One gardener's observations, discoveries and random thoughts whilst simultaneously worshipping and dallying in a Cape Cod garden. "A garden," said Ralph Waldo Emerson, "is like those pernicious machineries which catch a man's coatskirt or his hand, and draw in his arm, his leg and his whole body to irresistable destruction."

Archive for the ‘Emily Grace’ Category

Memories of a Brown Girl

Unexpectedly, we received news this weekend that our sweet friend, Emily Grace, had passed away.   As she was a pound rescue, we were never entirely sure of her age.  She was probably around 15 years old.

The memories came almost right away:   that wet nose and that giant tongue in the morning, more compelling than any alarm clock (though right up there with the persistance of the Gray Catsby when his morning bowl is empty!), the way she could often be convinced to snuggle for a while under the covers instead, that obnoxious squeaky noise she’d make when she thought we were ignoring her.

Such a crazy dog I have never know in my life.   Three times to the pound before we met, she came with plenty of issues and baggage, things we could only learn with time.   Basements were off limits.   She firmly believed she was entitled to a minimum of 15% of all we ate.  For the first month she was with our family, her other Dad and I were not allowed to touch in her presence.  She was a wicked bed-hog.  Perhaps most importantly, there was a rather short list of people whom she could be counted on not to scare or nip at.   Attention must be paid.

I remember her first Christmas.   Among other things, we bought her a neckerchief that read “SANTA’S HELPER” and a nice deep plush dog bed.   The next morning, the living room was a puffy cloud of dogbed stuffing strewn everywhere, and the neckerchief had been chewed where she could reach so that it now, appropriately, warned “SANTA’S HEL”.

We often described her as a Cape Cod Brown Dog of Uncertain Lineage, but we could see plenty of things in her.   German Shepherd.  Rhodesian Ridgeback.  Pit Bull.  Veloceraptor.  Alligator.

Because of her sometimes unpredictable behavior around others (it runs in the family on her other dad’s side), I quickly figured out that the best way for people to meet her was online.  During the earlier days of the Internet, Em hosted a GeoCities site (now mostly gone, tho every now and then a page or two floats to the top of a well-played Google search) called Emily’s Online Doghouse, in which she stole car keys to joyride around Wellfleet, suffered many costume changes, sang the praises of the rescue dogs at Ground Zero and participated in the Salt Lake City Olympics.

Despite her flaws and foibles, she was a sweet girl who brought plenty of happiness to her years in our family.  I will always remember that New Puppy Smell of her old puppy ears.   We know she is now romping in a place where there’s no need for leashes or fences, where food and water bowls are always full and the Dorito bag has no bottom.

The Gray Catsby and I haven’t seen her for nearly four years, but we remember the challenge of adjusting to a life undominated by her massive presence and personality.   Our hearts remember all her best qualities and we send our condolences and best wishes to her Other Dad.

May the comfort of fond memories bring peace.


Sunflower Sunday

I can’t resist a little visual deja vu tonight and so I’m starting off with the same photo as yesterday, taken about the same time of day…but with a much more interesting array of clouds in the sky.

Weather-wise, it was another fantastic day, to complete a full weekend of them, with bright sunshine and temperatures in the 70s. Instead of just boring blue skies, we saw a cool variety of cloud types to make things a little more interesting.

Also today, this latest sunflower, now measuring in a little better than seven feet tall, has fully unfurled its giant flowerhead. You’ll find I’m featuring it throughout today’s post.

Can you blame me?

Down low at the feet of all these sunflowers are an ever-increasing array of bachelor’s buttons.

I’m really pleased with how well they are growing this year and I will be sure to sow some of these seeds every year, now.

Remember last weekend, when I predicted that the seashell cosmos would probably start blooming by the start of last week? Ha ha, well, that shows you how much I know.

I guess I should have started these inside when I was getting the first sunflowers germinated. Perhaps they’d be well-blooming by now if I had.

These guys seem to have been hit with some sort of alien slow-motion ray…and while the buds seem to be puffing out nicely know, I’m hesitant to make any additional predictions.

I’ll keep you posted.

Another seed success story has certainly been these morning glories. There’ve been so many different color combinations and these plants are so prolific and eager to draw everyone and everything around them in to sweet entanglement.

I guess it is late enough in the season to declare that the everlastings and statice were not to be counted among the season’s successes.

I was sure I’d seen a few seedlings, but it seems they didn’t pass that all-important survival test. Perhaps in a different setting they’d do better.

I spotted this little grass hopper flitting about inside the fence border this morning. While I wasn’t able to get close without him leaping away, he did indulge me enough to hit his lighting mark on this shasta daisy leaf so I could zoom in for a better look at him…or her.

Emily and I had an enjoyable walk this evening, after a few nights off due to commitments at work. It was a beautiful night and she was eager to set off on our walk around Not Wisteria Lane.

We saw a few bits of early fall color as we made our way. Little reminders that the season before us is reaching its final days and the changes of a new season will be on us before we know it.

Which is to say it was just the right time for a walk.

A pair of pugs decided to come out to greet us this evening. There’s a black one who paces back and forth across his yard as we pass by on a few evening’s recently.

