Table Project

family

This is a post about restoring an antique dining room table, which took me the better part of the summer and at which (spoiler alert) I am currently typing.

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This table appeared in our house in the above sad-looking state a few years ago during an extended absence from our home. We got back to find it propped against the wall upstairs with few clues as to where it came from, though my dad recognized it from his childhood. After some sleuthing this summer I found out my uncle had left it here because they needed to make room for new furniture, but were unwilling to completely get rid of this old family heirloom.

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As you can see from these photos, the table was in pretty bad shape. Lots of rings, stains, scratches, and gouges. IMG_1104

 

 

My cousin Phil is a woodworker and it was thanks to him that I felt like I could tackle this project since I’ve never done any serious restoration kind of work before.

 

 

 

 

The first step was to sand, sand, sand. I started by hand with a pretty fine-grit sanding block, but it was taking FOREVER, so I borrowed a sander from my uncle and went to town. It still took forever, but was slightly faster. IMG_3460

 

It was also filthy and after attempting it first in the basement, I quickly relocated outside to the unfinished deck because I was worried I was giving myself the wood-working version of Black Lung.

 

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I went through a lot of these little guys

The table has a pretty thick mahogany veneer on it and despite reading lots of horror stories about how easy it is to bust through a veneer and ruin a project forever, that didn’t happen. I was careful and also increasingly pleased to see how beautiful the wood grain was underneath all the dirt, stains, and old varnish. I was also filthy.

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The legs posed a different problem, they were pretty unsteady and at some point in the past someone tried to stabilize the table by adding some extra parts. The original wooden screws/pegs were missing from the get-go, and it took a little bit of time and effort to figure out how to fix them up and attach them.

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Phil, meanwhile, took the legs for me, disassembled them, sanded them, and gave them back. Reassembly was a bit difficult because a lot of the original screws were missing, and they were so old they weren’t much good to me. I went with some shiny new wood screws and the original brackets.

I also want to post more pictures of me with power tools so here you go:

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Once the legs were reassembled, I had to figure out how to attach them to the table. In the end, I used metal bolts and since no one will ever see that part of the table, it gets the job done. Plus, if we ever need to move it out of the dining room (a distinct possibility) it’ll be relatively easy to dismantle it.

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And then it was time for the finishing process. I used Danish oil, linseed oil, and about seven or eight coats of polyurethane, lightly sanding between coats. There is a lot of conflicting information online and I tried to do everything as standard as possible. I think it ended up looking quite beautiful and suitably shiny.

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And there we have it! My first refinishing project!

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I made some mistakes during the process, but on the whole I am really pleased with and proud of how it turned out. I like having a few projects going and I learned lots of useful things from this project that I can carry on to other things. In fact, I already did because I have since restored a really cool corner desk!

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Actually, now that a couple months have passed and we have been using the table for our everyday life, I’d like to put a couple more coats of poly on just to shine it up and make it a bit more durable, but on the whole I am really happy with the whole project.

 

Root Vegetables: Beets, Turnips, Carrots

dirt on my face, family, garden, gardening tips

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Am I the only one that pronounces veg-ed-i-buls in my head every time I write it?

No?

Oh, wait, yes?

Oh, you did say no. Okay.

MOVING RIGHT ALONG

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IMG_3240After the Zucchini Disaster of 2017 I decided to plant BEETS. They grew rapidly, and I hardly had time to take a picture before it was time to yank them out of the ground, let them sit for a while on the porch (because, again, I’m more willing in growing things than actuallyIMG_3268harvesting and eating them), let them sit out there a little longer, listen to my family nag me to go get the beets off of the porch and do something with them Alex, for crying out loud!, and then take them inside, peel them, roast them, cube them, cover them in feta cheese and asqueeze of orange juice (TRY IT! SO GOOD! WHOLE30 MEANS I MISS FETA CHEESE SO MUCH! FETA EMOJI IF THERE IS ONE, AND IF THERE ISN’T ONE THERE SHOULD BE!) eat them and then a few weeks later write a blog post about it and NOW YOU’RE HERE!

