Write on Wednesday – Won’t You Be My Neighbor – September 19, 2018

Our local movie theater in Easton, Maryland, has an Encore series on Thursdays. Movies at 1pm, 4pm and 7pm. My husband and I often go to the 4pm and then to dinner at Osteria Alfredo. For a small town Easton has its share of good restaurants and this is one of them. Excellent food and service…unless they are understaffed which happens from time to time. Osteria Alfredo is the same restaurant where the Stinky Book Club meets monthly. Although in Book Club emails the restaurant has been called Feckless Ostriches, Freaky Ostriches, Fractured Ostrich, Forsaken Ostrich, Ostrich Frenzy,  and Foolish Osprey. What can I say? We are three writers who like to play with words. I think the Ostrich part started when Laura’s husband could never remember the name of the restaurant.

The Thursday films are eclectic. Sometimes the things you would see at an art house. Sometimes a film that will be at the theater for only one day.  Sometimes films suggested by the regular attendees. The 4pm show is often sold out and the Osteria, which is in the same shopping center, is packed with those of us who like to go to bed early.

Last week my husband and I saw Won’t You Be My Neighbor, a documentary film about Fred Rogers.

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Filmmaker Morgan Neville delves into the life of the Fred Rogers, the man behind the show my children watched. I came out of the theater with a pocketful of wadded up Kleenex and a need to call my adult kids and tell them how special I think they are.

Read the reviews on Rotten Tomatoes and you’ll wonder, as I did, where are the Mister Rogers of today? We need them.

 

Six on Saturday – Waiting for the Florence – September 15, 2018

Wednesday, Sept 12: I’m starting to write this post earlier than usual because a major hurricane is coming our way and we may lose power by the weekend. As of this morning (Wednesday) the track has altered and now we are supposed to get less rain and wind. But the track may change yet again so we are prepared. We have a generator which my husband fires up weekly to make sure it will start. We have extra gas on hand. Flashlights are ready with fresh batteries. We bought bottled water and have lots of food. We won’t go hungry.

  1. Harvest: In preparation for the storm I harvested the spaghetti squash that I planted in July. I had eight full size squash and one immature. This was a fantastic harvest for me. Planting late seemed to be the solution to borer predation.

I also harvested Japanese eggplants. I can’t remember the specific variety. These were on two plants that came from Lowes. I plan to make parmesan oven fries from these. Yum!

I looked at the few beets remaining and decided they weren’t worth pulling. The beans are over the hill and will go on the compost. We are hunkered down and waiting.

One of my volunteer activites is to send out the weekly MailChimp reminder about our local Farmers Market. It goes out on Thursday morning to let folks know what the vendors will have on Saturday, if there will be music or a food demo and information about any pop-up vendors. In consultation with the Market Manager we decided a decision will be made late on Thursday about whether the market will be open or not. The Manager will then send out a notice to our email list. I have the format set up. Amanda will plug in the final information and hit “send.”

Living so close to the water we have to be aware of tides and the direction the wind pushes the water. We had over seven inches of rain last week and the Miles River is full to dock levels. Many waterfront properties are just a foot or two above sea level. Our little house is on a slight rise and we are 13′ above sea level. It would take a major flood to effect us. The thing I worry about is trees uprooting. The soil is already saturated and lots more rain and high winds could be problematic. I noticed yesterday that a neighbor had cut down a large pine that was listing.

Thursday, September 13: I took some photos before the rain starts. I expect the flowers will be down for the count by the end of the weekend.

2. Goldenrod (Solidago) is finally showing some color. It’s planted in front of miscanthus Morning Light.IMG_7312

3. I pulled out a lot of sedum “Autumn Joy” last year and planted it on my neighbor’s side of one of my lattice property dividers so they’d have this view from their porch.  On the mid-right you can see the pile of sticks that I’m collecting. After the storm there will be lots more.IMG_7297

4. Another sedum with a hot pink bloom is just beginning to flower. I think it is called Neon Pink.

5. Obedient Plant (Physostegia virginiana). A friend gave me a start and it has survived/thrived in the difficult bed near the shed. I notice that the blooming clump of variagated liriope is also doing well. I have it a number of places in the garden. Perhaps I should divide some and use it to edge that problem area which is often under water.

