Thursday, July 2, 2015

blueberry run gastronomy

Our annual run down to deepest South Jersey for our beloved blueberries. I write this post annually so I have a place to note how many flats I buy.


Last year, it was 9.5 and we barely made it to the beginning of May with our frozen berry supply.


So this year, I upped it to 12 flats. (Those aren't all our flats. I am a blueberry mule; the wagon held a total of 31 flats for 11 families, including ours.)


I am already worried that it won't be enough.


Despite snarfing down a pint of blueberries each before we went five miles, they still insisted that we stop at a BBQ place that we have passed every year, but has never been open.


We found out that we have to go on a Thursday, Friday or Saturday to hit this one. (On Route 206 in Shamong, if you want to go.) We tried the ribs and pulled chicken and then brought home pulled pork for dinner. We highly recommend them all. 


But that wasn't enough. 


Tradition demanded a stop at the White Dotte less than a half hour later for root beer floats.


We rolled home, unloaded berries and have been entertaining a steady stream of customers for pick up ever since.


Guess what I'll be doing on my holiday? Luckily, freezing berries is so easy! No need to flash freeze. Just wash and lay out to dry (I run a fan to help this step along) then bag and freeze. Enjoy all summer, fall, winter, and hopefully spring, long!

Monday, June 29, 2015

a knitter's prayer

Our church had the most talented seamstress as a parishioner. She was the Altar Guild's frequent savior, resuscitating frayed linens with her perfect tiny stitches. Sewing wasn't her only talent. She was also a dedicated cross-stitcher, continuing when that craft has fallen by the wayside in popularity. Both my husband and Primo were beneficiaries of her gifts.

She passed away a month ago today, sadly. Despite her many, many talents, she was not always an easy person to get along with, and she has continued her life habits in death. Her friend and I have been working to get her body released by the hospital so it can be properly interred, because she didn't leave a valid will and it has caused no end of knots trying to get her tiny estate ironed out. Here is my legal Public Service Announcement, on behalf of your loved ones left behind:
  1. Make a will that is valid under the laws of the state in which you live.
  2. Make sure your executor knows where the original is.

Given the need to honor her in a timely manner, because we have no idea when this issue is going to be settled, our church held her memorial service in the interim. She truly had no family—born to an unwed mother in the 1930s, she was given to a kindly older woman to raise, who died while Carol was still in her teens. She never married, and she had no children. But she had a church family, and they did her memory proud, showing up in droves for the service and putting on a lovely potluck lunch.

Her executor brought Carol's framed embroidery and cross-stitching pieces to the service, inviting anyone who wanted a momento of Carol to take what they liked. I had my eye on one piece in particular, but held back, waiting to make sure that no one else wanted it. After the crowd cleared out, I was able to claim it, guilt-free and thrilled to have it, because it spoke directly to me:



I have never seen this poem before. Unfortunately Carol did not date it. My best guess is that she worked it in the 1960s or before, because based on other pieces there, she started signing and dating pieces on the work in the early 1970s. It is an unusual combination of embroidery and cross-stitch, which along with the style of the design, leads me to believe that it is on the older side.




The framing job needs to be redone, and the piece itself, which has a stain on it in the right-hand border, could use a little TLC. But I am happy to have such a personal remembrance of Carol, who used to ask me for help interpreting knitting patterns. It was the one needle art that I knew better than she did, so this piece is a particularly fitting reminder of her.

What a perfect way for a crafter to be honored and remembered! I can't think of a nicer memorial to a life's handiwork than to have it displayed at your funeral, for loved ones to choose a piece to remember you by.

Someone, write this down: this is exactly what I want at my funeral, hats and scarves and sweaters spread out for others to take my love and care away with them, to remember me every time they put on gloves or wrap themselves in a shawl to keep warm.  Though the hands may have been stilled, the stitches would live on in love, the perfect way to honor the memory of a crafter. 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

storm miss

Judging from my facebook feed, I wasn't the only one taking pictures of the magnificent colors in the clouds after the storm rolled through.





