Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Farm and Garden Report - April 30

Gosh, it has been a long time since I've done a farm and garden report. The end of April is a great time around here. I know many of you have had warm weather and blooms for ages, but this is the real beginning for us here at Windy Poplars. The grass is greening. The bloodroot has blossomed, as have the daffodils planted so long ago under what was then a fir balsam tree. It has since been cut down and lilacs planted there, on the corner of the parking area, and those few daffs are still there with their cheerful burst of yellow. 

Esther the goat who never met a fence that could stop her.

There has been no color here since October. You may know how I love late fall and winter with their tones of gray and brown, but by now I am READY for color! The little scilla at the top of the blog have been out for a few days now. They grow in the grass next to one of the raised beds.

The main area of daffodils is up with a hint of the flowers to come. 

The little grape hyacinths, which share a garden with garlic are up. 

The chive plants are doing great, and it's a treat to be eating them again.

Last fall, we planted six peony plants in the vegetable garden beds. 

This one is called Nancy Nora. (how could I resist?)

We've dug out most of the orange day lilies from the front patio garden. They looked great but after they bloom, there is nothing there but cut down day lilies, so I wanted to diversify that garden a bit and extend the season. Much of my gardening is of the 'rob Peter to pay Paul' type. We took plants from other areas and planted them there - some bearded iris, different color day lilies, aquilegia. 

We've started some flower seeds under the lights and will put some of them there in a few weeks; stock, more aquilegia, and lavatera. I may put the parsley and basil seedlings there too. 

I don't know if I've mentioned that Tom retires in June, which means more time and less money. So, what better thing to do than to grow more of what we eat. We started many tomato plants: Martha Washington, Matt's Wild Cherry, and Peacevine, and sweet peppers for the first time in ages. The seeds we planted King of the North and Sweet Sunrise are supposed to turn red and orange in my climate, so fingers crossed. 

We also have a lot of onion and leek seedlings ready to go out in the garden. They've been sitting on the bench for a few days to harden off. 

Lots of lettuce is also ready. My new favorite is a variety called Pirat. I'm not a fan of the newish, sometimes sharp tasting greens. I like big green leafy lettuce, and Pirat suits just fine. 

When it warms up we'll plant the Garden Oasis cucumber and Zephyr summer squash. The French Gold pole beans have been such a success, I think we'll always plant them. We missed sweet peas last year, so have packets of April in Paris and Mary Lou Heard. The spinach, Renegade, and peas, Green Arrow will go in now the soil has warmed up. And the corn will be planted at the end of next month. The Sugar Pearl white corn has been delicious and successful for a couple years now. I've got a packet of Rainbow mixture carrots. I love all the new colors. Last year's seeds didn't come up, so I hope these will grow. 

With our adding of more vegetables, we must increase our raised beds, so Tom is going to build four more out in the area past the garden. And the other day I looked out and he had piled some rocks in a circle and built a fire pit. 

He's already made a fire of last year's cornstalks and hollyhocks. Which brings me to the hollyhock situation. I so loved them last year, but haven't planted any seeds. I think I'll wait a year before planting again. They say that last year's seeds might come up. We'll see.

View from fire pit looking back at the house.

Here is the list of what we started under the lights:

In mid-March, planted in 2 small flats/40 cells per flat:

40 cells Cortland F1 Hybrid onions (High Mowing) and 40 cells Baby Primor Leeks (Renees) 

On April 14, planted in 3 medium flats/28 cells per flat:

12 cells King of the North sweet peppers (High Mowing)
7 cells Sweet Sunrise sweet peppers (Johnny's)
5 cells Martha Washington tomatoes (Johnny's)
2 cells Matt's Wild Cherry tomatoes (High Mowing)
2 cells Peacevine tomatoes (High Mowing)

8 cells Large Leaf Italian basil (High Mowing)
8 cells Giant Italian parsley (High Mowing)
6 cells Granny's Nightcap aquilegia (Hart - bought at Aubuchons in 2012)
3 cells Beauty of Nice stock (John Scheeper's Kitchen Garden)
3 cells Ruby Regis lavatera (John Scheeper's Kitchen Garden)

4 cells catnip (John Scheeper's Kitchen Garden)
24 cells Pirat lettuce (High Mowing)

We moved the grow lights out of the butt'ry area of the kitchen to the adjoining laundry room. When we plant the lettuce outside, we'll start new seeds under the lights, and keep doing that all summer. I love lettuce, and as you may know, eat it plain like a rabbit.

Soon it will be time to mow. We've got a rider mower that Tom uses and a new, but old-fashioned push mower for the small areas of lawn. One of the summer projects is to restore this sidewalk.

