Tuesday, October 6, 2015

taking time for play

There's always a to do list but once in a while it's good to remember that play is an essential part of living. Even more so for us senior kids. Recently Jerome and I have taken a few lovely opportunities to spend our days out of our boots.
To celebrate my 66th we took a day trip stopping at a couple of my favorite quilt shops, Mill House Quilts in Waunekee and JJ Stitches in Sun Prairie. We ate a quite good lunch at Market Street Diner and were surprised to note a little lending library inside their foyer. 

From here we made our way to Madison's Olbrich Gardens and enjoyed for the first time an autumn stroll on their grounds.
Working our way back home we stopped in at Trader Joe's to pick up a few of our favorite yummys and then at Jo-Ann Fabrics to take advantage of my birthday discount and the 40% off batting sale.
Phil's final Mississippi River tournament for the season ended in LaCrosse and we spent part of a beautiful Saturday at his weigh in.

His season finished him in the top 1/3 and allowed him a place in the regionals, but his new teaching position and coaching responsibilities will keep him off the water for now.
There are 20 birthdays and a half dozen anniversaries among our family and friends between Sept. 4 and Oct. 4. This makes for a very busy but happy time for correspondences. I did manage a couple of hand made cards and gifts like this little felt pin keep.

We had the pleasure of hosting several guests in the past couple of weeks. Most recently Jerome's brother and sister-in-law spent a few days. It is a real boost to share this magic place and watch first timers react with such appreciation and joy.
Autumn is serious business now on the ridge and we feel the urgency of preparing for what lies ahead. Play has given us enthusiasm for each new day and a renewed appreciation for each other.
Try it, you'll like it.

Friday, October 2, 2015

welcome October

Just waved goodbye to Jerome's brother and sister-in-law who have been staying with us the past couple of days. It is a genuine treat to have people who have never been here fall in love with our ridge top landscape. To catch up on all the family news and share our new or renewed passions. To  sit at table together sharing simple fare slowly, conversation flowing, laughter at times bringing us to tears. Gone are the days of frequent get-togethers for holidays, birthdays, bar-b-ques of our early parenting years, all of us living only minutes from one another. Now Jerome and his brothers each live in different states and being together is rare and precious. And what fun to watch as they taste eggs that have been gathered perhaps only moments before, to send them on their way with baskets of produce from the garden or jars of newly canned bounty. To watch as they drive a tractor for the first time, or interact with real live chickens, maybe holding an egg still warm from a nest box. They think we are giving them a gift by hosting them, and yes, I suppose we are. But in return we see reflected back to us our own joy and gratitude for this existence that now is our daily life. And we're reminded again of our blessings.

Friday, September 11, 2015

autumn in the air

Crisp fall day. Blue, blue skies. Fruit trees grinning with their offerings.

Don't you just love September?

Saturday, September 5, 2015

catching up

Been absent from my own blog for a bit, though I have been faithfully following yours. I do so enjoy sharing in what each of you has been up to.
Days are full here and since the calendar has turned to September, Mother Nature has been up to her old trick of bringing on the heat once school is back in session. I admit, I do NOT enjoy the heat, humidity and bugginess of summer. Outside I prefer layers and long pants, and sturdy shoes with sox inside of them. I've been wearing a tank top at night because our second floor bedroom in this century plus old house is pretty warm for sleeping and wearing it I got a good look at my "farmer's tan." Face, neck, hands and lower arms brown as one of Minerva's eggs, with all the rest of me pale as a moonbeam. Laughable.
Managed some canning and freezing this week and have taken to working in the gardens only before 9:30 in the mornings and after 4:30 in the afternoons. Dinners have been later than I like because we try to take advantage of the early evenings outside. Once dishes are finished it's time to put the chickens to bed. The babes are nearly 13 weeks old now. Of the 16 chicks, only one has grown up to be a cock and happily it's one of the Arauconas. I've named him Cinnabon and he is becoming a very handsome rooster.

always in motion, already watching after the safety of all "his" hens
Lately he's working on perfecting his quintessential cock-a-doodle-doo. Each morning this week he and Big Guy have called back and forth to each other before any hint of dawn, still inside their respective houses. I can only hope since they're still inside their volume isn't enough to reach any near neighbors at that hour. Sound tends to travel very far in the still air on the ridge. I say it's lucky he's an Araucana because next year I'd like to try letting one of our hens hatch out a clutch of eggs and it will be easy to choose only the blue/green eggs no matter which hen is willing to do the job. Not all breeds will be broody.
Once the chicks are tucked in and we have closed up the pole barn for the day, it's nearly dark and the clocks amaze us that it's before 8pm. We are definitely getting close to the equinox now.
We're in a moderate drought here in SW Wisconsin. The meadow is dying back in places though the goldenrod is ablaze and wild asters are surprising us here and there. There are many apples on the lawn beneath the mature Cortland in the mornings and our first cookie sheet loaded with sliced apples is in the kitchen freezer getting ready to be packed into ziploc bags for the deep freeze. There are already 20 quart bags of sweet corn kernels in the basement freezer along with the blueberries, strawberries and raspberries I set aside to enjoy in the heart of winter. Hard not to eat all that beautiful fruit while it's fresh, but will certainly be a delight when the thermometer struggles to rise above freezing.

Lots of events this month to look forward to. Anne and Matthias lent me their old iPhone and for the past couple of days I've been trying to join the rest of you in the 21st century. It has all the capabilities of any iPhone except for the phone part which I don't really need. I love having a tiny camera and connectivity to the internet right in my pocket. Since I'm learning by trial and error it's slow going, but I'm too stubborn to give up. The little grey cells need the challenge. It'll be a big asset when I'm out at Quilt Expo next week or at any of several art shows and the county fair this fall. One thing is for sure, that tiny little keyboard is not easy in my hands. How do you all manage it???

Speaking of challenges, my new Bernina (already one year old) went to the Bernina doctor last week and is now home and better than new as she also got an update. Our quilt guild season begins in just over a week and the annual quilt show and silent auction is just around the corner. Each of us has been asked to make and donate a table topper this year and determined not to be working on finishing my offering the night before the event, I put together this little piece making use of my paper piecing practice blocks. I'm doing a paper piecing demo for the guild in January and promised myself I would work hard at it before the deep distractions of autumn and their holidays. I did make a mistake in assembling the finished blocks, but too late to do anything about it. There is something about the dyes in these fabrics that make the colors change radically in differing light. Under fluorescent light especially.

I'm getting back to doing hand work in the evenings when we turn on" the tube." Sometimes I forget just how much I enjoy cross stitch and crocheting. It's getting harder to see with artificial light and harder to keep even  tension with arthritic hands but those are annoyances and not deterrents.

waiting for its final border of chicken fencing fabric

little cardigan dress jacket waiting for the buttons to be added

Well, best be about the business of the day. It's been good to catch up a bit. Hope you each find something to enjoy this Labor Day weekend.

Monday, August 24, 2015

joy list monday

Such full days here in the waning month of August. So much reason for gratitude.
Simple joys...
Garden bounty to enjoy today and enough to put by for later.

Taking time for a day's outing: acres and acres of antique machinery of all sorts.

Being able to step outside the door and snip tiny bouquets any time the spirit moves.

Tucking all the chicks in for the night knowing they'll sleep safely.
Here's Rosie, mama hen, about to step into the senior bungalow, always the last to bed.

Calling on neighbors in time of need and being there for them when they need you.

A clean, comfortable bed at the end of a long day, shared with the partner of a lifetime.
Enjoy the week ahead. Be well.

Monday, August 10, 2015

joy list monday

much needed rain during the wee hours
goldenrod opening in the meadow
butterflies everywhere

early attempts at crowing coming from the newbies just about dawn
summer escape: rereading a well loved mystery series, now in book 20
campfire at the pond as the sun sets

Happy new week to each of you.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Friday photo

Many years ago I saw this flower for the first time in a display garden at Old World Wisconsin. For me it was love at first sight. I asked the staff member working in that garden if she could identify it for me. She could not. Fortunately, on that same visit to Wisconsin we spent time walking at Boerner Botanical Gardens   and it was growing there with a lovely identification tag.

Since then I have always had it in my garden. Asclepias tuberosa or butterfly weed is a North American native. Once established it is late in breaking ground in the spring. It does not like to be transplanted. But it grows easily from seed and the second year and each year after it becomes more vigorous, though not invasive. It lives up to its name, attracting butterflies and hummingbirds as well and even stands up well in a vase.