Fleur-de-Words

My favorite morning greeting comes when I walk through the sheet metal shop on my way to the lunchroom refrigerator where I store my 1 p.m. meal.
Kutzown Ken greets me in Pennsylvania twang: “Morning Laurie” but what my garden-starved ears hear is “Mornin’ Glory”. And don’t we all wish our mornings were filled with morning glories—Grandpa Ott’s on the kitchen garden arbor and Heavenly Blue on the chicken fence.
Mystery Plant
Running through my brain are Paul Simon’s words:  “All lies and jests, still a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest.” That sums up my workday.
Spring fever came early, and there are moments when I’m not sure I can make this adjustment to an office environment. Sure, it was ok in November, December, and January—but heavens, it’s spring! And I’m in a cave.
Sharon the receptionist not only faces the front glass door and a wall of windows, she has a skylight overhead. Not so in my portion of the building. When the sun breaks through the Central Pennsylvania clouds, the only way I know is when she sends me an email. Sharon also keeps watch on a computerized weather monitor and alerts the roofers to rainstorms or nasty winds heading toward their job sites. She’s a regular Mother Nature sitting up there with a big welcoming smile. Who? Me? Jealous?
My workplace buddy John, who has a windowless office near my windowless cave, teases me about my office light dimmer. There is a light switch near my computer that I flip on in the morning and off when I leave in the afternoon. But it took me several weeks to realize that there is also a little tab that can brighten or dim the light—well, actually, John told me about it when I was sitting in the semi-dark with the light switch on. So, when he found out about the sunshine emails from Sharon, he decided that was my cue to play Mother Nature. When Sharon emails a sun alert, I turn the dimmer switch up to full brightness; if I get notice that a thunderstorm is approaching, down goes the dimmer.
John is also my roofing terminology translator. It started when I heard him discussing crickets with one of the crews. 
“I know you’re not talking about Jiminy Cricket,” I said one morning, “but what’s a roof cricket? Certainly crickets can’t hop up on roofs.”
Close-Up
He patiently described a roof cricket (and there are actually “chimney crickets”—did Disney know that?), and how it is used to divert water. A few days later, the lesson was on “scuppers”. Scuppers are small openings in a roof railing that prevent water from pooling on the roof, channeling the rainwater through the railing and off the roof. Scupper. Don’t you just love the way the word tickles the roof of your mouth when you say it? I’d like to name a dog Scupper.
My farming ears really perked up one day when I heard the guys talking about a cow tongue drain. I had to see one of these. Well, a cow tongue drain outlet looks like a cow yawning after a big sip of water, big fleshy tongue hanging off its lower lip.
That’s not all. My Fleur-de-Lys French-ness got all excited when one of the estimators was writing a proposal for a “porte-cochere”—a carriage entrance leading through a building or wall to an inner courtyard.  Or, in this case, a drive-through entrance at a hotel.
But the perfect irony of workplace words hit me in a fit of scanning boredom.  In the quiet moments between my more arduous tasks of typing invoices or scribbling work orders for roof leaks, I scan the contents of the job folders for 2010 and 2011. If you’ve ever tried to slide staple-pried and dog-eared papers into a scanner that feeds the text, photos, and drawings magically into the computer, you know these are temperamental creatures. I sit there, sometimes hours on end, shoving documents into the feeder tray, anticipating the inevitable “Paper Jam” alert. Irritating at best…until I realized I used to spend my afternoons making strawberry preserves or elderblossom cordial. Now, I’ve graduated to paper jam. Yummy! Words do put a smile on my face. Laurie Lynch
A Little Help, Please: As I work in my Dad’s old gardens, I’m discovering brickwork I forgot about and an occasional plant I am not familiar with. Such is the case with the bold beauty pictured above. Can anyone help me out with an identification? It’s a daisy-like flower, blooming as I type, and 2.5- to 3-feet tall. Leaves are soft and fuzzy, and kind of arrow shaped.
Written on Slate: The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and lightning bug.”  –Mark Twain

4 thoughts on “Fleur-de-Words

  1. No, not a Euryops daisy, but thank you, Terry, for sending me an email. Ask and you shall receive…and Terry led me to the ID of my dad’s yellow flowers: Doronicum orientale, aka Leopard’s bane.

    Let me tell you, there’s a pattern here. Last week I wrote about Crown Imperial being impervious to moles, mice, squirrels and deer, and growing in my dad’s garden. Now we’ve discovered he planted Leopard’s bane. It must have been to keep the leopards from prowling, and maybe Nittany Lions too. It seems dear old dad was hell bent in keeping the wild things out of the garden.

    (As an aside, the bench railing on our deck is marred by a shotgun hole that splintered a post. The family legend goes that my dad was shooting at a groundhog and the bench jumped up and caught the blast…)

    While the common name helped me ID the plant, it also points out the problem with common names. Leopard’s bane could be Senecio, Arnica or Doronicum. But Doronicum it is, the first daisy of spring hailing from the mountainous regions of Asia and Europe. It’s a member of the sunflower family Asteraceae but it likes part-shade and is a long-lived cut flower. I might have thrown some of you off the trail by describing the leaves as arrow shaped. Everything I’ve read describes them as heart-shaped—I guess in my present state I’m more of a warrior than a romantic.

    This morning I cut a bunch for a bouquet, and actually counted the rays on one of the flowers—52—more like a lion’s mane than a leopard’s bane. Laurie

  2. My (12 ft tall in Arkansas) elderberries are blooming. I do not want the berries, and if I use the flowers, that would solve the problem, no? Do you have a recipe to share??

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