Saturday, June 30, 2012

A White Sparrow


White bird 011A white sparrow has been visiting the bird feeder.  He was a little shy at first, and we would just catch glimpses of him flitting through the yard.White bird 010Eventually, he got braver and started hanging around more.

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He seems pretty comfortable at the feeder now.


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I think he is pretty cool.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Completed Pillow Leads to Mental Travel

Knitted pillow coverI finished the knitted pillow that I was working on.  It is done in Shepards wool from New Zealand.  The pattern is from the first knitting book I ever bought, I Can’t Believe I’m KNITTING! (Leisure Arts, INC,, 1997, Little Rock AR).

We recently had a letter from Mile’s friend who now lives in Christchurch, New Zealand.  When we visited, he was living in Auckland on the North Island.  His hobby was restoration of old motorcycles (the Mike connection) and other old motor vehicles.  His wife’s avocation and main interest was in restoration of old homes.  They had several and were finally able to buy a grand home that was on the historic register and they moved to Christchurch on the South Island of New Zealand.  2011 was not kind to NZ and Christchurch suffered a great deal of damage.  Our friends’ place was heavily damaged and they have not been able to do any restoration because the earthquakes and aftershocks have continued at an unrelenting pace.  Their lives have changed substantially.

I have heard the opinion that all the catastrophes of the past few years are Biblical in proportion, retribution for the wickedness in the world.  I doubt the world is any more wicked than it has ever been.  I don’t really know because I wasn’t there.  Or if I was, I don’t remember.

Actually, I am in the middle of reading Alice Hoffman’s new book, The Dovekeepers.  I think it is going to be on my all time favorites list, but it is also depressing in the sense of how sadly history repeats itself.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012



I am sending greetings from the land of continuous loss of internet connectivity.  I can maybe read and comment on two blogs before—POOF! No longer connected.

Needless to say, this gets quite tiresome.  I can read quite a number of posts before the shut down, so I have been concentrating on that.

I will call my tech guru sometime, but right now I know for a fact that he has bigger problems than mine, so I will be patient.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Guest Post on Gardening

This is a guest post from George Shaw. I added some images from Internet Explorer.  Enjoy!

8 Ways to Organize and De-clutter Your Garden

    Gardening is an excellent hobby that has many great benefits; it provides you the opportunity through therapeutic activity to produce fresh and organic flowers and vegetables that you can use and enjoy, making your life more beautiful and healthy.  Having a garden that is full of clutter and is unorganized or looks messy or out of control takes away from the potential beauty there is to experience and strips you of the sense of peace you can get when spending time in these bits of oasis.  There are a few tips and tricks you can use to get the most out of your space and keep your garden looking so fresh and clean.
1.   Flower pot “stacking”    Flower pot stacking is a creative and fun way to maximize space and create a unique and functional option for planting multiple items in a confined area.  The idea is to drill a hole in the bottom of four or five terracotta pots, depending on their size and then stack the pots on a piece of rebar you have planted in the ground.  Once the pots are stacked, you can fill them with soil and plant your seeds or herbs or flowers.  This creates a cute topsy turvy look that is unique and offers a creative solution for minimal space or aids in the desire to group together plants with similar types.
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2.  Planter boxes and hanging boxes
    Using hanging boxes or planter boxes that you can hang on a fence or suspend from hooks, or build up on different levels allows another solution for maximizing space.  You can plant more when you are not limited to the space you have in the ground.  These hanging pots or boxes keep things looking uniform and neat while allowing you more growing space.
3.   Create a map
    Creating a blueprint of the layout for your garden will help you to plan for getting the most out of your space and provide you with the opportunity to plan for how your plants will respond to one another, placing larger plants where they have more space and keeping smaller ones from having to compete for sun.  By creating a map, you can do away with any labels you may save to differentiate your plants, and you can play around with coordinating colors and species of plants. 
4.   Keep the tabs    By keeping the tabs that come along with small plants when you buy them at the nursery you can take the guess work out of which plant is which.  You also make it easier to determine from year to year where plants may return, and where to plant new items.  If you don’t like the look of the white markers, you can make DIY markers by painting rocks with the pictures or names of your different plants, use these to un-clutter your garden and keep things a bit more organic. 
5.   Concrete blocks as planters
     Using concrete blocks as planters allows for stacking and building, creating unique shapes and configurations for planting.  It keeps things neat and organized without you having a lot of pots everywhere.  It offers a different solution to the inconvenience of too little planting space and creates a fun way to grow objects on different levels.
6.   Store your tools
    Use hooks or an old rake to suspend small buckets to keep tools and seeds in, these can also be handy places to stash your gloves, or anything else you like to keep handy in the garden.  The head of an old rake provides a creative alternative to the simple hook and allows for unique storage of your shovel and other tools right in-between the prongs.
7.   Stick your herbs together
     Use tin tea boxes to plant small herbs in.  Using these will create order and help you stay organized while making these items more portable to move into the sun or take in and out of the kitchen for use.  The tins are interesting and cool and look great on a shelf or a ledge all in a row, giving your garden a unique and nostalgic feel.
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8.   Old crates for storage
    A few small wooden crates suspended on the side of the house or your shed, or stacked together in the back of your garden, provide a great storage space with multiple levels and ample room to keep any supplies you may need while gardening.  Treat them as shelves and keep seed in a mason jar on one, your tools in a bucket on the other.  With just a few of these, you should be provided with plenty of storage space to help keep your garden neat.
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This post was written by George Shaw, a writer that helps seniors in California nursing homes live healthy and active lives.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Shredded Wheat

