Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Dancing Seeds and other stuff........

There are more than leaves swirling in the air this fall.  Fall is always a transition time and a work your ass off to get ready for what's coming, commonly know as the DEAD of WINTER. (key the horror music and shrieks) 
 As the cyclonic energy blows in with gale force, sometimes you just have to lace up your boots and head out the front door.  Sort things out and stop the crazies.  Or when my Dad would say: "Charlie, you're think'n too much again...."  At 8 or 9 years old it was confusing, how do you stop thinking?  I can't, I would yell!  Hey old man! These are good questions and the dog is not talking today!  My Dad was a man of few words.  Out the front door with a slam and head for the local creek or woods with the mute dog. Within 5 minutes, dog and self would be knee deep in mud and bugs.  Upon arrival home,  really happy dog and I would head to the basement shower and washing machine.  My Mom would give me other things to think about for sure!  HOW DID YOU GET THIS WAY? she would yell down the basement steps.  I would yell back..... I don't know....... and grin at the dog standing next to me in the shower. 

Fall winds have swept in lists of impending changes.
Really good friend moves across country tomorrow, leaving a gapping void. 
96 year old Mother in Law is winding down leaving all sorts of mortality questions.
My one and only show deadline is approaching at the speed of light and dear God I am sick of "dustables".  Functional ware is in full swing however, big changes in the studio.
Plumbing issues in house. 
Stock the woodpile, immediately isn't soon enough.
OH and it's the political season...... I am changing the name to Pol-idiot season.

and the list just goes on into infinity, plus two.  
And I hear my Dad...... Charlie, you're thinking too much...... 

Yes, we live across the street from a cemetery and I have to say it is great incentive to keep moving!

This time of the year it's cold in the mornings and frost fairies are everywhere! 
Everything has a fine coating of hoar frost.  And where did that name come from?   
Ahhhhh, it's from the Old English adjective for showing signs of old age, making trees and bushes look like they have white hair.  And I thought it looked ethereal or maybe a halo...... kind of like my grey hair makes me look ethereal, maybe a halo if the sun hits it just right but never angelic! 
 Henceforth my grey hair will be called Hoar Hair and I guess that makes me Hoary or a Hoar Head? 

After a good mile into my hike I am over whelmed by the amount of seeds, one in particular made me pay attention due to jabbing and itching as I walked.
We called them devils pitchforks, nuff said, don't think I need the botanical name.

They were everywhere;  my sox, jeans, underwear and jacket.
The mud had a blanket layer of these tenacious buggers.
And that is when I started paying attention.

Mother Nature rocks when it comes to seeds.  Seriously do the math on any picture above.  It is just mind numbing.  Everything has had it's day in the sun and now winding down.  The winds blew, the birds feasted and my brain blew up thinking of what this field was going to look like in the spring and next summer.  Life goes on, nothing stops and it is awesomely cool and amazing!  Really why should we, in our little bubble be any different.  Yeah, my particular day in the sun might be fading a kilowatt or two but my seeds are gonna dance!   

About the time I reveling in the joys of nature and breathing out a bit of the crazies, a full blown, racked buck in all his glory exploded in my face from the weeds.  By the time I got my heart started and found the camera all I could see was his white flag of a tail waving goodbye.  
There were deer signs everywhere and I did pay attention but the unknown is always around the bend. 
Yes, there is the initial panic but once your brain catches up with reality, you could enjoy the moment.
Note to self: Go with that!

and then some of us just hang on for dear life..... 

All these thoughts on transitions and changes are ok.  There is such diversity out there and in here too. 
The other day I called my kids to pass on the condition of their Grandmother.  Daughter #1 is always one to listen and ask; What should I do, What can I do...... followed by a heavy sigh and more listening and then we talk about life's lessons.  Daughter #2 after hearing the report, texts back:  it's OK she is just entering the Koala stage, gotta go!   Yup, my seeds are gonna dance~!

Walking home I was full of prickers, muddy, wet and the crazies had stopped for now.  
I jumped in a hot shower on the second floor, not the basement and realized I really need a dog and I said it out loud.   And I really don't think too much and I really don't want to stop asking questions because the answers are always out the front door and over the hill....... 

