We're in Vermont, at Smuggler's Notch Resort, having a fabulous Thanksgiving vacation. And it would have been more fabulous if my Uncle John hadn't died on Thanksgiving morning. We'll be driving home tomorrow anyway which is a good thing because the funeral is on Tuesday, with viewings on Sunday and Monday.

I loved my Uncle John. He was my mother's younger (and only!) brother. He's the one in the wheel chair in the picture I posted when Aunt Mary died. When he was younger they called him Brother to distinguish him from my grandfather, I guess, who was also John. [Note: I learned at Uncle John's funeral that he was actually John Henry Devine, Jr. ] He and Aunt Carol took us to the park once while they were dating-who would want to take their nieces on a date!

He came to my PhD graduation ceremony in 1995. That's 13 years ago-he was in better health, as was Ruth. The five of us went out for lunch afterwards. Jerry's gone now, and so is John.

I called too late to speak with him. I called to wish him a happy Thanksgiving and my cousin Rick told me that Uncle John had died about an hour before I called. Gini spoke with him on Wednesday and she said that he sounded bad. He was slurring his words-I guess the brain cancer had spread. He told Gini that he was dying but that we shouldn't feel sad-he had had a good life.

Sleep peacefully, Uncle John. At last you are pain free.

Thanksgiving! Already?

We're heading off to Vermont in about 2 hours-it's 6:30 AM here in Ossining, New York.

I'm ready for a nice quiet vacation. It's snowing in Jeffersonville, VT at Smuggler's Notch. We've packed our snowshoes and travel Scrabble, so we're ready for it all!

Plus a few mysteries and David Allen's three CD set for how to conduct a Weekly Review (shout out to Meggin, thanks!)

That should keep me busy and out of trouble.

Happy Thanksgiving, one and all. In spite of the global meltdown we have so much to be thankful for. I'm taking Brother David's book, Gratefulness The Heart of Prayer to remind me.

Outstanding in the Field

So last Saturday night we attended an "Outstanding in the Field" dinner. It was FABULOUS! And all because we saw a piece about the artist, Jim Deneven on CBS Sunday Morning way back in January. Turns out that many of those who attended the fabulous feast at the Grieg Farm in Red Hook watched the exact same piece. I know because I asked lots of people how they found out about the dinner.

Here's a picture of Jim Deneven (above, left) and Norman Grieg (above, right) during a "tour" of the farm.

And here we all are drinking Hudson Valley champagne and eating Gigi Market "skizzas" under a tree on the farm. You can't see it but off to the right there's a table that served as a bar.

The evening was special-so special that I even ate chicken (for the first time in over 20 years!) from Northwind Farm in Tivoli New York. It was listed on the menu as "poussin" - I looked this up in Wikipedia and learned that most of us would call this a Cornish game hen. Who cares-I never remember chicken tasting like this! And the farmer, Richard Biezynski, told me what vegetarian means in Indian - "poor hunter!"

I laughed but I must say that hormone free, grass fed, organic chicken might be enough to make me eat chicken again.

And in the "six degrees of separation" category among the 120 people there were two who know a colleague of mine at Pace. We sat with Sioux and her husband Pieter and the four hours of eating flew by! This photo was taken late in the evening; the "kitchen" is set up in the background, and you can almost see the table setting. What you can't see, unfortunately, is the moon, which was rising behind us. What a great way to spend our 25th anniversary!

Family Emergencies

In the immortal words of Gilda Radner, "It's always something" and boy was she right! Anne's mom was rushed to the hospital Sunday evening and on Monday we were sure we were going to have to decide whether surgery would be required (and would she survive the surgery?) or would we "wait and see" while the poor woman was in extreme pain.

After a long night of anti-biotics and an IV drip her massive infection was controlled, and by Wednesday she was asking for things again-a radio, Fixident, when can I go home?

You've got to say this for Ruth-she's a feisty lady!

And boy am I glad that this latest emergency ended so well. We're heading to the city to visit her at St. Luke's and we're hoping she'll be home by Tuesday.

Gilda was right-it is always something!

[Note: she was home by Monday and back in the hospital-this time the VA-on Tuesday, where she is as I write this on September 20.]

The Garden in August

So here's our garden in August. The only reason that the tomatoes survived is because there were so many of them.

The topsy-turvy planter has had lots of flowers but they've all been male-what's up with that?

The beans have started to come back-who knows, we might actually get some. Everything that was high up was out of reach, which is why the topsy-turvy survived.

Notice the old windows around the garden- that was working to keep the woodchucks out - for a while!

One of my favorite focal points in the garden is the planter that we've named Guennivere-she looks gorgeous, as you can see from this picture, taken last week.

When we put the garden to bed I'll put up the battery operated electric fence. I'll have to put it around the garden, especially since we have the wooden fence along the back. This should prove very interesting!

The Garden in June and July

The woodchuck family got into the garden so often that I'm surprised we have anything left. We lost three plantings of beans, two plantings of peas and who knows how many heads of cabbage and lettuce. It's a good thing that we're not trying to live off the land.

