Sunday, August 30, 2009


The big event recently has been the house, but I thought it'd be fun to post a few photos of some non-house stuff we've been up to recently.

This is Joe's home while he's living here during construction. I helped him set it up and I think it's the coolest thing.

Here's some of the tomatoes Nancy canned this week. The final count: 35. Go Nance!

Here's our good friend Damon May who came for a quick overnight visit. He did a quick tour up Rt. 100 on his beautiful mid-eighties BMW.

On Saturday we spent much of the day watching Ted Kennedy's funeral Mass and burial via webcast. It was a moving, inspiring tribute to a great man.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Late Season Blight

We found evidence of late season tomato and potato blight in our garden early this evening. We are in good company as the blight has impacted farms and gardens throughout New England this year. We've been hearing of others who have lost their much loved tomatoes too early in the season to enjoy a single juicy red ripe delicious beauty. This morning at the farmer's market, we talked with a farmer who lost his entire crop overnight earlier this year. He repeated what we've read in the paper; that a large supplier out of Alabama sent diseased plants north this spring supplying big box stores with starts. Unsuspecting gardeners planted these starts and then the rain started, and continued to fall for much of June and July creating perfect conditions for the blight to spread, and it has spread far and wide.

This topic has been filed under "really interesting" in our minds; we've discussed it at length. It illustrates interconnected issues including global warming, industrial agriculture vs buying local, and crucially, will we be eating tomatoes this year?

In response we cut off all of the greens from our potatoes and put them in plastic garbage bags. One plant was all mush and stunk! Another had a large patch of spore underneath the leaves. Otherwise the plants seemed okay and we hope we caught it early enough to save the tubers (the disease is systemic so it moves from leaves to stems to tubers/fruits). We removed two tomato plants and carefully removed impacted leaves from others. A Cornell website suggests that if we stay on top of it and it is sunny, we might be able to nurture the plants along. We'll see. We are very lucky in that a lot of our fruit is ready to pick and we have plan to can tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Shining Sea Bikeway-Build it and they will come

Nancy and I spent a few days on the Cape last weekend visiting her family. We were lucky to have some really nice weather which led to some great time at the beach.

Just about a 1/4 mile from the house is the Shining Sea Bikepath, which runs from Woods Hole up to North Falmouth for a total of about 10.7 miles. The path was built phases. The first section ran from Woods Hole to Falmouth village and was built in 1975 for a total length of about 4 or so miles. This section runs on old railbed through some stunning coastal scenery with glacial ponds on one side and Vineyard Sound on the other.

Short sections have been added periodically and sometime in the last year the path was extended by another 5 or so miles, again on old railbed and this section is largely in coastal forest with a few beautiful views out to Buzzards Bay. As bike paths often do, it finishes of with a dull thud in North Falmouth.

I've never been all gaga about bike paths for a variety of reasons, but I have to say that I was truly impressed by just how many people were out there the afternoon Nancy and I rode the path with her parents. It strikes me that people want to ride bikes, that they enjoy riding bikes, and that they will ride bikes if and when the conditions are present that the feel safe, able, and comfortable. Sometimes I'm amazed at how much people are even willing to be a little heroic in order to ride a bike; I see folks with their seats painfully low, or riding with knobby-tread tires on smooth pavement -- things that work against feeling good on a bike, and yet they persist out of some desire to simply be on a bike. There was almost a highway quality to the numbers of people out on the path and I was impressed and left with a hopeful feeling about human nature.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


Sunday, Nance and I drove down to Sunshine Valley Berry Farm in Rochester, Vermont to pick blueberries. The day threatened rain, so we tried to get up and go. We've been really busy with the house and work and all sorts of stuff, but getting our berries for the year is important to us.

We are reasonably good at tracking things like how much we picked the year before, so we knew we needed to pick somewhere in the range of 18-20 quarts of berries. We freeze most of what we pick and then use them up slowly through the year. In fact, one of my most favorite treats is a little of our yogurt with a few blueberries and some of our maple syrup, so I eat the majority of them. Our haul was pretty impressive --19 quarts all told-- but picking didn't feel ponderous; the bushes were full and it was easy to gather up big full ripe berries pretty quickly. When we got home we left them out for a while before freezing them to let them sweeten up a bit more.

We spoke with Rob and Patricia, the owners at Sunshine Valley, and they do a sort of work trade for berries in the spring. If you come down and help out, you get some experience pruning and shaping the bushes and earn a discount on the berries once they come into season later on. We're going to put that on our calendar.

Back here at home, we have 8 blueberry bushes that we planted 3 years ago. They were a present from Nancy's dad Lou and this year they are really starting to show their stuff. For a while there I was a little over eager with mulching and as a result kept down some of the new growth that was trying to come up. I've amended my ways and the bushes are all looking pretty good. (See the picture above). So far we've gotten 2-3 quarts here at home with a bunch more still to come. Its exciting to watch them come along. We look forward to expanding our fruit trees and bushes over time.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Champlain Valley Folk Festival

We spent this past weekend at the Champlain Valley Folk Festival over at Kingsland Bay in Ferrisburg, Vermont. Kingsland Bay is a lovely site on the shore of Lake Champlain and the CVFF is an excellent event that is a highlight of our summer. For us it as much a social get-together as it is a music and dance event, not that the music and dance are anything less then wonderful. Having attended much larger festivals that are similar, we've come to really appreciate the CVFF for its scope, its setting and the slant of performers one is likely to encounter. My perspective is that "folk" is almost a little misleading; I'd almost call it more of a "regional traditional" festival, i.e. lots of Quebecois performers as well as bands and players from all over the world, but not so much of the typical singer-songwriter lets-all-sway-together kind of stuff. Maybe its just that I sorta pass that stuff up, but I think there is less of that typical folk stuff, and I'm glad for it.

A highlight of the weekend was going for a swim au natural around midnight after the Saturday night contra dance. Crowfoot played the dance and they rock, so we were all sweaty and ready for a cool dip to top off the night. So, a pile of dancers all descended down to the pier and jumped in, while an improptu session of fiddlers and other players provided accompanyment. Camping is just a short walk away, so we were back at our tents and cozy in short order.

Unfortunately Sunday turned rainy early on in the day. The rain didn't really stop anything from happening, but it always puts a bit of a damper on things.

A few highlights for me were: Dancing to Crowfoot, watching Reveillons! perform, seeing our friend Joanne Garton dance and play, and hearing Tim Eriksen play for the first time in a few years. I also joined in on an Irish session and had a really good time. Sometimes sessions can be a bit overwhelming, but this one felt good.