Our Christmas Letter

Studly Doright and I were too lazy to send out our annual Christmas letter this year (and the year before, and the year before that), but after receiving the twelfth such letter from various friends and family members I began feeling guilty. Without such a missive how will anyone know what an absolutely awesome year Studly and I had? Fortunately I have this forum, so with just a bit of exaggeration, here is our offering:

“Doright Year in Review”

Dear Friends,

It’s that time of year again when we regale all of you with our adventures great and small, but let’s face it, the Dorights only have great adventures. All others are swept under the rug.

In January we moaned about temperatures dropping into the 50’s. My tan faded and Studly had to wear long pants to play golf. It was devastating.

February brought more of the same, but Valentine’s Day broke up the monotony. Studly made it special by purchasing a 10-karat diamond necklace for me to wear to the grocery store. It pairs well with the mink he bought me for Christmas last year.

In March the temperatures began creeping into the tolerable zone. I spent a great deal of time at our beach house while Studly made a killing on the stock market and switched to shorts on the golf course. He shot a 69 on his home course and recorded two holes in one. The PGA contacted him about joining the senior tour, but he declined, saying it wouldn’t be fair to all the other golfers. What a mensch!

April and May were memorable for their showers and flowers. I entered the annual garden show with an orchid I discovered on my last trip to South America. The National Society of Horticulturalists have named it the Nana Glorious in my honor. My entry took first, second, and third place honors at the event.

We spent June, July, and August abroad. While Studly golfed in Scotland and Ireland, I explored quaint mountain villages throughout Europe and discovered yet another rare flower. Being the generous soul that I am, I pointed it out to a local woman who will go on to win multiple accolades for her contribution to botanical studies. Studly isn’t the only mensch in our family.

September was quiet as we recovered from our travels. Studly worked a bit, as his sharp mind and quick wit are in great demand. I was approached with a multi-million dollar deal to publish my memoirs. I just laughed and said, “Darlings, I haven’t even begun living yet!”

In October I traveled to visit our five precocious grandchildren. Fortunately they all take after me and will be outrageously successful.

November brought us together with most of Studly’s family. We celebrated his 60th birthday with a small concert. Sting said it was the best event he ever performed at, and asked if he could join us for Christmas this year.

So here we sit, Sting, Studly, and I, sipping spiced rum around a massive Christmas tree in the grand salon of our cabin in the Rockies. Sting keeps wanting to sing, but Studly says, “Enough, man. Let’s enjoy a Silent Night.”

We hope you all have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Succulent Succulents

I had a wonderful time hanging out at Tallahassee Nursery yesterday. I’d signed up for a workshop on the planting and care of succulents, and thoroughly enjoyed myself. I might’ve even learned a thing or two.

Here was the first container I selected, but it didn’t have a hole in the bottom to facilitate drainage, so I had to find a hole-y one.

The event was well attended with long tables holding all the requisite supplies set up under sprawling oak trees:

After selecting my plants I arranged them in my hole-y planter and looked around the delightful grounds of Tallahassee Nursery with friends. That’s Julie admiring a gazing ball.

We went for lunch afterwards and then I headed home to Doright Manor. Here is the end product of my workshop experience. It wasn’t the prettiest arrangement created, but it’s mine. Now all I have to do is keep the plants alive.

Peace, people!

Flowers of Ireland 

I was traveling southwest Ireland with folks who know their flowers. Unfortunately I was unable to absorb any of their knowledge via osmosis. I only know that flowers grew everywhere in such beautiful colors, rich textures, and romantic aromas that my senses were in overdrive. 

Home Improvement

When we purchased our home over two years ago we knew eventually we’d want to do something about the front courtyard area. The previous owners, who’d built the home, paid a gardener to tend the two small plots on either side of the front walkway twice a month, but Studly and I weren’t crazy about taking on another bill. Actually I remember the conversation going something like:

Studly: We can’t afford both a gardener and a housekeeper.

Me: Cross off gardener. Check.

And that was the end of that story.

