Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Turning The Page On August

Rain fell in the dark hours before dawn; gentle, steady rain, soaking into dry ground, quiet rain, without thunder, or thrashing wind; the sort of rain that refreshes late summer gardens without a damaging deluge. The air was heavy and still, grey clouds delaying the light of day. I checked the hummingbird feeders that dangle from the east porch eaves, but found that the heavy dampness didn't invite me to my usual place in the rocking chair.  I retreated inside to sip my mug of 'half caff' while watching the swirl of birds eager to feed in spite of the murky morning.

J. had arranged to meet a prospective truck buyer in town, which meant I had to follow in the car. 
I crunched a hasty slice of toast laden with the last of the chicken salad, brushed my teeth, snatched up purse and reading material, feeling that I was being jostled hastily into the day.

As it turned out, the 'buyer' arrived with $600 less than the 'bottom line' price J. had specified. He was a bulky man, not fitting comfortably behind the wheel of the truck. 
He left with the promise that he would try and procure the remainder of the price.
We had our doubts about that--verified when he later phoned to say he couldn't borrow the money.

J. had another errand in the next county, wanting to inspect a portable storage building that had been posted for sale. This meant I was still to trail behind in the car to a service plaza where he could park the truck. 
By the time J.'s dealings were completed and I was once again the driver of the car I realized I was on the verge of becoming irritable. J. roared out onto the highway but I waited a few seconds too long to safely follow him into the stream of traffic flowing from both directions. The driver behind me tooted his horn, and I felt annoyance surging. 
My way home was slow--an elderly Ford Ranger pickup was struggling to tow a small trailer with a pallet of lumber, slowing to barely 40 mph on every incline. 
Finally arriving at the house I decided that the energy from the morning slice of toast had long since departed; I hoped that lack of nourishment--and not shear cussedness--was at the root of my grumpy mood!  I served 'tea' to the cats while J. made phone calls, then it was decided we would drive to the Bread of Life Cafe and partake of the buffet. 

Pleasantly full of food--advertised as southern home cooking--I found that I didn't mind the rest of J.'s errands. The sun was breaking through clouds, the back roads past Beachy Amish farms, even the slow crawl behind lumbering farm machinery had a soothing and almost soporific calm.

New England asters drooping in the morning's rain.

Asters, prairie sage, achillea--all have outgrown their space in the raised bed that flanks the front walkway.

Finally, a few nasturtiums.

A row of small zinnias in the veg garden.

The Japanese beetles have had a longer than usual season, spoiling the roses for many weeks. 
They are giving up now, though not all vanquished. 
A bouquet of The Poet's Wife and Hawkeye Belle.

Howard and Dawn have welcomed a new kitten, rescued by Howard from his job site.
She is becoming Dawn's 'lap kitten' but also has a fondness for Howard's hair.


Monday, August 8, 2022


Today, Monday, as of 6 P.M., has been a day without rain! The sky darkened for a bit just after noon, but the possibility of another storm seems to have passed by.

We woke on Friday to a T-storm and a hard sluicing  rain. 
Saturday afternoon I sat reading on the east porch, aware of clouds moving across the sun. The wind began to pick up and within moments tree branches lashed about and a deluge hit. Water poured from the barn eaves, splashing onto the ground below; rain slanted against the windows, thunder rattled. 
The house cats dashed for their favorite hiding places.

The storm was over in less than an hour; twilight moved in quietly with a pale blue sky laden with fast moving clouds in shades of pearl grey. When I picked my way cautiously down the wet front steps at 9:30 p.m. [calling a cat, of course] the half moon hung bright above the trees that line the south ravine.

Sunday morning I pulled on my battered wellies, went out to pick the expected fresh crop of Roma beans. I knew there would be mud--the kind that quickly enlarges one's boots to gummy clodhoppers.
I wasn't thinking ahead to damaged sunflowers. 

I plant them each spring in a slightly different place in the garden--usually commandeering a row that won't interfere with J.'s gardening scheme. This year the sunflowers occupy nearly half a row behind the Roma beans, leaving them susceptible to wind that drives from the south-west. 
Two stalks had been battered nearly horizontal. 
I fetched a shovel and struggled to hold the tall plants upright while attempting to stabilize the roots with a packing of wet soil. J. came to assist, but we had no success. Shallow-rooted, heavy-headed, already beginning to wilt in the morning heat, the two most battered plants were doomed. I laid them out on the grass verge of the garden and brought out my clippers to save as many blooms as still had some freshness.

