Saturday, December 31, 2005

A Pig in the Fridge

As we all know, there is a chicken in the kitchen. She was joined this morning by what has to amount to a whole pig in our fridge. Big Daddy has once again been requested to cook the Epiphany dinner for our church. You see, in reality, North Carolinians know very little about barbeque. It is secretly the transplants to this region who have those mad smokin' skills. Monday, B.D. and a friend who also is originally from Missouri will smoke all those pork butts and turn them into something awesomely good for the end of the week feast. I don't think that barbecue is a traditional Episcopalian Holy Day food, but it keeps the people happy.

In a little while we are heading down to Transylvania County to our friend's summer camp for an evening of festivities to welcome in the New Year. Our friends bought a summer camp. I am extremely jealous. Imagine having your own camp! I spent a lot of summers at camp and spent most of my college years living in a tent or cabin and riding horses for very little pay. What fun. Anyway, I'll be back tomorrow with tales of the evening and maybe a few resolutions. Happy New Year to everyone!

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Chicken in the Kitchen

Try to say the above title five times fast. You'll sound like a choo choo train.

"Let me out, dammit, before I hurt someone..."

Per laura's request here's the chicken update. Little Hen (I am trying to resist naming her due to the utter despair I felt after the dog attack on all my little hens earlier this year) is doing well. I gave her a bath this morning and lathered her up with Preparation H. It seems to be working.

Big Daddy doesn't have the heart to kick her out to the studio, so she's living in a dog crate in the kitchen. Yesterday she shredded all the newspaper I put down in the crate in a vain attempt to make a nest to lay her egg. Today I made her a nice cozy nest out of a box filled with fresh straw. I think it meets her approval, but there was no egg today. No egg is a good thing as we want to give that whole region of her body a rest. I spoiled her with blackberries from the freezer, slices of cucumber and the frilly tops of celery stalks. I figure the softer foods will be gentler on her as well. She may start to like it so well inside that she'll be hanging out on the porch begging to get in when she goes back to the rest of the flock. I'll turn into one of those nutty women that let their chickens sit on the couch, eat bon bons and watch television (They do exist, you know...). Help me.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

I Swear, I'm Moving to Canada

The government is pissing me off.

Well, I like Canada - it's a little cold though. Maybe Australia?

Do you think they'll spy on my activities now because I said that?

Call Me Doctor Doolittle

Yesterday afternoon as I was herding the uppity chickens back into the coop I noticed something was wrong. One of my Dominique hens had a big old mass of ick* hanging out of her backside. Now for those of you who don't know about chicken physiology please understand that a chicken has just one orifice for the all bodily functions. One little hole called the vent is where chicken poop and eggs come out (I hope I haven't put you off of the incredible, edible egg forever...). Oh, and in case you're wondering, chickens don't pee. Sorry, I'm getting away from the story.

My little hen had a prolapsed vent. That is, her insides were on her outside and need to go back where they belonged. Action was needed. So I brought her inside. But, before I brought her inside, I needed a place to keep her. I had to carry her around as I looked for the cat carrier. I couldn't find the cat carrier in the garage or the shed, so I had to settle for a dog crate. All of this searching was going on while the little hen was carried around like a football under my arm. (I know, I should have found the cat carrier first and then brought her inside, but my brain was in crisis mode.) After setting up the crate here is what I had to do according to my research.

I gave her a bath of warm water and in the sink. I cleaned out the vent (very nasty job, that was...) wearing gloves, of course. I manipulated the prolapsed vent (ehwww....), gave her a good lube up with some bag balm and then plopped her down in the dog crate in the kitchen. I gave her some water and a little feed, covered the crate, and left her alone.

This morning things seem to be, eh hem, going back to their proper places. I've been advised to give her some electrolytes, cut back her feed, and keep her isolated in a warm, dark place for a few days. I'll probably move her to my studio today. It's cooler than the house, but warmer than the coop and she can rest and recover. And, I don't think the kitchen is the proper place for a chicken. I've also been advised to apply some hemorrhoid cream to the area to reduce swelling. I'll probably head out to the drug store later to pick some up as it's not something we have had any need for. Also, I plan to talk to the other hens and tell them this sort of behavior is not acceptable and to please keep their insides to themselves from now on.

*I don't believe this is a technical veterinary term, but if I were one, I'd use it quite frequently.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005


Ah, the joys of post-holiday relaxation... Things are getting slowly back to normal. Big Daddy went back to work this morning. The Monkey, unfortunately, seems to have picked up a little stomach bug somewhere. She's convalescing on the sofa - watching cartoons, nibbling on saltines and sipping some peppermint tea with honey.

Everyone received something that they truly wanted. All our gifts to friends and family arrived at their destinations on time and seem to be appreciated. But what was really wonderful was that we spent a quiet day together as a family with no obligations to the outside world.

I spent a small part of Christmas day loading songs on to my new iPod. I feel a little like I did when I got my first Sony Walkman in high school. (Yes, they came out when I was in high school. I'm old...) I reminisced and ended up downloading songs that I only had on albums or cassettes. I told you I was old. Then I moved on to other tunes. I went on a five mile walk yesterday morning, bundled up against the snow and wind. The iPod was a welcome change to my routine. Also, with all this "new" music I can now respond to the meme that Jamie tossed my way.

So here it goes...

7 Songs I'm Into Now (in no particular order)

1. Soul Meets Body - Death Cab for Cutie
2. Bed Bugs and Ballyhoo - Echo and the Bunnymen
3. Essence - Lucinda Williams
4. Girlfriend - Matthew Sweet
5. Wake Me Up When September Comes - Green Day
6. Do You Realize - Flaming Lips
7. Michael Rockefeller - Guadalcanal Diary

I won't tag anyone in particular, but you can tell me your current favorites. I still have lots of iTunes gift cards to spend, so if you have any suggestions, let me know. I do live in any area with very little radio reception (not that I've ever been that influenced by radio play) and what stations I do get tend to be top 40, oldies rock, and blue grass.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Stick A Fork In Me, I'm Done...

Monkey and I went on our last Christmas shopping expedition. We visited Complements To The Chef, a local cooks haven, and found Big Daddy an 8-inch Chef's Knife. With the help of my friend, Doug (who I had know idea worked there), I selected the Zwilling J.A. Henckels Twin Cuisine . It had a very hefty feel and I think he'll like it. As that was being gift wrapped Monkey picked up a little Peugeot pepper mill and announced that she was getting it for Daddy. She knows her daddy well, and I think he'll be pleased. The biggest excitement of the day was when I found the Maldon Sea Salt. I've been searching for it since I ran out of my stash over a year ago. There it was on the shelf next to the cash register. How had I missed it before??? Christmas is complete.

Monkey and I then ventured in to downtown Asheville. I picked up a bar of chai tea soap for Big Daddy's stocking. I'm not saying he needs soap, he just likes that particular one. In our family stockings tend to be for little practical things that really don't call for wrapping. I remember getting new socks, a toothbrush, and sometimes even underwear each year. Now that I think about it, it's odd that Santa would get me underwear... Anyway, we had a nice lunch and then headed for our last stop - Target. I would not recommend a store like Target on a day like today to anyone, but I needed more wrapping paper and I wanted all our presents to match, or at least coordinate... The drive there past all the other big "box" stores was rather hellish, but the actual shopping in the store wasn't so bad. As I paid for my purchases I sighed. Shopping for Christmas was done. I think...

Now I question for you. What are your Christmas dinner plans? I'm not inviting you because you all live too far away; I'm just curious. Our dinner is traditionally on Christmas Eve. We also generally have a big old hunk of beef roasted to perfection by Big Daddy. I'm planning on trying Jamie's Yorkshire Pudding recipe this year and make some sort of green bean dish. We often have brussel sprouts and mashed potatoes. What's on your menus?

After dinner we are planning to attend the late choral service at church. It may be late for the Monkey, but she can sleep. Last year we attended the afternoon "family" service complete with all songs done by the children's choir. It was painful (unless of course it was your child singing, I'm sure.). After, we'll toss her in bed and Big Daddy and I can enjoy a few Christmas Eve cocktails while Santa is putting the presents under the tree.

*I'm only listing B.D.'s gifts as he is in town and only reads my blog (rarely) when he is out of town. So the surprise is safe for now. I'm sure Monkey will tell him what we got him as soon as he gets home.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

La Bûche de Noël

Here it is in all it's glory. The meringue mushrooms were added just before the class party. It was a hit and was pretty tasty. But really, with that much chocolate buttercream how could it not be tasty? Before the bûche was sawed into many pieces we sang French carols (O.K., the mother who is a French teacher and I sang French carols). While we were eating Père Noël visited and left treats in all the children's shoes on the porch. Yes, the Christmas party was French themed as the students have been learning about France for the last month or so. I thought it was rather inspired of Monkey's teacher to take on a French Christmas.

Today is the start of Monkey's holiday break. We made sugar cookies in the shape of Christmas trees and mittens together. I rolled the dough, she cut the shapes, and we both decorated with colored sugar and dragees. Monkey ate an abnormal amount of silver dragees. I hope they don't adversely affect her in any way... Big Daddy is coming home from Virginia tonight. Monkey and I have been working on a dinner of chicken soup and a loaf of fresh bread.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Holiday Stress Anyone?

My stress level really isn't that high. I have everything plotted and planned carefully (as long as the weather cooperates and the heavens stay in alignment). As soon as the butter and eggs reach room temperature, I will be making the butter cream and will start assembling the buche de noel. To answer Jamie's question on yesterday's post, the mushrooms will be meringue. A friend offered to make them because she likes to. Her daughter is in Monkey's class.

