Thursday, July 29, 2010

Random Stuff from the last few days in VA

So Tuesday early morning (like 4:00ish) Dave gets up to go to work, gets little over halfway down our "street" (since no one else lives on our street is more like our 1/4 mile driveway: two ruts in the middle of the woods) and stops when he meets a tree down across the road. We had no chain saw, so he came back to the house, took the bow saw back, and for an hour in the dark cut off about 10 feet so he could get around the larger section. He came back home that day with a chain saw and cut up the tree, we brought it home for firewood. However......... as he's cutting up the trunk I marvel at the color of this wood. First of all, the tree was still in good shape when it fell (we only had rain that night, no lightning, no high winds), it was sheered off about 2-3 feet from the ground, didn't come up by its roots like the dead ones, there was no sign of termites like the tree we have in our "back 40", there were other dead trees in the vicinity still standing. We have NO clue why this particular oak tree fell at this time......... anyway, back to the wood........ I was actually caressing the wood it is so pretty, a shade of pink. Imagine that, my favorite color! We trucked the logs home, but now I don't want to cure them for firewood. I want something made from this pink oak! Something will come to me, I'm sure, for now I just marvel at the wood:
One of the things I want eventually (sooner rather than later) is a butterfly garden somewhere here on the property. I love butterflies and taking photos of them. I am in the process of beginning a compost pile and have been saving "stuff", however the hole I dug was too small for all of my scraps so I left the tin with the watermelon rind chunks on the railing so the fruit flies are outside rather than inside. Well........... these blue & black swallowtails LOVE the watermelon. At times there were up to four feeding on the juice! They would flitter off when we'd go on the deck, fly around, and then light back on the watermelon, I guess it was too yummy to resist! This seems to be a weird version of a "butterfly garden"! Sometimes we would just sit and wonder at the gorgeous velvet wings and other times I would stand in wait with my camera to get some good shots like this one from yesterday. Yes, the rind is moldy and covered with fruit flies, but it didn't seem to matter to these two who were sharing the watermelon:
I spent most of yesterday with Cheri shopping after a lunch feast at her house. So, today is "domestic" day here at the house. I used the cucumbers and tomato that she gave me from her garden and made a salad which is in the fridge for tonight's dinner. Then I moved on to making some more bread. I use my grandmother's recipe for white bread which is very easy! No bread machine, just my hands..........and this FABULOUS custom-made bread board which Cheri's husband Dennis made for me. It is absolutely the most gorgeous kitchen item I have ever owned. Dennis is a master! He made it heavy enough so it wouldn't slide across the counter while I knead the dough and even made sure to use FDA approved finish on it. I would never have thought of that! So here is the "virgin" board before I used it for the first time this morning:
I stopped making just 2 loaves and doubled the recipe (which uses exactly 5 lbs. of flour) since I usually give away half of what I make to friends (like Cheri and Dennis!). I haven't ventured into any other bread (other than vegetable and fruit bread), but in time I will. The loaves come out huge and I'm having an issue with the two loaves on the bottom rack rising into the top rack! So today I will try to stagger the baking times, we'll see how that works out. On a side note, I guess the customers at Walmart aren't supposed to be good at math: I looked at the 25 lb. bag of flour trying to figure out how I would get it home in the truck in the rain yesterday so I settled on the 5 lb. bags which would fit in bags in the tool box. I did the math: $1.28 (ish) for 5 lbs. and $7 and change (.88?) for the 25 lb. bag. hmmm..... let's just round it in my head 5x1.25 is around $6. Why on earth would you buy the bigger bag that costs more and have to store the extra flour you're not going to use right away? If you need to use 25 lbs. of flour right away you probably are selling what you make and shouldn't be shopping a retail grocery store in the first place. Go figure! Whew! I knew my Masters' degree would come in handy some day.
So, here is the dough ready to be kneaded on my new bread board. Right now it is rising in the same bowl (which was a present almost 30 years ago from my Aunt Jani who said to make bread in it, which I am!) and will be ready later today. Wish you could smell it!
Last random thought: I love to take mushroom and fungi photos, there are SO many different varieties just on our property alone. I usually trek out in the dewy grass with my camera the day after a rain because you never know what has popped up overnight. Like this:

What the heck is this "fuzzy dandelion gone to seed looking stuff" on this mushroom? Very odd and interesting. Of course, not as interesting as the Indian Pipe that was growing on the neighboring property last summer. Cheri tells me that it is RARE (her use of caps!) and we must preserve it, if only I can find the spot where I photographed it last year. Sounds like a challenge to me...............................
If you have read to the end of this post, congratulations! And thanks for listening!

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