Saturday, October 31, 2015

Dancing in the Cemetary

Taken at a famous Richmond, Virginia cemetery.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Night Rambling-Rumbling

Fighting insomnia always seems to be my battle during a full moon.  Perhaps I am a witch?  Is this my season to be out and about with black magic?  In these dark early mornings with only moonshine (the kind that splashes on the patio, not the kind that spills from a glass),  I feel like my brain is a room with ping-pong balls going off in all directions.  The balls are clean and shiny with lots of ping, at least.  They ricochet with endless energy before that first cup of coffee even gets made.  But I must contain them, as hubby is still sleeping and I try to be quiet.

I received a coupon for a digital course on meditation and I have been thinking of taking it, like a vitamin.  It is hard for me to find a quiet place to study something like this as I am never sure when hubby will be off on a project of his own.  And I need to concentrate as I have tried (superficially) and failed (completely) in doing this before.  Hubby has gotten more and more restless, like a dog chasing his tail,  as the weather gets cold and rainy and he finds he cannot fish or garden or just take off to visit some neighbor's project.  Winter has been his challenge in that he has no indoor hobbies, unlike I, who has photography, writing, cooking, reading, watching Netflix, doing bits and pieces of interior decorating....etc.  He spends time making plans to visit old stomping grounds, Florida. 

Mage gave me a tiny critique on my poem on my other blog and I realized it is time for me to grow up and stop creating poetry diarrhea.   I need to hone and pause and edit and write again.  Maybe I need a course on writing poetry?  That sounds so comfy warm for winter afternoons, really.  Yes, I see that face some of you are each his own.

This will be the first Halloween we do not drive up to visit the kids.  Many reasons.  I thought they still had the company in their house (long story about company living there during a month-long house remodel).  Then they said they were going to a Halloween party and wanted to know if we could babysit childsit.  And for some immature reason I just felt a little used.  Sugar-infused childsitting was not exactly the family get-together I had in mind.  Thus, I made other plans, but those fell through, so now Halloween will be a non-event at my house as I live at the end of a dark and long road.  I long ago gave up decorating the house.  I envy those cute grannies that have little decorations in every corner...until the event is over and everything has to be rounded up and wrapped back in the storage boxes.  Also, no one really sees these decorations except hubby and I.

As a reward for reading my spew above, how about some of my last rose photos taken a few days ago before the rain ripped the petals to shreds to wrap up this disjointed barrage of thoughts?   These are the true colors, no photo-shopping.  I get such lovely colors when the nights are in the 40's and 50's and the days in the high 60's.  It is almost English garden weather, meditate on that!

Friday, October 23, 2015

Boxing Day?

I received an opportunity to spend the day canoeing a river that flows through a local land trust.  This part of the woods is not accessible unless you are invited or part of a canoe or hiking tour.  In this instance "we" had a job to do. 

We had our boxes, hardware, and axe and heavy mallet. 

We had one young person who spent most of her time waiting for us old folks to catch up.

We had to pull the canoes down the bay side of the land trust.  A large sand dune had been thrown up with the last storm and our river was now a temporary lake and we had to carry all the equipment and canoes over the dune.  From a distance we looked like satellite dish repair people or perhaps a unique Cajun band?  I wonder what the gas facility offshore thought.

The river itself had flooded to the edges of the woods and over!  We were able to paddle into places that were usually inaccessible by canoe or by walking.

Hard to believe there was at least 2.5 feet of water for the canoes into the grasslands.  The "cross" you see in the photo below is actually a trail marker when the land is dry.

And then, finally,  we got Wood Duck nesting box number one installed.  No one cut their finger or had the baffle fall on them!  We did not lose any nuts, bolts or screws in the water.  Final step was to add the wood chips shown in photo below.  (Yes, the "1" is backwards as the stencil flipped in the wind when it was being painted.  Children from one of the local schools also added their art.)

It was an adventure and I was glad I was along as photographer and did not own any waders.  You would not believe the number of spiders that attached to those waders when they hit the water.  Every little bug had been flooded out of his/her home.

We got four boxes installed and had to wait on the fifth due to high water.  The paddle home was stupendous.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Growing Pains

I live in a very rural area.  So rural that our County Councilmen have trouble reading tributes, perhaps written by others, at meetings honoring their citizens.  These Councilmen are educated, they just cannot read out loud...that includes at least three of the five officials.  Two of our Councilmen own liquor stores.  This is the path to political leadership in this county.   A few retired professionals from a more intellectual arena ran for office, but the big words they used frightened the voters, I guess.  This good-old boy majority leadership selection means our county struggles.

As I mentioned in a prior post, I lost my current doctor because she found working in this county too difficult.  They did not support medical service development and she had to send her patients out of county for specialized treatment.  She said five other doctors are thinking of following her.  We are limited in our selection already!

