Monday, June 18, 2018

Fallen Down The Rabbit Hole of Retirement

Hi Dear Folk,

I might have fallen down the rabbit hole of retirement.  I'm stopping by to say hello!

Today is going to be a scorcher.  I was out in my garden at five this morning.  A friend gave me some Solomon's Seal, which I wanted to get in the ground before the heat became unbearable.  I think I found a good position for it by the garage where my pond patio is, hopefully enough shade.

I love the early mornings in summer, the freshness of a new day, the whole day spreads ahead of you with such potential.  Birds singing and a cup of tea, some morning reading.  Potter in the garden here and potter over there.  That's the joy of retirement.  In fact I'm at the point where I don't know how I ever went to work and even kept some semblance of order around the house and garden.

Bathroom taps are leaking again, and we have a couple of plumbers coming today to estimate putting in new ones.  Having the plumber come involves emptying the laundry closet and taking out a shelf to have access to view the plumbing from behind.  Not looking forward to doing that.  The whole bathroom needs a revamp so this is a stop gap.

I have a Jewish Apple cake in the oven along with some chicken breasts, Rob requested chicken salad, so thought I'd conserve energy and cook them together.  Plus with no AC I it seemed a good idea to get it done this morning before the heat is too over whelming.

I'm just finishing off some fingerless mitts, crocheted with the same yarn of my half star shawl.  I also made a beret to match.  After this I may put the crocheting away for a while, it just seems too hot for it.  I have a dress that I bought at the thrift, but the top is too big.  I'm thinking of taking off the skirt piece and making that into a skirt and then maybe a head piece or scarf with the top.  Quite a pretty fabric.

Here is the set I've crocheted this yarn is by Lion Brand and is called CupCake the colour is Moody Blue.  I wish their was a little less beige and a little more green, but on the whole I like it.

This beret pattern I have crocheted before, only this time I added several more pattern repeats to make it larger.

Picot edging around the fingerless mitts.

I'd rather work in my garden, which leads to procrastination on the cleaning of the house front, including all the windows that need cleaning inside and out, plus painting on the outside of the house, we may have to break down and get some estimates on that.  I must set a task for each day and get to it.  First painting is the shed door which Mr. B. sanded down for me.  So now the ball is in my court.

Plus we need to have a yard sale to clear out the garage because now Rob has two cars, the Mini which we picked up a couple of weekends ago from Washington, DC and he will keep the Miata, but he wants to house that in the garage.  It made no sense to sell the Miata, he would never get out of it what he has put into it.  Heck if he wasn't keeping it I'd buy it with all I know that he has done on that car.  It's a fun local summer car.  Very noisy for any long distance driving and no AC.  He will be safer in the Mini on the long distance trips that he takes.  I think his version has six airbags.

I have been reading Wallace Stegner I liked Crossing to Safety.  Although well written, I can't say I liked the story of The Big Rock Candy Mountain, just the futile sadness of some lives.  A wrong decision in youth and a wasted life.  It's not that his other books don't carry that theme, but this was especially sad.  Set in the early twentieth century, a young girl of Norwegian descent has two marriage proposals, one would have set her on a path of security, surrounded by family and the other would set her on a nomadic road.


Sunday, June 10, 2018

The Coal House 1927 Blaenavon, South Wales

Hi Dear Folk,

I have just finished watching The Coal House on You Tube.  It's a historic reenactment for one month of what it was like to be a miner and a miner's family living in Blaenavon, South Wales, in 1927.  There are ten episodes, produced by BBC Wales in 2007.  Blaenavon is a World Heritage Center.

It does make you think, very hard times, but a much closer sense of community.  I love the Welsh singing always have.  The children did not at all miss the Tele and their iPads.  No doubt though it was a hard life and the life expectancy of both men and women was much less.  The accident and death rate in the mines was very high and the women were just worn out by all the work.  I remember my father saying of his paternal grandmother that the doctor said she just died of hard work, she had twelve children, and was a Dorset, shepherd's wife.

If you haven't watched this already you might enjoy it.



