Friday, December 31, 2010

Here's to more Toastin' 'n Postin' in 2011! Happy New Year, Dear Reader . . . and Happy First Anniversary to my First Blog . . . The Last Leaf Gardener

Tonight on New Year's Eve, after I do some "home deliveries" of my New Year's herbs (that I have harvested from my roof-top extension urban garden, and which I've blogged about in a previous post), I will go to Central Park to watch the fireworks and the Midnight Run, but first let me wish my readers a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year and to thank you on this blog's anniversary for your support: "Here's to more toasting and posting!"

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

"Rosemary is for rememberance"

Patricia Youngquist uses words and images to tell stories about her passions. Based in New York, she currently is authoring a series of nature books on birds of the city. Now in Apple’s iBooks store @ https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/words-in-our-beak/id1010889086?mt=11

This is the 363rd day of 2010, and there are only two more days of this decade (in the Gregorian calender) after today passes. The promise of the onset of a new year is an occasion for me to send a card to people who bring meaning to my life. 

While you may not have time to go on my on-line viewing sources to choose a card for you to do the same, I do have a beautiful selection of cards in the store-front pages of my web-site, and I hope you will make it a New Year's resolution to reach out to your colleagues, friends and family from time to time by sending them a card for the array of events that  are bound to occur during the course of  the new year for all persons.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Monday, December 27, 2010

"poignant omissions"


The recent snowstorm buried my roof-top extension urban garden in blankets of snow, as seen in the photograph at the top of this post. The composition isn't so great, but it is a good indicator of how much snow fell last night if you compare it with the photograph in yesterday's post. The heavy snowfall was accompanied by thunder and heavy winds, so I have not ventured into Central Park to see if there are snow sculptures. Central Park is quite close to where I live, and it is lovely when quiet from the snow. The stillness and quiet brought by such a heavy snowfall normally fills me with peace, but I confess I did not feel much peace today on this third day of Christmas.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

" . . . and so this is Christmas, and what have you done?"

Patricia Youngquist uses words and images to tell stories about her passions. Based in New York, she currently is authoring a series of nature books on birds of the city. Now in Apple’s iBooks store @ https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/words-in-our-beak/id1010889086?mt=11

During the mid-morning, today, Sunday, December 26th, the day after Christmas is Boxing Day to some, Kwanzaa to others and the second day of Christmas for me. 

As I walked to the assisted living center where I do volunteer work every Sunday morning — and where I spent part of my Christmas yesterday — as discussed in yesterday's post , snow was falling lightly, and an elderly woman pushing a shopping cart was walking up the street shouting, "Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow! We shoulda had this yesterday! We shoulda had a white Christmas!"


What the woman may not have realized was that we were having a white Christmas. The Christmas season, for some who celebrate it in New York City, ends on January 6th, the twelfth day of Christmas, with the Feast of the Epiphany, and is honored with a parade down Fifth Avenue near East Harlem. This event is held annually, and includes animals such as camels and donkeys, in an effort to commemorate the visit of the three kings to the Christ child. It is also the day some cultures exchange their Christmas gifts.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Thoughts on the Creators of Photo-Albums


If you have been following this blog, you know that I create, produce and sell greeting cards for all occasions that are about more than communication. Many of these works are based on my original prints and all of these items can be viewed on my web-site where purchase information is available. Perhaps my inclination to  design cards comes from my mother, who for the first nine years of my life designed our family's Christmas cards beginning with the one of yours truly posted above this entry.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Day of Christmas Eve with a special posting: SOME WRITER!


It is the morning of Christmas Eve 2010, and in the spirit of giving and sharing, I am providing this 'extra' December post that contains one of my favorite Christmas essays by E.B. White, who gave me such joy as a child by bringing the fictional characters of Wilbur, Fern, Avery, Templeton and Charlotte into my life through his beautiful book, Charlotte's Web, which Santa left under the tree for me one dark Christmas morning. Today in honor of E. B. White, Charlotte and her web, I've posted an image of a spider's web at the top of this post — because the days when I first met Charlotte, I  suppose I was looking for someone like her as I needed encouragement during those dark days, and, E.B. White provided it for me through her.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Following up on Brian Lehrer's Question: "What are you putting yourself through to get to where you are going on Christmas?"


