Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Peony Festival II

While at Cricket Hill Gardens, I spoke with the owner about my tree peony. I explained that the peony had been recently  moved and I was not sure what to do.

The woman was very nice and explained that moving a tree peony once it has developed leaves is dangerous and can kill the plant. She suggested leaving the peony where it was until late Sept. To try and help strengthen the peony, she gave me a sample of special fertilizer to apply immediately and again in Sept.

The woman explained that the peony would probably not flower next year, since it was stressed. I explained that I just wanted it to survive. She suggested to baby the tree this summer with monthly applications of fish emulsion fertilizer. Having already invested 4 years into this one foot tree, I am willing to give some extra effort to keep it alive.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Peony Festival

While searching for information about tree peonies, I found the Cricket Hill Garden website. This nursery, in Thomaston, CT specializes in Chinese tree peonies. The Cricket Hill website said that there was a peony festival held in May thru mid-June and that everyone was welcome to tour their gardens.

Thomaston is about 1 hour from Wilton, but worth the trip. The gardens were fantastic. There were hundreds of tree peonies and herbaceous peonies in bloom. Umbrellas are placed over the plants to protect the blooms from the sun and provide a longer bloom time.

There are whimsical glass sculptures scattered throughout the gardens. If you are in the Thomaston area, I would definitely recommend stopping to view these beautiful flowers.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Lucky Day

Going to Stew Leonard's on a holiday weekend is pure insanity. On a normal weekend, Stew's is crowded, but even the overflow lot is packed on holidays.

I would have avoided this store, but the $5.99/lb lobster sale lured me in. I knew luck was on my side when there was no one ahead of me at the seafood counter. I placed my order and was handed a  big 1.5 lb lobster.

On the way out of the store, we decided to stop for ice cream. As we were waiting on line, a man carrying a cone stopped and asked if we had coupons for free ice cream ? I said no. He said you do now and handed me his grocery receipt! It turns out that of you spend  $100 at Stew's you are entitled to a free ice cream. This  man had bought $300 worth of coffee and earned 3 free ice cream cones. I was so startled by the suddenness of the encounter, I forgot to say thanks. Jeff was quicker thinking and said thank you very much.

As I sat outside eating my blueberry frozen yogurt, I thought what a nice man. I hope he realizes his kind gesture was appreciated.

Saturday, May 28, 2011


I was working in the office. Cooper and Otis were sleeping in the bedroom. Suddenly, I heard a long high pitched howl. It sounded like one of the dogs was in significant pain.

I raced into the bedroom and saw Coop stretched out on the bed with his head raised, howling. I petted Coop and the noise stopped.

Coop was perfectly fine. I don't know why Coop began to howl. I was just glad it did not happen while I was on a conference call.

Otis was completely unphased and never even stirred.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Peony Tree

The peony tree that I purchased several years ago has had a tough time. Last year we moved the peony to an extremely sunny spot and it flowered for the first time. I was hopeful that this year the plant would really begin to flourish.

Unfortunately, the peony was moved during the walkway construction and once again placed in a shady spot. I know that transplanting the peony in the spring was not good for the plant's health. I do not want to move the peony again until the fall.

I am concerned that this plant may not survive in its current location. My only hope is that the despite being uprooted, the peony has managed to flower. The constant rain had bruised the petals, but it is still attractive.


It was getting late in the evening and the fox had tucked the kits into bed (under the shed) for the night. As the fox was crossing the yard, Cooper spotted him. Cooper began to bark and would not stop.

The fox stopped and looked at the house. It was obvious the fox knew the dog was inside, but he was torn about leaving the defenseless kits. The fox turned around and took a step towards the shed.

I told Cooper he was not being very hospitable and got him to be quiet. The fox waited a moment and hearing silence, jumped onto the stone wall and headed into the woods. I assume the fox was going to hunt for a meal.  I am sure it is a full time job trying to feed 3 kits.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Red Barn

We ate Sunday brunch at the Red Barn in Westport. Driving by on weekends, I always notice how crowded  the parking lot is at this restaurant. I thought it must be good if it is so popular.  We were lucky that our Westport family could join us.

The Red Barn was packed with people, including a baby and bridal shower. The food was good and plentiful. There was a carving station with beef, ham, pork and salmon. The menu included scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, home fries, salads, fruit, pasta, shrimp, bagels, pastries and cakes.

