Wednesday, March 21, 2012

tapas bloggers style

Tapas: a wide variety of appetizers.
Never had them in the culinary sense but thought my post today might be an opportunity to share tapas in the form of visual snacks.
Just before I left for Illinois, I had an awakening regarding the folded boxes I had helped to create for the herbal classes at YIHS in January. I had already thought to use old calendar pages folded as the box tops. Earlier this month I remembered a few calendars I had put aside years ago: a quilt calendar and a couple years of Literary Calligraphy.

a crazy quilt top and simple black bottom from the old quilt calendar
 a  folded Susan Loy page

Susan's calendars are collections of paintings encircled with calligraphy done in a square format. Absolutely perfect for folding a square box: centered design on the box's top and aligned lettering and floral design on the interiors.

Beauty inside and out.
I had to restrain myself from folding all of them right away. I did send an email to Susan to let her know, but received a disappointing reply: one sentence simply thanking me for my interest in Literary Calligraphy and addressed to dear Sandra. Oh well, I refuse to have my enthusiasm for the discovery be deflated.
Early in March I began to plant seeds for this summer's garden. The first were a set of wave petunia seeds in shades of blues, violets, purples and white. The seeds came 10 per package, thankfully pelleted as petunia seed is tiny indeed.

and now
Since that first flat of seeds I have planted about a dozen others and there are two more flats on the kitchen counter waiting for today's seeds. Each day brings sprouts that thrill and bring hope. If such tiny, fragile life can struggle to fulfill its destiny surely I can persevere. And just for fun I put a new face on each of these old markers.

I left for the city on Sunday the 11th with plans to return to the farm on Friday the 16th. I didn't want to leave the baby seedlings alone too long and the students at the high school where I volunteered in January were putting on an art show Friday night that I wanted to attend. That didn't leave much time to fit in all that I had hoped to do in the city...
Monday my garden buddy Barb and I went to the Chicago flower show at Navy Pier. The theme was Hort Couture, though most of the displays were a stretch to meet the fashion theme. Here is one that directly related.

Two other displays especially caught my interest. For the first time ever there was a chicken coop with live chickens. It was presented by EZ Clean Chicken Coops and part of a larger display demonstrating sustainability. The second was called Aprons: Myth, Memory, Fantasy in the Kitchen. While viewing this particular display Barb and I overheard someone identify a white ruffled apron heavily decorated with colorful embroidery as an Amish apron. Unfortunately her comments were heard by several around her. I do hope they knew better. We visited the vendor area where I bought a small aloe for the farmhouse kitchen and also a variety of seed which Barb called to my attention. It will be my "something new" for this season and is called an asparagus pea. The seed packet stated that it grows a pea vine that produces a pointed vegetable that when picked at one inch long and steamed resembles asparagus in flavor. Anyone familiar with this??
On the way out of the city toward home we stopped at Gethsemane garden center where I succumbed to a new variety of sansevieria. I haven't grown one for a very long time and thought it would be good to have one again.
Tuesday I shopped at a few stores I miss here in Wisconsin and then met my sister Terri. We had lunch, shopped at Pasquesi Home and Garden center where I found the most exquisite pansies for the city front porch, the farm back porch and a primrose to knock your sox off. We also went to Ikea, where I loaded up on my favorite candles and tea lights and found 2 solar fabric lanterns for the farm house.
Jerome planned to take Wednesday off and possibly Thursday. On the coming Sunday he would be playing and conducting the Dubois Seven Last Words. He could have been spending that time in continued preparation but opted to give me the days.  We spent  Wednesday cleaning out the debris of the winter in our city garden, an expenditure of our precious free time that I convinced him was necessary and that we both thoroughly enjoyed. We both miss working on projects together. We fit in a half day at the Chicago Botanic Gardens on Thursday. We hadn't been there since Christmas time. The work on their shore restoration continues on the great north lake, the most visible area of the gardens. What a monumental task.
I had been surprised to see how much had survived the winter in the city garden as if there hadn't been a winter. The roses had no die back, the butterfly bush was green throughout its 5 feet height, the easter lily bulbs were up along the porch. Arriving back at the farm brought more surprises. The Friday before I left the high temperature was 30 degrees and the wind was fierce out of the north. When I returned, spring or rather early summer had arrived. My spinach, which wintered over without any covering at all, had begun to grow anew.

I've been picking and eating it almost daily since I returned. The yearling trees in the orchard are budding out and there appear to be flowers on the Moongold apricot near to opening.  Nights are filled with frog song and during the day I hear the constant calling of what Eli this morning identified as ring-necked pheasant.  I described what I had been hearing and Eli said he had once seen a pheasant on a fence post call and then shake its feathers making the sound I described to him. Sure enough, checking the Cornell site I learned he was right. They have been all around the farmhouse this week. Last evening I sat on the front porch where I could clearly hear them across the road hoping I could see what was making that sound. I didn't, but it's enough to have learned what they were and that they are near.
In fact, I am surrounded by creation and feel as if a banquet has been spread before me. I feel nourished and thankful.

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