Sunflowers: One woman’s passion is another woman’s bane

Rio through the sunflowers

Rio through the sunflowers

I love sunflowers, have always loved sunflowers, and seeing a big ole’ stand of them just makes me smile.  Rio’s pasture is full of them right now.  A couple of nights ago, I was dispatched over to my aunt’s to pick up pea salad she had made for Mom.  I commented on the two very large sunflowers growing in her garden, and how pretty they were.  She said the birds had “planted” those for her.  I commented that I loved sunflowers and that they were beautiful, even if there by accident.  She said my grandmother told her once to never put sunflowers on her grave.  I laughed and said probably because she had to try to keep them out of the crops in the field.  Aunt Gwen said,

“Yes; she said she spent her whole life hoeing sunflowers out of the crops, and she did not want them on top of her grave.”

I suppose that would give one a different point of view–having walked down those long rows of cotton and wheat in the hot Texas sun, shielded only by a bonnet and trying to keep the sunflowers from sucking up all the moisture and nutrients from the crops that you needed just to survive another year.

I might never look at another sunflower without now thinking of Mama Rogers.  While I promise not to ever put them on her grave, I have been wanting to clip a few and bring them in to the breezeway so I can see their sunny yellow faces.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Twined and Twisted

vines

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

University Museum Rock Sculpture

tortoise sculpture and rock While over at the University to make photos of the Walton-Young house for Preservation in Mississippi, I noticed the tortoise-like sculpture.  It has been a few years since I was last in this building for a class, and I don’t recall the rock sculpture being there at the time.  It was hot and humid as only Mississippi can be in the summer, but I was hooked.  Take a closer look:

tortoiseDoesn’t if make you wonder what gave the artist inspiration for a work like this?

rock gardenSeveral pieces of rock also adorn the outdoor garden.  The little tubes are amazingly intricate.  It resembles both petrified wood, and volcanic rock.  It is called iron-cemented sandstone and can be found in northern and central Mississippi.  According to the information marker, its shape is thought to represent preservation of the bog and swamp areas in which it originated–which probably explains why it looks like petrified wood.

The 1917 Department of Interior Professional Paper 108 The Pliocene History of Northern and Central Mississippi (Eugene Wesley Shaw) indicated:

The fragments of iron-cemented sandstone show all degrees of rounding, ranging from pieces that are almost entirely angular to some that are nearly spherical, and it is generally difficult to determine whether the rounding is due to wear or to concretionary of some other cementation.

Posted in landscape architecture, Mississippi, Oxford, University of Mississippi | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Color

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Surrounded by Pueraria montana var. lobata (Willd.)

kudzu in back yard

Or more commonly known, kudzu, it also carries the name Japanese arrowroot, and the “Vine-that-ate-the-south.”  I remember the day our neighbor stopped and said, “Kudzu got your fence didn’t it?” with a knowing chuckle.  Once established, it is almost impossible to eradicate.  According to Mississippi State University’s Invasive Plant Atlas of the MidSouth, it was introduced to the United States in 1876 at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia.

Native to eastern India, China, and Japan, it was thought to be an ornamental useful for erosion control.  Apparently, only the species common in the southeast is such a massive problem, and the greatest impact is that it crowds out native species (United States Department of Agriculture).  “Crowds out” is relatively benign-sounding, considering it can grow several inches in a day, wrap itself around anything not moving, and consume not only live vegetation, but houses and cars and roads.  Although we lost the battle for the fence and a good many trees and shrubs long ago, we do our best to keep it from overtaking the house, though that is beginning to be a losing battle in spots as well.

On the upside, there are alleged medical uses for kudzu, and it is edible.  While more common to eat the tuberous roots in Asian countries, WebMD describes use of kudzu to treat a variety of ailments, and it has been used in Chinese medicine since 200 BC.

There is information that suggests kudzu contains ingredients that counteract alcohol.  It might also have effects like estrogen.  Chemicals in kudzu might also increase blood circulation in the heart and brain.

Kudzu can be eaten. (Note: Important to make sure it has not been chemically sprayed, so know your kudzu source if you plan to eat it.)  The tender young shoots of the vine can be sauteed and taste similar to snow peas if you can believe what you read.  Juanitta Baldwin authored the cookbook Kudzu Cuisine which includes recipes for breads and jellies, and it can be used like spinach in salad and quiche.  The leaves can be fried  to a chip, and the roots pulverized.  Some even claim it makes you look younger.

I guess that should be a lesson to me to stop bemoaning being surrounded by kudzu and start looking at options.  I have enough kudzu to eat without ever having to go to store again, and hey, who wouldn’t go for younger looking?  Apparently, just mix a teaspoon with your “nightly tonic” like 80-year-old Edith Edwards, “the Kudzu Queen of North Carolina.”

I tell the women they can chew it like the cows if they like, and I mean this seriously…People say, ‘Edith, how do you keep so young-looking?’ and I say, Well, I eat kudzu.

But, seriously, I want to know what else in in that nightly tonic!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments

How to remodel a bathroom in only 5 years

tile day 1

And the award for the longest bathroom remodel in the history of Lottabusha County and possibly all of Mississippi goes to [insert drum roll here please] Suzassippi!  Technically, this remodel has been going on for 6 years because you have to count the year we tore it all out and it sat for 6 months with no tub.  Which, actually did not matter anyway since when this tub was finally installed in August of 2010 it still could not be used.

Yesterday, almost 5 years since getting that tub in place, I started tiling.  Tiling is art, and it takes a lot of physical labor along with it in order to produce stunning results.  Results like our first bathroom remodel, which only took 4 years.

It seems like not a lot was accomplished yesterday, although it took two weekends of prep work to get those 5 rows of tile finished.  I’m not certain if I can stand up to another 5 rows today, but I am hoping for a post-ibuprofen miracle and a burst of enthusiasm for making art through hard labor.

Update after day 2: How’s this for one wall of artwork?  Rand gets to take credit for the idea of the design to spice it up a bit.  We used crown molding on our shower, but planned to stay with plain bullnose in the hall bath.  Can’t wait to finish this up now that I have finally gotten started!

day 2 completeddesign detail

Posted in Bathroom Remodel | 6 Comments

Sun, rain, and a full moon rising

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments