Posts by Ellen Rocco

The more love you give, the more you get

Photo: MTSOfan via Creative Commons, some rights reserved

Photo: MTSOfan via Creative Commons, some rights reserved

That’s how it felt during this month’s historic un-fundraiser fundraiser at NCPR. You asked for fewer program interruptions during our fall campaign, we gave you that, and holy cow! you gave back over the top. As I write this note of gratitude to all of you, we have surpassed our goal of $235,000 by more than $11,000 and we are still counting.

Needless to say, all of us at NCPR have been analyzing what we did right, what we could do differently or better in future fundraisers. We welcome your ideas on this, too.

Here are my personal takeaways from this game changing approach to raising money for the station.

1. It’s not about the thank you gifts or prizes, it’s not about what time of day we ask, it’s not about which one of us does the asking. It’s about the work we do and how much you value that work. Pure and simple: you care about the programs and all of the digital content NCPR makes available. That, my friends, is totally cool.

2. You are proud of NCPR. You take pride in this station as much as the people who run the station day to day do. At a party recently, I heard a station contributor and long-time listener telling someone who had just moved to the region how the Adirondack North Country has the best public radio station bar none. Like a mother hearing a teacher or neighbor tell someone else how wonderful or smart or friendly her child is, I puffed up with pride to hear a listener boasting about NCPR. That, my friends, is about as gratifying as it gets.

3. It’s all about respect. Specifically, you respect the work we do so you’re willing to contribute some money to keep it going. But the big epiphany for me: I think our new use of short messages with the phone number and web address shows our respect for you. No matter how (relatively) well we ran our old style fundraisers, we tended to talk to you differently during fundraisers than we do the rest of the year. Cajoling, admonishing, even lecturing a bit. With the new approach the implied message is that we respect you enough to trust that a simple reminder with the necessary contact information is all you need to do your part as a member of the public radio community. That, my friends, opened the heavens for me and leaves me convinced that together we can make this all happen for years to come.

Photo: BK via Creative Commons, some rights reserved

Photo: BK via Creative Commons, some rights reserved

Thank you–for being there for NCPR in so many ways, for caring about the work we do, and for making it so easy to admire and respect the people we serve.

Still growing in mid-October

 

Photographed on October 14 in Rossie, NY by John and Liz Scarlett.

Photographed on October 14 in Rossie, NY by John and Liz Scarlett.

I received a couple of photos from our Rossie friends, John and Liz Scarlett featuring irises and morning glories flourishing against a background of fall foliage. There was a time when we would most likely have seen the first snowfall and certainly several killing frosts by mid-October. It’s a changing climate.

A whole shed wall covered with morning glories. Photo: Liz and John Scarlett, Rossie

A whole shed wall covered with morning glories. Photo: Liz and John Scarlett, Rossie

Irises against fall foliage. Photo: Liz and John Scarlett, Rossie

Irises against fall foliage. Photo: Liz and John Scarlett, Rossie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I also heard from two regular contributors to the All In garden posts–Adirondacker George DeChant whose photos regularly grace this blog as well as our Photo of the Day; and Cassandra Corcoran of Monkton, VT who keeps in touch throughout the growing season with updates from her garden.

Outside the post office Long Lake. Photo: George DeChant

Outside the post office Long Lake. Photo: George DeChant

Over in Monkton, Cassandra planted some cannellini beans with 7.5 ounces of seed and harvested over a gallon of shelled dried beans from that investment.

The cannellini bean patch, from 7.5 ounces of seed. Photo: Cassandra Corcoran, Monkton VT

The cannellini bean patch, from 7.5 ounces of seed. Photo: Cassandra Corcoran, Monkton VT

 

The harvested vines. Photo: Cassandra Corcoran.

The harvested vines. Photo: Cassandra Corcoran.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bucket of beans, prior to shelling. Photo: Cassandra Corcoran

Bucket of beans, prior to shelling. Photo: Cassandra Corcoran

Beans for the winter. Photo; Cassandra Corcoran

Beans for the winter. Photo; Cassandra Corcoran

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After several years of sharing garden photos with us, I thought you’d enjoy seeing a picture of Cassandra herself. I think of this photo as The Dancing Gardener.

