Thursday, July 29, 2010

Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay...

I've been thinking lately about Mobile Bay, probably because of the recent oil spill and the potential for resulting damage.  It appears that the bay has dodged a bullet, but it got me to thinking. What do I really know about Mobile Bay?

The bay has salt water from the Gulf of Mexico and fresh water from rivers. This combination of fresh and salt waters is called an estuary, which is home to many fish, shrimp, and crabs.

Even though Alabama's coastline has only fifty miles of beach, it has the fourth largest river system by volume in the United States.

Mobile Bay is approximately 31 miles long; its widest point is 24 miles across; the average depth is only 10 feet.  Since the 1800's a man-made ship channel has been in operation, thus creating an international seaport for ocean going vessels.

Sailing on the bay

Sun beginning to set

What a lovely sight!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Check your Zipper!

Here is a picture of one of the banana spiders in my back yard with the 'zippers' in its web.  These are the strangest things I've ever seen!

What in the world are those white zipper things?

Monday, July 26, 2010

Heard Any Good Books Lately?

Yes, I said "heard."  I have to confess, I love audio books.  My only problem is that I can't stay awake long enough to finish even one cd, so I wind up playing them over and over again until I'm done. 

Right now I'm enjoying some of the works of David Baldacci. Who, you ask?  Did you ever see the movie Absolute Power, with Clint Eastwood and Gene Hackman?  The movie was based on the book written by David Baldacci. It was Baldacci's first novel.

Let me just say up front that I love mysteries and suspense, first and foremost. If you haven't seen this movie, you should.  BUT, you should also read the book, because it's NOTHING like the movie.  I'll leave it at that. The book is great and so is the movie!

Now, back to David Baldacci.  Born and raised in Virginia, he received his B.A. from Virginia Commonwealth and his J.D. from the University of Virginia. After practicing law for nine years, he tried writing.  It took three years to finish Absolute Power, and another two years to find a publisher.
In addition to serving as a national ambassador for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, he founded the Wish You Well Foundation, which promotes literacy.

The book which I just finished is called Divine Justice.  It includes members of the "Camel Club," which consists of  an assorted cast of characters, including a former CIA assassin. 

If you are interested in learning more about Mr. Baldacci and his novels, please check out his official site here:

You won't be disappointed!

Problems with Blogger

Is anyone else having problems with their background and/or templates?  I finally got my bumblebees back, but this has been an ongoing problem since late last week. I'm just curious.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Along Came a Spider...

Sometimes I think I have entered the world of Little Miss Muffett when I wander around my yard. As anyone who lives around here can attest, the invasion of the banana spiders is in full force. Also known as golden silk weavers (due to the color of their webs), they are actually harmless, at least to people.

I went around outside and tried to get some good pictures of the ones who are inhabiting the trees, the carport, the front porch, etc.

Chiquita #1. Her web is in a tree that extends downward to the bridal wreath shrub right next to my deck stairs.

Is this something she's wrapped up or is it part of her?

Chiquita #2 and #3.
Look closely and you can barely see the golden threads of the web. This is in the carport.

Chiquita #2 near the garage door.

One thing I've learned--they seem to like to build their webs suspended between areas where I like to walk.  If you don't like where they have built a web, you can knock it down with a broom handle and they usually will build somewhere else.  That happened with the one on my front porch. She was TOOOOO close to my front door so I knocked down her web.   Now she's moved over about three feet.

The worst thing is walking into one of these webs.  They are unbelievably strong. Although I've never found a spider on me from walking into a web, there was one occasion where I ran back inside and took a shower because there was so much web in my hair. That was the only time I felt that way.

I found a very interesting web site that has lots of  information about banana spiders. Here is the link:

Did you know that there are theories about banana spiders being predictors of hurricanes?  Check out this web site for more information!

I sort of hope that we don't have to prove that theory any time soon, though.

My daughter's got lots of spiders too.  Actually these are just a few of mine, but the pictures of my other Chiquitas just didn't turn out very well.

Seven Years in Hell

As a POW held captive by the North Vietnamese, Denton was used as a propaganda tool. In 1966, a television interview was conducted, in which it was expected that he would condemn the U.S. policy in Vietnam. Prior to the interview he was tortured in an effort to guarantee a favorable response.

The interview was conducted by Wilfred Birchett, a well-known Communist author. During the interview, Denton was asked by a Japanese reporter if he agreed with U.S. policy. His response: "I don't know what is happening now in Vietnam. because the only news sources I have are North Vietnamese, but whatever the position of my government is, I believe in it, I support it, and I will support it as long as I live."  This was NOT the anticipated reponse.

 The interivew was aired on ABC television in May of 1966 after being sneaked out of Vietnam by a Japanese journalist.  During the interview it was revealed that Denton was using Morse Code by blinking his eyes to signal the word T-O-R-T-U-R-E.

