Landscape & Gardening

Black Lab + Tiny Pond = Muck-Up


Totally trashed: seven year old unnamed pond plant, brand new filters, brand new pump, lemon bacopa, dumped rocks and mud, and three scared fish. And where was the owner of this destructive critter? “Busy”. Entitled “busy”. My foot. I want my leash back and an apology. But when one is “busy”, one’s time is too important for such an endeavor. Hey, did you not notice me drenched from head to toe when you drove up in your brand spankin’ new white mercedes suv? Did you not notice the terrified next door neighbors’ 18 year old cat dying of heart failure? The cat that the your precious killer pooch decided to hunt down once she finished her bath. NO! You were more concerned about having to put a muddy wet dog into your fancy-pants-mode of transportation. Fortunately for you, you don’t live on my block. And where’s my leash? I know that you probably have a large collection of leather designer accessories for your well-trained princess and trophy husband and would not need my humble black-canvas-Petco-variety. So can I have it back?

Well, it’s all fixed now. Seven (unplanned for) hours later after searching, driving, buying replacements, and cleanup, I now have my pond happy again. It took several hours waiting for the mud to clear up before I could do a fin count. All three fish were still there and intact. Small miracle.

The above photo is of the replacement for the seven-year plant of an unknown name, and it’s called a Water Poppy. It’s perennial and will die back to its rootball in the winter and then reemerge each spring. AND it tolerates shade and constant water movement, unlike the lily pad varieties. I like this much better than the seven-year plant of an unknown name.

Film: Design & Architecture

The Divorce of Lady X


The Divorce of Lady X is a 1938 romantic comedy starring Laurence Olivier and Merle Oberon. This delightful slice of escapism, produced by Alexander Korda, was shot in three strip Technicolor, showing off both the expensive sets and Olivier’s green-shirt-and-brown-suit combo to best effect.

Most of the stills that I captured were from the first part of the film in Laurence’s hotel room. Between the colors, patterns, and textures, there was too much to take in watching it as a film. Fortunately for me, there are “ways” to get around this. And hopefully, I won’t get into any trouble for posting these stills. But I had to capture all of this eye candy and share it with you.

Landscape & Gardening

The Season’s First Red Spider Lily


Well, at least it’s the first in my garden. It looks like I’m going to have a whopping total of four Red Spider Lilies. Last year I had five. So what gives? And on top of that, since purchasing and planting them, it took two years before they bloomed for the first time. One must be patient when it comes to gardening and dealing with perennials. Especially perennials that can survive Dallas’s weather and temperature extremes. Between last year’s nine to ten months of El Niño accompanied with too much rain and too little sun and this year’s months of extreme heat and intense sun exposure, no wonder my plants don’t feel like performing the way I’d like them to.

Travel: Culture & Architecture

My Photo of the Visconti Family Crest


The last post linked you to Wikipedia’s page on the Visconti crest. Since that post was strictly about fig ivy, I didn’t want to include the above photo. So I’m showing it to you now. In it, you can see how the Visconti crest is interpreted on Villa Balbianello’s balustrade. It seems to me that the artists, rendering the crest in both locations, had problems creating the baby, and both figures ended up resembling a “man” child. Which is probably a good thing.

Landscape & Gardening

Fig Ivy Here and There

All the massive coils of ivy you see snaking along the walls belong to one single fig ivy plant. This is the veranda of Villa Balbianello. The villa overlooks Lake Como on the tip of a small wooded peninsula on the western shore, and this portion, the loggia, was built by Cardinal Angelo Maria Durini around 1790. It’s been said this loggia is where coffee was served for the first time in Italy.
All the massive coils of ivy you see snaking along the walls belong to one single fig ivy plant. This is the veranda of Villa Balbianello. The villa overlooks Lake Como on the tip of a small wooded peninsula on the western shore, and this portion, the loggia, was built by Cardinal Angelo Maria Durini around 1790. It’s been said this loggia is where coffee was served for the first time in Italy.

I joined The Institute of Classical Architecture & Classical America in September of 2007 on a two week tour of the Northern Italian Lakes, where we visited numerous villas and gardens. I could not pass up this experience knowing that a lot of these places are not usually open to tourists and that seeing all of them as an individual tourist would be next to impossible. This was the chance of a lifetime. The lakes we visited were first Lake Maggiore, then Lake Orta, third was Lake Como, fourth was Lake Lugano, and the last stop was Lake Garda.

