Saturday, March 30, 2013

Happy Easter Everyone

Such a rush when Easter is this early.  So little time to sell all the lilies.  We are running out of everything at work.  Which is good.  But is also stressful.  The churches have all picked up their large floral orders.  So gorgeous in masses like that.  Easter services will certainly be lovely.

I have a 9 pound half ham (one of the sale ones), a baked ham recipe to try, some asparagus and sweet potatoes to roast and strawberries for dessert.  I have frozen rhubarb and will thaw it out to make a nice rhubarb custard pie for G.  Spring equals rhubarb in my book. Oh, and I have to work all day on Easter, so G will be in charge of the meal (with detailed instructions).  I will do most of the prep work today (the pie and sweet potatoes).

G is loading up the truck and we are heading over to the daughter's house to install the cupboards in her kitchen.  The ones that were over the desk area in my kitchen in January.  G is not allowed to go over there without me supervising.  Actually, I am there to make sure the two of them (peas in a pod) don't butt heads and start fighting.  G will fight and S will sulk.  It's never a good thing.  What I had wanted to do on this day off, was get started on the taxes.  It will have to wait.

G is learning so much as a volunteer for Habitat for Humanity.  He has helped insulate the basement in a very old house for the past two weeks (just two days each week) and has met some nice men his age. some of what he learned can be used to insulate the basement of our daughter's very old house (and ours).  With heating oil going up and up--we need to reduce usage as much as possible.  There is little possibility of natural gas lines coming anywhere near us--but it's possible for our daughter.  Which would be wonderful for her.

A coworker gave me six beautiful organic, free range eggs from her chickens.  I forgot them at work.  They are pale blue and pale pink.  Pretty eggs.  But she assured me they will still be wonderful when I take them home with me tomorrow.  They are in the fridge at work.

The clouds have appeared outside so time to bring in the plants that got to enjoy some Spring sunshine out on the deck. I also filled the birdbath.  Riley had quite a few dogs to run with on his walk today--so he will nap while we install cabinets.  I have to check for catalogs-- Riley has taken up catalog chewing in his free time.   Best Wishes to all of you.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Tired But Still Ticking

The four day Open House weekend (Friday thru Monday) was just enough, though at times it seemed like way too much, to reset my body from furlough to active work.  Saturday evening I felt like every bone and muscle was in serious need of medication.  And I needed sleep.  By Sunday evening I was good. Monday at work (taking the whole display apart) was excellent.  The response, by customers, to the Open House was great.  A good way to begin.

The picture above is of a lovely "Cameo" quince.  It was the star (IMHO) of the forced flower show type display at our store.  I managed the highest bid and it's mine.  On Friday the buds were tight little ovals. And each day the flowers opened a bit more.  G loves this peachy orange color--in his roses and all other flowers, but thankfully, not in his women.  This is the sort of plant you put near the doorway you use the most.  So you can admire it each and every time you come and go.

I have a much needed lunch date with a good friend this afternoon.  She made the time "late" to give me some "sleep in" time.  I was up by 8:30.  Late by work standards as I have been getting up at 6 am. We are going to talk and laugh I hope.  I know we will smile.

I think you will be interested to know that my "smiling" habit of the winter furlough had amazing results with customers in the last four days.  Amazing.  I smile at them and they smile at me and we are both filled with happiness.  It's really quite joy filled.  Now, I need to try forced, fake laughing.  To see if that generates the "real" thing.  I miss laughter. I even found myself dancing to the canned music while I watered plants. So NOT me.  Or perhaps it IS so ME and I just never knew it was?

Life is just so amazing right now.

I wish I could say my seedlings were amazing but they seem to have stopped growing.  Or else this is that awkward period when they make roots and nothing grows up top.  Time will tell.  I need to start more flower seeds.  More zinnia.  Some nasturtiums.  My boxes on the deck are going to be centered with big yellow bushes of daisies.  I bought two small ones and plan to pinch and pinch until they are the size of basketballs.  Then plant them outside where they will get even larger.  We sprayed the indoor citrus today as they had some spider mites.  I need to repot all of them with a new soil mixture.  Half bark (orchid stuff) and half soil.  So they drain better.  Perhaps on Thursday or Saturday.  I have both off this week.

I have to begin working on my next "outside" speaking engagement.  Container Gardening.  April 26th.  The big gardening group in my Town--the annual meeting.  A Really Big Deal.  For me.

I'm really glad I never made a list of things to do this winter.  Remember I made a list of things I would NOT do.  At least I don't have all that guilt riding along with me as we enter Spring.

And we made it through the first three months of G being retired.  Woo Hoo.  I was talking to the  retired couple who so generously gifted me with their maple leaves in the Fall.  They said that once you get past the oil bills (for heating) everything works out just fine the rest of the year.  I guess they forgot taxes and April 15th.  I have my tax program loaded into the computer and the operating system was upgraded.  Sigh.  The next big thing to get past.  It actually takes only 2 hours.  Why do I put it off????

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Winter Walks With Riley

G is certainly getting his exercise this Winter.  Long walks are one thing.  Long walks trudging through wet clumpy snow is another.  And the more that we walk on it the more slippery it gets.  I know.  I was carrying filled 2 gallon watering cans into the annual house (to water the perennials) and with each trip, the snow pack by the doorway was getting slick until finally I slipped and fell.  The only harm was spilling two watering cans.  I had to go refill them.

