Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Embracing October

The September weather was so pleasantly warm that I decided to leave the front porch decked out in its summer finery.  But October has most certainly arrived.  The air conditioning is off, nights are cool, Halloween is on the horizon and it’s time for some fall colors on the front porch.  On the last weekend in September, T bought me some pumpkins.  This past weekend, I got some mums.  JT helped me to swap out the plants and the flag.  Saying goodbye to these lovely double begonias wasn’t easy, so they went to the back deck to soak up the last of the sun.

The front porch table has my vintage Halloween tablecloth and a collection of Halloween decorations.

I really love the little pumpkin add-ons that I scored from Plow and Hearth.  Up close, they are charming.

There’s a Halloween flag and a sign that suggests trouble behind the front door.

I've hung a string of cafe lights and set a timer to to turn them on.  Now they will welcome us if the sun sets before we get home.

It’s all come together quite nicely, I think.  I may even find a few warm days for sitting outside.

After all, there's room for a book and a warm mug of tea on that table by the rocking chair.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Real Life Conversations with JT: Role Reversal edition

 The backstory:  For some time, I’ve had a personal rule to limit road rage on the major boulevard in front of school.  That’s a place where I may see students and their parents and it seems wise to avoid flipping anyone off in that venue.  Enter last Wednesday morning, which was a rather stressful commute made difficult by drivers who were either not paying attention or annoying me (or both).

Me (excitable and annoyed):  That’s it! No more white cars may drive on my roads (gunning past two white cars but stuck behind another; preparing hand for non-verbal signal of dissatisfaction).

JT (calmly):   Settle down now; don’t break the no “fuck you” rule right in front of your workplace.  I can hear the conversation now, “Son, who is that crazy lady flipping us off and yelling?  “That’s Ms. Sassafras, mom, she’s the Middle School Assistant Principal.

Please note that the guilty went unpunished.

Monday, October 05, 2015

Dogwood Monday

For all of the Summer of 2015, I posted a picture of my garden every Monday.  In the last few weeks, as the Summer growing season has come to an end, I began to include a picture of the leaves on my dogwood tree.  Change is in the air, but my garden is not quite ready to give up its efforts.  The stormy weekend brought a lot of rain and the garden is looking lush again.

But it’s a mis-placed lush because there isn’t enough warmth or daylight hours to keep the garden going.  I’ve made my peace with that and have turned my attention to the changing leaves on the dogwood tree, a harbinger of the seasonal change that has begun to take hold.

Thanks to the weekend’s rain, Fall will be a bit nicer around here.  Leaves will have a chance to change color before they drop off the branches.  The dogwood is doing its part to make Fall lovely and for the next few weeks, I'll post a picture of it every Monday.  That will remind me to stop and admire the leaves and enjoy the Fall season.

Sunday, October 04, 2015

Stormy Weather and a Blowhard Governor

In mid-week, Hurricane Joaquin got to churning in the Atlantic Ocean.  Forecasts were uncertain but couldn’t rule out the prospect of landfall on the Atlantic coast.  T and I sprung into action, checking our disaster supplies and otherwise setting ourselves up to weather whatever storm emerged.

We are always emergency-ready so this wind-up was a matter of filling our cars with gas and organizing emergency supplies to be in one location.  I was impressed at the degree to which my local utility (PSE&G) and the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management were active on Twitter letting people know what needs to be done to be storm-ready.  They fostered awareness without causing panic.

As the storm began to move further east in the Atlantic Ocean, reducing our risk of landfall, Governor Chris Christie turned up in the state (he is never here anymore), declared a state of emergency and gave local press conferences again.  He promised that the state was ready but in this he was flat-out wrong.  His Administration has done nothing to require gas stations to have generators so that we don’t experience the post-Sandy gas shortages that made things worse in 2012.  Local communities have been given no emergency-management funds to prepare either charging stations or improved disaster communication.  Most of the post-Sandy shoreline re-building happened without a requirement that homes be raised up to resist tidal flooding or, better yet, not built in flood plains at all.  In most shore towns, serious beach erosion prevention plans were neither made nor executed.  The  $100 million worth of NJ Transit train cars we lost from poor storage decisions in Sandy is rarely discussed and our Transportation Secretary was caught up in the on-going Bridgegate/United Airlines bribery and scandal debacle.  On Friday evening, just after 5 pm, he resigned from office.  The Christie Administration was publicity-ready, but wasn’t disaster-ready.  

