Milestones, and the Dreaded Personal Pronouns

Milestones and the Dreaded Personal Pronouns

This blog post is going to be a lot about * me, and I.* (**dreaded personal pronouns)  I am not entirely comfortable with that, but it is a personal blog, after all. Plus, I have had some little victories lately and I want to celebrate them.

2016 single-2
this year’s syrup label

WordPress notified me the other day of my second blogging anniversary!   I began blogging in 2014 with the onset of maple sap season. It’s that time of year again and we have thus far gathered about 30 gallons of sap.  In 2014 we managed to make quite a bit of syrup. Not so much in 2015, and despite our best efforts we had some crystallization of the syrup after we decanted. We’re curious about what this year’s kooky weather patterns will do to us, but so far so good. The temperatures over the weekend were well above average, day and night. The week before that we were way below average and very snowy. Now we are settling into a more typical pattern for this time of year: above freezing during the day and below freezing at night. This is most conducive to sap flow.

I have worked these past two years to improve my photography and better understand my camera. When I look at my photo of sap from 2014,

Sap flowing from the maple tree into a collection bucket
2014

and the one from this year,

Spile
2016

I am encouraged. I have done a lot of reading and experimentation, taken some tutorials and a class, and think it has all helped.¬†¬† It‚Äôs far easier these days for me to get the shot I want. I still have to take a lot of exposures, and there are still times when I goof and forget stuff, but I‚Äôve graduated to full manual mode and the histogram is my friend. When I forget to properly set my ISO and white balance, I can usually ‚Äúfix it in post‚ÄĚ which is Adobe Lightroom.

Last year one of my ‚Äúpromises‚ÄĚ was that I would knit a sweater. I did not get to that sweater in 2015. This was mostly due to needing to complete a huge cable knit throw that I started way back in 2013.

cableknit-1
huge throw

I often struggle with following through on personal projects so it was kind of thrilling to be able to finally give the throw to my mom as a gift.

‚̧

The sweater is proving to be a challenge, but I’m enjoying learning how to shape a garment while knitting in the round. Again, I had to do a lot of research to familiarize myself with various terms and techniques, but it’s going OK. It’s got a head-hole and armholes and they are in more or less the right spots, so I’m pleased.20160124_195911_resized

 

 

 

Another milestone: I was recently very honored and excited to be contacted by the Granville Garden Club about some photos I took for my post Day of the Daffodil. They asked permission to use some of them on their web page and very kindly offered to link to my blog. P&P has gotten several referrals from their site, which is great because gardeners are generally really nice folks.

previously unpublished photo of dog and daffodils <3
previously unpublished photo of dog and daffodils ‚̧

 

Finally, here are a few photos from a class I took during which we hiked in local parks and just shot pictures of whatever.

walking at sunset
walking at sunset at Lobed Reserve
the Japanese Garden at Dawes Arboretum
the Japanese Garden at Dawes Arboretum
grasses backlit at Dawes Arboretum
grasses backlit at Dawes Arboretum
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The Adventure Continues, and Other News

When last I left off, I was bound for the “haunted inn with the cats” to seek another clue in what I can only call an impromptu Saturday morning adventure. ¬† While waiting in line at an ATM, I spied a note tied to a climbing vine on a building. ¬†Really. ¬†Yielding to temptation I¬†opened it, read it, and off I went, leaving all my (relatively dull) errands to wait.

The Inn is actually famous.  Many rock-steady, sensible folks claim to have had ghostly encounters there.  Spirits of the dearly departed, both human and feline, are said to patrol the halls and gardens.  The gardens are labyrinthine and filled with statues and fountains so finding the next clue might prove quite a task, but I was up to it.

Ironically, I did not have to look too hard at all. I was hoping for an opportunity to roam in the gardens, but instead found the red string on a sign post right out by the street.Adventure (3 of 8) Another note! This one made reference to the location of a frozen custard shop that, incidentally, does make the dreamiest custard ever. Who could be behind these notes, though? My husband would worry that it was something clandestine and sinister, but I think mischievous middle-schoolers or sorority sisters are more likely. Adventure (4 of 8)Also, local merchants have been known to secret little gifts around town on special occasions, and post hints on their Facebook pages. If you’re an early riser with your eyes open, you might just find one.

