Tag Archives: gardens

A weekend visit to Connecticut


15 & 16 November, 2014


I love visiting my Aunt.

I don’t get the chance to swing by her house nearly often enough, but every time I do, it’s an amazing combination of relaxing, energetic, and calming.  She’s a gardener by trade, so everything seems to grow a little bit better around her.

The drive from Boston to Connecticut is a pretty clean one – most of it is on the highway no matter what you do, but near the end there’s a bit of a side path that one can take, dodging the highway in favor of more country roads.

My Aunt’s house is nestled in the Connecticut backwoods… not that far from civilization, but it somehow perfectly harkens back to a time when the town general store was actually a general store, and that was the only place that people would congregate… partially because it had a little bit of everything, and partially because it’s the only store for a dozen miles.

I don’t personally remember that time, of course… but somehow her town makes me think that I remember it.

Combine that feeling with a perfectly rustic house, and you’ve got an idea of how it feels to park the car and walk into the front door.



Saturday, 15-Nov 2014

I drove up on a Saturday.  Earlier that day I’d done my usual “relaxing Saturday” routine, starting out with breakfast and working my way through some time at the climbing gym and a few random errands.  I even found some early presents for people; not that I was specifically looking, but around this time of year things start to just pop out at me.

Once I hit the road, the drive went quickly – I rocked out to music, but it couldn’t distract me from the fact that I’d left the top on the car up. It’s sad to have a convertible non-converted, but I have a new rule for this year: no top down when it’s below 45 Deg.F out. Last year I put it down as low as 20, but that started to crack the canvas… and I really don’t want to replace that soft-top anytime soon. I looked into it… not particularly cheap.

After meeting my Aunt for dinner at our usual pizza haunt, her and I spent the night chatting and catching up. I’ve been at my job for nearly two years now, so I’d accumulated more than a few stories for her. And her newest book had just went out to the final editors, so I got to hear a few stories about that whole process… a stressful one, from the sounds of it. Before we knew it, midnight had rolled around and it was finally time to crash.

My Aunt’s facebook page


Sunday, 16-Nov 2014


My Aunt wakes up early… I have no idea how she does it, but somehow 4-6 hours of sleep are more than enough for her to be more productive that I could ever hope to be. So I wasn’t particularly surprised when I woke up at my usual “sleep in” time of 8:30 to hear her finishing up her morning chores.

See, when you’re a gardener like her, there’s always a ton of little things to do… by the time time I was dressed and downstairs, she had watered the whole greenhouse, and probably done a dozen other little things too.

But we sat down for an excellent breakfast of yogurt and granola, and then made our way out back to feed the goats and let them out into their yard to play. They’ve got a whole slew of cool things to run and jump on, so the four of us played around in the yard for a while before tucking into the days work.

As I mentioned, gardeners always have a ton of things to get done: Today, our goals were to clean up some of the leaves, uncover the front garden beds, and put together a few potted plants for me to take home to my office. (Ed note: Ben’s moved to a new office that doesn’t have windows. He thinks that having a few plants around will help him actually focus and not go crazy over the winter. We’ll let you know how that goes.)

The raking went quickly, though it was a little sad how excited I got over one of her rakes. See… most rakes just have their tines, and you rake leaves with them. You hold, make raking motions, and that’s it. There’s no settings or dials to adjust. Well. Not with this rake: instead, it had adjustable-length tines, that allowed me to swap between large-area raking, and small-detail raking. I know, I know, it’s silly. But you know what? It’s neat. It’s a simple solution to the problem of a single rake not really being usable in multiple parts of a garden. I like simple solutions.

So we raked up, finished up, dumped leaves, and got to hang out for a while.

Then; lunch.  Asparagus and cheese and the leftovers from breakfast… Honestly, I never really noticed it before, but I think I got a lot of my cooking style from my Mom, Grandma, and Aunt.  Not the specific recipes (though I did get a lot of them as well), but the simplicity.  A few ingredients, interestingly combined.  I don’t make extremely complex meals; they usually just involve stuff thrown together.  and I like it 🙂

From the lunch table we headed out to the nursery to pick me up a fern for my office.  My Aunt already had an agave and another fern, but I was planning on three office plants: that way, I could have two in the office and one at home, and rotate them out.  Keep them getting some semblance of natural light, instead of the demonic fluorescent lighting of my cube.

The shopping trip was pretty simple and clean: we picked out a Birds Nest fern (seen below), and my Aunt got celebritied when a fellow gardener stopped my aunt to thank her for hosting a workshop that had helped this woman get her garden back on track.  It’s always cool when I get a reminder that my Aunt is totally a famous person, even though I always see her as that cool family member who’s always playing in the garden 🙂


And then, after re-potting the plants, it was quickly time to pack up and head back onto the drive home.  We stayed and chatted for a while first, of course, but it didn’t last nearly long enough.  These visits never do, somehow.  They always find me sad when I’m driving home… wishing that I could already be heading back toward the peace of the greenhouse.

An excellent brunch and an interesting Garden


Sunday, 04-May-14

After getting home from my folks place slightly later than planned, I didn’t really do much relaxing on Saturday.  So Sunday became my chill out day.

It started as many of my weekends do; getting brunch in Somerville.  Davis Square, this time, at the Foundry.  They always have a brunch Buffet on Sunday mornings, but this time they went all out – see, the usual plan on the chef’s part is to do a halfsies thing.  Partially brunch buffet, and partially a brunch menu.  Both are really good, but neither one is particularly extensive.  This time though, they cut the menu out completely, instead focusing in on creating a full-on brunch menu.  Sausage and gravy biscuits?  Yep, we got it.  Bacon and Sausage?  Ohh hell yes.  Omelette Station and prime-rib carving dock?  Ohh you best believe it’s done medium rare.

