Did We Leave Our Car Windows Open?

In the United States, last Sunday was Father’s Day, and to celebrate, Clif and I had went on an honest-to-God outing, something we haven’t done since March 2020, right before the pandemic closed everything down. First we went to the Colby College Art Museum in Waterville, where we saw an exhibit featuring prints of the U.S. artist Mary Cassatt (May 22, 1844–June 14, 1926).

My first impression of the prints was that they were subtle to the point of being dull. But a closer look disabused me of that notion. A lesson, that’s for sure—first impressions are not always accurate. Cassatt was a master portraitist who focused on mothers and children. Cassatt’s ability to capture nuance and emotion shines forth even in her prints. I was utterly amazed that she could give them so much life.

Here is a short video featuring the curator of the exhibit.

After looking at the exhibit, we wandered around the rest of the museum. We found ourself on the lowest floor of the museum, where there were no windows, and we heard a loud rush of water that sounded suspiciously like rain. Could we really be hearing rain so far down?

It seems that we could. When we went upstairs and looked out a window, we saw the rain bucketing in sheets.

Clif asked, “Did we leave our car windows open?”

Yes, we did. The day was hot and humid, and we thought it would be more comfortable to leave the windows open. Boy, were we ever wrong.

The tempest didn’t last long, and when we went back to the car, there was water, water everywhere pooling inside the center console. Fortunately, I was able to mop up most of the water with napkins from the glove compartment.

But the cloth seats were soaked, and after two minutes of sitting on them, so were our backsides.

Nevertheless, onward we went to the second part of our outing—to Buen Apetito for Mexican food. Fortunately, we sat at a booth with plastic seats. As we squished our way in, I explained the situation to our server, who laughed and took it in stride.

“No worries!” she said.

With that settled, we started with a beer—Lunch not Miller Lite— for Clif and a margarita for me.

We shared an order of potato flautases, which I forget to take a picture of. And because it was Father’s Day weekend, we also split dessert, a deep-fried banana tortilla with scoop of vanilla ice cream sprinkled with cinnamon.

As we would say in Maine, wicked good.

 

Some Favorite Blog Posts from Friends Far and Near

Note: After marathon gardening for two months, I’m still not in the swing of things, But eventually each week I hope to feature more posts from snappy blogs I follow.

Ju-Lyn, from Touring My Backyard, received the gift of a kabocha¬† pumpkin, which is one I’ve never heard of.

From New Zealand, Thistles and Kiwis featured highlights of a trip to Auckland.

 

 

From Books to Wine to the Patio

Last weekend the weather was fine—hot, but not too hot, and dry. Cooler weather from Canada had pushed the horrible heat and humidity away. Many thanks, Canada! Exactly the way summer in Maine should be, and perfect for everything we had planned.

On Saturday, Clif and I set up a book table at The Art Walk, one of the nicest gift shops in the area. Readers who live nearby, do keep this store in mind when you want a special gift for a special person, including yourself. (I might have bought a present for a special person who lives far away.) The prices and selection are fantastic, and everything is handmade by local artists and crafters.

Barbara Walsh, another Winthrop writer, set up next to me.

Unfortunately, the day was slow, and not many people came by. Never mind. I had a great time chatting with Barbara as well as Nick and his mother Terry, who run the store. Terry even brought a box of cannolis and shared them with us. So nice and so tasty.

After that, it was on to getting together with our friends Dawna and Jim, who recently bought a new house, a sweet little ranch with beautiful gardens. We brought a bottle of wine, glasses, and a wine opener. That way we could toast them and wish them many happy years in their new home. (Their house is pretty darned empty as they will be moving in next week.)

Sunday was another fine day, and I spent a couple of hours on the patio. I read the paper and caught up on blog reading and commenting. Naturally, I took pictures. I might have even snapped several photos of little zipping visitors, but you will have to wait until Wednesday to see those.

In the meantime, the view from my chair…

The predominate color is still green but we are soon approaching the time when my gardens are at their best—June and July—when yellow and red show their pretty faces.

