Thursday, September 24, 2009

Darling Darlene

My mom, Darlene, came a-visiting last week. She lives way far away in Arizona and I only see her once or twice a year which isn't nearly enough. I left home at 18 and never looked back . I was a bit rebellious and really didn't want much to do with my parents and 3 brothers. I had things to do, people to see, places to go, oats to sow. My mom was a dork, my brothers a bother and I couldn't wait to leave Mobridge, South Dakota.

But time has passed and my mom changed!!! As I got older, Mom got better. It took me awhile to realize I was changing too. Now we are just the best of friends. We went shopping in Frederick while she was here, trying on clothes in a cute shop downtown. We both came out with the same top! Never would we actually go out at the same time wearing them, but it was fun having our pix taken with our 'mother/daughter' tops.

I look so huge next to my mom but I'm only a little over 5'3" so you can see how tiny she is. Both my grandmothers were under 5' so I'm 'tall' in my family.

We visited Garrett too in his new condo in DC. It's really too bad that my boys didn't grow up with their grandparents close by. Both sets of my grandparents lived in my small town and I was always over at their houses. My mom is back in Arizona now and she probably won't be back until next May. I'll just have to go on all our good memories of her time spent here. See you next time Mom!

Monday, September 21, 2009

I Heart Anthropologie

I LOVE going into Anthropologie, the one in Bethesda, even though it's near my 'forbidden zone', Rockville Pike). Whoever they have assembling their displays is so totally creative, innovative and awesome. I always come away with fresh, new ideas for my own shop arrangements and occasionally even something I can wear (on sale!) or a cute glass. The ceilings are about 50' high so there is plenty of room to let their imaginations soar. Last winter they had a vintage ski gondola hanging from the ceiling and there are always some sort of artsy object cascading down. Many times it's made from paper, old manuscripts, old sheet music old ledger paper. This time it was huge birds like an ostrich that was at least 10'tall, made from scraps and rolled paper, covering a wire structure. Like paper mache, without the mache. The bird above was not nearly so tall, but was leaning over a table adorned with all black and white linen and dishes. So clever!

They even go the length of painting the walls for certain displays. I liked this exhibit of black, white with a dash of red. I even copied down the cupcake recipe.

And this assemblage was all light and airy. I wanted to just curl up on the sofa and read a good book, looking up once in awhile to take all that airiness in!

I'm a sucker for letters. I have a collection of D's (not for Dalis or Davidson, but for Dancing Leaf Farm!, whatever). I even have one 4' tall 'f' with 15 light bulbs that was once probably on some building advertising foot powder or Ford Fairlanes. It's fun to just wander this spacious store and take in these setups. Thanks, you sagacious Anthropologie people for giving us some edginess that many of our boring stores aren't brave enough to attempt. You rock, paper, scissors!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

A River Runs Mild

With the cooler temperatures and clear blue skies, it's a perfect time to be on the water. We are fortunate enough to live just a few miles from both the Potomac and the Monocacy rivers. During the week six of us women loaded kayaks and paddled upstream on the Potomac from Point of Rocks. I call our outing the K & K Klub (knitting & kayaking). We decided to eat on a large rock in the middle of the river, with enough room for all of us and our kayaks. Bringing out our lunches that we had brought with us, we munched and said how lucky we were to be on a rock in the middle of a river on a beautiful, crisp day.

It's days like this that you just want to spend every minute outdoors, soaking up all the goodness it has to offer.

After lunch I took out my knitting and got a few rounds done on a hat I was making out of my handspun.

Since we paddled upstream, we got to just float back downstream, a much faster trip.

Then a couple days later, we gathered for our monthly full moon canoe and kayak adventure. The September full moon is called Harvest, Nut, Mulberry, Barley, or my favorite one, Moon When the Calves Grow Hair. This was our first full moon paddle of the year as the water was either too high or too many people away. This was just the perfect evening for it though, cool, clear, with the moon making its debut over the trees an ohhh-ahhhh affair. Thirty of us gathered on the boat launch at the Monocacy Aqueduct, putting in about 26 boats. Most of us got on the water around 7:00, made our way about 1/2 mile to our party island. Someone turned over a canoe on shore and we spread out our 'food court' over the length of the canoe. Some folks walked around offering their goodies up like at a fancy cocktail party, except without the dress up clothes. The stragglers came to shore when the sun had set and the moon was up. I wasn't paying too close attention but there was a blur of activity and before long a fire was raging in a massive steel cauldron. The 'Cowboy Cauldron' (as we later learned it is called) is suspended from a thick chain that is supported by a metal pipe tripod. Remember, all this was brought over in a canoe! Woah buddy! or should I say, "Yippee yi yo kayaaa!"

