Saturday, August 30, 2008

to your imagination

Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.

You do not have to walk on your knees

for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.

You only have to let the soft animal of your body

love what it loves.

Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.

Meanwhile the world goes on.

Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain

are moving across the landscape,

over the prairies and the deep trees,

the mountains and the rivers.

Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,

are heading home again.

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,

the world offers itself to your imagination,

calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting--

over and over announcing your place

in the family of things.

--Mary Oliver

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Tipsy the Teletubby

I've forgotten what brought it up, but David and I spent a little while in the car the other day trying to explain to our 9yo son what the Teletubbies were.

Just the fact that he heard of neither the Teletubbies nor Barney makes me feel like a success as a parent.

Instead, our then-toddler spent his screen time with those martini-swilling detectives Nick and Nora.

So... of course, we reasoned that Tinky Winky needs a little skewer and olive in his headpiece--and a new name: Tipsy (instead of Dipsy).

David and I were so proud of ourselves for coming up with this idea--but, well, it is no surprise that the brains at the Simpsons had already thought of it. (Love the woman symbol, too.)

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Happy 13th, David!

David and I celebrated our wedding anniversary by letting our new socks snuggle together on the couch:

Mine is a 64-stitch top-down sock with the cuff and foot top knit in garter rib (k2p2 on one round and knit straight on the second round). David, who is a more experienced sock knitter than I am at this point, used a regular 2x2 rib for the cuff and a stockinette heel.

I can't believe our feet have been co-mingling all these years...

...and for more than nine of them, there has been a third pair of feet right along side:

Nothing could ever be better than having these six feet together in one family!

Monday, August 25, 2008

BYOG--Bring Your Own Garden

Son has inspired me to create a fancy lunch box for Papa/David. After spending the weekend in our garden, at our friends' farm, and at the farmer's market, I decided to put together an all-local meal so David could take a little of the garden along with him.

* * *

To start his meal is a big chopped garden salad--all from our garden. On a bed of swiss chard leaves and stems are various other raw vegetables, including diced green beans, yellow zucchini, and chioggia beet. In the little container is red pepper dressing.

* * *

Counter-clockwise from the top of the Laptop Lunch:

Lima beans (from our local farmer's market) kissed by homegrown red pepper lips

Sauteed beet greens (from our own garden)
topped with twice-cooked grits rectangles* (the cornmeal was grown and milled at our son's camp)
with a couple of cherry tomatoes (from our local farmer's market) squished in the corners

Scuppernongs (from the farmer's market we visited while we were on vacation)

Blackberries (from our local farmer's market)

* * *

And in David's water bottle is lemon verbena tea brewed with a touch of our homegrown stevia. Both verbena and stevia are very easy to grow as long as you pinch them back regularly, and they are make a fantastic combo.

* * *

*Twice-Cooked Grits are just like polenta squares. Chill your leftover morning grits in a greased container. When the grits turn into a firm mass, dump it out and slice. Pan fry the slices in a bit of oil.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Guest Post: Artist's Palate

Food runs in the family. Thanks, Son, for the following--especially your amazing title pun.

* * *

I love looking at the pictures of packed meals at the Vegan Lunch Box--but because I am homeschooled, I usually don't have to pack my lunch. Today, to celebrate my first day of homeschool, I packed a picnic for myself.

I decided to pack the fixings for Faces, one of my favorite lunches. In addition to my bamboo spreader and a cloth napkin, I took rice cakes, peanut butter, raisins, dried coconut, two blackberries, a few cherry tomatoes, some sweet red pepper slices, and a few green beans. I also packed two tiny "donut" peaches that we found at the farmer's market.

I unpacked my picnic in the backyard and started spreading primer on my canvas.

Here are the portraits I made today:

And here is the sculpture:


* * *

I also like to make faces with hummus instead of peanut butter. Bean sprouts, carrots, olive slices, cucumbers, and broccoli pieces make great decorations.