So I ate, drank coffee, and was merry playing with my fancy new camera (Ed Note: expect Ben to post some silly “camera review” thing later).  It was nice, and I even had the Chef come out to ask how I liked the new style of breakfast.  I can’t tell if she was just asking everyone, or if I’ve shown up often enough that they think I’m someone important.

Either way, I got an extra little nice surprise on the walk home – I took a slightly different path than I usually take, and it made all the difference… (poem poem poem)

It was open-garden day in Somerville!  Lots of small gardens were open to us plebeians, but this one caught my eye the most – it’s an amazing fusion of a standard Asian scholars garden, and a more rustic New England style; the husband works with rocks, and the wife works with the plants and planters.  I was lucky enough to chat with them for a while, and even get a few pictures…

A New York-style Deli roadtrip: Driving down to Pennsylvania


25-Apr-2014 through 27-Apr-14


My friend Emma and I wanted to see Fallingwater – a very famous Frank Lloyd Wright house.  Unfortunately, it’s very far away.  But we still wanted to do a roadtrip… so let’s go toward there anyways!

*Note: A danger to driving a standard transmission is that I’m really the only one who can drive it easily.  So I did all the driving for this adventure – Emma knitted literally 50% of a sweater though… half the time with the top down and the wind howling.  Impressive.

Friday, 25-Apr-14

  • Emma meets me at the office, mid afternoon.  Throw her gear in the can, and we roll out onto the probably-gridlocked road.
  • Turns out, Emma’s a good luck charm when it comes to traffic… somehow we make the run to our rendezvous with my Aunt Tovah in barely 2.5 hours.
  • We all have dinner at Julio’s pizza; dinner takes forever to arrive, but it’s delicious once it does.  Ahh pizza… it’s nice; we eat slow, hang out and chat for a while after eating
  • After dinner we head back to my Aunt’s house.  She gives a quick tour, then we go out back to the barn to visit the goats!  Emma get’s to feed baby Violet, who’s only a few months old yet has an amazing mohawk.  And I got to see Sweetpea again – she grew!
  • Chat some more, then finally head to sleep


Saturday, 26-Apr-14

  • Wake up early… why can I always wake up on the weekends, but not weekdays?  Excited for the upcoming day, I suppose…
  • Get dressed, Chat with my aunt while chowing down on an excellent breakfast, and then we head out to feed the goats again and poke around the garden for a bit
  • Hang out and chat, playing with Einstein for a while.  I get to read through a few of her articles, and we roll out ~10:30
  • Emma’s luck has failed us, and we start hitting more and more traffic
  • Late lunch at Harolds, a very ‘murican new York style diner.  I mean… all I wanted was a Reuben, ok?  I couldn’t have one.  Why, you may ask?  Why could you not have a reuben at a New York style deli, the one place that should always have a Reuben?  Because their Reuben is huge.  It costs $60, and feeds 4-6 people.  Wtf America.  This is not necessary.
  • Whew… too much food.  We split a bacon cheeseburger (that had literally 12 slices of bacon on it) and french toast.  It was amazing, but we could barely move afterward.  Sitting in the car and reading, for the win!
  • Keep driving; it’s actually quite nice out, so we cruise well… even when theirs traffic.  See a Maybach on the road… yep, we’re near New York City.
  • Once we arrive at Emma’s folks place, we’re ready for a bit of relaxing.  Chill, chat, and wait for her dad to finish making roast.  It.  Is.  Amazing.
  • Eat, relax, and play card games that are a bit confusing.  But it’s a very fun night, an immense change from the insanity of living in the city.
  • Crash at a mostly-normal time, if not a bit early.  Driving takes more out of you than you’d think – the constant awareness and focus is tiring, I guess. So I could use the rest, and sleep like a log.

Sunday, 27-Apr-14

  •  As per the correct nature of a Sunday, we start out slow.  Head out to dinner in town, where Emma’s folks keep her up to date with all the family adventure, and I get to hear a bit about how her dad’s business has been doing – it’s actually pretty interesting, since he works with a lot of similar companies to those I work with.
  • Hang out around the house for a bit more, before having a light snack and then getting back on the road.
  • Driving driving driving driving… I actually really enjoy these long rides.  Even when we hit a lot of traffic in Amish Country.  <shrug>
  • Let Emma choose the music… It’s actually not so bad.  I’m definitely not that used to MIA and such.  Makes for fast driving tunes though.
  • Stop in at Rein’s Deli for an early dinner – ohh man.  See, THIS is a good Deli.  No massive portions, just really good food.  And sane, human-sized reubens for sane, human-sized prices!
  • Keep pushing through, driving along the long and not-too-full highway
  • Ohh man, is that a street-racer?  IT IS!  I chase the street racers for a while.  Three of us tearing down I-84; it’s really fun.  Not going crazy-fast, but just fast enough that it’s interesting and just slightly challenging.  The two others take turns leading, and there’s just enough traffic that you can’t just stay in one lane the whole way.  Safe Merging is cool, kids!  We make a 40min drive in maybe 25min though, so that’s nice.
  • As we pull up to the toll, each driver goes their separate ways.  We pull up next to each other one last time.  Look left, *nod*.  Look right *thumbs up*.  A moment between driver-bros is exchanged, and then in an instant it’s gone.
  • The rest of the drive is relaxed, and we find out way back into the city before midnight even strikes.