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Thanksgiving at the Friendship Hotel, Beijing in 1995

Thanksgiving at the Friendship Hotel 1995

As I prepare for Thanksgiving in my nice American kitchen I cannot help thinking of  other Thanksgivings, most notably two that were celebrated in Beijing where we lived in the Friendship Hotel. The first was in 1989, and the second in 1995. While many things had changed in those five years, much much more car traffic, much much less bicycle riding (because of the vehicular traffic), the arrival of big department stores and McDonalds  and Kentucky Fried Chicken, our apartment at the Friendship Hotel was just the same. Our tiny kitchen came equipped with a two burner gas stove, a tiny fridge and a sink. No oven.  Drinking water was delivered by the fu yuans (service people) at the door every morning in the excellent thermos bottles that you can see on the window sill.  I had to visit our new friend Bettina who lived across town and had an oven in her tiny kitchen. Together we made  this pie with delicious Chinese apples.

Li Sha was our wonderful language partner that year. I have to say that her excellent English may have improved somewhat, but I certainly made very little progress in my Chinese. I went around quoting a cartoon that one  of our friends tacked up on his front door. The prisoner is being walked to the scaffold when he is told he will be granted a final request.  His request? To learn Chinese.  Oh, for a long lifetime of studying Chinese.  I am happy say that our friendship with Li Sha has endured. She was even able to make her first trip to the US last year. She is used to big city living so Heath was a big change. The thing that most amazed her was  our clear winter sky, thickly sprinkled with brilliant stars. No smog. No light pollution.

Henry with our turkey

The Friendship Hotel took orders for Thanksgiving turkeys which we picked up at the Foreign Experts Dining Hall at the appointed hour. The Chinese don’t know much about turkeys, but they did a great job.

All the gang for Thanksgiving dinner

Our dinner guests included other Foreign Experts like Bettina, and in 1995 we had several Chinese friends as well. All of us had something we could be thankful for. In addition to making new good friends, one of the blessings I counted that year was being able to attend the UN Women’s Conference. I had learned a lot about the life of Chinese women while working for Women of China Magazine, but I gained a much greater understanding of the problems women faced around the globe, as well as their achievements.

Bettina and me after dinner

Bettina shared bows  with me for the apple pie. Our friendship is one of our unexpected Beijing blessings.

This year I will again be celebrating Thanksgiving with my daughters and sons, granddaughters and grandsons, grateful that we are all well and happy. I wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving with your family and friends.

 

Halloween in Heath

Welcome to Heath Halloween

Because we are such a rural, spread-out town children can’t easily go trick or treating  from house to house. A Tailgate Halloween in the town center was planned, but the rain called for an instant revision. The community hall was quickly turned into Trick or Treat Central and the youngest children, baby pumpkins and kittens, arrived first, followed later by the older kids who had a map of all the houses in town where the Trick or Treat light was on.

Fortune-telling

Even the witches needed to have their fortune told before going on to the main event. Candy!  Also apple cider and donuts.

Candy – all you can carry

This is the only night when the grown-ups urge children to take more candy. Go on. You can have another handful!

Gypsy storyteller

For some there were scary stories! Bats in the library, terrified bunnies, scared siblings. Max and Ruby – what are you doing?

Ghouls and witches

All the ghouls, witches, kittens, spiders, frogs, French knights, gorillas, elephants, Princess brides, and fishermen of all ages in town turned out for a sweetly ghastly celebration.

The Wedding – Emily & Nick Begin

Wedding tent

The Wedding Tent is ready.

Family and friends

Family and friends are assembling.

Emily and Nick

Emily and Nick join hands. The wedding ceremony is beautiful.

The bride and guests

The bride is hugging everyone. Everyone is hugging the bride. The cameras are rolling.

Photographers everywhere

Everyone had a camera and everyone was snapping away. Here is Christina photographing me photographing her. We are all wanting to capture this moment forever. I was reminded of a song from the delightful, satirical musical Little Mary Sunshine.  I was mis-remembering some of the lyrics of Every Little Nothing,  sung by the wise old woman character. My ‘ revised’ lyrics fit my mood.  Every little moment means a precious little moment/if we make it gay.   Every little moment means a precious little moment/but it cannot stay.   For every little moment has its moment/then it flies away.   Every little moment means a precious little moment/take it while you may.

Admiring family

Many branches of the family have gathered to admire the beautiful couple.

