Wednesday, November 5, 2008


Saturday, November 1, 2008

Yesterday's Apple

No time for the traditional cooperative pumpkin carving, so I carved an apple instead.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Farewell Martha/Purple T-shirts

Martha's celebration of life was Friday night. Something like 12 ONE members came to perform for her friends and family. Matt, Jasmine and I came early enough to be there for all of the speeches. I learned so much about Martha that I didn't know, since I only knew Martha the drummer, not Martha the friend, wife, mother, gardener, dancer... every piece brought into greater focus the picture of a woman I knew only from one angle. After all the speeches we played three songs that Martha knew. I played very badly at first, and started feeling very self-conscious... but the last song was Kokyo which I've known well enough and long enough to let myself go. We were trying to have fun and celebrate Martha's life, so we'd chosen Kokyo as an upbeat festive ending. Then we invited her friends and family to come up and drum if they wanted. A lot of them did... just playing whatever they felt like. I'm having trouble expressing how fitting it was as a sendoff for Martha's spirit. It was a big, loud, outpouring of passion.

Saturday night we had our new members party. A lot of us became members over the summer (with the institution of the community membership), but we had to wait a while for the celebration... the timing ended up a bit strange given what we were doing the day before... then again maybe we needed the party even more.

Only ONE members get purple t-shirts.

Thursday, September 25, 2008


Last year, I created a concept plan for a playground for the Professional Center for Child Development. Today I saw the playground in use for the first time.

Monday, September 22, 2008

A Crash and my Sanshin

Saturday was my first day back, and I couldn't stay away from my taiko friends. Even after spending oodles of time together, Karen was still willing to pick me up so we could go see some other Odaiko New England members perform at an outdoor event in West Boylston.

It was great to see them. They did such a good job. I had fun, broke my sunglasses, and got a sunburn. After hanging out for a bit, Karen and I headed home.

We were casually chatting, passing Brandeis, not far at all from my house... when a red car traveling the other direction got kinda close to the center line and then swerved the other direction, flying over the curb, up a steep embankment, hit a tree, and landed with a bang on the edge of the road. I called 911 on Karen's phone... eventually the driver got out of the car on her own... Karen and I helped her get her things from the back seat, trying to encourage her to come away from the car since there was a noticeable gas leak... but something was wrong with her leg, so it didn't seem easy for her to walk... there was an off-duty fire fighter on the scene... the police, fire, ambulance all showed up (at least I think there was a fire truck there)... Karen and I were concerned with the woman's welfare, but we also had to talk to the police as witnesses... In the end, it seems like the driver of the crashed car will be okay and no one else was involved.

The rest of Saturday was mostly asleep.
Most of Sunday was asleep.

This morning I woke up, still a little unsure of where I was initially. (I can't shake the feeling that I'm in a new place, instead of at home. This isn't all that surprising given the fact that over two and a half weeks my lodging changed something like 9 times.)

Unfortunately, when I woke up this time, I started thinking about all the things I need to get done. I have a lot to do. I have a LOT to do.

But this morning I decided to procrastinate by playing my sanshin.

"Sanshin?" you ask.

It's an Okinawan musical instrument with three strings that are played by plucking. The name sanshin literally means "three strings".

When I was at the Kodo apprentice center, one of the apprentices (Masa) taught me a couple of lines from Shima Uta, a very well known Okinawan song. So, before I left Japan I bought a sanshin.

I would definately rather play my sanshin than get caught up on billing my clients.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Home: Happy, Sad, and Disoriented

(The Japan trip is in a separate blog... but here is my final entry.)

We made it back, safe and sound.

We said goodbye to Yoko in the train station.
We flew across the world with Victoria, and said goodbye to her in JFK airport.
Then the ONE four rented a van, and drove back to Boston.

Karen and Joy were so nice that they dropped Matt and me at home before returning the van to the airport. It was super duper nice that we got to be home with our cats right away. It was so late I can't remember what time it was... around 2 am?

With jetlag, it didn't feel exactly like bedtime, and there were a few things to do around the house: making the bed, closing the windows, some cat petting to do... it took a while before we were in bed.

I woke up a few hours later. The morning sun was sneaking in, lighting up the room. I could see clearly, but I had no idea where I was. For a moment, I wasn't even sure who was in bed next to me. I actually said "where are we?" to my sleeping husband before it all came together. We were home. I was waking up in my own bed, next to Matt, and the trip to Japan was more than a dream.

