Thursday, August 28, 2008

My Right Foot

So, I ran into a wall last Friday night which meant I screamed "Owwie" quite a bit. My boyfriend came running to find out what happened. I was still in the throes of screaming "owwie" and not so much into explaining what happened to me. I hadn't even had a glass of wine or anything. I was just plain old stupid or clumsy and caught my small toe ( I think) on the corner of a wall.

I am also still in a state of denial on the aging process. If I hurt myself I should just heal- right? Over the decades I have noticed this healing process slowing down to the point where, on occasion, it has forced me to consult a doctor. This might be turning into one of those times.

My first thought after injuring myself was- I hope this doesn't interfere with my walking. So the next morning I woke up and went for a 5 mile walk. A neighbor asked me to help her clear trees and branches off of trails for the up coming Carriage Riding Association Annual get together. What's a 3 mile walk after a 5 mile walk anyways?

As a sop to my orthopedic health I only took a short walk on Sunday.

Monday.... short walk again. I think my toes can bend again.

Tuesday. I think it feels better so how about a 5 mile walk and to top it off, lets wear high heels to work. I think the high heels were the death decision.

My whole foot has swollen up and my ankle is a little puffy. The skin has stretched tightly across my arch. What I thought was dirt between my toes has identified itself as bruising. The only shoes I can fit into are sandals. My boyfriend has extracted the blood pinkie promise that I will call the doctor tomorrow before the long weekend.

I have finally identified that life quality issue which will send me over the edge. Lots of people consider suicide when faced with terminal cancer. For some it is financial well being. If I can never walk again I will kill myself.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Book Review- Truth and Beauty

I just finished reading Ann Patchett's Truth & Beauty. It is a memoir on her friendship with writer Lucy Grealy. In the memorable words of another friend- "Run, Don't Walk"- to find a copy at your library or local bookstore.

I was so struck at the depth of their love for each other. They were two different personalities so it was expressed in different ways, but nevertheless, a deep and abiding love for each other.

Ann's love for Lucy was unconditional in a way you only expect from your mother or dog. She forgave every transgression and was always there for Lucy. Lucy gave to Ann a totally foreign view on life, which I think Ann was very thankful for. People give to each other in very strange and wonderful ways. And they take.

I was equally struck by Lucy's inability to see how surrounded by love she was. She yearned for the intimate male/female bonding, but it was her circle of friends who gathered around her in each crisis. But I suppose that is a primal urge... and not mine to disparage. It is certainly one I have sought to the detriment of friendships on occasion.

To illustrate- one of my favorite photos of me and two close friends- Louise and my little sister Reta, letting loose at my Dad's camp in Vermont. This photo was taken around 1985. We are still friends. Truly beautiful!

Gender Confusion

My friend Michelle reminded me of the time another dog walker from the hill thought I looked FABULOUS because I had lost so much weight and looked like a little boy. Now this guy had the most beautiful Standard Poodle clipped to perfection by his owner, a hairdresser. He clearly had a preference for very skinny men.

This happened at a time in my life when I was under extreme duress. I had discovered that my recently deceased husband had lied to me in a way that left me in financial meltdown. I discovered that financial duress is nothing in comparison to emotional duress. I stopped sleeping and lost weight at an alarming rate. Normally I would welcome the loss of a few pounds, but at 5'9" I had gotten down to a size 4 and was still dropping.

And to top it all off.... now I looked like a boy.

This has been a problem throughout my life despite the length of my hair. As a teenage girl my circle of male friends were jokingly shoving me around. The principal came to my rescue, but my buddies volunteered my name as Jack (short for Jack of all trades). The principal told them to leave "him alone." Argh.

For 11 years I studied Tae Kwon Do. I attained the level of third degree black belt. A small girl saw me after class, out of uniform, putting in earrings. "But you are a man, you can't wear earrings." I think because I was so much taller than her own father she was confused. Or so I would like to convince myself. Argh.

