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

The Bluebonnet Saga

Texas Bluebonnets in Mercer Arboretum

Texas Bluebonnets in Mercer Arboretum

All the Texans will immediately know what bluebonnets are but for the rest of the world they are a small, indigenous Texan wildflower that grows prolifically on verges or prairie in the springtime. My first thought was that they looked like little Lupines (and they are). When we moved into our brand new house, 11 years ago, we were delighted that our township planted the verges along the walking paths with thousands of bluebonnets. I think the first year everything was fine – we loved looking at them. By the second year, locals and outsiders alike had discovered that they could take the annual Bluebonnet shot (grandchildren sitting in bluebonnets) just north of Houston instead of going into the hill country.

Our street was outraged because if you sit on them, you kill them and they won’t come up the following year. All you could see were sad little broken stems. In a large area, they seed easily so there is not such a problem. Not only that, we had PAID for them in our outrageously high rates! One quick thinking neighbor put out an adorable little sign that said –

PLEASE DON’T SIT ON US. BLUEBONNETS ARE VERY DELICATE AND WILL NOT GROW NEXT YEAR. THANK YOU FOR BEING CONSIDERATE.

My sign would have been more like this –

GET YOUR RED NECKED IGNORANT ASSES OFF MY BLUEBONNETS – REVENGE WILL BE MINE. F*** OFF BACK TO YOUR OWN NEIGHBORHOOD OR I WILL GET MY GUN.

On the lighter side, my friend and I hatched so many nefarious plots to get rid of them that it kept DESPICABLE US amused during the slow murder of our bluebonnets. Her plan was the most achievable – we dig up a nest of fire ants and put them in the middle of the verge. I wondered about getting some snakes from my reserve but they might have killed them too. Blow darts are always a consideration in my mind (native ancestry, perhaps?) but I don’t know how to get the poison delivered. Do you think Amazon delivers that kind of thing? I think what incensed me the most that they actually blocked our street with their stupid red neck family vehicles.

This is not a Disney story – there is no happy ending. Over a period of years they systematically killed our bluebonnets. Finally, to our relief, the township decided that it was more sensible to seed a variety of wildflowers which change every year. As much as I loved the bluebonnets, I am just as happy with poppies, Indian Blankets, Indian Paintbrushes and the ubiquitous but cheery pink and red poppies.

The verges look like this now

The verges look like this now

A rosy rash of poppies!

A rosy rash of poppies!

Gattageo LLC

gattageo image

DRUM ROLL…….we officially launched our new company a few days ago. At Gattageo LLC we offer unique field trips to areas of geological interest to both non-geologists and professionals along with traditional services. Andy (aka Teddy) has years of experience in this field and has the capacity to make you excited about the earth, our landscape and natural monuments. I will provide the joie de vivre at visits to wineries and with funny stories…

All the photographs on his website are his own, he sells some through Getty Images, and a field trip will offer fantastic camera opportunities for this participants. I could not be more proud of the magnificent website he created with very little aesthetic input from me – although the name was my idea. Even if you have no interest in a field trip, take a look at the layout as it’s striking. Perhaps you could pass this information onto your company as it would be a perfect team building trip for people who sit in offices all day?

You will enjoy the bio page and learn a little more about Teddy and Bunny. As usual click on the red links to see the website.

Postcard from Fort Lauderdale, Florida

fort lauderdale waterway

Before I started this blog, I used to write travelogues much like the ones on Postcards from Kerry. I sent them to friends and family who are all over the world as a way of keeping in contact. As you know, Facebook is my bete noire, and I thought my PDFs were a tad more interesting… A few years ago I took a solo trip to Fort Lauderdale in Florida to relax with the excuse that a friend from Texas had recently moved there. I thought it was idyllic, so much prettier than Miami and less frenetic. The airport was small and friendly but my Haitian taxi driver had all the rude qualities of a Parisienne driver with no Caribbean chill. Whoosh, I was at my fancy Marina Hotel at brake fast speed.

Once I got my breath back, I was enchanted by all the waterways and canals. As soon as I put my shorts on, I set out to find the Waterway taxi which was at the end of the marina. There was the most magnificent sleek black yacht moored there and a friendly gentleman told me it was Stephen’s Spielberg’s. It certainly looked like something out of the near future. I was wondering why the men were particularly friendly until I realized that I was a hot, young chick (over 50) in an ageing population.

