A new travel adventure begins. This series chronicles the migration from Ohio to a new studio life at Villa Lucci in Mazomanie, Wisconsin.
I have started at least 5 blog drafts since my Easter post at Day 137. All that back story will (like Star Wars) show up eventually in prequels, but today, I resolve to finish one and post at least some semblance of update. Part of the motivation and urgency to “end” the draft and post is in response to comments I got from people who attended my art show opening this weekend. People who have followed the blog and missed it. To them, apologies and promises to do better.
Beginnings and endings.
Though August always makes me a little sad about summer’s waning reign, each week seems to bring another beginning along with the requisite anticipation and excitement. So I focus on the beginning and not the end. In the meantime, the plates continue to spin.
August. Really? August already?! I am resolved to stay home next summer. The precious days of sunlight and warmth, time in the garden, and enjoying the glorious and lush landscape are too short. I’ve become attached to the mindful daily habit of noticing the subtle changes in crops, garden, and weather. With autumn so near, the summer days seem that much more dear.
— The Morning Excursion.
Since Memorial Day, I begin each day with a 3 mile walk down Hwy. F and east on Spring Valley Road. This is a beautiful daily ritual that energizes my body and reminds me that I am incredibly lucky to live in a place so exquisite.
The valley is a huge canvas for traveling weather systems. This morning a sleepy San Francisco fog socked in Spring Valley. As usual, I pushed myself to get out and on the road but relaxed into the rhythm of greeting the neighboring holsteins and making an alfalfa offering to the spotted and ginger-colored horses a half mile down the County F.
Once I make the turn heading east on Spring Valley Road, I am focused on birdsong and reciting my gratitude list. About a half mile further, a stand of tall and fragrant pines offer me shade on sunny days and mark the small incline that
takes me around a beautiful oak woods and through a narrowing of the valley. When I round the corner to the east side, the valley opens up to a lovely farm with meticulously cared for lawns, barns and stacks of wood probably cleared from fields. An 1/8 of a mile further is my midway mark, a John Deere tractor atop a green mailbox anchored in a three foot high stone planter filled with petunias and marigolds.
Once I head for home, my thoughts typically turn to appreciating this beautiful place, the ability to walk this road each morning–and, then my “to do” list. When I return home after my 45 minutes in nature. I am relaxed and ready for a shower, coffee, breakfast — and the day.
— The garden.
Although the garden is maturing and growth is coming to an end, harvest is beginning. I was gone Sunday through Tuesday and came back to the big, lone and beautiful Tuscan
sunflower who had uncovered her gorgeous golden face. The number of red kuri squash
had doubled and the ambitious two cucumber plants were falling over themselves to produce enough for me to begin my first batch of pickles.
I miss talking to my Mom about things like this. Over the years, we often laughed over the irony of me loving to garden after hating what I saw only as the drudgery of weeding as a child. Inevitably, the conversation would round to talking about how nothing compared with the taste of homegrown vegetables, sour cherry pies made from orchard trees, the first rhubarb custard pie of the season, and shortcake covered in sugared black caps gathered from the bushes lining the railroad tracks in LaFox, Illinois.
I consider this first year of gardening at Villa Lucci as a beta garden summer (the NIOSH friends will appreciate that I still stand by the beta approach). No expectations. Just an experiment in what will grow and what won’t (at least this year). 2018’s Villa Lucci Victory Garden will be remembered for its enthusiastic volunteers–the mammoth sunflower, prolific squash and relentless mint. Looks like I will have a bumper crop of cabbage, broccoli, brussel sprouts, and tomatoes. The swiss chard, beans, beets, and seed grown basil were less impressive and I have no idea if my two rows of gladiolas will
bloom, but their leaves are healthy and plentiful. We’ll just have to see. The zinnias and cosmos are blooming but I have no idea about a third flower planted from seed strips. The kohlrabi did well and has been harvested. The little kitchen garden I planted with free or nearly free herbs purchased after July 4 is doing very well and I will be making pesto next week. Ah, to be a farmer.
— The Muchmore Kitchen.
The Muchmore Kitchen tradition continues at Villa Lucci. February was experimentation
in pasta and biscotti. March was Thane Thompson’s bread clinic. In May, I played with pickling cabbage and brussel sprouts for bloody mary’s. And, in June I picked my first Villa Lucci rhubarb for Mom’s rhubarb custard pie recipe.
Last week, I froze kohlrabi leaves and made one extremely valuable jar of blackcap jam. Then came the art show opening reception.
— The art show.
Villa Lucci Studios had a soft launch last Sunday at an opening reception for my one person art show as Bailey’s Run Winery’s August Artist of the Month. About 50 friends, relatives, and supporters of my art came out to see a body of work spanning 40 years.
Many were friends from past lives at Swiss Colony, UW-Platteville, Madison television, regional bandmates, business associates from the area, and UW grad school.
On Saturday, I spent the entire day making mini-cheesecakes, tiny pumpkin pie tartlets, and double chocolate and pecan biscotti bites. Around midnight, I went outside to pick dried lavender heads from my plants to make a syrup also flavored with a little bit of blackcap jam for a drizzle on the cheesecakes. All this for the Sunday opening reception. Luckily, I have people here to help. Dear friend, Kathy Krusiec, baked exquisite chocolate tortes and bussed the dessert table.
Despite early predictions that the temps would be in the 90’s and storms would rock New Glarus where the winery is located, the weather was fine both in the winery and on the
porch facing the valley.
The reception ended three weeks of insane preparation including designing a studio logo, having cards and labels printed, framing 64 pieces of art and cataloguing, labeling and inventorying over 100 pieces artworks. The opening is over but the
show goes on through the end of the month. If you are in the area, stop in. I’ll post the website as soon as I have the initial artworks and information uploaded.—Big milestone met. Check.
Not one to let an opportunity pass, I’ve signed on to sell at the first Bailey’s Run Art Marketplace on August 18 and 19. So I begin the preparation cycle again, finishing painted decanters and other eco-art products and artwork to sell at the winery in about a week. Why build
inventory over a year, when you can make yourself only slightly crazy in a month? All that said, having the studio business set up will leave room for focusing on the big event of February 2019—the wedding of my youngest, Thomas, and his love, Cassie.
— The wedding.
Hard to believe my little ginger is already of the age. Having lost my Mom and some other significant people over the last two years, it is wonderful to be looking forward to
this joyful time. So glad to be back in Wisconsin to be part of all the pomp, circumstance, silliness, and fun. I try to remember to watch it all closely so that the memories are complete and permanent.
I get a little panicky when I realize how fast my “peaceful” phase of life is passing. I’ve always been a “carpe diem” kind of girl, but my current strategy has expanded my mantra to include “savor the moment.”
Next time: A stab at prequels.