One by one we left the comfort of the small bonfire that Ben (thanks Ben) had built and made our way over to see the spectacle of the Cowboy Cauldron. The cauldron would be impressive at a football tailgate party but it was UBER remarkable having paddled it over in a canoe. So when the fire died down a bit, Dennis, the proud owner of the CC, brought out a foldable grill that he placed on the top and threw a couple racks of ribs on to bar-b-que! I don't eat ribs but was impressed nonetheless and I heard "mmmmmmmmmm" from the group.
After about 3 hours of this, we loaded up and said good-bye to our rocky party beach, slowly drifting back under the light of the full moon. Lucky us, to have such a great community spirit that brings us all together on the water and to have so many boats to carry us up river. Thanks, Dick, for organizing this and I hope we can do this again under the October moon.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

The New and Improved Kiparoo Farm

Last week I went over a couple days to help Annie paint. Annie of Kiparoo Farm is moving to a big farm in the Middletown valley. The main house was built in the mid-1800's, a typical Maryland farmhouse, L-shaped with two porches in the back part and a large porch across the front. Kiparoo Farm yarn and more will be housed in the beautiful front rooms, with her living quarters in the back and upstairs. They sanded and coated all the random width floors, to a high, glossy sheen. Annie jokes that you can put your lipstick on while looking at the floors!

The driveway is paved, unlike her 3-D, class 3 driveway at the other farm. Pastures surround the house and there are so many outbuildings, I lost count at 20.

The little red shed will be her farm stand, where she'll sell pumpkins, gourds and corn, lamb, veal, flowers and eventually ice cream. Annie has had a long time dream of making artisan ice cream and it will finally come to fruition next spring. She has bred Guernsey's for over 20 years now and has 14 lovely, doe-eyed girls who are producing creamy milk, ready to made into delicious ice cream.

Annie and her trusy side kick, Wren.

Middletown valley is mostly rural, large farms, growing corn and soybeans. But as with a lot of rural land, development is creeping in. It takes the unending energy and ceaseless hard work of someone like Annie to keep these farms in commission. The main house has not been occupied for a decade, but the land has been leased by a local farmer, keeping it in production.

The tenant house that sits at the entrance to the farm needed a bit of attention. Annie is in charge of renting this cute 3-bedroom cottage so hopefully it will be occupied soon. We painted a glossy dark brown bedroom a much brighter, happier color and Annie painted the porch ceilings sky blue, put a fresh coat of paint on the porch, all the trim and doors, mounted shutters, cleared away debris from the yard, placed a cute chair and table on the porch and with a bit of fanfare, hung a star on the front wall and called it done.

Know of anyone who wants to lead the good life on a farm in the country?

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Miss Crossbeak

Miss Crossbeak is my new BFF. I got her at Southern States 2 months ago along with 9 of her 'sisters'. She was always the first one to come running up to me when I opened the chicken coop door. When she was about 3 weeks old I noticed she had something wrong with her beak. It seemed to be going at different angles and she was a bit smaller than the rest of the chicks. I let her come out to the yard every day to feed her by herself to make sure she got enough feed. I googled 'cross beak chicken' and there was skads of information about this funny little beak.

Miss Crossbeak loves to peck in the garden, get into the flowers and just be cute.

She likes to be carried around, feeling quite special as she moves around the yard 3 feet off the ground. One day she even rode on the lawnmower with me as I mowed the grass.

But she really loves this green scoop that holds her food. I put some of the food in a bowl with a bit of water so it's easier for her to get in her beak, but she goes back to the bright green scoop. She hops in as soon as I open the coop door and just gets down to business.

Since I spend nearly all my time outdoors, Miss Crossbeak spends all her time near me. When reading the newspaper on the deck, she walks right up, hops onto the back of my chair and appears to look at the paper over my shoulder. How rude! She always comes up to my wooden rooster and flirts with him. I leave the back door open to our house and when I go in, she follows me in, wondering what I'm doing.

All the animals like to hang out wherever I am and they all get along. In fact the cats are a little scared of the chickens. But Miss Crossbeak likes everyone.

Ozzie does keep an eye on her though.

And Cheyenne can hardly be bothered. He just doesn't want her to jump up onto the settee and take his place.

And they all had to check out something on my foot.

The nice thing is the other chickens don't pick on Miss Crossbeak. Chickens can be mean to one another, you know the 'pecking' order thing. They really do peck the feathers off the outcast of the coop. But Miss Crossbeak is not this chicken. Maybe they feel sorry for her, the special needs chicken. When positioning themselves on the roost for the night, Miss Crossbeak tucks herself onto the top rung, right between two big hens and I see where they occasionally lift their wings to cover her up. Awwwww!