Posted tagged ‘herbs’

“And in this moment, like a swift intake of breath, the rain came.”

May 25, 2017

The weather is back to dark and damp and really chilly, down to the low 50’s. It is raining now and the rain isn’t going anywhere. It will stay rainy and raw through tomorrow and there may even be thunder. I really need a sweatshirt even in the house.

With all this rain, the grass seed on my lawn is sprouting. The green shoots of flowers have appeared in the front garden. Some have even bloomed into purple and white delicate flowers. I don’t know their names. I never do.

Next week I will purchase the herbs and flowers for my various gardens, pots and window boxes. I have a list of some flowers to buy, all perennials. I know which herbs as I buy the same ones each year, herbs I use in cooking. I love being able to go to the herb garden and snip what I need for dinner. Doing that always makes me feel like the consummate cook and gardener.

I just had my first sign of summer despite the cold and the rain. My guy came and turned on the irrigation and the outdoor shower. I figure it will be a long while before I’ll use the shower outside given the cold and especially because the shower area is a spawn of Satan hangout. It has a huge pile of stripped pine cones. They cover the floor and the bench. This is on my factotum’s to-do list.

Critter Control came yesterday. My cellar is inundated with mice, a few of which have made their way to this floor as well as to upstairs. One lives in a kitchen cabinet. The critter guy left food traps where the mice munch, eat their fill, leave the traps and shortly thereafter depart from this world. The cabinet mouse’s poop in the utensil drawer was the straw.

I did errands yesterday then rewarded myself with Chinese food for dinner. I got jumbo shrimp for a dual purpose. I ate some and shared pieces of the cooked batter with Gracie and some of the shrimp with the cat. I sneaked her pills into Gracie’s portion. She didn’t figure it out, and it was an easy way to give Gracie the pills. We’re having leftover Chinese for lunch today and I’ll trick Gracie again.

It was after midnight when I took Gracie out for the last time before bed. Every house was dark except mine. The house across the street had disappeared. Clouds hid the moon and the stars. I could barely see my driveway, but luckily my star and the white lights off the deck and fence still shined and lit the way to the backyard.

It’s time to finish. I’m getting hungry.

“If a man watches three football games in a row, he should be declared legally dead.”

May 31, 2016

Today is warm and humid and still damp from the rain of the last two days. Only the middle of the street is beginning to dry. Much of the pollen has been washed away. My car is red again. Today I’m getting what I need to open the deck for summer. That would be paint for the planters, more clay pots, flowers and herbs. With my pad and pen in hand, I have to go on the deck and make a list of what I need then it’s off to Agway.

This morning I watched The Lone Ranger. Much of it was filmed outside on dusty roads among hills lined with rocks. It wasn’t really all that bad for being 59 years old. Tonto may have butchered the English language, but he was an equal partner to Kemosabe. Adam 12 was next. It hasn’t aged as well as The Lone Ranger filled as it is with 1970. After that, I was done with classic television.

When I was a  kid, we had only a few channels to watch. Saturday mornings were filled  with cartoons and half hour shows like Rin Tin Tin, Buffalo Bill, Annie Oakley and Captain Midnight. I really liked Annie Oakley. She was a female sheriff, and that was a big deal to me. She wore what would later be called cullottes but the legs on hers were so wide they looked almost like a dress. Everything she wore was fringed. Captain Midnight was another favorite. I wanted my mother to buy me Ovaltine because that’s what Captain Midnight drank. She didn’t.

I remember well one of our TV’s, the one in the console, a huge cabinet for a small screen. It was against the wall near the window on the back wall of the living room. We’d sit close and watch until my mother made us move back to save our eyes. I know we had a color TV on the cape but the colors weren’t very bright. My father blamed cable, but it was just the TV getting old.

The TV I have now was the first HD set in the neighborhood. It caused quite the stir. Now everyone has HD. Mine is getting on in age as it is around 12, but it seems fine and the colors are still bright.

I like watching television, mostly at night. I have to be really bored to watch it in the daytime. Today I was bored.

“I’m so fast that last night I turned off the light switch in my hotel room and was in bed before the room was dark.”

May 28, 2016

My little nap seems to have done the trick. I fell asleep right away as the bedroom was still cool, and the outside world was quiet. The only sounds were from the chimes hanging off branches in the backyard and Gracie’s deep breathing. She had joined me for a nap. The two cats stayed downstairs for their naps.

Today is a perfect day. It is in the high 70’s, bright with sun and there’s a breeze to cool the air just a bit. We are 10 or 15 degrees cooler than Boston and a whole cooler than the western part of the state.

