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Thursday, April 26, 2007


You won't find me talking about politics here much. I didn't hear tonight's debate. But I did happen to catch Charlie Rose's interview with the President. Originally scheduled to be just 25 minutes, the conversation ultimately took up an entire hour. I thought that Rose did a wonderful job of letting the President explain his policies, his reasons for his decisions. It is so rare to hear civilized discourse of this kind. And rarer yet to be able to hear the President speak, uninterrupted, in such a lengthy, relaxed setting. Yes, he said (alas), "give my chance a plan"... but at least, for what may have been the first time, we got to hear what the plan IS. I'm glad I listened.

PS: If you go to the new and improved Charlie Rose site you will notice that you now have to hit "buy" if you want to view a segment. I thought at first I was going to have to pay. But no. "Buy", in this context (so far, anyhow) simply seems to mean "play".

How it all started

The mention of the fallen tree the other day (see "hole") reminded me about how I got started with the whole gardening thing in the first place. Up until that time, we'd lived here for twenty years and gardening wasn't anything I knew or thought much about. We hired someone to mow and blow, and pretty much ignored the dull but entirely manageable landscaping we'd inherited (azaleas, rhododendrons, hollies and boxwood, for the most part). Shade was what we had.

The fallen tree suddenly and dramatically introduced the idea (and the reality) of "sunlight", which made me think that a little garden might be fun. Naturally I bit off way more than I could chew and things got a whole lot worse before they began to get better. But what fun I have had, and what I have learned in the process! Now, ironically, my focus and goal is to somehow get back to that blissful "manageable" stage.

This is the busiest time of the year, but I'll try to find time to take some photos of some of the different areas of what is now and will probably forever be a "work in progress".

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Bees again

So today Althouse, like the New York Times, is finally picking up on the bee thing. I never saw anything about the cell phone theory in the mainstream press; I guess that's not being taken seriously. Too bad. I was all set to throw out my phone for the greater, greener good. I wouldn't have missed it.

Monday, April 23, 2007


There's a huge hole in my front yard. A bottomless pit, it seems.

I discovered it a few years ago when I was innocently mowing the lawn and my right leg suddenly went straight down to China. It all made sense - it was in the same spot where a mighty oak had stood for years. It toppled over while we were all in Ithaca for H's college graduation in 1994. I hadn't been able to get the stump taken care of properly at the time - there was a concern that there might be concrete somewhere inside, and equipment would be ruined. But over time it was somehow taken care of and pretty much forgotten - until the mowing mishap. Since then a spring ritual has been a trip to Home Depot to buy multiple bags of their cheap topsoil, each time thinking, "this will surely take care of it". Today I added another 200 pounds. I doubt if I'm finished with it.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


The nor'easter has come and gone, and I'm still in one piece. The basement, however, got more water than ever in the past. Apparently there is such a thing as a shop-vac that can be used with a garden hose attached, so that it works like a pump. Sounds good to me. But of course everyone in this part of the world wants one of these right now and they're impossible to come by. I'll let the dehumidifier chug away, doing what it can, and try to pick one up in a day or two or three. Always something.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Cell Phones and Bees

The dramatic and alarming reduction in the bee population has been much remarked upon. Now comes news that cell phones may be to blame. Can this be true?

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Hunkering down

What a strange spring. Pleasant enough today, but I'm worried about tomorrow:

Precipitation: 100%. Wind-driven heavy rain. High 42 deg F. Winds ENE at 25-35 mph. Rainfall possibly over 2 inches. Winds could occasionally gust over 50 mph.

No laughing matter when you are surrounded by 100 year old oaks that are inclined to keel over with no warning under such conditions. I've seen it happen again and again.

The Namesake

Often, when I've really loved a book, I'm reluctant - or at least hesitant - to see the movie version. But I was glad I went to see The Namesake, now at the newly-renovated Clairidge with "rocking-chair" seats. The actors were all perfect, especially Tabu, a big name Bollywood star, as the mother. Mira Nair, the director (Salaam Bombay!, Mississippi Masala, Monsoon Wedding) , followed the book reasonably closely (you can never include it all - so, read the book). I noticed in the credits at the end that Jhumpa Lahiri herself (the author) played a small part. I wish I had known that ahead of time - I'd have looked for her. I had gone to hear her read at Barnard College (her alma mater) a few years ago. I particularly enjoyed the Calcutta scenes, and the glimpses of Bengali household lilfe, both in Calcutta and in America. Highly recommended - go see it.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Day of beauty

This was today, at the mall. Daughter and mother-in-law are here for facials and make-up. Laura Mercier is here in person, supervising the makeovers. I am utterly out of my element, but always curious, and happy to be included in the girly outing.

I'll have what she's having....

Other languages - Urdu, for example - have a special word for "the mother of my daughter's husband". English is clumsy in that respect. At any rate, there are two of these special people in my life, and one of them is here for an extended visit. Yesterday we spent some time together in the city. Here we are at lunch. I have ordered the bento box, and she has chosen the open-face salmon sandwich.

Wait a minute! Yours looks so much better than mine! Waitress! I have changed my mind!

Ah! Much better. Delicious! I didn't photograph the tiny desserts: little rectangles of coconut custard with mango puree. Perfection.

Friday, April 06, 2007

People Reading

Yes, I'm slacking off again. I kept thinking I'd have some bloggable garden updates, but each day dawns grayer and drearier than the one before. Fine gardening weather for some - but not for me. Still, I've filled umpteen bags with winter debris and pruned most of the roses. Planted pansies at the library. It was my plan to treat the lawn with corn gluten meal this season - supposed to fertilize AND suppress weeds. This hasn't happened yet, and time is running short. Has to be done "when the forsythia blooms", which is NOW. Apparently you get it at a "feed store". Hmmm. Not a lot of those around here, though I think I saw such a thing in Westfield once, en route to Trader Joe's. Maybe worth a trip. Or maybe not.

Instead, much reading and DVD-viewing. Notably, Sofia Coppola's Marie Antoinette - a most charming confection. A book I particularly enjoyed was Vita Sackville-West's All Passion Spent, and I've just tracked down a BBC "Masterpiece Theater" version of same, starring Dame Wendy Hiller. I already know it's going to be wonderful.

And here's another blog I'm curiously addicted to: People Reading. Superficial, yes. But it only takes a second to check it out - no long-winded reviews or analyses. And sometimes you learn somthing.