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Monday, October 7, 2013

farm food

Yesterday we took a trip out to our beautiful CSA farm for their member appreciation day. I wasn't sure what to expect, but the gathering was more intimate and thought generating than I expected. We first gathered in a circle with the farmers and apprentices. Everyone shared something about their favorite vegetables or favorite farm living experiences. The apprentices talked about the camaraderie found in communal living and shared hard work.

Then we ate a feast prepared mainly with farm crops. Eggplant, tomato and polenta casserole, oat veggie fritters, lentil salad, green salad, beet salad, apple crisp made with "feral" apple trees, was nice to eat and talk apprentices and with other members, some of whom have belonged to the farm since the beginning almost 20 years ago.

Finally, after brushing away yellow jackets and petting a few dogs, we took a farm tour. I met Richard the carrot tumbler and stood in the hot onion-curing greenhouse. The weather could not have been more gorgeous, with golden autumn sun and bright blue sky overhead. Some people diverged for the zendo tour held at the same time, in the big field behind the apprentice barn.

One woman told me that with the shorter days, they are often picking lettuce for an hour in early dawn light before the sun rises. It's cold in the mountain valley and their fingers get chilled.

This morning I woke up to rain. As I sautéed some beet greens with an egg for breakfast, I thought about those beautiful farmers, already picking in the rainy morning gloom so that I could eat this fresh food grown from the earth. They do have tractors, but they do most everything by hand. Planting, sowing, endless weeding, hoeing, harvesting, picking, sorting, washing, packing. Nourishing the land they work on and all the people they feed.

Sunday, October 6, 2013


Inspiration tends to come in waves for me. Right now, I'm feeling re-motivated to strive toward a lower-footprint lifestyle. For the environment, for peace of mind, for my family's financial "bottom line", for the kids' future...there are endless reasons abstract and concrete, selfish and altruistic.

Here are three blogs whose archives yield a wealth of ideas and inspiration.

This week's mini-mission: Eat all the fresh locally-grown, organic vegetables in my fridge before they become food for the chickens.

We belong to a wonderful CSA, a farm-share. The boys think it sounds conceited when I say my farm, but I think of it that way, and I don't think the farmers would mind. It is a beautiful spot tucked into the Coast Range about 45 minutes from town. Once a week, they deliver boxes of veggies picked that morning to drop-off sites on members' front porches.

Every week we pick up a gorgeous box packed with vegetables, which we carry home in cloth bags and eat for the week. However, the things that are "easy" or that we would tend to buy anyway (like carrots, salads, and spinach) go quickly, which vegetables we are not quite as crazy about or less sure how to cook tend to linger (think fennel root, spicy radishes, and eggplant).

Minou's solution to our Thursday bounty of produce is to make soup, and it is a good one. However, some things just don't lend themselves to it (again, fennel root, spicy radishes, eggplant...)

I can't let this bounty go to waste. I'll let you know how it goes.

What is inspiring you these days?

Saturday, October 5, 2013

simple saturday

My weeks feel so busy. When the weekend comes, I am happy to be at home. I try to schedule as little as possible out and about, while remaining open to possibilities.

Saturday morning is also typically when Minou & I clean the house, an activity that I don't necessarily enjoy but which yields a wonderful simple pleasure: order and peacefulness. I can think more clearly and feel calmer when the house is clean and organized.

Lately the slow drift of "stuff" has accumulated to the point that piles are the entry, laundry, books and papers. That's my cue that besides putting things away, it may be time to look at those piles and triage the non-essentials right out of the house to create more space and room to breathe.

What are you doing this Saturday?

Friday, October 4, 2013

frugal friday

Here's my frugalista act for the day: repurposing tights. It's that kind of weather now, and when I dug out my old black tights I noticed that two of the three pairs had runs and large holes in the toes. Pity.

New tights are not a huge expense, but it's frustrating how quickly they run and there are no stores near my home that sell this sort of clothing staple item (maybe pantyhose at the drugstore, but no thanks).

On my way out the door, I happened to notice the small pile of G2's ballet items that I had been planning to donate to his former dance school now that he isn't taking classes. And in the pile were...two pairs of Capezio tights. One was a little worn around the knees and the feet had been cut out. The other was slightly larger and almost new.

I tried and lo and behold, they worked. What is amazing is that they stretch, keep their shape (no sagging), and are very comfortable after 2-3 days of wearing straight. Keep in mind, these were purchased for a young teen boy who was less than 5 feet tall and weighed under 100 pounds. They are being worn by his mom, who is over half a foot taller and 50 pounds heavier.

On second thought, I decided to keep his ballet shoes too (they fit).

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

hump day

I have a coworker who likes to tease on Wednesdays, "What day is it? C'mon, you know what day it is...". At first I had no idea what the joke was about. There are many benefits to not having a TV.

Today is that midweek hump for us Monday-Friday folks.

And here is something I like to do any day of the week: walk to work.

2.5 miles, not too close and not too far.

On the way to work, striding along late: picked up by my friend & coworker and made it on time.

On the way home, stopped at the library for returns and reserve pick-ups, and had a great conversation all the way home (I held off until last spring on getting a cell phone, but it does have its benefits).

How was your hump day?

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

fabulous fall

It's here. Today was one of those interesting weather days we get in the Pacific Northwest. I managed to walk to work before the rain hit, then looked up periodically through the day to see pouring rain and puddles on the roof, then blue skies with puffy white clouds, then sideways rain sending yellow leaves scattering, then golden sunlight with deep gray thunderheads looming in the west. So changeable.

Here are some things making this fall fabulous:

  • A very good friend coming to visit next week... I can't wait to see her and spend time together
  • Minou making waffles for desserts
  • Family dinners with laughter, sharing a few stories, and no sniping
  • Camaraderie, friendship, and learning with the fabulous nurses I work with
  • Wearing knee boots and tights daily
  • The amazing, caring, dedicated, and intelligent teen boys I'm privileged to mother
  • My husband's patience with my shorter-day grouchy moods
  • Jogging again, ever so gentle a start
  • Minou's healing (kidney stones are the worst)
  •  Hot soup, hot tea, and especially hot coffee
  • Lunch dates and walks with my mom
  • The gift of Guinness for Andrew's Day
  • A trip to the art store with Minou and G2
  • Starting a sketchbook: one a day
  • Possibilities for G1: too soon to mention 
  • No homework (unless it's self-imposed)
  • Downpours while warm and cozy indoors
  • CSA boxes full of fall vegetables
  • A big brown dog with soft ears at my feet
  • A good high school start for G2
  • We're getting a new oven and can bake again
And that's all for tonight. What are three fabulous things in your life this fall?

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Mono no aware

I remember a term from long-ago Japanese art history classes: mono-no-aware. It means "the pathos of things", and conveys a sense of the ephemeral nature of the world.

It is the term for what I feel at this point in the fall. Rain comes down and leaves with it. Darkness leaves later in the morning and comes more quickly in the evening. The season has changed.

A reflective time...

What are you looking forward to?

What do you think about the most?

What are your worries?

What are the small pleasures of each day?

With who can you share your thoughts and dreams?