December OOTS*-Looking For Merry


The sun is shining, the sky showing a clear blue, it is time. Time to grab the cameras, hop into the gas guzzler and buzz around our very small town in search of festive, or pretty or gardeney, or something to show off on *VP’S Out On The Streets series, December version. Would you like to go along? Buckle your seat belt, or the car keys will not even be turned. We are quite strict about that. The intent is to find the village, while that sounds so quaint, we are actually classified as a city, Christmas tree. It was found, but sadly the high winds had blown it down. But the county courthouse that had been refurbished last year with fresh paint and the gold trim repaired in the downtown square looks quite spiffy now.


Wreaths have been hung on the windows and doors. Some, if not all of the greenery contains white lights. The building is nice, but the sky is of a hue that has not been seen for many days, if not weeks. It steals the show, wouldn’t you agree?


Across the street from the courthouse, the brick paved sidewalk and elegant frontage of law offices is somberly festive. Solicitors line the courthouse square, this is a busy place, these halls of justice. Let us move on to other public places around town.


At the public library, there are few parking spots available and cars continue to pull into the entrance. There must be a meeting of some sort being held today. But across from the carpark a newly planted walkway is noticed. I don’t remember this being here before, but let’s explore. The benches look nice and there are trees staked on bermed and mulched planting beds. The remains of wildflowers are noticed next to the pavement, this appears to be well done and well thought out. What a nice pond too. Wait a minute.


This is no pond, this is a flood! Now it is understood why the schools were closed today. There have been heavy rains along with the high winds that blew down the communal Christmas tree. I hope these plantings will survive being immersed. The boulders will and it is hoped the benches are of a water resistant wood. Time to move on, someone is waiting for a parking spot and we are finished here. Pointing to my car, I let the driver know I am leaving so he can pull in.


Heading back to our neighborhood, the downtown area is very close to the Fairegarden, we traverse my most favorite street. This very narrow byway zigs and zags around mature oak trees with large older homes on huge lots with fine trees. Many of them like our dear departed red maple, Ferngully, sniff, RIP. The fact that the street goes out of its way to meander around the trees is what we think of as city planning with a nod to the environment. Whatever were the circumstances that allowed this, it is pondered. Did a tree lover hold ground with arms across the trunk while the paving machine belched black smoke in a dramatic standoff?


Closer to home now, we go up and down the dead end streets off the main residential thoroughfare. This is a fancy older neighborhood, old money. One of the reasons that we purchased our tiny modest dwelling was the proximity to these large estate type properties only a block or so away. There is no getting out of the car now, we are driving ever so slowly and drawing attention to ourselves. A car passes and gives us the narrowed eyebrow look. What is she doing taking photos of these houses? Casing the joint for a future robbery? I had better put the camera away and head home. There is a turnaround at the end of this street so we will avoid going into a driveway and setting off alarms as intruders. Don’t worry, it will be okay, and thanks for pulling back out of the way of the shot.


But wait! Where’s the camera? Look at that magnificent southern Magnolia! It is gigantic and perfectly shaped, allowed to spread to its intended stature and girth with no interference by lesser trees or structures to hamper the growth. An outbuilding is visible in the image to the right to provide some scale.


Beside the magnolia is a nicely landscaped driveway. I am not in the least bit envious of these large houses and even the acreage, but oh baby baby, look at those truckloads of leaf mulch. Neat as a pin, not scattered a bit, ready to be spread on the landscaping, professionally maintained, no doubt. Hands are itchy, breathing is quick, eyes dialated, but no, drive on. There is probably a security camera recording our license plate number right now. Za-zoom, pedal lightly depressed if not to the metal. Not to worry. You will be let off after a frisking, only an accessory to the crime. Did you get the name on that law office we snapped at the courthouse square?


Home sweet home. Where the camera can point and shoot freely, with no fear of arrest or wary looks. The large plastic ornaments were hung at the same height on the little dogwood because that is the highest we could reach without getting on the ladder. May they withstand the high winds with nary a crack or break. It seems to be clouding up again. Let’s go inside and chat, maybe do a little blogging. The wireless seems to be working now after The Financier spent a whole day fiddling with the new router. Would you like a warm beverage? Perhaps some tea and a biscuit?

Thanks for joining us in the traipsing about town. Do check out the badge on the sidebar of Veg Plotting for more Out On The Streets from around the world.

Frances

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35 Responses to December OOTS*-Looking For Merry

  1. What a lovely outing. I certainly had a lovely time. It was lovely to see such a blue sky, I have been leaving for work while it is dark, and coming home after dark as well.
    Your ornaments on the dogwood look wonderful, I am sure you will get lots of compliments on it.

    Thanks Deborah, the blue sky was very welcome here, it had been hiding behind clouds for many days and was sorely missed. The large ornaments were to be mixed with large lighted balls, but they were too heavy for the small branches. We don’t want to damage the tree. I loved your shop post and am really really interested in those framed moss pictures hanging behind the desk. Do tell more about them, please. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  2. Teresa O says:

    Thank for you for the ride about town and the guided tour. Last summer I walked around my hometown taking photographs of people’s yards, gardens, and entryways, all from the sidewalk. Only one person came out to ask what I was doing. When I explained, she smiled and asked for my blog information.

    I love the sidewalk meandering through and around the big trees…that’s just the way it should be.

    Now that I’ve visited your town, had a cup of tea and a cookie, I must gather my wits and head for the stores…tis the season.

    Thanks Teresa. I was ready with the blog explanation and my card that has the info on it, if stopped. This tale might contain what could be called dramatic license, but the car did slow down and give me a piecing look. At that point I decided to go home where the picture taking is without scrutiny. That is no sidewalk around the trees, that is the street that cars drive on!!! Amazing isn’t it? πŸ™‚
    Frances

  3. VP says:

    Frances, you’ve done me proud, thank you πŸ™‚

    I love your Courthouse wreaths and the ornaments on your dogwood. I do something similar on a small apple tree, so I must remember to show that off.

    That new planting looks like it’ll be worth a revisit next year.

    Luckily I was drinking coffee and eating cookies when your post went up. You’ll be able to join with me tomorrow, as the cookie recipe is going up on the biscuit blog. They’re yummy!

    I’m sure we’ll be in touch later, but this seems the perfect post to wish you and yours the merriest of Christmases πŸ˜€

    Oh thank you VP, glad you approve. We didn’t find much so had to tweak the narrative to spice it up a bit. The library planting area looked very good, what was above water that is. There were still a few larkspur in bloom and the remains of cosmos still green if wilted by recent hard frosts. There are a couple of plantings like that in public places. Fodder for future OOTS posts! Hooray for homemade cookies, VP. This is the perfect time of year for them. We must leave some for santa you know. A jolly Christmas to you and yours as well. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  4. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    What a fun trip around town and your neighborhood. That magnolia is magnificent. I have never seen such a tree. All I have seen were either in a garden where it is pruned to stay in its space or in a forest where it can’t spread due to other forest dwellers. Your ornaments look pretty and cheerful sparkling in the morning light.

    Thanks Lisa. You so rarely see the magnolias planted with enough room to spread, as they get huge. This was a very large property, on a street where each house had at least an acre. This is the sort of place with security however, I was honestly a little scared but was ready with the blogging alibi. The ornaments are still hanging on the orchid hooks despite very high winds here. It was clocked at over 100 MPH not far from here.
    Frances

  5. LOL – you start off innocently enough just taking photos and end up considering theft. I think that other driver was right about you.
    The courthouse is gem. It kind of reminds me of the one in “Back to the Future.” You live in such a neat place that they put the road around the trees. I’m not surprised the library was packed – no school, and in this economy, more people are using the library than ever. I hope they planted that flooded area as a rain garden.