And then the ultimate. My husband and I were long distance bikers. A weekend might consist of riding up north and then through the White Mountains and back- about 250 miles. One time at the end of a trip we ran into my Tae Kwon Do instructor. We told him about that day's ride. He looked me square in the eye and asked "Are you a lesbian or something?" Huh? This, while my husband was standing right next to me.

I told a good friend, who is a lesbian, about this slam. She wanted to know why I thought it was an insult. Touche & so right. But it did and still does bother me. Why when a man is threatened do they resort to disparaging a woman's sexuality? They are frigid or whores or ball busters or any number of other things.

I hang on to the fact that these stupid comments are a more accurate reflection of the speaker than they are of me.

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Farside of Hip

This is a new bag that my sister Reta gave to me-

"It is either an early or a late birthday present. I can't remember the last time I gave you something or if I owe you a gift."

I like gifts all the time, but am terrible about remembering to give them. I am much better without deadlines. When I see something that would make somebody happy I buy it.

You can see my fabulous little coral-colored, shell shaped summer handbag hanging next to it. While the cuteness factor is high, its volume capacity is mighty low. It requires an auxiliary bag to carry the rest of the days supplies- lunch, shoes, Henry's bags, Henry's training collar, old magazines to dispense to others, the garden's bounty to spread among co-workers, etc.

I have been using a tote that I somehow won from Ocean National Bank. While it is useful I have always hated being a walking billboard for someone- especially for no reimbursement. So this new bag with a graphic of a wild looking dog with wings is just the ticket. I believe it is what is called a messenger bag.... at least during the 80's. Then during the 90's it was referred to as a man-bag. Here we are almost into the second decade of the new millennium and I finally have one.

I am so hip I can hardly stand it.

I Have Been Waylaid

Sorry about having disappeared off the face of the earth. I have been sucked into a book by Ann Patchett called Truth & Beauty. I should be back any day now.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Faulty Spelling

So imagine my surprise when my boyfriend informs me that a tetter is an eruptive skin disease. So I am absolutely aghast that I am guilty of spreading misinformation. I am sure all of you have had ample opportunity to use your newly acquired language-from my blog no less- to describe the haying process. I know it is something that comes up in my conversation at least a few times a day.

So I am using this space to expunge my mistake and perhaps save any more of you from suffering the embarrassment of using incorrect haying terms. It is tedder. While it sounds the same it has distinctly different meanings.

Now that I know how to spell tedder, I am still disappointed in the dearth of information on the haying process on Wikipedia.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A Way Of Life

A farmer from town is up the road from me haying the big field. They usually do it early/mid July but the rain has kept them from it. There are usually two or three of them going at it, but this year there is only one old guy and lots of equipment.

They bring in their old tractors to get the job done. Some of these tractors date back at least 50 years but they still seem to be serviceable.

The top one, which is gray is a Ford.

This little red one is a Farmall Cub. They were famous for killing farmers by tipping over... but that is pretty much true of all old tractors. It was a pretty rough life, and still is . Just this spring a farmer in NH was killed by his tractor tipping over on him.

This other little red one is an International.

The green and yellow one is, of course, a John Deere hauling the tetter behind it. The tetter is used to fluff up the hay so it can dry thoroughly, otherwise your barn will go up in flames once the wet hay heats up. I tried to confirm this (tetters) on Wikipedia but they have nothing on hay harvest and one big article on hay balers. So I am going on memory from what a farm girl told me once. I wouldn't repeat this information unless you want to be laughed at.

The big yellow monster is a Massey Ferguson. They are the biggest manufacturer of tractors in the world! Who knew?

This is the farmer on his tractor. I have been waving to him each morning I see him, but I waited till his back was turned to take the photo. I wonder how I would feel if someone snuck into my place of employment to take a photo of me at work.