I have successfully completed two full days back at work.  And it was a VERY good thing to have a day to rest in-between.  But I have Friday to Sunday (open house) in front of me.

I'm going to the grocery as soon as I hit "publish" to buy things for meatloaf.  I have potatoes to mash and carrots to fry (G likes them that way) and there are still enough cookies in the jar for G to have his cookies each evening.  I am trying to remember to make SF jello for myself.  There is also leftover chicken and rice.  I just can't spend time worrying about food.

I sorted my class materials today.  I was actually trying to clean off the dining room table (AGAIN) and use that job as my 30 minutes.  It took far longer (but looks very organized-- my classes that is) and the table is still a mess.  I also sorted shoes (water resistant) that I can wear to work.  And noticed my socks are wearing out.  So I am really going to try mending a sock.  I hate getting rid of a sock that is perfectly good on top and not so good on the heel.  Hey!  I "could" actually turn out to be good at it.

G "treated" me to new shop lights and the new low energy bulbs.  And then lined the growing set up with aluminum foil and it's really bright out there.  My hollyhock seeds now have leaves.  I think 3 pepper seeds germinated.  Four zinnias.  I'm not having wild successes.  The cabbage and escarole did manage to germinate quite a few little seedlings.  I like eating both so that's good news.  My little pea sprout garden box isn't doing anything.  I feel like I should be eating pea shoots in salads already.

And my citrus have spider mites.  So after G and Riley come back from their walk--G will help me take the citrus down and I will spray the leaves with Sevin.  Outside.  The sun is blinding when it hits the snow.  And it's warm.  Warmish.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Not Sitting On The Deck Today

I was hoping the weather reports were wrong.  But it snowed all night and is still snowing.  The only GOOD thing about today, is that I am not scheduled to work.

I have no clear understanding of my employer.  And this is the start of my 6th year.  But I am happy that my first few days at work alternate with days off.  Yesterday was almost more than I could bear. Not only did my back hurt, after lugging, watering and cleaning all the floor foliage plants but--I sprayed the front of my pants with the hose and was sopping wet--looked like I had seriously peed my pants.   Normally, yesterday would have been what I would call an "easy" day.  Not the pants wetting part.

I got home around 5:30 and began prep work for a pot of cauliflower au gratin soup.  Carrot, onion, celery and the head of cauliflower chopped.  Butter.  Saute.  Add 6c broth.  Simmer till veg is tender.  Mix 2 T cornstarch with one cup cream. Stir in along with one can of cheddar cheese soup.  Simmer until thick. I used one can of evaporated milk instead of cream and only 4 cups of broth.  It still wasn't as thick as the Baker's Square au gratin soup G & I remembered and adored.  I may try it next time with a butter and flour roux.  We both had two servings.  So, not complaining.

More of my seedlings are under lights--I had to plug in the second shop light.  Which isn't working very well so G is off to buy a new one.  I also tented the lights with aluminum foil to reflect more light.  I may need to water them--but not until the temps are warmer on the sunporch.  A few of the favorite zinnias from the deck boxes germinated.  I am pretty happy about that.  Following G's advice, as soon as a few pop up I move them under the lights.  Let the others pop up there rather than on the heating mat.

I'm still tired but going to go do my 30 minutes in my workspace.  I also should get some new pictures taken for this blog.  I have been reusing pictures the last few posts.  I am NOT interested in taking any new snow pictures.  I could have taken a lovely picture of the flowering plants reflected in the little pond in our display garden at work (if I had brought the camera to work).  K did another outstanding job with the display.  Later in the week she will add the forced daffodils.  I told her to title it Nana's Zen Garden.  Because it has that sort of feeling as well.  I like it very much.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

New Beginnings

I am thinking that my year actually begins right now.  With Spring.  In March.  This is when I try and start a new habit and move in a new direction.  The past few months I have been analyzing the things I do.  Seeing if they "work" often enough to keep or if I need to change things up.  Freshen things up.

Art Club works.  The 10x10 works.  The Smiling works.  Our retirement is working, a few ruffled feathers this week but, well, that happens.  Netflix works.  Teaching works.  Seed Starting works. One evening for just reading books works.

What isn't working is my diet.  What isn't working is the clutter everywhere in this house, yard and garage.

G and I talked last night about a systematic removal of things we no longer need from the house, attic and garage. (emotional baggage)  I told him I did not want our children to have to deal with our mess after we are gone or in the event of having to move when we are too elderly to do it ourselves.  His workshop is being straightened up but I told him he needs to be honest about what he will and will not be doing in that workshop.  Just as I am headed into my old studio (still have not moved upstairs, completely) where the stuff I may never use is located.  G suggests 30 minutes at first.  It is overwhelming and depressing to see all the stuff you have gathered.  And my studio looks like a disaster area.  Hard to find a space to walk.  So, 30 minutes.

I have also begun writing things on the To Do List of things that need to be done around here (eventually) --mostly outside.  While we were driving back home yesterday I noticed that the farmers had big piles up--for burning.  We need to work on that as well.  I want trellises in my vegetable garden.  G wants big cushy chairs with ottomans on the deck for long naps.  He has forgotten the mosquitos.

