Sunday, August 30, 2015

In Days So Deep In The Past

Jane Nicholas mirror.

I was once a crewel work stitcher.  And If I had know about things like the above mirror, I think I would have either been intimidated or inspired.  I hope----- inspired.

I especially love the upper left.  The white puff and the blackberries.  The insects are lovely as well.
I still have three little crewel works--simple vegetables--that have escaped the "tossing" that happens with each house move.  I don't know where they are--exactly--but I think they still exist.

I added this masterpiece to my picture file--to nudge me into trying, one more time.  To create beauty with threads of wool.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Autumn In The Air

The mums are here.  Well, at work.  In the parking lot.  Once the mums arrive--the air seems to change, getting cooler, drier and the days seem shorter.  "the end is near"

We have loads of Russian Sage on the perennial tables at the front of the store.  The tall, light blue
plant behind the sage.  Here in my Town it's actually referred to as the "Kentucky Fried Chicken Plant" because, at this time of year, the parking lot is dominated by the HUGE shrubs of Russian sage at the KFC.  

Customers see the huge billows of blue and WANT one.  They come to my work place and ask for the KFC plant.  Truth be told---I had to get in the car the first year this happened--drive to KFC, and then look at, smell and finally clip a branch.... for research purposes.  And to identify the plant.
Now, I know.  And I make sure to stock plenty at this time of year.

As is always the case, I cannot, for the life of me, grown Russian sage.  None of the five plants I have here at my house have ever gotten more that 6 inches tall and rarely, if ever, have they made any blue flowers.  We finally decided to move them to the highest, sunniest, driest spot on our property.  The circle of dirt that is the end of the driveway.  They are alive.  Which is all I can say about them.

I would LOVE to have waves of tall, blue branches.

The zucchini plants are slowing down.  The cucumbers made a big effort and are now--well, they don't seem to be doing much of anything, but a second planting is already tuning up.  No yellow squash but they also have a second planting waiting to get going.  The tomato plants look ragged and sad with a few tomatoes turning color each day.  I finish them off in the sunroom.  (meaning they turn red in the sunroom). Carrots from the first of many failed plantings are ready.  Beets are ready but I am waiting until I want to oven roast them.  Still too warm.

I harvested 12 plums from my very slow to grow plum tree.  First fruit in ALL the years we have owned it.  G moved it 2 years ago and it seems to being saying thank you.  The plums are small but very good.  And no worms hiding inside.  Not enough to re-create my grandmother's plum kuchen.
She grew plums just so she could make plum kuchen.  And it was so delicious.  As was her handmade apple strudel.   I have thought about an apple tree.  And using one of the crab apple trees  we already own as a pollinator.

Seven fat quarts of blueberries in the freezer.  I should make a blueberry cake for the gang at work. Or at least try a blueberry spinach smoothie.  Yuck.

Or a blueberry vanilla protein powder smoothie with some Greek yogurt.  Or just yogurt and blueberries.  Or, better yet---blueberry pancakes.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Time To Go Shopping

All the "back to school" advertising makes me want to go stock up on index cards, Sharpie pens and glue sticks BUT I got so much of that for Christmas, I don't need any.

I also feel the urge to go shopping for clothes at Goodwill.  Almost all of my clothing is bargain shopped.  I don't care to buy retail anymore.  Not that I "need" anything.  The closet is packed with 20 cent pants and tons of $2 shirts from the "retail job" a few years back.

It's just that "back to school" was such an exciting time when I was growing up.  New clothes, new shoes, fresh notebooks and pencils.  A Fresh Start.

Like all the mistakes and failures of the previous school year (and there were so many in my life) were erased and I could start over-- a do over--- fresh.  It never quite worked out that way.  I had a tendency to repeat the mistakes over and over.  Procrastination.  Oh, that was always my biggest problem.  I'll study tomorrow.  Start that paper next week.  Read that book--well, never.

Not so much anymore.  At work I tend to get right down to business and get the projects done. Here at home I tend to get the canning, cooking, cleaning, washing up, done.  The annual taxes?  Not so much.  That's when I procrastinate.  Books?  Love to read and hate to stop once I begin.

I have a site in the sidebar with a recipe for zucchini salad using a "spiralizer" something I have wanted but didn't buy.  During my low carb time period--the long zucchini noodles would have been a delight served with meatballs and sauce.  Long enough to twirl around the fork.  But I am not doing low carb.  In fact, I had better decide what I am doing as I have a weigh in at the doctor's office in 2 months.

