Friday, December 29

Best Books of 2006

In the true spirit of the ever-questing librarian I aspire to be, I'm posting my list of my best reading experiences of the year on a page made with Google Labs' Page Creator. Take a look at my book page at And I recommend that people try out Google Page Maker. Just as with Blogger, you have a choice of attractive templates, and it's very easy to make a page. You can have up to five URLs, and I assume each one can have unlimited links to additional pages. I'm still trying to figure out whether I'm creating a site or a page and whether the distinction is real. My only complaint so far is that the discussion forum doesn't seem to be attended to too closely by the lab personnel. I'm spoiled by my experience with the amazing LibraryThing, where the blogs are read and responded to regularly by Tim and Abby. Of course, comparing LT with the Google behemoth is like comparing Malaprop's with Amazon.

Thursday, December 28

Merry Keshmish!

A Merry Keshmish, Froeliche Weinachten, and Merry Christmas to all! Happy Hannukah (over), Eid, Kwaanza, and Solstice! Let us reconcile the deep human need for light and warmth at the darkest time of year with all expressions of celebration both traditional and tacky, homegrown and commercial, religious and secular, pine green or pink aluminum. At the same time we are humbly aware of the desperation and intense want and need in places near and far. When we light the candle to warm our hearth and hearts we can use it to see as well the whole planet. In my head is the world; let my heart hold the world for a moment or a lifetime. Let us not be blind but see by the candle's light the world.

Heading west over the Tappan Zee Bridge in the river fog, you can't see Manhattan's towers to the south or the huge houses high up on the banks. I always wave hello to Simon Schama up there when I cross the Hudson, though he'd be baffled if he knew. It feels good to get west of the City, and to be headed for New Jersey and down to Pennsylvania. Radio is super as you drive through NJ: rock stations up and down the radio dial. Pennsylvania is good for surprises. You might be lucky enough to get an hour of polka music, including some modern polka folk-fusion, or you might, as I did this time, get to hear the incomparable "Second Week of Deer Camp." New Jersey rocks, Pennsylvania rolls. Though I'm glad to be going back home I'll miss these when I get to Virginia, where country and pop radio rule and local stations announce the upcoming Baptist funerals. ("Maisie Bledsoe of Clear Forks Community will be buried from the Clear Fork Hand of Jesus Independent Baptist Church on Thursday at 2 p.m. Mrs. Bledsoe was born in Grass Patch in 1918 but lived most of her life in Hay Stack. She will be missed by her six children, thirteen grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren. Mrs. Bledsoe was predeceased by her husband of sixty-four years, Elmer Wayne Bledsoe in 1998, her brothers Jack, Elmo, Lewis, Delmar, Buddy and Bobby, her sisters Della and Virgie, and a special friend Louisee Raymer. Memorials may be made to the Hay Stack Chihuahua Rescue Fund or to the Clear Fork Volunteer Fire Department.")

Enough. Glueckliche Neues Jahr!

Sunday, December 17

Cats and Curiouser

The cat has taste. She goes for the Pendleton bathrobe from the Sisters of Mercy Thriftshop (on Hendersonville Rd., in the K-Mart plaza) as soon as it's out of the bag. I have to wait till she lets me try it on.

Later. The old cat Tater has found another box. Earlier he tried three or four times to get into a Sam Adams box but tipped it over every time and then gave up. This shoe box is better, even if there's an empty tissue box in his way.

Old riddle: On which voyage did Columbus discover [sic] America? ..... His last one.

And now --- the most curious of all ---

Notice: I hope this isn't a violation of copyright. It's a snapshot of my fridge. I can hardly stop looking at it.

Tuesday, December 12

Blue and Pink Dawn

Hoy es la fiesta de la Virgen de Guadalupe en Mexico. The moon is in its last quarter, and it's the birthday of Dionne Warwick (1947), Frank Sinatra (1915) and Gustave Flaubert (1821). It is also the birthday of Jedidiah Luther Hyde, born in 1971, d. 1974, in Washington, DC.

