Monday, September 23, 2019

I can explain.

You will notice, of course, that this is NOT a photograph of the Shaker Museum or anything remotely Shaker-ish.  This, instead, is a pictorial description of how I felt, sitting in the Wash House at the Shaker Museum Mount Lebanon.  No matter how good my intention to arrive early and look around, I only managed to rush into the venue at the last second.  And we were sitting in a large wooden building with no open windows, sun pouring through those closed windows, working with wool and it was 88 degrees with 125% humidity.

Unbeknownst to me, there are multiple Shaker sites.  In my stubborn, itty-bitty, single-minded head, I ventured out on Saturday (with plenty of time, I thought) to the Hancock Shaker Village in MASSACHUSETTS.  Never mind that every reference to the event was for the Shaker Museum Mount Lebanon in NEW YORK.  When I arrived in MASSACHUSETTS, the one alert brain cell managed to struggle to the foreground and yell "Hey, you!  Where did it say Massachusetts on that invitation???"  I sat for a moment and then pulled out the GPS.  Son of a gun.  There was another Shaker site a mere 8 miles away - in New York.  By the time I actually got within range (many sharp right turns and poor signage), I followed a Prius out of desperation, thinking that the driver - a woman around my age - looked like she might be a knitter.  How is that for logic?  I was right, and we both followed more poor signage until we made it to the Wash House.

In spite of the sultry weather, it was a thoroughly enjoyable couple of hours and I was disappointed when it was time to go.  I managed 3/4 of one square to everyone's two completed squares, but I have never been a fast knitter.  **This reminds me of a video clip I saw some years ago - there was a Europe's Fastest Knitter (don't quote me on the name) contest and a young Dutch woman had been training intensely for the event.  It had come down to this determined young woman and a grandmotherly contestant from the Shetland Islands.  It was interesting to watch them - the young woman working herself into a hot mess, while the SI knitter sat serenely, knitting needles a blur.  She won.  It's nice to know - when you reach a certain age - that experience counts for something.  Too bad it hasn't sharpened my sense of direction.

I got my first local apples of the season this weekend and whipped out a GF apple cake yesterday.  It was mighty tasty.  I had a friend over for dinner - she has devoted the past 30+ years to bringing an endangered breed of cow back from the brink of extinction, single-handedly - and is now struggling because it is expensive to feed them and, since she is still doing it alone, she cannot have a full-time job and raise cattle.  She is a year older than I and I really don't know how she does it.  Still working through my freezer (I wonder where I stashed my family of 8?), I made a beef stew in the slow cooker with Randall beef, sweet onions, organic local carrots, and local shiitake mushrooms, cooked in red wine with herbs.  This was served over garlic mashed potatoes with an awesome shredded carrot and orange salad.  Yummo!  I always make plenty so that I can send dinner guests home with leftovers.  Then the dogs and I crashed after washing up (they are so helpful...)

And now?  Back to the grind!

Friday, September 20, 2019


I would have been a lot happier about it being Friday, if the thermometer wasn't registering 38 degrees.  I shouldn't complain, as the morning before (actually - more middle of the night) was 33!!!  Since I do not have television, listen to the radio or read the news, I would have completely missed the Frost Warning.  Because, it is mid SEPTEMBER and I am not thinking about things freezing yet.  I happened to be procrastinating doing my evening chores and was thumbing through Facebook.  On a local news channel story, I saw the red banner - Frost Warning.  I looked at the date of the article to see if a) it was fake news and b) if it was real news, but from last year.  No such luck.  It was real news and it was actually going to get low enough for the chance of frost in mid SEPTEMBER.  (You can see that I am still in denial.)  Sighing mightily, I slogged off to get covers for the lemon tree, fig tree, basil, and mandevilla vine.  By the time I was finished, my deck looked like the dress rehearsal for a Halloween play.

I was very glad I forced myself out of denial and into reality.  The top of the lemon tree's sheet was frozen.  There was ice on my windshield!  Holeygeezloueeze.  Yes, yes, I know, Joyce.  But -- again -- mid SEPTEMBER.  Now that I am on alert, I check the weather each evening.  It looks like the next week or so is back to more normal night time temperatures.  I should hope.

I have had to rummage around and find sweaters in the morning, then peel them off mid-day, as the temperatures go back into the high sixties/low seventies.  I have yet to go out into the garden to see if there is any frost damage.  I may get up in the wee hours but, since we already are down to six hours of daylight, I don't end up with time enough to do more than basic chores in the morning before work and it's dangerously close to darkness when I get home.  Last night, after work, I met someone to hand off a cast iron frying pan (I did feel that having five was a little too close to hoarding), then swung by my neighbor's to pick up a block of feta that he picked up from BJ's for me.  I paid over $4 for a small, dinky piece of feta at the local grocery store and this bad boy is over two pounds (think 2/3 of your standard brick but in cheese form) and was $10.  Pfft.  I am going to miss my garden this winter - food prices continue to go up.

Tomorrow, along with my weekly trip to Goodwill and swing by the parental palace, I am going to a free knitting clinic at a local-ish Shaker Museum.  I am determined to go out and meet new people, as I feel I am starting to lean towards feral.  I love this museum - it's a restored Shaker community in a lovely rural setting - and the clinic is to knit squares for a charitable cause.  What is not to love?  If I have my wits about me, I will take pictures.  Sunday will be a work day, but I am having a friend over for dinner in the early evening - that way, I will have to stop myself at a decent hour.  It's a sad state of affairs when you have to try and trick yourself - and it works.  I am hoping, also, to unload more items that are cluttering up my psyche (you know, avarice, gluttony, whiney-ness, hehe...)

