Generational Ephemera

Cripes Sake Ashtry
Never know what you'll find when you peek at the odd leftover bits from a drawer of mementos belonging to a late mother-in-law, who lived in the American South, 1914-1995. Gotta love it.


Thanks to Bill Petty, the mushroom guy micologist, naturalist and Master Gardener, for identifying the flying insect visiting the wild foxglove that I thought looked like a tiny bee of some sort. Here's what Bill said in a comment on my Facebook page. . .

"I agree with Dr. Parker's identification. Those are beautiful pix! I especially like that you caught the hover fly in mid-visit."

I learned that Hoverfly is a mostly unknown alternative rock band, a public relations company in Washington, D.C. and (ta da) an insect also known as a flower flly or a syrphid fly. Adults feed on nectar and pollen, while their little maggots are a gardener's friend, since they prey upon aphids and thrips. Read more here.


Flaxleaf False Foxglove

Many thanks to Buck and my friend and dentist, Dr. Michael C. Parker (Mickey) for identifying the lovely wildflower in yesterday's post. Mickey says it is flaxleaf false foxglove (agilinis linifolia), and that it is the only perennial foxglove in our area. 

Like Bees to Balm

If the forecasters are right, temperatures in the Pensacola area tonight will slide below 50 degrees.  I walked outside and the patio concrete was dry and cold to my bare feet.  Buck, Maggie and I took a two-hour woods walk that began in late morning and stretched so long we almost missed the afternoon flick we had planned to go see. Who could resist the brilliant sky, the fragrant woods? 

Just when I think I have seen every variation of every wildflower that grows at Longleaf, I get surprised. I think these are some type of balm, in the mint family. And I think the insect that was feeding is some type of bee, but am not sure.

Kathleen? Deb? Mickey? Dave?  Sandy? Any ideas?

Bee in flight
Mint family maybe


Mustards Grill Lemon-Garlic Chicken


Buck wandered innocently into a hazardous work zone Monday evening: our kitchen. Unbeknownst to him, Cindy Pawlcyn's Napa Valley Mustards Grill cookbook had come in the mail and I couldn't resist a suppertime lab experiment. Buck was talking to me in the companionable way of long-married folks, and it took him a moment to realize that something unusual was afoot.  I wasn't responding, but instead was leaning into a very (very) hot oven, where a dish of veggies was roasting furiously and a cast iron skillet holding a couple of chicken breasts was smoldering under a great big foil-wrapped Old Chicago brick (left over from our front porch). 

Buck stopped talking, took a step backward when he was hit by a blast of heat and gave me a sidewise look as if checking to be sure I had everything under control.

I had a moment of doubt, when I tried to figure out how to get the huge and heavy sizzling cast iron out of the oven without hurting myself or dropping the brick or the skillet and smashing floor tiles.  But it all worked out. I donned heavy pot holder gloves and removed the brick first; then hefted the 12" skillet out of the oven safely.


Foil Brick

 The Mustards Grill recipe is called "Lemon Garlic Chicken."  I had heard of the chicken under a brick trick before, but never understood the attraction. Now, I do. The brick presses onto the hot chicken, and results in a crispy exterior and dense, moist interior.  The recipe also calls for a fresh herb, shallot and garlic rub, and a lemon-garlic vinaigrette topping.

Lemon-Garlic Chicken MG
Buck says the Mustards Grill Lemon-Garlic Chicken is the best chicken dish he has ever tasted. We had just enough left over for a couple of toothsome sandwiches for lunch yesterday.

Okay, so what's next to try from the book: hmmmn, I think maybe the French Country-Style Vegetable Soup with Pistou. Sounds perfect for these newly-arrived cool evenings. And it doesn't involve handling hot bricks!

The Open Gate

Open Gate
 All we have to do is walk through the open gate into the sunrise.

Buck and I received word today that a dear friend died. Kathryne (Missy) was a friend to Buck since he was a youngster in college. Her son and Buck went to the University of Florida together; he, Buck, his wife and I are close friends, too. Kathryne's longevity was a gift to us all. To me, she also represents a paragon of southern gentility, a true "steel magnolia." I know that Buck prized Kathryne's friendship for many reasons, not the least of which was her unfailing kindness and her wise eyes.

Another treasured friend wrote me today to tell me that her long-ill father, Nicholas, had died. She asked me to "send good thoughts for his energy to find its new dance" and that I "light a candle, turn up some good music or take a deep breath of Autumn air and send Nicholas on his mighty way." Marvelous words.

I walked to the gate in the cool fall air early this morning. Goldenrod is blooming, along with tiny wild lavender asters and gayfeathers.  Morning glory necklaces adorn the trees and fence rows.

Tonight I walked outside and looked up at the night sky, Celtic music piped through an ear bud straight to my cerebral cortex. I noticed for the first time that stars really do dance. Like small children, all that energy just has to go somewhere. I took a deep breath of cool air, and came back inside to post these words and photos.

