Deathly Purple Rain

Prince - "Purple Rain"

Prince – “Purple Rain” courtesy of zwall.pix.com

It has been a sad week for the Houston area and now for the world with the early death of Prince, which ironically was his real name.

We were all taken by surprise by the sudden flash flooding in Houston that killed only 8 people, remarkably, but many thousands have had their lives ripped apart by houses that flooded. We seem to have only just recovered from the 10 year drought, which devastated land with forest fires, when the weather Gods has wreaked their wrath and havoc. The truth is that we just live in a time of unstable weather that will continue to affect us globally for an indefinite period. The higher the population, the more inclined we are to build on land that has flooded from time immemorial and in places where forest fires are a natural part of the ecosystem.

Houston flooding 2016 courtesy of Mark Mulligan, Houston Chronicle

Houston flooding 2016
courtesy of Mark Mulligan, Houston Chronicle

On the first day of flooding I had to go to the doctor’s office which is about a 15 minute drive away but past the overflowing containment pond for our neighborhood and then a massive reservoir for our city. It was truly a magnificent site with gallons of water flooding the forest across the road. On the way back I was concerned when I saw about 4 cars parked on the side of the road (which is narrow). I was concerned that there had been an accident and then realized these thoughtless people were taking photographs and making the road more difficult to negotiate. Every year in downtown Houston we get a drowning death in an underpass which has suddenly flooded but it looks like they are going to finally put automatic barriers at the worst sections. The city is at sea level, riddled with bayous (a fjord of sort) and endless rivers and creeks.

As usual, Houstonians responded to the challenge with their bass boats, canoes and rafts and were able to start rescuing people who were not in desperate need – the first responders were doing that. After the chaos of Katrina and the refugees from Louisiana, each evacuation facility had police to make it safe for everyone. I am so grateful that our house did not flood but it was scary watching the water rising in the ‘dry’ creek which borders our property.

I am a huge music fan but I don’t usually talk about it much on my blog but I was so shocked by Prince’s death that I wanted to write a short eulogy. Purple Rain has to be one of my favorite songs of all time but it was Prince’s persona that affected me the most. At first, I wondered if he was gay because he was happy to wear heels, make-up and unusual clothing. Nonetheless I was very attracted to him and sensed he was straight which since was confirmed. Another line in the song Kiss is “You don’t have to be beautiful to turn me on” and it really resonated with me. It was during a time of sexual discovery for me and he encouraged me to look beyond what normal was. See my post about sexual fluidity. There was a period when he changed his name to a symbol and I guess this marked a period of self-discovery. It seemed a bit odd to me and I think he struggled with his sexual identity and spiritual beliefs. He gave huge anonymous donations to a variety of charities and causes and lived a private life despite the craziness of the music world. RIP.

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Sinister flowers…

Oleander

Oleander

You might think that I dislike children from my last bluebonnet post but that is not exactly true. I adore perfectly behaved, clean, silent children… Curiously, most children seem to like me, a former nanny, and recently I told two young unsupervised children not to throw stones in the pond. They looked at me quizzically which made me wonder how often they were disciplined. I suspect that all young animals respect boundaries and instruction.

The exquisite Oleander bush above has amused me for a decade. It grows gloriously right in front of a kindergarten and it is one of the most poisonous sub tropical plants. I often walk past when the children are out playing and I wonder if any of the patient carers have ever been tempted to make some oleander smoothies. You would have thought the landscaper would have planted something different. 🙂

kindergarten

I noticed that my exquisite pineapple guavas flowered this week – aren’t they adorable? I always thought the fruit was ornamental but have now discovered from this wikipedia post that you can flavor vodka with them. Woo hoo! They are not really guavas but a member of the myrtle family.

Pineapple Guava

Pineapple Guava

Finally our glorious hibiscus bushes are in full bloom in the street. In Egypt, vendors would go around the streets selling hibiscus tea which apparently is good for high blood pressure. It looked delicious but where did the water to make the tea come from??? Sinister tea!

