Tuesday, August 1, 2017

A Porridge Sort of Morning

June and early July were kind to us weather-wise--temperatures sometimes approaching 90 F , but stopping short of the sweltering heat experienced in other summers.
Suddenly the humidity and heat increased, making any outside work unpleasant within a few minutes.
Jim was away all last week, assisting our son with renovations.
I had an unreasonable mental list of things I hoped to tackle--after all, a woman on her own for a few days doesn't need to give much thought to meals--a salad, a tub of yogurt, crackers, good cheese--that sort of thing will suffice. 
I had plans to finish a small research project prompted by a school group photo which my sister had shared; I needed to make some summer skirts for myself;  I might sand and refinish two quilt racks, cover some small cushions to add to the porch rocking chairs; I fully intended to write letters and a blog post or two. 

I have been resolutely ignoring the garden which became dishearteningly weedy after my herculean efforts during the spring.
I went out on two successive mornings and pitted myself against clumps of grass which came through the landscape barrier fabric under the brick walk;  I yanked yards of wild morning glory off the fence, unwound its clinging tendrils from the clematis and coneflowers.  I drove my garden fork into dry soil along the walk, hauled up a fresh crop of that unidentified weed with the roots that rampage in all directions like hanks of string thrown down.

At the lower garden I uprooted cucumber vines that had gone tired and yellow, snipped the latest round of suckers off the tomato plants. I trudged up and down the lane carrying containers of ripe and nearly ripe tomatoes.
On both days a mere hour of outdoor work left me hot, dirty and rather cross, with a sense of having accomplished little in the way of tidying the mess.

The research project went well.  On a whim I forwarded the school photo to an acquaintance who was able to contribute positive identification to two of the pictured children. Our correspondence expanded my area of search; we began discussing the people we recalled in our mutual home town [he and his late wife were a few years older than my sisters and I.]  I went into census data and vital event stats in order to confirm that certain families were--or were not--in the neighborhood in 1941 when the photo was taken. 
By midweek I had edited and typed my notes, mailed the finished document to my sister.
I was content to stay inside other than the necessary chores of watering a few plants on the porch, refilling the hummingbird feeders, cleaning litter boxes.

I abandoned any thought of refinishing the quilt racks--the garage [formerly the Amish washroom] where I planned to work was stifling. 
I brought out fabric, patterns, sewing tools, set up the ironing board.
I used to do a great deal of garment construction--for myself and for others.  I do that infrequently now and have to sometimes stop and review the sequence of steps.
I finished the first skirt--complete with lining--and decided it was totally unflattering!
The second one, in a vibrantly printed challis, went together quickly and is pleasing--soft and flowing.
At ten o'clock on Thursday evening I decided to attempt a third skirt.  I had more of the linen-like fabric from which I made the first one--fabric bought some years ago as a remnant. By 2 a.m. when I wobbled upstairs to bed I had only hem and buttonholes/buttons to complete.  I am pleased with skirt number three!

Late on Thursday afternoon the sky grew dark, thunder rumbled. 
Bobby Mac, who is afraid of storms, bolted inside when I opened the back door.
His choice of refuge is beside the laundry basket in the downstairs bathroom. 
Rain continued in sharp bursts through much of Friday. The air was thick with heat and moisture.
Suddenly, at dusk, there was a change.  The temperature dropped, the air freshened.

 We've now had three of the loveliest days imaginable--puffy white clouds sailing lazily in a clear blue sky, gentle breezes, temps in the high 80's by mid afternoon, but dropping quickly at night. 

Jim returned home late on Saturday and was down to check on the garden during the cool of Sunday morning. 
We have tomatoes to eat and to share.  It is best to bring them in before they are dead ripe. 
Last night with our tasks finished and Jim making an early bedtime, I sat  late with a book, pulling my rocking chair close to the open window in the kitchen alcove. When I put the book aside to head upstairs I realized that my feet were cold!  The thermometer outside the kitchen window registered 60 degrees--unheard of in a Kentucky July.
Moving quietly in the dark bedroom I located a comforter to spread over the icy 
smoothness of sheets. 
A cool Monday morning inspired us to replace summer's usual breakfast of 'dry cereal' with something more substantial. Jim made himself a 'stodge' of cream of wheat liberally laced with maple syrup and a dollop of butter.  I opted for oatmeal porridge with dried cranberries and brown sugar. 
We wish this lovely weather might continue, but there are surely many days yet when heat and humidity will triumph.

