Monday, July 27, 2009


Can anyone tell me the name of this plant? I bought a small 4-pack at the beginning of spring from the local hardware store without noting the name. I'm so surprised at what they've grown to be. These gorgeous blooms - both pink and red- are stunning. This impressive plant is 5' tall with buds and flowers running up and down it's sturdy stalk.

It's a family joke that I can't grow pumpkins(or anything, really). Though I try every year, the best I've produced was a lousy, small, green, impish pumpkin last year. It's pathetic. My husband and kids laugh at me. To further fuel their ruthless mockery, our neighbor, Jan, has a huge yard filled with the most beautiful and productive garden I've ever seen. She has rows of vegetables and flowers and berries and fruit trees and who knows what else. It's an extremely impressive garden - my family admires it, as well they should. For me, however, it's a constant reminder of my failures. I firmly believed, from my past performances, that a green thumb was forever beyond by grasp, until this year. I finally found the perfect, sunny spot to plant my little garden. This is a picture I took today of the two tiny pumpkin plants I put in the ground 3 months ago. Today they look like they're taking over the yard and maybe they are. I noticed they have a plethora of little, adorable, sweet pumpkins on their prickly, fat vines getting ready, I hope, to plump up to be a nice, big and deep orange prize for the fall harvest. I'm so happy. I want so badly to have a real pumpkin patch with a respectable selection so the kids can pick their own jack-o-lanterns for Halloween. I'm crossing my fingers for success. (Please, please, please, don't die before your time.) Unfortunatley, from my most recent survey of the area, I believe there's a good chance that I am sacrificing the lives of my other plants that dwell in the middle of this insane quest for success. I think the innocent lavender is in serious danger of being smothered and suffocated by these monster, but brilliant, plants - So be it. I want pumpkins. I want the snickering to stop.
A bloom from the mystery plant.

It looks like a peony, sort of. (Can you find the bug?)

For the past 2 springs, JT and the kids have surprised me by planting a garden in the dirt that lines our driveway. This year they picked orange marigolds, pink petunias and this beautiful black eyed susan came back from last years planting. It's like a welcoming smile every time I drive up the driveway.
One of the bonuses of living here is the magnificant soil. I moved from Granite Bay - aptly named, where I couldn't dig a small hole for a little plant without a very serious effort and a chisel. Families, who contracted for pools, often faced huge added expenses because the contractor needed explosives to get through the rock. We don't have that problem here. The soil is perfect and very few people have pools.
Side note: The term flora comes from the latin language - Flora, the goddess of flowers in Roman mythology.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

July 12, 2009

A view from the patio.
Visiting the donkeys.

We should have built a bigger patio.


Lily playing with Max and Lucy

Evan with Harvey

Lucy tackling Joe

Max, Oliver and Lucy

Joe, Mary and Erin

Micky, Tom and Kathryn


Andrew and George

Oliver sneaking more cake

Oliver tackling Joe

Kirby, Katie and Jenn

Jenn and Suz


Jay and Suzanne
Mary and Erin

Evan, Jeff and Elisa



Joe and Max

Tractor rides
Lily , Max and Oliver
Lucy and Oliver

Katie and Matt
The Brothers

Chris and Harvey
Kirby and Mom

Jeri and Lucy
Jeri, Kirby and Harvey
It was a very good day.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

A nice surprise in the storage room

JT and I cleaned out our storage room in the barn last weekend. I finally unpacked my crystal wine glasses and china, which I have missed dearly these past 4 years. They'll come in handy during the holidays this year. We got rid of a lot of stuff, including 13 years of accumulated kid gear, baby books and really ugly shoes. The room is clean and well organized for now. Unexpectedly, during this project ,I found a box filled with my grandmother's belongings. She died over 15 years ago and some where along the way I ended up with this box. It contains her old bank statements, letters and cards she received from us (her family), and friends as well as wedding invitations and special announcements. I read a 25 year old letter from an old family friend of my mothers who sent my grandma a long letter from Australia detailing her trip and discussing her minor angst with her daughter and how her husband works too many hours. She ended her letter by telling my grandma how much she means to her. I never knew she cared so much for her. I read a valentines day card I sent to her when I was 18 and in my first year of college and a quick note from my sister talking about her excitement to have her first baby. ( Kirby is now 30.) There are letters from my sister in law with scribbles from her first son wishing my grandma a happy birthday. All of these are treasures. These are snapshots of our family history and testaments of our love for her. Amongst all of this random stuff, I also found a very beautiful, very old, red and tattered book that's falling apart at it's binding. It's entitled "The Gem Album" and it is a gem. It's like a journal or diary but not quite. The writings in the book are by various authors. The writings are so faded that it's hard to read but from what I can gather, they were written in the 1850's over a period of many years. It appears that the book was owned by a woman named Harriet Patterson who asked her friends to write about their fond feelings for her in this album. Here's an excerpt, " As I was looking over your album, and reading the many professions of love and esteem from it's pages to you from those that still enjoy your friendship,-and those you have known in times past and no doubt will long remember- as you in your leisure moments cast your eyes over the mementos they have left you. I , your humble friend....wish to leave a few lines...." Isn't that wonderful? Who writes like that anymore and with such extraordinarily beautiful penmanship? What a wonderful idea, to create such a book. I'm so curious to find out who this woman was and her connection to my grandmother. Can you imagine, randomly sending a book around to your friends asking them to write precious words about you? It's doubtful I would receive the same glowing responses as Mrs. Patterson, but still.... After many years, when you're old and gray and, God willing, you've lived a long life, you could sit in your rocker on the front porch and read the sweetest sentiments written by the people dearest to you. This book would be a priceless gem.