All packages have been sent. I'm planning on finishing my shopping tomorrow. Monkey's Christmas holiday starts Thursday.

Oh and is it sacreligious to say that because of this I will be in even a more festive mood? I don't think so.

Monday, December 19, 2005

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas...

Well, not really. We are in the South after all.

We did have a rather nasty storm last week. Monkey had her first snow day, or rather ice day on Thursday. Despite the dire warnings from the weather man, we did not suffer much. Friends to the south were not so lucky and those closer to South Carolina are still without power. Yesterday we visited some who had delayed their annual Christmas party for a few days. Luckily they have a reserve heat source and several large fireplaces. The party was held in the afternoon to the glow of candle light. They had been busy with chainsaws cleaning up downed trees so people could get to their house. We all brought presents for several needy families in the area (the main reason for the party) and then enjoyed a rather festive afternoon. Who needs power?

I still have some last minute shopping to do for Big Daddy and Monkey. Right now I am in the middle of making a Buche de Noel for Monkey's class to enjoy on their last day of school this Wednesday. I'm not sure how I got talked into making one. I've never made one before. I am a fool. The genoise is done and I need to make the butter cream then assemble it all tomorrow. If it turns out halfway decent, I'll post photos. I just had to save the cooling genoise cake from the clutches of Gigi. She's a rather athletic and ballsy dog. She's been banished outside until the cake cools. Keep your fingers crossed.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

A Small Winter Feast

Today I made some beer bread (or to be more specific Highland Gaelic Ale Bread) loaded with sharp cheddar and rosemary. It went great with a dinner of roasted chicken, green beans and a wild rice and pecan pilafy thing. It was oh-so-perfect for today's cold weather. The chickens even went to bed early; heading for their roosts before 4:00 p.m.

We have an ice storm warning for tonight through tomorrow. I think I would prefer snow. Ice means our power may go out. Luckily we have water stored (no power, no pump for the well). We have plenty of cookies and leftover chicken. If the power goes out we'll just huddle around the fireplace in our -40 sleeping bags and roast marshmallows!

I hope the weather isn't too bad tomorrow. I need to get more raspberries for my raspberry truffles and the only place I've found nice ones is at Fresh Market, clear on the other side of town. The first batch is almost gone thanks to Big Daddy and Monkey. I also gave quite a few away. They only last a few days. What can be better than a raspberry enveloped in a Chambord-laced ganache? Not much.

Monday, December 12, 2005


It seems everywhere that I turn there is some sort of countdown to Christmas - only so many shopping days left, only a few days to get packages in the mail so they arrive in time, only so many days left of free shipping!

Saturday was gift-buying day. Today and tomorrow I will be wrapping and mailing packages to their various destination's. Yesterday was the start of baking. Monkey helped make the gingerbread men (and girls). We made spritz cookies in little tree shapes. Today I'll make some wreaths. Big Daddy has finished his chocolate balls (a fabulous candy - I'll try to pass along the recipe, if I can wrangle it out of him). He also made a mess of nut brittle.

In the ecclesiastical sense, we are counting down the last days of dark waiting. And what better way to face that waiting than to have a big party? That's the Episcopalian approach. Because what says Advent better than copious amounts of wine and a vast array of calorie-laden goodness? Last night we got together with friends from church for the annual Advent wine and cheese party. I made the following tasty treat.

taken from Gourmet December 2004

1 1/4 cups self-rising flour
1 stick (1/2 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1/4 lb chilled Roquefort cheese, crumbled (1 cup)
1/3 cup sesame seeds (2 oz.)

  • Pulse flour and butter in a food processor until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle cheese into mixture and pulse a few times to incorporate. Transfer mixture to a work surface (it will be crumbly) and knead briefly to distribute ingredients (do not overwork), then press together to form a dough and roll into a 7-inch log (about 2 inches in diameter). Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and chill until firm, at least 1 hour.
  • Put oven rack in middle of oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a large baking sheet.
  • Put sesame seeds on a plate. Cut dough into scant 1/4-inch-thick slices with a sharp, think knife (I used dental floss) then gently press both sides of each biscuit in sesame seeds to coat and arrange 1/2 inch apart on baking sheet.
  • Bake until golden, 10 to 15 minutes. Cool biscuits on a baking sheet on a rack 2 to 3 minutes, then transfer with a spatula to rack to cool completely.

I didn't have Roquefort on hand. I used a mixture of Bleu d'Avignon and a locally made blue from Bath County, Virginia. My dough was a little too crumbly, so you may play with proportions a little. My baking time was also a little longer, which could be due to altitude or the not so fantastic oven that the builder of our home installed. They did turn out quite tasty and went very well with wine.

This week I'll be making raspberry truffles, grasshopper bars, the ever-popular chocolate chip cookie and some pinwheel cookies. Wish me luck.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Big Daddy Saves Christmas

I spent two days looking for what must be the most coveted toy for the 3+ year old girl set. Every little girl seems to want the Cinderella Twinkle Lights Pumpkin Carriage. At each store I was faced with an empty spot mocking me where my daughter's desired present should be. Every clerk shook their head and said that they couldn't keep them on the shelves. There were no pumpkin carriages to be found. The thing lights up when Cinderella steps inside for Christ's sake! This is the first time I've experienced the shock and terror known by many parents before me. My little girl's desires must be fulfilled. Panic was setting in. I broke down and called Big Daddy.

Big Daddy went to the K-Mart by his office. And there what to his wondering eyes did he see? High up on the top shelf sat one Cinderella Twinkle Lights Pumpkin Carriage With Horse alone and forgotten. He snatched it up and brought it home. It's hidden in my studio and awaits wrapping and delivery under the tree Christmas morning. Big Daddy apparently found the last remaining carriage in Asheville. Hooray for Big Daddy! Christmas has been saved!

Thursday, December 08, 2005

A Thousand Apologies

Life got in the way. I've had an exhausting time the last week or so, and somehow I just let writing slip by me. My birthday was December 1 and the festivities seemed to carry on for many days. Big Daddy answered all my prayers and gave me this. Let the wild baking commence!

I spent a rather long three day weekend at a dog agility trial. It was the first for Biscuit and I after over a year and half. She is now fully recovered from illness and injury. While not back to her former glory, she did well and even finished another title. We even took along Gigi (against Biscuit's wishes) so she could become acquainted with the chaos of an agility trial. And it is chaos. Dogs are barking, running and generally doing what dogs do. Whistles are blowing and there are horns and buzzers and some very loud handlers. Biscuit and I are quiet (except when her beagle howl escapes every now and again).

Here's a shot of the wonder dog during her most excellent Jumpers run during the team competition on Friday. Our team, made up of Biscuit, a rather sweet Shetland Sheepdog, and a beagle/cattle dog mix, did not place, but we weren't at the bottom either. Better luck next time!

We are waiting on a big ice storm. I hope it comes later tonight and not earlier. Monkey and I have been invited to dinner by friends. Big Daddy was supposed to have been in Virginia through tomorrow, but they finished early so everyone could beat the winter weather home.

Monday, November 28, 2005

a painting

As the weather is getting more dreary, I thought I'd post a little oil sketch I did in warmer times. I give you June.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving

We had a quiet little Thanksgiving. It was just the three of us this year. Big Daddy roasted the turkey. After paying $1.99 a pound for an organic, free-range bird, I've decided to follow Jamie's example and raise my own next year. I may even raise a few extras to sell and cover the cost of fattening them up to perfection. Monkey helped me make the whole wheat dinner rolls. She loved rolling the dough into little balls to make clover leaf rolls. We had cranberry sauce, green beans, brussel sprouts, wild rice pilaf and sweet potato to go along with the turkey.

After we got the turkey deboned and all the good bits in the soup pot, we went for a walk at the park. It was a lovely day here. The sun was shining and it was in the mid-40's. The chickens spent most of the morning outside celebrating the fact that they are not turkeys.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Monday Morning

The forecast is rain, followed by rain/snow tonight, followed by snow after midnight. I'm keeping a disbelieving watch out my window.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

The Grande Dame of Little Creek Farm

The thinnest yellow light of November is more warming and exhilarating than any wine they tell of... Thoreau

Chelsea enjoys a Sunday morning in her favorite spot.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Girl's Day

Big Daddy is out of town again. Monkey and I quite enjoyed ourselves in his absence. To start, I helped escort Monkey's class to a performance of Peter and the Wolf. She sat enthralled through the whole performance, barely moving a muscle, except for the moments when she tried to mimic the ballerina portraying the duck. She is in love with the duck. Her favorite instrument is the violin. She announced that she will play one - a pink one, and she would like it for Christmas. She says, "I will be a violinist."

"Oh," I say, "I thought you wanted to be a doctor like Dr. E." "Yes," she replies, "A doctor like Dr. E. Only I will be an animal doctor and take care of their hearts. I will have a pink telescope (stethoscope) AND I will play the violin." And after a slight pause, "And I will be a ballerina princess." That's my girl.

Later we dined out for lunch, did some grocery shopping, made curried split yellow pea soup for dinner, played Candy Land, and roasted marshmallows over the fire. Monkey was in bed a half an hour early tonight. She needs her rest if she plans to follow the career path she's chosen.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Life As Usual

Life here has been just rolling along. Nothing exciting has been happening. The chickens are happy and are laying their eggs. Everyone is healthy. Perhaps that is why I let almost a whole week pass without any blog entries.

