mantisphiles

Life one bite at a time…….

Marjorie

Isn’t Marjorie a beautiful name? To me evocative of English accents, cocktails and dinner parties.

I am lucky to have a Marjorie in my life.  Some folks call her Marjie or some such.  But to me it short sells a beautiful word, aptly applied to a beautiful person.

How did I come to have a Marjorie you might ask?  When I found the sanctuary of Grace UMC, I was alone.  Every Sunday for months, I would enter the calm stillness and hope to find peace, true grace and a way ahead.  Every Sunday, two lovely ladies sat near where I sat.  Sometimes, I would sit right behind them.  Soon, we struck up a friendship.  It didn’t take long to find out my new friends Joyce and Marjorie had existed in my state of onesiness for a long time.  They knew where I was, and made an effort to make sure I got where I needed to go.

Soon, we were seeking each other out before service.  It was delightful meeting those ladies.  Joyce sent me cards.  Long after the madding crowd had left my little drama, a card now and again would pop through the mail.  Made me feel there was someone out there thinking.

I recognized a fiesty streak in Marjorie.  Don’t ask me how.   I was blown away when she stood up in the pulpit and described not only that she had been attending Grace for over 80 years, but she had begun the journey as a little girl,  alone.  First walking, and then riding a trolley.  Beyond fiesty.  Determined.  Very, very determined.

When we began serving on the finance committee together, I loved seeing her work the room.  She was a force.    I became chair of the committee and soon Marjorie and I were riding together, sharing space, sharing tales.  I started realizing how shallow the end of the pool I inhabited.  She was quite simply, Something.

I thought I was so cool, so pushing the envelope when I picked her up for her birthday lunch in my hot little convertible.   That day we were ladies who lunched.  Taking our time, swapping stories.  It wasn’t until afterwards, when I had forgotten to take the convertible up to 90 in honor of her upcoming date, that I realized I needed to run a lot faster than that to keep up.  She told me that she and her husband had owned a GTO back in the day.  Not only did they own it, they drove it Mexico.  When he needed a nap, she took over the driving.  Wide open spaces, foreign country, muscle car, Marjorie at the wheel.  Then her husband woke up and discovered she was doing 90.

And she is the 90 I would aspire to be.  Curious, energetic, thoughtful, smart.  She volunteers, she leads, she continually keeps moving and it seems takes no prisoners, except me. Sweet, gentle, fiery.

Happy birthday, Marjorie.

The Good, the Bad and oh, whatever…….

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Today is a day I have been dreading.  Not like the April 15, I gotta send money kinda dread.  But in the “this is gonna be some serious hard work” kinda way.

It’s been at least five years since I’ve been at the compost bins.

Can I digress here and say I don’t always get the English?  Don’t they say comPAHST?  So if that’s the case isn’t it The Pahstman Always Ring Twice?

Anyway, I have been procrastinating.  I know there is deep rich stuff in them there bins.  But the shoveling and filtering is dirty heavy business.  But in the end comes gold.  Black gold.  Ohio tea.  Like in the picture above.  One bin of sieved, compost filled an entire large Vermont cart.  This is the stuff of gardener’s green dreams.

For me, this is the beginning of a new project.  Part of the procrastination.  There is scope creep in this here project.  First some background.  Although I live in a suburban area, we are mightily plagued with an expanding deer population.  I have tried on several occasions to vegetable garden here.  I have the room and some ideally sunny areas.  But those spots are also easily marauded by our four legged friends, not to mention the raccoons, possums, skunks and anything else running loose.  I have been most successful with pots near the shed.  Not ideal in terms of sun space, but close to rainbarrels and the building seems to act as a deterrent to marauders.

So here is the next generation project……

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Raised beds ala stock tanks.  I have done a little reading.  Very little as I am a woman of action!

Unfortunately, the feeding of the procrastination is moving the wood pile in this area, figuring out the best spot for sun and then filling said stock tanks with compost.  The Vermont cart full filled one stock tank about halfway.  I have to rehome the wood pile, figure out the walking path and then get the rest of the compost sieved.  I’m exhausted just writing this.  And I have yet to plant a thing.

I am hoping with these deep tanks, root vegetables, garlic, onions will have a chance.  I am not greedy.  I am limiting my potential harvest to tomatoes, peppers, onions, tomatoes, garlic, potatoes and green beans.  If there is  enough room, can asparagus be too far behind.?  But first I have to prove this little experiment will work.  I am worried there is too much shade.

And the bad?  You might have interpolated that the bad in the title was the hard work.  Unfortunately, not so.  Don’t forget I am a professional commando gardener.  Used to these bursts of high energy farm labor.  The bad is actually human intervention.  Someone put a broken bottle into my compost bin.  And one enterprising piece found its way into the palm of my hand.  I swear I felt it hit me all the way to my shoulder.  It’s for these occurrences I keep the peroxide handy.  Hard to type a post with just one hand……

And the news from the rest of the estate?  Ah, there is news indeed.  In addition to mantis this year, has been a blessing of butterflies, many which I have no idea who they are, many of which are swallowtails.

I was blessed to see that a Giant Swallowtail was flitting through the farm.  Think really large black/brown chocolatey wings with yellow racing stripes looking much like unwound film.  More dark than light. Enchanting.  Flew through too quickly for  me to get the camera, or so I thought.

A few days ago, there was something decidedly nasty, decidedly sinister on my lemon tree.  Yes folks, the same lemon tree the deer pulled off it’s resting place and broke many of it’s branches.  Patched up it survived.  Who knew deer liked lemon?

But the thing on my lemon tree?  At first, I thought it a particularly artistic means of bird self expression.  Yes, bird poop.  But it was fascinatingly weird, I couldn’t take my eyes from it.  When it moved I realized what I took for the terminal glop of poo, really looked like a baby alligator, or a dragon.  Holy smokes!  this is either animated bird poop ala Stephen Spielberg or it it’s ALIVE!

And thus I get to see the caterpillar form of the giant swallowtail, hanging it in my lemon tree……..

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As a point of comparison, this is what a yellow swallowtail caterpillar looks like, just so you don’t think I have this bizarre sense of drama (okay I do have a bizarre since of drama but not with caterpillars)…..

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Big difference, no?

Then there are the mantis.  In my previous post, it might be recalled that in the nine mantis counted, one was a two and half incher.  Clearly out of his league amongst all the heavy weights around him.  Yes, it was a him.  The next day, I found his headless, dessicated body not far from where I first spotted him.  Seems he found his femme fatale.  Interestingly enough, his replacement was an even smaller mantis, under two inches.  Good luck little guy.  May you creep under the radar.

Lagniappe

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I sedum come and I sedum go…….