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Saturday, June 30, 2012

Covered In Bees, And Smiling!

Our Dion saw his vet today.
And the news is good!

His bloodwork is actually better than it was a week ago.
After ruling out many things, the mystery is still:
why is he in such a decline?
The most likely culprit is his little heart.
Heart problems plague the Cavalier breed, and Dion's been
very lucky in not having this develop until he was well up in years.

So . . . a new heart medicine is being added to his current one, 
and we will know within the week if it is helping.

I have decided to believe that it WILL help.
Because it's just gotta, you know?

Meanwhile, I must fly -- We've got guests coming
in a couple of hours for Anne's graduation party!
Tent's up, but I'm still in the kitchen. 

Till later, my friends ... and thank you so very much for your
kind thoughts; you make me cry, but in a good way. -- Cass

Friday, June 29, 2012

Please, Your Kind Thoughts

We are waiting, here at That Old House,
for our beloved dog Dion
to decide it is time to leave us.

At 13 years and 4 months, Dion -- our Peter Pan, our perpetual
teenage prankster -- is getting tired.  It's become clear
over the last few weeks that his life is winding down.

 Resting on Anne's lap.
Sometimes Dion wants to be with one of his people;
other times he asks to be left alone.

Dion in 2010.
He could easily hop onto all the furniture, and
even onto kitchen counters to cruise for snacks.

 Also in 2010, at my Dad's 90th birthday party,
sneaking snacks from the kids. 

Walks are short now, just around the house,
and sometimes Dion's legs don't cooperate.
He is closer to the ground than he used to be.
Even chipmunks don't much interest him anymore.

It's hard for me to reconcile this handsome young man. . . .

 with this sweet little old guy.
Dion has lost some of his special dog powers that made him
such a special dog, but he hasn't lost one bit of our love.

If you are a pet owner, you know how we are feeling.

Dion is a strong link to our past;
he is the last of our trio of wonderful Cavaliers,
the dogs our girls grew up with.
He was born when Alida and Anne were in middle school,
and they are grown women now.
They were puppies together, Dion and his "pet girls."

I'm not ready to lose him, and all the memories
contained in his small and loving self.
Wish him luck, please; he has a vet appointment in the morning,
and I'm hoping there is yet another treatment or medication.

They break our hearts, our dogs.
They also fill them.
Thanks for listening. -- Cass

Monday, June 18, 2012

I'm Covered In Bees

And that does not mean what you might think.

Not this.

Nor this.

No, being covered in bees means being too busy.
It means having 3 months' worth of stuff to do, and 11 days to do it.
I'm beginning to realize that being covered in bees
just might be my natural state.
Kinda scary, that.
(More on the bees at the end of the post.)

I can be a self-starter, when I have a good reason to start myself.
My favorite reason is . . . a party.

On Saturday, June 30th, we're having a party to celebrate our daughter Anne's grad school graduation.
I've got a To-Do List -- but you knew that, didn't you? -- and some of it is actually getting To-Done.

Some small changes.  The convex mirror over the fireplace . . . 

is replaced for the summer by a watery-cool watercolor, painted decades ago by my cousin Bill.

It's leaning on the mantel.  It was too big to hang from the mirror hook!

Wacky picture of the day -- one of the front windows,
reflected in the mirror that's temporarily resting on a chair, awaiting its summer job.

Outside, Howard and Anne yanked most of the mint out of the patio
border this weekend, where it had gone all Organized Crime on us
and muscled in on every other plant's turf.

Below -- Mint strangling poppies.  A mob hit for sure.

Now, most of the mint has been rubbed out
(it's how we do it in Jersey -- we take no prisoners) and is
wearing tiny cement overshoes, waiting to be dumped into the
Hudson River to swim with the fishes.

Or, to get picked up at the curb in tidy brown paper bags
destined for the municipal compost heap.

We also took out a massive load of overgrown ivy.
There is still plenty of that, if anyone is interested.  Free Ivy!  Get your Free Ivy here!

