Saturday, October 29, 2016

A Little Succulent Love

  First of all, get your mind out of the gutter....
  I'm talking about succulents as in the plants, ok? Jeez.
  (This may say more about me, and where my mind goes, now that I think about it...)

  As I was cruising around my little garden, I noticed that my beloved succulents were looking particularly beautiful. We have had some rain lately...nice and steady through the night, and my pots of succulents are just soaking it in!
  Also, I have been giving these pots MaxSea, a great powdered fertilizer that everything seems to thrive on. For these guys, once a month or so seems to be just right. 

  Half the fun with my succulents is finding old pots, cans,  coffee mugs...or whatever works, to plant new ones in. I just keep taking off the babies and popping them in here and there...

One display I like mucho.
Texture Galore.
(my new 'hooker name')

They came 'alive' over night, after the rain!

  There are so many interesting varieties, for sure, but since I'm the world's greatest cheapskate, I just keep propagating the ones I already have, only adding new varieties if someone gives me their cuttings.
  Those I do have aren't super special, or hard to find...but I like them and they add so much to the garden.

I love this container with this succulent.

When these look good, they look soooo good!

A new baby getting started in the little pot.
It will be moved up into something larger.

A new favorite from my garden helper.
Thanks, Pedro!
He has an awesome collection.

  These, above, are all medium to large specimens. I really like the drama they add throughout the garden.
  Lately, I have been scoping out the teeny-tiny species. I like the way they weave around rocks and other succulents, once they get going. They also look gray in cool, small containers...

A match made in plant/pot heaven.
Well, I think so...

This poor thing keeps getting torn apart by garden critters.
I don't know why, but they tear it up just when it looks good.
I now have it way high up on a table.

The newest teeny.
I'm looking for the perfect container for this one.

  Though I love my roses, and all the other fluffy things that live in my garden, I plan to continue switching over to more and more of these drought tolerant lovelies. It just makes so much sense these days, especially in our very mild climate.
  We are all reveling in these first-of-the-season rains, but who knows just how much we will get over the next few months.
  I'm betting on the succulent way of life, and if need be, I'll keep taking out the thirstier plants in my garden, and replace them with more of these stunners.
  Why not? They seem to be quite happy here.

Sentinel at the Garden Gate!

Monday, October 24, 2016

Ladies Of The Fields: 2016

  I have written before about the old ruins of farmhouses that we often come across in Umbria. I refer to them as 'Ladies Of The Fields'. 

  To me, they are beautiful. They conjure up feelings that range from enchantment to melancholy... depending, I suppose, on my mood. The thought that these once vibrant family homes are now slowly crumbling away into certain demise can be overwhelming to my poor little pea brain.

  I want to hug these dear old Ladies and tell them that everything will be okay, and soon their rooms will again be filled with the voices of the families that will live in them...their walls will be painted, floors will be refinished and waxed...There will be the daily fragrances of all the meals that will be prepared with loving care in their refurbished kitchens...Cats will curl up to be warmed by the wood fires that will be stoked in their fireplaces....sigh. 
  (Can someone please bequeath me a couple million dollars?)

  Johnny loves to paint these lovely Ladies, and he even named the show this year 'Fieldwork' with this particular painting as the centerpiece:

"Grand Lady Of The Field"

  Of course this was the first painting that sold.
  The actual ruin it depicted is just below Panicale, in a large field....

A bit different angle, but that's her, alright.
You can see Panicale in the distance.

  So, like my recurring posts featuring Mirror Shots and Gnomes, I guess I will return from time to time to post about the Ladies. 
  There are so many of them in the area, and I do love to poke around exploring, especially while Johnny is painting...It's no wonder I keep finding myself wandering off, looking for a way to get closer.

  Sometimes, there will be a Lady all alone, and impossible to get close to, usually because she is buried way too deeply in nasty brambles, or there is a 'no tresspass' sign posted. I do believe in the signs. Whether it's too dangerous, or the owner just does not want me poking around...I respect these signs.

We pass by this beauty when we head across the Lake.
She is next to the railroad tracks, and we had to stop for the train.
I was happy to finally get a photo...

She needs just a bit of work.

Though very, very tempting, I did not venture further....

She must have been amazing.
There were 'Pericolo" (danger) signs all around her.

