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It is true that I’m having a beautiful weekend here. The weather has warmed up a bit and the sun is shining, the flowers are blooming and the birds are singing.

Chautauqua May 2015 our dock evening 23rd...........Alice and Mike's 16th wedding anniversary

Still, I am somewhat wishing I were some place else, even though we had a lovely evening enjoying a dinner of Ingmar’s delicious grilling, western style pork ribs, two kinds of salads and delicious strawberries. I was supposed to be at our cottage at Lake Chautauqua this weekend. There was a meeting of the Historical Society which Paul used to tease me by calling the “hysterical society” which it occasionally has been. But I felt as though I were coming down with a cold and the weather was very very cold on Friday when I would have arrived. In short, I was a wimp…..So my first time there will be soon, I hope, but not this Memorial Day weekend…

Alice and Mike arrived Thursday evening and opened the cottage which means they turned on the water, no small feat and one with its own set of apprehensions. We never used to have difficulties, but there was a stretch of several years when turning on the water resulted in a deluge pouring out of the top of the kitchen just above the door to the dining room. Not fun! We were lucky enough to find a wonderful plumber who came and rescued us many times. But it seems (knock on wood) that those days may be over. I think this is the third year of no disasters.

This is also the weekend of Alice and Mike celebrating their Sixteenth Wedding Anniversary and I can tell from all the phone calls and face book postings that they are enjoying their time greatly. The dock is in now and Nathan and Stephen have been rather successful with their fishing endeavors.

Nathan may 23rd fine catch

Stephen may 2015 may 23 catch

This morning there was a community planting of native plants near the beach. For many years I was sad that most cottages mowed the grass right to the water’s edge. I knew from my garden reading that this was not good for the lake and now, thank heaven, this point of view is becoming more accepted. Point Chautauqua has joined with a group of graduate students in the Yard Works project at Cornell University in Ithaca who developed a planting plan for us, of native plants which would help prevent pollutants from entering the lake and causing the toxic algae blooms and excessive seaweed growth we’ve seen in several places in the hot days of August.

I am eager to see this! Alice was one of the people who helped with this work, and one of only two younger volunteers. (And she is not in her 30s anymore!)

There is always a lot of work in the beginning, as we discover things which need repair or maintenance. I’m so lucky that my kids are interesting in taking this over! I contribute, but not as physically as I used to do.

Besides their fun at the cottage and beach and dock, they enjoyed a few meals at The Hadley House… One was especially satisfying. My sil Mike had been diagnosed with allergies to fish and shellfish years ago and always carried an epi pen. But when he was tested recently he was negative for this reaction. About a week ago he had to go to the doctor’s office and eat two shrimp at half hour intervals while under observation. (This still amuses me to no end.) He had no reaction and is now cleared to enjoy these foods. So here is a photo of Michael enjoying a shrimp taco at the Hadley House.

Alice may 2015 Mike is eating a shrimp taco now he is no longer allergic

Is a book review a Dangerous Place? I rarely write one! But I was inspired to do so today after finishing A Dangerous Place by Jacqueline Winspear.

books a dangerous place 2015

In 2003 I was electrified by the first edition of Maisie Dobbs, the first book in the series of which A Dangerous Place is the 11th.

books Maisie Dobbs

Every bit of that first book, the amazing narrative of the development of Maise Dobbs from housemaid to “psychologist and detective” was fascinating. And the books should probably be read in order since circumstances continue to change. Still I must confess I did not find a number of the subsequent books as enthralling as the first. The tenth book, Leaving Everything Most Loved, was a return to an earlier level of excellence, I thought. And this mystery, though I have a few reservations about it, is also a fine piece of work. I think it will satisfy Maisie’s fans.

books Leaving Everything Most Loved

Maisie Dobbs is a naturally gifted and skillfully trained detective psychologist, but between Leaving Everything Most Loved and this newest offering immense changes, tragedies, have taken place in her life. It’s too bad, perhaps, that we only learn about them from a series of letters in the first chapter or so. She finally married the English aristocrat who was the son of the house where she had originally worked as a housemaid. They had three very happy years together and were expecting their first child when James was killed while piloting an experimental plane and Maisie lost the baby apparently as a result of the shock of witnessing the crash. James had promised not to fly now that they were about to be parents, but the unexpected no show of the pilot when all was in readiness led him to volunteer to perform the test flight himself. This happened in Canada and afterwards Maisie went to India to grieve. The book actually begins when she is sailing home to England mostly in response to a letter from her step-mother who was worried about Maisie’s father Frankie.

