Saturday, October 31, 2020

 Temperature was 35 degrees when we got up around 7.  Seven is over-sleeping for me.  My right hip talked to me all night causing tossing and turning in tangled bed covers.  After the cold morning temperatures, the day turn out lovely.  We reached 65 with sunshine.  I'd like November and early December to be this wonderful and I'd like the clocks to be left alone.  The change doesn't serve a purpose anymore.   October had two full moons which I find intriguing.  

Today was the last Union County, GA Farmers Market.  Vendors have slowly been winding down but we show up each Saturday morning for our fresh veggie fix and to see what's happening.  I have my favorite farmers that I always buy from so I wished them a healthy safe winter and I'd see them next spring.  The elderly farmer I purchase sweet potatoes from sells them from his old-truck tailgate.  His sweet potatoes are the best looking and tasting.  I was attracted to him because of his age and his fortitude.  I understand the work involved in growing potatoes, harvesting, and showing up at 7 am each Saturday morning, rain or cold temperatures, especially with aging joints.  Bought ten pounds today and told him I'd see him next spring. He smiled and said, "I hope so."  In the next couple of days, Ill be freezing and preserving the last of the markets vegetables.

Hurricane Zeta roared through this week leaving limbs strewn all over the roof and woods.  We lost power for less than an hour but made it through better than other.  Barb and Mike in Blairsville were without power for more than fourteen hours.  

The late summer flowers blown to the ground.  They will pop back up when the sun breaks through. Cliff was busy after the storm cleaning up the limbs and blowing the leaves deep into the woods.  

Monday, October 26, 2020

 Fall is a time for transition.  Trees and shrubs quietly undress preparing for winter.  There's a subtle browning of the earth and the intense heat of summer dwindles with a hint of autumn crispness in the early morning air.   Plants are storing energy in their roots for the approaching winter months. Farmers markets display beets, carrots, and other root vegetables along with fall greens such as kale and mustard greens.  A few weeks ago we bought a North Georgia Candy Roaster squash at our farmers market.

Last year when I saw these beauties at the market, I couldn't imagine trying to peel and cook something that large so never bought one.  This year I researched different ways to cook them and talked to the farmer about the most efficient way to bake and preserve the meat for freezing.  

Cleaning took place on the porch so I could brush the stray seeds  into the woods.

Cliff cut the pieces for me.  I wanted to use the sawzall but he just used a large kitchen knife. Wasn't sure I could fit all the pieces into the oven.  

Brushed with olive oil, they baked for about an hour all together.  After 40 minutes, I kept checking for doneness. I didn't drizzle maple syrup because they are already sweet and I didn't know if they needed more.  Next year I'll do the syrup.  And next year we'll cut the squash into smaller pieces for shorter baking time.  Once they cooled enough to handle, Cliff and I scooped out the softened meat and put it in six freezer containers.

I know, you only count four.  Two were already stored.  The squash has a delightfully sweet flavor and should last us most of the winter.  

Halloween is our last farmers market for the season.  Weather has been mild with only one early Saturday morning in the thirties.  We'll miss our jaunt to market when it closes. I've been able to buy fresh free-range eggs, goat cheeses, raw honey, and gluten-free scones and treats that I don't make at home.  Masks are required, even though it's all outside, and the majority of customers do wear them. I've been comfortable wandering through the market browsing and speaking with farmers.  

 I enjoy cooking Mediterranean recipes and since I can't grow fennel, I buy one or two every other week for soups or sauteed veggies.  Fresh celery is so much tastier than store bought and with all the rocks in our garden, I can't grow carrots.  So with the market coming to an end, I've been freezing what I can for winter.  Beets, carrots, sweet and white potatoes and squashes store well.  

You can teach an old "dog" new tricks.  I just found out how to store fresh garden celery so it'll last for weeks.  Enclose it in tinfoil like it's a pita sandwich and keep it in the crisper.  The tin foil holds in moisture that it needs.  Now, try to fit that into your crisper.  

