Saturday, May 28, 2016

Lightening fast fiddle playing, banjo pickin', keeping time on the doghouse bass, mandolin, and guitar strumming was the first concert of the season in the open barn at the John Campbell Folk School last night.  We enjoyed Bluegrass music performed by four very talented locals from neighboring Culberson and Shoal Creek, NC, and Cherrylog and Dahlonega GA. 

Cliff helped me set up at the famers market this morning then rode his motorcycle out to a friend's house to play with towers, co-axes, and tangled wires.  Across from my tent was this sign made by a nine-year old boy who's at the market weekly with his mother.  Sometimes he's a cartoonist.  Other times he's selling painted rocks.  Today this was his schtick.
He told me he talked to some pretty strange people.  "Kids says the darndest things."

Unusual day today.  A large per cent of us have lived in Florida at some point so at the market one often hears vendors and visitors asking what part of Florida are you from?  This one woman, who was purchasing something from me, said she was in Murphy living in her friends' house for six months caring for the cats and the house while the friends were in CA. She was a retired art teacher from Florida.  Of course, I asked where.  Her reply was Pine Ridge High in Deltona.  I told her we moved from Deltona seven-and-a-half years ago.  Come to find out, Cliff was her MIS person for years at Pine Ridge.  Soon after that another woman was shopping at my tent and once again the conversation turned to what part of Florida are you from?  This couple is visiting here from Deltona and the husband lived in Enterprise all his life.  They are both anxious to retire and move to the western North Carolina area.  There seemed to be lots of connections and energy today floating around the market.  A young pregnant mother with her toddler in a sling resting on her hip asked if I might be interested in making the toddler slings.  She owns Studio 58, the yoga studio where I attended some evening yoga classes, and took an interest in my new yoga bags.  Very energetic day!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

I've sat down to blog for the last 5-6 days trying catch up on my blog but haven't completed one yet because the computer has been running so slowly that I get up, walk away before I  take a hammer to it.  Then my brain gets all scattered.  I loose focus and tackle another project, like go to the garden and pull weeds, do a fish emulsion fertilizing, pick more spinach, lettuce, and now Swiss chard, stand and plan where I can squeeze in some more seeds, and sometimes stand and just admire the towering sunflowers and yarrow.  Love these cool mountain mornings.   Chilly enough to run the heat when we first get up until the sun warms the house.  The past several mornings have been around 36 degrees with temperatures topping off around 70 by late afternoon.   I didn't set up at the market Saturday because winds gust of 20-30 mph were predicted and my aprons would have become colorful kites. 

Latest harvest from my morning walk to the garden.
Lettuce Merlot, Russian Red kale, and rhubarb.

                                    Lettuce and arugula.
 All the lettuces will be harvested this week.  They're about done.  Multiple bags of lettuce, spinach, and now  Swiss chard have taken over the fridge.  We eat a large salad at lunch and steamed or sauteed spinach with the evening meal.  Made a spinach quiche one night and Swiss chard, onion, spinach and cheese frittata last night.  Local strawberries are coming in to our fresh stands and farmers markets.  Bought two large baskets this week to make a strawberry/rhubarb dessert and cleaned, trimmed, and froze some for later eating and shakes.  Tonight I'll make New Bedford Portuguese kale soup.  Cliff needs some meat added to his garden greens before he starts hopping and twitching his nose. 

We've actually seen three hummingbirds at the same time.  I think we have two females and one male.  When I'm in the kitchen chopping rhubarb at the sink in view of the window feeder and Cliff is in his recliner watching the back porch feeder, we report to each other our sightings.  Isn't retirement wonderful!!!  It allows you to be an epicurean of life's pleasures.  The other day we talked about working part-time so we could have more spending money.  That fleeting idea was gone in an instant.
                                           from the kitchen window

Springtime decorates the countryside with tiny yellow buttercups, delicate ferns, wild daisies, and other eye-appealing "weeds" provided by Mother Nature.  Our subdivision blooms with these delightful wild flowers.  No need to cut them and bring them into the house because the delicate wild daisies, wild violets, and an assortment of other wild flora are in my view from the kitchen window.  Or so I thought.  Yesterday every wild flower, every blade of grass, up and down our country road was scalped down to the clay.  Dirt and dead leaves flew everywhere like a category one hurricane.  Luckily, I was able to sprint out with my scissors in hand and a vase to save the clump across the road. 

