Drying Hydrangeas

“What are you doing?” asked Jabberwocky.  “You just get these to bloom and then, all of a sudden, you are cutting them down!  You are a hazard to all living things!”

Jabberwocky!  I am NOT a hazard to all living things.  I’m cutting down the hydrangeas to dry and preserve them.  You know, for Christmas trees!

“Is that all you ever think about?”

No, not all.  But I like to harvest the blooms when they are just right to dry and use them as filler in Christmas trees.  I hardly call that a ‘hazard to all living things’!

Besides, just the other day I gave a squirrel a shower!  He was close to the deck and when I squirted him, he turned around and enjoyed it.  I guess that’s because the temperatures are so high here.  Today, 107!

Anyway, here are some photos of hydrangeas drying:

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Before the flowers bloom, they are green.  Then they turn white, and finally they turn green (almost a lime green) again.  It is at that time that they can be successfully harvested and dried.  If they are not yet the right shade of green, they will wither and will not dry properly.  Try cutting one and see how it does for a couple of days.  If it dries well, then proceed.  Cut the stems as long as you can and strip off the leaves carefully so that you do not break the stems. 

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The one on the right, above, got a little bit brown before I picked it.  (They will turn brown.  They can be left on the bush, of course, and some people do that.)  They will take a few days to dry.  You can hang them upside down in a dry area, if you have room, but I have found they dry almost as well in vases (no water, of course).  Try not to bunch them.  They will get stuck together if you do that.

Later, if you so choose, you can spray paint them any color you like.  Use them for wreaths or dried arrangements or, as I like to do, as filler in Christmas trees.  These will last quite a long time—years, in fact, if they are carefully stored!

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A Moment (a very short story)

It was a week away from the 4th of July and hot.  Very hot.  As hot as it had been in 1952, on that very day, but not that hot again until today.   She had a friend who would say, “It is hot!” but it sounded like “hut” when her friend said the word.  She didn’t know what made her think of that, not having heard the phrase for many years now, but she thought of it.

She sat in the shade, but still it was hot.  She wanted to know, to feel, to understand what ‘hot’ really meant and to remember it.  She could feel the pores in her skin opening in the heat, almost like a sauna bath, she thought, it’s that hot.  The pores on her face, her arms, they were heating up and absorbing the heat.  And so she sat for a while.  The fan above, in the gazebo, didn’t do anything but blow hot air around, there was no relief from the slight breeze.  She noticed that one of the purple leaves on a plant in the sun had curled into a tube and the sun, shining on it, caused it to appear white, to glow from within.  Funny, she thought, that the sun and the light and the heat could do that.  Against the rest of the purple foliage, that leaf glowed white.  She wanted to remember that.  She wondered if she could paint it sometime.

She had many things she wanted to do, but to observe life seemed paramount at the moment, so that is what she did.  She’d been reading Hemingway, one of his books, “The Moveable Feast” and she liked it.  She wasn’t a fast reader, wanting to absorb all of the words and their meanings.  She loved the descriptions of life in Paris in the early 1920’s of which he wrote, all the romantic people she’d heard about over the years, how they lived, what they thought, where they walked, what delighted and upset them.  She liked to read.  But she didn’t read books often.  This because reading made her want to write herself, but first to observe what life was and how it unfolded.  When one did that, one didn’t have time for the other things in life.  She wanted to do it all.  All of it.  She didn’t want to waste a moment.

The dog suddenly barked and scampered down the steps into the yard.  The moment was past, and she walked down the deck, calling the dog to come and go in with her to the house.

And she sat down and wrote this.

Henri 3

It seems even the cats are concerned………about themselves, of course.  Henri 3 seems a bit, how shall I put this?…….self-involved? 

Enjoy!

Want more?  Well, here are 1 and 2……….

Chaos and Butterflies

I am not a sage, although I am old (in relative terms—if you consider 110 old, that is).  I don’t have much wisdom as I have just muddled through life like most of us, hopping from one crises to another, from one holiday to anticipating the next, from one stage in my life to the following.

