Life as I know It

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San Luis Obispo, California, and South Bristol, Maine, United States
Author ~ Illustrator ~ Lecturer

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Sitting With Leonardo Da Vinci

My grandson Moses walked into the kitchen on Thanksgiving eve and thrust these at me. My first bouquet from him. He was so proud of himself.

How do you describe a tornado? Loud, chaotic, life altering. And after it passes? Calm, silence, debris everywhere. Welcome to Thanksgiving at our little house. I was SO FRAZZLED after two days of preparing and cooking that I forgot to photograph all the food, I forgot to photograph us all crammed into the dining room, and I forgot some of the goodies warming in the oven. Oh well.

The kitchen was clean, the cupboards and refrigerator crammed, and the preparations began (two days before Thanksgiving).

On T-Day, I got up early and fed the tame scrub jays...

...and set out a cut apple for my very spoiled mockingbird.

New candles in the holders and Great Grandmother Abby's gravy boat at the ready.

Grandmother Lovejoy's and my mom's silver all polished and ready for work.

Pressing leaves for place cards and table decor. My granddaughter Sara uses gold and silver pens to write names on these. I have dozens of leaves drying in this huge, old dictionary (our family friend for many years). Oh, and you can't do this with an e-book!

At sunrise, I ran out into the garden for fresh bouquets of scented Pelargoniums (from Mountain Valley Growers); every time someone brushes against them they waft their scent through the dining room.

Table set, bouquets arranged, what am I forgetting?

Oh, that's right...Leonardo...where are you? Leonardo Da Vinci has been our booster seat of choice for two generations. I think he would approve, and you can't do that with an e-book either!

I'm just happy doing the simple tasks that are time consuming, but also so satisfying.

Golden beets roasted. Gosh, I'm so organized and calm. Then... girlfriend Ginny, who is starting to wash the fresh turkey says, "I thought you bought a fresh turkey." "WHAT!, " I yell.  "Of course it's fresh. I ordered it two weeks ago." 
"Well this is FROZEN STIFF," she said. "It will take a few days for it to thaw." PANIC MODE.

Jeff and Ginny run back to Scolari's for a new fresh turkey (their refrigeration unit had gone haywire) and now Ginny is preparing HER stuffing (mine differs), and Jeff is brushing up on how to cook in our solar oven. Nothing like experimenting on unwitting guests. The turkey is in the oven and the kitchen is beginning to sing.

Some garden bounty and that octopus fruit? It is a Buddha's hand citron, which is believed to bestow good luck on a home. 

A perfect day for roasting a ham and cooking a big pot of grains. Jeff sets the solar oven (from Solar Cookers International) at an angle to catch the rays of the autumn sun.

The solar oven holds two large, covered, dark enamel pots, which help retain the heat. The cooker has a thick,  clear lid made from recycled bottles. The temperature stayed at about 225 to 250, which is about what a slow cooker does, but this uses NO electricity or gas. I love it.

P.S. This is in response to a few letters and comments from my blogging friends. It worked GREAT. It truly is just a slow cooker. We put the food (5 pound ham and large serving of Kashi 5 grains) in at about 10 A.M. We removed the food at about quarter to 4 and the sun had moved away from it an hour before, but the food was still hot. All cooked up beautifully. I have lots more experimenting to do. One problem, when you life the lid to check on the progress of the cooking, the temperature drops by about 50 degrees. It takes awhile for it to go back up. Does that answer your questions? Oh, and there are solar cookbooks available that will make it much easier for you.

Max, Gen, and Jeff help with the 3 pounds of green beans...or is Max snacking on his beans?

Gen and Andrea spice up the kitchen decor.

Moses picks up the masher and carries on a tradition once done only by his dad.

Ok, so here is where I failed in the serious chronicling of our wild Thanksgiving. By the time I sat down and we held hands and said why we were grateful, well, the camera wasn't on my mind. Just food. Aching feet. The cacophony of laughter and toasts. What you're seeing here is a stained tablecloth and the young'uns relaxing (they're excellent at that) after supper.

All the guests except Ginny left. The house quieted. The stacks of dishes teetered on the counters. The worm bucket overflowed (I'll have such happy worms).  I stood in front of the refrigerator and wondered where in the world I could stuff the leftovers that the kids didn't take. And outside? It was dark and chilly,  and the mockingbird was silent and sufficiently full of apples. We started a big fire and collapsed.  I felt like, and probably looked as bad as, what the mocker left behind.