Still, the inevitable turning of the season is noticeable--darkness had fallen by 8:30.
Now at 11:15 it is 65 degrees--a good night for sleeping with the puffy old comforter ready to pull  around our shoulders against the chill of the wee hours. 

With the man of the house again in residence proper meals must be prepared and I must revert to reasonable hours.
Tomorrow I will revise my mental list of 'things to do' and decide what to tackle next.


  1. What a lovely post. I got such a sense of your days, your interests, your chores. Not too far removed from mine, although NO WAY could I make 3 skirts in a day! One would probably take me a WEEK : ) I can't remember the last time I made anything wearable - no, yes I do - it was a maternity nightie when I was pregnant with Tamzin so we are talking 30 years ago now!

    We are having similar weather to you - sudden heavy showers, but quite hot inbetween, and much cooler at night. I note now (as I have been on steroids and sleep is at a premium) that it doesn't start becoming light until 5 a.m. Since I have been awake since 2.30 a.m. all this week, that is small consolation. Thank heavens for books! May I recommend Peter May - his Lewis trilogy is BRILLIANT.

    Your photo research sounds interesting and I am envious of your being able to access census records so recent. 100 years is the limit on ours. Roll on 2021.

    My garden is overwhelming me now too - when stuff does like it here, it grows monstrously. The rest (the prettiest things normally) need encouragement and generally turn their toes up the first winter when they realize they are expected to be aquatic!

    1. Jennie; Lest you think me too accomplished I'll note that the three skirts were constructed over two days and one night!
      Bouts of insomnia are so disheartening. One lies there trying not to look at the lighted numbers on the clock, fretting about the lack of energy for the morrow, dreaming up all sorts of things to worry about.
      When daughter G. is on steroids for asthma she reports a frantic energy similar to what you endure.
      WHY must we--every spring--take on more gardening than can possibly be maintained by July--rhetorical question!
      Let's see--our 1940 census became available in 2010--hopefully I'll live to see my own name appear in the 1950!

  2. What a busy life, full of satisfying things to do though. I think gardens always go to seed this time of the year. Funnily enough now I am incapacitated for a short time have taken to wearing dresses and your sewing of three skirts has setting me thinking!

    1. Thelma; Re gardens going shabby as the summer wanes--I think I look at too many books dedicated to photos of lavish and well maintained plantings. I will never achieve anything remotely similar.
      I mostly live in jeans, but enjoy having some longish skirts that are just full enough at the hem to permit a healthy stride. Having attained the 'middle aged spread' I find that the waistbands of 'store-bought' skirts are often unrealistic--with a bit of pattern tweaking I can custom fit and create some simple variations.

  3. My garden is so full of weeds and will stay that way until this fall, I just can't do the humidity. We haven't been as hot here either, more days in the 80's than the 90's, but very humid.
    We woke to 69 this morning, a record low for this time of year.

    1. Janet; In the diverse places we've lived, July has been a month to endure rather than enjoy in terms of weather. When temps go above 85 F and the humidity rises I'm learning that outdoor work isn't a good thing for me.
      I do hope to eventually clear enough weeds to encourage some fall bloom!

  4. Wow. That's a pretty busy schedule you keep. :) I miss thunderstorms. Heck, I miss rain of any kind! Triple digits all this week for us. I wish I had some tomato plants to pick the green ones for frying. I miss having a garden. PS - please send some of that cool weather westward. :)

    1. Angel; You must be living somewhere in the interior west--no rain, no garden--the story of our 12 years in Wyoming. I do recall some fierce thunderstorms there.
      Applying the term 'schedule' to my retirement years brings a smile--our routine is very flexible--and I don't half keep up with my ambitious 'list' of things to do!

  5. Wondering the type purple flower on your first picture? Been following your blog recently and loving it.

    1. Debbie; The flower is 'phlox'--this is its second year and its seems ready to climb high. The land slopes away from the garden which makes the plant look even taller.