I hear Buck drawing the bedroom drapes. He and Maggie are now walking by to go to Maggie's "cookie" jar for her nighttime treat. I am going to lie down, turn out the light, and remember that lovely visit on the South Carolina coast a few years ago with Missy and our family of friends.

September Morning Glory

A five-pointed star embossed on delicate petals; the exquisite geometry of Nature.

Longleaf Preserve Mushroom Makes It to Florida Fungi Facebook Fame

Bill Petty is my "go-to" guy for identifying mushrooms around Longleaf. He publishes the Florida Fungi website, and now has taken it to Facebook. Bill is a retired data base systems engineer, and a naturalist mycologist by avocation. He is also a University of Florida/IFAS-certified Master Gardener and Master Naturalist in the state of Florida.

I am very pleased to have one of Longleaf Preserve's very own 'shrooms appearing on Bill's new Florida Fungi Facebook Page. Go look. It's a very cool place.

Lush Mush and a Post from the Outpost

2010 09 01_0045_edited-1
About a month ago, we were covered up in mushrooms of all sizes, sorts and descriptions. That is when we had good rain and plenty of it. The pendulum has swung, and now we are on the verge of serious drought.  I found the beauty in this photo underneath a big spreading live oak that borders the clearing and the deep woods. It is an open book, a balloon whisk, a frilly oyster, delicate and sensual.

Buck and Harold haven't been able to disk the clearing out front or the food plots yet this season. They need to have rain first, then disk, fertilize, plant seed and cover it lightly and pray for a little more rain, not too hard, please, a good, gentle, farmer's rain. Harold won't be toting fertilizer or seed or running the tractor this year, but he will have a major supervisory role. He is still recovering from his kidney cancer surgery. I'm happy to tell you that the surgeon was able to save almost 75% of Harold's right kidney, and excised the tumor with clean margins all around. No chemo needed. Harold is back to driving and came over to drink coffee and shoot the breeze with Buck and me several days ago. It was great to hear him going on about politics and the news of the day and to see that he still has a spark in his eye. 

Buck and I saw two spotted fawns and their mama out back just at dusk. This morning, I stood for what must have been 20 minutes and watched two bunny rabbits getting into a snit with each other over some overripe pears and grapes I put out for them. At one point, they looked like miniature kangaroos, up on their hind legs, sparring.

It's kind of early, but I am ready to turn out the light. I've been pretty scarce around these pages recently, but I set up a low round table near my desk in the study, (away from the computer, ahem), and am arising early, fixing a pot of Lady Grey tea, and getting into a rhythmn with some new writing. I've missed you all, but, oh Lord, this feels good.

My Daddy used to tell me that to catch a fish you have to hold your mouth right. Buck has told me that dogs turn around several times and scratch the ground (or the carpet) to get rid of any bugs or spiders before they lie down . I hope the day will come when I have sufficient discipline to just sit any old place, stay in the room, and let it roll.

Hope you are all well and enjoying September.

Take care,


Pre-Blog Era: The Open Plain and The Nest 1994

August 16, 1994    (Transcribed from a blank notebook given to me as a birthday gift from my step-daughter and friend, Adele.) I promised Adele this notebook wouldn't be used for "to do" lists or other rote mind-dumping, but rather for a writer's notebook. Easier said than done. She gave it to me on my birthday, yet here it is, almost two months later.

I believe that "living in the moment" is the best way to live, perhaps even an achievement of sorts. And I think (delusion?) that I am living that way most of the time. The victim, if there is one, might be reflection.

It is remarkable to be in a love relationship, our marriage, which is so fully engaged, passionate and absorbing. It is mostly an engine of energy, but sometimes can be totally draining. It is an "all-out" way of living, one that demands the best within me.

Buck has excited me at every level since the first day I laid eyes on him. I believe his passion and creative fires are still constrained slightly by corporate life, and look forward to riding the tiger of freedom with him when we retire early.

For the first time, I have begun to feel a time is coming when we will travel extensively for awhile. Selling the real estate, becoming liquid, setting the retirement date, organizing the household — all of these are moving in that direction. And my mind is opening to it, as well, and beginning to be ready and excited. Astrologers say that Cancerians are homebodies, domesticated beyond all sense; that they like a cozy, safe nest. And I am just of that ilk. I am always piling "nest stuff" up around me: books, music, cooking, plants, pets — soft, comfortable shock absorbers and bumpers. I'm not comfortable out on the open plain, where one can see and be seen for miles.

To get above the horizon, to grow, I must be a little exposed, a little scared and a little uncomfotable.

Buck and I are opposite hemispheres in that regard. Because of our immutable bond, we have learned to sample each other's milieus — his the open plain, mine the nest — and I have become stronger, more able to bear the light; and he has become more nurturing, more able to relax with me in our cocoon.

Pre-Blog Era: Amanda’s Puppies 1988

January 29, 1988    Amanda's puppies were born today, starting at 6:50 a.m., one through nine, until 2:30 p.m.  One stillborn; 2 yellow females; 3 black females and 3 black males. Buck buried the tiny stillborn male in front of the rose bed.