An unapologetic plant geek shares advice and opinions on gardening, the contrived and the natural landscape, as well as occasional topics from the other side of the gate.

February 20, 2017

Winter Walk-Off 2017

     Test 1-2-3, Test 1-2-3. Good, I am glad to see this thing's still working. It's been a while since I used it, but I couldn't let this time of year go by without celebrating my Winter Walk-Off meme. Truth be told, we haven't had much of a winter to walk off. Though I am no fan of the cold, I do wish we were having more normal weather. The plants are about 3 weeks ahead of schedule, and technically, winter is not over yet and could come back to bite us. Yesterday, I made my walk-off with temperatures pushing 70 under clear blue skies, and the extended forecast looks decidedly more like early spring than late winter. The weather is what the weather is, and no amount of complaining or rejoicing has ever swayed it one bit. Now on with the walk-off.

As always, the rules are simple, the rules are flexible:

  • On your own two feet, leave the house, and share what can be seen within walking (or biking) distance of your home (if you want to drive to your walk destination that's OK too). Your post does not have to be about gardening or a travelogue (though I do like both), unless you want it to be. Maybe instead you will find some unusual patterns, interesting shadows, signs of spring, a favorite restaurant or shop, questionable landscaping, or local eyesores. Whatever, just keep your eyes and mind open, be creative, and have fun, but don't show anything from your own garden.
  • Post your own Winter Walk-Off on your blog, and link it back to this post. Also, please leave me a link and comment here when your post is up. If you have recently written something similar, you are welcome to recycle.
  • I will keep the challenge open until midnight on March 19th, the last day of winter (or summer for those of you below the equator, who are welcome to join in).
  • Everyone who participates will have a chance to win one of two prizes, and this year a totally disinterested teenager will not be randomly drawing the winning names, as the totally disinterested teenager is away at school, and will only be considered a teenager for another half year or so, though I don't know when, if ever, he will become undisinterested. One participant will win a $25 gift certificate from Brent and Becky's Bulbs. The other winner will receive an assortment of botanically themed cards, handmade by my better half. I'll probably use a random number generator. I will contact each winner, and mail the prizes once the Walk-Off is over. 

  • I hope these guidelines are simple enough to sway you to join in, because the more, the merrier.


         I started this year's walk-off where I left off last year, biking through a couple of the areas between Ghent and downtown. I started my ride in Chelsea, which like much of Norfolk, is becoming less gritty than it once was, though some of that grit might have just relocated to hipster beards. Chelsea was once an industrial area offering support services to the local docks and shipyards. Some of that still goes on, but now there is also a brewery, restaurants, tattoo parlors, and pop ups. While I welcome the change, I also worry that there may be fewer electricians, longshoremen, pipe fitters, and welders, but more baristas and waiters. The difference in pay grades is probably not good for the city.
    Chelsea (1)

    Chelsea (2)

    Chelsea (10)

    Chelsea (9)

    Chelsea (8)

         Until this fall, the bike trail I take downtown had been closed for several years due to the construction a second Midtown Tunnel. This region has nearly as many tunnels going under various waterways as it has bridges going over, and often you get bridges and tunnels in combination. If you are ever to visit, please know it is strongly encouraged to maintain, or even slightly exceed, the posted speed limit through the tunnel; you will indeed make it to the other side, and will live another day - trust us, we do it all the time.
    Midtown Tunnel (1)

         After leaving Chelsea, and crossing over the tunnel entrance, I headed to Plum Point Park, which offers nice views of the harbor, and where a beautiful collection of what some call weeds were blooming.
    Plum Point (1)

    Plum Point (3)

         Getting closer to downtown, I crossed over Smith Creek. Facing each other across the creek in between are PETA and NOAA. Other than acronyms, they don't have much in common, yet seem to be good neighbors.

         This building is now home to very expensive and tasteful condos. In the early 80's it was a different place. I went to a party there in an apartment where every vertical surface, and a few of the horizontals, had been used as a canvas; the Talking Heads were playing on the stereo. The party eventually migrated to the rooftop - good times.
    West York

         Speaking of good times, the lower building below is now an architectural firm, but was once home to a popular watering hole called the Operating Room. Directly across the street was another called the Recovery Room.

         The remainder of my ride took place in the Freemason neighborhood of Norfolk, which is one of the city's oldest and best preserved. In it you can find commercial and residential architecture representing three centuries. It's southern edge was once home to harborside warehouses, a few of which have been converted into condos, while the rest were razed to make way for new townhouses.

    West Freemason (4)

    West Freemason (2)

    Norfolk Boat Club

    West Freemason

    West Bute (2)

    West Bute

    College Place (1)

    Freemason Harbor

         Just on the other side of the Pagoda, downtown proper starts, and my Winter Walk-Off ends. I would have shown you more of the Pagoda, but this blog has been there several times, besides it is one of the last places still lousy with people playing Pokemon Go, like zombies they are.

         I do hope you will play along with me this year; I look forward to seeing your posts. 

    January 21, 2017

    Women's March on Norfolk

         I spent most of yesterday on the couch, my eyes glazed over from the inauguration spectacle. It left me with a feeling of despair for this country and its future, especially after hearing that carnage of an address. Today I feel better. I rode my bike downtown to take part in a Sister March of the Women's March on Washington. The turnout was like no other I have ever seen in Norfolk, and the best part about it was the absolute diversity that made up the crowd. I left with a renewed pride in my country, and with a sliver of hope for it's future.
    Women March, Norfolk 2017  (1)

    Women March, Norfolk 2017  (2)

    Women March, Norfolk 2017  (16)

    Women March, Norfolk 2017  (6)

    Women March, Norfolk 2017  (5)

    Women March, Norfolk 2017  (4)

    Women March, Norfolk 2017  (21)

    Women March, Norfolk 2017  (19)

    Women March, Norfolk 2017  (14)

    Women March, Norfolk 2017  (8)

         I ran into many people I know, including Jessica and her sons.
    Women March, Norfolk 2017  (7)

         This dad brought his small son and daughter to the March. I got the impression that the mother in the family was not there; perhaps she had to work.
    Women March, Norfolk 2017  (10)

    Women March, Norfolk 2017  (17)

    Women March, Norfolk 2017  (25)

         I love that this woman wore our normally staid state flag around her shoulders. The flag includes our state motto, Sic Semper Tyrannis, on it, and her sign translated it for the non-Latin speakers in the crowd.
    Women March, Norfolk 2017  (3)

    Women March, Norfolk 2017  (22)

    Women March, Norfolk 2017  (26)

         You can see my complete photo set on Flickr.

    Addendum 1/22/2017 - Before I published this post, I knew that it would likely offend some of the people who regularly read my blog. In fact, one of you took the time to tell me so, and have since unsubscribed. I will not apologize. However, I will let you know my intent is never to offend. Hopefully, if what you see does bother you, then you will move past it, only to return another time; most of what you will find is not overtly political. I blog for many reasons, but primarily it is an extension of my voice, and a personal undertaking. In this current age of divisiveness, we need to remember that everyone is entitled to their political opinions if given respectfully, and these opinions are only part of what makes a person. In the past year I have I needed to remind myself of this in the face of family and friends who disagree with me politically. Doing so makes it easier to continue with love and respect. Peace!