…in the blossoms of your hydrangea….
We were walking around the yard this morning, inspecting the fields, so to speak, and I saw this pollen-laden bumble bee.
She (she? he?) was just resting there. Not dead – I saw a leg move. I’m guessing she was still a bit damp from the overnight dew.
Whatever the reason, she stayed put while I got as close as I could with the camera.
I figure once the sun warms and dries her, she’ll be on her way.
For now, thank you, bee, for letting me photograph you.
Years ago I used to watch CBS Sunday Morning with Charles Kuralt. (He wasn’t at my house watching it – he was the host.) I loved the show for its varied stories – long pieces, compared to sound bites on news programs. The show was always interesting, informative, sometimes fun, sometimes sad. There were reviews, done by that guy whose name I can’t think of at the moment – I loved his way with words, though…and then, for the last few minutes of the program, there was silence.
Well, an absence of human voices, which is about the same thing, in my opinion.
The camera would pan across a vast prairie, for instance, and all you would hear would be the rush of the wind…distant birds…the ssshhhhhhhhhh of leaves. Such a lovely, peaceful way to close a program.
I don’t have audio, so there are no sounds of nature for you…but here are some pictures from my gardens…and I’ll shut up now, too.
Those (above) are blossoms on one of our potato plants. I’m very excited about our potatoes this year – several varieties and they’re growing well.
I’m posting the pictures I took this morning as Bill and I walked around the yard and looked at what’s growing. We do this on weekend mornings right now, and once school lets out, it will become part of our nearly-daily morning routine.
“I collect spores, molds and fungus.”
Love that line.
In that picture? Our sink-side compost container. It’s the holding pen for coffee grounds and onion skins and root ends of broccoli rabe and egg shells and squeezed lime rinds, cooked rice that was stuck to the bottom of the pot and didn’t make it into the bowl. That sort of thing. We also pour in water from when we’ve rinsed off salad greens or cleaned dried chicken poop off of eggs before cracking them.
It’s kind of a treasure chest.
Oh, earthy goats’ milk, how I love thee!
I started a batch of chèvre last night.
Here’s how it looked this morning when it was time to drain the whey off and hang the curds…
Such a gorgeous day yesterday!
A day to get some important projects done…
A day to do some baking (more on that in the next few days)…
And a day to take pictures of all the growing things in and around the yard…
Up the road a bit from our condo in NH there was this brown barn. The roof was frosted with a layer of icy snow, and on one side you could see that the warmth of the sun had caused the snow to melt ever so slightly. Just enough, in fact, for the sheet of snow to slide down around a foot or so.
But instead of the snow breaking and falling to the ground, this whole roof-side portion of snow stayed intact and simply curled down off the edge of the roof.
I kept meaning to take a picture, but I was always either the one driving, or we were on the other side of the road and I couldn’t get a clear shot.
But one day I was actually thinking about it before we got to the barn. Bill was driving, and we were heading from Black Mountain back to the condo.
I got one shot. The one above. It’s not entirely in focus, but you can get the idea.
I made a calendar. It’s got 12 recipes and 25 pictures.
Here it is:
It was hard to pick which recipes to use. In some cases, I had to reject some because I didn’t have really good images to upload and, since I’m so last minute about things, I didn’t have time to make the recipe again and take new pictures.
All of the recipes came from this website. Some were sentimental, some were just yummy, and I tried to set them up seasonally, at least according to my little corner of the world.
Anyway, that’s been my labor of love and sleeplessness recently.
Hope you like it. Or know someone else who would.
Sorry for the lack of food posts recently. I’ve been sick, and wrapped up in making my kids’ costumes, staggering through the most recent 5K (see last full post for costumes and staggering), and then moving around like Frankenstein’s monster because of all the resulting soreness and stiffness in my underused muscles.
Yesterday, election day, was a day off from school for my kids and my husband. After he went to vote, Bill bundled up the kids – really bundled up, it was cold and windy – and took them fishing for trout. They brought two thermoses of hot cocoa, and the kids had fun climbing around on the rocks. They caught nothing, and Bill got tired of the cold sooner than the kids did (for a change), so they didn’t really stay out all that long.
But to back up a bit…after they all left in the truck with their tackle box and poles and thermoses of cocoa, I bundled up, started up my ipod, and walked. First – over to the elementary school to vote. I scooted past the campaign volunteers with their signs and ducked into the gym (or “all-purpose room” which was WARM, took my time voting just to soak up the warmth, and then hit the road.
I didn’t run at all, but I walked probably about a mile and a half, wincing with every step. Ow ow ow. But – I did it. And today, interestingly, I don’t feel as sore or stiff.
Oh – and to back up further…on Monday, I registered for another 5K. It’s the “Downtown Jingle 5K” – another new 5K in Providence. Same route, I think, as the Monster Mini Dash.
There’s some humor in the fact that I was hobbling around in pain and still felt it absolutely imperative that I register for the Jingle 5K. Some form of insanity, I think.
So that’s the reason for my walk yesterday. I did two minutes better in this 5K than in the one in September, and I think that got my competitive juices flowing. (Although, given the fact that I’ve been sick for days, those juices might just be a sinus infection.) If I did two whole minutes better without even trying…maybe I could do even better if I tried harder. Wow! What a novel idea!
So my goal, this time, is to…well…do better. Not very specific, I know, but in my thoughts, “better” might mean running the whole 3.1 miles, or at least running more of them than I did in this last race. And I know that to accomplish this, I need to run more. I need to build up endurance and muscles.
Simple stuff, but so hard at the same time. Not the actual exercising. That’s actually not difficult.
It’s that whole “finding the time” thing that I still struggle with.
I’ll let you know how that goes.
Yesterday, after my walk, I went shopping for ingredients so I could make ALL FOUR of this month’s French Fridays with Dorie recipes. And I made them. All. Yesterday. For dinner and dessert.
Again with the insanity.
First I made the dessert, then the main course, and then the two sides. (Main and sides needed vastly different oven temperatures – something I neglected to make note of when I was planning my marathon.)
Everything turned out the way it was supposed to, though the dessert wasn’t as pretty as I’d hoped – totally my fault and nothing to do with the recipe itself. And it tasted good, which is the most important thing anyway.
Likes/dislikes will be discussed when I write up those four posts, but I will say that I wasn’t surprised at all with who liked this and who didn’t like that. No – wait – I’m wrong. There was one surprise. But you’ll have to wait to hear about it.
I know. I’m so mean.
This morning when my husband headed out the door to go to work, we were surprised to see frost all over the car and the truck. Heavy frost that had to be scraped. (It’s dark when he leaves the house, so we hadn’t noticed the frost earlier, while sitting in our chairs drinking coffee and checking on the election results and grumbling about still feeling run down.)
After he’d gone, and the sun rose higher, I was in the kitchen reheating coffee when I noticed the spoon out on our deck railing. The spoon in the first picture of this post, I mean.
I love frosty pictures. So I got my camera and went outside to snap a few. The spoon. The welding gloves Bill uses when he’s playing with fire (or grilling, whatever you call it), dill, kale, and the peas we thought we might have time to grow. As you can see, we’ve got a few blossoms, but I’m not sure they’ll bear fruit.
Though it’s supposed to warm up a smidge this week, so who knows?
And with that, I’m done for now. I’ve got some other non-food and non-computer projects I’d like to work on today.
See you tomorrow!
In case anyone else was wondering, this month's banner? It's a small head of red cabbage. We had harvested the last two on Sunday, and on Tuesday I finally figured I'd make something with them. So I trimmed off the roots (yes, Alex carried them in with extra leaves and roots intact, along with an armful of tomatoes) and the outer leaves, and then got sidetracked by the patterns of the leaves...
Bill and I spent most of yesterday in the kitchen, working on various food projects, some for eating that day, others for packing away for future meals. We used to spend entire weekends just cooking, way back when. During this summer so much of our time has been consumed by the whole house-painting project that yesterday, we both agreed after dinner, was like a vacation.
Here’s a look at what we were doing…
We spent yesterday afternoon at a friend's house. He has a nearly-five-year-old daughter, and she and Julia played so well together that I didn't even get pictures of them - they were always somewhere else, busy with little girl things.
The house is near the water, and as soon as we arrived, Bill went out to dig some clams.
Maybe a month ago Bill mentioned to the kids that at some point we should see if we could spot any Harbor seals on the rocks in the bay. Around this time of year, they show up in Narragansett Bay, and you can even go on Seal Watch trips out of Newport.
But we didn't want to spend money or go out on a boat. We just thought it would be fun to pick a few likely spots and head out on our own. So earlier this week we decided that Saturday morning would be a good time to go - nothing else was planned other than maybe some more baking - and so this morning, after I dropped a bunch of boxes of cookies off at the post office, we dressed warmly (though not warmly enough - I really need warmer gloves...and new boots) and headed for Jamestown.
Back in March I wrote this meandering post about (among other things) making gnocchi with Julia (that's the gnocchi part of this post) and sort of looking at myself and my daughter from different points in time. I had included some pictures that Bill took for me, of Julia and I rolling out the gnocchi dough.
This image was one of them. A couple months later I received an email from Kim Wulfert, of Women on Quilts and Quilters Spirit (that's the quilting part of this post), asking if she could "use a small version of your picture on your
march 22, 2009 post. It would be about 2x3" to be used in an eBook honoring
women's creative stories about life for women from 1902-1942. This was a
fundraiser writing challenge and the eBook will be distributed for free."
I said yes, of course, and she told me she'd send me an email when the eBook was up.
A couple of weeks later, I received another email from Kim - the eBook was up.
And yes, it's now October - a full six months later. And I'm finally letting you all know about it. (That's the procrastination part of the post.)
Well, better late than never, right?
Yesterday was a lazy, relaxed day. Summer is drawing to a close (school-year-wise, anyway) and we had had our In Spite of Danny's Rain double birthday/end of summer cookout-but-eat-in thing on Saturday, so Sunday was a day to tidy up after the chaos and do bits and pieces of fun things with the kids. They wanted to go swimming, so Bill took them to the pool and worked with them on diving (they're both learning how to in swim class now) and let them do laps. Hardly anyone else there, which was nice. I stayed home and puttered around yes - enjoying the silence.
And after that they wanted to go fishing, so we packed up some poles and headed off to City Park to try to catch skipjacks (baby bluefish).
The fish weren't there. Not a single bite, which is unusual this time of year. So the kids practiced casting. Julia has graduated to a nice pole and "grown-up" reel, so she was getting used to that, and Alex mainly worked on improving power and distance....
Bill and Alex stood out in the water, but Julia preferred to stay on the sand. She's not fond of crabs tickling her ankles.
But first things first. Take care of the itching.
Here she goes.
That's my baby!
Bill had taken the kids fishing for skipjacks a few days before this, and when they got home (with three fish- one apiece), Bill had Julia demonstrate her casting prowess in the back yard. He removed the hook and stood back. She stood at one end of the yard and first time out she hooked a tree. Second time - the skipjack rig went over the fence and into the yard of the neighbors behind us.
Wanna see more? Of course you do.
Look at the bend in that pole! That's power, baby!
It's funny. Their casting techniques match their personalitites.
Julia's is all power and snap.
Alex's is more careful and less aggressive.
Alex was content to cast over and over alongside his father...
Julia, however, has a shorter attention span, and since the fish weren't biting anyway, she and I prowled around nearby, looking for treasures.
Like seaweed...and blue crab claws...
And a teeny, tiny hermit crab residing in a periwinkle shell...
A crab shell...
But then...right after I took this picture...our peaceful meandering was interrupted by a yell from my husband:
"Jayne! Throw me the rope!"
To be continued...
Don't know what time it was, but "early" is as good a time as any.
Rain sounds lovely when you're in a tent. That gentle pitter-patter on the nylon above, while you're all snug and cozy in your blankets, high atop the hard ground on your double-thick queen-size air mattress. Ahh...roughing it.
I know I haven't even finished posting about the recent camping trip, but I had to share pictures of this little guy. Bill discovered him when he was unfolding the tent and rain-fly in our back yard so he could rinse off the dirt and hang them out to dry.
Julia immediately suggested we feed him to the lizard, but we stopped her in plenty of time.
We really can do without the bad luck.
Before I even say anything else, I have to say THANK YOU to my brother-in-law, Ray, who got us tickets to the game, and THANK YOU to Joe (our nephew) and Emily (his fiance and our soon-to-be honest-to-goodness-real-relative) for taking Alex and Julia FOR THE NIGHT so Bill and I could have FREEDOM and FOOD and FUN and FENWAY all for ourselves.
So we dropped the kids off with Emily in the early afternoon (and the kids were just as happy to be away from us - "Sleepover! Without Mom and Dad!") and hit the road.
We've lucked out a lot this year - the days we choose to go somewhere to do something as a little family unit have stayed relatively sunny, or at least haven't been full of pouring rain. Amazing, considering how much rain we HAVE had this rainy season summer.
Yesterday Bill and the kids and I headed to Coventry, to Carbuncle Pond, to pick blueberries. You may remember the name of the pond from various "Opening Day of Trout Season" posts, or other fishing excursions, but it's also a great place to pick blueberries. I'm pretty sure I wrote about it last year, too.
Anyway, we set out with a couple of buckets, some bug spray and a fishing pole ("just in case"). The fish didn't bite, but the bugs certainly did, and so did a large garter snake that Bill found. No damage done by the snake, though. He just didn't want to be held.
The kids also brought butterfly nets (which used to belong to our neighbors' kids across the street until a recent yard sale), intending to catch some frogs. They're not into blueberry picking for the long haul; they just pick when they're hungry.
So Bill and I did the serious picking of the blueberries while the kids picked flowers, caught dragonflies, and Julia picked what she referred to as corndogs, but which were, in fact, cattails. I didn't get a picture. Sorry.
I did, however, get a few shots of a little dragonfly in Alex's hands.
I also, in between gathering berries, took some pictures of fallen trees and water lilies...
It was a slightly ominous day - very windy and overcast, as though the rain would start to pour any second. In fact, the wind rushing through the trees sounded like falling rain. But then, every now and then, the sun would bust through the clouds and warm things up a bit before disappearing behind some fresher, thicker clouds.
While Bill picked in one spot and I picked in another, the kids explored and hunted for bugs and frogs and ate blueberries by the handful.
The whole thing kind of reminded me of Robert McCloskey's Blueberries for Sal...the sound of the berries falling into the buckts - kerplink kerplank kerplunk - and the children eating berries instead of filling buckets at all. No bears, though, which was probably a good thing.
Eventually the kids started getting hungry, and the blueberries just weren't enough any more. We had plans to head to a different spot for a little picnic lunch after the blueberry picking, and the kids were ready to go NOW. As always, though, they were told to be patient and wait just a few more minutes so Bill and I could get as many blueberries as possible.
See, the berries that grow along the banks of Carbuncle Pond are the tiny, wild berries. Intensely flavored and darker than the larger berries, it takes a LOT of berries to make your bucket look full. And while the bushes had plenty of ripe fruit, and we'd picked a lot, it still didn't look like ENOUGH.
Eventually, though, Alex and Julia out-persistented us (yeah, I made up that word), so Bill took them around to another part of the pond to look for frogs while I continued picking as many berries as I could.
We'd poured the berries from Bill's bucket into mine, and I had that looped over my left arm while I picked. (Actually mine wasn't a bucket, really - it was the bottom portion of a large plastic apple juice container that Bill had originally used as a mini greenhouse for early vegetables. There were two sections of plastic that had holes in them, and for blueberry-picking purposes, he'd strung some heavy duty twine from one loop to the other to make a handle. He'd made two of these - one for each kid, but they weren't using buckets today, so I used one.) I've developed my own "way" of picking - I hold a major branch from the bush with my left hand and gently twist the smaller branches so that, with my right hand, I can pick the berries (carefully, so as not to crush them) and drop them into the bucket that dangles from my left arm. Sometimes I'll switch the bucket to my right arm and pick with my left hand, but since I'm right-handed, it's usually the first way I described.
And why did I even bother describing it? I mean, who cares HOW I'm picking blueberries, really?
Well, I descibed it for you so you can see how I was positioned when the tragedy struck.
Bill and Alex and Julia were on their way around the pond, hadn't been gone from me for more than two minutes, when, as I was holding a branch with my left hand and picking berries with my right, I felt the bucket slipping somehow, and before I could do anything, the bucket had fallen from my arm and I watched it - in that horrible slow-motion way that bad things sometimes happen - fall down, down, down, to where it bounced once next to an old, fallen tree and tipped over, spilling the hard-gotten berries into the mucky water.
Bill heard my strangled cry (okay, he said it was pretty loud, so it probably wasn't a bit strangled) and came running, and, bless him, he spent a good deal of time digging blueberries out of the muddy water while I - not patient enough to help much - went back to the blueberry bush I'd been working on and just picked like a madwoman. I was using the yellow bucket - actually a kid's beach pail - which had a much more trustworthy handle.
And yes, before going back to picking, I took a picture of the disaster area.
Amazingly, Bill got probably 80-90 % of the blueberries out of the muck. We also ended up with a lot of rotting pond debris, but that could be picked out later.
And it was. We went over the berries 3 times, rinsing them in fresh bowls of water as we went along.
We also found a couple of these little guys in there:
Bill fed them to the lizard.
We ended up with just under a pound of berries pulled from the pond. The weight is deceptive - there are a lot of berries; they're just tiny.
We also had about 6 ounces of non-pond berries as well, in the yellow bucket:
And another 6 ounces of blueberries and huckleberries combined from our picnic spot and the surrounding area.
So not a bad haul.
I might have picked more, but as Bill and Alex and Julia were heading back from frog-hunting, I heard a sudden wailing. Julia'd tripped over a root on the path and landed on her hand and one knee, scraping her thumb and scraping up her leg as well.
Nothing life-threatening, of course, but it was definitely time for a picnic at that point.
So off we went, toward other adventures.
Yes, it's still Blueberry Week here, but I took these pictures last week at some point and forgot to post them, so I'm doing it now.
I made a double batch of goat cheese, and these are pictures I took after the curds and why had separated and I lifted the lid for the first time after that portion of the program.
In the past, I've always scooped the curds out of the whey, which leads to some of the curds breaking up and I end up having to strain a lot of the mixture.
This time around, I started by ladling out the whey instead, and as I did that, I started to see this swirly shape in the curd part. So I kept ladling out the whey...
And it kept looking kind of cool and interesting...
I kept ladling, but unfortunately the ladle ended up forming an indentation over there on the left of the curd...but still...rather cool formation, isn't it?
Anyway, once I couldn't really get any more of the whey out with the ladle without breaking up the curd, I scooped the curd out into a muslin-lined strainer. Here's the first scoop:
And that's it for the cheese pictures.
* My brother-in-law, Ray, borrowed my camera and shot all the swimming and cycling pictures and some of the first few running pictures. I'll indicate when mine begin.
** One other thing - because my nephew, DC Rainmaker, refers to his AWESOME girlfriend as The Girl, and he has not (as of this posting) put up any pictures of her (except one of her skiing, and she's about a hundred zillion miles away and pretty much resembles a dot on skiis), I feel honor-bound to also refrain from posting photos of her here. I will just say, then, in lieu of photos, that she's an amazing athelete and tremendously inspiring. Julia, in particular, adores The Girl, and at times she refers to the two of them as "The Girl and her boyfriend," rather than "Cousin DC Rainmaker and his girlfriend."
In fact, I have to broaden the topic here and say that ALL of these triatheletes are inspiring. I was close to crying more than once as I watched these phenomenal men and women run past. I am in awe of each and every one of them.
Okay, enough talk. Time for pictures.
*And here's where I took over. Can you tell?
When I was in Junior High, there was a math teacher, Mrs. Smith, who was tiny and smart and tough. She had a steely voice, steel-gray hair, and a no-nonsense, no fooling around attitude, tempered with a sense of humor that she allowed to peek out from behind her stern facade every now and then. During class, when we'd work on problems out loud and she'd call on us for answers, if someone gave a very wrong answer, she'd kind of roll her eyes and tilt her head back a bit, like she was reeling from the awful wrongness of that student's attempted answer. And she'd say, in that grim, steely voice "Ah, you're way out in Pawtucket!" I went to school in the southern part of Rhode Island, and Pawtucket lies northeast of Providence, far, far from us. (Relatively speaking. It's Rhode Island, after all, and nothing is really THAT far from anything else.) But that was her way of telling you just how VERY wrong you were. So far off that you were way out in Pawtucket.