But the closer she returns to England the less she feels able to revisit the scenes of her past life. Her grief is still very fresh. She informs the Captain that she will leave the ship in Gibraltar, ignoring his warnings that it is a dangerous place. The reason for this danger is that the year is 1937 and the Spanish Civil War is raging very near the Rock, and refugees of all sorts of conditions and alliances are streaming into that quite small area.

Almost immediately Maisie finds, while out walking, the dead body of a photographer who was also a member of the small community of Sephardic Jews who inhabit Gibraltar. Although the police are convinced (or try to convince Maisie) that it was a mugging from one of the refugees, she is by no means ready to accept this idea and feels she must try to help his family and discover the truth.

It is very complicated, this unraveling of what is really going on. Maisie is being watched by people who work for her father-in-law who is high in the British government and well connected, and a lot of different agendas are being played out by various people. The setting is well realized, I believe, and this is a time and place with which I was not at all familiar. The pace is slow, in a strange way, but I feel it may well reflect Maisie’s state of mind which is divided between her desire to uncover the Truth and her strong and fresh grief for the loss of her husband and unborn baby. It is certainly a book which deals with psychology and detection! But I think it works and is well done and I recommend it to those who have read some or all of the previous books. And if you have not read them and enjoy mysteries, I certainly recommend beginning with Maisie Dobbs!

Fnf may 2015 Mag friends at 87 West

Yesterday afternoon I met up with six friends from high school. Two I had not seen for 52 years, two not seen for twenty years, and two I see fairly often, especially Mary Alice who arranged this get together. It felt as if we had been meeting daily since that June day in 1963 when we graduated. Such kindred spirits.

We went from unseasonably cold to breaking a heat record for Akron yesterday. In the 80s. Alice sent a photo of what Stephen was doing to keep cool…….

Stephen May 2015 first swim in the season may 7th

And Nathan had his first baseball game. In the foreground of this photo is a mound of dirt around which the younger siblings of the players are amusing themselves.

Nathan may 2015 first baseball game sibling dirt pile

Clara May 2015 more dress up

Clara has been playing dress-up with some new jewelry.

Sofia may 2015 playing dress up

Sofia has been dressing up in her Scarlet Macaw costume.

Sofia may 2015 fairy houses 1

Sofia may 2015 fairy houses 4

Sofia may 2015 fairy houses 5

One afternoon Sofia, Clara and their cousin Krisztina gathered material from their Aunt Aniko and Uncle Gyuri’s yard and created first fairy houses, which then expanded into an entire fairy village. There was a school and a church and perhaps a restaurant……. May is the loveliest month!

The first good news I heard today was the birth of the as yet not named publicly Princess of Cambridge. And that was very good news and made me smile. However the second good news I heard was much closer to home and I am still quite excited about it.

Ingmar with daughters sept 2014

My dear son-in-law Ingmar – pictured above with his two delightful daughters Clara and Sofia last September – had his first day as a vendor at the Howe Meadow Farmer’s Market. http://www.cvcountryside.org/

It lasts from 9am to noon. And by about 10:30 Ingmar was completely sold out. Lots of people in this part of the world who appreciate German baking!

Ingmar May 2015 first day at market  and sold out

We are all so proud and happy for him!

Ingmar may 2015 first day at market sold out

Ingmar may 2015 market day sold out in less than two hours..........just before 11am

Flowers Ohio wild flower chart

It will probably be around 70degrees Fahrenheit today and slowly moving toward a few days that hit 80 next week!
I doubt we will have a killing frost anymore, though May 8th is the safe-to-plant in this part of the world.

