Thursday, July 31, 2008

orange-black bugs

Orange & black marked bugs were spotted twice yesterday and once again today on the orange double day lily and the swamp milk weed plants. What bug this is?  I have no idea. What a great color it has, the bright color may be to warn birds do not to eat its' sour carcass. I see  in the black marking on the back of its body a black heart. To see that detail, open the blow up of the first bug picture in the milk weed fairies.  I hope they don't harm the flowers. Then there was that tiny ant on one of the last pink day lilies. It is sweet there all alone, high in the sky, 30 inches off the ground on the lip of the flower's petal fearlessly searching for some nectar. 

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

new day lily & Fuji blues

golden sunflower

white day lily

Today a new flower is blooming in our garden. It is the milky white day lily that Keith bought for me earlier this summer. He was ordering Rothschild's lilies for himself and asked if I wanted anything from the catalog. I was always interested in the white day lily and he got me two late in the season for a deal of a price. One of the lilies is in a pot and the other in the garden's ground. Each lily has had buds for a couple weeks but today one flower opened on each plant. How's that for synchronicity? Also this week we have my lovely Fuji morning glories that open one or two at a time on the vine with fuzzy green and white marked leaves. One of my favorite colors is that deep blue ever since I read book by Michel Pastoureau about the history of the color blue. I am excited today to discover the same writer is about to publish a book about the history of the color black. That will go on my wish list of books to read. We have sunflowers opening this week, tallest new flower in the garden. Sometime last night there was some rain which is glad news for me and the garden.

Tour de France is over and I have been watching daily programs over the last three weeks and Cor Windhouwer sent great daily Tour reports with photos to help me keep up and to get his take on the news of the day's race. I am a big fan of bicycling and regret not being fit to ride my slick road bike due to spinal problems the past 8 years.

My male figure drawing group had it's last night at the Warehouse Gallery last night. We have been drawing in their gallery since July of 2001. Friend and regular attendee Dan Murray brought us a huge chocolate torte to celebrate the finish or our great weekly entertainment. Now, I have a few Monday nights off until I find a new home for my drawing group.

Note: that the photos posted on this blog can be blown up larger by double clicking on the title or on the photographic image. Some of the details are amazing to see full size! After you get a close up view then use your web browser's back button to return to the blog page.

Monday, July 28, 2008


Our grand father Nunley was a musical fellow who was pretty quiet otherwise, we never heard him say much or tell a story, but he did sing little ditties he made up while standing around jingling the loose change and a pocket knife in his pants pocket. 
Jenny remembers this one, one of our favorites. 
In a email about her favorite memories of our past summers with the Nunley clan in the Narrows deep in the Appalachian mountains she wrote these memories which I wanted to share today. 
Well, copy and paste doesn't seem to be working in this blogger form so I have to type it in...
Jenny wrote:
Some of my favorite memories of Grandma & Grandpa's: home made biscuits w/Grandma's STRAWBERRY preserves, green beans, fresh tomatoes, homemade donuts, picking the sour cherries and green apples from their fruit trees and the creepy huge black ants that lived on those trees. Also, washing off the porches every morning to get rid of the coal dust so we wouldn't get black feet and track it inside the house! Then we would sit on the gliders and snap beans or shuck corn from our Grandpa's garden. Grandpa Nunley always sang funny little songs he made up for the kids: "Lucille, stepped on a banana peel...." remember that one? And at night, when we were all in bed, windows open to the cool mountain evening, and hear the lone whistle and sound of the trains going down the track. I always wondered where the trains were headed to. Nice way to fall asleep and dream.

Jenny sent this rendition of, the long ago, Grandpa Nunley song


Oh, Lucille, Lucille, stepped on a banana peel. Fell down and skinned her heel. Said "oh brother, how bad I feel since I stepped on that banana peel, and I'm never goin' step on a banana peel a anymore!

Well, now you see Lucille sure has kept her word; she steps softly as a bird, and she's never stepped on a banana peel a anymore.

Repeat chorus:
Oh Lucille, Lucille, stepped on a banana peel. Fell down and skinned her heel. Said "oh brother how bad I feel since I stepped on a banana peel, and I'm never goin' to step on a banana peel a anymore! 

