In a Vase on Monday – Stuffed with Memories

This brown vase belonged to my mother, who loved things made by hand. She enjoyed making things with her hands, sewing, embroidering, cooking and gardening. I am certain my love for plants and gardening came from her. She filled this vase with blue pansies in winter and zinnias in summer. She almost always had a vase of grocery store Alstroemeria on the kitchen counter, preferring just one kind of flower, as combining flowers in a vase kind of threw her for a loop. I was called for flower duty more than once when she was having a party. Good training for future garden blogging!

Here she is, in embroidered Christmas apron, beckoning me to come inside and arrange the flowers:

I was surprised by how many flowers I could stuff into this seemingly small vase. The zinnias reminded me of my mother, but it would surprise me to find that she had seen any of the rest of them. We both embraced pink and orange flower combinations reluctantly; but the combo tends to grow on you after a while. Numerous clients have gagged at the thought of that color combination in their own gardens.

A closer view:

The peach, orange and pink flowers in the front of the vase are Zinderella Zinnia. None look like the picture on the seed packet. I cut them all off to the stem starting side shoots in hopes of bigger flowers. The fuzzy, red flower is a Dwarf Chenille Plant (Acalypha pendula) – these are supposedly a good flowering groundcover here. This one went dormant from August til January, not my idea of good groundcover – I was surprised it came back up. Pink Star Flowers are Heirloom Pentas (Penta lanceolata); I love these for the butterflies they attract, however, I wonder how perennial they are and if I should cut them back? Blue flowers are Blue Mist flowers, I think these are some kind of native Ageratum that appeared in the front garden. White daisies are the everpresent native weed, Bidens alba. The little blue and white flowers in the back are from Varigated Flax Lily (Dianella tasmanica) – an uncommonly indestructible perennial.

Thank you to Cathy at for hosting and Happy Gardening!!


Pink is the New Orange

Most of our gardening power tools are a really lovely shade of orange I call “War Damn Eagle Orange” In honor of, or perhaps to spite the fans of my alma mater’s rival Auburn University in Alabama. An Eagle is their mascot, team colors blue and orange. Southeastern Conference college football is serious business.  WDE Orange is very practical in that if you drop something into a green hedge it can be easily found. There is a new and disturbing trend in color for gardening tools. Pink.

Should really practical tools be pink? Some of these saccharine sweet garden implements are starting to get on my nerves. As a woman in the garden do you really need a pink trowel? Or does it match your Yorkie’s pink leopard outfit?

Or is your gardener using an entirely different trowel as you admire his work while having a pink cocktail with said Yorkie? The next question is does the dog have pink painted toenails?  If so,  then things have gone entirely too far and it is time to order one of these:

The Proverbial Pink Powertool

The Proverbial Pink Powertool

To complete the ensemble I have found pink fringed cowhide chaps and an appropriate hardhat:

Once all is assembled, we will need a lady who can actually lift that chainsaw.

Head gear

Head gear

Getting Thrown Out of the Girl Scouts

One of the Fiats, the Green one!

One of the Fiats, the Green one!

Earlier this afternoon, for some reason I told my husband about getting thrown out of the Girl Scouts. Realise we have been together for almost 25 years and he had never heard this story.

I call myself a recovering Southern Belle, this is probably a contributing factor.; as Belles are naturally former Girl Scouts. Girl Scouts are an American organization that hike, camp, earn badges and improve neighborhoods, according to their website. I imagine their goals were similar in the late 1960’s when I was dying to be a Girl Scout, have a green uniform and belong.

My mother, the venerable Miss Betty, I think was approaching her limit on driving children around (I was the fourth) and she had not learned to drive until the ripe old age of 35. Then, my father insisted that only a manual transmission car was worthwhile and bought her a series of peculiar Fiats. The suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia was not the place for any sort of foreign car in the 1960’s.

