Category Archives: Home & Garden

Gutters and lemon squares

It was cooler and then not. One pile of dirt has been dispersed, the other sifted of rocks. More news on patio in another post.

I made lemon squares and cut K’s hair. Worked on a bunch of chapters. Yesterday, met “the guys” over at the lake.

Saturday afforded some beautiful late afternoon light.

K cleaned gutters and I laid additional slates in the landing area. One of the beauties of watching a professional crew is learning how to do something. My rubber mallet, small yellow level, and trowel have been busy!

For instance, I’m interrupting the median plantings so that when the nearby elementary school resumes in-person learning, it’ll be clear where to step. A good use of the multitude of rocks uncovered in our patio project. My mother used to joke that rocks are New England’s best crop.

Recording the above because dinner prep is in the works. I’m roasting tomatoes, soaking beans, chopping olives and cooking rice for a rice, corn, and bean salad. Tons of garlic and shallots will add flavor.

Fortuitously, even before the obscenity that is Ivanka hawking Goya beans on her twitter feed, I ordered heirloom beans from California. Very exciting for this mid-level foodie!

Two friends are coming over to watch Hamilton this evening. I’m excited way out of proportion to the event. I’ve seen both friends recently and have already watched Hamilton once, but it feels special.

For one thing, I haven’t had a reason to tidy the living room in a LONG time. Plus, I love an excuse to rearrange the furniture (we’ll sit six feet apart and wear masks – except when eating).

And when have I cooked for friends last?

Cake, pies, and dirt

The chocolate cake turned out “stodgy,” as they would say on The Great British Baking Show. Dense, chewy and close to inedible, in other words. When Paul Hollywood calls a dessert stodgy, he doesn’t spit it out (the ultimate condemnation), but close. Picture a wrinkled nose and a look of pity.

We will consume it. If you pretend it’s a tort, it kind of works. Ice cream makes it tastier.

I hope my annual currant pie turns out better.

Meanwhile, the heat makes moving dirt a brutal chore. I asked the patio guys to leave us two large piles because I just couldn’t bear to see them haul it away. It keeps K up at night, but I plan to go at it, bucket by bucket.

An old pin cherry root will be installed out back. It’s been tipped over and neglected in the lilies of the valley. Now it will get pride of place. Guardian of the shade!

A nasturtium blooms. My hydrangea are reluctant to grow and half the tomatoes I bought as seedlings haven’t changed at all in four weeks. It reminds me of being twelve when I fervently wished (and wished harder) that I would keep growing. Hallelujah little orange flower!

And speaking of growth, that Rose of Sharon was nearly destroyed by rabbits last year and just look at it!

Lastly, I’m feeling that blogging is both a life line and something that could fall away nearly without notice. How can it be both things?

It occurs to me that a normal summer would have included weeks of travel, weeks when blogging did fall away, in other words. There would have been a coming back. Maybe there was something in that formula?

Just wondering.

Off to the ballet?

Not heading out to the the ballet (who is?), this little arts-enthusiast is off to Connecticut.

I can tell I underpriced her because I’m having trouble letting her go. She’s one of my favorites.

A big gardening day here today. I was supposed to help a friend with her foundation beds earlier, but neither vehicle will start.

Note to self: once charged, be sure to drive each vehicle once a week!

Walking over at the school the other day, two things made me pause. The first was ANOTHER dead bird.

The other was the height of a tree, which I sourced, fund-raised to purchase, and planted back in the day. It was four feet high back then. If you squint you can see the dead robin on the sidewalk where the path turns.

It’s too close to the building. A newbie mistake. Still, it’s lovely.

I thought it was a Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick, but now I’m not sure.

Pandemic Diary

Day 63 or 64 or whatever. Another collage and its companion. If the one above had a title, it might be, “the horror of graphs.”

This one might be called, “the desolation of streets.”

