Saturday, October 30, 2004
I took Ron to the Halloween party at the martial arts studio tonight. I was not in costume, but I told him I was going to sign up for the costume contest as a middle-aged woman. You had to act out your costume and I was going to walk across the stage: fan face "Is it hot in here?" wipe brow "Or is it just me" flutter bottom of blouse "I'm sweating." blow down front of blouse.
Even without telling him my vignetter, he was aghast at the thought.
A word for younger women reading my blog: PMS is nothing. It's just getting you prepared for the next stage.
Friday, October 29, 2004
Yesterday I tackled my outdoor containers. Every year I try to overwinter the unusual (and overpriced) annuals that I can't resist in the spring. I'm usually not sucessful, but it doesn't keep me from trying. Eternally optimistic, I am. So I started some leaf cuttings as well as trimming back plants and bringing the pots into the heated, enclosed front porch. It's starting to look like a jungle, but I love it.
Can you believe that the tender tubers cannot yet be lifted? The dahlias are still blooming.
It has been very warm this fall and some spring flowers are blooming. I picked a bouquet yesterday of the last of petunias combine with the annual Pentas. The forecast today is in the 70s so I'm waiting to pick the rest of the flowers to give them a chance to blossom out some more. Forsythia. Forget-me-nots. Foxglove. Hydrangea (one small bloom). Roses. Bells of Heaven. Daylilies. Of course, the cosmos and black-eyed Susans are still blooming.
Tulip Girl asked for a brownie recipe that uses cocoa, no baking powder and white sugar because certain ingredients are difficult to obtain in the Ukraine. I thought of Aunt Joan's Raisin Brownies immediately. They are super moist, not chewy, melt-in-your mouth chocolately goodness.
1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup flour
3 Tbs. cocoa
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp vanilla
2/3 cup raisins (or 1/2 cup nuts or nothing)
Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and mix well. Combine dry ingredients and add. Add vanilla and raisins. Pour into an 8 inch square pan, greased and floured. Bake at 325 degrees for 30 minutes. Dust with powdered sugar while warm.
Thursday, October 28, 2004
After several years, my book club has refined how we choose the books we read and discuss. Everyone submits three books, we vote on one book from each person, and vote for three books at large from the remaining books. If you are a reader, you may be interested in the recommendations. As usual there are several books that I will read whether they are selected or not and there are several books that I'm not interested in at all.
With the English ivy partially dug out of the driveway bed, I'm now wondering why I ever wanted to do this. Some of the stems are an inch across and I am having to use a heavy mattock to dig the roots out. Jumping up and down on a sharp shovel does not cut it.
Saturday, October 23, 2004
Even thought I went furniture shopping with Mom today, this bed is not a sleigh bed, poster bed or even the pencil bed that I’ve been eyeing for some time. This winter I will have the pleasure of designing another gardening spot, about 15’ by 5’ between the driveway and the house, with the bay window jutting into it. Until yesterday, this little piece of land was filled with ivy, which looked lovely against the brick façade of the house, but it kept trying to sneak into the house by creeping through the windows.
So this week I cut the ivy back to the ground. Cut is actually much too dainty of a word for this activity. I used a garden knife, clippers, and a mini-mattock. Despite the tools, my knuckles are raw from scraping the brick. The next step is to eradicate the ivy by spraying and/or digging. The dense woody roots may require use of a pickaxe! Once clean, I can amend the soil, probably with shredded leaves, so next spring I will be ready to plant.
As the bed rests this winter, I’ll be snug inside dreaming of how I will use this good earth. It segues into my cottage garden, so I will need to keep a similar style. Height is needed between the garage doors and the bay window. I’m thinking about a trellis with clematis or roses, tall grasses, or perhaps a columnar evergreen for winter color. I’ve decided to put window boxes around the bay window. Not only will they be attractive accents in the landscape, it will improve our view from the inside.
The bed is limited to 5’ in width by the house and the driveway. Actually, it is more like a parking lot. It has bugged me for years. They could have put a parking pad on the other side of the driveway, but they chose to put it in front of the house. I've asked Steve to rent a jack hammer and dig it up for flower gardens. He responds with either an incredulous look or “Put it on the list.”
Friday, October 22, 2004
Three bushels of apples are now off my counter and in my freezer. About half of the apples I sliced, fried in butter, and stirred in brown sugar and cinnamon. We will use these as warm side dishes or as toppings for pancakes (especially the gingerbread pancakes) or ice cream.
With the rest of the apples, I attempted applesauce. I was up until 1 am making it one night this week and it turned out runny - like pulpy apple cider. I stuck it in fridge and went to bed. The next morning, I strained it through cheesecloth and all was well. When I served the applesauce and apple sauce juice last night (with spinach quiche), my family raved. So I ended up with about $5.00 worth of applesauce and juice and it only took me seven hours. Tell me again why I'm doing this?
Wednesday, October 20, 2004
Or Kitty as her brother John called her in the Rondeau just posted. She is my paternal great-grandmother. I cherish my grandmother's locket that has a picture of Kitty (her mother) and Lawrence (her son and my father) in it. I framed a newpaper article Kitty wrote for the Buffalo Courier interviewing a female drummer (traveling salespeople).
I also have several of her books with correspondence and clippings stashed inside. Inserted in one of the books, Wild Earth and Other Poems by Padraic Colum, are several letters from the poet including some interesting discussion of the unrest in Ireland and how his friend (whom my great-grandmother admired) was executed for treason. The poet inscribed the book with the following blessing:
May the Olden
One whom Fairy
Thro' seven ages,
Bring you seven
Waves of Fortune!
For Katherine Hilliard Young
Friday, October 15, 2004
You bid me try, Dear Kit, to writeAn impromptu, at once, to night!A rondeau, too, with thirteen lines,And with the choice of just two rhymes;Think of the task! at best - not light,But when the muse, that nimble sprite,Be stuffed with turkey, it is quiteBeyond my pen, and yet - pass lines!
You bid me try.But still I strive; I'm in a plight;Ah! Curses be on appetite,And woe to him that overdines,His verse with humor never shines,And though my form "twill blast and blight,
You bid me try.From John M. Hilliard, Medina, N.Y. Christmas,
Thursday, October 14, 2004
I submitted my first recipe to the Carnival. This is a favorite from my childhood that I took with me when I established my first kitchen many moons ago. It is an easy and elegant dessert and always gets raves. The bottom crumb layer forms a crunchy crust for the moist cake, unless you pat the crumbs down and then it becomes rockhard. I use the 9 inch pan and I find it usually takes a lot a longer to bake than indicated.
A friend made a similar cake but used almonds and added orange zest to the batter. She didn't use nutmeg, but some other spice that I simply can't recall (cloves? ginger?). It was very good.
Look for other great recipes this Friday when She Who Will Be Obeyed hosts the carnival.
Syrian Nutmeg Cake
2 cups brown sugar
2 cups flour
1/2 cup butter
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 cup sour cream
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
Cut butter into sugar and flour until finely crumbed. Sprinkle half of the crumb mixture in a well-greased 7" springform pan (do not pat!). Mix baking soda and sour cream and add to the remaining crumbs along with egg and nutmeg. Beat until smooth. Pour batter over crumbs and sprinkle with nuts. Bake 1.5 hours at 325 degrees or until center is set. Can also use a 9" square pan and bake at 350 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes.
Serve warm or cold, with or without whipped cream.
Tuesday, October 12, 2004
Saturday was the tenth annual Bishop gathering at the St. Joseph River. Not having a rain plan, I was pleased to awake to blue skies and sunshine, and the cool air made it a perfect fall day.
