Deerfield steam, wildflowers, and yard sales

Okay, what the heck is this plant?  I see it all the time in the area and do not know what it is!

Okay, what the heck is this plant? I see it all the time in the area and do not know what it is!

Steam over the North Shore...

Steam over the North Shore…

Stewie and I took our walk and I noticed a pink flower that, at first, I thought was an invasive, non-native plant names loosestrife. As it turns out, this was not loosestrife, but another plant; I just don’t know what it is. The funny thing is, I know what loosestrife looks like and this looks nothing like it. It kind of looks like tall garden phlox but it has a less attractive stem and leaves, and the flowers are fewer. Colors are pink and white.

We did our walk early, I had awakened with what I would call, a bang, and then we went out. We passed by the Deerspring pool and since I saw steam rising in the forty-four degree weather, I realized that there had to be some water in it. I knew that the Sprayground was set to go but I did not realize that they had actually started the process of getting the pool going.

Saturday promises to be a yard-sale day, one that I do not feel particularly prepared for other than having pulled and yanked and dragged numerous things out of the crawlspace and placed them in the garage. Our Estate-sale son, Mikey, is coming over to set things up, this was his idea, and we are half-heartedly going into the event. My point is the same as Mary Kay’s…anything that we removed from the rafters in the garage (everything, lol) and from the crawlspace is somehow NOT finding its way back into a Koerner storage venue. Thus, anything not sold will find itself on the lawn near the street or in the garbage. The goal here is not even to get a lot of pocket change, it is to rid us of stuff we have kept for ages, thinking we might use it.

Even with the work we have done, there is much stored. The crawlspace has tons of Rubbermaid containers full of things. Frankly, we could easily stock a second-home kitchen, but I doubt that that is ever going to be a reality.

We came home, I got the coffee going, put the addresses on the Yard Sale signs MK purchased, and got a few things ready. The cars are on the street and breakfast is about to be had. This could be interesting.

Meanwhile, what the heck is that flower I spied growing like crazy in all of the fields by Deerspring’s steaming pool?

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Honeysuckle and Witches’ Broom

You can see a tiny bit of the Witches' Broom here.

You can see a tiny bit of the Witches’ Broom here.

Honeysuckle is delightful and fragrant and unfortunately it is one bush I am glad that I no longer have to care for. Years ago, when we lived in our first Deerfield home, we had a large amount of bushes lining the back fence. The bushes were honeysuckle and I truly enjoyed their spring display and the fragrant, but not overpowering scent.

I was dismayed when I realized that every year I would have to deal with dead branches, usually at the end of the other branches and soon found out that it is, in fact, a disease of the honeysuckle, at least in the Midwest area, that has been around for a while.

I did some research and found out that it is called Witches’ Broom, because it resembles that. I believe that it is caused by an aphid, one that was a visitor to our area, not native, and thus had not been around forever. I also believe it has no natural predators. The leaves fold up around the aphids, protecting them from insecticides, and the growth of the plant is stunted.

It is like anything else, you have something nice but there is a negative to the situation. It is also somewhat akin to the situation of a negative thing having a positive side because as they say, every black cloud has a silver lining.

So Stewie and I have walked by many a honeysuckle plant and enjoyed them but I am sure glad that I do not have to deal with them and their issues. Apparently, there are some varieties of honeysuckle that are resistant to this parasite, but there is so much honeysuckle out there already. The pest doesn’t usually destroy the whole plant so the disease just continues. I do know this, if I still had honeysuckle, I would be pro-active and spray them (with oil spray that is not bad for the environment) and I would be careful to remove the dead branches that harbor the aphid.

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Dandelions and Honeysuckle, the North and the South, and continued Racism

Deerfield / IL / Etats-Unis - 5/21/15

Are these perhaps a representation of the North and how we can chop these down and appear to be better at dealing with issues of race?

Are these perhaps a representation of the North and how we can chop these down and appear to be better at dealing with issues of race?

A few months back when we were in Savannah, Georgia at the book fair, I was thrilled to see a favorite author, Pat Conroy in person. It was wonderful to hear him speak. As I have mentioned before, he made me feel like more of a Yankee than I ever have.

