That’s what WordPress tells me – 12 years ago today I started blogging. That sounds about right because my SL birthday is June 26. Wow. Twelve years. So much has changed. I don’t blog much about SL anymore. I’m not even in contact with most of my SL friends, even though I met so many of them F2F. Maudlin though it might sound – they are all still very much a part of me. Very real to me even if it’s been years. My SL life was so vivid. Intense. It started me on a great path that led to a new job, a new outlook on life, a new me. I think my enjoyment of taking and framing pictures began with all those zillions of screen shots. 🙂 Prior to SL I’d been curating a haiku board on someone else’s website, but blogging my SL life gave me a whole new way to write. I thank all of you who follow me and who just drop in to visit. 🙂 Having reminisced, I know to move on and talk about cats and food and flowers. 🙂
I don’t think I have any new cat pictures to share. WC is not feeling very well. She’s spent most of today under the bed. 😦 She and GC will be 18 in August. They’re entitled to whatever foibles they care to exhibit. BC says she has no foibles. She is a work cat, she says, helping me get things done. Funny, somehow whenever she is in my lap while I’m working, my productivity rate slows.
I do have some food pictures I haven’t shared yet. 🙂 You’re probably tired of me raving about the perfect 40 minute rolls. I baked a PERFECT batch of them the other night. I also made sesame noodles and coleslaw that night. I’m wanting the wheatberry salad but that takes a lot more time and effort.
And of course the garden. There are ALWAYS pictures of flowers and plants. I get such joy from the flowers. I have 2 rose mallow plants growing in the front garden. They are a variety of hibiscus – perennial in this zone. I’m hoping that they thrive. It would be such a joy to have hibiscus flowers every year. I don’t think the colors will be as spectacular as the tropical hibiscus but I think the size of the rose mallow flower is much larger. Only time and good fortune will tell!
My grape tomatoes are ripening! The radishes are doing something, but I really think they are doing something odd, not something radishy. I am sure they are growing down and long, not round. The bits of red I can see between the leaves and the soil look distinctly oblong, not spherical. I’m giving them a bit longer. No pictures of those yet.
I had to hunt down canna lilies this year. Last year I had no trouble finding them and I noticed that the butterflies seemed to really enjoy them. I already told you my thrill upon seeing one of those tropicana canna lilies wintered over and is growing. I have a recollection that I usually head out the last week in June to get my cannas. I went out on Saturday. Unlike my usual style I’ll cut this story short. It took me over 1.5 hours to find them. 3 Home Depots, 1 Lowes, 1 of my usual nurseries and a Walmart. It was the 3rd Home Depot where I finally found some. They were not all that great looking either. 2 of them had tags indicating variety, the other 3 did not. I’m hoping they are tropicanas because those grow to 6 feet. I was planning to go online and pay whatever I had to pay to get some cannas if that last store had not had them. I was exhausted, it had started raining, the humidity was horrible and I was distraught at the idea of no cannas. There were 7 left at the store. At one point I had all of them in my cart, but then I put 2 back. I wasn’t really sure I could fit 7 in the garden (they get fairly large) and I thought maybe someone else was hunting for cannas as crazed as I was by the scarcity. I promise you a picture as they get larger.
My lovage is doing very well in its new location. The ones I left behind in the planter are not as happy. I do like the blue flowers. 🙂 Do you have any idea how difficult it is to weed around a cactus? They don’t seem to appreciate the effort I make to keep their pots clear of clover and other weeds.
My pollinator plants are doing well. I have lots of bees all over the goose neck (Lysimachia clethroides) and the swamp milkweed. No one seems to have discovered the hyssop or the butterfly weed yet. I hope the butterflies get here. 🙂 Can the bees use up all the good parts???
She looks oh so innocent, doesn’t she? Adorable, sweet, quiet. You might ask, “WHY is she sleeping THERE?” Why? Because if she is there, the moment I move from my chair she will know, and begin meowing piteously for more cat treats. She has become addicted to Greenies. She will meow and meow and meow until she falls asleep in exhaustion. That is NOT a picture of sweet innocence. That is a picture of the fierce predator in wait for the prey. 🙂 I ❤ WC.
