"She refused to be bored, chiefly because she wasn't boring." Zelda Fitzgerald

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Iris Season!

VanGogh-Irises 2Image via Wikipedia
One of Van Gogh's many iris paintings.
Finally, the tall bearded irises in my backdoor bed are blooming. They opened sometime last night and this morning when we came out the door, there they were, glistening in the morning sunshine. That long wait was totally worth it. Several of these iris rhizomes were rescued from the lawn which had crept into their overly shady bed. I dug them in the middle of a misting spring rain, in the very chill world of mud and drizzle that is the early year. And the incident inspired this Poetry Friday post.
My purple veined iris that came with our house.

I think the irises I was digging and transplanting that day are these lush, purple veined ones, and I think the fluttery lilac one below is a variety I ordered from the excellent folks at Shreiner's Iris Gardens, along with a brilliant butter yellow which I hope is still coming.
If you're looking for some new irises, I heartily recommend them. The only caveat is that you'll get lost drooling over the photos on their web site. If you're a novice gardener, looking for some recommendations, bearded irises are a good pick, they're beautiful, often fragrant, make beautiful cut flowers and given sunshine they are carefree and unfussy. I love them for all these reasons and also for the fact that they are so historically enduring. Irises are one of those flowers that often outlives houses or at least the owners of said houses and will still be bravely blooming every spring, even if their good gardeners have gone on to contribute to the soil themselves. I love a resourceful romantic, even if the romantic is a plant.
Claude Monet 056Image via Wikipedia
Monet's iris path. Someday, I'll visit.

Next iris task is to paint my own rendition of them, after the great masters of brush and palette. I have in mind to try my hand at this beautiful basket of cut irises for sale that I photographed in a garden France during our trip to Europe in 2008.

I've been thinking about it for years, way before I "could" paint. A and I used to play this game somewhat perpetually called "If I Could Paint" wherein we'd call out to the other person and point when a particularly heart-tugging image hit us and we wished we were able to wield a brush. It still cracks me up to think that suddenly one day, I discovered I could paint...I have years of catch-up ahead of me. That game set me up with a long list of future subjects.

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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Ideal Ending

Three of our five butterfly cocoons hatched...the world is a few Painted Ladies richer. :) Sitting on railing of the back porch with a butterfly on your knee, waiting for it to feel brave enough to fly off into the world is about as fabulous an ending to the day as you can hope for. Good luck little butterflies! I wish you freedom from birds, gentle wind, and abundant blossoms. All one could hope for really.


Monday, May 23, 2011

Downton Abbey Fever

Am always late to join these cultural parties [see the mentions about the series in this, this, this and this blog I read] but I am finally working my way through Downton Abbey (Hooray instant Netflix! And hooray rainy days!) and am much enthralled, wondering why in the world I waited so long.

080111Image by c_l_b via Flickr
I was getting ready for a break from the self-educational non-fiction that is my normal track, time for a little escapism. Especially, since the weather is so bizarre, dismal and even obstructive to normal springtime activity. (I have a feeling that it will take me longer than I imagined to get the garden all in, for instance.) But, no matter! I am neck deep in Brittania and suffragettes and butlers and proposals and ladies maids. *sigh* Ru has actually even taken to watching with me which has been quite fun. I'm not sure how much he understands, but he's interested and sometimes he asks me questions..."What's that thing he's carrying Mommy? etc..."

Someday I will go to England...and spend my own holiday "season" in London...someday....

Until then, it is blooming, floral May even if it is rainy although I have to admit I am finding myself swept back up in homekeeping interest, and less drawn towards the landscaping plans of old...all this grey makes the indoors the most alluring thing I suppose. I always feel a bit inspired regarding my housekeeping whenever I see films with lots of maid footage. This time what is catching my eye is the lovely rotating bouquets of flowers all over the manor house. There are quite a few times when maids are busily laying out fresh arrangements and some moments when we catch glimpses of a vase full of this or that on the dresser or the side table etc. And I swoon.

After watching an episode today I went dashing out into the yard twice "between the raindrops" with a basket to snip and clip whatever I found. Right now our lily-of-the-valley is all in bloom so it was my most leaned upon basket filler....and then I went inside to dry off and assemble a train of bottles, jugs and vases on the counter for stuffing with blooms. Such fun to sweep the house up, polish off the windowsills and set out little jugs of blooms while a big pot of split pea soup bubbled on the stove. Sometimes life is jolly.

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Friday, May 20, 2011

Poetry Friday: An Estate Sale Poem

Happy Poetry Friday to all!
I am off to romp in the yard this afternoon, since it is finally warm enough to be pleasant outdoors with no jacket. Today is little Nib's first birthday so there is lot of celebratory romping to do! We will do full festivities tomorrow when A is off work and we're having a cupcake facial massage show in the morning with full paparazzi documentation. I can't wait to see it! Highlight of the first birthday party for sure.

