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Saturday, April 30, 2005

Why I'm Southern-it's in the genes 

I hope you saw the invite that all the bloggers in the Southern Blogs ring shared. "Southern Blogs Ring, the premier source on Southern culture, manner, missive and nostalgia will be holding a group blog to celebrate being alive, southern and free all at the same time." You may be asking yourself what the topic of discussion will be so here it is. The topic for the day is why I consider myself Southern.

I've talked about the Southern Blogs ring before and how being southern is for all those bloggers who take pride in the rich heritage of their southernness: the south side, south of France, south of the border, southpaws, South Bend, or just plain south of center. I fit in by being a southpaw and pretty south of center but that's a whole 'nother post. So I started thinking about what my contribution to the group post would be and here's what I came up with - it's definitely in the genes. My dad is originally from Virginia, my mom is from Louisiana, I was born and raised in Maryland and now live happily in Florida. Virginia and Maryland may not seem real south to true southerners but my mother's heritage from Louisiana gives me the gold key to the southern door.

Here's the story about my mom - her dad worked on a plantation and, sad to say, he was a slave master. It was that time in the country and there's nothing that can be changed about it, so there it is. My mother and her siblings were actually born on plantations such as Evergreen and, I believe, Houmas House or it may have been Oak Alley. Nonetheless, that's a pretty cool heritage to have, minus the slave stuff of course, and my mother has lots of stories to share. She is quite the southern belle even to this day and that, my friends, is a whole 'nother blog or five. Anyway, I come by southernness honestly. All my remaining relatives in Louisiana have that lush Louisiana speak - better than Dennis Quaid in the Big Easy - and to this day I get a chill every time I speak to or hear someone with that Luziana accent. Whoo Cher.

So I'm southern. My sister, Dee, is so southern she can conjure up a gris-gris and make it stick! I'm thinkin' that's a whole other blog story that I'll share some day. In the meantime, I'm southern, I feel southern and that's the end of the story for now. Oh, and for good measure I really am a southpaw. If you are southern, feel southern or have any inkling of southern in your genes join the ring. You'll be glad you did. Happy Gardening.

Friday, April 29, 2005

A new blog... 

and a bit of clover history from Dave in Massachusetts. Dave responded to a note I had on my Plant Tips page regarding the benefits of clover. So many folks try to eradicate it from their lawns and don't fully understand all the good that clover brings. Dave mentioned that "it was actually added to quality seed mixes until (in the 1940s) the development of selective herbicides that killed broad-leaved plants but left grasses alone. Since the chemicals killed clover, clover had to be "demonized" -- making a drawback into a positive for the herbicides."

Wooded Paths is the new blog by Dave, who'll be writing about gardening on a partially wooded house site, with "public" (access to pedestrians and bicycles) and private paths into the woods. Go take a look when you get a chance. Happy Gardening, and thanks again Dave for the history lesson.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

A gardener's game 

I was spreading mulch in my side garden today and, as usual, my mind was wandering to all things plant like. For some goofy reason I started listing plants in my mind from A-Z just to see if I could do it. The more I thought about it the more intriguing it became. When I came in for lunch, I told my husband about it and he started trying to list plants. "Ah, not as easy as it sounds," he said. "Sounds like a blog." What do you think? Can you list a plant (any type) from A-Z without looking in your garden or any reference books or the internet? I'll bet you can. Want to see my results? I've got to confess I was stumped at U and X:

My husband came to my rescue on U for Umbrella tree but we just couldn't come up with anything for X so I finally cheated and found Xeranthemum. Give it a try - you may just surprise yourself as to how many plants you know. Happy Gardening.

Dogproofing the backyard... 

or how the heck did they get out? As I mentioned a few weeks ago, we have a new baby in the house. Full of energy, Nicky tears around the yard sniffing everything and creating total havoc for the other boys. Not only does he cause trouble with the other guys by jumping in their faces, Nicky is also an escapee. We don't believe it is intentional, but rather more of a game for him to explore new sights and sounds and see how quickly Mom and Dad will come running after him.

We've had a few scares. The first outbound trip was when my sister Dee came to visit. Duncan, our affenpinscher, decided it was time to lead the new little bugger astray so he ran through the door followed closely by Nicky. My husband set out on foot and I jumped in the car. Duncan, as you can guess not only a troublemaker but a former runner, came back right away. After all, he had ditched the kid and was happy to have his home and family back exactly the way he wanted it. Nicky was about 2 blocks away where we were able to coax him into the car and bring him home safely. There were two other adventures with Nicky - one escape through an open garage door, shame on us, and another we thought by climbing the fence, shame on him.

