Category Archives: Flowers

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.

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.

No-Mow May & Episode 10 of My Podcast

Being Franco-American, I like things to be tidy and spic-and-span. Even though I don’t have the time or energy to clean the way I once did—writing, in various formats, absorbs much of my day—our home and yard are always neat and picked up. That way, when I do have the opportunity to clean, I don’t have to bother with putting things away first.

Usually, we start mowing the yard sometime the second week of May. Because we live in the woods, our lawn is spotty in the spring, but there are still areas that look downright shaggy. This nags at my Franco-American sensibility.

This year, however, we are adopting a new routine—no-mow May—and will be waiting until June before cutting the grass. In many places around the world, May is a time of abundant bloom. My blogging friends in warmer climates have posted many photos of all the glorious May flowers in their yards and and in wild areas near their homes. However, in the northern United States and in Canada, the riotous blossoming doesn’t start until late May or early June. In Maine, May is a pretty sparse time for all the pollinating insects.

Therefore, gardening and nature experts are advising northern homeowners to wait to mow until June when there are plenty of flowers for the pollinators. This we will do. After all, where in the world would we be without our pollinators? In tough shape, that’s for sure.

So for this month, I’ll try not to mind the shaggy bits in our yard. Instead, I’ll think of all the little buzzers who bring so much life to our town. Those dandelions and scraggly areas are there for you, my pollinating friends.

Heck, I’ll even go low for a picture of the violets that are dotting our backyard. Between exercising and losing weight, I can actually lie on the ground to take pictures and then get up all by myself. Progress!

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Today, “Showdown at Crescent Beach,” Episode 10 of “The Wings of Luck,” is available on my podcast Tales from the Other Green Door. Two more to go until the end of this story and Season 1. In “Showdown at Crescent Beach,” Jace, Thirret, and Niall discover that Iris has tricked them and has put them all in danger.

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.

Some Thoughts on Labor Day 2020

This morning the sky was a bright overcast, a perfect time for poking around the yard and taking pictures of small things. The flowers are definitely past their best, but there are a few bright spots here and there.

Perky Black-eyed Susans,

Asters, those stars of fall,

and bright wands of Goldenrod.

In the United States, today is Labor Day, which Wikipedia defines as “a federal holiday in the United States celebrated on the first Monday in September to honor and recognize the American labor movement and the works and contributions of laborers to the development and achievements of the United States.”

I think of my Franco-American ancestors—potato farmers and factory workers—mocked and derided for being “dumb Frenchman.” In truth, these “dumb Frenchman” did much of the hard, back-breaking labor that kept Maine going. Why weren’t they respected for the work they did? Even today, the contributions of Franco-Americans are seldom acknowledged.

If we cast the circle wider to encompass other ethnic groups and workers—the ones who pick our crops, the ones who work in stores, the ones who bravely go forth during this pandemic so that we can eat and have the necessities of life—we see that the same sort of disrespect is extended to them. Somehow these workers are so lowly that they do not deserve a decent wage, health care, or affordable housing and transportation.

To borrow from my blogging friends across the pond, rubbish! Covid-19 has revealed exactly who is essential and who is not.

So on this Labor Day, and indeed on every other day, let’s honor the men and women who work so hard and get so little. And, maybe, just maybe, we can think about what we, as a society, can do to make their lives a little more comfortable.

And then put those thoughts into actions.

 

 

 

The Heat Is on

The end of July. It is 80° F first thing in the morning. Too hot and humid to go on the exercise bike for 38 minutes, the way I do most days. Even though we have Eva, our AC unit, in the living room, there’s a limit to what she can cool. The exercise bike is at the other end of the house, away from the lovely  Eva.

The heat is supposed to break on Wednesday. Until then, I’ll skip the exercise bike. The road to nowhere can wait.

Fortunately, as Judy from NewEnglandGardenAndThread noted, the flowers don’t mind the heat.

The daylilies continue to punctuate my mostly green yard with bursts of different colors.

Tootlepedal, here’s a yellow one for you.

Knowing we can depend on Eva to bring the temperature down inside, Clif and I brave the heat and humidity to have drinks and appetizers on the patio.

Little Miss Watson gets her own drink.

And Bertie, the flying pig, is surrounded by blossoms.

Readers, it surely has been the strangest summer we’ve ever had. It seems endless, as though we have been suspended in some kind of hothouse heat trap. Part of me wishes it would end, and then another part of me thinks ahead to colder weather when there will be no drinks on the patio, and Clif and I will be mostly inside.

There is a bright note to all this. Because of all the biking I’ve been doing—and the weight I’ve been losing—my knees are getting better. As soon as it’s too chilly to sit on the patio, I’ll dust off my sneakers and start going for walks at least a few days a week.

The walks won’t substitute for going out and about around town, for visiting with friends, for having family come to stay. But at least I’ll see something besides the inside of the house.

After all, there’s a limit, even for a homebody.

 

Waking Up to a Heat Advisory

Early this morning when I checked my phone, I saw there was a message for a heat advisory for Kennebec County, where I live.  The temperature is supposed to climb to the 90s, with heat indices between 95 and 100. Readers, that is hot. And the air is so humid it almost feels solid, as though I have to push to get through it.

This was the temperature when I got up. Please note that the thermometer is in the shade.