We lived in a relatively unfashionable area that still had Ku Klux Klan meetings, I can remember a building downtown with a giant cross on top where the meetings were held. And  I attended Elementary school with the Grand Wizards grandson. For some reason I turned out to be a mostly socially liberal person with numerous gay friends, go figure.

One day Miss Betty was selected to drive the Girl Scout troop around. Well, the Fiat had a stick shift and no one in the sticks of North Georgia had ever been in anything other than a Buick with a sluggish automatic transmission. The phone tree in suburban Atlanta lit up with concern about the maniac lady in the Red Fiat. Mothers were complaining that their daughters were terrified by the stick shift and the speed of the little Fiat that had an engine about the size of a really fast John Deere lawnmower.

My mother was appalled at the indignity of being accused of speeding and terrifying little girls and pulled me out of Girl Scouts immediately. I have never joined another women only organization.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of Southern Belledom

This post is called The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly of Southern Belledom:


bacon, a basic ingredient for green beans?

For those of you unfamiliar with Southern Belles, the prime example would be Scarlett O’ Hara from the movie Gone With The Wind. The book was written by a lady from Atlanta, Georgia, where I grew up and lived for 50 years. Scarlett was played by an English actress, Vivien Leigh, who I must say did  an amazing job at depicting the true Belle.

I have posted about Southern Belledom previously. I consider myself a recovering Southern Belle. The are many aspects of Belledom I just can’t cope with. Primarily shoes, I would rather not wear them. My mother used to tell me I was a half peach when I was little because we were from Georgia. I must be a whole peach by now and unfortunately I can’t pick a good peach out of a produce bin to save my life. This is one of life’s little mysteries.

It should also be noted I have an odd inability to digest fried food. This may be luck or possibly Yankee genes from my Connecticut born father. Who ate fried everything – even liver.

The Good: Things I have learned from being a Southern Belle:

My grandfather was a peach farmer who raised cattle and pigs as well. Farm to table food was what they ate before it was popular and there are few things better than homemade sausage, peaches right off the tree or radishes from the garden. I have a true appreciation for fresh food.

I have a deep appreciation for polite people. Southerners are generally polite to a fault, but may say anything behind your back. I now live in what might be considered northern South Florida and there are way too many people down here with bad manners. In the Miami area I have frequently heard the statement “the further north you go the nicer the people are” Well, I would hate to live down there.

There is nothing funnier than the southern sense of humor, self deprecating and wicked. It boggles many people, I get it and write it.

Craftsmanship. I love things made by hand and not with a computer. Artwork, lace, woodworking – just about anything.

A love and respect for animals that I am not sure all people share. Dogs and cows, especially.

An appreciation for native plants, in the current vernacular, and many other plants as well.

Rat Cheese Toast: this is peculiarly southern and perhaps a Greatest Generation thing that is dying out. French bread slices buttered and topped with a thick slice of Extra Sharp, Extra Cheap Grocery store Cheddar and broiled til bubbly and brown. Especially good with tomato soup.


The Bad: A Good Southern Belle should eat and read these things. I don’t.

I realize a lot of this is food based. The Southeastern United States is called “The Stroke Belt” for good reason.

I hate overcooked vegetables, especially with anything greasy in them, a very common side dish in the South, green beans with bacon, anyone?. I wonder how many true Southerners had their cholesterol ruined by eating vegetables. Truly a contradiction in food.

I hate Sweet tea. If I wanted to drink syrup, I would. How many Southerners were turned diabetic by this particular beverage? My grandmother (who was diabetic) made her tea with actual saccharin. Little pills that looked like mini aspirin.I just read up on saccharin, the dictionary says it is 300 times sweeter than sugar with a bitter aftertaste. That perfectly describes my grandmother’s sweet tea. I will only drink tea straight up.

I am not  fond of pimento cheese. Which is odd for someone raised in the South. Mayonnaise and grated cheese with pimentos, seriously considered a gourmet item and how many grams of fat ? Then flavorless white bread spread with margarine prior to the application of the mayo/cheese /pimento mixture. Greasy, yes. Skip that and give me some “rat cheese” toast. Seems crazy, but probably better for you.

