Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Family Visit 2015

These sunglasses were lost in the sea
This year instead of my visiting Oklahoma City we brought Sam, Alex, and Vivian to Cape Cod to visit us. None of them had been away on vacation for a while - this was Vivian's first plane trip. We loaded up on groceries and entertainment ideas and got ready for our company.

In spite of having a forecast of sunny skies all week we ended up with two sunny days - one of which was pouring rain early in the morning. We wanted to indulge in some beach time, but instead of having swimming days we mainly had "visit the beach for a walk days".  One day when it was sunny enough it was incredibly windy and temperatures hovered in the mid 50's. We did not stay long at the beach even though we had packed a picnic. We did have enough good weather for walking on the beach, and visiting Salem and Provincetown. The weather was fine for Salem, and we were able to stop in Plymouth to tour the Mayflower II on the way. We also walked down the street to gawk at The Rock. The main sight I like to visit in Salem is the Witch Trials Memorial in the Old Burying Point; Sam's favorite was the high school which was one of the buildings used in the film "Hocus Pocus". The drive back from Salem killed any desire to go to Boston for the day. We hit rush hour through Boston and got off in Dorchester to gas up. I must point out that we passed Stitch House twice but I did not go in even once. I probably should have, then we would have been behind the traffic instead of in the thick of it.  One thing I noticed in Dorchester was that there is inexplicably a gigantic bronze statue of a Clapp pear. We passed it twice while searching for a public rest room and I did not see any explanation for it. I had to Google it after I got home. Apparently it symbolizes the people of Dorchester (Whitey Bulger's old neighborhood) in that it has a tough skin but a soft center.

Our Provincetown day turned out fair, and we were able to enjoy a whale watching trip and a climb up the Pilgrim Monument. Many people do not know that the Pilgrims landed first at Provincetown. There's quite a view from the top of the monument, only a little tarnished by the knowledge that you are going to have to go back all the way down.  The monument has no elevator. Sam wore flip flops, which she deeply regretted. She ended up  climbing up and down barefooted. We had good luck on the whale watch - a mother and calf and two other humpbacks who were all willing to show us their tails! The sea was quite rough going out; Sam suffered from seasickness. and the rest of us were cold. Alex was pleased to hear that I did not need to add his sweatshirt to my outerwear. What a gentleman he was to offer it!

Vivian lost a tooth while she was here. She was a bit concerned that the Tooth Fairy might not find her, but that turned out not to be a problem.

I took quite a few pictures, so if you want to see more hop on over to my Flickr Photostream to check them out. There are a lot of them there (and not much editing or weeding out was done).

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Goodbye Roxy

The most beautiful ears
14 years ago, when we had just lost our beloved Great Dane Ezra's Sigmund Freud and we were not looking for another dog, Roxy sneaked into our hearts. My sister in law had found her loose on a major road and sent her to live with my ex-husband because while Lori tried to find her owner because Roxy was an escape artist and he had a better fence. After her owner was not found, and she was there looking at me every time I stopped by with our children Roxy ended up coming home with me. Our vet thought she was probably two years old.

She answered to Roxy, but we quickly dubbed her The Amazing Roxanne, Evil Wild Dog of the Prairie. She was a first class escape artist, not only running out of doors and pushing screens out of windows but also digging out from under fences and on one memorable occasion jumping off of a roof to run off. That trick ruptured her ACL, requiring surgery and a stint of rehab in our pool. The substantial bandage the surgery required did not keep her from digging out under the fence and running off on three legs. The knee healed well, but there was nothing to be done with the hip, and it bothered her in her later years whenever the weather changed. She went in and out through the neighbor's doggie door to eat her friend's food, crawled under another neighbor's garage door to eat the cat food June kept there to feed to local feral cats, and could run so fast no one could catch her to bring her home.

Luckily she was very food oriented. We could call her home from a great distance by rattling a jar of treats, and it was easy to teach her tricks with the right inducement. This interest in food also motivated her to jump up on the kitchen counter and eat anything going. After all - "it might be food - if not I'll just throw up". She tried pickles, lettuce, pecan pie (a big hit) and anything else she would get. She could also open cupboard doors and step on trash cans to get at whatever was inside. The bathroom trash can was her special disgusting favorite.

Although she was too small (about 20 pounds) to do major damage, she was resourceful. She managed to climb a book shelf to get and eat a pair of hearing aids. She was able to climb up between the wall and a dresser by bracing her back and feet against the opposing walls to gain access to the cat food we thought we had protected. She was very taken with some perfumes. I had received a box of Lush bath bombs as a treat, which she attacked and dragged around to roll in. Irish Spring was her favorite soap, which she loved take from my son's tub into the living room to roll around in. He had perennially hairy soap. She was a devoted huntress, plucking a blue jay out of the air, and capturing an opossum in the back yard.