WORK TOMORROW!!!  I am getting my work clothes out from under my unemployment clothes (pajamas).  I plan to see if any of it still fits.  Today--not tomorrow morning. I have to wear stuff that dries quickly as I get wet from the knees to my toes nearly everyday from now to December.  And dirty.  I am always dirty.  Cannot WAIT!!!!  And the best part of any work day is getting home and into a very hot shower and then my pajamas.  If I was able--a frosty gin and tonic would be the perfect drink after work.  Perhaps I should think about "being able" to have a G&T.  It's March.  New Beginnings.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

The Promise Of Spring

I taught Pruning today.  At another location that involved a 43 minute car trip from my house.  And one of the people who took the class, loved it so much she asked if she could hug me.  Why, sure! I need a hug just like anyone else does.  The class was a delight and was well accepted even "if I did run a little long" as one front row gentleman mentioned.  So much to tell them.  And I still didn't tell them as much as they needed to know.  I LOVE being a Master Gardener.

And I love having a "driver" who will take me for long 43 minute drives and then come back to get me when I'm done.  I always said that if I won the lottery the one thing I would do "for sure" was hire a driver to take me places I was too scared to go on my own.  Now I have a driver right here at home.  And all he wanted was to stop at our favorite Cafe and have breakfast for lunch.  How could I say no.

The sun is shining but it's windy and chilly outside as the cold is coming from Canada.  I think I notice it more because I am in a warmer weather frame of mind.  My seedlings are under the lights.  I'm waiting for two kinds of peppers and several kinds of flowers to germinate.  The black hollyhocks germinated overnight.  It seemed.  The zinnias are showing no movement.

The two beds near the house and garage are bare of snow cover and tips of daffodils are showing themselves in the muddy soil.  My raised vegetable beds are still white with snow.  Two more amaryllis are about to open their buds.  Another red and what looks like a white.  My violets are starting to flower and the cape primrose is in bloom.  Everything is waking up. But very slowly.

I repotted all my geranium cuttings yesterday (making quite a mess) and trimmed and stuck the trimmings into the dirt for all the overwintered potted geraniums. If they root--great--if not well that's okay as well. They did just fine on the unheated sunporch as did the agapanthus and the Boston fern.

We watched a second night of BBCA episodes of Luther on Netflix.  G is enjoying them.  We have four left and then need to look for the next thing.  It's nice to have 2 or 3 hours of entertainment on evenings when there is nothing to watch on regular television.  And one night we just read our books and don't watch anything.  Daytime watching isn't something we will do unless one of us is sick.  And if we are sick--we should be sleeping.

One more day.  Then back to work.  I have missed it.  It's a great feeling when you love what you do for work.  It hasn't always been that way for me.  So this is much appreciated.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Easter Egg Art

These eggs are similar to the ones I made for the AWCT in the late 1980's with Sharpie markers.  I think the ones I made for the raffle were more of a traditional design but these are still lovely.  I noticed one is cracked.

Last night at Art Club we made eggs in many different ways.  The egg I made has dots from tissue paper glued on the white egg's surface.  This is a blown egg.  To the right is a Pyzanky egg that I made in a class in the late 1970's.  With wax and non-edible dyes. Bottom left is a hand painted Hungarian egg I bought in the Budapest duty free shop before boarding a plane to Frankfurt.  I may make a few more of the dotted tissue paper eggs--just need to buy white eggs and blow them out.   I did one egg with Sharpie markers-- like the ones up top--but all the eggs we had were white.  And the Sharpie designs look best on brown eggs.  The white in the centers was acrylic paint applied with a cut edged toothpick (to give a flat dot).  Some of the others last night tried gluing origami "mashi" paper to eggs and dipping eggs to get a marbled effect.  I did do a Sharpie design but then covered it in beige dotted tissue paper.  I brought home an extra HB egg to eat for lunch.

I have another class to write--Pruning this time and I was finally--finally!-- called back to work.  Monday at 8:30 working until 5 pm.  Now I have to get all my little ducks in a row. Work clothing. Lunches.  Plans for making food when I return home after work so we have something to eat.  Hot showers.  I bought a big tub of Greek yogurt last shopping day--just in case I needed a packed lunch for work.  I have grapefruit to eat with the yogurt.

I didn't take my usual Benedryl last night and was awake nearly all night.  I must have slept off and on without realizing it.  So, I'm tired.  It rained all night and most of the snow that covered everything is pretty packed down.  The garden isn't bare yet.  It's been a good winter for hydration.  I don't think any trees or shrubs died for lack of water.  Our Witch Hazel shrubs are both blooming.  The Forsythia is next.  I have to wait until late May and early June to see if all the many, many tulips I planted come up. If they do--it will be a delightful sight.  And I will have to cover them with chicken wire to keep the deer from eating them all just as the open.

