Archive for the ‘Plants’ Category

Service of Why Do I Do That?

Monday, January 22nd, 2024

I love these French sponges from Trader Joe’s that grow to their full size when wet. They are soft and reach the bottom of a wine glass like little else.

I was changing out my sponges when the subject of this post came to me.

I suddenly thought of some people I never met who were known for having filthy sponges in their kitchen. The husband was a family physician who shared a Madison Avenue office with a friend of my parents. My parent’s pal was a surgeon. He and his wife were frequent dinner guests at the office partner’s home and I must have overheard the revolting sponge observation which is why I frequently change mine. I don’t discard them right away. I use them to clean silver or to wash the kitchen floor.

I brush with Colgate toothpaste—the brand I grew up with—and until the price of Tide went through the roof decades ago, used it.

I gleefully write thank you notes because as a child an adult praised mine. I have an unruly collection of houseplants because my dad did as well. In fact, I’ve previously mentioned a great great granddaughter of one of his dracaena that takes up a lot of space in my living room. The asparagus fern that he nurtured and that burst with happiness upstate isn’t doing well where I now live which makes me sad. Note: He died almost 40 years ago.

I love to shop—and finding a bargain–as did my mother. Like her I have a “present drawer.” Hers was a drawer and mine is a giant TJ Maxx shopping bag that I fill with gifts through the year.

My French toast must be cooked to a crisp, almost burned. That’s because, as I’ve written before, I slept late on Sunday so my breakfast treat lingered on the stove over low heat for ages. If French toast is eggy, I won’t eat it.

Do you remember why you do or buy certain things?

Service of When Little Things for Some are Big to Me

Thursday, September 21st, 2023

I’ve written a few times about how little things mean a lot. This post is an updated version.

I was so happy when a few sprigs I cut from an overgrown geranium took root. Over the years, I’ve found this plant to be persnickety and not easy for me to propagate. I’m always tickled when one of the shoots takes hold.

Friends know how much I love to receive cards—e- or paper–and I am grateful for each one. This year I recently received a Freshcut orchid and a rooster who plays polka on an accordion in addition to a fabulous selection of others.

My heart sank when a clock I’m fond of refused to work in spite of countless batteries I’d install. I brought it to Jennings on First Avenue in my old neighborhood and after a new motor, it’s good as new. So happy to see it back in its place above my kitchen door.

Friends who have a weekend home in Connecticut have brought me fresh corn, tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers from a local farm every Sunday for weeks. What a treat!

When I learned that a series I’m attached to—The Lincoln Lawyer on Netflix—will have a third season, I was elated, even though I probably won’t see anything until 2025 due to the writer and actor’s strike.

My bathtub drain was clogged. It took the handyman/porter a few minutes to remedy what I feared would make a major mess. It didn’t. Whooo hooo!

What things that may be little to some are big–and meaningful–to you?

Freshcut orchids

Service of Unusual Names: Fun to be Different?

Thursday, April 1st, 2021

My husband’s name was Homer and mine is Jeanne-Marie—atypical in the day–so it didn’t take long, in first grade, for me to become Jeannie, now Jeanne–JM to the family. I relish being different now; I didn’t as a child.

Caroline Bologna reported in the Huffington Post that these days parents are naming babies after herbs and spices from Anise to Yarrow. In 2019 most popular were Jasmine and Juniper, the former given to 2,092 girls and the latter to 22 boys and 1,526 girls. Sage did well coming in at 666 boys and 1,164 girls.

Sophie Kihm wrote about botanical baby names on nameberry.com. She identified Aspen, Briar, Nash, Rowan, Sylvie, and Zaria, Acacias, Juniper, Magnolia, Laramie, Indigo and Oak to name a few. We’re used to Lilly, Daisy and Oliver but the others?

Mary [the only name on the post] on wehavekids.com listed 38 earthy boys names some of which are Alder, Ash, Aspen, Aster, Birk, Elm, Jonquil, Spruce and I knew someone who named her daughter–Lake.

I imagine that having a traditional name that is spelled unusually can be a lifelong burden as people would always get it wrong. Jeanne is a challenge.  I wonder if children mind having these unusual names. What about adults? What’s the most unconventional name you’ve heard?

Service of Little Things Mean A Lot III

Thursday, August 27th, 2020

Money plant cutting

Since the pandemic began, I’ve written two previous Service of Little Things posts. Two of the following four little things may really be big.

My vote counts

I’m grateful for the link a friend sent me for the skinny on which exemption to check to legitimately send for an absentee ballot in New York State. https://www.nbcnews.com/specials/plan-your-vote-state-by-state-guide-voting-by-mail-early-in-person-voting-election/.