Here's a poem for the waning moon:

Luna, la luna,

Comiendo su tuna,

Echando las cascaras

En la laguna.

And a reading from the Nova Scotia Public School Speller, henceforth referred to as NSPSS:

An ignorant vagrant lay by a crystal pool. His face was roguish. He had slept in the midst of an abundant growth of fragrant clover. It is a mystery how the knavish fellow lives. (Form III, Senior Grade, Lesson 22)

Monday, December 11


I've just finished my first reading of David Treuer's The Translation of Dr. Apelles, his third novel (after Little and The Hiawatha) and absolutely the best (so far). I began reading his books because David Treuer was a small boy in Washington, D.C., and was our neighbor when my children were small. Now he's a professor of English and a writer who deserves attention. His first two novels were fine but also fairly straighforward stories of Ojibwes who lived in two cultures, reservation life in northern Minnesota and urban life in a Minneapolis that you never hear about on Prairie Home Companion, a city with neighborhoods of poverty and bleakness, where Indians build skyscrapers because they can get paid for dangerous work that whites don't want to do. Both novels enmesh you fully in the lives of the protagonists and their families. The plotting is skillful, with important information revealed in successive layers, so that the reader doesn't fully understand the backgrounds and motivations of the characters until the end. Treuer's writing is strong and original.
But this new novel (2006) is a departure from the earlier, more traditional stories. While Dr. Apelles is also an Ojibwe living in the city and dealing with some of the same attitudes and stereotypes, his story is a more unique one, of a solitary man simultaneously translating an ancient Indian manuscript about a young pair of lovers and falling in love in his own life. Since's I'm puzzled by how it all turns out, this is all I'll say for now.
Treuer has also published a critical guide to Native American fiction, of which more later.

Sunday, December 10


Sparrows come in the first light, and the cardinal next, before the cats get out. I go out and pour warm water to make small pools in the ice and scatter seed. The birds peck on the ground, then drink. A little more light, and the cardinal and mourning dove arrive. A black neighbor's cat with white chest mirrors my cat, who is indoors, looking out. Then, attracted by the peanuts, blue jay lands, scaring off the cardinal. Later the cardinal returns with his mate. She feeds on the ground while he sits on the birdbath and drinks. Finally, the sun streams above the hemlocks.

Some keep the Sabbath going to church --

I keep it staying Home --
With a Bobolink for a Chorister --
And an Orchard, for a Dome --

I've never seen a bobolink, but the blue jay is enough for me.

Here are a few sentences from The Nova Scotia Public School Speller, 1917:

"The kingdom is to a great extent inaccessible and unexplored. Mountains run east and west, parallel to the straits. The almost perpendicular cliffs present a complex problem to the professional mountaineer."

Tuesday, December 5

Full Moon December Dawn

I have the best commute in the country, 25 minutes down a little valley with a view of the mountains to the west and a tall ridge to the east. Some mornings the back glow of dawn is stunning on the peaks of the Blue Ridge. It's a time to listen to npr and make the transition from home to work. I go under the Blue Ridge Parkway each time, but from the road, it's just an overpass. Because of increasing development, trees that previously blocked the view to the west have been cleared. This morning the full moon shone over the western ridge.

Saturday, December 2

December Morning

It's cold today, and bright, after a balmy spell. The winds came and blew away the warmth and clouds. The water in the birdbath was frozen. After I poured warm water over it to melt it, the small black cat was hanging out under the bath to catch the drippings on her paws and lick them off. Cats are certainly weird. I dreamed that I was at my inlaws and they had friendly kittens but I wasn't allowed to pick one up and talk with it or breathe into its fur. But when I went to bed, the kitten I'd erred with was there, waiting for me.