We have been experiencing unseasonably warm weather, but I think that may be at an end. Temperatures are supposed to drop 20 or 30 degrees over the course of the day and it's rather wet and misty. Big Daddy is excited because he wants to set the fireplace a roaring. (He likes to burn things. It brings out the Eagle Scout in him.) We traded a load of mulch for a load of firewood with my friend, Susan, a month or so ago and he's been anticipating winter ever since.

It is a good day to make a pot of soup and a loaf of bread.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Monkey Speak

The Monkey has a distinct vocabulary. I'm not sure if her play on words is a sign of genius, or a sign that she needs serious help. Here is a sampling of the latest entries into the Monkey Lexicon.

Boobier = Bra. "Mommy look at that giant pink boobier! You need one - a pink one."

Kabbalah Bar = Granola Bar. "I think we should have a kabbalah bar now, Mommy." (If she suddenly starts speaking with a fake British accent and wants to wear pointy boobiers, I will be worried.)

Yogi Posie = Yoga. "Get out the mat and let's do some yogi posie!"

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Border Collie

Last night was Gigi's second night of Obedience School. She did quite well, as I expected her to do, as we have already been working on sit and down and come. It's very odd having a dog like Gigi. When out on a walk or hike; strangers ask, "Is that a Border Collie?" They comment on her beauty. She draws attention. I am now the owner of a Border Collie.

I'm used to being the owner of Biscuit the Wonder Dog. Biscuit is a dog of indeterminate breeding. People will ask what kind of breed she is (their guess is as good as mine...), but they don't ooh and ahh over her in quite the same way. Biscuit has been allowed to pass under the radar. At agility trials she's overlooked until she quite often has the fastest time. Or when she fails, she still is visibly having the most fun. She surprises people and then makes them smile. Biscuit actually has quite a fan club. But her fan club is made up of people who have watched her perform - successfully and poorly. They love her because of who she is.

With Gigi comes expectations. Her breed is generally intelligent and quick to learn. People tend to respond to her because of what, not who, she is. They judge her before we get to show them what we can do (or cannot do). They expect her to do well. It puts much more pressure on me.
It is an interesting addition to this training process.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Lady Bug, Lady Bug

I thought fall had finally arrived, but I was wrong. The leaves are changing and falling, but the weather is unchararistically warm. Today is in the mid-70's. First snow, then this. My crocus (crocii?) are getting ready to bloom.

And we have an infestation. An invasion. An all-out assault upon our house. The ladybugs are marching. They are swarming. They are doing whatever you would call an unholy number of them crawling over the plants and the sunny sides of our house. They are everywhere. A small platoon have made their way inside the house and are hanging out in the corners of my study. I'm not sure what to make of it. Perhaps the surprise of warm weather lured them out of winter hiding or hatched them. I'm not privy to the lives of ladybugs. I like them in my garden, but I don't particularly enjoy being pelted by the little beetles every time I walk out my front door. I find them in my hair, on my back, on the dogs' backs. They are everywhere.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Behold the Glory of the Beech

Fall color is arriving finally. And even though the predictions were dire, nature has once again proved herself to be above our petty worrying. Actually, I think it would be pretty difficult to have a "bad" fall here. In the morning and late afternoon the colors really glow.

The fall plantings are hanging on in the garden. The leaf lettuce and arugula are thriving. The red romaine and kale have turned out to be the chickens' favorites. Their future is a little "iffy" at the moment. I think I can fence off the kale and it will bounce back. I did plant it for the chickens after all. I just hoped they'd be able to enjoy it when the weather turns really nasty and they are hankering for something green. If I'm going to let the girls out each day to forage, I'm going to have to plan on fencing the garden next spring.

I ordered 200 egg cartons. How's that for optimism? They were a good price and my labels look fabulous on them. I'm offering a discount of 25 cents to anyone who returns a carton to be refilled. I'm also thinking of making chicken trading cards to include in the carton. Collect all 9 (at the moment) and receive a free dozen! Now I have to get mug shots of all the girls and Rufus, the Lord of the Hen House and the lucky winner of the Which Rooster Will We Keep? contest.

*Also, if anyone knows how to add a "What I'm Reading Now" category to my sidebar, please share how to. I am truly befuddled at times by the technical aspects of this blog. Thanks!

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Relatively Random Bits

It's another hard frost morning. I like crunching through the grass on my way to the hen house. The chickens seem to be adapting to their first experience of cold nights. The hens are still laying well. I had a total of 43 eggs last week. Being young, they should continue to lay fairly well through the winter. They are paying for their feed now. They'll have to lay a lot more to pay off their mortgage on the chicken palace Big Daddy built.

Big Daddy went to church without us this morning. The Monkey has developed a little head cold and is in a foul and sleepy mood. It's a big day for him as he's being voted onto the vestry. I'm sorry I couldn't be there, but I'll get my religion tonight at Anglican Bowling. That's right, I said Anglican Bowling. The high scorer of the evening gets to take home a bust of Elvis for the week.

Now for 20 Random Things About Me. I lifted this meme from Liz. Feel free to lift it from me!

1. One of my first jobs was being the Easter Bunny at the mall.
2. I have been to Niger - twice - and saw no signs of uranium being sold to Iraq. I did however get to track the only remaining herd of giraffes in West Africa and play softball against a bunch of Japanese Embassy employees in the National Soccer Stadium.
3. I worked in a fish factory in Iceland one summer.
4. I am extremely messy - not dirty, just untidy.
5. I wish I could play a musical instrument.
6. I don't like eggs. Although, I am learning to like quiche.
7. I prefer a good beer over wine any day. Of course, I like wine too.
8. I named my daughter after my cat of 14 years (who was named after my great great grandmother, so it's not that odd...)
9. I like making elaborate cookies.
10. I was president of the Latin Club in high school.
11. My favorite oil color in my paint box is cobalt violet.
12. Mine is the first generation of my family, since it's arrival in America who has not served in some branch of the armed services. I joined the Peace Corps instead.
13. I wish I could sew and knit.
14. I miss the horse I had as a teenager.
15. I don't have a sweet tooth, but can't resist chocolate.
16. I store incredibly random facts in my head. I kick ass at Jeopardy and Trivial Pursuit.
17. I am terribly afraid of spiders, but have learned to live with them as long as they are outside.
18. I hate to fly. It must be a control thing, because if I could be in the cockpit, I'd be o.k.
19. I didn't own a car until I was 31.
20. When I go hiking I always have the urge to keep walking.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Gifts From the North

First, yesterday morning as I drove Monkey to the wood-hippie montessori mayhem* we call "school", I looked out my window and saw snow on top of the higher mountains. Snow! It was in the papers and on t.v. Here in the peak of our leaf-viewing tourist season they had to close the parkway because of snow! I saw a flurry or two at our house on Tuesday night, but nothing that would coat a mountain top.

Second, I received a package from Alda containing hardfiskur (sorry, I cannot make icelandic letters without spending more time than necessary scanning my keyboard options...). This is something I haven't had in over 20 years. So now I just need to find a recipe to use it in. Perhaps the fabulous Alda could suggest something??

There is frost on the grass this morning. The dogs are extra frisky and the chickens show no sign of wanting to come outside. The season has changed.

*Our Halloween Festival involves a Samhain activity as well as an altar to our dearly departed (we have been asked to bring pictures!). There was also a huge discussion on whether we should allow candy (with or without nuts) for the trick or treating section of the festivities. So, "in an effort to honor our diverse goodie preferences, we are invited to bring whatever we would allow our own child to have & are advised to use our own discretion when participating in this activity". I love the politically correct wood-hippie montessori mayhem school. If I have anything to do with it, Monkey will be on a sugar high starting Saturday and going through sometime the middle of next week. It is her right as a red-blooded American child to get sick on candy at Halloween. Her grandmother, my mother-in-law, already sent her a whole bag of Junior Mints wrapped in little treat boxes. I would have prefered Snickers.

Monday, October 24, 2005

It's Here

I was of the mind that our tidy little Indian Summer had been going on a tad too long. This morning I woke up to roaring winds and plummeting temperatures. The fall weather has arrived. There is even the first forecast of "possible snow showers in the mountains" tonight. So this morning I dropped Monkey off at school, had breakfast with a friend in town, stopped at the feed store to pick up some chicken feed and rushed home to pick the rest of my basil and peppers. Right now my house smells like summer with the scent of basil everywhere. I need to get cracking on the basil and will make up a bunch of pesto to freeze. Tomorrow I may have time to pickle the peppers.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Now That's What I Call Customer Service

Gigi recently decided that she loved the laces on my favorite pair of shoes. The good folks at Keen were quite happy to replace the laces and toggles at no charge. The package came addressed to Border Collie Hopper and included this note of advice to Gigi. I will be buying another pair of Keens soon. Maybe these! A girl's got to have comfy shoes.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Good Morning

O.K. It's actually afternoon, but I took the picture this morning as I went down to the henhouse and had the intention of posting it soon after. The day, like this week, has gotten away from me.
Tuesday, I started yoga with some friends, Wednesday was picture day at school (Monkey's first!), I moved a lot of mulch from the mulch mountain to various beds, I planted way too many bulbs, I was knocked unconscious by the dog...

