Sunday, June 28, 2009

Falling Off the Wagon, So To Speak....

If you need some great photos to illustrate this post- go here. But I suspect this is an image we all keep deep in our minds... right next to nude celebrities.

For almost ten years being a celiac has defined my life, or at the very least defined my diet. I have been unable to eat wheat, oatmeal, rye, spelt, barley or any of the other grass based grains. Admittedly I am self diagnosed... but only after multiple specialists either gave me a perfunctory once over and announced IBD or others who ran me through a battery of upper GI's and any other humiliating probe they could think of before shrugging their shoulders and saying "IBD." Cutting gluten out of my diet had given me the greatest amount of relief from my symptoms.

In mid-April I had yet another major (for me) medical crisis and had to have a tooth pulled. The tooth had grown into my sinus where it had caused an infection in my jaw. There was a good chance this had been an infection for quite sometime. Within days I noticed that things were, shall we say, quite regular. Over the years I had experienced occasional, albeit brief periods of digestive normalcy but to experience such an extended period of things working as the textbooks say they should - unheard of!

Days, weeks and then months passed without terrible pain in my stomach. My curiosity piqued I tried a bagel. I waited 4 days. Then I tried another. Still no problem. Since then I have tried any number of things which usually have me running in the other direction- pasta, bread, cookies.

We have started incorporating wheat products into our evening meals.... and one of those meals I have dreamed of for years is Macaroni & Cheese. This is a lowly pleasure from childhood- neither fancy nor precious. It was served frequently but was always welcome. Tonight the boyfriend & I made it together....

It has been so long since I cooked anything like this I have forgotten how it is made. He definitely had his ideas about how it should be done. While there is no such thing as bad Mac & Cheese- there are only degrees of goodness, I have a fondness for my mother's way of cooking everything to just shy of burnt. The top should be very crunchy and the brown of mahogany. The interior should be thick & cheesy.

I think gluten/wheat does not agree with me 100%... sort of the way I get canker sores if I eat too much citrus, but it is definitely back in my diet. I think I shall start experimenting with the best Mac & Cheese Evar'. The better to sooth my dainty stomach.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

If Some Is Good, More Is Better

I have addressed garden ornamentation recently so I thought I would write a little ode to my boyfriend's style of ornamentation.

His ornamentation philosophy runs towards those things that move and thus scare away vegetable & fruit predators ... like these saber tooth Cedar Waxwings that think domesticated strawberries, which are in a convenient patch, are much easier hunting than those little, indigenous ones that are spread hither and thither over our acreage.

This is the strawberry patch which has a spinning poly-Cardinal and a poly-Peacock that sort of limps as it lost a few tail feathers. The garden also has two dangling, plastic, spinny things and a faux owl. As you can see we have also posted Henry out there to work for his dinner by keeping any marauding chipmunks at bay.

The boyfriend's other penchant is for gargoyles. These serve to keep out the evil spirits- both in general and for the gardens. We have them inside the house too. Actually the big guy in the patch of Campanula Glomerata is my personal gargoyle purchased pre-boyfriend so clearly I also felt a need for a little spiritual look out.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Poor, Poor Peonies

When flowers only bloom once a season, albeit for two weeks, they become a much anticipated event. When something interferes with the annual bloom, it becomes a source of despair.

This spring several of my peony plants developed buds that just stopped growing and then proceeded to dry up. Sometimes whole plants were affected, sometimes just portions.

My hunt on line indicated two possible causes. One is botrytis blight, but that supposedly affects the whole plant. My peonies only have affected buds.

The other is a condition called bud blast. This can be caused by a couple of things, but the most likely cause of my problem is that we had frosts up until late-May. This can interfere with the growth of the bud.

I suppose it is better to suffer the Horseman of the Apocalypse Death than the Horseman of the Apocalypse Disease.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Night Out

I don't go out very often- for various reasons. Chief among those reasons is that I always have my dog with me and if it is too hot or too cold I can't leave him in the car. I don't do this often so I don't feel too guilty about abandoning my little muffin to the privations of a 4 seated vehicle with complete protection from the elements and any marauding tigers.

After the last opening at my gallery Michelle and I stepped across the street to Hermanos for a nibble and a tipple. There was a big Don McLean concert at the CCA and it is motorcycle week in NH so service was mighty slow. It took forever to get a drink and even longer to get some nachos, but, you know what? I didn't care. Michelle & I had a lot of catching up to do. If they had served us any faster we wouldn't have been able to drive home.

We laughed, we gestured, we made fun of each others flaws, we used improper language and we laughed some more. It is good to do that once in a while with a female friend. I think both of us needed to leave it all behind for a few hours.

Then we made our way back to our cars. Michelle was shocked at Henry's level of neediness after a two hour break. There was whining, crying, jumping & licking. He wouldn't get out of my lap. It is a level of neediness that I wouldn't tolerate in any other being. Michelle took a picture of our reunion... and then a few of her pocketbook. She is so arty.

