Sunday, May 31, 2009

A few recent cards (and a couple of kitty pics)

Judy http://judyhartman.blogspot.com/ asked to see some of my stamping/paper creations, so here are a few cards i made this past week.

First up is a thank you card for my friend Violette, who very generously gave my friend Jane and me a pair of tickets to see Turandot at the Kennedy Center last Thursday when it turned out that she and her husband wouldn't be able to use them. It's been ages since i've been to the opera. It's not my favorite musical art form, but Puccini's music for Turandot is fantastic (no matter how discomfiting the story line is) and the staging was amazing, borrowing from Kabuki theatre and Chinese opera. It was a really nice night out! Before the show, Jane and i bought salads at the Terrace Cafe and enjoyed dinner outside on the Terrace in the mild Spring evening air with a fine view of the city, the river, and the planes heading in to National airport.

I "borrowed" the layout for this card from Robin, my Stampin' Up! manager, changing the color combination (had to use violet or something close to it for Violette *g*) and finishing it off with a big silver-colored brad. (Stampers "borrow" each other's layouts all the time...they call it "CASEing"..."Copy And Share Everything.")

Next is a birthday card for Robin herself...she's actually a "dog person" but i thought she'd enjoy the kitty on this since it's practically become my trademark.

Monday was also my friend Jenny's birthday, another "dog person." I used a layout very similar to the one i used on Robin's card, except that i used a cute foam dog that represents Jenny's yellow-ish rescue dog who's probably Australian shepherd.

As promised, a couple of kitty pictures from this week after the weather started to warm up again. First is Sylvie snoozing on a box next to the fridge. She seems to think that since her head is tucked in, no one (especially Gingy) can see her there.
And then there's Louie on the boogie mat in front of the fridge...this is a warm weather snoozing position...still close to that hot air from under the fridge, but much less curled up!


Monday, May 25, 2009

Saturday's Garden and Farmer's Market Loot

My rugosa rose. Not fancy, and with flowers growing at the ends of long canes, but they smell so delightfully rose-y, and make really nice rose hips.

Wild blackberries. Looks like it will be a good year for berries this year.


Some sort of wildflower/weed growing in my front lawn. I had thought these were the wonderfully-named "pussytoes" but i don't think they are...whatever they are, i like them, and try to mow around them so they get to bloom.


My mountain laurel, bursting into bloom. The previous owner had cut this bush to ground but it resprouted from the roots and is quite a nice size now. I really like mountain laurels, even though in the wild they grow into huge tangles that are impossible to hike through!


Here's my gorgeous Festiva Maxima peony. As usual, the huge flowers weighed down the stems so i had to hold this one up for her portrait. My whole front yard is filled with wonderful spicy peony fragrance from this one plant that has about 8 blooms on it.


Bowman's Root, a lovely native wildflower that doesn't mind being in the shade. It's in the same bed with a pair of Astilbe that are getting ready to bloom soon and the Goat's beard (see below).


The goat's beard (aruncus dioicus) starting to bloom. It's so pleasant to have this spot of brightness in the shade garden.

Amongst all the goodies that i brought back from the Farmer's Market, the thing that the girls were most interested in was this "cat grass" plant. My friend Sabry http://www.sharkawifarm.com/ brings all sorts of wonderful herb plants, dried herbs, and teas to the market and he said that my cats would love this...it's some type of barley, apparently. Gingy and Sylvie liked it well enough to coexist (barely) while both chomping on opposite sides of it.
Fuzzy was more interested in a little nap while Gingy kept chewing.

Sorry about the amateur quality of the video (and the fact that i didn't turn off the radio!)...it begins with a deep growl from Sylvie and ends when Sylvie coughed to dislodge a piece of grass from her throat...

video

Telecommuting, Friday May 22

Furzzy says it's o.k. for Gingy to take over the desk top, he's going to see if he can fit on the bookshelf on the side.

Sylvie snoozing in the hammock nest in the study window. (The sun was shining through her ears but i wasn't able to catch it since the camera filled in with flash.)


