Welcome reader to my blog - a mixture of this and that. Now that we are living in a retirement community in downtown Columbia, MD my personal gardening activities are somewhat curtailed. I still enjoy visiting gardens, reading, watching wildlife on my walks, traveling, and occasional food commentary. Please leave a comment if you feel inspired to do so. I read every one of them.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Historical Fiction

Wednesday night I finished reading an historical fiction that takes place in 1200. "The Canterbury Papers" has as its narrator the Princess Alais. She was a real person who was betrothed to Richard the Lionheart but ended up being the mistress of his father, King Henry, at the age of 16. The story takes place 20+ years after that time when Richard's brother John was king of England.

It was an interesting story that held my attention throughout. The author did a good job portraying the Princess as an assertive woman for the times. I'll look for other books by this author, particularly the sequel, "The Rebel Princess".

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Pond Surprise


Do you recognize this flower?

I was spreading the last of the mulch this morning and in walking by the pond a flash of lavender caught my eye. The water hyacinths are blooming. I hadn't even noticed they had buds. The ones I had last year never bloomed. They are lovely. I hope they last for awhile.

























Here's what else is blooming in the pond.





Sunday, June 21, 2009

"The End of Overeating"

With a subtitle of "Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite", David A. Kessler, MD has researched and written a scathing report on what food companies and restaurant chains have done to us to keep us coming back for more. It's partly our fault too for letting them do it to us.

Have you ever looked at a plate of food served to you at a restaurant and wondered how you would eat it all and then eaten it anyway? From increasing portion sizes to combining an addicting mix of sugar, salt and fat the food industry has done us all a disservice. I just need to look at my waist line to see it. We have to rehab our eating if we are to break the cycle of addiction.

Here are some quotes:

"Food rehab is the key to viewing food stimuli in new ways.

"Conditioned hypereating is a biological challenge, not a character flaw. Recovery is impossible until we stop viewing overeating as an absence of will power.

"Treating conditioned hypereating means recognizing it as a chronic problem that needs to be managed, not one that can be completely cured.

"Lapses are to be expected. Most of us are never fully cured of conditioned hypereating."

"A useful way to gauge what will truly satisfy you is to eat only half of your usual meal. ... Chances are good you will find one of those servings to be enough -- beyond that, you are eating for reward, not satiety. It often comes as a shock to realize how much less you can eat."

If you read a diet book this summer, try this one. It shouldn't be called a diet book, rather an expose of eating.

Wrens

The wren nested again this year in the hanging bird house I purchased for it last year when he fought with the chickadee for the other bird house. Lately a persistent squabbling has come from the house each time an adult wren came near. The last few days the adults couldn't fit into the house with their tender morsel to feed the babies.


Today after mowing the back lawn I noticed a head peering out the hole. I grabbed the camera to record it. I got one picture before the little wren frightened and flew out. I realized then that two others were already out when the adult wren put up a fuss about my presence.

When I turned back to put the camera away there was a fourth baby at the hole of the bird house. It posed for this picture then flew out, too to join its siblings and parents in the brush.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

My Morning View


When we designed this house we never really gave a thought of what we would see outside our bedroom window. The original plans called for a patio out there, but we soon realized that wasn't where we would want to sit to entertain. Instead I put in the perennial garden laid out like a compass rose. Now I wake up and look out on the garden to see what has decided to bloom. It is delightful.
The perennial garden is starting it's 4th summer. It's got a ways to go before its the lush garden I envision. But I have to admit it's come a long way from what it was in 2006.

"The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society"

Isn't that a delightful name? It's actually the name of an historical fiction by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. It's set in England and the Isle of Guernsey, one of the Channel Islands, directly after World War II. The main character is an author, Juliet Ashton, who begins a correspondence with several people on the island after one of them wrote to her when they had purchased a used book that once had belonged to Juliet. The story is told through all the letters. (Remember when people wrote letters?)

I don't want to give any of the story away because it is very charming. It was one I didn't figure out along the way. Maybe I was enjoying it too much to try.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Vegetable Garden


The snow peas had stopped blooming so it was time to pull the plants and let the tomatoes have more room. Here are the before pictures of the two beds with the snow peas with tomatoes above. And the snow peas with lettuce and chard below.
Here is the bed with the tomatoes. Now they have room to spread out more.
I planted three hills of zuchini in this bed. Don't know how they'll do and if there is enough room.
I then sat on the porch and pulled off all the snow peas. We'll have some tonight and I'll freeze the rest. It was quite a harvest.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Disappointments

I take it very personally when a plant doesn't do well. I figure it is partly my fault as the gardener. I have several disappointments this year. I had three purple cone flower plants last year. The ground hog did a number on them but I thought my chicken wire had helped them survive. Well, only one came back this year and the ground hog is at it again. I've put chicken wire around it and am hoping for its survival.

I purchased marigolds and planted them in various spots. They are slowly succumbing to the slugs or at least that's what I think is getting them.

On the north side I have lots of lavender. This is the third year for these plants. I am saddened by the amount of die off with these plants. Look at these pictures. What happened to make these die back so?

I trimmed as much of the dead parts out as I could. I even did it twice. I don't know if they will fill out or not.This is the worst one. I don't know if any of it will come back.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

New Blooms and Promise of More


Stella d'oro day lilies.

Sundrops

Lavender

Snap dragons preparing to bloom.
Other day lilies.

Yarrow will bloom this week.
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