augggghhhh, Back Forty, butterbeans, critters, whining

Catching up

The front yard container garden has been producing tomatoes, despite its propensity to dry out every day and some blossom end rot. I should have remembered to put epsom salts in the holes when I planted these. The peppers are really unhappy. A few of the plants’ miseries have finally been put to an end, due to an early invasion of aphids that I didn’t control when I was traveling. I made chili with ground bison and tomatoes and peppers from this garden last night. Even the Romas that had blossom end rot were fine – I chopped off the ends. The Beefy Boys, which Sandy picked out, are a hit. Very sweet and dense, the right exact size for two sandwiches. Even when they split, they patched up just fine.


Butterbeans are here. I hope to have enough for a little taste for everyone when I go to see my sister and brother-in-law at Lake Waccamaw this weekend. We have also eaten a few green beans. That patch did not germinate well at all, but I combine them with potatoes as they get big enough to pick and they taste good. The celery is ready but I haven’t tried it yet. The broccoli is all leaves. The woodchuck has been enjoying munching on that.

Also, the semi-shady spot next to my steps seems to be a great place for lettuce and parsley.

My big trips are over for the year while we pay off credit cards and concentrate on home for a while. I wish that I didn’t bunch them up together, but May-July are the best times for me to take off from work, and flights are much cheaper before June. I’m lucky that I get so much time off at this job – it is one of the reasons I love it here so much. However, it does come at the expense of regular pay raises.

I came back from Portland with a raging case of food poisoning – certainly the worst I have ever had. Once my fever came down to the point that I could think straight and use Google, I played Dr. House and self-diagnosed myself with e coli from the cherries from the farmers market that I munched on from Sunday to Thursday, which I forgot to wash. I chose not to go to the doctor, although I had my husband on alert that I might have to go to the ER or urgent care. From what I read, you just had to stay hydrated and suffer through it, and doctors couldn’t do that much for you. So my lesson was learned. I will never be cavalier about eating raw unwashed food again, especially food that has been handled by the public.

I spent another week getting my stomach back to accepting normal foods and healing from the muscle aches. Now I’ve turned my attention back to healing my neck and shoulder, which, in the words of my massage therapist, is all “cranked up.” She recommended that I see a different therapist who specializes in pain management, and I’ll go to her this afternoon. On Tuesday morning I went to my regular GP for my six-month blood-letting and she prescribed me muscle relaxants, which haven’t kicked in yet. Gawd. What a mess. It’s hard to get anything done when I’m in this kind of pain. Heat helps, but in mid-July I’m not eager to curl up with a heating pad or use a patch.

I want to weave and dye and weed and plant and do a lot of things that keep me from healing, and I’ve been too stubborn to stop with the yard work. I can’t stand to see the weeds and vines take over. My worst fear is that I won’t get better. In that case, I have to find a way to keep doing the things that I need to do. Stopping permanently is not an option, but I may have to stop for a while longer.

There is some good news. The new chiropractor I saw in June fixed my lower back and hip problem! Hooray!

Anyway, I hope to start posting more art-related photos and topics here very soon. Please bear with me!


Diego and Pablocito have been enjoying the front porch. They stay there until we make them come in, most of the time. Diego often enjoys the swing, but they have to share the cat tree. It’s fun watching them watch the birds and squirrels. You should have seen Pablocito when the woodchuck ran by. The expression on his face was priceless.

Back Forty, butterbeans, buying local, consumerism, Local food, Market report, Slow Food

Back Forty Update and Market Report

It finally got cool enough for my butterbeans (or lima beans) to produce again. They will keep going now until a heavy frost.

My field pea crop is winding down. I prefer to eat them freshly shelled (not dried like this photo) with “snaps” – the immature pods snapped like green beans. This year they have been besieged by big black ants who hang out at the top of each pea and will run up your arm and bite you. You have to be very careful when you pick them. I don’t know what I’ll do about this next year. At least they are not fire ants.

The fig tree has gotten huge again. I’ll have to cut it down by at least half this winter. Again.

