Crowz Nest

Because it's time... as it was once before.

My Photo
Location: Port Murray, NJ

I'm a bit old to be starting out in life again, but that's where I am. Sadly. Or gladly. It's where I am. Come along. Watch the fun. Inch by inch, row by row, gonna make this garden grow.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Way, way down Memory Lane

You can click on any of the photographs to see a larger version
This past weekend I attended a reunion. During the last couple of years of high school, I became involved in the senior high youth group in my church. It's sort of hard to explain what this group really was like, and what it meant to all of us. "Church youth group" doesn't come close. We were about music, and there were some extraordinarily talented people. (That's three of the very talented musicians below - Don Mackenzie, Lisa (Peck) Prokopowitz, and my older brother, Mark Palmieri) We were about the time - the late 60s and early 70s and all that went with that era - "the War," as if it were the first and last and only and needed no further identification - and all the political and social pressures of an age that broke old rules and made new ones. It was also about religion, but nothing was shoved down our throats. I know that the roots of my own belief system were sent down during those days, and took firm enough hold that through the years something strong, and powerful, and enduring grew from them. A faith that surprises me has always been there to see me through some very difficult times, though I'm pretty sure the church wouldn't recognize most of what I believe.

Our church had been named by the Presbytery as one of a few "teaching churches." Our youth group leaders were students at Princeton Seminary. For me, the first two were Don Mackenzie and Greg Meister. Then came Paul Debenport and John Pohling.(That's me with Paul. Seeing him and Nona again was an amazing feeling - proof that years can melt away.) Following them were Bob Saxby and Rich Fennig. Don was the first to bring the music, and the youth of the town and surrounding towns followed. Our group grew. Mushroomed. It was my first experience of the dynamic made famous decades later in
Field of Dreams. "If you build it, they will come." They came, in the dozens. There was, of course, a small core group. Many of us traveled down to Princeton frequently to visit with Paul and his wife, Nona, and they became, as Steve put it, "PaulnNona," an entity that was nurturing and safe and loving. To us, they were adults. What was a huge difference in our ages back then became funny when Nona and I talked about it this weekend and realized there's only 5 years between us.

It was my first experience of true community and what that can come to mean in your life. It remains, to this day, something quite unique in my experience. Still, when we scattered, despite our ties, we scattered widely and lost touch with one another. So, when my brother, Steve, mentioned to me that he wanted to plan this reunion my first thought was that it was an undertaking unlikely to succeed. Immediately following that thought, I also knew that if he were to pull it off, I would have to attend.

Thanks, Steve. This was an enormous undertaking. It required energy and focus and determination to pull it off. And it was worth it for all of us who came. I hope it was worth it for you.That's Steve with Don Purkey. Perk was the minister of the church from 1963 until 1976. He was the one who shepherded all of the student ministers through the program.

It was a wonderful weekend. It rained the whole time - poured, in fact. The hour's drive from home and back again, made Friday night, Saturday, and again on Sunday, wasn't easy. By the time I was driving home on Sunday I was nodding off with my eyes open. But it was well worth the effort. I reconnected with people I'd been so close to, but whom I had lost over the years. Beyond that, I forged new, deeper connections with people I hadn't really known very well at all back then, and discovered shared interests and more in common with some than I ever could have guessed.

Memory Lane is sometimes a foggy road, with blurred images rushing past, details lost in the mists of time. Sometimes, it's a hazardous road there's no reason to travel down again, and I turn back quickly. This trip down Memory Lane was one with unforeseen dividends. Shadowy memories took the sunlight well, and as I came back into the here and now, I was able to bring back with me tangible, valuable gems from the past. Solid now, with all the detail clear and their facets refracting accurately, their value can be active again in my life. I will place them prominently, keep the dust off of them, and let them work their miracles.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

The great impersonator

Things are not always what they seem. After the last few months of my life, I should know that. But, back to my story ...

I am a diligent poop-scooper-upper - more diligent than I have ever been before, possibly because I'm also the most diligent mower of lawns with whom I've ever lived, and the two go together very nicely. Just ask my Muck Shoes.

So, I ask you, what do you think this is?

Or this? I've used an intentionally fuzzy image because I'm often fuzzy myself when doing yard clean-up.

Toadstool. Mushroom. Fungus. Whatever. Fooled me. And now I know why the word "mushroom" is also a verb.

intr.v. mush·roomed, mush·room·ing, mush·rooms

1. To multiply, grow, or expand rapidly: The population mushroomed in the postwar decades.

The Lilies of the Valley are done. I have a new invasion. At least I keep up with it because I think it's poop. It's not. It's only the Great Poop Impersonator.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Sedum, sedum, everywhere

Well, that yellow stuff is sedum stenopetalum. I had to know.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

It isn't boring me...

but maybe it's boring you. Right now, the Mets are on TV (nothing new there,) it's raining out so I don't have to worry about going out to sprinkle water on my newly planted plants (nothing new there either,) the dogs are tired (thankfully,) and there's some sort of buzzing insect rattling around inside the window, asking to be let out (I'll get to it ... if I make the dogs wait 'cause I'm blogging, the darned bee can wait, too,) it needs to be vacuumed in here (definitely nothing new there, even though I did it last night, and the night before, but did I mention it's raining? I only groom these guys outside these days.) Ooooo ... El Duque just got Abreu on a swinging strike on an off speed breaking ball ... impressive.(Darned slow shutter on this digital camera - there were two sleeping dogs when I framed this, and only one awake dog by the time the shutter opened and closed, but the hair on the carpet never moved.)

