Sunday, June 27, 2010

Happy Anniversary to Brother Jon's Public House in Bend, Oregon!

To the bartender most people look up to,

Congratulations on your one year anniversary! May your business continue to grow and thrive. May Brother Jon's always be the family-friendly neighborhood place for great food and cold beer.

With lots of love from your proud mom.

If you're in central Oregon today, stop in and say hello to the good folks at Brother Jon's. Tell the tall guy that his mother sent you.

Brother Jon's Public House
1227 Northwest Galveston Avenue, Bend, OR 97701
(541) 306-3321

Saturday, June 26, 2010

A summer Saturday, right up my alley

Gardens and antiques may not make everyone's heart go pittypat but I sure do enjoying looking at both.
Thus, I headed out to the Schenectady Stockade bright and early today to check out their Secret Garden Tour. This interesting historic urban neighborhood offers lots of good things to look at. The tour itself was well-organized and definitely worth the trip.

The top two photos are of an Asian-themed garden that was cheerful and inviting. I admired the red table umbrella and the many small touches and surprises among the plants.

Another garden, below, had a shabby chic theme that had me thinking about tea and muffins.

All of the gardens in the Stockade are small by suburban standards but each managed to provide a quiet, relaxing space with privacy.

The garden below (next two pictures) packed a visual punch with bright red and yellow, yet it felt calming and welcoming.

This pretty house, below...

...with its interesting history...

...has an inviting entrance to its garden.

The garden has a circular shape which was echoed in the decorations, like this piece of industrial something-or-other.

The cheerful owner of this last garden, below, was out talking about how her friend had designed it for her. The owner, who has some physical limitations, wanted vivid color she could enjoy from her porch and raised beds for easier access. (Her cat, however, didn't seem to be enjoying all the fuss.)

Much of the garden is in these two bright colors and somehow it all works.

Several other gardens were on the tour today, all of them lovely, and I look forward to going again next year.

For some years, the Handsome Husband has wistfully talked about moving to the Stockade. Although it presents the usual challenges of urban living (parking and snow removal are issues) and has a tendency to flood in the spring (it is located on the banks of the Mohawk River) I concede that it is a very charming neighborhood.

On the way home from Schenectady, I swung by the Round Lake Antiques Festival. Round Lake is yet another appealing historic community and this festival always seems to be well-attended.

I checked out some (real) vintage garden accessories as well as...

... some fake ones. I wouldn't mind the faux vintage stuff, but when the show is billed as an antiques festival, I think the fakes should be clearly labeled as reproductions.

I noticed that a lot of dealers were featuring vintage sewing and needlecraft items this year. Perhaps the poor economy is inspiring renewed interest in mending.

I thought about buying these three oars, just as they were displayed. They would, I think, make a charming garden support for sweet peas or morning glories. If I owned a lakeside cottage, they would have come home with me, for sure.

But I was abstemious and bought nothing at all this day. It seems sensible to make better use of the *stuff* I already own before adding anything new.

What garden treasures did you find this weekend?


Friday, June 25, 2010

My children's garden

Ah, the school year is over and my summer has officially begun (insert contented sigh here).

After a brief morning gathering at work, we were set free until whenever our guilt/restlessness/professionalism draws us back to prepare for the next school year. For some, that will be next week. For others, it won't be until the absolute last moment allowed by our contract. I hope to be somewhere in the middle on this timeline.

Today's weather is perfect for late June, so I have begun weeding and snipping, trying to salvage my garden from weeks of neglect. When I went inside for a drink of water, my little neighbor, above, decided to have her lunch on the front step. She is eating fruit from the ornamental crab apple that grows near our porch.

For many years I have planted a small garden or patio pots in honor of my three children: Johnny jump-ups, Mary-golds, and Tom-atoes. But our family has grown and I am struggling to come up with plants for all of the spouses and grandchildren. Granddaughter Marjorie Sage was easy: a pot of the herbs sweet marjoram and purple sage. Her pretty mother, my daughter-in-law, Kristin, was more of a challenge. Some time ago I bought a daylily whose cultivar name was Kristen something (different spelling) but I've now forgotten exactly which daylily that was. I think I need to start over. Is Kristin-santhemum too much of a reach?

And now we have son-in-law, Jason, and his daughter, Alexia, called Lexi.
A pot of leeks(ia) perhaps?

A Google search helped me find Jasione perennis 'Blue Light' (common name, Sheep's Bit) but this would require too much explaining, I think. So I will keep pondering as I weed.

