New Blue Chairs

On Saturday, there was great excitement at our home in the woods. Six new chairs were delivered for our patio—our living room as soon as the weather is good.

Because we are Mainers, Clif and I are not ones to get rid of things willy-nilly. Mindful of both the drain on our budget and the drain on the environment, we like to keep things as long as possible.

And so it was with our previous chairs, which we had had for twenty years. The seats were, ahem, tired. Very tired. (One had even ripped.) Twice we had scraped and repainted the arms and legs, but the rust was making such inroads that a third time seemed like a fool’s errand.  In short, it was time for new chairs.

And here they are!

Naturally, we needed to have drinks to celebrate the arrival of chairs that not only look good but are also comfortable.

May the new chairs last as long as their predecessors did!

As for the old chairs…Did we toss them out? We did not. Instead, we tucked them down cellar to be used—primarily by Clif and me— when we need more than six chairs.

After all, we don’t want to get too drastic about throwing things out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Problem Solved: I’m Now Getting Email Updates from Blogs I Follow

Today’s Friday Favorites has been preempted by a Friday unfavorite— WordPress.com—and a solution to a problem they created that is even worse than Block Editor.

As some of you might know, for the past few days I have not been receiving email updates from WordPress blogs I follow. This has  been a very bad thing for me as I follow a lot of blogs, and email updates are a huge help. For the past two days, I have been blundering around in an attempt to keep up.

Readers, this was not a happy time.

Clif, who is my site’s chief administrator and all around computer guy, checked the settings on his WordPress profile. A day ago, he found that unbeknownst to us, a box had been ticked in a section called “Block Emails.”  (Thank you, WordPress poltergeist.) He promptly unchecked it.

Problem solved? Not quite.

I, too, am an administrator, and that dastardly “Block Emails” box was also ticked on my WordPress profile. The box was duly unticked. (On the other hand, I am still ticked off that WordPress would torment me this way.)  But hallelujah and glory be, I am now getting blog post notices in my email.

I mention all this because a blogging friend noted that she hadn’t been receiving many email updates, either.

So I figured—yes, friend, this can happen to you.

Should this indeed happen, here is a screen grab that Clif put together to help you escape from the WordPress poltergeist that wants to block bloggers from receiving email updates.

Here are Clif’s instructions:

“Go to the upper right corner of WordPress and click on your profile picture. This will take you to a page called “My Profile.”  On the left side, choose Notification settings. Then go to the Reader Subscriptions tab at the top. Click on this. At the bottom, you will find a section Block emails.

Uncheck this puppy if you want to receive email updates from blogs you follow on WordPress.com.

Good luck. I hope you never have to use these instructions.

Here is my conclusion: WordPress is a giddy thing. Fortunately for them, the WordPress community is so wonderful—supportive, entertaining, illuminating. Otherwise, we’d never put up with their shenanigans.

 

Chickens in the Woods and Episode 6 of my podcast tales from the other green door

Late afternoon, when we sit on the patio, we hear their gentle scratching as they look for tasty tidbits at the edge of the woods. We raise our glasses to the chickens: Get those ticks!

*******************

Another Wednesday, and another episode of my podcast, Tales from the Other Green Door. In “Iris’s Flash,” Episode 6 of the story The Wings of Luck, Iris has a premonition of things going horribly, horribly wrong.

*******************

Finally, on another subject…for some reason known only to the WordPress gods, I have not been getting email notices of new posts from all my lovely blogging friends. When Clif and I checked the settings on WordPress, we noticed that the box for receiving email notices was not ticked. Why? Who knows? As far as I can remember, I did not go to that setting and untick the box. Anyway, the box is now ticked, and I hope I will resume getting email notices. Fingers, toes, and everything else crossed because for me this is the best way of keeping up with everyone’s blogs.

Goings-on in the Backyard in April

So far, April has been very kind to Mainers. The weather has been warm—at times downright hot—and the bugs have been few. The mud is pretty much gone. Accordingly, we have been diligently working on spring chores.

For our wood stove, we get blocks of wood delivered on pallets.  Over the past two years, we have acquired quite a collection of them. Time for Handyman Clif to break out his hammer and saw and take them apart. Some of the wood will be used for projects, and some of it will be used in our fire pit when the kids come for a visit this summer.

As for me…my job is to rake the yard and clear the gardens.

Before, in the backyard.

And after.

However hard we work, we are never too busy to take a break on the patio and watch the fluttering beauties that come and go.

