Sunday, February 26, 2006

Imported Beer

Last night, Steve ordered a Samual Adams beer, which made me giggle. (OK, maybe it was the Lemon Drop that made me giggle.) About a month ago, we delivered the boys to a church retreat and then scoured the countryside for a place to eat. We found it. Coody Browns. The food was actually tasty and we enjoyed looking over the frozen lake. However, when Steve was looking at their list of imported beers, he discovered that they imported Sam Adams...all the way from Boston.

Evening Out

Last night my husband invited me to dinner and the theater. Now this was quite a shock since his idea of a hot night out is a campfire by the river. We dressed to the nines and had an enjoyable dinner. And then headed for a production by the local college.

It.was.awful. Shakespeare done as bawdy slapstick. It might have worked, but it just wasn't funny. During the first act, I peeked at Steve and the expression on his face was of pure pain. So at intermission, when I stood, picked up my coat and purse and headed out, he knew exactly what was happening. We laughed more at how bad it was than at the show itself.

My only disappointment is that he will be reluctant to suggest another such evening.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Here's the last photo of the series. We're getting serious now about our work. Look how I'm holding my hand, waiting for the precious seeds. Posted by Picasa

This photo was attached to the previous photo. I'm too absorbed to take notice of the camera, but Mom smiled for her husband, probably wondering why he was taking her picture when she was in her work clothes. She just had her third baby when this photo was taken. Note the pretty dress I am wearing to work in the garden...and no shoes. As I child, I tried to avoid shoes as much as possible. That's the neighbor's house, laundry and shed behind us. I'd like to restore these prints before they totally fade away.  Posted by Picasa

As we sorted through Mom's photos, I found this one. Yes, it is Earth Girl (not Earth Matron!) I am three years old and planting the garden. The photo is in bad shape, but there is something about it I love.  Posted by Picasa

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Spring Rituals

I went to the site (Gene Stratton Porter's Home in the Wildflower Woods) today and spent most of the day with my fellow gardener ordering seeds and plants. Now they have to find funding for the requests. We ordered a lot of seeds. Even if the germination rate is low and it takes a year or more for them to catch up with bare root plants, the cost is much lower. I know we ordered too much for the two of us plant, given that we still have spring clean-up and weeding to do. I really do need to spend some time developing a volunteer program for the garden.

Weigh In 3

Mom lost 1 more pound and son lost 3 for a total of 8 and 15 respectively. Son is on a weekend show choir trip, which will be a challenge for him. My sleepover at a friend's lake cottage should be easier since most of us are on similar eating programs. The big discussion was whether wine would be empty calories or an essential food. You can guess our conclusion.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006


Lucy asked about my favorite garden catalogs. The two catalogs I peruse most carefully, dream over, and absolutely love are White Flower Farm and Wayside Gardens. However, I rarely order from them because of the cost. I prefer to buy plants locally grown as they have less transplant shock and are acclimated to our heavy clay soil. Actually, I really prefer to get starts from my gardening friends! I'm ordering seeds from Select Seeds this year and will let you know what I think.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006


Oh yes, I have a label now - Crunchy Con. It's amazing how well it fits. My left-leaning friends are surprised at my conservatism and my right-leaning friends are surprised at my crunchiness.

This unusual plant is the amaranthus or Love-Lies-Bleeding from the site garden last fall. I bought a packet of seeds to plant some more this year. Posted by Picasa


Usually I propagate by root division. It's easy and dependable. Last year, though, I had incredible luck starting plants from seed. No damping-off as in the past. So this year I am a sucker for the seed packets that are sprouting up in all the stores.

So far I purchased apricot colored foxglove which I think I'll plant near the apricot colored mullein I purchased last year. The two packets of rock soapwort (saponaria) are for the rock garden at the site. The cerastium (snow-in-summer) are also for the site as an edging to the daylily bed and the Blue Mink Ageratum is to edge the site's blue bed. The moss rose will go somewhere. The Heavenly Blue morning glories will be planted around the bay window as we loved the effect last year. Since I bought two packets of the morning glories, I think I'll plant some along the split rail fence at the front of our property. I also bought a bush-type morning glory which may go into pots or as an edging. The two types of nasturtiums are for the site since they did so well last year. I bought the annual buttercup daisy (sundrops) because the white and yellow flowers looked so charming. I'm sure I'll find a place for them. Two packets of delphinium Giant Pacific Blue Bird are also for the site. The two packets of verbena are for my container gardens. Bells of Ireland were an impulse purchase because my mother grew them when I was young. The unusual colored columbine (William Guinness) will probably go in the purple bed at the site, with seeds collected next summer for my garden. We had two amaranthus (Love-Lies-Bleeding) self-seed at the site and I bought another packet to supplement them. These were truly eye-catching. Three different types of sunflowers will look lovely in the butterfly garden at the site. Finally, a nod to cuisine - a packet of sweet basil. We are still enjoying the basil I harvested last year.

