Turkey Tracks: Fifty-year Friendships

Turkey Tracks:  August 27, 2013

Fifty-year Friendships

For an Air Force Brat whose family moved around a lot, old friendships go back to either my mother’s home town, Reynolds, Georgia, or to high school.

I went to about 14 different schools over the course of my education.  So I can’t remember who my teachers were or, in a lot of cases, who my friends were.  Something about that kind of transient life just whisked away memories other people hold very dear.

The closest I can come to these old memories is high school.  We were stationed in Omaha, Nebraska, home of Strategic Air Command (SAC) headquarters.  I think this posting was the longest we ever had–and I still went to three different schools.  I arrived at Bellevue High School in Bellevue, Nebraska, which was adjacent to Offutt Air Force Base, in my sophomore year.  (I went to Central HIgh School in Omaha my freshman year, and made a long bus ride to get there.  I didn’t know a single soul and could not break into cliques of students who had known each other from pre-school.

But a lot of Air Force Brats attended Bellevue High School–and I knew Becky Reavis (now Meyer) from Barksdale Air Force Base in Shreveport, Louisiana.  After Barksdale, we went to Tampa, Florida.  I don’t know where Becky went, if anywhere, before Bellevue.  But she was there, and she took me under her wing immediately.  She is a year older, class of 1962.

I had many friends in the class of 1962.  Among them is Carroll Risk Rhodes, who called me out of the blue the other day.  And guess what?  She’s a passionate quilter too and still makes a lot of her clothes.

Here are some pictures of her beautiful quilts:

Like me, she loves using squares.  This one is all batiks.  Isn’t it lovely?  It reminds me a bit of the “La La Log Cabin” quilt that Rhea from Alewives Quilting here in Damariscotta Mills taught local quilters to do.  There’s one of mine on this blog elsewhere called “Sun, Sea, Sand.”

Carroll Risk quilt

Here’s a stunning, contemporary “rail fence” idea.  I love Carroll’s use of color here.  Isn’t the border fabric wonderful?  I wonder if she chose the block colors using the border fabric or chose the border using the block fabrics?  This idea would be a fun way to use stash fabrics, too.

Carroll Risk quilt 7

Here’s another contemporary quilt, and again, I love the way Carroll uses  color.  This one hangs in her sewing room.

Carroll Risk quilt 6

And, finally, how fun is this quilt which Carroll has back of a grey couch.  Love the contemporary way she has used the bar form, and the piano key border with random widths is terrific.

Carroll Risk quilt 5

I’m trying to talk Carroll into coming to Maine to visit and quilt with me.  But she lives in Florida with a water view, so I know it’s going to be tough!

It would be so fun for our Coastal Quilters group to meet her and see her quilts.

Thanks for calling me, Carroll!

And, my own 1963 Bellevue High School class is having its 50th reunion this September in Omaha.  I have reconnected with so many of my classmates recently, and that has been wonderful, too.




Interesting Information: “Furloughed Federal Employees”

Interesting Information:  August 27, 2013

Furloughed Federal Employees

John and I lived in Falls Church, Virginia, for almost 40 years.

Former neighbor and dear friend Gina Caceci has a recent letter published in The Washington Post‘s letters to the editor–July 30, 2013, A12.

I loved it.

Here it is:

Here are two suggestions for “out of office” messages that furloughed federal employees can use in their emails or on voice mails:

1.  “I am currently out of the office on unpaid furlough.  Please contact Congress for assistance.  They are actually not working but still getting paid for it.”

2.  “I’m currently out of the office on furlough.  If you don’t understand what this means, please go to your bank, take out 20 percent of your last paycheck and burn it.”

Gina Caceci, Falls Church.

Somewhere I read that Congress is only slated to work NINE DAYS in September.  Good heavens!


Here’s a picture of my beautiful friend, Gina

Gina, fall 2012

Books, Documentaries, Reviews: Don McLean: American Troubadour

Books, Documentaries, Reviews:  August 26, 2013


Don McLean : American Troubadour


A remarkable new documentary about the Don McLean story produced by multi Emmy-award  winning film director Jim Brown due to air across the PBS network in March 2012.

* * *

A few months back, the Strand theater in Rockland, Maine, screened the new documentary about Don McLean, AMERICAN TROUBADOUR.  Both Don and Patrisha were present and hosted a question and answer session.  Both are treasured members of our community–they do so much really good work here.

I missed this event at the time and was sad to do so as Patrisha McClean is a friend.  Barb Melchisky went and told me that she really enjoyed the film and the time with Don and Patrisha.  “It was,” said Barb, “a lovely and interesting evening.”

