Tuesday, March 29, 2011

houseplant therapy

It is still quite winterly here in Buffalo and I am doing my best to not let it depress me. We've had some lovely sunshine, but there's no denying - even in the sun - that its cold out. And windy. And it is not helping my training for the Toronto Half Marathon in May one bit. 

Please please please, Mother Nature - all I am asking for are temperatures in the 40s - that's less than the average high temperature for this time of year!

Stats for March 29:
Today (3/29/11)
High:  32 °F 
Low:  27 °F
Average high: 51 °F
Average low: 34 °F
Historical Range: 27 to 84 °F 
(eighty-freaking-four degrees!?!)

But enough whining. Being from Maine/Buffalo and whining about the weather just seems so futile and predictable. Not good blog material. 

Here are some pretty pictures instead.

On Saturday afternoon I took a trip to Menne Nursery and Garden Artistry in Amherst for the first time. I was on a mission for a few new houseplants, and Menne did not disappoint. I can only imagine what it will be like to return there once gardening season starts.

Browsing was a very serene, calming experience - soft music, tons of natural light and warmth. I  walked around at a leisurely pace, swooning over the orchids and bonsais, knowing they are out of my league, but enjoying them anyway.

I wanted to find something for my nightstand, preferably a flowering plant that wouldn't demand a ton of sun. I was about to give up when I spotted the begonia selection - one of which had the most amazing fairy-like flowers. I asked one of the employees about it and she said is was a Strawberry Begonia. I knew I had to take it home with me, even if it ultimately wouldn't work out for the bedroom.

(Bear with me ... I may have gone a little bit overboard with the photos here. But this is the type of discovery that makes me wish I'd gone into science. The same feeling I get from watching the Planet Earth and Blue Planet series - which incidentally are what make me relish our gargantuan HDTV [more on that below] - being completely in awe of the crazy gorgeous things that spring up out of the ground around us. Just amazing.)

 I mean, really

This thing exists, and its on my nightstand...

...in my bedroom.

 I mean, really!

 Its leggy stems are a little awkward....

...but I'm smitten every time I go into my bedroom.

I was also on the lookout for two plants to flank the television in the living room. We recently acquired a buffet as part of an antique dining set that was missing a couple of cabinet doors, and was too big for the dining room - but ended up working beautifully for a television console.

TV console before. 

Photo by Evan - the only "before" picture I have. He especially relishes our gargantuan TV while watching sporting events - here, a Sabres game. Side note: Red walls came with the house and hopefully we will be repainting them this year.

I'm really happy with how it looks - as nice as any piece of furniture sporting a gargantuan television on top can look. But it drove me a little nuts that you could still see the wiring from the side.

Since there is plenty of space on either side of the television I thought I could use houseplant positioning to remedy the situation.

When I came across the selection of potted gardenias at Menne, I knew that they would be the perfect fit. One already had a deliciously scented blossom opened up, and both had several unopened buds.

I remember when I was still in middle school, probably around 13 years old, we received a catalog in the mail with some of the most beautiful clothes I had ever seen. It had a scented perfume advertisement inside that was absolutely intoxicating.

The catalog was from the newly established Anthropologie, and the scent was Gardenia. I kept the catalog until the scent faded, even though I knew there was absolutely no way we would be ordering anything from it. So funny how scent-related memories stick with you in such a visceral way.

Here we are almost 20 years later, and I still lust over the smell of gardenias, and yearn for things at Anthropologie - though now its less  for their clothes, and more for their hardware selection.

Anyway ... back to the TV console.

TV console after.

 See, no wires!

Much better. 

On the way out at Menne, I couldn't resist a bunch of forsythia branches in bloom for sale. I had fun arranging them in a few different vessels when I got home.

A trimming from a larger branch makes a perfect match 
for a bud vase. 

An unruly branch worked well in my garden watering can, 
which sadly wont be used for its real purpose for another couple of months.

Forsythias will always remind me of Barrett's Park in Boothbay Harbor, Maine, the town where I was born, and the place that holds some of my fondest memories. There are two huge forsythia bushes flanking the entrance to Barrett's park.

Bringing these branches home made me think about putting forsythias on the list of flowering bushes I'd like to add to our yard.

Wishing you happy thoughts of spring....

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Who's up for a roadtrip?