These are my seed contributions to the site, but I'm also scouring catalogues for plants to purchase. We have several rather empty beds in the garden and I'm trying to find the plants that were originally planted in the garden to start restoring the garden to historical accuracy.

Advanced Master and Master Wannabe

I just got my new Master Gardener badge and discovered that I am now an Advanced Master Gardener.

Tonight I attend orientation for the Master Naturalists program. I am so looking forward to these classes, which are 3 to 4 hours each, taught by "names" in regional naturalist circles:
Geology: Dr. Jack Sunderman, Geologist
Birds: Dr. Jim Haw, Birder
Insects: Dr. David Miller, Entomologist
Forest Ecology: Dr. Jim Tobolski
Wetlands: Tim Skiver, Wetland Biologist
Critters: Chris Barlow, Naturalist
Wildflowers: Doug Rood, Naturalist
Trees: Ricky Kemery, Purdue University

Thursday, February 16, 2006


I received an email from Karen at Rurality letting me know that I am on page 77 of Blogosphere: Best of Blogs under Garden Diaries! I'm totally floored, and this isn't something like Who's Who where you have to pay to have your name entered. Now I feel compelled to post something about my here's a picture of snowdrops blooming in January, about 6 to 8 weeks before I usually see them. Of course, I'm pretending this is in my garden, but it is in an out-of-the-way place where I put vegetative matter that is too rough for the compost pile.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

No Matter How He Speaks, My Knees Grow Weak

My husband speaks all five languages of love.

Words of Affirmation
The other night, Steve came in the room and shared that he was reading about the different aspects of intelligence. He determined that I was gifted in at least 4 areas and perhaps in the other two. He never fails to proclaim his love for me daily, usually with three simple words, "I love you," sometimes with one word, "luvsya," and, at other times, with a full poetic expression of his love. He even renamed a constellation for me; Orion's Belt is known as Martha's Crown in our house.

Acts of Service
What an incredible feeling to come home and find the floors mopped, the table set and dinner started. Sometimes he tells me to go back to sleep and he will handle the morning chores. And I can't begin to describe the work he does on our three properties. He's also teaching our sons to speak this language of love.

Receiving Gifts
I don't need diamonds to know he loves me. His gifts are sweet and thoughtful. Last week while shopping with him, I remarked how much I love hyacinths in the house as a foretaste (or is it a foresmell) of spring. We drove separate cars to church Sunday and when I came home, two decorated paper bags were on the dining room table. Inside were three pots of hyacinths. Not only did he listen, but he remembered that this was something that would please me.

Quality Time
He will grab my hand with a "join me" for an evening walk. We walk, we hold hands, we talk. Rarely are these talks utilitarian, about the running of our daily lives. Sometimes we dream. Sometimes we play silly word games. Sometimes we share our observations about the wooded area we walk. Sometimes we talk about the books we're reading. Sometimes we solve the world's problems. This is the time I often tell him stories from the blogs I've read and he tells me stories from school. Sometimes we walk in companionable silence. After 14 years of marriage, our pure delight in each other's company continues to grow.

Physical Touch
And then my knees really grow weak.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Trouble with the concept or the words?

My sister, her daughter and I are giving a baby shower for her other daughter, so my sister invited all of us to her house to plan it. As usual, she invited everyone's family to dinner as part of the planning process. My sister's five-year-old wickedly clever granddaughter volunteered to say grace, then said the Lord's Prayer perfectly...well, almost. Every "thy" was "my" as in: Hallowed be my name. My kingdom come. My will be done..."

The showeree, who professes to hate shower games, suggested a few games for her shower. Diapering a baby doll, even blindfolded, is too tame for her; she wants us to play "Diaper the Cat." After much laughter, she proceeded to try to demonstrate it on the cat. The cat won. Her suggestions for refreshments were as bizarre. Does anyone know how to mold a jello uterus?

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Food! Glorious Food!

Every week, it seems, I hear of a friend's success with The South Beach Diet. Weight loss. Cholesterol improvements. World Peace. Since I've carried my excess middle-age weight for far too long and I have a son who has steadily gained weight since 7th grade, I had to check it out. The plan seemed reasonable, so a week ago I started on the two-week restrictive phase one and Ron, as a teenager with a need for dairy and fruit, started on phase two.

This post is about food, not the lack of food. My whole family has raved about the meals I've prepared this last week. Some of our favorites are Grilled Salmon with Rosemary, Orange Roughy in Scallion and Ginger Sauce (which tonight I put on chicken breasts), Savory Chicken Saute, Roasted Eggplant and Peppers, Dilled Shrimp Salad, Spinach Frittata with Tomato Salsa, and Vegetable Quiche Cups To Go. Steve and I liked the Gazpacho, but the boys didn't. The boys liked the Surprise Mashed "Potatoes" (cauliflower) but Steve and I didn't. The flavored Ricotta Cremes are marginal. These recipes are all from the book.