Tuesday, September 17, 2019


I miss my view of cows when I do my daily run to feed the farm cats.  The landscape seems poorer without them.

With the departure of his dairy herd, my farmer becomes another casualty in the war on small farmers.  When I first moved to the area, there were small dairy farms dotted over the county.  My neighbor farmer was one of the smallest, yet he was the last one to fold.  He hung on by his fingernails because it was all he knew - it had been his father's dairy farm and his grandfather's before him.  Now the barn is empty, except for a few heifers and calves, and his prize Hereford bull (I now know from whence cometh the term "beefcake" - wowza!)  The farm is being leveled out, cleaned and tidied to hasten its sale.

Another local dairy farm - no longer housing a milking herd - has adapted by raising calves up to heifers for the big dairies.  They started in 1853 as a very diverse farm - cattle, sheep, poultry, swine and maple syrup production.  Over the years they diversified even further, by putting in a cheese house, producing wool, chickens, ducks, calves, pigs, lambs, and lumber.  In the 1960s, new laws governing necessary equipment for dairy farms in New York State (aka the "Nanny" State) forced farmers to either phase out of milk production all together or to focus on milk exclusively.  Once diversity was gone, farmers lost control over their futures.  There are now no small dairy farms in our county. 

On a happier note, the farm cat, Gracie, is letting me pet her!  It has only taken four years!  Sheesh.  Her current 'partner', a lovely orange striped fellow, is very feral and will not get within 10 feet of me.  I hope that whomever buys the farm is a cat lover.  I have set up a Plan B, however, and will work with a rescue to catch Gracie and see if we can place her in a home, while her current partner will most likely be placed as a barn cat. 

Last weekend I started the process of deconstructing my garden.  I can tell you that planting it in the spring is a whole lot more fun.  The days are warm, but the nights have gotten down to the high 30s already!  Hang on, there, Ma Nature!  It's only September! 

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Leveling out.

Things are finally settled into their normal state of controlled chaos.  Lovey has stopped standing outside of the closed guest room door and whining softly - which she did every morning that Els was here.  I believe she has given up hoping that Els would take her home with her and now has resigned herself that she's stuck here.  Heehee.
My furry, plump Velcro nugget continues to be glued to my side every morning and evening.  I am letting him soak up the love, before I upend his world again and take him to the vet for his annual checkup.  I'm sure he's going to need some dental work, so I am going to try to dovetail the two appointments.  I don't know that I can stand two round trips with the full siren effects in the car.

I canned 11 pints of crushed tomatoes and four half pints of sauce over the weekend.  I have another big pot of will-be sauce on the stove and a final counter top full of ripening tomatoes.  I may have to stay away from Marianne for a few weeks... poor me.

Objects are trickling out of the house - either on craigslist or to Goodwill - but it will be a long time before I am satisfied that things have been minimized. 

My furnace will be serviced tomorrow.  Winter is inevitable.  This is also the year of septic service, wherein I gaze in admiration at the blond Adonis who mans the truck.  Were I thirty years younger...

Laundry is caught up, beds have been changed to autumn apparel and I am ready to tackle my own apparel.  It's next up on the Purge List.

I leave you with pictures of Reggie (who seems to have a crush on Dimples the Duck), the Extreme Lounge Chair and Hopzilla.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

I was up. I was down. There was a lot of zucchini involved.


Right off the bat, I would like to say...
Amen, Lucy.  Amen.

It's very true, that time flies when you're having fun.  My week with Els was here and gone in the blink of an eye - and it was a darn good thing that we were forced to say goodbye quickly at the train station.  (Who's cutting the onions??)  It was a weepy trip home.

Just when I thought that I would be able to take a breather, this happened.

Second round of Marianne's tomatoes.

My own garden started producing!
I had to go back in for a bigger trug!

My neighbor dropped off a 'few' tomatoes
Then, this.
A dozen ears of corn, ready to freeze.

The first round of Marianne's tomatoes!

Once I was assured that Els liked zucchini, I pulled out the stops on my zucchini recipe repertoire.  There were zoodles, of course, and a find-sounding-but-meh-tasting savory vegetable cheesecake (heavy on the zucchini).  There was Lemon Zucchini Bread with Lemon Glaze, again.  There was Tomato and Cheddar pie.  There were Grilled Fish Packets with... yep.  There were smoothies for breakfast and cheese and bread for lunch.  There were MANY cups of tea.  There was peace and quiet.

And, there was...weeding.  Who knew that there was someone out there who LIKED to weed?!
Red noodle beans on the left; yard long
beans on the right.  Zucchini straight ahead.

The cosmos went crazy!

Dahlias and kale

Cucumbers and dahlias and...
no weeds!

Pepper bed with... no weeds!

The lovely Els.
I delayed in relating this exciting news until I knew she was safely in the Netherlands and couldn't be kidnapped by my gardening friends.

While we were lounging on the deck, discussing the true meaning of life and enjoying the hummingbirds, I suddenly found myself still talking to Els, but looking at the sky through the top of the pergola.  My deck chair had decided to become an extreme lounge chair.  I would have carried on talking, but all my blood was being pumped to my head.  Looks like I will be searching for 'new' deck furniture in the spring.  Having guests was also the key to my guest shower head going on strike.  I have very hard water and faithfully soak the shower head in white vinegar to keep it flowing.  Apparently, it had had enough.  I managed to get my handyguy to come down at 9P to wrest the thing off so that I could get to HD in the morning to buy a replacement.  He was then good enough to come back down to put it on.  Who knew Teflon tape was a thing?  So - shower is go, chair is gone.  But summer is over and my days of lounging are over, too.