Saturday, June 28, 2014

The Sleep of Youth

"In recent years what she missed most about her youth
was sleep,
that ability to fall into a hole of
unconsciousness and land, softly
 and without sensation, at the bottom,
to awake ten hours later rested and 
with skin remarkably uncreased."

Anne Quindlen,
Still Life with Bread Crumbs

Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Simple Things of Life - # 11

The Simple Things of Life Are the Best…

Like purple garlic.

"A diligent search reveals that no country in the world 
lays claim to being the country of origin of garlic.
Herodotus mentioned it as a common article of diet in ancient Egypt.
It was abundantly consumed also in ancient Greece and Rome--
but only by the laboring classes, since apparently
the alliaceous perfume was considered 'out of place'
on the breath of the aristocracy."

I found a yellowed newspaper clipping in an old 1930s magazine 
with the above quote.
Regardless of its history, I love garlic,
especially the purple garlic in stores this time of year. 
But then, I've never claimed to be an aristocrat.

Friday, June 20, 2014

From Chicken Shed to Picnic Shelter, continued

In the previous post I told our story of the chicken shed becoming a picnic shelter and how it was time to move R.H.'s grilling station out of it so that it could become the outdoor dining pavilion I had envisioned. 

After years of my nagging he finally did it this spring! After working on it himself for a few hot days he enlisted the help of son Gurn and grandson Drake.

On went the roof.

Drake helped supply R.H. with old bricks for edging the floor.

Otis wanted to help too.

At last R.H. got to move his grilling equipment into his new cooking shed--and out of the picnic shelter. Hurrah!

Then everything went out of the picnic shelter where Drake could power wash it all.

So nice not to have R.H.'s cooking stuff crowding the food serving station.

I love the old washing machine. We used to fill it up with ice and water for parties to chill drinks but it was so much trouble to drain. Now we use it to hold garbage bags and other things that aren't so pretty.

Everything was ready for my Texan to start grilling.

We launched it on Memorial Day weekend when Christy and Bryan were home to visit.

This week we dressed it up a little with banners that are actually curtain panels bought at the Goodwill store.

They're heavy canvas material with what looks to be hand-painted fruit on it.

Brown Eyes is enjoying the shade they provide and two fans pointed at him. R.H. wondered what in the world I'd ever do with those weird curtain panels when I grabbed them at Goodwill but I believe that sooner or later there's a use for anything you love.

The table was set...

with more odds and ends from Goodwill plus the enamel spatter ware plates from Texas that I have a stack of for outdoor meals.

I starched and ironed another Goodwill find for the table. The old white cutwork cloth has buttonholes around all four sides. I wonder what it was once buttoned to?

Here's a view to the other end of the picnic shelter, and yes, it probably still looks like a Cracker Barrel wall but you wouldn't believe how much stuff I got rid of.

This old screen door from a grocery store is the better of two doors we lugged around through every move we made. I was astounded to see American Pickers pay a small fortune for the Holsum Bread sign alone. Wonder what they would pay for the whole door?

Here's Defee standing in front of it in our living room 20 years ago. Do you think he's trying to sign--"Live long and prosper"?

So there you are, from chicken shed to picnic shelter.

R.H. has other touches he wants to add. There is an old white farm sink that's been in the barn for years. It would be nice to wash our hands outside, even if it was only cold water. Now if I could just get him to move his mowing equipment out of the other side of the building we could put a fridge in there and maybe a bed and never have to go inside. Well, we might have to build an outhouse somewhere near. 

There's always something that needs doing at Valley View, and it's always a family affair.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

From Chicken Shed to Picnic Shelter

There it was, a gloomy chicken shed and us with no chickens. Not only that, it blocked our view to the valley behind it. Since there already was a barn, a stone garage, a root cellar, and a smokehouse, in addition to our house, R.H. said the chicken shed simply had to go.

I wanted a view to the valley too but couldn't bear to tear down any outbuilding on this old hillside farm and so begged for it to be a simple dining pavilion, nothing but posts, roof, floor.

The old white siding and nail-ridden poplar boards underneath came down not long after we bought Valley View in 1990. (I see Bertha, our last Keeshond there.)

And there it sat, once the walls were down, a project stalled. Ever had one of those? For 8 years it stayed like this:

We had a view to the valley then but framed through an eyesore. At last the only pretty thing about the building collapsed during an ice storm, the corral that the original farmer used to run cattle through, for inoculations I assume. Not sure if he ran the pigs through it, but the smokehouse had been used for years of curing hams and sausage.

Here is my favorite picture of the corral with Tex, the corgi, and Jake, who sometimes thought he was a corgi, posing prettily:

Another corgi came to live with us, beautiful Dallas. When she was 4 years old she died within two weeks of something being terribly wrong and many trips to the doctor who tried to figure out just why she had a badly swollen neck.

It hit us hard. We mourned that little dog deeply. The only thing that seemed to help R.H. was losing himself in the old neglected project. At last we were going to get the dining pavilion, or what came to be known as the family picnic shelter.

