RIP 2006
I had one of those fat fingered, distracted moments where you do make a move, and almost instantaneously think -- "F**K! I did NOT want to do that." And so went my 2006 page. I overwrote it like a dimwit and (of course) did not have a full back up.

So that is it. After much teeth gnashing and pouting, I gave up. I found about 80% backed up on my computer... but some is lost forever. Ah well. No musings about kayaking, Christmas with Gabe's family and mine meeting, Thanksgiving in Minneapolis...

Friends might wonder what I am talking about. Alright. You're right. I didn't  get around to writing about some of those topics. But I meant to. And now, its all gone...

(I still need to put the pix back that were posted, too)

Cannot get Gabe out of the kayaks. He's been musing about creating a little pulley system to get them down to the river. Yeah, they're light enough to carry, but with a few stops along the way to rest my hands.

In our first venture out, we went into a small tidal creek right near the house. We launch from the beach near the yacht club, looking for a tide that is flowing in. Launching  from the beach is easiest and by the time we paddle the few hundred yards upstream to the mouth of the creek, there is enough water to get up the channel. At full tide, the creek is almost lake-like in spots. Lots of arrow-shaped leaves at the waters edge with phragamites and other grasses nearby.

The first leg of the creek is a wide, deep channel overhung with mature trees. It's a shady respite on a hot day. The woods are typical for the area, heavy undergrown with vines and weeds. Not a natural woodland, more an overgrown back lot. That said it is still an inviting respite from traffic and people. We pass a few vestigial businesses... not sure what they are, or were. There are interesting snapshots passing as we glide in... an old overgrown dock,,, a tree swing and an old beach chair in a sandy cove... a man-made channel cuts to the left and expands into a very still, slightly creepy lagoon. Next we approach the River Road bridge.and the rail bridge in close succession. Seems this is a major roosting spot for local pigeons. In the narrow confines, with rising water below and metal/cement above, a half a dozen exploding from their perches around your head are like a box of firecrackers in a tiny bathroom. Instinctively, you raise your hands - with the paddles - creating more obstacles for the bewildered birds. They aren't as agile as bats. One day I may take a few out with the paddles.

Out from under the bridge and into the second part of the creek... a twisting, sunny stream that winds its way another mile before being choked off by the highway. (In reality, according to Google Maps, if we could cross under the highway and get past the cemetery that dammed the stream, we would find a few more miles of creek that go as far as Moorestown. According to the Pompeston Eco-survey, there are eagles, wild turkey and all kinds of critters back there.)

At full tide, this second part of the creek opens out into marsh flats. The creek meanders in s-turns, past small channels, stands of reeds and wooded banks. This is an intimate creek... you can get close enough to see things, find things, shriek with delight (internally of course, or you would send all the local creatures diving for den and burrow). A turtle sunning on a log... a group of mallard cluck chidingly... a flash of fish... small blue and green dragonflies flit and dart, and occasionally light on you to check you out. Red-winged blackbirds chatter in the reeds. A great blue heron or pair of great egrets watch the kayaks approach, then with long, slow wing strokes, swing up and ahead to land again, just around the curve of the stream... only to rise again as you round the bend, and flap slowly to the next bend, just out of sight. It's a magical place...

It's a magical place because we have lost touch (most of us) with nature. And there is this little gift -- a knuckle of land -- just behind us here in town.


Gabe's birthday... What to buy? He is so practical. This has to be useful but still fun.

The solution? Well, he is buying himself two kayaks that are on sale at Dick's Sporting Goods, As he describes them, cheap milk jug plastic and light enough to carry to the river. So, I'll buy the paddles... an integral part of the package. And I'll get the higher end -- snap together with a snazzy swivel in orientation. A gift that keeps on giving (to everyone!).

Wedding Bells

Since we'd met, I had been hearing about June 24 -- D-Day for Gabe's older brother Jamie's wedding. Big events like this are sort of an abstract thing until you know everyone... For me, the wedding was a series of construction projects. Gabe's weekends were built around finishing the basement (washing/sewing room for Mom, small living suite for his sister Erin). When the basement was finished, there were outdoor finishing jobs finishing windows, hanging window boxes, sprucing up the yard, readying the house for the onslaught of family that would be flying, driving and walking to Bryn Athyn to join in the festivities.