Later in the day the sun warmed everything up, and in the evening the gibbous moon rose among streaks of bright clouds. This picture wouldn't load, so now it's Sunday, less cold, no ice in the birdbath, mixed clouds and blue, and my picture has loaded. This is a new camera, and I vow to take good care of it. I'm trying to ignore the fact that I could have saved money by being patient and ordering the same model from J&R.

Later today: the fate of my totem. I miss him terribly.

Sunday dawn:
Note the bird's glowing egg. Okay, it's subtle, but it's a lovely egg.

Monday, November 27

Popcorn 1: Best Music of 2006

It's that time of year, yes, time for the annual best lists. Radio stations do it, book reviews and news organizations do it, so let's do it! My first installment, to be updated at will, is Best Music of 2006. In all these lists I include the best of my 2006 experiences in that genre, regardless of publication date. Get it? Okay, here we go.

Best Music of 2006

Emmy Lou Harris and Mark Knopfler -- All the Road Running

Kris Delmhorst -- Strange Conversation
Linda Ronstadt and Ann Savoy -- Adieu False Heart

Smokey Robinson -- Timeless Love

Bob Dylan et al. -- Masked and Anonymous (soundtrack CD)

Bruce Springsteen -- The Seeger Sessions

Andrea Zonn -- Love Goes On

Laura Cortese -- Hush

Andre Zonn - Love Goes On

Prairie Home Companion folks -- PHC, the movie, soundtrack cd

Sunday, November 26

November 25: warm day, hot music at night

Caleb was here for the week and left on Saturday the 25th, a day when the temperature got into the sixties and people went silly with raking and dogs barked at the activity. Cats lay in the sun, watching the doves and robins. My new neighbor raked and clipped all day. At night, the Blue Rags played an energetic dance show for old friends home for the holidays. "The Girl I Left (Behind Me)" got us tapping and jigging, and we never stopped till 1 a.m. Tom Sullivan celebrated his 56th birthday in the place where he'd had a skate party for his 6th, the Orange Peel. My car didn't get towed, as I knew it wouldn't. If it had, I'd have walked home, as I've done in two or three dreams, or gotten a ride. It's nice to live within walking distance just in case you have to walk. And it's good to have a dream image to inspire you.

Inside a Dog

Here's a neat site from Australia. It needs more growing but it's a beautiful start:

I took the picture from the site.

If you know some good dog books, you can suggest them there. They like other books too, but dog books are really good. I think I'll make my favorite dog book list now. See ya.

Saturday, November 25

New Food Blog

Snap! Crackle! Pop! True to my Betty Crocker designation I have started a food blog. It's at When my replacement camera comes I'll take a picture of my Berry Crocker medal.

Friday, November 24

Family Dinner

So for the curious, here's what we really did have. All recipes are from Plovokian Treasures, a treasure itself as a book, but anyway, here was the menu.

Pitsas (Finger foods, to start)

~Smoked sardines, chuncked and served with strips of purple eggplant and yellow peppers
~Small cabbages stuffed with shredded beetroot and horseradish

Black Plum Aperitif
Sparkling Prune Wine
Prune/Peach Brandy
Bosjanje Beer

Main Course

Wild Boar, spit-roasted
Blatjit Wild Grain Pilaf
Beet Greens with Pickles
Black Potato, Prune and Pepper Hotdijsh
Bread: Twisted Loaves with Seeds


Rose Hip Prune Jelly Kaks
Frozen Stirred Prune Cream served with fresh cream

Fish Last Course*

Smoked Eel Bites
Pickled Pearl Onions

Last Drink:
Pine Schnapps

* Plovakian Traditional meals usually end with fish, to clear the sweet from the palate and leave the diners with a good mouth

So Zack, you see you didn't miss any brains this time. But still wish you had been here.

Camera is on its way, last sighted in Baltimore. Like Ant and Bee's umbrella, it's on its journet.

