Thursday, December 3, 2009


Yikes - Thanksgiving has flown by and it's already the first week of Advent. As you can see by the picture on the right, I have a new Advent calendar this year - it's a culinary one and each door will open with a recipe from a German food blogger. Yum ! I can't wait to start baking .

Thursday, November 5, 2009


There has been no hard frost yet and the garden is still going strong - we're still picking Swiss chard, peppers,arugula, beets, carrots and lots and lots of potatoes. In the background cilantro has self-seeded and now covers a huge area - yum !!

The dahlias love the cool nights and the more I cut them for bouquets for the house, the more blossoms seem to open. This beautiful fall just doesn't seem to have an end !

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Trick or Treat

Billy goats, queens and pussy cats - even Sarah Palin promoting her new book - came out last night to celebrate Halloween.

and just look at all those treats they got to choose from !

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Maine !

We spent the night in a delightful Bed & Breakfast called LeVatout in Waldoboro. It's run by a German ( ! ) writer and an American photographer and gardener extraordinaire. The two of them have created an incredible garden filled with an amazing array of plants, all of them tucked in many garden rooms and secret corners. There are places to sit and relax, a fire pit, a vegetable garden, a little building with a stage for workshops and lots more. All of this on less than an acre, but it feels like the garden is at least 5 acres in size.

Inside, the house is just as wonderful as the garden with lots of rooms and corners to explore. Just look at our room, it had a wonderful bookshelf with lots of books by and about Virginia Woolf among other authors. Someone loves books and loves to read !!
And best of all, the writer is also a fabulous cook . We enjoyed her shrimp and egg breakfast tremendously in her huge kitchen which is in the center of the house - truly the heart of this home. The gardener came in and joined our breakfast conversation and when I admired the bank of blooming streptocarpus in the window, she gave me two of her plants which are about to flower. I was so blown away by her generosity. Here they are on the balcony of our hotel room enjoying the view of the ocean.

We spent the day poking up and down some of the peninsulas near Waldoboro, enjoying the glorious fall weather, the ocean, the woods which already are changing color and the fine old buildings you can glimpse on small country roads and in the little villages as well.The old boat builders had not only high standards for the boats they made, but their houses as well. The architectural details and the craftsmanship are probably unique in their excellence and artistry.
The day concluded with the obligatory lobster dinner. Totally delish - 'nuff said.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

First day of fall in New England

and it's time to celebrate by taking a little trip to one of the many used book stores in the area.

After a lovely drive along the Connecticut river on a winding country road through fields where pumpkins and squash were being harvested and turning left at Montague Center just past the village green, I found a little bridge and then this old mill - just stuffed full of lots and lots of books - heaven !

Lots of cozy chairs and sofas invite you to get comfy, have a cup of tea and enjoy the rushing water just outside the window while you try to decide how to reduce the stack of books to a manageable size to take home.

I can't think of a better way to welcome the new season !

Monday, September 21, 2009

The morning after

Now that the euphoria and excitement of the workshop has worn off a bit, I am breaking out in a cold sweat thinking about Mr. T's fabulous, valuable, and much-loved Civil War book. I totally took it apart, ripped off its covers, pasted and sewed things and now I have to put it all back together and make it look better than before.

What was I thinking ? People charge hundreds of dollars to do this job ! Why didn't I stick with the ratty old hymnals everyone else was practising on ?

Time to call on my inner Obama and cry " Yes We Can !"

Sunday, September 20, 2009

GAS workshop

What a weekend ! We took books apart, put them back together, learned how to line out, make a new corner, discussed Moriki , guillotines, Davie boards and tight English and generally had a grand time. All this took place at a workshop for book restoration at the Garage Annex School in Easthampton, MA.

I was the least experienced in the class and was totally overwhelmed the first day. All the other students were experienced and knowledgeable and both my teachers gave us an incredible amount of material to learn. But this morning I thought " This isn't rocket science - I can do this ! " and jumped right in and did a full reback of Mr. T's favorite Civil War book, which is the fat book in the last picture.

It's amazing what a change in attitude can do - suddenly I was having a ton of fun and all the new information made sense. There's a tremendous moral here : just a slight change in outlook can affect you in a major way ! I can't wait to get home and work on all of my books. French joints anyone ?

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The busy summer has flown by and fall is here. School started yesterday and we are so proud of our very own first grader ! Here she is holding her Schultuete,a German tradition to sweeten the first day of school. The Schultuete contains candies, little presents , school supplies like a pencil case, cool erasers, magic markers - you get the idea. Judging by the size of this Tuete, R's school career should be very sweet.
And yes, the first day was great - according to reliable reports the girls had so much fun they didn't want to go home !

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Yikes !!

In all my years of driving, I have never seen 2 cars totally ablaze in a short period of time. What's going on ? There didn't seem to be any apparent cause for the fires - the cars were simply stopped by the side of the road , completely engulfed in flames. And what's even stranger, there were no fire engines, emergency vehicles, or bystanders - just one single policeman directing traffic.And we never saw any fire engines or police cars speeding to the disaster sites, even though both wrecks were on major interstates !

What a strange start to our little mini vacation.

Monday, July 27, 2009


monkeying around ...

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


I love old cemeteries and there was a particularly nice one across the street from our Bed & Breakfast this weekend.

Since this is Vermont, the headstones are made of marble and still very well preserved. Most of them are from the 18th and 19th century. Here's a cheerful angel with a big heart; are the two doves on either side added to give additional uplift to the dear departed as she wings her way up to heaven ?

Love the little bosom of this one
A rather dour and grumpy face, but check out what's under the chin. I suppose it's supposed to be wings, but I interpret it as a big bow tie., especially since there's a neat row of buttons underneath.