Sometimes I make monsters with long teeth, aliens with antennae, and animals with whiskers.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Socks for Son

My 9yo son has been asking for a pair of handknit socks for a long time. I finally made him some--which are already almost too small. (His feet are growing so fast...)

These are top-down socks with a 1knit-3purl rib for the ankle and the top of the foot. The yarn is the very pretty but very splitty Tofutsies yarn, knit on size 1 needles with a 64-stitch cast-on. I like how the pattern works with the slightly-shaded yarn.

And Son likes that he finally has some handknit socks of his own. Coming up: pictures of socks I knit for myself and socks that David knit for himself!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Harvest Time

We feel like squirrels, preparing our larder for the coming winter.

The autumn Mandan Bride corn is ready for grinding (or just admiring):

Even some of the Tiger Eye beans are dried--and almost as lovely as the corn:

Our backyard is tiny, so the corn and beans we managed to grow are really very little more than symbolic. But I am over the moon that we can have our mostly-vegan friends over for an all-garden-grown feast, complete with homegrown protein. I'm thinking about hosting them for Sukkot, the Jewish harvest festival and probably my favorite holiday, when we build a little shelter in the backyard and eat our meals in the midst of our plenty.

How exciting! I can't wait to pick delicato squash, dig our potatoes, and harvest the amaranth!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Voice from the Past, Voice from the Future

Really--I have been on the computer this month!

After enjoying our lovely vacation in the mountains of North Carolina, we came home only to rush off again for an un-thought-out drive to Rhode Island. David was giving lectures at a small conference on breastfeeding--and because he's going to be traveling away from us for much of the next month, Son and I decided somewhat spontaneously to join him. We came back and unpacked, only to discover I seem to have lost my camera cable in all our traveling. And I think I may be coming down with something. I'm feeling a little too queasy to write a decent post...

Shall I continue with my excuses? Blog will return in full force shortly.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Paradise Regained

We're home in Takoma Park now, but we have plenty of wonderful memories of our very peaceful vacation.

Despite the initial setback in our blueberry-picking plans, we succeeded on our second attempt.

We spent the morning of perfect weather hiking about an hour or so along a wide mountain path and found ourselves at an open area where several trails meet. Blueberry bushes filled the central area and lined the paths.

Although I ate at least half the berries I picked today, David had a bit more self control and filled his quart-sized container with small intensely-flavored fruit.

After our lovely morning walk, we got in the car and started back down the mountain. We pulled over at a few scenic lookouts, including Looking Glass Rock...

...and Looking Glass Falls.

* * *

While we took pictures of the beautiful mountain views, an Asheville reporter took pictures of us taking pictures for a report the local newspaper was doing on the popularity of photography by tourists along the Blue Ridge Parkway. So I thought it would only be fair to take a picture of him. Unfortunately, I did not take a picture of him taking a picture of us taking pictures....

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


Recently I found a wonderful group of bloggers, the APLS:

My first reaction was to think that, while I loved peeking into all the blogs listed in the membership roles, I could not call myself an Affluent Person Living Sustainably.

Green Bean had already thought of the issues I had:

1. The label of "affluent" is sometimes an awkward or embarrassing one, sort of like "smart" was when I was a young nerd. Am I really affluent? Well---certainly not compared with some of our friends with a lot more money to burn than we have. But, well, at the same time: yes. We own a house with a safe mortgage and low payments, we save without struggle for our son's college and our retirement, we live both comfortably and beneath our means. But even for folks who feel like they may just be squeaking by, check out this calculator to put things in global perspective. If you are reading this post, I'll bet you will easily fall into this category of affluence as defined by the global scale.

2. Can I really say I am living sustainably? Absolutely not. On the other hand, do I work towards it, complete with all the missteps and mistakes, on a daily basis? While I certainly can't claim that I am doing nearly as much as I need to do, one of the things that is most powerful about the group is that it allows other people who are interested in making changes and trying to do better to find each other, to inspire each other, to challenge each other, to feel like a community.

