Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Just a Normal Day, Right?

Overheard while getting ready for the family party, my cousin says:

"So, my brother is running the engine on his plane with no wings that's sitting on a boat trailer, I am tying bandanas around the chickens' necks to dress them up, and my mother is swating at the roosters with a fly swatter trying to get them out of her garden.  Totally a normal day at our house, right?" 

Ahhhh, yeah Diane.  *Totally* normal...

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Happy 90th-- and counting!

Dear Uncle Keith, Happy 90th Birthday to you!  What a lovely way to celebrate: your family all around you at your home in Kentucky with amazing food and a beautiful day. Near Perfection!

music credit: Annabelle (age 6) singing "Happy Birthday" and then the Beatles "When I'm Sixty-Four"

Friday, May 27, 2011

The Calm

Will and I flew home for the weekend for a family reunion-- shh!  don't tell my friends since I didn't (though they know that when there is a family event happening, they won't see me).  My great uncle is turning 90 and we are hosting about 70 family members at the old homestead.  All the major tasks are done and we are in the calm for the storm.  

My great aunt and uncle are also staying with my parents so it gives everyone a chance to visit before the chaos begins.  You want this set of relatives to stay with you: they bring you fresh asparagus, sweet corn, cinnamon-caramel sweet rolls with hickory nuts, cookies, cakes.  And because Carol made it, it is all divine. 

Brando has been helping with getting ready for by riding on his "dig dig."  He has been hauling things and pushing, eh, "stuff" to get the venue all ready.
Mom and Chloe count the potential guests-- we lost track somewhere in the seventies-- but we aren't daunted by those numbers.  With this family, we have had more than that show up for the holidays.

Darren wants "you" to make sure that all the drinks, music, chairs, and lightening have all been thought out and placed at the ready.  Believe me, they are!
So, for now, it is just a moment to sit back, relax, and enjoy the company before the company arrives.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Blueberries are forming

 Two years ago now, we moved a blueberry bush that was on the side of the house to the lower garden since it wasn't getting enough sun.  Last year we didn't get any berries since the transplanted bush had really taken hold in the new location.  This year, however, it seems that we will have drowning in blueberries!  The bush was covered in delicate blossoms that gave an indication of the amount of berries it would produced.  Based on the numerous clumps of ripen fruit, those flowery predictions predict enough berries to make several batches of tasty jam, maybe a fruit smoothie or two, and some homemade muffins.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Pruned At the Correct Time Afterall

 I was looking at the roses the other day, making sure that they were trellising properly, when I noticed that on the ground was a small, green ball.  Only it wasn't a ball, but a fallen mini apple!  I looked up and the apple tree is full of clusters of apples! 

In November last year, Will pruned the tree rather severely at what we later discovered to be "the wrong time for pruning" according to various people.  However, there was certainly something to it because of the first time in years we have lots of apples on the tree!  I do recall the taste of the apple from long ago: they were very very very very sour.  I suspect that they will still taste that way, but we will have more chances to find out. 

Monday, May 23, 2011

First Signs of Fresh Strawberries

 I checked the garden this morning to see how it was fairing-- with Will out of town and my hosting cousins, it was not a weekend dedicated to the garden.  I was just taking a walk through the Victory Garden and what did my wondering eyes see?


We have several berries forming and ripening and growing right at the moment.  Even the neighbor's plant that crept under the fence has fruit on it.  I say that since that fruit is on our side of the fence, it is mine.  Right?  

Now, on the other side of the Victory Garden, near the roses, we made another discovery: wild strawberries!  Massive amounts of tiny, red strawberries.  Not sure how they got there (there are bird feeders hanging above the ground here, so I can only imagine) but we will enjoy these berries too.  Love these kinds of surprises!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Jealousy Abounds

While here for a visit from Dubai, Cousin Jim picked up a shiny, sparkling, white 64 GB wifi iPad 2.  I helped him set it up and made him download a few apps (Angry Birds.... Words With Friends....).  I did let him leave with it, but it was hard.  Very hard.  He left me the box though.  I may have held it for a little bit.   I can't explain why I need one, but I certainly want one.  Ah, Apple, you clever company! 

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Cousins Visit DC

 This is Mish-Mash, a British cousin come to visit DC all the way from Dubai.  It was glorious weather for her and her parents, who had never been to the capitol before.  Will had been telling them for years to come and now that they see the house and all that the city has to offer, they say that they will return. 

Because where else can you touch a moon rock? 

Or have a frozen lemonade before lunch? 
 Or see a famous Senator and former Presidential candidate on your way out of the loo?

Only is DC!  

I think that Mish-Mash has a marvelous time seeing the city and her parents were even curious about the cost of real estate here.  After 6 years with the desert of the UAE, I think that they need some more trees and grass.  We would love to have them as neighbors!  And when I take them to bars that have this view, it is pretty easy to convince them, or anyone for that matter, that DC is where it is at!

Friday, May 20, 2011

More Roses

As promised earlier in the month, I now present you with the other roses growing in our yard.  The blooms have finally opened (that was the delay!) We now have, in order of appearance, A Shropshire Lad, Benjamin Britten, and Graham Thomas. 

