SnowMaster will now demonstrate proper powder navigation technique.


Step 1: Survey your surroundings.



Step 2: launch.



Step 3: get all crazy and weird. Corgi people call this behavior “derp.”


More derp. Notice the flattened ears and rolling eyes. Classic.


Step 4: run flat out. Give it all you’ve got.



Step 5: pause to enjoy the moment



Step 6: run back inside. Your work is done.




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All’s quiet on the blizzard front


The “blizzard of 2015″ continues here in coastal Rhode Island. It’s hard to know how much snow we have received, but the weather service says it’s between 1 1/2 to 2 feet. The wind is a big problem, blowing it all around into drifts.

My biggest fear was losing power, but so far we haven’t, thanks largely to the light, dry quality of the snow, which didn’t weigh down tree branches or power lines.


My second biggest worry was taking the dog out first thing this morning. I ended up shoveling a path through a drift at our steps, and once we got to the driveway, the man had come to plow so we just walked to the road. She didn’t like the stinging snowflakes blown into her eyes by the wind, but she performed like a trooper anyway.


Look at that face. No doubt what she’s thinking.

Once we got out onto the road, she was happier.


I was anticipating lots of hungry birds and put out food accordingly. Despite being buffeted by the wind, they stuffed their beaks. I even had a common redpoll feeding with the goldfinches, the first I have ever seen in RI. Here’s a shot of the birds taken through the window. Two juncoes on the left and a song sparrow on the right.


There’s still a total travel ban here, so I cannot go anywhere. Yay! As long as I am warm, I can deal with the rest.

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Not just for the birds


On my deck, I have a large planter and a few pots, which I am putting to use this winter as squirrel and bird feeders. I like to provide food sources for ground-feeding birds and for squirrels, which, when properly diverted, leave my other feeders alone.


In addition to black oil sunflower seed, that universally beloved bird food, I have added a wildlife block, and a mix called “Critter Cuisine” that contains various seeds with corn, pumpkin seeds and peanuts in the shell. Here’s a close-up of the mix: (Notice the peanuts are gone. They’re always gobbled up first.)


So far, my deck container method has worked out very well. The food stays off the wet ground, I can get to the planters easily to refill them, and  – bonus – the squirrels provide live entertainment for the dog, who watches, transfixed, from the kitchen.

Here’s the wildlife block. It lasts for weeks and everyone loves it. I added some tree branches for perching and shelter.


In the spring I will dump out the soil in the planters anyway, so I don’t care if there are seeds in it.

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Orchid time

IMG_3692This is my only catteleya hybrid, “Sunset Glory.” Very peachy and tropical, and a reliable bloomer. I didn’t even have to buy it, because it was a door prize at my orchid club meeting last year.

Orchids definitely brighten up a room during the darkest days of winter. Many cultivars start spiking (putting out flower stems, known in the orchid world as spikes) right after the winter solstice. It seems to be all about the change in daylight hours.


The above orchid is oncidium Wildcat “Chadwick,” another freebie from the club. In my experience, oncidiums do well in the same conditions as phalaenopsis, the ubiquitous moth orchid. This is a rangy plant, with many burgundy-colored, white-rimmed blooms that last well over a month. I’m not a fan of the yellowish brown oncidiums, but this one is a pretty color.

IMG_3712This is one of the smaller phalaenopsis, not exactly a miniature, but sold as such. These are great little plants, robust and floriferous. This one took a first prize at an orchid show a couple of years ago, despite its humble beginnings at Trader Joe’s, where I bought it for $10. You can see the bud at the very tip of the spike has blasted (shriveled up) for a reason known only to the plant. That’s a common occurrence, and in the case of this orchid, there are many other blooms, so it’s not a catastrophe.

This time of year, I continue my regimen of Michigan State University “Tap Water Special” granular fertilizer one week, plain water the next, Superthrive the third week, and plain water the fourth. My plants tend to sulk and even scorch during the heat of summer, but, like me, they’re loving these cool winter temps.

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A little white


It snowed at last, more of a dusting here in southern RI, but enough to cover the depressing grays and browns.

I have blogged about River Bend Cemetery before, (in Westerly on the Pawcatuck River) but I went back after it had snowed and took a few shots. The clouds were brooding and awesome.


These headstones, side by side, captured the snow nicely, making the carving more visible.


We have been skiing, but the snow is confined to the runs where they have been making it. The rest of the woods are brown. This is Berkshire East a week ago. We’re headed to Vermont with fingers crossed.


My perennial beds sure could use a snow blanket.

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Roll with it


Swimming? In December? With seaweed? You betcha!

