Wednesday, May 29, 2013


As some of you know, I busted out a can of whup grass on my lawn on Tuesday, after it had been neglected for 11 whole days! When I was finished, I took a tour around the yard with great pride, admiring my handiwork. It was at that point that my "other" neighbor asked to borrow Lil' Red, my mower. I had sworn not to loan her to "that" neighbor, but I did, on the promise that her boyfriend, and not one of her sons, would do the mowing. Well, it so happened that while her boyfriend was mowing, the bolt holding on the blade sheared off. Nobody was hurt, thank goodness, and he was most apologetic, offering to pay for repairs, etc. 

I told the fellow I could fix it...not to worry. I tinkered with Red for a bit, assessed what I needed, and then came in to do some research on the Interwebz. I found what I was looking for, and also was reminded that my mower is pretty much the same design as several models of Troy-Bilt and Bolens mowers, both of which are sold by Lowe's. So I got up this morning and went over there (it's less than a mile from our house). I found the blade adapter kit I needed, and it was only 8 bucks! I also bought a new blade, as my old one had some serious dings in it (from my yard, for the record, which is why I take some responsibility for the bolt breaking). I'll take the old one to my father's shop in August and put a good edge on it, so I will have a nice sharp blade for next spring! 

Anyway, I also bit the bullet and bought a rather expensive set of easy-out screw/bolt extractor bits (20 bucks). I came home, borrowed Mr. Ken's drill, and within a half hour or so, I had extracted the broken bolt and outfitted Lil' Red with a new blade! 

It was at that point that I asked myself "what would Jesus do?" Seems Jesus is a bit busy, what with Syria and all, so John the Baptist answered. 

I told JTB that I had tried to do a good deed by loaning my neighbor my mower so that her boyfriend could mow the lawn that surely was not pleasing to anyone's eyes, but that the mower had broken and the neighbor's boyfriend had said he would pay for it, somehow, but, you know John, you can't squeeze blood from a turnip! John said, "what's a lawn?" So I explained as to how we plant grass and nurture it and groom it, so that it is pleasing to us, and we take great pride in this. 

John was perplexed! " plant animal fodder, and then you don't raise goats on it? Goats will give you milk and meat for the table, and hair and skin for clothing! Instead, you cut this 'lawn' with an infernal machine that makes most unpleasing noises and fouls the very air you need to breathe to stay alive?" 

Yeah, something like that. So JTB told me to abandon my machines, simplify my life, and become a shepherd of men. He said that's what Jesus would do. Ugh. Leave it to John to be blunt...I guess being beheaded for your beliefs will do that to you. 

So I asked myself what my father would do. That was easy. My father would repair the mower, and then go finish mowing the neighbor's yard, just to make sure the mower was truly "repaired." 

So that's just what I did.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Mr. Ken's Yard

When we first came to look at the little house in Xenia, we met Mr. Ken and his lovely wife Ruth. They have proven to be better neighbors than we could ever have hoped for, and are now genuine friends. When we headed out for our road trip, I left our hanging basket, on which I spent way too much but with which we have fallen in love, in his capable hands. Not only did he care for it, he also watered our miniature rose bush (which he and Ruth gave The Bug after her hip surgery), filled up the bird bath, and even filled up my bird feeders, so the birdies wouldn't forget my yard! We knew that he would keep an eye on the place, along with our excellent neighbors across the street. These two couples were among the original residents in this is "their" neighborhood...their home for more than five decades. Their watchfulness is MUCH appreciated! When I mentioned Mr. Ken's capable hands, I meant it. Here are some sights from his yard:

 He has three varieties of heirloom irises. One, a pale lavender and yellow iris, blooms early, and it is spent. 
The other two bloom later and are just past their prime.
 These are my favorites! Western Carolina colors :-)

 The all-yellow ones are very pretty, too.

Very sexy flowers!

 This is Mr. Ken's heirloom two of the three irises, it is a family legacy.
 These pics are a poor rendering of the deep, velvety color and texture of these gorgeous roses!

He also has some miniature roses.
They are so lovely!
And very hearty...they weather our winters well.

 He has two varieties of poppies.
 These are the "new" kind, and have just passed their peak.

This is the last of the "old-fashioned" poppies 

 And he has this heavenly mock orange bush...the aroma is intoxicating!

Finally, he bought this bright, cheery hanging basket for Ruth this spring. 

As for our basket? Well, let's just say it loves Ken and Ruth as much as we do.

And a bonus: our little yellow Rosie is blooming!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Roanoke Island

Wow. Such an historic, haunted place. It is much less touristy than Nags Head, etc., and beautiful as only a swampy, salt-marshy, piney coastal island can be :-)

First up, the Festival Park, home to the Queen Elizabeth II and interpretive exhibits...we thought it worth the ticket price:
 These roses set the tone.
 We loved this fuzzy flower!

 Replica of one of the vessels that, tragically, brought only death to the coastal Native Americans
 Still, beautiful and most historical
 Open hearth cooking on a wooden vessel in the Atlantic...what POSSIBLY could go wrong with that?
 Captain's Quarters, a haven of luxury in an otherwise very cramped, sparse below-decks
 Love this little boat!
 Decorative way to stow extra rope
She got a fresh coat of paint this spring...she'll be busy this summer, I imagine!

 The Festival Park has detailed exhibits of coastal Algonquian life, based primarily on the sketches of John White, governor of Roanoke Colony. Look him up on the won't be disappointed.
Smoking fish
 Enclosed long house
 Dance ring
 Examples of basket-weaving

 The Algonquians were masterful fishermen in the Sounds, as well as being farmers of maize and other crops.

 They also had a display of basic life for the colonists. This blacksmith was very good!
I loved walking amongst the loblolly pines...

 After lunch, an adventure in and of itself, we moved on to the Fort Raleigh historic site
 Fort Raleigh squirrel
 The squirrels ignored the sign, for the record
 Restored was a very small fort!
 Rehearsals were underway for the annual production of "The Lost Colony"
We loved this magnificent grapevine arbor!

 Roanoke Island also played a very significant role in the Civil War and the freedom struggle for enslaved African Americans, so I was pleased to see at least some emphasis on this at both the Festival Park and the Fort Raleigh site!

To our surprise, the highlight of the trip turned out to be the gorgeous Elizabethan Gardens, established and maintained by NC garden clubs and adjacent to the Fort Raleigh National Park. There is an admission fee, but heavens is it worth it!

Initially there was a period of torrential rain, but we were lucky enough to have made it to a comfy porch with rocking chairs...a perfect place to wait out the storm. Afterward, as we strolled the dripping gardens, we could on occasion hear singing from "The Lost Colony" rehearsal. It was really a magical afternoon!

 HRH Elizabeth presides over the gardens

A rather daring *ahem* Virginia Dare is on display as well...

 A highlight is the splendid sunken garden!
 It is presided over by Jupiter, among other dieties
Such a lovely example of this style of garden!

We wanted to take this birdbath home with us!

 But the real beauty was in the flowering plants, representative both of exotic flowers and the best of native NC flora.

The Bug's favorite!

 My favorites!!!

My father's beloved Sweet Bubbies!!! (Carolina Allspice bush, aka "sweet booby bush")

 Highlights from their small but delicious rose garden

 I love this was just the right combination of history and nature. There were birds everywhere singing in the trees, but the rain and clouds kept my eyes focused on the ground. Trust me, the eyes did not go wanting.