Thursday, March 27, 2008

Sure Signs of Spring

I know it's really Spring now!  Today I noticed the first bees of the season, milling over my crocus blooms in the front border.  The bees seem happy and lethargic, oblivious to everything else except that glorious pollen in the flower's cup.  Another sure sign of Spring happened earlier this week when my son's Easter kite picturing  Taz, got caught in the top branches of our front yard maple. I retrieved it yesterday after an overnight wind released it, too tattered for future flights.  We've replaced it with another high flier with a T-rex on front. It's harder to stay behind the drawing board when the weather beckons to me to come outside.  Yesterday, I continued putting a rock border along the front of my small garden site in the front yard. I love playing with rocks!

Rock Border Continued   Spring crocus

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Easter preparations

We always color Easter eggs on the Saturday before Easter Sunday.  When I was young, Mom always set up the card table in the kitchen, covered it with newspaper, boiled 8-10 eggs and filled custard cups with the vinegary solution into which we dropped the fizzy dye tablets.  I don't remember my oldest brothers coloring eggs since they were 11 and 12 years older than I was, but I do remember my brother, Gary, who was 9 years older, writing on the eggs with a clear, waxy crayon before we dyed them, and sometimes he got creative with double dipping the eggs into the colors to make stripes, etc. Now my kids like to color the eggs and I like to set up the area, ready for them to continue the tradition. This year, we dyed 18 eggs, so I bet we'll have some devilled eggs for Easter dinner tomorrow! (It's fun to color them, but who likes to eat, cold boiled eggs?"Not I," said the bunny!).One of my sons wondered how the tradition of coloring eggs came to be connected to Easter. I think the custom originated as a rite of Spring and fertility and was adopted by the Christians, but I'll have to Google it, if I want to find out for sure. I do  know that the vinegar smell of the dye, reminds me of the vinegar offered to Christ to quench his thirst as he suffered for us on the cross.( I think we add vinegar to set the color, but again, I may be wrong.) I know I'll continue to dye eggs at Easter time long after my youngest leaves home, because it's a lovely ritual, that's part of our family tradition.


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Thursday, March 20, 2008

Happy 1st Day of SPRING!

It's finally Spring! The weather remains chilly and damp but my mind races ahead, anticipating milder days to come. Signs of Spring are everywhere: Canada geese honk overhead, large clans of blackbirds settle momentarily in treetops like perfectly scattered flecks of burned paper, and new tips of Spring flowers shove up from the ground like antsy school children, clustered around the classroom door, waiting to be released for the day. 

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Saturday, March 15, 2008

Flour in the News

Boy!  I had sticker shock last time I went to the store and saw the price of flour!  At the Giant which has pretty reasonable overall prices, a small bag cost about $1. 87. I haven't priced flour at our local store yet, but I'm sure it's even higher. Before Christmas you could buy flour on sale for around a dollar a bag. I gave D a 20 pound bag of flour for his  February birthday, more as a joke than for economy's sake, but now I wished I'd purchased several.  

As I understand it, as third world countries become more prosperous, the general population starts desiring more products made from wheat instead of  their traditional foods.  Supplies of wheat are also smaller because more farmland is being used for corn for ethanol production... We may be talking about the "Good ole days" and be referring to last year, instead of a generation ago. 

The ripple effect will be felt as the prices of bread, pizza, cakes, etc. rises. I did make a batch of homemade rolls and cinnamon buns today- trouble is, they go really fast, fresh out of the oven. Some people claim that food made from white flour isn't as good for you- the economy may force us to rethink our eating patterns.  It's hard to change, if you're used to a lifetime of eating one way, but it's not impossible.  I will now get down off my soapbox and return to the drawing board!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Spring in a box and on the drawing board

The urge to root around in the soil is stronger everyday. D points out I'm not so much a gardener as a planter. Can't wait to get my hands dirty and have perpetually dirty fingernails. My order of seeds arrived in the mail from Shumways- first time I ever ordered from them- I usually order seeds from Pine Tree Seeds in Maine but they didn't send me a catalog this year ( Maybe I'm not a big enough spender to warrant the price of sending a new catalog via the mail). Finished my drawing of Charlie's barn and garden. Looked through some old photos and found some nice Spring flower photos- will try to draw them-trying a little different format than my usual style.