 

Well, I think I‚Äôll drag this out a little longer, and move on now to the other news. We named the kitten. KatieShe is Katie. And of course, no cat has just one name. She is ‚ÄúKatie, Katie Sweet P‚Äôtatie‚ÄĚ, ‚ÄúKater Tater‚ÄĚ, ‚ÄúTater-Bug‚ÄĚ ‚ÄúKatie-Kitty‚ÄĚ, ‚ÄúPrincess Puffy Pants‚ÄĚ, ‚ÄúKaters‚ÄĚ, and ‚ÄúKatie Scarlett‚ÄĚ after the heroine of Gone¬†With The Wind. She shares many personality traits with that Katie. Did you know that Scarlett‚Äôs first name was Katie? ¬†Only her father, Gerald O’Hara called her that.

We also had our first snow. First_snow-1So glad I got this picture because in an hour the sun was out and the snow just melted away. Photography certainly teaches you to seize the moment.

An (Almost) Adventure Begins

The other week on Saturday I was passing through an alley by one of the older buildings in town.  The building’s wall has ancient ivy climbing up its whitewashed brick and it is home to many noisy birds.  I was surveying it to see if I could see a nest when I spied a folded piece of paper tied with green yarn to one of its lower branches.  Adventure (1 of 8)Several other people passed but not one of them noticed it.   It looked to me like the paper had been purposely placed there, but why?  I debated for a few moments before removing it and unfolding it.  I tried to be somewhat casual about it, as though people left folded papers in climbing vines all the time.  For all I knew, and for all anyone else was paying attention, they did, and I was the last to know about it.

It was a note!  Here is what it (partly) said.  Adventure (2 of 8)The first sentence ( cropped out of the photo) was a stern request to leave the note exactly as I found it.  The next sentence was a clue describing a location where another note could be found, tied with a blue string to a certain landmark.  The last sentence is pictured.   It pretty well described my circumstances.  I did indeed just happen along, and I did want to start the adventure from the beginning.  And even if I didn’t know exactly where the haunted inn with the cats was (I did) I would totally want to go there anyhow.  Because, well…. ghosts and cats.  So I carefully re-folded the note, returned it to the ivy and went to find a red string.

Look for my next post to see what was at the Inn. ¬† ¬†ūüôā

A Quick Shrimp Recipe

Wow, its so September already that back to school supplies are off the shelves and Halloween is up, with all it’s pumpkins, skeletons and scarecrows. ¬†August was super busy with all the canning I did and family visits. ¬†I barely looked up from the jam pot. ¬†I’ve found I really love stirring jam and watching it simmer down. ¬†It’s very therapeutic! ¬†Who knew?

The other night, when the house was quiet and I was pondering dinner, I decided to experiment and create a variation on a favorite recipe from “50 Things to Grill in Foil”, a small pamphlet published by Food Network Magazine. ¬† Food Network’s version consists of shrimp, garlic, butter, lemon, parsley and a pinch of hot pepper flakes. ¬†I was kind of bored with that¬†and I had been given¬†some beautiful cilantro by a friend at work so I substituted it for the parsley. ¬†Then I upped the game by using a fresh red Serrano pepper from my garden in place of the crushed red pepper flakes and some lime juice and zest instead of the lemon. The result was quite zingy and had a definite southeast Asian flavor profile. I ate it without accompaniment but it would have been excellent over rice or ramen noodles.

