Archive for the ‘Lake Gaston Area’ Category

Very similar to Spring Cleaning but occurring one or two weeks later, “Plant Day” has always been one of my most pleasurable household chores. Plant Day is that particular moment in time when all wintering indoor plants are moved outdoors for the summer. A kind of healing quest where, over time, all the winter-damaged miscellaneous plants of every description are carried outside (dead and yellowed leaves forming a Hansel & Gretel bread-crumb pathway through every doorway in the house) to a screw-hook fastened to a wizened tree or overhead porch-space, with a garden hose outlet nearby. So it will be today at Lake Gaston. One by one, the south-side houseplants are removed from their dangling chains and crowded tables, transferred to a seasonal space out-of-doors where varying degrees of sunlight soon perform a triage of sorts. Out comes the kitchen scissors amid screams heard only by me, as lagging shoots, roots, and leaves are snipped off in a massive shearing operation not unlike that shared by draftees at boot camp, sheep farms, or possibly even guillotine inductees. But after a while the screaming subsides. A positive type of attitude adjustment is occurring, one that works quite well in tightening up the ranks of straggler or confused plant limbs and dangling vines. By the time evening trickles through the leaves of nearby oak and maple tree neighbors,  the indoor house plants will have become OUTDOOR house plants, no longer flinching when I walk by browsing casually through their foliage, looking for last-minute edits, like a needle-wielding dentist. By nightfall most wounds will be healed and plant-heads will be carefully exploring their new surroundings, murmuring semi-contentedly to themselves just loudly enough so I can hear — new night sounds melding with the screeing of tree frogs, hoot-owls hooting, and the flap-flaps of bat wings chasing insects overhead.

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(originally from 2001)

Is that a Duck?

I received a phone call last week from a creditor who was inquiring about my recent change of address. It seems I had forgotten to inform the Texaco credit card folks of my move to Lake Gaston, and they were politely wondering if the current North Carolina charges were, in fact, my own doing.

On that particular morning I had taken the call on a wireless phone. I was sitting on the dock enjoying a cup of coffee.

“Excuse me… but is that a DUCK I hear in the background?” asked the account representative.

“Yes, it is,” I replied, heading to the house in order to examine my most recent Texaco credit card statement. “I’m now living on a lake,” I explained. When I got to my office I sat down next to my computer, where I had left a Microsoft Golf game program running. Several of the MS Golf course holes often use a life-like “RrrriBBit!” sound effect to distract you (usually during a back-swing).

“Excuse me,” the voice interrupted again, this time hesitantly. “Is that a FROG I hear in the background?”

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Spring on Lake Gaston

With the mild type of winter we’ve had here in North Carolina, it’s hard to feel that Spring hasn’t already happened. March came in like a sacrificial lamb, and even though it’s long gone, there’s still a passive bleating going on out there that’s becoming more and more like a whimper. The daffodils near the edge of the lake are thoroughly confused, as are the azaleas—now in full bloom. Leaves have puffed out from tree branches like lime green popcorn. (I would think the maples and oaks have been fooled by unseasonably warm weather before, and are smart enough to know better. But they are actively frolicking like children in the warm afternoons as well.)

But for now, everything seems right, and even though the mad prance of Spring seems to have passed like a ghost, I’m sure there’s a surprise or two greening just around the corner.

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A while back I mentioned a tiny plant Mom had received from one of those 1-800-SendMomaPlant holiday florist-type shops. Sent to her for a Valentine’s Day “IrememberU” gift by a granddaughter, it was a small, 6-inch, green-foil-wrapped potted gardenia whose tiny buds were miraculously in full, miniature bloom.

Like most such live potted love-plant gifts, it was doomed to a slow, windowsill death.

On the last morning of my Valentine’s Day visit, Mom said, “Why don’t you take this plant back up to North Carolina with you and plant it somewhere safe rather than letting it die, neglected, in my room?”

When I got home, I set “Gertie the Gardenia” on a living-room table that had a bright, Venetian blind-protected Southern exposure: right from the start, Gertie was happy. In the winter months — with the sun very low on the horizon — she blushes like hell sitting adjacent to “Ollie”, an indoor oregano plant, with whom she has become (I suspect!) a bit more than just good friends. As the years passed, and seeing how well she had adapted to her indoor home, I transplanted Gertie several times, until she sits — even as I write this — in a 25-inch pot.

Valentine's Day Love-Plant with Lots of Blooms 2B

Last time when I told you about Gertie, I mentioned how great she smelled when she was in full bloom. And that — yes, indoor gardenia plants do, indeed, bloom. “Pictures!” you all cried out. “Show us PICTURES!”

Well, by golly, and since I never forget, take a look at Gertie, who has just begun one of her robust blooming campaigns that will last for a month or longer. Sometimes, she does this more than once a year.

Just thought you’d like to see what can be done with one of those “doomed to a slow, windowsill death” Valentine’s Day love-plants. (Okay, I admit it. In-between bursts of around-the-clock spiritually cleansing fragrance, Gertie asked me to write today’s story.)

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I don’t want this to sound like a “you know you’re living in the twenty first century when” chain email, but a friend of mine called a while ago saying he was looking at a new house. He, his wife, son and daughter live near Kerr Lake (pronounced “car”), on the western end of Lake Gaston. Water flows through the Kerr Lake dam, feeding Lake Gaston. Although the Kerr Lake water level may fluctuate twenty or thirty feet, Lake Gaston always remains at about the same level.

“I found an eleven acre farm, Tim,” he said. “House looks real nice. Everyone’s excited. Big trees, a barn, lots of garden space. Real nice. Gotta go talk with the real estate agent.”

He called back about three hours later. “How’s the house?” I asked.

“Forget it,” he exclaimed. “It’s so far out in the boonies there’s no cable modem service. Then I called to check on DSL and they laughed.”

In all fairness, my friend works out of a home office instead of commuting to and from Raleigh every day, a two hour drive each way. A large part of what he does relies on a swift company link in both directions. I suggested a satellite system similar to one I used to use, but a satellite upload is comparable to dial-up speed and not fast enough for his needs.

My friend’s reasoning got me to thinking about how completely the weft and woof of technology has been woven into the everyday tapestries that make up our lives. To think that Internet connection speed and broadband availability could affect such a monumental decision as buying a new home is, well – mind warping. But it’s certainly something to check out before making the plunge.

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“And the Moon be Still as Bright”*.

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If I Just Listen.

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