Cutting Back to Two Posts a Week

As Stephen Foster once put it, this is the merry, merry month of May. The grass is greening, the dandelions are blooming, and the birds are singing.

For Mainers who garden, it is also the busy, busy month of May. In northern New England, spring is a rushed affair. By the time mid-June rolls around, the gardens are so well established that you had better have all the composting, fertilizing, and moving of plants done or you are out of luck and out of time.

To add to the merriment, I am also in the thickets of At Sea, Book Four in my Great Library Series. My current podcast story is winding down, but I’m still working on it. Then there is blogging, and while the writing is more casual, I spend a fair amount of time on each post, even fluff ones such as my Friday Favorites.

In my younger days, I could have managed it all and still have energy leftover for night-time projects. I kid you not. Once the children were in bed, I used to do fun little things like, say, paint cupboards or clean out a closet. As I look back at my younger self, I marvel at how much energy I had. Now that I am a senior, evenings are spent watching an hour or two of television before going to bed far earlier than I ever would have imagined when I was in my twenties or thirties.

This is a roundabout way of explaining that I will no longer be blogging three days a week—Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Instead, I am cutting back to Monday and Wednesday for the foreseeable future. Having an extra day to work on my book will be a big help. And who knows? Some rainy day, I might even be able to clean out a closet. We’ll see. Books, podcasts, and gardening always seem take precedence.

I will still be reading and commenting on other blogs. Such a wonderful community and a real source of comfort during the past year, which has been scary and lonely and just plain stressful.

Also, on Mondays, I will continue featuring posts from other blogging friends. I enjoy looking outward as well as inward, and it is my pleasure to share posts from folks near and far. Formerly, I did this on my Friday posts, and I decided it was a feature I want to keep even though I am cutting back.

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So here are some  posts from blogging friends near and far:

On the green banks next to green water, Clover and Ivy found a lone goose to add more atmosphere to this already moody picture.

On Thistles and Kiwis, along with the usual photos of mouth-watering food, is a photo of a tree with foliage so glorious it made my heart leap.

Ju-Lyn, of Touring my Backyard, takes a detour that brings her to some wonderful, funky public art.

 

Friday Favorites: Farmer Kev & Sister Hazel

This week, on a lovely day in May, we received the first farm share delivery from our very own Farmer Kev, a young farmer extraordinaire and a friend of the family. Farmer Kev has a farm and co-op and delivers a mix of things that he grows as well as items “from away,” as we Mainers would put it. From his co-op, you can order an astonishing range of items ranging from eggs to tofu to nondairy cream cheese.

Here is a picture of Farmer Kev.

Farmer Kev’s Organic publicity photo

 

Sometime this summer, I hope to go to his farm, take pictures, and do a short interview with him for the blog.

In the meantime, here is a picture of what was delivered on Tuesday.

The greens are from his farm, and I immediately wash, spin, and package them so that they are ready to eat whenever we want to make a salad.

The other vegetables are from away, but they taste amazingly fresh and delicious.

We have paid ahead for four seasons of Farmer Kev’s Organic, and I can’t think of a better way to spend the money.

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I came of age in the 1970s during the time of the great singer-song writers—Carole King, James Taylor, and Joni Mitchell. The Rolling Stones were going strong. Ditto for David Bowie. In short, folk and rock are in my DNA. This is the music of my youth, and I still love it.

However, luckily for me, I have children who came of age in the 1990s, and what a time for music it was. As with so many things, my girls broadened my musical horizons, and it didn’t take me long to become a big fan of alternative rock—Counting Crows, REM, Pearl Jam, and Sister Hazel.

So here’s a trip back to the 90s with Sister Hazel. At the risk of sounding nostalgic, I do have yearnings for the time when gas was less than $1 a gallon, and climate change was still just a blip on the horizon (I know, I know. climate change was there, and we should have been paying attention.) Authoritarianism seemed to be on the wane, and there was even a book published called The End of History. (Again, I know, I know.) The 90s also saw the rise of independent cinema along with the rise of alternative music.

I could go on extolling the virtues of the 90s, But I’ll stop and leave you with “All for You” by Sister Hazel. I hope you enjoy this trip down memory lane.

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Simple pleasures and favorites from blogging friends:

It’s fall in New Zealand, and this week on Thistles and Kiwis, yellow calla lilies and crunchy leaves are celebrated. And rightly so.

The pandemic has been with us for well over a year, and I think for many of us, even the homebodies, it has been crushing at times. But with the vaccines there are glimmers of light, and on Piglet in Portugal, there is a rejoicing in going and out and about again.

In Something over Tea, there is a lovely floral surprise to brighten the day.

In Touring My Backyard, Ju-Lyn finds “respite in running, in nature.”

 

 

Pink blossom against dried Leaves & Episode 9 of My Podcast

Last week, the rain came and beat down this pink hyacinth in leaves of the yet to be cleaned garden bed. It seemed to me that fall and spring, those opposites, were meeting for a final farewell before I removed the leaves.

