Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Here Comes the Sun

My habit in the morning is to drink my first cup of coffee while standing at the end of the peninsula counter in our kitchen, checking the status of the world on my laptop, and staring at the view toward the barn through our dining room window.  This morning, the sunshine and fall colors made the countryside especially nice to look at ... made even sweeter by the return of the sun after so much wind and rain from Sandy.

I have to get moving and take my shower ... I'm hitting the road later this morning, meeting Deborah at her new booth at the antique shop in Leesburg ... then we are going to go to Lucketts to see what we can find.  This is my last mental-health day until after our Greyhounds Rock benefit this weekend.  I intend to enjoy it to the fullest.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Safe and Warm.

Hurricane Sandy has moved on.  What a wild storm, with wind and rain and the potential for severe storm damage ... but we are fine.  The rain fell, and our house is dry.  The wind blew, and our trees and other property are undamaged.  We are grateful.

I spent part of today sorting through and organizing the items for the Silent Auction at our Greyhounds Rock Fredericksburg benefit this weekend.  Dorothy sat by and waited ... and jumped into the first available empty box.  What a silly kitty!

The pictures of the damage from the storm in New York and New Jersey are heartbreaking.  Please keep everyone up there in your prayers.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Homebound and Safe

The rains from Hurricane Sandy began overnight, and have been increasing in intensity as the center of the storm aims for landfall soon on the New Jersey coast.  Lots of rain has fallen, and the wind gusts have been in the 40 mph range so far (according to the TV weatherfolks).  We expect the wind gusts to increase through the evening.

As of now, we have power, our basement is dry (and I expect it to remain that way), and all of our trees are intact.  I don't want to jinx things by talking about it too much, tho.

Waiting for the worst of it to arrive, and planning for the possibility of being without power for the next few days, has been weird.  I have to stay inside, and I can't get involved in anything that involves electricity, because I don't want to be caught in the middle of something vital if the power goes out.  So I've been piddling around, doing whatever home-body stuff strikes my fancy.

I washed and dried a load of jeans.  Both The Husband and I wear jeans most of the time, and our hamper was pretty full, so it seemed prudent to make sure that we have clean jeans.

While I sorted the dirty jeans, I got the idea to sift through the rest of my jeans to purge any that don't fit right ... so I tried on every pair on the jeans shelf in my armoire ... and only one pair went into the Goodwill bin.  (This must mean that I've shed a few of the extra pounds that I've been carrying ... which is an unexpected bonus.)

When confronted with the possibility of a power outage, I always get the urge to cook.  This morning I put a pot roast into the crock pot for dinner.  The house smells lovely!


While I made a last trip to the store yesterday evening, I noticed that the bread aisle was totally wiped out ... good thing we have bread, or so I thought.  Discovered when I got home that we were nearly out of bread, and sandwiches are a lunch staple around here.  Have no fear, we still have power and I can bake my OWN bread ... which I did ... four loaves of white sandwich bread, so we should be good for a while.

I have had the TV on all day (which never happens on a normal day) so I can keep up with the progress of the storm.  All of our critters are napping their way through the day ... cloudy, rainy days are good for that.  We are fortunate that our dogs will go outside to do their 'business' when it's raining.  I feel for those of you who have dogs that won't. 

In the time it has taken for me to write this, the bread is done and out of the oven, and the pot roast is nearly ready ... comfort food on a rainy day ... Yum.

Here is the bread recipe I used:
4 cups all-purpose Flour
1 1/2 Tbsp. Yeast
2 Tbsp. Sugar
2 Tbsp. Oil
1 1/2 Tbsp. Salt
4 cups Warm Milk
5 to 6 more cups of Flour
Mix the first six ingredients in a large bowl (I use my Kitchenaid mixer with the dough hook attachment.)  Add 5 to 6 more cups of flour, one cup at a time, until you have a soft dough.  Cover the bowl and let rise in a warm place until the dough doubles in size.  (I put it into my over-the-range microwave for this, with the worklight turned on.)  Turn the dough onto a floured surface, knead gently.  Divide dough into 4 parts and place into loaf pans.  Let rise until the dough doubles.  Bake at 375 degrees for about 35 minutes, until bread is golden brown.
(5pm)  The folks on the TV news are saying that the eye of the storm is coming ashore in NJ, and we are getting another heavy band of rain here.  (I really feel for all of the news people who are stationed out in the storm.)
Our daughter works at the hospital Emergency Room, and she is a volunteer medic with the county Rescue Squad.  She is working a full day at the hospital today and tomorrow, and pulling full rescue shifts both nights, too.  She just checked in, saying that the ER has been busy today, but everything is fine so far.  Please keep her, and all the other first-responders everywhere, in your thoughts and prayers.
We are hunkered down for the evening, with a good dinner and a warm,dry place to sleep ... I feel blessed.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Battening the Hatches

Hurricane Sandy is coming.  The weatherfolks on TV and radio are warning that we can expect damaging winds and heavy rain Sunday night and into late Monday or early Tuesday. 