I’m very proud of myself. I finally tamed (mostly) the side garden. I had to hunt for a photo to show how bad it was because I have very carefully NOT been taking pictures of that disaster. 🙂 All I have is a cropped piece of a photo from April. Trust me – it was a lot worse by the time June came around. About a week ago I couldn’t stand the sight of it anymore and began tying back the forsythia and yanking weeds. There were flowers in there once, I know. The problem is that the weeds look exactly like the flowers I plant. I never know if what I’m looking at is weed or flower. And of course there was the incident of the weed that was pretending to be rhubarb.
I took a few hours one morning and began the cleanup, so I could transfer some flowers to the side (mostly peppermint and my borage). That involved cutting back a good part of the rhododendron, and hacking out some very deep-seated weeds. The white azaleas need to be hacked back as well, but I couldn’t do it all in one day. Once the azaleas are cut back we might be able to see the hydrangea that is there. I need to find either a good ladder or a brave soul so the top of the rhododendron can be cut back. I don’t really need it reaching the roof, and that’s where it seems to be heading.
There are some plants that are well behaved and still contained, playing nicely with each other. The lilies look great next to the gaillardia. I’m hoping the mandevilla that is just sneaking in at the side of the gaillardia (you can see 2 partial leaves) will make it this year. Either I bought an unhealthy plant or I’ve been over-watering it (my guess) or it got sick, but its leaves keep turning yellow. 😦 There are flowers and new shoots on it, so I’ve decided to leave it alone for a bit and see how it does. Benign negligence. Those 2 are in the front garden. The shot below is part of the bed between the street and the sidewalk. It’s almost rudbeckia time!! I finally looked up the yellow flowered brown leaved perennial: lysimachia ciliata ‘Firecracker’. What the description doesn’t say is that it is nearly indestructible!
The best part of the side garden is that one of my canna lilies from last summer wintered over, and is coming up! This is incredibly exciting for 2 reasons. First, just the fact that something that wonderful wintered over thrills me. 🙂 Second, they cost SO MUCH per plant. This one is saving me at least $25. 🙂 That is ALWAYS appreciated.
Ahhhh – summer! Time of fresh berries straight from the farm! Most of you probably DON’T know that NJ is the Garden State. We have (or at least had) large and small farms all over the state. Everyone grows something edible in their garden. There is nothing as refreshing and wonderful as a fresh fruit salad made with blueberries, strawberries, nectarines, blackberries, raspberries and maybe a kiwi or two. Yum! When I put the berries into my cart somehow I can’t stop, and I find myself at checkout with LOTS of berries. As much as I like snacking on berries, even I can’t always keep up with the amount I’ve brought home. That means pies!
Way back in the fall I discovered the rustic apple cranberry tart recipe. What I loved about that recipe was the crust. It’s a galette – a one crust pie where the bottom crust is overly large and just folds around the filling, no need to cover the entire pie. I used that crust recipe and filled it with berries, using a Bon Appetit Berry Galette recipe for guidance on the filling. I like that crust recipe a lot. I’m not sure why but it always feels just a bit easier than my normal 2 crust recipe, maybe because I am working with less dough. I also made a pie one time with the leftover dough from the 2-crust recipe. I had to stretch that dough to make a rough lattice. I was in a hurry to have it ready for dinner so I didn’t weave the strips, but I assure you that it tasted just fine anyway! 🙂
My romaine lettuce did GREAT!!!! It was large enough and healthy enough that I could make a salad without having to add lettuce from the store. 🙂 I had 3 radishes that COULD have gone into the salad but we ate them. 🙂 I have a lot to learn still about growing vegetables. I crowd them, and mix mismatched sun-types in the same pot. It’s very encouraging, however, when I actually get it right and end up with viable produce! The lettuce appeared to be very happy in a pot of its own, hanging off the porch railing. I’ll plant another!