I hope that in the future my children will get their priorities straight.

Note to Tom, my still single youngest child: Please only date girls with names like Iris or Lily.

Note to the two married couples: Rose or Sweet William are nice names, don't you think, for any future bambinos?


Monday, June 21, 2010

Bringing him home

They brought Ben Osborne home today.

Not the way anyone wanted.

The community has done all it can think of to honor his service, honor his sacrifice, and support his family.
When his hearse passed by our high school this morning, it stopped while taps was played.
It took 15 minutes for the full procession to pass by: the family and friends, the sheriffs, the firemen, the military escort, the Patriot Riders.
The official DOD press release reads:
Spc. Benjamin D. Osborn, 27, of Queensbury, N.Y., died June 15 in Shigalwashheltan district, Konar, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained when insurgents attacked his unit using small arms and rocket-propelled grenade fires. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, Ky.
What it doesn't tell you is that Ben leaves a young wife of 5 months, his parents, three older brothers, one sister, and many friends.

Lake George High School is retiring Ben's former football jersey number, number 40.
Ben will be buried on Thursday with full military honors.

Rest in peace, Ben.

You can find television coverage of Ben's homecoming here and one of many newspaper stories here.
Photo credits: The Post-Star, Glens Falls, NY

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Happy Father's Day!

Happy Father's Day to Bob and...

John and..



Today's weather

Weather for Kandahar, Afghanistan
Today, Saturday, June 19, 2010
Current: Clear
Wind: W at 8 mph
Humidity: 6%

Sunday: High 104°F Low 78°F

Monday: 107°F - 80°F

Tuesday: 105°F - 78°F

Keep hydrated, my dears.


Sunday, June 13, 2010

Geography lesson

Until fairly recently, I couldn't have told you anything at all about Kyrgyzstan, not that I know an awful lot now. But the ethnic riots currently moving through that country have me a bit on edge. It seems that roving mobs of Kyrgyz men are attacking minority Uzbek communities, burning homes, businesses, and a university. Dozens of people have been killed and 1,000 have been injured.This Associated Press photo, at right, shows Uzbek women and children trying to seek refuge in neighboring Uzbekistan.

Until recently, I might have made snarky comments about how the real photo, at the top, looks uncannily similar to the fake war photo, above, from Wag the Dog. But the unrest in this part of the world is not fake and I find it worrisome.
Both the U.S. and Russia have military bases in Kyrgyzstan, although they are in the north, not near the current riots.
According to the Associated Press, "...the U.S. Manas air base in the capital, Bishkek, is a crucial supply hub for the coalition fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan."
And that U.S. base is why I now take notice of news about Kyrgyzstan. As I wrote here earlier, with a daughter and son-in-law in the army, I care a lot more about the geography and politics of Central Asia and the Middle East than I used to.
Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan... I can find them all on a map now. Let's hope they can find a way to keep the peace.

Photo credits: Associated Press (D. Dalton Bennett) and the film, Wag the Dog.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Unspeakable act

Be warned: this is a disturbing story.

According to The New York Times, the Taliban have been stepping up their tactic of assassination of government officials as a method of undermining coalition attempts to build up the Afghan government.

The Times story states:

"Some of the victims have only the slimmest connections to the authorities. The most egregious example came Wednesday in Helmand Province, where according to Afghan officials the insurgents executed a 7-year-old boy as an informant. "

The story continues:

"...Taliban insurgents went to his village and dragged the boy from his home at 10:30 in the morning, accusing him of acting as a government informant by telling the authorities of their movements. They killed him by hanging him from a tree in the middle of the village..."

Earlier tonight, I had read in this story from Fox News that Defense Secretary Gates, speaking to reporters in London today ... suggested that winning the war will have to include reconciliation with at least some elements of the Taliban.
"At this point the Taliban are part of the political fabric of Afghanistan, and to adopt a strategy that basically says we're going to eliminate the Taliban I think is unrealistic," Gates said.

Some elements of the Taliban hung a 7-year-old boy on the same day that Gates made this statement.

The boy was identified only as "the grandson of a farmer named Qodos Khan Alokozy, from the village of Herati in the Sangin District of Helmand Province."
Honestly, how do you reconcile with such people?

What is the answer?

Credit here for the photo of children in Helmand Province.


Proud Mom, Brave Girl

Over the weekend, the Handsome Husband and I dashed down to Fort Campbell, Kentucky, to say farewell to our fair daughter. Very soon, she will leave for her second deployment to Afghanistan. Her own handsome husband is already there, having departed on Memorial Day for his second deployment.

