1 House 100 Years

Preparing For The Centennial Of A Place That Matters

Month: March, 2014

Winter Survivors

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Some nice warm temperatures on Saturday gave me an opportunity to prepare a bed for some red potatoes. While outside I also surveyed for winter survivors. I was pleased to see that the Greek oregano that I had started from seed last year had survived the winter months quite nicely.

At first I was unsure if these were oregano plants. While raking aside leaves with my fingers, just a slight brushing gave that intense herby aroma that I enjoy. It is amazing that such a small amount of leaves could pack such a powerful fragrance so early in the season.

Every spring the crocuses amaze me. Their leaves are so inconspicuous because they look like blades of grass, and then one day I will notice a bold patch of color that seems to have appeared out of nowhere. Some of these have been here and quietly multiplying for seven years.

Quick gardening tip: Smaller potatoes can just be planted whole. For these larger sized potatoes, it’s probably best to cut in half and then, with the cut side facing up, give them time to dry out overnight. This gives them protection against micro organisms and diseases in the garden soil.

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These photographs were taken March 2014. The grouping of purple crocuses were planted in the fall of 2007. There were just maybe six little bulbs from this “special offer” from a non-profit group.

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Pre-Spring Collards

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Although it is not officially spring yet, after the cold weather and snow storms that we had in February, I am ready for spring. We seldom get deep snowstorms here in Tidewater Virginia, but last month there was one in particular that buried my collards for over half a week.

A lot of older leaves showed damage from the extended period of cold, but for the younger leaves, that’s just what they needed to improve their flavor. For years now I’ve bought several bundles of young plants from Norfolk County Feed and Seed and plant them early in the fall.

Until last month’s series of snowstorms, I had just about given up on fighting the cabbage moth caterpillars that had invaded my backyard garden patch. There was also another new kind of unidentified caterpillar munching away. The extended cold seems to have done what my daily inspections could not do.

Few dishes are more Southern than “a whole mess of collard greens.” Cooking methods may vary, but there are really only two ways to cook collards: the right way and the wrong way. For me, success is judged by how well the “pot liquor” goes with cornbread. It’s that simple.

Here is my recipe for “The Best Collards Of My Life”. It’s been some time since I’ve posted a recipe, so watch for my next recipe that will be posted soon after these collards have been cut and cooked. It will be “The Best Cornbread Of My Life!”

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These photographs were taken in February and March 2014, about one week apart.

“The Eyes Have It”

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Several very cold Sunday afternoons ago, I visited an antique shop. I had been in the used book shop next door which had no heat at all, so this was a place where I was glad to spend extra time browsing around. There were all kinds of items, all prices.

I found this framed photograph, and just as the tag said, “The eyes have it.” It was a very pleasant pose, and the photographer really had done a fine job. The eyes of the mother and son really did seem to tell a great deal about them individually and together.

The tag also said, “dated 1920.” When I turned over to the back of the frame, there was a pasted label identifying where it was purchased “Llewellyn Books” in “Marshall Mo.” and the date “12-23-20.” Also written in pencil was the number “75” and the name “Mrs. Nichols.”

Since my house was built in 1920, I think this photograph offers a wonderful glimpse into the past. I do wonder about the story behind the photograph. With the date December 23, 1920, I imagine that it was a Christmas gift, perhaps for Mr. Nichols to hang in his office.

It is an mystery how “Mrs. Nichols and Son” from Marshall, Missouri ended up in a small cluttered antique shop in Norfolk, Virginia. Perhaps there is a navy connection. They seem quite fine and still smiling their curious smiles in my humble Portsmouth home. The eyes really do have it.

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These photographs were taken March 2014. Although I wouldn’t encourage anyone to go out and buy a pile of old photographs to decorate their home because it seems too “gimmicky” to me, there is something special in finding an old photograph or two like this one.