Ever had a sweet potato casserole with marshmallow topping? If so, I don’t need to go any further. If you haven’t, imagine mashed sweet potatoes, sugar, maple syrup and pecans, possibly pineapple with stacked jet puffed marshmallow browned on top. To go with turkey. The concept is bizarre. And I would say you have to grow up with it, like grits, but I did, and Ewww.

Dark Southern Literature, did anything good ever happen in Mississippi? something must have.

The Ugly: Things I can’t deal with in good conscience.

Oh, the things Southerners will say behind your back. Truly ugly.

Be careful about the color of the roots of your hair, regardless of where you started.

10 Reasons why I am a Bad Southern Belle

A properly arranged bridal shower tea

A properly arranged bridal shower tea

I was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, attended and graduated from Tucker High School followed by the University of Georgia and lived in Georgia for 50 years. I have a great deal of experience in being Southern.

That said, I am not a good Southern Belle.

For those of you who are uninformed about Southern ladies; there are a lot of rules. Things that must be remembered and feared, lest you provide fodder for gossip.

My mother was a Greatest Generation Southern Belle raised in South Georgia who believed in and followed the rules. She did her best to imbue me with the knowledge of how to be a proper Southern Belle. It worked better on my sister.

While many people have been impressed with my memory; these rules did not stay with me.

Here are the ten reasons I am not a good Southern Belle:

1. I like dark meat chicken salad.  Go figure, an old friend of mine (a gay man) from extreme southwestern Georgia told me the women in his hometown gossiped about ladies who use dark meat in chicken salad. I can believe it.

2. I have limited variety in my shoe wardrobe and I hate white shoes. To be properly southern you must follow shoe color restrictions during certain seasons. It is considered very bad form to wear white shoes or certain articles of white clothing before Memorial Day or after Labor Day. Winter white is an exception, but there are additional rules for that. Patent leather shoes are another big deal. In my opinion, if you are in high school you are too old for patent leather shoes.

3.  I detest Euphemisms: no Southern lady ever farted, pooped or sweated. They “make smells”, “have a BM”, and “glow”. I find Midwesterners very refreshing in this regard. They call it like they smell it, hear it or see it. I married one.

4.  I like wearing black to weddings, black is slimming. If you are truly a Belle there is no wearing of black to weddings,  with the exception of shoes and accessories, that is OK.  The inference (supposedly) is mourning of bride or groom’s mistake. Really, the little black dress should go everywhere.

5.  Vulgarity in many cases is amusing. Southern ladies say “Don’t be vulgar”why not? It’s fun.

6.  I enjoyed swimming as a teenager, but was told “Women of your breeding don’t go to the swimming pool”  I was always flummoxed  by this; especially since there was no air conditioning?

7.  I believe health problems should be recognized for what they are. We have no alcoholics or addicts; there is “hardening of the liver” or “a little problem” I have heard someone say “his liver is like a hockey puck” Colon cancer is not considered a topic for polite conversation.

8.  I am pretty certain all women go through menopause. Southern ladies just don’t admit it. I can remember seeing my mother sweating profusely in the middle of winter and asking her about it. “Nothing was wrong, Daddy had the thermostat set too high”, she said.  Then she told me it only took her one day to go through menopause and it was no problem. I am still choking on that one.

9. Not freezing at Easter; I think this is a good idea. A proper Belle breaks out and wears their spring clothes at Easter regardless of the weather. You would think this is where winter white would be a good idea. I think you have to stop wearing winter white before Easter. But I really never got the whole winter white thing.

10.  The best reason is the last. My father was from Connecticut. My mother explained Southerners should always marry Yankees to assure the viability  of the gene pool. It gave me a good reason to wear white in October and go to the swimming pool. My Yankee genes must be dominant.