Friday, June 28, 2013

A Bit Late: June Strawberries

And a bit short lived.  Since it has turned cold and is raining here in Maine.  All night last night. Rain pouring down. This morning I chose clothing I last wore when it was not even spring.  Heavy hooded sweatshirt. Long pants.  And heavy orange rain coat.  Cold.  Wet.  Was it really so hot and sunny early this week?  Sunday to Wednesday afternoon????

I don't think anyone is picking berries right now and if they are--the berries are not at their best.  I had some supermarket berries with my yogurt today.  Trader Joe's Honey Greek yogurt.  Every review said it was yummy.  Not.  Too sweet.  Too loose (not thick).  I'm trying to think of something to use it up--meaning not eating it as yogurt in my lunch.

I bought 32 cents worth ( one pound) of Red Pontiac seed potatoes for another container of potatoes in the garden.  The others are growing so lushly that I want to grown more.  I also rescued a few jalapeƱo pepper plants from a dumpster.  Five.  I'll find room.

My Saturday off tomorrow.  If the rain stops (but it looks like rain until after the 4th of July) I will plant things in my daughter's garden.  Perhaps I will plant, even in the rain.  I will also sleep late.  I am very tired.  And since it's cold, I will wrap myself in my down comforter.

We had clouds and rain, so I never got to see the Super Moon.  I had wanted to see it.

I'm hoping July is a better month.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Last Year's Containers

I was trolling the picture files looking for a Book Sale picture and come up with nothing.  I know I had one or two but perhaps they are still "locked"up in the old laptop.  We never figured out how to get them into this one.

By 3pm all 70,000 books were on the tables, or the floor in neat lines between the table legs.  We had plenty of good help and a constant line up of volunteers bring food.  The new Panera sent over trays of goodies (like a good new neighbor should), and there were bowls of fresh fruit in chunks.  I ate lots of watermelon.  I also ate a croissant and a handful of pretzels.

That's it for the booksale (on my part) until next year.  I arrived at 7:15 am (after a sleepless night- my nose was all stuffed up) and worked, lifting boxes, opening boxes, emptying boxes, etc.  Over and over until 4 pm.  Then I can home, took a shower.

New weather is here for a few days.  Cool.  Rain.  Thunder.  I'm all for it.  The bedroom windows are open again and I expect to actually sleep tonight.  I don't like closed up bedrooms.  I like to have the windows open.

These last three days have been difficult.  Too hot.  Too sunny.  Too humid.

G took Riley to the new dog park.  A fenced area near the river where dogs can run and play.  Of course, no other dogs were there.  From what I hear, no other dogs are ever there.  So not so much fun. But Riley noticed the boat ramp nearby and was very interested in going into the water for a swim. so he did.  Next time G will have the long leash and Riley will be able to really swim out into the river.  He has to be on the leash because G isn't sure he'll swim back.  It's an "unknown".  And he could get into trouble and not be able to swim back.  The river has a good current.  And G isn't that interested in swimming in cold water to get the dog.  I think Riley should have a dog swim vest --the one with the handle on top--so you can pull the dog up and out of the water.  Sort of like a dog purse.  Now, pulling an 85 pound wet dog up out of the water would be more than either G or I could manage.

Well, I am tired.  Work tomorrow and Friday.  And I get my haircut tomorrow so that's nice.

Hope the 26th of June has been a good day for you.  It was a very good day for me.  I felt good about the work, organizing the work (I was in charge today) and all the wonderful volunteers who worked so hard for the Book Sale.  Really nice.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Tomato Bed And The Weather Report

Things are going well in the garden.  All the seeds I planted have germinated and poked up out of the soil.  Summer squashes (zucchini and yellow crookneck), two kinds of cucumbers (pickling and burp less), two kinds of beans (pole and bush green beans).  I tried another packet of carrots, some lettuce and I have two flats of basil started in the house and a few new sprouts of parsley.  The nasties (nasturtiums) are still not sprouting.  I may give up--again!!!!   I even planted 5 little mid season cabbages.  They were orphans from work.  Now that I know I should pull them before we have a big rain (so the heads don't split open) I may even get to eat cabbage.

