Monday, August 31, 2015


A year ago this month, a logging operation began on our land. We own about 245 acres, and most of it is woods, a mix of hard and soft wood. It is important that the wood be cut because otherwise it would become overcrowded, and the large trees would completely shade the land underneath them. This land is called the understory. Here is the dictionary definition:
a layer of vegetation beneath the main canopy of a forest.
If the understory can’t get light there is no new growth. When some of the trees are cut, the sun shines through and new plants and bushes begin to grow providing shelter and food for animals and birds. It is the healthy way to maintain a forest to have mature trees cut down every 15 years or so. Over the 34 years we’ve owned our place, it has been logged several times in different areas. The land where Margaret and Matthew have their house was a logging yard for a forty-acre cut of densely packed fir balsam trees that were inaccessible except through that part of the land. We wanted it cut before they started building because it will not be able to be cut again. 

Have you ever driven by a place and seen this sign? 

I suspect that some people think it only means a Christmas tree farm, but it doesn’t. You may read about the American Tree Farm System here. And if you go here, you may read about tree farms in your own state. We manage our woodland by hiring a forester who walks the land and sees what needs to happen and when. He gets a part of the money we make from logging but it is money which is very well spent. Our fellow, Charlie, has been working for us since we first bought the place. We trust him. He knows trees and forests and how to keep them thriving. 

Last year we were due for a big cut. Over the years we’ve hired different loggers, from large operators down to a one-man business. The man we had do the work last year has done logging for us before. We like him, and in one of life’s beautiful coincidences, his name is Forrest. The land being logged this time was up the hill from the house which meant big trucks went by steadily over several weeks. 

First they came and made a logging yard. 

This is a place where they haul the logs in preparation for them to be loaded onto trucks and taken to mills. The yard was a short walk from the house, and some ous went up most every day to see what they had done. Hazel Nina loved the machines and would start pointing and making noises as we got closer to them. 

Her dad and mum would come home from work, and they would take her up again. Whenever Michael, Estée, and Campbell Walker came to visit, we’d all go up. Those were sweet, fun times. 

Here are the ‘boys’ (Tom and Matt) on the first day, August 25.

They cut along the road on the way up to making a landing.

A logging road in the woods.

Hazel in the crib watching a truck out the window.

Intricate work with big machines.

I love this picture, as we walked back down the hill.

A baby’s favorite toy, a pulp hook!

When they were done, they did some cutting closer to the house to ‘weed out’ some trees. 

They finished up just about the time we had (another tree man) cut the old maple in front of the house, which I wrote about here

The loggers told us that when they were working they saw a hawk, a mother and her fawn, and they heard an owl before sunrise. We wondered what changes we would see this summer after all that logging work and the maple gone. We have had a summer of birds: phoebes, bluebirds, chickadees, crows, bluejays, song sparrows, other sparrows, and wild turkeys. We’ve heard a lot of coyotes quite close at night. They have big boulevards to travel on now. Tom and Lucy saw a moose the other day. The logger came back this year and smoothed out the logging yard. Tom scattered grass seed, and it is already looking greener.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Product placement/chocolate hazelnut spread

When you read the subject line you may have thought, Nutella. That product is the most famous, and is probably the first way people taste a chocolate hazelnut spread. It is fine tasting, but it contains an artificial vanilla flavoring. Here is the list of ingredients:
Sugar, vegetable oil, hazelnuts (13%), cocoa powder (7.4%), non-fat milk solids, emulsifier (soy lecithin), flavor (vanillin)

For all of my adult eating life, I have tried to avoid artificial colors and flavors. Because I like the taste of Nutella, I went searching for an alternative, and have now tried three different companies. Each of them is out-of-this-world delicious with much better ingredients. Yes, they cost more, but so do the organic vegetables and fruits I choose to buy. I would rather spend money on my health than have many pairs of shoes. 

The one I have settled on as my very favorite is Barefoot and Chocolate

Ingredients: organic cane sugar, hazelnuts, certified sustainable palm fruit oil, organic cocoa powder, organic sunflower oil, organic skimmed milk powder, sunflower lecithin, organic vanilla. 

I keep it out on the counter and have a couple spoonfuls a day. Makes me happy and tastes delicious.