Cliff has been busy blowing leaves daily down the driveway as far as he can into the woods.  It's just been the past week that enough leaves have fallen to cover the ground.  In expectation of heavy rains Wednesday and Thursday from fast moving Hurricane Zeta, he's tried to blow as much as he could before they become rain drenched.  I love my little "Tonka" leaf blower because I can clean the porch three or four times a day keeping the leaves from being tracked into the house.

The kitchen door finally got painted after talking about it for the past five or six years.  The paint's been setting on a shelf for a couple of years waiting to be opened.  I think I dreaded it because I was afraid I'd mess up the door with visible brush strokes and didn't have confidence in a small roller.  Thought it may look rolled.  Anyway,  I started painting one day this week and could see the brush strokes.  Cliff decided I shouldn't be using my hands and wrists in repetitive movements so he tried the small roller and I saw tiny bubbles, but as the paint dried ,bubbles disappeared and the door looks great!

Today reached 73 degrees. It's been a wonderful fall so far.  The early morning temperatures have been too warm for fall this past week, staying high fifties to low sixties and humid.  I enjoy the crisper mornings.  A wonderful start to the day.  





Tuesday, October 13, 2020

 After a very busy morning driving back and forth from Lowe's in Murphy to The Depot, as my Mother used to call it, in Blairsville, GA, I took my late afternoon tea to the garden chair over looking the fall garden.  Before resting in the chair, the yoga deck invited me to lie supine and gaze through branches and leaves toward the sky appreciating the calm a forest brings.

The leaf colors seem late this year and leaves have just begun to fall.  

The hummingbirds have gone south to their winter homes leaving all the beautiful red salvia for the bees.

I've been cutting and drying herbs for winter use.  

                             dill, coriander seeds, basil, and holy basil for tea
As of this writing, I'm not going to continue any gardens through winter. I've decided to let nature take whatever is in the garden and kitchen gardens and I'll start new in March.  We'll see how I do with this.

Friday, October 2, 2020

 The computer updated again leaving me in a quagmire.  I'm still navigating my way through this new blog format.  I supposed it's good for the brain, especially when technology is my discomfort.  

Cliff is involved in the funeral procession this morning for our friend, Jim.  I intended to go to the viewing and then drive to the cemetery in the procession but can't drive this morning after both thumbs and wrists pained me during the night.  To drive would be unsafe so I'm soaking hands in warm Epsom water.  It'll take a few days to heal the joints.  I keep discovering different movements or tasks that cause a problem. Yesterday I tried to open a tightly closed jar, before asking Cliff to do it for me, and by last evening the thumbs and wrists were scolding me.  There's no pain or discomfort at the time so I don't know until hours later that it was too strenuous for the hands.  A jar opener is the solution.  

Temperature was 38 degrees when we woke at 6 and with full sunshine should reach mid-50's by afternoon.  Great weather for walking and working in the yard. The forest animals are setting up residence as the fall nights get colder. 

The other day I noticed this little birdhouse where the chickadee nests in the spring is full of moss.  Haven't seen an creature enter or exit.  We figured it could be a mouse setting up a warm cozy abode.  We have catch and release mouse traps, which I check daily, in the garage and moth balls around the house and also in the garage.  

When I took this plant down to water, I noticed a recently placed thick nest of dead leaves.  

My pineapple sage seems to bloom later each year.  Of course, this year we had a scarcity of sunshine and many flowering plants suffered.  The hummingbirds love this deep trumpet flower so I hope the blooms open in time for them to get the nectar before they head to Central America.  

Thursday, October 1, 2020

 OMG!  I'm my parents!  I know they can see how I've become them because their energy, their aura is in the garden, in our woodworking, in the kitchen.  More and more I understand why they needed their quiet times when they just sat and read. No talking. No TV. No noise. Just the sound of silence allowing peace and calm..... serenity. 

