Rose Of Sharons Past And Present

This is our Rose of Sharon shrub, otherwise known as Hibiscus syriacus.  Our Rose of Sharon shrub is actually made up of four separate shrubs that have grown together to appear as one.  There are two bushes that bloom with pink flowers and another two bushes that bloom with white flowers.  It has been here since we moved into the house on Glen Road.  What amazes me is that the Rose of Sharon is a late bloomer, only beginning to show its flowers in August.  As many trees and shrubs are so affected in their blooming by how much water they receive, that the Rose of Sharon always provides such beautiful flowers in the intense heat of August is amazing.  I wrote a whole post last year about the Rose of Sharon and how they grow.  This year I was more interested in how this Hibiscus syriacus got such an unusual name like Rose of Sharon.  As with most stories of origin, the answer lies in the Bible if you believe the research that I have conducted.

The name, “Rose of Sharon” can be traced back to the Bible’s Old Testament in the Song of Solomon 2:1.  Here it is from 2:1 through 2:7:

I am a Rose of Sharon, a lily of the valleys.

Like a lily among thorns is my darling among the maidens.

Like an apple tree among the trees of the forest is my lover among the young men.  I delight to sit in the shade, and his fruit is sweet to my taste.

He has taken me to the banquet hall, and his banner over me is love.

Strengthen me with raisins, refresh me with apples, for I am faint with love.

His left arm is under my head, and his right arm embraces me.

Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you by the gazelles and by the does of the field:  Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires.

Rose of Sharon was once thought be indigenous to Syria, thus the origin of the syriacus part of the botanical name.  Because of its Syrian roots, it was believed possible that it was the very shrub alluded to in Solomon’s erotic song.  Botanists subsequently learned that this is actually one of many plants from China, but have retained the misleading species name.  It is now believed that the Rose of Sharon mentioned in Solomon’s song most likely was some sort of crocus.

I also remember the sister in the book ‘The Grapes Of Wrath’ by John Steinbeck.  Her name was Rose of Sharon.  Whenever our Rose of Sharon shrub blooms, it always reminds me of my reaction to reading the book as part of a college prep course that I took when I was 14.  I was considered mature beyond my mere 14 years of life so the teacher thought I was plenty old enough to read the book.  Throughout the book, the sister, Rose of Sharon, was pretty flat, one-dimensional and boring.  All that changed after she lost her baby and in the last chapter gave us a somewhat creepy, but very hopeful ending where Rose of Sharon “helps” out the starving man.  I remember closing the back cover and screaming out in the middle of the classroom, “Ewwww, gross?!?”  I guess I wasn’t as mature as the teacher thought.  Seeing the pink and white blooms on our Rose of Sharon all these years later still makes me think of that incident and I always get a little smile and then giggle about one of my first experiences with great American literature.

If you haven’t read the book and don’t know what the creepy, but very hopeful ending is all about, please let me know.  I’m already thinking how I would write about it without angering half of my reading audience.  🙂

Friday Dance Party – Emeli Sandé’s ‘Next To Me’ With A Routine I Like

It’s time for another edition of Friday Dance Party here on Acorns On Glen.  It’s the time where we give thanks for making it through another week and for being alive and present here on Earth.  How do we celebrate another week of living?  We dance.  So, are you alive this Friday?  Are you and your family safe and sound?  Take a few seconds now to be in the moment and realize what a great life you truly have.  Did you give thanks for that?

Good, now let’s dance.

So I know my post is late today versus previous Friday Dance Party posts.  There is a reason and it has to do with routine.  I have been thinking a lot lately that I am getting sick and tired of doing the same routine day in and day out.  I want my life to be more exciting, more spontaneous.  Honestly, I do the same things at the same time day after day after day.  For example, I brush my teeth every day at 7:15 AM.  I leave for work at 8:10 AM.  I eat the same foods over and over.  I go to bed at the same time every night.  I am feeling like an old boring man and I want to change it up.  I want to live life more on the edge.  Be careful what you wish for…..because today I got my wish!