The last fig of the season is now in my stomach.

Market report:

Back in the early days of this blog, the focus was on Slow Food, especially on local food at a time when Greensboro markets and restaurants were just beginning to get on board and understand the meaning and implications of buying locally. I was a member of the board of the Friends of the Greensboro Farmers Curb Market before that volunteer group went through an weirdly political totally insane lie-based attack resulting in its dissolution. Since that time, the management of the market passed to a non-profit group who has brought the market back to a wonderful community again, which I am particularly grateful for since the insanity migrated over to Deep Roots Market. But that will be the subject of another post.

This morning at the Greensboro Farmers Curb Market, I bought the following:

Water buffalo cheese from Fading D Farm of Salisbury, NC. WHOA! And so good!
Buttercrunch lettuce, hydroponically grown from Tony
Stoneground yellow grits from Old Mill of Guilford
Small sweet peppers
Okra
Soap from Carol at Mimi’s Soaps
From Anna at Zaytoon:
Baba ganoush
Tzatziki
From Rudd Farm:
Sweet bicolor corn, my favorite
Watermelon
Tomatoes
Butternut squash
Eggplant
From Daniel at Nimby Farm:
Onions

Normally I also buy milk, meat and bread there too but I ran out of money this morning! I have a lot in my freezer, though.

I used to go to Deep Roots Market after the market visit to buy what I couldn’t find, but honestly nowadays I find most of what I need at the farmers’ market. I’ll go to Costco or Bestway or Harris Teeter or Earth Fare to find the rest of my needs until Deep Roots changes course, if it survives. I do still go to Deep Roots occasionally to buy things when they have the owner discount month to buy only products that are cruelty and GMO free. Today I’m heading to the other stores.

Back Forty, butterbeans, coffee pot posts, critters, fiber art, Slow cloth, Slow Food

Sunday morning coffee pot post

This time, from the studio that I rent at a nearby church!

I have this floor to myself these days, at least on the weekends and evenings when I can get here. I guess it is just too hot for most people. Turning on my little AC unit the night before and covering my east-facing windows with fabric panels is the only way to get it bearable. I’d leave it on all the time but this church struggles for money and I want to be good to them. I absolutely love this studio space.

Now I have an old laptop and printer here so that I can blog and print off designs and photos for my artwork. Life is good.

Back Forty update: I haven’t done a lot of gardening this year, due to physical problems this spring, and nowadays the heat and the mosquitoes are too much for this post-menopausal body to deal with.

The herb garden is full of black-eyed susans. Apparently the woodchuck moved on this year because last year it ate the heads off all of them. However, I did see a raccoon run across the yard yesterday, with birds shrieking behind it. The cat from across the street, Penny, has been hanging out in the Back Forty lately. I am a great admirer of Penny because she just doesn’t give a fuck about anybody but Penny, plus she looks almost exactly like Miss Jazz. I like that in a cat.

The tomatoes are in the whiskey barrel planters and under chicken wire cages, but most of them are dying. Guess I need to change out the soil or plant them elsewhere. In this small area it is hard to rotate crops! My butterbeans are not producing yet. I got a late start planting them and they will not flower when it is this hot. Guess that they will be a fall crop. However, I am beginning to harvest some field peas. A couple of ground cherry volunteers came up and are producing.

Even though I still am not in the mood for cooking these days, there is no excuse not to this time of year. Yesterday I went to the Greensboro Farmer’s Curb Market and bought milk, eggs, lettuce, soap, Sungold tomatoes, okra, corn and green peppers. The milk from Homeland Creamery was in the cow on Friday morning. How often do you hear that? The eggs were from pasture-raised chickens, the lettuce was hydroponically grown, the soap locally handmade, the tomatoes organic, and the corn, ohhh, that corn. I grew up on a farm where we never ever ate corn out of a can. My father grew enough Silver Queen corn so that July was a time when pickup truckloads of corn were shucked in the shade of the pecan tree in our back yard, then blanched, cut off the cob (Daddy had false teeth) and frozen for eating all year round. So when I tell you that the bicolor corn that Rudd Farm grows is the best corn I ever tasted, I do so with the voice of experience.

