I'll share some pictures later on...we love the zoo!
And while we were out, the cats were chilling...
Over the past few weeks, we've cleaned out the attic and garage, had a yard sale, tossed/sold/donated all sorts of no-longer-needed (we hope!) stuff. The main garden is cleaned out and covered with a thick layer of chopped leaves - meaning the lawn was mowed after the majority of the leaves dropped. With the exception of a very few hot peppers and eggplant, all veggie plants are sitting in a heap, composting. Tender perennials were dug and pruned and potted for a comfy winter in the garage. A few pots of cold season perennials are seeded, now up and growing (pansies and snapdragons). Seed catalogs are starting to arrive....so we have the odd juxtaposition of saying goodbye to one season as we begin to say hello to the next.
I am painfully aware that I've got jobs to do - dwarf project participants are sending me seeds that need to be cataloged, the project still needs to be assessed for where it got to at the end of our growing season.....plans for next year's garden need to be made....my book proposal on the dwarf project needs to be completed and submitted.
Though that's just a few sentences of tasks, it translates into hours of work in my office. With the coming cooler (and likely, wetter) weather, and if my motivation holds (and in some cases, emerges!), the time between now and Christmas will be really busy. The goal is to arrive at mid January with a good idea of what next year's garden and seedling sales and Dwarf project assignments will look like. In the meantime, I must get some seeds out to people who need to start things soon.....
Pressure...I will not feel the pressure...this is supposed to all be fun! (and believe me, it is...)
....earliest memories of Thanksgiving days - playing a pilgrim in our annual Thanksgiving Day reenactment (loosely speaking) at our church - the Pawtucket Congregational. Very talented members of the church hand-sewed a set of authentic outfits (so we were told), and each year, 60 or more of the school kids took part. Through the years I graduated from pilgrim to a few of the "speaking parts" (John Alden, Miles Standish are the two I recall).....the one line I remember the most is "but the peas were not worth gathering"!
Then...the church began putting on a full, traditional Thanksgiving meal for those in the area who were in need - so I have so many great memories of going down to the church early in the morning with my parents and brother and pitching in, cooking turkeys, mashing potatoes, all on a pretty large scale - then serving the people, seeing their grateful faces, finally sitting down with my family and the other volunteers to chow down ourselves.
Then came our own family Thanksgivings, first just Sue and I.....purchasing and cooking our own turkey and deciding what sides would become our own annual customs. The stuffing was always based upon Susan's grandmother's bread sausage stuffing....the vegetables varied, but rotated around corn, beans, and carrots...always mashed potatoes and gravy (which was Sue's job). Dessert rotated from Pumpkin to Pecan Pie and back again. Our Thanksgivings post-marriage are all a blur - as Sara, then Sara and Caitlin, then just one or none to join us, as their lives and travels allowed.
This year is a delight, since it was the four of us enjoying a wonderful meal that is never fancy but always satisfying. It is a beautiful day - a chill in the air, sky intense blue - perfect for an afternoon, after dinner walk with the dogs.
There is so much to be thankful for....of course my wife, daughters, parents and brother, my friends, tomato plant customers...our dogs and cats...life in general, with its daily surprises. As my daughter Caitlin often says, "it's all good"....it's not perfect (and no life can ever be) - there are the occasional tiffs, conflicts, challenges, dips - but nothing that doesn't (or can't) pass with time.
Yep - it's all good!
The house smells pretty wonderful. Right now, there is a roasted turkey in the refrigerator, along side two dishes of stuffing, a bowl of gravy, and they are soon to be joined by a Pecan Pie (still a work in progress).
What are we doing? Isn't Thanksgiving about traditions?
....well, the only thing that seems to be consistent about our Thanksgivings is change! I will blog more tomorrow - on Thanksgiving proper - about family, and - yes, giving thanks.
But tomorrow will be something new for us - Sue and I will be walking, and Sara and Caitlin running, in a charity run in Wake Forest early in the morning. Once that is achieved, we will all come here to get ready for a mid-afternoon dinner. It just made sense to do most of the cooking today, so that tomorrow will be lower stress (and more efficient, cooking-wise).
Thanksgiving to me is always a day to reflect - and the older I get, there is much more to reflect back on. But that's for tomorrow....
(will I be able to keep my paws off the turkey or pie tonight.....)
....my last entry was late October. It is now mid-November. How did that happen? Well, it's a combination of being busy (sometimes), unmotivated (often), distracted, tired - this time change really threw us for a loop. Seems like the days should run from 8 AM until 8 PM!
Much of the last few weeks was preparation for a yard sale, when we finally cleaned out both the garage and (gasp!) attic. Nasty, nasty business - especially the attic, since it's been about 18 years since we moved in, and it just became a "let's put it in the attic" type of place since then.
As far as the garden - there's not much left, though we've yet to have a true killing frost. My fall garden experiment (Brussels Sprouts, lettuce, beets, arugula, spinach) was knocked off-track by deer. I've got a few eggplant plants awaiting a move into the garage (I've not harvested fruit suitable for saving seed from them); same with a few large potted hot peppers. I am about ready to say goodbye to my dozens and dozens of small potted ornamental hot peppers. All that will be left after that is digging up/potting some tender perennials that we want to keep (Lantana), and relocation of other tender plants in pots into the garage for a winter sleep (ferns, walking iris, geraniums, herbs). That takes care of the driveway and deck. As far as our big side yard garden, all we are doing is laying down a thick layer of leaves, as they fall from the trees and are chopped and gathered during our lawn mowing.
I do have two small pots of growth - snapdragons and pansies - in an effort to get ahead of these heat-sensitive flowers, which will go out in the late winter/early spring. But here it is mid-November, and it won't be long before I start next year's veggie plants (probably end of January for slow growing hot peppers). Amazing.
This leaves the office/computer tasks that are so easily put off - planning for next year's garden, wrapping up the dwarf project and planning ahead for next season's efforts, continuing to work on my book. I am searching far and wide for some discipline!
One recent highlight is that four more of our new Dwarf varieties are now available, thanks to the efforts two of our Alaska volunteers and a Georgia friend that created sufficient numbers of seeds for the introduction. The varieties are Perth Pride, Sleeping Lady, Yukon Quest and Iditarod Red - all for sale from Tatiana's TOMATObase. These four varieties join the 9 that were released last year - so our little all volunteer, all amateur dwarf tomato breeding project is doing pretty well for itself!