Thursday, August 30, 2007

Split Rails and Republicans.

8-30-07 VERMONT: We went to Farmway early, got split rails and were home by mid-morning. I forgot how heavy a new rail is and how awkward it is to handle, but, nevertheless, got four new ones inserted with the help of the cordless saber saw. The hot wire on the fence adds a degree of difficulty. Then on to the chainsaw and cutting up more downed wood. Almost done. I limit myself to one tank of gas per session to avoid carelessness caused by fatigue.

Today was hot and muggy, and both jobs left me drenched. Tonight we had another storm. The previous one featured wind and this one thunder and lightning, both were short on precip. I foresee watering in my future.

Judy’s foot is much improved, and I have given up trying to keep her off it. The tetanus toxoid I was going to use expired two years ago, just a hair too old.

Someone should do a book on the secret sex lives of Republicans and fundamentalists. It could run to several volumes. And that Mitt Romney dude, I remember his father, another dumb George W. He ran AMC, American Motors, into the ground. He came back from Vietnam and said he had been brainwashed. I thought, by definition, that would have been and impossible job. His presidential campaign went nowhere. The son proves something about inheritance of stupidity even if evolution doesn’t exist anymore. And all his sons, serving their country by working for dad, what’s the over-under on their total IQ? Brainwashing, or maybe dry cleaning, might explain how he forgot all the positions on the issues that he held while governor of Massachusetts. He is handsome, hmm—perhaps too handsome, and he is a Republican, check him out blogosphere. I would suggest a motto for his campaign, “Romney—so much less than meets the eye.”

New blooms: bottle gentian.

Bottle Gentian. This used to be used for fabric dye.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

End of Summer Approaches.

8-29-07 VERMONT: It’s hot and summery again even as we edge toward the autumnal equinox. We took a break from storm clean up to canoe Lake Fairlee this morning. There was a lot of storm damage at the lake. Two houses were hit by falling pine trees, and Camp Billings had a few trees down. Hive looked OK.

In the afternoon Judy helped me work on the pond border where it has eroded. The pond work is done and a new piece of ledge is exposed for a nice effect, but Judy hurt her foot when the wheelbarrow tipped over. I have her on elevation and ice. Tomorrow I go for fence rails with Steve Hoffman and then back to chainsaw work on the dead fall. Yesterday was also a chainsaw day. The apples are ripening, but are still too tart for us, the horses, however, seem quite pleased and pick them off the trees over the fence.

New blooms: turtlehead, more asters, more helenium.

It's a viceroy, not a monarch. Can you see the tongue all black and curled.

Cormorants, three amigos.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Scary Storm.

8-27-07 VERMONT: The big event was a violent storm on Saturday evening. We were on the way to Stone Soup restaurant in Strafford when it hit. There were intense straight-line winds for about 30 minutes with lightning and heavy rain. We were pretty nervous driving and watching the trees jumping and dancing around, but I figured going back was as dangerous as going ahead and would also mean missing a meal. A fallen tree across the road at Huntington Farm did hold us up. The first driver in line chained his truck to the tree and pulled it aside, and we all went ahead. The whole thing was over by the time we got to the restaurant.

The Reese’s were supposed to join us, but left home a few minutes after us and never got there. Another tree on the road fell behind us onto the power lines, but in front of them. A tree hanging on the wires closes the road. Within a few minutes, all the other roads to the Strafford village were closed by other fallen trees and downed wires. At the restaurant, they had no power, nor did anyone else, but they fed us by candlelight. We called the Reese’s for rescue before starting home. We parked at Huntington Farm and walked around the road blockage through a pasture to meet John Reese, who drove us home.

We found a lot of sticks and leaves down in the yard, and parts of two maples along the road blown down into the pasture. They each took out a section of the split-rail fence. The horses and dogs were all upset by the storm. After we notified the horses’ mom and dad and calmed the dogs, we went to the Reese’s for coffee. There were a few more showers during the night, but no further excitement. All the power and phones were out until the next afternoon, about the same time that we were able to pick up the car.

