Monday, June 21, 2010

Gordon, Stop the Car!

"Gordon, stop the car!"  I was traveling with Paul's family to their camp in the edge of the Adirondack Mountains, and was startled when Barbara demanded that his father pull over.  My future mother-in-law (though I didn't know it at the time) was so insistent that I thought someone was sick or there was some other emergency.  All she wanted was for him to pick some flowers she saw growing along the roadside so she could paint them later.  I was a little surprised that he accomodated the request!

Fast forward 35 plus years and yesterday, I asked (demanded?) Paul to steer the canoe a little closer to the edge of the waterway so  I could take pictures of some pretty iris-like flowers.  I sounded a little like my mother-in-law, only I don't paint - I scrapbook!  Nearly every time we go canoeing, I take the camera and probably spend more time than he thinks is necessary, taking pictures of wildflowers and wildlife.  I'm still trying to get a close up of a Great Blue Heron.

Yesterday's blessing was our first canoe outing of the year - we're a little late carving out the time this year to take to the water.  We travelled near Tully to Labrador Pond  - a picturesque pond nestled between two steep hillsides that create quite the wind tunnel.  Each time we go there, it seems we fight at least some breeze as we're heading north.  It's always a relief to turn south, and just drift back to the launch area. 

I like this canoe spot - it meets my two main criteria for canoeing:
  • We can drive the car nearly to the water's edge so I don't need to help carry the boat very far to launch it.  At 4'10", it's about all I can manage to get it out of the garage and on top of the Subaru and get it off without dropping it, keeping in mind we need to reverse the process after canoeing.  I don't want to over do the exercise aspect of canoeing by needing to portage the thing from the car to the water!
  • Labrador Pond has a defined area for canoing - I like rivers that meander or small ponds like this one.  My most dreaded canoe place is the middle of one of the Finger Lakes - not much to see (maybe it's that there's not much to photograph!) and if a wind picks up, I have to battle too hard to help move the boat.  Admitedly, Paul does most of the work on these outings, but I try to do my part. 
Partway through our trip yesterday, I leaned out over the bow, trying to capture the yellow water lilies as we drift by. I've attached the camera to a retractable cord on my life jacket so if it goes for a swim I can fish it out and hopefully save the memory card.  The lilies have a peculiar red shape inside the yellow petals - like flowers you'd see on the Wizard of Oz!  I don't quite get the centers on the camera this trip - so next time we go, Paul had better be prepared to hear me ask him to steer the canoe a little closer to them one more time. 

I sound like my mother-in-law, and he's accomodating like his father.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Smuckers, Move Over!

I made strawberry jam this week, and I don't think there are many sounds more satisfying than the "doink" of jar lids popping after you've canned something.  It didn't happen immediately - I was washing things up and finally heard one.  All the rest were sealed by bedtime except one, which did its thing by morning - so we didn't have to eat that jar right away.  The extra that wouldn't fit in the jars is in a bowl in the refrigerator - delicious on my morning toast!

I can't remember the last time we made strawberry jam - we did some blueberry a couple years ago.  I had forgotten how much effort it seems to be for 8- 8 ounce jars.  Or how much it costs!  This home cooking project is not saving money - berries seem pricey this year at 2 quarts for $4.50, pectin for $2.79, and 7 cups of sugar - I don't know how much a bag costs, so can't factor that in.  But the aroma of strawberries bubbling on the stove, like a lot of things done from scratch, is priceless. 

We enjoyed a new pizza this week using Swiss Chard from the garden - I'm studying gardening blogs and will add this recipe to the repertoire.  I'm not sure how much just plain steamed Swiss Chard I'd want to consume this summer - and the four foot long row seems prepared to keep us in greens all season. 

The Farmer's Market has started up and I've purchased scallions, asparagus, strawberries and green beans.  I quite happily walked right on by the lettuce the other day - selling for $2 a bunch.  We're eating lettuce frequently in salads and Paul puts it on his sandwich every day.  I 've lost count of the number of bags I've given away, though when I offered some to our neighbor he smiled, and said, "I'm no rabbit!"  Even so, I've saved multiple two dollars's already this summer!  It's a blessing how God can take a tiny seed, add water and sunshine and make things grow.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Who Has Time to Blog - I've Been Gardening!

Well, the lettuce is by far my greatest gardening success - ever!  I gave away three bags Tuesday morning to my breakfast friends - and that was after eating salad Monday evening and saving some leaves for Paul's sandwiches this week.  My brother dashed over this noon to get lettuce for BLT's, we ate salad for dinner, and I sent him home with a bagful after that.  There's still more - and I planted a lettuce mix in another raised bed this week, expecting the current crop to bolt any day, and leave me lettuce-less for a while.  While I don't think the lettuce has paid for the entire gardening project, it's certainly redeeming the expenditures.   And I'm already planning to grow more in the cold frame in the fall and next winter. 

We made two more raised beds, bringing my gardening space to 64 square feet.  The zinnias, collards, dill, chives and cilantro I started from seed survived the transplanting, but the sunflowers look pathetic, so I think I"ll have to buy a few of them to add to the tomato and zucchini plants I got at the nursery. 

I planted okra which sprouted quickly - but it looks kind of straggly.  Since I've never ever seen it growing I don't know quite what to expect, but I don't think this is it.  But hey, how much okra can a couple of Yankees eat, anyway!  The collards seem prolific - I'll have to figure out how Miss Idella Rawls, from the Baptist Church in Pearlington, Mississippi fixed them for the meal she served to volunteers and neighbors alike when we were there a year ago.  I probably can't even comprehend how much grease it took to make them so yummy. But we like them sauted them with a little olive oil and garlic, and I have a meatloaf recipe that uses the leaves as a wrapper like pigs in the blanket and cooks in the crockpot.  So I should be able to keep up with the collard greens. 

My brother brought over a barrel, went to the hardware store for the plumbing fixtures needed, and even drilled the hole and installed the spigot for a rain barrel by the back of our house.  A couple days later, it started to rain and I hurried home at lunch time to look in the barrel - it was nearly full!  I almost emptied it onto my plants and seeds by the time it rained again on Monday, filling it to overflowingn once again.  God is an on-time God! 

Are we saving any money?  Doubtful - but the satisfaction of digging in the dirt and even playing in the water from the rain barrel are great blessings to me these days.