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Bird HousesDSis began the Open Mic at the Bird House three years ago. It has gotten better every year. Exponentially.

In keeping with the theme, she found several wood birdhouses (augmenting the many already there) to paint in the whimsey style of her yard. Mother got them all primed. She is a night owl who experiences several unplanned, unintentional, micro sleep events during the day, but once the sun goes down, she is wired for the night!

So we painted, embellished, and otherwise adorned a couple of them. They graced the yard, but apparently my camera did not take the photos I thought I was taking of them… or maybe it wasn’t my camera. Not sure. Moving on…

Arghh! My sore throat was only marginally improved but that was okay. The sign-up board filled quickly with over 25 performers, so my part wasn’t missed. *I* missed doing it, but that’s life and next year WILL come and I will be very prepared, right?

Ieva One of the opening sets was Ieva who can make violin strings do sumersaults, dance, soar, and catapault the sheer delight of music into your skin. What a treat! I hate it when those sets end, but there was a limit of 3 selections or 15 minutes, whichever came first, in order to allow all who signed up to present before 1:00am. It was close, I tell you!

Accapella TrioDSis is part of an accapella group at St. Marks. Their selections were *amazing*! Tight harmonies, totally terrific timpani, and spot-on rhythm. Good stuff!

Jeff GuitarJeff was in high demand as an accompanist. I was hoping to snag him for me, sore throat and all, but it was hard to fit in a practice with him setting up the lights, the sound stage, prepping the yard, and the BBQ area. A short, well-deserved snooze before the mayhem was something I didn’t want to intrude on.

DougJeff isn’t the only talented musician in his family. His brother Doug also has considerable skill with strings and voice.

We followed this amazing evening with an afternoon in a pool. What a relaxing way to end a frenetic weekend! I felt totally relaxed, sated in sound with a perpetual smile on my face for hours. Let me tell you, that really helped during the hour-plus I spent on the tarmac waiting to get homeward-bound in the skies!

And this past weekend I spent time at my favorite Lowell Folk Festival but I have to admit, I spent more time walking the streets admiring the various wares than I did pausing at the musical treats. Our local cable treated us to live feeds of the various musicians so I was able to enjoy far more than I ever would have in person! I could hear the musicians as I walked around enjoying the fresh veggie stands. I was fascinated by the sour melons, but I didn’t buy any! I did buy a pound of fresh peas so I would recognize mine when they were ready to pick…and because I love fresh peas, of course.

I have lovely pix of course, but it is abysmally late, so you’lll just have to wait until next time to see the sour melons, the odd architecture, and my amazing harvest haul!

The Garden Queen

Her Humble Beginnings

bEFORE In the beginning of the garden

empty harvest CCR HarvestIn our work garden I see many, many plants at various stages of development and de-development as the critters come and sample the wares. My neighboring gardener has been happily harvesting her crops. Me? Not so much.

string bean bonanzapractically peasFirst, a veritable bean bonanza, and then, practically peas.

It is amazing (almost actual magic!) that I plant little round seeds in the ground, and they grow into plants that are themselves creating round little seeds.

baby zucchiniDespite many flowers, no vegetable growth was apparent on the zucchini plants for some time. On Friday, a small, slender swelling in the distinctive green was spotted. A whisper of a maybe wannabe zuke was also noted on another plant, but one couldn’t be quite sure. Fringing the garden are many blackberry shrubs. For once, they were not eaten by birds or other wild and impolite critters. They are actually a lot of them ripened on the vines. I race to gather and ingest the best, the most, the sweetest…but my hands were full of zukes, so my harvest attempts were feeble. A co-worker had the foresight to bring a container for her harvesting. She raked in a lovely haul of berries.

A weekend is only two days long. Granted, it was brightly sunny, hot, and humid both days, which are generally excellent growing conditions.

But such a bonanza of zukes! The garden lady (above) wears hers well, yes? More coming!

A late-planted vine is asserting itself as a cucumber plant. The peppers, alas, have thoroughly quit this world.

Bird House Logo 2008The Weekend Past…

A post of my weekend needs more time to recover. It was splendid, no question about it. Not what I thought it was going to be, but life rarely is, don’cha know?

There is a zen aspect to ironing, just as there is a zen aspect to weeding a garden… but ironing doesn’t have the bugs and humidity.

I am a rarity among those I know. I iron. I like crisp, freshly-pressed clothing. I like soft, wrinkle-free clothing best (and I tailor my clothing purchases around those as best I can), BUT those that need a crisping here and there? The ironed ones feel cleaner somehow than unironed, wrinkled ones.

When I am clean and pressed myself—freshly showered or bathed, that is—I feel better. I may have the mother of all headaches, the beastliest of colds, and just being clean and dressed helps me feel better, if only temporarily. This is how I end up at work when I have no business being there a’tall.

But back to the zen of ironing…I am “safe” from interruptions and distractions while ironing. It’s as if welding an iron wards off the normal intrusions of small children or other members of the household. Even the puppies don’t harass me to take them for a walk or come out and play with them when I iron. They may lie down underfoot as I iron, but they don’t move about, tangling feet and cords. Perhaps others fear I’d give them ironing or other laundry tasks to do if they stray too near. And I might!