At 2:00, 25 of us gathered - from 18 months old to 81 years old. We cooked Beef Gascon in a large kettle over the open fire while the rest of the family brought side dishes and desserts. Tim brought bushels of apples from his trees, which has become part of the fall ritual.
In the afternoon, part of us went up to the Highlands and part of us stayed at the Property. (Yes, we own two river properties in addition to our home - which makes for LOTS of mowing.) In the barn at the Highlands, Mom was giving away some of her stuff she couldn't fit in her new apartment. The brothers and sister and I were reluctant to select anything in case others may want it, but the grandkids had no such compunction. (My son Ron has been reading Dad's WWII training manuals all week.) Tim brought his black powder musket and made some loud noises shooting the targets while the teenagers played a game of football.
Back at the property, Steve gave rides on the riverboat, even after night fell. The teenagers also took the canoes out; luckily no one fell in this year. Last year, Caecilia fell in after her canoe was rammed by her brother. I never saw anyone move so fast for shore as the canoe floated downstream.
The stew was done so we gathered to eat after praising God for our family and the day. After we took the kettle off the fire, Jennifer fried some bacon and mush for entertainment as the bacon grease caught on fire. Sated, we sat around the fire and told scary stories. One story made even the adults shriek in horror: President Kerry. We hid in the dark to scare the returning nighttime river boat riders. However, Grandma hid in her car and had trouble with her automatic headlights, etc.-our sides were splitting watching her antics. Andy's title is still secure though-the kids said that no one at the river has ever hidden and scared them as much as Andy once did. Then the storytelling started again as Mike softly played his guitar with Jennifer on harmonica with 3-year-old Morgan helping her. Each story outdid the previous one until Jenny capped off the evening with a thinly disguised Stephen King tale adapted to the Saint Frances Bass Mansion.
Thursday, October 07, 2004
I was exchanging e-mails with a friend from church this morning and she shared this prayer with me which I'm sharing with you.
Spirit of the living God, be the Gardener of my soul.
For so long I have been waiting, silent and still -
experiencing a winter of the soul.
But now, in the strong name of Jesus Christ, I dare to ask:
Clear away the dead growth of the past,
Break up the hard clods of custom and routine
Stir in the rich compost of vision and challenge.
Bury deep in my soul the implanted Word,
Cultivate and water and tend my heart,
until new life buds and opens and flowers.
UPDATE: I tracked down the author - Richard Foster. In his book "Prayers from the Heart" he says he is indebted to Carol Mullikin for the image of God as Gardner of my Soul.
Wednesday, October 06, 2004
The twins had their 6-month dental check-up yesterday with their pediatric dentist. Ricky needs work on his permanent teeth that the pediatric dentist is not comfortable doing. He released Ricky and referred him to a dentist who treats adults. (I first wrote "adult dentist" as if they've been going to a child dentist.) For some reason, the switch upset Ricky mightily. Can you believe that both Dr. Olinger and I teared up? We've been through so much with the boys and I also saw it as another sign of my boys growing up too quickly for my comfort (although sometimes they are not maturing fast enough for my comfort.)
So on the way home, Ricky starts talking about the switch, getting more and more upset and not listening to any reason. His emotional outburst then extended to the recent switch in medical doctor due to HMO changes. Ron tried to get him to stop, but I wanted to hear what Ricky was thinking. Here's Ricky's conclusion:
"And it won't be long before we are going to school dirty, wearing rags
with oozing sores all over our bodies and no one will want to be our
Tuesday, October 05, 2004
Friday, October 01, 2004
Ron has decided to volunteer for the Army when he graduates high school. This is more than idle chatter. He has talked to new recruits, only checks out war books in the library, researched it on the web. Halfway through the presidential debates last night, he turned to me and said, "If Kerry wins, I'm going to wait until he is no longer commander-in-chief."
If Kerry is elected, the volunteer army may be in trouble if other young men feel the same way about the danger of being under Kerry's leadership. So return of draft may be a self-fulfilling prophecy.