Saturday, August 31, 2013

Dream Life

Dreamy garden which is not mine
This week I am preparing for having houseguests, dearly anticipated family and friends. Every night I dream of some new and fiendish combinations of guests, the most recent I remember being Lindsay Lohan and Betty White. Most of my house is unsatisfactory in these dreams. Of particular concern in my dream is my bathroom, which daytime examination reveals to be a perfectly ordinary and perfectly functioning room. In my dreams it becomes oddly configured and ill-functioning chamber of horrors, sometimes resembling in every particular the room that appears sometimes in my dreams that I call "the ugly bathroom".

Not mine but lovely
Maybe it is a function of getting older. Even in my dreams I don't devote a lot of energy to creating things from scratch when I don't need to. If a dream requires a grocery store it takes place in "the ugly grocery store" - a dream rearrangement of a grocery store in Columbus Ohio (I'm sure it is gone now) that occupied a defunct roller rink. There is a house that appears often whose odd configuration is complicated by a suite of secret rooms that are sometimes completely ignored and sometimes provide the major plot of the dream. My grandfather's back yard is a common backdrop, being long and sloped with a shed behind the garage and an empty chicken coop. Dreams of urban confusion often take place in what I take to be a university building whose floor plan I can never quite remember. In some dreams it is a college building, in others a government building or an office building. Driving around dreams most often take place in a dreamscape altered Manhattan Kansas. A seaside arrangement of roads, marshes and beaches serves as a vacation destination or quest setting. It's like Dream Tarot - a limited set of images combined in a different configuration every time. Maybe it's just that my head is so full of junk that there isn't even room for an original dream! Maybe the dream shorthand of familiar but imagined landscapes frees my mind up to busy itself with the real purpose of the dream.
Someone's dreamy garden

In a dreamy aside, in one of my recent dreams I was at work at the Major Retailer who pays me to appear. A new company policy had been created to add more satisfaction to the customer service experience. We were to offer our "guests" foot massages, even to lure people in off the street with the promise of foot massages. We were short handed on the floor because one person had walked off the job rather than rub random people's feet and another was in the process of setting up for a massage. I guess I must be ready for Labor Day weekend, when the tourists and Summer People go home and leave the Cape to the year round residents.

The garden pictured here is not mine, but I am green with envy every time I see it. I am pretty sure it is professionally maintained and occupies a lot which probably would sell for close to a million dollars. It's one of the very few possessions of the wealthy that just makes me sick to my stomach with desire.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Dog Days

The Amazing Roxanne
We are still winding down the summer. Tomato Land is finally producing ripe fruit, and the tomato plants at the House of D have to be picked, so we are eating tomato bruschetta and tomato sandwiches and tomatoes in our salads and tomatoes out of hand. I don't even feel bad about the fact that very few of our cherry tomatoes make it into the house because I pop them into my mouth on the spot. We have had green bean casserole (the deluxe home made version) and three bean salad with our own beans and as much salad greens as we could use. Next year I think we should add green peppers and radishes to see how they do in this climate. I think the most luxurious thing about the garden is that I have as much fresh herbs as I want. Fresh herbs are so expensive at the grocery that I never buy much, and never the large variety that I have in the garden. When the bean salad called for a tablespoon of parsley I used about half a cup, plus some dill, cilantro, and oregano.

This is our last weekend before the house guests arrive, so projects will be proceeding apace. It's good to have deadlines; otherwise I might sit around watching Pride and Prejudice, knitting along with my feet up and happy to be on schedule with my holiday knitting. Even the dogs will have deadlines - a haircut for Mitzi, baths all around, and nail trims for everyone. As far as I know the queen of England is not coming so prep will be reasonable, but I do want the house and garden to look as good as possible. I want us to make a good impression!

I also have a grooming scheduled for myself. I decided to stop coloring my hair this year, and simultaneously decided to grow out the pixie. I wanted to go classic bob, but of course that means an ugly grow out. The usual procedure for grown ups would be to enlist my stylist in the process, but I think that actually takes longer because your stylist cannot be content without cutting something and creating a style at every step. Instead I have been cutting it myself - just cutting off the mullet the shaggy bits and putting up with a certain lack of style. Jennifer pointed our kindly that I looked like Moe at one point.  I want to look like a human when my company comes, and I think I have (barely) enough length for a short bob, so it's time to cut. I will be keeping my natural color.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Sunday Beach Life

We have spent the last few Sundays at the beach - A beach, to be more exact. I love the Atlantic beaches of Cape Cod. Although they are a little drive away it's well worth the drive. It's late in the season, so if we are on the road by 9:00 am we can choose our beach.