Saturday, October 26, 2013

I CAN't stop......

After the garden clean up, the baskets of leftovers got stuck on the porch.  
Every morning I got up and they waved through the glass doors.... Hey remember us? 

Talk about spinning straw into gold.  It kills me to throw stuff out and I think I go through this every year.  Knowing the hot peppers wouldn't last long, they were cleaned and stuffed.  I contemplated giving them to the chickens, especially after they just tore through my potato patch.  I came to my senses and stuffed the peppers instead.  I guess I could have stuffed a couple chickens too.....
 Three big cookie sheets and still there were peppers floating in the sink.  I was starting to feel like Micky Mouse in the Sorcerer's Apprentice except I had marching peppers!  The peppers just kept coming! Slicing up the left overs, dumping them into pint jars with cloves of garlic and pouring hot vinegar solution over them before you could blink they were processed and in the basement vault. 
I have lost count on these peppers but if we eat them every week until next August, there will still be a bag lingering in the bottom of the freezer.  

On to the eggplant.....  found a new recipe for caponata that is canned and not frozen.  Had cocoa powder in the recipe too.  It's freezing and I might be needing a few extra antioxidants ..... well at least an anti-depressent.   After 7 pints of caponata I still had three eggplant staring me in the face. Yup, I am depressed.  Sliced, grilled and topped with oven roasted tomatoes and provolone cheese on whole grain bread.  Yum!   Had it again for lunch the next day.  They are finally gone..... but then I've said this before.

The weather has turned ..... hail one day, snow the next.  Today, roaring winds all day.  We have been robbed!  Fall lasted 3 days and winter arrived.  The wind chills have been in the low 20's, the chickens are hunkered down and eggs are getting few and far between.  I am using my shoulders as ear muffs and will stay this way until spring I fear.  

 OH JOY!!  
It's the season of the carb.  
The vat of granola has appeared on the counter.  
Bread baking is back just so I can turn the stove on to warm the house. 
We caved on Friday and turned the furnace on after discovering the butter on the counter was harder than the stick in the fridge. 

Hamburger buns waiting for burgers hot off the grill.


God help me I am still putting stuff in jars.  I can't seem to stop.  Every time I grab the canning pots and start for the basement I think about something else I wanted to try.  My only excuse at this point,  I have never finish canning season, before tearing into show season.  This year I have one show scheduled so I have time to can!  This will be the first year the master list will be totally done!  I am just giddy about this!  

The last jars headed to the basement.... I swear!

7 jars of stout jelly.  Yes, you read that correctly, beer jelly.  It's really good on a rye or pumpernickle bread with a sharp cheese spread and one hot pepper ring.  We couldn't stop eating it.  Stuck a few apples on the side but we just kept eating cheese and beer jelly......  
I used Elliot Ness from Great Lakes Brewery. 

The tall jars in the back are filled with pineapple chunks in brown sugar rum sauce.  This stuff will rock the sweet potatoes and oven baked squash this year.  It might make it's way to top off a pound cake or two.  

The stout jelly foams like nothing I ever canned!  The stuff is alive! 
Thought it would calm down but it doesn't until it hits the jars. 

The foam jellies in the jar too!  
It's jelly with a head!  
Amber clear and very pretty!   
We love it!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Clean Up and back to business........

The weather guy whipped me into a frenzy........ again!
Snow by Wednesday or Thursday?!  EEECCKK!!!  
I still have tomatoes nearing peak of vine ripeness.
My other voice said:  but wait it's the weather guy; the overly enthusiastic, suit wearing, arm waving man, sometimes alerting me to the fact the world be ending in 40 minutes due to the immediate air currents....... a bit of a nutter.    
The longer I spend in this garden the less tolerance I have for crazy people.  The razor wire and moat could still be artistically installed around the perimeter of my oasis.
Nonetheless the end is near, it's inevitable, it's Ohio.  

How to go from this last week.....

to this today......... 
Hoops lay at the ready for a tunnel to extend the season.

but then I did harvest the bottom of the harvest basket are still more eggplant. 
Tonight for dinner, grilled open face eggplant and pepper sandwiches topped with provolone.  Roasted beets on the side dressed with balsamic vinegar and olive oil.  That bucket of hot pepper will be stuffed and frozen.  The variety is "Inferno" they are not fiery hot but pleasant.  I put three plants in and harvested over 100 peppers per plant.  Next year one plant will do! 

