Six on Saturday – August 25, 2018 –

Today’s post is a melange of photos.

One and two were taken at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum. We had relatives visiting from the Portland area and this was a great way to introduce them to the history and culture of the Chesapeake.

I’ve been wanting to include some specific photos from the museum gardens. The one below was a project of a St. Michaels High School student who, several years ago, received a grant to install a butterfly garden. This photo shows just a piece of it. I saw my first Monarch butterfly of the season there this week, but it declined to be in my picture.

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2. There are two relocated dwellings at the museum which demonstrate the types of houses common on the shore in the 1700’s. It is important to remember that until the Bay Bridge was opened in July, 1952, the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake was isolated, only  accessed from the Baltimore area by boat or a long drive around the top of the bay and down through Delaware.

The house on the left in the photo below is the Mitchell House and was once the home of Eliza Bailey Mitchell, the sister of abolitionist Frederick Douglas. A former slave, Eliza and her free black husband, Peter, lived in this house and worked nearby on Perry Cabin Farm.

The log house on the right is a humble farm cabin, once common throughout rural Chesapeake. This dwelling served as the tenant farming house for Albert and Henrietta Wilson and their eight children for most of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Although small, this log cabin provided the basic essentials – a hearth for cooking, a table for gathering, and a dry, warm place to sleep at night.

My friend, Roger Galvin, designed raised garden beds to illustrate the types of food crops which would have been grown around houses like this in the 16th, 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. The paths between the beds are oyster shells.

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3. Now back to my back yard. Several crepe myrtles that were planted when small are now tall and really blooming for the first time. This is one of two that I rescued from someone’s trash. The home owner had put them out for the garbage men to take. They seemed healthy enough so I brought them home. That was probably eight years ago. (I’m a patient gardener.) It may have helped that one of the compost bins feeds the roots.

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4. One of my leaf castings sits on the deck. I keep a little water in it for the butterflies. The crepe myrtle in the bottom of that picture is growing from the roots of one I moved. Obviously I didn’t get it all. I don’t mind it there as long as I can keep it short.

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5. The garden that is going to get an overhaul this fall doesn’t look so back from this angle. Soaker hoses are connected to my four rain barrels that collect rain from the shed roof. This area is under water when we have heavy rains and dries out to concrete when we don’t have rain.

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6. A big job this fall is to remove this multiple trunked river birch. For a number of years I had it topped to keep it in scale with my house and to maintain a weeping look. I suppose I could have it trimmed to get a couple more years out of it, but I have several other small trees that will fill in when the birch is gone. The other trash rescued crepe mytle is one of those trees. You can see it blooming behind the right side of the birch. At the left side of that bed I have a flowering cherry. The area may look slightly bare for a couple of years, but, as I said, I’m patient.

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I hope you’ve enjoyed my Six on Saturday. The gardens are slowing down but the asters and golden rod are still to come.

Writing Between Leaf Castings and Fig Condiments

It’s raining this morning. This rain doesn’t have anything to do with Harvey in Texas and Louisiana. I’ve been watching the coverage and can’t imagine what all those people are going to do after the rain stops and the clean-up begins. It’s going to take years. Honestly, I don’t know how the whole Houston area could have been evacuated. Where would everyone have gone? And, not everyone has the resources to be able to leave. 

I had a leaf casting workshop scheduled, but that’s not going to happen. Actually it got cancelled yesterday afternoon when the “student” texted me from Lowe’s to say they were all out of the QuickCrete patcher with vinyl which is what we’ve been using. Maybe we bought out their supply. 

My yoga buddy, Gail, and I made the one shown below. It is the largest one we’ve made so far. It took two buckets of QuickCrete – 40 pounds and was 40″ long. We had to get more sand for the form to put the leaf on. I now have about 150 lbs of sand on the table.

The photo below gives a better idea of the size. It’s in the trunk of my Honda Accord. I delivered it to Gail at our morning yoga class. And had two more people beg to have a class.

The top edge of this one isn’t perfect, but I remind myself that leaves aren’t always either. Gail’s leaf is a third bigger than the one I made for Laura for Christmas last year.

Figs

Another yoga buddy, Hanna, has a surfeit of figs this year and gave me a bag that weighed over 5 pounds. I made some fantastic fig chutney and then a double batch of fig jam. I think we have enough jam to see us through the winter. Here’s the link for the recipe that I pulled off the internet. It’s delicious. Fig Chutney.

Of course, Hanna got a pint jar of Fig Chutney.

I put the chutney and jam through a 10 minute hot water canning bath before storing. I made half pints of the jam for gifts.