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It’s Wednesday, time for another episode from my podcast Tales from the Other Green Door. Here is Episode 9 of The Wings of Luck: “An Elfling, a Grenog, and an Onnea Go for a Bike Ride.” Iris, surely one of the most confident elflings in Portland, Maine, puts her plans into motion. Onward, ho!

And for those who might need to catch up, here is a link to the podcast on our Hinterlands Press website, where the episodes are available in descending order.

A Time of Delight

Beautiful May is here. Although there are no showy blooms in my yard in the woods, there are little delights sprinkled here and there.

In the front yard, tiny bluets on our mossy lawn.

In the backyard, equally tiny white violets.

All around, ferns continue to unfurl.

In the raised garden in the backyard, everything is green, but as my blogging friend Quercus has reminded me, green is a color, too. The emerging plants are so lovely and fresh, and in some ways, this is how I love them best, before the ravages of little chomping creatures.

In the shadier front yard, the plants aren’t as far along, but they are coming up, and I only have one more bed to clean.

I’m hoping to get the last bed done before Wednesday, when Clif and I are scheduled to have our second vaccine.

Spring time, busy time. But what a glorious time.

Friday Favorites: Moss Garden Progress, Peter the Potter, Lake Street Dive

The last day of April, and there is a steady rain, much needed as the month has been dry enough for there to be fire warnings. For us, the rain couldn’t have come at a better time. A day or two ago, Clif removed moss from the roof of our little shed and added it to our moss garden. I have read that moss needs to be watered regularly for it to take, and there is no watering like a steady rain.

Here is a picture of the moss garden to date. Regular readers will notice what we have added—a cement lantern, which we had put in a  side garden. As a result, the lantern was mostly unseen. Clif and I thought it was time for the lantern to come out front and shine.

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Readers who are fans of the wonderful The Great Pottery Throwdown will recognize the man in the picture below. His name is Peter White, and he was one of the potters in Season 4, which ended not long ago. For me, he stands out among the other potters—all who are excellent in their own way—because of his age and his willingness to learn new things. Peter turned 70 not long ago, and a clip on the Throwdown featured him expressing his desire to keep learning, no matter how old he is.

His attitude both inspires me and captures the way I feel about writing, which I have been doing for a long time. Nevertheless, even though I am not young, I always seek to be a better writer. Peter, who was not at the top of the pack at the beginning of Season 4, exemplified how being open and willing to learn can go a long way toward improvement.

And for those who have not seen Season 4, well, you will just have to watch for yourselves to see how far Peter rose.

PR picture from The Great Pottery Throwdown

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As for music…hot off the Tiny Desk (Home) Concert press—Lake Street Dive!

Rachel Price, the lead vocalist, has such a wonderful voice that it gives me the shivers. Her voice is smooth without being cloying or overly sentimental. Wowsah, that woman can sing!

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Favorites and Simple Pleasures from Blogging Friends:

For sheer lovleliness and wisdom, Xenia Tran’s Tranature is an oasis in a harsh, often chaotic world. One of her posts this week—Puente Poetry: Presence—captures the sadness and beauty of living.

Alys, from Gardening Nirvana, chronicles how her spider plants went from being indoor plants to thriving outside in her garden in sunny California. (New Englanders, do not try this at home.) She then goes on to compare the plants to bloggers. Alys concludes “You follow bloggers, they follow you, and before you know it, you’ve found a community.” Absolutely, and how wonderful.

Amanda, from Something to Ponder About, writes in praise of solar energy. In Australia, where she lives, “1 in 5 houses now produces energy from solar systems.” And this includes her own house. Yay!

Among other delights, in This Week’s Small Pleasures, Thistles and Kiwis features tall evergreens against a bright blue sky. To this Mainer, there is no finer sight.

In Touring my Backyard, Ju-Lyn rejoices in sunshine after a rainy spell. And perhaps even more important, getting her first vaccine. Great news, Ju-Lyn!

 

Denizens of the Leafy Floor & Episode 8 of Tales from the Other Green Door

Because we live in the woods, we are surrounded by ferns, and I love seeing them come up in the spring. Like most young things, they are tender and fresh with a soft color that comes only with being new.

Here are pictures of ferns that are growing beside our driveway. I am pretty sure they are cinnamon ferns, but blogging friends, if you know otherwise, please correct me.

Let’s take a closer look.

I am fascinated by the fuzzy white overcoat that will go away as the fern matures and the coiled outline of the leaves tucked underneath.

So tiny and sweet.

In spring, I am always reminded of Wordsworth’s “Nature never did betray the heart that loved her.”

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I’m coming down the homestretch with The Wings of Luck, Season 1 of my podcast, Tales from the Other Green Door. This week is Episode 8: “What Iris Knew,” in which Iris takes matters into her own hands. Four more episodes to go!

Mossy Beginnings and Diderot’s Chairs

Spring, as chilly as usual, has unfurled itself in Maine. And for me, not a moment too soon. As I have discussed with some of my blogging friends, I seem to be in a funk where nothing I read or watch pleases me. I suppose it must be because of the pandemic, where even someone like me—a homebody who’s safe and secure—feels the weight of the past year.