End of the season tomatoes and cauliflower are now pickled, dilled and tucked in the basement! 
Those little green tomatoes are going to rock in Sunday morning bloody mary's! 

 Every year new garden beds are added and I forget they all need to be put to bed in the fall.  
Oh yeah...... the way back gardens, this is their second year and I am still working out the bugs in these beds.  Still a few side out, rotates are in order.  Like the Sambucus canadensis 'Johns' which grew to 12' tall this past summer!  Who knew?  Yes, the tag did say it could get that large but who reads those stupid tags anyway?  Sambucus will be relocated to the outside area of the chicken coop.  The girls will love it!  This will free up half a bed!  
I also realized the back beds get a bit more shade as the trees have grown and the yard has evolved.  Edibles tolerating shade will be berries red and black, currants, gooseberries and blueberries.  The middle beds get enough sun to support lettuce, radishes, chard and just about all greens.  Potatoes did pretty well in this area but not so great for tomatoes. 

Garlic should do well judging by the happy leeks.  Yesterday over 100 bulbs were tucked away into the middle beds.  I called Maggie out at Wood Road Salad Farm and begged to buy hard neck garlic from her.  I plunked down $20 for a bag and got some of the best garlic I have ever planted!  Maggie has held back the bigger bulbs year and year for stock.  She has basically hybridized her own garlic, brilliant and better than any garlic I have purchased thus far.  Thanks Maggie!!!! 

The leeks are pretty happy and hope the garlic will be too.  

Brussel Sprouts are zooming along but I won't pick these until after the first frost.  They will be so much sweeter and just right for roasting!

The compost pile is happy!

The wood from the tree guys is stacked orderly but not split due to torrential rain on Sunday.  
Next weekend.......

Bought a new blade for my pruning saw.  It's amazing what one woman with a pruning saw can do on a sunny afternoon!    Saved the birch but let the magnolia trimmings go. 
Yes, it's the political season and yes this is my political sign.  It is not Democratic or Republican, it simply states I am out of money and cannot vote for your levies.  We are all on a tight budget so buck up government officials and tighten yours.  The money tree is on the curb.

the feverfew (tanacetum parthenium) has jumped the beds refusing to be corralled, much like the gardener!

And as this is a political season I noticed my very limited TV time has switched to Master Piece Theater or even better audiobooks!  Our local library is my refuge.
Priding myself on almost no late fees and an avid user of so many resources I am a confessed bibliomaniac.  I have started walking to the library to curb my enthusiasm for checking out books.  
Walking up the hill to our house I thought I was going to die from the weight of cookbooks, garden books, ceramics books, a few magazines like Architectural Digest and HortScience, toss in 4-6 audio books on CD and it's pretty close to lugging around an added 20 pounds.  Summer doesn't leave much time for the library so once fall hits and I head back to the studio I find myself running back to the library. 

And the best reminder to get the kiln up and take the chill off the studio...... YIKES!  6 weeks away! 
Pedal to the metal and we are off! 


Friday, October 18, 2013

A Magical Night........

Last night, dark and rainy I fought the traffic into downtown Cleveland at rush hour.  Yes, I grumbled the entire trip.  Tagging along with The Grand River Sailing Club, 5 sailors and 1 potter (ballast) attended a dinner at Cleveland Sight Center.   

I do not sail, my better half, Butch is the sailor and boat owner.  I have tried to get my sea legs but the sea is not for me.  I have tried, really!  My very first trip out was a disaster, as pointed out by another boater who remarked how wonderful it was that my husband was taking a woman with cerebral palsy out for a ride.  My memory of this first trip:  Flailed about the deck and a week for the bruises to heal. 
 This year I tried again, it was perch season and I love to fish!  Out on the lake, I prepared to tie the tackle on lines and puked...... unabashedly I might add.  I watched the minnow bucket slosh across the deck and stuck my foot out to stop it.  The minnows were puking too.  I lasted 45 minutes, I looked at my husband with beads of sweat on my sunbaked face and said;  See my face?  This is 50 Shades of Green, get me back to shore, now.  He coached me to look at the horizon.  I coached him to turn the motor on or he would die.  I spent the rest of the day casting from the dock while he sat next to me in a lawn chair drinking beer, telling me how great sailing is.  I threw up on his deck shoes. 
I do not belong to a yacht club I am president of the yak club, stained shirts for everyone!  

