Life

I’ve been off my game this week because life got in my way. I hate it when that happens.

It has been a week of medical visits and complications from an eye surgery that didn’t go wrong but didn’t go as smoothly as anticipated. It will work itself out, but it’s taking longer and causing a few challenges.

I’m guessing life doesn’t care that it is prime gardening time for me or that I can’t really sew, quilt or read all the blog posts I want with only one good eye. Good thing I finished my red/white/blue herringbone lap quilt last weekend. Thanks, Dawn, for the suggestion to use primitive stars.

I just keep telling myself ‘suck it up buttercup’ and keep on doing what I can. So, my husband drove me to a nursery, and I bought a new beautiful red bee balm. I feel better already. I can’t bend over to plant it, but that’s where a helpful husband comes in handy. 🙂

We’ve been going out between 6-7 a.m. to pick raspberries. We’re still averaging three pints a day. We’ve got almost 15 pounds in the freezer so far.

I ate my first ripe cherry tomato yesterday – no photo, it was gone too quickly. The daylilies are still putting on a show, but the hydrangea are starting to give them some competition. We have a lot of hydrangea including Annabelle Mopheads, which I love.

Normally, I read a lot which is somewhat challenging as well, but I tried an audio book which has been pretty enjoyable but slower – new experience so that is always good.

Hope your weekend is a good one. I’m missing a boat ride and a tour of Celia Thaxter’s garden on the Isle of Shoals tomorrow with fellow master gardeners. Now, that is a bummer.

However, there is also something I’m very thankful for this week, and that is we escaped the wicked storm that came through on Thursday afternoon. Numerous homes in our immediate area were severely damaged by high winds and downed trees. We only had a large dead branch come down, which was really a good thing, and our power stayed on while we enjoy 90 degree days.

So, if you’re looking for me this weekend, you may find me right here in the shade of the side yard listening to an audio book and trying not to notice the weeds that aren’t getting pulled. 🙂

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Posted in Gardening, New England | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 66 Comments

Berries and more Berries

It’s July, hot, humid, and it’s raspberry season here in New England. We’ve grown raspberries since we moved here in 2006, and we are experiencing a bumper crop this year.

We are picking two to three pints a day. We’ve put almost ten pounds in the freezer already. Raspberries in the freezer mean raspberry pie all winter long.

Raspberries are easy keepers. Plant, add a simple trellis system, prune the branches that fruited after the season ends, and start again next year.

Our row of plants is only about 12′ long, but it continues to keep us in fresh raspberries year after year.

Raspberries produce runners. I replant them within the confines of the row or pot them up and offer them to friends or fellow gardeners.

We’ve tried blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, Concord grapes, and kiwi. Raspberries are by far the easiest to grow, and a big plus is that deer, birds, chipmunks, and squirrels leave them alone.

The hoops in the photo are holding up netting to cover four small low bush blueberries. The birds pick them clean if I don’t cover them.

I have a long history picking berries. When I spent my summers on my grandparents’ farm up north, my grandpa and I would go berry picking several times a summer for raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries.

He knew all the farmers and the fields we could pick in. I’d wear a long sleeve shirt and overalls with a metal pail tied around my waist with a piece of rope. Glamorous visual, huh? But, those are great memories not only for spending time with my grandparents but also for the great berry eating. Let’s face it, if you are asked to wade chest high into thorny berry bushes the least that can happen is that you pick two for the bucket and one for yourself. Let’s just say, I was never too hungry when we got home. 🙂

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Posted in Gardening | Tagged , , , , , , | 62 Comments

Collage – WPC

This week’s photo challenge, collage, made me think of the flowers that are blooming right now in my garden.

There are gardeners who aren’t crazy about daylilies because, well, they only bloom for one day. But for that one day, their beautiful color and form just bring a smile to my face.

Plus, most gardeners don’t live down the road from a daylily farm – Birchwood Farms. 🙂

There are also native orange daylilies gracing the gardens, parks, and roads in our state.

As I added other colors to the beds, I moved the natives to the borders of the property.

Never let it be said that I pitched a plant when I could still enjoy it.

