Here comes the sun

At least we hope so. After 7 days of clouds and rain (when your sky is dark and pours the rain — from “Come to Jesus), we saw sun this afternoon. And it’s supposed to be here for about 4 days. Hooray! and Hallelujah!

Did you know that old poem is almost in the form of a haiku?
Rain, rain, go away
Come again another day
I just want to play

…. or something like that. I do want to play — golf, walking, walking, gardening, sitting outside on the deck or by the pond. All the above, very difficult to do or enjoy, at least, in the rain.

Here’s hoping for a good week.

Markers of Spring

Yes, spring is here! Spring is (finally) here!
There are indications all over our yard.

The PJM azalea is in bloom. Beautiful purple right outside my kitchen window. I call this my “thermometer plant” as I can tell how cold it is in the winter by how curled up the leaves are. This past winter was really hard on it and leaves and blooms are scarce, but it is still alive

The marsh marigold plants are in full bloom in the pond — beautiful yellow.
The forsythia is solid gold up on the hill and by the driveway.
The daffodils are also in full bloom.

Oh yeah, and I’ve played 2 rounds of golf so far. Lots of bogies, which are good for me. Don’t know where this good golfing is coming from, but not worrying about it too much less it go away. ūüėČ

Yes, at last, spring is finally here

(photos to be added later)

Ridgefield’s largest sugar maple

And it’s a big one! Thursday was a beautiful day for a walk. It turned out to not be really great exercise as I was enjoying the weather too much and stopping too many times for photos. But, at least winter appears to be gone and it’s good weather for long walks in town.
Here’s Ridgefield’s largest sugar maple — from a 2008 survey and contest.

It's a whopper!
It’s a whopper!

The View from my Happy Chair

With the outdoor scaffolding gone a week now, I’ve really come to appreciate the view from what Hubby calls my princess chair but I’ve renamed my Happy Chair.

Some of the reasons I am happy today:

1) had a nice nap in that chair today

2) the view of the east yard contains almost pristine snow since the deer have been fenced out since December

3) the scaffolding has been gone from outside for a whole week and from the inside since Feb 1 (after being up in both places since October of last year)

4) the last time that contractor will be in this house – ever again – was Monday night and the last bill was just received and will be paid tomorrow

5)  the remote controls for the gate have finally been installed and they work

6) we’re finally getting some warmer weather and spring may be here soon – at least we can see the end of winter

7) I’m knitting my first sweater and it looks like it is going to fit !!!

8) I am going away on a quilt retreat soon

9) there have been bluebirds at our sunflower feeder and on the nesting box in the north yard

 

Firewood

Firewood from old driveway oak

Work continues on the cleanup from the end-of-October show storm.¬† The latest effort was borrowing the neighbor’s log splitter (and the neighbor, who claimed he was having fun!).¬† This truckload is far less than half of what was split from the fallen oak and the giant trunk is still standing.¬† By my estimates, the remaining trunk is over 15 feet tall and I cannot reach around it.¬† By hubby’s estimates there’s over a ton of wood left in the standing trunk.¬† Perhaps you cannot tell from the photo, but this was a huge, once beautiful red oak.¬† I counted rings on one of the upper “branches” (that being a relative term since I couldn’t reach around it either) and found the branch over 60 years old. Neighbor thinks the tree was probably 100 years old.¬† When the trunk is cut, I’ll count the rings there too.¬† And my guess is the arborist will also be interested in dating the tree.

Got firewood?  Yes, but for next year, and the year after, and . . . . . . . .

 

Sunrise over Devastation – Day 5

Oh my.¬† I’ve been busy and haven’t posted anything in this blog since the day that power was restored from Hurricane Irene after 5 days out.

And GUESS WHAT?¬† It’s Day 5 of our power outage from the freak snowstorm that happened on October 29th — almost exactly two months since Hurricane Irene.¬†¬† And WHY does everything have to have a cute name?

Nor’easter Alfred — okay, well the meteorologists feel they have to name major storms.¬† But, Snowtober?¬† Really?¬† Trust me, it’s not funny and there is nothing cute about what I see outside my windows and as I drive around my town.

Feeling that a picture is worth a thousand (or more) words and having nothing to do until my volunteer shift starts at the Ridgefield Emergency Shelter (might as well volunteer there — they have power, light and heat), I’m posting a few.¬† Borrowing power and a table (for the price of a slice of quiche and a glass of iced tea) from Tazza Cafe.

