Monday, September 01, 2014

My Annual Labor Day Post

I often have to remind people what Unions have done for them: the 40 hour week, OSHA, uneployment insurance and so much else. Here's my yearly union song - a playlist of Old School union songs.

By the way, the power of Labor has recently been demonstrated by the workers and customers of the local Market Basket grocery chain.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

National Dog Day

At my house it may seem that every day is Dog Day, but this town opens their pool for a dog party before they close for the season:

Richard, does this make up for the chicken video?

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Out on the Water

Today the weather was perfect, and my kayaking friends were available for a kayaking afternoon. At last we took our new kayaks out for a spin. Shana and I have had them for a couple of months but were a little nervous about loading them up and actually going for a paddle. We wanted to get out with a couple of experienced paddlers for our first time out so we would be prevented from looking too stupid.

We went down to Mashpee Neck and put in there. From there we were able to take a paddle through a marsh where we could enjoy a bit of nature and a bit of peeking at the backsides of the summer houses of the 1% , then out to Thatch Island where Sue, Shana and I had a nice walk on the beach and Sue and Dea were able to have a little swim. In contrast with the crowded public beaches, the beach on the south side of Thatch Island was deserted and beautiful. Shana was in love! The water was reasonably warm today, but the air temperature was pleasant; it was a perfect day to be out on the water. I was pleased to note that my new kayak and paddle were comfortable to use, and my flotation jacket was very suitable for the sport. I kept my old iPhone to use as a kayak camera that I could upload from later because I already have a waterproof case for it. I didn't take my new one with me because I was not sure about my waterproof storage, but the things I carried in there were just fine. Since I was overturned in a matter of minutes the last time I kayaked I did not want to take any camera that was not protected out with me. We had a great time, topped off with a delicious fried fish dinner from Cooke's Seafood before we went our separate ways. Shana and I will definitely go back there to kayak, especially after Labor Day when parking is less of a problem. There are just a few pictures here, as usual I will upload more to my Flickr gallery.

What I learned today: 1. put your paddles in the car so you don't have to go back to get them. 2. quick dry clothing is really only effective if you have quick dry underwear. 3. take a snack bar or something out with you because if you don't you will be starving. 4. We know how to load up and put in well enough to enjoy a kayaking afternoon. This is valuable information because Cape Cod is a kayaking paradise. There are dozens of nice places to paddle accessible to us with a very short drive. The place where we went today is probably about 15 minutes from our house. Now that we feel confident about our skills we can go out any afternoon for a couple of hours without thinking twice about it.

 Holiday knitting is proceeding slowly. I have run into a classic problem of the pattern I want to use and the yarn I want to use not matching up. I'll know better in about 37 rows (!) if it's possible to make the yarn bend to my will. Something tells me I will do better to scale the pattern a bit to use the needle size the yarn wants instead of knitting on when I know I will not be happy with the fabric the needles that will get me gauge will make. Hard lessons, and ones I seem to have to learn afresh every single year. I'm hard headed. I should really look for a pattern that suits the gauge this yarn wants to be knit to.

And Just for you, Richard, a chicken video borrowed from Karen at The Art of Doing Stuff!

Friday, August 15, 2014

At the Mashpee B&B

We recently had the pleasure of having a house guest at our little house. Shana's aunt came to visit for a week for a change of scene and a little rest. Shana misses her family, so any who can come to visit are more than welcome.  It gave me an opportunity to show off my garden, and gave us an excuse to go back to Newport and tour another "cottage".

This time we visited Doris Duke's Rough Point. It's a smaller house than The Breakers (but every house is) and more interesting because Ms. Duke's art collection was more interesting to me, and her house less of a crazy golden mishmash. It was occupied by Ms. Duke until her death in 1993, and remains furnished as it was at that time, making it less of a stiff museum and more of a family home tour. We also explored the grounds while we were there - the flower gardens are very pretty and rather informal within a formal structure. I got loads of ideas for my own gardens which will necessarily be of more modest dimensions but which will feature many of the same plants in similarly constituted beds. Sadly, I will have to do without the manicured gigantic boxwood hedges, finding myself without a proper staff.

On the way home we stopped in Providence to have a meal at an Italian restaurant in the Federal Hill neighborhood. We had hoped to stop at a grocer in the area to purchase some pasta & other Italian delicacies but got delayed by a much needed coffee stop in Newport. Also our GPS took us to Providence by way of the outer planets. Shana and I had been planning a trip for dinner; I'm glad we made it during the summer because we were able to eat outdoors in a plaza which not only had a lot of restaurants but also featured live entertainment. We ate delicious dishes while enjoying a singer who makes his living sounding like Frank Sinatra. This was even better than it sounds.

 In addition to our trip to Rhode Island we made the beach rounds and cooked up some lobsters at home while we had company.

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Saying Goodbye to a Hero of Recycling

Milly Zantow has passed away is Prairie du Sac, Wisconsin at 91. I had never heard of her, and I'd be willing to bet most people have not either. She started a recycling company in Wisconsin and created the plastics recycling symbol you see on the bottom of everything to this day. Below is an interview with her, very interesting and not too long. What an inspiration - a single person who wanted to make a difference and did it.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Instead of Raising Goats...

...I will amuse myself by posting screaming goats. Don't say I didn't warn you.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

A Little More July in the Garden

Even though the Very Long Terrible Horrible winter is long past the effects are still being felt in my garden. Some ordinarily very hardy plants succumbed to too long periods of intense cold and some expired from too much dampness due to prolonged snow cover in the already moister parts of the garden. Others liked the conditions and flourished.

The Nepenta I took from my mother in law's garden attempted to take over the earth this year because the limiting Gaura and four o' clocks left the area. The Gaura expired and the four o' clocks died out where they were last year but came up from seed somewhere else (to be carefully watched for dominating behavior).  A little more moisture over the winter was welcomed by my dwarf Monarda, which is twice as tall as last year, although still withing dwarf range. The hosta blooms I ordinarily care little for are luxuriant and beautiful this year. My Japanese Painted Fern has decided to shoot up to knee high. Many of my hydrangeas may not bloom this year, although none have died outright.

 My tall veronica is not only still over six feet tall but also has very full  and beautiful blooms. The plant has not only attracted masses of bees this year but unaccountable numbers of gigantic wasps. Kind of horrible. One thing I am thinking about this plant is that it is not veronica, although it was sold with that identification. I think it is Culvers Root (Veronicastum virginicum) and the other plant I have in my garden also sold as Veronica is truly Veronica (Veronica) also known as Speedwell. Close examination of images on Google would argue that one was incorrectly identified. No complaints, as I like both plants, but just as a point or correct identification, and a reminder of why Latin names are so important. That would explain why it is so gigantic compared to every other Veronica I own.

One thing that I found this year if that it seems that my plants are blooming slightly out of sequence. Part of that could be conditions in my particular garden where my blooms are arriving before or after those in other gardens I have seen. Part of it is just plain puzzling. My Phlox is just now coming into bloom although the Liatris has been in bloom for some time. Nothing shocking, exactly, but just a tiny bit out of whack. I suspect it is a combination of things. For plants that depend on temperature as a trigger Climate Change may be the culprit, whereas plants that depend on hours of daylight would not be as effected by warmer temperatures than expected. Plants that found the winter exceptionally stressful may have bloomed early as a result. In the case of my hydrangeas I may be getting late or no blooms because the flower buds on the old growth may have been killed leaving only new growth blooms which would be expected to be later.