Now, where did I leave that?

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Onward!

 This time last year I had some goals (vs resolutions):
I hope that when this year ends I'll have met my goal of submitting a finished manuscript to the publishing house that does an annual contest; that I'll have taken charge and finally lost the weight that has posed a real threat to my health; that I spend my days doing work that's fulfilling and feels good at the end of a day; that my loved ones are well and healthy and happy; that my serious crush on fiber will have blossomed into a reciprocal love affair; that I'll have deepened my spiritual connection; that I laugh often and fall asleep each night snuggled with Linda.
No manuscript winged its way to publishers, but I wrote more in various forms than I have in years.  Didn't lose ALL the weight, but made a great start at 30+ pounds (we're not going to talk about what I undid over the holidays...).  My crush on fiber has resulted in the production of four knitted scarves and a hat, I've been learning to spin on a wheel and am finally ready to start staining and assembling (okay, watching LINDA assemble) a wheel of my own, am just beginning to dabble in felt, and am relearning how to crochet. An altar is in the living room, I'm doing scheduled flamekeeping shifts in honor of Brigid more often than not. Work is still what it is, and I've been told I do NOT laugh often and am creating some very dark skies here at home. The metaphorical 'they' say it's the journey, not the destination....so I'm tugging on more comfortable boots, refilling the water bottle with resolve and determination, pointing my compass (granted, I can't actually figure out a compass), and resuming the trek; there are countless miles to go before I sleep.
2011 sounds so futuristic, which is mildly amusing given that my goals are pretty old-fashioned.  I'm not the 'don't worry, be happy' sort, but I've been told I need to relocate joy and positivity, so that's first on the list.  Not loving my stress-filled job isn't a good enough excuse for...all the things for which it takes blame. Time to suck it up, do well what I'm paid to do, and come home to the womon I love (and our menagerie) at the end of the day, while leaving the angst back at the office.  And then I need to focus on all the blessings. 2011 needs to be a year of creativity (more writing!) and learning--feltwork of all kinds, spinning, crocheting, knitting socks! Yes, learning to knit socks is high on my list (family needs to forget they read this lest there be no surprises under next year's tree). And I'd like to finish Linda's sweater by next Christmas (hey, no point in setting one's goals TOO high).
By the time we're halfway through 2011, the remaining 40 lbs needs to be burned away like the 40 lb bags of pellets we lug over to the stove each day.  Chasing after the chickens will help; 2011 will be the year of the chicken here. Winter will be all about research and planning, and in Spring we'll have our flock (about a dozen to allow for hawk snacks which I'm told by chicken-raising neighbors is a factor; looking at a combo of New Hampshire Reds, Plymouth Barred, Amercaunas and Dominiques). The chickens and expanded vegetable garden will be part of a plan to explore how the average, occasionally lazy, not independently wealthy, very busy person can reasonably be part of the locavore movement here in the abundant Hudson Valley. I want to explore how one can integrate sustainability and longing to be close to the land while working 40+ hours a week, and loving precious 'down time'.  To that end, I'll be launching a new blog (in addition to, not in place of this one); I'll post the details shortly. 2011 is gearing up to be an exciting leg of the journey; I hope you'll hike alongside of me, offering your own suggestions and comments, pointing out when I've got the map upside down....Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Have NOT Dropped Off the Planet

Quick recap:
--Christmas Eve with 'kids' and sister was heartwarming.  Delightful, thoughtful gifts, much laughter, the soul deep pleasure of a fire-warmed livingroom filled with those I love most.  All three scarves I'd knitted were well-received (photos to follow).
--Christmas Day was perfection.  We slept late, had coffee in bed, had a decadent breakfast by the fire, opened presents (I'm now the proud owner of three new Moosewood cookbooks, and Linda's new Lady Gaga CD made her laugh out loud), and spent most of the day warm and cozy, watching the film Oceans, poring through cookbooks, watching Elf explore, and being gloriously lazy.
--Snow!  About 16" of it fell and blew Sunday night....more than we had in total last Winter.  Yeti is not happy; our dog is a sissy. I completed my very first felt project--needle felted jingle balls.  I'm hooked.
So far it's been a delicious break; while not as much sleep as I might want, I'm feeling just a little bit more restored, and plan to savor every bit of the time I have left before the hounds of hell chase me back to work Monday! I wish for all who read this blog the same peace and pleasure to warm your heart and soul.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Blessed Yule

Winter Solstice happens at 6:38pm EST. May the love and joy of the Universe light your way and warm your soul...Blessed be!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Microfiction Monday--Courtesy of Stony River

Weeping, she wondered why Christmas is painted in sweet simplicity, no shattered ornaments or tears.  Don’t they know the wolf is waiting?

Stony River: A Writing Life hosts Microfiction Monday, wherein one writes a piece of fiction of 140 characters or less, inspired by her picture of the week.  This is my first attempt! 

Friday, December 17, 2010

Golden Pink Memories

The drive to work this morning was bathed in a golden-pink glow that reminded me of a camping trip Linda and I took to Maine in Summer '08.  The intent was to see a moose; we discovered that, not unlike Yetis and Elves, moose are mythological creatures...in fact, we've postulated that the Maine travel bureau hires Maine residents to dress up like moose to encourage tourism, but that 'real' moose don't exist.  Why do we think this?  Being us, we researched the best place in the whole state to spot a moose.  We camped near Lake Millinocket; every dawn and sunset we trekked over to Compass Point and waited and watched.  Nada.  One magical morning we took a sunrise moose-watching cruise on the lake....just us and the tour guide (whose boat it was) on the 40 acre lake.  Mt. Katahdin was golden pink, crowned by the full moon and rose above the glassy lake with all the power, wild beauty and majesty of a Goddess.  The only alleged moose we saw during that cruise was so far off in the distance as to be only visible as a brown blob, but we watched eagles soar, listened to loons, and knew silent awe in the face of the glorious mountain.


This bone-chilling December morning's light reminded me of that too-long-ago cool August morning, but this morning was also graced by the dancing glitter and sparkle of sun-kissed frost....exquisite!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Wonders of the Season

 Elfkin, who comes home to us tomorrow

 
 Scenes from the living room:

