Monthly Archives: May 2012

pretty things

I have many pretty things coming up in my garden! It’s all plants, all the time here at the Herrick House. Veggie seedlings are sprouting, flower seedlings are almost ready to be transplanted to larger pots, and everything seems to have survived the pounding rain we got earlier this week. I have pansies and snapdragons (I think?)

pansies

These are surprise flowers that I started from seed last year, stunted by not transplanting early enough, but plopped into my garden anyway. Somehow they overwintered (it was a mild winter) and they’re much happier this year, so wheee! Good for them.

cucmbers

I’ve got happy little cucumber seedlings

threesisters

and the three sisters as babies.

And according to my weather farm and garden journal, we’re not due for another frost any time this week, and next week is my last frost date!

Blackberries

I was at the feed store on saturday, and they were selling blackberry and raspberry plants. Wait, let me emphasize the bit I find odd*, they were SELLING these plants.

Here’s why I find this so odd. See my yard?

messy yard

It’s a mess (this is why I don’t give you wide view shots of my yard very often). We took down all the pine trees three years ago, and haven’t done anything since the stumps were pulled. There are 3 year old saplings and brambles everywhere. See the white?

tiny white flowers everywhere

See it?!??

blackberry blooms

We are going to have QUITE the fruit harvest this year. I’m thinking about putting out a scale, a change jar, and a “pick your own berries” sign…

*Yes, I know the domestic plants have much larger fruit, blah blah blah. I still can’t imagine buying the suckers**

**pun intended

Fenway

Over the long weekend Neil and I went down to Boston to see a Red Sox game with my parents!

outside fenway

It was a gorgeous day for a baseball game

inside fenway

And a pretty good game too, although the outcome was disappointing (they lost, in case you weren’t paying attention)

a little knitting

I brought along some knitting (and yes, stuffed it on the ground under the bleachers. I checked for spilled beer first)

good times

We had an amazing time!

Slice of life

I went off to a work conference the first three days of this week, and I’m really low energy by now.

It was hard to leave, I’d just planted my garden on Sunday, and Reggie got into a major tussle with a porcupine that afternoon. Without exaggeration I can say we lost count of the quills we pulled from his face. I’m guessing somewhere between 30 and 50? Including quills from the roof of his mouth, his gum line, under his tongue, and all up the right side of his face almost to his eye. I kinda wonder what the porcupine looked like? Was it bald after this incident?? Reggie was down-right stoic during the process. He let us pull quills from inside his mouth without snapping, snarling, and I swear once he’d calmed down from the initial incident he was careful about holding his head still so we could try and grab those little suckers with the pliers.

Neil is a competent, caring, careful guy. He’s totally able to keep an eye on Reggie, water my seedlings, and take care of the house while I’m gone. I still really really hated leaving him with all that to watch over!

But I did knit a sock and a half while I was gone! Sadly for you, I have no pictures (yet) It’s Plymouth Happy Feet yarn in a lovely orangey-brown. I worked ribbed cuffs with little faux cables every 4th row. They’re easy enough I can knit under the table, but pretty enough I can focus on the plane.

But sadly I didn’t finish the pair, so now they’re in the unfinished sock pile. That pile is up to 4 pairs! My wrought iron socks, some stripy socks for a design*, and those sad wallflower socks – the ones from my LAST conference knitting where I ran out of both colors of yarn just before the toe of the second sock…

And we’re Fenway bound**! We going to see a baseball game this weekend with my parents. I’m very excited, and have been planning my car and baseball knitting. Sadly no socks are included…

