Forsythia

Because everyone can use some bright yellow flowers with a bright blue sky with puffy white clouds. And dirt and rhododendron buds and andromeda bush flowers and a garden mermaid (that copper piece rotates and sprays water). This is especially for you, Honour, trying to give you some long-distance spring until your own arrives.

forsythia.jpg

Gaining Momentum

March 17 to April 2 – 2 weeks.
April 2 to April 8 – 1 week.
Next time I show you this shot who knows what else will have sprung!

march 17

March 17

April 2

April 2

April 8

April 8

This Might Be a Book Review

I’m reading a book. I am completely engrossed in it. When I stop reading, I am thinking about the characters, wondering what happens next. It’s not that they are DOING anything exciting. They are living their lives. If you asked me what this book is about, I think I’d be hard-pressed to make it sound like something you should read. It’s about a family of 4 children whose father dies suddenly when they, and he, are quite young, and about how they grow up and who they become.

I’m reading the book much too quickly, I know. I can see the parts where I should slow down and savor the words, but I can’t. I want to go back and be with them and know what happens. I’m hoping for a resolution. Mysteries have resolutions. Do lives have resolutions? That’s probably a question I should stop and ponder. The book has many lines that are worth pondering. I’m so impatient. I may have to go back and read parts of this again, because I’m sure there is more here than I’m getting on the first read.

I have forced myself away from the book at this point because there are things I need to do in my tangible world, and I really need to pull my attention out of my head and into something else. And that is ANOTHER reason why I know I should be slowing down. As I thought about how intensely I’m experiencing this story, I began to write this post. When I thought about how I’d describe it, I realized that it could be a story about my mother. My mother’s father died when she and he were both very young. I don’t think she ever recovered emotionally from that. I had a flash of – not insight – but more shift of perspective about my mother. Although I’ve always felt I understood what happened to her, and how it impacted her, I shifted and thought of her as a ‘story’. It changes nothing, really, except for making her childhood and her pain and the damage more intense because it distanced it from me. It wasn’t about ME anymore but about this third party, this other, and while it didn’t change a lot, I think I maybe should use this perspective sometimes to understand how death in one generation ripples on and on and on. I knew that too. I don’t think I’m doing a good job of explaining why it feels like a shift of perspective and understanding to see my mother as not my mother but as a character in a story. We react differently to constructs than we do to the flesh-and-blood parts of our lives.

the last romanticsI don’t know how close to the end I am because I’m using a new kind of book reader. I’m using something called “Bookshout”. It does have an app but you can also read the book via a web browser and that’s how I’ve been reading the book. On an app you can see the number of pages, % left in the book, and other such information. The web browser gives me the number of pages in the current chapter and that is it. Have you noticed that I have not yet NAMED this book? That’s because although I’m completely engrossed in it, I have no idea what it is called. The web browser does not display the name anywhere on the screen. *grin* So although I know I knew the name when I ordered it, I had long since forgotten it when I started writing this. *laughing* I had to go look it up on my order.

I wrote this post in what felt like a headlong rush, all in one breath. I’ve been on my reading hiatus now for several hours. I suspect that when I go back, I will again be totally bound by the words. I think I don’t even care anymore how it ends. I think that even if the ending somehow manages to disappoint me (which I do not believe will be the case), this book is still a fantastic read. I want to have it in paper form. I want to pick up this book in my hands, let it fall open anywhere and start reading it again. I want to hold it and feel it and look at the print while I think about what they are saying and feeling.

I guess what I’m saying is that I recommend this book, The Last Romantics, by Tara Conklin. 🙂

Not Quite A Book Review

a man with one of those facesOne of the bloggers that I follow often reviews books that he’s read. I love this idea, both from a reading point of view and a writing pov. That said, I don’t know that I would be an especially insightful reviewer. I am reading a book at the moment that got very good reviews. I’m not “getting it”. I think it might be satire. I have a feeling I’m very bad at satire. 🙂 If I know the topic well, I can recognize satire and enjoy it (or not, depending on the quality of the writing). If I don’t know the topic, and I’m not familiar with the author, I’m often quite lost as to how I’m ‘supposed’ to react. Many years ago a friend gave me one of Carl Hiassen‘s books, telling me that I would LOVE it because not only was it a mystery but it was funny. I don’t remember the book (it was YEARS ago) but I do remember wondering when the humor would happen. Given Hiassen’s success, I am apparently out of step with the reading public on this. I wonder if now that I’m older (much older) I’d better appreciate it.

I’m not always very good with irony, either, although that one might have definitely been because I was too young to appreciate it. I believe I might be the only living soul who didn’t love Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. I have an acquaintance who has read it something like 10 times (seriously? aren’t there any other books you want to read????? the girl with all the giftswho has the TIME to read something 10 times??). Obviously this is also something that needs another attempt. I KNOW I had almost no sense of humor when I was younger. As I look at the first sentence of Pride and Prejudice now, the humor is completely clear.

