Wednesday, May 18, 2022

The First Daylily

I have a large variety of daylilies in my flower beds that bloom at different times during the growing season.  The first is always a clump with yellow flowers at the side of the house.  Yesterday I noticed the first blossom peeking out from the foliage.  (I then sprayed the buds that are emerging on that clump with deer repellant before my nocturnal visitors find and devour them!)

The daylilies multiply, and some areas of my garden have become too crowded.  I have started doing some transplanting.  In front of my house, I used to have a pin oak.  Since the grass did not grow under the tree, I planted a large area with pachysandra, a ground cover.  Some years ago, the pin oak fell in a storm.  I planted a few shrubs in that space, most notably a Japanese willow.  Last year, when I had landscapers put in a new front lawn, they replaced the rotting landscape timbers that surrounded the pachysandra bed with a very nice faux-stone border.  This year I decided that I would remove some of the ground cover and use the space to transplant some daylilies.  Yesterday I put in four plants along the front of the bed.

The day before, I went to the house of my friend Gayle.  She has a very pretty variety of daylily that has a double blossom.  It's a type that I do not have.  Gayle said that I could dig a few plants out of her garden to transplant.  I took a couple small clumps of her daylilies and planted one at either corner of the bed.


Alltogether I now have six daylilies across the front, and, as I continue work, I will probably plant more throughout the bed.  The transplanted lilies may or may not bloom this year, but, as they grow and multiply, they should add a nice splash of color to the bed.

Monday, May 16, 2022

My Work Paid Off

You may recall that before leaving on my last trip, at the end of March and the beginning of April, I weeded all of my flower beds and applied Preen.  Preen is a granular product that discourages the germination of weeds.  It doesn't kill weeds, however.  Surprisingly, even in March, I had a lot of weeds sprouting.  I had to go through and try to pull them all before applying the Preen.

When I returned home in early May, I was glad to see than my beds were not a field of weeds.  They were not 100% weed-free, but I had probably missed some or not pulled them out completely by the roots.  But my work paid off, and now that I am working on my garden, I am spending less time weeding.  As you can see by the photo, some areas are completely free of unwanted vegetation.

(And, no, Preen has not paid me for this endorsement!😀)

What is still an aggravating chore every year, however, is trying to pull out the garlic that sprouts in my flower beds each spring.  

Decades ago, my mother planted garlic by her rose bushes because she had read that it repels aphids.  Now I have garlic coming up in most of my flower beds.  Every spring I try to pull it all out... not always successfully getting it out by the bulb... but every year it comes back.

Saturday, May 14, 2022

May Flowers

The old saying goes, "April showers bring May flowers."  While I was away in Mexico for most of the month of April, Ohio certainly had its share of rain (and snow!).  When I returned in early May, my yard was a swamp.  Fortunately, a couple of days later, the rain stopped, and we enjoyed a week of sunshine and rising temperatures.  The last six days I have been able to devote between three and five hours of work in my garden.  Saturday we are supposed to get rain, but as long as it is not torrential, we could use a nice, moderate shower at this point.

The flowers in my garden have started to bloom.

The flower for the birth month of May is the lily of the valley.  My mother's birthday was in May, and she loved those flowers.  Right on schedule, the lilies of the valley in my garden are blooming.

The ground cover, sweet woodruff is also in bloom.

I did a little research on sweet woodruff, and discovered that it was popular, particularly in Germany, as a flavoring for wine, brandy, jellies, ice cream and herbal tea.  It was banned from consumption in Germany in 1974 when studies found it to be toxic to rats and mice, even though it has not found to be harmful to humans.

My columbines have buds, and this plant, close to the house, is already blooming

The azaleas have begun to flower, and, almost overnight, this bush has burst into full bloom.

Thursday, May 12, 2022

A Photographic Journey to Cataluña

When I was walking down Mexico City's Paseo de la Reforma, there was a photographic exhibition sponsored by the government of Cataluña, Spain's region along the Mediterranean next to the border of France.  (Cataluña, whose language is CatalĂĄn, has a long history of independence going back to medieval times, and there are those who would still wish to see the region separate Spain.)

Here are a few of the photos...

A view of the ruins of the ancient Greek city of EmpĂșries
This trading port on the Mediterranean coast was founded in 580 B.C.  Its name gave us the English word "emporium".

The town of BesalĂș
This town is noted for its Roman bridge.  It was a regional capital in the days of Charlemagne.

Home of Salvador DalĂ­ in Port Lligat
The famous painter bought a number of houses along the coast and consolidated them into a mansion filled with his surrealistic art.  His home is now a museum.

Tossa del Mar
A castle was built in the 11th century to fortify this coastal town.  The castle is gone, but the medieval walls and towers still remain.

The distinctive rock formations of Montserrat, a mountain range to the west of Barcelona.

