Saturday, October 23, 2010

Inner Calm!

I am passing this on to you because it definitely worked for me today, and we all could probably use more calm in our lives.
Some doctor on television this morning said that the way to achieve inner peace is to finish all the things you have started.
So I looked around my house to see things I'd started and hadn't
finished and, before leaving the house this morning, I finished off a bottle of Merlot, a bottle of Chardonnay, a bodle of Baileys, a butle of wum, a pockage of Prunglies, tha mainder of bot Prozic and Valum scriptins, the res of the chesescke an a box a choclets.
Yu haf no idr how guod I feel rite now.
Plaese sned dhis orn to dem yu fee ar in ned ov iennr paece.

I got this email from a good family friend of ours that gave Pavan and Me a good laugh so, I felt like sharing this with all of you.  Many of you must have already come across this email from some friend.

This just reminded me of the time, that one time that I tried this great juice, that one time I had taken the liberty to get wasted, that one time that Pavan had the fortune of looking at me in that condition, and experience soulful truth from me. It reminded me of that time, that I had gotten the chance to speak from my heart without any inhibition,  when I didn’t expect Pavan to care for my diatribe.

It was a few months we were married and during one of the long weekend, we decided to drive back to Ohio where both of us had gone to school, to meet with our friends there and to re visit those long drives that we had made during the years of our courtship. So, we got packed and started to drive and reached our school town. Our friends had been very happy to see us. Then, the evening came with its usual poise. The gang decided that they had a few bottles waiting in the cabinets that can be used.

Pavan doesn’t consume alcohol. He is a teetotaler. Whatever his reason to stay away from the “Soma”, the famous line he uses to refuse this to his friends is, that, he doesn’t need a drink to feel the high, or break his inhibitions. He could be as unrestrained in his behavior without it. Good for him. Then came my turn and I didn’t see why I should not give this a try and see why is that, that one feels so thrilled going this route to feel good. I had my husband beside me and I trusted him, I had passed the tests of adolescent days and they were behind me. So, the timing was perfect!

I started with a teeny tiny peg of some drink. I don’t even know what to call a that tiny glass like thing. I am assuming that its called a peg. I don’t know or remember what those cocktails were that I took. I do remember hearing a couple of names like vodka, Irish Cream that were reverberating from the voices there. We had been a very close circle of friends and I was sure that nobody would pull anything naughty on me.  With Pavan beside me I started with my peg. And in some time I started to feel that heavy feeling in my head. Then in a little while more and another drink or two later, I started to laugh more and talk more.  Expressing love to Pavan in public had always been a taboo for me but, I didn’t mind hugging him tightly or act a little bit loose in front of everybody.

It was a show for everybody to watch. I started spilling the beans of our relationship to everybody. I started throwing the Shakespearian line “Yet Brutus is a Gentleman” from Julius Caesar.  I started to let those secrets out of my marriage (there wasn’t much content, considering we were newly weds)

“He is such a loving person, yet he doesn’t love me like ...…”

“he is such a gem of a person, yet, you didn’t respect me enough…when you…, ”

“He is such a huggable thing, yet, he makes me angry by….” and I could continue.

Pavan enjoyed this show thoroughly. I am usually a very shy person and much quieter in gatherings and my friends had been surprised to see this side of me. I had talked so much that night and I remember the head ache I had woken up to the next morning.  We had to leave the next morning to drive back home to be at work. We had left their home that morning while everybody else were still sleeping. To this day, he remembers that night so fondly. There was a picture of me from that night in that inebriated state looking without a care at the camera. I was thinking that I could ask a poll to find out how many of you would like to look at that picture.  Maybe if there are enough of you wanting to look at that pic, I will post it ;-)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Landscape (Part 2)


Looking outside today..I haven’t seen a Fall Landscape as colorful as this year’s in all these years that I’ve been in the northeast. The leaves are still intact on the trees and colors so bright and I hadn’t realized that we are surrounded by Ash Trees all around.


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I had always thought that we had a lot of Maples around us..But the Maple trees, whose colors are bright too, are not as many as the Ash and haven’t been able to match up to it this year.

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The sweet gum is another beautiful tree with star shaped leaves and it never fails any year in providing the best of fall colors. Nothing compares the reds and purples  that show on this tree. It still falls way behind in its colors compared to the Ash this year.DSC_0961 (2)

The Willow looks so green and lushDSC_0612

And the Sycamore, which usually are not known for their fall color so bright and neon green.

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Fall is the time for Mums, and Pumpkins apart from the colors from the trees around.