My workplace will be celebrating Spring with the Open House on the 23-24th of this month.  Always a very exciting weekend.  And we'll have a "Garden Show" display in the greenhouse.  They are building the landscape walls as I write.  Most of the plants that were in the Portland display will be in our greenhouse next weekend.  And raffled off in a silent auction.  I try and purchase one or two things each year.  Bidding can be tricky.  It will be so nice to see things in blossom in the greenhouse.  It will be good to be back to work.  Even if it's still cold, wet and cloudy.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Cutest Dog In The World

See how tall he is?  Just makes it under the dining room table.  He is covered in lines of dry slobber. Never notice that until you snap a picture.  Had too much fun on his walk in the woods.

We are trying to get two shop lights working out on the sunporch for the baby seedlings (to come) as right now the one light (that works) is doing a fine job with the leeks and onions.  More onions. Just a few leeks.  The container of red onion seeds fell off the counter as G was swinging the shop light around.  So, I had to restart new seeds.  We'll be 2 weeks behind on the red onions.  Now it looks like neither of the lights is working.  G is not the best with electricity.  Now one light and the circuit breaker  was blown. Now no lights, again.  May have been a good idea to just leave it alone with one light working.

I was digging around in the seed box to see what I could find in the Tomato Department for next month.  No black or purple tomato seeds.  I was reading that the black tomatoes are quite delicious. Anyone had any???

My trip to the library today was delightful.  I got to practice my "smiling" with several people.  One is about my age (younger I think) and was wearing a charming elliptical scarf that she had made out of an old piece of black and white printed rayon.  Really chic.  And she had on leggings in red under a long black tunic (and black tee).  Very Bohemian.  She's a quilt artist.  Turned her garage into a studio. Now I am wondering if I have any printed rayon????  We discussed the "good" colors for women of a certain age (and grey hair) to wear.  We think black, grey, red and I was noticing a rosy geranium color that would sparkle up grey hair.  I always look nice in the palest of pinks.  Icy pink.  It reflects on my skin and gives me a glow.  Or at least I think it does.

The guy I work with on the Book Sale was there and told me I looked "younger than Springtime".  I laughed at him.

I have Art Club tonight and one member is bringing hollow eggs for us to decorate.  I have some polka dot tissue paper and my Sharpie pens.  I'll use the Sharpies if the eggs are brown.  In the way far away past, I made a basket of hand decorated eggs--brown ones-- with a design drawn on the egg in fine point Sharpie and the background filled in with solid black.  I packaged them in a black woven basket with brown straw. Wrapped it all in clear cello gathered at the top in a raffia bow. They were one of the prizes for the American Women's Club of the Taunus March raffle of which I was Activities Chair (and originator of the monthly raffle).  Most popular prize on the table.  And the other prizes were pretty nice.  I remember this because the waiters bought tickets.  They wanted the eggs.  I never had time to make more for myself.  Or I did and gave them away as a gift.  I have one that is cracked a bit and one other that has a big mum on the two sides with white paint in the centers of the buds.  I like it.

Easter was a very big deal in Germany.  Gorgeously decorated eggs.  Baskets.  Rabbits.  Trees made of blooming cherry or forsythia (forced) with a multitude of egg ornaments hanging from pastel ribbons. Bouquets of tulips, daffodils and pussy willows.  And candy.  Excellent chocolates.

Actually, every holiday was special in Germany.  It wasn't about gifts.  It was about creating this lovely time in your home for your family and guests.  And there were always flowers.  In gorgeously arranged bouquets at very reasonable prices.

Monday, March 11, 2013

And This Is The Last Time, Today, That I Try And Post

The plans for the light stand for Diane.  The plan makes a double wide stand (two shop lights) but the directions I sent by email were for a single.  But you can see how it's supposed to go together.  by the way, we found the shopping bag with the elbows, tees and spacers.  Right out there on the sunporch--where it is supposed to be.  Duh!!!!!

Here are my little onions and leeks. They are getting bottom watered and then will return to their very "up close and personal" 16 hours under the shop lights as soon as they are wet enough.  G has the lights hanging in the rather large plant stand he built for me when we lived in Chicago.  It was in the basement there and could take up as much space as it wanted.  Now it's on the sunporch.  That's my snow covered vegetable garden out back, thru the windows.  So, I am not using the PVC stand I showed my customers at work.

I had my 6 month tooth cleaning at the dentist today.  A new guy is buying the practice from the dentist I have been seeing for over 20 years.  The new guy looks younger than my youngest child.  And he had on orange shoes.  Seems nice.  I may grow to like him.  He's not going to do anything to my two problem teeth until they need something done.  I was not anxious to have  "work" done. I tried to find a picture of a tooth for this post but I don't seem to have one.  Must do something about that.

I know some readers hate when I discuss my "diet" but I do have to say something about two recipes  I tried yesterday.  One is called Amazingly Delicious Chicken and it was quite good.  Just mix enough sour cream and grated Italian hard cheese (equal amounts) to cover, sort of thickly, your pieces of chicken, which are laid flat on a parchment covered baking sheet.  Then sprinkle Italian breadcrums or crumbled corn muffins or whatever over the top and bake until golden brown and delicious @ 350 to 400 degrees.  Several recipe author and all different on the temp.  And no time suggested but more than 25 minutes.  Mine took about 45.  Tender and quite delicious.  I drizzled a bit of olive oil over the crumbs to make them brown nicely.  I served the chicken with rice and green peas.  I had mine with a wild greens salad dressed with olive oil and Balsamic vinegar.

