Thursday, July 19, 2007

(Any idea why Blogger puts this vast, vast space between this and the beginning of my post, which I've put in a table so that the image layout doesn't drive me completely nutso? I don't know. Let's pretend it's intentional. Please use the following white space to meditate on world peace.)

Allow me to explain this one. My brother and I began a bit of an odd tradition a few years ago when we happened to both purchase the same model digital camera. He came for the weekend, and after he left I scrolled through my pictures and discovered several, um, "surprises." Pictures of my kitchen garbage, to be precise.

Of course this meant war. With each visit, each of us has tried to up the ante. We've had some failures -- for example, I discovered that when you write someone's name in your cat's litter pan, it doesn't photograph well. And we've had some successes -- like the art shot he took of a beautiful skein of my yarn with a dirty diaper sitting next to it.

But this most recent photo has topped the charts. I'd like to think that even Julia (that's Saint Julia to you) would have enjoyed seeing herself with a pasta moustache.

Summer is progressing along nicely here in Maine. I've had the nearly undescribable delight of eating like a queen straight from the garden for many weeks now. Asparagus galore, salads upon salads, sorrel soup, fresh pesto, delicate turnips, crisp radishes, but of course the piece de resistance remains, so far, the strawberries. For two weeks solid, I had some version of this every morning for breakfast.

(And in case you were curious, yes, it is possible to get tired of strawberries. But it's a wonderful "tired.")

The onions continue their steady march toward full, sweet ripeness. This year's onion harvest will be a bit of a challenge because it turns out I won't be home much in October, which is when you usually pull them out, let them cure outside for several days, and then carefully braid the long backs and put them in the cellar for storage. The reason I won't be home much is a good one. First, I'm treating myself to SOAR in Michigan—rather like taking summer school at MIT, only it's in the fall. And the following weekend I'll be launching my book at Rhinebeck.

What's that you say? Yes, you heard me right. Apparently the kind and generous knitting souls out in the universe were so receptive to the book that the Pottorians decided to push up its launch from December 4th to October 16th. It's a miracle that's also a smart and logical move, and I am absolutely thrilled. Not to mention terribly anxious and nervous, but that goes with the territory.

Last weekend I cut my first vase of sweet peas for the season. Their fragrance is intoxicating. I bring the vase with me throughout the house so I can maximize on their incredibly brief state of perfection.

This year in addition to the regular bed of tall sweet peas, I also planted some shorter, more ornamental sweet peas to climb up bamboo frames in the front garden. I had no faith that the seeds would even germinate, since I've been on the road so much. But they did. The flowers are too short and little for cutting, but they sure are beautiful.
Speaking of peas, I've been eating them too. Not the sweet peas, of course, but some delicious snap peas. My favorite meal so far had to be the salad with blanched peas, fresh thin radish slices, crumbled feta cheese, and a lemon vinaigrette. YUM.
Lest we forget, my darling peonies did return for another season. I almost missed them because I foolishly planned a trip to San Francisco during their bloom time. That's the problem with living and gardening in Maine -- you can't go anywhere in the summer without missing something that you've waited 51 weeks to see again. Oh, how we suffer.

Casey has resumed his residence on the porch, right next to the table where I've been writing for weeks on end. It's funny how he's "just a cat" but he has such a distinct personality and such fierce behavioral habits. In the winter, he insists on curling up under a thick fleece blanket on the couch. In the summer, he won't have anything to do with that blanket (for obvious heat-related reasons) and prefers the thin flannel sheet that covers the daybed on the porch. His needs are simple: If that sheet is there, and if I lift it up so he can go underneath, he is happy. Period. Wouldn't it be great if our own lives were like that?
And finally, I've decided that the fabric bug is catching. I wasn't going to say anything about my latest fabric purchase and then I noticed that Kay Gardiner did the same thing last week after she and Mason-Dixon cohort Ann Shayne sent their second book to their publisher (bravo!!). It's nice to know I'm not alone. Any other fabric hoarders out there?


Margaret said...

Clara the garden is lovely, beautiful flowers! Congrats on the early book release! You will tell us when the signed copies will be available, wont' you?

I've been stashing fabric for years but my latest kick is making aprons! Did 3 Fourth of July themed ones this summer and have fabric for several with cherries on them next . . . use them as my "house work" hat as in don't ask me to do housework chores unless I'm wearing an apron! Got a whole book on them recently, but don't have it handy & can't remember the name, must be getting old!

Bess said...

Fabric stash? My dear. that was my first love. There are still 4 closets of stash - and 4 boxes of lace! But those are little boxes.

Glad to hear your voice again.

purlewe said...

ah I've missed you and your glorious photos. LOVE the Saint Julia one. I am sure she is tickled somewhere.

GOOD news about the book. Such good news Amy Boogie will be going to rhinebeck too (not sure if it will be as a vendor or not yet) but it will be a grand old time. I cannot wait to see you and the spirit trail crew.


Martha said...

Aaahhh, the garden bounty sounds lush-ious, the meals are delectable & the photos are drop dead beautiful.
Yea for those of us who will be at Rhinebeck & exciting news for us Clara fans. Thrilling to hear of the earlier release for us said Clara fans although probably butterfly anxiety producing times for you.
Fabric stash? Yep, I did it for years although since I began knitting, I have given most of it away. Your photographed stash looks quite cool.
XOXO to you & yours, my dear.

Minh said...

Beautiful sweet peas! You inspire me to do something with our teeny tiny garden for next year...

Mary said...

How are your Delphiniums this summer? I'm envious of all your lovely summer blooms and produce and cool weather. I may have to move....

Marg said...

I'm a quilter, as well as a knitter. Do I have a fabric stash? You betcha!

P.S. I also love peonies...mine are just finishing here in the Great White North.


Laura said...

Clara, good news for your book....October will be a great month and I can't wait to get my hands on it!

Your veggie and floral pictures are so clear and crisp that I could reach out and scoop up those peas, I swear!

No post would be complete without the very adorable Casey....he is just too darn cute for words.

And yes, I'm still kickin' even though I don't get to officially meet you in person, LOL.

Jane said...

Ooo, a debut! I can't wait!

Lanea said...

Congratulations on the upcoming book launch! And on the garden's bounty--I'm afraid the combination of the drought, our tomato eating dog, the birds, and the demon squirrels have kept us from eating much from our own soil this year.

And be careful with fabric--it's cloying. And it will whisper horrible things to you about how much faster it is to sew than to knit. Very tricksie, yard goods.

zippiknits said...

My first stash was fabric. Beware the whoven! hehe