Tuesday, May 29, 2012

And They're Off

If you didn't get your tomatoes in over the weekend, do it now! There is such a small window between last frost of spring and first frost of autumn in which to plant, grow, and harvest that we Northerners can't afford to waste a single warm and sunny day. Especially if we are hoping for mammoth prize beauties like these!

If you planted early, playing the odds on whether we would get a late May frost, you have won! Congratulations! You will likely eating BLT's a few weeks ahead of your meteorologically conservative neighbors.

Around NDL HQ the Juliet greenhouse starts went into giant pots last week and soon we expect to receive and plant at the community garden some heirloom varieties promised to us from the Garden Guru. What a great complement they will be for the basil we planted in bulk in the spirit of certain former pesto plantation plot holders and in anticipation of much pesto to see us through tomato season and beyond.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Smokey Sez

The wonderful rain we have just received in most of our region should help keep the fire danger levels low for our holiday weekend campfires, but the beginning of summer is always a good time to remind ourselves of the kind behavior Smokey expects of us when dealing with fires of any kind.

Seems we aren't calling them forest fires any more.

Only you can prevent wildfires. Get your Smokey on.

Have a great and safe weekend and summer!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Helping by Hiking

Yet another local kid is thinking and acting big. Really big. Former Y Camp Manitou camper and staff member Paul Birrittella is devoting his summer to walking 1000 miles of the WI  Ice Age Trail to raise money for camper scholarships .

Follow Paul's summer-long journey, be his friend, and make a pledge for each mile walked.

Go Paul, Go.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Who's New at the Zoo?

This little guy. 

Could he/she be any cuter? We don't think so.

Zebras often look confused don't you think? Probably being unsure of whether you are white with black stripes, or black with white stripes, leads to uncertainty in many other aspects of  life as a zebra. Perhaps these two are having trouble comprehending a brunette mother bison with a blonde baby. Poor things.

Photos: S. Plasch

Friday, May 18, 2012

Any Given Friday

 ... you will find neighbors and other bon vivants in the sideyard ready to review and celebrate, 
and/or conduct a post mortem and lay to rest the week past.

Our ebullient hosts say the picnic table is open any Friday afternoon with or without the homeowners' presence. Hoo boy! But of course it wouldn't be the same without them.

If you weren't  there for opening day you didn't get a last chance for the end of the 2011 pesto.  Don't make the  mistake of again missing out on the amazing cocktail hour pantry magic that occurs every week when the clock strikes close enough to 5:00. 

Now that you have a standing invitation you'd be fools if you did not cruise by to join the fun. Just sayin'.

The social season has begun! 

Thursday, May 17, 2012


The invitation said, "come to meet the candidate". It did not say, "you will also be meeting and standing in the same room with the one, the only, Bowzer from Grease and Sha Na Na".

Yes, folks, if you got the invitation and for some reason did not show, you missed not only hearing about Kristen Dexter's plans  to help out as a state senator,  you also missed a chance to hear the election-themed vocal stylings and thoughtful comments of Jon Bauman, aka Bowzer.

And to think that it happened on West Central Street.
 What an interesting and pleasant evening it was.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Birds are Back in Town

Some never left. 

Here are a few we have  heard, seen in flight, or spotted at our backyard watering hole.

We'll have to collect more series of these Arm and Hammer Baking Soda Useful Birds of America trading cards to get the rest of our regulars.

Also hanging around or passing through the yard: goldfinch, grackle, starling, sparrows and finches that we can't tell apart, cardinal of course, blue jay, yellow-rumped warbler, wren, and our talkative treetop companion - catbird.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

An Attitude is a Terrible Thing to Waste

Especially when there is a mom out there who would love to have some from you today.

Free downloads - when you care enough to send the very best. It's not too late to tuck a tender, heartfelt, or gettin' gritty note into that Mother's Day bouquet to let her know how you feel about her. 
Let it all out, show her some love.

 and a nice little round up of other varying attitudes at Lime Lane.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Resistance is Futile

As near as we can tell these are UK TV advertisements for the power of TV advertisements. They are incredibly cute and very effective - which is why we are showing  them to you this week while the number one campaigner for getting another dog is safely out of the country and perhaps not paying close attention to what's going on here at NDL.

If that one didn't send you running straight out the door to the shelter to pick out a new pooch,
this one will.



Monday, May 7, 2012

Mrs. NDL Goes to Washington

What we missed on our somewhat spontaneous two-day trip to DC:

Cherry blossoms. They peaked a month before the end of the cherry blossom festival and then a big rain washed the spent blooms away. There was not so much as a petal to be found.

Malbec World Day. We stayed in Dupont Circle in the midst of embassies from around the world. Huge banners at the Argentinian embassy pointed out the festival that happened just days before our arrival.

White House Garden tours. They only happen a couple of times a year and one of those times was exactly the weekend that had just passed. The view through the fence. So close, but yet so far.