Whatever the reason, I always know that when I iron, I will be alone with my thoughts. They are generally very good company. I often play out a fantasy of having minions who would come to clean my house, tackle the garden tasks, and generally do all the housekeeping chores I have trouble getting to…dusting, vacuuming, swabbing decks and toilets, and polishing floors…you know real fantasy stuff; prioritizing just in case the dark forces came and wiped out my minions before I fully completed my long list of “to-do” stuff. From there I would imagine how I would spend a lottery win or imagine an impossibly perfect job offer that included a health club in the building, flex time and only part time in the office, with full access from home 24/7.

I am not looking for another job. For the most part, the one I have suits me just fine, but fantasy jobs are…um…different. On icky days they carry me through the tedium, aggravation, and the problem-solving process to the glory times of accolades, successful coding, and problem resolution.

Tonight I ironed a backlog of shirts, dresses, and assorted linens for 2 1/2 hours. In that time I had the SciFi channel on running “The Brothers Grimm” movie as a backdrop to my musing. I solved world poverty and overweightness (eat less, share more). I devised a plan (#271) for redecorating the yard and the house. I mapped out what to wear for the upcoming work week (which I promptly forgot). I argued with my sore throat (making bargains it paid absolutely no attention to). I promised to exercise more (but not right now ‘cuz I was busy).

Eleven pillowcases, nine linen napkins, three doilies, 14 shirts, one linen dress, and three pairs of slacks later… I am late for bed, but I have things to wear for work in the morning. Not a bad trade.

(but not this kind!)

Have you ever noticed that when one aspect of your life truly sucks, the other areas chime in? Then you end up in this global pity parade of grump, with each item trying to trump the other in which is worse. It escalates to the point where the initial irritation is lost in the staggering pile of whine.

Temp Directory
I put all my downloads there. This includes all the downloaded installation files, each in their own folder, mostly. This is the folder that crashed my (only!) 4-yr-old laptop, corrupting it to the point where it would crash to black without notice at anytime. No “blue screen of death” intermediary, just a blank black screen. It reboots fine with no errors, programs run, etc…but not for long.

The Newbie
The newbie is silky-shiny. It collects fingerprints like nobody’s bizness. The back hinge is stiffly new to raise. The screen colors are vibrant and pretty. Everything is in a different place… it is Vista because there was *no* choice.

It doesn’t like our e-mail set-up and complains righteously about the (totally legal but no-name brand) certificate. Grudgingly it collects and sends e-mail with the .pst file settings of my former laptop. It allowed me to add my contact list. It forgot my time zone a couple of times so the reminders and date stamps were all screwy.

The newbie has a brand-new install of Microsoft Professional 2007. I cannot find my install disks for Studio 8 or Acrobat Pro. That put another crimp in the delivery of the overdue summer edition of the family newsletter to the press. Those programs are on the old laptop…the one that crashes.

We think the disks are somewhere in the server room which is also where we have stored the boxes and boxes of books, knickknacks, photos, etc. from the living room redo of last…um…December? I have unpacked many, but…there is still a wall of HEAVY boxes blocking us from the shelves of CDs where we are most likely to find the missing disks…

The Work Garden Report
This also is the pits. I still have a few plants to put in from the last batch given to me. I have been slowly working at it after work on those days when a) I am not supposed to be somewhere else and b) the weather permits. I have had exactly TWO times that met those criteria in the past 10 days. My neighbor’s peas are tendrilling upwards, sprouting flowers and miniature pea pods. Mine are grabbing and goosing each other lower on the strings and not climbing much at all, despite my cursing encouraging words and clumsy tender adjustments.

A critter is in there. This garden is walled with 2 kinds of wire fencing, an electric outer fence, a locking gate (I don’t think that is for the critters, but you never know!), AND they put in a wire grid down to the soil line of the outer fence. Persistent little bugger. It is eating whole string bean leaves down to nubs on the stalk. The big plastic owl-on-a-stick in the middle of the work garden does not appear to discourage them in the least. I added a motion-sensing smaller owl that goes “Whoo! Whoo-hoo!” when it senses something. I wonder if I can increase the volume on the bleepin’ thing? Or not. It is disconcerting enough to hear it go off every time my rump passes by it when weeding.

Home Landscape:
Weeds- 12 zillion, Grass- 16 blades
Overgrown Hedges Attack Passers-by

Housekeeping
…uh…let’s just not go there at all, okay? Obviously, I haven’t been!

Dog Details
Jakie is visiting and giving us ample opportunities to work with Duncan’s territorial behavior problems. I think we are making progress. They do best out walking together as a pack (thank you Caesar Milan!). In the house, Duncan has been beastly about the hoofs treats. They are collected up and put back in the doggy toy bin from time to time. Then they get pawed over and pulled out to be left for unsuspecting feet to trip over. All of them are his, apparently. Not.

Their summer cut grooming is done as best we can for as long as they will put up with it. At the moment Duncan is sporting one trimmed ear and the other very NOT trimmed. And one of his front legs looks like my legs do during the winter months when I rarely bother to shave: bushy compared to the other three.

So…where does that leave me? Oh right…how to get the final newsletter to the printer…gotcha.

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