Wife, crafter, writer, gardener. Heaven is a light-filled room in a dusty old farmhouse, with a sewing machine, a notebook, or a frying pan by my side. This is where I share stories of my adventures: projects, small trips, sewn gifts, and home improvement.
I don't think Patrick and I had had a full weekend day together since July. Between gigs and rehearsals, that was the story. So naturally, when a weekend day to be enjoyed together presented itself, I seized it. In the morning, we sold the car (the white Altima, c. 1998, that I'd been driving since we got married. Huzzah!) and then, with that jubilation filling our sails, we drove to Cooperstown.
The Farmer's Museum, a lavish meal at Alex & Ika's, our favorite bar. The lake with its ducks, the old, old cemetery with its wonderful 1790s headstones.
I love the fall garden. I love the slumpy squash vines and the rotting tomatoes and the vacant spots where the cucumbers used to be: but I especially love those things for the contrast they provide against the triumphing kale, chard, calendula, beets. I love that things are soaring, even as we're all told to gird ourselves for the oncoming winter, all getting ready to hunker down and freeze. Even as so much in the outside world is faltering, giving in, closing up shop, those late-season crops just keep on keepin' on. I love their optimism in the face of shortening days.
Last weekend, I froze cauliflower, made pesto, blanched green beans and broccoli, and shelled a mountain of beans. Wednesday night, I shelled more beans. Yesterday, I spent my whole afternoon hacking up (garden) tomatoes, making yet more pesto, and drying herbs. Today, I will run aforementioned cooked tomatoes through the food mill, and add onions and celery seed, en route to ketchup. Still yet there is winter squash, carrots, beets, and always more broccoli, and beans to shell. It's the home stretch, though.
I love argyle and wool tights and hot cider and pumpkin beers and the autumn woods, but damnit, that exhalation of hooooome stretch! might be my favorite thing about fall. You get to let go. You are given permission to go easy on yourself, to be kind to yourself, to focus on self-care. In the spring, I ramp up my ambitions with more more more! and in the fall I give a gentle sigh, celebrate what I did get accomplished, and let the rest go with a whoosh. The front porch decking can wait. The cold frames just aren't going to happen this year. Soon it will be the season of not having to mow anymore.
Soon there will be a weekend in Ithaca, and weekend in Philly.
Oh yes. Just a little while now. Just a few more tomato marathons and a cubic yard of kale and chard to freeze.
I hadn't given you a house exterior update in awhile, so I thought I would.
Status: it's a-comin.
I am more in love with that teal color every day-- and I didn't think that was possible. The minute I saw the color-- River Blue-- on a paint chip, my heart soared and I knew it was The One. Because painting the whole outside of your house isn't like doing just a room. It's a little more permanent than that. And in all likelihood, this teal is the color we'll be living with for the rest of the time we own this house. Maybe the rest of our lives. Ok, that's a little creepy. But really, I love that color a whole freaking lot, and that feels good.
My goal is completing the whole driveway side, including the area by the back steps, by the end of October. I think I have that squarely in sight. Especially considering where I was in late September last year, just starting the front gable of the house and contending with the missing siding underneath the siding. The ordering of the fish scale. The installing of the fish scale. The figuring out what color to paint the fish scale. Yup. All that happened between September 23rd and October 30th last year. This year, the house is a lot closer to done, the fish scale that's going up in the peak has been sitting alongside the driveway for a month, and, well, I'm just moving a bit faster this year. The efficiencies of gained experience.
Everyday there is at least one basket, sometimes more.
This time of year, I have the odd feeling of a baseball outfielder, standing under a high pop fly ball, thinking, I... GOT it! I think I got it! Oh lord, what if I don't got it? Except I'm "fielding" these baskets of goodness, figuring out if it's ultimately going in cans or freezer bags or root cellar or directly into my mouth, then putting it there, one little step at a time.
