Tuesday, November 29, 2016


When I photographed this mullein plant,
it was only moments away from losing it's light layer of frost.
Can you see it?

The morning sun was just coming up through the trees, so plants close to the ground were still coated with frost. The trees were intercepting the sun rays, and frost on hemlock needles and beech leaves was sparkling and literally disappearing before my eyes. Melted frost dripped from the tips of beech leaves faster than I could focus on an individual droplet.

This particular mullein plant has given me a lot of pleasure this year.
It grew in the Very Raised Bed, so I walked by often and stopped to admire it many, many times.

You may already know that mullein is a biennial plant. The first year there is a rapidly-growing basal rosette of thick, fuzzy "bunny ears."
(That may sound twee or childish, but I defy anyone to see that first rosette of mullein leaves in the Spring and not think of soft furry ears.)
The second year, the plant produces it's impressive stalk and flowers. I find mullein visually interesting at all stages of it's life, and all year round.

Mullein is always a popular plant with pollen-gatherers.
This one had frequent visitors:

I did an ink-and-watercolor drawing based on that same cluster of blossoms. Can you tell I was drawing a stalk that was far over my head?

The big soft leaves and sunny flowers made me smile so many times all through the summer. And come next Spring, I'll hope to find new mullein plants, offspring of this one, sprouting nearby.

But meanwhile, right now, I find this plant so beautiful.


Sunday, November 20, 2016


I tried to get Moxie's "good side" for you.

Pretty easy, really.


Thursday, November 17, 2016

a few snaps

We've had a lot of rain this week, which is good.
We need a LOT of rain - or snow -
to catch up after two very dry years.

I've tried to do the chores during interludes between the rains,
so the goats can enjoy their food outdoors, without jostling.
If they have their meals in the barn, there is extreme jostling.
Someone could get hurt.
It could be me.

Rain or shine, it is a gift to see flowers in the garden in late November!
The plant below was a tiny bundle of leaves when it came home from the Library Plant Sale last year; I think the label was "winter chrysanthemum." I was very happy when it reappeared this year, and began producing tiny flower buds last month. The stems are long, perhaps because it has been striving for the light, but overall it seems healthy. And it's got loads of flowers!
Very cheering when I pass it with the hay cart every day.

I've been trying to do a little knitting his week. There was one sock already on the go, but I just couldn't focus enough to carry on with it. Now I've created some incentive by casting on a little surprise for a friend overseas. I've been working on it in the evenings, after chores.
When Della, Moxie, and Piper are all asleep.
Speaking of interludes!

And speaking of Piper...I'll close this post with a picture I took last week, on a clear, bright day before all the rain started. Piper was helping me with errands in town before we went for a walk in the woods. She looked so windswept and happy - and clean! - I wanted to take a little portrait to share with Ms. Piper's Fan Club:


Tuesday, November 15, 2016


Cry, the beloved country, for the unborn child that is the inheritor of our fear. Let him not love the earth too deeply. Let him not laugh too gladly when the water runs through his fingers, nor stand too silent when the setting sun makes red the veld with fire. Let him not be too moved when the birds of his land are singing, nor give too much of his heart to a mountain or a valley. For fear will rob him of all if he gives too much.

- Alan Paton


Dear readers and friends,

I have tried to write a little post, or put up a few photographs, several times in recent days. It has been impossible. Although I have no desire to write about the election, apparently writing about anything else first would be disingenuous. So I will try.

But I will try not to write much, and there will be no rehashing or finger-pointing or ranting. There has been so much of that. In this election more than any other in my lifetime, it has been difficult for even well-intentioned people to respectfully differ. Many voters who supported either major party candidate, literally could not imagine how anyone - especially a friend or colleague - could vote for the opposition. The past couple of months in particular have been a continuous strain on individuals and often on relationships.

Last Tuesday I was nearly giddy with relief as I drove to Town Hall to cast my ballot. It was a beautiful day, and seeing the Stars and Strips bright against the blue sky over the Town Common, I thought of my father - a decorated veteran of the second World War, who carried for the rest of his life the wounds received as a very young man fighting to help end Nazi dictatorship in a foreign land. As I often do at odd moments, I wished I could phone my father and talk about what we were doing that day.

On election night, watching the numbers slowly come in, I tried to knit but couldn't. I tried to eat, but couldn't. Hour after hour the Electoral numbers came in and I finally realized I was witnessing, in real time, the willful self-destruction of my own country. I was living through the beginning of the end of The Great Experiment; this very young and very blessed nation, these United States of America.

Wednesday morning the sun came up, and the world had been changed. Not just my world, or the US, but The World. The effects of this election will be far-reaching and long-lasting. And I am very, very frightened.

I am also glad that my father is not here to see it. And that I have no children or grandchildren looking to me for an explanation.