Wednesday, November 22

Some Recipes I Won't Be Using

This Thanksgiving I will be making cranberry sauce and hashed Brussels sprounts (rather than the green beans I was asked to bring). I'm also bringing the wine. But in the spirit of colder weather and domestic time to spare, I've been looking at a couple of cookbooks from my kitchen shelf, and here are a few things I'm not making this year:

"Mama's Spawn Fritters," from We Share Our Best Cookbook, published in April of 1993 by the St. Andrew's Hospital Auxiliary in Boothbay Harbor, Maine. I guess spirits were running high along with the alewives and buds of early spring. From the recipe, submitted by Mrs. I.G. Koerber: "Papa used to bring home spawns in their casings, taken from mostly ground fish such as hake, haddock, cusk and cod.... I used to help Mama turn the casing inside out so we could scrape the eggs out into a big dish."

The "Puffed Fish" on p. 95, however, is quite good, if you really get the oven as hot as it says.


"Cod Sounds:" Of this tasty dish in Sarah Josepha Hale's The Good Housekeeper, Boston, 1841, and reissued by Dover under the supertitle of Early American Cookery, the writer says: "These are reckoned a great delicacy : and may be either boiled, baked, roasted or broiled. Previous to cooking in any way, the black skin all picked off, and washed clean ; then parboiled" and so on to the cooking and serving. Yum.
"Brawn," from The Country Housewife's Handbook, published by the Kent-West Kent Federation of Women's Istitutes (1975?). You wash 1 pig's head thoroughly, then put it with 2 onions, 1 pt. of water, some pepper and salt and 1 carrot into a covered pot. Simmer till tender. Lift the head on to a dish and remove the meat. then put the bones and skin back in and cook some more till it turns to jelly. Strain it, season it, put the meat back in, pour into a wet mold "to set and turn out in the usual way." Well! Very nourishing, I'm sure.
This book also contains the most charmingly named home foodstuff I've ever heard of, made from apples, pears, and plums and seasoned with lemon rind and ginger root:
"High Dumpsie Dearie Jam"
Now we come to Bulgarian Temptations, published by the Interhotels Balkantourist Resorts in Bulgairs, Sofia, 1981. I love this book, though as yet I haven't made a thing from it. But I'm sometimes lucky enough to find (at Big Lots) jars of Ajvar, a sweet red pepper spread from Bulgaria and wonderful with dark bread, cheese, and cold meat, fish and hardboiled eggs for a good Bulgarian breakfast.
Among the temptations in my cookbook are Army Salad, Blood Pudding, Pirin Hedgehog, Shashliks of Wild Boar, Mashed Nettles, Minnow Soup, Baked Lamb Guts, and Cocks Combs with Buckwheat. Now these people really know how to eat. It's no wonder I haven't chosen one recipe and tried it: where to begin?
A last suggestion. For breakfast on Thanksgiving morning, you might like to try something I've actually eaten, at the National Mall in Washington, D.C. during the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in about 1973 or '74. This is the wonderful "Brik a L'Ouef" as cooked there on the mall and written up in a small saffron-covered booklet of Tunisian Cooking. The brik is basically a raw egg sealed into puff pastry, dropped into very hot oil so that it cooks quickly. You then break through the crispy golden phyllo to the runny golden and white egg in the middle. Some strong Turkish coffee and fresh oranges go well with that, and harissaor Frank's hot sauce as a condiment.
Happy Eating

Tuesday, November 21

The Hiawatha

I've been reading fiction and criticism by David Treuer, a writer and English professor who is part Ojibwe and who was a very small boy in the Crestwood neighborhood of Washington, DC, in the early '70s when my children were small and we were neighbors. David was fair and his older brother Tony dark, mirroring their parents, Bob and Peggy. So many years later, when we've all fled for parts unknown, it's great fun to find this small boy now a very fine writer, and creating novels of the present day life of certain U. S. citizens in the late 20th century, with a strong sense of place, and of character, and a healthy literary style.