Christmas Elves, Part 2

My last post was a plea for some elves; who knew I'd actually get my wish?  Alas, no elves will be cleaning or decorating, or going to work for me....but next weekend one tiny little Elfkin will be joining our family.  She's a 7 month old 'feral' kitten, born in the wall of  a barn up past Greenville, with a condition called cerebellar hypoplasia.  CH in cats translates to very limited motor skills, tremors, falling over alot, being a very messy eater, etc. It's a long story, but I heard about her at work from someone who'd found a notice on their vet's bulletin board.  We did the research, and there are some helpful videos online that demonstrate cats with CH having full--if wobbly--lives. They have a normal lifespan, are no more disease/illness-prone than any other cat, and many people think CH cats are sweeter in nature as a rule.  One doesn't see alot of cats with this condition because the conventional 'wisdom' is to put them down when they're kittens.  Fortunately for us, the womon whose barn became a nursery didn't follow conventional wisdom when faced with two CH kittens, and yesterday we met them.  One was a roly-poly, big gray boy, and one was a very small-for-her-age, slightly-shy-until-she-started-playing-with-my-sweat-jacket-string, tuxedo with silky black and white fur.  It was love pretty quickly--for me anyway!  Arrangements had already been made for her to be spayed today, and there's a question whether she's been tested for feline leukemia, so she didn't come home with us, but assuming the test is negative, we'll be CH-kitten-proofing our large office (the only fully carpeted room in the house) where she'll spend her time until she's fully acclimated and we assess the full extent of her motor skills, and lack thereof.  Given the season, Elf seemed the only perfect name, and Linda formalized it as 'Elfkin' since all the other animals here have 2 syllables; we didn't want to shortchange this little girl.  So looks like I'm getting an Elf after all!
Decorating is painfully slow here, and becoming moot pretty quickly. But yesterday we went with quality over quantity and are so pleased with what we've done in the living room.  There are some finishing touches to be done in there--Linda is hanging white pine roping--and we need to finish the kitchen and do a few touches upstairs, but by the end of the week, with barely a week to spare, we'll be in as much holiday mode as is happening this hectic year.
And for the long, cold, post-holiday winter ahead?  My plans are already in place--staining and assembling the spinning wheel FINALLY, planning gardens with Linda, and researching all there is to know about raising backyard chickens.  Yes folks, while sensibility has led me to put angora goats on hold until at least Spring 2012, this coming year will be the year of the chicken.  I'll keep you posted!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Blue, not Red and Green

I've always loved this season, from Thanksgiving right to Christmas.  Oh, there were stresses, but the lights and glitter, carols and children's excitement, fragrant pine and crystalline nights blurred the edges of stress, gave it a fuzzy halo like Christmas lights on a snowy night.  Who can watch A Charlie Brown Christmas and be tense?  So it's tough going this year.  Feeling kind of overwhelmed, snatching at bits of time like Scrooge scrabbling for a ha'penny rolling along the cobblestoned ground, just not feeling that elfin spirit (despite being commissioned to write an elven note for a friend's daughter yesterday).  And that desperate, too-taut-threadness has left me bereft....afraid I've lost the sparkling, multi-colored magic I managed to carry with me all these years.  I know what I need....a snowy day, no obligations, no work--or work avoidance as is happening right now, and elves, lots of elves...elves to finish decorating the house with the promise of undecorating in the new year; elves to tackle the countless tasks that must be finished at work; elves to sweep and scrub and polish the house into gleaming, Christmas-star-bright submission; elves to finish training Yeti to be the calm, anxiety-free dog her sweet, gentle spirit deserves to be; set-the-calendar-back-by-four weeks-elves; Weight Watchers elves to prepare exquisitely flavorful meals and snacks that carry minimal PointsPlus and whisk away the remaining pounds (heck, elves that'll exercise for me would be TOO much to ask for, huh?); elves to lighten Linda's workload; elves to erase my sons' all-too-grown-up cares and worries.  And a few miscellaneous elves for whatever I've forgotten.  I'd be happy to pay them, with the molasses cookies I'd have time to bake, tiny scarves I'd have time to knit, felted sheepies I'd have time to create, and little beds made of roving still waiting to be spun to dream in when the work is all done.
So if you happen to see any odd little creatures dressed in green and red, with pointy hats and pointy shoes, wandering aimlessly and looking bored, send 'em my way, please.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving

So, I'm predictable and derivative...so shoot me. Please let me preface this post by acknowledging that:
1. I think we all know that the first 'Thanksgiving' pretty much was not happy pilgrims and happy 'Indians' sitting side-by-side eating turkey and comparing cranberry sauce recipes.
2. If one is only giving thanks once a year, one is missing the boat (and I don't mean the Mayflower).
Having gotten that out of my system, I would like to list a few blessings for which I'm deeply thankful. I do indeed try to remember to say thank you often, but a reminder of just a sprinkling of the ways the Universe has graced my life is always a good thing: 
*My sons--29 and 22, brilliant young men with enquiring minds, deep morality, driving passion and bottomless wells of humor
*My beloved Linda,who is the most surprising gift ever to come my way...for unknown and inexplicable reasons she loves me and never lets me forget that (between you and me, one of my most frequent prayers happens as we snuggle in the wee drowsy hours between sleep and waking--a whispered thank you for this treasure to Whomever is listening)
*My sister whom I so deeply admire and respect for her strength and resilience and with whom I so enjoy laughing at...whatever
*The mountains and river that frame this life we've created
*The friends who share laughter, tears, support, encouragement and honesty with me
*Our growing menagerie, and especially this year--after suffering the loss of two cats--the addition of our Yeti and Mots' recovery when I feared we were going to lose her last month
*The cozy roof over our heads and all the welcoming rooms beneath it
*My wooly love affair
*The decadently lush abundance of the Hudson Valley
*The fact that the Moon is rising as I write, and I'm pretty sure the Sun will rise tomorrow; and the knowledge that we are not alone on this ever-spinning planet in a vast-beyond-our-dreams Universe....
Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 8, 2010

It Snowed!

Okay, only for a few minutes, but it was mighty impressive while in progress.  Could snow in early November be a taste of things to come???
However, thus far the Universe has NOT answered my prayers for a power outage to cause an early closing today.  Sigh.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Time Manipulation

Well, we got our extra hour of sleep...or else got the same amount of sleep but an extra hour to spend as we like.  These days I'm forever wrestling with time, trying to beating it back into submission, begging it to just   slow   down, all to no avail.  So here I am handed this extra hour--what to do, what to do....watch a youtube video on needle felting technique? Work on a review?  Make carrot soup? Cuddle with Linda on the couch by the fire as we drink coffee and plan the day?  Endless choices....

Monday, November 1, 2010

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

One of the 'rewards' of being a Goddess-loving Pagan is that I get a couple of chances to 'wipe the slate clean' with a new year.  There's the traditional, secular new year, when the whole nation watches giant lighted numbers do a pole dance celebrating the new calendar and fresh resolutions to break.  And there's the spiritual new year honored last night.  My bean runes last night told me: surrender, goddess, relax.  Interestingly (to me, anyway) is that last week those first two runes came up; I put them back in their little bowl last night, mixed well...and pulled them out again, in that order.  So it would seem my mission in this new year, should I choose to accept it, is to surrender to the Goddess and just relax.  Not sure what I'm surrendering....and surrender is a tough word for me.  I give up?  No retreat baby, no surrender? (thanks, Bruce)...let go and let Goddess? Yeah, I do well at surrendering my control (no matter how fictional that control may actually be). NOT.  What I know is that the constant fighting--battling my job, wrestling with all the reasons I can't/won't write, donning camo gear so I can keep dodging making a decision to resume spiritual work I walked away from--with good reason then--three years ago--is wearing me out.  So, in this first dawn of a new year, I'm giving in and will try it Her way...Surrender. Goddess. Relax. 
At least for a little while....

