Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Slow on the uptake and giveaway results.

Getting used to the 'new' normal is a bumpy road, to be sure.  I have seen a few prickly comments on Facebook about people being tired of hearing about the new normal.  That's too bad, as I don't think we will ever be back to what we were used to.  I was working in the garden yesterday, when I had a panic attack - I had forgotten to clock into work!  At least I knew what day it was, but didn't remember it was a holiday.  I calmed myself down and carried on.
The "new carport
After many fits and starts, the new carport went up (halleluiah!)  My neighbor's granddaughter's husband had it whipped into shape in no time.  I toted pieces and parts and held things upright.  How nice it is to work with someone under 40... with muscles.

There has been a lot of activity in the garden - seed planting (four kinds of beans, cukes, beets, radishes) was done first.  I had to put up the fencing before venturing out with my seedlings.  Sunday I put out onion starts and yesterday was the big push.  The fence went up and tomatoes, summer squash, more cucumbers and some of the peppers went in.  I also planted some sweet peas in the flower bed, and put in the remainder of my herbs (marjoram, English thyme, French tarragon, and parsley).  My sage is still plugging away, as is the Greek and golden oreganos.

Necessary equipment

Squash bed straight ahead; flower bed behind;
beans, far left; tomatoes and peppers front

I am trellising cukes, with rat tail
radishes sheltered beneath.  You'll
have to take my word for it - it's early days.

The tire brigade - perennials and

If you biggify, you'll see

Trellised beans and cukes (more)
in the far bed. Tomatoes and peppers in
the near bed.

Chives, lemon balm and comfrey are rampant!
I managed to keep a grip on myself, vis a vis the tomatoes, this year.  Instead of the 18 plants of last year, I have nine this year.  I have two black cherry plants, two pineapple, a tie-dye, a beefsteak, an ox heart, and two I can't remember.  Thank you, as always, Marianne!  I think she was very grateful that I didn't try to con her into starting all my seeds this year.  Her daughter and granddaughter and granddog are self-quarantining with them.  It's crazy.

I have four kinds of cucumbers this year, and four kinds of beans - two climbing and two bush types.  I am also trying a different kind of 'radish'.  I am one of six people on the Earth that cannot grow radishes.  I am trying a variety that grows radish pods - or rat tails.  They have started to pop up, so I am taking that as a positive sign.  I have kept a bed free for winter squash, as I really miss having it in the garden.  The seeds have germinated, but they're not quite ready for prime time.

I will leave you with a few shots of other parts of the garden, and a totally gratuitous shot of "Slimmie", bless him.
My lovely lilac

Hellebores with bee balm

Front deck geraniums

Luxurious in his vastness
Giveaway Update:

If I have it right, these are the quilting book recipients:

DFW - Quilting Bible
Ladybug - The Art of the Handmade Quilt
ErinfromIowa - Lap Quilting
Cindie - Little Quilts

Please email your mailing address to swomersley at gmail dot com, and I will get them packaged in on their way!

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

How about a giveaway, while we pass the time?

I have had to face the fact that I am not going to learn to do all the things that I want to do.  Plus, there is that pesky lack of focus....and, when it comes to quilting, there is the math....

If any of you are quilters, future quilters or have an interest in quilting (and have more focus than a fruit fly), I offer the following:

the Patchworker's How-To Book (top)

Lap Quilting with Georgia Bonesteel

The Quilting Bible - the Complete PhotoGuide to Machine Quilting

The Art of the Handmade Quilt

Little Quilts

I think, since there are a few of them, we will just have it be a first-comment, first dibs giveaway.  I'll post the names in next Monday's blog post.

Friday, May 15, 2020


And (seemingly) just like that, spring has sprung.  While I was inside, whining, nature just plodded on, doing her thing.
You can always count on forsythias
to boost your spirits.
I do feel, however, that I was justified in my endless whining..
Two days ago - my tender plants
bundled in towels and fleece
Just when I was ready to sigh with relief that the worst of the roadblocks between me and getting out in my garden are finally past, I wake up to this on my weather app (I didn't even include the hail and tornado charts - too depressing)
Seriously?  We are pretty
much smack-dab in the center.
I guess spring can 'actually' start tomorrow.  I had made a very quick sortie into the office to make sure there were no burst pipes, piles of important mail, etc.  There was only one casualty, the office plant.
Poor thing.  I was only able to buy it a little bit of time, by moving it by the only window and heavily watering it before I had to decamp.  Who knew it would be months before I could return.  There was a delightful lack of traffic and no end to open parking spots.

I am hoping that things calm down so that I can start to harden off my seedlings.  Time stops for no seeds and my squash plants are busting out all over the little greenhouse.