That's the top of a tomato plant at the bottom of that snapshot, above.  We are watching
our baby tomatoes grow, and hoping the chipmunks and groundhogs won't get to them first.
But, yeah, we know they will.

We have a married pair of groundhogs -- or woodchucks -- burrowing merrily all over our yard.
They have made enormous holes behind the stone retaining walls.
If those old walls collapse because of those danged groundhogs, I am suing them.
Or, finding tiny cement overshoes that will fit their creepy little feet.

Daughter Alida's mother-in-law Billie told me that putting fresh dog poo down the burrows will scare
the groundhogs away.  Finally!  All Dion's efforts at abstract lawn sculpture will not be in vain.

Now, about being covered in bees . . . 
this was part of the parlance that Anne and her grad school
classmates used to describe being too busy and stressed,
which pretty much defines graduate school, or so I hear.
There are levels of bee-dom.
Covered in Bumble Bees is: normal grad school stress.
Covered in Yellow Jackets is: I have a big project due ... tomorrow.
Covered in Africanized Killer Bees is: finals!

Anne wants to make sure I credit comedian Eddie Izzard with originating the phrase
Covered In Bees, even though his use of it has nothing to do with stress.
But ain't it a handy little phrase?

Visit some other bloggers who are posting this Monday.
At Little Red House, it's Mosaic Monday.  Click here!
At Between Naps On The Porch ... What else?  Metamorphosis Monday.  Click here!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

It's Flag Day!

"I pledge allegiance to the flag of The United
States of America, and to the republic for
which it stands; one nation, under God,
indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

And so began every school day for me,
more years ago than I care to admit.  

My relationship with the Pledge of Allegiance nowadays is pretty limited,
and I'm guessing yours is, too.  Unless you are a teacher.  Otherwise,
when was the last time you recited it, with your right hand over your
heart, your body turned toward the nearest American flag?

Today, June 14th, is Flag Day in the USA.
It commemorates the day in 1777 when the Second Continental Congress
adopted the Stars and Stripes as the emblem of the fledgling country.

File:US flag 13 stars – Betsy Ross.svg

In this afternoon's sun, a newly purchased flag
flew briskly from the porch at That Old House.
That's our old flag, next to the front door.
It is sadly worn, and ready to retire; we'll dispose of it properly this weekend.
Thank you, Howard, for the new one.  You remembered:  sewn stripes and embroidered stars!

In May 2009, our daughters Anne and Alida visited Dollar Tree
and stocked up on red, white & blue bling for That Old House.
That flag is the one now retiring; it had flown at our former house, and served for a good many years.

My, my how tasteful and restrained the girls' decorating was.
I am still glad that we had the house repainted last year,
from yellow to white, but I sure do miss the shutters!

Dear Shutter Fairy,
Please send a pot of money so That Old House
can look not naked anymore.  Many thanks.

As for Old Glory, 
I can't watch it pass in a parade without getting all teary.
But then, I cry at Hallmark commercials.
Ask my kids.

In this intensely political year,
as we duke it out in our only national election,
it doesn't matter where we land on the political spectrum:
The flag flies for all of us.

I love the last two lines of our national anthem:

"O say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?"

with their reminder that we cannot take the republic for granted.
I wonder how many other national anthems end
with the question: does the nation still stand?

Tomorrow's Friday, and it's minivan adventure time!
-- Cass

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Not the Best of Times, Not the Worst of Times

For about forever, our days here in northern New Jersey
have started with sun, and wound up with rain.
Yesterday was pretty much all rain.
This doesn't encourage a lot of gardening around here;
I am not a mudder.
Okay, who else is channeling Kramer?

But today started with the Sun.
Mother Nature, being the hilarious practical joker that she is,
tossed in some heavy morning clouds to tease us,
but it looks as if we've got some clear days ahead.

We will finally get our Spring planting done, just days before Summer.
Right now, ain't a whole lot going on in the yard at That Old House.
Thank goodness for perennials.

Up on the top of the stone wall along the patio, lavender thrives among the hydrangeas and ivy.

