Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Snow and improvised explosive devices

Reading the list of American Military Deaths in Iraq shows that the issue hasn't been weapons of mass destruction, so much as improvised explosive devices. Maybe now that we've had our fill of campaign and election coverage, we'll be hearing about people dying again. After reading the list and the NY Times report of a young man's suicide at Ground Zero, it's hard to think about anything else.

But the ground and trees are lightly covered with snow this morning. If I put aside the knowledge of how long winter is going to be, the view of the snow is really beautiful. It's a classic example of the need to live in the moment.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Last gasp gardening

Despite cold rain yesterday, I planted most of the things I just got from two mail order catalogs. For the blue and white garden: Allium ceruleum and Muscari in white and two shades of blue. For the woodland, Mazus reptans, Chrysogonum virginianum and daffodils. Also Crocus sativus -- who wouldn't want their own source of saffron? Some Hollyhocks and a replacement for the Wisteris that died last winter. Still waiting are an Oak leaf Hydrangea and dwarf Fothergilla. And I still need to dig the Gladiolus and Dahlias. Maybe I'll wait for Samhain. Belinda says we need something to do while we burn the brush.

Saturday, October 16, 2004


I was held hostage in my house last night for several hours by a distant neighbor's dogs. I've never been afraid of a dog before but this doberman and pit bull are BIG and they bark as if they really mean it. So despite King's willingness to take them on, I was afraid even to open the window to try to shout at them to go away. While King and the other dogs were barking and snarling and threatening each other nose to nose through the patio door, I was reminding myself that double pane glass is probably pretty hard to break.

I called the SPCA and left a message on the line provided for "emergency...vicious animals." I've left messages about these dogs and gotten call backs from them on four previous occasions. This time was no exception. I very nice woman called back and said, once again, there was nothing she could do about it. So the dogs continued circling my house coming onto the back porch to bark at the back door and returning to the patio door where they could see us and bark. About 20 minutes into this I managed to get the cat to come in the front window while the dogs were barking at the back door.

Turning out the lights and keeping the dog and cats in the living room made it possible to ignore the other dogs except for King's incessant whining and begging to go out. Turning on the kitchen lights to try to make dinner just started everything up again. I found it's possible to make toast and jam pretty quickly by the light of the refrigerator. King finally sat down starting alertly at the doors and growling occasionally. The cats sat on my lap while I ate the toast. At 11:00, three hours after calling the SPCA, with the dogs still circling the house I took the dog and cats upstairs to bed.

I don't see them this morning, but I haven't ventured outside yet. After all the excitement, King is sleeping late. We live on 140 acres of woodland. The only time I put King on a leash is when we're going near the road. But I will use a leash when I take him out this morning -- and take my cell phone.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004


My bedroom window faces north. It's the only window in the house that does. Hmmm... Maybe I should move my studio there. Anyway, I can see the vegetable garden through the trees from the bedroom. The vegetable garden is there 'cause this 50'x300' clearing is the only placein 70 acres, other than the power line right-of-way, that has more than 4 hours of sun. But this morning it's the only area coated with frost. Because it's surrounded by trees, the cold air settles there. I've always enjoyed the irony of frost warnings that include "higher elevations" and "low-lying areas." I wonder, if I cut the trees between the house and garden, would the cold air flow downhill toward the house enough to save the garden.

I brought all the plants from the deck in Sunday and Monday. I really don't even like house plants that much but now 3 window sills and the area under the lights in front of the mural are filled with plants. And the goldfish tub will come in soon.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Here's the picture I tried to post. I finally succeeded today 3-29-05.
Bill Sketching Posted by Hello
Bill sketching Posted by Hello
So, I'm determined to keep to some kind of schedule in order to accomplish more of the things I want to do. One of the things I want to do is write in this blog more regularly. But I spent half an hour trying to figure out the "Hello" program which says it will enable me to post pictures to the blog. Now I've got this entry in my blog which says "Bill Sketching" - the caption I entered for the photo I'm trying to publish. When I click on it I get the welcome screen for "Hello." So this is an okay way for them to promote the program but it doesn't do much for my effort to publish pictures. I guess I should stick to my original goal - writing.

