Thursday, July 20, 2017

wet and wetter

The first round moved out just after dinner.
The first of several more arrived just after lights out.

Many of our neighbors and surrounding towns are suffering so. Please think good thoughts that tomorrow's forecast does not come to be.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

half past july

Don't know about you, but I've had very few lazy days of summer. I feel quite like a little kid on a tricycle, peddling as fast as she can, and the world just spinning a bit faster so there's little forward motion for the effort. But what a ride!
Since my last post there's been three rounds of houseguests, long discussions with waterproofing companies each telling us how they'll put an end to our wet basement (and have confirmed for us that from late summer 2016 to the present has been the wettest period on record), nightly raids by deer who are getting bolder, and recently a localized hail storm that has shredded our gardens.
I've finished the two baby quilts that will be heading to Africa in September. I began them at quilt retreat in June.

Jerome and I shared the morning shift of watering and feeding Sadie and Willow just up the road.

We witnessed a play house raising after which several families of neighbors shared a celebratory brunch. The silo this adorable play house now rests upon has the most beautifully built wooden spiral staircase leading up to the house. This family moved into an old and needy property about a quarter mile east of us and in three years have transformed it.

Later that same day Jerome and I attended some of our town's annual music festival. The opening act this year was a string quartet from Minnesota which we totally enjoyed. The weather was absolutely perfect as you can see by the blues skies in the photo above.

Yesterday was the blood drive I'm committed to 3 times a year. The Red Cross worker who drew my blood looked to be about 20 years old but I found out she was the mother of eight children, aged 13-1. And though she has worked for the Red Cross for years, she only recently was able to give herself, having always been too light weight to qualify. I am happy to say my iron levels are good and my blood pressure is still wonderful.
Our son arrives tomorrow for pre-fishing before his tournament on Saturday. The weather forecast is for nothing but rain from later today through the weekend. He hasn't had a dry tournament day all season. Though it's been wet here, it's nothing compared to the recent flooding back in our old neighborhoods in Illinois. Yesterday we were sent a photo of our favorite hot dog spot very near the DesPlaines river.

When I feel sorry for myself because of last week's hail damage, I think of this single example that  thousands of people are coping with so much worse. And the opposite of too much rain, too little. Wildfires, I can't even imagine the horror.
And so I breathe and breathe again and gather around me the beauty of gifts that strengthen the spirit.

I put them in places where I'm sure to notice them, like this little bouquet on my bathroom mirror. And I look to your blogs for the beauty of your lives and words you share that fill me with hope.
Thank you.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

happy birthday america

celebrating being together, summer, and our many blessings...
steaks cooked to perfection (thanks, Phil) over our first campfire of the season,

 the moon and jupiter silently giving witness to our pre-4th merriment,

Jerome and I, Phil, Mallory, and this most lovable little lady, Layla

Wishing each of you moments of sure and certain grace on this our nation's birthday.

Friday, June 30, 2017

reflections on my June

The gardens top the list. Weather... mostly wet, mostly moderate temperatures. Conditions favoring weeds and grasses. Mowing, weeding, mulching. Mother Nature moves us along at her pace.
There are surprises daily. . . not all good.
It's been a tough year for our chickens. When putting them to bed last evening there was one missing from the count. I found her lying stiff and cold just beneath the hen house. We buried her in the deepening twilight. She was the third we lost this year. Until 2017 we had only lost two hens in 5 years time. Have I been too confident, too comfortable? Dare I say cocky? Recently our good neighbors lost all of their chickens over two nights. They suspect coons. We can only identify the cause of one of our losses, which makes the losses so much harder to understand and prevent.
And gardening, it is never a sure thing. Some of what we tend is doing spectacularly. But there are losses there, too, other things are struggling. I have no explanations for healthy, growing plants to suddenly take a down turn. Is it the excessive rainfall this year? The negative impact of an overpopulation of moles? Years of stress I hadn't observed and intervened in time?
Walking the meadow the other evening we noticed the pines on our western border were in a strangle hold of grapevine, virginia creeper, nightshade. Since then, together, Jerome and I have rescued them and carted away 5 trailers of cuttings to the burn pile. Walking the meadow path last evening I felt so smug about how well we had done, not knowing that a short while later I would discover my dead hen. I'm not such a fool as to think I could have the upper hand here. But...

There has been much to savor in June.
We put down a truckload of mulch on our rose/peony bed, under the grapevines, on the blueberry bed.
We helped our next door neighbors, who have been here part time since we arrived, to move into their new house permanently. A recent storm added its benediction to their arrival.

Bounty aplenty, despite my gloomy opening to this posting...

a quilt retreat held here

where I worked on two quilts to be sent to Africa via Nancy Zeiman at Quilt Expo this September.