I've spent more time in the kitchen (planning, cooking, cleaning-up) and the grocery bill has jumped a bit, but don't these meals sound delicious? And here's the bottom line:
Mom - five pounds
Ron - ten pounds
And it even took Ron a few days to figure out he shouldn't buy a corn dog or nachos and cheese at school. He also attended a Super Bowl party, but he took some string cheese as a snack and only had one piece of pizza.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Morning Visitors

When I visited Judy, I would drink my morning coffee in her pool room (or whatever is the proper term for the covered pool, spa, outdoor area attached to almost every house in Florida). Joining me would be this pair of sandhill cranes. They would fly in, making this amazing sound.
Sandhill Cranes have a variety of vocalizations, the most common of which is generally described as a repeated series of trumpeting “garoo-a-a-a” calls that can be heard for over a mile. One of the reasons for this remarkably loud and penetrating call is an unusual windpipe. In most birds the trachea passes directly from the throat to the lungs, but in Sandhills it is elongated by forming a single loop which fills a cavity in the sternum. It is not surprising that the louder and more harmonic Whooping Crane has a longer trachea with a double loop.
Sandhill cranes fly over our home in Indiana during migration and their call brings the whole family outdoors.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Judy and friend in front of cigar store in Ybor City. Posted by Picasa

Sponge boat in Tarpon Springs, Florida Posted by Picasa

Closer shot of the sponges hanging from the boat in Tarpon Springs. Posted by Picasa


Where is America's #1 rated beach for 2005? About an hour from my friend's house and that is where we went on Sunday. I understand why it was named #1. Judy said that the people in the water must be from Maine. After a long beach walk, with my pockets full of shells, we drove along the beach and saw young (strong) men kite surfing. The wind was gusting 20 to 30 mph and they had to work the very large kites with both arms to keep them up while staying on the small surfboards. My pictures did not capture the beauty, grace and daring of this activity.

After crusing by the art district, the aquarium, the wharfs and other sites, we met Marty for dinner in Ybor City. We went to the historic Columbia Spanish restaurant for dinner. I've had mixed experiences with historic restaurants, but this one did not disappoint. I had Ropa Vieja, literally translated as "old clothes." Absolutely delicious. Ybor City was where most of America's Cuban cigars were made until 1963. There were a few stores where they were still rolling cigars. It reminded me, in atmosphere, of the French Quarter. Once again, I knew I wasn't in Indiana.

The trip ended way too soon. I know Judy's thinking: give me the whirlwind tour to whet my appetite and I will be come back often.

I think her plan worked.

Sanguine Saturday

I like the sound of the title, but I wonder if a day can be cheerfully confident? Perhaps Saturday was the ruddy color associated with the outdoor life in Florida. We started with a driving tour of Cheval, the gated community in which she lives, whose houses must be built according to "Florida" architecture, with nary a frame house in view. We ended up at Lettuce Lake Park for a long stroll along the boardwalk through the swamps. It was a beautiful day, warm and sunny. I took a lot of pictures but am only sharing a few: egret, ibis and a black-crowned night heron, the Hillsborough River closer to its mouth (compare it to Friday night's picture), and cypress knees.

Then we drove toward the beach, but ended up in Tarpon Springs, the sponge capital of the world. It is touristy but still functioning as a working center for the sponge boats and it has retained its delightful Greek flavor. Speaking of Greek flavors, we enjoyed a pastry in a Greek bakery before heading to the beach to watch the sun set. Alas, the gates closed just as we got there. Back home and then out to dinner at a wonderful fish restaurant where I had my first Lemon Drop and fresh Florida snapper. Home again for another late night of just talking. By now we had about fifty half-finished conversations that we had to complete.

Friday in Florida

I didn't take too many pictures on Friday evening. First we visited Judy's corner office, which is on the umpteenth floor with floor-to-ceiling windows on two sides and even a balcony. And then she took me to the University of Tampa, with its odd, but garish, combination of Moorish and Victorian architecture. The Hillsborough River runs by the campus. Compare this picture of the concrete channel river with the picture of it running wild and free I took the next day. We then went to South Tampa for dinner. We were going to eat at her favorite Italian restaurant in old South Tampa, but then we got a call from her husband who had just been released from the emergency room. So we grabbed a quick bite at Ciccio and Tony's (I'm no longer in Indiana) where one of Marty's students drove him. Judy and I talked late into the night, but she had a short night as she had to take her husband back to the ER in the wee hours of the morning. I think he's OK now.

Tampa Trip

Just a week ago I was eating dinner in Ybor City (first picture). Today I shoveled snow. I had such a good time in Tampa. I'm posting some pictures but since I can't seem to format text and pictures in Blogger, you may have to guess on some. (I think I may make this several posts.)

I drove to Indy and left my car at my niece's house where my brother was watching his granddaughter for the weekend, so the next pictures are of Aimee holding Sophia and John with Sophia.