Except that we didn’t really think about the amount of yard work this courtyard area required. There was weeding and raking and digging and more weeding and since neither of us wanted to do any of that it just didn’t get done. Before too long Doright Manor’s entryway was overgrown and under utilized. 

I had the bright idea of having the area done in paving stones, but the estimate in the neighborhood of seven grand put a damper on that idea. Occasionally I’d go putter about trying to clean up all the unidentifiable growing things, but my efforts made it even uglier.

Finally Studly and I drew up a plan to do something simple and hopefully manageable with our courtyard. That was months ago, and we worked on it a little bit in the evenings and on weekends. 


We had to till everything up and cap off sprinklers.


Then we put down heavy duty matting and laid out some big stones before adding mulch.


We plan to add a decorative potting bench and container plants on this side.

Then on the opposite side we placed a little bench that I found at the French Country Flea Market on Friday. I fell in love with the butterfly shape. 


Now we need to personalize the courtyard with accents and plants for a more finished look. I’m not much of a decorator, so I know there will be a good deal of trial and error involved, but maybe this is something we can keep in good order without too much effort from a pair of non-gardeners. And I get to keep my housekeeper. 

Peace, people!

Home Sweet Home Depot

I spent Tuesday afternoon wandering about the garden section of our nearest Home Depot. I don’t garden, but Studly Doright has promised we’ll fix up our courtyard area this week. And not a moment too soon–I feared hurricane cleanup crews were going to mistake our residence for a disaster area and begin removing debris from the premises. 

Studly and I have a great many ideas for improving the courtyard-style entryway. A few of them are even approximately the same.

I know that on the right side I want a garden of low maintenance potted plants and a small potting bench, with a scattering of stepping stones similar to these:



I picture the area as welcoming, and not at all formal. Studly and I can’t quite agree on the material to cover the ground. Do we want mulch or river rocks? 


If we go with river rocks, I think dark ones will look spiffy with the red brick of our home.

And the plants? I just have no idea. The area receives full sunlight for most of the day, so something that will grow well receiving the sun’s ardent attention is a must.


We are edging into fall here in Florida, so I’ll need to take that into consideration. Thank goodness for Google and YouTube and every other modern resource at my fingertips. But if any real gardeners have suggestions I’d love to hear from you.

Peace, people!

The Dark Side Of Flowers

Smell the rot
beneath the roses,
steeped in mud
around the bower.
festoon the arbor
all you’d like
the stench remains
through eyes’ delight.
arranged bouquets
stripped bare of thorns
from loamy mulch,
are petals born.

  

Banana Spider

We have a small area just outside of our front door that as far as I can tell holds no purpose other than to propagate weeds. The folks who built the home had a gardener to care for the ground cover plants that grew there, but when given a choice between employing a part time housekeeper or a gardener, there was no contest. Housekeeper won by a mile.

Logically I should have known that the pretty plants would need tending eventually and that I probably would end up with that job, but denial runs strong in my family. 

Last summer I stumbled about trying to maintain some semblance of respectable home ownership, but this year the courtyard has just gone to pot. Not literally–pot isn’t yet legal in Florida, so don’t send the sheriff’s department out our way, but figuratively. 

Things that made for pretty ground cover a year ago are sprouting tufts that look like an old man’s whiskers, and the uglier stuff is back with a vengeance. We plan to do something creative with the area, but it just hasn’t happened yet. Why? Golf. I blame golf.

Periodically I go out and talk to these plants/weeds as I bend, sweat, and pull, bend, sweat, and pull. It’s all very tender talk: “Go away you ugly sons of bitches, you’re making our home look bad to the UPS and FedEx guys.”

Today I was bending, sweating, and pulling while cursing these plants, and I stumbled into a banana spider’s web.

  
I didn’t realize at first that it was a banana spider’s web. I was too busy slapping at my head and shoulders to remove any arachnids that might have transferred from the web to my body. When I stepped out of the web I looked up and there she sat. Huge. 

Banana spiders in Florida are not poisonous, but they will bite and I understand the bites are quite painful. I continued to pull weeds, but now I had one eye on the spider. Cursing, bending, sweating, and pulling.

Peace, people!