You can see the upheaval of soil where the plants were toppled. Others along the row are rather perilously canted. 
I dumped down my red harvesting buckets and trudged round back of the house to see how other plants had fared.
I consoled myself by leaning against the west wall and plucking small weeds from around the pinks, tweaked out grass that was invading the clumps of thyme planted around the trellis.
Reluctant to go back to the muddy veg garden, I waded into the daylilies that border the lawn beyond the east wall, began heaving out handfuls of witch grass and smart weed [polygonum] recklessly hurling the stalks behind me onto the lawn. 
By the time I reminded myself that my real remit was to pick the beans, I was aching, sweaty, impatient.
The beans filled two of the gallon buckets which we save after buying them filled with strawberries. 
I was picking from the last few plants in the row when Jim bellowed out the door, 'Come eat!'
He had fried potatoes with bits of onion and green pepper, added rounds of beef summer sausage, fried eggs. 
My much-needed shower had to wait--one doesn't disappoint the chef.

Sunflowers fascinate me. Perhaps in part this is because the large blooms allow one to plainly admire the various parts of the flower, to appreciate them from tight bud to the last petals clinging to the huge seed heads.
This morning there is a golden dusting of pollen on the oak table top. 
[I think J. was slightly offended to find it so near his plate.]

My simple camera doesn't do justice to the intricacy  of the blooms.
It was well that my gardening chores were finished by early afternoon. 
In the evening there was a repeat performance of crashing thunder and pelting rain. 
This morning I realized, gazing at empty hummingbird feeders, the wind had swung both feeders back and forth, sloshing syrup onto the ground below.

I know well that as I grumble about toppled flowers, muddy boots, a sodden garden, we have been spared the dreadful devastation of the floods in eastern Kentucky. 
We are such creatures of our familiar places. To have 'home' swept away, the landscape altered, possessions--and lives of humans and animals--tragically lost--has to be over-whelming. 

An extra bit of beauty to cheer us.
Rosie was very taken with the vase of sunflowers which she helped to arrange.

Rosie has lately considered that the dining table is a suitable place to sit or sprawl.

Cats shouldn't be 'allowed' on the table [should they?]
But she is Rosie and knows she is 'special!'


Monday, August 1, 2022

The End of {Another} July

Mornings have been dark during this prolonged spell of almost daily rain. Although still humid, last night's weather included a cool breeze. I left the connecting doors open to the sunroom and east porch [the cats enjoy prowling through the extra space] and raised the bedroom window. 
In the predawn gloom a chilly damp wind stirred the curtains, blew across my bed. 

In the first weeks after the summer solstice there seems little change in the daylight. The glow of sunset lingers well after 9 p.m. This past week I've suddenly noticed the diminishing hours of light. 

I picked one and a half gallons of Roma beans yesterday forenoon, gathered glossy green peppers, hurrying into the house barely ahead of yet another downpour.
The beans have been snipped and cut, tucked into the downstairs fridge to wait for the next picking --likely sometime on Tuesday--to have enough to justify using the pressure canner.

J. made several trips from the garden this morning with produce which he arranged on the table and requested that the peppers and beans be brought out to ad to his photo session.

Potatoes not quite as large as some harvests, likely due to the June drought, but the tops are down and with the ground staying soaked they need to be lifted.

Roma beans, rinsed under the outdoor spigot, ready to cut.

Sunflowers against a grey and foggy sky.

Mexican torch flower.
Included in my spring 2020 seed order from Select Seeds was a free packet of torch flowers. They were unfamiliar, but I started several plants in the greenhouse. Only two made it to transplantable size. I positioned one near the west wall in the wildflower garden under construction. It became a giant thing, leaning out of the raised bed, and in the fall it showered the surrounding area with seeds. I expected to have a raft of torch flower 'babies' appear in 2021. There was not one!
Scrabbling about during mid-June I noted that two plants had appeared amidst a jungle of lemon balm upstarts. I wonder at that dormancy of a year.

Several attempts to capture the dainty prairie sage didn't result in a clear photo. The blue is more intense and the flowers have the typical shape of those in the labiatae family. The leaves have an almost acrid scent.

The "Jane" magnolias in the front yard have been inspired by the recent rains. 
The resident hummingbirds find them attractive momentary perches during their hectic zooming flights. 

