Tuesday, April 28, 2009

I've Done It Again

Yep. It's me. Baylee. Mom is letting me write my own letter to everyone from her blog. I hurt my paw paw again. The same one - right back paw paw. Mr. Dick let me and mom go running with him and Cody in the old RV park. There's nothing there now except places for us to run and sniff, like where the fishermen dump fish heads. I like it there. Cody and I can jump in the lake and drink the water, and we can get our own sticks to chew and smell where critters have been. I get to eat all kinds of good things except that mama yells at me and tries to get it out of my mouth. It's been great fun running off mama's leash and smelling everything, seeing everything. Except last week I got into something that cut my paw paw open. The same paw paw that was hurt last year. Cody and I tried to be good but we both have sore paw paws now.

Mama is getting me another bootie from the Thera-Paw people, but this time it'll be custom made 'cause my boo boo is kinda in a weird place. She also ordered me some indoor slippers for when I'm not outside wearing my outdoor bootie. My mama takes good care of me.

So, I just wanted you nice people to know that my paw paw is hurt again but the Thera-Paw people are sending my mama stuff to help my paw paw heal. But it still hurts a lot. I don't like the medicine mama has to put on me, but I don't mind putting on the booties so much. I think they make me look good. Cody thinks I'm cute in them. They do look nice with my fur.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Chris Botti Review

Here we are; the self-proclaimed "Botti Babes," posing with the lobby poster before heading to our seats in Birmingham, Alabama, to see Chris Botti and the Alabama Symphony. I'm to the left in Botti-acious Black, Carroll in Bluesy Blue, and Bobbie in Musical Mango....ha! We arrived early and checked out all the tables that were set up selling various items. Bobbie bought Chris's new "Chris Botti in Boston" CD but those lobby prices were expensive. Walking to our seats in Portal 1 the usher kept walking closer and closer to the stage - we had seats on the 2nd row and didn't even realize it. Chris came out on our side of the stage and would retreat to our side (stage slightly left) when other musicians were being highlighted. We were at least 10' or less from him at any given time. I'd say we were in heaven.

The Alabama Symphony played about 30 minutes, then introduced Chris and his band. WHAT a BAND! OMG. Mark Whitfield on guitar, Billy Kilson on drums, Geoffrey Keezer on keyboards and a new upright bass player I didn't recognize who reminded me a lot of a younger Neil Young in appearance.

Billy Kilson - drums

Guest appearances were made by Lucia Micarelli, violin, and Sy Smith, vocalist.

Mark Whitfield - guitarist

After the show nearly 4,000 people queued up for Chris Botti's autograph. Since I didn't need another one - ahem - we just mingled with the band and crew and looky-loos. In doing so, we got to chat with nearly everyone who performed. Mark Whitfield, above, guitarist, is one of the most personable guys whose personality fills the stage and room. His new CD, "Songs of Wonder," highlights and pays tribute to Stevie Wonder.

Geoffrey Keezer - Piano - and our friend Bobbie

I was not familiar with Geoffrey Keezer until this show. Normally, Billy Childs plays with Chris but his tours are so lengthy that he must regularly substitute with other players. The piano was on our side of the stage and this guy rocked the songs. The piano is literally an extension of his body and spirit. He talked with Bobbie and me for a long time while we watched the line snake around Chris. Geoffrey Keezer also has a new CD out called "Aurea," which is heavily influenced by global jazz.

Cutie Patootie Mark Whitfield again...

Carroll played the role of paparazzi as I couldn't take the big camera in - or so I thought. At this little meet and greet EVERYONE had a camera except for me and Bobbie, or so it seemed. Most were using their cell phones or iphones. Every time she would take a photo of Mark he would stop what he was doing, smile and wink at her. Nice guy.

Mark rests as Chris signs autograph number 2, 683...

While the musicians are meeting the crowd, signing autographs and winding down from the show, the road crew is breaking down the equipment and packing the instruments and gear on their various buses. Chris told us that when they finish up tonight they'll pile into buses and drive all night to West Palm Beach to play a concert the next night. Chris Botti and his band play an average of 250 concerts PER YEAR.