Denton's punishment for this interview included all night two-hour torture sessions, which even brought some of his captors to tears.

On February 12, 1973,  Denton was released. He acted as spokesman for the first group of POW's returning from Hanoi to Clark Air Force Base in the Phillippines. His comments upon arriving safely: "We are honored to have had the opportunity to serve our country under difficult circumstances. We are profoundly grateful to our Commander-in-Chief and to our nation for this day. God bless America."

Denton later released a book about his years as a POW.

In April of 1973 he was promoted to Rear Admiral. He served as the Commandant of the Armed Forces Staff College in Norfolk, Virginia, until his retirement in 1977.

But there is still more to the story.....

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Let Me Call You Sweetheart...

Everyone should have a 'sweetheart' rose.  I was fortunate enough to inherit one when I bought my house.  It sits just inside my fence next to the driveway.  Its botanical name is Rosa, "The Fairy." It's easy to see why.

It started blooming a couple of weeks ago, and will continue on through the summer with no encouragement.
Even though the blossoms are not fragrant they more than make up for that in their simple elegance.

A Rose by Any Other Name....

Although not really a rose at all, the tuberose has a deliciously sweet aroma, with enough heaviness in it so as not to be very 'perfumy.'   It's a member of the amaryllis family, and thus, a lily.

After all the rearranging in my front yard, I still have one tuberose left, which has risen proudly on its 3+ foot stalk each July for the last several years.

First you don't see it, then you do! That's how quickly this plant grew. It's right next to my hydrangea by the front porch, so I probably should have noticed it before it grew to this size.

I know there are single and double tuberoses...mine is a double, I think.

The blossoms are like little trumpets, and they have such a wonderful scent.  It's sort of like jasmine, but not. I know that doesn't make sense, but that's the only way I can describe it.

There are so many buds, and they don't all open at once. That helps to prolong the fragrance for several weeks.

This picture was taken over a week ago, and the flower is still blooming. Its stalk is quite tall; almost four feet, and does need help staying straight.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Lily of the Nile

Better known as the aganpanthus, and sometimes called the African Lily, it is truly a thing of wonder, especially as it prepares to bloom.  My daughter has these lovely plants all around her garden.  I recently kept taking shots of one as it prepared to open.

The seed pod had opened, allowing all of the petals to emerge.

Now they are finally free!

One greate thing about agapanthus is they don't need to be staked. Their stems are very sturdy.

Each little blossom has its own place on the 'sphere.' The flowers together form a round bloom. It reminds me of a starburst fireworks. And the shade of blue is so soothing and calming.

Friday, July 16, 2010

What Color Blue is This?

This is my lace-cap hydrangea, which is in front of my porch.  I just don't know what to call this color. Any ideas?

Look at these little bud clusters! Sorry they are a little blurry.  They look like little blueberries!

The process of bloom is amazing to watch. Each little ball becomes a petal.

In this picture the little balls look like blue cauliflowers.

This gives an idea of just how large this bush is.

Bloom wearing down; you can barely see the porch.

Buds just beginning to form.

They were greenish-colored at first.

This was when the foliage began to emerge after its long winter sleep. I was really glad to see this after the cold January we had.

No wonder I was worried. Look how pitiful!

The little leaves are barely showing. Never did I dream that this lovely shrub would produce such gorgeous blossoms and foliage.  I should learn to trust Mother Nature.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

My Glads Make Me Sad

Gladiolas are so lovely. But I simply cannot manage them. When I first bought my house I went crazy buying all kinds of bulbs, including glads.  I have some purple ones that come up every year and promptly fall over.

This poor glad is leaning on top of a nearby day lily.  These purple glads have come up every year for the last four years. Now I ask myself: why purple?

If you like to see gorgeous bulbs, go to the website for American Meadows. This pretty pink glad came from their catalog.

American Meadows also has a Biltmore Collection, featuring varieties grown at the Biltmore Mansion in North Carolina.  The next two photos are from that collection. These didn't bloom last year at all. In fact I had forgotten all about them until I saw them blooming a few weeks ago.

It pays to walk around my yard every day. I never know what I might find!


This is my Gloriosa lily, also known as the flame lily, and climbing lily.  One of my worst habits concerning my garden is to buy something on impulse, with no clue as to how it will do or fit in.

I saw a photograph of the gloriosa lily in a catalog last year and ordered three.  They bloomed again this year, even better than before. I will definitely order some more for next year. After the hard freeze in January I wasn't sure they had survived, but they did indeed. 


Come on, you can do it!

At last!

Their stalks have little tendrils that will attach to whatever is nearby. One got tangled up with the nearby bridal wreath.  They really don't need staking, though.

I like them because of their height. They grow above the fence, which is about 3 1/2 feet high.

My daughter and I saw a house with these on either side of the front sidewalk. They were absolutely gorgeous.

Simply glorious!