Only Skin Deep

Perhaps rummaging around in my closet and finding a clay facial that was a gift from my sister Reta or perhaps it was another day of rain that inspired me to a day of self enhancement. Or perhaps it is the total neglect that I call my beauty regime that has forced me to spend a little time on myself. Whatever.

So this is the pore refining mask. It is some kind of diatomaceous earth that you mix with water and then slather on your pores, but not on your eye pores. They are very specific that it stay away from them, otherwise you can't see the stuff refining your other pores.

You don't really need to see the stuff working because you can feel it working. As it drys into a hard mask your lips are no longer able to move and your whole face starts to itch, but scratching just yields fingernails full of green clay. It must be working because it is uncomfortable. Another whatever- but I do think the green enhances the blue of my eyes.

Then on to my toes. It is probably better to have no polish than to go so long between touch ups that the outer two toes are missing most of it. While some might see this part of a woman's toilette as a bit of floofery, it is a must for a gardener if you plan to wear any sandals during the summer. Nails are permanently stained and dirt has gotten embedded so far underneath them that an orange stick must be employed to remove it. After the through cleaning I put on a couple of coats of OPI Outdoor Aphrodisiac. You can barely tell that I am a farm girl... just don't get too close. Yeah- I mean you, over there- with the foot fetish.

And voila! One beautiful girl... well maybe those legs have got to go. I can't think of a less flattering angle to photograph your legs from.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Day In The Life Of My Garden- June 16, 2009

I know, I know ... it is already June 20th and I am posting pictures from the 16th. These poppies are pretty much gone by now but every morning this week I would look out the back window, through the rain, and look at them.

I came to the conclusion that orange is not much of a team player. It just doesn't go with anything and it is an awfully insistent color- Look at me! Look at me!

I do think the Husker Red Penstemon foliage manages to lend it a little elegance by toning down the whole display. There is also a dark purple lupine growing behind. (Oh yeah- I TOTALLY planned that!) I also just ignore the fact that the poppies are too loud and just love them for what they are.

Looking up the length of the garden is lovely right now. The Baths Pink Dianthus and Veronica are lovely and the Coronation Yarrow will be pulling up right behind it- probably by the end of June.

With all the rain my Tim Rowan platter has been chock-a-block full. It is Henry's favorite watering station. I am not sure why. His bowl is always full in the house but he will go out for a spin around the yard and absolutely have to stop for a sip from this particular location. The platter looks good with the Snow In Summer in full swing.... creates a softness to counter the hard lines.

And an artsy fartsy photo of me in my new reflecting ball. I bought the silver globe at a yard sale for $1. This pedestal previously had a clear yellow lamp fixture globe.

This is my tongue in cheek approach to garden ornamentation. As a child I always loved these globes. Their beautiful colors (pink! blue! purple!) were so enticing. I associated them with wealth & taste- funny concepts for such a young girl, but being a Capricorn I am all about social climbing. And what better way to scale the social ladder than with tacky lawn ornaments? (Read about LYC's recent brush with garden ornaments here.)

This particular one was purchased 13 years ago at what my husband thought was a yard sale, but was really some one's zealously decorated yard. The owner finally parted with it for $25 claiming it was hand carved granite. The money was worth the right to retell the tale of our cement pedestal with affixed electrical fixture.

Like my poppies need any more tarting up......

Friday, June 19, 2009

Shoe Enabler

My friend, Melinda, is a shoe enabler. She is always a stylin' babe and totally into accessories... which is my personal weakness. She came into my gallery yesterday wearing these Cole Haans to die for. They are a cross between naughty nurse & bowling shoes.

Can't quite figure out how to justify their purchase as I just got these not too long ago:

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Four Gardeners of the Apocalypse

image citation: Whitney Cranshaw, Colorado State University,

Today was spent weeding, puttering and moving this & that. A Mountain Laurel that has lingered on the edge of health is finally relocated to a shady grove where hopefully she'll fare better out of the full sun.

I also moved a monster hosta that was just about covering a specimen Dwarf Hinoki Cypress that I coveted for years and finally bought. The hosta was a beast! It must have weighed 50 pounds.

I checked in on my lupines which have been looking a little sad. They have been suffering from aphids. I am reluctant to use poisons so I was checking on line for a solution when the boyfriend jumped in with a few tips. Spray them off with water or just run you fingers down the stems to squish/knock the aphids off. Information on line confirmed that they will never find their way back onto the plant.... and I thought turkeys were stupid!

Running your hands down the stem is a mighty effective antidote.... but a little messy. My fingers turned green with smashed aphid innards, but it was a satisfying job to kill so many bugs so quickly. Whenever I start thinking that gardening is about sweetness and light a chore like this comes along to remind me of the Four Gardeners of the Apocolpyse - Bugs, Disease, Weeds & Drought. My fingers were goopy from aphids so I decided to squoosh a few Chafer Beetles too. They are easy to pick off as they don't have the inclination to interrupt their lovemaking to save their lives.