The second recipe ( and those who are bored by LCHF can stop reading) was for GF Bread Rolls.  I haven't had ANY bread for over 2 years and this peaked my interest.  I read all the 100's of comments and decided, since I actually had all the ingredients in the house--I would give it a try.  These experiments in GF have always failed.  I wasn't optimistic.  The list of ingredients was VERY strange.  Blanched almond flour (but not Bob's) 1 1/2 c , 5 T pysillium husk powder (a colon cleanser), 2 egg whites, 2 t baking powder, 1 t salt and one cup of boiling water.  Mix the dry well with a mixer.  Add egg whites and mix well again, dump in the boiling water and mix until it makes itself look like dough.

 Then very quickly shape into a log (loaf) one inch thick or into rolls.  They made 10 little rolls, or five larger round ones.  I made the five.  And into the oven at (and here we go again with everyone having an opinion) 350 to 400 degrees.  For 50 or 60 minutes.  The chemistry of the mix is supposed to cause swelling of the rolls (or loaf) by 2 or 3 times the original.  Mine didn't puff up all that much.  But when I tore one apart--guess what?  It looked like bread. It had holes and looked exactly like bread.  And felt like bread when I chewed it. And was a terrific vehicle for eating BUTTER.  My lack of puffing is probably because  the only almond flour I had was Bob's.  So I used almond meal from Trader Joe's.  Meal is heavier than flour.  I weighed everything on my scale.  I ate one roll as soon as they came out of the oven.  And used great restraint to not eat any more.  This morning I had two split open with butter and SF blackberry jam.  If G had left the toaster out I think they would have been better.  Very fiber-full.  Hardly any carbs. Tomorrow I am toasting the last two and making more.

I also found a recipe for biscuits.

I really don't want to go too far down this road.  If you have decided to give up "wheat" products you shouldn't spend endless hours and grocery money trying to make replicas of the things you aren't supposed to eat.  I understand that people who didn't willingly give up wheat (health reasons or allergies) might really want to eat donuts and muffins  etc.  But people, the total carb count of the subs you are mixing up to make a "white flour sub" is SO MUCH HIGHER than white flour.  Which is HIGH.  I don't use anything but nut meals.  I have tried to use coconut flour and the only success I have had is using it to dust things I intend to bread with eggs and breadcrumbs.  And now that I can make fake bread--I can make fake crumbs.

So yesterday's science experiment, while not a complete success, was something I can tinker with.  And actually enjoy eating.  And my colon will thank me--eventually.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

A Taste Of Spring

The sky here in Maine is an awesome blue today.  The sun is shining even though it isn't very warm. My onion seeds have sprouted and I started six, six packs of other things.  Escarole, red and green cabbages.  Zinnias, Verbena, Gaura.  I also started some peppers.  Jalapeño, orange and bell.  I know it's early to start the peppers but they are usually so SLOW.

When the snow finally melts on the two perennial beds that warm up first, I will sprinkle poppy seeds (like pepper on a steak) with no top cover.  I usually sprinkle where I know the daffodils are.  Then the poppy seeds don't get disturbed.  They like to germinate uncovered and cold. This year I am sprinkling the blue bread seed poppies and icelandic varieties.  If I find a good package of the big opium poppy--I'll try it as well but farther from the house as it is really invasive once it gets going.

When the raised herb bed is bare of snow, I will sprinkle (in the same way) parsley, dill and cilantro in the bed.  No cover.  I "treated" the seeds with a generous few handfuls of good compost last spring and nothing came up.  The year before I sprinkled seeds and walked away.  Bountiful amounts of parsley and dill.  I have learned my lesson.  Sprinkle and walk away.

The only things I have left to start in the house will be tomatoes and fennel.  Which I will start on tax day-April 15th.  That's when the peppers should have been started as well.  I am soaking a big package of peas and plan to start them in the house, on my windowsill.  For pea shoots to cut and add to my salads.  I can also sauté them in olive oil and a touch of garlic.  I'll take a photo of the pea shoots for you as the grow. It's a fun thing to do and you need very little in the way of space or supplies.  Which is the way gardening should be.  Easy.

A gardening friend died this week. After a very painful battle with a very aggressive, full body, cancer.  She thought, at first, that she had a pulled groin muscle.  Sad to die just as Spring is coming.  Better, I think, to go just as the beauty of autumn is fading or not at all.  I remember her last visit to my workplace to select a climbing vine.  I was just about to say "cute haircut"-- and now I wish I had just blurted it out -- but I remembered the chemo at the last second and said nothing.   We had a very good time picking out a vine and some plants.  I was as optimistic as she that things would be okay.  That she would see the vine grown and climb over the wall next to her garage.  She will.  But not here on Earth.

The ebb and flow of life.  As I get older I feel the pull more strongly.  But I will not live my life any differently knowing the end is closer with every Spring.

Friday, March 08, 2013

Portland Garden Show

My husband and I ventured out of Town for a visit to the Portland Garden Show.  Ranunculus
was everywhere--in all the garden displays.  It's one of the most sophisticated flowers, I think.  Layered around a center bud.  Lasts longer than a rose bud.  I love when they appear in the greenhouse.  I will remind myself to bring the new camera and take a picture of each color.