Cousins

Do you imagine they might be thinking of future weddings?

Wedding cake moment

An important wedding ritual. The wedding cake. The bride and groom fed each other daintily. Thank heaven.

Time to dance

Then let the dancing begin. Conga!

The Bride and Groom

The golden afternoon was drawing to a close, but the bride and groom walked across the meadow, perhaps thinking of all the precious little moments that await them, even as these fly away.

For more (almost) wordlessness this Wednesday, click here.

Work Crew for The Annual Rose Viewing Arrives

Husband Henry, granddaughter Tracy and daughter Diane

A sizeable  work crew showed up to help prepare for the Annual Rose Viewing,  but it was impossible to get a photo of them all  working together. Diane directed the weeding of the Peony Bed that was in great need. Henry took direction as well as the girls. Eveyone felt the 90 degree heat.

Granddaughters and sister, Caitlin and Tricia

Granddaughters Caitlin and Tricia couldn’t even spare time to look up from their labors.

Great granddaughters Lola and Bella

I directed the shed clean up. Lola and Bella were ready to take up this job. Collecting all the nursery pots and categorizing them.

I’ve never seen pots so well categorized. By size.

Cake in the Cottage Ornee

Time to catch some breezes, and celebrate in the Cottage Ornee. Lola was 4 in May,  and Diane will be ? in two weeks. Cake and birthday books! The Little Yellow Trolley Car by Marie Bartlett and All Creatures Great and Small by Ashley Bryan for Lola. The View from Penthouse B by Elinor Lipman for Diane. Diane’s book has three wonderful sisters in it, and Lola’s books include local history and the beauty of our world.

Passionate Nymph’s Thigh

And the roses continue to open. Peonies, too. All is nearly ready for the Annual Rose Viewing on Sunday, June 30, 1-4 pm.

 

Rose Month Sale of The Roses at the End of the Road

 

My Book

June is Rose Month and I haven’t celebrated at all – so far – but I will begin the celebration with a Special Sale Price for The Roses at the End of the Road. For all orders I receive  by June 30 the cost will be $12 with no tax or shipping charge. Click here for ordering information

The Roses at the End of the is not a how-to book although I do include some basic information. The most basic information I give is to choose roses for your garden that are disease resistant and hardy. Hardy in the sense that the roses don’t need a lot of fussing. I have never had time for fussing with any plant, not even a rose. The book will introduce you to my neighbors and the adventures we have in our gardens.  There is Elsa Bakalar whose husband was willing to take his rifle and go to any lengths to preserve her garden from invaders, 85 year old Mabel who was  willing to round up the cows on my lawn and Rachel who invited me to dig a rose that has proved to have as much stamina as all the old farm wives in town, women I can only hope to emulate.

I never expected to be known as The Rose Lady, but the roses at the end of the road brought me so much pleasure, and I have been fortunate enough to be able to share that pleasure with my neighbors and friends. We had a wedding among the roses – just what daughter Kate dreamed of the day I planted my first rose. The Rose Walk has been my invitation to talk to garden clubs and others about the pleasures to be found in the garden. I even got to speak at the Massachusetts Horticultural Society last year. What an honor! And what fun to talk with all those enthusiastic gardeners.

I will also be offering a free copy of the  book, in a drawing on June 24. All you have to do is leave a comment on this post and tell me about your roses – or why you don’t  grow roses.  All comments must be left by midnight on June 23. On the morning of June 24 a winner will be chosen at random. Once I have the winner’s address the book will go out, inscribed as the winner wishes.

June is Rose Month, and here at the End of the Road we are celebrating.  Don’t forget, The Annual Rose Viewing will be held on Sunday, June 30 from 1-4 pm and I hope those in the area will join us on the Rose Walk, and in the Cottage Ornee for cookies and lemonade.

Applejack, will greet you first at the Rose Viewing

 

 

Garden Books for the Young

Planting the Wild Garden by Kathryn Galbraith

I’ve written  about a number of garden books for  the young over the past year. They are not how-to books although there are books that do lead a child  into  the garden with real instructions. My friend Kathryn Galbraith wrote Planting the Wild Garden and turned science into poetry. She reveals all the ways that Mother Nature spreads seeds over the landscape using the wind and rain, and hot sun that makes seed pods burst. The rivers and streams carry seeds long distances, and animals move sticky seeds from here to there and the birds drop seeds in their own inimitable way. Even we humans carry seeds when they stick to our sweaters and socks.  Wendy Anderson Halperin created the beautiful delicate and accurate illustrations.

