Monday, July 26, 2010

First Heirloom Tomatoes of the Season and an Old Scrap of Paper

The tomatoes are ripening and summer is slipping by quickly. The hot, hot, humid weather we've had for the past month has been a bit out of the ordinary for Nw England but great for the garden. These are the first of the 9 varieties of heirloom tomatoes in the garden. Had a great tomato salad yesterday.

BRANDYWINE (added 8/4)

Flowers for color

I have no motivation to post anything on any serious topic. Summer is that kind of season.  I would prefer to be at the beach for the summer...but then who would care for the garden?

Now, the old scrap of paper......................
June 1971 (To J.V.)

Summers always mix me up.
A sound, a smell, the feel of warm sun on sun-baked shoulders,
body molded to soft hot sand,
half asleep,
a fleeting memory in guise of a dream.

Eight years ago and not something you can get hold of – an
adolescent emotion.
It’s hard to be twenty-three
when you’ve stayed fifteen for eight years,
eight summers.

I think in summer I’ll always be fifteen,
somewhere deep inside.

It’s as if there’s something there
I left unfinished.
Perhaps it was only a sand castle washed away
by a tide come too soon.

Yes, it was something like that.

Monday, July 19, 2010

A World Apart or Haven't They Heard of Feng Shui?

We spent two days driving, two days visiting and two days driving home. So the trip to South Carolina to visit Leon's mom and family was not a true "vacation". Our trips to South Carolina are always interesting though. We marvel at a part of America that is similar in many ways to where we live, but so different too. We have questions like: with a church every eighth mile, how do you choose? I suppose the ability to socialize, to meet neighbors, to swap vegetables and support Palin all play a part. We Catholics in the North do not socialize - the objective is to attend Mass and get out.

Mom does not believe in Feng Shui. Neither do a lot of people down here.  I believe it is considered a heathen religion in parts of the South.

Also, up North we are likely to find a 2 liter can of Olive Oil in the mayonnaise aisle, not Chain Saw Lubricant.  Is it good on salad, or just for deep-fry?

The War will never be over here.

Leon's brother Martin, wife Debbie and great-grandkids live nearby, her daughter Brenda and spousal equivalent Lonni were also coming from Pennsylvania for the weekend, and Leon and I were visiting, so Mom and her housemate John thought it would be nice for the family to go white water river rafting together for her birthday.  They had been on a two-mile river ride before, so made arrangements with a different company this time, expecting a similar excursion.

It ended up that ten of us signed up but the spousal equivalent from PA volunteered to stay behind with their dog Heidi who showed up without a life vest.  Our puppy, Benni came prepared.

Unfortunately we did not bring a camera on the raft trip because water and cameras don't mix well, or should I say cameras in water don't fare well.  So nine of us got fitted with vests, piled into two 8-person rafts and launched into the raging river.  I'm thinking this is a mistake.  The beginning of the trip started with rapids so there was little time to practice our technique.  Benni was hanging on for dear life for the entire eight and a half miles, except for a short stop when we all went ashore to catch our breaths and psych-up for the final class III rapids.  We lost the grand-nephew toward the end and Leon, Brenda and I had to hoist him back into the raft.  The rest of us stayed mostly dry.  You can see our pics on line at MYRIVERPICTURES (see pictures number 457,458,459, 461, 462, and 463).

We did not purchase the three digital photos for $49 emailed or 8x12 prints for $21 each!  (Besides, I have an Apple).

What kind of vines are consuming the Carolinas?

We never even got a group photo of our Birthday get-together.  Here's Leon's brother Martin and s-in-law, Debbie when we stopped for dinner.

One of their grandkids Kevin (Leon's grand-nephew?) and Mom's housemate, John.

Leon and Mom in the new Fit - which was getting a steady 38MPG during the whole trip according to the built-in milage gauge.