Gardener Cassandra Corcoran, Monkton, VT

Gardener Cassandra Corcoran, Monkton, VT

Still happy to see your late harvest and garden-clearing photos. Send to ellen@ncpr.org and remember: we’ll be getting those seed catalogues in the mail before you know it!

Soot, peppers and tradition

 

peppersisistastesa2014

Roasting peppers on an open fire is not for clean-freaks. But, ooh, they taste so good. Isis, here, testing our work. Photo: Mary McCallion

 

For years, my friends Mary Harding McCallion and Isis Melhado and I have been getting together in the fall to roast peppers.  For this week’s garden post, I share a series of photos taken recently as we gathered  for our annual Roast of the Peppers, with friendly participation from Mary’s husband Jochen Sieckmann (who helps out even though he’s not a fan of garlic and our method involves a lot of garlic). We’ve been tracking your gardens all summer–great photos on an almost weekly basis from growers across the region. Now, it’s harvest and clean-up-the-garden time. Keep the photos coming! Send them to me at ellen@ncpr.org. For the rest of this post, I’m going to let the photos tell the story.

It starts with peppers, an open fire, and lots of garlic.

Peppers roasting on our open fire pit. Photo: Mary McCallion

Peppers roasting on our open fire pit: yes, you want them totally blackened. Photo: Mary McCallion

Isis, chief pepper poker. Photo: Mary McCallion

Isis, chief pepper poker. Photo: Mary McCallion

Here comes the garlic. Photo: Mary McCallion

Here comes the garlic. Photo: Mary McCallion

Blackened peppers are cooled in brown paper bags before skinning. Photo: Mary McCallion

Blackened peppers are cooled in brown paper bags before skinning. Photo: Mary McCallion

 

Lots of bagged peppers away skinning. Photo: Mary McCallion

Isis and Jochen with lots of bagged peppers to be skinned. Photo: Mary McCallion

It gets pretty messy skinning charred peppers. Photo: Mary McCallion

It gets pretty messy skinning charred peppers. Photo: Mary McCallion

 

Soooo good. Photo: Mary McCallion

Soooo good. Photo: Mary McCallion

All four of us grab onto the biggest pepper of the day. Photo: Mary McCallion

All four of us grab onto the biggest pepper of the day. Photo: Mary McCallion

 

One of the largest ones, totally charred, before peeling. (That's the Oswegatchie River behind us, by the way.) Photo: Mary McCallion

The big one, after charring, before peeling. (That’s the Oswegatchie River behind us, by the way.) Photo: Mary McCallion

Adding the garlic to the peeled, cut up roasted peppers. Add olive oil, put in bags and freeze. Photo: Mary McCallion

Adding the garlic to the peeled, cut up roasted peppers. Add olive oil, put in bags and freeze. Photo: Mary McCallion

The day's work. Photo: Mary McCallion

A portion of the day’s work. Photo: Mary McCallion

Part of the tradition is an al fresco meal. This year, Jochen made squash soup and we roasted some homegrown potatoes.

Isis chowing down on Jochen's squash soup, and Ellen's bread. Photo: Mary McCallion

Isis chowing down on Jochen’s squash soup, and Ellen’s bread. Photo: Mary McCallion

Slightly over-roasted potato...another mess. But I love those fire-charred spuds. Photo: Mary McCallion

Slightly over-roasted potato…another mess. But I love those fire-charred spuds. Photo: Mary McCallion

Mary, Ellen, Isis with a bowl of roasted peppers. Photo: Jochen Seickmann

Mary, Ellen, Isis with a bowl of roasted peppers. Photo: Jochen Seickmann

Remember: send me those harvest and garden clearing photos, or photos of harvest meals. ellen@ncpr.org

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oil: are we crazy, optimistic or greedy?

Photo: Mike Psiaki, via Creative Commons, some rights reserved.

Photo: Mike Psiaki, via Creative Commons, some rights reserved.

I’m no more an expert on the global oil industry than anyone else. I am old enough to remember the 1973 oil crisis–when Middle Eastern production was reduced to put pressure on Israel and its allies following the occupation of Gaza–which led to a U.S. ban on oil exports, a ban that has remained in place through multiple oil crises in subsequent decades. Until now, maybe.

NPR reported this morning that the President is favorably inclined to reconsider and remove that export ban, in light of increased domestic fuel production in recent years and the availability of expanded fuel resources, partially because of new extractive technologies like hydrofracking.

