In an effort to welcome autumn, I bought a pumpkin at Draghi’s farm stand!  A weird pumpkin, of course.  (They call them “unique” pumpkins.)  This particular kind is actually called a “Knucklehead” pumpkin.  And, I got some Indian corn that’s insanely beautiful.  Each ear is different and super-multi-colored, and one has mauve kernels.  You can’t really see the details properly in this picture.  Both the pumpkin and corn are extra extra gorgeous in the sunlight, but I didn’t get a chance to take a good photo because I bought them on the way home and then had to immediately leave for Pilates.  This is just in the trunk of my car at Draghi’s. :-)  But I will try to post a worthy picture soon!

It was so sunny and pretty out this afternoon, and it seemed like ALL OF THE SUDDEN TODAY all these bright red and orange trees had appeared.  Almost everything is still green, with some cheerful yellow here and there, but then every once in a while it looks like someone took out the brightest crayon in the box and colored in one tree, or part of a tree.  I think this is going to be a really good year for autumn foliage.

In an effort to welcome autumn, I bought a pumpkin at Draghi’s farm stand! A weird pumpkin, of course. (They call them “unique” pumpkins.) This particular kind is actually called a “Knucklehead” pumpkin. And, I got some Indian corn that’s insanely beautiful. Each ear is different and super-multi-colored, and one has mauve kernels. You can’t really see the details properly in this picture. Both the pumpkin and corn are extra extra gorgeous in the sunlight, but I didn’t get a chance to take a good photo because I bought them on the way home and then had to immediately leave for Pilates. This is just in the trunk of my car at Draghi’s. :-) But I will try to post a worthy picture soon!

It was so sunny and pretty out this afternoon, and it seemed like ALL OF THE SUDDEN TODAY all these bright red and orange trees had appeared. Almost everything is still green, with some cheerful yellow here and there, but then every once in a while it looks like someone took out the brightest crayon in the box and colored in one tree, or part of a tree. I think this is going to be a really good year for autumn foliage.

Happy Last Day of Summer! The air today was mild and soft rain fell, bringing down flutters of yellow birch leaves and greening the happy moss. I went for a walk in the yard, on our trail, and down to where the road dead ends. The woods were drippy and acorns kept clunking down around me on the damp, folded, clinging leaves. So much green still here with me, but being slowly joined by the new colors of fall. It was nice.

I’ve been making smoothies out of frozen fruit recently. (I don’t have a blender, but my food processor does a fine job.)  I invented this one right before my trip to Maryland/North Carolina and thought it was pretty cool, so I wrote down the recipe so I could recreate it.

Reasons why I think it’s cool:
1) It contains lots of MATCHA!
2) It’s MAUVE.
3) It reminds me of that idea that briefly obsessed me almost exactly one year ago, about a color that is both greenish and purplish at the same time.  This drink is definitely more purple than green, but it still verges on that elusive color, I think.  You can see one spot near the top left where the matcha isn’t mixed in as well and the green element is revealed.

Oh, also I really like how it tastes, and it’s very tricky tasting because I think it’s almost impossible to identify any of the individual ingredients by tasting it.  Melded together, they form something entirely new.

These are the ingredients:
- 1/2 a frozen banana (this ingredient, especially, disappears and is transformed by the others, but lends a nice creamy texture)
- approximately 3/4 cup frozen local blueberries
- 1 tsp. matcha
- 1/2 tsp. sweet matcha (or just more straight matcha, plus a little sugar)
- 1 square dark chocolate (I use Theo’s pure 70%)
- plain kefir (I use Green Valley Organics, and I don’t measure the amount… just put in enough to blend the other ingredients into a smooth but thick, drinkable consistency)

The square of dark chocolate is optional, I think, but it adds a certain je ne sais quoi that I like a lot.  The little pieces of chocolate do tend to get caught in my straw, though, so that slows down the consumption process.  But I kind of enjoy that, too.

I don’t like very sweet things, and this is not a particularly sweet smoothie.  (None of the ones I make are.)  The only reason I use sweet matcha or put in a tiny bit of sugar is that straight matcha is quite bitter.  The plain kefir is tart, the matcha is bitter, the dark chocolate walks the bittersweet line, and even the blueberries hover towards tart on the sweetness spectrum.  The only genuinely sweet thing is the 1/2 banana, and maybe that’s why it works so well here.  Anyway, it’s all just a really delicious combination in my opinion.  (Plus, it’s mauve.)