You read it right. The dog knocked me out. I have the lingering headache, bruise, and what's now a slight bump (was a giant monstrosity of a goose egg) on my forehead to prove it. One minute I was sitting on the front steps watching Monkey and the dogs play. I tossed a ball to Gigi. I started reading a book, and then WHAM!!!! she nailed me. In her eagerness to play ball, the dog ran me over, careening her skull into mine. I woke up flat on the porch with a tennis ball on my chest and a border collie panting over me. Biscuit the Wonder Dog and Monkey soon joined her hovering. We called Big Daddy. He promised to come home early, but didn't. He says I told him to forget it, I was fine. I told him, "I was knocked unconscious by a border collie! Do you think I was actually rational when you talked to me???"

That was Wednesday. I think I may have had a slight concussion. I've had one once or twice before. I'm accident prone and rode horses, biked and skate boarded before helmets were cool. I feel better today, thank you very much. This is the sort of freak accident that seems to only happen to me. If you have had a good one happen to you, feel free to share.

So, here's this week's egg count. The hen's held out on me on Wednesday. Perhaps it was because they were outside all day. Someone may have stashed her eggs where I will never find them. Or it could have been the horrific crunch of Gigi's forehead colliding with mine that caused them to stop laying. Anyway, today they are pretty much back to normal.

Monday: 6
Tuesday: 7
Wednesday: 4
Thursday: 5
Today: 6

Monday, October 17, 2005

Is Farmling a Word?

Monday is always hard after a near perfect weekend. It's back to school and back to work and back to running all over town and back again on errands. It's only Monday and I miss the weekend already.

I sold my first eggs today. It's very exciting. I drop them off at Monkey's school and they are placed in a little fridge for other parents and faculty to pick up. We decided that our little farmette (I think I prefer to call it a farmling) needed a name. It was a marketing ploy and also I need a good farm name to put on Gigi's registration papers. A border collie should have a farm in her name. From now on our little farmling on the hill shall be known as Little Creek Farm. The word "farm" may be stretching it just a little at the moment, but I'm thinking of farm as a state of mind, not just a physical location. Besides we have big dreams for all the acres surrounding us (just as soon as we win the lottery...). So the happy hens of Little Creek Farm are finally earning their keep. And I'm tickled pink.

Sunday's Egg Count: 6
Today's Egg Count: 6

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Where's My Bed?

I'm exhausted. I guess I should be. After a very late night last night I got up this morning before the sun and made sticky buns. Yum. I have to say that I am slowly and still unwillingly becoming a morning person. When I go outside and the sky is still full of stars and a crisp fall breeze is blowing, I'm quite willing to convert. Just don't make me think too much. I can handle the early morning taking care of animals chores quite well, but human to human communication and complex thought are not possible until after a few cups of coffee. I meant to post a picture of the buns (they were lovely and it was my first time making them), but they didn't really last long enough to take one. After a morning at the church yard sale (where the buns were devoured in a not so holy way), I ran errands and rented a carpet steam cleaner. The excitement never ends.

It was an incredibly beautiful day and I spent an irritatingly large chunk of it cleaning carpets and rugs. I did manage to spend some time outside. In a moment of bartering genius, I traded a pickup truck load of the mulch mountain for a load of firewood. So my friend Susan came over with the wood and we sort of helped, but mainly watched Big Daddy unload the wood then load the mulch. Afterwards, since it was after noon (at least by 12 minutes), we popped open a bottle of wine and had a glass before Susan ran back to her farm to spread mulch. We decided that fall work weekends should, from now on, involve a wine break around mid-day.

Between rug cleanings I managed to weed some of the flower beds and plant the 100+ daffodil bulbs and the recently divided daylilies. The Persian rug is somewhat fresher smelling and back in the living room. We traded out the kitchen table with the old round oak table and the house has a whole new feel. It feels quite nice. I'm just waiting for the temperatures to drop down low enough to warrant a fire in the fireplace.

Have I mentioned how much I love the month of October? It's halfway over, and I don't think that is quite fair. Each day in October should be 30 hours long so I can savour every moment. The light is different. The smell is different. The hills are starting to change color, although the trees seem to be taking their own sweet time this year. Even the chickens are going to roost earlier. Let's hear it for the change of seasons.

Today's egg count: 7

Friday, October 14, 2005

Note to Bad Drivers

If you are driving 20 miles over the speed limit, tailgating, switching lanes like a maniac, then you cut in front of me almost causing me to rear end you AND you have one of those How's My Driving/Safety Is Important To Us stickers with a number on the back of your truck - I will call the number. Just thought you should know...

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Girls' Night Out

Monkey and I had a great girls' night out tonight. For anyone catching up, Big Daddy is traveling for work every week. On Thursday Monkey and I hit the town, or as she says, "Let's go down-to-town."

It's our church's annual yard sale this weekend, so I dumped off a carload of stuff tonight and helped set up. I came away with a great kid's easel for Monkey. The rule is, "you help set up, you get the bargains!" I also found out that a family from New Orleans is being housed at the diocese conference center starting tomorrow. Now I hate to think how a family from Louisiana are going to be thinking come January in the mountains, but they have two little girls and a brand new baby boy and need lots of help. They need everything in the way of winter clothing. As one of the little girls is 18 months old, I'm donating all of Monkey's old winter things and dresses. It's much better than taking them to the consignment shop. Monkey is very excited to help a little girl "just like her".

I'm so excited for tomorrow night. A good friend is having a low country boil and bonfire out at her house and it's for adults only. No kids. That's why there are babysitters. Hooray.

Today's egg count: 6

Taking Care of Business

Ruby is a good hen. She uses one of five nest boxes that I made for her and the other hens. Somebody else is a bad hen. I found a little stash of eggs behind the feed bin this morning. I will have to amend yesterday's egg count from 6 to 7. I think all but one of the hens is now laying. Blanche, the Wyandotte, is taking her time maturing. They are all being good and I now again have over 3 dozen eggs in the fridge. What to do? What to do? I think I'll make some creme brulee this weekend.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Today Was Productive

I need sleep. Today I managed to complete several tasks that have been hanging around for way to long. Monkey's bed is finished. The bed is old. It came from a friend of the family's maiden aunts. It was dark with old stain and shellac and the dirt of years in a Missouri farm house. It's in her room all smooth and white and she's so high up I'm going to have to get her a step ladder. I started refinishing the bed in May. I procrastinated a little. Now I think she needs some more pillows - lots. I'm renting a steam cleaner this weekend to clean the carpet. I'm hoping that by January I can replace it with something more appropriate for a preschooler's lair. Light cream is not a good choice, but then I didn't choose it.

I managed to make several phone calls and catch up on emails. I cleaned the new old table that will soon be gracing our dining area. My parents had it for years and then I inherited it. It's big, round and solid oak. Tomorrow I hope to be able to take the top off so it can fit through the door. I'm bringing back in the persian rug that I took out of the living room for its own good when the ancient cat was getting a little lax in her litter box habits. I clean it this weekend when I do the carpets.

And then there's the mulch pile. Pile is not the right word. I should say mulch hill. Big Daddy sent home 30 cubic yards of mulch. There's a dump truck load of mulch in my driveway. Today I managed to weed and cover a couple of beds. I also divided some daylillies. I'll plant those tomorrow and then move on to the hundreds of daffodil bulbs my mother sent me.

It's time for bed.

Tuesday's Egg Count: 5
Today's Egg Count: 6

Monday, October 10, 2005

It's Good To Be Home.

I'm short on time, but here's the view that greeted me this morning when I went to let the chickens out.

Today's Egg Count: 5 perfect brown eggs

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Blog Spam is a Giant Nuisance

Really, as I've said before; do these people think that this is a powerful marketing tool? I say we track them down and t.p. their front lawns...

I'm turning on the word verification feature, so when you leave comments it will be like a little game. Enjoy. I'll be home soon and have an egg count for you.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Greetings From Beautiful, Rainy Charlotte

Well, the conference room does have windows. Last night's meeting wasn't too touchy-feely, so I may survive after all. My roommate brought her laptop, so I'm able to make a post before I head off to this morning's session. I'm not sure I can survive a whole day in a conference room; even if it does have two windows with a parking lot view. Wish me luck.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Here Comes the Rain

Finally we've got rain. It seems quite a bit is headed our way. It's been rather dry here for the last month or so. I wish I was going to be home so I could reseed areas of the lawn and put down seed in a few new places. However, I'm off to Charlotte for the weekend on business. I will be stuck in a windowless conference room in a hotel near the airport for the next three and a half days. I'm praying that they will not make us do a bunch of that touchy-feely community building waste-of-time activities. I've lived through enough of those activities on several continents in a couple of languages and I think that I've done just about my lifetime's allotment of breaking in to small groups to share.

I'm secretly happy that it will be raining here (and there) and I won't really be missing good hiking weather. I do feel sad for our friend, Chef Boots, who is arriving today. He wanted a nice weekend in the country. Oh well, he can still do his favorite activity - porch sitting. He will be switching hats for awhile today as he becomes Nanny Boots. He will be watching the Monkey as I head off to Charlotte and Big Daddy heads back from his project in Virginia. I hope he brings bread. Perhaps he can make something tasty with the three dozen eggs in the fridge...

Yesterday's Egg Count: 5
Today's Egg Count: ?
The egg count will resume on Monday. Have a nice weekend!

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Don't Get Between A Dog and Her Toy

Must carry the ball on a rope everywhere. Must run and carry the ball on a rope everywhere. Run. The ball. It's all about the ball. Take the ball everywhere... Throw the ball Maggie. Throw it. Throw it! THROW IT!!!

Today's Egg Count: 6
A whole half-dozen!