Yesterday on The Brian Lehrer Show (WNYC, AM Radio), listeners were invited by Brian Lehrer to call in with an invitation to "tell us the lengths you're going to in order to get to family and friends this holiday season. Are you taking a super long flight or multiple forms of transportation? What are you putting yourself through to get to where you are going on Christmas?"

The invitation to do this was prefaced by Brian Lehrer telling us the great lengths his producer was going to to get to the island of St. Johns for Christmas.Hard to top going to St. Johns and the oh-so-cool itinerary that Lehrer's producer would be following, but, thankfully, a couple of callers did.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Winter Solstice


As most people know, the 2010 winter solstice will occur tonight December 21st, 23:38 (11:38 PM), Universal Time. The winter solstice is the darkest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. However, it also signifies the coming of lighter days and often brings on a festive mood. Religious leaders have used the coming, of more light as an analogy to Christ's coming bringing more light with his birthday celebrated on December 25th, Christmas Day. It is a comforting thought on the surface for believers, unless one thinks about that too long. For isn't His  birth proclaimed in a hymn's lyrics as "joy to the world?" Not all of the world experiences the December winter solstice in this manner. For example, our Aussie friends and Brazilian comrades are usually in the midst of summer at this time. The various ways to perceive ideas are never ending, as the illustration (posted above) by Dennis Kitchen — though not based on the solstice — depicts.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Honoring the Season of Feasts with Hakonechola Macra (Japanese Forest Grass)

Patricia Youngquist uses words and images to tell stories about her passions. Based in New York, she currently is authoring a series of nature books on birds of the city. Now in Apple’s iBooks store @ https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/words-in-our-beak/id1010889086?mt=11

Today is the Fourth Sunday of Advent, a season that began on November 28th 2010.  Dennis Bratcher writes,"the fourth candle of the advent wreath is lit on this day and the light of these candles reminds Christian believers that Jesus is the light of the world — the light that comes into the darkness of people's lives to bring newness, life and hope. It also reminds people that they are called to bring light into the world, and to reflect this grace to others. The progression in the lighting of the Advent candles symbolizes the aspects of waiting, as the candles are lit during the four week period, it also symbolizes the darkness of fear and hopelessness receding as more and more light is shed into the world." Even though I have done volunteer work by bringing Holy Communion to the homebound every Sunday, as well as special feast days, for the past five years, I confess I still struggle with having the faith Bratcher describes.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Oh, kitchen armoire, oh kitchen armoire, how lovely is your surface . . .


The image posted above is a photograph (taken in my kitchen) that shows some details of the 'winter-time garden' that I keep inside during the winter season. This "garden" is comprised of my less hardy outdoor plants that I bring into my apartment (from my roof-top extension urban garden which I go to great lengths to winterize.

I have also created a line of greeting cards based on some of my past roof-top extension garden winterizing endeavors. These cards are quite special to use for sending holiday wishes. They are part of my petite wrap-around card collection

A sample of a petite wrap-around card from the winter collection can be seen below:


As for the plants that I bring inside, I place them on top of humidity trays (placed below a cold/warm light system that is connected to a timer then suspended) that are filled with pebbles. This method is a great way to preserve the humidity and to keep the plants happy during the winter months.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Home for the Holidays

Patricia Youngquist uses words and images to tell stories about her passions. Based in New York, she currently is authoring a series of nature books on birds of the city. Now in Apple’s iBooks store @ https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/words-in-our-beak/id1010889086?mt=11

As part of this year's winterizing my roof-top garden, my Fagus sylvatica (Beech Tree), 'housed' in a lovely container, was removed from where it had been placed in what had been a frame for a table.

