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".

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Truly Spring

New Bedford Cobbles
This morning it was so pleasant (and not windy) that I was able to sit out on the deck and drink my coffee with the newspaper. What a joy, after our terrible horrible very bad winter.

I've been in the garden this week, doing the few clean up chores that were not done in the fall and looking around to see what did not make it and will need to be replaced.  So far it looks good. I have lost about half of my lavender - the smaller plants that were under a 5' pile of snow do not seem to have survived but the ones less precariously sited are OK. It looks like something dug up the mountain bluet and ate it (I have a hunch who that was), and the fleabane seems to be down to a single shoot. Otherwise things look reasonable. the heuchera look like hell, but they were not doing all that well last year anyway so I will be putting something else there. I thought my pulmonaria would be big enough to divide, but it looks like it barely made it through the winter so no joy there.  On the other hand, the solomon's seal is apparently about to take over the earth.

Winter Damaged Dock Bournes Pond
Two of the (expensive) thuja near the road have some pretty significant winter damage and one less but noticeable damage. I think the spray from the road clearing is the culprit, and that can't be helped. The shrubs that spent the winter completely covered with snow seem to have done very well. My yucca is splayed out from the weight and does not look like it will recover. Oh well.

Today I could sit outside weeding without any kind of outerwear. Earlier this week I worked in some compost and planted my cool season crops. So exciting! I am walking the beds every morning again and it seems some things are doubling in size every day. I saw a bumblebee this morning and I am crossing my fingers against a hard frost returning to annoy me. In a few weeks I will try to resurrect the geraniums that have been wintering in the basement in a paper bag. They looked OK last week so I have high hopes.

Pictures are random today - I do still need to take my early spring snaps of the garden, but you'll never miss them as right now it's mostly bare dirt with teeny tiny green things poking up.

Bournes Pond

Friday, April 10, 2015

April Field Trip

We've been taking advantage of Shana's evening work schedule to fit in some daytime field trips. This week we took a little shopping trip to South Shore Plaza, the first time I have been to an actual mall in Massachusetts since we moved here. I don't count Cape Cod Mall, which is a bit on the pitiful side with smaller versions of national chain stores (plus I seldom go there except to duck into Barnes & Noble for magazines). We went into Nordstrom to be tempted by fine fragrances and fancy shmancy jeans. We also had lunch and an afternoon coffee there before returning home. Pretty heady stuff, Yes, I did buy some fragrance and some fancy shmancy jeans (which they did not have in my size and which were delivered to my home today on a hanger with no shipping charge). I must say I saw a lot of pretty things in Nordstrom and elsewhere in the mall, but we stuck to our plan so the damage would not be too bad. I can see how ruinous improved access could be, in spite of the fact that I have fairly simple clothing requirements. Cape Cod is very casual, and what I need most in the world is a plain swimsuit that will not fall off in the waves and a couple of pair of quick dry panties to wear when kayaking. REI is pretty much my kind of store these days.

Yesterday we were off Cape for an appointment, and since we would be near New Bedford and its Whaling Museum we drove over to see it. We had lunch at Destination Soups, which I can thoroughly recommend. The soups were delicious and fresh; the prices were great. They probably don't need my recommendation because they were super busy the whole time we were there. We went to the New Bedford Whaling Museum after lunch. We really enjoyed it - very educational with loads of old equipment and photos and detailed exhibits, including several whale skeletons and a half scale model of a whaling ship. There was a lot of information about whales, whaling, and the men who worked in the industry. I've read Moby Dick twice, plus watched  films based on the work which let me come to the museum a little bit informed about the process, but seeing the photos and the actual equipment have me a much better idea of what it must have been like. It was sobering to think that those hard laboring men were contemporaries of the "summer cottages" built in Newport in the Gilded Age (or should I say "First Gilded Age"?). The museum also has a terrific section of scrimshaw artifacts and a couple of rooms devoted to contemporary whaling themed art. I was fascinated by a display of ceramic whales by Cynthia Consentino called "Whale Story which demonstrated the uses and fanciful stories about whales There were also loads of nautical themed paintings all over the building. We were really lucky: because there was a bit on construction going on in the building and one exhibit room was not open we got in for half price! It was probably our good fortune that we did not have any time to visit the gift shop or explore New Bedford at any length.

On we went to Fall River (birthplace of Emeril Lagasse). In addition to our appointment we had a chance to drive by Battleship Cove, which we will be visiting later this summer. I was glad to get a chance to scope out the parking and restaurant situation there in advance of our visit. It was more important than it seems - apparently some portion of the highway system in Fall River is always being torn up, so I wanted to get an idea of how to get there. Every time I have been there we have taken some kind of wrong turn.