Lily Pond at Longwood Gardens

We are home and . . . .

We left on Friday, early in the day.  There was the threat of rain but there was also Longwood Gardens, one of my favorite places in the entire world, a bit more than an hour north.  On the way home.  Almost.  It never rained but it was cloudy and clammy.  Julia complained, but I was not to be dissuaded from indulging in the garden.  We did some walking, less than I would have liked, more than Julia wanted.  Compromise!  Beds of color do not impress her, but the water fountain with musical accompaniment was pretty thrilling.  Best of all was when I found the plant that is her favorite.  I almost didn’t find it.  It was in the very last exhibit, behind the green house, in a corner of the water lily ponds.  Mimosa pudica, also called the sensitive plant.  The tiny ground hugging plant with leaves that fold at the slightest touch is of never ending fascination to Julia.  And she was thrilled we found it.

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a walk, a house and a challenge

It is spring, and then it’s not, and then it is, and we get to open the windows for one day.  

Last Saturday was that day.  I almost wished I could have spent it in my little garden plot. —Yes, indeed, I can once again plant tomatoes and basil, a pumpkin, some chard and salad greens.  I did nothing to enhance the soil last year but as this is my second year, I am thinking.  But last Saturday was for walking and walk we did in The Gardens at Elm Bank in Wellesley.

Elm Bank was a private residence built in the 17th century. At the turn of the 20th Century, the owner engaged architects to build a neo-Georgian manor house and hired the Olmsted Brothers to design and improve the gardens. After various owners and various uses, the site was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1987 and it is now owned by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. In April of 1996, after a public process that included thoughtful consideration of all aspects of the sited leased Massachusetts Horticultural Society. The old manor house is in need of deep restoration but the garden beds are laid out and ready to be worked on for spring.  We enjoyed the bulb flowers and the flowering trees, and I enjoyed just being in a working garden on the verge of a season. 

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peace of a day

A rain storm is coming in.  Slowly.  I sit on our front porch tapping on the laptop. It was cool, sunny and breezy this early morning and I checked the weather when I woke up.  Giving Julia the choice of a morning bike ride or walk, she chose the ride.  

Biking has been a very long process for Julia.  It took a long time to learn to pedal, and then to balance, and then, even after balancing, it has been years of practice to get her to the point of riding steady enough to do it in the street.  Our shut down lives have yielded a bonus of empty streets.  Julia is riding on quiet streets, and occasionally rides on streets that get a few cars often.  She is finally steady enough to be able to ride on smooth, wide sidewalks.  In Madison, we had the benefit of being close enough to a small bay to ride around.  Fortunately, this year I think she is ready for streets. Continue reading

helicopter gardening

That’s me—a helicopter gardener.  My first year since 1993 without a real garden of my own and I have all the time in the world to plan, plant, weed, mulch and water.  Well, not all the time but much more than I’ve had previously. So with time and a little plot, much like an over protective parent, I am out watering and a bit of weeding most days. The weeds are small and mighty—how I wish I had brought my small curved fork on a stick.  Moving, I let go of almost all of my gardening tools.  I use the rake my landlords have to weed and then put in some hands-and-knees time.  I contemplate straw mulch. I’ve spotted the morning glory seedlings along the fence line but I don’t know what sunflower seedlings look like.  I weed around the morning glory and try to remember where I planted sunflowers.  

Most of the vegetable plants are doing well without fuss.  I planted too early—yes, indeed, I did—and there have been many slow starts.  Some of the basil and the rainbow chard show cold burn but even those are beginning to perk up.  I worried the sudden onset of very hot weather yesterday and then laughed at myself.  Too hot, too cold—most of the plants will do fine.  They always have. Continue reading

end of week 9

Morning before 8.  I’ve gotten up, dressed, set up breakfast, taken out garbage cans, said hello to the guy across the street who is returning from food shopping—Ah, the wonder of senior hours.  I wish I had opened a window last night to wake up to the birds.  There is a lot of bird song this morning; the street, this tiny enclave, is quiet.  Julia is still asleep—classes begin at 10, so no need to rush her up.  I have my fresh, hot coffee and I put myself on the front porch to tap on this machine of see what comes to life.

