Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Spider Lily

Out of nowhere this Spider Lily showed up in one of my flower beds. In the evening it opens up and a wonderful fragrance greets the curious onlooker. It rained a lot this spring, maybe this made it possible for the plant to bloom. I thought I had Crinum Lilies planted that simply never bloomed because they were in too shady a spot. But no, instead this mesmerizing beauty shows up. Spider Lilies prefer moist soil, so my guess is that the rain earlier in the year helped. I have a second plant, but this one is not thinking about blooming. Surprises like this in the garden do not happen too often, so I enjoy them as long as they last.

Looking at my previous entry, I am reminded of how much my garden has changed in the meantime. The blue wall is gone, instead it is now an adobe color and partly also covered with a reed fence. And I am working on a little meditation corner with a little dry river. I enjoy my garden so much, but I am not getting forward with my latest article. I have hit the usual obstacle - the research is completed, I wrote up the theoretical framework, and now I am facing the 'boring' part, and I am avoiding it. The idea is thought out, and then I get lazy, cannot get the momentum going. Well, I better stop complaining and get back to my desk.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Memory Jog

Red hearts on blue wall with a sprinkling of snow on the Canadian Redbud. This one is a weeping variety named 'Lavender Twist' growing only 4-6 feet high (Cercis canadensis 'Covey').

Memory Jog
what I did not write about but actually deserves an entry

  • I got tenure last spring.
  • Since last fall Teenage Daughter is attending a public boarding school about a four hours drive away.
  • We have a new ‘garage’ or actually new large shed because of complaints from Republican Gay Guy neighbor. If you do repairs for upkeep, even if re-building the old structure, you do not have to go through the Historic Preservation approval process.
  • Republican Gay Guy neighbor received his building permit, but had to alter his plans considerably. He has not started building yet. Not too long ago he planted at the front section of our property line five small Leyland Cypress trees and five Cleyera shrubs, all within ten feet. Not possible? Yes, it is – if the plants are still small and planted less than one foot apart from each other. The plants are from Lowe’s with their large tags still attached to them, all with planting instructions and indicating the distance from each other. I feel so sorry for those poor plants.
  • Teenage Daughter has her first boyfriend. She turned fifteen last September.
  • Do I have empty nest syndrome or whatever? Lethargy during the fall and winter definitely played a role in my life.

Sunday, March 1, 2009


Daffodils bending under an unusual snow fall.

Snow in the South is an adventure. We have about two inches, the most I have ever experienced while living here. If it were a school day, I am sure schools would not have opened. But it is Sunday, so instead most of the churches have canceled services, and the public library will remain closed during the usual opening time in the afternoon. The world is white, and we enjoy it and go crazy. The TV stations change programming, and we get to see live cams, but mostly pictures people have emailed to the stations showing them frolicking in the snow. We also went for a walk in the morning and took pictures. Black dog was running and playing in the white stuff like a young puppy. In Icebox State this would be nothing special, but here it is a true adventure. I did not email my photos.

I took a hiatus from blogging. I have asked myself on and off about the nature of blogging, more specifically, what do I expect from blogging. I know that I have read from time to time blogs, mostly about gardening. I do not know why, but the academia blogs can be interesting, but most of the time they tend to be tedious, always they same complaints about students, colleagues, committees, life on the tenure track, and the like. For me they are an excellent reminder not to be caught up too much with academic life, but also pursue a private life. One could say that gardening blogs are also repetitious, the same seasons, plants grow, go dormant or die, others come up again in spring. Still I enjoy most of the time the gardening blogs. Why continue in my spare time to write about the tedious aspects of professional life? I understand that the process of writing can be cathartic, but my guess is, that I do not strife for catharsis in that area of my life by writing about it on a regular basis. Playing in my garden does that for me.

So what do I expect from blogging? Most blogs are meant to be read by others. Some bloggers strive for as many readers as possible, others write for a smaller group, maybe family and friends. Do I also have a reader in mind while I am writing here? Initially I saw this blog as a kind of diary, maybe with some restrictions by keeping the privacy of friends and family. I wished to keep track how my garden changes throughout time, but I also wish to be honest with myself and write about matters that are on my mind. Yesterday I was baking bread and watching TV while preparing the dough. NCIS, a criminal investigation show was on. I like the show, the characters are all individuals, and the women are smart and strong. One of the protagonists is not necessarily up to date with information technology and did not know what a blog is. Someone explained that "blogging is for losers." So blogging as a means not to participate in face to face interchange but writing for an anonymous crowd? I like this anonymity. On the other hand I am also attracted to the friendships that may develop and even lead to group gatherings as happening with the gardening bloggers.

For now this is my diary lying around in the open. I am aware that this diary is somewhat artificial since I am writing in English and not my native language. This fact alone proves that I obviously must have a reader in mind while writing. But this is still my diary. And as it is with diaries, from time to time I feel like writing about some things, but others I do not, even though changes in my garden and my life take place. In that sense I am selfish. First and foremost I am not here for the blog, but the blog is here for me. I am glad I finally put this on my virtual paper.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

In Jane's garden

This summer we spent some time in England and Wales. This garden belongs to the house in Chawton where Jane Austen spent the last eight years of her life. The house is now a museum, and tells the story of her life. It is mostly well preserved, and only minor structural changes have been made.