The weather has "turned".  Yesterday it was unbearably hot.  The morning shift got to go home an hour earlier, and even though I LOVE money, I went home early.  So happy to arrive home and see the little window AC unit installed and humming.  Then a good shower.  I was soaked in sweat and dirt.  And some assorted slug slime trails which happened as I was carrying trays of overgrown perennials.

Today I am saving myself from thoughts of smacking a customer and stealing their icy beverages.  I am bringing icy beverages of my own.  I am wearing light colored and loose clothing.  Cotton undies.  I may even bring my hat, though it will make my head even hotter.  Yesterday I dunked my head under the sink faucet.  I felt like my brain was getting overheated.

It was close to 90 outside in the sun and closer to 110 in the greenhouse.  No breezes.

I got home, showered, dressed in the lightest stuff I owned and then sat, in a stupor on the couch in the dark living room.  For hours.  Then we watched the last three episodes (that we can watch) of Zero Hour.  ABC ran this show for three episodes in the Fall season and then pulled it.  Now they are showing it again.  I missed it but--amazingly!!!, my cable service has a way for me to watch stuff-- and I did it (we did it-as G also enjoyed watching).  Only one show left and it's scheduled for July 6th.  You can see how they are scrambling to close out the story in just 8 episodes instead of the usual 13.  The visuals are amazing and this must have cost ABC a FORTUNE to film.   And, it's good.  IF they had just given it a chance it would have worked.   So, if you have a way of watching stuff that has already aired, video on demand, give it a try.

I packed my yogurt lunch, a quart of iced coffee and a thermal cup filled with ice for work.  I have on my baggiest linen shorts and a white tank top.  Yesterday I had on a dark green tee shirt.  UGH!!! Like a heating blanket.

Tomorrow.  Book Sale Set Up.  A long, hot, muggy day being dirty.  Over 200 hundred dirty boxes of books to unpack.  That's just ME!  And it's unpaid volunteer work.

The good news--once we pass July 4th, my summer days are long and lazy (even if they are hot).  Hardly anything to do at work and hardly any customers.  I usually take vacation days.  Work in my garden.  Eat ice cream. Wait for autumn and the mums.

Catch you up on news on Saturday.  Until then--I am flat out.  No days off.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Ten Things Today

G finished the new gate for my vegetable garden.  I said I would take a picture of it.  It's very nice isn't it.  He designed and built it without any advice from me.  From tree branches he found on the property.

Last year's garden "experiment" worked like a charm so we are using the sunken pots to water the roots of almost all the plants in this year's garden.  A bit of dehydrated compost or manure in the bucket and fill it with water when you water the garden.  

Last year I also "mulched with landscape cloth (fuzzy side down) and it worked to heat up the soil for my peppers.  Now, I hope it works for the tomatoes.

Riley usually just sits and waits for us to be done in the garden.  but when we water, he likes to get "big drinks" from the hose.

Jeans that fit.  Remember I mentioned cutting the size tags out of clothes?  Well, I went a step farther and purchased 2 pair of jeans in a size I would rather not be.  Easy fit.  Stretchy.  Loose.  No binding.  I may never be the size I want to be--but while I am what I am--I want to be comfortable. this was not an easy decision.  But the right one.

Chicken tenders (2) and a large bowl of cucumber salad for breakfast.  It also felt right.

Planted all the bush beans,  four Purple tomatoes (I grew from seed) and four Siberian tomatoes, and the remainder of the orange peppers.  I had an empty bed and couldn't bear to throw them away.

Made pie crust and a Rhubarb Pie.

Had a Margarita with dinner at the local BBQ place.