    I know, MMD, rotten to the core! Our courthouse does look like something out of a movie. I have seen that lot in California at Universal Studios where that movie and others were made. Lots of similarities and fun to see that they are just empty facades too. That library needs a larger parking lot, and has one, but it was under water!!! Surely the plantings took the occasional flooding into account, there is a creek that often floods just a few yards away. Maybe why there is nothing built on that nice piece of land, it is a flood zone.
    Frances

  6. Gail says:

    Good morning, You do live in a charming community…Who’s on the planting (planning) commission! This is the second time your community has had recently planted wildflowers. It’s so neat that folks care about adding greenery to the spaces. The road built around the trees is the stuff we fight the planning commission to keep in my neck of the woods. Speaking of trees~That magnolia is a magnificent tree and a good example of the right planting spot for a tree that will get to be so huge! …and, We lost our community tree to those same winds…snapped it right in half. have a sweet weekend. gail

    Hi Gail, thanks. It has charming parts and not so charming parts, like all places I suppose. Whoever is deciding about these plantings is doing a good job. The grass parking lot had to be closed, again, to car traffic with the flooding rains. The grass is growing right back quickly though, the drainage thingey must be working well. I hope they don’t dig it up and pave it. So sorry about your tree at the Capitol, it was on our newscast. We will be home this weekend, maybe put the tree up. You too enjoy the weekend. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  7. Nice stroll through town Frances. The magnolia is very cool. Our little stream is the highest I have ever seen it. Between the snow and rain the ground is saturated and the little stream has stayed high long after the rains passed.

    Thanks Christopher. I can only imagine the conditions up there. Do stay safe, warm and dry as possible.
    Frances

  8. Teresa says:

    Thanks for the tour. You live in a very beautiful area. I want my sky to be that blue today. I don’t think that is happening. I love those felco pruners too. Thanks for the tips. I plan on keeping mine around for a long time. We are getting the smaller ones also, and I thought they had a small lefty. I will let you know if they do. Again thanks for the fun post and have a nice weekend.

    Thanks for joining me, Teresa. That blue sky was a one day deal, it seems. If you have a small lefty, let me know! Have a great weekend yourself. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  9. Rose says:

    Frances, this was a delightful drive around your town! I’m glad to see you leaving replies to your comments–it means you made it safely home without a stop for interrogation at the local police department:) I’ve gotten a lot of curious looks, too, while snapping photos for VP’s OOTS series. So far, I’ve always managed a quick getaway.
    I love the way the street winds around those huge old trees; kudos to the planners who realized they were more important than a straightaway.
    While we didn’t get the snow everyone else in the Midwest seems to have had, we did have the high winds. The two-story Christmas tree in Champaign was blown down, too, and damaged beyond repair. I do hope that doesn’t mean Christmas has been cancelled for this year:)

    Gosh, Rose, no snow for you? It seems so odd, after the maps on the news show so much of it everywhere up there. I know what you mean about funny looks while taking pictures, or are we just paranoid a little? Thanks for your concern, surely I could have talked my way out of an arrest, I do have the blogging cards in my purse. I need to carry home made cookies with me on these excusions, just in case though. So sorry about your tree, winds were clocked at over 100 mph in Gatlinburg.
    Frances

  10. Melody says:

    That Magnolia is beautiful! Great fun looking around town, thanks for taking me along! πŸ™‚

    Hi Melody, thanks for stopping by and joining in the gadabout town. Glad you had fun on the adventure! πŸ™‚
    Frances

  11. Carrie says:

    WOW, when I get round to doing my OOTS you will not be impressed with Carrickfergus I bet. Perserved today with your black background and got a great story out of it. Really though, vould you change?? I know there aren’t that many double vision sufferers out there but boy I need a light background to stand a chance! Off for a lie down, or maybe a Sloe Comfortable Screw ;)!!!! x

    Hi Carrie, so nice to see you here, welcome! I am sure your town is much nicer than mine, I have put quite a positive spin on it. I am indeed sorry that the black background bothers you, but honestly feel nothing else will show the photos as well. At least the font is larger. Maybe papers held over the sides would help? Watch out for the drink, you will really be lying down! HA πŸ™‚
    Frances

  12. Hi Frances,

    I just love your photos and your writing. It is always so entertaining. I do know what you mean about driving slowly through a neighborhood and taking photos. Someday, I am sure I will be stopped by a police officer asking me what on earth are you doing?