Creepy. Depressing. Sinister.

Yet, somehow, also enchanting and beautiful. 

William Livingstone House

A friend of mine sent me this link today, commenting that she wants to "make a road trip to Detroit, walk through some of these buildings, and well, engage in some minor looting", noting all the "banisters, signs, built-in shelving and drawers, lighting, etc., etc. that are begging to be re-purposed!"

Well put. I may have to finally get a respirator and talk to Evan about revising plans for our next vacation (I kid, Mom, I kid). Oddly, it wouldn't be his first road trip vacation to Detroit. The man is a big fan of the Rust Belt.

If you've not seen it yet, check out the entire slideshow here at the Huffington Post (where the images are much bigger and you'll be able to take in all the details).

A few of my favorite haunting shots, all taken by Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre Photography:

Ballroom, American Hotel

United Artists Theater

Bagley-Clifford Office of the National Bank of Detroit

Melted clock, Cass Technical High School

Their entire collection of photos can be found in their book, Ruins of Detroit

For you Buffalonians, Evan adds this tidbit, as a means for perspective:

The city of Detroit encompasses 143 square miles, Buffalo 52 square miles.

Detroit is roughly the size of Buffalo, Amherst, Cheektowaga, Hamburg, Orchard Park, Williamsville and the Tonawandas combined. Imagine if the worst of the decay on the Eastside encompassed all of Buffalo and the first ring suburbs. 

Makes me wonder what Mayor Bloomberg would have to say.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

silver linings

Florida was an interesting trip. 

Perfectly sunny and warm, extremely relaxing, slightly decadent. 

Lots of reading on the boat - I have decided that the bow of a boat floating on the ocean 
is one of my top 5 places to be of all time. 

Breathtaking sunsets. 

Waterfront pool and bar. 

 There was just one hitch. 

On my first full day, as I was lounging by the pool with a cocktail in hand I received a call that made me curse the existence of cell phones - certainly not for the first time. The panicked voice on my voice mail belonged to a colleague of mine, who has my job in Rochester - asking if I knew anything about the funding for our jobs, and the four other attorneys across the state holding the same position, being cut as of March 31. 

I didn't. 

I resolved to put it out of my mind as much as humanly possible (since there wasn't much I could do about it in my bathing suit, poolside in Florida with a couple of cucumber gimlets already putting a delightful fuzz around the whole situation). 

And for the most part, I did.

While it was hard being away from Evan's comforting hugs and reassurances after getting the news, I was with great people who saw to it that I was sufficiently spoiled and distracted by fun, and I could not be more grateful for their abundance of generosity. 

All in all, I don't think I would change the fact that I got the bad news while on vacation. I almost think it made me appreciate vacation and everything I have that much more. 

I'm trying hard to sort through my thoughts on the unexpected news and figure out what comes next. I'm pretty confident that there is a silver lining in all this. 

I am freaked out and excited all at once.
I'll be sure to keep you posted along the way...


Thursday, March 3, 2011

warmer days coming

I've been thinking a lot about plans for the outside of the house this year. Last summer I thought I would just sit back and enjoy whatever came up - we bought our house from friends of ours, and they put a lot of work into landscaping and planting in their time there. 

I do have some ideas for changing things a bit this year - last summer was so hot and dry, and several of the plants and flowers suffered. I'd like to be more strategic about the placement of things (being mindful of what would thrive where - shade vs full sun? Northern vs Southern exposure? - replacing the huge bushy hostas on the side of the driveway that inevitably get decimated by the car pulling in and out of the driveway, etc). 

I've dug out the survey of our house and started making notes. 

A few things I am dreaming about...



From the blog sweetfineday

Wild rose bushes ... nothing transports me so instantly to the warm summer coast of Maine.

 Print sold by QuietSide Crafts on Etsy



From the beautiful blog A Country Farmhouse

There are many many more. This is just a taste, because in 15 minutes I head to the airport to leave this ....

27 °F
Partly Cloudy

25 °F
Ice Pellets
30% chance of precipitation

38 °F
90% chance of precipitation

... for this 
79 °F
Partly Cloudy

54 °F 
Partly Cloudy

81 °F
Partly Cloudy

And wouldn't that be just so painfully ironic if I missed my flight to warm, sunny Florida because I was too busy daydreaming about Spring...

More when I return!