By the end of last winter, I was a hardened Winter Warrior. With my hat and coat and scarf and gloves and my flinty exterior, I could walk through sub-zero temperatures and polar breezes without flinching. In fact, I found the chill bracing.
Now, an all-too-brief spring and summer and autumn later, I find that I’m once again a candy ass who shivers when walking out into temperatures in the teens and feels like all color has been blanched from my face by a brisk wind. It’s kind of embarrassing.
My grandmother would say that I’ve become thin-blooded. It’s what she said about people who complained about the cold temperatures and snow and weren’t ready to brave the Midwestern winters.
Of course, blood is blood. Any scientist would tell you that it doesn’t become thicker during the harsh winter and thinner when the thermometer hits the 70s and 80s. But I always think of the thin blood concept when the first arctic blast hits the Midwest. It’s time to get out in the frosty air and thicken that blood up to prepare for the winter to come.
My post about Julianne’s performance of Gabriel’s Oboe got an incredibly strong positive reaction, and several readers have asked if there are other available videos of her artistry. Yesterday another portion of her recent performance with the Austin Youth Orchestra was posted on YouTube. This video shows Julianne and the AYO performing Antonio Vivaldi’s Concerto for Oboe in C Major. It’s another terrific and impressive performance by Julianne. This time, she tackles a longer, classic piece by one of the great baroque composers that features the kind of intricate structure that is typically found in baroque music. It’s another beautiful piece of work by Julianne and the AYO, who obviously enjoy performing together.
It’s nice to know that oboe performances have struck a chord — pun intended — with Webner House readers!
Meet the newest member of the plant family at Captain;s Cottage. It’s a Montauk daisy, also known as a Nippon daisy due to its Japanese heritage, that we replanted at the foot of the stairs to the down yard this week.
The plant was a gift from a neighbor on the Greenhead peninsula. He was winnowing out his garden, which had gotten a bit overgrown, and this plant was among those to be removed. As we stopped for a chat, he asked if we’d like to have it for replanting. I had some trepidation about it, because I’ve never replanted a plant — but fortunately a horticulturist was visiting us and promised to guide me through every step.
It really wasn’t all that difficult. Our garden-savvy friend first decided which part of the yard would be receptive to the plant, which isn’t an easy task in the rocky Stonington soil. She identified a spot which gets a lot of sun then guided me through the steps, which included digging a hole about a foot deep and 18 inches wide, carefully placing the plant into the hole, filling the edges of the hole with soil and loosely packing it down, and finally watering the plant liberally, first at the time of replanting and then again the next morning. By the third day, when a big rainstorm rolled in to give it another dousing, we were hoping the plant had began to take root and will have a chance to do a little growing before the first hard frost of the winter.
We won’t know whether the transplant operation was a success until next spring, but we’re keeping our fingers crossed. Montauk daisies form a mound, grow to a height of about three feet, and produce lots of flowers. The plants are so hardy that you are even supposed to divide them after a few years to keep them vigorous, and thereby create two plants where there once was one — but I’m not worried about that now. I’m just hoping the plant survives, because a thriving Montauk daisy plant would be a great addition to the down yard.
Our daughter-in-law, Julianne, was the featured soloist on this performance of Gabriel’s Oboe with the Austin Youth Orchestra on October 20. I’ve never heard that piece of music before, but it is beautiful — and very beautifully played in this performance. If you’ve never heard the piece, or even if you have, this version is well worth a click and a listen.
Congratulations, Julianne, for your talent and your hard work! You deserved that standing ovation!
A visit to Stonington is always good for at least one gorgeous sunrise. This morning, it was as if the sun and sky decided it was time to compete with the colorful fall foliage.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been an early riser. When I was a kid, I was the first member of the family who was up in the morning. In college, I was never able to sleep in like my friends could. And once I started working, I established the “early to bed, early to rise” regimen that would have made Poor Richard proud.
But here’s the thing: as time passed, I found myself waking up, and going to bed, earlier and earlier. When it got to the point this summer where I was opening my eyes at 4:30 a.m., with no hope of going back to sleep, I knew I needed to do something. Those hours might be ideal for a farmer, but they seemed a bit out of whack for me.
So lately I’ve been trying to change from an early bird to more of a night owl. It isn’t easy. Working to modify ingrained daily habits that have prevailed for decades is a challenge. The effort for now focuses on the back end of the day, where I’ve been striving to stay up later than usual. This means no night-time reading, which will always cause me to doze off, and trying to find some really riveting TV shows — like Peaky Blinders, which Kish and I have just started watching. Through concentrated effort, I’ve actually been up past 10 p.m. every day this week. This may not seem like anything to those people who regularly catch the late show on TV, but it’s a significant step for me.
And this morning, I slept in until 5:30. 5:30! I feel like a slugabed, but progress is being made.
Our place in Stonington has rocks. Lots and lots of rocks. More rocks, in fact, than the mortal mind can imagine in its wildest, rock-filled dreams.
So what do you do with so many rocks? I’ve decided to get in touch with my inner wa and am trying to develop an ersatz Japanese rock garden along the edge of the creek, in the weedy waste area between the big boulders and the water’s edge. There’s lots of different shapes and colors of rocks and stones, large and small, some smooth and some rugged, in the down yard. I dig up and pick up the stones and then place them cheek by jowl, trying to fit them snugly together like a granite jigsaw puzzle.
No doubt expert rock garden developers would chuckle at this weak effort, but it’s been a fun way of addressing the rock issue that allows for some creativity, too.