Since 1973, we’ve seen a brief public and corporate response to oil crises and then, each time the price of fuel at the pump declined, our national memory is wiped clean again and we’re back in the 1960s when fossil fuels seemed limitless, cars got 10 mpg, and “national security” was code for the cold war with the Soviet Union not domestic vs. imported oil availability. So through multiple fuel security scares, our long-term response has been relatively trivial, except for developing new extractive technologies. This brings to mind an old saying, which I’ll paraphrase: doing something the same way over and over without success is a sign of insanity.

But, maybe it’s good ol’ American “can do” optimism. Another story from NPR considers the current price decline at the fuel pumps. In recent years, with the growth in the Chinese, Indian and large emerging economies, with conflicts across the globe, we would expect a rise in demand and cost. Instead, prices have declined and there’s plenty of fossil fuel. This fuels our optimism about the future: we will continue to find reserves and ways to extract those reserves and, by the time those reserves may be depleted, we’ll have found new reserves or new fuel solutions. This makes economic growth possible, and economic growth is good.

Or are we just greedy when we accept 25 mpg SUVs as a good enough response to climate change? Can the planet handle our material greed? In developed and developing nations? In our own country? In you? And me? Is the extraction of seemingly limitless fossil fuels and the use of those fuels by billions of people something our planet can handle?

Just asking. Crazy, optimistic, or greedy?

 

Who’s the most different from you and me?

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Howling wolf. Photo: Via Creative Commons, some rights reserved

My pug Guy. Yes, he is descended from the wolf and genetically a close relative. Photo: Ellen Rocco

My pug Guy. Both wolves and pugs bark and howl. Photo: Ellen Rocco

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Them. Those other people. And, sometimes, friend, I gotta say, I wonder about you when you (fill in the blank here).

This week, NCPR is honored to host Keith Woods, NPR’s VP for Diversity, during his two day visit to Canton. In preparation for  the variety of events and activities he’ll be participating in (scroll to bottom of this post for details about what’s open to the public), I’ve been thinking about diversity and difference.

What better setting than an Amish barn-raising I was invited to earlier this week? In many ways, the Amish are the most different from the rest of us (we’re all the “English” to them) than any other cultural, religious, or racial group in the region. Your skin color may be different than mine, you may have grown up on a farm and I grew up in the city, or you may be agnostic and I’m a devout church-goer, but we all live in the same world of politics and government, media and entertainment, education and culture. Regardless of your political affiliation or favorite tv shows, regardless of the college you attended (or didn’t attend), collectively–including our differences–we create a common world or society called the United States.

Now, think about the Amish. Aside from local school and town levies, they pay no taxes; they do not vote in general elections; they send their children to one-room schools through 8th grade and no further; they build no churches, but their lives are unequivocally grounded in their Christian faith; they don’t drive cars (!); and, in a time when we “English” have abandoned small family farming and moved en masse to cities and suburbs, the Amish believe that a life on the land is inseparable from their Christianity.

Plus, they speak a dialect of German in their homes and among themselves, and English to the “English.”

So how do we even talk to each other?

Here’s the amazing thing. Over the years, with many Amish neighbors and friends, the differences seem less and less important in terms of knowing each other and caring about each other and working with each other. Don’t get me wrong, there are big differences. But, the proximity of our homes and the fact that we operate small farms gave us common ground. We use tools that most large farmers–not to mention non-farmers–don’t even recognize. (A teenage neighbor who helps out his grandfather on a very large dairy, gave us a hand haying. He was truly flabbergasted at how much time and work it took to put up hay in small square bales, compared to using combines and round-balers. My Amish friend Abe was helping me and we had a good laugh–both of us have also brought hay in loose, so square-baling seems kind of modern to both of us.)

We share small farming as a meeting point and a place to work cooperatively. We share a lot of similar values, too, though our Amish friends are quietly devout Christians and I’m a cultural Jew whose awe is directed toward nature and this planet, respect for the land is mutual and paramount. We all work hard at physical tasks, and respect those who use tools well.

We laugh at each other and our quirks; we share slightly off-color jokes (y’know, farmers are pretty earthy whether English or Amish); we take care of each other when we need help; and we trust each other.