Maggy's getting ready to move to New York. Among the many things she wants before she moves is a new pillow case for her body pillow - the one she calls "Man pillow." They're kind of hard to find and the color selection leaves a lot to be desired. So I bought some fabric and made a really nice pillow case. I made one for her new apartment where her room is decorated around the fish picture I gave her - blue and lavender and red. The pillow case is a nice tiny blue and lavender plaid. And I'm embroidering little red flowers on it. I also made one for her room here which is black and white and orange. The orange fabric has a faint pattern of little leaves. So I outline randomd leaves with black stitching. I think it's nice 'cause the sticthing will remind her that my hands actually touched the fabric and made it special for her.

My hands are actually pretty sore from pruning the wild roses near the vegetable garden. We want to cut some of the pine trees on the west side of the garden to let in more afternoon light. There's a lot of Rosa multiflora there - growing 20 or 30 feet up the trees in some places. Much of the growth at the bottom is just dead branches that have long since been shaded out. Clearing it out will make it easier to get near the trees we want to cut. But my technique is more meditative that constructive. With my hand pruners I start near the ground and cut each branch into 3 or 4 inch pieces and let them fall on the ground. Generally speaking, I don't have to handle the thorny branches that way. But somehow I still get stabbed now and then. Anyway, I've cleared about 100 square feet and exposed half a dozen trees.

Friday, September 17, 2004

Sunny days

We've had several days of sun this month. When did I ever think that would be noteworthy? So, I've been planting all the things I bought by mail order in the spring and at the plant sale last month.

I cleared part of the woodland east of the path and planted a golden chain tree, Harry Lauder's walking stick, 3 Russian Olives, a quince, Clethra and probably more I can't remember at the moment. A number of herbaceous perennials including Huechera, Campanulas and Primulas. Transplanted some Christmas Ferns from the woods.

Finally weeded most of the garden near the pool. I took out lots of the self sown Echinacea and moved some of it to the edge of the meadow. I took out most of the bearded Iris and moved them to the sunny spot on the hill near the driveway. All this made room for the Asclepias and Delphinium I bought at the plant sale.

I realize all this couldn't possibly mean much to anyone reading this. I'm just writing to keep in practice. I'll get new pictures up soon on my website.

Last night Belinda and I were talking about things to do including a final season mowing of the trails. She mentioned building a bridge across the brook on the east trail and was talking about how much she likes the bridge at the edge of the lawn. It's so inviting. I looked toward the bridge and a Great Blue Heron was walking across it. What a sight! Of course, I didn't have the camera handy and the heron wouldn't wait. Still I have a pretty good mental image. I'll ask Bill to paint it --or maybe to carve it.

I'm reading Bel Canto for the book club and Robinson Crusoe and The Republic and even the Bible for my head. And enjoying Dan Brown's Deception Point at bedtime.

So today it's raining. Maybe I'll plod onward with the installation of the new lighting project. I bought fluorescent lights to install over the eight foot living room window in hopes of warding off the seasonal depression. My major accomplishment so far has been to learn to spell fluorescent (I think) and to map most of the electrical circuits in the west part of the house so I can figure out how to wire the new lights.

Monday, August 23, 2004


Cynthie and I went to the Bouckville antique show this weekend. The antiques were entirely overshadowed by the mud! It was nearly impossible to look at anything 'cause you had to be so careful to watch where you were walking. After buying nothing at the huge show site, we stopped at a small shop where I bought a nice oval picture frame and a flea market spot where Cyn bought a white oval dish. Hmm... Was oval the theme?

Yesterday was a nice day. Wait... I think it didn't rain at all yesterday! The rain gauge says 3 inches for last week. The brook looks great. It would be nice if it always had this much water. But not at the cost of everyday rain. The forecast says sun for 4 days. Now I'll have to put watering the plants on my to do list -- something I think I've done only once this season.