As Green Bean writes, "There is something special about those of us who want to live with less in a society that urges us to live with more." No matter whether we have the cash for it or not, this society tells us that hope comes in a bottle and happiness comes in a jar, that we can buy a better life.

Instead, APLS are learning that we must, for the sake of our families and communities and planet, make choices that can help us build a better world instead of individually living large. Some of those choices may feel like hardships. Some choices require thinking in order to make the change but don't require any feeling of sacrifice. Other choices may feel like pure joy once we can make that first step forward.

It is not the doing but the trying that defines us as APLS.

* * *

As I recognized that I do qualify for the APLS label, I started playing out what sustainability means. Of course, many other participants started thinking about the same question.

Most of us in the basket of APLS are probably thinking about living sustainably as individuals and as families. As I chatted with David as we hiked through the Blue Ridge mountains picking wild blueberries, we started chatting about the fact that we could never be truly sustainable without the entire interactive globe working together towards a just future. Whatever steps we might be making towards a better life, it requires systematic change to produce true sustainability.

As I was mulling over these questions, I was reading Richard Heinberg's Peak Everything: Waking Up to the Century of Declines. One of his chapters outlines the meaning of "sustainable" fairly rigorously:

1. A society can avoid collapse by finding replacement resources. But in a finite world, the number of possible replacements is also finite.
2. Population growth and/or growth in the rates of consumption of resources cannot be sustained.
3. To be sustainable, the use of renewable resources must proceed at a rate that is less than or equal to the rate of natural replenishment.
4. To be sustainable, the use of non-renewable resources must proceed at a rate that is declining, and the rate of decline must be greater than or equal to the rate of depletion.
5. Sustainability requires that substances introduced into the environment from human activities be minimized and rendered harmless to biosphere functions. In cases where pollution from the extraction and consumption of non-renewable resources that have proceeded at expanding rates for some time threatens the viability of ecosystems, reduction in the rates of extraction and consumption of those resources may need to occur at a rate greater than the rate of depletion.

Although Heinberg's axioms might sound abstract, playing them out when we are thinking about our own choices (for personal action as well as political action) leads to some guidance--some of which is a bit more complex than the "just-change-your-lightbulb" kind of advice:

Choosing to reduce our use of resources--those that are not renewable but also even those that are--seems essential. Replacing our old perfectly usable plastic cabinets with brand new beautiful renewable bamboo might NOT be the most sustainable choice, as axiom three points out. Learning to make do with less is almost always the better choice, even if it doesn't satisfy our craving to buy buy buy.

Heinberg's first axiom also really resonates with me. So often we assume some new technology to save us from ourselves. I always swallow hard--in the difficult recognition of truth--when James Kunstler mocks the Google employees who answer his disturbing vision with "Dude, you're so, like, wrong! We've got, like, technology!" Our hopes for easy answers may be met this time with plug-in cars and LED lights--but these are fundamentally only short-time band-aids.

True sustainability requires changing what we see as our prime directive. It cannot be acquisition any longer.

* * *

Heinberg acknowledges that his axioms do not address issues of social equality at all, since he is not trying to "describe conditions that would lead to a good or just society, but to a society that can be maintained over time." I understand his point--but I'm not sure I agree with him that justice (and its corollary peace) is not absolutely required for society to be genuinely sustainable. Likewise, without a strong sense of community, can human society be truly sustainable?

* * *

In the abstract, the meaning of the word sustainable has no relation to everyday challenges. Sustainability is not defined in opposition to some instance of lack of sustainability.

But when it comes down to specifics of our actions, what we define as sustainable is what we do in the face of a known threat. If we know climate chaos as a result of carbon and methane emissions is a threat, we try to address it (as axiom five would have us do). If we're worried about Peak Oil and the depletion of fossil fuels generally, we're going to be responding to axiom four. And so on.

We absolutely need to address these problems in our efforts to live a sustainable life. But I wonder: could we think more creatively if we sometimes stepped aside from our current problems? What if, instead of trying to tinker with what is broken, we tried to imagine a truly equitable and sustainable community? What actions would that require us to make?