So, I treated myself.  I ordered the DVD, and one night when Mike and the boys were here, we watched it.  And we had a “lovely and interesting evening, too.”

Don McClean’s music was iconic for my teenage and young adult years.  (Who in my generation could forget the plane crash that took the life of Buddy Holly?)  Don’s music was apparently iconic for my son Michael as well.  As we watched, and smiled, and laughed, and said “oh, I didn’t know that,” we began to realize that ten-year old Bo was fully engaged with the film as well.  And, indeed, Bo went around for days afterwards singing the refrain to “Bye Bye MIss American Pie” and kept asking “well what do those lines mean?”  And, it turned out that Michael had done a paper on this very famous song in college and had never forgotten it.

Perhaps more importantly, Bo could see that he could learn to play the guitar well and could do that own his own if he wanted to badly enough.  He also took home the idea that he could write songs for himself.  And, others.  Important songs that capture an era.  It will be fun to see how all the tropes in Don’s life percolates in Bo’s head.

I plan to watch the film again this winter–and to maybe will invite some friends to watch it with me.  Maybe we will do that even sooner as other visitors and family are coming who would be interested in this man and his music.

In any case, I recommend this documentary to you.  And I thank Don for being who he is and for all the gifts of his music.


Interesting Information: Did You Know?

Interesting Information:  Did You Know?

Did You Know?


That SOY is being added to Whole Foods chicken, duck, and goose liver pates?


Yep!  Soy Protein Isolate (SPI)–which is a highly processed, industrial food which, according to Kaayla T. Daniel in THE WHOLE SOY STORY, is full of toxins and carcinogens.

Why?  To pad the real ingredients in order to make more money.

 * * *


Here are some other surprising places soy is found.

Celestial Seasons Teas (some) contain soy lecithin.

Vaccines can contain soy adjuvants.

Instant Oatmeal (which is a poor food choice to begin with) can contain SPI, partially hydrogenated soy oil (a trans fat) and high fructose corn oil.

Soft drinks (Mountain Dew Squirt, Fanta Orange, and other citrusy sodas) can contain brominated vegetable oil (first developed as a flame retardant)–which works to emulsify the citrus-like flavors.

Artificial fire logs and soy candles can put soy into the air you breath-which is a serious issue for those with soy allergens.

Corkboards and floor mats.

Meltaway cupcake liners.

Coated cast-iron cookware.

The takaway here:  keep reading labels as they change all the time.

This information was taken from “Soy Alert!” in the Summer 2013 “Wise Traditions,” the journal of the Weston A. Price Foundation–and was written by Kaayla T. Daniel.  This journal is fully available on-line.

Turkey Tracks: August Dinner

Turkey Tracks:  August 25, 2013

August Dinner

On Friday I pick up my produce from my CSA (Community Shared Agriculture).  We CSA members are now at the point where we are getting A LOT of food.  As I put away the food, I isolated these ingredients for my supper.

I LOVE Romano green beans.  They are my favorites.  (Well, ok, I like the haricot verts, too.  And the Dragon’s Tongue.  And the Providers.)  After the CSA, I came home and made a fresh bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwich–on gluten free bread–Sami’s–and saved the bacon grease.  Lard is really good for you, actually.  By keeping the grease on the stove from lunch to dinner, I was creating an asset to use later.

That purple veggie is a kolhrabi.  They also come in green.  They’re good grated or sliced thinly and sautéed.  They’re nice, too, diced and thrown into a lighter summer veggie soup.

Aug. 2013 dinner 11

First, I cut up the eggplant, put it into a colander over a bowl, and salted it.

Next, I made a fresh salad–made by grating the kohlrabi and some of these tender new carrots.  I added in some corn I took off the cob a few days ago–I always cook extra corn and reserve the kernels for salads this time of year.  Again, that’s creating an asset for later.  I shaved in some parsley.  And over it all, I poured a mustardy, garlicky vinaigrette.  I keep that kind of salad dressing all made out on the counter–where it just gets better and better.  It’s another asset.  The salad went into the frig to mellow out.  (It is good for several days.)

Aug. 2013 dinner, 2 Carrot, corn, kohlrabi, parsley mustardy garlic dressing

Next, I washed and snapped the Romano beans and put them into a saucepan with some of the bacon grease, water, and some salt.  I wanted them “Southern Style”–or cooked until soft.

aug. dinner 5

Then, I cut up all my lovely vegetables and put them into the cast-iron skillet where I fried the bacon.  i also added a lump of unrefined coconut oil, which is so, so good for you and very, very stable–unlike frying with olive oil.  (I reserve olive oil now mostly for eating on salads.)

