Sunday, September 17, 2017

Sunday mornings...

I love Maine. I love mornings. I particularly love Sunday mornings in Maine. And if it's very, very foggy, like it is today, that is just frosting on the cake.  Fog makes everything seem mystical and quieter than usual. The reason I am so fond of Sunday mornings is that my husband likes to sleep in a bit on the weekends if he can. So I am up at the crack of dawn, taking care of animals, and have the place to myself.  It's a nice little slice of quiet time.

I took my camera out after I did chores and snapped a few shots to share.

The poultry are molting. This means they are shedding out their old, dirty, tattered feathers and growing beautiful new ones.  Harrison Ford, my handsome rooster, must be embarrassed. Normally he boasts a full compliment of glossy, arched tail feathers. Just now he has one sad little feather poking straight up where his former glory once was.  I wonder if his ladies are ashamed to be seen with him? 

Bravo hangs out with me while I do chores. I keep a little bowl near the milk stand, and when I milk the goats he gets a portion of sweet, warm, milk.  When I go to the front yard to water plants and such, I sometimes let him come out.  Cars drive fast on our little road, so I keep a sharp eye on him, but he never sets a paw on the pavement.  This morning I was distracted for a few minutes, and when I remembered to check I found him here. 

Sitting at the end of the driveway, watching me. I called him and he sprang up, happy to be out and about and ready to join me in whatever happened next. 

I like the way the arbor looks, all smothered in flowers. 
We crossed some more things of the wedding "to do," list. I found pretty fall-ish bandannas for the goats to wear. 
And our sweet, sweet neighbor made a special decoration for Abraham donkey.  I'm not unveiling that just yet. Chris set a sound system up in the garage, mounting speakers high on the walls and tweaking things until the walls are filled with sweet, sweet music at the press of a button. He will add another set of speakers outside on the day of the wedding. 

It's apple season, and I love having a bowl full of them in the kitchen. 
One final thing to share today, a picture I was delighted to catch.  Pileated woodpeckers are large, fairly shy birds. I often hear them in the woods, and see them from time to time, flapping over the pasture, calling their strident call.  One has been visiting the large dead tree on the edge of our property from time to time, and I had my camera all ready, hoping to catch him.  The other day Rachel said "Your bird is on the tree."  I grabbed my camera and started shooting. To my delight, another appeared from the back side of the trunk. Two pre-historic looking birds, caught in my frame.A delight. 

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Cooking ahead...

I have a notebook with pages of lists of things to do before the wedding.  We crossed a whole bunch of those things off this weekend.

Wonderful sister Deb drove here from Massachusetts to help. Again.  The plan was to get some of the food that can be cooked in advance and frozen taken care of.  One of the side dishes for the wedding is to be my mom's macaroni and cheese recipe.  We used to joke that no one she knew and liked ever died, had a baby or a party without receiving a pan of this stuff.  And everyone loves it, to this day.

So this weekend we cooked 9 pounds of pasta, used almost 4 gallons of milk, 9 pounds of sharp cheddar cheese, and I don't even know how much butter we went through. There was also flour, salt, pepper, dried mustard... a dash or two of Worcestershire sauce.  We used BIG pots.

And we seasoned it all with laughter, then added a little love.

The trick is to make a LOT of cheese sauce, so the noodles are just swimming in it. They absorb it after a while.  We now have 4 pans (10 x 19") of cheesy deliciousness tucked into the chest freezer.  Before we bake them we will top them with Ritz Cracker crumbs and sprinkle everything with grated cheese, then cook them until they are hot and golden and... yum.

Deb also brought me some presents. Because... that is who she is.  I needed a new milking stool, and she found a super cute one that is just right. I'll get a picture of it another time.  Best of all she went to a nearby antique store which we have visited together and bought me something I have been wanting for three years. I kept looking at it and wishing for it, but never did bring it home. So she did.

And we hung it right up in the garage.  This whole weekend was a great one to be happy!