"One Drive" evidently pulls photos from my online storage and presents some daily.
These are some of the Mule Deer who were regular visitors at our last Wyoming property. It was not unusual to open the living room curtains in the morning and find a deer standing just outside the window.
You can see the pond in the background. 
The deer were quite fearless, even coming onto the front porch and eating the struggling plants I had set out in tubs.

A handsome creature.

I was also presented with this bed full of dear, now departed cats.
From left to right below the pillows: Raisin, Oscar, Mrs. Beasley. 
Snuggled together are Eggnog and Zelda with the short-lived Homer curled by himself. 
Raisin and Eggnog lived to move to Kentucky with us.

I spent half an hour today trolling through several years of my archived blog posts. Nothing changes greatly. Some years the drought has come in June as it has this summer; at other times June is a time of rain with the drought occurring through July and August. Seldom are we blessed with a season when rainfall is pleasantly moderated encouraging optimum growth in the garden. 

I noted that we have often been frustrated in raising beets; last year we had beets in abundance, this year several successive plantings haven't germinated. 
As to flowers, I usually have several large pots overflowing with nasturtiums. This year, a few early blooms from seeds that had over-wintered. Successive plantings this year have given me only a few frail seedlings, none of which have bloomed.
A dozen years of gardening in Kentucky [this is our 13th summer] have proven that the tomatoes are always going to succumb to blight during July. 
We soldier on through drought and deluge, either too stubborn or too optimistic to quit gardening.


August 1, 1941, Wedding

The Brandon Union, Brandon, Vermont
Friday, 08 August, 1941

McKenzie Lewis announces the marriage of his daughter,
Miss Beulah Eliza Lewis to Lawrence Gilbert Desjadon,
son of Mrs. S. D. Desjadon at Orwell, August 1.

Grampa Mac's entry in his diary for August 1, 1941 noted in his usual spare style: 
"August 1, 1941: " nice clear day, Beulah and Lawrence married, gone north. Finished north haying. "

[Thus was the mention of my parents' wedding and honeymoon trip to Ausable Chasm in upstate New York noted along with the weather of the day and the fact that the hay crop from the north meadow was in.]

The marriage of my parents wasn't a grand occasion; she was deeply involved from girlhood in the village Congregational Church, he was a Catholic of French Canadian lineage. Their vows were pledged at the Catholic Rectory and they came home from their brief wedding trip to set up housekeeping in three rooms of the farmhouse. In September Beulah returned to teaching in a local school.

The following weekend Beulah [Mother] was an attendant at the double wedding of her cousins Dortha and Lucille Hayes who married two brothers.
She wore a floor length gown of pink net with a square neckline embellished with grosgrain ribbon. Somewhere in my trove of vintage photos I have one of the wedding party--posed across the lawn of Hazycrest, a grand gathering of Hayes and Lamos families. My Dad, Larry, isn't in the picture--perhaps he was asked to record the event with a small Kodak Brownie camera.

Weddings of the day were often fairly quiet affairs taking place in the home of the bride, at the 'parsonage' or in the case of a still not so common union between Catholic and Protestant, in the Catholic rectory.
There is no indication from the brief announcement in the local paper who attended the young couple, what the bride wore, what flowers she might have carried or worn as a corsage.
I don't recall that I ever asked Mother for details. Although Beulah and Larry had been a courting couple for some time, the marriage may not have best pleased the families involved. 
Mother had a stunning navy blue crepe dress that she wore for 'best' for many years.  I suspect it may have been purchased with her quiet wedding in mind; a high round neck which would have shown off her double string of cultured pearls, a soft bodice and a folded cummerbund waistband, a swirling bias cut skirt. A small veiled hat, gloves, pumps, would have completed the outfit.

The 'north' destination for the honeymoon was a cabin near Ausable Caverns in upstate New York. Beulah took the photo of Larry posing on the rustic porch and another as he leaned casually against the car. Surely he would have taken a photo of his bride, but I've never seen it. The photo of her sitting on the bumper of the car is of the same vintage.

In 1991 family and friends gathered to honor Larry and Beulah on their  50th wedding anniversary. While Daddy appears to be enjoying the occasion Mother's face conveys her usual disinclination to pose for a photo.
Beulah died a few weeks past their 66th anniversary; Larry's death followed hers two years and a day later.

[An error was made in the newspaper report: Larry's mother was Mrs. S.J. Desjadon.]