Thursday, June 24, 2010

Party Time

Two parties a day keep the doctor away. First party started at noon at my neighbors who host an annual bocce party. Didn't play this year, but cheered the ball throwers on. Then off to a big pig roast party on a friend's farm. They bought this farm 2 years ago, 42 acres, 7 outbuildings and an 1886 house, all in need of repair, restoration, and rehab. This being my first time, I hadn't seen what state it all was in before they got their hands on it, but I heard it was dire. I was quite impressed with what they have done. The gardens were all well tended, weeded, watered and wired, the inside of the house freshly painted in not white (yay!), and the outbuildings had new roofs and were pretty straight.

The old dairy operation is still in working order, but I don't think they have cows, just sheep and horses.

Hollyhocks have to be my second favorite summer flower (after zinnias). They look fun against any background, but especially an old barn window.

The country lane was lined with our vehicles.

There was a hay ride around the property.

Soybeans are beginning to form their perfect rows

The kids at the party were having so much fun, running, playing hide and seek, and keeping this corgi company. It's nice to see kids enjoying a warm summer day, running full tilt in fields of grass.

But a real delight to see was the hop fields. I guess Tom got such a good price last year selling to a local brewery that he planted another acre this year. Hops are a beautiful plant, reaching like Jack in the Bean Stock up 20' into the sky.

These are the new little hops that the corgi is watching grow.

Tom and Carolanne supplied the pork and everyone contributed delicious summer dishes, colorful salads and desserts. We brought our own chairs and some folks even brought their table. There was plenty of shade, which we needed as the day was so hot.

As the sun was retreating into the western horizon, a group of musicians set up on the front porch. I know Tom from our Artist and Writer's group at the Hyattstown Mill and many of these talented folks play instruments.

We set up our chairs on the lawn, with the soybean fields on one side and the horses on the other, settled in and enjoyed some bluegrass and old folk songs. As the sun slid further down, the fields came alive with thousands of twinkly fireflies, dancing and blinking to the music. It was truly magical.

I love these summer outdoor parties, reconnecting with friends, making new ones and being thankful for another beautiful day in the country.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Beachy Peachy

Since I'm a 'bike widow' for 2 months, I have to fill my time with fun stuff like taking a trip to Chincoteague with my girlfriends. Assateague is really the only beach place I like on the east coast except for Maine, and even then I prefer the marsh area around the island. One time I went to Chincoteague for 3 days and never went to the beach!

Macee, Seal and Annie on our fun few days. Thanks Annie for some of these photos!

I'm lucky enough to have a friend, Emily, who owns this adorable cottage in Chincoteague. This is her island getaway place so she let us use it for staging our days at the beach and telling stories at night while drinking wine and eating crab cakes.

But on the drive there....Macee had told us she has this thing for highway patrols, she thinks they're hot! We had pulled into a gas station/convenience store and all went in. When Seal and I came out we saw that coincidentally a highway patrol had pulled in and was just hanging out behind our car. While Macee was still in the store, Seal strides on over to the patrol car, the window rolls down and Seal leans in and says, "Hey Officer, my friend has this thing for patrol guys. Would you mind comin' on over and telling her she's hot?!!!!" I know, she has chutzpah! She walks away and to our surprise (!) he gets out, stands up straight, adjusts his hat and saunters over to us just as Macee is coming out of the store! Whoa! And he IS hot, all 25 years of him! Macee is fanning her face with her hands and her mouth is in an 'O' as she says, "What's happening?!" (and she's thinking "Whoa Baby!") Well, Officer Howard did not tell her she's hot but they did make small talk and I didn't hear a word they said because I was laughing too hard. I rushed for my camera and asked them to pose but he said not a chance as who knows what would be up on the internet. Yea, I understand that. So we just got this shot of him so no incriminating evidence on him.

Macee who likes highway patrols but who really loves her husband very, very much!

It was a bit chilly at the beach, while it was sweltering back home. We even had to wear our jackets.

But during the day, it warmed up and we were able to hang out in our swim suits, reading and relaxing.

Of course we saw the famous Chincoteague ponies.

This was our friend, Bill, who followed us around the entire weekend, begging for cheese fish

and becoming peeved when we didn't give him enough.

He even followed us back to our cottage, sat on the roof peering down on us hoping we would drop a morsel his way.

I think I had four crab cakes while there, first at this restaurant right on the bay.