Clean bed sheets tonight.  All the floral Ralph Lauren ones.  Nothing matches.  Love it.  Like a garden.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Bubblegum Pink Supertunias

Today was THE day.  The truck arrived with trays and trays of Proven Winner's--Bubblegum Pink Petunias and those little superbells in Cherry Pink.   I spent a few hours making up all eleven window boxes for my favorite customer.   So, super cute.  The boxes and the 85 year old customer.

I've told this story before, but this time there's more to the story.  His wife arrived at my workplace (my first season) with a folded magazine picture of a window box stuffed with bubble gum pink petunias.  "Can you make this for me?" she asked.  I knew we stocked that variety so I said, "yes we can".

Then we waited, what seemed more like months than weeks, for the flowers to show up.  I had just about given up when the daily truck pulled up, the doors opened and all I could see was PINK!!!!!

Then I made up the window boxes.  They were stored back behind the Annual Greenhouse in those days.  Now, I keep them by the potting bench.  It took about four carts to move the boxes from the annual house to the cash registers.  Four employees helped move them and we made quite a parade as we crossed from one greenhouse to another.  All that pink.  Such an exuberant show.

But nothing prepared me for the look of absolute JOY that was the customer (and the husband).  Really. To make someone that happy?  It's a gift.  And she enjoyed those flowers for three summers.  The fourth year, H came by himself.  Gave me the sad news.  We filled the boxes just the same.  He felt he had to.  For her.

This year the time for the boxes came and went.  I was very sad.  Wondering what had happened. But he called on Monday.  He had been thinking of not doing the flowers.  Had asked his daughter.  She said "you have to do what you have to do".  Bubblegum Pink Windowboxes.

We were VERY short on petunias.  I told H I would call and find out what they had before he drove over with the boxes.  I called.  And guess what they said?  Well, they said, we have TONS of Bubblegum Pink. How many do you want?  Know what I think?  I think H's wife arranged it all.
That's what I think.

Every time he drives up to the house and sees all those boxes, H will remember (as I do) his wife's face.  That smile.  Those tears of joy.  The gasp of disbelief.  The love, for her, that showed in his eyes. And perhaps he won't miss her so much--at least for a a little while.

Monday, June 17, 2013


This the word I would use to describe how I feel right now.  An abundance of good things.  Good people at work.  Good work at work.  Returning customers who make me laugh out loud.  Remember I told you there was never enough of that in my life these days.  And it's time for the peonies to blossom. They are ready to explode in petals and that lovely peony scent.

And because I always want to make you happy--- here is the view I have after working in the vegetable garden and coming up to the back of the house and the "stoop".  Weigelia (two of them which are only blossoming on the garage wall side) but usually have lots of rosy pink flowers.  Pink, again.  Inbetween is a new spirea with tiny white flowers like little dots.  There's a new rhodie between those three sticks (our attempt to keep the deer from eating the buds).  I don't remember what color this rhodie is but that looks suspiciously like a pink flower to the left of the left side sticks but perhaps it's just the flowers on the chives.

Speaking of abundance.  Plant chives once and you will never be without them.  Well, I guess you also need to let them flower so they can seed themselves all over.

At 2:30, the sky was blue, the sun was shining and there wasn't a cloud in sight.  At 3:30 the sky was dark and the rain was pelting down as I tried to drive home.  As soon as I stopped at the first red light, I could see that the storm was nearly over.  No rain on the last part of the trip.  My car is very clean.  And the air is also cleaner.  So much pollen in the air.  Hard to breathe.

I need to start dinner.  Jamie Oliver's mushroom pasta.  I may even have some. Whoop!!!  Living dangerously.  But happy.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Thursday--THE Day Off

My body decided that Thursday is the Day Off.  I can do yard work etc on Saturday but on Thursday, after working Sunday thru Wednesday, I just can't.  I am exhausted.

