Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Variable Weather: November Journal

November as experienced during our 12 years in South-Central Kentucky is a month of transition.  Killing frost was late this season, arriving during the early morning hours of November 13, ushering in a week of damp cold and blustery winds. The warmth of the wood fire has been welcome on such days.

I took advantage of a partly sunny afternoon to repot mid-size rosemarys, carrying them one by one to the greenhouse where I was supervised by ever helpful Willis-Cat.
Through many moves I've kept cuttings of a miniature geranium  potted up; it goes spindly after blooming but responds well to severe pruning. It is not a showy plant, but cheerful, kept in memory of the giver of the original 'slip'--my elderly friend, Esther Jane.
Settled in a blue pot on one of the sunroom's south windowsills, the little geranium appears appreciative of attention.
Trekking back and forth with plants I noticed I'd neglected to safeguard a large tub of geraniums from the frost. With indoor space at a premium I considered letting winter have them, but the urge for preservation was too strong. I disinterred the two best, cut them back hard, gave them individual pots. Crowded onto the long table in the sunroom both have put forth fresh growth.

J. has 'turned' the veg garden, leaving the soil to mellow through the winter.
This zoomed photo gives an odd perspective, as though the tractor wallowed through a mountain of earth.

Any excuse suffices to roar about on one of the tractors.

The volunteer nasturtium sheltered by the straggling branches of sage survived several nippy mornings;  an overnight low of 31 F. left it wilted, sodden, and white-leaved, that last tender bud blighted.
Perhaps one of those late blooms dropped seed mature enough to germinate in spring.

A long view of the garden under the plow, taken from the front porch.

Three deer have visited on several mornings as the sun was casting its first light.
We suspect this is the doe and twin fawns who were here in the spring.
I was able to take this zoomed photo by quietly easing out the back door and moving softly to the edge of the lower covered porch. The doe sensed my presence and stood at attention before bounding down the slope of the north ravine.

This unidentified plant grew in a corner of the greenhouse all summer, climbing behind the workbench in search of light. It too perished in the hard frost.

Jim has carried his chainsaw along the tree lines that mark the upper edges of the north and south ravines, taking out small dead trees and stacking the stove lengths for later trundling to the currently full woodshed.

This tree had decayed to a mere shell.

Trees grow densely on the rims of the north and south ravines--tulip poplar, hickory, sycamore, ash, maple, oak. In places dogwood, redbud, others I can't identify, form a dense under-story of branches.

 A shopping excursion to Tractor Supply Company [a chain farm and feed store] tempted me to purchase amaryllis and paperwhite bulbs. 
The amaryllis are flourishing, the paperwhites are rather feeble.
In Vermont our local Agway offered fat paperwhite bulbs in bulk to be chosen from a small bin and carried home in a paper sack.
Those, nestled into shallow bowls filled with pebbles, filled our small house there with a nearly overwhelming perfume from early December well into February.
I need to order a few bulbs from an online source I've used in other years.
[Note the freshly potted geraniums flanking the sluggish paperwhites.]

Two friends have never failing success with amaryllis, saving bulbs for a fresh start each autumn.
 I persevere, but have had only one bulb reward me with repeat bloom. 
My kept-over bulbs spent the summer in a large pot beneath one of the green house benches producing strappy leaves. Early in October I uprooted them, trimmed off the leaves and sequestered the bulbs on a dark shelf in the basement storage area.
Thus far the bulbs are sulking.

 An email from a nursery from which I've ordered perennials promised a 'special' on choice amaryllis.
I opened it eagerly only to find that the supposedly spectacular bulbs could be mine at $45 each!
The two bulbs purchased at TSC were $8 each.
On the way out of the store I noticed a display of packaged hyacinth bulb 'kits' complete with glass bulb vases. Had I seen them before checking out I would have been tempted.

DIL Dawn stopped by three days later and presented me with two of the kits!
One is already showing root growth, the other is still dormant. 

I was tapped to provide a deep dish apple pie for a church social.
Pies for our family Thanksgiving dinner were assigned to me as well: pumpkin, apple and a new family favorite, Lemonade Icebox Pie. 

It has seemed a busy month. I served as church pianist twice, as well as accompanist for friend Ruben's special music at the Thanksgiving service. 
Ruben, an accomplished musician, brings his flute to church, sets up his music stand at the left of the piano. His lovely improvisations encourage me to continue playing even as my fingers stiffen a bit.

At the end of these early winter days when darkness creates long evenings, I've read through a series of books by a late local author, Janice Holt Giles. I read some of them a few decades ago--how different to follow tales of early pioneers when I've now traveled many of their routes, both locally and heading
 'to the west.'

