Ok, I’ve gotten used to the face masks. That’s not to say I’m happy with it.

One, I sometimes, if the person I’m talking with is also wearing a mask, have trouble deciphering who that person is. Isn’t it surprising how important the mouth is to one’s identity?  I quickly learned, though, that the voice can be a defining factor.  A few moments of back and forth is usually enough to tip me off.  Kind of reminds me in a way of that TV show in the 60’s, “What’s my line?” where the blindfolded panel had to guess the identity of the mystery guest.


Two, a mask camouflages expression.  Just as an email conceals emotion, a face mask hides smiles or frowns, quizzical looks, or exasperated looks.

Three, a mask inhibits,  I’ve found to my dismay, the ability to smell lilacs or jasmine as well as the ability to easily wipe a drippy nose.

I guess face to face is on hold for a while.

Off the top of my head – May 9, 2020

A May dilemma for a gardener – who wants to squander daylight hours by sitting inside composing a blog?!  So, briefly, Redbuds in bud. Serviceberries aglow in white. Bluebirds return (yay – it’s always cause for wonder whether they’ll find us).  Daffodils at their cherry best.  Families and dogs walking by, waving.  Will the frost warnings prove accurate?  No matter, enjoy the day.


A half mile down the road from where we live is a church.  Used to be, the sound of Sunday church bells felt welcoming, cheering.  Given the current state of affairs, yesterday’s normally glorious pealing evoked more of a plaintive, hollow feeling.  There was not the usual stream of Churchward heading cars.

Arla and I feel indeed lucky to have access to a greenhouse across the street.  It comes in handy for wintering all manner of non-hardy plants that in moderate months populate pots and urns on our back terrace and front steps.  With weather promising to be on the mild side here on in, we’d set Saturday last for the semiannual migration of the van loads of tree ferns and begonias, succulents and salvias. Those who don’t share our affinity for chlorophyll might think we’re crazy, the time we spend shuffling plants back and forth, and they might be more than half right in that assessment, but the joy of seeing the kids back at home makes the effort worthwhile.  Matter of fact, we rather look forward to the ritual. Crazy, indeed.

A prized possession is a weeping Japanese maple (not hardy) that we picked up some years ago. It has wintered happily at the Kelley and Kelley root cellar and summered equally as happily on the terrace. It was in full leaf and flower Saturday.  I’ll bet it didn’t take pollinators the blink of an eye to beat a bee line to this portable feast.  Amazing. The thing was teeming with activity all weekend.

Off the top of my head – April 20th, 2020

My great uncle Harold Kelley was a travelling salesman – a rare bird these days – who kept himself impeccably, even his retirement years.  He’d hardly walk out to the mailbox without first shining his shoes and running a slather of brylcreem through his tidily – kept head of hair. 

I recall visiting him in his later years when he was living with his daughter and son-in-law in suburban San Francisco, at the time-likely in the mid 1970’s - leisure suits were fashionable for men.  The fabric must have had some magnetic qualities that attracted dog hair like bears to honey.  Great uncle Harold couldn’t come within 5’ of the family dog but his slacks looked like they were made of a fuzzy mohair.  Nothing would do but he’d have to change outfits – and remember to make a side swath around the family dog.

Well, I suspect great uncle Harold would share his head over the current goings on.  I procrastinated long enough that now, with barbershops on hiatus, my head of hair gives me the appearance of a ragamuffin.  I’m lobbying for curbside haircuts.

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To preserve a safe shopping visit, we think you know the drill. But in case you just got off the ship, how about a few tips –

-       Maintain your distance

-       Employ masks and gloves

-       We know the aisles in the greenhouse are narrow (they’re pre-virus aisles) so please limit occupancy to one person per aisle.

-       We’re aware the impulse is great to do otherwise, but try your  best to not handle merchandise unless you’re at least 85% certain you’ll be leaving with it,  (sort of a garden center version of “you break it you buy it”)

-       Smile, you’re in nature.

Though we won’t be having our annual open house this spring, we couldn’t let 
Barbara Ryan off the hook.  She’s scratched her head and spread her pixie dust
over her latest creations - larger than life - size bees flitting over larger than
life- size flowers.  She will be showing off her wares in the gardens at Kelley and
Kelley on May 9, 16 and 23 from 9:00 to 2:00. Come see.  Social distance yourselves and spread the fun.
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