Monday, April 15, 2024

My New Garden

 The last post was about the tear out and replanting of my  front garden. This is an update.

The tree is growing and leafing out:   

The rose bush I was worried about losing has resurrected itself and sent up shoots to announce its impending arrival:   

The peony  shoot has turned into 5-6 different shoots and now, I will have to move one of the camellias out of the way, to make room for them:

Liriope lines the walkway on both sides.....much better than the scratchy low-growing evergreen that was there before! 

Spring always gets me thinking about planting and transplanting. I bought a beautiful red begonia (half-price at Lowe's)...

I'm not sure why it was on the sale table; it looks great as it is. 

and my croton, which is at least 14 years old and has never been put into a larger pot. Also, the croton has been inside the house all that time;never getting enough sun, and it has lost all its bright color because of it.  I am hoping that after being outside for a while, it will start to gain color again.  Here is what it should resemble: 

My latest house guest, Jim's cousin Robin, gave me a basket of beautiful blue hydrangeas. I have decided to put two of them in pots by the front entry, and one will go in the back garden, near the sun-room door.  Here are the pots I bought for them, at Home Goods. I decided on pots because if they get too much sun in the front, they can be moved to a shadier location easily. 

Robin, I hope you approve! Here is a pic of the hydrangeas in the basket:

I think they will look great in the white pots!

I didn't mention, in the earlier post, that the back garden area, though very small, has been partially redone as well. The gardener put in day lilies, and you can see that they are already setting buds (after just one month in place):

The next plants are something I'd never heard of before....loropetalum, alias Chinese fringe flower: 

Here''s what Mr. Google has to say about them:

My red climbing rose, the one that usually puts on a gorgeous show every spring, but not this year since it was severely pruned, has spun off a baby!  Apparently, it like being pruned.  Who knew?  

I cannot wait until they bloom next year!

Lastly, my wind chime, that was given to me my our Best Man, Matron of Honor and their daughter, right after Jim died.....continues to remind me of Jim and all of them. It hangs in the crape myrtle outside my bedroom window.  It's quiet today.....but when it rocks back and forth and chimes riotously, I know who's ringing my bell!

Monday, March 11, 2024

There were some big changes here today....

 My front "garden", and I use the term loosely, was torn out today, to make room for a new tree and some plants of my choosing.  Here are some before photos: 

Can you spot the nearly dead trees;  a rosemary plant, a rose bush, and some others I cannot name?  Here's another view, where the damage to the trees shows up better. 

You can't see these in the large photo, but this is the first time in the nearly nine years I've lived here that they have bloomed:

It's too bad we could not save the bulbs.  Believe it or not, there is/was a peony plant there too.  

This pink tree (I don't know the name of it) is half-dead, and it is blooming better than it ever has. Seems if it knew its days were numbered!


And here is the area now:

The crew is coming back tomorrow; they will plant a Japanese maple and I'm not sure what else....
but I will post how it looks later on.

Any suggestions for what to plant?

Friday, February 02, 2024

Despite being a widow, I am Blessed in this neighborhood....

 When we moved here in 2015, I will admit to being a bit unsure of how I would fit in, since many of my neighbors had been here for years. For any of you who are considering moving to an age 55+ neighborhood.....I say DO IT! We joined a few clubs in the beginning, and then Jim ((too) soon was unable to participate in much. So my participation was also limited.  I did and still do play Scrabble at our clubhouse almost every week; a game I have always loved. It allowed me to make a few good friends and the rest of them are friendly also.  I see a movie almost every Saturday, on a big screen, with captions (a must for my ears and eyes). And one a month I get to see a documentary or foreign movie (also with subtitles). These are owned by residents,who nicely share them with the whole neighborhood. 

Classes are offered by local professors, at a nominal fee. In January, I saw two lectures about the Foibles of the English family and one on the history of American art, which will be followed by 3 more classes in the coming months.  Last week, I went with the Singles club to the Cary Theater to see a Danish movie, titled "Fallen Leaves," and then we all went to a local restaurant for an early dinner. Add to this lunches with friends, haircuts, massages, mani-pedis and doctors can see my life is full!