You may recall what I wrote about this in an earlier entry and if not, please click here. In any event, the reason for moving the Fagus sylvatica was that it was located at the extreme northwest corner of my garden and very exposed to nature's elements.

With winter-like temperatures setting in, I had to protect it by having the container wrapped twice in bubble-wrap, then 'sealed' with burlap (from on-line fabrics) tied tightly with jute, and then butt it up against the southeast portion of my roof extension garden. All the plants alongside where the Fagus had been located were treated in the same way and moved as well, where they could all huddle together, but placed in such a way as if they were sitting in an audience and each needed a good seat to see what was happening.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Lighting a Fire Inside the Heart . . .


"Christmas is not in tinsel and lights and outward show. The secret lies in an inner glow. It's lighting a fire inside the heart. Good will and joy a vital part. It's higher thought and a greater plan. It's glorious dream in the soul of man." (Wilfred A. Peterson) 

It is only December 13th, and Christmas is 12 days away, but from all the frenzy of various tree lighting celebrations (which I have blogged about in a previous post) that sets crowds clamoring in New York City where I live, it is  hard not to get caught up in the often chaotic atmosphere of the city.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Special Unscheduled Posting: In Honor of Colleen Elizabeth Ormond


One month and one day ago today, on Veterans Day, November  11, 2010, Colleen Elizabeth Ormond (pictured above with the family dog, Hero), died at the age of twenty-five. I learned of her death late that night, not even a week after my post about November being a month of remembrance for those who have died, and for those who mourn them.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Today has a "Count Down Date" : 12-11-10, Finish Winterizing!


The  photograph above was taken about six weeks ago, on October the 27th 2010, in the afternoon prior to my presentation at the Apple Store on 67th Street and Broadway in New York City. (I spoke about the presentation in two previous posts which can be accessed by clicking here and here). 

I took the photo from the roof of the building where I live, to have an aerial view of my rooftop garden. I also wanted to have a full view of my garden to include in a "pitch" that I was requested to submit to someone who works for a well known public figure.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

"When I find myself in times of trouble . . . Mother Mary comes to meet me . . ." Consolation of Strawberry Fields


Yesterday, December the 8th, was the  Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It was also the 30th anniversary of John Lennon's murder, and just as it is said that people of a certain age remember what they were doing when they received the news that John F. Kennedy was assassinated (as I blogged about in a previous post), it is said that most people of a certain age will remember what they were doing when they received word that Lennon was shot and killed in New York City, just outside his home, a half a block away from where I now reside.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Remembering December 7th, 1941



Taking time out from blogging and other activities for moments of silence to remember those who lost their lives as the result of the attack on Pearl Harbor, sixty-nine years ago today, and also for honoring those who lost their lives and loved ones in the war that followed.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Ignatius's PURR-fect Posting


Hello, dear reader, My name Ignatius the Cat, and I belong to a priest (or should I say he belongs to me heh . . , heh. . . . heh). He  probably calls me Ignatius for Saint Ignatius, but I won't tell you what I call him. In any event, he is always taking pictures of me (for obvious reasons) so when I found out about The Last Leaf Gardner Blog's posting about painted rocks with cats as the 'subjects,' and that the artist who rendered them did custom rocks from photographs, I made sure I would look right into the camera when the priest took a photograph of me — for I knew, upon seeing my picture, the priest would not be able to resist having a custom rock made in honor of me.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Lighting of the Actinida Kolomikta and Actimidia (Kiwi Vines) Soirée: Alternative to Crowded Tree and Menorah Lighting Celebrations


Happy December! There are so many celebrations this month, in New York City: many tree and menorah lighting events mark the onset of Advent, Chanukah, and Christmas.

This past Friday, November 26th, 2010, the Friday after Thanksgiving, (which I referred to as Blue Friday in a previous post), the South Street Seaport had a ceremony for the lighting of their Christmas Tree beginning at 6:00 PM. 

