Tuesday, September 30, 2014

... a box of Halloween goodies and get out your shovels this blog is having a Halloween CONTEST ^o^...

In August, The Art of Darkness, a blog that is "devoted to the theory that every day should be Halloween", hit it's 2000th post and decided to have a little giveaway. I commented and thanks to random.org and my good fortune of being commenter #4 (which is a divisor of 8 and that's my favorite and lucky number), I won!

Yesterday a box arrived... a rather large box. I'm not putting down anyone's giveaway but I really thought I would receive a sticker or maybe some silly ol' vampire fangs and be perfectly happy with that... but OHMYWORD No! This was a serious box of awesomeness. Thank you, Cobwebs and Shadow Manor and The Art of Darkness! My little black heart just squeee'ed.

 (There are several little trinkets that are in the bottom of the box that you can't see... but yay! YAY!)

The box has also inspired me. It seems like my favorite blogs either have contests or some sort of assignments, and I'm just over here smelling the roses in the cemetery. And Halloween is coming up, so I should have a giveaway too!

Here's the contest! And it is ridiculous because ridiculous things make me laugh.
  1. Create a post with some sort of reference to a shovel. Preferably you should have a shovel in the picture somehow. That's right! Ha ha it's both garden and cemetery related AND you can even write, "I DIG..." just like my little skeleton artwork I entitled, "I dig your heart" which now that I look at it should be "I dig my heart"... but anyway, back to the contest rules that I'm making up as I go along because this is the first contest.
  2. Link your post to my Halloween post. I don't have any HTML coding to offer because I'm just not that fancy.
  3. Write a comment with your post link on the Halloween post so that I know where to look. 
  4. Because it's a Halloween contest, it's due on Halloween! October 31st before midnight. You have 31 days!
I'll have my fella judge just to be fair... AND since I only have a handful of followers with maybe only two people likely to participate in this ridiculous Halloween ***Shovel*** Contest, if you participate, you're probably going to win!!! What will you win? Oh, I don't know but it will be pretty amazing!

DISCLAIMER: This blog owner cannot be responsible for any arrests made due to your shovel habits e.g. if you bring a shovel into a graveyard, etc.

Monday, September 29, 2014

...an RSVP to "October's Party"...

October gave a party;
The leaves by hundreds came,—
The Ashes, Oaks, and Maples,
And leaves of every name.
The sunshine spread a carpet,
And every thing was grand;
Miss Weather led the dancing;
                                                          Professor Wind, the band....     
The sight was like a rainbow
New-fallen from the sky....
~George Cooper, "October’s Party"

In Professor Z’s recent assignment, she asked us to interpret the George Cooper “October’s Party” stanza. I have loved trees since I was little and since in Virginia it is much too early to discuss *fallen* leaves, I figure that I may as well discuss the trees where the leaves currently live. 

On Saturday I was planning to take the Hollywood Cemetery: A Rural Garden on a Grand Scale Walking Tour” and that this would be an excellent opportunity to interpret the poem. After all, Hollywood contains some of the finest examples of native trees in the Commonwealth. There are over 2,000 trees in the cemetery today; some predate the cemetery. The tour description reads, “Discover the park like setting and the natural tranquility of this rural-style cemetery and see why some call it ‘A garden of people, their loves, their faith, their dreams’. This tour will explore the cemetery from a historical and horticultural perspective with an emphasis on the beauty of Nature and the impact the Romantic Movement had on 19th century culture.” The weather was gorgeous and in the low 80’s. Even with 100 SPF, I still got some sun.

Welcome to the trees of Hollywood Cemetery. When you first enter the cemetery, you meet four large Bald Cypress trees that were planted by architect John Notman, who had developed a strong reputation for his romantic landscape designs. Notman wanted to take advantage of the natural landscape which was quite different from early cemeteries which were tightly gridded spaces.  One of the interesting things about the layout of Hollywood is that essentially you have short vistas terminated by hills and other trees so you’re actually experiencing hundreds of small spaces. Rather than going into a gridded cemetery where in one view you can kind of take in the whole cemetery, at Hollywood you have to move through it to experience it. There’s no one point where you can look down and see the entire cemetery.