I failed to mention my physical therapy twice a week, and meals or trivia nights with family. 

There are over 100 clubs that residents can join; such as clubs for those who came from areas of New York, or the midwest, those who play bridge, chess, canasta, hand and foot, Mah Jong, Scrabble (as I mentioned), Singles, religious or political groups, "Care" groups, whose purpose is to help others.  I will admit that there are some cliques, which apparently formed with the earliest residents, and they are hard to penetrate (I'm told, but I have not tried). There are groups for Italians and for African Americans.....and the best part is, you don't have to be from Italy or have come from African ancestry to join any of them.  In fact, they all invite cross-participation. You can join cooking classes, estate planning, exercise classes, dance classes....nearly anything you can think of. I had not played bridge since 1971, and I am now taking classes to relearn it. Unfortunately, the bridge club plays at the same time as the Scrabble club, so I will have to deal with that at some point.

We have two pools, a hot tub, tennis courts, pickleball courts, Bocce courts, a first-class gym, pool tables, dance studios, pottery and art galore!

You can opt to stay in your home and be alone - if that is what you want - and no one will bother you. But if you need a social life, to keep educating yourself, to keep yourself fit.....Here is where you need to be.  

And when you are widowed, and you need something done or a light bulb replaced, you can have someone do that for you; you only have to ask. 

Plus, there is no yard work or gardening necessary, unless you want to do it.

I thought my old neighborhood was perfect (and it was), but I am growing used to the idea that I am well-placed in my latter years. I am beyond grateful to be here!

Sunday, January 14, 2024

A Pause in the Biltmore tales, to tell you about movies.....

I have seen three movies this weekend. Listing them in my order of choice:

#1, is The Holdovers, which has been in theaters, and is now streaming on Peacock. The story is about an aging teacher at a boys boarding school in Massachusetts. The "holdovers" refers to the boys who cannot go home for Christmas (for one reason or another) and the teacher who has to stay with them at the school. Paul Giamatti is the teacher, and since he is always a terrific actor, he does the part justice. Others prominent in the movie are Da'vine Joy Randolph, whom I have not seen in another role, but she is wonderful in this one. she plays the school cook. The boy we see on screen more than any other is Dominic Sessa. 

 I don't want to tell you more about the story because I am hoping that you will
search out a way to see it on your own. Believe me, it is worth the time. 

# 2:  A documentary about Bill Cunningham, who was a NY Times photographer for over 30 years, taking photos of people in the streets, showing the fashions of the day and new trends.  He was a fascinating character, and he knew everyone in the fashion industry, as well as all the prominent photographers of the day. You can find the link to this documentary up above when you click on his name. This one is also worth your time. He was a kind man, who lived very frugally (which is hard in NYC), sought to hurt no one, and he had a spark about him that seemingly fired up everyone he met.

#3:  Eat, Pray, Love, which was filmed in 2010, so it's an oldie. I had read the book
by Elizabeth Gilbert, but somehow the movie had eluded me until it was playing this weekend at our neighborhood clubhouse. I was happy that I went to see it on Saturday. Some of the scenery is so lovely, especially in Italy and Bali.  

I don't usually see so many movies in a short time, but I recommend all three of these, if you have the time and interest.

One reason I have not posted much lately is that my fingernails have gotten so long that it is hard to type without errors; indeed, I spent most of the time doing this post by correcting errors and it is infuriating!  Abut 6 months ago, my daughter recommended that I get "dip" nails, as they help with brittle, easily broken nails. I love the dip nails, but now, they are growing so well and so rapidly that I need to trim them very 2-3 weeks. I cannot afford to go to the salon that often, so they get too long very quickly.  