Monday, October 03, 2005

Chickens in the Garden

The chickens have been enjoying some free range time in the garden and yard. They are getting braver and I find them everywhere. They've made a nice little dust bath where the tomatoes once were and where I am now drying gourds. They've discovered the joy that is black eyed peas and I have been fighting them off of the last of my harvest. I can stand to lose a few to my girls. However, I think that I will have to seriously think about fencing in the garden next year.

Yesterday was Big Daddy's and my anniversary. We packed a nice little picnic with sandwiches and pastries from the Paris Bakery and took along a bottle of champagne. We loaded up the Monkey and Gigi and went for a hike at Craggy Gardens on the Parkway. Monkey got juice, not champagne and Gigi prefers water. It was a lovely day.

Today we are waiting on the arrival of my brother, who will be staying with us for a few days. We are filling our waiting time with throwing the ball for Gigi, who cannot get enough of the thrown ball. Ever. She would chase the ball all day. Every day. Forever. Seriously. The ball on a rope is Border Collie crack at our house.

Sunday's Egg Count: 5
Today's Egg Count: 4 (so far)

Sunday, October 02, 2005


What do you do when you have three dozen fresh eggs in the fridge? Make a quiche! This is actually my first quiche. The recipe called for six large eggs, but it took a dozen of the little pullet eggs. I added ementhaler cheese, mushrooms, bacon, onion and arugula. It was quite delicious. Big Daddy had two helpings. We had it for dinner then took a lovely walk in the woods before dark.

Friday's Egg Count: 4
Saturday's Egg Count: 5

Let's hear it for the girls!

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Mmmm...Indian Food Without the Buffet

Monkey and I have fallen into a daddy's out of town/it's girls' night out routine on Thursday nights. Generally we head out for pizza and maybe ice cream; although we have been known to hit the Thai place or grab a taco.

Tonight our friends, Bette and Craig called and asked if Monkey and I would join them at a new Indian restaurant in town. I agreed and as the restaurant is just down the road from our favorite shoe store, I figured I could knock out the annual shoe buying for Monkey on our way to dinner. (I'm not going into the fact that Monkey gets all the cool clothes and shoes and I get nothing. I have to get over how cute she looks and make her wear dresses made out of flour sacks so I can shop at BCBG again...)

So as we get into town tonight and I pull into a parking spot I get a flat tire. I've been thinking that maybe the drugs haven't been working so well for my stress lately, but I have to tell you I just shrugged my shoulders and thought, "I'll deal with you later, you little bastard of a tire." And Monkey and I went shopping. Those drugs are good.

Monkey had her heart set on a pair of $80 pink clogs. $80. Pink. Clogs. Who would buy those for a three year old? Even on my old budget I'd be hard pressed to do so. $80. Sheesh. We came to an agreement on a cute little pair of suede mary janes. They are a neutral taupe with small, tasteful pink flowers on the side . And I'm not lying... Monkey said, "These will go with more than those purple ones, Mommy." The child frightens me. Monkey wore her new shoes out of the store and I stared longingly at the racks of women's shoes as we left. Someday I too will have new shoes.

Now back to the flat tire. I wanted to change it, I really did. But there was Monkey and traffic and I was parked on a hill. I decided to wait until after dinner. Craig took over and called AAA, which came and fixed "his" tire while we dined on heavenly samosas and exquisite pakoras. I toasted him with a Flying Horse Beer and Monkey sucked down glasses of ginger ale from the bar.

I sort of judge Indian places by the quality of the lamb vindaloo (my favorite and everyone must have their own standard) and I have to say it was some of the hottest I've had on this continent. Lovely. Monkey plowed through the chicken tikka and we adults shared the vindaloo, a shrimp masala and a veggie dish full of okra. It was quite good. I was pleasantly surprised and will be dragging Big Daddy there as soon as he gets back in town.

Wednesday's Egg Count: 4
Today's Egg Count: 5 (!)

Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a new layer!

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

At the Easel

Today I painted for the first time in a long time. The studio/garage is finally devoid of much useless rubish and I have room to work. I also have 10 canvases lined up and ready to go. There is no excuse not to work. I will post paintings soon, I hope. Big Daddy stole my camera to take some pictures of rocks, or grass, or foundations. I'm not really sure what exactly, but I want my camera back.

I guess I can always use my phone. That would be my new cell phone with the camera. I have once again joined modern society. I'm not sure that I actually need a cell phone, but I may need to call someone... someday. Right now I just call Big Daddy. He's the only one that calls me. And because I abhor people who talk on their cell phones and drive, you will most likely not see me using it in my car. I will probably never use all of my minutes or send 50 text or photo messages in a month, but you never know. Somebody other than my husband may call me. It could happen.

I'm so excited. Jamie is going to send me two peonies that have been struggling in the Georgia heat. I love peonies and miss the ones in my old garden. If we hadn't sold our house and moved across country in the span of 3 weeks in March, I would have dug them up. As it was I managed to bring a handful of hostas and a gardenia I've had in a pot for five years and remembered to pack the child. Thank you Jamie. I promise to take good care of them.

Today's Egg Count: 4

And My Mother Calls It Bogging

I'm sure most of my neighbors have no idea what one is either. I think most of my friends know what a blog is (in some vague sense) only because I've explained it to them.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Weekend Roundup

We stayed close to home this weekend. Saturday morning was an open house at Monkey's school. The Nutella cupcakes were devoured rapidly. Someone wisely cut them into halves and then quarters so everyone could get a taste. I'll be making them again. I had to use six of my little pullet eggs to equal the three eggs called for, but the dark orange yolks of grass fed chicken eggs gave the cupcakes a wonderful golden color. That night my friend Kelley and her family came over for barbeque and porch sitting. It was all very yummy. Kelley made dark chocolate ice cream using eggs from hens I had given her. That's what I call sharing the wealth.

Sunday was spent cleaning out the garage to make way for my new studio. We will be adding heating and cooling so it will be practical for me to work there year round. It was a giant purging session with boxes to go to the yard sale at church, books to the book seller, clothes to Good Will and one giant trash pile. Seriously, I can't figure out why we packed some things to bring all the way across country to never use. It's a mystery, but it's now going away.

Friday's Egg Count: 3
Saturday's Egg Count: 3
Sunday's Egg Count: 3
Today's Egg Count: 4

Thursday, September 22, 2005

First Day

According to my trusty calendar from Jesse Israel & Sons it is the first day of Autumn. It also says that it is a good day for fishing. And did you know that the gestation time for a squirrel is 28 days? This calendar is chocked full of useful information. I digress...

The sumac, dogwood, sourwood, tulip poplar and hickory (as shown in the photo) are starting to change. I love Autumn here. It seems to go on forever. You can watch the gradual change from the higher elevations down to the valleys. It's truly beautiful. I've heard that on some trails you can actually hike from "winter" at the top of a mountain, down into late summer at the bottom. I'm feeling the need for a long hike.

Another seasonal phenomenon is occuring. The house is surrounded by big, fat, brown spiders spinning giant webs. I continually run into the webs and then do a crazed dance to make sure no fat arachnid has attached itself to me. It is a good thing we have no close neighbors. The spiders are everywhere. When I go for walks in the morning with Gigi I'm constantly doing the fat spider evasion dance. Then I feel like I have spider webs on my face all day. Yuck. I am no fan of spiders, but I leave them alone and hope they will do likewise. Except for the black widows I've been finding lately (three in two weeks!). They die swiftly and horribly. Yuck. Can I say "Yuck" one more time? Yuck.

Today's Egg Count: 4

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

A Bad, Bad Thing

Today I introduced Monkey to Nutella. Her life will never be the same. No jar will ever be safe. I've created a monster. A chocolatey hazelnut-covered monster.

Today's Egg Count: 3

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Busy Busy

I've been slammed with stress causing deadlines and little rest. This gets heaped on top of dead electronics, car insurance due and an apparent glitch with my bank account involving our health insurance (which is automatically withdrawn) going up $50 several months ago and me not knowing about it. Everyone is apologetic, but the damage is still done. Let's put this one down as the fault of the U.S. Postal Service Employee who can't seem to get the right mail in the right mailboxes... Damn her. Oh, and I guess that will learn me to balance my checkbook every month from now on.

On the good news front here's the egg count from the last several days:
Saturday: 3
Sunday: 4 (!)
Monday: 3
I've two eggs so far today. I have a dozen! I'll wait until later to make my final count. At least one of the girls is a late afternoon layer.

Today I had to buy a new printer. The old unreliable Epson finally bit the dust. I decided on the Canon photo printer/scanner/copier. It's big and sleek and slightly intimidating. While bigger than the old printer, it also replaces the flat bed scanner that took up space on my desktop. I'm quite impressed with the quality of copies and prints, not to mention the ease of scanning.

I'm planning on baking these (thanks to Jamie) later in the week to take to Monkey's school's open house on Saturday. They sort of have a no sugar policy with snacks, but, seriously, how can they ever expect to attract more students with that idea? Besides it's not a school day.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Assault on the Yard - Day One

One would think with a landscape designer for a husband and a gardener for a wife that our yard would look fabulous. It's more of a case of the "cobbler's children don't have shoes" than the cover of Garden Design here on the mountain. Of course, nature gives us such a display that it's easy to forget about the flower beds and foundation plantings. And in our defense, Big Daddy is much busier than he ever was in Kansas City and we don't have access to loads of free plants (the one thing I absolutely, truly miss...), or work crews to help me with maintaining the yard. Oh and did I mention that our old, often photographed and published yard was the size of a postage stamp. The new yard is a pasture.

