31 December 2008

Happy New Year and pass the Black Eyed Peas

I've been a week in the country and I'm still wondering what all the hoo-ha is about black-eyed peas on New Year's Eve. It's a long-standing tradition here in the South, I recently learned. The legumes are cooked with ham and savored with turnip greens and corn bread. Supposedly this delectable meal secures good luck and prosperity in the new year. As a friend of mine from Memphis noted, "I've been eating black-eyed peas for 30 years and you're the one going to Longwood. I'll bet you ain't never had a black-eyed pea on New Year's Eve in your whole life!"

Well, I haven't, but I am a big fan of many members of the Leguminaceae family!

I am looking forward to a year full of goodness as I start my new adventures in horticulture at Longwood. And I'll get to see parts of the country I've never seen before. Finding the best route in the Atlas was a bit of a challenge and my finger got lost on more than one occasion trying to find just which country highway we ought to take that will get us to PA without being too 'scenic'. Planning the drive felt something like this (without all the technology, which would really come in handy right about now):

Even without the black-eyed peas, I find myself bidding adieu to 2008 with all of its unforgettable ups and downs, and saluting 2009 with all its promise of wonder. I hope the new year greets you with the same sense of newness and antipation of dreams coming true. Just don't forget to pack your toothbrush!

Happy New Year everybody!

26 December 2008

Longwood or Bust

Moving day has come and all my worldly belongings were boxed and packed like sardines into a shipping container bound for storage somewhere in rural Arkansas. The shipping company charges by the linear foot and I was dismayed to see my stuff sprawled to the 12' mark. And that was after divesting myself of a refrigerator, microwave, television, dining set, and two couches! How does one person amass so much stuff!?

~we interrupt this post to bring you a word of thanks from our author: To Andrew and John, thank you for helping with the piano and stove!! We couldn't have managed without you! Hugs and Kisses to you both!

Those things I deemed too important to live without for two years were stuffed into my little pick up and wrapped in a tarp to ward off rain and snow. I felt like Steve Martin's character in The Jerk as I kept putting things into boxes:

"And that's it and that's the only thing I need, is this. I don't need this or this. Just this ashtray. And this paddle game, the ashtray and the paddle game and that's all I need. And this remote control. The ashtray, the paddle game, and the remote control, and that's all I need. And these matches. The ashtray, and these matches, and the remote control and the paddle ball. And this lamp. The ashtray, this paddle game and the remote control and the lamp and that's all I need. And that's all I need too. I don't need one other thing, not one - I need this. The paddle game, and the chair, and the remote control, and the matches, for sure. And this. And that's all I need. The ashtray, the remote control, the paddle game, this magazine and the chair."

After much editing and repacking, we finally said "see ya" to LA and headed east. My dad and I alternated driving and sleeping, stopping only to gas up and once to indulge in that great American culinary repast, the truckstop breakfast. The road was pretty uneventful but I was excited to be able to observe some Fouqieria splendens in their native habitat:

As seen at 80mph! We also spied some awesome Saguaro cactus in Arizona and NM:

And now, only two days from home I'm already homesick, thinking of the things I wish I'd had time to do before I left. At least I was able to enjoy a farewell breakfast at my favorite Saturday morning spot, Julienne (omelette with cheddar cheese and bacon, fruit instead of potatoes, rosemary raisin toast, and coffee. It got to the point where the servers knew what I would order!).

And the weather kindly obliged us with a hint of real winter by raining on us as we left town. We even had snow on the mountains outside my front door and actual frost on the lawn weeds!

But of all the things I feel homesick for, it's the friends I left behind that I miss the most. I can live without lots of things, even my books (and that's saying a lot), but my friends gave me the strength to go on this adventure in the first place. I don't need anything else, except for them. And this book. My friends and this book, that's all I need. And this sherpa lined coat...

25 December 2008

Merry Christmas, Everyone!

To all the people who have touched my life and made me very rich indeed! Merry Christmas!!!

07 December 2008

I Love (and hate) LA!

As moving day approaches with the alarming speed of a bullet train, I find myself thinking about all the things I will and won't miss here in LA. There are the obvious things like traffic (won't), friends (will), smog (won't), breakfast at Julienne (will), traffic (won't), the weather (will), traffic (won't - oh, did I mention I won't miss the traffic?). But sometimes there are days when something unexpected happens that makes me realize how awesome a place LA is. Take this for example:

That's the B2 Stealth Bomber, one of the "Spirits", doing practice runs over the Rose Bowl. And it flew right over my house! I wonder if it's the 'Spirit of Pennsylvania'?! Awesome!

Then there are the sunsets on the beach:

Notice the gratuitous Palm silhouetted in the foreground. So LA.

Over the weekend I spent quality girl time with a dear friend and fellow gardener and as we wandered through a nursery tucked away behind a shopping center, we were captivated by the glow of the setting sun on a stand of trees.

In a few short weeks I'll be leaving my lifelong home town and moving to PA where today's high is a full FORTY degrees colder than it is here. My new housemate warns that I should take lots of warm clothes. Sure! Yeah, my closet is crammed full of warm clothes (snort!). At least I won't have to deal with a lot of traffic, though I'm looking forward to getting stuck behind a genuine horse and buggy. Better than being warned to look out for stopped cars. Did I mention I won't miss the traffic?

05 December 2008

Flower Friday

Native Gaillardia blooming along the driveway (these were planted from seed and don't get any irrigation save for rain water and whatever sheds off the roof from the occasional marine layer).

A dainty native bulb (I forget the name) whose fleeting blossoms last only a day, along with mint that stays well behaved due to lack of water.