So today I slept until 8am.  Read the paper with my bran flakes.  Sat on the porch with Riley and got some sun on my legs.  Everything else was covered up as I think I have reached the point where further sun would be a "very bad idea".  Then I made a list (which I forgot to take with me) and G and I left to go "buy things".  

We went to our local Goodwill.  Three of the 7 items I bought are going back. G got a pair of jeans. Then our local discount store and I got Lee jeans.  So comfy.  And they fit.  One pair came home with me (dark wash) and the light wash was ordered from another store to arrive next week.  Relaxed fit with 1% spandex.   I got a charcoal grey pair at Goodwill last winter and love, love, love wearing them. Duh!! That it took so long to find a store that sells them and buy more.  And on sale. G got candy bars and new shoes to wear when walking the dog.  He is wearing them now as he walks the dog.  If I did that--well, It wouldn't be smart.

G also purchased seven new cereal bowls.  He has three but has chipped them when putting them into the dishwasher.  These are heavy duty restaurant bowls.  Shallow so his cereal stays crisp.  Seven because he won't have to run the dishwasher any more often than once a week to always have a bowl.  This is the way men think.  I would have bought 8.  He also got more work gloves.  He wears holes in them or loses one.

Then we went to Rite Aid to see if either of us could get the toothpaste we use.  He did.  I did not.  I surrendered and purchased the Sensodyne with the green top.  I like the one with the blue top.  The clerk said if the blue topped ones were in one of the 15 crates of new stuff--she would call.  I asked for 4.  I am hopeful.

We finally called to see where our construction guy was.  Seems we "failed to communicate".  He was waiting for us.  We were waiting for him.  In the discussion of what we are doing, on Tuesday morning, while trying not to spend too much or over build---I agreed to a peak roofed porch with columns (like the ones on the front porch) and a granite slab floor.  This is all to protect the $5000 French doors and the screen doors.  I felt like a fool--but it's going to look nice.  And it was mostly my idea as we have to work with the cement footing from the chimney.  I also voiced my opinion on the new windows and the construction guy thought my solution was "perfect".  So, that's done.  But the front door.  Not done.  On hold.  It wasn't going to look like I wanted so--we'll think about it later.

There is going to be "removal" on the roof.  I didn't want to have to pay for that a second time in three years, but I will.  It's almost like wasting a few thousand dollars and then spending that, and more, again.  The little "porch" will solve the air flow problems.  We didn't budge on the rafters.  That can be something someone else (in the future) takes care of.  Not us.  And in 30 years, we certainly won't be living here. And in 30 years, who ever is living here will be putting on a new roof anyway.

Well, I have to go water the tomatoes in the Tomato Wagon.  Saturday those babies are going into the garden along with the peppers.  Corn is up.  I think I am planting the zucchini in the old compost bins along with yellow crookneck squash as I was told they do "very" well in the compost bins.  Perhaps a few cucumbers as well.  Then I am calling it"done".  Oh, I forgot about the green beans.  On the trellis G built.  It may stop raining anytime now.  How is your garden doing?

Saturday, June 08, 2013

When I Walked Out to Get The Newspaper

I noticed how nice the front bed by the garage looked, after a day and night of rain.  The tree with white flowers is a viburnum tomentosa (double file).  We originally planted three of them in this spot.  One gave up on it's own and the third had to be chopped down.  We couldn't dig it out.  The roots are still sprouting.  Wanting to grow again.

The lesson here---read the little card that comes with the plant.  It would have been very nice to have three tall trees around the yard now.  Not just one.  IF we had planted them in three different areas. But they were so small when we bought them.  Hard to think about them getting BIG.

Across from that bed is the bed G and I worked on last week (the rocks were a big project).  And the bark chips.  We have a pink/white rhododendron at the driveway side and in the front left a pink beauty bush just starting to blossom with the apricot Cameo Quince below it.  The plant in the middle is a purple Smokebush.  Eventually, it will be very tall.

