Thursday, August 27, 2009

late summer garden

My daughter is growing gigantic sunflowers in a bid to win the 'biggest head' in the sunflower category at the county fair.  The competition is pretty stiff, and even though she researched giant sunflower seeds, ordered them from some obscure catalogue, planted them early, watered, fed and lovingly cuddled them in her arms while crooning ancient plant-growing ballads,  and transplanted them under a full moon, I don't think she'll win.

The problem is, first they had to grow about seven feet tall.  Then, about two weeks ago, teeny tiny heads began to appear, and so far, they only look to be regular-sized.  Perhaps with sheer luck and a blast of sunshine, they might grow to be gigantic heads.  But I highly doubt it.

My tomatoes, on the other hand, are doing quite well.  There has been a blight which has killed many  local tomatoes, but mine have escaped.  I'd like to think that this was due to my sharply honed and refined gardening skills, but I'd be lying.  Mostly I think it was due to an overabundance of horse manure-which is magical stuff by the way.  But I don't want to be seen as bragging too much about my tomatoes.

Because I mostly want to brag about these:

Never have I  produced such an abundance of large butternut squash.  We'll be eating those 'till we turn orange, I suppose.  Can't wait.

Every summer is a gamble, in terms of vegetable-growing pursuits, isn't it?  Ah well,  it's not about the glory of winning the giant head competition, or the fabulous eight-dollar prize (yes, that's right, eight big ones-and I think cost of admission is twelve).  It's about seeing how much edible stuff you can grow with a minimal amount of effort and and healthy dose of neglect.  I'm surprised every year.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

porch paint

Well, we've had a DICKENS of a time trying to paint all of our exterior trim and porches this summer (and by 'we', I mean my husband).  It seems that it rains every day, at least a little.  Nevertheless, things are starting to shape up (slowly) around here.

I do love wooden porches and columns on old houses, especially when they're freshly painted and gleaming, but it's very time-consuming to do all of this maintenance.  It's all fine and good to be a purist about things, but I have decided that synthetic materials are just swell, and that one's time in the summer can be better spent on leisure activities, rather than in the service of keeping this old white elephant of a place looking spiffy.

Monday, August 24, 2009

the un-summer

Do you know the writer Alice Hoffman?  She writes in a very lyrical, poetic way and her books usually employ magical realism.  Flowers grow or shrivel at alarming rates, turn colours, etc..., people speak like birds,  sometimes pebbles or fish appear in their pockets-well, you get the idea.  It's quite entrancing.

The summer that wasn't (i.e. THIS summer), has made me feel a little bit like I'm living in an Alice Hoffman novel (or maybe a gentle version of one).  Endless rain and thunderous, dramatic clouds.  Wind storms tearing the roofs off houses in certain parts of the province.  Puny vegetables.  The grass growing so quickly we can almost hear it.  Swarms of insects.  Bats.

And other things too.

My husband was coming home late one evening and saw this unusual phenomenon over the bridge in the neighbouring town.  

There were clouds of insects around the streetlights, and the bridge was covered with piles of bug carcasses, enough to make the bridge slick and slippery, and looking for all the world like snow.  Creepy mysterious summer snow.

Closeup of bug carcasses.  Maybe someone knows what kind these are.

A shadow shot of my intrepid reporters (see how white the pavement appears?). 

Because sometimes we all need a break from flowers, cats and horses.

And now, back to regular programming.

P.S.  If you haven't read Alice Hoffman, give her a try.  You won't regret it.  Her books are not without humour-of the black variety, of course!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Daisy in the garden

This is my cat Daisy, enjoying the flowers in the garden.

She may look mild-mannered and sweet, but in actual fact, she is a fierce and single-minded hunter.  Daisy has no time for niceties such as cuddling and purring.  Eat. Sleep. Hunt.  Those are her main objectives, and anyone interfering with that should WATCH OUT.  

I have tried to keep a count of the rodents she has caught so far this season (or the pieces of them I find on the porch every morning).  So far?  Daisy's summer mouse count:  42.  Well done, my furry friend.   May you hunt for many more seasons.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

around town

My little town, which has all of two traffic lights, celebrated its sesquicentennial this summer (150-year anniversary).  The celebrations (which included a beard-growing contest and a parade) were quite well-attended.  

This unassuming river-side town isn't grand by any stretch of the imagination, but if you make a little effort you can find some pretty spots.

This historic building adjoins the courthouse and was once used as the residence of the local jailer.  I think it is used for office space today.  The old stone jailyard was actually open today (a couple of police cruisers and a van were there).  I suppose the old jail is still used as a 'holding cell' for people having their criminal cases heard.  I'm guessing they're not appreciating the pretty landscaping and well-maintained building.

This is a detail of a building in town which used to house medical offices, a bank and a drugstore in the 1890's.  I love the shingle detail, and the little louvered window.

Here's a gazebo in the town square.    

This town is a modest, quiet place, and generally known for a speedway at its edge, and the fact that the residents tend to wear rubber boots (it is a farming comunity after all).   I prefer to think of it as a place with a strong sense of community and a comfortable, peaceful place to live.   (Sort of like that well-worn pair of leather shoes you've had for fifteen years, but just can't part with).   

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


Here's the problem with 'staycationing': you don't get to see your everyday surroundings with 'fresh eyes'.  The 'fresh eyes' phenomenon occurs when you have been away for a good while, traveling or vacationing.  Upon your return, you realize how lovely your surroundings truly are, how comfortable and homey your home is, how sweet your pets.

And so, lately, all I've been seeing is a lot of green (from all of the rain), and all of the chores that still need doing.  I'm just not appreciatin'.

However.  Sometimes you notice something new.  New is good.  These flowers are wild, and they look sort of like bee balm.  I'd never noticed them before....they gave me pause, and a moment of enjoyment.

I also hadn't noticed the lacy banks of Queen Anne's lace with a path to the next field cutting through them.  Pretty.

I enjoyed these too, until the mosquitoes picked me up and carried me away.

The skies this summer have been putting on  a spectacular show, with their moody swirls and patterns.  

They add to the variety of the landscape around here.  Ah well, if I'm staying put this summer, I could do a lot worse.  After all, it's not in the looking, but the seeing.