Sunday, December 25, 2022

Queen - Thank God It's Christmas (Official Animated Video)

I posted this a couple years ago, and just had to put it up again. I can never hear it enough. Warms my soul and breaks my heart at the same time.

Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Christmas sheep

The Christmas sheepys. You can see we have no snow! The real sheep aren't complaining because they are still doing some grazing in the pasture.

Thursday, December 1, 2022

Frank Sinatra & Ella Fitzgerald - Moonlight In Vermont

This is a beautiful version of the song "Moonlight in Vermont". Here's something cool I learned on a jazz radio show. I was amazed to learn that each verse is a haiku. From the dictionary: a Japanese poem of seventeen syllables, in three lines of five, seven, and five, traditionally evoking images of the natural world.

Friday, November 18, 2022

Quote du jour/Ross MacDonald

The walls of books around him, dense with the past, formed a kind of insulation against the present world and its disasters.
     Ross Macdonald

I came upon these words near the end of my book, The Diary of a Bookseller, and they rather stopped me in my reading. I am very struck by the truth of them when it comes to my own life. My books are indeed a kind of "insulation". Looking at a shelf, or taking out a particular book seems to soothe me when the world is a bit much. I so don't understand this new trend I've read about where people want all their music on a phone and their books on a Kindle. What must their homes, their "insulation" look like? And this other trend of simplicity and spareness is beyond me. I love my books, records, CDs, DVDs, pictures, photographs, cookbooks, recipe boxes, old worn furniture. They are the signs of me, of my life, of who I am. That "I am", period. Not that I necessarily have to have them to be a real person, but they are, for me, my heart and soul. 

Have you read anything by Ross Macdonald? I looked him up, and saw the words "hard boiled" and I'm not really one for that kind of book, but I could be convinced to give him a try.

Walking around the house...

Monday, November 7, 2022

Book connections

 Years ago when I read and wrote about The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, I mentioned the way a book you are reading can lead you to others, just by a mention. 

Well, my current print book (on sidebar) is one that the local library email recommended. I immediately signed up for it, and began the book a couple days ago. I have gotten through just a very few pages because I have been caught by so many titles that I have to put the book down and come to the computer to learn more. 

George Orwell's "Bookshop Memories" - an essay I now have on the desktop.

Three Fevers by Leo Walmsley - a title that had me visiting the LW society and reading about his books and his life. And which sent me to Stuck in a Book because I just knew that he would have read this author.  

Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops by Jen Campbell.

The Bankrupt Bookseller Speaks Again by William Y. Darling.

Ian Niall, who was mentioned by the author as having believed that the "land of milk and honey" was Galloway (Scotland) "in part because there was always an abundance of both in the pantry in the farmhouse in which he grew up, but also because, for him, it was a kind of paradise." Well, that certainly caught my interest and I have found in my searching that he is definitely someone I must read. 

All this in five pages! I'm sure there will be more to come in this wonderful book.

Wednesday, November 2, 2022

Quote du jour/from Call The Midwife

 I wish I'd written down the date I began watching all of Call The Midwife on Netflix. It has been a few weeks now. I've put aside The Great British Baking Show (still known to most as GBBO!) and Gardeners' World. It has been a supreme joy to see the episodes one after another. I have filled many post-it notes with quotes.

This is from episode 8 of series 9, spoken by Vanessa Redgrave at the start of the show. 

"When autumn starts to dampen into winter, should we say, 'the nights are getting dark'? Should we thrust our hands into our pockets and anticipate the chill? Or should we say, 'light the fire, draw close, it will not be as cold as you imagine'?"

And at the end of the episode.

"The seasons will always turn, the clouds will gather and the cold will come. We will survive them. We will grow regardless of the weather. We will know wonder where there has been despair. There will be happiness, and we will remember it. There will be friendships which we won't forget. Love is the constant whereby we endure all winters and all storms. It is the climate in which all things can thrive. Welcome the darkness. Embrace it as a canopy from which the stars can hang. For there are always stars when we are where we ought to be, amongst the faces we love best, each with our place, each with our purpose, as fixed and familiar as the constellations. The darkness is beautiful, for how else can we shine."