Pink Hibiscus

Pink Hibiscus

“Sixteen turtles sitting on a log”

16 turtles

This is my final post from Mercer Arboretum in Houston. They have a beautiful pond, full of turtles and fish, within the grounds. This is the most turtles I have seen sitting on the log in a decade so I guess they had fun making baby turtles? Spring Creek is a short distance away with some alligators. I have often wondered what happens at night and do the alligators wander up for a turtle crunchie (they eat them like Doritos) but I think they have enough food to eat down in the creek.

These are red-eared slider turtles and unbelievably they can live for 50 to 70 years! The females don’t mature until they are 5-7 years old. I had great fun watching a baby with her mama, following her around incessantly. I imagined she was saying, “snack, Momma”, but maybe that’s just normal. They were very cute. Happy Easter

Momma and baby turtle

Magenta and Yellow color palette

yellow and magenta

This is a continuation of my last post about Mercer Arboretum in Houston. Each season they choose a color palette and Spring 2016 is yellow and magenta, as you can see above. It never ceases to amaze me that they can imagine this color combination in so many varieties of plant. Truly a work of art in a garden.

pink magnolia

I was particularly struck by the beauty of this deep pink magnolia blossom. Disappointingly, it didn’t have as strong a scent as the natural cream ones but aesthetically pleasing, nonetheless.

magenta and yellow 2

A beautiful border with shades of yellow, magenta and purple. If you knew the colors in advance you could wear the perfect outfit but perhaps a neutral tone would work best with these vivid colors.

Downtown Houston

midtown water
It can be hard to sell Houston as a tourist destination but it is a great place to live. For any of you who have just stopped on a layover or a brief visit, you may not have seen it’s beauty among the many freeways and suburban sprawl. These photos were taken when we stayed downtown (midtown is really part of downtown) to go my work Christmas party in December – so look at that weather, folks!
sidewalk cafe houston
Many of the restaurants have lovely sidewalk patios which come alive when the downtown workers finish work.
skyscrapers downtown
Although we have large skyscrapers in downtown, it has a very quiet and peaceful feel and unlike other parts of the city has nice sidewalks. The view from the top of some of the buildings is spectacular. You can see for miles around as it is a coastal plain with many attractive bayous that are filled with fish, turtles and alligators.
trees downtown
We even have beautiful trees, everywhere! It is subtropical so they just grow and grow and grow. Come visit some time, the folks are friendly. 🙂

Burning Bush

burning bush

When on our Thanksgiving walk yesterday I spotted this ‘burning bush’. I remember biblical references to it and assumed they were allegorical. I found this Wikipedia reference that was illuminating – get it??? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burning_bush

In real life the bush was within the bullrushes alongside the containment pond but it’s autumnal coloring stood out amongst the pale stalks. I almost expected to find a basket with Moses in it…:)

What struck me most was how amazing nature is. Enjoy this post Thanksgiving photograph.

One sleep to Halloween….

TREE LICE SILK1

This is the Halloween story I promised following the Cougar and the Cherokee blog – https://chattykerry.wordpress.com/2015/10/01/the-cougar-and-the-cherokee/ I had gone into our local hardware store to speak to the master gardener about a strange webbing all over our Live Oak. Both my husband and I thought that it was a very industrious spider but then the web was literally all over an oak tree that is as tall as our house. I was chatting with a friend who queried whether it could be something harmful like a silk worm.

To my astonishment, the master gardener brought up some photos on her computer of the perpetrators and their web – it was bark lice. They are amazing little friends of nature. Live Oaks attract lichen because of their open bark and this can kill the tree. The bark lice eat lichen so they come as a landscaping team – probably speaking Spanish – cover their web all over the tree, eat the lichen, roll the web back into a ball and take it with them to the next tree. Isn’t that fantastic?

Here is a link to more information about them. http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/galveston/beneficials/beneficial-41_barklice2_Cerastipscus_sp.htm

I looked very hard for Ernesto, Adelpho or Pedro but I couldn’t see the little stripy critters under the webbing. I hoped it would last until Halloween and I could cover the tree in fake spiders but their job is done and our tiny landscapers have moved onto another tree. Nature is full of joy and mystery.
BARKLICE2