Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Happy Birthday Pete Seeger!

Pete Seeger turns 90 today! I was lucky to be able to sail on the Clearwater in Long Island Sound when I was in 5th grade. I was already really interested in the environment and the health of the ocean, but that trip was one of my first experiences of how to put caring about something into action in a way that was concrete and effective.

We sang on the trip as well. Whenever I feel discouraged, I just remember the lyrics, "The river may be dirty now but it's getting cleaner every day" and I think about how dramatically much cleaner the Hudson is now than it was when P.S. and the other members of the group started out their campaign to get polluters to stop dumping waste into the river. I've also seen Pete at many of the rallies, festivals, and demonstrations that I've attended over the years, and he was no spring chicken then!

And, of course, I have very precious memories of listening to his albums with my dad, and it gives me great pleasure to sing the same songs with my friends' children.

Lastly, I once read that when asked about the fate of the human race, Pete said something along the lines of, "Honestly, I think we are doomed - but it would be wrong to go out without a fight." That is an accurate description of my belief as well.

One of his lyrics that has always haunted me is, "If it happens to me, then also, without fail/it can happen to you/sang the world's last whale." And, as an echo of that, I think of the poem by a Russian child that he put to music during the Cold War. It goes, "May there always be sunshine, may there always be flowers, may there always be mamma, may there always be me."

So far, we are all still here. May there always be music, may there always be whales, may there always be concerned individuals who take action, may there always be Pete.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

My trash cans a mere five months ago...

Tonight's sticky air almost makes me miss those endless snowstorms... almost, but not quite.


It took me a few minutes to figure out that this spelled "Lemonade." Duh! But if I ever need a stage name, I am definitely going to consider "Lemona De!"

Some photos of last year's entries at the tomato contest...

My little farm...

It never varies: every year I plant morning glory seeds and every year something else comes up instead.

The raspberries came up under the fence from my neighbor's yard. The first year there were lots of berries, but none have appeared since then, just the gigantic plants. Two other anonymous plants have sprouted as well. I have some tomatoes tucked in there in an Organic Tomato Success Kit from Gardeners Supply in Burlington, Vermont. So far the tomato plants are going strong. The tomatoes have set. The species that I am growing include Red Zebras, Paul Robeson, Matt's Wild, Brandywine, and Supersonic. Now I just have to hope that they don't pick up the blight from any of my neighbors' plants.

My clematis plants never bloomed last year and they have hardly grown at all this year. The lilac bush I planted survived the winter but had no blooms. Sigh. I am hoping that next year things will pick up. I can't remember a summer as rainy, cool, and sunless as this one.

The squirrels ate most of the bulbs I planted last year, but I did get a few hyacinths, narcissus, and tulips. I'd like to add grape hyacinth, snow bells, and checkered lilies at some point. Also some irises. I know that there's a Cummins tulip, which I think is purple, so someday I am going to order some of those.

I have no idea how to get wisteria and honeysuckle to grow, but they are on my list as well. I love the scent of the heliotrope that I have in a window box, which is particularly powerful at twilight. I am almost afraid of introducing too many other scents, but it seems a risk worth taking. (Would that that were our biggest problem: that there are too many fantastic, competing scents in the garden.)

For now, though, I am just concentrating on my tomatoes and herbs. And wishing that the morning glories would germinate one of these years. Why are they so hard to get started?

If you want to see the crazy-looking Organic Tomato Success Kit, check out:


I can't help but wonder if it's really a good idea to use the red plastic cover... doesn't it outgas or degrade and get into the soil as it bakes in the sun? For now, though, I am giving it a try. I will do almost anything for a really good tomato.

Raison d'etre?

I spotted this at Rancatore's.

This week I made a tomato-based codfish stew

This week I made a stew that included an onion, new potatoes, fennel fronds, a pinch of saffron, the juice of an orange and a lemon, and crushed organic tomatoes from a can. And, of course, cod. I also had some black olive tapenade hanging around, so I threw in a tablespoon of that. I added a pistou of basil and olive oil at the table, which really rounded out the flavors.

I am, as always, very curious to see what will come in this week's delivery.

Cape Ann Fresh Catch starts a new 12 week cycle

Cape Ann Fresh Catch is a fish CSA. If you missed signing up for the first 12-week cycle, you can now sign up for a new 12-week cycle. Click on this link for more information:
I am setting up my calendar for August. The NOFA conference takes place on the campus of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst from Friday, August 7th through Sunday, August 9th. Will Allen will be the keynote speaker. For more information see

Verrill Farm's Corn and Tomato Festival takes place over two days: Saturday, August 15th and Sunday, August 16th from noon to 4 p.m. For more information see http://www.verrillfarm.com/events.html

I will be serving as a judge at the state-wide tomato contest on Monday, August 18th, at City Hall Plaza in Boston. For more information see