The deck is back to normal. All the furniture is in its usual place. Putting out the do-dads is all that’s left. When I say do-dads, I mean the rug, all the candles in the trees and on the tables, the window boxes, the flower pots, the prayer flags and the pictures for the wall. The shelf and the flower pots need to be repainted. I have new prayer flags and a couple of new strings of lights.

Yesterday while I was sitting in my car waiting for my friends, the wind blew, and I could see the pollen almost as dense as fog blowing off the tree. My car is covered in the greenish yellow pine pollen. I hate this season. When it gets hot, you don’t dare open windows as everything will be pollen covered. It’s like the harmattan in Ghana when the blowing wind brought dust from the Sahara, and it covered all the surfaces in my house. Dusting was a lesson in futility. It is the same with the pollen.

I drove my friends to the Logan airport bus because they were leaving for England early last evening. When I got home, the phone rang. It was Tony telling me Clare had left her pocketbook in the car, the pocketbook with the passports and plane tickets. Could I please hurry as the bus would be leaving in about 15 minutes, 10 minutes short of the drive. I drove like a maniac. The slowest I went was 75, and I cursed the car in front of me which kept me to that crawl. I swear G-force acceleration distorted my face. I drove into the lot and there they were, the last people. They smiled and threw their arms up when they saw my car. The driver was just putting the last piece of luggage in the bay. My timing was perfect. I handed them the handbag and Tony asked Clare if that was her bag. I wanted to say something sarcastic like I have 15 others you can choose from, but I figured it wasn’t the right time. Their gratitude was profuse. They immediately gave their luggage to the driver and got on the bus. Gracie and I went much slower on the ride home.

“Whenever the sun is shining, I feel obligated to play outside!”

May 26, 2016

Yesterday summer dropped by for a visit and decided to stay a while. It was 70˚ here and in the high 80’s away from the coast. It will be the same today.

This morning the doorbell rang at the ungodly hour of eight. Gracie, in her watch dog mode, started barking, leapt off the bed and ran downstairs. Other than the barking, I did the same thing. It was Sebastian, my neighbor and landscaper, who handed me my morning papers from the driveway. He just laughed when I told him he had woken me up in what was literally a rude awakening. Sebastian said he had rung the bell to let me know he and his guys were working on the garden planting the new flowers and herbs and laying down mulch. I was actually glad he had rung the bell as I had other yard work needing a bit of attention. One guy cleaned out the winter headquarters of the spawn of Satan, my outside shower, which had a huge mound of pine cones and pieces of pine cones meant to feed families of spawns over the winter. They also filled Gracie’s chasms. One hole was so big it needed to be walked around instead of jumped across. I swear I could faintly hear Chinese. I think it was Mandarin. Finally they cleaned the debris from the deck and from the deck furniture. Sebastian said the guy would be here tomorrow to stain the deck. I asked him to swear the guy was coming. Sebastian declined.

The noisy morning has given way to a stillness occasionally punctuated by the sounds of birds singing and Gracie snoring. All three animals are here with me, and all of them are sleeping. Fern and Gracie are on the couch and Maddie is on her chair.

Days like today are meant to be enjoyed. The wash I was going to do can wait until tomorrow or even Saturday. There is no rush. I could do a dump run, but that too can be put off until tomorrow. Nothing is a must today except maybe some time on the deck with a cold drink and a book.

 

“Gardens and chocolate both have mystical qualities.”

May 24, 2016

Zip-a-dee-doo-dah, zip-a-dee-ay, my, oh my, what a wonderful day. I don’t know how exactly, but I managed to get my computer back. Whatever was loading disappeared or loaded. I have no idea. I left the computer on when I went to bed. It said 13 more hours to load. When I woke up, 9 hours later, all was well. I cheered when my screen saver loaded.

Today is damp and a bit chilly. It must have rained during the night. Outside is quiet. I don’t hear a single sound, not even a car.

Yesterday I bought my flowers for the front garden and the herb garden, and I bought a hanging tomato plant for the deck. All the flowers are perennials. Three of them are native plants which attract butterflies. I know one of them is a kind of milkweed. I also bought tall plants for the back of the garden. I couldn’t buy basil yet as it is still in the greenhouse. May 31st is the official date to start planting in New England, and because basil is susceptible to the cold,  the plants will stay in the greenhouse until the 31st.

A woman working in the garden chose some plants for me. She even used their Latin names. I was thunderstruck and quite awed.