A Shropshire Lad is a climber and we are training it to go along our neighbor's fence-- isn't the fence that is on the right side of a yard technically your neighbors? Anyway, we are hoping that we can train it along the top there and that our neighbors won't mind. If they do, once they smell the roses, their minds will be changed.  I love how the buds are a bright peach color but once the petals open up, it is a very soft pink. 

A Shropshire Lad

Benjamin Britten is finally gotten enough sun and produced several buds which opened only yesterday.  I am not sure what color to call these blooms: magenta? light red? hot pink? The buds, too, are darker than the flowers. I don't know about Will, but I hope that this one climbs up to the roof of the garage and takes over.  It would be absolutely beautiful!
Benjamin Britten

We have planted Graham Thomas by the front door and in an effort to be nice to the gas man, we have tried to tie up and trellis the rose, so he/she won't get pricked to death reading the meter.  Originally I had wanted the rose to curl around the column of the front porch, but realized that when said column needed to be painted, removing thorny stems would not be fun.  So, a trellis instead.  This is also the first of the blooms from the rose, as the white azalea bush is pretty dominate in the front yard until we trimmed it back to make more light for the rest of the plants. 

Graham Thomas

All of these bushes have now lead me to spend a good 45 minutes on the David Austin web site picking out another 3 bushes.  Maybe 4.  We have plenty of yellow and peachy flowers, and two reddish ones.  I am thinking that we need another white (we have only one), an orange (the one we have is a rose tree and pretty pathetic), and some deep reds.  I have made a list of ones I would like to have and I am having a hard time limiting myself to the 3 or 4 that we decided we had room for.  Now I am looking at other plants/bushes we have in the yard that will be sacrificed for a new rose.  I am looking at you butterfly bush... 

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Getting Ready for Guests

We are having over night guests for the weekend and we need to make the house ready-- and Stirling is "helping", can't you tell?!

Will's cousin and her family arrive from Dubai by way of a wedding in Richmond, VA for a quick visit to DC. 

They have never been to DC and so we have a whole list of "must sees" for them.  Not sure how much they will be able to do, since there is a 1 1/2 year old and Will's cousin is pregnant.  Plus, the weather isn't cooperating too well: we have had 4 straight days of rain.  Fingers are crossed that we actually see the sun when they are here. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Some Things Never Change

In searching for old family photos for a big birthday party coming up, Andrew sent me this photo of William, who is about 15 here, and digging in the dirt. Some things never change!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Fig Tree is Full!

Ohhhhhhhh Fiona.....  wanna come visit in another 3 weeks?  We will have plenty to go around!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Grapes of Wrap

The grape vines are back and going strong!  Lots of little clusters of grapes are forming and the vines are reaching out for anything and everything.

Hopefully this year we will actually get more grapes-- I think that birds got more than we did-- and that they can actually ripen on the vines. We had only red grapes last year, though we did plant both green and red.  The red vine has again taken off this spring, hopefully the white one will catch up. 

Sunday, May 15, 2011


 "Hi, my name is Spud. Okay, not really, but that is what my mommy calls me.  I am hanging out in Aunt Mim's yard.  Mommy and Mim and chatting, ignoring me.  I am hungry."
 "All around me is this lush green stuff...I see my sister Luna eating it.  Hmmm....."
 ".... I wonder what it tastes like.  She is always eating something from the ground, so it *must* be delicious.  So let's try it!"
 "Hmm, a bit stringy... peaty..."
 "....with hints of nitrogen."
"I think it's delicious! You should try it!"

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Garden Update

Time to check with the garden!  We have lots of new growth and think that the seedlings were very successful this year-- thanks to Will's new grow light.

Down in the Victory Garden, we have Brussels sprouts, tomatoes, lettuce, melons, peppers, and, of course, the rhubarb. We erected a make shift fence from stakes so Stirling doesn't go charging into it in an attempt to play with the neighbor's dog across the alley (and by "play", I mean bite the dog in a mauling sort of way.  Ahem).  The rhubarb itself is quite impressive, with a center stalk about 6 feet tall now.  It is going to seed and we aren't sure what to do, as you will recall.  We are afraid to cut it down, since the last time we did, the plant died.  We definitely need a professional gardener's advice on this one. 

Brussels sprouts (dark green leafy thing), lettuce (small green leaves at the bottom), and tomatoes

melons and peppers

King Rhubarb
In the upper garden, we have celery (which overwintered quite well!), Brussels sprouts, tomatoes, rhubarb, carrots, melons or squash, chard, basil, oregano, and our first attempt at asparagus.  We think at all the stalks are up now and we have to mound them up.  The stalks are all spindly and have furry arm-like branches. We plan on burying them over the weekend, but I am not sure if we need to keep mounding up or not. Again, we need the advice of a professional gardener.  If only I had a relative or two that could offer some wisdom....
tomatoes, carrots, squash below the railroad tie; celery and Brussels sprouts above

We have lots of tomatoes

fuzzy, furry asparagus stalks