When we got her she was very bad on a leash. lunging, barking and pulling. Once we put her on a special harness to train her it turned out she had known all along how to behave, and was thereafter nearly perfect on leash. She was good with other dogs with very few exceptions, and was an easy travel companion. She liked cats, although this affection was not generally reciprocated. She was not worried by new people, and liked visitors, including repairmen. My father in law was one of her favorites. She demonstrated her love by racking him every time he came through our door. She loved my son, and demonstrated her love by biting his friend Jesse on the behind every morning because he came every day to take her boy away. (they walked to school together)

In her last years she seemed to be a tractable and agreeable dog, but still liked to indulge her hunting instincts. We have been bothered by little creatures burrowing under our shed. She thought it might be her life's work to get under there and catch whatever was hiding there. Although pretty much blind and deaf, she enjoyed ranging around the yard following her nose wherever an interesting scent could be found. She proved her worth chasing geese off my in-laws yard with gusto.

Last week the blood tests needed to get her teeth cleaned revealed that she was far advanced in kidney failure, and we had her put down yesterday. Her response to treatment was not adequate to justify keeping her with us any longer. We will love and miss her always, but we are at peace with our decision. She was a grand dog, our Baby Angel and Roxanne Roxannadana, and we were lucky to have her on our lives for so long.

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Garden Tour 6/3/15

As promised, a little video tour of the garden. I'll apologize in advance for my terrible video skills. Maybe the next one will be better, but I doubt it.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

An Imperfect Blogger

On Lauren's wonderful blog Wearing History Lauren has posed a challenge for all bloggers - to show the imperfections behind the beautiful images we like to put forward for our readers. Lauren was able to match up images with concurrent events to show the contrast. I'll just pass along a little of my context, mainly because I am having trouble finding the pictures I want from past blog posts.

I don't have an aspirational lifestyle blog with pictures of a perfect life for others to envy,

but I still pick and choose what to show. I choose my angles so as not to show the little gypsy camp around my chair when I am knitting and have everything strewn around. My outdoor pictures do not show the amazing chaos of my neighbor's yard or closeups of the garden beds that are looking bad and that I am not sure what to do with. I'm happy to highlight garden failures that are not my fault and to soft pedal the ones I brought on myself with laziness or ignorance. I don't post pictures of myself looking like a weasel (very often) or pictures that show me looking really tubby.

My knitting is often going awry - things get started and ripped back time after time. I make bad yarn choices and have to start over with different yarn. There are yarns in my stash I should never have purchased. There are finished objects waiting for me to block them that I am too lazy to tackle. There are finished objects that are waiting to be torn out because they are butt-ugly.

Everyone loves beautiful pictures of Cape Cod. I don't show the tatty touristy spots and souvenir stands. I don't show the drug problems, the unemployment, the homelessness, the groundwater issues. You can't tell from the beach pictures that the lovely young things lounging nearby are enjoying a long, loud and vacuous conversation dotted with vulgar language to a background of loud music. Seals bite. Flies bit. We are tick central.

I buy too many books and sometimes read too few of them. I go back to reread old favorites when I could be learning something new. I'm fallible and idle, like everyone else.  My dogs bark when I want to sleep. My "baby angel" get lost in the back yard now and eats cat poo (with gusto). I sometimes want to kill "The Little Woman". My car is unremittingly dirty. It's just life.

Read your favorite blogs, enjoy Pinterest, congratulate your Facebook friends on their book publishing, their family achievements, their new house or car, their new job, their Nobel Prize. Just know they are showing their best selves and are not sharing their hemorrhoids, the stupid fight they had with their kids, the leaky roof, the overdraft charges,  They may suspect their spouse is cheating, they may be hiding abuse, they may be posting the only good thing that happened all week. Be kind. Kindness is always the answer.

Thursday, May 07, 2015

Early May 2015 Garden Report

Winter has finally and more or less completely given up its grip. I think the garden is behind where it was last year - I'll know for sure when I compare. In terms of size it's bigger. The bed bordering the front walk is new, and I've started on a perennial border along the back fences behind the veggie garden.

