Monday, May 25, 2015

McLaughlin Garden, South Paris, Maine

We managed to make it to the McLaughlin Garden just in time for their Lilac Festival.    There were also tons of wildflowers - this is definitely a garden that shines in Spring.

Garden Notes

I'm in a weird kind of holding pattern with the garden at the moment.   One issue is that Memorial Day (one of our planting benchmarks) is on the early side this year, which had not lined up very well with my other benchmark - blooming iris.     I actually do have one blooming, but it's one of the hybrids, which have never before bloomed before my old fashioned iris.    So it's been a weird year, definitely.    The old fashioneds are at least quite full of buds, so they should be blooming any time now.

The other issue is that the apartment downstairs is turning over at the end of the month, and my back yard garden is directly in the way of the path to the basement stairs.    So I really can't set that up until the turnover is complete.    (The old tenants are practically moved out already, so hopefully the new tenant can come on the last day of May, which is the Sunday, and get that the heck over with.)

So in a fit of optimism, I bought two cherry tomatoes from the same sellers at the Farmer's Market that last year's monsters came from.    And managed to snap off about half of one when wrangling the cage on.     There are still plenty of leaves left, so I'm going to keep an eye on it this week.   Hopefully, I won't have to replace it, but there's another Farmer's Market on Saturday that I'm sure will still have seedlings, if I do.

I also planted the nasturtiums and calendula my mother gave me, as I started hardening them off earlier this week.    My seedlings are smaller, and also in a larger container, so I just started hardening them off yesterday.     They should be set for next weekend.

In a French Kitchen - Susan Herrmann Loomis

Librarything Early Reviewers book.

I very much enjoyed this book for the recipes, but not so much for the chapter content.      Each chapter is arranged around some aspect of French home cooking, with the author using various friends and neighbors as examples.     I think the best way I can characterize those chapters is a magazine piece stretched unnecessarily long – I found myself hurrying through the content to get to the recipes at the end of each chapter.

The recipes are why I’ll keep this book around – they’re simple, with fresh ingredients – some interesting twists on items I’ll be able to find at my farmer’s market soon enough.

Friday, May 15, 2015

The Silver Rose - Susan Carrol

Read for the Once Upon a Time IX Reading Challenge.

Have you ever accidently found yourself several books into a series, with no labels to tell you that, leaving you to wonder exactly why you’ve been missing something, and not knowing exactly what that something is?     That was my experience with this book.

Miri Cheney is the youngest daughter of Evangeline Cheney, the legendary Lady of Fair Isle.   (Youngest daughter, so it turns out you’ve already gotten the stories of the childhood of the sisters, as well as the two older daughters' adult stories, if you’ve been keeping up.)    Like her mother, she’s a Daughter of the Earth, but her magic is more with animals than people.     When she was younger, she fell in love with the witch hunter Simon Aristide, who used her to get close to her sisters.   (Yep, more back story.)    Her sisters were forced to flee France, and Miri’s heart was broken.

It’s years later, and Miri, the only one of the sisters not convicted of witchcraft, has returned to Fair Isle.      And it’s there that Simon finds her.    He’s very much a changed man, much humbled, having been seeking the Silver Rose, an evil sorceress who has proven to him that many of the women he persecuted in the past were not the evil witches he believed them to be.    He very much wants Miri’s oldest sister’s help, but Ariane has left France, and only Miri is left.     Miri doesn’t believe she can trust Simon, but she knows the Silver Rose must be stopped.

Surprisingly, this book actually doesn’t do too badly as a stand alone.   You definitely get the feeling you’re missing some good character development, but the actual action of this book makes sense.    It plays out against the larger back story of France during the reign of King Henry, and his mother, Catherine de Medici, in this world, also a dark sorceress.      I’d say this book tilts more romance than straight fantasy, but I enjoyed it, and I wouldn’t mind meeting Miri’s sisters.

Fort Baldwin State Park, Phippsburg, Maine

Last weekend's ramble was up to the Bath area, where we tracked down the last state park on those peninsulas we hadn't been to yet.    Amusingly, it's actually really close to Fort Popham (you can actually see that to the right in the second to last picture), but it's down a one lane road (Fort Baldwin Road, actually), with no other labels than the street name, so easy to miss if you pass the street sign too quickly.

We're pretty sure we saw a golden eagle.    It was flying low, and we could definitely tell it was a hawk of some sort, but we assumed it was an osprey.    In the Sunday paper, there was a reader submitted photo of a golden eagle at Fort Popham, and we're pretty sure it was the same bird.

The fog bank was hilarious.    Up the road in Bath, it was perfectly sunny, but definitely not right on the sea.

Annoyingly, even though it has a page in the Maine State Park stamp book, there was no stamp station out.    We're hoping it was just in for the winter (this is an unmanned park).    At least we know how to find the place now.

Knitting Notes

A few more hexipuffs to finish off the Tess' Designer sock yarn.    There are few more here than I usually like to make from one color, but it's so much lighter than a lot of what I already have, that it seemed like the contrast would be a good thing.

Shades of Milk and Honey - Mary Robinette Kowel

Here’s a slight twist on the Regency romance – in this world, some people are gifted with the abilities of glamour – the magical ability to manipulate light.  At its most basic form, it’s considered womanly magic, something used to make the home brighter and more comfortable.

Where the regular Regency romance comes in is the two sisters: Jane is the older of the two, and while plain, has the better ability in glamour, while Melody, though beautiful doesn’t have much magical ability to speak of.   They both need to get good husbands, and there are several eligible young men newly arrived to the neighborhood.    You can pretty much imagine where this goes from here.

What I loved about this book was the magic, and the characters.     What I didn’t like so much was the writing.    A good Regency romance has a sprightly air about it, and this book did not have that.    Some of the language was just plain unwieldy.     And it’s a shame too, because the story itself has so much potential.    I feel like a little more editing would have improved it greatly.