A Day...


The thermometer under our shaded porch reads 82*F. It feels much hotter in the sunshine, humidity or not. This wonderfully mild summer has so far been kind to us although the lack of rain causes stress on my more-delicate plants.

We spent the afternoon weeding the flower beds. Densely packed planting areas deter weeds, for the most part, but the crab grass thrives under the vibrant leaf canopies. We found three wild memosas, hardly two inches tall, and planted them in a spare pot. Perhaps I’ll overwinter them indoors and see if I can get them to thrive in the back garden next spring.

Mother nature doomed the lawns. A velvety tapestry of broad leaf monsters, stitchwort and clover took over large patches, filling in the spots where the heat (and gas line work of last year) has weakened the grasses.  It looks lovely when freshly mowed and viewed at a distance.
Biting flies drove us from the front porch. They attacked in small clusters while we watered the vegetation. Citronella candles do little to dissuade them.  (I paused to relight one just now and managed to drip hot wax down my favorite yellow tee shirt. Damn it all.)

Our peppers are thriving, as are the tomatoes. We’ll have good things to eat in another week or two. The basil thrives in the humidity, although the parsley isn’t too pleased with it. We plant anything else this year because we knew we wouldn’t have the energy to tend it. Porch gardening limits the amount of produce but is much simpler than trying to weed large beds or long rows.

Better Half has gone in search of a new propane tank so we can grill tonight. Yester, he picked up his favorite fresh burgers (nasty things stuffed with cheese and other products) and I found a pretty t-bone. We’ll rummage through the veg we didn’t eat last week and see what can be steamed. I’ve wanted to make corn and tomato salad but haven’t felt much like cooking this week.

I really don’t know where my energy went this season. My insomnia has kept me up until the wee hours of the morning (or later, say 6 am!) and I seemed to have turned into a diurnal sleeper. According to my mother, I was a nocturnal minster as a child, refusing to go to bed and nasty to wake up in the morning. I’d rather stay up all night and enjoy the tranquility than spend a day shackled to the phone or sitting in a café or park.  I’ve turned into an unequivocally antisocial shit. Go with your natural talents, I always say. The downside of this is that I have a long laundry list of things that I really need to get done if I can just get back to sleeping at night: phone calls to return, an Asian lilac to prune back, walks with Better Half in the park, CAP work and a newsletter to finish, and so on.

“Why don’t you do it now, Aut?”

Please. I’m getting ready to wash all the dirt and sweat off and take a nap.

Note to self: if you stuff weeds and trash into an empty soda can, don’t put it next to the fresh can. You’ll get a nose full of gunk when you try to drink out of it.

The Spider's Meal

I love my yards most in the early hours of the morning and at twilight. Wildlife is most active during these times, a beautifully orchestrated symphony of insects, birds and plant life.

This morning, I had hope to digitally capture the humming birds that had (finally!) returned to feed off of the memosa blooms. I wasn't very successful and occupied myself by photographing a few stills of my budding tomatoes and pepper flowers. A sudden, violent movement caught my eye.

A spider had snared a small beetle in her web. It had alighted as I was zooming in on a particularly graceful grouping of young tomatoes and the spider, lurking somewhere under the porch railing, burst onto her web with dazzling speed, snaring the befuddled insect and poisoning him.

It was a fabulous display but I wasn't able to recalibrate my camera to catch the entire dance. I had to settle with a few shots of her struggling with the dying insect before her feast.


My Birthday 2011

My birthday began at 2 AM – the Meowing Menace of Pembroke took it upon herself to herald in the new day by prowling the halls and bedroom, moaning and grinding against the bed like a feverish crack whore in need of a fix. It is her nightly ritual and it lasts until the wee hours of the morn. She wants to be pet. She wants to be kissed. She wants to sit on someone’s face or chest, vigorously propelling cat hair up their nostrils or into their eyes because they, her insignificant staff, can not possibly exist without her molecules breaching their every pore.  We don’t see her during the day (unless she graces us with her presence as she vomits up a hairball or some undigested kitty kibble).

Better Half had his PT appointment, we called Mum and she sung "Happy Birthday" to me, and then we headed to Pittsburgh. Our first stop was the Robinson Dennys (eternally pronounced den-WAHs) for my free birthday breakfast. It’s an Old Punk thing.  They were recovering from a breakfast rush (comprised mainly of loud, testosterone-packed young adults, and I do use “adult” loosely) so we had a bit of a wait. The waitress was a kindly dear, obviously overworked already, and the service was excellent.

We trekked through the Fort Pitt Tunnel and into Pittsburgh proper, weaving through grey streets bustling with pedestrian traffic. A very tangible pre-holiday feeling surrounded us.  ThePittsburgh Three Rivers Regatta begins tomorrow.  It will be wild.  

Phipps Conservatory  wasn’t as crowded as we’d expected. We renewed our membership, accepted some lovely coffee table books as gifts, and enthusiastically entered the Happiest Humid Spot in PA.
We had a delightful time. Our preferred exhibits are Butterfly Forest and Headwaters of the Amazon.  

Butterfly Forest is an all-ages-pleaser; children especially enjoy wandering the paths while graceful insects dance about them.   

The summer flower show is Living Harmoniously with Nature. It’s fascinating but I’m not into pop art or interpretive sculptures.


Orchid from the Frank Sarris Orchid Room

Fae Pathway

Mason bee hive

A vibrant display for sight, scent and taste

Beauty found clinging to concrete


Better Half releases his Inner Child


We stopped by Crystal on Penn for Lebanese food. Better Half and I ordered the lamb sandwich: large chucks of prime lamb and peppers stuffed into a perfect pita, served with a traditional sauce. It is casual dining and the bill was much less than we expected.  I’m going to try their kibbee next time around.

I finished off my day with phone calls to and from Mum and Dad, Better Half's Mom, and more family (I couldn’t get in touch with my Aunt Paul, and was really hoping to) and then some work in my own flower beds. The fireflies are out in force once again. 

I’m ready to embrace my forties. I’m eager to see what the next decade will bring. Most of all, I’m very happy to have family and friends, even if they are long-distance or bogged down with their own life’s journey.