A new quilt project is underway encouraged by J's very creative cousin, Gloria, who has been enthused by a new 'tool.' I was inspired to order one and hauled out some fabric purchased in my earliest years in Wyoming. 
The finished quilt will be rather more colorful than my usual taste.

16 inch block created from large 'Flying Geese' and the strips of smaller 'goslings.'
The dominant fabrics are from two lines designed by Robyn Pandolpf--collected prior to 2010 they appear in several of my finished quilts.
As well as experimenting with the 'tool' which is used to cut and trim various sizes of geese, this venture is meant to use only fabric from my large 'stash.'

J. has also taken on a fresh project.
Several years ago he considered enclosing the south-east porch and bought windows for that purpose.
As we continued to enjoy the porch with railings and screening, the idea was set aside.

The matching west porch has never appealed as a place to sit, gathering instead a make-shift table for ripening garden tomatoes, a bin for emptied and rinsed tins, and in winter a bin of kindling for the wood stove. 
On Sunday, a dark and gloomy day, the railings and screens were torn out.

Yesterday--another grey day--much sawing [on the lower porch] and with a great deal of banging about which I chose to ignore, the west end was partially framed.

More framing and fitting this morning and the projection that by nightfall the space will be ready for installation of two large and monstrously heavy windows.
Two of the family males have promised to appear tomorrow to lend their skills and their brawn.
I don't venture beyond the doorway having a lifelong wariness of high unfenced areas.
Considering that laborers are worthy of their hire [free help!] I will feed them well and leave them to it!

I'm off to the wild garden [so-called] to do some needed pruning before the weather turns unpleasant.


Friday, November 4, 2022

Celebrating a Birthday--With a Few Complications

The month and year of my father's birth, November, 1916, was never in question.
The family knew the name bestowed on him, Lawrence Gilbert Desjadon; 'Gilbert' in honor of his maternal grandfather, still alive at the time.
I vaguely recall hearing murmurs that perhaps he was not born on the 4th of November, but that was the day always honored. 
It wasn't until Larry decided to retire and apply for Social Security benefits that it took the findings of  an attorney and the ruling from probate court to establish who he had always known himself to be.

Larry and my mother, spent their entire lives in the small town in which both were born.
Required to furnish proof of birth, it was a surprise to discover that on his original birth certificate his name was incorrectly recorded. 
His date of birth is correct, as are the names of his parents, but he was registered with the first name of his older brother, Clarence, and his own middle name, Gilbert.

Interestingly, the attending physician and informant, L. B. Rowe, M.D. also served as Town Clerk, 1916-1918, and as the recording clerk of the Congregational church in town.
In the lower left corner of this copy is the date in 1978 when Thelma Lilly, who served for decades as Town Clerk, attested that this was a 'true copy' of the original.
Hoping to clear up confusion, Larry requested his baptismal record from the files of the local Catholic Church. 

When produced from files updated in 1973, this certificate verified Larry's given name, but changed the date of birth to 2nd November.

The court procedure which followed exasperated the lawyer involved who reported that the local probate judge was bungling attempts to sort the matter. 

Eventually Larry received a copy of his corrected and amended birth details along with a letter from the town clerk who competently handled the local filing.

Those interested in family research at any level hope for primary sources to verify personal details.
Clerical errors are made, spaces are left blank on official vital forms meant to record full names and dates, causing endless frustration in later years. 

When our son was born in 1964 his first name was listed incorrectly in the Vital Statistics section of our local town report, an error which I quickly had corrected. 

For years I have kept copies of the print-out given us with correct details when H. applied for a SS number to begin working at age 16.
[At that time, social security numbers were not assigned at birth.]

Wanting to have a certified copy of the birth cert--the one with the official seal--I applied earlier this year through the state's official record repository, typing details into the online form, printing and sending with a cover letter explaining the long ago error somewhere in the transcription process. Of course I enclosed a check for the fee!

A week later an official envelope arrived--with a certified copy of the incorrect birth certificate.
When contacted, the newly elected clerk in the town of our residence at the time of our son's birth attempted to be helpful, but didn't realize she could go into the state archives and retrieve the correct certificate.  
Email contact with the clerk at the county seat location of the hospital where H. was born, payment of another fee and within a week the coveted certificate, stiff parchment paper, embossed seal, was in my mailbox.

We sift through clerical errors, attempting to verify facts known to us. 
We bang our heads at the inefficiency of clerks past and present. 
Surely the internet, email, fax, create almost instant communication.

