Monday, July 31, 2006

Yellow Pear

Yellow Pear
Originally uploaded by henbogle.
Something good is growing in the garden.... This heirloom yellow pear tomato was a seedling gift from a gardener colleague. The largest have the faintest blush of yellow.... Good eating in about a week I'd guess.

Saturday, July 29, 2006


Ummm, we had our first corn of the season tonight. I grilled it in the husk on the gas grill. Just before serving, I removed the husks and silk, and reheated the corn on the grill, brushing with chile-lime butter. Fabulous. I cooked extra corn, then cut it off the cob for chicken and corn tacos tomorrow.

Chili-Lime Butter

1/2 stick of unsalted butter
1/2 t sea or kosher salt
juice of 1/2 lime
1/4 t cayenne pepper, ground

Melt the butter, stir in the seasonings and lime, and brush over the corn. The butter would make a good basting sauce for grilled meat.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Thyme Is On Our Side

We finished the deck landing today. Dan stopped by HD yesterday and bought 3 additional faux brick pavers, so this morning, before it got too awfully hot, we finished. (You can see the 3 new pavers on the far right, by the barn door. I hope after a few weeks, they will age as the others have.)

I filled the cracks with a 50/50 mix of the screened subsoil and compost. We had some thyme happily growing in a container, so we transplanted that, and sprinkled some
thyme seeds about, too, for good measure.

We'll do our
best to keep it well watered for the rest of the summer to give the thyme a fighting chance, and plant more next spring.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

The Intruder (by Damon)

What's up with RV Names? A few years ago, while camping on Cape Cod in Brewster State Park, an RV pulled in to the next campsite. The model name -- the Intruder (this is a true story.) How creepy is it to be tenting in a state park when the campers next door proudly pull in driving a vehicle named the Intruder?

According to my ancient American Heritage Dictionary, the definition of intruder is:

1. To put or force in inappropriately, especially without invitation, fitness, or permission. Why would you name a recreational vehicle the Intruder? What an unpleasant association for a vehicle that is designed to be driven about the country on holiday. On the other hand, it's a great name for an ATV -- but we won't go there today.

Driving home recently from New York following a holiday weekend, I recalled the creepily-named RV, and began watching for more names (it is a long drive.)
Here's what I saw on that trip, and since then, most recently today, when I followed a Conqueror through the toll both on the Maine Turnpike:


The last one, the Security, isn't in and of itself so bad, but in our current political climate, I feel it has bad juju. (The Security -- Spycam and grenade launcher included. See dealer for details.)

What's with the manufacturers of these vastly expensive vehicles? Are they illerate? Did they flunk out of 6th grade? Can they not use a dictionary? What about those dorky 50s movies, with the female heroine calling the police "there's an intruder in the house!" Did they not watch tv?

Meanwhile, Dan and I are saving up for retirement. Maybe we'll buy an Intruder, and terrorize the countryside. OK, well, maybe not.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Final Steps

We are almost done with the steps. Here I've set the brick (actually faux brick pavers) edge in sand, angled slightly to form a rim to keep the gravel in place. We need a few more bricks.

Below, we are screening the gravel to remove some of the subsoil.
With the gravel added and some sand filling the cracks.
We will fill in the cracks with a mix of compost and sand, and plant some thyme.

Carrots: They're What's for Dinner

I pulled these carrots this afternoon, and picked some lettuce and our first 2 cucumbers. A feast from the garden for dinner tonight!

Scared Chicken

We had a brush with chicken disaster last night. In the course of mowing the evil lawn, the gate to the chicken's run was closed. The chickens routinely put themselves to bed as it gets dark, but with the gate to the pen closed, their peaceful roost in Henbogle coop was denied them. Dan, busy mowing the front lawn, didn't see the commotion, and I was in the house, also unaware of the crisis.

At about 8:25, when we went out to close the coop, we could see Daisy running to and fro by the garden fence. As I got closer to the coop, I could see Zinnia and Poppy perched on the coop window. We then realized the gate had been shut. I collected Zinnia and put her in the coop while Dan caught Daisy, then collected Poppy from the window. Already in the coop was Iris -- how she got in is a mystery. Hyacinth and Marigold were nowhere to be seen.

We frantically called for them, shaking the container of scratch grain, and looked in all their favorite haunts. It getting darker with every second. Finally, I heard them in the overgrown Japanese knotweed area near their coop. We called and Dan struggled in to the overgrown mess trying to find them, but to no avail.