Nice sky

Nice flowers

Martin and Debbie's Boat dock on part of Lake Hartwell

The Big Peach from the going-home view.
Well, its good to be home. The puppy did surprisingly well for a long boring ride. We picked tomatoes, broccoli and zucchini to go with our pork chops for dinner. Nice to have garden veggies. Maybe a spot of ice cream before bed. Nice. 

Friday, July 16, 2010

On the Road Again

Here we are traveling South once again.  This time to see Leon's mom who is celebrating her 72nd birthday this weekend.  There is always the inevitable traffic jam, one that could have been avoided if we hadn't tried to avoid the other hold-up due to highway construction. So we did sightseeing in Hazelton, PA.

Benni holding up well despite the delay.
Stopped in Winchester, VA for an overnight - we don't drive endlessly anymore.  It's nice to enjoy some dinner and a leisurely walk after a long day of driving.  
Nice southern architecture in Winchester.

Finding a restaurant can sometimes be a challenge when traveling with a dog on a hot summer day.  We look for outdoor seating or a view of the car if we have to leave the dog with windows open.  But we got lucky in Winchester when we stumbled upon Brewbaker's in Old Town.  When we asked for a table near the fence so that we could keep Bennie near by, we were greeted with, "No problem, bring him into the patio."  The waitstaff appeared with a doggie bowl of ice water before we were even seated.  The waitperson, Tiffany, took our picture.
I can't say enough about Brewbaker's.  It was the best.  Especially after a long hot day in the car.  We ordered a Grilled Chicken Spinach Salad with Raspberry Dressing to share and we each ordered the Grilled Tuna Sandwich.  When Tiffany arrived with two plates of salad, we though she must have misunderstood, but we were hungry so didn't say anything.  When the bill arrived we were surprised to find that we had in fact been charged for only ONE salad but they had served it up in two bowls for us.  This was just too nice.

After enjoying the grilled tuna and a great brew (Magic something) and more ice water, we sat and just took in the ambiance of North Loudon Street - an open air street mall with no cars.  This restaurant was the friendliest place We've been to in a very long time.  If you are in the Winchester, VA area and need a good meal and some honest to goodness southern hospitality - Brewbaker's is the place.  As they say on thier web site:  "Everyone has one goal in mind while working here - "To make you happy!!!!" That's it, plain and simple, no outrageous mission statement, company growth plans, three tier progressive sales programs, just straight forward honest in your face truth "to make you happy." If we do please come back, if we don't please tell us how to make you happy and we will."  
Somewhere in the Carolinas travelers are met with the giant peach:  
Leon and the birthday girl coming out of the "LA CONCHA" ice cream store in Walhalla, SC.
"LA CONCHA" is a Mexican ice cream shop where the ice cream is homemade.  They have a variety of flavors, many of which are Mexican or Tropical fruit flavors.  I had one of their ice cream on a stick varieties: strawberry covered in what had to be a 16th inch of chocolate and then dipped in nuts.  There were real whole strawberries in it and it was like eating ice cream and a chocolate bar together.  What could be better on a hot day in South Carolina.  Unfortunately, Walhalla seems to be a depressed little town and it will be a challenge for this this new mom & pop (or should I say mamá y papá)
ice cream shop to make a go of it.  So at the risk of this post becoming a restaurant review - if you're passing through Walhalla, check out LA CONCHA on South College Street.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


Picked wild blackberries this morning. While I prefer black raspberries, the blackberries are on the hill in back of the house, so ...
Benni was picking too.  Never saw a dog eat a berry let alone pick them. (He ate all his).
Plants on the deck - its been a great growing season.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

More 4 O'Clocks

These all came from the seeds of a single plant that I grew last summer and whose colors were as varied as these.  I'm not sure why, but the 4 O'clock plants are generally not sold in garden shops around here (Northeast) and I had never seen  one 'till last year when I bought a plant at a small farm stand in Colrain, MA.  I am pleased that they are so easy to grow from seed and that they seed prolifically.


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