Friday, March 17, 2006

The "Hermes"

Thirty-six years ago, I went to Europe for the first time. It was one of those student tours that took you to Europe for six weeks on the cheap.

The first two weeks of the trip were spent on a piece of crap ship called the Hermes that meandered between Venice and Haifa and then back to Venice.

The ship was an antique. She must have been rather nice, in her day. Someone told me that she was built in the early thirties, as I recall, but I have no idea of her real age. By the time I sailed on her, however, the Hermes was rusty, leaky and squalid and her staterooms were cramped and dark. She was in an appalling state and looked for all the world as if the Epirotiki Line had picked her up at a marine salvage sale.

I spent the first week in one of those cramped rooms with two other girls. I slept on the luggage rack. (I don't remember where we actually kept our luggage.) The second week, I shared a cabin up on deck with a chain-smoking Shirley Temple clone from California. The skylight had plastic taped over it and, whenever it rained, the water poured in. One night, there was a bad storm and we woke to find our cabin flooded with four inches of water.

So, anyway....Tonight I searched to see if Epirotiki were still around and I found their site.

And there, at the bottom of the page, is the Hermes.

(edited to add:
Still, I can't tell if that picture is of the vessel I sailed on or her successor. I understand that there have been at least three Hermes. The most recent came into service shortly after my adventure, so it is likely that the Hermes of my acquaintance ended up being recycled yet again. )

Monday, March 13, 2006

From The Back Garden...

I had hoped to take advantage of our unseasonably warm weather to do some work in the yard and maybe get in a little gardening. Alas, it is too hot and windy to get anything done today. But I did do a quick tour of the garden to assess the state-of-things.

It's too late to do anything about the crepe myrtles - they already have leaf buds! It isn't even Spring yet!

The deer have already been at the azaleas and started in on my daylilies. I suppose that the drought has driven them into the neighborhood again. I wish that they'd trim back the hollies, instead! The hollies could do with a trim but the azaleas will end up as just bare sticks after just a few nights of grazing.

Oddly enough, the daylilies seem to thrive on this ill-treatment.

As long as the deer munch the leaves back early enough (and they don't get at the flower spikes!), the plants seem to come back quite well. I've even noticed that the lilies will produce more flowers.

The pink viburnam didn't flower much this year but the leaves have begun to appear on all of the shrubs. I've even noticed some new growth! They took quite a beating last Summer, so I am thrilled to see that they haven't succumbed to the drought.

The Carolina jasmine is still in bloom. It's also on the move! I tried to move the lawn sprinkler and found that several tendrils had grown through it and then taken root in an adjacent flower bed. The jasmine is now headed up the meter box !

The wild violets are also in bloom this week. They don't bloom prolifically but they are hardy and they are one of those odd bits of serendipitous gardening - along with the wild roses, a single fern and this forsythia that turned up a year ago.

Now...if the garden gnomes would just arrange for a load of mulch.....