Friday, August 31, 2012

Blue Moon

It's the end of summer.  Labor Day weekend is here and the crowds are out.  Not to mention this year there is a blue moon, the second full moon of the month.  You think there is a little craziness in the air?  Oh, yeah, you better believe it.  We braved the scene early and feasted at Bostwick's, then down to our favorite spot for a stroll before going home and avoiding the world as much as we can for the next few days.  We stopped and marveled at the sea and evening sky.  Every time we have the same reaction.  We get our pictures and feel the wind in our faces and give each other a hug and kiss.  One of us usually breaks the silence with "This is home", and our smiles grow. You all have a great long weekend making each other nuts, we'll be at home if you need us.  

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

tropical Hibiscus

I imagine it stems from that inherent want to grow things that don't live in our natural habitat, our love and fascination with different tropical plants.  At the end of the summer season "tropicals" go on sale at the local nurseries and every time I wish I had enough space and light to over-winter these fabulous makers of showy, colorful flowers like this Hibiscus.  Such a testament to summer...

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

evening meditation

kitchen window

It's amazing how much more fun it is to do dishes when you are looking out a window at green, at your own backyard.  Chores turned triumphant.

insane Zinnia courtesy of the one and only Nisse Hope.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Ocean City, MD (summer vacation 2012)

It was my first time out of New York in months and months, not to mention our first vacation since March, so we were thrilled to hit the open road.
The sign on this truck advertised Young and Fresh Chickens. We chose to disagree.
My wife grew up going to Ocean City, Maryland with her family for summer vacations as a kid but it was my first time.  Thanks to my sister-in-law masterminding a great house rental in Ocean Pines we got to spend three days with the whole fam living it up.
Even in Ocean City, MD ...clowns are creepy.
My wife and our (not so little anymore) niece on one of the many rides.
Krissy and I would ourselves seek some thrills, like the Tidal Wave!  A little late in the game we realized we really haven't been on a rollercoaster in a long, LONG time, but we still had a blast.
The newest niece, Kiera, with papa Jerome while momma Kate and sister Janaya enjoyed another ride.
Our house rental was right on the water, so serene and comfortable.

We got to the beach a bunch of times and perhaps most psyched of all was our little Janaya, quickly becoming the cutest little surfer girl.
So great to spend time with family.  Above is Krissy and Kiera and Jerome and 'Naya below.

We weren't expecting such good surf while down there so we were loving the body surfing.
The crowds were out but everyone seemed to be down-to-earth and having the right attitude which was a relief.
On day #2 the vacation gods made fresh fruit cocktails that rocked our world.
Beach fun with the boardwalk right at our fingertips provided no lack of things to do and trouble to get into.

A napping Kiera, with the most precious eyelashes...
We walked the boardwalk a lot and enjoyed great adventures and people watching every time, but at night it took on a whole new persona. fun. Whatever age you feel like a kid again, mesmerized by the sights and sounds and awe-some-ness of it all.

We had to have a drink at the Purple Moose Saloon because what are you going to do?  NOT have a drink at a place called the Purple Moose??  

Back at the house we eventually had to have a traditional Maryland crab feast.  This is the lead-up.

Then we got down to business.  Half a bushel thanks to my father-in-law.
They were pros, and taught me quick, and we all had a ball!
The days went fast and before we knew it we had to say goodbye and head back to New York, but it really made all the difference to get out of our routine for a few days and see the rest of our loved ones.

A final killer meal, in this case courtesy of another OC MD staple, the dough roller.  Holy cow was that an amazing breakfast.  Fortified us for the 7 hour trek home.
Thanks Ocean City, MD, you're a fab town!!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

happy barbeque

I think we figured out that the last time we had a party was five years ago, in a one-bedroom place in Queens we called "the shanty".  We finally felt settled in the new house enough to open the doors and invite over some of our favorite local folks.  Wrapping up our week, complete with Summer Vacation 2012, we got home from work on Sunday evening and quickly got to prepping.  What ensued would be a great gathering of friends from all aspects of our lives, together and having a good time in the back yard as we snacked and grilled and drank to our hearts delight.  It was a wonderful evening and we thank everyone for coming over and helping us properly christen our new home.  Special thanks to Jose who couldn't make it but still hooked us up with this killer cake which has been satisfying the sugar fix steady since then.  A Happy Barbeque it was, and the first of many good times to come in our comfy home. 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Rozanne and Dusty Miller

I realized I haven't posted pics of the new garden yet.  It's coming together, what with limited budget and lack of free time.  This is a combination I quickly fell in love with.  The perennial Geranium 'Rozanne' will stay low and spread far and wide with it's wonderful little blue-purple flowers, a perfect edging plant for the new foundation planting.  The dusty miller (Artemisia stelleriana) is the fabulous silver foliage in the background that only thrives in my lousy, sandy soil.

