The Day the Squash Plants Died

I’m giving up on summer squash. In a previous blog I wrote about the lush zucchinis I had growing in my bed at the Community Garden. I even had a photo of a couple of zucchinis – a traditional dark green skinned zuke and a new variety (to me) with pale green skin. I’d always lost my squash plants to borers so I was really excited.

First it was some yellowing leaves. Then whole stalks began to die off. Clearly it was a borer issue.This had been a huge canopy of lush green leaves just days ago.

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It was too late to save this plant – the dark green zuchinni – and left the pale green one. I’ll check it tomorrow and it may get pulled as well. I’ll plant some fall crop in that end of that bed.

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When you see this on the squash vine, it’s too late.That stuff on the left side of the slit is borer frass (poop). Apparently you can slit the stem to kill the grub inside but I have never had much luck with that. Summer squash and pumpkins are particularly susceptible to borers and any winter squash I ever planted bit the dust as well.

In the meantime the cantaloupe and watermelons in the same bed are doing very well. I have two cantaloupes the size of small bowling balls and watermelons the size of big tennis balls and there are lots of flowers and bees. Note: Not being into sports of any kind, I couldn’t think of balls the right sizes. Borers don’t seem to bother cantaloupes and watermelons as much as they do summer squash.

I guess the universe wants me to support the local farmers who seem to know how to outwit squash borers. I’m giving up on growing summer squash!

 

 

 

 

 

Plein Air, Easton MD 2016

My writing partner, Laura Ambler, always has excellent ideas. Since the Mason’s Restaurant has been sold to Bob Pascal and turned into Pascal’s Chop House, she looked for a different venue for our annual Plein Air ladies’ lunch.

We love wandering the streets watching the artists (who have been here painting all week) as they completed the Quick Draw competition. I would have bought this palette if it had been for sale.

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Laura has done some PR work for Bartlett Pear Restaurant and called Alice, wife of Chef Jordan Lloyd to see if we could get a table on their front porch. The restaurant wasn’t open for lunch, but Alice suggested a menu for the price we specified (wine was extra) and the food was spectacular.

We overlooked the artists painting along the sides of the closed to traffic street, and were just behind the band speakers so we could actually have a conversation. That’s me in the blue hat (second from the end) and Laura (fourth from the end). Mary Ann Hillier, a member of our Stinky Book Club, is sitting between us.

Plein air group on porch

We started with cold heirloom tomato gazpacho that was the best I’ve ever had. The oil on top was infused with lemon. Yum! It was so pretty.

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Then we had hard rolls and croissants and sandwich fixings with homemade mayo with herbs. Swiss cheese, salmon, prosciutto, cucumbers and tomatoes.

plein air gazpacho

Plein air salad

We had a dedicated server who kept our glasses of iced tea filled. I didn’t manage to get a photo of dessert fast enough. The table was served a variety of cookies – chocolate chip that were definitely worth the calorie count, oatmeal raisin still warm from the oven and three different kinds of macaroons (mint chocolate chip, lemon and Nutella). OMG. Food orgasm. The lemon macaroons exploded in your mouth with the most incredible lemon flavor. Often macaroons are dry and a little tasteless. These were the best I have ever eaten surpassing macaroons I bought in Paris and they were made at Bartlett Pear Bakery in Easton, MD.

Plein air cookies

The weekend of Plein Air was hot, as it always is, but this year the Plein Air folks provided free fans to keep us cool. Some years it rains, but this year the sky was blue with beautiful white clouds. A perfect day for a premier art event in Easton, Maryland, sponsored by the Avalon Foundation.

And in case you’re thinking of reserving the front porch next year… we’ve already got a reservation.

 

 

NeuroMindful Meditation

A week ago I completed a six week course in NeuroMindfulness Meditation. (I just typed mindful medication in the headline and then did it again. Maybe because if I could take a pill to still my roaming thoughts it would be easier to meditate.)

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The course was taught by David Mercier whose book “A Beautiful Medicine” is now required reading in at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. David spent two years in Sri Lanka practicing meditation as a Buddhist monk. He is also a skilled acupuncturist. And he lives down the road so the class was held at the yoga studio where I practice five mornings a week.

At the first session we had to commit to meditating at least seven minutes a day. How hard could that be? David recommended getting an app on our smart phones that could be set for various lengths of time and would signal the end of a session with a chime or gong (there were a number of sounds to choose from). He said the chime was to reward us for taking time to medicate. Jeeze, did it again. I meant meditate! Turns out getting the app set up proved challenging. I’m sure any one of my grandchildren could have done it in 30 seconds. But I did finally get it set up. Oh, my! Seven minutes seemed like a long time.

But that was just at first. Within a couple of days I set a timer for fifteen minutes. It seemed it took me seven minutes to get settled.

“Breathing in, I am safe. Breathing out, I am safe” was the mantra suggested by David. His belief is that we are all in a constant state of awareness based on the primal need to survive. We are always on the lookout for saber-tooth tigers and grizzly bears. I think that is not so far from the truth. I have an amazing startle response. I tell my husband that if I’d been a black belt he would have been dead years ago. Even my cleaning lady learned to knock on my open office door after I shot out of my chair one day when she came in to see if I had trash in my office trash can.

Here’s the best thing I learned from David and he taught this in the first session. The goal is not to get your brain to stop, the goal is to notice the intrusion and name it. Thinking, thinking or hearing, hearing or smelling, smelling, or feeling, feeling. The focus is not so much on the breathing. Something different in this training is that we share our experiences with the process. That has been enormously helpful. Once the class was over I wondered if I would continue, but most mornings I’m sitting cross legged on my bolster setting my phone alarm for fifteen minutes. I would not have anticipated that result.

 

 

CHESAPEAKE SUMMER MARSH

My writer friend, Brent Lewis, posted a reflection of summer on the Eastern Shore. I wanted to share it.

easternshorebrent

Muggy drops of humidity hang suspended midair and almost visible.

The pungency of the marsh is pervasive, strong. It sticks to the skin. Rich with the cycles of life and death, the marsh is a sensory reminder of the changes wrought by time’s tides.

A blue heron flies low and with grace across a dish-calm creek.

Something else drifts by on the slow, saturated breeze. Something wistful. Something that smells like bulkhead creosote, tastes like warm beer from 10 oz. cans, and looks like cutoff denim shorts and bright cotton tank tops that provide free advertising to bars, beverages, and billionaire rock bands.

Feels like a dock splinter, like nostalgia.

Sounds like a summer squall. Electricity cracks the sky. The downriver horizon darkens with much more threat than warning. Regret storms in through unbattened hatches. A few minutes of intense natural fury and the tempest blows north, up the Chesapeake…

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