Saturday, October 1, 2022

Old soldiers and old cleomes

 Old soldiers just fade away
Mick Jagger - "Old Habits Die Hard"

This line from Jagger's song was running through my head today as I walked toward the garden and looked at the cleomes. You may think I am obsessed by them, and I suppose I am a bit.  Even on this first day of October, they have a grandeur as they "fade away".  Amazing flowers.

Sunday, September 25, 2022

Last stewing of the season


Sorry to go on and on, but I like to keep track of the gardens here on the blog. You may just skip over!

Today I just got around to stewing the tomatoes in the last post. Instead of freezing, I'm going to add a jar of crushed tomatoes, strain both the fresh and the canned, and make sauce for supper. Sad to see the season end, but happy to have some for the winter.

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Pretty much the end of the tomato harvest


If you have stopped by recently, you will have seen the chopped tomatoes as my blog header. I've stewed and strained quite a few tomatoes in the past weeks, added a little tomato paste, and frozen them. I look forward to that taste of summer on my pasta this winter. We tried many new varieties this year - some heirlooms. They are so individual both in look and taste. Here is a pic I took a while back.

The ones on the front left are called Purple Cherokee, from seeds found on a Cherokee reservation. They just may be the best tasting tomatoes I've ever eaten. On the front right are Rose de Berne.They are a Swiss heirloom. We didn't get too many, but they were very delicious. On the yellow plate is a super producer with a terrific taste, Moskvich. Not an heirloom yet, but a great tomato from Russia. Not sure what the time table is for declaring a tomato is an heirloom. I think the Moskvich was developed in the 1970s. 

The yellowy orange one is Marmalade, not an heirloom. Great producer and such a beauty. It is really stunning in the garden.

The green and yellow ones are ripe. That is their color. The variety is Green Zebra. I always pronounce the name with the British "Zeb", not the American "Zee" because I first heard of it on Pie in the Sky, one of my most favorite television series. There is an episode where Henry Crabbe makes this delicious looking dish, stuffing a Green Zebra with bread crumbs, parsley, garlic, olive oil, and something else I think I'm forgetting. I was so looking forward to making it, but my Green Zebras just didn't get big enough this year.  Will try again next year (the gardener's motto). The first picture was taken today - maybe the last tomatoes of the season. The little one on the bottom with those grooves is called Costoluto Genovese, an Italian heirloom. What flavor, and I love the grooves - I just cut one section out and eat it! 

We've grown Peacevine cherry tomatoes for years. Next year we may try a few heirloom cherries, too. I bought quite a few from a local farm this summer, and the taste was out of this world. Here is a whimsical picture of them with my colorful bowls.

We did a few different things with our tomatoes this year - one was cutting all the shoots off except the main flowering ones. That was okay, except we didn't get nearly as many tomatoes as other years. Will go back to letting the side shoots flower, until later in the season. I'm always up for trying new ideas, but this one just didn't work out that well. Plus I missed the huge, tall plants we got before.

When I was a kid, I never ate tomatoes - not even tomato sauce. And these summer months, they are all I wanted to eat!

Thursday, September 8, 2022

Death of a Queen

 If you go here, you will see the last picture taken of the late Queen Elizabeth 11. It is the picture many of us saw when we first read the news that she wasn't well, and that family was heading to Balmoral. I would have put it up but it does have a name on it, and I did not want to infringe.

When I first saw it, I thought it was my favorite of all pictures I have seen of her during her long life. She looks like any woman at home. That sweater! Just like any of us might wear, especially those my age or older. It made me smile, even as the news made me fearful.

I know a staunch Irishman, and yet he cared for the Queen. As did so many people, no matter their politics.

I am terribly sad. It feels like someone in my family has died -  a relative I didn't ever see but still loved.