But our neighbors must have eliminated the woodchuck family because once I invested $194.00 in a McGregor Electric Fence the woodchucks disappeared-and I haven't put it up yet! So here's our garden story: this picture was taken on July 18-look at how great the peas were doing, climbing right up the poles. You can see the basil and the lettuce behind the peas. And on June 22 the beans were doing really well, as you can see in the second picture. When we got home
from vacation we found out that the day before we got home, the garden looked great. The woodchuck got in THAT MORNING and had a field day.

So we planted again!

How can it be August already?

I'm writing this from my hotel room in Denver-tomorrow I fly home after a wonderful two week vacation. The main things on my mind:
  1. How is our garden? Are the tomatoes ripe? Did the woodchuck get in?
  2. How much work is waiting for me? I know I have back-to-back meetings on Wednesday, and Monday is already hectic. Monday: PLV, Tuesday:NYC, Wednesday: GC, Thursday:MAINE!!
And I sure wish someone could tell me what happened to June and July. After Aunt Mary's funeral I spent a week at the Faculty Resource Network Summer Enrichment Seminar and two weeks on Federal Court jury duty.

I started my "new job" officially on July 1 but I had been working at it a little before. So from the end of June until July 18 there were Dean's Council and Management Council meetings, plus Strategic Planning committee meetings, plus meetings with faculty and staff.

And we left for the Southwest on July 19, so that kind of explains what happened to those months, doesn't it?

Good to get away, good to be going home.

Rest In Peace, Mary Devine, 6/5/1925-6/6/2008

My Aunt Mary died yesterday. This picture was taken at my cousin Jack's 50th birthday party two years ago-she's the one on the far left. The man on the far right is her younger brother, John-my cousin Jack's father. He's the last of the three Devine "children" - first my mother died of Alzheimer's in 1998 and now Mary died, of we think diverticulitis, the day after her 83rd birthday.

I will miss her terribly; she was my aunt, my godmother, my role model, and in many ways, my hero. She taught me about faith, hard work, independence, generosity and love. She was always there, always forgiving, and even though she could be bossy and domineering (as I've been told I can be, too!) she always had the best of everything in her heart. Anne made some calls today to let folks that she worked with know of her passing, and one of the women said that people at The Royal Globe (the insurance company where she worked for 45 years) found her intimidating because she was so smart. Smart she was, and funny, and quick and thorough. She didn't suffer fools gladly and she got the job done. Boy I sure hope I am like her - I'll need those qualities now.

Rest in peace, Aunt Mary. I only wish you had a more peaceful end but I am sure now that your suffering is over. I love you and I'll miss you.

Darwin's Garden

We went to the New York Botanical Garden on Wednesday to see Darwin's Garden. What a wonderful exhibit! And here is a view of the garden that Charles Darwin saw from his window at his home in Kent, England. Not bad, right?

The Garden

So this is what the peas look like now-this picture was taken on June 1. Pretty soon they will be climbing up the pea fence (we hope).

Our local ground hog had five babies-we think that our neighbors destroyed two of them because yesterday we only saw three. That's fine with us because the Mama ground hog got into the garden (again!) and ate two rudbekia and all of the daisies. Anne was not pleased.

I hung the terracotta "lady" planter-you can see it in the back of the center bed, which will be the cutting garden. Anne planted cosmos and marigolds in the center, and ivy and impatiens in the lady-the ivy will come down and look like hair (we hope!).

I fixed the fence and sprayed red pepper spray all around the perimeter of the garden. I hope that works because the beans, radishes and lettuces are coming up and I really don't want the ground hogs to get them!


Last year we put the pea fence up after the peas really needed them. So this year we decided to put the poles up first-what a concept! Here they are, with Anne planting peas.


So we think we have nothing to worry about, and we set up the Earth Boxes with mulch covers. These boxes are great-wheeled, with a staking set that comes with its own netting. We decide that there is no problem in leaving the boxes out. Here are some photos of us putting the boxes together. Here's Anne calling the Earth Box folks for some advice.

Turns out we didn't need it-we got them up and working in no time, and Anne planted the tomato plants we bought at the Teatown Plant Sale.

And here's what happened. Something ate through the cover-and left the tomato plants alone! Netting and duct tape to the rescue! So far, so good. Since the boxes are on wheels, we can wheel them around the property to follow the sun. Let's hope this works and we don't wind up with a $64 tomato!


So here's Anne trying to figure out how to plant the strawberries. Boy am I glad because they were living in the veggie drawer of our refrigerator before they got planted.

Here's an "after" shot-. Most of them look good. We'll just have to wait and see.

[Update: June 8-well, they don't look so good now. Either they are not getting enough sun or something is eating them, or both. We moved them into the fenced in garden yesterday, but we don't have much hope for them.]

Garden Photos

Okay, these are from last week, but at least I have some photos! Here are the strawberries that Anne ordered from Gardener's Supply (maybe?). As soon as they look more like strawberries we'll have to cover them.

And here's what the fenced in garden looks like-look at those tulips! That's the only way we can have tulips. The three raised beds are waiting for our attention! Those bags of compost are

just waiting to be opened and tossed into the beds.