My employer (the company) won three awards including Best of Show.  And it was well deserved.  Very nice.  All the shrubs and trees looked fresh as springtime.  (not going to be going back to work next week, sigh!)

After the show, I loosened the pocket book up long enough for a nice dinner at Longhorn.  We each had a salad and a steak.  I had the Rancher's Sirloin.  Perfectly cooked and tender topped with bacon and a fried egg.  I had the fresh vegetable sauté with my steak and a Caesar's salad.  It was all wonderful.  And I had a coupon.  I'm really getting into this senior citizen stuff.

Snow storm last night was all Whoop and little of any snow.  An inch?  The next few days are supposed to be sunny and in the mid to upper 40's.  I'll take it.  I have the dentist on Monday and a haircut on Thursday.  I'm thinking a few minutes on the back porch working on my suntan will fit into my schedule.

We have to find something new to watch on Netflix.  Prime Suspect with Helen Mirren.  Netflix only has Homeland on DVD so we can't watch that.  There's also the British version of Life on Mars that we can watch.  I hear it's worlds better than the American series (which got canceled).  And there's Luther if I can find it on Netflix.  I need to look.

We lose an hour of sleep this weekend--so Riley's internal clock will be exactly right on Sunday morning.  He's been an hour early all winter.  Spring Ahead!!!!

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Wanting To Get On With My Life

1.    Waiting for the phone call.  To hear if I am starting work next week.  Or not.  I'm ready to be done with long days at home.  Waiting is the hardest part of anything.  Isn't it?  But the dentist has called and I have a haircut appointment next week.

2.    My onion seedlings are popping up.  Tiny, tiny white threads with little seeds balancing on top.  And too much moisture in the salad containers.  So, today, I have the lids propped open to dry things out a bit.  Then we'll have to set up the light stand and the lights.  Where?????

 3.   My daughter suddenly wants to know when G and I are coming to install those desk cabinets in her kitchen.  We were waiting for her to be ready and apparently, she has BEEN ready and waiting for us to show up.  This is what always happens at the end of my furlough. Suddenly, too much to do, after having nothing to do.

4.   We may have to say good bye to the living room area rug.  Riley did a real number on it.  The usual carpet cleaner trick didn't do anything.  I will give it another try before surrendering.

5.    It's very cold and windy today.  No snow, yet.  Friday will be in the high 40's.  I think I also have "cabin fever" since we hardly leave the house these days.  I need to go out.  Besides the library and the grocery.

6.    We watched the final episode of "Life".  I just can't believe they cancelled such a good show.  G and I had a lot invested in Damien Lewis's character.  I'll have to Google to see if he's in anything else we may want to watch.  We tried the first episode of Inspecter Allyn.  Too old.  Like nearly 30 years old.  I remember being fascinated by the series in the "old" days.  Not so much now.  I think we'll try Damages next.

7.    I also have to think of something to buy and make for suppers once the meatballs are finished. I think G would like it to be chicken.  But what?

Wednesday, March 06, 2013


I already mentioned the leeks and onion seeds I have germinating.  But this morning I went out on the sun porch and brought in the paper bags full of unidentified seed heads.  My husband finds this ridiculous.  Unnamed seeds could be anything.  I, by processes of elimination, and good detective work now have containers of kale seeds, zinnia seeds from the glorious pink zinnias I buy at Loews every Spring, and coreopsis and rudibeckia seeds.  (I've tried four times to spell this right and give up).  I have another bag of seed heads which I think are from a White Flower Farm special coneflower. Another bag was labeled by a customer and contains seeds for black hollyhocks.

The work up top?  My own painted paper.  I was looking for something in the picture file that looked like "seeds".  I don't think this exists any more.  It got torn up and collaged. The paper was some sort of rough textured packing material.  From the trash can at work.

G took his pick up truck to the Town dump and dropped off  500#'s of scrap wood from his workshop up above the garage. He was shocked that it was so much.  Each afternoon he dresses in his workshop clothing and goes up in the unheated space and moves things around and cleans out spaces to use for tool storage.

I spent a good deal of time yesterday trying to find a quilting thimble.  My little bag of quilting supplies has gone missing.  I put it somewhere "safe" and it is indeed safe.  I did find quilting thread though. I find it very interesting that I purchased good spools of three colors.  Black.  Acidic Yellow.  And Lime Green.  So handy.  I stared at the three and wondered what the hell I had been working on or better still, thinking when I bought them.  No white.  No beige.  No tan.  The quilt I am quilting is is shades of brown and beige.  So I am going to use the acidic yellow.  Better than the utility beige I had been using for the first two days (it was useless).  My finger tips are sore.  Especially the "under the quilt" pushing finger tip.  I did find one thimble.  The useless silver one that has never fit correctly.

The Jehovah's Witnesses just stopped by to invite me to something.  I smiled (my new habit) and thanked her for the invitation but said I wasn't interested.  She smiled, thanked me and left. I like this new smiling habit.

Riley just returned from his walk and threw up on the living room carpet (and in the kitchen).  The way it smells--Riley must have eaten something that smells most foul.  Got to go and clean it up!!!.

