Monday, March 23, 2015

Macy's Flower Show

This past weekend, after a wonderfully refreshing snow storm(!) to welcome the first day of spring, Stretch and I were desperate to see something blooming. I saw an ad for a flower show at Macy’s in NYC that sounded like the perfect antidote to the Arctic landscape outside my window.
Note to self: Flower displays mostly hung from the ceiling in a department store that is massively crowded normally and totally mobbed when you add a special event is not exactly the sort of peaceful pastoral setting you had in mind.

And when you take Stretch along, it’s always an adventure.

Hey look! They have a garden dedicated to me!
However, the flower displays were awesome and we brought home some pics to enjoy in the peace and quiet of our apartment.  We offer a few of those pictures here for all those who are also beginning to forget what flowery landscapes look like.

This statue of David is at the main entrance to the store. A light show flashes across the body with abstract shapes representing the different gardens on display. (Stretch is not in this pic because, as you’re well aware, he is appalled by naked statues/paintings. In his view, only bears have bodies that are suitable for public display.)

The Renaissance Garden

The Impressionist Garden

The Abstract Art Garden

The Pop Art Garden

“Hey, look! This escalator goes straight into a garden now.”
(The downstairs of the store is being remodeled, so they turned the Down escalator area into a garden.)

And finally, the place where we want to spend next winter: The Tropical Oasis Garden

Saturday, March 21, 2015

It's Spring?!?!

It’s the official first day of spring here in Snowster Bay, Long Iceland, and as you can see Stretch and Tiny have just finished planting their spring tulips and are sitting back enjoying the balmy weather.
We know it’s spring because last night in the middle of the latest blizzard, the little guys were able to balance an egg at just the time of the vernal equinox. (They have their own way of doing these things, I don’t argue anymore.)
Well, we obviously can’t go out and frolic in nature today to celebrate the start of spring, so I found another interesting holiday to celebrate. Today marks the start of the ancient Persian New Year.  You’ll remember last month we tried to chase away old Man Winter with the celebration of the Chinese New Year, but that apparently just fired up his spirit to snow more than ever.  Never daunted, we’re prepared to try again to convince the old guy that a new season/year is starting and he needs to move on and go hibernate until next winter.

Stretch: So how is the ancient Persian New Year celebrated?

Me: It says here in my book of celebrations that “Noruz,” the traditional Persian New Year, is a celebration of nature’s rebirth. You make a table cover that has the symbols of the seven good angels on it: sprouts, wheat germs, apples, hyacinth, fruit of the jujube, garlic and sumac. These are heralds of life, rebirth, health, happiness, prosperity, joy and beauty. You’re also supposed to burn wild rue to drive away evil and usher in a happy New Year.

Stretch: I don’t know about this. I don’t think my guardian angels like stuff like sprouts, wheat germ and sumac. I think they’re more into chocolates, ice cream, and cake. So how about if we burn some of that wild rue in our fireplace and invite the angels over for hot chocolate and hot cross buns?

Me: Sounds like a plan to me! Hey, wait a minute, I just realized we have another very special occasion to celebrate today! It’s the birthday of one of the greatest oncologists ever:

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Happy St. Joseph's Day!

There are many legends about how this day became a special feast day. The most popular one says that there was a severe drought in Sicily during the Middle Ages. The people prayed to their patron saint, St. Joseph, and rains came, saving their crops. To give thanks they prepared a special feast in his honor.  A tradition that has evolved from that first feast is giving food to the needy on St. Joseph’s Day. Now this is a holiday we really like—no pressure to buy gifts or decorate, just the simple act of taking a few minutes to make a donation to a food bank.

Of course, it’s also fun to follow the tradition of having a feast of your own in honor of St. Joseph, so Stretch and Tiny are sitting down to their favorite Italian dinner—spaghetti and meatballs with a loaf of garlic bread on the side.

Hey Stretch, looking at your feast reminds me of a favorite song we used to sing as kids whenever we had spaghetti and meatballs.

Stretch: You’re not going to sing are you?
Me:    On top of spaghetti, all covered with cheese
            I lost my poor meatball when somebody sneezed.
(Stretch: Even the garlic bread isn’t keeping away the evil singing!)
            It rolled off the table and onto the floor,
            And then my poor meatball rolled out of the door.
(Stretch: They really had weird songs back in the last century!)
            It rolled in the garden and under a bush,
            And then my poor meatball was nothing but mush.