Last week I was looking at the reading list in the Britannica Great Books series. I have some catching up to do even on the seventh grade list. There are some authors I haven't even heard of. I think I'll try it.

So I read Plato's Apology and Crito last week. Socrates says the death penalty isn't much of a threat 'cause it isn't clear that death is a bad thing so “Be of good cheer about death, and know of a certainty, that no evil can happen to a good man, either in life or after death.” While that's a nice thought, there are some things which may not be evil but certainly are pretty rotten.

I've also started the latest book for my book club: Bel Canto. I didn't expect to like it but I do. Still finishing Bill Bryson's Walk in the Woods. And trying to read enough of a book of 3 Utopian novels I bought years ago to decide whether or not it's worth keeping.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Painting the porch

I'm glad I live where I can take my clothes off to paint the front porch. I'm such a slob with paint - or in this case preservative with stain. I think I built that porch in 1986 and this is the first maintenance I've done. Anyway, it's finished and looks good. It almost inspires me to finish the window trim. Almost...

Bill helped me get another load of manure out of the barn. Yuck. It's really wet in the corner where Charlie usually stands. I think I'll block that corner for a while 'til I get it cleaned up.

Then, of course, it rained.

I'm finally reading A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson. Last year my best friend from high school called. We hadn't been in touch for 20 or 30 years. In a long, delightful conversation, she recommended it and I've finally gotten to it. I can see why Pat liked it: "When I awoke, it was daylight. The inside of my tent was coated in a curious flaky rime, which I realized after a moment was all my nighttime snores, condensed and frozen and pasted to the fabric, as if into a scrapbook of respiratory memories." Actually, as I type this I realize there's a typo in the book.

Last weekend Belinda finished mowing the section that connects the two trails that lead northeast and northwest from the house. It's really great to have access to that part of the woods again. I don't think I'd ever actually seen the gigantic apple tree that marks the center point between the two trails. When Bill and I walked that way we found a large patch of Indian Pipes. We've walked that way a hundred times or more over the years. We used to cut firewood in that area. I can't believe they could have been there and we'd never seen them before. And in the southeast woods, quite near the trail, the other species - the one with a cluster of flowers on each stem, Monotropa hypopithys - we'd never seen here before. Could it be that they're there this year 'cause it's rained so much? And the stream in the northwest section is really lovely. Of course, in other years it would probably have been dry at this time of year.

I'm having some modest success getting things from my "to do" list actually scheduled on my calendar. It's so easy to get distracted with things I'd rather do that some things on the list just stay there forever nagging me.

Saturday, July 31, 2004

End of month

I got a new rain guage for my birthday. I got one last year too - a pretty verde gris fairy holding a glass tube. I walked by it every morning on my way to the car. I just liked looking at it and I liked being reminded of whether or not I should be watering the plants. And in the fall every time I walked by it I thought to myself, "I'd better bring that inside before it freezes." But, sure enough, one morning the water was frozen and the glass broken.

So now I have a new one - plainer. It's been on the table on the deck since last Thursday and it has three and a half inches of water in it.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004


Okay.  So where did the month go?  I finished splitting and stacking the firewood and restacked the row that fell down - twice.  The barn is a bit cleaner, the compost is turned and I started clearing the bank where I want to start some rock building.

There's no way to say this without sounding trite, but I can't believe it's still raining.  I don't keep track but I'm pretty sure I've never seen the creek still full at this time of year.  So my major indoor project has been designing - if not actually building - improved lighting for the living room. I really need to create something like daylight there before the days get too short.  I think I can do it with flourescent lights concealed in a soffit over the window.  Then I keep complicating it by trying to include floor length drapes that cover the eight foot window when closed but don't cover any glass when open.  It would be great if they could pull one way so they'd cover the log wall to the left when open.  But that means a twelve foot span with no center support.  I can attach a track to the top of the proposed soffit but I'm not sure yet how much space I need for the track and the light fixtures.  Will it look terrible if it extends 6 inches out from the window?  I guess I just have to try it.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Last Week

Good grief! Where did the week go? Hmmm....

