Tag Archives: Photography

A Wish To The Moon

By: Mary

Cold rain battered down in intermittent frigid cycles all of yesterday. This morning the white powder of snow has been layering the ground as it falls from a grey and windy sky. Everybody is talking about the weather as it continues to become more difficult with week after week of dismal conditions. My laughing line that I have shared with friends, family and even cashiers at my favorite food co-op is “well, I am starting to understand why they drink all the time in Russia.”

russian park

Laugh as I may when sharing my observation, I have been thinking back upon my time in Vladivostok.

me!

Vladivostok is a sea city. It’s a big city with about 5 million people getting through life in the commotion of it’s city boarders. The city is next to the sea. Because of the proximity to fresh water, many fish are sold at markets, or even on street corners heaped upon a pallet.

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One dear sight to me was on Saturdays when a man would come to the orphanage with a black gym bag packed with presumably fresh fish to sell to the nurses on duty.

The city of Vladivostok is many things other than just a sea city: It’s cosmopolitan in part, and impoverished in part, and it’s also very sad.

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The parks in Vlad confirm this. I do believe that I took these pictures on a random weekday afternoon. Drinking in the parks during daylight hours is common as it is even on a bus or sidewalk or in a grocery store.

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Sunlight is strained and smiles are seldom, but there are still so many beautiful faces.

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GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA

Sunny skies and the beginning of fresh growth can’t solve all problems.

beer and plant

However, it’s one heck of a good jump-start into positivity and production. I wish to the moon for sunlight and the freshness of spring brightness in both Russia and here, in the Midwestern states.

Sunlight and Forsythia

by Kate

In this grey stone city, the forsythia has burst forth into belated flame.

forsythia

It’s difficult to trust the thaw after such a slow and frozen spring, but if the peach blossoms can open to the new warmth so can I.

branch and blossom, garden, pittsburgh

Goodbye, socks. Hello, swing.

baby swing arsenal park

Hello, sun. So good to see you again.

sunglasses 2013

Thank goodness we can leave the huge heaps of coats and sweaters at home when we head out into the city.

exploring the city pittsburgh

The sunlight opens wide the great world outside our tiny home. I can’t wait to explore it.

red doors heinz chapel pittsburgh

 

 

Slow Spring

By: Mary

Though this is just a mason jar filled with last fall’s jam:

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to me- it a vessel filled with the sweetness of summertime. Since making jam last September and October, the supply has slowly been consumed with the exception of one jar that I held on to. That is, until the other night when I used it as a substitute in a blackberry cobbler that my niece requested for her First Communion party.

I don’t usually hoard jam. The problem is that after 6 month of winter I am reluctant to believe that soon enough I will have fresh produce and fruit to use again.

I know I believe in God, and the Blessed Mother, and heaven and hell…. but I am not so sure I believe in spring anymore! This week has brought on more snow and ice. It’s less than amusing to be having to use windshield wipers to clear off snow and heat my car to thaw off the ice that coats it on early Ridge mornings. On Thursday I went to Tractor Supply to pickup more pellets for my pellet stove and was told they were out of them. What the heck? Hello we are still in the midst of a 6 month winter…. I say that with snappy assurance after having been on a long Saturday run with a winter stocking cap on my head this very afternoon.

This morning I showed my god-daughter how to make flowers out of egg cartons while Clare finished off the rest of the jam with some pancakes.

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The jam is gone and egg carton flowers are this spring’s April substitute for fresh blooms.

But next month…

spring green

Might just be a good time for daffodils and apple blossoms

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

and kites

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and dabbling with sheep

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and coveting how adorable they are as lambs,

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and of course, digging in the garden and fields.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALife will bloom soon enough under sunny spring rays,

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but until then I’m hoping the Tractor Supply will keep getting shipments of wood-burning pellets, because this is one slow spring.

Castles and Kings, Galoshes and Spring

By Kate

At midnight, my sister Mary will board a train.

arched door wrought iron gate pittsburgh cathedral of learning

Like Cinderella she will vanish from this city of stone castles, though she’s not likely to leave a glass slipper behind. No, I’m sure the galoshes she liberated from my closet will be firmly laced up on her feet, headed back to the muddy fields of Wisconsin in the spring.

heinz chapel red coat red door

I promised Mary spring in Pittsburgh, a respite from the long shivering wait for warmth to thaw the frozen Wisconsin soil and the pipes in her renovated barn apartment. Snow fell to herald her arrival and snow is falling on the city this morning of her departure. Still, Mary has brought so much warmth and brightness into this cold grey city during her visit this past week.

cold spring bright style

She carried spring with her and gave it to me.

babywearing spring sling

Heading out into the city with two small children in the cold is so much easier with a sister to share the journey.

jogging stroller indy bookshop pittsburgh urban

As you can see, we wore bright colors and dramatic prints to combat the cold.

urban pittsburgh garfield mural

We explored the city, ate Indian and Vietnamese food, perused the spring 2013 offerings at Anthropologie, and attended a Brazilian carnival. I’m pretty sure Mary had plenty of urban living, and is ready to return to her free spirited rural life on Wisconsin soil. However, we did have one city adventure perfect for a farmgirl in the big city. On Saturday, we visited the Pittsburgh Children’s Museum. We loved this installation of pink ribbons cascading from the high domed ceiling….

pink ribbon installation children's museum pittsburgh

…but as an added bonus, we found farmers on display as well.  A number of local farmers had set up shop near the restaurant of the museum, offering CSA shares for the upcoming season. The event was sponsored by the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture, which is a great resource for farmers and consumers in Pittsburgh and all across the state. If you are living in or near Pittsburgh and still looking for a CSA, you can still contact the participating farmers from the CSA Fair here.