He probably doesn't think of himself as a piece of history but as an integral part of our economy, which he is. Nevertheless, as a way of making a living, I am afraid it is dying. All these local farmers have recently asked if they can forego on paying for the right to hay your field. The price of fuel has been eating into their livelihood.

I like watching them do this work. It somehow feels noble. But I know for a fact it is just hot, dirty, itchy work. As a young girl I had to help a cousin turn a field of hay by hand- with rakes. The little stubbles of hay find their way into your shirt and poke and scratch you relentlessly.

I suppose they don't have to deal with telemarketers on their office phone though.

Monday, August 18, 2008

I Love My Dog

This is nothing more than a little post of adoration- on both of our parts. This is my ridiculous dog with his long ears flapping in the wind. He loves to hang his head out the window of my car, but will periodically look back to make sure I am still there.

He makes me feel very loved.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Unusual August

I don't know if it is because it has been so wet or so cool that my garden looks so good. Usually in August flower gardens are looking their worst. Things are fried and/or tired of producing.

I have cut a few things back. The Asiatic lilies are mostly done and their foliage had ripened enough to move them to the compost heap. I finally whacked back my ladies mantle and the bleeding heart. Both were past their prime.

But the garden phlox is looking mighty fine and the Echinacea is still cranking out the color. Both the wild Black Eyed Susan and the Goldsturm is adding a splash of yellow while various daylilies display onesies and twosies throughout the garden.

I have started collecting seeds for next year. A friend had given me some Oxford Blue Annual Salvia this year, which I collected quite a bit of. The Cleome is still just flowering so it will be a bit before I can collect its seed. My purple hyacinth bean is only about 1 1/2 feet tall so I doubt it will flower. I am probably going to have to buy seed next year.

We are moving towards the bittersweet time of year. Mornings are a little cooler and fog hangs over the fields in the morning. But I am not quite sick of it yet.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Body Image

I have a walking buddy that I met last year. She lives in Connecticut and only comes up here on weekends during the more desirable months of the year. I always enjoy finding someone who is willing to walk the number of miles I like to walk AND can keep up with me. She also likes to talk!

She belongs to a woman's discussion group. One of the questions she would like to pose to this group is- Name a part of your body that you like with no qualifications.

Hmmmmmm... that is a tough question. My whole life I have focused on what is wrong with my body- as I believe most women do. I have no chin, my teeth are too big, I am built like the long distance biker that I was with very athletic legs and the list goes on and on.

But I have made peace with many parts of my body too. So many people define me by my outsize smile that I have just accepted it as part of me. I have gained a few pounds over the years, but I am still a respectable size 8 or 10, which isn't bad for my height. My hair is SO thick and wild that I have found the only acceptable thing to do is cut it off as short as possible, which most people say looks quite chic.

So what do I like about myself? My height. I am 5'9" and when I wear heels, which is most days, I am about 6 feet.

It is a part that wasn't always my friend and something I was a little ashamed of. As a younger woman I envied all the petite French Canadian girls, who are the dominant culture in New England. They were all so cute. I felt like a horse. I am sure I suffered from the tall girl slouch.

I think after marrying it became a non-issue for me. My husband was 6'8" so I was petite in his eyes, but I don't think that's why it went from being a liability to an asset. I think it had to do with the fact that being married meant that I was attractive. I am an odd cup of tea, but at least I am someone's cup of tea.

The older I get the less important it is for me to make men feel comfortable in my presence. Thus, I never hesitate to wear high heels. If they want to feel uncomfortable, it is their problem. And they can make up all the lies they want about their height:

"I am six feet tall."

Yeah, in your stilettos. Besides, I am looking down on your bald spot.

Finding clothes can be a little bit of a hassle. I need tall pants which aren't too hard to find anymore, but shirts are a pain. The 3/4 sleeves comes up to my elbows and fitted blouses tend to have a waistline that hits me half way up my rib cage. But my height gives me automatic authority and power that I enjoy. I am also pretty easy to find in a room. I wouldn't give it up for the world.