I’ve been making smoothies out of frozen fruit recently. (I don’t have a blender, but my food processor does a fine job.) I invented this one right before my trip to Maryland/North Carolina and thought it was pretty cool, so I wrote down the recipe so I could recreate it.

Reasons why I think it’s cool:
1) It contains lots of MATCHA!
2) It’s MAUVE.
3) It reminds me of that idea that briefly obsessed me almost exactly one year ago, about a color that is both greenish and purplish at the same time. This drink is definitely more purple than green, but it still verges on that elusive color, I think. You can see one spot near the top left where the matcha isn’t mixed in as well and the green element is revealed.

Oh, also I really like how it tastes, and it’s very tricky tasting because I think it’s almost impossible to identify any of the individual ingredients by tasting it. Melded together, they form something entirely new.

These are the ingredients:
- 1/2 a frozen banana (this ingredient, especially, disappears and is transformed by the others, but lends a nice creamy texture)
- approximately 3/4 cup frozen local blueberries
- 1 tsp. matcha
- 1/2 tsp. sweet matcha (or just more straight matcha, plus a little sugar)
- 1 square dark chocolate (I use Theo’s pure 70%)
- plain kefir (I use Green Valley Organics, and I don’t measure the amount… just put in enough to blend the other ingredients into a smooth but thick, drinkable consistency)

The square of dark chocolate is optional, I think, but it adds a certain je ne sais quoi that I like a lot. The little pieces of chocolate do tend to get caught in my straw, though, so that slows down the consumption process. But I kind of enjoy that, too.

I don’t like very sweet things, and this is not a particularly sweet smoothie. (None of the ones I make are.) The only reason I use sweet matcha or put in a tiny bit of sugar is that straight matcha is quite bitter. The plain kefir is tart, the matcha is bitter, the dark chocolate walks the bittersweet line, and even the blueberries hover towards tart on the sweetness spectrum. The only genuinely sweet thing is the 1/2 banana, and maybe that’s why it works so well here. Anyway, it’s all just a really delicious combination in my opinion. (Plus, it’s mauve.)

I almost forgot to report on my train reading! I began Fear of Music on the train to Maryland, started to get tired partway through (it requires a certain brain clarity) and switched to Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House (which was very entertaining train/trip reading, but I didn’t think was anywhere near as good as We Have Always Lived in the Castle), finished The Haunting of Hill House over a few days at my parents’ house and David’s, and then finished Fear of Music on the train ride back to Connecticut. I listened to the album at the same time, of course, playing each song before Lethem’s chapter on it. It was really good and I enjoyed it thoroughly. I already knew I loved Jonathan Lethem’s writing, but I’d forgotten why or just how much.

This confirms that bringing three short books is perfect on a train trip to Maryland. I only end up reading two of the books on the trip, but having the choice between three is essential, because I can’t know ahead of time which ones I’ll be in the mood for (Fear of Music was rolled over from the three books I brought on my previous trip) or whether I will want to read them one at a time or switch off back and forth.

Also, I really, really, really like the album Fear of Music now. And it sounds especially great on a train.

I realized it was NICE out (in a crisp sort of way), so I had some darjeeling tea and otap outside on the patio, then went for a walk around the yard and woods! (Marilou found me some buko-pandan otap at Manila Mart, so now I have both that and ube, yaaaay! So excited to have buko-pandan again!) The leaves on the lawn in that photo are not posed at all, BTW—those were their real positions.

I noticed the decorative birdhouse on the sassafras tree (formerly known as the birdie bell tree) has some sticks sticking out of it! Did birds use it as a birdhouse for real???

The black-eyed Susans are blooming like crazy (I didn’t notice at the time, but there’s a cute insect on one of the petals!), and that giant leaf is from Tulip, the tulip poplar sapling. Tulip is starting to get really TALL!

Pics from my walk around Greenbelt on Tuesday. It was a perfect day for it!

My parents are thinking of moving to Greenbelt (where my brother David’s family already lives) because they’re starting to feel kind of isolated in North Carolina (they moved there from Connecticut back in 2006), and I really hope they do. It’s a nice place to visit, and I would love it if my family were more centralized so I could see them all more easily. My sister and her husband and niece June and her husband live in nearby towns and it would be great to see everyone more. Plus it’s close enough so that taking the train down from Connecticut isn’t a big deal. I always semi-hated Maryland when we’ve stayed in hotels, but I loved staying at David’s house on my last two visits!