Now I have arrived in the “Golden Years” although I don’t know why anybody would call them that.  Most of us don’t have a lot of gold and even if we did, a while back, it’s pretty much either gone or spoken for or we’re too scared to do anything but save it somewhere safe—you know, just in case. 

In case of what?

Any number of crises, emergencies, disasters happen without warning, sneak up on one, and BOOM! there you are in the middle of one.  They can be personal, or health, or relatives, or habitat—take the Great Flood of 2010 here in Nashville for example.

Thumper, my bunny friend (also known as Flower—she has aliases, you know—we all do when we are in our ‘golden years’) went through the Great Flood.  That is to say her home flooded.  Badly.  It has taken quite a while to recover, not just physically and financially, but also emotionally.

The Great Flood made our neighborhood an island for a while.  The power went out, so we didn’t even know there WAS a Great Flood.  Until some people were being rescued by boat, that is……….not very far from here.  Events like this change one’s perspective, and there is the understatement of the year!

If you have not heard about it, you can watch a video here (it will direct you to the Youtube connection): 

(Yes, I am extremely proud of Nashville.)

At any rate, I selected that particular crises to make the point that no matter how prepared one thinks one is, one has no control over what might happen next.  There is little or no way to predict, accurately, and because of that we human beings can’t control much.  We try, try, and try again, but we can’t.  It is called The Butterfly Effect.

The Butterfly Effect is the root cause of Chaos Theory.

I always thought that was too difficult to understand, having been discovered after I’d long since left formal education.  But, it isn’t.  The premise of it is that one thing impacts another, and the results we see today may have been set in motion eons ago, way before anyone could possibly have been aware that one little action might cause such monumental effects.  Indeed, the originating event (motion) likely had no intent whatsoever.  An inevitable chain reaction becomes cumulative until the point at which things occur dramatically.

Here is the irony of that statement……..there isn’t any ‘point at which things occur dramatically’—in reality those things were going to occur from the outset, it was just not realized.  There is really no ‘tipping point.’   It is as though events were going uphill until they suddenly and without warning went down—and fast, like rolling a ball up a pointed slope until it balances on the tip.  That ball is going to go down the slope—that is for certain—and anything, any little thing (a breath!) can be the thing which causes the ball to go down.  There is no way to prevent it, and there is no way to circumvent it.  And there really is no ‘tipping point’—the outcome was inevitable from the very beginning.

Which, of course, can lead one to all kinds of topics from philosophy to religion to finance and what to have for dinner tonight?  (You can tell I take this quite seriously if I’m talking about food.)  As long as one understands that one has no control (well, maybe you do about dinner)—that human beings really have little to no control over global events (yes, even stock markets, behavior of political groups and behavior of individuals—if you fix chicken, will the family really LIKE it and eat it?), one can recognize that adaptability may well be the very best skill to develop.  (I have a lot of chicken recipes, so consider myself fairly adaptable.)  (Yes, I’m making light of a very serious topic.)

So, there!  I learned something today.  If you’d like to watch a pretty good video about this very topic, and learn something too, go here:

There seem to be several, ongoing 9-10 minute or so videos, which are all part of the same documentary.

But be forewarned, it is NOT going to be uplifting.  Rather, I think, it reinforces my suggestion that one become adaptable, even at 110. If you are younger, you are going to have to be even MORE adaptable—you have longer to live, likely!  Expect the unexpected.

And remember, that smile you gave to someone today may REALLY change the world.  Hard to imagine, but then, you never know.

In the comments section, under the video,  there is ongoing speculation/discussion about ‘determinant systems’ and ‘chaotic systems’.  I am not intelligent enough to discuss these, but it seems to me this comment made sense?

“If a determinant system can produce chaos, how is it determinant?  Serious question.”

Just some things to think about.  (Besides, I’ve learned that I can copy and paste videos onto my blog!  This is, of course, because I am 110 and still learning how this stuff works.)

