So many words, so little time....

Friday, July 23, 2004

Mr. North, meet South. Mr. South, meet North....

I met my first magnolia trees recently. From a confirmed northerner's standpoint, these things were vague fictional ideas and wafting scents as you go by the cosmetics counters. You only see them through those plastic floral arrangements my Gramma used to keep in her bathroom.

When we moved our offices, the new building had these trees leading up to the back door. I didn't think much of them. I thought they were young versions of a tree I'd become familiar with in West Seattle called a madrona. They are have fleshy, shiny leaves, and instead of their bark cracking or growing with them, they shed it like snakes all the time when they get big. But one day about two weeks ago, I came by and what I thought was just a leaf-bud on the ends of a low-hanging branch had opened, and a white flower the size of my hand had opened up. I stopped for several minutes and just looked at it.

The scent was an odd combo of lemon and melon, with just a hint of something that says floral instead of fruit. When I touched the huge petals the scent came off on my hands. Now that I knew what to look for, I could see the green fisted cones everywhere, and smiled. This was going to be around for a while. I watched that flower closely as I came and went each day. It went through it's cycle of opening and eventually wilting, turning brown and falling away. There are hundreds of them now, all over all four trees. The scent when you walk by is just heavenly, sort of what Pledge wishes it was.

It has given me something that I never had before - a practical understanding of the whole metaphor behind the film (and play) Steel Magnolias. They are beautiful, in their big bold way with their strong scent and ivory blossoms. The connection with high-maintenance teased hairdos and fussy suits is easy to make. You can see the other side, too. They are really messy trees. They shed leaves and dead brown petals everywhere, and the pointed stamens of the flowers when they are done. The landscaper doesn't have very kind words for them because every week he has to clean all that out of the blocks of ivy that grow under them.

I love them, I have to admit. I would consider cleaning them up to be worth it, or re-work my yard's groundcover so their shedding just worked into the landscape. If I ever get a yard of my own, I want a corner of it with a group of these, with lavender and lilac bushes planted around their toes, and an old trailing wysteria vine arching over. All you would need is an Adirondack chair, a pitcher of sweet tea, and a trashy novel for a perfect summer day from April to October.

Been seeing an interesting phenomena elsewhere, too. Some plants from home have been cropping up. Back home, there's a plant called fireweed. It's a gangly thing (some varieties can be up to 7' tall) and a perniscious weed. When the shoots are young they make a tasty wild green, but that's about all they're good for. Except that for a time during the summer they will literally light the hills on fire with their tall spikes of fuscia flowers.

Driving around here, I've seen several patches starting. People must be dragging the seeds down here on their tires, and the rain washes them into the ditches on the rural roads and they sprout. Looking into it, they say that it can be seen all over the Western states, but down here it usually sprouts after a forest or brush-fire. For me, it's like little patches of homesickness sprouting by the roadsides.

I'm still finding stuff about this new place long after most people would no longer call it a new place. You just never know what you're going to get. It strikes me as kind of odd, though. The South came here to meet me, and the North is following in my wake.

Friday, July 16, 2004

I'm Late!  I'm Late!  For a very important date!  No time to say "Hello!"  Goodbye! I'm late, I'm late, I'm late.....
We've gone a little nuts around here.  We have been having a long string of problems with our website at work that make it nearly impossible to use for just a few of our customers.  For them, it just stops dead.  We don't see a bloody thing when we test it, of course.  ARRGHHHH!
We think we just put several nails in the coffin lid, though.  So I'll be spending the weekend beating the living daylights out of our proposed solution to see if it gets the job done and doesn't break anything else.  Sometimes, this job is not as much fun as others. 
Razzle-frazzin' Norton......