Sunday, November 23, 2014

It is Elegans

My prior post was a sad song about Central America, a link to a sad land.  Today, with the thankfulness season approaching, I promise more uplifting posts.  I will write instead about an interesting plant native to Guatemala.

I saw this plant in a fall herb garden at the National Arboretum one year and was intrigued since it was so hearty in late fall and still full of blooms.  I bought this plant last year for my herb garden as its common name is pineapple sage (Salvia elegans).  As a Master Gardener I did my research before planting...NOT.  I buy stuff and stick it where I need to put a plant and then hope it makes it without a lot of mollycoddling.  Fortunately it was in a place where it gets morning sun and afternoon shade, which is the perfect niche.  All of my soils are relatively rich and thus it grew like a house on fire.  I did my research later, and discovered this baby can get to be FIVE FEET high.  There goes a third of my small herb garden.

Does it smell or taste of pineapple you may ask?   I will copy text from one garden that sells it "Did I mention that it really does smell like pineapple? You may be skeptical about the fragrance. After all, the orange and chocolate mints may smell like their namesakes, but only if you concentrate really hard and use your imagination. Pineapple sage, on the other hand, really smells pineapple-y, and it's also an attractive plant in its own right."  No, I did not find a strong pineapple smell, but my old olfactory glands are not what they used to be.  The leaves are edible, but not striking in pungency like mint or sage.  The flowers can be used in fall salads and are a nice colorful addition.  The flowers are also a favorite of hummingbirds as the days grow short.  I think they look a little like hands giving directions ;-).

This plant, like a chrysanthemum, uses a photoreceptor protein and blooms as the day gets shorter.  So it is a nice accent to late fall gardens when other bloomers are going to sleep or forming seeds.  Pineapple sage forms blossoms as the day grows shorter and the nights longer which starts on June 21.  Cotton and rice are also short day plants.  Next year I am going to try more carefully to see if I can get the hummingbird at this plant.  I do not get many hummingbirds to my yard.  The plant freezes back to the ground after the first freeze, but may survive a harder winter if I mulch it carefully.  (It is not expensive to replant each year.)

I think the "elegans" name comes from the shape of the flowers - like ballerinas hands arching.   It is dainty, discriminating, and elegant.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Cancel Those Vacation Plans as the Ship is Sinking--A Thursday 13

My universe is cracking!

This is my Thursday Thirteen, which I have not done in a long time, and which, unfortunately instead of a thankfulness list, is reduced to a reality to do list!  (As a background, before you read ahead, this house was completed in 2006 so she does not yet have that patina of charming old age.)

  1. Front door knob not turning easily and slipping on the catch and door can swing open--I am sure that is how that mouse got in!
  2. Large burner on range not auto-lighting - using a match
  3. Deck steps to back yard are sinking to one side or I am having too much wine
  4. West wall on garage is cracked near door - probably sinking
  5. A few inches of taping on front room ceiling (two stories up above my head) coming loose due to a nasty storm years ago
  6. Taping in guest bedroom ceiling coming loose now
  7. Gate not hooked up to electricity, waiting on budget ease to hire electrician as we have given up on the solar panel option
  8. Some smoke alarms need to be replaced in basement and top floor but cannot find plug-ins that match
  9. Wine cooler not working (Yes, I see the small violin you are playing.)
  10. Water pump has low pressure--called for repair yesterday.  Repairman came and fixed it in an hour.  We were told it could have cost $1900, but our repair was only $100.  (Thankfulness #1)
  11. Gutters need cleaning badly and I will not let hubby up on the ladder and it is not in the budget for right now
  12. Window in right guest bedroom does not close easily--so I no longer open it!
  13. Driveway pavement needs cracks filled AGAIN!

Next Thursday Thirteen will be a thankfulness theme...I promise!(Thankfulness #2  ease on the future budget is that most of the spring vacation has been pre-paid.)

Post Script. Regarding Blogger stats:  My  most visited post (2394 visits) was this Thursday Thirteen back in September 2012... in case you are curious.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Time for Savory

Each weathercast directed our way indicates that a cold freeze is coming.  Each night the temps drop into the low 30sF and each morning things look chilled, but there is no 'frost on the pumpkin' yet.  Of course the only pumpkin that I have is inside on the table.  I purchased the one below because it has such lovely colors and textures.

But we know that Jack is coming and soon behind him his colder friend Hard.   Thus we headed outside with harvest baskets in hand to do some last minute collection in the garden.

The dramatic swings in temperature are causing these zavory peppers to crack.  They are not hot but have just bite of heat.  They also have a bit of fruity essence when dried and smoked and used in soups, on salads, and in marinades.

We have a small smoker that is very old but loyal.   Outside on the back patio is the sweet smell of wood smoke.