I just don't get the reason for destroying nature's beauty. 

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Making plans for a vacation, even just a little get-away, is enjoyable.  The vacation releases me from  the dilemma of preparing the next meal and Cliff, the clean-up of my messy cooking.  While on vacation, our biggest problem was which of the hundreds of restaurants in the Mount Pleasant/Charleston area should we hit.  When visiting the ocean, I want fresh seafood for lunch and dinner and weather permitting, to sit on a patio overlooking the water. 
 On the patio overlooking the inter-coastal on our first evening.  Temperature was beginning to cool down.

                                                    Shem Creek Bar & Grill.  Great seafood.
While walking around historic downtown Charleston we stopped at the Noisy Oyster for a fresh seafood lunch, walked again and stopped for ice-cream and rich creamy Italian gelato.  Another night we ate at Sticky Fingers BBQ which was across the street from our hotel.  Easy to get to for tired tourists.
Cliff sitting with his new friend, Waddy the frog, at the Charleston Tea Plantation, the only tea plantation in North America.  Other tea plantations are located in Asia, Africa, and South America.  The Charleston Tea Plantation sits on 127 acres on Wadmalaw Island.  We took the trolley tour through the plantation and toured the tea factory.  Tea grows on bushes that are harvested every few weeks during the growing season.  Pickers then walk between the hedges and by hand pull out the long weeds before the big green machine, which was custom-built by the owner, slowly trims the new leaf growth.  It then travels to the factory to be processed into black, green, white, or oolong.   Cliff was amazed by all the tea facts and remembers most of what the tour guide related during the 45-minute trolley ride and the 15-minute factory tour.  Avoid him at a party or function, because he is plethora of tea information ready to share. 

Also, on Wadmalaw Island nestled among the oaks is the Irvin-House Vineyards and Distillery.  The distillery is moving to North Charleston and the vineyard's new owners have changed its name to Deep Water Vineyard. 
This is Ida, Ida-Claire.  Ida roams the enclosed grounds and greets visitors as they walk through the vineyards.  She nudges and snuggles till you acknowledge her presence by petting and speaking to her.  Ida thinks she's a big dog.
I did the wine tasting, of course, while Cliff was served grape juice.  This was one of the most enjoyable wine tastings I've experienced.  The hostess told us how each wine differed while weaving in the history of the vineyard and Wadmalaw Island.  Muscadines are the only grapes that grow in the humid conditions of the Lowcountry.  

Sunday, May 1, 2016

We didn't set up at the farmers market Saturday as planned.  With thunderstorms lurking in the forecast, weary bodies that didn't move as quickly as needed to be set up by 9 AM, it was an easy decision to forgo the market. We arrived home from our week in Charleston late Friday afternoon to find there had been no rain all week and the garden in dire need of watering.  Despite the absence of rain, the weeds flourished.  Yellow tree pollen blanketed the porch and the outside furniture.  Saturday we did some garden chores, cleaned off the layers of pollen so more pollen could take its place.
We added more compost to the potatoes in the 4x4 and added more boards for height.
Fifteen more potatoes.  Wayne's Feed was out of the straw I needed to mulch around the hills so will pick some up when his delivery arrives this week.
The dreaded dastardly Colorado potato beetle.  The vile creature that took over my potatoes last June when we drove to Florida for Richard and Sarah's wedding has reared its ugly head again.  The striped beast becomes dormant during the winter only to taunt me in the spring when it smells potato greens.  The female slyly lays dozens of tiny orange eggs on the under-side of the potato leaf where she thinks I don't know what she's doing.  But this year, I'm up to her sneaky ways.  Today I searched  under all the leaves and found her hiding spots, snipped the leaf that held her eggs, and dropped it into a cup of soapy water, along with over a dozen adult beetles.  When I buy my straw from Wayne's Feed, I'll also purchase an insect spray with spinosad.  Spinosad is a relatively new insect killer that was discovered from soil in an abandoned rum distillery in 1982 and is safe to use.
Picked, washed, and stored three big bags of spinach and some rhubarb today.  We set up the two 5' long wire fences for tomato which I'll transplant tomorrow.