The garden really "enjoyed" the past three days of rain and high humidity.  I have a pile of cucumbers to work with, more zucchini and fewer yellow squashes (after I make pickles--I actually have little need for zucchini and would prefer to have too many yellow squashes).  Contrary to food writers--the two are NOT the same.  Tomatoes are beginning to show some color (other than green) and the peppers are starting to turn red as well.  I have carrots and beets I can dig up.  All in all, the garden is showing signs of getting tired and ready to call it quits, though it still looks good and the basil plants are thriving and producing large leaves.  So Not the usual in my garden history.

I made a very large pot of ratatouille on Saturday.  This time oven roasting the yellow and green summer squashes and the cubed eggplant until all the watery juices had roasted away.  Then I sautéed an onion from my garden and garlic from my garden on top of the stove and then scooped the oven roasted veg into the pot and mixed in a can of Trader Joe's excellent marinara and a handful of fresh from the garden basil leaves.  It was super wonderful.  I think I will make it again and freeze it in portions to enjoy this winter with spaghetti or rice or beans.

I guess, in the summer, my diet is mostly vegetarian.  Which is a good thing.

Now, back to shopping.  I need an eggplant and a few limes.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

The Sun Came Out And It's Super Humid

I made another 7 pints of zucchini bread and butter pickles this morning and shredded three more zucchini to make fritters.  Then I sprayed Riley and myself with bug spray (his is 100% organic and mine isn't) and off we went for a walk.  I also took a bottle of water and riley drank most of it. We saw two dogs, a jogger, a family on bikes and a bazillion deer flies.

Now Riley is spread out in front of the A/C unit.  I am poised to create lunch for myself and then read.  My book is due on the 24th.  A deadline.

Last night as I went to bed (after watching the Bruce Willis movie 12 Monkeys), my last thought was--Sunday paper in the morning.  Only today isn't Sunday.  For some reason, being home alone (no husband) has made the ONE day I have had off so far, seem like two.

The picture above is of a cucumber.  Finally, I am getting a decent crop of cucumbers every two or three days.  I have eaten quite a few cucumber sandwiches, made a half gallon jar of refrigerator dills, and a large bowl of sliced cucumbers mixed with sour cream and dill and I have a large bag of cucumbers in the fridge waiting to be used up.

Same deal with the zucchini.  After worrying myself into a state (I can do that) thinking I wouldn't have enough zucchini to make pickles for the winter--I now have way too many and 20 pints of pickles in the closet.

Last summer I made a run to the grocery every few days to get eggplant and made the excess zucchini into ratatouille.  So, I am getting my shoes on and am off to buy an eggplant and some corn. I saw a lovely recipe for Mexican roasted corn nachos.  Got to have some!!!!

In reunion news:  G picked up (on purpose) another guy's name tag at the "ice breaker" last night and introduced himself as that guy until he finally had enough fun and told them who he really was.  They didn't believe him. He also said his wife was home taking care of "our little boy".  Now, that got them going.

G is now on the planned trolley ride (he didn't want to go) around downtown Cleveland with other classmates he met at breakfast who talked him into it.  He says, so far, it was a good decision.  My question: who do they think he is now? I bet there are people who actually attend reunions--falsely-- and have a ton of fun pretending--and it does seem to have been quite a lot of fun for G.  ( make it even odder--he was class president).  See, it's always best to choose happiness.

Friday, August 21, 2015

When Things Seem To Be Going Wrong

G has gone back to his hometown for his 50th high school reunion.  Things aren't going well.  He had things planned but they aren't working out.  Today--he's going to the Rock "N Roll Hall of Fame to buy a tee shirt for his collection.  He has most of today and all of tomorrow to fill.  There are a few other museums he can visit and a movie theater close to his hotel--so a movie?

He's hoping to connect with someone at the opener "ice breaker" tonight.  Perhaps some other "out of towners"  to do something with--at least lunch.  He has no family to visit.

I paid bills, washed clothes, walked the dog etc and now, instead of canning more zucchini pickles and getting all hot and sweaty, I'm going to sit in the air conditioned comfort of my couch and read a book.

Choosing happiness.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Heat Wave

We can't really complain.  Here in Maine.  Nothing's on fire.  Last August was very chilly.
But, still.  It's hot.  Humid.  And I was at work in a glass greenhouse.  UGH!!

Yesterday---when it was also hot--- I walked, gardened, sliced the heap of new zucchini (rather than waste them--I'll just make more pickles and give them to everyone for Christmas), fried the yellow squash with onions until it was all lightly brown and delicious--- which can take over 2 hours. In other words--I spent way too many hours in the kitchen near a hot stove.  And then, an equally long time washing all the dishes.

I also made crab apple juice and strained the pulp in a jelly bag.  I have 4 cups of beautifully pink juice that is also quite tasteless.  I put the jar of juice in the fridge.  Waiting for inspiration.  Will the addition of sugar make it taste like something???  Has anyone tried making crab apple jelly?

