Saturday, November 26, 2016

Counting Down To Christmas

The day after Thanksgiving and we are in it now.  Christmas.  The season of "making" which is, I think, much better than the season of spending.

I found (always amazes me what I own) a very pretty floral patterned 1940's table square to use for Thanksgiving Dinner. A deep fuchsia pink on cream.  After I worked harder on clearing off the table than I did on cooking the food. I have been thinking and talking about taking some of the textiles in the hall linen closet to a local store called "Hatch" and selling them (at a very steep discount) for less than I paid for them.  They cut the fabric up and use it to make things they sell.  Old quilts turn into pillow cases or other things.  Old holey cashmere sweaters turn into strange stuffed animals for babies.

I had no recollection of owning this particular tablecloth.  It looked and felt like it  had never been used or laundered. And, as I looked at it--I thought--what a pretty apron this would make.  How happy it would make me to wear it.  Use it.  Enjoy it.  An apron is something I could use.  A tablecloth for a bridge table isn't.

I have been asked to "clean" the greenhouse plants each day I work.  I haven't made any holiday boxes or wreaths on a daily basis.  Just once in a while.  So I pick blossoms off plants--making the plants look "fresher".  I think it makes them happier.  They seem to stand up straighter after I clean them up.  Lots of repotting.  I make each little plant and pot into a little "story".  Some get  moss to cover up the dirt (amaryllis) and others get a light topping of bonsai grit.  Some of the cactus get a mix of three to five tiny pebbles and washed sand on the surface of the soil.  I also get to make Bonsai Dish Gardens.  I love that.  Moss, interesting rocks I find up on the hill where we park our cars, bonsai grit.  Uneven surface, never flat.  A tiny hill.  A path.  A story.  A life.  Making Bonsai is where I often make my best tips.  I would LOVE to work at a place that makes and cares for Bonsai.  It wouldn't even seem like work.  It would just be pure joy and contentment.

Monday I am dividing and repotting African Violets for one of my favorite customers.  Possibly 2 or 3 dozen of them.  She knows how to grown them.  Big, healthy plants and lovely to work with.  The ones she gives me don't live long here.  I think I have too many different things and the Violets are used to undivided attention.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving Dear Readers

This is NOT my table or my turkey.  We'll be roasting and eating just a turkey breast this year.  I won't be doing a whole bird and then taking the legs and thighs to work with me to "gift" to any eager employee wanting leftover food on Friday.  And they do want it.

I don't know what the large dish in the top left holds.  Seems like an enormous amount of mashed potato.  The photo is from Food52.

I have made three separate trips to the grocery store and still am missing parts of recipes.  I give up.
I'll make do or not make it at all.  Or make something entirely "new".

My friend and I are walking together at 11am.  I will bundle up and cover my mouth so I don't breathe in cold air.  I will have my inhaler.  I wish, on days like tomorrow, that we walked in an urban, city environment.  A park or block with a place to stop for a coffee or tea.  But we walk in a residential neighborhood and rarely see any other humans.  They drive.  We walk. We talk.

I may insert the sweet potatoes into the oven before the walk and remove them after the walk.  Peel, split, insert butter and brown sugar.  Then make green bean casserole.  Then roast two fat round acorn squash--candied with butter, maple syrup and sugar.  We like sugar and butter.  I enjoy all the chopping involved in making stuffing.  Onions, celery and parsley from the garden.  More butter.  Some eggs.  Mush it all together and press into another casserole dish.  I'll baste it with the stock I make for the gravy.  I bought two turkey thighs and will roast them with onions, carrots and a few cloves of garlic for the stock.  Then I'll peel and halve the Brussels sprouts and get them prepped for  a pan sautee.  I will also be making cranberry sauce.  With sugar, orange peel and brandy.  French brandy.  Lots of it. Hard to be reminded of any mistakes in the menu if the cranberries have enough  brandy in them.

I'm not making pie.  I will make the Pumpkin Whoopie pies on Friday.  I may regret not making pie. But if that's my only regret--so be it.  Daughter might bring a dessert "experiment" which sounds amazing doesn't it?  Then we'll play the annual Scrabble Game.  This is when I miss having my son with us.  The Scrabble Game.