Cliff is working with the fire department right now setting up scaffolding and stairs for tomorrow's funeral for one of their volunteers who died suddenly Monday.  The house is quiet.  At this age, it has a deeper meaning.

We still have two hummingbirds coming to the feeders. I think they're both females.  Usually the males arrive first in the spring and leave first in the fall. Also ,this is the first time I've seen red-breasted grosbeaks in the fall coming to our feeders.  Instead of the spring bright red-breast feathers, males in the fall display squash-orange colors.  I wonder if they brighten up when they land south.  We've had two pair feeding daily.  We'll miss our hummingbirds and  grosbeaks when they migrate south. 

Tonight is the Harvest full moon.

Fresh picked mint leaves in water set on the yoga deck for full moon tea.  Will bring it in as the sun  rises and I can be sure there are no bears watching me.  A neighbor reported a large bear sighting recently in our neighborhood.  Neighbors on the right had their bee hives torn up and our front garden bird feeder was sucked dry.   Animals are getting ready for fall and winter.

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

 Whew!  Here's hoping the  humid tropical energy is done and gone after it caused havoc to my body and joints during the six or seven weeks it lingered out in the gulf and ocean.  

Recently we moved the fire pit from where it's been setting for years up near the garage down the hill overlooking the garden.  Cliff added so many containers for my kitchen gardens that the the pit didn't work there anymore.

He's cleared away debris and leaves and eventually we'll have rock on the hill.  Digging into a mountain is nearly impossible so he leveled the pit as much as he could.

It's a start.  He took resting breaks between digging and placing rocks. I couldn't help place rocks because it would have caused hand pain hours later. 

Now that cooler weather has arrived, we can work outside more and putter at our projects.

It's almost time to plant my fall garlic for a late spring harvest.  It can't believe how quickly time flies.  

We added mushroom compost to the soil for the garlic.  Garlic will be planted in a week or two.

I've been working slowly on my Nona's old dresser for about three weeks.  I'd strip a couple of drawers at a time, sand them, and do steel wool with mineral oil clean up, sand again and clean the wood with a tack cloth before applying the stain.

Top of the dresser before and after.................

Two of the drawers.............

Finally finished after slowly hand sanding each section.  I took my time so the repetitive sanding and staining movements didn't started any inflammation.  The project became enjoyable and a wonderful connection to my ancestors. Nona lived in a small white house with her vegetable and flower gardens between her house and our back yard.  She would work her gardens then sat on her bench resting between gardening.  When the three of us children were little, Nona would open up the top drawer where she kept some dollar bills nestled in the front left corner, give us a dollar and in her broken English, tell us to go buy ice-cream......

Monday, September 14, 2020

 Evil hummingbirds misbehaving................

Keeping their eyes on each other before settling to drink.............

a female (left) and male (right)  
We've had some travelers from up northern stop at our feeders on their journey southward.  The travelers cause quite a ruckus.  When Cliff and I are sitting out on the back porch, the birds totally ignore us as they chase each other down through the center of the porch flying by our heads.  We only have about three more weeks of their entertainment before they return to their winter homes.  This  strange spring/summer with the pandemic and the bizarre wet weather with no sunny days was a blur in our memories. I'm already imagining  what I can do differently next March in the gardens.

Cliff had a hankering for "cottage pie."  Real shepherd's pie is made with cute little innocent lambies but Cliff scrambled hamburg for his cottage pie.  The internet said using hamburg was cottage pie, so it must be true.
Grating Kerry Gold cheddar cheese before it went into the oven.

Voila!!!!  He said it was very tasty.  I didn't have any.  It looked to heavy for my stomach.  These past six weeks of humid stormy days and tropical systems in the gulf and Atlantic Ocean have been difficult on my shoulders, wrists, hands, and fingers so I was thrilled when he happily made this recipe.  Now we're waiting for Hurricane Sally to travel our way bringing more tropical energy and rain.