Ok, Ok. I hear you. It's boring you. But it's my life, and if I'm finding delight in the tiniest details of keeping this boat afloat, I consider it to be a childlike, charming trait that was missing in me for most of my adulthood.

Besides, when you come home and see the new blooms along your front path every day, and realize that your hands, your efforts, your attention helped nurture this beauty who could be anything less than enchanted with the details of their own little corner of the galaxy?Those are baby grapes in there. See them?

This is celosia. If any plant ever managed to look like a flame, this is the plant. I really like these, and really like it that they're doing so well.

That's Hens and Chicks, and some yellow something. I don't know what it is. It's at least the third sort of ubiquitous ground cover that's saving me from needing to mow large portions of the front yard.

I wondered what these strange plants would yield. I don't know what sort of lily this is, but it's the most spectacularly deep and vivid orange imagineable and it smells like a heaven full of spices and citrus.

Excuse me. I've got to go let a bug outside.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Need I say more?

The sun is shining. It's cool and dry. And having suffered for years, I'm loving this June (you'll need to click on the image twice to see what's got me so pleased):

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Inch by inch, row by row...

it's an old folksong - that's how the garden grows, inch by inch, row by row. I haven't thought that much was really happening out there. After the irises bloomed and faded, it seemed that nothing much was happening. But I just took a look at the photographs from a month ago and compared them to today. And look! Inch by inch, it's growing.
My tractor's been in the shop for about three weeks now. I borrowed a Snapper push mower from a friend at work. It does a great job, but it's people powered, and I'm the people. Joe arrived this morning a few minutes before I finished the back yard. I'm sure I was the vision of alluring woman - sweaty t-shirt, garden snippers clipped to my pants' waist, hair flying out in all directions from beneath a baseball cap... Ox woman is nothing if not alluring!

As usual, the man arrived with a plan and an SUV filled with stuff for the garden. This time he brought top soil and five pots of hostas.

We spent some time weeding, and then planted the hostas in some emtpy spots. I'd bought fresh basil for a tomato buffalo salad, and it came as a complete plant, including root ball that you're supposed to keep wet in the wrapping to keep the basil fresh. I decided to try to plant it. The oregano, which is the prettiest plant, has begun to flower. I transplanted some of that over by the basil, too. One of my clients, Shirley (fondly known as "Crazy Shirley") sent me a miniature blueberry bush for my birthday. We planted that, as well.Slowly but surely, this garden is growing. Slowly but surely a plan is emerging in my mind, a picture of what I really want to do out there. Now that I have the vaguest idea of what I'm doing, and a better idea of what's already out there, next year will be even more fun than this year has been.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

When the cable's out...

When I got home today, well before the storm rolled through, it was clear that something had been going on in the neighborhood. There was a police car at the intersection of Rt. 57 and Main St. And another one next to my house, with flares and a "road closed" sign blocking Kerrville Rd. The power was off. I took the dogs out, and was only out about 15 minutes. The power was back on when we came back in (though, judging from the temperature of stuff in the fridge, it must have been out most of the day...) And the cable was out, and didn't come back on till almost 8:15. What to do when the cable's out? And the Mets have a night off?...

GameDay with the Indians!! Go Tribe!

It's raining...

It's been dry. Really dry. I can't even remember the last time it rained here, but locally, we've barely gotten more than a brief shower since March. When I got home from work, it was a steamy 90 degrees F, and thunder was rumbling all around, but the sky overhead was glaring, white, and the sun was blazing.

I had the doors open in the living room. Right around 6:00 p.m. the thunder storm rolled through. The wind picked up, and the air spilling through the living room felt wonderful after the dead, sodden air all afternoon.

It rained. It was a downpour. It was one of those storms that rattle around right overhead for a very long time, with percussive claps of thunder coming simultaneously with blinding bolts of lightning. It's a sensory delight. I think I can smell the lightning. I can feel the thunder in my stomach. I swear I can SEE the grass growing. The drought's been hard on the plants. I think I can hear them drinking. [Maybe the clematis that wasn't doing so well on my nightly watering will revive (3 of the 4 plants I planted seemed to be doing ok, but I'm not sure that the fourth one will make it...)]

Here's another view of my grateful, quenched garden, taken from the front porch (seet the back of the rocking chair?).
It's dropped 20 degrees. The storm's passed through. The air has a hint of freshness to it, welcome after a week of prematurely hot and sticky weather that came so suddenly I hadn't even taken down the storm doors. The only reason I'm not happier than I am is that my tractor is still in the shop. After having done it once before the heat struck, now that it's hot, I'm not looking forward to mowing again with the push mower my friend Cathy lent me, and now that it's rained, it's definitely going to need to be done ...

To paraphrase Meg Ryan in "Joe Vs. The Volcano," yeah, it's always something with me, isn't it?