August Bounty

Today was beautiful... when it wasn't raining. By the time I got home from work things were starting to dry up and the sun felt warm. My gardens have been neglected for one reason or another. Mostly because it is almost always raining. But I have been trying to help when I can with Le Boyfriend's August bounty. He has been working full time to keep up with it.

Garlic, grapes, dill, tomatoes, eggplant, cucumbers, tomatillos up the wazoo (which are not quite ready), zucchini, blueberries, peppers, but mostly string beans, string beans, string beans.

We bought another freezer to put away all this bounty and in anticipation of buying a lamb. Le boyfriend makes the best lamb kabobs... and he isn't even Greek! So far I believe we have 26 bags of string beans. I harvested all the basil before it bolted and made pesto to throw in the freezer too. It is nestled up against the 15 quarts of blueberries for company.

I am a little sad that the poblano chiles didn't produce. I make a pretty good chile relleno. For my birthday last January I had a Mexican potluck so I could finally try my hand at making tamales and I also pulled the precious rellenos out. They were snarfed up pretty quickly.

I am not sure we are saving any money by growing all this produce, but it is satisfying. It is also nice to know where your food comes from and how it was grown.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Resisting the Inevitable

I went to Rome with my friend, Michelle, in March of 2007. It was an art history tour of the Eternal City. I am not much of a tour girl, but I was totally blind sided when I fell in love with the city. It was an inexplicable passion. I think I might have been meant to live there.

This is a little funny because I am thoroughly New England. I am not fashion conscious, I work for fun, food is something to power my body instead of to enjoy and I might even be a Type A. The antithesis of the Roman lifestyle.

Last week I received a notice from the gentleman who led our tour that he is going again in March of 2009..... and I can't stop thinking about it. I am looking for a reason that I HAVE to go. Perhaps my little sister who has been wanting to go to Italy needs a companion? Maybe Michelle wants to go again? I have even googled the hotel where we stayed to see if I could just rent a room and skip the tour.

Being a business owner in our sad economy means that I have to consider every penny I spend. My obsessive visiting of Rome in my head tells me that I will be going. Maybe not next year, but soon.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Coming Clean

So, in yesterday's post I said I only read a couple of blogs. I lied. I do read other blogs but they are not really the ones that seemed appropriate to honor with an "I Heart Your Blog" award. I would no more send these blogs this award than I would blow them a kiss. It just doesn't seem appropriate.

I love the little circle of blogs that I refer to in my space. They are warm and comfortable and non-confrontational. They are all written by women and, thus, have a warm, fuzzy and supportive embrace about them. They reflect the persona I have chosen to proffer here- that of another happy gardener who loves her dog.

But I am cautious of entering the ghetto of feminine thought. It is too narrowly focused for me. I require, or perhaps need, the balance that the more overtly testosterone powered blogs offer. Some of the other blogs I have discovered that offer this masculine perspective, or perhaps more perverse view are:

Stank who talks about relationships ( and the rest of the world) from the male view, which I find very intriguing. He even reads Caitlin Flanagan in the Atlantic Monthly. He probably reads Sandra Tsing Loh too, even though she mostly writes about motherhood which he isn't big on.

From Stank I found Uppity Negro. This gifted young man committed suicide more than a year ago, but his blog lives on. He makes me think about the black experience in America, which sometimes can be very difficult to do from lily-white NH. If you can't have the real experience, why not the virtual one? I could just stare at his photo and wonder why?

If you need an anti-testosterone fix check out I'm Not Gay. He knows how to party, dress, drink and have a good time. Why he hasn't found the right girl I'll never know. Probably because they want to change him.

Or there is just the plain, old damn interesting stuff.

For a more irreverent look at a housewife's lot check out Suburban Kamikaze or Dooce or i am bossy.

