Monday, October 27, 2014

The Last of Their Kind?


 When I saw this Monarch butterfly at the garden in Green Hills, I took these photos, for the way the Sixth Great Extinction is progressing, there may be no monarchs next year. I have seen only three this year, whereas ten years ago as I drove over the causeway from the mainland to St. George Island ,Florida, I saw thousands drifting out over the bridge and the sea.











Saturday, October 25, 2014

"My Old Dexterities in Witchery Gone-"

"And nothing left for Love to look upon".

So wrote Thomas Hardy in his poem "She, To Him" Part 111.

Time has robbed the woman speaking in this poem. She has grown old and lost her claim to the attentions of men. The "witchery" that charmed is gone. Hers is the fate of women whose currency, whose capital, is their face and figure.

This, and several other poems came to mind when I saw the stories and photos of the actress Renee Zellweiger, who had such radical plastic surgery that she now looks like someone headed into Witness Protection. Trying to stay youthful  to stay employable, she has now achieved neither. Had she accepted the inevitable, she might have become a character actress. Instead she can join the dozens of actresses of indeterminate age who compete to play district attorneys and coroners on TV crime shows.

Growing old is a pain to any woman. Here is the poet Louise Bogan. The poem is "The Crows"., and these are the first two stanzas.


"The woman who has grown old

And knows desire must die

Yet turns to love again

Hears the crows' cry.



She is a stem long hardened

A weed that no scythe mows

The heart's laughter will be to her

The crying of the crows,"



Robert Frost is no more cheerful, and in his poem "Provide, Provide", describes the afflictions of aging for both men and women-

"The witch that came(the withered hag)

To wash the steps with pail and rag

Was once the beauty Abishag.



The picture pride of Hollywood.

Too many fall from great and good

For you to doubt the likelihood."


The fall may not be so steep for those of us more ordinary,who have been spared celebrity or flagrant romance in our youth. The best we can say about our looks is they never counted for much, yet we got by without them.

At 64, I care little for how my face and neck look or that I am a size 14 aiming for a 16. I am happy that I can still walk and see and work.

Youth was a mask, and I am glad to have it off.

Now if I could just get rid of the pain in my hip that comes when I sit down to write.
But having no illusions, I will just have to endure it, and count my blessings-












Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Night Blooming Cereus

Though the cereus is sometimes ever blooming, mine blooms in autumn. The blossoms, that mimic the lotus, last only 12 hours over night, and I was lucky to get these photos.

When frost comes, it comes inside to sulk until spring. I bought mine from Logee's Greenhouses.

It is a big plant, and can throw out 6 foot canes, though it can be tamed with shears. I have seen pictures of it used in bedding schemes, but of course that was in the tropics.

It is very fragrant!












Monday, October 13, 2014

Scripted

Anyone who watched the fine old western "Lonesome Dove" might remember the scene when Captain Gus, peeved by a slow and surly barkeep, smashes the barkeep's nose into the counter declaring that neither he, Captain Gus, nor his partner Captain Call,  would ever put up with "dawdling service".

It seems that Americans will not put up with it either, which is why American companies now throw their dollars at the unholy Studer Group and others of its ilk, who in the words of a member of Nurses United, want to turn even hospitals "into Disneyland".


These days, at least in this city, the hospitality script reigns, and a consumer who wants fawning service can find it everywhere that there are frightened employees who fear for their job and health insurance should they fail at reciting the scripts and be labelled  "Low Performers", whose next job will be unemployment.

I am fortunate indeed that I work at the Little Big House. The service mentality has yet to infect corrections, whose clientele are community despised ones that citizens would rather forget. I am proud to say that in Medical Services at the House, the inmates are treated respectfully and fairly. This may be good manners or compassion on the part of Medical, or it may be enlightened self-interest, for no one wants an inmate filing grievances or lawsuits against them, and no one wants  inmates with long memories (which means most of them) coming looking for that nurse or doctor after that prisoner gets parole, or has his sentence "flatten out" (as we say in the business).


I recently paid visits to two businesses I cannot avoid. One was my bank, the other was one of the better grocery stores. Both were Emporiums of Super Scripting.

I went to the bank to buy a cashier's check, which is the way I have to pay my rent when Social Security comes in two days after the rent is due.

The bank was having a slow morning, which gave its employees a desperate and hungry look. As I walked in they lined up as though Queen Elizabeth had just walked in. On every side I was greeted with lots of smiling and  and "Good Mornings". One teller told me she always enjoyed seeing me, and I believed this since the bank charges me 10 bucks for the check, and I, being in a perpetual state of financial uncertainty, buy them often. Another admired my hat. When the first teller's computer balked, she apologized  far too much as I went over to a second teller. As far as I was concerned, the teller need not have apologized. It is unseemly for any human to apologize for an unruly and malicious machine.

Check in hand, I walked out through the same phalanx of managers and greeters, all hoping my day would be stupendous, and all thanking me for choosing them for all my banking needs.