On went Eva, our new AC. She’s in the living room, but she helps bring down the temperature in the whole house. Thank goodness for Eva. Without her, I wouldn’t be able to work in this heat. And deadlines are approaching…

As grateful as I am to Eva, I resent being trapped inside by the heat. Outside, the patio beckons.

Daylilies have begun to bloom and the bee balm is glorious this year.

My usual habit is to go on the patio around 4:30 with a drink—usually non-alcoholic—and a snack. Especially during the coronavirus, it is the highlight of my day.

But not when there’s a heat advisory. Fortunately, the weather is supposed to break tonight, and tomorrow’s forecast is for a perfect summer’s day. After my work is done, I’ll be back on the patio!

 

 

Hot, Hot, Hot!

It has been so hot this June that heat records have been broken all over Maine. In addition, there has been so little rain that I have had to water portions of my garden every day.

Unfortunately, our hose does not reach around to the front yard. Thank goodness for my little blue cart, which we originally bought for hauling books and display items to various fairs. This summer, with all fairs canceled owing to covid-19, I am using the cart to haul water.

Back and forth, back and forth, I go, feeling a bit like Gérard Depardieu in the excellent movie Jean de Florette. Fortunately, I don’t have to carry water on my back, the way he did.

And, I don’t have ratty Daniel Auteuil conniving to deprive me of water.

Still, hauling gallons and gallons of water out front every day certainly gives me a work out. My legs feel it at the end of the day.

In past years, Clif and I have casually discussed putting a water spigot out front, but in truth we’ve never really needed it. Usually Maine has an ample supply of rain, and I haven’t had to water much.

However, Maine is changing. The day might soon come when we put a spigot out front, just as we bought an air conditioner this year to deal with the extreme heat.

Fortunately, despite the heat, the backyard cools down at night. The evening primroses have started to bloom, bringing a jaunty touch of yellow to the various shades of green.

Around 6:00, Clif and I settle down to a light supper as the birds flutter and sing, coming for their own water and food.

Despite the heat, despite covid-19, we have our patio and backyard on the edge of the woods, a place of deep green beauty and mystery.

 

 

 

 

I’ll Keep Trying

Spring is most definitely here.

The lawns are abloom with tiny spring flowers that are not always easy for the wee camera to photograph. But by gum, yesterday the light must have been just right for the camera to capture this dandelion,

some violets,

and even this tiny flower on a plant I was given and have no idea what it is.

No blooms yet in the back garden, but I did come across this feather.

Even though there are no flowers, everything is growing splendidly, and I love the green of spring.

Yesterday, we put out the hummingbird feeders.

Already, the little will-o’-the-wisps have begun coming to the feeder.

It is not easy for me to get a picture of them, but I’ll keep trying.

A Nugget of Gold in My Freezer

On Saturday, I delivered a birthday package to the little boy next door. Inside was a toy dinosaur. The boy is crazy about all things dinosaur, and he wants to be a paleontologist when he grows up. Or at least he did the last time I saw him, several months ago. With his mother’s permission, I tucked the package in the family mailbox across the street from their house. As I walked home, I was treated to a bird symphony of spring songs. What a delight!

As I listened the birds’ sweet songs, it seemed to me that things were much the way they have always been in April, with Spring slowly tiptoeing onto our road, into our yard. An illusion, I know. The coronavirus is ripping around the world, leaving death and misery in its wake.

But still. In my back garden bright green shoots of irises and daylilies are emerging.

They are joined by the dark red leaves of evening primroses, which tend to be hogs and need thinning every year. Good thing the yellow flowers are so pretty. I will bring some of the cast-off plants to the birthday boy’s mother.  Last year she said she would like evening primroses for her garden. I can leave a couple of pots at the end of her driveway. (This is the same neighbor who brings eggs and won’t take any payment for them.)

With weather that is sunny and somewhat warm, I long to be out, the first time I’ve felt this way since last fall. Soon it will be hard to sit at my desk and write as the outside calls to me. But I’ll do it. Now that the children are grown, writing is the center of my life. However, my yard and gardens are a close second, and come spring it is never easy to stay inside.

Yesterday, as I was digging around the diminishing supplies in my little chest freezer down cellar, I found a square of Parmesan. If my creaky knees had allowed, I would have jumped for joy. It was like finding a nugget of gold. As I beheld the cheese, one dish immediately came to mind: Spaghetti with fried eggs, introduced to me by the inimitable Mark Bittman.

Bittman describes this dish as something that you turn to when you don’t have much time. Or much in your larder. Readers, it is so much more than that. For someone like me—who loves eggs, olive oil, garlic, and pasta—spaghetti and fried eggs qualifies as an honest-to-gosh treat.

Here are some pictures illustrating the process, which takes no more than a half hour from beginning to end.

First, brown two crushed garlic cloves in olive oil.

Discard the cloves when they are brown and crack four eggs into the olive oil. Simmer the eggs in the oil just until the whites are slightly set but the yolks are not cooked.

Dump this glorious mixture into a pot of piping hot spaghetti and stir until the eggs are broken up. The hot spaghetti will finish cooking the eggs.

Et violà. Top with plenty of grated cheese and lots of pepper for a special meal on a day when you are unconcerned about calories.

Note: For some reason, I don’t have the heart to post coronovirus statistics and the news from afar. Maybe it’s because spring has finally arrived.

Who knows? But for now, anyway, it’s back to writing about life at our home in the woods.