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Showing posts from May, 2010

flowers and Farm fare

I feel like lately all I write amounts to blatherings on how our gardens are progressing. Yesterday I wandered around and wondered at how everything seems to sneak open and surprise me though I pass by the garden everyday. All around our house the purple irises have been blooming, but now joining those are a purple/yellow blended iris; pink peonies have burst forth from their tight fists into glorious flowers; day liles are still present and trumpeting; lilies of the valley clang in the wind--white bells; now I am pacing back and forth waiting to see the fruits of our more recent labors.

TSO's gladiolus are tall and leggy, but flowerless; my triteleias are growing, steady sharp points, but so far from flowering that I grow impatient looking at them. I am now looking eagerly for signs of all of last weekends work; scanning for sunflowers, cosmos, broomcorn, anything new that will add to our gardens beauty.

Down at my garden plot watering my mounds of pumpkins, cucumbers and water…

music for us to enjoy

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I know I am a little ahead of the game--the 50th anniversary isn't until July--but I saw this article yesterday and had to share it.

For many of us To Kill a Mockingbird was required reading in school--for me it never was, so I took it upon myself to read it. I came to To Kill a Mockingbird when I was in seventh grade; my family had just uprooted from a private school back to public school (nearly an hour away); I was virtually friendless, lonely and unhappy; I didn't know who or what to believe in anymore and I was angry at the world. I fell into Harper Lee's book; was amused with Scout, who reminded me of myself; envied Atticus Finch, who's patience was something to marvel at.

It has been nearly 20 years since last I read To Kill a Mockbird--though only months since last I watched the movie (which I love)--so it is time to read it again. Here's to you Harper Lee. Happy 50th.

"I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage i…

plants on the ground, plants on the ground

In New England it is usually good to wait until Memorial Day to put your seeds and plants (unless otherwise advised) in the ground. But, after reading the weather report for this week leading up to Memorial Day I decided that it would probably be okay to start putting seeds in the ground. Last year TSO and I shared a garden plot, which is what we'll be doing again this year, but I will also have one to myself for my inchers; mounds for my Baby Pam pie pumpkins and Howden carving pumpkins, double yield cucumbers and Chelsea watermelons whose bumpy dirt humps grew all around me in my garden plot as I stooped under a warm sun.

After I arrived home TSO and I planted seeds in our flower beds; sunflowers: mammoths, evening suns, Aztec golds and Chianti, all planted mixed together in a long row in front of the broom corn. As he raked away wood chips and made a long narrow trough I planted his vininig and twining morning glories and moonflowers at the bottom of the front porch stairs, th…

interesting articles #851

Some interesting articles about Michigan libraries:

This article is about the Ferndale Public Library (near where I used to live) going green.

This article is about the Troy Public Library (the city I was living in before I moved out East) losing it's library. This library is great and ranked as one of the best in the state; how horrible.

strawberry rhubarb crumble amazement

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After arriving home from the Farmer's Market I decided to make dinner for the roomies and myself; our list eventually growing to include: TSO, RugbyGirl, EvanAlmighty, Christy, FLGirl and myself.
Lacking the creative juices to come up with a dinner menu, I started by baking a strawberry rhubarb crumble; wanting to make this crumble was the whole reason I had seeked out rhubarb (and non-local strawberries--I know, I know). I was basing my crumble off of Heidi of 101cookbooks.com's Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble found here. I simplified my recipe a little bit: 1. Chop rhubard into 3/4 inch thick slices

2. Slice 1 lb. of strawberries
3. Toss rhubarb and strawberries in 1 Tbsp. of cornstarch, 3/4-1 cup of sugar (white is fine)

4. Dump mixture into a sprayed (oiled) pan. 5. **This is where I cheated to save time**
Sprinkle already made granola on top of the strawberry/rhubarb mixture.
We make it here at the Farm (almost weekly) and it is the best granola I've ever had, so why reinvent …

fruits of my market trip

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My trip to two Farmer's Markets (last week) nearby the Farm proved to be, well, fruitful. The Farmer's Market in Otis, MA--small, held in a local gas station parking lot--provided me with a small bleeding heart plant for the shady side of our house. The Farmer's Market in Great Barrington, MA was bigger, with more selections and a wider variety of goods: plants/flowers, meats, breads/pastries, soups, etc.  While I left Otis with only a plant I walked away from the GB Farmer's Market with three tomato plants--two varities new to me: Cherokee Purple and Green Zebra. I thought it would be fun to mix things up since what I've started from seeds are common red varieties: Romas and Italian Heirlooms. This will add color to my salsa this summer! I also purchased (slightly overpriced, I think) rhubarb and a delicious sourdough roll from Berkshire Mountain Bakery. So good. Felt good to be supporting local. YAY!