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The cosmos during this time get so active and blooms a lot. Flowers so fresh.DSC_0238

The rose in my yard shares this feeling with their cosmos friends.DSC_0996 (2)

It is the time for the birds to migrate to warmer places. For them to move south.DSC_0517

So, its a common site to find huge groups of them on roof topsDSC_0545

and Trees.DSC_0570

And the pond near my home becomes a home to the migrating geeseDSC_0204

As I drove my kids to their activity today, we were awe struck as we came to an open field area and the whole sky from one end of the horizon to the other was studded with birds, all flying in one direction (obviously, south).  It was an amazing site.  I couldn’t close my mouth.  It took me a few seconds to park the vehicle to the side of the road.  Luckily, I had my camera with me..took another few seconds to get it out and when it was time to click..what happens?! It doesn’t work. By the time I could fix that.. the sky had cleared!! It was just a couple of minutes to get the camera working, and the sky was clear.  It felt like a mass exodus.

Its been more than a decade we’ve been living here and I hadn’t seen something like this before, I even have my camera with me..but some things are just not meant to be photographed I guess.. As I continued to drive, we came across another site shown below. Rows of birds waiting on the others to join them. Just seemed like such an active evening.


Being born and brought up in a tropical country the sun, the heat, the sweat, seems welcome than the cold or snow.  Even with all this wonders of fall that we are surrounded with,  I cringe at the thought that winter is at the door step.

I do love the snow. We’ve spent quite a few days outside in the snow last year when it  snowed us in.


We had created our snow man that year. It was a lot of fun. DSC_0427

We’ve had the opportunity to experience skiing or go tubing on a snow slopes. In fact, I’ve had the fortune of having skiing enthusiastic colleagues in the past, thanks to whom I was able develop my skiing skills on the slopes around here. By the end of that winter, I was able to ski on the intermediate slopes.

But, after a few days of all this fun…the cold does get on to me and I start to crave for the warm weather to set in.  This thing about the day getting so short as the end of fall comes, is so depressing! To see the sun set by 4.30 or 5pm in Nov is so dampening.  Thanks to the festival season and the decorative lights outside, it does  help in lightening the atmosphere a little bit. So, to beat this lack of sunlight and warmth, we try to gather people around more often to bask in the warmth of their company.

Most of my fall time is spent in preparing my yard for spring, planting bulbs. To emphasize my madness,  I had managed to plant hundreds of daffodils and muscari bulbs, even with my belly hanging out like a big big pumpkin, when I was pregnant with Richa. (Considering that Richa was born, 9 and a half pounds, that was a pretty big belly.).  I had planted rows of Muscari and Thalia ( A variety of the Narcissi), to replicate the look of the “River” at Keukenhof. I had succeeded a little bit at that, but the deer had a feast with all the tulips I had planted that year. Then, the next year, I got a little smart and I planted daffodils and the little tulips that I planted, I surrounded it with these cool bulbs, “The Fritillaries” . They did leave the tulips alone. I’ve yet to see who is going to outsmart whom this winter and the next spring. Will it be the year of the deer on the Palle yard or the year of Palle reclaiming their yard from the deer.

Being tropical at heart, I find a lot of affinity for the tropical plants too. So, I had started to collect some tropical plants a few years ago. Hibiscus, Jasmine’s (climbing and non), pseudo jasmines like “queen of the night” and some more and they have only increased with the years. All these have to come inside with  the weather. I even, try to save the gerbera’s and bring them inside so, I can have the same plant the next year.  This requires us to give up our living area generously..This year too, I had added a couple of different jasmine varieties so, the number of pots coming inside are going to go up. Now, I fear what Pavan would say…Maybe he’s going to ask me to make a choice between the plants or us at home

How will I be able to make that choice? That’s going to be so difficult.  Or maybe he’s going to tell me…

“Decide, if you are going to stay here or your plants”

Either way, I am planning on convincing him to keep me and my plants in my house. I will have to start repotting these tropical plants from the bigger containers to the smaller ones so, they can come in. So, next week I will be getting to that task and the task of putting some more bulbs into the ground.

Wishing myself and to all of you who are in the same shoes as me, …

Happy Digging !!!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Landscape (Part 1)

The landscaper who did our yard, a very knowledgeable person when it comes to big trees is in awe at my knowledge when it comes to perennials, annuals or bulbs.  He once introduced me to somebody saying

“This is Gayatri. She has 4000 plants in her garden”.