Our lawn was looking so lush and green through the spring.  Now, after just a few hot, rainless days it looks like someone went out in the middle of the night and scattered giant bowls of shredded wheat here and there.  It's crunchy to walk on.
Generally, Vermont soil is supposed to be quite heavy clay.  Not in our yard though.  We seem to sit on top of a sand and gravel ridge.  It certainly had its advantages last summer when there was flooding elsewhere.  However, when it is dry, it does not take very long at all for the grass to show the effects.
Do they still sell Shredded Wheat?  I remember eating it as a kid--once in a great while--and that it was palatable only because we dumped huge spoonfuls of sugar on top making a concoction of sweetened milk with bits of straw in it. 
 I also ember making shredded wheat bread--loaves and rolls--in the 70's.  Doesn't that sound so very 70's?  I know fondue came back for a while.  Everybody got at least one fondue pot as a wedding gift, right?  I haven't been aware of any nostalgia for shredded wheat bread.  I could be wrong about that, though.  There are plenty of recipes available online.  This one is from Taste of Home Magazine.

Shredded Wheat Bread


  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 1 cup crushed Shredded Wheat cereal
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 2 tablespoons shortening
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 package (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water (110° to 115°)
  • 5-1/2 to 6-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • Melted butter, optional


  • In a large bowl, pour boiling water over cereal. Add the molasses, shortening and salt. Let stand until mixture cools to 110°-115°, stirring occasionally.
  • In a bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add cereal mixture and 3 cups flour. Beat until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough (dough will be sticky).
  • Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
  • Punch dough down. Turn onto a lightly floured surface; divide in half. Shape into loaves. Place in two greased 9-in. x 5-in. loaf pans. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
  • Bake at 375° for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pans to wire racks. Brush with melted butter if desired. Cool. Yield: 2 loaves (16 slices each).

I remember that it was tasty, but summer is not the time to bake bread so I I have not tested this.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Hot Stuff


The first day of summer made a major statement around here.  The temperature moved up into the 90’s—child’s play to some of you out there, but very warm for Vermont.  Mike and I decided to load up the van with the canoe and a picnic lunch and head for the Chittenden Reservoir.  It was not a unique idea, except for the canoe part.  Tons and tons of kayaks were paddling around the pond, some of them yakking away on their cell phones.  It kind of made up feel like we were in the equivalent of a Model T Ford as we made our way.

We sat in the shade and read.  We lunched on shrimp cocktail, cheese and crackers, and a bottle of wine.  We napped.  We floated around in the cool water.  It was a good way to spend the day even without the modern day conveniences.



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Monday, June 18, 2012

Busy Day

I really wonder what got into me today.  I woke up determined to clean the gutters on the back side of the house.  I dragged out hoses, cleaner, scrub brushes and ladders.  Yikes!  What a job.  It looks a lot better, but not perfect.  We shall see how long it will take for the little patched of green in the corner of the breezeway and garage to tip me over the edge enough to drag everything out again.  Actually, the front needs some attention, too, so it may not be so long.  Fortunately, I remembered that I had a really long pole that I could attach the scrub brush to so I spent very little time on a ladder.  That is a very good thing.