We shoulda planned ahead.

But, it is DC, and there are a few other things to see and do.

Monuments of course. Lincoln, Vietnam, WWII, are all beautiful and moving, but we could not enter the Washington Monument which is still closed due to earthquake damage.

The United States Botanic Garden:  Site of the National Garden which features many aspects of gardening from roses to regional native plants.

Inside, a lovely surprise was  Orchid Mystique: Nature’s Triumph   - "observes the 100th anniversary of Japan’s gift of the cherry blossom trees to Washington, D.C., by presenting our orchids in settings evocative of Japanese gardens. The tranquility of the Japanese aesthetic invites appreciation of the beauty, form and exquisite floral complexity of nature’s most diverse plant family."

The Library of Congress: If you were expecting a modern building warehousing shelves and shelves of books you would be as delighted to find that the original LOC building is a jewel of artistic architecture with a fascinating history as we were.

"The figures of little boys on the staircase are known as “putti” in Italian Renaissance art and represent the various occupations and pursuits of contemporary American life when the Jefferson Building was completed in 1897." - LOC Virtual Tour  Shown in the foreground here is the hunter, with the farmer, mechanic, and bacchanalian alongside. See the other three panels of industrious little putti herehere, and here.

The exhibit Sakura: Cherry Blossoms as Living Symbols of Friendship was nice consolation for having missed the cherry blossoms.

Other highlights included:  beautiful stumbled upon surprises like the the Butterfly Habitat Garden, the Enid A. Haupt Garden 

and raised vegetable beds - the People's Garden, on the lawn of the Department of Agriculture. 

As well as sculpture gardens outside the Hirshorn Museum,

We intentionally sought out Sonny Bono Park, just a stones throw from DuPont Circle

Sonny Bono Memorial Park  is named for Sonny Bono. The park was established in 1998 after Sonny Bono's death by Bono family friend Geary Simon, a local real estate developer. He approached the D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation's Park Partners program and paid $25,000 of his own money to revitalize an unused 800-square-foot triangle of grass. His improvements included installing an underground sprinkler system, planting new Kentucky bluegrass and a Japanese maple, as well as benches and a wrought-iron fence. The park also features a vault of Sonny Bono memorabilia, such as the sheet music for "The Beat Goes On," his official Congressional cuff links, and a mug from his string of Bono's Restaurants. - Wikipedia

And are now thinking we should write Cher, or Chaz, or Mr. Geary to tell them to hire a private gardener. and trash collector. 

But as we found over and over again in DC (as in most of life's journeys), for every disappointment  there is a supremely satisfying experience to cancel it out.

The attraction that totally lived up to our expectations - Smokey Bear's Office at the USDA Forest Service complete with animatronic Smokey.

Add champagne, lovely breakfasts, and old DC atmosphere at the American Guest House; a Prez Obama Burger and fries at the Good Stuff Eatery;  the Trenette al Nero di Seppia (Ink Squid Pasta) and offerings from the Prosciutto Bar at La Tomate; great people watching; flawless travel connections; a beautiful clean (thanks kids) house on our return, and you get a very wonderful  anniversary get-away in our nation's amazing capitol.

Saturday, May 5, 2012


Just in case it's too cloudy to see it, or past your bedtime when it comes out, in honor of tonight's supermoon, here's a fun little moon-related something.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Waiting for Spring

Not long ago we read this article about the lack of nature and animal themes in children's books and frankly, felt a bit shaken. Could it be true? We had to see for ourself.

In the kid-lit  area of our big new bookstore  we found,  right on the top shelf of the picture-book  section this:

A wonderful book about a grandpa whose fading memories are kept in the topiaries he creates.

And this:

A girl's imaginings of the colorful and whimsical garden she will plant. Jellybean bushes are involved.

And this:


Author illustrator team, Philip and Erin Stead put out annual lists of their picks for the Phildecott and Steadbury awards and we are pleased to discover that many of their choices are both nature and animal themed books.

Based on our independent study and that of the Steads we are choosing to believe that the report of the dwindling of books of this genre is premature. They are there but it may take some intention to seek them out and share them with the kids in your life to help keep them connected with their "big backyard". Better yet, read some of those stories to them right in the great outdoors.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Smarty Plants

If you possess one of those newfangled smart phones you now have it made in the shade when you go to the greenhouse to get your garden going.

Formerly, when phones were dumb, we had to get out our readers, squint at the very small print on the plant label, then consult the armful of garden books  we had dragged along to the nursery to help us make informed choices on creating planter pots and borders perfect for our conditions. 

We own a lot of very muddy garden books.

No more of that silliness. 

Now you can let your fingers do the scanning and get masses of information in the blink of an eye.

Notice we said your, not our? Our flip-phone needs a little more higher education afore it can be smart like the other phones. In the meantime we'll keep the cheaters at hand and muddle along as we always have.