Well. The wood is nearly stacked. And the compost is nearly all turned. And I finally planted the new Japanese Maple. Last weekend we succeeded in opening a trail along the east boundary from the sugar maples to the bridge (which time had reduced to a single mossy beam.) And from the northeast corner of the garden, along the brook to the bridge. Last Friday Bill and I walked up the powerline right-of-way and cut east intending to come out on the trail we had opened up last week. But with repeatedly taking the path of least resistance we ended up coming out in the pasture -- overall about the most difficult route we could possibly have taken.

Bill just brought me the 3 pints of raspberries he picked. Shall I make more jam? Well, at least I'd better go visit with him a while.

Monday, July 05, 2004

Weekdays and Holidays

You wouldn't think there'd be much difference between weekdays and weekends - or between Monday holidays and other Mondays - when you're not going to an office to work. So, how come when I woke up this morning I thought, "Hmmm... Monday..." then, "Oh, good. It's a holiday." What difference does it make? But I know I'll give myself a little leeway deciding what to do today.

I just learned that Ray Schlather's daughter died in a car accident Saturday. She was 28 and a law student. I like Ray and Kathy. Strange thoughts come to mind. Like, how will they be able to bear driving past that spot just past the theatre? How will they ever celebrate the 4th of July again? Today is Michael's birthday. So I'm accutely aware of the struggle following the death of a child.
The sorrow for the dead is the only sorrow from which we refuse to be divorced. Every other wound we seek to heal- every other affliction to forget; but this wound we consider it a duty to keep open- this affliction we cherish and brood over in solitude.

Where is the mother who would willingly forget the infant that perished like a blossom from her arms, though every recollection is a pang?

Where is the child that would willingly forget the most tender of parents, though to remember be but to lament?

Who, even in the hour of agony, would forget the friend over whom he mourns?

….No, the love which survives the tomb is one of the noblest attributes of the soul. If it has its woes, it has likewise its delights; and when the overwhelming burst of grief … is softened away into pensive meditation on all that it was in the days of its loveliness- who would root out such a sorrow from the heart? Though it may sometimes throw a passing cloud over the bright hour of gayety, or spread a deeper sadness over the hour of gloom, yet who would exchange it even for the song of pleasure, or the burst of revelry?

Oh, the grave! – the grave!- It buries every error- covers every defect, extinguishes every resentment! From its peaceful bosom spring none but fond regrets and tender recollections.

… the grave of those we loved- what a place for meditation! There it is that we call up in long review the whole history of virtue and gentleness, and the thousand endearments lavished upon us almost unheeded in the daily intercourse of intimacy-

Ay, go to the grave of buried love, and meditate!

Then weave thy chaplet of flowers, and strew the beauties of nature about the grave; console thy broken spirit, if thou canst, with these tender, yet futile tributes of regret; but take warning by the bitterness of this thy contrite affliction over the dead, and henceforth be more faithful and affectionate in the discharge of thy duties to the living.

Washington Irving
From The Rural Funeral

Thursday, July 01, 2004


Every so often this piece of paper surfaces in my life -- a poem by Dick Lourie -- sent to me years ago by a friend. I could copy the poem into the computer. But I like the piece of paper. It's yellow and water stained and torn at the edges. It's got tack marks and old tape from the various places I've put it up over the years. It reminds me of Jean and gives the poem life.


and what about just those few hours each day
you said you would keep clear for writing poems
here it is sunset in upstate New York
all day good things : visits letters music
food but nothing at all in your notebook
no dreams no politics no loving
why didn't you sit down right away fresh
early morning coffee at the desk limber
and start to write now it's too late again

and in your bed tonight what will you say
to the legion of dead poets who walk
into your sleep like brothers and sisters
coming home and insist that tomorrow
might be your last day alive they say "hurry
soon enough you will have to be silent --
before that speak and speak we are listening"

Dick Lourie

The Moon!

Oh, my god! The moon last night, hanging over the woodland garden, was spectacular. For some reason I wasn't expecting it to be full so soon. I should do something about keeping track of that. But in addition to the moon, more fireflies than I've ever seen at one time looked like little bits of the moon twinkling all over the lawn and meadow about four feet above the ground . It was - well - spectacular.