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

My "busy summer" gardens...

Knowing I had a busy summer ahead, I didn't think I'd have time to maintain a traditional vegetable garden.  However, I didn't want to just leave my plot fallow.  Sometimes I have a good idea, and this time it was to plant the spot with pumpkins.  So, I weeded it well, (a couple of times), then hauled many buckets of composted manure from the pasture and spread it over the soil.  Next I planted several field pumpkin seedlings, several pie pumpkin seedlings, and a couple of wee little white pumpkin plants, too.  Then I covered the whole bed with a deep, deep layer of straw.  My hope was that the pumpkins would grow well enough to shade the dirt and prevent many weeds from coming through.  And I also hoped we'd have pumpkins to decorate for the October wedding we are planning.

My plan appears to be a success. The leaves are so lush and dense that it is hard to see the pumpkins, but I poked around a little and there are a good few in there. Not many weeds though, which is a happiness.

I put a pretty little arbor in the middle of the bed, and planted some morning glories.  They are happy, too.

I am enjoying my easy pumpkin garden so much I may do it from now on.

Meanwhile, my flower gardens are pretty happy, too.

I planted an old, wobbly, wheelbarrow with a bunch of flowers that I bought very inexpensively late in the summer.  They like it there.

My busy summer gardens are bright and happy things.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Puppy camp...

Bravo and I have been taking classes at Wag It ever since he was a wee pup.  It's fun, and he is a good boy. I've met nice people there, and it is an excellent reason to leave the house once in a while.  For years I have been hearing about Wag It Camp, and always thought it sounded like a ton of fun.  "If I ever had the right dog, that would be neat to do." I thought.

Last winter, on a cold night, I read more about camp, and saw pictures.  Happy looking people and dogs frolicking in the water and sunshine and working in teams on brightly colored training courses.  I looked down at Bravo by my feet and said to my husband, "There is something I'd like to do..."  He perked right up.  "Let's do it!" he said.  "No, it's something just for me, and Bravo," I explained. I told him all about camp.  "You should go," he said.  "I'd be away for 4 nights," I said. He hates it when I am away. "GO!" he said. "You'd have to take care of the animals," I said.  "Just go," he insisted.  "It's kind of expensive," I said. He handed me a debit card.  "Make the deposit," he said.  And I did.

I was giddy with excitement.  For months I happily anticipated spending time on a beautiful New England lake with my dog and other dog-loving people. The days ticked by, and last weekend I packed up my little truck and my good pup and off we went.  Camp Marist on Lake Ossipee  in New Hampshire.  It was everything I imagined.  A beautiful piece of land, dotted with white buildings all trimmed in forest green.  A sand beach crescent embraced the clear, summer-warmed waters of the lake.  Mountains arched behind it, their faces ever changing in the light.
We spent a good bit of time on that shore... swimming with dogs, throwing toys for dogs, watching the loons swim, the sun set, the mist rise.  There were funny floats to ride, wildlife to watch, and the pleasant sound of small, rippling waves kissing the land.

Each day had a calendar with offerings of training classes and other activities one could enjoy. It was often hard to choose.

Bravo was a very good boy.  Here he is waiting for a class to begin. Like a gentleman.

For 5 days I didn't have to plan, prepare or clean up after a meal. And though I enjoy cooking, this was a treat.  I stayed in a room in a cabin, with a clearly discernible scent of testosterone in the air.  But the mattress was reasonably comfortable, and my new sleeping bag was soft and cozy.   I went to bed before 9 every night, and slept hard.  Bravo and I woke at 5 each morning and went for rambling walks, exploring the property.

 Morning activities began with guided meditation on the beach, evenings were ended with bonfires, s'mores and friendly chats.  And in between, time with our dogs.  It was... pretty darn great.