Perhaps this will be my question for my atheist version of teshuvah.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Still Eating

We planned another all-local meal for our vacation Shabbat dinner. The meal was a recap of one we made last year on our North Carolina vacation (with a slight variation): local trout, swiss chard, bright yellow zucchini, onion, and tomato, cooked in a little leftover brown ale. Delicious, especially given that the only seasonings we had access to were salt and pepper. Just goes to show how important fresh ingredients can be.

Dessert? Local blueberries and locally-packaged pecan shortbread (a favorite childhood treat).

* * *

It has been a lovely vacation, but it is coming to an end. We are picking up our son at camp in just a few hours. I am missing him very much and worrying about him in the way only parents can do.

I still have lots of stories about what we’ve seen, heard, read, and knit while on our trip. Because of a very spotty internet connection, I’m a bit behind on the blogging. I am certainly missing reading everybody else’s blogs and I am really looking forward to being home. Perhaps that appreciation of home is the best part of vacation!

* * *

UPDATE: Happily, Son is back with us now--and, after many hours in the car with a stinging insect of some kind, we've finally pulled into a cheap highway motel for the evening. Home tomorrow by lunchtime!

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Paradise Lost

David and I enjoyed picking blackberries on our walk so much that yesterday morning we decided to go on a much longer hike along the Blue Ridge Parkway. The path leads to a blueberry grove. Neither of us brought ideal shoes or paraphernalia for a real hike--but although the walk was long, it was supposed to be on easy terrain. So we put on our sandals and packed our tote bags with water, peanut butter sandwiches (with delicious local blackberry jam), and empty plastic pint containers to hold our day’s collection of berries.

We started to drive up into the mountains--higher and higher, the views getting more and more beautiful. As a person with a significant fear of heights (which I did not seem to have until my child was born), I occasionally leaned away from the window and held my breath when we rounded a curve with an especially beautiful view.

David and I were engrossed in a deep conversation about how hard it might be to turn our town into a transition town, or a post-carbon city, or hub of relocalization. (More on these thoughts another day.)

As we gained even more height, getting close to the highest point, our car started to make a funny grating sound. There was a smell, not terrible but getting worse. And after a half a second, smoke was pouring out from the hood.

We pulled over and opened the hood. I keep telling David thank you for pulling over on a wide safe slightly-inclining shoulder. The last thing I needed was for our car to look like it was about to explode on the edge of a fatally-dangerous cliff--ur, “scenic lookout.”

Perhaps because we are in North Carolina, generous home of my birth, or perhaps because we were on a road that no one travels who is in a hurry to do anything more time-pressing than reach one of those scenic lookouts or find a hiking trail, many many cars and motorcycles stopped to see if the inhabitants could help. With all these offers of assistance and an absolutely beautiful day to boot--sunny and warm but with a cool breeze--things seemed a lot better than they could be.

Not quite as nice as blueberry picking, though.

Neither David nor I know much about cars. Between the glove-compartment guide to our little 11yo Honda Civic and the advice of one kind couple who pulled over very early on, we figured out that the radiator was overheating and that we could add water to both the reservoir (which was completely empty) and the radiator’s main opening. We let it cool down for a long while, added water, let it cool down some more when the water bubbled and steamed out of the opening, then poured in more water.

After we had finished our sandwiches and enjoyed the peaches we brought for desert, we headed back to the road. We started heading the car down the mountain and all seemed well for a few minutes of coasting downhill.

Then we hit a flat spot and David pressed the gas pedal. The temperature marker shot up. Now we were in a busy swath of road in a less ideal (but not mortally dangerous) spot. We were surprised to discover that the radiator reservoir was still full--is it possible even more full than it had been?

Should we call a tow? Where were we, exactly? David pulled out his cell. No reception. Well, we could flag someone down here if we needed to, but surely we can make it to the ranger station at the base of the mountain. It isn’t that far, is it?