Not being a musician I cannot speak the lingo and give you a knowledgeable musical review. However, what I can tell you is that the difference in this band since the last time I saw them live - 2006 (front row!) - and Friday night is astonishing. The band has morphed into a cohesive personification of musical energy. They're tight and loose all at the same time. That they are friends is obvious. That they respect each other is refreshing. They play off the audience at every chance, and Chris always plays to each child who attends. The funniest moment I've ever witnessed at a concert was after Sy Smith's vocal number that brought the house down. Even members of the symphony were bobbing their heads and tapping their feet - lol! Standing ovation with yells and whistles and stomps and thunderous applause. When we all finally sat down Chris was laughing. A little girl on the 2nd row had slept through the entire thing. He had his stage manager come out and take a photo to send to the mom. Geoffrey Keezer got up from the piano to take a photo with his cell phone. They were so charmed by the experience and talked to the mom from the stage, who obviously wasn't able to stand for the ovation. It was a "really moment." (Sting fans understand that phrase)

If Chris Botti and his band come your way please do yourself a favor and check them out. You will not be disappointed.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Road Trip

Chris Botti

I'm off to Birmingham to see one of the most gifted musicians I've ever had the pleasure to meet - Chris Botti. He's currently touring the country playing with various symphonies. His new CD, Chris Botti in Boston is a treasure and treat for your soul.

I first became acquainted with Chris Botti's talents through Sting, of whom I am a fan. From that point I began collecting his CDs and have seen him twice. The above shot is three generations - my mom, Kayla, Chris and me when he played the historic Princess Theater in Decatur, Alabama in 2006.

Chris Botti is a gentleman. One of the nicest people on the planet. He's genuine - none of the fakey, plastic smiles and platitudes one normally receives in the presence of celebrity. Kayla played saxophone in the band at that time, and I'd gotten us front row seats to the show. He was very nice to me and my mom, thrilled that we were there together. However, he took extra time with Kayla and talked with her about music and her goals. While his management team was frantic due to the line of people waiting for autographs he was nonplussed and spent about five minutes of his valuable time speaking directly to her. His passion is kids and music, and always speaks of it in his shows.

My horribly lit front row shot

If you ever have the opportunity to see Chris Botti play you should do so. He is absolutely amazing. Treat yourself. That's exactly what I'm doing this weekend so I'll not be on-line. I'll be in heaven!!! Have a great weekend everyone!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Happy Earth Day

Plant a tree
Organize neighborhood cleanups
Start a Conservancy
Teach your children
Clean up after your pets
Use native plants when possible
Conserve water
Be less wasteful overall

How will you celebrate Earth Day today?

Monday, April 20, 2009

Sky Paintings

Sunday. I'd spent the day in town with my best friend celebrating her birthday despite torrential rains and thunderstorms. We had a lovely time and the drive home was dicey and slow thanks to standing water, water flowing over roadways, flooding and hail. Pulling into the driveway the sun broke through the clouds, blue skies dimming in the sunset. I ran in to see the family and leashed Baylee for her walk.

I was astonished by the westward clouds. It was as if a horizontal tornado was twisting and turning slowly in the sunset. Dark clouds beneath and above and to the north, this sunset tornado was golden and apricot and saffron in the winds. I ran in to get my camera as the show was beginning to fade. Baylee had to wait.

I'm no meteorologist but this sure looked like some of interesting weather phenomena.

It was as though the clouds themselves were raining particles of themselves as they twisted and turned.

The sunset spotlighted the extravaganza.

This only took about five minutes.

It occurred to me just how like the Eagle Nebula this phenomena appeared to me. Sideways and lighter and closer, but no more amazing and awe-inspiring.

This sight appeared to be so much like those of the Hubble telescope that has captured countless images of cloudy miracles in deep space.

So beautiful. So etherical. So inspiring. I feel so insignificant.

The eastern clouds and storms wanted me to notice them, too.

Downloading and uploading these sights, I'm also reminded of sea creatures - Chambered Nautilis and Sea Sponges, Squid and ocean waves and all many sea creatures Jacques Cousteau never identified in his day but showed us in film.

Sea and Space, Earth and Clouds and Water...all combined under the title "Nature," or "Cosmos" or "Universe." It matters not.

I'm almost without speech when I see these amazing cloud formations. As much as I love trees, and I do, not being able to see the sky's sunrises and sunsets would take away much of my joy.

A friend of mine admonished my blog for being random, but I swear to you I cannot think of one reason to stick to only one subject when there is so much beauty in this world. So random I shall remain and I hope that's okay by you. If not, I'll miss you but shall continue to enjoy the random beauty of this world while I can.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Spring Photo Journal

Popping outside to check the yard, I was thrilled to see things blooming (and living) after our recent torrential rains and gale force winds. I love rain. The gold berried Byer's Gold possumhaw has a few tiny blossoms but will soon be filled with them...and the wasps and bees that help with pollination.

The gold berried possumhaw is a delightful vision and it literally buzzes with life all day long. My other possumhaw, the Ilex Decidua, may actually live, I think. She took several hits from severe weather and last year was very stressed, as evidenced by blooming and berrying at the same time. Many branches died, and her trunk now leans due to wind damage. She needs some help this year - some gentle time to heal. She's leafing out again, and I'm hopeful.