A while later, two of our three cats came to snuggle with us on the bed. I was so sad to leave Japan, to say goodbye to so many wonderful people, but there were some things I missed.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Off to Japan

I'll be back on the 19th.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


Over a year ago, Martha stopped coming to Taiko classes because she needed to undergo Chemotherapy.

Today I found out that she passed away.

This picture just hints at her enthusiasm and the warmth of her smile.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

A-B Camping 2008

A few years ago, Evenewra moved to the East coast (NJ) from the West coast, and we decided to start a tradition of camping together every year. The first camping trip was August of 2006 and Evenewra was pregnant. The next year, N was an 8 month old infant, and now she's an adorable toddler:

Largely because I feel incredibly behind in life, have a lot of obligations, and am preparing to go to Japan in a couple of weeks, the camping trip was shorter and less remote this year, but we all had a great time.
Here's Evenewra's take:

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Getting It Together

So, I haven't posted in two months... what's been going on?

Over the late winter and into the spring, I found myself feeling strangely exhausted, sometimes weirdly thirsty at the same time. The exhaustion didn't feel like normal lack of sleep... it was deeper, and lying down to take a nap didn't work all that well. I had difficulty concentrating, and eventually I started feeling vaguely nauseous when I was also feeling tired. All these symptoms were very vague and only gradually got worse, so it took a long time to figure out that I needed to see a doctor. It wasn't until I realized how much trouble I was having getting work done...

...long story short my thyroid has been malfunctioning. I started taking levothyroxine four weeks ago today, and I think I've started to feel better. I'm still feeling tired sometimes, but more often it corresponds to when I'm actually underslept. I have been able to be productive a lot more of the time, my concentration has improved, and I haven't been feeling nauseous anymore.

Now I'm trying to get caught up with everything. Fortunately, my sister came to my rescue for a week and helped me get caught up on data entry for my business (timesheets and such), plus she helped me sort the papers that were starting to pile up. It was awesome to have her help!

I took a lot of pictures during my hiatus, so I'm going to gradually go back in time and add entries in the gap. That means that anything posted between June 3 and this entry has been added later.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Mysterious Package

A lovely little vase arrived in yesterday's mail. It came from a Japanese museum in Florida... and I couldn't figure out who it came from, as there was nothing to identify the sender on the package...

Ikebana Vase with Tickseed (Coreopsis)

I spent about a day wondering. It turns out that it came from Sue G. It is from the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens, which she had visited with Bob a couple of years ago. It was the inspiration for incorporating a Japanese style shade garden as part of the landscape design that I created for them. What a sweet gift! I have other vases, but this is now my favorite.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008


This morning I looked through the window to check on the robin's nest. I could see the flailing movements of a new hatchling.

So, while mom and dad were away, I got close enough for this:
Robin Hatchling

I've seen at least two chicks so far.

Friday, May 30, 2008


Married 10 Years

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


We recently discovered a nest quite close to our back door. The robins built their home right at eye level in a yew (Taxus sp.) that is right next to the end of our path which runs from front yard to back.

Good Parenting

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Friendship Established: 1987

It's always great to hear from an old friend after years apart. I just heard from Alia. It was wonderful to know she's been out there enjoying life since the last time I saw her, probably about 15 years ago.

Me and Alia: Fall 1987

Monday, April 28, 2008

Bedraggled Bird

The Turkey showed up again this afternoon. This time it was pecking around my front yard in the rain.

Wet Turkey

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Web Design

I've designed a few websites over the years:

My first (unless you count stuff I messed around with in college) was for
The Prospect Hill Park Advocacy Group, which I created as a volunteer. I put it together really quickly and never refined it to have nice colors or layout or anything. So, it doesn't look all that good.

Then I created one for my own business, Grove Hill Gardens. I like this one better, but it isn't perfect, and I haven't taken the time to update or refine it.

So, I just collaborated with a landscaping friend to create one for her business, and I'm finally satisfied that I can make a very pretty website:

The Gracious Gardens Front Page

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Turkey Dances

She's back, and this time, she sings and dances.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Lap Cat

I had a nice time celebrating my Uncle's birthday this afternoon. (Happy Birthday, Uncle John!)

Me and Peanut

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Next Wave

The early spring bulbs are fading, but new flowers are replacing them...

Common Pasque Flower (Pulsatilla vulgaris)

Nanking Cherry (Prunus tomentosa)

Can't You See the Turkey?

Wild Turkey Passing Through

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Up Close and Forsythia


Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Lilith's Day

Like most days, Lilith spent a lot of time asleep:

Lilith's Morning Nap

Keeping Her Nose Warm

However, today was unusual. It was the first escorted walk of spring.