I am an avid gardener.  I seem to have collected some information over a period of time( a tad more than a not so avid gardener) on the perennials and bulbs and annuals that I find around, and if I don’t find it, then I get the information from the internet. This idiosyncrasy of mine is quite interesting to the people I know. My children always try to point to any bush or tree asking me what it is, more with the purpose of quizzing me, than to get information on what plant it is.  Its very exciting for them to see the answers flow by, like a mathematician is able to play with numbers and is able to spit out answers for problems like the fifth power of 12975 without consulting a calculator. 

I owe this green thumb to my father who was an avid tropical climate gardener himself.  The purpose was different then. He only planted fruits and vegetables.  Most weekends, we had to march to the yard so, we could dig, weed, sow or water. In India, from where I come, we don’t experience the four seasons like I do here in the US. Living in the north east all my married life, with its extreme weather patterns, I’m have had the fortune of experiencing the four seasons in its full splendor. 

Here I present the changes in landscape in out yard…from spring to fall and then, winter.

The spring usually starts with the crocus in our yard, showing itself followed by the Scilla and Chinodoxia.






Followed by the Narcissi blooming from April through May. Daffodils are my safe bet spring bloomers. The deer avoid them and they naturalize so well if left untouched. Last year, just the week of April got so hot and almost burnt the daffodil bloom. There are so many types of daffodils. Of them, I love the pink daffodils. The cup changes color through the week from pink to orange but, needs to be planted in a not so hot spot.  We also get sun proof varieties in Daffodils. “Ceylon” is one that I have seen to withstand hot days so well. Then, we also have the double daffodils. They look so majestic and big. I’ve had the opportunity of owning a couple of those cultivars.

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I particularly got the late blooming single tulips. They survive the deer better. When the deer attack the yards in early spring, these tulips have just started to pop out of the ground then, just a tiny bit, but the flower is still underground. so, even if the deer bites the leaves (In spite of the repellents, or it was unable to pull the bulb from the ground), the flower is still underground.  I’ve found the late blooming tulips to still flower in May, by which time the deer stops visiting the yards. Although the tulips are not perennial, the late blooming or the Darwin tulips show this behavior.  They manage to show up at least for 3 –4 years, by when, I have had new bulbs grow up to give flowers.

A tidbit about Tulips: Although they look so pretty, the deer love to feast on them. They will even dig the ground to get to the bulbs. On the other hand, they will not touch a daffodil bulb. Another bulb they cannot stand is Fritillaries'. Its a beautiful umbrella flower, very majestic and sends out a kind of scent that I in particular don’t find it disgusting, but to the deer, it is so. This bulb is expensive and is supposed to naturalize well but, that didn’t happen in my yard.

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Next comes the Late Spring - Early Summer ones, the Alliums, Muscari, Irises (Siberian, Bearded, Japanese) and the Asiatic Lilies.

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Its also the time for Salvia to bloom.  Among all the salvia’s that I have, my favorite is the Amethyst.DSC_1673

Over the years I’d collected quite a few Irises. They had naturalized quite well. Thanks to my landscaper who had overturned my yard last year to create a landscape that would include evergreens and trees too, I lost quite a few bulbs in this process. Before he could touch my yard last year, I had spent 2-3 weeks digging out most of the Iris and had washed the bulbs and had waited for him to finish the landscape so I could plant the bulbs.  The guy didn’t complete, I had to leave them above ground and planted them in Spring. Last spring the Iris display wasn’t anything like I had had in the previous years.  

Siberian Iris (Caesar's Brother)RET5DSC_1666 


Collection of Bearded Irises.DSC_3973


There was also this year when the viola’s had made my home theirs and had provided us with colorful splashes here and there. They reseed so easily and spread. I didn’t mind this considering the colorful displays I got.


Because the area where these Asiatic Lilies were planted was untouched…This display wasn’t affected.DSC_2369

Then summer is almost here and the Echinacea, Rudbecka (black eyed susan), Shasta’s , Croscosmia’s, False Sunflower, Lavender, and many other summer blooming plants start to bloom. Most of them are Perennials now.  The zone where I live is 6b, not feasible for the Gladiolus to survive outside, still for the last 2-3 years these bulbs have been flowering. 


Agapanthus Lily…has been surviving in the pot for the last 4 years now. I put the pots inside once the nights get frosty.DSC_2831


Crocosmia…A beautiful bulb from the Gladiolus family. A perennial that naturalizes very well. Gives a beautiful bokeh display for almost 2 weeks in summer. DSC_2686


Summer is also the time for Oriental Lilies to bloom. As Evening descents, their scent is so heavenly. It can be felt at long distances too. I’ve had neighbors tell me they take a walk along our road to feel the scent. When I had planted them..I didn’t realize their scent and hadn’t taken care to plant them close to windows. So, this fall, I will be replanting them, so they are located at spots close to windows. Pictured below is a double lily called Elodie.