Aug. dinner 3

What you see in this pan is the following:  the eggplant, the fresh onion, yellow squash, zucchini squash, some fava beans i soaked in salted water and peeled (assets, yes, bukt boy are they a lot of work), and some sliced new potatoes.  Add some good sea salt.

When the veggies had cooked down a bit, I added the tomato and some basil, some chive, and some mint from the garden.  Maybe some tarragon, too.  (An herb garden is a major asset.) I don’t know what it is about mint in this kind of dish, but it’s delicious.  See the color developing?

Aug. dinner 6

It’s your call as to when you think the dish is ready.  Here’s how far I took this batch–and the flavor was deep and rich and gorgeous.  I shaved in some parsley to finish it.

aug. dinner 7

Meanwhile, I had put chicken thighs into the oven–dressed with butter and lemon slices.

Aug. dinner 9

When the chicken was done–I poured myself a glass of orange/cucumber/lemon/rosemary infused water.  (You can see I need to make more sauerkraut–which is chock full of enzymes and probiotics.  I try to eat a little every day of one of these lacto-fermented veggie concoctions.)

Aug. dinner 8

And here’s my plate of beautiful, beautiful summer food:

aug. 2013 dinner 12

I should have added one of the lacto-fermented dill pickles i just took out of the crock and refrigerated.  The roasted lemon slices carmelize, become sweet, and are delicious.

Best of all, I will have at least two meals to reheat and enjoy–or some fun foods to have for lunch.

And, look, folks.  Not a recipe in sight.  This kind of cooking is my most favorite.  You cook, simply, what is in season because that’s all you need to do.  The fresh, wonderful food will do the rest for you.

Turkey Tracks: “Sunshine and Shadows” Quilt

Turkey Tracks:  August 23, 2013

Sunshine and Shadows Quilt

I’m addicted to my scrappy project–Louisa Enright’s Scrappy Project–and have been for the past two years.  I’m determined to use my stash and to get it into some sort of useable condition.

As part of my addiction to scrappy quilting, I had started saving Bonnie Hunter’s columns in Quiltmaker magazine.  One of my earlier quilts–Spinner–pictured on this blog I’m sure–came from one of Bonnie’s columns.

Then our state quilt guild hosted two workshops by Bonnie Hunter–and that coincided with my getting her book on “leaders and enders”–and then getting ALL the books (she’s a genius with scrappy quilt design)–then finding her blog (quiltville.com), all her free patterns (more genius), her Facebook page, and QuiltCam, where she sews and talks to those who have put aside the time to sew and visit with her.   That led to the quilt “Green Camden Hills Beauty”–a green version of her “Blue Ridge Beauty”–which is in one of the books and which I also found in my “ideas” file when I cleaned it out recently.

On several QuiltCams this spring, Bonnie worked on two quilts for two family babies that she called “Dancing Nines” because the nine-patch blocks are offset so they “dance.”  She used old shirting materials from these babies grandfathers’ old shirts.  I had a whole bunch of “leader/ender” four-patch green blocks from working with my green stash–so they were easy to make into nine-patches.

And, here’s “Sunshine and Shadows”–a Bonnie Hunter “Dancing Nine” quilt.

Note that the sashing fabric is NOT yellow, but a green/yellow that blends beautifully with the blocks.  I love the piano key border.  And it’s a bit different in size than Bonnie’s since I was using strips that I had already cut.

Sunshine and Shadows quilted

The narrow inner border also works best with this quilt.  I had this perfect fabric in my stash, but it was TERRIBLE in a wider version.  I should have trusted Bonnie’s eye to begin with.

Here’s another view–but that sashing still looks yellow…

Sunshine and Shadows quilted 2

Like Bonnie, I used the pantograph “Deb’s Swirls”–but I can’t tell if Bonnie used the small or medium version.  I have both the medium and the large and have been using both a lot.  I think it’s funny that I had it already when Bonnie mentioned it…

Sunshine and Shadows blocks quilted

Here’s a close-up of the inner border:


Sunshine and Shadows top 2

And one of the binding and backing–the backing is like our forests in spring–all greens and yellow and golds.  It works really well with the front.

Sunshine and Shadows binding and backing

This quilt is so versatile.  It’s a great scrappy project with a lot of visual interest.  It can be made large or small, bright, dull, contemporary, sweet, bold, whimsical, and on and on.  I know I’ll be making it again.

