Thursday, December 31, 2020

The Jungle Room


When Olga and I were out walking this week, we noticed this tree at Fortune Green, bedecked with ribbons and handwritten notes to Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe. This tree often serves as a focal point for activities and displays supporting Nazanin, a British-Iranian woman who has been unjustly held captive in Iran since 2016. Many of the notes this time around seem to be about food and cooking, apparently a reference to Nazanin's culinary activities at her parents' home in Tehran, where she has been on house arrest since the spring. People wrote messages about their favorite holiday foods or their favorite recipes.


Here's one worthwhile wish for 2021 -- that Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe is freed and allowed to return to her home and family in London. She's basically being held prisoner by Iran as leverage in a decades-old dispute with the UK over money from an arms deal. It's an appalling situation and one that, in my view, the British government should be working much harder to resolve.

I had a pretty quiet day yesterday. I worked some in the garden in the morning, clearing more dead plants and trying to tame some of the overgrowth in the flower beds -- particularly the blackberry vines, which would take over if we let them. There's a lot more to do but I don't want to clear too much now, because insects and other critters could be using the foliage for winter shelter. When we get closer to the spring I'll start pulling out some of the excess ivy and other stuff that's growing along the side fence. (Apparently ivy is an important cold-weather food source for insects.)

I also brought in a few more plants, as the forecast called for temperatures as low as 26º F (-3º C) last night. I'm not sure it got that cold in the end, but still. Dave and I quibbled about his tree fern, which he hadn't taken any steps to protect -- I think he thought it would be OK because we weren't going to have snow, and Mrs. Kravitz hasn't done anything (as far as we can see) to protect hers. But I was still worried about it, and after I crankily and dramatically exclaimed, "Fine! Let it die!" he brought it inside. So this was our bedroom last night: 


Olga, as you can see, was not impressed.

In the end, as I said, I don't think it got as cold as expected. The coldest temperature I saw on my phone when I checked it in the middle of the night was 30º F. But better safe than sorry. Monty Don, on TV's "Gardener's World," always makes a big deal of wrapping up his tree ferns for winter, but he's out in the countryside where it probably gets colder. I'm just extra cautious because this is its first winter here, and I don't have a good sense of what it can withstand.

Having grown up in Florida, I am very attuned to the dangers of freezes, because there, a hard freeze can be super-destructive. Whereas Dave, growing up in Michigan, is used to brutal winters and the idea of coddling plants is sort of foreign to him -- the only plants he ever had were ones that could handle what nature threw at them.

Now, in the gray light of dawn, I do see a lot of frost out there.

So, yeah, New Year's Eve! Are you celebrating? We have a little bottle of bubbly that we will crack at some point this evening, before we go to bed as usual at 10 p.m. There are no noisemakers or resolutions here. I suggested to Dave that we make Hoppin' John, a traditional New Year's feast in the South, but he's not into that idea because there's not much meat in it. Dave is very much a meat guy. If I point out that he can use bacon, that might win him over. (Another potential barrier: I'm not sure we can get black-eyed peas here, at least not without planning ahead.)

Adios, 2020. Feel free to let the door hit you on the way out.

49 comments:

  1. Let us not forget the incriminatory blunder that our esteemed prime minister made with regard to Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe. Effectively he strengthened the Iranian hand. Johnson was the worst Foreign Secretary this nation has ever had.

    Your bedroom looks like a clearing in a jungle. Perhaps you should sleep with jungle sounds playing in the background. I wonder how Olga would get on with the sound of quarrelling howler monkeys and trumpeting bull elephants.

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    1. Yes, that was a terrible blunder, and even when he tried to walk it back, what's done is done.

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  2. A wonderful tribute at the end to 2020! I love the tree fern in the bedroom and I would have worried, too. The tree to Nazanin is beautiful. Wish it would make a difference.

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    1. I wish it would, too. The UK has got to solve that problem.

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  3. Seconding moving with Mitchell's comment.
    It was a chilling announcement recently from the FO that British passport holders cannot expect any help when accused/arrested abroad even when innocent

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    1. I know! What's the point of having a consulate anywhere, then?! It's one thing if you legitimately violate a foreign country's laws -- although even then you should be entitled to consular assistance -- but when you're arrested without cause you DEFINITELY should expect help from your homeland.

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  4. An interesting post but all I almost have to reply is the door whacked me on the head as I exited 2020. 10.16 pm NYE and my partner has gone to bed. I won't be far behind him.

    While you know your blog market, I just don't know Fahrenheit temps anymore. Same problem with Ken and Walt.

    Best New Year wishes to you and Dave from me downunder.

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    1. I try to state temps in both C and F for the benefit of everyone. I have never adapted to Celsius temperatures, even living here in England. I still think of everything in Fahrenheit.