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Intense Orange Blossoms

A very nice thing to have on an overcast March day.  My new camera took this on the auto setting.  The subtle changes in the oranges against each other is so very nice.  I don't know which flowers I like the best.  The red or the orange.  My Streptocarpus (Cape Primrose) is sending up one tiny flower stem after surviving the ravages of mealy bug all winter.  I need to repot them.  The soil is very compacted and sheds water. Everybody is getting a dose of microbes with their water this week.  Getting the roots ready for the big push into Spring.  My Calamondin orange has three fruits ripening to orange. A first.

All in all, my overwintering this season has been 100% better than usual.  Being downstairs with me, instead of up in the guest bedroom, alone, is making a huge difference.  Duh!

I dusted the bedroom this morning.  Yes.  It is a big deal.  I had to climb up on the bed to do the top of the four poster rungs.  Very dusty up there.  I also dusted all the furniture tops and tops of all the framed art.  And Buddha.  And the leaves of the fake orchid next to Buddha.

I also hand washed two wool sweaters.  I always wash my favorite grey cashmere after frying meatballs and breaded eggplant.  Very greasy.  (and yes, I wear the sweater always because what would I be saving it for?) And G had a sweater waiting for a wash.  G is the kind of guy who wears something once, maybe twice, and expects it to be clean and ironed, ready for the next time he wants to wear it.  Hand washed sweaters have to wait.  Usually until I need stuff for a white wash as I roll the washed,wet, sweaters in fluffy white towels and stand on the roll to remove as much water as possible. Still takes a day or two to dry completely.  So I am wearing a grey sweatshirt that I hate.

Yesterday I dug out the charity quilt my chapter was supposed to be hand quilting---years ago.  I hand quilted a block yesterday afternoon and plan to do another today.  I think there are 20 blocks and there may be four or five done (sort of).  So the rest of the month.  One a day.  I know I could finish faster on the sewing machine but "someone" (not me) put a fluffy, poly batt in this thing and basted it pretty loosely. In the intervening years the batting has poofed.  Making it very hard to even get the quilting hoop over and down around a single block.  I wouldn't have much joy pushing this under the sewing machine needle.  After one block, I felt like I had been Sumo Wrestling.  And losing.

G and Riley are back from their walk.  Riley is having lunch.  I checked my onion and leek seeds and gave them some water (sprayed it on).  I think it will be another 7 to 14 days before I see anything pop up.  Lots of moisture on the reused salad containers.  Waiting is the hard part of seed starting.

I think I will be going back to work next week.  This winter furlough has seemed very long.  I didn't get anything on my list done-----oh, I never made a list, did I!  Well, then, it's all good.  G wants to go to the Portland Garden Show.  We might.  It's in an awful venue and is very dark. Like being underground with lightbulbs shining in your eyes, blinding you every 20 feet or so. Hard to see anything and the floor is covered in water so, wet feet.  I tried to see if my employer needed any volunteer help (free ticket) but haven't heard from them yet.  I'm sure they are very busy with the installation of our booth/ floral display. Perhaps later today.  If I am lucky.

Monday, March 04, 2013

Dog Rules

Riley is almost six.  He has gotten quite interested in being the Alpha Dog of this pack this winter.  Now that G is home 24/7, Riley thinks the rules need to change. In his favor.  This morning he thought the day should begin (for G as he knows better than to try this with me) at 6 am. With his breakfast. (G made him wait until 7) And as soon as G folded up the morning newspaper, Riley assumed the "going for a walk" position next to the table and G's chair. Riley is stubborn about not moving one inch away from this position--and following G closely if he walks away. He's on his walk as I type.  Then lunch will be served.  A nice nap. A ride in the car.  A few visits to the compost pile. Then at around 3:30 he will see if either one of us will be tricked into feeding him dinner early.  Riley will keep trying until he actually gets fed at 5. Then he will lick the kitchen floor while I cook dinner. He'll then sleep until 9 or 9:30 when he pushes his way into my space for the nightly vigorous ear rubbing.  More sleeping after that until bedtime.

Riley "front loads" his day.  Which is perfectly fine with me.  G, on the other hand, is getting tired of all the long walks.  I remind him that last winter--it was ME doing all the walking.  And no one felt sorry for ME.

Once the weather warms up, the snow melts etc, G will be doing "outside" things and Riley will happily sit on the grass and watch him.  We just have to get to that point.

I DID make all the things I listed yesterday.  Meatballs (enough for four meals), breaded eggplant to layer with sauce and cheese and a homemade carrot sheet cake with frosting.  G hasn't had any yet so I don't know if he likes it or not.  He liked the meatballs and eggplant.  He had to have some of each.  Riley had so much floor licking to do--always a mess when I bread eggplant and fry it.  I used to be careful when cooking--but now, with the dog, no one knows I was messy.

I started seeds for leeks and yellow onions.  I may start seeds for red Italian onions today.  Then get the heating thing set up and germinate the seeds.  I like growing onions.  They taste good and don't spoil quickly so I actually get to use them.  I haven't used much of the garlic I grow--because I need to replant the biggest cloves in October for next year.  Eventually, I'll get to keep some for cooking.