The celery isn’t quite ready but you can see that it IS looking very celery. The fun thing about celery is that it grows above ground so I can track the progress. With my radishes I sort of poke around in the dirt if they are not showing through. And yes – I do see that little weed in there that needs to be pulled
I’ll need to grow more lettuce so that I can make another salad, this time with the grape tomatoes!
I spend a lot of time in my breakfast room at my table. As I’ve mentioned before, that has spurred me to start shedding some love on the back yard. I shared pictures of what I’ve done, but those pictures showed all the weeds and mess. Check out how great it looks now that I went out there and weeded and cleaned!!! I still have more work to do in the part behind the deck, and out of sight of this photo. There is still so much weeding to be done in the driveway as well. But for the moment I’m resting on my laurels and enjoying the view!
As you can tell by my photos, I spend A LOT of time on the front and side of the house. There never used to be much reason to spend a lot of effort in the back as I never really saw it. We have a huge deck (I think it’s 14′ x 20′) attached to the house and we entertain there. You’ve seen the photos of the trellis all around it with the ivy thick on the trellis. The only view of the back yard is from my breakfast room window or when you are walking from the driveway up to the deck. Since I never sat in my breakfast room facing the windows, I didn’t really care about that yard. I’d tried various methods to tame the weeds. I tried putting down burlap covering the dirt so we could get to the composter. I tried using bamboo fencing as a pathway. My goal was about walking to the composter, not about having a nice view.
Once we redid the kitchen 2 years ago, I ended up with my wonderful round counter-height table. I sit there all the time. In front of me is the glass wall and door to the deck. To my left is the back yard. Which looked terrible. I began working on it last summer. There are a few problems with the area. The first is the lack of sun. Because of the trees, house, garage and deck that area gets almost no sun on the back property line and very little between the deck and the garage. The soil is poor and complicated by the fact that over 25 years ago I had landscaping done. Why is landscaping a problem? Because landscapers put down that horrible black weed-barrier material, which is nearly impossible to cut. It doesn’t prevent weeds, either. I had the area around the deck completely mulched. I had visions of my son and his friends climbing on the deck rail and falling off. The mulch deteriorated, we replaced it many times, and it became and accumulated dirt. The weeds grew in the dirt. There was easily a minimum of 2 inches of dirt above the weed barrier. I began trying to grow plants back there. They’d die because they couldn’t get roots down far enough. That’s what led to the burlap and bamboo paths.
I finally realized last year that if I wanted plants I was going to have to do battle with the weed block. First I need to determine the battle site, excuse me, site for the plant. Then I need to push all the dirt to the side to uncover the weed barrier. It is now over 25 years old, so sometimes it yields fairly easily to the box cutter knife. Other times I could swear the barrier was made of steel. Not only do I need to clear the barrier from an area sufficiently wide to dig a hole, I have to slice it for a distance from the hole so the plant can spread. I’m not sure that I always do a sufficient job of slicing to enable spreading. It takes a lot of strength and energy to cut that material, even as aged as it is. I’ve started looking for shade-loving plants (I should move the cilantro back here) and ground covers that will spread. I really don’t want to have to deal with this yard with the effort that the front requires. I’m very pleased with how it’s looking these days, although you can tell from the photos that it is due for a massive weeding. I was planning to do that this weekend but I ended up tackling the rhododendron and the weeds on the side of the house, and then weeding the driveway. Oy. Exhausting.
I’ve ordered another 5 stepping stones for the walkway. The bugleweed is doing GREAT. It looks beautifully healthy and has already begun to spread. My only reluctance about it is that it is not native to this area. Besides supporting pollinators, I’ve tried to grow native plants. The lamium (dead-nettles) is doing well also. The 3 smaller plants closer to the house are all from last year. The larger one I bought this year (and did indeed buy a larger plant than I bought last year). There is a small coral bells near the entrance to the garage that is still struggling – I planted it last year. There are 2 larger ones back by the ivy. The curly grass was a transplant from my sister’s yard this year. The tag on it claims it likes shade whereas the site I linked says sun, so we’ll see how it makes out. I need to prune the dead curls and figure out if it’s struggling or doing alright. I added a fern this year that is thriving (it was fairly large to begin with). That was the site of a major skirmish with the weed barrier, complicated by 2 huge tree roots. I forgot to mention that the tree roots are yet another complication in the back yard. I’d planted ivy last year (the solid bright green) and then added more, smaller plants this year. Considering how well ivy does coming up on the deck trellises, I’m hoping they will cover the barrier hiding my neighbor’s garage. 🙂 I moved some spiderwort 3 years ago, as well as some goldenrod. The spiderwort is holding firm but the goldenrod gave up the struggle.
