Flowers in Winter

Aphrodite Amaryllis. 

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Unexpected Blooms

My return to “Photo Friday” 

One of the perks of finally being in a office with a window is that I got to bring in one of my house plants. What kind of house plant you ask? Good question. I have no idea. I also had no idea that this plant could produce flowers, so you can imagine my surprise when I walked into my office on Monday and saw eight of these waxy flowers adoring my plant.

Summer, summer, summer time…

I took a bit of a hiatus last week from the blog world to dedicate all of my attention to the end of the semester. Today at 9:00 AM I submitted grades and put up my out of office email message. I’m on break until June 4th.

I’ve got several blog posts milling around in my head. Despite the pile of grading I found myself under at the end of April, I still managed to read three books, We Need to Talk About Kevin, Prodigal Summer and The Shining. I also discovered the joy of checking books out of the library via my new Kindle Fire (yes, I won it!).  These posts will be up and coming soon.

Today I’m cleaning my house, signing up for yoga classes for the summer, going grocery shopping, going for a long walk and maybe mowing the grass (that last one depends on how brave I feel).

Stay tuned.

Peonies from my garden.

Back to the Garden

Spring has come to the Midwest abnormally early this year, which resulted in my husband and I looking out at our back yard last week and saying, “do we live in the jungle?” A few weeks of above average 80 degree weather and some rain and our little yard was beginning to resemble the Amazon, so after running a 5k on Saturday morning, my husband went out and tackled the grass. It took two rounds with the mower and the first time he had to prop it up on its wheels because the grass was too tall for the blade. Needless to say, it was annoying but our front and back yard look much better now.

Sunday I spent about three hours outdoors weeding and pruning and checking to see what had and had not survived the winter. There were only a few causalities and overall, everything appears to be in good shape. I am writing this blog post on my back porch because we figured it was time to bring up the patio furniture. Do you know when I brought up the patio furniture last year? May.

This fall I am planting massive amounts of daffodils but for now, I’ve got a few doubles.

Last spring/summer it got so hot so fast that our dogwood didn’t bloom.

Remnants from the fall.

Peonies are budded.

My clematis is chock full of buds. It’s going to be beautiful this year.

My hydrangea lived through the winter is growing. Success!

This spring is the first time I have ever ordered flowers through a nursery but I received a gift certificate as a wedding gift, so last Friday I put in my order. My plants should be here in a few weeks and I can’t wait to plant them. I picked a lot of hardy and colorful plants because I like lots of color but nothing that has to be pampered too much. Here’s what I bought:

Rhododendron

Butterfly Bush.

Red Carpet Phlox.

Sunshine Gaillardia Mix

Red Penstemon
Hollyhocks

Summer

It has been in the high 80’s for the past week or so. We finally relented and turned on our air conditioning. Our CSA is beginning this Tuesday and I go back to teach a week from Monday. Summer is here. I have a few projects planned for the summer, some writing related. I’ve written a few poems over the break, and I hope to keep going with that same momentum. I’ve started receiving rejection letters from the latest round of submissions, so it’s time for more to go out.

I’ve been cooking and eagerly awaiting for our CSA to start. Below are some pictures of what I made for dinner last night. It’s a variation on Spanakopita.


In gardening news, I out my tomato and pepper plants outside to toughen them up. I’ve also discovered that I have Day Lilies and Asian Lilies in my backyard. They’re beautiful, even though my dog, Kweli, has stomped over them a few times in his enthusiasm to chase squirrels. They’re also apparently very resilient.

End of the Semester Therapy

I should have spent today and yesterday prepping for a conference I’m attending tomorrow in Chicago. This is what I did instead:



This is our new patio furniture. I love it. Now I can sit outside with my morning tea or a book or we can eat meals outdoors or…

Here are some more shots from my garden of flowers and shrubs that opened this week. I also discovered a lilly while I was weeding today…

A Trip Back to Erie Would Not Be Complete Without a Snowstorm…

I left on Wednesday morning (4:30 am is when the alarm went off) to head back to Erie to see my family and to hear Michael Pollan speak at Allegheny College (my old stomping ground) on Thursday night. When I decided to make the trek to hear Michael Pollan, I didn’t realize it would come at such a busy point in the semester. I needed the break more than I even realized at the time, and I was glad to have a change of scene for a few days. An example of how exhaustion can make you stupid came out in full force when my mom called me Tuesday morning to confirm the details of my flight. The conversation went something like this:

Mom- “I’m going to have your dad pick you up on Wednesday because I have class in the morning. OK?”

Me- “Sure…Wait. It shouldn’t matter that you have class in the morning. I’m arriving at 6:40 PM.”

Mom- “No, you’re not. The flight information you sent me says 6:40 AM.”

Me- “Are you sure? Let me check…”

Mom-“I’m pretty sure. I wrote it down.”

Me- “Oh shit…”

As you can imagine this set me into a whirlwind of panic. I had to find people to cover my classes on Wed and it put preparations for my trip into overdrive. Regardless, I got it all figured out and boarded my flight promptly at 6:25 on Wednesday morning. I arrived in Erie before noon and all was well with the world.
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Michael Pollan’s lecture was very good. My mom and I sat up in the balcony in Shafer Auditorium so we could see his power point presentation. He brought up a lot of points covered in Omnivore’s Dilemma, so I was able to relate and follow his lecture fairly easily. I enjoyed his sense of humor and the way he engaged the audience. He began the lecture pulling out a double quarter pounder with cheese from McDonalds and asking how much energy it took to produce this one burger. He also noted that the first student to ask a question would get the burger. Of course after hearing Michael Pollan speak about food like substances, who wants to eat McDonalds?

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It started snowing Thursday night when we went down to Meadville. By the time we left Allegheny at around 9:00, the roads had deteriorated significantly. I posted some pictures of my parents house after the snow that lasted Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. And I thought I’d dodged a bullet when it didn’t storm over Christmas.

My mother’s amaryllis were in bloom while I was at home. It’s good to have fresh flowers in the house when the view out of your bedroom window looks like the picture above.