The owners in my condo complex take turns setting out the trash and recycle bins. When it’s my turn my compulsive habits get in the way. The instructions are explicit, No plastic bags! But there are always plastic bags mixed in with the papers and bottles! I can’t put the stuff at the curb without sorting out the bags and putting them in the trash. On the weeks when it isn’t my turn, I try not to look.
We first started recycling in Andover 45 years ago. Bottles were separated by color, green, brown, and clear. Cans had to have both ends removed and be flattened. Papers couldn’t contain any cardboard and, in the beginning, no glossy pages. Once collected, we had to load the bins into the station wagon and head to the town Dump along with our trash. Cast off household items also went, threadbare rugs, broken chairs, toasters that no longer worked, all went to the landfill.
Saturday mornings were eagerly awaited. One or more of our four sons would go on the dump run and the station wagon invariably returned bearing treasures cast off by some other family. The boys then happily spent the afternoon recycling their treasures. They might build a go-cart, add a lava lamp to their room decor, or disembowel a non-functioning radio, depending on what had been salvaged. Weeks or months later, these would go back to the dump to be replaced with other equally interesting bits and pieces.
Laura’s recycling habits today are worthy of a gold star. Bottles and cans go into a bin. A composting bucket holds any scrap of food that isn’t consumed and even the most minuscule piece of paper goes into a paper bag to be recycled. Not content to manage her own recycling, she keeps a close eye on the rest of the family and lets us know when we aren’t being diligent enough.
At the orchard we are doing our bit to Go Green by recycling, composting, growing “no spray” veggies, turning used oil into biodiesel to run the tractors, generating hot water via solar panels, and burning wood from old trees to heat the greenhouse.

DSCN2788Last night Miranda’s fans were treated to an evening of music. Along with her band and some guest performers, she kept the room rocking with an eclectic selection of songs. Each time I hear her sing I think back to 1990 when our daughter Laura, who was managing the orchard, often talked about one of her teen-aged employees, Miranda Henry. Laura called her “the little sister I never had”. We never guessed that she would one day be a much loved member of the Russell Family.
Listening to the music and watching our dear grandchildren proudly cheering for their mom in a room crowded with family and friends gave me such a feeling of happiness.

Strawberries are a sweet memory for this year but eating sun-warmed raspberries and blueberries directly from the bush is keeping us happy. With such an abundance, it’s time to make our favorite berry recipes and try out new ones.
Our friend Leatha in Michigan made this for us a number of years ago with berries freshly picked from her garden. She says that it’s an old recipe found in many cookbooks but for us, it will always be:
Leatha’s Blueberry Glaze Pie
4 cups blueberries
1/2 to 3/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
3/4 cup water
1 baked 8 inch pie shell
Whipped cream (optional)

1.Combine sugar and cornstarch, add water and 1 cup crushed blueberries. Cook over medium heat stirring constantly until thick and clear.
2. Remove from heat and cool until barely warm.
3. Place 1-1/2 cups of berries into pie shell and pour half the cooled mixture over them. Add remaining berries and filling. Shake to settle filling.
4. Chill at least four hours. Serve with whipped cream.

Surgery

Comments off

It’s been a very long time since I’ve had someone “taking care” of me. That is exactly what happened this week and I must say, it isn’t bad. I finally admitted that the arthritis pain at the base of my thumb wasn’t going to go away on its own and had surgery last Thursday. For the next month my right hand will be in a cast.
Max has been staying with me while he builds the guest house that will be his retirement home. He’s turning out to be an amazing caregiver. Cooking, shopping, laundry, vacuuming, he does it all cheerfully (and well). I might get really used to this!
I think dinner should be about 7:30, he thinks 5:00 is the right time. Now that he’s cooking dinner is very early but you can be sure, I’m not complaining.

Sunshine streaming through the skylight wakened me this morning. Oh happy day! It seems like it has been raining for months. It is a good day to start this blog.

It is the Fourth of July, the summer holiday that marks the beginning of the New England vacation season. The kids are out of school and the weather (usually) is hot making our lakes and coast a destination.

As a kid my family didn’t take vacations. My father got one week off from work and spent it at home resting but the Fourth of July was a big occasion. Mama would pack a big basket with potato salad, homemade bread, cole slaw, a berry pie, chocolate chip cookies and, best of all, fried chicken. Our fried chicken wasn’t coated with anything, this was long before KFC.

The day before the Fourth Mama would go to a local farm for a fresh chicken. The farmer picked one from many scratching in the chicken yard, a hefty hen that wasn’t laying eggs any more. Early the morning of the holiday, the chicken was simmered in a big pot of water until it was tender, then fried in butter until it was brown and gooey and chewy. I loved it.

The picnic stowed, we drove to a small lake not too far from home where we met aunts and uncles and cousins. They always arrived early enough to claim the choice picnic tables. We children swam and played on the tiny sandy beach. The men played horseshoes and catch while the women talked and relaxed. After eating we had to stay out of the water for an interminable hour.

At last dusk settled, we donned sweaters and snuggled on blankets ready for the highlight of the day, the fireworks. They were much too short and finally we packed the car and headed home, sandy, sleepy, but happy.

Socks

Comments off

I’ve just rummaged through my socks drawer to find something suitable for a warm Spring day. There are a couple pair of fleece socks that are hard to get on, thick fluffy orlon socks that will only fit with hiking boots or sneakers, thin short socks that I can’t remember how I came to buy, several pair of knee socks that, when worn under slacks always create static electricity so that whenever I walk, the slacks cling to my legs, and some low socks that cover just my feet.

Stuffed into the back of the drawer is a package with a ten pair of nylon panty hose, left from a dozen that I bought just before I retired nine years ago. The drawer is so full that I can barely open it but I still can’t find anything to wear.

These thoughts of socks reminded me of the years when our boys were growing up. The Sox Box, a cardboard carton sat on the dryer where all the socks got dumped as they came out of the dryer. I began by trying to match up pairs for their bureau drawers but by the time there were routinely two or three dozen unmatched socks, I gave it up.

In an attempt at organization I started buying each boy a different color but otherwise they were all the same. Black for Matt, navy for Doug, brown for Jason, and green for Aaron. It was their morning ritual to paw through the box looking for a pair.

Laura, our only daughter’s socks were more interesting and colorful. By middle school she had solved the missing sock dilemma by never wearing matching socks, even if she found them. Her friends soon followed suit. I thought of her last week when seven year old Cecelia arrived wearing mismatched socks. Another trend setter perhaps.

Mumbai

Comments off

I love to travel and I love to eat. I have memories of great food experiences around the world. India was one of my first ventures abroad. Through Servas, an international friendship organization, I was invited to spend a couple of days with a middle-class family in Mumbai.

They had servants who did dishes and cleaned the apartment but the mother and two adult daughters did the cooking. Mid-morning they brought bowls of vegetables, sharp knives and cutting boards into the living area. Sitting cross-legged on a sofa they spent the next hour chatting and chopping vegetables.

Mid-afternoon they followed the same routine. The meals were vegetarian and spicy, accompanied by hand formed chapatis, the whole wheat Indian flat bread that we used to move the daal (lentil soup) and vegetables from bowl to mouth.

Prior to my visit I had read carefully the importance of respecting Indian culture and knew that it was proper to keep the left hand under the table. The left hand is reserved for hygiene purposes, the right hand is used for eating. Curling the bread into a scoop, getting some soup to stay long enough to get it in my mouth was hard but even harder was getting the soft bread to scoop the vegetables and rice without it falling apart. They finally took pity on me and suggested that I use both hands.