Yesterday was yard beautification day. I've been so busy with the vegetable garden and Big Daddy has been traveling so much that the yard and beds around the house have gotten away from us. The weeds were winning. So I pulled on my work gloves and grabbed pruners and the weed eater. Big Daddy armed himself with rake and hoe. We attacked with a vengence. The fire ring was cleaned out. The bed in front of the house was defrocked of weeds and given a nice little trim. Roses were pruned. Tired zinnias were removed. Crab grass was slaughtered. I then mowed the lawn into a state of perfection. Someday I will write an essay on why I love to mow, but not now. You'll have to wait.

Last night after Monkey went to bed, exhausted from her day of watching our labors, B.D. and I decided to use the newly cleaned fire ring (which, we've only used once since building!). We built a fire, drank a few beers, kicked back and enjoyed the full moon. It was one of those moments that crystalized why we moved here. We could hear a screech owl on the edge of the forest. The only other sound was the occasional car down on the road or a barking dog across the valley. Monkey was sleeping peacefully and safely in the house. The dogs were playing in the yard behind us. The chickens were sleeping in the hen house. Stars were shining and we were at peace for a while.

Later today we will tackle the blueberry patch and the edge of the woods. I plan on removing the overly-invasive and alien japanese spirea that has popped up around the yard. There is a maple leaf viburnum planted by the former owner that need to be moved to a more appropriate location. And if I'm up to it, I have over 100 daffodil bulbs that my mother gave me to plant. A gardener's work is never done.

Friday, September 16, 2005

It Must Be Near the End

I finally pulled the tomatoes out of the garden. I think I procrastinated because the act of ridding my garden of the tomatoes would mean that the season is coming to an end. I don't think I'm ready to say goodbye to Summer yet. This year it didn't really seem like we had a summer. It was spring, it was wet, and now the nights are getting cool and I'm noticing a hint of change in the color of the surrounding hills. Fall in all its glory is still weeks away, but I'm starting to see the signs in the fatigued garden and the faltering flower beds.

My plantings for the fall vegetable garden are starting to grow. The tidy little rows look out of place next to the overblown vestiges of summer's excess. The peppers, filet beans and black-eyed peas are still producing. There is still okra. The beets are ready to be pulled. I'll cut back the basil in the next couple of days and make pesto to store in the freezer.

I can look back at this year's garden and plan for next year. The cucumbers did terrible compared to the year before. It was the topic of conversation last week at the farmers market. Hopefully next year will be better. I think we'll stick to picklers. The cole crops failed for a second year in a row (although we did get some tasty little broccoli heads). I don't think I'll waste garden space on them again next spring. The peas did well for an early crop. I have a few ears of corn. I may try some more next year; more for effect than production because we can get wonderful fresh corn here. I need to plant it earlier and I think it will do better. I'll also have to keep on top of the squash borers and powdery mildew if I want any pumpkins. They started out magnificent, but crashed hard. I don't think I'll try watermelon again. I have two tiny ones on one vine. I've discovered that I can grow monster gourds. I'll grow more. Maybe I can do something artistic with them...

As always, the radishes, beets, and carrots did well. Although I think I'll plant less carrots as we just couldn't eat them all. One mound each of crookneck squash, spaghetti squash and zucchini gave us more than enough. I've decided to continue some tomatoes and junk others. Carolina Gold, Mountain Pride, Cherokee Purple, Mr. Stripey and Sausage all held up well. Orange Oxheart and Pineapple didn't do as well. I'll try a few new heirloom varieties next year. A chef, who is a friend of a friend, asked if I could grow some edible flowers for her. I can plant those in the garden and the beds around the house. I have all fall and winter to think and plan and dream. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for a bumper crop of raspberries and blackberries next year.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Meet Me at the Fair

On Saturday we made our way to the Mountain State Fair. We started with the two of the basic fair food groups - corn dogs and a blooming onion. It was exquisite. It was then off to see the giant Smokey the Bear. When I say giant, I mean GIANT. This thing is huge and animatronic. There's a guy who sits in a little trailer and controls his movements and voice. A friendly ranger stands next to Smokey and talks to the kids. The conversation is relayed to the guy in the trailer who then makes Smokey talk. So, there was Monkey talking to Giant Smokey like it was an every day, run-of-the-mill experience for her. Monkey loves Smokey the Bear. I wish I had taken a picture of Smokey. I may have to go back to the fair to snap one.

Then we wandered over to the livestock barns, stopping on the way for a pony ride and a meander through the petting zoo. We checked out the 4-H chickens and poultry displays. We gazed at rather cute little Shetland Sheep ( I want them!). We marveled at the gigantic brown eyes and ridiculously long lashes of the llamas. We petted the Sheriff's Mounted Patrol horses.

Then at Monkey's insistence we headed to the Midway and dropped a load of money on ride tickets. We used most of the tickets up on the giant ferris wheel. From the top we could view the whole fair. Monkey proclaimed herself taller than Smokey. We were on top of the world.

We sampled more fair food groups - snow cones and cotton candy. Then we made our way to the garden, food, craft and produce tents. I am so going to enter things and sweep the fair next year. I ignored my friend, Kelley's, urgings to enter the contests. She won two blue ribbons for her perennials. We checked out the jams and pickles, gawked at the giant pumpkins and perused the various quilts, shaws and scarves.

I think my favorite was this, a picture of chickens made out of a multitude of beans and seeds. Fabulous.

Big Daddy was enthralled by the allure of the beekeeping booth and thinks we should get a hive or two. When I suggested this last year, the idea was poo-pooed. After he saw that little queen shaking her thing in the display case, he's under their spell. And as B.D. is so busy working out of state these days, it looks like I'll have to go to Beekeepers School 2006 sponsored by the Buncombe County Beekeepers Chapter and County Extension Services. They apparently have a raffle and 250 lucky new beekeepers get two free hives. I'm sure all those little honey makers will be a good addition to my garden.

We then caught a little of the classic tractor pull, complete with waving American and Confederate flags.

We passed by the chewing tobacco booths, visited the NASA booth for tattoos and stickers (Stickers are Monkey's favorite. She is three after all.), admired the National Guard Apache helicopter and the accompanying NASCAR racing car. I'm not sure why the National Guard sponsors a NASCAR car, but there must be some reason... Then we chatted with the friendly North Carolina Highway Patrolman and his police dog.

We were handed bibles by the Gideons and Jesus Loves You balloons by the Baptists. We picked up a Green Ash seedling and a Smokey the Bear ruler from the Forestry Service (oh, and more tattoos and stickers!). It was hard to drag Monkey away from the PBS Kids tent and all their stickers and characters and tattoos. What is it with the tattoos? The fair is full of free stuff!

We saw the 4-H kids sporting their finest clothes to show their animals. I loved seeing the old folks all dressed up for the fair. I didn't quite realize that so many women still went for the permed hair and straight, big bangs held up by the magic of hairspray look. It was an eye-opener. We spotted more than a few mullets. And there were some scary choices in eye shadow color. And why is it always necessary for some women to wear short shorts when, Lord knows, it's the last thing they should be doing?

We finished off the day with some lemonade and Nachos, completing our consumption of the fair basic food pyramid. Monkey and I both passed out as soon as we got home with sun-flushed cheeks and way too much transfats and sugar in our bloodstreams. I love the fair.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Sacred Summits

Today we will be going to cheer on a few friends who are racing in this. I suggested to Big Daddy that we start training for next year and he just chuckled. It would mean trading in my mountain bike for a road bike. Maybe I'll just trade in his bike for a new bike. But then again, I'm not a fan of hills except for the flying downhill, fast part...

Later I'll update on the time we had yesterday at the Mountain State Fair. Now that was some fun!

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Up Before Dawn

I let the dogs out just a few minutes ago. The air is crisp and chilly. The sky is magnificently clear. The sun is just starting to lighten the edge of the mountains to the east. I could still make out Orion overhead along with Taurus, the Pleiades and Cassiopeia. Mars and Venus were still shining bright. I love those little quiet moments when I'm the only one stirring.

The rooster has started to crow. He's an early riser. I'm sipping my first cup of coffee and the day looks good. I'm going to ignore the fact that I have bills to pay today. The money is there, it's just the act of writing the check that irks me. The mail doesn't leave the post office until 2:45, so there's plenty of time. I have another half an hour before the Monkey has to get up and get ready for school. Somedays I think I could quite easily become a morning person.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

That "Ranch" Doesn't Even Have Cattle...

I've yet to process all of my thoughts and feelings on Hurricane Katrina and the after-effects. Big Daddy, however, has come up with a few thoughts:

"There is a big ranch in Crawford, Texas that isn't being used. The guy who owns it should open it up for a big tent city to house everyone. I'd say it's the least he could do."

"Somebody should sell Mardi Gras beads for donations. We should all be wearing Mardi Gras beads! Those guys that make them should be donating them to help raise money for New Orleans, considering how much they've made over the years."

Big Daddy is heading out tomorrow for Virginia, but he'll be back Friday night. I'll miss him.

I already miss New Orleans.

God bless everyone affected by that storm.

The Incredible Edible Egg

I have eggs. They are tiny, as is normal for first eggs. I had one on Monday and one yesterday. Let's hope for another today. One of my little Dominique hens is laying them. Let's here it for Heloise!

