Saturday, May 26, 2012

Barn Restaurant

Shake a speare, the ground moves. Some people think we live in the boonies of rural Virginia, not knowing that music plays every corner, with living actors, dancers, authors, poets and artists galore. Drive an hour north and you’ll find a timberframe barn in the midst of historic Staunton where words written in the early seventeenth century echo fifty-two weeks of the year. I vote for Olympiads of art, literature and drama. Let the winners rule the world. Forget wasting it with firepower or raping it with derivatives no one understands.

Attend to top-notch actors in the American Shakespeare Center in Staunton, then dream…of barns of beauty, where folks gather to share the bounty of the land on which they stand. Of evenings of entertainment, simple sophisticated songs by familiar friends. Forsake flawless digital diction for parlor piano, raunchy rambunctious joy.

This morning, Karen introduced the idea of inviting guests to tour the farm and select their dinners. May I suggest…a bursting broccoli head, lean New Zealand rabbit, curly spinach, English peas (go ahead, shell them), a young barred-rock rooster, new potatoes, deep red tomatoes, sweet Silver Queen corn (Serendipity or Kandy Korn if you prefer). For a starter, here’s a spinner, fill it with richly colored lettuces if you please.

No, you won’t have to prepare them. While you wait in the air-conditioned barn, visit a string quartet or listen to a fiddle, banjo, guitar, sitar, balalaika, some other instruments you find hard to name, maybe a singer who sounds strange but familiar. Browse displays for homemade cheeses, produce, and local goodies of the crafty or artsy sort. Or stroll along the creek and river, paddle upstream in a kayak or innertube. Look under rocks for hellgrammites, pet a goat or two. Hop on a donkey, take a spin in a donkey cart.

Then back to the barn for suppertime.

“It sounds idyllic,” says Virginia.

And a lot of work.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Tomato Trellis

A few months ago, a large branch broke off one of our ancient oak trees, landing on our compost heap, my first gardening project after we bought the farm. Today I finally began turning it into firewood...and a tomato trellis. The trellis project got me started and I'm glad it did. It's easy to forget work waiting behind our hundred year old boxwoods, since I abandoned that heap for another.

"It's going to blow over in the first strong wind," says Virginia.

What would I do without her? Back to the drawing board.
Maybe braces in the middle and giant pegs in the ground for each leg will make a difference.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Goodbye, Rosie

Rosie -- April 16, 2001 - May 11, 2012.

Rosie's family said goodbye to her today, after she chose to rest quietly for two days before slipping away to Boxer-heaven or wherever white Boxers go. Rosie was born a North Carolinian, but had no trouble adapting to Virginia when she moved here for the rest of her career. She attended Anderson Avenue Preschool, Arrowhead Lodge Elementary School, Burks Cabin Cottage High School, and completed her undergraduate and graduate studies at Elk Cliff Farm U, where she majored in field management and bird peace studies (with a specialty in ducks).

Rosie is survived by her litter brother Lex; adopted sister Keri; quasi-parents James and Karen; quasi-brother Adam; housemate Yogi; equine africanus asinus Chy, Wilson, Jaz, Willo, and Earle; sus/suidae Roxie; capra aegagrus hircus Cooper, Jimmy, Pessa, Luti, Flower, Poppy, Darla, Tila, Buffalo, Legget, Franklin, Stewey, Felix, Banks, Remy, and Otto; about forty gallus gallus domesticus; nineteen meleagris; and uncountable flora.

"You forgot someone," she says through her tears.

Ah yes, and Virginia.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Pomp and Circumstance

On March 5, 2011, I commented on the weekly reports we had to provide when I worked at Citicorp. The baton has passed. Our son recently mentioned that during his internship this summer, the last requirement for his Bachelor of Science degree, he must provide a weekly report to his supervising professor at Radford University.

We didn't mind standing in the rain for hours last Saturday while he sweltered in a black gown. As 2000 graduates processed, I contemplated that we have two choices: (1) play Pomp and Circumstance over and over again, double bar to double bar; or (2) work at it each time trying to get better and better.

Gardening is like that, everything is like that. Some people do the same thing the same way over and over again, and insist theirs is the only way. Some of them feel threatened when someone else does it differently and succeeds. Let's not.

Back to Pomp and Circumstance. We know this tiny segment of Sir Edward Elgar's larger piece entitled Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1 (for a performance, visit -- no, you haven't gone to the wrong URL, keep listening!). On Saturday, I thought I heard someone singing.

Virginia says, as if she doesn't know, "Are there words?"


     Land of Hope and Glory, Mother of the Free,
     How shall we extol thee, who are born of thee?
     Wider still and wider shall thy bounds be set;
     God, who made thee mighty, make thee mightier yet,
     God, who made thee mighty, make thee mightier yet.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Today's Harvest

"What's this?" asks Virginia.

"Today's harvest."

"Mushrooms?" she says.

Yep, the brown things that is, Shitake mushrooms, we think, grown on a log inoculated by friends. If you can't trust your friends, who can you trust? Check back tomorrow.