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Wednesday, July 27, 2022

The end of an era.

 

The Smith Kids

They always were a close family.  Right to the end.  My mother, Kit (Kathryn), her sister, Josie (Joan) and brother Jim all passed away within the last three months.  Mom went first - probably because she was oldest and always first - Josie went early last week and my uncle Jim passed away a few days later.  It has been a sobering time.

Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Salad, anyone?

 


This bad boy was in my vegetable box at my favorite farm's share table.  It measures 20" across!  Good grief!  It is now taking up a quarter of my fridge and I am busy researching salad recipes.  

Update on the next phase project - after a disappointing meeting with the local estate appraiser/auctioneer, we now have to sell/donate most of the parental furnishings ourselves.  Connie and I had a powwow yesterday and photographed everything, then sat down and tried to come up with fair prices and OBRO alternatives.  I am doing the posting and front work, and Connie will do the showing.  Why is it that all the interesting 'jobs' that one can add to their resume, come when one doesn't need a resume?

Meanwhile, my container garden is doing better than any in-ground garden I've planted in the last five years.  I may have found my gardening niche!

Monday, June 27, 2022

The dumpster has landed and other equally exciting news.

 It's amazing how short a week actually is, when you are under pressure to clean out a house, yard, barn, sheds, etc. in seven days.  A neighbor (who bought the farm that was once home to my Jersey cow, Jasmine) had started a roll-off dumpster business, so I tapped him.  We also put a dumpster at mom's to deal with the PAPER and all of the 30+ years of "stuff".  Luckily (not), we haven't had to deal with rain.  At all.  Ever.  Apparently, all storms have gone west, north and south of us.  I am once again very happy to have my rain barrel.

The heat has ramped up the growth in my assorted and numerous containers.

Scallions

Kale

Basil

Black cherry tomatoes

Some big tomato

Banana peppers


My tiny cilantro plant has morphed into a cilantro tree, as they do, the parsley is rampant, as is the thyme and oregano.  The rosemary is holding her own in a corner of the purple planter.

I have been restocking my free pile on a daily basis, but it is getting a bit onerous, as people insist that they need to me list everything available.  I do not have the time or inclination to do so.  There is a real frenzy for canning jars - I have given away at least five dozen and there are many, many more to go.  Apparently, an intervention was needed some time ago.

In non-moving news, this year's spring Assist (across the road) List was way longer than years past.  I am sure that it's due to my fairly non-stop driving at all hours of the day and the bliss of retirement.  It stands at:  12 turtle assists (11 red eared sliders and 1 small-thank goodness-snapping turtle); 4 adult geese assists across the main thoroughfare, 5 goose family assists across same, and one hair-raising gosling assist across the same damn road that could have gone badly.  Jr. was separated from his family and there was a lot of 60 mph+ traffic.  There weren't enough breaks in the flow to safely herd him across, so I managed to catch him and darted (okay, not exactly darted - havent done that in years - but I did achieve a fairly fast shuffle) to the other side, where I was attacked by his irate parents.  Harumph.  All I got for my trouble was goose poo down my shirt and a case of the wheezes.  Still....baby goose.

Not many specifics on the move, other than I am hoping to clear out everything I am not taking by the end of July.  Serendipity stepped in when my friend, Rosie, said that she was buying a house and needed to furnish it.  Yaaasss!  In a nutshell, I am moving from my little farm out in the sticks, to a house that is almost three times as big as this one, in an... xburb of a town in southern VT.  While the house is large, the land is small and I will have neighbors I can see for the first time in 16 years.  I will be bringing my container garden with me since there is not enough light for a garden at mom's, and the deck is huge.  The plans, at present, include getting the house ready for sale over the winter and then starting a hunt for a piece of property in the general area, where Connie and I will build our little tiny house complex.  Fingers crossed.  Of course, this is not an ideal time to move into a large house that is heated with fuel oil.  I see many layers of sweaters in our near future.

Peanut is not impressed with
the news of living in sweaters


Thursday, June 2, 2022

I may have gotten a little carried away.

 

Realizing that I may be leaving my garden when it is in full production, has propelled me into putting 99% of it in containers.  Just a few, I said.  Just the basics, I said.  Above is the 'herb garden'.  Lovely.  My deck now looks like this:



And that is only a sample.  I have, at last count, 27 containers.  It's a good thing I have friends with trucks.  I did put five tomatoes, spring peas and kohlrabi into the actual garden.  I also have lots of flowers planted just because.  Then, three days ago, I was looking out the front door, drinking in all the green-ness and saw THREE rabbits on the wrong side of the electric net fencing - that is, inside.  I shooed them out and realized they scampered - unimpeded - through the netting.  After a lot of trouble shooting, the problem seems to be that the outside electrical outlet is kaput.  I rummaged through my garden stuff and came up with a full bag of dried blood meal (ugh).  However, desperate times and all.  I sprinkled it liberally around the inside perimeter of the fence and crossed my fingers.  Day two saw no damage.  Day three saw the disappearance of all my kohlrabis.  I put row cloth on the peas and am going to have to put up a temporary fence inside my fence until I can replace the outlet.  If it would stop raining, I might get a chance.  