It’s resolution time, and I’m keeping mine simple. I am going to try to follow the example of my dog and just roll with it. The following sequence was shot at beautiful Napatree Point in Westerly, RI.

I wish all my readers a very healthy, rewarding –  and fun – New Year.







It’s always important to stick the landing.


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No snow, but still festive


I have been struck this Christmas by an overriding incongruity. This is the most wintery of holidays, and everything, from the food to the songs, is about cold and snow and fireplaces. But it’s dry and sunny and not nearly cold enough to light a fire. Even the decorations in the shops seem to have broken with tradition. How about this cool snake?(which I would have bought if I had room on my tree.)


This photo could have been taken in October. (Check out the Cooper’s hawk perched in the middle of our stone wall.) Also notice the neighbor’s lawn on the left, which his idiot landscapers fertilized and treated last week AFTER cutting it – in mid-December! The result is burned turf, and because grass can’t absorb anything now because it’s dormant, most of the nutrients and poisons ran right off into the salt pond during the heavy rain we had the next day. Thanks a lot, Dude.

IMG_3528I took this photo of the Pawcatuck River while walking with a colleague during our lunch break. The river separates Rhode Island and Connecticut. I was standing in the River Bend cemetery, a lovely and restful place. The other bank of the river is the CT side. Not very Christmasy this year, but peaceful and beautiful nonetheless.

Hiking in the woods on the day after Christmas, it was weird seeing everything all brown. Then we noticed a small pine, decorated with a few ornaments.

IMG_3571On the way back, we saw another decorated pine. The ornaments were twinkling in the sunlight.

IMG_3572Little touches of Christmas in the woods. I found them sweet and sort of reassuring.

I hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday.

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Christmas musings

IMG_3252This is “Chuck,” the stuffed woodchuck that lives in the clerk’s office in one of the small RI towns I frequent as part of my job. He is always dressed in appropriate seasonal attire, with great attention to detail. I  enjoy popping in to see what he’s wearing. The folks who work here have a great Yankee sense of humor.

I don’t have the time to decorate our house in an elaborate manner, but I always like to bring some greenery inside for the holidays. I cut some branches in a friend’s garden and made this. Easy and pretty.

IMG_3199I didn’t want to waste any of the branches, so I  made a smaller arrangement from the cuttings. I had the chickadee thing so I just stuck it in there.

IMG_3202Every year, someone on one of the routes I travel for work creates an immense and mind-boggling light display. People drive there with their kids as part of their Christmas rituals. You can tune into a certain station on your car radio and get music that goes with the lights. There’s probably someone like this in every neighborhood.

IMG_3493While my family back in Canada has plenty of snow, here, it is, unfortunately, bare. Not Christmasy at all.  We recently visited Charlestown Beach to check out the Snowy Owl that has been hanging out there for a few weeks already. We saw it, but it was too far away to get a decent shot for this blog. Here’s a photo of the beach instead.


And look what I found at a local Wal Mart: chocolate cream cheese! For an explanation of why this is significant, go here.

IMG_3230Driving home from work yesterday, I saw a sign that read “Happy Everything.” That’s what I wish my readers this Christmas. Whatever your beliefs, I wish you a wonderful, relaxing holiday.


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Something nice


I was surprised and flattered when Laurie Eno,  a Massachusetts writer whose blog I’ve been reading for a couple of years, asked if she could write about Digging RI and my dog, Fidget, on her terrific blog “The Daily Corgi.” She used lots of my photos too!

You can find her post here:

I have a permanent link to her site on the right. (Put there long before this post)

Thanks Laurie!

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Getting creative with plants



One good thing about my job is that I get to go to some cool places and meet interesting people. This week, I visited a woman in Hopkinton RI who has realized her dream of opening a restaurant. That’s it in the photo. She named it “Back in Thyme.”

She is also a a plantswoman and an accomplished garden designer, so of course, she has applied her good taste to decorating the small building where she opened her cafe.

IMG_3168This is one side of the wraparound porch. When it’s warm, you can hang out here and watch the world go by. In the 1920s, when this building was constructed, people did that. They sat and talked and gazed out at their neighborhoods. Sigh.

Notice the lovely containers, housing plants of various kinds – low-growing mostly.


IMG_3171Here’s the other side of that porch. I love the color she chose for the walls.

IMG_3175Inside, there’s a table with, among other things, this moss garden.

IMG_3174Also on the table, bok choy that she cut and plopped in a dish of water where it’s growing quite happily. Whenever she needs some leaves for a soup garnish she just snips them off.


Looking out through one of the windows, I saw more bok choy growing. In front of the yellow can on the right and barely visible, there’s a beet growing greens the same way. Creative, fun and useful, no? I can’t wait to see what she does next summer.

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