Imagine a 79 acre park with more than 7 million flower bulbs. Sound too good to be true? It’s not! That park is Keukenhof in the Netherlands and it is one of the world’s largest flower gardens. Every year, the park opens in late March for two months. Visitors flock to see these spectacular flowers. As a tulip lover, a visit to Keukenhof is undoubtedly on my travel bucket list.
How beautiful are these tulips that my husband gave me for Valentine’s Day? However, you might notice that those aren’t cut flowers. They’re tulips with bulbs still intact and sitting in water! These tulips are hydroponic.
After my marveling over the air-grown, substrate-less epiphyte orchids at Longwood Gardens, it’s probably not too surprising that I’m a fan of hydroponic plants, too. Years ago, my husband and I used styrofoam coolers to try and grow hydroponic lettuce. We weren’t terribly successful but it’s a method of growing that has continued to intrigue me.
These tulips, from a company called Bloomaker, seem pretty ordinary. You can purchase them from the grocery store. But the bulbs are specially prepared for hydroponic growth. That means the bulbs must be very high quality and disease-free for dirtless growing.
This year I made a concerted effort to read more. I wanted to read more. Period. If a book was in English or in German, it did not matter quite so much to me. And I found I put down several German language books that I was getting frustrated with. The struggle with a foreign language is real. But in an attempt to keep my motivation and not diminish my confidence, I was less reluctant to simply move on to another book.
This year I also had a chance to explore more cookbooks. There is a certain level of entertainment and unadulterated fun in paging through a new cookbook. I love exploring the new recipes and reading the notes from the author. I also enjoy eyeing the photographs, knowing that no matter how hard I try my results will never look so picture perfect.
These days every major and minor franchise seems to be getting a reboot. Old television shows are being reborn as new television shows or being brought to the big screen, old films are being re-imagined in a modern way. (Or so they tell us.) Big Screen James Bond has always had a series of different writers, directors and actors telling his story. But when it comes to books things work a little differently. I bring all this up because The Guardian is reporting that the publishers of the late Swedish author Stieg Larsson’s Millenium series (aka The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo trilogy) will be getting a fourth book. And it isn’t by Larsson.
As I write this, I can’t help but fear what this could become. These garage update posts could easily turn into quite a lengthy affair. “Part 301, the garage is finally done.” That’s if the work on the garage follows the progress we’ve made on our fixer-upper old home. But if there’s anything we’ve learned from having an old stone farmhouse it’s that insulation is important! That’s why my husband has taken insulating the garage very seriously.
It seemed for a while like Mother Nature had forgotten that it was winter. It’s been so mild here! Even at the end of fall, when we’d normally see at the very least a dusting of snow, we saw next to nothing. Well maybe Mother Nature finally checked her calendar. The past week has been cold. Really cold. It’s colder here than in Stockholm, Sweden. (I checked.) The creek that runs next to our house is almost completely frozen over and has a light coating of fresh snow on it from this morning. And we had a few inches of snow fall earlier in the week. I made sure to snap a photo of the sun trying to peek out as the snow flakes came gently down. It sure is pretty.
After last year when I read a measly two books, I knew I had to do better this year. Taking on one of those 50 books in a year challenges certainly isn’t for me. But for 2014 I had a specific strategy: take a bit of a break from German books. I read several English language books — including a couple by I’ll-read-anything-he-writes Irvine Welsh and one by my one-time English teacher John Dixon — that I really enjoyed. Then it was right back to the German practice. Admittedly I haven’t quite finished Christian Kracht’s 1979 — I’ve got about a quarter of the book left — but as long as it’s read before the ball drop on New Year’s Eve it counts, right?
Did you have a good weekend? I hope you did. We had a lovely weekend with beautiful weather. On Saturday, we took a bit of a trip. We went to Doylestown so that my husband could get a haircut. But what made the trip different and interesting was that our miniature schnauzer, George, came along for the trip. Needless to say, he’s a little exhausted now.
It has arrived! It has arrived! After getting a concrete foundation pad poured a few weeks ago, we’ve had a large empty spot in our yard. The pad was of great interest to the animals, apparently. We’ve found deer tracks in the mud around it and our miniature schnauzer, George, has loved crossing over the pad and finding a good spot to sniff the air — after all, you never know when you might spot a rabbit or a squirrel.
The concrete pad is empty no longer. The garage has finally arrived.
Today is a big day. When we bought our home, nearly seven years ago, we knew the garage would need replacing. (Quite frankly, everything needed replacing…) It was essentially a carport. And not a very nice one, at that. It was a regular hang out for random cats and other outdoor animals. They left countless paw prints down the windshield of my car.
The doors didn’t offer any confidence that if they were taken down that they’d go back up. In fact, recently, when a door was taken down, it not only wouldn’t go back up but the hardware started to bend and break off the walls. The door had to be sawed apart, like Dutch doors, in order to retrieve the contents of the bay.
But now the day has come. Today, the garage is starting demolition. Within the next couple of months we will have a new, prefabricated garage in its spot. A bigger, better garage that can serve as a work shop where guitar pedals can be built instead of in the dining room.
Today’s the day. So: so long, Garage. Please, don’t think of the new, shiny garage with a solid, level foundation and no cracking cinder block walls that will be replacing you. We had a nice time together, but now it’s time to part. Finally, we’re able to check another item off the lengthy list of things at our home in need of renovation.
In case you haven’t heard, the East Coast of the US got a wee bit of snow this week. Just a bit. Today, Valentine’s Day, it’s bright and sunny but we’re still bracing for the clean up. Even my knee-high Hunter boots didn’t protect me from the snow as I ventured out for a quick look around with my camera. If you have to go anywhere, it’s a real mess. But you have to admit, the fresh snow sure is pretty. A real Valentine’s Day treat.
Photo Friday: Yellow tulips for our anniversary