Somehow, I never get tired of taking pictures of cardinals. Part of me can’t believe that we actually have them in our backyard. Cardinals are relative newcomers to Maine, and Clif’s mother and my mother died before ever having a chance to view one of these lovelies. How I wish they had lived long enough to see them.

Here is the flashy male,

and his less flashy but still attractive mate.

We do have other birds visit us, including chipper little chickadees, our state bird.

And robins, which we actually don’t see that often. I think they like open areas better.

We have other birds visit us, too, and I will be ready with the camera to take picture of them.

Now, onward to the front yard!

 

Friday Favorites: A New Frog, Backyard Visitors, a Sara Kays Song

Jackie Knight is an indefatigable gardener with a penchant for owl garden ornaments. On his blog, her husband Derrick Knight has noted that Jackie has 100 or so owls in her delightful gardens.

My penchant is for amphibians, primarily toads and frogs, and I have my own little collection of garden ornaments. Recently, I was inspired by Jackie’s example, and I ordered another frog to add to the group that hangs out by our porch in Toad Hollow. (Frogs are welcome, too!)

This new frog also has a solar light, which gives it an oh-so-lovely glow. I will never have as many amphibians as Jackie has owls. Unlike her, I have to bring my buddies in for the winter. But it’s fun to add a new one to the group every now and then. A simple pleasure, to be sure.

An even simpler pleasure is to sit on the patio in late afternoon and see the little visitors that come to our yard in the woods.

There are cardinals,

mourning doves,

and chipmunks. (This one is a particularly feisty critter who charged a pair of mourning doves. Wish I had gotten a picture of that.)

Watching over it all is Mei Ling, who bears strong resemblance to the chien-gardes, magical relics that are featured in my podcast Tales from the Other Green Door. 

For music for this week’s Friday Favorites, I chose Sara Kays, a very young singer—she’s twenty-two—who got her start on TikTok.   The song I’m featuring—“Remember that Night?”— deals with romantic love and loss, themes that are of central importance to teens and young adults. But even we older folks can cast our minds back to those days when someone we dearly loved stopped loving us. It happens to most people. And while we move on and usually find someone who suits us better, we can remember, with a bit of nostalgia and sadness, an early love that didn’t last. Kays reminds me of Joni Mitchell, a little, and Aimee Mann. I’m hoping to hear more from this talented, soulful newcomer.

Favorites and simple pleasures from blogging friends:

From Book Chat with Shane, his 10 Most Anticipated Books. Shane was once the Adult Services Librarian at our town’s library, and his devotion to books fills my heart with joy. Shane’s favorite genres are literary fiction, thrillers, and mysteries, but from time to time he also adds a dash of fantasy to his reading.

The Curious Introvert, in Today’s Musings, takes solace in both nature and culture. Michigan, where she lives, has been designated as the country’s Covid-19 epicenter. Sigh. Let’s hope that spring and vaccinations soon put a stop to this rampaging virus.

Thistles and Kiwis rejoices in fall colors, food, and an Easter celebration.

And Ju-Lyn, from Touring My Backyard, is fascinated by the art of the staff.

 

Words on Wednesday: Wee Stairs & Episode 5 of my Podcast

The snow has gone, and the ground is fairly dry. Time for yard work, an hour or two each day, tucked in among writing and other chores. While I resent vacuuming, and dusting, I never seem to mind work in the yard. Bring on raking, picking up branches, and clipping unwanted trees and plants. All are a pleasure to me. I suppose it’s because I am outside, under the sky, and all around, I can hear the birds singing their spring songs.

The other day, while I was picking up branches, I came upon these little beauties. They reminded me of wee stairs, and I could visualize sprites and other small creatures climbing them to have drinks on a stump deck. After all, winter keeps them inside, too, and spring is a time for getting out and rejoicing.

Because it’s Wednesday, it’s time for the newest episode of my podcast, Tales from the Other Green Door. In “Donod Ashglade,” Episode 5 of The Wings of Luck, Jace and Thirret meet the elf who is behind it all.

Of Christmas Lights, Sticks, Frogs, and Toads

The snow has completely melted from our shady front yard. Early, when you consider that in the old days, we always hoped it would be gone by April 22, our youngest daughter’s birthday. Until recently, this was never a given. Now, we can more or less count on it.