I spent a couple of hours yesterday afternoon pealing these cloves of garlic.  I washed them, steamed them in the microwave for a little over a minute to make them easier to peal.  Then they go into jars of olive oil and into the fridge and the rest of the ivory orbs go into ziplocks with a bit of olive oil and into the freezer.  We are sometimes to humid to let them hang dried all winter, but I do have a half dozen left for fresh cooking.

When all  is done I take some time to practice a bit of photography still life.   Yes, this is quick setup and should have had a nicer background and base, but the sun's lighting through the window caught my eye and that sun moves fast.  Those tiny limes were immature kaffir limes I had to harvest before a bit of pruning to bring the tree inside for winter.

Soon it is dinner time and this snapper filet will be baked in a savory garlic, curry, basil, smoked zavory pepper flakes sauce with fresh cloves of garlic and bits of kaffir lime.  Very savory!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Bloggers Are Like Coat Hangers

Maybe now is the time to take a walk to the post office and see if there is any snail mail that is worthy of my time.

I have 147 blogs listed on my blog role.  Many of them have been abandoned by their authors but they have not been removed from Blogger so I can sometimes go back and see what they used to write.  I sometimes wonder if the Library of Congress will archive some of these like they do the letters of pioneers and soldiers.  In other cases the authors have passed on for some of these idle blogs and they are, perhaps, blogging to his/her heart's content in some other part of the vast universe.  Their blog remains as a memorial and an example of how brave we can be when we fight that last great battle.

I add some new blogs every once in a while to my blog roll.  I do not go trolling for new blogs to read---who has the time?  But something catches my eye on a comment they have made to a blogger I read and thus I go read a few of their entries and then add them to my list because I find I am interested in what they have to say or the way they say it.  (I must admit that I have been thinking of trolling for Irish blogs as no Irish bloggers are on my list.  Smile.)

But what this could mean is I can lose my life (such as an old lady's life is) to reading blogs and living others' lives with too many demanding my attention and then I end up reading each of my well-known bloggers only intermittently.   I started thinking about this because a nice Blogger pinned one of my photos to Pinterest, which I have never used, but I was certainly flattered since he gave credit!  We grow whether we expect it or not.  How many lurkers read your blog but never comment?

Do any of you think about this?  Does Blogging add balance to your time or do you find it sometimes takes up too much of your time?  How many folks on your blog list?  How many do you "follow."  How often?

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Soldier's Poem


Do away with medals
Poppies and remembrance parades
Those boys were brave, we know
But look where it got them
Reduced to line after perfect line
Of white stones
Immobile, but glorious, exciting
To kids who haven’t yet learned
That bullets don’t make little red holes
They rip and smash and gouge
And drag the world’s dirt behind them
Remember lads, you won’t get laid
No matter how good your war stories
If you’re dead
So melt down the medals
Fuel the fire with paper poppies, war books and Arnie films
Stop playing the pipes, stop banging the drums
And stop writing fucking poems about it.

Poem written by Danny Martin.

"I am an ex soldier currently in the third year of an English and Creative Writing degree course in Liverpool. I was in the army for just under seven years, leaving in early 2006. I completed two tours of Iraq, totalling one year over there. Most of my poems are based around my experiences during my second tour (TELIC 6 in 2005), when I was serving as team signaller on a Tactical Air Control Party, mainly based around Maysaan province."

Sunday, November 09, 2014


Yesterday when I was home, with the afternoons becoming shorter and the air turning cooler as soon as the sun's angle begins to drop lower on the horizon, I retreated to my sitting room and went through emails and paid bills, later to read some story that takes place in a warmer climate while trying to not think about winter's gray finger pulling constantly at the sun.  But the river does not let me sit forever.  Soon she winks at me through the windows.  She giggles when the sunshine tickles her back and I have to put down my laptop and head outside with my camera.  This is a good thing, because I would have missed this if I ignored the flirtation.   The dance of river and light is just too seductive.  (Yes, this belongs on my other blog but there is a canoe trip going on there.)

So I put on my outdoor shoes and close off my email and go outside to smile for a while.

The sunlight bounces right off the top of the river into my eyes with fire.  It bathes the pomegranate, now as high at the second story bedroom window and devoid of its red fruit, into the most stunning "lime" light.  In the distance with trees throwing off leaves I can see my neighbors house once again.

Then what should happen but this morning while hubby left early to test his guns at the neighbors field, I was called again to my back yard to see what gifts Mother Earth left me to cheer me up against the shorter days.

These leaves are the exact color they were hanging above my head.  No hue or saturation adjustment as Mother Nature has an excellent palette.  Is is not a wonder that winter comes as such a shock to the soul?