Shrimp Baked in Foil with Lime and Cilantro

(Single Serving)

Ingredients:

  • 4-6 large shrimp (16/20 count), rinsed, peeled and deveined
  • 1 Tbsp salted¬†butter
  • 1/4 C chopped cilantro, leaves and stems, loosely packed
  • 1¬†Serrano pepper, halved, seeded and diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1/4 tsp lime zest+juice of 1/2 lime
  • pinch of fine sea salt

Layer the ingredients on a sheet of heavy-duty aluminum foil sufficiently large to fold in thirds over them. ¬†Crimp the foil to create a tight seam on the sides and top.¬† Place on a baking sheet and bake on the center rack in a 425¬ļ oven for about 12¬†minutes. ¬†Remove from oven and let stand for about 5¬†minutes. ¬†Mind the steam when you open the packet and expect some liquid to have been released by the ingredients. ¬†It makes a lovely broth for dipping bread. ¬†Enjoy in a shallow bowl.

Notes: ¬†Feel completely free to adjust the amounts of ingredients to suit your taste. ¬†Also, you may leave the shells on the shrimp if desired, and peel them at table. ¬†Many feel the shells impart excellent flavor. ¬†I’m just too impatient to peel my shrimp at dinner. ¬†Also, this will increase cooking time by 2-3 minutes.

New Baby Kitty!

Oh, and on a completely side note, we got a kitten. ¬†She just had her first vet appointment and is doing fine. ¬†She’s a very good jumper and climber and is quite vocal.

new baby kitty!
new baby kitty!

 

A Hometown Fourth of July

The town of Granville Ohio boasts of having a mile-long Fourth of July Parade, which is interesting because the parade route along the main street is surely not a mile. ¬†About an hour before the parade steps off, the town shuts down and good luck to anyone trying to park, or make their way by auto to the float staging area. ¬†It’s quite a thing. ¬†Big city gridlock has nothing on it, believe me. ¬† The morning is a cacophony of sights and sounds. ¬† As always, the American Legionnaires lead the way with the colors. ¬†As always they are greeted with applause. ¬†Spectators shout their “Thank You”s to the veterans who follow. ¬†These pictures are of the things that made me smile the most. ¬†ūüôā

Parade (2 of 7)
the Color Guard
the Kiwanis float
the Kiwanis float
BOOM!
BOOM!
a gentle ambassador from the pit bull community
a gentle ambassador from the pit bull community
coolest scooter ever!
coolest scooter ever!
love!
love!
I hope everyone had a spectacular Fourth!
I hope everyone had a spectacular Fourth!

Farmer’s Market, Day 1

Yesterday was the first day of the Granville Farmer’s Market, and unlike last year I was there when the market master rang the opening bell, and I was in time for the asparagus. ¬†I’m also really enjoying my new “Nifty Fifty” lens and getting some practice creating¬†the sharp focus and the bokeh where I want them. There’s a fine line between a shallow depth of field that tells a story and a picture that is murky and blurry. ¬†Also, since I was loaded down with bags of goodies, I was shooting one-handed and trying to avoid camera shake. ¬†Here are the ones I’m happiest with, and isn’t the Market a pretty place? ¬†The vendors really brought it this year.

ramps and radishes from Bird's Haven Farms
ramps and radishes from Bird’s Haven Farms
baby kale plants from The Kale Yard
baby kale plants from The Kale Yard
bread from Lucky Cat Bakery
bread from Lucky Cat Bakery
ohio maple syrup from Flying J Farm
ohio maple syrup from Flying J Farm
hydrangeas and alliums
hydrangeas and alliums
lilacs and fresh eggs from Copia Farm
lilacs and fresh eggs from Copia Farm
beautiful packaging for Copia's farm fresh eggs
beautiful display for Copia’s farm fresh eggs
decorative planter with lettuce leaves
decorative planter with lettuce leaves

Wildflower Walk at Lobdell Reserve

A while back I made a promise to myself that I would explore the trails at the beautiful county park that is just a few minutes from my house. ¬†Promise kept. ¬†A very interesting and diverse group including a wonderful guide from the County Park District and a professor from a local college set out Saturday morning armed with cameras and copies of Wildflowers of Ohio by Robert L. Henn. ¬†Here is some of what we saw. ¬†I’ll ‘fess up that I have a new lens for my camera and I’m not quite used to it yet. ¬†I’m trying to practice shooting with a wide open aperture and a shallow depth of field and it’s very tricky to get the focus just so, especially with a stiff breeze stirring the flowers.