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Feeling Squirrelly

This year we've noticed hordes of squirrels squirreling away winter sustenance.  There seems to be a frenzy of hoarding among squirrels and chipmunks, not unlike the rush on bread and toilet paper that happens every time an inch of snow is predicted. They race across the road, up trees, and perform highwire acts clutching walnuts as big as their heads in their mouths.  Linda and I agree we haven't before seen such squirrel intensity, but also concur it's possible we're noticing it more because we're out every day with Yeti.  We've also been catching sight of a flock (flocks?) of ugly, comical wild turkeys as they determinedly scratch and forage in assorted yards along our dog-walking routes.  Did you know wild turkeys roost in trees? It's a very weird sight to behold!  Frankly, given the air shattering report of shotguns all around us these days, if I were a turkey, I'd be following Weight Watchers....a skinny turkey has a longer lifespan in Fall than a well-fed one.
We too have been acting squirrelly, and it feels wonderful; we're just a wee bit smugly snug here in our little nest.  The freezer is slowly filling up with chili (okay, I'm dying to make some terrible pun about chilly chili in the freezer....), sausage and white bean stew, cassoulet, carrot soup, pumpkin bread; this is the time of year when one begins longing for hearty, homey meals eaten by the fire.  On Sunday we received our three tons of pellets to keep the aforementioned homefires burning through the Winter.  Linda has new warm slippers on the way, and I have a brand new pair of Solmate socks waiting for that first snowstorm.
The socks came from the Sheep and Wool Festival this past weekend, and the preparations for Winter continued as we browsed the countless exhibits and vendor booths.  In addition to having already secured delicious yarn for two more scarves and a blanket (all of which I'm trying to complete by Christmas!!) between my two local yarn shops--Country Wool in Germantown and Amazing Threads in Saugerties--I left the festival carrying lots of roving for practicing spinning (including some luscious alpaca); some fleece (gray and cream from Cricket, a Lincoln sheep, and a black-dark chocolate-milk chocolate fleece from Ozzie, a Border Leicester/Romney  lamb); and some felting kits so I can finally try my hand at that. The next two months will be consumed with knitting, with breaks for felting because I dearly want a felted sheep on the tree this year, and because one of those felting kits could yield the perfect accessory scarf for someone I know.  The roving and the fleece are for the deepest part of Winter, when the holidays are past, when the January craziness at work subsides, and the days are cold, gray, and easily remedied by the shush of the by-then-it-will-be-stained-and-assembled spinning wheel, and the heat of the fleece-washing water.
So we're squirrelly these days, here in the foothills of the Catskills, and the nuttiness feels good!

Friday, October 8, 2010

From the Ridiculous to the Sublime

This morning someone posted a link on Facebook about a Southern Baptist minister coming out against yoga..."Mohler said he objects to 'the idea that the body is a vehicle for reaching consciousness with the divine.'"  Wow.  Granted, I don't practice yoga enough to even call my practice sporadic, but I object to the very idea of the separation between body and soul and Divine.  I could almost--almost--feel sorry for him.  My prayer this moment is that those Christians who have found peace in their yogic practice continue to embrace it as the gift from God/dess that it is.  Perhaps if Albert gave it a try, he would experience the enlightenment he's so afraid of.
Ah, but this morning is too beautiful to waste on railing against the Christian Right.  A crystal blue sun-kissed sky, blushing mountains, crisp leaves, a very huggable dog, and ten days' vacation ahead of me are more deserving of my attention.  For a vacation, the to-do list is pretty long, but in addition to those mundane things like housecleaning and finally dealing with the pantry I've wanted to tackle since February, there's Fall decorating, pumpkins, painting (the stairs), seasonal cooking, long walks in the woods withYeti, Autumn in Austerlitz with Linda, wonderful people coming to visit, the NYS Sheep and Wool Festival (which changed so much for me a year ago),  and 'just' embracing October with all the attention and passion one showers on a lover.  Want to join me?  Go outside, and just breathe it in--take in October in all her luscious, abundant, radiant glory...pick some apples, hug a pumpkin.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Ode to Joy

Saturday was a Raising Alpacas 101 course at Spruce Ridge Farm in Chatham.  The drive there itself was worth the price of the course....it was a glory-ous perfect and perfectly Fall day, so beautiful and exquisite it literally brought tears to my eyes from the sheer joy and beauty.  The air was so clear it would have shattered if dropped.  Country roads were lined with golden leaves, and the colors, while perhaps dialed down a bit because of the stresses of the Summer, still glowed richly in the early morning sun.  Three+ inches of rain last week washed everything clean, and revived what is still growing.  I truly felt blessed, and wanted to skip the class, kidnap Linda from work and just ride through the day.  But off to the class I went...Steve McCarthy did a marvelous, honest, detailed class, not wasting a minute.  He shared his passion with our little class of three, but didn't sugarcoat anything, for which I'm deeply grateful.  We learned everything from the history of alpacas to parasites that infect them, to lessons in fiber, to how to trim alpaca toenails.  We learned that dogs and alpacas are a bad mix.  We toured the immaculate farm, and got lessons in the practicalities of creating shelter and fencing for alpacas.  We met Emma from a distance--and congratulations! Steve emailed us yesterday that Emma's newest cria--a girl--was born at 10am--as well as a few others up close.  I would have loved to come home and entitle my blog post I Hugged An Alpaca Today, but it turns out alpacas are shyer than I'd thought, and while they may look cuddly and huggable, many aren't even fond of being petted, let alone hugged.  And we were provided with a delicious lunch to accompany the heaping plates of food for thought (trust me, I brought home plates of the latter!)
I went wanting, among other things, the physical and financial realities, and the course generously and in detail gave us those. Very sadly, raising a herd of alpacas appears to not be in our future.Their lifespan is too long for us to want to start at our ages; the financial realities--the financial outcomes--are far less than we'd hoped....meaning we'd be adding more work to full schedules, not exchanging one type of work for another; Yeti wouldn't have 'a job'; she'd have one more 'no' in her life. We haven't ruled out raising a couple as fiber animals, and plan to keep considering it...and in fact, I think I hope we really do make that choice. But the idea of turning the property into pasture and raising alpacas in volume isn't going to happen. Our own decisions aside, if anyone is ever even thinking about such a thing, I can't sing Spruce Ridge's or Steve McCarthy's praises enough....
Today is Monday....and while the weekend blew by faster than October leaves in a stiff wind, I'm giddy.  I'll work today through Thursday, and then I'm off from work for 10 days!!!!!  Time off in October--can anything be sweeter?

Monday, September 27, 2010

Fall on Your Tongue

I have to share this; it's too awesomely delicious to keep to myself.  I've never made apple butter before, so took several recipes off the internet and combined them to get this:


Fall In A Spoon Apple Butter (a slow cooker recipe)


16-20 apples, cored, peeled, sliced (I used a mix of Honeycrisp, Opalescent, and Ginger Gold)
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cardamom
1/4 tsp salt (okay, probably 1/8 tsp)


--Put all the apple slices in a very large bowl that will allow for ample stirring and tossing.  Add 1/2 tsp vanilla, mix well, repeat with remaining 1/2 tsp.
--Combine remaining ingredients, blend well.  Pour over apples, toss well.
--Pour apples into crockpot (mine is 6 quart), cover with lid.
--Turn on high for 1 hour.
--Reduce heat to low, cook covered for 10 hours.
--Remove lid, turn to high, cook for 1 hour or until it's not too liquidy.  Periodically use a whisk to break up remaining apple pieces.


Voila!  It's done, your house smells exquisite, and Fall is bursting on your tongue in a symphony of abundant sweet spice.  I hear it can be frozen; we ate alot of it (testing is imperative to the creative process), and then canned the rest, yielding 8 preserved cups.  If you haven't canned before, a fantastically helpful site is Pick Your OwnWe refer to it regularly.

Enjoy!!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

"Time is Fleeting...

