I recently had the pleasure of visiting up-state New York a few weeks ago with my Great Aunt Susan. The trip was last minute and a surprise. I awoke to a phone call a few weeks ago and it was Susan asking me if I could help with her booth at the New York Sheep and Wool Festival, the person who was originally going with her backed out. Since I wasn’t completely coherent, I told her I would call her back after I had a cup of coffee and a chance to think it over.
After I had some bean juice on board, I decided that I would go with her to New York; it would be a fun opportunity to visit a place i’d never been before. We left Monday evening and drove her cargo van and trailer straight there from Wisconsin.
While the van was cramped and the drive was long, the scenery was beautiful with the fall colors out in their full magnificence. We arrived late Wednesday night in Kingston New York, happy to stretch out and sleep on a bed instead of being cooped up in a van. The next morning I feasted my eyes on the rich autumn landscapes bordering the Hudson River.
It was an extra special trip for me because I learned from Susan that our ancestors lived in that area before migrating to Wisconsin when it was still a territory. I felt a strange nostalgia when we arrived there and a shiver down my spine. I wondered to myself what it might have liked like all those hundreds of years ago, before persistent noise of technology and modern convenience crept in.
I didn’t have much time for wondering and daydreaming after we arrived at the festival grounds. The day was spent in a whirlwind unloading her stuff and setting up the booth for the weekend rush.
Like many of the other vendors there, Susan owns her own business where she sells materials and goods used for fiber art. Fiber art includes things like knitting and spinning wool but, it can include many other things such as felting , weaving and more. The possibilities are really only limited by your imagination. Fiber artists are an interesting and eclectic crowd you will see people from all walks of life working on all sorts of projects. This was made especially clear to me the next day when the show started.
It was a much larger event than I anticipated; at one point the place was so packed with people you could not see the vendors on the other side of the aisle! I was glued to the register most of the day, amazed at the long lines of people buying spinning wheels, wool, knitting needles, felting tools, spindles and everything in between. The last day of the festival was Sunday, it was a little less packed and I had a chance to go check out some of the other vendors. The Festival had a a wide variety of vendors including stuff for fiber art, food vendors selling specialty cheeses, wine, and canned goods. There were also people selling essential oils, wood-carvings and all kinds of interesting things. There were also a ton of sheep…and llamas.
Sunday evening finally rolled around and the festival ended, which meant it was time for us to pack up. We stayed there loading the van and trailer until 11:30 at night when the park managers tools us we had to leave and finish packing in the morning. While it was a minor setback time-wise, it was a welcome break, we had been going since six that morning. The next day we finished packing up and made our way back to Wisconsin, tired, but satisfied. The long drive there and back presented a great opportunity for me to get to know my Aunt Susan better and I discovered that we have a lot in common.
We have similar eating habits, we both shy away from GMO foods, we both tend to take a more holistic approach when it comes to health and well being. We are both creative, artistically inclined people who are drawn to a wide variety of artistic pursuits. After getting to know Susan better I found her easy to relate to and I look up to her as a positive role model. She’s a successful business owner, driven, open-minded and inspiring; it was nice to have the chance to connect with her and get to know her better.
I’m thankful she invited me along and glad I said yes to the opportunity.
This year was rough on our tomato crop. The cold and damp conditions made it difficult for them to ripen completely. This appeared to be the case for everyone around us too. When we would go to the farmers market we would hear the same story over and over again, “The tomatoes just weren’t doing so well this year.”
So…what to do now that it’s October and I have a bushel full of unripened green tomatoes? I don’t want to let them go to waste; luckily, there are other options (and I’m not just talking about frying them.)
I want to share a trick my Grandma taught me that can make yer “mater’s” blush, and quite possibly give you tasty tomatoes up till Christmas… (It’s super, duper simple.)
A cool, dry place, like the basement.
A stack of newspapers or brown paper bags.
A large flat surface that will be undisturbed.
So, all you have to do is lay out a few sheets of newspaper, or flattened paper bags and place the tomatoes on top. Make sure they aren’t touching, give them a little bit of space.
After you have all of your tomatoes placed, cover them with a few more sheets of paper or brown paper bags and check them every few days.
When you see a tomato starting to form a little bit of a blush, remove it from the group and bring it upstairs to finish ripening.
If you want to ripen a bunch of them at once, leave the blushing tomatoes there for a while. The ripening tomatoes produce a natural plant hormone called ethylene, which will help push along the ripening process for the other ones. If you want to slow down the process, make sure to remove the tomatoes that show signs of ripening right away.
You’ll want to make sure you keep an eye out for any tomatoes that might form mold and remove them right away if you spot any. If they go unchecked it could spoil the whole batch. (You know the saying, one bad apple spoils the whole bunch…or tomato in this case.)
That’s all there is to it! I’ve been doing this with our tomatoes and it works very well.
In my next post I’ll show you what we’re doing with all our ripe tomatoes. I’ll share our recipe for home-made roasted marinara sauce (It’s soooo good!!!), and how to preserve it using a canner.
It’s been a couple of months since I deleted my Facebook account, while I don’t regret the decision, I have found myself sometimes missing the hours of scrolling endlessly through posts of selfies, cats, food, and dirty laundry. I kid, I don’t miss that shit a bit (well maybe the cats…).
However, I do miss the updates from useful groups that talk about organic food, or clean energy, or self sufficiency.
There is something nice about seeing those kind of uplifting tid-bits every day, and it serves as a reminder that the world isn’t completely screwed. Then again, the cynicism will usually start to creep back up after seeing some of the other (usually stupid) posts on facebook (drunk duck faces and the like).
I don’t have any plans to go back to that flawed facade of a social network, but I realize it’s time to get my nose to the grindstone so to speak and start looking around for some more positivity fuel. Any suggestions?