“to paint the lily”

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As a teenager working at a Winn-Dixie Supermarket, I one day was told a coworker’s sister’s wedding plans. There was some drama with the bride demanding stargazer lilies despite their being, apparently, more expensive and difficult to get than other options. “Stargazer lilies” sounded romantic to me and stuck in my head. One day they crossed my conveyor belt when a customer purchased a bunch from the produce department. It made my day to come face-to-face with a diva flower that had caused so much drama.

With their plentiful pointed leaves stretching along the height of a singular stem generally supporting three or more bright flowers, they’re attention-grabbing stacks of stars, beautiful with an air of exoticism. But they aren’t the divas I thought they were–they are easy to grow and transplant. Garrett and I have had success with lilies in a number of places. We have two clusters of lilies in our yard: several asiatic lilies we transplanted from Harrison, and some red lilies that came with the house and surprised us our first spring.

Recent hard rains had knocked the petals off lilies at a local garden center–no more flowers will bloom until the plants grow anew next year, leaving the lilies weedy and sad looking in the meantime. Subsequently, they were on sale 75% off–$1 a plant, down from $4. We bought twenty and planted them at the foot of our front steps. We won’t have beautiful flowers from them until next year, but that’s okay. The dramatic appearance of these not-so-primadonna flowers next year is heavily anticipated. Meanwhile, our sophomore lilies are just beginning to bloom (banner photo).


Meet the Frogs

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These tiny guys are hard to photograph–partly because I just snap pics with my iPhone, which isn’t the best at macro, and partly because the frogs are shy and hide. They are masters of the quick getaway–usually it involves kamikaze leaps off bromeliads when they see me walk by. There’s just a rustle of leaves to show their passage, and they’re gone.

There are four frogs in total. Some days we don’t see any, but once in a blue moon we see all four at the same time. That reassures us they’re all still alive. I’ve seen all four at the same time just three times, and Garrett has a few times–it’s called frogger bingo in our household.

The best place to spot a frog is on the smooth pate of the skull. They also climb leaves and sometimes the glass walls of the vivarium. I love to spy on them. They have striped bodies and spotted booties and legs–it looks like they are wearing leopard print leggings.

Even if I don’t see the frogs for a few days, I know they’re alive and well from their singing. The male frogs have a high pitched trilling chirp similar to a cricket’s but sweet, infrequent and random. During times of rain and storms, like our recent weather has been, the frogs sing with joy for what feels to them like their mating season. Even though they’re in an enclosed vivarium they still sense the pressure changes.

We have at least one female and one male. The males are skinny and sing, and the females are chubby. The females lay eggs in bromeliads, which the males are then responsible for fertilizing and carrying on their backs. We’ve seen eggs, but no tadpoles yet. The frogs are nearly a year and a half old and may live ten to twenty years.

Post-storms Yard Cleanup

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I think we missed most of the rain and stormy weather that was predicted for our area (it seems like we always do), yet we’ve had strong winds and a tiny bit of foul weather–enough to knock branches, leaves and pollen out of trees, littering the yard. Garrett and I have raked and swept our driveway three times in the past week just to clear away the nasty oak pollen, along with storm debris. I picked it out of garden beds and from among my planted flowers, and Garrett raked it up from the yard, amounting to half a dozen wheelbarrow loads to cart to the burn pile. I couldn’t resist doing a little weeding as I picked pollen and sticks from the yard–just a few minutes of weeding here and there makes a difference.

We wouldn’t cut the oak tree down over the pollen issue, but we wouldn’t choose to plant a tree like this, knowing the mess it makes! It stands taller than our house and coats everything beneath it, including the roof, gutters and Japanese maple. There is still plenty of pollen waiting to drop, so we will be cleaning for the next few weeks. The stormy weather at least helps to knock it down, but I wish it could do so in one fell storm.

I found several of the paddle-shaped leaf in the above left picture in our yard, but we don’t have a tree with leaves like this on our property. It looks like a variety of oak, but does anyone know what it is?

Also, we found this little guy:


Not sure who he is–just a brown snake? Snake Doe, dead of unknown causes. We also encountered a large (long!) black garden snake the other day while Garrett was mowing. Garrett tried to gather it with a stick to move, but it kept curling tighter and tighter around itself, tucking and retucking its tail to be more compact and snug like a dog circling a bed before lying down, so we left it alone.

Springfield with Nenive

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We took a quick trip to Springfield. I promised the princess Dunkin Donuts and shopping, but first she got to sleep in and then enjoyed a long not-that-hot bath followed by fluffy towel swaddling while we watched oldies on tv. We watched the Gracie show (I forget the name but that’s enough to go by–“Say goodnight, Gracie!”) and Father Knows Best.

In the first photo, Nenive is like, “lemme try on my new sunnies,” and then she’s like, “oh, you taking a picture? Pose.

(Since she was just a few weeks old, she stares at my iPhone when I try to capture pictures or videos of her. Catching sight of my phone causes her to go from cute and babbly and funny to suddenly serious and contemplative. So, I don’t take as many pictures of her as I really would like to, and unfortunately the pictures I am able to capture, when not blurry, are not at her best. It’s not bad, it’s just not the fun and engaging baby she often is with me. She talks to me and responds to my singing by making noises at the same time.)