Jamie and his fiancee Laura live in Idaho. Laura's family is large and far flung as well, from Nicaragua, New Orleans, Florida. So, the folks who were going to handle the wedding soup to nuts were the Blairs. Bringing everyone together for this wedding would be a logistical challenge. Gabe's mom called in all the markers and favors relied on her support network to help her pull it through. And they did a great job creating a big family wedding, with all the personal touches you can only get from family who now you and your secrets.

It was a full week with many airport runs, and trips to get people settled in their wedding digs. Bryn Athyn is a beautiful place to have a wedding there is an English countryside feel to the land rolling hills, woodlands, stone homes, old orchards and the occasional castle. The cathedral itself is stunning, set commandingly high on a hill and surrounded by gorgeous gardens that are always in bloom. I always feel like I should be setting out in my Wellies for an afternoon tramp before tea. (Check wikipedia for a brief town history).

The bride's family was renting one of the Pitcairn sons' houses -- a stone mansion at the edge of the woods -- at an amazingly low price considering the size and stature of the building. They would be within an easy walk of the wedding reception, held at the old carriage house, with the food set up inside the building and the party outside under a tent in the old walled sheep pasture.

The Blair family was another story. It would take all of Bryn Athyn to house the myriad friends and relations coming in for this wedding. And thankfully, all of Bryn Athyn knows the Blairs and would accommodate the guests. In fact, there is something rather old world about this community, that so freely opens its doors and its hearts to visitors.

Thursday night was the first official wedding event the Bachelor Party. The groom and his nearest and dearest went to Monk's in Center City for a "last hurrah". My spies tell me that they had a great time and did not get back to their beds until 3 or 4 am.

Friday night was the Rehearsal Dinner, a relaxed backyard barbecue at the Blair's. The yard looked great we'd had enough rain to perk up the gardens, and the window boxes were spilling over with color. When I arrived, the house was full of that first wave of new names and faces. Gabe was running an errand, so I wandered to the back, mingling and smiling. I saw a guy at the grill and thought, "How did Gabe get so blonde so fast?" but as I came to realize this was just one of a small garrison of Gabe look-alikes.

Saturday was the wedding itself, round two, where the faces start to seem familiar and the names get all confusing, leaving you embarrassed as you call Mary, Rachel and Rachel, Denise, etc. etc. etc.

Sunday was the after party brunch, when you expect to relax but face those now somewhat familiar faces whose names are not yet attached solidly. We spent the entire day visiting. Well, Gabe visited I sat trying to stay clear about whom was related to whom and what the back stories were. Some folks were interested in who I was that sort of speculative thrice over. I love large families but they are overwhelming. Explaining about how we'd met for the umpteenth time was odd I wanted to run upstairs and do a quick summary to print and share. People have 3 definite reactions to internet romances the "been there, understood”, the "oh my rrreeeallly?’. and the "oh" folks. Gabe's grandmother was an "oh/"

The perfect end to a whirling weekend.

Last night, after a full 3 days of visiting relatives and the flurry of names and faces that entails, Gabe and I drove back to my house to decompress. I was wrung out filled to the brim with the ever expanding Blair genealogy of who is married to whom, and is cousins with whom, and lives where, and knows so and so how. It was a lovely weekend, but for an only child used to so much stillness, the constant whirr and thrum of big families is always culture shock. I can't imagine just how threadbare Gabriel was. This was the wedding weekend.

Opting for take out, we got a mushroom, sweet pepper sand sausage pizza, cracked a bottle of sparkling Martinelli's and lit all the lanterns, sitting back to enjoy the stillness of the evening. My neighbor Richard was practicing his piano, treating us to a private concert.

It had been raining most of the weekend, so the air was cooler but very still. Smelling earthy like wet mulch  sound of rain slipping off the leaves in the breeze a few lightening bugs signaled from the bushes the whirring of beetles motoring past We sat and chatted desultorily, spoke to passing neighbors sat in companionable silence, feet up on the railings sipping ice tea and sparkling cider. It was bliss to let the silence seep in. Gabe started telling me stories about the family this side of the family tree and that side. (I really do need visual aids to keep it all straight my family is so easy 2 people.) My eyes were getting heavy I love the sound of Gabe's voice and it often lulls me I sat rocking and drowsy, catching snippets of Odeners, Cowleys, Blairs and Hiatt's, while the crickets chorused around us. Perfection.

