Thursday, August 10, 2017

Of Gothic Moonlit Gardens~~~~

Dear Darklings,

What is it with the weather???   Yesterday it was overcast and chilly cold that even the dogs decided to snuggle in their doggie beds together, which is something they rarely do.   And I had to wear a sweater (black of course), it was so nippy.

Now it’s overcast in the morning and sunny in the afternoon but barely above 70.  And this is supposed to be the Dog Days of Summer, you know like Hot August Nights and all that stuff. 

Not that I want to get overheated, there is a limit. 

I’ve been talking to my gardener and I said I’d like to do a Gothic moon garden considering that the overabundance of rain rotted out my blubs and other plants so I’ve been letting things sort of even out and rest. 

He suggested that I plant white plants that is blubs and flowers that are white, and soft grey foliage and replace those roses that have died with roses that produce white blooms, as well as night blooming jasmine, and moonflowers, evening primrose, night phlox,  and 4 o’clock.

I found out that other night blooming plants (depending upon what zone you live in) include  Queen of the Night which is a type of catus with  exotic white flowers with undulating petals that open only at night, it looks a little like a water lily set upon upright green fronds.

Now there are some that are dangerous even toxic if eaten by pets and children such as  Night Blooming Jessamine (Cestrum nocturnum), Angel’s Trumpet (Brugmansia) the scent is intoxicating on warm summer evenings

 Flowering Tobacco (Nicotiana)  it smells like jasmine but you need to use Caution because all parts of flowering tobacco are toxic if ingested so if you have children and pets that like to nibble plants you might want to avoid this one.

There’s also  Evening Stock (Matthiola longipetala)  A wildflower originating in Portugal and Spain, they release their heady perfume, described as a mix of vanilla, rose, spice, and cloves.

 Ever-Flowering Gladiolus (Gladiolus tristis) this has buttery cream petalled flowers perched atop a twisty stalk. They release a strong almond fragrance after dusk.  Of course one has to have  Lilac (Syringa vulgaris), even if it’s blooming period is short.

Summer Snapdragon (Angelonia angustifolia), because its long-blooming upright 8-inch spikes resemble those of the popular dragon flower it’s available in several hues, the “serena white” variety is the best choice for a moonlight garden.  It has apple-scented foliage, this will stay in bloom from June to September.

Matilija Poppy (Romneya coulteri) is lovely but you need to prune frequently but great for ground cover.

And you’ll need plants that have a silvery sheen to them to pick up the rays of the moon like  Silvermound (Artemisia schmidtiana), Japanese Painted Fern (Athyrium niponicum ‘Pictum’), Jack Frost (Brunnera macrophylla) White Trillium,  and Lamb’s Ear.

And we also have Climbing Hydrangea (Hydrangea petiolaris)and  Alba Plena Camellia (Camellia japonica ‘Alba Plena’) it has exquisite overlapping petals in snowy white, the alba plena camellia is commonly referred to as the rose of winter since it blooms from late fall until early spring.

It is recommended that along with night-blooming and night-fragrant flowers, adding plants that will shine under the stars is the crowning touch of the moonlight garden. You’ll want to select showy flowers in white or other cool colors like light blue, soft yellow, and lavender and be sure to include reflective non-flowering plants to create a diverse range of textures, shapes, and sizes.

Of course this is helpful if you have a garden even a tiny patio if you have a ground floor apartment, but if you don’t find out from your nurseryman which plants will grow well it pots to have on your apartment balcony to enjoy on those warm summer evenings to engage in your Gothic moon viewing as you read “Dracula” or one of the “Twilight” novels by candle light.

My artist friends directed me to someone who can do small concrete skulls for me with slightly different “grins” on their faces, and with metal armature do skeletal hands breaking out of the ground.  He recommended not too many, it would be better that they are a sudden surprise but not where anyone could trip over them,  and with my outdoor pond I’ve been stocking it with mosquito fish and having the water circulating to prevent mosquito's from hatching, and floating white waterlilies, at least with those fish if they get eaten by the cats I can replace them for free.   

My gardener suggested that maybe the evening stock and the poppy be used where I have my pet cemetery as ground cover,  so I have a lot of planning for my Moon garden and hope to have it fully in place by next summer  so we shall see.

Later Darklings.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Of the Dog Days of Summer, Open House and Vampire Cowboys~~~~

Hello Darklings,

Well it is the “Dog Days of Summer”,  and we’ve been having heat with monsoon humidity and now it’s just warm with a breeze.

But during our heat wave both Belladonna and Weiner Dog, were panting even with the fan on them and water close at hand with ice cubes in it.    Everything with the humidity felt sticky,  so cool cotton, and large sun hats were needed.

I haven’t been posting much of late, getting called in to cover for staffers, but now with vacation almost over and parents buying clothes and supplies for their children things are creeping back to normal.