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6.  More sedum “Autumn Joy” and hostas between two silver maples. The bench is teak and came from my mother’s garden. My brothers and I gave it to her for her 75th birthday. In my 75th year I enjoy sitting on it and watching kids ride their bikes through my neighborhood. I had the bench pressure washed a couple of years ago and it was like new (except where the squirrels chewed on the armrests) but I rather like the lichens that grew back. Leaves are beginning to fall.

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Friday, September 14: Storm update: It appears now that Florence’s impact on our area will be rain next Monday and Tuesday. It doesn’t sound ominous for us, but I am thinking about all the millions of people in the way of this storm. In hurricanes water is always the biggest threat to life.

The Saturday Farmers Market is on so I’ll be able to get fresh mushrooms, a loaf of crusty sourdough bread and some organic pork chops for the weekend. I’ve got homemade tomato sauce in the fridge to spoon on top of spaghetti squash. I’ll sprinkle Pecorino Romano cheese on top and run it under the broiler for a minute or two. We’ll eat like we are in Italy…or maybe France. I’m trying to decide which bottle of wine to open. I love thinking about food. Almost as much as I love being in the garden.

That’s my six for this week, a meme started by The Propogator, a UK gardener. This is the link to the rules if you’d like to join in.

 

 

 

Write on Wednesday – Full Steam Ahead – September 12, 2018

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For the past two weeks I have been purging my office, culling old files and crawling under the furniture to dust. I brought in a new filing cabinet, removed a piece of furniture and repostioned a ceiling tall bookcase. All in anticipation of getting back the first full critique of the third book of my Caribbean series —  the whole thing. I’ve had helpful critiques on chapters by my Working Writers Forum group, but this was the whole manuscript and I wanted the decks cleared.

That happened on Saturday morning. I have to admit I was anxious. I knew this editor, who is also a friend, would give me her unvarnished opinion. And she did. Some parts she liked and she had some excellent suggestions for how to fix some things I knew just didn’t work. She brought to my attention story threads that had been left hanging.

There were a number of places where she noted that what I knew in my head about the characters had never made it onto the pages. I suppose all of us who write long fiction struggle, at some point in the process, of being too close to the story to know what is missing. She also made a detailed spreadsheet for me which included (among other things) the timeline, where and when characters appeared, and thematic issues. I printed it out on legal size paper and taped pages together.  This will be easier for me to work with than referring to the computer screen.

My next step is to read through all the notes in the manuscript. There are some plot and character arcs that need attention. I need to think about those and make some fix-it notes before I start the rewrite. My goal is to be ready to begin by the end of the weekend.

Full steam ahead.

Six on Saturday – September 8, 2018 – Fall on the Way

It doesn’t feel like fall yet. Our weather has been hot and humid. Stepping outside is like stepping into a sauna, but my husband is talking about moving firewood to the deck — when it cools off. He’s not into the gardens so much, but a fire everynight though the fall and winter is his thing. He takes total responsibility for ordering and stacking wood. We are always a cord and a half ahead so we have really nice, dry oak to burn. Coming from a house with five fireplaces, I am thrilled we are down to one.

  1. This was the week one of the river birches was removed. There is a flowering cherry, a small maple and a crepe myrtle that will fill in a lot of that area. I need to spend some time sitting and looking before I jump in and plant anything. The people who removed the tree also ground the stump. I need to dig some soil into the grindings and let it sit for a bit.
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Before

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After removal of river birch

2. Black-tailed Swallowtail. I have been watching the three chrysalis that I found. One hatched before I noticed. Another is taking forever which seems very odd. I think it’s dead.  And the third isn’t doing anything yet. Lots of black swallowtails are flying in the garden so I guess the birds didn’t get all the caterpillars. The fuzzy photo below is one that sat briefly on some foliage. One of its wings was deformed so I wondered if it had just hatched and wasn’t totally unfolded yet or was at the end of its life span.

