Friday, June 26, 2015

1 Month out

Four whole weeks have passed in this post-operative healing stage... I am a little restless on occasion and need to get out of the house, but otherwise, I have been content reading, knitting, Pinteresting and contemplating the amazing possibilities of..., oh, I don't know, the novel lurking in my brain or a higher score on Tetris. I have appreciated catching up on some sleep. I hope to have a healed ankle, as well as some other project to show for all this time off.

No rain and much less humidity this evening, so I got out into the yard to weed 3 of the 4 raised beds with Juli's help. The two "Cherry tomato" plants have some suspiciously large green tomatoes, but I will take what I can get and try not to believe both plants were mistakenly tagged. Our two tiny zucchini have rotted, but there is another starting which I hope will benefit from more sun and heat.

The roses are blooming less without sunshine, but overall, the foliage is a healthy green. Juli gave a dose of Neem oil spray to the arbor and fence roses which are the only two with some black spot fungus. Son Jim picked off and crushed about 50 Japanese beetles from the Knockout rose near the arbor. The rain has given the Japanese beetles a late and significantly limited attack so far this year.

With the amazing amount of rain that we have had, the perennial gardens have plants growing over each other. The lack of sun has limited the blooms though, so I hope there will be some sunny days soon to pop out some color. As you can see the Bleeding Heart is yellowing and dying back, the Black-Eyed Susans (rudebeckia) are nearly ready to bloom, and the gladiolas are starting to show some colorful buds.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Rain with local Flooding

A few posts back I mentioned our apparent "rainforest conditions," and they certainly have continued. It has been raining almost daily from the last couple weeks of May, until today with no anticipated dry spell forecast anytime soon. Weather data sites have determined May 2015 to be the wettest for Missouri in 120 years with rainfall accumulation between 7.5-10 inches (19-25cm) across the state. The Missouri River in downtown St. Charles has risen significantly in the last two days and has now breached the Lewis & Clark Museum parking lot, as well as the outer banks of Frontier Park. I am amazed how quickly a massive pile-up of drift wood collects around the barge when the river floods. With no end predicted to this thunderstorm weather pattern, we will be having significant summer flooding this year. Some rural farm roads between the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers are already impacted, see here .
Joe Pye Weed (foreground)

My garden is bursting with GREEN and blooming. The Joe Pye Weed is four feet tall! Poor Mr. Gnome is nearly lost in the foliage... The rain and steamy 93F/33C temperatures have all the garden plants achieving maximum proportions, unfortunately, that includes the less desirable weedy plants amongst them.

Currently, the soil is so saturated with rain that trees will soon be in danger of toppling over if we get any high winds associated with the remnants of Tropical storm Bill. "Bill" is supposed to arrive about midnight tonight and dump another 3-5 inches (7-12cm) of rain. The riverfront will certainly have more flooding by Sunday. Our local 4th of July fireworks are usually shot from a barge on the river, but Frontier park may not be accessible by that date. We will have to wait and see what develops.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Surprises and art

I found this painting fifteen years ago in a local antique/junk shop. I loved the colors, but what really drew my eye was the expression of light through the mountains, on the road and across the "stick man's" burdened shoulders. This oil painting has hung at the foot of my bed for the last fifteen years and it is the second thing I have seen all those mornings, after glaring at my alarm clock.

Initially, my curiosity had me attempting to research the artist's signature, but I had no luck deciphering it. So, the only other clues to date this painting were the nailed canvas and frame. The frame is hand carved and the beige painted matte is plaster, which suggests the artist framed his own work. I also think the surface of the oil painting has been varnished.This makes me guess early 1900's ? Who knows, but the locale has always felt Italian to me.

Over the years I have made up all sorts of stories about this man and his burden of sticks, some hopeful, others not. Then this wonderful painting, which I still smile at if I study it, faded into the environment of my home. I had no more questions, and I just lived with it... for fifteen years.

Imagine my surprise when I came across this photo in the UK Times Travel section, in an article titled, Summer in the Dolomites, by Sue Lawley, dated 19 February 2013 (the photo is uncredited). I am sitting in bed with my laptop yesterday, and a photograph depicting the location of my painting pops up. Eliminate that split rail fence and I swear I could drop my "stick man" into that photo. How cool is that?


Flushing Brain mud

 I am waxing philosophic, since I have had some uninterrupted quiet time to think. I have long envied individuals who could "get away," taking a big chunk of time to separate from the rigors of daily life and contemplate the world around them. Both Archimedes soaking in his famous "Eureka" bath, and Thoreau in his cabin took the time to slow down and get away, refreshing their minds for new ideas. Smart people taking their time to think...

Unfortunately, in today's busy climate with  instant access to everything, it is easy to forget there is a process to examining an idea, questioning it and then perhaps, mindfully creating something new. I am considering the perspective that we are being mentally buried in the clutter of social stuff, ranging from actual possessions to popular opinion determining how we live, think, act and look. So,
the upside to my twelve weeks hanging out at home is wow! I have gotten my long envied desire, a big chunk of time to separate & contemplate. And knit, read, maybe draw, tidy my room a bit at a time... I had better make a list!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Resting and reading

I am neither bored nor stir crazy yet, and it has been seventeen whole days! The first week I mostly slept and read. School had been exhausting this past semester. Add in some life/work stress combined with surgery and I definitely earned those few days I spent asleep for 12 hours. Intermittently, I'd wake up, read a few pages, then doze off again: recovery in a nutshell. Some of the books I had stockpiled in preparation of  post-op downtime were All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, and Monuments Men by Robert M. Edsel/ Brett Witter. Both were well written and interesting, a nice combo of fiction and non-fiction echoing the same historical time period.

I am currently totally hooked on the WWII/mid 1940's time frame. Some additional fun reads are the Louise Pearlie mystery series books by Sarah R. Shaber. The series starts with Louise's War which is set in 1942 Washington, D.C., so far there are only four books published.  Shaber's previous series, Dr. Simon Shaw murder mysteries, documents the Pearlie family 1942 back story in the book, Snipe Hunt. I have read this series too, and it is well written, based in Raleigh, NC. I appreciate that Ms. Shaber doesn't seem to need to write a series that continues on forever either; she has left Dr. Shaw on sabbatical after five books to write Louise's War. I appreciate the "quality, not quantity" approach to writing, formula series frankly get too predictable.

This last week I have started to feel like myself again and have been up more. I now have a lovely lime green cast to coordinate with my aluminum walker. The kids have nicknamed me "Skippy" as I negotiate between the kitchen, living room, bedroom and front porch.

I will admit I miss puttering in the garden more than anything, but my kids have been wonderful at assisting me to get my daily dose of the outside.The finch socks and humming bird feeders have been kept full and the lawn mowed. I am itching to do some pruning and weeding, but we have had buckets of rain and the yard is too soft for walker + chair gardening. The flowers and foliage are huge, thriving in virtual rainforest conditions with Missouri humidity.