Monday, June 29, 2015


First, the facts:
1. The night before our big party, a freak storm snapped one of our backyard hickories like a damn toothpick.
2. The party was awesome anyway, though I am grieving that tree like a family pet. You don't realize how much real estate a big tree like that takes up in your heart... until it's gone.
3. Highlights of the party included playing on the downed tree, making tree jokes ("look what crashed your party!" "I guess it just decided to drop in...") and the strongest campfire jam session yet. There was Wagon Wheel and Fools Rush In and Dock of the Bay and Free Falling. 
4. The garden is fine. The garden is great. The peas are coming in and I'm starting to feel drown-y in vegetables. One of the summer constants.
5. This past weekend, we went to MassMOCA for the Solid Sound festival. I bought P tickets to it for his birthday. The whole festival, from the music to the art exhibits to the food, is curated by the band Wilco, and Patrick is a HUGE Wilco fan. I am a huge MassMOCA fan. We went there last summer for a Jason Isbell concert, and exploring the museum was one of the best parts of the day. You'll see what I mean in photos, I think.

Party campfire.

Summer garden.

Richard Thompson at Solid Sound.

Festival selfie. Damn him.

Two examples of MassMOCA's completely fearless approach to art. Barbara Bush in flames, and this very extremely disturbing diptych from Francesco Clemente's Encampment. Whoa. I don't like safe art, at all, and I don't especially like pretty art, either. I like to be challenged, and nearly everything at MassMOCA seems to challenge me in the best possible ways. 

I like that. I like the dark and the erotic and the ridiculous and the creepy.

Saturday night, there was Wilco in the rain, and it was good. Walking back to our campsite (about 10-15 minute walk) it picked up. It started to blow quite intensely. Our tent stayed perfectly, miraculously dry, but others did not fare well at all. This was the pile of ruined ez-ups, the following morning. Oh my.

We packed up and relaxed at the car for awhile. I believe we opened beers at 10:30 am, sitting at the car in the misting rain listening to the Buddy & Jim show on Outlaw County. They were playing nothing but old country music. PBR, old country music, and Sunday morning were just meant to be together.

Back to the festival we went. It was subdued, and still gray, but awesome. If you're anywhere convenient to western Massachusetts, do yourself a favor and go for the day. Everything about it is too cool to be believed.

Eventually, we headed homeward. It was a wonderful experience. I think I'm pretty much done buying Patrick "things"-- he just doesn't want them, or need them. Doing something like this, where we get to have an awesome, interesting, crazy, occasionally wet experience together... it's definitely a bigger return on the investment of dollars. And... I get to buy myself a ticket and it's a present to me, as well. I like that. 

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Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Front garden

I took the front garden photos last week, intending to share them in a timely fashion. It's look absolutely to-die-for out there, for the first time ever, and that feels so good. Yes, I am a grower of food, but also, I love my flowers. I especially love shade gardening, that holy trinity of ferns, hostas, and bleeding hearts with a few heuchera thrown in for good measure. I've spent four summers working on that front garden, which was almost completely weeds when we moved here (see below) and now things are taking shape.
When we were embroiled in that first summer here, that first summer of being oh-my-god overwhelmed with what we'd taken on, I would sit and dream of this day. The day when I can return from a weekend away, in June, and not have dragons to slay. The day when there's still plenty of doing, but plenty of sitting back and enjoying the results of all the hard work, as well. The day when the place, the whole place, feels rejuvenated. That day is mostly come, with the few exceptions of one entire side of the house that's still covered in aluminum, the back stairwell/entryway for which I'm saving my pennies, and the total eyesore garage, for which we're still drafting a plan. Most days, it's easy enough to ignore the side of the house, the stairwell, and the garage. Especially when the patches of fern, hosta, and bleeding heart are looking so fine.

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Friday, May 29, 2015

Looking toward June

Things are looking SO good. I'm about at the point where I've dealt with it all-- that first post-winter clean-out is so important. It's amazing how far some of these spots have come, even just since last year. For instance, this bed by our garage. Those variegated dogwoods light up like incandescent bulbs in the late-afternoon sunshine.

This was last year...

And the circle garden is really filling in, too, and looking just great. This was 2013.

It has been incredibly unbelievably DRY, that I will say. Things are mulched, but still. We need rain. I lost my first round of tomatoes to a very cold night last week, but the second round are now in, and doing fine. I have peppers and even okra this year-- a new one for me-- and will get to planting beans and squashes and cukes this weekend. Meanwhile, the flowers are looking just positively to die for. The outdoors, at least, is ready for our Open House, which this year will be June 13th. It's one of my favorite days of the summer, every year, and I can hardly wait.

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Wednesday, May 20, 2015


God, May, you are such a stunner. 

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Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Happy spring!

Oh, it's been a good spring so far. A busy spring. The mother's day rush nearly capsized my little Etsy shop, but in the process I had two $1000+ weeks. My official comment on that is: da-yum. 