It’s midnight, and I just got back from 1,000 years at my farmer pals’ house! We had homemade mead; this cool Italian homemade fondue-like thing made out of anchovies, garlic and olive oil (you dip raw vegetables, like broccoli, in it, and it’s pretty amazing); excellent lobsters (from an IGA grocery store in Portland, which I had never been to before); scallopini squash from their farm (John makes them with nutmeg, which is really good), tomato/pepper/homemade feta salad, coffee ice cream, and a nocino comparison taste test (homemade vs. Russo brand imported from Italy, which I brought over, thanks to Dean). We all enjoyed analyzing the two, and both met with 100% approval, but I liked their homemade stuff better! It had a more complex flavor. The Russo kind was more cinnamon-y tasting.

It was cold out this evening, so we had to hang out inside, and I got a little affected by their cats, but the nocino helped me breathe slightly better! (It’s always “for medicinal purposes only,” so that was appropriate!) I’ll be fine in an hour or two, but it would have been better if I’d used my inhaler first—I was bordering-on-wheezy and a tiny bit sneezey. I’ve almost completely outgrown my allergies, so I nearly never use it, but I do need it every few years or so when I visit someone with animals.

John played really good music—Tom Waits, stuff by some guys from Hot Tuna, the Sour Mash Hug Band, and The Band! It all sounded nice and rich and awfully good. Oh, and I brought over some pamphlets my dad gave me and told me to give John and tell him it was “for being nice to me.” :-) One was an old beekeeping handbook from 1923 about caring for the queen bee, and other other was a John Deere farmer’s ledger from the 1930s. John had a similar one from the 1950s, and it was cool comparing them! He loved the beekeeping handbook (they both did) and thought it had a lot of useful information that might be lost today.

(didn’t post this on Tuesday night because I was too sleepy!)

Marilou brought crabs home for dinner and I got to have a real Maryland crab eating experience for the first time!  It was fun and really good, but even more exhausting than eating lobster. :-)

David had to go to parents’ night at school, but Marilou and I hung out and talked LOTS (I really like spending time with her!), and then when David got back at about 10:00, I shared my Fromager D’Affinois cheese with everyone (on SkyFlakes, natch) and Marilou, David and Hunter all liked it.

There was only enough for us to each have two small pieces (I spread each piece on a 1/3 SkyFlake section) but it was still a good cheese-tasting experience!  It was left over from the cheese I brought on the train for my Train Picnic because I got too full eating my other cheese selections!  I got the cheesemonger at Whole Foods to pick them out for me, and they were all awesome. The ones I ate on the train were Uniekaas Robusto (cow), Mitica Drunken Goat, and Cypress Grove Lambchopper.  For FUTURE REFERENCE.

(didn’t post this on Tuesday night because I was too sleepy!)

Marilou brought crabs home for dinner and I got to have a real Maryland crab eating experience for the first time! It was fun and really good, but even more exhausting than eating lobster. :-)

David had to go to parents’ night at school, but Marilou and I hung out and talked LOTS (I really like spending time with her!), and then when David got back at about 10:00, I shared my Fromager D’Affinois cheese with everyone (on SkyFlakes, natch) and Marilou, David and Hunter all liked it.

There was only enough for us to each have two small pieces (I spread each piece on a 1/3 SkyFlake section) but it was still a good cheese-tasting experience! It was left over from the cheese I brought on the train for my Train Picnic because I got too full eating my other cheese selections! I got the cheesemonger at Whole Foods to pick them out for me, and they were all awesome. The ones I ate on the train were Uniekaas Robusto (cow), Mitica Drunken Goat, and Cypress Grove Lambchopper. For FUTURE REFERENCE.

As of late-afternoon yesterday, I’m back in Maryland with my brother David’s family! David and I had a really nice visit with our parents in North Carolina for the previous four days. I’m so glad he suggested going together. It was great being there for our dad’s birthday, and we all had lots of good talks and plenty of silliness, too. It was wonderful being together. We even got to go to a pig pullin’ that a couple from our parents’ church put on! (I requested some of the tongue meat, of course.)

Last night, I decided to stay an extra day in Maryland with David’s family, and changed my train ticket to Wednesday afternoon instead of today. Good thing I did, because there was a downed pole and wires on the tracks this morning, and Amtrak service was temporarily suspended between Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia, so my former train didn’t run anyway!! Hopefully the situation will be back no normal by tomorrow. In the meantime, I’m enjoying exploring Greenbelt center and more time with my family.

