Sunday, April 3, 2016

Into The Weekend

Seed-raised lavender, showing the green of spring growth.

I was justified in the decision to continue working in the garden on Wednesday afternoon.
By the time I headed upstairs to bed around midnight, the wind was howling outside the house, booming in the chimney.  I lay in the dark listening to the sounds of spring weather, slept, woke in a grey dawn to the awareness of rain hammering down on the metal roof.
The wind still moaned; as murky daylight grew I could watch the tossing of treetops from the comfort of my pillow
A few minutes of that and I heaved aside a pile of affectionate cats and padded down to make up the fire, launch my day.

Purple sage wintered well.

I stepped onto the front porch to feed the outdoor cats.
Willis and Charlie were perched on the dwindling woodpile barely out of range of the wet which sluiced from the porch roof to splat in the gravel of the drive.
Bobby and Nellie bolted out, ready to seek adventure, but halted at the side steps rather put off by the rain on the wind.
I fetched my camera and risked a zoom shot or two at the wet herb patch below the porch wall.

I noted, with resignation, that the rugosa planted at the edge of the gravel-mulched bed by the former owners has managed to thrust a thriving runner into the middle of a lavender. 
Rugosas are delightful in their warm simple scent and commendable for their hardiness, but they have no restraint, don't belong in a small space.
I anticipate uprooting these [great upheaval] and relocating them on the rough side hill beyond the drive.

It was a day of showers, driving rain that pelted down for half an hour, tapered off to allow a glimpse of lighter sky, then darkened to yet more rain.
The boy cats prowled about in the mist, begged to come in each time the sky opened.
Bobby took refuge in the rafters of the barn during a cloudburst and had to be coaxed down and lugged inside when it was time for cat 'tea' to be served.

Early evening brought warnings of thunderstorms and possible high winds.
The sky took on an ominous yellow light, thunder echoed above the surrounding ridges.
The lights flickered off, then stabilized, leaving us with digital clocks to reset.

The ridge west of the house in the last eerie storm glow of evening.

I made good use of the day spent indoors.
The directions for the current small quilt assumed that one would use the 'strip piecing' method of cutting and stitching.
I had off-cuts of beautiful [and pricey] batik fabrics from a small gift quilt made several years ago.
I trimmed these bits to the required 2 1/4 inches and enjoyed selecting and stitching the 'patches' for each block.
[I considered that I was working in a 'mindful' manner, but rejected the term as a bit too 'new-age.']

I completed 18 blocks, but again noticed that I persevered with the project a bit too long--I caught several mistakes as I pieced the final three 9-patches--attention beginning to wander, with resulting stitches to be picked out.
I made a mug of tea, sipped at it while drooping at my desk, revived to do a bit more research on the genealogy project I've undertaken for dear friends.

What began as a simple request from C. to 'see if you can find my mother-in-law' has turned into one of the more complex and fascinating family stories I have attempted.
I am researching James Venner who came to America from Davidstow, Cornwall, England, in 1886; Napoleon Russell who moved as a lad with his parents from eastern Canada into upstate New York circa 1862, and was then inspired to dash off homesteading in Dakota Territory during his middle years--where he met James Venner who married one of Napoleons daughters. The poor young woman died in childbirth a year later, so James, needing a mother for his newborn infant, married the next younger daughter. 
Meanwhile, Timothy Clark Knox, living quietly with his first wife and children in Benson, Vermont [less than a mile from a farm we owned there in the 1970's] decided after the death of his first wife to marry again and follow his parents and brothers across Lake Champlain to Essex County, New York--where James Venner and Napoleon Russell returned from their western adventures to live out their remaining years in the tiny rural hamlet of Loch Muller.
Napoleon, prior to his mad venture in the west, had become Timothy's son-in-law, making the two sisters who became the ill-fated wives of James his,Timothy's, grand daughters. [Clear as mud!]
When daughter/wife number two disappeared from recorded history after the birth of my friend's MIL [I suspect another death in childbirth] James traveled across the ocean to Cornwall and procured a sturdy Cornish-woman--a young widow to become his third wife.

These long-dead folks ramble through my head.  My friend has unearthed vintage photos, giving faces to some of the names I type into the search engine.
There are all the elements here for a novel, a long family saga of gallant young men going off to war, of motherless babes, of young women worn to death with child-bearing. 

There are blended families, the heart-wrenching loss of young lives and failed schemes, the triumph of folks who picked up the pieces and continued.
Genealogy is a stimulating and frustrating undertaking.
This 'digging for roots' has yielded some surprisingly rich sources of data, but includes the gaps where vital stats are deeply buried--or may never have been filed.

The severely pruned Rose of Sharon at the edge of the front porch, stimulated by recent rains.

