Thursday, June 30, 2011

Fragrant mock orange

How I wish my mock orange would take off and produce profusions of blooms. I am going to have to move it, but I can't think where would honor it. For the moment, at least, it is part of a lovely triptych under the fish. It does have a great number of blooms for the sparse number of stems that it has produced.

Blooming herbs

Is a scented geranium an herb? I think I read somewhere that you can use it in food. Of course, that does not make it an herb. Thyme, on the other hand, is definitely an herb.

Honor guard

The funeral was today for my friend Tress's father. He died at 80. The ceremony in Ipswich was brief, then we adjourned to the cemetery.

I teared up when a naval officer played Taps. It was so solemn, and the folding of the flag so deliberate and slow. The officer spoke to Tress's older sister as he handed her the folded flag, saying solemnly that thanks were offered the family "on behalf of the president of the United States" for Frederick Ricker's service to his country.

It is now difficult to put on another hat and go to work, but go I must.

Front display

Roses, roses, roses! The tiny-white-blossomed, fragrant climber is past its prime, but the heirloom varieties are budding and blooming a-plenty.

The red rose has not only fungus (due to our rainy period last month) but also aphids. That may be an aphid that I got in the picture -- I didn't notice it while I was out there! Victor has ordered a delivery of ladybugs to address that infestation.

Last of the trellis in bloom

The trellis started the week relatively strong, but now it has faded considerably. Just look how lovely it was! The blooms stuck around a good 10 days.

Maize and blue

This is the new focal point at the side of the house. Well, this and the pink rose toward the front. I'm counting that as part of the front display.

I hope to keep the blue a true blue this year. We bought special fertilizer for that purpose last year, but I don't remember adding it in.

Cats and geese

My cat doesn't get along with the neighborhood orange cat. I think it's quite funny that Slo-Mo Kitty (our name for the marmalade beastie) feels sufficiently sidelined that s/he literally perches on the side of the rail.

Sisco (our cat) has taken to sleeping, by Gill's report, pushed back under the irises in the corner of the patio. In addition, some creature has twice dug up a new plant (calladium? something like that), and it or something else has crunched numerous tall spikes in the shade garden. It appears that I'm the only thing targeting the gooseneck loosestrife, which tried this spring to take over the poppy spot. I want to give spadefuls of it to Helen, whose sparse garden needs a marauder!

Not fade away

We had a meeting yesterday at the rehab that houses my mother. We were told that she is "very sick" and that she probably has a bone infection resulting from deterioration of her feet. That infection is likely to cause more pain, from which she is already suffering. However, she lives on, the challenges apparently awakening within some keen determination to survive. We agreed, for the second time, that she should be followed by a hospice nurse charged with palliative care.

My mother went to an ER over the weekend because her dialysis and feeding-tube ports were infected, and the latter came out. But my =husband= also went to the ER over the weekend, with perhaps a blood infection. He was prescribed antibiotics and given a tetanus shot. (He was wounded on the boat.) Then yesterday, he was in a serious accident on 128, in which he was stopped behind 3 stopped cars and then was rear-ended. His car was sandwiched, striking the car in front, and then propelled across three lanes of traffic. It appears that he emerged without a scratch. My dear friend Tress, however, lost her father on Monday. It has been quite a week.

The picture above was taken by a friend of a friend on Facebook, someone we don't even know. That's Victor walking toward the picture-taker, on the right.

Further-distant shores

Above is a link to a BBC story, run today, on the Scilly Isles. That's where Victor and I spent our honeymoon, nearly 20 years ago (20 years ago this coming March; we waited 4 months after our November marriage to go on our honeymoon).

I'd love to re-visit on the 20th anniversary of our first trip -- that would be March 2012. We've talked about it. If the Outer Banks weren't such a strong draw for us, we'd be returning to Hawaii this October, on the 10th anniversary of our trip there.

I need to go through our pictures and see which ones from our honeymoon I could post here. The Scillies were truly lovely.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Distant shores

This pic comes from a newsletter about the Outer Banks. There is something irresistible about that kite. Victor says that he didn't get to fly a kite while we were on the Banks last time (or this year), but I have a picture of him from 2009 doing just that.