Alas, the irises are on their way out, but here’s a final shot of couple of this year’s bloom.

Farewell, my lovelies.

 

 

Step by Step in the Garden

Along with buying lots of annuals to brighten my shady yard, I also bought a handful of perennials, including Jacob’s Ladder, which is now in bloom. The flowers are modest but pretty, and I am already planning to buy more plants for various spots in the relatively moist areas in the front garden. Plus, now that I have hoses in the front, I can baby, at least a little, the plants that like extra water.

This plant always puts me in mind of the Bruce Hornsby song, “Jacob’s Ladder,” and the plaintive line “All I want from tomorrow is just to get it better than today.”

Step by step, one by one…in the garden. And in life?

Gardening in a June Heatwave

When I was young, it would have been inconceivable to have a heatwave in June in Maine. Yet here we are with the temp in the mid 90s. Records have yet again been broken. Back in the day, even at the end of July or the beginning of August, it was rare for the temp to be that high. My parents and grandparents would have been astonished to deal with such heat in June. And not at all happy. Thank goodness we have Eva, our air conditioner.

Nevertheless, I have pushed on with gardening, going out right after breakfast and coming in before noon, the opposite of what I usually do.

Three weeks ago, the plant table looked like this:

This morning, it looked like this:

Here are some of the flowers in pots by our entryway, their cheery colors ready to greet visitors.

A closer look at the violas, or Johnny-jump-ups as they are also called around here.

But for me, none of the newbies can compare with the irises, which have been here for over thirty years.

With such beauty, a closer look is definitely in order.

On this second week in June, the intense gardening is coming to an end. From here on out, it will be maintenance, feeding, watering, and weeding. A part of me is relieved. Planting and getting the beds ready have been a lot of work. But a part of me is also a little sorry that the rush of spring planting has come to an end. A busy time, yes, but also an exciting time.

My gardens are most definitely June and July gardens. Accordingly, for the next couple months, my blog will feature many pictures of the bursts of color that come briefly to this shady yard.

When you have to wait nine months—almost like having a baby—for flowers, the pleasure is oh so sweet when they finally bloom.

 

 

Judy’s Hosta Plus a Couple More

Long-time readers will know that hostas are a major feature in my gardens. For years, I went for plants that had glorious blooms. One after another, I lost those plants. All right. I’ll admit it. I craved a cottage garden. But, when you live in the woods, you are doomed to heartache if you try for a cottage garden.

A few years (and tears) ago, I gave in to hostas, especially in the driest beds.¬† My moister beds do have a little more variety, but even in them, there are many plants that won’t thrive.

Slowly, I learned to appreciate hostas and the wave of various shades of green they bring to the front yard. Their blossoms are modest but pleasing. (Be gone, all thoughts of corn flowers!) But here’s the most important factor of all: They grow and flourish where most plants just fizzle. Snail and slugs might munch their leaves to lace, but the hostas are not intimidated. Each year, they rebound with vigor. Surely there is a lesson in all of this.

My blogging friend Judy of New England Garden and Thread is also a fan of hostas. Last year, during the height of the pandemic, she sent me a package, which—lo and behold!—contained a hosta. It was a little droopy, but I know how sturdy hostas are, and I planted it right away.

Judy, you will not surprised to learn that this hosta is thriving. Here is a picture of that beauty, whose name I’ve unfortunately forgotten.

Many thanks, Judy!

And here are a couple more pictures of some of the hostas in my garden. Just because.

Rainy Day Photos from the Garden

Yesterday, the rain came, not driving but instead light and perfect, which nonetheless brought us a goodly amount. Three or four inches, I think. Unfortunately, I don’t have a rain gauge.

Too bad it had to happen on Memorial Day weekend—a holiday in this country where we honor those who have died in military service. We also mourn friends and family who have passed. But there is no denying the rain is much needed. It has been a dry spring.

Here are some scenes from a grateful garden. Or maybe it’s the gardener who is grateful.