I shucked the corn, cooked it up, and it was delicious without any butter or salt. That’s how good it is. I was going to buy enough to freeze some for this winter, but the folks at Rudd Farm said that they will have it until frost, so there’s no rush. I then cut up the corn shucks into pieces about an inch long to freeze for papermaking later.

Physically, other than another annoying cold, I am doing much better since a visit to my chiropractor. I am taking naproxen sodium once a day and doing stretches for my hip, and I’ve been able to get to sleep fairly quickly most nights. Now I am trying Slo-Niacin for my high cholesterol. So far the flushing has been minimal, since I am following the directions to start out with 250 mg, take at bedtime, and to eat a little something and take an aspirin about 30 minutes before. I found out something very interesting when I researched niacin and cholesterol. I have been taking no-flush niacin for quite some time with no real improvement in my cholesterol. HOWEVER, I discovered that no-flush niacin is NOT the kind that helps cholesterol. I wasn’t told this by the salesperson in supplements or the doctor’s office! You need nicotinic acid for that. Here’s an article about niacin and cholesterol.

All in all, I feel happier and freer than I have in a long time, if I don’t pay attention to the news. If I do that, then I crash. I feel helpless.

So, time to sew!

augggghhhh, Back Forty, butterbeans, coffee pot posts, depression/anxiety, fiber art, Marietta, Reading, tapestry, Tapestry Weavers South, weaving, whining

Sunday Morning Coffee Pot Post

First, THIS article is helping me get back on track after a rather hellish month: 12 Little Known Laws of Mindfulness That Will Change Your Life.

I came back from Arrowmont with steadily worsening anxiety and physical problems, which peaked about three days ago. My pain level has gone from about an 8 to a 3 after two visits to my chiropractor and two visits to my massage therapist. I did resort to taking some pain meds left over from my mother’s stash on Thursday, but they were a kind that I’ve taken before and I cut them way down to the smallest level that still helped. Thank God the addict that worked in my house did not steal all of them. Also I made a DIY cervical collar out of a scarf.

Making all this worse was that I spent a week of clearing out my community garden plots and reduced my fall allotment to one 4×8 foot plot. They were so overgrown with cardinal climber vines over tall sunflowers and other monster mystery plants that others in the garden had staked them up and an email went out to all the gardeners (I was not the only offender, but I was one of the worst) and I got embarrassed. Sandy helped me dig up some plants to transplant into pots and the Back Forty at home, and some of the huge plants and roots. I was going to give it all up but I want to harvest my green cotton, and the director of the garden encouraged me to stay on now that I’ve gotten it down to a manageable size and state. I am very prone to being ashamed and none of this helped my mental or physical state!

However, now I feel very good about it and I planted peas and lettuce in the area that we cleared out. I have not tried planting these in late August before and it may be too hot for them to germinate. I guess that I will find out. The black compost that I mulched the bed with looks beautiful against the green plants. I didn’t do anything that strenuous and it did a lot for my soul.

I’ve gotten a great yield of butterbeans and field peas this year, enough to freeze some for this winter and Thanksgiving dinner.

Today I am taking it easy and I’ve been advised not to weave yet. I want to weave! I’m reading “All the Light We Cannot See” by Anthony Doerr on my Kindle through my local library on Overdrive. If you haven’t tried this app and you like to read, I recommend it highly. I made an account with my Greensboro Public Library card number and it is great for travel. I can get new audiobooks too, and a lot of popular audiobooks are available right away. You usually have to get in a hold line for bestsellers. My time on this one runs out today and I’ll have to get in line again to finish it.