    Hi Noelle, thanks so much, that is very sweet of you. I rarely go out to take photos in neighborhoods, usually public places or my own garden gets snapped. I don’t blame the homeowners from being concerned, I would certainly question someone taking pictures of my house, although we do get plenty of people driving slowly in our neighborhood to see Mickey’s lovely gardens a few houses down. I had my alibi ready though. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  13. ourfriendben says:

    Oh, Frances, you’re making me so homesick! Our Colonial family home has the most gigantic, perfect magnolia, and an amazing boxwood walk (the boxwoods are all taller than I am) as well as assorted huge boxwoods round and about. Heavy sigh. Love your festooned dogwood as well. I keep looking for plastic balls that are big enough to show off in my clay pots in the shepherds’ crooks by the front door (ornamental ivies adorn them during the growing season), but so far, no luck. It’s about 7 degrees here, way too cold for a Christmas ramble, so I especially appreciate being invited to go along on yours!

    Hi OFB, sorry! Those large boxwoods are in some of those nicer properties here as well, gigantic specimens, all neatly clipped. I got those balls at Big Lots. After Christmas sale, where I also seem to have picked up quite a few lights, led and non-led. I always forget that those purchases have been made and am surprised when we get out the decorations the following year. Thanks for riding along. You could have made our case to the officer if we got pulled over. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  14. sequoiagardens says:

    A lovely post, Frances, with a wonderful sense of place; on the one hand American solidity and neatness (was it “Mr and Mrs Brown” the movie Paul Newman and his wife starred in when we were younger than we are now…?) and on the other hand the kind of paranoia we tend to mock in Americans – even though we have much that kind of attitude in the South African cities today…

    Hi Jack, thanks. The courthouse and homes shown are very traditional examples of our part of the US. As for the paranoia, as mentioned in another comment reply, I would be leery of someone taking photos of my house too. The news is way too full of robberies and break ins, even in our sleepy little town, unfortunately. As for neatness, well most of the yards are quite neat, trimmed shrubbery and mown lawns. My house is very very different, and messy in an environmentally friendly way. Luckily we live in a place without rules about such things, other than the rules of social acceptance, which I care little about. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  15. Beautiful OOTS, what glorious decorations and lovely new beds. Love the giant zig zag trees. I always get very nervous if trying to photograph on the sly, and thus avoid doing it since I’m likely to cause an accident! Your tsunami picture (previous post) is very impressive. πŸ™‚

    Hi Rebecca, thanks so much for stopping by. I had to park the car and get out to take the courthouse shots, way too many policemen around there to take any driving chances like that. I even felt odd taking the photos of the building, and did it rather quickly then left. Glad you liked the muhly tsunami, it was short lived but breathtaking while it lasted. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  16. I would gladly join you under those wondrous Oaks Frances and that Magnolia! Whoa! How gorgeous to be let free that way. Lovely and your narrative is a hoot. Thanks for the smiles on this blustery cold day! Carol

    Thanks Carol, I would love your company. You do have to be ready for an adventure however, but I believe you are up to the task. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  17. Glad you found Merry. Love the edging of the lawn next to the mulch pile; and of course, love you ornaments on the dogwood – the best. H.

    Thanks Helen. That was a very nice property, I was wondering which of the local nurseries takes care of it. That is how those businesses survive, mowing, pruning, mulching and planting pansies in the winter and annuals in the spring. This place was really nicely done with that rock pathway. Glad you liked the ornaments. Next year we will use a ladder, maybe. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  18. Balisha says:

    I so enjoyed my drive around town with you. Thanks for the wonderful…funny at times…day.
    Balisha

    Thanks for riding along, Balisha. Glad you enjoyed it, even the exciting parts. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  19. Darla says:

    Very nice tour…geez ya’ll had some water fall didn’t you? I have stopped traffic to snap a photo myself..wonder why ‘they’ just don’t get it? My husband and I hung gold and red ornaments in our crepe myrtle last night…

    Hi Darla, thanks. I didn’t realize how much rain we got since I took my rain gauge inside when the freezing weather started so it wouldn’t crack. I love you gold and red, we are way too sedate with the blue and silver. I need to add more colors for next year. Big Lots, I’ll see you after Christmas! HA
    Frances

  20. Anna says:

    I enjoyed the tour round your town Frances. The county court building is most impressive. You must have been delighted to see blue skies again. Thanks for the warm drink and biscuit – the perfect end to the tour πŸ™‚

    Thanks Anna, glad you liked it. It had been too long since we had seen the blue sky and sunshine. I was ready for a SAD light. I still might look into it, it has been so dreary here so far this month and last. Not our usual at all. I was hoping the biscuits would be a hit. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  21. Les says:

    Magnolias like that just beg to be played in and under.

