Friday, September 28, 2007


Show me some color!
This is a volunteer Grandpa Ott morning glory and some sweet potato vine. I have a planter between the garage doors in which I planted the sweet potato vine and some orange french marigolds. Well, the marigolds didn't do too well and were puny and stick like by mid-July (not enough sun apparently) but the vine was doing very well. So it looked like a wire work trough with giant chartreuse ears.

Enter the morning glories from seed in the gravel of the driveway. The vined themselves up and over that planter and we came home from vacation we were treated to this lovely mound of foliage:

I don't think I'll ever have to buy seed for GrandPa Otts' again. I like morning glories, but they are frustrating plants to grow. They never grow well where you plant them, only seeming to do well from escaped seed. And they never get started until at least the middle of August here in the mid-Atlantic.
And here is a shot of orange just because. I went to Cabela's this week (it was on the way home from a jobsite) and bought a whole bunch of orange things seeing as how it is almost orange season here in PA. Ha. I got a fuzzy fleece hat and a pair of those mitten where the ends fold back and there are fingerless gloves underneath, and a long sleeve t-shirt, and a fleece jacket. There was a really cool hooded fleece winter coat that was this nubby fleece that sort of reminded you of an orange Cookie Monster and I loved it. But it was really expensive for a fleece coat and I just couldn't justify it. And it was very very orange. Almost as orange as this Tithonia here.
And something else I am realllyyyyyy excited about: In 1992 or 1993, my ex-boyfriend and I had a subscription to Outside Magazine and in it, we read an article by John Krakauer about a hiker named Chris McCandless who, after forsaking all matieral things and turning his back on society, crossed the country, headed into Alaska and atempted to live on his own. He ended up starving to death, but his story was still really inspiring. Krakauer turned the article into a book called Into the Wild in 1995, which I have read many times, and gave to my husband when we first started dating. Now it is a movie, directed by Sean Penn and it opens Oct. 5. Here is sort of a trailer. I cannot wait to see this movie. And the soundtrack is awesome as well. Entirely done by Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam. I love the entire thing. So go read the book! Listen to the music! You'll love it.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Autumnal Equinox

So summer ends this weekend. The frost warning earlier in the week has thankfully given way to overnight temps in the low 50s and every morning is thick with fog. The grain elevator at the farm behind us is going 24-7 and some mornings with the fog, it makes it sound as if it is in the backyard. Fog does funny things with sound. The farmer started taking the corn down last night, so our days of having a wind block are numbered. But I do like how the landscape opens up again.

This morning there were dew-covered spider webs everywhere and Emmett was barking at all the big ones for some reason. I wonder what he thought they were. I'm sort of getting into the fall spirit, but am also very sad to see another summer end. The next one always seems so far away.

I will probably break down and buy pumpkins over the weekend and lots of apples. The chickens will appreciate the banged up ones. I should also probably make chicken corn soup before the last of the sweet corn is gone, which will be any day now. And order garlic to plant. My garlic harvest wasn't that great and I hesitate to plant mediocre bulbs for next year. I don't think I'm going to plant any flower bulbs. I suspect many of mine were the victims of underground marauders earlier this summer so I need to see what I have left before I add more. I still have a few plants and shrubs to get into the ground. Isn't that awful? I was stressing about potatoes and lima beans but was happy to receive advice that both can be left until later and will be fine.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

career change

I've become a fireman. Firewoman? Well, no not really. I was doing haz-waste work at a fire station in Philadelphia yesterday and they were kind enough to let me play dress up in their duds. I didn't don the pants or the boots though. I was paranoid that the alarm would go off and I wouldn't be able to get them off in time. Really interesting to be around a fire station with paid firemen instead of the volunteer fire companies I grew up with. I also went home with a load of Wissahickon Schist, a stone native to the Philadelphia area and used in the foundation of the original firehouse (built in the 1800s) which we unearthed in the course of our hazwaste investigation. Fun day.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Garden Neglect

I've been avoiding my garden. Ever since we got back from vacation I barely even walk in there. I just kind of cast sideways glances at it as I walk by, afraid to see the waste amidst the weeds. It was a little weedy when I left but when I got back....well, it was a jungle. A jungle littered with overripe, half eaten tomatoes. And some really huge grasshoppers.

Oh the tomato many, many tomatoes wasted. I started picking some last evening just before dark, but there were just too many. Cherry tomatoes and Sungolds as far as the eye could see. Honestly, I'm kind of sick of tomatoes. We were supposed to get a frost last night, and even though I am horrified at the thought of frost in the middle of September, I was almost hopeful that I would wake up to brown, limp tomato plants. See, out of my hands. An act of God. I didn't have time to save them. That isn't what happened. There were all still there, shining happily in the sunshine this morning as I let the chickens out. Undoubtedly ripening more tomatoes.