A very rare instance of Gingy and Fuzzy being close...Gingy eating her dry food and Fuzzy eating a special treat of some other dry food.


Louie telecommuting with great concentration!

Memorial Day

Today, on Memorial Day, a blogpost to the contrary reminds me that one of the freedoms that our honored military dead fought to defend was the freedom of religion--religious liberty is often referred to as the "First Freedom" because the framers of the Constitution placed it first in the Bill of Rights. President George Washington wrote to the leaders of several faiths, assuring them of the importance of religious liberty in our young country.

A couple of years ago i visited the Truro synagogue in Newport, Rhode Island, and they have a copy of a letter that Moses Seixas sent on behalf of the congregation to President Washington when he visited in 1790, and President Washington's unambiguous reply:

To the Hebrew Congregation in Newport Rhode Island.

Gentlemen,
While I receive, with much satisfaction, your Address replete with expressions of affection and esteem; I rejoice in the opportunity of assuring you, that I shall always retain a grateful remembrance of the cordial welcome I experienced in my visit to Newport, from all classes of Citizens.
The reflection on the days of difficulty and danger which are past is rendered the more sweet, from a consciousness that they are succeeded by days of uncommon prosperity and security. If we have wisdom to make the best use of the advantages with which we are now favored, we cannot fail, under the just administration of a good Government, to become a great and happy people.
The Citizens of the United States of America have a right to applaud themselves for having given to mankind examples of an enlarged and liberal policy: a policy worthy of imitation. All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship. It is now no more that toleration is spoken of, as if it was by the indulgence of one class of people, that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent national gifts. For happily the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens, in giving it on all occasions their effectual support.
It would be inconsistent with the frankness of my character not to avow that I am pleased with your favorable opinion of my Administration, and fervent wishes for my felicity. May the children of the Stock of Abraham, who dwell in this land, continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other Inhabitants; while every one shall sit in safety under his own vine and figtree, and there shall be none to make him afraid. May the father of all mercies scatter light and not darkness in our paths, and make us all in our several vocations useful here, and in his own due time and way everlastingly happy.
G. Washington

***
I am so thankful to be living in a country that protects the religious freedom of all its citizens, not just some. And i am grateful to those who fought to protect those and all our other freedoms.

Ambrosia


Local strawberries from the Farmer's Market, the essence of summer! distilled sunshine, in little red berries!

They only keep for about a day after they're picked, so i'm "forced" to eat a whole pint at once. Mmmmmm...no problem!

This is my 100th post! I really should hold some sort of drawing as other friends have for their blogoversaries but i'm momentarily uninspired. Maybe you can suggest what you'd like to win??

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Squawking

It's the time of year when nestlings are fledging...they're starting to get their flight feathers and either voluntarily or involuntarily leaving the nest. It's probably the most vulnerable period of their lives. They are out of the safety of the nest and not fully able to fly to safety from predators.

When i pulled into the driveway last night there was an awful lot of squawking going on in and around the apple tree that hangs over the driveway. I got out of the car quietly and stood there until i could see who was squawking...from past experience, i knew this was all about a fledgling.

Sure enough, there in a nearby sassafras tree was a large, gawky, greyish fledgling...short tailfeathers, large beak, large feet, fluffy tuft of feathers on his/her head--a catbird fledgling! Both parents were nearby trying to distract anybody who would listen away from their ungainly child who was hopping from branch to branch and then half flying, half falling to the next place. Several grackles and a female cardinal were in the apple tree...i don't think they had any ill intentions toward the baby, but the catbird parents were taking no chances.

This fledgling seemed like he/she had a good chance of surviving since it was almost flying and had two alert parents guarding it.

This is the time of year we always get calls at the Audubon Society about baby birds found on the ground...usually the best bet is to leave them alone. If they're fledglings, their parents are nearby and will feed them on the ground (and encourage them to fly into the bushes where they're safer) until they're ready to fly more strongly on their own.

The catbirds usually are feeding young in their nest when i'm getting my vegetable bed ready in the spring (mid to late May) and it's always funny seeing them waiting impatiently for me to turn aside so that they can swoop down and grab any insects or grubs that i've turned up, which they hurry off to their nestlings.

