Thursday, August 27, 2009

One big thank you and one wry observation (unrelated)

A sincere thank you to the generous folks of the downtown Saratoga Springs Borders bookstore who donated three large cartons of good coffee to the Blue Star Mothers yesterday. The BSMs will use the coffee in the goodie boxes our group sends to two 10th Mountain platoons from Fort Drum who are currently deployed in Afghanistan. We understand that good coffee is a popular commodity there, for soldiers who may have to be up and alert during times when mess halls may not be serving. So, again: Thank you, Borders folks.

What does this say about the New York Mets season: A few days ago, I was able to purchase a good quality Mets cap for $1.99 from my local Price Chopper grocery store. It was marked down from $19.00. My husband said, for that price, I should have bought the whole cart. I guess he's thinking next year can't possibly be this bad. But don't we always hope that? According to The New York Post, an estimated $88 million of the Mets' current payroll is going to players on the disabled list. Thus, caps for sale at 10 cents on the dollar.
Sorry, my children. I had no idea that raising you as Mets fans would turn out to be such a curse. No wonder son John has decamped to the Red Sox.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Amended post: Honoring those who served and those who have died

I seem to be spending a lot of time in Colonie lately. Last night, I attended the unveiling of the new veteran's memorial at The Crossings, a large and well-used park there. The Blue Star Mothers, some pictured here, were among the groups invited to lay a wreath.

Several of the Blue Star Mothers were back there today to meet with Times Union reporter Tim O'Brien. The TU will do a piece about the America Supports You Freedom Walk scheduled for September 11, also at The Crossings. Look for the article to run on Tuesday, September 8.

According to a Department of Defense press release:

The America Supports You Freedom Walk is a national tradition that calls on people to reflect on the lives lost on September 11, 2001, remember those who responded, honor our veterans past and present, and renew our commitment to freedom and the values of our country. Each year the number of walks held throughout the nation grows, as more people are moved to participate.

The tradition was born when Pentagon employees, seeking a way to honor the victims of the attack on the Pentagon and their families, and pay tribute to those who responded to that attack as well as those who serve, organized a walk from the Pentagon to the National Mall. Nearly 15,000 people took part. Now, America Supports You Freedom Walks are taking place in communities across the nation.

And while we are honoring those who have served, please read this from Fort Drum:

FORT DRUM, NY -- A 10th Mountain Division Soldier from Fort Drum was killed when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle Aug. 20 in Wardak Province, Afghanistan.

The Fort Drum Soldier killed is Spec. Justin R. Pellerin, 21, of Boscawen, N.H.

Spec. Pellerin served as an infantryman with the 2nd Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry). He deployed with the 3rd Brigade Combat Team in January in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

Spec. Pellerin joined the Army in June 2007 and arrived to Fort Drum in September 2007. He is survived by his wife, mother, and step-father.

Spec. Pellerin's awards and decorations include the National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, and NATO Medal.

New York State Flags will be flown at half-staff on Friday, Aug. 28 in honor of Spec. Pellerin.
Rest in peace, Spec. Pellerin.

Monday, August 24, 2009

A sobering summer

Today, I prepared and mailed a package to my beautiful daughter. She has a birthday coming up next week. On September 4, she will be 24 years old. I won't be able to call her on her birthday. She's not very easy to get a hold of these days because she is currently deployed in Afghanistan. When I do talk to my daughter, she cautions me about telling this to people. She tells me that she is in a relatively safe place.

She tells me: Don't mislead people. I'm not exactly dodging bullets on a daily basis.

And I think, but don't say: As if any place in Afghanistan is immune to rockets or other sorts of dangers these days...

I do understand her position, or at least I think I do. I think she doesn't want to take credit she feels more rightly goes to the soldiers who face daily dangers on patrols or in remote outposts. Fair enough.'re in Afghanistan, sweetie.

Tomorrow, Tuesday, August 25, 2009, flags on New York State government buildings will be flown at half-staff in honor of a Fort Drum soldier who was killed in Kunar Province, Afghanistan on August 20.
Private First Class Brian Wolverton of Oak Park, California, died when his quarters were hit by indirect fire. Pfc Brian Wolverton was assigned to 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team of the 10th Mountain Division.
Pfc Wolverton was 21 years old.
As regular readers of this blog may know, it bothers me that newspapers do not make more of an effort to publish the names of soldiers who are being honored by lowered flags. So here, on what I am embarrassed to say is usually a frivolous blog, I do what little I can. I write a young man's name. I pause to think of him. I say a prayer. I try to share what I can learn about him.

