Brown Thumb or Green Thumb?

The Christmas cactus in my kitchen window has a beautiful deep pink bloom. It gives me great satisfaction to gaze at it as I wash dishes because this is the same plant that almost died last month due to neglect. A number of my plants lead tenuous existences because even though I love having plants and flowers, I don’t always remember to water them.

My husband Peter says I have a brown thumb. I don’t like hearing him say that since I’ve always thought of myself as a nurturing sort of person, but nurturing takes time and there are so many hours in the day—the family, work, community responsibilities come first and well, for me the plants are further down the list.

Saturdays I actually have some time to look at the plants in the house, to check on them and give them a drink. Right now they are all surviving. When it starts getting warmer and they need more attention, they might not be so lucky.

The one star survivor is my giant cactus, also in the kitchen window, inherited from my first husband Cyril who died in 1989. Unlike me, Cyril had a marvelous green thumb, an intuitive knack for knowing what plants need, even when juggling multiple work responsibilities. The cactus was an old plant when we began dating in 1977 so I’m estimating it must be over 50 years old—not bad for a plant.

In my front window near my home computer, a cyclamen is sporting four blooms. A small stem is perking up out of the soil with a bud, what I hope will become another colorful dark pink bloom. That is if I take care of it. So now it’s time to break away from playing with words and sentences so I can pay some attention to this other plant, I’d forgotten about, and give it some water. Today the plants are looking good.

The Artic Blast Hits Annapolis

The wind blows bitter cold as we walk downtown, so cold it is almost painful. It’s one of those winter days when I actually want to run just to keep warm rather than just for the exercise.
Down a few doors from the Maryland State Teacher’s Association on Main Street, a new store called Shades of the Bay (must be planning to sell sun glasses) is taking shape. Maybe they’ll be ready to open by spring.
On the return up the street we take the West Street route all the way home towards Westgate Circle and I see that next to the Jerry’s Seafood sign that announces it will be taking over the elegant location once inhabited by Metropolitan restaurant, and I notice another sign on the purple building housing the gift shop “Object,” stating that building is for sale. The familiar landscape keeps changing as businesses come and go. Such is progress.

Saturday is the Day to Sleep Late

You know you’ve slept in when you walk downtown in the morning and some of the shops are starting to open!
What a luxury, for someone who is accustomed to leaving the house at 6:30 a.m. every morning with coffee money in one pocket and dog treats and plastic “pick-up” bags in the other, to stay in bed until 8:45. For a past published article on walking go

Bermuda and Vacations on the Mind

This morning, when I arrived at City Dock 7:00 a.m. sharp, owner Steve Duffy already had my coffee ready when I strolled through the door. He’d spied me tying Grace up to one of the iron chairs outside.
Today my only walking companion was Grace. Peter was already on his way to an early morning meeting.
Walking back up Main Street I tried to count the proportion of shops that are now empty, waiting for new occupants when the weather gets warm. This seems to be the cycle I’ve observed over the years. There is always a certain amount of attrition after the winter holidays, economic downturn or not. Tiffany’s Epiphany is now empty. Did the larger store beside them, Paradigm, that recently opened chase them away? I can only speculate the variety of reasons why a store may choose to close it doors.
At the top of the hill Barbara Cooper (wife of Orlando Rideout) and a friend are on their way down the stairs to grab a coffee in Starbucks, in the basement of Maryland Inn. I see Barbara walking almost every morning, going down Main Street as we are walking up. She has a nice smile.
“I’m enjoying that article about you and your husband in the magazine,” she calls out.
Article about me and my husband? I’m puzzled.
“The beautiful island. Your vacation.”
“Oh Bermuda!” I now realize she’s talking about the travel article I wrote on Bermuda in the February magazine. Once again the idea that people love looking at scenic pictures and reading about places they think they might want to visit is reinforced. Last year’s travel story on Costa Rica (February 07) elicited more personal feedback from acquaintances and friends then anything else I published last year. We all like to dream of where we’d rather be. Wouldn’t it be great to be in Costa Rica right now? I look at the window and see it’s started to rain, a cold damp rain.

Maryland Politics Set Aside

Today is the final day for proofing What’s Up? Eastern Shore before it goes to press. By late tonight they’ll start printing out the pages. Each time a magazine is produced, it’s like birthing a child. On days like this I eat my breakfast at the office.
Although I am focused at the tasks at hand, I can’t help but reflect that today many voters around the nation will be casting the ballots in the Super Tuesday Primary Election. History is being made as the playing field of candidates continues to narrow. Next week is the Maryland Primary. Will the races still be close?

Did Jane Austen Listen to Bird Songs Too?

Not many people at the coffee shop this morning. “They must be recovering from last night’s game,” theorized my neighbor John Hartnet. It was Super bowl Sunday last night but as the evening rolled on I was glued to my TV set watching Masterpiece Theater. This week’s episode was a screenplay about Jane Austen’s life, based largely on speculation. Was she disappointed she never married? Was she ever in love? Did she despise being poor? Unfortunately her sister Cassandra burned the majority of her personal letters and papers, so we can only guess.
I heard the birds singing loudly as we walked back towards the house. It’s funny how some mornings my ears zero in on their calls and songs back and forth to one another. That’s something I like about spring morning, lying in bed with the windows open and listening to the singing birds. But it’s not spring yet, still winter with maybe a blanket of snow still in our future. We’ll see what arrives. That’s what fun about life, the surprises.

I love My Dog

Climbing out of bed in the dark, particularly on a Monday morning, is not easy. I consider myself a morning person, I love to be out walking when the sun rises, but in the middle of winter my schedule requires that I’m up and out before sun-up. It’s cold and dark. My scarf is wrapped tightly around the collar of my jacket to keep the cold from creeping down inside my neck. But our dog Grace is exuberant to be out and walking towards downtown. She’s part of the reason we are up and on the move first thing in the morning. What did we do without a dog?
Well there are the children, but two are already out of the house. Alex is standing out waiting for the school bus that takes her to the high school at 6:34. She waits until the very last minute to walk out the door and checks the time on her cell phone. “It’s satellite time,” she informs me, “So it’s the most accurate.” Evidently she is wise to the fact that I try to set all the clocks in the house a little ahead, because most members of our family have a tendency to run late.
Grace stays asleep in her spot on one of the unoccupied beds or under the dining room table until she is certain my husband Peter and I are ready to be on our way. She dances anxiously about as only a golden retriever can, wanting to be petted and wanting us to open the door so she can go outside.
The sky is still dark and the moon has been cut in half. I start walking ahead because I’m so cold I have to keep moving at a brisk pace. Everyone has put out their garbage and recycling for collection. Up ahead sitting on the curb is a large and grand poinsettia plant. Evidently purchased for the holidays, the owners have grown tired of it and have put it outside with the garbage, What a waste. I’m tempted to take it home, but I’m already halfway downtown and I really don’t have space for another large plant, plus I’m not that diligent in caring for the plants that I have. Many of my poinsettias have died from temporary neglect. But I certainly wouldn’t put a healthy looking one out in the cold. Ah well….
Looking down Main Street towards the water, I can see a little smudging of purple and pink in the sky, but it’s still mostly dark gray. Three tall cranes, part of the work project down at City Dock, are silhouetted in the sky.
On the return home, Peter, Grace and I walk together and we talk about our plans for the day and the week. The sky is still gray, and there aren’t many people walking the streets this morning. The hot coffee tastes great going down my throat. Something about the contrast between the cold and the hot is so comforting.
It’s the start of the week.