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3. My Beauty Berry (Callicarpa) is beginning to turn purple. Some rubeckia have grown through making a nice diplay. When I googled Beauty Berry to get the scientific name, I also saw a link for Beauty Berry jelly. I don’t have enough berries to make jelly but it never would have occured to me to do so. The color would have said POISON to me.IMG_7262

4. Along my morning walk a Blackberry lily is seeding. I wonder if I could successfully grow this from seeds. The spring flowers are red orange.

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5. Figs from a friend were made into fig jam. I used the jam recipe in the SureJell package but substituted one cup of brown sugar for one of the cups of white sugar and added some vanilla. It is much better than my fig jam from last year. I made notes in my Bell Canning book from forty years ago.

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6. A stop at a local nursery where all shrubs were 40% off meant I brought three Heller’s Japanese Hollys and three Osmanthus ‘Goshiki’ home.  This wasn’t as impulsive as it sounds. I had been there earlier in the week and didn’t buy anything.

I don’t know where they will go yet, but probably in the area where the river birch came out.  I can stick the pots in the area and move them around to see what I like. There some abelias that don’t get so tall that I also have my eye on. If they are still there when things go to 50% off, I may get a couple.IMG_7281

That’s my six for this week, a meme started by The Propogator, a UK gardener. This is the link to the rules if you’d like to join in.

Six on Saturday – September 1, 2018 – Dominoes

I’m in a hurry this morning. And all because I want to put a small freezer in our garage. That required getting some electrical work done. And the freezer would displace one of two tall filing cabinets. I could use that second one in my office, I thought. To ready the garage for the work, things had to be moved away from the wall. Everything is now piled in the middle of the garage but the electrical work has been completed. Finding a small freezer is not so easy.

And in order to put the filing cabinet into my office I needed to reconfigure the furniture. That involved moving a ceiling height bookcase full of ten years worth of stuff that needs to be sorted and pitched. And what was on top and underneath of another table. All of that is now in my dining room. I discovered that the place I wanted to put the bookcase is where an old HVAC outlet is. It’s ancient and stuck out from the wall so I removed it and placed a cover on the floor. Not as easy as that sounds, but it is ready for a piece of baseboard. All this had to be done before I could think about moving the bookcase — just to see if I liked it in the new position. That will happen this morning. Hence the hurry with my Six on Saturday.

  1. Last fall I left Elephant ear tubers in the ground near the garage to see if they would survive the winter temperatures. They were very slow to come up in the spring, but look at the size. I will no longer spend time digging and story the tubers. These are the leaves I made my cement leaf castings from last year.

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2. The wheelbarrow is planted with mint so it won’t escape. I put one coleus plant in the front and some leftover sunpatiens in a pot next to it. Added some drip irrigation. Now I can hardly find the mint. I really do love chartreuse in my garden. The nesting box in the upper left corner hosted two hatchings of Carolina wrens this summer.

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3. This photo is just because it was so pretty this morning. We got some much needed rain last night.

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4. Two window boxes from the front of the house. I thought I had killed one of the plants by putting soapy water on it. Then I read a post by Tony Tomeo (one of the SoSers) who showed a plant with a mildew problem. He said it spread quickly. It looked very similar to the leaves on my Sunpatiens, so I took out two of the boxes that looked like they had been effected and cut the stems back. They are coming back and in a week will go back where they were. We still have two months of warmish weather so they’ll fill in. Thanks, Tony!

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5. The dry spell has done in at least five of my azaleas. The drip irrigation just wasn’t enough. I like the white repleat bloomer which seems to have survived just fine so will try to find more of those. The plants that look dead may come back from the roots but I don’t want to wait that long.