I have decided that next September, and every September thereafter, will be declared a Project-Free Zone. No house renovations, no house painting, no nothing except food preservation. No furniture overhauls. I just want to be able to focus on that fielding feeling, on taking in the harvest and doing it right.
Seems logical, right?
My new kitchen is handing the onslaught just wonderfully, it must be said. Having extra counter for my vat of fermenting hot sauce, and for cooling canning jars, and for those baskets, is so lovely. The top of the half-wall behind the stove is coming in SO handy for tomatoes and for when I buy peaches or nectarines-- somehow they look more appetizing lined up like that rather than in a bowl. Of course, my whole "grand vision" of the half-wall was to use it for curated display-- maybe just a big vase at one end-- and not piles of cookbooks and rows of tomatoes, but, y'know. Life and all that. Especially September life, when things are at their craziest and you just hold on and keep riding that crazy train. It will end soon. Soon it will be over and the whole world out there will be frozen and barren. So you hold on, and you holler, and you ache a little. But, by god, it's worth it.
This weekend, pesto and roasted red peppers and salsa and more tomato sauce happened. This weekend, I also got to see the band play a festival, and I danced in a red dress and cowboy boots. Other than that, my time was spent canning and doing horse chores, so those two hours dancing and sipping a clandestine beer at the festival were important.
Today is my last day of horse duty, and I am grateful. Everything went really well. I have a new-found respect for Horse People. I have a whole lot of manure for the garden.
I have no 6 am wakeup tomorrow.
It all balances out.
And just when I thought I was on top of things "out there" in the garden, I hauled in two big baskets of tomatoes and cucumbers and beans and hot peppers this morning. Sigh. It will all get done somehow. I think!
I haven't provided a dispatch from the garden in awhile, have I? Well, it's feeding us like crazy. The storage crops I've harvested (garlic, onions, shallots, potatoes) have been wonderful. SUCH a good potato year, and I think I finally grew enough garlic that I won't have to buy any next year. Under the leaves, I count 18 butternut squashes. I've pickled eighteen pints of bread and butter pickles, and four quarts of dills, and still I've eaten about a cucumber a day for the past month. Finally, the rebounding green beans are coming in, and going into the (NEW!) freezer. I have a nice row of carrots under row covers, because grasshoppers. It took me all summer to figure out THAT's why I wasn't getting any carrots. A billionty grasshoppers this year, and a grasshopper's favorite food is, apparently, carrots.
We've been getting cherry tomatoes for a few weeks now, and are just starting to roll in the full-size tomatoes. What a long time coming, but come it almost always does, and it is joyous.
I am very much looking forward to greens season, and to making scalloped tomatoes next week, and to soup weather. Oh, fall. I'm feeling bummed about letting go of summer (so soon, it seems) but fall is always so lovely, it's hard to stay mad at it for coming.
Also I am looking forward to shelling beans. Call me crazy, but that is my idea of a good time. A podcast, a mug of tea, and a basket of beans. Yeppers.
This weekend I am horsesitting for our next door neighbors the Exleys. That is a first. I am not a capital H capital P Horse Person, but I like them. I like animals in general, and horses are just damn impressive. Today was Day 1, and it went fine. And I got to haul home a wagon full of shit, and really now. I am easy to please. Just give me a pretty barn to do chores in (they have the nicest barn) and let me take home poop, and I will be fine.
Meanwhile, the canning. Meanwhile, the house painting. LordEE. I'm feeling good, though. Not crabby. Maybe I was a little crabby on Tuesday, when I got all the way up to the peak of the house and realized I'd left my brush on the ground. Maybe I was a little crabby yesterday when my canning kettle sprang a leak all over the stove (thank goodness for having a backup kettle!). And maybe, just maybe I was a little crabby this morning when I took one of hardest falls of my life in the horse barn, on loose hay and shiny wood. Okay. But overall, I'm feeling like I got September under control. And that's all I want. And it's pretty sweet.