Now, where did I leave that?


Friday, May 23, 2014

Green and Gray-Birthday Meanderings

Just wandered through the foot-soaking wet grass, breathing in the Spring dampness and admiring the brilliant green against this damp gray morning, to see how the veggies are coming along. Beets, carrots, bok choy, scallions, spinach, arugula, mesclun and cress are all flourishing in the square foot bed. Cress--if you ever feel a need for an instant gratification crop, cress will do it! Its delicate peppery brightness can be grown and harvested two or three weeks after planting! The kale is reluctant, and the peas seem to have entered stasis, looking lovely, putting out a few tendrils, but seeming unsure of what to do next. 

The grapes are gorgeous, their blushing green leaves unfurling and stretching in every direction. The second arbor has several vines that should produce this year; we do love our grapes! The elderberries I gave Linda last year survived Winter and are growing fast and strong, and the currant we got last year but never put in the ground is bedecked in dangling green jewels that will soon turn red. Linda decided we must grow bayberry (I'm guessing bayberry and beeswax candles are in our future), so there are 10 twigs out there, temporarily ensconced in pots waiting for a permanent home. 

I'm off two whole days in a row Sunday & Monday, so the green beans, zukes & cukes, spaghetti squash, basil & other assorted herbs will all be direct sown at last, now that frost is (probably) past us. We plan to build an asparagus bed, tuck the little crown in, and wait a couple of years for that homegrown treat! Sadly, the heirloom Marshall strawberries appear not to have survived the Winter.

Spring has brought us an astonishing, unexpected treat--birds!! Bluebirds are nesting in the bluebird box, and flit through the yard all day long. We've been visited by rose-breasted grosbeaks and indigo buntings, which we'd never ever seen before! We have an abundance of goldfinches standing in for the flowers that will bloom later in the Summer, red wing blackbirds chirrrr through each day and visit the yard, woodpeckers abound, and earlier this week while we had our morning coffee on the porch, a female hummingbird perched on one of the porch chairs next to us to watch the swinging pendulum courtship show being put on by her suitor!!

I'm enjoying the new job; it's an amazing thing to feel good about what you do for a living. Would I rather be retired, and able to spend the days on other pursuits? Sure....but until that's an option, I've landed in a place that feels good; and I'm blessed to enjoy the people and to have been welcomed so readily. There are challenges, to be sure, and a bit of a learning curve....I'm working to build youth programming while learning how to do stimulating story times and trying to get a handle on what older kids are into these days. The commute is long but lovely and usually stress-free (I'm in denial about Winter!), and my only regret is the loss of time. I migrated to the library from a place that gave me alot of time off, and I'm missing that. But time is a funny thing; before, while I had lots of time off available, each day I was off flew by, and I always had a subconscious hourglass spilling sand to its nether regions faster than seemed possible. Nowadays, when I have a day off, it's full and productive, but doesn't seem 'over' before it's barely begun. Can being at peace actually stretch time like melted mozzarella? 

I've been using the long commute to listen to Wayne Dyer and Eckhart Tolle, and it feels like my soul is stretching, too, like the brain and spirit have a bit more room...kind of like the Grinch's heart and shoes! I'm feeling the profound need, and impetus, to start writing for real; time may be more like sweet, slow molasses than coarse sand these days, but it's still moving relentlessly, as birthdays tend to remind us.

So here I am on another birthday, feeling meditative more than celebratory....I leave for work in an hour or so and need to wind this up. By the end of the day, I plan to have a plan to start writing regularly, as in every day, even if it's only a sentence or two. And my other goal is to take a sweet spoonful of time at least a couple times a week to catch up with all of you--I miss knowing what's happening in your worlds!-- and to be better about posting. The next one will have more photos and less words, I promise!

Wishing each of you a sweet, gentle Spring day!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Breathe In, Breathe Out...Repeat

The wind is relentless, a persistent hair-whipping, tree-rocking, wind-chime conductor's exclamation point to the month of April. I can't recall so many days marked by wind, but it's not surprising after such an unexpected Winter....deep, cleansing breath gusts, exhaling the long frigid nights and piles of snow, inhaling beginnings. Today it's a sun-warmed wind, but rumor has it that the gusts are pulling heavy rain, freezing tempratures and possibly even a smattering of snow behind it. In mid-April. I know it happens, but we have the barest beginnings of rhubarb blushing against the soil; she survived the Winter even though we never quite got around to moving her from pot to ground.

I know Winter can rear its hoary head even into May; I remember joyfully spending one Mother's Day planting tomatoes and basil and zucchini, only to lose it all to a hard frost. But still....the quince buds are tiny, pea-sized kaleidoscopes,

the geese are flying north even by the light of the moon, wrens are singing their sweet dee-Deet-dee-dee-DEE song, and I passed a golden-brown colt walking close to its mama's side as I drove past a stud farm on my way to work Saturday.

