Tuesday, May 31, 2022

What Did YOU Do Over Memorial Day Weekend?

Well, if you have been following this blog, you could make a pretty safe bet as to what I did over the holiday weekend.  The weather was dry, so I was in the garden working around six hours each day.

In spite of the long hours I spent, I did not make as much progress as I had hoped.  I came to the long perennial bed along the border of my property.  There are a lot of ostrich ferns here... too many ostrich ferns!  They multiply like rabbits.  So, I spent a good deal of time transplanting ferns that were encroaching upon the other perennials.  I have been planting those ferns behind the storage shed, but I had to enlarge that bed for the new transplants.

I also finished planting the annuals that I bought at the garden center.  Those that were not put in the flower box or in hanging baskets are all in pots.  I still have to clean off the patios, so the final placement of the flowerpots remains to be done.

Memorial Day is traditionally the time here in Ohio when the danger of frost has passed.  So, I also took many of the houseplants out on the patios.  Several of them need to be repotted.  I had a pot that was the suitable size for my jade plant, but for the other plants I will need to return to the garden center and buy more pots.

The forecast calls for hot and dry weather today, so I will be working once again in the garden.

Sunday, May 29, 2022

The Four Seasons

In 1952 the children of a wealthy area lawyer, art collector and patron of the arts, donated to the Cleveland Museum of Art a series of four tapestries which their father had acquired.  These tapestries portray the four seasons and were probably made in the 1600s at the famous Gobelins Factory in Paris.  The following year, however, the tapestries were removed from display because, after more than three centuries, they were damaged and in fragile condition. They could not be safely hung.  For decades they sat in the museum's storage.  Then in 2007 they were chosen for cleaning and restoration.  The tapestries were sent to the Royal Manufacturers De Wit in Belgium, experts in textile conservation.  Now, after seventy years, the four, large wall coverings are once again on display.


The season of love.  While the fishermen catch fish in the river below, the gentleman on the bridge seeks to attract the attention of the woman next to him.


The season of ripening crops.  The seated figures to the right are negotiating the price of wheat while a bookkeeper behind them records the transaction.


The season of the grape harvest.  Harvesters bring baskets of grapes to be stomped to make wine while children snack on the fruit.


The season of cold and darkness.  The cold does not keep people from enjoying themselves as they gather to ice skate on the frozen pond.

Friday, May 27, 2022

Cleveland Art

Yesterday the weather forecast called for rain, so I took a break from gardening and drove to the Cleveland Museum of Art.  You may remember that during the pandemic, when I was unable to travel, I made frequent trips to the museum and wrote about the different galleries here on the blog.

One gallery which I did not discuss is the room devoted to artists who lived, studied or worked in the Cleveland area.  Here are a few items in that gallery...

"Still Life Plaque" 
by Victor Schreckengost

Schreckengost created ceramics for Cowan Pottery in the Cleveland suburb of Rocky River.  His work was inspired by the angular and fragmented forms of cubism.

"St. George and the Dragon"
by Russel Barnett Aitken

Aitken studied enameling at the Cleveland Institute of Art.  This plaque is enamel on copper.

"The Pool"
by William Sommer

Sommer moved in 1914 to the village of Brandywine between Cleveland and Akron.  He bought an abandoned schoolhouse and converted it into his studio.  His artwork, influenced by French artistic movements, reflects the rural setting in which he lived.

"Rooftop View"
by Hughie Lee-Smith

The African American painter studied in Cleveland before moving on to Detroit and New York.  His isolated and desolate cityscapes reflect his experiences as a black man.

"Console table and mirror"
by Paul Fehér

The Hungarian-born artist trained in decorative metalwork moved to Cleveland where he was employed by the Rose Iron Works.  His work reflects the art deco style which was popular at the time.

"Gold necklace"
by John Paul Miller

Miller studied painting at the Cleveland Institute of Art but switched to making jewelry.  This piece was commissioned by Cleveland politician Seth Taft as a 50th anniversary gift for his wife Franny, a long-time Cleveland Institute of Art professor.

"My Home Town"
by Michelangelo Lovelace

Lovelace, an African American painter and life-long Cleveland resident, painted vibrant commentaries on politics and society.  This large canvas is filled with Cleveland landmarks.  The black people are all on the East Side, the white people are on the West Side, and they mingle in the center, Downtown.  Lovelace passed away in 2021 from pancreatic cancer at the age of 60.

Thursday, May 26, 2022

A Respite from Travel

This time of year is the longest stretch when I am actually at home and not traveling.  I have three full months in Ohio.  I may be taking a break from traveling, but it is a very busy time of year.  

As you know I am very occupied with my garden.  (This is when my "travel blog" seems more like a "gardening blog".)  Every day when the weather permits, I have been working outside between four and six hours.  There is still a lot to do, although I have accomplished much.

It's starting to look like a well-tended garden!

Back when I was teaching, I didn't even begin my gardening work until Memorial Day weekend, so I am far ahead of the game.  

Besides garden work, there is a more to be done during my sojourn at home.  Doctor and dentist appointments must always be made during the time that I am in Ohio.  I also have two important projects besides the garden that must be accomplished.  I have to paint my Christmas card and design my calendar for 2023.

And once I have things under control, I need to socialize with my friends up here before I jump on an airplane again!

I look forward to my next trip in August when I can once again relax!

Wednesday, May 25, 2022


 The iris in my garden are now blooming.  Once the buds appeared I had to spray them all with deer repellant, and fortunately, this year the deer have not bothered them.

In the back yard, my two clumps of white, bearded iris are flowering.