Stretch: It’s lucky that Tiny and I have good appetites so a little off-pitch singing doesn’t spoil our meal. How about if we listen to some real crooning while we have Italian pastries for dessert? We have this album by that guy you ran over.

Me: I did NOT run over Perry Como! Who told you that?
Stretch: Your male sidekick told us that you worked in the same building with Perry Como and one day you ran him over in the parking lot.

Me: He was walking through the parking lot with a friend as I was pulling out one day and I crept along at 2 miles an hour behind him because I couldn’t bring myself to beep the horn at Perry Como. He suddenly spotted my car and scooted off to the side, waving me through with a smile. I stopped to say thank you and he asked why I didn’t beep the horn. I told him that if my mother-in-law ever heard that I honked at Perry Como she would never forgive me!

Stretch: Well, I think it makes the story more interesting to say you ran over Perry Como. Here, have a cannoli and stop sputtering.


Friday, March 13, 2015

Seeking Spring

Our minds, as well as our bodies, have need of the out-of-doors. Our spirits, too, need simple things, elemental things, the sun and the wind and the rain, moonlight and starlight, sunrise and mist and mossy forest trails, the perfumes of dawn and the smell of fresh-turned earth and the ancient music of wind among the trees. –Edwin Way Teale

Thank you to cousin Anne-Marie for once again being our Muse and introducing us to the naturalist Edwin Way Teale. I thought his quote was the perfect intro to our recent visit to a local garden center’s spring flower show.

Stretch: Hey, this is cool! Can I get one of these?
Me:  If we put one of those in the trees across from our apartment, Heatherwoods would find a way to charge us rent for it, so nix that idea!

Stretch: Well, here’s something you might be interested in. They have tips for gardens for “Seniors.”
Me: (Expletive deleted) Let’s move on.

Look! They have a Stretch-sized garden. They must have known I would be coming to get ideas for my landscape architect Judy.

Can you spot the shy turtle hiding among the lily pads in this pond?

This plant is pretty, the "Bird of Paradise." I never heard of birds hatching from a plant before, that will be neat! Can I get one?
Me: I hate to disappoint you, but they call the flower the Bird of Paradise because some people think the flower resembles the actual bird.
Stretch: Oh, another one of those weird human ideas, huh?

Me:  It says here in my flower book that the Bird of Paradise plant is associated with liberty, magnificence and good perspective. I think you made a good choice for your souvenir of the show. And that pond we saw gave me an idea—maybe you’d like some Turtle Pie?

Stretch: ACK! No one is baking MY turtles in a pie!
Me: Of course not! Turtle pie is a chilled dessert made of chocolate, caramel and pecans, the ingredients in the original TURTLES brand candy created by DeMet’s Candy Company in Chicago. The candy got the name “Turtles” in 1918 when a salesman commented that the shape bore an uncanny resemblance to a turtle. Many years later when someone created a pie recipe that mimicked the taste of the candy, they called it “Turtle Pie.”

Stretch: “Well, that’s okay then. Bring on the pie! Anyone care to join us?”

Monday, March 9, 2015

Panic or Procrastinate? Your holiday choice.

Today we have some great news for all our blog readers who are tired of dealing with winter weather, tired of living with an illness, or just plain tired of whatever particular problem you’re facing at the moment. We have two great suggestions for you on how to cope.

According to my calendar of unusual “holidays,” today is “Panic Day.” I couldn’t find any information on how this holiday actually got started or whose idea it was. But who cares?  I say at this point any excuse to let out some emotional baggage is a great idea.

So go ahead, join me and Stretch in some primal screaming, get out all those pent up emotions.

However, if you’re a bit nervous about the neighbors calling the Men in White if they see you running around outside in the snow covered landscape screaming, we have another suggestion for you. 

This is also “National Procrastination Week” according to the Procrastinators’ Club of America:  “to promote the benefits of relaxing through putting off until tomorrow everything that needn’t be done today.”

Stretch and I decided that means anything we don’t feel like doing today. So instead of contributing to the blog, he’s playing solitaire on his computer.  His friends Tiny and Blue are also goofing off.  
I think I’ll follow their example . . .