Sunday we started on the clean up. Bill Wallace and Steve Hoffman did some chainsaw work on the maples down in the pasture while I built a burn pile of all the smaller branches and leaves. The pile is now about eight feet tall. Judy picked up the debris in the yard. Today I got started on converting the maples into firewood with my new Stihl chainsaw. There will probably be about a cord of wood when it is all cut, split and stacked, which will take a while. A walk around the pasture to check the fence line showed five more trees down, but only two on the wire part of the fence. They were sectioned, and the fence popped back up. A pine was also down in the woods behind the pond.

For all that trauma we got only 0.35 inches of rain. There had been a couple sprinkles before the storm and gave us 0.05 inches making for a very dry August. The water-glass barometer was warning us beforehand about the coming storm. Low pressure lets the water rise up the spout.

New blooms: haven’t had time to check.

Storm Warning.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Cooler Days.

8-23-07 VERMONT: It has turned cold here with nighttime temps in the 40’s and daytime in the 60’s. We have had fires in the evenings. We are getting a bit of rain tonight, but just a drop. I watered two days ago and will probably need to again tomorrow. Yesterday I put 40 pounds of barley straw pellets in the pond, the amount for a one-third acre pond. The pellets disintegrate releasing the compacted straw which undergo a natural chemical reaction that releases peroxide that clears the pond of algae—we’ll see. Today I straightened the tall granite post on the upper side of the driveway. It had tilted downhill about six inches. I used a come-along to stand it up and packed gravel in the hole that appeared as the post moved. Then, motivated by that success, I repaired the wall in the ditch on the downside of the culvert in the hope of preventing the culvert from filling with dirt from heavy rains. Heavy rain I’m hoping for. Tonight at dusk I sprayed a wasp nest behind the old chimney. You need to spray them when they’re all home, but when it’s still light enough to see the nest.

The blue heron was at the pond this afternoon. I came around the corner of the house from the driveway and saw a big bird reflected in the pond. I looked up and saw the heron leisurely wafting away, just clearing the fence and horses an disappearing over the woods.

Judy made a new tomato pie tonight—delicious. The tomato flood shows no sign of cresting. We had dinner at the Nelson’s last night with the Katz’s, everyone enjoyed our corn and tomatoes.

New blooms: more asters, hardy chrysanthemum.

Hummingbird at the Feeder.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Southwest Harbor, ME.

8-20-07 VERMONT: We all trekked to Southwest Harbor, ME to Ken and Carol’s beautiful house on the beach for a family bonding experience. All the Frankel-Rosenberg-Fagin-Quint’s got on quite well with the Weg-Shaus’s and we have the pictures to prove it. We hiked, sailed, motored, climbed on rocks, ate, drank [some of us], swam [some of us], hot-tubbed, admired the gardens, played with the dog, got sun burnt and rain soaked. I’m sure the lobster population will recover. Our house gift was a bag of our tomatoes, which almost disappeared by the end of the weekend. Everyone went some place else on Sunday morning, the third day, to the relief, I imagine, of the weary hosts.

Meanwhile, back in Thetford, we got 0.4 inches of rain along with a bunch of branches down in the yard. Every drop is welcome.

New blooms: more lingularia, more sedum, more lilies.

Beach Cottage.

Beach Garden.

Family Plan at Southwest Harbor.

What are the oldest things here?
[More pix at the link to the right.]

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Hiking and Driving.

8-15-07 VERMONT: We have had only a couple brief showers so I have been watering. It has been cool. Last night we had a fire.

Valerie’s family is here to pick up Maggie at camp, and Alison’s family is also here on vacation. Tomorrow all of us are going to Southwest Harbor, ME to visit Judy’s brother Ken and his family. That’s a lot of families.

Yesterday Alison, Lily and I hiked from here to the top of Gile Mt. tower and back, about seven miles. Today’s hike up Mt. Cube got cancelled for threatening weather [and fatigue].