The lilacs and the azaleas are gorgeous! These photos don't do them justice.


Ah, the best laid plans! We were supposed to go to Teatown for their plant sale today, but the weather isn't very promising. [Note: we actually did go, in the rain, and got lots of wonderful plants-zucchini, a patio tomato, some cat mint.]

Anne got some strawberry plants in last weekend. Our strawberry planter broke (who even remembers how or when) and we decided to plant them in long narrow boxes. We now have enough strawberry plants to go into the strawberry business. But since strawberries are usually produced with pesticides, we don't eat anything but organic strawberries. It will be nice to grow our own.

We've ordered Earth Boxes for tomatoes. The plan was to buy tomato plants at Teatown and get them into the Earth boxes-we'll see. We want to try Earth boxes because we can move them around, as the sun moves; we'll have to cover them to keep critters away from them.

We have a topsy turvy planter that we're going to try to grow zucchini in-we like zucchini but the plants sprawl and take up the entire (small) garden.

I'll post some pictures soon, as soon as the sun comes out and I can take some!

Gardens, ours and others!

Spring is finally here (I hope!) and we've been out doing garden work (finally!). Although it was raining on Saturday morning, we hurried over to Westchester Community College's Native Plant Center for the annual plant sale. Got wonderful things.

On Saturday I trimmed the bushes behind the fenced in garden, set up the bird feeders and hung the hummingbird feeder. Anne planted the area behind the garage and we put up the garden ornament that Vicki and Kristine gave us (pictures to follow!).

I've been enjoying reading the blogs of my friends Sarah and Steve (links on this blog). They have been inspiring and have helped me keep my focus.

Finally, here are some pictures from the Open Gardens on Saturday.

My battery ran out when we got to the Steinhardt garden but I have really nice pictures of Rocky Hills-look at all the forget-me-nots in the picture above. We now need tons of them for our garden!

And how about this tree house-makes me want one! This is from a garden in Chappaqua.


So here it is, the day after tax day, my taxes are filed (as of Monday, hey, it's a day early) and all I have to figure out is how I'm going to pay the $200+ I owe the feds because the refund from the state always comes much later.

Aunt Mary seems to be doing okay (although I haven't heard from her so I should check), Anne's mom is, well, Anne's mom, and life at work is life at work.

I'm enjoying this spectacular spring day and I'll work out on the porch this afternoon, finishing the last of the papers I need to mark (although if they are sent electronically are they still papers? Hey, we still talk about records even though no one makes vinyl anymore!)

Holidays-Holy Days

Holy Week-again! With Easter coming so early it feels like we just did this. I really like it when Easter and Passover are so far apart, and I really don't like it when Easter and Passover are so far apart.

I like it because then I can focus on each holiday separately-I don't have to "worry" about the first or second night seder falling on holy Thursday.

I don't like it because when the two "holy days" fall together I can really feel the connection between them.

Isn't it so human to never be satisfied!


Boy am I tired! Between turning the clocks ahead and working so hard I'm really beat. I don't remember "spring ahead" doing this to me before, but maybe that's because I don't remember anything anymore.

I had a very intense day in the city yesterday and that really wore me out. Nothing like the day I had last week, when a building collapsed and I had an adventure getting home, but still, catching the 9:11 and getting home around 10 PM makes for a long day. I know that there are folks who do this all the time, but I'm not one of them!

And now, after I do a few million things, I'll get to spend next week on house chores-it's my spring break. We're thinking of taking a road trip-I need to be in Denver from July 28 until August 1, so we might be "westward ho!"

Old Age and me

I spent yesterday at Winthrop Hospital with Aunt Mary. She had a port put in for her chemotherapy (which started at 8:30 this morning) and I read Love in the Time of Cholera for my book group. I left the house at 9:45, drove the 40 miles or so to pick her up, spent the day mostly reading, eating and waiting, then drove her home. We had dinner together and then I drove to my book group meeting.

It's hard not to worry about who'll take care of me when I'm 82. Gini keeps saying don't look at Joe or Michael, and I understand-everyone has their own lives.

I guess I have two choices-stay really, really healthy or find the lesbian old age home (soon!) so that I'll have a community of friends to care for me.

I never thought I'd be 60, never thought my mother would die, or my dad would get old, or my sister would become a grandmother. It's not that I thought these things wouldn't happen, it's more like I never thought about them.

As my friend Nancy Amy says, old age isn't for sissies, so I guess I'd better "toughen up!'

Our 60/60 Party

Well here's what 60 looks like (at least the way I'm doing 60):
I'm not really 60 until the 25th, but the party was Saturday night, and a good time was had by all (at least I hope so-I had a blast!)

Happy New Year

So here it is, 2008. How did that happen?

We sat down and worked out a set of, well not exactly New Year's Resolutions, but things that we want to do in 2008. Like spend more time together, take more vacations, stuff like that.

But the highlight of the new year (so far!) is the new outfit I bought today at Chico's for our 60/60 party (which - I can hardly believe - is this Saturday!).

Pictures to follow (for sure!).

I wish us all peace, health and happiness in 2008.