I’m not posting this for its view and history. I want you to notice those huge snaking coils of fig ivy all of which belong to one single plant. Just one. I don’t know how many years it took to train it to its current shape. Speaking of snakes, the Visconti family owned this villa at one time, and their emblem/crest, which is carved onto the stone balustrades, shows a huge snake devouring a child. How they came up with that design is a mystery to me. Perhaps the Viscontis are responsible for training the fig ivy into its current serpent shape. But probably not.

Landscape & Gardening

Rain Lilies Everywhere


These rain lilies are the result of last week’s storms. There are bunches of them throughout my garden and front parkway. But because they are kind of on the small side, any photo taken of an entire spread of various bunches just does not do them justice. So, for me, focusing on a single group was the only effective way to photograph them. Enjoy.


An Old Building Survives


The Ladies’ Clubhouse at Little Sandy Hunting and Fishing Club in East Texas is one of those hidden time warps. To walk through its rooms and recognize that time has stopped is like some eerie dream. And it’s very important that I tread quietly so not to wake it, because the last thing I want is for it to follow me into my century.

Several years ago, I worked with John Crow Miller on a 400 page historical book for Little Sandy written to celebrate a century of seasons at the club (it had just celebrated its 100 year anniversary). And at that time, there was talk that the clubhouse would have to be demolished. But now, John has written to me to say that there has been a change of heart. He also included a bit of its history.

Interior Design

Traditional Spring Roller Shades


When it came to making decisions on window treatments for my the two bedrooms, I knew that I wanted the kind of window shades I grew up with in the 50s and 60s. The kind of shade we see in old black and white movies. The kind of shade your grandparents had. The kind of shade that feels like overly starched cotton. The kind of shade that wrinkles like paper and yellows in a funky way as it ages. Three years ago, after gobs of google searches, the only site that offered exactly what I wanted was The Handwerk Shade Shop. My six shades were custom-made at that time, so I don’t know if they are still taking orders. And today, just before typing this post, I did another google search and came up with the same results—pretty much nothing. There are plenty of the vinyl or plastic types, but nothing like what I have. Perhaps interior designers have their own secret sources which I’m not privy to.

In my opinion these shades are perfect for an old house like mine. During the day, I keep these shades uniformly pulled down to the first top muntin bar (also called the glazing or sash bar). I had noticed that in old movies the shades were always pulled to line up with a muntin. From the outside, my house’s windows give the impression of having sleepy eyes, since the front living and dining room windows’ roman shades are also pulled down to that first muntin.

If any of you out there, know of a source for this kind of shade, please leave the names and links in the comment section of this post, and I will include them in my future resource guide. Thanks.


My Home’s Historical Marker


In 2002, my house was one of the initial group of homes awarded a historical plaque by the Preservation Park Cities. The main goal for this marker program was to acknowledge and honor those properties that retained most of their original architectural character. Unfortunately, it does not carry any restrictions. I say “unfortunately” because I know that most folks here in Dallas don’t value historical architecture, much less a small home. And if I would need to sell (hopefully never), whoever purchases this property would most likely want to tear it down and build something bigger and badder. “Badder” does not mean “better”. It means “evil”, “bloat”, “greed”, and any other vice you can think of minus sex apeal. Well, anyway, that’s just my opinion. This plaque is just meant to give any future homeowner pause to reflect before proceeding with any possible destructive behavior in the name of immediate financial return.

Preservation Park Cities has now joined another group and is called by a really super long name, Park Cities Historic and Preservation Society. This group still awards plaques, but the design and shape of their plaque is completely different from mine. Regrettably, nothing these two groups have done, independently or jointly, has been able to stem the aggressive tide of teardowns. My neighborhood looks nothing like it did when I moved into my home in 1985. The charm and quiet are history. A beautiful memory.

Hopefully this will be the last time I write something mean and ugly on this blog. That’s not the recommended way to making friends with fellow bloggers. Or neighbors. Or fellow Dallasites. I am very aware that I’m a minority in my hood, because I’m single with no children and mow my own lawn. So if it upsets any neighbor that I don’t fit the norm, then let them be reminded nicely and with a smile that I was here first.

Now I must stop to water my garden, while performing the mosquito dance.

Landscape & Gardening

September’s Lilies

caladiums are trying to crowd out the lilies

Oxblood Lilies. Every year towards the end of August, the Oxblood Lilies make their annual show. But dang it! Because their foliage had died back earlier in the summer and not knowing where the bulbs were exactly (they tend to continually migrate toward better sun exposure), I AGAIN find that I have unintentionally planted summer annuals around them, and they just aren’t able to compete with the crowd. Will I ever learn? The bulbs planted in the front parkway among the English Ivy show up well, but not the ones in the west bed.

And then there are the Rain Lilies