We didn't get much of the storm, just a little bit of rain.


The sheep, who are currently mowing in the front with the willow for shelter, were very glad for the miss.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

garden guilt

If you are a long-time reader of this blog, or you know me IRL, then you know that a garden is a key part of our summer existence.

Except this year.

The blog is just the latest in a long line of neglect. The garden was one of the first, compounded by the fact that the raised beds were left empty by the last two winters. If it hadn't been for Secondo's insistence on ordering seeds, getting them started under lights by himself, etc., etc., then I certainly would have thrown in the towel on this one and been content to buy from local farmers.

But he didn't give up. He kept plugging along, and people kept giving him plants, and it turned into a garden in tiny pots out on the deck. A few weeks ago, Primo asked me if Secondo had talked to me about replacing the topsoil. He must have heard a note of desperation in my voice when I admitted that I had no idea how I was going to find the time to deal with that.




I came home from work the next night to find Primo shoveling topsoil into the beds, after a hard day's work himself for a local landscaper, while the other two... Well, you can see for yourself. They are going a great job holding up those rakes.

Yet more guilt. I tried to beat it back by reasoning with myself that I don't have time any more because I am working to pay his college tuition bill. Plus he is eating us out of house and home, so it's only right that he is contributing to food production around here.

I still felt guilty, compounded by the fact that the tiny pots remained on the back deck.

Secondo's sophomore year of high school ended yesterday. Today, he and his father and I finally got the garden planted.




It is late, it may even be too late, but at least it's in. It's one less thing to feel guilty about.

Friday, June 12, 2015

CO watch cap

The event I have been waiting on for almost a year...

Season Three of Orange is the New Black was released on Netflix today. I can finally found out what happened to Rosa, Vee, Nikki, Tastee, Alex, Red, Poussey... the list goes on and on.



To celebrate, because I am nothing if not the ultimate fangirl, a new pattern.





The CO Watch Cap is a reversible cap in two colors—the rib matches on both sides, with a double layer over the ears.

If you aren't into prison dramedy, it would make a great school colors hat.

If you are into prison dramedy, I know where you'll be all weekend.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

unfurled cat

Valentine says...


"No room for anyone else on this chair."

Thursday, June 4, 2015

no agenda

Legal work is like kudzu in more ways than one. It goes mile a minute, it grows when you aren't looking, and before you know it, you are completely enmeshed. I tried working part-time in the past and so I am well aware of the constant battle to contain the creeping crud. These days, as the state of this blog may have indicated, I am up to a solid four days a week; I started at a firm "no more than two days" in September. I was relieved today to find out that a knitting class, scheduled for Saturday, has to be postponed. That's fine, at the moment. So is the steady legal work, because that college tuition bill will be due in two months and counting.

But the result is very little time for anything that doesn't involve the family's immediate survival.

I had a church meeting to attend this past weekend, and I was fretting about the added time commitment. "What's the problem?" my husband said. "Just take along some knitting and you'll be fine."

Except that I had no knitting to take. He was aghast, and somewhat concerned that I might be slightly depressed. I am not, I am just chronically short of time, but I appreciated the concern.

So I cast on for a "no agenda" project that morning, before the meeting. I am not designing anything, though I should be. I am not making it for someone else, though I should be.

I am just knitting.



I queued this pattern on Ravelry on March 3, 2010. (God bless Ravelry for its amazing recordkeeping capacity.) I purchased the yarn at Garden State Sheep Breeders Festival in 2011. I paired the two in my sock project grab bag in 2012.

I finally cast on this past Saturday, and I am almost down to the heel on the first sock.

It may not be the best fit for my leg. It may not be the best pairing between pattern and yarn. Quite honestly, I do not care. It is lovely, almost mindless, deeply satisfying knitting, and I am enjoying the heck out of the pastime.