Tag Archives: family

The Secret Life of Holes

The notorious "double hole"

The notorious “double hole”

This weekend my husband and I decided that the little barn needed a bit of sprucing up – specifically, a plant, larger than my perennials, to take care of a bit of naked lawn.  I don’t know why it didn’t seem naked until the little barn was built but, there you go – sometimes you just have to trust your aesthetic sense and go with it.

We spent the morning wandering around the local nursery debating the strengths and weaknesses of dogwoods, cherry trees and hydrangea.  The shrub expert there, patiently answered our questions and showed us various plants until he introduced us to the dogwood that we fell in love with and decided to adopt.

Of course adopting a tree requires a bit of preparation, namely, digging a spacious hole for it to spread its roots in.  The first task was to decide exactly where the hole should be.  We took turns holding a 20 foot board (I’m a visual person) in various places in the yard, standing back and seeing where the new tree should live.  We finally settled on the perfect spot and set about the chore of digging with optimism and shovels.

The hole needed to be about 24” deep and as I got closer to my goal, I was astounded that I only needed my husband’s muscle and the pry bar a couple of times to remove some nasty rocks.  This is the New Hampshire, the granite state, after all.

We took a break in the early afternoon to go for a walk and check out a local trout stream for next spring.  I decided that I still had enough energy to finish up the hole so that it would be ready for the delivery of its esteemed occupant.  At exactly 24” I hit a rock that I thought should be removed and called over the pry bar expert.  Right square in the middle of my beautiful, deep round hole was a rock the size of Vermont.

We tried to remove it.  We really did.  But when the pry bar sings that particular ringing song that means it has hit something immoveable and you can’t find soft soil around even the perimeters of the bottom your hole, even true stubborn New Englanders know that it is time to let the earth be what it is and to re-examine expectations and move the damn hole.

Our tree will find a lovely spacious new hole in the ground to wiggle its youthful roots in when it arrives.  It will grow into its home, spread out so that it too becomes a part of that secret world that hides underneath the sod.  We will enjoy its blossoms in the spring and its shade in the heat of summer.  It will be wonderful, albeit, slightly to the left of perfect.  After all, this is New Hampshire, the granite state.

Stupid Cat

Jack in his Carrier

See how happy Jack is going to the vet.

It starts while I am on the phone with my son chatting about the wedding that we both attended over the weekend.  I hear that awful cat wretching noise that means that somewhere, I have partially digested animal bits to clean up.  Yes, Jack has left the remnants of his last meal up and down the basement steps and his lovely sister has participated by leaving a sympathy vomit on the porch.  Yay!!

Fast forward to bedtime where Jack spends the entire night trying to snuggle as close as he possibly can to me and then wretches every hour with loud anguished dry heaves.  Sympathetically, I push him off the bed each time anticipating sleeping in the mess but nothing appears and Jack returns cuddling his furry self up against me for the next round.

The doubt begins – Does he have something caught in his throat?  Has he swallowed a needle left from hemming the wedding dress? Has he ingested one of the pins that he insists on pulling out of the pincushion and leaving on the floor?  And the big question – Does he need to go to the vet?  I have big to does at work in the morning and he is still eating and wanting to go out although he missed his morning ritual of attacking the bath mat and throwing himself against the tub while I shower so I decide to wait.

This morning he seems better but it’s the only window of opportunity to take him to the vet without sacrificing everything I own so off we go.  You can see a picture of how happy he is about this up above.

The vet charges me $60 to tell me that he seems to be getting better (duh – didn’t I just say that?) and she can take an x-ray if we’d like (me and Jack, that is) to the tune of another $65 to see if there is pin or needle inside the cute kitty.  “What will happen if we don’t?”  I ask.  Well, he’ll either get better or he’ll get sicker and we (me and the vet, that is) will know there is something there.  “Let’s wait”, I reply and take Jack home.  Upon release from the dreaded carrier, he runs out back and begins stalking chipmunks.

So far, so good!

Casualties of the Bittersweet Wars (Almost)

This is the arch after the birds have been saved and the bittersweet (at least temporarily) defeated.