We finally gave up, but I have to say, I had a bad night -- I had a hard time getting to sleep, and kept waking up, listening for frightened chicken squawking. This morning, I got up at 5:45 and went out to look for them -- I was afraid to look, fearing bloody feathers littering the ground. With a cupful of scratch, I went back to Henbogle coop, calling for them.

Thank heavens, as I got to the vegetable garden I heard the anxious clucking of two frantic chickens. They were very glad to see me --almost as glad as I was to see the two of them. Marigold and Hycinth made it through a night in the rough, and all is well.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

A Big Step

Todays' project was preparing the gravel bed for the deck steps -- a convenient way of putting off the trauma of selecting a stain color.

This area is so
heavily trafficked, no grass will survive. We decided to use a concrete Walkmaker mold to put in a solid landing surface at the bottom of the steps, and fill in around with the gravel, edging the gravel with the brick.

Phase 1
Using the beloved purple hose to outline the shape of the landing pad, making sure we have enough room for the Walkmaker.

Phase 2

Digging out the sod and and backfilling with sand, preparing a base for the concrete.

Phase 3
Mixing concrete and filling the mold. Repeat 2 more times.

Tomorrow, fill in between the far left and center molds with a 'rock' made from the mold with extra concrete mix, then fill around the molds with sand, and the rest of the area with gravel.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Blooming Favorites Late July

Here are some of my favorites blooming just now.

Normally, I prefer more intense colors, but I just love this big clump of pale lilac Monarda, and so do the bees and hummingbirds.Raspberry Wine Monarda is a favorite, and seen in several beds. I love it here with the rudbeckia v. Indian Summer. There is some milkweed in there too, that I've allowed to grow for the butterflies.
More Raspberry Wine Monarda, and some globe thistle from Dan's mom.

This is a new spot I'm just adoring -- our new purple nine bark v. Diablo, with Raspberry Wine Monarda again, Barbara Mitchell daylily, another unknown cultivar of daylily, and liatris just beginning to bloom. The ninebark is gorgeous, I'm so pleased with it.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Report from the Vegetable Garden

Over the past 2 days, we've worked quite a bit in the vegetable garden. The weather has been hot, clear, and dry perfect for working outside mornings and late afternoons. We pulled out the peas which, between the wet spring and our vegetarian dog, were a bust this year. The pole beans are going great guns, so I've been training them up the poles. The zuchinni and summer squash were looking a bit peaked, but a couple of fish-emulsion foliar feedings seem to have put them right, and sent the squash bugs packing.

Now that most of the garden is surrounded by fence, we decided to remove
the row covers on the Swiss chard, broccoli and cauliflower. Slugs have made some inroads on a few of the broccoli and cauliflower plants, but they are recovering nicely from their earlier groundhog damage. A little Sluggo will solve the slug problem.

The cucumbers are doing well in their new spot this year. We caged them yesterday in a tomato cage to give them some support and protection from the chickens. We can see some baby cukes, so we'll be eating cucumbers soon, mmm. The tomatoes look great, we pruned off more suckers and continue to train them up the spiral stakes. We have green tomatoes now on every plant, the Rose de Berne, yellow pear, snd sun sugar.

We planted a second crop of scallions, broccoli, cauliflower,
carrots, radish, and added Brussells sprouts, cilantro, dill, and more parsley. Still to plant -- a yellow summer squash, delicata squash, sugar pie pumpkin. It's late, but I think we'll get some, as the soil is good and warm so they'll take right off, and I can provide frost protection with row covers. With the carrots, scallions, and crucifers, I experimented again with making seed tape from lengths of toilet paper. I really like the concept of this method, so I hope it works -- the spacing will be neat and tidy, with minimal thinning. I hate thinning -- I know it is good for the surviving plants, but when you work so hard to get seeds planted it is counterintuitive to rip the tiny new seedlings from the ground -- which we did in the lettuce bed.

We thinned and did some badly needed weeding in the lettuce bed, and I tried transplanting some of the thinnned lettuce plants to a new row. I finished up with a side dressing of organic fertilizer, and a good watering. Mother Nature pitched in with an early morning rain shower, and overcast day, and more rain tonight (Friday) and in the forecast for the weekend. The transplants look pretty good, I think we'll enjoy some success there.

We harvested Swiss chard for dinner. Originally I was going to make a white pizza, but when I finally got into the kitchen, it was nearly 6:30 so instead I opted for pasta with chard and chicken. It was yummy, and plated beautifully. I've been looking at recipes for Swiss chard ravioli and based on last night's dinner, think it will be worth the effort.

We ended the day with a heavenly lie in the hammock. We were hot, sweaty, and dirty, and swaying gently in the hammock was bliss. I can't imagine a better summer's day.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Don't feed the lion

Fishy, the mighty lion retriever, got a haircut today. To amuse ourselves, we had Katherine, his wonderful groomer, give him a lion-cut. Meee-ow!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Rustic Cherry Tart

Yes, it did taste as good as it looks.

Chicken Run

In one of the many chicken books or articles I read, I thought I read that chickens will not stray very far from their coop; that chickens could even become disoriented and get lost if you moved their coop to a new site, and did not keep them penned near the coop for a few days to become accustomed to the new location. I can remember thinking that our yard would be perfect, as the thick undergrowth and hedges between us and our neighbors would keep them home. Well, I guess my chickens are born (hatched?) explorers, because they have taken to free ranging with a passion.

The first week or so, the girls were skittish and didn't stray to far from the coop, rarely
approaching the deck. No more. Oh, no, my chickens are now wandering behind the freestanding deck, scratching through the lilac hedge, and popping over to neighbor Jim's for a look-see. This morning, they went marching down the driveway, and I had to run out and shoo them back into the yard.

Fortunately, at a tag sale last weekend, we bought two rolls of wire mesh fencing, (23' &16'), so today, we set up the fencing, arduously threading the long piece through the lilac hedge, and the other section behind the perennial bed between us and neighbor Mike. Not to be deterred, the girls just wandered up to the arborvitae hedge and scuttled through, back onto Jim's lawn. I shooed them back. Ten minutes later, I shooed them back again, this time all the way back to their run. They nonchalantly wandered in for a drink, and I swung the door shut for the afternoon. Clearly, additional fencing will be needed.

Late this afternoon, we (foolishly) decided to free the girls again while we were outside pouring a
concrete pedestal for a friend. In a flash the fiends were off to neighbor Mike's, around the far end of the new fence, threading their way underneath the beach plum. Dan and I both chased them back to the garden area, where they promptly hopped into the compost bins and settled in, blithely scratching away, settling onto the bin edge as though they'd been there all day.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Hostas in the sun

One of my pet gardening peeves are hostas planted in full sun. You've all seen it, I'm sure. I often see them planted alone and lonely (or even in a group of three) at one edge of the shade-free lawn, their leaves ratty and burned.

I understand that not everyone is as gardening obsessed as am I. Given the expense and work of planting a garden, though, you'd think folks might
pay a bit more attention to the plant label advising shade or sun.

A recent trangression occurred in my hometown in a newly planted memorial garden. The garden is planted in a bit of open space at the site of a former church (burned to the ground in days past) in the center of
town. It is a gorgeous spot for a rock garden --I can easily visualize a garden of rock cress, sea thrift, sedums, etc. Undulating up from the sidewalk rises a huge old granite ledge, emerging from the soil like a breaching whale. Every year the surrounding grass is brown and crispy by mid-July. Now the site boasts a new garden of tidily sited New Guinea Impatiens, surrounded by red-dyed shredded bark mulch. At one edge is a newly planted flowering crab, as yet casting no shade. I have yet to see anyone watering it, but I hope they are, although watering will no doubt only prolong the inevitable. At least this garden was planted by volunteers, well-meaning, but probably not trained horticulturalists.

On my recent garden tours, and at my recent visit to the Landis Arboretum in Esperance, New York, I saw lots of similar examples. The two photos were taken at the Landis Arboretum. Note in the above left photo the large hosta just a few plants away from the sun-loving Lamb's Ears.
In the photo to the right, that's another gorgeous large-leaved, blue-green with lime edge varigated hosta baking to the right of the fern-leaf coreopsis. Unfortunately, the blazing full sun made for poor photography, so the crisping leaves of the hostas don't show up well in the photos. This planting to me is particularly egregious, as the place is an arboretum with an educational mission --and yet they are demonstrating poor design practices in their primary perennial planting.

I see it so often, especially driving, that I've got a song -- to the tune of Riders On the Storm (with apologies to Jim Morrison and the Doors). I entertain myself on trips by making up new verses.

