Community Garden

After two years on the waiting list, we were awarded a plot in our town’s community garden area this Spring.  Even though we live in New Hampshire, we’re not in an area where the houses have large yards so we were looking forward to getting the extra space for a vegetable garden. 

We were informed about the garden plot very late Spring, so we weren’t very well prepared with seedlings ready or a well thought out plan.  We were then very much occupied by our dog, Scout, getting sick, so our garden plot does not have a very well tended appearance.  The garden area has at least two hundred plots.  Some people have been gardening there for many years, so they’ve had years to come up with the best plan for their area. 


Look at this one, for example.  Just look at the carefully planned rows of enormous vegetables and well tended paths with no weeds!   No, that’s not our garden. 

How about this one?  Don’t those cabbages look great!   No, not our garden.

This is our garden.  It’s close to 99% weeds with a row of carrots, a few beets, and some other random vegetables struggling through the jungle of weeds.


When talking to the other gardeners, I can’t help but feel a little self conscious in comparison.  Which plot is your’s? They will ask.  Ummm.. that one there, I’ll say.  Which is usually followed by a disapproving look and a ‘Oh, yes, I’ve seen that plot’ 

But within the weeds are the best carrots we’ve had..

and more basil than we can use…

With which we made chicken pesto with roasted carrots.  So it’s at least been worth it for the new recipes we’ll be trying. I had made pesto before, but this qualifies as new since it has both basil and carrot greens in it.  Roasting carrots is easy, but I’ve never tried cooking it, so that qualifies as new too.   I have this ambitious plan of trying a new recipe each week, so this would be recipes #1 and #2. 

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Take a picture, Dada!

… and we’re back for more infrequent blog posts!   

Mr. C loves our smartphones, with all their features, apps, and games.  One thing he likes to do is direct me in how and when to use the camera. My camera’s memory is filled with pictures he wanted to take. He especially likes to take pictures of clouds and sunsets. Here’s a few.  These were taken in Vermont, New Hampshire, Texas, Colorado, and New Mexico.






The Snow Shovel

This past week we had an early Spring snow storm that brought us a few inches of heavy wet snow.  After the storm ended, I went outside to shovel the walkway and driveway, a bit reluctantly since it’s April and I know that all this snow will melt in a few days anyway.  It was just me shoveling, as Mr. C and Ms. J were out taking Scout for a walk.  It was an early Spring day, and the temperature was approaching 50, so I really wasn’t in a rush to finish the shoveling.  It was already starting to melt, so why should I work so hard to clear it off the drive way anyway, I thought.

So I decided to take a break for lunch, and went inside to make a sandwich, leaving my shovel propped up on a snow pile  Between making lunch and eating lunch, I must have taken about a half hour.  Just as I finished my sandwich, the phone rang, which added another fifteen minutes or so to the time inside.  After my break, I thought I would go out and finish clearing off the side walk. However, when I went outside, my shovel was gone!

I looked all over the front yard and there was no sign of the shovel. It wasn’t in the big pile of snow next to the driveway, not in the pile next to the sidewalk, not leaning next to the back of my car in the driveway, not leaning next to the front of my car in the driveway. It was nowhere to be seen.

Then I looked down the street and saw my shovel sticking out of a pile of snow in a neighbor’s driveway.  It’s a very distinctive yellow color, with a yellow handle, and I remember the brand name was ‘Garant, and that the table had started to peel off the handle.  Is that my shovel?   Did my neighbor “borrow” my shovel ?

The house in question is four houses down, across the street, so I walked over to the shovel to check to see if it was mine.  It had the yellow handle, the yellow shovel, and the label was starting to peel off the handle.

‘Hmmm… why would this guy take my shovel?’, I thought.  Very odd.  I knew that this was a new family on the block, so maybe they didn’t have a shovel, or maybe they didn’t know where their shovel was in the pile of boxes they must have from moving in.  So I took the shovel back home and finished shoveling.

After I finished shoveling I put the shovel away, stacking it with the two other shovels I keep in the front entry way.  By this time it was about 3:00pm, Ms. J and C had come back home from walking the dog, and it was still early afternoon, so we were able to do quite a few other things the rest of the day.  I forgot to ask J what she thought of the missing shovel, we were just too busy doing other things and it didn’t occur to me at the time.

The next morning at about 5:00 am, Scout needed to go out.  He doesn’t bark to let us know he needs to go out, he shakes his head until his ears shake around making a distinctive sound.  It’s a fairly quiet sound, so often only one of us wakes up, me or Ms. J.   Since it was still early, J and C were still asleep, and since I was barely awake myself, I decided to just let him out into the back yard.  The back yard is fenced, so we can just let him run around out there if he needs to.  This has been a great advantage on freezing cold Winter nights. We can just open the back door, let Scout out, and wait inside where it’s warm.  So I put on my bathrobe and slippers, went down stairs to let him out.