I read David Treuer's second novel, The Hiawatha, first, by chance. It took less than the prescribed 50 pages to pull me into the reality of the novel and into caring very much what happened to Simon and his kin. Involvement with the characters, carried along by the subtlety of the plot and the veracity of the style, bore me breathlessly through to the end. Now I'm reading Little, his first novel, and finding it no less compelling.

At the same time I want to continue in his Native American Fiction: a User's Manual to see what he has to say about my other enchanter, Erdrich, and the others he considers.

As I pointed out earlier, it's a matter of style and literature, not what you write about. But -- if the style and the artistry are good enough, then it's the particulars of individual human lives and their settings that hold your imagination and resonate in your head after the book is closed. Whether we're momentarily in Dublin or Minneapolis, in Albany or Troy, in Hannibal or in Colombo, we're captured and held in the net of fiction.

I wanted to like David Treuer's novels, because I knew him when he was a little boy, and I was afraid of being disappointed; but now I have to think of him as a Writer, not that young neighbor. He's a master, working on a large but also constricted canvas of human life in a certain part of this huge continent.

Don't Read Column 2!, or, My Shadow Library

These are some unsuggestions I got from LibraryThing's UnSuggester:

Riddley Walker (Russell Hoban)/ The Fiery Cross (Diana Gabaldon)
Middlemarch (George Eliot) / The Resurrection of the Son of God (N.T. Wright)
Winnie the Pooh (A.A. Milne) / Linked: the New Science of Networks (Albert-Laszlo )Barabasi
leaves of grass / seize the night
his dark materials / wild at heart: discovering the passionate soul of a man
make way for lucia (e.f. benson) /the dragon reborn (robert Jordan)

idylls of the king / who moved my cheese? (#2)
ahab's wife / don't make me think: a guide to web usability
one man's meat / vampire lestat
a box of matches / the hobbit (love 'em both)

alice in wonderland / sytematic theology
winnie ille pu / blindness
peter pan in kensington gardens / into thin air
norton anthology of modern poetry / the rule of four
ring of bright water / vampire lestat
rise of silas lapham / the wee, free men (!)
house of mirth / programming RUBY: the pragmatic program
the man with a load of mischief / the things they carried -- NO No NO!! I like them both!
outcast of redwall / the summons
coyote waits / his dark materials -- No! They're both fine!
voyages of dr. dolittle / nausea (?? !! seasick? )

Saturday, November 11

Veterans Day 2006

These are my father's dogtags from his days in Burma, with the Army Air Force during World War II. Because he was a Quaker he was a Conscientious Objector and could not therefore become an officer. He operated the radio in a plane flying supplies over the Hump into China. He wrote a letter home every day, on onion skin paper with his fountain pen. I have five notebooks with these letters and haven't read them all. He shipped out before I was born and came home in June of 1945, when I was 20 months old.
My mother's father, David C. Simmons, served in World War I and died not too many years after the war.
These are the people I know of in my family who served in the military.

Molvania, jchufg!

I am too much of laughing, and the salty water is coming from my eyes and the nose. Would that you could also enjoy the armchair visit to Molvania. But if you are going to the you will be flowing the salty water also from the facial places. Is too funny and also educational learning about the folk customs and entertainment situations in Molvania.

Please be mzy guejst.

Sunday, November 5

Property Values, or Quality of Life?