Friday, June 8, 2018

Scones with American Measurements

Hi Dear Folk,

Preparing for lunch with a friend.

Setting the tea tray, with my old Betty Brown Teapot from England and the flower tea cosy I crocheted.

I love that brown dish from a pottery in the UK.  I was with my mum and sister when I bought it.  We all bought a couple of items.  Fond memories.

I came across this lovely Scottish lemon curd and strawberry jam with champagne, it's delicious.  May even enter the win a trip to Scotland.

Scones, I haven't made them forever, so decided to write down my own American version in cups.  I know measuring with cups is not as accurate as weighing in grams, but my is it easier.  Plain ones for Mr. B and scones with raisins for The Boy and I.  They were delicious, maybe could have kept the depth thicker when rolling them out.  One thing I embraced when moving to the USA was measuring in cups.

Scone Recipe with American Measurements

2 Cups Flour Sifted
4 Tea Sps Baking Powder (sifted in with flour)
1/2 Cup White Sugar (can put in less to taste and especially if you sprinkle with sugar on top)
1 Stick Butter (8 Tbsps)
1 Egg Beaten
Milk to mix
1/4 Cup Raisins if desired (pour boiling water over them, drain, pat dry and shake with a little flour to dust.  My grandma always told me to do this.)
Bake 350 F
15 Minutes or until golden brown on top

Sift flour and baking powder together, rub in butter, add sugar and raisins (another alternative is cheese) Mix beaten egg with enough milk to form into a dough ball.  Knead on floured board and roll out to a depth of at least one and a quarter inches, if not more.  Cut with a circle cutter approx size of about 2" circumference.  (Can also just pat entire dough ball into a circle then cut into triangles on the baking sheet.)  Coat with left over egg and milk wash, sprinkle with sugar.  Bake on a greased baking sheet.

Now when I bought this silver sugar coal skuttle, I'm sure the seller said something about putting it out with strawberries and cream.  But my friend said her mum had one and it was set out with sugar lumps in, dah! Of course, lumps of coal, cubes/lumps of sugar.  Next time I'll get sugar lumps, harder to find over here in the USA.

I have a mixture of pottery on the tray.  A milk jug from Grandma, a sugar bowl from a pottery near Niagara Falls in Canada.  Old 1960's cups and saucers.

Out in the garden, of course the sun has shined all week except for our lunch on Wednesday, where you needed a shawl to keep the chill off, but I was not to be thwarted.  We came inside for lunch.

I made a chicken salad and as I so often do, used what I had in the fridge, which was of course cooked chicken cubed, diced onions, three different peppers, yellow, orange and red, diced mango, apple and some blueberries, along with mayonnaise and lemon juice, and very tasty it was too, if I do say so myself.  I was going to put walnuts in but forgot, we had this along with some mixed Asian veg.

We had a lovely chatty time, with plans for a picnic and trip to the shore next time.


Thursday, June 7, 2018

Bluebells, Cardinals and Sontag Shawls

Hi Dear Folk,

I had a dream last night that I found a most wonderful wood full of bluebells here in Pennsylvania.  It was a small woodland area which you entered almost through a canyon on the edge of which they had built new town homes, once through there and round the corner it opened up to this glorious sea of bluebells in the woods.

Funny what you dream, must be all those UK pictures of bluebells.  I love bluebell woods so much that I have an old print in my bedroom.  I picked it up at a Sunday car boot sale in the Lake District, for fifty pence.

We have a lot of bird life in our garden, and almost every year the robins nest by the backdoor in the honeysuckle, or in the climbing hydrangea, but I did not see any nests this year and was a little disappointed.  Then yesterday I noted cardinals coming and going into the pine tree just outside my bedroom window, not that you could even see the nest, but tiny tell tale grasses where hanging out, where they hadn't quite got them into the nest.  Also Tuppy was taking a keen interest from her perch on top of the radiator, looking out the window.  Yes cardinals have a nest there.  Will listen to their progress.

This morning I saw a blue jay in the garden, they used to be around all the time and then haven't been for a while so it was with great pleasure I saw one this morning.  Or maybe I haven't been around to see them and I am now.

