Rhymes With Fuchsia

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Ten on Tuesday

Ten Things to Do Instead of Watching TV
  1. Knit. All right, unless I'm knitting something truly fiendish (like my second lace baby blanket), technically I can do this while watching TV, but at least if I'm also knitting I can feel slightly less vegetal.
  2. Spin. See above. I like to spin while watching baseball, because I have plenty of time between pitches to work on keeping my laceweight single as uniform as possible.
  3. Read. Almost since I learned to read I've been reading disquisitions on the superior virtue of reading to watching TV. Reading takes much more work, they say. It depends what you read, I guess; if I'm trying to unwind after a long day I'm more likely to pick up the last Spenser novel (it really is the last, alas) than The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.
  4. Waste time on the Internet.
  5. Clean house. Sadly for the state of my house, I'd rather do anything else on this list, even...
  6. Do yard work. I never get as much done as I would like, but it can be quite satisfying.
  7. Walk. I should do more. Can I count spinning as walking while sitting down? Even if I use just one foot?
  8. Berry. This does involve the presence of berries, of course; otherwise it's just a walk.
  9. Bake. Often after berrying.
  10. Blog, of course.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


(I have a new crop of scratches too, but you don't need to see them. And they were totally worth it.)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Ten on Tuesday


Ten Things to Take on a Camping Trip

Let me preface this list by saying that I don't find camping per se all that attractive. I enjoy the wonders of nature as much as the next person, but after a full day of great outdoors I would like to sleep in an actual bed under an actual solid leak-free roof, preferably with modern plumbing immediately available, by which I mean that I don't need to get fully dressed and leave shelter in order to use it. Call me a hothouse flower if you must. I'd make an exception if I had nowhere else to sleep, due to lack of either decent hostelry or funds. In the former case the scenery had better be drop-dead, and in the latter case I'd better have a really good reason to be there. My list presumes that I am miles from nowhere and must be prepared for anything.

  1. Tent, extremely waterproof, with fly and ground sheet ditto.
  2. Sleeping bag rated to 40 below. You understand that there's no way I'm going camping between September and May. Still, see above, prepared for anything.
  3. Camp stove and lantern(s) with plenty of fuel. All of my water will be thoroughly boiled. Scenery that doesn't include a body of fresh water by definition fails the drop-dead test.
  4. Heavy-duty pot with lid ditto. See above, thoroughly boiled.
  5. Food. In this category I'm not too picky; I can subsist for at least a week on beef jerky and cold cereal. Since I haven't fished in 30 years and have never shot a gun, I'm taking the minimum necessary foodstuffs with me.
  6. Bug spray and sunscreen. See above, if I insist on summer I'll have to be prepared for the standard hazards.
  7. Long underwear, several sets, preferably merino wool, and socks ditto. Since I brought the sunscreen I'm guaranteed at least one cold, damp day.
  8. First-aid kit.
  9. Knife and hatchet for campfire construction. Scenery that doesn't include trees by definition fails the drop-dead test.
  10. Camping companion(s). You didn't think I was going to carry all this by myself, did you?

Monday, July 19, 2010

Monday Maunderings

And the answer is: blackberry pie. I liked Carol's anwer the best for originality, and Joan's for common sense — although, strictly speaking, the picking was the hard part; once separated from the bush the blackberries had no problem with being eaten.

I hadn't been blackberrying in a couple of years, and the place (no, I'm not telling you where) is considerably more overgrown now, one of the thicker thickets I've fought my way through. The blackberry canes have grown over each other and the surrounding underbrush, sometimes forming very effective barbed-wire fencing around the berries, and occasionally up into trees, where the fruit is most unfairly too high for me to reach. I tell myself those belong to the birds, which was obviously the intention: if you're a plant seeking world dominion, make your fruit juicy, tasty and hard for flightless critters to reach, and your seeds will go far, just a few at a time. To paraphrase the old saying, a bird is just a plant's way of getting another plant.

People say "dense thicket," but no one ever says "thick thicket," understandably, I suppose. I actually looked up thicket earlier to see if it was from thick or another case of convergent semantics, but it is indeed etymologically more or less "thick place." Which the blackberry patch certainly is.

Only my husband would refer to the second baseman of a certain evil baseball team as Robinson "Arma Virumque" Cano.

This does not seem to be the Red Sox' year. It got to the point a few weeks ago where Grant said, "Varitek broke his foot," and I said, "you're just making that up." What would be next? Hail? Lightning? Plagues of locusts? Very nearly as bad: plagues of Rays and Rangers, and a tragedy of errors. I am not complaining (much), as I was certain six years ago that the Sox would never win a Series in my lifetime, they've won two since then, and it's probably someone else's turn. As long as it's not Voldemort's minions the Evil Em the Yankees.

We went down to Connecticut yesterday to visit Miss B at camp. I took the obligatory water picture — see, it's blue — and I refrained with difficulty from leaping the rope barrier and flinging myself into the coolth. Heaven only knows how much trouble I would have been in, but since there are signs all over the place saying "set a good example," such behavior would undoubtedly have been frowned upon.

Speaking of blue, I am at least nominally participating in the Tour de Fleece, and I have actually been spinning. Do you know anyone else who takes two years to spin a four-ounce braid of merino roving? I thought not. Still, progress has been made. I may not seize the coveted yellow jersey, but I'll climb as high as I can.