Mary Kay and I have been on even more of a book-reading spree than normal, as we peruse, choose, and read all sorts of wonderful new selections. In doing so, we came across a wonderful author, new to us, Greg Iles, a southerner and writer of novels that reach across the borders of civil rights, the KKK, treatment of human beings, good and bad, the North and the South, and human weaknesses.

Despite the fact that this is fiction, I am sure that so much of his writing is based upon the factual. The truth of the matter is, fact is often stranger than fiction. In the set of novels that I am reading, the protagonist is a man, a real man, a person with ideals and failings, a person who has been through much in life, losing a wife at a young age, coping with being a good father and son, having a career as lawyer, writer, and then mayor, and then finding out about his own father’s weaknesses, which heretofore, have not even existed in his eyes. Penn Cage is the son of a man who treats all human beings as equals and the two of them live in Natchez, Mississippi, of all places.

For many years, both MK and I have marveled at the beauty and the sometimes-savage aspects of our country. We love to travel and visit different places, but for whatever reason, the Deep South has not always been on our horizon as the next place to visit. I think that sometimes we symbolically associate it with so many of our countries issues and problems.

My mind is changing here and I feel that I need to visit the Deep South.

Despite my not comprehending the primitive feelings that arise in us in regards to race relations, I really feel the need to understand it further.

In the current ‘Penn Cage’ novel by Greg Iles, which I am reading out of order since I started the trilogy that is currently on the presses, starting with ‘Natchez Burning’ (actually book 5 in the Penn Cage series) and being seconded by ‘The Bone Tree,’ (book 6 in the Penn Cage series) I came across an interesting quote which truly resonates with me, it is something I have felt within myself for some time. It is a quote by Penn Cage as he is speaking to a young, female, Northern journalist who is hell-bent on doing the correct, liberal thing, and research the atrocities committed within the South. He is a Southerner born and raised and tries to express his feelings to her and set her straight.

The quote is from “The Quiet Game,” the first of Greg Iles ‘Penn Cage’ novels. Penn Cage, representing the South, is speaking to Caitlin Masters.

“…But I want you to be clear that I think the North is as guilty as the South when it comes to blacks.”

“You don’t really believe that.”

“You’re damn right I do. I may criticize the South when I’m in it, but when I’m in the North, I defend Mississippi to the point of blows. Prejudice in the North isn’t as open, but it’s just as destructive…”

“The Quiet Game,” Greg Iles, Chapter 5, page 48

I am convinced that those of us in the North are often on our high horses and act as if all of the atrocities occurred elsewhere and that we treat people better than they do in the South. The fact of the matter is that the North is way better at hiding things, at keeping appearances up so that it might look better, but in reality the problems exist in a different form. We may have come far but we most assuredly have a long way to go in curing the ills brought about by England colonizing our land and giving slavery and its horrid ramifications to us.

I took my walk with Stewie, my black and white dog, on Thursday morning. As I viewed the honeysuckle and also the dandelions going to seed, I saw the South and the North juxtaposed, both parts of this country and both parts needing to continue at an even faster pace at dealing with our horrific past and its continued presence in our current lives. We must get beyond this.

Posted in Bullying, Civil Rights, Culture, Evil, Interpersonal Relations, Life in general, Loss, People and their characteristics, Politics, Racism, The Past, Thoughts and philosophy | Leave a comment

The Spraygarden

A view of the Deerspring Spraygarden as Stewie and I passed by...

A view of the Deerspring Spraygarden as Stewie and I passed by…

One of the benefits of walking the dog is that you know what is going on in the neighborhood. One of the benefits of spring-cleaning is that one sees first-hand, what needs attention. Now that I have gutter guards on and am saved all that time removing nature’s detritus from my gutters and also from removing the decomposing material from the top of the downspouts (it helps having the larger sized downspouts anyway), I have to make time to go up there and inspect what is happening. I am no longer forced by water overflowing my gutters and wreaking havoc with the ground beneath as well as the possibility that water is working its way into the eaves of my house. That almost makes me wonder if, perhaps, I should not have had the guards installed. However, given the amount of time I have spent muddying my hands in filthy decomposing materials that make my hands smell for twenty-four hours after touching them, I am glad to be rid of that task. I am only hoping that time will prove that these guards remain effective and prevent me from my treks to the roof.