Back at home, Chris and Rachel did my chores, and Rachel groomed in the studio. She had a terrible cold, but never let on, afraid I would come right home. She is kind and tough as nails.
It felt weird to be there when they were here.  But soon enough I was back, and I seamlessly slid into the rhythm of my normal days.  A little more rested, refreshed, and more closely bonded with Bravo.

Camp.  It was a marvelous, indulgent, delicious little adventure.

Subscription boxes...

Subscription boxes are all the rage now.  People enroll for a service and every month get a happy delivery in the mail.  Wine of the month, perfume of the month, candy, make up, socks, even beard oils.  I, too, have happily subscribed to have something special brought to my house.

My niece, Aimee, was visiting recently, and I delightedly showed her my delivery.

"Coconut chips with chocolate?" she asked.  "Oh, much BETTER!" I replied.  These are fly predator larvae.  A funny look crossed her pretty face.  I went on to explain.  "When they begin to hatch, I sprinkle them around the pasture.  Little bugs,thousands of them, disperse and eat fly larvae.  Since I've been getting these, we have far fewer flies. And when you live on a farm, there are always way too many flies."  I was excited, telling her about my happy discovery.

Her lips twitched a little.  She turned away.

Later she chuckled when she said, "Some people get subscription boxes with lingerie, lipstick, record albums, yarn... you?  You get BUGS."  Her lips twitched some more "Only you."  I had to see the humor.  I guess it does take a certain someone to be happy when the mail delivery lady brings a box of bugs.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Paint party..!

I have the best family. Really.  Last weekend my sister Deb, her kind husband, John, and amazing daughter, Aimee,  arrived to help us. This means a long drive and time of their own given up to do hard labor.  See?  They are amazing.

The garage was all cleaned out. The weather was fine. And we began to spread white stain on the old, knotty pine walls of the garage.  It wasn't exactly difficult work, but it was tedious and oh there was a lot of wood to cover.  But good spirits prevailed.

Between slapping a paint brush Chris fired the smoker up and smoked up 4 slabs of pork ribs as only he can.  By the time we wound up the days work and showered, he had the table set and laden with the most delicious feast.

Smoked ribs, Memphis style cole slaw, jalapeno cheddar corn bread, fresh corn on the cob.  We were all tired but enjoyed great eats and laughs.

Sunday we finished up the stain work, and Chris and John delighted me by hanging some things on the clean, fresh, walls. This funky architectural piece was a gift from an old friend.  I knew I loved it, but didn't know what I wanted to do with it.  Rachel suggested we hang it in the freshly spiffed garage. She's smart like that.  It's fabulous.

I also found a home for the sign from my fathers business.  He was so proud of this sign, and it makes me happy to have it hanging here now.

We have been drying wild flowers and hung some from the rafters. My friend Brenda has dried more for me, and I can hardly wait to add them to the mix.

There will be little twinkly lights on the rafters, too.

I've dreamed of having a sweet area to milk my goats.  That dream can now be checked off my "to do" list.
Ella goat is entranced by the art on the walls.  She finds it nibble worthy.

My family. They make dreams come true.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Nice things...

One of the nicest ways to end a summer week is by going to the Union Farmers Market.  It's small, but so sweet.  Normally they have live music, (today, feeling reckless, I joined in for a few bars of a sweet song,) and we go often enough that the vendors recognize us. Today I came home with a loaf of tangy sourdough, some fresh butter from my favorite dairy, Italian green beans,

and bliss.

Another nice thing that happened this week was a visit from a wonderful family from Germany.  Cousins of my friend Marion, she brought them by to say hello.  We let the kids color Flirt the toy poodle with vegetable dye, just for the heck of it. Then everyone tried their hand at milking the goats.  And patting Abraham.

When they came back inside, the man of the family looked around the house and said, "We like your house."  He nodded at our baking cabinet.

"In Germany, we see things like this in stores, vintage things, but never in peoples homes.  Your house, it's like a puppet house!"

I've been smiling all week, thinking about living in a puppet house.