I am enjoying the cooler weather, some showers are thrown in but low temps and low humidity I can go with that.  Crocheting is continuing.  Also coffee on the patio with Mr. B. on the days he doesn't work.

I have almost finished my star shawl, but need just a tad of green to finish two edges, so will have to buy another ball of yarn, I will use the balance to make a hat, maybe a beret.

I have been looking at wrap around shawls.  My friend Candyce came over for lunch yesterday and she mentioned a tie in the back shawl that she had seen on Lark Rise to Candleford.  So I did a little research and found a nice crochet pattern, most are for knitting.  I also found a 1912 Lion Brand Knitting and Crochet book, the entire manual to download, which has several Sontag Crochet patterns in there.  I would call these the ladies genteel version as opposed to the larger, thicker,  working women's shawl.

The Sontag is a cape or shawl with long ends that cross the body and tie in the back, or cross again in the back and are tied around the front.  I have seen it spelled online with both one 'n' and two n's', in German Sonntag is Sunday.  The Victorian German singer Henrietta Sontag wore the shawl and made it popular, so therefore the correct spelling I think would be with one 'n"

There is a write up on them see here, by In The Rounds. The Sontag shawl must have also been a staple in America as you have Civil War Sontags for dress reenactments.  Also Kate Davies, here did a write up on Sontag shawls. The crochet pattern I found is a take off on the shawl worn by Tess of the D'Urbervilles here, taken from the TV film, from the book by Thomas Hardy.  Fish Knits has a write up on the authenticity of the shawl.

Of course a shawl that ties in the back and some actually have long cords on, and go round the back and tie in the front in a bow, would have been very handy for a working woman, to not have to pin, or keep slipping off the shoulders.  I think the working woman's would just have tied in the back and the fancier ones would have come around the back then tied in the front in a bow, I'm sure you would have found this style of shawl in wide use.  If I remember rightly in the film, Fiddler on The Roof, the youngest daughter Chava is wearing a shawl tied in the back, as she leaves the village with her husband.  I have also seen it called a Prairie Shawl, Cache Coeur/Bossom Friend and a Danish Shawl.  This pattern seems to have been published in both the United States and England around 1861, but I'm sure it was in use before then.

So many possibilities, my head is spinning with ideas.


Monday, June 4, 2018

First Day of My First Full Week of Retirement

Hi Dear Folk,

OMG can't believe I'm here, first day of my first full week of retirement.  The sun was out first thing and I walked around my garden looking at this and that and taking stock of what yet still needs to be done.  I did think "Oh!  I'd be on the train right now."  I see my fig trees did not make it through the winter, a great disappointment, even though they were wrapped.  Also my hibiscus in the pot died.  It made it through two winters in the pot, but not last winter.  I may just stick with annuals in the pots.  Although the hydrangea did make it through another winter in a pot.  One hosta totally disappeared out of a pot under the oak tree, but I think that has more to do with squirrels, the little stinkers.

Saturday was hot and humid and although we were expecting thunder storms, they never did really materialize, although it rained a bit overnight.  This is where Miss Tuppy spent her afternoon, personally I think it was a very good decision, to take a nap.

Sunday was thirty degrees colder, windy and cloudy.  Last night it rained all night.  I just looked at the long term forecast and it is not that promising, some sun in there, but a lot of rain.  I don't think I remember such a wet spring for ages.  I do like how green everything is, and could almost think I'm in the UK.

I have been crocheting my half star shawl.  Crocheting always seems more of a winter pastime to me, but it has been such a cool spring that it doesn't seem out of place.

What to do?  What to do?  The possibilities are endless, but I did want to get stuck into more things in the garden, so while there is no rain I think I will get out there.

Yesterday afternoon I did pop out with Mr. B.  We bought another Double Knock Out Rose in Cherry Red.  I really wanted a pink one as I already have a red and a yellow one, but the pink one was in a larger pot and double the price and I just couldn't spring for that so decided on another red and will just keep an eye out for a pink one in my price range.  Also bought another hosta, you know I love them.  Also a few impatiens just for a splash of colour in my pots.