Weatherwise, we seem to have jumped past May, June and July and have landed in August.  Hot, hot, hot and humid, humid, humid.  My least favorite weather.




At least I don't have fur.  I will say that the hot weather, liberally interspersed with the numerous thunderstorms has made everything grow like mad.  And how is this for a thing of beauty:



This is the azalea that grows next to my friend, Zirel's front deck.  When I came up the driveway to pick her up, I almost drove into the woods, I was so bedazzled.  Nature is a wonderful thing.

Sunday, May 22, 2022

Cha-cha-changes!

 



What is that saying?  The only thing constant is change?  My little family is gearing up for a big one.  Due to lots of factors, The Sisters have decided that we should move north to the parental house in Vermont.  There is much to be done in order to get it ready to sell and we did not want to leave it vacant (even though my sister lives two houses away - another plus!).  As you can see, Officer Peanut is practicing neighborhood watch.  We had the occasion to stay overnight (sans Slimmie) and it was quite the experience.  If Slimmie wasn't such a siren in the car, we could ease our entire pack into the move, but it would be too traumatizing for all of us.

That said, I still have to deal with clearing out my house and selling it - and it's totally skewed my gardening efforts.  I opted for containers - I don't want to leave vege behind.  There is no set date at this point, but it will probably be towards the end of the summer.  With gas prices rising with no end in sight, I will not miss all of the driving.

Stay tuned.

Monday, May 2, 2022

Lots of this and lots of that.

 

As spring seems to refuse to assert herself, I doggedly keep starting seeds and accumulating plants.  My lemon tree looks longingly out of the window, wondering if she'll ever feel the soft breezes through her leaves (me, too).  All my window sills are full.  My dining room table is carpeted in green sprouts.  I've turned off the furnace and added a few dozen fleece blankets to the dog beds.  I refuse to turn the heat on past April 30.

After last October, when I discovered a tick a week for four weeks attached to various parts of my body.  I find myself hesitating when having to venture off the deck.  It's amazing that something so small can strike fear into something so large (damn pandemic pounds...)

My favorite farm store has opened.  My sister is experiencing an open schedule and freedom to do what she wants, when she wants, for the first time in seven years.  We are beginning to organize the parental home, although we can't get further in than the garage.  It doesn't seem right.  This is not too much of a problem, as the garage is full of 35+ years of flotsam - Dad saved everything.  We are starting at the bottom and then moving up.

Meanwhile, I am still finding myself getting the wellies on to go out and shut the chicken coop.  Of all the crew, I miss the chickens the most.  I do get to go and visit them and they are living the chicken dream, bless their hearts.

I am wading into the territory of estate lawyers.  I am the executor of my parents' will, so...hi ho.  Luckily, the house was deeded to my sisters and me, so it should (fingers crossed) be less involved.

Connie and I made our way to the Peace Pagoda, one of 3 (or 4?) in the United States.  Sunday was the Flower Festival, celebrating the birth of Buddha.  It was a glorious day and just what we needed.


P.S.  It finally happened.  I overheard a conversation where the ratio of words to "like" was, like, 1:1.  I was so fascinated and mesmerized by hearing "like" every other word, that I couldn't really tell you what was being said.  Like.  You know?

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Mom. 1923-2022. Still not long enough.

What a beauty.

 Mom passed on to her next adventure on April 9th.  It was both expected and a shock.  The three of us are feeling rather untethered from reality at the moment, but we are so very lucky to have had so much time with her and to have so many wonderful memories.  And to have each other.

My favorite photo of the two of us.
Wish I could remember why we were laughing.


Tuesday, April 5, 2022

Still here. More or less.

 

One of my favorite photographs
of my mother


My mother is on her way out of this life and onto another adventure.  From her long, one-sided conversations that seem to take up all of her time, she's going to have to work hard to straighten everyone out.  I'll be off-line for a while - until we've seen her safely off.

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Thar she blows!

 It's been gloriously warmish and sunny over the past few days.  So, so difficult to keep from running amok with spring fever.  I've started more seeds - flowers this time - three kinds of sunflowers, sweet peas, zinnias, and balloon flowers.  I allowed myself to be thrown under the power of the poppies in the Bakers Creek catalog.  There should be a warning label on that catalog.