When I drilled down to New York, https://www.elections.ny.gov/VotingAbsentee.html I learned which option to check: “Unable to appear at the polls due to temporary or permanent illness or disability (temporary illness includes being unable to appear due to risk of contracting or spreading a communicable disease like COVID-19).

Queries to the NY Board of Elections and to one of my senators had gone unanswered.

 A tree grows in a NYC high-rise

I was thrilled that a cutting from a money tree, aka Pachira aquatica, Malabar chestnut or Saba nut–seems to have taken root. This baby [photo above] is two months old. I feel joy watching it grow.

E-book heaven

And while this isn’t little–I splurged and bought myself an iPad and I’m thrilled with it–the book world is my oyster thanks to the New York Public Library’s e-book collection. Some books I’ve reserved, photo right. I’d never wanted to read a book on a gadget but the library is still closed and in any case I am uncomfortable borrowing a book during the pandemic. Like any convert, I’m taken with this space saver that almost everyone else has owned for years.

Talent to Amuse

I learned that a wonderful series on Netflix–“Call My Agent”–is in production for another year. In French with subtitles, it’s a well done, funny show that takes place mostly in Paris. It’s about a quirky collection of talent agents and their famous clients.

Do you increasingly appreciate little things in these unsettling times? For what are you grateful?

Service of the Legacy of Passionate Hobbies

Thursday, May 23rd, 2019

My family was besotted by The New York Times Sunday crossword puzzle and bridge. I was interested in neither and that’s never changed. I’d cringe when someone would ask: “What’s a five letter word for X?”

However, I have always had plants, like my dad. In fact, I have a third cousin of a dracaena that he nurtured since the 1960s and an asparagus fern that was his. [He died in 1985.] The fern thrived in the country. I had to split it in two for the move and I’m resuscitating it in its new home. I also play a lot of solitaire on my computer either during long conference calls or as a quick break. My dad played with cards almost every night.

When I recently asked a friend, who lives in a house in the suburbs, what flowers she’d planted in her garden this spring she said “none.” Her mother was a zealous gardener. She thought her lack of interest in flowers may have been related. She works on the Times‘ Sunday puzzle, she said, something her father also finished weekly.

I mentioned all this to another friend who shared a different twist. Her mother was an expert knitter who made countless magnificent, complicated Irish knit baby sweaters. After her husband–my friend’s father–died she stopped cold. Eventually my friend asked her why she didn’t knit anymore and her mother replied, “I don’t know how.”

Are hobby choices as much psychological as they are related to a person’s druthers and abilities? Do you share hobbies with a parent? Have you turned away from or added a hobby?

Service of Indoor Plants

Thursday, March 9th, 2017

Ficus turned

My father nurtured plants in my parents’ NYC apartment and I’ve welcomed foliage and flowers everywhere I’ve lived. I’ve written before about one of my great aunt’s Ficus trees that I have at the house. I think I successfully propagated a bit of it and the offshoot [photo above] lives on my city living room windowsill. [The tree is too big.] My aunt died in the early 1980s and the plant and its connection to her, [her windowsills were filled with plants as well] have special meaning for me.

Same with my dad’s Dracaena, the mother plant of which dates from the 1960s. I have quite a few of its relatives at the house and one [photo right] seems to thrive in the Manhattan light, dust and irritants where its great grandfather once prospered some two miles north. A clipping of dad’s asparagus fern isn’t as happy in its overheated city digs. I have my fingers crossed it acclimates.

Michael Tortorello wrote: “FOR MANY PEOPLE, houseplants remain stuck in the 1970s, when it was entirely common to macramé a hanger for your 14th Boston fern while listening to Mac Davis 8-tracks and sipping Riunite on ice.” The approach of his Wall Street Journal article irked me. Its title and subtitle were: “Houseplants That Stand in for Art… Indoor greenery can make rooms appear bigger, function like art work, contribute character without adding clutter. Here, house-plant design strategies you’ll want to cultivate.”

I don’t think of plants as art. They’re fun to cultivate; I love it whenDracena plant 2017 turned they grow. The Steinbergs gave me my first orchid six or seven years ago. It thrives and blossoms on and off as do most orchid gifts from my husband and other friends. [I’m still waiting on a few to stop staring back at me with healthy green leaves and no flowers since they arrived in store-perfect blossoming glory.]

My husband isn’t such a plant fan but even he is pleased to detect an orchid bud that promises to open like the collar of an ornate royal brocade jacket, to display enchanting colors, shapes and patterns.

Certain things should not be subject to fashion, like plants, recipes, cats or dogs. You like them or you don’t and trends be dammed! Do you agree?

orchid in bloom feb 2017 turned 

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