The mud has mostly dried up, too. In our backyard this year, on a scale from 1 to 10, I would rate the mud factor a 3, with it going away relatively fast, too. I never even lost a shoe in the muck, which sometimes happens. However, we don’t have any kids or dogs to churn up the backyard, and no doubt that makes a big difference.

Now that the snow and mud are gone, it is time to begin spring yard work. Because we live in the woods, there are always branches and twigs to pick up. I am gathering up the sticks and putting them into outdoor trash cans. They will come in handy this summer for our fire pit. (The branches have been stacked on one side of the backyard, and they, too, will be used for the fire pit.) When the kids come to visit, we’ll have fires and make s’mores.  Always fun, especially as it’s been over a year since the kids have been home.

Because we are Mainers, we always wait until the snow is gone before we take down the Christmas lights. This habit is equal parts tradition, negligence, and practicality. After all, it’s not much fun stomping through knee-high snow to take down lights.

Surveying our snow-free yard, Clif and I decided that yesterday was the day for taking down the lights.

Farewell, my lovelies! See you next winter.

To cheer myself up after putting away the lights, I brought out a couple of my toads. More to come, and frogs, too!

To add a little silly fun to frog and toad corner, I bought this sign to cheer things up.

For those in the northern hemisphere, happy, hoppy, froggy, toady spring to you all!

 

 

 

Friday Favorites: Gingerbread Tea, Favorite Muppets & Rainbow Connection song

I am a devoted tea drinker—coffee is too bitter for me—and one of my favorite places to get tea is from Harney & Sons, where tea can be ordered online. (The shipping is free.) For Christmas, my daughter Dee bought me a tin of their Gingerbread Festival tea, and I am hooked. When I ran out , I promptly ordered myself another tin, which came in this week. Happy, happy day! The tea has a lovely gingery slightly sweet taste, a perfect low-calorie drink for late afternoon.

For media: Two episodes of Pop Culture Happy Hour, a podcast that I’m a big fan of. Pop Culture Hour, hosted by a regular rotation of arts journalists, features pieces about books, movies, television shows, and music. Frequently, other podcasts are recommended.

This week, the Pop Culture Happy Hour crew, led by the plucky and perky Linda Holmes, explores a question that is dear to my heart—who’s  your favorite Muppet? I am too old to have watched either Sesame Street or The Muppet Show when I was a child, but I watched them with my children and found the Muppet Universe an utter delight.

On Thursday, the PCHH crew delved into their favorite Muppets. You might disagree with their choices, or you might find themselves nodding in agreement. But really, aren’t all the Muppets wonderful in their own offbeat ways?

On Friday, PCHH revealed the results of a listener’s survey for top ten favorite Muppets. I was surprised by some of the choices and rankings, but I will not reveal the results.

I will, however, share who my favorite Muppet is: the green soulful, slightly melancholy Kermit, who works so hard to keep everything together. As a Franco-American, I am drawn to his sheer froginess as well as his work ethic. 😉

Do you have a favorite Muppet? If so, which one?

As for music, how could I resist “Rainbow Connection” by none other than Kermit the Frog? Brings tears to my eyes every time I hear it.

Simple pleasures and favorites from blogging friends:

Thistles and Kiwis writes about a trip to Queenstown, New Zealand.

Ju-Lyn, from Touring My Backyard, journeys back in time to explore the new Gallop extension of the Singapore Botanic Gardens

The Belmont Rooster illustrates how to sneak in the back way and uses Classic Editor in WordPress rather than Block Editor. I am conflicted about this. I prefer Classic Editor, but I have learned how to use Block Editor and can see its merits. Anyway, complete instructions are given should you want to use Classic Editor, which definitely qualifies as a simple pleasure, especially when compared with Block Editor.

Words on Wednesday: After the Wind Blew & a New Podcast episode

On Monday, a storm blew in, bringing strong winds. The power flickered off and on, off and on, and Clif and I decided to abandon our day’s work that involved using the computer. The rain bucketed down, and we even had thunder. But no snow, as earlier forecasts predicted—a nor’easter bringing at least a foot. And, aside from the flickering, we never really lost our power. As we Mainers like to say, things could have been worse.

Tuesday was sunny, and while no damage was done, the wind left its mark on the patio.

Easy as can be to pick up the chairs.

If it’s Wednesday, it’s time for a new episode from my podcast, Tales from the Other Green Door: This week, Episode 4—“To Love a Human”—from the story The Wings of Luck. While Jace reflects on the vagaries of love, danger and destruction hit close to home. Very close.

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