I needed some groceries next, and down the road I went to the Smiley Grocery, where I met the same smiley workforce. If anyone's cat had just died, if their husband had left them, or if the IRS was pursuing them to the very gates of Hell , it did not show. One dour look, one hint of indifference might mean no job and no 300 dollar asthma inhaler for their child.

At the Really Big Grocery, right in the heart of Bellevue, when one asks where the store has hidden the AA batteries, the stocker will tell you what aisle they are in. At the Smiley Grocery they will ask about your day as they lead you by the hand to the very place where the batteries live.  At every turn you will be greeted by relentless cheerfulness, even if you insist on pushing your cart to the truck yourself.

To give credit where it is due, I remember a day two summers ago,after I was injured in a fall and had two black eyes. I was at the Smiley Grocery, and could not see the pay swiper buttons with the sunglasses I had on. A most courteous and genuine store manager did the button punching for me.
I still think he was one of Nature's Nobleman.

Was all this graciousness faux?

Probably not, since this is Nashville. Since this is the South, a place where good manners still persist.
And I do appreciate someone taking me to find the batteries, even if the package lies and says they are Max and may last up to ten years.

So the next time you yearn for the bad old days of lousy customer service and unscripted employees with bad attitudes just  call the Big Monopoly Cable Company. They will treat you like dirt every time. I guarantee it!


A Disclaimer. My cable company is now U-verse, and I like them. If you have problems they will send over a Millennial whiz kid who will politely arrive on time, and fix what needs to be fixed.

Was the young male Millennial going by a script?

Who cares?At least I could blog again and watch "The Blacklist".





Saturday, October 11, 2014

An Autumn Garden

Here are some photos I took this morning at the garden in Green Hills that I plant and take care of. I thought even non-gardeners might enjoy them- Click on photo to enlarge.


























I think that the leaves that have fallen onto the garden make the flower beds look more beautiful.

The first photo is of a native euonymus with very colorful common names such as "Wahoo" and "Hearts a"bustin".

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Little Visitors

A few months back I walked into my bathroom, and discovered that I was not alone.

Now sometimes when I go in there, I am not alone because my Shih Tzu follows me in. He does that when he thinks we are getting ready to get in the car and go for a walk, or, as he did last night, he thinks cowering in the bathtub is the remedy for high winds, big rain, and thunder and lightning.

But my visitor this summer was a six inch long adolescent Six Lined Skink.

A young skink is the Fred Astaire of lizards, so elegant in his pin-striped reptile suit with his flashy bright blue tail. All he lacks is tap dancing shoes and a top hat.

But alas, this youthful charm does not last, and too soon he grows fat and brown orange and ordinary.
His decline mirrors our own.

At the time I assumed the lizard had ridden in in the dirt of a flower pot, since I had cuttings all over the table near my south window. I chased him into a bucket, and I let him go out in some mulch.

I thought no more of it.

Until two days ago, when I again had reptilian company. This time my visitor was of the serpent persuasion- a foot long slim- as- a- pencil green snake, who was contemplating the wrong turn that brought him out onto linoleum between the toilet and the bathtub.

Now this snake was lucky, as I have always liked snakes and have showed them courtesy. Another tenant would have called the office in hysterics or stomped him flat.

I tried to guide him into a box, but he did not fall for it.

I decided to sweep him gently outside using a broom, but he did not cooperate.

It was not as though he was capable of a speedy escape, for I learned that evolution did not prepare green snakes for gaining traction on linoleum. For every five inches I moved him he spun his scales and fell three inches back.

Then he saw his chance, and into a chink under the bathroom sink cupboard he went, and I am sure it was this fissure that he came in through when he decided to visit.

I wish him well. May he find the worm colony of his dreams, and eat himself full.

But now when I go into that room, the lights go on and I inspect the area fully .

I do not want slithery surprise in the dark!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

From The Tee-Tiny Experimental Kitchen- Succotash with Buttermilk and Ham



If there is any dish I remember from my youth with horror it would be succotash. I do not remember when I first met it, though the hospital cafeteria at the old Mary Hitchcock would be a good bet.
Awful, awful, and more awful.

Yet this past Friday I bought a pound bag of fresh Tennessee grown lima beans at the farmer's market at the Methodist Church on Old Harding Pike.

What a difference forty years can make in our perspective!

I boiled the beans till tender in chicken broth. I sauteed a large white onion in a mixture of 1/3 stick butter and a heaping tablespoon of lard until the onion was tender and sweet. I added the drained beans and a 15 oz can of creamed corn( I did not have fresh or canned plain corn kernels). I added a little sea salt to taste, then poured in 1/3 cup of buttermilk. After all why bore your taste buds with plain cream when you can wake them up with buttermilk! Then I tossed in a cup of diced up fully cooked honey ham.

Oh what a happy Thanksgiving side dish this would be, served up in a beautiful Hall pottery bowl!

Delicious.

I am certain frozen lima beans would work, and that plain corn kernels would be acceptable, but I think the creamed corn adds something special-