Tonight, that dog was joined by a second and it became clear that – while they are little dogs – two pugs is all they need to have together in order to think they can do the impossible. I was sort of incredulous as the two of them came marching out, shoulder to shoulder, to approach Emily (and probably give her a piece of their little minds about having poo-ed across the street from their house).

I was able to keep her back from them – no easy feat – as she would probably consider the little nuisances little more than a cocktail frank. Their person came out to encourage the two of them to stand down and we were on our way again.

Although the sun was sinking when we returned from our sojourn, there was still some nice light to look at a few things in the garden.

The sunflowers are just getting out of hand, now, but it a great way. They are certainly grabbing hold of my multi-colored color scheme and making it seem overly- yellow.

Of course, the cosmos continuing delay in blooming is enhancing that, as well.

I’d just like to point out that in this photo above, the latest sunflower is taller than the sun.

The cleome flowers are wonderful, but I don’t find that they last especially long. I have been collecting seed from them for next year, as they have been very easy to grow and I am a big fan of these open airy flowers.

This flower represents the start of a second wave of blooming; you may recall I seeded these guys into the garden in waves back in springtime.

Tonight we saw the flash and the spectacle of the Closing ceremonies of the 23rd Olympiad in Beijing. It really was an exciting and spectacular two weeks of games this year. So many world records broken.

I didn’t get to watch much of the coverage yesterday until pretty late last night, as I enjoyed one of those Midori coladas at the restaurant bar after a busy night of work.

I guess it makes sense they save Table Tennis for the last night, but really, that’s not one of the sports they could make available online, instead? It felt like a little bit of an anti-climax. I’d be much more interested in the equestrian or kayak/canoe events. But the cross-country mountain bike race was pretty interesting.

I wasn’t able to watch the Men’s 10M Platform Diving, but I was excited to hear the news that Australian diver Matthew Mitcham won the gold medal. Mitcham is the only one of over 10,000 athletes competing who has declared himself as gay.

I’d like to think his success in Beijing may make it a little easier for other athletes to consider being more open themselves.

Anyway, it was cool news and, I thought, a nice way to bring the two weeks of excitement to a close.

It’s a little bit of a relief that the games are over. I don’t think I’ll have any trouble sleeping through the Democratic convention after all the Olympic late-nights.

Back in the garden, this clump of yellow snapdragons has begun a second wave of blooming, it’s yellow flowers sweetly scenting the air nearby with a tasty citrus-y fragrance. I was amused by this tiny spider hanging out inside one of the flowers, no doubt lying in wait for some even smaller insect pollinator.

I enjoyed these clouds as they reflected the light of the sunset these evening. Really fantastic looking, although they are the sort of thing that puts us all – our persons, our homes, our neighborhoods – into perpective, as these grand beautiful moments happen on such a large scale overhead.

Of course, the dusky clouds were a great backdrop for that new sunflower. And the chance of rain in the forecast for tomorrow would be a wonderful boost to all the other sunflowers still only just starting to bloom.

A break from the watering schedule is always nice. I do the best I can, but really, my best efforts just can’t compare with a nice natural fall of rain.

Thanks For the Meme-ories

Remember the day around mid-July when I posted my response to a pair of memes here at the Midnight Garden? They were things I’d been tagged on and not addressed for a while, and it was a relief to know I’d taken care of that and could get back to the daily garden photos. Well, for a few minutes, anyway, until I learned I’d been newly tagged by my pal James over at Lost in the Landscape (whose completely different garden blog is another of those daily treasures the blogging world has to offer. Go look at the teasel.).

So, that meme was supposed to be 10 random things about me. I’ve already done a couple of those and there’s the 100 List, too (though I suspect some of that may require revision in future months). James gave me permission (while simultaneously pointing out that the 100 list lacked a #26) to just do six or seven things, because of the meme-convergence.

I decided to go for eight, although you may find that each of the eight points contains more than just one random bit. Meanwhile, I wanted to do something to mix it up a bit, make it more interesting than just another list and so I dug around in some old photo albums to see what I could find. Please cue the Bob Hope theme music and we’ll begin.

1) This is a dear old friend: the apple tree in our New Jersey back yard in whose arms I passed many a lazy summer day of my childhood…and thanks to the annual drop of crab apples, a few of those days were spent tidying up the yard, too. To the right of center, you can see two waterspout-y kind of limbs, which were just the right distance apart to serve as a sort of tree seat, where you could lounge with a small pile of comic books in your lap and read in the apple-scented breezes.

The fledgling garden photographer took this photo in May of 1979, just before we moved away to the Adirondacks of upstate New York. A close examination of recent Google Earth imagery suggests that some subsequent owners of the property have removed the tree and filled the tiny space with a swimming pool. The silly fools.

2) That same fledgling photographer took this picture of my Mom’s tulips in that same yard, same year. Note how the tulips themselves are out of focus, but the lovely purple violets in the background are fairly clear. That still happens to me…all the time!

3) So we moved to the mountains, which was an interesting change. From a class of 300 in northern New Jersey, I now had 17 classmates, and we were the third-largest class in the history of the local K-12 school.

