Tuesday, November 30, 2010

wordless wednesday

be of good cheer

Or how the Grobles put up outdoor Christmas decorations and stay out of jail.

Sunday dawned the perfect day to put up outdoor Christmas decorations. It was in the mid 50’s and sunny. And most importantly, Jimmy was home. We store the outdoor ornaments above the garage. Last time I went up there, I fell through the ceiling and cracked three vertebrae, so I needed a volunteer. Once we had everything down, we needed to figure out where the ornaments would go. We spent Christmas last year in California so we did not put many up. A year off seemed to erase our collective memory and offer us an opportunity of re-thinking what we would put where. In true democratic form, everyone had different ideas. An unspoken division of labor took place. I worked on the front of the garage. Pat and Jimmy worked on the yard. Bob and Fred provided security. We got half of the front yard stuff up and operable before the sun dipped below the trees and it got too cold to play in the yard.

Jimmy suggested that we run electric lines to all the flower beds. This would eliminate the need for a zillion extension cords. This would also help in preventing what I view as our Country’s biggest seasonal danger, which is the nation being engulfed in a coast to coast fire set off by overloaded extension chords sitting in the snow. See, the real enemies of this country aren’t guys in some capital. No, they are guys working in some factory somewhere who have figured out that when the 20 gazillionith light strand gets plugged into a jerry-rigged splitter the whole country will short out. Kind of what happened a few years back when an electric line in Ohio shorted out and sent the whole east coast into darkness.

You guys who only know what snow is from the news don’t have to worry, unless of course, you put Christmas lights on your palm trees.

See what happens when an over-eager imagination can’t spent time with plants.

The Ohio State flag is the coolest of all state flags.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

fun in columbus

The drive to Columbus in the spring and summer is a trip through a green rolling countryside. In November, the same trip is fog shrouded, leafless brown and gray.

I’ve been in Columbus for the last two days attending a seminar. There are gaps in the schedule so I’ve been able to explore. I have always liked exploring. Whether it was my Dad packing us all in the 56 Pontiac and counting all 10,000 lakes in Minnesota or finding every place Abraham Lincoln stepped foot in, exploring with the Boy Scouts, or stopping by every historical bronze plaque when I was driving for a living, I can’t resist the chance to see something new.

At last year’s seminar, I visited the state capitol building. The Columbus Dispatch’s office is across the street with a huge neon sign. It’s like the founders of the paper told the politicians, all those years ago, that they were going to keep an eye on them and report all the shenanigans. It’s a mini lesson in political science. The capitol is surrounded by bronze monuments to the sons and daughters of Ohio who fought in our wars so they could get a memorial one day. If I was an 8th grade teacher, I would take my students on a capital tour, just like they do in Illinois (excepting that you visit Springfield, not Columbus).

Pat and I took time Friday to visit the Franklin Park Conservatory. Lona over at A Hocking Hills Garden posted about it sometime ago and I thought what a neat place, I have to visit. It’s only November, no snow has graced us yet and I already need my gardening fix. August seems like a faint memory. Pat and I do not have house plants. As good as we do outside; we kill everything that enters the house. I think it is just the way of the universe that Pat and I can not grow house plants (If this isn’t a plaintive cry for help, I don’t know what is). Back to the Conservatory, the grounds are autumnal brown, the bushes like skeletons waiting for a coat of snow. Inside you are greeted by the wonderful displays of glass. The Conservatory has a collection of glass artwork by Dale Chihuly. Pieces of artwork are interspersed throughout the conservatory. You wander along seeing green, green and suddenly brilliant color. The place is beyond cool. All I could think was: “now this is garden ornamentation, Pat….”

Boy, I did not want to go back to the seminar.

Besides the glass globes, the pool was filled with these man eating goldfish.
The Conservatory has a hot shop for glass work. Demonstrations are ongoing and the creations are sold in the gift shop. Yeah, some went home with us. It is an amazing process.

Just like the birds, I was off to the seminar.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Food Show

We’re in that in between season. It’s not snowing yet, but the leaves are gone (except for giant piles in my neighbors' tree lawns) and the last flower bloomed a while back. I suppose I should get my OSU sweater on and start yelling O-H-I-O in front of the TV, but I’m an adoptive son of the buckeye state, not a native son. Besides, God didn't give me a football gene.

It’s time to go to the Fabulous Food Show and get a fix for my other hobby, eating. The timing of the show was perfect. We got our fall yard work done last week. This is a great reward, a billion square feet of food samples and a wine and beer sampling area. Throw in Michael Symon and a bunch of other Food Network stars and all was well with the world for at least one day.

Pat worked the beer sampling area Friday. She got a free ticket for it. That had humorous consequences later when we saw Michael Symon do his stand up routine. Since I paid for my ticket, I got an assigned seat. Pat had to fight it out with the masses for a seat. I showed my solidarity with her and stood in her line until they let the reserved seats in. I waved her a kiss and said: “see ya.”

Wouldn't it be nice if gourd vines were this nice and neat, short too. But alas, I know how long and big they get. It's not going to stop us. we plan to plant all our decrative gourds and pumpkins.
As we were walking by the garden, Pat wondered out loud whether I had seen the Sweet Peet sign. Seen the sweet peet sign? I never miss a chance to give that most wonderful of Ohio products a shout out. Seen the sign? I'm putting it in my post.

Well ya know, he was tall. Is that prairie grass growing on Old Abe's head?

We made sure that we stopped by every local vendor.

The Ohio Apple Growers Association conducted apple tastings. We were rewarded with bottles of Ohio apple cider. We went back twice.

The Iron Chef waxes eloquently about his favorite food, Ohio-raised pork.

Beer, beer and more beer.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Sunday, November 7, 2010

buttoning up the back yard

There is something soothing about autumn cleanup. It’s like getting a palette ready for the next masterpiece. The flowers and ligularia have gone to seed for the birds. The lancifolia hosta are still hanging on, defiant till the first killing frost. I don’t think anything can kill the vinca which went native. Luckily, it hasn’t gotten invasive yet, but that is what weed whackers are for.

This year we lucked out with a perfect autumn day. The sun was out and the temps were in the low 50s. It rained for the last three days so the back yard was a wet. Everywhere off the paths, the ground was muddy. Well, we mowed anyway. Leaves mulched into the yard are better than leaves on the curb. The leaves on the paths went to the compost pile. The containers are all nicely stacked. The tools are all in the garage and the bunnies are stored away. Now let’s plan for next year. I've got a list of garden shows somewhere.