Saturday, February 28, 2009

Passionate about Peonies

Originally uploaded by thyme2003
This morning I counted 14 peony shoots off of 12 bulbs! Only 3 of the 12 bulbs actually have labels so most of these shoots are "unknown" varieties. The Karl Rosenfeld has 2 shoots and the Bowl of Beauty has 1. It's my 5th year trying to grow these things. I know, I'm stubborn.
The first 2 years nothing happened at all - the bare roots that I transplanted from Washington state just turned to white powder. Bad, very bad. Then I bought a bag of bare roots at Costco and those came up but immediately caught some kind of fungal bug and shriveled up. 

So went year 3. Last year, one set actually sent up 3 tentative branches and delivered one single petaled blossom. (Photo below) Whew!

This past fall, with renewed determination, I read exactly how to plant these according to the Bulbs, Corms and Tubers chapter in my 1947 edition of The Complete Book of Garden Magic (where I pressed the evidence of my complete lack of restraint with respect to this plant - the page of peonies from Territorial Seed catalog). I figure they probably know how to do this.

In the bottom half of the pot fill 20% manure, 3 handfuls wood ashes, 2 of course raw bone and 1 of lime to prepare the lower soil for future growth. In the top half, 1 handful bone meal, 1 of lime and 20% rotted peat. Check.

After planting them 2" deep I found out that for cold climates you should set the eyes 2" deep and for warmer (mine) only 1" deep. Uncheck.  We'll see what the balance holds.

The wife of a friend of my husband's turned me on to Gilbert H. Wild and Son - "America's Largest Grower of Daylilies, Iris and Peonies"...They list 47 varieties and have grown peonies for 124 years. I'm keeping them in mind for next year!


This is a test post from flickr, a fancy photo sharing thing.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

From Kitsch to Haute in One Day: Part 2

Moving from kitsch to haute, the manager at Cielo Home had recommended that, if we like smells, we should visit The Perfume House.  She warned us that it looked like a normal wood sided residential house on the outside but on the inside, it was special.  She was right!

Chris Tsefalas and his wife of 57 years have amassed the "world's largest real fragrance collection" in the 3 front rooms of a home.  And they're not kidding. I've been looking on the internet for 2 years for Guerlain's Acqua Allegoria Flora Neroli and they had it! Chris's wife introduced us to a small part of their collected canon - and we winnowed our favorites down to Cologne Germany's 4711 crisp clean fragrance, Serge Lutens line, Caron's Yatagan, Sacre and Un Trois Homme. I'm delighted with our visit because it gave me a chance to work on my New Year's resolution to"smell better."

The whole time, Chris, a dapper 80 year old,  was in deep consultation with a man in chef's attire and woman about perfume, what to wear, how it smells, why to chose it, how he got here.  

We finished the day with espresso and nutella crepe at Cafe de Machin (Cafe of That Guy), a perfect mashup of both high French culture and Eurail pass fare.  As we walked back to the car, we peeked in the windows at the Perfume House to see the chef's hat and companion sitting on the sofa, heads nodding, Chris's hands moving in illustration. 

From Kitsch to Haute in One Day: Part 1

Niche culture is so alive and well in Portland, Oregon that in 1 day you can leap from kitsch to haute and back again in both food and fun.  

We started the day with solid farm fed fare of corned beef hash and an applewood smoked bacon and egg scramble at the Everett Street Bistro, a European charcuterie.  Then we headed across the river to the Velveteria, the Museum of Velvet Paintings. 

A labor of love for Caren and Carl, $5 per person gets you in to see 170 paintings.  In the main room, the paintings are grouped by subject with a section for Presidents including Obama, famous African Americans including Malcolm X,  country singers (3 of Willie Nelson), sci fi (William Shatner and ET), and yes, 1 unicorn. There's a separate room complete with leopard print rug and leopard print upholstered bench to grace the velvet paintings of unclad gravity-defying ladies.  Lastly, the Black Lite room.  Honestly, the circles on the carpeting were glowing so brightly I don't remember what was on the walls!

This place just goes to show you that if Caren can and wants to do this after 30 years of being an RN, really, anything is possible.

Vat are you Sinking About?

I've been gone, rather not gone, but as good as gone for almost 10 days. Thankfully, the main cause is not a wreck or a serious illness but a failed modem which is replaced after many phone calls to the ISP and much waiting.  Anyway, I apologize for the unpredictable delay.  Let's begin anew.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Speedo The Aqua Jogger

Jesus walked on water.  And I went aqua jogging today.  ~ Me

Call me a large land mammal but I'm not a swimmer....or so I thought.

I have my mom to thank for being able to swim.  She took me to swimming lessons where I learned the crawl, the sidestroke, the breastroke and back stroke. Never did parse the butterfly. 

