Friday, May 31, 2013


So many of the good, old yards have at least one large stand of lilacs.

Even when they are not in bloom, the shape and texture of the bark of lilacs evokes familiarity and calm, especially next to lichen covered stones. This seems the case with so many heirloom trees, shrubs, and flowers.

But the blooms themselves, around for just weeks a year, add so much. The shots of color mark the imminent transition to summer. And the fragrance shifts from subtle to strong with the faintest wind.

Planting one’s own requires even more patience. Some wait up to six years for their first blooms. They like sunny, well-drained soil. And they bloom more if you leave them alone.

The lilac is the official state flower of New Hampshire (hardy like its residents they say) and was first imported from England and planted in Portsmouth in 1750.

Most are a light purple but can also include white, pink, and a darker purple. 

Un-pruned, lilacs can grow to twenty feet.

Apple blossoms are sprinkled everywhere this time of year.

Lilacs are ubiquitous - from harbors.... historic sites.... town....

...and on the farms.
And in a wonderful horticultural zero-sum transition, as lilacs leave, we get lupine season.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Memorial Day Weekend

The holiday weekend started off with strong winds, cool temperatures, driving rain, and the inevitable power outages.   Here are some pictures.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Quote from Mad Magazine: When you’re poor... When you’re rich...

When you’re poor When you’re rich
You’re a glutton
You throw your money away on booze
You barf
You breed kids like rabbits
You gossip
You’re the town weirdo
You own a mutt.
You’re a gourmet
You have a well stocked bar
You have a sudden attack of nausea
You’re blessed with a large family
You bring each other up to date
You’re the local eccentric
You possess a mixed-breed.

This was a favorite bit from Mad Magazine over three decades ago.  (These days, however, you don't possess a mixed-breed but instead have rescued it.)

But an appreciated attribute of many old coastal New Englanders is never quite knowing if they are living a life of genteel poverty or are simply very low key with their wealth.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Genealogy: An Enduring New England Pastime

“This obsession with family and genealogy became an enduring part of New England’s culture.”   

David Hackett Fischer, Albion's Seed: Four British Folkways in America

“The builders of the Bay colony thought of themselves as a twice-chosen people:  once by God, and again by the General Court of Massachusetts.  Other English plantations eagerly welcomed any two-legged animal who could be dragged on board an emigrant ship.  But Massachusetts chose its colonists with care.  Not everyone was allowed to settle there.”  

David Hackett Fischer, Albion's Seed: Four British Folkways in America

Founders Memorial, Boston Common - William Blackstone Greeting (9th Great Grandfather) Governor John Winthrop and Company.  (Puritans, not Pilgrims.)

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Hipster irony and the FBI Training Academy in Quantico

Photo From Yesterday
A slight airport delay provided the opportunity to catch up on some podcasts.  This quote summed up some previous conversations as well as provided a stark contrast to the day's events:

Hipster irony doesn't allow you to be serious about anything.  ...Hipster irony is an inability to take anything seriously, or to be sincere about your relationship to anything....  Hipster irony expects you to say [of authenticity], 'this is silly.'”  

- Bryan Lowder, Slate Magazine, in The Culture Gabfest Podcast: A Rhythm of Liquids

Delivering the keynote (and book-signing, and poster-signing) yesterday at the Cyber Conference at the FBI Training Academy in Quantico.  The audience, including many 20-somethings, thankfully take their jobs very seriously. 

There are worse airports at which to whittle away an extra hour.

Brooks Brothers and others have been experimenting with embracing hipster.  The results, predictably, are below.

A perfect combination may be taking one's jobs and responsibilities seriously without taking oneself seriously.  Some earned whimsy at the end of a long day is appreciated.  This flask, a gift by the conference organizers, epitomizes that.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Weekapaug, Westerly, Rhode Island and The Weekapaug Inn

A  Few of the Summer Cottages of Weekapaug
The Weekapaug Inn in Westerly, Rhode Island, about two hours south of Boston, is newly re-opened.  This is ten minutes from Ocean House.  Weekepaug is an old, low-key summer colony of wood shingled cottages, started in the late 1800s.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Early May Produce

Produce from the farmers' market on Portmeirion Botanic Garden Dishes
Here is some of the local produce available (in some cases via cold frames or greenhouses) in early May, and some ways to prepare it (simply):
  • Carrots: grated in salads; steamed as side dish; chopped in stews
  • Broccoli:  steamed as side dish; sauteed in broccoli/pasta dish
  • Rhubarb:  stewed and served over ice cream
  • Beets:  steamed whole with skins on (to preserves nutrients) then peeled, sliced, and lightly buttered
  • Strawberries:  eaten raw (and, in this case, mostly eaten before we took this photograph!)
  • Cucumbers:  raw and sliced in salads or just used for grazing
  • Asparagus:  steamed and lightly buttered as side dish
  • Lettuce:   raw in salads
  • Spinach (not shown): steamed and lightly buttered as side dish

    Saturday, May 4, 2013

    Summer Comes Closer

    Jamestown and the Newport Bridge
    Summer is getting closer.  This weekend, for example, was the first farmers market of the season; thankfully each year they start earlier.

    As a quick aside, it is hard not to appreciate the the emergence and even explosion of farmers markets and CSAs over the last five or six years.  We live in such a great time for produce, with direct access to food.

    Some farmers just sell plugs from their greenhouse or cold-frames this time of year.


    Organic Meat
    The boatyards were not yet in open-for-business mode.

    The launch service had not yet begun, but a ride could be had if you didn't mind squeezing in.

    Harbour Court was closed, but some local racers were getting in some early competition. The awnings were up, however.