And that's where the family and I were the other day. Way out in Pawtucket.
Every once in a while I like to check out my stats, mostly to see where new readers might be coming from. And to allow my neuroses to kick into overdrive if my readership numbers dip. "What am I doing wrong? Why doesn't anybody like me any more???" It's sad and pathetic, I know.
Anyway, some time last week, I think, I noticed that someone had arrived via a medical-sounding site called Right Health. Weird, I thought. Why would that site link to me?
I decided to investigate further.
Apparently on that site you can, like on other medical sites out there, do a search for a symptom or disease or something and the site will pull up articles and information.
They also, with the help of Google, offer an image search function. Which, if you think about it, makes lots of sense on a medical site. Like if you're looking to see what, say, a Lyme disease rash looks like. Pictures are so much more helpful than words in cases like that.
Someone had typed in the words "hard lump above breast" on the site.
And just seeing that, I cringed, already feeling concern for the person who had initiated the search. Maybe it's nothing, of course. But still...there's always the fear that it's SOMETHING.
But still...why in the world would that search lead them to something on my site? Well, maybe any of the individual words...like "lump" - a lump of dough, for instance. Or "Hard" - like "it's hard for me to stop eating home baked bread once I start" - you know, silly things like that. "Breast?" - oh, maybe I was making something with chicken.
Anyway, those thoughts flitted through my head. Then I went in and clicked on the little arrow thingy that will take me right to the page that brought the anonymous person to my site.
That was when I found out it was an image search.
There was an image of one of those step-by-step how to give yourself a breast exam in the shower posters...
an image of a pink ribbon...
an image of a medical-looking diagram with little circles all over it (lymph nodes maybe?)...
a picture of two little girls (not sure how that fits, but still, it's not HORRIFYING)...
a tasteful picture of someone doing a breast self exam...
a cartoonish picture of people eating at an outdoor cafe (again, I don't get the connection, but still, it's not HORRIFYING)...
And then I saw it.
The image that came from my website.
And I gasped.
Because I immediately thought of the poor person who did the search on A MEDICAL INFORMATION SITE and what he or she might have thought when this image appeared. Under a search for "hard lump above breast."
Here's the image.
From early last night, around 4:30, as the snow was falling.
We've got about a foot or so out there. The kids are going to have a ball playing outside in it later this morning.
I've got to go shovel our driveway and front walkway shortly. But first, I plan to take a few more pictures.
I'll be back a bit later.
As I pointed out in this post, Scratchy is really interested in the smaller members of the family - the fish, the lizard, and - because they're family until they're food - the crickets.
Cricket-Catcher (the lizard/carnivore/jaws-of-death guy) has been thrown off his game somewhat. Til the advent of Scratchy, he's always been the king of the food chain, at least in his tiny reptillian mind. Now, when the large, furry, toothed-and-clawed monster is watching intently through those glass walls, or worse, through the relatively flimsy screen roof, Cricket-Catcher doesn't feel so royal any more. Bill said the lizard looks stressed, and in my opinion, that's not a terrible thing.
And you know, I have to give our lizard credit for the changes he's made. He's learning to look at his position in the food chain, and in the "great circle of life" a bit...differently.
to tide you over while I edit and write up a post about some of the cookies I've been working on. And another post about the dinner Bill made Friday night. And then I'll have to get back in the kitchen and continue baking and decorating. And oh, yeah, I need to make some more potato bread because it seems to be pretty popular 'round here.
Yes. That's an orca riding on a palomino. And the orca is wearing a little blue washcloth that came with one of Julia's babies. I'm not sure what the back story is on this image, but there they were, on the living room floor. It is the work of Julia.
Last night. A view of the sunset from our big front window. And that's a reflection of the lamp over by the fish tank and lizard tank. I could have shut those off before taking the picture...but I kind of liked them in there.
And from earlier this morning. Julia and Softie are watching the sleet.
I just checked, and it's warmed up just enough so the sleet is now rain. The sky is gray, it's cold and wet out - the perfect weather for bread baking...cookie making...and perhaps lighting a fire in the fireplace later on.