Happy Thanksgiving to all.  It's a Holiday for you but for's G's birthday.  He was born just in time for dinner on Thanksgiving Day.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Poinsettias Arrive @ Work

I spent Monday clearing tables for the truckload of "points" as we call them to arrive on Tuesday, in a heated truck.  These babies don't like the cold.  We have a new variety (for us) that is palest pink and white.  Also a neon pink.

I was busy tagging, wiring a hanging loop and adding bows to 48 swags that arrived after 3 pm on Monday.  We work until 5:30 so I was really trying hard to get them all finished.  Sigh. I was three short of the finish line.  I work best under pressure.

Today I was home so G and I set out after Riley's walk to do errands.  We needed new lights for the outdoor wreaths.  And I am always short on lights by the time I get to the bottom of the 8 foot tree.  so I purchased another 200 light string so the bottom of the tree will be brightly lit up.  G also got his Birthday Gift.  A Keurig.  He is busy making flavored coffee.  Hazelnut and Pumpkin Spice.  The house now smells like hazelnuts.

I held off getting this new machine as there is only so much kitchen counter space in our very large kitchen.  It wasn't built with a coffee maker, Keurig, Vitamix, coffee bean grinder in mind.  Thank goodness I have a stand mixer "barn" in the counter by the stove.  If the carpenter ever decides to re-appear--the new kitchen will have additional counters and "barns" for appliances---and outlets to power them.

We stopped at Joann's to look at buttons and Kona cotton (awful colors) and G expressed interest in a paint by numbers set.  Couldn't find that but did find a color by numbers coloring book.  He's using my Prang pencil set but might go to Staples and buy a set of his own.  He needs more "colors".  I am surprised that he wanted this but he said it would be nice to have something to do when Winter comes.

I also purchased five more bags of old fashioned lemon drops.  There is something soothing and comforting about a nice tart lemon drop.  Especially at work.  And sometimes having the lemon drop in my mouth keeps me from making an unwelcome comment.  Which is a very good thing.  And the lemon drops have kept me from commenting on the national news.  When life gives you lemons--- make them into lemon drops.

Riley continues to improve.  He is standing up for his interests and barking like crazy to go out and terrorize the guys putting up siding next door.  Tearing around shaking his toys.  Feeling much better.
I feel sorry for any truck that (beep beep beep) backs into our driveway.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Riley Update

It snowed overnight--just a little bit--but enough to bring happiness to Riley--he rolled it... I asked him to help scrape snow off my car but he prefers the window and the radiator.

Riley is doing really well on the antibiotic and the antacid.  No gagging.  Eating his meals when served.  Sleeping soundly.  Barking. Having a good long walk in the woods with G everyday. Enjoying Life.

He sees the Vet again in two weeks.  Rest easy.......he's good.

Friday, November 18, 2016


Riley is not feeling well.  Elevated numbers for his pancreas and liver.  Nausea.  He is taking his medicines and sleeping and is still the happy dog he always is.  Happy to be close by his "people".
Still happy to run off and investigate whatever stinky things the neighbors have tossed into their compost pile.  And they seem to always be tossing terrible things into the compost pile.

Today I have a plan.  I have garlic to plant.  I also have to "heel in" my juvenile grasses into the garden for the winter.  I grew Elijah Blue Grass from seeds last winter in the milk jug experiment. They started out as just a thread of blue green.  A blade of "grass". Now, after two transplanting they are about 3 inches tall and in small clumps.  12.  By next year they should be large enough to go into the landscape border.  But this winter they will be in the vegetable garden.

I also have to add some fertilizer to the garden.  I raked leaves (in the dark) the last time I was out there--before it rained.  Pulled up the pepper plants.  Pulled weeds.  The compost bins are packed. All three of them.  Like money in the bank.  Future Dirt.

My compost piles are full of chopped leaves combined with the last grass clippings.  G has to cut the front lawn once more so we'll collect that grass and add it to the piles.  I also have two piles of leaves by the side of the driveway--composting into leaf mold.  Compost.  It takes awhile. I can wait.

All Winter (and actually 365 days a year) I collect "compostables" in a 2 gallon soup pot on the counter.  Kleenex, paper towels, coffee grounds and filters, the dregs of cereal containers, orange peels, apple cores, vegetable scraps, egg shells--- the container is emptied into the bins at least twice a week.  That's about 5 pounds of wet green waste each time.  Dog hair and dryer lint goes in as well.
The leaves falling off the three Ficus Trees in the kitchen (a change in light and Ficus have to drop all their leaves in a sort of hissy fit) also get swept up into the compost bucket.  Junk mail is shredded and put into the compost.  Cardboard from cereal boxes is opened up and laid flat or if I have time--torn into pieces first.  Worms love cardboard.