This time we chose Nauset Light Beach. We were fortunate enough to see large numbers of seals early in the day, and also fortunate enough that the seals left the area soon after we arrived. Seals are very interesting to see, but you must maintain a distance of at least 150 feet from them. When they are hanging around the beach you can't get into the water near them. Also, seals in large numbers draw sharks. Shark sightings will close the beach. Although you can stay on the sand, you are not permitted to go into the water. As if you would want to swim with the great white sharks that come every summer. This was a nice beach for sitting on the sand, but going into the water was not as nice as it is at some beaches. There was a combination of steep dropoff and large rocks that was unpleasant for me. The drop, the shifting rocks, and the undertow pulled me down more than once. throwing me onto the shifty rocks (bottom first, I am happy to say).

Shana and Dea complained of rocks being thrown at their legs when waves came in. Either way, the cold water and tumbling large rocks made us all have sore toes. When I say rocks I mean baseball to cantaloupe sized rocks. We brought boogie boards to play with, but never did use them because of the general ouchiness of the rocks.

One nice feature of Nauset Light Beach is the Three Sisters Lighthouses. Currently there is one brick lighthouse at Nauset. Two decommissioned lighthouses from Nauset and one from Chatham have been moved to a configuration much like the original three sighted at Nauset a short distance from the beach, accessible by a paved path.

And for something completely different: a mashup of Get Lucky and Soul Train!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Late Summer Life

Here on the Cape we do not want to see summer end, although the end of summer does mean the end of the massive influx of Summer People. The days of light traffic and easy access to everything are coming into view. Because of the buffering effects of the surrounding ocean we do enjoy pleasant temperatures a little longer, but the ordinary and common effects of astronomical fall are inescapable. Shorter days are here, and cooler temperatures with them. Long bike rides are easier, but they must take place earlier to avoid riding at dusk. Our early sunrises are offset by early sunsets.

Yesterday we packed up early and went to the Cape Cod National Seashore. Even leaving here early in the morning did not get us a parking place at my favorite beach, but since they are all wonderful I was happy to settle for Marconi Beach. I actually went into the water, which is a big deal for me. In general my standards for sea bathing are set by the Gulf of Mexico. If the water is cooler than 84° I will not be going in there. Yesterday the water temperature was around 62°. This is about as warm as it gets on the Atlantic side, so I sucked it up and went in. Extra "refreshing", but big fun. Shana and Dea saw a couple of seals, but no sharks were spotted yesterday.

In the garden life moves on. Spring flowers bloom and the plants turn their energies to producing the seed and roots needed for next year. Some disappear underground, leaving empty spaces. Some remain visible in the garden with ratty foliage that needs a haircut to present the minimum of decent appearance. The first plantings of peas and lettuce gives way to the succession plantings, while carrots grow and sweeten. I turn away from new planting and into planning for next year. What do I need to add here to keep blooms all summer? Should I overplant the spring ephemerals with annuals next year? What needs to be moved to accommodate a bigger plant than expected? Should the forsythia be cut back hard next year or do I need to move everything under it to a spot with less competition? The existing beds are full, and the planning moves to the beds which will be the focus next year. How many yards of mulch will be needed? Will the path me mulch or will we leave it in grass for another year? With a long winter ahead to plan for my garden I pore over catalogs and websites. Early planning invites my plant greediness; as the time gets closer I will make more realistic choices. Over the winter I will have time to evaluate how much clear area I need for piling up snow and how far into the yard ice treatment chemicals intrude.

I will have house guests in September, so there are some little cosmetic projects that will have to be completed before they arrive. The timing calls attention to how little will be in bloom in the garden when they are here, but I don't think it will be a problem this year. The first visitors are coming for a memorial service for my father in law; family will be the main interest then. My second group will be friends from Oklahoma City - I can't wait to see them and show them around my new home. We will surely spend some of our time beaching it and some valuable cocktail time.

Gift knitting is in full swing, and my inventory grows in a satisfying way. I am thinking more often of family as I create gifts made of equal parts of yarn and love. Every stitch holds a loving thought.

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Watching the Mayflower II

One of the prime features of Plimoth Plantation is the Mayflower II, a 1957 full scale reconstruction of the original ship that brought the Pilgrims to America. It might be worthwhile to mention here that the original landing was at Provincetown Massachusetts on beautiful Cape Cod, and not Plymouth, rock or no rock.

Like any ship, and most especially any wooden ship, periodic maintenance and repairs are needed. This took a bit longer than expected, as the needed repairs were extensive, and required large timbers which are no longer readily available. Repairs were done in drydock in Fairhaven, so transporting the Mayflower II was through the Cape Cod Canal.

This morning the Mayflower II returned to Plymouth, and many people were present to see it being towed through the Cape Cod Canal. Those who live on the Cape are very aware of our maritime history, and anything related to both history and the sea draws a crowd. We were surprised to see how quickly it was towed. I was also surprised to see how small it is, and more particularly how narrow. A tour of the ship is still in my future, but it was exciting to see it as it passed by. Coming quickly through the canal in the company of its escort and other modern boats, it passed by like a shadow of the past.

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Count de Money

Life goes on. I am busy every day and yet nothing that happens seems to be blog fodder. News and politics compel my attention, yet are so discouraging and infuriating that I am (temporarily) speechless. With that in mind I share something I have not seen for a while but that has current relevance: