Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Heirloom Flowers Are Magical

I was overjoyed to see blossoms on this clematis this year, mainly because it's a pretty special one. It's not an exceptional color, or even a very profuse bloomer, but it was John's grandmother's. By my calculations that makes the vine about 90 years old.

I've moved it three times in the fifteen years that I've had it, but I think I've finally found the perfect location. It has started to bloom and grow fairly well since the last move, and after seeing the flowers this year, it's staying put.

I was concerned because a lot of it died last winter and I had to carefully remove quite a bit this spring, but after some new mulch, a bit of tender loving care, and encouragement, I've been rewarded with more flowers than it's ever had before.

The flowers start out a deep shade of purple when they first open, gradually fading to a slightly lighter shade of lavender. Even after the flowers begin to look a bit bedraggled, I still love the seed heads. They remind me of little exploding fireworks!

Thanks to Mom-mom for her heirloom clematis, still providing magic even after 90 years. I think of her and her green thumb every time I look at it.

Monday, July 29, 2019

Sometimes Monday ...

... is a day for seeing clearly and in a new way, at least I hope that will be the case after the new windows are installed. We're having most of the windows in the MD house replaced, so I have high hopes for being able to actually open them (which the majority of the old ones don't do). Something has been mentioned about them tipping inwards for easy cleaning, but let's just say I won't be in a big hurry to test that feature.

For what it cost to replace just nine windows, I think they should be self-cleaning!

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Three on Thursday

Joining Carole and friends for Three on Thursday, today with Three Things I Did Not Know (But Found Out This Week).

I had no idea that coneflowers came in a white variety. I took a walk to the library and liquor store and while taking a short cut around the middle school, I came upon this patch of black-eyed-susans and white coneflowers. I think I like them even better than the purple variety.

I also didn't know that bed steps would be so readily available. When Raymour & Flanigan assembled one of our beds, they set it up so the mattress was at the highest level. I struggle to get in every night, feeling like I have to take a running leap. I thought about maybe getting a set of bed steps, but hadn't even looked. On Sunday I went to an estate sale just down the street, and when I walked into the bedrooms upstairs, there were three different sets of bed steps! Two of them were sold, but the third ones are now helping me step daintily into bed. It was like a gift from the universe, and I only paid $5.00 for them along with a bunch of baking pans.

Lastly, I never suspected that Republicans (and Democrats, too, if I'm honest) liked to hear themselves talk so much. <Insert uproarious laughter here.> Just kidding! If there is one thing I do know, it is that most politicians* of all persuasions are enamored of what they have to say, and think that we are, too.
*I'm sure that this description does not extend to Carole!

Did you find out anything new this week? 

Head on over to Carole's for more Three on Thursday thoughts.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Unraveled Wednesday

Joining Kat and friends for Unraveled Wednesday, with a sad tale of some careless and accidental unraveling. 

I did block my John Deere Hitchhiker and happily got ready to take some pictures. I had cleverly (or so I thought) left the tails on so I could tie it to the ivy and get some full-length photos. I took a few, but then it happened ... the yellow tail on the cast-on end broke, right next to the two beginning stitches. I gasped, said something like "gosh darn it" (stronger language may have uttered), and hurried to untie it and see what I could do. 

I put a safety pin through the two cast-on stitches, rescued the broken piece of yellow yarn from the clutches of the ivy and untied the green end. Then I put it away to deal with when I was feeling calmer. I couldn't bring myself to take any photos of the tragedy.

I did fix it to the best of my ability over the weekend, but I think it will still require a bit more careful surgery so it doesn't unravel when it's worn. Since I knit this for Ryan, I really didn't want to gift him with something that would fall apart the first time he wore it. 

But luckily, I had purchased two of these John Deere sock blanks, so I decided to use the second one and re-knit Ryan's Hitchhiker. I was surprised to unroll the second blank and see that it had been painted in the opposite direction so it unravels from the green end. I will be much more careful with this one (absolutely no tying it in the ivy or suspending the weight of the project from a strand of yarn!) and will use a bit of the yellow yarn when I get to the end to perform a more thorough fix on the first one.

So all's well that ends well. If there is a lesson to be learned, it just might be to always buy extra yarn!

I'm about halfway through Where the Crawdads Sing and plodding along with Middlemarch. They make good companions for re-knitting. It's like deja vu all over again!

What are you making and reading this week?

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Sometimes Tuesday ...