I walked out of the house this morning thinking my briefcase was in the car.  I was the last one to leave the house and so I locked it up tight.  With just my car key, my cellphone and a Pepsi Max, I went to my car only to realize that I did not have my briefcase.  It wasn’t inside my car.  Instead, it was inside the locked house.  Which means I don’t have a house key, an office key, a file drawer key where I lock my work computer up each night or a security badge to get into work.  All of these things are in my briefcase.  So I call everyone that has a key to the house on Glen Road and, of course, no one answers.  They just don’t answer their phones, but their texts and emails as well.  Smartphones are great if everyone utilizes them at the same time!  I finally decide to go to work–I’ll be in there in person and, worse case, I won’t have my computer.  However, most of my remaining morning has been tied up in getting a temporary security badge to get into my company’s building, then waiting for security to come unlock my office.  I have found out there are loaner computers, but they take an hour to be delivered and another hour to load with your personal settings.  Bottom line, it’s noon and I’m sick of change.  I want my old, boring, routine life back.  What was I thinking?  I don’t want to have to beg, plead, show my ID or pay money to get one-day replacements.  Can Friday start again the old way for me?  I just want everything I like and need to be right up next to me.  Which reminds me of this week’s song.  It’s ‘Next To Me’ by Emeli Sande.  Emeli is a big hit in the UK and only now being heard in the US.  So turn up your speakers and dance.  You’ve scored another week.  Even if it’s been a little wild and frenzied, like my Friday, it still counts.  I’ll see you later….it is about 12:30 PM here….that’s the time I ALWAYS eat lunch.  I love my routine!

Friday Dance Party – Bon Jovi’s ‘Wanted Dead Or Alive’

Guess what?  It is time for another edition of Friday Dance Party on Acorns On Glen.  It’s the time where we give thanks for making it through another week and for being alive and present here on Earth.  How do we celebrate another week of living?  We dance.  So, are you alive this Friday?  Are you and your family safe and sound?  Take a few seconds now to be in the moment and realize what a great life you truly have.  Did you give thanks for that?

Good, now let’s dance.

Do you ever have one of those weeks that seem to fly by?  So fast that it is almost a blur.  You know you went through it, but you don’t remember much about it.  Well, this seems to be the week that I’ve had.  I’ve been working a lot and so that has left little time to do other, more exciting things.  Who would have thought that the woodchuck trapping adventure would be the highlight of my week?  It seems for a while that all I was doing was running a 24-hour woodchuck reporting network.  I was so crazed to catch that animal and save my garden!  One part of the story I didn’t write about yet was that every time I went out to deal with the trap I hummed or sang Bon Jovi’s ‘Wanted Dead or Alive’ under my breath.  The song just seemed to get me into the proper mindset for the work that had to be done.  Funny how I feel bad now about removing the animal from our property.  It’s like the universe is going to hunt me down or something for upsetting the cosmic pecking order of things in the environment.  So here’s to the woodchuck and all the excitement that he caused.  Yes, the woodchuck was ‘Wanted – Dead or Alive’.  Glad the alive part worked out for him.  Glad the week worked out for us.  Another one down and we made it through.  Let’s celebrate and dance to my personal ode to the varmint, Bon Jovi’s ‘Wanted Dead or Alive’.  I’ve always liked this song and the video with the big hair from the ’80s brings back a lot of old memories.  Honestly, I kind of miss that big-haired rocker look.  Do you?  Have fun dancing!

This Means War!

WANTED – DEAD OR ALIVE

Yes, it’s you I’m talking to Woodchuck.  Your crime?  Crimes against humanity.  Crimes against a garden, it’s owner and all the vegetables and flowers you’ve destroyed.  After what you’ve done while I was on vacation means that I have to take our battle up a notch.  It’s me versus you.  Man versus beast.  One of us has to go and it’s not going to be me…..I have way too many things that I’d have to pack.  I knew something was up in my garden and now I am keenly aware that it is not a slug problem.  How do I know it’s you, Woodchuck?  It all starts the morning after my return from Las Vegas and a walk back to the garden.  These are the green beans that I saw and now grow.  No slug could do this.  I found the hole you dug under the fence and looked at all your destruction.

YOU GOTS TO GO!!

As someone who loves to garden, seeing my garden in bad shape was pretty devastating.  I tried to stop the damage early, as many of you have read, and thought that I had been successful.  Between the fence, the company that came and set traps and moved animals to another location and the various slug removal ideas made it look like I was beyond the destruction that had been occurring.  I felt so smart!!  Well, that is not the case anymore.  I’m taking matters into my own hands.  I am going to become my own Daniel Boone and catch Woodchuck on my own.