And then there is this guy , a client of mine who is a lawyer, but his real job is being a great Dad who is very involved with his community. To top it all off he is a REALLY great writer.

Well, I hope you all forgive me for my lie.... and that you will continue to come back and read about my life. These other blogs that I cheat on you with make me the full, rich person I am.


Monday, August 11, 2008

Most of All, I Want to Thank My Mother

I was bestowed with this beautiful award from Debi over at emmatree. I must say I am overwhelmed with her thoughtfulness and generosity.

Unfortunately I don't think I have 7 blogs to pass the award on to.... and not because there aren't deserving and well written ones out there. It is more a function of only reading 2 or 3 on a regular basis. Call me narrowly focused, or perhaps even obsessive.

And to make matters worse Debi already awarded one of my regular reads- Michelle's blog. Michelle is funny, perhaps irreverent and never runs out of cutting remarks to keep me in my place.

My other favorite is Louise at LaBelAbris. I have known Louise since I was 16. She can STILL make me laugh out loud and occasionally pass foodstuffs through my nose, but only in the most ladylike manner.

My other somewhat regular reads are Blackswamp Girl and Girl Gone Gardening. They both love gardening and write with humor about it. They also retain the wonder of a new gardener.

I hope any visitors to my tiny little blog will take time out of their busy days to peruse the thoughts of these others. Each individual post may not seem like much, but they tend to add up -over time- to create rounded, interesting and informative personalities. (I wanted to say human beings but with everything being done on the computer, one can never be too sure!)

Saturday, August 9, 2008

He Said, She Said- A Movie Review

"I rented Sense & Sensibility, Do you want to watch it?"

"Umm, sure.... let me just finish the dishes, I'll be right there."

This has been a point of friction in our house for quite sometime. Le Boyfriend is a movie buff. It was one of his biggest choices when we looked at this house in the middle of no where. He would no longer be able to hit the matinees just down the road at a moments notice and still be home to cook dinner.

I can practically count the number of movies I've seen in my lifetime on my two hands. I know for a fact that I like comedies. Romantic comedies are even better. Life is hard enough without having to relive all the crappy stuff on a big screen. Le boyfriend refers to my type of movie as another stupid, frickin' Julia Roberts film. But he keeps trying to lure me into watching a movie with him.

For him it is not a film till it has a lot of noise, death, blood and hard core dialogue. So it took the washing of the dishes for it to sink in that he had, on his own, rented a Jane Austen flick.

"So why did you rent this?"

"I just did."

I suppose this is true love. He lured me into the TV room with a film he knew I couldn't resist. And God bless his curmudgeonly soul... he watched the whole thing. Well except for his cigar break when he missed the turning point in the film where Emma Thompson weeps and consents to marry Hugh Grant. It was actually the sort of movie viewing I enjoy best. There was much laughing (on his part) and talking about the really ridiculous plot turns. He was laughing so hard that he missed important dialogue so I would have to explain what was going on.

"Why is she so stupid and why does she cry all the time?"



A lot of conversation was okay during this film as it wasn't all that good. Hugh Grant was terribly miscast as a shy parish minister caught up in a secret engagement even though he was falling in love with Emma Thompson. As Dorothy Parker once said "He ran the gamut of emotions from A to B." An awful lot of film footage of men riding away quickly on their steeds was used. This was to indicate the speed with which they would take care of the problems which stood in between them and their true loves. Pretty bad.

Well, at least I give two thumbs up to Le Boyfriend for trying.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The Gold Standard

It just occurred to me that I have been at my job for over twelve years now. In and of itself, not such big deal. But I am fast approaching the benchmark of longevity- my 1993 Toyota Corolla in pearl beige.

I owned it for 13 years and it had over 220,000 miles on it. It very rarely let me down and certainly didn't complain about my life choices. I am not quite sure what I will do if my job becomes the most enduring thing in my life.

