Surely there must have been an entire 24 hour span recently when it didn't rain [?]
Looking back on the week and a half since we returned from the wedding, I can't pinpoint a whole day or night without heavy bursts of intermittent deluge.
A few mid-morning hours of blue sky and puffy white clouds promising a clear day, give way to darkness and the sudden pounding of rain on the roof.
The rugosas and the rose of Sharon at the side edge of the porch have bowed under the force of rain.
The woods beyond the upper drive are wrapped in mist and moisture.
Weeds have grown apace and the garden is too soggy for proper weeding or tilling.
Jim used the weed whacker to trim back weeds and let air circulate around plants.
The few perennials I have planted were being splattered with wet soil with each shower, while the bags of mulch purchased days ago lay in a lumpish pile on the porch of the workshop.
I decided during a break of steamy sunshine to work from the lower edge of the perennial strip, standing on the clipped area below the terraced bed to fling handfuls of shredded bark mulch around the plants. I tucked in a few seedlings--signet marigolds and coneflowers hoping that the shade and moisture of the current weather will give them a chance to settle in.
This end of the enclosed area is still rough with weeds. I've hacked away with a sturdy 3-prong 'digger' attempting to loosen the soil so that I can tweek out the persistent turnip seedlings that are a legacy of the 'cover crop' that apparently came in with the topsoil.
I've had several sessions of transplanting--mostly lavender and foxgloves. I planted a white variety and the deep rose perennial variety from my saved seeds.
It would seem that every miniscule seed germinated.
Foxglove seem to be slow growers, but at my former location the seedlings established well from an early autumn move to the garden.
My presence on the porch, fussing about with buckets of soil mix, trays and pots usually inspires at least one cat to offer assistance.
Bobby Mac has positioned himself where he can keep me company and also observe the hummingbird feeder.
Indoors, I have at least made a beginning on curtains for the living room which has four windows.
I finished three panels, but when I spread the roll of fabric to measure and cut for more, I attracted a helpful crew.
I didn't settle well to this project. By the time I had collected my sewing tools, scrubbed garden soil from under my fingernails, it was time to prepare supper.
I removed the cats, re-rolled the fabric and retreated to my rocking chair with a book while another dose of rain slatted against the windows.
On Sunday afternoon, moving gingerly along the rows, heels sinking into soggy soil, I picked the first of the green beans.
Here they are in a bath of cold water--many had been splashed with mud.
One can do nothing but endure unfavorable weather.
Sheets and towels optimistically pegged on the line, must be brought inside to the tumble dryer; windows opened to let in a fresh breeze must be hastily slammed shut as thunder rumbles and a fresh onslaught of rain comes down.
The forecast calls for rain to continue in spurts through the weekend!
The little brook which borders the lane, dry and quiet since late spring, now gurgles with an infilling of water; the landscape is green--eerily green through mid-day darkness--and I view the tangle of lank growth--weeds, vines, wildflowers--with the sense that we must rush out during moments of sunshine to hack away lest we be smothered in unwanted foliage.
Jim charges about with the bush hog behind the tractor or on the riding mower attempting to keep the verges of the lane clipped and the small pasture from being over run.
The wire fences have become trellises supporting honeysuckle and a rampaging vine for which I have no name.
The lower farmhouse, blanketed in early morning mist.
When the power company installed electric lines in March, we were told our house is about 900 feet up the private lane from the road.
I have struggled with the math and have a somewhat shaky concept of this as approximately 1/6 of a mile. Thus to walk a mile a day I would need to go up and down the lane...how many times?
At one point my feeble calculations suggested that the end of the mile would land me at the mailbox rather than at the house.
Jim roars up and down the lane with his 4 wheeler--often with tools or such in the carrier he has strapped on the back.
I could take the van or car--but nearly always trudge along afoot. I walk to the mailbox to collect the mail. Sometimes I take a 'smoothie' or a cold drink for Jim; sometimes I head down to see and appreciate the progress he is making on the house.
Messages have to be carried down, as we have no cell phone reception here in the 'hills and hollers.'
