Wednesday, October 31, 2012

2nd anniversary

It's been two years since I began this journey log. Thank you for stopping by and for any and all comments left. I'm deeply grateful for the beautiful people I've met through this medium and look forward to the new year ahead together.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

October's flying

I'm back at the farm after a family wedding this past weekend in Illinois. Tomorrow a former teaching colleague arrives for a few days, so I'm taking advantage of a pause to post a quick summary of the past two weeks.
Wednesday the 10th I had a lovely long visit with my Amish friends. While there I got to play with the two youngest and then have a visit with all the older ones as they arrived home from school. I wanted to hear all about Lovina's auction experience of the weekend before and see all her new things. She told me about her "mistake" and took me out to the shop to see a lovely cabinet she wouldn't be able to keep. I told her I thought it would work in my sewing room and told her not to sell it until I talked to her again. 
Thursday the 11th a new acquaintance and I went on the autumn quilt shop hop of the 5 quilt shops that are closest to Viroqua. It gave us a chance to get to know each other better and see what's new in each of these shops. Along the way I took her to the cross stitch shop in LaCrosse to pick up this year's Prairie Schooler Santa, and to the international garden that's there in the park along the Mississippi.
Jerome arrived Sat. the 13th. He stopped at the farmers' market in town and spoke with all the Amish families we have come to know and delivered the oils he had picked up for one of them for her soap making. While there he told Eli we would buy the cabinet and asked if he could deliver it since it is too large for either of our cars.
We were in the midst of our first rain in weeks.

Despite the weather, during this visit we:
cleaned up the gardens, mowed all the grass and gathered the leaves and clippings for the vegetable bed, put away the hoses, attended a quilt show (my first time as an exhibitor), went to our town's third annual harvest parade, added 4 shelves in the middle basement room for my canned goods, put up peg board and a work bench in the east room of the basement, protected the basement windows, added a line in the chicken house for feeding greens to the chickens indoors this winter, repaired some of the gingerbread trim on the back porch, set out and filled all the winter bird feeders, rearranged the garage, helped Eli set up the new cabinet then sat down and had tea with him and Lovina, started the snow blower and practiced using it a bit, dropped off my car for its appointment to have the deer damage repaired, picked it back up again 2 days later looking absolutely marvelous, cooked and ate several meals together, managed to fit in a bit of Qi Gong, and more. All too quickly he was gone again.
Since then I've been to my quilt guild and helped present a session, attended my fiber arts group where I shared some of my crocheted doilies and was asked to teach a class, drove to and from Illinois for the wedding, met with the librarian at the local middle school/high school and set up my volunteer schedule and the first two projects she'd like me to tackle, and just last night had dinner with neighbors.

Above you see my new cabinet. Lovina's "mistake". She had bought it at auction, being caught up in the thrill of bidding on a solid wood piece and getting it for only $65. Unfortunately, an Amish home isn't supposed to have anything but plain paneled cabinets.Timing worked out well since Jerome was here to help get it into the house. Wish I was allowed to photograph the buggy with the cabinet on it and the horse standing so patiently just off our back porch!

Phil was his cousin's best man. He and Dane just love to fish, as does the bride, Greta. You can see a lure in Phil's boutonniere.  The theme continued as you can see in this shot of the wedding cake.

Our table favors were chocolates in the shape of fish. Even the flower girl's bouquet was arranged in a pail that had BAIT printed on the front.
Today it'll be house jobs and a bit of last minute work outside before my friend arrives and the warm weather departs. A nice quiet day. Just Dovey and me, and one small mouse that was brazen enough to wander up from the basement and give Dovey a restless morning.

Monday, October 8, 2012


It's extremely windy and mild here today. Tomorrow we may get some much needed rain. I should be out planting garlic but the wind is enough to knock you over. And a bit of rain will help soften the soil for planting later, right?
The frost of the weekend caused me to quickly bring all of my houseplants in from the porches, even though I hadn't gotten around to preparing them for coming inside. I had procrastinated for too long. Some of those plants were set into tin pots painted white with eyelet edges in various sizes that I bought at Ikea. There are large stones in the bottoms of these to keep the plants out of water whether from my overwatering or rain from being outside. Two of these pots have since been emptied of their plants but still had the stones at the bottoms.  This afternoon Dovey was showing keen interest in one of them, gently poking her arm into the bottom and backing away. I picked it up and looked inside to see what she was so interested in and only saw stones. A bit later I heard Dovey's distress sound and discovered...

a stowaway. It has been inside since last Thursday or Friday. I'm glad it remained in the pot and didn't escape into the house where it would have been unable to survive. I'm happy it's a mild day for him to be released and find his way.
Be safe this winter little fellow. Thanks for the chuckle you gave me and the excitement you gave Dovey.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

a week on the ridge

Sunset and moon rise.
There was something in the air on Sunday that whispered "Change" into my ear, a feeling of urgency.

The locals tell me this has been the best color in years. It certainly has been the best since we've been on the ridge.
I spent so much time taking photos Monday morning that I was eating my breakfast at 10:15 when I heard a horse and buggy in my driveway. Lovina had stopped by to deliver 4 large quarts of raspberries. I was supposed to pick them up later in the day at their farm but their plans had changed and with no phone to let me know, dropped them off on their way out for the day. Those raspberries went right into the freezer for enjoying this winter.
About an hour later Dave called and asked if he could buy some eggs. I love this farm life!
I spent a good deal of time writing thank you notes and getting several birthday cards and gifts ready to mail. It felt so good to give myself unhurried time to get this done. Then a trip to the post office and since the library is directly across the street, a nice stop there as well.