The fuchsia are hanging from a pole that I used to put in the front, in the middle of my rudbeckia. I decided it worked much better in the back. When we first moved into the house, the front of the house was shaded by 3 large trees that are no longer with us. For years I’d hang huge baskets of fuchsia on the front porch. Once the trees were gone, so went the fuchsia. I’m very happy to have them back where I can enjoy them. The vine along the deck trellis is a new experiment. It’s adlumia fungosa, also known as Allegheny Vine or Bleeding Heart Vine. I got this (along with my usual butterfly-attracting plants) from Heritage Flower Farm this year. I didn’t really understand what it means to be a biennial plant. I gather I’m not going to get any flowers this year but next year the flowers will come. I thought it also meant that it flowers every other year Apparently it will die at the end of the 2nd year. If I’m lucky, it will seed itself and repeat the cycle. I’ve had limited success with self-seeding plants (note to self: STOP hiring the yard cleanup crew in December). In addition, what I’ve been reading seems to imply that Allegheny Vine is a bit finicky. Given the poor soil back there, I suspect that I’ll be lucky to even get flowers next year. It was worth a try, and maybe it will turn out better than expected! Sometimes plants do flourish when you least expect it. *laughing* ESPECIALLY in the cracks of my driveway!!!
I have radishes!!!!! I grew them from seed!!!! REAL RADISHES!!!! 🙂 They even tasted good. I am soooooo impatient and that made me do a very dumb thing. The first radishes I tried to grow I had in the same container as the cilantro. I knew the minute I finished seeding that it had been a mistake. Radishes need sun and my experience with cilantro is that it wants very little sun. My radishes had been growing for WEEKS. I figured there MUST be a radish down there somewhere. I pulled one up.
It was the saddest excuse for a radish you’ve ever seen. Yes, there was something radish-red at the end of the leaves, but it was as skinny as a root. It was maybe a half an inch long and probably not even 1/4 of an inch in diameter. In disappointment and despair I pulled the 5 of them up and tossed them. I could see that the ones growing out there in the sun were doing much better. I think that had I just left those 5 little ones alone for awhile (or killed the cilantro and not the radishes), they’d have grown up. I got another empty container, filled it with soil and seed starter, and planted MORE RADISHES!!
“Plant a radish, get a radish, never any doubt, That’s why I love vegetables, you know what you’re about!”
When I was younger, I thought that Truth was a singular object – there was ONE Truth, and ONLY one Truth. To be honest, I probably thought that way until I was in my late 30s, early 40s, or whenever it was I began studying Torah with different rabbis. One weekend Rabbi Judith Abrams, ז״ל, was a scholar-in-residence at our congregation. She had us read a line from Kings II. It was a very simple line, someone entering a courtyard. She read the line aloud and then asked us to describe what we ‘saw’ as she read the line.
I was astounded. It was a life revelation for me, as evidenced by the fact that decades later I can still see her, see the room, see the other people studying. We all described the scene differently. One line, one action, one simple description. None of us really read it, saw it, the same way. She taught us that we all bring to every and anything our own history and experiences. We fill in the blank spaces of a sentence with our own life. That means that none of us will have identical interpretations.
What is Truth? I’ve come to learn that the answer to that is “it depends”. Truth is not singular. Yes, there are some truths on which nearly all of us would agree, yet if you had each one of us describe that truth, you’d find variations. There is no “full truth” for anything. Even for the things that are ‘cut and dried’ (I hesitate to use the common expression “black & white” these days), there are gradations. We might agree but odds are there is some little detail on which I say “this” and you say “that”. *laughing* Dare I write that THAT is the Truth???