Of course, I managed to splash the windows, but they need a washing anyway.  Life is hard sometimes.

I was looking at Linda Reeder's garden pictures today.  Good grief, I feel worn out by the tending required by our yard and garden.  I was exhausted reading her blog.  (It is beautiful, by the way).

All the same, in the afternoon, I did the weed whacking while Mike mowed the lawn.  I also put in two hours covering new books with plastic and putting them in the on-line catalog for the library.
I was too pooped to make a salad for supper.  Literally, I opened the vegetable drawer and thought to myself, " I just cannot lift that head of lettuce out and carry it to the sink."  That's pretty bad.  I do think that I can manage to pour myself a wee glass of wine in a few minutes though.  Maybe unwrap one of those Lindor chocolates.  I hope I remember to brush my teeth before I flop into bed tonight.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Happy Father’s Day





…to the dads and grand dads out there, with fond memories of my own father.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Welcome Summer!


It feels and looks like summer today.  The sun is so bright and the sky is so blue, not a cloud in sight.  I spent some time in the garden.

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There is only a little bit of shade in our yard.

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This is the shadiest area and you can see that it is not too extensive.

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The clematis is reaching through the fence.  The peonies are pretty much over.

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It is so sunny here that the pink of these—4 hypoestes and a ptilotus, which I planed over the dried up daffodils today—are completely bleached out.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Birthday Celebration

I am happy to report that Mike got over his disappointment over the duplicate shopping trip for a birthday present and decided to congratulate himself for knowing exactly what I would want for myself. We celebrated my birthday by going out for a fancy dinner at a restaurant right here in Jericho, Vermont.

Mike ordered a beef filet after an appetizer of prosciutto wrapped asparagus with blue cheese. I ordered a duck breast in pastry that was served with mashed parsnips and broccolini. Our waiter suggested a Plungerhead zinfandel that worked beautifully with both meals. The meal was exquisite.

I don’t feel a day older either.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Birthday Present


Mike and I have difficulty getting each other gifts.  Actually, he is completely impossible to buy a gift for.  I don’t think I am all that hard, but I do have to admit that for both of us this is true: if we want it we already have it.

Every once in a while, though, Mike really scores with a present and that makes him very happy.  I guess he was thinking he made such a score this year for my birthdayBirthday cake(Flag Day).

I also guess I ruined his surprise and his happiness.

I went shopping Tuesday afternoon and came home with a wireless mouse for my new computer and a flowered mouse pad.  They were purple.  I was in Staples to get some Avery labels and I saw them, had to have them.

When I came home, I showed them to Mike,quite pleased with my new acquisitions, actually.  He scowled and stomped down stairs to his office.  Some times he is just in a bad mood.  I didn’t really think too much of it, but in a minute he was back upstairs thrusting a packaged wireless mouse and a mouse pad at me.  “Happy Birthday!” he said.

Okay.  At that moment I had two identical mouse pads and two—not identical—but purple—wireless mice.  He was kind of mad because he thought he had gotten me a good gift and I beat him to it.

Well, he did give me a perfect gift.  It’s the thought that counts, right?  It shows that he knew what I would want and he knows my taste.  So what more can I ask for?



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Sunday, June 10, 2012

Garden and Knitting

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The peonies are in bloom and I managed to capture a few before they all fell to the ground.  They have a lovely, intense scent.

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Astible are almost ready to bloom.  Mine are a dark pink when they come out.  It seems as though they want to take over the garden and maybe even the yard.

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They have volunteered themselves all down the sidewalk.  I dug up two from this spot to give to my sister-in-law.  I like these plants because they have a nice, lacy kind of look to them.  Even though they have wandered a bit, they stand up straight, even in the rain.

misc.crafts 001 Both these cards are the same size in real life.Who me?

I am cranking on my creative side today.  A couple of birthdays are coming up.  I could go out and spend a couple bucks each for some cards, but I prefer to spend about six hours making my own.  I exaggerate.  These didn’t take nearly six hours to make.  And cards cost more than a couple of bucks these days.

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I have been knitting when my hand will let me.  This is going to be a pillow cover.  This is a fun pattern.  I am not even getting sick of it.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Animals continue their attacks…

It appears that the woodchuck has moved on.  It did survive the interest of the hunting poodles.  We saw it the next morning, but it did look all there goes the neighborhood.   A skunk has moved in under the shed to take its place.

