Saturday in the garden, mid-September: 3 out of 4 ducks are chilling out, our one grassy patch is a combination of trampled yellow grass (we don’t believe in watering lawns in the summer, they’ll be green again soon enough) and duck poop that Ruby’s not gleaned already for her own tasty treats, the temps have dipped into the high 60s/low 70s so I’ve radically pruned the tomatoes so they get maximum warmth/light before I take down the plants, and for some reason, we’ve got two volunteer PEPPER plants in our raised beds with the leeks – go figure! Never have I ever had volunteer peppers – considering the four little web-footed demons consider the leaves of pepper plants to be the best thing ever, maybe this will miraculously fruit before the garden goes dormant for the winter. Long shot, but can’t resist seeing at least what kind of pepper plant it is (we do multiple kinds of chili and sweet – only thing I know is it’s not a super hot pepper as our serrano and scotch bonnet plants had smaller leaves). We shall see!
We are definitely in full time preservation mode! From top left: 1) Dan is propagating plants like crazy, starting a few herbs and other flowers in water while others are in soil/sand mixtures (I leave this to him as he’s got seriously magic fingers in this area of horticulture, literally grabbing what I thought was a dead “stick” of a fuschia plant 2 years ago and not only reviving it, but bringing it to almost 5′ tall and dividing it last year to make more. Love it. 2) Being the listmaker I am, the magnetic whiteboard on the fridge is my lifesaver, and right now we’ve got multiple things going with multiple dates to remember, from my experiment with 24 duck eggs (half are pickled/boiled with a Turkish recipe, the other half are in a salty brine, uncooked, Chinese-style) to fermenting hot sauce for our third year in a row, to Dan getting started on his monthly charcuterie project, pancetta, which he did the rub for today and will sit refrigerated til next week then will hang downstairs and cure (we have a meat hook in the 3rd bedroom’s closet for hanging cured meats in the basement – it’s not creepy at all, right?). 3) Fennel has become all the rage in our house, as my husband uses it to make sausage and as part of his meat cures, so with the upcoming rain promising to knock over our fennel bush that is precariously close to keeling over as it is, I have a big pile of seeds just starting to dry on the back porch under cover. To last a lifetime, I know, but in this “we are hoping not to be in this house this time next year” mode, it means next year we will not have a garden so it’s okay if I have twice as much cured/preserved/canned/etc., right? 4) The second to last wave of tomatoes turning red because dammit I had a pretty darn good Roma season this year for the first time in 5-6 years, and that’s worth celebrating and doing whatever I can to get every last one. Only 6-7 tomatoes at most with blossom end rot all season, and while I cannot explain why, I’ll take it! Still not enough marinara for moi (and forget about having enough for sundried tomatoes, but I had 4 big bowls of caprese, overloading them in a good way with buffalo mozzarella, homegrown basil, and EVOO/balsamic), but more motivation to find that land so I can double if not triple the amount of tomatoes we are growing (I’ve never gone over 24, and while it may sound insane, I could easily do 50 and probably still whine about not having enough marinara, salsa, chopped tomatoes, ketchup, etc., to last me a full year!! 5) I am trying my hand at Caribbean sweet chili sauce – or as I think I might call it “this shit will send you to your grave it’s so hot” – and after husband started to weep and cough and laugh simultaneously while trying it (what? are 8 scotch bonnets with seeds too many to handle? bwa ha ha ha…), yesterday I ran it through the sieve to let it chill for a bit 🙂
And I’m back in genealogy mode, just like my dad used to do, updating our Ancestry website, adding photos, learning more, and also working with my husband to get his side researched (turns out his Great-Uncle Doug was a dentist in NSW known as “One Tug Doug” – yikes!). The interesting thing though, is my grandma gave me some of her old photo albums when she was still alive but I never realized at the time how few of her photos were labeled! So there are a bunch I’m clueless about. In this set of scans, the top left is her at college in Minnesota (she’s in the center, we look a LOT alike), just below that is my grandpa with my dad as a baby, but the fellas in the other two and the random city shot? No clue about that context! Old boyfriends? Buddies of my grandpa’s? No idea! (but pretty funny, no?). I was able to do some online searching on the city photo because of the hotel name and found it was the Hotel Leamington in Miami (both my gram and gramps served in multiple places in WWII, but don’t know much more than that), and I have another shot (not seen here) of two butchers with a logo that looks like the name of a Portuguese sausage company that’s in Hawaii, so when I learn more about that one I’ll share. Anyhow, I love doing this and see why it was so addictive for my dad. I just wish they were all still alive to talk to – something I don’t have the luxury of like my dad did. That being said, today I decided to look up my Great Aunt – my grandma’s sister – who I didn’t learn even existed until after both of their deaths. I knew they were “estranged” but didn’t know why, and my aunt said a couple years ago that she’d tried to reunite them but grandma wasn’t interested. Well, dammit, both ladies have passed and I’ll be damned if I’m not going to learn more about this woman and her family, so I’m off on a bit of an adventure writing a letter (yes, letters) to a woman in Illinois who I think is my Great Aunt’s daughter (“first cousin once removed” maybe?). We shall see!