  When it is possible, I like to get right up close to take shots of the details that still remain...the brick and stone work is so textural, and you never know what colors you will find.
  There aren't many that tempt me enough to go inside...I've learned the hard way. Bees, baby...bees. They love to build their nests in these old gals. Hey, why not? I get it!
  So mostly, I'll just walk as close as I can around, to see what I can see....

Johnny was painting about half a mile away.
I had to explore.

I see something like this, and just imagine it in my garden...
a potting shed door to die for. And that top bit. Yum.

More detail from the same spot.
I love the 'look through' moments.

  The Lady below is one that Johnny had wanted to stop and paint in the past. I think he may have done a quick sketch once...Anyway, this year he set up and took a good amount of time to work, so I was able to take my time and really get up close to explore.
  This one isn't in bad shape, and is still being used to store farm equipment, which is common for these old ruins.
  I love all the exposed brick and stone, though in her glory days, she most likely would have been covered in plaster and painted.

The umbrella pine is a very nice touch.

One of the windows that hasn't been 'bricked in'.
I bet this place has a good beehive.

Lots of fun around the other side.

Oh, yeah.
This speaks to my esthetic.
Big time.

  After leaving this spot, I decided to walk back to where Johnny was working the 'long way' around. 
  What luck! I stumbled on a very well hidden Lady across the road and down the way. 
  Had she not been swathed in the dreaded orange plastic bunting, I wouldn't have noticed her at all. There were massive brambles between this one and the road, and I wasn't really paying much attention. So glad I looked around some!

The plastic fencing material kept me from getting too close.
I was determined to go further in, though....

  After jumping over a muddy mess, getting stuck by bramble bushes, and dodging some icky old trash heap, I actually hit the jackpot.
  A very nice find, for sure!
  Note to my Dear Readers...I really hate having stuff like the dreaded orange plastic in my photos, so I cropped it out here, below. Just so you was all around this wonderful Lady, and I was trying to capture her in her best light, so to speak. 
  Respect, you know?

Here she is, in all her cropped glory...
The roof slightly caved in, and windowpanes gone.

  With the ceiling caved in, and the windowpanes gone, I can get the photos I am searching for...the look inside. Here, the walls are being overgrown with mildew, though there is some original color still visible.
  This is my goal...

Finding the beauty.

She tries to tell me her story...
I have looked this up, but nothing jives with where I found her.

Of course I wanted to climb those stairs, but I didn't.
I respected the dreaded orange plastic bunting, dang it.


She just needs a little love.
And two million dollars.


  The Lady, below, is classic. She's a true ruin, but in the most beautiful way.
  Impossible to get very close to this one. The weeds were high, and I couldn't stop thinking about snakes. Usually, I am not afraid of snakes, but in Umbria there are snakes and then there are snakes. Namely, vipers. They can do serious damage to your health.
  I kind of freaked myself out.
  I did get a couple of nice shots, though.

A Lady in the Field.
A field very possibly full of vipers.

  Another day, again while Johnny was working away, I revisited an old favorite Lady...
  This time, I actually had my camera. The last time we were in this same spot, I took my usual stroll, but senza camera, and had regretted it ever since. I knew I wanted to head back for some pictures.

Another one that is impossible to get close to.

Thank you, 'close-up' setting!
Always, a fig tree growing right next to these Ladies.

  As mentioned before, I just can't get enough of the caved in roof with the open be able to see through to all the gentle destruction's all so slow motion.

  On another day, I hiked way up this funky dirt road, a rocky path, really, to try and get as close as possible to the Lady, below. I could just see the top of her busted up roof line from the road below, where Johnny was setting up to paint.
  Once I was at the top, I was taken away by the view, as well as the ruin... It was easy to imagine the life that once went on here.

This was a large property, with a fantastic view.
Look close...see the fig tree in the window on the right?

From the other side....

What was once a chimney, I guess.

Another shot of the fig tree room and the awesome view.
Can we talk about that two million dollars now?

Not sure what this old cement pipe was for,
but I found it interesting anyway.

  This Grand Lady, above, had her story, all right...she even had a garden feature nearby. What I wouldn't do to have this in my own garden! It's made of old, lichen covered cement. Pure fantasy.
  Those trees aren't too shabby, either.

I just wish I could have gotten closer.
 ...And had a little tea party, too.

  Last Lady for now....