The facts in an abridged chronology:
boyfriend-3 years
another boyfriend-5 years
yet another boyfriend-5 years
Toyota Corolla-13 years!
husband- 5 years
house purchased with husband- 6 years
dog- 7 years, 1 month, 2 weeks and a day
current job- 12 years and counting
current boyfriend- 6 years and counting (relational personal best!)
current house- 3 years and counting
current dog- 1 year and counting

I am trying to figure out what my conclusion should be here.

Not Quite Done Yet....

I am feeling like I haven't quite finished ranting yet. I have some images of egregious errors of the sort I vented about two days ago.

Here Henry not only points out the offending, highly visible weed barrier but he passed judgement on it too. In this particular urban planting the caretakers have decided that grass is too high maintenance. So they insist on the old weed barrier/bark mulch treatment. Problem is that with every rain (which has been for the last 40 days and 40 nights here) the bark mulch is washed away in mini-ravines to expose the beauty of the black plastic. The irony is that about two feet away is a HUGE clump of crab grass that is basically giving the weed barrier the ol' "in your dreams, sucker" salute.

This the offending garden circle in Wagner Park. Take note of the concentric planting forming a bulls eye around a flowering crab. Now the source of my irritation isn't really evident from this photo.... why its just some sweet little marigolds doing their marigold job. What kind of meany would hold it against them? There is not another flowering plant in this WHOLE park. It is all beautifully trimmed junipers,arborvitae, laurels, rhododendrons and I think some pachysandra. It is calm, cool, green, and orderly. Annuals marching in formation have no business mixing it up with big shouldered evergreens. Certainly not if they are going to display their "hey, big boy" color scheme.

Ahhhh... the ubiquitous potentilla. And to both prove and disprove my former dig at them. These are not in front of a gas station, but they are in front of a strip mall. And to truly make the point of how and where these plants should be viewed... notice the rear view mirror on the left side of the photo. These should only be viewed from cars, preferably at 60mph.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Thinking Too Much Again

I have disappeared from the blogosphere because I figure if I don't have anything good to say than I may as well not say anything. But people ( her & her) have been wondering where I disappeared to. I have been digging up a new bed this weekend .... like I don't have enough to weed. It is about 17-18 feet long. I am guaranteeing that no one will ever buy this property..... one look at it and they will start tallying up the costs of a team of professional, full-time weeders.

My grass looks pretty awful here- how that is possible with all the rain we have been getting I will never know.

So I figure if people are asking I may as well give them something to read.

Potentilla- I have tried to like them but they are just plain ugly. The only place they belong is in front of a gas station. That dig is courtesy of the Renegade Gardener.

I hate weed barrier even though she says it is wonderful. It always ends up coming through the mulch to get chewed up by the lawn mower and dispensed hither & thither over your property.

I hate bark mulch. It chews up your cuticles terribly. And who ever thought of dying it orange? They should be shot along with the people who invented stone chip mulch- especially the white stuff.

I hate withering daffodil foliage, but I put up with it because I love daffodils. The minute I feel it has ripened enough I rip it out.

I hate circle gardens. They are for little old ladies. The landscapers who installed one in Wagner Park (Pretty Park) in Manchester, NH.... one of the nicest urban plantings ever.... should have their licenses revoked. Landscapers, indeed.

I hate edging that has been improperly installed. It should not be visible. The rolled edge should just pop above the surface of the soil making for easy mowing over it. It is not intended to create a little fence between your grass and your flowerbeds.

I hate double petunias. They invariably look like used Kleenex.

I hate it when people put little tiny flowers into huge pots. What are they- blind? Have they no sense of scale? Proportion?

I hate plastic flowers put into pots this time of year. Really now. Is it so hard to stick a few marigolds in? Isn't the point to add a little beauty to your life? Not another piece of cheaply made garbage.

Okay. Overlook my vitriol if I have offended you and chalk it up to some hormonal imbalance. If you agree- wonderful. I will know there are other cranky gardeners in the world.