The most guilt inducing are the San Marzanos. For most of August I was processing a flat every few days. My freezer is full of sauce made with just San Marzanos and basil. Absolutely the best paste tomato I've ever grown. And I'll grow it every year from now on. Just prolific as heck and super vigorous plants. And it is still producing and I feel horribly guilty for each and every fruit that drops off into the mulch below. The tomato Gods will punish me next year with a terrible tomato crop I'm sure.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Something of a rant

I am 37 years old. I don't think that is that old, yet I feel old. Why do I feel old? It has nothing to do with joint pain or gray hair (although those are appearing with greater frequency). I feel old because I am just not understanding people anymore. Not like hearing wise, but why people do what they do.

What do I mean?

Okay, I've been going to the 'beach' for vacation all of my life pretty much. When I was a little kid, my aunt and uncle lived in Stone Harbor, NJ. My parents and I went frequently to visit. I don't remember much about those days, but I do remember lots of beach going, taking walks, cooking seafood, and just hanging out. As an older child, we went to beaches at the southern end of North Carolina. There were three kids, my parents, and usually my grandfather. We swam, we fished, we rode rafts (there were no boogie boards then), built sand castles, etc. In the evening, we played cards or other games or walked on the beach with a flashlight to find ghost crabs, scaring the crap out of my brother by finding really big ones and then turning off the light. We didn't watch television, although there always was one in the living room. These were fun times. The houses we stayed in had modest bedrooms, a big living area, a functional kitchen. The things we most cared about were the view, decks, and screened porches. We wanted to be outside as much as possible.

So, fast forward to about ten or twelve years ago when I started going to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. My husband and I pretty much do the same. Swim, kayak, sit on the beach, read, cook lots of seafood, maybe fish or crab or dig for clams. We don't need much. The first year we went together we stayed in a little two-bedroom beach cottage on Pamlico Sound in Ocracoke. It was perfect. There was a screened porch you could ballroom dance in. But someone bought it and made it private so we had to find a new house. Since then, there are no more two bedroom cottages. People buy them and tear them down and build monstrosities. We rattle around in a four bedroom place simply because that is the smallest there is with a great location that accepts dogs. But four bedrooms is fine, because that is what most people need. Location is, to us, the most important thing. And privacy. The house we've been renting was perfect for both location and privacy.

Until this year. The photo is of a house under construction next to where we stay. It will have 8 master suites and 10 bathrooms (all on septic I might add) and sleep 16-20 people (also a bunk room for the children). The little building next to it is an auxillary cooking and eating area. That's right. A separate kitchen and eating BUILDING!

This isn't an anomaly though. There are several under construction up and down the Buxton area. And this is just the next step in what has been going on for the last several years. The constant construction of these giant vacation homes. Realty ads down there now picture 4 or 5 bedroom homes for sale and mention that you could buy it and tear down cause the lot is permitted for up to 9 bedrooms.

So we won't rent the house we love anymore because I really don't want to be next door to this. I just imagine a lot of noise, and lights, and cars and not a very relaxing vacation. And I am confused. Maybe it is just me, but I really don't consider going on vacation with up to 19 other people relaxing. I just don't understand these huge homes. And then I pick up a little informational package for homeowners that rent their homes, prepared by out realty agency. It provided a list of what today's vacation home renter wants and needs. It mentioned a pool (almost every oceanfront and soundfront home now has a pool), foosball table or pool table, Xbox or Wii system, flatscreen and DVD IN EVERY ROOM, wireless internet and some kind of computer, multiple kitchen appliances (like two refrigerators, two dishwashers, etc.), a hot tub, DVD library, etc. There are even multiple beachfront homes with private, stadium style movie theaters in the house. Am I alone in thinking this is crazy?

The house we stayed in was situated at the end of a dead end road with two other rentals. One of these rentals is an outrageously equipped home like I just described. It is on the sound and comes with canoes and kayaks and has a great dock. We rarely saw the people staying there the first week of out vacation. They simply never came outside. On the day they left, there were children getting into cars that I had never seen before. Because they had never come outside. What the hell has happened in the last 10 or 15 years? I feel like an 80 year-old railing against push-button phones. I seriously don't get it.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

I'm back!

Well, bless your hearts. I am so sorry to have worried anyone. You are all such dears for worrying about me. I am fine and all is well. I was vacationing on Hatteras for two weeks and before that, a fellow coworker was leaving after 15 years and bestowing me with mucho work and instruction, and then I just got back from a few days in Connecticut for work. So, whew! Two thirds of the east coast in a short amount of time.

But I am back and fully recharged and ready to accept that it is pretty nearly fall and summer is over and I'm okay with that, honest I am. Okay, not really. When I saw what appeared to be trees with leaves that WERE CHANGING!!!!.........along I-95 in Connecticut, I really wanted to believe that they were diseased or something instead, because, heh, it is entirely too early for that stuff yet. I'm still getting used to the absence of haze and the odd crystal clear quality of the light and the fact that I can no longer pull weeds at 9 p.m., or 8p.m., or really even 7p.m. anymore for that matter. And people, it is so NOT TIME FOR PUMPKINS YET!!!!!!

So now I have to go back and read several weeks of y'alls blogs (see, two weeks down south does that to a person) and catch up. And I do have much to say and lots of pictures to share and I swear I will be better about posting.