Lilith Walking

Lilith likes to spend time outside by herself, but she really loves to go for a walk with a human. This generally consists of walking across the back deck and into the upper level of the back yard. She typically seeks out her favorite clump of grass, but needs to be patted several times on the way.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Aronia Buds: The Sequel

In February, I posted a picture of my aronia buds. They had turned bright red, and I was a little worried they were going to break early in response to some unseasonably warm weather. They were fine.

And now it's April, and they are breaking:

(Aronia arbutifolia)

Today's Crocus

I spotted the first of these opening under the yellowwood yesterday...

Crocus vernus 'Twilight'

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Oh! Possum?

Matt went of to a conference this morning, while I happily stayed in bed... until Peanut started hollering.

He was talking to another cat, which I've heard before, but this time it was exceptionally emphatic, and continued longer than usual... so I got up to be sure nothing was wrong.

He was talking through the sliding glass door to a long haired white cat with orange spots (wearing a collar & tag) that I've seen in the neighborhood before. He was saying "You are on my deck and you should leave, because the minute I get outside I'm going to beat you up." The stranger was saying "I don't have to leave, and you can't make me."

Meanwhile Lilith was sitting on the spare bed, looking a bit concerned, but not too put out... and then Cally came into the room and was very upset about the whole thing, so she started growling, etc. She then tried swatting at me. I got out some treats to see if it would calm anyone down to have a snack, but no one was interested in food. (Shocking!)

Just as the stranger started very slowly to back away, an opossum showed up near the Brandeis fence! The stranger decided to go investigate, Peanut looked on with wary interest, and I ran and got my camera once I saw it was heading down the hill.

The possum on it's way to visit the neighbors
(That's ND's witchhazel.)

I almost had a perfect shot of it's face, but the camera's automatic light sensor thought I needed a flash for the second picture. That slowed it down and doesn't work through a window. Drat!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

The Early Bloom Gets My Attention

While continuing my spring clean-up, I discovered that one little bit of moss phlox has decided to open early.
Phlox subulata 'Emerald Cushion Blue'

Also, it was nice and sunny today, so the yellow crocuses really opened up.

Crocus chrysanthus 'Goldilocks'

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Theory into Practice

Shredded Leaves as Mulch

I started my yard's spring cleanup this week. It is a bigger task than in some years because most of my leaves fell only a short time before the yard was covered with snow. That means there's still a lot of leaf clean-up to do.

Ever since I started landscaping professionally, I've engaged in the silly practice of removing leaves from the landscaped areas of a yard, and then purchasing bark mulch for the bare areas of planted beds in order to prevent weed growth and provide organic matter.

That's going to stop.

Instead, the leaves are going to become the mulch.

This is a good idea because leaves break down into lovely organic matter, which makes better fertilizer than anything you can buy at the home improvement chains.

Last fall, I decided to test this at my house. Over the winter, my plan was further reinforced by the NOFA Organic Land Care course, as well as the Ecological Landscaping conference.

So, here I go... As I clean the leaves out of an area, I put them through the shredder, and then re-spread them. They need to be shredded and re-spread for a few reasons: 1. Large leaves can create something of a mat that can make it hard for perennials that have been dormant for the winter to reemerge, 2. The leaves will actually break down more quickly if they start as smaller pieces, and 3. They are less likely to blow around. (Also, I think it looks a bit tidier.)

When I buy mulch, I usually go for a very dark brown to black colored mulch, but I'm actually quite happy with the way the leaves are looking, even though it is a paler brown.

Iris reticulata 'Harmony' (planted fall '07)
Surrounded by Shredded Leaves

Crocus chrysanthus 'Goldilocks' and Iris reticulata 'Harmony'

Sunday, March 30, 2008

6 Ribbons

After four days, the New England Masters Short Course Yards Championships for 2008 are over.

My Results and Ribbons

The full results and meet summary, etc can be found here:

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Drumroll, Please

We performed Mahora at Northeastern University
Trying to look fierce
(This photo was taken by a friend of a classmate)

It wasn't my best performance, but I got through it, and I thought the group sounded great as a whole.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Crocuses at Home

The first crocus in my yard appeared on Easter Sunday (March 23). This is the same clump today:

Crocus 'Prins Claus'

I think the clump that came up first (above) was the clump I planted a year earlier. I planted a lot more last fall, but they seem to be ever so slightly behind the original clump.

