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The Bulbs Go On

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I hope you had a happy Easter if you care about Easter. I don't, particularly, but I will say that yesterday was an absolutely glorious day, bright and calm and fine. I couldn't help thinking of people who had gotten new outfits, and and imagining how happy they would be to have such a lovely day to wear those new outfits. I was already in a good mood, but thinking of how happy so many other people would be, even if it involved a celebration I don't partake in, made me happier. That's how nice the weather was yesterday.

But I also liked Saturday, which was gray, damp and rainy. I spent Saturday afternoon with friends, and told them they HAD to visit Temple Square, because it's stunning right now. I swear, I've never seen anyplace as aggressive about planting bulbs as Salt Lake City--and the results are lovely. (I'm not saying there aren't other places that don't plant more, just that I haven't seen them.) I had already made a visit or two to TS to enjoy the bulbs--but it's just so hard to go there without being accosted by sister missionaries.

But I figured a damp Saturday evening, particularly when it was the evening before Easter, might be a good time to wander the gardens without being bothered by anyone wanting to chat me up about religion. And I was right! I got a few nods from people scurrying around without umbrellas, but not one was inclined to stop and talk to me, except for a guy sitting on a retaining wall right inside the gate to Temple Square. He had a large plastic cup of--something; he was so drunk I could smell the alcohol wafting off him even ten feet away. He asked my permission to say something he hoped wouldn't offend me, then told me I was a really good-looking lady. Since he didn't try to hit me up for change or ask me to hang out with him, I felt inclined to trust his sincerity, so I wished him a good evening, having had one myself.

And even though I suspected the light would be lousy and feared it might be too wet for photography, I took my camera. The light wasn't great, but the rain never became too heavy to interfere with taking a picture. So here are the results.

Stop and Smell the Lilacs

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Over the weekend I complained to a friend about some problem that's causing me anxiety and frustration. "I'm going to give you the standard cliched advice," she said. "You know: take one day at a time, and stop and smell the roses."

"Roses aren't out yet," I said. "I can't stop and smell them. Lilacs are doing pretty well right now, though, and I always stop to smell them."

I wasn't kidding, either. I love lilacs. I do my best to smell every single lilac I can find, because the sad truth about lilacs is, the blossoms are intensely beautiful to look at and to smell, but they don't last all that long, so you've got to sniff 'em while you can. Walking is one of my main forms of exercise; one particular route I often follow has several lilac bushes along the way, and I stop to enjoy each and every one I encounter.

I've noticed two things while doing this: 1) Some people seem to think it's really weird and roll their eyes at me, as if I've done something vulgar or indelicate. 2) Plenty of other people do it too--thank god, I might add, because it shows that it's not so very weird for me to smell a lilac, and also because it's really pleasurable and I don't think I should be the only one to enjoy this pleasure. A week or two ago, I turned a corner one evening to approach a yard that boasted two enormous lilacs, one white and one more, well, lilac-colored, only to see that the lilacs were already being sniffed. This couple had split up so that each of them could smell one of the plants. I slowed down, because although I have no hesitation about doing this myself, in public, somehow I'm shy about doing it in public with strangers. But as soon as they walked on I head straight to the bushes and smelled each one.

I got tired of relying on other gardeners for this pleasure, so a few years ago I planted my own lilac, past the corner of the garage, where I can still see it from the porch. I walk out and smell it a couple of times every day. I suppose I could cut a few stalks and bring them inside, but I rather like to leave flowers on the plants that produced them. It seems selfish to cut them. After all, they last longer if they're uncut, and then the garden as a whole is this pleasurable thing, not just for me but for others who see it.

Anyway, until we find a way to transmit smell over the internet, you'll have to settle for a visual depiction of my lilac, taken this morning.


The First Day of Spring Where I Live


Looks like this:


So if you live someplace where it's already green and bright; if you've already spotted those early harbingers of spring, crocuses, dainty but brave; if you've already seen a clump of sunny daffodils; if you've already been caught by the seductive, sweet scent of hyacinths (one of my very favorite flowers, of spring or any season); if you're already noticing the prim, proper appearance of tulips, whose petals remain close about their nectar, modest and protective no matter how bright their exteriors until they suddenly become frowzy and blowzy when summer's almost here; if you're already living with all that, well, all I can say right now is

Bite Me.

The Difference a Day Makes


Here's what my porch looked like a mere 48 hours ago:
My cat was so happy to sit in front of that door and watch all the excitement of my backyard. Bunnies! Birds! Chipmunks! It was great.
You can see Dinah playing jungle cat in this one. A bunny took up residence underneath a hosta just on the other side of that wall--it made Dinah nuts.
This is where I hung out all summer. It was great.
This is what it looks like now:


The plants are happy to be inside. The cat is not. She keeps demanding to be let out, but when she sees what the porch is like, she gets upset and comes back in. I sorta feel the same way.

This is currently one of my favorite plants. I like it because its buds are pink, but its blossoms are white.


I took a couple of photos trying to get the whole plant, but none of them showed it to advantage. It grows in a mound, with stalks extending out of it, and those are where the blossoms appear.


Anyone recognize it? I'd like to know what it's called.

My Neighbor Bernie Is a Nasty Mean Man


One of the many things that shocked and rather horrified me about the Midwest when I first moved there was the lack of fences dividing backyards. Sometimes there weren't even shrubberies or hedges--sometimes there was just a long communal yard, which I suppose was great if you liked your neighbors well enough to socialize with them, but what if you didn't?

The same state of affairs exists here in Pennsylvania. I don't get it. Have these people never realized the truthfulness of one of the mottos of the West, "Good fences make good neighbors"?

Actually, mere "fences" are only for people with really big plots of land--five or six acres--where all you need is something to mark the property line. If you live in some residential area and your neighbors' houses might be within fifty feet of yours, you need not a fence but a six-foot-high masonry wall so that they can't easily see what you do in your yard and you can't see what they do in theirs.

Except for a short stretch behind the garages, there's no fence or hedge or any sort of marker of the property line dividing my lot from my neighbors' on either side. As they are reasonable and nice enough people, this is not a problem, although I don't find it ideal. But the back of my lot is marked by a waist-high chain-link fence with a gate in it. And that is a problem. That is where I need a six-foot-high wall.

Look into My Irises

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A couple of years ago a friend gave me some irises that just weren't thriving at her house. I planted them in my front yard and they've done pretty well if I do say so myself. I don't generally like to cut my flowers--I like to leave them on the stem where they can do their flower thing and everyone who walks by my yard can enjoy them. But this year the stalks were so heavy with blooms that they fell over into the mud, which meant pretty much no one but some insects enjoyed them. So I cut them and stuck them in a vase, and here they are.

Gather Ye Roses

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Here's what the rose bush outside my front door looked like at the beginning of last week:


In other words, it was pretty darn warm for the Northeast at the end of November. November 30 it was warmer in northwestern Pennsylvania than it was in southern Arizona: at my house, the high was 67 degrees, while at my parents' house in Tucson, the high was 45 degrees.

Here's what my rose bush like at the end of last week:


In other words, it got cold.

Blooming Early Christmas


Check out my Christmas cactus!



OK, it has bloomed early, given that it's only the beginning of November. But it will feel like Christmas to me if I wake up Wednesday and find that the state I live in is no longer Santorustan!


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