    Happy Holidays!

    Thanks Les, right you are! There was a giant one near my house when growing up that we used to climb to the top, before my fear of heights kicked in I guess. The branches were so nicely placed and horizontal, like climbing a ladder. It was a favorite hiding spot. Ah, the memories. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  22. Catherine says:

    That was a very nice tour πŸ™‚ I love driving around and looking at peoples houses and yards. The courthouse is very nice, I like how they’ve got a wreath on every window. The sky is a beautiful blue!

    Thanks Catherine, for riding along. I like to see colonial style building with wreaths like that. Our first TN house was one and we always put a lighted wreath in every window each year. Sort of a pain with the extension cords, but so pretty. The sky was amazing that day. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  23. Gill says:

    its looks a heck of a lot warmer and greener on that tour than it is up here!!

    Gill in Canadan

    Hi Gill, thanks for visiting. It was fairly warm that day, but windy as all getout! Cold now, but it stays fairly green here in our area.
    Frances

  24. Kate says:

    What a fun tour of your happy town! [Loved the RT copy.] Do you live on a hill? Hope so! That pond becomes a river thing might be a bit worrisome and I don’t think we could bear seeing your gardens float away.

    Thanks, Kate. Glad you liked the real time narrative, that is always fun to write. We do in fact live on a hill, no danger of flooding for us, ever. We are at the peak of the area, with the library at the bottom with a healthy creek right there. Probably why there is no construction where the new park is located. Thanks for your concern. We never buy a house in a low area, one of the main criteria. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  25. Lola says:

    Hi Frances,
    Thanks for the ride around your neck of the woods. Some nice scenery there.
    Holy Cow, that was some rain you got. Sure hope things will be ok.
    I like your blue & silver.
    My little Purple Leaf Plum that I hung my glowing balls on blew down way back in the Spring. Oh well, I’ll have to hang them in the Persimmon tree.

    Thanks for going along, Lola. The flooding comes and goes as this is a high rainfall part of the country, when there is no drought that is. So sorry about your plum. These ornaments are very light, but the lighted balls are heavy and a bugger with the extension cords too. They are on a trellis, probably the best place for them. Placing lights on frozen limbs can be dangerous for the limbs break much more easily then. We try to avoid that. I am sure your persimmon looks fabulous. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  26. What a nice ride we’ve had out on your streets, Frances! I have yet to do one of these, but maybe this coming week I’ll try it out.
    That magnolia is truly magnificent. It must be beyond breathtaking when it’s in flower.

    Thanks for going along, Jodi. I would love to see your area decked out for the holidays. I must remember to drive by the magnolia again when it blooms. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  27. Kathleen says:

    Great idea for a post! There is always so much to see out and about. Your neighborhood and town look so pretty. I love the brick sidewalks. I remember “Sunday driving” with my grandparents ~ I don’t think anybody does that anymore??? Glad you are seeing skies that deep a blue ~ it’s been a while since that happened here too. Also, very forward thinking on someones part to pave around the trees. I am 100% on board with that kind of thinking!
    p.s. I’m glad to know someone else is lollygagging and not consumed by Christmas preparations! I hope it doesn’t come back to bite us (or at least me)…

    Thanks Kathleen. I need to take my camera with me more often, there is always a pretty scene noticed when we go out. The little square downtown is a gem. The council hired a consultant to help them improve it and have followed through with most of the recommendations. New old style street lights, removing unsightly modern facades to expose the originals, sprucing up the courthouse, and demolishing a lumber yard that was in a flood zone right at the edge. All of those things were controversial, but none more so than the lumberyard. It is now a grassy field with hopes of a permanent farmers market type set up there. We used to go driving around with the kids, a cheap form of entertainment, until gas prices skyrocketed. In the past, lollygagging was a good thing, less money spent and no one cared about anything else not getting done. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  28. Grace says:

    Hi FG, I think of all your photos, my favorite is the one closest to home. The view from your front door is fabulous. I love your attention to winter interest–the junipers flanking the path and other evergreens. I hope your new router is working well. My hubby, the techie, has finally after a year or so, got ours fuss-free. Knock on wood. Cheers.