to market, to market

The Farmers Markets have returned and I couldn't be happier. This is such a helpful resource; going to sit down with this over coffee in the (later) morning and plan out my route. Happy hunting fellow market hounds.

nostalgic

My friend Mike shared this with me. Reading it made me nostalgic for the Michigan of my childhood.

"Time and Place," Tina Warren, The Sunday Times. Full article can be found here.

"It was the late 1970s and I was seven years old when my parents decided to move from Scotland to live in America for a few years. My father is American and wanted to return to his roots, so my mother offered to give it a try. My twin sister Madeline and I were whisked off on this great adventure. First, however, we had to negotiate the worst plane journey I’ve ever experienced. We were sick so often on the flight from London to Michigan, the captain came back to see us to make sure we were okay.


When we arrived, we were greeted by our uncle with a big smile and an Arnie’s salt-beef sandwich. I’ll never forget that sandwich. It has to be one of the most delicious things I’ve ever tasted. It was our introduction to American life.


We lived with my grandmother in a suburb of Michigan called Clark…

a cautionary tale

A list we all came up with things we'd advise/warn others to be aware of before going on a cruise:
The adults only pool and whirlpools tended to be a lot less crowded. Seemed like even the younger, childless drunkos preferred the main deck pool with the two bars nearby. (Maybe the fact that the adults only pool only had one bar near it, not two, was the major clincher?) A couple people tried to bring kids into both the adults only hot tub and pool,  but they were quickly told off by those enjoying the sans children atmosphere.The sit down dinner with the assigned table, etc. was AMAZING! Not only did it take us away from the busy buffet, but our waiters were great—we always had the same two guys; both memorized our names and were so gracious in their service to us—and the food was so good! You can also order as much as you want. The presentation of these meals was lovely too!
The sit down dinner insured you always had your reservation at a spec. time. On our ship it was either 6pm…

Day 5: Nassau, Bahamas

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Nassau is one of those off the hook experiences. I wasn't really sure what to expect, but what greeted us was a deluge of Bahamians who wanted our money; wanted us to go for a horse drawn carriage ride; a snorkeling excurion; a scooter ride around the island; wanted us to shop in their stores; eat at the restaurants; stop in for a beer. It was overwhelming. But, I can't blame them. Tourism is their #1 bread winner, so it only makes sense that they really fight for the tourists and really push their wares.
S and I headed off the ship early in the morning to explore Nassau; spending our first hour wandering around, away from the pier, through the shopping district in search of postcards. Making our way back onto the ship to drop off our bags, we ran into TSO who agreed to come with us and go on a two and a half hour guided driving tour of the island and also Paradise Island, where the famously, fabulously expensive Atlantis hotel is located.
Our driver didn’t really tell us much…

Day 4: Half Moon Cay, Bahamas

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Half Moon Cay was gorgeous, but it also made me more than a little sad to hear that Carnival shares ownership of the island with another travel company.

All 6 of us met up at 9:30am (different than the day before were we split up more), so we could all catch the boat over to the island together. Unlike our stop in Grand Turk, our ship couldn’t dock on Half Moon Cay, so we had to stay anchored out from the island and take boats (holding about 250 people) over to the island.

Our time on the island today was what I had in mind for this vacation: we all went for a hike together, following the signs for a nature hike, then veering off into the woods, following whatever paths we crossed. A follow the leader sort of walk, which allowed us to see island birds and lots of lizards, the biggest one maybe a foot long.

