I started my Christmas shopping on Sunday afternoon and finished on Monday. I am a person who takes shopping locally seriously. I love the camaraderie on Main street in Vineyard Haven. Everyone was out and about. There is nothing that could entice me to get on the boat and travel to some mainland mall. Yuck!

For starters, I immediately get tired as soon as I walk through the automatic double doors. I’m just not wired to enjoy that many choices. It doesn’t help that shopping is on my most hated activities list, just above the sharp stick in the eye contest.

At any rate, Christmas is a wonderful time with family. Violet plays her cello in church and we are all proud.

Here it is right before the new year . . . I’ve given up making any resolutions. I barely keep them for a week.

The weather has been remarkably mild — almost 60 degrees last Sunday afternoon. What a pleasant surprise.

I was in Edgartown last week and noticed the gazebo on the grounds of the Dr. Daniel Fisher House. I know it came from the Violet Thoran property at Seven Gates, High Hope. I must give Sam Thoran a ring out in San Francisco and find out the history of the structure. His mother Violet was a terrific gardener. The property is spectacular with its ancient trees. There is a Dawn redwood easily 70 feet tall.

I mention redwoods as I am attempting to grow some. I moved them from a nursery situation in November and they look pretty sad. I’m hoping it is simply the seasonal loss of needles and not their demise.

I’ve been busy snipping back hydrangeas. It can be tricky as some of the older ones like Nikko blue and blue wave lacecap bloom on old growth so care must be taken not to cut too much of next year’s bloom.

The newer varieties like Endless Summer can be cut right down as they will bloom on new growth.

The same is true for the PG’s, tardivas and Annabelles, so don’t be shy. I like to cut them hard so snow and wind have less chance to damage them over the next few months.

As far as the oakleaf variety, I never seem to figure out what’s up with them. I remove the spent flower heads and hope inspiration will come to me at a later date.

I received an interesting book for Christmas, Wicked Plants: The Weed That Killed Lincoln’s Mother and Other Botanical Atrocities. I cannot wait to read it. I flipped right to the section on photo toxins, as I’ve had some bad run-ins with some on the job sites.

Who knew? Celery is listed as a photo toxin. It is susceptible to a pink rot fungus. The plant develops a defense mechanism to produce more photo toxic compounds to kill off the fungus.

Farm workers routinely get burns on their skin from handling celery in bright sunlight. People who eat large quantities of celery are also at risk. Honestly, it’s always something.

At any rate, it promises to be an enjoyable read for some long winter nights ahead.

Thank goodness it’s the end of the year. The useless United States Congress has gone home. They worked a big 126 days in 2013 for which we paid them around $175,000. Let’s see, that’s nearly $1,400 a day. This is for people who refuse to raise the minimum wage for those working more than 40 hours a week, who can’t make $1,400 in a month.

Most people in this country, like me, can do math.

Remarkably, during Watergate, approval of Congress was at 42 per cent. Now, I believe it’s just barely out of the single digits.

The nerve of some representatives to accuse food stamp recipients of fraud and laziness. I know I would consider myself lazy if I had 239 days off last year and I asked the U.S. taxpayers to pay me six figures!