Well- time for dinner.... after I wash my hands.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Day in the Life of My Garden- June 15, 2009

I returned to my gardens today to find them waterlogged and over run with weeds. It seems like it has been raining non-stop for two weeks ... which is only a slight exaggeration.

The big news in the garden is that the hole for the foundation of the windmill has been dug. It will be situated in our orchard for relative geographical proximity to all of our kitchen appliances which will want what it is making.

As you can see the trench to the house has been started and it is aimed towards my silver brocade artemesia- precipitating a vacation to the east for it for a few days while the electrical lines are put in- then right back to its previously scheduled growing program. I think it can handle it, but I will have words with the electrician about coming anywhere near my
monster Baptisia- the envy of many a gardening friend.

This a picture of the boyfriend who supervised and did quite a bit of the finish digging. It took him away from the important task of getting plantlings into the ground, but also took his mind off the most recent infestation of Rose Chafer Beetles.

Despite the sogginess and weediness there is also a certain loveliness to a very green, lush garden. A side benefit being that the coolness has extended the lifespan of my peonies & poppies. Pictured here is my Lady's Mantle- incomparable in bouquets and for the way water forms the most perfect little droplets on their leaves.

This is an unidentified Veronica that I inherited. It might be Crater Lake Blue. The color is stunning. I have it next to Lamb's Ear and Bath's Pinks.

Here is my Scarlet O'Hara Peony- a lovely single with a broad yellow center. This beautiful plant has made a few moves with me... graciously I might add. She tends to fade a little if it is too sunny while she blooms.

And finally a shot of the Diablo Ninebark I bought two years ago... with my Seashell Peony. I hate to trim the Ninebark's graceful arches so I think I will be forced to move the peony. The colors are great but the forms are competing.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Stranger in a Familiar Land

I have been living out on the Seacoast for the past week and 1/2 while I work the new gallery in Portsmouth. I have been staying with my brother and his family in Newmarket- a town I lived in my freshman year in college. It is much changed from the year 1980. I can't remember what this building use to be but now it is Rocky's Burgers which makes fabulous burgers AND sweet potato fries on site.

Newmarket was home to some large manufacturing companies- Timberland shoes & textile mills. It was peopled with the immigrants who came here to work in the mills. The mills are fairly empty but the Newmarket Community Development Corporation has been working for many years to find someone to fill it with housing, retail, restaurants and art space.

I have been walking around every morning with my dog, eating at the restaurants, enjoying the many pocket parks and seeing the regular comings and goings of the residents. It is my favorite way to travel- to stay in one place and inject yourself into the daily ebb & flow of a community. (Ask Michelle- I announced that I was taking a bus NO WHERE once we arrived in Rome for a 9 day stay.) This is a photo of my brother's sneaker store LOCO (shameless plug).

I have also been attending the Spoken Word/Poetry night at Crackskulls Book & Coffee Shop. Walking into a poetry reading in a town of 5000 people sounds like it could be dreadful, but it is not. There are some pretty good poets, amusing conversation and lots of laughs. I believe this happens every Wednesday night.... I give it two thumbs up.

The town is loaded with historic buildings, such as this old firehouse. It looks to be re-purposed into apartments. I think I could live in such a funky old building. As a matter of fact I find myself looking at a lot of the buildings trying to decide which would be the best one to relocate my home and business to. I love little cities like this.
And Henry has also adopted Newmarket as a second home- where he has found a fine selection of fire hydrants and he is King of the Road.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Is It Just Me- Or Is It Really Histrionic In Here?

I am in the middle of "Wuthering Heights" by Emily Bronte. I figured it was a classic I had never read... and really, isn't it about time for melodrama in my life?

As I listen to it on cd in my car, performed by the incomparable Patricia Routledge (Hyacinth in Keeping Up Appearances), I can't help but think of Oprah or Jerry Springer. The two main characters, Heathcliff and Cathy, are so overwrought & tempestuous that they should appear on one of those shows. I just want to throw up my hands and say "Really, you are both so miserable you NEED to die."

In a group of women I mentioned I was reading it and they all swooned. I asked for reassurance that it is a good book. One woman suggested I need to suspend my modern day values and get into the swing of things. So on I plow.

There is so much gnashing of teeth and threatening of cruelty that I think of the play "Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolf?" Spit, venom & hatefulness disguised as a society sanctioned relationship. There is even a Sandy Dennis character (Isabella Linton) who is so naive & pliant that she would rather die of Heathcliff's nastiness than tell her brother how unhappy she is. Get a spine Isabella!

I suppose it is a cautionary tale. People should stop being so passive aggressive and just try talking to each other. If they are unhappy beyond repair, move on.

All in all I think Dorothy Parker's take on life so much more understandable:
Razors pain you;
Rivers are damp;
Acids stain you;
And drugs cause cramp.
Guns aren't lawful;
Nooses give;
Gas smells awful;
You might as well live.
Have a happy day!