Saturday, August 29, 2009

The End Game

I was going to take another photo because this one is blurry. I probably forgot the flash. Somehow I thought it was apropos.

I went to see my new dentist. Nothing too terribly wrong was discovered. I need to have two old fillings replaced, but no big deal.

My gums are in decent condition too, with no signs of periodontal disease- Phew! They stick a probe in between your gums and teeth and do measurements of the "pockets" all the time muttering numbers to themselves "1,2,1,1,1,1,2,3,2,3,1,1." It sounds like an oceanographer doing a sounding for depths of the Continental Shelf or something.

But there were some recommendations.

Despite the good readings she said that I could reverse the "3's" with more regular flossing. She also noted that I had some self-inflicted gum recession due to overly vigorous and improper back and forth motion with my brush. She highly recommended an electric toothbrush.

My whole life I have avoided any sort of electrical appliance for a task that can just as easily be done manually. The selling of these ridiculous appliances somehow feels both gimicky and like a conspiracy of the electric company to create more demand- can openers, food bag sealers, air freshener dispensers- Jeesh!

On the other hand, I feel like I am reaching the end game. I am not old, but I am not young either. If this electric toothbrush will keep my teeth and gums healthier than I will swallow my pride, stand at my sink every morning with a vibrating stick stuck in my mouth and chalk it up to progress. I need to preserve what I have.

Next stop- eye exam.

Mistakes Are Good!

This post could be construed as a direct follow up to my previous post.

Two Autumns ago in a fit of laziness experimentation I decided to use the lawn mower to put this large patch of Clara Curtis Mums to bed for the year. The following gardening season I had a rather sparse and unusually uneven display. In my defense, Clara Curtis Mums are famous for their raggedy displays- they grow at uneven heights and bloom in a very patchy pattern.

But this year- behold! The patch is almost uniformly in bloom and at a (relatively) consistent height.

The problem with this method is it only gives you a good display every other year. Or perhaps this patch required the invigorating buzz cut? Perhaps I'll have a lovely display for a few years running?

I feel an experiment coming in.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Failure of Imagination

I have a friend, maybe even friends, who are dealing with big decisions. It is heart breaking to hear about and watch. The anguish is sometimes too much for me.

Like a lot of women, I want to make it better, but can't. To top it all off I am not a particularly demonstrative person so I am guessing my friends look at me as the rational one. I tend to offer solutions to help people through the maze.... no doubt exposing the two semesters of graduate school when I thought I wanted to be a counselor.

It all makes me think of decisions gone awry in my own life. I think some choices were due to a real failure of imagination. I have made choices I can only regret; paths not taken because I couldn't envision the possible outcome. I have to wonder why I chose things that didn't take advantage of the most I have to offer... and the best that I could be.

My fallback position is the status quo.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Love My Dog

When my dog is happy his tail doesn't just wag. It goes in circles like a helicopter- like when he is hunting mice or sees me walk down the stairs every morning.

How can you not love that?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Of Art, Fashion and Gardening


This is a photo of the garden about a mile from my house. The photo was taken about a year and some ago. The gentleman who planted the garden finally made the choice to put himself in assisted living. A middle aged couple bought the house late this spring. Immediately the blasphemy began.

First let me describe what makes this garden so special. Its maker was so restrained in his design focusing on textures, specifically the textures of evergreens: picea, mugo pines, dwarf spruce, golden thujas, juniper. The shades of green- from blue to yellow- were stunning. He then created sparkle by dropping in heaths and heathers. The dainty blossoms of pink & purple were about all the excitement this garden could stand. It was elegance defined- and all by an amateur gardener!

The new owners' blasphemy included digging out a stand of red twigged dogwood, which provided winter interest, to put in a circle of white phlox, Star Gazer Lilies, birdbath & gazing ball. Each of these things on their own, or perhaps in a different setting, would be fine. In this garden of cool contrasts and restrained elegance it felt an awful lot like like bringing a Vegas showgirl to a society cotillion.


The other day I had three older women come into my gallery- a private reunion for some Wellesley roommates. Each of them were dressed so superbly. They were each aware of their body types, body limitations and what might come across as too trendy as opposed to stylish. Their accessories were perfect. They has the most beautiful jewelry- not too much! Just the right amount. Even their make up was not noticeable next to the fine shine of their natural assets.

Where do women learn to dress like this? Wellesley?


For years I have pondered the differences are between good art and bad art. Don't expect the answer in this post. Philosophers have been pondering it for millennium. Don't expect a Podunk NH art dealer to answer the big question.

I have noticed that good artists apply their paint (or whatever medium) with confidence. The tentative stroke is for those who haven't spent time, time, time developing a masterful one. Please don't ask me to describe a good stroke. I have had this conversation with many artists I respect who are equally mystified by trying to describe it. We fall back on the old trope of "I know it when I see it."