The bird-bath circle was a joint design, and the life buoy is from a wreck (it was a housewarming gift from my sister Helen and her husband Phil). I think that the cinnamon ferns look quite majestic, and the astilbe will complement them nicely. However, there is a long crack in the basin of the bath. I've gone looking for just tops, and no one sells them.

Treasured garden

Victor really does treasure this, his garden. It is damn nice. Helped by the European ginger (last pic, small with shiny leaves), which =I= chose!

I wonder what that miniature/dwarf hosta is (penultimate pic). I find it similar to one that I loved when we saw it at Leaman Hosta Gardens a few years ago. I can't remember the name of that one, except I know it had "lime" in it.

From the shore

Over the weekend, we spent time on the Boulevard and on Rocky Neck. Vic and my sister Gill actually got to spend time Saturday on Kiwi, afloat (see pic at top, that's them in the distance). Then Vic sailed her on Father's Day, with my Dad as crew. After dropping Dad off, Vic nearly ended up in the chilly harbor. The dinghy, which was cleated off, somehow disengaged itself. After Vic found it missing and saw it washed up on the rocks, he prepared to dive in to retrieve it. However, a friendly shore resident kayaked out to it and returned it to Victor!

The buoy is sunken and probably marks the location of nothing more than a snag. The gulls are of a nonstandard variety, but according to Wikipedia there are more than 55 varieties of gull, so... They might be immature Bonaparte's or Little gulls. They were kinda cute.

I didn't get a moment on Kiwi because I was writing a business plan as the final report for the homeless shelter [sigh]. Also, I went to see my mother; now that I'm working, I find that the opportunities for visits are shrinking. After the visit, I picked up Vic and Gill on the beach -- I borrowed the last picture from Gill, who snapped it from the dinghy as she and Vic approached. I'm the tiny figure in maroon.

Out front

The roses are fading, and the peony is on its last legs. Still, the front yard is fantastic, and aromatic beyond belief. Morning glories are springing up at the base of the fence, and the roses will show us life again in a few short months.

Hanging around

These are the plants showing some color around the house at the moment. I know I've posted the laurel before, but now that the yarrow is also in bloom, I like how it looks even more than before.

The pink rose is on the other side of the overloaded arbor, making the front a truly lovely sight to see. I forget the name of the sun-garden yellow; there's a pink variety, too, that never survives beyond one season in my yard.

Repeat as comparison

About 10 days ago I took this picture of the backyard. There is now no moment in the day when it gets this shady (see next post).

Pruning trees

We had Mosher Tree Service in yesterday to prune trees. Victor wanted the job done "with extreme prejudice." The canopy had expanded so much that my little vegetable patch was affected. And the larval feasting on the leaves made for a very messy few weeks for our vehicles, followed by an excess of moths that only the kitty enjoyed.

Two young men, at least one a Mosher, arrived in enormous vehicles. One had a cherry picker, and one had a chipper-shredder. There was a point at which the cherry picker couldn't reach the target branches, and one of the guys shimmied up using ropes and pulleys. He was able to manipulate his equipment so that he could leap from tree to tree, with a mammoth chainsaw dangling at his knee. See the small orange shape at top: that's him. Just below it is a view of the trees after the purning was done.

The difference in the amount of sunlight in the late afternoon is startling. I was relieved this morning to see that some dappled shade is retained until a little past noon.

Overloaded arbor

I knew that this week was going to be spectacular for the arbor. I had to cut some of the bloom off the wisteria this morning so that the mailman could get in!

That white rose is volunteering all over the place now. In some cases, especially out back, I may take it out. I love how it smells (amazing), but it does tend to take over.

Backyard peonies

Well after the front ones bloomed, the backyard peonies finally came into flower this week. As I've said, I'm going to have to move two of them. They just aren't getting enough space or enough sun (though I will reevaluate, given the new conditions in the backyard). I want great huge blooms like these ones on every single one of them!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


I just received an issue of the Massachusetts nonprofit news, which states that nearly 7,000 nonprofit institutions in Massachusetts have just lost their tax-exempt status. This loss of status is the result of hardball tactics employed by the IRS, which is requiring public disclosure of financial documents in compliance with a nearly-unknown 2006 law. The IRS states that, after years of publicizing its intentions and trying to contact the listed nonprofits, it believes that the vast majority of status-losing organizations simply no longer exist. Let's hope that's the case.

