Monday, August 27, 2012


Diamond is one of my favorite words, along with crystal. I like opal, too, named one of my parakeets Opal, largely because of his iridescent (another fave word) plumage.

All this came to mind after a massive huge scary storm today, complete with cracking thunder and lightning, caught me under an arcade at the supermarket, no umbrella, had to wait it out before trudging through four inches of water across to my car, very disgruntled about my shoes, but I digress.

Eventually it cleared up and, home again, and out on the patio I righted plants that had been blown all over one side, and noticed that the pony palm had a great diamond necklace.  To see it is to picture it. So I did, for your viewing pleasure.  Click to see better.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Destruction precedes creation

This is one of those days where my plans exceeded my strength and reality.  It sounded simple enough: get some mollies inserted into a couple of ceilings to hang the Boston ferns (the two giants which were the one smallish fern you saw me saw in half some time ago, the operation was a success), and divide the bearded iris growing out front and start a new bed of them out back.

First this involved finding my drill.  And the charger -- always better to have a portable if you're up a ladder working on a ceiling, ask me how I know what awful things can happen when you have a long extension cord along there with you -- then charge the drill,  and finally I set to work to drill the starter hole in the ceiling. Which didn't work at first, since I managed to hit a ceiling nail or something that kept going proooooiiing and bouncing my bit off it.  Third attempt lucky, the others can be repaired with something not toothpaste any longer, used to be my go-to spackling material for nailholes, but it's all colored blue now.

Soooooo, I had to take a trip to next town to Home Depot, nearest places for simple hardware purchases having long since vanished, found mollies and correct screwhooks, matched in little purses, no searching necessary. Fine.  Home again, hole a teeny bit too small, needed a different size bit, no measurement on my bit, just the word China, so I enlarged the hole just a bit, figuring it would be okay if I didn't tell any real DIY people.  Which made the hole just a biiiiit too big, so the molly was easily able to escape.

Another hole ensued, and amazingly, worked, and the fern is now firmly in place
and looking pretty grand if I do say so.  Hook needs to be screwed in a bit further but my hands were out of it by this time, so HS will be called on to help next time he's over.  It's safe anyway, just would look better.

One cup of tea later, and I thought I'd better get out front and divide the iris before the shade went away -- later this afternoon the back where they will go will be shady, see my cunning plan here.

And here's why I love pachysandra: 
no sign of the death struggles of the iris not wanting to leave, and the pachy protecting their friends while I dug and pulled and tugged and heaved and jumped on the spade until finally I had a bunch of corms or roots or tubers or whatever they are, and all the pachy jumped right back into place, looked just fine.  A bit heartless when you think about it.

And since my strength may not after all be up to digging a new bed this afternoon, that's what tomorrow was invented for, here is an amazing sight, that out of this horticultural debris
will arise a wonderful bed of purple and white bearded iris next spring, right where I can admire it while I have my morning coffee.
I will not think about the fact that this will have to happen again in a couple of years, iris being keen growers and like iron to dig up.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Chop wood, carry water

Before and after enlightenment, this is evidently the order of the day.

Cleaners' day today, so I got out for a couple of hours to leave them to work in peace, took a large batch of items to the thrift store as a donation, from various sources including my own shelves, and found a beautiful pale pink cotton turtleneck heavy knit sweater, the universe's thank you for the donation, I expect.

Then since today is farmshare day, came the scheduled  afternoon of hard labor in the kitchen, planning recipes, washing produce, whipping about like a maniac to preserve the lovely freshness of this stuff.  One big knife for all purposes.

So this afternoon, no time for pix, no time for anything but topping and tailing and snapping green beans, stripping and slicing corn off its cob to make pancakes, cubing canteloupe for several bowls of dessert (shake of ground ginger on, perfect), slicing grape tomatoes for adding to the salad made from today's red potato, steamed and dressed with mint sauce and a dash of horseradish dressing,   then I planted the end of the red potato, for a future harvest on the patio, then decided the squash and red bell pepper and cucumber could wait till tomorrow, they being less time sensitive.