Has it been a week since my last post? I'm sorry for the lack of news from the mountain. My mother-in-law was visiting. Unfortunately my office is also the guest room. It was pretty much impossible to get to my computer. My space has finally been returned. The smell of perfume is still lingering, but will fade. Ah, solitude (at least during the mornings when Monkey is at school)... There is a lot of work I have to catch up on.

I prepped another row in the garden for planting yesterday. I'll be planting kale this afternoon. I also need to clean out another row for some more spinach and lettuce. I'm waiting until the weekend to rip out the tomatoes. Big Daddy wants to make some green tomato pickles (or relish, I can't really remember) and he'll be home Friday night.

Gigi is demanding my attention right now. I think I'll take her outside and work on some training exercises. She was spayed last Friday. I've been trying to keep her activity level down, but it's a little hard. We'll go do some sitting, downing and staying for a little bit and then I can pull weeds.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Hello Katrina... Now Go Away

The edge of what is now Tropical Storm Katrina brushed by us today. Damn her. It was odd weather. It would downpour, then stop. The wind would blow, then stop. I'd go outside, then run inside. I didn't get much done besides meet my friend, Tanya, for coffee this morning and run to Target while Monkey was at school. At Target they were losing ceiling tiles in the foyer every time the front doors opened. The sky was a lovely shade of green-grey at that moment. I had a living in the Midwest flashback. We had tornado watches and flood warnings, but nothing seemed to happen. We lost power for a couple of hours. We lose power every time the wind kicks up around here. We lose power a lot.

I managed to make and can some quarts of marinara sauce today. We are running out of room to store all the fruits of our garden labors. The potatoes are being stored under our bed at the moment. It's the coolest, darkest place in the house. I took in a couple pounds of cherry and yellow pear tomatoes to the Farmer's Market and managed to get some organic couscous and a pound of buffalo meat. I wonder if there is some twisted recipe where I could combine them? The buffalo is raised right outside of Asheville. I like this bartering thing. Next time maybe I'll come home with Magic Beans!

I think I am catching whatever Monkey had. I've got the tell-tale scratchy throat and post nasal drip. Lovely, I know.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Watching the Animals

I am addicted to this website. Antelopes and warthogs, oh my! I keep waiting for the elephants. They will come.

So Much for Silence

Monkey is home today. After her first day of school she came down with a cold. Hooray. She's got a slight fever and a stuffy nose and a nasty little cough. So I've doped her up on kiddie cold medicine and she's lounging on the couch watching "Dragon Tales".

I would like to watch some news and see updates on the whole nasty Hurricane Katrina thing. I've negotiated for news time after "Dragon Tales" and before "Sesame Street". This means "Caillou" (a whiney little kid, if there ever was one...) and "Barney" are safely out of the picture for today.

I've fed the chickens, played ball with Gigi for about 20 minutes and folded the last of the laundry. Hopefully the sun will pop out and the dew will go away and I can work in the garden for a while. The radishes, spinach, mesclun, arugula, lettuce and mache that I planted are all coming up. I'm clearing out the squash, turning over the soil and will be planting some more spinach and kale. Then it's time to rip out the cucumbers and plant more radishes and some beets.

Oh no, it's starting to rain. I may have to put off the gardening today. If the Katrina heads our way, I may have to put it off for a few more days. I'm hopeful that it will only give us some rain. We suffered quite a bit from Ivan last year (and many areas are still recovering). And I'm still waiting on the road man to come repair our driveway.

Thoughts and prayers out to those poor people stuck in New Orleans. I just heard that the roof is coming off the Super Dome. How terrible. I hope they will be o.k.

Friday, August 26, 2005

The Barter System - It's Not Just for the Dark Ages Anymore

This little bungalow houses the Black Mountain Farmers' Market. On Saturdays they host a tailgate market. I never knew of it's existence until yesterday. I stopped in on my way to pick up Monkey from her new student orientation. I picked up four lovely, freshly picked Ginger Gold apples. I chatted with the proprietess, Elaine, and found out that they stock mostly local produce and wares. They order non-local produce and other items through an organic wholesaler. They even carry jeans and overalls made an hour away in Tennessee.

It seemed Elaine was running out of some produce as the season winds down. She had a lot of people requesting cucumbers. I happen to have cucumbers. She said she'd take ten. Today I brought her ten cucumbers of nice size, weighing close to five pounds. In exchange I took home about five pounds of apples for the Monkey. Maybe we'll make some apple crisp this weekend.
On Monday I'm going to go exchange some of my surplus of cherry and yellow pear tomatoes for homemade pasta. Bartering is good.

Got Milk?
I found out an answer to my continuing confusion about why there seemed to be no local organic dairies. It is quite difficult and expensive to get certification. In North Carolina all milk must be pasteurized. I'm a skim milk kind of girl, so I don't mind pasteurization. And I guess I was spoiled coming from a dairy and beef raising region of the country. I was used to my milk coming from local dairies and co-ops. My parents would buy a half a cow from someone they knew (or a relative of someone they knew) and stock the freezer.

Now, I'm going to share with you a big secret. There are no such laws in South Carolina and you can buy un-pasteurized whole milk from small dairies. So, every two weeks, the market takes orders for milk and someone travels to South Carolina to buy milk. It's $8 a gallon (about double the price than if you went to the dairy yourself, but you have to cover those gas costs). I don't think I'll be paying for that luxury. However, a local farm just got certification to make cow cheese and they will be carrying it soon. I love cheese...

Savouring the Silence

Today is Monkey's first full day of preschool. Except for the jingling of dog collars, it is absolutely still in the house. What am I to do? Why I think I'll enjoy my coffee, pick some green beans, read the paper and relax until I need to pick her up at noon.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

A Whole Lot of Shaking Going On

Last night a little after 11 p.m. I was sitting here in front of the computer enjoying the fact that the house was all quiet and getting ready to go to bed. Then a large truck drove through the front yard and there was a deep boom. The house shook just a little. Truthfully there was no truck, but it felt like it. Or maybe a train. Or a car with one of those ridiculously loud stereo systems playing some very fast music. It was an earthquake!

An earthquake. A 3.8 earthquake. In the mountains. How likely is that? I had no idea what it was last night. Rather, I found out this morning as they reported it on the news. You can read the story. I didn't even think earthquake. I'm from Missouri. Tornadoes? Yes. Earthquakes? No.

It seems that every time Big Daddy goes out of town on business something is going to happen - chickens slaughtered... Earthquakes... I wonder what's next?

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Alone Again

Big Daddy is in Virginia again this week for work. It looks like this will be a weekly occurence for the next month or so. He called this evening and said he was safe and sound in his hotel. I should say motel. He's still looking for internet access.

Tonight I had to go to my agility training class. I sprayed Monkey down with mosquito repellent, loaded her and all her favorite toys in the car. I tossed in Biscuit and we drove across town to class. Halfway there Monkey was fast asleep. She slept through the whole class and the ride home. She slept as I changed her into her pajamas and tucked her into bed. She's still asleep. Bliss.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Dear Lord...

What is with all the spam comments??? Who came up with that brilliant marketing tool? Someone should find out their address and t.p. their house. Seriously.

And Gigi Makes Two

Nobody told me that having a border collie was like having another three year old in the house. Actually that's a lie. I think I read that somewhere and chose to ignore it. Foolish me. But then she looks at me with those big eyes and tilts her head to one side and I forgive her for being a wild crazed beast.

Two things Gigi can do that the Monkey can't: She can jump over my head and she can be spayed (I don't think that's an option for the Monkey...).

The newest member of the household is responding well to positive training and is sitting and doing a down. She seems to be easier to potty train than the Monkey, so there is hope.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Another Weekend Gone

Let's see. This weekend was overly busy. We adopted Gigi, who is fitting in nicely. It's very funny to watch her experience new things. She obviously wasn't allowed inside before. Hardwood floors terrified her the first two days. The television is very interesting, as is the computer keyboard. House training is going well. And she sleeps in a crate at night. She has no manners on a leash, but fortunately isn't a big tugger. She's learned sit and down. She's also figured out that string cheese (her new favorite treat) comes from the fridge. Considering we had house guests all weekend, she is doing very well.

Jim & Beth, our long time friends, came up with their little boy for a visit this weekend. We did a lot of hanging out downtown and sitting on the front porch. Their little guy got to pick blueberries and cherry tomatoes with Monkey. He was also quite fascinated by the chickens.

On Saturday morning we took them along for our favorite routine - breakfast at the French bakery followed by a trip to the farmer's market. We bought more goat cheese, steaks for dinner, bacon for Sunday's breakfast, oyster mushrooms, eggs, and fresh honey. Summer is here and the living is easy...

Monkey starts school this Wednesday. We are in the final preparation stage. She's pretty excited. I'm a little nervous.

Oh, and we canned 12 pints of green beans, 6 pints of peach jam, and 9 pints of salsa.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Call Me An Idiot

But how could anyone resist? I'm a sucker for big brown eyes and the fleet of foot. What can I say?

Say hello to the newest member of our family. The Monkey has christened her "Gigi". And you must say it with a soft "g" and an inflection at the end. Monkey must have learned French in the womb. I'm not sure if it's a truly appropriate name for a border collie, but we put it on her name tag, so that's it. She'll just be "Gee" for all official training purposes.

Gigi is about a year old. We decided to adopt her with maybe a little to little introspection. But, she needed a home and we could give her one. And any dog is pretty gosh darned lucky to end up as one of our dogs. It will be a brand new world for her from this day forward. Hey, she sure is sweet, she loves Monkey and she will be my next agility champion. And if not an agility superstar, she'll make one damn fine chicken herder.

