Suzette At Rest

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SUZETTE AT REST Announcement: I have retired from work. Whatever shall I do to fill my time? #retired #retiredlife #notworking #outofoffice #atliberty #free
     It happened. As I sit here beginning this blog post, I see by the clock that I’ve been retired for 24 hours and 2 minutes.  I believe it’s going well so far.
     The first thing I did this morning while the coffee was brewing was pick up a screwdriver and go outside to the front lawn to look for weeds to uproot. I have never intentionally done this before in my life. If I had happened to be passing by a particularly annoying  weed, I might have stooped to yank it out. Might even have  gone to get a screwdriver if I was sufficiently annoyed by its refusal to surrender to me. But this morning, I just casually thought it would be a good use of my time while I waited for the coffee.
     Apparently, my body automatically reset itself to retirement mode and I was acting from pure instinct. In the same way that newborn babies instinctively turn their mouths in the direction of the nipple, newly minted retirees must have the instinct to fret about their lawns. I have no other explanation.
     But I’m glad it happened, even though its not what the youngs would call hip. Or cool.  Or whatever the term is now. To me, it is a signal that I’m going to have an easy adjustment to a life of leisure.
     On the other hand, I find myself in an EXTREMELY ANNOYED state, which is entirely consistent with my pre-retirement attitude.  See that picture and caption up there? I posted them on Facebook and Instagram and no one even mentioned the hat. I’ve been saving that hat for more than a year for exactly this occasion. I admit that I got it for the impact I imagined when my coworkers saw the, so probably not meaningful to people who didn’t live and die by email. But still, you would think that it would generate a few remarks, wouldn’t you? But no.
      Also, it’s gone unnoticed that the bolded title of the posting is a reference to the John Updike book Rabbit At Rest. Harry Angstrom and I are both retired to Florida and are unable to “stop nibbling corn chips, macadamia nuts and other junk food.” That’s a joke. And it’s not true, she said while eyeing the pile of pistachio shells next to the keyboard. I just thought the phase would evoke the memory of the very famous Pultizer-prize winning novel.
     But it doesn’t bode well, does it, for me to be utterly and completely irritated by the fact that total strangers (for the most part)  who cannot read my body language or see my facial expressions would not immediately get the admittedly obscure references that are so clear to me in my head. It might be a sign that the road to retirement contentment is going to be rocky.
     But I forge ahead. Now that I’m no longer a High Powered Executive Business Woman, I feel like it would be appropriate for me to be doing something kitchen-y. One of my Ponderosa lemons is ready to be plucked, but I’m a little afraid of it. Not sure I can face even a thin slice of it’s reported “extreme tartness” floating on top of a cup of tea or perhaps a tankard of gin, so I do have a plan to make Lemon Marmalade out of it.
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The small one in my hand is a red grapefruit. The big ones on the plant are Ponderosa Lemons.
    Wrinkle in the plan: I have never made marmalade before. So rather than taking a chance on ruining my lovely giant lemon which took about 8 months to mature, I’m going to make some sacrificial Grapefruit Vermouth Marmalade as a practice run. I just saw the recipe on the webs this week so it seems predestined, especially since I had the ingredients on hand. Those of you who know me in real life know that I am married to Mr. Sweet Rob Roy and we positively swim in sweet vermouth around here so all I needed to buy was 4 grapefruit. And some sugar.

 

     There we have it. I’m retired.

Patio Fruit Farmer Redux

CHAPTER ONE – Long-time readers will remember that I could not sucessfully farm a container Meyer Lemon Tree in NJ.

CHAPTER TWO – Sharp-eyed readers will realize that I haven’t mentioned the Brown Turkey Fig Tree in a container in many months. 

They’re both dead now.

CHAPTER THREE – Weary/sceptical readers are about to be pummeled with tales of my SUCCESSFUL Ponderosa Lemon Tree in a container. Look at this:

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Apparently, this plant is a cross between a pomelo (?) and a citron. The fruit is enormous. These two are not as big as some I’ve seen on the internet but they are approximately one coke can high, so pretty impressive. I have no doubt I’ll get to harvest ripe fruit this time.

But what to do with it when I do harvest it? All of the nursery sites that sell this tree describe the fruit as “extra tart!” and provocatively invite you to imagine “how many pitchers of lemonade you make from just one of these lemons.” This might be too much for me.

On the other hand, big lemons make for big dreams and so my dilemma is that I only have 2 lemons for harvest now. I’d like to cut one for fresh use, make one into marmalade and candy one for use in homemade panettone. I have never marmaladed, candied or panettoned before  and yet the success of this fruit farming has gone to my head.

It’s a new year which as you know is a blank tablet. I’m writing Ponderosa Lemons on the first page.

Also, this:

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Don’t want to brag but I’m also a successful Bird of Paradise farmer, so …

Super (?) Blooms

My brother-in-law has a green thumb. The last time I went to visit, he had one geranium in a big pot and it had at least 20 flower heads on it. No exaggeration – for real. I asked him what his secret was and he said #1 he’s got a lot of time on his hands to water and #2 he uses an organic fertilizer called Bloom.

So I went looking around for it and came across SuperBloom which is a Scott’s product and made entirely of lab-created chemicals. BUT it’s doing wonders for the plant growth and flower bud count. The lovely hibiscus that I let freeze and wither to 4 short bare sticks over our 8-day winter in NE Florida not only recovered but is thriving and loaded with buds.