... is a day for both anticipation and patience!

I have bread and mayo at the ready for my first delicious tomato sandwich of the season!

Monday, July 22, 2019

Beat the Heat

It was pretty warm here in Elkton this past weekend (just like it was for so many others). 

We have central air here, but after days and days of hot, humid weather, I was ready to leave the air conditioning and do something fun. So what did I do?

One delicious thing we did was head to UDairy Creamery for dinner. It's an ice cream shop that makes and sells ice cream from the milk of the cows on the farm at the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Delaware. That's a scoop of First State Cobbler, peach ice cream with a blueberry swirl and cinnamon crumble pieces. If you're anywhere near the University of Delaware campus, I highly recommend that you stop in for a treat.

I also visited the Elkton library, where I found some interesting sights. I patted the brass lion on the nose like so many others have. His paws look a bit out of perspective to me, but I do like his smile.

Does anyone remember Peter Max and his pop art from the 60s? I love these chairs because the upholstery looks like something he would have designed. Pretty wild for a library!

I was lucky enough to find a good book that had just been returned, which provided several chapters of pleasant reading once I was back home in the air conditioning. 

And lastly, these two "old" guys cracked me up. They had a loud conversation about how when you get old you just can't take the heat like you used to. The guy on the right is only 61, but he was concerned because he was able to put a roof on last year when the temperature was in the low 90s, but he almost fell off a ladder on Friday when the temperature was only 95. The guy on the left is 72 and said that his doctor told him that senior citizens didn't do well in temperatures above 90, but he was still working outdoors, so he guessed he wasn't a senior citizen just yet. They argued, got louder and funnier for a good 10 minutes, and provided me with plenty of entertainment. 

Hopefully it's cooler where you are today. We're only supposed to reach 88 degrees today with thunderstorms, so that might even feel downright comfortable.

Friday, July 19, 2019

Flowers on Friday

I thought it would be nice to plant a few sunflowers around the perimeter of the garden. The flowers are enjoyable, and I really like having the seed heads for the birds in the fall. Because there are so many different types of sunflowers, I read the seed packet carefully (or so I thought) and chose a dwarf variety that grew to about four feet tall.

 I think I misread.
The flowers are pretty, but these have shot up to eight or even ten feet tall. 

The petals are different shades of red and yellow. I would cut a few, but I can't reach them! I haven't seen any sign of seed heads yet, so I don't know if they will show up later or not. I think I will need a saw to cut them down in the fall because the stems are quite woody and thick. 

It's kind of nice to go out in the back yard and see the sunflowers towering over everything, even if they aren't what I thought I was planting. I guess flowers are magical!

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Three on Thursday

Joining Carole and friends for Three on Thursday, today with something that's been occupying me in the kitchen this week. Here, for your dining pleasure, are three ways to use zucchini.

Stuffed Zucchini

This used up two gigantic zucchini and fed both us and the neighbors. 

Zucchini marinara

This isn't even really a recipe, just zucchini sliced thin, mixed with spaghetti sauce, whatever cheese you have on hand, and some Italian seasoning, then covered and baked or microwaved until the zucchini is soft. We've been eating it every night for the past two weeks.

Zucchini Cake

I had to sample it because it's a new recipe to me, and it's deliciously moist and dense. I only used half the sugar because that's all I had, and substituted applesauce for oil. I rarely make cake any more because it's just the two of us, but this recipe used a lot of grated zucchini. A cake made with three cups of a vegetable has to be healthy, right? :-)

Head on over to Carole's for more Three on Thursday thoughts.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Unraveled Wednesday

Joining Kat and friends for Unraveled Wednesday. The John Deere Hitchhiker is soaking and getting ready to be blocked, and I've cast on with the new blank. 

I'm only 11 teeth in, but of course I'm already anxious to see some color change. I think it will be a little while. :-)

Reading proceeds, at a slow and leisurely pace as I continue to listen to Middlemarch. I finished The Long Call and Turtles All the Way Down this week, and found both of them enjoyable. Middlemarch, a refreshing cocktail, and knitting make it easy to relax and take it easy during these hot summer days.

What are you making and reading this week?

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Book Talk

On Sunday night I happened to be watching 60 Minutes, and one of the segments was an interview with the author John Green. I was only slightly familiar with him as an author, and didn't know anything about him as a person, so I paid attention. I'm glad I did, because I learned a few things.