Some really delightful yellow crocuses have appeared as well:

Crocus chrysanthus 'Goldilocks' (planted last fall)

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

President Obama

I've wanted him to be president ever since I read this book:

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

This Fragile Shell

One of my first clients just informed me that she has a brain tumor. I don't know how worried to be yet. She will almost certainly be having surgery to remove it, but I don't know much detail. The good news is that it is an answer to the question of why she's been suffering from eye pain for a long time.

Still, it is another reminder of the ephemeral nature of life.

I've had a few too many reminders of this sort lately.

Last spring, one of my Mother's first cousins died of cancer. I'm still sorry that I didn't go to her funeral, though that would have meant flying across the country.

In early July, Matt's Great Aunt Carolyn died. Loosing her was like loosing a grandparent again (I have none left). The following Monday (July 9), I had to go get her cat (Cally). I hadn't really felt her loss yet, but when I saw the sign on her door "My Cat Cally lives here, do not leave door open" I completely broke down. I sat there crying in her room, surrounded by all the things I'd helped Matt's parents move in for her. Cally was very upset and hid from me, but I took her home.

One week later, one of my clients died of a heart attack at age 54. His wife asked me to feed their cat while she rushed straight from work to the hospital. I got the news that he was dead just after arriving at his house. I had to tell another cat that she'd lost a human...

It was all too much for me... and it didn't stop there...

In the fall, I started this blog because I was trying to figure out how to get a very old friend's e-mail address. I wanted to e-mail her because I read on her blog that she had lost her best friend (who I had also known). I was hoping that since she had a blogger blog, if I did too, maybe Blogger would let me see her address. That was silly and didn't work, but I did find another way to e-mail her.

Why haven't I mentioned all this before? Perhaps because it affected me too deeply. I'm trying to focus on all the things I want to do in life. I love gardening, I love my cats, and I love drumming. I want to change the world.

I can do a lot, but I can't bring any of them back.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Grand Opening

I stopped to check on some clients' properties today:

Crocus 'Prins Claus' (planted last fall)

Yellow Crocus (I don't think I planted this one)

Monday, March 10, 2008

A Real Drum

Matt and I bought a real drum.
It arrived today!

Our Taiko

Katy's Conference

Meanwhile, my little sister, Katy, attended...

The Third National Summit on Equitable Development, Social Justice, and Smart Growth.

There she met Wendell Pierce, who plays Det. William 'Bunk' Moreland on HBO's The Wire.
I'll come back soon and add more about why he was there.

Katy and Wendell Pierce

Sunday, March 9, 2008

The Radical Landscape

I spent much of the last few days at the Ecological Landscaping Association's Winter Conference.

Thursday was all about Permaculture. The concept is that we can grow food in our yards through a permanent agriculture, wherein we would plant trees, shrubs, and perennial plants that produce edible parts. In particular, permaculture strives to mimic natural ecological systems so that we don't need much in the way of external inputs. That way we can produce very local food with very little environmental impact. I am planning to try to incorporate this into my ornamental designs in the near future.

Friday, I attended several interesting lectures, including a lecture by Richard B. Primack of Boston University who shared his recent research. His goal was to find out if global warming is affecting plants and animals in Massachusetts. Using plants in both Boston and Concord, MA he has been able to compare the flowering times of many plant species in recent years with historical records. He had some very clear evidence that global warming is already having an impact on our local flora.

The highlight of Friday was the keynote address given by Dr. John Todd, a biologist/ecologist/ecological designer who has developed several interesting alternative technologies. In particular, he's known for the creation of "living machines" which use living organisms to treat contaminated waste water.

Saturday was also a good day, and included the most curious of the lectures I attended. Will Bonsall of the Scatterseed Project discussed something he called veganic farming. It is basically a step beyond veganism combined with organic farming. Basically his idea is that one should maintain soil fertility without animal manures, but rather by sustainably harvesting fertility from forests. Fascinating, but I'm not quite ready to go this far.

I'll add more on Saturday here later.

Addendum: On Friday night, after the keynote, I joined two of my new comrades for a drink in a local bar (The Salty Dog). We three certainly felt like fish out of water (or more like plants between paving stones). We'd been spending the whole day thinking about how to save the world with landscaping, and then we went to a bar where... well, the rest of the patrons were certainly not thinking about the world. Their main concern was earning free drinks.