We recycle what we can't compost.  Once a month or so we put out a small bag for the "garbage" men.  Things that can't be recycled or composted.  Those bags cost us money--so we wait to make sure they are completely full before setting them out.

But no matter how hard I try there is still too much here in the house.  Time to walk around with a big bag or a box and fill it to take to Goodwill.  My son often laments not teaching us how to use eBay. Some of what we have and don't need is actually valuable--to someone else.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

I Am Feeling Lonely.

Now that I am 70, I am thinking about who I wanted to be when I was a child, teenager, young mother etc.  I wanted to be friendly and happy and have friends.  I wanted to have people come over to eat at my table, have a drink in the backyard on lawn chairs, or just call me to talk for over an hour.

While we lived in several places--all that happened and it was lovely.

When we moved to Maine, all that stopped.  Maine tolerates people from "AWAY".  They don't open their arms, homes or families to people from somewhere else.  I've lived here nearly 30 years.  I'm still "from away".  The people I am friends with here in Maine are also from away or have moved away and then come back to Maine.  People who know how hard it is to make new friends in a new home.

I'm thinking about that today.  Sitting here alone.  G is working in his workshop trying to clean up a mess he made before his heart attack.  Almost 3 years ago.  I'm lonely.  I finished the last of the Louise Penny books and have to wait until my name comes up on the reserve list for the last book (the current book).  I was starting to feel like one of the residents of Three Pines as I made my way through 10 books.  Hoping Clara would invite me to the next potluck at her house.  Or that I could drive into Town and stop in at the Used and New Bookstore for tea with Myrna.

One thing I wouldn't be doing is writing this post.  No internet in Three Pines.

While I was looking for something in the spare room--I was thinking about going back in time and reliving my entire life--with the things I know now.  About how I should have done the reading and my homework while in school.  I'm good at that now.  Wasn't then.  Also I would be better at choosing clothing and knowing the importance of a GOOD haircut.  Lord, I went through years of bad haircuts--sometimes cutting it myself with dull scissors.  My dad cut my brothers' hair down in the basement or out in the driveway.  If I had the haircut I have now--my dad could have cut mine as well.  Nice and short.

I sometimes think moving here to Maine was a huge mistake.  Too few people.  The population is exactly 1.2 million for the entire large state of Maine.  Same as it was in 1991 when I moved here. There are small towns or cities with that many people.  I guess that's why it feels lonely.

Thank goodness I have the internet.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

My Favorite Things

My Favorite Hummel.  In fact, G purchased this same Hummel three times.  We had a black cat at the time.  And I was often stitching.  I have two others I love.  A guy with a suitcase and umbrella going off to see the World.  G.  And another of a big sister reading to her younger brother.  My children--always so young and sweet.  I saw this image on another blog and had to add it to mine. To be reminded.  I don't often go over to the particular bookshelf where they live.  Perhaps I should move them??  Closer.  Yes, closer to my heart.

The greenhouse Open House is now over.  The poinsettias are in the building.  As are the Christmas cactus. I worked Saturday and made State of Maine wreaths.  Did a double sided wreath making demo.  Answered questions.  Helped.  Finished my second to the last Louise Penny mystery while eating my lunch.  Vanilla yogurt with Texas red grapefruit segments.  Wishing that Noosa sold their vanilla yogurt in quarts.  Or the honey one.  Both super delicious.  I have to make do with less than delicious yogurts that DO come in quarts.  The only Noosa vanilla I can buy is 4 ounces.

Set a large pot of water on the stove.  Added chicken thighs, an onion, a few cloves of garlic, carrots, celery, a few sprigs of parsley, salt, peppercorns and cubes of bouillon.  It's cold and G loves chicken soup.

I read my mystery and ate the last of the Tootsie Rolls.  Thank goodness they are gone. Tonight.  PBS and Corfu, Poldark and then Elementary.

G just called from walking the neighbor's dog.  Super Moon.  Riley can I went out to see it.

