Friday, May 28, 2010

THE PUTTER BENCH, a Work in Progress

OK, MOST PEOPLE WOULD CALL this a potting bench, I suppose... but the potting is all done for this year... and mostly what I am doing now is puttering... whatever that actually means. The seeds are all sewn, some are up, some are not, and the lima beans were transplanted earlier this week and looking good! The strawberries are almost finished for now. Sometimes I get a second harvest. We shall see what happens this year. The garden has taken off on its own with a wild riot of color... I never know just what I am going to get out around St Francis, but it is usually beautiful any time of the year. Sooo, now that I have 5 minutes to putter between potting/planting and harvesting, I decided to build myself a potting bench, except, of course, the potting is done for this year. But I end up with all kinds of miscellaneous chores and the old back just needed a place out in the yard where I can DO STUFF without bending down or making a mess in the house, carport, or in a hot stuffy barn. Important stuff like bird feeder cleaning and repair, a place to throw the garden gloves and tools when I have to answer the phone, a place to store the pots, trays, and some of the mixed potting soil till next year, being always mindful to keep that little square spot open next to the Scoop Away bucket (now containing potting soil) - that is the shed where Spook goes when the weather is terribly wet or windy. I decided to give the flat surfaces a coat (or 2) of paint since it is sitting outside. And yes, the bench is tilted. My good friend, Pat, came by and lifted one end so I could tilt it more for rain run off. Another note - I did buy new 4x4s and 2x4s for the legs... 4x4s so it will withstand the hurricane force winds and not blow out in the yard - unless we get a Cat 3 or more. The wood is treated to have contact with the elements. The shelf and work top and all other pieces are scraps I saved for the moment when I might need them. Some of my scrap wood came from the lumber yard's scrap pile. If you go to buy lumber and have them cut it for you, you might notice they have a big scrap pile. Ask and they will usually let you dig thru the pile and take home left over pieces that might come in handy when you make your next project. Got grandkids? A friend's grandson and neighbor kid built a tree house completely out of scrap lumber from the lumber yard. All they bought were nails! It also seemed like a good place to display my very old shore bird decoys... By the way, did you notice the clematis in the St Francis garden??? It is amazing this year. This is not a good shot, but I was in a rush. Forgive me!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


Ya never know when you're gonna get company... One of the girls in my Tuesday group said she caught a possum in her chicken house. It was in a Have a Heart trap and she was not sure what to do with it. She is kind of new to our group, so she had no idea who was sitting across the table from her! I had her meet me in 20 minutes in the parking lot of a building supply, we transferred the baby from her trap to my cage, and I brought little Sweet Pea home. No, I don't know if it is a boy or girl, I did not look. Poor baby was too traumatized as it was, and was trying to look as ferocious as possible. Bless its heart. He (or she) is currently in residence back in my woods. Having 4 acres is a blessing... lots of room to hide a baby possum... Sweet Pea is old enough to be living on his own, but did come back to have a snack of cat food and strawberries. For size comparison, that little blue dish contains cat food and strawberries. The water dish was just outside the cage... the shoe box was a quick shelter to hide from BIG PEOPLE eyes! Talk about scary!

Saturday, May 22, 2010


AM I the only one having trouble uploading pictures today? Waiting 2 hours for 1 picture to upload seems a bit long... anyone else having trouble? Or is it the new and improved version of IE that is messing things up... or did we get rid of something we need, and if so, what?