To have my own garden after thirteen years in the industry I am beside myself, as you might imagine.  So don't worry, plenty of more pics from the home garden will follow.  For me it's about process, the adventure and what you learn from it that makes you a different person than you were before.  Of course that being said I want the garden to be better and bigger and faster growing already.  I suppose one of the reasons I love horticulture so is because it teaches me about patience.  I am always quick to remind people that "time takes time", and I see now how much I need to listen to my own advice.  The challenge will be to post the imperfect pics since I've only become more of a perfectionist.  But we'll get there.

the Asclepias and the chrysalis

Monarch chrysalis
East Hampton
August 2012

 A few weeks ago I added some Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly Weed) to the garden.  A great sun-loving perennial, deer resistant and loved by butterflies, they grow to a couple feet and produce clusters of these bright orange flowers.  To the left of the flower you can see the interesting seed pods that follow the flower.  

Then one evening I was out back watering and to my surprise I found a number of caterpillars going to town on the foliage and seed pods of the butterfly weed.  Right away I knew they were Monarch Butterfly caterpillars.  As a child one of the all-time best teachers in early grade school was a woman named Sister Pat. I remember one year she raised monarch butterflies in her classroom, starting with the caterpillars eating some kind of milkweed (also Asclepias).  To be a little kid and see how this caterpillar metamorphosized into this beautiful monarch butterfly we would then draw and write about obviously stuck with me for years.  I am sure I had a boyish response of glee upon seeing these three characters chomping away at my perennials.
Of course it really is the chrysalis that the caterpillar envelopes itself in that is the stunning thing.  A vibrant green the chrysalis can often go unseen in the landscape, but then just for fun there is that delicate band of gold that let's you know something amazing is about to unfold.  In my case I thought it was hysterical that of all places the caterpillar decided the deer-repellent mesh over my tomato plants was prime real estate.
The second caterpillar was also already in chrysalis form, in this case on one of the bamboo tomato stakes.

I guess the third caterpillar had a bit more of an appetite than his two buddies.  Needless to say I will be thrilled to keep an eye on the metamorphosis these three go through and hopefully it means there will be some killer monarch butterfly shots coming by late summer.  If I remember correctly, you know, from first grade, the butterflies should emerge from their cocoons in a couple weeks time.

Asclepias tuberosa, a great addition to your garden that will grow more than just flowers.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Lilium orientalis 'Casablanca'

 At work we have had these Casablanca Lilies for the last week or so.  Their fragrance is remarkably strong and sweet and intoxicating.  At the end of the day yesterday I caved and brought one home.  They are total deer candy out here in my neck of the woods but I couldn't resist.  Not sure where it will live down the road but for now it is situated on the porch, the fragrance inundating the space and gently wafting in to sweeten the living room just the right amount.  ...simply delicious.

Monday, August 6, 2012

three beaches, one love

It was a long, hot day.  We had sweated through another workday in the new life and were tired.  A friend said he was going surfing so we rallied, packed the boards in the car, and drove east.  I realized that we hadn't been to the beach enough recently even though I had been assuring people I had.  Lying to yourself is the worst kind of lying.
Our surf adventures in Montauk are our natural therapy.  It's like hitting the "reset" button.  The water rushes over you.  You rush over the water.  The day washes away.  You want to capture the moment.

A couple days later it was even hotter.  August has shown up, with it's heat and humidity and crowds of people behaving badly.  You curse the disrespectful and thank the real folk and go about your business.  Time to hit the reset button again so we bounced south to our home break.  It was swim o'clock.

My wife said as long as the weather is like this we should swim in the ocean every night after work.  We quickly realized the condition of the weather was of little concern, it was about getting to the beach as much as we can in August.  A noble challenge to go with our new life.
The next night we swam again, but the phone stayed in the car.

Today we heard there was clean surf so after the necessary day off errands we hit one of the hot spots.  We wanted so badly to surf but the current was still strong and our boards weren't right for how the waves were pitching and dumping on the shallow water.  We were frustrated at first but got over it.  It was another day, and we were taking another swim, so far conquering our August challenge in style.  We body surfed and got ounces of sand in our hair but the smiles only grew, the sighs only deepened.  Back on land all we had to do was see each others face and that said it all so we just basked in the sun and watched the sea before retreating home.

We worked hard to get here.  And are working hard to be here and figure it out.  But this is the life.