25 December 2010

ode to chinsey.

did you ever meet a cat who operated under the notion that he was pretty much a dog ? that's how our old barn cat chinsey went about his days.

he lived in and around the barn for at least a season, but then we gave him to our top customer tim homiller who adored animals. and when tim died, one of his nurses who lived in upper darby took chinsey. i hope he is doing well.

he nuzzled necks like you wouldn't believe and acted so social. he really needed people around, and if we'd leave, he would wander off into the woods because when not seeking the affectionate persuasion of petting, he loved adventure.

he'd also sit on the counter in the store and wait for customers to pet him. most responded sweetly to him, but a few hesitated with an uncomfortable face and stepped backward as he reached out his paws at them. i figured they were either not cat-people, were allergic, or both.

one time when we were working out in the nursery during a snowy time, we locked chinsey in the barn so he'd be warmer, but he kept leaping up onto a small nearby boulder saying hello to us after escaping from the upper floor of the barn where a hole sat between the old pre-1811 boards of wood. that just showed how much of a people cat, quasi-dog he was for being feline.

09 December 2010

shriveling peppers.

these shriveling red peppers are of a life no longer on the maps. their momma plants took hold of the ground out back behind my old apartment on east philadelphia avenue from when i couldn't hide excitement of having even a tiny expanse for a garden and overfilled the root space even though i should have known better. 

i think there's a nail blending in with that paint too, that grey-blue which must have been on sale in bulk decades ago because it's on like every third porch in the borough, including the side porch floorboards of my brick castle.

and sometimes, life is about saying goodbye to neglected strips of what is too hot to trot mouth-wise, apparently. maybe.

18 November 2010

2b clean gravel, anyone ?

driveway gravel !

great for draining under sheds !

(this was a post to easily shrink up a gravel photo for the gahdens website. i decided to keep it instead of deleting it !)

17 November 2010

lady lythrum.

back in the brink of summer's sweltering sea of air, i discovered a swamplands-rampant perennial flower popping up all along the back of the property at the garden center, across from the irrigation pond.

a customer on hoffmansville road had let me dig up some plants at her house last year, and one of them was this pinkish purple blooming perennial. either she didn't know its name, or she told it to me, but i forgot it at the time or since then. i noticed that while i planted just one sprig of it in my garden last year, about two or three new versions of it jumped upward in places far off from my original relocation spot.

matt told me a few months ago that this little lady is named lythrum.

apparently there are some domesticated forms, but with the wild breeds, when let to grow in wetland types of areas, it spreads like wildfire. there were pink petals stretching stalk-wise and upward all over out back.

and lythrum nearly sounds like a drug. i guess i'm remembering the name lithium ? i suppose though that it is its own little nature-spent drug, in a sense, for moist soil spaces.

13 November 2010

oceanic yarn.

this yarn reminds me of the ocean but in the colors that are often secluded to special spots away from highly used waters.

acrylic ocean

dry and synthetic, acrylic
sings the taps of needles

and metal in rhythms like
haiku but stretched lengthy--

each stitch births from two
or three taps, and each one

of those taps, a squeezing out
syllable so sea-swished and woven

into yarn, only of a history
knitted as soon as hands hearken.


08 November 2010

the pumpkin almighty & oven work.

in the season of the almighty pumpkin, food mistress amy strauss of apples and cheese, please dropped off some baked love at my house yesterday afternoon.

this ensemble included milk chocolate chip pumpkin cookies & pumpkin fluffs with cinnamon brown butter icing.

here perched a whole wheat pumpkin pie pocket. i was nomming the hell out and ate all the sweets by nightfall.

05 November 2010

bamboo berries booming of orange ways.

even bamboo produces fall fruit. although i don't think all bamboo do this, but at least some ornamental and domesticated varieties do. it boasts so loudly of orange, but the good way.

and lavender is a perennial, not in any direct relation to bamboo, but any plants that are still brave enough to share their beauty when the cold nights start to hit are well worth some eye-made exposure. not to mention, lavender is busy with its sedative effect, so it ends up being relaxing to take in its scent. plus, i figured my momma would always appreciate some throws of purple, so here is one for today.

i'm still getting used to the scent of lavender. i used to be quite anti-anti to it in relation to nose-speak. but it's growing on me, very slowly. it probably has to do with me valuing the relaxing qualities of it.

november is upon us ! hark.