And now the babies are big enough that they're fledging and soon enough will be flying around the yard on their own.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Deep into Spring, and telecommuting May 15

I took these pictures Thursday evening because we were forecast to get rain on Friday and my peony flowers often get beaten to bits by heavy rain so i wanted to catch them before that happened. This is the red peony that was in bud last week. It's always my earliest peony to bloom. I found my notes...it's called Jean Bockstoce, an oldish hybrid from 1933 (i got it in 1992 from White Flower Farms in Connecticut as part of a 3-peony special).
This is one of my new babies that i bought last year from Country Flower Garden. This is the first single flower peony that i've planted. Her name is Scarlet O'Hara!
Not quite open yet, this is Pink Hawaiian Coral, also bought last year from Country Flower Garden.

This plant is the reason why i started planting peonies in the first place. It's Festiva Maxima, an old old cultivar, with huge frilly white blooms that open with a fleck or two of red in the innermost petals, and the delicious peony fragrance. The three-peony selection that i bought from White Flower Farm was just supposed to be "one red, one white, and one pink" but i really wanted the white to be a Festiva Maxima, which i had seen in a garden in upstate NY and fallen in love with (but felt i couldn't afford to buy an individual plant). They said they couldn't guarantee which plants would be in the collection, but they were pretty sure the white would be a Festiva Maxima, and sure enough, it was! It has done wonderfully year in and year out, although sometimes the bloom time is cut short by a downpour that knocks the stems down or knocks the petals off. This one will be blooming in a week or so, depending on the weather.
I'm pretty sure these are Siberian irises that i bought from my friend Sally Mello a couple of years ago. Last year they did nothing and i thought they'd perished; this year's bountiful spring rains brought them up tall and blooming!

I think this is Iris Black Knight from Country Flower Garden. Irises have trouble in my garden because the beds get too overgrown with groundcover and honeysuckle for their rhizomes to have the nice clean surroundings they thrive in. I hope i'll be able to keep this one happy!
After unloading all of my father's household goods on Tuesday, the small moving truck followed me to my town (i could see the driver thinking "where the heck are we going??"). On board they had the student desk and bookcase that my father made me many years ago, a box of books, and two boxes of small tools, nuts, and bolts, that my father set aside for me.

I didn't really have a good place to put the desk since my study is cluttered with boxes in the center and two desks already against the wall, but i really really wanted to keep that desk that he so lovingly made for me and which i sat at to do my homework all through junior high and high school. So i moved some boxes of "stuff" to the basement and had the movers put the desk in the middle of the room. Gingy immediately explored and declared it was a wonderful perch just for her.

This is my telecommuting Friday, with Fuzzy snuggling (after thoroughly washing my face with his raspy tongue).

Then he turned himself around and lay with his head on the keyboard. This is always challenging especially when i'm telecommuting :).
Another picture of Gingy enjoying "her" new desk.

And of course Louie had to snuggle, too, during an hour-long teleconference.

Here's the bookcase (i should have moved that flooring remnant out of the way before i took the picture!). When this was in my bedroom in my parents' house, it used to hold my collection of National Geographic magazines as well as a bunch of books, including some favorites that i brought back with me, like Margaret Mead's People and Places.

I need to bring one of my cats to work!

I returned to the office on Thursday, my first day back in the office after a week. Late in the morning, i opened my desk drawer to get a square of chocolate, and what should i find but this:
Some little rodent(s) had throughly nibbled a big chunk out of my chocolate bar! (Chocolove's dark chocolate with candied ginger, by the way.) I pulled all the rest of the stuff out of drawer...in the front were plastic bags, toothbrush, toothpaste, and in the back were lots of files and there was mousie poo everywhere, plus shreds of plastic bag and kleenex package, where they seemed to be thinking about making a nest.
I told our secretary, who after nearly fainting in fear and disgust, called Facilities. The custodian was impressed with the chocolate and said he was going to get some like that; his supervisor said that strangely almost all of the rodent calls in our building are about mice and chocolate! (I didn't remind her about the rats in the parking garage....) They vacuumed out the drawer, spritzed it with disinfectant, and set some sticky traps baited with the remains of the chocolate (poor mousies...). Now i know why that drawer has always had a peculiar aroma...i had thought it was because the previous occupant of the desk must have kept their gym shoes in that drawer, but i think it's had a long time mouse occupancy.

