Friday Felines

Crude, rude and unattractive. Sylvester looks like a real slob sometimes. The only thing he’s missing is a beer belly.

slob sylvesterAnd he tries to be so dignified most of the time.


Gardenia memories

I scanned a lot of old pictures a few years ago to put on a digital picture frame for my mother. I was going through some of them Friday and found this one, which shows my brother Henry and me (I’m the one on the left) and, coincidentally, the gardenia I mentioned in an earlier post. The gardenia is right behind us. It looks like it’s at least six feet tall.

Mark, Henry, Gardenia

Mark, Henry, Gardenia

From more than a half a century away, these seem like pictures of someone else. I remember a lot of things from those days, but even the memories seem to be someone else’s. I was probably around seven here, so my brother was around 10. My parents would have been in their 30’s. Today I think of people that age as kids.

When I see pictures like these, I don’t see me and my family at that age, I see the entire history of the Paris family, from the young mother and father with two little boys to the aged parents who die and leave two old men behind. I see all the big events that shaped their lives, and, as you probably know, bad things seem to leave stronger memories than good things. It’s like watching a movie you’ve seen many times before, so you know what’s going to happen next. You want to call out to the characters, “No! Don’t do it!” But, of course, you can’t. It’s all going to happen again, the good and the bad, played out in my memory.

Memory is like a scolding parent trying to keep you from getting into trouble. It’s not there to make you happy, it’s there to keep you from touching that hot stove again. So looking at the old pictures I scanned is a melancholic experience. It takes an effort of will to shut up the nagging part of the brain. Yes, yes, I know, the parents die in the end, but in the meantime, let us have some fun, for dog’s sake.

Friday Felines

Zoe loves food, and he loves to lie down on the towel where we feed the dogs, but he doesn’t really love dog food. So we were a little surprised at seeing him use Lucy’s bowl for a pillow.

Zoe on Lucy's Lucy-sized bowl

Zoe on Lucy’s Lucy-sized bowl

When we looked a little while later, he had moved over to Zeke’s bowl.

Zoe on Zeke's Zeke-sized bowl

Zoe on Zeke’s Zeke-sized bowl

Silly cat.


The cold and the deer

When I was a little boy, there was a gardenia right outside our kitchen window. Since we didn’t have air conditioning, in warm weather we opened the window while we ate. When the gardenia was in bloom, its strong smell drifted into the house. I think it was probably about six feet tall, but that was a long time ago, and I was small so it might not have been that tall. Fairly frequently in those days we had winters cold enough to kill it back to the ground.

When we were looking for plants for our house, Leah and I chose some gardenias. We planted two dwarf and one variegated gardenia right beside the driveway in what we call our island. The dwarf gardenias have grown well and usually have a lot of flowers. The variegated gardenia was grown reasonably well, but has only had a handful of blooms. We like it mainly for its green and yellow leaves. The gardenias have been there for nearly nine years, and never suffered any cold damage, or at least none to speak of, but this winter has been different. The variegated gardenia is completely brown.

Variegated gardenia

Variegated gardenia. The leaves should be yellow and green

The dwarf gardenias suffered less cold damage, but they are pretty ugly right now.

Dwarf gardenias, pruned back

Dwarf gardenias, pruned back

I pruned back some of the worst parts of the dwarf gardenias, but I was afraid to cut any of the variegated variety. I think the dwarf gardenias will come back OK, but I’m not sure at all about the variegated gardenia. Its branches are still green, but it has no foliage at all now. If it doesn’t sprout new leaves this spring, I may have to cut it back drastically, assuming it even survives.

I don’t know exactly what our lowest temperature has been this winter, but it has been at least in the lower teens or upper single digits. Rome’s official lowest temperature for this winter was 0F.

Some of our plants didn’t have enough foliage to worry about cold damage. The deer made sure of that. These plants (I don’t remember what the one in the foreground is, but there is a variegated privet bush behind it, and one more like it behind that, as well as a couple of puny azaleas) are evergreens and a couple of months ago were entirely covered with green foliage. The deer have stripped all of them.


The taller shrub in the left center background is a loropetalum. It is essentially all brown now, as are two large loropetalums at the side of the house. The deer apparently don’t like loropetalum.

I have seen the culprits several time around the house and in our neighbors’ yards. Zeke has noticed them, too. I imagine that if Zeke lived outside, he would have kept the deer away.

So with cold and deer, most of our shrubs are in a pretty pitiful state. At least the daffodils will be blooming soon.


The crocuses have already bloomed, so at least we’ll have some color other than brown for the last month of winter.


The last of the storm

When you wake up in the morning and the first question you hear is, “What happened to the clock,” it’s not a good sign.

It had continued to snow Wednesday night, and by early Thursday morning, the top of Lavender Mountain was a winter wonderland. A quiet, dark winter wonderland. We lost power sometime during the night. We were one of many all over Rome and the surrounding area.

I measured seven inches of ice and snow on the deck railing. Everything in sight was covered by snow, including the roads. The pines were all sagging and several had simply snapped. One in our leach field had broken at the base. Fouche Gap Road was blocked going down into Texas Valley, and would have been blocked on the town side if someone had not used a chain saw to clear a downed pine.

As bad as it was, it could have been much worse. A little more snow, a little more ice, and it’s likely there would have been many more outages and a lot more trees down. According to the Atlanta TV stations, about a million people lost power, from Atlanta east towards Augusta. A fairly large number were still without power Friday afternoon.

We have a generator, so we could keep track of what was going on 70 miles away in Atlanta, but not, of course, what was happening down the road in Rome. The generator let us keep the refrigerator and freezer going. I don’t have the 220-volt well pump set up to run off the generator, so a long-term power outage would be a problem for us. Around mid-afternoon we were making plans to go to my mother’s house to fill up water containers when the power came back on. It was a pleasant surprise. There are only 10 houses on top of the mountain; that’s not a lot compared to the many neighborhoods without power all around us.

All in all, we didn’t have much to complain about. It was very beautiful while it lasted.

I walked Zeke partway down Fouche Gap into Texas Valley, far enough to see the big pine across the road. The son of one of our neighbors managed to get the left side of his four-wheel-drive into a ditch, and we weren’t sure he was going to get out. He did, but the big pine a little further down stopped him. He walked the rest of the way down the mountain to his home.

Thursday evening we drove down into town to have dinner. The roads at the bottom of the mountain were completely clear and there was almost no snow anywhere except in deep shade. It was a different world from up on top of the mountain.

By Friday morning, most of the snow was gone up here. The roads were clear, almost all the snow had melted off the trees, and the only snow on the ground was in the shade. We’re running short of firewood, but I found some more old, dead cedars and a couple of smallish, dead trees that I think are black locust. So we’re set for some more cold weather, but right now at 8 PM it’s 43 degrees and rain is falling. Our storm is over.

Here are a few pictures I took Thursday morning before the melt began. This is the view down our driveway.


This is looking towards the woods at the back of the house.

back_yardThis is on Fouche Gap Road looking towards Texas Valley.

down to texas valleyThis is the pine that stopped our neighbors’ son on his way down into Texas Valley. that’s Zeke’s rear end. This is the more northerly side of the mountain, so it stayed snowier longer than the road leading down to Huffaker Road and town.

downed pine