I am hoping to get some things in the garden this weekend, and to finish prepping the remaining three raised beds.  I am itching to get things moving along.  I will feel so much better, knowing that I have my own food resources.  I had family and friends on the lookout for flour for my neighbors (she is 94 and still baking up a storm) before someone found one remaining bag of King Arthur flour an hour and a half south of us!  I had baked them some Anzac Biscuits - I am baking out of boredom -   which only take one cup of flour and are mighty tasty with a cup of coffee or tea.  She said her husband ate most of them - a compliment, since they contain no chocolate.  I used a KA recipe, but switched molasses for the dark Karo syrup, as I don't use it and was out of golden syrup.

Tomorrow I finish dismantling the old carport wreckage so that I can have the new one put up on Sunday.  I found two little elderberry starts in the front yard that I want to protect until they are large enough to transplant - I love free plants!

It's hard to believe that Memorial Day is looming on the horizon.  We are still pretty much in lockdown mode, as our area has not met the benchmarks set up by the governor.  Even when we start to loosen the restrictions, I will not be sallying forth with confidence.  There is too much that is unknown about this virus and I still have friends and loved ones who are vulnerable.  Meanwhile, I am digging this work-at-home thing!

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Welp. Things WERE getting a tad boring.

Since I fundamentally refuse to turn my heat on after May 1, I decided to start a nice fire to warm up paws and toes this morning.  After all, it was 34 freakin degrees.  Lovey and her partner in warmth, Slimmie, had just vacated the hearth when - WHAM BANG CRASH - one of the glass panels on the fireplace screen shattered.  Geezlouise.

Other than that excitement, things have been grinding along.  I decided to get all my little (and getting smaller) ducks in a row to ease me into retirement, so there have been phone calls and emails about the state of the market (stinks), the future of the market (stinks) and my options.  My new motto is 'whatever'.

Lovey highly recommends
 This past Saturday, we celebrated my youngest sister's birthday, along with our fourth sister, Barb's.  Champagne and social distancing.  I brought the cake.

 I've started my journey to use up as much of the pantry/fridge/freezer items that I can.  While the casserole below looks less than appetizing (I'm no food photographer), it was delicious - The Enchanted Broccoli Forest's Savory Apple Casserole, starring apples, cheddar and sauerkraut.
Thanks to a day and a half of spring-like weather, I have been able to get six of my nine raised beds ready for planting.  If only spring would arrive with it's entire wardrobe, instead of the little overnight bag she's toting around.  We are due for snow Friday night, with frost/freezing temperatures almost through next week.  While I'm waiting for the soil to warm up, I am using my Burpee Big Daddy onion starts as a center piece.
We're bracing for another round of shortages - this time it's beef, pork and chicken.  Makes me glad I have segued into a mostly plant-based diet.  I'll be even happier when the plants are from my own garden.  My favorite nursery opens tomorrow with all the bells and whistles of social distancing and state regulations.  Luckily for me, they offer order-ahead-and-pick-up service.  I sent off my list and will pick up curbside.  So many adjustments, although I am very aware that these are First World problems and I am very, very grateful to have the opportunities I have.

Meanwhile, my Meyers Lemon tree and I are waiting impatiently to be able to outside and stay there.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Random is I

Thanks to the hens, eggs are in plentiful supply.  There are more than enough for me, my family and for selling.  I scored some organic spinach from a local-ish farm that offers front porch pick-up.  It's interesting, navigating the new normal.
 Lovey got a new bed for her birthday (7) and adoptiversary (5) and it appears to be a big hit.  The small sausage dog has tried to divert her from the bed so that he can claim it, but she's not budging. 
 However, a more subtle contender circles her on a regular basis.
 Seeds have been started, which always lifts my spirits and gives me hope.
 In my quest to clean out fridge, freezer and pantry, I made some gluten free banana bread that was tasty, but dry.  I am sure it had to do with the fact that I had little almond flour left and substituted with coconut flour.  An entirely different texture and it inhales moisture.  It was still good, although a little too sweet for my mostly-sugar-deprived taste.
For a mild winter, it sure is stubborn.  I don't know how many mornings I wake up to snow.  And I've quit counting out of self-preservation.  I keep hoping spring will arrive before summer. 

To keep the little grey cells from dying off, I signed up to send notes of support to senior care centers.  Two lovely young women have started what has grown into a national mission to reach out to people who feel isolated - Letters Against Isolation.  It gave me a chance to use my beloved Lamb Camp notecards. 

And the beat goes on...

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Mixing it up into a hot mess.

Happy (let me check today's BGPs...) Wednesday!  I spent a good five minutes lying in bed this morning, trying to figure out what day it was.  I actually thought it might still be March because it was spitting snow and 27 degrees.  I've been doing what I can to keep the little grey cells from jumping ship.  Thanks to this freakishly rotten weather, most of my activities are indoors.
There has been cooking for dogs.
Nothing like the permeating effects of
baked liver.