Well, each time we pressed the gas pedal, the car would begin its quick climb toward overheating. We’d pull off, open the hood, and let the car cool off for a while before trying to get a few more yards down the road.

Now, I carry books and knitting absolutely everywhere I go. So does David. But because we were using our tote bags to hold our picnic and drinks, we had unpacked our entertainment.

I suppose that, given the choice between words and stitches versus food and water, I’d rather have the latter.

I suppose. Don’t let me think about that choice too long…

Really, I could have gone without food for the day better than I could go without knitting in this time of crisis. We found an old book of ghost stories from the Outer Banks stuffed in the door of the car, I think from a visit to my parents many many years ago. Hey, the Outer Banks are the right state! Sure. We read about the flaming ship of Ocracoke while we waited.

It took us more than four hours to get down the mountain.

We still did not have cell reception when we hit the ranger station, but they were kind enough to let us use their phone.

It was 4:00 on a Friday afternoon. David is expected back at work in Washington on Monday. Could this be fixed by our departure time, or were we going to have to extend our vacation (heartbreak) and have David miss a relatively important meeting (a more serious issue)?

The tow truck arrived in less than 15 minutes. That is pretty much how long it takes to drive from the center of town to where we were if you are speeding. The tower hooked up our little red car and lifted it onto the massive towing bed. David and I crawled into the cab with him and down the mountain we went. He recommended his favorite fix-it shop which stayed open until 5:30. They would try to fix it as soon as we arrived. If they diagnosed a real problem, it might be at least Monday before they could fix it. Yikes.

The owner and his wife and 5yo son were kind and friendly. We asked the young boy what work he did at the shop. He said earnestly, “Oh, I don’t work here. I play here. That’s because I’m still little.” The young boy drew us pictures, threw paper airplanes with us, and told us all about his band-aids. It made me miss our son so much!

The mechanic was very serious. At some point he walked away from the car and a few minutes later came back with a steaming coffee mug. He looked into it with knitted brow, concentrating deeply and pacing as if he were walking a labyrinth.

After a few moments, he picked up a pair of pliers and pulled out a piece he had been soaking in the fluid in the coffee mug.

His frown made it clear that things did not look easy. Soon, the two mechanics together determined that we might “only” need a new radiator, but we might have “busted the head gasket” or something. This would be a huge overhaul costing a lot and taking some time. Keep your fingers crossed.

We called the one car rental place in town in the moments before they closed. “Sorry--no cars right now. Don’t have a thing.” Yikes. Our little cabin in the woods is miles from here, from everywhere. We have to pick up our son at camp on Sunday. We have to have a car. And this one is our only one—here but also at home.

If we were going to have to pay $4000 for an overhaul and wait a week on top of it, would this be the time to finally break down and buy a new car? How long does it take to get a Prius these days…?

The mechanic continued to study our car. I went for a walk and wandered in the conveniently-located local yarn shop (!), independent book store, and natural food store. I was so worried about what we were going to figure out for the next few days that I did not really pay attention even to the yarn. (When is the last time that happened?)

I walked back. They had found a radiator available very nearby, gone to pick it up, installed it, and were testing it.

We played with their very funny young son. When we told the 5yo what a great artist he was, he said in all earnestness, “Oh, I’m not an artist. I’m a KID.”

And suddenly they were taking our little car out for a test ride, up some of the big hills in town. It came back cool and humming--no smoke, no smell, no busted head gasket. Beautiful!

So the day had a happy ending, although all those “there’s-not-a-care-in-the-world” thoughts that we had been cultivating were totally shot.

We arrived back at 8pm with bread, candles, and a bottle of red wine so we could celebrate Shabbat.

But we were zonked. We made some super-quick pasta and drank beer while watching the Olympics opening ceremony. I know it is weird, but our plan is to celebrate Shabbat tonight, instead.

* * *

I think we’re going to try the mountain and the blueberry hike this morning.