Today, 106 years past my father Larry's birth, a search via Newspapers.com turned up the following:
Middlebury Register, 
November 10, 1916 Edition
Orwell News
A son was born Saturday, November 4, to Mr. and Mrs. Stephen Desjadon.

Online calendars for November, 1916, display 4th November as Saturday.

Larry, August, 1941, wedding trip.

Daddy with me as a 2 year old--my parents created a three room apartment in Grampa Mac's farmhouse for the first years of their marriage.

Daddy's first truck, red, of course.

Larry with younger sister, Liz, and older brother Warren.

A birthday gathering for Liz and Larry.
Her birthday was in July, his in November. 

Last photo of me with my Dad.

The garden Larry created and kept at church is still tended in his memory.


Tuesday, November 1, 2022

November 1st: Journal

A dark morning suggested that we might again have rain. The sky cleared toward noon, the air mild and damp.
After a hearty late breakfast I lugged upstairs the half bushel of Rome apples purchased last week, rummaged out my remaining pint jars. 
Canning applesauce is a tedious and rather messy process.
Last time I did this was when we lived at our Amish-built farmhouse with its big kitchen and massive wood-fired range. On a cool autumn day I could have several large kettles of apples stewing gently on the back burners of the stove while those already cooked down, put through the Foley mill and into jars boiled away in the canner placed on the hot spot over the firebox. 

During many seasons in our native Vermont, apples were available inexpensively in the next town where a large cold storage facility and apple packaging plant served the region's many orchards.
We could pop in, ask for a bushel or two of MacIntosh, Cortlands or Red Delicious--and for a mere few dollars we had fresh applesauce, pies, crisps or cobblers. 

Grampa Mac was partial to Northern Spy apples as winter keepers.
Several bushels were purchased and stored in their wooden boxes in a north-east room of the old farmhouse--one of the rooms 'shut off' during the winter months. 
As night time temperatures plunged into the minus zero range, the boxes were tenderly snugged under old horse blankets. 
A favorite treat, stopping at Grampa's after school, was the ritual of several apples brought in from the cold north room, peeled and quartered with his jackknife and enjoyed with a stack of Royal Lunch crackers and wedge of cheddar cheese.

Our Beachy neighbors keep some apples in their cooler through early winter, but locally grown apples--southern apples!--don't have the crisp sweet/tart flavor or the keeping qualities of northern apples. 
As for supermarket apples--pricey and often disappointing.

I had nearly decided not to mess with applesauce in my present small kitchen where canning on the electric stove is the only option.
Homemade applesauce is good with pancakes or French toast for a leisurely breakfast or on a chilly winter night as 'breakfast for supper' with the addition of turkey sausage or turkey bacon.
Yield for the half bushel of apples [$12] and hours of labor: 14 pint jars, 1 quart jar and about 2 quarts saved out to eat fresh. 
Stove burners now shut off and jars sitting in the hot water bath kettles. I peeked in, too tired to haul them all out and cover with layers of towels. Some jars have yet to seal--always a concern. 

The lovely pointed bud on Samaritan Jo is unfolding.

I am delighted with the rebloom of this clematis. It bloomed heavily in spring, then the vine looked shabby through the summer. 

A few late roses--surely the last from the pale peach shrub rose--the Double-Red Knock-outs are always the last to succumb to cold weather.
I was downstairs last evening experimenting with a quilt block pattern and a new 'tool' when I heard clattering overhead in the main room.
J. stuck his head round the stairwell to inform me that Rosie-cat had pulled flowers from the jugs, overturning one and creating a flood of water. 
I seem always to have at least one resident feline who is compelled to do that!

Sunday's red sunrise which heralded a day of gentle rain. 
Mornings are slow, still half dark when I raise the blinds; I need a light on in the kitchen to measure water for coffee, to set out mugs and cream. 
When I open the front door, cats crowd onto the small porch, trying to decide if the weather suits them.
There have been days when a morning wood fire is a comfort, others when we turn on the electric heat for a few hours.
November is always a month of transitions--putting away summer clothing, rearranging closet shelves so that warm sweaters and shirts are handy. 
Weather that calls for comfort food--homemade soups, a mug of hot tea mid-afternoon.
Time for a flannel blanket layered under my quilt, a shabby fleece throw spread for the cats at the foot of the bed. 
Still time to enjoy puttering outdoors on a sunny afternoon--now that I have virtuously canned the applesauce!

A final note for the day: energy summoned to unload the canners.
All jars sealed--the last one with a resounding 'pop' as I lifted the lid of the kettle.
Time to check the cats' water bowls, swallow an 'Aleve' for my aching bones and toddle off to bed.