David came home for lunch and we walked into the center and ate Chinese food outside and he showed me around a little and then went back to his office and I fooled around on my own. It was a lovely day for walking around, and I savored a delicious creme caramel and coffee outside at the New Deal Cafe, then browsed around at the Co-op grocery store and the library (it’s the same library I used to go to when I was young and lived in Lanham!), and took some photos of the cool architecture. This is a nice little community!

I used Google Maps on my phone and found my way back to David’s house without any trouble, and arrived the back way at the exact same time Hunter was returning home on his bike from school! Then I got to watch him practicing cracking his bull whip out in the yard, which was very cool.

I really like staying at David and Marilou’s house! It’s such a relaxing and welcoming place, and I sleep really well here! Getting up in the morning and finding myself some breakfast while enjoying all the cool and unique architectural details David created is NICE.

David and I are driving together down to our parents’ in North Carolina at around noon. I am really excited about being able to spend time with him! It will be wonderful to see the Gs, too.

On the train to Maryland, I’m passing NYC and I have an incredible longing to reach out and hug it. Miss & love you, New York!

I’m chugging along on the train and I glanced out the window and saw the Milford cemetery, where I went this spring and saw the trains passing by one million times! Hi, John Gaud! :-)

I’m going to start reading Fear of Music now, listening to each song before I read Lethem’s thoughts on it. Fear of Music sounds really good on the train. I was tired and sorta shaky earlier today but I’m starting to feel better already, just letting the sounds run around in my brain and the vibrations of the wheels on the tracks tremble up through me.

Since I’m so ready for my trip, this afternoon I went to two burying grounds in Mansfield (one of which I’d already been to, but the light was nice today so I might have gotten some better photos) and then checked out Cafémantic, a new restaurant in Willimantic I’d heard good things about. I lived in Mansfield Center, quite close to Willimantic, from middle school until after I graduated from college, so I’m familiar with the area, and it’s not a place you’d expect outstanding food, so Cafémantic is a very pleasant surprise.

When I first got there, it was “social hour,” so the menu was limited, but I ordered a Thai Cucumber Salad and a cappuccino, waited until 5, then ordered food from the dinner menu. The cucumber salad was very delicious and set my mouth on fire with chili flakes. I usually don’t like spicy food, but the other flavors (lime, lots of cilantro) were so good I actually didn’t mind too much and devoured it all.

My next course was Chicken Liver Pâté, which was extremely delicious. It came with pork rillette, pickled vegetables, and toasted Farm to Hearth Country Bread. That’s way too much pâté for one person to eat (although I wanted to), so I ate about half and saved my leftovers for Tom. :)

Next I got Tiger-Striped Figs which were orange with green stripes and pink insides. So pretty! They were served with speck, warm goat cheese coated with almond, and a fennel-citrus vinaigrette. Not bad!

My dessert was kind of disappointing, but the “S’more” dessert the guy next to me was eating looked really good. On the waiter’s recommendation, I ordered the steamed lemon pudding, with Italian prune-plum jam and a coconut tuile. The lemon pudding had a nice texture, but it was too bland tasting (I thought it would be more tart and lemony), and the jam overwhelmed it rather than complimenting it. I like how it kind of looks like a rooster head, though!

I liked the atmosphere of the restaurant. It was cool, and would be fun to go to with someone else and share food. (I noticed they have quite a few vegetarian things!) They’re innovative, and are into sourcing sustainable local products. I am pleased and impressed that it’s in Willimantic! Way to go, Cafémantic!

I picked out my books for my train trip to Maryland/David + Gs visit in North Carolina, and chose/created my paint chip strips for bookmarks! Fear of Music and its wet concrete color strip were left over from my last trip, but the others are new. (The orange one really has nothing to do with the book, but it matches the Penguin Orange; plus, I just like it.)

I’ve been playing Fear of Music over and over while packing and doing other stuff tonight, and I can’t wait to read Jonathan Lethem’s book now. The more I listen, the more I love it.

Oh, wow. I just discovered the illustrator Elizabeth Shippen Green (1871-1954) via an old Blogspot blog, Comics Book Stories, when I was searching for something unrelated! I love these three illustrations especially (and their captions!). The last one is called “He Knew That He Was Not Dreaming.”