Trying to walk the walk.

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I am, I fully admit, a news junkie and have been most of my life. Growing up, my daily quality time with my dad was watching Walter Cronkite deliver the evening news and then we’d discuss the events of the day. I don’t watch the evening news these days, but I still love being informed as to what’s happening in the world. But I find that the news these days is just….well, just hard to take in some days. Okay, most days. What with ‘alternative facts’ and made up massacres on top of the rhetoric…..it’s getting harder and harder for me to take in my usual diet of news (which, if you’re wondering, includes NPR in the morning,  perusing all the local news outlets (newspapers and tv stations) as well as a few national ones (New York Times and the Washington Post among others) and the occasional NPR in the evening and if I am still awake, the late night local news). I’m kind of a stickler for facts and reality, as well as civility, which seems to be optional in some news outlets these days. It’s more than frustrating to someone like me. Continue reading

Something new.

New Roots Farm has a semi-regular stand at the city market that sells produce grown at the community garden sponsored by the International Resource Committee here in Charlottesville. The garden sprung out of wanting to help refugees feel at home as many of them have a farming background, while also giving refugees access to fresh food, particularly some harder to find items from their home. By selling some of the excess produce, refugees learn new skills and earn some income.  (Here’s a nice article that ran on them this past July) When I see their stand at market, I like to check out what they have to offer because it’s a good opportunity to try something new while also supporting a wonderful project. On a recent visit, this caught my eye:

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Getting Schooled.

I spent three very delightful evenings this past week assisting down at the Charlottesville Cooking School with my friend Martha, who taught an Every Day Cooking Skills Series.  It’s a three part class that is usually taught over the course of three weeks, but Martha decided to teach it over three consecutive evenings in one week as a trial summer run.  The concept is sort of like a boot camp for cooking – it covers a variety of basic cooking techniques so that participants walk out  with skills to throw together simple seasonal and delicious dinners regularly.  Sounds too good to be true,  I know, but Martha is an amazing instructor who can make this happen and I don’t just say that because she’s a friend.  Martha is a trained chef, who has been teaching cooking classes longer than she wants to admit (which is also longer than I’ve been cooking).

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May Showers

I have decided to credit the last 16 days of rain for the miraculous recovery of my blue hydrangea. I walked out there the other day and noticed buds forming. They still look a little rough around the edges, but they are quickly making a come back. I really think it’s due to all the rain and this is how I’ve come to peace with the current and apparently, ongoing weather. Continue reading

And so it begins.

The weather has been gloriously ( if unseasonably at times) warm for early March and it would seem that spring is truly happening. The tulip magnolia in the front yard burst into full bloom this week, beginning what I lovingly refer to as “the big pink tree on the corner blooming” season.

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Mr. Jefferson’s Gadgets

My neighbor Charles is one of those fascinatingly entertaining people that abound here in Charlottesville. He is an extremely talented craftsman, with a wickedly cool workshop in his back yard that deserves its own post. ( I really thought I had some shots of the workshop, but I can’t seem to find them, so I’ll need to fix that!) Among the projects he works on back there are a number of fascinating reproduction gadgets for Monticello where he works as a guide. Many a cozy (happy) hour has been spent in Charles’ workshop as he shares his latest labor of love. Over the years, Charles has built a number of Jefferson-era reproduction gadgets, so when I heard he was going to give a talk on the topic up at Monticello, I immediately knew this was going to be a talk worth going to.reserved

Edie and I were officially guests of Charles – with reserved seats no less! A friend of mine from high school was in town, so I dragged him along as well. As I sat between the two of them, Chris directed me to take pictures of things, while Edie gave me the side eye every time she heard my camera click, so I tried to strike a balance that kept both my companions happy.

Charles had samples of some his gadgets, as well as a slide show illustrating some of his work and points. Over the years, he’s built the wine dumbwaiter currently in use in a display in the basement, a replica of the folding ladder used to wind the clock in the entry hall of Monticello, a camera obscura, an orrery and a replica of the portable desk Jefferson commissioned for himself, used in the writing of  the Declaration of Independence. Charles discussed the research that went into creating these reprodutions as well as things he’s learned about Jefferson along the way (he liked things that folded and things that rotated).  He shared with us in great detail the current rabbit hole he has fallen into – studying Jefferson’s Hawkins/ Peale polygraph No. 57.

 

The talk was very well attended and absolutely fascinating. At the end of his talk, Charles invited everyone up to come check out his gadgets, where there was loads of hands on exploring. Thank you again for having us as your guests Charles – it was an absolutely stellar talk and wonderful to see so many of your works on display. I do hope Monticello hosts more talks like these, as they are fascinating.

A Saturday Adventure.

The plan was to go pick up some composted manure from a friend’s goat farm for our garden plot. Said farm is out in what we city dwellers refer to as “the sticks” – south of town between Schuyler and Scottsville, a few dirt roads off the main road.

Virginia and I set out about mid-morning in our old pick-up truck. We stopped off at the garden to tidy up and drop off some tools before heading south.

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A workshop with the master. And a festival!

IMG_6549 (1024x683)It almost escaped my attention that Sandor Katz was speaking at the Heritage Harvest Festival up at Monticello this past weekend.  Upon discovering this news, I immediately booked myself a spot in his morning workshop that was billed as a ‘premium workshop‘, meaning in addition to forking out money for a festival ticket, I shelled out money for the workshop as well.  I mention this because I pretty sure I haven’t paid to attend any sort of food or wine related event in a solid 15 years or so, with the last one I paid for also held up at Monticello – a canning and food preservation class (which yes, was THE class that began my canning odyssey), managing to get into all the events I’ve attended over the years for free. I found out later I probably could have finagled a free entry for this, but in the interest of karma, I figured it doesn’t hurt to actually pay for something once in a while. Continue reading