Summer Begins -- 06/21/05

Nancy and I joined Janet and Tom and their offspring (one high school student, one college student, and Mike) at the Narragansett Town Beach to watch the Friday night preview of the weekend's Quonset Point Air Show featuring some aerial acrobatics. The show began with a parachute jump to the beach -- which was happening as Nancy and I were parking and walking to the beach (so we didn't see it) -- but the wind was quite strong and blew some of the jumpers into the water, much to the surprise of some surfers. We all had brought beach chairs and had a pleasant time hanging out on the beach watching the stunt pilots, each of whom did a ten or fifteen minute show of loops and dives and such. There were hundreds of people on the beach (actually, I'd guess well over a thousand) and hundreds more watching the show from the beach parking lots and along the seawall and from the outdoor dining decks at some area restaurants. Much of the beach crowd was there for the air show, but there were children splashing in the waves or building sand castles who only looked up at the planes every now and then, as well as a number of surfers who seemed oblivious to anything happening in the air (just as long as no more parachute jumpers splashed down where they were trying to surf). I wish I had brought a camera -- pictures of the stunt flying would not have come out very well without a telephoto lens, but there would have been some nice shots of the surfers and the crowds at the beach with the Narragansett Towers in the background.

We stopped and rented a DVD movie on the way home (Shall We Dance) and when I returned that movie on Saturday I decided that it would be pleasant to have another relaxed evening of movie watching so I rented I, Robot. Quiet weekend. On Saturday I mostly goofed off, spent at least three hours just sitting and reading a novel, although I also got in a five and a half mile run on the bike path. On Sunday I bought a few more plants and spent much of the afternoon gardening, although I also got in a long ride on the exercise bike in the basement (64 minutes -- 18 miles) and also worked out with weights, etc. My fitness plan does seem to be getting back on track, although that ten mile run is coming up far too quickly (at the end of July).

My garden... I've mulched with straw this year. Although this is the first time I've done this recently, I've done this in the past and have been pleased with the results. It helps to control weeds, to maintain moisture in the soil, and to keep the ground from baking in mid-summer's heat. It also can decay into compost to improve the garden soil in future years.
I got the idea a number of years ago from a couple of books by Ruth Stout -- How to Have a Green Thumb Without an Aching Back and How to Have a Green Thumb Without an Aching Back: A New Method of Mulch Gardening. (Sister to Rex Stout, the creator of Nero Wolfe, Ruth Stout was an active gardener and author well into her nineties.) I hasten to add that I do not pile the straw as deep as she advocates and we use a compost bin.

My lettuce seems to be happy growing in the straw. The picture on the left shows one of Jill's eggplants. There is a pale lavender color blossom just above the large leaf on the left (for a sense of scale, the plant is not quite a foot and a half tall).
Why do you think they call them "strawberries" anyway? Those are some of our strawberry plants showing some almost ready to eat strawberries. The trouble is, I do not have netting over the strawberry patch, so we actually get to eat very few homegrown strawberries. (Birds and other critters get to them before we are up.) And on the right is a close-up picture of some blueberries. Okay, so they are still green but, nevertheless, they are blueberries.
And, just for a change of pace, after looking at our vegetable garden and our berries, here's a picture of some of Nancy's roses. (No, I don't know what kind they are -- Nancy has several different kinds of roses and she knows all about each one but in my ignorance I just call them red roses (she also has pink and yellow, etc.). She and the other 8th grade math teacher in her school had a pre-final-exam review session for their algebra students last night -- pizza, softdrinks, and algebra -- and Nancy cut some roses to be a centerpiece on the table with the pizza.

Welcome to summer!

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