The sportscaster, Jill Martin, played hostess to the festivities, which included a marching band from Brooklyn, characters from the Big Apple Circus, and jolly old Saint Nick. I'm told that Saint Nick posed for photos at no charge while performers who included Darlene Love and The Big Apple Chorus sang traditional holiday songs; and they were even joined by Rudolph (with his nose oh-so-bright) as well as Frosty The Snowman.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Chekov's Olga Seregeyevna Prozoro and me. Remembering my father's last days.


Following up to yesterday's post, I will tell you that my father did not leave the hospital on the "Monday after Thanksgiving," as he had hoped to do, which is indicated in the audio playing during the video clip in that post. Instead he was still in the hospital on the "Monday after Thanksgiving" and declining quickly. He died a week after that Thanksgiving — November the 30th, fifteen years ago today at 7:35 AM, due to complications with septic shock.


The year he died, Thanksgiving Day was November 23rd. He had evidently recorded a tape (that is being played in the movie-clip in yesterday's post) on the eve of that Thanksgiving, November 22nd — the day Kennedy was assassinated thirty-two years prior — as I recalled in an earlier entry.

My father had been in the hospital due to consequences brought on by severe emphysema, which was caused by his intense Pall Mall cigarette smoking. Although he had quit smoking a few years prior to his death, his wife continued to smoke. He insisted her second hand-smoke did not bother him, and even through his wheezing, as he was declining severely in health, he joked that when he died, the tobacco industry would raise the price of cigarettes in a phenomenal way, saying they would begin to miss his revenue.

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Monday after Thanksgiving


My father can be seen in this photograph playing the frying pan. His brothers are accompanying him with their instruments. Perhaps those earlier musical endeavors gave my father his apparent "love" for pop music. Most people when recalling my father's antics will remember him for having his own takes on "Top-40" music hits. For example, with the song, "I Never Promised You a Rose Garden," the lyrics go,"I beg your pardon, I never promised you a rose garden . . ." but my father's take on it was,"I beg your pardon, I never farted in your rose garden . . ." 

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Upcoming Feast Days: Chanukah & Advent Shattering Darkness Part Two: Advent


What I posted yesterday bears repeating especially since this is "part two" of that entry so to reiterate: "It is good to reflect on the symbols of light and hope that mark the Jewish Feast of Chanukah and the Christian Feast of Advent, a time when Jews and Christians use the symbols of candles and lights to shatter the winter darkness."

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Upcoming Feast Days: Chanukah & Advent Shattering Darkness Part One: Chanukah


It is good to reflect on the symbols of light and hope that mark the Jewish Feast of Chanukah and the Christian Feast of Advent, a time when "Jews and Christians use the symbols of candles and lights to shatter the winter darkness."

Friday, November 26, 2010

How was your Thanksgiving? — Blue Friday. "We all have our private hell . . ."


It is Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving when many people do their holiday shopping. As I ask various people, "How was your Thanksgiving?," some of the answers make me think it is really Blue Friday — as in feeling blue. An owner of a wine shop told me "at least mine wasn't with any family . . ."  These words prompted me to recall a Johnny Carson quote: "Thanksgiving is a time when you get together with family or friends that you usually see once a year and discover why you only see each other once a year."

Thursday, November 25, 2010

What Scarecrows Teach About Thanksgiving


I caught a glimpse of the scarecrows pictured above as they were relaxing. They had done their job for the year: watching the fields of crops that provide people everywhere with bountiful harvests at Thanksgiving and always. They are smart, these scarecrows; even though a famous one vowed that he "didn't have a brain." The scarecrows are smart because they know they need their 'comrades' to do a good job and to enjoy life, as these two appear to be doing.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Dagwood Bumstead goes the tech route!

