See that little spot of light? Guess what it is? It’s our first firefly of the season ~ last night, end of June, right on time for around here, and I got a picture! This is no easy feat! They do not respond when you say:I never saw a firefly until I moved to the island, and I bet there are lots of people who’ve never seen one either ~ so here you go! Your first firefly! Happy July! There were about 20 there last night, blinking and bobbing through the ivy and the lilacs in the darkest part of the garden.
I have a zillion photos of this garden now. Because, these days, half my time is spent staring at it, eyes tracking butterflies and birds flitting through. We didn’t have the yard sale, I’ll explain in a moment. More time for garden staring! You see why I nicknamed this garden “My Toy.” It’s painting with flowers! And every year, the painting changes. And if you are new to gardening, and you see this and it seems overwhelming and as if I know what I am doing, let me remind you, I know NOTHING. It is all hit and miss for me, I made a little garden, small, so I could take care of it myself and just put there what I like, and then I waited to see what Mother Nature would do with it. Anyone can do it. All questions can be answered so very easily, we have GOOGLE-genius to answer how deep to plant any sort of seed! Sticking a lettuce-start into soil is easy. If you want it, you can have it. And if you don’t want it, then you don’t have to have it!! It’s making your own homey world the way you like it. You can start small, a pot or two of herbs on the porch, in a window box, it can grow. A kitchen garden is a lovely addition to a homemade happy life.
See the little dish? The other day Joe made me a shelf for it. New for the painting this year!
See it on the corner post?
It’s for this guy ~ he’s a catbird. Lowely talks to him every morning in his own language, she calls, “Meow” and she says he comes to her, because she has treats. So now we’re both soaking handfuls of raisins in warm water (for about a half hour to soften and plump them), and putting dishes of them in our gardens. (P.S. There are small window bird-feeders you can get, so you can feed them and enjoy their antics even if you are living happily-ever-after in a garden-free environment! As Gladys Taber said, As long as I have a window, life is exciting!)
Now every day is raisin day!
Two bowls of raisin-treats, no waiting . . .
Doesn’t that look refreshing? No dirty birds around here.
Only wet birds! We think he’s a Baltimore Oriole.
I love it when they come in droves and go upside down! I’m going to do this exact thing, soon as our seawater gets a little bit warmer. We’re going to walk early and wear bathing suits under our clothes, we’ll each bring a tiny towel to dry our feet after swimming. I’ll be big bird throwing water around, turning upside down, in a very big bird bath. I want to get salty! Let me just say, I am normally NOT a water person, have never been. But I’m determined to do this because it always feels SO good when I do, I think it’s GOOD for me, and I am remembering, life is short. I need a summer of swimming for my memory book. However, bathing suits, bah, humbug! Which reminds me . . .
I want to catch you up on our squirrel “problem” . . . as you know if you hang out on this blog, we’ve always loved watching them from our kitchen window, but this spring our feeders were inundated ⤴️, which made the birds, for the most part, give up and go away.😲
So, with good advice from our brilliant Girlfriends (you know who you are 💞) we invested (and I do mean invested) in these squirrel-proof bird feeders. And guess what? They work! See the round openings at the bottom?
They have little doors . . . and the weight of the squirrel closes them! He went from door to door . . .
And very quickly learned he’d been outwitted and gave up faster than I ever imagined he would.
🅰️nd so began the return of the birds. We filled one of our old feeders with safflower seed because squirrels don’t like it, that worked too, thank you very much ~ and the Cardinals seem to love it! Peaceable Kingdom has returned.
Love the little spot of sun on his head.
We kept one special nut feeder just for the squirrels and the bigger, more weighty birds.
So they are fat and happy, and we are happy, the birds are happy, and guess who else is happy? Someone new!
This guy! You have never seen me post a picture like this, because in all my 37 years on this island, I have never seen a chipmunk!! I didn’t think we had them.