What’s the point of this post? Nothing major. I guess I’m uncomfortable with headlines and people claiming they have THE TRUTH. I’m not sure how productive it is to try to make everyone agree to every single detail of a relationship. I’d like to see more people agree to agree on the majority of the details and move forward to solutions and results. *rueful smile* And even as I wrote this I knew that somewhere, someone does not agree with me and will want me to change MY truth to their truth. Sigh. Stay safe, folks.
I come from central New Jersey where sister when you’re bored They bring you up to meet in shops where you’d eat But now there’s social distance and I can’t meet with my friends I drove out of this borough to where the state line ends
I drove down to the river And along the river I rode Oh down to the river I drove
In my red convertible on twisty winding lanes I traveled through new jersey, and I was grateful for the lack of rain The sun shone down so brightly my heart began to soar No traffic delays no tolls to pay No sand dunes, no windy shore
That day I drove down to the river And along the river I rode Oh down to the river I drove
I woke up completely cranky on Saturday. I don’t know why. My suspicion is that I was going through challah withdrawal. Every Friday night since March 13 (with the exception of Passover of course) I have had a fresh-baked challah, courtesy of my brother-in-law. As I mentioned before, he’d had a fever for 2 days last week, so we did not all get together for dinner. No challah!!!! I can’t think of any other reason why I’d wake up cranky on a beautiful Saturday morning.
I tried to work my way around the ‘crank’. I took care of the cats, finished a book. I wanted to work in the garden but it was sooooo humid!!!! A real NJ summer day. Temperature expected to get up in the 80s and humid humid humid. I was hoping that maybe I could find some outdoor event but of course everything is still cancelled. I tried to “accomplish” something so I’d feel less cranky. I ironed ALL of my tops that needed ironing. That made me feel self-righteous as well as productive. Back in the old days, children, people use to work in OFFICES (a collection of rooms and desks and chairs in a building). When we worked in an office, we used to have to wear nice clothes, because other people would see us – head to toe – NOT just see our head and shoulders. Back in those days, my husband used to do all the ironing. I would do all the laundry (washing and putting away clean folded clothes) and he would do all the ironing and folding of clean clothes. When the Change occurred, and people no longer worked in offices, people stopped wearing nice clothes for work. Since my husband only has phone calls, and never F2F visits or even video conferencing, he didn’t need nice clothes. He stopped doing the ironing. While this was fine for him, it did ultimately leave ME without any nice presentable (ironed) tops. I was lucky that the iron still functioned. I’ve already written about my difficulties with the iron. THIS time I made sure I had plenty of water to keep the beast hot. 🙂
I was so empowered by the ironing that I felt I could tackle changing the battery on the phone line box. I don’t feel like taking a picture of it. I don’t know what it’s called. It’s where all the phone lines come into the house, and it has a battery in it. For several months now the battery warning light has been on, the replace battery light has been on, and periodically the unit emits a piercing beep. My brother-in-law came by to look at it a few weeks ago to help me figure out what battery I needed to order. I ordered it, it came and it sat there, next to the unit. That didn’t seem to be sufficient because the unit kept beeping and the lights stayed on. Finally I opened the unit but the battery had weird-looking connections so I shut it again and left the battery a little closer. Saturday morning I decided to be brave and strong. I changed the battery. The red warning lights all turned off and there hasn’t been a beep since then. 🙂 Victory!
I was still cranky. It was hot and humid but I figured by this time of day (it was after noon)the beaches would be full. I NEEDED to MOVE. I didn’t really care where I went, as long as it was away. I grabbed my beach bag (which has towels, and hats and stuff for being out in the sun) and got in the convertible. 🙂 Top down. 😀 I headed west, towards the Delaware River. It’s not the shore, but it’s a nice drive (if you don’t take the highways) and maybe, just maybe, something along the river would be open. I was craving a chick cocktail. There is a restaurant in New Hope, PA (The Landing) that makes great cocktails.
