Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Notes From the Culture

I've been listening to the news with one ear this morning while I tried to get Quicken to bend to my will and give me a comprehensible household budget. Without the pretty pictures it seems that the only thing on the news is death. Death celebrated and discussed endlessly. A frequent airing of the grievances of the mass murderer du jour accompanied by circular discussions of how this could have been prevented without depriving anyone of guns of all kinds. I notice that the news media (so often accused of left wing bias) has studiously avoided discussions of gun control. Other stories laud memorial services for all kinds of people, and complaints from all kinds of people that the feelings of dead people and their survivors are being hurt by the wrong kinds of memorials. Anyone who is not actually dead but who knows or knew a dead person of any kind is now apparently a survivor. Aren't we all survivors in that case? Once again I am in imminent danger of becoming, or being identified as, a crank. Still, I think the emphasis on stress, strife, and death is fostering end exacerbating the Every Man For Himself nature of the world today, and fragments the power of people against our real enemies: disease, want, greed, hate.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Cat Time

I saw an interesting post today, it read "Cats know how you feel. They just don't care!". That probably about sums it up. Here's some more cat for your viewing pleasure:

Sunday, May 18, 2014

A Quick Trip

I'm just back from a quickie road trip to Vermont. We drove up to help a friend with troublesome carpal tunnel syndrome and a minimal budget move to Cape Cod so we didn't have time for sightseeing except as possible from the car on the way past. We drove up in three cars and loaded up everything we could. I think what is left will just fit into Moving Girl's car next weekend when she goes up to clean up the apartment, so I'd call it a successful weekend.

After everything was packed into the cars we went out for a quick meal at Firefly, which looks quite elegant on its website, but which is a very nice pub with very good food. I indulged in poutine, which I had never had before. It's delicious and has no redeeming nutritional value whatsoever. I want more right now. Shana had the chili and Moving Girl had the veggie burger. Everybody liked their selection. The wine list was particularly nice, with lots of helpful descriptions of the various choices.

 Shana and I proceeded to our motel and Moving Girl went off to bed. We stayed at the Four Winds Motel, which cracked me up when I saw it - it's a really Old School roadside classic. I think the room we stayed in is actually featured on the website (it's the one with the orange wall and two rocking chairs). Seriously though, we liked it quite a lot. Clean and convenient with good high speed Internet and comfy beds (breakfast included!).The last of our party went out visiting one of her long distance friends, taking advantage of their being in the same town for once. Although we had breakfast plans for later we dropped in on the motel breakfast room for a cup of coffee, where we encountered a young woman wrangling five young children by herself. Apparently she was visiting Vermont with her husband, a marathon runner with the ambition of running a marathon in every state. I think she has the worse part of that bargain. He's off chasing (and training for) his dream while she's in motel rooms all over the country with five restless children.

In the morning we met up and went out for a hearty breakfast at the J. J. Hapgood General Store and Eatery, an appealing combination of delicious organic-style food and an intriguing dry goods selection. I had delicious oatmeal pancakes and could not resist a beautiful bar of French lavender bath soap. We also came away with a bottle of locally produced Vermont  maple syrup from Bobo's Mountain Sugar.

Even considering what we could see from the car the area looks great. There's plenty to do and see in the Green Mountain area, and we are already planning to go back in September for a short camping trip.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Garden Progress May 16 2014

I know, two posts in one day is excessive and peculiar, but I did want to post what's going on in my garden since the last time and I will be out of town most of the weekend. It's been two weeks since the last pictures (all are up over at Flickr, in case you want to see lots of bare ground pictures).

Yes, the grass does look crummy in this area
The biggest signs of progress are in the shade plantings. In the big bed the hostas are looking full and beautiful, and the Solomon's Seal is blooming. I replaced the broken bird bath basin. The last fern to come up was the last thing I added to that bed. I thought maybe it was not going to return, but it is not only returning but moving around. There is an additional frond about six inches from where I planted the original. Anyone who thinks plants are stuck where you put them may not understand the nature of plants. They seem to always be looking for a better spot.  Some things, like lily of the valley enlist birds to carry them around, but others are always on the move and I don't know how they do it. My reading corner is in a cooler part of the yard, so hostas are still coming up there. There is one which has not yet appeared - I think it is a blue, but I won't know for sure until it comes up. First up - Patriot, followed by Gold Standard, then Francis Willliam, then Sum and Substance, then the little mini that I can't settle on a name for.  I have changed the seating in the reading corner. Instead of two chairs I now have two chaises whose elderly condition had banished them from the deck when we put a table and chairs there. That makes the reading corner a prime spot for a nap. I tried it out already this week and can recommend it heartily. I moved a couple of hostas out from under my giant of a forsythia into better spots in the big shady bed and the reading corner.

This year my only peony has flower buds! I am excited to see it. I think it is a double in bright pink, maybe Duchess d'Orleans. I'll see how good my memory is when the buds open.