With a large number of  people in such a small space, the noise level is high. Being seated next to the piano made conversation difficult.  If you are looking for a relaxing way to spend a Sunday afternoon, I would recommend eating at the Red Barn. Reservations are required, so call in advance.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Jewelry Designs

With birthday season approaching, we headed to Jewelry Designs in  Danbury, CT. I had read that this jewelry store matched new gemstones to those you already have. I thought this would be a great chance to finally get a pair of opal earrings made to match my pendant.

At Jewelry Designs, the sales clerk asked what we were interested in. Before I could  take my necklace off, she said we will not have anything that matches what you are wearing. As I looked at the opals on display, I saw several that were milky white or soft green, not the deep dark color of mine. The clerk talked to the owner who said they do most of their opal buying in Oct. The clerk took a picture of my opal and said they would keep an eye out for a possible match when they next purchased opals.

I told Jeff we might need to travel back to Australia to buy matching earrings.....Oh, and while we're there, why not stop in New Zealand  ?? Jeff's response was it would be easier to search the internet for a jeweler specializing in opals.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Before & After

 This was the original walkway.

This is the new walkway.

Having spent our entire budget on hardscaping means the landscaping will wait until next year.

I really like the new walkway. Harry at Young's created a great design and his crew brought it to life beautifully. I think that our curb appeal has definitely increased.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Let There Be Light

The column and stair lights have been installed.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Vet Checkup

Otis had his annual exam with Dr Duffy. Otis lost 3 pounds and now weighs 80 pounds. Dr Duffy said Otis had wonderful muscle tone. I half-jokingly said this was from Oti always pulling me down the road on our walks. Dr Duffy said Otis was in great health!

A little girl was in the waiting room. She came over and petted Otis for quite a while.  Otis must have had interactions with young kids in his earlier life. She petted Otis on the head,  back, legs, belly and feet and he was completely at ease.

Friday, May 20, 2011

2 More Visitors

I was feeding Cooper dinner. He kept wandering to the back door, staring at the shed. I looked out, but did not see anything.

A little while later I looked out and saw the fox and 3 kits ! I am wondering just how large the den under our shed is. I know the woodchuck had dug a tunnel under there. It must be fairly large to fit a family of 4.

Were all 3 kits together the other day? Perhaps 2 were hiding under the shed and I did not see them.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

500 Pounds

Jeff wanted to have a solid piece of bluestone at the entrance to the front door. Our landscaper, Harry, called the Pennsylvania quarry to check if they had such  a large piece. The quarry said that they could cut a piece of stone to match the required dimensions. It would weigh about 500 pounds.

When I heard that a crane would be needed to lift the stone, I checked that Young's had insurance. In my mind, I pictured this stone crashing thru the front door. Luckily, the stone was delivered and installed with no problems.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Surprise Visitors

I was in the kitchen getting ready to feed the dogs. Coop ran to the glass door and began to bark. I thought a deer was walking across the yard, but Coop did not stop barking. I looked out and saw the fox and a kit standing next to the shed.

The fox was grooming the kit. The kit was about the size of a large cat and incredibly cute. After a few minutes the fox ran off. The kit hid under the shed.

The fox returned a short while later. The kit immediately came out to greet the fox. They wandered off together.

I hope I get to see these two beautiful animals again. I could not get a photo of the kit, but the fox is at the right edge of the shed in this photo.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Memory Lane II

Jake will always be my pure of heart dog. The white spot on his chest reflected the sweetness in his soul.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Stamp Out Hunger

Three cheers for the USPS and the Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive!

A postcard in the mail on Friday, reminded me to leave groceries by the mailbox on Saturday.  I went to the grocery store early on Saturday morning. When I got home, Jeff commented that I was gone longer than usual. I replied," I needed to do some extra shopping. In the back of the car, there is a big box that is too heavy for me to carry. Can you put it by the mailbox?"

Last year 77 million pounds of food was collected nationwide. I read a statistic that 1 in 8 Americans rely on food assistance and 55 million Americans struggle with hunger. This is both sad and shocking. I cannot image so many hungry people in our prosperous country.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

No Good Pictures

The other day Jeff said, "We have no good dog pictures". This is not due to a lack of trying.

