Thursday, April 26, 2012

Earth Day, Green Week

Towns around us are celebrating Earth Day. Our celebration "Earth Day is Our Day" is this Sunday. I'm on the organizing committee, and we've assembled a plethora of activities and opportunities to celebrate and learn about green living. There will be local experts and citizens who will answer questions about their electric or hybrid cars or solar panels. (I wrote a promotional article about that for our local paper you can find it here.) You can learn about bee keeping or learn to knit. There will be zumba and kids' games, seed planting and rain barrel sales. And amazingly, a local guy will bring his carousel band organ just back from repair in England.

All this inspired me to get greener around my house as well. I finally caved in and bought an outdoor laundry dryer. I've been contemplating for 2 years about where to hang our old lines from tree to tree in this yard, but nothing seemed to work. So I spent about $50 on a good one. We set the base in concrete last Saturday and yesterday it made it's trial run. Excellent!

While the laundry was drying I mowed the lawn.

I must have spent a bit too much time in the yard out in the grass. Doug removed a tick from my leg last night. I won't show a photo of that. But here's photo evidence of a much less pesky little neighbor:

The lawn definitely looks dry for April. We had a two week run of hot weather with no rain until last weekend when we got a couple inches over a short period. Since we'd planted seeds in the garden, I had nearly used up the filled bottles of water from previous rains, and the rain barrel was empty. But it's full again (along with many jugs and buckets) in case of another dry spell.

While Earth day is inspiring me in a good way to green my life, fear is also a motivator because of the the unprecedented high temperatures, early spring, news of seal pups on the beaches two months early, and April wildfires rather than April showers.

Here's one more green activity from the week. I turned some free, holey rummage sale sweaters into mittens for next year. I used this tutorial and did pretty poorly on the first bluish green pair. But that brown pair with the embroidery turned out great. I'll be making more, and as will any new skill: practice makes (closer to) perfect.

What new green activities are you trying this beautiful spring?

Monday, April 16, 2012

Inevitable Daffodil Post

Yes, I think I have done one of these posts every year since we moved to MA. But I can't help it. This naturalized daffodil meadow planted by the previous owners is one of the things I love best about this house. The first photo is the view from the deck. The next few show the variety of blooms. I think as the years go by, hybrids become genetic mutants, freaky fantastic flowers derived from those traditional types.

Daffodils have made their way inside the house too. This beautiful little painted cup was $1.50 at our recent church rummage sale (half price during the last half hour).

Other blooming plants include the cherry trees and viburnum. Lilac is on the way.

I'm planning to put bean and pea seeds into the garden tomorrow, but last year's kale is going strong already.

Please tell me what is blooming in your part of the world. What's going on in your vegetable garden? I'm confused about when to plant because of the heat and dry weather. This feels like July not April. Last year at this time, we were still having freezing nights. Today it got well into the 80's on the day of the Boston Marathon.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Town Meeting, Mooo....

Here in Massachusetts, our town government is very interesting. We have an elected Board of Selectmen and School Committee and an appointed Finance Committee. All these bodies hold hearings, plan budgets and accept proposed articles from citizens on town business. Once a year a Warrant of Articles get sent to every household. Then a multi-night meeting takes place where all registered voters can go and speak and debate. Then the citizens vote. They approve the budget (or not). They make amendments. They argue about technical legal and financial municipal rules. It is very wonky and quite a free for all.

Last night one of the articles proposed to lower a surcharge on our taxes that goes into a dedicated fund to support conservation, historical preservation and low-income housing in town. The fund has gotten quite large in anticipation that the 200+ acre farm that is across the road from us will at some point in the near future be available either for development or conservation restriction (or some combination). There is a contingent in town very concerned and doing good work to keep our taxes from continuing to grow. Our taxes are high for the state because we have incredibly wonderful, well-funded schools and very little business or industry. Amazingly, the town is a semi-rural enclave only 20 miles from Boston. There are conservation areas, national wildlife sites and farms everywhere.

Thankfully, people voted overwhelmingly to support continuing this fund. In fact, this vote took place around 10 pm and right after the proposal failed, about half the crowd got up to go home. (They didn't care as much about the hour-long argument that followed to create a dedicated water fund.) I was truly heartened to know how deeply people in this town want to preserve its open space and beautiful character.

Here are some of my neighbors.

Town meeting continues tonight and likely another night after that too.
Democracy at work!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Beautiful Easter

We spent a lovely day in Boston today. Doug's been doing a lot of exploring during his lunch walks and took us to see some new (to us) sights.

First, the Boston Public Library, and there was a book sale going on!

The stairway with sculptured lions was a bit reminiscent of the New York Public Library to me. I'll have to investigate which lions came first.

Beautiful mosaic ceilings in the entrance.

The contrast of old and new architecture as seen from the indoor courtyard. Hancock building framed by the library.

The tour then took us through the public gardens where exuberant people entertained the crowds watching the flowers bloom, the willows sway and the blushing brides (behind the sax player).

An anime convention was going on. Were these ladies on their way?

Onto the Statehouse where Occupy Boston is now protesting transit fare hikes. It's hard to understand why our state would want to send a message that driving into Boston is preferable to taking the T while placing an increasing burden on poorer citizens who depend more heavily on public transportation. By the way we parked at Riverside and took the Green Line!

Next we headed into the Beacon Hill and ended up on charming, exclusive Acorn street, where more care is taken in the window boxes than in our whole yard.

The view from the top. Might the 1% live here? They really don't have to take the T. They're in the center of everything.

We ended the day with dinner in the North End. YUM
Thanks honey for a great day.

Happy Easter and Passover to all. Hope your weekend is lovely.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

April's Song

What a wonderful way to begin the month. This morning was "Music Sunday" at church. Our remarkable adult choir, children's choir, guest soloists, and piano and percussion players performed Carl Orff's Carmina Burana.

This church amazes me every week with its talented, humane, welcoming congregation. Today this austere beautiful building was filled to the rafters with laughter, joy and song.

Is it rare that a church would perform this piece on Palm Sunday? I believe it is. Orff wrote the music to accompany selected 10th to 13th century poems found in Germany in 1803. The Carmina Burana's overall thesis is that in both life and love, man is the pawn of capricious fate. With the famous "O Fortuna" as the first and final of the 24 songs. In between come songs of tragedy, whimsy and love.

The photos were mostly taken during rehearsal. The performance was time to focus on the music fully.

Some song descriptions follow.

Veris leta facies (Spring's joyous face shines upon the earth)

Floret silva (The forest is becoming green again, but where is my lover? He has ridden far away. Who will love me now?)

Estuans interius (Inwardly burning with violent rage, I speak bitterly to my soul.)

Si puer cum puellula (If a lad were to dally in a room with a sweet lass, what a happy union!)

The piece including the children's choir of cupids: Tempus est iocundum (Oh,oh, oh! I am bursting out all over! I am burning all over with first love!)

And the silliest: Olim lacus colueram ("Once a lake was my home" the song of a roasted swan about to be served "Miserable me! Now I am black and roasting fiercely!"

The performances of our choirs and guests were spectacular. The ovation went on and on. I carried the feeling of joy and renewing spring out with me into my day.

Information about the work and the translations are from our church service bulletin from the Grove Concise Dictionary of Music and Michael Moore from 2004 program notes for the Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia.