Sow. Snow. Sew.

IMG_7223We took one lazy day after our roadtrip and then headed outside. It felt like spring and we were itching to get to work.


Poplar catkins

We have been here almost a year now and have spent that time assessing the sun, wind, and drainage to plan the layout for our gardens.



We decided to move the raised vegetable beds that we installed when we moved in last May. That area–at the side of the house–will be our little orchard, with fruit trees and berries.IMG_7146 Our first project was to start a drainage ditch down one side. We will get the area ready to plant by the end of April. IMG_7202.jpg
The raised beds are moving to the area we cleared below the house. Once we remove some stumps, and finish burning brush, we will lay down the frames and finish moving the soil. We are putting in additional raised beds and will have regular beds for potatoes, corn, asparagus, strawberries, herbs, squash, and melons. Perhaps we’re too ambitious, but it’s so much fun.IMG_7178
Along with outside work, I started seedlings indoors. Lots and lots of seedlings. We are fortunate to have triple-paned southern-facing windows that act like passive solar powerhouses, generating enough heat on sunny winter days to warm the house. Because the windows act so much like a greenhouse, I decided to go without heat mat for germination and without supplemental grow lights. A risk, I know.


These water jugs as seed beds act like mini-greenhouses.

So far, I’ve been pleased. The kale germinated within 48 hours and all the seeds were up within a week.


Do you think we’re growing enough lettuce varieties?

Most of my seeds are from Fedco, a wonderful Maine co-op. They have by far the best germination rate of any I’ve ever used.  I have had no damping off (sometimes older seeds are more prone to it) except for in two little peat pots of a seed from a company other than Fedco. Interesting. My recently planted pepper plants will be the real germination test, though. They require good warmth to germinate, so we’ll see how they do without a heat mat.


Water-jug marigolds.

As the plants have been emerging, inside and out, the birdsongs have become increasingly competitive–me, me, pick me!  After I saw a male bluebird in full throat at the top of a maple down the street, George quickly put up bluebird and wren houses. I started pruning the lilacs and apples and then … snow.

IMG_7298.jpgLots of snow. About eight inches. It brought the wild turkeys, searching for windfall apples at the edge of the yard.


Turkey tracks are huge. My boot is in the lower left for comparison.

Then it got cold. The snow has lingered on. IMG_7326


The snow makes Zoes feisty.  She’s trying to kill her ball.

IMG_7302I’m not sure yet how much damage we will see to emerging buds and sprouts.


Poppies emerging before the snow.

Today we are housebound by a coat of ice and mizzle of freezing rain. IMG_7407.jpgOn the bright side, the snow and ice have given me time to finish sewing projects. In January, I was making great progress on a quilt for a granddaughter when my sewing machine started to act oddly. The motor belt seemed to be slipping–something it had never done before. The band was old, brittle, and cracked. I decided that it was time for a tune up anyway, so dropped off the machine at a local fabric store to be picked up by the local sewing machine repairman. His normal two-week turn around time stretched three because, on delivery day, the fabric store was closed due to heavy snow. Three weeks without my machine during prime sewing season. IMG_6556
Finally, the machine came home with a new belt, all greased and lubed, and, for the first few nights, smoothly humming away. The next afternoon, however, I sat down to sew and the new motor band started slipping a bit. I let it sit for a few hours, tried it again that night, and it was fine. But the next day, it started slipping badly. Really badly. Odd that it slipped during the day, but not at night. Then a light went off–actually a lot of light. The machine was sitting right in front in one of our greenhouse-like southern windows, awash in sunlight. That sunlight was HOT and the heat was expanding the band so much as to cause it to slip. Duh. Problem solved.

The quilt is finished and ready to be shipped out west. My quilting style is best described as low-stress or wabi sabi. No seam is too crooked, no corner too awry. I put it together, hope it will come out approximately square , and enjoy the process. A real quilter would roll her eyes and tut disapprovingly. But it works for me.