I’ll post something fun and silly later this week.  I promise.  Meanwhile, since the temperatures are due to rise to the 100’s for the next few days, this ought to keep you busy in front of the computer and inside, where hopefully it is cool. 

Oh, and discuss amongst yourselves.  I gave you a topic! 

 

V.I.P. Status!

Yes, indeed, WE HAVE ARRIVED! 

We arrived at the Corner Pub, anyway, along with Thumper and her spouse, Vanna and her spouse, me and my spouse (TMWLH), Sosew and her spouse, and Girlfriend, sans spouse (who sadly had to work). 

“Don’t the spouses have names?  I mean, besides TMWLH and that’s not really a name, now is it?  It’s a title! Maybe they have ideas?” said Jabberwocky.

Yes, you are right, Jabber—what to call them indeed?

“And why was Girlfriend’s spouse sad about working?”

No! No!  He wasn’t.  He had an appointment scheduled.  We were sad he could not join us!

Well, that’s not the point of this post.  The point is that we all, now, have V.I.P. status at the Corner Pub.  We are all very important personages!  How about that!

“I don’t know.  You don’t seem very important to me, in the whole scheme of the world, you know, so don’t let it go to your head.”

Yes, you are right, of course.  I shall try to hold it down a bit.

We girls had just watched a movie, “Sweet Land” and then met up with our spouses (whatever they wish to be called) for dinner.  Thumper (who might wish to be called “Flower”, so her name may be changed here.  Either way, she is a bunny from Bambi—I think) told us about the V.I.P. status, which she already had acquired.  So we did not wish to be outdone and asked for the same.  Our wish was granted! 

A V.I.P. card records purchases, and once it reaches $100 in sales recorded, one gets $5 off the next meal.  Since “Meatloaf Mondays” are becoming a regular thing, more or less, for some of us, we figure it won’t take ALL that long to get to the $100.  Anyway, it really is better than a kick in the seat of the pants, isn’t it?  Besides, we all LOVE the meatloaf, so there you have it! 

And, below, Vanna and Jabberwocky proudly display their new status!

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“Whew!  Doesn’t take much to make you happy, does it?”

No, doesn’t!

 

Brocanting Brigade

“Good grief, these Saturday adventures sure do come around fast!” observed Jabberwocky.  “I suppose you found a lot of treasures AGAIN, right?”

Yes, we did, as always.  We were out in full force today, with the full complement of  the brigade—Sosew, Girlfriend, Cupcake, Thumper, Vanna, and Jabberwocky!  And, we once again ran into Serious Leigh and Baker who were out scouring for treasures, too.  They went in one direction, though, and we in the other, so our paths did not cross again.

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“Hey!  That’s Girlfriend!  Got ANOTHER new shirt on?  Wow!” commented Jabberwocky.  “I suppose she found that one, too, at a sale.” 

In a word, yes.  And she wore it too, not wanting to have her photo taken once again in the purple shirt.  Becoming quite a clothes horse, she is………..

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Thumper and Sosew do their best to keep Girlfriend away from the lamps for which she has an addiction.  

“Wait a minute!  What’s in the background on the right?” inquired Jabberwocky.  “Is that what I THINK it is…….good grief, where did you GO yard sailing?”

Well, they are unaware of the giant bear behind them.  Otherwise, I suppose they would not be so nonchalant about shopping.  I didn’t tell them, either.  Hee hee…….

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Vanna is the clothes consultant for us—here she is viewing selections and making suggestions.

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Cupcake selects yet another very cute skirt.  She says she is now the envy of everyone as she has been wearing her ‘new’ and unique skirts and getting lots of compliments.  Her response, when asked, is “$1.  At a sale.”  And she literally picks up her skirt and leaves the room!  What an attitude!   This may alienate her from ‘normal’ people, I don’t know.  We are not normal.

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A delightful setting for a yard sale this morning!