Now you see Lucille she creeps around the house, she steps softly as a mouse, and she's never stepped on a banana peel a anymore!

Chick-a-plunk! Chick-a-plunk! Chick-a-plunk-plunk! 
And she's never stepped on a banana peel a anymore!

That is how Jenny remembers the words to Lucille writing in the 1960s by George D. Nunley and performed numerous times for any kid that wanted to hear the tune. He used a foot tap and some thigh slapping to give the beat to his song. 

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Narrows Virginia

Narrows, Virginia is where my father's family lived when he was a teenager in the 1940s and where he took me and my sister Jenny to stay with his parents and our aunts and uncles for about 6 weeks each summer. Visiting last weekend for his funeral we got to spend a night in the old family house which remains little changed from my childhood. My Aunt Alice still owns the house as well as hers which is right next door. Aunt Alice also has a mountain house and some acres up in the back country where she prefers to spend her time nearer to nature and her mountain friends. I have fond memories of being there those summers we were left to be spoiled by Grand ma & pa Nunley and  Aunt Beth in Narrows, then also the fun of staying up at Aunt Alice & Uncle Kenny's mountain farm with ponies, turkeys, chickens, phesants and wild life! The diamond back rattle snakes I don't remember so fondly but we did meet with them now and then and I learned to watch my step very carefully. Hoot owls and mountain lions or wild cats cries at night made it kind of scary to get to sleep with all the windows open.  This is coal country in the deep Appalachian mountains but my family didn't work in coal mines, they all worked at a thread spinning factory which is still there today. I recall they were on shifts working day and night so we always had to be careful not to wake the sleepers. 7-11, 11-7 and 7-3 all around the clock. Food was always cooking for one meal or another in grandma's Kitchen. I remember fondly the delicious home made cakes she used to bake for my birthdays which were sometimes celebrated in Narrows. The town Narrows is across the New river which passes by just down the hill from this house. In one picture from Aunt Alice's town house you can see the mountains go up from the narrow pass that gives the town it's name. The Nunley Narrows home had a couple big gardens for food and various flowers grew all around to cheer up the place back when I was a kid. One that I recall being especially nice which has survived to this day is the lovely batch of four o'clocks that grow and reseed along the driveway on the side of the house. Jenny and I collected seeds and brought them home to plant many times. I have a front yard full of them now and Jenny in Texas says she has them year round in her climate but they only bloom part of the year. They open late in the day and stay open all night with a sweet perfume that draws moths who pollenate. This house used to be heated by a large coal burning furnace that was in the basement along with the wash machines and the coal storage bin and a lot of jars of canned foods from the big garden. It was part of the work they did each summer to can the fresh tomatoes and green beans and sometimes there were pickles and always some strawberry jam. We usually missed the fresh strawberries my grandfather grew from the garden but the jam was always there. I was very picky, I hated the seeds in strawberry jam so I used the excellent grape jelly Grandma made mostly for me. I did say I was spoiled, didn't I? She had a neighbor down the road who had some nice concord grapes on a vine that grew along her front porch. I don't know how Grandma managed to get a tub full of those grapes every summer to make grape jelly for me, but I sure am glad she did. I have a lot of fond memories as most of us do of our grand parents and childhood and I miss those days in some ways but I am glad now to be grown up and in control of my own life. I got one thing I wish I hadn't from those mountains a fear of driving on the curvy roads. I would love to go back and stay longer but I honestly get white knuckles when I have tried to drive over the mountains to grandmothers house. 


