Flower of the Day: Buddleia

Mrs Angloswiss angloswiss showed us her lovely pink buddleia bush yesterday; today I show you the magenta one in our back jungle. We were eating lunch outside – not as easy as all that since we only have a small foot-high table outdoors, which means balancing trays on our laps.  And the folding chairs are a challenge too; one can easily tip backwards and end up with one’s head in the lavender bush. This can be an embarrassment for the victim, but great amusement to the rest of us, once we realise nobody is hurt.

When I took the photos above I realised there was a visitor on one so here it is enlarged:

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The bees love the lavender, too, when nobody is falling into it.

We share this fence with next door’s creeper and grapevine; there are at least two bunches on our side. They ripen into dark purple wine grapes that I make into jelly. I have permission to gather crab apples from the tree that hangs over the wall at No.6, though I must warn the elderly mother before I go gathering. No strawberries for us, this year, as the beetles get them before we do, and we only had 4 plums from the huge prunus out front; the blackbird scavenged them before we got here. But there will still be bounty from the garden; isn’t it lovely to pick your own.

While we’re in Europe I will miss the figs, grapes and most of the pomegranates in our garden back home, and hope that Taylor is enjoying them. Blueberries and corn are growing there too – the blueberry plants bought from a catalogue and planted in colorful Spanish pots on the patio, the corn a surprise, or what our NM gardener calls ‘volunteers.’ Last year I tossed some corn, beans and cilantro seeds we’d been given under the desert willow and thought nothing of it. A few straggly cilantro plants appeared; not enough to do anything with, but nothing else. Until this spring when suddenly half a dozen corn plants sprang up, and up, and up; when we left they were knee high. I didn’t mean to be a farmer, but heck, if something good grows, let it. We have had squash and even a melon grow out of the compost heap. Taylor is looking after the house and garden and sends bulletins. So we’ll enjoy the Albuquerque produce vicariously.

 

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The Daily Post – Carefree

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I was feeling very carefree as I had no washing to do. Not wanting to be thought lazy, and to take advantage of the hot, sunny weather, I hung out the winter blankets to air.

The ‘umbrella’ clothesline is wonderful; I have a green cover that fits over it when closed up. The only problem is if I put it away in the shed, the metal pipe it fits into gets lost in the grass; we have to get down on our hands and knees feeling for it. I did try upending a small plastic bottle in it, but the gardener always threw it away when she mowed the lawn. Luckily the cover blends in very well with the backyard jungle.

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We have another clothesline outside an upstairs window. I would never have thought of that but my son saw it in Europe and put it up here in London. This is tremendously useful for hanging king-sized sheets, large towels, and duvet covers. They hang down past the living room sliding doors and flap away in the breeze. This makes them dry very fast and they never need ironing. For some reason I can’t fathom – though I’m grateful for it – they don’t seem to get at all dirty.

Except where I pegged them on the line, which was many years old; you know how plastic gets covered with sticky dirt that won’t wash off. Or if it does come cleaner, it stays sticky. Ugh.

Anyway, I bought some lovely green line to replace the old one, and it has been sitting on the windowsill ever since; for at least a couple of years. I keep meaning to ask someone to replace the old line but somehow it never gets done.

Until today. Which is why I am now feeling extremely carefree and rather proud of myself. I replaced the line myself. As I had to hang out the spare room windows to reach the pulleys at each end, my PA shouted up to me”Don’t fall out!” and then he left to run errands. No help, he.

These lines have a multi-wire core and it took me quite a while to cut through the old one. I thought the new line which is a bit thinner would be a cinch, but no, I had to hack at it too for quite a while before I could cut the required length. There was also a bit of a tussle to get the stiff line around the pulleys at each end, but once through I only had to fix the join.

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There is a wonderful little tool which has a ring at one end and a hook at the other. They screw in and out of a central holder. You have to tie one end of the line into the ring, and make a loop at the other end. Then comes the fun part. I tried screwing one end at a time but it simply unscrewed itself. And in order to get it taut enough, I had to shorten the ends and then try to hook them together. This took many tries but I finally got to where they were both at the right distance.

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And suddenly the lightbulb went off! Turn the holder and both ends will be moved together simultaneously. And it worked!

So now we have a new line and I am feeling very carefree, until the next job looms.

 

Stan’s Smoking Gun

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STAN’S SMOKING GUN – From a shotgun to a pipe collection

When he was a boy, Stanley was given a double-barreled shotgun. He was living in the Cajon Valley, outside San Diego, California where boys had guns to shoot rattlesnakes and jack rabbits, but Stanley   didn’t like the noise it made so his Uncle Jack Doughty swopped it for a Meerschaum pipe. It was very handsome with a delicately carved horse’s head. I can’t remember whether it was in a case, but carved Meerschaum pipes often come in their own padded cases. [See: ‘Antique Collectible Tobacco Pipes’ on e-Bay]

Around age 25, Stan started smoking cigarettes. Until they became too expensive, he preferred Benson & Hedges’ Turkish cigarettes called Aristides. Not only an impressive name, but the effect on Stan was also impressive. He said: When I inhaled them, my finger tips and my toes would tingle.

When that sensation faded and smoking became “just a habit” he tried cigars and finally a pipe. The photo shows him in the 20s or early 30s with his pipe. We found this picture when I was with my brother in Ireland. I love the smile.

I remember my father smoking a pipe, and my mother Molly, did, too. Hers was a small ebony pipe with a diamond set into the side. Sadly it was stolen with her green and black bakelite cigarette holder and all her jewellery when she was on holiday after my father died.

In the early 30s on the way to visiting friends in Shropshire, the Watkinses bought a second-hand copy of Alfred Dunhill’s “The Pipe Book.” Stan was fascinated. Their friend said: “Why don’t you collect pipes?” To start them off he gave Stan two: a Chinese water pipe, and the other was a Broseley clay pipe found in the foundations of the house. Those simple moulded pipes were made as early as the 16th century and up into the 20th.

On the way back to London Molly & Stan stopped at every junk shop and “arrived home with 33 pieces as the nucleus of the collection.” So the collection began – though technically the first pipe was the Meerschaum inherited from Stan’s uncle.

Friends from abroad sent pipes to Stanley, knowing of his collection, and his company had a superior display chest of drawers made as a gift wherein the pipes were laid on padding under glass, just like in a museum. We loved to slide the shallow drawers open to show our friends the treasures.

After Stan’s death, nearly five hundred assorted pipes and smoking paraphernalia were sold at Sotheby’s Auction. Here’s a page from the catalogue showing some of the beautiful coiled glass pipes. They are truly remarkable, though one can’t really imagine them being used. Not even with pot. Although the collection had opium pipes, this was before the marijuana phase, but when I Googled ‘glass smoking pipes’ bongs were the only things I could find.

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Stan stopped smoking when he had a peptic ulcer and never went back. Of his four children only two ever smoked. But we each chose a favorite pipe to keep before they were sold. I cannot find mine but I remember it well. It was a cigarette holder I think, because it was a small Y shaped tube that had a tiny hole in one side; when you peered into it, there was a photo of The Three Graces, nude of course. Now that I live in the Southwest, I almost wish I took the Indian pipestone bowl.

I hope the people who bought the pipes are enjoying the results of my father not liking the noise of a shotgun.