Best of all, the only thing I had to buy for this quilt was the backing.  And I could have pieced a back, but since the quilt was smaller, and meant for a baby I know, I thought one piece of fabric would be best.

Turkey Tracks: Gardens in the Watershed: The Dorolenna Farm

Turkey Tracks:  August 23, 2013

Gardens in the Watershed:

The Dorolenna Farm

This farm was Giovanna McCarthy’s and my last stop on this years Gardens in the Watershed Tour, hosted and planned by The Georges River Land Trust.

In every garden, Giovanna and I learned so much more than each of us–both avid gardeners–knew.  Our creativity was sparked, and we both went home feeling we had spent our day quite well.

Andrew and Victoria Marshall have owned this 250-acre farm for seven years.  It’s beautiful land, with a mixture of forest and pasture.  The homestead dates to 1840 and is one of the few remaining farmsteads of the “Frye Mountain community which populated the area until the 1930s.

Dorolenna Farm is “certified organic and produces vegetables, tree fruit, pasture-raised poultry, cut flowers, and forest products for local markets.”

The barn is GORGEOUS.  (I love barns.)  The Marshalls built the barn in 2009 from wood harvested, milled, and cut on their farm.  The barn was raised on-site.  (Wish I’d been there.)

Here’s a picture of what must be the original part of the house–on the right.

Marshall 3

Here’s a long at the house and how it spreads out against the hill.  The barn is on the other side of the house, and I did not get a picture of it.   By this time of the day, Giovanna and I were tired and hot, and I, at least, got lazy with my camera.  I think I was a little on overload at this point too.

Marshall 6

Pastured poultry is one of the farm’s crops.  That process happens in stages where each chicken cohort gets raised together through all the steps until time for harvest.  There were chicken tractors out on the pasture holding the different age groups.  These would get moved every day so that the chickens have access to fresh grass, bugs, and are out of their own poop.   And the tractors protect them from predators.

Here are a group of babies just starting out:


It’s so fun to watch baby chickens at this age.  They eat, run around, then flop down in a pile to sleep for a bit.

Marshall 2

The chicken barn is on the road to the house, so one walks along the road that winds through forest.  You can see the old rock wall where the early settlers cleared this land and planted it.  Rock walls like this one are frequently seen in Maine woods–reminders of another era.

The gardens around the house were quite lovely.  Here’s my favorite shot of delphiniums against the sky:

Marshall 4

Fields near the house were planted to potatoes–which make a beautiful, richly colored green plant that has blooms.

Turkey Tracks: Black Trumpet Video

Turkey Tracks:  August 23, 2013

Black Trumpet Video

Well, I don’t quite know what I did to make the video work.

I’ve been doing what I think of as a “computer dance”–reading instructions from WordPress, trying to find out how to clean out the browser stash, the cookie stash, etc.  And to figure out whether or not to use Google Chrome as the default setting…

Whatever I did, the video now loaded.  Yeah!

What you see at first in the video is Rosie Chickie.  She’s the remaining survivor of the fox attack of this spring, and she follows me everywhere in the yard.

Turkey Tracks: Camp Lovey

Turkey Tracks:  August 22, 2013

Camp Lovey

I had my two grandsons, 8 1/2 and almost 10, here in Maine for two weeks on my own.

It was glorious.

They did the Camden Yacht Club sailing camp in the mornings–even swimming in the cold harbor water every day.

And Camp Lovey the rest of the time.

Mike and Tami brought the girls up at the end of the two weeks for a week–which went by really fast.

Mike brought the boys up, and I picked them up in Portland.  We went to Acadia the next day, I think, and all were enchanted with the views from the top of Cadillac Mountain.

Acadia View Cadillac Mountain

The boys loved exploring all the rocks and the nooks and crannies that the ledges offered:

Bo and Kelly, Acadia 2013

Afterwards, we stopped at the Co-op in Belfast for food and at Baywrap for ice cream:

Bo and Kels, ice cream, 2013 2

John and I had planned to get kayaks for the children last summer.  He even ventured out to price them.  So this summer, I undertook that task with the help of the boys.  Together we could load the kayaks on the car.  I got cold feet about sending them out alone on the river, where I knew they would quickly be off and running and a long way away from me, so we got Maine Sports (very kindly) to help install a “J” bar so we could carry my big kayak as well.

Unfortunately, our weather was cool enough that we only got to use the kayaks one time–and even them we got caught in the rain.  It was still a good day.

Kayaks 2013

The boys loved poking around the tidal pools that line our shores.  And, looking for “sea glass”–which is now mostly just plain glass shards–is another favorite pastime.   These pictures were taken at Rockland Harbor.