Bald cypress trees are deciduous conifers that shed their needle-like leaves in the fall. Their name comes from the fact that they drop their leaves so early in the season. Their fall colors are tan, cinnamon, and fiery orange. The feature that bald cypresses are really known for is their “knees.” These aren’t knees like ours, but rather they are a special kind of root. The technical term for the knees is “pneumatophore,” which means “air bearing.” Pneumatophores grow from horizontal roots just below the surface and protrude upward from the ground or water. Since bald cypresses often grow in swampy conditions, it’s thought that the pneumatophores function to transport air to drowned roots underground. They also help to anchor the tree. In one of these trees, a red-tailed hawk is nesting.
One of the next trees that I found interesting was the Southern Red Oak near Mrs. Bayly’s marker. Mrs. Bayly marker is a tree stump tombstones; generally carved from limestone, these were a part of the rustic movement of the mid-nineteenth century which was characterized by designs that were made to look like they were from the country. The gravestones are purposefully designed to look like trees that had been cut and left in the cemetery which was part of the movement to build cemeteries to look like parks.  In funerary art, the tree-stump tombstones were varied—the stonecutters displayed a wide variety of carving that often reflected individual tastes and interests of the persons memorialized. The tree-stump gravestones themselves were saturated with symbolism. The short tree stump usually marks the grave of a person who died young—a life that had been “cut” short. The tree-stump tombstones were most popular for a twenty year-period from about 1885 until about 1905. I have been looking at this marker for months but the guide pointed out how the Bayly marker looks almost exactly like the Southern Red Oak.

The next picture is another family plot of tree stump tombstones. This is that of the Lloyd family.


One of my favorite trees in the cemetery is that of the Sycamore. They are often found along stream banks and are distinguished by their striking appearance in the winter. Sycamores are known for their height and grandeur. Especially interesting is the gray and white exfoliating bark which is most notable in the winter. The terms under which the New York Stock Exchange was formed are called the "Buttonwood Agreement", because it was signed under a buttonwood (sycamore) tree at 68 Wall Street, New York City, in 1792.

Lastly, I’ve included a picture from October 25, 2009 which shows the James River and fall foliage. It is much too early in Virginia for our leaves to be turning. Those that I found that were yellowing were doing so more from drought-like conditions than a temperature drop.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

... flowers and Spirit...

It feels very Fall-like outside. I took a long walk this morning and delighted in the fact that a Spirit Halloween store has been added to my small town. It isn't that I love the Spirit Halloween store. It's basically the dollar store for Halloween... But it's the dollar store for Halloween that is a hop, skip and a jump from my house!

Fall blooms are here. My Gerbera daisies (pictured above) are beginning to bloom and I have Helenium blooming in my front yard.  Gerbera daisies are the fifth most used cut flower in the world (after the rose, carnation, chrysanthemum, and tulip).

This is a field pansy (Viola rafinesquii) wild pansy or a Johnny-Jump Up. Some consider them to be weeds but I think this little purple bloom is stunning so I’m not pulling him!

My hibiscus is still blooming. Here's a bloom from this morning. I could take a hundred pictures of these and never do the bloom justice. I know, then why do I keep posting pictures of them! Still...

Monday, September 22, 2014

... bringing in the light...

The weekend was emotionally productive while today was, I guess, academically? productive. I had a good day researching (finishing some edits to a review for the Washington Post; posting an interview with an adolescent literature author on my research blog; coding data- fun fun; and reading). I even dyed my hair during my lunch break. So alas, today is going well.

After the whirlwind of change last week, my weekend calmed with some orderly nesting in the now shared house. We organized our new cabinet for knickknacks which includes a nice collection of both of our pieces. He encouraged me to buy these amazing sheer curtains with bats (Target) which not only let a little light in (yeah, yeah I’m one of those goths) but also block out the peeping-Tom neighborhood children. It’s a nice compromise from closing the blinds altogether. My fella, you’re going to see a pattern here, also encouraged me to buy the Bath & Body Works ceramic Haunted House which I find adorable. One of his spirit animals is the owl and since so many of my haunted houses (don’t judge; a girl can have as many haunted houses as she likes) have bats, this is a nice change. They’re also all black so this one being white lets a little more light in.

Finally, we bought our first pumpkin pie of the season. Oy! He’s a dessert guy and while I’m usually a *salty* I can’t resist pumpkin pie. I also picked up some beautiful seasonal roses and a few dorky beverages… well, the wine is actually to chase the dorky beverage if it doesn’t turn out to be so tasty.

In other news, I already have one Halloween party on my calendar for early October! (Yay! Another couple who will spread out the Halloween festivities) and I have FOUR cemetery tours I’ll be giving, one to a group of middle school students on Halloween-eve! Yeah, they will be totally calm, I’m sure :p