Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A Couple Days in Boston...

courtesy of the EPA (thank you to all the federal tax payers out there) which provided the members of the New England Municipal Sustainability Network with lodging at the Marriott, conveniently located across from the aquarium.  Obviously Michael and Anna joined me on this business trip.  I worked on climate adaptation planning issues, they spent quality time with the penguins, jellyfish and octopus, we all had dinner at Faneuil Hall, and Anna made good use of the pool by doing a ballet class.  The view of Boston Harbor from our room was just beautiful.
It was a nice little trip for all of us!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Catching Up

The last three weeks have been a whirlwind of tying up loose ends, weather events, new faces and places, meetings, illness (Little Miss Anna), and a lot of driving.  Let's start on October 27, the date of our first snow of the year.
It looked magical at night when the snow first started and by the time the sun came up the next morning, there was an inch or so of wet snow.  I though Anna would be thrilled (Crash was, running around licking the snow), but she said "Eh," knowing that more snow was on the way.  And we had plans to go to our favorite ballet store in Newton.  Definitely more interesting than a touch of snow.
New pointe shoe ribbons were sewn, Nutcracker rehearsals were attended, and we were ready to leave for Concord directly from ballet on Saturday afternoon, even though the snow had started.  After we passed the third car off the road, as well as a police cruiser being towed out of a ditch, we decided to head home to Leverett instead, scrapping all plans of cleaning the apartment from top to bottom before the start of my new job and hitting the outlet shops for some new work clothes (Planning Departments have significantly higher standards of dress than construction companies!)
The power went off at around 8:30 pm.  No big deal, we have candles, the house was warm enough to last through the night, and we had already eaten dinner, so there was no need to open the fridge.  Sunday morning, there was well over a foot of really heavy, wet snow and about a dozen trees and/or large limbs down, many on our sheep fencing, three in our driveway, but fortunately nothing fell on the house, sheep shed or our cars.  And the power was still out. 
After enjoying some play time in the snow, marveling at both the beauty and the destructive power of nature and assuming everything would be back to normal soon enough, Anna and I left (again) for Concord.  It became very clear, very quickly from driving on the roads - there were definitely some scary moments driving under trees and power lines - that there wouldn't be power in our area for days.
Michael drove up to Concord to take me out to dinner on my first day at the new job, but had to head back to MA the same night to hold down the fort and bring water from UMass to our animals every day since our well pump had run out of water the night before.  UMass also opened one of the gyms so people without power could take showers.  Rashonda joined us in Concord the next day, sick and tired of having to drive around in her car from time to time to warm up and charge her iPhone.  Power was finally restored after 6 long, cold days.  Well, cold for Michael.
My first week at my new job in Concord was busy.  Meetings every day and some evenings.  Having Rashonda and Anna unexpectedly with me all week made the transition easier and much more lively.  Anna tried out a back-up ballet school for when she's with me in Concord, which uses the same ballet syllabus (Vaganova) that Rose and Charles use.  Consistency is important and the girls in her classes were so friendly and kind.  Homeschooling fell by the wayside.  There's always next week...

Not so.  Anna had been feeling mildly under the weather for a couple weeks, and after driving home, spending the weekend cleaning up after the storm, driving back to Concord, doing a little cleaning at the apartment (still not done), I went to work, attended many, many meetings and by Tuesday morning Anna was burning up and could barely get out of bed.  Seventh day on the job and I left early to drive Anna back to MA to our usual doctor's office, not wanting to have to pick a doctor in the Concord area under these circumstances.  She had an ear infection and strep.  That would explain why she was feeling so miserable.
Two days of rest at home with her Tiger to snuggle, plus amoxicillin, and Little Miss Anna was feeling much better.  So much better that when I got back home for the weekend we were able to clean the sheep shed and the chicken coop, scrub all the water and food buckets, finish stripping lavender for sachets (yes Joelle, that's the lavender we picked at your house a couple months ago!), clean and organize the utility room, get out the Christmas decorations, and, most importantly, celebrate Rashonda's birthday.
I'm just winding up my third week at my new job, still feeling very unsettled because we haven't been able to fall into a regular schedule of time at home and time in Concord, and really looking forward to heading back to Leverett for what will be the official start (a very late start, for us) of the Christmas Decorating with Anna.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

R.I.P. Buttercup

Buttercup, the last of our three runner ducks, died on Monday morning.  She was the sweetest of all our pets.

We Heart Ducks (Buttercup is behind Jemima)
Anna, Natasha and the Ducks
Baby Ducks
Duck Girl
Looking a Bit Skeptical
Among Her Chicken Friends
Yum, freshly planted flowers!
Taking a Dip
Always on the Move
Enjoying a Warm Shower
Best Buddies
Eating Peaches
Sweetest Duck in the World

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

I Write My Blog

Awesome video by my dear friend Gideon, a gifted cellist and non-blogger with a great sense of humor...

Maybe I should be offended?  But I crack up every time I watch it!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Garden Woes and Beechnuts

This has not been the best year for plants.  The beginning of the growing season was cool and wet.  Then nearly 3 weeks with no rain and very high temps.  Then wet, wet weather again.  We have battled powdery mildew on our Rudbeckia - cutting out the worst stems, spraying with neem oil every week.  It spread to our tomatoes, although now I'm wondering if they don't also have a wilt.  Then we noticed that something was defoliating and eating the fruit on some of our pepper plants.  Now, we have always had excellent luck with peppers, even getting a second flowering and fruiting by potting up the plants and bringing them inside just before the first frost, so this was especially demoralizing.  The culprit?  Tobacco hornworm.
This one was 4 inches long.  I didn't measure his juicy girth.  I looked at those pepper plants so many times over the past week, it's hard to believe I missed something this big and disgusting.  Actually, as I described it over dinner, beyond disgusting.  Anna's friend Natasha, who is visiting from Portland, OR, said there must be a word for "beyond disgusting" and came up with revolting.  That about sums it up.  Thanks Natasha!  
Michael and I then inspected out tomato plants and removed about a dozen hornworms - as if the poor tomatoes haven't been stressed enough this year.  None were as big as the one eating our peppers, but it was just as satisfying to hear the plop as they dropped into our bucket of soapy water to meet their demise.  We found one hornworm with parasitic wasp eggs on it's back.  We left it to hatch out the wasps, which will ultimately kill the hornworm and hopefully lay more eggs on any other hornworms around.
Revolting, right?  The girls were correspondingly unwilling to help in the hornworm search, although they are plant lovers as I am.  After a broken ankle follow-up a few days ago, we walked through Durfee Conservatory at UMass (it was on the way to the car, really), lingered at the koi pond, and spent the rest of the sunny afternoon in Durfee Gardens.
The girls ate some under-ripe apples from the espaliered apple trees (no upset tummies later - I think that's an old wives tale) and found some lemon sorrel to nibble, but the biggest draw was this huge beech tree and it's nut-laden branches.  It's a little early for beechnuts, but we spent a good hour looking for partially opened nuts on the tree.  We were able to open the husks with some difficulty and then get the two tiny nutmeats out of their skins.  They tasted green, not quite ripe, but in the aftertaste you could start to sense the sweet beechnut flavor developing.  Of course, they were made all the sweeter by the work it took to get at them.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Yesterday's Eggs

One of the ladies doesn't seem to be giving 100% - that's the tiniest egg I've ever seen!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

In One Moment...

A jump, a twist, a crack, a fractured ankle.
Anna is looking forward to a restful rest of the summer, lots of reading, not much else.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Happy Birthday Peter!

20 years old today.  I remember when...

We love you Peter!