And I'll tell you a weird story. It begins a long time ago. Just before my uncle (by marriage, on my father's side) died, my mother heard three knocks on the window and saw his face there. Then the phone rang with the news. Well, today Tom was at a friend's house. After I had read that the Queen was so ill, I was in the kitchen when I heard three knocks on the front door. Lucy, our yellow Labrador went to the door, as did I. No one was there (and no face). Soon I saw Tom walking from the parking lot to the house. I asked him if he had come to the door and knocked thinking it might be locked. He said no.

The phone didn't ring just after but when I heard those knocks I did fear that she had, or would, die. As far as I know that happened to my mother only once, and this is the first and hopefully only time for me. 

Thursday, September 1, 2022

Quote du jour - Henry David Thoreau; and summer pictures

I began this post in July, and am just getting back to it on this first day of September.

Live in each season as it passes: breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit.
Henry David Thoreau (July 12, 1817-May 6, 1862) Such a short life.

I am living fully in this summer season, and want to share some pictures of the beauty at Windy Poplars Farm. This summer has been spectacular. Everyone I talk to comments on the flowers everywhere. 

The brown-eyed Susans are all over the place. They just pop up and don't care what the soil is like.

Beautiful daylilies

Hollyhocks  - my friend said this color has such an old-fashioned look. It is really achingly beautiful. This is a perennial one that I bought from White Flower Farm years ago. 

And this is one that comes back year after year - just a regular hollyhock. I recently read that if you leave the seedheads on, they will fall off and root the next year. Since I never cut mine down in a timely manner, that must be what happens here.

Now that I am here, and late, I thought I'd post some August pictures, too. This is the side yard on a beautiful morning around 8 am. Not the clearest but that's part of what I like - that misty/sunny look.



                                                                Monarda -
 I finally found one that grows in zone 3. I bought one plant. It grew well last year, though the leaves had mildew. I looked it up and one result was from Martha Stewart who said to never mind it - that it wouldn't hurt the flowers at all. Well, this year, that one plant spread and overtook the entire terrace garden. Some other kinds of plants disappeared, and others were greatly diminished, but that's alright. It is in the mint family after all. Every single minute of the day, these plants have been full of bees and butterflies. 

 I'll end with the pride and joy of Windy Poplars Farm - Cleome, and Amaranth! Last year we grew cleome and it was a lovely, big addition to the vegetable garden. This year, we started seeds inside under the lights, and they again have been beautiful. A surprise for us is that last year's flowers self-seeded, and are actually double the length of the ones we transplanted! What a plant!! And the amaranth came in my CSA bouquets years ago. I asked the grower what it was, and she called it "love lies bleeding." Whatever it is known by it is the weirdest plant we've ever grown. Weird but very wonderful. We will grow both flowers again next year.

I plan to do another post on the vegetables this year. 

And the font changed as I wrote. I didn't do it on purpose. I started with the font of our computer, comic sans, but then it went to something I didn't like. I tried to get CS, but it wasn't offered so I used open sans. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Weights and lengths

 If you grow zucchini, you know that even if you check often there will still be one that you miss until it is overgrown. After our big one was picked today, Hazel said that I should take a picture and put it on my blog! 

When we weighed and measured it, we were kind of bowled over by a couple facts. The zucchini weighed 2.2 pounds and was 13 inches long. 

When Hazel was born, she weighed 2.2 pounds and was 14 inches long. It makes me cry as I write this. She is a miracle, and not for a second do I ever forget it. And here she is today with that zucchini.

Monday, July 18, 2022

Second garlic harvest 2022

 Today we harvested the other two varieties of garlic that Tom planted back in November.

This is Music, a hardneck with big cloves. We got 31 bulbs.

What High Mowing Seeds has to say about it: 

A large, beautiful variety that is easy to grow! Slightly spicy flavor is hot raw and sweet roasted. Originally from Italy.

The third variety is called Chesnok Red.  88 bulbs.

From High Mowing:

From the Republic of Georgia. ("That Georgia's always on mi-mi-mi-mi-mi-mi-mi-mi mind"). 