According to the Fort Drum website:

Pfc. Wolverton joined the Army in January 2009 and arrived to Fort Drum in June 2009. He is survived by his parents.

Pfc. Wolverton's awards and decorations include the Purple Heart, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, and Combat Infantryman Badge.

I did not know Pfc Wolverton. I do not know his parents. But oh how my heart goes out to them.

Tomorrow, when I see flags at half-staff here in upstate New York, I will think of this young man from California and his parents. I honor his service. I offer my sympathy to his parents.

Please think of him, too: Private First Class Brian M. Wolverton.
May he rest in peace.

There is already another Fort Drum soldier to write about tomorrow.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Rain Copakes Fallin' on my head

A Way to Garden is a blog I like to follow, so when I read that the author's garden would be part of the Hidden Gardens tour during Copake Falls Day on August 22, I was ready to go. Despite the rain, the HH* and I headed to a little corner of upstate New York that I had not been to before. At the north end of the Taconic Parkway in Columbia County, near where Massachusetts and Connecticut come together, there are some lovely small towns with farms and state forests intertwined. Nestled onto a hillside there is the home and garden of Margaret Roach, former garden editor and editorial director of Martha Stewart Living magazine. Ms. Roach's garden looked terrific, despite the date (anyone who has a garden knows that late August is not usually when one wants to show it off) and despite days of rain following a summer of rain. But in addition to her skill and energy, I think Ms. Roach's garden may hold up well because it has more of a foliage base than most home gardens. She has lots of specimen trees, shrubs, and tall grasses which are less prone to August blahs than traditional perennial borders.
Ms. Roach also had the advantage of starting from an awesome setting (charming old farmhouse, those mountain views...)
Talk about having a garden with good bones!
The garden rambles over a couple of acres and one detail I liked best were the many pairs of chairs set just so around the property. They look
very inviting for visitors and, I imagine, for the gardener herself who may want to sit for a minute while deciding what to tackle next.
There were several other Copake Falls gardens open for touring yesterday and I enjoyed those, as well. Here, in one attractive cottage garden in the village, a friendly goldfish seems to asking for a kiss.

And I liked this old pitcher set casually in a bird bath.
As for the rest of Copake Falls Day, the HH* also enjoyed the afternoon concert at St. John in the Wilderness Church. One "if you go" tip: Don't count on reconnecting with rambling spouse via cell phone. The coverage there is spotty, to say the least. We needed a back up plan and did not have one. You would think we are old enough to know better.
Click on photos to enlarge.
See more of my photos from Copake Falls at this Kodak gallery link. The first ones are all of Margaret Roach's garden. When you see a white garage and arbor, there begins photos of the six or so other gardens on the tour. See also A Way to Garden link for more and far superior photos by Margaret Roach herself.
*HH = Handsome Husband

Friday, August 21, 2009

The unveiling ceremony that wasn't...yet

The Town of Colonie was supposed to hold its unveiling ceremony at The Crossings tonight for their new veterans memorial. Alas, like so much else this summer, heavy rains caused the event to be postponed. Thinking the event was to be held "rain or shine", the HH* and I showed up anyway. But one look at this nearby picnic pavilion, now an island, and I could see the wisdom of postponing tonight's events.

HH and I were still able to admire the memorial. We both liked the words of dedication:
Erected and dedicated in memory of all who have served and to those who gave their lives in the service of our country in all her conflicts by the citizens of the Town of Colonie.

It was poignant to see how many folks had come tonight, despite the foul weather, to seek out the bricks engraved with the names of family and friends who have served in the military.

The good folks of Colonie will try again for the official unveiling on Tuesday night, Aug. 25, at 6:00 pm. Look for the Blue Star Mothers, who will be laying a wreath. Despite our name, we usually wear red shirts.

Click on photos to enlarge.
*HH= handsome husband.

