Who Gets a Band at their Retirement?

We’ve had some beautiful days recently, and yesterday I spent part of the beautiful day at my friend Jane’s retirement.  Those of you who read my blog have heard me speak of Jane in the garden–growing unbelievable tomatoes, building rabbit proof fences and laying out beds in the large Plot Against Hunger garden.


Part of this week’s take for Plot Against Hunger, except the carrots. Those are mine.

Yesterday she retired with 25 years of service in the Marine Corps, the last 11 of them as Chief Music Librarian.  The Marine Corps has a huge music library as well as artifacts from the band that need to be archived and preserved.  Jane also made sure the band members had the right music and the rights to play it when they went on tour.  She has organized the music for five inaugurations, the funeral of George H.W. Bush,  and innumerable White House events, written journal articles on running music libraries, and given presentations at international conferences.  So it’s no wonder that the Marine Band played at Jane’s retirement.


Here she is with the Marine Hymn being played at the end of the ceremony.

When you retire from the Marine Band, you’re offered the opportunity to conduct it.  Jane didn’t take that–rather, she opted to play one of her instruments–an alto clarinet–in Seventeen Come Sunday by Ralph Vaughan Williams.


And here she is playing the Vaughan Williams with the orchestra.

Now you may say she doesn’t look old enough to retire.  She’s not. After a trip to Vancouver, Tahiti, and on to Southeast Asia bicycling through Vietnam, she’s coming back to join the music archives of the Library of Congress.  I’ll say they should be mighty glad to get her.


Getting a hand for the Vaughan Williams–from the conductor as well.

She got some nice gifts from her colleagues, including a garden gnome specially painted to look like John Philip Sousa (wish I’d gotten a picture of that for you).  She’ll be blogging about her trip at The Journey in Between, so if you want to find out about Tahiti or what bicycling through Vietnam is like, give her a follow.  I know I’ll be waiting for posts!


Blue skies!

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The Bounty Comes On

The gardens are doing their summer work of producing.  I dropped off about 15 pounds of produce for the Plot Against Hunger this weekend. It included green beans, carrots, tomatoes, summer squash and zucchini. Some of the zucchinis were big, so I dropped in a couple stuffing recipes.  I have a big one myself that I’ll be fixing tonight.


Look at that sly zucchini! It’s the size of a baby.

Yesterday I made jam and this morning, I made some dill pickles.  I have been getting a good crop of cucumbers from my garden.


Dill pickles and strawberry jam. Something good to put in the cupboard.

Everything is happy with all the rain we’ve had.  This morning though, it was raining again and my email kept pinging with warnings of flooded streets and crossroads.  Twitter had videos of crazy people driving through water up to the tops of the wheels. Where I grew up, you never drove into water over the road during heavy rain.  It likely had a current that could sweep your car off the road.  Alas, I think few people here know that.


This is one of the less egregious examples on twitter this morning. The alarming ones were videos with cars driving through making wakes.

The flowers are in their glory right now and it’s wonderful cutting some every week.


The zinnias continue to thrive.

I have more little golden squashes coming on, and have collected zucchinis as well.


These will be ready by Wednesday…

And it’s time to start making pesto both for pasta and tomato sandwiches. Not to mention freezing…


Basil is magical stuff!

As I write, the sun has begun to come out.  I’m taking some time off this week to do things I can’t get to while working and to make a push to get myself in order for retirement in the next year.  So many things to think about–and act on and make decisions about!  One thing for sure is I’ll still be gardening…


These seem like the happiest flowers.

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Ah, Summer, Here at Last!!

Ah, finally glorious summer!!!  I love heat. I love humidity.  I walk out into it and it feels like an embrace.  Most people don’t feel that way, so I have to listen to a lot of complaints I don’t share in all summer.


The bee balm is flourishing.

Don’t get me wrong; there are temperatures I don’t like, but generally they’re over a hundred:  the sort of temperature that makes you think you’ve opened an oven rather than a door to the outside.  That I don’t like, but it doesn’t bother me the way it does other people.


Black-eyed Susans are beginning to blossom.

If I can dress for a temperature, I usually don’t mind it too much.  I have the appropriate clothing for winter, for instance.  If it’s 10 degrees and the wind is blowing, I make sure to wrap my face in a scarf and put on a down coat.  If it’s going to be 87 and humid, I wear linen and carry a sweater or wrap for the inevitable chill of air conditioning.


The harvest Saturday morning.

But I do love summer and all the warmth.  I like working in the garden and having to take a shower afterward.  I don’t mind sweating as it means I’m warm.  And goodness the sun feels so good this time of year.  Sometimes I think I could be a photovoltaic cell, storing up energy for the inevitable cooler months.


The cucumbers could very well be prolific this year.