Hostas in the sun
Hostas in the sun
Not a raincloud in the sky
You know they're gonna fry
Hostas in the sun

Please gardeners, don't make me write any more verses. Plant your hostas in the shade, where they will reward you with years of big, beautiful leaves. Leaves which don't get burned and ratty until the frost.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Finally, it is finished!

Whoo hoo!! Yesterday, nearly a year after we began, we finished constructing our new deck. This was one of those unplanned homeowner projects that started out with a little chore. All we intended to do was replace some rotten siding on the barn, and move the gutter downspout.

Bagfuls of money and herculean effort later, we have a lovely new deck, replaced when we realized that rotten siding was just the tip of the whole rotten problem. Yesterday,
we finished the steps.

Of course, the steps would have been completed ages ago if we were 1) content with a plain square deck, and 2) not amateurs building our first deck, yet unwilling to have it look like our first deck. Nonetheless, it is done now, and looks great, even if I do say so myself. Now we just have to clean, sand and stain it. AFTER we pick out a stain color.

(And I have to extend the gravel landing pad and brickwork, but that's another story!)

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Georgetown Garden Tour

For those reading this blog from away, here's some news. It is hot and humid here, August weather in July, 90°F+ in the shade, and 70% or higher humidity. Ugh! To escape the heat and humidity, Saturday, we decided to head for the coast, and went to Georgetown for the Georgetown Conservation Commission's Garden Tour.

Georgetown is downriver from Richmond, at the end of the Kennebec and Sheepscot Rivers on the eastern side. As always, along the coast it was at least 20° cooler, with a lovely ocean breeze, and haze off the water making the sun seem less intense.

We toured 7 of the 10 gardens before we ran out of time. It was interesting, and we met some very nice people. The first garden we saw was the garden of a retired NJ man, who began gardening only about 5 years ago. He had some lovely garden beds in a spectacular setting, and clearly was really enjoying himself. He knew the plants, and was able to point out his favorites and his disappointments, like the deer-devoured hosta garden, eaten to the nub just days before the tour.

We also saw a lovely home set in the woods, where much of the gardening was really clearing away overgrowth and leaving desired plants. This garden featured lots of bayberry, sweet fern, native viburnums, and lowbush blueberry. There were a few cultivated garden beds, but my favorite feature was a tiny cast-concrete birdbath, set in the ground at the roots of a large tree, surrounded by blueberries, with a copper tubing dripper keeping it full of water.

The majority of gardens that we saw, though, were not gardens planned, planted and tended by avid gardeners, they were landscaping for the beautiful oceanside homes, most often planned, planted and maintained by a landscaping service. They were attractive, in that setting what wouldn't be, but they weren't the kind of
garden that someone loves and works on. They were more like art installations, there to accent the house, not unique collections of plants tended lovingly by the owner. I suspect many of the owners couln't name any of the plants in the gardens, although they were as a whole pretty common perennials, available at every nursery including the one at Home Depot.

For me, much of the joy in gardening lies in sharing and receiving plants from friends and family, and in
combining plants and laying out the garden, and watching it grow and change over time. Somehow, I don't think I'd really enjoy my garden if a landscape firm came in and did all the work, even if on the surface having someone else to do all the grunt work sounds fabulous.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Free Rangers

The chickens are very happy with the free-ranging lifestyle, perhaps even a bit too happy --this morning we had to shoo them back into our yard, they had wandered through the lilac hedge into the neighbors' yard.

They are developing a routine. Every morning,
shortly after I let them out, they make their way to the compost bins. Even though the fronts of our bins are closed, they fly up onto the bins, then hop down in for some scratching and snacking on whatever tasty morsels I've discarded, or any worms or bugs they find. From there, they do a perimeter sweep, going around the entire yard, venturing into the thickly planted borders of the lawn to see what they can find. They love scratching through the mulch around my newly planted shrubs, or the straw mulch in the vegetable garden.

During the hottest part of the day, they like to hide out in the blackberries. (Not many predators would venture into the blackberries to nab a chicken.) They lay down, wings spread out, cooling off in the shade. At one end of the patch, where we removed a huge rhubarb plant, they have created a spot for dust baths. After it cools a bit, time for more exploring, usually on they shady side of the yard.

