Saturday, June 30, 2007

Innisfree is Wonderfabulucious!!

Jess and I are still adventuring... this weekend we went to Innisfree in Millbrook NY. We were there 10 years ago and have always wanted to go again, so we wound our way there through scenic western, Massachusetts, the southern Berkshires and down the Taconic Parkway. Is was everything we remembered and more. Only pictures can give you the sense of the place and then only in the most limited way.It is a a glacial pond, huge natural rock outcroppings and a landscape magnificently enhanced by the human hand over many years. There are dozens of water features, many trails to journey down, huge expansive lawns to walk around, bridges to cross various wet lands, stone stair cases to climb, and many wonderful contemplative spots to sit and soak in the views.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Sweetside Pump Has Arrived

My water feature for the Sweetside Garden is one step closer to reality. This week the pump I ordered arrived. It is a Tsurumi, which takes half as much power as similar pumps and has a great reputation. Last week I had gone up to Chapley Gardens in Deerfield and brought home the bio-filter. Now to purchase the "rubber" liner and pad and get busy!! WooHoo!

Todd Farm Flea Market

This past Sunday I found myself and daughter Jess out in Topsfield, MA at the Todd Farm Flea Market. Wow! It was great. We had so much fun looking for deals and steals and found quite a few. One such deal was this retrofitted chair.
I know it doesn't look like much in the picture but this is a chair from the 19th century. Walter, the older gentleman who for almost 3 decades kept the Todd Farm Barn open 24/7, got to telling me a story about a barn in Boxford that he cleaned out 37 years ago. He described an old chair that the farmer had retrofitted to be his milking g stool for many years. Walter, who is in a wheel chair these days, had let Jess get out the old wooden ladder and climb into the loft to rescue the base of an old trestle table for a project of hers. That accomplished, she rummaged around the loft and found the milking chair he was describing. If for no other reason than the sentimental story behind it, I wrangled a deal and brought home the milking stool.
I will be cleaning it up and sliding it under my coffee table for a non-milking stool. I also brought home a silver plate ladle and a copper oil can which I will use for one art project or another. We gathered many small finials and other metal pieces for future assemblage projects and a host of other small items too long to list.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Hartford = Elizabeth Park & Mark Twain House

Today we took a trip to Hartford, CT. Now for many people the response to that comment would be -- WHY?? Hartford is not the best known city in New England for it's touristy sites but it has some things well worth visiting. Today we took in 2 of those: Elizabeth Park and the Mark Twain House & Museum. Both were spectacular!!

Elizabeth Park has many beautiful gardens but it's splendid rose garden is at its peak right now and with thousands of plants, some over 100 years old -- and, well -- it is quite a sight to see. And the tour guide was wonderful! This weekend is the Rose Festival there and I highly recommend it, if you live anywhere nearby.

The Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) House in Hartford, pictured below, is also amazing The architecture, interior details, hand painted walls and ceilings by Tiffany's and the amazingly detailed restoration of the property over the past 20 years is absolutely incredible. The museum building, built 3 years ago also has a lot to offer. Harriet Beecher Stowe's house and museum is next door but we had to save that for anther day.

Dinner-time found us in West Hartford at a little spot there called Arugula, that we discovered a few years ago. Tonight we sampled the flatbreads (thin, thin, crispy pizzas) -- Baird trying the duck one and me the scallop one. Fantastic!!!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Weekend Festivities

And.... we partied on! Sunday afternoon several friends joined my family and we had a fantastic Sweetside BBQ! The sun was shining and the shade was sweet. The BBQ'ed meats were sumptuous (thx Beno!) and the side dishes, wine and the fresh cut flowers brought by friends all combined to make it a most special day.

Oh yes! And that chocolate raspberry cake from Donatello's was to die for. We made fast work of polishing that off!

The garden related gifts and gift certificates to some of my favorite local garden centers are so much appreciated. I will have lots of fun with those.