I remember in the first days after Brexit, feeling that I was tiptoeing around the blogs of friends in Britain and leaving the comment-equivalent of a few hushed words of sympathy offered at a wake. I didn't know if it was the "right" thing to do, or if my inadequate words could matter even a tiny bit to those people who were reeling from a vote they could not believe had happened in their country. Well, now I know: those words mattered. Because the brief lines of support I've received from blog-friends - or even from twitter, where relationships are built on 140-character communications - have meant a great deal to me.

And now I'm crying again. I have had tears in my eyes more often in the past seven days than I would have believed possible.

That is all I have to share. I will leave the comments open, because I trust my readers to be respectful of me and each other, regardless of our differences. I hope you understand that I did not write this post to invite debate; I simply found that I could not write with sincerity about anything else without first trying to express the impact this election has had on me, personally.

If you've read all the way to the end, I thank you.
And I hope to return to "normal" blogging soon.

Edited 16 Nov 220 PM
I'm not going to respond to every comment, because that would be exactly the debate I don't want to engage in. But seeing the direction comments are taking, I will clearly state my personal position just once.

I supported Hillary Clinton 100%.

Not because she was "not as bad as" a hate-mongering, misogynistic, racist braggart with zero interest in ordinary working people before this election, and the attention span of a gnat. Not because "Bernie lost the nomination so that just leaves Hillary."

Because I have watched Hillary Clinton's career for most of my adult life, and I have faith that she is tireless in her efforts to make our country a better place, in ways that matter to me.

There have been many times - going back decades - that Hillary Clinton has done something, said something, achieved something - that left me speechless with awe.
Not my usual state, as you know.

And she has taken endless abuse for her efforts.
But kept doing the work.

I have followed the candidates' own words - not just the news media - their own words - throughout this campaign, and I am genuinely heartsick and, yes, terrified, at the thought of the USA in the hands of the president-elect.

I do not expect ANY candidate to be perfect.
I do not expect to agree with ANY candidate on every issue.

But I would have been delirious with joy and thrilled for the future of my country had the Electoral College truly reflected the voice of the people, whose individual votes would have taken Hillary Clinton straight to the White House in January 2017.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016


I asked the gentleman,
"Am I permitted to take photographs of the moment
when you turn the crank and the bell rings?"

The gentleman said, "Yes."

I stepped back for the shot, and said,
"We're making history here."

As the bell rang, the two people behind me said,
"OMG, can we DO that?" and pulled out their phones.

Let Freedom Ring.


today in history

Today, one way or another, America makes history.

If you are eligible to vote,

please vote.


Tuesday, November 1, 2016


Do you remember this pumpkin? The vine had grown through the perimeter fence of the big terrace garden and down into the steep bank garden bordering the driveway. The pumpkin's own weight was forcing the fence into the skin, so I harvested right away although I didn't know if a pumpkin could ripen off the vine.

Reporting back: over several weeks spent on a table by a porch window, this one very gradually turned a beautiful orange!

Throughout late Summer and early Autumn, as I walked by the gardens I would sometimes catch a glimpse of bright yellow tucked deep amongst the many shades of foliage and perennial flowers. It's surprising how large a pumpkin can grow without being seen.
At least, seen by me.

I've never grown pumpkins before, and those five little pumpkin seeds have given me so much pleasure and entertainment. It was a very hard summer for all plants, but the pumpkins never gave up. In fact, here are a few pictures of the vines continuing to bloom and set fruit a week ago!

 Recently there was an unfortunate incident in which several goats managed to get into the terrace garden
while I was in the barn mixing up their grain buckets.
Which just seems rude.

In 20 minutes they completely destroyed one pumpkin and tasted several others. It was rather shocking to find so much damage. For example, I'd been admiring the beauty below for weeks. Chompity chomp chomp. You can see my boots on the right, for scale.

While they were there, the goats also ate my first-ever okra plants right down to the ground. Ditto, all the remaining pole beans that I had selected to dry for next year's seed. Someone also tried to nibble a Candy Roaster squash, but gave up. The harder skin of a winter squash must have been too much work for my little vandals!

Last night I harvested the last three pumpkins - two large and one small. I'm hoping they will keep for a while amongst the hay bales as there are already two pumpkins waiting in the kitchen and I only have room to work with one at a time.

I've been baking (or is it roasting?) them in halves or large wedges, smoothing the purée for a few seconds with a stick blender, then freezing in 2-cup packets for winter cooking. The freezer is now full right to the tippety-top (not just with pumpkin!) so I've also been using pumpkin purée to make soups and stews and cake.


This is a new version of my tried-and-true cranberry apple mosaic cake, with lots of pumpkin (planned on one cup but my hand slipped!), more spices, and extra flour to adjust for the added moisture.  It came out as a sort of Massachusetts Fruits-cake, with cranberries from the Cape, apples from my favorite nearby orchard, and pumpkin from my own garden. Dense and flavorful, with a texture like a steamed pudding. It's not the cake I was anticipating, but it's quite good. This modified version of the recipe is another "keeper," for sure.

Apples and cranberries and - now - pumpkins!
Welcome to November!