Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Her Royal Hurricane, Sandy!

The greenhouse and Witch Hazel tree, ready and waiting for H.R.H.Sandy to arrive.

A footnote of October's whimsy and beauty before it all went south.
First, there was "Snowmeggeden," a couple of years ago.  Then, there was the longest, hottest July accompanied by the longest, hottest, muggiest power outage, this past summer, I think I've ever lived through and, in the last few days, we have faced and conquered "Frankenstorm" (a.k.a. Her Royal Hurricane, Sandy).  Geesh!  What's next?!  Okay...I already know the answer to that question..."DON'T ASK!"

Sure, last week's beautiful weather and lovely autumn colors lulled us into a false sense of security.  Yet, it seems that the extreme sports we see on television, like motocross, spelunking and skiing down mountains ahead of an avalanche now face some competition when it comes to the extreme weather we can all experience in our own backyards.

The gazebo, tied down and holding it's own in the pouring rain.
Just snoozin' while H.R.H.Sandy snuck in through the back gate. Some watch dog, huh?!
The last twenty-four hours ended a week-long wait for what the meteorologists warned us would be bigger than we could imagine and their warnings didn't disappoint us or, at least me.  Here at Blooming Hill, it all started out innocently enough and we were ready with our brand new generator that promised even running water for flushing toilets so, bring it on!

Leaves on the shop's front porch floor after H.R.H.Sandy's departure.
A river runs through it, around it and any way it pleases!
And, on it brought with the power going out around 7pm last night and not turning back on until around 10:30am this morning. (Thank you, Dominion Virginia Power Company, for not making it any longer than that.) Her Royal Hurricane, Sandy also brought with her a sloshing six inches plus of rain and relentless wind, here at Blooming Hill--PHEW!--What a night.  It was even raining in both the living room and family room fire places while water also decided to make a grand entrance in our otherwise always dry basement.  Surprise!  However, we were too clever and quick for H.R.H. Sandy to make any real appearance down there.  Thank goodness for lots and lots of old beach towels and especially the "Shop Vac."

Blooming Hill's umpteenth fallen tree of 2012.
The "Chainsaw Maverick" totally in his element
A tired and tentative labragator in the rain.
So, we awoke to find a river running through the property, down the hill, surrounding the shop and skipping over stones, branches and rocks, spilling into the culverts and ponds farther afield. Not only that, at the top of the driveway, H.R.H. Sandy left her calling card as only she could, a toppled tree.  At least the wind had subsided by this morning but, the rain just keeps on raining.  Even the resident "labragator"  was beginning to look a little tentative and thoroughly over all of this moisture.

Work, work, work! Always work!
Almost finished but never really done and, never boring here at Blooming Hill.
Yet, I know it could have been worse, I mean way worse and my heart goes out to those in Delaware, New Jersey, New York and Connecticut with a prayer for them to be safe, take care and be vigilant...extreme weather is only getting started.  We still have to get through this coming winter that's already throwing out all kinds of extreme cues and while H.R.H. Sandy has left the building, so to speak, Her Supreme Highness, Mother Nature, is rolling up her sleeves and getting down to work.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

What are Sisters For?

"Fall into Lavender Dessert Tea under the garden gazebo.

Tucker and I sharing a quiet moment.
After four events in three weeks and through all kinds of fall weather from sun and wind to rain to freezing frost and back to sun and wind again, Tucker and I need to sit down and take a breather.  Don't get me wrong.  I thoroughly enjoyed myself but I haven't sat down for more than ten minutes since somewhere around October 2!  In fact, by early last week, I had to call in the Calvary (my sister Chris) in order to get soaps, pomanders, pumpkins and everything else in order for one of our last big celebrations of this year's lavender harvest...The 2012 Loudoun County Fall Farm Tour!

Chris already in action after just arriving last Wednesday night.
Ohhhh...my artistic loved ones!...sighhhhh.
Who remembers TAB?  I didn't even know they still made it!
The Calvary, you say!?  Yes!..The Calvary and she arrived all smiles and full of energy.  We wasted no time in getting her started, before her energy could even think about waning. After all, what are sisters for if she can't come to your rescue and start painting as soon as she sets her suitcases down and grabs her favorite beverage...I did mention that she is my older sister, right?...TAB?...REALLY??

Tote those chairs, lift those tables!