I also picked more blueberries.  I'll have 6 quarts (packed full) of blueberries when this last bit has frozen.  Last August (when the fridge didn't work) I had packed up 11 fat quarts in the loaner fridge out on the porch.  Then, when the fridge worked again-----whoa--where to put the frozen berries when Loew's came for the loaner??? So, I made jars and jars of blueberry jam--which is seriously delicious.  I actually would like to use some blueberries to make pancakes. I love blueberry pancakes.

G has graciously done the watering in the garden.  He also cut the grass late in the afternoon.  I carried three full tubs of garden/vegetable "stuff" from the kitchen to the compost pile along with the bag of shreds from the shredder (junk mail).  Wet and dry.

The dog is stretched out on the carpet.  I am tempted to take a long cool shower but I promised to haul hose and water the front garden beds.  Sigh.  Then the shower.

Stay cool.  (oh, and I finally got brave and reworked my reader list--- gold star for me!)

Friday, August 14, 2015

Between 70 and 80

I will get to the point of the title of this post eventually.  But I seriously LOVE this porch screen door.  

When my son was visiting he was trying to modify the "issues" my husband I have, regarding the sharing of the computer that I like to "call" my own (because I bought it).  I don't like opening the screen up and finding my husbands stuff.  And not mine.  The biggest issue was my husband saving pictures to the cloud.  So, in the calm and placating moments son and I discussed my issues--he remarked "you have way too many pictures in this file".  (711)

My reply?  "I had more--I just deleted half" (or I just think I deleted half)

He was speechless.

Gotta collect pictures of stuff like speechless children.

Now, to the title.  I have many amazingly open conversations with customers at work.  Not all the time. But often enough that it makes going to work--worthwhile.  One day this week an elderly woman and I were discussing age.

I feel very good for my age (one month shy of 69) but my customer assured me that the problems arrive between 70 and 80.  Things change and not for good she assured me.  And then patted my shoulder and suggested I enjoy my health while I still had it (one year and one month).  I felt like I had just had a psychic reading.

So now I am worried.  Now.  I wasn't before.  I was just going along, happy as a clam (no one  knows why a clam is happy) and now I am left wondering.  I want to ask people who "appear" to be between 70 and 80 if things are indeed trending downward.

Today I weighed the pros and cons of stopping in a parking lot on the way home and picking ripe crabapples (golf ball sized ones) from a tree that was dropping apples all over the asphalt.  Was I trespassing or foraging?  Anyway.  I now have a large bag of crabapples (barely dented the number on the tree and passersby didn't call the police or they did and the police haven't found me yet) and I am planning to try making crabapple jelly.  If done correctly it is a clear pale pink.

I intend to make every effort to "do it correctly".  Pale pink is one of my favorite things.

I am also thinking of using the carrot top greens to make meatless free meatballs (Food 52) and zucchini to make a green curry zucchini soup (101 Cookbooks).  Today, on the way to work, I purchased soft white bread and mayo and made cucumber sandwiches for lunch.  With my own home grown cucumbers.  Only way to roll.  The sandwiches were outstanding.  My first time eating a cucumber sandwich.  Why did I wait so long????

Watched Disney/Pixar's Ratatouille last night.  The movie.  Loved it.  As usual.  So now I need to also make ratatouille.

Monday, August 10, 2015

How Can I Make Summer Last?

Here in Maine, the nights are cooler already.  Today is sunny and breezy.  Perfect weather.  I just got home after 2 hours of walking and chatting with my friend from the library.  We found a brook and a bridge on an (unknown to us) Town path.  It was lovely to hear the water bubbling under the bridge.

I should be in the garden watering.  We haven't had any rain for quite a few days now and things seem rather dry.  I have onions I can pull out of the garden but nothing else is ready.  No squashes.  No tomatoes.  No peppers.  I must wait.  The walk has tired me out.  My fingers feel stiff and arthritic. I feel older.

I wish I owned the hanging light fixtures in this picture.  I wish I had the blackboard in my kitchen listing things in the fridge and freezer.  Mentioning errands needing doing.  Listing phone numbers for friends and family.  I wish I had more time at home.

I think I am ready to stop working (outside my home). LOL

It just happened.  I wasn't even considering it.  And then there it was, like I had decided I was ready while I wasn't even conscious of thinking about it.

I think moving all my art supplies, fabric, felt and thread upstairs--actually handling my supplies--awakened old dreams.  Old plans to paint every day.  Old plans to finish things I began so long ago.
Sorting my paint brushes, pans of watercolors, colored pencils.  Set aside.  Forgotten.  Even my jars of beads whispered to me.  When will you have time for us again??