Kathryn takes a different tack in Arbor Day Square, the story of a family that was part of the pioneer move westward, building towns where there had only been grass and woods before. The young girl in the story knows that trees have more value than utility, they are  for beauty too. As the story unfolds it is clear that trees are also about building community. A tender story that we can all identify with today. The illustrations by Cyd Moore are as bright and cheerful as a quilt.

 

Planting a Rainbow by Lois Ehlert

For the very youngest potential gardeners Lois Ehlert has given us a board book that teaches colors and the rainbow sequence while showing bold stylized flowers.

When my five children were small the happiest part of my day was bedtime (so often the case for us busy mothers) when the children were bathed and in their jammies, and we could all sit down, and slow down, together to read. A whole wold of wonderful children’s books opened up for me and them at the same time.  Then we acquired 9 grandchildren and when they visit we have moved on from my reading to them, to evenings of Reading Aloud when we all read to each other, and sometimes we even invite other guests to join us. We even have two great-granddaughters now. I have not had many opportunities to read to them, but as a new kindergarten student Bella is already to read aloud to us!

While I cannot claim that my book, The Roses at the End of the Road is suitable for bedtime reading for the young, it does work very well for us older gardeners. Right now, for those who buy it directly from me, I am offering a sale price of $12 and free shipping until the Twelfth Day of Christmas, January 6. It is also on sale at the Kindle Store for $3.95.

The Roses at the End of the Road

With these suggestions come my wishes for a happy Christmas and a year filled with happy hours of reading, about plants, and gardens, and gardeners, and every fascinating thing out in our beautiful world.

 

 

 

 

More Christmas Gifts for the Gardener

 

Red pots at Shelburne Farm and Garden

I’m not saying gardeners are greedy, but it is true that it is easy to choose Christimas gifts for gardeners. When I wander through Shelburne Farm and Garden or Greenfield Farmers Coop I have all I can do hold myself in check. There are so many bright and sturdy items that will please and be useful to both novice and expert gardeners.

The Shelburne Farm and Garden Center has a wonderful collection of pots. So many of us are growing flowers and other plants in pots that a handsome pot is almost always a good choice. Two matching Christmas red pots, different sizes, really caught my eye, priced at $20 and $30.

The glove rack is a temptation. Gloves are always wearing out. MUD gloves are a particular favorite, some made with the wonderfully flexible nitrile, while others are heavier for jobs that require greater protection. Both types cost $10.

There are so many great gift choices from an array of bird baths, ceramic and metal, in the $70 t0 $90 range as well as a great collection of bird feeders and sacks of bird seed from $22 to $60. I was particularly struck by the  Bird Nester ($19), a wire cage filled with cottony fibers that is available for birds when they are building their nests. It made me think of Patricia Machlachlan’s tender children’s book, Sarah, Plain and Tall, where older sister Anna is cutting young Caleb’s hair, and sets out his curls for the birds to use in their nests.

On my way out of the store I couldn’t help picking up a few bulbs that were on sale and will be used for forcing. The Greenfield Farmers Coop also has bags of bulbs for sale right as you talk into the store. It might be too late to get bulbs in the ground, but there is plenty of time to force them. A great gift would be bulbs for forcing along with a bag of soil mix and a handsome pot. You could plant the bulbs yourself, or pass it on as a DIY project.

The Coop has a large array of tools. Good quality pruners like the Corona bypass pruner for $30 and the Corona needle nose thinning shears at $24 would make any gardener happy – though I hope that experienced gardeners long ago learned the benefits of quality tools and already have their own favorites. Although, if they had a second good tool they might be able to work with a companion.

I was particularly taken with the small, bright red, fixed tine shrub rake at $13. I have seen the Flower Brigade ladies using similar little rakes as they tended to their clean up chores on the Bridge of Flowers and saw how efficiently and gently they worked in the borders.

Tubtrugs at Farmers Cooperative in Greenfield

I loved the display of colorful Tubtrugs in sizes of three and a half to ten gallons. These light, strong flexible containers will hold a lot of weeds, or compost, or what you will, in the garden and around the house. I can imagine a wonderful gift of a bright Tubtrug filled with bags of Espoma fertilizer, seed starting mix, twine, Bag Balm and other small necessary and consumable garden items. Prices range from $9-$27 depending on size.