It wasn’t the first time I’ve been shopping and spent more money on someone younger and cuter than I–years of shopping with Cassie had made me accustomed to that particular situation–but it was my first time shopping in stores for baby clothes, and despite my best attempts to be reasonable (the expense of baby clothes is no joke! I seriously appreciate everyone who bought clothes for the baby especially in light of how pricey these tiny duds are) I spent more than I intended.

But look at this adorable pink sweatshirt from Babies R Us!

At Target Nenive was awake for over an hour, beginning with a ten minute wait at Starbucks (worth it). As I shopped, she erupted in hiccups. I continued, nonplussed, but people around us were laughing to hear her hiccuping. They are really cute hiccups. At checkout time, she sputtered a bit, threatening to work up to a cry, and then promptly fell asleep.

Unfortunately, the promised Dunkin Donuts trip did not take place.

Weeding Wonder Woman

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My grandfather, a farmer, used to tell my mother that a weed is a rosebush in the rows of potatoes–in other words, a plant, any plant, is a weed when it is not wanted.

We have a lot of weeds in our zoysia grass lawn.  The variety of weeds includes a large amount of clover, violets and dandelions, among others whose names I don’t know. Some weeds are easier to extract than others, and I’m really glad not to have to deal with spiky, prickly weeds.

Garrett and I have been doing yard work in anticipation of a coming week of heavy rain, and I began weeding out of sheer annoyance at a particular weed, a long-limbed offender that had avoided the lawnmower by being slick and insinuating, weaving insidiously among and just barely on the surface of the zoysia. Once I started weeding, I got carried away…

Weeding appeals to my fastidiousness. It is essentially nitpicking, a meticulous activity that has clear boundaries (weed, or not-a-weed) and makes a difference on a large scale. Also, the labor is easy—I mean, it didn’t break my back to scoot around on my knees plucking weeds. In fact, I felt better after I had done it. I had a terrible headache when I began, making everything I did unpleasant–especially if it required much motion, noise or concentration. Weeding was so menial and repetitive that it relaxed me and helped diminish my headache in a way meditation hadn’t been able to do (although my meditation had been interrupted, repeatedly, by both Nenive and Garrett).

The biggest difficulty of weeding was just finding time to do it. I spent about an hour focusing on an area approximately ten square feet in our side yard. Below is a before-and-after photo of the same spot. I might not have lined the frame up perfectly for the after image–kind of hard to find a reference point in the carpet of grass, especially once the big weeds were removed–but it is the same area and does accurately reflect the lawn’s weediness followed by pristine glory after my efforts the other evening.

Garrett was using a fishy fertilizer as he watered plants and ended up using it right next to where I was weeding, and that put the biggest damper on my gung-ho weeding antics. Still, I got a portion almost entirely weed free.

Above, see my display of a typical weed, followed by photos of my pile of pulled weeds. I took a picture for reference of Garrett holding the mound before tossing it on the massive pile of leaves and branches we and our neighbor have collected between our yards.

Teal Pots Project

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Garrett and I couldn’t help ourselves at the garden center the other day. We had a few projects in mind as we shopped, but spotting the teal pots that perfectly match our front door color caused a fervor for a new curb appeal project.

By the time we left, we had two carts’ worth of soil, plants and pots, and rain had begun to pour. The rainfall recently has been rather heavy and had knocked off many of the blooms of the garden center plants, so I was concerned for my own new plants being thrashed and beat up on the journey home. We spread plastic sheets over the truck’s interior and set the plants inside. The rain halted when we got home and as we began working on our potted arrangements, but sprinkling occurred regularly the rest of the day.

We planted the small pots with two plants: cordyline australis and portulaca. The portulaca have juicy stems and leaves, a pretty texture next to the dry jutting blades of the cordyline. We chose flowerless portulaca that seemed healthy and large rather than smaller plants that already had the pretty flowers, so we are not sure what color we will have. Their water requirements slightly vary; lava rock rests in the bottom of the pots to aid drainage, and the cordyline’s roots are planted deeper than those of the portulaca, smaller plants. The pots are, obviously, mobile in case we need to move them for failure to thrive. We could also transplant either plant if they don’t seem to get along well.

I hope to see the cordyline’s red color deepen, and I expect the portulaca, which I haven’t planted before, to trail out of the pots. We’ll see how they fare over the next few weeks. There is more rainy weather in the forecast.

Edible Flower Cucumber Sandwich

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I had cucumber sandwiches the first time as a little girl, about 8, at a Mother’s Day tea party. They were very good, a somewhat unusual fare to me, leaving an impression–yet for some reason, I failed to eat them again for perhaps almost a decade after, until I had read The Importance of Being Earnest. Earnest is a play by Oscar Wilde and one of the funniest pieces of literature I have ever read. There’s a bit about cucumber sandwiches when the character Algernon manages to eat a platter of cucumber sandwiches prepared for a guest, and then cannot procure any more cucumbers as there are none available, “not even for ready money.”

