Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Special Company

My oldest son is on his way up from Kentucky. We last saw him, and most of my family, back in April. My parents, brothers, sisters, and most all other relatives live in states south of here so I don't get to see The Conners as much as I'd like. Unfortunately, and oddly, we don't seem to "get out" all that much anymore. Except for my son, Benjamin, who seems to be on the go a lot. At 28, he's still a young man with energy to spare, and loves to travel when he can.

(Bonus points if you can name the fish.)

The start of 2009 will be mighty special!

The dogwood pictured in my previous post was photographed in downtown Pittsburgh. I don't know the variety name. What's striking, for me anyway, is its natural beauty in comparison to the man-made beauty of the "concrete jungle."

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas Eve

I was prompted by Ms. Tina to post a rather revealing piece of poetry I wrote several years ago. I say revealing not because I'm a cryptic poet wishing to be understood by a cruel world of uncaring non-poetic illiterates, but because I try to keep my humility by a somewhat self-deprecating lifestyle.

My 'Twas A Poinsettia for Christmas tale is a short narrative based on an actual event. An event that now stands as one of the most embarrassing moments a master gardener could ever endure. But if you look closely at the photo, you'll see how one can be easily fooled by the modern marvels of synthetic engineering. Try if you will, to choose which of those three poinsettias is but a simulacrum.

It is my Christmas wish that all of you have a most happy and memorable holiday season. May joy fill your spirits, and may you always keep the child-like wonder this season brings; the wonder of unexpected things, the wonder of what love means, the wonder of life's endings and beginnings.

'Twas a Poinsettia for Christmas by TC Conner

It was a week before Christmas, two years ago I think,
We had no poinsettias and I was feeling quite pink.
A house without poinsettias at this time of year
Is not very conducive to holiday cheer.
We usually have two or more for shelves and on floors,
But had not purchased even one yet and the house looked a bore.
I don't grow tall paperwhites as lots of folks do,
They get floppy and their odor is, well, just plain P U!
I used to grow amaryllis, their blooms are pretty and big,
But they got just as leggy as paperwhites did.
I needed poinsettias to make Christmas right,
Poinsettias in red and poinsettias in white.
So I planned to buy some and buy them real quick
For Christmas was coming, and with it Saint Nick.
I knew where to go, whom to see, what to pay,
But worried they'd all be sold out on that day.
Oh how elated I was when I saw hundreds lined up
In pots and on end caps in the aisles towards the front.
I rushed to the flowers and eyed them with glee
I picked out the prettiest one I could see.
Gently now, gently I set it in the cart,
And slowly rolled towards the checkout part.
This was the most beautiful poinsettia I had ever seen,
And I carried it home oh so carefully.
I knew just where to put my new beautiful flower,
On the mantle next to the miniature angel choir.
This poinsettia topped all the rest,
It glowed as none other had glowed in the past.
I watered it well taking care not to drown it,
Then I went to my chair and sat down for a moment.
My wife was due home, I was excited and proud,
"I love poinsettias!" she'd often say very loud.
She came through the door and stopped at the mantle,
For a moment I thought she looked a bit rattled.
And then she sang out as if in an operetta,
"Hey Hon, where'd you get the fake Poinsettia?"
"Fake??!" I shouted and ran to the flower,
My hands were shaking, my mouth turned sour.
"Yes, it's silk," my wife said with a chuckle,
and when I touched a fake leaf my knees almost buckled.
I couldn't believe I had thought it was real,
I even watered the thing, how dumb I did feel.
So now when I see poinsettias out,
I'm warmly reminded of my very real doubt
That Santa will ever let me forget
Of the time I watered a very fake plant.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima)

I often wish it were possible to hybridize them into trees so I could have a poinsettia Christmas tree instead of the same old fir, spruce, or pine we usually put up. Poinsettias take me into the Christmas spirit more than any other thing I can think of. Back in the day, it was my toddlers with their wide-eyed amazement and wonder leading up to Christmas morning (they're teens now, who seem almost lethargic with it all, but that's fodder for another post).

I'm sure most of you know that the bright red, white, or pinkish leaves on poinsettias are actually specialized bracts, colored so beautifully for attracting pollinators (humans do that for us out of season, so there's really no need for the leaves to be so dramatic). The flowers are located down in among the bracts, almost hidden, and resemble little olives; the tighter the "olive," or bud, the longer you'll have colorful bracts.

The tightness of these buds says the colorful bracts will last a good while, if all other needs are met. A primary concern is overwatering; do that and you'll ensure a quick death from root rot.

I wish for a red poinsettia Christmas tree.

Or perhaps a 'Marble' poinsettia Christmas tree.

You may have heard that poinsettias are poisonous, this isn't all that factual. You'd have to eat something like a thousand bracts or so before you'd even get a tummy ache. When cut, stems seep a milky white sap that might irritate sensitive skin. The kitty in the above photo is around them a lot and seems not to mind, my guess is pets are not bothered by them either.

Perhaps you've noticed that I've not posted much about gardening lately. There's a couple of reasons; one is that I write a weekly column for a local paper and like to mix it up here, the other you can find in the sentence under "The Write Gardener" in my header - "life in and out of the garden."

It's the Christmas season, I know you don't need a reminder to (always) treat others with kindness, be happy with who you are, love your family, and your God, with all your heart, and if you ever hear of someone hybridizing a poinsettia tree, please let me know.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Bluegrass in The Northeast with The Reckharts

I posted this video to let y'all know that bluegrass music is alive and well in states northward from Kentucky and Tennessee. I recorded this piece in Phil's Woodshed a couple of Saturdays ago. The Reckharts are a local bluegrass group that often stages a few gigs at Phil's place.

Another related item of interest is the fact that The Dog House Three has reunited and is in full practice mode. You can expect to see a video or three from them in the near future.

The Doghouse Three

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Oh no, a poem

I love to talk. But only about certain things here. I was asked recently why I didn't "pour it all out" and I don't really have a good answer. Perhaps it has something to do with transparency and a trepidation about revealing too much. We all have dark secrets. I often express them in poetry. Letting on that you write poetry can be revealing, but whether or not your words are poetic to a reader is another matter. Which is why I think poetry is such a wonderful way to express yourself. I offer no interpretations or critical analysis of my poetry; I got enough of that in college. You may or may not enjoy reading poetry, I can honestly say that I'm not very well read on the masters, although I've always been intrigued by their ability to evoke so much with just a few (or many) words.

Some would ridicule morose poetry. Not I. And if you, dear reader, find my poems to be a bit on the gloomy side, well, don't fret, I'm kind of used to walkin in the dark.

Soft Song

Softly made a noise I could hardly hear,
wrapping her voice around me like a hug.
I tasted her skin and heard it so clear,
or was it that other thing that's made up
of so many lies and so many tears?
Forgetting to listen with words I feel,
while she places inside terrible fears.
Her thick crusty shell reminds me of steel.
Why always open when it should be closed?
This meaningless tangle of nothingness.
I see upside down, I'm not wearing clothes,
I walk on water to compare this.
It's more than my cup will ever contain,
a nightmarish soft song with no refrain.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Say Nothin' Saturday

You've got mail?

She planted flowers
in an old ringer-washer
they were beautiful

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Dark Video

No, I'm not being cryptic. It's an amateur videographer's way of sayin he should've used better lighting.

It's unclear who wrote this old folk song, but I'm pretty sure it wasn't Eric Burden and The Animals. Wikipedia goes into more detail in their write-up. I was around 10 or 12-years old when I first heard it on the radio and it was one of the first songs I learnt.

That's Phillip singin, I'm playin acoustic guitar.