Wednesday, June 30, 2004


I liked the idea at All Consuming of creating a reading list there and linking to this blog. After some very slow navigation around the site and many "site not responding" messages I managed to create a list. I copied his javascript and tried to post it. But I got an error message "Tag not allowed..." I'm not familiar enough with javascript to understand how to fix it. Sigh.

I sent Joe a link to FairEconomy.org-Six Things You Can Do to Protest the Tax-Shift Agenda. It's good to have friends who know what the Tax-Shift Agenda is. Interesting intern opportunities listed on the FairEconomy site. Too bad Maggy's not interested in economics.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Last night's bookclub discussion of The DaVinci Code was pretty spirited. Bettsie's a good discussion leader. She's thought about the questions and makes sure everyone participates to some degree. I'll have to do a bit of work for next month's discussion of Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion.

It's another of those beautiful sunny and leafy green days. I have an awful lot to clean up indoors. How can we have made such a mess since we got back from New York Sunday night? Then I should check the tomatoes for staking and do some weeding in the vegetable garden. It's a little chilly at the moment. So I don't mind working on the kitchen and such for a while. Maybe I'll still watch West Wing at 11:00 and by the time I get out to the garden it will be warmer.

We had a nice time in New York. Maggy met Cynthie and me at the Botanical Garden, despite the difficulty getting there 'cause the parkway was blocked off for a festival. I know she must have been tired after visiting with Jacqui the night before. But she was a good sport about looking at the gardens. She went to Staten Island Saturday night to visit friends and got back to Cyn's Sunday morning. So we went into the city for lunch and ran into the Gay Pride Parade. People in the parade were having so much fun you can't help enjoying watching. Stopped at Benetton briefly where Maggy bought a pretty yellow linen dress at 30% off. Well, actually I bought it for her to reward her restraint at only planning to buy two items -- the dress and a slightly funky black t-shirt.

Cynthie's garden looks really nice. The re-modeling of her work room in the basement is turning out really well. I took the crewel work I made for her years ago 'cause she's planning to change the colors in the room where she had it hung. I really liked the ceiling fan in her guest room. I don't know why it never occurred to me to put ceiling fan's in the bedrooms. But I think I'll do that now. We use box fans in the windows. Ceiling fans work better and look nicer. Maggy asked quite a while ago if we could replace the stupid 4' fluorescence and it's a good idea to replace them with fans.

Much as I'd like to do some web browsing now, I think I'll try to get some cleaning/organizing done.

Monday, June 28, 2004

Structure vs chaos

On some level I keep looking for "The 100 greatest books" or "The 7 Habits..." or some curriculum to speed my way toward enlightenment. But it always turns out that I don't really want to start with Aristotle right now. So I find myself spending time in some more or less random web search. I have a folder in my favorites list named "Things to read when I get around to it." And the contents of this folder are growing exponentially.

I don't know where I was when I bookmarked this link to Naomi Wolf. But this site has a list of "critical thinkers." As well as critical text, history, culture etc. So this morning I clicked on the first name in critical thinkers, David Brin, and followed it to his website. There I found discussions of his science fiction, his father's wonderful poetry, a social biology article about neoteny and more!

There's just not enough time to find and read all the interesting stuff. And certainly not enough time respond to it or correlate it. So, am I wasting time by skipping around? Am I doing this dragonfly thing of touching everything superficially?

Friday, June 25, 2004

Schedule (& some things about me)

The schedule I developed to maintain or confirm my sanity says that by 10:30 I should be finished with computer time, writing, showering, exercise and housework. But I'm not finished with any of those things. Face it, I'm still firmly entrenched in "computer time" with this particular moment counting as "writing." When I finish here I'll probably skip all the other things and go directly to "gardening." I've been browsing other people's blogs.

Things other blogs mention that are interesting:

What I'm reading: Three Junes. On my pending reading list: The Map that Changed the World and Mother Tongue. Recently finished: The Life of Pi, Passage to India and 100 Years of Solitude (all motivated by my book club) as well as The Secret Life of Bees, Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui ('tho it's a little embarrassing to mention that) and Sophie's World.