Even a cat, a lamb and a dog can find cross-species trust. Photo: Ellen Rocco

Even a cat, a lamb and a dog can find cross-species trust. Photo: Ellen Rocco

Being invited to the barn-raising was a sign of friendship and trust. Here’s what it boiled down to as I see it: Abe and Lizzie knew that Mike (my “adopted” son) and I, without being told how to do so, would be comfortable ourselves and wouldn’t make uncomfortable the 150-200 Amish men and women there to help. We are not anthropologists. We were there as friends to pitch in and get the job done–me in the kitchen (mostly washing dishes and stirring stuff), and Mike on the building site (where he said he watched a lot and pounded a few nails once he got the drift of what is clearly well-established barn-raising procedure).

In the kitchen, the women spoke German almost exclusively, unless I asked something or someone was chatting directly with me. It didn’t matter. I’ve washed dishes and laid out food for big crowds. In this case, the entire house and main porch were filled with tables and benches to accommodate the midday meal (still called dinner by the Amish and other older rural people). The men washed up outside, were seated and served first, then the tables were cleared and the women ate.

Here’s another difference: the Amish still divide much of the day’s labor by gender, just as rural “English” families did a century ago. Men take on the bulk of the field and building work; women shoulder the house, garden, milking and childcare duties. This is not about sexism. This is about efficiency and lifestyle. Women know how to drive a buggy or a work team in the field, but their work is centered around the home, and taught by mother to daughter. Outside, it’s not unusual to see Abe’s oldest two sons, John and Levi, 16 and 14, go zooming by the window like any teenage boys…it’s just that they zoom by driving a team of work horses pulling a skidder or wagon.

So what’s the takeaway for me in the context of the upcoming visit from Keith Woods? I remember something Keith said to me when we were talking about how to shape the conversations he’d be leading. In spite of his title, VP for Diversity, Keith urged me to think of the challenge as one about difference. He considers this a better way to think about our complex make up as a society, a better way to find common ground and meaningful conversation.

For me, the key difference between talking about difference rather than diversity is that it levels the playing field. There’s some kind of hidden code in the word “diversity”–it’s been used for so many years, in so many ways, largely by those who have played a dominant role in our society (white, male, well-educated, affluent or simply more privileged in any specific setting). For those who have been more privileged and who have had their voices heard,  even when well-meaning and wanting to extend a kind of magnanimous message to those who are “the diverse peoples,” the language shapes our thinking: the dominant group is not part of the meaning of “diverse.” And that perpetuates a kind of imbalance, and wariness between different peoples.

So the barn-raising was a pretty clear place for me to begin my thinking about Keith’s upcoming visit. I was alert to the differences between my world and the Amish world but it wasn’t about them including me or me including them. It was about working across, through and with our differences.

This is not a cutesy or romantic thing to do. It builds community, it makes us all better, in all directions.

Here’s hoping you’ll join the conversations with Keith Woods. There’s the Great Conversation dinner event on Wednesday, at 6 pm at Eben Holden on the SLU campus in Canton. Here’s a link to more info about the evening and how to secure a spot at the table. (By the way, Keith suggested we call this Good Conversation, bring it down a peg. Not a bad idea.)

If you can’t make the evening dinner, plan to tune in f1om 11-noon on Thursday for an on air conversation with Keith, who will be taking your questions via phone and online.

Until then, how about your thinking on this: what are the differences between the people of the north country that strengthen or challenge our region?

 

 

 

September gardens

Still brilliant marigolds. Flowers and photo: Diane Romlein, Potsdam

Still brilliant marigolds in Diane Romlein’s garden. Photo: Daniel Romlein, Potsdam

The full moon last night felt like a corner turned into autumn. Still, some great flowers and vegetables flourishing in gardens across the region. Here’s the latest collection from the first few days of September. Keep these photos coming–there can never be too many photos of garden harvests and even clearing and prep for next year.

Here are four stunning photos sent by Jim and Virginia from The Hedges in Blue Mountain Lake. Beautiful, whimsical and creative flower-gardening.