Winter losses - looks like two small lavender gone. My fleabane and sweet william have not come back (yet), and the mountain bluet looked small and weak before something bit it off at the ground. I have only half a dozen tulips, and the single one bud that was ready to open was also bitten off. Tomorrow I am purchasing some Repels-all to pour under the shed and dribble around some of the more attractive plants. I would like to have parsley for the table, not to fatten up groundhogs or other marauders. There was some kind of little creature in the yard yesterday - probably a chipmunk - Mitzi is interested but unless it comes inside the fence she won't get a chance. The cat behind us does come into the yard but I think he is only really interested in birds. I lost one veronica from the new front bed, but everything else made it through the winter there, probably because everything, including the hydrangeas, was completely and totally buried under snow up to my shoulders for two months.

Successes - my "tall veronica" which is really something else but was labeled that way doubled its number of stalks from last year. The Liatris is so enthusiastic I will have to start pulling some of it out. I will use some in other places but I will have more than I need. I thought I had moved my baptisia to the front bed but apparently I did not get all the root because it is coming up well in both places. I thought I was taking a chance because it does not like to be moved, but doubled is good. It gets  more sun in the front yard, so maybe it will bloom better there. My peony is much bigger, and the cosmos has reseeded. I don't know about the four-o-clocks; they come up much later. It's hard to believe they would have given up. The shrub border looks (a little) more like bushes and less like a row of sticks now, but is still not big enough to block my neighbor's piles of stuff. His son had a serious motorcycle accident earlier this year, so I doubt he will be moving along this summer. This means the tarp covered pile of his belongings will have to stay.

These are really boring photos unless you just like looking at little stumps. The next round of garden pictures will be much better, and in June I swear I will make a little video tour of the whole thing looking wonderful, so that you get the full effect.

Monday, April 27, 2015

A Quiet Life

Piping Plover
Things are quiet here, waiting for the warm weather to set rolling. Any time it seems nearly warm enough I go for a stroll on the beach or a putter around the yard.  We went out to Hyannis the other day and took a look at the Kennedy Memorial and the Korean War Memorial (both in the same general area) and a walk on the beach, where I saw a piping plover. It's a killdeer relative and a protected species who nests early in the season. Nesting areas are blocked off on all the beaches until the babies are up and out of the nest, which is quickly because piping plover babies are like killdeer babies and are up and around right away. I have always seen the blocked nesting areas, but had never actually caught sight of a plover. They are quite small, and match the sand perfectly.

The bicycles are going in for a check up Wednesday afternoon. The lawnmower is still with the repairman for its tune up; the overwintered geraniums still in the basement. Since I put mine downstairs in the dark to overwinter in dormancy they will in no way resemble my brother's gigantic pink geranium that spends indoor winters in front of a south facing window blooming continuously, but I am hoping to save myself a few bucks by using them for more than one summer. This week I should get my basil started in the house so that it has a head start on the weather. I can't decide whether or not to pick up my rosemary plants yet, or if it's time to replace the sage that died over the winter. It looks like the epazote that proved so hard to get started for the last two years self seeded with a vengeance in one of the patio pots. I've moved it out to the garden in the herb area, but now I am wondering if it will take over the garden.

 In a week or two my driveway will be graded to improve drainage, or at least get rid of the worst of the hills and hollows. Even the grading is costly, so paving it will have to wait a bit longer. I'll have plenty of fresh mulch delivered at the same time to save on the cost and can get the big stack of saved newspapers out of the kitchen and over the weeds currently trying to take over where there is not enough mulch. Five or six thicknesses of newspaper (just the newsprint, not the colored advertising sections) under the mulch works a treat for weed control. The newspaper blocks sunlight but lets water through, so the weeds decay into useful compost and everything looks beautiful with a fraction of the hard work of pulling the weeds. I have a lot of effort and a bit of money tied up in shrubs and perennials, so the mulch is needed to protect my investment.

I've been doing very little knitting. I developed a trigger thumb and to avoid unappealing treatments I'm wearing a brace until it heals. The brace is not very uncomfortable, but slows my knitting down quite a bit. I've put off picking up my sweater-in-progress to work on in case the brace may change my gauge and thereby change the size of my sweater. I've been able to do a little on a pair of socks and a shawl, both more than half finished.

With the cool and damp weather Roxy is feeling a bit crotchety. She likes to get up on the sofa at night, but lately does not want to jump down first thing in the morning.  I imagine she's developed some arthritis and is stiff and sore after a long sleep. Once she's moving around for the day it seems to bother her less, but it's clearly a sign that her age is catching up with her.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Spring 2015 Garden

I finally put some batteries in my camera to get my early spring benchmark pictures in the garden. I like to have some to compare various years to see which have been more productive, and which
winters leave us struggling out of the starting gate. As I warned, very boring, but relieved by a new picture of The Amazing Roxanne, Evil Wild Dog of the Prairie, celebrating her 16th birthday this year. Also a little video of the Russian Army singing "Barbie Girl".