*probably out this fall at this point

**This time of year I’m always crazy busy. I loose track of entire weeks in May.

Pumpkin Pancakes

YOU GUYS! These pancakes were so delicious I’m not sure I can go back to the normal kind. Which is too bad, because I don’t have that much squash left. I thought these up just because I wanted another way to use up the last of last fall’s squash*

pumpkin pancake closeup

Ingredients:
2C flour
3Tbsp butter (that’s 3 notches on the label of your standard stick of butter)
2tsp baking soda
1/8tsp salt
1Tbsp molasses
1 1/2tsp cinnamon
1/2tsp allspice
1/2tsp ginger
1/4tsp cloves
1 egg
1Tbsp oil
1/2C squash
1C and 1/2C water
1/4C milk

pumpkin pancake mixing

Directions
In a large bowl cut the butter into the flour until crumbly, mix in the baking soda, salt, and all the spices.
Combine the squash and 1 cup of water, blend if needed (yay for immersion blenders!)
To the flour mix add the egg, oil, molasses, squash mix, and milk. If you want puffier pancakes keep the mixture dry, if you want thinner pancakes add more water until the mix looks right for you. I’m pretty sure you can’t go wrong here, except if you add too much water you’ll be making pumpkin crepes**

pumpkin pancakes on the griddle

Get your pancake griddle to the right temp (on my stove that’s medium high) pour the batter, let it brown. I always learn they were ready to flip when the bubbles around the edges burst, and don’t fill back in immediately with batter. Flip the pancakes, cook on the other side. Enjoy! I bet these would be awesome with whipped cream. But I just had maple syrup on hand (no real tears here)

pumpkin pancake tableau

*remember that LIST of squash from my gardening post? I really do grow enough to keep myself in squashes almost year ’round…

**And don’t they sound amazing? Let me know if you try that!!

early gardening

This weekend I did something I never do in May: I planted my garden. The average last frost date for my area is June 6th (no, you didn’t read that wrong, it really is in June)

But this spring has been SO WARM. And what’s the worst that could happen?*

bush beans

So I planted beans! Three varieties of bush beans!

I’m eshewing all modern agriculture for my corn this year. My friend Calley at Fat Toad Farm swears by the three sisters planting method. That’d be corn, with poll beans growing up it, and squashes around the base as ground cover to keep the weeds down. Makes sense, right? And I’m still growing High Mowing’s Ashworth corn, which I’ve read can be grown in clumps instead of rows.

corn and beans

So I planted corn in clumps of 4**, each seed is about 4 inches out from the center marker. Two bean seeds are in the center of the clump. The clumps are in rows with 12 inches between each clump and 24 inches between each row. Please note I made up ALL these measurements based on my experiences with how the corn grew last year and how I expect/hope things to go this year. I’m recording everything here because this is such a different way of doing things, but I don’t know if it’ll work!

red lettuce

My spinach is almost gone to seed already (but it’s been delicious!) My lettuces are doing well, and about to take the place of spinach in my salads. I planted another 2 rows of lettuce, and I hope to plant two rows every other week to keep us in salad all summer long.

snap peas

I expect my peas will be blooming any time now. These are a short-vined variety that are supposed to do well in our short-ish spring seasons. It was 75-90 over this weekend which is essentially too hot for tasty peas already! Hopefully it cools down a bit…

Let’s see, what else did I plant? Carrots and beets! I don’t know if I can grow root veggies in my garden yet (the soil was a pine forest 5 years ago) but this is my first year trying! Cucumbers and basil in the garden. Scarlet runner beans and nasturtiums for edible landscaping.

The broccoli seedlings were transplanted, the bunching onions are ready to be eaten, the chives, oregano, and thyme are coming back nicely, the squashes (buttercup, butternut, delicata, carnival, yellow crookneck, patty pan, and watermelon in case you were curious) and cherry tomato seedlings are all hardening off outside. They’ll go in the ground between the corn seedlings next weekend!

*Answer: all my seedlings could come up and we could be hit by a hard frost in June. I could loose $15 in seeds and be forced to re-plant everything. Would I cry? Maybe. Would the world end? No.

**Actually, clumps of 6, but my seed is 2 years old, so I’m counting on a lower germination rate here.

Follow Friday

Follow Friday is a thing people do on twitter. It’s a way of recommending cool/interesting/entertaining people you should be aware of.

I’m feeling rather like there’s nothing going on around here that’s blog worthy, so I’m going to make a recommendation instead.