Brave Girl tells me that the scene on base for her husband's departure was quite poignant. He is with a medical unit, which has a higher than average number of female soldiers compared to other combat units. Standing around the bus were many young husbands, holding babies or small children.

The looks on their faces, Brave Girl said, were as if they were thinking, "How is it that I am standing here holding the baby, watching my wife go off to war? It should be me going."

"Tell me about it," her own father said.

The Taliban are not nice people.
They weren't good to their own countrymen and women.
Under the Taliban in Afghanistan, girls were not permitted to attend schools.
Women were rarely permitted to venture out of their homes.

A RAND analyst wrote, "Afghan women face a horrifying array of restrictions, among the most repressive in the world."

The Taliban punished theft by amputating a hand.
Accused adulterers were stoned to death.

The Taliban destroyed hundreds of cultural artifacts, the holdings of major museums and private art collections.
They blew up the great Buddha statues in the city of Bamiyan which had stood there for nearly 2,000 years.

The Taliban lashed anyone caught drinking liquor but allowed the opium poppy trade to flourish.

I hope that my brave daughter, her husband, and their fellow soldiers do their jobs well.

I hope that one day soon, schools in Afghanistan will be rebuilt and that the young girls can go there without fear.

Brave Girl thinks this is something worth fighting for.


Thursday, June 3, 2010


I saw my first fireflies of the season tonight. I strolled out onto the back deck with the dogs and in the flower garden, the soft flickering lights moved gently about.

Summer has arrived.

Image credit here.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

It's a hell of a town (New York, New York)

There was, unintentionally, a devilish theme to our Memorial Day weekend in New York City.

It all began with a desire for a change of scene. The Handsome Husband had booked tickets to The Screwtape Letters, an adaptation of a C. S. Lewis book and there was certainly devilry there.
When we arrived in town on Saturday, we headed down to the Union Square area to check out The Strand, the famous used book store. Alas, I was feeling a bit woozy and dehydrated so we did not linger there nearly long enough to suit the HH*. However, he was very gracious and solicitous, buying cold drinks and finding us a cool place to sit. From this little rose garden we watched the comings and goings around Union Square.
After an early dinner, we saw The Forest, starring Dianne Wiest. The theatre was quite small and we had front row, floor level seats. Much of the action took place inches from us and we couldn't stretch out our legs for fear of tripping the actors. Really. As for the play, think: Chekhov, with a sense of humor.

On Sunday morning, the HH went to mass while I went to hell - Hell's Kitchen, that is, to check out the weekend flea market. (The inflated devil at the beginning of this post marks the flea market's entrance.) One of my favorite bloggers, Eddie Ross, often writes about this flea market - or did when he lived in the city.

But on this Memorial Day weekend, the booth owners were looking bored and the crowd was thin.

I liked this Greek goddess holding a book, below, but not enough to pay NYC prices for it. (Especially not with the Ballston Spa village - wide garage sale coming up this month. Now there's the place for bargains!)

The heat began to get to me once again, so I headed back toward our hotel...

and noticed this imprisoned garden on the way. A sign on the fence said it had won some beautification award in 1998. Trouble was, the chain-link fence surrounding it was the densest mesh I've ever seen, and with its forbidding height and barbed wire topping, the garden looked incarcerated. So who gets to enjoy it?

Back at our hotel, the HH decided to go for a swim. It was a nice pool, but unheated, so few were actually using it. Still, it was pleasant to have a spot to sit outdoors.

On Sunday, we met the HH's cousin Stephen for dinner (below) and then went off to our original destination, The Screwtape Letters. Again, we were front and center in a smallish theater and were inches from the actors (spitting distance, quite literally.)

On Monday, we returned to The Strand so that the HH could get his fix. I discovered several copies of Saratoga in Bloom , which hasn't been released yet, but review copies had found their way to The Strand already. With some guilt, I bought a copy. Does plugging it here make up for the fact that the author probably didn't make a dime on my purchase?

On our way out of town, we stopped at Wave Hill in the Bronx, a public garden owned by the City of New York.

It's a pretty spot and the gardens were pleasant but not spectacular.

I don't suppose the city has lots of spare change just now for primping up posies in a posh area of the Bronx.

I liked the vistas from Wave Hill, looking toward the New Jersey Palisades...

and down the Hudson River to some urban skyline.

It was a good weekend and I would have happily stayed longer. Alas, there is this inconvenient thing called work.

* HH = Handsome Husband