ENOUGH IS ENOUGH

How?  I bought a woodchuck sized Havahart trap.  I saw how the firm that came early this season set their trap up.  They put their trap inside a black contractor’s garbage bag.  Makes it look less like a trap and more like a dark little tunnel to those smart woodchuck critters.  I can do that.  They filled it with onions.  I’m going to do one better….I have read a number of internet articles and I’m filling my trap with ripe cantaloupe, sliced onions and seafood flavored cat chow.  I am going to put the food in the front of the trap, in the middle of the trap and then in the back so that when Woodchuck gets back there, it will trip the lever and the door will come down and trap it.  I’ve decided that on Friday and Saturday night, I will not set the trap, but fill it with food.  Woodchuck will come both days and eat the food and get used to the set up.  Then I’ll set it on Sunday and hope that Woodchuck feels comfortable going inside the trap and then I’ll get it.

I WILL WIN!!

Right now, I’m pretty sure I will be able to remove the cage if I catch Woodchuck and open it far away from Glen Road so that the animal can get out.  Well, let’s say I’m 75% sure I can do this.  I have never really liked critters, so there is always the small chance I will need someone else to do it.  I’m feeling confident though since I know that if I can’t do this, then my garden will be done for this season (if it isn’t already!).

DOWN WITH WOODCHUCKS

I’m more concerned about Woodchuck getting aggressive with me than I am about overcoming my fear of critters.  I think I’m pretty smart, but reading on the internet about woodchucks makes me believe they are smart too.  What if Woodchuck tries to trap me?!?!  Here’s hoping I’m working against a dumb woodchuck versus a smart one.  I’ll keep you posted…………..

We’re Back – Random Thoughts And Shots From Las Vegas

I know that what happens in Vegas is supposed to stay in Vegas, but I won’t give too much away from our trip.  As usual, the weather was hot and so was the Strip.  Lots of great food, some wild cocktails, a trip to see Celine, some shopping and lots of gambling has to add up to a great time and this trip was no exception.  Turn up Elvis and enjoy my random thoughts and shots from our trip.  It’s good to be home, but Viva Las Vegas!!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Restaurant Field Trip – The Whelk

Last year at about this time, we visited Le Farm restaurant in Westport, CT.  The restaurant’s owner and head chef, Bill Taibe, is one of the leaders in the area for the farm to table movement, where fresh food is bought from local farmers, brought into his restaurant and served to his customers.  In January of this year, Bill Taibe opened up his latest restaurant, The Whelk, along the water in Westport.  This new restaurant is heavily concentrated on seafood.  Just like Le Farm, The Whelk shares the same artisanal philosophy, using as many fresh and locally grown ingredients as possible.  The Whelk is also focused on fresh and sustainable seafood.

Question:  So, you are asking, what is a whelk?  The answer is below.

While the Whelk is just above the Saugatuck River, the windows in the rectangular dining area face the street, not the water.  Yet the interior has the feel of an informal seafood shack with large harbor lights hung above the bar and slatted picnic chairs and benches, the kind you might find outdoors at a roadside spot.  During our visit, there were eight main course offerings, but it is the smaller plates and appetizers that were the draw for us.  The food that we ate was so good, we are planning to return for a second round next week.  Come see what we ate at our first visit to The Whelk:

We started off with appetizers and small plates.  As in a typical seafood shack, our first courses were served on plates covered in newspaper.  Here is one BBQ little neck clam left from a plate of eight.  These were fresh clams with a little bit of BBQ sauce and bacon placed on top before being placed under the broiler for a few minutes.  These clams went fast.

Another favorite was the hot smoked trout dip served with trout roe and crackers and bread.

We have a friend who says she has never met a potato that she doesn’t like.  Here are some french fries with ketchup and a delicious smoked mayo.

A good wine that was recommended to us by our server.  The Whelk has a large list of by-the-glass and by-the-bottle wines.  This French selection was a little more acidic than I would normally like, but that worked well with the seafood that we ate during our visit.

One of my favorites!  Gulf shrimp and grits with pickled jalapeno-ramp butter and country ham.  Reminds me of our trip to Charleston, SC.