This time, I’m packing my knitting.

Shabbat Shalom. Peace.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Motel Okra

On our drive down to North Carolina, we spent one night in a roadside motel. When we woke up in the morning and walked in the light to the office to turn in our keys and fill up our coffee mugs, I could not believe my eyes:

What a great place to plant this beautiful plant (which yields my favorite vegetable!):

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Eating Locally in the Mountains of North Carolina

David and I are loving being in our quiet little cabin by the lake. We've been lucky enough to find lots of sources for local food: at an independent snazzy (expensive) grocery called Poppies, at a very inexpensive farmer's market in the town of Brevard with lots of vendors who remind me of home (which was a small town on the other side of the state), at a dirt-cheap little farmstand, and for absolutely free on a berry-covered mountainside trail off the Blue Ridge Parkway.

For a late brunch, we made shrimp and grits with NC shrimp bought at the grocery, grits from Son's camp (and ground by previous campers), and tomatoes bought at a little tent in front of one of the houses down the road from our cabin. The shrimp and tomatoes mixture had a little local butter and the grits were seasoned with local goat cheese.

For dinner, we cooked out on the grill on the back deck. We cooked local ground bison burgers and served them on buns from a local bakery, topping them with tomatoes. Local green beans and roasted corn rounded out the meal--and as a special addition we added a few of our lemon cucumbers that we brought for car snacks.

There is nothing better than roasted corn! Just throw it on the grill for ten or fifteen minutes without any shucking or anything. After it is cooked, the silks peel off incredibly easily.

We washed our meal down with local and organic Pisgah porter:

Dessert? Wild blackberries we picked on a slow easy hike through the mountains. (Note the scale: these are intense little berries in a tiny bowl the size of a saucer, resting on a stool--not big ones in a regular bowl sitting on a table.)

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Asheville's Charms

Early yesterday afternoon, David, Son and I drove into the very cool little city of Asheville, North Carolina. We had such a wonderful experience here last year that we thought we’d stop again for the day this year.

Lunch was first on our schedule. We started where we started last year: Laughing Seed Café, a fantastic vegetarian restaurant. After a late on-the-road dinner last night where I ate nothing particularly good for me, it was a pleasure to look over the menu and see beautiful vegetable after beautiful vegetable. And when my choice arrived, the taste of the seasonal veggies, black beans, and rice with a sesame-ginger sauce was out of this world—yet totally grounded as well. Highly recommended.

My favorite part of the meal is something I ordered last year as well: a fresh basil martini!

Last year we had the incredible fortune to completely fortuitously run into my brother and his girlfriend at this restaurant. We had no idea they’d be in the state and they had no idea we would be here.

This year, we planned things a bit and my brother joined us for lunch. Son absolutely glows whenever he sees one of his uncles (David has one brother as do I), and my brother’s wacky humor and ability to be as silly as a 9yo definitely helped make up for the 8 hours in the car Son had just had to live through.

* * *

We spent the afternoon exploring the galleries and shops in town.

I love all the street art in Asheville.

My favorites stores, of course, were the knitting stores and the amazing book store.

At Purl’s, which has moved since last year, I especially loved the handmade pottery buttons. Pictures to be inserted sometime soon.

At Earth Guild, I experienced a pang of serious lust for Kromski rigid heddle loom in the largest size. I managed to resist any really major purposes, but we came out with some black dishcloth cotton to make martini-glass dishcloths as well as some lovely natural dark brown alpaca laceweight.

My brother and I also loved going in the small Scottish store and admired all the Clan Cameron stuff. The store also displays many gorgeous sweaters that left me itching to start yet another sweater. (But... um... I have three sweaters on the needles at the moment, all very different from each other. Three, despite the hot weather. Details when we return to Takoma Park. And my plan is to cast on a new lace shawl tomorrow, to boot.)

* * *

The local independent book store has a knack for putting every book on my bulging nightstand either in the front window or on the front table. Every book in those locations that is not on my nightstand obviously belongs on my nightstand, right?