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6. I could only find three chrysalis that the black swallowtail caterpillars made. I guess the birds ate the rest. I must have had at least thirty caterpillars. Will this be a butterfly this fall or not until next year? If next year, should I try and put them in a more protected place?

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That’s my six for this week, a meme started by The Propogator, a UK gardener. This is the link to the rules if you’d like to join in.

Now back to sorting out my garage and office. The garden will have to wait.

Six on Saturday – August 25, 2018 –

Today’s post is a melange of photos.

One and two were taken at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum. We had relatives visiting from the Portland area and this was a great way to introduce them to the history and culture of the Chesapeake.

I’ve been wanting to include some specific photos from the museum gardens. The one below was a project of a St. Michaels High School student who, several years ago, received a grant to install a butterfly garden. This photo shows just a piece of it. I saw my first Monarch butterfly of the season there this week, but it declined to be in my picture.

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2. There are two relocated dwellings at the museum which demonstrate the types of houses common on the shore in the 1700’s. It is important to remember that until the Bay Bridge was opened in July, 1952, the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake was isolated, only  accessed from the Baltimore area by boat or a long drive around the top of the bay and down through Delaware.

The house on the left in the photo below is the Mitchell House and was once the home of Eliza Bailey Mitchell, the sister of abolitionist Frederick Douglas. A former slave, Eliza and her free black husband, Peter, lived in this house and worked nearby on Perry Cabin Farm.

The log house on the right is a humble farm cabin, once common throughout rural Chesapeake. This dwelling served as the tenant farming house for Albert and Henrietta Wilson and their eight children for most of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Although small, this log cabin provided the basic essentials – a hearth for cooking, a table for gathering, and a dry, warm place to sleep at night.

My friend, Roger Galvin, designed raised garden beds to illustrate the types of food crops which would have been grown around houses like this in the 16th, 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. The paths between the beds are oyster shells.

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3. Now back to my back yard. Several crepe myrtles that were planted when small are now tall and really blooming for the first time. This is one of two that I rescued from someone’s trash. The home owner had put them out for the garbage men to take. They seemed healthy enough so I brought them home. That was probably eight years ago. (I’m a patient gardener.) It may have helped that one of the compost bins feeds the roots.

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4. One of my leaf castings sits on the deck. I keep a little water in it for the butterflies. The crepe myrtle in the bottom of that picture is growing from the roots of one I moved. Obviously I didn’t get it all. I don’t mind it there as long as I can keep it short.

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5. The garden that is going to get an overhaul this fall doesn’t look so back from this angle. Soaker hoses are connected to my four rain barrels that collect rain from the shed roof. This area is under water when we have heavy rains and dries out to concrete when we don’t have rain.

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6. A big job this fall is to remove this multiple trunked river birch. For a number of years I had it topped to keep it in scale with my house and to maintain a weeping look. I suppose I could have it trimmed to get a couple more years out of it, but I have several other small trees that will fill in when the birch is gone. The other trash rescued crepe mytle is one of those trees. You can see it blooming behind the right side of the birch. At the left side of that bed I have a flowering cherry. The area may look slightly bare for a couple of years, but, as I said, I’m patient.

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I hope you’ve enjoyed my Six on Saturday. The gardens are slowing down but the asters and golden rod are still to come.

Write on Wednesday – Revisions Ahead – August 22, 2018

In a week or two I will get back the comments of a writing friend who agreed to look at my third novel in the Caribbean series. I’m anxious. Mostly that’s the way I’m wired. Just ask my patient husband. But I am anxious to get back to the book after not thinking about it for most of the summer. And I’m anxious to see what suggestions she has for improving the story.

Then I will begin revisions.  Don Roff writes, “I’ve found the best way to revise your own work is to pretend that somebody else wrote it and then to rip the living shit out of it.”

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I’m hoping I won’t need this.