And collapsed into the chair near the window with one cup of Earl Grey tea, two little tea cookies from that ancient recipe I mentioned earlier,  two cats and a wonderful new novel from Anne Tyler, Beginner's Goodbye.  I couldn't have read this a while back -- it's about a man recovering from the sudden death of his wife, with all Tyler's unerring eye and her sense of humor -- but now I can.  This is probably meaningful.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Tattie liftin'

In north Yorkshire, digging and bringing in the potato harvest -- often with the aid of schoolkids let out of school for the purpose, years ago --was a backbreaking labor.  But when your tatties -- potatoes in standard English -- are all contained in one small pot on the patio, it's much more fun.

This is this year's harvest. 
Whenever I get a potato from the store that looks ready to sprout before I get to cook it, I just slice off the part with the most eyes, plant the whole thing in any available planter, and walk away.

Eventually after you observe the foliage coming up and starting to die off, you know to lift it, and  you get a nice little harvest like this, just right for one meal for one.
Here they're lifted and washed, not yet scrubbed -- that turns them a lovely white.   Scrubbed and steamed, pat of butter, black pepper, perfect.

Meanwhile, back at the squash from my farmshare, I got a tip from Elizabeth Gilbert's ancestor's cookbook, Home on the Range (which in fact is tedious reading, the writer evidently thinking longwindedness the soul of wit, but oh well).  Anyway, she merrily puts any veg she fancies into cheese sauce and bakes it, and I thought, aha, self, you can do this too! 

so today it was a giant yellow summer squash, some of which I julienned for the freezer for soup or stirfry. Or, who knows, a yellow squash bread...  The rest of which I steamed then made a nice cheese sauce from scratch -- you know, the roux, the the milk, the the cheese, all that -- and  a crust of crushed potato chips on top, which have been in the freezer for yeah long waiting to be used up.  Layered all this in a casserole, baked at 350 F. for about twenty minutes, the squash already being tender, and enjoyed a dish of it with a nice glass of white zinfandel.

I figured, having attended to my spiritual life with the sending off today of the prayer flag to its destination on the other side of the continent, it was okay to deal with the food requirements of the inner woman.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Prayer flag call for entries

If you'd like to see my entry for the Prayer Flag Project exhibit in California, at the Oceanside Museum of Art, go here:

And in that post is a link to the place where you can check out the event, in case you'd like to take part, too.  Any fabric will work and they give the dimensions and specs there, very simple stuff, in fact.  Deadline in September.

This was a very healing thing for me to stitch, and to write the prayer that appears on the back -- that's between me and the wind, the pic in the other blog shows the front.

I thought I'd give you a heads-up in here, since many readers may not check my "other" blog and now you can.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

In Praise of Life and Corn Fritters

The hot sunny day, cheerful farm lady and friendly neighbors, and the,literally, wagon, of produce my farmshare produced today reminded me to celebrate life!

And corn fritters.

And today I celebrate the birthday of Handsome Son, born at 4.50 a.m. this day quite a few years ago. As moms know, the previous day is full of memories, too!  but once I met him, it was all so worth everything.  Handsome Partner left us this day a year ago, but would be so happy to see how well HS is doing in his life, after the heroic work he did to help take care of his father without losing his own compass in the process.
He stayed with us for one last birthday with HS.
Happy Birthday HS!  and many many more.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Justice is seen to be done!

These are the dieffenbachia (late correction, thanks, Jean) I did that radical surgery on a while back. They're doing just fine, and love the patio.And the marigolds are liking the heat and the storms, I guess
Remember my lengthy, endless run-in with the company who cashed my check and never sent the goods, at least sent them to a fictitious address, then sent my refund to the same undeliverable address?  I referred the company to our local Bamboozled column as a general threat, and got instantaneous wonderful results.