I get it that sometimes only the ultimate consequence works. However, I have read the list of 6,900 nonprofits. The high number of obvious labor unions on the list is troubling and smacks of political motivation. The presence on the list of the Carol DiMaiti Stuart Foundation is puzzling; I once met one of its founders, and I worry that depression -- not concealment -- may have been behind any lack of response to letters and such. The same may be true of two Sarah Pryor memorial groups. In addition, there are a large number of veterans' organizations present...the disorganized responses of some with PTSD come to mind. The Gloucester Stage Company is on the list, and so are surprisingly high numbers of PTA, children-centered, and GLBT-focused agencies. Also, there are a large number of Elks, Jaycees, and Knights of Columbus groups. Lots of fraternities, too. I'm sad to see Raising Our Children's Children on the list. It used to have some affiliation with Adoptive Families Together, where I worked -- and I know that ever more grandparents are raising their children's children.

I am pleased to see that the Parrot Head Club of Eastern Massachusetts will no longer be tax exempt. I always hated Jimmy Buffet. But I'm sad to see included Robin Lane Productions -- putting the era of the Chartbusters very much to rest -- and the Sunny Joe White Foundation. Amusingly, the Cape and Islands Paranormal Foundation is on the list, as are Project Elf, Incorporated, East Coast Pirates, and (literally) The Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The Framingham Trivia Foundation, Incorporated, must have been too trivial. The Garden Club of Malden never contacted me when I lived in Malden, so it deserves to lose its status! The Plum Island Community Airfield is still landing planes, so let's hope it has switched to for-profit status, or it will be in trouble. The Williams College branch of Habitat for Humanity is included, and so is the Harvard Law School Black Alumni -- hope Obama is aware. And hope Gingrich is aware that the Hunt Asylum for Destitute Children (orphanage or workhouse? he has favored both!) is no longer tax-exempt. Get this: Tea Party, Inc., lost its status. If only I could believe that was the political party!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Weiner: Stay or go?

I saw Janeane Garofolo on Bill Maher last night. She was insisting that we all need to support Rep. Weiner, on the grounds that the issue is a "personal" matter and that we should not be the morality police.

I do not support Rep. Weiner, and it has nothing to do with the nature of his offense. OK, it has a little to do with the nature of his offense (see bottom). But here is my primary argument:
1) He lied. Hence, as a public official, he betrayed the public trust. If this lie were the only issue, it could arguably signal a momentary lack of judgment. However:
2) As an elected and respected person, he used his prominence to exploit or induce collusion in some who had less-to-no official power.
3) Those who did not know the truth, taking him at his word, began to defend him, and he let them (= a coverup).
4) Either by word or by deed, he encouraged those who did know the truth to lie (= coercion).
Hence, for the same reasons that I supported the impeachment of Nixon and, in retrospect, Clinton (whom I criticized heavily at the time for clear sexual harassment; see point 2), I support the idea that Weiner has to go. These are also the reasons that I felt Bush Jr. deserved to be impeached, if not removed from office, after the WMD lies were exposed.

OK, here's the morality moment: Today Jimmy Fallon was interviewed on CBS Sunday Morning. He brought up that the issue here is "sexting."
Q: Who is it that we typically think about when sexting is the topic?
A: Teenagers.
Though we might with a 2nd grader, we aren't about to restrict our teenagers' access to the news. So how the heck do we let our teens know that sexting isn't OK, if our national legislature features members who are known to be sexting? Your average teen would have been expelled for this!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Rose turf

It's wonderful that Victor conditioned the soil and mulched the front. When we first moved in, I planted five rose bushes, as I'm sure I've said before, and only one survived. Then Vic did his magic. He also acquired rose bushes beyond my sole survivor. Together all of them smell fantastic and look spectacular.