My mother was recently telling me the ways I could use edible flowers in food preparation and mentioned a friend of hers who liked to put edible flowers on cucumber sandwiches for an added pop of color. I decided to give it a try.


My cucumber sandwich is a departure from the teatime favorite in several obvious ways, including the thickness of bread and crusts left on (I actually do despise bread crusts for being too dry but sandwiches look pathetic without them). I also prefer the skin on the cucumber–that’s where the nutrients are concentrated, and it has a nice crunch. And, since I was adding flower petals anyway, I threw on some spinach leaves as well.

The taste of petals and spinach was negligible in the mild sandwich; the creaminess of the cream cheese and butter and the refreshing melon flavor of the cucumber were chief, followed by the wheat bread taste. I enjoyed the sandwich with a cup of tea (of course!) as I listened to the audiobook The Silkworm.

HBD Photo Void

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Hey, happy birthday to me!

Something I learned today is that I do not take photos on my birthday. It’s a historical fact.

Garrett and I met friends at the lake and kayaked. I loaned out my drybox and once again had forgotten the GoPro, so I didn’t take pictures.  For the first time kayaking on the lake, I got soaked as wakes from passing boats slammed into my blue Tupperware kayak and broke against the sides. I didn’t take any pictures on land either, not even of the Hello Kitty cupcakes or the princess in her pink booty-ruffle pants. It was a beautiful day, but you’ll have to take my word for it in lieu of photographic evidence. The rest of the day we saw a movie (the wonderful Lynell watched the baby) and had sushi.

I love looking at the “today last year” pictures. Mine go back to 2008. An average day yields several “today in X year” photo clusters. The days before and after my birthday are represented by five years, but my birth date only has photos from 2010. That day, Garrett had my roommate sneak red roses into my dorm room, and later we had a picnic at the park. He had a curly afro and I had braces.

I expect the missing years of birthdays are documented in my Moleskines in some form (like with the movie tickets), but it’s interesting that I historically do not take photos on my birthday when I take photos all the time otherwise. It wasn’t even aware that I haven’t been taking photos on my birthday. Maybe I was intent on enjoying the day and declined trying to capture it, but it wasn’t intentional.

Gold Crystals in Nenive’s Nursery

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My first post for this blog was the YouTube video showing some of the tape reveal for this pattern. I also took step-by-step pictures of the project, so I’m sharing those pictures today.




Ta-da!

A few notes:

I got the idea to do this from seeing different graffiti artwork on building exteriors, and the way it transformed a wall and space. I saw a small, bad quality picture somewhere of long silver-colored natural crystals painted around a door, and I liked that for edginess as well as prissiness.

I drew a design in my moleskine of crystals and mapped it on the wall with painters tape. The design I taped is almost the same as what I drew. 

The painters tape I used was Scotch Tape brand and did not stay stuck down smoothly to the walls! I had to keep smoothing it with my hand and that’s why I painted over part of the taped design before finishing taping the whole thing, because I was afraid of it all peeling before I could even finish it.

I bought a gallon of gold paint, Ralph Lauren metallic, because I wasn’t sure a pint would be enough and, well, the way paint is priced, better too much than too little, right? Anyway, I have a half-full (or more) gallon bucket of gold paint left.

I wasn’t sure the project would turn out the way I envisioned. It also took a lot longer than I expected (painting always does!) so instead of having a finished design to show Garrett (if it was good and I wanted to show him), he caught it when I had painted gold jagged shapes over the grey, and he had serious doubts that increased my own doubts.

In the end he and I were both pleased. It turned out better than I had imagined!

I only wish I had done the design higher up, from the ceiling, instead of the floor, because the furniture covers part of the design.

FPV Miniquad Build: Part 1

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Garrett and I have been planning this build for a while and slowly collecting components. We found many of the items through Amazon, which was convenient for purchasing and shipping even if we do have to pay Arkansas state sales tax now.

Above are a few of the parts. Top center is the tiny camera that will allow me to see from the perspective of the drone–in other words, First Person View. Beside and under the camera are the four motors that will attach to each of the frame’s four arms, and to which the propellers will be affixed. The pieces beyond the motors build together to create a tower in the center of the quad frame for all the components to fit in and around. Finally, in the front is the vtx or video transmitter–it will connect to the PDB, power distribution board, which regulates the flow of battery power (voltage) to the various components, and to the FPV camera in order to transmit the signal and info from the camera back to the pilot (me) on the ground, specifically communicating with my goggles headset.

Pictured above is the frame, 130 mm. On its left is a motor, and on its right is an ESC, electronic speed controller, which draws power from the PDB to the motor–there are four ESCs, one for each motor–and connects to the flight controller. In the center of the quad frame is the PDB, which looks like an owl, topped by the flight controller, which looks like the Big Hero 6 guy.

Those are descriptions of two pictures’ worth of components. We’re ready to start putting it all together! This project involves a soldering iron, wire cutters and strippers and heat shrink to complete some basic electrical connections. The parts will be connected to the frame by screws, heatshrink and zip ties.