I think you should check out the series of posts on the Gaze over at Knitting Kninja. Kristen talks about Gaze and how it affects* our craft, especially since so many of us connect online where photography is the best way we have to show off our work. Here’s her introduction:

Gaze as it is used here comes from a usage popularized by French psychoanalyst and psychiatrist Jacques Lacan and refers to the anxiety inherent in the awareness of one’s visibility to others. In being viewed, the subject of viewing loses some control over how that viewing is perceived. Gaze requires theory of mind – the ability to understand that others have their own reactions and emotions separate from one’s own.

Yeah, so the subject is a little (ok, a lot) deeper than my standard fare of knitting, chickens, and gardening. But I’ve been fascinated with her whole series. Start with the first post on the male gaze or with the one about the crafter’s gaze (featuring my Morningtide mitts!) Either way I highly recommend it. And I understand she’s not done with the subject yet!

*effects? no, pretty sure this is affects

Thank you knitters!

FAHC-BCC

Yesterday I went in to Fletcher Allen for my annual check up. And I took along some scarves.

HRBP scarves

TWENTY-FIVE scarves to be exact! I couldn’t have done this without all of you. Seriously, I couldn’t knit 25 scarves on my own. Funds from the sale of these scarves will go to supporting the outreach and research of the High Risk Breast Cancer program of vermont. That’s the research group to which I’m donating samples. I, the doctors, nurses, and other patients all thank you. Especially the ones who stopped me and my giant bag of scarves and asked what they were :-D

My mom had breast cancer when she was just 35. We get kind of twitchy when some scientists recommend that because of the metal stress of getting mammograms and biopsies women should wait until they’re older to start screening. If my mom had waited until she was older, she’d be gone. There’s no way around that fact. The cancer they found in her was a type that didn’t form lumps. But by 35 she already had 3 infected lymph nodes. They’re starting to think there may be benign cancers that don’t spread or cause trouble, but this wasn’t one of those cancers. I know it’s a huge balancing act in medicine: the cost of screening for diseases, the stresses they put on patients (even a fine needle biopsy can get infected) and the actual risk of a disease all need to be balanced against the actual dangers and risks to a patient.

But if you’re in a high risk group, or over the recommended age – go get your mammogram already! They’re the gold standard for tracking cancer. And they work best if you have a baseline one – something they can compare future mammograms against and look for changes. Sure, they’re not comfortable, but I honestly think your life is worth a few seconds of discomfort, don’t you?

And also, let’s all TALK about these things. I’m astonished at the number of friends I know who have family under 40 diagnosed with breast cancer. I think that if we can all talk about our experiences, and those of our friends and family, that’ll take the stigma off the disease. I remember my mom saying the same thing when she was diagnosed, I’m sure things are better now. But I still feel the more we talk about it the less people will be afraid to ask questions, see their doctors, and get screened.

Once again, I can’t say it enough. Thank You!
HRBP scarves2

leafy

The yarn I’m working with right now is the EXACT same color as new leafy growth:

leafy yarn

Which is to say it contains all the shades of green and it changes from light to shadow. I love these properties in both yarn and leaves.

Our trees have all started to leaf out at once in the last 5 or 7 days. Less than a week ago the willows and poplars had a green tinge from a distance, and that was it. Now we have the soft, baby green on the maple trees. The hard, edgy green of oak leaves. The poplars have full shaded green already, and the willows are wispy light green.

party prep

Neil is GRADUATING TOMORROW!! I’m so proud of him!! He went back to school after working with troubled teens for several years, when he realized he really wanted to do more. But he knew he needed to actually get a degree in psych before he could even make further plans.

neil award

That’s a crappy cell phone photo of him getting an award for academic achievement in a non-traditional setting. He’s at Johnson State College as part of their external degree program (which is set up for grown ups who want to finish their degree but also have jobs, mortgages, real lives, can’t live on campus, etc…) and yes, he’s wearing a fedora!

Anyway! Today I’m at work. But I have a list going beside me – things to do for tomorrow’s party:
pile bonfire wood
clear coat rack for guests
shove crap back into guestroom closet and close the door
get a burn permit
make popcorn and snack foods
find lawn chairs, badminton set, pop-up tent for shade

Tomorrow I’m starting the TWELVE POUND ham before we even head to the graduation ceremony. Tomorrow afternoon there will be food, friends, a bonfire, and good times!

I can’t wait, I’m so proud!!