...madness takes its toll".  As well it might, given how weekends race by at the speed of light!  This one was as short as all its predecessors, but wasn't solely devoted to chores this time.  There was fragrant, bubbling apple butter; a brief, long-overdue but sweet birthday porch visit with a friend who is dearly missed; coffee on our porch this morning; a long ramble through Ramshorn-Livinston Sanctuary with Linda and Yeti; and a journey to Spruce Ridge Farm in Chatham to see alpacas (photos to follow). Ever see the Kohler commercial with the snooty, upper-crusty couple who plops a rather ugly faucet on the internationally famous architect's desk and orders "Design a house around this."?  Well, an alpaca 3' x 5' rug in cream, sand and chocolate has become the inspiration for our one-day upstairs bathroom: a year+ ago we brought home a clawfoot tub to someday put in that room; a minor disaster in the existing 1/2 bath up there last week (miraculously and most efficiently repaired totally by the Jill-of-all-trades I call 'beloved'), and today's rug--which instantly captivated Linda--are all coalescing into a vision for a wonderful bathing retreat.  Of course, we can't even start until we empty the storage room up there, which we can't empty until we clean out the garage so we have somewhere to store all that stuff, and so on and so on and so on. 
Our visit with the alpacas raised again that round-and-round-we-go question: do we want to raise alpacas?  SHOULD we raise alpacas?  My answer before was pretty much "if we aren't ready to even commit to a dog, should we be considering livestock?".  Well, um, there would now be a Yeti sprawled on her back in the office as I write, so we've jumped that hurdle.  Should we wait until an alpaca as unceremoniously and unexpectedly crosses our path?  Do we want one to hug and cuddle and give Yeti something to herd (the cats have made it clear with barely a glance that they are not now, nor will they ever be, open to herding  by Yeti or anyone else, thank you very much), and occasionally get some fleece from for spinning and knitting as a bonus? Or do we want a life of beekeeping and raising alpacas (and maybe some sheep and goats) and growing herbs and such because that's what the next curve in the path is leading us to? 
So let's recap....cooler temperatures, lovely scenery, some healthy exercise, engaging conversation, lots of adorable critters both foreign and domestic, good food, plans and mind-twisters, and a whole day spent savoring Linda's company while not attending to an excess of chores.  I'd call that a successful weekend....any wonder I can't bear to see it end?

Friday, September 24, 2010

"Do Not Attempt to Adjust the Picture...

there is nothing wrong with your television set...".  That's what flitted through my head driving home from work this afternoon.  The Fall colors are there, but already weary and muddy; the haze has erased the mountains, leaving only ghostly imprints of where they once ruled.  Leaves are skittering across the road, crisp and dry from drought, not cooling temperatures, and the very air looks baked and burned.  Where, may I ask, is Fall?  This doesn't even qualify as "Indian Summer"; there's a mean harshness to it...not the soft, gentle warmth of an October Indian Summer day.

Any idea where I might lodge a formal protest?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

I Survived...and Now It's Fall

Or at least, it will be Fall in 17 hours.  It was a long difficult Summer.  Work supplied seemingly endless challenges and stress, the weather was brutally hot and dry, we said goodbye to two much-loved cats, hid in the air-conditioned bedroom for days on end, and dreamt of Fall.  And while the forecast for the next three days (90 on Friday?!  Are you kidding me?!) belies the astronomical event that is the Fall Equinox tonight, the dreams are becoming reality.  We've had a fire three evenings in the last week (okay, one of them was to make Linda happy; I was in shorts and a T-shirt).  I slept in fuzzy socks two nights ago. There's been pumpkin bread and carrot soup.  More importantly, last night's wind had an October sound; the leaves and grasses are turning (granted, it's early, and probably induced more by lack of water than Fall temperatures); the sunlight this morning, when I walked Yeti  to the cow pasture and back, was liquid gold as it rippled through leaves.  The male hummingbirds have already left to scout out South American winter love nests, pumpkins and winter squashes are piled high at the Farmers' Market, squirrels are racing about frantically, stockpiling for lean, cold months ahead, and we already have mice in the house (deep sigh).  I'm making plans...from finally covering my fabulous yard-sale -found cedar-lined wool storage chest with the atrocious 1970s blonde finish, to gathering wool of all kinds so I can get back to knitting (I have a scarf to finish, three more to make AND a throw to complete--all in time for Christmas; alas, Linda's sweater will be a post-Christmas project), to staining and assembling--or watching Linda assemble--the spinning wheel, to planning with delight for the arrival of friends in October (and October will be beyond-words-decadent, because after the painfully long Summer at work, I'm taking lots of vacation time during my favorite month; I'll actually be home more days than at work for one blessed month!!). Summer is grasping at life with now-bony fingers, fighting to the death (could this be part of the meaning behind skeletons at Halloween?), but after tonight's delicate, momentary balancing-of-the-scales at 11:09 pm, only the remnants, memories and last gasps will remain. For many people in the northern hemisphere,  Fall--and her sister Winter--gift us with a time of turning inward, of contemplation, dormancy, rest and restoration; for me it's all of that, a season of ritual--but a time I feel well and truly alive.  I'm all for adding a pumpkin or two and tipping the scales my way right this moment!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Ah....Now I Remember

Yeti and I strolled through the Ramshorn-Livingston Sanctuary this morning, and as we listened to water shushing through cattails and loosestrife and the chittering of flocks of redwing blackbirds, watched the powerful flight of a great blue heron, felt the kiss of sunlight and caress of Fall-like breeze, I realized how much I've missed long woodsy wanderings.  For years, taking walks in the woods was a natural and magickal part of my life.  I've done ritual within a ring of ancient trees and had a herd of deer dash through my circle.  I've celebrated the first day of Spring in the rain, surrounded by woods high atop a bluff looking over the Hudson...and been awed that my candles stayed lit until the ritual was done, despite the raindrops.  I once walked the dappled paths at Stonykill feeling truly broken by a relationship that was causing as much suffering as pleasure.  As I wandered, crying, railing at the Universe and asking the Goddess for wisdom and solace, She led me to a nut, cracked open with a gaping wound but fresh and green, and whispered that sometimes one's heart has to be broken open so it can heal and grow.  Once while racing to teach a class, my car navigated itself on a detour to my then-favorite wooded place.  Although I argued about having someplace to be, I was soon at the edge of a woodland pond, and was gifted with an otherworldly joy that surged from the Earth, through my body, fountaining out of my head and raining back down into every cell, and back to the Earth Herself.  Only then was I allowed to head to my class.  For years the woods were my home, my place of peace, and solitary walks weren't lonely; they were the moments that I shut up and listened to Her.  Today I remembered all of that--the joy, the peace, the comfort, the whisperings, the wisdom...and while wandering with a Yeti is a wee bit different than the meditative meanderings of the past, for sure these woodsy walks are making a welcome and most blessed return.....