03 November 2010

gt's kombucha is back on shelves !

thank lordisaaaaaaaaaa ! seriously.

gt's kombucha is finally back on shelves and ready for the glug-glugging. 

i wrote a review about the half-bizarre bevvy at the beginning of the year via apples and cheese, please.

but a few months ago, the bottles were pulled from shelves after independent testers charted its liquid makeup and discovered that beyond the fermenting process involved to make the drink, it continually fermented in bottles while being shipped and sitting in stores. each label notes that it does contain very low levels of alcohol, given that information. but the amount is so measurably minuscule that it's not considered an alcohol beverage by legal standards and can be sold in ordinary grocery stores.

and as the fermentation process is bound to continue once the kombucha is bottled (due to the nature of the drink itself) while perched on shelves, this became the big loud issue. but now they've resorted to incorporating sooner drink-by dates to work around this legalese debacle. it's still okay to sip after the drink-by date, but for the sake of saving this line of products, the legal end wins out for technicalities.

and the lids now express the new, shorter-ruled life dates on them, reminding us to enjoy the fizz-happy way of each bottle.

i ran into kimberton whole foods and grabbed six bottles, all of what would fit in my little reusable bag i finally remembered to bring in with me. the running was literal. i had to jog back to my car to get the bag for carrying the shake-sensitive drinks because i wasn't certain there'd be any left when i arrived on the j'ai soif scene.

i'm just so glad it's finally back in stores after months of none being available. the next most readily available brand is not up my taste buds' alley. 

and either you like kombucha, or you don't. i'm happy to likelike it.

30 October 2010

momma's time in the bobcat.

my momma was a good one.

this photograph is one she had my co-worker terry take while my brothers were out on jobs many years ago. she asked terry to teach her how to operate the loader and then eye-scoop a picture of her in it. she later surprised my brothers by giving them each a framed photograph of her for their office desks-- this exact view of her waving.

once in a while, as the screen saver of pictures at work scans through the albums on the computer, i'd see this scene of her and feel like it meant something more. it'd stay up for a few seconds, and i'd stop whatever i was doing so i could cherish it. the earth and a body shutting down took her from us four years and a bit more than eight months ago when she totaled sixty years. i often see her as the good some people just can't seem to be in this life.

27 October 2010

a narrow castle.

i've never seen a narrow castle (para-light house ?) like this except in my mom's side yard. her father or grandfather made them with shards of glass, bowls, and anything of the like. my brother scott relocated it behind the barn. it has a windmill-inspired twin still lodged in the ground at my mom's old house, in the yard not far from the driveway.

this one was where a squared off sandbox used to be, not far from the driveway when i was a little one. i always loved playing near it for hours at a time.

18 October 2010

autumn soup in the city.

last weekend, a hamburg friend and i trotted our way to philadelphia on a sunday morning to let our eyes gulp the genetic anomalies on display at the mütter museum. but before that, we downed some brunch at the white dog café in the university city region. 

before my bananas foster stuffed french toast arrived at the table, i sipped spoonfuls of  apple cider pumpkin bisque with its light array of toasted pumpkin seeds and hidden raisins of the white grape variety.

not sweet nor tart but more savory, the contents of this bowl hugged well what hides under my ribcage--that proverbial fist-like mass which best enjoys the good in life through palate persuasions, especially fall finds.

16 October 2010

rose of sharon - sparin' an ''a'' for an ''e.''

rose of sharon ! althea.

but we always wish it were spelled sheron.

14 October 2010

the dead butterfly parade.

all too often, i find dead butterflies by the side of swamp pike. i collect them and always set them down in the shade on this bent cypress wood foot stool, for some reason i never really put much thought into--- and still don't seem to have the energy to either. sometimes, i don't want reasons. just actions.

and i spilled some poetry, persuaded by reminders.

a thin shell, wings, lyrics

pressed into its profile, the monarch
butterfly is a closed book against tired
pavement. with cars sweeping past

at 45 miles per hour, those papery
wings, they are silent without glory
and tremble of a short history. i cannot 

read her wingspan or her spine when
she is stuck to the ground, that butterfly.
the day's air flattens of her what once

fluttered, tiny toes formerly locked lightly
to pollen spots, and their quiet habit
is quieter still, in an unmoving throw

of orange and black with delicate
flecks of white. but even while dead,
she pulls the sky into her veins.


wood and wings. wooden wings. hm.

13 October 2010

shubs, oh shubs.

according to one of the two signs handled here by my brother matt here last week, we apparently had shubs on sale for $10.00 each.

mind the backwards j's turned lowercase l's. 

i thought he was testing me and that it was a joke to see if i'd pick on the misspelling. but he claimed it must have been a mistake. missing r's happen ! i found a spare to throw in for the creation of shrubs, which are now on sale for $10.00 each with select plants.

shubs, oh shubs.

