Monday, October 27, 2008

A golden morning

I Meant To Do My Work Today
by Richard LeGallienne

I meant to do my work today,
But a brown bird sang in the apple tree,
And a butterfly flitted across the field,
And all the leaves were calling me.
And the wind went sighing over the land,
Tossing the grasses to and fro,
And a rainbow held out its shining hand,

It rained overnight but the sun came out early and warm this morning, bringing with it that rich earthy damp leaves everywhere smell. The fog crept up from the Bay filtering the sunlight in the east, while looking west the sky was brilliant blue against the yellow/rust/green leaves of our
huge linden trees.

A day like this is like a gift, especially with the weatherman predicting rain all day. So I gave in, put aside all my indoor chores and played about in the pond, fishing leaves out with the rake.

This afternoon I did dutifully clean up my studio,(the window up over the woodpile) packing away all the mat and foamcore cutting mess from the summer print production, sweeping up the dust and squirrel poop, (they sometimes get in) So now Im ready to get back to painting. Im officially in winter mode.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Perfectly painless partridge

I used the first recipe I came across on google for Mr P (who arrived unexpectedly in yesterday's post) and it was superb even tho we dont have bacon. Here's the whole recipe for anyone else fortunate enough to be bombarded with crashing partridge:
Preheat oven to 320F or 160 C
*2 partridge
*6 slices unsmoked streaky bacon
*1 lemon
*2 small pats of butter
*4 sprigs of fresh thyme
*2 T redcurrent or or plum jelly
*small glass of white wine or damson gin if you'd like a more raunchy dish
*salt and ground black pepper
1. Cut the lemon in half lengthwise and squeeze each half over a partridge rubbing the juice well into the flesh of the birds.
2. Put half a lemon into the cavity of each bird along with a pat of butter and a sprig of thyme.
3.Spread a tablespoon of red currant or plum jelly over the breast of each bird and put a sprig of thyme on each.
4.Season each bird and wrap with bacon strips, securing the bacon with a toothpick. Place the birds breast side down in a casserole dish. Splosh over the wine and cover the dish tightly. Use foil under the lid for a tight fit.
5.Cook for an hour or so until tender.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Manna from Heaven

This is the third time this has happened...we hear a loud thump, go out to investigate , and theres a dead partridge still twitching , laying under a window. Its my preferred method of hunting really, no birdshot or scary guns involved. Just a recurring delivery straight from the heavens to our house. We had two delivered last fall, half an hour apart and most delicious they were too.

I havent found out if they are just dumb birds and poor navigators or if its a territorial thing, maybe they are purposely attacking a perceived rival when they see their reflection in the glass.

Whatever the reason, its a 5 minute job to skin and clean a partridge, this one will be tomorrow nights supper with baked potatoes and assorted vegetables from the garden...yum!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Art all around us

Nature has always been the finest artist of all. When I was small I had a sort of vision of Nature pouring from a multicolored paintbrush in the hand of God. I'd wake up, go to the window, and there would be a brand new beautiful day like a lovely picture I could run into, just waiting to be explored and experienced. I was blessed with a childhood lived outdoors with freedom from electronic distractions of any kind.
And still the outdoors calls far more insistently than all the backed up chores inside... I came upon this beautiful arrangement of apples just as they fell from the tree near our back door. No carefully staged artists still life could rival its balance, design, repetition with variety, light and shadows, and complimentary colors. Design by Nature....
or Nature by Design ?

So today Ive been gathering up all these free gifts from the sky. Its a very tall ancient neglected apple tree that still bears heavily every second year. The perfect apples go to the cellar for eating fresh, the bruised ones get cut up for baking and frozen, still more go to the juicer for cider and apple jelly, and finally theres a potful turning into applesauce. The kitchen smells richly of apples and cinnamon.

Jimmy has been digging the carrots, a marvelous crop this year, plenty for us and the horses too. Here he is being rude with a bunch of them...

The horses get all the tops, all the small and misshapen carrots, and the ones with grubs in them. The rest get layered with damp peat moss in a big plastic tote box in the cellar where they keep beautifully right through to the next crop.

The horses lined up at the garden fence for the carrot harvest, the best show in the country for them.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The pond takes shape

The first step in the new pond was shoveling a flat shelf more or less level around the perimeter and building up the dam at the far end. We decided on a pond liner because the water wasn't inclined to stay in the hole without it. First some old carpet underlay went in, to protect the rubber liner from any sharp stones underneath. Kind of a battle as water was flowing in at the same time, but three garden hoses siphoning it out as I worked did the trick. Next came the actual liner with a bit of guesswork as to size because as the water depth increases the liner is pressed tightly into every contour of the hole.

It filled up slowly over several hours while I pulled out the wrinkles and helped with the fit. Next day we went off to the beach for a load of flat rocks and then the fun part began, laying the rocks around the shelf perimeter to hold the edge of the liner in place.
You have to do the right kind of dance to settle the stones in place....
Its hard to get stopped with a new project that just keeps suggesting a next and a next step... There was a beautiful piece of flat sandstone we kept aside for a table top. A concrete pedestal that had been kicking about for a decade served as a base and an old bench landed in just the right spot for a cuppa tea by the pond. Now it needs some water plants...and some fish...and a house for the fish..........

Tess seems quite pleased with the new pondscape.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Giant Tess survives the backhoe

I was very nervous about our Tess, the swamp lady and her close proximity to all the backhoe, dirt and gravel chaos. At one point the huge tracks of the backhoe were planted 6 inches from her foot, but because John can turn that beast on a dime she escaped unscathed.

She will be overseeing the work on the new pond, and judging by her bemused expression it appears that she approves, so far.

Tess started out two years ago as a pile of nylon fabric which became a 7 foot long giantess.

She took shape through a series of trials and errors...

Next all her parts were stuffed with wet sawdust and she was assembled in place at the edge of the woods in a lovely ferny place. After a wrapping with chicken wire the fun part began: a coating of local clay all over, and then some sifted compost patted into the clay.

I made her face with concrete, frustrating stuff to sculpt with as gravity has it slumping downwards as it's drying. Two large blue marbles for eyes, some plugs of bluegrass for her hair, some regular watering, and here she is, clothed in her greenery, about to hibernate for her second winter.

The drains are in!

Today the Grand Canyon from the house footing was filled in. This was the trench we had Johnny Mo dig to let the floodwaters from hurricane Hanna out of the basement last month.

The guys put in some BIG drains, way bigger than the previous ones that had backed up and failed us miserably.
Amazing how precise that unwieldly looking bucket/digger can be, dropping a bit of gravel here, a bit there...

And then he smoothed all the topsoil out, going side to side like a spatula in cake frosting.
Meanwhile Jim & I gathered up some flat stones from another unfinished project and hastily rocked up around the far end of the pipe.

Two scoops of the big claw, and voila, instant pond!

Hmmm... the water is not holding, I think the next project is installing a pond liner.