Brother Jon's and Little Miss Muffet

Bee Balm Gal was in Oregon this past week visiting family and checking out a new restaurant.

My son was out front greeting guests and helping with orders when we arrived for our first dinner at Brother Jon's Public House in Bend, Oregon. I may not be an unbiased reviewer, but I thought our salmon dinners, the special that night, were excellent.
Handsome Husband liked the garlic mashed potatoes with a bit of peel left on and I enjoyed the asparagus that accompanied our salmon. All the food was fresh and cooked perfectly.
(That red pepper crab soup you can see on the menu board was awesome.)
The full crowd of mostly thirty-somethings seemed to be enjoying their evening, as well. Brother Jon's wants to be a family-friendly place and the number of small children and babies we saw there during our visit indicates that they have achieved that. So if you find yourself in central Oregon, check it out. Tell John his mother sent you.

As delightful as our dinner at Brother Jon's was, the real highlight of our visit was this Little Miss Muffet, posing so prettily on a "spider web" in the children's play area at The High Desert Museum in Bend. Grandchildren, I am discovering, are pretty darn terrific.

Click on photos to enlarge.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Bee Balm Gal and Handsome Husband (HH) are just back from a west coast visit with eldest son and his family. More about that soon.

I already have an eye on the weekend ahead. Rural Intelligence has a good promotion of Copake Falls Day, which summarizes nicely why I hope to be there:

But, for some of us, the best reason for attending Copake Falls Day is the Hidden Gardens Tour; particularly, the chance to see the garden of Margaret Roach. Former editor of Martha Stewart Living and for many years prior that publication’s gardening editor, Roach, who now edits a gardening blog, A Way to, has seen a lot of the best gardens in the U.S.. She has picked the brains of the people who created them so she could write about them, and all this rarefied know-how shows in her own plot of land. It’s not every gardener who dares to throw open her gate to visitors at the end of August. Either Roach is very generous, very brave, or she’s got August licked.
(Photo is from A Way to Garden)

My own garden is looking seriously neglected after a week away. I might better spend Saturday cleaning up my own space than ogling someone else's, but you know how that goes...

Thursday, August 13, 2009

In the Adirondacks, along the Ausable River

Yesterday, the Handsome Husband and I drove north to Keene Valley to visit relatives who were vacationing along the Ausable River.

As readers of yesterday's entry will know, I was in a sombre mood. Spending a peaceful day with good people in a beautiful place has helped restore some balance.

After lunch, we walked a bit, at a sedate pace so that the lovely but aging Molly-the-dog would not be too taxed.

This cool rainy summer has been wonderful for
wildflowers. We passed fields full of purple crown vetch.

Goldenrod and ferns thrive
where there are pockets of soil in the rock ledge.

Along the river, woodland sunflowers were in bloom.

Purple flowering raspberry flourished along the roadside.
The forever wild Adirondack Park is a special place and I feel very blessed to live so near to it.
But all is not peaceful in upstate New York these days.
Just west of where we were yesterday is Fort Drum. It is the home of the 10th Mountain Division (light infantry). Many of their soldiers are currently deployed in increasingly dangerous Afghanistan. According to information available at the Fort Drum website, twenty 10th Mountain soldiers have died this year.
This coming Monday in New York State, once more flags will be flown at half-staff. On August 17, 2009, they will honor another Fort Drum soldier, Specialist Matthew Swanson, who died at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland on August 8, 2009 after being injured in a vehicle rollover accident in Logar Province, Afghanistan on July 19th.

Specialist Matthew Swanson was from Lake Forest, California, and was assigned to the 3rd Brigade Special Troops Battalion of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team of the 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum.
Spc. Swanson was 20 years old.
May he rest in peace.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Meltdown on the Interstate

Bee Balm Gal usually writes about weighty matters such as herbaceous borders and dining out in Saratoga Springs. Not so much today.

My husband writes a blog, Planet Albany, which deals mostly with New York State government and politics. In this capacity, he receives press releases from the governor's office, among others.
So it was that this morning he shared with me (perhaps unwisely) this emailed press release:


Governor David A. Paterson has directed that flags on New York State government buildings be flown at half-staff on Friday, August 14, 2009, in honor of a Fort Drum soldier who died on August 7th in Wardak Province, Afghanistan.