I don’t remember when I first discovered you could buy live herbs. It was quite the revelation. I grew up in a pansy garden house. My dad dutifully planted them in front every year. They were evenly spaced and in a variety of colors. Years later, in a different house, my mother planted a garden right by the kitchen windows. It was filled with flowers and a statue of St. Francis holding his seed filled hands out to the birds. Maggie, another dog of mine, discovered the garden. She horrified my mother by wandering among the plants which were so tightly arranged they left little room for visitors. I had to go get Maggie several times. My dad finally put up a fence around the opening. I loved that little garden right outside the windows.

“Flowers seem intended for the solace of ordinary humanity.”

June 3, 2014

This morning, around 1 am, I was awoken by an odd sound, a repeating sound. At first I thought it was an animal screaming from being caught by a coyote, but it went on too long for that. Next I figured it was a goose, a large, walking through the neighborhood goose. The sound was right below my window at one point then was quite distant at another then it came closer again. Gracie got up and went downstairs, but I wasn’t going to let her out. Finally the sound faded then disappeared, and I went back to sleep. I asked my neighbor if she heard anything. She hadn’t. My other neighbor said she had seen around 12 or 13 turkeys wandering the neighborhood yesterday. I think that’s exactly what it was: a turkey looking for the rest of the turkeys.

The leaves on the big oak by the deck are mottled with sun. They wave in the breeze, a warm breeze. The air is sweet-smelling. Today is glorious, a short-sleeve day, a day to spend outside.

My lawn is green, spring green. It is soft on bare feet. In the mornings when I go to get the papers the grass is cool, but in the afternoons the grass is hot and means a speedier trip to pick up the mail.

The front walk is lined on both sides with potted plants. I bought flowers, herbs and veggies yesterday. I didn’t buy enough. I never do. Skip is now fencing in the vegetable garden. The old fence was flimsy and needed replacing. The new one will keep Gracie outside. She’ll have to dig somewhere else. Soon enough the tomatoes and cucumbers and two more vegetables yet to be decided will be planted and watered. I get to watch them grow, and I get to be amazed.

“Long live your laundry!”

June 2, 2014

Wonder of wonders: my first laundry load is in the dryer and the second is in the washing machine. No longer does the bag of laundry lying there by the cellar door haunt me. My victory lap was well-earned. Tomorrow, though, I change my bed and the laundry bag gets filled anew. It is an endless cycle. Blame Adam and Eve who in being thrown out of the garden had to drop the leaves and don clothing.

It’s a sprawl in the sun on the rug by the door morning for the cats, proof that spring is finally entrenched. Last night stayed in the 50’s. Today is lovely, a word not often heard anymore, but it fits perfectly.

It is is plant and flower buying day, one of favorite days of the year. I’ll shop for herbs and veggies for the two small gardens and for flowers to fill the deck window boxes and clay pots, some of which need replacing. All this shopping frenzy is in preparation for tomorrow, opening day. My factotum, Skip, is coming to clean the deck and decorate it and the yard for summer, weed the two gardens then plant the herbs and veggies, fill all the window boxes and pots which sit on the deck rail with new soil and both flowers and herbs then finally de-spider and clean the outside shower. The deck is covered in pine pollen so it will not only need sweeping but also washing. The fence around the veggie garden needs some work as a few of the fence boards broke over the winter and Gracie has dug a few holes in the garden. She is a champion hole-digger.

My dryer has just announced the first load is dry and ready for folding and the second load is set to take its place. I do feel accomplished.

“The Scriven men wore stack-heeled boots and pearl-studded evening coats; the ladies in their vast skirts looked like mythical creatures, half woman, half sofa.”

May 5, 2014

We have been graced with sun yet again. The day will be warmish. I’ve become hopeful and have even started to make a list of flowers for the garden, perennials for the front and annuals for the boxes in the back. I also need herbs for both the herb garden and the deck boxes and vegetables for my small vegetable garden. I love to shop for flowers.

When I was young, girls’ dungarees had a zipper in the front pocket. They weren’t as sturdy as boys’ dungarees. My brother wore jerseys and I mostly wore blouses. In the summer I wore sleeveless blouses and shorts. I also wore white sneakers and socks. I don’t know why, but I never wore sandals. I don’t remember if anyone did. My brother never wore shorts. Boys seldom did even in the heat of summer. Shorts were a girl thing, and the distinction between girls’ and boys’ stuff was huge when I was growing up. Boys’ bikes had that bar across the middle while girls’ bikes didn’t. No boy would have ever been caught dead on a girl’s bike, but if you think about it now, the boys would have been better served with no bar. My brother wore black Converse high tops, and I wore Converse as well but white, kind of pointy-toed ankle high sneakers. When I was young, keeping them white didn’t matter, but when I was older, keeping them white was so important I remember using white shoe polish to cover up scuffs. The polish would seep through the sneakers onto my socks and feet. Boys had better winter hats. They had ear flaps which kept their ears warm. I had a wool tam which didn’t make it to my ears which were always cold and red. We both wore mittens. Gloves were for adults. Our boots went over our shoes. Boys mostly wore black boots. Girls preferred colors. Red was a favorite. I never wore pants to school except under my skirt on the coldest days. The only time I could wear pants was playing after school or on Saturdays. I always thought it was a gyp.