Friday, September 10, 2010

West and Wewaxation

The title of the post is a nod to Elmer Fudd, of course, as well as summing up my weekend plans.  I was horrified today to learn that Oscar the Grouch is no longer grouchy, and Cookie Monster has abandoned cookies for carrots.  THIS is what my PBS dollars are paying for?   Granted, the showing of the Royal Shakespeare Company's Hamlet with Patrick Stewart was great, and I'm an Antiques Roadshow slut (an earlier post pointed out that one version of a perfect evening includes knitting and watching as one person or another discovers that the hideous vase left to them by Great Uncle George is worth gazillions of dollars), but to learn of the bastardization of Sesame Street was truly sad.  Okay, granted, I'm pretty exhausted at the end of several days of rising at 5am and leaving work at 8pm, so maybe I'm overreacting, but seriously????  Cookie Monster now sings the CARROT song??????  And Oscar the Grouch is a 'nice grouch'?  'O" is for Oxymoron....let's say it together!
On an absolutely unrelated note, abandoned work a couple of hours early today, and headed home. My weary soul perked up just a bit as I hit the bridge and the mountains came into view.  The air was clear and cool, the river sighed and ruffled with the wind, and there was enough shadow-and-light play that every dip and hidden valley was visible, aching to be stroked, the velvety curves longing to be traced by a celestial finger.  I could happily have nestled into those inviting folds and slept more deeply deeper and contentedly than Rip Van Winkle ever did.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Weary Thoughts on a Thursday Morning

1) I may have been an early riser my whole life, but getting up day after day at 5 or 5:30 is literally exhausting. 2) The scent of of a warm dog on a cool morning as she nuzzles me while I'm on the computer is actually kind of earthy and pleasant. 3)The 24 lbs I've lost following Weight Watchers since June is taking a hit, and getting on the scale tomorrow will be disturbing.  Note to self: next time you buy cookies for the customers during a rush period, buy cookies that you DON'T like.  Exhaustion and stress are a fatal tag team! 4) Getting home after 8 at night and then leaving again by 6:45am is decidedly unpleasant. 5) Fall is racing towards us now; I can see it even through the windows on a hot day. 6) Dehydrating grapes creates exquisite smells, but one needs to SEED the grapes first! 7) I'm dreaming of my fabulous carrot parsnip soup (okay, Moosewood's carrot parsnip soup!) and my cranberry pumpkin bread. 7) Is it Friday yet????  Please?????

Saturday, September 4, 2010

The Sheer Yeti-ness of It All

Last night we took Yeti for her--our--first training session with Charlene Marchand, a renowned trainer.  It was fascinating and surprisingly hard work, but we look forward to helping Yeti be even more wonderful than she is.  We've become 'those people', those folks who want their dog with them everywhere, so we need to learn how to help Yeti be one of 'those dogs' who can join us on our wanderings and explorations. A couple of nights ago, Linda took some Yeti photos as the sun was setting.  Gorgeous, isn't she?
We're so glad that she's come into our lives....

And Then It Happened

Although this past week was brutally hot, seems like everything got the memo about Fall just when the calendar page flipped.  Last night we were slightly north of here; the yellowing leaves and golden grasses told us Summer is releasing her stranglehold.  This morning, Yeti and I watched squirrels--red and gray--chasing each other up and down the black walnut tree.  Linda and I saw low-flying geese. And my sister, Yeti and I went walking at the Greenport Conservation Area; fallen leaves were sprinkled about on paths that were leafless a week ago.  On Tuesday I'll dive into a two-week work frenzy during which I'll barely see the light of day; it's so strange to think that when I emerge, we'll be mere days away from the official start of Fall...but it feels like I've never longed for it as much as this year.
This Fall celebrates the anniversary of two love affairs.  Six years ago, over the course of a glorious Fall, I fell profoundly, deeply, and passionately in love with Linda, and it never ceases to amaze me how blessed I am that--for inexplicable reasons--she fell in love with me too.  And a year ago, I embarked on my wild and wooly affair with wool.  There's been alot of experimentation, some daring, a little flirting and alot of wallowing in the wooliness of it all.  Today I marked--just a wee bit early--the beginning of the affair by ordering my own spinning wheel!  In a few short weeks, an Ashford double drive Traveler will take up residence here (um, a note to my aforementioned beloved: ya know how you LIKE assembling things?  Did I mention the wheel comes UNassembled in addition to unfinished???  Got any plans for late September?).  And since the NYS Sheep and  Wool Festival is in October, I can't wait to bring home bags of roving to work with!  I'm anxious to have lots of time for knitting and spinning, and will have some time off in October to sit out on the porch soaking up colors and coolness, feeling the wool on my skin, sipping cider, listening to the rustle of leaves.  Is it any wonder that my longing is outpacing the final days of Summer?

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Present

I'll admit that these days, as the work pace and associated stress pick up (not that it was exactly a leisurely Summer), my thoughts are turning more and more to lush longings....partaking of my famous pumpkin bread and coffee by the fire, hearing Yeti--and Linda--crunch through leaves, drinking in glorious colors that illuminate the soul, nestling into flannel shirts and soft blankets.  Fall isn't here yet; I've heard her whisper, but she's not here....which is just as well because I won't see the light of day (except on weekends) for the next three weeks!  But I find myself waiting, yearning for her arrival as one awaits a lover who has been away too long, much as I used to be consumed by anticipation of Linda's arrival when we were building a relationship over 300 miles. My beloved and I will celebrate six years together this Fall...that adds to my profound love of this approaching season.  All I know is the promise of Fall's imminent arrival is what carries me through the final hot breath of Summer, the long, stressful days, and too short nights....She's coming, and I for one will welcome her with open arms.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Rainy Days and Mondays

The Weather Channel was quoting the Carpenters this morning when giving the forecast for a wet and windy Monday.  Rainy days don't bring me down, especially when they can be spent properly (as yesterday was not), but yeah....those Mondays are a killer!
My fantasy?  I'm dreaming of a wild and woolly day, one in which I can flit from scarf to never-to-be-completed- sweater, practice some sadly neglected spinning, with rest breaks of reading and napping.  The reality that awaits is a long and hectic work week.  Sigh.  But Linda and I worked diligently this weekend and the week's meals are already prepared, ironing is done for a couple of weeks, and Yeti is once again pretty and fresh-smelling courtesy of the Universal Dog Wash. We even had a date night and saw The Kids Are All Right.  Small victories, right?

Friday, August 20, 2010

Yee-hah!

Pretty pleased so needed to post this little bit of success.  On June 1st I stepped on a scale and was very unhappy--and scared--with the number staring me in the face.  So I got serious...started using the Weight Watchers Online program I'd been paying for every month and ignoring for two years, started really paying attention to how and what I ate--ya know, fruit is pretty darn good!, even got in some exercise (Yeti's been assisting with that!)....and today I reached my first (of many) significant weight goals, and have lost 21.2 lbs!  There's a long, looonngg way to go, but I'm thinking this is really going to work.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Blast From the Past

Yesterday we went to the Columbia Greene Humane Society's annual Paw Picnic.  The weather was gorgeous, the setting--Waldorf Farm in North Chatham--serene and impeccably beautiful, the hosts gracious and generous,  the auction lively, the food absolutely delicious, and the organization of the event seemingly seamless and flawless.  The afternoon was capped by a fun, friendly, intimate performance by David Cassidy--yes, THAT David Cassidy.  It was a delightful blast from the past (his rendition of Bill Withers' Ain't No Sunshine was damn good, and I rarely like covers), and my favorite image of the day is the womon rocking it out near the front row, waving her Patridge Family lunchbox in the air as he ended the performance with--of course--I Think I Love You.