We found a beautiful, quieter spot a ways down the beach from the majority of the crowds and plopped down our stuff. We all stripped down to bathing suits and got into the cool wa…

Day 3 Grand Turks and Caicos

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"The Turks and Caicos includes 45 islands and cays. It's believed that Columbus' first landfall in the New World was on Grand Turk island. These islands, once annexed by both the Bahamas and Jamaica, have long been associated with the UK, and today are still a British overseas territory." ~ Info from World Atlas
Oh my sweet Jesus! Our few hours in Grand Turk were amazing! After going down to the first deck and going through the security point to get onto the pier, B1 & B2 and I headed over to meet our Snorkel/Hiking excursion group. Once the 28 of us and 2 crew: Adrian (from Jamaica) and Michael (from the Dominican Republic) had us all loaded onto our boat, we were roaring off, heading away from Grand Turk towards some of the smaller Cays (Cay is actually pronounced "key"). I can't remember which one now, but it was a TINY little island, made up of limestone (like most of the Cays,) and covered with shrubs and growth that can sustain itself on mostly…

Day 1 and 2: fun days at sea

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Getting onto the ship was something that I never thought I'd do. Airplane, waiting for a shuttle to the ship, going through the ship check in (getting our keys, filling out H1N1 forms), until finally we were going across a zig zag walkway onto the 3rd Deck of the Carnival Destiny. After finding food we walked through each deck starting with the top and working our way down, covering what we thought was everything--boy, were we wrong (many floors, as we later discovered, had things that were only accessible from one end of the ship).

Going to the Lido Deck (where the 3 pools and the majority of the restaurants are) provided us with a lovely view of Miami: a little harbor with sail boats; the skyline of Miami skyscrapers, juxtaposing working life with the view of our ship: deck chairs lined up making a wave of silver; other cruise ships. It was here that S, TSO, RugbyGirl and I ran into B1 & B2, who'd had separate travel plans. We watched as we sailed away from Miami for ope…

back from vacation, feeling demotivated

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Will be posting vacation pics, etc. tomorrow. Until then, this made me laugh outloud--hard.


Can be found here.

natural alarm clocks start the day

I woke this morning to the sounds of my neignbors yelling. But, wait dear readers, no harsh words or insults (or chairs) were being thrown around; rather it was the sound of our truly noisy neighbors in nature. Making their morning sounds, like vain singers in a chorus trying to sing louder than one another; such an amazing waking sound: warbling, screeching, cheeping, calling, tapping; bluejays, robins, thrush, mourning doves, orioles, woodpeckers and more birds than I know names for.

Today was our last perfect (and perfectly hot!) day before our cruise to sandy beaches and ocean views; one of those amazing (and tiring) days. It began with my waking to the wonderful natural alarm clocks outside my windows around 6:30 a.m. After coaxing myself out of bed, I walked down to visit the bees and ran into our neighbor, Gardener R, who was planting red onions--methodically and perfectly, like creating art. Breakfast in our sunny kitchen, admiring my own seedlings sprouting, made way to a day…

a consummate ass

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Illustration from first edition of  Following the EquatorColor tinted by Kent Rasmussen © 2004
Mark Twain's stories and memoirs communicated the world which he saw with his own eyes; opportunities for travel which weren't available for the masses at the time. In his lifetime Twain traveled across the U.S.--from Missouri, where he was born--from New York to California, even visiting Hawaii (then called the Sandwich Islands); he made tours of Europe, the Middle East and Mediterranean. And these travels were communicated into The Adventures of Tom Sawyer; The Adventures of Huck Finn; Roughing It; The Innocents Abroad.

It was while I was reading about travel today, that I thought of Twain and wanted to share some of his quotes on the subject:

"The gentle reader will never, never know what a consummate ass he can become until he goes abroad."
~ Innocents Abroad

"There is no unhappiness like the misery of sighting land (and work) again after a cheerful, careless voyag…

choices, choices

When most people are planning all the things necessary for their vacation to go off without a hitch, I am thinking of which books will be exactly what I want to be reading on this very trip. A poorly chosen book read on a vacation, for me, can jade part of the experience in quite the same way that a sommelier's meal might be tainted by a poorly chosen wine. Yes, I am that picky. So, as RugbyGirl and S have been shopping for the perfect bathingsuits and sun dresses, I have been trying to think of which books on my list might be just right for me on this trip. I have narrowed it down to:

Desert Solataire, Edward Abbey
Northanger Abbey, Jane Austen
Death comes for the Archbishop, Willa Cather
The Lacuna, Barabara Kingsolver
Prodigal Summer, Barbara Kingsolver
A tree grows in Brooklyn, Betty Smith

Oh, hell, I'm probably just going to take them all. I am still that 8 year old, tucked in the crook of a tree, on a hot, sunny day.