Amazingly, every night they put themselves to bed in the coop, given the chance. We have discovered it is much easier to wait until they go in themselves than to try and herd them in -- Iris especially is headstrong and doesn't want to go to bed. Last night we looked out at about 8 pm, and they were all in their pen. By 8:15 they were in the coop roosting, all tuckered out from their day.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Cherry Tart

Still no photo posting on Blogger -- RATS! I have some great pics of the chickens free-ranging in the yard. Yes, since they escaped from Antonio, there has been no holding them back -- they are ready to roam, and roam they are -- this morning, 4 of them were IN the compost bins.

More on the chicks when I can post some pics. In the meantime, here's what we'll be eating soon -- A Rustic Cherry Tart. This recipe make a gorgeous and delicious summer dessert. I found the original recipe in a Martha Stewart Living magazine, but have modified it a bit over the years. I prefer it with my favorite butter pie crust recipe, but below is as close to the original as I can recall. We're having it tomorrow.

Rustic Cherry-Almond Tart
Makes 1 9-inch tart

1 sheet frozen puff pastry (17 1/4 oz.) thawed
5 T unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/3 c plus 4 t sugar
1/2 c blanched almond flour (I usually make my own unblanched in the food processor)
1 large whole egg
1/2 t pure almond extract
1 large egg yolk
1 T heavy cream
1 lb red cherries, stemmed and pitted

Heat oven to 425°. On lightly floured parchment paper, roll out puff pastry to 1/8” thick. Cut a 12 inch circle; roll the edges to form a 10” crust. Transfer the parchment paper and crust to a baking sheet and chill until firm, about 30 minutes.

In a bowl, mix the softened butter, 1/3 c sugar, almond flour, whole egg, and almond extract until well combined.

In a separate bowl, beat together the egg yolk and heavy cream. Prick the chilled crust all over with a fork. Brush the cream/yolk mixture on the surface and edges of the crust. Spread the almond mixture evenly over the crust, and chill for another 15 minutes.

Spread the cherries over the tart. Bake for 15 minutes. Sprinkle the remaining 4 teaspoons of sugar over the tart. Bake an additional 5-10 minutes until the crust edges are a deep golden brown. Serve warm or at room temperature.

I’ve made this tart several times. It works equally well using a traditional pie crust. I’ve also used peaches, peaches and raspberries, and blueberries. It never fails to impress.

ps. A cherry pitter is a nifty tool that will save you boatloads of time -- it works great for olives, too. Mine came from Williams Sonoma and I'd buy it again in a heartbeat -- I wish I could say that for some of the other gadgets cluttering my drawers.

Hypertufa Class

Our Hypertufa workshop yesterday was a success, despite the big thunderstorm that rolled through in the middle of measuring out the ingredients and mixing the tufa. I say this often, but I'll say it again, I love having a big barn!

Amid the thunder we quickly measured the ingredients into our mixing tray, and as the raindrops fell, began mixing. Once the mix was damp, we just dragged the tray into the barn and finished. Fortunately we had a small group so we were able to find workspace for everyone.

Unfortunately Blogger is having some technical problems and I am unable to post photos :-(. We all had a good time, though, and I tried out my new mold for planter feet for the deck planters. I got the molds from Garden Molds, which is an offshoot of MilkyWay Molds, a company that makes gorgeous molds for handcrafted soap. We will unmold things later today and report.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Favorite Summer Salad

We had my favorite summer salad tonight for dinner. Tender young lettuce and spinach from the garden, chopped fresh chives from the garden, sweet cherries, crumbled blue cheese, toasted walnuts, and maple-lime dressing. I love the combination of flavors.

The basic dressing recipe is equal parts of freshly squeezed lime juice, maple syrup, and olive oil, with salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Taste and adjust the acid balance, adding more lime if needed. I prefer my dressings on the tart side, and this salad often needs a bit more lime with the the sweetness of the fruit (tonight's dressing was too sweet but I was rushing).

This salad works equally well in the winter, with tart dried cranberries, cherries or apricots. It even works well with apple, although I have another spinach-apple salad I like in the winter months.

The cherries came from a roadside stand in New York, a gift from Dan's sister Louise, who probably didn't know at the time how crazy I am abut cherries! With luck, maybe my cherry trees will bear fruit this time next year.

The Taste of Summer... All Winter Long

In thinking about today's post, I realized that although red is not my favorite color, many of my favorite things are red. Crisp red apples, Maine lobster, ready to eat, shiny red convertibles (my fantasy car) and strawberries. This morning Dan and I went to Fairwinds Farm in Bowdoinham and picked 26 pounds of strawberries, destined for the freezer with a few reserved for fresh eating.