Along with the confidence in knowing how to apply one's medium comes the confidence to know when to stop. The amateur cannot resist fixing just one more thing. This almost always comes at the expense of the painting. It becomes over worked and muddy, the strokes become labored and wooden, the frustration mounts and it all becomes clear on the canvas. A good painting feels effortless and will sing with a sort of internal vibrancy.


I aspire to achieve the heights in all of these categories- art, fashion and gardening. I don't think I am shallow but that visual things give me huge pleasure and satisfaction. The world is interpreted through my eyes. I don't think many people see me as particularly fashionable, but I look for clothes that complement me and make me comfortable and feel good. I would like to think I cut a reasonably stylish figure. Some people might think me an art snob and others an art novice. I enjoy it at my level but am not afraid to reach for the next. My gardening is probably my most wooden achievement. Like many amateur artists I get caught up in the details at the expense of the big picture.

As I have stated before refinement come with paring back rather than adding more. Edit!

Edging Redux

So here are the images of my hard day's labor. I only edged about 1/4 of this garden but it is the most visible and cherished section.

Edging involves taking the edge of the garden out about 6-8" from its current edge and then shaking all of the precious soil out of the sod. Sometimes this requires allowing the sod to bake in the sun to dry out the soil so that it shakes loose more easily. After a day of this my hands cramp up from clawing at the sod to rip it up and banging/shaking it to within an inch of its life. 93 degree weather is perfect for this sort of task- sweating aside.

It is a constant battle as the lawn is always encroaching on the garden, but an extremely satisfying chore- for me. (Some people might think it was work.) It is very clear where the lawn ends and the garden begins. The right curves are also essential- they add to the overall look of the garden. Ultimately mowing will be easier too as I won't have to be so cautious about what I am brushing up against and giving an inadvertent haircut. All the plants are set safely back.

Of course, being on my hands and knees at eye level with all of my foliar friends allows me to see and then pluck every weed that stands in between me and perfect order.
Onward Christian Soldiers! Although I think it is cleanliness that is next to Godliness, not weed-freeliness.

Sunday, August 16, 2009


Too tired to take a new photo- this is from 2008.

Edged for most of the day. 'Nuff said. Too tired to write.

Saturday, August 15, 2009


Black-Eyed Susans hiding amidst the yarrow.

It is that time of year when gardens can look their tattiest. The heat is oppressive and (usually) there isn't enough rain to keep things lush. All the plants are tired of kicking up the chlorophyll to keep their leaves a deep, dark green- instead they are a spotty yellow.

Once again- due to a summer of abnormally high rain fall- things are not too bad. The lawn is thick and lovely. The plants are still standing erect. My personal battle- Black-Eyed Susans.

I have always had a problem with pulling a plant in the wrong location that is otherwise healthy and desirable. It seems to have a right to live and blossom. The Black Eyed Susans grow wild. They pop up in my yard and garden. Today was a day of ruthlessly pulling them out. Order was restored and I am happy.

The garden was beginning to have that overall sameness with lack of definition. Everywhere you looked was another sunny yellow flower with a brown eye. Editing is hard but in the end the product is easier to look at and understand.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Love My Dog

I love that when my dog has fallen asleep before I remove his harness and collar he won't lift a paw to help me. it is like trying to take a sleeping child out of their clothes and put them into pajamas- dead weight.

I suppose this might pass for a maternal feeling- aye?

Friday, August 7, 2009

Toad Jerky

Pardon my hiatus.

I have been working on training my dog quite a bit recently. With the aid of a harness I have gotten him to stop pulling the leash while we walk. His other annoying habit is to go berserk whenever he sees another dog- in particular Yellow Labs.

I am not sure about his previous life but Yellow Labs must have played a big and sinister role in it because he twists, turns, snarls and barks when he sees them. And we see one almost every morning on our walk. It was a good opportunity to train him. It has taken almost a year but I can get him to sit and just whine a little when this dog goes by. It isn't perfect but it is a huge improvement.

My next goal is to get him to come when called. I figured this would take a treat so delicious that his head would snap if I pulled one out of my pocket. I bought some freeze dried 100% liver treats- but they only made him throw up. As you can see by the photo milk bones and Rodz Pawz Chicken Treats leave him cold. The thing he seems to really respond to is road kill.

I was relaying my training dilemma to my brother. I said that road kill seems to be Henry's favorite treat. He suggested I was missing a huge marketing opportunity by not developing a really stinky treat made from road kill or better yet, horse manure- Henry's two favorite food groups.

As we were walking the other morning Henry was able to snarf up an old dried up toad from the road before I could stop him and the perfect name for this training treat leaped into my head- Toad Jerky. Toad Jerky anyone?