Incidentally, the neighbors were very gracious about fixing the shed and offering to replace some dug up plants.  They have an electric fence for their dogs, but the dogs apparently think it is worth a zap to run in the meadow. I don't think that they are irresponsible owners.   The dogs, when not digging up around my shed, were very friendly and quite good looking.

We had a raccoon visit the deck on Thursday night.  It managed to work the hummingbird feeder down its hanging pole and emptied that out completely.  We have also seen a red squirrel swinging away on the bird feeder.
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Feeders that can keep out grey squirrels don't always keep out the smaller red squirrels.  We have never had grey squirrels bother the feeders, and this is the first time we have seen a red squirrel.  I guess word gets out in the animal kingdom.

Wasps are building a huge nest in the peak over the garage.
Crows visit every afternoon, but I do throw bread out for them, so they are invited.

We never have to even turn on the television.  We have no end to available live animal entertainment.  They are all quite cute, but there does seem to be a limit.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Strange Growth

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Just the other day I noticed two little mushroom-like fungi on this tree.  They grew quite rapidly.  I swear, first the rhubarb, now this.  Why is it that it is the things that I really don’t care about that seem to flourish in the yard?
I am hoping that I will get a few tomatoes this year.  For the past two, we have been hit by late season blight.  The woodchuck ate my beans and lettuce this year.  This year he ate my chervil.  Marauding dogs dug up my lambs’ ears and trampled my hosta and a lovely fern, not to mention the holes that need to be dealt with, plus damage to the shed.
Wilted rose
Condo living is looking better all the time.
Mike has used the new mower at least three times already.  I have not used it at all.  He is disappointed in the over all quality of materials and engineering of the new machine as compared to the 23 year old mower.  He sold that old one to a guy that is hoping to restore it.  It’s true, they just don’t make things like they used to.
Personally, I blame consumers over American manufacturers.  We demand cheap prices over quality.  Live better for less?  I think it is live with lots of broken and shoddy stuff for less.
I am feeling quite crabby tonight,

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Digging in the Garden

The early part of last week was pleasant and I managed to get out and do a lot of weeding and some planting.  All of that work, unbeknownst to me, was being scrutinized by the neighborhood watch committee that maintains a station on the hill to the west of us.  Yep, my old friend Chuckie the Woodchuck has kept watch.

I am sure that he is perturbed that I did not plant beans and lettuce this year.  He did sample the liatrus and the chervil.  He dug a hole behind the lattice for the clematis vine and buried a few daffodils in the process, but when the expected veggies did not sprout, he moved on, just not too far.

You wouldn't think a little old woodchuck could do this much damage, would you?

Well. he didn't. A couple of dogs escaped their yard and came crashing through the field.  Two standard poodles.  They chased the woodchuck under the shed.  Persistent poodles.  They were not going to give up this fun game.  They were determined to get under the shed and teach that Chuckie a good lesson.  There are five of these holes around the back and the the north side of the shed.  There is the one, much smaller. woodchuck hole on the south side.  The siding is actually pulled away from the corner here.

Damn dogs!!  I should have been nicer to the woodchuck.

I have to say this kind of broke my heart.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Thursday Thoughts

May is over.  That is hard to believe.  Who ever it was that pointed out that this time of life is long days and short years hit the nail on the head.

On today's news, I learned that May was record breaking warm for Vermont.  I have to say I did not really notice.  Also, I learned that the number of people using food stamps has gone up 400%.  That did not surprise me since I do the grocery shopping.  Still, I find it incredibly sad that so many cannot afford the basic necessities--food, shelter, adequate health care.  Our country used to be better than this, I think.

I won't even talk about the dream of future generations (like my grand children) being able to finish a college education, let alone find a job that that education would prepare them to take on.

If there is anything at all to that "attraction theory" stuff, we best get on using it more altruistically.  That is my opinion.

So, on a more cheery note--I have been following Linda Reeder and her posts on their trip through Vermont.  It is funny how much one can take for granted.  I have been concentrating on the pot holes in the road and missing out on the beauty in the mountains.  Her pictures have inspired me to make some day trips around my home state this summer.  I will still pay some heed to the pot holes, though, for the sake of keeping my car in one piece.

I planted annuals in my gardens today.  I think of that as kind of a lazy approach, but there is something to be said for instant gratification once in a while.  (I dreamed about weeds popping up in the garden last night--I needed a bit of gratification today.)