Barcelona, the capital and largest city of Cataluña
You can make out, just above the center of the photo, the famous Church of the Holy Family, designed by the architect AntonĂ­ GaudĂ­.  It was begun in 1882 and is still under construction.

The delta of the Ebro River
The mouth of Spain's largest river includes a wildlife sanctuary where flock of flamingos nest.

The snow-covered peaks of the Pyrenees
The Pyrenees form the border between Spain and France.

I have been to Barcelona four times, but this photo exhibit makes me want to return and see more of Cataluña beyond its capital city.


Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Back to Downton

I was a big fan of the "Downton Abbey" series, and I got Alejandro hooked on the show also.  I bought him the boxed DVD sets of each season to watch in Mexico.  Yes, I know it was a soap opera, but it was a very well-done soap opera.  When the movie sequel to the show came out in the theaters in Mexico, Alejandro and I went to see it, and we enjoyed it.  

While down there on my latest trip, we saw that the second movie, "Downton Abbey - A New Era", was going to premiere in Mexico.  So, on my last weekend there, we went to the Cinemex at a nearby mall to see it.

Although, I enjoyed the movie, I did not think that it was nearly as good as the previous film or the TV series.  The movie is split between two story lines.  The Dowager Countess (Maggie Smith) has inherited a villa in the south of France under mysterious circumstances, and a film company wants to use Downton Abbey to produce their latest silent picture.  The action is very episodic as it goes back and forth in short scenes between France and the Abbey.  By the second half of the movie seems to be more cohesive. However, the dialogue, which was one of the TV series strong points, seemed rather ho-hum.  There are no memorable zingers from Maggie Smith.  The whole plot seems rather contrived, and, in the end, everyone has a happy ending that seems too pat.  Well, a happy ending for everyone except (spoiler alert) the Dowager Countess, who passes away.  With her death, I suspect, the Downton Abbey story has come to an end, and there will be no more sequels to the sequel to the sequel.

If you are a "Downton Abbey" fan, go and see it.  If not, don't bother.

Monday, May 9, 2022

Building Progress

I still have a few posts to write about my most recent trip to Mexico City.

Each time I return I check out the progress of building projects going on throughout the city.

Just a couple blocks from my apartment, on the other side of Insurgentes Avenue from the World Trade Center, work continues on this building which will house a Hyatt Regency Hotel and luxury condos.  The windows have been put in place almost to the top floor.  I wonder if construction will be complete and the hotel open by the time I return in August.

Downtown, work progresses on the Be Grand Reforma, which will be a mixed used, office and residential tower.  When completed it will be 50 stories and 679 feet high, as tall as the World Trade Center, which, for the moment, is the 6th tallest building in Mexico City.

Along the Paseo de la Reforma, the University Club is an exclusive private club housed in one of the old mansions which used to line that boulevard.

Right behind it, the University Tower, a luxury condo building, is taking shape. When completed, it will be 57 stories and 665 feet high.  It is supposed to be completed this year, but I rather doubt that.  

Also along the Paseo de la Reforma, there appears to be no progress at all on the Torre ColĂłn.  The construction area is still surrounded by barricades.  Peeking through the fence, it does not appear that they have even begun excavation of the foundation.  

The proposed tower is supposed to reach a height of 72 floors and 1036 feet, which would make it the tallest building in Mexico City, surpassing the recently completed Torre Mitikah.

While new buildings rise throughout the city, there are some structures that were damaged in the 2017 earthquake that have yet to be torn down.  Along Xola Avenue this government office building was closed due to structural damage.

In fact, for quite a while, the Metrobus station next to it was closed because authorities feared the building might collapse.  The station is open again.  I certainly hope they that decided that the structure is not going fall down on top of it, because I frequently use this station!

Saturday, May 7, 2022

Time to Renew

My passport will expire in December of this year.  Now is the longest stretch of time that I am not traveling (my next trip to Mexico is not until August), so it is essential that I renew my passport NOW!  Yesterday, my first full day home, I went to the post office and got the renewal form.

I also had my passport photo taken at the post office.  In the past ten years since I applied for my last passport, they have changed the rules about the photos.  People always complain about the way they look in their passport and driver's license pictures, but I thought my old photo looked fine.  However, you are no longer allowed to wear glasses when the picture is taken, and I do not like the way I look without glasses.

The clerk at the post office told me that it can take as long as eleven weeks to receive the new passport.  That is cutting it rather close, so I am thinking about paying the extra money for an expedited renewal.  

I am also considering applying for a passport card in addition to my renewed passport book.  I have read that visitors to Mexico are supposed carry their passports with them at all times.  I have never done that except if I am travelling outside of Mexico City. I worry about losing it or having it stolen, so I always keep my passport hidden in the apartment, or locked in the hotel safe.  But if I had a passport card in addition to the book, the card would easily fit in my wallet.

So, this weekend, one of my chores will be to carefully read the instructions and fill out the renewal form.  I hope to have the renewal form sent off in the mail next week.