Wednesday, July 30, 2008

luckily no kudzu

Abandoning a garden for more than a week is a dangerous thing to do in July. We came home to three ripe cherry tomatoes, five sugar snap peas from the one plant that’s still hanging on through the heat, and a pumpkin plant trying to take over Earth. While we were gone it snaked five feet across the garden (putting down roots ever 18 inches or so) over the chives to an unsuspecting tomato plant, and pushed up another four feet through the tomato cage. It grew more than a foot a day. Now that’s scary.

Monday night I wrestled it down. The plan was for the pumpkins to grow along the fence abandoned by the sugar snap peas and I redirected it that way. Looks like I’m going to have to monitor it daily to keep it in check. The tomato plants are having enough trouble finding places to grow without intruders; they’re wending their way over their neighbors’ cages and one has made a dive for the basil.

Lots of little zucchinis also greeted us, and only one foot-long. We ate it yesterday and it was still incredibly sweet. I made a tabouli-ish salad, only with beans and raw zucchini and without tomatoes, utilizing the mint plants which three people donated to us following the mysterious demise of our patch. C was hungry a few hours later so I offered him a raw yellow squash and a knife to cut it up with. I’m so glad he has become willing to eat much of what we give him. This is the first year I’ve even considered serving raw summer squash to my family and no one’s complained yet. (I think Dan has been tempted to but he knows better.)

Oh, and raw beets are pretty fantastic too. The first recipe listed here (but we don’t have fancy ingredients on hand so ours had walnuts instead of pistachios and no goat cheese). A mistook it for our Thanksgiving cranberry sauce. I feared she would burst into tears when she took a bite and the taste didn’t match but she didn’t bat an eye.

Twin Trees play-by-play (warning- long)

Day 1: The kids are so badly behaved in the car that Dan and I aren't speaking to them by the time we arrive. It rains as we unload the car. Dan and A go raspberry picking but A doesn't like to walk through the tall wet grass. Dan, whose packing responsibilities were limited to his own needs, finds that he brought no socks or underwear. We break out the Twice 55 songbook (1) and argue about whether there is ever any merit to drawing out the last three syllables of each line of the Doxology (2).

Day 2: We go to North Creek in search of groceries, sunscreen, and socks. C is unbearable. There are no socks to be found, though a Rite Aid employee suggests we try the deli (?!) next door. Alas, it is closed, and Dan considers rifling through a rafting company's lost-and-found. We stop by the beach at Ski Bowl on the way home. A leech attaches itself to A's ankle and its removal involves squishing it. (Refraining from jumping up and down and screaming EW EW EW, and instead smiling and telling A about the cute little "snail" that liked her so much, took all of my will.) At home we realize C never ate his breakfast; once he finishes it he remains unbearable but in a cheerier way. At least until he slips into the brook and scrapes up his leg. I distract him from the pain by musing about how Bactine has gotten away with falsely advertising its "no-sting formula" for so many years. A says it's been so long since we've been at our house that she doesn't remember what it looks like.

Day 3: I decide to go for a run, but think better of it about five yards up the hill on Cemetery Road. My parents join us for a hike around Thirteenth Lake and we pick lots and lots of blueberries. C loses his wallet on the trail and is distraught (3). We give up on the local map puzzle; while only 400 pieces, it consists solely of contour lines. Dan finds NEW socks for $10 at a rafting company and invests in a single pair (4).

Day 4: We head back into town for building supplies, ice cream, and TP. I steal an unguarded wireless connection in the Grand Union parking lot to ensure that Friday's work snafu didn't escalate. We bribe the kids to play together (5). We stop at the swimming hole again (in the rain) and are surprised to find a teenaged lifeguard on duty, accompanies by two friends loudly discussing the quality of their weed and Husker Du. I dirty every pot in the kitchen to make dinner while Dan tries to learn Spanish. We utilize the military songs in Twice 55 to convince C to sing with us (6), and find that despite the limitations of the house dictionary, it is able to define "caisson" for us.

Day 5: Rain postpones our beach plans so we sing "If I Had a Crowbar" while taking out a defunct piece of drywall from the Rose Room (7). My parents arrive with a new sheet and we commence grumbling about our ancestors’ building techniques (8). My mother walks the kids to the larger creek and I revel in the silence. Dan and I replace the terrifying pictures of puppies and kittens to the repaired wall, thinking that way no one will notice the expanse of white among the fake wood paneling.

Day 6: We trek up to Raquette Lake to see the work my parents have done on their cabin and to enjoy Golden Beach (9). My kids forgot to take their smart pills- A asks where she can fill her bucket with water at the beach (uh- the lake maybe?) and C cannot grasp the concept of floating in an inner tube. We decide to forego dinner out to avoid child-meltdowns ruining an otherwise good day and head home for the lasagna Dan had made in the morning before I got up (10). Dan coats the seams of a leaking roof with sealant and hopes it does the trick.