The sun came up slowly on Friday morning, shimmering over wet grass.

Mist rolled through the valley and fat white clouds began to trail across patches of blue sky.

I left coffee perking on the wood stove, found my boots and stepped out into the fresh, chilly morning.

By mid-morning the weather had settled.
I commandeered the old mini-van and trundled off to the little shops 15 minutes away in the Mennonite community of South Fork.

I stopped first at the quilt shop, needing a batt for my little quilt in the works and a few more dark batiks for the blocks.
I was surprised to see that nearly all the parking slots by the shop were filled; a group of quilters from several counties distant were traveling together on a 'shop hop.'
The small store was teaming with women talking excitedly, carrying bolts of fabric to the cutting table.  Fortunately for my purposes, they didn't seem interested in batiks. I had brought my completed blocks and plonked myself on the floor in the nook holding the shelves of batiks and fanned out my blocks to see the effect of various fabrics.
The ladies departed in a satisfied rush, and I took my selections to the table.
This shop carries a brand of batting I've not used before, so it was good to have the advice 
of the owner.
Since I was on my own and could doddle, I drove up the winding road a few miles to poke about at the garden center before collecting a few items at the discount food store and the produce market.

Home to a baking frenzy, as I had offered to contribute desserts to a church group meal on Saturday.
Cherry pie, blackberry pie, zucchini bread with a liberal handful of mini chocolate chips.
For good measure I made J. a cherry turnover, a lemon meringue pie [which we happily finished off today!] put a black raspberry pie and a pastry shell in the freezer for future reference.

A chilly but sunny Sunday today.
Hours spent on my genealogy project--'playing' with an interactive vintage map, striving to recall how various county roads intersect, popping into the living room to ask Jim--who begins to look at me as though I had sprouted an extra head.

A visit up the road to share a loaf of the bread with friends and pat their old dog [the one I've cared for several times.]  I was given a dozen fresh eggs!

The baby goats were in the pasture and the older goats being brought out for an airing when I turned onto our lane.
I spent an enjoyable half hour watching their antics, stroking the bony small heads and soft ears that were thrust through the fence for my attention.
Healthy young animals are a joy to observe.

I haven't measured this week by completed projects [are there any?] nor have I achieved some new level of efficiency.
I've been privileged to have time and energy to tackle a number of things which are creatively satisfying.  I feel blessed that I am never at a loss for interesting things to do.
Now, at the end of the day, I can write [with the famous diarist] 'and so to bed!'


  1. I loved reading about your day and perhaps there is just the millionth of a chance I can "claim kin" with your friend, as I have a Venner marriage (Moretonhampstead, Devon, so not so far away from the Cornish border) in my Bolt family tree. Fancy James going back to Cornwall to find a healthy (and fecund we assume) wife.

    Those Rugosas are devils for coming up where you don't want them to - I have one (a reduced to 99p bargain) which is indestructible and has crept mid-way across a path (beneath it).

    1. Jennie; I found a proliferation of Venners in Cornwall and in Devon as well. My lack of familiarity with English geography doesn't help the research on that side of the pond!
      Yes, wife # 3 was quite productive--ans out-lived him!

  2. I always enjoy reading about your life there. It is so full of varied and interesting things.

    Thank you for sharing and may your week be a good one.

    Love & hugs ~ FlowerLady

    1. Rainey; I marvel at how you keep up with your gardening--if only I could get this new one looking good!

  3. Oh I do love the quilt you're making, where did you find the pattern? I have no luck with lavender, any advice?
    I haven't done in genealogical research in a while and I need to get back into it.
    Always enjoy your posts.

    1. Janet; Re the lavender--I've had trouble during an extra wet summer when plants were too close together--they seem to need good drainage and space for air to circulate. I suspect they aren't at their best where high humidity is a factor.
      I found the quilt pattern at I'd been searching for it for awhile.

  4. You always seem to fill your days so well.

    1. Lillian; I am never bored--just wishing for more stamina to do all the things that interest me!

  5. Fascinating read, all that baking must have taken time as well. Love the photos as well of the ever changing weather.

    1. Thelma; I was running out of steam by the time I made pastry for the second batch of pies!

  6. Hi Sharon, I enjoyed reading all about your goat/cat stories. Your pies look wonderful and I bet your quilt will be beautiful. You are very productive. Your spring is much further along than ours. We get good days then back to a little snow and the cold. But it will have to stay for good soon. Take care from me in Ottawa, Canada

  7. Jocelyn; I've never been to Ottawa--a few forays into Quebec and several vacations in the Maritimes. I would guess that your winters are similar in duration to Vermont and upstate NY--by March one is ready for any signs of spring.

    1. Absolutely. I just heard we will be at 20 C by Sunday. So my faith in spring coming soon is restored!