February the New April

As threatened, I tweaked my new garden border some more, this time to enclose both trees.  Definitely a work-in-progress.  I also hoed weeds along some of the widened beds.

E has finished painting the new ceiling and installing a new light and other fixtures.  Next she has lots of tweaking of her own to do to complete the bathroom.

My most daunting task, to weed-whip the masses of invasive vine honeysuckle taking over the “prairie”, proved to be not so hard after all.  There’s still a lot to be whacked, but it’s not so overwhelming now.  While at it, I discovered four more cedars out there.

I inspected my little trees out on the lawn, and they appear to have survived the strange winter.

Here are maples and dogwoods budding out against the sky.  Besides daffodils blooming, the grape hyacinth has started.

I forgot to mention one more sign of an early spring–frogs are peeping in roadside puddles, and you can just make out spring peepers singing in the distance.  I know right?!

In fact, while working outside all morning and afternoon, I could have sworn it was April, not February.


Almost Spring Fever

I figured out something about living with climate change in Knoxville–anything after my birthday in mid February can be considered early spring for garden prep purposes.  At least if the large drifts of crocuses and daffodils spreading all over the garden, or the warm days of springlike rain, are any indication.

Thus, I’ve begun widening and re-edging the garden beds, in the process narrowing grass paths to decrease lawn area.  I’m creating a memory garden for E under “her” maple tree, to eventually be filled with her favorite tulips and perennial flowers.  The other widened areas will also naturalize with early spring bulb flowers, herbs, and later natives and perennial color.  This is just the beginning of the project.

Today, I went out in the rain and realigned the property line between us and the empty house with stakes and twine.  Later on I’ll fill it in with more stakes and wire or mesh, and plant flowering vines on it to create a natural screen.  The landlord has been showing his house to people, so I’m establishing our boundaries ahead this time.

Very soon, I’ll be setting up my flats for germinating veg transplants, like tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants, under my new grow-lights.  So you see, it may as well be spring.

For a few days, E has been busily installing new tongue-and-groove beaded cedar planks on the bathroom ceiling, and then painting them.  Here’s the first stage.  It already looks a whole lot better in there.

Throughout all this bustle, Misu is diligently supervising operations from the comfort of her rug throne on the washer, or new box in my office.  She’s always bemused by these weird humans constantly altering their surroundings.



My birthday was made complete by Avdi dropping by again, in between other engagements, to hang out, rest up, and change into dancing clothes.  He generously brought me a birthday bottle of Glenmorangie Scotch, which we enjoyed together.  Here he is, posing for me in his finery.

I also got to talk to my brother Robert, and together we solved the mystery of the vanishing See’s candy package!  It turned out to have been mis-delivered to the porch of the empty house next door, despite quite clear house numbers, where it sat for a week in the rain.  So typical of here.  No harm done, though.  So we had excellent scotch and chocolates.

Last but not least, my Annie’s veg seeds arrived just in time, which made me happy.  Next up–germinating transplants.

All in all, a very fine birthday.  I am fortunate.

Here are crocuses gone wild in all their finery, trying to outdo Avdi’s.

BD Musings

I guess the weirdest thing about being this old is, my own mother hasn’t remembered my birthday in years.  She has Alzheimer’s.  She barely knows who I am.  This is a woman who was OCD about remembering occasions and regularly sending cards and letters.  Family birthdays were big events.

Don’t take this the wrong way, but no one should live that long.  If I ever don’t remember my son or his birthday, please shoot me.  Avdi, if you’re reading this, please know that somewhere in my brain I’ll always know and love you, even if it doesn’t show!  Make a note!

I know there are people out there whose families have turned on them or were never there for them in the first place, whose birthdays go unnoticed for the most part.  I know that can be sadder than losing family members to dementia or even death.  I know I have it good, because I still have a few (dwindling, but some) family and friends who haven’t forgotten me.  I feel like I don’t deserve them, because I wasn’t always there for them, and still they come through for me.  I am not worthy!

Ok, that’s enough sniveling from me!  I’ll just say, find and keep around you the few people who are like true family, and never take them for granted.  It will be worth it to you later in life.  And a Happy Birthday to anyone who has been overlooked.



Tokyo to Paris in Knox

Here’s the thing about Knoxville–it defies stereotypes.  You can eat incredible, exquisitely-prepared Japanese/Asian food with some good saké and tea in cozy little Kaizen, then take a few steps down the street and find the lovely French Market Crêperie, with its high ceilings, chandeliers, and an extensive menu of both savory and sweet crêpes, coffees, teas, wines, and French bistro atmosphere.  We were at the latter for coffee only, as the Japanese dishes were more than enough.  You almost forget you’re in Tennessee.  Anyway, thanks to my generous son for a beautiful erev birthday lunch.  Now we’re taking a siesta pre-cake and drinks.




It’s erev my birthday, and what better way to celebrate than with my son, who is back from his various travels, and spending the day with us.  He’s taking us out for a special birthday lunch, in between working from here.  More on that when I see where we end up.

Here are E’s decorations and homemade cake, and Misu being all revved-up to see her boy.

It’s back to really cold out, so more like my traditional birthday, except for all the freeze-dried flowers outside.  My seeds are on the way, so there’s hope of true spring just around the corner.


Sponge World

It’s still raining, and looks to continue indefinitely.  It’s like a saturated sponge out there, with nowhere else for water to go.  Masses of birds and flowers are in their element, like a rainforest aviary.  Elsewhere in the area, there is massive flooding.  Up here on our soggy hill, it looks and feels like April used to, only more so.  Soon it will be one big birdbath.

Indoors, I’m about to order my veg seeds, and get set up for germinating transplants.  I think I was a little too ambitious last year, spreading my efforts too thin, with mediocre results.  This year I’ll simplify and focus on improving growing conditions for select plants with more chance of success. I anticipate drifts of naturalized perennial flowers returning with a vengeance, without any work on my part.  In the meantime, enjoy these unnatural forced tulips.

I think this will be the season the weedy field starts to turn the corner into more of a wildflower prairie with baby trees scattered throughout.  (With a lot of help from me, of course.)  I also hope to install a small pond out there, to attract more wildlife.  One day there will be frogs, if it kills me!

This has been a strange winter of record-setting extremes and unseasonal changes.  Never mind the backdrop of frightening historic politics.  It’s all a person can do to stay positive and hopeful.  In my case, plants and animals are my therapy.  I envy Misu, who just finds a higher perch in the closet and hunkers down.  Just look at her quizzical expression: “Settle down, human!”

I love watching more and more diverse species of birds and animals making themselves at home right outside my window.  Misu does, too, for different reasons!  I visualize a grove of native trees and plants surrounding us, providing food and shelter for native wildlife once again, as it should be.  It’s just a minute drop in the bucket, which I won’t live to see, but every tiny bit helps return our planet to the sustainable natural balance it depends upon to survive.






Actual Snow–In Feb.?!

It was such a shock, after 60s and flowers, to wake up to freezing snow!  In February, go figure.  So much novelty, I took some vids!  Hopefully, they work.  I’m still new to this.



Snow and Daffodils

I woke up to this–snow and freezing, with daffodils.  But hey, it beats what the rest of the region is going through.  It appears much of Knoxville is literally under water.  The deeper south got dozens of tornadoes and severe flooding.  I mean the kind with mobile homes and trucks floating down river.  And the midwest/northeast is under extreme snow and ice.  So I guess our unpredictable weather roller coaster is the new temperate.  It beats the political chaos all around us–on which I will refrain from commenting.  It’s too unspeakable.

Here is E’s latest challah, and morning scenes.