I open the back door, Scout runs out, and just as I turn to go back inside, in the early morning light I see a snow shovel with a yellow handle next to the back door.  My shovel.  At the back door.  I didn’t leave it in the front yard when I went inside for lunch yesterday, I went in the back door and left the shovel at the back door.

Now I had stolen my new neighbor’s shovel and it was on my front porch.  What to do?    I don’t even know who these people are yet, they just moved in.   Should I wait until the morning and introduce myself as their neighbor down the street who stole their shovel ? So at about 5:15 am, I took the shovel walked down the street and put it back in the snow pile at the end of their driveway.  I did change from the bathrobe and slippers to a shirt and pants before doing that though.

 

 

 

 

Off the leash

One of the things I didn’t really think about when we got Scout was that we would have to take him out for some exercise every day. Every day.  Even in the middle of February.

Luckily, we’ve been having a fairly mild winter so far here in New Hampshire, but there have been days that I would never think of going outside much less going on a hike. We found out about a park in the nearby town of Amherst that encourages owners to let their dogs off the leash.  So off we went on a hike, in February, a few days after we had received about a foot of snow.

Turns out that Scout loves to run in the snow.

While he is getting bigger, he is often confronted with new experiences, like footbridges over mountain streams. He refused to cross this bridge at first, preferring to try to wade through the stream.  It took a few minutes of persuading him that it is actually not a good idea to try swimming through icy water in February, and wouldn’t he prefer to be up here with us on the dry bridge ?

He did finally pick up on the idea that footbridges are a good idea. However, he was then confronted with this bridge that had a stairway since the far side of the stream had a higher elevation.  I had to carry him up the stairs. He did manage to go down the stairs on his own though, so he’s learning fast. Which is good since he weighs close to forty pounds now.

Here’s an old stone wall in the forest. You see these all over the New England area. Scout jumped over the wall, landing in a huge pile of snow. I had to go over the wall to pick him up and carry him back over the wall.

This dog is determined to get me to loose weight, wether he forces me to get out of the house, or carry him up scary wooden staircase, or wade through a foot of snow.  At least it was a sunny day.

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Scout’s Journey Home – Part 2

 

Here is the long awaited conclusion of our trip back from New Mexico with our new dog,  the added bonus for this post is that it comes with blurry photos taken from a moving car!

On our first day, we travelled from Santa Fe, New Mexico to Joplin, Missouri, a total of 780 miles.  A bit short of the lower end of our goal of driving 800 to 1,000 miles on the first day, so we’ll have to try to drive further on our second day.

We left our hotel in Joplin as early as we possibly could. It was probably about 6:30 am, and it was still dark out.  We had the added incentive that it was not a very clean hotel room, and the staff were all very surly.  A name brand hotel does not guarantee you will have a pleasant stay, apparently.  It had started to rain when we left and I was hoping to get in as many miles as possible before the rain turned into snow.

After a couple of stops to let Scout run around for awhile, we stopped in St. Louis for lunch at the Blue City Deli. Yesterday’s stop at ‘The Big Texan’ was the highlight of the trip for Mr. C, today’s stop at the Blue City Deli was the highlight of the trip for me.  If we’re ever in St. Louis , we’ll have to stop here again.  Sorry I don’t have pictures of our food, just an interior shot of the restaurant.  Friendly staff, fresh ingredients and some of the best sandwiches I’ve had.  We try to find local places when we’re traveling and this was a great find.  The iPhone helped us out more than once with directions and advice on where to eat. Later in the day, I also found out that you can ask Google to find you a ‘coffee shop near Route 465 in Indiana’ and will receive several results.

 

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We had told Mr. C that something we would see along the way was the Gateway Arch in St.Louis.  So he was excited to finally arrive in St.Louis to see it.  If there was time, we were going to take a tour of the Arch too.  Once we arrived though it really started to rain and the fog moved in, we also found out that the Arch was closed for renovation work.

It was non-stop rain from the time we left the Deli until we arrived home. Here’s the Mississippi River, and the Arch can be seen on the other side of that bridge.  Mr. C was not too thrilled with our view of the Arch.

The rain and fog continued all day.  We drove through Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio on the second day, and unfortunately didn’t see much beyond the rain and fog.

This could be Illinois, or maybe Indiana.

Terre Haute, Indianapolis, Springfield, Columbus.  We drove through so many towns and cities on the second day, but saw nothing but fog.

Endless driving from 6:30 am to 11:30pm, exhausted, we arrived in Akron Ohio. A total of 825 miles.  Scout was great in the car, sleeping for most of the trip, but once we arrived at our hotel in Akron, he was filled with energy from sleeping all day.  I had to toss a ball for him from one side of the hotel room to the other for about two hours before he was tired out and could get to sleep.  While Mr. C was sleeping, the dog was running in circles around the room.  It was about 2:00 am before I was able to get to sleep myself.