Waiting for Instacart in a comfy collapsible soccer/mom chair in the garage because — wait for it — it’s a little too hot in the sun.

Yesterday I planted amaranth and basil seeds in a little tray delivered by Home Depot. This morning I dropped sunflower seeds right into the ground near the foundation out front. I am edging and weeding and transplanting in a daily rhythm that feels effortless somehow, and satisfying. Not much else feels that way lately.

We are planning to have a circular patio with an 18′ diameter installed, as well as a 26′ path of stepping stones from the garage.

Needless to say, the contractor who repeatedly asked, of the circle’s dimension, “18 by what?” did not get the job.

Here’s a heads up to all those folks who think a mask detracts from their appearance or their liberties: Galvin-Instacart-delivery-man, with his shaved head, tight T-shirt, and yes, mask, was about as good looking as they come!

Just as I’m starting to get a routine, I’m also starting to get sick of the routine. I unload in the garage, wearing gloves and mask. Pantry items get parked and stay untouched for four days or longer. (You’ll also note the mail piles, representing a four day rotation).

I save all plastic bags, but they also go into a rotation such that none will be touched before a week or so has gone by.

Inside, I plop goods into a hot water and bleach solution and rinse in hot water. I used to do this in the garage. It is much easier at the sink.

Finn waits out these proceedings in his crate.

It’s all a little perfunctory at this point and honestly, grocery shopping is one of the lower risk outings one can make. Nevertheless, I’ll keep going this way for a while.

I’m happy to report that my brother finished his ten ER shifts at Stonybrook, Long Island and is heading back to LA tomorrow. We will all feel even more relief at about ten days out, symptom-free.

Meanwhile, younger EMT-certified son is considering throwing himself into the fray and I actually support the idea.

I’m not a terribly good follower these days. News takes up most of my media bandwidth. The fact that the magenta robe was an exercise in extreme frustration made me wonder about how I set priorities. Never mind why.

It’s time to piece the back for the sixth of six panels for C’s quilt and do a little research on the best way to assemble the panels. They will all have been hand quilted at that point.

And, it’s also time to pick up manuscript after a short hiatus. Lots of writing happening here these days, just not that. The author-consultant who was supposed to start reading in mid-April has been delayed until beginning of June. I have the last fifth of the book to edit before then.

June is around the corner. Can you believe it?

Quarantine dress code

Just so you know, I wear shoes until around four and then I switch to slippers. Because, structure?

On dog walks, of course, I wouldn’t dream of wearing my black velvet loafers. I wear sneakers. On days like today they get wet in pretty short order, but I still prefer them to my clunky waterproof ankle boots.

I get dressed upon waking. That’s a routine I’ve had for years, in part because I bathe in the afternoon and not first thing like most people. It seems more important than ever to stick to that. Sometimes, I take my bra off after dinner. With some satisfaction, I’ll fling it over my head in the direction of the staircase. That’s a tiny departure from routine.

Finn, in his own manner of sticking to routines, ate through the pocket of K’s good Gortex rain jacket two days ago — prompted only by the residual smell of treats. Damn! Do you know how expensive Gortex is? The only jacket I’ve had made of the stuff used to belong to one of the boys. K ordered a replacement, the SAME DAY, which in case you don’t know, is a big departure for him. No shopping around. Quarantine cutting through the usual structures about spending on self? Maybe. At some point in this mask making process, I’ve decided, I’ll ask for donations. If for nothing else, to cover the cost of thread, which as my fellow stitchers know, is not cheap! Also, depending on my stamina, I may ask people to sponsor masks for nursing homes to the tune of $13 a pop. Five residents in a Newton nursing home died this week at a place that’s been asking for masks.

I may make EIGHT today and still have time for afternoon edits. Starting Netflix series “The Stranger” for entertainment — pretty good, so far. Thankfully K is not like me. I cannot write with background talking or music playing, but he can. Ours is an open floor plan.

DAY 28 of containment. Full moon last night.