Another clump, in a different color, which my friend Frank gave me a few years ago, has buds and will soon blossom.

In the front yard my clump of purple bearded iris is blooming.

However, it does not have as many flowers this year.  I think I will have to read up on how to separate the rhizomes which must be done every few years.  From the photo you can see that the rhizomes look rather crowded.

Throughout my garden I also have Siberian iris.  They have tall, grass like leaves, and a smaller but very pretty flower.

Monday, May 23, 2022

The Spoiled Traveler

I admit it; I am spoiled.  Since before the pandemic, I have been traveling to Mexico in first or business class, and I have become accustomed to the comfort.  Searching the United Airlines website whenever planning a trip, I have always been able to find round-trip tickets to Mexico City on first or business class for under $800.  (I tend to make my reservations far in advance.  I don't know if that is part of the reason why I have been successful in finding good fares.)  Since I am traveling alone, and I am spending less in Mexico than I would at home, I figure that I can afford that splurge.  

The invasion of Ukraine occurred in February while I was on my winter trip.  I figured that fuel prices would soon be going up, so, as soon as I returned home in March, I went ahead and made reservations for my trips in August and October.  (I was already booked for my April flight.)  I found first-class tickets for those trips that were still under $800, so I jumped on them.  

The other day I was on the website looking at fares for next January, and, yes, the prices have gone up.  The cheapest first-class price I could find was a little under $1100.  However, basic economy was over $900... not that much of a difference.  I will wait a while before booking, but I just might go ahead and continue pampering my spoiled self.  

Sunday, May 22, 2022


A while ago I showed you a photo of the first of my azalea bushes to blossom.  Now most of the bushes across the front of my house are in full bloom.


Several years ago, I had some overgrown shrubberies removed.  I replaced them with small azalea bushes.  Those are doing well and slowly growing.

There are two pink azaleas among the newer bushes that are always the last to bloom.  The buds are just starting to open.

Saturday, May 21, 2022

More Tests

While I was in Mexico last winter, the government announced that free COVID test kits were available for free.  Each household was eligible for two kits.  My friend Frank, who house-sits for me, signed me up for those, and, if I remember correctly, they arrived in the mail before my return home.  Shortly afterwards, the government offered two more free test kits.  I signed up for those, and they arrived more quickly than the first ones.

I now had four kits.  Each kit contains materials for two tests, so that you can double check with a second test a day or two after the first.  I used one of the kits a few days before my departure for Mexico in April.  I used another one a few days ago after attending a fairly large social gathering.  On both occasions I tested negative.  I still had two kits.  I figured that I would use one before my next trip to Mexico in August, and I would still have another one in case I felt that I needed to test myself for any reason.  

Then, I recently read an article on the internet that the government was offering free kits once again.  I signed up, and those arrived at almost lightning speed a couple days ago.

The two orange boxes to the right are the same brand, made in China, that I received in one of the previous shipments.  The box to the left is made in South Korea and contains a total of four tests.  The expiration date on them is for August of this year, which might explain why the government wanted to get rid of them.  

Cases are on the rise once again in the United States, and hardly anyone is wearing masks anymore.  So, I guess I will use my test kits frequently this summer before they expire.  

Friday, May 20, 2022

Starting to Plant

As I wrote yesterday, although my flower beds are filled with perennials, I do buy each year a bunch of annuals to plant in hanging baskets, pots and a large flower box behind my bedroom.

The one place where I plant some annuals in the ground is in the bed next to the driveway and front sidewalk.  By the sidewalk there is a shady area where I like to plant either begonias or impatiens.  When I went to the garden center on Wednesday, I bought sixteen impatiens plants of different colors.  My first task yesterday was to put those in the bed.  As they grow they should form a colorful carpet at the front of that area.

At the back corner of the house I prepared the first two of the many hanging baskets that I have.  These two were planted with "supertunias" and their cousins, calibrachoas (sometimes called "Million Bells").   I like the "supertunias" because, unlike regular petunias, they do not require deadheading and they do not get scraggly.  The calibrachoa have smaller flowers, but bloom profusely.  They do not require deadheading either.  (In case you are not a gardener, deadheading is the removal of dead flowers to promote further blooming.)

As I continued working on the flower beds, when I would get tired of stooping over, I would plant something in my flowerbox.  I started at the end of the box, planting the tallest flowers first.  (I have matching plants to put at the other end of flowerbox.)

At the right is a cleome, which can grow as tall as four feet.  Next is an Argyranthemum frutescens, commercially sold under the name of Golden Butterfly.  It can grow up to three feet, and is covered with cheerful, yellow flowers.  Finally, there is a Dipladenia.  Dipladenia is in the Mandevilla family, but it is bushy rather than vining.

We may have a bit of rain this morning, but in the afternoon, I should be able to do some more gardening. 

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Flower Shopping

Even though my beds are filled with perennials, I still have hanging baskets, flowerpots, and the large flower box to fill with annuals every year. 

Yesterday the weather felt very British... chilly and drizzling all day long.  The high temperature only reached 61 F.  It was certainly not a pleasant day for gardening, so I went to a couple of nearby garden centers and bought my annuals.

Here are my purchases, sitting on the table and chairs, and on the patio.  Behind those there are a couple more flats on top of the flower box.  Not in the photo are the shade-loving flowers that are sitting under a tree.

As you can see from the picture, which I took just a half hour ago, this morning is still dreary.  However, according to the forecast, in a couple of hours the clouds will break, and the sun will appear.  By this afternoon the temperature will rise to the mid-70s.  After my day off, I shall return to work in the garden.

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.