Window Boxes

How much do I love planting? The day after the Garden Tour, Gabe decided he wanted to plant window boxes and containers as a gift for his mom. So, we ventured out to River Road Antiques to see what John had in stock in terms of planters. Striking the mother lode in junk, we came up with an old galvanized bucket, a brass pitcher, an enameled funnel, an old serving bowl, an enameled soup pot, a galvanized ashcan, an iron stewpot, an old galvanized watering can and a ceramic chicken serving bowl  all for $45 bucks. John must have been feeling weak because, if I had piled all of that up at the steps and asked his price, he would have charged me $80. Such a deal.

So, with a trunk full of junk, we headed to Haines out on Route 130 to look for window boxes and plants. About an hour (and $200 later) my car was spilling over with 3 large hayrack planters and the plants to fill it all.

It ended up being an impressive display of bright lilies, cascading phlox, spikes of angelonia, waxy ornamental peppers, ruffled basil, etc. etc. We packed the funnel with moss and planted bright green sedum in the top. The pitcher was hung tilted forward, with blue plumbago and sweet potato vine pouring over the edge. The pail was home to a purple morning glory using tall red lilies as a trellis. They containers were colorful and full of textures. Best of all, they look great in the Blair's yard they fit as though they'd always been there.

It whets my appetite to do a plan for the rest of Mrs. Blair's garden.

June 11, 2006
Riverton Garden Tour

Two years ago when I moved to Riverton, I went on the garden tour to "get acquainted" with the town and its folks. It was rainy and chilly, but the tour was fun. Its always interesting when you get to creep through someone's yard and see what their garden vision is.

A few months after, I met some of the women involved in The Porch Club, a local civic group that organizes the garden tour every 2 years. Within moments, I had volunteered my house to be on the 2006 tour...

From that moment on I was calculating what needed to be done in my yard to make it a garden that I would be proud to have strangers troop through.

Just last week, those strangers were trooping through my yard. It was, once again, a rainy day. But that did not dampen the enthusiasm of a few hundred people who wandered Riverton's 12 featured gardens in slickers, rain hats and umbrellas to see what we had planted.

From what I hear, it is a bit of a struggle to get people to feature their gardens. There can be a lot of preparation involved, depending on your situation. This year the gardens ran the gamut from, mature and manicured, to wild and natural. Mine was right in the middle -- I don't edge and I do minimal mulching. My style is to plant densely (as a weed deterrent) and to loosely define weeds. There are plenty of "volunteers" and transplanted native plants in my beds... milkweed, wild phlox, wild strawberries, and a pale pink aster-like flower that blooms in late spring for a looong time. If it adds color or texture, berries or cool pods, I am all for it.

When I moved in to Casa Pazzesca, there was a nice backyard with some very nice plantings that anchored the beds... spring was kicked off with pink azaleas and a tumult of yellow daffodils in the back, which gave way to pale yellow iris. Summer began with a pink and white Shibori spirea and numerous hydrangeas. Later in summer a full bed of black eyed susans and pink Echinacea burst forth. A former owner had planted a small army of wild daylilies. (I'm not a huge fan... too much room for too little show. And they spread inexorably into every other plant's space.)

The planning began in earnest! What blooms in early June in my yard? Precious little. Early June seemed to be an in between time. So, start identifying June bloomers that would be mature in time for 2006. Lilies... lots of Asiatic lilies.

2005 was spent putting in perennials that need time to settle in, and bulbs (like all those lilies). Not that I neglected the other seasons... at this point you could visit my garden in any season and find something interesting happening.

But March of 2006 found me in the home stretch. That is when you look at what you have and panic. I started putting in annuals about 3 weeks before the recommended season... my pots were done by early May and I had vegetables, vines galore and some heirloom annuals. Three weeks before the tour, I was buying summer color annuals for filler -- impatiens, dascia, nemesia, lobelia, coleus. The week before I was guiltily cruising the nurseries looking for last minute perennials -- hellebore, marguerites, penstemon. The day before, I was  mulching in the rain.

I don't know how much money I spent. I refused to keep track. But I had good resources nearby -- a shout out to Dare's, Haines', Flagg's, and Jim's. And, finally I gave in. I was ready.