The funeral of my dad was last weekend a week ago in Pearisburg, Virginia at the Birchlawn cemetery where his family is buried. We had a local military honors guard and veterans who did a flag ceremony, they shot off 21 gun salute and played taps then presented the flag to our mother. There was a nice group of mourners there including much of our family from that area down near his family home in Narrows, VA. His only surviving sister my aunt Alice knows lots of people down there since she never left.  Some of her friends turned out along with my mother's sister and nieces who still live in the mountains. I found it very helpful emotionally to shoot photos during some of the service which was a bit upsetting to my aunt Alice but one of the marines later said there wasn't any regulation against photography. We had a visitation at the funeral home in Manassas, VA on Friday July 18th then the next morning we took off to Pearisburg on a five hour drive for this service you see in the pictures. Friday evening I was surprised at some of my old friends who showed up at the visitation. One guy we used to call Waldo, now Jim Foster with  his wife Ellen Wood who used to be our next door neighbor were such a delight to see. I haven't see Jim since my first summer home from college back in 1975. He still has long blonde curly hair and deep blue eyes but we both have bigger waists. It was great to have a moment to slip back to the good old days of my high school adventures with him.  Also in attendance at the Friday night visit was another childhood pal Larry Ayers and his wife Holly. Larry and I go back to his first birthday party. His parents and mine went to college together in Blacksburg and Radford, VA then ended up living across the hall from each other in Huntington right outside of Wash. DC. by pure coincidence and they remained close family friends ever since. We have shared many happy times together, Dad even designed a large addition to the Ayers family home at one point in the late 1960's. Larry's parents provided a lot of support for us while Dad was in hospital and hospice and I am very grateful to Margaret Ayers for the foot lockers full of delicious foods she brought us that first week Dad was in the hospice. My sister Jenny was here with us almost at the beginning of the arduous weeks at hospital and hospice and Frank, her husband, came at the end to give support and he was a huge help with driving. Keith came home from a annual two week vacation with his family and joined right in our vigil then traveled with us to the funeral and for his first visit to Narrows and my grandparents house. 
I know this trip was hard for both of them and Frank and Keith seemed to be helping each other when the Nunleys got too thick.  Today is a week since the funeral and it is my aunt Alice's 81st birthday. I just spoke to her one the phone to wish her some happiness on the day. She seems glad to talk and tell tales any time. Today it was about the deer with three babies near her house up in the mountains and the neighbor's nephew Bobbie (41 years old) who was found dead this week whom they buried yesterday. She told me we can get a military benefit to pay for a tombstone for Dad's grave. She did for our adopted Uncle Lewis years ago. 
Today, Mom's best friend Mildred is visiting from her beach home in Myrtle Beach, SC and I had a chat with them both this afternoon. They seem to be having a good visit and it has lifted Mom's spirits to have Mildred there. I worried earlier in the week about what my mother will do now that she is alone but I am delighted she is free now to do a lot, if she can figure out what it is she wants to do. I had a nice visit with the relatives down in the mountains last weekend and I was sorry it was so short because all the fun of my childhood visits to grandparents came rushing back to me soon as we sat on the old glider on the back porch. It is so beautiful in the mountains this time of year. Green and cool and birds singing in every tree it is great to have Dad back down there where in such a beautiful place. 

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

casablanca lily

The funeral is over the services are done and I am home. I have images of that whole experience but I am not ready to write about that today. I didn't want to leave the blog empty until I got my act together to write about the trip and the family and the ride down south so I decided to look for some flower to add here today. These lilies I first discovered back in the 1980's when I worked at the once famous NYC  florist Pure M├ądderlake of the upper east side. M├ądderlake used Casablancas a lot and I really liked the way they opened after being fully tight buds one could count on a weeks' worth of display and sweet perfume and pure white color. 
The Casablanca lilies were in bloom this week in our yard but I caught a few photos of them that make me very happy. We also had a bunch of beautiful white Casablanca lilies in the flowers sent to my family home which have a very powerful scent. Now a days I like to keep these lilies outside in our garden. It seems to me here in our small home it is too much to have these strong perfumes permeating the air. This lily like many others has bright orange pollen on the sexual parts of the flower which florists usually remove because if you leave them the pollen can fall off and stain fabric of table cloths or even clothes if you lean in to get a close sniff! The best way to get that orange pollen off is to dust it off as best you can, before you wash the cloth or skin. 