    Hi Grace, thanks so much. The front does look colorful in the winter with the blue stars and winterberries. If doing it now, there would be some major changes, and that may yet happen someday, but for now it is okay. As for the wireless, it would only work for my computer, not others who might visit with hopes on getting online! Since the kids and grandkids even travel with laptops now, that had to be fixed, and is. But with these computers, as with life, it is always something! HA πŸ™‚
    Frances

  29. Kanak says:

    Thanks for the tour! You live in a beautiful area. I love the shot of the trees, the house in the background with the car in front. My favourite is the one of your garden. That has so much character and the plastic ornaments look exotic!
    And oh, thank you for the tea and the biscuits:-)

    Hi Kanak, thanks so much. The blue and silver ornament have a certain kitchyness that makes me smile. We need more colors! Glad you enjoyed the after tour treats. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  30. mothernaturesgarden says:

    I like the ornaments in the bare tree. I did it last year in my JM by the front door. Hopefully there will be a break in the weather for outdoor decor to resume. Thanks for the jaunt around town.

    Thanks Donna. We need a break in the weather, don’t we? Normally it is more up and down with the temps and precip, not all down! πŸ™‚
    Frances

  31. Sherry says:

    Thank you for the tour. Your “village” looks lovely. I also enjoyed your snowfall photographs.
    It is sunny this morning at my house and I hope to finish my decorating today.
    Only small patches of snow remain on the grass. The bitter cold has moved east and I think it will be warm enough to take a walk with my camera.
    Namaste,
    Sherry

    Thanks for coming along, Sherry. I hope you were able to have a sunny walk, finish your decorating and snap some images. Namaste to you as well. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  32. Town Mouse says:

    Happy holidays and thanks for the tour! When I saw a car dressed up as Rudolf today (antlers out of the windows and a red dot in front) I knew the season had arrived.

    HA Town Mouse, thanks for riding along, I saw one of the cars yesterday too! Very clever. We used to put artificial greenery on the front of the gas guzzler but have been too bah humbug in recent years to do it. Maybe this year….
    Frances

  33. ryan says:

    I really like that shot of the snow on the muhlenbergia. all the photos are of course great, but that one really gives a sense of the physicality.

    HA Ryan, you make me laugh. Thanks for visiting and it’s okay about all of what you have said.
    Frances

  34. ryan says:

    wait, did i just comment on the wrong post? a little confusing for dopes like me how the comment button is at the top of the post. wait, did i just complain about the design of your blog? geez, i should probably criticize the shirt your wearing today, and your shoes and why didn’t you get someone to sit in that bench in the middle of the flooded area, while i’m at it. it’s not a complaint really, just a comment that my own personal blog reading habit is to scroll through and hit the comment button at the end if i have anything i feel like saying about the particular post and blogs with the comment button on the top sometimes make me do silly things like comment on the wrong post. does that mean it’s not you it’s me? anyways, i’ve been enjoying the m. capillaris photos and especially liked the one with the wet snow.

    Maybe I can help you Ryan. On WordPress, if you visit through wordpress.com/, on my theme, the comment button is at the top, with the title of the post. If you click on the post title, it will take you to the permanent url for that particular post, with the comment box at the bottom, where you expect it. I can’t change that, but knowing might help you in the future. If you want to read more than the one post, click on fairegarden at the very top, above the header, but I only show two posts at a time anyway. Utterly confused now? Never criticize a woman’s shoes. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  35. Hi Frances, My OOTS is in process, too! I love seeing holiday decorations from around the world. You encountered some interesting roadblocks!

    Hi Monica, I look forward to your post, remember from times past how lovely Ann Arbor is. I like seeing all the different cultures too. I really did not know about the flooding, we had been stuck at home with a seasonal illness. More rain in the forecast, of course.
    Frances

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