Three years ago hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans and the Gulf coast. Now Gustav is on the way. Even though we are not living on the coast, this makes me nervous since we felt the aftermath even here, much further inland, with fallen branches and trees all over town. Houses and cars were smashed, and we we experienced only the outer remnants of the then storm. Fay brought much needed rain, and it felt like in country over there when it can rain for weeks at a time. Let's hope Gustav will not bring so much devastation as did Katrina.

Sunday, August 17, 2008


If trees could speak, what story would they tell? All those scars that show in the face form an intricate lace of memories so deeply ingrained and here to stay. Leaning sideways from a heavy burden or were it the unrelenting winds that made it bend? Maybe it was just reaching for the sun. It has witnessed times and changes and has carried the weight of the memories. I take it any day over the straight upwards growing column of smooth and plain bark of its neighbor.

It is writing week. Back to my paper / article. I am writing about death and literature, maybe that triggered new entries.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Long ago...

A wonderful color combination in the gardens of Lacock Abby. I love the silvery Eryngium slowly turning blue combined with the pink on gray stems. I think it is a Sea Holly, and I should try to grow it here in the South. It should do fine if planted in sandy soil. I know it can take the heat, but I am not sure about the humidity. There is something poetic about this plant that I always found attractive: vulnerable in spite of all its spikiness, a tender soul hiding within thorny little stars giving away its underlying fear to be hurt.

Our fantasy can help us with hard and unpleasant times in childhood. When I was five years old my mother died. I remember playing later for hours in a fantasy world I had created in a corner on the floor of my lonely small room. On a gray linoleum tile I had placed a little plastic monkey, a palm tree made out of wiry material with fuzzy stuff around it, like pipe cleaners, and a stuffed giraffe inhabited the island in the sea. I arranged and rearranged the island dwellers, sent them on many adventures, but in the end they were always safe and sound on their protected gray island tile. When I was eight my new step mother told me to pick that "stuff" from the floor "where it does not belong." She could not understand my need for my fantasy island. I put it away, and put it up again the next day, she complained again and on it went. I was not spiteful. I simply could not part from my best friends. They were the last I saw from my bed before the lights went out, and they were the first to greet me in the morning. How could I put them away? They were not "stuff" cluttering the floor and possibly prone to catch dust bunnies, they were my sanity on that island in the huge ocean that had turned my ship and caused me almost drown. I barely kept my head above water, and seeing my pals on their island kept my focus and gave me hope in the rough sea while I was slowly learning to tackle the weaves. Going under, not being able to breath, ready to give up and drown, when the waves popped my had up again at the last moment, just enough to catch enough breath to continue the fight with the next wave pulling me under. Just envisioning my friends in the darkness was comforting. In the eyes of my stepmother I could have cleaned up after playing. I could not conceive her inability to recognize the beauty and sanctity of gray linoleum island. Was it despair and anguish that I felt when told time and again to get rid of "that stuff"? I remember the tears when my father finally talked to me about cleaning up, I think he sensed my irrational despair because his voice is soft and soothing in my memory. I could keep my island.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


Snow lion

What excitement - it snowed not too long ago, actually the second time this year. We took our sled from ice box state and drove out into the country to find something that resembles a hill to go for some fun in the snow. On the way I came across this snow lion.

I am upset. Teenage Daughter came home from school yesterday running to the bathroom. When asked what was going on she explained that several fights in her high school resulted in the closing of all bathrooms with the exception of one. This is a school with about one thousand students. A teacher or principal accompanied those who had to go or I should better say, managed to go to the bathroom. Today the situation went from disturbing to upsetting, at least in my opinion. This past weekend there had been a shooting in U Town, and one teenage kid shot and killed another teenager. This shooting obviously triggered some kind of gang or group induced violence throughout the city high schools. So this morning all the kids were greeted not only by metal detectors but teachers and principals body searching each individual student entering the school. Teenage daughter had two tests scheduled today, first Biology, and later Algebra. All the searching – the airport is nothing in comparison according to Teenage Daughter – caused Biology to start about 45 minutes late, and there was not enough time left for the test. Throughout the day, kids were searched, and not allowed to go outside in the enclosed courtyard, same bathroom procedure as yesterday. The disruption of the daily routine reached a point that the school administration let parents pick up their children early at noon if they wished to do so. However, the only way for the students to reach the parents was via cell phones that students were not allowed to have and were taken away. But there must have been still enough cell phones around, even with all the searching. So, why am I upset. First of all it is more than horrible if teenagers start to shoot each other because they cannot settle an argument. Secondly, it is disturbing that groups identify with teenager x or y, and start fights in high schools not even directly related to the shootings. And thirdly, I am upset about the school administration not informing themselves all the parents, that they may pick up their children. I do not care, how many teachers it takes to call all the parents, or even try to reach the parents. It is unacceptable not to allow cell phones, search for them and take them away, but then let the kids know that the parents can pick them up – hoping for some of the illegal cell phones having stayed in circulation to be used by the students. What kind of signal does that send? Yes, we know that we are not successful in finding ALL cell phones? And what next? Yes, we know that we cannot be successful in finding all possibly lethal weapons?

This is supposed to be the “good” public high school! Is this what school is about? Security and lock downs? Confused students and upset parents? We wanted Teenage Daughter to experience the “real” world, hence her switch this last year to the public school system. Yes, she has had some good teachers, but yes, she has also experienced some not so good teachers. But learning governed by the fear of violence? Will we send her back to private school? I almost guess so. But what about the other parents, who do not have this choice because they cannot afford it?
I am upset, saddened, and concerned.