🅱️ut we obviously do!!! I was so excited, delighted, grabbing for the camera, calling Joe, when suddenly, I felt a shiver of fear . . . what fresh hell might this be, I thought, and I Googled Chipmunks to see if we should be happy and welcoming or if we should panic and katie-bar-the-door, and yes, I discovered that if they come in any sort of numbers, they can take out the foundation of your house! But this was only one, and so very tiny and cute. How much damage could one little critter do? And I haven’t seen him since. If he comes back with friends, I may start to worry. But guess what, we have chipmunks on Martha’s Vineyard! More critters-in-the-garden handy tips:
More from the garden . . .
I go out and collect them all, the trumpet-tongued, the little and beloved.
For the ever-changing scene above the kitchen sink . . .
And this! My first sweetpea!One of my favorite cottage-garden flowers ~ my birth flower, too. They grow like wildfire in the garden at the California Studio, but NOT here. I decided to try again. So far I have one-and-a-half flowers, and if it doesn’t get too hot or too humid too soon, I might get another one! They have the most delicate fragrance, even more precious for being so rare. See? Just one little flower in a jar is all you need for happy kitchen puttering.🌺
The salads keep coming!
We just keep taking leaves from the outside . . . and so far they haven’t bolted. But we had to install our window air-conditioners a couple of days ago, July is here, and summer has begun for real. The lettuce will go, the tomatoes will turn red, and the blueberries on the road where we walk will ripen. We’ll walk home, wet and salty, and pick berries as we go. There is always something. It’s just a matter of time.
Fresh garden lettuce is perfect for our delicious healthy whole-food eating scheme.
Yes, still at it. Probably for life since everything tastes so wonderful and I’m never hungry between meals anymore! Four or five (six or seven, had big bag buttered popcorn at the movies last night) more pounds and I will reach my goal weight! I wrote the whole “diet” down for my sister (it’s really not a diet) . . . maybe I should put it up here? It’s so simple. No calorie counting, no carb counting! You just can’t be in a hurry to get weight off . . . it will go, but it’s all about health!
Soon we will be making this delicious icy-cold gazpacho with our own home-grown tomatoes. Have you tried this recipe yet? SO good, vitamin heaven, crunchy and so good for you! It’s on page 39 of Heart of the Home, or HERE.And another of our favorites . . . A baked sweet potato prepared Asian-style, eat it for dinner and go to bed skinny . . . with all the flavor and good health in the world! It’s on page 85 of Heart of the Home (30th Anniversary edition) or you can see it HERE.
We’re also doing our part to provide massive amounts of clover for the bees! Some people think clover’s a weed! But the bees love it! And it smells wonderful. Looks like a wildflower garden.
So there were two main reasons we didn’t have our yard sale. This was one of them! It rained for the week before our planned event . . . the ground was soggy, setting up was impossible, the table legs would have sunk into the grass, plastic covers would have been flying in the wind. The day it was scheduled was interesting too, rain in the morning, sun around noon, wild wind and hail at 4 pm. Somebody was trying to tell us something. So we put it off until later in the summer . . . and here’s the even better reason:
Mas MUSICA! Ⓜ️y sister Shelly and her twins (Paden and Mason) finally got here . . . their first flight was canceled (they were told at the airport there were not enough planes!!! Had to take their suitcases and go HOME😩), arrived two days later than planned, and I thought, do I want to rush us into some sort of yard-sale craziness OR, shall we just play the whole time they’re here?
So this is Shelly and you can see what we decided! We had the BEST time.
We walked every day . . . the boys came too . . .
When they weren’t out clamming with Joe. The kids love nature and petty pets as much as we do. Jack substituted, in a pinch, for Lucy, their beloved weenie dog. When they left here they went to Durango, Colorado to spend a few weeks with their Uncle and cousins who love to fish in the piney-clean air of the high mountains.🌲 They work hard at school all year long and deserve every moment of it!
Joe makes the BEST stuffed clams!