And here's what the porch looks like! I feel like a queen.

Friday, July 15, 2022

First garlic harvest - 2022

 Tom planted garlic on November 9th of last year, and we have just harvested the first of it called Inchelium Red. This is what the company we buy from, High Mowing Seeds, had to say about this variety:

This widely grown softneck was originally saved by a native population in Washington State and found by Larry Geno on the Colville Indian Reservation.

Softneck means it can be braided, and I am thinking of trying it. I am not naturally "crafty" at all, but I think I will still see if I can do it. I've already found sites that tell me how. 

Drying it just where we did many years ago. We got 29 bulbs.

We have two other varieties which aren't quite ready to pick yet - Music, and Chesnok Red. 

Monday, June 20, 2022

Blur - To the End (Live at Alexandra Palace 1994)


 I love this song. I've been listening to the Parklife album today, and Blur is one of those bands I so wish I had seen.

Friday, June 10, 2022


When we first moved to Windy Poplars Farm in 1981, we heard whippoorwills. This continued for a few years, and then we didn't hear them. I looked back in my emails, and found a few correspondences with the state Audubon Society. In 2002, I found an email I had sent, saying we hadn't heard them in maybe 15 years. The response was essentially that they didn't know. Some had thought change of habitat or decline in moths, but no one knew for sure. I also found an article from a state newspaper around the same time despairing the fact that they just weren't around.  A few years later, we drove north an hour or so, and participated in an Audubon study to see if we heard any whippoorwills. We drove around to several promising spots, but heard nothing. Flash ahead to 2013, and they were here. Again in 2018, they appeared. When I wrote to Audubon, they said there were several people who had also heard them! I have a note that I heard it in 2019. And then an Audubon publication from last year says they are doing well in certain areas of the state. I can certainly attest to that this year! Without fail, for weeks now the whippoorwill has appeared just outside the house. It has been on the roof, in the lilac, and on the terrace. It comes at dusk and dawn. It feels like such an honor. I do have a movie of it, but I haven't been able to put any of my videos on the blog for a long time. You may hear their sound here.
photograph from Cornell Labs.

There is a terrific new article in The Old Farmer's Almanac, here. They quoted Thoreau:

It could mean many things, according to the wealth of myth surrounding this night flyer. The note of the whippoorwill borne over the fields is the voice with which the woods and moonlight woo me.
Henry David Thoreau (1817-62)

Sunday, May 15, 2022

Today's poem by James Russell Lowell

To The Dandelion 
by James Russell Lowell
(February 22, 1819-August 12, 1891)

Dear common flower, that grow'st beside the way,
Fringing the dusty road with harmless gold,
First pledge of blithesome May,
Which children pluck, and, full of pride uphold,
High-hearted buccaneers, o'erjoyed that they
An Eldorado in the grass have found,
Which not the rich earth's ample round
May match in wealth, thou art more dear to me
Than all the prouder summer-blooms may be.

Gold such as thine ne'er drew the Spanish prow
Through the primeval hush of Indian seas,
Nor wrinkled the lean brow
Of age, to rob the lover's heart of ease;
'Tis the Spring's largess, which she scatters now
To rich and poor alike, with lavish hand,
Though most hearts never understand
To take it at God's value, but pass by
The offered wealth with unrewarded eye.

Thou art my tropics and mine Italy;
To look at thee unlocks a warmer clime;
The eyes thou givest me
Are in the heart, and heed not space or time:
Not in mid June the golden-cuirassed bee
Feels a more summer-like warm ravishment
In the white lily's breezy tent,
His fragrant Sybaris, than I, when first
From the dark green thy yellow circles burst.

Then think I of deep shadows on the grass,
Of meadows where in sun the cattle graze,
Where, as the breezes pass,
The gleaming rushes lean a thousand ways,
Of leaves that slumber in a cloudy mass,
Or whiten in the wind, of waters blue
That from the distance sparkle through
Some woodland gap, and of a sky above,
Where one white cloud like a stray lamb doth move.

