Tuesday, April 16, 2013


From April through October (hopefully) I have the Boston Red Sox games on the TV when I'm not out in the yard.  I became afflicted with loving the Red Sox when I was a child through what now seems like a fluke, a random twist of fate.
Boston is a city that reflects its history
and progress at the same time.

My grandmother bought me a bat for my birthday and on the barrel of that bat was a copy of the Red Sox's left fielder's signature, Jim Rice.  I used to take that bat up to the plate with me in our backyard baseball games and I was, on those endless summer days, Jim Rice in a little boy's body.

I loved the Red Sox the way only a boy can love something.  With my whole heart, with hope, with expectation.  And for years the Red Sox found new ways to disappoint me.  

But that all changed in 2004 when they finally broke the curse of the Bambino and won a World Series.  Years of bitterness, heartache, and feeling like life was unfair had been washed away for me and for millions of Red Sox fans like me.  The last 10 years or so have been great for New England sports fans.  Just yesterday the Red Sox continued their surprisingly good start to this baseball season with a walk-off hit.  Fans left Fenway Park in a great mood.  Meanwhile, the rest of the city was celebrating Patriot's Day and the running of the Boston marathon.  It was a joyous day. For a while.  

I have never lived in Boston.  I don't have family there either.  But I do have friends there.  I have vacationed there.  I have raised a mug of beer with strangers there.  I have high-fived eight-year-old kids and octogenarians there.  I have walked the Freedom Trail, watched the boats out in the Bay, and touched the dirt of the warning track in Fenway Park.  Without forgetting the tragedy that happened yesterday, these are the things about Boston that I will choose to remember.  The people of that quintessential American city are in my thoughts and prayers.  May they find peace and comfort in these dark times.

These are some of the pictures I took while vacationing in Boston in September of 2012.   

There are gardens everywhere in the city.  Unfortunately, most of my pictures were taken at night.

This front entrance was regal.

This door in an alleyway captured my imagination.

Mecca for a Red Sox fan - on top of the Green Monster in left field.

Singing of the national anthem.  God bless America and God bless Boston.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Just Live With It

I’ve been overwhelmed with tasks.  We have moved in to our new place and unpacked most of our boxes.  We’re still in the process of remodeling the 69-year-old kitchen so there is still a sense of disarray in our household.  But we’re getting “there” even though we don’t quite know where exactly “there” is or what it will feel like when we settle there.

With some of the more pressing issues taken care of I am slowly turning my attention to the yard.  But the yard is larger than I’m used to and I don’t know where to start.  I haven’t been here long enough to discover all the things that make this yard unique so I'm reluctant to commit to anything.  For instance, our recent rains revealed that there are a few places close to our patio where the water does not drain.  At all.  I had already considered putting in some kind of rock pathway beginning right where the water puddles so that idea might have “gone down the drain” . . . unlike the water.    

The best advice I’ve ever received about garden design was in Julie Moir Messervy’s “The Inward Garden.”  I’m loosely paraphrasing here, but she said that a gardener should just live with their garden for a while.  That advice has been on my mind lately as I’ve been eager to tackle new projects.  I keep telling myself to be patient and let the ideas come to me as I spend time working in the yard, as I get familiar with the sunlight, as I live through the seasons and experience the patterns of nature here. 

But I don’t think Messervy was trying to say “do nothing” either.  So I am keeping up on tasks like mowing the lawn (which I really don’t enjoy doing), and picking from the abundance of weeds.  I have also set up my compost bins and planted three dwarf Japanese maples that I brought over from our old house. 

Last night, however, I had a spare hour-and-a-half after work so I decided to tackle a small project.  At some point, along this trellised fence that marks the divide between my property and the elderly lady’s next door, there was a flower bed.  I imagine it must have looked beautiful in the spring several years ago.  But now the only word that comes to mind is “dilapidated”.  The lattice work needs to be repaired.  The weedy grass needs to be pulled.  Irrigation needs to be addressed. 

From the look of it, I thought the house next door was empty when we bought this house.  It is not.
I started by pulling out handfuls of grass and discovered that buried within the grass were various types of edging materials – bricks and red cement edgers.  I have no formal training in archaeology, but I’m pretty sure that these buried materials were placed right against the base of the fence to prevent the overgrown grass and weeds from coming in from the other side of the fence.  

I dislike this type of edging.  I dislike it a lot.  

I assume that the elderly lady (whom I have yet to even see) no longer cares about gardening or keeping her exterior in tip-top shape.  I may help her with this in small ways if I can but I don’t want to assume that my help would be welcomed until I’ve met her.  I’m not a fan of using weed blocking fabrics, but this might actually be a perfect place for using it. 

After the grass was mostly pulled out I was able to get a better look at the irrigation pipe that so prominently stands out in this small bed.  I could definitely take this down to ground level and still have access to water here but for now I think I will just add a Y valve and attach a drip irrigation timer to it and leave the other valve open for attaching a hose. 

Irrigation is always a first concern when planting here since we very rarely get rain between May and October.

This weekend I’ll try to repair or replace the lattice work and install the weed fabric.  I will pull out the grass roots that I missed.  I will use the weed whacker to trim the edges.  I might even plant a few Moon Flower seeds that I harvested unless I simply can’t escape the siren’s call of my favorite nursery and need to take the plunge and buy something that is already green.  And then I’ll live with it for a while.