These pictures were taken when it was finished in time for Zack's 18th birthday party. The photos were the old panoramic ones that were so much fun back then so I couldn't get the best quality from them, but the picnic shelter was a beauty.

It has given us many years of pleasure.

It's been a focal point behind the house.

It's been the scene of many family parties, cookouts and chili suppers.

But over the years it began to be a little too shabby for my taste and a little too cluttered, like it was a bad imitation of a Cracker Barrel restaurant. Any old thing we came across found a home on those walls. 

And R.H. using his grill and smoker inside it added to the grime. I fussed and I fumed and I behaved in the way that wives figure finally gets something done.

I nagged and nagged and nagged.

I didn't see any reason why my smart contractor husband couldn't figure out how to move his cooking equipment out of the picnic shelter so that it could finally become the dining pavilion I wanted. 

It had been nice….

but it was time for a few changes. This spring I got what I wanted. Guess who likes it the best? Yep, R.H. does. He is so proud of the new addition to the picnic shelter and I am so proud of him for doing it.

I'll show you the pictures of his hard work in my next post.

[To be continued!]

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Our Potting Bench

This post is dedicated to the memory of my father who was a farmer, born and bred.

He built our potting bench.

He might not have approved of the way R.H. and I have cluttered it up, but I know he
would agree with the thoughts of David Grayson, quoted here from A Countryman's Year.

"If only everyone could get his feet somewhere, somehow,
down into the soil. Not farming necessarily,
but at least a little plot of ground, a tree or two,
bees, flowers--even a pot of tulips in the window."

"We constantly underestimate the immense and solid satisfaction,
the comfort, countrymen get out of the homeliest facts of life:
eating, sleeping, working, resting, playing, loving--smoking!
Currying horses, discussing cows, dogs, fertilizers, seeds;
driving automobiles, tinkering farm machinery, spraying trees,
building a new back porch,
planting a vine, putting up a trellis;
reading the newspaper, listening to the radio.
I could name a thousand things more!"

"I was up at sunrise and went out into the dewy world--
long shadows on the grass,
the sun just touching the treetops,
as fine a June morning as ever I saw in my life."

"One foot in a garden--at least that, for joy."

"Blessed is the man who can enjoy the small things,
the common beauties;
the little day-by-day events,
sunshine on the fields, birds on the bough,
breakfast, dinner, supper;
the daily paper on the porch,
a friend passing by."

"I have lived here upon this hillside for many years,
and it seems to me I love it better
with every changing season."

"It is not limitation of life that plagues us.
Life is not limited:
it is the limitation of our awareness of life."

"In time of suffering and trouble
try coming to the country to be free and simple.
Get your hands daily into the soil.
It may not be your only work;
you may wish also to teach Greek, or write novels,
or make butter bowls, or work in a garage,
but somewhere, somehow, 
each day get back to your own garden,
or tree or grass plot. 
It may be that you will come presently
to serenity."
quotes by David Grayson
in A Countryman's Year

This last quote of David Grayson's is a tenet that my father lived by. And wherever he lived became the country and he got his hands daily into the soil. He always managed to make planting and growing and reaping part of his life: produce buyer, garden center owner, nursery plant grower. He was like Edna Ferber's character Ben Westerveld who "could grow a crop on rock."

Our family knows that today Daddy is tending the gardens of heaven.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Happy Birthday Otis and Milo!

You are 10 years old today, my sweet boys!

Otis got a yellow lamb that squeaks 
and Milo an armadillo that grunts.
Naturally, you ended up swapping!
This is how you started out….

But you ended up with the right babies,
just as we ended up with you two.
We missed out on the first 9 1/2 years of your life,
but we hope to make the rest of your life 
full of all the love you so deserve.

We love you so much, Otis & Milo,
Mama & Daddy

Monday, June 9, 2014

My 1978 Kitchen

Here we are, the last 3 pictures of my 1970s kitchen.
How I wish they were better photos,
but who knew there would be a blogging world someday.

The remodel consisted of removing the old countertops
and installing black Formica. 
Here you see a portion of it under our daughter's 
birthday cake. 
I was thrilled with that Formica.

The birthday cake sits on the newly built peninsula,
not an island.
I don't think there were kitchen islands in 1978.
Look behind our son and his fabulous Lego creation
to see the open shelves where my shiny aluminum sits.

Unbelievably, we did not take one photo of a major
addition during this remodel,
a large built-in wall cabinet we designed with
cubbyholes to hold my extensive glass
juicer collection.
It was a beauty, with beveled edges.
I spent the 1990s giving away the juicers as gifts.

Here is the last picture from 1978.
We moved a smaller table into the kitchen
and turned the adjoining room into a dining room.

Oh, and the wall hanging behind Christy and Gurn?
I pieced it from samplers that my Brownie troop girls
made for the Bicentennial celebration of 1976.
Still have it, just not on a wall.
The Coca-Cola lamp is what R.H. had made for me
by a stainless glass artist,
exactly to the original specifications.
It hangs over my office desk now.

There you are, our 1970s kitchen.

Thank you, Mama and Daddy,
for letting us buy your wonderful house.

We have many happy memories of our years there.