During all of this our 10 year old French door refrigerator died. Higgins and Spencer, our local furniture and appliance store, quickly brought us a loaner late on a Saturday afternoon and put it in the garage. We transfered food and didn’t lose anything. Apparently 10 years is the expected life of big appliances these days. The replacement has been ordered but it may be another week. I didn’t want ice and water in the door. We had that in the old one and we never used it. And I wanted white which must not be a popular color. Old fart statement: I expect major appliances to last at least 25 years!

I’m hoping the dishwasher, stove and washer and dryer, which were all bought at the same time ten years ago, don’t decide to die for awhile.

Stepping down into the garage to the fridge is a pain, but I remind myself that in earlier times I could have been walking through the rain to the spring house.

Writing Update

The first book in the Caribbean series is off to the proof reader. I am now looking at the second book. I think because of a plot twist that’s crucial in the third book (not yet completed) that I need to add some fore shadowing to the second book. Republishing gives one a chance to fix some things.

Today I am having a phone consultation about the republishing process with Ally Machate. I know Ally from the Bay to Ocean Writers Conference. She’s been one of our speakers many times. I’m hoping this will help me be clearer about the order of the steps to be taken.

So the writing continues every day with breaks from my desk for leaf castings and fig condiments.

 

 

 

 

 

So Much to Do, So Little Time…

The annual Bay to Ocean Writers Conference is 20 years old in 2017. I attended my first conference the year after we moved to St. Michaels, MD – in 2007. The next year I was on the planning committee doing publicity and have been ever since in various roles. I’ve even been a co-chair with Laura Ambler and Diane Marquette a couple of years.

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Currently I (with a committee) find the thirty plus conference speakers we need, update the website, oversee production of the conference program, answer emails sent to the conference mailbox, update the evaluation form and pull together the information, and put down tape on the college floor the morning of the conference to make sure people know how to get to the cafeteria and the second building we use. It’s a  lot and as much as I love this event that brings an affordable writers conference to the Eastern Shore, this will be my last year doing all these tasks. I need to have time to write.

Today I was involved in filming a short documentary about the conference. We talked about how the conference got started and how it has evolved as the publishing world changed dramatically. When the conference began none of us were concerned about marketing on social media and there was no on demand printing. Once the film is available I’ll put it on the website and you can take a look.

I am also going off the Eastern Shore Writers Association board in January. I have been acting as the membership chair but we are transitioning to Wild Apricot, a membership software that will do most of the tasks I was doing. More time freed up.

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This weekend is Christmas in St. Michaels – a 30 year old event that raises money for good causes in the Bay Hundred area.

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The Bay Hundred is the area from St. Michaels down to Tilghman Island that could muster one hundred militia men during the Revolutionary War.

This is a very giving community. People work year round to make this festive event happen. There are so many moving parts beginning with a big party on Friday night. I went with a couple of lady friends one year (there was no way I was going to convince my husband to put on a tux) but after that decided I could donate to the cause and not go to the party. And it wasn’t like I had a closet full of gala outfits. This year they are not calling the event a Gala, but it costs the same. Apparently lots of good food, open bar and music. It will be fun for those who attend and I will be home in my PJs in front of the fire we’re now having every night. It’s very cozy.

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I baked cookies to be sold at Santa’s Wonderland for Saturday and on Sunday I am a docent at one of the houses on the house tour. It’s down the street (on the water) from my house. My house has a water view if you stand at the end of the driveway and squint.

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I am hoping to get out to mulch/mow the leaves still on the yard, but winter temps have finally arrived so I may just move the mower from the garage to the shed and call it an end to fall. Then I can organize the garage and think about painting those elephant ear leaf castings I made in October.

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Our dining out group gathered at our house this week. We’d made a reservation (way in advance) for dinner at Scossa, but they called to say they had double booked the room we were supposed to be in. I knew that meant they had gotten a booking for a larger party than our group of ten. But it all worked out. Some of our group have had health problems this fall and weren’t sure if they’d be able to go to a restaurant. I said come to the Burt’s and if you can only stay twenty minutes it will be okay. If you need to come in your PJs that would be fine, too. Everyone showed up wearing clothes and everyone brought something so it was easy. I did a ham. Another wife made one of those decadent potato casseroles, another a fabulous spinach salad with cranberries and gorgonzola and another green beans with lemon butter. For dessert one couple brought a beautiful trifle that was amazing. It was so light we were all lulled into believing it had no calories.

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I’m looking out the window of my office at the leaves on the grass. I might just have to dress for Antarctica and start up the mulching mower.