Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Today's picture/Week ten CSA flowers

The red hanging flower is called love-lies-bleeding. Amazing name, huh?! More about it here. It is edible, as are the herbs this week, dill and basil.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Mrs Bale watches a movie on DVD

Two fellows in the movie Mid-August Lunch are sitting, drinking wine, and watching the world go by.

“Some weather.”
“You said it. Plenty hot.”
“It’s August. It’s hot.”
“It sure is."

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Rust isn't only on cars

The last time I grew hollyhocks was four summers ago. If you type hollyhocks into the search bar, you may see them. When we decided on the new garden this year, I wanted to plant them again. We started the seeds inside and they were a good size when we put them outdoors. For a while the plants were a lush green and very healthy. They got tall and the buds looked great in this picture from July 30.

but the leaves had these odd little spots.

You might think, oh, those aren't so bad, but these were the leaves which were just beginning to be infected. Here are the leaves which were in worse condition.

And now, a couple weeks later

Even the buds are affected

But amidst all this ugliness, the hollyhock flowers continue to open and bloom and look as beautiful as any prizewinner, as long as you focus on just them!

When the problem first appeared I searched online and found a very informative site.

Puccinia malvacearum, the rust fungus that infects hollyhock, causes yellow spots on the upper leaf surface, and orange-brown raised pustules on the lower leaf surface.   Wet conditions promote infection by the rust fungus. The lower leaves typically show symptoms first, and the disease slowly progresses to upper leaves over the summer. Infected leaves eventually turn brown, wilt, and die. Wind and splashing rain help spread the spores of the fungus, so spacing plants to promote good air circulation can help slow the progression of the disease. Because wet conditions favor infection, water the soil around the plants rather than wetting the leaves with overhead irrigation if possible.

I grew them in the corner of the fence, and they were too crowded. Four years ago, they were out in the other garden with plenty of airflow. I did have a big problem with Japanese beetles but no rust. This year there have been very few of them around anywhere. Funny how bugs go in cycles.

So I plan to clean up very well, and next year I won't grow them in the same place again. I'll give them lots of space and will water from below. 

And I wanted to note that the mallow was also affected by rust. Hollyhock and mallow belong to the same family malvaceae

When I mentioned in the post about the new garden that I had a whole blog entry planned on hollyhocks, both Lisa and Stephanie commented that they have a terrible time with rust, so here's hoping these tips will help all of us! Stay tuned to see if next summer's hollyhocks are rust free.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

The Smartest Woman I Know by Ilene Beckerman

The Smartest Woman I Know
by Ilene Beckerman
nonfiction 2011
finished 8/11/16

I had planned to vacuum my downstairs today, but it was so, so hot (88º - remember we have no air-conditioning!) that I thought I’d better sit in front of the fan, beside the window on the north side of the house and read instead. 

I had ordered a book that was coming tomorrow, Kick: The True Story of JFK’s sister and the heir to Chatsworth by Paula Byrne, which I want to begin the minute I open the package. So, for my reading time today I knew that I needed a short book. I found this book on the shelf, and remembered that I had ‘won’ it on someone’s blog years ago. I did some searching, and found it was on the TLC book tours in 2011. There was a list of bloggers who wrote about it, and I found the one who sent it to me! 

The Smartest Woman I Know is a hundred page treasure. I thoroughly enjoyed it and highly recommend it! Rather than write a regular book report, I shall tell you about it with photos of some pages.

And one of those customers was

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Half Wild by Robin MacArthur

Half Wild
by Robin MacArthur
short stories 2016
finished 8/9/16

“What are the women where you’re from like?”

This is a question posed by the man in Hannah’s life in the last story in this new short story collection by Robin MacArthur. He’s a ‘photographer with a trust fund.’ She works as a receptionist for a graphic design firm. They live the good life in Seattle. She has gone back to Vermont because her mother has cancer. The answer to the question comes at the very end of the story. ‘They’re wild. Ridiculous. Alone in these houses.' Women who when they know they are dying can still say, “It’s okay. Grace and beauty and life and love. It’s okay.”

These short stories are set in the fictional town of Vicksburg. It is rural Vermont, hardscrabble, poor Vermont, where people are selling their land because they need the money. Family farms are disappearing and expensive houses are being built where there used to be cows and hay fields. Some stories are set in the present and some in the past. Some characters appear in more than one story. Someone might be the narrator in one story, and in another there is mention of her death. Some are narrated by women, others by men.

This may surprise you, but the author who came to mind when I was reading was William Faulkner. Not that their styles are the same. Robin MacArthur doesn’t have any sentences that go on for pages. But both writers feature rural people who are real. The reader knows that they exist outside the minds of the writers. They are not ‘types.’ They are individuals with different life experiences. 

There is an old woman who feels guilty that she didn’t speak up for the young Abenaki man her father beat up. There’s a father who kills himself because he can’t live with how he drove his handicapped son to his death. There’s a woman completely addicted to opioids and heroin. These people live in double-wides or campers or ramshackle farmhouses they can’t afford to take care of, existences that the upper middle classes could not even begin to imagine. 

I hear on the radio that there are jobs available but people need to ‘relocate’ to find them. The word is thrown out as if it is nothing. It just isn’t that easy when you love a place. This is a book about the people who stay regardless of the circumstances. And even those who go away sometimes come back. In an interview, Robin MacArthur says that she and her husband have worked all sorts of odd jobs, 
which is really what most people who live in Vermont end up doing. It’s a place where you choose your location over your career. You find a place that you want to live and then you figure out a way to make a living.
There is a couple whose house is more ‘like a collection of rooms tied together than a house - each covered in tar paper and whatever kind of siding came our way at the time - tin, plywood, pine.’ They have no electricity or running water inside. They chose not to have children because they knew ‘they never could have stood it, or liked it, like Tub and I do.’ To an outsider this kind of life might seem intolerable, unlivable, but Robin MacArthur shows the reader that they are in love and deeply happy. The author goes below the surface trappings of life to the human beings underneath. 

Robin MacArthur is the granddaughter of a woman whose music Tom and I became interested in decades ago, Margaret MacArthur who moved to Vermont in the late 1940s. You may read her obituary here which will tell you about this remarkable woman. Robin now lives on her grandmother’s land. She is also a musician in a band with her husband called Red Heart the Ticker. She has a blog here.

I first heard of this book when the author was on a radio program. I bought the book immediately and began reading it as soon as it came in the mail. You may listen to the ten minute interview here.

I loved this book.