And then....tada! There was this magnificent "shrine" made for me by my daughter, Jess who teaches 8th grade science and on top of that, is such a wonderful artist. No picture can do justice to her creativity but it may give you some idea. There are many levels of wood and metal, mostly recycled items. Layers of paint and pen and old pictures of me and my parents and siblings over the past 50 years. There are parts that move and doors that open to reveal more doors that open to reveal other treasures.

And still to come.... down the road, one day, you will see pictures of my water garden... when it is completed... and that will represent in part the gift from my son, Aaron who will be helping me realize that long awaited dream. Let the boulders roll!

The day ended with a few of us walking up to the new Robert Frost statue on the Amherst College campus and then getting pizza from... where else??? Antonio's!

What a wonderful BD!
Thanks Baird, Aaron, Jess , Ben and everyone!!

Monday, June 11, 2007

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Birthday Travels

Friday, June 8 was my BD..the big five-O for those of you who are very curious types. Baird planned a day long excursion to surprise me. After we went to the Registry of Motor Vehicles to renew my license (which I had managed to put off for the entire month and it was due to expire on that very day) we went to breakfast and then headed out to the eastern part of Massachusetts. For my birthday, he wanted me to pick out ornamentation for my new gardens, and so he had scouted out a garden center that specializes in water gardens and has a huge selection of garden ornamentation (in fact other than water plants, the entire place is statuary and garden ornaments). The place is Hardwicke's in Westboro, Mass. From the busy highway this place looks like a quaint old fashioned, small garden center with some interesting statuary, but once we parked and walked through the gates we saw that it stretches way back, even into adjacent woods. We strolled around the extensive grounds looking at several water gardens and stone, glass, cement & metal items of every sort. It was as we wandered down a woodland path, where ornamentation is displayed along the trail that I spotted 2 items I particularly liked, two peafowl. Both made of dark metal, one was a peacock and the other a peahen. Life sized and full bodied they were stunning, even among the bushes and fallen leaves. We carried the peacock out of the woods and set him up adjacent to a water garden feature, as that is where he would be strutting his stuff in my garden. Wow, he looked amazing. Then Baird went back into the woods and carried out the peahen and set her down. I was trying to decide between them when we decided not to split the pair and carried them both up to the main building to claim them as ours. So that is how Harriet and Calvin (named after the Beecher-Stowe's) came to live at Sweetside. It was raining yesterday so I have not yet taken their picture so you'll have to wait for the next post for that (ah the suspense). Oh, and they are handmade in Zimbabwe. More on that later too.

After Hardwicke's we went on to Marlboro for a Brazilian buffet. If you live near a Brazilian community and you have not tried this, ohhhhh my, you simply must!! Stuffed full and stocked up on Guarana soda and other Brazilian grocery items, we travelled on back roads (including some dirt ones) up to Lincoln to the deCordova Sculpture Park, where we trotted around soaking up inspiration. I am in the planning and gathering stages of building a large metal mobile to be hung from the big maple tree in my backyard.

Pictures here are from the back roads (Marlboro to Lincoln) and the deCordova. Enjoy!!

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Grand Opening of the LAOS Gallery

LAOS is an Interfaith Bookstore in Amherst, of which I am on the Board. For months we have been working on converting a rather blah & boring meeting room into a Gallery. This evening was the Grand Opening as we participated in the Amherst Art Walk. Eric Ruegg, an oil painter & MFA candidate at UMass Amherst, was our featured artist. His work will be up for the month of June. It was really exciting to see it all come together and to have people show up to see his work and learn more about the store in the process.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007


I am working on painting a huge wooden watering can for my garden. I have repainted it and now am looking for one or more garden, water, earth, flower related poem(s) to letter onto it.

Some may remember that last month I got this plywood piece through Freecycle and it was painted dark blue. It is 6' x 4' at it's widest points. There are 2 identical pieces that get screwed together to give it some depth and then it is held into the ground, at an angle, by a large stake. Several wires come out of the spout , like water. The sky (background) color of the piece is bird's egg blue (looks white here but it's not).

So, any suggestions for what to letter on it?? Leave a comment (or email me) with an author, title or searchable line from your pick.