The Hedges, Blue Mountain Lake. Photo: Jim and Virginia Jennings

The Hedges, Blue Mountain Lake. Photo: Jim and Virginia Jennings

Beautiful, elegant porch garden at The Hedges, Blue Mountain Lake. Photo: Jim and Virginia Jennings

Beautiful, elegant porch garden at The Hedges, Blue Mountain Lake. Photo: Jim and Virginia Jennings

 

Garden at The Hedges, Blue Mountain Lake. Photo: Jim and Virginia Jennings

Garden at The Hedges, Blue Mountain Lake. Photo: Jim and Virginia Jennings

More flowers at The Hedges, Blue Mountain Lake. Photo: Jim and Virginia Jennings

More flowers at The Hedges, Blue Mountain Lake. Photo: Jim and Virginia Jennings

On the other side of the hamlet of Blue Mountain Lake, Betsy Folwell is growing vegetables. Here’s a basket of recently harvested fare:

 

Produce from Betsy Folwell and Tom Warrington's Blue Mountain Lake garden. Photo: Betsy Folwell

Produce from Betsy Folwell and Tom Warrington’s Blue Mountain Lake garden. Photo: Betsy Folwell

Our friend George DeChant captures the end-of-garden feel as the coreopsis go into decline:

The end of coreopsis. Photo: George DeChant

The end of coreopsis. Photo: George DeChant

But Martha Foley reports that the morning glories are in their, well, full glory right now.

 

Morning glories going gangbusters. Photo: Martha Foley

Morning glories going gangbusters. Photo: Martha Foley

Dead and dying flowers, cut back perennials, rows cleared of finished plants–all part of the gardening cycle. Let’s get some more harvest photos from our vegetable gardeners for next week’s post. Send all gardening photos to: ellen@ncpr.org

 

 

 

Gardens in the last days of August

Dramatic planting at the Indian Lake Public Library. Photo: George DeChant

Dramatic planting at the Indian Lake Public Library. Photo: George DeChant

We still have glorious photos of flowers and vegetables planted in pieces of ground scattered across the region, from western Vermont to the Tug Hill, from the southern Adirondacks to Ottawa. Kinda cool. I’d imagine a lot of food is being harvested as we move into September. Send photos of everything you’re getting from the garden–and show me what you’re doing with that harvest: canning? drying? freezing? cooking?

Here’s another photo from our friend George DeChant taken a couple of weeks ago.

Garden along the Saranac River Walk. Photo: George DeChant

Garden along the Saranac River Walk. Photo: George DeChant

Cassandra Corcoran, our gardener friend in Monkton, took these photos during the past week.

Phlox, glorious phlox. Photo: Cassandra Corcoran

Phlox, glorious phlox. Photo: Cassandra Corcoran

For me, digging potatoes is a magical treasure hunt. Here’s some of Cassandra’s find.

Potato patch, about 12 plants. Don't really think adding straw to the mounds did much except save labour. Photo: Cassandra Corcoran

Potato patch, about 12 plants. Don’t really think adding straw to the mounds did much except save labour. Photo: Cassandra Corcoran

The bounty--about 18 pounds. Photo: Cassandra Corcoran

The bounty–about 18 pounds. Photo: Cassandra Corcoran

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wintered over these hyacinths and now they've sprouted! Photo: Cassandra Corcoran

Wintered over these hyacinths and now they’ve sprouted! Photo: Cassandra Corcoran

Lettuce, arugula, kale--a small planting in the old garlic bed. Photo: Cassandra Corcoran

Lettuce, arugula, kale–a small planting in the old garlic bed. Photo: Cassandra Corcor

I’m a big fan of garden experimentation. You don’t have apply new techniques or ideas to the entire garden, but try growing small patches of beans in different ways, or stake some tomatoes in heavy-duty cages and trellis some others. I love the way Rainbow saved labor but simply cultivating small bits of ground, burying them in straw bales, and letting the surrounding ground go wild.

 

My straw bale garden. Photo: Rainbow Crabtree

My straw bale garden. Photo: Rainbow Crabtree

Finally, a couple of photos from a different kind of garden and harvest: haying. These taken late in August, final cut.