You watch these garden shows where they go in and totally revamp their gardens and bring in boat loads of plants, but that is an absolute fortune in plants.  Here I am dolling out my meagre pittance on what I allow myself to spend on plants, putting things back because I tell myself that is too much money.  Feeling quite the church mouse.  Still I find joy in what I do have and I think considering my expenditure, my garden looks quite good.  It is always a joy to to be given plants from my friends gardens, there's something special in that.

Well it's later in the day, and it's been quite a nice day with the sun in and out and only in the seventies.  I started this post this morning.  I've just spent all day in the garden again.

Two stacks of those breeze blocks/cinder blocks, have now been moved to under the oak tree.  I still have two more stacks to move.  I wanted to do it today, but ran out of energy.  As Mr.B. said you can do it tomorrow.  I'm so used to doing it all in in one day, and of course he's right.

Red Knock Out Rose.

Jacob's Coat of Many Colours Rose.

Seven sisters rose.

I moved and re potted this poor fir tree.  It has lived for over thirty years in a pot, I just can't get rid of it.  Planted a few impatiens around the bottom to brighten up the pot.

Found all those four chairs around the table in the trash.  In fact I found two chairs and then two years later I found another two identical chairs in another persons trash.  I think they originally came two chairs with a bistro table, for a kitchen.  I will have to try and preserve the wood seats this year.  the metal frames a fine.

Moved the above barrel pot from near the garage to here and planted the George Smith Hosta that I bought yesterday.

Moved this pot to the garage and planted it with a maple tree found in the garden and some ferns from my front garden.  A lady fern and regular fern.

Made a bench of the breeze blocks. I will put blankets and cushions over them when I use them. I'm going to make another bench on the other side of the fire.  I plan to invite friends over for a bar b que and light a fire and do some smores with the kids.

For all the last few years I have always found some chairs in the trash to use on the Oak Tree Patio.  They last a couple of years and then get chucked out.  So I just chucked out the wicker chair and couch that had been out here and was totally destroyed over the winter.  I came up with the idea to use my old camping chairs out here.  We haven't been camping in a while and they are just sitting in the basement.  Here is my striped rocker.

Looking from the Oak Tree patio to the Pond patio.  You can see the two stacks of breeze blocks I will tackle tomorrow.

In between all this work I did read some of my book, Crossing To Safety, by Wallace Stegner, and a glass of Burgundy.

Just got to remember stop and smell the roses and there's enough of them and tomorrow is another day.


Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Climbing Hydrangea

Hi Dear Folk,

I have had several requests to see a photo of my climbing hydrangea, and here it is, quite a monster.  Just hope my pergola holds up.  I love the way the branches splay out, almost has a Japanese look to me.  I think it has loved all the rain this year.

Growing Hydrangea - Vine Type

Latin Name Pronunciation: hye-dran'jee-uh  
Hydrangea anomala petiolaris is one of the best of the ornamental vines and useful because it will grow and flower even in a northern exposure. This is a large heavy vine that requires a very sturdy support. Reddish brown, peeling bark is attractive in the winter. Superb growing up the trunk of large shade trees, walls, fences, or along a stone wall.
  • Full sun or shade; needs afternoon shade in the Deep South and in western Zones 9 and 10.
  • Plant in rich, moisture-retentive, well-drained soil.
  • Climbing Hydrangea's growth habit is unusual for a vine, because plants have lateral branches that will grow out as much as 3′ from the supporting structure, giving a rich, deep texture that is quite unlike that of other vines, which more typically twine up a narrow support.
  • Climbs with the aid of rootlike holdfasts, which cling to almost any surface.
  • Slow growing for first 2 or 3 years, but vigorous and fast growing once established (this is an example of that old gardener's saying about vines: first it sleeps, then it creeps, then it leaps. A little patience will be amply rewarded.).
  • May take 3–5 years to start blooming.
  • Prune as needed after bloom.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Three Joys Before 8:00 AM

Hi Dear Folk,

An emergency flash flood warning just came across my cell phone, yes we are back to grey skies, rain and thunder.  However I was able to dash out in my nightie, dig a hole, in the spitting rain and plant some miniature iris that my friend gave me yesterday and I had left in the car.

