Life In Progress

I will not confuse my career with my life.


4 Comments

With a Little Help

032913 crocus05adj

Mr. Wonderful and I got a little time together outside on Friday. The sun was out, there was no wind—a perfect afternoon for my first garden cleanup session this spring. He led me to this gorgeous group of crocus near the foundation and also pointed out another clump of them that I didn’t realize were blooming. I always find the best stuff in the gardens with a little help from Mr. Wonderful, my master gardener.

032913 crocus12adj


Leave a comment

The Big Tease

011313 chitra by the fireplace

Our cat, Chitra, has been virtually glued to the fireplace this weekend. It’s been in the 30s and 40s and the mist of sublimating snow has insulated us from the sun for several days straight. The rest of the house becomes stone cold when the fireplace heats up the first floor where the thermometer is, making it uncomfortable for Chitra to lounge about anywhere but right in front of the insert’s glass doors. I’m sipping steaming tea and piling on the fleece.

Temperatures were almost obscenely warm for early January in this part of the country. This past week there was an afternoon when I stood on the back deck, basking in the 50° sunshine, flirting with the dangerous idea that spring was right around the corner. It sure smelled like it. But it’s way too early for getting my hopes up! Spring comes late here and if I let myself thumb through Johnny’s Seed Catalog this soon, I’ll be a sobbing mess by the abysmal mud season in March.

I had such high hopes for a good old-fashioned winter when we got our Christmas-time snowfall here in southern Maine. The storm dumped a good 8″ to 10″ of  pretty snow that was awesome for skiing and snowmobiling. That said, I would have preferred the heavier, wet cement variety that is necessary for creating satisfying snow creatures like my lovely Snow Goddess, and for making snow piles that we can race wooden balls down, whilst laughing our arses off on Sunday afternoons.

This year we haven’t yet experienced the great snowfall that I was happy to post about a couple of years ago. I’m trying very hard to keep my chin up; I do yoga, log eons of rest, ingest gallons of hot herbal tea and faithfully swallow the vitamin D3 supplements that my doctor suggested to keep the blues at bay. Even though there is plenty of time for more snow this winter, the big tease of this January thaw has me on the brink.


2 Comments

Behind the Eight Ball

Spring is forging ahead, whether I’ve had time to clear the walkways and cut down  last year’s plants. I’ve managed to work in the front garden a couple of times, mostly so I’m not frightfully embarrassed for people to see just how far behind the eight ball I really am.

This morning was so gorgeous that I wandered out to admire those front gardens and was surprised at how good they looked. Last year’s tedious weeding and deadheading in the ajuga patches has paid off this spring. The mild winter didn’t hurt, either. The honey bees and bumbles are frequenting the ajuga in almost frightening numbers this year. Too bad there isn’t some edible/medicinal fruit from that plant, because these plants are seeing serious pollination action. Mr. Wonderful joined me for my promenade. I have had some very productive gardening hours accompanied by this beautiful cat, who almost never does anything wrong.

It makes me feel a little guilty, but I’m secretly pleased that it’s supposed to rain buckets tomorrow in southern Maine. That way, I can make my yoga class plan and do some work around the house, inside, of course. By “work”, I am referring to the fact that I have a brand new homespun book press and have made one book so far and am conjuring my next book binding project. Maybe a garden journal?


Leave a comment

Early Taste of Winter

The early snowfall last weekend almost sent me into winter hibernation phase. The power went out with a flourish at 11:22 p.m. Saturday, when the transformer in front of the house next door blew, lighting the snowy landscape with brilliant pink sparks. Instead of hopping out of bed to call Central Maine Power to report it, I pulled the covers over my head and went back to sleep. Until a crew attempted to restore power during the wee hours and caused the same transformer to make more Frankenstein electrocution sounds, that is.

The power came back at 9:00 a.m., Sunday, just after we decided to venture out for a hot breakfast. With the kettle on and the boiler chugging away in the cellar, the day turned to a normal Sunday and my visions of lazily reading by the wood stove evaporated. With the snow melting and creating a mini mud season, we both got busy with chores: I overturned birdbaths, brushed snow off a raised bed and dug the remaining row of carrots from the ice-crunchy mud. Harvested not a moment too soon, these carrots will be super sweet.

Every winter, I vow to become more self-sufficient for inevitable power outages, but it hasn’t happened. Just last month, I walked right past the gorgeous, inexpensive camp stove at Cabela’s, thinking I should buy that …someday. Yesterday, I regretted it. This early taste of winter has made me renew my vow for preparedness.

I need to get to Cabela’s soon, before “fear-of-shopping” overtakes me because of the looming holiday season crowds.


2 Comments

Mr. Wonderful: Master Gardener

Garden clean-up last fall dragged on into an unusually lengthy event. I never like to cut plants down before frost, but vow to do just that this coming year. I was furiously clipping down plants well into December, looking over my shoulder every day for that first snowstorm of the season. Since the snow held off until the holiday, I am rewarded this spring with some amazingly orderly flower beds. With an exception that falls into the wabi-sabi category… that huge bed of gooseneck loosestrife (yes, an invasive…) lay there flattened and matted, taunting me.

Gooseneck loosestrife is truly gorgeous, but a garden thug of epic proportions. About 15 years ago, I saw a beautiful stand of them in a display garden and just had to have some. Now they dominate the southeastern corner of the front porch, crowding out even the vigorous ferns, evening primrose and centurea that were there. And they’re the devil to pull out, having glassy roots that break off shoots with every forking.

Mr. Wonderful, in all his glorious cat-ness, gladly assisted me by enforcing frequent petting session breaks as I clipped away. For some reason, he’s been following me around this spring, performing sentinel duty while I garden. Yesterday, while I tugged and clipped the loosestrife, he cavorted among the rustling stalks. At one point he crawled in and napped in a nest of them, which sent me in search of the camera.

Wise late fall accomplishments allowed me the luxury of grooming some areas this spring. Rather than breathlessly racing to cut last year’s stalks before this year’s growth progressed too far, the cobblestone retaining wall in the south garden magically manifested one day.

The next morning, with a mug of hot tea I went to inspect the new rock wall. My newly retained garden was replete with the gory bottom half of a mouse laying next to some newly transplanted hens ‘n chicks.

The perfect gift from Mr. Wonderful, Master Gardener.