 

Your blog host running the baler. Photo: Pierre Nzuah

Your blog host running the baler. Photo: Pierre Nzuah

The crew, minus our Amish friend Abe. Mike, Ellen and Pierre. Photo: selfie

The crew, minus our Amish friend Abe. Mike, Ellen and Pierre. Photo: selfie on timer

Okay, send me those late garden and harvest photos. ellen@ncpr.org

 

 

 

 

 

 

Joining the back to school gang

I'm taking on something new just like Miss Cicely Clark in 1942, of The Women's Timber Corps at work in a timber camp in Suffolk as part of the war effort.  (Photo by Horace Abrahams/Keystone Features/Getty Images)

I’m taking on something new just like Miss Cicely Clark did in 1942, joining The Women’s Timber Corpsas part of the war effort. (Photo by Horace Abrahams/Keystone Features/Getty Images)

One of the perks of working at NCPR is our access to free courses at St. Lawrence University, also available to spouses. My late husband, Bill Knoble, earned a BS in Geology (Summa Cum Laude!) which he started at the age of 60. I’ve audited a couple of classes and taken one for credit.

This week, it’s back to school for area colleges, and after Labor Day, public schools return. I’ve joined the school crew. I signed up for an advanced fiction writing class with Professor Paul Graham. I’m thrilled, and a little scared.

I live with a “foster” son who is in his senior year at SUNY Canton, just two semesters away from a degree in Electrical Engineering. He takes 19-21 credits each semester and pulls down straight As. In my family, top of the class seems to be the norm.

But here’s the thing. At this age (my age, over 60), who cares, really? I no longer worry about what “people think.” My mother-in-law passed away and took to her grave the metaphorical white gloves swiping windowsills; I traded in fashionable for functional clothing years ago; and, I’ll pretty much let you know if I don’t like the music.

The joy of going back to school late in life is that grades and status just don’t matter any more. It’s about curiosity and challenging yourself. I wish I could say the same about my undergraduate years four decades ago (that was more about sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll). Now, I want to stretch. I write a lot of prose for my job, but writing fiction is a whole different world. I’ve dabbled. Now I want to challenge myself to do it for real. Maybe get a few chapters for that novel started.

Wish me luck…the younger students in this class are the cream of the writing crop at SLU. I hope I can keep up.

Oh, and help me out by telling me about your late in life learning experiences–formal classes, seminars, shadowing a artisan you learned a craft from, whatever. Thanks.

 

Old timers know what love is all about

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Old Gay Couple on a Harley. Photo: Thaths, via Creative Commons, some rights reserved.

Not teenagers. In fact, you could argue that Romeo and Juliet were motivated more by lust than love–hard to separate at that age. So, when I came across a Boston Globe story about an 80 and 90 year old who re-found each other after decades, well past the season of lust, it got me to thinking about love.

My mother, who outlived three husbands, and loved each of them dearly, was full of advice about love and relationships. Generally, she seemed to be right. Some of her ideas may seem a bit quaint in this day of online dating and blurred social practices (e.g., always let the man think he’s smarter than you–yikes!), but the Henrietta Rules definitely worked for her–and some of them for me.

Here are the standouts.

1. Take care of each other. In sickness and in health. Good times and bad. Be there for each other.

I think this one moves to the top of the list as we age. I’ve seen friends care for their partners through life-threatening or terminal illnesses and been moved to tears of respect for how much energy, selflessness and love this takes. This is the extreme. But taking care of each other is part of daily life when you’re in a marriage or committed partnership. Helping each other get through each day with a little love.

2. Don’t nitpick. Or, as some would say, don’t sweat the little stuff.

Y’know, everyone snores or makes equally irritating noises. My father, to the day he died, wiped each piece of silverware before using–in our home, as well as at restaurants. My mother shrugged and refused to take it personally. (Dad had spent much of his youth in a Lower East Side tenement–sanitation definitely an issue.) We all have habits or tics that may be at best unattractive and at worst drive others to distraction. I always saw the “don’t nitpick” as a basic requirement for living with anyone–partner or roommate.

3. Enjoy life, with each other.

My mother had true joie de vivre. She loved to eat, she loved to travel, she loved to socialize with friends and family, she read voraciously, listened to music, and enjoyed most of these activities with her husband(s).

4. It’s only money.

We know that sex and money are the two likeliest causes of tension in relationships. Henrietta often said, “it’s only money.” Mind you, she was thrifty and rarely spent money on useless “stuff.” But, once the bills are paid, she’d say, don’t worry about money. You may not have a lot but as long as the basics are covered, use money to make your life and others’ lives better. Don’t be neurotic about money.

5. Laugh, a lot.

No explanation needed, right?

So, there you go young lovers, advice from an old gal who had three successful marriages and a long rich life. Now, tell me what works for you–young or old–to make love stick around.

