October harvest

My prowess as a winter gardener is shamed this year. I planted our cold weather crops too late and had poor germination, then a little crusade of slugs marched forth and decapitated all the lettuce and most of the kale. So my cold frame is only half full of two-inch tall kale and arugula... Not the lush 3 x 5 salad pasture I had hoped for. Luckily the self-seeders know when to germinate all on their own, and scattered about the garden are deep green patches of arugula, sorrel, and our own very own leafy, wild, mixed-breed brassicas. I won't be able to protect them from the snow and freeze, but at least for the fall, we have salad.

The nasturtiums in the bowl are 'Peach Melba'.



The other Sunday Matt and I ate at our friends' restaurant, AV, for late afternoon brunch-y bistro-y supper. On our vegetable plate was a little heap of divine roasted fennel, which reminded me that I planted fennel this year, and where do you suppose it is now?

I hadn't thinned it enough to make nice robust bulbs, but when I yanked it up, it was still tender and sweet, so I chopped the bottoms, tossed them with olive oil and salt, and roasted them. All that was left the next morning was the mermaid hair, wilting on the kitchen table.


Callicarpa dichotoma 'Early Amethyst'

When I stand on the back porch having my coffee and admiring my Callicarpa dichotoma 'Early Amethyst' each morning, all I can think of is the line in the X-Ray Spex song that goes

freddy tried to strangle me
with my plastic popper beads
but I hit him back
with my pet rat


Becoming handy

When we bought our little house on Fig Street six years ago, we had a lot of work ahead of us. We had no idea what we were doing, but lucky enough the easy part comes first: you start ripping shit out.

Over the years we've made frequent trips to the lumberyard, hardware store, electric and plumbing supplies. The men who work (or are shopping) in these places are important sources of information. Here in the valley, you ask them a question, and you get a question in return.

Well that depends... Are ya's handy?

We've always nodded our heads, because we want to know the right method, not the duct-tape'll-do-it method.

And so, this past month while I was loading shingles into the dumpster post-DIY-roofing-job, I thought to myself: Well I'll be damned, I think we've earned it. We can nod our heads yes now, and really mean it - we're handy. We might not know the tradesman-approved way to do a thing, but after gutting this house and putting it back together better than it was before, what we've learned is how to solve a puzzle with our brains, our backs, the brains and backs of our family and friends, a small budget, and a whole lot of crappy old used building materials.

I think this stands us in in good stead for our next construction project, which we hope will be building a house from scratch.


Backyard party

We returned this week from a little vacation to Matt's hometown, Duluth, Minnesota. His dad and step mom threw a party for us and all the family and friends who couldn't make it to our Pennsylvania wedding in June.

I didn't get any pictures of the fantastic northwoods fare that Kathie, Dave and their friends prepared and spread out on the buffet table, but I can tell you some of the highlights: fishcakes made with fresh Lake Superior whitefish, wild rice with venison, mashed rutabagas and carrots, smoked salmon and whitefish, lefse (crepe-like potato pancakes), Swedish meatballs...

I did get a few pictures of the backyard, where tables were set out amongst Dave's diminutive, elevated forest of bonsai. A flower arranger friend crafted the sweetest little autumnal mason-jar bouquets to decorate around.