Ah! Shasta Diasies.  The summer grace. Looks so beautiful, those tall stalks of bloom standing so high up. Such well formed flowers. The only down side to all this bloom is the messy look when the blooms are spent. The clean up is a big work.DSC_2724  


I had gotten a tiny root of this False Sunflower from Walmart about 3-4 years ago. The plant appeared the next year. Every year, the bush was bigger. The flowers are so long lived. Almost 2 months of clean blooms. The yellow is visible from a long distance. Again, requires lot of clean up. Although perennials provide so much bloom, they look like a mess once the flowers are spent.  Clean up is no easy task.DSC_2374

Another of my favorite is Lavender. There are so many cultivars of Lavender. Every year, the local farm  has a different cultivar for sale.





Sunday, October 17, 2010

Tomorrow, I’m the Mommy

Today, Richa was telling me..”Mama, tomorrow I’m going to be the Mommy”.

“I will give Neha Didi(sister) Snanam (bath)!”

“I will open her dress like this”, putting her hands up straight to show me how Neha opens her dress, when she gives her a bath. My triplets , maybe 8 years old, but, they are Richa’s second Mommy. 

Richa with her Mommys

They are the ones she turns to, when I am upset with her or she with me. When she is not allowed to get her way. Like, when she wants to watch TV for long hours or she is trying to avoid eating her food, when she refuses to clean up the mess she creates, and many other things a 3 year wants to do but isn’t allowed to. She thinks, that turning to her Didi(s) (word for elder sisters in Hindi) will resolve her problem. Either they will fix it for her, or they will be able to override my decision.


The other day, she sets up a contraption with a stool on top of a chair. This helped her reach a bunch of silly bands that the triplet girls had hidden from her.  She had been eying them for long. Coming to the silly bands..what’s with these things called ‘silly bands’. The kids in schools have gone so crazy about it. Its become a big rage now. Even the pediatrician’s office and their dentist’s office have them.

“Only one per kid” The sign says.

I used to see Neha come from school always with new bands on her wrist. On asking her what they were, she would say that her friends at school had given it to her. Soon all the triplets had them and they had made quite some collection at home.

I would hear the triplets talk about whose mom is buying who, these bands. Clearly, I was not among them. Just as I had started to feel this getting to my nerve..I get this letter from the kids teacher,banning it from the class. No student would be allowed to wear them at school, it said. I was so happy about it.

I hoped that this would be the end of these harmless looking silly bands. They had hidden these silly bands in a container on the top of a self.  I didn’t know she had known this. Then, that morning..after her Didi(s) left for school, I see her with about 20 bands on her wrist. I had guessed she had climbed up that ladder she had dangerous it looked!! Lucky that she didn’t fall.  I tried to convince her saying that this is not good for her.

As I tried to remove appeared difficult to come off, a perfect situation to explain to her

“Richa, look it will make your hand red..this is so dangerous.” , I said

At this point she looked a little scared and convinced that maybe this women, the one that calls herself her mom, is right.

Then as soon as I was able to remove them she realized the trick.

She insisted that she needs the princess band, and started looking for them in that lot.

“I want the red princess band”, she said, looking for that shape among the bands.

“I have to show it to Ms.G. “, she says

“Ms G will not allow that Richa”, I said

“Remember Mama, we showed the unicorn silly band yesterday”, she said

“That was yesterday, today she is not going to like it. It is dangerous.”, I tried to convince her.

But, Neha said it is OK”, she said

‘You are not giving me one , you are not giving me many, you are not giving me any, and I want my bands”, she cried getting loud. (Wow!  she’s speaking all this..I thought)

My Mommy

“I like Neha, she is tall, she is the Mommy”, she continued.

“She is tall?!!”, I looked puzzled. Anything to have a convenient Mommy, uh!

“Yes, she is tall and she is my Mommy. I am mad of you”…she continued.

“Ok then, I cannot give you your toasty bread since I am not the Mommy and you are refusing to brush your teeth”..I said, hoping she would fall for the threat. (She had already asked for toasty bread, her favorite food recently)..

“Then,..I will brush my teeth”, she agreed letting me brush her teeth.

That was the end of needing Neha Mommy for the day.