I HAVE HAD more people stop this year than any other time I remember asking what "those" flowers were. I have also found that most people don't know the name foxglove any better than they know digitalis - but at least they have heard of that as a heart medicine. Go figure. I also got arguments from folks who told me that digitalis does NOT grow any higher than 3 feet at the tallest. Since I have never learned how to photoshop pictures to distort them, you will have to trust me, this is next to my patio, count the square foot patio stones from the digitalis to see how far away they are from the Adirondack chair (2 feet) and you will get an idea of how tall they are. The next to newest peonies bloomed. The newest ones are still growing. This is a good thing. Peonies seem to be scarce around here. Maybe it is just that they are so unbelievably expensive in the Garden Centers, I don't know. I brought my oldest ones down from PA, pieces of roots from peonies my grandfather planted years and years ago. He died in 1954, but the beauty of his garden lives on and on. Also, up in PA, there is a grocery store where they have the most beautiful miniature roses that usually sell for $5 or $6 in a little pot. I am a sucker for them, too. They never get taller than 1 foot, if that tall. I have brought a few home and they used to be out front. When I lost my big maple tree, the power company people that came and cut it up piled the logs right on my garden, and right on the mini roses. 2 managed to survive so I brought them out back to my St Francis garden. This is the time of year when my rarest plants bloom. I am proud to say plants since I now have 3 of them that have survived. No one around here knows what they are. Do you? This is Mountain Laurel, the state flower of PA, and it grows wild up there with bushes 8 feet tall in places. This one is just under 4 feet tall. Can you imagine a jungle of Mountain Laurel and rhododendron? Up there the Mountain Laurel blooms first, usually it's in bloom for Father's Day, followed by the rhododendron which also grows wild on the mountain sides. Rhododendron blooms for the 4th of July. I have also had questions about my tiny iris. They are about a fourth the size of my standard iris, which seems to be normal for Siberian iris.
Again, I thank you for wandering around my garden with me. After all, what are gardens for if not to share? Beauty shared is beauty quadrupled!

And PS - thank you Pat for coming and "fixing" my computer - getting it so it works again more or less the way I want it... Now I just need to figure out a way to get the pictures to load in under 2 hours per picture! I know, I need a new computer... but if I can keep this old slow poke running enough to do email and my blog and keep up with my classes, well, I guess that is what I will do. Stick with what you need, not what you want!

Sunday, May 16, 2010


LUCY AND LUCKY have been at it again. (Let's hear a big cheer!) Remember Lucy? The poor little goose that was kept trapped in a crate until she was basically so deformed that she will never fly? The poor little goose that got goosenapped over a year ago and walked over a month thru God knows what kind of conditions to get "home" to the unmentioned place where the game warden took her for sanctuary after the crated beginning of her life? If you remember those stories, you might remember that Lucy met Lucky last year and they took up a courtship. They had a nest and eggs, but, sadly, things did not work out too well. This year, they nested again, papa fiercely defended the nest,
and 2 little fuzz balls hatched out of the 3 eggs. In her excitement, Lucy herded them down to the pond, oblivious to the 3rd little egg just barely cracking open. By the time #3 got out of the egg and scrambled (OK, bad choice of words) to the top of the nest, Lucy and Lucky were coaxing #s 1 and 2 into the water for their first swim. Little 3, fortunately, was spotted wandering around the nest that was no longer being guarded by Lucky, so a kind pair of hands scooped him up and headed down to the pond. By this time Lucy was out away from the shore, but another mama and daddy were coaxing their newly hatched 3 some into the water. The kind featherless biped put #3 on the edge of the pond. The new papa of the 3 babies just getting into the water, apparently either flunked math class or he was just a kind hearted old goose (I prefer the latter idea) and he immediately started coaching #3 with words of encouragement and finally got him in the water, too, urging him to go out and join his wife and 3 goslings. Thus, Number 3 became Number 4, and was welcomed into the bigger family. Last count, the baby population was up to 17 youngsters waddling and paddling around and learning how to beg treats from the BIG featherless ones.

Saturday, May 15, 2010


If you ever plant digitalis (foxglove,) you have digitalis for life, it seems. It seems to reseed itself in the strangest places. I am always amazed when I see the little leaves come up somewhere in the yard or garden. Mine get quite tall, most as high as 4 feet, some taller. Again, it is a plant that people stop and ask me about. I thought it was a rather common flower, but maybe it is because mine are so tall. Even one of the local garden center people stopped one day and asked me to save him some seed. The colors range from almost pure white to a nice deep pink.
The new peonies are starting to bloom. Have you priced them at garden centers? These came from Sam’s Club. I took a chance and several of them made it. I have some new ones from this year that are slowly coming along. Maybe they will bloom next year. I also bought some pink iris last year. I carefully labeled them – this one is labeled pink iris! Surprise! Pink, not! But it is interesting! What a surprise! One can’t always believe what is on the package label! I was really pleased that the new rhododendron bloomed this year. It looks good with the pink iris and the digitalis. My old fashioned roses are awesome this year - and SO fragrant! See the little flying squirrel house? We have babies! But it is impossible to get pictures. I hope you have enjoyed my garden. If you are in the neighborhood, give me a call, come sit in the Adirondacks and have a glass of tea!