I hope your holiday and your weekend were superb. I need to refuel and get ready for the next round. In the meantime, I will be working on my new bird book and also on some stories for Lowe's Outdoor Living magazine and some book reviews for an on-line store. Stay tuned and stay in love with the crazy wheel o' life.



Pondside said...

There's always something new and interesting for me in your posts. A solar oven - I must tell The Great Dane!
Your table looked lovely and the day sounded just what it should have been.

Vicki Boster said...

Oh Sharon - this is fabulous- such a precious insight into your family and traditions. This brings back memories of so many Thanksgivings that we used to have at my Grandmother's home. Only now - as I have gotten older do I appreciate all that went into making that day so special.

That special book is priceless - what a wonderful story that makes -a story that grows from generation to generation.

The photos are wonderful - thank you for sharing with us - some of the things that made your day so very special.


Snap said...

Sounds like a wonderful day. I can relate to the tired feet! I'm quite taken with the solar oven -- to be living in NM again where the sun shines endlessly.... !!!!!

marcia said...

Hi Sharon!
It sounds like family holidays are supposed to be: calm AND chaos !

I hear you about forgetting the camera. We don't always want to be behind the lens, we want to be present IN the moments,enjoying them...maybe your subconscious took over for you LOL.

We'll have to try the solar oven sometime. Very cool!

And do you still want input on your bird book?

happy day and love to you and Jeff

Marigold Jam said...

What a lovely home you have there and your Thanksgiving sounds such fun. I am sure it was worth all the work you put in. Glad you were able to relax afterwards though!


One Woman's Journey - a journal being written from Woodhaven - her cottage in the woods. said...

Your Thanksgiving sounded like mine.
I prepared and baked for 2 days.
Was a wonderful time and has taken me until today to feel somewhat rested.
Solar oven - sounds great.
Next big one will be Christmas Eve breakfast and then January and February will be quiet in the woods.

Unknown said...

I love your quaint California Cottage! Small spaces are made more wonderful when they are crammed with those most dear to our hearts! Your t day sounds wonderful chaos and all...:) And the Solar oven idea is very neat... I've seen them at different Earth Day events and on the Solar Home Tour out west several years ago!

Tell us! How did it work out?

Thanks for the peak at your Thanksgiving~
love and hugs,
Deb ( and Nicolette )

Cindy (Applestone Cottage) said...

Hi Sharon,
I so enjoyed reading this post! You are such a good writer!
Your home looked spectacular and the food sounded so yummy.
That solar oven is very interesting indeed!
Oh, and I love the leaf idea, very clever!
Hugs Friend,

Kay's flowers said...

Sounds like it was a wonderful time. We too cooked for two days and it was all so good. We all have so much to be thankful for.
Love to hear all that you're doing. By the way, I went out and made a snow angel for you. It's on my blog for you to see.

Many blessings,

Lili said...

Look how lovely your table setting was with the little touches of nature's bounty scattered around your home. So beautiful Sharon! I love how your family and friends joined in with the preparations, it makes it so much more meaningful to spend time together beforehand and not a t.v. in sight! We had our first snow yesterday and it got a bit slippery before they sanded. Just thought you would enjoy your weather even more knowing that! xo ~Lili

Judith @ Lavender Cottage said...

After reading the events leading up to your hectic Thanksgiving dinner, I'm one lucky mother that goes to her eldest daughter's home every year for the dinner. (of course I help her)
It was interesting to hear about your solar oven, what a way to save energy.

kj said...

aw sharon, i finally have you set up on my blog list and what a pleasure to fall into your wild and warm thanksgiving day. lucky that that chilly turkey was discovered while a replacement was still possible.

and your friend ginny: i like her lots! i'm glad she's your friend.

happy holladaise, sharon. and here's wishing you peas on earth.

(i couldn't help it) :)


FarmHouse Style said...

It looks and sounds like a wonderful time was had by all.

I believe your Max practices the same technique I use every time I pick berries. One for the bucket, two for me, one for the bucket, two for me...:-)


Claus said...

All holiday celebrations are filled with unexpected events, right? They wouldn't be complete if there isn't at least one unplanned happening. Like the turkey situation you went through!! :-O Looks like all the work was worth the effort. It must have been a great family event. Good for you!
have a great day!!

Thea said...

Sharon, you have such a pretty kitchen. Love your sink. My first house (a rental) had one just like it. Glad you had a blessed Thanksgiving. Some good news, my son is coming home from afghan next week on r&r - that's something to be thanksful for! t

Sharon Lovejoy said...