The Birds of paradise are another story. I don’t want to get overly excited but I think one of the them is sending up a flower shoot. Maybe not, though. The Birds are reacting strangely to the fertilizer.  That same plant has now produced a Siamese leaf stem and both of them are sending up red spines instead of the customary white they’ve been making all along. Coincidence or Nuclear Power Plant Run-off effect?

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strange birds

That’s not going to stop me from using the stuff. I was raised in the age of Better Living Thru Chemistry  and figure that by now my body composition is 50% toxic chemicals anyway. And I’m not going to eat the things for heaven’s sake.

In other garden news, I created a very satisfying diorama featuring a resin sea gull. Truth. I memorialized it on Instagram.diaorama

This week I noticed that the carefully arranged sea shells were scattered and turned over. I blamed the guy who loaded that bed with mulch – until I caught the dog in the act of licking them and trying to make off with an oyster shell. He bashed his way through the ornamental grass to do it and I told him no so he left. The next time I saw him there, he sneaked in from the side behind the grasses. Odd,  because I scrubbed the oyster shells and let them dry in the sun for 3 weeks before I put them out, and the clam and scallop shells are from last year. How could they still be tasty?

My dog is good dog but still – he’s a dog. The lure of food in the wild is stronger than his desire to please me. He’s not going to win this one, though.

 

 

A Little Tuft Of Inflorescence

subtitled: Current Obsession: Fiber Optic Grass

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Perhaps you missed my recent Instagram announcement? This was when I was all charged up about giant Purple Fountain Grass. What a n00b!

 

The idea for a grass garden came to me about 8 days too late. I was still stuck on making an all- purple flower bed when I went to Home Depot on a dreary weekend morning. It was drizzling and I wasn’t wearing a jacket so I just went to look for a certain purple thing and was not inclined to browse around.

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I mean … really? Is this too far out to stock in a big box store?

[Let me just interject here to say that I live in a shopping desert and when it comes to plants, magnify that by 10. My choices for plants are Home Depot, Lowes and Walmart. They have what they have to sell you and don’t expect anything different or exotic. An example of “exotic” is a bronze leafed white begonia. They have green leaf white begonias and bronze leaf red begonias, but don’t try to get fancy by looking for a bronze leaf white begonia because you won’t find it.]

So on that day I met with my usual disappointment in Home Depot and as I was on my way out of the garden center, I saw a tray of something very eye-catching. It was a full tray of something I hadn’t seen before called fiber optic grass in 3 -inch pots marked at $2.98 each. I picked one up and turned it this way and that and thought to myself “That’s really pretty – too bad I don’t have any use for it.” So I put it back and left empty-handed. Imagine the irony – the one time that some semblance of reason drove my decision making.

I’ve been thinking about fiber optic grass ever since. I went back 8 days later and it wasn’t anywhere to be seen. I asked about it but as you might already know, the workers in Home Depot are lovely people but not useful to a customer in any way. I tried going back every 2 – 3 days and even went farther afield to other Home Depots but came up empty handed every time.

Finally, I came across a worker who looked somewhat managerial and had the following exchange:

Me: I’m looking for fiber optic grass.

Her: We don’t carry it.

Me: Yes you had it 15 days ago.

Her: Was it mixed in with the grasses?

Me: No it was on that table with the flowers.

Her: Oh we just got a delivery from that vendor. I guess they didn’t send anymore.

Me: Well, can I order some?

Her: No we can’t order anything. We just get whatever they send us.

Me: Well, when is the next truck coming?

Her: We don’t know. It comes when it comes.

Me: Isn’t there a delivery schedule?

Her: Nope. We just wait till the truck shows up and the next day the vendor rep comes and unloads it.

Me: …

This is why I always treat Sami to a colorful variety of sailor talk when I come home from a local garden center. Anyway, I turned my attention to other ornamental grasses to try and fill in the void in my life and now I know the difference between grasses, sedges and rushes. And I’ve got some of each now. I’ll show you a picture of the bed as soon as the sprinkler guy gets done frigging around and finishes the job he started for us in mid-March.

Fiber optic grass is hard to find even online. I can only see one place left now that still has stock for this year. For one 3″ pot, they want $15.99 plus $15.99 shipping. GLAD I GOT MINE THREE WEEKS AGO. It’s a tough little thing – I’ve already transplanted it three times and once I watched the sprinkler guy carry it around by its beautiful slender blades. It did well with my challenging gardening ethos of go ahead see if you can survive this. I hope it does as well now that I’ve treated it to genuine potting soil and a new container:

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xoxoxo

 

It’s just a baby. It’s going to get bigger and more burst-of-fireworks looking, God willing. I hope I can keep it alive. It is my love.

 

 

 

Middle Name: Excess

Corn-Glass-Gem-6639I bought a purple basil plant and it got me to thinking that I need 3 more purple basil plants. That’s how I do. I was cruising the internet this morning and found the most interesting website called Rare Seeds. They’ve got not only purple basil but orange-glo watermelons, black tomatoes and a really odd looking corn variety called Glass Gem. I am hypnotized. Now I forgot all about the purple basil.

Please talk me out of plowing up what’s left of my backyard lawn to make room for a crop of novelty corn.