I'm not sure, but I think I heard Chris whistling while she worked.
Chris with her current favorite nephew...sorry Kevin!
We had her doing everything from organizing cards to cleaning windows...And then, she, for whatever reason, noticed that she was the only one working as I piled on more and more tasks. So, I threw in P.Lorenz, just for good measure in the crafting process, just so she wouldn't think we were taking advantage of her.  I even got her to Tucker sit a little.  Then we gave her a Blooming Hill Shirt to wear. It made her feel all the more special...Older sisters, they are so gullible.

 The fork goes on the left side!
P. Lorenz and I were really busy!  Of course, we had to do some taste testing!
Anyway...where was I?  Oh yeah, then I made some more sad, sighing sounds and laid the back of my hand to my forehead, which totally worked, and she immediately went down and whipped the shop into Farm Tour readiness just in time to set up all of the chairs, tables and teacups on the patio for lavender-honey ice cream and apple pie or lavender scones and vanilla ice cream, topped off with tea and lavender-infused apple cider, all for Farm Tour guests to savor and enjoy!...MMMM....MMMMM....Good!

Loving sisters and the calm before the storm.
Back to the sister saga...We weren't through with her yet.  When the guests started coming, we had Chris running solo and after a few technical difficulties with the IPAD,  and us completely ignoring her desperate phone calls, only from time to time, for help (she is a retired elementary school teacher--she should be used to crisis management, don't ya think??) Okay..Peter and I  were really busy serving up dessert, lavender style for two days of lavender-infused bliss.  And we had to make that look effortless, too...oh Chrisssss!

Tote those chairs!  Lift those tables, again!
Never a younger sister to waste a single moment of older sisterly love and sympathy, I again sighed and ran my fingers through  my hair and tried to look my most tired so big sister Chris, never hesitating, once again jumped into action and helped clean up.  I tell you..this little sister thing is a sweet deal!

So, I'm thinkin' that will not fit into her suitcase.
Of course, the best shopping is right here at Blooming Hill.
Oh, don't feel sorry for her...I did give Chris the day off this past  Monday after the Farm Tour and let her browse a few shops, but, for whatever reason, it seemed as though she could hardly wait to be on her way back to Wisconsin, her own home and possibly some peace and quiet.  See you in the spring for that Farm Tour and Virginia Garden Week and The Leesburg Flower and Garden Show and.... and...Miss you already, Chris!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Pumpkin Revelry

A pumpkin tower teetering on a tree stump.
"Oh, Great Pumpkin, where are you?!" asks Linus in, It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, as he waits, faithfully, in a pumpkin patch by himself, after Lucy gets up and leaves in disbelief.  Who isn't rooting for Linus to be right??? And, who doesn't want to believe in the Great Pumpkin???  Certainly not me since I love pumpkins--all sorts of pumpkins from the homespun and "au naturale" ones to the fanciest, glitteriest and most sophisticated designer types somehow engineered and designed by the 21st Century farmer and/or crafts person.

"Folksy Pumpkin" Sign
Don't forget splendid gourds!
Pumpkins, squashes and gourds, painted by nature, abound at nearby farm stands for people to come and be inspired, and perhaps, pick up a few to take home.
A plethora of petite, pretty pumpkin gourds.
I love roaming through pumpkin patches, browsing in pumpkin stands and even rooting around the grocery store bins for pumpkins, squashes and gourds with unusual stems sprouting from the tops of their "warty"and misshapen, striped and speckled forms.  To me, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and the perfect find comes only after the thrill of the hunt.  Each pumpkin from the plainest to the most colorfully detailed is fall's answer to spring's Easter Egg.

Sometimes, it's all in the stem.
Lavender Potpourri Velvet Pumpkins here at Blooming Hill.
A few years ago, I came across the most charming of handmade pumpkins by a company located in Minnesota and their price tag was astronomical, but I had to have one..well, maybe two.  However, since then, I've learned that when necessity is the Mother of Invention, then the mother better start inventing! So, that's what I did and, to put my own creative touch on these "soft as a velveteen rabbit" pumpkins, I fill them with Blooming Hill lavender potpourri.  The Great Pumpkin has nothing on me and I only wish Linus and Lucy were here to see and breathe in these little beauties in all of their October splendor.

Rich autumn colors.
Starry, glittery pumpkin at twilight.

Pumpkins lined up and at the ready at a nearby farm stand.
                    So, even though  I don't have to spend an entire night waiting in vain for the Great Pumpkin to appear, I can still surround myself in plump, luscious pumpkins, either by acquisition, or  of my own making. If you like these little velvet lovelies, they are available here at Blooming Hill while the rest can be found at your friendly neighborhood fall harvest stand or pumpkin patch.  In any case, here's wishing you, your own lavender-pumpkin dreams for a wonderful and bountiful autumn.