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  5. Happy New Year to you both, and of course Olga. I love the tree fern, now I want one.
    Cheers Peter

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    1. If you buy one, be sure to get one with the Australian government tag saying it has been sustainably collected. There's apparently a black market in tree ferns.

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  6. I love the tree fern in the bedroom! Who WOULDN'T want a tree fern in the bedroom?
    Mrs. Kravitz, I suppose.
    I think that 2020 is going to be washed away here with rain. Woke up to it this morning and it looks like we'll be enjoying it for the next three days.
    Fine with me.
    Happy New Year, Steve.

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    1. Mrs. Kravitz's tree fern is in the ground, and I have never seen her do a thing to protect it in the winter, so they're probably much tougher than I think.

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  7. I like your jungle look even if Olga isn't impressed. Have a Happy New Year and enjoy that bubbly. I'm sure I'll have some too at some point.

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    1. I kind of like it too, but it's hard for me to get to my side of the bed!

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  8. If you were ever commissioned to illustrate the expression "whatever" Olga in pink would be perfect. A certain world weariness, a sprinkling of indifference; little surprises her any longer; content with her lot. How long has she been practicing meditation? Other than that, your bedroom (not least your lime bottom sheet) is a perfect foil for the ferns. Which reminds me: A friend of mine named her daughter Fern. Alas, like Fern's mother, she too turned out the shape of a truck driver.

    Your and Dave's Florida/Michigan juxtaposition made me laugh. For many reasons.And, yes, I made Hoppin' John once. It's nice - particularly those black eyed beans looking at you whilst forking them up.

    If you mean by "celebrating" the new year jumping up and down with joy the answer is a resounding NO. Neither do I slam a door into anyone's face not even 2020. After all, I am still alive and, more importantly, so is the Angel. I shall lay 2020 to rest, quietly, and not put too much onus on 2021 to make up for lost time and others' shortcomings.

    Steve, your blog and your photography documenting a sensitive eye for detail, your anecdotes and quiet observations have given me much pleasure in 2020. An oasis of calm, further enhanced by Olga chasing balls and squirrels and having a go at slacklining a fallen tree trunk.

    May you and Dave keep moving your respective plants as conditions in 2021 require.

    Cheers and best wishes,
    Ursula

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    1. I'm so glad you've enjoyed the blog! Olga definitely embodies that "whatever" spirit when it comes to me hauling out the camera and taking pictures. In fact, after I took that shot, she ducked under the covers so I couldn't take any more!

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  9. Happy New Year! That fern that you brought inside is huge! I have to go grocery shopping today and you reminded me of the traditional southern New Year's fare with black-eyed peas. Let's up 2021 proves to be a better year.

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    1. It IS huge. Ridiculously so. If you make Hoppin' John, let us all know, so I can live vicariously through you!

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  10. I'd never heard of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, but now she is in my thoughts and I hope for her return to her family.

    I love the Jungle Bedroom. We have the same thing here, deciding when, and which, plants need to come indoors in case we get too cold.

    We are making Black-Eyed-Peas and Kale soup, a riff on another Southern New Year's tradition, for our end of your meal.

    HNY!!

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    1. Black-eyed peas and kale basically IS Hoppin' John, though there are variations. I think to be completely authentic one uses collard greens rather than kale, but they're not always available.

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  11. that tree fern is really nice. I don't blame you for insisting it be brought in and it makes the bedroom so nice. I may have to get one. it's been raining pretty steadily here since last night with bouts of hard rain off and on.

    we have a bottle of champagne but we won't drink it til morning when we have mimosas with our brunch.

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    1. The tree fern IS a beautiful plant. Seeing it indoors really drives home how big and impressive it is, but I'll be glad when we can put it back outside!

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  12. I would have been nervous about the fern too - and it looks magnificent in your bedroom! I love Hoppin John - we've made it some years. This year we're having a bok choy/chickpea stew and calling that our luck :)

    I'll probably be awake at midnight because I've been staying up later and later these days, but Mike will probably be asleep so I'll just do a little "woo hoo" & turn out the light.

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    1. Bok choy and chickpea is an interesting Hoppin' John variation! Sounds good, though.

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  13. You mention something about clearing garden trash that I had never thought about. Yes, insects could be using plants for survival. At the very least some would become food for birds.

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    1. Yeah, the garden shows here all emphasize not being "too neat" in the garden, because dead foliage is useful for wildlife, and decaying leaves and vegetation restore the soil.