Sunday, May 09, 2010


FORGET THE LUNATIC SQUIRRELS, we are now dealing with some very naughty raccoons - very naughty! Yes, we have moved from destructive squirrels to destructive raccoons. My guess is we have a hungry mother, and in her haste to find food, she is just tearing up everything in sight. She seems especially fond of fresh potting soil and has made a mess of everything she can get her paws into. I think this Bleeding Heart will survive, but I am not so sure about the 10 tuberous begonias planted in these boxes. I have waited several weeks for them to sprout, and just as they finally had recognizable begonias leaves, the coon dug them out and broke the leaves off the bulbs. She also dug holes all thru the 4x4 garden, so today will be spent building a wire cage around – and over this fence to protect it until the tomatoes and watermelon get a good start. She even dug up some flowers that I thought would be better established by now. This was a pansy bed... torn apart... I had to search for the little plants...Last night, she got into a bag of kitty litter! Fortunately she didn’t like it so clean up was minimal!
I had to put a “door” on the shelves on the carport where I keep “stuff” for the yard, including cat food when we go away and have someone come to feed Spook and Punkin. Even though that food is in cans when it is out there, the coons knock the stuff off the shelves and roll things around on the carport. As I said, naughty, naughty! They knocked the marble off the old birdbath base. I usually keep a plant on it, but it only had potting things on it last night. The other night, they took the double sided cat food dish all the way out to the edge of the woods. I have no idea how far they would have taken it, but I chased them and found it about a hundred feet from the carport. Dumb part is – it was empty when they took it!
On the bright side, the strawberries have been making good progress. I was surprised to see a hint of red, then a lot more red, and finally enough to be able to share. How do you know when you have enough to share? You have enough when there are berries left over after you eat them as you pick them… that is an advantage of not using any pesticides or herbicides. Pick ‘em and eat ‘em! They were not as sweet as I expected, but someone told me that is because it has been so cool. Maybe the next picking will be sweeter, but today is another cool one, and they have said we might get down to 39 tonight! That is cold for us for this time of year, but I have friends in NY and Ontario who are getting snow today! Imagine, snow for mother’s day! there are FREEZE warnings for my place up in the Poconos!