(Hmm. I feel like I might have covered everything in that sentence. I hope I can think of more things to add to this post. Oh wait, I never run out of things to say. ONWARD!)

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CARROTS

Brother T brought some heirloom seeds from Baker Creek. In fact, they were these seeds: the Cosmic Purple Carrot. They grew and they grew and they grew…one thing I have grown to appreciate about root veggies is that they are willing to wait for you to be ready for them. Lots of veggies are READY WHEN THEY’RE READY (tomatoes, squash, beans etc.), but the root veggies can hang around a little while until you’re ready to use them. These were a big success and we even boxed up a few and mailed them out to Brother T and Sister KT in Portland so they could experience the sweet purple and yellow carrots for themselves.

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Stole this photo from Sister’s phone.

Turnips, turnips, turnips.

I love turnips, but these didn’t go as well as I hoped.

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I planted the turnip seeds between rows of potatoes, then transplanted them because the potatoes took up way more room than I thought they would, they actually survived the transplant and they THRIVED* but then I didn’t realize it was time to pluck them out of the ground and they got too big and kind of bitter and sort of woody. According to Uncle Gee they would taste better if they grew in colder weather. According to my Mom they would taste better if we bought them at the store, peeled them, boiled them, smothered them in butter and salt and pepper.

According to my dad they would taste better if they didn’t exist.

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That being said, I will never cease to be amazed that I can put a tiny seed in the ground and it will grow into exactly what it is supposed to be, if given enough time and the right circumstances. It is truly a miracle.

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I also thought this would be a good time to display one of the only Zucchinis that survived the Zucchini Disaster of 2017 as well as the ONLY CUCUMBER I GOT BEFORE THE BUGS RUINED MY CHANCES OF CUCUMBER HAPPINESS!!!

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I will have to make a separate post for the potatoes but (spoiler) they were good. I also have a few posts languishing in the drafts folder about tomatoes, peppers, furniture refinishing, art, raspberries, more photos of riding horses, July 4 (I know.), climbing a mountain, climbing a different mountain, kale, flowers, waterfalls, Norman Rockwell, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., the county fair, peaches, and MISCELLANEOUS.

Huh. I’d better get busy.

 

*throve?

 

 

Something About Lettuce

dirt on my face, family, garden, gardening tips, humor

Hello!

I found this post in my drafts folder with a somewhat cryptic note from Past Alex which said, “ALEX TURN THIS INTO A STORY OF THE LETTUCE”

I don’t know what Past Alex wanted! I know that the following pictures were included in the draft:

1. Lettuce Seeds

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2. Torn Packet of Lettuce Seeds

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3. This photo of Claire watching Trevor hurl a tree branch into the field

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4. A selfie of me looking skeptical with Baby Garden making an appearance just over my right shoulder. Unsurprisingly, there appears to be some dirt on my face.

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Perhaps Past Alex is thinking, “I don’t really like lettuce. Will I eat this lettuce?” and I can confidently say no. I still don’t like lettuce and I didn’t really eat enough of it. Which brings us full circle and technically makes this a story about lettuce. There was a plot (a garden plot, get it?), and some conflict (will she eat the lettuce?) and some resolution (this sentence is ending now).

 

 

Horses

family, friends, humor

We rode horses!

I want horses!

Someone get me horses?

(And that nice horsey lifestyle too, k?)

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(Wait. By “horsey lifestyle” I mean the lifestyle of rich people who own horses and board them and know how to post without looking like a sock in a tumble dryer, I do not mean the life of a horse, which seems difficult and largely unrewarding.)

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“Hi. I wish that Alex had taken a photo of me where my nose wasn’t over-exposed. Also, I wish that the lightbulbs above my head didn’t look like GIANT FLY EYES. Also, I wish people wouldn’t climb on my back and ride me around like I’m some kind of carnival attraction. Also, I wish I was a cat.”

Waaaaaaaay back in August, as Trevor prepared to leave and embark on a new life as a Portlandian and married man, Sister, Brother T and I went horseback riding. We have all been on horses before, but we thought it would be nice to get some actual instruction. I don’t have a lot to say about it (I know, right?) but I thought it would be nice to commemorate our riding lesson with a blog post. Also: SUMMER. I miss those days. Where did they go? They were just here. Now it is like…autumn…and I’m not okay with that.

THE PASSAGE OF TIME. SOBBING EMOJI FACE.

(That seems to come up a lot.)

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In the video below, you will see Trevor practically galloping through the paddock. He learned how to jump, and you will see the horse successfully complete the course as Trevor flies over the obstacles. I did not get that far in my lesson. Go Trevor!

Okay, so by now you know that I lied about the video.

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Do I know what I’m doing? No. But do I look like I know what I’m doing? Kinda.

In addition to the useful lessons we learned about riding horses, we also learned some other lessons:

  • This particular rescue dog pictured in the small picture is kinda mean and tried to bite meIMG_2516 2
  • Horses attract a lot of flies
  • There are then a lot of flies around your head
  • If you are a woman in your mid-seventies and you own some horses and you are driving by to drop them off at this particular horse barn and then you stick around to chat with whoever is there, you should have a bra on. That’s all. It’s not that hard. Just put a bra on. Just do it. Put a bra on.
  • It is hard to find a helmet big enough to fit on any of our heads. THANKS GENETICS.
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Look at that stud. (Heh heh.)

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Please help. The giant fly is going to get me. Don’t leave. Wait. Don’t go.

A Moving Sale

family, small town life

A couple months ago, Sister and I stopped at a moving sale and peeked through the belongings of an elderly man who was moving from his long-owned house. There’s something melancholy about seeing a collection of Christmas decorations that took about fifty years to accumulate and now they are up for $10 each.

Something melancholy about seeing a collection of well-used garden tools that the owner can’t use anymore, leaning against the side of the garage, waiting for someone younger to make an offer.

Something melancholy about the vibrant rhododendron, obviously cultivated and loved for many, many years, and he can’t take that with him when he goes. He leaves behind that piece of himself.

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But there’s also something so nice about running into someone who knew your grandmother. In all the moving I’ve done and all the places I’ve lived, there is only one place where that is possible and it is so good for my heart to have those moments where I am reminded of my roots, of where I came from. I don’t know what the future will bring or where I’ll end up, but I am happiest here right now, surrounded by my people and my places and knowing that generations came before me and that gives me a sense of belonging I haven’t experienced anywhere else.

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And that’s enough of being sappy…I will also say we picked up two nice vases for $2.

 

Beekman Arms

family, Uncategorized

According to WordPress, I started writing this post three months ago.

<embarrassed emoji face>

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A poorly-exposed photo where it looks like Trevor is melting into the door.

Sister, Brother T and I went to church one Sunday morning three months ago, and followed it up with a visit to a Colonial-Era Inn which has been running continuously since the year seventeen-hundred-something.

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Coffee and New England Clam Chowder…a strange pairing…

It’s old. It smells like the combined wood fires of three centuries. Hamilton and Burr had a heated argument in the tavern. George Washington stopped here. The troops paraded and drilled in the yard. The ceilings are low, the air smells historic, and the food is good!

 

IMG_0906These two looking at each other. She’s like, “George, can you believe these people? With their selfies and their coffees and their casual attitude towards lace fichus and petticoats?” And he’s like, “I wish Martha were here. She gets me.” IMG_0917

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Casually inspecting some pewter for a Paul Revere mark and then slipping it into my bag and then making my fortune on the black market.

I have a sneaking suspicion that when I started writing this post three months ago, I actually had something to say. Maybe it was, “Thanks Mom for treating us to this brunch!” or maybe it was something insightful about war and pewter and clam chowder. Whatever it was, it is lost to the sands of time and also my memory is bad.

A Secret Project

backyard ballad, family, friends, friendship

At the beginning of the summer, we decided to surprise our Dad and put on a big deck off the back of the house. It was HARD TO KEEP IT A SECRET, but we mostly managed (he kind of guessed…)

My cousin designed it and built it with Brother T, and it is DELIGHTFUL to sit outside on furniture gifted to us by our cousin Ashley. DELIGHTFUL.

I thought I’d just put a few pictures up of the whole shebang to commemorate it.