I have an urban garden complete with strawberry patch in my backyard and I wasn’t in the market for a CSA this year, but Mary quickly realized that the fair had something else to offer- a chance to meet a bona fide King of the farming world.

pete king GAC country farm king freedom farms

As you may remember, Mary is the Queen of Brussels Sprouts, so meeting Peter King was a real highlight of her urban Pittsburgh trip.

Pete King is one of the (many) famous King brothers from Freedom Farms. I was unaware of this fact, and I’m pretty sure that the most of the people milling about the Children’s Museum were too. I’m not sure how many Pittsburghers watch the Great American Country network on cable, so they may be unaware of the bronzed shirtless young men gleaming like sun gods under a deep blue sky. The second season of their show is premiering April 11th on GAC. The King brothers are perhaps best known for their torsos, but they also have a striking optimism about the future of agriculture, a great work ethic, a deep sense of family loyalty, and a whole lot of high quality local food to offer to the Pittsburgh community.

We had the opportunity to do a brief interview Peter King about fame, family, and farming. I’ll post the interview tomorrow. In the meantime, you can learn more about Freedom Farms on their website here.

For more stories about our farming adventures at Sweet Ridge Farm, check out these links:

My Garden, My Canvas

The Queen of Brussel Sprouts

The King and Queen of Brussels

The Red Vegetable from Hell

Waiting for Spring

by Kate

She’s standing in the window on the radiator dancing, singing, and telling stories.

ballerina baby in the window

Snow is falling softly.

There is a park across the street and this morning she asked me to take her there. It is cold though, a raw wet dismal damp last day of February cold with snow falling like frozen drops of spittle from a bedraggled old white haired witch in the sky.

I didn’t take her to the park. It was all I could do to push the stroller up the hill this morning with a heavy baby in the sling and a huge bag of sheet music slung over my shoulder, headed to play harp for the old folks who have lost track of time. I haven’t.  I am ready for spring.

So I will let her dance on the radiator on this long grey afternoon, while we dream of spring.

Greetings From Texas

by Kate

Greetings from Texas, where the skies are so blue.

texas blue sky

Where the breeze is warm…

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Where the sugar is sweet….

naegelins bakery new braunfels texas

And the meat plentiful.

texas sausage

Where the hands of a 92 year old great grandmother are soft and strong.

abuelita's hands

Greetings from Texas, where there are snakes, and snake farms too.

texas snake farm zoo

In Pittsburgh the snow is falling but on this last day, greetings from Texas! From me….

mural mother child

To you.

Furs on the Farm

By: Clare

As I glance carelessly out the window, giant snowflakes are racing each other down from the sky to the ground, where they have collectively formed a white blanket over and across the wintry Wisconsin woods. The weathermen have predicted more than a foot of snow for today, and every school in the surrounding vicinity is canceled for the day. For a while I was content to wander aimlessly about the house, periodically checking Facebook and trying (and failing) to get the Netflix to load. And then, suddenly, I was hit with a brilliantly irrational..idea..

Next week, Mary is traveling to Pittsburgh to visit Kate for a few days. She’ll be taking along with her an assortment of various items that were left behind by our classy Grandma Slattery after she passed on. Next week Kate will not only be the proud owner of the usual china plates and cups, but also of the two impractical fur coats that our grandmother used to wear, along with a bright red pleather jacked. These coats weren’t originally supposed to go exclusively to Kate, but we knew as soon as we saw them that they just might not be the right fit for winter weather on an organic farm. For our own entertainment, we decided we might give you a little glimpse on the practicality of furs and pleather on the farm..

The one plus of a good fur coat is that it makes for a very classy glass of wine, even if it may be the middle of winter, and you are sitting precariously on a rusted blue metal folding chair.

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The fur coat I sported was heavy and cracking, and it all together felt like I was wearing a blanket of lead.
Also, I am somewhat ashamed to admit I have a bit of a phobia of chickens.

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Perhaps this is because I spent much of my childhood running from the many roosters we owned that liked to chase little kids down and peck at their bare legs.

This is generally my attitude towards them.

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I was wearing a lead blanket (not to mention the stiletto boots I was stumbling around the farmyard in), and I was in the midst of a little house filled with big chickens. While our old lab chewed on a thousand year old carcass of something or other below my boots.

Well played, Mary (who was gleefully laughing as she snapped photos), well played.

Alright, time to play the tough girl.

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Once I got over my discomfort, I began to glamorously collect the eggs.

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Oh, beautiful little egg.

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How, glorious, how positively divine.

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If there’s one thing that we do on the farm in winter, its haul, cut, collect, and stack wood. The wood stove doesn’t run itself!
Maybe this bright red pleather jacket would be a good suit for the job..

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Now that I’ve collected the wood, maybe I should stare off into the distance and ponder life’s greatest mysteries for a while. This coat makes you want to do that – solve mysteries, fight crime.

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The glamour leaves me, along with my sense of balance, as soon as I step outside the barn.

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Maybe this outfit isn’t so practical for hauling wood.

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We couldn’t help but pull out the white, fur-trimmed cape from one of Mary’s recent stunts as a winter bridesmaid as well. And it turns out fur capes aren’t very good for helping big brothers for carpentry projects, either.

Whaddya think, Rob?

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Judging by his tight smile, I’m guessing its a no.

They do look dramatic set against the backdrop of a tall, red-brick German church, however.

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Yes, I’m betting these coats will be much more at home on Kate as she parades through Pittsburgh than weighing me down in my daily work in Wisconsin.

Good-bye, impractical jackets, and thanks for the snow day entertainment!