Copyright 2010 by King Features Syndicate, Inc. World rights reserved.
Dagwood Bumstead, the "protagonist" of this comic strip, Blondie (which has appeared in newspapers since 1930) is continually evolving with the changing times and trends. Dagwood has always been open-minded. After all, Dagwood married Blondie when she was a "flapper-girl" which caused him to be disinherited from his upper-crust family, and as a result, he continues to work for a salary he finds to be insufficient at J.C. Dithers Construction Company. While Dagwood still has his long-established routine of long baths and midnight snacks, he is not set in his ways. Dagwood's personal telephone has been upgraded from "a candlestick style to a modern dial phone, to a touch-tone variety, and he currently uses a cell phone — something I've yet to do!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Coming Week: Recalling November 22nd

In a couple of days it will be November 22nd, a significant date in the minds of people of a certain age who will often recall what they were doing on that  particular day in 1963, when they first heard the news that President John F. Kennedy had been shot. In my case, I had stayed home from elementary school that day and was watching As the World Turns (ATWT) with my mother. My mother identified with Lisa, one of the main characters who was a divorcee. At that time, I did not know that my mother would become a divorcee, but I should have surmised this might happen, with all of the arguments that occurred between my mother and father.


Be that as it may, on November 22nd in 1963, my mother and I were watching ATWT,  and listening to the characters, Nancy and Grandpa, discuss their Thanksgiving plans —while my mother fretted about how we'd spend ours. Suddenly the television program was interrupted, with a special report that President John Fitzgerald Kennedy had been shot. From that point on the television would be filled with scenes from the motor-cade in which Kennedy had been riding, the subsequent shooting of his assumed assassin, Harvey Oswald, and of course the funeral. However, when I first heard the news on November 22nd 1963, I wondered what was happening at school. I was one of two students in my class of thirty pupils, whose parents did not support JFK. A few years prior, in 1960,  Kennedy had campaigned heavily in Carpentersville, the town in the Fox River Valley where I went to grade school, so I was well aware of my parents' political beliefs.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Voilà! It's Nouveau Beaujolais Day! Sarmentelles and Thanksgiving


During Thanksgiving time, I appreciate the shapes and textures of the gourds that enhance my urban garden's environment during this time of year, as seen in this photograph posted above of an assortment of gourds (from the greenmarket), which have been placed in an old wire "shopping basket" propped up against a planter and alongside my Juncus effusus (Juncaceae or Unicorn Soft Rush). The Juncus' playful spirally foliage is always a welcome texture in my garden (as seen below),



and texture is something I discussed in a previous post, Celebrating Texture . Meanwhile, as if giving a standing ovation to the beauty of November,  . . . my 'Tamuekyam's' leaves (seen below)


seem to know their textures and colors are much appreciated — especially at Thanksgiving. I referred to my Acer palmatum var. dissectum 'Tamukeyam' in  a previous post back in August when its leaves were burgundy, which was lovely too.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Turning the Tables in Garden Decor

Patricia Youngquist uses words and images to tell stories about her passions. Based in New York, she currently is authoring a series of nature books on birds of the city. Now in Apple’s iBooks store @ https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/words-in-our-beak/id1010889086?mt=11

The ability to define my goals in salient points does not come easily to me. It never has. I tend to view most matters in layers and get caught up in possibilities. As a young junior high-school student, I agonized over the standardized PSAT when it came to multiple choice questions. The traditional choices for those test questions was usually something like this: Sometimes option "a" but never option "b" when "e" and "f" are present. On one occasion, when I questioned the teacher about various scenarios (which were delaying me from being able to go on to the next page), I was put out in the hallway, with masking tape bound over my mouth, and told "when you are ready to stop asking questions and make a quick choice you, can come back to the classroom."

This problem of taking too much time to weigh the answers in multiple-choice test questions occurred in test-taking again, when I was in high-school and took the SAT. There was a test question about how many clothes-pins it would take to hang laundry on a clothes-line. I found myself thinking, 'hmmmm, that depends . . . is the clothing heavy jeans and towels, or is it something light such as under garments?' I lost all my test taking time on those types of test questions, and since SAT scores are based on time as well as knowledge.