As usual I headed off in search of critters to the Hugh Taylor Birch State Park and I went the whole way by water taxi – it was so EXCITING!!! I wanted to see alligators but I have seen them many times before but fortunately I was lucky enough to see the threatened gopher tortoise in the park. Does that mean he eats gophers?

Fort Lauderdale Gopher Tortoise

Fort Lauderdale Gopher Tortoise

It was a hot day despite being winter and I was tired but happy sitting at the Waterway Taxi stop dangling my feet in the canal. I noticed a lovely yacht slow down, turn around and an attractive man asked me if I would like a ride anywhere. I looked at him, assessed his potential wealth, thought about Dexter and politely said, “No, thank you!” with a laugh. That’s the best pick up line I have ever had apart from when Teddy was offered myriad camels and the man’s mother in exchange for me. Given my lack of desire for cooking and the possibility of a good Egyptian cook, I could see my husband assess this offer in a similar manner!

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.

Resolution No. 1 – wash more…

kerrystripe163

I made my husband take this series of photos even though he was disgusted by me and Mrs. Stripe. Still taking it easy and after a fun social occasion last night I decided to stay in bed all day. Mrs. Stripe walked straight up the bed a couple of hours ago and started washing my hand. Then her nose wrinkled and she started washing my armpit. Clearly, Kerry needed a bath…

kerrystripe164

I really love my mom and am happy to do my duty.

kerrystripe165

Well, it was a dirty job but somebody had to do it.

You will be pleased to know (and my husband certainly is) that I have bathed, changed the bed, put on antiperspirant and a clean nightie. HAPPY NEW YEAR! I hope your resolutions are slightly less basic than mine. 🙂

Mrs. Stripe

2002

2002

Mrs. Stripe was the first cat we truly noticed in Cairo. We had left Britain with absolute certainty that we would never have pets again…freedom at last. Sigh. She was an exquisite cat, brown tabby with gorgeous titian highlights. We admired her beauty but left her to her own devices. After I had started volunteering at the cat shelter, I noticed that she was limping. I asked the Sudanese manager of the cat shelter to help my husband and I trap her so that we could take her to Dr. Farouk, the local veterinarian.

That sounds so easy, doesn’t it? Well, we trapped her in our bedroom and all three of us tried to catch her. It was Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. She must have been walking on the ceiling because how else did she spray liquid poo all over it, the walls, the carpet, the bed and the furniture? Time stopped, a la Matrix, but still we couldn’t catch her. We were all so traumatized that I called time out, while sobbing, and we all left the bedroom, leaving the door open for her to escape.

I was beside myself with grief, worried about her injury and certain that she would never visit us again. Why should I care when we were never going to have pets again…? The next day I caught my breath when I saw her coming through the hedge followed by two 6 week old kittens. I started crying because it was obvious that she was telling me that she couldn’t allow us to trap her because she had kittens to feed. So then we had Mrs. Stripe, Toffee and Treacle. Miraculously, her chase around the bedroom had increased her adrenaline so much that the injury had healed overnight.

If you would like to read more about Mrs. Stripe and our other street animals in Cairo please check out my Kindle book about our 2 years in Cairo during the 2nd Gulf War.
http://www.amazon.com/Letters-Cairo-This-memoir-travelogue-ebook/dp/B015JFY1F0/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1448745950&sr=1-1&keywords=letters+from+cairo

We still have geriatric Mrs. Stripe who is almost 14 years old, her daughter Toffee and another weird one that we picked up along the way. This time we said absolutely no more pets until my husband just named the outside feral cat that has recently had kittens. I am trying to feed her up so I can neuter and release her. After some argument (he wanted to call her Tess – really?), she has been named Katniss which is much more appropriate to her feral and predatory nature. On a tangential note, Mrs. Stripe has bad muscle deterioration from her early gymnastic life and now has to take Gabapentin. We decided to use some of our stock – we have a small pharmacy at home – but that involved opening a 100 mg capsule and dividing into 10 for a cat dosage. I was flummoxed but looked in amazement as my husband started using a pen knife to divide it up like cocaine. Is he having a Breaking Bad experience or did we just watch too much of it?

2015

2015