Hi dear Thea,

Congratulations! I am so happy that your son is coming home soon. You must worry every minute of your life. Thank him for what he is doing.

The old sink was bought as salvage in Berkeley, California. It was made in 1923 by a California ironworks company. I've loved these sinks since I saw my first one at my friend Jane Hogue's house in Odebolt, Iowa. This sink was seriously damaged and rusty. We had it filled in and refinished, but the finish is chipping off. Jeff is going to learn how to refinish enamel and he will do it again this spring.

It took 4 men to move this huge monster, but I love it!


myletterstoemily said...

oh my! HOW have i not run into your
marvelous blog before? your witty
account of T-day had me smiling
throughout, and i'm amazed at all
your ingenious devices and knowledge.

i am going to enjoy every minute

merry Christmas,

Lemon Verbena Lady said...

Hi Sharon,

Sharon, You had Thanksgiving with one of my favorite lefties! I remember doing a report for history in high school about him. Even drew that portrait of him for a cover. Moving on to other topics! Pittsburgh is 39th out of the top 40 cities for sunshine!:( That solar cooking idea won't fly here! Although there is a solar house near us. Wonder if they know that statistic! Maybe not! I didn't take one photo of Thanksgiving dinner either! Enjoyed the process and the food. Maybe will photograph the leftovers. Probably just as good or better. xxoo Nancy;>}

Kat said...

Wow Sharon your booster seat photo brought back a memory I haven't thought about in years. Our booster seat was an encyclopedic/dictionary that I would pour over as a child. The photos of plants and animals could keep me entertained for days. But always on the holidays, when we sat at the 'big person's' table, it would be the booster seat for whatever child needed it. Thanks for the reminder.

Vee said...

So perfectly described, Sharon. I was so busy that even though I thought about pictures, that's all I did...think about them. :D You actually documented much of your day with photos and this great post. Perfect. Love that bouquet that Moses presented to you...what a little charmer.

Lori ann said...

Dear Sharon,
you've outdone yourself again, if this isn't the most charming post ever...sitting with Davinci, so so charming.
I LOVE your house, it's just what mine looks like in my dreams. So warm and welcoming, your special touches are what make it this way. Thanksgiving was full of food, family and love it looks like, what a lot to be thankful for.
Now you get to rest with these beautiful memories!

lots of love,

Kylee Baumle said...

Sharon, thank you for sharing your wonderful day with us! I almost felt like I was there, hearing the sounds and smelling the smells.

Carol said...

I love it that you use Leonardo to hold up your grandchildren! How lovely everything looks and you were very together to photograph all the preparations. Your table is set so beautifully. Terrific solar oven! I wonder if the food tastes different . . . you may have mentioned and I missed it. You sure have very beautiful people in your life Sharon. Now . . . happy Christmas preparations to you. ;>)

Cat said...

Dear Sharon, So glad that you stopped by my blog and that your visit led me here. Our Thanksgiving this year was completely unconventional and I relished in the normalcy and beauty of yours. Sounds like you have a lovely, beautiful and warm life...thanks for sharing.

Thea said...

s - i used to worry so much more...until i learned a secret...the things you worry about most for the most part never's what you didn't even think about! them's the kicker lol but thank you for your kind words for my sonny. i do love him (and my other dear boy!) so very much.

Courtney at SL's No Ennui said...

Solar oven?!?!? AMAZING! I didn't even know they existed!

Your table is beautiful... and RIGHT ON with the e-books! You can't fan the pages and inhale the smell either... one of my favorite parts :)

Dee @ Red Dirt Ramblings said...

There is nothing like precious family to warms our hearts, well that and friends. Much post-Thanksgiving love to you, and I enjoyed reading about your holiday.~~Dee

Beth said...

Sharon, I'm your newest follower. You visited and entered my giveaway, and I visited back...your profile intrigued me tremendously! I have to read more. This is a short visit today to say hello and I will be back very soon to look through your archives. Lovely blog, and I too am interested in plants. I think we have a bit in common.
Blessings, Beth

Anonymous said...

Hi Sharon Dear, A new bird book? I can't wait! Love your hard copy book "illustrations." I'm sure Leo would be proud.

Courtney at SL's No Ennui said...

Can't wait to see what y'all come up with!

the REAL girl said...

I love your blog Sharon- it's whimsical at times and serious at other times- it speaks of cooking, reading, writing, traveling and so much more....
Merry Christmas to you!!