Sergeant Jerry Evans of Eufaula, Alabama was killed when his vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum.

“All New Yorkers mourn the death of this soldier who died defending our country with honor and dignity,” said Governor Paterson. “We express our sympathy to the family, friends and fellow soldiers of Sgt. Evans. Although he was not from New York, we consider him and each of the 10th Mountain division Soldiers to be one of our own.”

Governor Paterson has directed the flags on all State buildings to be lowered to half-staff in tribute to the State’s service members who are killed in action.

I should say up front: I did not know Sergeant Jerry Evans, and I am not criticizing the governor.

My Capital Region Blue Star Mothers group has "adopted" some soldiers in the 10th Mountain division from Fort Drum, but as far as I know, Sergeant Evans was not among them. But because we have connected with other Fort Drum soldiers, this hit me.

Later this morning, Bob and I set off for a planned visit with his cousin and her husband who are vacationing in the Adirondacks. Somewhere near Schroon Lake on Interstate 87 (hereabouts called the Northway) we pulled into a rest area. As I was getting out of the car, I spied the NYS and US flags flying at half-staff and choked up. All I could think was: Bob and I may be the only people who will see these flags today who will know the name of the soldier they are honoring.

Then came the meltdown. I started to cry and said something like: A young man has lost his life serving his country. A family has lost a son. And he gets an anonymous half-staff flag at a Northway rest stop.

I know there will be more than that for Sergeant Evans, but I was emotional.

Today I learned that a fellow BSM* has been asking an Albany newspaper, the Times Union, to publish the names of soldiers who are being honored when flags are lowered. But so far, she has not been able to convince them to do so.

She writes: A person might drive by a state building or school, notice the flag has been lowered, and not know why. I think it's very important to let people know why.

I agree with her.
So for any reader who has made it this far, let me tell you what the Fort Drum website has to say about Sergeant Evans:

Sgt. Evans joined the Army in June 2005 and came to Fort Drum in December 2005. He is survived by his wife and parents.

Sgt. Evans awards and decorations include two Purple Hearts, Army Commendation Medal w/distinguishing device for Valor, Army Commendation Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, the NATO Medal, and Combat Infantryman Badge.

Sergeant Jerry Evans was 23 when he died.

Rest in peace, Sergeant Jerry Evans. My heart goes out to your wife and parents. I wish they could know that there are people in upstate New York today who know your name, who honor your service, and who mourn your loss.

*BSM = Blue Star Mother

Sunday, August 9, 2009

An Adirondack wedding

Yesterday was picture perfect for an outdoor Adirondack wedding.
Sunshine and sunflowers were in abundance.
Bridesmaids carried three or four unadorned stalks of sunflowers which were set off beautifully against their deep blue dresses.

The gorgeous bride carried a simple bouquet of smaller sunflowers and white roses. Here, she is escorted by her proud and happy papa.

The wedding had a Scottish theme complete with a piper and kilts for the groom and his attendants.Toward to end of the ceremony, the groom's mother performed the "pinning of the tartan". She presented the bride with a tartan
sash and fastened it with a clan pin.

The happy but weary couple near the end of their reception...
Best wishes for a happily-ever-after life together,
Dan and Allypops!

Click on photos to enlarge.

Friday, August 7, 2009

24 hours of a daylily

7:00 pm Thursday, August 6, 2009

7:00 am Friday, August 7, 2009

3:00 pm Friday.

4:00 pm Friday


7:00 pm Friday.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Fully Phloxed

While much of my garden either has the August blahs or is struggling to recover from the ceaseless rains of July, suddenly we have phlox to admire. Here, along with some eponymous bee balm, is the glowing color and sweet scent of summer phlox in abundance.

I think this one, on the left, may be "Bright Eyes". It was planted by the previous home owner (who had a penchant for purple) so I don't know for sure.
We also have this one, variety unknown.

This evening, there was a good deal of action going on here if one watched quietly from the deck. A chipmunk appeared, leaped up and quietly drank from the bird bath. A hummingbird visited the bee balm. A rose-breasted grosbeak came to the feeder.

And I need a better camera to capture it all.

