Thursday, March 31, 2011

More Garden Tour

When we had the outside of the house re shingled in 2009 we had a small (8x8) deck put on. It's only big enough for 2 people to sit on, plus some plants, which was the primary purpose, rather than a big "party deck" for entertaining. On a warm summer's evening or weekend morning we enjoy sitting at the little table and enjoying a cup of coffee or meal al fresco.

I've been keeping a watchful eye on the birdhouse every time I'm doing work outside; no viewings to date that I've seen. I seem to remember last year several varieties of birds popping in and out a few times each, checking the house out. I'm hoping it won't go unoccupied this year. Maybe everything is just that much later due to all the snow and cold weather we've had? There is snow in the forecast tomorrow, too. I guess I wouldn't feel much like constructing a nest, either.

I love having little figures and statues around the garden - but no garden gnomes here! This is Easter Island Man with a bunch of daffodils coming up behind him. I'll have to take photos of the other statuary: a turtle, 2 cats, a bunny and a couple of owls.

The gardens are ready to go! Now if only the weather would cooperate and warm up a bit. I received the seed potatoes yesterday and set them out on the 3-season porch to chit. I'm hoping for a nice crop this year; Yukon golds and some red variety which I can't remember the name of right now. Yum! The seedlings were transplanted into larger pots yesterday and all seem to have survived.

This is my favorite spot to sit in the early morning and have my coffee. Joe and Wilson gave me this garden bench for Mother's Day many years ago; I love the weathered look. Next to the bench is a "Miss Kim" miniature lilac bush which I picked up at Home Depot last year on the cheap. There's also a wine box planter and stone owl keeping watch.

To the left of the bench is the back basement steps which leads to my little potting area. I've kept several potted plants there this winter for protection, and all seem to have survived. I'll have to feature that space in another post. Joe built me a brick counter where I can play with the dirt and pots in a sheltered area under the 3-season porch.

I have so many more photos of little yard highlights, but blogger only lets me post 5 at a time. There will be future garden posts as things begin to grow and green up.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Walk With Me

I've read that cats are very in attached to where they live, so much so that if you move and don't keep your cat inside for a few weeks for him to become accustomed to their new "territory" they will try to make their way back to their old home. It's thought to have something to do with the magnetic fields of the earth, but to me it sounds like cats just have a very sophisticated internal GPS that drives them to return to where they consider "home".

Although I enjoy traveling to different places, I am very cat-like in that my absolute favorite place on earth is the little 5000 square foot piece of the earth that is ours. I love our home and yard better than any place else on earth. Yes, waterfront mansions are impressive with their views and floor plans that are as big as our entire property, but if push came to shove I'd pick our little house and gardens any day.

Technically it is spring, but you'd never know it by walking around the yard, which is what I did this morning with my camera. If you drive or walk down our street and stop in front of our house this is what you'll see:

Because the garage is underneath
the house, one of our cars is always in the driveway. I always
thought it was strange to have a garage where there should be basement, but have found that it's nice in the winter; our garage and basement aren't heated, but unless the temperature goes well below zero outside, it stays above freezing in the garage. So much nicer to get into a 40 degree car than a 12 degree one!

To the right of the driveway and big oak tree
with the climbing hydrangea on it, there is a pathway that leads up to the side kitchen door. If you walk around the stairs, you'll follow a wood-chipped path that will take you to the back yard.

Along the side foundation there are various perennials, a rhodie, birdbath and a few herbs.

A few crocus that have escaped the hungry squirrels. They even had the audacity to leave a few chewed purple leaves and saffron tassels in the birdbath. Have they no shame?!

Further down the path is a lilac that just last year produced its first fragrant blooms. The white fence was trash-picked (I prefer the term "up-cycled") and installed to hide the compost bins. Although they do good work, they aren't very pretty.

The lowly bins and other various gardening paraphernalia.

The tour will continue with the rest of the back yard tomorrow. Please stay tuned.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Long Time Coming

When I look at the date of my last post, I'm shocked to see it is from the beginning of February. Nearly 2 months! It isn't that there haven't been things, both good and bad, that have been going on. There has been plenty of material about which to write, but for some unknown reason, I haven't been able to put anything down. I'll use the Reader's Digest format to update life events to the present.

Bathroom Renovation: Done!

New vanity and linen tower. Oh, the storage!

Toilet nook.

Millie enjoying the radiator heat. Shower to the left, toilet behind the door.

The bathroom is completed, exactly 5 weeks after starting the project. I'm thrilled with the results; we have so much more useable storage, a more spacious floor plan, larger shower and far prettier room with more light. Morning and evening rituals are now a pleasure to be enjoyed rather than necessities to be rushed through as quickly as possible. Hopefully this will be the last home renovation we need to do for quite some time.


After limping through most of the fall and winter not feeling 100%, I was finally unwell enough to realize I needed a hospitalization. Well, actually, it took my docs to point that out to me, as usual. Even after being admitted, I told Joe: "I really don't think I need to be here".

Surprise! I did. It was actually a good thing. Lots of diagnostics, specialists and time to rest sorted a few things out. The IV antibiotics did their job and my lungs are now in better shape than they were prior to going in. The new medication, Revatio, the pulmonary hypertension specialist started me on back in January seems to have kicked in; I'm less short of breath with activity. A cardiologist ordered an echo and 24 hour heart monitor (both results still pending) but was able to explain the seemingly unexplainable test I had last August. Short version: it seems that I have some new abnormality with my vasculature in which the vessels don't dilate as they should when I exercise, causing my blood pressure to skyrocket. This, in turn, puts pressure on my heart, which is pumping against abnormally high resistance and causes the left ventricular dysfunction (cardiomyopathy). In addition, the vessels between the heart and lungs have a much higher than normal pressure when I exercise, also known as exercise induced pulmonary hypertension - EIPH for short. Now it all makes sense and I feel that there is a good team of docs in place who are able to treat these interrelated issues. Unfortunately, no one specialist covers all 3 things so there is a pulmonologist to treat the lung disease, one to treat the pulmonary hypertension and then a cardiologist to treat the systemic hypertension and cardiomyopathy. Bring them on, the more the merrier, I say.

The good news is that 2 weeks after discharge, I'm able to exercise closer to my previous baseline than I had been in the past 6 months. There has been an enormous amount of deconditioning which will take months to recover, but at least I have the energy and ability to do it now. Weights 4 days a week, yoga once a week and treadmill/walk at least 5 times a week- without fail. Time to get in touch with my inner drill sargent!


While I was in MGH all the snow melted, something I wouldn't have believed could happen in a 2 week period. Miracles never cease to amaze me. We were treated to several 50-70 degree days in which I was able to clean up about 1/2 the yard's leaves that had been buried all winter. The temps have turned colder this week and we've had flurries several days so no yard work this week; fortunately these things will keep.

I had planted a tray of seeds prior to being admitted and Joe dutifully watered them while I was away; I have broccoli, peppers, eggplant, tomatoes and lettuce to look forward to planting out in a few weeks! He also treated me to a tumbling composter as a welcome home gift- which is now loaded up with the leaves and kitchen scraps from the past 2 weeks. More black gold for the garden, there's never too much of a good thing.

The crocus are very late in blooming this year due to the late departure of all the snow. We actually have snowdrops out now- at least a month later than usual- but no less welcome. I'll take any sign of spring no matter how delayed at this point. Next week is supposed to be a tad warmer (40s) so I'll be sure to get out and photograph what is going on in the gardens. It's good to be back.