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Sister, sitting on the old “structure”

I am going to say “we” in this post, and that mostly refers to Trevor and Phil who did 98% of the work on this project. Claire and I did some of the hammering and impact-wrenched a few screws and occasionally stood on a board while they sawed it in half, but really it was Trevor and Phil. And Jackson, who is four, did more than either of us!

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The demolition begins. Also see baby garden in background.

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Old thing gone. Room for new thing.

First, we demolished the old porch. If we can call it a porch. It had been there for 25 years and was more than a little crooked. It seemed so much bigger when we were in our single-digits!

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Next, Trevor and Phil spent many hours digging holes that were four or five feet deep. That was some backbreaking labor (I gather…I mean…I mostly watched them and also brought cold bottles of water out and played with Phil’s adorable children, but it seemed backbreaking) and it took a while to get the holes deep with the manual post-hole-diggers. Then they mixed up bags of cement and poured them in. Those were going to be the supports for the deck and the holes had to be deep to protect from frost-heaves.

 

(“Alex, take a video of me working so I can send it to Katey.”)

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Jackson is the hardest worker I know.

We spent some time getting all these old bricks up off of a small patio. Jackson seriously did more than half of that, lugging the bricks back and forth, squealing at ant colonies and thoughtfully transferring earthworms to their new homes in the garden. I love this kid! He is such a good worker and every time I was like, “Want to go play instead?” he would shake his head and say, “Alex, we gotta keep working.”

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Phil was getting the big posts ready above, while Jackson stood by with his trusty “ear helmets” on.

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Uncle Mike and Trevor spent a few hours moving the garden hose from one side of the house to the other side of the house, and then they started framing it up.

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This is work, not play.

Then Phil and Trev started screwing the decking onto the frame, notching out the posts to go around the railing.

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Below we can see photographic proof that I was involved in sitting on boards while Trevor used power tools.

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Yes, I do stick my fingers in my ears like a toddler when there are loud noises around. Perhaps I should invest in a good pair of ear helmets.

Note the PASSAGE OF TIME in the background as the garden started to grow. Also note that at this point I thought my zucchinis would live and thrive and prosper. ALAS.

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And then…look at this beauty!

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YES COUNTRY LIVING MAGAZINE YOU CAN FEATURE US

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It wraps all the way around from the side door to the back doors and has become our second living room. We still have some finishing touches to complete…like finishing the hand railings on the stairs, but overall I am pretty impressed!

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We also need to stain/treat the wood, but we are already greatly enjoying the deck and are so grateful to Phil and to Trevor for all their hard work!!

(And Jackson, obviously.)

A Local Farm Tour, Some Thoughts on City People & Beautiful Summer

family, personal essay, photography, small town life

Recently, we met some lovely people who live nearby and they offered to take us on a tour of their farm, where they primarily raise chickens, sheep, and pigs. It was a gorgeous day, and I am always up for tramping around outside and taking pictures of things. There were also a lot of City People on the tour, and that brings me to today’s post, which is a lot of opining about the effects of CPs on our small town.

Oh, and a lot of pictures of chickens.

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We live in Columbia County which is a 2.5 hour drive north of New York City. For years, City People have been renting or buying weekend homes up in our bucolic locale so that they can attain rest and relaxation for their weary selves. Their presence is an ongoing joke to locals, who affectionately (or not…) refer to the transplants as “Citiots” and happily share stories about the bewildered Manhattanites.

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It is hard to describe to the uninitiated just how strange City People are. It will sound like I’m being unfair or cruel or hyperbolic. BUT NO, I am not! They are so often…so very…weird. Let’s look at some of the common threads that unite typical CPs.

  • They almost uniformly wear clothes that they think “people in the country” wear. Layers of breezy white linens, floppy sun hats, expensive fleece, chic Sperrys, and sandblasted pre-worn denim. People in the country do not wear those things.
  • Ditto with the cars. What we actually drive (I look out the window at the 2005 Saturn VUE with 170,000 miles on it) is very different from the Hummers and huge shiny Jeeps that appear on Friday afternoons as the Northward Migration begins.
  • They like to say that this area has a lot of “really cool people here now” by which statement they are in fact referring to themselves. They also like to talk about how the locals should move away, and I once heard a lady from the city say that we needed to “clear the swamp” of locals. Ouch.
  • They aren’t very nice. (See above.) Now, that is a blanket statement for sure, but on the whole it holds up. New Yorkers are famously brusque, and that attitude is exacerbated when they are walking up and down Main Street not smiling or saying hello to anyone at all.