Years ago, we put in small stones for a gravel path, but they were uncomfortable to walk on, weeds and grass grew up, and it ended up looking awful. We have some leftover pavers from the patio, and plan to make a new sidewalk. Eventually the area right outside the kitchen door will become another patio, but that's a project for another time, and just as well says Sadie, since this is one of her favorite napping places.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

April reading

As happens occasionally in my reading life, I'll start a book with high hopes, read along happily, and then say 'so what?' and quit. And I'm not talking about the Nancy Pearl 'your age minus fifty pages and then quit' either. This month I read over half of a book before returning it to the digital state library. And I read along in a 'chunkster' for a while before quitting it as well. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Here is April's list:

25. The First Rule of Ten - book 1 in the Tenzing Norbu series
by Gay Hendricks and Tinker Lindsay
mystery, 2012
Kindle book
finished 4/24/13

24. Getting Old Is A Disaster - book 5 in the Gladdy Gold series
by Rita Lakin
mystery, 2008
Kindle book
library book
finished 4/7/13

23. Getting Old Is To Die For - book 4 in the Gladdy Gold series
by Rita Lakin
mystery, 2007
Kindle book
library book
finished 4/3/13

I lived happily within the pages of the Gladdy Gold books, but… there was this little nudging dissatisfaction that I recognized and pushed aside. In an earlier book in the series, Gladdy meets Jack, a widower of her age; a former cop and the father of the local policeman. They get along well, and their relationship flourishes. But then in each further book, there is some obstacle to their relationship, and in this reader's opinion, that obstacle is Jack himself. I thought him rude, unforthcoming, easily annoyed with Gladdy's friends and Gladdy's sense of responsibility and love toward them. It was like he wanted her all to himself. I found him unreasonable and unkind, and I didn't like the way Gladdy kept caring for him. But I kept on reading, thinking that surely the situation would resolve itself, and he would take the higher ground. Nope. In this one I got so annoyed at the way he couldn't say no to requests for help from an old girlfriend that I just said, 'enough. I'm done.' Too bad. In a way, the books would have been more realistic without the introduction of romance. We all know there are way fewer older men than women. And these women are good for each other, and each have something to offer in the private investigating team. Oh, well. No big deal. There are plenty of books to read, and I did like the series for a while.

As for Tenzing Norbu, well, he is an interesting character. 'Ten' as he is called, grew up in a Tibetan monastery in India but chafed against it all through his childhood. Though he believes in Buddhism, and practices his beliefs, he always wanted to be a detective, like his idol Sherlock Holmes. He has been a policeman for many years, but after a shooting incident he decides to quit and pursue his dream of being a PI. He lives in a wonderful sounding house in Topanga Canyon in California with his eighteen-pound cat, Tank. It is a small, uncluttered place in which he has a meditation room. His breathing, his meditations, his Buddhism are who he is though he was a good cop and is a good detective. You might think his 'self' and his job are mutually exclusive, but not at all. The one nurtures and nourishes the other. We get insight into his mother and his father, and see how each of them has influenced who he is today. I'm reading the second in the series now, and am so enjoying it. Though I had not heard of Gay Hendricks before, he is very well-known in his field. You may read more about him here.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Today's song/We're Not the Jet Set - Tammy Wynette and George Jones

Tammy Wynette (1942-1998)
George Jones (1931-2013)

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Today's song/The Mandolin Man and His Secret - Donovan

After this sad, worrisome, long week, I find that Donovan's voice brings a soothing calm to my spirit. It comes from one of my most cherished albums.

He came into town with his mandolin
Calling all the people and they came to him
He said I want to hear all that's pretty
He said I want to hear all that's nice

They laughed at him with his mandolin
They left him there with his funny grin
He said I want to hear all that's pretty
He said I want to hear all that's nice

The children of the town then came to him
Magically called with his mandolin
He said I want to hear all that's pretty
He said I want to hear all that's nice

They smiled at him with his mandolin
Their eyes like his were sparkling
He said I want to hear all that's pretty
He said I want to hear all that's nice

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Today's poem by William Butler Yeats

When You Are Old

When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;

And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.