Our beautiful silken poppies are all pooped out.
Their foliage is being trampled by spearmint;
the good thing about yanking mint is how great your hands smell.

Climb into the Time Machine, and you are sitting on someone's floor,
listening to a Jethro Tull record on someone's stereo.  Have we dated ourselves yet?
Well, here is a different Jethro Tull -- a hybrid Coreopsis that is amazingly prolific.
If you see it -- buy it and plant it.  Trouble free and beautiful.
It doesn't play the flute, but its petals are fluted.  Ha!  I just got the connection.

An old fashioned ramblin' rose at the back of the house, outside the powder room window.

I've never seen the roses get this shabby on the branches;
other summers they were eaten by trespassing deer.  Who are mysteriously absent this year.

The hedges along the driveway are coming into bloom.
The smell is heavenly.

It's a Fern Fest, along the shady part of the stone border.
There were a handful when we moved here; now there are a ba-jillion.
Should we be frightened?  Ferns are such primitive, alien life forms.

Down from the ferns, some good ol' orange daylilies.

Mother Nature sure goes to a lot of trouble for a blossom that lives one stinkin' day.

Atop the stone wall, along the driveway, Sedum and Daylilies.
Personally, I am not a big Sedum fan.  For most of the season the blossoms look like broccoli.
Then, in the Fall, they get ugly.

But I do like Daylilies, with their short, tragic lives.
Ah, my red minivan is chomping at the bit for a junking adventure.

Now that the weather is improving, it's time to get the Russian Sage
and the Knockout Roses and some show-off annuals in the ground
or into pots.  And the weeds out of the ground.
'Cause we are having a party.
June 30th.
To celebrate Anne's grad school graduation.

Yes, I have a TO DO List.  Don't ask.

So like last year, in late June, That Old House is getting slapped into shape for a party.
Thank goodness it's already painted, and the white paint hasn't worn off yet!

Take a look at the front part of the house, on the right of this picture.
See how uneven the clapboards are?  All wiggly, and different sizes?
That's cause they are 180 years old, and are the original cedar boards,
cut on site from local trees when the house was built in 1832.

I have to say, vinyl siding won't last 180 years and still be in great condition.
But then again, neither will I.

Visit Susan at A Southern Daydreamer for more of Outdoor Wednesday.  Click here!
Outdoor Wednesday: Click on the picture below to learn more...

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Something Old, Borrowed, or Blue. Nuthin' New!

I am not very good at 'scaping things.
As in, tablescaping, mantelscaping (I think
I just made up that word), or even landscaping.

In my world, things mostly just sort of land someplace,
and that's often where they stay.
For instance, this oil painting by my Aunt Lillian landed on our sunroom
windowsill several weeks ago . . . and yes, it is still there, and kinda spooking me out.
See what I mean?
But today it is raining.  All day.  It's  damp and ugly outside,
and occasionally smells like wet dog inside. 
Yes, Dion, I'm looking at you.

So, I decided to mantelscape the Parlor so that at least one room
at That Old House would have some pretty going on.
I didn't take a before picture, because the before was a bare mantel.
I still have many of my cousin Janet's things waiting for their
permanent homes, so I took some of them and did a quick 'scape.
A crazed white ironstone pitcher holds fake hydrangea blossoms.
Our own hydrangeas are in bud, but not blooming yet.
Isn't that bird darling?
On the other side of the mantel, a small painting
by my cousin Bill, Janet's brother.

I leaned it up against a gilt mirror from the apartment.

We are not lighting fires now until the Fall, so another
of Bill's paintings fills the blank, black firebox with color.

 As the afternoon wore on, the day got darker (duh!)
and the rain steadier and heavier.
Note to self:  Next rainy day?  Put out some candles!

Yes, it is dark and dreary this Tuesday afternoon.
But at least everything is nice and green outside.

 If I drank heavily in the afternoon, these pictures might look like this: 

But I don't, so they don't.

Have a lovely rest of the day, and visit Marty at A Stroll Thru Life for more Tuesday posts!  -- Cass