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  14. I love all the plants in your bedroom. Really looks beautiful.
    We celebrate New Year's eve when New York does. When that ball drops, it may be 9:00 pm here on the west coast, but we still shout our our happy new years and turn out the lights.
    Interestingly I have often said the very words you ended the post with, yes, "feel free to let the door hit you on the way out." SLAM!

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    1. I don't blame you for keeping New York time! Much easier!

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  15. I love that tree fern! It's beautiful and I am envious that you can grow it there. My garden is covered in snow right now. Sigh.

    Have a Happy New Year and here's hoping next year is much better.

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    1. Fingers crossed that things will be looking up for all of us!

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  16. Another Brilliant Post - Excellent Way To Wrap Up The Year - So Dig The Jungle Theme - Olga Girl, So Precious - A Happy New Year Brother Man - Keep On Keeping On

    Cheers
    P.S. Slip A Treat Under That Pink Blanket So That Olga Girls Starts 2021 Off On The Right Paw

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    1. Olga will get plenty of treats in the coming year, I promise!

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  17. Yes, that tree fern is quite stupendous. 'Twould be a shame to lose it in a freeze. We have another couple of bottles of Prosecco, a couple of mini-lobster tails and I think I'm going to make asparagus risotto to complete our meal. We'll probably watch another episode or two of Downton Abbey. I think we're up to the final episode in Season 3 so that will mean we're half done with it. Still enjoying it. Hoping for a happier new year. And speaking of the door hitting 2020 in the (---), the New York Post has a good cover today. Happy New Year to you and Dave and Olga.

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    1. We really enjoyed "Downton Abbey" and we still revisit it now and then. Hope your New Year's Even went well! The food sounds great!

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  18. That's a beautiful fern; it would be a shame to lose it. I've realized lately that my cyclamen did OK last winter when I had them on my porch but aren't thriving in the flower box I have them in now. We've had a few nights in the 20s and some in the 30s. No real plans for NYE--some House Party games with my distant family.

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    1. Cyclamens are very durable. Ours are still sitting out on the front porch, even during this cold spell. I might put them under cover if it snows.

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  19. I love the look on Olga's face. I don't think that girl is moving from her pink cocoon any time soon so please don't make her get up.

    My New Year celebration started at 7:30 AM. It was 9:30PM in Korea so...I saw the New Year arrive in Seoul at 10AM my time so I do't feel obligated to stay up until isight here on the n forth shore of Log Island. We're having crab cakes and champagne for dinner. We make crab cakes once a year and NYE it the tradition since we got married in 2004.

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    1. Don't worry -- Olga didn't have to move! She was there for the duration! (Well, except when she burrowed under all the blankets and got down by our feet, which she does every night.) I really hope you are able to travel to Korea sometime soon. It is clearly your spiritual home!

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  20. What a world! Pardons are given out willy-nilly to actual crooks by our exiting Prez but that poor woman is stuck in Iran for no reason and England is not helping?! Crazy days! Here's hoping she will be released soon.
    Wishing you a happy, healthy New Year!

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    1. It's an appalling situation, especially for a Western government that insists (against all increasing evidence) that it is still a global power.

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  21. Olga look so happy wrapped in her pink blanket. Our fur babies are blessed to have the care we give them. I stopped by to wish you and Dave a happy New Year. I know we are going to be okay but I doesn't think the Prez (bullshit) is planning to leave the White house. A few minutes ago I just saw one of their GOP members talking about helping Trump protest the electoral votes. Steve I have never seen this happen before. The American people have spoken and I can't read off into this story. It's sad. I am wishing you, Olga and Dave a very happy New Year. Maybe after the new year arrive this idiot will have a change of heart and move on. I guess he is going to be sleeping with Joe and Jill in the White House.(laughing)

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    1. Happy New Year, Angelicastar! We are still in a surreal period, but as soon as Trump gets out of that White House the world will seem more balanced. Hold on for just a few more weeks!

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  22. hoppin' John and Skippin' Jenny, it's just beans and rice and a bit o' the hog. Tradition seems beanie, we have lentils and ham sometimes for a guarantee of a prosperous new year. Seems to work though 2020 has been the exception. Olga has such a good pink blanket life and now with the company of a fern tree, she should have her own blog!

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    1. I had never heard of Skippin' Jenny until I read that Wikipedia article about Hoppin' John! Somehow Jenny wasn't part of my southern upbringing. This IS Olga's blog! LOL

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  23. “ . I shall lay 2020 to rest, quietly, and not put too much onus on 2021 to make up for lost time and others' shortcomings.“
    The writing is on the wall dear Steven
    Be happy
    Happy New Year

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    1. Happy New Year, and yes, we can't expect too much from a simple turn of the calendar, can we? Reality is still reality! Still, let's do all we can to turn the page.

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  24. I get what soupspoon is referring to

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