I’m grateful to have spent so many of my “formative” years in a place of such incomparable beauty and I’m happy to know I have so many friends there still, for when I want to visit in the future!

The town is called Long Lake, as it is situated to straddle the lake of the same name, which is fourteen miles long. Technically, though, the body of water is actually a widening of the Raquette River and thereby not a lake at all. But whatever.

Here’s a view of it looking south from over the town beach. That’s not the long end, but I forgot to scan that photo.

4) This next view shows the only intersection in Long Lake. No traffic lights there, although there is a yellow blinking light down by the lake, to remind people to turn instead of getting wet.

In the center, more or less, of this image, is the property we moved to, which included a small cottage colony for summer rentals…which also made life pretty interesting, at least between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

I’ve sketched in an arrow (tho thanks to the monitor issues here, I’ve no idea just what color that arrow is…) which indicates the site of the very first garden I ever really got to create and tend.

Of course, it didn’t exist until we sold and moved some of those cottages.

By the way, these two photos were also taken in 1979, by the same young photog, during the only fifteen minutes of my life I have ever been aloft in an airplane.

4) Once those cottages were removed, there turned out to be more than enough space for a good long border garden in the corner of the property. In time, the garden looked like this. Here it is around 1995 or so.

It was my first real chance to play with something other than annuals. Of course, since it was USDA Zone 3, the choices were still somewhat limited.

A few of the perennials in this garden (the Shasta Daisies, the Garden Heliotrope and some tall garden phlox) are plants which made the move with me, eventually and still live.

They are now planted in the fence garden I feature here every day.

5) When I moved to Cape Cod and settled in Provincetown in 1997, I lived for a time in a second story apartment where there was no garden. However, there were gardens a-plenty all around and I enjoyed walking or biking about town to admire them all. This also gave me a little time to study just what it was possible to grow in this different climate, USDA Zone Coastal 7.

I did, however, use a stash of old theatrical lighting gels leftover from college and some black electrical tape to create this faux stained glass window in the apartment, which I still think was pretty damn cool.

Like so many of Life’s most interesting things, it was very temporary, since I hadn’t thought to create it on a piece of plexiglass or anything like that which I could actually have moved. Only this photo remains.

6) When we first made the acquaintance of Emily Grace, we weren’t really sure of her age. But we knew she was incorrigible.

She was a wild, untrained dog of great strength and will who’d been to the pound three different times before our paths crossed hers. While our relationship was rocky at the start, to say the least, it was clear that she loved us for our devotion and faith in her.

This image is taken in early December 1998, just two months after she’d joined the household and is truly a moment frozen in time. The doggy bed pillow and “Santa’s Helper” holiday scarf were two early-season gifts we gave her earlier that evening.

By the following morning, the pillow was a cloud of white fluffy filling which wafted about the living room.

By Christmas morning, three weeks later, she’d chewed all of the scarf she could reach so that, appropriately, only the letters “Santa’s Hel” remained.

7) When Owen and I combined households earlier that year, we also combined gardens, as I added many of my floral friends from my Adirondack gardens to the beds he had already created in Eastham.

It was a lovely show the following summer and nicely symbolic of our new relationship. Which isn’t to say that territorial issues about the garden didn’t also crop up, as a result of the merging.

We ended up moving the following year, the first of many for us. Many of the plants came along for the ride, but a host of them remained behind. We can still enjoy some of their bloomings as we drive by our old homes each year. Just look at all those lilies.

8) In the summer of 2002, this pair of golden snapdragons in our Wellfleet garden made me cry one hot July morning, as they reminded me of the Twin Towers that had fallen in New York City the previous year and how the world around us was beginning to change.

** This isn’t one of the eight points, but just to put this out there, it’s now been fifteen days without one of those cigarette things. There’s been a few surprise cravings this week, but nothing I couldn’t work through.

The Nicodemon, you get him under your heel, but the little bastard is kind of like one of those gremlins in a horror movie that just won’t quite die. Oh, but this one will…and quite horribly, too.

Heh heh heh….

As a bonus (but you all can decide if it really IS one or not), here’s a fresh look at the Midnight Gardener, who in the heat of late July remembered he was the proud owner of a pithe helmet (just one of the spoils of a late-night raid on the costume store room of the fine arts building of my college way too many years ago.). Since he rarely remembers a hat in the hot sun, this was a good thing, stares from the neighbors aside.

I won’t wax poetic or adventurous about hacking through the jungle that is the Weeds of Late July, as Jenn has recently done so to great effect over at Of Cabbages and Kings and I couldn’t top that.

It was she who reminded me I had such a hat in my possession, though she knew it not. I also thank her for the chuckles she brings me each day with her humor writing. Laughter is the seasoning that makes so much of Life palatable, and we should just pour it on everything. Well, almost everything. No, Everything. Because good gods, Life is too short.

I’m tempted to tag a bunch of you, but it’s no doubt a somewhat more complex meme now that I’ve added the component of having to scan old photographs, so I don’t want to be the source of that burden. However, if you’ve got some old pics you wanna share and a few interesting things to say about them, well, I bet it’d be lots of fun to see what you come up with.

Hope it’s a great weekend for you all!