This was a market where you could purchase crab cakes. Love the paint job. This would make a great watercolor or pastel. hmmmmm

Annie talked us into an island sunset tour that ended up being a '3-hour tour'.

Run by Captain Ray, he scooted us around, circumnavigating Chincoteague Island and veering out a bit into the Atlantic past Assateague Island.

He instructed us a bit about oysters and oyster farming.

An oyster shack in Chincoteague Bay.

I chose to bike around the island one day. Chincoteague Island is only 6 miles by 1 1/2 miles so it was easy to ride everywhere on the island. This is one of my favorite little houses on the island, small but perfectly appointed and well tended. I much prefer a small house instead of the huge, tasteless monstrosities we usually build.

I thought this was a clever idea for a garden, aluminum trash cans used as tomato planters.

A doorway to a cute garden, behind my favorite store on Chincoteague, Main Street Coffeehouse and Gallery.

This iron window invited a closer look into the garden.

Inside an assortment of tastefully chosen home goods, jewelry and clothing.

A peek at the new bridge that brings folks over the bay to enjoy the delights of Chincoteague.

Seal, looking right at home in one of the rooms.

I love these whimsical little shelves.

Being a mosaic nut, I admired the work that went into the pitch fork and shovel.

Along with celebrating Seal's 50th (!), Seal made me the most delicious peach cobbler and they all sang happy birthday to me a few days early.

A wonderful 5 days spent with girlfriends gives one a chance to recharge, reflect and enjoy life's relationships.

Here's to many more birthdays and fun times with girlfriends. Happy times!

Sunday, June 06, 2010

To the Farm We Go

Last week we paid a visit to Annie at Kiparoo Farm. I always enjoy my social calls there.

I've always loved old barns and Annie has numerous aged relics making for a bucolic setting.

Kim, Forrest and I strolled up to the top barn to take a peek at the 200 lambs.

But first a stop at the 'hay barn' with dappled light filling the spaces between the boards. The beams are hand hewn, notched and have stood the test of time, thanks to a new roof.

This farm has so many outbuildings, all built for various purposes, but now some more dilapidated than others.

This structure was probably at one time living quarters as it's made of logs, has windows and doors like a house would have.

Up at the sheep motel, hundreds of mamas and babies were lounging in the 'lobby'.

All were content and enjoying the coolness of the shade.

Annie had not told me this, but she had broken her wrist 2 weeks prior and was still not able to do most of the farm chores. I can tell you this, that woman does not slow down for much but this was a bad break (when a heavy gate came off the hinge and a sheep ran through, with Annie's wrist caught between the rungs and it just snapped). Of course it was her dominant hand too.

The tenant house sits at the entrance to the farm and I loved seeing the colorful laundry blowing in the breeze in the fresh air.

A smiling pig greets us as we enter the side yard.

This little cutie is Annie's bottle lamb. He lives close to the house in a little pen made out of a white picket fence. Annie puts ribbons on the lambs who need a bit of attention so she can spot them easily. I think it's for good luck. He was sound asleep after sucking his bottle, with a bit of milk still on his mouth. I love how lambs always seem like they're smiling!

And this is Wendy, the cat mascot of the farm. She comes shopping with the customers, leading them to the yarn. Wendy has gone through 6 of her 9 lives. A tractor blade fell on her, injuring her back and leaving a white slash of fur, she got caught up in a bush hog and lost one leg and tail. Annie nursed her back to health and Wendy gets around the farm just fine. She loves attention and if you're not paying her enough of it, she rolls on her back until you have to laugh and rub her belly.

The Kiparoo chickens scratch and peck around wherever Annie is. The girls follow her into the dye shed, into the milking barn, and occasionally into the yarn shop.

Annie keeps a milking herd of a dozen beautiful cows, Jerseys, Guernseys and this lovely girl that I cannot remember which breed she is. Help me out here, Annie!

Annie with another of her beauties.

Entrance to the shop.

All the wool from the hundreds of the sheep is spun into various weights of yarn which Annie dyes and makes into wearables.

I went to Annie's again a few days later, bringing what any good midwestern girl would bring another midwestern girl....tuna casserole. But not your Aunt Edith's tuna casserole...this one had sun dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts and feta cheese with a big squirt of what we call Mr. Rooster (sriracha hot chili sauce). I helped her plant tomato and pepper plants and dozens of perennials. I begged for more work but instead we took a tour of the farm and animals then sat on the porch in the early evening, watching the light slant across the fields.

A parting gift for me....the Aracauna eggs that are light blue. I can see an omelet in my future.