Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Hey Nancy—it's been a while!

I keep promising I'm going to post here, and things keep getting in the way. So here I am with a bunch of pictures to catch us up, starting back in August and moving up to recent days.

A late summer view through my kitchen window, with my cluttered table. I had just brought the geraniums and coleus in. All are still doing fine and they've grown quite a bit.

I did a little bit of thrifting this summer!

 This was a find. Both are complete audio cassette versions of Tolkien's finest work—unopened. Yes, I have a portable player and can listen to them.

 Found a small case for my netbook, since the mice chewed into the tapestry bag I was using. Fortunately they did not get the neoprene sleeve inside, or any of the cords. The rodents here are extremely aggressive. 

 You know me and my tins. This one now stores twist ties. The bowl got a lot of use during cherry tomato season. 

 OK, I'll be the first to admit, I am a sucker for kitchen gadgets I'll likely never use. This is some kind of dessert mold. 

 No trip is complete without some books. I love Piers Anthony's Xanth stories, and all those adventures of Anne Shirley. 

 Andre Norton is one of those writers who set the stage for us latter-day ladies who pen speculative fiction. She was a wonderful writer, and very readable. I'd never seen this book before. Thrift stores make owning hardcover editions affordable.

 Where else am I going to get two laundry baskets for a couple dollars? They're small, but nice for people to transport their stuff to their rooms, where the baskets are likely to sit unloaded for a while...

Batting is something I use for small felt or crochet stuffie projects. It's certainly not cheap anymore!
 There was enough in here to make it worth the .99¢!

 This little basket now hangs on the barn board wainscoting in the dining room, right near my computer desk. It holds an assortment of things I reach for on a regular basis. 

My love affair with baskets goes on as well...

 This yarn is already in use. It's 'crispy' and should wear like iron, so I am making a rocking chair back cushion for an odd size rocker we keep in the kitchen. My mother likes that chair, but it could use something padded to lean back on. I did a lot of work on that during the baseball playoffs and World Series. 

Yay RED SOX!!!!!!  

 Paper twist and doll hair because I am a craft geek and they looked lonely. I passed up a lot more paper twist, just grabbing the fall colors.

Yeah, they see me coming...

 These aren't thrifted, they came from Roger, who sends me the kewlest stuff! An ebelskiver (pancake balls) pan and two teeny skillets—all good cast iron. Sqeeeeeee!!!!!

Late summer through frost, I was busy with veggies to put up.

 We lost the zucchini early again but did very well with yellow crookneck. I put a lot up for the freezer. I slice and cut it small and completely cook it in the microwave, then drain and mash. Once it is cooled, it goes into zipper bags and gets laid flat on the freezer shelves. You get tired of it in summer, but it sure tastes good in the winter. Rewarm, drain again, and add your seasonings and butter. Yum!

BTW, that big amber Pyrex Visions casserole dish and the colander behind it were thrifted. That knife on the cutting board—which is now my favorite utility blade—was left in a drawer in this house. 

 The tomatoes were generous this year, though the big guys were lumpy and a bit late. Oh, but the flavors! We had a great year for tomatoes. 

 Yes, I picked broccoli all summer. The initial heads were not huge but the side shoots were plentiful and they really held up even in the heat. 

I paid a premium price for a large 6-pack of Orange Bell pepper plants, but they were worth every penny. They produced reliably all summer and turned the most brilliant orange. Sweet as a tangerine too; everyone who tried them remarked on that. They continued producing right into the cold weather, and the peppers kept well both in and out of the fridge. I had a very good crop of peppers this year.

Both pole and bush beans did very well. We grew our pole beans on stakes made of two 7' green metal fence posts bolted together. Not many saplings on this property, so we had to find an alternative.

Try and ignore my ugly, shabby, vinyl kitchen tablecloth. It started the summer as new, but many days of meals and veggie prepping has it showing its age. Those pans came from a thrift store.

More squash to put up. Our friend Willy, an elderly gentleman who lives a mile or so away, gave me a couple of the bigger ones in this batch. I tend to pick mine smaller, so you don't get hard seeds. I provided one of his daughters with my excess cukes and got several jars of bread and butter pickles. I country folks! 

 And more tomatoes too. Those Lemon Boys were absolutely delicious—the best yellow tomatoes I've ever had. Very juicy and not too low acid, they had a refreshing taste. The orange cherry tomato is Sun Gold, my hands down favorite cherry. Salads and sandwiches were delectable and I ate tomatoes as snacks.

 Yep, more broccoli. The salt water soak kills any caterpillars or bugs, which float out. I'd rather find the critters before they get processed. Use a little Kosher or another unprocessed salt, soak a half hour, and rinse well.

 More beans to put up. The purple ones don't hold their color when blanched, they turn sort of a grayish green. That old kettle is thin aluminum, and a flea market find from years ago. It's picked a lot of veggies with me!

This was the first of our potatoes to come in. Nice clean looking Yukon Golds with just a minimal amount of wireworm damage. Very thick skins and the taste and texture was far better than store bought.

'Better than store bought' is why I do this. It's a lot of work to have a garden that produces like ours. You're not even seeing the lettuce, celery, winter squash, pumpkins, eggplants (they were small), and melons we had. We gave away some produce too. There's always something growing here.

Speaking of growing, the family has gained a new little member this year. Meet Mr. Zachary Connor Hansen; born Sunday, September 1st. Isn't he adorable?

Big brother Ben and Zack come visiting at Grandma's house. What a pair of heartbreakers these two are going to be huh?

My #2 son Brian and Zack's big brother Ben share a quiet moment in my kitchen. Brian has been part of Ben's life since he was two, and he's now nine. I have no idea why we didn't get the lovely mom Stacey in any of these photos! 

Ben wanted to grow his hair long, but his runs to curls, so it got cut a week or so later. Too bad, I kind of liked those wild curls.

BTW, all those molds were either thrifted by me or Roger, my other 'enabler'. The iced tea sign is from a Goodwill store.

 I'll tell you, this is one quiet and easy-going baby who doesn't mind being handed around. But when it's mommy time, he lets us know.

Right here I think he is either planning his stock portfolio or contemplating world domination—maybe both! Such long fingers.

Just one more bit of joy added to a world where we can use a lot of that.

As a lot of you know, I am a writer, and fall and winter are my busy times of year. I did get out and take a few snaps though. The pond and the hill over it were an early blaze of beauty.

Wild asters blooming in early October as I walked down by the pond.

Looking over the marshy end of the pond, the foliage is still so thick, you'd hardly know there's water in there.

I love the layering of colors here. It makes me want to paint or crochet something. It's hard to do a lot of other projects with the writing and housework. If I only didn't have to sleep!

Maybe I should just give up the housework?

 A random toadstool that poked through the weeds. Sometimes I wonder if I am the only one who sees these things. I write for my town's newsletter and these are the kinds of sights I mention. There's so much we overlook each day.

 I have not been able to identify these plants yet, but I found several clumps of them. This was a Colonial era settler's house and a working farm for over 100 years, so there's a lot here I've never encountered in the wild before.

 Some common wild yarrow, sticking up through the grass. I've seen a lot of that over the years.

 On the far side of the house, looking toward the nearest neighbor's property, and across the road. 

Like I said, layers of colors. Doesn't it make you want to sigh? My grandmother, when she was getting very old and a bit senile, had lost all sense of time passing. She would look out the nursing home window in the fall, and remark about all the pretty flowers on the trees. We just smiled. Now my mother is starting to lose her memory too, and we sit and talk a lot while we still can. One of the reasons Ma loves to come here is it is a change of pace from her home in the woods—my last house, the one where my kids grew up. She lives with my sons and DDIL and grandsons now, but comes over most weekends. I don't write or go out on weekends, in order to spend most of the time with her. At 79, she is in the late fall of her life, headed toward the more silent days of winter.

 Yes, it's only goldenrod, but against that grassy plant that turned ruddy violet, it looks pretty sharp. Goldenrod does not cause allergy sniffling BTW, it's the inconspicuously flowered ragweed that often grows alongside it.

More delicate asters in the tall grass. If we left the field uncut it would be spangled with them, but the ticks love that too. This has been a banner year for ticks, so the fields got cut pretty often.

 October has a lot of blue sky days that are buttery warm in the middle and crisply cold at night. Fall is a lovely season here, and I don't find it at all melancholy. Reflective yes, but not sad.

The farmhouse, seen from down behind the barn. Yeah, that lawn needs cutting. We haven't done a lot with the place yet, but it sure feels like home now, inside and out. I thought I'd never move again; not after over 28 years on my wooded hillside, but I find I love it here. It helps that the kids really wanted the other house. I go back there often, and see my younger adult years playing out for me every place I look. But now after 2-1/2 years here on my old farm, I have new memories being embedded into the home and landscape. 

Life is full of changes.

Sometimes you view the same thing from a different angle and it all seems brand new again.

Sometimes you get a new perspective by glancing up and then looking ahead.

We're making lots of new memories here. Most of the family gatherings and holidays get spent here on the farm, and it seems to be a place where people enjoy being together. I've never lived in a home that was so open and sunny, or one that seems so welcoming. I thought it was just me, but the kids say the same thing. You just walk in and it feels like the house embraces you. I think this old place is just glad to have the sounds of love and laughter within again.

While I am busy with my writing, I do take a little time for myself. Sitting with mom on the weekends, I sometimes drag out the crochet stuff. It keeps me calm and centered when she gets a bit irritable at some imagined slight or repeats herself. I like having my hands busy.

 These double sided hot pads do come in handy too. This is Peaches and Cream crochet cotton. Yeah, that seam wandered a bit, but everything doesn't have to be perfect. These do get used, and Thanksgiving dinner will tax my supply of them.

We had our first little snow of the season a few days ago. It was cold enough to last in the big field overnight; mainly because the day remained overcast. November has a lot of short, gray days. 

Time to put that lawn furniture in storage for the year. 

That frosting on the brush and trees is a prelude to what will come later in the winter. It's also a signal for me that it's time to think about emptying all my flower pots, putting the hoses in the barn, and sealing up the windows for the year. The heat is on now, either the wood burner or the oil furnace, and we need lights indoors after 4PM. The days are short and nippy, and the nights longer, and far colder. 

Fortunately writing knows no season, and this year we have cable TV, so there are programs to watch in the evenings. I also got myself a new Kindle, a Paperwhite, which has a backlighting. I love it! I can read again in bed without disturbing anyone. I can't always see the print in books but my Kindle lets me increase the print size and choose how strong the backlighting will be. I had forgotten how much I love reading. I have a lot of free or low cost public domain collections, and have been selectively reading those, with Anne of Green Gables and some westerns having been the most recent. I splurged on and blew through the first of Jim Butcher's Harry Dresden books. Oh was that good! Not cheap, but once in a while, you need a treat. I managed to get the first four of George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire in a collection that was steeply discounted. Shortly after the paperback for Book 5 came out, that also got discounted on Kindle. I've read the first one and am working my way through the second, and while they are grim, this is fantasy at it's finest. I actually look forward to going to bed now, even with the three eye drop medications I have to take every night. 

Yeah, my eyes are bad, both glaucoma and a nasty cataract in the left, coupled with my ever-present severe nearsightedness. In order to have the time and less eyestrain to write, I all but gave up recreational reading. Now I can read again, with my glasses off, the Kindle two inches from my nose, and the font turned up. Small joys.

That's what life is really all about you know. It's not the big and overwhelming crises, or the day-to-day drudgery. It's not being a superstar and impressing all kinds of people. Forget all the highs and lows, put the lofty dreams and the heartbreaks to bed. String together a few pearls of joy and wonder each day—weather that's seasonal beauty, garden bounty, loving family, or something you made with your own two hands. Live in the moment. I may never be a celebrity because of my writing, but I have written books and stories that got published and entertained people, and that's well worth the time and effort it took. I still have my old farm and my family, my faith and the knowledge that while winter is around the corner, spring comes after it. Should I be so blessed, I'll see it all happen many times again. Life's wheel keeps spinning us up and down and up again.

Make the most of your time here too, even in the simplest of ways,


Missy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Missy said...

Congrats, Zack is beautiful. Nice to hear from you gain, I look forward to your pictures & just catching up with your family, say hi to the boys. I miss seeing you guys.