Friday, March 16, 2012

Unicorns and Lecherchauns

Happy St. Patrick’s Day everyone! This is one of those holidays that has been grossly skewed over the years. It’s the day when, suddenly, everyone is Irish: “Luck o’ the Irish”. You’d better have some green on, too: “Wearin’ o’ the Green”. If you live in a medium- or large-sized town, there may be an Irish festival, complete with music, dancing, beer, corned beef and cabbage. There may even be a 5k or 10k foot race or a parade! Above all, much of the population will use St. Patrick’s Day as yet another excuse to get drunk.

So what was St. Patrick’s Day originally? Here’s some data from and the always-accurate (ha ha!) Wikipedia:
- It is the anniversary of the death of St. Patrick (who was born in Britain).
- It was originally a religious occasion.
- The first St. Patrick’s Day parade was held in New York in 1762.
- Some cities have their own unique ways of celebrating St. Patrick’s Day. For example, Chicago dyes the Chicago River temporarily green.
- St. Patrick’s Day parades aren't just held in Ireland and the UK, they are also held around the world, including the US, Canada, Australia and Japan.
- Up until the 1970’s, pubs were closed on March 17.
- The color originally associated with St. Patrick was blue.

Whether you are Irish or not, I wish you a Happy St. Patrick’s Day! In honor of St. Patrick and my Irish roots, I will raise my glass of Guinness and sing the “Unicorn Song”. Don’t forget to put the glass on your head at the appropriate moment…. Oh, and don’t mix up your cats and rats.;-)

Here’s the sober version:

Here's a drunk version:

Ladies, if you participate in a drunk version, watch out for those lecherchauns who want to see your pot o' gold at the end of their rainbow. Oh, and if you hear even one version of "Danny Boy", run for the hills!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Garden Blogger Bud Day - March

Yes, that's right: I renamed it for the month! That's because there isn't much is the way of blooms in my yard. It was tempting to rename it "Signs of Life Month". Anyway, I won't post pictures of all the buds in my yard, just some that I like for various reasons. Here we go!

Here's what I consider to be one of the earliest and cheeriest signs of Spring (aside from daffodils): forsythia. Around here, forsythia grows vigorously in yards, natural borders and woodlands.

Here is the base of a giant gypsophilia (Crambe cordifolia). These purple buds will eventually grow into green leaves about two feet in diameter. From the center, a stalk about five feet tall laden with little blooms will arise.

Here is a peony taken from my parent's yard. I may need to see if they need any help removing more.  This will eventually have magenta blooms. I like the color and texture of the buds.

This bud probably excites me the most, because it's from my sole tree peony. It's the most expensive plant in my garden, and I'm always afraid I will lose it to a hard winter. Maybe it will finally bloom this year....

The climbing hydrangea is beginning to bud, too. I just thought the bud was a pretty shape. I love this plant. It climbs up the side of a storage area and hides our junk from the neighbors. The blooms are pretty, too.

Here is an unusual view you may not recognize. It is a sword fern. Although I do not normally cut them all the way down, I had to this year due to storm damage. The fronds look like they are all curled up in a nest.

Of note is that, as far as I can tell, I did not lose any plants to winter conditions this year! That has got to be a first. Plus, for the first time, all four clematis I planted last year made it through the winter as well. I can't tell you how many clematis plants I've lost....

Happy early Spring, everyone!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Hugo (no spoilers)

I rarely watch movies, but DH recently brought home “Hugo”. Prior to watching it, I knew very little about it except that it had won numerous awards and had received good reviews. I figured it would be an uplifting story about a little boy. Well, I was wrong. Although the little boy (Hugo) was involved with most aspects of the story, the movie itself was not solely about him. The story was not just his that we were watching. Little did I know that the background story (which ended up becoming the foreground story) was based on someone who really existed. I had not heard of the man before, but now I know a lot about him and how he contributed to things that we see today. That said, some portions of the movie were predictable.

One of the big raves about “Hugo” was about its visual effects. The story was kind of dark, but the movie was visually dark, too. The few times Hugo goes outside, it’s usually at night. He lives in a Parisian train station (think coal-burning steam trains) and works behind the scenes (lots of industrial-type scenery). The story takes place in 1931, so it’s the era of the Great Depression, between WWI and WWII. There are also elements of orphans/orphanages and references to WWI. Much of the movie is given to a past life of success and an unfulfilled, depressing current life. I thought the movie made very effective use of lighting.

I thought the actors were good, too. The young boy who played Hugo got a lot of mileage out of his big, blue eyes. It was Ben Kingsley who I enjoyed the most, although I couldn’t help but notice a resemblance to Patrick Stewart.

All in all, I would recommend this movie.  The story is good and is well told. Besides, DH is enjoying it even more now that he’s watching it in his 3-D glasses!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Past Its Prime

This week on Written, Inc., it's "Past It's Prime" week.  Here's my submission, from Frank Lloyd Wright's "Taliesin West" in Arizona:
The architecture of Taliesin West is, of course, quirky, however the Arizona sun really bakes any paint or wood.  This photo might be good as a jigsaw puzzle!  What do you think?