Of course, our forecast calls for ice, sleet and snow tomorrow, into Thursday.  Le sigh.  However, today the sun is out full-tilt, but it has gotten pretty nippy.  I was out with the garden cart earlier, starting on the megajob of hauling out a few (hundred) loads of chicken flotsam from the coop and looking forward to a cozy fire in the fireplace, when a hellish dry wind whipped up and distributed most of a cart load in every direction for miles (my neighbors can thank me for the free fertilizer).  It's one of those dangerous zero-humidity high winds that can take a spark and create an inferno.  I'm hoping none of my neighbors decided to burn their Christmas trees today.  There's a steady wind, but there are also gusts that are strong enough to blow the hair off your head (especially if it's loosely attached...)  No fire for us tonight.

I had forgotten to keep track of my Defensive Driving discount on my auto insurance and was shocked into action when I received notice that my monthly bill was going up.  I signed up for the AARP course because, as a member, I get a discounted rate.  The downside is that you are constantly made to feel that you have one foot in the grave and are a danger to all on the road.  Fergodsake.  They give you little pop quizzes to judge your level of decrepitude - totally bogus.  I answered all of them correctly and was treated to dire warnings that I need to see my GP about my declining mental and physical health.  The nerve.  Quite frankly, the only interesting nugget of information that I came out with at the end of the (brainfreezingly long) course was that tires have a shelf life of six years and you should ask your mechanic how old they are before buying them.

Speaking of cognitive health, I am taking a Spanish course online.  I know I am getting better at it because I am no longer answering in Anglo-Dutch-Spanish.  This reminds me of the time I went fly fishing with a girlfriend off the banks on Long Island, many moons ago.  We completely missed the LARGE no-fishing sign and were merrily casting away, when a F and G officer swaggered up to arrest us.  Probably not to arrest us, but he looked a bit menacing.  When he pointed out the sign, I started babbling in a mixture of Dutch/Spanish, nodding and smiling.  P followed suit, without the babbling.  He slowed his speech down to mono-syllables and upped the volume - NO FISHY HERE.   I babbled some more, both of us nodding and smiling, and we scampered back to P's car.  La phew.

For those of you who requested it, here is The Table:

It is presently, as you can clearly see, the hub of my garden-planning/seed-starting activity.


Friday, March 18, 2022

Spring is coming in on a musical note.

 I am basking in the glory of birdsong this morning.  Robins are everywhere, I have heard the all-important-to-spring redwing blackbirds, and today I heard my first bluebird.  O frabjous day!  I also noticed that the red squirrel has been chewing on the opening to the bluebird house.  Bloody rodents.

The back deck has received its first brooming and I hope there is time for it to dry before the rain starts tomorrow.  Both dogs are comatose, having spent a good half hour racing through the sheep paddocks, enjoying the space and smells.  

I am contemplating a gluten free Irish soda bread for Sunday dinner with my sister and mother.  Speaking of which/whom (mother) things are definitely on the downward slide.  It seems like someone flipped the dementia switch and there is very little conversing with her now.  There's a lot of back and forth to VT now and I'm trying to support my sister as much as possible.  Mom is going into comfort care at home and I am very grateful that Vermont has such a great elder care set-up and that my sister is such a rare gem.

Meanwhile, I've been starting seeds and just standing outside, taking deep breaths.  And trying not to think of ticks.

Another entry into my wacko life journal - yesterday, when I went to drop off Mom's tax info, I aimed my key fob at the door to unlock it and, instead of hearing the usual beep, I heard a Canada goose honk.  Pause.  Tried again, same thing.  But it was all in the timing - I looked up to see two geese flying overhead.  It made me think that Subaru should offer various animal sounds on their remote devices.  You could recreate an entire jungle in a parking garage!

My Irish wish to you all:

May the wind be always at your back and up your nose, and may your blessings outweigh your woes.

(Sometimes I just kill myself...)

Friday, March 4, 2022

Note to self: Act your age

 My wifi mysteriously went out a week ago and it's taken until today to solve the problem.  Let's not even consider how many hours of phone-hold time were involved.  At least Verizon has bearable hold music.  Or should that be bare-ably music...  In any event - here I am!

Not much of any significance has been going on.  There has been some knitting.

Matchy-matchy!

One pair down and another on the needles.

There has been cooking.

Sauteed mushrooms,  onions
and spinach

On a polenta base

There has been a lot of driving.