The chart above is of Ohio wildflowers, many of which grow in my yard. Our first home on Fox Run, had a creek running through the back yard and a south facing slope on the far side of it, a slope filled with wonderful wildflowers. I dug up a number of them and moved them with me during the next few years and most have done very well. There are many sorts of wild violets, hepatica, blood root, toothwort, turk’s head lily (from a friend’s farm in Ashtabula county) Virginia bluebells, and more. There are mayapple, spring beauties, Dutchmen’s Breeches, and Foam flowers and more……..More. More….And more! Several sorts of Trilliums. And more…….

They are a great joy! I used to be a maniac of sorts about herbs and flowers, spending every free minute learning more about them or gardening. I was a garden writer for a local paper for more than seventeen years…. I remember in years past that I would walk around my yard multiple times a day at this time of year, looking for whatever had shown itself or bloomed since the last walk a few hours earlier. And there was always at least one something to cause rejoicing. Such excitement. There still is.

flowers hepatica pink

Pink Hepatica

Flowers Jack in the pulpit

Jack-in-the-pulpit

Flowers Hepatica_nobilis17_JL

Purple Hepatica

flowers blood root

Blood Root

Blood root really has a root which gives out a strong red which can dye fiber. Native Americans used it for this.

There are more wildflowers in my garden and also cultivated plants.
And seeing them make me very happy, so this time of year is filled with joy.
It makes my heart full of gratitude!

I just read an article recently, in the Guardian, about happiness. One sentence that really struck me was this: “Christian Bjørnskov, an economist at Aarhus University, said: “Older people are much better at knowing what makes them happy and living according to that, instead of what other people expect from them.”

I also thought of the English gardener Christopher Lloyd who said that one should know what one really liked and make sure one had plenty of it. This may sound a bit self-centered or ruthless. It is not. It is putting on ones own oxygen mask first so one can help others. There are many ways to help others, but at the simplest, I believe others are helped by being around happy people.

You may read the entire article here: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/apr/28/female-over-65-and-danish-the-three-keys-to-happiness.

The first part of this title is what my grandson Nathan said when he first got glasses and discovered he’d been missing quite a few details that he could now see. It’s what I am feeling this spring day. It’s still pretty cold here but the sun is shining mightily and the world seems so exact! The grass is verging toward out of control and many things are blooming in sharp detail.

Flowers forsythia and bleeding heart

We were at a family party yesterday, about a half hour southeast of here, and I was amazed at all that was in bloom at my niece’s home……She even had a few tulips which she had raised behind chicken wire cages to save them from the deer. I’ve not thought of doing that myself and I doubt I will, but she did have beautiful violet colored tulips! I just switch to daffodils because the deer don’t appear to be attracted to them.

Flowers weeds dandelion

All the spring pollen from flowers and trees has been extremely high this year and my son in law Michael has been having terrible allergies, so he went off to be tested to find out what he is allegic to and what can be done. About ten years ago after a scary episode on a cruise ship when his throat seemed to be swelling closed and he had lots of tingling on his lips and tongue, his family doctor proclaimed him to be allergic to fish and seafood and prescribed an epi pen for him. But at this actual testing, besides the positive results for various pollens, he seemed to be negative for any allergy to fish or seafood. So we’ve all been amused by his next doctor’s appointment at which he needs to take shrimp to the doctor’s office and eat them under supervision. Of course Alice and Stephen who both love all sorts of fish and seafood will be delighted if it proves to be that Mike can eat them whenever he wants without danger.

Mike shrimp 2

It is lovely here in April, even if we have not yet reached the level of spring that I see on other blogs. Lots of flowers are in bloom and every day I see that the grass is greener. Every morning and evening I hear the frogs we call peepers calling out. I wake to birdsong and when I drive through the valley I see the herons flying giant “twigs”, really small branches, to their nests. Kids are playing outside. Neighbors are picking up debris from the winds of winter.

Stephen April 2015 planting the pits from his black olives

The urge to get out and garden a bit is hitting all of us….Stephen is planting the pits of green olives at the edge of their driveway. He loves them and is hoping for a harvest in the future.

Stephen april 2015 reading lego catalog in hallway half hour after being put to bed

Do you remember a post from long ago when Nathan was about four years old? It showed him reading in bed with a flashlight after he should have been asleep…A few nights ago Alice went upstairs about an hour after she had put Stephen to bed and found him sitting quietly in the hallway looking at his Lego catalog. Nothing new under the sun!

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