The west side of our house is like a botanical garden in the spring with mature, 30-year old ornamental trees that still all had their leaves on when 20 inches of heavy wet snow (yes I said 20 inches) fell on Saturday afternoon through Sunday morning

Kousa dogwood bows down

So we are not sure that the kousa dogwood will recover.  The snow is off it now, but it is still quite bowed and may not straighten up.  The Jenny Wrens have a house in there and raise a family there every year!  Crying a lot of tears over this bird habitat.

The kwanza cherry needed a little pruning, but this wasn’t what we had in mind.¬† One big branch (not shown here) off to the right broke off completely.¬† This branch is now free of snow and much higher, but the tree’s eventual fate is unknown at this time.¬† Spring will be the telling factor if it lives through the winter.

Kwanza cherry blocks the front door

And the following photo — well it really says it all.¬† This WAS a weeping cherry right outside the front door.¬† All its branches are in a pile in the driveway by the garage.¬† It was waaaay to sad to take that picture.

Former weeping cherry -- now we are the ones weeping

So, the power is off here and the latest “robo-call” from town hall says that CL&P (our power company) is committing to 99% of the town being restored by Sunday at 11 pm.¬† The bad news here is that this morning, the prediction was for the same level by Saturday night.¬† The good news is that weather is quite good – perhaps a little cool for November, but there is all that snow on the ground making things quite chilly at night.¬† It is slowly melting.¬† Good thing – we have a lot of weekend work to do.¬† The giant oak tree that fell straight down the driveway was cut up (by Hubby and a helper) with a couple of chainsaws (ours and the neighbors) and a lot of manual labor.¬† The neighbor and I lined the driveway with the branches that Hubby cut off¬† and the trunk sections were rolled just to the edge.¬† Lots of wood splitting to do.¬† And lots of firewood for next year.

So, I’m babysitting the generator and we’re enjoying quiet evenings (well, if you can tune out the roar of that generator motor) reading and watching candles flicker.¬† This big blown glass item is from Newport, RI.¬† We have two matching ones with small oil lamps in them.¬† Nice and restful.

I call this photo – might as well enjoy the candlelight

Might as well enjoy the candlelight

(Note that the funny black line on the candle globe is not really there.¬† Some artifact appeared when I edited the picture and I’m too lazy to go fix it at this time).

And this morning, Hubby took the 6 am wake-up call and fired up the generator.¬† Wonderful guy let me sleep for a while before he woke me back up to come downstairs and begin my day of generator supervision.¬† It happened to be before sunrise and I happened to look out and see a beautiful pre-dawn sight to the east.¬† The camera didn’t quite capture the vividness of the red color, and I was in a sleepy, grumpy mood as I began day 5 without power, phone, or cell phone, so I named this one “Sunrise over devastation”

Sunrise over devastation

As I was taking the photos and watching the sunrise and watching Hubby drive down the driveway to the land of light and power and heat (also known as his office),¬† I was reminded that God is always with us and when we aren’t paying attention he is sending us messages.

So the beautiful pre-dawn light is reminding me that —

– I should be thankful for each and every day.

– That if we are lucky, there is always tomorrow.

– There is very little that can’t be fixed or overcome if we look at it the right way.

– And that everything that we have actually belongs to God — and he just really made a mess of his yard!¬† But we’ll ask for his help while we clean it up and wait for spring to see what things look like, and replant, and start over, and be thankful for all that we have!

And, I’m reminded of the words I heard after Hurricane Irene —

Of course I have POWER – the power of compassion, community, love, — and I could go on and on.

It’s electricity I don’t have (and phone and cell), but you get the point!

 

 

 

Power . . . . . and Hurricane Irene

. . . to paraphrase the pastor from church this morning who was interviewed for the local “online” newspaper about Hurricane Irene and asked about power

Power, yes I have power.

I have power of compassion.

I have power of community.

It’s electricity I don’t have.

Of sails, frogs, and hurricanes

The outer rain bands of Hurricane Irene are here.¬† Our weather station in the garden is reporting a rain rate of 1.55 inches per hour.¬† It also presents a text interpretation of the current weather and now has the text at the bottom of the display saying “It is raining cats and dogs”.¬† Funny, but unfortunately, it is predicted that we may get up to 10 inches of cats and dogs during the course of the hurricane.¬† The storm itself is south of here but is predicted to make landfall on Connecticut between Greenwich and Stamford.¬† Our home is DIRECTLY in the path of the eye of the storm.¬† For some weird reason, I have never wanted to be in the eye of a hurricane.¬† Storm winds are supposed to start picking up shortly after midnight.¬† I predict not much sleep tonight!

So, while we are listening to TV track the storm — currently CL&P is in the process of advance covering of a certain part of their body – I’m going to do a blog update with vacation and yard photos while there is still power.

