25 June 2013


I have been spending a lot of time by the pond lately.  It's a lovely place to read.  And every day I feed the fish.  The vast majority are nondescript minnows.  And there are a lot of sunfish that we caught and moved to the pond because who doesn't love bluegills and sunnies?

And then there is Gloria.  Gloria is a Grass Carp.  (This is not a picture of Gloria, but this is what she looks like.)

Grass Carp are sweet vegetarians who eat the weeds (but not cattails) in ponds.  In NY you have to apply for a Grass Carp permit -- based on the size of our pond we were approved for 2 carp.  So two years ago we had 2 carp put in the pond -- at the time they were maybe 10 inches long, and I did not give them names.  They were delivered in May and we didn't see either again that summer, but we did see the weeds start to disappear.  Last year I started feeding the fish in late May and I did not see any Grass Carp.  Finally in June I saw a much larger fish than we had put in the year before.  She would come to eat the veggie pellets I feed the other fish.  For a couple of months we assumed that both carp were still in the pond, but by the end of the summer we were certain only one had survived.  The other carp probably succumbed to The Beast when he ruled the pond, or maybe a Kingfisher or Great Blue Heron -- he likely met his fate soon after coming to live in the pond when he was relatively small.

So this year when I started feeding the fish I worried when I didn't see any carp for a couple of weeks.  But then she suddenly appeared, gliding along just under the surface of the pond, with her mouth open to scoop up the floating pellets.  She is now about 3 feet long and so pretty when her green and gold scales catch the sun.  Grass Carp can grow to 5 feet. Yikes!  That will be like having a small adult swimming in the pond.  Because she has now survived 2 years and she has grown to a size that will be far too intimidating for turtles or birds, I have named her.  Gloria, for Gloria 'I Will Survive' Gaynor.  (This is a picture of Gloria which does not do her justice, but it is really hard to photograph a fish.)

20 June 2013

Happy Birthday, Presley!

Today Presley is 3 years old ! ! !

These pictures were taken last summer when she was just a little kid.  

18 June 2013

Summer Vacation Skyping with Rosie

Today is the first day of summer vacation for Gus so we Skyped.  Now that Rosie is such a big girl I wanted to find a way to interact with her while 3000 miles away.  I found some flash cards with simple pictures of animals and things she would know and today I gave them a try.  Success -- she sat on the couch and told me not only what each animal was but also the sound it makes.


Shades of Greatness

Over a year ago I wrote a post about F. Scott Fitzgerald and 'The Great Gatsby' (http://ddramblings.blogspot.com/2012/03/f-scott-fitzgerald.html).  It has been my only post to date about books.  Which is incongruous because above any other label I would assign myself, or hope to be known for, I am a reader.  I am happy just to hold a book, to be surrounded by books.  But mostly I write about books and I  talk about books outside of this blog.  I wrote the one post because Fitzgerald and his 'Gatsby' took possession of me when I 16.  I discovered that many stories may be entertaining, but when told by someone who understands words, and knows exactly how to use them, mere story writing is transformed into craft.  I was always a reader.  My elementary school would let us take books from the library home with us on the last day of school; we could keep them for the entire summer vacation.  I would gather as many as I could carry and I put the pile in my room, creating a second pile as I read each one in the random order they started in.  But 'Gatsby' insured I was a lifelong reader.  Fifty years after bringing home my first pile of books from Elsmere Elementary, I still love having a pile of unread books and a pile of completed ones -- though now there are far more piles.

So why another post about Fitzgerald?  Because I was scanning the Sunday newspaper and I checked the bestsellers list.  I do not often buy a bestseller, but because I have found some great books, I always look.  There are times checking the lists when I am dismayed and concerned for the future of reading; like when half of the top ten have 'Shades of Grey' in the title.  Today I got to the Trade Paperbacks list and there, at #4, was 'The Great Gatsby' and it wasn't a version where all of the revelers at his parties are zombies and/or vampires.  I know that the real 'Gatsby' is now popular because of the movie (haven't seen it and think I don't want to) but whatever it takes to get people to read this classic is fine with me.  The one distressing thing I must add is that #6 on the same list is the most recent diatribe by Glenn Beck.  F. Scott Fitzgerald and Glenn Beck on the same list? Obscenely inappropriate.

17 June 2013

Just Perfect

Gus sent these wonderful photos.  This is how to have a perfect Father's Day.

10 June 2013

Rain is Good ... Until It's Not

My only source of water is from the well, and the well gets its water from the stream.  I have been through lots of summers with very little rain.  You learn to take fast showers and you save your change for the laundromat.  And if you have plants in the ground you carry lots of buckets of water from the pond.  Living with very little water is no fun, so I made a vow (a long time ago) to never complain about rainy weather.  Even when we had a wet, cold Spring the year of Gus and Meara's wedding; and it caused the peonies wanted for the bouquets and table arrangements to stay firmly closed; even then I didn't complain much.  I believe that is why the sun appeared the day before the wedding so that the peonies bloomed perfectly just in time.  So this year we had an absolutely beautiful early Spring.  And now we have had an absolutely wretched late Spring.  Just when we started wishing for rain because all of our new plants were getting dry, we got what we wished for ... and it hasn't stopped.  I just went out to give aid to some plants that are about to float away.  I'm not complaining about too much rain but on my way back to the house I passed this lady walking by.  Quack.


In lieu of Sunday Skyping with Rosie : Sunday in the Park with Rosie

Meara, Gus and Rosie spent a beautiful Portland day in the park.

07 June 2013

The Voices of Women : Vashti Bunyan

I don't remember exactly when or for what but there was a TV commercial that featured this singer.  Obviously the ad did nothing to sell me on the product, but it sold me on the voice and the song.  I had no idea who was singing, so I went Googling and found Vashti Bunyan.  I had never heard her music; I knew nothing about her.  But I loved her voice, and I loved this song, "Train Song".  I still don't know too much about Vasti Bunyan but I am hooked on her music; I now have several of her songs on my iPod, but this one I especially love.  It reminds me of why I love trains --  they evoke a slower, less complicated world and yet also there is the promise of mystery and adventure.  Train travel is prominent in many of the short stories written by a favorite author, Alice Munro.  This song very much reminds me of a Munro story.  

02 June 2013

Sunday Skyping with Rosie (aka, What's different about these pictures?)

What's changed?
 No more beard!!

Rosie wanted her Dad to sing 'Rock-a-bye Baby', which involves lots of silliness.
 And down will come baby, cradle and all.