So, oddly, while I think the citizens are more disaster-aware in the post-Sandy years, our government is less prepared.  We are less prepared because post-Sandy, we know more about what needs to be done and we haven't done it.  This is ironic for a Governor whose name got national attention after Sandy.  It wasn’t really warranted then, by the way.  It isn’t warranted now.

Saturday, October 03, 2015


Last weekend, T and I took Saturday to see some friends and visit some of our favorite places.  We stopped at a farm stand to pick out some pumpkins and apples.  Fall was in the air.

The gourd collection was lovely.  This weekend, I’ll be setting some gourds just like these on my front porch table.

Farm stand mums are one of the best things about fall around here and this fall is no exception.

The apple season has arrived and there are many from which to choose.

I’ve had a hard time saying goodbye to the ease and warmth of summer.  But I am prepared to acknowledge that fall has its charms.

Friday, October 02, 2015

Food Friday: Boursin Super Power

Homemade boursin, known to us as white cheese, is a long-standing favorite at Sassafras House and I make it fairly often.

Most often, I serve it with little homemade garlic toasts that are also a staple at my house.  I thinly slice a fresh baguette, use a pastry brush to apply melted butter to each slice, sprinkle them with garlic powder, dried oregano and basil, and some salt and pepper.  Then I toast the slices for 10 minutes in a 400 degree oven.

This week, in addition to enjoying boursin with our garlic toasts, I sliced some small, sweet peppers in half and filled them with my homemade boursin.  I got the idea from Pioneer Woman and it was delicious.

Thursday, October 01, 2015

October 1: Peach Tree

Leaves are just beginning to turn in my corner of the world.  Part of the change is due to the arrival of shorter days and cooler nights.  But part of it is also due to the stress of the warm, dry weather we’ve had for the last two months.  As the hosta bed behind the peach tree shows, the lack of rain has taken its toll.

The peach tree has earned some time off and I’m willing to bet that by this time next month, most of its leaves will be long gone, left on the grass for me to rake up.

I’ve reluctantly begun to acknowledge that summer can’t last forever.  Fall’s beauty makes that transition a little easier to bear.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Fall Bouquet

Tomorrow is the first of October and fall seems to have taken firm hold of my world.  T treated me to another bouquet of flowers and the lovely colors spell fall with just a kiss of summer glory in the form of yellow roses.

That’s happy.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Curbside Dump

I don’t know if this a thing elsewhere, but here in my New Jersey town things left at the curb are fair game for scrappers and recyclers.  Some of us leave things out for the garbage men to pick up, aware that the items may get grabbed first by the junkers.

Fair enough.

But more often, the items abandoned by the curb are too large to be picked up by the garbage man without an extra fee.  Some of my neighbors still leave these large, undesirable items on the curb, hoping that the junkers will pick them up.  Invariably, this array of discarded furniture is in very bad shape; abandoned for a reason.  Left curbside and exposed to the elements for days and then weeks on end, the items continue to decay and are less desirable then ever.  Sofas, chairs, tables, pressed wood shelves and desks, mattresses….I’ve seen every one of these things left at the curb for weeks at a time.

This scratched leather sofa and its torn cushions are in week two at the curb.  I’ve even seen the neighbor kids sitting on it.  A day or two seems forgivable, of course.  But I begin to grow weary and pray for rain, in the hopes the sofa will float away or embarrass its owners into leaving an extra $20 for the garbage men so that they will haul its carcass to the dump.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Garden Update: September 28

When four days pass without rain, I get up in the morning and turn on the sprinkler to nourish the garden.  As the days grow shorter and the nights grow colder, I feel like I am in a race against time.  But there are tomatoes yet to ripen.

And dahlias that can still be enjoyed.

So, despite all the signs that fall is here to stay, I live in hope and run that sprinkler one more time.