I can't make summer last any longer that it has ever lasted.  I can't live longer than my expiration date. But I can choose to spent my time doing things that are creative and pleasurable.

Stay tuned.

Sunday, August 09, 2015


I entered this in the 10 X 10 last September and it didn't get purchased.  I still wonder what was wrong with it.  Too pale?  Not enough on the right side?  A mistake having the tall stem going off the left side?

My astrology guide for this month suggests August 11th will be amazing.  I will be crowned celestial favorite.  So far, in this astrology guide--I have not been gifted with any of the dazzling wonders suggested for my sign. Perhaps someone will bake me a pie?

My past retail employer is filling the papers with ads for employment but I have received no "invitation" to reapply.

My list of rejections grows.

I have received news that I should whittle my closet down to 10 items of clothing.
That I should be filling quart canning jars with salads to take to work.
That I don't meet the criteria to be gluten free.

Saturday, August 08, 2015

August 8th- The Re-entry

To life.  I was kinda in a holding pattern as we got ready for my son's visit, had the visit and then were sad that the visit was over.

Now, it's the hubbub of garden life.  The watering, the picking, the weeding.  Then the slicing, salting and pickling of the zucchini (7 jars this morning).   The slicing, the cooking and the eating of the fried yellow summer squash (a huge kettle full sliced after the pickles came out of the canner).  The watering, worrying and waiting for the first tomatoes.

I've gathered up the shallots and garlic and have them "curing" in the heat of the garage.  In that empty space I have planted 8 French eggplants.  Supposed to be lavender with white stripes. I saved three squash plants (acorn, butternut and buttercup) from the dumpster at work and planted them where the pea stalks (and weeds) were.  We'll see if they are grateful enough to produce a few squash each.  I love roasted butternut.  In fact, as soon as the roasting tray is out of the oven I start eating the little cubes--and then they are all gone.  Next summer I want to plant pattypan.  The yellow "flying saucers" that I saw on a vegetarian cooking program.

I am a vegetarian all summer long--- except when I crave a hamburger. (smile)

We watched the 2 hour finale of Poldark and I was left feeling sad and cheated.  Who knows when PBS will air the next 8 episodes????  It's unfair to make us wait a year or more to find out what happens.   I am also watching Last Tango in Halifax and found the tire changing scene and the chat in the bathroom with the bride to be very well written and acted.  Regarding not being sure if she wanted to get married--the bride was assured that there was always the possibility of a divorce.

I also am watching Mr. Robot.  But I am not quite sure what is going on (though I am really trying to follow the dialog).  I do know that most of the characters are seriously "mental" as my friend P always says when describing her family.  I am missing the usual summer shows--Longmire, Covert Affairs, Perception.  Have they all been cancelled?

The squash has cooked down by half, so I added butter.  I have to decide whether to pick and pickle the yellow Hungarian hot peppers today or wait for more peppers to turn a bit orange. G purchased a huge jug of vinegar for me and another 10 pounds of sugar.  Preserving uses up a lot of sugar.

I could also go out and pick blueberries.  Not as many as last summer but enough.  I have imagined baking a blueberry cake (and taking it to work).  Blueberry pancakes.  I already have two quarts in the freezer. G also purchased a 10 pound bag of flour for me.  In case I felt like making more whoopee pies.  Very popular.

Looks like I may be lucky enough to have fennel seed this year--if I can collect it before the birds eat it all.   I am hoping for pickling cukes--enough for a large jar of pickles--as I have an abundance of dill this year.

Well, I have bored you enough with my garden.  I will now take off my apron and go out and pick berries.  Water.  Weed.  Then shower and read after I fold laundry.

I have three days in a row off.  Love it.

Monday, August 03, 2015

Summer Squash Days

I have been picking summer squash every three or four days.  I have 8 pint jars of zucchini bread & butter pickles in the storage closet.  And enough yellow squash for a pot of fried (southern) squash to eat with rice.  It would be best with a big, ripe juicy tomato but there aren't any in my garden.

Today is the last day of my son's visit.  It was so VERY nice.  We cooked together--a cherry pie and two days worth of chicken potstickers.  Yesterday we did the Sunday paper Suduko together.  I wasn't at my best--I'll blame fuzzy thinking on my allergy tablet.  I will miss him when he drives away at noon.  I'll even cry a little bit.  He's easy to love.

Then I will be making the vegetable rice salad from Silver Palate cookbook for my lunches this week at work and pumpkin whoopee pies for my greenhouse co-worker who celebrated her birthday yesterday.  C will miss the excitement of making confectioner's sugar in the Vitamix.   I have regular sugar but no powdered for the filling.

G and Riley are having their walk.  Only an hour left.  Better spend it talking.