Tuesday, March 31, 2015

L Heart T--A Wedding Story.

Another Rinek Family wedding!  Most of the family--aunts, uncles and cousins--gather in the hotel lobby before the event. Unfortunately, lots of cousins could make it to the wedding.  Sometimes life just gets in the way.
The bride and her father walk down the sun-drenched aisle. 
The newlyweds, Lisa and Topher Rinek.
The cowboy crooner softly sang the Wedding Song, "For wherever two or more of you are gathered in His Name, there is love..." as the beautiful bride, dressed in white lace, walked down the grassy aisle on the arm of her father.  Then, she took the hands of her handsome groom and together they pledged their lives to each other in the early evening of a late March day.                                                                                                                

"L heart T" (Lisa loves Topher and Topher loves Lisa) was the theme of another Rinek wedding gathering, this time in the Texas Hill Country town of Dripping Springs where Lisa's and Topher's family and friends came to together in celebration of these two becoming husband and wife.

This vintage vignette at the reception is a dreamy idea for a sweet honeymoon.
Blooming Texas Bluebells.
The Rinek siblings; Bob, Peter, Amy, Mitch and Tom. May the sun always shine down on you.
F.O.G. Mitch, Lisa, Topher and M.O.G. Nancy

The sun's rays stretched through the vast blue sky, shining down on the beautiful couple standing under a gazebo surrounded by blooming Texas bluebells. The gazebo, adorned with grape vine and a bouquet of white flowers from roses to baby's breath, served as the alter.                                                                                                                        

Great-tailed grackles whistle and chirp throughout Austin and Hill Country.
A nearby trickling brook kept time to the background music and the
cadence of the bible readings and blessings.   The Wedding Song filled the guests' hearts-- "Woman draws her life from man and gives it back again.  There is love...." A beautiful song for a tranquil evening wedding where even the great-tailed grackles chimed in with their own love calls and chants.

Members of the wedding party happily waiting their turn for pictures with the newlyweds.

'Tis a gift to be simple.
Cousins Kevin, Cristy and Kelly posing by the babbling brook.
Blending in with the Texas Hill Countryside, members of the bridal party wore spring colors of fresh celadon and cool grey while burlap and lace, gathered and tucked among the tables and chairs, highlighted the flowers in pretty pink, soft yellow, pale green and creamy white.  Tiny roses spilled out of tabletop lanterns, taking the place of candles.  Fragrant stock and Queen Anne's Lace draped over centerpiece vases while crystal clear ball jars filled with baby's breath hung sweetly along the wedding path.

A grand barn for a wedding reception, Texas style--indeed!
One of the cozy cottages for calming pre-ceremony jitters and final wedding details.
Cascading fairie roses.
Topher with his older brother and Best Man, Andy.  Beards seem to run in the Rinek family.
Prairie-style cottages stood tall, proud of their Hill Country heritage. In proper wedding fashion, there was a cottage called 'Dove' devoted to the bride and her ladies-in-waiting as well as one for the groom and the men who stood with him, aptly called 'Moss'.  Never to be forgotten and always supportive, a third cottage, 'Ivy' stood ready for the parents, in anticipation of the wedding nuptials. Then, there was the event barn itself, large and regal, that held the candlelit reception dressed with twinkling lights, nostalgic toasts filled with love and tenderness for Lisa and Topher and their future together, a delicious Texas style wedding feast, more guitar music and lots and lots of dancing.

The cake and the bouquet.
Thr cowboy sings a love song.
A tabletop bouquet.
Beautiful boutineer. 
Outside, in the cool country air as darkness settled in, lights twinkled in the trees and the stars were bright in the Texas nighttime sky, granting the best of wishes and hearty congratulations to Lisa and Topher.  Thank you to Lisa's parents, the McCreery's as they were the perfect parents of the bride 'hosts', making sure all of the details were in place and no stone was left unturned for a perfect beginning for these "two to travel on as one.  Oh, there is love..."

Writer's Note:  The Wedding Song was written in 1969 by Noel Paul Stookey, of the Folk Singing Trio 'Peter, Paul and Mary'.  He wrote it for co-member Peter's wedding, where Paul was the Best Man.
Happy bride-check.  Happy groom-check.  Happy aunt of the groom raising a toast with a lavender-blueberry lemonade, laced with a touch of voka--check, check and check!
Cocktails served before the wedding--lemonade slushies!  My favorite, of course, was the lavender blueberry-lemonade.

Monday, March 23, 2015

The Rock Wall--Okay--Small Wall

Last fall, in the middle of the Loudoun County Fall Farm Tour, one of our customers dropped off a pile of unused flat rocks he had left over from a project he finished on his own property.  Although we were most appreciative of his generosity, we hardly had time to look at the pile of rocks, unloaded next to the recently completed labyrinth and close the front entrance of our property, much less put the rocks to any sort of use.

Separating the low hill from the flat ground.
However, we did have a plan for them, thinking they would make a good beginning at finishing off the low but steep slope as a border wall on one side of the labyrinth.  It wasn't a very large pile of rocks and they certainly would not build a wall high enough to cover the slope, but it would be a good start.

I tried, in vain, to at least neaten the pile up but that didn't work either.  It was time to build the wall--okay--ledge.
So, the pile of rocks sat there, patiently waiting and not exactly as a crowning touch to this sacred little circular path, but as an eye sore especially to me, every time I drove in and out of the driveway, past the labyrinth.  Then, fall faded into a memory, winter came and went, suddenly springtime arrived, and--what do you know???  The pile of rocks had not gone anywhere. It was still sitting there, patiently waiting for something to happen.

Well, maybe it isn't very high, but the pile of rocks has been completely  transformed into something at least neat and tidy and visitors using the labyrinth won't be distracted by them.