My childhood's earliest thoughts are linked with thee;
The sight of thee calls back the robin's song,
Who, from the dark old tree
Beside the door, sang clearly all day long,
And I, secure in childish piety,
Listened as if I heard an angel sing
With news from heaven, which he could bring
Fresh every day to my untainted ears
When birds and flowers and I were happy peers.

How like a prodigal doth nature seem,
When thou, for all thy gold, so common art!
Thou teachest me to deem
More sacredly of every human heart,
Since each reflects in joy its scanty gleam
Of heaven, and could some wondrous secret show,
Did we but pay the love we owe,
And with a child's undoubting wisdom look
On all these living pages of God's book.

Sunday, May 8, 2022

Horse Race

I don't believe that there is any sport on earth that tops the Triple Crown horse races. I won't spoil it for you, but if you haven't seen the Kentucky Derby race this year, you can watch it on you tube. I don't think that I have ever seen a more exciting race in my life. I feel lucky to be alive!

Thursday, May 5, 2022

The Kinks - "Waterloo Sunset"

The Kinks page I follow on Instagram says that today is the 55th anniversary of the achingly lovely "Waterloo Sunset". In the video, they are performing on a German TV show in June of 1967. The music critic Robert Christgau once said that it is "the most beautiful song in the English language"!

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

First flowers in the spring flower CSA

 This year we ordered another spring flower CSA (Community Sponsored Agriculture) from the woman who lives in our town. You may read about her from last year, here. She just recently had a baby girl, and is still doing as much as she can on the flower farm, with the help of her husband. She is skipping the farmers' market this year, and "just" doing the weddings which are lined up! Wonder woman, indeed.

Anyhow, the first spring CSA bouquet was available today. Almost all tulips, and three poppies. 

And a few minutes later, they opened!

Sunday, May 1, 2022

Kitchen life

 I feel there is a kind of perfection in starting the vegetable and flower plants in the kitchen. After all, this is the room where most of them will end up - as flowers on the windowsill or vegetables being cooked and eaten.  

We put a drop cloth on the kitchen table when we are planting seeds, or transplanting when they have grown too large for their pots. The big lights are set up in front of a south-facing window with a heat register underneath, and the woodstove a few steps away. This heat has been just perfect for the growing plants. We also have smaller lights on two counters. The kitchen is pretty much "remodeled" for these weeks, but it makes me happy just walking in and seeing all the green. 

Here are some pictures. They aren't awfully good photographs with all that fluorescent light, but I took a few with the lights off as well. 

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Monday, April 4, 2022

Quote du jour/Paul Simon

 I've always loved the entire song "April Come She Will", and I thought I'd use the first part as a quote du jour.

April come she will
When streams are ripe and swelled with rain

This is sure the way it is around here. And in snow country it is the melting snow that swells those streams and rivers. 

I just played the Sounds of Silence album the other day. It is just excellent.You may listen to the song here:

Friday, April 1, 2022

Today's poem by Ogden Nash

As I opened my Susan Branch calendar to April, this delightful poem appeared.

Praise the spells & bless
the charms,
I found April in my arms.
April golden,
April cloudy,
Gracious, cruel,
Tender, rowdy;
April soft in 
flowered languor,
April cold with
sudden anger,
Ever changing, ever true -
I love April, I love you.

"Always Marry an April Girl"
Ogden Nash (1902-1971)

Saturday, March 19, 2022

Quote du jour/E.B. White

The first day of spring was once the time for taking the young virgins into the fields, there in dalliance to set an example in fertility for nature to follow. Now we just set the clocks an hour ahead and change the oil in the crankcase.
E.B. White, "Hot Weather," One Man's Meat, 1944

And now there seems a chance that there just may be no more changing the time on the clocks! 

Tomorrow at 11:33 am, the sun enters Aries and we are officially in spring! 

This is what the last day of winter looked like today at Windy Poplars Farm