Wednesday dog walking brought about the realization that the Deerspring ‘Sprayground’ is in working order. It is adjacent to the Deerspring Pool, AKA the ‘Generic Country Club.’ The Sprayground is one of the better things that the Deerfield Park District has done. I have not always been fond of their choices of the things they have done or of their lack of responsiveness in so many areas. This is a great one, a place where kids can go and play with all sorts of water toys set up by creative adults.

This brings about the thought that soon the pool will be filled and I am hoping that North Shore weather shall go along with all of this and make sure that we can actually enjoy it. Last year was pretty bad as it was often just not right for swimming out of doors. The previous year was amazing, however.

In other news, this is honeysuckle time, the bushes are blooming and the lily of the valley is going strong. I have not yet seen the maple tree’s ‘helicopters,’ those seeds that get into everything and then start growing all over the yard. The Locust trees have not been doing anything either. Time will tell.

Wednesday seems strange as I am not at Oakton. The spring semester is over. I did receive a call asking if I would teach the summer classes online, something that I can do since my face to face (F2F) class has no one enrolled. That was a bit of a surprise, but then, life is just like that!

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The baobabs of Deerfield…

My neighbors across the street would have been fined and ticketed for their landscaping errors as they allow their dandelions to grow haphazardly and malignantly in their yard had they been living in the suburb of my youth. Not only are they a disaster in terms of the chemicals that will probably be needed in the neighborhood, they are unsightly as well. I would think that they could at least mow the lawn and thus cut down the tall stems of blooming weed flowers that are soon to impregnate the neighboring lawns with their yellow progeny. But no, they continue to allow their ills to fester, apparently unknowing about what they are doing, and even getting away with it. Such is life.

Today, this being Tuesday, I attended to one of my pet gardening peeves, little sprouts on the major tree trunk that are desiring to turn into major branches. If left alone, they become unsightly branches that are very close to the ground. Despite the fact that I have no desire to do a Louis XIV on these plants and trees, and make them totally conform to my wishes in terms of their shape, I do have a need to make them put their plant energy where it belongs and not become unsightly elsewhere. Isn’t it funny how such a mundane thing can make me think of both Louis XIV and the Little Prince? Literary allusions are everywhere!

It has been a wonderful spring. Thanks to Stewart, I have found much time to ponder and look at in awe at the wonders of nature as we walk through our neighborhood. I have had time, here and there, to make sure that my yard looks like it should and that my plant life is performing to its utmost. I still have things to do but I do not feel that I am overburdened by what I need to do. I had planned to have a spring landscaping clean up but saved myself the money when I couldn’t get a handle on when the crew would come out. A month after I requested a visit, I still had not seen hide nor hair of the clean up group. I guess what finally did them in, in my eyes, is that I realized that the reason I would pay to have it done in the first place is to sooner be able to enjoy the beauty of my yard. Having to wait so long to the point that all my neighbors’ yards were cleaned up and spring-pretty made it seem like a ridiculous expenditure.

Having attended to all of this myself, I was able to get a good look at most of the areas of my yard and thus I was able to deal with the last of my water issues outside and able to put down my swale that takes yard water, directs it to my pond, and filters it before it even gets there. I have been transplanting poorly located plants to a better situation, moving yarrow, hosta, and black-eyed Susan to new locations.

Like anything else, constant attention is necessary in order to keep things orderly. Although I have a severely limited chemical warfare situation, I have a relatively nice looking yard. My dandelion pulling is hovering around forty dandelions, not bad, and way under what it has been in the past.

Although we had been almost suffering in the heat, Tuesday found us in cold and really wonderful sleeping weather. Let’s see where this goes…

Posted in Horticulture, Life in general, Nature, Pond and koi, Recycling, being green, Thoughts and philosophy | Leave a comment