I have strolled down the lane to pick strawberries, and sometimes to help with painting and such.
It is good exercise and gives me a chance to enjoy the sights, sounds and scents along the way.
One day last week I took my camera.
In the week of hot weather punctuated with rains, flowers and grasses along the way quickly alter.
Daisies flourish in clumps on the side hill near the house and in the hedgerows along the lane.
A fence post wears a mad cap of woodbine.
Jim used the bush hog to cut the hay in the pasture that so briefly held Pebbles.
I have thought the dried pods twined on the fence were milkweed.
Seeing this vine, I'm now puzzled regarding identity.
Petals have fallen from the daisies along the fence that borders the brook.
It appears to be a seasonal brook--chortling over the stony bed during the heavy spring rains, now nearly dry.
Blackberries grow along the fence in thorny profusion.
I am wary of plunging into that thicket of brambles when the berries ripen.
This is the spot where I saw the rough green snake draped gracefully over the wire.
A tattered butterfly alights on a fragrant red clover.
Wild grapevine unfolds glossy leaves and clambers up the fence.
Queen Anne's lace bows in the wind.
The upper reach of the lane divides as the ground slopes upward.
The longer stretch runs between the workshop and the basement level of the house;
The drive to the front door on the upper level climbs the steeper way past the sweet gum tree with its dead top spire, runs along the cement retaining wall where Amish visitors to the former owners hitched their horses and buggies.
The drive fans out at the back of the house creating a parking area near the small stable and loops back down to the lower drive.
Puffing up the hill with the mail tucked under one arm, or carrying a bowl of berries, I raise my eyes to the house.
The window farthest to the right in the upper story is in our bedroom. The center window is in the master bathroom--still a work in progress. The left hand window and the nearest one on the long side of the house denotes a small room adjoining the bathroom. We are calling it a 'dressing room'--which sounds a bit too grand.
The walk-in shower will be there, a towering cupboard for linens, various storage pieces.
There is much to be done--and the work goes more slowly than I anticipated--mainly because Jim needed to carry out renovations in the lower house before finishing our own.
Unfinished, with much to sort, still it is feeling like home.
I see that I had loaded these photos days ago, then not added words.
I'm a bit surprised to see that it has been nearly a month since I created a post.
I've slapped a photo or two on my Face Book page, made a few brief comments, all the while missing the centering that comes from sorting my thoughts into whole sentences and paragraphs.
For over a year now, I've had a sense of striving to keep up--a sense of being unsettled.
We are working on our third house renovation and adjusting to the second move within that year.
I daresay that could account for the scattered and sometimes witless impression of spinning in
The heavy crop of strawberries has now finished--it must have been perfect strawberry weather--enough gentle rain, warm days, resulting in berries to be picked and prepared for freezing nearly every day for a month.
We have eaten our share--on shortcake biscuits, on lemon cake, sponge cake--eaten them on waffles for breakfast. At last count, 50 + plus quarts have been stashed in the freezer to be enjoyed in the cold months of winter.
I have kept the smaller of my two sewing machines [the Elna] set up on the table in the dining alcove.
I unearthed a stack of curtain fabric, losing a frustrating amount of time rummaging about in bins, finding elusive chunks of yardage in the basement room where oddments have been heaped. These were pieces of fabric which I was sure were in the bins stacked in my yet to be wired sewing room.
The first window to be curtained was the east one in the pantry. The window is not due east--in fact the house sits between the two wooded ridges catty-corner to the points of the compass.
This window does catch the brunt of the morning sun bouncing off the shiny roof of the shop which is a few yards across the graveled drive at the lower level entry.
I dragged out a pair of lined curtains which were made to hang in the entry of our last Wyoming house. I ripped off a border along the center edges of the panels, refinished the lining and hems, and achieved a rather gaudy but effective hanging for the pantry.
The pantry shelves appear to have been cobbled together by someone who was less than a skilled carpenter.
The walls were painted in the ubiquitous blue semi-gloss favored by the Amish, odd bits of 'trim' were haphazardly nailed to support the sturdy wooden shelves.
