Monday, April 27, 2009


I love this time of year. I get to harvest fresh salads and greens every morning! I take my basket outside and pick the biggest heads of butter crunch and red leaf, a few leaves of chard, kale, or collards, some mesculin mix, and a head of broccoli (that's what's pictured below). We should have enough planted to do green harvests like this for another month. I store all this in the fridge for the day then wash and prepare with dinner tonight. I'll add some nuts, fresh green onions, and oil and vinegar. Yum!The winter/spring garden is nice because there aren't as many bugs and pests out yet. The onions, potatoes, and garlic don't require much water or extra feeding. Basically they go in the ground and we don't really worry about them till harvest which should be coming soon.

This is just a picture of another harvest from a few days ago. Being in the garden with all the colors, textures, and sounds is such a nice way to start the day!
This is a portion of the broccoli bed which is growing nicely.
Here's a row of lettuces, cabbage, brussel sprouts, broccolli, and onions.
Lettuce up close.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Being near greatness

A call from brother Dave last week brought unbelievable news. Against all expectation he offered Jennifer and I two tickets to the Dave Matthews Band concert Friday night in Charlotte. Mystery surrounds the acquisition of these tickets. They were a gift and our gratitude is immense.

For any who don't know Dave Matthews is our vote for one of a handful of precious treasures of our generation. We wonder how he captures so acutely much of the essence of our existence and moves us deeply-his compositions, lyrics, melodies, rhythms striking chords and tuning moods in the deep parts of our hearts (sorry-too much honesty?).

We arrived at the Verizon Pavilion in Charlotte and walked through the crowds of tailgating fans to pick up our tickets. We were overwhelmed. Not only had brother Dave given us tickets but we had center section, front row seats. Let me repeat-there was no one except Dave Matthews in front of us. And, inside our ticket pack were two purple passes to the "lounge." We began to inquire about the use of such passes and eventually figured out that we had special access to free drinks and food. This was a relief given the $11 beer. And we did take advantage. So look closely. Those are genuine front row seats and special passes to DMB concert. We were royalty for an evening-- strutting our tickets and passes through the sections most had no access to.

No cameras were allowed in the pavilion but Jennifer snapped this shot from her cell phone (above). The show was incredible. We were right there. They played a mix of old tunes, including some of my favorites "So Damn Lucky" and "Crush," as well as some tunes from their soon to be released new album. The band performed from 8:30 to 10:30 without a stop and then came back for a two song encore. DMB plays with such intensity and energy. And they JAM like crazy so you get a different spin of solos and musical duels between each of the fantastic musicians.

We left tired and enchanted. This was a real special treat for our simple homely lifestyle. I am not much for accepting debt that can't be repaid but I'll happily live a debtor to a brother. Thanks Dave. Thanks also to dad and sister Anna for treating the girls to a movie and hanging out with them while we partied.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Daniel's Columbia Green Grant and Project

A few months ago, Daniel wrote a grant for a new landscape design on the island at the entrance to our neighborhood. The organization called Columbia Green was giving money for neighborhood beautification projects and Daniel's design was accepted and awarded $500. He worked together with another neighbor to organize a weekend work day with the community. Daniel ordered all the plants and collected free mulch for the island.

This is what the spot looked like before. There is a large dogwood with azaleas in the center and a few dwarf nandina bushes scattered around. I think there is a trimmed crape myrtle in the back.

What is so great about Daniel's design is that he used mostly edible plants, bushes, and trees. He ordered a lapin cherry, fig trees, blueberry bushes, echinacea flowers and a few yellow lantana for the front. They also moved the nandina and azaleas around and added tons of mulch. The plants are small now but in a few years the neighborhood is going to be able to make all kinds of foods from the fruits of these plants. It is certainly more beautiful than before.