I wanted to take a picture of Cooper and Otis sitting under a tree. It sounds simple enough. I grabbed the camera as we headed out for our morning walk.

I got both dogs to sit and stepped back to take a photo. A bird flew out of the tree and Cooper leaped up .

I got the dogs to sit a second time and a squirrel ran out of the woods. Chaos ensued.

When the geese flew overhead, honking on the way to our neighbor's pond, the dog's focus shifted skyward.

Out of the 10 photos I took, only one has both dogs facing in the same direction.  Thank goodness for digital cameras. I would spend  a fortune on film.

Saturday, May 14, 2011


The lower landing and pathway are now complete.

A light will be installed on top of the stone column.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Memory Lane

Whenever I see a picture of our Sheltie, Brandy, I think what a gorgeous dog!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


The lower bluestone landing is almost completed and the upper stair treads are in place. The landing is not big enough for a cafe table, but there is a sense of openness/space that our old stoop lacked.

We tried out the sitting wall and decided it was pretty neat.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


We had beautiful weather this weekend, sunny but not too hot. Cooper and Otis spent hours on the deck.

Even after spending all morning outside, Cooper did not want to come back in.   I thought the hard deck would bother Coop's hips, but he did not seem to mind.

Monday, May 09, 2011

Getting Closer

If the weather is nice next week, the walkway should finally be completed.

The 3 sets of stairs have been constructed and the bluestone treads are sitting in the driveway. Some grading needs to be done and then the bluestone  pathway will be installed.

Our latest project has attracted some neighborhood interest. Not that this is surprising - between the chiseling and cutting of the stone with a saw, there is quite a racket coming from our home.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Happy Mother's Day !

Cooper and Otis send  kisses to their Maine Moms; Linda P, Linda F, and Bobbi !

We send good wishes to all the Moms who are reading this blog.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Missing Peonies

I love peonies. Last year I was lucky enough to get some of these plants to bloom and enjoyed having the flowers brighten the house.

Unfortunately, most of the peonies were in the path of our new walkway and were destroyed. I will miss having these beautiful flowers in our home this spring. I have never seen cut peonies sold at a store.

One of our neighbors has gorgeous peonies. I am sure every morning when we walk by, I will be wishing I had my scissors with me.

Friday, May 06, 2011

Up Close

When we were interviewing landscape companies, we were warned that our walkway would contain A LOT of stone. We were told that it might take a while to get used to the new look and that we should live with the walkway for several months before landscaping.

I think that the stone wall is beautiful. Up close,  I can see the intricate details. I am still amazed how the mason made all the pieces fit together.  We may eventually add some slight landscaping, but I do not want to hide this creation.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Movin' On Up

Congratulations to Jeff on moving up to a Class B ranking in the NSCA (National Sporting Clays Association).

Wednesday, May 04, 2011


The first set of stairs have been installed in our new walkway. If you look closely at the top step you will see the light is embedded in the stone.

The Belgian block is now in place. The Belgian block is to protect the stone, in case someone gets too close to the edge of the driveway.

And this is what the complete project looks like.  The vertical stone work is complete, so it should not take long to install the blue stone pathway.

Monday, May 02, 2011


There was an article in our local paper that said a coyote has been spotted snarling at a medium sized dog. I know that coyotes often attack small dogs and cats, but thought they would stay away from  from larger animals. The article advised that if you see a coyote to keep your dog calm.

I could not help but laugh at that comment. We often see coyotes on our walks and Cooper and Otis bark long and loud. If a squirrel running by drives them into a frenzy, you can imagine the response a coyote evokes.

I have never been threatened by a coyote. Perhaps a single coyote is hesitant to approach two dogs. Tiny Coop might look like a tasty snack, but Oti's large frame and 80 lbs of muscle may make the coyote think twice.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Bad Dreams

Cooper was stretched out on the bed sleeping. Otis was sleeping on the bedroom floor. Cooper began to cry, sharp painful yelps.  These were not whimpers of excitement that Coop sometimes makes when dreaming.

Otis heard the noise, sprang up and raced over to the bed. Otis then gave Coop a nudge with his nose and the crying stopped. Otis waited a few seconds to make  sure Coop was ok and then laid back down to sleep.

Coop may be the Alpha, but Otis is very protective of his smaller brother.