All that said, this group that calls themselves the Grand River Sailing Club is a fun group of people that seem to have a great time racing on Wednesday nights, Sunday mornings and any time the wind blows.  They throw a pretty great regatta every August to raise money for The Sight Center...... and have a non stop party. 
We are not talking yacht club, we are talking sailing club.  This means, do whatever you need to do for the love of sailing. Get as many people into a sailboat and on the lake as possible.
  No tighty whities for this bunch...... more like they just showed up from a Jimmy Buffett concert, complete with cups of grog.  

We were served a hearty dinner of lasagna, salad, garlic bread, dessert and beverages.  A lovely woman entered to explain that wine was being served table by table and apologized the wine was fake this year but we would never know the difference.  There was an audible "GASP" from the room of visually impaired sailors.   This was my first hint the night would prove to be more than expected.  
Hmmmm.....  some who will be using public transportation to get home and they want real wine!
I forgot, this is the sailing club!  

This jolly bunch of sailors from GRSC did a wonderful thing last night. 

 They presented the Cleveland Sight Center with a substantial check to support their sailing program. 

We listened to visually impaired and blind sailors talk about how sailing has changed their life.

 Sailors talked candidly about the first time holding a tiller. Feeling the wind brush the tips of their ears hinting which way the wind is blowing.  The skippers who are trying to figure out ways to tap into the world of the visually impaired to make true sailors out of the enthusiastic group. The excitement expressed by these visually impaired sailors was the same I hear at home and after races.
 One intrepid sailor, who won sailor of the year made it to the Blind National Sailing Championships this year.   
The Brightside Trophy was awarded.

It was one of those magical nights when we all drove home on a dark rainy night knowing the sun shines a bit brighter in the world of sailing........

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

They fly through the air with the greatest of ease.........

My love/hate relationship with the old Norway Maple is getting better.  
Love the backyard in the heat of summer because it's 10 degrees cooler.
Hate the shade that now covers 80% of the way back yard, especially the old vegetable garden.
Slowly the backyard garden which used to be prime tomato beds is now being converted to blueberries, gooseberries, currants, blackberries and elderberries.  Lettuce, radishes and shade tolerant veggies have been moved to the back beds too.  
It's a noble tree that is healthy, it should not be cut down.
As the maple ages so has the gardener, finally figured out I probably shouldn't be climbing trees with chainsaws too much anymore.  
Are you sitting down?
I called the tree guys! 

Early morning light breaks through the old Maple.

Enter the tree guys while the dew was still on the pumpkins

Ropes, pulleys and tackle ...... Oh my! 

After watching this guy I believe he has squirrel DNA.
A man of few words and a bit squirrelly, in a good way :)

The wood from one limb will heat this house for a month.
They left 5 piles of wood, thankfully took the brush.
Saturday we will drag out the wood splitter and get busy stacking.

The past week has been a bit trying on the ladies who lay; 
parties, hawks and chainsaws I don't think I will get eggs for a week.
I just hate dramatic chickens...... 

Monday, October 14, 2013

Weekends are for dancing.........

Another weekend in the Falls...... 
I think it was the early summer month of June, one of our favorite potters announced plans to move...... 
across the country to San Francisco of all places.   Who could possibly want to leave Northeastern Ohio with a stiff north wind blowing, a slight drizzle in the air and winter looming large?  The snow plows return just like the steelhead trout returning to spawn and fisherman running to stand in it....... it's inevitable and it's Ohio!  

