Thursday, July 31, 2008

Summer marches on

Or should I say "summer." Honestly, if my garden wasn't complaining, then I wouldn't either. I don't mind the overcast as long as it's above 60 degrees. I don't mind a little rain in the summer to help water the plants. But when it's grey enough that the plants are sleepy, then I have an issue.

Even so, West of the Cascades the farms are coming through so I will be able to can cherries and peaches, enjoying the bounty that makes it over the mountains.

My father and stepmother will be visiting us next month. They arrive in about two weeks and I am somewhat nervous. While *I* am proud of what we have accomplished in the last three years, there are some values we do not share and I worry about how they will perceive our house. I've never been a tidy housekeeper and my home, while very clean compared to my singleton homes, is overrun by three small children-- three small homeschooled children. We're always here. And it shows.

All these projects I have in the to do box, I want them done now, or at least before they arrive. I know how to do this stuff, just not...when.

As of late we've been making connections with other homeschoolers in the harbor we hadn't met before. I think we have enough people to make a pretty sound group, so I am happy with that. It doesn't take a lot of parents, particularly if they have more than one child. Things are moving along nicely, just at a boring-to-read summer pace.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

I like it when I get to cheat

We spent Monday with the C-family, where we ate a light picnic snack, then split into groups for cycling or living history tours. Afterwards we regrouped for a tour of Tacoma's Rose garden. It was lovely.

Anyway, I get to cheat because Niki wrote about it here. Enjoy!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Kitchen More Functional

A friend of mine's blog provided the last "aha!" for our kitchen drying endeavor. P-daddy and I know where we'll be hanging our wild-crafted and gardened herbs to dry now, and we're looking forward to it.

I canned two batches today, a Strawberry-lemon marmalade and a Rainier Cherry-Raspberry conserve.

The sprouts are coming along nicely. Between my new sproutmaster and a library book, I fixed the final two problems I'd been having and the sprouts are doing GREAT.

I do have a homeschooling post coming but I am currently obsessed with food production and preservation.

I am not alone. I have been getting a lot of traffic from RegularMom because of her recent awesome post "America's National Eating Disorder." Check it out.

Friday, July 11, 2008

VS the links

My current project involves making some practical, measurable changes in our lives. Putting our money where our mouths are, so to speak. Rather than going into boring details right now (well, the details probably aren't boring to the people interested in self-sufficiency), I will just list a few links that have been integral to the online portion of my immersion. Most of our home time, however, has been spent in our woodlot, in our garden and in our kitchen, where we have been practicing our skills clearing, growing and canning.

Living in the season out here in the PNW requires the utmost patience during the long blue, and fervent action during the wild flash of summer. I'm game!

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Local Harvest Indeed

Our journey to voluntary simplicity has been slow. In the past three years, we've made huge changes, anyone actually walking this path knows it's like peeling an onion. The more you release, the more layers you encounter. My two biggest stumbling blocks involve screen time and coffee. I am also not the tidiest of people, so it all works together to slow down the process.

One of the areas where we do quite well is food sourcing. Again, it's always a journey and we're constantly learning of new places, new farmers. It's almost like a collector's hobby in some respects, where people who are into whole foods sit around and talk about their bevy of farmers like a D&D addict proudly displays his characters. I have hesitantly traded in the CSA I loved (two cities away) for our own kitchen garden and local farmers' markets. We gave up personal milk delivery for a local raw milk farmer whose price point was identical to the pasteurized stuff. We're finally part of a co-op that orders in true bulk commodities. We're getting there. Slowly.

If we were better at it, I'd probably be less enthusiastic about last night's dinner. But it was nice. P-daddy went on a fishing trip up a river in Monroe and came back with a giant Chinook Salmon. We served that with an organic wild rice blend, rainbow chard from our garden and green beans P-daddy picked up from the farmer's market. And the children ate like piglets.

Summer movies start this week

One of the cool things about GH that I like so much is the heavy use the downtown green spaces see-- with things that welcome all the family. They have the schedule up for the Summer Movies at Skansie now:

Monday, July 07, 2008

The Labyrinth

This weekend, a dear friend and I went here:

We hadn't planned it; we were on a set of rather mundane errands. But we stopped by nonetheless, and I for one am very grateful.

The labyrinth has changed much since this picture was taken. There is a lot of first-nations inspired art dotting the perimeter. There is a pagan altar in the center now, clearly being used to leave small token gifts from visitors.

What startled me so about the experience was not the wonderful, welcoming hostess who assured us the labyrinth was available to the public and invited us to tour the bed and breakfast. The hostess whose welcome touched me most was the doe who followed us in. She'd been standing in the road, eating blackberry greens when we arrived. By the time we started the labyrinth, she was waiting for us.

I'd just passed over the surrender stone at the entrance when I looked up and she was resting at the head of the labyrinth, directly opposite us. In the picture above, she'd be laying on the fern in the center top. She watched us curiously for several minutes as we wended our way, completely aware of her safety and belonging. Satisfied that we were settling in, she went back to her lunch.

I admit that her presence was so distracting to me that I didn't "do" the labyrinth properly. I kept staring at her, wherever she moved, to make sure she was still there.

But then, maybe on this day, that was the point.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

It's been a fast forward week.

The tall ships sailed in today but we chose not to go because of the weather. In the morning, it was actual rain, so I found it soothing to my garden and my heart. It wasn't the bleh rain of the winter months so I could handle it.

The garden is looking happy; not a 4th of July garden, but at least a summer garden. We may get something out of it yet. We're harvesting greens right now and I can't believe it, but the onions are thinking of flowering. Our poor little tomatoes! We did everything this year the local county exchange told use to do, using the bed against the warm wall of the house, the red bedding materials, the best starts we could find-- but nothing will flourish if you don't have sun.

One of my favorite books is Homestead Year, and during that summer a woman sets up a suburban homestead in the year Mt St Helen's really blew. They had a resulting cool, late growing year as well. It gives me a little hope. We even used her method this year for planting potatoes. (Lay em down, toss straw over top.)

The herb-rose garden is the one kicking my butt. It's the one that was in the worst shape when we got here-- it was formed to look bare as can be, with plenty of cedar bark mulch around a few lonely trees and bushes. Transforming that into a lush garden of herbs, roses and towering flowers has been more of a challenge than I thought it would present. But as of yesterday I got all the tall weeds out, now I have to go back and find a way to get rid of the hundreds of blackberry vine leads poking up through the landscaping tarp they used to originally lay the bed. Pulling blackberries here reminds me--every time-- of the biblical crown of thorns. They're vicious thorns, strong as and thinner than established rose canes, and they pierce every glove I have ever tried, including leather. It's a nasty job.

Tomorrow we have our 4th of July cookout and beach trek. I hope the weather holds because I am not going to be hiking down there in the rain. Eek!