 

Our gardens runneth over

Gardening is a work of art. Photo and garden: Deena McCullough, Plattsburgh

Gardening is a work of art. Photo and garden: Deena McCullough, Plattsburgh

Each week it gets better and better. Lilies and daisies, beans and peppers. There is so much variety in the gardens of our region. Your growing techniques range from precise, vigorous vegetable gardens to slightly wild and whimsical flower beds, from stretches of be-flowered fencing to lovingly tended blooms around public buildings.

I don’t know if this blog has given me a pipeline to gardening activity that’s always existed in our region or if more people have discovered and re-discovered the joy of growing vegetables, fruit and flowers. Have you noticed an explosion, or even a modest increase, in gardening in your neck of the woods? On my 8-mile long road, it seems that the same four families garden each year. No new gardeners that I’ve observed.

The Pierce family vegetable plot in Lisbon: a bumper crop of carrots, onions and corn. Photo: M.D. Pierce

The Pierce family vegetable plot in Lisbon: a bumper crop of carrots, onions and corn. Photo: M.D. Pierce

Garden Club handiwork at Indian Lake Post Office. Photo: Lois Kelley

Garden Club handiwork at Indian Lake Post Office. Photo: Lois Kelley

I’ve noticed beautiful flower beds around churches–a project of the green-thumbed congregation members. It’s a commitment to maintain one’s own garden plus another space (and one that your friends and fellow congregants are going to notice on a weekly basis).

Lois Kelley sent in this photo of the Garden Club’s effort at the Indian Lake Post Office. She says that the garden changes a bit from year to year, featuring different color arrangements, but is always spectacular. Indeed.

 

 

 

Canadians grow gardens, too! Here’s a collage of a gardener and her handiwork in Ontario.

Marian Hofmann in the gardens she maintains around her home. Photo: Hank Hofmann, near Ottawa

Marian Hofmann in the gardens she maintains around her home. Photo: Hank Hofmann, near Ottawa

Okay, I’m a sucker for a photo of good, bad, ugly, beautiful creatures in the garden. Here’s one from Waddington.

Did this toad eat THAT MUCH PUMPKIN? Photo: Christy Snider, Waddington

Did this toad eat THAT MUCH PUMPKIN? Photo: Christy Snider, Waddington

Our friend Cassandra Corcoran in Monkton is harvesting the wild and cultivated.

 

Mint, dried chamomile and cleaned garlic. Photo: Cassandra Corcoran, Monkton VT

Mint, dried chamomile and cleaned garlic. Photo: Cassandra Corcoran, Monkton VT

Beans, hot peppers, leeks, cilantro. Photo: Cassandra Corcoran, Monkton VT

Beans, hot peppers, leeks, cilantro. Photo: Cassandra Corcoran, Monkton VT

Sumac drupes ready to be dried into sumac powder or used for tea. Photo: Cassandra Corcoran, Monkton VT

Sumac drupes ready to be dried into sumac powder or used for tea. Photo: Cassandra Corcoran, Monkton VT

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s an idyllic Adirondack garden.

Sweetwood Farm, Vermontville NY. Photo: Lisa Caggiula

Sweetwood Farm, Vermontville NY. Photo: Lisa Caggiula

And more beauty from another part of the Adirondacks…

The vegetable garden. Photo: Judith Ross, Wadhams

The vegetable garden. Photo: Judith Ross, Wadhams

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Endless day lilies along the fence. Photo: Judith Ross, Wadhams

Finally, this one from the keen eye of George DeChant.

Reflecting pond at Will Rogers in Saranac Lake. Photo: George DeChant

Reflecting pond at Will Rogers in Saranac Lake. Photo: George DeChant

So, it’s only mid-August. Keep those photos coming. You can expand out from the garden to the kitchen if you’re preserving flowers or food you’ve grown. Send your photos to me at ellen@ncpr.org

I’m working on keeping up with green beans. I freeze some but my preferred method of putting up beans is canned as dilly beans. Or, I let the beans at the top of the pole bean support go past fresh eating and then I harvest as dry beans at the end of the season. It’s an easy way to dry beans–no worry about ground moisture or critters getting at them as they dry. Eat your heart out, Jack, my bean cage is about 15 feet high and the finial tendrils reach well beyond the top.