Hartwood is right in the center of the cone of probability on this diagram, just south of Washington, DC.

Tomorrow, I will finish putting away any items outside that can be picked up and damaged by the wind.  We are used to dealing with life in the dark after storms ... at least it's not air-conditioning season, so the house will stay comfortable.  Our generators are on the ready, and we will have power for our well pump, refrigeration, and a few lights and the DVD player. 
We will prepare whatever we can to the best of our ability.  It's the things that we cannot prepare for that worry me.  I pray that this storm spares our trees.
Edited on Saturday morning .... as of this morning's predictions, it looks as if the track of this storm is going to be a bit more toward the north, and we are now on the southern end of its projected path. 
I am still going to spend today securing things outside and preparing to be without power.  (We were dark for 5 days in July with the Derecho storm.)  Please keep the folks in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York, and New England in your prayers.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

A Whole Lot of Roses Goin' On

Right now, most of what I am doing during the day revolves around roses in one way or another.  It's always this way in the spring and fall.  I have spent two days this week (so far) removing six of the eight roses in the Rose Field that are infected with Rose Rosette Disease.

Another rosy chore this week is working on a program that I am presenting to the Richmond Rose Society on Sunday ... showing the members what I saw during my trip to the rose conference in Sacramento two weeks ago.  It has been wonderful reliving the trip, as I sort and format a select number of the 1200+ photos I took while I was there. 

In a throwback to the 'Flowers on Friday' feature that I used to do here, sit back and enjoy some glamor shots of some beautiful roses.
















Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Spending the Day with Mac

This is Mac.  He is a beautifully behaved almost-nine-year old gentleman who spent part of the day here on Sunday, on the way to his Forever Home in Florida.

He was recently returned to his adoption group in New York, for reasons I don't know ... doesn't matter why ... all that counts at this point is that he has a family waiting for him who is crazy about him and that can't wait till he gets there.
Mac was brought here on Sunday via a volunteer from Philadelphia.  My job was to keep him for a few hours, till it was time to leave for the meeting point near NC for the next leg of his trip.  He was nervous and paced a lot at first ... then I discovered that he was undoubtedly a sofa dog at his last house.  Once I invited him up onto the sofa with me, he was a happy, relaxed boy.
He got here just in time to hang out and watch the Redskins game with me on TV.
The cats each took turns carefully sneaking up to sniff the 'new guy'.  Mac didn't react at all to them, even when Maggie stepped over his head to get to the other side of me to lie down.  (didn't get a photo of that, darn it.)
This was Dorothy's turn.
Daniel and Ruby enjoyed having Mac around.  Mac was anxious to play, and he and my dogs did quite a bit of running and chasing in the back yard.
At 5:30, we loaded Mac and his stuff into the Jeep, and we headed out.  He quickly settled in and slept almost the whole two hours to the meeting point in Emporia.
It was dark when we met his next ride.  (I'm really glad this photo turned out so well ... Mac's white face and piercing gold eyes looked fantastic in the light of the truck stop lights.)
Mac spent Sunday night in NC, and his new mom drove there to pick him up and take him home on Monday. 
I am proud to be included among the small group of volunteeers who offers to transport these beautiful animals to their forever homes.  By doing this, I spend time with wonderful dogs like Mac ... and I get to know the other volunteers who also give their time to help ... thank you Tony, Bill, and Phyllis ... and I am sure Mac and Shellie thank you, too.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Blue Sky Day

After a dreary, rainy morning today, the sun came out at lunchtime and the sky cleared and it is absolutely a perfect fall day!  While I was outside playing with the dogs, I brought along my camera to capture a few of the things that caught my eye.
This is a view of our future studio/guesthouse/workshop building that I don't think I have shown you before.  I have such plans for this wonderful little building ... but I must wait till I get a few more things off my plate before I can even think of scheming its renovation.  In the meantime, it's great for storage.

Crepuscule is really showing off today!  I like this rose a lot, with its fragrant clusters of apricot-colored flowers.
We have already discussed my love affair with 'Mutabilis' many times.  It seems that the little flower bees concur ... they love it, too.
My "Yellow Seedling" keeps getting better and better.  It is four years old now, and about 4 feet high ... blooms all the time and is completely free of blackspot.  I have cuttings of it in my workshop propagation window, and I hope it will root so I have plants to share and test next spring. 
Not everything in the garden is sunshine and roses, though.  As I looked up from taking the photo of the Yellow Seedling, an errant patch of red growth caught my eye ... Rose Rosette Disease has come again this year.
It is perfectly normal for many roses to have bright red new growth.  Growth like this, which is rampant and abnormal for the variety, is a sign of a problem.  In this case, the problem is Rose Rosette Disease.
This is a cane on 'Marie Nabonnand'.  I also found disease symptoms on 'Alba Meideland', 'Climbing Pinkie' and "Puerto Rico".  Though I could remove the symptomatic canes and wait till next spring to see if the disease manifests itself on other parts of the affected plants, I won't do that in this case.  The roses that are affected are relatively common, and I will not risk any chance of transmission from them to the rest of the garden.
In 2011, I wrote about Rose Rosette Disease HERE.  The best online reference resource is Ann Peck's e-book, found HERE.  If you grow roses, read it and get educated.
Finding four roses in the garden in such dire straits put a definite damper on my fine fall mood.  I'm trying to be positive about this ... at least the affected roses aren't my rare ones.  I have to keep telling myself, RRD may mean the death of the infected rose, but it will not prevent me from growing and enjoying my roses.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Starting on My Newest Garden