Do daylilies fall in the plus or minus column for your garden?

Be sure to check out the other collages this week.

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Posted in Flower Gardening, Photography, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 47 Comments

MIA

Missing in Action can mean a lot of things. In this case, it refers to my Uncle John, the youngest of my Mother’s four brothers. John was 19 years of age when he entered the service in the spring of 1943.

As I have matured (that sounds better than gotten older), there are certain things that I’ve had a serious compulsion to complete. Visiting John’s twenty-one year old brother, Allen’s, grave in Luxembourg was one of those things. Researching if there was anything I could do to help identify my Uncle John’s remains if they were ever recovered was another.

I emailed the US Army at Fort Knox and asked if I could donate DNA for identification purposes and was contacted immediately by a Case Manager with the Past Conflict Repatriations Branch at Fort Knox. As part of the DNA cheek swab submission process, a copy of his personnel file was included in the package.

John Sweet was a Staff Sergeant and the gunner on a ten member crew aboard a B-24. This information I’d known for several years.

However, I was certainly surprised while reading the Battle Casualty Report to learn that during a battle his plane collided with another B-24 from the same squadron over the Gulf of Martaban, Burma. Both planes exploded and their crews fell to their death into the Gulf of Martaban.

He was declared dead on Sunday, October 22, 1944, but according to a document marked sensitive in the file there were also two previous dates of death, 7 March 42, and 4 April 1946. I’m sure that confusion was not comforting to my grandparents, but I cannot even comprehend the number of deaths and the volumes of paper they were processing at that time.

Uncle John is memorialized on the Tablets at the Manila American Cemetery in the Philippines, which is the largest of all the ABMC cemeteries. This cemetery has burial plots for 17,191 Americans and 36,286 listed on the Tablets as missing in action, lost, or buried at sea.

Although this may seem to be an unhappy post on this beautiful Monday in July, it brings me satisfaction that I’ve done everything I can to make sure that if at any point in the future his remains are found he can be buried and recognized for his service. My Grandparents would want it that way.

If you have a loved one that has made the ultimate sacrifice, the personnel file is certainly an insight into their service life. My Uncle John has been gone for over 70 years, but he is not forgotten.

The American Battle Monuments Commission, ABMC, has a website and is on Facebook. They do an amazing job on our behalf of recognizing and respecting individuals who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our Country.

If this topic is of any interest to you, there is a fellow blogger, GP Cox, who has a great site where he reports and reflects on past conflicts – Pacific Paratrooper War Era Information.
————
Photo credits: B24 screenshot from the web, map from the Britannica website, Manilla America Cemetery shots from the ABMC website.

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Posted in Family | Tagged , , , , , , , | 42 Comments

How goes it?

July has arrived in New England with some really nice summer temperatures. The tomato plants are huge, there are several small tomatoes set on, the spring lettuce is almost done, the raspberries are just starting, and the lavender and hosta are beautiful.

I’ve been working on a couple of Master Gardener projects, and doing daily maintenance work here. I also went to a very interesting wicking class at the farm of a fellow Master Gardener. If you are interested in wicking, you can read the post here. If you have questions, let me know.

In between gardening adventures, I finished my small barn quilt that I attempted after my class with Nancy Morgan. What did I learn? It takes a lot of focused effort, requires logical steps, ability to sew straight over previous stitches, artistic talent, and a machine that has feet that are easily exchanged.

I made plenty of errors such as  forgetting a window and failing to change the top thread at the right time because I was sewing from the back so some dark threads ending up showing.

Changing thread depending upon whether you were sewing on the back or the front and taking feet on and off for straight stitching or free motion quilting was a constant challenge, requiring thinking ahead, and was fairly time consuming. But, it’s okay, because I did finish it, and it turned out okay. Will I try another one – maybe so I can apply what I learned from this one.

Bottom line – whatever Nancy Morgan charges for her amazing fabric creations is worth every penny.

I also started a small red, white, and blue lap quilt in a herringbone pattern. The top is done and pinned, and the binding is pieced together part way.

I started the machine quilting but didn’t like the way it looked so spent an hour ripping it out, and now I’m back to square one literally. I need to find some inspiration for the quilting piece.