William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)
published 1892

Years ago I went into a below ground restaurant that always had a line of people waiting to get a table. On a little ledge beside the stairs there were books that one could read to pass the time. I picked up Yeats' poetry, and came upon this poem.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Quote du jour/Dennis Lehane

It’s hard to imagine any people more inspiring than all those people who dashed across Boylston Street within seconds of the first explosion, and rushed to the aid of the injured. Didn’t give their own safety a thought. Made me proud to be a member of the human race, which I think was the exact opposite of the effect the bomber was hoping for. ...
So proud to be a Bostonian tonight. So brokenhearted to be one, too.
Dennis Lehane on his Facebook page, April 15, 2013

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Quote du jour/Mark Twain

In the spring I have counted one hundred and thirty-six different kinds of weather inside of four and twenty hours. 
  Mark Twain (1835-1910)

Ain't it the truth?! These photos were taken the other day. I thought the icicles quite beautiful. We don't have the snow on the ground anymore but today there has been snow in the air, drizzly rain, and moments of sunshine.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Today's poem by Robert Service


An ancient gaffer once I knew,
Who puffed a pipe and tossed a tankard;
He claimed a hundred years and two,
And for a dozen more he hankered;
So o’er a pint I asked how he
Had kept his timbers tight together;
He grinned and answered: “It maun be
Because I likes all kinds o’ weather.

“For every morn when I get up
I lights my clay pipe wi’ a cinder,
And as me mug o’ tea I sup
I looks from out the cottage winder;
And if it’s shade or if it’s shine
Or wind or snow befit to freeze me,
I always say: ‘Well, now that’s fine . . .
It’s just the sort o’ day to please me.’

“For I have found it wise in life
To take the luck the way it’s coming;
A wake, a worry or a wife -
Just carry on and keep a-humming.
And so I lights me pipe o’ clay,
And though the morn on blizzard borders,
I chuckle in me guts and say:
‘It’s just the day the doctor orders.’ ”

A mighty good philosophy
Thought I, and leads to longer living,
To make the best of things that be,
And take the weather of God’s giving;
So though the sky be ashen grey,
And winds be edged and sleet be slanting,
Heap faggots on the fire and say:
“It’s just the kind of day I’m wanting.”

Robert Service (1874-1958)

When Tom's father died, we inherited one of his bookcases, as well as any of his books we wanted. We chose mysteries, nonfiction, and poetry, including a book of Robert Service's poems. As I was thumbing through this morning, I was taken with this one, whose words seem to echo those of Roger Ebert in yesterday's quote du jour. 

The bottom shelf contains Tom's father's books.

 Can you see the coffee stains? Was he reading the poems as he drank his coffee, and then put the cup down on the book? This is why I love books that belonged to someone before me.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Quote du jour/Roger Ebert

You play the cards you're dealt. What's your choice? I have no pain, I enjoy life, and why should I complain?
Roger Ebert
(June 18, 1942 - April 4, 2013)

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Quote du jour/Edward Giobbi

I think that no matter how old or infirm I may become, I will always plant a large garden in the spring. Who can resist the feelings of hope and joy that one gets from participating in nature's rebirth?
Edward Giobbi

Monday, April 1, 2013

Book Notes on Four Months of Reading

In the time I wasn't writing the blog, I still kept a list of the books I read in an email folder, though I jotted down some notes only about the January books. In the time since, I've found that I really like to have something in writing about the books I've read. Otherwise it is easy to forget just what I felt about them.

March - 8

22. Getting Old Is Criminal - book 3 in the Gladdy Gold series
by Rita Lakin
mystery, 2007
Kindle book
library book
finished 3/31/13

21. Getting Old Is The Best Revenge - book 2 in the Gladdy Gold series
by Rita Lakin
mystery, 2006
Kindle book
library book
finished 3/28/13

20. Getting Old Is Murder - book 1 in the Gladdy Gold series
by Rita Lakin
mystery, 2005
Kindle book
library book
finished 3/26/13

My newest cozy mystery love. These books are so good. The author herself is older, so knows whereof she writes. And she's an excellent writer, with a long list of television writing credits to her name. More here. Gladdy Gold lives in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and along with her pals investigates deaths of older people. These deaths were assumed to be 'natural' because the victims were old. Not so. Snappy dialogue, good characters, inspirational and encouraging about people in their 70s, 80s, and 90s. 

19. 97 Orchard
An Edible History of Five Immigrant Families in One New York Tenement
by Jane Ziegelman
nonfiction, 2010
Kindle book
library book
finished 3/23/13

Such an interesting idea. The building is now the site of The Lower East Side Tenement Museum. I learned so much about the different nationalities who came to America in earlier days. Fascinating. Not a bit dry. The author brought the times and the people alive to me. Loved it. You can tour the museum online

18. Death of a Cozy Writer - book 1 in the St. Just series
by G.M. Malliet
mystery, 2008
Kindle book
library book
finished 3/17/13

I tried Malliet's Wicked Autumn, and couldn't get into it. But this one, a different series, was most appealing. I thoroughly enjoyed myself, and plan to read the next ones.

