Monday, July 27, 2015

Midsummer Doldrums

Well, not quite doldrums. The garden is in its July glory, waiting for me to take some new pictures. Three knitting projects are still on the needles, and two finished objects I have are not yet blocked . Spare time is spent on the beach, reading Anthony Trollop's nice novels about people trying to marry for money.

Politics are already driving me into a rage - I am honestly not quite sure what is so much worse about Donald Trump than the rest of the numerous venal old white men vying for the GOP nomination. Apparently the RNC does not like him, but I suspect that is because he is not already bought and paid for. That we know of.

So. Not having anything much to show off I will treat you to a video of something quite blamelessly cute:

Sunday, July 05, 2015

Into the City

We have long wanted to see the fireworks display on the Fourth of July in Boston, and this year we decided to go. Instead of planning a big trip for ourselves this year we had brought my younger kids out to visit so we thought a couple of shorter local trips this summer would be just the ticket. Shana's schedule leaves her Fridays free, so off we went up the highway to Boston for a weekend vacation.

We stayed at the Kendall Hotel in Kendall Square, where we had not stayed before. Friends had stayed here in the past and we liked the looks of it so we gave it a try. Very nice, one of my favorites, and we will stay there again. It's a converted firehouse with pretty and individually decorated rooms, good breakfast selections, and convenient to the T. The only thing I could say against it is that it is SO convenient to the T that we could feel (faintly) the trains passing below. Not particularly disturbing to me, and I don't think Shana really even noticed it, but for some people it might be annoying. One reason why we wanted to stay there was that it was less than a mile from the Charles River, where we wanted to walk to see the fireworks.

We saw a ball game Friday night (a miserable loss) and came home late. The game plus fireworks after didn't let out until late - we were still on the street waiting to get underground into the subway at midnight. It takes a while for 37,000 people to disperse, and most will be taking the subway. It went as smoothly as such things go, but I did not want to do it twice in one weekend so we and about 100,000 of our dearest friends met up on foot along the Charles on the MIT campus to see the display. The concert and the fireworks barge were directly across the river. While most of the concert could only be enjoyed across the river on the Esplanade, the fireworks portion was broadcast over FM radio. MIT set up speakers so we could all hear the music. There were food trucks and portable toilets there as well. Just about ideal, and the weather was perfect.The fireworks were fabulous. Obviously the best I have ever seen. They started with the 1812, with artillery and a nice burst of fireworks. Then a short break and the show began in earnest starting at about the level a smaller city might use for their finale and increasing in drama from there. It was just splendid! It was so convenient to be able to walk there and back. The nearby streets were closed so it was possible for the gigantic mass of people to get out in reasonable comfort and we were back at our hotel in no time.

Saturday we also visited the USS Constitution. She is currently in dry dock for repairs, so we were not able to tour below decks, but we were there for a 21 gun salute which is done only on the 4th.  We had a light lunch with fruity vacation drinks and did a little shopping and people watching near Faneuil Hall. Later on we walked over to the North End for a sumptuous dinner at Mama Maria's. We were fortunate that the Maitre d' (after a short convo) let us in dressed as we were in shorts to sit upstairs at their tiny bar. Once past that gauntlet we were treated well and our meals were fantastic! I would really recommend it, although if you are expecting meatballs and chicken parm you will be disappointed.

old and new - the Old Statehouse surrounded by skyscrapers

We headed home after a leisurely breakfast to see traffic going off Cape already backing up for miles before 11am. We'd hoped to go to the beach for a while, but by the time we got there no one could get in  - all the parking was taken. The weather today is exceptional and no one wants to leave the beach. It was the only disappointment in a wonderful weekend, but from the number of cars that started coming to the Cape on Thursday it was not really a big surprise. I read my paper on the deck and messed around in the garden instead.

I didn't take very many pictures during this trip. We were mainly focused on relaxing and spending some time together away from our usual routine, so we didn't try to see a lot of new things.

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.