I am officially on vacation. I leave on Sunday morning for John C. Campbell Folk School to spend one glorious week in a beautiful place learning to make wooden covers for books and Coptic and Greek binding. There will be autumn leaves, music, good food, great birdwatching, and dancing.

This week I’ve made paper from the dried artichoke stalks in my garden. Susanne cooked them and beat the pulp with cotton and abaca fiber and brought it over to me, along with some delicious peppery macaroni and cheese. It’s almost dry now, it’s being pressed in the studio (under a pile of books, nothing technological going on here!). I only used a quarter of the pulp she brought me. When I expressed surprise at the enormous amount of pulp she made, she said, “I don’t play.” She says that a lot when it comes to making paper, but she is a playful person. Now that she sees that I’m really serious about making paper, she says that we will be working together a lot. I’m a very happy camper right now.

I made two dozen beautiful sheets and when I get back I’ll be making more. I signed up for my first swap on the papermaking list – origami boxes. I’ve been making little origami boxes from junk mail all year. Some of you may have received them since I’ve been using them for seed giveaways and jewelry. This is a swap that I’m looking forward to.

I picked the big green tomatoes left on my yellow Brandywine – man, I hated to do that. I’m not a green tomato fan at all, and they were HUGE. They’ll sit on the counter until ripe. We didn’t get a frost, but it sounds like it might happen when I’m gone. So I picked all the peppers too, and gave most of the hottest ones to my department head, who likes them hellishly hot.

Anne-Marie is planning to take a nutrition class to Spannocchia, and Susanne said that she got a call from them about repeating her paper/book class that she cancelled this summer. Auggh! I want to go so bad!

Anyway, tonight is for enjoying my time alone, and tomorrow is for time with Sandy and packing up. I will gather up my collection of magpie odds and ends in case I can find a use for them in class: worn starfish-etched shells, small pieces of driftwood, pieces of worn broken china, seeds and pods. I will be taking my laptop, but I’ll decide when I’m there whether to use it and how much.

Now I’m going to go put a pot of butterbeans and field pea snaps on the wood stove, which is cranking out a very cozy heat.

I’m very happy tonight, despite the passing of Miss Peanut earlier this week. She lived a good life, and now I’m seeing the bright side – when I heard a cat fight earlier tonight, I didn’t have to worry that it involved her. I can paint the front porch, and I dismantled and threw out the dirty trashy looking Peanut Shack. I don’t have to worry about rabies or her being too cold and my inability to care for her as I ordinarily would have. I will avoid getting involved with another feral cat colony in the future if I can help it, but I’ll adopt feral kittens for inside when the time comes. You have to earn their love, and once you have it, you’re in for a very satisfying and interesting animal-human relationship.