Hope in a box (new seeds)
New drawing


Wednesday, March 12, 2008

New snow on snowdrops

Originally uploaded by Farmhouse Greetings
Woke up this morning and saw a thin blanket of snow covering the landscape.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Lost Garden

Lost Garden
Originally uploaded by Farmhouse Greetings
This drawing commemorates my garden that perished as a result of the June 27, 2006 flood. I gardened this patch of land since 1980. 150 dump truck loads of rock were hauled from our property due to a rip and tear stream action that relocated the nearby stream next to our home's foundation, and dumped a mountain of rocks in our yard. RR contractors helped us with the removal and trucked in 15 loads of clay which we have reseeded. It looks like a spacious park now. This drawing iluustrates the April page of my 2008 calendar.

Spring Fever

Even though the temperature's still chilly, I had to get out and play a little outside.  I pulled some debris away from the front border and discovered more snowdrops blooming, and uncovered some crocus pushing up through the frozen earth. Pulled a few clumps of grass, and dumped a wagonful of weeds on the compost. Looked at last years garden site and discovered the ground's still frozen, then checked out my small plot on the front of the site of my former garden that was destroyed by the flood/rock slide of 2006. 


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Anyway, Saturday's all day rain reminded us of the flood, especially when we heard rocks tumbling down the creek bed.  The creek's bank eroded some which we'll try to bolster with rocks over the next few months whenever we feel like doing some heavy labor. I found the newly deposited rock island in front of the road culvert, where the creek tunnels under Route 7 and spent a good hour sloshing about happily, carting away chunky creek rocks to create a couple small, stone walls to connect my two raised beds on the aforementioned memorial plot. What a nice way to start the Spring gardening season, under vivid blue skies, so full of promise.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

American Robin

American Robin
Originally uploaded by Farmhouse Greetings
When Joe and I waited for the bus this morning we spotted our first two robins on the slope between the road and the old apple tree. The air is almost balmy!

What this bag lady carries

These are the flowers I've been giving away

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Philadelphia Flower Show

 Made my annual pilgrimage to the Philadelphia Flower Show yesterday.This year's theme was Jazz it up- a tribute to New Orleans. Personally, I think the theme limited the displays because the decorators tended to keep their  colors along the lines of lime greens and shades of purple, and many of the displays looked somewhat glitzy. Of course, many displays tried to give the impression of music, exuberant, decadent,  celebratory... it's downright hard to express music visually. It's something you feel through your other senses. Anyway, the whole experience was fun as always (although I missed the ladies in the big hall, passing out free packets of seeds- another sign of the slowing economy?).  My favorite part of the show was viewing the wall of understated, very controlled, very exquisite botanical illustrations, and seeing the work area of the demonstrating illustrators. I bought another t-shirt to add to my collection, and roses, priced at $9.99 for 25! I'm having fun giving them away- to the diner gang, my folks, and R.

Dutch displayMy favorite part of whole show

Flower show sceneRoom to grow

 After looking at the displays, and people watching, went over to the Reading Terminal Market, what sensory overload!  Every baked good, relish, fish, spice, deli meat and cheese imaginable was on display. Ordered a roast beef hoagie with everything on it, had a bottle of Hank's root beer, and later, an apple dumpling. Chatted a little with some ladies from Delaware.

Baked goods galoreInside the terminal

 Took a bus tour around the city: seems that Philadelphia boasts a lot of firsts-- ie). First hospital,biggest penitentiary, Federal Reserve Bank, First Library, Mint, tons of art museums, yadda, yadda, yadda. I sure would like to see all the incredible murals on the sides of buildings .  Years ago, a minister started MAP- Murals around Philadelphia, in an attempt to cut down on graffiti, and it has proven successful. Lots of public art and statues around the city. Some ladies from Florida commented on how friendly everyone seemed.

Cool!!!!!Cool tarp

When we left the city, the bus passed the shipyards with huge complex looking, solid gray ships,  The Philadelphia Blazers stadium and miles of housing units packed together.  The road was elevated above the roof lines, and in the smoggy, gray haze of evening, I half expected to see Bert and all his gang of chimney sweeps (straight from Mary Poppins)  jumping from roof to roof. All I really saw was the constant flow of traffic, a river of red taillights, stretching away from us and a tide of white headlights surging toward us.  At one point, counted six lanes of traffic, flowing side by side in the same direction. 

Monday, March 3, 2008

Waiting for Spring

The amaryllis continues to greet us when we pass by the kitchen table and the hardy snowdrops bloom despite the snow and ice.  Yesterday, I made a couple of snowbuddies to welcome March.I've been working on a calendar drawing for 2009 of Charlie's barn.


School colors

Light Amaryllis

Snow friends

Chickadee feeding

Charlie's barn, in progress

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Amaryllis In Bloom

One of my three Christmas Amaryllis is finally blooming in the kitchen this week- a welcome sight as we patiently wait for Spring's arrival
Amaryllis Mugshot Christmas Amaryllis Open at Last