Way to go Daniel. I am so proud of this project. Although I wish I could have been there, I am thankful for the way you represented our family and for all the hours of labor you put into it last weekend while I was on vacation!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Arianna's First Art Show

The USC art department offers art classes every semester called the Young Artists Workshop. Arianna was VERY excited about FINALLY being old enough to participate this Spring. Ellen has done it twice already and Arianna has patiently waited until she turned 6 to sign up. The class is a hour and a half every Friday for 6 weeks. They do projects with acrylics, watercolor, clay, etc. There is a reception after the last class where the teachers display the works and serve refreshments. It is a nice event since we are able to get to see everyone's work in such a professional way. The kids are always so proud.
These are some of the clay pieces. Arianna's is the yellow horse head.
Here's Arianna's self portrait that was done to look like a batik.
We took them out to dinner to celebrate Arianna's first art reception.
This is Ellen's lizard.
Sorry to the grandparents for not giving notice of this event. It really snuck up on me this year and I was not expecting the weeks to go by so fast!

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Wait...I'm not ready!

(Daniel here): Our dog Jay is quite the handful. As many of you know he is a treasure. Right now he is chewing his hind end up and so wearing one of those cones. We'll just add that to the list of "Jay accomplishments"! But over the weekend he was the catalyst for the following conversation. Thanks a bunch Jay:

Ellen: "Dad why does Jay have an "N" on his tummy?"

Dad (unaware of impending unpreparedness): "That means Jay got neutered."

E: "What is noooooootered?"

D (Arianna now tuning in): "Well they go in and cut out some of Jays 'organs'."

E&A: "Really, why?"

D (sheesh): "Well, dogs and cats breed really well and so there are too many around. In order to prevent them from doing so any dog or cat that makes it to the pound has his or her organs cut out so they can't make babies."

Ellen: "How do they make babies?"

D (shuffling, hesitating, uncomfortable): I'll just skip the X-rated content explained in the most simple and easy to understand format I could muster on the spot with as little detail as possible. Something about all mammals and eggs and little swimmy-guys with tails and the miracle of life...

E&A: "REALLY?" (with contorted faces and quite a bit of surprise THEN far-off looks quite the signs of internal work rendering external appearances dim and blank).

D: (Looking around, sun still shining, birds singing, all appearing well). "Hey who wants to water some plants?"

There it came and there it went. So much of life happens without my approval.
Seriously, thanks Jaydog.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Flowers and other stuff

Columbia is so beautiful in the spring. The dogwoods, azaleas, and wisteria are blooming all over the place. We have all those trees in our yard and it is such a pleasure to walk outside. I especially love this wisteria that is growing up a teepee bamboo structure that Daniel built. It smells so amazing. We talk about how we find ourselves walking around it all weekend just to be near its scent. This is not a great picture of what we see everyday since it is close up but here it is anyway.
We planted dianthus flowers and gerber daisies in this bed in the front yard. I love having instant color. Although it is in the front of the house the flowers are a little small to see from the road but they are a pleasure to walk by throughout the day. We (the girls and I) spend a lot of time with front and back doors open. We go in and out all day while we sit out for lunch, take breaks for playing with the dogs, or just wander around in the sun. I am so thankful for the beauty that surrounds our house, and even more thankful that I'm home most of the time to enjoy it.
We have been eating from this patch of collards all winter. As the weather has warmed and the days have gotten longer the plants have grown huge. I took this picture after we harvested a large grocery bag stuffed with collard leaves. I noticed at Earthfare that a bunch of organic collards were about $2.50. We have been eating a bunch every day for free! In case you are wondering how we eat them, I usually chop them and then saute them with a little oil, vinegar, lemon juice, and soy or tamari sauce. Then I add them to everything--beans and rice, burritos, grits, pizza (actually I add them raw to top of pizza before cooking) or we just have them as a side dish.
Daniel planted loquat trees in the front yard. He pulled these up from around a large loquat tree at Midlands Tech where he teaches. He got them last fall and put them in pots and mulched them over the winter. He dug out this new bed a few weekends ago and planted these 4 trees in the front yard and they have some new growth! Loquats get to be about 25 feet and produce an edible (pear-like) fruit in the late summer.

Here's some watercolor paintings the girls did over the weekend. The design came from one of our drawing books. I put them on this mat board and we have it hanging in the playroom. I like to change the art in the playroom every few months.

These last three pictures were taken by my friend at a party this weekend. She loves taking pictures. It's a hobby for now but she's building a portfolio in case it ever turns into something more. Jennifer King Photography 2009