Here is a preview of one of the pieced tops. My goal, to use only fabrics from my stash, or as I've been coached to say, inventory.
Successfully visiting all nine quilt shops in my section of Wisconsin statewide shop hop, including this one which is the farthest from home...

It's located in Darlington, Wisconsin. We stopped in on our wedding anniversary getaway, also taking in Mineral Point, New Glaris, and Spring Green. It was our 45th by the way.
Celebrating with Anne and Matthias their 16th, and the first anniversary of Matthias' surgery at Mayo. One of the biggest causes for celebration, his radiant good health and their brilliant happiness.
This week I spent a day with a good friend Elin who has 16 sheep, spins and weaves her own hand dyed wool and who invited me to come and meet a woman, who like my friend and I, will be relocating to Viroqua, looking forward to meeting like minded women where she hopes to spend the remainder of her life. And like my friend and I, is here without her husband in the early stages of her journey. Joan, my new acquaintance, is learning eco-dyeing from Elin, to produce her own colored fabrics for art quilts. The day flew past as we discovered so many commonalities and shared passions.
On the final day of June, I've stepped back and recognized the blessings abundant in life here on our ridge top meadow.
Hope you are able to look back at your June and say the same.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

restless spring

What a difference a month makes in the landscape here in the driftless region. It's time to add a second walk about to my daily routine, as so much changes in the gardens from morning to evening.
Last weekend the weather was perfection and Jerome and I spent every moment we could outside. Since then we've had turbulent weather, lots of rain, heavy winds, but looking at the landscape one is overwhelmed by green!
They say timing is everything, and it's certainly true in what happened Monday night. There was a slight break in the clouds in time for the top curve of the sun to shine just as she was dropping down the horizon. With rain pouring down over the farmhouse and brilliant light moving through it from the sunset, a complete rainbow with a faint repeated arc formed southeast of the farm. The colors took our breath away.

I opened the upstairs sliders to take this photo...note the raindrop on the camera lens.

And took this photo of the setting sun through the window beside my computer desk.
The lightning from this storm struck the home of one of Jerome's antique tractor club buddies in a town north of us. Some of the thunder from that storm sent Dovey diving for cover.
Last night's winds sent two of my solar powered lanterns flying across the back yard but fortunately I was able to retrieve them. Lights flickered but power did stay on.
I'd been pretty smug about getting such a jump on the garden work, spending time every day on the tasks at hand, but now that it's warmer and Mother Nature has been watering everything so diligently, I realize she's had the upper hand all along. Oh well, there are still two weeks left in May and all of the summer ahead.
You've got to love this time of year. Such potential. Such evidence of life's ability for regeneration. So many reasons for hope.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

is any other month quite as delicious as May?

Slow down, May.
So much to savor.
Days that allow going back out to the garden after dinner.
Sun setting after 8pm resulting in a few of the chickens lingering in their yard until nearly 8:30. (Remember  December when they're all tucked in just past 4?)

Took a 2 day bus quilt shop hop last Friday and Saturday. I haven't laughed so much in months. 16 women, 7 shops, 3 states. Total in $$ for all of us over 2 days nearly $7,000. I did not match the average spent, but did bring back many treasures that I'm certain will bring hours and hours of delightful projects which I promise to share.

Took a day out with Anne at the Amish greenhouses yesterday and between us we packed my car.

Will head out again on Thursday when my sister Terri is here. There will be less room in the car with 3 of us, but we'll just drive home, unpack, and head out again if need be. We've done that before...

The forecast shows no nights below 40 in the days ahead so the tomatoes have gone out onto the back deck into the mini greenhouse to begin hardening off. We've been cleaning beds, fertilizing, weeding, and mulching. We've begun eating from the garden.
In May everything seems possible. It's all good.

Rain and chilly today and tomorrow. Grocery shopping and getting the house ready for Terri's arrival.  No time for playing with my new fabrics just yet. Doesn't stop me from going into the sewing room and stroking them, though.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

life is struggle

Changeable April.

One week ago:  incessant rain

3 days ago:  high winds

This morning: good grief!

Our chickens were NOT happy with what greeted them as their door was opened this morning. Little Punkin, our tiniest hen, always pushing to be the first out the door, stopped inches from the opening but had the momentum of all her flock pushing behind.

Tuesday's dinner included our first spears of the season. Are the few brave shoots that were just piercing the soil yesterday lost this morning in the cold?
As I finish my morning coffee and put this post out into the stratosphere, I'm thinking that later this morning I'll do my daily walk about and get the garden blankets ready to be set out against tonight's predicted hard frost. But though I may have thoughts of woman against nature, I realize it's never really up to me. I can help, interfere, foolishly ignore, but I cannot control. As I age I'm realizing more every day that sense of relief knowing I don't have the responsibility of being in charge. I can "mother" my gardens but they are, as they've always been, in God's capable hands.
And rightly so.