Sunday, July 26, 2015

out and back

So behind that I don't know how I will catch up with all the happenings around here, but let's see if I can do it in five minutes or less...

Secondo and Terzo went to camp and had a great week, except Terzo being very, very blue about the fact that it was Secondo's last year. HIS LAST YEAR. I am blue, too.

After picking them up, we headed north for vacation, but since we had a little time to kill, stopped at a few colleges to give Secondo a few ideas. Middlebury was our favorite; too bad it doesn't have his major. But I plan to apply there.

Then onto points north and Montreal. Lots of architecture and art and churches and history.

Even a jaunt up to Quebec.

Our favorite day was the day we rented bikes and toured all over Montreal, across the St. Lawrence River to the Parc Jean Drapeau Island, down to the St. Lawrence rapids and up the Lachine Canal.

We have just about recovered and now it's time to turn ourselves around and head back out for fair this weekend. Better stock up on sleep now.

Friday, July 17, 2015

july greening

All the rain we have been getting lately has meant a lot of greening up. April colors were more like August's parched brown, but July is looking positively May in tone.

The corn just down the road, shown here as dusk was falling, is taking full advantage. Not quite as high as an elephant's eye, but getting there.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

cleaning sheep houses

Big projects last weekend, with big boy toys—a Kubota backhoe from Home Depot. That sucker was put to work, sun-up to sun-down, so much that the rental guy couldn't believe the hours that were put on it during a single day.

Big surprise, the two boys leaning on their shovels (or in this case, pitchforks) again. Though for the majority of the time they were super helpful,especially given the smelliness of the situation

Shed all cleaned out and freshly strawed, though the line at the back shows how overdue we were. Now it is even more obvious how much it needs a fresh coat of paint.

Despite all our hard work, the grass is fresh and deep and green away from the shed, and never mind the rain. They'll stay right out here, thankyouverymuch.

Friday, July 10, 2015

blueberry cat

The blueberries are all cleaned and tucked safely away in the freezer.

The cat was a tremendous help.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

a magic carpet

So so busy at the moment, with perhaps really big things afoot that I must keep close to the vest for the moment, but nevertheless, positive thoughts to The Powers That Be would be much appreciated.

In the meantime, don't miss this wonderful blog post by my mother about how she got started in the fiber arts, about her own magic carpet.

I have been steeped in it my whole life, and as with many things, which I appreciated and participated more when I was younger! Now you know where my passion comes from. That rug has been hanging in my parents' house for as long as I can remember. The spirit took a while, but finally moved in me.

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.