Uh oh…….Girlfriend is at it again………

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Not to mention this!  (Okay, I won’t mention it.)

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(She declared that though it was the right size, it was the wrong color.  Girlfriend does not ‘do’ yellow.  We, as fashionistas, must be very careful in our wardrobe selections.)

And then there is price negotiation!  Well, let me tell you that Vanna really drives a hard bargain!  Ummmmmm, well, even with quarters, which is what this vase and the flowers cost, and she had a difficult time letting that quarter go.  Here she explains the negotiations (with herself, I think):

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Obviously, very happy with the outcome (below):

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We took a break at Sonic.  Cupcake had interesting and profound information, but I forget what it was……..

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And then, Vanna’s daughter came to pick her up. 

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Not having had enough of going to sales, Vanna and daughter and Thumper decided to head off to the flea market and to Habitat Stores.  I understand.  It can be habit forming.  (Also Vanna’s daughter has just purchased her first home, so it will require treasures, too.  If it was not that, I’m sure they could find some excuse.  The rest of us sure could!)

Until next week, when the Brocanting Brigade once again roams in search of the find of the century! we wish YOU much luck and great finds! Smile

My Daughter is a Rock Star

“Which daughter is a rock star?  How’d she get to be one?  What in the world are you talking about now?” asked Jabberwocky.

Daughter recently celebrated a birthday and she and her friend went to see “Rock of Ages”, a new movie which celebrates songs from the 1980’s.  And, yes!  She’s a rock star!

See here!

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My daughter, the Coupon Queen, is on the right!  Below, she does her solo act.

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“It looks like her…….when did she get into show business?”

Oh, Jabber, she hasn’t, of course.  It was a set in the lobby of the theater.  GIRLS JUST WANT TO HAVE FUN, you know!

Here is what she really looks like in real life:

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And a picture of her daughter, my Granddaughter, who is now a teacher:

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And, Mother/Daughter:

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We met for lunch yesterday.  As I said, no matter what one’s age, GIRLS JUST WANT TO HAVE FUN!

A Recipe from Danny!

One of the most fun things about blogging is who reads one’s blogs.  Some readers hit ‘like’ at the end of a post and I’m able to find their blogs (if they have one), read them, and sometimes leave a comment on their blog, too.

Danny, a food blogger, posted this delicious salmon recipe and I decided to make it last night.  Friends were coming to dinner and I had a busy day.  This recipe was quick and easy and delicious, perfect for a delicious dinner with friends!

We had:  salmon with a potato and chive crust on top, roasted vegetables, and twice baked potatoes, a salad, crusty bread and fresh blueberries (just picked the other day!) with organic Greek yogurt.  It was a wonderful and filling meal.

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I will give you a link to Danny’s website (link below) and the recipe for the salmon.  All of the above was done in the oven in rather short order.  It was over 94 degrees outside yesterday, so I did not feel like grilling out.

Here is the salad:

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I make this quite a bit—Romaine lettuce, cherry tomatoes, bleu cheese crumbles, toasted pecans, Craisins.  Add your favorite dressing.

I did not get a picture of the blueberries, but they were good, too!

Danny’s website and the recipe are here:

http://dannyskitchen.me/2012/06/20/potato-chive-crusted-salmon/

It took all of about 10 minutes to mix up the topping for the salmon, and about 15 minutes to cook it.  I bought wild salmon which looked very good and baked a large piece.  We have leftovers for today, too!

ENJOY!  THANK YOU DANNY!

Bernie’s Home Tour

There were only four of us this morning, so Bernie honored us with a personal tour of his home!

Once again, here is Bernie’s house:

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Off to the right side is his outdoor workout area, complete with workout equipment!  As if he doesn’t get enough workout farming!

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And here is a close up of Drake:

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He is the sweetest dog!  But, I had a hard time getting him to sit still for a photograph.

And this is Annie, also a very docile dog, below:

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(Annie and Drake both confided in me—they said that living here was dog heaven!)