Weathered SALE signImage by japi14 via Flickr
This morning I'm sharing a poem I wrote about one of my favorite warm weather pursuits, estate saling. I love yard sales and clearance sales and church rummage forays but my favorite are estate liquidations. I love the age and the warmth all the items seem to have and I love wandering through the home and seeing them in situ. Something very lovely about it all. Am pleased to have the season starting again. Even though there are such sales all year round, somehow it doesn't seem appealing to go unless it is lemonade weather when you can go rolling from one sale to the next with the windows down, feeling smug in front of everyone about the amazing things you have rattling around in the back seat.
Garage Sale StuffImage by Chiot's Run via Flickr

Things Found At An Estate Sale

We step step step up the front stoop and over the threshold
Wanderers on the hunt at a Saturday morning sale
In this old house that smells of honey, salt and years of sunshine.
Before the sink, I  fondle  a sturdy enamel-speckled colander,
The handles worn dull and smooth by years of touch,
And carry it along, tucked confidentially against my hip.
In the faded garage there is a tower of wee, metal berry pails,
The insides filmed with ancient, summer dust.
My son swings two by their handles,
Bopping them pleasantly against his legs as we walk.
In a soft upper bedroom, I find a tiger’s eye ring,
Etched with faded swirls, not real silver, but no matter, it has a quiet glow.
The baby has discovered a black doctor’s bag at my feet,
All cracking at the sides, which wheezes pleasantly when opened.
And here on the dresser, a handful of slim-tipped sable brushes,
Waiting in a pert cluster, for more partnership with paint.
We wind back to the kitchen, because
You never know what you’ve missed in that room.
See what I mean?
There in bent cardboard is a teal-embroidered Pyrex in the old style,
Sturdy and casserole-seasoned just waiting for a rescue.
In the hall closet there is a fishing pole with a warm cork grip,
Complete with brightly painted bobber like an engaging circus toy
That dangles happily over my shoulder as we walk.
There are whole shoe boxes of crisp, lady’s notecards,  
And I take the five inscribed with bright, raised ladybugs,
Their paper gracefully aged from crisp white to golden pearl.
I tuck a fawn copy of Shakespeare under my arm and draw the line
At the little wooden doggy who follows us down the sidewalk on a string,                       His coiled, spring tail bobbing cheerfully as he goes.

Have a little gander at the other Poetry Friday participants over at The Drift Record and feel free to add a link to your own if you've a mind.
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Thursday, May 19, 2011

Ren Faire

Best donut holes of my life. Amazingly tender and melty.
 The local Renaissance Faire is gearing up for a final spring weekend before they close up shop until autumn. I'm sharing our recent experience just in case anyone feels inspired to go take a wander through the grounds and see a joust face to face. I had never personally been to a Ren Faire although they are just the sort of places "my sort" of people tend to hang out, the people who like old fashioned things, who like costumes and acting, the sort who love fairs, the sort who make things, the sort who are kind of in love with romance and literature and all things dreamy. Yeah...my people.
 In fact, the reason why we went at all is because an acquaintance mentioned in passing that he thought I ought to know that there was a Renaissance Faire happening nearby this weekend....he told me that it "seemed like my sort of thing." There's a piece of me that bristles somehow at the accusation, but I have to admit he's completely right. It was exactly my sort of thing. 
 I loved all the handmade items for sale, the beautiful ideas, the impressive craftsmanship and the wonderfully hard to find types of objects that only the old fashioned folk would even think of selling or buying. Ah, specialization!
 The boys were wild fans of the live jousting match that we watched, never thought of a Ren Faire as the perfect boy activity before, but I sure will now! And thus inspired, Dee went charging across a field after a poor, surprised grounds maintenance woman, sending about a dozen onlookers into titters. I can't believe I caught a picture. Love his ardent fervor.

 The big boys both got to shoot at very Robin Hood-esque targets with an old fashioned bow and arrow and the kind target practice booth man also gave them a free demo of crossbow shooting which Ru thought was positively dreamy. He's kind of mildly obsessed with medieval weaponry (especially crossbows) thanks to this book which he got for Christmas and has been devouring ever since. Nothing like an unintended living history lesson.
 Lots of wonderful music at the fest too. Fiddle, uke, guitar, and peppy vocals in large doses. Makes me remember how much I love traditional folk music of all kinds and how much I really need to get serious about attending the local contra dances. Why in heavens name have I waited so long?
Oh, wacky Ren Faire people....you're so cool.

Ren Faire....I think I love ya.....
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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Floral Foraging

 The wisteria is in bloom here on our Connecticut roadsides. I cannot resist foraging when I run into a cache and abundant wild flowers are no exception. In many parts of the country wisteria is considered invasive so there's no big concern about picking an armful of blossoms as the muscular vines can bulge and flex and pull over a house if they wish. Even if it a dizzy hellion of a vine, it is breathtaking.