There has been Mom-sitting.  This also gives me more time with my middle sis, so all is good.  But, crikey!  Just shoot me before I hit 90.  The lifestyle is so slow, it goes backwards.

I have also been working on little projects/chores/niggly bits.  I repaired the squirrel damage (for now) to my squirrel proof bird feeder (an oxymoron, if I ever heard one),  I repaired the coop hen door, just in time for their exodus.  I started pepper and scallion seeds and am gearing up to start some early kale.

Speaking of kale - there will be something new in the garden!  If these babies come to be, I will be pinning a blue ribbon from the county fair on my lapel.,

Photo from Rareseeds.com

Oh, man, I can hardly wait to plant this!  Think of the salads!  I could feed the town - town, heck.  With enough of these, I could feed the state.  Especially since I doubt most of my neighbors would eat kale.

Since I was so wound up about my burst of get-er-done energy, I decided to tackle one job that has been on my list for far too long - tightening the legs on my dining room table.  The dang thing has been heaving and leaning in a most alarming manner for months.  I rooted around in my tools (organizing and downsizing of same is still on the list) and got my wrench kit.  Then I flipped the table on its side.  Oy.  Then I flipped it on its top/back.  Oy VEY.  I crept around all four corners, tightening bolts and whinging and whining, then realized I had to put it right side up.  This is no sissy table.  This is a bespoke (sorry, couldn't help myself) table built from Mexican door parts, with neato drawers for napkins.  It weighs a TON.  I managed to ignore it for a while, lying on it's back/top like a big pine turtle.  I vacuumed around it, made a cup of tea, did some knitting, but there was no getting around it (literally and figuratively).  It had to be righted.  I was having my neighbor over for dinner and it's the only dining surface in the house.  I doubted he would take to a picnic on the floor with the dogs.  At 88, it's not feasible to get up and down without help.  Heck, at my age, I have enough trouble myself.  So.... I pulled up my BGP and woman-handled it to its side, then braced a leg with my foot and heaved.  I managed it, but SweetLouise.  I do tend to forget that I am not 30.  Or 40.  Or 50.  You get the picture.  In my mind, I am ageless and invincible.  But that is the only place where those two qualities reside.

I administered Ibuprofen and adult liquids before bed.




Sunday, February 20, 2022

The power of prose.

Yesterday, we were hit with high winds and a snow squall and it made me nostalgic.

Way back in the day, on the cusp of my move from Ohio to the Netherlands, I had rented a room from a friend while my crated belongings steamed their way east.  She had a Victorian monster in the original settlement of Cleveland - Ohio City, on the Cuyahoga River.  This was one of those neighborhoods that was just beginning to rise from decay to decadence.  It wasn't even half way there at the time.  I sat in my garret room, surrounded by an alarming array of antiques and collectibles (alarming because a- they weren't mine, b- they were mostly fragile and c- I'm not known for my graceful movements), spending my remaining stateside days reading.  I happened to be reading A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle, while a blizzard raged outside.  About halfway through the book, I was overcome with a desire to dine on baguettes and Brie, washed down with a nice fruity (French) wine.  When I say 'overcome', I mean it.  I pulled on boots, hat, scarf, gloves, wool coat, and fought my way blindly through the snow until I reached the West Side Market, some 12 blocks away (including a bridge).   Let me say, here, that I miss that market something fierce.  Of course, the market was less glitzy when I was a customer, but it was like having a little pocket of Europe in your backyard.  

I got my baguette, my cheese and a cheap bottle of vino and battled my way back.  I finished the book, sitting on the floor with my repast.  Heaven.  


Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Good grief. Valentine's Day.

For most of my life, I have experienced Valentine's Day much as Charlie Brown experienced kicking that football.  Hope snatched away, right in mid-kick.  (Wah, wah, wah...)  Forget a sweetie pie, I've got friends who love me (you know who you are...xoxoxo).  To make this VaDa (to differentiate the day from the disease), even more special, I found out I was the victim of IT (unfortunately, NOT interterrestrial travel, but Identity Theft.)  I would have much preferred the former.

I suppose I should be happy that the perpetrator is not the sharpest tack in the box.  He/she opened a checking account online with another bank, in my name.  Fortunately for me, they had checks issued to my home address.  I have spent the greater part of today going from that bank, to my bank, and burning up the phone lines to all three credit bureaus.  I also reported the fraud to Federal Trade Commission and have tried to contact a human at the Social Security Agency.  After three tries, holding for 45 minutes each go-around, I gave up for now.  I'll tackle it early in the morning and hope to get a jump on the 500 million people they service.  It grates my fanny that this happened, but it was only a matter of time.  I am seriously considering life as a Luddite.  