Although the season is coming to an end, we hope to go once more, for jam and freezing. Homemade strawberry jam on homemade bread in the depths of winter =YUM.

Once we are done with the berries, it will be back to painting the barn -- I ran out of paint yesterday, with all but a tiny corner finished. We'll need a second coat, unfortunately (make mental note, next time, tint the primer!)

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Happy Birthday, Sweetheart!

Today is Dan's and our friend Michelle's, (Happy Birthday, Michelle!) birthday. In honor of the day, I'm letting Dan sleep in, then we'll have breakfast cooked on the grill and coffee on the deck. We'll gaze admiringly at the new Adirondack style chairs I gave Dan for a birthday present, and enjoy the birds at the feeders and the chickens.

Later on, Bill and Michelle will join us for dinner cooked on the grill, and I'm making birthday cake (carrot, Dan's favorite) and I think Bill is bringing strawberry shortcake. Hey, birthdays come but once a year, celebrate, eat 2 desserts!
Happy Birthday, Dan. I love you and wish you many more happy birthdays --together with me, of course.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Painting Fools

With some clear weather on the horizon, we tackled 2 big projects -- staining the old deck and painting the barn. Antonio scraped the barn for us, but rain prevented him from doing any painting. We had power washed the deck before our NY trip, now it needed sanding and we had to select a stain color. The color selection proved to be the hardest part of the job.

While Dan sanded with the belt sander, I primed the barn wall, prepping for paint. I was a bit stiff from the long car ride, so I primed the lower half first, and left the ladder work to yesterday. I don't have a photo, but the priming is complete.

Meanwhile, Dan finished sanding and we had finally settled on a color -- Cabot Semi-transparent Deck Stain in Oracle Sun. It was a challenge to settle on that, but we thought it would look good with the yellow house and the green barn. When we got to the paint store, though, we saw an actual stain sample, and it was not a good color -- think Band-Aid, but a hair more
orange, yuk.

So, we looked at the available samples, and decided on Desert Sand. We got home, and opened the can -- it looked a bit funky, but we gave it a try. Two rows of decking in the back were enough to convince me, Desert Sand was NOT the color I wanted to be looking at for the next 3 years. It was very neutral in a not beige, not yellow, not cream, not tan sort of way. It just seemed to have no life to it. Blah. (We love color -- the interiors of our house are rich deep red, pine green, deep taupe
, deep amber pine paneling,etc.)

Back to the drawing board. After much discussion, we chose Forest Green, pretty much a 180 degree change. For some reason, this batch of stain went on much more smoothly, covering more transparently and the wood seemed to absorb it better -- who knows why. The end result? Well, it has life, and a lot of color. It is way more blue than the chip showed. I wouldn't choose this color again, but I can live with it for now.

This project has me running scared about selecting a stain color for our new deck. The only thing I can positively say is that the colors look nothing like the brochure samples or the wood samples in the store.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Home again

Ahh, home again. We had a great visit, and succeeded in surprising Mom with her new tuteur, but I am glad to be home, and the pets seem glad to have us back. Ocho (left) and Mercedes are not normally so friendly, but they are both eager to be near me while I'm at the Mac, so thus far are tolerating one another.

Antonio reported that the animal caretaking was successful, although the chickens managed to escap
e one day, through a loose section of fence. He said it was no problem catching them, and that 2 of the girls jumped right into his arms. Good chickens!

The NY weather was not ver
y cooperative -- it was very wet. We had a rain shower every day, and the gardens and basements statewide are soggy. (The week before we visited, a major section of NY state highway washed out, killing a Maine man.) I can't complain too much as we were able to get out and work in the yard a bit and we did manage to visit 2 nearby gardens. (More on that later)

Mom placed her new tuteur, and Dan and I purchased a Grandpa Ott's Morning Glory for it at a farmstand. In just this season she has done wonders with the front gardens -- despite the record rainfall.

In the back yard, we built Mom her new compost bins, and put up a new birdfeeder post. Inside, during the rainy spells, we framed in and insulated the air conditioner, and completed a few other house chores. We also had some good talks with Mom & Dad, visits with Dan's siblings, and I finally got to attend Dan's sister Kathy's famed July 4 party -- complete with roast lamb and enough fireworks to rival our official town fireworks! We didn't miss a thing.