It has been another challenging week although the challenges have been different.  Julia did most of her school work, with even a bit of help from me; however, we’ve had trouble getting her linked into the zoom calls.  I’ve asked the school IT for help—re-boot and reinstall—and then no way to connect.  I was enormously frustrated yesterday.  No way to get in, no way to get immediate help for class after class.  Reboot and reinstall.  I am almost sure it is my fault.  I am probably doing some part of the set up wrong which makes me feel quite inadequate especially when I manage to sit Julia in front of her chrome book for class after class and she is utterly frustrated when it fails to connect. I wonder why I am not willing to just give her a pass, give us both a pass, duck out of school and go for a walk. Continue reading



Not much of that the last two weeks.  The city is tearing up my street, both streets on my corner.  The crew port-o-potty adorns my terrace garden bed. From 6:45 to 6:00 p.m., 6 days a week—scrapers scrape, diggers dig and hit stuff in the ground, pounders, earth movers, buriers of huge pieces of metal and all of it beeps mercilessly when they back up.  I complained to whoever listened and grumped to myself often for days. Then I stopped insisting that my daily round remain the same and got out of the house as much as possible.  After awhile the persistence to hold fast to my daily round and the desire to escape as much as possible settled into some middle space—I stopped complaining and reclaimed the house when I needed it, mindful of my tolerance.  I needed to open windows and turn on fans and welcome (almost) the road dust.  I started greeting the crew outside my windows and they’ve been helpful making some space for me to get my car out of the driveway and out of my street.  I am on the verge of baking them muffins. Continue reading

coming of age

AE0CBD2F-5AED-4BE1-BC55-3651153B147EIt is spring!  Tulip are on parade.  I’ve changed to capris and flip-flops. Around town the Redbud trees are in bloom.  They are my favorite spring trees. I “saw” them for the first time as I drove from Bloomington to Indianapolis for my first post-law school job which (as a classmates reminds me on Facebook today) was 26 years ago.  I planted a Redbud in my Indianapolis garden and though there is no room to plant one now, I eagerly await their blooming every year.   Continue reading

dystopian gardening 

7822C7DC-92EE-42E4-86EC-B71B7E2D7C69Has no one else noticed?  There are very few daffodils blooming.  This unnerving phenomenon is particularly apparent in my garden.  I have planted shit loads of daffs and narcissus over the years and I anticipate enough blooms to cut  several dozen inside. “A host of golden daffodils.”  This year’s crop, front and back garden is a handful, maybe 7. No, not even 7.  My next neighbor usually has a drift on the side of her house facing my side door.  It is a micro climate that blooms in full glory at least a week before mine.  This year, she has less than a dozen. Continue reading

land of lupines

img_1138We drove up to Ashland, WI, during the weekend, a short trip to go to a memorial service.  I’ve not been that far north and although the weather was wet, damp, then rainy and rather cold, there were trees to drive through and lake beaches to walk on. I fell into writing about where Julia is this summer which I’ll post separately.

I loved getting out of Madison!  Apart from a very few quick trips to the Chicago burbs, its been months since we’ve left. I love Madison but I crave travel. Driving up north was unexpectedly satisfying. Quiet, gray, rolling hills, lots of evergreen trees and water.  The lake looking so vast that a casual observer might mistake it for a sea. And the lupines! I have not driven through a landscape of wild lupines.  Like in Barbara Cooney’s story of Alice Rumphius, a kid’s book I haven’t thought about in years. The lupines were beautiful. Someone at the memorial said they were invasive. It may be wrong but I wish to be invaded by lupines.  I stopped by the side of the road more than once trying unsuccessfully to capture what I saw.

The lupines were worth the drive. Continue reading

movin’ may

4:00 p.m.: I’ve spent the day in the garden beds, digging up the last of the bulbs in the front terrace beds, transplanting ajuga from those same beds to the side in front of the fence.  This is a place where the worst weeds grow. Ugly, ugly, ugly.  I planted ajuga on the fence line last fall.  About a third of it took, so I’m trying again. Cutting back spent bulb plantings and weeding just a tiny bit. I have some mighty incredible weeds after our week of rain.

Julia is working on cover art for a class project while she listens to music. Kid bob mostly with a bit of classic rock mixed in. “I just love ‘Thriller,’” she tells me. How can I not smile indulgently?

For the cover art, Julia sketched the old fashion way and then transferred her drawings to an iPad app for coloring.  When finished, the enhanced drawings will all go into a collage app to be arranged on a background and titles. For a child who stumbles over simple directions, she has figured most of this out by herself. When she’s run into problems and asks me, which surprisingly she is doing with more regularity, she is patient as I figure the problem out and usually fully understands my solution about half way through my explanation. Continue reading