Thursday, December 31, 2009

can't grow this in Cleveland

At least not in December and not as perennials. We spent a couple of days hanging out with Sean's mom Annie. She is quite the gardener. She has an orange bush and a lime bush in her front yard. She lets the neighborhood kids pick the fruit. Imagine getting your morning orange by walking out your front door. It's that whole mystique thing. She also has a bunch of rose bushes. Pat and I don't have any rose bushes in our yard. I think it's because of the fear factor regarding all the things that can go wrong with the plant in wet climes. Roses are another surprise every time we visit southern California. I know, I know, the Rose Parade and Rose Bowl are in southern California, but the Rose Bowl has always been someplace where Big Ten teams go to die. Roses seem to grow like weeds. The purple fountain grass is close to 6 feet tall and it is a perennial. Ours live in pots, grow about 18 inches tall and die off in the fall. While I was taking pictures, Pat and Annie were discussing the finer points about the plant, like their names and such. I really need to pay attention.

Look, mountains in the background. Is that not cool or what.

I haven't a clue. It looks like something that you would see in a Sergio Leone western.

You can almost feel the fuzz on this flower.

I had to put a pic of a mountain in at least one of my posts. Plus if you look real hard, you can see the moon -- or maybe it's just a spot on my screen.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009


Maybe it's because I'm from an area where it snows and people ice fish in the winter. I have a cherry tree in the back yard and grew up with apple trees. We live less than a mile from an apple orchard where we get our apples. While I like apple and cherry trees and love the fruit, they do not have mystique. Citrus trees have mystique to this son of the rust belt. The Rockefeller Park greenhouse has a couple of dwarf lime trees, but the ground crew dig them up in the early fall and bring them into the greenhouse. I know intellectually that citrus trees in someone's back yard is no different than my cherry tree. But emotionally I am always thrilled like a little kid seeing citrus trees growing just about everywhere when we visit southern California. Annie took Pat and I to a city park where the remnants of a once vast orchard are preserved. We take fall visitors to apple orchards to pick apples.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

our visit to Cyrstal Cove nature preserve

Katie and Sean suggested we visit the Crystal Cove nature preserve. That way we could see the ocean and I could take pictures of plants and flowers. Maybe it's because I'm a Social Studies teacher, the site of the Pacific Ocean always makes me think that I'm connected to McKenzie, Lewis and Clark or Balboa. I wonder what they must have thought when they saw its vastness. Probably was something like "we're going to need a bigger boat." But, I digress.

The nature preserve is filled with plants that I am totally unfamiliar with. I can pick out cacti. I can't tell you what kind they are and I know I can't grow them back home. Now that's a funny picture, giant hosta and giant cacti fighting it out for space in our back yard. It looked as if most of the bushes are dormant but there was life to be found. Some bushes were still flowering. I wonder if they flower all year long. The flowers looked as if I should know what they are, but don't. The dead heads are facinating. I've never seen such volume before.

I've lived in the Great Lakes basin all my life. I can't see across any of the Great Lakes, just like I can't see across the ocean. The big difference is the noise. I can't hear Lake Erie. I could hear the ocean from the parking lot. The other big difference between Lake Erie and the Pacific Ocean is I will never hear Katie yell "whales" when She and Sean visit Cleveland. While everyone else is asking "where, where," I'm looking around for Gregory Peck and William Basehart. The whales turned out to be dolphins, which is also really cool. We need to go back in the spring to see the plants in full bloom.

Monday, December 28, 2009

We're back

And boy, is there snow on the ground. When Pat and I landed back home in Cleveland, it was snowing. Not my screen effect type snow, no, it was that bone chilling, coming down faster than the city can remove it type snow. It was wonderful. I've got a bunch of plant and flower pics from California to sort out and post later.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The road goes on forever

Our friend Annie said let's go see Christmas lights in Alta Loma. No adjective could have described what was waiting for us. Traffic slowed for no perceptible reason. Eventually we noticed families with kids parking on side streets and walking in the same direction we were driving. Houses along the street were lit up with larger and larger displays. The police barricading the street and directing traffic was the give-a-way. Glancing down side streets I saw a wonderland of lights. Every neighbor seemed to try to out-do the guy next to him. It was sensory overload. There must have been 5000 or more people walking, taking pictures, talking and taking pictures for each other. It was a wonderful time. Pat and I even got our picture taken with the Grinch.

What is Christmas without Elvis?

Watch the video for the moving lights.

String Quartet

Best use of blue lights

Santa with a sax
Rockin away Christmas

And the party never ends.
( apologies to Robert Earl Keene)