An exuberant, one-of-a-kind quilt for an exuberant, one-of-a-kind granddaughter.  This quilt was made of about 60 different fabrics that my daughter collected when they lived in Okinawa and traveled through Asia and Australia.  

While the machine was away, I worked on the spinning wheel. When I treadled the wheel without spinning any yarn, all moved sweetly along. But when I started spinning yarn, the drive band tended to fall off the wheel. Eventually I realized that the mother-of-all (wonderful name) was wobbling back and forth when I put tension on the yarn, causing the band to jump off the wheel tracks. I shimmed it up and all went smoothly. My lovely old wheel is now spinning.


The white shim steadies the mother-of-all crossbar. The mother-of-all holds the end supports, called the maidens, the u-shaped flyer and the bobbin of spun yarn.

Spring goes on.


Our neighbor uses old-style buckets for gathering maple sap. The cold spell keeps the sap flowing. The piece of scraggly wood in the hole in this tree looks like an old man’s face.


Road Zombies

IMG_7023.jpgWe are home after a whirlwind drive to Florida to visit my 92 year-old-mother.  For various reasons, it had to be a quick trip.  But we were able to sneak in two nights to enjoy time (and some awesome meals) with our son and daughter-in-law in Georgia.  The drive was strictly a means to get down south and back as quickly as possible–no dilly-dallying for sightseeing or exploring.  In other words, interstate almost the entire way. IMG_6791

It’s a drive we’ve taken many times before.  When I was in college, a friend and I got a ride with a couple in a Volkswagon van who drove straight through–24 hours from Massachusetts to Florida.  They dropped us off in Daytona Beach and we dove into the ocean fully clothed–it felt so good.  On another memorable trip, when our kids were young and both sets of grandparents lived in Florida, we headed there for Christmas.  An unexpected snowstorm closed the interstate in Georgia just as we were coming through.  Fortunately, we snagged a hotel room at an interstate exit.  Others were not so lucky and had to bed down in the lobby.  The hotel’s Chinese restaurant–the only food option–was absolutely overwhelmed.  It took several hours to get dinner, but there was that wonderful festive atmosphere that often arises among strangers stranded together in travel.   IMG_6813

Nothing so exciting happened on this trip.  We took I-95 through New York City, the industrial ugliness of North Jersey, and then Baltimore and the Washington DC Beltway.  IMG_6818Not very pretty.  Bridges, tunnels, and billboards.IMG_6768IMG_6824.jpg


In south Georgia, billboards for “adult entertainment” were interspersed with billboards warning of impending eternal damnation.


The Walking Dead series is filmed in Georgia and, fittingly, a whole series of religious billboards there featured zombies.

Sandpaper eyes, antsy legs, sore bum, hour after hour of road, road, road.  We did our best to avoid traffic by hitting the cities on weekends.  But there was always traffic and more traffic, sometimes jammed and creeping along for no discernible reason.


The brave souls ahead of us drove their Class A RV through I-95 in the Bronx.

We had a slice of gorgeous weather in Florida and watched the installation of a new dock in front of my mother’s house.


The metal tube was used to pound in the dock pilings.

The sunsets, as usual, were stunning.



Since her hip surgery last fall, my mother doesn’t walk as far as she used to.

IMG_6932Even so, we found plenty to look at in her yard and on a walk around her neighborhood.



This gargantuan tree was in full bloom and covered with birds sipping nectar.  I don’t know what kind it is and the owner didn’t either.  Does anyone know?  Update:  It’s a Bombax or Kapok tree.


IMG_7036IMG_7010IMG_6950IMG_7041IMG_7004IMG_7046Then, back in the truck, for three more long days of driving.


We enjoyed a lovely misty morning during our brief time on back roads in Georgia.


Georgia pecan groves


New York’s George Washington Bridge.


A view of the New York City skyline from the bridge. I shot this so fast, I had no idea there was a bike rider passing by.

I used to enjoy these road trips to Florida.  Not so much anymore.  We couldn’t wait to get home.IMG_7140