Last Christmas, my sister decided her yard looked drab compared
with all the neighbors’ Santas and reindeer. So she bought some solar
lighting. They looked fine when we
assembled them out of the box, but that evening as night fell, one
of them glowed weakly, and the other didn’t light up at all.
We hoped it was because we’d set them up in the afternoon and they
hadn’t had a full day to charge the batteries, but the next day was
the same, so we tried putting them on the south side of the house,
which was a little better but still not very much light for very
I’ve been thinking about that because the lights are still there,
and now, in mid-March, they’re working fine. They come on at dusk,
and are only starting to weaken when I walk the dog at bedtime.
In June and July, they’ll probably run for a good part of the
So the moral of the story is that if you want to use solar power to
celebrate, the summer solstice or either equinox is a better bet than
the winter solstice, at least here in southern New England.
I expect on a more or less weekly basis to post a short series
of paragraphs that update previous posts.
Last Friday, I wrote about my new tuner. I
said that I was having trouble even getting it to slow down when
playing a recorder. I took it to my lesson that evening, to see
what a professional recorder player (John Tyson) could do with
it. As you would expect, he did much better than I did, with no
trouble getting the spinning lights to slow down, but it was a
great deal of effort for him to make them stop. (When you watch
a professional recorder player play with one of the needle ones,
it really looks like the needle doesn’t move at all.) At my next
lesson, he asked me if I’d been working with the tuner (not much,
because of the concert), and recommended doing so, because it
would be good feedback on getting an even tone.
On Saturday, I wrote about finally being able to get to the rosebush in my
. Unfortunately, we had an unusual cold snap this
week, with temperatures in the teens (fahrenheit) for several
days, and maybe in the single digits at night. So while last
week I worried that I was leaving it too late, if having the raw
cuts exposed to cold is a bad thing, maybe I should have waited
another week. And now I’m worried about how the poor little buds
did with the cold, too.
I said yesterday that the
pharmacy had the authorization, and was claiming that they would
fill the prescription for the insulin syringes in a small number
of hours. I called them several times, and they still hadn’t done
it as of 4 PM. So I called this morning, and they finally had them. But
this morning my fasting blood sugar was 201, which is much higher
than it ever is when I’m taking insulin. I’m going to try to get
time to write to the hospital ombudsman or whatever it’s called
these days. There should definitely be a system for getting
people medication in less than a week, and for expediting
medications that people are out of.
I had a gift certificate to White Flower Farms a couple of years ago.
The thing I wanted to buy most (rhubarb) cost less than the
certificate, so I had to order something else, so I looked at the
ornamental grasses and picked out a sedge. I made the mistake of
planting it behind the mint and the daylilies, which are taller
than it was, so it wasn’t a lot of use in the summertime, but all
through the winter of 2007-2008, it stayed green and nicely
That winter was what I think of as normal, and it might have in
fact been on the mild side of normal, but it certainly got lots
colder than it does in any of the places Keats ever hung out, so I
started thinking about what he could possibly have meant in La Belle Dame Sans
Merci when he said:
The sedge has wither’d from the lake,
And no birds sing.
I discussed this with my
sister, who has a degree in botany, while we were walking by a
lake in early April, and she pulled up a sedge plant to look at it. It was a bit
more withered than the one I got from White Flower Farms, but much
less withered than any of the other grass-like plants growing by
So we concluded that when Keats said, “The sedge is wither’d
from the lake,” he meant, “Even the sedge is wither’d
from the lake.” And his audience probably understood that it
meant that it was the end of a really long hard winter, instead
of just getting the generalized picture of bleakness that we
This has been one of those winters here in Southern New
England. As an urban dog-walker, I measure the difficulty of a
winter by how many days there’s ice on the sidewalks, not by
which species of grass-like thing has withered from the lake
shore, but this has been a bad one. And as you can see, the sedge is still nice
and green. Maybe the sedges Keats knew were more
wither-prone than the one White Flower Farms sent me. Or maybe
he was writing science fiction, and imagining that the
knight-at-arms was hanging out somewhere colder than he had ever
Today I’m giving a concert, with
lots of practicing and packing beforehand, and celebrating my
birthday afterwards, so there won’t be time for a blog post.
So I’ve scheduled one from the spindle; I hope it works.
This was the first day the ice has been melted enough from our
back yard that I wanted to get back to my plot and prune the
roses. The buds are already swelling, so it should have been done
a week or two ago, but the dog-walking already gets me more
walking on ice than I want, so the roses have had to wait.
The actual pruning isn’t that much fun, but you get to see all
the leaves that have already struggled through the still mostly