Friday, December 24, 2021

Trellis Overboard!

 I'm sure a few of you caught the national news about the little blow that swept through Kansas and Nebraska on December 15th.  This was my radar picture at 5:35 p.m. as it was about peak, just about an hour after the storm ahead of it, the latter accompanied by a tornado warning for Manhattan.  I've seen a lot of radar pictures over my years in Manhattan, but that long very narrow rain front stretching from northern Oklahoma into South Dakota and the wind following it was unique.  And scary.

I'm also sure a few of you are wondering what this has to do with ProfessorRoush's garden?   There seemed, on the surface, to be little damage from the 70-80mph sustained winds both here at home and in Manhattan, primarily lots of small limbs down and lots of broken pieces of roof shingles laying around here and there.   But, when it warmed up a few days after the storm, when I got out and actually wandered around the garden, I saw that it had taken down my long-standing wisteria trellis.   I know this thing was old, but breaking off 4 six-inch treated posts that were cemented in the ground was not a trivial piece of damage.   Thankfully, I had already taken down the Purple Martin houses earlier this fall or they would have been in Missouri, or the Atlantic ocean.

I took this damage casually with a shrug of my shoulders, but already lamenting what will surely be an abbreviated wisteria showing this spring.   To disentangle this maze of vines will be impossible, so I'll be forced to merely chop the wisteria vines wherever they enter the trellis.  I'll undoubtedly end up with a 5-foot tall pair of wisteria's, and I'll have to decide about building another trellis.  This one was placed to be a "gateway" into or out of the back area of the garden and I've gotten used to its presence so I'll probably do something there.   And also the wisteria have to have something to grow on.   Normally, I'd put the cleanup off until spring, but since it is sunny and supposed to reach 65ºF this Christmas Eve afternoon, I can already hear it calling me.

Here is a picture of the trellis in its better days, already old in this 2019 blog post it came from, but certainly functional and beautiful in a light-lavender sort of way.   I thought the frame was unbreakable, but clearly I was flat-wind wrong.  The lattice-work was decaying when this picture was taken and I think I replaced it that year, but the posts, in cement, should not have broken down.  Or so I believed.

ProfessorRoush will have to up his engineering game for the next trellis.   I'm thinking maybe steel I-beams extending down into the bedrock might actually have a chance at standing longer than a decade?

Token poinsettia picture to wish everyone holiday cheer!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone!

Sunday, December 19, 2021

Jewels Outside & Within

 ProfessorRoush woke up to a thanks-filled morning after a cold night on the prairie covered the grass with a heavy frost, bejeweling it with ice for the sun to caress.   I know they may be difficult to see in the photograph below, but when I took the picture, the sun, already well above rising, was reflected in little starry points all over the grass, gleaming diamonds among the frosted chaff. The tans, umbers, ochers and reds of last season's grasses all provide a proper blasé background for the new jewels among it.

I awoke to the ice jewels outside and to the soul-filling contrast of all the colors in our decorated house, the reds and greens of Christmas within at odds with the blander world normal of the prairie outside.   I'm thankful for many jewels within the house as well, the carefully chosen emblems of the holiday artfully arranged by Mrs. ProfessorRoush.   This year, this fake poinsettia wreath magically popped up from somewhere into our living room near the TV, and it brings me joy daily with its cheery welcome from the wall.  

I found joy myself recently, and added it to the house, this wooden painted snowman purchased on a recent impulse at a hardware store.  There have been occasions in life, like this one, where I've seen something and inexplicably want to own it, instantly coveting some simple thing whose beauty may only be seen by me and overlooked by others.   I've lived long enough now to listen to these urges, these desires, which burn like fire if unfilled.   Times were, my will always strong, I resisted them, parsimonious to a fault, foolish in my frugalness, only to later rue and regret the lost chance.   Today, with more money available above the necessities and niceties of life, I often give in, collecting joyful things in a twisted version of Marie Kondo's question that she originally asked to help us simplify life, "Does it spark joy?"    Yes, this extravagant $25.00 snowman, added now to our mantle, brings me joy, even when I can't explain it.

And I feel joy and thankfulness also for the half-dozen Christmas cacti that adorn our south windows.   I've purchased them over the years and all have been in bloom recently, each a unique color, bright red, white, pink, fuchsia, yellow, and orange represented in their delicate and fleeting beauty.   The sun outside catches them in the morning, gloried like the fuchsia-touched blossom at the top of this blog, yet other jewels in my world.   Some mornings, mornings like this one, I can scarcely catch my breath at the beauty of the world, so many jewels that life gives us each day.

Sunday, December 12, 2021

Sad Houses

 ProfessorRoush has had quite the week;  a week that seems to be continuing even as I write.  

It all started last Sunday.   My intention that day was to get a number of things done around home, but most of the afternoon got delayed when Mrs. ProfessorRoush's car got two flat tires, one of which disintegrated before we could get to an air pump.   But I did get out for my main goal and cleaned out all the bluebird boxes while the weather was good.   One bad surprise; this bluebird box with 3 sweet little light blue eggs present.   These weren't a new brood out of season, these were very light, dried out, old eggs that didn't make it to hatch.  I'm guessing Mama Bluebird had an accident and never returned to care for them.   So sad.  And my bluebird houses didn't seem to do as well this year.   Eight bluebird nests for over 20 boxes is way under normal.  

Even sadder, one of the first year DVM students was killed last weekend, hit by a vehicle after she witnessed a rollover accident and tried to help; a true Good Samaritan lost to the world.   I got the call of hospital personnel looking for emergency numbers for her parents shortly after I finished the Bluebird Trail.   There are some things that happen in this life that I can't explain or understand and never will.  What a loss to her family and to her classmates and to all the pets she would have helped.

Things were looking up today as we put the house back in order this morning after our kitchen and sunroom were painted.   Mrs. ProfessorRoush is in the kitchen making caramels as we speak and I'm anticipating running out into the sunshine soon on this warm, breezy afternoon.   But then, as I started to write, I got a text that a young child of the host of our work Christmas party started a fever this morning and tested COVID positive.   Our entire surgery service was there for three hours last night, huddled in a small kitchen together.  Lots of COVID boosters are about to get tested for efficacy!

So, if I'm gloomy today and not my usual positive gardening influence, I'd like to make a formal apology and leave you with this picture of the ProfessorRoush home abode from the far end of the pasture; a view of the dry and brown back garden and prairie and of the back of the house from a vantage that I seldom get to see.   Those hills are too much to walk regularly without the excuse to tend to the BlueBird Trail.  


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