Day 7: C demands a trip to Hooper Mine and we comply. There are red raspberries and coyote scat on the trail. I encourage C to descend via the scary rocky cliff face (11) and rip my only pair of shorts (12) accompanying him. Dan and A drop us off at the driveway so we can lie around and read while they refill the water jugs and play by the river. I manage to create a reasonably tasty dinner utilizing the last of our food stores (13) and replace the lightstring leading upstairs with an equally antique and knotted drapery pull. We have a campfire after it stops raining. C escorts A into the woods to search for birchbark and, shockingly, refrains from pushing her into the ravine.

Day 8: I yell at people while packing and cleaning. And we’re off! Pictures to follow.

(1) Which really should be named "Twelve Dozen" based on its song count, but anyway.
(2) Especially since they still pronounce "'nly" as only one syllable.
(3) Dan and I both advised him not to bring it to no avail.
(4) He continues to save his lone pair of sorta-clean boxers for special occasions.
(5) Not for the first time, but this time was notable because it actually worked.
(6) Our enthusiastic rendition of The Battle Hymn of the Republic may have frightened away the rodents for the next few weeks.
(7) We are surprised to find that the fake woodgrain pattern was factory-applied to the drywall. The lumberyard, alas, doesn't sell it anymore. How shocking.
(8) The studs were rotated 90 degrees, so there's only 2" between the bathroom and bedrooms, and they were installed 4' apart. We don’t like to wonder what’s holding up the roof.
(9) An especially fun beach for kids, because it’s nice and sandy and stays shallow a long way out. It is always windy, however, which only my mother considers a benefit to a swimming beach. This also means there are lots of waves which produce ripples in the sand underwater. My cousin Rebecca told me that they were snakes lurking under the sand and I fully believed her.
(10) He planned to bring it with us to Raquette Lake but I forced him to rethink that when he had no plan for how we would cool it and then reheat it at dinnertime.
(11) I thought it would be an exciting confidence-building adventure, and I went first so I’d break his fall if he slipped. (I’d like to say I’d catch him, but chances are I probably couldn’t.)
(12) Peter Harris and the church thrift shop have failed me this summer.
(13) The 1935 Fannie Farmer Cookbook was no help in telling me how best to combine turnips, lentils, and feta but I managed.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

vacation in review

we enjoyed a much needed week away from our house and work up at Twin Trees in North River (which now consists only of rafting companies as the sole businesses, but at least they sell socks for those who forget to pack them, like me :).

Even though there was a thunderstorm virtually every day, we still managed to fit in fun hike around nearby 13th lake where we picked wild blueberries, lots of swimming in various bodies of water--C is improving by the week with his swimming endurance and confidence, a day on Raquette Lake (the only sunny all-day day) with Jim and Shelley where the kids played in the sand on Golden Beach and in the water most of the day, our traditional short hike with a good view up to the old Hooper Garnet Mine--this year A was big enough to go to the high cliff overlook too and we fit in some red raspberry gathering there as well, some fix-it projects at the cabin, a campfire one night in between rainshowers, local walks and playing in the yard and brook by camp, and lots of reading and indoor time while it rained. Here are a couple pictures, below. Click to enlarge.


Friday, July 18, 2008

more raspberries

I have at least 16 quarts of whole black raspberries frozen now. As the season winds down it’s getting hard to find freezer-quality berries (there are still some that are firm and of perfect ripeness out there but they’re few and far-between) so I relaxed my standards yesterday and picked a batch to make jam with. We now have two quarts of very tasty preserves. I was too lazy to can them (it was HOT yesterday) so they’re in the freezer, but we’ll still be able to enjoy it all winter if I can keep people from eating it with spoons.

Raspberry season will likely just be beginning in North River while we’re there next week. Alas, I don’t think I’ll be able to convince my family to maintain their enthusiasm for long picking expeditions any longer. Especially amongst blackflies.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008


A bawled for twenty minutes after she saw the tree limb with her brand new swing being hacked down. Dan spent a whole day installing the swing two weeks ago, replacing the baby swing and giving her a treat to help compensate for her broken elbow. Our next-door neighbor Sue, who owns the trunk of the tree, didn't trouble to tell us she was going to have the limb cut off. (And given that it only overhung our property, we strongly suspect that she only did it out of spite. We wonder if she watched Dan working on it, chuckling to herself.) We're friendly with all of our neighbors except her. She dissed Dan the day she moved in; we've been nothing but pleasant to her, but she just plain doesn't like us.

Now I'm so angry that I can't stop shaking, and am trying to figure out how to turn the other cheek rather than exact revenge. And trying to figure out where on earth we can re-install the swing so A won't freak out over its loss every day, which is going to be a trick because all the other potential tree limbs on our property are like 40 feet up.

Edited to add: Just learned that when Dan went over to confront her, the tree guys offered to re-install the swing for us on a higher branch. Sue said "no way." It wouldn't actually have worked anyway, but her attitude is totally ridiculous.

Monday, July 07, 2008

watched pots

We keep staring at the green cherry tomatoes but it doesn’t seem to make them ripen any faster.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

we are not alone

The gmail quick-reply box decided about a month ago to randomly default to reply-all. This is extremely hard for me to remember and decidedly not ideal. I've inadvertently sent replies to lists of people a half dozen times now- luckily none of them extremely embarrassing, but half committed minor social faux pas. Oops.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008