John Green is a YA author, probably most well known for The Fault in Our Stars. I knew that he wrote mainly for teenagers, but being decades beyond my own teenage years, I think I tended to dismiss him, or think of his books as somehow "less than" the literary fiction or nonfiction I favor. I'm ashamed to admit that, because while I might be far too old for YA, he is writing books that reach a whole generation of readers, and in turn, helping them to ask and possibly begin to answer the big questions of life.

He doesn't dismiss young adults, but thinks that even if they haven't had experiences with death, suicide, cancer, and mental illness (things he writes about), the feelings that these traumas engender are universal. And he knows what he's writing about, as he deals with anxiety and OCD every day.

I have a really rich, fulfilling life. I also have a pretty serious chronic mental health problem. And those aren't mutually exclusive. And the truth is that lots of people have chronic mental health problems, and still have good lives.

When I worked in elementary and middle school libraries, the librarians occasionally gave book talks. They shared a little about the book under discussion, spoke about the author, and always ended with a bit of suspense to keep the students wondering. Books that had been book talked always had a long queue of borrowers, and I can understand why. Sixty Minutes basically book talked another of Green's books, Turtles All the Way Down, and I felt compelled to read it. I started it last night, but I was surprised to find out from goodreads that I had read it two years ago. I'm going to finish my re-read because I didn't remember that I had read it, so I certainly don't remember how it ends. 

I'm still too old for YA, but I can see that books that reach many different and varied readers, all of them in different places, are a good thing. They are definitely not less than, especially if they can help readers ask some questions, answer some questions, and better understand mental health. I think I will always pay attention to book talks, and might even learn a thing or two.

Monday, July 15, 2019

It's a Jungle Out There

John is a gardener who believes in using every last inch of space ... and then some. It's really his garden; I just start the seeds, help plant and pick, and deal with all of the produce. :-) I did mention to him when we planted these tomatoes that I thought they were a bit close to each other. Then I said it again (and again), suggesting that we really did need to thin the tomato plants, but there was no convincing him.

So I hereby state unconditionally that any tomatoes I can't see or reach are not my responsibility.

There are about 20 tomato plants in there, but I can only get to a very few on the outer edge There is really no walkway between the Brussels sprouts, the overgrown zucchini, cucumbers, melons, and the tomatoes.

I can see many, many green tomatoes on just a few plants around the perimeter, and when these begin to ripen we will be inundated. John recently bought a new truck, and it's a good thing because we will need to fill the bed with all the extra tomatoes so he can give them away at work.

It really is a jungle out there! Any bets on whether I can manage not to say I told you so?

Friday, July 12, 2019

On My Way ...

... to becoming a regular at C3ntral Tavern in Elkton! Ryan helped me find this place when he was here visiting, and after we went three times in four days, I vowed that I would continue to frequent it. I haven't been here in two weeks because I was in NJ, but since I got all my mowing/weeding/garden tasks completed this week, I decided that I deserved a treat yesterday. We only bring one car down here when we come to Elkton and since John uses it to go to work, and I rarely plan ahead, I walked. It was 93 degrees and humid, but I knew I would recover nicely in the air conditioning with a cold drink.

And I did, with a vodka and tonic with lots of limes, just like I like them. While I cooled off, I decided what I wanted to eat. I was tempted to try something new, but decided to go with my favorite (so far) buffalo chicken egg rolls.

They were perfect and I was in heaven for the next hour. Good food, good drink, reading a good book, the only thing missing was good company in the form of Ryan (but I texted him to let him know he was missed).

 Eventually my glass was empty, my leftover egg rolls were boxed up, and it was time to walk back.

The sky looked a little threatening, but I decided to start the 20 minute walk home. About five minutes in, it started to sprinkle, but the rain just dropped the temperature a few degrees and it wasn't unpleasant at all.

After about ten minutes, the sprinkle turned into a full-fledged thunderstorm. I didn't have much choice, so I just kept walking. I did see an interesting sight along the way, and wondered about the other shoe and the story behind this.

By the time I got back, it was a deluge and I was soaked.

I changed my clothes, threw them in the washer, mopped the kitchen floor and everywhere else I had dripped, and was soon back to normal. Note to self: bring an umbrella to Elkton and check the weather before my visit next week. I enjoyed myself, didn't melt in the rain, and maybe someday the waitress/owner will recognize me and say "Welcome back" or "Good to see you again". Then I'll really count myself as a regular!