Last Monday, I found myself  trying very hard not to look at it as I carefully spread grass seed along the circular winding path in much need of spring-green sprouts. But, I could not look away.  I swear those rocks were looking at me--in fact, they were staring me down! I decided I would lay down just one row of the bloody things and that would use most of the rocks.

Then, perhaps, I wouldn't notice that darn pile so much.  Of course, it really didn't bring the pile down very much at all. So, it was clear that it was up to me to make that pile go away and finally allow those rocks to fulfill their purpose and be a part of the Blooming Hill Labyrinth Experience, and not be just a pile of rocks.

Of course, there always has to be a quality control expert (his words, not mine).  He didn't think I saw him--but I did.

The project manager was totally bored with the whole thing...Sighhhh...
It took a couple of hours each day, for four days to construct something, probably not comparable to the Great Wall of China or even something akin to the Berlin Wall, but I eradicated that pile and made something good--with rocks, no less.  So, Mr. Gorbechev, I will not need you to, in the words of President Ronald Reagan, "tear that wall down!" Nor am I worried that Attila the Hun will be showing anytime soon.  However, the rock wall--okay--small wall built by me, looks pretty darn good for a first time effort.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

United States Botanic Garden Greenhouses

One of the really cool things about living close to our nation's capital is that we have easy access to the museums of the Smithsonian.  Anything from fossilized bones of prehistoric dinosaurs WWII airplanes, are only a car ride or metro stop away and they are free for everyone to see, just about every day of the year.

One of my favorites, down on the Smithsonian Mall, is the United States Botanic Garden.  This is America's garden spot filled with a collection of 65,000 green and growing things that include succulents, herbs, tropicals, heritage plants and one of the most extensive collections of orchids you'll ever see, accompanied by lots and lots of butterflies flitting about the place.

Established in 1820, the Garden is one of the oldest botanic gardens in America and its inception can be attributed to our first President, George Washington.  The USBG still operates under the jurisdiction of our U.S. Congress.  

Some of us "Night Bloomers--(L-R) Me, Kassie, Mary A., Kim and Mary S.
The greenhouse is staffed by real people 24/7 as it is necessary to continually monitor the climate conditions of each greenhouse.
Behind the scenes of this vast and beautiful collection of noteworthy and historic plants are thirty-two greenhouses, tucked away in the southeast side of the city.  This is where the magic happens and, unlike the U.S. Botanic Garden on the Mall, the USBG greenhouses are open to the public only one day of the year.

That one day of the year occurred his past Saturday, I had the opportunity to visit and tour all of those greenhouses with a few members of my garden club, "The Night Bloomers."

Rows and Rows of green and growing things.
The plants plants that are stocked here for the USBG also inhabit the offices of the US Senate Building.  Someone (and that someone was not named) in the US House of Representatives decided that supplying plants from the these greenhouses to the House of Representatives' offices could be cut from the budget. Politics aside, we enjoyed having free reign to peruse the greenhouses and ask questions of the dedicated and helpful staff of botanists  and horticulturists and pot up our own orchid plant to take home as a memorable reprieve from this year's long winter.

The light-filled hallway with greenhouses on each side.
A lady standing next to me was positively shaking with excitement as we made our selection from the trays of orchid plugs.  Her comment-- "This is the best garden tour ever!"  And she was pretty close to being right!

 Everyone who visited could take home an orchid plug with some of the staff on hand to show us all how to properly pack them into their pots with moss.  They also supplied instructions on how to care for our Oncidium "Twinkle Pink"  orchids once we got home.
For more information on how to tour the USBG Greenhouses next year, go to www.usbg.gov and see when next year's day of scheduled tours, open to the public, will be. It is certainly worth spending an enjoyable, informative and interesting afternoon in our nation's greenhouses.

Writer's Note:  The pictures you see here were taken by me at the USBG Greenhouses. I only wish I was a good enough photographer to really show you the scope of the place, but you have to go and see that for yourself!

Monday, March 2, 2015

Robin Redbreast

You've seen him, haven't you?  Or, at least you've heard him, by this time of the year.  First, he calls out to you with his chirpy warble and then he makes his presence known to you; maybe perched in a tree or flitting across the pavement.  I saw my first robin of this coming spring season, last week.  I first saw him singing an old maple tree, then, he landed close to me on the driveway, while I was shoveling the latest installment of snowfall.  He was heralding the arrival of March,  the month of wild temperature swings, emerging daffodils and daylight savings all pointing to the gift of spring.  "When the red, red robin comes bob, bob, bobbin'  along, sweet song!  There will be no more sobbin' when he starts throbbin' that old sweet song."
Image result for images of robins eggs
I find the arrival of the robin to be much more reliable in predicting spring than that precocious ground hog whose only mission is to tease us mercilessly for the few minutes he pokes his head out of his hole.  The robin's song is emphatic.  "Wake up, wake up you sleepy head.  Cheer up, cheer up you sleepy head.  Get up, get up, get out of bed!"  Don't miss this!  The cherry blossoms will be bursting soon, along with the gentler breezes blowing in so, wake up and enjoy the new life all around as the robin ensures he is back for the long haul and to set up housekeeping, for at least the next 6 months or so.

The robin is an old soul on this earth.  In legend, he earned his red breast as he was present at the crucifixion of Christ and bravely tried to remove the thorny crown from Jesus' head.  For this, he heroically earned his badge of honor and the robin wears it well.  He is an escort of new beginnings, like spring itself, and a steadfast companion in the garden of life bearing the gift of the promise of spring. "Cheer up, cheer up the sun is red.  Live, love and be happy!" 

Writer's Note:
***(Italics = the words in the first stanza of  the song,"The Red Red Robin" by Al Jolson) 
***Images of Robins and Robin's eggs from Ask.com