Spring's progress and telecommuting, May 8

Stella d'Oro day lilies and variegated iris

My earliest peony, a gorgeous red, starting to show color.

A tiny chartreuse-green hosta. I thought this was called "Capitan" but all the pictures on the internet of "Capitan" are something completely different.

A large, strong, variegated hosta. Just bought it last year so it's still in a pot. I think it will be huge once it's established. Of course i can't remember its name.
Dame's Rocket. A non-native wildflower that fills the back of my yard with color. Unfortunately it's said to be an invasive alien plant.
Rain-drop speckled lilies of the valley...so tiny and so fragrant. I haven't had any success planting them...these plants spread over from next door and of course are thriving!


Dear Louie snuggling while i telecommute.
Gingy wants up, but Louie's well ensconced on my lap.
Now Fuzzy's on my lap and Gingy wants up!
On Saturday (May 9) was my congregation's first Bar Mitzvah in five years. This is the card i made for the congregation's gift to the young man.

And this is the card i made for my gift to him. (The stamp set with the truck in it is really fun...it comes with all sorts of accessories including a boy driver and a girl driver and trees, hearts, dogs, and eggs for the cargo! The bar mitzvah gift stamp is from another stamp set.)

Mission Accomplished!

I am happy to report that as of Tuesday, May 12, my father is a resident of Virginia! The move from New Jersey went quite well, all things considered. We had delightful weather for loading the truck (two young men did all the work themselves...carrying bookcases single-handed, carrying several large boxes on their back at once, pausing only momentarily to flirt *g*) and also great weather for the drive down to Virginia, except for the last 20 minutes which were in a gully washer of a rain storm.

The guys showed up with the truck in Virginia on time Tuesday morning, but the truck was too big to get on the property, so they had to bring a smaller truck to shuttle goods from where the big truck parked on the road in to the property. Luckily they brought along wheeled dollies so they didn't have to carry everything on their backs into the building, up the elevator, and down the hall to my father's apartment.
Part of what my father paid for was help in unpacking stuff and putting it away. They did a sort of peculiar job putting stuff in the kitchen and one of the unpackers said to me "why did your father bring all these books? you couldn't read one a day of these for the rest of your life. With everything on the internet, who needs all these books?" As a confirmed lover of books this question infuriated me so much i just sputtered "what a bizarre question!" and left the room. (After the unpackers left, we started moving things around to more sensible locations. And my father is continuing to unpack boxes and look for things that were hidden, like his brown socks which were in a bag on top of a closet, and the clean sheets, which are still apparently in an as-yet-unopened box.)
I stayed in the apartment overnight and on Wednesday we did some important errands like getting a library card at the lovely branch library...you know, so he can get some more books! (hmmmmph!! so there!) We also figured out how to use the new dishwasher and also the washer/dryer. It's a really cool space-saving unit where a full-sized dryer is perched on top of a full-sized washer, enabling the whole thing to fit into a closet.

Everyone seems very friendly, the apartment is starting to feel like home, my father's got his internet access back, and all's well with the world!
Here's a last picture of our family home for 49 years, taken Sunday shortly before we left.

This magnolia started off 49 years ago as a bareroot switch no bigger around than my thumb...now as you can see it's taller than the house, and reliably blooms twice a year!

A last visit with one of the local cottontail rabbits.
This afternoon i drove up to visit my father--it's an easy hour's drive--and went grocery shopping with him. He wanted to see if he could do the drive himself...it's quite challenging learning all new roads to all new places, especially given his reduced vision. He did fine and we had fun getting more essentials for the apartment. I had dinner with him in the dining hall and it was really nice...the food was quite good (unlike the dinner Wednesday night, where the food seemed very bland and underseasoned) and two charming women were seated at the table with us, one of whom has lived there since the Fall so she's an "old timer" and the other of whom has only lived there for two days, so she's even more of a "newcomer" than my father.
Here's hoping that all continues to go well!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Happy Mother's Day!


