Tuesday, July 16, 2019

For Cat Lovers

You might have noticed that there is a new blog listed under my Blog List.  It is not about the usual topics you will find here... Mexico or travel... but about cats.  "Mighty Kool Kats" is a blog written by Kathryn, one of my former students, and, as the title suggests, it is devoted largely to photos of her cats.

Kathryn was a very good student.  Perhaps I shouldn't tell this story, and I hope she doesn't get upset with me, but I remember that she would always say, "I'm never going to use a foreign language."  I would tell her, "You never know where life is going to take you."   I had lost track of her for a long time, and when we made contact some years ago, she was teaching in South Korea.  Well, she might not have been using her Spanish, but she was definitely using a foreign language!

I had not heard from her again for a number of years.  Then a couple days ago I had a comment on this blog signed by "Kathryn".  When she referred to me as "señor" I knew that the comment must be from my former student.  I clicked on her name, and I was directed to her blog which she had recently started.  Kathryn is once again living here in suburban Cleveland. 

So, if you would like to see some adorable pictures of cats, click on "Mighty Kool Kats" under my "Blog List" on the right hand margin. 

Good to hear from you again, Kathryn!   

Monday, July 15, 2019

Musical Fireworks

The Fourth of July has come and gone, but last Saturday there were fireworks, of a musical sort, at the Blossom Music Festival.

Each summer I try to get to at least one concert at the Blossom Music Center, the summer home of the Cleveland Orchestra.

Saturday, my friend Cliff and I attended a concert that promised to be very good.  It turned out to be spectacular.

I forgot to take my camera. but Cliff snapped pictures of the Blossom pavilion and the interior prior to the beginning of the concert.

The Blossom Music Center was built in 1968 twenty five miles to the south of Cleveland in  forested countryside surrounded by the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.  More than 21 million people have attended concerts of all kinds, from classical to rock, since its opening.

I chose this concert because the program included Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 4, one of my favorites.  The symphony, which was the concluding work of the concert, certainly did not disappoint, particularly climactic final movement.  However, the highlight of the evening was Prokofiev's Piano Concerto No. 3.   The soloist for the concerto was Conrad Tao, making his Cleveland Orchestra debut.

(image taken from the internet)
 I had never heard of him before, but apparently the 25 year old musician and composer from Illinois has created quite a stir.  He was a child prodigy.  He gave his first recital at the age of four and began his studies at Julliard when he was nine.  He is described as iconoclastic.  Indeed, he appeared on stage without shoes and performed the concerto barefoot.

(Cliff surreptitiously snapped a photo during the performance.)

In recent years, Blossom has added two large screens on either side of the stage, and cameras give concertgoers close up views of the performers.  I was fascinated watching his fingers fly across the keyboard.  I could also watch his body movements and facial expressions while he played.  This is an artist who is not shy about abandoning himself completely into the music.  Cliff and I agreed that we had never seen anything like his performance.  The audience, of course, gave him a thunderous ovation, and after returning to the stage several times to acknowledge the applause, he gave us an encore, a portion of a Bach sonata.  

It was another glorious evening with the renowned Cleveland Orchestra! 

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Garden Quiz

It has been a long time since I have posted a quiz on the blog.  Since most of my posts lately have been about gardening, I thought that it would be appropriate to do a quiz on some of the famous gardens that I have visited on my travels.

1. This garden belonged to a famous French painter who immortalized it in his paintings.  Name the artist and the town where it was located.

2.  The river running through this city frequently overflowed its banks, so the city fathers diverted its course, and created a garden that runs more than five miles along the old river bed.  Name the city.

3.  This botanical garden is located within a former market building.  Of special interest are the modern stained glass windows. Name the Mexican city in which this garden is located.

4.  This English palace, built in 1515, is surrounded by extensive gardens.  Name the palace.

5.  This park was the site of an exhibition in 1992.  Name the U.S. city in which it is located. 


My former student Meredith sent me an email with her answers rather than commenting on the blog, and her answers were 100% correct!

1.  Claude Monet was the artist who owned a home with extensive gardens in Giverny, France.  The water lily pond was the subject of numerous paintings.

2.  The Turia Gardens follow the former course of the Turia River in Valencia, Spain.

3.  The "Cosmovitral"... gardens and beautiful stained glass windows... is the major tourist attraction in the Mexican city of Toluca.

4.  Hampton Court, outside of London was one of the favorite palaces of Henry VIII and his ill-fated second wife Anne Boleyn.

5.  Franklin Park in Columbus, Ohio, was the site of an exposition called AmeriFlora to commemorate the 500th anniversary of Christopher Columbus's voyage in 1492.

Way to go, Meredith! 

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Random Blossoms

July is the month when my garden looks its best.  There is a wide variety of perennials in bloom.

Here are a few of the flowers that are now blooming...

Different varieties of coreopsis...

Purple loosestrife...


Purple cone flower...


Balloon flower...

Fluffy clusters of tiny pink flowers on the filipendula and loosestrife in the background...

And, of course, day lilies...

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Thinning Out

For years I have said that I needed to thin out my crowded shade garden.  But I liked the solid blanket of vegetation, with various shades of green from a variety of hostas, ferns, grasses, and the "snow on the mountain" ground cover.  Astilbes, day lilies, and spiderwort would provide a touch of color from time to time.  This year I had no choice but to thin the bed out.  As I wrote a couple days ago some plant of unknown origen was taking over and choking out my plants.  Today I spent several hours of my 4th of July mercilessly ripping out the invasive intruder, at times sacrificing some of my established plantings in the process.  I repeatedly turned over the soil with a shovel and picked out the ubiquitous whitish strand sof roots.  It fear that any bit of root remaining will sprout again next year.  I am sure I did not remove every piece of root, and I will probably see this pretty bu nefarious plant again in the spring.  However, there should be a lot less of it to deal with next year.  

When I was done with the operation, there were actually patches of bare soil visible between the plants.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

A Visit with Meredith

Those of you who regularly read my blog may remember my former student, Meredith.  Last January I played "tour guide" for her and her husband Chuck in Mérida, Yucatán.  They live in Wisconsin, but Meredith came home to Ohio to spend the holiday with her family.  Unfortunately Chuck could not take off from work.  

Today she and I got together for a leisurely lunch at a restaurant not far from my house.  It was great spending some time with her.  Meredith was a joy to have in class (as were her two sisters), and she has grown up to be a great person.  I take pride in thinking  that I might have, in some small measure, inspired her interest in travel and foreign languages.  

After lunch, since I live nearby, and since she has read about my garden on this blog, we went to my house for a tour of the garden (which is still a work in progress).  

Meredith is a bit of a dinosaur, as am I, in that she has never been interested in having a smart phone.  She recently needed to purchase one for work, and her very first "selfie" was this picture of the two of us.

I was glad to see you again, Meredith, and I hope that I may once again be your "tour guide" in Mexico.  Mexico City is calling to you and Chuck.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Pretty Invader

Work on my final flower bed is going slowly because I am dealing with an invader of unknown origen.

A few years ago a new plant appeared out of the blue in my shade garden.  It had little white flowers in the early summer and looked quite pretty.

Now that mysterious plant threatens to take over my flower bed and strangle out the existing flowers.

So I have been trying to remove the invader.  It seems that it spreads through its extensive root system.  I am digging up the soil and removing the long, white roots.  I suspect that I have not seen the last of this plant, but, hopefully next spring there will be a lot less of this unwelcome guest.

Does anyone happen to know just what this plant is?