There has been planting - poblanos, zucchini (3 kinds), kale (3 kinds), lavender, cukes (2 kinds), Swiss chard (2 kinds), bunching onions (3 kind).  I hope to add flowers and herbs to the list this week, if I have time.... snort.  If the weather cooperates, I will prep and plant spinach, arugula and salad mix in the cold frame. 

The work on the road continues and I'm taking it way too personally.
Peanut is the family snoopervisor
of all things outside and inside.

There's been a slowing down of staff conference calls - not surprising, as it was announced that we'd all have to take a cut in our salary so that the mothership can stay afloat.  You could almost hear the unhappiness crackling over the lines.  It was just a tad too ironic to have it announced just before Administrative Assistant Day/Week.  It's not easy to try to reconcile the notion that you're appreciated, while they have their hand in your pocket.  I feel for my colleagues who are working from home - with all the stress that entails - while having to make sure their kids are still learning, may have a spouse unemployed, and now have to worry if they can pay their bills.  I am glad I still have a job.

I do find myself wondering - aloud and often - if it's happy hour someplace, starting after breakfast.  As a matter of fact, I am wondering aloud waaay too often.  I am, however, enjoying the 'kids'.  I think Slimmie is the happiest that I am here all the time.  He has taken to flinging his sizeable self onto my lap to help me with my typing at every opportunity.

I have more photos (!!!) but they are not appearing in my feed, so they will have to entertain you in a future post.  A daily battle is waged with my over-used, under-powered, semi-ancient technology.  I have a laptop that has all the oomph of a pile of string, while my new phone is so sensitive that I'm afraid to look at it too long, as it may be able to read my mind.

I hope you all are hanging tight, as they say (and 'tight' has so many meanings...) and taking good care of yourself.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

What day is it and does it really matter?

My days have become divided into two categories:  rainy days and unrainy days.  Since I am pretty much in total lockdown, things have become pretty basic.  The highlight of yesterday was the pruning of my hybrid willow bushes by the virile Lew (sorry Steve - no pictures...).  He did a wonderful job and didn't mind my constant stream of questions - from a safe distance.  I now have a pile of willow branches that I will get into a bucket of water to root.  I am going to, once again, try to grow a barrier between me and the dusty, truck-ridden road.

I have a new set of workmates:

(L-R) Hedgie, Foxy, Bunny, Otter-y, Mousie
Nothing like a quick project to get one through the day.  Even the dogs are tired of my constant presence:
"Are you still here?  If you're not going to
hand out treats, go back to work."
Easter was weird.
Well, not that weird, but it was different.  I am trying to treat this hiatus as a retirement rehearsal - which is probably a good thing, as I am pretty sure they will close the office at the end of the current lease.  I baked some chocolate chip peanut butter cookies, using some powdered peanut butter I discovered in the pantry - a purely impulse buy - and gave them to my neighbor, my sister and the UPS guy.  Today I get the fuel oil tank topped off - at under $2 a gallon, I can't miss the opportunity.  I'm sure it will be a lot more this winter, during the new reality.  Next Friday, the septic guy comes.  I hope I can contain myself....

Meanwhile, it is too cold to garden for long, so I just look longingly out the windows.  I have made little forays into the flower beds, raking and cleaning out.  I am itching to plant my poppy seeds, but have to be sure the last frost has gone past.  I may start knitting exotic animals and little people friends.  Who knows.  I'm down to "X" by Sue Grafton on my audio book list, with one more to go.  She was so close to "Z", it doesn't seem fair that she passed away before she wrote it.  Bless her heart.  I listen/watch Billy Collins read poetry everyday, which is very enjoyable and I highly recommend it (on FB).  At least there is a little stirring of the grey cells.  My sister was here for a couple of days - her husband's family invaded their house (apparently, the pandemic does not apply to them) so we entertained ourselves with take-out from the Mexican restaurant, margaritas and a very strange rendition of Wagner's Ring Trilogy.  If nothing else, we laughed our heads off.  Good medicine for whatever ails you!

This Saturday is my pick-up at the organic farm store and a quick foray into the grocery store, then home again, home again, fast as I can.  I hope you are all safe and sane.  I have tons of catch-up reading on my blog list and am looking forward to hearing how you all are faring.  xo

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Challenging times for a hugger.

As we sidle into the 50th week of SIP, I'm noticing that I really miss the physical contact with family and friends.  I am an incurable hugger.  However, Peanut and Lovey are enjoying the bounty.  I've tried to include Slimmie, but he is not big on hugging.  Head butting is more his style.

