Friday, October 30, 2009

Ghoul Eeevening!


and all the gang at Slipper Moon.

Have a spooky time and keep those jack-o's burning!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Bird of Paradise

We're a week away from Halloween. Should my Bird of Paradise be blooming this time of year, when I'm thinking of chrysanthemums, football homecoming games, and jack-o-lanterns?

I raised these plants from seeds many years ago, and brought them with me when we moved twice. After each move, the plants took four to five years to acclimate to their new surroundings. Unfailingly, they bloomed the fifth year.

This fresh bloom really suggests its namesake

and this one looks like a phoenix with blazing wings.

This bloom is ready to burst.

My garden keeps its own rhythm, which usually has nothing to do with the calendar. No matter -- I'll just be quiet and enjoy!

Have a splendid day, all!

Monday, October 19, 2009



to two people

who mean the world to me,

my beautiful daughter Andrea and my wonderful son (in law) Pat.

I so admire your love for each other. For you on your special day, a poem by Sara Teasdale:

I would live in your love as the
sea-grasses live in the sea,
Borne up by each wave as it passes,
drawn down by each wave that recedes;
I would empty my soul of the dreams
that have gathered in me,
I would beat with your heart as it beats,
I would follow your soul as it leads.

I wish you happiness on your special day and always

with love in your hearts forever.

(*Thanks, Kristin, for some of these photos!)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Witch Trees

On a scenic Louisiana road, if you're lulled by the rolling hills and verdant woods, you might pass by this tidy little house and never notice. But if your gaze happens to fall at the right place, at the right time, you will see not one but two . . .

witch trees, better known as southern bottle trees.

Maybe these folks just enjoy the sun shining through cobalt glass. But the southern witch tree tradition has roots in Africa, brought to this country by slaves. According to legend, witches and other evil spirits cannot resist the sunlight glinting through beautiful colored bottles upended on tree branches. They go inside the bottles to investigate and are trapped for all time. Another version of the story is that the witches/evil spirits become trapped in the bottles at night -- wind moaning through the bottles carrying their desperate cries -- and the morning sunlight shining on the bottles destroys the witches/evil spirits. Cobalt blue is the favored color, but you will see multi-colored bottle trees throughout the South.

These folks also trimmed all their doors and windows in bright blue paint.

Maybe they simply liked the blue paint as a complement to the bottle trees. But in many areas of the South, you will see blue doors and windows, as well as blue porch ceilings. This tradition also has roots in slave culture. In the Carolina Low Country, Gullah tradition teaches that evil spirits cannot cross water. So painting all portals into your home -- windows, doors, even porch ceilings -- the color blue will repel evil, because the spirits think the surface is water. On a less paranormal plane, common-sense Southern wisdom teaches that dirt daubers and wasps won't build nests on a blue-painted surface. I know from personal experience this is true, and banishing those evil insects from my home is good enough for me!

This home, tucked away on a winding Louisiana road and adorned with cobalt blue bottles and paint, must be completely safe from evil spirits. On the beautiful sunlit day when I took these photos, nary a haint was in sight!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Grandma's House

She lived in a little house, surrounded by many Louisiana acres -- surrounded by quilts which she and her friends had sewn by hand and quilted together around the frame suspended from the ceiling -- surrounded by friends though she lived alone, for the postman would always take a note just down the road to Pinky -- surrounded by the roses and camellias she loved so well -- sheltered always by the huge live oak tree which she had planted as a sapling, its branches a retreat for children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

This old house sheltered us during Hurricane Rita, when we were forced to flee our home too near the coast. This massive oak tree rode the storm as it has so many others, with its branches spread over the house, creaking and groaning in the gale but never breaking or falling. We opened all the windows and doors to let the storm winds pass through, and the old house moaned, but resolutely protected all within its walls. Strength of tree -- strength of house -- we felt her presence during that long night. Her spirit is always there, in the home she loved. The resurrection fern on the mighty oak tree reminds me of a life well lived, and which lives on.

She died many years ago, while her grandson and I were in Saudi Arabia. Government wheels could not spin fast enough to get us home for her funeral. But he has her Bible, and it is precious to him.

And in many ways, we still have Grandma. We have her quilts, the donkey quilt which warmed Neely's childhood, and the wedding quilt with its reels of red and cream calico. Our daughter Andrea has her two childhood quilts -- gifts of Grand's hands -- which comfort her and her husband during cold Chicago winters. We have her old rose bush, transplanted now in our courtyard, and its riot of pink blooms every summer. And every time we visit the old home place, we have her lilies which continue to bloom as though she still tended them.

And perhaps she does.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Happy Birthday, Buddy!

Today is my man's day. He is the best part of my life, and I love him so.