Things started to settle down and we kept a very close eye on his every move. Then came last Sunday morning. Harlan had taken the boys out for their morning constitutional while I lounged at the kitchen bar with the paper and coffee. Then it happened. I heard my husband yelling for Nicky and sprinting across the backyard. I went out the front door knowing that the little shit had taken off again - not sure how but knowing full well he would be out front. I grabbed the car keys, jumped in the car and drove slowly down about 4 houses where Nicky was sniffing around. I opened the car door, called softly for him to come, fully expecting he would, and then sat astounded as he laughed at me (or it sure seemed that way) and took off down the street. Ah - he had learned a new game. Let's get Mom to chase me in the car. Sure enough, he would run ahead and wait for me. As I approached and called his name, he would take off again. Now, picture this or maybe not. He's running, stops to sniff and lets me catch up. Then takes off again. I'm in my car in a bathrobe with no shoes, no drawers and no driver's license. Can you imagine what a police officer would have said to me if I had been stopped? "Alright lady, this isn't the time of day or neighborhood to be peddling your wares. I'm runnin' you in!" Holy gaucamole! Will that damn dog ever stop??!! Finally, what seemed like miles but was more like three blocks Nicky had to poop. I took advantage of the opportunity, grabbed his butt and threw him in the car.

Needless to say, Nicky was grounded for life after the bathrobe fiasco. He was on a leash from then until we could figure out how he escaped. It took a while but we realized that, with the lack of rain, the pond had evaporated enough that he could get around the cattails and go visit the neighbor's yard. Ah ha! The light bulb went off and we knew we had to extend the fence into the water. Especially after Max decided to go exploring on the other side of the yard the next day and visited the other neighbor! The good news is Max loves having a home and came to Harlan as soon as he was called, but who needs dogs running all over the neighborhood. There's enough of that without our contributions. So, long story long. Harlan fixed the fence yesterday by extending it on both sides about 5 feet into the water. We finally let Nick off the leash but still stay within eyeshot just in case. So, moral of the story is this. Next time you see a woman running around your neighborhood half-nekkid be kind. She may be looking for her little dog. Happy Gardening.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Hey y'all 

Southern Blogs Ring, the premier source on Southern culture, manner, missive and nostalgia will be holding a group blog to celebrate being alive, southern and free all at the same time.

Y’all are cordially invited Saturday April 30th to attend our first neighborhood cotillion and brunch.

The menu will be a light repast of Southern classics and down home cooked tales served up with Southern style and taste by your hosts:

The Green Cutting Board
Animal Broadcast Network
Wacky Southern Housewife
The World According to Tish
The Garden's Gift
Which Blair Project
Florida Gardening
A Southern Belle's Musings
An American Housewife
Garden Stuff
Southern Porch

Guests will be offered words, photographs, entertainment and some surprises, to be sure. So plan to attend and spend some time with us in the South.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Unearthed walkways 

I was reading Better Homes & Garden recently and there was an article about a woman who had purchased a home with a stable. The information went on to report that this woman, a gardener, just happened to be digging around and uncovered a brick. One brick led to another and she wound up discovering a crosswalk from her home to the stable. Reading about her reminded me of a similar experience with our home in Maryland.

I had envisioned a garden in our backyard in front of an old brick barbeque that was not usable without a lot of renovation. Using my trowel, I started to remove some sod and hit something hard. Same kind of thing for me - I began pulling up sod and discovered an entire brick patio smack in front of the barbeque. What a cool find. We wound up planting creeping thyme among the bricks and used the barbeque to house container plants. But here's the rest of the story. Apparently the woman from whom we purchased the house had lived there all of her life from the time of her parents and through her two marriages. She had one child who, when of age, went into the military to fight in WWII. He came home on leave and built her the barbeque and patio. When he returned to duty, her son was killed in a freak accident. He fell off the back of a truck hitting his head.

Here's why I'm telling you the rest of the story, as Paul Harvey would say. When my husband and I had built out our gardens complete with fish pond, we took a picture and sent it to my folks so they could see our property. They had already relocated from Maryland at that time so never saw our house. A week later I called to see how they were doing and my Dad asked, "Who is that soldier in the picture you sent?" Did I just give you chills? That was my reaction - I said, "What soldier?" He told me there was a soldier standing next to the barbeque looking toward the house as though he had posed for the picture. I told my dad there was no one in the yard at the time the picture was taken, but he insisted. He also sent me the picture back with the area circled so we could see it. When we received the pic, there was no person standing in the circle. So the question is did my Dad see Edith's son or are we just NOT seeing him? Who knows but based on other experiences we had living there, I would venture to guess he was there all the time overseeing our efforts. Happy Gardening and Edith, if you're looking over my shoulder, this one's for you.

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Thanks to Andrew Stenning who contributed the photograph for our masthead

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