Fortunately, I passed the SATs with a score high enough to get into college, and I used my layered thinking to my advantage, graduating from the university with honors. My graduating from college, and my deliberating over option A and option B in relation to test questions, was a number of years ago, but the inclination to consider various scenarios of a given issue still prevails. 

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Giving new Meaning to the Pet Rock: Portraits of Cats (With Rocks as the Canvas) As Noted by a Cool Cat


Hello there! Allow me to introduce myself, I am one of many rockin' cat rocks hand painted by an artist named Phyllis; to view others click here. We make great Chanukah gifts, stocking stuffers, or we are nice to give to your co-workers, friends or families at any time. 

You don't have to wait for a special occasion to let people know they mean something to you. As mentioned in a previous post, Helen (from Gifts by Helen) sells us cat rocks along with beautiful journals, photo albums and picture frames. We cat rocks are more fun then pet rocks if I do say so myself!

ANNOUNCEMENT: Helen, sole proprietor of Gifts by Helen, passed away in December of 2014, and at the time, I announced it on Facebook. Her business is closed. My entries about her will remain in honor of her legacy.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

"In war, there are no unwounded soldiers" Solemn Remembrances for Veterans Day and the Promise of the First Leaf

Because my blog is called, The Last Leaf Gardener, I have written about last leaves in previous posts including ones during January and March. However, this post begins with a first leaf - the first leaf on my Acer palmatum (a tree that I have in my urban garden)  to change color in honor of Autumn. Even though I recently blogged about November being a time to focus on garden textures that get overlooked by color, I am returning to color with this post. My Acer's golden tones can be seen (in the photograph posted below) in this single leaf peeking out from the green and cream colored hues of the Acer's other leaves.

Patricia Youngquist uses words and images to tell stories about her passions. Based in New York, she currently is authoring a series of nature books on birds of the city. Now in Apple’s iBooks store @ https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/words-in-our-beak/id1010889086?mt=11

My freedom to enjoy my 'Shigitatsu Sawa' leaf changing colors from a green with cream tones, to a golden with rosey tones, from the first leaf to all of its leaves, and then to create images celebrating it, is in part won by veterans who fought for  freedom in wars gone by.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Feature Film, Chariots of Fire Somewhat Reprised : The Wonder of Edison Pena


Just following up a bit on this past Saturday morning's post where I mentioned the New York City Marathon. On Marathon Eve (last Saturday night), fireworks dazzled the sky in Central Park, as they always do the night before the event. The photograph above, taken in Central Park, shows one of the fireworks which had a champagne bubbles quality. I am certain champagne was uncorked for various runners who completed the race, judging by the number of people I saw carrying bags bearing names of liquor stores.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Celebrating Texture

Patricia Youngquist uses words and images to tell stories about her passions. Based in New York, she currently is authoring a series of nature books on birds of the city. Now in Apple’s iBooks store @ https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/words-in-our-beak/id1010889086?mt=11

Since last Saturday's posting of honoring the days of November and beyond, I've been reminded that November is the month of remembrance that began with All Saints Day on November first. 

This feast day is followed by the solemn celebration of All Souls' Day on November second, and for the remaining days of November, special homages are made for all who have died. "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted," is a consolation of November. With it getting dark earlier due to going back to "standard" time, and the apparent focus on the dead, it is good to recall that November is a textured month, and so while people honor the dead during this time, it is also a month very much intended to remember the living.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Canopy of Actinda kolomikta and Actimidia (Kiwi Vines)

Patricia Youngquist uses words and images to tell stories about her passions. Based in New York, she currently is authoring a series of nature books on birds of the city. Now in Apple’s iBooks store @ https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/words-in-our-beak/id1010889086?mt=11

Here I am returning to my rooftop garden's color again after saying that it can cause me to overlook garden textures in a previous post. 

The canopy of golden leaves in the photograph posted above are from my Actinida kolonikta and Actimidia (Kiwi Vines).