Wednesday, May 05, 2010


ONCE IN A WHILE, THEY ARE THE SAME (just not too often...)
As most of you might have noticed, I try to keep my postings as politically neutral as possible, generally sticking to gardens, weather, cats and possums, and the occasional person or two. Quite frankly, you really gotta be SOMEBODY to be on my blog. Now that doesn’t always mean famous, though I might boast a picture or two of Richard Gere (sigh...)
and a couple shots of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, a posting about Andy Wyeth, but I have a goodness meter that I use before I put anyone on the blog. Being a relative or friend is just not enough – you have to be a special person; you need a score of at least 9 on a the Goodness scale of 10 to even get mentioned here! But, as I said, people are seldom my subjects.
So, on Wednesday, I had the honor and pleasure to attend a political/non-political event. I had been invited to attend the ground breaking ceremony for the new seafood complex at the Eastern Shore Farmer’s Market – which might not sound like much to those who don’t know what it is – but it was big enough for the Governor of Virginia to attend, make a speech, and toss a shovel of dirt into the air. Yea! Dusty dirt, not mud for a change!!!!
For those of you who have known me for a long time, I know it is unbelievable to you that I am in anyway at all involved in political things, but, somehow or another, it has happened. Now I will confess, I did not vote for this governor, so I really did not care about going to this thing, and in fact, turned it down, twice. However, a third phone call managed to persuade me to change my mind and cancel my other plans for Wednesday morning.
A few years ago, we had a Delegate to our state General Assembly by the name of Bob Bloxom. (He is the TALL one! LOL!) He was a local boy, as we call all our local politicians (we haven’t had any female ones yet) and Bob was a rarity. He was/is honest. He was/is a good man. One of the best. He was someone who served his people with honesty and integrity, and he never let politics or ignorance get in his way. Now how rare is THAT? Bob knew what was best for the shore, and he worked FOR us – not for reelection, not for the power or the title, but for the betterment of the people on the Eastern Shore. To SERVE us. Period. That also meant he voted with the Republicans when necessary, and the Democrats when necessary. He called himself a Republican, but he was as Independent as he could be. I remember someone once saying, “I am neither a Republican nor a Democrat, I am an Eastern Shoreman.” If that wasn’t Bob that said that, it might have been. I can hear him thinking it.
Unfortunately, we had some very narrow minded people in office at the time. One in particular got revenge on Bob for not voting 200% of the time with the Republicans, and she, having power of office over him in Congress, stripped him of his seniority in all his committees, making him as powerless as a puppy. It really hurt us on the shore (not that she cared, though she was supposed to be looking out for us as her district) but it also hurt those of us who loved him (which is anyone who knew him) and some of us vowed to replace her in the next election. (I actually helped vote her in, stupid me, but that was before I learned to read the fine print!) Bob retired (what was the point in being a delegate stripped of years of seniority?) and let a younger man take up the battle. After all, he was having a few health issues, and a wise man knows when it is time to go home and dust off the fishing pole. 2 years ago, she was defeated. I am proud of any part I had in that, though I am ashamed to say I gloated over her defeat, still have her opponent’s bumper sticker on my van. Shame on me, but I felt I had to do that for Bob. After all, he did so much for us.
Anyway, I digress. I do try to keep these postings impersonal… but this one just got away from me. My friend, Lynn, at the Eastern Shore Farmer’s Market said she knew how much I thought of Bob, and he was going to be there. This market had been one of his dreams and he had worked so hard to make it a reality before Thelma cut him down. Lynn said I really needed to be there, but she would not tell me why. Said it was a secret… well, I then figured it out… and I swear Bob was more surprised than anyone when they revealed the name of the new market complex. I bet I wasn’t the only one with tears in my eyes. It was a good day. And I got to feel one of Bob’s good hugs once again. I have missed them.
Another one of “my” political stars was there, Senator Ralph Northam (on the left in front of the sign) – another wonderful and honest man. (We sure know how to grow ‘em here on the Shore, don’t we?) Ralph also gives great hugs, and he gave them when he was a little boy, too. The first time I met Ralph, he was 7, and it was my first year teaching, probably my first Day! He, like Bob, is a gem among men. Ralph did not come to politics early; he is also a pediatric neurologist when he is not in the Senate, and does a lot of wonderful work for the children of this state. I am honored to say I even know him. I fought hard for Ralph to unseat the incumbent Nick Rerras who called professional women feminazis. My women friends and I became Eastern Shore Feminazis for the night of his debate with Ralph. The results were great, Rerras stumbled and sputtered all over the stage. Ralph won the debate easily and then the election.
Did I digress again? I am so good at that…

Anyway, here for the record are just some of the folks at the groundbreaking, some big shots, some who think they are big shots, those of us who dearly love a couple of the big shots, friends and Very Important People who made the whole thing possible. (Bob is the TALL one... the Gov, not so tall. Guess who with the Governor. Imagine me behaving this well! I am almost ashamed to put my picture on here – my hair is still so short, I barely recognize myself! (But it made Mary Ann happy – it was (almost) shaved off in support of her having to have chemo and losing all her hair.)
Special friend and person who pulled this thing off almost single-handedly… good friend and former model for Victoria’s Secret and the Governor. Her boss, Jim Stern, (in the white shirt) and the governor… It was a great place for folks and friends to celebrate the long over due recognition and honoring of a great man at the Robert S Bloxom Eastern Shore Agricultural Complex.Sorry about including the Richard Gere shot - totally off topic, but I will use any excuse...........