My neighbor up the street, at 6 Buckingham Ct. (the yellow house below on the left) said, in answer to my question of how he like the huge houses going up across the street from him, said, "Hmmm... Well, it'll raise property values." My feeling is that property values are plenty high here already and that Kenilworth is in no danger of becoming devalued. I would prefer that my little one-block long street, containing mostly 1920s "Craftsman style" (more or less) bungalows from the 1920s and '30s stay as it is. The big houses have been, until now, up on the avenue and down on the circle. I like my little house, and its neighbors, and my neighbors like their little houses. But Progress rolls inexorably on, and a neighbor on the next street to the north decided to subdivide his lovely property, which runs through to Buckingham Ct. (as all the properties once did) and build two enormous houses on his lot. They're not McMansions, I'll give you that, but to me they don't fit in with the character of our lovely little street. here are pictures of the typical Buckingham Ct. houses, and then the new Things:

I'm not sure that you can get the scale from this display; you'll just have to accept that these houses TOWER over the bungalows. The picture on the right shows the end of the one on the left, and its proximity to the one to its right (not pictured, as you have enough here). Not to mention that the lovely Spanish style stucco house behind these two (the one whose owner did the subdividing) was formerly an impressive-looking hosue. Now you can't even see it from my street.
(And not to mention, as well, that I have had to change my house number from 7 (which my son-in-law points out is a prime number, and I want to say is one digit above where I grew up in RI, at a house numbered 6) to 9 (not prime). My daughter says, It's not a big deal, Mom, get over it. Of course I will, but I don't like it. Plus, the mailman, who has nagged me to change my address and change the number on the mailbox, keeps delivering mail to me that belongs to the neighbors at former #5, now #7.)
Some of these things are, of course, piffle before the wind, as Mr. Salteena said, and on the grand scale I KNOW that I'm lucky (NOT Blessed, mind you, just lucky) to be a middle class American and have a nice house to live in. But we act and feel from where we are, and this is my diatribe for Sunday, November 5, which is Cary's birthday (also my brother-in-law), and I should send him greetings and then go out and buy some meat and green chiles for a stew for company tonight.

Saturday, November 4

The Road

I woke up the other morning at 4:00 and was inexplicably wide awake and refreshed. By my bedside was Cormac McCarthy's new novel, The Road. So I got up and grabbed a cat and made some coffee and sat in bed and read the book. At 7:00, when it was time to quickly get dressed and go to work, I finished the book. It's a stunning story. The only McCarthy I'd read before was All the Pretty Horses, and while I don't remember much about it I do remember that the language was intricate and fascinating. I haven't been tempted to read any of his since. But this one called out to me, and I ordered it online (yes, you can get new books at a discount from wonderful online booksellers, namely, which is my choice over Amazon.)
I think I'll have to read it again, to really savor it and remember details. It's a post-apocalyptic story, very bleak and almost hopeless, but whether or not you take the ending as a hope of some better future for the human race (one reviewer speaks of a deus ex machina at the very end, a criticism that suggests a copout on the part of the writer), what transforms the black ash bleakness of the story is the relationship of love and the dogged going-on of the father and small son. Whatever is to happen next is left to our imagination. Rather than doing a copout, I think McCarthy wants us to ponder the possibilities forever. After all, an open-ended story lingers in one's mind a long time, possibly forever, something I realized at age 14 when I read Gone With the Wind.
The world of the novel is desperate and desolate and dangerous. And yet the father holds his child's hand and keeps going, toward the coast. As you read, you think, but why? what will they find but more desolation? But some essential life energy keeps them going, and the father's love for his son and the son's trust in his father. "We're the good guys, right?" "Right." To his father's insistence that they keep on going, the son always replies, "Okay." It's hope still working in a hopeless world, and the trust of a child in his parent.
And let me be maybe the first in cyberspace to link this book to two other haunting books, both by Russell Hoban: Riddley Walker and The Mouse and His Child. The former is an obvious connexion: the post-apocalytic world. But although the journey of the Mouse and his Child is set in an un-ruined world, it's still a story of love and hope in a bleak and confusing landscape. So far, a Google search to link the Mouse to this new novel yields no results. We'll see if it strikes anyone else. I've put it out on the kraken, the Hoban group on the web.

Friday, November 3

Dawn Glimpse of My Totem

The camera caught a glimpse of him from my car on my way to work. He lights my travels and inspires me. Closer-ups to come.