One thing that David found in a special display was especially exciting to me: my book! (Feel free to check out the link in the sidebar.)

The store has a great selection of buttons, magnets, and bumper stickers of the liberal persuasion. My favorite:


* * *

Although we wanted to eat a locavore meal at the Early Girl Café like we did last year, we didn’t think to make reservations early in the day and the wait for dinner—a wait we would be spending with a child already saying he was about to pass out from hunger—was going to be at least 90 minutes. Perhaps we can return next week after camp is over.

So we went to a Middle Eastern place around the corner with good food, good live music, and a belly dancer that Son embarrassedly said reminded him of a veela. (My boy is growing up!)

* * *

After dinner, we said goodbye to my brother and headed off to our little cabin by the lake in Brevard. In the dark as we pulled our little car into what we hoped was really a parking spot, I started thinking how much I need this quiet week. As much as I love my son, we’ve had a more intense few months lately than we’ve ever had before. I am increasingly impatient with him, and he is quite verbal in his response. I hope this week will be not only a break for both of us but a time where I can contemplate how to make things better—and come back at the end of the week to enjoying the parenting of my amazing child .

Sunday, August 03, 2008

On the Way Out

We are about to head out of town for the mountains of North Carolina. Son is going to spend the week at the same camp he went to last year, where they grow 75% of their own food and where I went when I was a girl. David and I are renting a cabin about a mile away--where we will knit without interruption, read without interruption, and talk without interruption. And anything else we can think of. (Any suggestions?)

* * *

Leaving gardens at the beginning of August is insane. In order to prepare, we did a sweep and picked everything fruiting--whether it was ripe or not.

This photo, taken by our Son, is called "The Back"--in honor of the little postage stamp of native soil you see as well as the view of Papa's bottom:

We picked an enormous amount given how small the plots are. Here is a wee sampling:

The lemon cukes are delicious and beautiful.

* * *

After harvesting, we put up food like we were preparing for the winter in one weekend.

We made 8 half-pints of peach jam, 3 quarts of dried tomatoes, and and 4 pints of bread-and-butter cucumbers from seconds we picked up on the farm tour. We sheared all our basil and made pesto to freeze. We dried our hot peppers (which we will grind later), and put aside another quart of dried mint for tea.

Then this morning's post-garden haul: 10 pints of green tomato pickle, 3 pints of pickled green beans, 4 pints of bread-and-butter zucchini, and 4 pints of pickled lemon cukes (seasoned with lemon verbena).

I'm so sick of that steaming-hot canner--but I love looking at the colorful jars we produced today!

* * *

Local lunch in the midst of all of this preserving, eaten while we were too preoccupied to take pictures:

We sauteed loose sausage from "our" farm with the first of our baby eggplants, some zucchini, and a tomato. Simple--but perfectly sustaining.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Day at the Farms

This year's county farm tour was a two day event for us.

On Saturday, David and Son headed out while I enjoyed some quiet work at home. In addition to bringing home plenty of vegetables, they got the opportunity to visit our county's beautiful alpacas:

* * *

They also picked a couple of quarts of the most luscious blackberries I've had--well, since we picked at the same place last year. Blackberry jam is my all-time favorite spread for my toast, but after I had one of these, I knew it would be impossible to pass up enjoying them fresh this time.

* * *

On Sunday, I joined them. We picked up some more bulk veggies--including tomatoes for drying. Then we headed off for the relatively new winery in the county.

And here we had our local meal of the week. David and I sat on the open terrace, under a shady umbrella, enjoying an official wine tasting as well as a plate of silver goat cheese from a neighboring farm. The wine was excellent, the cool breeze a lovely change from the last few steamy days, and the sophistication factor immense (especially after Son headed off with a few other kids to play in the vineyard). Peace.

Yes--I realized after I returned home (still a-glow from the wine-tasting) that I had violated my July rules without even realizing it. Sigh. Delicious, all the same. And local.


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