Monday, October 12, 2009

My Dad...

My parents got off the plane from Rome on Wednesday, and went directly to Massachusetts General Hospital. The back pain Dad has been experiencing all summer got even worse during the trip, and he'd been in agony during the flight home.

My sister Susan and brother Paul met them at the hospital, and I drove to their house to get their sedan, then got to Boston around 7:00. Paul left at 9:00 p.m., thinking that everything was okay, and I'd be bringing them home to the Cape, but we were in the Emergency Room all night, as test by test, everything came back normal. Then, in the second pass of reading the CT scan, the radiologist discovered that a tumor from Dad's old thyroid cancer was pressing against a nerve. Thank God for the excellent hospital care at Mass General; Dad will have surgery this coming week, and we're praying it all turns out all right. Please pray for him.



Monday, October 5, 2009

I'm so grapeful...a wild grapevine wreath tutorial.

I'm so grapeful, err, grateful to the generosity of my fellow bloggers; I've learned so much from everyone who shares know-how, information, inspiration, or just plain fun. More than anything, I'd like to contribute to the great e-pool of knowledge, so here's my very first tutorial, showing how I made a grapevine wreath from wild vines -- and how you can, too. I hope you like it; please comment, and let me know what you think.

Before we begin, let me just say that this is a natural grapevine wreath. I don't even try to make a perfectly uniform circle -- after all, you can get something like that quite inexpensively at A.C. Moore, Jo Ann's or even Walmart. This is a rustic look that reflects the fact that the vines came from here:

Those are thorns, my dears. Big, bad dangerous thorns. Nasty, huh?

Oh, yes, it might be easy in some cultivated vineyard where you can gracefully cut out a few old strands, but here on Cape Cod, I'm battling poison ivy, wild raspberry vines (they're like something from Aliens) and the famous Lyme disease-carrying deer ticks. I suit up in long sleeves and heavy duty gloves. My gloves are a sort of rubberized pink, and the ones I use came from the Cape Cod Master Gardeners Spring Sale. They were $5.00, and they only had child size left. Fortunately, I have little need tough gloves in the outer regions of my yard.

I'm sure that Maddie will tell you that it helps to have a kitty taking a nap while you gather your vines, as he's doing while I wade into the thicket behind my little house. With Maddie's loyal support, I pull long strands of vines down from the trees, and here and there clip at the bases to release them. After a half hour of pruning and pulling, a big pile of vines is ready. Thanks, Maddie. Couldn't have done it without you...

And, by the way, late summer to early fall is the best time for pulling/cutting the vines, before they've become dry and brittle. So here we go...

Pull out the longest, thickest strand of vine, and strip off any big leaves still on it. Hold the thick end in one hand, and loop the vine to form a circle, hooking the other hand over and under to pass the ends under each other and fasten.

Take another vine, and tuck it into the scrimpiest part of the circle -- probably the side opposite the thickest part where you started. Secure it under the first vine, hooking any twigs under the vines in place, and continue to form the circle, bringing the vine from front to back and weaving it through twigs and strands where you see the opportunity. (See my pink glove?)

Continue, always starting your wrap with the thicker end of the vine, then securing it with the smaller, more pliable ends. I've heard that you can reverse the direction of winding, going clockwise for one strand, then counter clockwise for the next, but I've never bothered, and it always seems to come out all right. You'll feel like you're wrestling a long snake through a hula hoop, but, trust me, it can be done (well, maybe not the snake, but the vines!).

Use any pliable green ends to pull the ring tight when you can, but again, don't worry about making a perfect shape. You'll find that the twining branches of the vines almost tell you the form the wreath is going to take, whether very circular, or more oblong, or even sometimes nice and tight.

If you have a big, ungainly vine, you may not be able to tuck in every branching twig. Who cares? That's what makes it look unique!

And, there you go, a wild grapevine wreath with real character!

The wreath will shrink a bit, so place it in a sunny place for a couple of weeks before you add other material to it or hang it.

Since this is was my first tutorial, I'd love your comments -- and I'd really, really love it if you send me pics of your own wreath!

With love from Cape Cod.


Funky Junk's Saturday Nite Special

Saturday, October 3, 2009

The last two tomatoes...

...and a love song

Ah, me. This is so bittersweet.

My car is in the shop with one of those problems where the mechanic has to drive the car for a few days to discover what's wrong. My parents are in Italy with Dad's twin sisters for the next few weeks, so Dad very graciously agreed to let me use his truck.

A few days ago, I drove from work in Orleans, stopped in Cotuit to let out the cats, and drove on to Falmouth to get the truck. I opened the door of the cab, and there on the front seat was a white paper bag with the notation "last 2 tomatoes." Can you ask for a more wonderful present at the end of a long day and a long drive home?

Today, I am very reverently eating a panino with "the last two tomatoes."

Do you know the Guy Clark tomato song?
Here's his "love song" to tamaters:

Ain't nothin' in the world that I like better
Than bacon & lettuce & homegrown tomatoes
Up in the mornin' out in the garden

Get you a ripe one don't get a hard one
Plant `em in the spring eat `em in the summer
All winter with out `em's a culinary bummer
I forget all about the sweatin' & diggin'
Everytime I go out & pick me a big one

Homegrown tomatoes homegrown tomatoes
What'd life be without homegrown tomatoes
Only two things that money can't buy
That's true love & homegrown tomatoes

You can go out to eat & that's for sure
But it's nothin' a homegrown tomato won't cure
Put `em in a salad, put `em in a stew
You can make your very own tomato juice
Eat `em with eggs, eat `em with gravy
Eat `em with beans, pinto or navy
Put `em on the side put `em in the middle
Put a homegrown tomato on a hotcake griddle

If I's to change this life I lead
I'd be Johnny Tomato Seed
`Cause I know what this country needs
Homegrown tomatoes in every yard you see
When I die don't bury me
In a box in a cemetery
Out in the garden would be much better
I could be pushin' up homegrown tomatoes

Great, don't you think? If you believe in true love and home grown tomatoes, too, join me, and sing along with Mr. Clark's tender ballad here.

This has "bow"ed me over!

I'm keeping my autumnal theme for a curtsey -- or maybe a (hee!) bow -- to the the howlingly original Jessica Jones at How About Orange.

Jessica has shared a great idea for making a gift bow -- wait for it -- out of a page from a magazine. I'd bet it would also look fabulous made with coordinating wrapping paper, scrap book paper, or even with found objects like strips of plastic. And (heavily starched) fabric, of course; I never have a shortage of that, as we all know.

So, what do you think? Isn't it fun and pretty darn adorable? And it's green, even though, err, it's orange.

Anyway, visit How About Orange, and read Jessica's excellent and easy tutorial on how to make your own gift bow out of magazines. Now, as for me, I'm going to go find a copy of the last Cape Cod View, and make myself a bow...