Finally, Conan (the Grammarian) would like to advise the copy-editing staff of the New York Times, assuming that there still is one, that no English possessive pronoun ever contains an apostrophe. When he interrupts my peaceful perusal of the Sunday magazine with screams of anguish, things have gone too far.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

A Riddle

What did we have for dessert tonight?

Friday, July 16, 2010


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Ten on Tuesday


Ten Things I Like about Where I Live

I'm taking "where I live" as meaning my house, my neighborhood, or my town, and I have some of each.
  1. We have a big flat back yard, great for running around and playing frisbee and practicing soccer in. We don't actually do any of these things all that often, but it's a great thing to have.
  2. Privacy. We can see one other house from our back deck, and even that's a blank wall through trees. I can wander out there for breakfast in my pj's if I so choose.
  3. We have a big oak tree next to our front walk. When we moved in I suggested having it taken out because it would block all the sun from the front yard; Grant vehemently opposed the idea, and I'm glad he did, because it's great to sit out there in the shade and watch the world go by. Speaking of which...
  4. We have great neighbors. We know some of them better than others, and some not at all, but we exchange waves with everyone walking by, and we look out for each other's kids.
  5. Conservation land borders our neighborhood on three sides. It's great for walking and contemplation and photography of any wildlife that will hold still long enough (this explains why most of my nature pix involve plants).
  6. We live within walking distance of a town park with a swimming pond. It's a small one, created basically by digging a big hole in the path of a brook and waiting for it to fill up, but when it's absurdly hot out one can go over there and fling oneself into it and be back home in half an hour.
  7. Our town is fairly small; after a while everyone starts to look familiar. I say hi to everyone I see at the store if I have the slightest suspicion that I might know them from somewhere, because I usually do. (Once in a while I end up in one of those conversations where I'm trying hard to conceal my failure to remember the other person's name; often it turns out that she can't remember mine either.)
  8. One place where people get to know each other is Town Meeting. Our town is just a little too big for TM to work comfortably, but it's still nice that everyone can talk about the issues and anyone can give a presentation as long as it's relevant and they get permission ahead of time. We also have local-access TV, so if during a routine meeting that we've decided not to attend a town crank (every town has at least one; we are blessed with several) proposes a spectacularly crackpot idea, we can get there in time to vote. Everyone's being aware of this cuts down on the crackpot ideas.
  9. Our town is pretty safe. People tend to know each other (see above) and look out for each other's kids. I don't push this too far, since predators are everywhere, but it's still a nice feeling.
  10. We have a great school system, to the point where as high school began to loom larger on the horizon I briefly flirted with the idea of sending Miss B to prep school, where the environment would be less competitive. The high school is a little bigger than I would like — I went to a four-year prep school with a total of about 275 kids — on the other hand, there's a lot going on, and no matter what her interests there will be other kids who share them.

Of course there are things I don't like too — there would be no matter where I lived — but they're far outweighed by the good things.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Thirteen on Thursday

This is what I get for missing Ten on Tuesday: I have to come up with three more to make the alliteration work.

Thirteen Ways to Have Fun in the Summer
  1. Go to the beach.
  2. Knit lace. It's certainly the only thing I can stand the thought of knitting right now.
  3. Go on vacation. Preferably next to a nice big cold body of water such as Rangeley Lake.
  4. Jump in a lake — or water body of your choice.
  5. Pick berries.
  6. Eat summer fruit, including berries, but also peaches, plums, nectarines... yum.
  7. Make pie. And eat it, of course. I count this as a subcategory of eating summer fruit; it's easier not to think of the calories that way.
  8. Cook out.
  9. Picnic. Pie for dessert!
  10. Dress scantily. Everything being relative, for me this generally means showing marginally more skin than a nun in full habit, but in the last few days I've definitely started to appreciate the joys of deshabille.
  11. Stop and smell the flowers.
  12. Take pictures of the flowers. I must have taken at least 300 so far this year, partly due to two (count 'em) visits to the Bridge of Flowers.
  13. Feel a refreshing breeze. I know there's one out there somewhere.
Stay cool.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Bittersweet End

Our first house had a teeny back yard with maybe six smallish trees in it, so when we moved into our second and current one I was enthralled with the big back yard and the woodland beyond, a mix of pines and maples with the occasional oak and birch. I was pleased to see that we even had a small festoon of bittersweet here and there, so that I would be able to make my own door decorations come autumn. Which, somehow, I never did, and though I noticed that the bittersweet grew and throve beyond all reason, I never did anything about that either.

Last week even Grant remarked on the fact that the bittersweet had gotten entirely above itself, and also above the pine trees it had climbed, and had taken to waving its tentacles about threateningly in the breeze. Whereupon, finally, I had had enough, and, taking our old handsaw and a pair of lopping shears I had bought with just such an occasion in mind, I went out to battle the beast.

Observe the two monster pythons curling up through the undergrowth. The good news was that I could free the pine trees from their devil's snare simply by sawing through these behemoths; the bad news was that I lacked the perseverance to sever the bigger one (in the rear; note to self: get saw sharpened), especially as by this time I was being dive-bombed by mosquito squadrons, and had to settle for girdling it.

It seems to have worked. Note the marked droopage in the second picture. Ordinarily I think of myself as a peaceable person, by no means bloodthirsty (sap-thirsty?), but the sight fills me with evil joy.