The bounty for another batch of sauce. Jerome and I had been talking about how important it is to be fully conscious of the season and the surroundings here when I'm outdoors working. Tuesday morning the labor was most satisfying.

From picking to canning, the process takes all day. For the first time this season, I had one lid that did not ping. I guess one out of over 100 isn't bad. In addition to the ripe tomatoes, I collected 4 flat newspaper lined boxes of tomatoes slightly ripe and put them in the basement to ripen in their own time in the days ahead.
I planted tulip and grape hyacinth bulbs. We'll see if the critters leave them alone long enough for them to root.
And since we've had no rain at all for over a month now, I gave each orchard tree a good long drink, moving the hose every 45-60 minutes throughout the day. 
Tricked the chickens into going into their house early so I could attend the UFO night of my new quilt guild. I couldn't be away after dusk without having them locked up safely inside. There is a quilt show here in town on Saturday the 13th and I've got a wall hanging that I'm entering. I stopped at the meeting just long enough to find out what info they needed for their booklet and where and when to drop it off for the show. I'm a bit nervous about exposing my work to the public. Many of you have done so and I take courage from you.
I'm entering this wall hanging. It is hand pieced and hand quilted. The blocks are Storm at Sea.

A warning of cooler nights to come.

Oh, and I had to replant many of the bulbs this morning. Just the shallow planted grape hyacinths, thankfully. Not the deeper tulips.
I had been preparing for Terri's arrival and had left much of the house cleaning to the last minute so the house would be in good order just as she arrived. Wouldn't you know, we had a very unusual power outage for most of the morning and I couldn't use the vacuum or draw water for washing the kitchen floor. Oh well, she's my sister and she loves me and my messes. Grrr.
Terri arrived about 2:00 and we had a quick bite then took a color drive to Lansing, Iowa.
Stopped in Lansing Furniture and the town's crazy discount stores, where I bought this postcard.

Started the day with exercise! When I returned from Illinois recently, I had set up the east bedroom with an old tv and VCR so I could play my old VHS exercise tapes. I also added my weights, stretch bands, and other "gear" to the space. There's nothing else in that room, so I don't have to worry about bumping into things when I swing my arms and legs about. The room has lovely morning sunlight and beautiful views.
Then breakfast of my extraordinary hens' eggs. Then we were ready for our day, Terri had a mission of finding pumpkins.

The large green Cinderella pumpkin and the minis are from my garden. The traditional carver you see here I bought at the Valley Market in Coon Valley. Terri bought a trunk full there and then a few more up the road, including a pretty blue/green/grey that was produced by crossing a Ghost pumpkin with a Cinderella. We had a lovely chat with the farmer who raised it on his farm, the property you see first as you drive down into the valley. A beautiful spot.

After shopping for pumpkins, antiques, and more, Terri and I called our brother David in Colorado to wish him happy birthday. Years ago he built this shadow box for me and I had to tell him again just how much I love it and how it has become an integral part of the farmhouse.

Next we changed out of our jeans and attended the opening of the new exhibit at VIVA the art gallery in town. Each month the gallery hosts a guest artist and highlights one of the member artists. The guest this month is the husband of one of my new fiber arts friends. His work is photography. It was marvelous to see so many attend the opening. I had the good fortune to meet Jack and tour his studio this past August at his breathtakingly beautiful ridgetop property when his wife Brenda hosted the fiber arts group there.

We ended the day with a foot soak and a movie: Mum's the Word. Maggie Smith, Rowan Atkinson, and Patrick Swayze.  We got so into the film that our foot baths turned chilly without our noticing!
Such a chilly morning. We both slept a bit late under our cozy blankets. Once I got up, though, I had to break down and turn on the furnace for the first time this season. Lovely to get the chill out of the house!  And we were about to do our stretching and exercises and needed it a bit warmer. Terri has been attending Pilates and Yoga for ages and knows her stuff. She's a great coach and keeps reminding me to breathe!
We harvested 4 large boxes of tomatoes for her to take back to the city. They were in all stages of ripeness and included every variety I grew, from the tiny Sweet 100s to the enormous Brandywine. The weather had gotten cold and windy and with frost predicted for the next couple of nights, the tomatoes wouldn't last much longer.
So far, Terri's visits last only about 48 hours and we find ways to pack them FULL. This visit was no exception.

Had to get the ear coverings out today before venturing outside. Chickens didn't seem to mind the cold, grey morning.
After farmers' market I decided to stop in the resale shops in town. I found this adorable lamp for less than $10.
It will need a shade, but I have ideas for creating one.
My neighbors' house was one of several on the Wisconsin solar house tour yesterday. Kathy had invited me to stop by and keep her company for part of the day. Kelvin had also booked a class at his home knowing there wouldn't be a lot of traffic for the tour, and since Kathy had heard his lecture before was eager for me to give her reason not to be in the class again. As it happens, a couple did arrive while Kelvin was teaching and so I joined her as she took them through the house and outside to the panels. It was most interesting to get to know a bit more about their most unusual home.
Once back at my century old house, I decided I better cover the raspberries against the predicted deep frost. The skies were deep grey and the winds kept tugging the cover away from my chilly fingers.

I've just stepped outside to let the chickens out and to examine last night's frost damage. I'm glad I took the trouble to cover the raspberries. Here they are under their tent and they'll stay that way for a while.

But that's the end of the tomatoes and beans and moonvine. Spinach, lettuce, kale, beets all look fine. I bought my garlic yesterday. That'll be a job for this week.
Later today I'll be attending the annual brunch meeting for the members of the food co-op in town. It's being held at the Rooted Spoon and should be delicious and interesting.
A week in my life. Thanks for reviewing it with me.