Here's the Bamboozled column for today, scroll down and down and down, paying tribute to them and me!

This afternoon, after a long interval, I get to play trios with me music mates, and this evening have a choice of meetings, either the artists, or the discussion group.  I'll see what my energy level is before I decide -- artists are less demanding than discussers.

And I get to be the custodian of the houseplants (three philodendrons) and the mailbox key for my next door neighbors off to revisit India and catch up with family, and make a special side trip to see the Taj Mahal.  They explained that they felt it was high time, since they'd never seen it, having grown up in Mumbai, five hours' flight from Delhi, and from there you still have to get to Agra.  But this time they want to show it to their daughter who was a baby when they left India.

My neighbor on the other side cracked up about this, and said, well, I went to the Statue of Liberty for the first time since grade school, to show it to visitors last weekend!  so typical.  I'm always tickled when friends visit England and see every square inch of it in two weeks, and ask me what I think of Stonehenge, and Poets' Corner and other famous things I've never set eyes on!

Tomorrow is farmshare day, and will include eggplants which I will give to my friend across the street, newly back from India, and a vegetarian household.  She'll like them.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Ds do a walking tour

Richard Moody, a local very knowledgeable history buff, offers walking tours of nearby Cranbury, and I finally got around to signing up for one.  The Ds were more than ready, Call me Michelle and Dreads shown here starting the car.

At our starting point, the Cranbury Museum, we found our group.

We introduced ourselves, and this blog, but while scoring some interest in the blog (even though he's originally English, R clearly missed the joke of the title, oh well) he also scored a first in the history of the Dollivers: a firm refusal to hold them for a picture!  Nothing daunted, I went along with his agreement to have a picture of him, sans Ds., and here he is consulting his notes, with his group of ten walkers gathered around.

The notes were a list of all the small businesses that used to be practiced in Cranbury generations ago, of which only the tavern and the funeral home remain.  Here's Dreads posing in front of the sign showing the location of the harness maker of long ago.

And here's the Sexton's House,very much enlarged over the years, since the original sexton probably couldn't have had this munificent a place, but lovely all the same, with a great cottage garden.

This town has Civil War as well as Revolutionary War sites and markers, as the Ds. show,
collapsed onto a bench with a plaque about George Washington who assembled troops here and planned the Battle of Monmouth from Cranbury, along with a Civil War monument recalling when Cranbury was a mustering point for troops to join the Union forces.  The drill hall for them is now a salon for therapeutic massage, and other small enterprises, quite far from assembling cannons and learning drills.

The day was fiercely hot, over 90F and humid, so I gamely stayed with it, but after two hours (billed as a 90 minute event, but he's an enthusiast), the Ds and I bailed.  A couple of other people seized the chance to do likewise, thanking him kindly for a mass of information about the architecture, history, points of interest I'd never noticed in all my walking around Cranbury.  He's also embroiled in local issues of preservation, very passionate about them, don't get him started on neon signs on the main street of this historic town..
If this tour is offered in cooler weather, I think I'll sign up again, not wanting to miss anything.  But as a couple of us left, we could see the group grimly marching up the street probably in for at least another hour of interesting information.  I was beginning to feel like a tourist in Europe!  but it was great. 

And it was excellent to get home and have a cool lunch of watermelon and blackberries and yogurt, and recover my inner thermostat.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012


Handsome Son came over to visit last evening, bringing with him some old photos from a visit brother V. made to us many years ago.  These are ancient film photos, so I shot them together, and if they have an antique aspect, well, don't we all.

We had a nice evening, drinking tea, eating that cucumber bread, which was warmly received, and hot biscuits with butter, and reconstructing memories of many years ago.  HS was about seven in these pix.  And he took the one with the three adults, first picture he ever took, which is why you see both parents in the middle of giving instructions (old fashioned 35 mm. camera, various buttons and levers) when the picture happened!  click to see better.

Nice evening, good memories.  And a way to remember both HP, whose first anniversary is very soon, and my brother.