Monday, July 2, 2012

And Now Summer *Really* Begins

We're back from our lovely vacation, and I have spent most of the morning and the early part of the afternoon getting the house put back together. I scrubbed and scrubbed before we left, knowing from experience how nice it is to return to a clean house and how depressing to return to a dirty one.

For all my scrubbing, as soon as we brought in the luggage and towels and boxes of books, the house lost its clean and tidy vibe. It will probably take days, even years, to return it to its former glory. And given the heat and the humidity around here, well, girls, I don't know if I'm up for the full job. I may watch "From Larkrise to Candleford" DVDs and knit instead.

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One job I'll need to be up for soon: processing tomatoes. The vines are loaded down with them, and I predict we'll start seeing ripe, red globes by the end of the week. I plan on canning gallons of spaghetti sauce until I can't stand it anymore and just start freezing tomatoes whole. I made a lot of very fine sauce from frozen tomatoes this winter. All you do is thaw them in bowl, then throw them in a pan with some sauteed onions and garlic, break the tomatoes up with the edge of your spatula, and then let the sauce cook down until it's thick enough to do something with. Easy as pie.

I need to take some pictures of the garden to show you. It's gone wild, as it does every year we get enough rain. Lots of green beans and lima beans and little melons and HUGE zucchini (you really have to stay on top of the zucchini or else they turn into cavemen clubs overnight) and yellow squash and crowder peas. It's a bit much, really, but fun.

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Have you read any books by the English writer Miss Read? She wrote tons of them, mostly about two villages, Fairacre and Thrush Green. Her first book was published in 1955, and she continued to publish until the 1990s. She died earlier this year at the age of 98.

I have just begun my odyssey with Miss Read (real name: Dora Jessie Saint). I checked out Emily Davis from the library, and am enjoying it very much. It's a fairly straightforward, unadorned sort of book, but it satisfies my anglophile soul. So far there have been several mentions of knitting. Need I say more?

Here's a description of Miss Read's oeuvre from Wikipedia, in case you think you might be interested:

From 1955 to 1996 Saint wrote a series of novels centred on two fictional villages, Fairacre and Thrush Green. The first Fairacre novel appeared in 1955, the last in 1996. The first Thrush Green novel appeared in 1959. The principal character in the Fairacre books, Miss Read, is an unmarried schoolteacher in a small village school, an acerbic and yet compassionate observer of village life. Saint's novels are wry regional social comedies, laced with gentle humour and subtle social commentary. Saint was also a keen observer of nature and the changing seasons.

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No matter how much I enjoy our time at the beach, by the end of the week I'm ready to come back to my little world and my little dog and my messy kitchen with its tiny oven and the window over the sink where I can watch my garden grow a little wilder every day.

It's nice to be home.

12 comments:

wayside wanderer said...

There is nothing like coming home. It's the best part of leaving. I'm so jealous of your tomatoes. Please do post pictures of your garden. That would be fun to see. :)

Pom Pom said...

I keep meaning to check our library for Miss Read books. I think I would find some. They are hard to get on Amazon. I find them so pleasing, too!
I knit in front of Lark Rise to Candleford this afternoon. I love those people and that land!
I hope you have some easy breezy days, Frances. What did Travis do while you were away?

Heather said...

As Dorothy said, "There's no place like home." I never knew you could freeze tomatoes whole. Thanks for the tip!

GretchenJoanna said...

I'm glad you're home! I did try Miss Read a long time ago...maybe now in my older age I would like her better.

Gumbo Lily said...

Tomatoes! Have you ever tried to roast them in the oven. O so delish! I put them in at 400* and sprinkle with oil and course salt and bake them for about 30 min. Throw into salads or on pizza or on a sandwich. Whatever. Especially good to do with millions of grape or cherry tomatoes.

Messy houses prevail in summer. I always imagine we are living in a tent in the summer with dirt coming in and out and people mostly living outdoors.

Happy Homecoming!
Jody

magsmcc said...

Oh I am glad you're home. I needed you to be home before I go away! I used to read lots and lots of Miss Read, mostly when I was at school, and I drew little maps of villages like her villages and imagined all the goings on and intrigues and thought I'd write books like that one day. Oh well! Now I love Barbara Pym in the same way. Grittier, darker portrayals of women, but all in that same, very lovely, very civilised rose-tinted portrait of English life. The last book of Read I read was last year- one about a school teacher moving in to a tiny house neside the school and heating water for her tin bath. Didn't get much further than that. Too traumatic! I'm glad you're home- proof that nine year old deep thinkers can be survived!

Jo said...

I love the Miss Read books. As a homeschooling mother my teaching style was much like hers - easily distracted, and much given to going on nature walks when we all got tired of book work. My housekeeping standards similar to hers as well!
I am reading John Buchan's Richard Hannay books at the moment. Sort of like Biggles for grown-ups. Thoughtful, and wonderful descriptions of English life in early 20th century.
All the best bottling those tomatoes.

debbie bailey said...

I love Miss Read. Her books are so English and so feel good. I think you'll love them. I agree with you about coming home after a vacation, and I always clean up the house BEFORE leaving. I can't stand coming home to a dirty house plus having all the unpacking and laundry. Yuck! I unpack as soon as I come through the door and get it over with in no time at all.

Amanda said...

I also love Miss Read books. Just realistic enough without adding details I don't want to think about -- makes for truly relaxing reading! And the heroines are so likeable.

Tracy said...

Home is always the best thing after a trip away, isn't it.

I'm going to live my vegie gardening dreams through you - so you'll need to share all the gory details of your tomato glut and processing!!!!

I'm off to Australia Zoo very shortly (Steve Irwin's zoo) so I need to go have breaky and get moving.....

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Anonymous said...

I adore the Miss Read books. I love the gentleness of them. A friend introduced me to the 'Mitford' Series by Jan Karon and they've become a firm favourite. I've just started reading the country-style books by Wendell Berry and am thoroughly enjoying them. I rather think I see a pattern here, don't you?
Kay