All of us who know and love Linda Goldstone (Jerry too!) said; That is GREAT, we are so happy for you!  As summer marched on and Linda's trips to the west coast increased, it started to sink in.  Even after the pictures were received of a beautiful new home and a few weeks later Linda started breaking down her studio and lovingly parceled out pieces, parts and chemicals to other grateful potters, we still were reluctant to believe the clock was ticking down.  
It occurred to me we cannot let this go quietly into the night, we must have a party!  We must dance!
And party we did!  We visited, we hugged, we embraced, we watched the chickens watching us, we walked around the gardens, we ate and drank, we told stories and one of us piped while others listened in awe.  And then we ate again.

My first thought, I'll just clean the house and make a few nosh-y things to be nibbled on while hanging out around the fire pit on a sunny fall day in October.  Something small and relaxed, perfect!  Linda emailed me her list of friends and the e-blast went out.  Then it morphed, as the week rolled along and before I knew it we would be hosting about 30 people!  You know this is exactly how 10 chickens showed up here.  

Last week after a quick head count, I noticed a couple recipe books sitting on my desk.  I thought back to the Minnesota Potters Tour in May, the one thing that stood out besides the pots had been the food!  So many of the potters I have loved in my adventure down the pottery road have been foodies and gardeners.  We make the pots and rock the food going in the pots!  OH and we love eating the food out of really good pots!  I counted my dinner plates on the shelves, I had enough to serve more than 30 people.

The menu started to tumble together:

A cheese board filled with local cheeses; monterey jack, havarti and cheddar.  Toss in some grapes, apples and red pears.  Prune butter too, so good on a sharp cheese.  Surrounded with whole grain crackers and baguette slices.  Toss in a bowl of hearty caponata spread and you have a nice fall cheese board...... where is my red wine! 
Puff Pasty Tarts topped with caramelized onions and gorgonzola cheese.
Scatter a few bowls of cherry tomatoes around the table for color.
A cluster of relishes:  beet relish, hot pickled peppers, pickles, pickled beets, corn relish.
A bubbling crock pot of pulled pork with sides of coleslaw and squishy white slider buns.
A lovely pot of butternut squash made with ginger, jalapeno peppers, lime and coconut milk.
Italian sausage stuffed hot peppers over rice. 
Vegetarian Lasagna (thank you Linda!!  delicious!)

Dessert would be easy with Shortbread cookies, hot apple/peach crisp served with vanilla ice cream and a pumpkin cheese cake.

Oh and don't forget the bev-ies!  Coffee, Tea, Wine, Beer, Lime Mint Cordials, and water.

Other dishes would be brought by happy people invited to this fabulous party to fill in the table! 
 I think I can cover this! 

OH wait I forgot I need to clean the house and studio!  I never got out to cut the flowers for the table arrangements and people found the cherry tomatoes hanging from their vines in the garden and nibbled their way from the studio to the house.  Everything else made it to the table. And no hanging out around the fire pit due to rain although we did dig a row or two of potatoes.  It's Ohio, be flexible!  
This turned out to be a wonderful send off to a wonderful person who will be missed by our scattered community of potters here in the Western Reserve.  

A few hours into the merry making Lynne Lofton strutted out her bagpipes and played a wonderful rendition of "Good Night Ladies".   Lynne played at Todd's birthday a few weeks earlier and Linda LOVED the pipes!  So Lynne, the woman we know as a pretty terrific potter, piped impeccably through the pitter patter of rain to the crowd of potters and it was perfect!

We partied well into the night.  My fridge is stocked full with leftovers.  This morning the memory of the day makes me smile.  Walking out to the studio the gardens are quiet again.  Clearing the tables in the studio of wine bottles and table coverings I prepare for a full day of clay.  From party central to studio in 60 minutes flat.  This place lends itself well to party giving 3 seasons of the year. 

I love to cook and I love people walking through the house and garden.  
Rain or not it was a very good day. 

For so many years I have wished for a potters guild in Cleveland and we sort of cobbled one together.  More important we have a list of potters working and living in this area.  As working potters devoted to our own careers it is next to impossible to organize shows, meetings and get us to volunteer for things.  We are busy people with families, jobs and life..... and we are tired.  We are keen to know each and every potter in the area so when one leaves we are aware and we can come together.  Do we need more?  I think not.  What I do think ........... we need to dance together at least once a year.   We are a very good community.
Thanks to all who attended!
See ya next year!