Monday, December 1, 2014

Contented

 Spinning wool as soft and as white as Santa's beard.
 Grandchildren with chubby cheeks to kiss.
 Flowers from my husband celebrating the day we met.
 Rows of owls on the brim of a hat, waiting for little button eyes.
 Summer spinning, finally plied and skeined.
 Apple sour cream pie for Thanksgiving.
 Fluffy plied yarn, ready to knit or dye.
A little red felted bird to keep me company while I spin.
I hope everyone takes time to enjoy the wonders of the season.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Gifts from the Heart

 Herbed Sea Salt (Sala Moia)
Course natural sea salt, whirled in the food processor with chopped garlic, fresh sage and rosemary from the garden. Spread out to dry for two days stirring occasionally. Store in clean glass jars.






























Saturday, November 1, 2014

Make your own Hydrangea and Herb Wreath

 

First, I bent a wire coat hanger (which happened to be white) and bunched up branches of Sweet Annie that I bought at Rhinebeck. I wrapped as I went with green, light gauge wire, bending down branches and cutting off stray bare pieces. Then I pulled bunches of flowerettes from my Lime Light hydrangeas and wire them in small bouquets around the herb wreath with the same wire in one continuous strand. If you plan to make a hydrangea wreath, wait until around the end of October when the flowers have changed color - before they dry out completely. There are some brownish petals but most are still full of water - where the "hydra"angea gets it's name. My wreath is drying in my unheated garage where it's hanging out of direct light. I plan to give it a good spray with some extra hold hairspray before I bring it in to hang in my craft room. The Sweet Annie will scent my craft room deliciously!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Pink-tober and the "Girls"

My OBGYN recently gave me an authorization slip for my annual mammogram. I told her that this year I was thinking about skipping it. I've been having one, almost without fail, for over 20 years. I've had false positives, been sent to the surgeon for evaluation ("You're going to stick a needle where? No, think not..."), been called back for re-checks ("Come back in six months and we'll look again."),  I've been told I had dense breasts. I've been told that they're not dense. I've been told that the type of breast cancer my mother had was not a genetic disease. I've been told the radiologist had to keep an eye on some calcifications. I've been told that calcifications are normal unless they're looking like they're getting organized. So far, they're not. My OBGYN felt no lumps and neither have I. I hardly take a Tylenol without being concerned about side-effects. What must 20 plus years of radiation aimed directly at the girls be doing to me? Do I seem confused? Not a decision to take lightly. My OBGYN told me that some of her other patients my age (over 60) are re-thinking the annual trip to the radiologist for the "squeeze". She didn't think it was unreasonable and didn't seem especially troubled if I chose to skip a year. Now, I wouldn't want anyone to take this as medical advice. We should all consult our own physicians on a regular basis and make these decisions with professional advice. I've been on a reduced carbohydrate food program (of my own design) since May and I've lost ten pounds and dropped my triglycerides by 40 points.  October is a great time to be reminded that we need to be aware of our health and take good care of ourselves. Now for some pink...










 



 











Saturday, October 4, 2014

Hidden Garden Jewel of Salem

The Nathaniel Ropes mansion on Essex Street in Salem, Massachusetts was built around 1720 and purchased by Judge Ropes in 1748. Judge Ropes (a British sympathizer) was dying from smallpox when the home was stormed by locals who were infuriated by the Tea Tax - although some accounts of history indicated that it was the fact that the judge had been inoculated with smallpox in an effort to be vaccinated against it. There is some indication that there was anger toward the judge by people both not able to afford the procedure and those who believed that he brought smallpox to their village. Either way, the judge died very soon after the attack. Some believe that his daughter Abigail's spirit still inhabits the house because of the awful way she perished...burned to death after her night dress caught fire. In spite of its sad history, this beautiful home is now owned by the Peabody Essex museum. Our trolley driver pointed the house out to my husband and me and told us about the lovely garden that lay behind a large wisteria covered gate. It's one of the hidden jewels of Salem and not to be missed. 

















Friday, September 26, 2014

Chouette chouette

I studied the french language all the way through elementary school and high school. That's 12 years, and more than half of my life by the time I graduated at the age of 17. We didn't learn much slang. Conjugating verbs was challenging enough. I know, as time goes on, street slang is added to every day language. "Cool" describes the temperature but just as often it describes something nice, wonderful, awesome (ugh...), terrific. It's a temperature - something can also be smok'in hot. I get it. But where did the French ever get the idea that the same word for "owl" should also be used as an alternative to "cool" or "smashing" or ugh..."awesome"!  I knitted a little "Chouette" for my 2 year old grandson (at his mom's request). I assumed la chouette was the french word for owl...I thought perhaps it meant "baby owl" so I looked it up. It was not a vocabulary word that was filed away in my brain somewhere. "Ou est la chouette?" "La chouette est tres belle." Nada. I finished it in a couple of days. It's a cool owl.



Friday, September 12, 2014

Passive Gardening


I did plant a few things in my garden this year. One was one hill of Charentais melons. They are a French heirloom that I bought from Baker Creek Seed Company. The reason I decided to try to grow Charentais was first, because they had a short growing season and I had a pretty good chance of ripening some before it got too cold. And second, because they were described as very sweet and a green market favorite. I'd never even seen one and wondered how I'd know when they were sweet. Have no fear - all you have to do is sniff. They are like a small, honey sweet cantaloupe without the netted skin. They have small seeds, they're very juicy and I had half of one for dessert last night.


Now this big boy was a complete surprise. It took me a while to figure out what he was and where he came from as I certainly didn't plant him. When I first saw the huge leaves and aggressive vines start to pop up, I thought for sure he was going to be spaghetti squash from the mistake I made a few years ago - before I was in the habit of buying one every week. I planted too many and they took over the whole patch. I couldn't even give them away. When it appeared that the squash hanging from my fence was a pumpkin, I was totally surprised but I let him live. He bullied his way through the cucumbers (who fought back valiantly with a crop I couldn't keep up with). But he was on his own. No other pumpkins evolved from those giant flowers.
 So, gradually, through the summer, my pumpkin turned from a pallid white to a creamy tan. And then I knew what he was and how he got into my garden. Two years ago I bought a lovely Long Island Cheese pumpkin from my local grocer. I bought it to sit on my doorstep because of its perfect shape and color. By Christmas, of course, he was compost and I never thought of him again. Until this summer when he arrived, unexpectedly in my garden patch. He's perfectly formed because he's another heirloom variety.

And boy, didn't I break my back to get all these lovely figs. Well, I did have a bit of trouble transplanting the tree into a larger pot when it kept falling over last summer. It was my son who actually worked the hardest when he picked the pot up out of the garage in May and dropped it next to the patio. I watered, spread some organic fertilizer and voila, figs!




When it's time to make my Blackberry Vodka, I'll show you my harvest from my canes. It's in the freezer for now. I think I need to put my feet up and knit for a while.