As well as being a 'product placement,' I think I'll offer this as a Weekend Cooking posting. If you aren't familiar with this weekly series, you really should go visit if you are at all interested in food!

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Sweet Peas and Forsythia

Three years ago this month I did a post on what I called a 'friendship' between growing plants. Then I was referring to flowers and vegetables. This year I saw another friendship between a spring-flowering shrub and a flower. We have a perennial sweet pea which doesn't have the smell of the annuals but does come up year after year with beautiful flowers. Last year we put some wire on the light post, and it attached there. This year, it came up and twined itself amongst the forsythia branches. This sort of thing delights my gardener's soul.

Monday, August 24, 2015

In the Garden with The Totterings

In the Garden with The Totterings - a Tottering-By-Gently collection
by Annie Tempest
fiction 2011
finished 8/22/15

I first learned about Annie Tempest’s work in the English magazine Country Life from a 2002 article in an old Victoria Magazine. I've kept it all these years, 

and finally, this week, bought three collections of her cartoons. I love her tales about this oh, so British couple living in the countryside. I assume they are wealthy, but Daffy doesn’t have help working in her garden. There is a woman who comes in to do some house work but that’s it. Daffy’s husband Dicky is retired (don’t know from what job) and he mostly sits. 

The cartoons are filled with warm-hearted humor. 

Do you see that little drawing in the lower corner? That is Dicky. And one of the many delights of this book is 

He is hard at work on his favorite occupation - sitting, drinking, and reading the paper. His cartoons are on the left pages, and Daffy's are on the right. She is pursuing her never ending attempt to control her garden.

The book begins with a cast of characters.

The reader gets to see the daily life of Daffy and Dicky (perfect, perfect names, don't you think?!). Daffy's day begins with a bit to eat, a cigarette, and relaxation time with her good dog. 

Sometimes the thought of gardening work is just too much!

 Her thoughts rarely stray from the garden.

There's a photo of Annie Tempest at the beginning of the book,

and that little smile on her face is just like the one I had on mine as I read this wonderful book. I love these people. The other two books I have are Tails of Tottering Hall, and Drinks With The Totterings. I expect I will add more as time goes on. 

Monday, August 17, 2015

At this moment

Gosh, I just looked back and saw that I haven’t done an ‘at this moment’ for six years! The three animals I mentioned in the last one are all dead now. If you go to the sidebar under ‘letter topics’ you can see the (very few) other postings. I’ll try to do it more often. I like stopping once in a while and really noticing. It all began as an exercise Tom had his students do. (I did change the 'feel' category to emotional feeling rather than snow on my face or wind in my hair.) Today, just before 5 pm, I sat in the big study chair between the south windows


What I saw: straight ahead

to the left

to the right

What I heard: the breeze outside the three open windows

What I smelled: bread baking in the oven

What I tasted: nothing, though thinking about the quinoa and sautéed vegetables I’m going to cook later.

What I felt: very happy in the study, which is also now a playroom and a yoga room. There are gates on both doors so Lucy cannot get in, and the room stays quite clean. It is a room without any electronic devices, and there isn’t even a clock. Just toys and books and photographs and my desk where I still check my checking account on paper, and pay bills with a check, and write cards. For me, a perfect space. I saw that my very first 'at this moment' was also in this room; and how it has changed since 2007. The computer was in there along with my beloved black reproduction phone and the answering machine. Now I don't have a land line, and the answering machine is in the same category of a VHS machine. Also, the room is all freshly painted with those new picture shelves I noted here. The only thing that remains the same is the quilt my Aunt Susie made in 1927.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Afghan Risotto - Shola

Another recipe from what may become my favorite cookbook.

As with the Turkish Leek Patties, I'll show you the recipe and then tell how I modified it for two people.

Afghan Risotto - Shola

I diced a couple carrots, and cooked them until soft.

Then I sautéed a chopped onion in 4 teaspoons olive oil with

the carrots, and a chopped tomato.

In the meantime I cooked a cup (makes about 2 cups cooked) of short grain brown rice

with 1/4 teaspoon each of tumeric and cumin.

I drained the rice,

put it in a bowl, topped it with the vegetables, some chopped chives and parsley, and the juice of one lemon.

We both loved this dish, and I'll make it often. Delicious, easy, and healthy. What could be better?!

Please visit Weekend Cooking for more food related postings.