The variegated weigela is simply stunning this year. A neighbor gave me this plant several years ago. It was just a sprig at the time, and rather sickly. He'd ordered two and one wasn't doing well so he thought he'd give the second one to me to see if I could save it. To this day, he covets my weigela. It is huge and gorgeous and stops traffic when it's in full bloom - one of my favorite shrubs.

This weigela is located in my east side bed next to the garage. This bed came together without a plan, but is one of my favorites. The colors, sizes and textures just work perfectly here. The photo below is looking at it from the street toward the lake, which you can barely make out in the lower left above the grass. The doublefile viburnum is in the back. This huge, 8'x8' shrub filled with solid leaves and bright white flowers is the perfect backdrop for the two other plants. The variegated weigela is in the middle a little closer to the garage, with long drooping limbs that dance in the winds that funnel through this opening. In the front is a Japanese red maple which was a seedling from my mother's yard. I just love this combination.

After enjoying the east side yesterday morning I walked around the sidewalk heading inside to download the photos. The winterberry was blazing in the early morning sunlight, and it's new leaves were poking up between the bright red berries.

These photos don't quite do it justice, but the sight just took my breath away. You just had to be there. Birds are flocking to these shrubs now, eating the berries and enjoying the safety of their location.

Soon, the Cedar Waxwings will be here, and the Tree Swallows will come through on their usual migratory path. Monarchs are already heading north, and more and more butterflies are being seen. I've heard the hummingbirds are beginning to show up. The big questions are 1) will the Baltimore Oriole build a nest in my tree again, and 2) will the Great Crested Flycatchers nest in the dead branch once more? We've been watching the Mockingbirds frolic, the red-headed woodpeckers wooing, the finches building nests, the killdeer protect their nests, the doves flit and fly, chasing each other, and bluebirds call to each other. I love Spring!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Purple and Chartreuse

My mother's front bed is exploding colors of deep burgundy-blue-purple of some special barberry and the bright chartreuse with red tips of a mounded spirea. The combination is breathtaking.

The barberry's tiny white flowers attract honey bees, which were working hard yesterday.

The blue glass garden globe complements the barberry and spirea.


The spirea will soon bloom tiny lavender flowers as the white flowers of the barberry fade. Within weeks the Virginia Sweetspire in the back will be draped in white columns of flowers. Her yard is so beautiful that cars stop to gaze at the colors.

I just had to share the beauty. Enjoy your days.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Lilttle Cypress Natives in Florence, Alabama

Native Azalea buds

Today I celebrate the turning tide in this country, maybe the world, toward using native plants. The gardener's mantra is "Right Plant - Right Place." I've made so many mistakes in my gardening career but have found that following that rule makes gardening so much simpler.

Carroll and I traveled to Florence Saturday afternoon to one of our favorite places on the planet - Little Cypress Natives. Harry & Linda Wallace live in this gorgeous wooded area flanked by wide open, green fields. Down the road is the historic Forks of Cypress plantation built by James Jackson who long ago was president of the Alabama Senate. That's another story entirely for another post one day. For the purposes of this post it's enough to note that Little Cypress Natives nursery is located on land once owned as part of the famous plantation.

Harry and Linda became enchanted by native plants when they built their home here. Over time their hobby became a thriving business. The best part about their nursery are their home grounds overlooking Little Cypress Creek. You can hear the creek waters running while strolling pathways that wind through their native gardens that sport huge rocks, moss, unexpected resting areas and, of course, native plants. It's extremely helpful seeing these plants in various garden settings as you can see how they grow and what works well together.

The resident cat, Dick, is a charmer who loves to be loved on and makes kitty biscuits while softly purring. Dick the cat nearly came home with me, but I figured Harry & Linda might miss him so I let him be.

Harry just put this new redwood swing deep in the grounds. A jasmine laden trellis grants shelter complete with heady floral scent. The old push mower adds a humorous touch while Dick looks on.
The view from the swing - Little Cypress Creek far below the hillside.

Another place to rest and enjoy nature.

Yet another place to rest. Beside this overhanging porch is a little stone waterfall that Harry and Linda had installed that rambles over stones and gives the birds a constant source of water. It's nice to listen to as well while one takes in the view and listens to the birds.


Simply enjoy.

The native azaleas are beginning to bloom now.

Garden pathway with Little Cypress Creek visible on the right.

After our gentle saunter through the woods we return to buy plants.
Thanks Harry & Linda (and Dick)

Happy Easter everyone.


Related Posts with Thumbnails