Having grown up on Long Island, it wasn’t until I traveled cross country, through Colorado, that I can remember really experiencing being surrounded by mountains. For me, it was a comforting feeling. And I felt that same sense of comfort and calm as we drove into West Virginia to Lost River.
From the top down: 1. The site of my failed plein air painting, the perspective proved too much for my rusty skills. As we were driving to the farmhouse, we caught NPR’s Science Friday, they were discussing the book club book of the week—Flatland, which in retrospect was very fitting. I will be posting the few paintings I was able to get through—I’m thinking there may be a woodcut in the works, the geometry of the cornfield is still calling to me. 2. Morning muffins, although we were never able to connect with the caretaker of the farmhouse we were renting, we were greeted in the morning by a basket of delicious muffins—thank you. 3. A short walk toward the George Washington National Forest and we came upon a stream. If the weather had been warmer I would have dared to dip my toes, Gus on the other hand did not hesitate and trotted right in. 4. Deer mandible, the coloring of the teeth was beautiful. If I new anything about cleaning bones I would have made a necklace. 5. The farmhouse, charmed. 6. The Valley, as we drove away we had to stop to steal one last look.
And lets not forget about food—The Lost River General Store had a nice selection of lunch items, tasty ice cream, and pretty large selection of beer. The proprietors were very nice and introduced Gus to their pup–who looked a lot like our guy. For dinner (both nights) we ate at the Lost River Grill–wood paneled walls and super friendly service, the country fried steak was so good that George was still talking about it after we got back to Baltimore. If you still have room after dinner (the first night I had the meatloaf and could barely get dessert in, although it didn’t stop me from trying) go for dessert. The second night I left some space and got the ice cream sundae cheesecake–cheesecake with a chocolate cookie crust, fudge (top and bottom) whipped cream and a cherry. Seriously, don’t forget to leave room for dessert (they also have fresh baked pies, the cherry is worth a stop.)
Printed on my 6.5 x 10 Craftsman Superior on 8×10, they pushed the size limitations of the press (in this case pushing overall paper size and placement, while keeping the individual printed area sizes within the presses capabilities). With newly found access to a larger press, you can keep an eye out for more (and larger) prints.
Lately I’ve been looking around at some really good linocut illustrations and decided to give it a go. Compared to wood, linoleum blocks are much more cost effective and cut much quicker.
With a bit of practice (more patience, and frequent tool sharpening) I think I will be able to get tighter cleaner lines. But for this sweet little birthday album for my nephew, it worked out well. It has 18 pages and a label for each year, ideally a photo from each birthday will be placed in the book and when he turns 18 he will have a quick look back at one very special day throughout his childhood.
Last year when the squash plant was lost I was blamed for watering it too much, when the same symptoms appeared this year, I new that I couldn’t have over watered. If blamed for anything this year, it would have to be neglect. I can’t seem to find the time to water, I didn’t reroute my soaker hoses so when I do try to use them they don’t water anywhere near the base of my plants, and lets not even mention that I didn’t mulch. The cause of my inability to keep a squash plant going though is not lack of or too much water, it seems to be vine borers, sort-of comforting I guess.
To my surprise, despite the heat and my lack of attention to my plants, the rest of the garden seems to be on track. The peppers are a bit slow but they came in pretty late last year as well; tomatoes seem to be doing well, although no sign of fruit so far….and cucumbers, well! They are growing right out of the container.
My poor little blueberry plant was left out all winter and with nowhere to replant, I thought it wouldn’t have a chance, but it seems to be hanging on. I was excited when I saw some small berries growing:
Unfortunately its seems that another plant has creeped into the pot and the berries were not blueberries as I initially thought, but rather polk weed.
I shared my limited canning experience a while back, if you don’t recall, it was not what one would call successful. I decided to give it another go, but this time I took a stab at pickles. Back in February I ate some pickled onions off George’s plate, I think they were supposed to be a garnish. They stuck with me and I was determined to recreate them. I found a few recipes online and most did not require canning or heated pickling liquid, but that’s no fun! After hoarding a few weeks worth of golden beets from our CSA, a few red onions, some cucumbers, I sterilized my jars.
I had a little trouble getting the seals to pop on some of them, but in the end they all seem properly sealed. I also learned that when they say: Pack jars, they mean pack those jars! With my cucumbers I think I could have gotten a bit more in each, see them floating around up there? I’m a little nervous because I didn’t weigh my produce so I’m not sure my ratios were correct when making my pickling liquids–I’m going to need to pop some open and give them a try.
On the weekends George and I have the pleasure of accompanying Gus to the park (Patterson Park, Baltimore MD) for a morning walk. We used to vary our route and let Gus lead us around to where he would like to go. Recently we have been circling the duck pond, and have been pleasantly surprised with the diversity of birds. There are always mallards, seagulls, robins, house sparrows, and typically turtles sunning themselves. For a long stretch there was a great blue heron that would stand by the cattails, but for the last few months (possibly longer) he/she has been absent. A few wigeons had been hanging around and we’ve also seen cormorants and coots.
Two weeks ago I thought I saw something in some low branches, George assured me it was just some trash, but I was not convinced. I inched forward and about 6 or so feet away, the trash spread it’s wings and flew away. Not totally sure what it was, but based on the coloring and the return of a (seemingly young) great blue heron this week, it could have been the great blue or possibly a smaller (green?) heron.
On this particular walk a black duck caught my eye (below on the right). I’ve been tricked many times in the past since they look so similar to mallard hens, but this one was much darker and a bit more gray then the mallard hens around, so it may have been a black duck.
There was also this silly white (domestic) duck that let me get very close. My camera is a cast-off from my mom and its digital zoom is pretty close to not worth using so I often start shooting from far away and inch closer and closer to see when whatever I am shooting has had enough of my intrusion and flies or runs away–I should really get a better camera.
And the tour de force: the great blue heron. We turned the far corner of the pond and looking back we could see the heron. I was tempted to run back around but decided to get a shot from afar and let him/her be.
I’m planning on doing some woodcuts of ducks and have been snapping photos in the hopes of getting some nice groupings. This time around I got a nice set of mallard drakes before they swam away, but I’ll hold onto that one for another time.