G and I have noticed we have way too much pale pink in the garden.  The crab trees, the rhodies and in a few weeks the Clethra (sweetshrub) between the sidewalk and porch.  Perhaps we chose the pink to make the dark woods seem brighter?   This bed was once the home to the three tall oaks we had cut down a year or so ago.  Lots more sunshine these days.  And bark chips.

So, I finally got the Brussels Sprouts planted and the escarole and weeded the herb bed which has the parsley and dill.  I need to start some more parsley.  Only 7 came up.  I think it might be enough.  I never can tell when they are only 1/2 inch tall.  My potatoes are coming up.  Which is a happy thing.  Twelve fennel are still standing.  The garlic looks good. Onions are still looking okay.  I have a few carrots.  G planted more.

I also emptied two of the compost bins in the garden.  Moved what was still not composted into the new bins by the shed.  Added three bags of coffee grounds G got from Starbucks, some straw and some decomposing leaves.

I also, finally, remembered to take my raincheck for those sale bottles of Tide.  Three dollars off.  The clerks said they rarely, if ever, get rainchecks.   I ask for them all the time when they don't have sale items I want.  But, I also forget to have them with me when I shop.  I still have one for 85% ground Angus chuck.  It was $2.49 a pound on sale.

Anyway.  Today was a good day.  Lots of work done.  No rain.  Some sun.  Hardly any bugs.

Thursday, June 06, 2013

It's The First Thursday in June

Twice. I wrote that it was Wednesday.

And it's time for me to make some decisions.

I slept until 9 this morning.  Had bran flakes (not good ones) and Fiber One for breakfast.  Second cup of coffee.  Changed my tee shirt three times already until I found one that was "just right".  I feel itchy. anxious.  Ready to change.  Move on.

I need a new cereal.  I need to clean out the tee shirt drawer.  Use more body lotion.

Rain is coming.  Sun is shining.  I have things that need to be in the garden.  BUT I need to stay clean until I visit the eye doctor and get my eyes checked.  Been two years.  What I actually need is new frames.  But my optician doesn't stock really cool frames.  Like red ones.

None of my rings fit over the knuckle on my left hand.  I should have the rings resized to fit over the knuckle.  It's what G did.

I am planning to take the advice that the morning newspaper (an article on Boomers) gave me this morning.  Cut all the size labels out of every piece of clothing you own.  Fit matters.  Not size. Those tees got to go.  I need to buy jeans that fit.

Get rid of EVERYTHING that is too big or too small.  Odds are that I am the size I am going to be. Plus or minus muscle. Live with it.

Two former employees have given me suggestions for new employment.  Yes, it's that obvious.  The "sticking point" for me is the convenience of this employer.  Short drive.  Days off if I want, paid or not.  Not much attention paid to how I spend my day or how I dress. I just need to show up. Do I trade what I have for more money?  How should I roll for the next 5 years?  Ten years?

Realistically, how long can I do this?  It's not the work that wears me out.  It's the people.  But only some of them.  And, I think G and I get along best when I am "somewhere else" most of the time. But not all the time.

I also have that huge "weight" upstairs.  The fabric closet, the art supplies, the design wall, the boxes of thread, fabric scraps, paint bottles, the sewing machines etc etc etc.  I have carried all that around for over 30 years now.  Hardly using it even when I participated (on the sidelines) with 12by12 or monthly chapter meetings.  Now, I don't even have the every other month challenges to get me involved in those materials.  What happens if I just let it all go?

I actually don't think much will change.  I will just have a large empty room.  I never go up there. When did I stop being an artist????  Better question.  When did I start?

First Thursday in June.  I am more of a Gardener than an Artist.  Reality Check.

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Why Tuesday Is Always Interesting

I never know how things are going to turn out (at work) on Tuesday.  Monday was difficult.  Not enough employees (working) who actually knew how to do anything.  Yes, we have employees who don't absorb information.  They just exist.  Take up space.  Live happily, never noticing that life could be so much more.  Like when you can help a customer.