 One of my very favorite flowers. I can't really resist it. I tried to pretend that I wasn't going to plant one here but then I got over it when I pulled over to the side of the highway, in the mighty shade of a massive wisteria, laden with soft ropes of blossom dripping all over the entire backside of a some nameless big box store. That single vine where I stopped to fill my arms must have been 30 feet or more across and about 20 feet high....thick with sweet, pendulous clusters.

 There's a potted wisteria sitting in our driveway now, waiting for just the right spot. I am waffling about where exactly I will plant it, my third wisteria at a dwelling of ours. I planted a wisteria vine at our first house, we bought a house with a lush wisteria pergola and then sold it after just one season of ripe blooms and now, here we are again. New beginnings.

 Wisteria is a good flower for us. It will help encourage us to make sure to build that imaginary pergola over the imaginary stone patio in our back yard, a little bit an anchor tying us to plans we dreamed up. It also makes me think of our wedding in my great-grandparents vineyard all draped with gold and purple and is a good tie between our mutual interest in The East and our origin in The West. A flower held in great traditional esteem in China and Japan and then "discovered", named and affectionately adopted in England. Just about exactly right.

And you have to admit. Even if you're not a "flower person" that it is spectacular. Right? Tell I'm right.


Monday, May 16, 2011

Fresh Cut Grass

There is nothing like that first grass cutting of the year. Tonic, I tell you, tonic.


Thursday, May 12, 2011

The Pet Stage

We're to the pet stage at our house. Ru is my pet lover. He loves animals of all kinds and companionship and really fancies the idea of a little somebody to take care of and play with. I understand. I also married a man who is quite reticent to own a dog or cat since he's afraid they'll set off allergy atom bombs. I am wistful over this turn of events and have mulled over exactly how in the world I will rectify and resolve this whole conundrum. Truth be told, I'm a wild sucker for pets myself. I'd love to have a tabby on the windowsill and a spaniel at the door.

I've been reading Annie Dillard for the first time. Pilgrim At Tinker Creek. If you love the outdoors and you haven't read her, go do it. You'll be glad you did. She's blowing my doors off. One of the inspiring things about Annie is her insatiable desire to know, understand and commune with all the little creatures of the world.  She raises and studies and collects everything....worms and little skater bugs and tadpoles and insects of all kinds. I was completely inspired. Suddenly the green world seems teeming with pets, our basement pantry with empty mason jars a ready equipment hall and our newly emptied sunroom (all the plants migrated outdoors for the summer) a perfect laboratory for all the pets we could dream of. I promptly took the boys to a pet shop. We had thought to buy one goldfish but we ended up with two bettas instead...one for each big boy along with a bowl for both of them complete with a handy divider to keep them in their own spheres.

The fish are beautiful and the boys are both excited about these graceful little creatures. We spent a good part of yesterday reading together about betta fish and digesting whatever we could about what makes them tick. Purpose driven knowledge hunts are such wonderful things!

Then we discovered that the Insect Lore kit caterpillars that we've been raising were all hanging upside down from the lid of their cup which means that butterflies are in our very near future! How exciting! They found a spot next to the fish.

Somewhere in our internet wanderings, looking for info on the fish we found this wonderful blog full of pictures, information and experiences stalking the author's backyard caterpillar population. I found out that "inch worms" and wooly bears and many other little land worms aren't worms at all....they're caterpillars who will form a chrysalis and become either a moth (many of whom are quite beautiful) or a butterfly! I feel silly for assuming they were land worms. Learning learning. So much fun. So, on our way to get A from work we collected two tiny caterpillars that we found munching maple leaves and cherry buds and they came home with us too and joined the rest of the collection in their own little mason jar condos. Anything munching holes in leaves can be raised in a glass jar for observation! Such a world of possibility!

Suddenly I was remembering keeping a snail in a jar as a little girl and the fact that the nature center we visited had captive ant lions that could be fed stray ants from the sidewalk, and how we sometimes kept earthworms in a glass container with a little soil so that we could watch them tunnel and eat and dig some more through little channels against the glass. The world no longer seem closed to my poor children who can't have four legged, fur bearing friends....they can raise a host of praying mantis' from an egg case or watch a little colony of ants march two and fro between two panes of glass and they every bit as alive, if not quite as affectionate. For now, it will do. Next, I'm planning to take the boys to collect frog's eggs and see if we can raise some tadpoles into frogs. I might need to look into an old aquarium at some point, eh? This morning, after we'd watched one upside-down caterpillar leave his skin in a lumpy pile and sew himself snugly into a cocoon Ru said to me thrilledly, looking around the sunroom, "It's like our zoo, Mommy!" And so it is. We don't have a dog, we have a zoo.
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