Thursday, July 31, 2008

Charlotte's Web

If I had a really good SLR digital camera like cousin Christina in Florence, or granddaughter-in-law Nichole in Fall River, I could capture a wonderful photo of this classic spider web suspended from the pillar of my front porch and the railing of the stairs. Logan and I want to watch it and see who owns it and what gets trapped. This morning it looks unoccupied.

Logan and I were in the garden harvesting green beans when tornado warnings sent us to the storm shelter for about fifteen minutes yesterday afternoon. Fifty mile an hour winds and rain passed through the neighborhood, but no tornadoes. I wonder if we will become bored by the warning and stop seeking shelter when the sirens sound. Many locals ignore them.

The beans are getting strangled by the vines that share their bed. The squash/pumpkins/watermelon/cantelope are running rampant, growing a foot or more a day, like something out of "The Little Shop of Horrors." I have spotted at least one ear of corn, but it looks pretty puny.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Corn as High as Logan's Eye

Parts of the garden are doing pretty well. The corn is tasseled, but I don't see any ears. The pumpkins, cantelope, and squash are blooming like crazy, but I see only a couple of green marble-sized growths. I don't know which vine is which vegetable because they are all tangled together and growing a foot a day. The carrots are about an inch long and we have a few puny tomatoes and grubs which I understand are the larva of June bugs. The beans are abundant and whoever is eating the leaves doesn't touch the blossoms or beans.

Ben's Cool

Logan and I are tending the garden while Ben explores college life with cousin Tom in Massachusetts. Nichole took this photo in Harrell's ice cream parlor where Ben enjoyed strawberry ice cream with brownies mooshed in. He's in Fall River today and will visit the New Bedford Whaling History museum. See Nichole's account of the day on her blog
I harvested our first batch of green beans and then proceeded to ruin them when I forgot to put any water in the pot. Oh, well, more are ripe today.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Cat Nap

Yesterday I heard Logan laughing the way a baby laughs -- a huge spontaneous belly laugh. He had just discovered the cat's latest hiding place -- inside Ben's bass drum. It's a tight squeeze for a 16 pound cat, but she can do it. Ben had shoved a pillow inside to dampen the sound and Minnie Mimi knows he intended it as a bed for her.

Today's downpour and thunderstorm provided effortless watering for our garden. The corn is tasseling and the baby beans will be ready in a few days. The tomatoes are miserable, but nearly everyone who lives nearby is having the same problem. Most people blame it on the gray, damp weather we have had most of the spring and early summer; I hope they are right and that it is not some kind of a blight.

Ben's birthday gifts included a RockBand for the Wii system and an ipod shuffle. I am so glad that the boys have reached an age and a level of savvy that gives them a techno-advantage over me. Now when something doesn't work right, I ask them to fix it instead of struggling with ill-written instructions and a device with tiny buttons. They can lift things too heavy for me and reach things on high shelves.

Saturday, July 19, 2008


Ben's 6th Birthday Party

Ben's 13th Birthday Party

At just past midnight tonight, Ben will officially be a teenager. We celebrated this evening by inviting the church youth group to join us in a swim at the town pool. As you can see, my days of being taller than the boys have ended. Both are just a shade taller than I.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Ben Jammin'

Ben played "Dani California" (Red Hot Chili Peppers) and "Pride and Joy" at tonight's open jam, while Logan and I listened. Logan has been working on "Sunshine of Your Love" and should be ready to jam before too long.

Ben is counting down the days till he goes to Massachusetts and is looking forward to his birthday celebration on Saturday. He will enter his teen years with a splash at the local pool. We have rented it for the evening and invited the church youth group to join him for food and fun.

The lazy days of summer are slipping away and the boys will be back in school in just a month.

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Saturday, July 12, 2008

Been Jammin'

I lost count at 18 pints. Most of it is low sugar and tastes a whole lot like the fruit I started with. We have raspberry, blackberry, peach, strawberry, blueberry, and peach/blackberry. I think that is all the fruit we get around here, no apricots or plums. There will be apples in the fall and I'll make apple butter.
My mother used to make jam-filled little tarts that I loved as a girl. The recipe is so simple:
Cream equal parts butter and cream cheese and add all the flour necessary to be able to roll out the dough. Roll to 1/8" and cut into 3" circles. Fill with a teaspoon of jam, fold over and press the edges with the tines of a fork. Bake on ungreased cookie sheet 15 minutes at 350.
Well I made 60 of the little buggers today and they don't taste like my memory. They are pretty dull. Oh well.
Our garden has only yielded two raspberries and one yellow crookneck squash, but friends and neighbors have supplied us with zucchini, cucumbers, bell peppers, tomatoes, green beans, and garlic. Ours will be a very late harvest because we got such a late start this year.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Fresh News from the Garden

Our garden struggles and so do we. The sweet potatoes planted in the near right bed -- you can't really see them in this photo -- suffer from flooding. All that runs down hill ends up in this patch. I guess next year we will build it up and allow for drainage underneath. Five tomato plants planted very late, hold their own in the near left bed while a squash plant looks like it is doomed. Corn in the far right bed is doing OK. In what appear to be bare spots, new shoots are coming up. The far left with beans, squash, melons, pumpkins, and carrots is the healthiest bed, although the carrot seeds nearly washed out and are clumped at the near right hand corner of that bed awaiting thinning. Looks like I won't be giving up my twice-weekly trips to the Farmer's Market anytime soon. Today I bought cabbage, corn and worms, dill, peaches, onions and garlic. And I ordered a free-range heritage turkey for Thanksgiving.
I think I'm a better quilter than gardener.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Quilting like Crazy

Here are three of my recent quilt projects. The one on the right (I call it "Under the Rainbow"), still a work in progress, basted with more than 1,000 safety pins, awaits quilting and binding to be completed. Measuring 101'' x 101" -- a large queen or small king sized bed topper -- it is my largest project to date. These have all been pieced following published instructions with my own choice of fabrics, border designs, and backings. I machine-quilted (or intend to) each of them, experimenting with several quilting styles. Because I am new to the craft and because I'm working with large quilts on a home sewing machine, my stitching lacks the precision of a long-arm quilter and is a style I choose to call "primitive," "naive," or "organic." I love everything about this craft, choosing the design, selecting fabrics, cutting, piecing, assembling, quilting, hand-finishing bindings, naming them, and giving them away! To see more of my completed projects, check out

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Kids, cows, and Ker-Bang!

Fireworks, a farm in Kansas, watermelon, apple pie, home-made ice cream: we had it all. Paola, Kansas was the site of the bash at a beautiful farm owned by Rachel's (Kevin's wife) aunt and uncle who invited us to celebrate with their family, friends, and neighbors. While the kids rode the range on quads, went to check on the cows riding in the open back of a pickup (the kids, not the cows, were riding in the back of the pickup), and shot off two hours worth of fireworks, I cringed in the house hoping that they would live through it, and they did. They did all the things I did when I was a kid, except when I was a kid, fireworks were legal, riding in the back of a pickup was legal, quads weren't invented and neither were crash helmets.
I promise you that the little boy in the picture is unharmed -- his pants were not on fire, it wasn't even near him. It just looks that way. Honest. Click on the photo to see a larger and slightly clearer image in which it looks even more like the little guy has been torched.
While we were away our untended garden did just fine. I have hope that it may yield more than the two raspberries that Ben ate the other day. They were perfect and delicious, he reported.