Anna and Judy did dinner here last night. Anna is freshly home from cooking school in France and did onion tarts and chicken in peppers and tomatoes. We also had corn, strawberry shortcake by Judy, and watermelon brought by Lois and Tony. The corn, tomatoes, peppers all came out of the veggie garden. We all considered Anna’s effort to indicate honor student credentials. Lucy adopted a pet beetle.

New blooms: clematis on the deck, first aster, more hollyhocks, more lilies, more phlox.

Red Hollyhocks.

Intrepid Troopers.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Discovered Evening Primrose.

8-10-07 VERMONT: We’ve had a couple chilly days. Today was in the 60’s and breezy. I have been eating lunch out of the pasture and yard—raspberries, blackberries, blueberries and tomatoes.

The pond has been murky and brown from algae growth. Last week I threw in a packet of the septic treatment and today a bag of lime, 40 pounds, spread from the sides and in the middle from the boat. We ordered some barley straw, which treats algae by decomposing through a couple stages to release small amounts of hydrogen peroxide that clears the algae. I think it has already started to clear a bit.

Evening primrose has appeared in the BBDE from the place where I pulled all the day lilies in the spring. I just recognized it now that it bloomed. I have been watching the plant and waiting for the flower to appear for the ID.

Judy and I canoed Mink Brook. We saw ducks and lots of cattails.

New blooms: evening primrose.

Black Swallowtail.

Gardener Takes a Break.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Red Admiral and White Hollyhocks.

8-8-07 VERMONT: We finally got some rain, 0.35 inches two days ago and another 0.75 inches last night. It only rained because I watered extensively the day before. It’s very August now, the pasture is full of Queen Anne’s Lace and Goldenrod, and butterflies. The new step railing is finally in place and looks great. We have an avalanche of tomatoes, grape tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, gold tomatoes, plum tomatoes, and more. The corn looks like next week.

Bill and Lynn were here for dinner after showing the grandkids Hanover and Dartmouth. Hamburgers, hot dogs, corn and pasta were a hit, with CC cookies and ice cream for dessert. The pond, the rowboat, the dogs and the dinner were a hit with Timmy, David and Samantha.

New blooms: more hollyhocks, perennial sunflower.

White Hollyhocks.

Red Admiral Butterfly enjoying the Echinacea almost as much as I do.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

The Dog Ladies Visit.

8-4-07 VERMONT: I was at Brown’s Nursery early morning on the start of the August sale—good stuff goes quickly. I bought and planted in the new BBP: four lungwort, Pulmonaria longifolia ssp. Cevennsis, two pink mallow, Malva alcea ‘Fastigiata’, and one each Lamium maculatum ‘Shell Pink’, Liatris spicata alba, Tiarella cordifolia, and Echinacea purpurea ‘Magus’. That bed is now complete, until stuff dies.

In the new north wall bed, sunny part: three globe thistle, Echinops ritro, three Echinacea, two ‘Ruby Star’ and one ‘Ruby Giant’, two blue cardinal flower, Lobelia siphilitica, and one poppy, Papaver orientale ‘Prince of Orange’. In the shady part of that bed I found room for two Epimedium youngianum ‘Niveum’ and ‘Sulfureum’. It took longer to plant them than to list them all, but not by much.

Since then, Judy’s dog lady friends, Caroline and Barbara, visited from NJ and stayed from Wednesday to Saturday AM. We dragged them ragged, taking them to St. Gaudens, the campus, Lake Fairlee, Billings Farm and Woodstock, Quechee and Strafford. Judy fed them twice, and they took us to lunch and to Stone Soup. I think they loved it.

Today I watered everything. There has been no real rain for weeks and stuff is looking tired, and the pond is down again about six inches.

New blooms: goldenrod, more lilies, more phlox, echinacea.

Red Day Lily, maybe this one is my favorite.

or this one.

Lily, very aromatic.