Purple Phlox
Purple Phlox
Lesser Celandine?
Lesser Celandine?
Trout Lilly
Trout Lilly
Bluebells!
Bluebells!

And a special guest appearance by…

a crawdad
a crawdad

In addition, at the end of the hike I was given¬†a “Single Report” from Project Budburst (link here) so that I can go to their site and document my observations about¬†any single plant of my choosing in my area on one specific day. ¬†The observations of all who take part will be stored in a database for analysis by students and scientists. ¬†It sounds like a really interesting project that may uncover some trends that have gone heretofore unnoticed. ¬† ¬†If you wish to participate you can register and log in and the report forms may be found as pdfs under the Observing Plants pulldown menu.

Day of the Daffodil

My and my mother’s weekend¬†adventure was strolling once again through the beautiful Bryn Du Mansion at the 70th Annual Daffodil Show and Sale, held by the Granville (Ohio) Garden Club. ¬†Creativity and dedication to gardening and especially the cultivation of daffodils were in evidence throughout the rooms. ¬†The theme of the show this year was “Daffodil Show 1945: Back to Our Future.”

Nineteen forty-five was the year of the very first daffodil show, and even with the austerity of the Second World War, daffodils were gracing yards and gardens in our little town. ¬†The show celebrated the presence of “daffs” in our lives then and now by staging household vignettes that might have been seen¬†at the end of WWII. ¬†These included a kitchen, a victory garden, a living room and a floor radio. ¬†I had to smile a little as a young mother tried¬†to explain¬†what radio¬†was to her little boy and girl. ¬†I was touched by lovely photos on display of servicemen and women from our area.

Daffodils in a 1940s kitchen vignette
Daffodils in a 1940s kitchen vignette
a 1940s floor radio with Roosevelt portrait and daffodils
a 1940s floor radio with Roosevelt portrait and daffodils
the 1940s living room with photos displayed
the 1940s living room with photos displayed
daffodils in a traditional vase
daffodils in a traditional vase

A large part of the show was dedicated to tables of daffodil creations by Granville residents from their own gardens.   The arrangements ran the gamut from very elaborate to super simple single stems and were inspired by literature, movies and fashions from the 1940s.  I loved them all but my favorites are here. It was a marvelous photo opportunity.  Flowers are seldom awkward or camera-shy.

daffodils and baby's breath in a lady-head vase
daffodils and baby’s breath in a lady-head vase
daffodils and strawberries
daffodils and strawberries
stems in an Arts and Crafts vase
stems in an Arts and Crafts vase

The show also had several large rooms devoted to judging daffodil specimens.  I never knew there were so many in the world!

so many specimens!
so many specimens!
and even more specimens.
and even more specimens.

Most fascinating to me are the miniature varieties.  They are perfectly formed, much tinier versions of the larger flowers.

miniature daffodils in a salt cellar
miniature daffodils in a salt cellar
table setting with miniature daffodils
table setting with miniature daffodils
tiny daffodils in crystal baskets, on a windowsill
tiny daffodils in crystal baskets, on a windowsill
diminutive display
diminutive display

In addition to all the inspiration from the gardeners, there were some shopping opportunities for a good cause.  I bought a nice poster, and bulbs are for sale for autumn delivery and planting.  Proceeds benefit the Garden Club.  My mom was able to select a small bouquet of 8-10 blooms for free.  (But we did give a little donation.)  We were told by a garden club member that when re-cutting daffodils to fit a vase you should never use scissors because it can crush their hollow stems.  Instead use a serrated knife.  More daffodil fun facts:

  • Squirrels, rodents and deer do not eat daffodils or their bulbs
  • Daffodil bulbs are long-lasting–perhaps several generations
  • Daffodils will grow under shallow-rooted ground covers like vinca

I hope you have enjoyed the images and info.  Does your local garden club hold any interesting events?  Have you participated?

for education and beautification
for education and beautification

Daffodil_show-24