I am working at the Earlville Opera House twice a week. It isn't easy, but it feels good.

In between the Etsy and the Opera House, I am squeezing in garden time. The peas are up. The broccoli is in. Sunday I did battle with weedblock fabric, my raspberry patch, and a truck full of mulch, and I have the bruises to prove it.

Mostly, I'm feeling like the time to post here three time a week just doesn't exist anymore-- I'm spending a lot more time earning a living, which is really what I need to be doing with my time. But the other day, I thought about the possibility that I'd get to the end of the growing season without anything to show (on the blog) for it, no photos of the garden, and that thought made me really sad. So. Here I am, briefly. I don't know how often I'll be checking in, but as I've said, there is Facebook, and there is Instagram, too, now. Actually, I am love-love-loving Instagram. 

Patrick and Pete and Del and Olive and the chickens are good. Del had ACL surgery last week, and is wearing the Cone of Shame but getting around just fine. This month we're celebrating five years since we "met" Gilbertsville and put in an offer on this place, and two years since we got Del. It's really a fantastic month to be living.

Hope life is treating you well, too, wherever you be.

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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Mmm, yup.

Well. Another month went by, didn't it? Sorry.

Things are changing, here. I'm not sure if they're permanent changes or not, but right now my winter looks different from just about every other winter of late. And it's not just the walls of snow everywhere. (This is the snowiest winter since I was 10, I think.) This winter, parts of our house have become factory and warehouse. Parts of my days-- pretty big parts, really-- have been given over to sourcing, manufacturing, keyword research, order fulfillment. Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays are post office days. Usually I have between four and ten orders to ship. The Etsying business has been thrumming, and I am so grateful. 

Of course, in wintertime I have the space to log long hours into Etsy. I have no idea what this all is going to look like when it's canning season, or even springtime. I have no idea if I am going to come back to regular posting when I have things that are post-worthy again. Sigh.

As much as I hope to be able to find the time again, I'm also feeling like the urge to share parts of myself online is being sated right now with Etsy things-- new product announcements and Twitter posts and Facebook posts-- and I'm wondering if perhaps the old blog has run its course. 

That thought makes me sad. 

Sigh. Well. If you've been a longtime reader and you're interested in keeping up with me and with our life, then I invite you to friend me on Facebook at Kristina Plath Strain. I think I know who all the longtime readers are, so that'll be a good way to keep in touch. Be aware that Etsy updates will be part of the package!

Next time I check in, it'll be spring! Let's hope, at least...

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Thursday, January 22, 2015


Happy new year!

Oh my goodness, I truly did not intend to be gone for over three weeks, but there you go. That's January for you. 

Sometimes you continue on exactly as you've been continuing, and sometimes you veer off into the woods. Sometimes you take up snipe hunting. Sometimes you build a cabin in a clearing and decide to stay.

I'm trying to decide which of those metaphors best describes my life right now, the snipe hunt or the cabin-building, but it's definitely one of 'em. I've been spending nearly every waking moment thinking about my Etsy shop, or making new stuff for my Etsy shop, or ordering new materials to make stuff for my Etsy shop. I am absolutely loving it. I'm also a little nervous, but I'm getting sales, so, I tell myself, nothing ventured, nothing gained. I have made bath bombs and massage bars and bath salts. I ordered a dozen new essential oils and extracts last week and CAN'T WAIT to play with them. Every time I order a new installment of (expensive) stuff, I think I'm off on a foolish snipe hunt. And every time I get an order, I decide the snipes must be tigers, and not snipes after all. Yes. Surely these are deadly tigers I am stalking through the undergrowth. Surely the tigers will be caught and I will realize, after they are caught, just how important it was that they be caught. 

And then I stand at the window and watch it SNOW, and I pace, and I come up with new ideas and dive back into the undergrowth. Surely they are tigers and not snipes. Surely this will turn out to be The Thing that gets me back on track, that enables me to make a (fulfilling) living in Gilbertsville. 

The on-track feeling is so good. So far, 2015 has felt that way nearly every single day, and I don't want to deviate from that feeling. I'm in Bronx this week, helping my aunt through Round 1 of chemo (she's doing great) and even here I'm feeling on track. Yes. This is how it's going to be. I am needed here. I am needed here, and in between being needed I am Etsying like a fiend. 

I am looking for more writing work. I am going to interview for a part-time (OUTSIDE THE HOUSE) job doing arts promotion at a theater. I have not gone to a job interview for a very long time. Like, five years. Oh my god. I probably shouldn't let myself be nervous about that fact. Nope. I should not at all. 

I am going to try to be better at blogging, moving forward. I don't want to talk to much about Etsy (because it's tedious to everyone but me) and there isn't really any crafting happening at the moment. But it is winter, and it is lovely (still). I am cooking great quantities of last garden's produce every night, and we are eating well and spending not much. Del and Pete and Olive are well. The chickens are well, and still laying. 

That's the news from Gilbertsville. How are things where you are?

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