Thursday, June 26, 2008

My Love for Flowers

I have been fairly well-occupied with packing the last week and have not had a lot of time to enjoy the last of the early summer flowers on the farm. But I needn't worry because each day
Mother makes sure the house is filled with fragrant blooms essentially bringing the outdoors inside for me to experience. Her enjoyment of the gardens is a joy to watch and made me realize where I learned to love flowers.

The first time I visited Alasa Farms, was when I was still in college at Colorado State University, and Griff invited me to spend some time with him one summer. I still remember my wonder at having gardens filled with flowers, enough so that cutting some to be enjoyed indoors was not only possible but expected. It seemed a little like I was a character in a Jane Austen novel, cutting blossoms, carrying them to a garden sink, where a wonderful selection of vases were arrayed on the shelves above, just waiting to be selected.

This was a new experience for me since our Colorado gardens had always served a more practical purpose and were never abundant enough to allow for indiscriminate harvesting for indoor decoration. So I had never seen the joy my mother and I share for wandering through the gardens, basket and clippers in hand, selecting blooms that won't be missed but can still add such brightness to a bedroom or the kitchen. It is so much easier to do one's work when surrounded by the beauty of flowers.

Much later, when Griff and I were finally married (that is a story for another day) and I moved into the farmhouse, which I had visited all those years before, one of my greatest pleasures was the abundance of flowers for cutting and that is something I will miss.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Better Late than Never

OK, I need to 'fess up. I have not checked or read many of the posts in my Reader and Live Bookmarks for nearly a month. Just monitoring my blog and email has kept me occupied, so I missed congratulating Lori Wells on her acceptance into a doctoral program at UTB.

Lori was accepted to the doctoral program at UTB! Only ten out of 200 made it.

Way to go Lori, and achieving the wisdom that comes after 50 years calls for celebration, too (I know, I passed my 50th several years ago and after the initial depression, I decided that life gets less complicated as the years go by -- or so I tell myself.

I met Lori last Christmas at Sandy Feet's Christmas Party and found her to be friendly, open, warm and interesting, and I thoroughly enjoyed our conversation in Lucinda's shady backyard oasis. I know Lori will be a great success and provide a valuable contribution to the educational needs of the ESL students in the area.

Oh, I suppose I shouldn't forget to say how great it is that Sam and Lori also celebrated an anniversary at the same time.

That must have been some party!!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Ambrose Bierce on War

From Today in Literature:

"Ambrose Bierce was wounded in the U.S. Civil War on this day in 1864, a day short of his twenty-second birthday.

Bierce’s war experiences inspired several of his most famous short stories, and this bit of anti-pacifism from his Devil’s Dictionary:

WAR, n. A by-product of the arts of peace.

The most menacing political condition is a period of international amity.... It was when Kubla Khan had decreed his 'stately pleasure dome' — when, that is to say, there were peace and fat feasting in Xanadu — that he “heard from afar / Ancestral voices prophesying war.”

One of the greatest of poets, Coleridge was one of the wisest of men, and it was not for nothing that he read us this parable. Let us have a little less of 'hands across the sea,' and a little more of that elemental distrust that is the security of nations. War loves to come like a thief in the night; professions of eternal amity provide the night.

More from Alton, New York

Friday was Griff's birthday and Cheri, Burt and lots of other volunteers from the Cracker Box Palace, hosted a barbecue supper for him and we had a splendid turnout.

The evening was beautiful and it was especially fun for me, since I had the chance to visit with friends I had not seen in quite awhile.

I'm not sure who -- the girls or Griff -- is enjoying his new recycled 3-wheeled bicycle more. The residents of the Alasa Farm community saved it from the junk heap, acquiring it in trade from the prior owners, who agreed to provide a home for an abandoned pig.

Such is life on the farm.

For me the packing continues. What a mess!!

I don't think I'll miss this Art Deco chandelier, although it is certainly a conversation piece.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Alasa Farms on Sodus Bay

After the two-week trek my pod of 4 adults and 2 dogs finally reached our destination of Alton, NY situated on Sodus Bay which opens onto Lake Ontario. Alton and Sodus Point -- the two small villages which the farm is associated with -- lie nearly halfway between the metropolitan cities of Rochester and Syracuse, NY.

This is a beautiful time at the farm. The roses lining the fence of the pool are in full bloom, along with the peonies, dogwood, alium and numerous other wildflowers. The apples and peaches are just beginning to fill out and exhibit the potential which lies within for developing into a sweet, juicy, crisp piece of fresh fruit. Strawberries are the current fruit of choice at the numerous farm markets and cherries are nearing perfection.

This is Sophie and Sadie's first trip east and they have not stopped running, sniffing, exploring, and absorbing all the new sensations which are available to members of the canine species on a farm. Cats, llamas, goats, sheep, horses and who knows what else have given these two town girls a whole new perspective on life.

As the volunteers of Alasa Academy prepare for their summer classes, I am faced with the daunting task of deciding what stays and what goes. Where does one begin?

I feel a massive shift of culture between this nearly 300 year old Shaker home and all the history that it contains -- years as the Sodus Shaker Community; followed by the utopia-seeking Fourierites, and their attempts at communal living; later becoming the showplace farm of the 30s and 40s, owned by Alvah Griffin Strong (my husband's grandfather and grandson of the first President of Kodak), with it's herd of show cattle, Standard-Bred horses, massive barns with tongue and groove siding inside, acres of forest and bay front property and apple and peach orchards; then its continuing legacy as a Shaker historical site and educational center operated by Griffy, his mother and family -- Shaker Days, Alasa Center, Fiber Days and Pick and Picnic (u-pick apples) which included my small contribution of Simple Gifts, the farm's gift shop; and now is home to Cracker Box Palace (a farm animal rescue organization) and Alasa Academy (an alternative educational program).

How does any of this history translate to South Texas? I'm not sure and there is a lot more room to accumulate things in a 4 story, 6 bedroom, farmhouse than what a 1400 sq. ft. South Padre Island house can hold. I ponder this as I sit at my desk, where I used to enjoy dabbling with watercolors and peruse the shelves of books spanning from Griff's great grandparents library of the 1880s through my additions of the early 21st century. Where will they all go, and will I ever have enough space for new books?

And then there is my collection of Beanie Babies and Griff's Titanic memorabilia. I am so-o confused and overwhelmed. and I thought living here was overwhelming, leaving seems to be equally as challenging. Well, I suppose I need to get started. More later.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Hello from Kennebunkport Maine

I just finished the last lobster of my annual or biennial lobster fix. This one was consumed at Mabel's in Kennebunkport. George Herbert was in town, and the Texas flag was proudly waving under the Stars and Stripes alongside the Maine flag. Before that was the Trenton Lobster Hut outside Bar Harbor and Nunan's at Port Porpoise north of Kennebunkport.

The computer access has been less than stellar on our trek across the Dakota's, through north Minnesota and Canada, and on through Maine, as we head to Alton NY to do some packing for the move to Texas. Since I am about out of battery right now, I will sign off and complete this travelogue later. Besides, I need to relax and savor the memory of the succulent lobster feast I just enjoyed.

There was a news crew at the restaurant filming for Channel 5, Boston, and they wanted shots of the lobster dinner - and since I was the only one with a lobster for lunch, I should be part of the latest Kennebunkport TV promotional campaign. I did my best to show how to break off the little legs and claws before tackling the body and tail.

Need to go before I lose this whole post. Until later. And, please, go to the sidebar, click on the link to the survey and let me know what you look for in a bookstore.