Louie and Fuzzy (and Sylvie and Gingy) wish all mothers a very happy Mother's Day and send a special snuggle to each and every one of you. I'm off to New Jersey to pick up my father...this is the weekend he moves to Virginia!!...so i'll probably be offline until Wednesday night. Take care!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Cats are funny creatures...

Monday night i cooked the rapini i had bought at the Farmer's Market. I used a recipe that called for cooking the veggies in boiling water for 5 minutes, draining them, and adding olive oil in which quite a few thinly sliced cloves of garlic had been cooking until "melted" and then red pepper flakes stirred in. Fuzzy and Sylvie are my two veggie eating cats and they were very interested in what i was doing, so as soon as the rapini was done, but before i added the olive oil, i pulled a few stems out of the colander and let them cool off. Fuzzy and Sylvie sniffed carefully, and then each devoured their rapini stems! In fact, they asked for some more! Louie wanted to see what they were eating, but one sniff of a rapini stem was all it took for him to back away quickly...

While supper was cooking, i saw something white out in the garden...it was my next door neighbor's mostly-Siamese cat, Blue. I've never been able to get him to be friends...he spends a fair amount of time in my yard, and watches me intently, but has no interest in coming close for some petting and conversation. He loves catnip, and last year i had to put a low little fence around my catnip plant to keep him from rolling on the plant and flattening it. I don't mind at all that he helps himself to some leaves, but rolling on the plants, especially when they're young and tender, doesn't do them any good.

The fence worked well...Blue could often be seen grazing the leaves that poked through or over it. (Then the woodchuck came along and trimmed the tops off all the plants...i guess it was just food for him/her, not an aphrodisiac like it is for the cats.)

This year i guess the plants haven't grown fast enough for Blue...as i was watching, he went from sniffing through the fence to leaping right over it, landing exactly in the middle of the tiny fenced area (just big enough for one pot of catnip and two pots of sage...and one cat, apparently!).

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Another lovely Saturday

I had to get up early (for me on a Saturday) because i needed to get to the Farmer's Market before picking up a friend to go to a bat mitzvah....which i had to get to early because i was bringing the yarmulkes and prayer shawls and Kiddush cup (for blessing the wine) in my car!
The Farmer's Market had double the number of vendors as last week. And everyone had gorgeous greens, since this last week's cooler, rainy weather was perfect for them. As early as i got there, i still didn't get there early enough to get the first asparagus of the season *pout*, but i did get a beautiful head of red leaf lettuce, a bag of mizume, a bunch of radishes in mixed colors, a bunch of rapini, a slice of berry pie, and little bags of biscotti, rugelach, and almond cookies. All set for veggies and breakfasts for the week! Oh yes, and the lady with fresh salsa and chips was back, too....yummmm.

The bat mitzvah was wonderful. I've known the young lady since she was about 4 years old. It was wonderful to see how confident she was, and how well she read and chanted the Hebrew. Rose, our lay leader, did a superb job of preparing her...but it was up to her to carry it off, and carry it off she did! There were probably 150 people there, which for our tiny congregation was huge...lots of friends and family from New York came down for the event.

After the ceremony, they moved tables into the room and set up a sit down lunch. The most amazing thing was that each table had a gorgeous glass vase on it, with flowers in a complementary color, on a quilted mat...the bat mitzvah girl's father made each of the vases himself from blown glass and his mother--the girl's grandmother-- made all the mats. I got to take one of the vases home!

I made two cards, one for the gift from me and one for the gift from the congregation, which i presented. The young lady volunteered at the local animal shelter as her special project leading up to her bat mitzvah, so i put a kitty on her card from me!


On the way home i stopped off at Borders to pick up a gift for next weekend's bar mitzvah...i realized if i didn't get it today, i won't have a chance until the weekend, when it will be too late!

This evening, the cats have been playing musical nests...and i had the camera at hand when Fuzzy took his turn on the boogie mat...