A recent meeting of various groups on "smart growth" for my state resulted in this news report:

"In the spring of 2006, a self-proclaimed “unholy alliance” of developers, environmentalists, civic and academic leaders staged a series of reality checks around the state during conferences designed to stare future growth in the face.  The leaders gave each table of eight to 10 participants piles of colored Legos representing their likely share of the 1.5 million new residents projected to swell the state’s population from 5.5 million to 7 million by 2030. It would mean adding more than half a million new homes.  On a map of their region, each table had to place all of that new growth...
The idea was not to discourage growth. This state, like most states, avidly courts economic expansion, more jobs, more people. The Reality Check conference organizers hoped to promote “smart growth,” or to place as many Legos as possible around places where growth was planned and roads and sewers already existed, thus protecting farms, forests and undeveloped Bay shorelines.
It was nonetheless a sobering exercise as Legos piled higher and existing towns began looking like little Manhattans. You could hear sighs and mutterings: “The traffic’s already hell there” or “my pile fell over…there goes the countryside.”  An Eastern Shore contingent built a paper boat and set their Legos sailing toward a coastal city, which has been losing population since the 1950s.  It was a good laugh — maybe a good idea — but the directive was firm: Growth is coming your way and you must accommodate it."

But at my County's table, a County commissioner, Ms. C, chose to differ. She swept a bunch of Legos off the map and into her purse. And it was not an exercise like barging people across the Bay to a coastal city.

This is what our County leaders do.  Respond with unrealistic solutions or ignore growth issues it seems.  Our County is long and thin and no more than 4 miles from tidewater in most directions.  Therefore our growth impacts the rivers and oceans.  Yet, if we have no growth, it means our county dies---well, goes into a coma.  And to give the good-old-boys their due, I realize what a difficult problem they have.

This week I was talking to my neighbor as we planned a dinner out with them before they leave for Florida for the winter.  We have lots of fried seafood places down here, but in the last few years several new and more delicious venues have emerged.   This County's population has double the median household income of the U.S. and one could hope that would support this growth.

The conversation went like this:

"How about The Basil Basket?"
"Nope, closing next week due to owners divorcing."
"OK....Lets go to the Lime Pie Tree."
"That place has had to close due to the foundation crumbling on the water side.  Don't know if it is a permanent close or not."
"Gee.  That leaves the Brasserie."
"Well, we better get in next week, because they are also closing for good very soon."
"Oh dear.  I heard yesterday that the Chinese restaurant is also closing."

I am well aware that the restaurant business is very difficult and most restaurants close within a few years...but all of our new ones are closing! 

And then, last month as we drove by the rock quarry on the other side of the river and just across the county line we saw this:

Some people say this other county is growing too fast and others wish our county was as progressive.  We got curious and drove down off the main road to see if we could find out what was going on with this new development:

Much closer and nicer than the old movie place we go to.  This even has reclining wide seats...I wonder if it will succeed?  I did notice that their ticket kiosks did not have the technology for chip cards, so someone wasn't paying attention.  I also noticed the impermeable surface of the largest parking lot I have seen in a while!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Thursday Thirteen in October Contrasts

  1. Tabor debates at this time of year whether this week is THE week to pull down the winter quilt for the bed.
  2. Tara debates this time of year whether the UNHCR tent will be warm enough in the coming months.
  3. Tabor is thankful she has heated tiled floors in her bathroom so she is not shocked by cold tiles in the morning.
  4. Tara is thankful they built the concrete bathrooms near the fence and she no longer has to use a bucket.
  5. Tabor is beginning to stock up on frozen garlic, jams, and baked goods for the holidays.
  6. Tara is tucking away the box of rice and spices from UNHCR under the bed to save for the winter.
  7. Tabor called the garden company to blow out her garden soaker hoses today well ahead of a freeze.
  8. Tara has walked several miles to the farmer's greenhouse to help with planting seeds, hoping there will be greens this winter to share.
  9. Tabor loves the autumn light because it makes for good photography.
  10. Tara sees her daughter playing in the sand in the autumn light and knows this picture will remain in her mind forever.
  11. Tabor has gone through her closet and removed summer clothing she no longer wears to donate to the ecumenical Christian store. 
  12. Tara has gone through the plastic bags of donated clothing and is relieved she found something she could wear.
  13. Tabor and Tara watch the setting sun at the end of the day on the distant horizon and both hope and pray for peace.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Food, Glorious Food

Fall is the time when food is abundant, when you know that the freshness of some foods will be waning and when you justify eating more to pack on the pounds to stay warmer through the colder months. One's appetite is sharper as well, it seems.

We brought up what will probably be the last of the crabs as the nights are getting much cooler.  Their shells are harder to crack as the molting season has long passed.  I picked a batch of the basil that has gone to seed to add to the lemon/butter sauce for the crab.