Solomon's Seal
In the sunny/veggie bed it looks like Cosmos are going to try to take over. They self seeded everywhere. The agastache does not look strong, but the fleabane I rescued from the dead plant table at the nursery looks like it's going to live. The three salvias I bought at the end of the season raggedy plant sale have settled in well too.  My gaura has not come back yet, and I think it may not have survived. I really thought it was pretty tough, as I never lost one in Oklahoma. Last winter may have just been too cold. I have not seen a sign of the fancy echinacea I splurged on either. Very disappointing, but since Magnus is just coming up I have a tiny bit of hope for it still. Bush beans have germinated, also radishes, beets, collards, parsnips and many others. My rosemary did not survive, so I'll have to buy a plant or two. I won't start with seed this year as it is really slow growing.

I am impatient to see action in the sunny bed this year because Shana's dad is coming to visit and I would like for there to be something to see besides bare dirt and sprigs. We are planning to have him help us dig out and install the planned new flower bed along the front walk.  I'm excited to have another sunny bed to fill with perennials. I'll start with moving around what we already have in the area, plus a couple of items that are not happy where they are or are too numerous for my taste (cosmos, I'm looking at you), but  no matter how conservative I am I will still have an excuse to pick up some new beauties. I hope one of the garden clubs may have a plant sale while I am shopping for this bed.

The biggest news in the garden is our new fence, which gives the dogs a lot of pleasure. I will be doing some planting along the fence net year - this year I moved a little rose of sharon from behind a rhododendron into a sunny spot near the new fence, but I don't think I will have time or money enough to do much more. In another month we will be kayaking, cycling, and lounging on the beach instead or tearing it up around the yard.

Before and After

It's been pretty clear that we have been doing a lot of outdoor projects this year. I rather hope the results speak for themselves. Of course I have a little something to add. In the "after" picture you can see trellises but nothing growing on them. There are actually roses planted under them which should reveal themselves later in the season.  Also today new lights are being installed on either side of the door which probably would not make much a a difference in the picture but will in real life. The shingles will in time weather back to grey. It looks like I took the pictures a few days apart because you can see the same plants blooming and leafing out, but these pictures were actually taken a couple of years apart. Just pure chance that the timing was spot in!

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Saturday Breakfast

Last Saturday we celebrated spring with our first meal of the season outdoors. We drove over to the Sesuit Harbor Cafe in East Dennis and joined Sue for an alfresco breakfast. It's not a fancy place, or easy to find, but the food is good and the atmosphere can't be beat. We had our breakfast while watching people working on their boats or going out for a first of the season cruise. Apparently in season they serve a good lobster roll and have a raw bar for those who are willing to eat raw seafood. That will not be me, but your mileage may vary.

Later we went to Agway in East Dennis and the Hyannis Country Garden for trellises, climbing roses and pots as the finishing touches to the improvements to the front of our house.  Today we picked up our window boxes. The front door to the house and the shed have been painted, and we are waiting only for trellis and window box installation plus the restoration of our downspouts the their proper place before planting our pots and getting our roses in the ground. We purchased two New Dawn climbers.  New Dawn is a popular rose on the Cape and a nice big, even rampant one which will grow to the height we want. We considered a few others, but New Dawn has a strong constitution, and many of our other favorites would not grow as large as we wanted. I will not be using poisons in consideration of the local bees, so a strong constitution will be a must.

The dogs are enjoying the fenced yard and so am I. Even though my gardens from last year are not completely awake and many seeds as yet ungerminated (peppers are not even started yet) I am already considering what I am going to plant along the new fence next year. The south side of the fenced area adjoins the veggie garden and is one of the few really sunny areas in our yard. I think it will be a combination of flowers and presentable vegetables. By next year I should be thinking of shifting Tomato Land to a different spot, so maybe my tomato cages can live there interplanted with hydrangeas and roses, butterfly bush and whatever I fancy! Oh, gardeners' dreams.

Thursday, May 01, 2014

May 1 2014 Garden

This year, the year of Endless Winter, I thought my garden was getting way behind. Comparison with last year's garden photos suggested that maybe things were not so bad, so however boring the pictures might be I am posting them here and over at my Flickr gallery for future reference. That way I will not be in a continual state of panic over the state of my garden.

Things in the yard are looking a bit messy. The fence is half up, not to be finished until tomorrow because this morning we had a large amount of rain.  New panels vie with decrepit old panels for laying around space. The things my neighbors were hiding along their side of the fence are revealed. Nearly everything that lives on the deck is strewn around the yard because the rain is also delaying house painting. The house and deck have been washed, the gutters are cleaned, and the primer coat is on the trim, but until the weather improves we can go no further.

Our trees and shrubs are still not leafed out, although the trees are in bud. The hydrangeas have started to leaf out just enough to assure me that none died over the winter. Some of my hostas are up, but given the fact that apparently they invite the heavy boot of workmen that may not be the best thing for them. The most exciting thing so far is the Solomon's Seal that I took from my mother-in-law's garden.  Last year it had increased some from the first year so I knew it was going to survive. This year it has really increased even more and is coming up looking big and healthy. So far I seem to be having less luck with heuchera. I think I will have to put something else where those live. They haven't exactly died, but they are far from thriving.  In the veggie patch chard is growing with some enthusiasm, parsley, chives and thyme are leaping out of the ground, and the radishes, collards, peas and  lettuce have germinated. Last year's carrots are sprouting new leaves. I'll be planting bush beans this week upon advice from another local gardener.

In early spring every year I swear I am going to give my forsythia a drastic pruning because it is just huge. Then it blooms and I understand why I have let it get to such a size: