This is the story of a fig tree. About five years ago I decided I wanted to grow figs in the backyard of our northern Virginia home. You may know that George Washington successfully grew figs at Mount Vernon. It was pretty cold in the 18th century, so I figured if George could do it, so could it. What I didn’t take into account was the fact that George probably know a lot more about horticulture than I do, and had people working for him whose sole job it was to grow things. And now that I think about it, maybe these fig trees were inside a green house. Never mind all that. How hard can it be? So I began my fig saga, first with one fig tree, then with a second in year two. I got figs from one tree in year two. Then this tree died after a protracted cold spell in the winter. In year three I removed the dead fig and replaced it with a fourth one. This one, like its predecessor expired after a rough winter. Now in Pennsylvania I have finally succeeded. Continue reading
You may have noticed that I’ve been quiet lately. That doesn’t mean I haven’t been busy, just the opposite. So I thought I would take a moment and review where I’ve been and what I’ve been doing over the past months. Continue reading
In between knocking on doors and meeting people in my township, I have been busy in the garden. Building on lessons learned from last year, I have already had some early successes. These include lettuce, spinach, radishes, and peas. I recently started putting in my summer veggies: tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, and green beans. The longer than usual cool spring weather helped extend the lettuce. I had so much lettuce I have been giving it away by the armfuls. The spinach is about done and going to seed, which is good because I need the space for zucchini and cucumbers. I found a local source for high quality compost, and learned about the value of covering plants, organize means to battling pests, and growing in bags. Continue reading
I have been quiet lately. After returning from our trip to Scotland life took over. Since late last year and the tears and the depression, I got back up and into the game. I volunteered for an organization that I care deeply about and have been on their fundraising committee for their big event of the year. It was hugely successful and thankfully now in my rearview mirror. Did I also mention I’m running for local office? That was another of my post-election decisions. If you want to have an impact on your community, you have to step up and get in the arena. I have been knocking on doors and meeting lots of people and listening to their concerns. More on this later, but first I want to take moment to remember the beauty of Scotland. Continue reading
Two weeks ago I attended the Edinburgh Yarn Festival (EYF), a fiber festival in Europe. After years of going to Maryland Sheep and Wool and New York Sheep and Wool (Rhinebeck), I wanted to see what an urban fiber fest was like. It did not disappoint. The Edinburgh Yarn Festival was on held on March 9-12 this year. Friday and Saturday were market days — codeword for shopping, and 8 – 12 March were class days. In between there were opportunities for seeing the city, taking a day trip, joining others for knit night, and a traditional Ceilidh – Scottish dancing. It you’re a fiber fest officianado you probably knew that some of these events were limited and required a combination of luck and dedication to score a ticket. Esther and I signed up for classes at 9 am on the Saturday of Rhinebeck in October 2016. Advance purchase tickets sold out quickly as did space at the Ceilidh. But no worries. There was plenty to do in the evening in a city that parties hearty. Continue reading
If it’s March, then it must be the Edinburgh Yarn Festival (EYF). Last year after I learned about this European yarnfest I made up my mind to go. I convinced Larry to accompany me, then arm-twisted my friend Esther and she in turn, brought her husband Dave. To be honest, it didn’t take too much persuading. This is Scotland! Continue reading
Another Thanksgiving has come and gone. The leftovers have been doled out to company and casseroles washed and put away. The dogs got their annual treats and we gorged on an extra helping of stuffing and a second slice of pie. Our lives are marked by these cultural traditions. In America Thanksgiving is our premier holiday for families. It’s a time when children and in-laws get plane tickets and take time off from work to gather at the family home. We shop carefully for special items and construct a dinner meant for double the number of guests. Because you never know if an additional guest or two may need a seat at the table. Continue reading
During our one week vacation in Iceland, we only stayed in an actual hotel once. That was on our first night in the country. While often spartan and always unique, we enjoyed the diversity of our bed and breakfast choices. We ate delicious food and drink everywhere, even in the most isolated places. By the end of our time we came to appreciate the ubiquitous cod and potato meal, and to yearn for Skyr, a yogurt like dairy product made from whey. Our trusty guide book pointed us to places where we could get a reliable meal in the most out of the way hamlets. Continue reading
One year ago I wrote my first blog post. At that time I was embarking on a new life in a new town. We had packed up the car with our two dogs, and left DC for Pennsylvania. How have I spent my first year outside the office? Well, let me tell you, it hasn’t been boring or mundane. The journey has begun.
Let me count the ways.
I gained a new appreciation for sitting quietly by my peaceful pond and do nothing.
I put in a backyard garden and understood how hard it was to successfully grow food to feed yourself and your family.
I realized that not only did I not miss getting up every day to dress for the office and embark on the morning commute, but I didn’t miss spending the day in the office and keeping the boss happy.
I cultivated an eye for wildlife all around me: Mallard ducks and woodpeckers, rabbits and deer and chipmunks and butterflies. I learned to be patient and wait for them to come out and show themselves.
I got back into the practice of cooking not because I had to but because I wanted to.
I lingered in local shops to get to know strangers who became friends. I let down my guard and learned that trust is easier than it seems.
I left the house without locking my door and didn’t think twice about it.
My blood pressure went down, way down and stayed low.
I stopped worrying about things that didn’t matter.
What about year two?
Now that I’ve taken a look back, what’s in store for me in the coming year? One of the things I started with at the beginning of the year was genealogy research. I started a project of finding out more about my family history just over a year ago. Then life got in the way, most importantly, both of my parents, who are elderly, began to decline and became more frail. We had to clear out their house to get it ready to sell. I found a few of my relatives and connected with my second cousin who live in New Jersey. My year two plan is to start the work of adding more leaves on the family tree and get it in a form that I can share with my relatives and for those who come behind me.
I want to write more, beyond the format of this blog.
My backyard garden project continues, with failures and successes. Before the season ends I need to map my garden on paper and catalogue what worked and what didn’t. Over the winter I will begin the task of planning the garden in a more scientific way, putting planting dates on the calendar, starting seeds indoors, and investigating ways to prevent pests from destroying my zucchini and eggplants.
We have travel plans in the next twelve months and beyond. I will be blogging about that.
I want to try at least three new things. Stay tuned! No, I will not be jumping out of an airplane or bungee jumping. I will be planting fruit trees, spending more time outdoors, and getting creative.
Want to join me? What new things do you want to try?
In my delight at my vegetable garden success I forgot that when you have a garden you also have some uninvited guests. These are known as pests. I put up a fence around the garden to keep the four legged ones out, but it’s impossible to keep out the insects. Recently I noticed that I have Japanese beetles feasting on the green bean foliage. At first this didn’t bother me, but lately they have been gobbling up a lot of leaves. So, I went into action. Continue reading