Monthly Archives: December 2011


A Note about Hippeastrum 

Living in New England the year round, with our tiresomely long winter stretching miles before us, followed by a typically late and fugitive spring, we can become easily wrapped in those winter-blues. Fortunately for garden-makers, our thoughts give way to winter scapes of bare limbs and berries, Gold Finches and Cardinals, and plant catalogues to peruse. If you love to paint and write about flowers as do I, winter is a splendid time of year for both, as there is hardly any time devoted to the garden during colder months. I believe if we cared for a garden very much larger than ours, I would accomplish little of either writing or painting, for maintaining it would require just that much more time and energy.

Coaxing winter blooms is yet another way to circumvent those late winter doldrums. Most of us are familiar with the ease in which amaryllis (Hippeastrum) bulbs will bloom indoors. Placed in a pot with enough soil to come to the halfway point of the bulb, and set on a warm radiator, in several week’s time one will be cheered by the sight of a spring-green, pointed-tipped flower stalk poking through the inner layers of the plump brown bulbs. The emerging scapes provide a welcome promise with their warm-hued blossoms, a striking contrast against the cool light of winter.

Perhaps the popularity of the amaryllis is due both to their ease in cultivation and also for their ability to dazzle with colors of sizzling orange, clear reds and apple blossom pink. My aunt has a friend whose family has successfully cultivated the same bulb for decades. For continued success with an amaryllis, place the pot in the garden as soon as the weather is steadily warm. Allow the plant to grow through the summer, watering and fertilizing regularly. In the late summer or early fall and before the first frost, separate the bulb from the soil and store the bulb, on its side, in a cool dry spot—an unheated basement for example. The bulb should feel firm and fat again, not at all mushy. After a six-week rest, the amaryllis bulb is ready to re-pot and begin its blooming cycle again. Excerpt from Oh Garden of Fresh Possibilities! ~ Coaxing Winter Blooms

Click above photo to see slide show

The taxonomy of the genus Hippeastrum is complicated. Hippeastrum is a genus of about 90 species and over 600 hybrids and cultivars, native to topical and subtropical regions of the Americas from Argentina north to Mexico and the Caribbean. For some time there was confusion amongst botanists over the generic names Hippeastrum and Amaryllis, which led to the application of the common name “amaryllis” when referring to Hippeastrum. The genera Amaryllis refers to bulbs from South Africa.


Tribute from Senator John Kerry to Joe Garland


Mr. KERRY: Mr. President, over the course of the past half-century, Joe Garland served as the unofficial historian of Gloucester, MA—its fishermen, its boats and its life. But Joe Garland not only wrote history in his books and newspaper column—he was part of history, guiding his beloved hometown through headwinds and troubled waters. Joe Garland passed away August 30, and his family and friends gathered October 1 for a memorial service. I would like to share with the Senate the thoughts and memories of Joe that I shared with those who were part of that service honoring this great champion of all things Gloucester.

If you visit the Fisherman’s Memorial on Gloucester’s waterfront on a stormy winter day, the statue of the Heroic Mariner seems to be steering the whole town into the wind toward fair weather. And if you look closely at the statue, you can almost see Joe Garland in its carved granite face, full of grit and determination, guiding his be- loved Gloucester through headwinds and troubled waters.

‘‘Beating to windward’’ is the art of sailing into the wind. ‘‘Beating to Windward’’ is also the name of the column Joe wrote so many years for the Gloucester Times. And it is no surprise to any of us who knew him that Joe used the column to champion all things Gloucester.

Joe didn’t just chronicle Gloucester’s history—he was a part of it. In his column and in his books, he brought to life the era of the great schooners—like the 122-foot Adventure, the flagship of Gloucester, and the larger-than-life Gloucestermen—like the ‘‘Bear of the Sea,’’ Giant Jim Patillo, and the ‘‘Lone Voyager,’’ Howard Blackburn.

But he also used the sharpness of his pen to make his case on all kinds of civil causes—opposing unbridled economic development, warning about the loss of local control of the hospital and water supply, complaining about compromises on the environment or demanding the preservation of Gloucester’s beauty. And trust me—Joe never hesitated to offer his advice to a certain U.S. Senator, if he felt like I needed it.

Joe wrote with passion, conviction and humor, never with ill will or with the intent to wound. He was a gentleman. And always, whether in his column or in his books, he promoted the interests of Gloucester’s fishing fleet. In my office in Washington, I have a copy of the book he wrote in 2006, ‘‘The Fish and the Falcon,’’ about Gloucester’s role in the American Revolution. His inscription to me expresses his appreciation ‘‘for your efforts to relieve the fiscal crisis that has long haunted our beleaguered fishing industry.’’ He urged me to keep up the fight, and I have.

Joe wrote 21 books, and I always enjoyed his sharing the latest with me. In my Boston office, I have a copy of his book about the Adventure, which he helped to restore. It arrived with an invitation from Joe to tour the schooner and, of course, I didn’t waste any time accepting his invitation. He welcomed me aboard, and his tour made the Adventure’s history come alive—from its construction in 1926 through its career as a ‘‘highliner,’’ the biggest money- maker of them all, landing nearly $4 million worth of cod and halibut during her career.

But the book that spoke to me the most was his last, ‘‘Unknown Soldiers,’’ his memoir of World War II and his journey from a student at Harvard to a ‘‘dogface’’ with a close-knit infantry in Sicily, Italy, France and finally Germany. It is a clear, eloquent and unflinching panorama of the mundane and the horrific in war. It is, by turns, humorous, poignant and gut-wrenching, with the common soldier perspective long associated with journalist Ernie Pyle or cartoonist Bill Mauldin, a point of view with which soldiers from my war, from any war—a band of brothers stretching through generations of Americans—can identify.

