Spring harvest time

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

Ringing in the New Year: looking ahead in 2017

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We rang in the new year quietly with a mildly alcoholic drink and a movie.  No late night parties for us or big celebrations in a bar or hotel ballroom.  Maybe it’s because we’re not in our twenties anymore or just that we enjoy being at home with our canine friends.  Whatever the reason, we were satisfied with our quiet evening at home.  We are at the point where we didn’t even have to explain to each other why we spent our evening at home.  Our priorities had changed.   Continue reading

Thanksgiving hopes to share a slice of the American pie

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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

My one year blog-anniversary

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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?

A trip to the hospital, times two

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Last Saturday I left the house to go to a hospital in suburban Philadelphia.   Our cousin Richard was very ill and I had planned to spend the afternoon visiting with him.  I completed my morning routine:  fed the dogs, walked Barkley, took them outside again and left them with a peanut butter smeared Kong and some calming music before heading out.  The day did not turn out the way I expected.   A few miles from the hospital as I was traveling along a side road an SUV coming towards me drifted into my lane.  I honked and tried to get out of the way, but there was no shoulder and no where to go.  I did visit Richard, but before I got to his room I made amy own trip to the emergency room. Continue reading

The green giant, or how many ways can you cook a zucchini?

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As the first of my harvest comes in I am reminded of what it must have been like to live off the land.  In the summer you ate whatever was in season.  You went out to the garden and that was what you ate.  No one at peaches in December or asparagus in September.  For the past week it has been all about zucchini at my house.   Soon it will be something else, and if I’m lucky, an assortment of vegetables.  Unfortunately, when you have one zucchini you have ten.  They don’t cooperate and ripen one at a time.  There is no way I can eat all these veggies, so I am coming up with imaginative ways to eat, store, or repurpose it.   This post is about the green wonder. Continue reading

How does your garden grow?

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Cauliflower in front surrounded by tomatoes plants.

I haven’t written anything about my garden project in a while.  This is part of my push for self-sufficiency and reducing my carbon footprint.  Why drive to the store and buy food that has traveled in a truck or train when you can grow it in the back yard?   Now, if I could only give up chocolate.  Unfortunately you can’t grow that anywhere in my neighborhood.

After weeks of rain, we now have the opposite — long, hot days.  I have to water every evening, carrying my two water cans back and forth to the standpipe to fill them, and then repeat.   I finally got a hose to attach to my existing one to reach the garden, and a spray attachment.  I promised to keep you informed about what was working and what was not.  Mostly, it has been successful, but there have been some challenges and some failures. Continue reading

Getting beyond skin deep

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I have been absent for a few weeks.  I think about blogging every day, but never get to it.   Where have I been?  I haven’t been depressed or sick or even anti-social.    It has been all about allergies at my house lately.  First the dogs, one and then the other, and now I am suffering too.  They toss and turn and so do I, itchy and uncomfortable.  We are tired of having one foot in the world of the living. Continue reading

Winter Doldrums

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Some of you may have noticed that the frequency of my posts has diminished lately.  I was thinking about that yesterday and wondering why I wasn’t motivated to sit down and write.  Then it hit me.  I am smack dab in the middle of winter.  Half is behind me, and half is ahead of me.  Unfortunately, the better half has passed:  the holidays, the New Year, two three-day weekends, and the anticipation of the first snow.  The rest is just dreary, slushy, dirty, and monotonous waiting.  I am in the midst of the winter doldrums. Continue reading