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A common theory around these parts as to why they are so uniformly odd is that they have too much money and it makes them go a leeetle bit crazy. I think this is a pretty good theory. For example, there is a lovely old farmhouse down the road and it was restored to original condition. A movie producer from NYC pays many thousands of dollars a month in rent to be able to have a country home, and she comes up here from Manhattan roughly three weekends a year.

 

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We sometimes like to play a game called “CITY or LOCAL?” It is best played on Friday evenings at the local grocery store parking lot. It goes like this:

Me: How about that guy? *points to a well-dressed man in loafers getting into his shiny, expensive new Jeep with a bag of artisanal cheese and a baguette*

Everyone: CITY

Me: How about that guy? *points to two men walking into the store with a small, brand-name dog-suitcase-carrier perched below the shopping cart, from which interior a small dog peers out helplessly into the world*

Everyone: CITY

Me: How about that guy? *points to a guy standing next to a beat-up old minivan and getting changed in the parking lot*

Everyone: THAT’S JOE!

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Okay…they’re not all weird, but it is fun to point out the spectacularly weird ones when we see them traipsing down Main Street wrapped in linen and fleece with their little tourist maps pointing out the architectural details of what we know used to be a run-down store but is now a gourmet cheese store run by a lady from Brooklyn.

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Main Street used to be full of businesses owned by locals, and catering to locals. Now, there is a Yoga studio, the aforementioned artisanal cheese shop, four art galleries, a bespoke linen goods store, a craft-beer brewery and a couple antique stores. Instead of the locally-owned one-screen movie theater with its syrupy soda and three-month-old blockbusters, the theater is now city-owned and renovated and primarily shows extremely artistic Indie films.

None of those things are bad in and of themselves, but there is no getting away from the fact that they all cater to weekenders and the town has changed so much that it would be unrecognizable to my grandparents.

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One good thing the CP’s have brought with them is the money which has gone toward revitalizing certain areas. Rural America is struggling right now, but up here we have had this influx of wealthy Manhattanites who buy some acreage and try their hand at small-time farming; who bring delicious new foods or locally-roasted coffee; who invest in local businesses to make sure they stay open.

The farm we visited is one such place; financed by some out-of-towners and run by some very kind people who open the farm up to tourists on the weekends. We tagged along. It was an extremely beautiful day and the animals were on their best, photogenic behavior.

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There were City People, of course. And they were suitably garbed in many layers of fleece and linen and prepared to be wowed by the agricultural happenings of a small farm.

  • “Oh look! The cow is peeing!”
  • “Do you have thistle growing here?”
  • “Is that a road or a lake over there?”
  • “What do you do with the chickens when they get bigger? WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU KILL THEM? MOM I AM GOING TO BE A VEGETARIAN.”
  • “Ooooh look, the cows are just bunched together!” <–grown man in his fifties.
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Sister reacts to the cows being “bunched together”

I had a conversation that went like this:

City Lady: “So where are you guys visiting from?”

Me: “We live here.”

CL: “Where? HERE? What do you mean?”

Me: “I mean we are from here. We live here. My family has lived here for about 200 years.”

CL: “Wow. So you’re a local?”

Me: “Yes. And you’re a City Person. And never the two shall meet.”

CL: *brushing back her linen dress which was billowing in the breeze* “What? Really? But if you come up here a lot and then you buy a home, then you become a local right?”

Me: “No.”

 

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Please note the layers of clothing in the background.

It’s complicated though, because on a deeper level, their presence in our county has provided a lot of industry and work for all kinds of local businesses. Plus, they have brought certain establishments of art and culture with them that add a lot to our little town. Not to mention…there are a lot more restaurants, cafes, and good coffee available now that there is a bigger and broader audience for those places.