Saturday, December 30, 2023

Biltmore, Part 2

Leaving the dining room, we meandered toward the library....seeing some random decor along the way; a lovely floral arrangement below two important Impressionist paintings, by Monet, I believe.
Next is the hall of tapestries. I'm sorry I didn't get a closeup, but there were too many people. 

Now, I can't seem to make them larger.....what's next?  

This is a portrait by John Singer Sargeant, but I don't remember who the lady is. 

This large tree stood in the hall of tapestries.

Friday, December 22, 2023

Our Trip to Biltmore....

On Wednesday, my daughter, granddaughter and her fiance piled into a car and drove to Asheville, to see Biltmore in all its Christmas finery. Biltmore is a treat to see at any time of the year, but they go all out at Christmas! The guides told us there are 67 decorated Christmas trees in the house. And the cluster of trees on the grounds in front of the house have 50,000 kights on them. It is definitely brilliant! We had reservations for a 9 pm candlelight tour. We parked in the lot and got on a shuttle bus to take us to the house. Can you believe the driveway is a mile long? In Vanderbuilts' days, it was gravel, but now it is paved, so it takes considerably less than the one hour it took them in the late 1890's, to do it in a horse and buggy. The shuttle let us out right in front of the security entrance (which did not stand there when it was built, nor did the large public bathrooms or the shops. Here are the entry gates (from inside).
Here is the cluster of trees out front. It is a bit blurry, as the shuttle was moving.
Here is one of the turrets on the house. My daughter took this pic, catching the moon above. The house is truly a magnificent sight, whether in daylight or nighttime.
Here is the entry way to the house, all decked out with trees, garlands and lights galore.
The first stop is the solarium, which has many plants and that night, a choir was singing carols. Some were dressed in costumes from the early days of the house.
Next was the billiards room, complete with two tables and a viewing post, elevated so the people could see the play and tell if anyone was cheating.
The first view of the impressive dining room:
There are three fireplaces on the end - keeping guests as toasty as possible in the huge room. The second view of the dining room:
It is impossible for me to convey in a photo just how large this room is. That table holds 26 people, if I counted correctly, and it is beautifully set. The magnificent centerpiece! I wonder how many times they have to redo it during the holiday season?
Of course, it probably is never really warm in that room, so perhaps they only have to do it once a week. I think that is all for today. Come back soon to see the rest of my photos.

Friday, December 15, 2023

How are things with you?

Nothing much going on around here - that's why I have been quiet. But I got a big surprise today. Last week, I had tried to close out Jim's checking account. The teller told me she couldn't close it because we still had a safety deposit box at the bank branch near where we used to live. Because it was one of the first accounts at that bank, they had not charged us for the use of it, but she assured me that if I closed the account without closing the deposit box account - they would begin to charge me for its use. I was sure that I had cleaned out the box and they had closed it about 10 years ago, when we moved to Cary. But at that time, I could only find one of the keys to the box. So the woman told me to bring back the key if I ever found it. A while back, in one of my cleaning out sprees, I found the extra key. I put it aside, intending to return it ASAP, but since don't drive that far any longer, it stayed put. So, my daughter and I went up there today and explained what we hoped to accomplish. We decided to open the box (whch I was certain was empty) and guess what??? We found our wills and my adoption papers. I was so surprised that you truly could have knocked me over with the proverbial feather. In short order, we emptied the box and signed a few papers and they said the account was closed for good. I sure hope so. We have one more chore to accomplish and then all of Jim's financial dealings will be taken care of. I am sure glad I found that key! Are you ready for Christmas? My small tree is decorated, thanks to my granddaughter Jessica. But the lights for another one have all gone bad. I think I will just decorate it without lights this year. I stll have to do the garland and ribbon on my mailbox. Many of my neighbors have decorated more than ever before this year. Due to, perhaps, the pandemic, the political climate and the war in the Middle East, we all need cheering up and something to look forward to. I hope that all of you will have a very Merry Christmas and a much happier New Year in 2024. (I never thought I'd live long enough to see 2024, but I sure am glad I did!