Friday, August 13, 2010

In the Wink of an Eye

It's August already, people!  MID-August, in fact!  When did this happen?  Probably while I was buried alive in my office, or huddled in the chilly air-conditioned bedroom hiding from the exhausting heat and humidity that has poached this rapidly waning Summer.  Okay, so maybe you knew Summer was flying by, and are wondering what sparked a similar realization for me.  Grapes. While watering the blueberry bushes this morning, I peeked over at the grapes....the Concords are definitely starting to purple up, and the Reliance--candy that grows on vines--are blushing, with just a whisper yet of sugar sweetness that lingers on the tongue.  They aren't quite ready, but in a week or two, our half-dozen Reliance bunches will be harvested (and gone!).  The yarrow and coneflowers are dry, tired and ready to call it quits, but admittedly, we haven't hit 'the moment' yet, the moment that happens sometime every August when you glance around and realize everything has a blowsy, stretched-and-tattered-crepe-paper, stayed-too-long-at-the-party look.  We're not there yet, but it's coming.....the squirrels are racing around gathering black walnuts bigger than their heads, parents and children are crowding the stores shopping for school supplies, the stars are falling from the sky (not that we've seen them with the cloud cover, but tonight, maybe).  Apples are appearing at the Farm Markets.  And one morning this week, while walking Yeti, I caught just the faintest scent of Fall on the breeze.  It vanished like a firefly's light, but for one breath, Fall made Her promise.....

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Friday, August 6, 2010

Um, Watchdog? Not So Much...

Imagine my surprise when I walked into the kitchen, where Yeti was sprawled on the floor, just in time to see the UPS guy walking away from the door having just left a package.  The front door is open, leaving only the screen door between us and the world.  Yeti's head (and thus her eyes and ears, being a normally-put-together-canine) were 11 feet from said screen door.  Was I greeted by barking?  Or even, "Hey mom there's a stranger at the door you gotta come deal with this!!!" alertness?  That would be a big no. Nada. Ne rien. Zippo. She woke up when I opened the door to get the package.  While safety was not part of our motivation for having a dog, a little communication about strangers at the door wouldn't have hurt.  Well, at least we know we're totally safe from being ambushed by killer rabbits with big teeth.
And the package?  The Relaxation and Stress Reduction Workbook, published by New Harbinger Press, and also 'prescribed' (along with the Wii Fit Plus Yoga) by my doctor.  Personally, I prefer a menage a trois with Ben and Jerry for stress reduction, but since that's out of the picture these days, we'll give the book and yoga a try!

Good Things

A couple of days off; dinner on the back porch with Linda, my sons, my sister, and younger son's girlfriend; watching hummingbirds and then bats as the evening progressed; letting Yeti meet everyone; laughing so hard it hurt; Nestle frozen pineapple bars; waking up to a clean house (okay, cleanER) after having prepared for company; Weather Channel promises that the humidity is finally going to drop; anticipating the fun we are going to have with the doctor prescribed Wii Fit Plus (we'd been wanting one but had put it off due to cost, but when my doctor recommended the Yoga program in it as a 'treatment' for my over-the-top stress--seriously, she did--we took the plunge and I'll hook it up today); seeing the scale numbers continue to drop; the bursting sweetness of the orange cherry tomatoes picked in our garden yesterday; looking forward to a weekend with more good things like Farmers' Markets and maybe picking up my knitting again; and this:

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Of Luck and Life

Yeti is turning out to be, as Linda said, a dream dog.  She may be a collie/Aussie shepherd mix, but her temperment appears to be very much that of the calmer, less intensely workaholic collie.  She sleeps on the floor in our bedroom at night, not disturbing us, and not making a fuss when one or the other of us needs to get up briefly in the middle of the night.  We take her for long walks, but each day we can see her behaving a bit better on the leash--even this morning when we spied a young buck dashing across the road right in front of us, she didn't bark and while she'd have gladly given chase, she responded to my redirection.  This afternoon Linda took her out in the yard--off the leash at last! Linda settled down among the coneflowers to watch her romp, but there was no romping.  There was flopping down in the grass and looking around calmly.  We may have indeed lucked out with our Yeti...or, when the cool weather arrives, we may find her inner shepherd emerges and wears us out....
Work....not so much luck there; I need the current project to be done so I can move on mentally. Missed my sweater knitting class because I needed to be at work tonight.  This is not terrible; I confess to having only accomplished about two inches of actual sweater (beyond the three inches of ribbing) thus far, even though I knit each evening I was in Missouri. We're off our evening routines since a certain furry being entered our lives, and it'll take awhile to find our rhythms. But still, I had intended to go to class and knit away whilst Claudia explained things, and it's unfortunate that work interfered. Last night was sweet though....as twilight slipped in the back door, I watered the garden beds, sneaking peeks at Linda and Yeti hanging out on the porch, watching the bats hurrying out for the night's feasting.  And Tuesday night we were graced by magically good fortune in the guise of a hummingbird moth!  These are fascinating, imagination-stirring creatures, and I've longed to see one in our yard.  Many years ago I visited the gardens at Boscobel as a prelude to seeing a performance of Shakespeare (as an aside, if one has never seen a performance of the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival, on the grounds of Boscobel overlooking the river, one has missed an exquisite experience), and the gardens were kissed by dozens of these fairy-like beings.  I was entranced then, so you can well imagine how lucky I felt when Linda spied one tasting the cleomes, just inches away.  I tried taking photos, but haven't downloaded them yet. 
Luck is extending to the gardens as well; once the tomatoes start really ripening, we'll be buried alive in them, based on the sheer volume of green promises!  In the meantime, the Farmer's Market is taking on a rosy glow as tomatoes start appearing.  Linda tells me the peaches are wonderful this year, and I'm still enjoying the sweet apricots; this week I suspect plums will make their way home with us.  So life is (mostly) feeling pretty damn lucky.....

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Copycat Baby

This morning, while taking Yeti for an early morning walk, I was blessed by the Moon, just a sigh past Full, resting in a pink-blue sky.  It reminded me of a glorious sunrise cruise Linda and I took a couple of years ago on Lake Millinocket in Maine.  A blog I follow regularly, Mental Mohair, includes a Moon Phase feature, which I refer to often.  So with a nod to that site in thanks for the inspiration--and apologies for copying--I've added the Moon Phase gadget to my blog in hopes you'll enjoy it and refer to it often as much as I do.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Blessings

Yeti has already turned out to be full of surprises.  She's affectionate, sweet, gentle, and unexpectedly well-behaved.  Even the barking we were advised about has turned out to be far less of an issue than we'd feared.  It's there, and the dogs across the street are definitely inspiration for Yeti's own orations, but she's barely barked at all today.  She's currently stretched out on her bed here in the office, and we're looking forward to a bit of a ramble later.  Sadly, Dottie is taking this pretty badly; we'd hoped that, having grown up with assorted raccoon orphans that Linda fostered each Spring for many years, Dottie would take Yeti in stride, but she's a tad unhappy.  The others are keeping a low profile, so the jury is out, and of course no one has met anyone except through a screened door.  Yeti is interested in the girls, but after some well-mannered, staying-put, perky-eared curiosity, her attention wanders elsewhere.
We're getting used to the smell of dog, and have thoroughly enjoyed the beginnings of gettingto know each other.  Tomorrow we pick up our usual schedules, while figuring out a routine that works well for Yeti...life is never, EVER dull here.....