One of the more unique offerings the night we were there.  This is squid ink cavatelli with red shrimp, mexican chorizo and preserved tomatoes.

Cornmeal fried catfish with early summer slaw and walnut-pepper romesco (partly devoured at time of photo).

Rare seared line caught tuna with bacon and black olive and green pea dressing.  An offering that was limited, but we were lucky enough to “snag” one.  Get the seafood joke here?!?

My vote for “Best Of Show”.  Norman’s (we don’t know who Norman is, but he is a man with good taste) lobster butter with leeks, peas and fingerling potatoes.  We were told this is a lobster that is slowly poached and then removed from its shell.  The poaching liquid is then reduced and the lobster meat is added back along with the potatoes, peas and leeks.

What’s dinner without some dessert?  The Whelk offered a small and homey dessert menu for us to choose from.

A quickly devoured set of Whoopie Pies.  These pies never disappoint.

Two at a time…a magic bar in the background with butterscotch and sea salt.  In the front is a meyer lemon posset with cornmeal cookies.  Yummy!

As in our visit to Le Farm, we all left full and happy.  Like I said, we’ll be back on Tuesday so that shows how good The Whelk is.  If you are around Westport, you need to give The Whelk a try.  If you are like us, one trip just won’t be enough.

Answer:  So what is a whelk?  A predatory marine mollusk (family Buccinidae) with a heavy, pointed spiral shell, some kinds of which are edible.  As Bill Taibe has said, calling his restaurant Le Mer would have been too easy.

Friday Dance Party – Kiss Me Again

It’s time for another edition of Friday Dance Party on Acorns On Glen.  It’s the time where we give thanks for making it through another week and for being alive and present here on Earth.  How do we celebrate another week of living?  We dance.  So, are you alive this Friday?  Are you and your family safe and sound?  Take a few seconds now to be in the moment and realize what a great life you truly have.  Did you give thanks for that?

Good, now let’s dance.

So it is now officially Summer and, to properly bring the new season in, temperatures have soared to 100 degrees.  Needless to say, we have not gone out of the office or house much other than to get the mail or get into one of our air-conditioned cars.  100 degrees is just way too hot!!  Every year, the promise of Summer always makes me think of the same few things.  So from the official start of Summer that occurred on June 20, to the official end of Summer on September 21, here’s what I’ll be concentrating on:

  1. Vacation plans –  I mean, it is a shame not to go someplace and enjoy the warm Summer weather.
  2. How white my legs are – like Foster Farms chicken pieces laid beneath clear plastic wrap in the grocery store, my legs are that same yellowish-white color.  It is embarrassing.  Why is it that I only notice them well into official shorts weather?
  3. Sunglasses – I don’t really wear sunglasses at all, except in Summer.  So the new season always puts me into a panic until I have located my stash of prescription and non-prescription sunglasses.  I’m always scared that I have lost them.
  4. Hamburgers and hot dogs – both of these foods become my favorite when Summer hits.  Nothing like them hot off the grill.
  5. Garden hoses and nozzles – Summer means plant watering and so it is time to drag all our watering equipment out of the shed and install them into spigots in the front and back of the house.
  6. Weight – how I wish I would have stuck to my beginning-of-year diet so that I would be all thin and buff this year when I remove my shirt and jump into the swimming pool.

I also think a lot about what Summer music I will be listening to in the car or around the pool and which of these songs will be the favorite hit of the Summer.  I already know my first Summer song choice for 2012.  It’s from ‘We Are The In Crowd”.  They are an American pop punk band from Poughkeepsie, New York, formed in 2009.  If you are like me, you are saying what is pop punk?  Pop punk is a music genre that combines elements of punk rock with pop music, to varying degrees.  The genre is a strand of alternative rock, which typically merges pop melodies with speedy punk tempos, chord changes and loud guitars.  Think Green Day.  Whatever it is, I’m a fan with ‘Kiss Me Again’.  It’s Summertime!!  Not only have we made it through another week, we’ve made it through another season.  Be happy and celebrate with some pop punk and, if you are really talented, bust out all of your old punk rock moves and astound your family and friends.  In other words, have fun dancing while you watch the horror on other people’s faces who are watching your hot dance moves.  Just don’t get too over-heated…remember, it’s 100 degrees outside.