  We were way out in the middle of who knows where on this day. Don't ask me, we just took a right here, a left there...went down a funky white road over there...and Bingo.
  Middle of Nowhere.
  Who needs GPS? Who needs a map? What fun is that?!? We always find the most interesting stuff when we don't know where the hell we are.
  Case in point, this Lady Of The field.

Another trippy ruin way up a dirt road.
Johnny is down below working...He never sees most of these until he sees the photos.

  This one was right next to a big castle tower thing, which was all bound up in cables and wire. I felt like I needed to get away from the chance it may crumble down on me.
  That's how I found this Lady. I was hiking up to see the tower, which was cool, but this is what was most interesting to me...I just loved her poppies!

The soft colors were so beautiful, too.

I took several shots of this side of her, as it was impossible to get around to the
other sides. Still, I love every photo I took here.

  I say 'Cheers' to these Ladies Of The Fields. They have been through it all, and they still hang in there with dignity.
  I will always honor them and seek them out.
  If only to let them know that they are still loved.....

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Friends And Flowers In The Garden


  Boy, we sure don't get many chances to entertain anymore.
  Why? I guess it's because we're often downright pooped out. How do people with kids, grandkids, animals, whatever it? I swear, I get home, and all I want to do is :

1) Put on my jammies
2) Pour myself a glass of wine
3) Kick Mr. J's ass in a game of my jammies
4) Call it a day

  So when we recently had a small but mighty group of pals over for an actual dinner, I was a bit out of practice.
  Thank god these pals are the kind that will love you forever, no matter what. (ummm...right, dear friends...? ehheeheheeh...eeeeeh)

  I put on my apron, and started a-cookin'.

Speaking of small but mighty...that's my kitchen.
Ain't no school like old school!

 I didn't take pictures of everything I made, because I was so busy doing, umm, must have been something..... because all I have is a shot of my famous roasted veg:

Red onions, rainbow carrots and fennel.
Lots of rosemary and good olive oil. And salt.

  Now I remember, we were busy making the table out in the 'Dining Pavillion' pretty.
  It's a tough job, but I was up for the task at hand!

We had to move the foosball table to make room for actual
dining in the Dining Pavillion...

The theme was Rosemary.
And don't you love my grandparents gold striped glasses?
Well, I do.

  We had some proseco and treats by the fire pit in the garden to get this lil' party started. So lucky that it was a nice evening, too.

They may look normal and nice, but when this group
gets together...mayhem can easily ensue.

While I was getting the first course -a beautiful caprese salad with burrata and my home grown tomatoes- started, the gang was enjoying the ambiance of the evening...

I love our funny 'Dining/Foosball' Pavillion...especially at night.

I'm ringing the dinner bell, but I'm being ignored,
damn it.

  So, anyway, we had big fun eating ourselves silly, and doing a pretty good job of drinking ourselves silly, too, so as usual, mayhem indeed ensue.

Normal after dinner chat..

...becomes a total fire danger situation.

Not really, it was just good, clean sparkler fun
for our pal's birthday.

Even though I didn't get many photos, I can say that we had a  grand time, ate pasta, drank wine..and had my homemade tiramisu for dessert.
  I need to get out of my routine and do this more often, ok?


  So that's the friends in the garden....And here are the flowers..
  Fall can be so nice here on the central coast, especially after weeks, even months of cold and grey fog.
  I was very good about feeding my flowering plants more this year. I've been a bit lax in that department, so it has been great to see the results, most notably with my remaining roses.
  Ive been using a product called 'MaxSea', which you add to water. The potted plants seem to really benefit, but I also use is as a foliar feeder.
  Plus, when you are mixing it, it has a very pleasant the ocean, in a good way.

I can't remember the names of my roses anymore...
I blame it on, ummm...I can't remember.

This is Nymphet! I got it!

This one is 'John' something or other.
Man, there was a day I could remember them all...sigh.
I like my sage shrub under there....

Sadly, a couple of days after this, we had a killer hot day
and these all got crispy.

Clematis 'Durandii'.
I love this one.

A last shot of old
'What's Her Name'.

  All of these particular plants are in large containers, so the MaxSea works super well. I give them a dose about every three weeks during growing season.

  It's good to remind myself just how rewarding it is to have Friends and Flowers in the garden.
  Can't wait for next time.