Whatever the reason, it is such a relief to go outside most afternoons to work in my gardens. Felder Rushing, in his book Maverick Gardeners, has encouraged me to embrace my unconventional approach to gardening. In short, I am letting loose all my wild, creative gardening impulses, and it feels great. For the past year, we have been so confined, and how freeing it is to be unconfined in the garden.

Along those lines—we have begun creating our driveway moss garden because, why not? We don’t really need that end for a driveway anyway.

As we slowly add some gathered local moss, random bits have been seeding themselves in, encouraging us to think we are on the right track. The shape looks a little bit like the state of Maine. Not planned, I assure you.

We will continue to seed in moss as time allows, taking care to water on days when it doesn’t rain. Now, when this moss garden is done, I could just leave it alone in its green loveliness. Or, I could add small garden ornaments to dress it up a little. H-m-m-m, I wonder which way I’ll go…

Readers might remember that about a week ago, we got new chairs for our patio. What a delight to see them next to our glass table. But then we put in the umbrella, even older than the replaced chairs, which are twenty years old.

Clif said, “That old umbrella looks pretty shabby.”

“Sure does,” I replied. “Especially next to those new chairs.”

This put me in mind of Diderot’s dressing gown or bathrobe, as we say here. Diderot, you will recall, was one of the luminaries of the French Enlightenment and is perhaps best known for his contributions to Encyclopedia, or a Systematic Dictionary of the Sciences, Arts, and Crafts. Most people sensibly refer to it as Encyclopedia.

But Diderot is also known for his red dressing gown, given to him by a friend who had noticed how threadbare Diderot’s old dressing gown was. (I want to note that none of my adult friends have ever seen me in a dressing gown.)

At first, Diderot was pleased with his new dressing gown, but then he noticed how dumpy his study looked in comparison. One thing led to another, and in the end, Diderot spent more money than he should have refurbishing his study so that it would go along with his snazzy new dressing gown.

This story points the way to what happened next on our patio.

That’s right. A new umbrella.

As the comedian Jerry Seinfeld might have asked, “When’s it going to end?”

 

Friday Favorites: Compost, Maverick Gardeners, C. Tangana

All right, confession time: Few things fill me with more joy than  rich, dark compost does. If this makes me sound like a gardening nerd, then so be it. And when the compost is free, well, even better. For home gardeners, our town’s transfer station offers compost for the taking.

Behold a mountain of black gold,

where Clif digs with his trusty spade.

Voila! Compost at home waiting to be spread. Be still my trembling heart.

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Now,  you might be asking yourself, “What can compete with compost?” How about a book about wildly creative, eccentric gardeners? Yes, please! Enter Felder Rushing’s Maverick Gardeners: Dr. Dirt and Other Determined Independent Gardeners, introduced to me by my blogging friend Susan Rushton.

I cannot overstate how much I am enjoying this book about folks who, as Rushing describes it, color outside the lines when it comes to gardening. From photos and descriptions, I gather that Rushing is this kind of gardener, someone who tosses out the notions of perfect plantings and tasteful groupings and instead goes for wild creativity. It seems that I am that kind of gardener too, with an inordinate fondness for folderol and ornaments tucked among the plants. Then there is my obsession with moss. How I love moss, which grows on my front lawn, on my driveway, and even on the roofs (or rooves, as we say in Maine) of our house and shed.

Reading Maverick Gardeners feels like discovering a community of kindred spirits, exactly what I need right now in this time of the pandemic, which can throw even the most buoyant spirit into a funk.

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For music, once more to NPR’s Tiny Desk Home Concerts. One of the things I especially love about Tiny Desk is how it introduces me to music and musicians I never would have heard of otherwise. So it is with C. Tangana, a Spanish rapper who got together with his extended family to make this extraordinary video that features musicians and singers of all ages. Note how in the back right corner, his mom and aunt are really into this concert. Finally, you don’t have to understand a word of Spanish to be moved by the music.

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Favorites and small pleasures from blogging friends:

From Thistles and Kiwi, food, glorious food, and an equally glorious blue sky.

Alys, from Gardening Nirvana, has put together a lovely collage of what’s blooming in her garden right now. There might be a sweet kitty in the mix, too.

Ju-Lyn, of Touring My Backyard, extols the loveliness of rain, especially when she is watching from her balcony.

If you would like to have a post featured on my weekly Friday Favorites, let me know, and I will include it.

 

Happy Earth Day 2021

Today, as you all know, is Earth Day. In our household, in addition to celebrating this beautiful planet we live on, we also celebrate the birthday of our beautiful daughter Shannon. Because she and her husband live in North Carolina, we will actually be celebrating, via Zoom, on Saturday. But today is the anniversary of the day she was born forty-two years ago. Happy, happy, happy, Earth Day girl!

This year, to honor Earth Day, here are some pictures of small things taken in my very own yard. Now, I love grand vistas as much as the next person does, but there is a special place in my heart for the small things in the world—creatures that hop, creep, or fly as well as tiny plants that often go unnoticed as we hurry from task to task.

They have their own quiet beauty if we but take the time to look.

Happy Earth Day to you all!

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