Thursday, July 17, 2008

a few flowers

black and blue salvia
As I mentioned yesterday the Casablanca lilies are beginning to open, pictures coming soon and I caught an odd looking bee up close on a volunteer dog daisy (my grandmother's name for that flower) which are no bigger than the tip of your little finger.  A few of the flowers that have popped out this past couple weeks which I haven't had time to show off were the lovely tall blue balloon flowers. These come from seeds we collected in Williamsburg, VA along side the road one afternoon near the Colonial Williamsburg Inn. I noticed a huge bed of  balloon flowers gone to seed in October and collected a few in a candy wrapper. I like balloon flowers tall but the nurseries around here only stock the short hybrids so I was excited to find seeds to grow some tall ones in our garden at home. You see them here when they first began to bloom with the bee balm's red flowers and yellow yarrow and the cone flowers pink in the back ground. 
Next is the sweet orange flowers speckled with red dots called a black berry lily. It related to iris and has foliage that looks like iris but instead of roots for spreading this flower blooms for one day and then twists up and forms a thick pod below the flowers spent petals which become a knot for  few days then falls off. Inside the pod develop a bunch of seeds that will display in the fall as the weather cools and the plant dies it bursts open to show off these black berries! When collected like the balloon flower seeds it takes a season to grow the plant and the second season it flowers and produces seeds for the cycle of two years or biannual  flowering to repeat. They are very drought tolerant and easy to grow. 
My next presentation for today is the black and blue salvia we got last year at the Beltsville nursery. The color alone sold us on them. Bees like them but I noticed that they drill a hole at the base of the black part and suck nectar from there instead of entering the flower's blue doorway. I will leave it there for today. Thanks to all who have commented on my Dad's passing. 

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

dad left us

Sunday afternoon, I spent a few minutes with my Dad alone. I had been to Dupont Circle farm market and bought fresh flowers in reds for his bedside and arranged them and set them at the end of the bed. I doubt he could see them but they were bright and we all enjoyed them. I sat down and did a quick sketch of his head sleeping in the bed next to the little teddy bear my sister brought to him a day or two earlier for the few minutes we were alone. Mom and my sister arrived and I set image making aside. We have been there in hospice along side his bed and advising his nurses and doctors about his needs and medical history for five days in this hospice and four days at the hospital hospice. Yesterday was my mother's birthday and we planned a little trip to get her away from this sad scene but when we arrived to meet her we found that Dad was much more grave and she decided to post pone the field trip. So we made the best of a sad situation and got carryout sandwiches from the Italian Store on Lee Highway a nearby favorite of mine and Keith's and many locals. We ate our gourmet lunch in the beautiful weather under the lovely gazebo at the hospice. Noticed a brown rabbit, downy woodpecker, blue jay, chip monk and several other colorful song birds. Keith told some funny stories and we had a hearty laugh... Then towards the end of this lovely day we decided to all go home for some rest. The call came to my Mom about two in the morning Wednesday 7-16-08 that dad left us. We have the next steps all planned and ready to go. I will let you read about it at the Perice funeral home website.  Click on Clarence Nunley 7-16-08 for details. 

My favorite white lilies,"the Casablanca" began blooming on Mom's birthday as they have done for several years now. Dad went into CCU on his 78th birthday a couple weeks ago 7-30-08 but he has been very ill for many years now and he only survived this long because of the excellent support and care my mother has given him. Let me say my thanks to her, here for all her love and care and especially for helping Dad get along so well all these years. 

Saturday, July 12, 2008

more flowers

I am working through the sadness of my father's situation by admiring flowers in my garden and at the hospice garden. Several times in the past week medical staff have asked questions about some of the cut flowers in his rooms and how they are grown. I guess they think I have a green thumb or so they say. I think anyone who wants to grow something can do it by trying until it is successful. Nature is pretty forgiving if you don't get head strong about what the results are going to be and surprises happen all the time good and bad. My favorite is when a flower shows up somewhere I didn't plan. I have nick named these flowers and plants "volunteers" because they just join in the symphony of color and pop up in unexpected ways. This years volunteers include orange cosmos, marigolds, a black eyed Susan, several mullein plants a purple nicotina and others. We are at the peak of bloom for summer flowers. Lots of day lilies are giving up their best blooms and hostas are coming and going into flower and out. The big lilies are about near to blossom and the summer phlox is giving out new blooms each day. Autumn's flowers like mums, astors and sedums are setting buds.