On my way over to dig the hole a tiny animal scuttled in front of me, I thought it was a mouse, but was just able to see that is was a toad, joys of joys I have a toad in my garden.  In all these years of having a pond I have never seen any frogs or toads.  It makes my heart happy.

Dashed for the scissors and was able to cut a bunch of peonies before the downpour started and have arranged them in my Shannon cut glass vase.  Didn't I say as soon as the peonies come out the rain downpours.

They are glorious and the fragrance wafts around.  Just right on a dull gloomy day.  My veg and seeds will be happy for all this rain.

Yesterday was a lovely sunny day although getting rather hot and humid, up to 92 F.  I was out in the morning on my volunteer work, home for lunch, and then over to my friends to have my hair cut and hi lighted.

Janice has been a hair dresser all her life and she has been my friend about just as long as she has been a hair dresser.  So when I asked for hi lights on hair that is very white on my crown, but darker else where she thought it would not blend in.  In fact we had a little tussle over this.  I insisted and she acquiesced.  Obviously when your friends the customer is not always right, but this time the customer was, in fact it turned out so nice, contrary to her expectations, that she called her husband down to have a look.  I also had my hair cut shorter and layered, but still long enough to put up.  Hair success.  I love the tone effect of colour in my hair.

For some reason I was so tired last night that I was in bed by 8:00 pm, so forgot that the miniature blue iris from Janice's garden, were still in the car.  I didn't want to not get them planted hence the crazy dashing around the garden this morning with a spade and the digging of a hole, before the storm came, didn't even water them, because I figured they would be watered soon enough and they are now getting a good soaking.

My climbing hydrangea is in it's full glory.  For several years I had it growing along the fence under the oak tree, but it never thrived and when I put the pergola up I decided to dig it up and plant it on the outside corner of the pergola and after that it never looked back, it thrives and tells me how happy it is there, by it's prolific growth and flowers.  It's a good position, because when I sit on my Simla patio, it gives me privacy from the road out front and passers by.

How is your Sunday?


Saturday, May 26, 2018

Retirement Day and Dinner

Hi Dear Folk,

Time is flying now and here we are on Thursday the day of my retirement lunch, it almost seems surreal. My boss John invited my husband to join us.

Mr B. and I in the conference room at our office.  I will be sad to leave this view, of all the offices I have worked in over the years, this has been my best view.  City Hall Philadelphia.

In Philly we like to keep our statues simple, above the Clothespin statue by Claes Oldenburg and below the LOVE statue, in fact the artist who designed the sculpture Robert Indiana, just died.

They have almost finished this park, shame it wasn't ready last summer.  This is on the one side of my building.  Isn't it a gorgeous day?  Just perfect.

The LOVE statue is back to it's original park and colour.  At some point the inner purple colour was painted blue, but now has been restored back to the purple.

Here I am walking back to get the lift up to our office.

We dined at DelFrisco's for my retirement lunch and very nice it was too.  I think this is the third time I have had lunch here since we have been in the city.  I must say our dining out did take a jump up since we moved to Phillly.

This restaurant is in an old bank and the above photo shows the beauty of the ceiling also the circular wine tower they have here.  You can also see the mezzanine level, we did have a table up there one time.

The CEO of our company, Ralph came down from NYC.  I indulged in a pomegranate martini, and very good it was too.  In fact the whole lunch from appetizers to desert and coffee was delicious.

To the left of the above group is our little office, including Erin, my replacement, John my boss in center front, on the left Tom and Bob. To the right are Hugh and Mel who I worked for, for many years and they sold their company to Vanguard.  I started work with them in 1981.  Hugh and Mel coming was a surprise.  I have been fortunate over the years to have worked for good companies and with good people.

So that's it folks, a wrap on a secular working life.

Now what?


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