The boys brought their art supplies and did lots of drawing and painting ~ this is Paden in the Peter Rabbit Room . . . art is what they do, it’s what they’ve always done . . .
. . . and they are so good at it!
I’ve kept all the artwork they’ve sent me 🎨 . . . this was done by Paden a long time ago, but cute! It reminded me of him at the desk in the photo above.
Of course, Jack, drawn in 2015 when they were 12, but unsigned. Excellent likeness!
Paden did this wallpaper while he was here . . .
Mason did a pencil drawing of the rose in a vase on our table when we went to Edgartown for lunch.
Mason went over to Lowely’s for a pastel painting lesson and did this. So dear of her to take the time . . . The boys are both so talented.
And handy too, the perfect guests! This is Paden helping Joe do I-don’t-know-what on the roof.
We walked downtown after dinner . . .
Stopped for ice cream . . . (Mason, Joe, Paden)
Quiet and dark, about a block from the harbor . . .
In front of the Capawock . . . Jaws plays here every Friday night during the summer! Silent films played here. It was the first theater on the Island. Generations sat in the dark screaming or crying, oohing and ahhhing, holding hands and falling in love. Just remember that when you come.
I love summer nights and street lights making shadows on old houses, candles on porches, creaking screen doors, the smell of neighborhood dinners.
The boys were so busy fishing, they would get themselves up at 5 am to go down to the harbor. (When I was 16 you could not have dragged me from the bed at that ungodly hour, especially not for fish!) So Shell (real name Michelle, but I call her Belle ~ she’s Mee-shell, ma belle, 🎶 somblay mon-kee bon tre bien on somble 🎵 ~ Beatles phonetic French ~ but to me, she’s Belle) and I had plenty of time to hang out and be sisters!
Went to lunch and took our books. Because it’s what we love. We each read the same paragraph about 100 times before we realized it was way too soon for books at lunch, and got on with the talking!
She taught the kids Arf and Arfy, how much fun is that!?! That makes three generations! Who war-fod har-fav thar-funk ar-fit? They were fluent! My mother would be thrilled! We could talk about EVERYTHING, and no one knew what we were saying but us! (Arf and Arfy: family language I wrote about in Fairy Tale Girl in case you think I have just gone off the rails.)
Shelly thinks Jack looks like “one of those people on the Titanic.” She means this:
She called him Jacques. Jacques with the boys is one of those photos that got away! Having waaay too much fun to “remember” to take photos!
But he was always there . . . right in the middle of everything, we look through photo albums, Jacques tries to lay on the books, he’s a very social kitty!
‘Twas a wonderful visit! When Joe and I go to California we have SO many people to see, in different towns ~ hours, or even states apart ~ and only a short amount of time ~ so we never get to just BE with them, the way we like, with lots of alone-time. But they had NO one to see here but us, no yard sale to do, nowhere to be, we got them all to ourselves for the entire time and it was perfect!Time flies, onto the ferry boat they went, Belle and I waving and waving goodbye, teary-eyed, they’re home safe and sound . . . and now here we are already, the first day of July! And I was just thinking you might need something to delicious to bring to a potluck?
And this, the PERFECT potato salad . . . be sure to add the mayonnaise while the potatoes are still hot or warm, so it can melt in! That is the secret of this bowl-licking-good potato salad.
FYI, Look what I got! Our calendars are on the way! I just received my samples . . . which means they should all be delivered to the Studio soon! I think they turned out better than ever (note that Jack seems to agree, or something) . . . the color is beautiful and I love the paper ~ it’s soft and not shiny so it’s easy to write on! You’ll love them.
Our wonderful new cups are being manufactured in England even as we speak! Cups for a happy kitchen.
Time for me to go . . . I promise, I will say hello to the ocean for you, to the seagulls and the sun . . .
Don’t forget to stop and smell the roses! Never forget how unique and wonderful and special you are! Happy July! Sending all my love! XOXO