Something about me: I'm over fifty. Generally living alone in central New York, except that my daughter's living with me now. I've been lucky enough to have the past few months at home - no job. Before that I was the business director for a regional theatre. Since I left that job I've loved having time to catch up on house repairs and decorating, gardening, reading, photography, writing and dabbling with drawing and painting.

I recently rediscovered borrowing CD's from the public library. It's a great way to check out music I'd never think of buying and has led me to buy some things I'd never have thought of including Liz Story's Unaccountable Effect. The music I'm most knowledgeable about is classical, 'tho even there my knowledge is still pretty sketchy. The five CD's in my CD player right now are The Burns Sisters, Joan Baez, Anne Murray, Deanna Carter and Billie Holiday (Maggy just got that one for her birthday). The one I've enjoyed most recently from the library is Chris White & Cayuga Jazz.

Okay, I've got to get some things done. Maggy and I are leaving for New York at 6:00. I need to iron, pack, clean up, take care of the plants...

Thursday, June 24, 2004


I've spent a ridiculous amount of time making minor changes on my website. Substituting smaller picture to load faster. Tweaking margins, etc. I'm hoping to learn something from this primitive webpage so that eventually I can do something more creative. Of course, like this blog, the first thing I learned is that you really have to have something to say to make it worthwhile.

Firewood was delivered yesterday and I've stacked a couple of cords. It will dry quickly in this gorgeous weather. I wish I could have it all stacked before Maggy and I go to New York this weekend. But that won't happen.

It looks like Maggy and I have solved our Friday night dilemma by taking her car. So she can drop me off at Cyn's house and go on to Jacqui's. I just couldn't face driving into the city so late Friday night then back to Cyn's and I didn't want to let Maggy take my car. So besides solving the logistics, Maggy has to clean her car tonight to make it tolerable for me. Kind of two birds with one stone.

I promised Bill I'd work on clearing Lost Spring road at 2:00 and it's nearly that now. So I think I'll make one more stab at updating the Maggy page of my website before I have to go.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

User IDs and passwords

After several days of thinking my password wasn't working, I found I was using the wrong user ID. For some reason I hadn't written it down where I ususally keep track of these things. And I hadn't used it often enough to remember it. I suppose there must be a system for creating memorable, yet secure, user IDs and passwords. But I surely don't have that system yet. Well, next time I forget, perhaps this post will remind me. But probably not. So I've written it down.

Life has been fairly beautiful here lately. The gardens look great, at least from a distance. The view out the window to the sunlit trees is gorgeous. I really should move the computer closer to a window. Or better yet, set up the laptop for online access.

Okay. So I don't have deep thoughts every moment of every day. Nor time to write them down when I do have them. The idea here is to form a habit of writing so there's some chance of eventually getting the ideas together with the chance to write.

Right now I've got to either put up new pictures on my website or go outside to enjoy and/or work in the gardens.

Friday, May 21, 2004

Website update

I spent quite a lot of time yesterday adding photos of the garden and of Maggy's graduation to my website: http://www.geocities.com/fivewells/index.html

And a bit of time checking out who's driving and profiting from rising oil prices.

Then spent the rest of the day driving to and from Olean to help Maggy move the rest of her stuff home.

I got two weird emails yesterday and one today with, what appear to be, virus attachments. I hope that's not related to putting my email address in this blog when I started it Wednesday.

I can't believe the weather forecast is for, like, twelve days of rain. Hmmm... I wonder if that's a potential play title.

Thursday, May 20, 2004

Around Home

My favorite stories from around the house

Help? November 11, 2005
Spellcheck November 8, 2005
South Woods November 3, 2005
Seasons October 28, 2005
Rainguage Runneth Over October 23, 2005
Wild Apples October 21, 2005
Pictures October 16, 2005

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Starting out

Ready or not I have to plunge into blogging. I'm afraid the only way to learn is just to do it.