Click on photos for a closer look.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Garden Junque

The rusty cast iron table base that I found at a barn sale on Saturday has a new home. Flipped over from its intended design, it makes a sturdy base for my earthenware water feature, which had not found just the right spot in the garden.
One year, when I set it on some low
bricks, in among perennials, a snake made a home there.
I wasn't too happy about that.
When I relocated the fountain, chipmunks moved in.

In this new spot, a morning glory is already reaching out to the base. Won't that look pretty as the vines climb up?

The other cast iron piece I bought looks pretty good as a plant holder. The back of our yard drops away into a woody ravine. I haven't gotten around to doing much with that area yet, so this piece adds a little color there. The begonias were a gift from my sister, intended to be a hanging basket. I think they rather glow in this shady spot.
Thank you, Mary.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The eye of the beholder

One of my many guilty pleasures is shopping at garage sales and thrift shops. I even confess to having, on occasion, picked up discarded treasures from the side of the road. I'd probably do that more often but it feels a tad embarrassing.
This past Saturday's garage sale haul is pictured here. Click to enlarge photos. To some eyes, it doesn't look too promising. But stick with me while I try out various ideas for repurposing these goodies.
Let me tell you what's here:
We have, on the left (upside down in this photo) an old cast iron stand for a hot water heater, or so the seller told me. Next to that is a rusty cast iron table base.
On the white towel are five red painted cast iron animal shapes, handmade. Their original purpose was to be used for target practice. The seller had a whole box of these, some used, complete with bullet holes, and some like mine apparently unused.
The three nesting mixing bowls were in perfect condition and
a good deal. They look unused, are dishwasher and microwave safe and come from Williams-Sonoma. A similar set of seven bowls on the Williams-Sonoma web site costs $159 before tax and shipping, or about $23 a piece. I paid just $5 for this set of three.
Maybe our army bride would like them when she returns from deployment and begins to set up housekeeping with her HH*.
I have some ideas as to how I will use the table base and stand in my garden. Not too sure what I'll do with the animal targets, but I couldn't pass them up. The thing is, they are heavy and not very stable when just propped on a shelf or mantle. Any thoughts?
To be continued...
*As always, HH =handsome husband.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Raining cats and dogs and birds, oh my!

For those of you in far off dry places, this is what we've been dealing with in the northeast all summer. On Sunday afternoon it just poured unrelentingly.

During the worst of it, a very bedraggled sparrow sat on my front porch rocking chair looking quite discouraged.
The photo isn't very good because I didn't want to get too close and risk driving the poor fellow back out into the elements. But you get the idea.

Today, the sun finally shone and HH* was able to get the back yard mowed. I spent a bit of time rescuing drowning deck plants and propping up floundering phlox. Real down-on-my-knees weeding needs to be done but it was way too buggy to endure much of that. Maybe our visiting sparrow is hungry for lots of yummy mosquitoes...

One of my own little chicks, off serving her country in Afghanistan, was hoping for a yummy treat, too. And since it was too buggy for yard work, I did just happen to find time today to bake and mail off what she'd requested: a loaf of banana bread, made from her late grandmother's recipe. Wish I could mail you some rain, too, my sweet!

*HH = Handsome Husband

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Chaim in a bottle?

"Remembering the Shtetl" is an exhibit of original works by Chaim Goldberg currently on view at the National Bottle Museum in Ballston Spa. It will be there through the end of August. Click on the Art Gallery link on their web site for information and to see more examples of the art.
Most of the thirty or so works are for sale, at prices ranging from $600 to $4500.

Our visit to the Bottle Museum yesterday was my first. The upstairs gallery is a pleasant space and the Goldberg exhibit was moving, especially when explained by the charming and knowledgeable
executive director, Jan Rutland.
Downstairs, many of the pieces in the glass bottle collections are beautiful or culturally revealing. I liked the charm of the antique glass candy containers, all designed to appeal to children. That collection shows a myriad of diminutive animal shapes and doll-sized household items like telephones and irons. (Would children today pine for a toy iron?)
The museum is not large and can easily be "done" in 30 to 40 minutes. If you come to Ballston Spa, stop for excellent tea and more at The Whistling Kettle or browse in the antique shops or at Genevieve's .