Even in Ghana I had to wear dresses all the time. Clothes I brought with me didn’t hold up well to hand scrubbing so I had dresses made. We all did. They were made with Ghanaian cloth and were beautiful. When I went back a few years ago, I brought a dress and wore it once. The rest of time I wore pants. They had become acceptable for women.

There are very few times or places where a dress is expected wear. I wore one this Easter as I do every year. I think the last time before that was a wedding. I have a fall-winter dress and two spring-summer dresses. They are all I need.

“In order to see birds it is necessary to become a part of the silence.”

September 21, 2013

Gracie was on the deck and barking so I went out to check to see which critter was within sight. I didn’t see any, but I did see a water spray near the top of the driveway. A bird was having the most wonderful bath in a puddle from my irrigation system. The drops of water were flying in the air as the bird flapped its wings. That bird was having a great time and so was I while watching it.

The morning is a beauty. It is quintessential autumn on Cape Cod. The sun is bright and the day is warm. Fall flowers are in bloom, and my garden is filled with mums, anemones and my favorite of all, autumn clematis. In autumn, I always think Mother Nature gives us her best and final show before winter’s turn in the year.

I need bird seed: sunflower and thistle. Lately, with so many birds, the big feeder empties quickly. I think word of beak must be the reason. Yesterday, after I had filled the feeders with the last of the seeds, a chickadee flew so close by me I swear its wing touched my cheek. I love to stand by the deck rail and watch the birds eat. They are barely an arm’s length away as the feeders hang off the deck. The chickadees are the most fearless. The seeds are what they want, and my being there doesn’t give them pause. The thistle feeder spins each time a goldfinch or chickadee lands on it. The birds just hold on and go with the spin.

I know I won’t be able to stop myself from roaming the flower aisles when I go to buy the bird seed. Perennials are on sale as are the fall flowers. I just happen to have a few spaces in the small round garden where a tree used to stand and some spots in the back of the big front garden. I also want to harvest the rest of my herbs. The rosemary is ready to hang in the house, and its aroma will spread about the kitchen to remind me summer will be back. I just have to be patient.

“Idleness is fatal only to the mediocre.”

June 6, 2013

On Tuesday, of all my errands and chores, I only managed to buy the flowers. The rest of the list was put on hold for no reason except I didn’t want to do them, my favorite reason of all. Yesterday, though, was my most industrious day to date. I was the ant, not the grasshopper. I planted in all the deck boxes, pots and baskets, all 16 of them, and was quite creative in putting together the displays. There was one which was red, white and blue and another with beach grass and pink flowers with a sea creature on a stick added to each pot for decoration. I put the herbs in their window boxes: the thyme, rosemary and basil. When I’d finished planting, I was filthy and sweaty but yesterday was the perfect day to be working outside. It was cool and sunny so when I had finished with the pots and all, I sat outside for a bit just to enjoy the day. When I came back inside, I went upstairs. The cat boxes got changed as did the bed. My last upstairs chore was the badly needed shower after all that dirt. I sat and read for a bit downstairs then went out. Poor Gracie didn’t come as this is too warm a season for her to be left in the car. I sneaked to the dump, the pharmacy, the drop-in clinic, Staples and finally the plant store for a small tomato plant for the hanging thingee which hangs the tomato upside down. When I got home, I collapsed. I figure I don’t have to do anything else for at least a week!

In front of my house the other day was the truck belonging to the irrigation guy. Later that same day Peapod delivered my groceries. Today Roseana and Lee will be here to clean. I have Skip, my factotum, who is always only a phone call away. Here I am with more free time than I’ve ever had, but time I don’t want to squander on the mundane, on cleaning or shopping. I already resent my laundry, one of the few chores left to me. When I worked, I did everything on the weekends. I mowed the lawn, went grocery shopping, changed the bed, did my laundry and went to the dump every Sunday. Now I have people and more sloth days than anything. I figure I earned them.