Update: I tried the second in the series in May - Death and the Lit Chick, and couldn't get past the first few pages. Didn't like it at all.

17. Moon Over Manifest
by Clare Vanderpool
middle grade fiction, 2010
Kindle book
library book
finished 3/13/13

Have you heard of this Newbery winner? It is such a good story of an earlier time in US history. It is a book that goes back and forth between two periods, which I always love. More here.

16. Harry Lipkin, Private Eye
by Barry Fantoni
mystery 2012
Kindle book
library book
finished 3/8/13

I hope the author writes more about this older Floridian. He's a great character. I just read a very good review at Marys Library. Time was I would have thought it impossible for an 87 year old to have such a vibrant, full, interesting job and life, but now I know people in their 80s who are just like him. Bright, aware of and involved in current events, great readers, who have a social life much busier than my own.

15. Strong Poison
by Dorothy L. Sayers
mystery 1930
finished 3/1/13

How have I lived my life without ever reading or watching the Harriet Vane books in the Peter Wimsey series? There are beautiful new editions of the four books, and I'm buying them all! This was a slow, quiet book with such good writing. Oh, how I loved it. Then I watched the televised version with Edward Petherbridge as Wimsey and Harriet Walter as Harriet Vane. As perfect an adaptation as I've ever seen.

February - 3

14. Cabin: Two Brothers, A Dream, and Five Acres in Maine
by Lou Ureneck
nonfiction, 2011
Kindle book
library book
finished 2/18/13

Really enjoyed this book. I think he originally had a blog (gone now), and then wrote the book. Lots of interesting information about the natural world, and the process of building a house. More here.

I am amazed as I think about the fact that I read three non-fiction books set in Maine in three months without any plan whatsoever. They came available through the state's downloadable books, and I read them. Each different from the other.

13. Dear Enemy
by Jean Webster
fiction, 1915
Kindle book
finished 2/14/13

12. Daddy-Long-Legs
by Jean Webster
fiction, 1912
Kindle book
finished 2/10/13

Dear Enemy is a sequel to Daddy-Long-Legs. Both epistolary novels, though with different letter writers. I was so interested reading about life 100 years ago. When I was a girl I read about Jane Addams and Hull House. I was so impressed by it that I can still remember where the book was in my library. These books are set during that same Progressive Era in the US. Loved, loved, loved these books. I couldn't stop talking about them. They make one feel that all good things are possible.

January - 11

11. The Pigeon Pie Mystery
by Julia Stuart
fiction, 2012
Kindle book
library book
finished 1/30/13

Very unusual, in a good way. Some might say quirky. But I did enjoy it. Though the title says 'mystery' it is really a fiction book with a mystery inside. Fascinating idea that the King or Queen of England used to give apartments to people at Hampton Court.

10. The Story of Charlotte's Web
by Michael Sims
nonfiction, 2011
finished 1/30/13

As kindly a book as EB White himself. I love Charlotte's Web, and I loved reading about Mr. White, 'Andy.' The title is a tiny bit misleading since Charlotte's Web isn't really discussed until later in the book, but I am drawn to anything connected with the man so the whole book was fine for me.

9. The Man in the Brown Suit
by Agatha Christie
mystery, 1924
Kindle book
finished 1/21/13

Very early Agatha, and I so liked it. I love her spunky heroines. Romance and adventure. Great fun.

8. Why Didn't They Ask Evans?
by Agatha Christie
mystery, 1934
Kindle book
finished 1/19/13

One of my favorite Agatha books so far. And such a good title.

7. Miss Buncle's Book - book 1 in the Miss Buncle series
by D.E. Stevenson
fiction, 1934
reread (first read 2005)
Kindle book
library book
finished 1/17/13

Loved this, as I did the first time I read it. Miss B. writes a thinly disguised book about her own village. Great story. I so enjoy Stevenson's work.

6. Night Rounds - book 2 in the Inspector Irene Huss series
by Helene Tursten
mystery, 1999
English translation by Laura A. Wideburg 2012
library book (ILL)
finished 1/16/13

I do wish that Scandinavian and Icelandic publishers would get it together and bring the series books out in order. Story was okay. I'm not a fan of ghosts so didn't really enjoy that facet of the book. I'm not sure I'll read more of this author. Liked the first book, and the second one a tiny bit less only because it was quite grisly. Third I tried and couldn't go on because of subject matter.

