Category Archives: Home & Garden

June flourish

We planted a new bush out front — a Sweet Bay Magnolia– to block a fairly recently denuded corner.

And look how this new Arbor Vitae nearly completely screens out the neighbor’s car! This is the view out our living room windows, so it matters.

I succumbed to an ad inserted in my Instagram feed. Yikes! What’ll happen next? But look at the sweet solar powered bird bath bubbler I got for under $15. After just a little sun, it shoots up a five or six inch spray.

So many plants thriving, I’ll try not to get too hung up on the climbing hydrangea that died this year (another victim of the black walnut?). Out back, we splurged and planted some decent-sized birches and a lovely large pine. They’re all beautiful and functional as screening and, as it turns out, economical because I no longer feel any urgency about replacing our fence.

Ciao! Off to watch the Belmont Stakes.

New grass, new quilt

K did an amazing job on the lawn. I helped a little. Believe it or not, it only took about three hours to lay down.

Today, for Mother’s Day, we had tasty Japanese food at the swanky mall down the road.

While there, I bought a cardigan to replace the one K shrank in the wash last week (yes! He does the laundry).

There were two phone calls and a big bouquet of flowers from the boys. Very nice.

Also: I gave myself a few hours in the studio and made this little piece (and half of another).

But here’s the main thing: I came into the weekend absolutely exhausted by the ever-present swirl of commentary about race and culture. About white people staying in their lane. Hands off this. You’re not allowed to do that. The debate really deserves a thoughtful post but I can’t guarantee I’ll write it any time soon. I’d rather focus on my writing.

PS. Some of you will recognize one of Jude’s indigo resist moons. I keep finding one here and there in my scrap baskets and it’s like Christmas every time.

Look what emerged!

Okay, if anybody’s yard is going to spit up a sewing machine foot, it would be a quilter’s, but really? How did it get outside and when?

After putting up with a pounded dirt backyard for three years, we got quotes to re-sod it. I’m not a committed suburban lawn grower — there are the sustainability issues, the possibility of poisonous treatments, not to mention the huge cost of weekly yard crews. But the mud is untenable. It’s not just ugly, it’s super inconvenient (think: four muddy paws at the back door ten times a rainy day). And that’s where I draw the line. My convenience.

The quotes were astronomical, so even with tree-insurance money, we’ve decided to do it ourselves. What else is new? I get it: two or three guys, a batch of hours, plus the cost of the loam and sod (and — pretty sure — a hefty mark up for a Newton address). Ugh. What’s a couple of grueling days to us?

Even with paying for the sod to be delivered and renting a tiller, we’ll come in at $1,000 cheaper than the lowest bid, which was itself $1,000 less than the next lowest bid.

While we’re at it, we’ll reduce the size of the north bed (and straighten it) and extend the bed at the back southwest corner. The plan is to plant some fairly mature scotch pines in the corner too — both to keep Finn from going nose to nose with another dog-reactive dog and to screen the lot line where three large trees have come down recently.

After a stretch of relentless insistence on ball play, I’m happy to report that Finn finally understood that he doesn’t run the show out back. After a while, he gave it up and relaxed in the sun. Meanwhile out front some marsh mallows (is that their name?) that I never planted are thriving. I love it when that happens.

A mini-clothes line nearby affords good back light for viewing a nearly finished Village Quilt. I’m pleased with the translucent quality of the gauze backing (90 weight), but need to figure out how to better integrate the two layers next time. There was some bubbling that I’m pretty sure could have been tamed with a traditional batting/cotton backing layering. Any suggestions? Maybe an all over invisible baste first (a la Jude/spiritcloth)?

Have a nice weekend all!

Maybe by the next post, we’ll have a back lawn (but my sister will not be unpacked. That is certain). Talking abut grueling days — Thursday, Move Day, was a total grunt — even WITH a crew of three movers and her PCA present for three hours.

Label the room. Why not?

Labeling a room is one way to start the week. And lists are a way of life. It’s sunny. Birds are singing. And tomorrow, it will snow. They’re predicting 10″ to 12″ — but lighter this time. Still, the forecast is enough to kibosh a Salem visit for tomorrow. More time to write!

Even though my cold came roaring back this weekend, I managed to: fill four bins with twigs out back, make a necklace, cook six meals (counting Friday), clean up several rooms and vacuum the basement studio (while in pursuit of my Pfaff sewing machine cord and pedal — found!), buy and wrap a bday gift, make a tricky ask for photo attribution on FB, watch Betsy deBoob on 60 Minutes, and continue along with the creepy and satisfying Netflix series, “The Frankenstein Chronicles”.

How was your weekend? Are you watching anything good?

I’ll leave you with three selections from Krista Tippet’s interview with social scientist and YouTube sensation, Brené Brown.

“It’s really a struggle to straddle the tension of YES/AND.”

“Your level of true belonging can never be greater than your willingness to stand alone.”

Brown also cited a useful definition of civility as promulgated by the Houston organization, Institute for Civility in Government: “Civility is claiming and caring for one’s identity, needs, and beliefs without degrading someone else’s in the process.”

(Should I take back the “deBoob” insult? Maybe. But not now).

Interview here: “Strong back, soft front, wild heart.”

Back light and self pity

It’s a little funny to me that just beyond this serene house quilt is the huge mess associated with tree clean up.

Happily, my brother in law came to help yesterday, otherwise we’d really be behind the eight ball.

It’s still a bit daunting. For one thing, on closer inspection, we noticed that the tree did hit the house, so I’ll need to get an insurance adjuster out here as soon as possible (after two back to back nor’easters, I imagine they’re very busy!) More snow coming Tuesday, P.S.

With the ladder leaning on an about-to-be-cut branch, there were plenty of Wily E. Coyote jokes.

We tried to broker a meeting between Finn and his dog cousin, Ziggy, and did everything right up to a point — (starting in neutral territory, keeping a good distance, then closing the distance, then a break apart) after which it did not go well. It turned into a minor disaster, actually, because when Finn went apeshit, I slipped in the snow and let go the leash. Ziggy seems to be fine, but it didn’t prevent one of my self-pitying laments about difficult dependents.

Speaking of which, after eight years on the wait list and three application updates, my sister has gotten subsidized housing. This is the best possible news for her (and secondarily for my brother, whose financial burden will be greatly reduced). For me, it is a giant chore with no real benefit (did I mention self pity about difficult dependents?) I am happy for her, don’t get me wrong. I just wish there was someone else to orchestrate the move.

Meanwhile, these are my last few weeks to prep for Newton Open Studios. We will pay rent for my sister’s current apartment through the end of April, which hopefully will make the transition manageable.

(Just so you know, we moved all her belongings into storage in 2009, out of storage in 2010, and then had to assist with near complete possession pack up during the bed bug ordeal last year. These were the same years that we moved our sons a total of seven times).

Two blessings and a soup

Blessing one: Finn was in the house when the large pin cherry on the lot line crashed into the deck. (So was I. I watched it fall).

Blessing two: the tree landed two feet away from the house. One branch was closer: about six inches!

I was also worried about the arbor vitae on the south side of the house, bowed as they were over some power lines.

After filling the feeders, freeing these shrubs of the cement-like clumps of snow and tying them up as best I could, I made soup. Delicious soup.

Stock: two beef bones, vegetable trimmings, a cup of red wine, two heads of garlic and S&P.

Soup: one sliced onion, two carrots, one potato, 1/4 c white rice, and a few Tbs fresh chopped cilantro, more S&P. Yum!!