Besides the ability to swim, all I remember is the snack bar, treading water, sitting on the bottom of the pool staring at the smooth sky and, once on the surface, being blinded by sun glinting off the rippled water, but these are enough to sustain me through 50 minutes of swimming....and a new stroke....aqua jogging.

Running has been off limits for the past month due to high hamstring bursitis. Not wanting my cardio to go in a hole, I decided to try water workouts even though I hadn't swum in decades and my bathing suits, appropriate for the bodybuilding contexts for which they were purchased, would need an upgrade to something modest and sturdy.  

Running friends with prior injuries which required similar visits to the pool were generous with their flotation devices and advice. Don't lean forward. Go during aqua aerobics and you'll have some nice music. Go to the deep end. Alternate swimming with aqua running.

In this case, the deep end was a trough in the middle of the pool, no lanes
were open during aqua aerobics, and when running in shallow water, leaning forward seemed impossible not to do. Despite not being able to implement my friends' advice perfectly, I kept my heartrate up and sure enough, did alternate swimming with running to moderate the cardio stress.

My lane partner taught me the difference between splitting lanes and circle swim and showed me the possiblity of using a snorkle in the event that I can't twist my neck.  She also taught me to jog sideways.  And the lifeguard kept pointing out open lanes for me to move to so I wouldn' t overtake.

When I finished I felt a fluidity in my body that was rare and welcome.  I think I might be hooked.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The Shins of an Elephant

"A woman politician has to have the shins of an elephant." 
~Wangari Maathi, Unbowed: A Memoir, p. 254.

I read Wangari Maathi's autobiography a few years ago and kept it because it was such a nourishing read. Women's biographies encourage me because they show how others do "it".   For Kenyan born and raised Wangari, "it" means at least, getting her Bachelors in Science from St. Benedictine's College in Atchison, Kansas, Masters in Biology from the University of Pittsburgh, and PhD in Anatomy at the University of Nairobi.  (Photographer: John McConnico)

"It" also means passionately pursuing her convictions of addressing environmental and women's rights issues even in the face of desertion, jailing and beatings because of her efforts.  She founded the Green Belt Movement to address deforestation, soil erosion and insufficient water.  Tree planting and watering provide income and respect for women while nursery minding and protection provide jobs and self-esteem for men.  

As now Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was running for the Democratic Nomination in the Primaries, Wangari's words came to mind and are no less useful for Governor Sarah Palin or even to myself....

...have "the shins of an elephant."

(Photographer: Richard Phibbs)


Monday, February 2, 2009

Martha Stewart & Steve Jobs

Martha and Steve have something in common; both have had to leave a company they built and let others run it.  

In jail for 5 months, under house arrest for 5 months ending August 2005, and banned from serving as a director, or as the CEO, CFO of any public company for 5 years, Martha had to find a way to do it from afar.

How: According to Business Week, the army of Martha's-in-the-making were traded for a professional management team: Start with media saavy "CEO Â Susan Lyne, whom Stewart says 'is extremely fair in letting me know almost everything that's going on.'  Sally Preston of Rodale has come in as senior vice-president of publishing; Yahoo! veteran Holly Brown manages the Internet business; and former Kate Spade president Robin Marino has taken over merchandising. As Lyne puts it: "We've got people running segments who can do a lot of their work and planning independently. They don't need to be babysat in any shape or form."

Let's hope Steve Jobs has a succession plan for his health issues that includes a strong professional management team so we can keep enjoying beautiful products and market making paradigm shifts.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Bay Area Girl Geek Dinner: Pitching not Bitching

First off, great schwag!  Upon walking in the door and registering, the first thing you get to do is gorge on the schwag tables: a Bettoni passionate red pen with an Adobe logo on it, a Google Women insulated coffee mug, Adobe logo'd small square notebooks, a strange little squeeze guy for carpel tunnel exercises, and best of all a coffee mug with the Bay Area Girl Geek Dinner logo on it.  (Since I don't own the copyright see here for pic.)

Second, great prizes for the raffle:  Multiple copies of VmWare Fusion and lots of Spracht Bluetooth audio conferencing devices.  It's like having a Polycom that works with your mobile PC or your cell phone. Great for small businesses.

Third, great format.  After dinner, Angie Chang, one of the co-founders of Women 2.0, started a sort of open mic event.  We alternated raffles with 60 second pitches: Pitches for startups, pitches for talent, pitches for jobs, for board members.  The common theme was all these women were going somewhere.  They had a destination and an advantage...they controlled more of the tools of production than ever before. 

The evening was just great.  As I walked away, I realized how positive and upbeat the evening had been.  Why?  We were pitching, not bitching.