12 October 2010

pumpkin pie, oh my.

yum and a half ? that's the phrasing that comes to mind when eye-gaping this pumpkin pie from oley's black bugging baking company. yesterday, i picked up two pies after work, with one as a gift, and one for the moi factor. i managed to eat half of it at once, with success across several facets, including-- no stomachache. shh.

flavor-swift bites were another winning attribute, luckily, as i expected since having devoured a peach crumble pie from felicia fisher several months ago. if i had a more flexible schedule for venturing out and about, i'd probably also have more pies eaten in my lifetime too.

i ate the remaining half of this pie for breakfast. my stomach clapped in agreement with the decision on this foggy morning.

08 October 2010

wild goldenrod, not ragweed.

i recently googled ''ragweed,'' wondering what it looked like since i wasn't familiar with it, and i ran into an acquaintance who had experienced a terrible allergy attack several weeks ago. she said it was due to ragweed pollen in the air. 

so i found photos that noted ragweed as this, but tonight, i realized it's commonly confused for ragweed but is wild goldenrod. i have some goldenrod from a perennial nursery, and it does of course look similar. but these yellow sprigs are all around right now, seeding on their own in let-go landscapes.

06 October 2010

cider applesauce wins my heart's vote.

swoon and a half already. so many meal-time ingredients can be titled comfort food. but this is one which i easily feel makes the whole world seem right and decent, when i down a spoonful of it-- cider applesauce crafted and jarred by bauman's apple butter in sassamansville.

a few years ago, i discovered this uncommon applesauce and fell in love, sharing it as gifts to others, and all with glee for the palate.

strawberry applesauce is a new one for me, and i'm sure i'll like it once i open the gleaming jar. i bought some cranberry applesauce for my sister last year or the year before.

one attribute i wholly adore about bauman's product line is that their vibrant variety of fruit butters are vegan. this means i can send my pennsylvania-turned-californian friend packages of it as surprises once in a while, given his vegan diet. it can be very tricky to find fitting food gifts anywhere, but i especially love that they can be a positive reminder of home for him while also paralleling perfectly with his eating choices.

bauman's apple butter easily knocks all other apple butters i've tried right out of the water, no exaggeration. in fact, when i'd buy some other brand at the grocery store just because i couldn't get to their shop during my schedule, it felt insulting to eat the inferior blend and was never quite up to par, ever. really. luckily, bauman's fruit butters are sold in quite a few locations around the area and even in neighboring counties.

some of their fruit butters are apple, pear, strawberry, strawberry-raspberry, strawberry-rhubarb,  apricot, peach, honey peach, plum, strawberry-rhubarb, blueberry, pumpkin, sweet tomato, and cherry.

for a chance to win 1 gallon of freshly pressed cider from bauman's apple butter, visit this news, not blues blog post and comment at the end of the story, noting your e-mail address. the contest ends sunday the 17th of october. spread around the freebie-love and some fruit butter too, perhaps ! 

04 October 2010

curing a clogged drain sans drain-o.

for a while, i let a clogged drain have its way with my tub. sick, i know. but i finally took the time to whip out the natural ingredients to get it kick-started to let water flow through it again. i always felt nauseous and wrong buying drain-o, looking at the ridiculous, what-the-hell-are-these ingredients listed on the bottle with all the cautions and warnings for its  havoc of health hazards. 

but a few years ago while i was covering a town hall meeting hosted by pennsylvania state representative david kessler, he made note of the easy, not so poison-ready, and more environmentally friendly way to free up a clogged drain-- something many people who have been around the block have known about for years. he mentioned the likes of baking soda and vinegar.

add about three-quarters cup of baking soda to the drain hole in the tub. then pour about a half-cup of vinegar over top of it, covering it securely with an object so that none of the liquid or powder climbs back up but stays down in the pipes.

leave that sitting for about half an hour. in the meantime, bring a teakettle of water to boil. after the half hour, uncover the drain and very slowly pour the hot water over the opening.

this should help to unclog the drain decently. if it's a very bag clog, repeat the process.

also, i shed like a banshee with oodles of hair, at least in the shower, so i had to use tweezers to grab up gathered goops of hair. ack ! so that definitely helped to clear the drain fully once i had used this au naturale method for unclogging.

