Thursday, July 30, 2009

Biblical rains tame hell strip

The northeast has been having rains of near Biblical proportions this summer, which has helped our "hell strip" to bloom with abandon. Three summers ago when we first moved here, this was a weedy spot in which only Japanese beetle grubs thrived. Surrounded by pavement - our driveway, our neighbor's driveway, and the road - this area baked nicely all summer and refused to be whipped into anything pleasant to look at.

After adding several doses of humus and good top soil, and finding some plants that had the right stuff, this is finally a prettier corner of the yard.

I don't know the name of this daylily, but it has just bloomed and bloomed with lovely, large peachy flowers. I think it's gorgeous.

The question is, if the rainfall is less spectacular next summer, can this strip do as well?

Note: The plants shown include perennial bee balm, Joe Pye weed, daylily, and lavender. Annuals are nicotiana, marigold, nasturtium, and one volunteer sunflower. Click on photos to enlarge them.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Solace from a midsummer border

A sombre occasion brought me to Lake George today. The father of two young sisters I know, both former students of mine, had passed away unexpectedly. His funeral was today at the little gem of a Catholic church there, Sacred Heart. Against its gray stone walls, a perennial border was supplying some beauty to an otherwise tough morning. I remember reading several years ago about an elderly parishioner, a lady who was legally blind but who nonetheless carefully tended this garden each summer. I don't know if it can still be she who keeps this garden up, but someone gets credit for continuing her tradition. I appreciate and admire this "garden ministry".
Looking at this garden after the funeral mass today, I thought of a line in the Prayer of Final Commendation we read together: May we appreciate every moment of life and cherish each day. And don't such gardens help us do just that?
Please note: clicking on the photo will enlarge it for a closer look.

Stealing a good idea (plus hearty eats in Bend, Oregon)

My eldest son and his wife have just opened a new restaurant, Brother Jon's Public House, in Bend, Oregon, along with their business partner, Steve. Back home in upstate NY, I trawled the Internet to see if their restaurant had been reviewed anywhere yet. I discovered that it had, by an entertaining blogger at Bend Oregon Restaurants . Aside from appreciating the good review for beloved son's enterprise, I especially like that this reviewer donates the proceeds from his blog to a local charity. What a great idea. So great, in fact, that I am stealing it. Later today, as I learn the ropes of adding things to this blog, I will add a similar charitable link and embark on "monetizing" this baby.
In the mean time, if you're heading to Bend, Oregon anytime soon, stop in and say hi to John for me. Tell him his mother sent you.
Note: photo credit goes to The Source Weekly where you can also read more about Brother Jon's Public House.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

About that flag...

Guests arriving at our home often ask, "What is that flag?" It has been mistaken for a Confederate flag (it's not) and an early American version of the US flag (it's not that either). What it is, in fact, is a Blue Star service flag.

Right after Easter this year, our beautiful daughter deployed to Afghanistan, where she is still serving. She was married this year, too, on Valentine's Day, to another soldier who had already served 15 months in Afghanistan and will likely go again. These were pretty big changes in my life (not to mention in her life!)

After she deployed, I often felt teary and worried. I was happy to discover that there was a chapter of the Blue Star Mothers of America that met in nearby Albany. Joining this group of ladies has been a great support. We share a rather special bond. BSMs is a good source of information for military parents, as well.

That Blue Star flag signifies that I proudly support my child serving in the military during wartime. If you are the mother of a son or daughter currently serving or honorably discharged, I encourage you to find out more about the Blue Star Mothers . If there is no chapter near you, it only takes five people to start one. Even if you don't join, you can still proudly display a service flag. They are widely sold on line.

If you are not a military mom, please do what you can to support our service men and women. A simple, "Thank you for your service," is appropriate when you see a person in uniform. And a prayer or two wouldn't hurt. Each of them is someone's son or daughter...

Monday, July 27, 2009

Good eating on Beekman Street

The HH (Handsome Husband) and I like the restaurants on Beekman Street in Saratoga Springs. Last night we ate at the Beekman Street Bistro (see recent Metroland review)
I especially like the chef's use of fresh, locally produced foods and that there are always some unusual items on the menu. The photo shows my dessert: a goat cheese custard with plum soup. Lovely!
While you're on Beekman Street, also check out The Local Pub and Teahouse and Gotchya's.

Sunday in Saratoga

The Handsome Husband and I took advantage of a quiet Sunday to walk the dogs in Saratoga Spa State Park yesterday. The Geyser Creek trail offers the unusual Island Spouter and Orenda Spring. These both deposit minerals creating strange-looking tufa (porous calcite rock) which fossilizes leaves and debris as the deposits grow.
The dogs liked this walk because they got to cool their toes in the creek.