I just finished reading Man in Profile, Joseph Mitchell of the New Yorker. I probably have written about this before, but Joseph Mitchell and I share a great-great grandfather, whatever cousin that makes us, and I did not know about his talent and international fame until after his death. None of my family did, as far as I can tell. I was told by my mother that “Cousin Joe” wrote for “some magazine up north” and that my great aunt thought that he hung the moon. When I found out that “some magazine” was the New Yorker, I started investigating and then obsessively tracked down all I could about him. His writing is brilliant and he is a native of Fairmont! Why wasn’t I taught about him in school? Why didn’t he have more publicity in his own home state, or county, or town, or even family? I feel cheated that I never got to meet him. Evidently he made many prolonged visits to Fairmont and he felt caught between the two worlds, such as I do most of the time.

We have signed a purchase contract with a buyer for Mama’s house in Marietta and Sandy and I will rent a UHaul cargo van to go down there and take some furniture to Lisa’s lake house and some back here to Greensboro. I purposely chose one that will be just big enough to hold a double bed and mattresses, a small chest of drawers, and my mother’s sewing machine. My house is too small to bring in more of her stuff, and part of the deal with the buyer is that she will finish dealing with what we leave, whether to use it or give it away or trash it. It needs to be done even though it breaks my heart. My mother spent 70 years in that house. I can’t do my part in helping to maintain it.

Work is pretty good. We have three new administrators in our department, all of whom I think that I can work well with.

I rallied enough to drive to Hickory (about 100 miles away) and back on Friday to attend the Carolinas subgroup of the Tapestry Weavers South meeting and potluck. We went to a tapestry exhibit at the Hickory Art Museum that was a collaboration between American artists and Yoruba weavers. Very, very good.

Pam has mounted my “98% Water” tapestry and I should have it in time to photograph and enter it into the American Tapestry Alliance biennial show. I really like the teal background we chose for it. I am nervous about it because I feel like I am jumping into the deep end. If it doesn’t get accepted I will have to get over it and keep working on my technique.

Two weeks from now I will be in Colorado, visiting my aunt and cousin and exploring a bit on our own. So there will be another travel blog post coming up after that.

I’ll post a few photos to this post at a later time – need to go rest my neck!

Back Forty, butterbeans, tapestry, weaving

Progress

My progress as of three days ago. I have to find the battery charger for my camera. It is in the new place that I decided would be the logical place that I would look for it the last time I lost and found it. Maybe I need a hypnotist.

Work began on the new bathroom today, thank God. There were a few times when I was afraid that the whole thing was going to have to be put off for weeks. The two fellows working on it are very pleasant and willing to work around the cats. The possibility of my cats getting out in a panic or getting sick from stress or getting underfoot is my main concern right now. Miss Lucy simply wants to hide, but Theo, Pablo, and Diego are all obsessed with the closed doors that used to be open.

My own work is picking up, so the time is going by more quickly.

Last night I cooked butterbeans with a few field peas tossed in and a squash casserole, with most ingredients from my garden. Before that I cooked what might have been the last green (purple) beans. The butterbeans should produce until frost, especially with the unseasonably cool temperatures we have now. The squash are definitely gone because the plants were diseased and I pulled them up. The seeds that I thought were cucumbers turned out to be butternut squash and those plants are producing and doing well because I planted them away from the yellow squash. Lots of green tomatoes are on the plants I grew from seed, and I covered them with chicken wire cages. The blueberries are nearly gone, but I did get to eat a few. Didn’t get to harvest any of the pears, as usual. Lots of figs are on the reviving fig tree that we butchered this spring. Can you even kill a fig tree? I don’t know.

I miss talking about gardening with my mother. I’m having a hard time with the loss in general, but I think that working in my garden really brings it home for me. We didn’t agree about much, especially the religion that was so important to her, and the art I do was sometimes incomprehensible to her. Much of my conversation bored her, but we could talk enthusiastically about gardening and cooking. I spent so much of my time in summer picking, shelling, and freezing butterbeans and field peas with my mother and other relatives and friends. I was lucky because my work was limited to vegetables and blueberries and the occasional load of shrimp instead of the tobacco fields and barns that my friends had to work in. I was also lucky because I learned to garden and preserve food from my mother. Not cooking, though. I learned to cook on my own.