Day three started early again, 6:30am, and the rain was falling even harder than yesterday. We had to travel through the northern part of Pennsylvania and then through New York today and I was hoping to not get caught in a snow storm.

Northern Pennsylvania looks like it would be a beautiful area, rolling green hills and small historic towns, but unfortunately we didn’t see any of it.  On the third day, we drove from Akron, Ohio through Pennsylvania, New York, Massachusetts, and then into New Hampshire, a total of 655 miles.

We were very lucky that the temperature didn’t drop any further, and the rain did not turn to snow on that third day in the car.  The one and only time we hit any traffic on the entire 2,345 mile trip was in Massachusetts, on the Mass Turnpike.  The rain was coming down so hard I could barely see beyond the windshield, and the traffic was moving at a crawl.  Luckily I know a lot of back roads through the state so we got off the Pike and finally ended up home at about 11:30pm.  Once again, Scout was completely wound up from being stuck in the car so we had to throw a ball from one side of our kitchen to the other for two hours until he was tired out again.

For years I had wanted to drive across the country, it was unfortunate that the weather was not better than it was though. I went through a lot of states that I had never visited before; Oklahoma, Indiana, Missouri.  I had been to parts of Texas, Pennsylvania, and Ohio, but not the areas we drove through. I feel like we missed a lot having to drive at night for long portions of the trip, but at least it wasn’t snowing and now we have some places to visit if we’re ever in theses areas again.

Welcome to sunny New Hampshire, Scout!

New Hampshire?   You took me to New Hampshire?

Andres Institute of Art

You’d think that after living in New Hampshire for fifteen years we would have seen all of the local sites, but no, we’re always finding something new.

Combining two of our favorite things, hiking and art, The Andres Institute of Art made for a perfect late Fall outing.  Andres is the largest outdoor sculpture park in New England. Located in Brookline, New Hampshire, it is  on the site of a former ski run. Each year, the institute invites sculptors from around the world to stay at the site and provide a sculpture which is then placed on one of the hiking trails that lead up the mountain.

Mr. C loved running around the trail, looking for the next sculpture, as if it were a scavenger hunt.  There are about 80 sculptures at the park, here are some of our favorites.

Each sculpture has a small plaque placed on a nearby tree with information on the piece, and where the sculptor is from.  The sculptors come from all over the world, not just the United States, including; Germany, Switzerland, Nigeria, Bangladesh, Armenia, Georgia, Spain, Columbia, England, and lots of others.  I wonder what the sculptors from countries like Bangladesh or Armenia thought of rural New Hampshire ?

Since the location was a former ski run, the trails were sometimes a bit steep, but not too bad.  The forest looks like it’s still recovering from being used for skiing, as most of the trees are still small and scrubby.  The ski run closed more than twenty years ago, it’ll be awhile until the trees reach their full maturity.

There is a small quarry nearby, I think some of the stone used is from there. Most of the sculptures are stone, but not all, there are some metal works as well. Andres offers demonstrations on the various techniques throughout the year.

This one below is of a hickory nut.

I think these are supposed to be the planets of the solar system, so the solar flare in the photo is appropriate!

Another solar flare.


This one below is not a sculpture, it’s the rusty remains of part of chair from one of the ski lifts.

I remember that the sculptor of this one is from Nigeria, it might be evident from the carvings on the rocks.

Here’s a giant donut.  This sculptor is from Germany.  “Ich bin ein berliner!”

This one is my favorite.  The sculptor is from the Republic of Georgia, it’s the only one that I remember the title of “Conscious”.

We only saw about twenty five of the eighty or so sculptures since we only hiked on one trail, we’ll have to go back again.

Fall Apples

It’s apple season here in New Hampshire,  and since Mr. C can eat two or three apples a day we always make a few trips to area orchards every Fall.  

Here are a couple of very old apple trees, they might be some of the oldest at the farm.


There’s always a lot of apples that drop to the ground before they can be picked. 

The farm’s chickens like to look for the worms in the fallen apples, or maybe they’re just eating the apples and not the bugs.


 These were just out of reach! I tried holding C up for him to grab them, but he’s getting a little too big for that now. I could only hold him up for a few seconds before I had to give up.

Recently, a local radio show interviewed a botanist who specializes in trees. The station asked listeners to post photos of their favorite tree to the station’s website. I meant to send in a photo of the tree below, but didn’t get to it in time.  It’s a huge old Maple in the apple orchard nearby. In a week or so the leaves on this tree will turn bright golden yellow and red before falling.  The drought we’ve been having will most likely mean that this year the colors won’t be as dramatic.  I’ll have to find a photo from a previous year and post it.

Apples and Mums at the farm stand.


The pumpkin patch. 


The farm cat.  The farmer tells me he’s a very good mouser.


Some of the apples we picked.  I think we have thirty or so apples, enough to last C a week or so!