5. Sad Cypress - an Hercule Poirot mystery
by Agatha Christie
mystery, 1940
Kindle book
finished 1/14/13

I had started this before and put it down thinking it was too dark, but this time I stayed with it, and it really wasn't. Another unique story from Agatha. Very interesting.

4. The Limpopo Academy of Private Detection - book 13 in the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series
by Alexander McCall Smith
fiction, 2012
Kindle book
library book
finished 1/9/13

I am so happy in the company of Mma Ramotse et al. In this book, the author of Precious' guidebook for her work comes to Botswana. He is surprised at the esteem she feels for his book. Excellent, as always.

3. When We Were the Kennedys: a memoir from Mexico, Maine
by Monica Wood
nonfiction, 2012
Kindle book
library book
finished 1/5/13

This is a book I really loved. Beautifully written, honest story, has some similarities to Rick Bragg's The Most They Ever Had which I wrote about three years ago. It tells of a mill town, and a family trying to make it after the bread-winning father dies. More here. It is written about a time when there weren't very many families lacking one parent. I can't praise it highly enough. Wonderful.

2. An Impartial Witness - book 2 in the Bess Crawford series
by Charles Todd
mystery, 2010
Kindle book
library book
finished 1/4/13

I liked this as I did the first in the series. But there's something lacking and I can't put my finger on what it is. I skipped the third because the setting was too gloomy. May read fourth. May not.

1. A Box of Matches
by Nicholson Baker
fiction, 2003
finished 1/1/13

Very so so, yet I finished it. Odd book. I think men might like it more than women. Don't think I'll read any more of his work.

December - 11

73. Elsewhere
by Richard Russo
nonfiction, 2012
Kindle book
library book
finished 12/27/12

I did finish this book, which says I didn't dislike it entirely, but I wasn't all that fond of it either. Sad story of a mother with mental issues which weren't recognized as such, or understood, in the time of author's childhood. I felt that attending to his mother took precedence over his wife and children. Not an easy book.

72,  Murder in the Calais Coach (US title for Murder on the Orient Express)
by Agatha Christie
mystery, 1934
finished 12/26/12

I have somehow managed to live all these years not knowing the plot of this most famous mystery, and I found it fascinating. Really enjoyed this book.

71. Curse of the Pogo Stick - book 5 in the Siri Paiboun series
by Colin Cotterill
mystery, 2008
Kindle book
library book
finished 12/26/12

This might be my favorite in the series with its focus on the Hmong people. Began the next one, but was didn't like it enough to finish. Tried the one after that, and somehow just felt I had spent enough time there. Might go back to the series someday.

70. A Duty to the Dead - book 1 in the Bess Crawford series
by Charles Todd
mystery, 2009
Kindle book
library book
finished 12/21/12

I liked this, though it has a tone, a feeling about it that didn't draw me in.

69. The Four-Pools Mystery
by Jean Webster
mystery, 1907
Kindle book
finished 12/16/12

Very interesting portrayal of life in the south after the Civil War. When I was a girl, forty years after an event seemed like forever, but now forty years ago is no time at all.

68. Anarchy and Old Dogs - book 4 in the Siri Paiboun series
by Colin Cotterill
mystery, 2007
Kindle book
library book
finished 12/12/12

Old dogs, as in 'you can't teach an old dog new tricks.' Siri is in his seventies, and lives in a Laos that isn't what he hoped for in his younger days. It is sure not a place and time I'd like to live in. Very good book.
67. A Lesson in Secrets - book 8 in the Maisie Dobbs series
by Jacqueline Winspear
mystery, 2011
finished 12/11/12

I loved this book. Maisie goes undercover in a college. Gives good sense of political climate of the time.

66. Disappeared
by Anthony Quinn
mystery, 2012
Kindle book
finished 12/8/12

I really liked this first mystery set in Northern Ireland. This is a part of the world, I like learning about. On my father's side, I'm of Scots-Irish lineage. You may read more at the author's website. I'm hoping there will be a series.

65. Miss Lady Bird's Wildflowers
by Kathi Appelt
illustrated by Joy Fisher Hein
children's book, 2005
finished 12/5/12

Wrote about this here.

64. Disco for the Departed - book 3 in the Siri Paiboun series
by Colin Cotterill
mystery, 2006
Kindle book
library book
finished 12/4/12

I do like the 'other-worldly' elements to these books. The idea of dead people meeting and dancing is quite wonderful.

63. Outsider in Amsterdam - book 1 in the Amsterdam Cops series
by Janwillem van de Wetering
mystery, 1975
library book
finished 12/1/12

Not like any mystery I've read before. Gives good sense of mid-seventies life. I like the detectives, and want to read more.