The garden is really beginning to produce.  Beans, beets, carrots, summer squashes.  That lovely lull in having to buy vegetables has arrived.  This evening I had fresh beans from the garden, enhanced with a few carrots.


The beans have been coming on really well.

There’s nothing quite like summer, in all its glory:  the scents of flowers, the different colors of green, the lushness of trees, the new growth on shrubs, fireflies, cut flowers.  It’s all lovely and transient, ready to be noticed and enjoyed moment by moment.


These zinnias are protecting carrots from the rabbits AND providing color.

Have a good week, and by all means maintain your ideal temperature!

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Flowers, Vegetables, Herbs!

It’s been more than a month since I published a blog.  Lots has happened!  I harvested garlic and braided it.  Not a braid to show at the farm market, but I’d never done it before.  I was also pleased with the size of the bulbs. Yum.  I’ll use the biggest one to plant in August for next year’s garlic.


It’s nice to have fresh garlic!

I’ve been getting all kinds of greens–salad greens, beet greens and the chard.  I’m mighty glad to see the summer squashes and zucchinis coming on.  It will provide some variety!

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I have had some lovely beets this spring and have taken the chicken wire down since the rabbits don’t bother the leaves too much once they’re larger.  I’m getting lots of herbs and flowers and enjoying having cut flowers in the house again.

The small AFAC plot has grown exponentially since the last picture and has a good sized zucchini. We’ve also had lots of lettuces and radishes and cilantro from it.  In fact, volunteers in the garden, Gerda and Mike took three pounds of fresh produce to a distribution center and it got sent out with people that very day.

The large outside garden is mostly flowers this year, though I am waiting for the blackberries to come on. The asparagus is doing well in its second year and the flowers are all looking pretty good.


I can’t wait for the sunflowers! Meanwhile, everything looks pretty healthy here.

Last weekend I did a LOT of weeding in preparation for a week of rain.  So all gardens are in order (at least the ones I take care of) and now I’ll await harvesting.  Have a lovely week!


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A Little Gardening, A little Crafting

Once more, I’ve been to the garden quite a few times and missed taking the camera.  The photos here are two weeks old, so there is now even a larger profusion of blooms, plants are bigger, and I’m settling in for the garden season weeding.


The small AFAC garden is planted and now has sizable cucumber and squash seedlings as well as radishes, lettuce, and cilantro. I’ll put in peppers when the lettuce is done.

It has been raining a lot here, often on the weekend.  I stopped by the garden yesterday in light rain just to check on some plants and see whether some seeds I planted have come up.  Things looked good.


I weeded the large outside garden and have planted flower seeds. One of the small blueberries from last year had survived. And the asparagus is doing pretty well.

It is possible the rabbits are eating my okra seedlings.  I have chased them out of nearby gardens a number of times and the okra plants have been slow to emerge, or they have been eaten as sprouts by evil lagomorphs.  It’s early enough that I can replant and cover them if necessary.


This little blueberry bush is in the outside garden now. It is self-pollinating and a variety called Perpetua, which means it may fruit in both spring and fall.

I love this time of year when everything is popping out of the ground and I get my first vegetables and greens and my first vase of cut flowers.  At this point, I always think there’s enough room in the garden for everything.  Then the plants get to full size, and it’s always bigger than I allowed for somehow. But all that lushness just makes me think the world has been set aright.  And everyone needs to think this at some point every day.


The Columbine (Aquilegea to the Contented Crafter) have been fabulous.

I’ve also been making little felt mice.  They are very nice mice from a free pattern by Ann Wood. There is a little sailboat as well, which I may also make for hanging up.  We’ll see.


Here they are, having a gabfest.

Earlier this year, I also made this little bee for a friend’s birthday.  I think I got the pattern from the Snail of Happiness, but am not sure which post!  In any event, I really enjoyed giving the bee translucent wings.  And my friend, who got the bee because she is that busy, really liked it.



I also finally purchased a sewing machine.  I had been wanting one for alterations and to make things, but did some extensive research to find a small one that will last.  So far I am happy with the Janome Model 19.  I hope to do more work using it–small quilts, bags, t-shirts and maybe some crafts.  We’ll see.


I did so much research. So far so good with this one, but I’m still learning it. It has a nice instruction book.

But I’m back to reading and gardening and a little bit of writing here and there.  I am trying to have a sensible, slow-paced life, at least intermittently!  I’ve also been helping a friend decide how to deal with her tiny back garden.  It looks as though we may be able to turn it from a weed patch into a nice little oasis. I was surprised at how many plants I could suggest for different purposes.  We’ll see how it goes.


These plants have settled in and are doing well, in spite of being pounded by cold rain for days on end!

Meanwhile, Happy Mother’s Day to those of you celebrating it today!  Have a good week!