Spring Cat & The Last Episode of my podcast

Because of a busy Wednesday, I am posting one day early. Sometimes schedules must be rearranged.

Much to my astonishment, my shady front gardens, where few plants like to grow, are looking pretty darned good as my Yankee husband would say. I chalk it up to the thick layer of rich compost they received as well as to the hoses for the front that we bought last year. Watering is ever so much easier than it was when I had to haul it in buckets from around back where the spigot is. Thanks, Eliza, for the hose suggestion. This has been a dry spring, and the hose has gotten a lot of use.

Right now, white and green are the predominate colors, and in a perfect garden, there wouldn’t be so much sweet woodruff. But as I indicated in the first paragraph, the front gardens are a far sight from perfect. While it would be an exaggeration to state that I let the sweet woodruff spread at will, I do let the plant spread, and right now it’s looking mighty pretty, a froth of white that spills through the beds.

The sweet woodruff even surrounds my garden cat who serenely keeps watch over the front yard.

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Today marks the last instalment of “The Wings of Luck,” Season 1 of my podcast, Tales from the Other Green Door. In “Blood Bond,” Episode 12, Jace and Thirret deal with Donod and the imps. They also worry about their jusqua child Iris, whose supreme self-confidence is sure to bring trouble sooner or later.

There will be more stories about the elves of Portland, Maine. As I mentioned in last week’s podcast post, we plan to drop Season 2 sometime in 2022, after At Sea, Book Four in my Great Library series, is finished. Until then, all the episodes of Season 1 will be available on our Hinterlands Press website and wherever you get podcasts.

Thanks for listening! And if you enjoyed this podcast, please share it with others who might like it.

Busy, Busy, Busy and Books, Books, Books

Spring is galloping toward summer, and I am scrabbling to keep up. I’m not behind, which is a win for me. But there is a lot of planting to do, and that will be my focus for the next couple of weeks. Onward, ho!

However, I did take the time to visit our local Barnes & Noble this weekend. Shane Malcolm Billings, who once worked at our town’s library, alerted me that a certain series was displayed not once but twice in the store—with local writers and in the YA fantasy section. (Shane now works at Barnes & Noble as well as at another library.)

First, with local writers. What a treat for this indie writer to see her books displayed all in a row—Maya and the Book of Everything, Library Lost, and Out of Time.

Then in the Young Adult fantasy section. There was even a blurb/recommendation written by none other than Shane. Many thanks, Shane, for your wonderful support!

When the staff became aware of who I was and why I was there—to photograph my books—they asked if I would sign all the copies.

This I did, and the books received an “autographed” sticker.

After which Clif and I went out to celebrate with ice cream.

And here this short post will end. Usually, I feature links to other blogs, but until the plants are planted and spring chores are finished, I must be brief.

When this crazy but wonderful season is over, I will be back to a more normal blogging schedule.

Until then…

Plant-o-palooza & Episode 11 of the podcast

Is this a table at someone’s plant sale? No, it is not. This is my haul after going to a local plant nursery the other day. The abundance is courtesy of my generous daughters and son-in-law, who gave me gift certificates, allowing me to splurge.

I like most aspects of gardening. Even weeding doesn’t bother me. However, what I especially love is planting annuals in various pots and containers. Somehow I find the process soothing, and the promise of flowers and bounty never fails to lift my spirits.

From my back garden, a little something extra, a dose of perennial beauty. Love that mouth-watering purple. Irises are one of my favorite flowers, and lucky for me, they will grow in my shady yard on the edge of the forest.

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Speaking of Iris…here is “Reckonings,” Episode 11 of “The Wings of Luck” from my podcast Tales from the Other Green Door. In “Reckonings,” after dealing with Iris, Jace and Thirret take Donod and the imps into the woods. Episode 11 is the penultimate episode of “The Wings of Luck,”and next week, Season 1 will come to an end. We have plans for Season 2 to air in 2022, after I’ve finished At Sea, Book Four in my Great Library Series.

A blog about nature, home, community, books, writing, the environment, food, and rural life.