I was deeply saddened to learn of Joe’s passing. But I am glad that his passing was gentle, his last moments of his life near the window of his beloved house by the sea, surrounded by loved ones and squeezing the hand of the woman he loved—Helen, his wife, his World War II pen pal.

And how fitting that in those final moments, the schooner Lannon fired a farewell cannon salute to Joe as it headed out to sea. Joe loved the tradition of cannon salutes, so much so that he fired one at the wedding of his stepdaughter, Alison, only to have it backfire, burning a hole in his jacket and covering his face with gunpowder, just in time for the official wedding photos. But that was Joe, and a face smudged with gunpowder underscored what we all know—truly, his was a life well lived.

There is an anonymous quote I once read which may well describe how we should think of Joe’s passing. It says:

“I am standing upon the seashore. A ship at my side spreads her white sails to the morning breeze and starts for the blue ocean. She is an object of beauty and strength, and I stand and watch her until, at length, she hangs like a speck of white cloud just where the sea and sky come down to mingle with each other. Then someone at my side says, ‘‘There! She’s gone.’’

Gone where? Gone from my sight— that is all. She is just as large in mast and hull and spar as she was when she left my side, and just as able to bear her load of living freight to the place of destination. Her diminished size is in me, not in her, and just at the moment when someone at my side says, ‘‘There, she’s gone,’’—there are other eyes watching her coming, and other voices ready to take up the glad shout, ‘‘There she comes!’’ And that is dying.” [See editor’s note.]

Because Joe loved the sea so much— and because he enjoyed watching seagulls soar—I close with a special poem. It is titled ‘‘Sea Joy’’ and it was written in 1939 by a little girl named Jacqueline Bouvier. America eventually came to know her as Jackie Kennedy. But when she was 10 years old, she wrote:

When I go down by the sandy shore

I can think of nothing I want more

Than to live by the booming blue sea

As the seagulls flutter round about me

I can run about—when the tide is out

With the wind and the sand and the sea all about

And the seagulls are swirling and diving for fish

Oh—to live by the sea is my only wish.’’

To Helen and Joe’s family, I extend my deepest sympathy, but with a reminder that Joe’s work, like the sea he loved, is eternal and booming, and that Joe’s life, like the seagulls he enjoyed so much, swirled and soared.

And to Joe, from one sailor to another, I wish him ‘‘fair winds and following seas.’’

Editor’s Note: The quote “I am standing upon the seashore. A ship at my side spreads her white sails to the morning breeze and starts for the blue ocean…” was written by Henry van Dyke (1852- 1933), an American educator, clergyman, and author.

Ring Out, Wild Bells

Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light;
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.
Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.
Ring out the grief that saps the mind,
For those that here we see no more,
Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to all mankind.
Ring out a slowly dying cause,
And ancient forms of party strife;
Ring in the nobler modes of life,
With sweeter manners, purer laws.
Ring out the want, the care the sin,
The faithless coldness of the times;
Ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes,
But ring the fuller minstrel in.
Ring out false pride in place and blood,
The civic slander and the spite;
Ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good.
Ring out old shapes of foul disease,
Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace.
Ring in the valiant man and free,
The larger heart, the kindlier hand;
Ring out the darkness of the land,
Ring in the Christ that is to be.        -Alfred, Lord Tennyson
Our daughter Liv posted this poem on her blog Boston to Brooklyn. The sentiments expressed befit our times equally as well as when Tennyson wrote Ring Out, Wild Bells in 1850.
Jonathan Dove (1959), the contemporary British composer of opera, choral works, plays, films, and orchestral and chamber music has written a beautiful arrangement to Ring Out, Wild Bells, performed in this video by the Antioch Chamber Ensemble.


I Wonder as I Wander

I Wonder as I Wander (Appalachia) ~ Words and Music collected by John Jacob Niles, 1933

I wonder as I wander out under the sky,
How Jesus the Savior did come for to die.
For poor on’ry people like you and like I…
I wonder as I wander out under the sky.

When Mary birthed Jesus ’twas in a cow’s stall,
With wise men and farmers and shepherds and all.
But high from God’s heaven a star’s light did fall,
And the promise of ages it then did recall.

If Jesus had wanted for any wee thing,
A star in the sky, or a bird on the wing,
Or all of God’s angels in heav’n for to sing,
He surely could have it, ’cause he was the King.

Many thanks to Father Matthew Green from St. Ann’s Church for posting his photo of the St. Ann’s Nativity scene on Good Morning Gloucester blog. I was looking for an image to go with this hauntingly beautiful Christmas carol and was inspired to go see the nativity at the rectory after seeing his photo posted on GMG.

My Interview with Isabelle Lafleche on Pink Lemonade

My dear friend and fellow author Isabelle Lafleche has posted her interview with me on her always super fun and chic blog Pink Lemonade. Isabelle posts the most wonderful high-style photos, garnered from fashion and style publications from all around the globe.

Isabelle’s first novel J’adore New York has been published in French, English, and German and is now available in paperback. More on Isabelle in a future post.

Isabelle’s Upcoming Novel

Home for the Holidays

Both our children are at last home for Christmas! Read Liv’s “Home for the Holidays” post at her delightful blog “Boston to Brooklyn.”

Live writes: The Christmas spirit runs strong in our family, mainly due to our mother’s dedication in making our home a joyous and decadent celebration of the holidays. No room in the house is left without some unique Christmas decoration and our abode smells of paper whites, clementines, and pine needles for the entire blessed month of December. I’m finally home for the holidays after my first semester of graduate school, and nothing makes me happier and more relaxed than being surrounded by Christmas joy and familial love. Read more, with lots of photos, at Boston to Brooklyn.


Liv Hauck iPhone photo