On a sunnier note, we celebrated VaDa early and this is what made it special:

Resplendent in her VD outfit.

My youngest sis and her son came up from The City to spend the weekend with Mom.  At 98, we celebrate every day and every occasion.

I am so looking forward to Farch.  At least if it is less icy than January/February.  If it's not, it can go someplace else.  Just when I think I'm making headway on the ice accumulation, we get a spell of warmish weather, followed immediately by frigid weather.  I bet we have well over two inches of ice under the latest layer.  There was a lot of tree damage during the last ice storm and it looks like i may have to wait until April to clean up the branches.



I have the grid paper, garden journal, garden notebook and seed collection out on the dining room table.  I am ready for green things!



Thursday, January 27, 2022

The end of an era.

 


The moment he realized he had been
duped.

Linden left for his new home last Tuesday morning.  My shearer, Joe, came with his gooseneck trailer and loaded up the remaining hay and my boy.  Linden, sweet as he is, does not cooperate.  So, I had a big pan of "Waldorf" salad (chopped apple with some romaine lettuce) to lead him down the right path.  He would plant his butt, then I would waggle the bowl under his nose, we would go a few more yards.  Rinse, repeat.  We finally got him loaded, all cozy with the 80 bales of hay, and off he went.  I stood by the barn and bawled for twenty minutes.  Everything seems so quiet and empty now.  I realized that this is the first time in almost 14 years that there has not been a sheep on this place.  I am consoled by the vision of Linden tucked in a barn, cozied up with his new flock.

It's a good thing, too.  We have had Arctic temps both day and night.  I can't believe I feel like celebrating when the thermometer shows double digits above zero.  There is ice everywhere and I finally cleared out the carport so that I can tuck my car under cover.  We've had high winds, rain, sleet, freezing rain, and snow.  I have brought out all my seeds and am in the process of sorting through them.  Now that I have over an acre and a half of fenced in ground, I might attempt winter squash this year.

I've finished a pair of socks, knitted a few more catnip mice, and have started on a glorious alpaca yarn cowl for my sister.  


I'm trying to emulate my friend, Sam, and get myself whipped into gear to finish a few of the hundreds of projects in various stages of completion (or not).  Then there is the stack of books that I need to crack open. 

With this gloomy winter weather so far, it's nice to know there are bright spots waiting in the wings.


 

Saturday, January 8, 2022

I seem to be afflicted with AAOCKD.

 (Or more commonly known as ACK!)

Yes, I'm afraid it's true.  As the earth completes another go-around of the sun and I inch (if only) towards decrepitude, I have found that I am afflicted with Advanced Age Obsessive Compulsive Knitting Disorder.  I'm sure you already knew that, but I am slow on the upswing.


I stumbled upon a pattern for a catnip mouse toy and....have made about 20.  I even tried to refocus by starting on a pair of socks.  I made it to the heel, then knit two more cat toys.  Good gawd.  I will say they are Slimmie and Sadie Mae approved (a friend's lovely cat), so it's easy to justify the knitting of them.  Unfortunately, I only have one cat and I have made them for every cat I know.  If you all have a cat that is partial to catnip, send me an email.  I will be obsessing on these for a while.  Until the next shiny object comes along.

Winter was rather late in arriving, but it's making up for lost time.  We have had rain and fog, now snow and ice.  There have been some spectacular sunsets (no filters, honestly.)



This morning, I have watched the temperature fall from 6 degrees F, to - presently - 1 degree F.  They are predicting freezing rain tomorrow, which is just peachy, as I have to drive to the city to pick up a friend at the airport and then transport her to VT.  It's a good thing I learned to drive on the south shore of Lake Erie.  I am fairly adept at wintering on the road.

I am embracing the cold with a song in my heart because....


Is this not the most beautiful lap blanket EVER???  I tell you, besides the outstanding skill of the creator of this gem, the colors are fabulous.  I dare you to not have your spirits lifted at the mere sight of it!  Sam, you are such a dear.  I love it to death and refuse to share it with any of the kids.

Some randomness from the past few weeks:

Linden is going to his new home (fingers crossed) early Tuesday morning.  The fellow that shears my sheep is going to foster him with his little flock until he either finds a new home or passes to the rainbow fields.  I am so happy for him.  And it will be way better for his waistline, as I have been doling out a steady supply of guilt grahams.

The kids got some fantastic gifties from their Auntie C.  Peanut got quite possessive with the stuffie skunk and I had to pull out the back-up skunk to keep peace on the homestead.

ALL the toys are HIS

I cleaned out and organized the freezer in my fridge.


I rediscovered carrot rice.


2022 is gearing up to be a highly exciting year.  Snort.