I am at war with bittersweet.  This weekend I ripped it out of three blueberry plants, tore roots out of my raspberries and almost killed an entire family of robins by chopping it out of the archway that is the entrance to my garden.

To be honest, the first bittersweet vine in my yard is one that I planted.  Years ago, some friends had made me a beautiful arch for my birthday and decorated it with grapevines and tiny white lights and autumn leaves.  It looked incredible as the twinkly lights invited me into the garden.  The grapevines eventually rotted away and left the bones of the arch.  These are made from old iron fence posts and black plastic tubing.  It was not the most lovely feature in my yard.  I planted trumpet vine gifted from a friend’s garden on one side but it was taking a long time assert itself so, on the other side, I planted the bittersweet.  It grew like a weed.

It grew larger than the arch – it grew across the arch barring entry to the garden.  It grew 12 feet high and then bent down to grab me every time I walked near.  All of this rampant growth required me to arm myself with the clippers weekly and hack away at the aggressive tendrils.  The vines bloomed and fruited with those incredible red and orange berries that just scream AUTUMN! Then the birds ate the beautiful berries (I did make wreaths out of the lovely vines and berries and placed them in tempting spots for the birds).  Through their efficient digestive systems, the birds dropped the seeds all over my yard, planting dozens of vines wherever they perched.

Which brings me back to the present.  This summer I have been watching as a pair of robins nested in the bittersweet on the arch.   I hoped that the bird that Jack ate on my front step was not the mother robin (turns out he chose a different bird family to decimate).

And then, this weekend, I attacked the bittersweet and in a fit of irritation with the efficiency of Mother Nature, forgot all about the nest and hacked down the branches where their home was built and scattered 5 baby robins across my lawn.

Horrified, I did the best that I could to carefully lift the babies back into their nest and prop the remaining bits of bittersweet branches up against the fence where they were in direct eyesight of that feline terror – Jack.  I felt guilty and sad and worried as the parents screamed at me and finally, later that day started feeding their family again.

This was by no means a permanent solution.  The nest was wide open to any and all predators that might wander by including my sweet, adorable kitties with their sharp claws and large teeth.  I let the parents have their temporary home overnight.  The next morning, my partner and I cut the nest out of the wilting bittersweet and carefully placed it into the trumpet vine that remained on the arch.  Then we got out of the way and waited for the parents to once again find the constantly moving nest.

The picture you see here is of the vine that now holds the nest.   The nest is in there (really!) and Mom and Dad robin have found their babies and are busily feeding them in their new home.  All seem well despite my efforts to wipe out the entire family. Thank goodness for the persistence of good parenting and partners who understand the importance of averting crisis!

This is my partner in crime, having helped save the bird family and finished his martini, he is scoping the magazine pages for our next great meal – what a guy….

More Singing Lessons

My singing teacher’s name is Tony.  Tony has a brilliant smile, an easy laugh and he says to me “Who told you that you couldn’t sing”?  He tells me I have a pretty good range.  He laughs when I make a mistake and tells me to try it again.  I say “I have trouble remembering tunes and singing without the piano”.  He says “You mean acapella?  Who cares?”  He tells me that even though he ‘s going to give me some exercises to help, the most important thing is singing and connecting with my audience (audience?  Oh my – slight anxiety sets in).  What’s not to like about my Thursday evenings since I started singing with Tony?

After my first lesson I sang all the way home in the car.  According to Tony, lots of his clients practice in their cars; it’s private and the acoustics rock!  I sang when I got home.  I got out my tinny electric piano and sang with that, I sang in the shower and while I ground the coffee.  I sang to the cats and got out some old sheet music and sang with that.  What a blast!

And then my sister came for a short visit.  We sat outside to have an apple and enjoy the autumn afternoon.  The trees were glorious, blazing with color.  I said: “Hey – I’m taking singing lessons”.

Her retort was quick, automatic and completely expected.  “Do you think anyone can help you”?

And this, my friends, is why I called Tony in the first place.