Casting my thoughts increasingly toward tapestry and the retreat coming up in Oregon. Less than a month away!

Back Forty, butterbeans

Back Forty Update

The paths are mulched, the seeds are planted, and the seedlings have been transplanted for the summer. I put wire frames and ag-cover fabric over my beds this year. I am determined to win the battle after losing miserably to the critters last year. Now that the mosquitoes are out, I’ll only be out there for short periods of time with organic repellent/long sleeves and pants on.

Blueberries are on the left and purple snap beans are in the center. That is a potted Meyer lemon tree that we bring in for the winter. We have gotten a few lemons from it. There is a potted habanero pepper to its left. Behind that row is a black netted cover over Cherokee Purple tomatoes that I planted from seed. Bronze fennel from last year is coming up everywhere. The swallowtail butterflies like it. Behind that row, the butchered fig tree is reviving and there are Whippoorwill field peas and yellow crookneck squash under the white fabric. I’m pleased that the peas came up because I have saved the seeds over the years from the first packet I bought at Monticello about ten years ago, and these were about three years old from my last crop. Their germination rate was amazing, considering!

About half of the Back Forty is still under foliage, and I promised Sandy that he can do with the rest as he likes. The original idea was to have compost delivered and we would build up the beds over the cardboard cover. Hardwood mulch was delivered instead. So the compost will probably have to wait until after the first freeze. At least it will have to for ME to work on it. These half barrels used to be my rain barrels until they started to rot and spring leaks and clog up. They looked great but weren’t as practical as I would have liked. These two barrels have a Sun Gold and a Juliet tomato plant from Handance Farms.

Above are before and after photos of the herb end of the bed. There is French sorrel, English thyme, borage, parsley, bronze fennel, pineapple sage, stevia, and hopefully some basil soon. I have more culinary herbs in the front garden.

The butterbeans along the fence were my only success last year so I planted more this year. There are a variety of pole beans that I’ve saved over the last couple of years and so they have probably cross-bred. They range in color from white to red to black/purple/white speckled. Sweet peppers from Handance Farm are in the pot and planter, and we are eating lettuce right now from one area. Spinach and turnip greens did not do well at all and those seeds were new! Bull’s blood beets and basil are coming up along side the beans and there are some more purple snap beans in there somewhere too. Jalapeno, Thai hot, hot banana peppers and an eggplant are in an unseen planter to the right of the path.

The seckel pear tree is full of little pears again and I’ll have to think about how to save a few for ourselves from the squirrels this year.

butterbeans, critters, Visual journal, Visual journal 2013, weaving

Visual journal, December 22, 2013


Measuring and winding warp for the long-term double weave rag rug project. It was going well until the boys woke up. I’m going to try to do a little every day (when they are napping) and I might at least get the warp ready to put on the loom by the end of the year. I may have to wait until these guys are old and mellow before I can warp the loom though!


Dried butterbeans saved for next year’s garden. Butterbeans and hot and banana peppers were the only things that did well this past year so I’m going to double down on them next year.

art, Back Forty, butterbeans, coffee pot posts

Spirit and the Back Forty

I can’t tell you just how freeing it has been to my spirit to not worry about making art for sale any more. I’ve definitely had some physical challenges, but they are nothing compared to the mental roadblocks I run into every time I start selling my work on a regular basis. I always think that it will be different this time, that I won’t let it happen, but it digs a pinhole under the current of my creative energy until I am drained.

It was a lovely evening and now a pleasant rainy morning. North Carolina has been in a bizarre weather pattern all summer. We have had way too much rain. Right now it is downright cool. Highs in the low 70s are unheard of in August. Normally it would be averaging around 90, and we had a really bad triple-digit heat wave in August only a few years ago. I turned off the AC and opened our windows last night. This house is almost soundproof so I don’t usually hear the crickets and a soft steady rain with the windows closed.