What am I looking for these days?
An old fashioned screen door with the fancy scrollwork around the edges, a good design for a simple pergola (isosceles triangle format), and a series of 3 to 5 chimney-sized tubes of varying heights.

Internet Personals
What I seem to be missing are guy friends. Men are hard to make friends with it's the alien species thing, I think. We look at each other as potential lovers, potential mates, potential enemies. We scare each other with our endless possibilities and unspoken expectations.

The people I meet are either co-workers or very nice married folks. I have lots of friends, spread round the globe and a nice group of women and couples friends here in the area. I lack guy friends the ones you can confess guy-related problems to and get good guy feedback. The ones who will tell you, he's not really into you, dump him. Or the laconic, "Good guy" comment. 

So, with guy friends, and maybe even eventual boyfriends, in mind. I accepted the shove forward my friend Laura proffered. Laura sent me the profile of a guy she found out on the internet. I never asked her what she was doping trawling the personals. Perhaps I should. Perhaps she would enlighten us all.

I was skeptical but had that "ah, what the heck" attitude. What could happen? So I logged onto the site and cruised the profiles. Everyone seemed so urban and hip so literate. The profile she'd sent me was there, but the age range was wrong. (I am trying to stay within a 10 year radius of my own age. I am not good at staying in that circle I tend to drift younger.)

There were other profiles that looked pretty interesting, so I pulled together a polite inquiry/introduction note and fired it out to 4 guys. I got 4 responses. Made me feel rather heady. The cliff note to this is that one guy was scary. Too many trips to Thailand for "business." Another guy decided that he would rather write than meet. That petered out, which was disappointing because he was by far the best writer of the bunch. The two other dates were fun. One of them I thought for sure would be friends, but he really wanted to meet the woman he would marry NOW and stated uncategorically that he didn't have the time and energy to date for 3 years only to discover that it wasn't going to happen. (I took that to mean that if I couldn't commit, I was not it.) I enjoyed talking with him a lot and would have stayed in touch and hung out as friends, but that was not in his cards. The last guy and I dated for a couple months but in the long run, I felt that we didn't really like each other. We spend a long time circling warily, but never really embraced each other (figuratively speaking).

Which brings me to the thought that keeps circling the idea that even when we state our purpose on the internet, we still are not on the same page. If you think that stating your purpose clearly on the web  whether it is to make friends, meet the one, etc.  takes the miscues and mistakes out, you are wrong. Everyone you meet brings their own specific interpretation--their own lens--to the party. As do you. The odds of meeting your perfect match are slim. So there will inevitably be that slow, sinuous dance about while you evaluate each other and make those decisions whether this person is worth emailing, meeting, dating, kissing, etc. etc. etc. And your expectations will collide with their expectations about who you are and what you are and what you both want from a relationship (whether friendly or romantic).

Obvious, you say? Well, I think that it might be intellectually obvious. But meeting people is so bound up in your ego and your baggage old experiences banging into new situations everyone's guard is up. Yearning holding hands with Doubt.

So I took the plunge again after the first of the year, but switched sites. The profiles were very different on the new site more down to earth more regular guy. But also less hipster tension no more out cooling each other. And this time, I went into it gaily with the expectation that I would meet new people and nothing more. Not even a great desire to actually meet anyone. My one rule was, respond to everyone who takes the time to write something. They deserve it. I also decided not to contact anyone, but to wait and see who contacted me.

Lots of messages came in, in fact, more than I wanted to get. You can't communicate well with that many folks at one time. And then there are the folks you "meet" but really don't want to create a great bond with. What do you do with that? I don't like blowing people off this entire web personals thing is such a learning experience

It’s such a mystery why folks are out there and what they expect who they are meeting how they are doing. Is it just another forum for rejection or does everyone really find someone? Or is it all a hoax and the profiles are all fabrications of a coven of 12 year olds pretending to be adults. Is the joke on me?

Philadelphia Tales
Link to my Italiani Bravi conversation group on Google
intro . 20102009 . 2008 . 2007 . 2006 . 2005 . 2004 . garden . kayak . travel . to see . to eat . Forking Delicious . My Umbrian Adventure
Backyard, 304 Penn in 06
Blair project, 1 of 4
Catalpa blossom
Pickerel blossom
Textures on the Palmyra Cove