Ah, and Saturday! I'm so enjoying my new job, but Saturday required every ounce of will power to turn into the parking lot after a glorious drive. I passed the tiny gargoyle at his lonely solitary post, newly emerged from the snow at the beginning of a long farmhouse driveway. White wraiths of fog drifted off the remnants of last Summer's corn fields shimmering gold in the morning sun. A male ring-necked pheasant posed next to a farm field as if waiting for the next Peterson's Field Guide photographer to discover him. As I neared the Taconics, thick clouds tumbled in the gentle mountain clefts like breaking waves. Dragging my feet towards the library door, I heard red-wing blackbirds and a killdeer. All day long people sang the praises of the beautiful day. It was the kind of day that lets one bask in the unspeakable joy of the Universe. And the kind of day that promises that Spring will finally, truly come. Briefly....until Summer shows up, anyway.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Hello, Everyone!!!!

No, this handsome fellow hasn't taken up residence at our little homestead. He resides at Buckwheat Bridge Angora farm, a fabulously cool place we visited in the wind, rain and fog yesterday.  It was the kind of day that belied any hints of Spring, the kind that has my older son swearing he's going to move to North Carolina and us looking at the dwindling pile of pellets and wondering if there's any chance we can nurse them along for a few more weeks. The pellets we have left are the extra half ton we bought after blowing though the last three tons. I like cold weather and snow, but even the most avid Winter lovers are just....done

But there's hope!

Signs of Spring abound, though! The catalpa tree is budding, our garden plans have been drawn and we have dozens of seed packets. We visited a local maple sugaring operation (he even let us each tap a tree!). Fresh greens have hit the indoor  Farm Market,

the chickens are savoring the outdoors and stepping up egg production. Two weeks ago I retired the Winter dishes and pulled out my Spring coffee mug. 

Two of Linda's three hives survived the brutal Winter, and Saturday she picked up 30,000 bees for three new hives. And of course, with Spring comes babies! At the moment we're fostering two litters of kittens, 

both sets with their moms, which makes life so much easier for Linda.

My new job has started, and it's great. The people have been so welcoming, and I'm excited about all the projects underway. Each day is full and diverse, and I've had to hit the ground running, but it truly is all good. Funny thing is, as busy as it feels, it'll be Summer before I know it and that's when we'll really be busy! It's so god to be back in a library, and I don't miss the job I left behind at all. There is an adjustment period as I adapt to a very different schedule. The day starts and ends later, and the commute tacks on even more time. But you know, it's amazing...I go to bed and fall right to sleep instead of tossing and turning; in fact many nights I don't even read before falling asleep. My days off don't whiz by; they're wonderful and I will always wish they could last forever, but I don't look at the clock with shock and dread anymore. 

So life is good. 

Is Spring springing where you are yet (or Fall, for those in the Southern Hemisphere)?

Saturday, February 8, 2014

To New Beginnings!

Dear friends in the blogging ether-hi!  I've missed you! It's been a crazy few weeks since my last post. Although we haven't been as Winter-ravaged as some of you, it's been more of a Winter here than I've seen in many years.

That photo was taken back in December, but we have had several more, including a storm this past week that resulted in a perfectly timed snow day. And it's been cold! I honestly don't recall having as many below zero nights and single digit days as we've had this season. We thank the powers that be daily for the wonders of the pellet stove, as do the furred ones in the household.

Got through my busiest time of work, finally emerging from the 13 hour workdays weary and frustrated. And happened! A call I really didn't expect, the culmination of 3 1/2 months of waiting and interviews, process and thought, wishful thinking and mental seesawing. My office phone rang, and on the other end was the voice of my future boss, offering me the hoped-for position! After 7 1/2 years, I'm returning to library work! Some of the work will be familiar and some is branching out in new and exciting directions...working with youth planning, and eventually some community outreach. I've done outreach work before, back in my festival days, but this is will be a different sort. 

I owe alot of love and gratitude to Linda who listened to my angst about what I might be giving up if I was offered and accepted the job; let's face it, libraries have different economic realities than where I've been the last few years, and I've enjoyed a freakish amount of time off at the job I'm leaving behind, between the extended holidays, standard vacation time, Summer Fridays off, and the comp time that came from those 13 hour work days. But Linda--and my family & friends--supported me and reminded me that all those good things came at an exorbitant emotional price that had taken its toll, and that I've missed library work all these years And when that call came, I was stunned and honored, and barely hesitated.

I'm truly excited; the dedication of the army of volunteers is amazing, and I'm mightily impressed by the drive, vision and determination of the library staff and board to serve its small rural community as fully and completely as possible. It may be I've never confessed to you my passion for libraries, the way they put the world at the fingertips of anyone walking through the doors, regardless of income, 'class', social stature, ethnicity, religious or political beliefs. Libraries are both magical and as critical to a functioning society as schools. This will most assuredly be an adventure that lets me feel good about what I do at the end of every day. The new job starts in early March, and I'm working hard to leave my current job ready for someone else to step in.

So that's my big news; I so look forward to checking in on all my favorite bloggers...stay warm; Spring's coming, I promise!

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Once More, With Feeling!

Wishing you peace, love, contentment, abundance 
& laughter in the new year!

And in the wise and inspirational words of Neil Gaiman:

May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you're wonderful, and don't forget to make some art -- write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself.