So many things are up–the squash for one–or bigger, and the irises were spectacular. Next blog, I’ll try to have more current photos!

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Spring Is Springing

I have been a very bad blogger since my last post–neither visiting nor writing.  I apologize and will try to catch up on all the news, soon.  It’s a beautiful Easter Day here today, and I’m resting after making starters for the dinner I’m going to later and cleaning up the kitchen.  A cup of tea wouldn’t go amiss right now…


Not the kind of rabbit that eats my seedlings!

Yesterday I worked long and hard in the garden.  You may remember that I work three gardens.  One is for me; the other two, a small garden inside our fence and a larger space outside it, are for the Plot Against Hunger.  I only have pictures today of my own garden.  For some reason, I keep forgetting to take a camera or forgetting to take pictures when I do have it.


The oregano is thriving and I cut some to put in pasta…

I planted the small garden a couple weeks ago with some head lettuces, radishes, carrots, cilantro, zucchini and summer squash.  Everything, except the dilatory carrots, is up.


I cut some of this to go with the oregano in the pasta–along with a little olive oil, some nuts, and some Romano cheese. I love that meal!

The large garden was another story.  You may remember last year, that the larkspur were glorious in it.  And they gloriously seeded.  I spent much of yesterday pulling out larkspur.  The asparagus I planted have come back, and next year, I expect we will have an asparagus harvest.  Yesterday, while weeding (larkspurring?), I discovered that one of the small blueberry bushes I planted last year had survived.  I cleared out nicely around it and will nurse it this year.


These were an amazing sight, gloriously thick on the ground.

My plan for the large garden is berries.  Since it is so open to depredation by passers-by, I thought I would put in permanent, perennial plants, and the sort of thing that you have to take some time to steal an amount worth eating from.  Outside that, I’m going to keep planting a flower border.  I’m considering strawberries, but frankly, I’m not keen on picking those.  The blackberry has done very well in the garden and was well-picked last year by me and passers-by.  The berries were delicious eaten right off the canes, which is probably why they were so well-picked!


The garlic won’t be ready for another couple months, but if it were, it would be going in that pasta dish as well.

So in the next few weeks, I’ll finish off clearing the large garden, purchase some berry plants and canes, get a flower border started and then settle into the work of weeding and harvesting.  I’m looking forward to seeing how things grow this year, and having cut flowers in the house again!


The irises will be in their purple glory soon.

Happy Easter and best wishes for the coming week.

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Foiling the Evil Rabbit

Last week I spent time in the garden weeding it for planting.  There weren’t many weeds, because I cleaned up well last fall and laid down a good layer of compost.  But it took me a while, crawling around, making little piles of weeds, and helped me think about planting this year.


Some people have been active cleaning up and planting and some haven’t. My garden neighbor Mike has been in his plot and has plans for vegetables and flower borders.

Over the winter, I thought about how to shelter plants from rabbits and looked in gardening catalogues for more covers like the one I have been using for several seasons now.  I decided buying more could be considered either 1) costly or 2) an investment.


This one, which I’ve used upright over a single plant or in a small row, like this, has been really handy. And it’s attractive.  Also, there would likely be no parsley now without it.

As I thought further I realized that the little shapes were for small plantings, like the one sheltering my parsley, or individual plants.  Last year the cloth cover on my growing tunnel saw its last season and I had saved the hoops, thinking I could get new cloth.  Then it occurred to me that I could use them as supports for chicken wire.  I bought a roll of the stuff for $14 and spent $20 more on a pair of good wire cutters. I was still under what I would have spent on the number of pretty chicken wire cloches and short row covers I calculated I would need.


These little blue flowers are an invasive weed, but I saw honey bees on them last week, so I left a few.

So yesterday I went back to build some chicken wire covers for a whole row.  One of the first things I did was manage my expectations.  They would be functional, but not nearly as charming as the covers I could buy.  I gave the garden a good hoeing and then got to work looping my wire hoops through the chicken wire lengths.  At first I had thought I would weave the hoops through, but working with actual chicken wire made me realize the folly of this.  I looped through in one place at the center of the wire.


Luckily I have heavy gloves and my tetanus shot is up to date. This was the first, longer row in process.

By the time I had created a short and long row, I needed to get the seed packets I had chosen out and figure out what I was going to plant.  I put some unsheltered arugula in near the parsley.  The rabbits often don’t eat it if it’s peppery, but I’m taking a risk.  Then I chose some beets, carrots and radishes to put under the chicken wire.


I sorted seeds by early and late spring plantings in February.

Then, overnight it rained. Perfect.


I had to use hardware cloth staples to tack down the wire in a few places. I’m using the plastic jugs as growing domes for tomato and eggplant seeds. We’ll see how things work. I have more chicken wire left so there will likely be more shelters for lettuces and other things the rabbits like…

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