R and S, Scourge of the Raspberries

Because the raspberry bushes that we planted when we first moved here did so well, we have “volunteers” every Spring. More volunteers than we know what to do with. At first I added to our long row of bushes so that we have about…70 feet of raspberry bushes. Then between taking two sons to high level soccer practice and games over 40 miles away, teaching several classes each Spring, and taking care of the large vegetable and flower gardens, the raspberry row fell into disrepair. 

I definately discovered one of the culprits two days ago while “weeding” with a shovel. I was digging out young trees, wild black cap runners, thorn bushes, and a monster weed that actually looked like a criminal. It had grown into huge clumps of tentacle like tubers that formed a hard mass in the ground. I believe that they produce some sort of daisy wildflower up above ground. These masses of tubers were strangling the straggling row of raspberries…. So out they all came. While I use every last ounce of strength and heavy iron hand tools to weed, I imagine other people kneeling politely next to their manicured plots…lifting weeds out with delicate little trowels. The up side to my laissez faire gardening is the “volunteering” of not only weeds, but wild edible plants such as onion and garlic and also cultivated plants like parsnips, kale, and cilantro that all appear each year now where I planted them previously.

I believe this is garlic growing wild from preovvious years of planting it here

Q is for quit, quick, and quiet…

I was going to quit this alphabet posting as it is a bit demanding and I wonder about it’s value to myself and the world, but a quick (another “q”) look back encourages me to continue down the home stretch. Q is for quit, quick, and quiet; the rythmic quiet of rests in music…they pulse and throb.

P is for playing


You can play the violin, or you can just play. You can play one person against another. You can play chess. It is instructive to think about how all the work and practice of playing a musical instrument can lead to an ease and abandon that is like that of children playing tag. And on the other hand, the ease and abandon that children experience while playing tag must be weighed against the tension and challenge that they experience at the same time.

K is for Keeping…

the music going. We are very fortunate to be members of a homeschool orchestra. Kids and a few parents of all different playing abilities meet at a firehouse to practice under the competent direction of student conductors from Bard College. The orchestra plays music arranged by some of the students, and pieces written by a graduate of the orchestra who is now composing. 

I is for ignoble…



I slip on my marblized Dansko clogs each morning to trundle out about 50 feet behind my house to feed the chickens. I carefully make my way through the gate into the electrified enclosure, and then even more carefully, pick my way through the curious excited group of birds. I have learned the hard way that it is crucial to avoid any serious misstep as it can result in slow horrible death for the affected bird. After dispensing the food and water just outside the hoop house door, I make my way tentatively inside. I always enter with the greeting, “Is everyone still alive?” This is because our chicken egg farming enterprise doubles as a chicken retirement home. About half of the chickens are on their last legs so to speak. So this morning, the words froze in my mouth, as my eyes fell on the golden feathered corpse of a dead lady resting on the straw covered floor under the roost.

Earlier that morning, I had discovered the gruesome corpse pictured above on our patio, and just to prove that these things happen in threes, there was another only slightly mangled corpse off to the north of the house outside my studio barn. I am afraid the chickens are not bright enough to take these deaths as a clear warning to stay in their electrified enclosure. Alas. But if the death is sudden enough, it may be more merciful than the slower decline they face in the straw.