...I hope you will have a wonderful year, that you'll dream dangerously and outrageously, that you'll make something that didn't exist before you made it, that you will be loved and that you will be liked, and that you will have people to love and to like in return. And, most importantly (because I think there should be more kindness and more wisdom in the world right now), that you will, when you need to be, be wise, and that you will always be kind.

I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.

Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You're doing things you've never done before, and more importantly, you're Doing Something.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!!!

Welcome Christmas, come this way
Welcome Christmas, Christmas day
Christmas day is in our grasp
So long as we have hands to clasp
Welcome Christmas, bring your cheer
Christmas time will always be
Just as long as we have we
Welcome Christmas, bring your light.....

(Y'all know where this comes from, right?)

May your days be merry and bright no matter what you do or don't celebrate this time of year as the light begins to grow and a new year peeks around the corner. May there be peace on Earth and sugarplums dancing in your head and heart. May the gifts that can't be wrapped shine even brighter than those in packages, boxes and bows. 

Miss you all, be back very soon!!!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

More Gratitude

October is a feast....of color, abundance, bounty, beauty. Every year I try to gorge myself on it like a child who knows that birthday cake only comes once a year and so eats until sick. Of course, unlike that child, I never get sick of or from October; I want more and more....and its inevitable passing breaks my heart.

Ah, but then, cooling balm to the riotous color, peace to the frenzy of activity, November arrives. Its winds blow away the warm Summer evenings' haze, and there's a delicate, naked beauty in the blue-black night and bare trees adorned only by the waxing Moon and Venus.

November can be harsh and intense; even as I began to write this yesterday,  the stiff breeze had the wind chimes calling out in alarm and the sun shades banging the window frame. The fire was up, we wore double layers, and I was tucked into red alpaca socks all day. It was a gray day, but the kind of gray that is unmistakably November, the perfect backdrop for the golden browns and and lingering yellows, a day that requires the simmering of soup & burning of cedar incense, and so I embraced November with nary a glance back at October. A farm market visit was followed by the making of an amazing roasted squash and apple soup (with bacon!), not a creamy and refined soup; no, this soup is hearty, chunky, beautiful and comforting.

I will say the recipe has a few vague moments, and the end result was a tad too sweet. I recommend leaving the bacon in large pieces and removing once the simmering part is done. The recipe uses "white wine or water"; water seemed a bad plan, and I didn't have white wine in the house, so I used cider. Next time I'll use a dry white wine, and tarter apples, and perhaps a wee bit of ginger. I also suggest not mincing the garlic, but instead throwing in a generous amount of halved cloves (I think I halved about 10 good sized cloves) with the apples and squash and onions. I mashed the veggies just with two big spoons, purposely leaving some chunks. Oh, and I added a bay leaf to the simmer pot. It's a soup worth experimenting with, and will go well with grilled cheese sandwiches for a comforting dinner tonight.

We took a ride through the encroaching dusk, dogs in the back of the car watching the world pass by; our destination was the piece of property we're in the process of buying. We have a contract but it's an odd and convoluted story that may take quite a few months to iron out. It's several acres about 40 minutes from here, elevated just enough to change horticultural zones from 5b to 5a, and just a wee bit cooler, 5 or so degrees, from our own house. The wind blows nearly all the time there, sliding off the slopes of the northern Catskills, a living being ever present.  We've yet to manage photos that truly capture the beauty, 

so it will have to be enough to say that the mountains are right there, so close they look like you could walk to them, so close the land feels nestled into their lap. I'm learning alot about patience and trust (as my sister & I say about patience & trust--blech!, although she's so much better at them than I) as we wait to see if it will all untangle. 

This morning I stood out on the porch, coffee in hand, surveying the yard and the vast amount of buttoning up left to do, telling Linda it'll be easier to just move than try to get it all done. And then I realized that the back yard was filled with birds: gold & house finches, bluebirds, chickadees, juncoes, at least three kinds of woodpeckers, and more....gorging on coneflower and black-eyed susan seedheads, in the weeds and trees and quince bush, in the raised beds and tomato pots. I love watching the birds; next weekend's chore list includes setting up the feeder stations in the front yard, but to see so much activity in the back was such a gift, and an affirmation of our plan to begin turning part of the back yard from lawn to meadow. I can watch birds for hours, but alas, too many tasks are lined up for the day, from creating storage for a large quantity of Winter squash to making room in the freezer for several more quarts of soup, roasting veggies for dinner later this week, and cleaning two cupboards to make room for the plethora of spices we purchased while on Cape Cod.  But the window shades will stay up so I can watch the birds as I work. If you're not seeing so many birds today, perhaps a visit to this webcam will make you smile and give you a taste of November's peace. Because amidst the chores and the impending holidays is an oasis of calm. November (in this hemisphere, anyway) invites us to prepare for Winter but also to begin hibernating, snuggling in, to sit by a fire and take time to watch the birds; to simmer soups and stews; to knit and spin, sew, read, write; to dream and plan; to savor this moment. November has moments of such quiet, almost the hushed whisper of a Winter snowfall but not quite...November is our chance to catch our breath, recoup, and prepare for the months ahead. And for that, I'm deeply grateful.

Have a great day!