the afternoon doldrums, which lasted about 7 hours. That's OK. For us, it's a social event. Birds are a bonus. Because most of them leave here about two days before the Sit starts.

A few Cape May warblers hung around.

But the Lincoln's sparrow didn't. C'est la vie. Birds are where and when you find them. All birders know that.

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