We had a grass fire up in the hills and sad to note that it was arson caused,  the smoke made breathing difficult, I was sneezing a lot, fortunately Cal-Fire got it knocked down quickly, but still it’s frightening.

My brother and family have come back from their long vacation up north staying mostly coast side to take advantage of the cooler weather, but up in Canada there was a million acre fire burn and in one phone call from them it was difficult to breath at one point so the drove closer to the coast where the ocean breeze helped.

They’re back now, getting uniforms, going to appointments, getting school schedules, but they plan on going south for the weekend to the Beach Board walk in Santa Cruz, get in some of that old-fashion Summer-time fun.   But the children promised to go no further than up to their knees because there might be sharks coming closer inland.

I showed the children what I’ve been able to get for their lockers and in school supplies, My brother reimbursed me, but Christopher was happy with what he can do to organize his locker and Coralline was thrilled I was able to find the same things in Gold as well as the battery operated chandelier to light up the interior of her locker.   

Coralline is getting around a lot better with the compression cross-brace but she has to ice her ankle every night, it still swells up from time to time.   She and Christopher are looking forward to this school year, to see how things will go, but the twins are not looking forward to it, moaning that they can’t have fun and instead are going to be doing the dreaded homework.  

I’m feeling a bit sad today,  one of our long time neighbors are selling their house and going to move to Idaho, to a small town that has what they are looking for low crime, good schools, good after-school programs for the grandchildren,  affordable, good medical and a quaintness that has been lost in big city living.    Their son and daughter in law and their two children had been living with them for over a year, they had to leave their apartment because the rent went up and they couldn’t find an affordable place to live.   The Grandparents were fed-up with the craziness happening in this state and when Anthem-Blue Cross said it was leaving the state they too felt it was time to get out of town.

So today was open house for their property, so many people looking but one thing that is a bit off-putting for the house is that it does not have off-street parking, the new owner would have to park their car(s) on the street, so I’ll see who will be willing to buy the house, but I heard it had a sale price of nearly ¾’s of a million dollars, that nearly made me faint.   But it also told me that I’d have to plan my estate very carefully to see who will get my Great-Aunt’s home.

Our neighbors Crazy Son is home again, and for the last few months had been behaving himself, taking his medication,  but last week he went off the rails again ranting and carrying on, at 1 in the morning.  I called the Police because he was disturbing the peace and his sister was having a hard time with him.  The police took care of him, taking him in for evaluation.

I talked to the sister and she said her Father wanted him home thinking he’d be fine, so he was discharged,  Lovely I thought.   So we’ll see if he has to go back into the care facility.

At the end of September if I can I think I’ll do another wine tour but just a week I think,  I want to be home in October to decorate for Halloween.

But I have been discouraged at not finding more Gothic things.

Although last night on TV on Svengoolie he showed a vampire western---yes Dear Darklings a Vampire Western,   it was called “Curse of the Undead” 1959, with Eric Fleming (of Rawhide)  and Michael Pate as the  gun fighting vampire.    I have to say that the plot line was good as well as the acting there was nothing “cheesy” about it.   It did what “Billy the Kid Vs Dracula” (1966) couldn’t do.   Michael Pate even made the cowboy vampire seem both to be pitied and yet feared.  And he had a great line "Oh the dead don't bother me, it's the living that gives me trouble".

I’m not sure if I have it among my collection of vampire movies, but if not then I’m going to get a copy.  Who thought a cowboy Western Vampire movie could be so Gothic.  But this one is.

And now Sis has come by with dinner for us, take out Chinese, yes when you don’t feel like cooking but don’t mind driving take out Chinese is the way to go.

Later Darklings

I just found out I can buy a reprint of this poster,  I think I will and have it framed.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Going back to School~~~

Hello Darklings,

No not me, Thank Goodness.

My brother and sister in law asked if I would be kind enough to purchase the school materials the children would need when School goes back in session.

And they gave me the list of what they do have and what needs to be replenished and the money to buy it with (Thank You very much).

Stuff for the boys is easy enough, although Christopher asked if I could find a magnetic mirror for him to put into the inside of his locker,  the twins teased him and said he has a girl friend, well more like several girls have a crush on him, he says he wants to look presentable around his friends.

Coralline just rolled her eyes but did confide to me that while she was recovering at home several girls that know Chris came by the house,  supposedly to study.  And they commiserated with her about her broken ankle,  but she said that she could see they were there to flirt with her older brother.

He still keeps an eye on her and helps her, but she is getting better, but the way she told me about this was funny.  

I did find the magnetic mirror, plus a magnetic shelf to hold a comb and Tic-Tacs and anything else he might need,  It came in a pewter color,  I also got a set for Coralline in gold for her locker as well,  and a replacement battery operated chandler, her old one got broke when those thieves stole stuff from their house.   And a few other gold accented things for her for school, to cheer her up, no sense having school be drab for her.