There was another author I discovered many years ago and I really loved the writing, the characters and the plots. But she never allowed her recurring characters any happiness. Whenever she wrote them in a bit of joy, she made sure to destroy it in the next book. I really can’t keep reading that. I understand that no one has a perfect life. But most of us do find some sort of peace, even if not major joy. Our lives are not an unending stream of betrayals, loss, misery and guilt. Or maybe they are, but I don’t need to read it. I felt the same way about the TV series “Once Upon A Time“. I loved the premise, it started out great, and then no one ever got to be happy. Ever. That doesn’t work for me.

I read to relax and escape – I rarely read to better myself. I do a lot of things in my day-to-day living that better myself. *grin* Or so *I* think. *laughing* Feel free to disagree. Reading gives me a vacation and escape. I really enjoy mysteries, because that genre has the tradition of closure – we get to know “who did it” even if that person isn’t always brought to formal justice. 14 peter clinesI do like a good romance novel periodically because I know exactly what I’m getting and I can pretty much guarantee I’ll feel upbeat at the end of the book. Yes, it is better when it also includes good writing, believable characters and a good story, but if I can’t escape to a warm tropical beach sometimes escaping into the romance genre is a great escape. 🙂 I love historical novels too. Ask the folks who know my family about us and our dinner conversations (especially Hannibal and the elephants) and they will laugh and roll their eyes and say – oh yeah, them and history!

So what authors have I been reading in the last year or so and enjoying? Louise Penny (LOVE), Michael Connelly, Elly Griffiths, Faith Martin, Robert Galbraith (yes, I know who that is REALLY), Peter Grainger, and Charles Todd. There were 2 books I read digitally that I found so intriguing, and that I thought my son would enjoy, that I bought them in paperback for him as well: ‘The Girl With All the Gifts‘ by M.R. Carey and ‘14‘ by Peter Clines. I also enjoyed ‘Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore: A Novel‘ by Robin Sloan. uprootedIt occurs to me that my brother-in-law might enjoy those 3 as well. I think they are all probably classified as science fiction or fantasy, but I don’t really think of them that way. There are aspects in all that step out of what we’d call ‘reality’, but the plots and characters are what capture my interest. I also recommend Naomi Novik’s “Uprooted” and “Spinning Silver“. Those 2 are classed as fantasy but again what makes them so interesting is not the fantasy part, but the people and relationships. I’d also recommend Caimh McDonnell‘s Bunny McGarry books. How can you NOT love a series that begins: “The first time somebody tried to kill him was an accident. The second time was deliberate.” It is a very funny series with strong characters.

As I said, this is not really a book review, but I do enjoy seeing what Donald has to say about what he is reading. I thought I’d toss out my opinions as well. Happy reading!

Tuna Stir Fry

tuna stir fry- shallots, bok choy, mushroomsWe used to eat a lot of fish. I’m not sure what changed, but that has not been the case lately. If we’re eating meat, it tends to be chicken, although we’ve had a lot of beef since Thanksgiving. Perhaps it was the winter weather, or maybe because the grocery store is on the wrong side of the road for me on my way home (and I don’t like that fish market very much), or because my husband no longer stops for fish on HIS way home – I don’t know. But I realized that I missed it and I did NOT want to be eating so much beef.

tuna stir-fry- add the thai peanut sauceWhen I did the grocery shopping this weekend I picked up some scrod and some tuna. My husband used to bring home sashimi-quality tuna from the fish market he passed on his way home. He would season it with a bit of oil, lemon and salt & pepper, and then sear it quickly. Fantastic. I knew the tuna I got at the grocery store was not that quality, so I spent a little time thinking on what to do with it.

tuna stir fry- add the zuchcinni noodlesThe scrod was an easy decision. My husband baked it with lemon juice and a little salt, and we had fish sandwiches made with the fresh bread I’d bought. I haven’t been baking much bread lately. I’ll need to get a few loaves in before it’s Passover and we’re eating matzah. Matzah is fine, but it is NOT bread. 🙂

I thought that I would take the tuna steak and slice it the way restaurants serve tuna – in strips, as opposed to one whole unit. My husband is not as enamored of raw tuna as I am, so I knew I had to cook it. I’m trying to get us back to a diet with a lot of vegetables – have to get ready for spring and all of those outfits that do NOT hide winter accumulation.tuna stir fry - add the tuna I also know that I have a tendency to throw LOTS of ingredients into the wok, so I wanted to rein in that temptation as well.