Pretty flowers and a little billet doux - is she taking it with her to send a note back once she gets there ?

The inscription over the face reads " Remember Death " , but when I visit all those graves, I remember Life.
I like to imagine all the stories of the people who are buried there, what made them happy and what made them sad . Often you can piece together the story of someone's life by the surrounding stones - a baby who died or several small children taken from their families by what illness ? Often there are husbands who mourn their wives , but keep on marrying again and again. What dramas were lived, what gossip and meanness is buried here, what quiet, sometimes noble lives were played out in this little village ?

Their headstones , carved and placed with such care and - I believe in most cases - love, call out " Remember me, remember that I was alive, don't forget me..."

Monday, July 20, 2009

Our weekend trip

Judging by this picture, you would think we took a quick trip to Italy this weekend, wouldn't you ? But instead we went to New York and visited Kykuit, the marvelous Rockefeller summer house , overlooking the Hudson.

Three generations of Rockefellers came here for the summer to get away from the city heat and to enjoy golf on their private golf course and riding and driving their horses. Some of their vast fortune was spent on collecting art - most surprisingly, modern art. The entire basement of the house is an art gallery filled with all the modern greats - Picasso, Miro, Calder, Motherwell, Warhol, Grace Hartigan - it's an amazing collection.

There's lots of sculpture outside as well and we could have spent hours exploring the grounds, but we needed to move on - we had reservations in Vermont that night at this charming Bed & Breakfast.

And just look what's next door - the annual Library Book Sale !! Of course we had to hit that the next morning and came away with a big box full of goodness.
And then it was time for the real reason for this trip - the wedding !

The setting and the weather were perfect

The bride was lovely, the groom handsome and the ceremony made me cry - so many hopes, expressed so earnestly and with such feeling and so much love and fond good wishes surrounding this young couple who is taking their place in the long chain of people who came before - all of them bravely taking that step together into the unknown.

Some very funny speeches were made

lots of socializing took place and then the dancing began !

Could this be a little breakdance action on the side ?

And then a wedding cake appeared - what a wonderful party ! I think the expression on the children's faces says it all.

Crisis Management

I was all set to post about our fabulous weekend away from the farm, but instead I've just finished dealing with a veterinary crisis of major proportions - I'll spare you the details, but it made a grown man turn green and faint ! Real tragedy was averted , however, and the clean-up took only 8 hours - sigh.
Now to clean myself up and then I'll be back with some lovely pictures of our grown-up, non-farm weekend getaway.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Buster gets company at 5:30 AM

For Rhys

Three Ponies
Arthur Guiterman

Three little ponies who didn't like their hay

Said to each other "Let's run away!"

Said the first "I will canter!"

Said the second "I will trot!"

Said the third "I will run if it's not too hot!"

And they all started off

With their tails in the air.

But they couldn't jump the fence

So they're all still there.

Except this time they made it - from the farm across the valley all the way to our house.
P.S. They liked our hay just fine.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Short trip, long post

Yesterday my travels took me not so far, just " next door " to Philadelphia where the Pennsylvania Horticulture Society, known as PHS, took us on a tour of green spaces which they have created in partnership with the city and neighborhood organisations.
The rain poured down, but we boarded our trolley and off we went. Like all big cities, Philadelphia has abandoned lots, which are strewn with trash and worse. They are eyesores and dangerous places. Simply cleaning the space up, seeding it with grass , planting the odd tree or two and enclosing the whole with a rail fence, has made a huge difference to neighborhoods. Not only because of the aesthetics, but the space is now safe and usually becomes a public space where the social life of the neighborhood can take place . Some spaces were used to grow beautiful vegetable gardens - the excess produce is even being given back to the community food bank !
The green space also alleviates rainwater run-off because it absorbs the rain before it rushes into the sewer system , an appropriate topic yesterday. Usually property values increase as well . A win/win situation created with only a minimal input of money.

Rainwater management was a big topic and we could see it in action, as in this special teaching installation at a school.

The drainpipes from the rain gutter snake across the wall in a wonderful pattern, like a gnarled old vine. Some of the sections are made of clear pipe, so you can watch the water rushing down. The rain is funneled into a concrete collection basin ( barely visible to the left of the long windowbox ) at the ground , which is divided by strips. This dissipates the water on to the paved patio and channels it into the planted beds surrounding the space.

The best stop came last, however. We visited a small, 20 acre park , high on a hill overlooking the city and the Schuylkill river. Members of the neighborhood organisation which takes care of the park met us to give us a tour and tell us about all the changes which they have made with the help of PHS, the city and a lot of their own hard work. There were open grassy spaces, stately old trees, new plantings, the requisite playground, a gazebo where a wedding was about to take place in the pouring rain !!! and a marble memorial to the fallen soldiers of WW I.

The park was given to the city in the 19th century and was a happy place, used by lots of people. After many years, it fell into disuse and became a dangerous place where drugusers and pushers lurked in the overgrown vegetation. It was so bad, that it was known in the neighborhood as Pill Park. When I asked what happened to turn this terrible situation around, I got the most astonishing answer.

Two people whose houses bordered the park simply started to cut the overgrown grass and to clean the place up. That's it, simply two people making a start. And today the space is the focal point of the neighborhood, there are concerts in the gazebo, children play on the playground, there is a big vegetable garden in a corner, a fundraiser to support soldiers in the Middle East was being announced , in short, it has become an important part of the community once again and all because of those two people who took action, no matter how small.

I ended my trip to Philadelphia by a visit to an art supply store where I scored not only lots of terrific bookmaking stuff, but - oh joy - there just happened to be a bookmaking demo and I made a little book with Coptic stitching. Now doesn't that make your heart feel all warm and happy ? It did mine ! Gardens and books - what a great day.