I was more interested in finding out if I had the right stuff to be a cowgirl.
Yup, that's me on a mechanical bull.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008



Thursday, February 21, 2008

Ring of Fur

Matt called Lilith a "Ring of Fur" in a Johnny Cash voice.
The Ring of Fur

Here are my Lyrics:

Lilith Is A Furry Thing
And she Makes A Furry Ring
Curling round she will purr
She Becomes A Ring Of Fur

I sat down with a Purring Ring Of Fur
I sat Down, Down, Down
And The Purr Went Higher

And she Purrs, Purrs, Purrs
The Ring Of Fur
The Ring Of Fur

I sat down with a Purring Ring Of Fur
I sat Down, Down, Down
And The Purr Went Higher

And she Purrs, Purrs, Purrs
The Ring Of Fur
The Ring Of Fur

She can appear so Sweet
A cat you'd like to meet
Now you'd think she's Like A Child
Oh, But She's Fierce and Wild

I sat down with a Purring Ring Of Fur
I sat Down, Down, Down
And The Purr Went Higher

And she Purrs, Purrs, Purrs
The Ring Of Fur
The Ring Of Fur

I sat down with a Purring Ring Of Fur
I sat Down, Down, Down
And The Purr Went Higher

And she Purrs, Purrs, Purrs
The Ring Of Fur
The Ring Of Fur

And she Purrs, Purrs, Purrs

The Ring Of Fur

The Ring Of Fur

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Eclipsed

Monday, February 18, 2008


I can't believe it! Cally and Lilith are napping in the same room!

Over an hour ago I heard some hissing, but ignored it since I've gotten used to hearing hissing when Cally and Lilith are near each other. After I finished what I was working on, I got up, said hi to Peanut and Matt (they are napping together upstairs), and then started to get ready to practice my cello. I started wondering where Lilith and Cally were, so I looked around...
Cally and Lilith in Cally's Room

There they both were, looking quite at peace in Cally's room. Cally's room is the one with the Comfort Zone/Feliway diffuser, so maybe it's actually working!

Or, maybe it is just that the cats have all been appreciating the nice weather. It was about 60 outside today (incredible!), so we turned off the heat and opened all the windows. Peanut and Lilith both spent some time outside this morning, even though the ground was quite soggy from rain overnight and into the morning. All three of them really appreciated the open windows.

Peanut Enjoys the Fresh Air

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Everybody Loves Grass




Thanks, Petra!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Floral Fireworks in Winter

Today I discovered flowers on the Witchhazel in my front yard! I was expecting it to bloom soon, but it still took me by surprise... I didn't notice a hint of it until BOOM it's in full bloom.
Witchhazel (Hamamelis x intermedia 'Diane')

Thursday, February 7, 2008

In Today's Mail

Lilith's New Bed

No detectable results from the comfort zone for cats yet. Peanut has been enjoying sleeping on the chair in Cally's room, but he did that before we got the pheromone diffuser. Meanwhile, Cally and Lilith are still on edge around each other. The biggest news is that Lilith has found a new place to snooze.

Lilith on today's new bed

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

My Obama Birthday

Yesterday was my birthday.

Matt made me a cake:
Me and my Banana Cake with Chocolate Frosting
(Rob is in the background)

After dinner and cake we went with Matt's mother (Anne) to future president Barack Obama's rally in Boston. We had to stand in a really long line.
The Line

The line was actually a mile long:
The Line (route)
(Interactive version/source: )

We were near the end. It took us something like 2 1/2 hours to get into the building (Boston's Seaport World Trade Center), probably due to a slow security process. We persisted, along with thousands of others. At one point, while Matt held our place, Anne and I went inside a T station entrance to warm up. That's when I took this picture:

Persistent Good Citizenship
(and the line outside)

I think it shows how much people were trying to put their trash in the right place, even though the right place was overloaded. It would have been so much worse if all that was lying in the street. Not everyone was this good, but a police officer who spoke to the line at one point said "You're an excellent crowd."

Finally, we got inside. The view wasn't so good:
The View

Anne in the Crowd

But we did get there in time to hear Govenor Patrick, and Senators Kerry and Kennedy speak, leading up to Obama's grand entrance.

He's a terrific speaker. I usually get bored listening to other people give lengthy speeches, but Obama held my attention. I really think he's more thoughtful about real life and less caught up in the game than the vast majority of politicians. I recorded a couple of videos (bad picture quality, okay sound). I may post the best of them later.

Afterwards, we walked to Park Street station, stopping by the water for a photo shoot. I'm holding my shoes because my feet were so tired I decided to take them off to walk to Park Street. The heels helped me get a better view, but they were a bad idea otherwise.
Shoes in hand with Matt

We got home at about 2 am on Super Tuesday.

Time to VOTE!