They left a few days ago and fortunately where they are going there are no wildfires,  I was on pins and needles about the one burning near Mariposa, near Yosemite.   But I heard on the news that the mandatory evacuation of the historic town has been lifted, the town was safe but people did lose their homes.   Some friends of mine who live in that area called me a few hours ago and said they were one of the lucky ones, their home was spared.

I am planning a trip towards the beginning of October, to the wine country again, I'm hoping Doyle can come with me, but if not, well I'm use to traveling alone.   Although I don't think I'll buy as many varieties as the other time.  I've seemed to settle in with a few that I like.  But one never can tell.

Or I may go to Columbia State Park, in time for one of their Ghost Tours, and considering bookings I think I better start planning now.

And now I'm preparing for another heat wave,  fans are out, plenty of water bowls for the dogs.  And now Sis has come by for a late dinner, she's been working hard, but I think I'm going to try and persuade her to take a mini-spa vacation with me.  Just have to think where to go.

Later Darklings.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Of Voodoo Beer and Cemetery Travels~~~~~~

Hello Darklings,

I know, I haven't posted for a while.

Well as usual I got called into work while some of my former colleagues took vacations.   And of course their children's graudations.

I've really retired but I'm on call when needed, but I do have to let the bosses know when I'll be out of town so they can plan accordingly.   I have to say the extra cash helps nicely, but eventually I'll be needing to say that I am officially "gone" .

I've also been having some maintenance work done on the house, an upper bedroom window got accidentally broken when Doyle was installing the screens, at least he didn't get hurt, and we've been putting in stuff to make sure that there are no mosquitos developing in the cisterns.

And adding a few more orchids to the green house,  the indoor Koi pond looks beautiful I find it fascinating how they come up to feed right out of my hand.

My brother and his family took their RV to Pleasanton for the County Fair and they timed it just right when the major part of another heat wave had passed, Coralline can walk a bit she's on a figure 8 elastic cross brace but after 3 hours she has to remove it so my brother arranged for an electric wheelchair to help her get around,  she can walk around the RV carefully without the brace, but she uses a cane to steady herself.   She still is afraid of walking up the stairs inside the house, but can manage the few steps outside, with someone's help holding her hand. 

I did have a chance to visit them at their RV at the Campground near the Fair I stayed overnight and got to see the All Alaskan Pig Races,  those little porkers have their own air-conditioned trailer where they retreat to between races.  And the Funnel Cakes!!  I have to admit even being Goth you do have to indulge in a little old fashion fun.  They also made arrangements to go back this weekend to see the demolition Derby's.   Sort of like seeing the Car "Christine" getting crushed by a Caterpillar Tractor.

They had Brian, Sis's room mate house sit for them and I would check on him from time to time to see how he's doing.   They've made arrangements with him to house sit while they travel up north to the Trees of Mystery and they are hoping that by the end of August they can go to Santa Cruz and do the Boardwalk Amusement Park.  But it not then they will cruise around and camp at Big Bear Lake and just relax and if need be scamper around in their Jeep to see what there is to see.

A lot of it is based on how well Coralline can walk and what her Doctor will allow her to do. 

I have been looking for "Darkish", Gothic things to talk about but for some reason things seem to be barren at least for now,  but I did ask Doyle that since the 4th of July is over can we go ahead and put up the Halloween decorations.   He of course rolled his eyes.

But all is not lost I found an e-mail news letter and blog called "Cemetery Travels"  the author Loren Rhodes goes around or her fans seek out interesting Cemeteries to tour,  and of course what can be more interesting than touring Cemeteries, I would call that the Perfect Goth Vacation.  And her web site accepts submissions for others to read,  if you have not signed up to receive her e-mail news letter or have read her blog here is its link:    

Another thing during the Summer time is to take the Ghost Walk tours that a number of cities offer, we have one here in the Bay Area called the San Francisco Ghost Walking Tour  this is their link  and there is also the San Francisco Chinatown Ghost Walking Tour  their link is    (if the links don't work just Google in the names and it will come up)  of course the various ones offered in New Orleans.

Doyle's boss gave him a case of Beer called Voodoo Ranger IPA---what a perfect beer to offer on a warm summer night!   I mean it's a skeleton wearing a ranger's outfit on the label.  

Oh yes I know how does it taste?   Well its
flavor has notes of pine, grapefruit, biscuit malt,, pears, lemongrass, cantaloupe melon, spices, toasted malts, resin and lots of tangerine followed by a dry and bitter aftertaste. It feels much lower than the announced 70 IBUs, though the bitterness grows with time.  It's lightly sweet at first with the perfect bitterness at the end.  Doyle says you can't really feel its alcohol but it's not overly sweet.

I suggest that you try out a 6 pack for a taste test and see how you and your friends like it for a Gothic beer.    And now its cool enough to take Belladonna and Wiener Dog for their walks.

Later Darklings

   This is called a Dracula Orchid,  I'm hoping to find one or two to add to my Greenhouse