Bernie has built a wood-fired sauna on his property, close to the house.  In the winter months, especially, he will alternate taking a sauna and bathing in the cool water of the creek.  He reported that one gets very toasty warm that way, so he likes to do that before going to bed!

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The creek:

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How lovely and idyllic is this?

On his sun porch, a collection of deer skulls.

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Having extensive education, both formal and practical, Bernie subscribes to many Indian methods.   Professionally, he is an epidemiologist and has worked and consulted with many governmental and private organizations over the years.  His home reflects much of his experiences.

Kitchen cabinets, below

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Living room, below–

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Below, a three-dimensional carving done by one of his father’s patients (his father was a psychiatrist).  The carving is a likeness of his father.  It is quite unique.

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He has a photo of the woman who was his neighbor for many years.  She lived down the road from him, in a very small home, and was a quilter.  She befriended Bernie, years ago, and he speaks so fondly of her.  She died just before she reached age 99.

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And, another photo of my friend, Bernie, after he’s been picking blueberries and is looking through a folder to show us a photo of his beautiful niece, a champion surfer!

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Thank you Bernie.  We had a lovely morning!

Bernie’s Organic Garden

Bernie has lived in one spot for 43 years.  His garden is now 42 years old, organic, and quite unusual.  We visited this morning, so let me show you……….

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This is Bernie’s home which is located not very far from his garden and also close to a stream which runs in front of his house—a creek.

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His shed holds tools for organic farming—and the outside holds his old boots in which several birds have built nests.  Isn’t it interesting?

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Here is the bridge which crosses the creek, located in front of his house.

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Bernie’s garden is narrow and long, with alternating rows of vegetables and pathways.

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He alternates, every year, which rows will be planted with those which are pathways.  This has ensured, over 42 years, that the soil is not depleted and that the same soil is not used every single year to grow vegetables.  He has a unique method he’s developed for organic gardening and has given speeches and tours to many agricultural groups.

The garden vegetables are enabled to grow UPWARDS and he intertwines the vines with netting he has strung over the arches.  When the season is really producing, he can walk under the vegetables and pick them from above.

Some views of his garden:

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Beets, just finishing their productive season (above) and first year asparagus below.  We tasted the asparagus—it was so delicious that we all agreed we could eat it uncooked.  I had never had asparagus that tasty and tender before.  It is really in the third year that asparagus begins production, so it will be a couple of years before Bernie has much to harvest.

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Squash above—and the line you see 3/4 of the way down the picture is a rope which will hold up any vines growing.

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Squash is beginning to grow!

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Broccoli (end of its productive period)

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Tomato vines will be held off the ground by interweaving on the ropes strung between arches.

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Tomatoes are beginning to ‘come on’ (grow)!

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His lettuce is at the end of its spring growing season.  These few left will be laid out on the path to provide organic fertilizer.  Next year, the path will be put into garden vegetables and the present rows of vegetables will be paths.

And, as Bernie said, “The best fertilizer is the farmer’s feet!”  As he walks through the garden paths, he literally fertilizes next year’s beds!

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Onions!

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Basil, lots of different types of basil.

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Corn!  Bernie reports he has a neighbor—a raccoon—who likes to eat his tender, new corn about one day before he is able to pick it.  The raccoon neatly stacks the cobs in a pile (isn’t that thoughtful?) and leaves them for Bernie to find!  So, the garden will shortly be electrified to discourage Mr. Raccoon’s nightly feasts!

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The final head of cabbage for this spring.  Soon, all these areas will be replanted with summer vegetables.

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An onion, flowering—isn’t it lovely?

Bernie will gladly show you his garden if you like when you are finished picking blueberries.  He is an expert organic farmer, and he has developed a unique method of efficiently and effectively growing many vegetables in a relatively small expanse of garden area.  He will sell you vegetables, too, and that depends upon what is producing at any particular point in time.  If you go, be sure to ask!

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