We also steamed some of the Swiss chard which will continue to provide us greens up until frost in a few weeks.  I drizzle a little bacon fat over the top and then salt and pepper.  It is also good with just a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.  The plants are huge this time of year and since the weather is cool they are so tender, even the stems!  The rest of the meal was leftover potatoes gratin.  Potatoes from a distant farmer.

For dessert I made a peach pie with some puff pastry on top.  The peaches were a bit of a disappointment as the farmer had placed them in coolers since they had been picked earlier.  I was pushing the season, I guess.

The night before we had breaded/fried eggplant.  We have fixed it a dozen ways this late summer and early fall and this was the last way.  Freshly picked eggplant is so much richer in that subtle flavor than anything I have purchased at the store.

There are still too many tomatoes and we have been too busy to process although hubby has been busy drying the hot peppers to warm our tummy in soups and sauces throughout the winter.  The rainy weather had done a number on our tomatoes, but they seem to bounce back at last.

I did make time to make carrot cake as we had lots of carrots.  They are a little tough in our garden, but when you take a food blender to them and put them in their place, they make delicious cake!  And making this cake makes a delicious mess!

Now that I am well-fed,  I am off to staff a garden booth at one of the events at the museum for the afternoon and see if I can shed all these pounds I have added.  It will be cooler than I had hoped, so need to get out that old turtleneck and take a nice freshly picked apple with me for lunch and answer questions such as "Why can't I get my spinach to grow?"

Thursday, October 08, 2015

I May Never Grow Up

I met a young man years ago through my Son-in-law.  He is a handsome New Jersey Italian, friendly, nice, from a deeply Catholic family and was at a cross roads in his life.  My SIL and others felt he might be gay as he was very good looking and never dating anyone.  He was a twin and his brother had long since married and started a family. We years later heard he was dating a playboy model.  I had (be)friended him on FB and he never revealed any beautiful women with selfies or that part of his life.  This young man had worked for a high end consulting company, lived at home and saved his high salary while he was looking for a passion and then in recent years has morphed into a foodie.  I followed him on FB and watched as he evolved into finding himself and worked with various chefs in the city where he lived.  He slowly became involved in promoting interesting foods and farm to table type events.

I cannot remember how it came about years ago, but he was invited by me down for a weekend and ended up coming with another young newly divorced man who also seemed to be at a cross-roads in his life and who was also part of my SIL's work life.  My SIL seemed a little miffed at our new relationship with "his" friends, but that is another story that I may blog about someday.  We took these young men boating, fed them, they stayed overnight and then they went on their way home.  I did not feel we made a "connection" with either.  They seemed your typical self-involved types who do not realize what happens around them.

I sometimes post a "foodie" photo about what I am cooking...remember the stuffed pepper casserole that ended up on the  floor(?)...the photo above was before it went into the oven, and I write about what we are having for dinner on FB.  I am pretty good at making what I cook sound delicious.  Well my foodie guy is intrigued and now wants to come down for a another visit and maybe side by side cook effort!  I know that many of  my readers would be so ready for this fun team effort with a "young'in."who actually has real connections in the food world.

But I am just a bit terrified as I do not see myself as a great or even good cook!  I see myself as an old lady cook who gets easily distracted and can burn stuff.

It looks like this may happen and I am going to screw my courage to the sticking place if it does and figure it out.  I will let you know.....  Yep, this blogger is an enormous timid mouse type.  If you read my entries you do know this, and I do agree that it is pathetic.

Sunday, October 04, 2015

The Apple of My Eye

Tradition in northern climes this time of year is to harvest and save and savor.  Nothing tastes better than freshly picked apples in the autumn.  There are many varieties in the U.S. although Johnny Appleseed (our folk hero in the planting of apples) probably carried mostly crab apple seeds.  These were perfect for making apple cider and that is what our forefathers drank in abundance because in some areas water was scarce and in other areas it was foul.

Yes, we have whole farms devoted to pick-your-own.  This place has school buses of public school children and vans for home-schooled children that keep them super busy in the fall.  You may notice the orange warning cones in the drive.  They have classes, hay wagon trips out to the field and then lots of fun stuff in the craft shop to also buy and take home.

We purchased some Jona-gold, some Honey-crisp and I think those last red ones were early Fuji.

Some were made into applesauce which is really lovely for breakfast with pancakes.  Because the weather is cooler I like to heat up my applesauce.

I made some tarts with some leftover puff pastry that absolutely HAD to be used, and while it did not have the flakiness that one expects, the tarts were still very good for dessert.

...and of course, several containers of apple pie filling for the freezer.

Yes, we also ate a bunch of them freshly sliced this past week.  So sweet and juicy and not at all like the apples one gets at the grocery store.  (We did not leave any behind on the table...that was an overfull child's apple in the photo below.)  This is a fun kind of business and fills the house with smells of cinnamon and nutmeg and sugar and apples.