At some point Jim will rework the shelving for me.
I have always appreciated the convenience of a pantry.
The New England farmhouses of my youth had them--some small and simple, others rather grandly arranged with shelves and high cupboards to hold the stores a rural family needed for the long winters when trips to the market would be few and far between.
Jim incorporated pantries into the design of the Wyoming houses.
My collection of large crocks cannot be arranged above the kitchen cabinets which reach tight to the 8 ft ceiling.
For now, they are ranged on the floor in a corner of the pantry.
The repurposing of the curtains and tidying of the pantry shelves took up most of a morning.
I wish I could account for the hours of other days.
I've made lined valances for the master bedroom, shortened two pairs of charity shop curtains to fit under the printed toppers--soft creamy cotton in a loose weave.
I made curtains for the adjoining bathroom--while I couldn't match the fabric of the altered curtains, the off white cotton which I had in my stash goes well.
I have sanded and applied polyurethane to two vanities and a set of drawers for the bathrooms of the lower farmhouse.
I have pottered in the garden, setting out perennials.
Fussing over seedlings on the side porch.
My three small rosemarys have been given fresh soil, the tiny lavenders pricked out and established in a motley collection of pots and old plastic trays.
It is a season that rushes from springtime to full blown summer heat.
I have been known life-long for my horror of snakes. When one crosses my
path, I instantly screech loudly and levitate.
The presence of a certain shaped stick on the trail or the shuffling of
dry leaves in the woods, a length of faded baler twine flung onto the
verge of the roadside--all these are apt to provoke the same reaction of
I mentioned this once to an elderly friend who nodded sagely and
remarked, "We are daughters of Eve, and the remembrance of the serpent
Trudging up the lane this noon, an over-filled bowl of strawberries
clutched in sticky paws, I scanned the shrubbery along the fence line,
wondering if I would again see the Brown Thrashers who have been busily
building their nests amongst the willows
It was a surprise to note the length of supple green draped horizontally
on a section of the wire.
I knew that it was a snake.
Strangely, its presence a few feet away didn't inspire me to scream,
spill the berries, and take flight. As I watched, the snake moved
slowly, gliding toward a clump of blackberry bushes.
At the house Jim was unloading the colanders and bowls full of
strawberries which he had carefully conveyed on the 4-wheeler.
'There's a strange snake down the lane, " I announced.
"What kind of a snake? What color?"
"Bright green," I replied, heading inside for my camera. "I think you
should have a look."
We headed back down the lane on the 4-wheeler. I directed Jim to stop a
few yards behind where the snake had been.
At first I thought it had departed, then we spied it resting gracefully
beyond the next fence post. At the last minute my deeply ingrained
wariness of all serpent-kind revived and I thrust my camera into Jim's hand.
The slender green snake was cooperative. My camera operates differently
from Jim's and the green creature waited patiently, seeming undisturbed
by our proximity, while Jim fiddled with buttons and I coached from a
The snake slid along the fence, wound downward through the brambles,
poked its head out inquiringly when Jim gently waved his cap a few
My tentative identification was smooth green snake [Opheodrys Vernalis]
--although I went on to read about its 'cousin' the rough green snake
[Opheodrys Aestivus.] The differentiating factor is 'keeled dorsal
scales' on the rough green snake. Our neighbor, Jay Rose, assured me
that the rough green is a local species.
The description of 'keeled scales' stayed with me as we hulled, sliced
and packaged 18 quarts of strawberries for the freezer.
With the berries tidied away, I braced myself to endure a close up photo
online of a serpent with keeled scales--oval scales with a distinctive ridge
down the center.
Zooming in on my photos in Picasa, I determined that our resident snake
does indeed wear keeled scales.
I'm under no illusion that this interesting encounter will alter my
reaction to snakes in general. I will continue to leave the room if one
shows up on the TV screen. I will surely yelp and jump if I even
imagine one is lurking in my path. I will be reluctant to harvest the
blackberries when they ripen knowing that our rough green snake has laid
claim to the fence along the lane.