Still. It is hard to see the size of the incoming school class shrink more and more every year. As property values skyrocket, the local population is pushed out into neighboring counties and areas because they simply can’t afford to live here anymore. As a result, the incoming class at my old high school this year is somewhere around 60 kids, while my graduating class hovered just above 100. So, it is fun to laugh and make jokes with other locals, but it’s also true that the fabric of our small town is in the process of completely changing.

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It’s also hard to escape the feeling that the influx of moneyed New Yorkers would very much like the locals to clear out so they can have this place to themselves. Except, obviously, the ones that buy them groceries, stock their pantries, and clean up when they go back to the city.

And, you know, it’s a strange state of affairs for me because I have spent so much time living elsewhere that when I come back it’s kind of nice to see new and more sophisticated offerings until the owners aren’t very friendly and you realize the repercussions on all the people you grew up with.

The place has changed, there’s no getting away from it. One thing that hasn’t changed? To me, it is the most beautiful place in the world, and it is Home.

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Who wouldn’t want to live here, right?

Swimming Hole!

family, friends, friendship, personal essay, small town life

I bring you a quick trip to a local swimming hole.

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Brother T and his then-fiancé–but NOW HIS WIFE– (we need a name…Sister K? Katey? KT? WEIGH IN, PEOPLE!)–Sister and I drove to the town hall, walked down a tunnel of illuminated greenness, climbed down a slope and ended up at a perfect swimming hole under the old railroad trestle.

IMG_2165 2 IMG_2175 2Despite my best efforts to convince people that if we just believe hard enough summer doesn’t have to end, I will here and now admit that some of the leaves are starting to shift from green to yellow, orange, and red. They are so magnificent here in this part of the world. I’m planning to take the camera out and document the changes, and maybe try my hand at painting some of those colors. There is something about the red-orange leaves against the bluest autumn sky that makes any painting seem insignificant.

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Anyway, summer is shifting to fall, whether I like it or not. And, actually, if summer would shift to the loveliest of autumn days, and then slowly fade to a holiday- and cheer-filled winter and then QUICKLY MOVE INTO SPRING AFTER ABOUT SEVEN DAYS OF PICTURESQUE SNOWFALL, I would be okay with all of that. It’s the knowledge that winter is long and cold and often dark and often dreary that makes me want to hold on to these long summer days as hard as I can. It’s not easy for me to just sit back and enjoy the change and enjoy the transition. THE PASSAGE OF TIME IS JUST NOT EASY FOR ME, PEOPLE!

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Well, that’s why I’m posting photos from this past summer, since I’ve been lax at updating on time. That’s okay though…it was better to just enjoy the moments and take pictures for later!

 

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What Devastation Hath Been Wrought

dirt on my face, family, garden, humor, photography, Uncategorized

OH HELLO THERE

Anyone ever heard of an eggplant flea beetle? A squash bug? A tomato hornworm? Or how about powdery mildew or infectious plant diseases?

Reader, I had not.

A warning: grisly plant death and mutilation images ahead.

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A picture of Sister in front of our booming tomato plants and next to the towering sunflowers. This picture is not representative of this blog post, I am just lulling you into a false sense of security.

The garden is producing lots of wonderful things: colorful zinnias, tissue-paper-thin cosmos, meaty and delicious tomatoes, endless kale…but not all is well in Alex’s Garden.

I’d like to say I purposefully went organic…and it’s true that I am resistant to the idea of spraying everything in my garden with harmful pesticides (have you noticed that those words always go together? It’s a collocation!) and I have also been resistant to using things like Miracle-Gro. I’ve mostly fertilized with fish emulsion and worm castings and have occasionally branched out into diatomaceous earth and some bug spray.

But, like I said, while I would like to say that was an intentional move, it was partly intentional and partly just lazy. I kind of figured everything would be mostly ok! And you know…so far things have been mostly ok! But there are a few things that haven’t worked out and this post is all about them!

FIRST UP: SQUASH

“You can’t kill a squash plant.” –Everyone

My squash plants looked AMAZING. They were big and leafy and taking over half of the garden; there were vibrant yellow squash blossoms and miniature little zucchinis.