The mosquitoes, as you might guess, are horrendous. If we get a break in the rain, I’ll cover up with long sleeves and plants and try to pull some weeds while the ground is soft. My back is still healing up so I need to be careful. Yesterday I found two beautiful cucumbers that are almost too ripe because the weeds hid them so well. And I’ve been checking that plant every other day! I think that I’ll try to seed them and chop them up for a cream cheese and cucumber spread.

Pulled up the squash and zucchini plants, except for one squash plant that got a late start and is confusing me because it is not what I thought that I planted. It has one green striped squash on it the shape and size of a butternut squash. The other squashes were ruined by powdery mildew.

Lots of delicious figs, and I continue to pick a few butterbeans and a smattering of green beans from the couple of plants that survived the rabbit attack by mixing in with the butterbeans. Hardly enough for one portion, but a few are better than none! Tomatoes have been the biggest disappointment. We planted seven plants in half-barrels and have our usual volunteer Juliets, and we’ve gotten exactly one ripe tomato all summer. Maybe next year I will plant all peppers (they have done well) or lettuce and carrots.

I’m very happy with the front garden, which is much more decorative and has several kinds of herbs. The potted Meyer lemon tree has two large green lemons on it for the first time ever. It has fruited before but the biggest they have gotten has been dime-sized before they fell off. It is in a fairly sunny place outside and has gotten the benefit of all this rain.

Last night I played with painting Citrasolve on the pages of a National Geographic magazine. It was good, mindless fun and I got wonderful pages out of it. You can’t get much easier than this technique. My friend Diana Trout posted a video tutorial on her site. The interesting part was that while I was futzing around with the pages at the front of the magazine (after painting the pages with Citrasolve), the really cool effects were happening all by their little lonesomes on the back pages of the magazine. You can buy Citrasolve at Deep Roots Market here in Greensboro. I love it for cleaning – at last there is a scent in my house that I love and doesn’t make me sick!

Today I need to do some cleaning but I’m also going to get my hair cut and play in my new studio space some.

Back Forty, butterbeans, coffee pot posts, critters, North Carolina beaches, Sunset Beach

Saturday a.m. coffee pot post

I picked these in the Back Forty yesterday afternoon from the vines that I didn’t pull down in October. Can you imagine how many I would have gotten if I hadn’t picked every slightly filled out bean and pulled out half the vines then? You can never quite be sure what the right gardening thing to do is in North Carolina in October. A couple of years ago I picked an eggplant on December 1.

Now I’m trying to decide what to take to this potluck tonight. I have asparagus left from the casserole I made for Thanksgiving, and I could buy mushrooms and recreate that. Or I could add butterbeans and field peas from my freezer to these fresh butterbeans. Or I could buy more goat cheese to add to this really delicious farro salad. I plan to make a big pot of chili for the week ahead.

Other than that, I’m reading a Dennis Lehane novel, loving my kittehs, working on photography projects for this online class, and binding some books over the weekend. I’m thinking about thawing out some paper pulp and making a small batch of paper tomorrow. What are you doing?

Guido was chasing his tail, and now he is chasing Lucy back and forth through the house. You’d never know that he was an old man. Theo decided to join in the fun, which effectively stopped the game. How sad. Miss Jazz hisses at everybody, including me. But they’re getting there. It’s much better than it was – they all sleep together which says a lot about the progress.

Here’s a couple more photos from the beach. The pampas grass has naturalized through the area between the dunes and the houses.

Added much later from 2021:

My mother was on the walk with me. “Take a picture of that. Take a picture of that. Take a picture of that.” So I took a picture of her.

butterbeans, Family, North Carolina beaches, Sunset Beach

A Sunset Thanksgiving, 2009

My sister hosted our family in a rental oceanfront house at Sunset Beach this Thanksgiving.

When asked what was the favorite thing he had on his plate, my grand-nephew Jake said “butterbeans!”

That’s my boy. He’s a bit of a hambone.

We met a new member of the family – Casey, a rescued Sheltie.

We didn’t get to stay long, but it was quality time.

This is everybody but me and Casey.