To start with — a photo of Mini-Phinni this year’s youngest frog.

 

Mini-Phinni on the back side of the pond

 

The view from our room at Malbone House in Newport, RI

 

Courtyard at Francis Malbone House

 

We went for a sail in Newport harbor.  Laying down on the deck looking up at the rigging of our boat as the sails went up:

 

Sailboat rigging

And while we were out in the harbor we saw a sailing sight that many would have been envious of.¬†¬† Two J Class Yachts were racing – perhaps not an “official” race – but two sailboats on the same tack are racing.¬† And these guys were racing!¬† The boat on the left, J5 (Ranger), was built in 2004 and is a replica of a 1937 America’s Cup defender.¬† An interesting item about the original boat — it had bakelite deck inserts.¬† The boat on the right, JK7 (Velsheda) was refitted in 1997 with a large carbon fiber mast.¬† Each boat requires a crew of 16 to sail, 30 for racing.

 

 

J boats racing

 

We continued to sail straight at their path and tacked to get out of the way just after the photo below was taken.¬† Note that the main sails look dirty — but it is because they are made of carbon fiber.¬† They are sailing downwind — spinnakers filled to the max.

 

J Boats - Up close and personal

 

Unfortunately, the brief two-day birthday trip came to an end and we drove back to Connecticut.  It was time to make preparations for the hurricane.  We stopped halfway home to try to find some flashlight batteries as the word was there was nothing to be had in our town.  Turns out, there was also almost nothing to be had in Middletown either.

So, the work of moving lawn and deck furniture, plants, flags, etc began on Friday and continued into Saturday.¬† I did take time out to visit the pond and found Phyllis sitting on her favorite rock.¬†¬† I hadn’t seen her in a long time.¬† I believe I saw her smile and think she was happy to see me.¬† She, at least was totally unafraid as I took her closeup.

 

Phyllis on her favorite rock -- across the pond from the fish feeding rock
"I'm ready for my closeup" -- notice her shadow in the late afternoon sun

 

And the peach lily was still open

 

Peach lily - love that macro lens

 

And everything outside has been moved in.¬† The title of this photo is “fake frogs in foyer”

 

Fake frogs in foyer

 

Look at the deck!  Nothing there.  From the looks of the outside of the house and yard, it looks like we have moved out.  Guess we have, moved in, that is.

 

Clear the decks for Hurricane Irene

 

 

 

As we batten down the hatches

Batten down the hatches — That’s all we’ve been doing since we got home from our brief respite (to celebrate my birthday) in Newport, RI.

No time to edit the beautiful photos I took of the J-Boats racing in Newport Harbor as our boat sailed near, then tacked to get out of the way.

No time to upload the beautiful photos of the courtyard outside our room with the fountain, flowers, and flowering trees.

No opportunity to even download from the camera the photo I took of Phyllis the frog beside the pond tonight.

Instead, we’ve been battening the hatches in preparation for Hurricane Irene — expected to landfall¬† Connecticut sometime after midnight Saturday night, but near “lunchtime” on Sunday according to the latest.¬† Bridgeport is “her” current target, but it’s only about 15 miles east of here.¬† The eye of the hurricane is supposed to be wider than that, so for a while we will be in the eye of a hurricane, literally. I have NEVER wanted to be in the eye of a hurricane.

Much work remains tomorrow — lawn furniture and giant plant pots need to be moved into the garage.¬† Apparently 85-100 mph winds can move almost anything and would definitely destroy my summer plants at the height of the beauty right now.

Then, we’ll sit, and pray, and watch the storm from safe inside our home, which I’m hoping will keep us safe and dry.¬† We’re high up on a hill, so won’t be affected by any flooding.¬† But our 3 acres are covered with giant oak, maple, ash, and hickory trees. We don’t hold much hope that our lovely property will go totally unscathed.

Power is expect to go out and stay out for days, so it will be quiet around here except for the sound of the generator!  So, photos of the lovely 2-day vacation, almost totally forgotten already, will just have to wait.

Happy Easter

Suddenly it’s spring!¬† At last!!!!!

Hubby fired up the pump on our pond yesterday and is running it again today.¬† The fish are loving their swimming time below the falling water.¬† This seems to have awakened our entire back yard and the warm (yes it’s ABOVE 70 degrees today) has caused spring to finally arrive.

  • The PJM azalea is ready to boom
  • The weeping cherry absolutely popped open this morning and is in full bloom
  • Our first frog appeared on a rock near the waterfall
  • The male wren is singing and carrying nest-building materials into the birdhouse
  • The new kitchen windows are open

All signs of spring — let the celebration begin!

Happy Easter !