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Yeti Has Landed

We were surprised and pleased to have Yeti greet us at the shelter as if we were old acquaintances.  The trip home was uneventful, and after a couple hours of barking and fidgeting (both understandable), she's had an unexpectedly calm afternoon.  After dinner for all of us, we're planning what will be the first of thousands of long walks....but I wanted to share a couple of photos first:


















Baby-Proofing

It's been twenty-two years since I last had to think about baby-proofing....but we're in a frenzy of activity here, putting away saws and organic fertilizer, looking at the debris of two very busy people living who always have multiple projects underway (and project-attention-deficit), whether it be landscaping and gardening, or painting or beekeeping or spinning, and asking ourselves "is this safe?  will she chew this, taste that?".  Yeti isn't a puppy, which is both easier and harder.  And we're bringing this shaggy, furry dog to our one-air-conditioner-home on a day with 100+ heat index forecasted. Feeling pretty nervous--will she like us? Will she be happy? Will she be too much for us given her breed? Will the cats freak out and run away? But this all happened in such a way that we're kind of feeling it was meant to be.  So we'll get back to our preparations, and in a few hours will be walking in the door with our new family member.

We're Off to See the Yeti

Or, What We Did This Weekend.....We have a boatload to do in a short time, so this is a quickie.  Someone I know came into my office last week wanting to show me the Columbia-Greene Humane Society's website photo of the dog she was planning to adopt.  As we scrolled through looking for this person's chosen companion, one particular dog caught my eye, and through the evening I kept thinking about her; showed her picture to Linda and, well, not-very-long-story later, after spending lots of time researching, and meeting her, taking her for a walk, hanging out with her, Linda and I held hands and took a flying leap off the cliff.....we are bringing our dog home this afternoon!  We'd been discussing getting a dog for more than a year, although that was usually in reference to a puppy. But....she was brought into the shelter a month ago by someone who said she was 'found', but she clearly isn't a stray.  She appears well-trained and well-behaved, a beautiful collie/Australian shepherd mix with one brown eye and one blue.  Yes, we know.....we know all about the need for huge amounts of exercise (guess we'll both be goosing up that weight loss with long brisk dog walks and play times), and that she may try to herd the cats, and that both breeds are extremely intelligent, loyal and loving.  We know she has a "speaking habit" which will require patience and firmness and training so we stay sane.  Her shelter-appointed name is Yeti and after much deliberation, last night we had name tag printed with that name.  So we're now (or will be this afternoon) owners of one of those elusive, perhaps mythological creature.  MUCH more to follow....including photos!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Because I Can

Posting from the Albany Airport on a Sunday morning....and it tickles me that I can write a blog entry from here (hey, one needs to be able to find pleasure and amusement in the little things!). Heading to Missouri on business...not the most fun one can have. Until I was 43, had been on airplanes twice in my life, at 18 for a trip to Florida, and when my older son turned 3, because he loved planes and we took him on a little charter flight. Then in 2004 I met Linda, who lived 300 miles away in Baltimore. There ensued 21 months of flying back and forth, and before long I felt like a veteran flyer. On the one hand, it's easy to be laissez-faire about it all, to sigh about the inconveniences of security checkpoints where one's toothpaste is presumed to be a lethal weapon, to know that paying a few extra dollars is worth it when you get first access to overhead bins, to recognize the gate attendants. On the other hand, what a miraculous thing air travel is. I woke in our home at the foot of the Catskills (after a glorious storm at 2 am!) and will sleep in St. Louis tonight. I'll fly over rivers and farms, cities and woods. I'll admire layers of roving-like cloud and my fingers will itch to spin it. I'll imagine how wonderful and exciting it would be to have Linda beside me, flying to some destination we'd never been. And in three days I'll do it all in reverse, flying home to my beloved, to the comfortable familiarity of home. How amazing is that? A hundred years ago no one could have imagined such a thing being such a small matter....but then, a hundred years ago, no one imagined words flying from one place to another nearly as fast as the speed of thought. It's an astonishing, magical world....
An addendum, as I now sit in my third airport of the day, awaiting a two-hour shuttlebus trip to the hotel:  air travel is full of contradictions.  There is aggravation; it should be illegal to wear perfume/cologne/after shave, or to miss a shower, before embarking on close quarters travel.  There should be free earplugs for passengers not purposely flying with crying, screaming children.  But there is also mystery and imaginings....who are these people sharing this moment in time?  Why are there no people in ANY of the bizarrely, extremely blue swimming pools in Tampa?  Are all those tiny cars carrying people heading to church on a Sunday morning?  Or to stores and family gatherings?  Are all cemetaries as peaceful and pretty from  the air as the ones in St. Louis?  What joys and sorrows will all those people in the shadows of the clouds so far below us experience today?

Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Aforementioned Coneflowers

Some photos Linda took yesterday:

One of Linda's bees found treasure. Those little yellow 'balloons' on her legs are the pollen she's collected to bring home to the hive.




Yesterday morning was perfect for gathering Queen Anne's Lace and coneflowers to bring inside.  In the background you can see the green tulle protecting the grapes from their mortal enemy, the Japanese beetles.  Linda is one smart cookie! (Helen says the Greeks
have been doing this forever, but it was new to us)



Not just for honeybees....

Who would have thought a honeybee
and a flower could be a work of art?

You Know It's Summer

When the "crunchy bugs" start their chatter.  Yeah, that's what I always called them until I finally discovered they're cicadas (they probably are crunchy, if one were so inclined as to check it out).  Not a fan of the bugs or that sound, but hey--if I were a female cicada, I might be swooning as some young, studly cicada sang his crunchy lovesong.  The other Summer bug call--which seems to heighten the hotter the weather--sounds like heavy duty electrical wires humming.  There will be silence, then all at once a humming that builds to a crescendo and abruptly plummets off into silence, until it begins again.  Does anyone know what those insects are?
You also know it's Summer when at 6:30 in the morning, the yard is shrouded in mist, the kind of foggy mist that happens when the moisture has nowhere to go, so it embraces the trees, drapes itself around the tomatoes, hugs the coneflowers and petunias so their colors are glowing runway lights for the birds. The catbirds, wrens and assorted other neighborhood birds use the mist as cover for a game of Marco-Polo, calling to each other, ducking in and out of the ornamental quince (except for the dashing cardinal who perched on a green arbor post in all his scarlet glory).  Amid the love songs and bluejay calls, I listen to the droplets sliding off the gutters and table umbrella and admire their simple, transformational beauty as they ring tomato cages and the insinuate themselves into the green tulle protecting the grapes from Japanese beetles.You know it's going to be a hot day, but for just a little while, before the sun tops the hill behind the house and melts the gossamer web, it's still cool....the coffee steam clings to the moisture in the air and its scent lingers, a welcome and comforting stranger mingling with the spice of petunias and tang of mint.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Boundary Issues

My beeloved honey needs to set some clearcut boundaries pretty darn quickly. I absolutely support her beekeeping efforts--how awesome that in her way she's literally helping to save the planet! And it's fantastic that she truly loves the bees, and seems to have an almost spiritual connection to them and the work--the calling--of beekeeping. HOWEVER....I am not amused that they periodically come a callin', buzzing at the front door to ask if she can come out and play, or even worse, as just happened, wandering INSIDE the house! Yes indeedy, I looked up from my work (no, haven't made it upstairs yet, even though brilliantly turquoise fleece is calling my name) to see a honeybee on the decidedly wrong side (as in, MY side) of the screen door. There's a garden bed FILLED with yarrow and echinacea 100 feet away...does the plantless office really seem like the place to be if one is a bee? I think not!