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Deceptive! It looks like the bush beans and zucchini are thriving here, but UNSEEN plagues infect and squash bugs plot angrily.

But then, one day, I noticed there were horrific little alien creatures all over my plants. They mated! They laid eggs! They mated again! To be honest, there was a lot of mating and a lot of egg-laying going on.

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Motel Squash Bug visible on left.

I looked them up in my garden books and identified them as SQUASH BUGS. The advice of the book was to spray with an organic insecticide (I did that), to handpick them and drown them in soapy water (EW I DID THAT TOO UGH), to remove the parts of the leaves with eggs on them (UGHHHHHHH YES I DID IT READER, I DID IT!).

But it was to no avail. The squash bugs–carrying disease and a strong proclivity for reproduction–killed my plants.

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Death lurks.

NEXT UP: EGGPLANT (or aubergine for the elegant and European among us)

The eggplant plants were attacked early on by the eggplant flea bug. It is a very, very tiny black insect that almost looks like a speck of dirt. They crawl all over and chew the leaves. I don’t know if I had almost no fruit because of those little guys or because the blossoms weren’t pollinated or maybe some kind of disease got to them.

One way or another, the leaves looked like this:

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And the plants looked like this:

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Notably fewer eggplants than expected.

AND THEN: BUSH BEANS

Honestly, I don’t even know what happened with the bush beans. They grew some bean pods and then…they never grew. They never got bigger or smaller or more alive or more dead; they just froze.

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The equivalent to this picture is like if you had a teenage daughter and when you took your wallet out and proudly showed pictures of her to your friends, they were like, “But she looks like a newborn baby.” And then you would be kind of defensive but also embarrassed and then resentful of your own embarrassment because she’s your daughter whether she grew past baby clothing sizes or not. 

AND THEN: CUCUMBERS!

Yes! My cucumbers have perished.

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A sad, sad sight.

There were cucumber beetles buzzing around for weeks, with their little yellow and black, dotted and striped jackets. They are a good-looking insect, and you can tell that it has gone to their heads. I hope none of them are reading this right now because the last thing they need is for their ego to be more inflated than it already is and to go swarm someone else’s sweet, tender cucumber vines.

They aren’t that harmful in and of themselves, but they carry disease, and probably they carried powdery mildew right into my blossoms and the cucumbers ended up looking like sick yellow globes. No me gusta.

FINALLY: THE TOMATOES

I’ve saved the most horrifying for last. Meet the tomato hornworm.

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HELP ME

What does this even become? GODZILLA?* 

You know what is worse than the tomato hornworm? A tomato hornworm that has been inhabited by a predator wasp which has laid eggs inside its body and then those eggs burrow out through the segments while feeding on the still-living hornworm until such time as they hatch.

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You’re like, “Alex, why are you subjecting me to these pictures?” And then I’m like, “JUST LOOK AT THEM. LOOK. LOOK. LOOK AT THEM RIGHT NOW. LOOK. please look.” And then I start sobbing.

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LOATHSOME CREATURE BE GONE FROM MY PRESENCE

This is what it’s like to find one of these bad boys…you’re like, wandering through your fairy-like enchanted wonderland of a vegetable garden, flitting here, flitting there–when–LO–your head is suddenly mere inches from a FOUR INCH LONG FAT CATERPILLAR WITH WASP EGGS DANGLING FROM ITS BODY.

!!!

!!!

This is what my garden book helpfully pointed out. It is noticeably less horrifying in illustrated form than it is in person.

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See how it says “don’t destroy cocoon-covered hormworms”?

HAHAHAHAHA. GOOD JOKE GARDEN BOOK.**

And that is a catalog of the garden disasters, such as they were. The rest of the garden is going GREAT and I need to get my act together and post some pictures of the beautiful peppers and tomatoes and carrots and beets and kale SO MUCH KALE!

Until next time!

 

*UPDATE: I JUST LOOKED IT UP AND IT TURNS INTO SOMETHING CALLED A HAWK MOTH. DO NOT CLICK ON THIS IF YOU ARE AFRAID OF MOTHS. 

**I destroyed them.