Compost makings are the result of every meal preparation. A bowl by the sink will serve, but not as handsomely as the lidded one, or one and a half gallon Compost Keepers ($27-$39), in stainless steel or ceramic.

As useful as these practical items are and as welcome as they will be, one could take a different tack to gift buying for the gardener. Luxury!

J.H. Sherburne has a new wing to her portraiture and frame shop in Shelburne Falls called Serious Whimsies for the Garden and Home. I do buy my own tools and consumables when necessary, but I never buy luxurious gifts for my garden like the stone rabbit and hedgehog sculptures for $80 and $30.  There is a wonderful big dancing angel planter for $90, but many more modestly priced planters like the stone bowl ($29) with a frog sitting on the edge. This could be planted with a bit of sedum or succulents for a really carefree bit of elegant whimsy.

Birch Bark Baskets at J H Sherburne’s Serious Whimsies

I also liked the birchbark baskets and containers that are perfect for holding holiday greens and decorations. The large flat basket ($30) would work as a handsome wreath substitute on the front door filled with greens. Smaller baskets, round and square, cost $9-$19. You can even buy silk flowers and greenery to fill them if you wish.

Siver jewelry at J H Sherburne’s Serious Whimsies

Of course, some of us might like to luxuriate in our gardens by wearing beautiful garden inspired jewelry. Sherburne has a small curated collection of delicate silver pins, a dragonfly ($50), a fern frond ($36) and a gold and silver sunflower bracelet ($100).

Though small, the shop is a treasure trove of whimsical delights. A fancy soap is shaped like a heavily frosted cupcake and the scented candles come in little milkbottles.

There are many ways to shop for gifts. Sometimes you know just what that special person in your life wants or needs. Sometimes you just want to surprise and delight which can take thought. Sometimes you have no clue. All these shops can provide you with a gift certificate – and gift certificates always make my eyes light up.

A final note – J H Sherburne is also noted for her portraiture including portraits of pets, or of pets with their owners.

Portrait by J H Sherburne

Between the Rows     December 8, 2012

We Have a Winner!

Beautiful No Mow Yards by Evelyn Hadden

We have a winner. Eileen Taylor will recieve a copy of Beautiful No Mow Yards from Timber Press and a copy of The Roses at the End of the Road from me. Congratulations, Eileen!

Thank yous to all who helped me celebrate my fifth anniversary of blogging.

Last Chance for Celebratory Book Giveaway

Roses at the End of the Road

Today is your last chance to leave a comment here  by midnight tonight and participate in the my book giveaway. You could win a copy of Beautiful No Mow Yards AND my own book The Roses at the End of the Road. I have enjoyed these past five years that has brought so many wonderful new people into my life. And useful and inspiring books like Beautiful No Mow Lawns from Timber Press.

I will choose a name randomly tomorrow morning and will announce the winner. Good luck!

Walking in the Woods Towards a Christmas Wreath

Storm damage in the woods

On Saturday my husband and I walked up what we call The Lane, the remnants of the old road that once led all the way to the next town of Rowe. We walked up the hill between two fields and into the woods.  We have done some logging in the woods, but when we walk there these days the extensive number of trees and limbs that have been toppled and broken are due to the big ice storm in December of 2008, then Hurricane Irene that did  devasting damage throughout the county in 2011 and the recent Sandy storm this past October. It is amazing to think that we have had these three severe storms in less than five years, when we had nothing like them in the previous 25 years.

We picked our way through the fallen branches to a large plantation of princess pine. We carefully clipped off a few dozen plants without disturbing the roots so  this planting could continue to grow.  We also collected branches from the white pine trees that have begun encroaching on our northern field, and a single very large red pine in the same field. We were collecting these branches to make Christmas wreaths. I was all inspired to make more Christmas wreaths after my lesson at Chapleys with the Greenfield Garden Club.

I made a final small harvest of greens from the Lawn Bed. The fountain juniper, Goldthread chamaecyparis,  and even the holly bush gave up a few of their branches for wreaths. I spent esterday afternoon on the piazza enjoying the mild weather while I wired the greens onto forms. I’m not done yet, but I think I’ve made a good start on my Christmas wreaths. Ornaments and ribbon to come.

Homemade Christmas wreaths and me