The drive was wonderful. I wasn’t too hot because of the moving air. It doesn’t feel humid when the air is moving past you. When I got to Hopewell, I saw that one of the restaurants appeared to be serving food in front of the firehouse. I’d met a woman who lived across from that restaurant and we’ve texted a time or two. I texted her to see if she wanted to meet at the firehouse. I figured I could always turn around and go back if she wanted to get together. As long as I was stopped, I texted friends in Titusville to see if they wanted to meet up along the river, since I was nearly there. Well the friend from Hopewell now lives in Pennington (not all that far but she’d only just moved and was still trying to bring order to her life) and the friends from Titusville were all the way NORTH with family. 🙂 No matter – I kept heading west.
I crossed the river in Lambertville, into New Hope, PA. New Hope looked very open to me. As I crossed the bridge I could see folks at the outdoor tables of The Landing. People were walking along the main street, and shops were open. I could see people dining at other outdoor tables. I almost stopped – I actually pulled over into a parking spot. Then I decided that if I GOT a cocktail, I really shouldn’t keep driving the twisty, winding 2-lane roads I love. I didn’t feel like shopping alone, either. To be honest – it was simply wonderful driving the car, looking at the countryside, the trees, the canal, the river. Besides, trying to find a legal parking spot in New Hope is nearly impossible. I pulled out of the spot I was in (it wasn’t legal but I hadn’t turned off the car) and got back on the road. For those who know the area, I was driving north on Rt 32. I got up to Dilly’s Corner, which has the bridge back across the river to Stockton. I turned onto the bridge and noticed Dilly’s was OPEN! When I reached Stockton I turned around, because I thought a chocolate milkshake would be perfect. I drove BACK to Dilly’s. They were only taking online orders or phone calls. I had my phone with me, but it seemed like an awful lot of work for a milkshake. Got back in the car and went back over the bridge, and headed north on Rt 29.
You can really see the river between the trees from that part of the road. It was lovely. I passed a small parking area for accessing the river. It was full. I passed another one – Bull’s Island Recreation Area. I thought – why not stop? I turned around and went back and parked the car. It was LOVELY. There is a boat launch, access to the Delaware & Raritan canal, forest, and a pedestrian bridge to PA. Of course the bathrooms and recreation area and visitor center were all closed due to covid19. There WAS a park ranger sitting at the entrance. Poor fellow – even in the shade it was a bit humid. The boat launch into the river was closed, but there was a smaller launch into the canal. I saw a couple sitting in chairs, near the canal. They’d obviously come for the day – chairs, books, food. What a brilliant idea. It could have been me – I carry folding chairs and a table in the car. 🙂
The pedestrian bridge was great. It is the Lumberville-Raven Rock Pedestrian Bridge. It says it is toll-supported but I saw no toll. 🙂 I guess that means that tolls on other roads and bridges help support this one. I could stand in the middle and stare at the water. I did that. It worked, because when I closed my eyes that night to go to sleep, what I saw was the river. *huge smile* Across the bridge is the Black Bass Hotel with dining. I could see folks at the outdoor tables. It looked lovely. We’ll have to get back there and enjoy some fine dining ourselves. I relaxed, took pictures, and then got back in the car. I was trying to decide if I should continue north up to the Delaware Water Gap or if I should begin to head east towards home. I’d been out for about 2.5 hours at that point and while I wanted to keep going, I knew that sooner or later I was going to need a bio break. Furthermore it was a good 40 minutes or so to the Gap, at least the way I was going. From the Gap it’s an hour back home IF I take the highway and I was trying to avoid getting on any highways.
I continued up to Frenchtown, which also looked somewhat open, although not as open as New Hope. (Lambertville did NOT look open.) After Frenchtown I cut east, heading towards Whitehouse Station. I did cheat finally at Whitehouse Station and got on the highway to head home. All in all, by the time I got home, I’d spent 4 wonderful hours out in the fresh air and sunshine, enjoying New Jersey. AND I saw my first butterfly of the season!