We have a week of sunshine and temperatures in the mid 80’s. It’s summer, and it is a beautiful thing.

I’ll put in some weeding and watering time this morning and then head to the sewing machine this afternoon.

Just for chuckles I’ll share how many acorn seedlings I’ve pulled out of the beds as of last week – 557. So, when I don’t comment on photos of squirrels, don’t take it personally. 🙂

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Posted in Gardening, Quilting | Tagged , , , , , | 52 Comments

Thursday Doors

Welcome to Thursday Doors western style.

Fort Larned, Kansas, was part of a series of military forts established to provide safe passage for travelers in the 1800s.

The first military outpost established in this area was called “Camp on Pawnee Fork” and then “Camp Alert.” It was then moved to its current location and named Fort Larned for Col. Benjamin R. Larned, the US Army paymaster.

Sod and adobe buildings were originally constructed but then in the 1860’s they were replaced with the stone and timber buildings you see today.

Fort Larned was a military complex consisting of nine buildings arranged around a 400’ square parade ground. There are many openings around the facility including those on simple wooden coffins.

I have been to a few Civil War battlefields and to Gettysburg. Fort Larned can hold its own right up there with the big boys. The grounds and the buildings inside and out are pristine.As you look at these bunks, consider the two blankets and two blue pillows on each bunk. After a long day, two soldiers slept on each bunk head to foot. The beds in the hospital were huge compared to their regular sleeping quarters.

I could upload a lot more photos, but I think you get the idea – each building is furnished with reproductions that bring the Fort to life.

Throughout the 1800’s, the soldiers stationed at Fort Larned were tasked with protecting the flow of people, supplies, mail, and eventually the crews working on the railroad expansion while at the same time attempting to keep peace with the Native American Indians.

Fort Larned is an exquisite peek back into our history right down to the embrasures where you rested your rifle

If you ever find yourself speeding along I-70 in the middle of Kansas consider a detour because I think you will find the facility and its history fascinating.

These doors are part of Norm Frampton’s Thursday Doors, June 29, 2017.
__________

Map Photo Credit:   Forts of the Frontier West

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Posted in Photography, Thursday Doors | Tagged , , , , , , , | 46 Comments

Pawnee Rock

On our recent trip to Kansas, we stopped at Pawnee Rock.

Back in the 1800’s, thousands of wagons heading west passed within 100 yards of Pawnee Rock. When you reached this point, it was considered midway between Independence, Missouri, and Santa Fe, New Mexico.

The town was a  station on the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway, contained a variety of stores, hotel, and an opportunity to ship grain, cattle and livestock.

The area was a popular stopping point because it allowed travelers to replenish provisions, was a sea of grass with herds of buffalo for meat, and provided an available water supply at the nearby Arkansas river.

It was also a challenging part of the Santa Fe Trail because Comanche, Kiowa, Arapaho, Cheyenne, and Pawnee Native American Indians were known to hold councils of war and peace at this rock.

From atop the rock they could see for miles in all directions which allowed them the opportunity to ambush approaching wagon trains.

Throughout the passing years, some of the rock was chipped away and used for building foundations and railroad beds. Today, you can climb the spiral staircase to the top of the pavilion and be at the same level as the original rock.

The site is now administered by the Kansas Historical Society and is part of the National Register of Historic Places. It also includes the grave of Pvt. Nehemiah Carson:  “1826-1846, Pvt. Carson died of some unknown illness at this point on July 13, 1846, and was buried nearby on the following day.”

Today, if you blink while driving through the town of Pawnee Rock, you will be through it. The only remaining store downtown is a small post office, and the population in 2016 was 234.

If you are passing this way, there is a paved road that allows you to drive up and around the rock and monument, park, and walk around. Stopping gives you an opportunity to reflect on our early American history and the hardships our ancestors endured to travel west and settle this great land.

Thursday Doors this week will conclude this trip by focusing on the doors of Fort Larned where soldiers were tasked with providing safe passage for the many travelers heading west.

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Posted in Traveling | Tagged , , , , , , , | 26 Comments