Friday, November 7, 2008

Sittin' on the dock of the Bay....

So here we are, several days after Barack Obama's historic win for the presidency of the United States, and I'm struck by the difference between my parents' generation and that of my own.  I have the impression that older generations are astounded that we've elected an African-American to be our president.  My parents and grandparents saw much of the long, hard, and frequently violent struggle for equal rights for minorities.  I don't suppose they ever thought it would be possible for a black man to reach the highest office given the prevailing attitudes and political climate even 30 years ago.  Whereas my generation never doubted that we would have a non-white president some day, but we'd like to know why it took so long. 

As for the title of this post, we're off to San Francisco tomorrow morning for a little bit of work and a lot of fun 'n games!

Friday, October 17, 2008

End of the Season

The weekend forecast for the New River Valley is for low temperatures near freezing Saturday and Sunday nights.  Sigh, the garden season has come to its end.  I'll be picking all the remaining tomatoes, tomatillos, sweet peppers, and basil on Saturday.  Most of the plants have already died back, but my pineapple sage (Salvia elegans), with its brilliant scarlet blooms and delicious scent, is still going strong and I'll be sad to see it bite the dust.  My lion's ear (Leonotis leonurus) never bloomed this year, but it started growing tall and forming buds at the start of October.  I've been delusional in thinking that it, and that last late cosmo, might bloom before frost.  At least the curious spiky bud balls of the lion's ear will make an intriguing addition to the vase of coleus cuttings that I plan to take.  I had half a dozen different types of coleus in various pots this year.  Coleus is one of my favorite foliage plants, especially the very brightly colored ones or those with duck-foot leaves.  I often take cuttings to root throughout the summer, but I never recognized that they make a beautiful bouquet until just a couple of days ago.  I prefer pottery vases that hide the stringy roots that develop in the water.  If I'm going to root coleus, I might as well use them as a substitute for cut flowers.

Another chore for this Saturday will be moving the potted plants back indoors for the winter.  I'll have to set up a table in the basement for the gazillion amaryllis (amarylli?) bulbs I've kept over the years or started from seed.  Then there's the 4 foot tall dwarf banana, a Musa zebrina 'Rojo', I think....there wasn't a tag with it when my husband gave it to me for Easter 5-6 years ago.  It's done very well this summer and has 4 large pseudostems in the pot along with 2-3 smaller pups at the base.  At this point the banana has become just another member of the family and I hate the thought of losing it.  

What was I thinking when I decided to start all those different packs of basil varieties???  I had lime, lemon, cinnamon, blue spice, globe, and Red Rubin basil.  I think I had been enthralled with the idea of all those different flavors and scents and wanted to try them all at once, but in the end I never really used them, even though I had dozens of plants.  The lemon basil consistently reminded me of the smell of furniture polish each time I popped a leaf in my mouth.   At least the bees seemed to appreciate all the basil flowers, and the 4 x 4 foot patch of alternating purple and green basil I transplanted in the corner of the back yard was very pretty in late summer.  Next year I think I might just stick with the Genovese basil for pesto and an ornamental red variety for color.  Well, maybe just another couple of blue spice basil plants for variety.....oh wait, that's exactly how things got started this past spring. 

Thursday, October 16, 2008

I *heart* Halloween.

I love Halloween.  I always have, even as a child.  Of course it helps that my birthday is October 30.  As as child I had wonderful Halloween-themed birthday parties with costumes, pumpkins, candy, hot chocolate, running around in the dark, and presents.  Back in the relatively innocent 1970's, we would roam the neighborhoods by ourselves on Halloween night, scouting out the houses giving out the prime chocolate candy.  On the very best Halloween nights, the wind blew swirling leaves down the street, no one knew who you were in your costume, and your pillowcase was so full of candy it threatened to split from the weight and spill out on the sidewalk.  On the worst Halloween nights, it was cold enough that your parents made you wear a jacket over your costume and the adults gave out more candy corn than chocolate bars.  Still, the black night seemed exhilarating and spooky, but maybe that was a result from eating too much candy.  Now I can buy all the candy I could ever want whenever I want it, but sometimes I still wish I could experience once again that sense of freedom and anticipation I always felt on Halloween.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Spam 'n eggs

For whatever reason, mistook my little ol' blog here as a spam blog and locked the site down for multiple days.  I'm not sure what triggered the lockdown, other than inactivity while I got over my cold.  I don't have any links directing anyone to a commercial site, and frankly there's very little material here.  The most annoying part is that while was very prompt in telling me that my site had been quarantined as suspect in a blog Gitmo and that it would be deleted unless I responded to their query quickly, they never sent me an email along the lines of, "Oooops...egg on our face!  Clearly you don't have anything here to rouse our suspicion, so my bad!"  Thus ends my short-lived brush with notoriety as a spam blogger.   

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Consider the viruses that cause the common cold....

Sometime Thursday or maybe Friday morning I encountered a virus particle looking for a home.  Once introduced into my respiratory tract, said virus attached itself to one of my cells, injected its RNA into my cell, and began to replicate.  Later my hijacked cell burst open, releasing more copies of the virus, which in turn found other cells to hijack and create more copies.  In the meantime I developed the classic symptoms of the common cold:  a sore throat, sneezing, a runny nose, fatigue, and a stuffy head.  The virus and I have been in constant battle, with it trying to replicate as much as possible before my body's defenses can overwhelm it.  Think of it as a biological 'denial of service attack.'  The virus isn't's unable to reproduce on its own without the use of a host cell, namely one of mine.  This means that the virus doesn't meet the general definition of a living organism, one that is able to replicate on its own.  I just wonder if those viral particles don't experience a frisson of pleasure each time they hijack a cell.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Be careful what you wish for....

Another dreary, drizzly day suitable for hanging out on the sofa with the dog under a nice, comfy throw. Yesterday I longed for the chance for some "sofa time", and I was thrilled to take advantage of a slow Saturday afternoon to do so today. But I wasn't counting on harboring a gajillion rhinovirus particles that are currently making my nose run, my head stuffy, and my back ache. Instead of using the down time under a throw to plan out my upcoming week, I'm just concentrating on trying to breathe through my nose. Funny how a cold can turn you from being a reasonably intelligent person to a mouth-breathing cretin unable to focus on anything for more than a minute or two.

Friday, September 26, 2008

The first post of an embryonic blog....

Today is chilly and damp, with a constant drizzle that makes me want to go back to bed.  Or at least back to the sofa with a throw, the dachshund, a mug of coffee, and a good book.  Summer left the New River Valley early this year, but hopefully we'll have a long, drawn out fall.  I'm looking forward to warm sunny days followed by crisp nights, red maples blazing in the sunlight, bonfires with roasted marshmallows, and piles of pumpkins.  The rain we're getting right now will soften up the soil in the garden, making my fall landscaping chores that much easier.  If I can just get myself out from under the throw and off the sofa, that is.