Saturday, May 22, 2010

I've Been Busy...

May 22 already, I've missed you all!  Spring has totally sprung and summer now appears to be possible. I was beginning to wonder about that with the many frosty nights we had in the last 2 weeks.

Update: the robins have hatched! Ugly--a look only a mother could love! The nest is tilted and falling apart. Hopefully they will fledge before the demise of their home. I will try for another update later, though the pictures depend on my petsitting jobs there.

I've spent many days filling my huge flowerpots with dirt, mixing the dirt with compost and peatmoss and planting annuals, perennials and seeds. I'm still looking for the perfect shrub for the biggest pot. I'm leaning toward hydrangea, though a compact blueberry bush has come to my attention. Soon there will be Sweet peas growing up trellises against the wall. I will eventually add sweet potato vines and other pretties as the pansies fade and get leggy. I found that the volunteer pansies that came up in the mulch are much more compact and flowerful! I will try to save more seeds this year and start them myself.

I've cleaned up my porch and assembled a round glass-top table for dining. I've been working on my "screenporch" which is part of my workshop with a loading dock garage door that I've screened off. The retaining wall perennial garden is taking care of itself with a little water, when I get a chance. Lots more to do, and nothing is very photogenic yet! Today is dump day. So much trash to pay to get rid of!

Speaking of trash, yesterday, driving through a neighboring town, I saw a free sign and found a lovely pile of junque on the side of the road. I was careful and didn't take it all, but look what I got! Does anyone know what that bottle-type thingy is? I love old tools that have been mended and used. The small piece of wood will be a sweet backing for an art piece, and the larger one may be the top of a crate table on the porch...

Well, I'm off to a memorial picnic for my friend Trisha's Uncle Ray. He was a bluegrass musician, and all the musicians will be there to perform. It promises to be a lovely day with lots of music, friends and good food, a fine tribute to Ray.

Linking up to Linda at Coastal Charm.  Stop by and see her great blog-great stuff!
Enjoy the weekend!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Stoic Little Robin

Home at last! I've missed my computer and checking in with all my blogger friends. I tried it on dial-up where I was staying, but that was impossible. So now it may take me a few evenings to catch up with you all. I can't wait to see what I've missed! Thank you for all your beautiful comments and support--it means so much to me.

The colonial style house where I've been petsitting has a beautiful door with a shock of corn hanging on it. Very New England. One morning on my way out I spotted some dried grass on the step. Looking up I found the beginnings of a bird's nest in the husks of the corn. I stopped using that door and the nest progressed over a couple of days. I looked every day but never saw the builder.  After a couple of weeks, I looked all around. No bird in sight. I reached my camera up and snapped this picture:

Look at that blue! So intense, that blue--she had to be a robin. We had a few hot days around that time and I still never saw her around. Then it started to get cool again. One evening as I came home she was sitting on the nest. She never moved. The glare of the headlights didn't faze her. I drove into the garage and moved slowly, so not to scare her.

The next morning there she was. I walked around the car, got my camera out and took some pictures. Shutting car doors and driving out of the garage didn't move her. Over the next week she was sitting on those eggs every time I looked. Stoic little robin!

The homeowner is awestruck--she considers it a true blessing. I'll be back there in a couple of weeks. Maybe there will be 3 little squeakers then! I'll let you know how it turns out.

I had Mom and her sister and my niece over for lunch on Mothers' Day. Fresh pea soup with goat yogurt, local asparagus, sauteed ginger shrimp and a nice green salad. A lovely light lunch for the ladies. Knowing that at least one brother would show up, I got a loaf of bread and some goat cheese (a few of us are lactose intolerant). I ended up with all 3 brothers and a nephew-8 people in all. We finished the meal with Trader Joe's Sweet 16, a dessert tray of 16 little treats topped with whipped organic heavy cream and lemon curd. (Yes, I did have some whipped cream!) A nice meal, good stories and gifts. A happy Mother's Day.

Driving Mom home later, we noticed that the ladyslippers were in bloom! They usually bloom on Memorial day or thereabouts--this year they are 3 weeks early--and it was cold that day!

Ladyslippers always remind me of Dad. In July of 2004 he passed away after many strokes and illnesses.  We had had to place him in a nursing home for his last 18 months. He had lost much of his speech and memory by the end. He and Mom had agreed that when he died, we would scatter his ashes in the ladyslippers.

The following year we had a Memorial Day service for Dad and his brother Jake who had passed away 6 months later.  That day we all went to Mom's and got the ashes and walked around the yard and into the woods to all the ladyslippers.  We told stories about Dad as we walked through the woods, each of us, including Dad's grandkids, taking handfuls of ashes and sprinkling them everywhere we saw the flowers. Richard finished by leaving a few ashes next door at the farm where Dad was born and grew up, and some in the brook that runs through the woods.

Ladyslippers are orchids and they require very specific growing conditions. I worried that all those ashes might upset the balance and damage the plants.  But Lo! The next year, there were more ladyslippers than ever.  It seems that every year there are more and more. Dad wasn't a great gardener in life, but now he's showing us!

This Spring everything has bloomed 3 weeks early. It was a remarkably beautiful, lush, blossomy Spring. All I can think of is "stoic little flowers!" We all got excited and planted flowers and seeds. Now we are having a cold snap with heavy winds. Who knows what next week will bring. I'm hoping for calm winds and warm days so I can get out in my kayak.  Dreaming on...

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Woman in White

"Are you leaving?" asked the old man. Yes, she said and finished her outdoor routine. She picked up her camera and whooshed out, screen door slamming behind her. The old man blinked a few times and looked around the room. More green, he thought. More green. One wall was covered with 4x6 photos, the other walls each contained one large print-more green.

She walked briskly up the road, camera at the ready. Covered neck to toe in white and wearing a big navy blue flat-brimmed nylon hat and a reflective vest, she made her way slowly north, bending over and looking through the close-up lens. What she could see there! The patterns and the details! Triliums, trout lilies, dandelions, wild strawberries. Horsetail, crabgrass, buttercups and daisies! The side of the road never ceased to amaze and awe her...I catch a glimpse of her facial profile in the rearview mirror as she straightens up. She could be young or not. Long dark hair and dark glasses conceal eyes. Look up, I want to say--new leaves, blossoms! Birds, clouds! Look up!

You may wonder where this came from...real life and a story. I usually make up stories about the pictures I use in my art. Now I realize that I am making up stories about real life in the present. That's a good thing, right? On my petsit drives back and forth on Ashfield Road, I see her. Almost every day, bent over her close-up lens, never acknowledging a car or nodding to anyone, she examines the ditches and banks on the side of the road.

Who is she? Does she live alone or have a family? Does she live in the little cabins by the Mill River? Is she someone who has been here forever, or a former city person who just recently discovered nature? Her seeming reluctance to acknowledge puts me off. I don't want to break into her solitude. What might I find if I did?

Like bees in a hive, we are all interconnected. Some of us reach out and others look within. Life would be wonderful if we all embraced each other with a smile or a nod. But as my Uncle Mike used to say, "it takes all kinds!" Meanwhile I'm waiting to hear about an art show--subject: the side of the road.