That was Monday.  A struggle.  I worked with a woman from "away" (New York City) who was so indecisive that she needed 30 to 60 minutes each morning to decide on her breakfast (her words).  I spent 2 hours with her and was shaking with frustration by the time I walked away from her at the cash register.  She never stopped talking.  Do I want this.  Or this. Or that.  Or this. Tell me what to think?

Tuesday.  Today.  So many employees.  I mean, actually, I was redundant.  Not needed.  I had to find busy work to stay occupied.  Others asked if I would take their place so they could go home.  I said yes. Anything to be occupied.  But it was only in jest.  If anyone was going home--I wanted it to be me.

But there were pleasant surprises.  The owner of a riverside restaurant brought me sweet potato fries when she arrived to pick up the second load of annuals for her dockside barrels.  I had been dedicating myself to protecting her petunias from the grabby hands of other customers, who were intent on buying what I had ordered for her.  It didn't matter how many SOLD signs or red ribbons were attached to the cart of flowers.  I stood there with arms wide.  Saying NO!  The fries were delicious when I finally got to eat them, cold, for lunch.

A co-worker went to McD's for a "coffee run" and got me a $1 iced coffee.  Double cream and no sugar.  Decaf.

Tuesday had a real "party" atmosphere today.  I even got 6 pastel eggs from a co-worker's chickens and a jar of strawberry jam she made herself.  I wonder if Tuesday was actually THAT GOOD or was it just NOT Monday????  What do you think?

Saturday, June 01, 2013

Things I Am Grateful For Today

That the deck is finished.  Doesn't it look nice?  And those little holes aren't for birds to nest, but for air flow.  One thing I have to get used to; the composite deck gets VERY hot in the sun and burns the bottom of my bare feet if I stay on it too long (half a minute).

My darling Tomato Wagon.  Too hot the past few days to even think of putting these babies in the garden beds.  So they stay out in the wagon.  Watered and fed.  Some of the larger ones will be getting transplanted into larger containers today.  In fact, transplanting is on my list for today.

I am also thankful that "today" I am dressed appropriately for the weather.  Not like yesterday at work. Well, I was mostly okay but shorts would have helped.  It was too hot.  Too sunny. And for most of the day I felt dizzy.  Today I am staying inside the house where it is cooler.  Doing laundry.  G is vacuuming.  When it's hot (and the air quality is bad), I feel nauseous.

That I am not working today.  It feels like it's 100 degrees today.  Was supposed to be cooler with some rain.

That I have lovely white linen sheets on the bed.  They are so comfy in the summer.  And I switched to the flowered yellow duvet cover today also.

My sweet dog.  Who wants to go outside but knows it's too hot.  And, while he hates the sound of the vacuum, had to come supervise the cleaning of the carpet under his bed, and the movement of his toy pile.  Just to be sure all the toys were safe.  Some of them need to visit the washing machine.

A box of cold fried chicken in the fridge.  I got home late yesterday and G had bought chicken for me. Let it get cold.  That's the way I like it.  But, because we failed to communicate, I bought myself chicken McNuggets and a $1 iced coffee on the way home.  G was asleep when I got home (a nap) so he didn't know I brought home food.  I didn't know about the chicken in the fridge.  But I was happy about it.

Longmire.  New episodes every Sunday and the recorded ones to re-watch.  Even G is watching.

Short hair.  Yesterday I dunked my whole head under the break room faucet to cool off.  Twice. I had read somewhere that it is bad for our brains to get too hot.  I did it to keep my brain safe.  (smile)

That the guy finally came to spray diluted white paint on the big greenhouse roof (glass) and the temps went way down and the threat of sunburn went way down.  Still near 110 by the potting bench but no sun pounding down.  I'm grateful.

That's ten.   I have one more--those carrot seeds I planted (or was it the radish?) anyway--they turned out to be bok choy.  Really.  The garden has a real weird sense of humor.