I decided on a Thai peanut sauce (a bottle I picked up at the Asian market). I knew that the sauce was fairly light and not over-powering. The ingredients for the stir fry would be bok choy, shallots, mushrooms and the tuna. I think the shallots have a lighter flavor than onions. We’d serve it with zucchini noodles (I cheated on that too and bought it fresh at the store). The beauty of cooking the tuna, and the limited number of ingredients, was the speed with which it cooked. I’d been doing chores and errands all day, and didn’t really feel like spending a lot of time cooking.

I thought it came out very well. It had a decent balance of color, no one flavor was overwhelming, and it was healthy. Zucchini noodles and riced cauliflower are great assistance in trying to be healthier in my food choices but still have something that feels like carbs!
tuna stir fry- ready to eat

Cat Studies

cats enjoying the fireplace

Whiling away a raw rainy 1st day of Spring

a bath before sleeping

A bath before napping

Black cat with pillows

I like my pillows

let sleeping cats lie

Even asleep I am the cutest cat in the world, says WC. Note my pink ears and pink paw pads.

Seeing is Believing

front gardenwith curly grass
Yesterday I walked about in my bare feet, toes digging into the still-wet earth. The last week has been wonderful for my psyche – the plants are coming back!!!! I walk out each day and simply STARE at the green leaves and the yellow and purple crocuses. I have things coming up where I know I planted something new last year. what is this?Unfortunately, the little sign is gone so I’m not sure WHAT it might be. I have other long-loved perennials pushing through as well. I know what they are by where they are, because I don’t always recognize the new growth. Last year I planted the curly grass (you can see it in the top picture) and it made it through the winter. I’m a little sorry I put it where I did, because there is typically a large planter in front of that spot so most people won’t see it unless they are looking at it directly.

lemon thyme wintered overIt’s also exciting to see how many of my herbs wintered over. In one of the pots I have either lemon balm coming back, or sorrel. Or maybe it’s a weed. *grin* I’m waiting to see. It also appears that both the bay and the rosemary might have made it through the winter as well. I usually lose both of those and have to buy new ones, but they are both still fragrant and supple, even if I’m not seeing new green yet. I can always hope. 🙂 The photos show the lemon thyme, sage and chives that most definitely wintered over.

The crocuses pushed through and the daffodils are all showing buds. I had more poppies but I do not have much luck with them. I’ve planted them several times yet they don’t seem to thrive. There’s only one showing at the moment. I noticed the Monkshood is coming up along the driveway. I try not to plant poisonous plants, but I ordered these last year anyway.yellow crocuses It was such a mild winter that I’m wondering if my canna lilies might come back. They never have in the past, so I’m not really expecting them this year either, but there does seem to be something happening in that general region.

Two weeks ago I needed more reassurance that spring would really get here. As I mentioned in the last post, I’d bought some bulbs and tubers. I also placed an order with my favorite online nursery, Heritage Flower Farm. I’ve mentioned before that I ADORE Rudbeckia laciniata var. hortensia, or as they are in the vernacular, the outhouse plant. *grin* Insult them if you wish, but they are gorgeous and a group of them tall and proud in the summer sunshine is a sight to behold.

sage wintered overWhen I’m ordering plants I try now to stick to perennials. I’m trying to save both dollars and my energy. If it’s going in the ground, I want a perennial. I’ll put the annuals in the big pots. I always want to find flowers for the pollinators – trying to grow native plants. I have very little area that is full sun, so I need plants that will also tolerate shade. And I like tall, bushy, wild-looking plants. Some people do color-themes, but I like a riot of color. Every time I say to myself that yellow is my favorite flower color, I realize that I love orange too, and there’s a lot to be said for red, and you need white to bring out the contrast, and purple picks up the colors in my awnings, and blue is spectacular. You can see why I have LOTS of colors. They are all the best. 🙂

here come the poppiesThe rest of my current order from Heritage includes Agastache foeniculum Anise hyssop, Asclepias tuberosa Butterfly weed, and Boltonia asteroides False starwort, Bolton’s aster. The Butterfly weed is to encourage the monarch butterflies that still exist in our area, and it grows 2-3 feet tall. The hyssop blooms later in summer and is blue, when a lot of my late summer is orange and yellow. It grows 3-5 feet and does not require full sun AND the deer don’t like it. Given how often I’ve come home and found a handful of deer grazing on my neighbor’s lawn, I try to find things they DON’T like Chives wintered over(and hide the things they do like behind those). The Bolton’s Aster is new for me. I was intrigued by the description and height (6′): “cloud of profuse, spectacular small white daisies cover this 6 foot tall Midwestern native. Exceptional because it flowers in fall”. I’m not sure yet where to plant this. I think I may need to dig up some more of my lawn. 🙂

Soon. Soon. Soon. Digging in the dirt, removing the debris and weeds, preparing the beds. Soon.


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