28 September 2010

the miss kim lilac makes an appearance at a funeral.

although the lilac is well beyond its blooming period, i had a call that made it well worth noting on these interwebs because of the sentimental intentions stringed with wanting to purchase a sampling of the shrub.

a woman phoned, leaving a message asking for a dark purple lilac to take to a funeral. her goal was to buy the favorite flowering shrub of the woman who died and to give it to her family at the funeral-- instead of cut flowers. although always gifted with care and the expression of compassion, to me, cut flowers seem like a vain and emptier representation for what could be possible through plants and their final scenes. with a view based in symbolism, cut flowers  reinforce the idea that a beautiful life happened and was abruptly ended.

i've always found the idea of having cut flowers given to you as indicative of a superficial relation that shows withering in the relationship, lacking a serious background, like the cut flowers which lack roots and can only be appreciated for their beauty, then to be spent and tossed, if not dried and hung up somewhere.

and to get a bit soapbox-like, so many instances in television and film depict a man buying cut flowers as a gift for the woman he fought with just before that, and the woman usually coos over them, accepting them gratefully. but in most instances, the actual problem the fighting was over is not fixed or resolved, so to feel like flowers solve anything, especially when they are such a typical purchase for apologies, again feels a bit soulless to me.

but my views are often far from what the masses are, so if you disagree, then you are in line with many before me who see the situation on the majority level and will keep supporting the idea of buying cut flowers. in this free but down and out country, we all do our own thing anyway.

but to me, it always felt more meaningful to receive a plant that has roots, is in a pot, and can either stay in a pot and thrive, or be put into the ground. that is the significance-- to grow and continue pushing onward--not dying post-bloom, lacking a foundation or what keeps a plant alive.

what is more honorable than to keep someone's spirit alive than by gifting an actual plant that can continue to exist in that person's memory ? transference ! plus, it's a positive for the earth. it's space being taken up the good way.

and in my rant-made ways, this all then stems back to a woman asking for a dark purple-blooming lilac. unfortunately, all of ours are in the ground, rooted, and would probably go into shock if we dug them out at this point. plus, i doubt ours were in the color scheme this person wanted. so i suggested she check elsewhere, but she said she already had and that most nurseries were out of a lilac supply.

so i called our main grower, and luckily, he had some miss kim lilac available.  miss kim is a dwarf korean lilac, staying much smaller than the common lilac.


i asked the woman to look at the miss kim lilac online to make sure she definitely wanted it because it's not quite a dark purple but more of a light lavender, with some dark spots early in the blossoming process.

she called back to say she wanted the shrub and prepaid for it. terry picked it up, and all was well.

i really just love the idea of someone going out of her way to think as thoughtfully as possible with something so emotionally complex and trying on those close to the person who recently died. plants have so much to say, to speak, and i think they do any even better job at it when they have the opportunity to continue growing well beyond the lifespan of the person who is being bereaved.

27 September 2010

raw can roll café spills out a luxury of a saturday lunch.

being pegged daily at my full-time job means i don't often have an opportunity to do lunch, as they say-- at least not out with friends in public places away from this barn. but i've had off a few saturdays over the past few months, including this weekend which i used for a venture to raw can roll café in douglassville with the ever-mentionable foodie blogger extraordinaire, amy strauss of apples and cheese, please.

i've never had a specifically all-raw meal before this one, and with me slowly stomping out  my former picky-eater ways, this served as a big chomp in the right direction.

 ( all photos are by ms. amy strauss )

my main double delicious dish, the middle eastern combination, involved a whopping pile of hummus and tabouli with addictive slices of flat bread. also included were a side salad with japanese carrot ginger dressing and cucumber dill marinate.

my beverage of choice for quick cold sips was a chantilly lace smoothie made of almon milk, vanilla, and banana. amy tested it out and ordered one too. with several other smoothie medleys on the menu, i am enthusiastic to try out another on my next visit.

amy favored the special of the day, mexican tostadas with a curiously crafted faux-meat that didn't leave us feeling weighted or sluggish as the real thing often does. we both  responded in feeling good, energetic, and all things opposite of exhaustion after eating. this is often noted of raw food diets and consumption.

a few shops down, pure body wellness offered free cucumber facials and massages for the afternoon. raw can roll café proprietor sheryll chavarria owns both locations and performed my facial, which left my often angry skin reacting a bit more kindly to me while the sun was still perched up in the sky for the next few hours.

and a throw of thai spring rolls along with hummus, a red pepper hummus,  and more flat bread pieces kindly sat out on this 1950s mint and pink door-turned-tabletop for guests. getting your nom nom on for the better is quite doable in such scenarios.

harpist betsy scott chapman played for visitors to the holistic wellness center in a sweeping contrast to all of our busy, rushed days full of cars buzzing past and so much other noise pollution to rack our brains, with this as a perfect balance of better sound for the proverbial noggin.

25 September 2010

flowers and sushi.

last week, before running inside to down some specialty rolls at fujiyama japanese steak house and sushi bar in pottstown, i noticed some orange cosmos, a zinnia parade, and some annual spring aster kids popping along the parking lot still in a september timeline.

here were the rolls, blurrily so.

( triple lady's roll and yo-yo roll )

( halfway house roll, bobby roll, and eel )

i love sushi, note at life.