Saturday, October 28


Now, I'm a confirmed coffee drinker and hate tea. Tea makes me feel ill. But in Tom Hodgkinson's wonderful book How to Be Idle (HarperCollins, 2005, in its first U.S. edition), tea is praised as the civilized drink for people who desire to savor life and eschew the frenetic pace of post-industrial life, which he sees as fueled by coffee. Here is a portion of a 16th century Chinese poem by Hsu Ts'eshu (there's suposed to be an umlaut or the Chinese equivalent on the first "u"), as quoted by Hodgkinson:

Proper Moments for Drinking Tea

When one's heart and hands are idle...

Tired after reading poetry...

Engaged in conversation deep at night...

Before a bright window and a clean desk...

When the day is clear and the breeze is mild...

On a day of light showers...

In a painted boat near a small wooden bridge...

In a forest with tall bamboos...

In a pavilion overlooking lotus flowers on a summer day...

In a quiet, secluded temple...

Near famous springs and quaint rocks....

My picture is from a local Middle Eastern restaurant, where more coffee is consumed than tea, but it suggests a similar inclination for relaxing, drinking, and conversing. And here's another local spot for idling:

Thursday, October 26

Sitting Outdoors
On a lovely fall afternoon I'm lucky to be able to sit in my front yard. This is the first weekend in a month that I've been home, with no family or work engagements. Some people spend their weekends at that patriotic American activity called "shopping." I try to avoid it as much as possible. Maybe I should be at Home Depot, buying things to imrpove my house, but right now I'd rather enjoy my house, my yard, the sky.
Over the years at my job most of my favorite people have moved on. One was a radiant man, a music teacher who loved to spend a weekend when he could in Buddhist meditation, sitting for the weekend. He left this job because it was too hectic for him and his wife. I still miss Ramon. He was an energetic and enthusiastic teacher who loved his work but prefered a wider margin to his life, like Thoreau.
I've just started to read a new book, "How to Be Idle." More of this later.
Disclaimer: I read the newspapers and listen to npr daily and am well aware of the luxury we have living in relative comfort in this country. I realize that thinking about being idle and sitting and looking at the sky are great luxuries which a lot of the world can't enjoy. This is one of life's great puzzles. Shouldn't we be giving up all we have and going out to right the world's wrongs? Yes, but... most of us don't. So I live with the discomfort and the ambivalence of being a comfortable American, and I sit and watch the bees come to my flowers. It beats shopping.

Tuesday, October 24

Seed Packets

I can't find the packet for the Love-in-a-Puff (Cardiospermum haliacabam), aka Balloon vine or Heartseed, but these are the packets of the climbing vine seeds I planted this year. In the lower right corner is the flowering spinach, which so far is only about six inches high, with thick leathery (edible) leaves. Maybe it will flower before frost, but it doesn't seem likely. There was snow on Mount Mitchell last night. That's over 6000 feet above sea level, and the city of Asheville is only about 2200, but winter's coming. The boys from the Bahamas and Jamaica are freezing. In fact, they started wearing winter gear as soon as daytime temperatures got down to 60. One of the Jamaican boys has a Brown sweatshirt, because his sister is in her second year there. "Does she like it?" "She hates it." "Why? Because it's too cold?" "Yes. "Do you think you might go to Brown?" "No!"

Sunday, October 22

Flowering Vines

No killing frost yet, so my climbing vines are still flowering. I've been watching some big fat buds, hoping for another moonflower. Last evening before dark, two buds began to open, showing blue. Here are the two heavenly blues this morning.
The Love-in-a-Puff (can't find the packet and don't remember its scientific name) is a climbing vine with intricately-cut leaves, delicate white flowers, and pale green inflated pods the size of grapes. It's one of my favorites, though it's showy only to a close-up observer:

The translucency of the globes doesn't show up well. Maybe a late afternoon picture with the sun from the west will do this vine justice. I'll try later in the day.