According to my database, I have just over 300 roses that are still living in their temporary quarters in pots.  Some of these will be planted in existing gardens to replace roses that have died or that I will be removing.  Most of them, however, need to be planted in new gardens.  While I was on my trip to Sacramento, I had a brainstorm and I know exactly how I plan to deal with most of the remaining roses.

Behind my greenhouse and our garage is a relatively narrow space with good sunshine and an existing four-board fence.  I'm beginning to visualize this area as a long border, 10 feet wide and 200 feet long, with large-flowered once-blooming climbers on the fence itself, medium-sized roses in the center, and a row of miniatures at the front edge.  

In order to make this spot into a garden, I have to get rid of the existing grass and weeds.  Normally I do this with herbicide, but it's too late in the season for herbicide to be effective.  Plan B is to lay down black plastic and let the sun do the job for me without chemicals.

Here is the first sheet of plastic, 10 feet wide and 25 feet long.  (If you look carefully, you can see Daniel in the background hiding and eating grass.  I hollered at him to stop.)

Ruby sticks close by ... taking her her job as quality control inspector very seriously.

Here it is with two sheets of plastic, all weighted down at the corners and edges with concrete blocks, scrap boards, and the tops of a few nursery benches.  I don't want the wind to blow it away.

This was the easy part.  Now I have some crap to clear out of the way (piles of landscape edging, timbers, bricks, pots, etc.), and I will continue my march down the fence laying plastic and preparing the bed.  Unlike my idea for the Labyrinth garden, which I abandoned because it's truly too far from the house, I fully intend to get this one finished ... I have to, the roses in pots are depending on me.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Packing to Go Home

Today is my last day in Sacramento.  This trip has been filled with friends and gardens, and I am so glad that I came here.  I can't wait to sort through my photos to show you everything that I've been up to for the past four days.

I knew before I left home that I would certainly be bringing roses back with me ... since part of the conference activities were a rose sale and a rare rose auction ... so I had to make plans for how to get the roses back to Virginia.  I included a cardboard box and a roll of packaging tape among the items in my suitcase, and I can mail the roses home. 

A hotel room has limited space to work preparing pots of roses for shipment.  I watered the roses last night, and left them to drain in the bathtub.  This morning, I used the toilet lid as a work surface to tie them into plastic bags.

The five roses I bought are:
"Elisabeth's Red China"
"Probably Bloomfield Abundance"
(highlighted names are links that will take you to photos and descriptions of the rose on Help Me Find.)
Once the roses were bagged, there was little risk of spilling dirt on the hotel's carpeting, and I moved out into another part of the room to finish the job.  The luggage stand was a good place to hold the box while I was securing four of my roses.  They fit inside there perfectly ... they are securely held in place by the tape over the box flaps.  As long as the roses don't move inside the box, they will arrive at their new home in good condition.  (Any of you who bought roses from my nursery will recognize this packing job.)
The box I brought with me holds four roses, which was the maximum number I intended to buy ... but the first photo shows that I actually bought FIVE roses ... my, what a surprise ... Connie bought more roses than she intended to.  (insert uncontrollable giggling here)  I figured I could get another box for the fifth rose while I was at the Post Office, but fate intervened.  As I left the hotel breakfast area heading back to my room earlier this morning, I found a discarded Lands' End box sitting beside the trash can!
I have a few more things that I can put in the second box, to lessen the chance that my suitcase will be overweight, and I will tape it closed right before I leave for the Post Office.
Among my other stops today will be a final stroll through the beautiful rose garden at the Sacramento City Cemetery ... three acres of magic!  To give you a taste of the place, click HERE to see a three-minute preview of a 30-minute professionally-produced documentary about the Historic Rose Garden ... prepare to be blown away.
I fly out later this evening, and I take with me the memories of a very special conference, and new and renewed friendships with fellow rose lovers.  What a fantastic trip this has been ... but I can't wait to be home.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

On The Road Again

I am attending a fantastic conference in California to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the historic rose garden at the Sacramento Old City Cemetery.  My husband tells me, when I do things like this, that I'm "conferring with my brother wizards".

I'm so excited to be here!!
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