Rockland Harbor 5

Boys, Rockland 2

Crabs, Rockalnd 3

Crab, Rockland

Crab, Rockalnd 5

Here’s what a shallow tidal pool looks like:

Rockland Beach 3

And much time was spent skipping “good” rocks, such as this one:

Skipping stone 3

We took the girls back, and they, too, enjoyed their time on this beach.  In fact, all four children went swimming in the cold water and in all their clothes!!!   They won’t forget that dip any time soon.

The boys went to the state quilting show–Pine Tree Quilt Guild–with me on a Saturday.  I posted that earlier, but here, again, is their favorite quilt:

Boys favorite quilt, 2013

We all went to Moose Crossing State Park one day–a beautiful place just north of Belfast:

Moosewood park 2013

Moose Crossing beach has some rather big rocks.  Bo spent some time rearranging them.

Bo, Moosewood 2013

And Talula and Kelly spent a lot of time wading through the tidal pools.  I had gotten lazy with the camera at this point, so don’t have this picture of them anywhere but in my mind.  But here’s one of Talula:

Talula, Aug. 2013

I always do a lot of cooking with the children–and this year was no exception.  Here are Maryann and Mina making our dinner salad:

Mary and Mina

Fortunately for me and for the chickens, the children love to collect the Japanese Beetles from the raspberries and beans and feed them to the chickens.  This year they became fascinated with dragonflies.  Here’s a BIG one on Bo’s hand:

Bo and dragonfly, Aug 2013

We went to Monhegan Island for two days and a night–staying at the Monhegan House Inn.  Here are Bo and Mina in Port Clyde waiting to board the boat to go out to the island:

Port Clyde 5

Here is Mina, swinging on a downhill swing on the island:

Mina, Aug. 2013

Here are my four kiddos, waiting to board the boat home from Monhegan:

Lovey and kiddos, Aug. 2013

On the way home, the boat captain took us by an island filled with sunning seals:

seals, Aug. 2013

We were all enchanted.

This trip was the end of Camp Lovey, as everyone departed for the long drive home to South Carolina a day or so later–especially as we got even MORE rain.

Turkey Tracks: Dehydrator Days

Turkey Tracks:  August 22, 2013

Dehydrator Days


The hum of the food dehydrator is a constant sound in my kitchen these days.

The earth and the vegetable gardens are pouring forth the most amazing bounty.

I dried the mushrooms shown in an earlier post.  They filled all the trays of the dehydrator.

Dehydrator 1

But I also am drying cherry tomatoes to use in salads all year around.  These little nuggets are as sweet as candy and are so appreciated in the white cold of winter.  They don’t taste like any bought dried tomato you’ve ever eaten.

Dehydrator 2

My garden is producing a healthy crop of Sun Golds.  Hope’s Edge, my CSA, will provide some cherry tomatoes to dry.  And Susan McBride’s Golden Brook Farm, just up the hill from me, has luscious cherry tomatoes.

I also have discovered that drying zucchini–and even excess cucumbers–is a great way to preserve them.  Grating and freezing zucchini does not work so well.  The flesh gets slimy and bitter after a bit of time.  But the dried disks reconstitute beautifully if thrown into a soup or stew about five minutes before it is done.  Cut the BIG zukes into smaller pieces…

Dehydrator 3

I am also blanching and freezing the beans that are coming in like crazy now.  It’s easy enough to snap them, rinse them, drop them into boiling water for a few minutes (don’t let them get too cooked), put them into a baggie, and freeze them.


I picked up fresh blueberries from Hope’s Edge last week.   So I made jam from the uneaten and frozen berries from last summer.


Blueberry jam is easier than blackberry jam since you don’t have to pick them or deseed them.  Otherwise, the process is much the same.  I do grate the rind of one lemon into the pot–and add the juice.  Lemon perks up the blueberry flavor.  Blueberry jam needs a bit more sugar than the blackberries as the blueberries don’t have as much pectin.  This jam is a bit looser as a result, but that’s ok.  It’s great over ice cream, in smoothies, over pancakes, and so forth–and the flavor is lovely.  It tends to get stiffer in the cold of the refrigerator.


One of the deep pleasures of my life is harvesting and preserving the food that the earth offers us.  It is the most satisfying feeling to know that I have these “assets” in my pantry to be enjoyed all winter and into the long Maine spring when we are so hungry for fresh greens.

But, let’s face it.  Feeding people really good food–and eating it myself–is one of the things that I most like to do.