Just a comment or two on my "elimination" diet.  The soy and peanuts continue to be allergens (rash).  I do find myself getting a rash on my neck and eyebrows  if I eat "too much" white flour in foods. Small amounts of white flour food--not every day--is okay but when I hit a level that my body thinks is "too much" then the rash begins. Another problem yesterday was acid reflux--it may have been coffee--I made certain NOT to sample from the refreshments table.  I only had that one cup of coffee and some cheese.  But I have had more cheese today--very good cheese--and no problems.  So the type of decaf they served might be too acidic.  I have tried oatmeal on several mornings in the past 60 days.  It doesn't seem like a "friendly food" but I will keep trying.  I try not to be boring about this but though a few Readers might be wondering how things are going.  The Alaway eye drops are wonderful.  Takes the eye itch away--immediately.  Over the counter for anyone with itchy eyes.  In the section of stores that carry contact lenses products.

Sunday, November 06, 2016

The "Making" Season

We've started work on Holiday Boxes (greens, berries, pinecones on sticks plus a red bow) at work, had the Saturday wreath making class (I was not there).  Now the real work of Christmas begins.  State of Maine wreaths.  Custom work.  More Holiday Boxes than we think possible.  I'll be going home with pine needles in my shoes, socks and if things go as usual--in my underwear.  How they get in there is a puzzlement to all who work with me.

I like making wreaths from scratch.  Like above.  Just a wire ring.  A pile of clipped greens (anything can be used--just go out and cut----but stay on your own property)  Berries.  Holly doesn't do well with freezing.  Winterberry.  But my favorite is artificial.  I have always been a fan of the mix of real and fake.  Fool the Eye.  I need to look up the French word.

I have the pile of summer linen camp shirts ready to move up into attic storage.  I was reminded of summer days in the garden as I folded them.  How is it possible those days are over and gone?  I am not as romantically involved with corduroy pants and thermal long sleeved tees.

Today I am actually making onion soup.  We had things going on and I never had the "kitchen time" to do the slow cooking of the onions.  Carmelization.

Reading my way through Louise Penny's Gamache Books.  Seven down and into number 8.  Number 9 is waiting on the book table.  I read until 4 am with Bury Your Dead.  There was no where to stop. I had to just stay with it until the end.  I confess I hated the first in the series- Still Life (and find that is true with other Readers).

I think I average 2 days on each book.  Reminds me of the Winter I made my way through Wallander. I read in the rolling office chair in the kitchen--trying to get the young Riley to take a nap.  It worked.  He saw me in the chair and would collapse on his bed and sleep for a few hours--between Winter cold walks.  I could roll over to the fridge for a snack or over to the electric teapot for a fresh cup of tea. He knew I wasn't going anywhere interesting (to him).  Now, just having a book open in my hands is enough to put the dog to sleep.

I am working on the felt hearts (buttonholing around the pieces and edges), still testing ideas for the Bee ornaments--perhaps needing to buy buttons for the eyes.  Perhaps even making a few more Santa coats and hats--- they would be cute on top of a gift wrapped in brown Kraft paper.  But then, so would the Bee.  2016 seems like the Year Of The Bee.

I am wanting to take a private class with a quilt artist--but would need to be taking daily progress photos.  I stopped using my digital (or any other) camera long ago.  I didn't like or find I could use the newest addition of iPhoto on the computer in order to download the pictures.  In fact I don't even know which of the icons is actually the photo button anymore.  So, I have to weigh the "want" for the class over the "do not want" of the camera and all that it entails.   I am constantly reminded that taking pictures was such a joy.  And then it wasn't.  We'll see.  You'll see.

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Post Halloween

My boss said I had never looked better.  My customers tried not to make eye contact--one reporting my face paint was "too disturbing".   So, Halloween was a success.

I had the MOST unusual day.  A customer came in with a mini white orchid to be repotted.  She asked if I was "the joanne".  I said yes (why not?).  Asked if I could repot.  I said yes.

While putting the little orchid in it's new pot (nestled into damp sheet moss and bark chips) I discovered I am an "urban legion".  How's that for a story?

My customer and her friend were bowling when the orchid gifting happened.  And the bowler in the next lane (unknown to them) suggested they stop at my place of work and ask for "Joanne" to do the repot.  "She's fantastic" the guy said.  "knows everything about everything and is magical".

I (obviously) didn't disappoint as, while repotting, this customer called her friend on the phone and said "I'm here at the greenhouse and SHE'S REAL!!!!!!"  I guess I was everything the guy described and better.  Now, I'm wondering who the guy is????