Swampy

We braved the elements to hit the Hudson Farmers' Market this morning (okay, so the rain had stopped, and since the humidity this week has caused us to begin to grow gills anyway, there wasn't alot of valor involved); I was all business, list in hand, shopping with a purpose and avoiding the temptations of cheeses and pies.  Linda took a couple of photos with her cell phone (we invariably forget the camera when we mean to bring it, and always remember it when there's absolutely nothing to inspire a shutterbug):

Fog and Thistle Farm's table
(note the lovely--and last--bunch of carrots, now in our crisper awaiting their addition to a Sesame-Ginger Pasta Salad)



Alas, I didn't catch this vendor's name,
but they were selling pure sunshine....
'Swampy' also describes my state of mind this week.  Work is a tad overwhelming at the moment; one might think Summer would be a quiet time, but this year it's anything but as I've taken on a couple of major projects, both very time-sensitive...in fact, I'm taking a break from some tedious-but-necessary work-related endeavors (brought the work home) to post this.  A gorgeous yellow butterfly has just found the purple echinaceas...a little shaft of light kissing each flowerhead.  Last night we got to watch a hummingbird trying to get lucky; did you know that the male hummingbird will fly in a swooping, swinging, pendulum-like pattern as part of the courtship ritual?  It's astonishing to watch.  This fellow wasn't exactly in it for the long haul, suspending his dance after just a few swoops, so I'm not sure how that all worked out for him.  The petunias on the porch rail--fully visible from my office chair--are glowingly neon hot pink and purple in the hazy gray day, and everything looks just a wee bit fresher from today's rain.  I'm itching to toss aside my work....really, it COULD mostly wait till the work week begins....and head upstairs to cooler, drier climes and do some long overdue carding and spinning.  I suspect that surrendering to that urge is the antidote to mental bogginess...



Sunday, July 4, 2010

Gooseberries and Garlic Scapes

We've gleefully resumed our Saturday morning ritual after a Winter hiatus:  wandering the Hudson Farmers' Market.  Last week's treasures included a gloriously abundant potted hyancinth bean and a sweetly 'vintage' (if flowers can have a vintage look) black-eyed Susan vine from Running Creek Farm; we believe the variety is called Blushing Susie, and we were instantly smitten.  Today we returned from our foraging laden with a favorite of ours-- Twin Maples' Hudson Red cheese, a semi-soft, creamily tangy cheese worth driving for, garlic scapes--and a profoundly sinful, anti-Weight Watchers Garlic Scape Pesto recipe, some of which is now tucked away in the freezer for some cold Winter night--from Scarecrow Farm, basil from Red Oak Farm--one of our favorite vendors from last year (lots of reasonably priced organic produce in beautiful shape), and gooseberries from Don Baker Farm.  Had never tried gooseberries....most intriguing!  They remind me of Concord grapes because they have a sweet bite followed by a tart finish.  The Farmers' Market was bustling, and tables were heavy with goodness, including beets, snap peas, cucumbers, garlic, kale, lettuces, summer squashes, currants and sour cherries.  There are some new vendors this year, and one can come home with a wide selection of pies and breads, homemade soap, cut flowers and plants, along with eggs, grassfed beef, free range chicken, wool, jams, honey....It's an embarrassment of riches, all locally grown.  We'll likely stop by most Saturday mornings right through the Fall, and on the way home, we pop by Egger Brothers' farm stand, where the selection is abundant and often JUST-picked (as in, we see the produce arriving in the back of pickup trucks fresh from the fields/orchards) and the prices are excellent. While we're too lazy to be true locavores, there's is something body-and-soul nourishing in deciding what's for dinner based on what's freshly harvested within 20 miles of home. 
Afterwards, we stopped by the Catskill Farmers' Market, now on Main Street in the village.  Truthfully, there are more artisans than farms represented, but the move to Main Street this year seems to be a popular choice.  For sure it's brought us there twice more already than we would have gone were it still at Catskill Point.  While the Point was a pretty location, and sheltered from rain, this new location creates a welcoming, intimate, hometown feeling, and as still-newcomers to the area, that's greatly appreciated. They've set up a little cafe area in the center, and it tickled us to sit there on a warm, sunny, Summer Saturday morning sipping coffee, watching the blueberry-pancake-eating contest, saying hello to people, and admiring the annual Cat display.  We found ourselves just grinning with that life-is-good kind of feeling.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Pictures Are Worth...Etc.

Been promising some photos, so...

  Sundown Echinacea and an unnamed yarrow




Linda's sweater-to-be, three rows done.
Hard to extrapolate from here....






My first--and possibly last--hat! 



                                                 
 







"Be one with the peonies."






No words needed....








Grapey abundance
 
Ending as we began, tiptoeing through yarrow and echinacea...

Friday, June 25, 2010

In 60 Seconds or Less

Minus photos, still...but they're coming:

Linda--in love with the bees; ordered two more hives and bee packages (shipped from Georgia).  Most bees arrived dead, including one of the queens (and the other is iffy).  She's on her way back from having zipped up to Better Bee near Saratoga to pick up new queens.  Lesson learned--don't go with shipped bees.

Knitting--made a roll-brim hat!!!  Yep, me--I knit a hat, start to finish.  Okay, so I was ready to toss it out the window trying to finish off those final stitches with the circular needles, only to find out last night that I was supposed to use double-pointed needles for the final stitches.  Oh!  Is that what they were for???  Last night, officially started Linda's sweater (the sweater-knitting 4-part clinic) in a cozy Cascade 220 heathered burgundy; took it apart this afternoon when it got so twisted up I couldn't tell where I was at.  So far I'm liking knitting squares and rectangles better; circular needles are instruments of torture.  Gotta say this....Claudia of Country Wool is just fantastic.  I'm so far out of the league of the other students in the class, but she juggles assorted skill levels in a way that never leaves me feeling out of the loop or like I shouldn't be there.

Monday evening, for reasons we still don't understand, Zamboni died.  Zammy (aka Zammy Beans, Zambalya, ZeeBone, ZeeBee, Zamboni Macaroni) was a mushmelon of a cat, loving beyond all reason, affectionate and sweet-natured.  She never did learn exactly how to meow like a real cat, and from the very beginning, loved to be held like a baby.  Someone once commented that she had eyes more human than cat, and it's true.  She is deeply missed.  I realize, writing this, that I never paid homage to Cootie, who had to be put down not quite two months ago.  Age and assorted health issues had taken over Miss Coots, who had been blind since '06, and although her brave, sweet spirit was still fighting the good fight, her tiny body just didn't have anything left; we needed to let her go.  She too is missed terribly, and the house feels noticeably emptier with our two indoor (or mostly indoor in ZeeBee's case) cats gone. 

The end of May had me in a serious funk, and one of the things that came out of it was a renewed desire to finally get healthy.  Thanks to Weight Watchers, have lost 12 lbs so far.  It's a long, long road, but it feels like this is the right time.

That's the synopsis....photos to follow; wait till you see Linda's excellent, non-chemical solution to the Japanese beetle problem that ravages our grapes every year!  We're looking at the potential of several quarts of grapes this year and we weren't going to lose them to beetles...my beloved is one smart cookie!