Tuesday, July 22, 2008

But What About Mitsie?

I know you've wondered about Mitsie, even begun to worry. How is she? Where is she? Doesn't she live at this blog any more?

Your concern has been appreciated, and I'm here to tell you that Mitsie is fine! She's right here! She's happy you asked!

The truth is, though, that Mitsie is not enjoying this heat wave. She's making the best of it, trying not to complain. Mostly, she is just trying to keep cool.

Lying on the floor, under the big ceiling fan in the living room, sometimes works.















Until it gets boring.















Under the table makes for a nice change.



















Under the table, facing the other way is an option as well.















When all else fails, she can always have a wash.


























































Then there's under the china dresser.















Maybe now Mom will leave her alone?















(Okay.)

(To give due credit: the last photo was taken by Owen. Nice one, O!)


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Sunday, July 20, 2008

July Glory

Mid-July is always a peak time in the garden. Too bad it's usually too hot to spend much time back there.

[Click on any image for a magnified view.]

The borders are filling in. This year, I've finally got the height I was aiming for. Maybe too much height, not enough middling and low? (Click here to see what it looked like in May.)
































I haven't mentioned the liatris yet -- also known as Blazing Star or Gayfeather. It is an American native. An interesting note: "Another old common name for this plant is Colic Root, alluding to its medicinal use as an antispasmodic for the intestines among other uses." I'll be sure bear that in mind.




















The daylilies are in full-throated chorus. I don't know why I love these guys so much. I'm so happy I found this particular yellow. The variety is Hyperion, in this case from White Flower Farm.













































The globe thistle is coming into bloom (if that's what you call it -- coming into fuzz?)
















The rose report:

































The sunflowers sprang into life while we were away. Here is one of them.














I always plant the type that have several heads per plant. In their appreciative exuberance, the squirrels tend to knock down the tall, regal, single-head variety. Then there's nothing left for me to appreciate. With several heads per plant, it's just the flower that rips off when the squirrels decide to hang from it as they gorge (and quarrel) -- the plant is free to keep on blooming.


The campanula -- a short variety.















I planted a taller variety this spring, but it doesn't seem to be thinking about blooming this year.
















P.S. We've begun to lay out the pavers, with the help of our friend Douglas. The Tower of Power remains, however. It's just too hot to be moving heavy concrete chunks to the front and heavy concrete pavers to the back. But it will get done, eventually ...































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Friday, July 18, 2008

Bluebirds


















photo by Ken Thomas


This is a tale about a bluebird family, and my dad.

My dad lives in Massachusetts with his wife, Marge, in a house with floor to ceiling windows, lots of antiques and oriental rugs, and some land. They too are passionate about their garden, but it's a different kind of garden -- a vegetable garden. We exchange photos and news about roses, peas, columbine, and potatoes. And birds. They've got finches, and jays, of course, and turkeys, and until recently, bluebirds.
















photo by Bill D, Alpharetta, GA

Last year, they were so pleased to see that a bluebird couple had moved into their bluebird nesting box. They watched as the pair built a nest, then as the female brooded on the eggs, and as they worked to feed the chicks. Dad and Marge grew very fond of the birds and were thrilled when the original bluebird couple returned to their nesting box this spring. Eggs were laid, chicks were hatched, and all was right with the world.

Then one morning they found the male bluebird lying dead near the house. Other than being dead, it looked unharmed; they guessed that it had flown into one of their windows. They watched for the female and saw that she was still around, feeding her noisy chicks to the best of her ability. But after a few days, she was gone. Soon there was no noise from the box. My dad told me about climbing a ladder and cleaning out the box. No bluebirds have returned.

















photo: free license, Wikipedia, by "Basil"

He said they felt sad about it, and he sounded sad. Thinking about it, I feel sad, too.


To the bluebirds, I bow.

Click here or here to hear the bluebird's song.



bowing figure by Ed Silverton, UK


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Thursday, July 17, 2008

Wilderness as Garden: Garden as Wilderness

There were lots of wildflowers up in the Catskills. Most of them I can't identify. I know that the first is chickory.


































































































































Even in the wild, you find bindweed behaving just as it does in the garden: bindingly. And beguilingly.


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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Catskills Live Up to Reputation: Blogger

We're back from our much-anticipated week up in the Catskills. The house was nice, the rain held off, and we all had a good time. So far, the relaxed feeling is still with us.

The Catskills really are very beautiful, and a few snapshots can't do it justice. Nevertheless, here are a few snapshots.

[click on any image for a magnified view]

Owen spent the week as a day camper at the Wayfinder Experience, which took place at a site near near the Ashokan Reservoir. We gave Owen his own disposable camera, but he was too busy having a wonderful time to remember to take any photos, so we don't have much to show. But this will give you a sense of the kind of place and experience it was:


If you live anywhere near the Catskills, and you or a child age 11 and up are interested in living out heroic fantasy for a week, I highly recommend the Wayfinder Experience [click here].









High Point

While Owen was thrashing about with a styrofoam sword, Robert and I had some time to ourselves to explore the area. We soon found that our total of 45 years in the city had soured us to long driving trips on hilly, winding roads, so we didn't venture too far. Our biggest hike was along the High Point Trail. It was supposed to be our starter hike, just to break us in; but what we thought would be a short jaunt took almost six hours, and really wiped us out. Fortunately we were carrying a good lunch and lots of water.

There always seemed to be a stream nearby.

video


Worlds we passed along the way:
















































We didn't reach the top; once we finally had a view, we stopped, rested, ate lots of the wild blueberries that grew all around, and headed back. I was too beat to pull out the camera to take pictures of the blueberry patches. But it was the taste that was the most memorable anyway. The berries were intensely flavorful and sweet, so much better than the cultivated berries we bought later in the trip.



Fireflies

The house we rented had a big yard, and at night it was lit by a galaxy of fireflies. I experimented with keeping the camera shutter open for long stretches of time (1, 4, 5, 10 seconds), and this is the best I could get:
















Ashokan Reservoir

Ashokan Reservoir is the source of drinking water for the city of New York. Several small towns were displaced in order to create it, similar to Quabbin Reservoir in Massachusetts, and, I suppose, to many reservoirs across the country. Nonetheless, it's very beautiful, and draws lots of trout fishers as well as bikers, rollerbladers, and walkers.
















[Click on the 360o panorama below to get the full effect.]





Kaaterskill Falls

On Saturday, we visited the popular Kaaterskill Falls, the tallest set of waterfalls in New York State and one of the primary inspirations for what became the Hudson River School of artists.




















Kindred Spirits, Asher Durand

I doubt that Asher Durand or Thomas Cole envisioned rock climbers rappelling off the walls. Nature appreciation sure has changed over the last 180 years.





















































Can you spot Owen and me in this photo?

































Another from above:

















Saugerties Lighthouse

We also visited the Saugerties Lighthouse, overlooking the Hudson River.



















It is accessible by boat and by a trail, part of which is submerged at high tide. Indeed, the Hudson is tidal up to Albany. (It is brackish until Poughkeepsie, I heard.) We walked the trail and then had a lovely swim in the cove.



















There is a nice deck shaded (and stained) by mulberry trees. The lighthouse has two bedrooms which can be booked as a bed-and-breakfast, as a way of funding the lighthouse's upkeep.

















I was inspired by the light, reflections, and shadows to try to take some "artistic" photos. Once again, the camera sees too much -- I didn't notice how mucky the grass was until I uploaded the images at home. Oh well.



















Click here for a slide show of our vacation pics.



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