My future Garden Plan is to ONLY grow things that I actually like to eat. (I've said this before and folded) More tomatoes of early varieties, more cucumbers, zucchini and Kabocho squash.  Some green beans. The onions. Rhubarb. Kale.  Carrots & Beets.  The last two give me the lowest yields and the most problems.  I always have a few cabbages in the garden.  Lots of insect damage.  I am going to use a systemic on them this year. It's sort of safe since it takes so long to grow a cabbage.  I am giving up on lettuce.  And I will be giving Fennel and Eggplant one last chance.

Big news from yesterday was that I finally reprogramed all of our Season's Pass things from regular stations to the new HD stations.  I figured out how to use the remote buttons to do the right things and not the many, many wrong things it has been doing since we bought the new television.  We noticed that we suddenly had a new version of TiVo when we hooked up the new HD television.  Nothing worked as it had.  And now, to make things even more frustrating, it seems that the TiVo lets me enter Netflix without me actually wanting to enter Netflix.  Sigh.  I'm a Simple Girl.  I don't like many layers of complexity when all I want is to watch my favorite programs. Not be shuffled off to watch past seasons.  Or, worse still, to be offered a Season's Pass to some terrible crap new show they are trying to people to watch, EVERY SINGLE TIME I MAKE A MISTAKE.  It's enough to give me a very bad headache.

Sunday, March 03, 2013

Explosion of Red

What a difference in a day.  This morning the two blossoms are 80% open and looking smashingly RED.  Well worth the many weeks of waiting.  And this is only the first flower stalk.  I have two more to enjoy as the weeks of March move toward Spring.

Our Sunday garden column had an interesting bit of news.  Maine is rated fifth in all of the states for the rise in warmth due to global warming.  Which is why we actually have Spring now.  When we moved here 20 plus years ago there was summer (the Fourth of July), fall and winter.  The month or so before "summer" was called "mud season" and was cold, wet and stinky.  Really.  It smelled BAD.

Now, May and June are an absolute joy to behold.  Unless it rains for most of June as it did last year.   But, last year, customers at the greenhouse were dressed in shorts and flip flops in April.  Awesome. Pretty soon Maine will be the most climate comfortable state in the US.  No 90's or 100's in summer and a short but snowy winter (great skiing) plus the bonus of a gorgeous Fall.  Perhaps we will finally have more than 1.25M people in the state.  Yep.  That's how many of us live here.

I have to go out to the grocery as I have nothing (which isn't frozen solid) to make into dinner. I have a desire to make a huge pot of meatballs and marinara.  And I am thinking about buying a package of boneless chicken thighs and making a curry.  And some eggplant to bread and fry up for lunches or eggplant parm.  Big cooking day.  And I can freeze what we don't eat.  I also need to make G a new dessert.  He finished the giant New York cheesecake last night.  Maybe a carrot cake.  I don't think I have ever tried to make one without a mix.  I think I will start making a list of what I need.  Get out of my pj's and get going.

Friday, March 01, 2013

Amaryllis Opening

I potted this huge amaryllis bulb (a gift to myself) just before Christmas, so I knew I was going to have to wait 8 to 10 weeks for the beauty to appear.  I have two stems with four blossoms each and another flower stem which has yet to leave the bulb.  Until a few days ago, I couldn't see any red.  Now as the days go by, the petals are becoming a deeper, richer red with tiny points of white on the tips of the petals.  The stems remain short so the plant is sturdy.

You can see a fern (rescued, no longer wanted, from a mixed pot I repotted) and several large African Violets (a gift when I had the daunting task of dividing a violet that was at least 24 inches wide and as tall).  I was given tiny shoots and it has taken time and patience to get them as large as they are now.  Bottom right is another, smaller amaryllis sending up a flower stem.  I don't know what color it will be.  I have a succulent top middle.  Another orphan.

I have the habit of bringing home Lost Causes and trying to give them another chance at life.  Plants only.  No animals or people.  Or UFO's.

This giant Amaryllis bulb reminded me, so strongly, of a trip many years ago to visit our son in California.  It may have been his first or second winter living there.  We happened on a sale of bulbs at Smith & Hawkin in San Francisco and I purchased three or four big bulbs.  Now when I see them, I think of that visit.  So sweet, yet so sad.  Seeing him on that visit made me miss him even more when we had to leave.

Those huge bulbs grew tall heavy stems with huge flower heads.  G & I were awakened one night by a huge crash.  The pots were up on the top of the kitchen cabinets (to get good light from the skylights) and they had reached the point of diminished returns.  The weight of the flower heads and the size of the pots---- well, they all fell off the cabinet top and shattered on the wood floor.  I cut the flowers for a vase.  And tried over the years to get the bulbs to stay alive.  Over caring for them--which rotted the bulbs.  I could never afford the high retail cost of new bulbs (over $25 each now) so I thought my days of having amaryllis were past.  I have gotten a few small bulbs as gifts in recent years.  I have gotten a few from customers who thought they were goners.  And this year, on sale, with a discount, I got a really BIG one for myself.

Every morning I check my flowering plants to see if we are making any progress.  It's slow in the winter.  But now it's March.  Time for things to quicken.  For seeds to sprout.  For time to spring ahead.