After endless days of grey clouds and rain, we finally got some sunny days and I beat a hasty path out to the garden.  Unfortunately, the truck traffic has not subsided much, and the trucks kick up a toxic tsunami of dust that rolls up the yard and to the house.  I have taken to gardening in a face mask.
Lots of standing around in between making
dust tidal waves

Rhubarb continues to grow

Oregano made it through the winter

At the halfway point in weeding (scalping)
the future flower bed
I took the remains of the covering off of the carport and bagged them up.  Nothing like masses of plastic shoved in plastic bags to make the blood run cold.  Sigh.  Ideally, I would like to get a solid garage building built, but the cost is prohibitive and what funds I have are stretched to the max on other projects.
I think it looks like an alien insect
Seeing as I have two willing minions (sisters) who are eager to help me with projects, I have started a new list.  My youngest sister, now ensconced in Vermont until it's safe to go home (NYC), will be intermittently staying with me to break up the monotony.  My middle sister will be here when she has a break.  Woot!  We are being careful not to put ourselves in harm's way, given the fact of our elderly mother and extremely susceptible BIL. 
My sweet Linden
I am having to hire an arborist to cut back my hybrid willow bushes.  My neighbor, who usually does it, turned 85 and I will not have him out there risking life and limb.  Besides, the arborist is gorgeous.  If I was 40 years younger, I'd have a go.  Heehee. 

Inside, the knitting continues.  I just finished a pair of shortie socks for one sister and will be casting something new on as soon as I can decide what it will be - so many projects!  More progress has been made on the little house and I hope to have it finished by the end of next week.  Then I can start on the little furniture and stuffie family members - I think bunnies.

Speaking of bunnies, what are you doing for Easter this year?  It's an entirely new landscape and I am wrestling with the decision of whether to spend it in VT or stay home.  As much as I hate to disappoint my mother, I think it would be wiser to keep my distance.  I'm definitely going to need a whole lotta jelly beans this year.

I hope you are all safe and well, and finding joy where you can,

Monday, March 30, 2020

Lots of musing going on.

Firstly, I want to thank those of you who reached out to see if I was still alive and well.  Yes and yes.  My silence was due to the fact that I am slow to adjust to being turned on my head.  I've gone through all the stages - I'm sure you can relate - denial, worry, wine, worry, potato chips, worry, ice cream, worry, chocolate, worry and now I am settled on pretty much adjusted.  As long as no one starts hoarding coffee, I should be okay.

As is required in my state, I have not been out, with the exception of one bout of grocery shopping for the month ahead, to deliver eggs to a friend (those of us with chickens are becoming very popular - too bad I didn't know this in high school), and a quick stop to check on my sister and mother - blowing kisses at them from across the room.  I did bake a birthday pineapple upside down cake for my neighbor who turned 85.  Since his family couldn't be there, I spent a couple of hours with him, at a distance of six feet.

I am lucky to be able to work from home, so my paycheck will continue.  That is good news, as my favorite local restaurant is allowed to offer margaritas to go.  I worry about the local small businesses and how they are faring through these unprecedented times.  It underlines - for me - the importance of giving them my business.

So far, the novelty of having me around 24/7 has not worn off for the dogs.  More's the pity.  They shadow me constantly.  I'd go outside more often, but it's been raining almost every day.  We're all getting a bit stir crazy.

When I did go out, I discovered that the front yard had been invaded by a population of gophers over the winter.  That, or the entire population of voles and moles on the Eastern coast.  It's unbelievable!

There has been cooking.
Cheesy Cuban Chicken
And baking

Paleo blueberry muffins
And finishing things I had started (oh, say, five years ago....)
Not quite finished, as it has a long way to go.  Years ago, I had made three of these little doll houses - which includes furniture and a mouse/bear/bunny family - and sold them in a consignment shop.  Unfortunately, they were a huge hit and I realized that I could not possibly keep up with demand.  Now I am doing it just for fun.  I'll take pictures as I go along.

So.  I will post more regularly and with more pics as my NEW PHONE has a better camera.  Yes, as these things often go, my phone started to die two weeks into this isolation.  Since no stores are open, I had to get a new one via virtual chatting.  Geez. 

I hope you are all safe and well and not going bonkers.  As someone very wise once said, this is a great time to finish things you've started.  So far, I've finished a bottle of pinot noir and I'm eyeing a bottle of sauvignon blanc.  Heehee.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Individual Cocooning - the New Social Distancing!

Social Distancing

Individual Cocooning
I will say one thing about the general chaos that has struck this nation, it is tending to bring out the better side of people (with the exception of the selfish idiots who stripped the shelves bare - you know who you are.)  A plethora of posts have popped up on FB that have people offering to pick things up and do errands for those who are safest at home.  People are buying gift certificates from small local businesses who have been forced to close - giving them a slim lifeline until the danger is passed.  It is heartening.  I have started seeds, if for nothing more than to make myself feel more hopeful.  I am still commuting to the office, although that will change by the end of the week, I feel.  It's a good thing I pack in my lunch, as all restaurants are closed.

These are interesting times.