Archive for August, 2008

Carol Scissorhands
August 28, 2008

To be or not to be…

William Shakespeare


My gardening skills are adequate; I’ve never taken the time to really study the basics (besides what I read in the paper), but rather I usually just experiment and see what happens. Particularly when transplanting existing plants to new locations or cutting back others, I figure it doesn’t hurt to try! Most times I am successful, but other times not.


Joel says that the plants all scream in terror when they see me coming at them with my lopping tool (or hedge trimmer or other pruning device). I actually enjoy shaping up shrubs and maybe when I grow up, I’ll be a tree trimmer! I think it would be fun to climb trees and shape them gracefully.


My latest “victim” was a corn plant (dracena) from Joel’s office. He’d gotten it years and years ago from a store nearby called “Tall Plants”. Corn plants are ubiquitous standbys in many offices, because they thrive without much attention and/or light. Except his was NOT thriving, and it looked terrible! Its pot was too small, so it was root-bound and suffering mightily.


We brought it home to get some “TLC” from me. It’s always been my experience that you can’t kill a corn plant, so I confidently removed it from its existing pot, separated the three trunks, whacked off the tops of each and transplanted them into new, roomier pots with fresh dirt and pine mulch.


Then I left the pots outside to get some real sunlight (in a shady spot, mind you after being inside all those years), humidity and rain instead of tap water. I waited and watched and watered as needed. Weeks went by… and I saw nothing. I finally told Joel I thought I’d actually killed his plant.


Procrastinator that I am, I just left those pots out there with the three stumps sticking out of them. I guess I got too busy with the whirlwind of my July and August activities and travels, so it wasn’t until I got back from my latest trip up to Colorado to deliver Bert that I strolled around the garden one evening to take a look at everything (note: we’ve had an unusually rainy, cooler August, which has been a real gift to our garden!).


Guess what I saw in those pots? Lush, new growth coming up from the bottoms of each stump! I was so excited I went in to get Joel to show him. Regarding this particular plant, I had begun to doubt my usual method of  “put a houseplant outside and it will thrive in our humid environment”. But it worked again! Success!


I’ll give the resulting new babies some time to establish themselves; they’ll need time to grow up and out before they can come “back inside”. In the meantime, I think Joel needs a new plant for his office, so I’d best go back to the Tall Plants! Dennis (the owner) will be happy to hear about my success story, AND I’m sure he’ll be delighted to sell me a new one. 


New York, New York
August 22, 2008

The Bronx is Up and the Battery’s Down….

On the Town (1949)


While recently in New York City, we stayed at the grand old Waldorf Astoria (or the Waldorf=Astoria as they style it) on Park Avenue. It’s a busy thoroughfare, not exactly conducive to running. I know I could have walked to Central Park (7 blocks away) and then run, but in the efficiency of time, I just went down to the fitness center and cranked out my 30 minutes on the treadmill. That, plus walking all over the place each afternoon probably equaled or bettered my daily fitness habits back home.


But as I opened the window shade on Saturday morning, August 9 and looked out to gauge the weather, I was charmed to see Park Avenue closed to vehicular traffic and a veritable parade of runners, bikers, strollers, dog walkers, rollerbladers and the like. I thought it must have been some organized race that one would have had to enter, but I was intrigued enough to forgo the fitness center and take a look at street level.


To my delight, I discovered that it was a city sponsored “Summer Street” day, to allow folks to get out and exercise. The route was miles long, and luckily for me, it passed right in front of our hotel. So I happily joined the pace and headed northwards towards the park, running right down the middle of the avenue.


Temps were mainly in the high 60’s with a low humidity- totally delightful for one who runs in Houston. But what I didn’t realize until I turned around to head back after 15 minutes (my halfway mark), was that I had been running uphill. It was gradual for sure, but in my flatland experience, the return trip was much easier (although my calf muscles had a serious talk with me afterwards).


Maybe I was a bit self conscious, being a tourist and all, but I do think I was the only gawker in the crowd of serious minded athletes. For sure I must have been the only one with earrings and lipstick… and I probably had the biggest smile on my face!

Ode to Maria
August 2, 2008

Which of us… is to do the hard and dirty work for the rest- and for what pay?

-John Ruskin (1865)


During the month of July, our excellent housekeeper traditionally takes a month off to go visit her family in Mexico. While Maria is away, our house seems to accrue a layer of dust, and everything appears dull. Windows and surfaces need cleaning, silver needs polishing, and dust bunnies roam freely along the baseboards.


As it so happens, we recently offered to co-host a wedding shower for the daughter of dear friends, along with the other “churchlady” friends in my happy hour group. It was difficult to find a date that would work for all seven of us (five hostesses, the bride and the mother of the bride, a fellow churchlady), but we settled on Sunday, July 27 for the happy hour shower. Of course, it had to be a happy hour!


Well, that date fell four weeks into Maria’s absence. Yikes! I knew I had to channel Maria before everyone came over, so I mapped out a plan and plotted my strategy. The week prior to the main event, I focused on one task daily, i.e. glass cleaning, dusting, vacuuming, cleaning bathrooms, polishing, etc. What takes her a day took me a week to do!


The physical nature of the tasks was to be expected, but I didn’t anticipate how exhausted I’d be afterwards! I now have a new appreciation for the difficulty of her job, which is something that I’d previously taken for granted.


With my method of concentrating on one task daily, I was able to tackle some fine detailing that Maria does not often have time for, such as removing lamp globes to wash them, or cleaning the ceiling fan blades. Washing the windows, inside and out, was a hot job, but armed with my new professional squeegee, I finished much more quickly than I’d estimated. Clean windows are especially delightful when the sun shines in!


Polishing silver and washing glassware (out, out damned spot!) were the final tasks on my list of things to do, and by the time the afternoon of the party arrived, I found myself sitting and reading the paper while awaiting the other churchladies who were bringing the food. We had a terrific time, and I was very pleased at how everything looked.


Maria may be surprised that things won’t be as bad as she expects them to be upon her return. She may also be surprised that half of the furniture upstairs is gone (to Shannon’s new house). I hope it is no surprise to her that I will welcome her back with a great deal of gratitude and appreciation for all the hard work she does every week to make our lives easier! All that, and a little something special for a very treasured person…


Note: Pewperson will return on Saturday, August 23