I'm in love.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Ho Hum

It looks like it will be raining all day. In some ways this is good. I have a lot of house cleaning to do before our friends arrive tomorrow for a visit. Lots of house cleaning. If it weren't raining I would find some excuse to be outside. I don't have to look far. So this morning it's clean, clean, clean (ah, the drudgery).

This afternoon I need to make a run to the library with the Monkey (Sometimes, I wish she were a real monkey, because then that would be just too cool - "I'm taking my monkey to the library"). Just picture a small blonde child with big blue eyes wearing a little red fez and fringed red vest maniacally clapping a pair of small brass cymbals together...

I've also started creating my own blog roll over there in the side bar. It will be growing. I'm not too sure about the etiquette of the thing. Should I ask first? Should I just do it? I hope to figure it out soon.

For now - On to sweeping, mopping, toilet cleaning and laundry. Hooray!!!

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

What I Want To Do:

Bake a couple dozen flourless peanut butter/oatmeal/peanut and chocolate chip cookies and eat every last one of them.

What I will do:

Pop some popcorn and eat it lightly salted.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

I Love Free Stuff

These seeds came with an order I had made for my fall garden. I can't wait to try these tomatoes next spring. I'll be planting Rouge d'Hiver lettuce and arugula today. Unfortunately the Black Spanish and China Rose radishes were out of stock. I guess I'll be planting more French Breakfast instead.

For Your Viewing Pleasure

I realize that I haven't posted many pictures lately. Here's the view over coffee this morning at around 7:25. I hope you enjoy.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Weekend Round Up

This weekend we:

  • Went to the North Asheville Farmers Market and bought goat cheese rolled in cracked black pepper from the Spinning Spider Creamery, eggs, and pork chops from Spring House Meats,
  • Visited Animal Haven and their new thrift store,
  • Picked blueberries and made blueberry muffins,
  • Went to lunch with friends,
  • Mowed the lawn,
  • Picked loads of tomatoes and made salsa,
  • Babied the chickens,
  • Started the last step of refinishing Monkey's big girl bed.
  • And listened to the Monkey talk and babble non-stop.

Animal Haven is an animal rescue in Asheville. If you check out the adoption page you will see two dogs that I just fell in love with. I am especially in love with Blue, an Irish Wolfhound/Terrier (yes, just imagine that breeding...). He and his brother, Black, were rescued and then "enrolled" in a dog training program at the Black Mountain Women's Correctional Facility. They passed with flying colors and are now up for adoption fully-trained. Big Daddy reminded me to be realistic and realize that I didn't need a dog quite so large and that I was looking for a pure bred this time to train for agility, obedience, and tracking. He sure was sweet though and he really isn't THAT big...

Thursday, August 11, 2005

A Little Ray of Sunshine

I was gone all day to a dog agility training seminar. When I came home there was the missing hen, Blanche, sitting outstide the coop under a pumpkin vine. She spent all night by herself somewhere in the woods. Her's must have been a very harrowing close call as she is missing quite a few feathers, but physically she seems fine. She seemed quite grateful to be caught and placed back in the safety of the coop.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

"Well, the meds must be working because I can't imagine what you'd be like right now if they weren't," said Big Daddy. "You didn't hear me crying like a baby until I couldn't breath, " I replied.

Big Daddy is away on business in Virginia. Monkey and I are at home. We had a rather pleasant day up until dinner time. We were planning to go to my weekly dog training session in about an hour when I looked outside and noticed that everything was very quiet. No crowing. No gentle cackles. There were just lifeless forms littering the front yard. Minutes before I had seen the neighbor's German Shepherd. I ran down into the yard I found my little hen, Penny, mauled, but still alive. Then I found one of the Polish hens, then Jimmy, the Polish rooster. Next it was Stella, the Wyandotte and then one of my lovely Black Australorps. I broke down.

I called and called, and finally the survivors started to come out of the woods. First Mooney, the Hamburg rooster flew out of a tree. Then the two Australorps, Colette and Gigi, came out of the woods with Ruby, the Rhode Island Red and Rufus, the Wyandotte rooster. Next I could hear cackling in the woods and went in search of the others. Pruett and Beatrice, lovely Dominiques that they are, came to my voice and clucked nervously as I led them back to the coop. While leading them out through the underbrush I found my other Polish hen dead. I kept hearing a scared and nervous cackle from the far side of the creek and finally located Rosalind. It took an awful lot of calling to get her back. The two other Dominique hens, Heloise and Miranda, crept out of cover with Curly the rooster. Finally Jack, my favorite, came out limping slightly with almost all of his fabulous tail feathers missing. I'm still missing Blanche, the Wyandotte, and fear she is dead.

Penny's entire right thigh was basically skinned and she couldn't walk. I had to do the only thing I could and put her out of her misery. Considering how I had broken down earlier, I surprised how calm I became. It crushes my heart to think about it now, but at that moment I was filled with calm and reserve. I did it as quickly as I could and I hope she didn't suffer too much.

My nerves are completely shot right now. Although Big Daddy is probably right. Those little blue pills must be working because I didn't throw or break a thing. I managed to have a rather even-keeled discussion on the phone with the neighbor, who has offered to pay for the chickens. It won't bring them back, but I think he is genuinely upset as well. Who wants to think that their pet is a killer?

I am weak and couldn't seem to dig a hole big enough for six chickens. So tonight as it was getting dark I built a funeral pyre and laid the fallen comrades to rest on the flames. Perhaps I'm trying to find some humor to lessen my grief because I have to tell you that the smell coming fire was like a barbecue from heaven. I think I'll have myself a nice cold beer in their memory and head off for a warm bath. If you can, raise a toast to some sweet poultry whose lives ended way too soon. And I promise to keep a rather watchful eye on the survivors so that they may stay safe and healthy.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

To Do

  1. Clean chicken house. check.
  2. Weed and prepare 3 rows for fall veggies. check.
  3. Allow the Monkey to wear her pink princess dress, tights and black patent leather shoes (on the wrong feet) to avoid time-consuming and illogical argument with three year old. check.
  4. Make tomato sauce and can. will have to wait until tonight.

I also managed to order seeds for the fall garden.

Piedmont Corn Salad
Rembrandt Spinach
Provencal Mesclun Mix
Winterbor Kale
Rouge d'Hiver Lettuce
Round Black Spanish Radish
China Rose Radish

I hope they arrive soon. I am covered in mud and indescribable chicken ick, so I think I shall go freshen up a bit.

Monday, August 08, 2005

It's a beautiful day for a rain shower!

That's what the Monkey said to me as we were leaving the grocery store. And she is right as always...

Rainy Days and Mondays

It rained all day yesterday. Monkey and I never got to the Village Art and Craft Fair. Big Daddy did bring home a present though. He bought me a coffee mug to add to my growing collection. That means another mass-produced mug I get to toss!

I spent the day cleaning and doing laundry and catching up on magazine reading. My mother-in-law gave us a subscription to Mother Earth News for Christmas. The August/September issue is full of articles that I actually enjoyed reading. An article on the real food revival made me think of Jamie's month of local foods. Another article cited a magazine-based study of cholesterol in free-range eggs. It states that in the study free-range eggs had half the cholesterol of factory raised hens' eggs. And I thought they just tasted so much better! I also learned that there are native bees that only pollinate flowers in the squash family. A description for Golden Corn Salad (Valerianella eriocarpa) has me itching to order some seeds for the fall and winter garden. Mother Earth News is sometimes a little crunchy for my sensibilities, but this issue had a lot to offer.

It is still raining today - a somewhat nasty fine drizzle that shows now sign of abating. I would like to be outside planting another row of beans and starting some lettuce, but it looks like I'll have lots of time to clean the office instead.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Weekends are Relaxing, Right???

This is the weekend of the Village Art and Craft Fair. Our church provides all the food. Parishioners spend weeks before baking bread, cooking meats, making cookies and cakes to sell. All profits are then donated to local charities. It's a good thing, but a busy thing. Big Daddy is spending the weekend grilling hotdogs for sale. In the past they were boiled in the kitchen. Big Daddy would have none of that. Apparently his new system is working because they ran out of hot dogs yesterday and sold more by 2 o'clock than they had sold the entire festival last year.

While BD was doing the cooking thing I was running around town with the Monkey. First we had a soccer game. Then we went to Monkey's new school to volunteer some time. In the true spirit of Montessori parents are asked to donate about 40 hours of volunteer time to the school each school year. I scrubbed the porch and mowed the lawn and knocked three hours out. Monkey played on the playground with her new friends and got unbelievably filthy. She was very happy. We came home and I worked in the garden for a couple more hours with the help of the uppity chickens. A couple are learning that if they follow me, I toss them bugs and tasty weeds (their favorite is wood sorrel).

Today BD has already left to go back down to the fair. I think Monkey and I may go down later. It's drizzling right now so I'm planning a swift cleaning of the house. If it clears up we'll head out to check out the art and BD's cooking. The only problem with the art fairs in this area is that there is an extreme amount of pottery. I would love to buy handmade plates and bowls to use everyday, but my budget right now won't allow it. So I tend to get all forlorn and collect potter's cards and wish I had more moolah. I am thinking though that I could start a very interesting mix and match collection by buying one or two pieces at a time and tossing out the old mass-produced dinnerware as I get pretty handmade things. Hmm, that might be a plan - I could support other artists and end up with an interesting collection.