Sunday, July 20, 2014

from the *

with things that go bump in the night......  
 *bugs *  *
I spent a lot of my childhood on my grandparent's farm in East Hartland, Connecticut
My grandparents, Henry and Libby purchased this ramshackled farm and 167 acres of land in 1941 for $5000
In 1948 they bought an additional 50 acres for $2500

and spent the next three years renovating it 
In 1944, they moved in
and here's how it looked in 1953
Grandpa Henry
Aunt Sandy, Dad, Nanny Lib, Uncle Martin

Grandma Rovetz and Cousin Francie
Pete, Bootsie, Me, and Mom in the chair

Today in Brooklyn
There were family parties, animals, greenhouses, and corn fields, the dogs, and snow up to my waist. There was the huge stone fireplace in the den, and the elegant dressing table and flowered wallpaper in my Aunt Sandy's bedroom, where I always slept.  We picked cherries from the tree outside the kitchen, and raspberries, blackberries and blueberries from bushes all over the property.  
and giant creepy June bugs clung to the screen doors in summer 
it was a magical place
I loved it there and am still sad that we no longer own it

So it's no wonder that I love going to Mark and Ellen's
Mark's Roses
I first went in 1994, invited for an artistic weekend, painting for me, writing for  
Susie, and Penelope
 there I rediscovered the joys, perils, and noises of the country
and the past 20 years I've probably painted every flower in the garden at least once,
in every season 
What's in the Garden  June 30, 2014
Other Side  July 1, 2014
Every flower in the Garden 6.8.11
Asters 9.14. 2009
Winter 1. 23.12
and experienced the pain of painting outside during deer fly season
(basically all the time except winter)
Deer Fly Agony 8.9.08
 Mark introduced me to the obsessive pleasure of playing Dr. Mario,
I don't know whether to thank him or not....he's a pro, way beyond the highest level
I'm still a lowly beginner, but have reached Level 18... YIPPEE!
I love
being able to sit in front of a fire (in the fireplace) in JULY! 
the artistic comraderie I have with Ellen when we're up there to work
picking blueberries and beans from the garden
learning the fine art of grilling from Ellen
 I've seen 
zillions of stars, the Leonides and the Perseids meteor showers
blue herons, thunderous storms, 
Mark and Ellen's huge hedge of lilacs in bloom and covered with monarch butterflies, 
Mr. Lawson's feral goats,
wild turkeys and turkey vultures

and I've
howled at the wolves, 
hooted at the owls
and gotten answered!
there are dragon and damsel flies

 the seven samurai of koi
  armies of cutworms on the road, lots of gunshots from the all the Yahoos, chain saws, earwigs and snakes
and the nightly cacophony of symphonies performed by the croakers, peepers, squeekers, shriekers 
cluckers, and screamers (tree frogs)
with a smattering of baritone and bass from the BULL FROGS
The mundane and the sublime are always happening at the farm. 
Turning the power on in the basement is an adventure, so are the frequent power outages. 

once while washing the dinner dishes, Ellen exclaimed
 "Look Sal, fireworks! Wait a can that be, it's pouring rain out there"  
 lightening hit a tree, it crashed onto the power lines, they started arcing, and sparking with a bit of a fire...the firemen (once we figured out who to call) stood around in the pouring rain reminiscing about the previous owner and digging the pond. They told us, before driving off, that nothing could be done until morning....when the power company would come, and that the fires weren't really dangerous was raining out
The next morning we agreed, it was the best night sleep ever
on my run, one very early morning, I noticed a bright orange truck with a weird name, and three guys, that seemed to be following me.  I thought, oh man, this road is deserted and the nearest house a mile away, I better run fast.... when I told all this to Mark, he laughed and asked, 
"was the name on the truck Asplundh?  They are the tree trimming service, keeping the wires clear...."
who knew
the time we saw cows wandering in the road by the Plumeaux's so we drove up to let someone know. It was an appalachian collection of run down buildings, lots of junk, stys, and animals everywhere. 
We saw a  PIG the size of a couch!  
I got out of the car, distracted by the novelty of what I was seeing, when Ellen suddenly started frantically yelling..."get in the car, get in the car"!  Two men stepped out of the woods from behind the house and were coming towards us, fast.... unaware I said..."But Ellen, look at all the goats" 
and as I jumped in and we sped away she said 
"those aren't goats, those are their wives"
and we both burst out laughing
and to this day, just driving past their sign, we both start madly giggling again......
Which brings me back to our FARM and Agnes Thompsen.  
A petite old lady who was our sometime babysitter/housekeeper.  I liked her, she was sweet. When she inadvertently broke part of my tea set, she bought me an even more beautiful new one.  But my mother fired her when she left me and my brother alone, saying she had to catch her bus home and my mother was running late.  I think I was 7 and my brother 5, probably around 1960
On June 15th, 1965 Dorothy Thompsen was found dead at her Barkhamsted home.  
She had been beaten with a sledgehammer and stabbed with two forks. The cord of an electric iron had been wrapped around her neck.

Police had two suspects -- a young neighbor, Harry Solberg, and Agnes Thompsen, the victim's mother-in-law. Agnes Thompsen was committed to a state mental hospital soon after the slaying, and Solberg was ultimately brought forward as the state's prime suspect. He eventually was cleared of the killing and convicted of a lesser charge at his second trial. Agnes Thompsen, meanwhile, had died of natural causes.

Mildred Savage of Norwich, wrote an award-winning book about the case

Life in the country, never a dull moment

on the 

adapted from Gourmet Magazine

1 1/4 cups sugar, divided
2 1/4 cups heavy cream, divided
1/2 teaspoon flaky sea salt 
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup whole milk
3 large eggs
Equipment: an ice cream maker, ice, rock salt

Heat 1 cup sugar in a dry 10-inch heavy skillet over medium heat, stirring with a fork to heat sugar evenly, until it starts to melt, then stop stirring and cook, swirling skillet occasionally so sugar melts evenly, until it is dark amber.
(this took forever!)

Add 1 1/4 cups cream (mixture will spatter) and cook, stirring, until all of caramel has dissolved. Transfer to a bowl and stir in sea salt and vanilla. Cool to room temperature.

Meanwhile, bring milk, remaining cup cream, and remaining 1/4 cup sugar just to a boil in a small heavy saucepan, stirring occasionally.

Lightly whisk eggs in a medium bowl, then add half of hot milk mixture in a slow stream, whisking constantly. 
Pour back into saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until custard coats back of spoon and registers 170°F on an instant-read thermometer (do not let boil). 
Pour custard through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl, then stir in cooled caramel.

Chill custard, stirring occasionally, until very cold, 3 to 6 hours. 
Put the custard in the ice cream maker, add the ice and the rock salt and start churning, occasionally adding more ice and rock salt.  When fully churned put in freezer to firm up. 
enjoy your ice cream and rock
in honor of 

 July 17th 2014
A fantastic show I saw at the Palladium 1983
 Thanks Ellen and Mark!